This book explores the development of Lenin s thinking on
violence throughout his career, from the last years of the Tsarist
regime in Russia through to the 1920s and the New Economic Policy,
and provides an important assessment of the significance of
ideological factors for understanding Soviet state violence as
directed by the Bolshevik leadership during its first years in
power. It highlights the impact of the First World War, in
particular its place in Bolshevik discourse as a source of
legitimating Soviet state violence after 1917, and explains the
evolution of Bolshevik dictatorship over the half decade during
which Lenin led the revolutionary state. It examines the militant
nature of the Leninist worldview, Lenin s conception of the
revolutionary state, the evolution of his understanding of
"dictatorship of the proletariat," and his version of "just war."
The book argues that ideology can be considered primarily important
for understanding the violent and dictatorial nature of the early
Soviet state, at least when focused on the party elite, but it is
also clear that ideology cannot be understood in a contextual
vacuum. The oppressive nature of Tsarist rule, the bloodiness of
the First World War, and the vulnerability of the early Soviet
state as it struggled to survive against foreign and domestic
opponents were of crucial significance. The book sets Lenin s
thinking on violence within the wider context of a violent world.
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