Saturday, January 20, 2024

Lenin's legacy

There were Western intellectuals who believed Bolshevik Russia was the future "and it works." Lenin, its founder, allegedly said “The Capitalists will sell us the rope with which we will hang them.” Today there are "conservatives" (!) who apparently see Putin's Russia as something to be emulated. Here it is argued that Putin's Russia inherited its moral approach from Lenin:
Vladimir Lenin has been gone for a century, but the evil he did lives on. The first leader of the Soviet Union died on Jan. 21, 1924, in Gorki, Russia (now called Nizhny Novgorod), after repeated strokes. His legacy is a world whose moral equilibrium he helped to destroy.

The Soviet Union was based on Marxism, a secular religion, and Lenin was the architect of its system of anti-morality. For Lenin, as he said in his speech to the Komsomol on Oct. 2, 1920, morality was entirely subordinated to the class struggle. An action was right not in light of “extrahuman concepts” but only if it destroyed the old society and helped to build a new communist society. ....

Lenin was born in 1870 in Simbirsk (now Ulyanovsk), the son of a senior school inspector. In 1893 he moved to St. Petersburg, where he joined the Marxist party and published a book, “What Is to Be Done?” (1902), in which he described a plan for seizing power by a disciplined “vanguard” party of professional revolutionaries. The unacknowledged model for this party was the Russian People’s Will, which was founded in 1879 and in 1881 carried out the assassination of Alexander II, the “Czar Liberator,” who 20 years earlier had freed the Russian serfs.

In February 1917, Lenin’s party, the Bolsheviks, had 24,000 members. It was able to triumph in a country of more than 100 million because it was a machine of concentrated power that accepted murder and glorified it as a moral obligation. Isaac Steinberg, the non-Bolshevik justice minister in the first revolutionary government, objected to summary executions. He sarcastically asked Lenin: “Why bother with a Commissariat of Justice? Let’s call it the ‘Commissariat for Social Extermination.’” Lenin’s face lit up, and he said: “That’s exactly what it should be, but we can’t say that.” ....

When the Soviet Union fell, Russia dismantled the socialist economy but didn’t restore the moral framework Lenin destroyed. The result was the rise of a criminal state no less dangerous than its predecessor—one that has engaged in assassinations, shot down civilian airliners, and even bombed apartment buildings to bring Mr. Putin to power. ....

One of Lenin’s last writings was a set of recommendations for deceiving “deaf-mutes,” his term for Western capitalists who were ready to ignore Soviet crimes in their pursuit of profit. His plan was to promote the fiction of a legitimate government in the Soviet Union separate from the Communist Party and establish relations with as many countries as possible to create a false impression of normality.

Lenin’s plans were adopted by the Soviet regime and inherited by post-Soviet Russia with its fixed elections, controlled Parliament and “outreach”....

Lenin’s mausoleum is visited annually by an estimated 2.5 million people, but his popularity in Russia has declined compared with Stalin, who is credited with the victory in World War II. The figure of Lenin, however, stands as the symbol of history’s first rejection of universal standards on behalf of a political movement that claimed a monopoly on truth. .... (more)

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