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Lenin

Lenin

Responding to Catastrophe, Forging Revolution

by Paul Le Blanc

A modern take on a revolutionary icon, by an acclaimed scholar of communist history

'Brings out the practical activism, principled politics, and revolutionary patience crucial to organizing the oppressed on a rapidly over-heating planet' - Jodi Dean

'Crackling with intellectual life' - Lars T. Lih

Vladimir Lenin lies in a tomb in Moscow's Red Square. History has not been kind to this Russian leader, his teachings reviled by modern mainstream politics. But in today's capitalist society, riven by class inequality and imperialist wars, perhaps it is worth returning to this communist icon's demand for 'Peace, Land and Bread', and his radical understanding of democracy.

Lenin was wrestling with the question of 'what is to be done?' when facing the catastrophes of his own time. Against the odds, the Bolshevik party succeeded in rejecting both the corrupt and decaying Romanov dynasty, as well as the capitalist economic system which had started to take root in Russia.

To understand how this happened, and what we can learn from him today, Paul Le Blanc takes us through Lenin's dynamic revolutionary thought, how he worked as part of a larger collective and how he centred the labor movement in Russia and beyond, uncovering a powerful form of democracy that could transform our activism today.

Paul Le Blanc is an activist and acclaimed American historian teaching at La Roche University, Pennsylvania. A conscientious objector to the Vietnam War, his politics were at odds with the establishment from a young age. He has written extensively on the history of the labor and socialist movements of the United States and Europe, including books on Lenin, Trotsky, Luxemburg and the importance of the revolutionary collective.

'A welcome gift: guidance from a generous, experienced, and wise comrade when we need it most. Highlighting Lenin's flexibility and cultivation of collective leadership, Le Blanc brings out the practical activism, principled politics, and revolutionary patience crucial to organizing the oppressed on a rapidly over-heating planet.'

- Jodi Dean, author of 'Comrade: An Essay on Political Belonging'

'Crackling with intellectual life … Paul confronts opposing views, brings in evocative quotations from dead witnesses and living scholars, and wrestles with the most difficult interpretive questions. Don’t read this book to learn ‘the truth about Lenin’, read it to enter into Lenin’s world and to face the choices that he too faced.'

- Lars T. Lih, author of 'Lenin Rediscovered'

'This fresh and nuanced examination … is essential reading for anyone seeking to understand Lenin's historical role and his relevance to today's movements for transformative change.'

- Ian Angus, author of 'The War Against the Commons: Dispossession and Resistance in the Making of Capitalism'

'A wonderful sketch of Lenin’s life and times, illustrating both Lenin’s complex personality and his remarkable insights ...  With an excellent timeline, biographic sketches of the main characters, and a thorough bibliography ... this book is perhaps the best introduction to Lenin available in English.'

- Michael D. Yates, Director of Monthly Review Press and author of 'Can the Working Class Change the World?'

'Well-researched and dutifully contextualized, Le Blanc paints a striking portrait of Lenin as an unwavering champion of democracy.'

- Cliff Connolly, 'Cosmonaut'

'Fantastic, very interesting and important for our times.'

- Tamás Krausz, author of 'Reconstructing Lenin: An Intellectual Biography'

'Brilliant … a tireless catalogue on the past and future of Lenin, Leninism, and revolution, offering indispensable insights into what is to be done amid the cascading catastrophes of today and tomorrow.'

- Ankica Čakardić, author of 'Like a Clap of Thunder: Three Essays on Rosa Luxemburg'

'Historian and activist Paul Le Blanc considers what the author of 'What is to be Done' has to say to today's radicals. What emerges are valuable contributions to the struggle against the ongoing catastrophes of war, poverty and climate chaos.'

- Alex de Jong, co-director of International Institute for Research and Education, Amsterdam

'In lucid, jargon-free prose, Paul Le Blanc forces us to question what we thought we knew about the great revolutionary.  Unpicking tenacious myths in a reasoned and discriminating tone, 'Lenin' is un-hagiographic and sometimes even impious.  The result is a Lenin ripe for rediscovery, whose ideas are less distant than we might think.'

- Alan Wald, H. Chandler Davis Collegiate Professor Emeritus, University of Michigan

'An incisive, engaging overview of Lenin and his revolutionary ideas.'

- Eric Blanc, author of 'Revolutionary Social Democracy: Working-Class Politics Across the Russian Empire, 1882-1917'

'From feminists to environmental activists, from trade unionists to those active in the movement for Black Lives, or justice for Trans, there's something here for all who believe that forging revolution and transformation of society will be necessary to … win liberation for all humanity.'

- Linda Loew, longtime socialist, feminist and union activist

'Produced, with great skill – a compressed and very readable account of Lenin's life and ideas which is honest, attractive, and non-hagiographical.'

- Mike Taber, editor, 'Under the Socialist Banner: Resolutions of the Second International, 1889-1912'

'With great power of synthesis, the book addresses and clarifies fundamental issues of the Leninist struggle and is indispensable reading for the international left.'

- Flo Menezes, Brazilian composer, musical scholar, and revolutionary militant

Prologue: What’s the Point?
1. Who was Lenin?
2. Theory, Organization, Action (1901-1905)
3. The Revolutionary Explosion of 1905
4. Comrades and Coherence (1905-1914)
5. Engaging with Catastrophe (1914-1917)
6. The 1917 Revolution
7. Revolutionary Internationalism (1882-1922)
8. Besieged Fortress (1918-1922)
9. Unexplored Mountain (1922-1923)
10. Commit Yourself and Then See…
Chronology of Lenin’s Life
Biographical Notes
Bibliography
Acknowledgments
Index

Published by Pluto Press in Sep 2023
Paperback ISBN: 9780745348346
eBook ISBN: 9780745348360

140mm x 216mm