Edition: Lublin 2010
The article is a review of Martin Malia’s History’s Locomotives. Revolutions and the Making of the Modern World recently published in Polish translation. The author starts by deploring the wrong title selected for the publication by the American editor, Yale University Press, and also used by the Polish editor, PWN. The Marxist metaphor for the revolution – “history’s locomotives” – suggests that there is a historically determined one-track, one-way road to modernity that all countries must follow. This is precisely the opposite of Martin Malia’s view, according to which there are many different roads to modernity and not just one. The Leninist seizure of power in Russia in 1917 was not a road to modernity but a road with dead end. Malia makes a careful comparative study of various revolutions, mainly the three “Atlantic” Revolutions (English, American and French) and the Russian October Revolution and comes to the conclusion that whereas the English, American and French are species of the same kind because they resulted with an establishment of a civil society with a free market, the Russion Revolution of 1917 belongs to a different kind of revolutions altogether. According to Martin Malia the specificity of the October Revolution is more linked with the Marxist-Leninist ideology than with peculiarities of the Russian history of autocracy. The October seizure of power was the seizure of power of a new, Leninist type of party and not of the working class as the Marxists wanted us to believe. According to Malia the Leninist interpretation of Marxism was a legitimate, realistic and completely orthodox interpretation of Marxism and not its aberration or betrayal of Marxists. On that point Malia’s views are the same as those of such Polish Sovietologists as Leszek Kolakowski and Andrzej Walicki.