The Red Flag: A History of Communism

BOOK: The Red Flag: A History of Communism
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The Red Flag
Communism and the Making
of the Modern World

an imprint of



Published by the Penguin Group

Penguin Books Ltd, 80 Strand, London
, England

Penguin Group (USA) Inc., 375 Hudson Street, New York, New York 10014, USA

Penguin Group (Canada), 90 Eglinton Avenue East, Suite 700, Toronto, Ontario,
M4P 2Y3
(a division of Pearson Penguin Canada Inc.)

Penguin Ireland, 25 St Stephen’s Green, Dublin 2, Ireland (a division of Penguin Books Ltd)

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(a division of Pearson New Zealand Ltd)

Penguin Books (South Africa) (Pty) Ltd, 24 Sturdee Avenue,
Rosebank 2196, South Africa

Penguin Books Ltd, Registered Offices: 80 Strand, London
, England

First published 2009

Copyright © David Priestland, 2009

The moral right of the author has been asserted

All rights reserved. Without limiting the rights under copyright reserved above, no part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in or introduced into a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means (electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise) without the prior written permission of both the copyright owner and the above publisher of this book

ISBN: 978-0-141-95738-8

In memory of my mother

List of Illustrations

Photographic acknowledgements are given in parentheses.

Eugene Delacroix,
July 28: Liberty Leading the People
, 1830, Musée du Louvre, Paris (copyright © akg-images/Erich Lessing)

Cartoon from the 1898 German elections, from
Der Wahre Jacob
, 7 June 1898 (copyright © akg-images/Coll. Archiv f. Kunst & Geschichte)

Vladimir Lenin speaks at the opening of a monument to Marx and Engels, 7 November 1918 (copyright © RIA Novosti/ TopFoto)

A still from Sergei Eisenstein’s
(Ronald Grant Archive, London)

Russian civil war poster, 1919 (Musée d’Histoire Contemporaine, Paris)

Starvation in the Ukraine, 1921 (copyright © Mary Evans Picture Library/Rue des Archives)

‘A Spectre Haunts Europe, the Spectre of Communism’; lithograph published by Mospoligraf, 1917–24 (The Hoover Institution Archives, Stanford University RU/SU 524)

D. S. Moor,
Death to World Imperialism
, 1919 (private collection)

Vladimir Tatlin, model of the Monument to the Third International, 1920, Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), New York (PA76. Digital image copyright © 2009 The Museum of Modern Art, New York/ Scala, Florence)

Ho Chi Minh speaking at the opening session of the Socialist Congress in France, 25 December 1920 (copyright © Mary Evans Picture Library/Rue des Archives)

Poster of the International Red Aid, 1930s (copyright © Mary Evans Picture Library/Rue des Archives)

The young Mao Zedong, late 1920s (copyright © Mary Evans Picture Library/Rue des Archives)

Stalin in a poster by Gustav Klutsis,
The Reality of Our Program
, 1931 (copyright © Posters Please, New York)

Stalin in a poster Gustav Klutsis,
Cadres Decide Everything
, 1935 (copyright © Plakat)

Stalin in a poster by K. Ivanov and N. Petrov,
Glory to the Great Stalin, Architect of Communism
(copyright © Plakat)

A cartoon by V. Koslinszky, 1931 (private collection)

Soviet prisoners constructing the White Sea–Baltic canal, 1931–3 (copyright © Mary Evans Picture Library/Rue des Archives)

Soviet peasants taking possession of land allocated in the collective farms, 1935 (copyright © Mary Evans Picture Library/Rue des Archives)

Red Army soldier and proletarian shaking hands, poster, 1928 (copyright © akg-images)

Members of the English Tom Mann Brigade, Barcelona, 1936 (copyright © AP/Press Association Images)

The pavilions of Germany and USSR at the Paris exposition of 1937 (copyright © LAPI/Roger Viollet/Getty Images)

A French Communist Party poster from 1946 (copyright © Mary Evans Picture Library/Rue des Archives)

Communist sympathizers at the Fiat auto plant in Turin, 14 June 1948 (copyright © David Seymour/Magnum Photos)

A Russian policewoman directing traffic in front of the Brandenburg Gate, Berlin, 5 July 1945 (copyright © Mary Evans Picture Library/ Rue des Archives)

Chinese poster showing a Soviet engineer instructing his Chinese colleague (International Institute of Social History, The Netherlands)

V. Ivanov,
Vigilance is Our Weapon
(poster), 1953 (copyright © Plakat)

Wojciech Fangor,
, 1950, Muzeum Sztuki, Lodz (photograph: Piotr Tomczyk)

Nikita Khrushchev and US Vice President Richard Nixon at the United States exhibit at Moscow’s Sokolniki Park, 24 July 1959 (copyright © AP/Press Association Images)

Chinese peasants operating blast furnaces during the Great Leap Forward, 14 June 1958 (copyright © Henri-Cartier Bresson/Magnum Photos)

Soldiers of the People’s Liberation Army during the Cultural Revolution, 1966 (copyright © Mary Evans Picture Library/Rue des Archives)

Execution during the Cultural Revolution, 1966–8 (copyright © Mary Evans Picture Library/Rue des Archives)

Alfredo Rostgaard,
, 1967 (ICAIC)

Alfredo Rostgaard,
Christ Guerrilla
, 1969 (International Institute of Social History, The Netherlands)

A young soldier of the MPLA in Huambo, Angola, 23 February 1976 (copyright © AFP/ Getty Images)

Demonstration outside a Soviet cultural shop, Budapest, 14 June 1956 (copyright © Erich Lessing/Magnum Photos)

East Germans strengthening the Berlin wall (copyright © Mary Evans Picture Library/Rue des Archives)

(a) A Communist demonstration in Paris, May 1968 (copyright © Mary Evans Picture Library/Rue des Archives); (b) invasion by Warsaw Pact troops, Prague, August 1968 (copyright © Joseph Koudelka/Magnum Photos)

Pol Pot leads a column of his men (copyright © AP Photo/Kyodo News)

Killing field south of Phnom Penh, 1996 (copyright © Bruno Barbey/ Magnum Photos)

Propaganda billboard of Colonel Mengistu, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, 1984 (copyright © Rex Features)

Istvan Orosz,
Comrades, It’s Over!
(poster), Hungary, 1990 (copyright © Istvan Orosz)

The fall of the Berlin Wall, 11 November 1989 (copyright © Raymond Depardon/Magnum Photos)

Ceremony to mark the arrival of the Olympic Torch on Tian’anmen Square in Beijing, 31 March 2008 (copyright © Diego Azubel/epa/Corbis)

A Cuban boy holding a picture of Che Guevara during a political rally in Santa Clara, Cuba, 14 June 2003 (copyright © Reuters/Corbis)

Maoist rebel chief Prachanda addressing a rally in Chapagaun village, Nepal, 3 September 2006 (copyright © Narendra Shrestha/epa/Corbis)


Writing global history is a challenge, but I have benefited from the enormous amount of exciting new scholarship published in the last twenty years, much of it based on newly available archival sources. I am also extemely grateful to a number of friends and colleagues who have given me advice and helped me avoid errors. Tom Buchanan, Martin Conway, Mary McAuley, Rory Macleod, Rana Mitter, Mark Pittaway and Stephen Whitefield all read substantial parts of the manuscript; Steve Smith was especially generous with his time and read nearly all of it. Ron Suny has shown me unpublished work on Stalin, Steve Heder shared material on the Khmer Rouge and Laurence Whitehead gave me advice on Cuba. The Cambridge History of the Cold War project, led by Mel Leffler and Arne Westad, was an ideal group in which to discuss the international role of Communism.

The fellows of St Edmund Hall and the History Faculty of Oxford University have provided me with a stimulating and congenial working environment and granted me periods of study leave to work on the book. I am also grateful to the British Academy and the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (both in Shanghai and the Institute of Marxism-Leninism and Mao Zedong Thought in Beijing) for arranging a fruitful study trip to China; to Shio Yun Kan for his brilliant Chinese-language teaching; and to the archivists and librarians at the Russian State Archive for Socio-Political History in Moscow, the Bodleian Library, Oxford, the British Library, and the Russian State Library in Moscow.

Gill Coleridge was an ideal agent, and played a major role in the project from the very beginning; I am very grateful to her for her encouragement and advice. I have also been very fortunate in my publishers. Simon Winder at Penguin was an extremely incisive and impressively knowledgeable editor. Morgan Entrekin at Grove Atlantic was also very supportive, as was Stuart Proffitt at Penguin, and both gave me invaluable comments on the text. I would also like to thank Jofie Ferrari-Adler and Amy Hundley at Grove Atlantic. Thomass Rathnow at Siedler, and Alice Dawson, Richard Duguid and Mari Yamazaki at Penguin. Charlotte Ridings was an extremely effective and patient copy-editor and Amanda Russell’s extensive knowledge of the visual sources was a great help with the illustrations.

My greatest thanks go to Maria Misra, who made an enormous contribution to the book. Her knowledge of Asian and African history helped me to range far more widely than I otherwise would have done, and she read the whole manuscript, saving the reader from a good deal of clumsy prose.

BOOK: The Red Flag: A History of Communism
6.85Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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