1. Lenin was deranged in the end: In 2001, a film on Vladimir Ilyich Lenin, the Soviet dictator was stopped from being screened at the Calcutta Film Festival. The censorship was effected by the Communist ruling elite supported by the street storm-troopers of left organisations like the Democratic Youth Federation of India (DYFI). The film made by Russian director Alexander Sukorov was on the last few years of Lenin's life and was based mostly on the data of Lenin's personal life which was declassified only after Perestroika. The movie showed Lenin as 'a deranged person who regularly visited prostitutes, was anti-Semitic and anti-Georgian'. The film which was to be screened at the Calcutta annual Film Festival was withdrawn at the last moment.
2. Lenin was sponsored by Germany against Russia:
Many historians as well as critics of Lenin and his Bolshevik party have pointed out from 1917 itself that Lenin could have been at the service of Germany which was then at war with Russia. Biologist and political philosopher Robert Wesson had pointed out the connection:
To say that Lenin was financed by the Kaiser’s government seemed poor taste. But after World War II, German documents became available that showed that Lenin did receive funds from German sources on a large scale and over an extended period, particularly during the months when the Bolsheiks were clawing their way to power.‘Lenin’s Legacy: the Story of CPSU’,1978
The methodology followed by Lenin to help the German cause in Russia , as described by Wesson is very familiar to any observer of Marxists in India:
Of the many channels through which the German might operate, Lenin and his party were by far the most suitable. Lenin was the most thorough and emphatic opponent of defensism and the most capable organizer and propagandist, was supported by a consequential party. ... More important, he was able to spread defeatist propaganda and, through Bolshevik agents, cells, and publications, to demoralize the armed forces. He had apparently already shown his willingness to do so in 1912 by negotiating with German authorities regarding propaganda in Russia in case of war. ...He cooperated with the German government by propagandizing Russian prisoners while he was in Switzerland. It would have been equally surprising if Lenin had refused to accept a Germany subsidy.ibid.pp.57-8
In 2017, historian Sean McMeekin writing about the issue in 'New York Times' pointed out:
No matter Lenin’s real intentions, it is undeniable that he received German logistical and financial support in 1917, and that his actions, from antiwar agitation in the Russian armies to his request for an unconditional cease-fire, served the interests of Russia’s wartime enemy in Berlin. They also brought about disastrous consequences for Russia herself, from territorial dismemberment in 1918 to decades of agony under the suffocating Bolshevik dictatorship.‘Was Lenin a German Agent?’
3. Lenin conceived and unleashed Red Terror
Using the assassination of Moisei Uritskii, the head of the Petrograd Cheka, the intelligence wing, Lenin conceived and unleashed terror upon the Russians. Lenin instructed 'Prepare terror; it is expedient and urgent'. Mikhail Ol'minskii, one of Lenin's comrades himself stated that it had soon become nothing but 'wholesale criminality'. Lenin, thus, was the forerunner of Stalinist terror. Lenin explicitly ordered the party officials thus:
(1) Hang (I mean hang publicly so that people will see it) at least 100 kulak rich bastards and known blood-suckers. (2) Publish their names. (3) Seize their grain. Do all this so that for miles around people will see it all, understand it and tremble.
Robert W Pringle, who compiled the Historical Dictionary of Russian and Soviet Intelligence (Rowman & Littlefield, 2015) that years after the death of Joseph Stalin, former Foreign Minister Vyacheslav Molotov told a young researcher that in comparison to Stalin ‘Lenin was more severe and he reproached Stalin for his softness.’
4. Lenin’s inhuman approach to the famine he created:
The Bolshevik Party of Lenin before the so-called revolution had only 494 peasants and had only four rural party cells. The alienation and even somewhat a contempt towards the land owning peasants and also the ruthless collectivisation attempts by the Soviets under Lenin resulted in devastating famines by 1918. Lenin again used the famine to wage a war against poor peasants whom he considered as land owning enemies of the revolution.
By 9 May 1918, Soviets declared a decree on the monopoly of food which empowered the Commissariat of Food to extract from the peasants any grain held in excess of quotas set by the Commissariat. A 10,000 strong cadre was created for forcible collection and by 1920 this would become 45,000. Lenin later admitted (or perhaps boasted): 'Practically we took all the surplus grain - and sometimes even not only surplus grain but part of the grain the peasants required.' Lenin also suggested taking hostages, '15-20 hostages from among the rich' for forcible collection of food grains. (Robert Conquest, The Harvest of Sorrow: Soviet Collectivization and the Terror-Famine, OUP, 1987)
He saw the famine, which he knew had reduced people to the pitiable condition of eating human corpses, as an opportunity to further his own political programme. He wrote to Molotov triumphantly:
It is precisely now, and only now, when in the starving regions people are eating human flesh, and hundreds if not thousands of corpses are littering the roads, that we can (and therefore must) carry out the confiscation of church valuables with the most savage and merciless energy. . . crushing any ..resistance.quoted in Beryl Williams, Lenin, Routledge, 2014, p.137: the letter was declassified only in 1988.
At the end of Lenin's dictatorship - through mass executions, massive deaths in Gulags and the first Soviet famine (1918-23) almost six to eight million people were dead. (Zbigniew Brzezinski, Out of Control: Global Turmoil on the Eve of the 21st Century, Simon & Schuster,2010).
5. People of Soviet Union under Lenin were saved by US Aid
Benjamin Weissman observes: ‘Lenin's attitude toward human suffering had not changed substantially since the famine of 1891, when he had scorned the relief efforts of the intelligentsia as an evasion of revolutionary duty. In his view the proletariat could not shrink from sacrificing the welfare of the peasants and even workers in the interest of the Revolution.’
By 2 August 1921, Lenin was appealing to the international proletariat to help the Soviet republic of workers and peasants. Ultimately, Soviet Union had to seek the 'bourgeois humanitarianism'. In fact, it was not Lenin but Gorky (possibly with Lenin's permission) who sought United States aid. Herbert Hoover, then secretary of commerce and later president of the United States and the American Relief Administration (ARA), started relief work in the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR). Thus, bourgeois humanitarianism saved more Soviet lives than international proletariat sympathy. (Benjamin M. Weissman, 'Herbert Hoover and Famine Relief to Soviet Russia, 1921–1923', Hoover Institution Press, 1974)
6. Philosophers’ Boats: 'Let us purge Russia for a long while.’
After Lenin had to reconcile with the fact the Communist model was non-functional by allowing the New Economic Policy, he became paranoid about the subsequent possibility of even limited economic liberalism. So, in 1922 he gave humanity an enduring symbol of intellectual cleansing - 'philosophers' boats'. All intellectuals, academics, philosophers, poets etc. who were doubted of harbouring ideologies contrary to the dialectical materialist doctrine of Marx and who were doubted to be skeptical of 'revolution' were sent in exile in the boats now known to the world as 'philosophers' boats'.
In a letter Lenin wrote to Stalin on July 17 1922, we can see how he asked him about the actions taken against many of the intellectual enemies of the State. The letter complained that the purging of intellectuals through deportation was getting delayed. He asked if the decision to 'eradicate' the rival socialists had been finalised.
Regarding these intellectuals he wrote : 'As far as I am concerned deport them all. They are more harmful than any SR because they are more clever.’ (SR: mainly agrarian 'Socialist Revolutionaries' whom Lenin hated)
Even rumour was sufficient for deportation. So, Liubov and her young daughter had to be deported because 'rumour has it they are the vilest enemies of Bolshevism'. He instructed Stalin to make the commission 'present lists and several hundreds of such ladies and gentlemen who must be deported without mercy'.
'Let us purge Russia for a long while' he wrote and urged that 'it should be done at once.' 'Arrest a few hundred and without a declaration of motives - out you go, ladies and gentlemen!' (Vladimir Brovkin, Russia After Lenin: Politics, Culture and Society, 1921-1929, Routledge, 2005, pp.21-2)
7. Lenin was the progenitor of Marxist inquisition against science in the USSR
Lenin through his booklet, Materialism and Empirio-criticism (1908), gave his verdicts on scientists and philosophers of science like Bogdanov, Wilhelm Ostwald, Poincaré, Le Rey and Berman. The dogmatic judgments Lenin made on some of the scientists and philosophers of science of his period had subsequently a very adverse effect on the development of science in the USSR. Perhaps, physicists and historians of science world over consider the transition period from Newtonian physics to new physics a period of great renaissance but for Lenin, this period was one of “a temporary deflection, a transitory period of sickness in the history of science, an ailment of growth.”
By 1913, Lenin presented Marxism in rapturous, religious glory rich in Euro-centrism, stating that the 'Marxist doctrine is omnipotent because it is true' and that it is 'the legitimate successor to the best that man produced in the nineteenth century, as represented by German philosophy, English political economy and French socialism'.
Though Einstein was soft on Lenin, the Soviet regime under Lenin was ironically against Einstein. Two Marxist theoreticians, A K Timiriazev and A A Maksimov, who were supported by Lenin, waged a war against Einstein's theory. According to Timiriazev, Einstein’s theory opposed ontological materialism and epistemological objectivism. Timiriazev’s article on Einstein filled Lenin with “a hope that the journal will succeed in effecting an alliance” “with those modern natural scientists who incline towards materialism and are not afraid to defend and preach it as against the modish philosophical wanderings into idealism and skepticism which are prevalent in so-called educated society.”
8. Lenin communalised the Indian Independence movement
Earlier, support to the Indian independence movement by the socialists as in the Paris convention etc. was secular in nature. But Lenin explicitly associated the Indian independence movement with the pan-Islamic movement. He even categorised India with Muslim countries, thus communalising the Indian independence movement. In a reply given to a news agency on 20 July 1920, Lenin declared: 'The activities of our Soviet Republic in Afghanistan, India and other Muslim countries outside Russia are the same as our activities among the numerous Muslims and other non-Russian people outside the world.'
It is not an accident that most of the Islamists were influenced by the philosophy of Lenin. One of the Islamists highly influenced by Lenin was Maududi, whose Jamaat-e-Islami would become a collaborator in the 1971 genocide in Bangladesh.
So, while there can be no defence for vandalism, we should also ask-- does Lenin deserve a statue in an independent republic like India?
As you are no doubt aware, Swarajya is a media product that is directly dependent on support from its readers in the form of subscriptions. We do not have the muscle and backing of a large media conglomerate nor are we playing for the large advertisement sweep-stake.
Our business model is you and your subscription. And in challenging times like these, we need your support now more than ever.
We deliver over 10 - 15 high quality articles with expert insights and views. From 7AM in the morning to 10PM late night we operate to ensure you, the reader, get to see what is just right.
Becoming a Patron or a subscriber for as little as Rs 1200/year is the best way you can support our efforts.