Studying Communism

Students at Deakin in interested in wars, Australia and the Two World Wars is a popular subject, they are fascinated by Nazis as well so The Holocaust is a popular subject. Would students would be interested in the history of communism?  There are the recent books by Archie Brown and Robert Service and also the […]

End of a Communist era: Jyoti Basu

The death on Sunday of Jyoti Basu, Communist Party of India (Marxist) (CPM) leader and Chief Minister of West Bengal 1977-2000 marks the end of an era in the history of the left within the old British Empire and its former colonies. Basu as a student in London in the 1930s was inspired by the […]

Communism and history

Thinking of of writing a book on the modest topic of the past and future of socialist politics. Much Australian left commentary sees the history of socialism as irrelevant, in particular the Communist movement is either an embarrassment or else the product of malign individuals.

Leszek Kolakowski and the fate of Marxism


Leszek Kolakowski the Polish philosopher died a few days ago. He began a zealous young Marxist in postwar Poland, was then a leading intellectual reform Communist in the 1950s and early 1960s who sought to revive an allegedly pure Leninist Communism shed of Stalinist corruptions and then finally renounced Marxism altogether. His major work on […]

Laurie Short

Laurie Short’s death attracted some media coverage. It was curious that little reference was made to the role that the Communists’ recourse to whole-scale ballot rigging played in his rise. Even the official statement by the AWU did not mention this. Also however were rank and file iron workers served by Short’s leadership? They were […]

Cuban opinion

Some political movements and institutions attract an irrational loyalty, they are seen as expressing the triumph of an idea and hence exempt from rational scrutiny. If American conservatism has shown signs of this so has Communism. The ‘Communist’ regimes were rarely judged by rational criteria by their admirers. An interesting recent survey of Cuban opinion […]

Remembering Solzhenitsyn

Solzhenitsyn deserves to be paid homage for The Gulag Archipelago and associated fictional works. They are amazing. Is the Gulag Archipelago history? it is a work written with fury, scorn and contempt, although its description of individual incidents has stood up well. Does it provide a description of the average Gulag experience, of numbers imprisoned […]

Post-Communist passages

My forthcoming paper on Indian Communism examines the divergent roads that Communists took after the revolutions of 1989 in their struggle to maintain political relevance. One option was ‘national socialism’ a strongly nationalist and statist position that often involved alliance with far-right nationalist forces that were once bitter anti-Communists. The Serbian Socialist Party of Slobodan […]