For many the Russian revolution of 1917 was a symbol of hope. In the eyes of its critics, however, Soviet authoritarianism and the horrors of the gulags have led to the revolution becoming synonymous with oppression, threatening to forever taint the very idea of socialism. The experience of Georgia, which declared its independence from Russia in 1918, tells a different story. In this riveting history, Eric Lee explores the little-known saga of the country's experiment in democratic socialism, detailing the epic, turbulent events of this forgotten chapter in revolutionary history. Along the way, we are introduced to a remarkable cast of characters - among them the men and women who strove for a more inclusive vision of socialism that featured multi-party elections, freedom of speech and assembly, a free press and a civil society grounded in trade unions and cooperatives. Though the Georgian Democratic Republic lasted for just three years before it was brutally crushed on the orders of Stalin, it was able to offer, however briefly, a glimpse of a more humane alternative to the Soviet reality that was to come.
Eric Lee is a journalist and historian who has spent over thirty years researching independent Georgia, and has himself been active in trade union and political struggles in both the US and UK. His previous works include Saigon to Jerusalem: Conversations with Israel's Vietnam Veterans (1993) and Operation Basalt: The British Raid on Sark and Hitler's Commando Order (2016). www.ericlee.info/theexperiment
Timeline Preface Prologue 1. Founding Father 2. Dress Rehearsal 3. The Experiment Begins 4. The Turn towards Germany 5. At War With Armenia 6. The British Take Charge 7. Georgia's Agrarian Revolution 8. The Independence of the Trade Unions 9. The Rise and Rise of the Cooperatives 10. Achilles' Heel: Georgia's National Minorities 11. Fifth Column 12. Europe's Socialist Leaders Come for a Visit 13. The State That Never Was 14. The Experiment Ends 15. The Final Battle 16. Another Revolution Was Possible