I love finding out about an author or resource that leads to the discovery of other treasures. And so, I came across an old Interview with Gary Saul Morson and was really interested in what he has learned from years of studying and teaching Russian literature. You can listen to that interview here.
I started going down the rabbit hole of some of his interviews and articles and came across this one called Leninthink.
You don’t have to have read Lenin to be influenced by him. This article by an expert in Russian literature and history lays out some important things for us to consider in our age of polarization and political pragmatism. You do NOT want to think and live like Lenin.
This is a longer and rigorous essay. But it is worth reading, probably twice. It is full of original source quotes and historical context. The point is to learn from history so we do not repeat it.
Among the most interesting elements that I found most relevant for us:
Considering life a zero sum game. Every transaction is either an act of oppression or being oppressed.
That the slightest disagreement from the party line is absolute betrayal. There is no middle ground.
Rejection of any morality or limits against the power of the party/state. They are above accountability. Viewing morality as nothing more than an expression of class (we might say race/sex/gender) struggle.
Promising to maintain the civil rights of the people as long as they do not do anything we disagree with. e.g. You have freedom of speech as long as you don’t say anything we do not like.
Arriving at conclusions on issues, opinions, and incidents without the need for facts or evidence. Having a conclusion beforehand. Insisting you don’t need to understand an opposing view before you denounce it.
Radically changing facts about history or even the position of the party while refusing to acknowledge that any change has taken place.
People eagerly confessing to crimes they have not committed to support the party.
Denouncing family members and friends as an expression of party loyalty.
Justifying any means to advance the cause, even those considered immoral, and that you would condemn others for using.