The Dilemmas of Lenin: Terrorism, War, Empire, Love, Revolution

On the centenary of the Russian Revolution, Tariq Ali paints an illuminating portrait of Lenin
At the end of his life, Lenin wrote ‘we didn’t know everything’, acknowledging the dilemmas he faced on the road to revolution in 1917 and beyond. In this unusual exploration of the crises that Lenin overcame, the decisions he made, and actions that he took, Tariq Ali reveals an insightful political portrait of this most exemplary leader. From the first stirrings of revolutionary fervour, Lenin sought the right answer to a series of dilemmas that he faced and that still resonate with us today: Is terrorism ever a useful tactic? Can imperial wars ever be supported? What sort of political party do we need? What is the moral justification for seizing power? How does one overcome the burden of history? What role does friendship or love play in revolution? How do you establish a legacy that lasts?

Ali reveals that no other modern thinker than Lenin has better understood, nor more clearly articulated, the need to change the world. But do Lenin’s ideas, as expressed in his actions and his political writings, still have any significance for us? In this centenary year of the Russian Revolution, this book raises important questions related to political representation and the popular institutions necessary to challenge capitalism today.


  • Tariq Ali: Introduction to The Communist Manifesto

    Today marks the 169th anniversary of the publication of one of the most influential documents in world history: The Communist Manifesto. In this introduction to the new edition, published alongside Lenin's April Theses, Tariq Ali contextualises the period—the eve of the 1848 revolutions—in which Marx and Engels penned their masterpiece and argues that it desperately needs a successor.

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  • On This Day: The Fall of the Berlin Wall, with an extract from Tariq Ali's Fear of Mirrors

    November 9th is marked in history as the date on which triumphant Berliners breached the Berlin wall. On this day, 27 years ago, crowds began to demolish the Wall and gathered on both sides of the historic crossings to cheer the bulldozers. This was the first critical step towards reunification, which formally concluded nearly a year later, on 3 October 1990.

    Tariq Ali’s novel Fear of Mirrors follows East German dissident Vlady Meyer’s life as it mirrors the rise and fall of the Soviet Union. The book is available now, and is one of Verso’s Russian Revolution centenary picks. With the fall of Communism, Vlady’s life begins to fall apart; he is a mirror reflecting the intellectual milieu of an incomparable period. Extracted below is the first page of the novel to commemorate this momentous day in history.

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