Lenin's Heirs

Review: Mendonça on Segrillo

Angelo Segrillo. Herdeiros de Lenin: A historia dos partidos comunistas na Russia pos-sovietica. Rio de Janeiro: 7 Letras Publishers/Rio de Janeiro State Foundation for Research Support, 2003. 148 pp. Index, bibliography, list of sources, list of acronyms. R$25.00 (paper. in Brazilian currency), ISBN 978-85-7577-032-0.

Reviewed by: Carlos Eduardo Rebello de Mendonça, Rio de Janeiro State University.
Published by: H-Russia (December, 2007)
The Resilience of Old-Style Communism

If we think of the prospects many English-speaking academics envisioned just after the end of the Cold War--that we were on the threshold of what Ken Jowitt called in 1992 "The Leninist Extinction," or what Francis Fukuyama called the "End of History," indicating that liberal democracy was now "the only game in town"--it is surprising how long a rump form of Communism has survived.[1] All kinds of splinter groups from old-style Stalinist Communist parties are still sizeable and functional political formations worldwide. In no other single country has this phenomenon been more pronounced than in post-Soviet Russia, where the demise of the old Soviet Communist Party (CPSU) has not only provided the postcommunist political establishment with most of its top brass, but also spawned a host of political groups intent on rescuing the Communist Communist heritage.

In this book, Lenin's Heirs: A History of Communist Parties in Post-Soviet Russia, Ângelo Segrillo describes in detail the concrete history of the events around this surprisingly--and at first sight unexpected--survival. To the lay as well as the specialized reader, most of this history, of course, is somewhat boring, in that it demands the detailed retelling, in a coherent narrative, of a long and extended process of splinters, mergers, frictions, squabbles, and open struggles among what seem to be mostly small groupings working at the outer periphery of the already confused and misleading post-Soviet Russian political system. However, behind this apparently misleading appearance, there is a general dynamic that can be discerned from the outset.

To avoid confusion, Segrillo's work is composed of a short introduction and short conclusion, with nine brief chapters describing events extending from roughly 1991 to 2000.