G'day Hugh,

I see Robert Service's new biography of Lenin is, whilst much more generous
and sublte than, say, Pipes's hatchet job, also pretty damning of Lenin's
philosophying.  Reckons he was nothing special as a theorist.  That said,
when Lenin got to apply his book-learning to reality, reality was cruelly
unobliging.  Service reckons he was very happy in that role - but as far as
I'm concerned, it would have taken a strange customer indeed to enjoy the
shape of things after 1919 ...

Anyway, coming from the Fromm/Jakubowski/Lefebvre side of the argument, I am
naturally quite comfy with the Smith and Cuckson piece.  I do reckon there's
too much of the 2I in Lenin, too much the denier of 'the sociality of
practice', too physicalist the diamatist, too much the natural scientist in
his approach to his species being, too much the demagogic saviour, and,
ultimately, the paver of the road to hell (down which Stalinism and
robber-baron capitalism were ultimately to march, alas).

For mine, there is no more reason to jettison the whole Lenin corpus than
there is to burn all our  Kautsky (the 2I was buggered philosophically, but
the beauty of one-sidedness is you do get an awful lot of good stuff on that
particular side) - there are great insights aplenty left in both (and, as
S&C remind us, ol' Plekhanov) - and maybe Smith and Cuckson are being so
urgently peremptory because they feel the need to pre-empt the inevitably
big splash Service's book'll make - but I hope we focus on the categories
S&C make salient, rather than do that old "Lenin was Marx in practice!" /
"No he wasn't!" quote-mongering dance, again.  We've an archive choc-full of
that stuff already, I reckon.

Your starter for five, Hugh!

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