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Mainstream, Vol XLVIII, No 18, April 24, 2010

Lenin

Monday 26 April 2010, by Jawaharlal Nehru

Remembering Vladimir Ilyich Lenin on his one hundred and fortieth birth anniversary on April 22, 2010, we are reproducing excerpts from the following article by Jawaharlal Nehru that appeared in The Hindu (April 5, 1928).

‘I know a pair of eyes which have been for ever numbed by the burning sorrow of the Terror,’ said Gorky of Lenin. This sorrow did not leave him to the end. It made him a fierce fanatic and gave him the strength of will to persevere and achieve. But sorrow for the misery of his fellowmen did not make him gloomy or reserved. He was ‘filled to the brim with the sap of life’, and even ‘in the unhappiest moments of his existence, he was serene and always prone to gay laughter’.

Lenin’s early years were typical of the man. When he was seventeen his elder brother was hanged for an attempt on the life of the Czar. He was profoundly moved but even then he saw clearly that nothing could be gained by terroristic methods.

‘We cannot succeed in that way; it is not the right way,’ he said. But that did not mean his giving up the struggle. He set about preparing in his own way. It was a long way and a wearisome way but quietly and persistently he worked at it for thirty years of his life. He did not suddenly develop into a champion of the workers. He paid little attention to speaking in public or writing, but set himself down to investigate and under-stand thoroughly the masses. In after years he had little patience with orators and fine speakers; he was always afraid of too many words preventing action. For him action was the only thing that counted. ‘Revolutions’, according to him, ‘must not remain on paper, they must be carried out in action; and the proper execution of even the most unimportant measure was more important for the existence of Soviet Russia than ten Soviet revolutions.’ Thus, as Maxim Gorky has said: ‘His heroism lacked almost all external glitter. It was the modest ascetic zeal, not seldom seen in Russia, of a revolutionary who believed in the possibility of justice on earth, the heroism of a man who, for the sake of his heavy task, renounced all worldly joys.’...

In Russia... the revolutionaries of an older generation lived in a world of theory, and hardly believed in the realisation of their ideals. But Lenin came with his directness and realism and shook the fabric of old-time orthodox socialism and revolution. He taught people to think that the ideal they had dreamed of and worked for was not mere theory but something to be realised then and there. By an amazing power of will he hypnotised a nation and filled a disunited and demoralised people with energy and determination and the strength to endure and suffer for a cause....

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