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Soviet Union (USSR)

Monthly Review Volume 69, Number 3 (July-August 2017)

July-August 2017 (Volume 69, Number 3)

For this special issue, MR has invited some of the most profound left thinkers in the world to reflect on the legacy of revolutions and counterrevolutions around the world since 1917. Naturally, these authors do not all offer similar perspectives or come to the same conclusions. Nor should they—the historical issues are too complex and the human stakes are too high. | more…

Children of the poor celebrate the first anniversary of the October revolution

The October Revolution and the Survival of Capitalism

The October Revolution was the first such event in human history that was theoretically conceived and executed according to a plan. It is this theoretical comprehension of the underlying historical conjuncture that explains the revolution’s sweep and energy, the profound changes it wrought in the world, and the extent to which it threatened the very existence of capitalism. | more…

Petrograders examine campaign posters for elections to the Constituent Assembly

The Great Struggle to Escape Capitalism

Post-revolutionary societies, in their efforts to combat counterrevolution, have always been confronted with their own contradictions, and with the persistent threat that an exploiting class could reemerge. Instead of the intended socialization and democratization, in many places what resulted was instead state ownership and stultifying bureaucratization of both the economy and the polity. | more…

Demonstrators supporting the Constituent Assembly on Palace Square

As the World Turned Upside Down

Left Intellectuals in Yugoslavia, 1988–90

Throughout Eastern Europe, there was an unleashing of pent-up questions, hopes, and fears brewing for decades. There was a sense that the ground was trembling underneath these experiments in socialism. It was clear to most of us that socialism could only survive through radical democratization. | more…

Postcard depicting heroes of the October revolution in Petrograd

The Western Left and the Russian Revolution

For a century, the counterrevolutionary reaction to the events of October 1917 has arguably been the most determining ideological factor in Western politics. Today the victory of that counterrevolution is complete, but Western powers still need their inherited antithesis, in changing form, as self-justification. | more…

Presidium of the Second Northern Oblast Congress of Soviets

Bertrand Russell and the Socialism That Wasn’t

Russell was both a liberal and a socialist, a combination perfectly comprehensible in his time, but almost unthinkable today. As a liberal, he opposed concentrations of power in all its military, governmental, and religious manifestations. But as a socialist, he equally opposed the concentrations of power stemming from the private ownership of the means of production, which therefore had to be put under social control. | more…

The Soviet delegation arrives at Brest-Litovsk. Lev Trotsky is in the center surrounded by German officers

Fake News on Russia and Other Official Enemies

The New York Times, 1917–2017

Mainstream media outlets have recently expressed their dismay over the rise and spread of “fake news,” taking it as an obvious truth that what they themselves provide is straightforward, unbiased, fact-based reporting. They do offer such news, but they also provide a steady flow of false or misleading information, often supplied by the national security state, other branches of government, and sites of corporate power. | more…

Harbors Rich in Ships: The Selected Revolutionary Writings of Miroslav Krleža, Radical Luminary of Modern World Literature

Harbors Rich in Ships: The Selected Revolutionary Writings of Miroslav Krleža, Radical Luminary of Modern World Literature

Miroslav Krleža was a giant of Yugoslav literature, yet remarkably little of his writing has appeared in English. In a body of work that spans more than five dozen books, including novels, short stories, plays, poetry, and essays, Krleža steadfastly pursued a radical humanism and artistic integrity. Harbors Rich in Ships gives English-speaking readers an unprecedented opportunity to appreciate the astonishing breadth of Krleža’s literary creations. Beautifully translated by Željko Cipriš, this collection of seven representative early texts introduces a new audience to three stories from Krleža’s renowned antimilitarist book, The Croatian God Mars; an autobiographical sketch; a one-act play; a story from his collection of short stories, One Thousand and One Deaths; and his signature drama, The Glembays, a satirical account of the crime-ridden origins of one of Zageb’s most aristocratic families. | more…

Russia and the Long Transition from Capitalism to Socialism

Russia and the Long Transition from Capitalism to Socialism

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. | more…

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. | more…