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Lenin had Marxist tendencies

Column

The Parthenon

Published: Friday, February 22, 2013

Updated: Friday, February 22, 2013 10:02

Lenin’s actions and policy decisions from 1917 to 1923 laid the foundation for the world’s first police state nightmare.  While Lenin did use arms, deceit and revolutionary gusto to centralize political power into the hands of the Communist Party, I think the reasons behind these actions should be examined.

Lenin’s view on the function of government is classic Marxism. In “State and Revolution” Lenin argues government is a product of a society’s class divisions.  The dominating class creates government to preserve their high status. Lenin claims in capitalism, representative democracy, such as in the U.S, is a tool to preserve the incomes of CEOs, stock brokers and politicians.   
This does not really tell us much why Lenin chose to establish the Cheka, the Soviet Union’s first secret police, to arrest and execute political dissidents. But it gives us a handle on how Lenin approached politics. Lenin did not measure reality in terms of what was happening before him. He instead chose to look at every issue from a Marxist position.

In taking a Marxist position on everything, from grain rations to fighting the Russian Civil War, Lenin always sought for what he considered the “purest” solution that would be in agreement with Marx’s writings.  
What we have here is a zealot. Lenin believed in Marx’s words so much, it was like a religion. But because Marxism is a philosophy that encourages exploration and study of the world around you, he chose to make Marx’s words into a social scientific law reality conforms with.  (Of course there’s a wealth of Marxist scholars who applied more critical thinking and questioned Marx.)
Lenin approached the Soviet Union like Dr. Frankenstein and his corpse.

According to Marxist theory, Russia would be one of the last European nations to have a communist revolution. Communist revolutions would first start in highly industrialized countries, where the working class, such as miners and factory workers, formed a majority of the population. In Lenin’s day, it was thought Britain or France would turn Red in the next decade or two.

Russia had a very small working class, most which was concentrated in Moscow or St. Petersburg. The vast majority was peasants, and Lenin did not believe the peasants could lead a revolution. But he knew the workers were not large enough to lead it either.  In order to grow the working class and introduce more industry into Russia, Lenin needed to figure something out, a solution Marx had not thought of.

Lenin theorized since Russia had such a small working class, it was up to the Bolshevik Party, a group of predominantly  middle class intellectuals, to educate, agitate, and lead the revolution for them. Lenin called these party members, “professional revolutionaries.” After the revolution, Lenin advocated eliminating rival political parties, because he believed the working class was not ready to lead society. Socialist democracy would come soon, Lenin promised, but not until the workers were “ready”  to assume the responsibility of running a society.

Some argue Lenin was a con man, a tyrant who hid behind Marxist rhetoric to get his way. I do not buy that. Lenin tried to foster both friends and enemies within the Bolshevik Party into leadership roles. The cult of personality that spread his face all over the USSR occurred after his death.

Lenin’s use of power was done for a reason other than maintaining a position or installing his own regime. He was trying to make reality conform to the words of Karl Marx. And like a scientist, he didn’t really think about the morality of his methods.

Henry Culvyhouse can be contacted at culvyhouse@marshall.edu.
 

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