Lenin is once again becoming a global brand

Lenin is once again becoming a global brand

By Sergey Aksyonov

The role of Vladimir Lenin in the history of Russia is considered “positive” or “rather positive” by two thirds (67%) of the population. Only 17% assess it “negatively” or “rather negatively”. The rest found it difficult to answer. Such data were obtained in the course of the Levada-Centre poll. Soon, the revenge of the leftist idea? So it seems.

Sociologists have recorded an increase in the number of Lenin’s “supporters” for two decades in a row. If in 2006 there were 40% of them, in 2012 there were already 49%, in the crucial 2014 – 51%, in 2016 – 53%, in 2017 – 56%. Some explain the further jump by 11% at once by the pension reform, but perhaps the reason is the larger historical process.

Indirectly, this is confirmed by the fact that, for the first time, young people are seriously “fascinated” by Lenin. Among the generation aged between 18 and 24, there are even slightly more supporters of Lenin than the national average – 68%. That is, now the support group of the founder of the USSR is the older generation that remembers socialism and the green youth – the future of the country.

The middle age failed: the categories of 25–39 years old and 40–54 years old. It is understandable, having entered life at the very beginning of the 90s or in the nineties (liberals ruled all media then), they have fully experienced the pressure of anti-Soviet propaganda, encouraged, needless to say, by the ruling class of the Russian Federation.

Russian Poster commemorating the anniversary

Young people, having watched their parents wandering through life, as a rule fruitlessly, begin to evaluate anti-Leninist and more widely anti-communist “watering” critically. Especially recently, when it suddenly became clear that the country is surviving to a great extent thanks to the seemingly inexhaustible reserve left to it by the Soviet Union.

Young people have realized that the pursuit of career and big money, everything they were taught by the political instructors of capitalism, often turns out to be a disappointment. Only “their own people” get really good jobs. You must work 20–30 years for a flat. You will not be able to have a rest on pension, you will have to work to survive in your old age. And there is no high sense in this mess at all.

National discord is superimposed on social disorder. Despite the officials’ mantras about a multinational nation, the reality is far from ideal. The atmosphere of competition (man to man is a wolf) inevitably forces people to look for “their own” and gather in packs, defending their place under the sun. Armed migrants roam the streets …

It is natural that against the background of this “paradise”, the achievements of the country created by Lenin look more attractive: The right to an 8-hour working day and annual leave, equal rights for women and men, maternity leave, free higher education, guaranteed employment.

And there was also free mass medicine (including effective infection control), access of millions to science (talent is now being lured to the West), art, and military careers.

It is painful to talk about the friendship of peoples. It is impossible to dispute this element of Leninism. And this is not a gilded fountain at VDNH, but a real social practice, when it was shameful to oppose people by nationality, and the ethnic factor was reliably “sintered” by social progress and common destiny.

The Russian leadership doubts Lenin’s class theory, claiming that it is outdated and that the geopolitical factor now comes first. Let’s not argue. But Lenin’s state also proved itself geopolitically super-successful, uniting half of the world around its idea. Today’s friends are only Belarus. And that is almost socialist.

Russia has never shown itself on the global arena more powerfully than in its Soviet version. Lenin, as the founder of the Soviet Union, became the most famous Russian of all time. To put it in modern terms, it is our super brand. The world knows us as Lenin’s country, even contrary to what the Kremlin would like.

By the way, Leninism is spelled out in the constitution of China, objectively the world’s second superpower. In the central Vietnamese province of Nghe An, a monument to Lenin has just been unveiled. In total, there are 8 thousand various monuments, busts and memorials to Vladimir Lenin in the world. The majestic artifacts remind of the once super-developed civilization.

In contrast, the Finnish city of Kotka removed the last remaining monument to Lenin in the country, despite Razliv (V.I. Lenin in July-August 1917 was hiding in a hut on the shore of Lake Sestroretsky Razliv in Finland-UWI). The status of a NATO member country does not allow honoring the heroes of the enemy. This is why monuments to the leader were felled in Ukraine after the Maidan, and why the popular uprising in Donetsk began around the defense of V. I. Lenin. Geopolitics of Leninism.

Russia hesitated for a long time. The authorities, it was felt, were not averse to tearing down the leader of the naked people (as they clearly believe within themselves) from their pedestals. And to put into series some White Guard like Mannerheim. But they couldn’t afford to become like the Kyiv regime. They had to tolerate it. Moreover, people wanted to preserve the monuments.

The Russian authorities demonstrate their true attitude to Lenin every 9 May, draping the mausoleum on Red Square in shame. The shameful “deflection”, first organized for the sake of inviting American President Bill Clinton to Moscow for the parade, has taken root and is now repeated like Groundhog Day every year, revealing the ideological state of the bosses’ heads.

It is easy to imagine where this could lead. As pointed out by State Duma deputy Mikhail Delyagin, this year Victory Day is not in the plan of school lessons “Talking about Important Things“. And on the eve of 9 May there is a certain “Day of Remembrance”. Just like in Europe, which celebrates such a day separately from us on 8 May. We have started the SMO, started to fight Nazism, but we hide both the Victory and Lenin?

In September 2022, Vladimir Putin spoke favorably of Lenin, but put him in a broader context. Vladimir Lenin, Joseph Stalin and Nicholas II made Russia a great power. Alas, but this hardly means that his opinion of V. I. Lenin has changed – it’s just that we were pressed to the front at the time, so we had to appeal to authority.

There is no need to doubt the attitude of the President of the Russian Federation to Lenin. He has repeatedly complained that the founder of the USSR “laid a mine” under the Russian statehood. Especially in relation to Ukraine. Yes, Ukraine broke away from the empire in the summer of 1917. However, Lenin coped and returned it to the bosom of a big country in six months. Can we repeat it?

The personal attitude of the head of state to Lenin is important, because in a super-presidential republic, such as the Russian Federation, the collective actions of the entire bureaucratic apparatus, which determine the real vector of the country’s movement, depend on it. If Lenin is not honored by the bosses, the policy will be anti-Lenin, if not anti-people.

Equally important is the opinion of the dominant political class in the country. It cannot inherit the “Reds” because it has risen on their denial. So, they reject Lenin in favor of the “Whites” in the broadest sense – those who were in power before October 1917. This is why they paradoxically honor both the monarchy and the liberals who destroyed it in February.

Obviously, such ambiguity cannot last long. If Russia has challenged world imperialism in the form of the USA, NATO and Ukraine, then it must live up to it and honor whom it should. It is not for nothing that Sri Lankan professor Dayan Jayatilleka reminded the Valdai Forum that it was Lenin who criticized imperialism more than anyone else.

“Since we are being attacked by imperialism and elements of fascism, and since history has already seen successful victories over imperialism in China, in Korea, in Vietnam, and texts about imperialism were written by Lenin – perhaps it is time to criticize the events of 1917 less?” – the professor rhetorically addressed the audience.

Now these questions have been asked by the Russian youth as well. Soon these guys will grow up and enter life. And there will be more and more people like them. Do they realize this at the top? April 22nd is Lenin’s birthday, then comes Victory Day. We should finally decide to hold it traditionally – with an open mausoleum. This would be a clear signal to the world and the country.

This article was originally published here in Russian. It was translated from Russian into English by United World International.

United World International

Independent analytical center where political scientists and experts in international relations from various countries exchange their opinions and views.

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May 2024