(W.R. Wordsworth) It is sobering to recognize how many crimes against humanity first recommended themselves as admirable courses of action prompted by the benignly framed ideological obsessions of activist intellectuals. It would seem that there is nothing inherently civilizing in the pursuit of what has been called “the life of the mind,” especially if the mindful individual is merely looking for a more solid foundation on which to ground and justify his hatreds. V.I. Lenin stands as the paradigmatic exemplar of this. His place in history is secure, but only owing to his improbable success in seizing, holding, and then ruthlessly exercising power in an exhausted and fragmented Russia. Had his gamble failed — had his coup fizzled — history would have remembered him (if at all) as a minor journalist and political organizer operating on the fringes of the international socialist movement. Yet with his triumph, history decided otherwise, leaving us stuck with Lenin and his legacy. A thoughtful examination of that legacy, and of the monomania that drove it, is key to understanding the Left.
(John L. Kachelman) A reminder…the first “free election” in Russia was held in 1917. Lenin promised a “free” election where all votes would be equal and each citizen would be heard. The election was scheduled and a number of political parties provided the voters a choice. The Russian Social-Democratic Labor Party (Lenin’s Bolsheviks) campaigned with appeals to win the majority’s vote with the promise of “Peace, Land and Bread.” The energy of the Bolsheviks and the promises of Lenin were insufficient to win the election (they only garnered 23%) of the vote.