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Before Stalinism is a historical study of democratic life and institutions and their decline in the early years of the Russian Revolution. While attempting to synthesize a wealth of available historical material, the author assesses the extent to which the disappearance of Soviet democracy was due to objective circumstances, for example the impact of the Civil War, and the extent to which it was the result of Bolshevik politics and ideology. The author shows how there were, contrary to later Stalinist and Cold War mythologies, significant disputes within the pre-Stalinist Bolshevik camp about the preservation of the substantial democratic elements of the October upheaval.
“When did the Russian Revolution go wrong and why? Whether one shares Samuel Farber’s views or not, his is an important, at once thoughtful and passionate, contribution to one of the major debates of our time.”