Did Lenin commit atrocities too?

#41
Lenin did kill a lot of people, but he did this only to achieve the revolution
I'm saying he didn't kill people with an evil mind, but the revolution was much more important than the lives of some(or many) people

which is why Lenin was a communist - some people had to be sacrificed for the greater good..
 
#42
I'm always impressed by attempts to rationalise killing innocent people and how the greater good always seems to involve mass graves and funeral piers.

Just once it would be nice to have a noble cause that actually left people alive or benefited more than an elite.
 
Jul 2007
9,098
Canada
#43
Lenin did kill a lot of people, but he did this only to achieve the revolution
Actually he did most of his killing to stop the revolution, which continued to resist the Bolsheviks as well.

The revolution had little to do with the Bolsheviks. They did not create it, and they did not control it. All they did was (after the October Revolution) attempt to hijack it, unsuccesfully (they only hijacked the state), whereupon they became a target of the Third Russian Revolution.
 
Nov 2008
639
Melbourne, Australia
#44
which is why Lenin was a communist - some people had to be sacrificed for the greater good..
This is hardly a uniquely communist ideal - each of the liberal revolutions, especially the French, felt the need to make some human sacrifice, or purge their nation to some extent. For the Republicans also, the liberal cause was worth the loss of some of their followers, dying gloriously for revolution and country.
 
Jan 2008
18,733
Chile, Santiago
#45
Lenin wasn't too pleasant but he did have a small conscience that told him to try to prevent Stalin from rising to power because he knew just how brutal the man was. Lenin failed of course because of his death.
 
#46
I am always dumb-founded that people talk about the asassination of the Tzar's family as if it was an atrocity. The Tzar had sent millions of Russians to death in the trenches - don't you think he deserved a little bit of lead between the eyes?

I used to be involved in a Trotskyist movement: the standard line regarding the suppression of the Kronstadt uprising was that the rebels at Kronstadt were no longer the same "advanced elements" who participated in the 1917 revolution - these had been replaced by "backward peasants" and it was almost with tears in his eyes that Trotsky launched the attack (ok. I exagerate a little) Basically, we believed this because it was what we wanted to believe. We havd no means of checking if this was factually correct. And of course, even if it was factually correct, each and every one has to decide whether it was justified.

I did not know Lenin, so I cannot say if he was an evil bastard or not. Was he more evil than Clemenceau or Lloyd George or the Kaizer who sent millions to their deaths in the trenches? I do know from his writings that he felt that overthrowing capitalism would only be possible by violence. He said that he would have prefered it to be possible by peaceful means, but pointed to the experience of the Hungarian Revolution which was peaceful, but was drowned in blood by reactionnary forces. More recently, you can point to Allende in Chile - he tried a peaceful transition, and look what happened. I am also not convinced that Lenin was interested in his own personal position - he was possessed by his ideology, and convinced that he was acting for the good of humanity due to his marxist view of history and the revolution.

The problem with revolutions (at that time, at least) is that in order to succeed, they have to make use of ruthless, determined elements to crush the resistance of the ruling classes, and these elements finish by taking the power.

If the ruling classes were prepared to give up their power and their priviliedges, then there would be no need for terror, and no totalitarianism.

Another important factor that seems to have been overlooked: the Kerensky government created after the First Revolution did not end the participation of Russia in the war, which was one of the main demands of the workers and peasants (correct me if I am wrong, but that seems to be my recollection)

Fortunately now, all this is academic. We are all sitting in front of our flat screen TV, and the last thing we are going to do is start setting up barricades.
 
Nov 2008
639
Melbourne, Australia
#47
I am always dumb-founded that people talk about the asassination of the Tzar's family as if it was an atrocity. The Tzar had sent millions of Russians to death in the trenches - don't you think he deserved a little bit of lead between the eyes?
This is perhaps an acceptable rationalization for the assassination of the tzar, but his children, wife, pets and servants were completely innocent, and had done nothing to deserve "a little bit of lead between the eyes".
 

Edgewaters

Ad Honorem
Jul 2007
9,098
Canada
#48
Andrew said:
I am always dumb-founded that people talk about the asassination of the Tzar's family as if it was an atrocity.
Me too. Against the backdrop of Lenin's policy of mass terror against the peasants and proletariat, it was just a drop in the bucket.

the standard line regarding the suppression of the Kronstadt uprising was that the rebels at Kronstadt were no longer the same "advanced elements" who participated in the 1917 revolution - these had been replaced by "backward peasants" and it was almost with tears in his eyes that Trotsky launched the attack (ok. I exagerate a little) Basically, we believed this because it was what we wanted to believe. We havd no means of checking if this was factually correct.
Yes, actually, we do. It has been demonstrated to be a fabrication. We have very good records for this particular group, because they were principally sailors from the naval yards at Kronstadt and the service records were preserved.

"That the veteran politicized Red sailor still predominated at Kronstadt at the end of 1920 is borne out by the hard statistical data available regarding the crews of the two major battleships, the Petropavlovsk and the Sevastopol, both renowned since 1917 for their revolutionary zeal and Bolshevik allegiance. Of 2,028 sailors whose years of enlistment are known, no less than 1,904 or 93.9% were recruited into the navy before and during the 1917 revolution, the largest group, 1,195, having joined in the years 1914-16. Only some 137 sailors or 6.8% were recruited in the years 1918-21, including three who were conscripted in 1921, and they were the only ones who had not been there during the 1917 revolution.

- Israel Getzler, Kronstadt 1917-1921: The Fate of a Soviet Democracy

Bolsheviks have often expressed regret over the incident since catching so much heat over it, but that was an afterthought. At the time, they were jubilant. The day after the Kronstadt uprising was put down, they celebrated the anniversary of the Paris Commune with lavish festivities. Quite literally, they broke out the champagne even as the prisoner executions were begun.

I did not know Lenin, so I cannot say if he was an evil bastard or not. Was he more evil than Clemenceau or Lloyd George or the Kaizer who sent millions to their deaths in the trenches?
He sent millions to their deaths in wars against not only White forces, but against the Left Socialist Revolutionaries after they won the popular vote (causing the Bolsheviks to dissolve the Constituent Assembly, whereupon the proletariat responded with the Third Russian Revolution, which the Bolsheviks crushed by war and mass terror).

I do know from his writings that he felt that overthrowing capitalism would only be possible by violence.
When the Factory Committees began to spread and an alternative, non-capitalist economy directed by the workers themselves began to emerge, Lenin dissolved the Factory Committees and placed control of the economy under the state. He was a strong advocate of state capitalism, centralized banks, and imposition of a wage system on the workers (all three in direct contradiction of Marx's theories and the demands of the workers themselves). He even advocated exploitation of the workers in Party print-shops at gunpoint:

"Not a single rogue (including those who shirk work) to be allowed to be at liberty, but kept in prison, or serve a sentence of compulsory labour of the hardest kind…In one place ... half a dozen workers who shirk their work (in the manner of the rowdies, the manner in which many compositors in Petrograd, particularly in the Party print shops shirk their work) will be put in prison. In another they will be put to cleaning latrines. In a third place they will be provided with yellow tickets after they have served their time…In a fourth place one in every ten idlers will be shot on the spot."

Say what you want about Lloyd George etc but none of the print-workers at the London Times or anything were ever threatened with decimation executions to get them to work faster.


I am also not convinced that Lenin was interested in his own personal position
There is, therefore, absolutely no contradiction in principle between Soviet (that is socialist) democracy and the exercise of dictatorial powers by individuals. - Lenin

With respect to the second question on the significance of individual dictatorial power from the standpoint of the specific problems of the present period, we must say that every large machine industry . . . requires an absolute and strict unity of the will which directs the joint work of hundreds, thousands and tens of thousands of people . . . but how can we secure a strict unity of will? By subjecting the will of thousands to the will of one. - Lenin

Marx wrote often about the "dictatorship of the proletariat" but specifically pointed out that he did not mean a personal dictatorship by any individual, but by the population at large rather than any individual or elite - he derided individuals like Wilhelm Weitling and Lassalle and even Bakunin (because of his vanguardist "Secret Brotherhood" and "Invisible Dictatorship), all of whom sought a dictatorship by an elite or individual, as "Blanquists".

"The emancipation of the working class must be achieved by the working class themselves. We cannot therefore co-operate with people who openly state that the workers are too uneducated to emancipate themselves and must be freed from above by philanthropic persons from the upper and lower middle classes." - Marx

He would have been horrified to see a born aristocrat and lawyer perverting his words to become a personal dictator attacking revolutionaries, imposing wage slavery, and outlawing direct worker control at the point of production.

The problem with revolutions (at that time, at least) is that in order to succeed, they have to make use of ruthless, determined elements to crush the resistance of the ruling classes
Much of Lenin's ruthlessness was directed not at the ruling classes, but against the revolutionaries themselves. Kronstadt is just the most famous episode because it was the final end of the Third Russian Revolution.

Another important factor that seems to have been overlooked: the Kerensky government created after the First Revolution did not end the participation of Russia in the war, which was one of the main demands of the workers and peasants (correct me if I am wrong, but that seems to be my recollection)
Yes, they wanted to end the Czar's offensive against Germany. They did not want to cede Russian territory to Germany as Lenin did when he signed Brest-Litovsk. Brest-Litovsk was widely opposed. Think about it: if fighting the Whites was 'defending the Revolution', then fighting the Germans to maintain the 'freedom' of workers in the territories Lenin signed away would have been as well.Six of one, half a dozen of the other ...
 
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