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Soviet Union

Russia and the Long Transition from Capitalism to Socialism

Russia and the Long Transition from Capitalism to Socialism

Forthcoming in June 2016

Out of early twentieth-century Russia came the world’s first significant effort to build a modern revolutionary society. According to Marxist economist Samir Amin, the great upheaval that once produced the Soviet Union also produced a movement away from capitalism—a long transition that continues today. In seven concise, provocative chapters, Amin deftly examines the trajectory of Russian capitalism, the Bolshevik Revolution, the collapse of the Soviet Union, the possible future of Russia—and, by extension, the future of socialism itself.

Amin manages to combine an analysis of class struggle with geopolitics—both crucial to understanding Russia’s complex political history. He first looks at the development (or lack thereof) of Russian capitalism. He sees Russia’s geopolitical isolation as the reason its capitalist empire developed so differently from Western Europe, and the reason for Russia’s perceived “backwardness.” Yet Russia’s unique capitalism proved to be the rich soil in which the Bolsheviks were able to take power, and Amin covers the rise and fall of the revolutionary Soviet system. Finally, in a powerful chapter on Ukraine and the rise of global fascism, Amin lays out the conditions necessary for Russia to recreate itself, and perhaps again move down the long road to socialism. Samir Amin’s great achievement in this book is not only to explain Russia’s historical tragedies and triumphs, but also to temper our hopes for a quick end to an increasingly insufferable capitalism.

Praise for Samir Amin:

What is splendid in Amin’s writing … is his lucidity of expression, his clear consistency of approach, and, above all his absolutely unwavering condemnation of the ravages of capital and of bourgeois ideology in all its forms … Amin remains an essential point of reference, and an inspiration.

—Bill Bowring, Marx & Philosophy Review of Books

Samir Amin was born in Egypt in 1931 and received his Ph.D. in economics in Paris in 1957. He is director of the Third World Forum in Dakar, Senegal. His numerous works include The Law of Worldwide Value, Eurocentrism, The World We Wish to See, and The Implosion of Contemporary Capitalism.

Late Soviet Ecology and the Planetary Crisis

Soviet ecology presents us with an extraordinary set of historical ironies. On the one hand, the USSR in the 1930s and ’40s violently purged many of its leading ecological thinkers and seriously degraded its environment in the quest for rapid industrial expansion. The end result has often been described as a kind of “ecocide,” symbolized by the Chernobyl nuclear accident, the assault on Lake Baikal, and the drying up of the Aral Sea, as well as extremely high levels of air and water pollution. On the other hand, the Soviet Union developed some of the world’s most dialectical contributions to ecology, revolutionizing science in fields such as climatology, while also introducing pioneering forms of conservation. Aside from its famous zapovedniki, or nature reserves for scientific research, it sought to preserve and even to expand its forests.

Our right to be Marxist-Leninists

The 70th anniversary of the Great Patriotic War will be commemorated the day after tomorrow, May 9. Given the time difference, while I write these lines, the soldiers and officials of the Army of the Russian Federation, full of pride, will be parading through Moscow’s Red Square with their characteristic quick, military steps.… Lenin was a brilliant revolutionary strategist who did not hesitate in assuming the ideas of Marx and implementing them in an immense and only partly industrialized country, whose proletariat party became the most radical and courageous on the planet in the wake of the greatest slaughter that capitalism had caused in the world, where for the first time tanks, automatic weapons, aviation and poison gases made an appearance in wars, and even a legendary cannon capable of launching a heavy projectile more than 100 kilometers made its presence felt in the bloody conflict.

Reconstructing Lenin: An Intellectual Biography

Reconstructing Lenin: An Intellectual Biography

Vladimir Ilyich Lenin is among the most enigmatic and influential figures of the twentieth century. While his life and work are crucial to any understanding of modern history and the socialist movement, generations of writers on the left and the right have seen fit to embalm him endlessly with superficial analysis or dreary dogma. Now, after the fall of the Soviet Union and “actually-existing” socialism, it is possible to consider Lenin afresh, with sober senses trained on his historical context and how it shaped his theoretical and political contributions. Reconstructing Lenin, four decades in the making and now available in English for the first time, is an attempt to do just that.

Philosophical Arabesques

Philosophical Arabesques

Cloth, 448 pages
ISBN: 1-58367-102-1
Released: June 2005

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Bukharin’s Philosophical Arabesques was written while he was imprisoned in the Lubyanka Prison in Moscow, facing a trial on charges of treason and the likelihood of execution. After the death of Lenin, Bukharin co-operated with Stalin for a time. Once Stalin’s supremacy was assured he began eliminating all potential rivals. For Bukharin, the process was to end with his confession before the Soviet court, facing the threat that his young family would be killed along with him if he did not.

While awaiting his death, Bukharin wrote prolifically. He considered Philosophical Arabesques as the most important of his prison writings. In its pages, he covers the full range of issues in Marxist philosophy—the sources of knowledge, the nature of truth, freedom and necessity, the relationship of Hegelian and Marxist dialectic. The project constitutes a defense of the genuine legacy of Lenin’s Marxism against the use of his memory to legitimate totalitarian power.

Consigned to the Kremlin archives for a half-century after Bukharin’s execution, this work is now being published for the first time in English. It will be an essential reference work for scholars of Marxism and the Russian revolution and a landmark in the history of prison writing.

The scope of this work alone earns it a place alongside that other great Marxist work written in political incarceration, Antonio Gramsciʼs Prison Notebooks … It is a work of real philosophical interest, but also of historical importance since, among other things, it underlines the tragedy of Bukharin as a historical figure.

—Craig Brandist, Radical Philosophy

Forty-nine years old, a condemned man, Bukharin remained ever the intellectual, full of fire and fight for his youthful ideals even as his spirit and life’s work were under assault … Against all odds, Bukharin argued for a restoration of the humanist and democratic potential of the Soviet system, which would stand as the principal bulwark against fascist barbarism … Philosophical Arabesques was Bukharin’s respectful reply to Lenin, at once a defense of Leninist orthodoxy on ontological and epistemological issues and a challenge to the petrified official Marxism of the Stalinists. He believed that what he was doing was extremely valuable and wrote to his wife, “The most important thing is that the philosophical work not be lost. I worked on it for a long time and put a great deal into it; it is a very mature work in comparison to my earlier writings, and, in contrast to them, dialectical from beginning to end.” … Bukharin’s engagement with dialectics as a method—his focus on change and contradiction, on overcoming historically generated social institutions and intellectual practices that have taken on the appearance of natural, fixed, permanent realities—may have an unrecognized relevance more than ever in our one-dimensional present.

—Ronald Grigor Suny, The Nation

A highly significant historical document, and anyone interested in the Russian revolution and its fate owes a debt of gratitude to all those who were instrumental in recovering it from secret police archives and making it available in English.

—Lars T. Lih, Science & Society

Will be welcomed by those interested in the history of Marxism and the former Soviet Union, as well as those concerned to develop alternatives to global capitalism. Summing Up: Recommended.


Table of Contents

Introduction: A Voice from the Dead by Helena Sheehan

Editor’s Note



  1. The Reality of the World and the Intrigues of Solipsism
  2. Acceptance and Non-Acceptance of the World
  3. Things in Themselves and Their Cognizability
  4. Space and Time
  5. Mediated Cognition
  6. The Abstract and the Concrete
  7. Senses, Ideas, and Concepts
  8. Living Nature and Its Treatment in Art
  9. Rational Thinking, Dialectical Thinking, and Direct Contemplation
  10. Practice in General and Practice in the Theory of Cognition
  11. Practical, Theoretical, and Aesthetic Treatment of the World and Their Unity
  12. The Original Stands of Materialism and Idealism
  13. Hylozoism and Panpsychism
  14. Hinduist Mysticism and West European Philosophy
  15. The So-called Philosophy of Identity
  16. The Sins of Mechanistic Materialism
  17. The General Patterns and Links of Being
  18. Teleology
  19. Freedom and Necessity
  20. Organisms
  21. Contemporary Natural Science and Dialectical Materialism
  22. The Sociology of Thinking: On Work and Thinking as Two General Historical Categories
  23. The Sociology of Thinking: On the Method of Production and the Method of Representation
  24. So-called Racial Thinking
  25. Social Positions, Thinking, and Emotions
  26. The Object of Philosophy
  27. The Subject of Philosophy
  28. The Interaction between Subject and Object
  29. Society as an Object and a Subject of Possession
  30. Truth: On the Concept of Truth and Its Criterion
  31. Truth: On Absolute and Relative Truth
  32. Well-Being
  33. Hegel’s Dialectical Idealism as a System
  34. Hegel’s Dialectics and Marx’s Dialectics
  35. Dialectics as Science and Dialectics as Art
  36. Science and Philosophy
  37. Evolution
  38. Theory and History
  39. Social Ideals
  40. Lenin the Philosopher



Nikolai Bukharin was one of the most talented of the leaders of the Bolshevik Party that led the Russian Revolution of 1917, a leader of the Soviet government, and the author of important theoretical works on Marxist theory. He was executed for treason in 1938. Helena Sheehan teaches the history of ideas at Dublin City University and is the author of Marxism and the Philosophy of Science: A Critical History.