As some statues come down, others are going up

One pundit with a vested interest in proving the virtue of Putin’s regime, hailed its clean break with Russia’s Soviet past.

As proof of that welcome development, the hack who’ll go nameless (well, Peter Hitchens, if you insist) claimed that Lenin statues no longer adorn Russia’s landscape.

Actually, by latest count, 1,600 of such statues still tower over the country. And of course, in a lovingly maintained sinister ritual, Lenin’s mummy is still on display in that Babylonian ziggurat in Red Square.

But hey, what does one expect? Russians will be Russians, right? We in the West aren’t going to tolerate statues commemorating monsters – nor anyone else we don’t like for however spurious a reason.

In the US statues of the two opposing commanders in the Civil War, Ulysses Grant and Robert E Lee, are about to come down. These are to be followed by most signatories to the Declaration of Independence, including its author, Thomas Jefferson. And even poor old Teddy Roosevelt no longer rates commemoration.

In Britain, the same monsoon is about to sweep away Winston Churchill, Cecil Rhodes, General Hague, Field-Marshal Montgomery and countless others.

However, as the photograph above proves, just as some objectionable personages step down from their plinths, some secular saints are climbing up. Lest you might think that the newly erected statue of Lenin appears in Russia or some other post-communist space, rest assured that’s not the case.

The Marxist-Leninist Party of Germany (MLPD) has been allowed to erect the statue in front of its headquarters in Gelsenkirchen, a city that’s in the heart of what used to be the Federal Republic, not the former GDR.

When city authorities tried to block the project, they were overruled by the courts. Pluralism and diversity were thus affirmed, paving, in my view, the way for some neo-Nazi party to decorate its headquarters with a statue of Hitler. Fair is fair, nicht wahr?

MLPD führer, Gabi Fechtner, is understandably jubilant. Lenin, she said, was “an ahead-of-his-time thinker of world-historical importance, an early fighter for freedom and democracy.”

I’ll buy the “ahead-of-his time thinker of world-historical importance”. Indeed, Lenin created a regime the likes of which had never existed before, but one that gave rise to numerous imitations. Not only Stalin’s USSR, but also China, Vietnam, Cambodia, North Korea, not to mention assorted African and Latin American countries, along with the entire Eastern Europe, can all testify to the great man’s forward thinking.

However, “an early fighter for freedom and democracy” gives me a spot of bother. Anyone who wishes to check Lenin’s record, which gives him a fair shot at being considered the most evil man in history, can do so on Google.

I, on the other hand, prefer to let the great democrat speak for himself, through his official correspondence, books and articles. Here’s a brief thesaurus:

“It is precisely now and only now, when in the starving regions people are eating human flesh and hundreds if not thousands of corpses are littering the roads that we can (and therefore must) carry out the confiscation of church valuables with the most savage and merciless energy…”

“Superb plan!… Pretending to be ‘greens’ (we’ll pin it on them later), we’ll penetrate 10-20 miles deep and hang kulaks, priests and landlords. Bonus: 100,000 roubles for each one hanged…”

“War to the death of the rich and their hangers-on, the bourgeois intelligentsia… they must be punished for the slightest transgression… In one place we’ll put them in gaol, in another make them clean shithouses, in a third blacklist them after prison… in a fourth, shoot them on the spot… The more diverse, the better, the richer our common experience…”

“…In case of invasion, be prepared to burn all of Baku to the ground and announce this publicly…”

“Conduct merciless mass terror against the kulaks, priests and White Guard; if in doubt, lock them up in concentration camps outside city limits.”

“Comrades… this is our last and decisive battle against the kulaks. We must set an example: hang (definitely hang, for everyone to see) at least 100 known kulaks, fat cats and bloodsuckers; publish their names; take all their grain away; nominate hostages…; make sure that even 100 miles away everyone will see, tremble, know that bloodsucking kulaks are being strangled.”

“Suggest you appoint your own leaders and shoot both the hostages and doubters, without asking anyone’s permission and avoiding idiotic dithering.”

“I don’t think we should spare the city and put this off any longer, for merciless annihilation is vital…”

“As far as foreigners are concerned, no need to rush their expulsion. A concentration camp is better…”

“Every foreign citizen resident in Russia, aged 17 to 55, belonging to the bourgeoisie of the countries hostile to us, must be put into concentration camps…”

“Far from all peasants realise that free trade in grain is a crime against the state. ‘I grew the grain, it’s mine, I have a right to sell it,’ that’s how the peasant thinks, in the old way. But we’re saying this is a crime against the state.”

“I suggest all theatres be put into a coffin.”

“I’m reaching an indisputable conclusion that it’s precisely now that we must give a decisive and merciless battle to the Black Hundreds clergy, suppressing their resistance with such cruelty that they won’t forget it for several decades… The more reactionary clergy and reactionary bourgeoisie we shoot while at it, the better.”

“…Punish Latvia and Estonia militarily (for example follow the Whites in a mile deep and hang 100-1,000 officials and fat cats).”

“Rather than stopping terror (promising this would be deception or self-deception), the courts must justify and legalise it unequivocally, clearly…”

Looks like the German courts have “unequivocally, clearly” legalised Genosse Lenin’s statue as a focus of public worship. Genosse Hitler, your turn next.

7 thoughts on “As some statues come down, others are going up”

    1. It’s not. It’s a relevant question. And the answer only really needs one word: evil. Lenin was consumed with hatred of everything and everybody, including even the working class he professed to love. When workers in Petersburg
      tried to strike a couple of months after the revolution, they were machine-gunned. He also hated peasants for being too independent, the intelligentsia for being too smart (“they aren’t the brains of the nation, but its shit,” he wrote to Gorky), the clergy for obvious reasons, all believers for the same reasons, anybody who held any government post under the tsars, businessmen, socialists who weren’t quite Bolsheviks, all others who weren’t Bolsheviks, other Bolsheviks who weren’t like him. That’s why the right words came easily to Lenin: “I don’t care,” he wrote, “if 90 per cent of the Russians perish as long as the remaining 10 per cent live under communism.”

      1. “Let the capitalists kill three-hundred million of us. There will still be three-hundred million of us left but no capitalists.”

        Chairman Mao speaking of a nuclear war. That three-hundred million the population of China at the time.

  1. Putting up statues of monsters like Lenin bothers me less than the toppling of statues of people who may have been flawed individuals but played crucial roles in a country’s history.
    On the other hand I didn’t mind Saddam Hussein’s statue being toppled and I think that’s because the people involved in the toppling were of his time and their judgement of him being evil was based on first hand knowledge. When the statues are from long ago, we are not able to judge in the same way and should respect the judgement of those of our countrymen that allowed the statues to stand for so long.
    I’m not altogether sure if that makes sense. It would I think mean that this Lenin statue should not be brought down in say 150 years time if it is allowed to stand till then. And it would also mean that I think the Lenin statues which still stand in Russia should continue to do so. Hmm.

    1. I don’t think there’s a hard and fast rule, nor a universal moral principle, about statues. A lot depends on who puts the up, who pulls them down, and why. West Germans, for example, toppled all Nazi statues after the war, and I can’t see how any decent person would prefer to see the images of Messrs Hitler, Himmler and Goering still adorning German cities. By doing so, the Germans repudiated their recent past and showed repentance, which is the first step towards redemption. In Russia, such a step was never taken. If some 80,000 Germans were convicted of Nazi crimes, not a single Russian was prosecuted – and, numerically at least, their crimes were greater by an order of magnitude. Having Lenin statues still up, therefore, is proof that the evil he started is still going strong. Russia can never become a decent country as long as those eyesores are still standing. The problem in the West is that many people don’t see that Lenin, Stalin and Hitler are all equally evil creatures.

  2. “in the West is that many people don’t see that Lenin, Stalin and Hitler are all equally evil creatures.”

    And Mao, Kim, Pol, maybe Ho. Franco we gotta stop and think about things for a while.

    Idid Amin Dada include because he was a black African. You gotta have one of those.

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