Complications

Communism and the Dilemmas of Democracy

Claude Lefort. Translated by Julian Bourg with a Preface by Dick Howard.

Columbia University Press

Complications

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Pub Date: June 2007

ISBN: 9780231133005

256 Pages

Format: Hardcover

List Price: $50.00£40.00

Complications

Communism and the Dilemmas of Democracy

Claude Lefort. Translated by Julian Bourg with a Preface by Dick Howard.

Columbia University Press

Complications is a brilliant study of the nature of communist totalitarianism pursued through the criticism of the recent work of two neo-liberal historians, Francois Furet and Martin Malia. Their books, The Passing of an Illusion and The Soviet Tragedy respectively were enthusiastically received in the West and, in Lefort's view, have drastically and harmfully oversimplified the nature of the Soviet regime and the nature of the support for it in the interests of providing a historiographical complement to the aggressive neo-liberal consensus of the present day. Lefort, who has always insisted on the relevance of the critique of totalitarianism to the renewal of the left, detects in the authors he surveys a neo-liberal bias that corrupts their interpretation both of the nature and of the lasting significance of the communist regime. It matters a great deal how autopsies of the Soviet Union are conducted because they imply what range of alternatives there is to its failed and criminal enterprise.
Anyone with any interest in understanding the rise and fall of communism in the 20th century will find this book immensely stimulating. Paul Anderson, Tribune Magazine
A work of extreme lucidity that eludes academic fashion or disciplinary classification. Constantin Iordachi, Central European University, Budapest, Hungary, Slavic Review
An important book that forces us to rethink a fundamental question of the twentieth century Martin Dimitrov, Journal of Cold War Stars
Foreword by Dick Howard
Acknowledgments
Translator's Introduction by Julian Bourg
Author's Introduction
1. Wisdom of the Historian
2. Critique of "Couch Liberalism"
3. Autopsy of an Illusion
4. Marx's False Paternity
5. The Idea of Revolution and the Revolutionary Phenomenon
6. The Jacobin Phantom
7. A Liberal Matrix for the Dictatorship of the Proletariat?
8. Democracy and Totalitarianism
9. The Myth of the Soviet Union in the West
10. The French Communist Party After World War II
11. Utopia and Tragedy
12. The Political and the Social
13. An Intentional Movement
14. The Party Above All
15. Disincorporation and Reincorporation of Power
16. Hannah Arendt on the Law of Movement and Ideology
17. The Perversion of the Law
18. The Fabrication of the Social
19. Voluntary Servitude
20. Impossible Reform
21. Planning and Social Division
22. Psychologism and Moralism at Fault
23. Communism and the Constitution of the World-Space
Notes
Index

About the Author

Claude Lefort is the Director of Studies Emeritus in the Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Science Sociales and a leading political philosopher in France. He is the author of many works including Democracy and Political Theory (University of Minnesota Press, 1989) and The Political Forms of Modern Society (MIT Press, 1986). Julian Bourg (Ph.D, University of California, Berkeley, 2001) is assistant professor of history at Bucknell University.