Lenin’s Vision

Although it is really short, Lenin’s speech at the All-Russian Navy Congress really provides a window into how the Soviets will handle the all important question of culture that we started discussing last week. The date the speech was delivered, December 5, 1917, is something we should keep in mind in our discussion of the speech. This is just months after the October Revolution. At this point, I think it is safe to say Lenin had to be extremely careful to say the right things, even if that meant there had to be some compromise with his actual views. This speech spreads a message of unity while also still seemingly acknowledging unique cultures (ie Ukraine). So here is where my question comes in: In the speech Lenin says, “We are told that Russia will be divided, will split into separate republics. We should not be afraid of this. No matter how many separate republics are created we shall not be frightened by it. It is not the state frontiers that count with us but a union of toilers of all nations ready to fight the bourgeoisie of any nation.” Do you buy this? Is it possible to unify to “fight the bourgeoisie” without erasing some (or all) cultural elements that are not “Soviet” (when that becomes a thing)? Does Stalin’s speech contain a more thorough plan to carry out what Lenin is promoting, or is it something different?

2 Replies to “Lenin’s Vision”

  1. I think the question you pose is a really interesting one. To try and answer your question: The bourgeoisie are apart of each nation’s culture as they participate in their respective societies, so I think that getting rid of people who contribute to said culture is going to alter it in some way. With Lenin’s speech he talks about respecting each nations induvidualities, yet I wonder when the importance of the Soviet Union usurps culture. For, if culture is still connected to the old economic and government ideology, I think at some point Lenin or the Soviet Union would have to draw boundaries. Lenin says in his speech, “As Ukrainians you may organize your life as you wish, but we shall stretch our brotherly hand to the Ukrainian workers saying: Let us fight together against our common enemy the bourgeoisie. Only a Socialist union of the toilers of all countries will clear away the ground of the national quarrels and enmities”. Which to me gives me pause, as there is a lot of emphasis on a union of socialist being an answer to class struggle. It seems as though he is asking these induvidual nations to join this “nation” whose “culture” is class. Whether that is good or bad.

  2. I think the question you pose is a really interesting one. To try and answer your question: The bourgeoisie are apart of each nation’s culture as they participate in their respective societies, so I think that getting rid of people who contribute to said culture is going to alter it in some way. With Lenin’s speech he talks about respecting each nations induvidualities, yet I wonder when the importance of the Soviet Union usurps culture. For, if culture is still connected to the old economic and government ideology, I think at some point Lenin or the Soviet Union would have to draw boundaries. Lenin says in his speech, “As Ukrainians you may organize your life as you wish, but we shall stretch our brotherly hand to the Ukrainian workers saying: Let us fight together against our common enemy the bourgeoisie. Only a Socialist union of the toilers of all countries will clear away the ground of the national quarrels and enmities”. Which to me gives me pause, as there is a lot of emphasis on a union of socialist being an answer to class struggle. It seems as though he is asking these induvidual nations to join this “nation” whose “culture” is class. Whether that is good or bad.

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