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article imageOp-Ed: Russian president Putin implicitly criticizes Lenin

By Ken Hanly     Sep 6, 2014 in Politics
Moscow - Speaking at the Seliger National Youth Forum a summer camp for pro-government youth, Putin criticized the Bolsheviks who led the October Revolution and founded the USSR. Lenin led the Bolsheviks.
Putin accused the Bolsheviks of treachery because they undermined the Russian fight against the Germans in the First World War. Russia was allied with France and Britain at the time. After three years Russia was in dire straits with soldiers defecting and a great deal of public unrest. Lenin at the time called for turning the imperialistic war into a civil war and he led the Bolsheviks to power using soldiers, peasants, and workers against the Russian regime.
When Lenin died in 1924 he became part of a cult of personality with his body on display in a Mausoleum in Red Square. Leningrad was one of the cities named after him. In a sign of the times after the USSR fell apart the city became again St. Petersburg. Stalingrad met a similar fate. When Putin returned to power in 2012 he began to promote his own ideological views advancing a Russian nationalism, often associated with traditional values including support for the Russian Orthodox Church, and a strong anti-western stance. The Bolshevik's in contrast were internationalists who believed that the new Soviet State could survive only if there were a global communist revolution. Workers belonged to no state. Nationalist rivalry was used to pit workers in one country against those of another in the interests of rival capitals. An article in the New Yorker suggests that Putin has yet to adequately incorporate the Bolshevik revolution in his ideology: Was the 1917 Bolshevik revolution a national disaster that destroyed the imperial Russian statehood? Or was it the beginning of the Soviet state of which today’s Russia is a successor? In other words, since the Russian civil war did not end in a reconciliation, do we identify with the defeated Whites or with the Reds, led by Lenin, who exterminated them?
Putin is now leader of a country that has abandoned socialism but that has its own particular brand of crony capitalism dominated by oligarchs. However, Putin is to a considerable extent in control of the oligarchs as compared to the Ukraine in which the oligarchs dominate the government with president Poroshenko himself being an oligarch.
Ironically, the Russian form of crony capitalism was to a considerable extent a creation of the US itself and a group at Harvard University. Among the chief architects of the Russian privatization were Lawrence Summers and Andrei Schleifer of the Harvard Institute for International Development(HIID) In 1992 the Harvard-led reform of the Russian was front page news:
A 1992 front-page story in the Boston Globe (9/22/92), "Red Square Turns to Crimson," announced proudly that Harvard experts were advising Russia in its conversion to capitalism. "Privatization stands as the centerpiece of Russia's economic-reform program," wrote the Globe. It was an equation the "best and brightest" from Harvard would drum home again and again to the media: privatization equals reform. The piece quoted the head of the Harvard Russia project, Andrei Shleifer: "Once you work with Russians for two weeks, you become a free-market enthusiast."
However, the results of privatization were to concentrate wealth in the hands of the oligarchs and also lead to charges against some of those in the Harvard project as well. Most of the privatization took place during the presidency of Boris Yeltsin in the early and mid nineteen nineties: Privatization enabled Russia to shift from the deteriorating Soviet planned economy towards a market economy, but, as a result, a good deal of the national wealth fell into the hands of a relatively small group of so-called business oligarchs (tycoons), and the wealth gap increased dramatically.[1] It was described as "Catastroika"[2] and as one of the "most cataclysmic peacetime economic collapse of an industrial country in history"
Harvard University ended up settling charges against it, Schleifer, and another advisor to the tune of millions of dollars in 2005: Harvard will pay $26.5 million to the U.S. government to settle a five-year-old lawsuit that implicated two University employees, including its star economics professor Andrei Shleifer ’82, the Justice Department announced Wednesday. Shleifer, the Jones professor of economics, emerged far less scathed in the settlement, agreeing to pay just $2 million. He had faced damages of up to $104 million for conspiring to defraud the government while advising a U.S.-funded program to privatize the Russian economy in the 1990s.
Given this background to Putin's crony capitalism it is hardly surprising that Putin should be concerned about any group such as the Bolsheviks who threatened the stability of the status quo. Putin remembers 1917 as a time when "some were shaking Russia from within, and shook it to the point where Russia as a state collapsed and declared itself defeated". Putin no doubt was warning the youth group he was addressing not to repeat the historic events of 1917. He also spoke of the Bolshevik actions as betraying the Russian national interest:It was the Bolsheviks, after all, who “wished to see their fatherland defeated while Russian heroic soldiers and officers shed blood on the fronts of the First World War.”
Putin is obviously forging a new counter-revolutionary ideology that rejects the Russian revolution as playing any positive role in the development of modern Russia even though Lenin is regarded as a positive figure by more half of all Russians. However, a new poll released in August shows Putin with an 87 percent approval rating.
The enclosed video appears to show Putin crying during the playing of the Russian National Anthem. The anthem was first introduced in 1944 during the war but was briefly replaced after the dissolution of the USSR. It was then re-introduced with new lyrics. Until 1944 the USSR used the Internationale as the national anthem. Perhaps Putin has some Mongolian desert dust in his eye. I have also appended a video with Pete Seeger singing the Internationale.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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