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Page 468 my book Lenin 1920The dictatorship means unrestrained power and the use of force, not of law Page 120 Yuli MartovLenin has no talent for friendship, he uses people too much Page 138 Alexander Potresovfor Lenin Marxism was not a conviction, but a religion This is truly a highly impressive and readable portrait of the Russian leader who brought dictatorial communism to his country.This will disabuse anyone of the notion that Lenin was a communist Marxist humanitarian He sought Page 468 my book Lenin 1920The dictatorship means unrestrained power and the use of force, not of law Page 120 Yuli MartovLenin has no talent for friendship, he uses people too much Page 138 Alexander Potresovfor Lenin Marxism was not a conviction, but a religion This is truly a highly impressive and readable portrait of the Russian leader who brought dictatorial communism to his country.This will disabuse anyone of the notion that Lenin was a communist Marxist humanitarian He sought power first and foremost He violently oppressed any opposition He organized brigades some under Stalin to remove food from the peasants in the countryside which led to mass starvation Lenin hindered any attempt to aid these starving millions as foreign interference.Page 346 October 1917 Lenin knew that power could slip away at anytime, which explains so much of the seventy four year history of the Soviet Union Lenin s only real concern for the rest of his life after the October Revolution in 1917 was keeping power an obsession he passed down to his successors The regime he created was largely shaped by his personality secretive, suspicious, intolerant, ascetic, intemperate.Lenin himself had little in common with the proletariat even less in common with Russia s massive peasant population He led a petit bourgeois life in exile and did a lot of leisure hiking in the Swiss Alps When he obtained power in 1917 there was little time for relaxation which led to his heart attacks and death in January, 1924 He was a really wound up individual and would fly into fits and rages Interestingly he had a congenial relationship with his family mother and sisters and then with his wife, Nadezhda, and his mistress Inessa Armand this relationship was hidden from the Russian people The women in his life exerted a strong influence and supported him in the communist movement Lenin treated them with respect.The author points out that it is the failed assassination attempt on Lenin in August, 1918 that signalled the beginning of the Lenin cult The cult of the personality then became a common feature of all Communist countries.Lenin applied some of the features of Marxist Communism like the redistribution of wealth much of this was done violently , education for all, and to some extent the emancipation of women there were many women involved in the Russian revolution, it was a woman who attempted to assassinate Lenin in 1918 However, he kept and expanded on many aspects of Czarist Russia No autonomy was given to outlying regions There was a centralization of power, now in Moscow The role of the secret police was expanded, and like during the era of the Czar, no laws restricted it No dissension was tolerated Nadya, Lenin s widow, continued, even after her husband s death to remove dangerous books page 508 ridding Russia s libraries of author s like Kant and Spengler Page 53 54 The Okhrana under the Czar , had draconian powers to detain people without trial and send them to administrative exile in Siberia and the Arctic wastes at any hint of political crimes Its power and scope were unlike anything elsewhere in Europe It became the model for the Cheka, the NKVD and the KGB in the Russia of the future or indeed the FSB of the post Soviet era It invaded the lives of ordinary people.This book is a page turner Russian history is gripping and devastating This book is thorough and clear I am glad I read it Maybe I ought to feel all excited about it, urging others to grab it immediately, but that is just not how I feel The book is interesting, but it never grabbed my heart I never felt I had to know what would happen next Is that because there isn t all that much new information provided There are tidbits about his wife, his longtime mistress and his mother, but I cannot say I got to know any of the women in his life well Vladimyr Ilyich Ul This book is thorough and clear I am glad I read it Maybe I ought to feel all excited about it, urging others to grab it immediately, but that is just not how I feel The book is interesting, but it never grabbed my heart I never felt I had to know what would happen next Is that because there isn t all that much new information provided There are tidbits about his wife, his longtime mistress and his mother, but I cannot say I got to know any of the women in his life well Vladimyr Ilyich Ulyanov 1870 1924 , better known as Lenin, his traits are made very clear His deeds speak, even if we do not get into the man s head.The book starts with the October 1917 coup, probably to immediately grab readers interests Then it backtracks giving information about his family, his roots We learn about his youth, about his older brother Sasha who was hung From this point on, it moves forward chronologically through to his death Both events in his life and the growth of the Bolshevik movement are followed Bloody Sunday of 1905, the February and October Revolutions of 1917, the civil war, the defeat of the White Army, the conflict between the Mensheviks and the Bolsheviks, the rebellion and slaughter of the peasants, the famine years, dramatic changes in directives, new economic policies, efforts against the Orthodox Church, his rages the growth of his fanaticism and the terror he wrought An ideolog willing to do anything for the cause, always believing he knew best and for him always the ends justified the means This book is just as much about Bolshevism and the birth of Communism as it is about Lenin It is equal parts history and biography When appropriate, background information is provided about Marx, about earlier dissent against the aristocracy the Decembrists , Tsar Alexander II abolishment of serfdom in 1861, Tsar Nicholas II s weak reign and overall poor political judgments.It was very interesting to me to see the extent to which women in Russia were involved in politics, both before and after the October Revolution The audiobook is narrated by Jonathan Aris I had difficulty keeping straight some of the Russian names, but I was helped a lot by the accompanying PDF file Therein is found a list of principal characters with a few lines about each There are photos These too I appreciated Maps, notes, a bibliography and acknowledgements are provided Aris narration is at a good speed and easy to follow I have given the narration four stars.So, do I give the book three or four stars I think it is worth four It is to the point, clear and presents what is known today about Lenin, the women most important to him and the birth of Bolshevism That we cannot get into heads of these figures is not the author s fault there is a lack of intimate source material and nobody left to interview.I can also recommend the author s book Revolution 1989 The Fall of the Soviet Empire Four stars for both Victor Sebestyen, through the life of Lenin, has supplied the missing pieces for me to understand the Russian Revolution This may be because Lenin was so central to it, or it may be that Sebestyen writes in clear, organized and engaging prose.Except for the first few pages the book is a chronology Each successive event provides context for the future events The reader is not distracted by great side stories they are in the footnotes or by keeping track of the long Russian names Principal C Victor Sebestyen, through the life of Lenin, has supplied the missing pieces for me to understand the Russian Revolution This may be because Lenin was so central to it, or it may be that Sebestyen writes in clear, organized and engaging prose.Except for the first few pages the book is a chronology Each successive event provides context for the future events The reader is not distracted by great side stories they are in the footnotes or by keeping track of the long Russian names Principal Characters are sketched at the end The book is a smooth engaging read from beginning to end.I ve always wondered how Lenin took the reins after such a long absence and how what I thought was an endorsement of Trotsky resulted in Stalin With thorough research inclusive of newly available material Sebestyen provides clarity on these any other issues For instance The sealed train entry into Russia was clearly sponsored by the Germans as its own ploy to get Russia out of the war, or at least sow chaos into an enemy country The money that went with Lenin on this train must have been a huge sum The number of printing presses the only media of its day active on Lenin s behalf within weeks of his return was staggering As to Lenin s will , Lenin dictated it to wife Nadya In it, he denigrated almost all the Bolsheviks and Stalin the most He gave only faint praise to Trotsky for getting things done and so it was in everyone s interest to keep this buried Upon Lenin s death, Stalin, was in a position to hold the reins The reasons for the Kronstadt Rebellion and how the punishment of the sailors was decided Lenin and carried out Trotsky are made clear in all their sad brutality How the Bolsheviks raised their money the German start up money, robbing banks, marrying unsuspecting heiresses, looting, misrepresenting their cause to wealthy supporters of democracy through which they were able to buy off constituencies, further weakening the already weak provisional government There were a number of surprises and takeaways for me The Bolsheviks were always a minority party even when the Mensheviks meaning minority were a factor.Lenin led a very bourgeoisie life in exile He worked hard and then relaxed Dressing simply, living in cabins, spare rooms or camping, eating at home no fine or even 2 star dining he can seem like any American middle manager on vacation swimming, hiking, hunting and keeping tabs on the office.Lenin s parents, the Ulynov s, were unlikely parents of revolutionaries Could it be that his brother s along with 4 others hanging for an assassination attempt on Alexander III fueled a rage that took on a life of its own Lenin s aggression does not seem to be tied to the ideologies he wrote extensively on and for which he had others sacrifice When things did not work out, he spun words to cover actions that were counter to those ideologies.Lenin s life with Nadya wife and Inessa mistress was known to me, but not so fully as described here Most surprising was Inessa s very public funeral Surprising to a lesser extent was a very ill Lenin taking Stalin to task over his harsh words both these guys are murderers to Nadya.Each chapter is introduced with very apt quotations The very best, at the end is Winston Churchill For the Russians, their worst misfortune was Lenin s birth their next worst, his death This is an excellent read It pulled together for me all the threads and clarified the Russian Revolution and its aftermath Although I ve read quite a bit on this time in history and knew what happened through this book, I finally understand how it happened Lenin The Man, the Dictator, and the Master of Terror by Victor Sebestyen is a biographical look at Vladimir Illyich Ulyanov, or Lenin, the founder of the Soviet Union and a life long communist revolutionary Lenin was born in provincial Russia to a fairly well off family His father worked as a school inspector in the region, and his mother was a Lutheran Christian Both his parents were monarchists and conservatives, and raised their children in the Russian Orthodox Church They were both qui Lenin The Man, the Dictator, and the Master of Terror by Victor Sebestyen is a biographical look at Vladimir Illyich Ulyanov, or Lenin, the founder of the Soviet Union and a life long communist revolutionary Lenin was born in provincial Russia to a fairly well off family His father worked as a school inspector in the region, and his mother was a Lutheran Christian Both his parents were monarchists and conservatives, and raised their children in the Russian Orthodox Church They were both quite progressive in their child rearing, however, and encouraged their children to read voraciously All of their kids turned out to be revolutionaries looking to reform Tsarist Russia into a state, and most supported violent revolutionary groups on the left Lenin became a convinced revolutionary after his older brother was executed for his role in a plot to murder the Tsar of Russia in St Petersburg He began to read Marxist texts at a young age, and became expert in political and economic theory His family was constantly watched by the Okrhana, the Russian police force, which made getting an education difficult for Lenin He was kicked out of upper school a few times for joining Marxist readining groups or participating in strikes and protests He was eventually able to gain a degree in law, and at this time had found his true passion writing revolutionary newspapers and flyers.Lenin would over the years become an adept journalist, and most of his revolutionary career consisted of founding, writing, editing and smuggling newspapers in support of Marxist revolution He began to take greater power in revolutionary circles due to his adept writing skills, and his amatuerish yet effective methods at smuggling print into the Tsarist regime His participation in these fields led to his arrest and exile, first to Siberia, and then abroad, where he would live in Germnay, Switzerland, England and France Sebestyen chronicles these journies his marriage to his wife Nadya, a fellow revolutionary and an adept party organizer she would be his rock throughout his life, and immensley supported him both personally and in his work Lenin had a difficult personality He could be charming and direct, and was excellent and formulating ideas, and presenting and convincing others He was also a strong manager of people, and adept at organizing and managing others He was also opinionated to the extreme, and divisive in how he dealth with rivals He would split from other fellow leftist revolutionaries, like theextremist Socialist Revolutionaries, and thepassive communist Menshiviks He was happy to divide and conquer, and used this tactic to divide the Bolsheviks that he would lead from other communist groups This made him a rival of many influential communists, like Martov for example, but Lenin had no qualms about this He would often berate those he disagreed with, and was harsh with others who presented ideological or tactical ideas that he disagreed with He would often fly into rages at these times, often brought on by stress and overwork Lenin was the stereotypical Communist in many ways Although born well off, he lived most of his life in exile, and in uncomfortable living conditions He had spartan eating habits, worked almost all day, and did not enjoy frivolous activities like plays, entertainment, or drinking He hated smoking, and banned it anywhere near him His one true personal passion was the outdoors He loved to go hiking, exploring and hunting, and was most at home in nature When he flew into one of his rages, his wife would worry about his health, and take him on a vacation into the woods, up the mountains, or down to the beach.Lenin was able to take power in Russia late in his life, and planned and executed his coup d etat very well Tsar Nicholas II, the last Tsar of Russia, was an unpopular autocrat He believed strongly in his divine right as a ruler, and took little pity on his enserfed population Although reforms had been coming along, they were moving too slow to stop the tide of Russians from turning against their emperor Increasing numbers of young Russians in the late 1800 s were turning to extremism and revolutionary movements to try and bring themselves bread, income, land, and just sheer survival An early attempt at insurrection took place in 1905, with Lenin woefully unprepared Lenin began to plan for the next revolution, as the 1905 upheaval was crushed by the Tsar brutally, with thousands of peasants executed by marauding bands of soldiers, and greater autocracy imposed on the population The real catalyst to the overthrow of the Russian Empire, however, was WWI This war destroyed the Russian economy, and the last tatters of support for the Emperor The Tsar was overthrown by a Provisional government run by Kerensky, a charismatic figure with dictatorial ambitions Kerensky set up a multi party chamber, but from the outset despised the Socialists and Communists, and sought to undermine them Lenin did not support the multi party experiment neither did most Russians and actively sought to undermine it This time he was prepared He made sure that the Bolshevik units were organized enough, and when the time was ripe, struck He overthrew the Kerensky administration with an armed coup, and installed the Soviet system provisionally this too was removed after a show of trying it He took power dictatorially, and ruled as an autocrat, much like his two predecessors In power he was ruthless His years as a revolutionary had made him immune to sympathy for his opponents, and he actively encouraged peasant uprisings and lawlessness to ensure the destruction of the middle class and aristocratic class He was supported in power by a close group of fellow revolutionaries, who soon took on the trappings of a new aristocracy Lenin was much loved and feared by the general population, as the Tsar had been, but was skilled at building his state Russia, at this time 1917 onward was in chaos Years of war against Germany had destroyed its economy, and demoralized its army Millions of Russians were dead or captured, and much of the Western portions of the Empire were lost to independence movements Lenin immediately ended the war with Germany, ceding territories in 1917 although this cessestion was reversed after Germany s defeat in the West He focused on the destruction of the landed class, appropriating religious properties, and eliminating rival groups for power, including the White Russian forces, the right wing nationalist Kadet s, and rival leftist parties Millions of Russians fled the country for exile, and thousands were killed by these competing factions in brutal pogroms and crackdowns Lenin initiated the Polish Soviet war of 1919 in order to regain lost territories and progress the global communist movement This war did not achieve its aim to eliminate Poland, as the Russian army was quite weak at this point However, it did succeed in taking small amounts of Polish territory, and led to the eventual merger of the Soviet and Ukrainian SSR s in 1922 Lenin also enjoyed playing off his subordinates The famous example is the emergence of the Trotsky Stalin rivalry that ended with Stalin taking power following Lenin s death Lenin survived numerous assassination attempts in power, including one in 1919 where he was shot through the neck This coupled with his legendary work ethic led to deteriorating health He began to suffer strokes in the 1920 s, and eventually succumbed to his third stroke in 1924 Against his express wishes, he became an icon of the Soviet Union, and was entombed in an elaborate mausoleum viewable by the public to this day Lenin s legacy in the Soviet Union was massive His autocratic style of rule, his personality cult, his politics and his ambitions were all passed along to his successors The Soviet Union was characterized by its brutal drive for efficiency, its autocratic rule, and was plagued by corruption due to its Nomenklatura system of staffing This style of rule was exported globally, with similar characters emerging in China Mao and North Korea the Kim family To this day, Lenin is a revered and controversial figure He was brutal, cold and calculating, but also driven, intelligent, and passionate about removing the landed aristocracy from power in Russia He was a devoted Marxist, but his realpolitik streak would see the Marxism he espoused become its own form of political theory Leninism Stalinism which was characterized by communist collectivization, totalitarian style rule, and autocratic personal leadership His system would spark imitations throughout the world, with much of Asia and Europe adopting Communist style governments not always through Soviet expansion This rival system would only collapse in the 90 s, but remnants remain in North Korea, and increasingly again in China Sebestyen has written a very detailed and interesting account of Vladimir Lenin His life is well documented and sourced, his movements tracked to great detail, and his politics and thought processes recorded The book examines his life and those of his close confidants while building a picture of the birth of Communism in Russia and the creation of the USSR This was a great biography, marred only by a few issues regarding tangents and off topic comments in some sections of the book Other than this small criticism, this is a biography I would recommend to anyone interested in readingabout Lenin Mr Sebestyen has produced the most interesting and readable of biographies of Lenin His main focus is on his subject s personal life, with surprising detail on his family This is also the only biography to go in to detail about Lenin s relationship with Inessa Armand The author, of course, deals with Lenin s political ideas and their evolution over time, especially when a means to grab power was in sight My favourite book of the year so far. How could this obstinate little manever have become so important Stefan ZweigThe first time I saw a statue of Lenin in person was in early 2012, near the university in Kyiv The next time was a few months later in Donetsk, in east Ukraine, on a walk with my friend Paul, who lived there at the time Lenin was facing away from a nearby McDonald s, as if he can t bear to look , Paul joked The statue in Donetsk is most likely no longer standing, like many of that city s structures, and I kn How could this obstinate little manever have become so important Stefan ZweigThe first time I saw a statue of Lenin in person was in early 2012, near the university in Kyiv The next time was a few months later in Donetsk, in east Ukraine, on a walk with my friend Paul, who lived there at the time Lenin was facing away from a nearby McDonald s, as if he can t bear to look , Paul joked The statue in Donetsk is most likely no longer standing, like many of that city s structures, and I know for sure that the one I saw in Kyiv is no longer standing, because, well, the residents of the city decided that they didn t want it there any, around the same time they decided the same thing about their venal and autocratic president In Russia, however, there are still statues and images of Lenin everywhere, as well as, almost 100 years after his death, his preserved body in Red Square unless you believe that it s not even him , as a Russian co worker told me with conviction at lunch recently , a symbol ofwhat, exactly Vladimir Ilyich Ulyanov, later known as Lenin, was born in 1870 in Simbirsk, about 900 km southeast of Moscow I m disturbed to report that I found the young Lenin sympathetic While he was a teenager, his father, older brother and older sister all died within the span of a few years although to be specific, his brother Sasha was executed for having conspired in an attempt to assassinate Tsar Alexander III Lenin committed himself to studying and graduated at the top of his class, becoming the driven and resolute kind of person so easy for irresolute people like me to admire But he was not allowed to attend Russia s most prestigious universities in either St Petersburg or Moscow, in the eyes of the law guilty by association with his brother, and ended up enrolling in university in Kazan, from which he was expelled after about a semester for joining a dissident student movement although he was not, it seems, one of the ringleaders He went home to Simbirsk, but remained active in nascent revolutionary circles Whenever two Russians come together , Conrad wrote in his 1911 novel Under Western Eyes, the shadow of autocracy is with them, haunting the secrets of their silences Conrad s novel is far from a pean to revolution, but it nevertheless left me with a vivid impression of the oppressiveness of Russia under the Romanovs, particularly during the reign of Nicholas II, and of the seeming omniscience of his secret police, the Okhrana now a name that describes fairly benign security guards who monitor schools and administrative buildings throughout Russia, by the way And yes, as Sebestyen notes, Russian people under Nicholas II were not free , even by the standards of the day You really could get senttoSiberia, like, literally, for reading or writing the wrong book or article, or for expressing the wrong opinion to the wrong person In a country where it can almost seem that the natural environment has been designed for punishment, one s fate in the early twentieth century depended on a variety of factors that are not entirely clear to me It certainly didn t help to be Jewish And yet the Bolsheviks would make Russia under Nicholas II look like a Kindergarten picnic Lenin, after being arrested for writing and distributing subversive literature, seems to have gotten off fairly easily, for whatever reason he was sent to a town called Shushenskoye, known as the Italy of Siberia , where the climate was relatively moderate and he lived with his wife Nadezhda and his mother in law According to Sebestyen, Lenin spent most of his time there hunting, swimming, taking long walks, and translating European socialist writers into Russian He could send and receive mail, and even played long distance chess with professional players throughout Russia Nadezhda later expressed regret at having to leave Maybe I missed something in my reading, but it didn t even seem to me that Lenin had to do, you know, forced labor or anything like that Nor was he tortured or starved In other words, it was not the Gulag.It s not difficult to understand what made Lenin a compelling and formidable figure He was intelligent and erudite, and could laugh at himself He was an ideologue, but he could be pragmatic and extemporaneous when necessary When he tells Trotsky things like, in six months time, we will be in power or swinging from the gallows , one senses that he relishes both possibilities about equally His intelligence was combined with a level of coarseness his opponents were pieces of shit , treasonous scoundrels and cunts that made him unpleasant and difficult to debate against He also combined an unwavering conviction in his rightness with an unwavering conviction that everything he did was for others, the workers and the peasants even if it eventually turned out that he had to kill them People like this are compelling They don t insult your intelligence, and the strength of their conviction seems to offer the resoluteness that you, as a diffident semblance of a real person, have always lacked Their notion of self sacrifice allows you to see the trials of your own life in the most charitable possible terms And their viciousness towards opponents satisfies one s repressed aggressiveness, while binding you closer to them You don t become friends with people like this you become enlisted, recruited, because they always have a causeand then you either become bound to them as Trotsky expressed clearly in his rationale for the murder of Nicholas II and his family it needed to be clear to all Bolsheviks that there was no turning back or you become an apostate But even relatively early in life, there were indications that Lenin s commitment to the ends made him indifferent to the means, and indifferent to the loss of human life It apparently never occurred to him that inhumane means could eventually render the aims unachievable A paradise brought into being by the suffering of even one innocent not to mention millions isn t a paradise, to paraphrase Ivan Karamazovbut it seems Lenin hated Dostoevsky In 1891 1892, when the Volga region was afflicted by a famine that killed hundreds of thousands, writers like Chekhov and Lev Tolstoy organized relief efforts Lenin s only reaction was that the starvation of peasants was desirable, as a means of mass radicalization against the regime About 30 years later, he would again see in mass famine an opportunity, using an even greater one brought about in part by the Bolshevik policy of grain requisitioning as a pretext to launch his attack on the Orthodox Church One of the problems with revolutions is that you never know what you re going to get As Conrad wrote, in Under Western Eyes, in a real revolution the best characters do not come to the front A violent revolution falls into the hands of narrow minded fanatics and of tyrannical hypocrites at firstsuch are the chiefs and the leaders The scrupulous and the just, the noble, humane, and devoted naturesmay begin a movement but it passes away from them They are not the leaders of a revolution They are its victimsThroughout this biography, Sebestyen subtly but firmly insists on his subject s historical continuity with both Russia s Tsarist past and its present In this view, Lenin and the Bolsheviks were anomalous in Russian history only due to the patina of Marxism and atheism but in the most essential aspects of rule, they were not anomalous at all Lenin, on his second day in power, began to censor the press, while his wife Nadezhda set about purging libraries of such writers as Descartes, Kant, Schopenhauer and William James we learn that Lenin hated Dostoevsky for being grossly, dangerously reactionary , as well as totally vile , but I can t help wondering if he ever read Besy Demons, whose main character is a Lenin like conspiratorial leader whom Dostoevsky based on Sergei Nechaevthe nihilist and revolutionary who, in turn, was a great influence on Lenin policies that wouldn t have seemed unusual under Nicholas II Lenin established a secret police apparatus, the Cheka, who, though they werebrutal, based their methods on the Tsar s Okhrana and later became the NKVD and then the KGB He used terror and starvation against political opponents A cult of personality was established around him, which he professed to dislike, but never took pains to prevent After the attempt on Lenin s life, Zinoviev, Sebestyen writes, supposedly an atheistcompared Lenin to Jesus Christ and said he was leader by the Grace of God as Orthodox priests had referred to the Tsars Talking recently with someone who grew up in the Soviet Union, I asked what her teachers had said about the February Revolution She didn t seem to know what I was referring to, which I guess answered my question Finally, she said, oh, you mean 1905 But no, I meant February, 1917 or March, by the modern calendar It s sad to think that for a few months in Russia, it must have seemed as though anything was possible and how quickly and completely the promise of those months was eradicated As Sebestyen writes, Overnight the February Revolution had brought political freedoms never before known in Russia and hardly ever since People could say, write and read what they wanted, something they could not do a year later nor their great grandchildren a hundred years later.In the days leading up to November 7th of last year, the 100th anniversary of the Bolshevik Revolution, I read a few articles that attempted to explain why the current Russian government was not treating the event withfanfare It was pointed out that, well, Lenin was a revolutionary after all, he brought down the state, and that s not the kind of thing that any government wants its people taking to heart But on the other hand, Lenin fits comfortably into the historical narrative of modern Russia s leadership As Sebestyen puts it, The clear signal in preserving Lenin s tomb is to show historical continuity, the idea that Russia still needs as it has always needed a dominant, ruthless, autocratic leader, a boss, in Russian, the Vozhd.This is what makes Lenin s life a tragedy that he insured the continuance of the injustice he claimed to have been fighting against all his life, and in fact made things much worse And this is even before we consider what Sebestyen, and it s hard to argue, calls Lenin s greatest sin leaving a man like Stalin in position to take charge of the country I should imagine that a person of Lenin s legacy deserves a multi volume, exhaustive biography Robert A Caro, Irwin F Gellman, Edmund Morris, and Arthur Schlesinger Jr have all written magisterial biographies about American presidents Add these to the two volumes by Stephen Kotkin,Stalin Waiting for Hitler 1929 1941next on my reading list Volume II only takes us to 1941 , and one appreciates definitive stories based on the latest available records This is not that type of biograp I should imagine that a person of Lenin s legacy deserves a multi volume, exhaustive biography Robert A Caro, Irwin F Gellman, Edmund Morris, and Arthur Schlesinger Jr have all written magisterial biographies about American presidents Add these to the two volumes by Stephen Kotkin,Stalin Waiting for Hitler 1929 1941next on my reading list Volume II only takes us to 1941 , and one appreciates definitive stories based on the latest available records This is not that type of biography.Sebestyen s goal is to correct the distortions and outright lies about Lenin s life that have been propagated by communists and anti communists alike Much of his source material comes from recently opened Soviet archives, and he has done a yeoman s job is piecing together the puzzles For this he deserves credit Unlike the other authors mentioned above, however, Sebestyen stays focused on his subject at the expense of contextual materials that might permit a fuller appreciation of Lenin And the problem with that is, at least before the Bolshevik coup in 1917, Lenin was a pretty boring guy who led a mostly boring life, hiding out and living on the lam.Before the coup, Lenin was a coward, liar, bully, cheat, unscrupulous and hysterical megalomaniac who openly cheated on his wife After the coup, he didn t change much He never attempted much less achieved any heroic or dramatic adventures in his pre coup life He had nothing to do with the 1905 revolution or the February 1917 revolution for that matter he was surprised and unprepared for both His literary accomplishments were rubbish, if prolific not only have competent social scientists including other neo Marxists debunked his theories, but he abandoned almost all of them once he became Soviet dictator Thereafter, he controlled a vicious secret police that waged terror against other socialists, workers, and peasants, even butchering the Kronstadt sailors who arguably put him and the Bolsheviks in power in the first place Evil doesn t begin to capture the fulsomeness of this most repugnant dictator There are no protagonists in his story.Sebestyen tries to put to rest some of the lingering historical questions about V.I., as his friends called him Did he collaborate with the German military Yes, although their goals were the same defeat Tsarist Russia The infamous sealed train trip was not secret and raised howls of angry protests from Socialists across Europe, including his Bolshevik supporters The Germans bankrolled Pravda in 1917, which made Lenin a household name in Russia, and then bilked Russia out of its best territory at Brest Litovsk Almost to a man, the Bolshevik leadership denounced the peace agreement even Stalin, at first and questioned Lenin s loyalty to Russia The treaty was nevertheless accepted at Lenin s insistence If the guy wasn t a willing German agent, his behavior was indistinguishable from somebody who was.Did Lenin order the assassination of the Tsar and his family Almost certainly, although Sebestyen notes that Lenin was too clever to leave his fingerprints on the damning documentation Did Lenin order the calamitous Soviet invasion of Poland in 1920 Yes Did Lenin order the use of poison gas against the Whites in 1918 and revolting peasants in 1921 Absolutely Did Lenin repeatedly order shooting anybody who stood in the way of the Bolshevik Party Pretty much.There is nothing whatsoever heroic about the subject of this otherwise well written biography If you want to be depressed, this is the book for you For many years historians have laid the blame for the oppressive and authoritarian regime that took root in Russia following its revolution on Joseph Stalin Names like NKVD, GPU or banishment to Siberia, political purges were all associated with the Russian dictator However, the credit for the darkness that pervaded the former Soviet Union first must rest at the feet of Vladimir I Lenin In 1973 Alexsandr S Solzhenitsyn published the first volume of his GULAG ARCHIPELAGO, and the famous Russ For many years historians have laid the blame for the oppressive and authoritarian regime that took root in Russia following its revolution on Joseph Stalin Names like NKVD, GPU or banishment to Siberia, political purges were all associated with the Russian dictator However, the credit for the darkness that pervaded the former Soviet Union first must rest at the feet of Vladimir I Lenin In 1973 Alexsandr S Solzhenitsyn published the first volume of his GULAG ARCHIPELAGO, and the famous Russian dissident argued that the origin of Soviet terror and the police state belong to Lenin This argument has been accepted by historians and in the latest biography of Lenin since Robert Service s excellent monograph, Victor Sebestyen s LENIN THE MAN, THE DICTATOR, AND THE MASTER OF TERROR has taken that argument to a new level According to Sebestyen, in his quest for power, Lenin promised people anything and everything He offered simple solutions to complex problems He lied unashamedly He identified a scapegoat he could label enemies of the people He justified himself on the basis that winning meant everything..Lenin was the godfather of what commentators a century after his time call post truth politics Anyone who has paid attention to our current political climate can easily recognize practitioners of this authoritarian approach.Lenin s greatest crime aside from creating the precursor of the NKVD, the Cheka or the Soviet secret police, is leaving a man like Stalin to assume the leadership of the Soviet Union upon his passing in 1924 Lenin built a system that rested on the concept that political terror against any opposition was justified for the greater good It was perfected by Stalin, but the ideas were Lenin s Sebestyen s approach to his subject is a very personal one and he explores a number of issues in greater depth than previous books He delves deep into the relationship between Nadezhda K Krupskaya, Lenin s wife who was vital to her husband and the revolution She was in charge of regulating his explosive temper and at times erratic behavior Her role was to maintain his health and be a sounding board for his ideas and writing Next, the author explores Lenin s relationship with his long time mistress, Inessa Armand For ten years before Lenin died they had an on off love affair She was central to his emotional life, one of his closest aides, and was one of the best known female socialists of her era The three, Lenin, Nadya, and Inessa formed a m nage etois that was accepted by the women involved who had their own strong relationship.Further, what separates Sebestyen s approach from others is how he constantly reaffirms that the tactics and system developed by Lenin dominated Soviet rule until 1989, and has reasserted itself in the last decade Lenin s leadership traits seemed to have been handed down in succession from Stalin, in particular to Vladimir Putin Lenin set up the Cheka and over the decades be it the GPU, NKVD, KGB or currently the FSB its purpose did not change protect the Party and its leadership from any perceived threat of subversion and to dispense revolutionary justice Not long ago Steve Bannon stated that Lenin wanted to destroy the state, and that s my goal too The concept of deconstructing government that forms the core of Bannon s political agenda rings very closely to that of Lenin The parallels are clear and in Lenin s case, underneath the superficial sophistication and personal charm he periodically put on display, he was capable of acts of appalling evil Whether his approval of the use of firing squads to eliminate the opposition soon after coming to power the winter of 1917 1918, or his attitude toward the death of Russian soldiers against the Germans, his refusal to distribute land to peasants as promised and the creation of the Kulak class of land owners who he destroyed, the mass starvation that took place, and Lenin s response to this terror, were all sacrifices that were acceptable in order to achieve the larger goals of gaining and maintaining power Sebestyen effectively reviews the spreading of revolutionary fervor in Russia among the bourgeoisie dating back to the Decembrist uprisings of 1825, the assassination of Alexander II, and the arrival of Marxism The Marxist ideology did not really apply to Russia because of its peasant economy and majority Lenin, brilliantly argued that Russia did not need to have an Industrial Revolution based on the working class as Marx argued, but could redefine Russian needs and developed through many books and pamphlets the justification of a revolution based on the peasantry It is interesting to note that Lenin had no great respect for the working classes who he proposed to make the revolution before turning to the peasants.Early on Lenin was radicalized by the Tsarist police s murder of his brother Alexander Sasha From that point on he would work to overthrow the Tsarist monarchy Though he was brought up in a bourgeois family and periodically lived on estates Lenin had nothing but disdain for the Romanov dynasty Sebestyen s analysis of Lenin s personality, the courtship of Nadya, life in exile, be it Siberia, London, Paris, Geneva, the creation of the Bolshevik party, the role of Germany, the revolution itself and the years following may be well known, but the author s insights, sources, and analysis separate his monograph from others.Sebestyen s examination of the role of newspapers in the revolution is important as he explains how the creation of Pravda and other outlets allowed Lenin to write editorials, and articles, and through a wide circulation was able to disseminate his ideas Lenin had the ability to correct others and have them adopt his views as if they were his own, and the ability to inspire optimism and these traits enabled him to disarm the opposition and rally support among the masses The use of newspapers, apart from Tsarist incompetence was major factor in creating the conditions for revolution The author pays a great deal of attention to fighting within the parties and the development of a between Bolsheviks and Mensheviks The arguments between the factions were intense and brutal as Lenin did not suffer fools gladly when people disagreed with him Sebestyen also does a good job describing Nicholas II s personality and reign The Tsar was a weak individual who was not cut out to sit on the Romanov throne It is no exaggeration to say that every major decision Nicholas II took was wrong from the choice of a wife, Alexandra, who compounded his own misjudgments, to his disastrous decisions on war and peace It is fair to say that the Tsar did the most service in the cause of revolution Lenin believed from 1900 on that a war between the capitalist countries was inevitable When it finally came Russia was totally unprepared for a war of attrition Within two months 1.2 million men were killed, wounded, or missing This is a small sample of the disaster that would follow and led to the February abdication of the Tsar in favor of the Kerensky government and the final elevation of Lenin to power in October, 1917 Sebestyen drills down deeply in presenting Lenin s strategy and ability to overcome many obstacles as the revolution approached Once it did his willingness to work with the Germans to travel to Russia is brilliant as is his ability to overcome the opposition of Party members The chapters entitled The Sealed Train, and To Finland Station are emblematic of Sebestyen s assiduous research and master of historical detail as he describes the negotiations, reactions to the agreement with the Kaiser s government, and its reception in Russia Sebestyen s ability to integrate analysis into the flow of the narrative is an important aspect of his writing Another important component of Sebestyen s style is the use of notes at the bottom of each page which are also a fountain of historical information and analysis.It is clear that once the revolution took place Lenin laid the groundwork to rule by terror He was under no allusions when it came to the exercising of power to remain in control of the state Lenin s arguments and promises to the masses and his political opposition immediately went by the wayside as he closed down press outlets, purged those who disagreed, set up the Cheka, and justified his actions to prevent counter revolution At the Third Congress of the Comintern in 1921, Lenin argued that We do not promise any freedom, or any democracy, he did not disappoint and neither did his successor, Joseph Stalin.The major figures of this period of Russian history are all presented, examined, and placed in their historical context Whether Sebestyen is writing about Leon Trotsky, Georgy Plekhanov, Yuli Martov, Lev Kamenev, Grigory Zinoviev, Yakov Sverdlov, Maxim Gorky, Nicholas II, Alexander Helphand Parvus , a number of foreign diplomats and journalists, Joseph Stalin, and of course his wife and mistress we have a balanced account that lends to a greater understanding of the material presented Lenin is the key figure as he created the basis for a one man tyranny The terror that evolved was systematic and was not Stalin s creation.A key to authoritarian rule was the creation of a cult of personality Stalin was an expert, Mao took it to even greater heights, but Lenin was the first After an assassination attempt where he was wounded three times, a cult of Lenin would emerge as he had survived This cult was used to rally support and further the Leninist agenda The scholar Robert Service writes that the forced labor camps, the one party state the prohibition of free and popular elections, the ban on internal party dissent not one of them was to be invented by Stalin Not for nothing did Stalin call himself Lenin s disciple But why blame Lenin and Stalin, the foundation and structure of the Russian police state had been established by Nicholas I in the 1820s This is the theme of Sebestyen s new biography of Lenin which is sure to become one of the standard works of one of the most important figures of the 20th century Joffe, Joseph, The First Totalitarian, NEW YORK TIMES, October 19, 2017 (Read Book) ä Lenin: The Man, the Dictator, and the Master of Terror Þ Victor Sebestyen s riveting biography of Vladimir Ilyich Lenin the first major biography in English in nearly two decades is not only a political examination of one of the most important historical figures of the twentieth century but also a fascinating portrait of Lenin the manBrought up in comfort and with a passion for hunting and fishing, chess, and the English classics, Lenin was radicalized after the execution of his brother inSebestyen traces the story from Lenin s early years to his long exile in Europe and return to Petrograd into lead the first Communist revolution in history Uniquely, Sebestyen has discovered that throughout Lenin s life his closest relationships were with his mother, his sisters, his wife, and his mistress The long suppressed story told here of the love triangle that Lenin had with his wife, Nadezhda Krupskaya, and his beautiful, married mistress and comrade, Inessa Armand, reveals a complicated character than that of the coldly one dimensional leader of the Bolshevik RevolutionWith Lenin s personal papers and those of other leading political figures now available, Sebestyen gives is new details that bring to life the dramatic and gripping story of how Lenin seized power in a coup and ran his revolutionary state The product of a violent, tyrannical, and corrupt Russia, he chillingly authorized the deaths of thousands of people and created a system based on the idea that political terror against opponents was justified for a greater ideal An old comrade what had once admired him said that Lenin desired the good but created evil This included his invention of Stalin, who would take Lenin s system of the gulag and the secret police to horrifying new heightsIn Lenin, Victor Sebestyen has written a brilliant portrait of this dictator as a complex and ruthless figure, and he also brings to light important new revelations about the Russian Revolution, a pivotal point in modern history When we think of the Soviet Union, we mostly think of it as a fully realized totalitarian state We think of Stalin, of World War II and of the Cold War Lenin is a shadowy figure to most of us, usually lumped in with the chaos that preceded and surrounded the Russian Revolution As a result, biographies of Stalin and histories of the Cold War are a dime a dozen, but there are few objective biographies of Lenin Lenin, though, was the true author of Soviet totalitarianism, and,importantly, When we think of the Soviet Union, we mostly think of it as a fully realized totalitarian state We think of Stalin, of World War II and of the Cold War Lenin is a shadowy figure to most of us, usually lumped in with the chaos that preceded and surrounded the Russian Revolution As a result, biographies of Stalin and histories of the Cold War are a dime a dozen, but there are few objective biographies of Lenin Lenin, though, was the true author of Soviet totalitarianism, and,importantly, he, and he alone, was the indispensable man to the creation of Communism as a realized state, even if he did not live to see it His life, therefore, is important, in that it illuminates history, and also in that it provides, in some ways, an instruction book for those seeking change today.You would think I, at least, would knowabout Lenin that I do My father was a professor of Russian history, my mother s family fled Communist domination in 1945, and I grew up through the ending stages of the Cold War But really, until I read this book, by Victor Sebestyen, I knew very little, other than that Lenin was the fulcrum around which Communism turned from a mere extremist ideology of babblers and dreamers to an iron hand that nearly crushed the world And also that his body was, oddly, still embalmed and on display twenty five years after Communism itself died Sebestyen s book does an excellent job of covering Lenin s life, in highly readable prose and without getting too bogged down in details This book also has the advantage of being written after many archives were opened following the fall of Communism Although those archives didn t change the major outlines of Lenin s life and career, Sebestyen adds quite a bit of personal flavor about Lenin that was missing until those archives became available, especially regarding his irregular relationship with his quasi mistress, Inessa Armand.I find myself finding Lenin strangely attractive, in these latter days, when everything old is new again Not his goals, which are silly and pernicious, or his fanatical devotion to an ideology, which, no matter the ideology, is always a mistake But his discipline and his methods of acquiring power show a purity and consistency of purpose which is totally lacking among conservatives today, who instead spend their days on the disorganized defensive, and he always demonstrated a grasp of reality which is totally lacking among progressives today Lenin also loathed modern art, and always dressed nattily, both to his credit I don t think I ll be putting up a portrait of Lenin anytime soon, or ever, but after reading this book, I am beginning to think his personality and methods will reward close study although, as with Milton s Satan, one must be on his guard not to be seduced.Pre Revolutionary Russia seems very far away from us Poor, corrupt, and intensely authoritarian, wracked by violence on a scale incomprehensible to us tens of thousands of government officials were assassinated in the last few years of the Romanovs rule, and then there was the whole World War I thing , it is difficult at first to see many parallels to our time Still, there arethan a few, and even where there are no parallels, there may still be lessons Sebestyen agrees, citing the loss, then as now, of confidence in much of the West in the democratic process itself, Lenin would very probably have regarded the world of 2017 as being on the cusp of a revolutionary moment The phrases global elite , and the 1 per cent are now used in a decidedly Leninist way It is unlikely that Lenin s solutions will be adopted anywhere again But his questions are constantly being asked today, and may be answered by equally bloody methods Lenin that is, Vladimir Ulyanov, his real name was born in 1870 and died in 1924, at only 53 He was born in Simbirsk, a sleepy provincial town, to bourgeois parents his father was a successful civil servant in the education ministry, a moderate liberal whose attempts at education reform were largely frustrated by the 1881 accession of Alexander III whoselenient predecessor was assassinated Lenin s father died in in 1886, when Lenin was only 16, and the following year, his brilliant and idolized older brother, Sasha, was hanged for his role in an assassination plot against the new Tsar This, along with the social isolation that descended as a result on the family, gave Lenin a lifelong hatred of the Tsars and the bourgeois, before he became a Marxist ideologue I suppose this is yet another example of how personal events often shape great men, from Alexander Hamilton s illegitimate birth on Nevis to Donald Trump s poverty wracked upbringing in Appalachia.Lenin s education was somewhat irregular, since he was denied the usual university placements due to his brother s politics, and due to his own, which quickly became radical, although he was not a leader of any groups at this time Still, he managed to become highly educated, while being formed by books like Nikolai Chernyshevsky s What Is to Be Done , a strident work of fiction about an iron willed revolutionary, which Sebestyen says is nearly unreadable today but which greatly affected Lenin, who consciously modelled himself on the book s hero Not that he completely ignored pleasures his greatest was nature, especially walks in nature It is strange in these days of constant connectivity to read how Lenin, even at busy and critical times in his life, would take multi week vacations in the country, doing nothing and being functionally unreachable by other Bolsheviks Naturally, he practiced as a lawyer for some time successfully getting the necessary certificate of loyalty and good character from the Okhrana, the cruel but buffoonish Tsarist secret police, in 1891 , but quickly became a full time Communist agitator, a job he kept for the rest of his life.Unlike most cult leaders, Lenin lacked interest in vices of the flesh He was not corruptible by money, women, or, really, power He didn t smoke or party His forte was discipline and focus No doubt connected to this, from the beginning Lenin betrayed zero human sympathy beyond his immediate family circle In 1892 he opposed famine relief in the Volga, because the famine was desirable to show that capitalism was incompetent and dying never mind that thousands of peasants were dying too This well illustrates ones of Lenin s guiding principles, that Our morality is new, our humanity is absolute, for it rests on the ideal of destroying all oppression and coercion As Ryszard Legutko has pointed out, there is a very significant overlap of theory and practice among so called liberal democracy and Communism, and one reason Communists were never punished is that the liberal democrats currently in control of most of the West had muchsympathy for Communism than for traditional currents of thought More broadly, across the West today, any action, however damaging to real human beings, is justified by the Left by a call to emancipation, identical to Lenin s, with the same disregard for actual people Certainly, the Left would love to take advantage of a famine or any human disaster even now, if it could be tied to increased emancipation Their disinterest in the epidemics of opioid addiction, dependency, and despair afflicting the deplorable, Trump voting white lower classes is evidence enough of that If they could cause a famine among those people, they would, and laugh.Much of the book is taken up with narration of Lenin s combat with other elements of the Left, tied to a never ending whirl of conspiratorial international meetings, avoidance of arrest by various police forces, struggles for control of newspapers, and hard work to smuggle into Russia and distribute those newspapers Those newspapers had a great effect within Russia and gave the Bolsheviks much of the power they accumulated Such media not only sways opinion, but can create opinion from whole cloth, and also provide readers with a sense of comradeship and non isolation, which is why today s Left so aggressively and increasingly censors conservatives online Naturally, Lenin was eventually arrested, and as was usual under the Tsars, merely sentenced to a few years of internal exile, which he used to study hard As Sebestyen notes, The Tsarist penal regime was farbenign for political prisoners than it would be in later years under the Soviets, where torture and summary execution were the norm Not that it was all fun and games plenty of people died as a result under the Tsars, especially those exiled to less salubrious places than Lenin was Eventually Lenin left Russia, moving to Germany, then England, then Switzerland, all the while continuing revolutionary activities He worked incessantly, primarily on writing, both journalism and books As always, he stayed focused Most of all, he consistently offered a simple message of optimism and hope He told his followers that they could change the world in the here and now, if they followed a set of essentially easy to comprehend steps and believed in a few fairly straightforward propositions Along the way Lenin collected various followers and allies most of whom he later broke with , from Leon Trotsky to Grigory Zinoviev Sebestyen covers all this with verve, adding bits and pieces of interesting information For example, I did not know that that suffragette Sylvia Pankhurst, lionized today, was a Communist, and a vicious one at that.And, then, came Lenin s moment, created by World War I and the incompetence of Nicholas II whom Sebestyen regards with very strong distaste for his ineptitude The economic collapse and dissatisfaction of the masses of peasant soldiers created the conditions without which the Bolsheviks would never have had the chance to grasp power not that the soldiers had any interest whatsoever in Bolshevism what they wanted was anarchistic freedom, and Lenin had that on offer, or so it appeared But they, in the person of Lenin, did have that chance, and they grasped it Not to overthrow the Tsar, as many ill informed people think, but to overthrow the democratic successor government, in a coup vividly covered by Sebestyen, which succeeded even though its imminence was the worst kept secret in Russia and it was incompetently executed.It is a commonplace that the Kerensky government was run by fools, and that is very evident in the account given here They responded, when the British offered to stop Lenin from returning on the sealed train provided by the Germans, that since Russia s new government rested on a democratic foundation Lenin s group should be allowed to enter And rather than seizing Lenin when he arrived, killing him and throwing his body into a canal, as had been done with Rasputin and should have been done with him, they dithered They did not know their enemy This is not surprising, though As history repeatedly shows, the vast majority of those who are threatened by bad people in any way, rather than meeting the threat with action, prefer to retreat into half , or quarter , measures, or into fantastical hopes that somehow they will be rescued by an external agency As Benjamin Franklin, and not the Bible, said, The Lord helps those who help themselves But helping themselves is something people usually find hard to do.My main interests in Lenin are two, although they are closely related My first interest is that Lenin shows us how the Left always thinks and operates, then and now, since Lenin first established the template for successful Left dominance Therefore, studying Lenin has tactical value in the wars to come We can closely examine how and why this is so through a particular ideological obsession of the modern Left, which this week has yet again raised its ugly head gun control It is also an obsession of the past Left one of the Bolsheviks first edicts was to confiscate all privately held guns, under penalty of summary execution for failure to comply, something that the odious Shannon Watts and Michael Bloomberg would, if they were being honest, doubtless completely endorse For the Left, gun control is justified not by its demonstrated, or even possible, benefits to society though laughable claims along those lines are mouthed for propaganda purposes Rather, it is justified by its purposes, which are to ensure that the ruled know that they are ruled, to ensure they continue to be ruled, and to signal to the rulers, the Left classes, their supposed moral superiority Gun control is not a policy choice it is the opium of narcissistic tyrants.So, to take one example of Left tactics, Lenin continuously used violent language which, in his own words, was calculated to evoke hatred, aversion, contemptnot to convince, not to correct the mistakes of the opponent, but to destroy him, to wipe him and his organization off the face of the earth Or, as Sebestyen characterizes it, Communist Parties everywhere, even following the collapse of the Soviet Union in the early 1990s, learned that it made sense to play the man, not the ball and how to do it with ruthless efficiency But Sebestyen is wrong it s not Communist Parties, it s also the entire progressive Left, and has been since Lenin whose broad program they have always supported These tactics of hatred, aversion, contempt continue to be on full gruesome display at this very moment in the disgusting, hate filled propaganda campaign being waged by the Left who totally control the news setting media, and thus the narrative, by deciding what constitutes news , to demand mass gun confiscation, in response to school shootings that occur largely because of their social policies The good news, I suppose, is that Lenin was using a new tactic, successful largely because nobody knew how to respond to such tactics either his Left opponents, whom he steamrolled, or his Right opponents We do know how, and that s to hit back twice as hard We just have trouble executing the right tactics, because the Republicans are run by weak men who are happy to bow and scrape to their betters as long as they are thrown a few crumbs and invited occasionally to the right parties.To take a second example, during a 1922 famine, Lenin deliberately used the famine as an excuse to launch an assault on the clergy to seize liturgical vessels and other metals We must seize the valuables now speedily we will be unable to do so later because no other moment except that of desperate hunger will give us support among the masses This use of unrelated, manufactured or fictional crises as the moment of action, whether because the masses are desperately occupied with their own concerns as Rahm Emanuel famously openly admitted under Obama or in order to propagandize the masses by manipulating irrational and immature emotions as with gun control is also a universal tactic of the Left, also largely invented by Lenin Its modern counter is less obvious than the counter to violence in language and action, and probably requires structuring and maintaining permanent and binding organizational brakes on rapid legislative or executive action, the opposite of thedemocracy constantly called for by the Left.And to take a third, closely related but distinct, example, the Left does love themselves a good Reichstag fire The Bolsheviks used a 1918 assassination attempt on Lenin by a non Bolshevik leftist as an excuse to eliminate opponents and generally consolidate their power through a wave of mass terror With gun control, the exact same tactic is used not by killing opponents, or not yet, but by suspending all normal processes of republican debate and decision making, demanding that something must be done naturally, something that aligns perfectly with their pre existing ideological goals and plans, no possible deviation from which can be discussed, much less implemented, and which must be implemented immediately, though no reason for the urgency is given, or can be given, other than the need to impose their desires on the rest of the nation The classic example of this is the repeated use in state legislatures of emergency procedures to pass gun control measures after a shooting, formally eliminating any debate or public input, and demands for similar action at the federal level.So far, so generic, really The modern Left is unscrupulous and often evil, no doubt, but this is not news, and I am being repetitive, if you look at other writings of mine More interesting, I think, is my second interest in Lenin as a model for how a reactionary movement might acquire power in America By definition, nearly, a reactionary movement contemplates a formal concentration and reallocation of power, rather than a formal diffusion, as some conservatives would have it That is, if the Enlightenment project of ever greater autonomy and atomization is defective, and as part of that project the Left has consistently advanced their goal of concentrating power to themselves while pretending to increase democracy that is, allowing democracy as long as it reaches the correct conclusions , breaking both the Left concentration of power and the forms of sprawling, ever expanding democracy is necessary to remake the political system Presumably this would involve some form of restricted franchise and a return to a mixed form of government e.g., returning to the Senate being elected by state legislatures , but the details do not matter here We can simply call it the Program, for now The question is, how is the Program to be accomplished And here Lenin is instructive.I don t mean Lenin in the substance of his ideas, essentially 100% of which were pernicious, and the vast majority of which were outright evil Nor do I mean Lenin in the substance of his implementation, which, flowing from his ideas, necessarily implied and required terror and mass murder Rather, I mean Lenin in his efforts to gain power so that he could implement his program, which is just about 180 degrees from the Program.So, how is Lenin instructive Here, a few thoughts Lenin thought long term, but with an eye to the main chance, which he took when he got it, unlike most men in his position, who would have dithered There are decades when nothing happens and there are weeks when decades happen Timing is all But without his discipline and focus, he would have had no chance at all, willingness to risk everything or not And, while an ideologue, he was willing to be flexible in his interpretation of theory, rather than getting bogged down in debating ideological purity as Communist splinter groups, as well as conservatives, have always been prone to do, while the successful Bolsheviks, like today s Left, paper over differences to achieve power All these practices allowed Lenin to seize opportunities created by chance the mistakes of his enemies We made the Bolsheviks masters of the situation, said Sukhanov, an opponent of Lenin on the Left By leaving the 1917 Congress of Soviets we gave them a monopoly on the Soviets Our own irrational decisions ensured Lenin s victory Yes, but only Lenin s ability to take advantage made the Mensheviks mistakes matter Review finishes as first comment