Just in time for Christmas: another ‘Letter from the Road’ over at Political Theology, this time on Lenin and miracles. A further snippet from the draft of Lenin and Theology.

Today we found this, a revolutionary eye-chart:

It is at the moment housed in a little dacha (дача) – the Germans need a ‘t’ to help them pronounce the thing:

Close by the corner of Karl-Marx Allee (which used to be called Stalinallee ) and Strasse der Pariser Kommune:

But one one should trying to read the eye-chart after imbibing the somewhat interesting brews found on the premises:

Following on from my earlier post in which Lenin points out that ‘a revolution is a miracle‘, a few of his more juicy statements on the same line.

After the 1905 revolution:

Revolutions are the locomotives of history, said Marx. Revolutions are the festivals of the oppressed and the exploited. At no other time are the masses of the people in a position to come forward so actively as creators of a new social order as at a time of revolution. At such times the people are capable of performing miracles, if judged by the narrow, philistine scale of gradual progress (1905, Collected Works, vol. 9, p. 113).

And then in the famous ‘Letters from Afar’ after the February Revolution of 1917, in which the tsar was overthrown:

The slogan, the “task of the day”, at this moment must be: Workers, you have performed miracles of proletarian heroism, the heroism of the people, in thecivil war against tsarism. You must perform miracles of organisation, organisation of the proletariat and of the whole people, to prepare the way for your victory in the second stage of the revolution (1917, Collected Works, vol. 23, pp. 306-7).

Comrade workers! You performed miracles of proletarian heroism yesterday in overthrowing the tsarist monarchy. In the more or less near future (perhaps even now, as these lines are being written) you will again have to perform the same miracles of heroism to overthrow the rule of the land lords and capitalists, who are waging the imperialist war. You will not achieve durable victory in this next “real” revolution if you do not perform miracles of proletarian organisation! (1917, Collected Works, vol. 23, p. 323).

After the October Revolution and in the face of almost insuperable difficulties:

It is indeed a miracle. Workers, who have suffered unprecedented torments of hunger, cold, economic ruin and devastation, are not only maintaining their cheerful spirit, their entire devotion to Soviet power, all the energy of self-sacrifice and heroism, but also, despite their lack of training and experience, are undertaking the burden of steering the ship of state! And this at a moment when the storm has reached the peak of its fury … The history of our proletarian revolution is full of such miracles (1919, Collected Works, vol. 13, pp. 72-3).

After two years of furious and vicious ‘civil’ war:

The question that primarily comes to mind is: how was it possible for such a miracle to have occurred, for Soviet power to have held out for two years in a backward, mined and war-weary country, in the face of the stubborn struggle waged against it first by German imperialism, which at that time was considered omnipotent, and then by Entente imperialism, which a year ago settled accounts with Germany, had no rivals and lorded it over all the countries on earth? From the point of view of a simple calculation of the forces involved, from the point of view of a military assessment of these forces, it really is a miracle (1919, Collected Works, vol. 19, p. 208).

Finally, when the Red Army was victorious after four years of foreign intervention, blockade and civil war:

Four years have enabled us to work a miracle without parallel, in that a starving, weak and half-ruined country has defeated its enemies – the mighty capitalist countries (1921, Collected Works, vol. 33, p. 117).

To make sure that no-one is excluded from the miraculous, even the water transport workers are capable of miracles in the subsequent task of economic reconstruction:

That is why, comrades, I will conclude my speech by expressing the hope and certainty that you will devote the greatest attention to the tasks of the forthcoming navigation season, and will make it your aim, and will stop at no sacrifice, to create real, iron, military discipline and to perform in the sphere of water transport miracles as great as those performed during the past two years by our Red Army (1920, Collected Works, vol. 30, p. 432).

As I begin my central treatment of miracle in Lenin and Theology, I have a wealth of juicy texts from which to draw, such as this one:

In certain respects, a revolution is a miracle. If we had been told in 1917 that we would hold out in three years of war against the whole world, that, as a result of the war, two million Russian landowners, capitalists and their children would find themselves abroad, and that we would turn out to be the victors, no one of us would have believed it. A miracle took place because the workers and peasants rose against the attack of the landowners and capitalists in such force that even powerful capitalism was in danger …  The defence of the workers’ and peasants’ power was achieved by a miracle, not a divine miracle – it was not something that fell from the skies – but a miracle in the sense that, no matter how oppressed, humiliated, ruined and exhausted the workers and peasants were, precisely because the revolution went along with the workers, it mustered very much more strength than any rich, enlightened and advanced state could have mustered (Collected Works, vol. 32, pp. 153-4, 1921).

Two great moments on the sheer joy of revolution. First Lefebvre:

Between the moment of faith and that of joy there would be a place for the revolution …. Marxism … was a means to pass from the reign of faith to that of joy, or if one wishes, from the reign of faith to the reign of Spirit.

And then August Bebel on Engels’s weekend parties, which provided a small taste of what communism might look like:

On Sundays, Engels would throw open his house … On those puritanical days when no merry men can bear life in London, Engels’s house was open to all … We kept it up till half past three in the morning and drank, besides claret, sixteen bottles of champagne.

 

For Lenin, reform is known as ‘tinkering with wash-basins’ – that important stuff like water supply, electric trains, and similar matters. Unlike revolution, such tinkering does not endanger the foundations of what is called ‘the existing social system’. Not a bad way to describe the whole edifice of parliamentary democracy – tinkering with washbasins. See Collected Works, vol. 10, p. 189.

Tunisia, Egypt, Libya and now Yemen – increasingly the supposed experts are saying that facebook and twitter facilitated these revolutions. Apart from the obvious crap in such ‘opinions’ (the army is always key), Christina made a good point yesterday. Take a look at these pages from the protest leaflet from Egypt:

Sure, twitter and facebook get a mention – they are to be avoided at all costs, since they and other media (blogs etc.), are being monitored. Instead, the leaflet repeats the call to send by email, fax or print and hand them out. So much for the facebook/twitter revolutions.