The Rise and Demise of World Communism

ISBN : 9780197579671

George W. Breslauer
352 Pages
156 x 235 mm
Pub date
Nov 2021
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A concise, readable, and novel interpretation of the history of communist states. Sixteen states came to be ruled by communist parties during the 20th century. One, the Soviet Union, was geographically the largest nation in the world and a superpower. Another, China, had the world's largest population. At communism's high point, its adherents envisioned global triumph. Today, however, only five communist regimes remain in power. Why? In The Rise and Demise of World Communism, George Breslauer, a specialist who has spent decades observing the evolution of communist states, provides a sweeping history of the world communist movement, focusing in particular on what communist states shared in common and why they began to differ from each other over time. Throughout, Breslauer explores the relations among communist states as well as the relations between those states and the world of increasingly affluent, and militarily formidable, democratic-capitalist powers. He finds that these regimes all came to power in the context of warfare or its aftermath, followed by the consolidation of power by a revolutionary elite that valued "revolutionary violence" as the preferred means to an end, based upon Marx's vision of apocalyptic revolution and Lenin's conception of party organization. As Breslauer shows, all these regimes went on to "build socialism" according to a Stalinist template and were initially dedicated to "anti-imperialist struggle" as members of a world communist movement. But their common features gave way to diversity, difference, and defiance after the death of Joseph Stalin in 1953. For many reasons, and in many ways, those differences soon blew apart the world communist movement and eventually led to the collapse of European communism. Even though a few communist regimes still remain in power, the dream of world communism is dead. But the future of the remaining communist regimes is uncertain. An accessible history of one of the most important political phenomena of the past 150 years, The Rise and Demise of World Communism provides readers with a crisp account of the entire movement-from the theories of Marx and Lenin to the on-the-ground policies of Stalin, Mao, Gorbachev, Deng, and other communist leaders-that culminates in our own era.


Part I. General Patterns in World Communism
Chapter 1. What did Communist Regimes Have in Common?
Chapter 2. How did Communist Regimes Differ from Each Other?
Chapter 3. The World Communist Movement: From Moscow-Centric to Pluralistic
Part II. Ideology and Organization: The Heritage
Chapter 4. Marxism: The Vision
Chapter 5. Leninism: The Instrument
Part III. Coming to Power and Building Socialism in Russia
Chapter 6. The Bolshevik Seizure of Power
Chapter 7. Consolidating Bolshevik Power
Chapter 8. Respite
Chapter 9. Building Socialism: Stalin's Revolution from Above, 1928-1934
Chapter 10. The Great Terror and Stalinist Despotism
Chapter 11. Was Stalinism a Logical Continuation of Marxism-Leninism?
Chapter 12. Was Stalin's Revolution from Above a Rational Strategy of Modernization?
Chapter 13. Stalinism and World Communism in the 1930s
Chapter 14. The Impact of World War II on the Soviet Union and World Communism
Part IV. The Stalinist Model Spreads Westward and Eastward
Chapter 15. The Creation of East European Communist States
Chapter 16. Origins and Entrenchment of the Cold War
Chapter 17. World War II and the Creation of Asian Communist States: The People's Republic of China
Chapter 18. Consolidating Power and Building Socialism in China
Chapter 19. Communist Parties Come to Power in Korea and Vietnam
Part V. After Stalin: From Similarity to Difference
Chapter 20. What Follows Stalinism in the USSR?
Chapter 21. Diversity and Defiance Within the World Communist Movement
Chapter 22. Building Communism: Competition for Ideological Correctness Within the World Communist Movement
Chapter 23. The Sino-Soviet Schism, 1957-1963
Chapter 24. Cuba's Indigenous Revolution, 1959-70
Chapter 25. The Soviet Union After Khrushchev: Bureaucratic Leninism
Chapter 26. Alternatives to Utopia in China, 1960-1965
Chapter 27. The Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution, 1966-1969
Chapter 28. Maoism: An Accounting
Part VI. The Realignment of International Relations: From Proletarian Internationalism to Balance-of-Power Politics
Chapter 29. The Collapse of the World Communist Movement and the Rise of Detente
Chapter 30. Why US-Soviet Detente Failed
Chapter 31. Post-Detente Realignment: the Soviet Invasion of Afghanistan, December 1979
Part VII. The Collapse of European Communism
Chapter 32. Varieties of Opposition to the Soviet Model in Eastern Europe, 1968-1985
Chapter 33. Gorbachev's Peaceful Revolution from Above
Chapter 34. Gorbachev and the Abandonment of Anti-Imperialist Struggle
Part VIII. The Remains of Communism in a Post-Communist World
Chapter 35. From Maoism to Market Leninism: The Chinese Economic Miracle After Mao
Chapter 36. China in a Post-Communist World: Can Leninism Survive Market Leninism?
Chapter 37. Market Leninism in Vietnam
Chapter 38. Market Leninism in Laos
Chapter 39. Bureaucratic Leninism in Cuba
Chapter 40. Stalinism in North Korea
Part IX. Conclusions
Chapter 41. Why the Drive to Difference?
Chapter 42. Assessing the Communist Experience: Achievement or Tragedy?
Chapter 43: Is There a Future for New Communist States?

About the author: 

George W. Breslauer is a specialist on Soviet and post-Soviet politics and foreign relations in the Department of Political Science at the University of California at Berkeley. He advanced through the ranks to full professor of political science, was awarded the Distinguished Teaching Award of the Division of Social Sciences in 1997, and was appointed Chancellor's Professor in 1998 for exceptional distinction in research, teaching, and service to the university. He served UC Berkeley as dean of social sciences (1999-2006) and as executive vice chancellor and provost (2006-2014). In 2014 he was elected a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Professor Breslauer is the author or editor of 12 books on Soviet and Russian politics and foreign relations.

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