Why Lenin?

xportal    By: Adam Danek

In Lenin’s Kerzhenet spirit

The Abbot cries decrees,

As if the sources of all storms

He was looking at the books of Old Believers.

                                         –  Nikolai Klyuev, Lenin (1918) [1]

VI Lenin

Why Lenin?

The historical significance of the form of Vladimir Lenin is too often reduced to the role he played as a communist ideologue, the leader of the Bolshevik movement and possibly founder of the Soviet state, but only superficially seen as the Bolshevik state, the first communist country in the world.  Meanwhile, Lenin does not equal communism nor vice versa.  For followers of the Communist slogans of equality and human liberation, the political legacy of Lenin must appear to be a very troublesome.

Marxism of Lenin 

45808_141594255875792_2937468_nLenin used to say that Marx joined the German philosophy, English economics and French socialism.  Within Lenin himself, from all of those, was only German philosophy.  Lenin was steeped in German intellectual culture; even in his private notes used German phrases or simply reworded them in German.  He did not relish in the sentimental and humanitarian waxing on about the “people” or “humanity” in the French style, nor did he focus on criticizing the relevant economic relations in Western Europe so unilaterally, as Marx.

The thought of Lenin grew out of different sources than the thought of Marx, and then Marxism and its teaching evolved in a completely separate direction in the western Marxism of Kautsky, Renner or even Rosa Luxembourg.  He became a wholly dissimilar to the latter.  Sources on the thoughts Lenin are described by the excellent Sovietologist Father Innocenti Bocheński:

“In nineteenth-century Russia has developed a spiritual attitude actually very characteristic and perhaps the only one of its kind in the world.  I think of the attitude of the class, which is called the “intelligentsia” which was so well described by Dostoevsky. This intelligentsia has produced a number of thinkers and writers, the Russian revolutionary thinkers, on which Lenin grew up in the same way as in Marx.  One of them, namely, Chernyshevsky, he still cites as one of its major sources.  Similarly, the great influence exerted on him by Dobroliubov.  But also other revolutionaries like Tkachev, Ogarev and Pisarev interacted heavily on him.  They have almost nothing in common with thinkers centered around Marx.  Firstly what is most visible is an astonishing radicalism and extremism.  Secondly, a metaphysical tendency for explaining the highest of all the principals.  Thirdly, the sacred aura.  You also find a religious attitude of even atheistic thinkers.  And finally, a very deep understanding of social problems, passionate devotion to them.  Lenin is one of them.  It is a Russian, who has read many books of Western, who himself lived abroad, but in the Russian ghetto.  It is therefore not surprising that Marxism in his hands has become something other than what it was originally: Marxism-Leninism, namely. “

In short, the thought of Lenin does not belong to bourgeois culture.  For it did not grow from it, its not a product of it; it is independent of the other – as opposed to the western Marxism.

Party of Lenin

scioperiMarx believed that the prophets of his political revolution will lead a “proletariat”, which, moreover – as indicated by Jerzy Braun – he invented for this purpose, because nothing really existed:

“In addition, as rightly concludes Berdyaev, the proletariat does not actually exist , is only a fiction, invented by Marx.  There is a real working class, which Marx awakens with a sense of proletarian consciousness.  The worker should feel proletarian, or being held back, the victim of injustice, rebellious against God, history, and all those who are not proletarians. “

Lenin presented incomparably more realism.  In his first important work , “What is to be Done?” (1902) explicitly rejected the Marxian dreams: rather the proletariat is stupid and of itself incapable of effective action, the competent organizer of the revolution can only be elitist and strictly disciplined political party, composed of carefully selected and prepared people.  In this way, Lenin negates the democratic and egalitarian studded pipe dream thinking of the left, and stands as a representative of elitism in the sociology of politics, like his contemporaries Georges Sorel, Vilfredo Pareto, Gaetano Mosca and Robert Michels. Mosca and Pareto argued in their writings that in any political system the real subject of power is a narrow ruling elite; Sorel showed that revolutions are always a work determined minority, forming political myths needed to mobilize their supporters; Michels described the instrumental nature of any mass movements in the hands of narrow oligarchic leadership groups.  Sorel in the last years has been an outspoken supporter of Lenin anyway.  The famous preface to the third edition (1919) of his principal work , “Reflections on Violence” is titled “Pour Lénine” .

Innocenti Bocheński characterizes Leninist party:

“Marxist-Leninist concept of the party can be summarized in four main points: the party is a small elite, is the leading elite, composed of professional revolutionaries, and is organized for the military. (…). It follows that the lot is the creation of an aristocratic, is an organization of the best in the nation. (…). The fourth and final feature of the party is the military organization.  Technically called the organization’s “democratic centralism”; all organs of the party, all of its authority shall be elected by the members, but once you have been elected, we all have to listen to the party prevailed iron discipline. Lenin once said that the Communist Party is the party of a new type.  And in fact – due to the strict discipline and reigning in her spirit – it can not be compared with any democratic party.  The closest analogy to the Communist Party are without a doubt the medieval military orders: they were in the service of military organizations developed faith. (…). The relevant science can be said elements of two kinds.  It includes the one hand the number of general rules applicable in every war. On the other hand, it recommends special rules that can not be found in standard textbooks of the art of war, and which seem to be an original contribution of Lenin.  When it comes to general elements should be said that no political party probably thought so harshly and consistently in military terms as communist party.  Within this ideology it is taught that, in practice, instruments of war are the primary thought . (…).  Great emphasis is placed on the attack; same for defense – as you know – without which you can not win the war, and Marxism-Leninism knows it.  He also teaches that you should attack the weakest link in the chain of the enemy forces and similar matters.  But above all, Marxism-Leninism teaches that we must also proceed dialectically, not with a blunt gallop on the principles.  In this respect Marxism-Leninism does not contain anything that would not normally be known to a trainee officer.  What is new is that these principles are intended to serve as a rule of political action. “

Militarized model of a political party created by Lenin was taken over then faithfully by the Italian fascists and other nationalist movements like the Chinese Kuomintang or of General Franco’s Falange.

Lenin Policy

Stefan Kisielewski wrote: “I think Lenin was not so much a theorist of revolution, as a theorist gripping and holding power”.  And to his sentence must be upheld.  Described in the famous book by the fascist Curzi Malaparte “Coup Technique” (1931), Lenin created the plot or strategy for improving on the older model (Blanquism).  He pointed the way for all authoritarian and anti-demoliberalist movements that engaged in political upheavals in Europe, or make their attempts throughout the interwar period.  In Poland, the big admirer of Lenin was Marian Reutt, one of the main ideologists of the National-Radical Movement, called the phalanx.  Other Falangist, Wojciech Wasiutyriski, after years recalled his late colleague then: “Reutt had a great admiration for Lenin, received almost unqualified totalist-collectivist socialist program.  Since communism shared this with a very far conceived nationalism. (…).  Piasecki admitted »Lenin’s head”. ‘ Co-founder of the Spanish Falange, Ernesto Giménez Caballero, in an extremely popular book, “The Spirit of Spain” (1932) Lenin was named as one of the master chief implementers of the idea of the nation.

st_george_order_crossLike all prominent political leader, Lenin was a combination of far-reaching political objectives and consistency in pursuit of them with freedom from dogmatism in practical action.  During the civil war in Russia he spoke once before entering the Smolny Palace with a delegation of military regiment cuirassiers of the guard.

One of the NCOs had on his breast the Holy Cross medal of St. George, a deocration belonging to the most esteemed in the Tsarist army.  Lenin asked: “Tell me, comrade Kusin, from whom did he take his George? “ Confused, the soldier asked: “Take?” Lenin reassured him: “Whoever you are, and whatever the case; Wear it proud.  Let them know that in the Soviet power struggles brave people.”

Lenin State

After capturing power, Lenin created a new, one-party political system, which complements the hierarchical organization of the state, a militarized and elite party organization.  Also issuing from this, Lenin is the father of fascism and related movements, as well as non-European authoritarian regimes in the second half of the twentieth century. Moderate conservative Roger Scruton even in 2002 wrote out of malice about the “strange calling of gangster terrorism and Leninist one-party governments, which by the Baath Party Hafiz al-Assad imposed in Syria, and in Iraq with Saddam Hussein” [2] .  He did not notice was that it was the most stable and functional governments in that part of the world.

Economics of Lenin

Museum-of-CommunismLenin finally brought its contribution to political economy.  This contribution should not be seen as having much to do with theoretical lengthy pleadings, announcing the “end of capitalism” (there are authors who have more interestingly written on this subject), but in the course of his economic policy.  Lenin formulated and implemented in practice the concept of a completely statocratic economics: a model of economic management in which the state may act according to its needs, and need not be interfered with in any manifestation of economic life, and has instruments capable to break the filibuster of any economic pressure groups, whether they are factory owners and companies, or trade unions, or financiers.  In such a model there can be a shift from the total subordination of all the country’s resources as well as the distribution requirements arising from armed conflict in order to defeat the enemy (“war communism” from the years 1917 to 1921), to a broad return to private economic initiative to rebuild the country’s resources which are depleted in the war effort (New Economic policy initiated in 1921), with the all the tools and corrective controls remaining permanently in the hands of the state and which can be used at any time.  The same model of economic management was later implemented in Fascist Italy.  National syndicalist Kazimierz Zakrzewski, referring to the study , “Lenin as an economist” (1930) quotes well the sovietologist Stanislaus Swianiewicz when he wrote: “Also fascist statism is the resonance concept of “state capitalism” developed by Lenin on the ground of Hilferding.  In the words Swianiewicz, state capitalism in terms of Lenin is “the organization of economic life, which allows registration and calculation of all forces and production capabilities and centralized control over the functioning of the institutions steering the whole social economy” (…).  Not otherwise recognize fascists economic policy guidelines of the State. “

Lenin’s legacy

Lenin, like any politician, remained misleading and made errors.  Among them was an aggressive ideological hostility to religion, supported by doctrine, but this brought political harm rather than gains.  The Church certainly would not have come to the defense of the capitalist economic solutions or the social relationships of private ownership, and with his support or at least neutrality, the introduction of the new system would be held probably in an incomparably more peaceful way.  Lenin’s error was repeated after World War II, the Communists, among others, in Poland had designated the church on the enemy instead of looking for a real modus vivendi , which then permanently alienated each nation.  Another mistake was the propaganda of liberal individual freedoms, which Lenin acquiesced – probably the only nod to liberalism in the country, which was completely illogical.  The pernicious social effects of this propaganda was fully understood by Lenin’s successor, Joseph Stalin, and thus put an end to it once and for all.  Neither the undoubted errors of Lenin, nor our own prejudices, however, should overshadow what he has given.

Liberal individual rights – ironically granted to a company by the liberal (social democratic) Left – rightly recognizes Lenin as being representative of something completely alien to its world; a world described in its various aspects, by Ernst Jünger in “The Worker” (1932), James Burnham in“Managerial Revolution” (1941) and John Kenneth Galbraith in “New Industrial State” (1967).  In contrast, right from the beginning of the revolution, Lenin could see something significant in the form, about which I wrote a few years ago [3] .

People have a right to make up their own mind, and decide if they have more to learn.  On one side stands Lenin as theoretician and practitioner of politics, leader, creator of the new in the history of the system, which, however – as noted Russian thinker Alexander Dugin – represents at least some features of traditional society.  Lenin, by his real world actions and successes shattered the acknowledged canons of Marxism: humanitarianism, egalitarianism, democracy (Engels fought for universal suffrage, but Lenin moved the source of power outside the electoral process and elections were demoted to the role of prostrations of popular power independent of him) , economism.  On the other side stands a host of right-wing authors, who often could not do anything but writing subsequent books, commenting in their reality, which they failed to exert any influence.

Translation by: Joaquin Flores, CSS – The original in Polish can be found here at XPortal

[1] Przeł. Andrzej de Lazari.

[2] Przeł. Tomasz Bieroń.

[3] Adam Danek, Rewolucyjna prawica i Lenin, „Najwyższy Czas!”, 2008, nr 25 (944) oraz „Myśl Polska”, 6-13 VII 2008.


1 thought on “Why Lenin?

  1. Pingback: Adam Danek: Dlaczego Lenin?

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