"Intimate Enemies is a bold, highly original reexamination of key events in Bolshevik Party history. Halfin's explanation of the roots of the Great Terror will rank among the most influential ever advanced. He achieves this feat with a unique conceptual lens that fuses cultural history, cultural anthropology, the intellectual history of religion, and prodigious archival research."
Intimate Enemies is a brilliant study of the transformation of Bolshevik Party ideology, language, and power relations during the crucial period leading up to Stalin's seizure of power. Combining extensive research in recently opened Soviet archives with an insightful rereading of intra-Party struggles, Igal Halfin uncovers this evolution in the language of Bolshevism. This language defined the methods for judging true party loyalty-in what Halfin describes as an examination of the 'hermeneutics of the soul,' and became the basis for prosecuting the Party's enemies, particularly the “intimate enemies” within the Party itself. Halfin argues that Bolshevism-which claimed sole access to truth and morality-ultimately demonized its enemies, and became in effect a theology that facilitated a monumental power shift.
Praise for Igal Halfin's earlier work:"The thesis that Marxism constitutes a secular religion is hardly new . . . but historians have resisted it and Sovietologists have simply ignored it. Igal Halfin undertakes the difficult task of defending the primacy of Marxist ideology in molding the Soviet system . . . the payoff is a probing analysis of a unique culture in which party-speak itself has become a social force as potent as any material agent."
Praise for Igal Halfin's earlier work:"Igal Halfin offers a long overdue meditation on how Marxism, especially its eschatological drama of a proletarian messiah, shaped Bolshevik politics and became a discourse of power. Erudite, stimulating, and important . . . deserves to be read cover to cover and savored."
Praise for Igal Halfin's earlier work:"Halfin's is one of the first attempts to firmly root a Foucault-influenced discussion of self-fashioning in newly opened archival sources. This is an immense task, but Halfin provides us with an initial bold step in this direction . . . a remarkable book."
Impressive and original.
Igal Halfin must be counted among the most prolific young scholars in the field of Soviet studies.
A fascinating . . . read. Despite the complexity of the ideas that he presents, his willingness to reproduce living examples from the texts in order to develop his argument ensured that this reader was gripped by the unfolding evolution of language, and its corresponding unleashing of real rather than just rhetorical violence.
Provocative and interesting . . . A new interpretation of the intra-Party struggles that prepared the ground for the Great Purge. . .Most interestingly, Halfin examines in detail how intra-Party struggles were interpreted at the grass roots level.
Igal Halfin is senior lecturer in the department of history at Tel Aviv University. He is the author of Intimate Enemies: Demonizing the Bolshevik Opposition, 1918-1928; From Darkness to Light: Class, Consciousness, and Salvation in Revolutionary Russia; and Terror in My Soul: Communist Autobiographies on Trial. Halfin is also editor of Language and Revolution: The Making of Modern Political Identities.