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The Socialist Vision and the Silenced Voices of Democracy- New Perspectives- Nikolai Bukharin


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About the Author:

SobhanlalDatta Gupta (1948), former SurendraNath Banerjee Professor of Political Science, University of Calcutta, has an abiding interest in the political and intellectual history of Marxism. Some of his recentworks include Comintern and the Destiny of Communism in India: Dialectics of Real and a Possible History (Kolkata: Seribaan, 2006; revised and enlarged edition in 2011)[A Malayalam version published in 2010 and a German version in 2013], The Ryutin Platform(Stalin and the Crisis of Proletarian Dictatorship) (ed.) (Kolkata: Seribaan 2010), Marxism in Dark Times: Select Essays for the New Century (Delhi, London, New York:Anthem Press, 2012) and The Socialist Vision and the Silenced Voices of Democracy. Part I :Rosa Luxemburg (Kolkata:Seribaan, 2015).



Contents: 1. Nikolai Bukharin: The Voice of Socialist Humanism 2. From War Communism to NEP and Beyond 3. From NEP to Prison Manuscripts: Socialism and the Problem of Culture 4. From War Communism to Prison Manuscripts: Marxism and Philosophy 5. Conclusion: Bukharin Today—A Contested Legacy

About the Book:

This book on Nikolai Bukharin is the second title in the projected series The Socialist Vision and the Silenced Voices of Democracy: New Perspectives. The idea underlying these volumes is to highlight a legacy of Marxian thought that has never been recognized as an essential component of mainstream Marxism. Rather, this tradition has been stigmatized as heretical, associated with renegades, if not counterrevolutionaries. The exponents of this alternative school of Marxism were ignored and their ideas distorted by mainstream Marxism for many decades. In the post-1991 world, when the search for an alternative Marxism is in the air, it is high time that their contributions be given due recognition by all those belonging to the Left who understand the crucial importance of democracy in the projection of a revolutionary alternative to capitalism.Recognition and appropriation of these silenced voices by the votaries of mainstream Marxism will only enrich their repertory. Nikolai Bukharin was one such tragic figure in the intellectual history of Marxism. As long as he moved in the corridors of power, he was greatly respected and admired. Buthis arrest and subsequent execution sealed his fate. Till his political rehabilitation in 1988 he continued to be treated as a condemned figure who was portrayed as an arch-revisionist, a traitor accused of “right-deviation” and thereby an “enemy of the people”. This assessment began to change after 1988 when for the first time after many decades new interest began to be generated in regard to his writings. The discovery and publication of his Prison Manuscripts after 1991 added a new dimension to studies on Bukharin. In this book I have not touched upon the life, particularly the trial of Bukharin, since lots of materials are now available on this subject. I have primarily tried to explore his contributions to an alternative understanding of Marxism in the capacity of a theorist and situate him in the revolutionary-humanist tradition of Marxism represented by such stalwarts as Rosa Luxemburg, Antonio Gramsci, Georg Lukács and Karl Korsch, to name a few. In this engagement I have focused on the shifts in his thinking and especially taken into consideration his Prison Manuscripts which, till now, have hardly been discussed. One complex question underlying any discussion of Bukharin is the element of political sensitivity involved in it. Bukharin, after all, was an integral part of the Soviet establishmentfor a long time and was certainly its beneficiary. His eventual excommunication from the echelons of power, his arrest and confession added not just an element of mystery to his political career but raised a big question mark in regard to his political credentials. It came to be believed that he was, indeed, one who had possibly done something unpardonable and criminal which aimed at wrecking Soviet socialism and, therefore, he deserved this treatment. A sizable section of the Marxist Left continues to believe that despite some wrong deeds the Stalin era was one of the glorious epochs of Soviet history and since Bukharin was a victim of this period, theremust have been something grievously wrong with him. Bukharin, the argument goes, after all, was prosecuted by the political order which he himself served with complete dedication since 1917. Unlike Gramsci or Rosa Luxemburg, who were victims of repression by their class enemies, Bukharin was punished by his own men. On this score, it is argued, it was not an act of repression or persecution directed against him. On the contrary, it was an act of justice in defence of socialism. This book is aimed at rebutting this myth, this age-old belief, still nurtured by many. It has drawn on resources which it is high time for the Marxist Left to consider. This study is aimed at theoretically empowering the Left and strengthening the position of all those who reject capitalism as a social system and are engaged in the battle for a brave new world of the future.

Additional Information

Additional Information

Author Sobhanlal Datta Gupta
Cover Type Hard

Customer Reviews 1 item(s)

Alternative vision
"The collapse of the USSR resulted in, among other things, a resurfacing of critical studies of Marxism going beyond the Cold War polarities. One part of that was a recovery of the wide spectrum within revolutionary Marxism that had been flattened into the correct line versus the class traitors and and deviationists under Stalinism and its kin elsewhere. Sobhanlal Datta Gupta has been one of the few Indian scholars seriously engaged in this project. The book under review is part of a series of studies he has been publishing. In it, he attempts to summarize a considerable body of work on Nikolai Ivanovich Bukharin (...). He also tries to examine several themes in Bukharin's work, trying to place the last period of his writings within the wider context of his evolution as a Marxist thinker after the Russian revolution, and focusing mainly on the issues of socialist construction, and culture and philosophy."

Kunal Chattopadhyay in The Telegraph, 19 April, 2019
Review by Kunal / (Posted on 25/07/2019)