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New Left Review I/178, November-December 1989

Boris Kagarlitsky

The Importance of Being Marxist

I hope that the almost Wildean title of my lecture is not misleading. [*] This is the text of the 1989 Isaac Deutscher Memorial Lecture, delivered by Boris Kagarlitsky on 18 september at the London School of Economics. I intend to be totally serious. If there is a place for irony in today’s talk, then it is as one of those ‘ironies of history’ about which Isaac Deutscher wrote so prophetically. I have thought for a long time about what to say in this lecture. Usually, when prize-winners receive their awards, they try to give a very wise and profound speech so as to prove to themselves and to the public that they have not been given the award for nothing. I would probably have done exactly the same if the political situation in my country had been somewhat different and tanks had not yet become a common sight on the streets of many of our cities. But, alas, this is precisely how the situation is developing. Today everybody is expecting a person who has just arrived in the West from the Soviet Union to talk about current political events. And I do intend to speak, not about history, but about what is happening in our country today.

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