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    Cromwell, Robespierre, Stalin (and Lenin?): must revolution always mean catastrophe?

    Bowring, Bill (2016) Cromwell, Robespierre, Stalin (and Lenin?): must revolution always mean catastrophe? Crisis and Critique 3 (1), pp. 367-386. ISSN 2311-8172.

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    Leon Trotsky, reflecting on British history, wrote: ‘The 'dictatorship of Lenin' expresses the mighty pressure of the new historical class and its superhuman struggle against all the forces of the old society. If Lenin can be juxtaposed to anyone then it is not to Napoleon nor even less to Mussolini but to Cromwell and Robespierre. It can be with some justice said that Lenin is the proletarian twentieth-century Cromwell. Such a definition would at the same time be the highest compliment to the petty-bourgeois seventeenth-century Cromwell.’ In this response to the call for papers, I take Oliver Cromwell, Maximilien Robespierre, and Vladimir Lenin in turn. I ask whether Stalin has indeed become a “screen memory” whose dreadful image and legacy serves to besmirch the honour of the great European revolutions, in England, France and Russia, to which Trotsky referred. It is no accident, of course, that Cromwell and Robespierre have remained, since their respective deaths, controversial and even monstrous historical figures in their own countries. Would their rehabilitation, which has also recurred throughout the centuries since their own time, mean that Stalin too should be rehabilitated and recovered as a revolutionary? My answer is an unequivocal “no”.


    Item Type: Article
    School: Birkbeck Faculties and Schools > Faculty of Business and Law > Birkbeck Law School
    Depositing User: Bill Bowring
    Date Deposited: 19 Apr 2016 11:43
    Last Modified: 02 Aug 2023 17:22


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