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Mummy’s boy: A statue of Lenin still stands in Brest, Belarus (Marco Fieber CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)


Not so long ago you could amble down the Charing Cross  Road, go into Collet’s and buy a copy of Lenin’s Speeches. I doubt it was a hot seller, but it was there on the shelf (along with Stalin’s collected works). Victor Sebestyen has a lengthy introduction to his 500-page biography of Vladimir Illich, Lenin The Dictator, in which he argues for the continuing importance of the top Bolshevik. I find he protesteth too much.

Marxism-Leninism is finished (with all due respect to Slavoj Žižek). Marxism of course lives on in the supportive environment of our universities, where it provides a comfy beanbag for intellects to recline upon, stimulatingly vague in its modern, general application. What’s important about Marxism is not what it says (who’s alive who has actually read Das Kapital from cover to cover?) but what it says about you: that you care and that you can see deeply. I thought the Morning Star had ceased publication until I started teaching at Goldsmiths a few months ago, when I was surprised to find a copy in the campus store, admittedly looking unsellable even there.

Granted, it’s different back home in Mother Russia. When I was in Tula, near the Tolstoy estate, a few years ago I was surprised to see a whopping statue of Lenin still in place. Was it there because no one could be bothered to shift it, or because of ideological sympathy? I was used to Hungary, Poland, and the Czech Republic, where all the Bolshevik paraphernalia had been unceremoniously dumped by 1990. But most of the problem with Communism for the citizens of Central Europe had been that it had been Russian gulag Communism.

Lenin may have some fans left in Russia, but for the outside world he’s not cool. He’s simply not that interesting. Stalin still fascinates, but almost entirely on the body count basis, on the total evil ranking, along with Hitler, though arguably he was worse. A leading Hungarian Stalinist secret policeman once lamented to me that if you were a good Nazi, you were safe; if you were a model Stalinist, you weren’t.
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Mel Profit
February 23rd, 2017
6:02 PM
Mr. Fischer is understandably dismissive of Lenin, and he is probably correct that Communism is dead other than in a thousand or so faculty clubs. But the legacy of Lenin and his friends is anything but gone, as anyone who has spent five minutes in the US, or watched its zany, fifty-year implosion, can attest. Today's toxic mashup of socialism, anarchism, communism, surrealism, feminism, Dadaism, nihilism, moral exhibitionism, and moral botulism that passes for progressivism obviously has many fathers, but none more key than Vlad and Co.

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