…It was Lenin’s hardness, his character as an ascetic revolutionary, that to a significant extent attracted his small group of fellow conspirators and propelled this extraordinary minority into the highest authority over a huge land…
…Then, in 1903, Lenin implemented his ideas by splitting the Russian Social Democratic party into Bolsheviks and Mensheviks, or “hards” and “softs.” The consequences of this schism, a characterological as well as ideological division, are too well known to require further comment. World War I, and chance, gave Lenin his opportunity: he set about shaping a Soviet Union in his own image.
It was Lenin’s hardness, his character as an ascetic revolutionary, that to a significant extent attracted his small group of fellow conspirators and propelled this extraordinary minority into the highest authority over a huge land. Lenin and his character were essential. As one scholar states categorically, “Bolshevism without him was unimaginable.”
Lenin’s denial of his libidinal feelings, and the submergence of them in his “hard” political party- centralized, disciplined and dictatorial- were secured at a great emotional price. His love affair with Inessa Armand, long hidden by Soviet hagiology, shows this dramatically. Krupskaya, like the new woman she was, accepted the liaison, which became a triangular relationship, in good grace. Inessa reawakened Lenin’s tender feelings; she radiated “warmth and ardor,” we are told- by Krupskaya- and in a striking recapitulation of earlier experiences, played the piano for him.
For her alone, together with his immediate family, Lenin reserved the “thou” form of address. Yet here, too, duty came before love, and for most of their relationship, Lenin treated her primarily as a revolutionary companion, dispatching her on party missions and lecturing her on correct ideology. Only at her burial in 1921 did Lenin break down and exhibit the true depth of his feelings. As another comrade, Angelica Balabanoff, described it, ” I never saw such torment, I never saw any human being so completely absorbed by sorrow, by the effort to…guard it against the attention of others.” ( to be continued)…
(see link at end)…In the wake of the October revolution, Lenin set up his own secret police, the infamous Cheka, under the Pole Felix Dzerzhinsky. On Lenin’s orders, “Iron Felix” curtailed free speech and banned trades unions. Just as Ivan the Terrible mistrusted the Russian people, so Lenin surrounded himself with foreigners such as Dzerzhinsky and the Georgian Stalin. His Latvian bodyguard drove Lenin in his Rolls-Royce to his dacha, previously owned by a millionaire.
When the civil war erupted between the Reds and the Whites, Lenin used poison gas against his enemies and opened slave camps for his victims. As a result, the Kronstadt sailors, who initially were on the side of the Bolsheviks, protested that “Lenin’s secret police make the Tsar’s look like French gendarmes”.
In 1918, Fanny Kaplan made an attempt on Lenin’s life, for which she was summarily shot without trial. This prompted Lenin to unleash the Red Terror. In his own words: “It’s because there’s been comparatively so little bloodshed that we still haven’t got a proper dictatorship. Our regime is incredibly mild. It’s more like milk pudding than iron. That’s why it’s imperative we get the workers to dish out terror, too. They’ve got to bloody themselves, along with the rest of us. Dictatorship means unrestrained power based on unremitting force. In Gorky’s words, ‘It’s the logic of the axe.’ Dzerzhinsky and his Chekists must make their arrests at night.http://www.newstatesman.com/node/138854