Thursday, July 14, 2011

When Lenin was told to go fly a kite

Thanks to EV Grieve reader Tom for this photo... a view looking to the south toward Red Square on Houston ...


...and if you zoom in a bit...


And if you have a photo or two to share, we'd love to see them/post them... You may send to grieve98@gmail.com

8 comments:

Goggla said...

Wow, what a fantastic photo! Thanks for sharing.

Mykola ( Mick) Dementiuk said...

I never understood that building, was it the last Communist hold out after the Soviet Union fell? I'm at a loss because it certainly doesn't look very Commie.

Glenn Belverio said...

@Mykola New York, despite being in the U.S., was once a Soviet Bloc country. After the fall of the USSR, we decided to put the Lenin statue on top of a yuppie apartment building, just for laughs.

Tom said...

@Mykola - Here's a short NY Times piece about the building, Red Square, and its Lenin statue and askew clock:

http://www.nytimes.com/1997/07/27/nyregion/fyi-304999.html?scp=1&sq=red%20square%20lenin%20statue&st=cse

There are more detailed articles out there if you want to know more.

john penley said...

I think the Lenin statue was put there by Michael Rosen to give the first LES condo a radical element to deflect the anger over this gentrification beachhead. Richard Johnson formerly of Page 6 once lived across the street. He told me some Russian workers said to him while they were working on his Apt. that they wished they had a bazooka so they could blast Lenin. Too bad they didn't have one !!!

shmnyc said...

Lenin was the greatest political thinker of the 20th century. I'm glad there is a statue in NYC honoring him.

john penley said...

SHMNYC I am glad there is a crazy clock next to Lenin because it is a reminder how political systems often really work. Can you spell Government Controlled Police State. That statue should honor a real LES thinker Anarchist Emma Goldman. The person who put that there claimed to be a Marxist and he kicked off the white, Yuppie Lower East Side mass eviction goon squad NYU real estate takeover.

Mitchel Cohen said...

Hey John, Lenin was considered an ANARCHIST in his day by Russian and German Marxists. Yes, I understand and agree with many of today's anarchists' arguments against Lenin and vanguardism, but Lenin insisted -- virtually standing alone on this point with some anarchists -- that human beings could and must intervene politically and, through conscious exertions of will, overturn the relations of capitalism and achieve a free socialist society.
Such a bold, perplexing, and in some sense utopian assertion by Lenin was seen as the hallmark of anarchism back in the early decades of the 20th century.

Lenin's view -- that people, en masse, can exert their col­lective "will" in spite of all -- is more an ex­istential declaration than a Marxist one. Human will is shaped by -- and yet somehow has the ability to itself shape, transcend and transform -- historical conditions, even as the motion of the class within capitalism (according to Lenin of "What Is To Be Done?) precludes it from developing socialist consciousness as long as it remains "in itself," within its historically-pushed (and bound) motion -- that is, within its determinism.

The assertion that we can somehow "act freely to change the conditions preventing us from acting freely" is an age-old paradox. To me, it is supremely ironic that it was the "hard as nails" Lenin who held an almost utopian faith in the abil­ity of people to rise to the occasion and seize their destinies in their own hands (albeit only once the vanguard party had brought them the information they supposedly required), while so much of the so-called "democratic" socialist organizations in Western Europe and the U.S. co-opted working class political struggles into piecemeal "reforms," basically accepting the legitimacy of capitalist property relations. As I wrote in one of my pamphlets -- "The Shortcomings of Traditional Leftist Strategy" -- while some sectors of the working class did win im­provements in wage levels and conditions on the job, the forms those struggles were forced into (corporate union­ism, electoral politics, etc.), have overall served to enhance capital's control over more and more arenas of society, expanding its domination of daily life. No wonder that in his own day Lenin was considered an anarchist by many Marxists and social democrats -- a harsh charge for them, indeed.
Today, when leninism and anarchism are seen as polar oppo­sites within the radical left, the charge of "anarchism" against Lenin seems absurd. And yet, and this will no doubt come as a surprise to many on both ends of the spectrum, most an­archists share certain key assumptions with Lenin about the role of revolutionary organization -- the positive, almost utopian assertion that people can do something to change their conditions, everything is not predetermined; and the negative vanguardist strategy (yes, among anarchists, social democrats and liberals too) that sees the mission of revolutionaries as one of "raising the masses' consciousness" -- although the ways they've chosen to organize themselves to accomplish their self-designated duty may differ.

Mitchel Cohen
http://www.mitchelcohen.com