New Book: October 1917 – Workers in Power

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Edited by Fred Leplat and Alex de Jong. From Merlin Press:

Was October 1917 a coup d’état or a social revolution? Writing as both a historian and political activist, Ernest Mandel sets out to analyse the events and vigorously reasserts the deep legitimacy of the Russian Revolution. He considers the gains of the revolution, discusses the mistakes made by the Bolshevik leadership in 1917-21, and sets out lessons to be learnt for revolutionary Marxists today. David Mandel’s ‘Workers Control and Factory Committees in the Russian Revolution 1917-18’ draws on Russian-language archives to tell the story from below. Petrograd workers did not dream at first of ‘socialist experiments’. Factory committees met fierce resistance from owners, they were driven to take management into their own hands and to seek the nationalisation of industries. Common conceptions about the ‘utopian’ and ‘anarchistic’ impulses supposedly behind the October Revolution are reassessed and refuted. Paul Le Blanc’s introduction evaluates the events one century on — discussing recent scholarship and debates, new ways of comprehending class, the centrality of women and that of ethnicity, race and national identity. Le Blanc considers ‘what went right’ with this revolution, and ‘what went wrong’. Were the Bolsheviks elitist, sectarian and authoritarian? What is still relevant today and what is not?

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For those interested in performing a review on this book for URPE’s flagship journal, Review of Radical Political Economics, please get in touch with David Barkin