The Society for Socialist Studies is pleased to announce the winner of the 2023 Errol Sharpe Book Prize in Socialist Studies. As a tribute to the robust scholarship undertaken by its members and to recognize their publication achievements, the Society for Socialist Studies awards an annual book prize for a significant contribution to socialist research in Canada. The award is named after the founder of Fernwood Books, Errol Sharpe, a leader in left scholarship since 1991, in recognition of his immense work in promoting scholarship on socialism and from a socialist perspective.
Paul Kellogg’s Truth Behind bars: Reflections on the Fate of the Russian Revolution reckons with the fate of the Russian revolution and notorious gulag system. Kellogg writes from the position of someone long inhabiting movements and discussions pre-occupied with the memory of the Russian Revolution. It is not a moralist reflection on the tension between violence and revolutionary transformation, but one that takes its groundings from the “self-activity of the oppressed,” taking strikes and resistance in Vorkuta as a key site for this self-activity. Truth Behind Bars excavates, too, long-ignored or derided theorists such as Pavel Axelrod and Murtov. From these sources — personal, historical, theoretical — the book makes a provocative diagnosis and critique of “substitutionism,” in which a revolutionary party “substitutes itself” for this self-activity of the proletariat. This book is therefore an indispensable non-revential return to debates about the Russian Revolution and its aftermath. Kellogg’s argument ranges even farther, however, as a reflection on a political ethic grounded in this non-revential approach to history: one that acknowledges the profound impact of means on ends, the need to reckon with revolutionary politics without any alibis.
We heartily congratulate Paul Kellogg on this monumental work of scholarship.