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“”His goal is to save the world; his method is to blow it up.
Though he was still in exile in Switzerland when the monarchy was overthrown, Lenin arrived to take command of the second and more important phase of the 1917 Russian Revolution. Although widely believed to have given the order to kill the tsar and his family to keep them out of the hands of anti-communist forces, current evidence holds that he had no action in it beyond approving of the executions after they had taken place.
Notwithstanding his world history-making role, Lenin was punished in death by having his funeral requests denied and his wax-filled corpse put on eternal display
so we can rebuild him once we have the technology in Moscow. Lenin, as the first person to put Karl Marx's ideas into practice on a national scale, is especially revered among the hard-left, despite founding the SS-like Cheka (secret police), militarizing labor at the cost of thousands of people being displaced, bringing about the Red Terror and brutally crushing anarchist uprisings. Lenin found fault with everybody likely to succeed him, including the slightly less insane Leon Trotsky, but he explicitly said that Josef Stalin should not be considered, citing brutality. Of course, Stalin eventually took power. Trotsky later mysteriously turned up with an ice pick in the back of his head after fleeing to Mexico.
Further departing from Marx, Lenin dropped the ideal of direct democracy. He also started nationalizing major companies while granting workers more autonomy and benefits on behalf of the government. However, Marx's idea was to let workers run the industries themselves and let the socialist state "whither away". A bunch of bitter monarchists and peasants (not together, of course) tried to overthrow Lenin and his Bolshevik Party, which led to the Russian Civil War and the harsh policies of War Communism. Such policies led to the total control of the economy and government by one party, which could not be accused of corruption (for fear of execution or imprisonment). The differences between Marxism and Leninism are significant indeed. Stalin later cranked these up to 11, especially with the cult of personality Stalin constructed around Lenin (and eventually around himself). Lenin was adamant that a personality cult should not be constructed around him due to Marxist doctrine which dictates that classes, not "Great Men" led history.
Still, Lenin did manage to accomplish several genuinely good things. Afterl all, he was the man who took Russia out of World War I. Women were given voting rights and allowed to attend university as were Jews, effectively enabling Ayn Rand to go to university and dedicate the rest of her life to bringing about the fall of communism, homosexuality was legalized and the Soviet government began to implement universal education projects (that, "coincidentally", were also convenient places to spread pro-Soviet propaganda). After Lenin's death, Stalin liked to portray himself as his best friend and chosen ruler, although Lenin himself became repulsed by Stalin's brutality and power-lust and expressed on his death bed not to let Comrade Stalin become ruler. However, Stalin managed to oust the competition.
While Leninism usually refers to Lenin's Bolshevik revolutionary model, Marxism-Leninism is the ideological/political platform developed by Stalin during his ascendency and rule. Marxist-Leninism, with its Stalinist tweaking, became the most influential form of Marxism, spread to the communist parties of the world through the Third International.
Lenin is also widely credited with articulating one of the first strong critiques of imperialism. However, note that his theorization bears a remarkable similarity to that in an earlier work by the liberal J.A. Hobson.
Conservatives in the United States are extremely fond of quoting Lenin, either to tie his words to the tactics of their opponents or to gloat how smart their own tactics are (by saying they come from Lenin). Many non-conservatives find this
extremely puzzling completely understandable.
He was not the Walrus.Do You Believe That?
- How brutality could cause the by no means squeamish Lenin to shudder is a question for the ages.
- Seriously. However, Stalin recriminalized it.
- See the Wikipedia article on Lenin's Testament.