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.