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Thread: What would Lenin think?

  1. #1
    Hanna
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    What would Lenin think?

    Lenin seems to still be a bit of a "cult figure" in Russia.
    I mean, his statues are still there, and I just read that his body is still on display in Moscow. Also, I have noticed recently that Russian people sometimes quote him - even people who are probably not communists. So his legacy is alive, although not his politics, I guess.

    With this in mind:

    --What do you think he would think if he came to Russia today?
    --What would he say to Putin / Medvedev?
    --What would he say about Gazprom... Oligarks.... Mayor of Moscow...
    --Other important issues?

    --What political future for Russia do you think he would support, based on what you know of him? Would he want to "turn back the clock" or accept that people rejected his ideology?

    --If by some miracle he actually DID return to Moscow, what would people do?


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    Завсегдатай it-ogo's Avatar
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    Re: What would Lenin think?

    I think he will be very popular: he will give a great number of interview in different mass media etc. Putin and Medvedev will meet with him several times in Kremlin, a great number of common photos with smiles and handshakes will be made. He will be invited to lecture politics and economics in the European universities. In USA he will be non grata still Hollywood will invite him to play himself. He will get great money through the legal processes about misuse of his name and image for different commercial purposes.

    If he will remain in Russia there are several possibilities. If he feel like going to the real politics, he will join United Russia party and make a career there using his name. If he feel like sportsman-revolutionist, he will join democratic opposition and start to fight for human rights and democratic values together with Kasparov. If he feel like superstar he will go to show business and become a showman. Anyway he will speak much about everything and have a big audience (almost as big as popular talk-shows and soap operas and mainly with the same target group).

    That's it, more or less.
    "Россия для русских" - это неправильно. Остальные-то чем лучше?

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    Re: What would Lenin think?

    I hope it-ogo was joking.
    In Russian, all nationalities and their corresponding languages start with a lower-case letter.

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    Re: What would Lenin think?

    Ha-ha, I actually agree with it-ogo. He would definitely try to be as noticeable a figure as he was back then and would be very active. But I don't think he would side with democrats or "United Russia". He'd definitely be with the left.

    There's an anecdote on this subject. In Russian it runs thus:

    Воскрес Ленин. Пришёл в библиотеку и попросил дать ему подшивку газет. Через некоторое время работники библиотеки замечают, что он куда-то исчез. Под столом находят записку: "Феликс Эдмундович, надо начинать всё сначала. Ухожу в подполье."

    Lenin resurrects. He comes to a library and asks for some back issues of newspapers. Some time later, the library workers notice that he's disappeared. Under the table a note is found: "Felix Edmundovich [Dzerzhinsky], we have to start all over again. I'm going underground."
    Alice: One can't believe impossible things.
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    Re: What would Lenin think?

    Quote Originally Posted by Оля
    I hope it-ogo was joking.
    We'll see...

    Here is one more anecdote which was popular in 90s: Lenin's body was sold to USA for scientific experiments. As a result of experiments he wakes up (see "Resident Evil") in New York skyscraper penthouse, comes to the window, looks outside and says: "That's exactly what I expected!"

    Attention, SPOILER!Select by mouse to read.

    (Note for foreigners: implied "Communism")
    "Россия для русских" - это неправильно. Остальные-то чем лучше?

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    Re: What would Lenin think?

    Lenin would not do any good now. Even though I'm not a very big fan of communist ideas I cannot deny his achievements. He put everything on proletariate and described it as the main driving force of progress.
    It is no longer the case. I think proletariate stopped being the 'main driving force' in late 1940s therefore Lenin's ideas simply won't work nowadays. And I think that he would have to face many new challenges he did not and could not foresee in his time. He would have found many things strange, alien and frightening so I doubt he would support any political figure of the present and I think that he would find crushing of his ideals (if he had any) rather painful. The task of building a new society and bringing up a new Man failed. The rest of our modern life (disregarding technological advances) has already been perfectly described by Karl Marx. Capitalism marches on.

    If he miraculously resurrects now I think many people would want to put him to sleep again. Permanently if possible. To be serious (if this subject can be serious) I would have viewed him as a walking museum rather than any political figure. Historians, from the other hand, would be killing each other for an opportunity to speak to him. )))
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  7. #7
    Hanna
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    Re: What would Lenin think?

    I am beginning to become aware that there are huge differences in living standards between the large cities and the rest of the country. Lenin would probobably be upset to see this -- perhaps he'd get involved and try to help the less central areas revive themselves.

    Or maybe he'd just say "Epic fail on me" (to use internet slang) and get on the next flight out of Russia in embarrasment.

    I don't know too much about him as a person - whether he was really a charismatic, romantic, revolutionary idealist whom peope happily followed, or whether he was actually a power-hungry political plotter who used a handy ideology to reach his own political ambitions and then changed the ideoligy some more to fit his purpose.

    Had a neutral or mildly positive view of him while I grew up because I thought he helped a lot of poor people to get a better life. But then some other information emerged and I realised that he had a very brutal side to him too.

    The reason I thought about all this was because I read something about the legacy of Lenin in Russia; how some people would like to bury his body while others want to keep things as they are. There is something quite interesting about the role that he fills in Russia.

    @ Ito - Ogo; what would happen if he turned up in Kiev instead? Would people there react differently than in Moscow do you think?

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    Re: What would Lenin think?

    Quote Originally Posted by Johanna
    Lenin seems to still be a bit of a "cult figure" in Russia.
    I mean, his statues are still there, and I just read that his body is still on display in Moscow. Also, I have noticed recently that Russian people sometimes quote him - even people who are probably not communists.
    Are you sure those quotings were not used ironically? I really can't imagine someone seriously quoting Lenin today. But there are indeed, some famous quotes of him which are popular and frequently used by people, but only as a joke, or as a proverb, even. Here are some:
    Учиться, учиться и еще раз учиться, [как завещал великий Ленин - usually is added and said very jokinly]
    Из всех искусств для нас важнейшим является кино.
    Советская власть - это [I don't remember what] плюс электрификация всей страны.
    These ones are never used as serious quotes.

    As for his ubiquitous statues in Russia - I actually think that there were soooo many of them in the country that at some moment people became just tired of demolishing them. There are more important things to do, really.
    The fact that his body is still in the Mausoleum - again, it was not the first problem people needed to resolve in the nineties. You can't just throw out the body and leave it outside. It's a complicated question, what to do with it.
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    Re: What would Lenin think?

    Quote Originally Posted by Johanna
    @ Ito - Ogo; what would happen if he turned up in Kiev instead? Would people there react differently than in Moscow do you think?
    Most people will treat it as just one more crazy political sensation. Ukrainians are sick of political chaos.

    Lenin is not a person but a myth. Revived myth can only turn into a phantasmagoria. There is no way to speak seriously about that.

    BTW in 90-s a theory was discussed that Lenin in fact was a mushroom and it was a real cause of the Russian Revolution.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4Xq5Hl0zl9Y

    PS Now you found one more cool way to misspell my nick. This time it looks in a Japanese style.

    I'll give you a mnemonic hint: in Russian "итого" means "total". It is a name of a very special guy who gets the biggest wage (and suffers the biggest penalties).
    "Россия для русских" - это неправильно. Остальные-то чем лучше?

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    Re: What would Lenin think?

    Quote Originally Posted by Оля
    Советская власть - это [I don't remember what] плюс электрификация всей страны.
    Коммунизм - это советская власть плюс электрификация всей страны.
    Я помню, когда нам в школе впервые привели это высказывание, мы по математике как раз проходили тождества. И я, помню, сразу взялся переносить слагаемые в этом уравнеии, по типу:
    Электрификация всей страны - это коммунизм минус советская власть.
    Please, correct my mistakes, except for the cases I misspell something on purpose!

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    Re: What would Lenin think?

    Quote Originally Posted by it-ogo
    PS Now you found one more cool way to misspell my nick. This time it looks in a Japanese style.

    I'll give you a mnemonic hint: in Russian "итого" means "total". It is a name of a very special guy who gets the biggest wage (and suffers the biggest penalties).
    ....and here all this time I thought it was a cute play on "it's a go"
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    Re: What would Lenin think?

    Quote Originally Posted by rockzmom
    ....and here all this time I thought it was a cute play on "it's a go"
    There's a joke:

    My name is "Total" ["Итого"/itogo in Russian], where can I get the salary?

    Quote Originally Posted by Оля
    As for his ubiquitous statues in Russia - I actually think that there were soooo many of them in the country that at some moment people became just tired of demolishing them.
    Here in Novosib, we have his statue (and some others) in front of the Novosibirsk Opera and Ballet Theatre.



    I wouldn't want those statues demolished -- it's history. I personally don't think we should be SO much ashamed of our communist/socialist past. There were revolutions in England and France, too, you know. And very bloody as well (at least in France). Having read Dickens' "A Tale of Two Cities" I don't think I could ever look at the French revolution as an event to celebrate (though the hardships of simple French folk which sparkled it all should also be taken into consideration). Yet in France, Bastille Day is a national holiday celebrated every year with great spirit. Despite all the bloodshed and the Reign of Terror (compare the "Red Terror") and thousands of guillotined people. It's their history.

    In England and France the revolutions took place centuries earlier than in Russia, before Marx and Engels. Otherwise who knows what might have happened...

    I am no Lenin's admirer but at least he wasn't quite such a horrible figure as Stalin. Stalin and his 'cult of personality' were exposed and denounced right after his death so I suppose that's why we don't see statues of him in every city. I'm probably naive but I do believe that Lenin meant well and wanted to help the poor. Reading some books about the pre-Revolution times, like Alexandra Brustein's trilogy, I can't help feeling that that class society was rather ridiculous.

    My Dad thinks that the Russian Revolution scared the Western employers and governments into caring more for their workers. An interesting theory, if perhaps difficult to prove.
    Alice: One can't believe impossible things.
    The Queen: I dare say you haven't had much practice. When I was your age, I always did it for half an hour a day. Why, sometimes I've believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.

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    Re: What would Lenin think?

    Quote Originally Posted by starrysky
    I am no Lenin's admirer but at least he wasn't quite such a horrible figure as Stalin. I'm probably naive but I do believe that Lenin meant well and wanted to help the poor.
    I believe that we, in fact, don't know much thruth about Lenin and his activities. And he is, indeed, eclipsed by the terrible figure of Stalin in our eyes. But in the first years after the revolution, thousands of people were executed by shooting on personal orders from Lenin.
    I think only illness and death prevented him from shedding more blood.
    In Russian, all nationalities and their corresponding languages start with a lower-case letter.

  14. #14
    Hanna
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    Re: What would Lenin think?

    Thanks Ito-ogo for explaining about your nick! I didn't know any of that...

    Olya is right - one of the quotes that I heard was the one about studying. Then I heard another on radio, but I didn't catch what the exact saying was, I just heard "like Lenin said". Also, a colleague of mine once gave a cracking quote by Lenin which was both relevant to the situation and very funny. I think it was half-joke, half-serious - we had some problems with senior management.

    I think that what Starrysky's father said about Europe getting worried because of the Russian revolution is completely true. Sweden started universal right of voting in 1918. Interesting co-incidence... It was the start of the almost uninterrupted reign by the Social democrats for us. People choose to vote for the Social democrats instead of supporting a a Russian style Communist revolution. And the Social democrats immediately started improving things for poor people. Probably regular people preferred gradual reform rather than the drama of a revolution.

    Also, my grandfather told a story about how his own father was forced to renovate some peasant houses at their farm, because the peasants had started some kind of Marxist-Leninist group in the early 1920s. His father had neglected the peasants - he had alcohol problems - so it was good that he was forced to take action.

    In England, the Church started preaching more about compassion for the poor, and many factories built very nice houses for the workers so that they would not become revolutionary, and they started offering better working conditions. I once visited the Cadbury chocholate factory in Birmingham which is a good example of this - they built a new "model village" and really improved conditions for workers.

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    Re: What would Lenin think?

    Quote Originally Posted by starrysky
    I'm probably naive but I do believe that Lenin meant well and wanted to help the poor.
    Even though I don't like the Communism, I would agree with you on that. I would even agree that Stalin meant well. And also that Hitler meant well. I think there's a certain distance between what a person mean and what he's doing. Also, Lenin's understanding of "helping the poor" has always been based on the expropriation idea, remember? Meaning, he planned to be good for some and evil for the others.

    Quote Originally Posted by starrysky
    My Dad thinks that the Russian Revolution scared the Western employers and governments into caring more for their workers.
    I share your Dad's opinion. The capitalism, as we know it today, underwent tremendous transformation from what it was back in the early 20th century.

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    Re: What would Lenin think?

    Yeah, and I think that socialists in many countries wouldn't have gotten the position they occupy now without October Revolution. Capitalism have socialized over time. And this too is an achievement of the bolsheviks. I don't want to judge the leaders of the revolution, but I know that many communists really believed in their ideals of a better world. What concerns 'meant well' - we all know that the road to hell is paved with good intentions.
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    Re: What would Lenin think?

    Quote Originally Posted by Crocodile
    I would even agree that Stalin meant well. And also that Hitler meant well. I think there's a certain distance between what a person mean and what he's doing. Also, Lenin's understanding of "helping the poor" has always been based on the expropriation idea, remember? Meaning, he planned to be good for some and evil for the others.
    Yes, it's true. Russian revolutionaries admired the French ones -- Marat, Robespierre -- and those people were quite willing to spill the blood of the "wrong" people.

    "To punish the oppressors of humanity is clemency; to forgive them is barbarity." (Robespierre)
    "Robespierre saw no room for mercy in his Terror, stating that "slowness of judgments is equal to impunity" and "uncertainty of punishment encourages all the guilty"."

    I am also reminded of a quote from one my fave BBC series "North and South" from a Union leader (the time is the 1850s and there's a strike in all the mills in the town):
    "Being in the union, it is like being in a war. And with the war come some crimes. But it would be a bigger crime to do nothing."
    Alice: One can't believe impossible things.
    The Queen: I dare say you haven't had much practice. When I was your age, I always did it for half an hour a day. Why, sometimes I've believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.

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