Violence as discourse? For a 'linguistic turn' in communist history
This article argues that any attempt to understand communist policy and practice must engage with the language of marxism-leninism. To this end, it applies the 'linguistic turn' to the history of the Kommunistische Partei Deutschlands (German Communist Party; KPD) in the Weimar period, examining the ways in which communists understood the world around them and detailing the scope (and limits) of a communist discourse shaped and refracted through the experience of the Bolshevik Revolution. The article suggests that the politics of communism are only comprehensible within the context of an already established and linguistically constructed reality. Communists had to learn to 'speak Bolshevik' and thereby interpret events within a Bolshevik lexicon contained within a discursive 'archive' forged from the works Marx, Engels and Lenin.
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Document Type: Research Article
Publication date: May 1, 2010
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- Twentieth Century Communism provides an international forum for the latest research on the subject and an entry-point into key developments and debates not immediately accessible to English-language historians. Its main focus is on the period of the Russian revolution (1917-91) and on the activities of communist parties themselves but its remit also extends to the movement's antecedents and rivals, the responses to communism of political competitors and state systems, and to the cultural as well as political influence of communism.
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