The historian Roy Medvedev is internationally respected as a courageous and scrupulous socialist critic of his native Russia. In his new book, he turns his attention abroad to consider the prospects for socialism in the West. Medvedev speaks here as a Russian Marxist concerned that the lessons of Russian experience be understood by socialists abroad. He reviews the process by which the doctrine of 'Marxism-Leninism' was consolidated in the USSR and the international Communist movement. He then considers the course of the Russian Revolution, analysing in particular four issues that continue to animate socialist debate in the West: the dictatorship of the proletariat, the historic value of soviets as a form of governmental power, the roles and rights of majorities and minorities, and the feasibility of 'socialism in one country'. Finally, he discusses the historic division between Communism and Social Democracy in the workers' movement, arguing that principled efforts to find common ground between the two must play a major part in the political strategy of Western socialism.
Calm and reasoned in tone and truly internationalist in outlook. Leninism and Western Socialism is among the most remarkable books by a Russian oppositionist in many years.