NIKOLAI BUKHARIN: The Last Years by Roy A. Medvedev


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Following his assault on Stalin in Let History Judge, Medvedev quickly became established as the leading Marxist critic of the Soviet regime from within. Since then, his preoccupation with Stalinism as a malevolent distortion of Lenin's legacy has hardened into dogma. As a subject, Bukharin--the youthful Bolshevik far-leftist who became the symbol of moderation through his advocacy of slow collectivization--is perfect for Medvedev's purposes. Medvedev recapitulates the years between 1930--when Stalin's bureaucratic victory over his ""rightist"" adversaries, including Bukharin, was completed--and 1936, when Bukharin's famous trial and execution for treason took place. Aside from a few occasions when Medvedev shows that Bukharin's ideas had some support in Lenin's writings (proof in his eyes of their validity), he deals with his subject on a personal level, showing Stalin to be the perpetual aggressor and Bukharin a thoroughly nice guy (which is probably so) who was reluctant to continue the fight after 1930. As for Bukharin's trial ""confession,"" Medvedev is content to assume that Bukharin was intentionally confessing to contradictory things in order to invalidate his confession as a whole; thus, he can avoid the more difficult task of trying to make sense of it as others (notably Arthur Koestler and Maurice Merleau-Ponty) have done. The motive for this short study is undoubtedly the current campaign in the USSR by Bukharin's descendants to rehabilitate his reputation; but beyond its value as a document in that struggle, it has no real biographical or historical value. Coming after Stephen Cohen's fine Bukharin and the Bolshevik Revolution (1973), this cursory polemical sketch is particularly unnecessary.

Pub Date: Sept. 22nd, 1980
ISBN: 0393301109
Publisher: Norton