What if history had had a happy ending? To change the future, we need to reimagine the past.
Of all the tomes published on the centenary of the Russian Revolution, none will reckon with a key part of the story: what if the revolutionaries' dreams had come true, instead of being dashed? Yet no tale of the Russian Revolution is complete without asking 'what if ...?'
Lenin Lives! lays out a narrative account of how history might have happened differently if Lenin had lived long enough to see the global spread of the Russian Revolution to Western Europe and the USA. In one alternative world, instead of the grim authoritarian and autarkic states of the East, socialist revolution in the world’s most advanced economies ushers in an era of global peace, progress and prosperity, with global federations substituting for nation-states and international organisations. In keeping with the hopes of European revolutionaries of the time, the early achievement of socialism leads to a drastic improvement in human progress, economic growth, democracy and freedom at the global level.
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What’s deeply commendable about Lenin Lives is its ability to counter philosophical tendencies of the latter half of the 20th century, tendencies that argue for the end of “grand narratives,” by precisely persisting in the need to narrativize the history of modern bourgeois society along those vastly grand scales. How else could we have a sense of where our politics might take us, if we did not permit ourselves the freedom to imagine the social totality (and our subject positions within it) to be transcendeable? https://platypus1917.org/2017/11/01/book-review-philip-cunliffe-lenin-lives-reimagining-russian-revolution-1917-2017/ ~ Gregor Baszak, Platypus Review
What if the hopes of the Russian Revolution had been realised? Setting out from this question Cunliffe shines a great deal of new critical light on our times. Hugely thought-provoking and entertaining. Full of contentious ideas and stimulating insights. A firecracker of a book. ~ Sean Sayers, Emeritus Professor of Philosophy, University of Kent
'Lenin Lives!' is erudite and imaginative - grounded in a profound and humane understanding of all the different conflicts at play in the world of 1917, Cunliffe soars above us to show a 2017 that might have been, if the revolutionaries had won out a hundred years before. 'We are all in the gutter,' said Oscar Wilde, 'but some of us are looking at the stars' - and Philip Cunliffe gives us a great account of both. ~ James Heartfield, author of Unpatriotic History of the Second World War