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Leninism's Tomb

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One medical problem I have never had to deal with is high blood pressure. Indeed, my blood pressure has always been low, to the point where taking my pulse has been challenging. Whatever problems this may cause me, it does allow me to view sites that raise my blood pressure without any undue harm to my system. If you suffer from a weak constitution, or a tendency to put your fist through the monitor, you may want to refrain from clicking the link below.

→ http://antiwar.com/nagle/n021703.html

This article is to an article trying to compare the current government of the United States (which it calls the "Party", for no good reason) with the Party (which he tries to divorce from communism) in the Soviet Union. He then tries to claim that the anti-war movement should act as if they were opposing a Leninist party from a leftist position. I don't want to address his plan of action, but rather the leaps of logic that the author makes to accuse the US of being Leninist.

I believe the key to understanding his article is to assume, for the time being, that he believes that the only way for a government or society to be successful is by embracing the Leninist ideal of a party. He believes that this is the natural order, saying:

Lenin understood something fundamental about humans, or at least most humans, and that is that they want to "belong." Those with a desire to "belong" can be relied upon to command others to build the new order, the others being outside history and reliable swallowers of whatever is put in front of their faces.

I don't accept that, but I'll get back to that later. He's using this argument to justify the lack of acceptance of the anti-war movement, claiming:

In much the same way as Lenin's Party did, the War faction of the current Party also tolerates dissent from within its ranks, and so far has not shot any dissenters. Antiwar.com and other opponents of the march to war can rant and rave all we like from outside the Party, and demonstrators can gather by the hundreds of thousands in cities all across the West, but these manifestations of popular will do not threaten the War Party as long as they do not represent a rival Party, tightly organized according to Leninist principles.

Instead of Communism, the War Party uses the progressive ideology of "freedom, democracy, and universal human rights" to advance its cause internationally. This is of course a lie, a tactic used by Hitler but also by Lenin, and to more lasting effect than by the ex-corporal and Austrian WWI veteran.

The above makes sense if you look at them through the twisted lens of the author's worldview. The anti-war movement remains marginal, a fringe group at best. Therefore, the country must be organized by a party, one that only allows people who subscribe to its views to have opinions that matter, with the rest commanded along. The author is assuming only Leninism could be successful, and since the US is undeniably successful, it must be a Leninist state.

In a way, this is one step beyond what the Arab Traditionalists and Transnational Progressives believe. They are offended by the success of the United States, flying as it does in the face of their beliefs. The author of this article instead embraces the US, claiming that our success comes from a hidden embrace of his political views. Even while we oppose his policy on the war, he believe we accept the rest of his agenda.

I'm sorry, I don't buy it. In the United States, political choice is not only granted to an elite. A voting booth is not set up so that " All and only intellectuals can pass through its golden gates and into the social stratosphere". In the US, every year every non-criminal adult gets his say in how he will be governed. There can be no single Party, when everyone has the franchise, except through the consent of the governed for a limited time.

He seems to believe that the failure of the anti-war movement is the victory of one elite over another. I see it differently, as the victory of the elected representatives of the people over his scruffy "elite".

He considers "freedom, democracy, and universal human rights" to be "lies". I live them every day, and I want everyone else in the world to be able to as well. I don't see Leninism as a force of history, but rather as a failed ideology. Government for, of, and by the people has worked astoundingly well over the past two centuries, especially in the past half-century. It shows no signs of failing anytime soon.

It's dishonest to try and credit Leninist elitism with the successes of liberal democracy.

On one point, I can agree with him. If for some reason, the Russians were to sell Lenin's tomb (which I doubt), we should buy it, and move it to Washington, DC, to be set up as a museum for people to visit.

But the point would not be to glorify Leninism. Instead, I would juxtapose it with images from Eastern Europe, and the Soviet Union under communism, as a warning to humanity of the dangers of allowing an elite to rule.

- Tom | permalink | changelog | Last updated: 2003-02-21 11:27

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