Georgian social democracy was the most successful social democratic movement in the Russian Empire. Despite its small size, it produced many of the leading revolutionary figures of 1917, including Irakli Tsereteli, Karlo Chkheidze, Noe Zhordania, and Joseph Stalin. In the first of two volumes, Stephen Jones writes the first history in English of this undeservedly neglected national movement, which represented one of the earliest examples of European social democracy at the turn of the twentieth century.
Georgian social democracy was part of the Russian social democracy from which Bolshevism and Menshevism emerged. But innovative theoretical programs and tactics led Georgian social democracy down an independent path. The powerful Georgian organization united all native classes behind it, and it set a remarkable precedent for many of the anti-colonial nationalist movements of the twentieth century. At the same time, Georgian social democracy was committed to a "European" path, a "third way" that attempted to combine grassroots democracy, private manufacturing, and private land ownership with socialist ideology.
One of the few Western historians fluent in Georgian, Jones fills major gaps in the history of revolutionary and national movements of the Russian Empire.
A splendid account, which breaks new ground. Stephen Jones brings Georgian Marxism back to life on its own terms and in its own time. He is brilliant at setting the national, social, and cultural context, and he succeeds in relating the Georgian movement to the wider frame of Russian imperial and indeed global history.
This fine book breaks new ground in its original and persuasive narrative of a unique social movement. Georgian Social Democracy was the first Marxist movement in the world to gain massive peasant support, something later achieved in China and Vietnam, but in the Georgian case also established a successful democratic socialist government in a time of revolution and civil war. The Georgians managed to marry socialism, democracy, and a moderate, tolerant form of nationalism. There are lessons to be learned in this history.
This is the first detailed study in English of Georgian social democracy based on archival and secondary sources in the Georgian language as well as in Russian. For this reason alone, it should hold a lasting place in the growing literature on the regional and ethnic revolutionary movements in the Russian Empire.
- 410 pages
- 6-1/8 x 9-1/4 inches
- Harvard University Press
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