In this follow-up to his acclaimed The Thinking Reed, Boris Kagarlistky presents an incisive analysis of the interplay between reform and revolution in Western and Eastern Europe in the twentieth century. At once theoretical and polemical, the book attempts to develop a dialogue between the emergent Soviet Left - of which he is a key figure - and radical forces in the West, in pursuit of a coherent and consistent strategy of change.
The first part of Kagarlitsky's endeavour takes us from a re-examination of the Marxist classics - via the dogmatism of the Second International, and the more fertile ideas of Jaurès, Luxemburg and Gramsci - to the actual practice of postwar socialist governments in Western Europe. He shows how these governments , influenced by Keynesian and Galbraithian technocratic reformism, have been unable to transcend the confines imposed by capitalism and develop alternative working-class strategies - eventually succumbing to the monetarist counter-offensive.
In a counterpoint to the Western experience Kagarlitsky then turns his attention to the failures of technocratic reformism in Eastern Europe. He reviews the crucial lessons of the emergence of Solidarity in Poland, and the Brezhnev period of 'stability', corruption and stagnation, against the backdrop of profound social changes - changes which render the question of Gorbachev's democratization and reform vital for the future of both the Soviet Union and the world.