Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Rethinking Lenin

Painting of Vladimir Lenin, Isaac Brodskey
Vladimir Lenin  (1870 - 1924) cast a long shadow over 20th century political theory and praxis, but in the United States he has been painted as an extremist Communist. We think that this portrait is an exercise in historical Dadaism designed to cover up more duplicitous political goals.
Although The American Chronicle is focused tightly on American history, we will reach across our borders when foreign topics are required to better understand our own history by providing necessary context. Lenin is one such subject requiring closer examination because most of popular and right winged politics hinges upon making him the bane of 20th century existence and the cause of the Red Scare hysteria of the post war years.
Lenin ruled briefly the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics from 1918 to 1924, although the practical period of his reign ended in 1922 when a series of strokes incapacitated him. He was a Bolshevik who established a number of very progressive laws including legalization of abortion, civil rights for women, universal health care and education, land reform – all of which makes him nearly indistinguishable from an American Democrat. But this underscores a point in American politics – the only difference between a Republican and Democrat is about 10 – 20 years. There is no substantive difference between the two parties.
Recent research has revealed that Lenin was assassinated by Josef Stalin (1879 - 1953), the dictator who succeeded him, an act concealed by the dilapidated state of the ruler’s health. This murder by Stalin marks a strong division in Soviet history wherein the former ruler was co-opted by the usurper in order to establish his bonafides to succeed to the throne.
Alexander Solzhenitsyn wrote a profound essay many years ago explaining the distinctions between Russia and the Soviet Union – a conflation of which many Americans were wont to indulge due in large part to propaganda induced ignorance. The author noted that the two entities were almost antithetical to each other, the former being a theistic nation of pious people – if only outwardly in some cases - while the latter was an atheistic wasteland.
Solzhenitsyn made his most cogent case comparing the cultures of the two nations by calling on Dostoyevsky as the archetype of the Russian soul and pointing to a barren, desiccated consistory of Soviet command artists as the emblem of Soviet communism.

The same divide exists in Soviet history at the time of Lenin’s death in which he represented the aspirations of the revolutionaries whose goals were generally peaceable while Stalin ruled with an iron fist, machine guns, and gulags.

The 1930s were a time of devastation over much of the world but none more so than in Stalin’s USSR during which time he engaged in countless bloody purges to rid the country of Bolshevik or Leninists influences. His enforced collectivizations resulted in deaths by the millions, most of which were by starvation.

Lenin had insisted on peaceful negotiations with all parties, including the Mensheviks, White Russians, and others hostile to his reforms. This protocol represented the first phase of the October Revolution which was punctuated by the ensuing civil wars between the Red Russians and White Russians, with the latter being a revanchist atavism to the Tsarist imperium.

Although an atheist, Lenin tolerated the Orthodox Church and was a strong opponent of anti-semitism - putting him at considerable odds with the Tsars.

All of this changed with the rise of Stalin whom Lenin had sought to remove from power at the 13th Party Congress in 1924. But as previously noted, failing health and Stalin’s assassination short circuited his plans.

Apres Lenin, le deluge. We have already noted Stalin’s massive party purges and murders, especially in the Ukraine. Many of the deprivations and disasters – particularly famines and starvations – of the post war years were not in any way attributable to Lenin’s agriculture policy. Rather they were the deliberate consequences of Western banksters depriving the Russians of food in order to discredit the Revolution.

In fact, so hostile were Western powers to the October Revolution that British general W Thompson rounded up Bolsheviks in Aberzaijan to murder them in cold blood without trial.

The Western press glorified the Stalin revolution with glowing reports of its progressive and prosperous society all through the 1930s – especially the New York Times and Walter Duranty. Why would the capitalist paper of record conceal the brutalities of Stalin? The most probable reason - in our mind - is that it was influenced and controlled by the banksters who so abhorred the October Revolution. They – such as the Rockefellers and DuPonts – were extra busy during the 1920s and 1930s establishing totalitarian regimes in Europe and the United States. They did not want anyone to understand the brutality of Stalin’s regime.

While we do not find Lenin terribly attractive either as a person or ruler, we are in great accord with him in his recognition that reforms were desperately needed in Russia, and that the isolated, aloof, arrogant aristocracy had outlived its usefulness. On the other hand, Lenin was, according Bertrand Russell, quite modest though rather doctrinaire in his beliefs - a man devoid of pretensions or entitlement.

All of this contrasts with the popular portraiture of Lenin as a Stalinist, ruthless dictator. We encourage Americans to revisit their perceptions of Lenin in light of these disclosures as he was probably the best outcome in all possible Russian worlds at the close of World War I.

Lenin: The Original Dictator? Per-Ake Westerlund,  Socialism Today, February 2004, http://www.socialistalternative.org/literature/lenin/

Vladimir Lenin. (2013, February 22). In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 02:04, February 27, 2013, from http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Vladimir_Lenin&oldid=539562767
Alexander Solzhenitsyn essay of unknown origin
Copyright 2013 Tony Bonn. All rights reserved.


Nicholas said...

After the unsuccessful assassination of the tzar and the execution of his brother Alexander, Lenin famously said "We will go another way" implying the overthrow of the autocracy as a political system. The February Revolution had made it possible. However, Lenin's mistake of assigning a General Secretary within the collective government had untied the hands of a pathological criminal and again brought Russia back to autocracy. Stalin had once confessed to his own mother that he had become the "new Russian tsar". The further fate of the "great revolution" and revolutionaries had been predetermined.
... Today as well as 100 years ago, already the next generation of Russian "revolutionaries" continues to fight against yet another autocrat and assiduously puts forward new idols and future tyrants in order to a life "wasn't dull" for grandchildren.

A new, multipolar political system as a real Democratic Revolution. http://www.modelgovernment.org/

Anonymous said...

It began for Lenin in the UK on Fulbourne Street in 1907.


1907 Russian revolutionary congress in London - Fulbourne Street 2/4

Toasted by Ramsey Macdonald!

In 1888 [Jane the Ripper], MacDonald took employment as private secretary to Thomas Lough who was a tea merchant [Guild Socialist?] and a Radical politician. As a member of the Fabian Society for some time, MacDonald toured and lectured on its behalf at the London School of Economics and elsewhere.