After the publication of his “April Theses” (1917) Zizek tells us, “Lenin discerned the Augenblick, the unique chance for a revolution,” and yet many of his fellow comrades of the time thought he’d gone mad. Bolgdanov considered the theses as “the delirium of a madman”, and Nadezhda Krupskaya commented: “I’m afraid it looks as if Lenin has gone crazy.” Yet, as Zizek relates,
“This is the Lenin from whom we still have something to learn. The greatness of Lenin was that in this catastrophic situation, he wasn’t afraid to succeed – in contrast to the negative pathos discernible in Rosa Luxemburg and Adorno, for whom the ultimate authentic act is the admission of failure which brings the truth of the situation to light” (6). 1
Further on in his essay Zizek tells us “Lenin” is not the nostalgic name for old dogmatic certainties; that instead, “the Lenin who is to be retrieved is the Lenin whose fundamental experience was that of being thrown into a catastrophic new constellation in which the co-ordinates proved useless, and who was thus compelled to reinvent Marxism…” (11). Is this not the same for our time, a moment of transition before so called global capitalism and its minions consolidate it’s new found powers even within the old camps of Russian and China? As Zizek says, “Lenin” stands for the compelling freedom to suspend the stale existing post-ideological co-ordinates… we are allowed to think again (11). Instead of a return to Lenin, as if we could, we should repeat his swerve, his fall – to, as Zizek tells it, “retrieve the same impulse in today’s constellation” (11). No, we cannot return to a failed history, to a nostalgia of the “good old revolutionary times”; no stage shows, no re-enactments; yet, we can instigate a repetition of the gesture of “Lenin” within our worldwide context of “reinventing the revolutionary project in the condtions of imperialism and colonialism” (11) in which we find ourselves both prisoners and tenants of a failure to act, to connect, to relate, to commune.
If your interested in the source works of Lenin the From Marx to Mao site has 34 of his volumes for download in pdf format: click here. There are also five volumes of Mao’s works, along with a cursory mix of volumes from Marx and Engles, etc.
1. Slavoj Zizek. Revolution at the Gates: A Selection of Writings from February to October 1917. (Verso 2011).