Yesterday almost a million protesters (by their own calculation) or a few hundred of them (if you believe Russian TV) flooded Kiev in the biggest demonstration yet.
Laudably, they shouted their yearning for freedom from Russia. Lamentably, they screamed their desire to join the EU.
Amid building barricades, clashing with the police and what have you, the protesters pulled down a Lenin statue and decapitated it to the chorus of “Yanukovych, you’re next!”
There’s an obvious moral difference between beheading a stone sculpture and a living person, but one suspects that Yanukovych was more concerned with the practicalities of the matter. Time to do a runner, I’d suggest. I’m sure there’s a nice Moscow flat being furnished to his taste even as we speak.
Moscow, and indeed all of Russia, is a place still adorned with innumerable statues of Lenin. The first leader of all progressive mankind points to the horizon with one outstretched hand, while clutching a workman’s cap in the other.
One hand says ‘You’re on the right track, comrades’, while the other hints at the great man’s belonging to the united proletarians of the world. The claim was slightly tenuous, considering that Lenin came from a gentry family, but we must realise that the Bolsheviks defined as a proletarian anyone who was one of them, either as a card-carrying member or at least as a supporter. The person’s CV didn’t really come into it.
Lenin’s mummy still lies in its Red Square ziggurat, relics supposed to draw pilgrims from all over the world. Lately, there have been few of those, but such things can change. Putin and his gang certainly hope so.
That, however, is par for the course. What I find amazing is that whenever even a conservative Western commentator, especially one who hasn’t devoted much time to studying Soviet history, comes up with a roll call of evil, it’s usually only Stalin who’s selected to represent the Soviet Union alongside Hitler, Mao and Pol Pot.
That’s most unfair to the memory of the great man who, according to Soviet mythology, dearly loved children. That may have been, but Lenin definitely hated grown-ups.
To express such feelings, Lenin comfortably outscored all other twentieth-century monsters in murder rate, though because of his brief tenure he fell short of matching the absolute numbers of Stalin and Mao.
Lenin, it has to be remembered, drew up the blueprint for acquiring and holding on to power. This was followed by practically all modern revolutionaries, from Lenin’s contemporaries to ours.
That’s why the great man must also be credited with murders he committed vicariously, not just those for which he was directly responsible.
This isn’t to deny that the latter category is quite impressive by itself. There were almost 2,000,000 judicial executions in the first five years of the Soviet regime, on Lenin’s watch, plus untold and uncounted millions of extra-judicial ones, most of them murdered without even a travesty of justice for no wrong-doing other than belonging to a wrong class or believing in God.
Coming up with a precise number is difficult for records were either not kept or are still classified. Prof. Rummel made a good fist of it in his seminal studies Lethal Politics and Death by Government, in which he used demographic analysis to arrive at a figure of 61 million murdered by the Bolsheviks, at least a third of them in the five years of Lenin’s rule.
To this must be added 10 million victims of the Civil War Lenin unleashed to convince a reluctant populace that paradise on earth had arrived.
Lenin must also be credited with the technique of didactically starving to death those who are slow to see the light. About 7,300,000 died of starvation in the 1921-1923 famine, half of them by intentional democide, half as a result of Lenin’s catastrophic agricultural policies.
The great humanist was also in tune with modern atheism, except that he tended to express his innermost beliefs more forcefully than even Richard Dawkins.
More than 40 thousand priests (and 10 times as many parishioners) were murdered in all sorts of horrific ways while Lenin was still alive (I’ll spare you the details). Bolshevik gangs avidly destroyed the relics of Orthodox saints and, when Lenin declared the time was right, plundered church valuables.
For the great humanist the time was right when peasants in the Volga region and elsewhere were, in his phrase, “swelling from starvation” and therefore too weak to resist. But it was not all about money: Lenin never ignored the human factor.
In his secret order of 19 March, 1922, he wrote, “…removal of valuables… must be carried out with merciless resolve and in the shortest possible time. The more representatives of the reactionary bourgeoisie and clergy we shall manage to shoot in the process, the better. It is now that we must teach that scum a lesson so that they will not even dare think of any kind of resistance for several decades.”
The aspiring mummy saw the future with the clarity of a prophet. It was indeed several decades before any resistance to his brainchild began in Russia and elsewhere. It’s still going on strong enough in the Ukraine to smash a Lenin statue, though not strong enough in Russia to toss the Lenin mummy into a rubbish dump.
But it’s time Lenin be given pride of place – first place! – in the rota of murderous tyrants. If looked at dispassionately and fairly, he’d be in contention for the undisputed title of the most evil man in history, edging out Stalin, Hitler and Mao.
As a concluding aside, have you ever wondered why such ogres – thousands of them – appeared specifically in the twentieth century? This is one for later.