Did Lenin commit atrocities too?

Edgewaters

Ad Honorem
Jul 2007
9,098
Canada
I agree that the Communist revolution had NO intention of ever instituting democracy, and of course, it never did.
With this, I don't agree. The anti-democratic nature of the state that the Bolsheviks set up was abundantly obvious, of course, but the revolution and the aims of many of its participants (eg Mensheviks etc) certainly doesn't appear to have been anti-democratic (and in fact, the Bolsheviks only became so after it became apparent that they could never achieve the support of the majority without wiping out competing communist and leftist groups).

Lenin and Marx's understanding is that what we call democracy really isn't- and it is hard to argue with that conclusion.
I think you're conflating Marx and Lenin a bit too much here. Marx never said anything about a one-party state and he was not a vanguardist. Marx's ultimate aim was direct democracy and the abolition of the state. There is nothing to indicate that the transitory 'dictatorship of the proletariat' which Marx referred to implied any sort of vanguard rule, rather a dicatorship of the majority. This certainly is very anti-liberal and anti-republican, but it is not anti-democratic.

Marx, for example, predicted the "boom-bust" situtation we have now.
Recessions were already known and by most economists prior to Marx, and one of the central activities of economists was explaining them. Marx certainly wasn't the first to deal with recessions, but he came up with a new theory of why it occurred (to periodically destroy production capital to balance overproduction). For Marx, recessions were actually a stabilizing factor of capitalism. But Marx also predicted a crisis of capitalism, not a normal recessionary event but a cataclysmic failure that would destroy civilization (unless the revolution succeeded).
 
Last edited:

Black Dog

Ad Honorem
Mar 2008
9,990
Damned England
Lenin and Marx's understanding is that what we call democracy really isn't- and it is hard to argue with that conclusion
Sorry, Edgewaters, what I meant by this was that Marx did not believe that what we (the west) had was real democracy. Simply because, as you so rightly point out, our western model of democracy is not "majority" rule. As it is instrinsically corrupt and whilst governments may change, nevertheless, the Ruling Classes still have, institutionally, an excess of power. I explained that rather clumsily, my apologies.
 
Nov 2008
639
Melbourne, Australia
It is certainly true to say that Lenin's rule was a bloody one. The institution of the Red Terror, monstrous famine and the activities of the Cheka secret police resulted in the deaths of 10,000,000 Russians during the civil war alone. However, it is important to remember that these actions do not necessarily reflect either the pre-revolution intentions of the Bolsheviks, nor necessarily their preferred post-revolution policies.

Lenin's actions took place in an extremely hostile and volatile environment. Faced with the considerable threat of numerous White factions, and international intervention, the Bolshevik party was literally fighting for its very survival. Certainly the Bolsheviks committed atrocities, however, it was largely in an environment of desperate self-defense, and were matched by atrocities committed by the opposing factions.

As a very small percentage of Lenin's rule was conducted under stable, peaceful conditions, it is difficult to say how he would have behaved under more accommodating circumstances. This is the crucial difference between Stalin and Lenin: While Lenin's atrocities occurred as a desperate response to desperate conditions, Stalin's were merely a means of peacetime power consolidation and totalitarian imperialism.
 

Rosi

Historum Emeritas
Jul 2008
6,242
A quote from a book I'm reading on Hitler & Stalin.

"One of the intriguing 'might-have-beens' of history is what would have happened if Lenin had been born a German in the most highly industrialized country in Europe, with the largest working-class movement, instead of in Russia, the most backward and so least promising country in which to launch a Marxist revolution."

My take is Lenin would have had a lot more blood on his hands. Germany then was ripe for someone like Hitler. A predecessor like Lenin might have stolen the thunder from the younger man and the "shock and awe" usually associated with Hitler might have been exclusively Lenin's.
 
Nov 2008
639
Melbourne, Australia
Surely the greatest tragedy for the Communist cause was that the Bolsheviks were a Russian revolutionary group rather than a German one. Despite Russia's highly socialist intellectual caste, the nation simply was not ready for Marxism in 1917. It was a tsardom of peasants; nothing like the kind of highly capitalist society Marx prescribed. If the Communist cause could have combined the socialist intellectualism of Russia with the high capitalism of Germany, it might have actually worked. Or at the very least it would have made for a far more convincing attempt.

If Lenin had allowed the "Capitalist Phase" of the great design to mature in Russia, coupled with its history of socialism, who knows what could have happened. Unfortunately, for Marxists at least, Lenin was concerned more with the seizure of power and immediate change than true communism.
 
Last edited:
Oct 2008
23
Who in 1918 violently dissolved the Constituent Assembly? Who eliminate the Mensheviks... I'll ask, who started the Russian Civil War / over 20 millions dead/? Who made the War Communism.
 
Nov 2008
70
If Lenin had allowed the "Capitalist Phase" of the great design to mature in Russia, coupled with its history of socialism, who knows what could have happened. Unfortunately, for Marxists at least, Lenin was concerned more with the seizure of power and immediate change than true communism.
A gradual revolution is very hard to achieve. For true communism to arise it would take lifetimes of stability and sacrifices. Unfortunatly most idealists simply cannot wait to live in the utopia they have imagined, so they decide against their best judgement to speed things up a bit.

As soon as anyone has absolute power the line between good and evil gets blurred. I believe sometimes blood has to be spilled to allow changes for the better. But where do we draw the line?

Remember Oliver Cromwell is largely regarded as a hero in England, yet in Eire he is remembered as a tyrant and murderer. All depends on perspective.

"The death of one is a tragedy, the death of millions is just a statistic"
-Josef Stalin
 

Son of Cathal

Ad Honorem
Oct 2008
4,311
The Bright Center of the Universe
Who in 1918 violently dissolved the Constituent Assembly? Who eliminate the Mensheviks... I'll ask, who started the Russian Civil War / over 20 millions dead/? Who made the War Communism.
I believe it was Trotsky who eliminated the Mensheviks