Audible No Less Than Mystic: A History of Lenin and the Russian Revolution for a 21st-Century LeftAuthor John Medhurst –

The book is very comprehensive and insightful, and linked in perceptive ways to current affairs Noam Chomsky Published in the centenary year of theRussian Revolution, No Less Than Mystic is a fresh and iconoclastic history of Lenin and the Bolsheviks for a generation uninterested in Cold War ideologies and stereotypes Although it offers a full and complete history of Leninism the Russian Civil War and its aftermath, the book devotes time than usual to the policies and actions of the socialist alternatives to Bolshevism to the Menshevik Internationalists, the Socialist Revolutionaries SRs , the Jewish Bundists and the anarchists It prioritises Factory Committees, local Soviets, the Women s Zhenotdel movement, Proletkult and the Kronstadt sailors as much as the statements and actions of Lenin and Trotsky Using the neglected writings and memoirs of Mensheviks like Julius Martov, SRs like Victor Chernov, Bolshevik oppositionists like Alexandra Kollontai and anarchists like Nestor Makhno, it traces a revolution gone wrong and suggests how it might have produced a libertarian, emancipatory socialism than that created by Lenin and the Bolsheviks The book broadly covers the period fromthe formation of the Bolsheviks and Mensheviks tothe suppression of the Kronstadt rebellion and explains why the Bolshevik Revolution degenerated so quickly into its apparent opposite, and continually examines the Leninist experiment through the lens of a st century, de centralised, ecological, anti productivist and feminist socialism Throughout its narrative it interweaves and draws parallels with contemporary anti capitalist struggles such as those of the Zapatistas, the Kurds, the Argentinean Recovered Factories , Occupy, the Arab Spring, the Indignados and Intersectional feminists, attempting to open up the past to the present and points in between We do not need another standard history of the Russian Revolution This is not one

10 thoughts on “No Less Than Mystic: A History of Lenin and the Russian Revolution for a 21st-Century Left

  1. Hch Hch says:

    Refreshing to read an objective account of the Russian Revolution that debunks the theory of Vanguardism, as practiced by Lenin, Trotsky and the Bolsheviks It s a long and enjoyable read Some of his style is a little clumsy in trying to cram in too much, resulting in long sentences, which require concentration But that is a minor criticism The content is thorough and enlightening John puts the little known socialist Julias Martov in his rightful place in the history of the Russian Revolution.

  2. Customer Customer says:

    Deserving of much attention this book challenges Leninism and bring forward for a thorough examination the roles and perspectives of other revolutionary players It feels like an important text at a time when forms of Leninism continue to have a grip on much of the left For those who have read Cliffs Lenin it s a useful counterbalance.

  3. Alistair L. Alistair L. says:

    This stunning and provocative book is an essential read It wrenches the Russian revolution out of history and into the present By intercutting the events of 100 years ago with contemporary conflicts and struggles, the revolutionary past is brought vividly to life, springing forth from the pages of the book to inform and educate those of us engaged in bringing a revolutionary future in to being It is this dynamic dialectic which sets No Less Than Mystic apart from any other book about the events of 1917, which the first four chapters, beginning in 1883, put in context But the book should come with a warning it is almost impossible to stop once you start reading, as John Medhurst draws you deeper and deeper into what really was a world historical event.

  4. H. McCarthy H. McCarthy says:

    Big, beefy, powerful analysis of a crucial period in the history of the Left Beautifully researched and with a lot to teach present day politicians and students of history.

  5. StupidBoy StupidBoy says:

    Excellent defence of democratic socialism as well as a forensic re telling of the events of 1917 21 Needs to be read especially by those who on the Left still delude themselves into thinking that Lenin, Trotsky etc the other middle class intellectuals who led the Bolsheviks had any interest whatsoever in the well being or self determination of working class people.Just a single quote of Trotsky from the Ninth Party Congress 1920 should illustrate why The working class must be appointed, commanded just like soldiers Deserters from labour ought to be formed into punitive battalions or put into concentration camps.Page 483

  6. Merryn Williams Merryn Williams says:

    THE MENSHEVIKI used to hear him coughing every night it shook our house, I couldn t get to sleepon the top storey where the poorest gohe lodged, an exile, but I didn t knowwhere from or why His eyes grew huge, his coatlet in each draught I understand he wrotesome pamphlet, Down with the Death Penalty.His voice was cracked He lived on bread and tea.That winter was a fearful one I d gowild with my brothers, shrieking in the snow.He went out very rarely, coughed and wrote.They talked of an obstruction in his throat.I was young then and now am old, yet helimps into memory odd times, then fades out,leaves just these words, It s sometimes right to bein history s dustbin, a Minority.

  7. Amanda Jenkinson Amanda Jenkinson says:

    Essential reading for anyone interested in Russian history, this intelligent and informative account of the Russian Revolution of 1917 looks at the events from a political point of view rather than just chronicling the facts, and debunks the idea that Lenin was at the forefront of what was happening wand had a clear agenda Medhurst suggests that far from being an ideologue Lenin was a demagogue and that things need not have turned out as they did There were other viable parties and individuals, and he describes the machinations and power struggles that went on behind the scenes He posits that an over romanticised view of Lenin has evolved, and in this book gives credit to the other potential leaders who might have emerged Medhurst relates the Russian Revolution to other socialist revolutions and uprisings throughout the world, right up to the Arab Spring, and I found this aspect of the book particularly interesting It s not an easy read and I found it challenging and long There s a lot to take in and consider and it probably merits a re read It s a through and considered analysis and requires much concentration, but I found it well worth the effort.

  8. Ralphie Ralphie says:

    I liked how he would compare future socialist movements and parties and politicians with Lenin and the Bolsheviks He takes a critical view of the Bolsheviks and Lenin and carefully chronicles how Lenin, Trotsky, et al slowly set the stage for authoritarianism and betrayed the revolution from the onset.Anyone who waxes poetically about the Bolsheviks or who at any level admires Lenin and Trotsky will not like this book This book does a good job of shattering any delusions people have about revolutionary socialism along the Leninist model.

  9. Customer Customer says:

    This book does not attempt futily to remain an objective report, but rather analyzes Leninism with an eye firmly fixed on building a functional, libertarian socialism utterly unlike Soviet State Capitalism.

  10. Wendy M Wendy M says:

    A modern and different look at the Russian revolution, a great read for the 100 year anniversary.