Vladimir Ilyich Lenin – In Need of Character Rehabilitation and His Views on Religion

The writings and beliefs of Vladimir Ilyich Lenin (1870-1924) have been distorted and taken out of context by many who have harbored political or other subjective biases and motives. Had Lenin’s beliefs prevailed and a greater in-depth examination of his era been performed, it hidden wiki link is likely history would take a kinder and gentler view of the first Soviet Leader, his real dogma (excluding the 1918-1921 and 1923-1924 periods), and the Bolshevik Revolution itself.

When Lenin led the Russian Revolution, his primary focus was to free people from oppression since he was a strong proponent of Karl Marx (1818-1883) and Friedrich Engels (1820-1895), both of whom believed the ultimate goal of a Socialist revolution was absolute freedom. Tragically as the Bolsheviks attempted to consolidate power in a brutal civil war (that appeared to be going against their favor) and resisted numerous coup attempts, it is likely that Vladimir Lenin – per my proposition based on his words and actions prior to 1918, the Soviet Union’s New Economic Plan (NEP), his strong advocacy for tolerance, his actions from 1918-1921 and in 1923-1924, which contradicted his previous behavior, and historical events from the same period – was reduced to a figurehead leader with little real power.

This is likely for the following reasons:

 

  1. It was important for the Bolsheviks to retain Vladimir Lenin as “leader in name” because of his growing following and influence. Furthermore, a change in leadership after only a year in power would reflect disorganization and disunity, threatening to invalidate the foundations of the Bolshevik Revolution. This may explain why there was a need for Lenin to publicly state at times that he was in “complete control.”
  2. The viewpoints of Josef Stalin (1878-1953), the leader of the hidden coup, who “was not satisfied with an executive position” – per Autopsy for an Empire. by Dmitri Volkogonov (Touchstone, New York, 1999) and commanded the Red Army in lieu of Lenin, Felix Dzerzhinsky (1877-1926), head of the secret police, and Nicholas Bukharin (1888-1938), who declared, “One must rule with iron when one cannot rule with law” prevailed for three years from 1918-1921 when the Red Terror and other wars were waged against various citizens and ethnic groups. Nevertheless, the prevailing rationale remains that Lenin had delegated power since the revelation of the hidden coup could prove damaging to the reputations of many, including Lenin, whose stature and moral standing might be reduced, especially if he voluntarily chose appeasement and accepted a figure-head role to maintain the appearance of being in charge. At this time, especially when caption 6 is considered, this does not appear to be the case.
  3. Tsar Nicholas II (1868-1918) and his family were executed in July 1918 on orders from Yakov Sverdlov (1885-1919) due to fears that the White Army, which was advancing on Ekaterinburg might free them. The executions were carried out despite Lenin’s strong opposition, which was expressed in a telegraph to Ian Karlovich Berzin (1889-1938), a Soviet political-military official. In The Secret Plot to Save the Tsar, (Harper Perennial, New York, 2003) Shay McNeal wrote, “Three telegraph operators at the Ekaterinburg post office were later to tell White Russian investigators that they had witnessed a direct telegraph exchange between Lenin in Moscow and Berzin in Ekaterinburg in which Lenin ‘ordered Berzin to take under his protection the entire Imperial family and not to allow any violence towards them whatsoever; if there was any such violence, Berzin would answer for it with his own life.'” Ultimately Lenin was notified about the execution only after it had taken place and there were no consequences for Berzin.
  4. The Red Army invaded Georgia in February 1921 against Lenin’s orders. Georgian Mensheviks were then purged against the first Soviet leader’s wishes.
  5. Vladimir Lenin was likely under duress when he signed many execution orders and released a prolific number of quotes and writings (which may have been spoken/written by others to advance the troika’s agenda and been attributed to him for their political gain) during the period of the hidden coup. This premise becomes more plausible when the last year of Lenin’s life is discussed in caption 6. However, memories of the May 1887 hanging of Lenin’s brother, Alexander for his alleged role in an assassination plot against Tsar Alexander III (1845-1894) may have also played a role and made it easier for Lenin to accede.
  6. Lenin became a virtual captive to Stalin (who had also disrespected his wife, Nadezhda Krupskaya (1869-1939)), in the final year of the first Soviet leader’s life after he had suffered from three major strokes that appear to have preserved his cognitive abilities while impairing his speech and mobility. Per Kerry Kubilius in Lenin’s Death: The Final Years of this Soviet Leader Were Marked with Illness (Suite 101.com, 5 November 2008), “Conversations between Lenin and his nurses were passed on to Stalin. Lenin was isolated from all politcal news and his control severely limited. Stalin effectively took Lenin’s place during this time period. Lenin caught onto Stalin’s motives too late (and his desire to remove him from power went unheeded with his 1923 Testament being suppressed). Stalin’s surveillance of him, as well as his disrespect for the ailing leader, helped to push Lenin closer to the brink of death.” Had Lenin not died in January 1924, it is likely that the facade of his authority would have been lifted. Per Ms. Krupskaya who addressed opponents of Stalin in 1926, her husband would have already been “in prison” if he had still been alive.
  7. Even when Josef Stalin was officially in power from 1924-1953, his regime was built on deceit and lies. Mass executions and purges were the cornerstone of his rule. Thus it should be no surprise that these same activities were occurring during the hidden coup of which Stalin was the mastermind.
  8. Lenin’s preferred choice, Leon Trotsky (1879-1940) failed to succeed him upon his death. During his “figurehead” rule, Lenin vigorously defended Trotsky against attacks orchestrated by Stalin. Predictably, his efforts were futile. Though Trotsky was permitted to retain several posts, the attacks continued. Following Lenin’s death, Trotsky and Grigory Zinoviev (1883-1936), a former close associate of Lenin until he conspired with Stalin against Trotsky in 1923, were expelled from the Communist Party. Trotsky was ultimately deported from the Soviet Union. Later, ironically in the former’s case after he betrayed Lenin, Zinoviev was executed and Trotsky was assassinated on orders from Stalin.

 

It appears that Lenin was given limited authority (from March 1921-May 1922 when he suffered a stroke) after the White Revolution had been crushed and Georgian invasion completed. With famines surmounting war as the Soviet Union’s most critical concern and the prospect of people turning against the Bolsheviks, a frightening thought to Stalin who harbored ambitions of succeeding Lenin, the first Soviet leader was given real economic authority. He immediately set out to serve the best interests of his people. With renewed vigor, Lenin immediately reversed the repressive policies of the1918-1921 period and replaced them with the New Economic Plan (NEP), a blueprint that relaxed some of the core principles of the Bolshevik Revolution (e.g. abolition of private ventures, profit, etc.) to better address economic realities, which called for such drastic action. Under the NEP, the state retained ownership of critical industries (e.g. banks, large industries, foreign trade) while peasants were allowed to sell produce for a profit (paying a 10% agricultural tax), individuals were permitted to open small businesses, trade unions were given limited freedom, and money was reintroduced with workers again being paid in cash instead of in goods. However, even though the Soviet economy quickly recovered leading to a positive economic transformation, Stalin rescinded the NEP when he officially succeeded Lenin after his death. The results were disastrous greatly besmirching the collective economic/political doctrine of Marx, Engels, and Lenin, which had arisen from noble intentions.

Finally, aside from the negative repressive image that Communism/Socialism has gained due to its hijacking, it is presently and incorrectly labeled as an atheist system. Although Marx, Engels, and Lenin justified religion as an escape for oppressed persons and were focused on creating a “Paradise on Earth,” in which everyone was treated as an equal, they strongly believed in freedom of religion. Tragically the atheist labeling came for two reasons – the hijacking of the Bolshevik Revolution and Lenin’s strong belief in Separation of Church and State, which in reality was no different than the concept that was implemented in the United States in the first amendment, when the country’s constitution was ratified in 1791. In their vilification of Lenin as an atheist, some critics even declared that he had made a god out of himself. These vicious statements are based on the embalmment and placement of his body in a sarcophagus for public view (which was done on the orders of Josef Stalin who had created and promoted a Lenin-centric cult to enhance his credentials) even though the first Soviet leader, prior to his death, had expressed a wish for a Christian burial next to his mother in St. Petersburg and instructed that no monuments be erected in his honor.

Contrary to public perception, Vladimir Lenin was not an atheist. Though born of Jewish ancestry, “the great-grandson of Moishe Itskovich Blank and the grandson of Srul Moishevich Blank,” the latter whom was baptized in the Russian Orthodox Church and changed his name to Aleksandr Dmitrievich” with his Jewish roots corroborated by his elder sister Anna – “It is probably no secret for you that the research on our grandfather shows that he came from a poor Jewish family” – per Lenin by Robert Service (Harvard University Press, London, UK, 2000), Lenin was baptized into the Russian Orthodox Church in January 1886. Afterwards, despite his suspicions of the Russian Orthodox Patriarchy because of their desire for a share of state power, he remained a believer in Christ (many of who’s teachings were relevant to the Bolshevik Revolution and Socialism per se) up to his death.

In fact, although, “Marx, Engels and Lenin all agreed that there should be complete separation of church and state, [a]ll three were opposed to arguments that religion should be banned under socialism.[1] Lenin agreed with Engels when he called the “vociferous proclamation of war on religion a piece of stupidity” in The Attitude of the Workers’ Party to Religion published in 1900.

When some wanted to bar religious workers from the revolutionary party, Lenin declared, “We must not only admit workers who preserve their belief in God into the Social-Democratic Party, but must deliberately set out to recruit them; we are absolutely opposed to giving the slightest offense to their religious convictions…” As a result, he even recruited priests especially since Father Georgi Gapon (1870-1906) had played a vital role during the revolution’s early days. Despite critics who accused him of being an agent, Lenin refused to waver. He continued to honor Gapon’s contributions, angrily retorting, “Only the course of historical events could decide this, only facts, facts, facts.”

At the same time, Vladimir Lenin never forgot his Jewish roots (even though Stalin attempted to suppress them to justify his purges directed at Jews). As a result, he was a vocal critic of anti-Semitism. In one 1919 speech recorded on a gramophone record, he decried such hate, stating, “The Tsarist police, in alliance with the landowners and the capitalists, organized pogroms against the Jews. The landowners and capitalists tried to divert the hatred of the workers and peasants who were tortured by want against the Jews. … Only the most ignorant and downtrodden people can believe the lies and slander that are spread about the Jews. … It is not the Jews who are the enemies of the working people… They are our brothers, who, like us, are oppressed by capital; they are our comrades in the struggle for socialism. Among the Jews there are kulaks, exploiters and capitalists, just as there are among the Russians, and among people of all nations… Shame on accursed Tsarism, which tortured and persecuted the Jews. Shame on those who foment hatred towards the Jews, who foment hatred towards other nations.”[2]

Based on today’s steep global downturn fueled by corruption, bubbles, and systemic flaws, it is evident that Capitalism and Communism/Socialism (whose reputation has never recovered after being perverted by the Stalin, Dzerzhinsky, Bukharin troika despite Sweden’s model social democracy of which critics point to high taxes and moderated levels of growth and innovation to sustain the nation’s “cradle-to-grave” security) have their benefits and flaws, are compatible with democracy, human rights, and religious traditions, and neither can claim the mantle of infallibility. In addition, since the Separation of Church and State have proven to be the bedrock of successful, free societies that have emerged from the Age of Enlightenment in the 18th century, though controversial, it may be time to re-examine Vladimir Lenin’s legacy. His true character (of which many who personally knew him described as “kind”) and beliefs must be viewed based on historical evidence, the de facto limitations placed on his authority during the hidden coup and the final year of his life, the immense psychological stress he was subjected to, and the context of the times. When all of these factors are examined, it appears that Lenin was highly intelligent, a more benevolent man than he is given credit for and a believer in God. As a result, if objective standards devoid of political and economic ideology and/or agendas are used, it is likely that Lenin’s character, though not perfect, is in need of rehabilitation by open-minded historians, scholars, and even the news media.

 

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