Tuesday, March 17, 2020

Time to Take Lenin Out of Mausoleum and Leninist Ideas Out of Russian Minds, Igor Chubais Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, March 12 – It is emblematic of the state of Russian intellectual life under Vladimir Putin that the Moscow Institute of Russian History chosen to mark the 150th anniversary of Lenin’s birth on March 5, the anniversary of Stalin’s death, and that speakers repeated Soviet-era shibboleths about the Bolshevik leader, Igor Chubais says.

            “It is perfectly clear that official social science is incapable of breaking with the dead ideological dogmas of the Soviet past,” the independent historian and commentator says. “Official history is a dead weight which prevents society from understanding the past and this means as well does not allow it to draw correct conclusions and plans for the future.”

            Removing Lenin from the mausoleum on Red Square should happen now before the situation gets worse, and all Russians of good will must work to drive Leninist ideas and ideas about Lenin out of the head of Russians rather than allowing these things to fester and metasticize (mk.ru/social/2020/03/12/prishla-pora-vynesti-nevynosimogo-ilicha-iz-mavzoleya.html).

            Chubais says he attended the March 5th meeting because he wanted to hear “first hand” from senior professors what is new in Russian thinking about Lenin. But “alas, it turned out that the main speaker presented views which would have sounded in this very same hall five or 35 or even 50 years ago.”

            The audience was told as it would have been told before about “’the great revolutionary,” “the Russian empire as the condemned weak link” in the world order, and that “Lenin was a patriot, a humanist and a man of the era of the Enlightenment.”  In Russia today, Chubais says, when people want to turn things upside down, they insist that things must not be turned that way.

            When he had the chance to speak, Chubais said, he said he agreed with the speaker that no one can write history without the facts and thus very much regretted that the Lenin collection in the Russian state archives remains closed, thus prevent a more serious discussion of his place in the history of Russia.

            The independent historian made five points, each of which calls into question the official Soviet-Russian view of the Bolshevik leader:

·         Lenin, as Solzhenitsyn said, “was the murderer of Russia.” In fact, Lenin said as much himself in State and Revolution. He was thus not “the patriot” the historical establishment seeks to present him as.

·         Russia was not the weak link in the world of states. Before 1914, it was booming and projected to be the world leader by mid-century. World War I posed challenges it could not easily cope with, and Russians responded with the February revolution that installed the democratic Provisional Government.

·         What happened in Russia in October 1917 was not a revolution but a coup. “A revolution is the result of broad social activity when society seeks the recognition of its rights … a coup is the action of a narrow group of conspirators.”  Remembering this difference should permit Russians to distinguish conspirators from revolutionaries, “the Euromaidan from ‘the storming of the Winter Palace,’ which never took place.”

·         October 25 took place because Berlin feared that Austro-Hungary was about to make a separate peace with Petrograd, and so Lenin ordered his subordinates to arrest the Provisional Government to prevent that from happening lest the war end and the Entente win.

·         Lenin was no man of the Enlightenment. He introduced total censorship, he closed all humanities faculties in Russian universities, he exiled the intellectual elite of the country and he burned books.

All this, Chubasi says, makes it clear that “Lenin was the most horrible catastrophe of our state during the 12 centuries of Russian history, comparable only with the Mongol yoke!” He must be carried out of the mausoleum and his ideas and ideas about him must be driven from our minds.

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