Two years after the revolution in Russia, the social revolution was once again fermenting on the ruins of the empires defeated in the war. The First World War was turning into a civil war and not only in countries defeated in the war. The year 1919 saw the spread of workers’ and soldiers’ councils and a series of anti-colonial revolts in the Middle East and Far East. As yet, the link between these and the October Revolution was largely symbolic, since the Communist International generally learned of events only after the fact even as it endeavoured to integrate them within a global theoretical framework. Nevertheless it felt as though revolution were spreading like a contagion, at the same time as a wave of repression no less generalized was building up. Opening in revolutionary struggle, the year 1919 would end in victory for counter-revolution.
The year 1936 was a momentous one in the history of communism. This was a time of acute uncertainty and fear, during which the Soviet Union and international communist movement faced unprecedented challenges. This article examines the attempts to build a socialist state in Russia, and to follow new international policies of collective security and the building of popular front alliances. Particular attention is given to the principal developments of the year—the internal crisis in the Soviet Union, the Chinese and Spanish civil wars, the Popular Front in France, the origins of the Great Terror—but also to the more everyday experiences of communists around the world.
This article explores the impact of de-Stalinization on the Soviet Union, Eastern Europe, and China. Writers, artists, and intellectuals welcomed the curtailment of repression—the so- called ‘thaw’—but their calls for openness and tolerance unnerved the Soviet party authorities. In 1956 Nikita Khrushchev denounced Stalin but he did not question the fundamentals of socialism. Still, his criticism of Stalin led to turmoil in the socialist camp, most notably unrest in Poland and the anti-Soviet insurrection in Hungary. While Khrushchev agreed to a reduction of Soviet influence in Poland, he ordered military intervention in Hungary. This intervention undermined the legitimacy of communism, as it made clear that communism in Eastern Europe was a Soviet imposition. Meanwhile, de-Stalinization untied Mao Zedong’s hands. He felt free to pursue China’s socialist transformation the way he thought best. Mao took advantage of Khrushchev’s predicament to assert China’s claim to leadership in the communist world.
Maud Anne Bracke
Around 1968 communism expanded as a global movement, especially in the developing world, while hitting a crisis of legitimation in Europe. In the Western world the late 1960s saw young people aspiring to revolutionary change that involved both individual liberation and social justice. Generational identity underpinned a revolt against authority, leading to acute political crises in France, Italy, and elsewhere. While presenting opportunities to communist parties, this revolt threatened, from Moscow’s perspective, a dangerous proliferation of ‘heterodox’ Marxist thought. In Eastern Europe rebellious populations in Czechoslovakia, Poland, and Yugoslavia demanded greater rights of expression, causing the Soviet Union to intervene militarily in Czechoslovakia. By contrast, Maoism was able to capture the revolutionary, anti-imperialist spirit of the times. Claiming to offer an anti-bureaucratic alternative to the Soviet model, and resituating heroic agency at the heart of communist politics, Maoism appealed to Third World revolutionary leaders and radicals in the West.
The essay argues that the story of 1989 can be told either as a narrow or a wide story. The narrow story focuses on the end of communism, the unification of Germany, and the subsequent integration of former communist states into the European Union. It works especially well for Central and Eastern Europe, although it also has implications for regimes in Africa that relied on Soviet support. However, it also requires considerable qualification, given the survival of communist regimes in China, Vietnam, Cuba, and elsewhere. In the second, wide version of the story, 1989 brings to visibility processes that had been at work for several decades, undermining the power blocs of the Cold War era and the territorially defined polities on which the system of international relations rested. In this story 1989 is of as much relevance to the West as to the former Eastern Bloc. The essay looks at both stories in relation to Gorbachev and perestroika, the US role in the end of the Cold War, German unification, the singing revolution in the Baltic, and 1989 in China and Cuba.
This analysis of the origins of the Second World War in Europe challenges several key ideas of the historiography: the ‘thirty years war’ thesis, the notion of a European civil war, and the stereotyping of the 1930s as a seemingly unstoppable rush to war after the internationalism of the 1920s. There was no sharp contrast between decades—the period only makes sense as a whole. Churchill’s ‘unnecessary war’ was preventable. Alternatives to appeasement existed. Though the study of war origins starts with Hitler, his policies were decisively shaped by the actions of others and the instability of an international system, heavily impacted by the Great Depression and ideology. Miscalculation rather than design explains the war of 1939. The outbreak of war should not obscure the significance of the 1930s as a laboratory for ideas and institutions that came to fruition after 1945 and which continue to shape international society.
This article focuses on the historiography of abolition and antislavery. Abolitionism is an idea, articulated through language that emerged in the eighteenth century and propelled people to act. It ultimately changed the world. People came to believe that God had endowed all humans with the inalienable right to be free and that slavery was an intolerable evil that must be abolished. Most scholars agree with this basic definition of abolitionism. But they have long disagreed about its significance and the process by which the idea led to action and political change. The discussion covers the age of gradual abolitionism (1770s–1820s), gradual abolition in the British Caribbean and French Caribbean, the age of immediate abolitionism (1820s–1860s), the French abolition movement, and the road to civil war and emancipation in the United States.
Peter R. Campbell
This article argues that in spite of absolute monarchy's success in seemingly rising above society it developed claims and practices that ran counter to long-term representative tendencies contained within its own structures. It was never able to suppress these, nor did it intend to, because they remained enshrined in corporate society itself, on which it was based. Although the corporate society of the old regime was very hierarchical, its elites retained a large measure of autonomy in their own spheres. This sense of independence and the continued vitality of privilege provided fertile ground for a revival of conciliarist and later commonwealth arguments, and a historical belief in an ancient constitution. These arguments in favour of limited royal power eventually empowered an opposition that was able to take advantage of the excesses and contradictions that characterized some of the practices of absolute monarchy, whose power to enforce its central will was somewhat illusory.
A. Shapur Shahbazi
Reinforced Assyrian invasions from the mid-eighth century prompted Iranian tribes to consolidate at local states. Thus, while the Medes strain consolidated around King Deioces, Persians (southern Iran) gathered around the banner of Achaemenes, who finally found the Achaemenid dynasty. By the time of the second monarch, Cyrus I, the Assyrians had controlled total supremacy over the Achamaenids. Redemption came with Cyaxares, the new leader under whom Achaemenid forces, jointly with the Babylonians, vanquished the Assyrians and hence ascended to superpowerdom. Cyrus II, being born out of wedlock between Persia and Media, which together formed the entire Persian Empire, the first world empire, became a conglomerate of Median and Persian rule. The restive state of Babylonia was exploited by Cyrus, whose occupation of the latter is termed as “peaceful and disciplined.” The Cyrus Cylinder, a royal proclamation recording the details, is assumed as derived from the Assyrian kinds.
The phrase “digital revolution” is frequently used in both popular and academic discourse to describe the multiple contexts of our increasingly electronically enriched and computer-dependent society. The essence of this article happens to be achieving the promise of oral history in a digital age. In oral history and other academic areas utilizing the interview as a central methodological element, the “digital revolution” specifically refers to the mainstream integration of digital technologies into all facets of the oral history process—in the field, in the archive, and in the distribution of the interview content. This article explores how digital technologies have significantly impacted and have become integral to the recording of oral history, as well as to the dual archival imperatives of access and preservation. Digital video recording started playing a pivotal role in practices of oral history by the twentieth century. Oral history has always been bound to technology, and technologies will forever change.