Making tyranny cool
By Toby Westerman
August 25, 2015

In early August, several media outlets reported on what seemed to be a comical, if not downright weird, occurrence: a contest encouraged by the Communist Party of the Russian Federation for the best "selfie" with a image of the architect of the Bolshevik revolution and founder of the Soviet state, Vladimir Lenin.

(It may be noted at this point that during his rule, Lenin also went by V.I. Lenin or Nikolai Lenin. His given name was Vladimir Ilyich Ulyanov).

The head of today's Russian Communist Party, Gennady Zyuganov, stated that he believed that participation in the "selfie" contest would broaden an awareness of Lenin and his historical contribution.

The methodology may appear unusual, but it is directly in line with Russian government attempts to foster a reverie for the old Communist state, if not an impatient desire for the return of some form of the Soviet Union.

For Communists, Lenin is the heroic figure who overthrew the bourgeoisie Provisional government which had come to power after the Tsar abdicated. Lenin established a Communist state and defended it against all enemies, those within and outside of Russia. This is the lesson which Zyuganov wants today's Russian youth to learn.

The idea is to make the image of Lenin alive to young people and encourage youth to find out more about Lenin. The Russian government of Vladimir Putin and the Russian Communist Party are standing ready to provide a "correct" version of Lenin's life.

The superficiality of the "selfies" masks Lenin's many crimes against humanity. The "incorrect" truth about Lenin is bloody and heartless. It was Lenin who founded the notorious and feared Bolshevik secret police, known by its acronym, Cheka. Thousands were imprisoned, and thousands more were murdered. Lenin took a Russia which had labored under Tsarist political oppression and made it into a totalitarian society in which everyone was under suspicion and neighbor spied upon neighbor.

The civil war he conducted against pro-Tsarist counterrevolutionaries was vicious and thorough. By orders which could have only come from Lenin (though there are still denials of his involvement), Tsar Nicholas and his family, prisoners since his abdication in March 1917, were cruelly murdered in July 1918, a brutal and senseless crime which the Communists themselves denied until the end of the Soviet era.

Lenin also began the Communist subversion of the West, even while his own political position was still tenuous. The United States, as well as various European states, were targets, with Communist agents focusing on leading literary figures, mass print propaganda, and especially the new and rapidly evolving movie industry.

Ironically, the same Lenin who brought about the Bolshevik revolution had to "renounce" state ownership in August 1921. The failures of his economic policies since 1917 made necessary Lenin's startling shift to a controlled capitalist economy, known as the New Economic Policy (NEP).

In reality, the shift to the NEP was carefully planned, and those engaging in NEP market activities were watched, and eliminated, if they appeared too much of a threat to the still ruling Communist Party.

Lenin knew, and had stated, that a return to overt Communist control would occur when economic circumstances permitted. Lenin's successor, the mass murder Josef Stalin, decreed the end of the NEP in 1928 and begin his relentless, and bloody, drive for "Socialism in one country."

Communist inspired "selfies" will not, and are not meant to, lead to a real exploration of Lenin's deeds. Pop culture is being used to continue old lies about Communism's central figure, a man who led his country from oppression into the nightmare of totalitarianism.

Let's hope at least some Russian youth dig a bit deeper into their past than a quirky photograph with a dead tyrant's statue. If that happens, Russia and the world will be better for it.

© Toby Westerman


The views expressed by RenewAmerica columnists are their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of RenewAmerica or its affiliates.
(See RenewAmerica's publishing standards.)

Toby Westerman

Mr. Toby Westerman is editor and publisher of International News Analysis Today ( Since 1996, Westerman has used English and foreign language materials to bring to public attention general trends and specific events that pose dangers to the American public but are either ignored or superficially treated by the centralized media... (more)


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