In common with other recent studies of international communism, Smith--whose focus in a wide ranging volume is communism in power--notes that the Bolsheviks understood the October Revolution of 1917 as 'inaugurating a new stage in human history, the beginning of the transition from capitalism, a system they believed was based on exploitation, inequality, and war, to communism'.
Yet, despite these new biographically informed insights in the culture of communism and the states it ruled over, we still know more about the political history of the Comintern and its 'national sections'.
Tauno Saarela's review of literature on Scandinavian communism not only helps us break through the language barrier, but also shows how a relatively under-researched region--usually associated with social democracy--fits into the wider historiography.
What did the communism in anti-communism stand for?
What alternative to communism did the anti-communist stand for?
How far was communism conceived more as internal or as external threat--and what was the relation between them?
Albeit with some notable exceptions, the international comparative literature on communism even now is surprisingly undeveloped.
Over the next two issues, they will include reviews of recent work on communism in Latin America (by Daniela Spenser); in Germany (by Reiner Tostorff); and in southern Asia (by Sobhanlal Datta Gupta).
The instrumentalisation of anti-communism for conservative or openly reactionary political projects should not be used, as communists themselves tended to use it, to conflate and delegitimise any such form of opposition to communism.
Thanks are also due to the new Communism Specialist Group of the Political Studies Association of the UK, which funded the Manchester event from which much of this material is drawn, with additional support from the universities of Durham and Manchester.
Finally, this is the first issue of Twentieth Century Communism to appear on its new twice-yearly basis.