The Fate of Marxism in Russia Alexander N. Yakovlev

Publication date:
10 Sep 1993
Yale University Press
256 pages: 235 x 156mm

Alexander Yakovlev, a major architect of perestroika and a leading sponsor of glasnost, was a senior Soviet official who worked at the highest echelon of government side by side with Mikhail Gorbachev. In this powerful book, Yakovlev acknowledges the decay of his country and reveals his painful intellectual and political odyssey as he progressed from stalwart Party ideologist and propagandist to disillusioned critic of Marxism and Communism.

Yakovlev vividly describes the ways that Marxism has proven to be not only wrong but ruinous to Russia, as it demolished civil society and ruthlessly replaced it with immorality and state-supported atheism. He discusses the pervasive, historical roots of the Russian "authoritarian consciousness" that helps explain why Russian society was so susceptible to the totalitarian implications of Marxism. He describes the triumvirate structure of power in the USSR before and during perestroika, the political reforms that were initiated, the ways that Soviet attitudes toward glasnost and perestroika evolved in both the reformist and conservative wings of the Party, and the reasons for the seemingly final swift collapse of the old ruling structures—the crushing defeat of the Party—in August 1991.
Assessing the situation in Russia now that Marx's teachings and the Communist Party have been rejected, Yakovlev warns that if the economic situation worsens further, Russian society will be prepared to sacrifice democracy for even modest economic growth. He urges the restructuring of Soviet society on a new basis of democracy, morality, common sense, and economic efficiency.
The book includes as appendixes five speeches given by Yakovlev in the West between November 1991 and January 1992 that provide further insight into his thinking after the collapse of the Communist Party.

"In The Fate of Marxism in Russia, Alexander Yakovlev, one of the architects of perestroika, meets Marxism on its own intellectual turf and beats it, repudiating Marx, Lenin, and Stalin and embracing freedom and democracy. We can all benefit from his reasoned insights."?James A. Baker, III, 61st Secretary of State  

"One of the architects of perestroika, meets Marxism on its own intellectual turf and beats it."?James A. Baker, III, 61st Secretary of State

"Alexander Yakovlev belongs to the high priesthood of Marxism: as such, he is probably the most highly placed among the intellectuals who have assaulted Marxism from within....[He] offers fascinating insights into the thinking of the enlightened wing of the Party leadership during the perestroika  era."?Thomas F. Remington, from the introduction

"Here, for the first time in Russia, a Soviet scholar tells the truth about Marxism and the disastrous effects of its application. No other book either in Eastern Europe or the Soviet Union has shown what Marxism proved to be in real life and how dearly our peoples had to pay for Marx's prejudices and illusions."?Alexander Tsipko, from the foreword 

"[A] searching self-examination."?Susan Jacoby, New York Newsday

"A former Communist Party senior official turned heretic offers an impassioned and devastating indictment of Soviet communism."?Publishers Weekly

"[Yakovlev's] abstractions signify the intellectual undermining of Marxism?a development the complete collection of Sovietica will not want to exclude."?Gilbert Taylor, Booklist

"The first hundred pages contain the most devastating critique of communist ideology that has ever been written. . . . The substantiality of his finished theoretical work cannot be denied."?Choice