Prague, 27 July -“A hundred years have passed since communists seized power in Russia under the leadership of Vladimir Lenin. The Bolsheviks, as they were called in Russia, looked upon their takeover as only the first step to conquering the whole world and making it over according to the ideas of Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels. They almost succeeded. The pursuit by the communists of their dream became a nightmare for more than a billion people, their subjects and victims in Russia, China, Central and Eastern Europe, the Korean Peninsula, Indo-China and Cuba. It cost approximately 100 million lives, according to the Black Book of Communism, published in 1997.1 The story of communism is one of the greatest tragedies of world history, but, strangely, a tragedy almost without any spectators. Hitler’s national socialism is rightly seen as a horrible lapse into barbarism, criminal in nature, whereas the communism of Lenin, Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot and their comrades is often explained away as a well- meant experiment gone awfully wrong. But the record shows that communism is also criminal in nature. It is the denial of fundamental human values such as individual freedom, impersonal justice and respect for people regardless of their colour, creed, class, sex, lifestyles or views.”
In this report, Professor Hannes H. Gissurarson gives a brief summary of the books and ideas to help understand this extraordinary force, which, like a ghost, haunted Europe for over a century. Perhaps it is not even a force spent: After all, the rulers of Russia and China seem unwilling to recognise the many victims of Communism in their countries, and two real communist countries still exist, North Korea and Cuba. The origin of the report is that in 2014, Dr. Neela Winkelmann, Managing Director of the Platform of European Memory and Conscience, asked professor to make a list of the best books he knew about communism. She subsequently published the list on the platform’s website. He could, however, only devote one or two sentences to each of the books. In this report, he publishes a greatly expanded version of that list, made at the request of Naweed Khan of the Brussels think-tank New Direction. He tried not only to include works that are already well-known, but also books that have undeservedly fallen into oblivion. Also, he adds a few words about the nature of Communism and why Leninism, and after it Stalinism and Maoism, was a logical extension of Marxism rather than an aberration from it.
Professor Hannes H. Gissurarson was born in 1953, he holds a D.Phil. in Politics from Oxford University and is Professor of Politics at the University of Iceland. The author of more than a dozen books on political philosophy, history and current affairs, he is the research director of RNH, the Icelandic Research Centre for Innovation and Economic Growth, the Platform member organisation.