Romancing the Revolution. The Myth of Soviet Democracy and the British Left

Athabasca University Press, 2011

Print: ISBN 978-1-926836-12-6
E-Book: ISBN 978-1-926836-13-3

Romancing the Revolution

I argue that the myth of Soviet democracy - the belief that Russia was embarking on a brave experiment in a form of popular government more genuine and more advanced than even the best forms of parliamentarism - played a key role in the full or partial acceptance of Bolshevism/Communism by much of the British Left. It was part of a complex of perceptions that included also the belief that social and economic equality was being advanced simultaneously with this higher form of political equality.

I think my major contribution is to explore this often neglected aspect fully and particularly to show how many on the Left were able to reconcile a belief in a theoretical "dictatorship of the proletariat" and the actual ever-tightening dictatorship in reality with their belief that the USSR enjoyed the highest form of democracy. The book also explores a number of less significant, though certainly very interesting aspects of the "myth of soviet democracy". These include probing much further than I did in my contribution to the 1992 book the involvement of Sylvia Pankhurst and her colleagues in "Left Communism." It also shows that Raymond Challinor was not entirely justified in the way he presented the Socialist Labour Party in The Origins of British Bolshevism.