“Without Lenin there would have been no socialist revolution in 1917. Of this much we can be certain.”
Vladimir Ilyich Lenin, leader of the October 1917 uprising, is one of the most misunderstood leaders of the twentieth century. In his own time, there were many, even among his enemies, who acknowledged the full magnitude of his intellectual and political achievements. But his legacy has been lost in misinterpretation; he is worshipped but rarely read.
On the centenary of the Russian Revolution, Tariq Ali explores the two major influences on Lenin’s thought—the turbulent history of Tsarist Russia and the birth of the international labour movement—and explains how Lenin confronted dilemmas that still cast a shadow over the present. Is terrorism ever a viable strategy? Is support for imperial wars ever justified? Can politics be made without a party? Was the seizure of power in 1917 morally justified? Should he have parted company from his wife and lived with his lover?
In The Dilemmas of Lenin, Ali provides an insightful portrait of Lenin’s deepest preoccupations and underlines the clarity and vigour of his theoretical and political formulations. He concludes with an affecting account of Lenin’s last two years, when he realized that “we knew nothing” and insisted that the revolution had to be renewed lest it wither and die.
"The year 1917 was an epic, a concatenation of adventures, hopes, betrayals, unlikely coincidences, war and intrigue; of bravery and cowardice and foolishness, farce, derring-do, tragedy; of epochal ambitions and change, of glaring lights, steel, shadows; of tracks and trains...
This was Russia’s revolution, certainly, but it belonged and belongs to others, too. It could be ours. If its sentences are still unfinished, it is up to us to finish them." — China Miéville
One hundred years on from the Russian Revolution we look back at the events that turned the world upside down and how they resonate today with new books from China Miéville and Tariq Ali, and classic texts from the Verso archive, made newly available for the centenary.
All the books on this reading list are 50% off until May 28 at midnight UTC. Click here to activate your discount.
Do you know your Lenin from your Lunacharsky? Your Krupskaya from your Kerensky? If so, then we have just the quiz for you!
In the centenary year of the Russian Revolution, and to celebrate the launch of Tariq Ali's The Dilemmas of Lenin, we're giving away a huge bundle of Russian Revolution books to two lucky people! One person from North America and one from the rest of the world will win copies of The Dilemmas of Lenin, China Miéville's October, Red Rosa, Moshe Lewin's Soviet Century, The Communist Manifesto/April Thesis, The Prophet, and Revolutionary Yiddishland.
"First things first. Without Lenin there would have been no socialist revolution in 1917. Of this much we can be certain."
In The Dilemmas of Lenin Tariq Ali provides an insightful portrait of Lenin’s deepest preoccupations and underlines the clarity and vigour of his theoretical and political formulations. In this exclusive extract from the Introduction he explains that without Lenin there would not have been a socialist revolution in Russia in 1917.