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Other titles in the Columbia Studies in Political Thought/Political History series:
Complications: Communism and the Dilemmas of Democracy (Columbia Studies in Political Thought / Political History)
Synopses & Reviews
Complications: Communism and the Dilemmas of Democracy ties together the central concerns of the work of Claude Lefort over the past half-century. A pivotal figure in French thought, Lefort studied under Maurice Merleau-Ponty, cofounded with Cornelius Castoriadis the influential journal Socialisme ou Barbarie, and famously engaged in a heated debate with Jean-Paul Sartre over the Soviet Union and Communist parties in the West. He has influenced generations of political thinkers and throughout his career has offered invaluable leftist, non-communist critiques of both liberalism and Communism.
It is the prevailing belief that the death of communism was a victory for liberal democracy. In Complications, however, Lefort challenges this interpretation and provides new ways of understanding the rise and fall of the Soviet Union and the Communist phenomenon. Lefort engages the work of prominent historians Martin Malia and FranAois Furet and shows how their emphasis on illusion and ideology led to their failure to understand the logic and workings of the Communist Party, and its impact on Soviet society, and the reasons why so many in the West had Communist sympathies. He also maintains that those who regard the end of Communism as the triumph of markets and freedom restrict the scope of democratic thought and the possibility of greater social equality.
Lefort contends that Communism must be seen as part of a larger history of modernity and believes that the diagnosis of its death is dangerous to the future of democracy. In the tradition of Hannah Arendt and Raymond Aron, Lefort complicates the pieties of historical understanding and offers a new approach to thinking abouttotalitarianism and a more vital democracy.
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