In Konstantin Fedin’s “The Living Lenin,” he tells a tale of his witness to Lenin after having received wounds from a political assassination attempt by a member of the Socialist Revolutionaries, and in it, he tells us how Lenin was not only prominent by his work, but his stature, composure, speech, and his bodily culmination that delivers his work. He was art himself.
After being shot, Trotsky describes this tragic fate in saying that “ I have not seen a single comrade, not a single honest workman, who let his hands drop under the influence of the news of the traitorous attack on Lenin, but I have seen dozens who clenched their fists, whose hands sought their guns; I have seen hundreds and thousands of lips that vowed merciless revenge on the enemies of the proletariat. I do not need to state how the class-conscious fighters at the front reacted, when they learned that Lenin was lying there with two bullets in his body. No one can say of Lenin that his character lacks metal; but now the metal is no longer in his spirit only, but also in his body. Thereby he is even dearer to Russia’s working class” (Lenin Wounded, 1918). Trotsky particularly describes Lenin as metal, and now not only in spirit, but in body. Similarly, Fedin said that “it seemed as though molten metal had been poured into a pliant form” (The Living Lenin, 1939).
While having gone through this process, Lenin himself embodies the materialist dialectics of Marx. Containing the thesis that Lenin embodies a spirit of metal, but receiving the antithesis that he is shot with metal to prove that he is mortal, flesh, and wounded, but having recovered to the final stage, Lenin embodies the synthesis of his movement and composure being metal just as well. Lenin was able to physically convey Marxism to the masses and truly embody it’s analysis, and this is how they understood him and the science itself.
Trotsky describes at another point how “Lenin embodies in himself the Russian proletariat, a youthful class, that politically is scarcely older than Lenin himself, withal a deeply national class, for the whole past development of Russia is bound up with it, in it lies Russia’s entire future, with it lives and dies the Russian nation.” (Nationalism in Lenin, 1920). Lenin is accurately described as being the whole of the proletariat, and building off off Fedin’s interpretation, is not only the pliable form of the molten metal that has been poured into him, but the molten metal being the proletariat’s spirit and lifeblood. Seeing as Lenin was both the embodiment of Marxism and the people’s actions, he was truly the character to fully embody the dominant driving forces of the revolution.
Lenin was of course the icon of the revolution, and maintaining the revolution’s fire was vital. The creation of multiple state bodies to promote art and life, that created paintings, poems, and much more about Lenin himself was crucial to preserving the revolution and constantly reminding everybody about who, and consequently what, had given them something more worth living for. However, while Fedin’s piece suggests that a critical reading may imply that he is proposing an alternative leadership to Stalin, and while I cite Trotsky for historical purposes, I do not believe that the leadership is either of them. The leadership is that of Lenin and Lenin’s alone. Lenin’s crucial error was that while he was surrounded by many great Bolsheviks, he was unsure as to who was suited to take his position. While many Trotsykists cite that Lenin said Trotsky is the most capable man of the party, we know that this is not true, for Trotsky had given up the battle to Stalin and voted for him to become general secretary, only to fight after he had already accepted defeat.
Many under the command of the state and Stalin tried to make him become the man of the proletariat just as Lenin was, but had not gone through the forging of character, knowledge, and humility that Lenin did. While Trotsky also realized this, he asked “How shall we continue? With the lamp of Leninism in our hands. Shall we find the way?” and goes on to state that “With the collective mind, with the collective will of the party we shall find it!” (Lenin Dead, 1924). Today, we must brush the dead-end, sectarian tradition of Trotskyism away, alongside the warpings, weaknesses, and failures of Stalin’s Marxist-Leninism. Today, we must make a return to orthodoxy and renew Marxism for our age, with it as our analysis, and the working class’ will, spirit, and action enjoined in one, just as Lenin did through himself.
The Living Lenin, Konstantin Fedin (1939)
Lenin Wounded, Leon Trotsky (1920)
Nationalism in Lenin, Leon Trotsky (1920)
Lenin Dead, Leon Trotsky (1924)
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