The Devil in History: Communism, Fascism, and Some Lessons of the Twentieth Century

The Devil in History: Communism, Fascism, and Some Lessons of the Twentieth Century

Vladimir Tismaneanu

Language: English

Pages: 336

ISBN: 0520239725

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


The Devil in History is a provocative analysis of the relationship between communism and fascism. Reflecting the author’s personal experiences within communist totalitarianism, this is a book about political passions, radicalism, utopian ideals, and their catastrophic consequences in the twentieth century’s experiments in social engineering. Vladimir Tismaneanu brilliantly compares communism and fascism as competing, sometimes overlapping, and occasionally strikingly similar systems of political totalitarianism. He examines the inherent ideological appeal of these radical, revolutionary political movements, the visions of salvation and revolution they pursued, the value and types of charisma of leaders within these political movements, the place of violence within these systems, and their legacies in contemporary politics.

The author discusses thinkers who have shaped contemporary understanding of totalitarian movements—people such as Hannah Arendt, Raymond Aron, Isaiah Berlin, Albert Camus, François Furet, Tony Judt, Ian Kershaw, Leszek Kolakowski, Richard Pipes, and Robert C. Tucker. As much a theoretical analysis of the practical philosophies of Marxism-Leninism and Fascism as it is a political biography of particular figures, this book deals with the incarnation of diabolically nihilistic principles of human subjugation and conditioning in the name of presumably pure and purifying goals. Ultimately, the author claims that no ideological commitment, no matter how absorbing, should ever prevail over the sanctity of human life. He comes to the conclusion that no party, movement, or leader holds the right to dictate to the followers to renounce their critical faculties and to embrace a pseudo-miraculous, a mystically self-centered, delusional vision of mandatory happiness.

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Soviet Academy of Science. Although a flamboyant supporter of Stalinist peace campaigns, the former refused to sign a letter meant to be published in the party daily, Pravda.80 The latter did it, probably after heartbreaking agony: Mints’s daughter said that her father was deeply frightened and troubled by the accusations against him, and news of the Doctor’s Plot only exacerbated his fears. She still remembers how pale he was when, after Stalin’s death, he brought her the newspaper announcing

developments: “It is with good reason,” he wrote, “that the Communist Manifesto emphasized the economically revolutionary character of the bourgeois capitalist entrepreneurs. No Bolshevism, Marxism, Russian Tradition | 109 trade-unions, much less state-socialist officials, can perform this role for us in their place.”99 Earlier than many critics of Sovietism, Weber concluded that the Leninist experiment would discredit socialism for the entire twentieth century.100 Reenacting Lenin ? So, is

Western democracies, too, are now without a universally accepted value-system, but whereas the loss of such a system in a live democracy is balanced by the interaction of a broad variety of democratic institutions, the loss of ideology in a totalitarian society means the complete collapse of the morale of that society, because the sole justification of totalitarian rule is the ideology on which it rests. —Zdenek Mlynár (in George Urban, ed., Communist Reformation) Communist regimes were

negativity in a social universe that seemed saturated with a distressing positivity. Yugoslav critical Marxism does not enter the area encompassed by this study, for many reasons, at once historical, economic, sociological, and cultural. Nevertheless, the philosophical and sociological investigations carried out by the Praxis group (Mihailo Markovic, Svetozar Stojanovic, Gajo Petrovic, Predrag Vranicki, and others) furthered the theoretical consolidation of the humanist criticism of Soviet-type

men of all countries unite!”16 To identify these texts in the Manifesto is not to imply that this is all that is there, but these are central texts, and they articulate what Marx maintained was most distinctive about “Communism” as a political for- Lessons from Eastern Europe | 167 mation distinct from the socialists and utopians that he disparages—that it unsentimentally, resolutely, and presciently both comprehends and apprehends the “real movement” of history, a movement heretofore marked

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