Saturday, April 25, 2020

Russia Today Remains ‘Pregnant with Leninism,’ Khots Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, August 23 – That Lenin’s body remains in the mausoleum and his statue in so many Russian cities is “very symbolic and appropriate,” Aleksandr Khots says, “because the historical problem which Lenin symbolizes has not disappeared but on the contrary is becoming ever more significant.”

            “For me,” the Russian commentator says, “the mausoleum is a metaphor of the deep formula of Berdyaev that ‘Russia develops via catastrophes.” One can dispute whether it “develops” or “falls apart,” of course; but “it is difficult to deny the fact of revolutionary catastrophe” (

            Again as at the end of the imperial period, the possibility of destroying the police state by force remains at the center of the thinking of many  Russians; and “the demand for catastrophe is that deep historical reality which will define our future” as long as the police run the state and “an imperial ‘vertical’ exists.”

            Lenin or more precisely “the specter of Lenin” is marching through Russia once again, “the specter of the destruction of the empire.” And because that is the case, Khots says, “the formula ‘more living than the living’ already appears in the years of Putinism not as simply ‘soviet-era’ propaganda.”   

            “The bloody disintegration of ‘Nicholas’ empire’ was historically predetermined.” Lenin wasn’t its author; and it was entirely possible that some other name might have been placed on the mausoleum.  But today, “it is especially clear to us how a thieving state, systemic arbitrariness, poverty and police force form in society people of a Leninist type.”

            It wasn’t so much that Bolshevism was “’bloody and cruel’ but that the dehumanization of the entire state system which had lasted for centuries took place much earlier.” Lenin was only “a political symbol” and embodiment of that process. He was in short, Khots argues, “the result but not ‘the bloody cause.’” 

            The young Ulyanov who lost his brother to the hangman not surprisingly developed “a deep personal hatred to the system,” but he also reflected its dehumanization and his own effort to find a justification for his personal hatred and for the dehumanized “monster” that had produced many like him.

            This combination of personal motives and reliance on a supposedly scientific model of social mobilization “could not fail to form a policy of a Leninist type” either then or now, the commentator continues. “One can see” in his fate and that of many others “the personal dramas of people of that time.”  But one can also see the systemic factors which continue to this day.

            That is the lesson of Leninism that is more important now when one is talking not about “’bloody Bolshevism’” but about “a picture of total corruption, falsehood, and police force which sometime led the country to an explosion. The heirs of empire today are following the very same road.”

            “The Russian empire will be ‘pregnant with Leninism’ as long as its imperial essence is reproduced. Explosions, times of troubles and disintegration are only the result of imperial inertia.”  “Comrade Ulyanov (Lenin) is only a mirror of this reality,” Khots concludes. What is reflected back from a mirror, of course, is not the mirror’s fault.

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