Discussion:
Why is Lenin still praised?
(too old to reply)
h***@gmail.com
2018-04-24 06:55:33 UTC
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He was just as brutal to opposition to communist rule and banned other parties when they dared not to support "the Revolution" (that's not democracy) but because he died early, he seems to have been let off easy.
Rhino
2018-04-24 22:08:40 UTC
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Post by h***@gmail.com
He was just as brutal to opposition to communist rule and banned other parties when they dared not to support "the Revolution" (that's not democracy) but because he died early, he seems to have been let off easy.
Indeed. He was a brutal SOB who showed little tolerance for any
opposition. The only allies he had after the revolution were the "left
SRs" - the left wing of the Social Revolutionary Party - and they became
persona non grata when one of their members nearly succeeded in
assassinating Lenin in 1918, upset over his policies.

During the Civil War, some towns changed sides repeatedly between the
White and Red forces. On at least one occasion, he ordered his people to
kill one in ten of the townspeople to set an example when they proved to
be reluctant to help the Bolsheviks after they had retaken the town for
the third or fourth time.

I remember an anecdote from one of Bruce Lincoln's books - On a Field of
Red - in which a high official in Lenin's justice department - I don't
recall the proper name of the department but I remember that the
official was named Shteinberg - came to him with grave concerns about
the number of people that Lenin was executing on the basis of minimal
evidence. Shteinberg said - perhaps jokingly? - that perhaps his
department should be called the ministry of executions or something to
that effect, rather than the ministry of justice (or whatever name it
actually had that at least implied some sort of due process in deciding
if people were guilty). Apparently, Lenin took the suggestion seriously
and thought it was probably a more accurate name.

Remember too that Lenin initiated the Gulag system in 1918 that Stalin
built up enormously but very much in the same spirit. Lenin was also the
one who allowed the previously scheduled democratic elections in
December 1917, although he only let the new government sit for a single
day before shuttering it for good. (I expect the only reason he let the
election go ahead was because he imagined that the Bolsheviks might
actually win the election and then he'd have gained a great deal of
legitimacy. But, as it turned out, he got only 25% of the votes so was
not in a position to govern legally.)

You're absolutely right that Lenin seems to have acquired very little of
the stink that Stalin did. I well remember an acquaintance - who
volunteered that she had been close to people in the far left wing of
the British Labour Party - saying that the Soviet Union would have
turned out so much better if only Lenin hadn't died prematurely, leaving
Stalin in the driver's seat (eventually). That seems to be the
prevailing sentiment. I find this preposterous. The more you know about
Lenin, the more you learn about what a ruthless bastard he was. I
wouldn't be remotely shocked if he had turned out to be just as bloody
as Stalin was if he'd lived longer.
--
Rhino
Rich Rostrom
2018-04-26 08:00:21 UTC
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The more you know about Lenin, the more you learn
about what a ruthless bastard he was. I wouldn't be
remotely shocked if he had turned out to be just as
bloody as Stalin was if he'd lived longer.
Molotov, who knew both of them, said that Lenin was
more ruthless and murderous than Stalin.

Having said that - Lenin never had supreme power, as
Stalin did, and ruled for only four years or so,
whereas Stalin ruled for over twenty years.
--
Nous sommes dans une pot de chambre, et nous y serons emmerdés.
--- General Auguste-Alexandre Ducrot at Sedan, 1870.
Rhino
2018-04-27 15:08:45 UTC
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Post by Rich Rostrom
The more you know about Lenin, the more you learn
about what a ruthless bastard he was. I wouldn't be
remotely shocked if he had turned out to be just as
bloody as Stalin was if he'd lived longer.
Molotov, who knew both of them, said that Lenin was
more ruthless and murderous than Stalin.
Having said that - Lenin never had supreme power, as
Stalin did, and ruled for only four years or so,
whereas Stalin ruled for over twenty years.
I remember one snippet about Lenin that I found rather telling. He
expressed the thought that he'd like to listen to some music - I gather
he was fond of some of the classical composers - but talked himself out
of it because he felt that music made him soft and sentimental. Who
deliberately chooses to forsake that side of himself and why?

Historians always note Lenin's brother who was executed for his part in
an assassination plot as if that explains everything. Maybe it does:
maybe he felt a need to avenge his brother by destroying every vestige
of the Tsarist system. But I've never yet seen a quote from him
explaining the connection or, indeed, any sort of personal biography let
alone an autobiography that would confirm that this was even a factor,
let alone the key factor in Lenin's ruthlessness.

Other people who have been related to assassins lived their lives
without feeling the need to do the kinds of things Lenin did.

I just wish Col. House had been correct in his belief that the
Bolsheviks couldn't last more than two or three weeks before their
regime collapsed. Imagine how differently history would have played out
if a more moderate government managed to topple the Bolsheviks and
establish a more congenial regime. Millions upon millions of Russians
would not have died in the Gulag. Who knows what all the knock-on
effects would have been!

I wonder if Germany would have become the first Communist regime to take
power? If so, how long would it have lasted? Would WW I have ended very
differently? Would Hitler have become anything but an obscure artist?
Would WW II have been averted or been a case of Japan against Britain
and the US with peace in Europe throughout?

Etc. etc.
--
Rhino
Rich Rostrom
2018-04-27 18:03:37 UTC
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Post by Rhino
Imagine how differently history would have played out
if a more moderate government managed to topple the Bolsheviks and
establish a more congenial regime. Millions upon millions of Russians
would not have died in the Gulag. Who knows what all the knock-on
effects would have been!
The Bolshevik state was very important as the first
"revolutionary" government - and the only "revolutionary"
government for many years.

The Bolsheviks claimed a sort of "papal" status for
the Red (Socialist) left; the Communist International
was based in Moscow, and demanded the allegiance of
all Socialists. Which they never got - the Socialist
International remained in business - but the Third
International had a very strong pull.

The success of Leninism spawned a lot of imitation
around the world. Even many Second International
socialists wavered between "parliamentarism" and
"revolutionism". E.g. Spain, where the leader of the
"parliamentary" Socialist Party, Largo Caballero, was
dubbed "the Spanish Lenin".

No Bolshevik triumph, all that goes away. The threat
of "world revolution", which caused panic around the
world in 1918-1920, goes away as well. (No "Red Scare"
in the U.S.)

OTOH, there were hard-case radicals looking for a
vehicle for violent revolution. Before 1918, most of
these (AFAICT) were attracted to anarchism, but many
went over to Communism. No Bolshevik triumph, then
anarchism remains a bigger force on the Left.

There are obvious physical knock-ons, such as no
division of socialists in western European countries
between the Communist and Socialist or Social Democrat
parties. The Socialist Parties are stronger, and may
win more elections.

Another factor is how the alt-Russian government deals
with its neighbors: with Poland (Is there a war? Where
is the border?); with the Baltic states (Do they gain
independence?); with the Transcaucasus and Central Asia
(do those areas keep their independence?). Assuming WW I
ends as OTL, the Western Powers will be less likely to
support the neighbors against alt-Russia; but the alt-
Russian regime may be less determined and ruthless about
regaining the outlands.

A non-revolutionary alt-Russia, which joins the naval
limitation pacts, signs the Versailles treaties and
associated pacts, signs on to the Locarno Treaty and
joins the Stresa Front, is not a threat to the world.

Japan and Italy are more isolated, and may be deterred
from some of their OTL adventures.
--
Nous sommes dans une pot de chambre, et nous y serons emmerdés.
--- General Auguste-Alexandre Ducrot at Sedan, 1870.
Rhino
2018-04-28 21:54:40 UTC
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Post by Rich Rostrom
Post by Rhino
Imagine how differently history would have played out
if a more moderate government managed to topple the Bolsheviks and
establish a more congenial regime. Millions upon millions of Russians
would not have died in the Gulag. Who knows what all the knock-on
effects would have been!
The Bolshevik state was very important as the first
"revolutionary" government - and the only "revolutionary"
government for many years.
The Bolsheviks claimed a sort of "papal" status for
the Red (Socialist) left; the Communist International
was based in Moscow, and demanded the allegiance of
all Socialists. Which they never got - the Socialist
International remained in business - but the Third
International had a very strong pull.
The success of Leninism spawned a lot of imitation
around the world. Even many Second International
socialists wavered between "parliamentarism" and
"revolutionism". E.g. Spain, where the leader of the
"parliamentary" Socialist Party, Largo Caballero, was
dubbed "the Spanish Lenin".
No Bolshevik triumph, all that goes away. The threat
of "world revolution", which caused panic around the
world in 1918-1920, goes away as well. (No "Red Scare"
in the U.S.)
OTOH, there were hard-case radicals looking for a
vehicle for violent revolution. Before 1918, most of
these (AFAICT) were attracted to anarchism, but many
went over to Communism. No Bolshevik triumph, then
anarchism remains a bigger force on the Left.
There are obvious physical knock-ons, such as no
division of socialists in western European countries
between the Communist and Socialist or Social Democrat
parties. The Socialist Parties are stronger, and may
win more elections.
Another factor is how the alt-Russian government deals
with its neighbors: with Poland (Is there a war? Where
is the border?); with the Baltic states (Do they gain
independence?); with the Transcaucasus and Central Asia
(do those areas keep their independence?). Assuming WW I
ends as OTL, the Western Powers will be less likely to
support the neighbors against alt-Russia; but the alt-
Russian regime may be less determined and ruthless about
regaining the outlands.
A non-revolutionary alt-Russia, which joins the naval
limitation pacts, signs the Versailles treaties and
associated pacts, signs on to the Locarno Treaty and
joins the Stresa Front, is not a threat to the world.
Japan and Italy are more isolated, and may be deterred
from some of their OTL adventures.
There *were* other Communist governments in the immediate aftermath of
Lenin's coup, although most were short-lived.

In Germany, the Spartacists helped drive Kaiser Wilhelm II the
abdication, although they were soon toppled by the Freikorps. Hungary
had Communist government in 1919, although that too was driven out in
short order. But Mongolia became Communist in 1921 and stayed that way
until the 90s. Although Mongolia had significant help from the
Bolsheviks that would surely not have been forthcoming if the Bolsheviks
hadn't been in power, suppose the Communists in Germany or Hungary, who
didn't receive significant help from the Bolsheviks, had managed to
cling to power: one of *them* might have take on the "motherland of
communism" banner that the Soviets held in the OTL. Germany being the
first (successful) Communist country would also have validated Marx who
had always seen the two most industrialized states of his day, Britain
and Germany, as the most likely to become Communist.

How might Russia have evolved in the 20th century if Lenin's coup had
failed and the Dec 1917 election results were honoured? What kind of
Russia would *that* government have developed? What reforms would they
implement? What would their foreign policy be?

How would a Europe with a Communist Germany have changed the 20th
century? Would Communist Germany have exported revolution as zealously
as the Soviets did or even more so? What would have become of China in
the absence of Communism as its new republic tried to find its feet?
Would Japan still have invaded a weak China and how would the Chinese
and the world have reacted? Would the League of Nations have been more
successful in this world that in the OTL?
--
Rhino
The Horny Goat
2018-04-29 04:44:34 UTC
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On Sat, 28 Apr 2018 17:54:40 -0400, Rhino
Post by Rhino
There *were* other Communist governments in the immediate aftermath of
Lenin's coup, although most were short-lived.
True - there was even one in Munich which heavily influenced the early
Nazis.
Post by Rhino
In Germany, the Spartacists helped drive Kaiser Wilhelm II the
abdication, although they were soon toppled by the Freikorps. Hungary
had Communist government in 1919, although that too was driven out in
short order. But Mongolia became Communist in 1921 and stayed that way
until the 90s. Although Mongolia had significant help from the
Bolsheviks that would surely not have been forthcoming if the Bolsheviks
hadn't been in power, suppose the Communists in Germany or Hungary, who
didn't receive significant help from the Bolsheviks, had managed to
cling to power: one of *them* might have take on the "motherland of
communism" banner that the Soviets held in the OTL. Germany being the
first (successful) Communist country would also have validated Marx who
had always seen the two most industrialized states of his day, Britain
and Germany, as the most likely to become Communist.
The Hungarian revolution was primarily overthrown by Romanian troops -
which is one of the things that made the Vienna Award 20 years later
so surprising. There was also a short-lived Finnish Communist coup
(I'm not counting the short-lived puppet junta during the Winter War
much later)

I don't see any serious mass Communist movement in the UK unless
Britain loses badly in WW1 and in THAT case the Kaiser's Germany
becomes strong enough it can overthrow a Communist movement pretty
much anywhere in Europe it chooses.

"Simply" a successful 1918 Amiens offensive doesn't create a
revolutionary situation in Britain even if you get the capture of the
BEF such as nearly happened in 1940.

A change of government wouldn't be surprising but nothing more radical
than a Ramsay MacDonald type regime - not even as radical as the 1945
Attlee government.

Complete breakdown of order (similar to Russia in late 1917) would
create German intervention and if there was one thing all parties
would unite against it was that.
Post by Rhino
How might Russia have evolved in the 20th century if Lenin's coup had
failed and the Dec 1917 election results were honoured? What kind of
Russia would *that* government have developed? What reforms would they
implement? What would their foreign policy be?
How would a Europe with a Communist Germany have changed the 20th
century? Would Communist Germany have exported revolution as zealously
as the Soviets did or even more so? What would have become of China in
the absence of Communism as its new republic tried to find its feet?
Would Japan still have invaded a weak China and how would the Chinese
and the world have reacted? Would the League of Nations have been more
successful in this world that in the OTL?
I think a worthwhile question would be WI the KPD (German Communist
Party) had come to power in 1933 - presumably as part of a coalition
just as Hitler did, so who would be their coalitioni partners and on
what terms? Would Thielmann have employed Nazi type 'Enabling Act'
legislation to cement his hold on power?

Would a Communist Germany try to overcome "Fascist" Poland? (either
out of general principles or to renew the pre-1914 German and Russian
frontiers? What would the reaction of the west have been?

Because for sure a Communist Germany would be far less interested in
maintaining the Versailles settlement than Hitler was.
Pete Barrett
2018-04-29 16:57:25 UTC
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I don't see any serious mass Communist movement in the UK unless Britain
loses badly in WW1 and in THAT case the Kaiser's Germany becomes strong
enough it can overthrow a Communist movement pretty much anywhere in
Europe it chooses.
You might get it (there was in OTL - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/
Red_Clydeside) in pockets; perhaps in Manchester, Newcastle, Liverpool,
Cardiff, you might have communist or communist-inspired councils. The
various parties to the left of Labour were surprisingly strong in places,
even up to 1945.
"Simply" a successful 1918 Amiens offensive doesn't create a
revolutionary situation in Britain even if you get the capture of the
BEF such as nearly happened in 1940.
A change of government wouldn't be surprising but nothing more radical
than a Ramsay MacDonald type regime - not even as radical as the 1945
Attlee government.
A stronger showing could see them propping up either Ramsay MacDonald
government, and we know what leverage a few extremists can generate, if
their votes are essential to stop the government collapsing.
--
Pete BARRETT
Don P
2018-05-11 13:32:52 UTC
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On Sat, 28 Apr 2018 21:44:34 -0700, The Horny Goat wrote: > >> I don't see any serious mass Communist movement in the UK unless
Britain>> loses badly in WW1 and in THAT case the Kaiser's Germany
becomes strong>> enough it can overthrow a Communist movement pretty
much anywhere in>> Europe it chooses.
You might get it (there was in OTL - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/
Red_Clydeside) in pockets; perhaps in Manchester, Newcastle, Liverpool,
Cardiff, you might have communist or communist-inspired councils. The
various parties to the left of Labour were surprisingly strong in places,
even up to 1945.
National differences seem important here. Unlike Russia (also unlike
Scotland and Ireland) England had an ancient or recurring tradition of
peasant revolt (since the 14th century), still vigorous and alive in
Victorian England. (This was possibly the main reason Marx proposed
class warfare as the engine of social progress.) British lefties up to
Corbyn draw more inspiration from the Levellers of the Civil War (whom
Cromwell suppressed) than from foreign Bolsheviks (or book-writing
theoreticians.) A recurring theme in English history is that proletarian
revolutionaries often proposed a new revolutionary national government
but none ever endured, despite much measurable progress (as in 1945-50.)
--
Don Phillipson
Carlsbad Springs
(Ottawa, Canada)
Rich Rostrom
2018-05-01 03:26:37 UTC
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Post by Rhino
There *were* other Communist governments in the immediate aftermath of
Lenin's coup, although most were short-lived.
In Germany, the Spartacists helped drive Kaiser Wilhelm II the
abdication, although they were soon toppled by the Freikorps.
They never held national power.
Post by Rhino
Hungary had Communist government in 1919...
Inspired by the Bolshevik example, which ITTL doesn't happen.
Post by Rhino
But Mongolia became Communist in 1921...
Under Soviet influence, and who gave a damn about Mongolia,
anyway.
Post by Rhino
Suppose the Communists in Germany or Hungary, who
didn't receive significant help from the Bolsheviks,
had managed to cling to power...
Neither had any serious chance of keeping power,
and both were trying to emulate the Bolshevik
example, which ITTL didn't happen.
--
Nous sommes dans une pot de chambre, et nous y serons emmerdés.
--- General Auguste-Alexandre Ducrot at Sedan, 1870.
Rhino
2018-05-01 10:52:50 UTC
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Post by Rich Rostrom
Post by Rhino
There *were* other Communist governments in the immediate aftermath of
Lenin's coup, although most were short-lived.
In Germany, the Spartacists helped drive Kaiser Wilhelm II the
abdication, although they were soon toppled by the Freikorps.
They never held national power.
Post by Rhino
Hungary had Communist government in 1919...
Inspired by the Bolshevik example, which ITTL doesn't happen.
Post by Rhino
But Mongolia became Communist in 1921...
Under Soviet influence, and who gave a damn about Mongolia,
anyway.
Post by Rhino
Suppose the Communists in Germany or Hungary, who
didn't receive significant help from the Bolsheviks,
had managed to cling to power...
Neither had any serious chance of keeping power,
and both were trying to emulate the Bolshevik
example, which ITTL didn't happen.
Fair enough: all three cases were, perhaps, unlikely to "stick" without
either the help or inspiration of Lenin and his merry band. But there
*were* other far Left political organizations in any number of other
countries. Maybe, given a bit more time and the right circumstances,
like the Great Depression, one of them might have come to power, either
in a revolutionary way or democratically. Then *that* country would be
the Motherland of Marxism and might do many of the same things to
advance communism that the Soviet Union did in the OTL.
--
Rhino
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