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Vladimir Lenin: Truth and Oppression

Column

The Parthenon

Published: Thursday, February 28, 2013

Updated: Thursday, February 28, 2013 22:02

Previously, I discussed how Lenin’s perspective on political issues amounted to taking Russian society, shaped like a circle and fitting it into Marxist theory, shaped like a square. Today, I want show how he attempted to do this, what we can learn from his attempt.

If you want to fit a circle into a square, the best thing to do is cut the circle into the shape of a square. Lenin’s policy in the Soviet Union from 1917-1923 did just that. When Lenin took power, he had three major issues: fighting a civil war, ending Russia’s involvement in WWI and restructuring the economy along socialist lines.  Lenin’s method is most evident in his approach to the economy.

First, the Communist Party implemented war communism, which banned money and set up a rationing system. War communism quickly failed, because the peasants were screwed by the system and refused to give away their crops. The industrial workers did not produce enough to satisfy peasant demand either.

So, the Communist Party went to the drawing board and came up with the New Economic Policy, which instituted a highly regulated economy, with free trade amongst peasants and small businesses.  The idea was simple; since Russia was not a highly developed capitalist nation, then the Communist Party would have to develop it along quasi-capitalist lines first, then make the transition into pure socialism.  The NEP was moderately successful, but criticized heavily by hardline communists, who called it a step backwards.  
What I am trying to illustrate is simple. Lenin and his buddies were engaged in social engineering (I use this loosely), by tweaking a society to develop according to Marxist theory. Social engineering cannot be successful if there is any political discourse, because social engineering presupposes the principles it is founded on to be true and proper. If something is true, then there is no dispute to its validity and therefore, all discussion hampers the realization of this truth. If discussion, which supposes a dialogue and hence a diversity of opinion (the opposite of discussion is agreement, which supposes homogeneity of opinion) hampers the realization of truth, then it must be wrong and therefore harmful to those implementing the “truth.”  
One can see why it did not phase Lenin much to sign off on eradicating opposing political parties.

I’m using Lenin and his pursuit of ideological “truth” as an illustration to a serious problem I see in our society. The reason why Capitol Hill is so highly divided is like Lenin, our Congressmen (right or left) think they hold the truth. If a liberal senator thinks his way is “true,” then not only is his conservative counterpart wrong, but the advocacy of his counterpart’s position is an existential threat to his truth. Therefore his opponent must be demonized. The same thing applies conservative’s thoughts on liberals.

The problem is our representatives are ideologues. Their pursuit of “solutions” to social issues isn’t rooted in the study of economics, sociology or political science. Sure, they use these disciplines to support their ideologies when it is to their benefit, but they root their solutions in their belief, just like Lenin did in the Soviet Union. Political dogma, at this point, takes precedence over practical solutions.    
Next week, I will be shifting gears into Stalin’s rise to power.  
Henry Culvyhouse can be contacted at culvyhouse@marshall.edu.
 

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