Russians shouldn’t bury Lenin until they uncover his lies
Russians must face up to Lenin’s brutal legacy – as Germans did Hitler’s.
Vladimir Lenin’s embalmed body has been on display in Moscow’s Red Square since 1924. Today, momentum is building to finally bury the man-god of Soviet Russia in a plot of common ground. Russia’s leading political party even hosted an online poll recently allowing Russians to vote on the idea. About two-thirds backed it.Skip to next paragraph
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Burying Lenin would be terribly dishonest. It would risk erasing the brutally violent communist legacy he spawned. His strain of socialism bankrupted Russia morally and economically, leaving it in many respects a third-world country – even today. It saddled the Soviet Union with an economy designed in the 1920s, symbolized by a hammer and sickle, trying to compete in the age of the microchip.
The Leninist promise of a new international world order became a stratagem as well as a devious excuse for restoration of the old Russian imperial empire. Lenin’s new communist world order promised to abolish colonialism and imperialism but it perpetuated both shamefully, enslaving millions beyond Russia’s borders.
It may be the Russian tradition “not to take your garbage outside the hut,” as one peasant proverb says, but it is important for present and future generations of Russians to understand that mere mortals never become gods. The Roman emperors never pulled it off; neither could Joseph Stalin or Mao Zedong.
Reminders of dangerous personality cult
When new nationalist saviors like current Prime Minister Vladimir Putin appear on stage, flaunting the same arrogance Lenin practiced with his messianic vision, Russians ought to be able to look at Lenin’s tomb for a chilling reminder that rigid, intolerant ideologies are usually flawed and destructive beyond imagining.
The cult of personality that Lenin and his heirs promoted led to gulags, mass famine, genocide, and other unspeakable evils. Russians need visible symbols like that granite mausoleum in Red Square to remind all of us of the crimes committed by leaders who are certain that there is but one true vision – theirs.
Learn history's lessons
History can be swept under the rug temporarily but it doesn’t stay there forever. Only recently did historians learn that Mao Zedong killed 45 million Chinese in a forced famine in the four years between 1958 and 1962.
Modern societies, if they are to remain civilized and cultured, require healthy doses of introspection, self-criticism, and atonement to prevent backsliding into medieval darkness and savagery.