by Denyse O'Leary
Lenin, the architect of now-defunct Soviet communism wanted to destroy traditional Western societies. That claim is often made against partisans of one cause or another, but in Lenin's case, it happened to be true, and he made no secret of it. As Wiker says,
Lenin seemed to savor the notion of violence. There could be no compromise with capitalism or capitalists. The bourgeoisie, the oppressive capitalist class, must be ferociously annihilated by the workers they oppressed, and a new revolutionary government built on the corpses.Hence, the tens of millions dead, worldwide.
It's worth noting that, to Lenin, were he alive today, anyone who owned a doublewide on a lot somewhere would be part of the middle class bourgeoisie. He wasn't out to get fat cats. He hated private property period.
Lenin sets out his view clearly in The State and Revolution (1917):
To understand the full, macabre nature of the Bolshevik state, we need to grasp that Lenin, following Marx and Engels, viewed the state as a purely negative thing - an idea that came ultimately from Hobbes. Hobbes declared, we recall, that our natural condition is pre-social and amoral. In the state of nature, we can do anything we like, even kill and eat other human beings. But this amoral condition is chaotic, precisely because other human beings want to kill and eat us. Since we become caught in a state of war, we all decide to give up our right to do anything we please and give some individual absolute power over all of us. This sovereign of civil society is the state, since his will, however arbitrary, is law. Hence Hobbes portrayed the state as entirely negative: born out of chaos, it exists only to suppress chaos.And so forth, from Lenin. It's not hard to see how Lenin's view of politics readily adapted itself to a staggeringly effective killing machine.
Marx, Engels, and Lenin adopted this idea, but rather than focusing on individuals in the state of nature, they focused on classes. Thus, the "state is the product and the manifestation of the irreconcilability of class antagonisms." That is why the state does not and cannot act as "an organ for the conciliation of classes. If there could be reconciliation, Lenin thunders, there wouldn't be a need for the state to begin with. The state is by definition irredeemably oppressive.
One thing that really helped Lenin was the new popularity of the view that humans are simply another species of animal. While Darwin and his followers advanced this cause dramatically, as we have seen, it was neither a new idea nor exclusive to them. It meant, for example, that in the twentieth century, Lenin's followers could plan famines among their own people, in much the same way that forest rangers may decide to cull deer or stage a controlled burn in a national park. That the twentieth century can perhaps be called the Age of Genocide was due largely to Lenin's followers, and their low view of human life.
(Note: Deer are sometimes culled because, in excess, they can prevent forest regeneration by eating too many seedling trees. Controlled burns can prevent forest wildfires by strategically removing stands of trees, creating open areas that the fire cannot pass.)
Next: Ten Worst Books 6: Margaret Sanger's The Pivot of Civilization (1922)
Toronto-based Canadian journalist Denyse O'Leary (www.designorchance.com) is the author of the multiple award-winning By Design or by Chance? (Augsburg Fortress 2004), an overview of the intelligent design controversy. She was named CBA Canada's Recommended Author of the Year in 2005 and is co-author, with Montreal neuroscientist Mario Beauregard, of The Spiritual Brain: A neuroscientist's case for the existence of the soul (Harper 2007).
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