By George Volkov
The 24th of January will mark the anniversary of the death of Vladimir Ilyich Ulyanov, better known as Lenin.
Nearly a century has passed since Lenin passed away, at the early age of 53, due to a four strokes, and 2 gunshot wounds, that were left inside his body because it would be more risk to him than to take them out. Now, no matter what you think of Lenin, you can agree with me that it took a lot to bring him down.
After leading the Bolshevik party and Soviets (workers councils) to seize power from the corrupt, rich Kerensky, Lenin was elected as the chairman of the people’s council of commissars, a name thought of by Trotsky, to distance itself from the “bourgeois” terms ‘minister’ and ‘cabinet’.
Due to the dire state Russia was in, after world war one, Lenin had to sign the treaty of Brest-Litovsk with Germany in march. Russia could not carry on the war, it was physically impossible and would destroy the country. If you think Versailles was harsh, look at these figures:
A quarter of the Russian Empire’s population
A quarter of its industry
Nine-tenths of its coal mines
Had to pay 6 billion marks
And yet the Germans were enraged at the ‘harsh’ terms of Versailles.
Lenin stayed true to his slogan the slogan that started the revolution:
Peace, land and bread, and you can’t say that for most politicians.
Some may say Lenin was brutal, some a tyrant, I myself see Lenin as a man who was stubborn in his politics, and relentless in his attacks on his opponents. Some may claim Lenin was like Stalin, but Lenin argues with those who disagreed with him, what did Stalin do? Some socialists frown upon the breaking up of the constituent assembly. But we’re the candidates accountable and recallable like the soviets?
Due to the civil war in Russian, and the 14 invading foreign powers, Lenin had to enact harsh policies- War Communism. This lead to much opposition from the left, and on the 30th August.
The Red army did gain widespread support among the population. The charisma of its leader, Leon Trotsky, was a big reason, as Trotsky was an outstanding orator and tactician. The Bolsheviks had given the peasants the land they had worked on all their lives, whilst being oppressed by the landlords. The white army, or armies, as they were just loosely organised anti-Bolsheviks, killed Bolsheviks in the towns they conquered, took from peasants and were generally hostile to the population.
Lenin was, and will remain, a man of great controversy. Some men see him as a brilliant theoretician, leader and politician, others as a brute, a tyrant and a dictator. I do not subscribe to the cult of personality around Lenin, as that was fostered by the Stalinists. On the contrary, I will constantly criticise and try to improve the ideas and actions of Lenin. As Lenin updated the ideas of Marx for the 20th century, we must update Lenin’s ideas for the 21st century.
For the meanwhile, Lenin’s ideas and actions are debated on by the left and right alike, and will continue to be, as men do, and always will have different opinions.
I shall leave you with this quote:
“Through the ages of world history thousands of leaders and scholars appeared who spoke eloquent words, but these remained but words. You, Lenin, were an exception. You not only spoke and taught us, but translated your words into deeds.”