What’s the Difference Between Lenin and Stalin?
The centenary of his birth; the leader of the world proletariat passes almost unnoticed. Does this mean that Vladimir Lenin is forgotten in Russia??
“April 22, 2020 marks the 150th anniversary of the birth of the Soviet statesman, the creator of the first socialist state in the history, the first chairman of the Council of People’s Commissars Vladimir Ilyich Lenin (Ulyanov)”.
With these words begins the next press release, which is sent by the Presidential Library located in St. Petersburg. Moreover, in recent years, the library’s management prefers not to mention that it bears the name of the first president of the Russian Federation, Boris Yeltsin..
Further, the press release says that a new electronic collection is presented on the library’s portal, which includes the works of the “leader of the world proletariat” and his associates, as well as a variety of studies, archival documents and visual materials.
This is followed by a short genealogy of “Ilyich”, sustained in the spirit of the officialdom of the early 70s of the last century, when the centenary of the birth of “the most humane man” was celebrated. In particular, it says here: “The main person for young Volodya was his elder brother Alexander, one of the founders and leaders of the revolutionary organization“ Narodnaya Volya ”. It was he who became a kind of conductor of ideas, a “guiding star” for his younger brother. ” And a little further: “In the memoirs of his contemporaries, Vladimir Ulyanov is presented as a man of a lively, subtle mind, endowed with unique leadership qualities, a brilliant orator.”.
However, now the hero of the day is presented not as an ideological icon, but rather as a character of mass culture. For example, on some highways in St. Petersburg, outdoor advertising appeared in the style “And Lenin is so young”, where the theme of the subbotnik and the famous “Lenin’s log” is played up. Which is quite in the spirit of the T-shirts fashionable in the 90s, where Lenin’s profile from the pioneer badges was decorated with a punk hairstyle “Mohawk”.
“He was a pragmatic and malicious person.”
The correspondent of the Russian service “Voice of America” asked the researcher of the society “Memorial”, Doctor of Historical Sciences Nikita Petrova comment on whether this is how the real historical image of Lenin is replaced by his glamorous portrait, and at the same time – the heroization of evil?
Nikita Petrov noted that modern Russian propaganda tends to highlight the country’s achievements, albeit at the expense of mass deaths, which is the glorification of evil. “But it’s also a banalization of evil, to use Hannah Arendt’s terminology, when people get used to talking about these sacrifices being necessary for nation-building. After all, Lenin and his era are not only the destruction of the system that existed before 1917, but also the creation of a new, completely misanthropic, special regime, which was built on the foundations of the “Manifesto of the Communist Party.” Of course, neither Lenin himself nor his followers succeeded in fully implementing these propositions. But such points as the elimination of private property, socialization, and especially forced labor, unfortunately, even today do not cause rejection among our population as unacceptable postulates. Moreover, some are ready to say that the Soviet experience ended because we were hindered by external force. Otherwise, we would have proved to everyone that we were right, ”notes Nikita Petrov.
The historian explains the revanchist sentiments existing in a certain part of Russian society by the glorification of evil and a lack of understanding of what principles formed the basis of the Bolshevik doctrine. Moreover, this process, according to Petrov, began long ago: “In the Stalin years there was a joint cult of“ two leaders ”who were inseparable from each other in propaganda. But under Khrushchev, the cult of Stalin was exposed, and he was ousted from the pantheon of revered leaders, he was declared a man who “made mistakes” and dealt with the “Leninist guard”. And the consequence of this was the exaggerated and absurd in its pompousness celebration of the centenary of the birth of Lenin, which happened already in the time of Brezhnev “.
As a result, according to the interlocutor of the Voice of America, Lenin is now perceived by supporters of the leftist idea in Russia as a person in whom everything was right, but whose case was distorted by Stalin. “Although in fact Stalin was a faithful successor of Lenin’s cause, and if he were alive, he would also at some point begin to curtail the NEP. Perhaps he would not have resorted to such radical measures as the Great Terror, although in 1921 he wrote his bloodthirsty notes on how to deal with priests. He was a pragmatic and malicious person. And in this sense, Stalin differs from Lenin only by even greater paranoid malice, “says Nikita Petrov, a research fellow at the Memorial Society..
“For me this is a day of hassle that cannot leave us in any way.”
Head of the Center “Returned Names” at the Russian National Library Anatoly RazumoV. believes that the 150th anniversary of Lenin’s birth, as well as the 140th anniversary of Stalin’s birth, which was celebrated in December last year, are not significant dates. “Well, one boy was born in Simbirsk, and then another boy was born in Gori. Joseph Dzhugashvili wrote poetry in his youth, and, say, Adolf Schicklgruber painted pictures. And Vladimir Ulyanov was a failed lawyer, and then became a furious publicist. And he ended up as an exemplary evil politician. And that is how we evaluate it. He also invented the construction of a kind of “new world”, which began before the construction of the “new order” in Germany. As a result, the politician Lenin did not give peace to the peoples, did not give land to the peasants, did not give factories to the workers, deprived people of the right to life, freedom and memory, “Razumov emphasizes..
The head of the Returned Names center believes that Lenin, as an extreme politician, will always have sympathizers. “Most of these people may even be well educated. And they will not stop propagating Lenin’s ideas. So – the task of civil society is also not to stop in its educational work. In particular, to remind that during the years of the revolution, which was allegedly carried out in the interests of the peasantry, most of the peasants died.
As for the date of April 22, for me this is a day of hassle that cannot leave us in any way. And also – a day of great sadness, great reflections and one more impetus to continue doing your job. You look – more and more people are beginning to understand all this “, – Anatoly Razumov said in an interview with the correspondent of the Russian service” Voice of America “.
The main business of Anatoly Razumov’s own life is the compilation of a multivolume book in memory of the Leningrad Martyrology, which lists the names of the inhabitants of the city on the Neva who were repressed during the Soviet years. “In my works I do not write simply“ The Red Terror ”or“ The Great Terror ”. I personify them. First there was the Red Leninist Terror, and then the Great Stalinist Terror. It is necessary to talk about this, and above all – to the children. Tell them the truth, “Razumov emphasizes..
And he ends his commentary with the words: “For me, as a historian studying Lenin’s and Stalin’s terror, the main date of the year is October 30 – the day of the Soviet political prisoner. On this day, we are gathering at Troitskaya Square in St. Petersburg, beginning with the reading of the names of the Red Leninist terror. These are the hostages who were shot in 1928, the participants of the Kronstadt uprising who were killed in 1921, the participants of the “Tagantsev affair” shot by Nikolai Gumilyov. And after all, what is the symbol of the tragic rupture of that era – the so-called “great grave” in the heart of the country (Lenin’s mausoleum – A.P.) and millions of unknown graves, dead and missing.
I believe that my job is to remember the names of those who died during the years of terror and freely speak what I think about. And we will get rid of the hassle, of course, it’s just a matter of time “.
“Lenin does not delight the current government”
Independent political scientist Dmitry Oreshkin recalls that during the years of Soviet power, Lenin was the main positive historical character who was not subject to criticism. And Stalin was officially accused of “deviating from Lenin’s norms.” “Now the situation is different. Yes, there are still people who believe in Lenin, but their number is decreasing. He is not a mass cult character, he is intended for a sect of definitely thinking people, and this sect is shrinking due to the age factor, “Oreshkin said in a conversation with a correspondent for the Russian service of the Voice of America. And he added that Russian university youth is more interested in Trotsky than Lenin: “In principle, leftist ideas seek and find combustible material for themselves in rather specific sociocultural environments that are sufficiently educated to comprehend terms such as“ proletariat ”and “Bourgeoisie”, but at the same time they are not ready to understand that the idea of a communist future is a fake. Because no one has ever proved that a socialist economy will be more effective than honest property. But there is a negative experience of war communism with monstrous costs for the then Russia “.
According to the political scientist, the figure of the “founder of the first workers ‘and peasants’ state” has much more admirers than in Russia in the countries of the so-called “third world”, mainly in Africa and Latin America. While in Russia there is an increase in the popularity of Joseph Stalin. “Lenin is not being artificially raised on the shield now, but Comrade Stalin is constantly being“ pumped up ”. And I think that if you ask who is more valuable to the party, the homeland and the population, then Stalin will be chosen, of course. And even the authorities are somewhat discrediting Lenin, which, in general, is not difficult, because he was a very selective thug. And here you need to talk about him and write the truth.
But Stalin is a symbol of a rigid vertical of power, he is a symbol of isolationism, which is very important for the current vertical, he is a symbol of the elimination of any opposition, a symbol of unity and solidarity. And, in general, the current Russian government views Stalin as a positive model that should be imitated, and from which you need to learn, ”explains Oreshkin.
And he sums it up: “Lenin seems to me to be rotten and burnt out material. It is not explosive, it is burned out. It does not delight the current government and is not a political map. Now, after all, practically no one reads Lenin, and if you read it, it becomes obvious that this person was not all right with adequacy. But at the same time, he never regretted anything..
So Lenin is not dangerous, and Stalin is very dangerous. No wonder, now in Russia they say: “Under Stalin there were no oligarchs, but there was order, and everyone was equal. Everyone had a job and a sense of confidence in the future. ” All these things – they work. And they won’t say that about Lenin. He is now a somewhat dubious character: it seems that he took money from the German General Staff, he offended the king-father, and he shook the state. And the Putin-KGB people do not like Lenin too much, but Stalin is another matter. And he put things in order, and defeated Hitler, and, in general, raised the state from its knees. “.