Sunday, September 9, 2012

Lenin on political agitation, liberalism, & the Russian Orthodox Church

V. I. Lenin, 'Political Agitation and “The Class Point of View”' [Iskra, No. 16, February 1, 1902], in Lenin Collected Works, Vol. 5 (Moscow: Foreign Languages Publishing House, 1961), pp. 337-343.

Here is a sample:
 “What does our ’intellectual’, frivolous crowd that instigates and applauds the Stakhoviches care for the affairs of our sacred orthodox faith and our time-honoured attitude towards it?”... Once again, so much the worse for you, gentlemen, champions of the autocracy, the orthodox faith, and the national essence. A fine system indeed our police ridden autocracy must be, if it has permeated even religion with the spirit of the prison-cell, so that the “Stakhoviches” (who have no firm convictions in matters of religion, but who are interested, as we shall see, in preserving a stable religion) become utterly indifferent (if not actually hostile) to this notorious “national” faith. "... They call our faith a delusion!! They mock at us because, thanks to this ’delusion’, we fear and try to avoid sin and we carry out our obligations uncomplainingly, no matter how severe they may be; because we find the strength and courage to bear sorrow and privations and forbear pride in times of success and good fortune...." So! The orthodox faith is dear to them because it teaches people to bear misery “uncomplainingly”. What a profitable faith it is indeed for the governing classes! In a society so organised that an insignificant minority enjoys wealth and power, while the masses constantly suffer “privations” and bear “severe obligations”, it is quite natural for the exploiters to sympathise with a religion that teaches people to bear “uncomplainingly” the hell on earth for the sake of an alleged celestial paradise. But in its zeal Moskovskiye Vedomosti became too garrulous. So garrulous, in fact, that unwittingly it spoke the truth. We read on: "... They do not suspect that if they, the Stakhoviches, eat well, sleep peacefully, and live merrily, it is thanks to this ’delusion’.”

The sacred truth! This is precisely the case. It is because religious “delusions” are so widespread among the masses that the Stakhoviches and the Oblomovs,” and all our capitalists who live by the labour of the masses, and even Moskovskiye Vedomosti itself, “sleep peacefully”. And the more education spreads among the people, the more will religious prejudices give way to socialist consciousness, the nearer will be the day of victory for the proletariat —the victory that will emancipate all oppressed classes from the slavery they endure in modern society.

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