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The Russian revolution’s unhappy birthday

A centenary consensus dismisses the Soviet takeover as an unmitigated failure. That says more about us than the Bolsheviks

By Sheila Fitzpatrick   October 2017

The erstwhile winners are being thrown onto the dustheap of history.

Is there a lesson to be drawn from the Russian Revolution at its centenary? “Try again. Fail again. Fail better,” is the word from Marxist provocateur Slavoj Žižek, channelling “Lenin at his Beckettian best.” Author China Miéville is similarly downbeat, identifying the lesson as the recognition that “things changed once, and they might do so again.” Those are the friendly assessments from the left.

Move right, and it gets worse. Egregious failure is the general message—failure of the…

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