Lenin and Stalin still have a posse

REUTERS/Denis Sinyakov

A Russian communist holds placards with portraits of Vladimir Lenin and Joseph Stalin during a rally to celebrate International Workers' Day, or Labor Day, in Moscow on May 1, 2012. Related: our large photo gallery of May Day demonstrations around the world.


  1. They just want to go back to the good old days.  They’re the Russian equivalent of Tea Partiers …

  2. You know….Stalin was a dull bastard but Lenin had a lot of good stuff to say AND he was fighting the good fight at the time. I hate that the two of them get conflated, both by babushkas and bloggers. This fucked up plutocratic world could use a few more Lenins right now.

    1. It was Lenin, not Stalin that crushed any hope of democratic communism taking root in Russia. He had zero intention of making any layer of Russian society democratic. He was an ideologue that may not have had high respect for the monarchy – but he most certainly respected their tradition of social repression.

      In the early days, the Bolsheviks weren’t much that different than the SA when they developed roots in Germany in the 1920s. An armed gang of thugs, rather than an army.  

      1. Weeeeell that all depends. You have to remember that Lenin was kept in check (in some ways) by groups like the ultra-left, the workers opposition and the fact that they had to ally themselves with the Mahknovchina (the anarchist army) in the Ukraine. This tiny era of progressive statesmanship ended rather swiftly though – but in that brief period of time you had egalitarian laws passed (like legalizing samesex couples and womens rights) and a decentralized form of democracy which was rather nifty (the soviets).

        Of course as the party control of Russia strengthened the same old problem popped up, you know the one about absolute power and so on. The Workers Opposition, for example, was disbanded rather roughly in years to come (Kollontaj was moved away from any power position) and the Kronstadt Rebellion (an anarchist and council-communist rebellion), was crushed.

        “in the early days” is not very specific and I try to find any specific examples of the armed thugs… Not that I’m saying they wheren’t – it was a populist revolt in the beginning and to be fair thats what they look like. Personally I am a tad bit more scared of armies and one of the center points of the Russian Disaster (which Marx had earlier pointed out was almost inevitable since you cant just skip from feudalism into socialism without passing capitalism) where the formation and the centralized control of the Red Army. They where instrumental in the destruction of not only the Kronstadt Rebellion and the Mahknovchina but also other popular revolts and council communist movements in what was later the eastern block.

        Lenin said some clever things though, you can’t take that away from him and the book “The State and the Revolution” is one of those texts he spent the rest of his life disowning (and is as such a rather nice read).

        The bolsjeviks where inevitable though – I really do think that. The mencheviks wouldn’t have made any difference at all at that point and the hatred towards the czar was not going to be contained by them. They where intellectuals and academics where as the bolsjeviks where populists.  But what I would love to know is whether or not it could have ended differently if the workers opposition would have been better at keeping some control within the Russian state? Since Lenin died young would they have been able to hold on to power, stopped Stalins control and invited the menscheviks (who at that time could have done wonders)?

        1. Pessimism tells me that either way there would’ve been a power struggle until some head figure emerged and forcefully put a stop to it. For something else to come out, you have to have a major revolution in peoples’ heads (better half of them poor/illiterate/desperate).

          And, the “democratic” majority at the time had no special love for the mensheviks. If they were to be invited, that would also have been a force decision.

  3. I’ve seen a portrait of Lenin at a British demonstration as well.
    Well, my wife did, on TV.

Comments are closed.