• thewonder
    I'm not attempting to break the blog post rules, here, but, this is too long to post as a discussion. Here is The Spectre of Communism. I hope that you like it.
  • I like sushi
    I believe this would be a good candidate for ‘Articles’?
  • Outlander
    Would you perhaps consider posting little snippets of the article that you found most captivating or relevant to whatever point you desire?
  • thewonder

    I they'd like to publish it, I don't mind. I wouldn't expect for them to, though.

    Sure thing. You've kind of got to read it all to get the whole gist, though.

    The opening paragraph:

    "There is a certain irony to the French Revolution in that one of, primarily, two historical events that came to serve as the basis for the beaux ideals of Liberalism was, perhaps, the genesis of modern dictatorship and that it became notorious for its ritualistic and ostensibly self-purifying use of the guillotine. In the opening chapter to The Unbearable Lightness of Being, Milan Kundera wrote, “If the French Revolution were to recur eternally, French historians would be less proud of Robespierre. But because they deal with something that will not return, the bloody years of the Revolution have turned into mere words, theories, and discussions, have become lighter than feathers, frightening no one.” The protagonist then asks how we can condemn something that is ephemeral and declares, “In the sunset of dissolution, everything is illuminated by the aura of nostalgia, even the guillotine.”[1] It was, perhaps, telling that the guillotine had originally been created as a more humane means to carry out public executions out of Joseph-Ignace Guillotin’s opposition to capital punishment. The Committee of Public Safety was capable of absolving itself of its ritual public murders, all the while legitimating that such a device was in need of such constant use that there was ever even a reason for its invention. Though certainly more quick and painless than other instruments of public execution at the time, the public spectacle of serial beheadings must have had an extraordinary effect upon the French populace. It would have been as if, by experiencing the acute trauma of serving as a witness to political decapitations, a French citizen was expected to substitute the theoretical catharsis of divine violence with the terror of the Revolution. By carrying out the Reign of Terror, Maximilien Robespierre, who during the Thermidorian Reaction was, himself, beheaded, must have believed that he was purifying the French body-politic. The device became emblematic of the Revolution, the violence associated with it, and, to some, the dictatorial control that The Committee of Public Safety had secured over the National Convention. For the many on the right, it has become a symbol for the Left’s vengeful disregard for the “sanctity of life” and, within certain circles on the left, one of liberation. Though I am not so inclined so as to pathologically fear the poor and downtrodden, in part, because I have little reason to, I see little to celebrate of a reign of terror. On the 6th of April in 1871, communards of the Paris Commune dismantled and burned a guillotine that had been built for the government of Adolphe Thiers.[2] They did not believe, contrary to many of their own avowed sympathies with Louis Auguste Blanqui, that the world that they had wanted to create could be established by an exclusive conspiratorial sect or, contrary to what many, at the time, thought about revolutionaries, through the excessive use of revolutionary terror. The Bolshevik faction of Russian Social Democratic Labour Party, led by Vladimir Lenin, would not prove to have been so wise."

    A partial thesis:

    "He would author another text that would become integral to Soviet orthodoxy during this period of time. In August of 1917, Lenin finished writing The State and Revolution. He had planned to write an additional chapter for the book, but never did so because he became preoccupied with the October Revolution and the subsequent Russian Civil War. In the text, he characteristically castigates his political rivals, rails against “opportunist prejudices” and “philistine illusions” concerning the “peaceful development of democracy”, develops a “Marxist” revolutionary teleology that calls for the eventual abolition of the necessity of democracy and delineates a two phase theory of the development of communist society, repudiates democracy in general, paradoxically cites the Paris Commune in his defense of the “dictatorship of the proletariat”, claims that a “special apparatus” for the suppression of the bourgeoisie by the proletariat will simply “wither away” as communist society develops, and, in a section of the text that was either originally written or, later, directly quoted by Bukharin, calls for “seas of blood” to flow in the wake of a revolution led by a vanguard party.[33] To the chagrin of any self-respecting Leninist, unless they are willing to claim that the “withering away of the state” began with the dissolution of the Soviet Union, we now know this “special apparatus” never went through an extempore disintegration. While, perhaps, originally written as a both pragmatic and visionary preliminary delineation of revolutionary praxis, there are many who would later interpret it as a defense of authoritarianism. The “Leninism” of the official ideology of the Soviet Union, Marxism-Leninism, seems, to me, to have been “democratic centralism”, a euphemism for one-party rule, as it was both inspired by and expropriated from The State and Revolution."

    A general gist:

    "You may have, by now, noticed that there are two narratives that have been presented in this essay that would seem to be mutually inconsistent. The first of which is the explicit argument that I making, which is that the abuse of power within the Soviet Union, its “satellites”, and other countries to have desecrated the Communist project, became possible because of Lenin’s political praxis, which, if you were to learn history in chronological order, would seem self-evident, but, as there are many who would still like to revel in ostensive glory of the October Revolution, can, quite often, be a greater point of contention than what anyone would reasonably expect. The second of which is the rather harrowing chronicle of just what happened to a number of “Old Bolsheviks” leading up to and during the Great Terror. The continuation of the systemic elimination of dissent, proceeding from the Red Terror carried out during the Russian Civil War, within the Soviet Union culminated in such extraordinary excess that no person, even those who were willing to claim that Lenin was, in point of fact, the biblical anti-Christ, could reasonably suggest that Stalin’s reign was a natural consequence of the October Revolution...The October Revolution can be interpreted as a parable about the ethics of revolution and Lenin can be characterized as having been a “minor despot”. Stalin was desperate to secure power and all the more desperate to retain it. That a regime makes a frantic attempt to remain in power is not indicative of that totalitarianism does not exist; it is just precisely what totalitarianism is. Stalin was a dictator par excellence, or, in short, a tyrant. Nevertheless, Stalin’s regime was not born ex nihilo and must have originated somehow. As Lenin led the Bolsheviks from their split within the Russian Social Democratic Labor Party until after the Russian Civil War and, throughout his entire life, represented his political faction as the sole political faction to be capable of reifying the Communist project, it shouldn’t be terribly difficult to discover just what those origins were."

    Kind of a good dig:

    "Aside from the apparent sanctimony of which he was emphatically guilty, there is also that it is nothing but extraordinarily condescending to have believed that common people are incapable of coming to an awareness of their political situation on their own and that they need to be guided by near apostolistic “professionals”, lest they stray from the officially sanctioned revolutionary course of action. Though, in What is to be Done?, Lenin emphasized that the vanguard was to come from all sets of Russian society, what it effectively creates is an intellectual elite comprised of often domineering revolutionaries who can afford to spend years of their lives becoming well versed in the theories of Marx and Engels, or, in short, a new revolutionary class. Lenin’s original principal antagonist was the Okhrana. The Cheka, which he established, would greatly exceed their abuse of power. The myriad of somewhat divergent, but inextricably interrelated organizations and both legal and extrajudicial machinations that came to comprise Soviet intelligence both under Josef Stalin and during the, later, rule of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union would make even the most fanatical Russian nihilists long for the days of the aristocracy and, in some cases, actually did. Though, living in the United States, as I do, this point is probably better made than taken, if there is anything to learn from the so-called “Russian Revolution”, it is that civil society should not be organized like an intelligence operation. Though, by no stretch of the imagination do I intend to suggest that the life of the mind should not be both cultivated and celebrated, what I do, as an explicit affront, intend to suggest is that the combination of presumed intellectual superiority and vindication of nominal “discipline” did have more than dire consequences within the Soviet Union."

    The conclusion:

    "We, however, live in a different era, more than a full century after the October Revolution. Though Lenin’s legacy has been evidently challenged by the destruction of Soviet monuments, within the Russian Federation, today, it is still held, by some, to be sacrosanct. Despite that most of its citizens would prefer to see Lenin buried, President Vladimir Putin has refused to so, having claimed that it would mean for Russian citizens to have to reassess the October Revolution. I should hope that I have argued well enough by now to convince you that they, the Left, and whoever else there is that should be so inclined to should do precisely that. Lenin’s corpse has haunted the world for nearly a century. It is time to lay it, and the terror of its wake along with it, to rest."

    You're kind of missing all of the historical context and much of the theory as such, though. It's more or less about how Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn was right to accuse Vladimir Lenin of having been an autocrat, but mistaken in that the reign of Josef Stalin was a natural consequence of the October Revolution.

    I should also note that I have yet to take my professor up on including that Vladimir Lenin had come back to Russia from Switzerland with the aid of the German Empire, as it provides some important context as to the opposition to him from both the Kadets and the Left-Wing Communists.
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