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Vladimir Ilyich Lenin

1870-1924

Vladimir Ilyich Lenin (22 April 1870 – 21 January 1924), born Vladimir Ilyich Ulyanov, was a Russian Marxist revolutionary and communist politician who led the October Revolution of 1917.  - A Stan Klos Website

Vladimir Ilyich Lenin (22 April 1870 – 21 January 1924), born Vladimir Ilyich Ulyanov, was a Russian Marxist revolutionary and communist politician who led the October Revolution of 1917. As leader of the Bolsheviks, he headed the Soviet state during its initial years (1917–1924), as it fought to establish control of Russia in the Russian Civil War and worked to create a socialist economic system.

As a politician, Vladimir Lenin was a persuasive orator, as a political scientist his extensive theoretic and philosophical developments of Marxism produced Leninism, the pragmatic Russian application of Marxism.  He was also named by Time Magazine as one of the 100 most important people of the 20th century.

From Wikipedia

The mental strains of leading a revolution, governing, and fighting a civil war aggravated the physical debilitation consequent to the wounds from the attempted assassinations; Lenin still retained a bullet in his neck, until a German surgeon removed it on 24 April 1922. Among his comrades, Lenin was notable for working almost ceaselessly, fourteen to sixteen hours daily, occupied with minor, major, and routine matters. About the man at his life’s end, Volkogonov said:

Lenin was involved in the challenges of delivering fuel into Ivanovo-Vosnesensk... the provision of clothing for miners, he was solving the question of dynamo construction, drafted dozens of routine documents, orders, trade agreements, was engaged in the allocation of rations, edited books and pamphlets at the request of his comrades, held hearings on the applications of peat, assisted in improving the workings at the ‘Novii Lessner’ factory, clarified in correspondence with the engineer P. A. Kozmin the feasibility of using wind turbines for the electrification of villages... all the while serving as an adviser to party functionaries almost continuously.

When already sick, Lenin remembered that, since 1917, he had only rested twice: once, whilst hiding from the Kerensky Provisional Government (when he wrote The State and Revolution), and whilst recovering from Fanya Kaplan’s failed assassination.[108] In March 1922, when physicians examined him, they found evidence of neither nervous nor organic pathology, but, given his fatigue and the headaches he suffered, they prescribed rest. Upon returning to St. Petersburg in May 1922, Lenin suffered the first of three strokes, which left him dumb for weeks, and severely hampered motion in his right side; by June, he had substantially recovered. By August he resumed limited duties, delivering three long speeches in November. In December 1922, he suffered the second stroke that partly paralyzed his right side, he then withdrew from active politics. In March 1923, he suffered the third stroke that rendered him mute and bed-ridden until his death.

During Lenin’s sickness (1922–23), Stalin used this altered photograph as his bona fides claim to leading the VKP(b).[109]

After the first stroke, Lenin dictated government papers to Nadezhda; among them was Lenin's Testament (changing the structure of the soviets), partly inspired by the 1922 Georgian Affair (Russian cultural assimilation of constituent USSR republics), and it criticized high-rank Communists, including Josef Stalin, Grigory Zinoviev, Lev Kamenev, Nikolai Bukharin, and Leon Trotsky. About the Communist Party's General Secretary (since 1922), Josef Stalin, Lenin reported that the "unlimited authority" concentrated in him was unacceptable, and suggested that "comrades think about a way of removing Stalin from that post." His phrasing, "Сталин слишком груб", implies “personal rudeness, unnecessary roughness, lack of finesse”, flaws "intolerable in a Secretary-General".

At Lenin's death, Nadezhda mailed his testament to the central committee, to be read aloud to the 13th Party Congress in May 1924. However, to remain in power, the ruling troika — Stalin, Kamenev, Zinoviev — suppressed Lenin's Testament; it was not published until 1925, in the United States, by the American intellectual Max Eastman. In that year, Trotsky published an article minimizing the importance of Lenin's Testament, saying that Lenin's notes should not be perceived as a will, that it had been neither concealed, nor violated;  yet he did invoke it in later anti-Stalin polemics.

Lenin died at 18.50 hrs, Moscow time, on 21 January 1924, aged 53, at his estate in Gorki Leninskiye. In the four days that the Bolshevik Leader Vladimir Ilyich Lenin lay in state, more than 900,000 mourners viewed his body in the Hall of Columns; among the statesmen who expressed condolences to Russia (the USSR) was Chinese premier Sun Yat-sen, who said:
 

Lenin in 1923.

Through the ages of world history, thousands of leaders and scholars appeared who spoke eloquent words, but these remained words. You, Lenin, were an exception. You not only spoke and taught us, but translated your words into deeds. You created a new country. You showed us the road of joint struggle... You, great man that you are, will live on in the memories of the oppressed people through the centuries.[113]

Winston Churchill, who encouraged British intervention against the Russian Revolution, in league with the White Movement, to destroy the Bolsheviks and Bolshevism, said:

He alone could have found the way back to the causeway... The Russian people were left floundering in the bog. Their worst misfortune was his birth... their next worst his death.[114]

Three days after his death, Petrograd was renamed Leningrad in his honour, so remaining until 1991, when the USSR dissolved, yet the administrative area remains "Leningrad Oblast". In the early 1920s, the Russian cosmism movement proved so popular that Leonid Krasin and Alexander Bogdanov proposed to cryonically preserve Lenin for future resurrection, yet, despite buying the requisite equipment, that was not done.  Instead, the body of V. I. Lenin was embalmed and permanently exhibited in the Lenin Mausoleum, in Moscow, on 27 January 1924. Despite the official diagnosis of death from stroke consequences, the Russian scientist Ivan Pavlov reported that Lenin died of neurosyphilis, according to a publication by V.Lerner and colleagues in the European Journal of Neurology in 2004. The authors also note that 'It is possible that future DNA technology applied to preserved Lenin's brain material ultimately could establish or disprove neurosyphilis as the primary cause of Lenin's death'.

Personal life and characteristics

According to Leon Trotsky, who knew him well:

Lenin's outward appearance was distinguished by simplicity and strength. He was below the middle height, with the plebeian features of the Slavonic type of face, brightened by piercing eyes; and his powerful forehead and still more powerful head gave him a marked distinction.

According to most reports, in his personal life Lenin was a modest and unassuming man. He liked children and cats and his enthusiasms included bicycling, amateur photography, chess, skating, swimming, hunting, music and hiking.When in exile in Switzerland, Lenin, accompanied by his wife Krupskaya, developed a considerable passion for mountain walking in the Swiss peaks. Lenin's personal life is documented in detail in his wife's book Memories of Lenin.

Writings

Lenin the icon: A 1929 Laz languagenewspaper featuring Lenin's writing

Lenin was a prolific political theoretician and philosopher who wrote about the practical aspects of carrying out a proletarian revolution; he wrote pamphlets, articles, and books, without a stenographer or secretary, until prevented by illness.  He simultaneously corresponded with comrades, allies, and friends, in Russia and world-wide. His Collected Works comprise 54 volumes, each of about 650 pages, translated into English in 45 volumes by Progress Publishers, Moscow 1960-70.  The most influential include:

  • What is to be Done? (1902) - states that a revolution requires a professional vanguard party.
     

  • Imperialism, the Highest Stage of Capitalism (1916) explains why capitalism had not collapsed, as Marx had posited, presenting the First World War as a capitalist war for land, resources, and cheap labour.

  • The State and the Revolution (1917) interprets the ideas of Marx and Engels, the October Revolution's theoretic basis, and opposes the social-democratic tendency as indecisive in effecting revolution.

  • April Theses (1917) propose the socio-economic need for a socialist revolution.
    "Left-Wing" Communism: An Infantile Disorder (1920) - sharp critique of the
    "ultra-left"

Soviet censorship of Lenin

After Lenin's death, the USSR selectively censored his writings, to establish the dogma of the infallibility of Lenin, Stalin (his successor), and the Central Committee;  thus, the Soviet fifth edition (55 vols., 1958–65) of Lenin's œuvre deleted the Lenin–Stalin contradictions, and all that is unfavourable to the founder of the USSR.  Nevertheless, the historians Richard Pipes and David Brandenberger published a documentary collection of letters and telegrams excluded from the Soviet fifth edition, that is not notably different from the Collected Works, which does not suggest censorship.  They proposed them as proof that the Soviet fifth edition is incomplete, an interpretation dependant upon the notion of “Lenin’s Works”, because the Khrushchev-era edition contains documents considered "not for publication".

 


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