In the Communist Russia April 22 was a day of the Communist Labor. On that day people would come to work and clean their desks, plant trees and flowers, repair roads, etc. There were songs and drinks and numerous reproductions of the old painting depicting the first Communist Labor day in 1918. On that painting a small man was helping to carry a log. Everyone in Russia knew who was that small man. In fact everyone in the world knew him. Lenin. Vladimir Ilyich Ulyanov- Lenin was born on April 22, 1870 and died on January 6, 1924. He was only 54 when he died. Same age as Napoleon Bonaparte. And as Napoleon was the most famous man in the 19th Century Lenin by far was the most famous man in the 20th Century. He was a towering figure whose influence and the consequences of whose deeds practically defined the life and death of millions of people, laid the course of history and profoundly changed the human perception about many fundamental things in life. Lenin was and is one of those people whom you can either totally love or totally hate; there is nothing in between. That is why it is so disgusting to watch the attitude to Lenin demonstrated in abundance by the predominantly Western pseudo-historians ( currently Russian too) who spend most of their unfortunate efforts not to somehow assess Lenin but to denigrate him as a personality, to smear his greatness, to spread ugly and stupid rumors down to total dirty pornography. I remember reading a novel(!) by one American writer in which an American secret agent travels incognito with Lenin on the train and Lenin there is just a dwarfish, constantly drinking bastard spewing obscenities. I guess the author modeled Lenin through himself.
We take from history not ashes but fire. These words by Jean Jourice exactly are applicable to the life of Lenin and, obviously here I cannot reflect on all of it. But as in the symphony several key points can reflect the greatness of the opus the trends in the Lenin's character reveal themselves in his key deeds.
Vladimir Ilyich means "Vladimir, son of Ilya'. Ilya was his father. In Russia as well as in other Christian Orthodox countries it is common to use a patrimonial when addressing an adult person as a sign of respect. Ilya Nikolaevich Ulyanov belonged to the ancient indigenous tribe by origin and as baptized, young capable boy got a very good education and forever became a person working in that field. By the time Volodya was born (his mother was a daughter of the local doctor), the 4th child in the family (totally 5- three sons and two daughters) Ilya Nikolaevich was already a civil general, inspector of the people's schools and was granted a nobility by the Tzar for him and his family. Unfortunately he died rather early and that early death was a big blow to all in the family.
Volodya was a gifted young man (the whole family was). He graduated from the classical gymnasium as a valedictorian, with a golden medal. His older brother Alexander whom Volodya dearly loved graduated earlier and entered the University. There he got involved with the radical group and plotted to kill the Tzar. The plot was discovered and Alexander Ulyanov was executed for the conspiracy to commit murder. That execution in no way prevented Vladimir from receiving the golden medal. One can only guess what happened in him those days but it is true that he started his path of the revolutionary Marxist somewhere at that time. He entered the Kazan University, then transferred to St. Petersburg where he apparently instead of a regular coursework passed a set of special exams and was granted a degree in law, summa cum laud. That's when he demonstrated an extraordinary memory, capability to study languages (he knew French, English, German and Latin; his Russian was impeccable) and unbelievable stamina at work. Lenin worked diligently all his life, and aside of his political activities wrote about 50 volumes of philosophical books including several really significant such as "Karl Marx' and' Materialism and Empiriocritism'- the ones establishing the totally new step in Marxism, lately called Leninism. Whenever I now look through the books of the current so-called theorists of the capitalism and compare their writings to the brilliant Lenin's style I can't help laughing at those pygmies who should better return to the monkey state where they belong.
It was at that time when he chose a pen-name Lenin, coming from the river Lena in Russia where Lenskiy rasstrel (Lena massacre) happened; the Tzar's police together with the private security detail shot at the demonstrating strikers and killed a lot of people. That's how he started.
Serious historians know that a person in history is judged by the level of the subjective concentrated effort in the achievement of the goal chosen. Lenin had decided to destroy the pseudo-feudal Tzarist regime and he accomplished that task during his lifetime. In 34 years of the active duty he organized a revolutionary party, became its leader, introduced that party and its philosophy to Russia, successfully spread it and gained millions of supporters, overcame the odds of biblical proportions to survive, went through two revolutions before orchestrating a socialist one, formed the first in history socialist/communist government, won the most bloody Civil War, survived an assassination attempt (two bullets at close range) and died from the consequences of that attempt 6 years after. No man in the history of the 20th Century can boast such a life and such an achievement and if we want to name a genius- here he is, the most well-known statesman produced by the mankind.
I am not here to trace a biography but rather to emphasize the specific trends in him and his character which proved beyond any reasonable doubt the remarkable level of his personality. I already mentioned his working abilities. Two other outstanding qualities of his character were profound empathy and total lack of hypocrisy and malice.
Empathy, the ability to express and exercise a sincere interest in every person you encounter was a part of his character, not some kind of a skill of a politician. Practically all people who somehow encountered him mentioned the feeling of extraordinary comfort in communication with him, the feeling of "simplicity in discussion, freedom of mutual contact, no tension, no defensive posturing, pure and genuine goodwill.' That's a manifestation of the natural empathy. Such people are extremely rare. Gandhi was like that and Mother Teresa. Mandela is like that. NONE of the current politicos are even close and their false empathy-pretending just reveal the unfortunate vices Lenin never had -- hypocrisy and malice.
Lenin was a practical and ruthless politician. He was a man of action personified, fast and deadly in his decisions, capable of using power in all its might, extremely straightforward and goal- oriented. But again and again we can understand from the documents that he never deliberately lied, never avenged mercilessly just for not agreeing with him, never exercised personal malicious vendettas and never basked himself in cheap hypocrisy. In 1918 during the fateful Brest- Litovsk negotiations with the German army Lenin fiercely fought with his own people for what they called "a peace of treason'- the peace treaty which gave the Germans a lot of territories in the Western Russia. They were brutal and he still won but none of them suffered any bad feelings from him. When his government proclaimed the right of self-determination of the nations and Finland, former Russian Province voted to secede and become independent Lenin put all his authority on the line to grant the Finland's request. He did not allow hypocrisy to rule the day; the word was the word and the Communist government granted Finnish independence. I am wondering if the US government could do such a thing. And as about putting all your career on the line in the US Congress- forget it!
Malice was absolutely unknown to him. There was no way for him to deliberately target someone to make him/her miserable. When a very authoritive Marxist Georgiy Plekhanov called Leninism a "dementia' and after the Revolution- refused to support it. Lenin instructed to let Plekhanov go abroad. The same was granted to other prominent Marxists who decided not to support a cause.
One of the most tragic accusations against Lenin is the murder of Tzar Nicholas and his family in 1918. It was a really barbaric act and as the Communist government was a centralized one it was hardly done without his knowledge. That's fortified by the simple fact that practically ALL other tough decisions like for instance self-drowning of the Russian Black Sea Navy were performed according to Lenin's direct orders. So I say, yes, he knew. I say yes, he authorized that murder. I say, there is no reasonable explanation for that act except for maybe one- he just let it go. No, that does not take the guilt away. It just tells us that the Revolution is a beast of many heads, the wave of hate is so high that sometimes even if you seem to have the power, you do not. Shadows of the Girondians from 1793 hovered over the heads of the Russian Communists in Kremlin and they remembered that those who were against the execution of the King perished next. Lenin did not consider Tzar Nicholas a special person and neither he considered that the children of the workers of Moscow who were dying in droves in 1918 deserved less attention than the Royal Family. He just let it go. I think at that moment he understood the magnificence of the forces he awakened and that not all of those forces were good ones. But it was too late. The burden was on him but he took it the way he always did. As soon as he woke up after the operation following the assassination attempt he ordered to "stop the terror'. Yes, his cronies were not him and they did not possess those outstanding qualities. But even they recognized his power of authority and personality without question. Lenin's word was the law of the organization down to the end and even Trotsky who considered himself a genius always exercised the highest respect towards Lenin. In fact even enemies respected him and it is well --known that German government considered him "the most outstanding politician alive'.
Lenin was a very courageous person. One of the most hated people in the world, he staunchly refused a security detail and frequently went out alone or with the driver only. On the fateful day of the assassination attempt the young woman-terrorist easily got close to him; he was giving a speech at the factory and was surrounded by workers. During the matinee of the left social-revolutionaries in July 1918 in Moscow when their artillery targeted the Kremlin, Lenin refused to evacuate and remained at his post until the reinforcements came in.
Lenin was a man of honor and integrity. When Stalin insulted his wife, Lenin, already very ill immediately wrote him a scathing letter demanding immediate apology and threatening total severing of all communications. Stalin immediately apologized. Lenin wrote in his "Letter to the Convention' the historical and accurate characteristics of all the prominent people who surrounded him, warning the Convention of the Soviets about many a negative qualities of those and proposing a careful strategy to avoid the crawling to possible dictatorship. Among other things he warned about "Stalin's compulsive rudeness' which he considered a vice that should be accounted for. When after Lenin's death that characteristic of Stalin was openly read on one of the closed discussions, Stalin, then already a powerful Secretary-General, offered his resignation. If only it had been accepted..
A fierce internationalist, Lenin did not tolerate even a slightest bias or bigotry. His government invoked total women's equal rights and promoted the defense of the rights of mother and child. Anti-Semitism was considered a felony. Lenin watched like a hawk that no nationalistic tendencies should creep into a lawmaking and it was due to him the charter of the Soviet Union in 1922 considered all its republics as equals and having a right to go independent. They surely used that legacy in 1991.
In his private life Lenin was very humble and even pious. That dedicated atheist resembled a real Russian Orthodox in his habits; he rarely drank, preferred tea, ate very simply, loved classical music, Pushkin poems and was a voracious reader. He hunted ducks when he was young, not much when he became active as a politician, played chess, knew and respected great painters and especially loved technical people- engineers an scientist with whom he planned the New Russia- filled with electricity and beaming with educated people. Lenin was very interested in public education and it is due to him that Russian population became 95% literate in about 10 years after the Revolution.
His family life is rather unremarkable. His wife Nadejda had thyroid problems. They did not have children. He was a loving sibling- all other members of the family loved him dearly. The dirty rumors about him having relationships with other women including some Swedish prostitute from whom he allegedly contracted syphilis, are what they are - dirty rumors. There is no mentioning of syphilis in the autopsy reports. Our so-called biographers are smearing Lenin just by considering themselves; they never would be able to accomplish even a token of what he did; so they pour dirt on him whenever possible.
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