It is now three decades since the collapse of the Soviet Union, which prompted Francis Fukuyama to proclaim the “End of History.” Confident post-mortems of Communism then filled the airwaves. At the height of American triumphalism in 2001, Richard Pipes, a historian who had come to fame with a history of the Russian Revolution published just as the USSR was falling apart, opened his short study Communism. A History by announcing that his book was not only “an introduction to Communism” but also, “at the same time, its obituary.”
Twenty years later, things look different. Russia may no longer be Communist, but Stalin is more admired there than at any time since his death in 1953. Thrown off its perch by the 9/11 attacks, ineffectual military interventions abroad, de-industrialization and spiraling debts eroding the value of the dollar, the United States has bled power and prestige in uncanny parallel with the rise of Communist China in economic power and global influence, not least in the U.S. itself, where institutions from corporate America and Hollywood studios to the NBA, from universities to Congress, have become beholden to the Chinese market and Chinese interests. With the Covid-19 lockdowns of 2020-21, the Chinese model has spread globally, as once-inviolable freedoms – of movement, travel and association, of speech and robust debate over controversial public policies – have been all but abandoned. Liberal democratic capitalism seems moribund, while Chinese Communism assimilates the world. How did this happen, and why did no one see it coming?
In To Overthrow the World, the author investigates the evolution of Communism from a seductive ideal of a classless society into the ruling doctrine of tyrannical regimes, along with the mysterious revival of Communism after its apparent eclipse in 1991. The book will reveal:
- The seeds of statist tyranny and control being laid in Karl Marx’s writing and political career, from the Communist Manifesto to Marx’s feud with the anarchist Bakunin, who foresaw earlier than any other critics what Communism would mean in practice
- The violence and economic devastation unleashed upon every country which fell under Communist rule, along with the draconian levels of surveillance, censorship, and media manipulation used to camouflage state crimes
- The evolution of Communism from ideal to a supple ruling philosophy in Moscow and Beijing which jettisons the unrealistic goal of a “classless” economy in order to maximize state power and wealth, while still eradicating independent civil society
- The export of the “China model” to the U.S. and the world via trade and investment in academe and cultural institutions, media and sports, business and government
Blending narrative with cutting-edge scholarship, To Overthrow the World will revolutionize our understanding of the evolution of Communism.
Sean McMeekin was born in Idaho, raised in Rochester NY, and educated at Stanford and UC Berkeley. He has been fascinated by modern history ever since playing Winston Churchill in a school reenactment of the Yalta Conference at age 15, and Joseph McCarthy in an even more outlandish reenactment of the Army-McCarthy hearings at age 17, which involved camcorders and double agents in the Russian Club. He pursued this interest into various American and European battlefields, libraries, and archives, venturing as far east as Russia, before settling down to teach for some years in Turkey, wh...
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