Tismaneanu confesses to being baffled by what he describes as “the still amazing infatuation of important intellectuals with the communist Utopia”. “It is no longer possible to maintain and defend a relatively benign Lenin”, he writes, “whose ideas were viciously distorted by the sociopath Stalin.” Unlike Stalin, Lenin showed no signs of psychopathology. Rather than being an expression of paranoia, methodical violence and pedagogic terror were integral features of Bolshevik doctrine. By their own account, Lenin and his followers acted on the basis of the belief that some human groups had to be destroyed in order to realize the potential of humanity. These facts continue to be ignored by many who consider themselves liberals, and it is worth asking why.
I found this extra-amusing, having just seen this interview with squee, ermahgerd, “the coolest and most influential leftist in Europe”:
Are there historical figures that you relate to?
Robespierre. Maybe a bit of Lenin.
Really? Not Trotsky?
In 1918-19, Trotsky was much harsher than Stalin. And I do like this in him. But I will never forgive him for how he screwed it up in the mid-’20s. He was so stupid and arrogant. You know what he would do? He would come to party meetings carrying French classics like Flaubert, Stendhal, to signal to others: “Fuck you, I am civilized!”
You write that we need to think more and act less. But in the end you identify with Lenin: a famed man of action.
Yes, but wait a minute! Lenin was the right guy. When everything went wrong in 1914, what did he do? He moved to Switzerland and started reading Hegel.
Oh-ho, what a zany fellow indeed. Take care if you read the whole thing; you just never know what boorzhwa-shocking thing he’s going to say next!
Personally, I find his ideas are best absorbed in all their profundity while listening to “Yakety Sax” on a loop.