ADVANTAGES

Recounting the deep tragedy of the socialist capitulation to nationalism at the outset of World War I, Ali’s identification with Lenin hits its strongest notes. He maintains that Lenin’s belief in cascading revolutions across Europe was completely plausible, and that the ability of the working class to prevent or sabotage the war was real. The war was patently immoral—Ali assembles a nauseating array of quotes from European leaders on the glories of imperialism—and yet it precipitated the retreat of the European socialist movement from the international revolutionary project. Lenin would have to find a way for Russia to play the leading role, hoping they could inspire a European proletariat betrayed by its leaders.

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