Below is a DeepL machine translation of a chapter from The Other Lenin a 2006 book by the comtemporary Russian writer Alexander Alexandrovitch Maysuryan on a Russian language website dedicated to Vladimir Lenin (a website that even uses the old Soviet internet appellation “.su”!) , the most important leader of the Russian Revolution and a founder of the Soviet Union. The machine translation reads surprisingly well. Apparently the quality of translations between various language pairs depends upon the amount of source – target language text assimilated by the machine translation system, the characteristics of the source and target languages, and the capacity of the machine translations system itself. While machine translated texts still have the poison cookie problem – fine until you run across an unknown fatal flaw — this reads well enough for casual use.
I used Google Translate for just part of the top page in Russian and its translation in Google Translate. Overall, DeepL seems a bit better than Google Translate, here I use GT since it preserves the appearance of the page. The body of the translation I made using DeepL. Except for formatting and adding some links, I haven’t make any edits to the DeepL Russian-English machine translation for I have forgotten my year of Russian language study I did a long time ago.
Google Translated followed by the original Russian language text.
I was first fascinated by the amazingly good quality of the translation (judging by the result; I’ve forgotten my little Russian) then got to thinking about comparative communism and historical circumstance vs. ideology.
Also that the book is by a contemporary Russian author, so the views on Lenin have a bit of how things turned out and how we see it now in it that makes it fascinating.
Also the tidbits.. I hadn’t known that Stalin ordered that Lenin’s widow be poisoned at her birthday party when she turned 70 in 1939. That was the end of her. I looked up on Wiki some old Bolsheviks mentioned in the Lenin piece too, so of them got killed off too.
Explore this Russian language website using Google Translate
Often the Russian Wiki was more complete, so I ran it through Google Translate instead of linking to the English language WIki page. You can use Google Translate to explore this Russian language website by clicking through links in the translation. A good method might be to use Google Translate for exploration then, once you have found an intriguing article, copy the Russian text into DeepL to get and even better translation into English or whichever target language you choose.
Ideology, History, Culture: A Tangled Web
My own view is that Communism isn’t Marxist although it is descended from it (people do get blamed for the misdeeds of their children and grandchildren sometimes…) , it was transformed by Lenin et al, I guess that is why they call it Marxist-Leninist or Marxism-Leninism (a subtle difference in there adj/noun vs noun-noun maybe) and became clearer with the break with the Socialist International that came with the founding of the Communist International in 1919 — ‘accept the Twenty-one Theses of Moscow or your party doesn’t qualify to join the new Communist International’. Tho calling everyone to the left of Attila the Hun a communist is an old and successful talking point of the U.S. right.
I am always impressed how interpretations of sacred texts change with time — I remember in grad school reading some old Chinese medical texts and being astonished how much the views of the commentators changed over 2000 years as they were heavily influenced by the ideology of their times, be in Buddhist or in the early 20th century trying to find, under the influence/criticisms of Western Medicine, to find a physical analog to the traditional metaphysical schema for understanding the dynamics of illness.
As far as China goes, it is in a different cultural zone from the West, and like everyone else, they interpret new ideas with reference to existing ones. The article by Prof Pang of Xiamen University that I translated goes into that. And many of the Chinese ideas about democracy and other ideas from the West were introduced to China through Chinese students in Japan. Though I find Chinese and Japanese culture to be very different ( i think hierarchy is even stronger in Japan than in China, xenophobia too), there was an important influence on early 20th century China.
Ideologies Manifested Through Lens of Particular Cultures and Histories: China and Russia
China boasts about having socialism with Chinese characteristics, I suspect most places have XX ideology with their national characteristics. I had the same thought when I read George Kennan’s book about the Marquis de Custine’s trip to Russia in 1839. Reading about Russia in those days made me feel that early 19th century Russia was very Stalinist!!
Comparative Soviet communism and Chinese communism is intriguing with some parallels and many pitfalls. Sometimes it feels best to fall back on the old standby – the Russians are Russians and the Chinese are Chinese – that today’s major characteristics are shaped by history and culture and not ideology. That is not entirely unreasonable. When I read George Kennan’s little book Marquis De Custine and his Russia in 1839, a summary translation/appreciation of the French Marquis de Custine’s four volume work (available on gutenberg.org in the original French La Russie en 1839) , I felt that vibe strongly! When I read about the Russian Empire and the Tsar’s government back in the mid nineteenth century, they did feel very Stalinist to me, no doubt as a naive reader.
Then who/what are we comparing? Both the Chinese and Soviet ‘Russian’ founding leader (Russia a bit tricky, Russia was the only of the Soviet republics not allowed to have its own Communist Party – probably because it was too dominant already) communist states shoved aside his early comrades – after Lenin died (maybe early enough to leave the legend (and jokes about) the kindly Grandfather Lenin and to shift the ‘blame’ to Stalin), Stalin treated the Old Bolshevik’s with extreme prejudice in the 1930s. To be fair, the Chinese were not to be left behind in the jokebook race: see Cultural Revolution Jokebook.
Mao and Lenin, Back Then and Now
Mao Zedong was a bit more gentle than Stalin, mostly putting them in prison, although his Red Guard henchmobs killed many of his real and imagined enemies. Russia had seventy years of a communist state before the USSR dissolved leaving black marketeers best equipped to revive capitalism, while PRC China had only thirty years of hard-line communism before Mao died and reform and opening began. This gave China and advantage in its transition to a market economy since many older Chinese entrepreneurs still survived and perhaps even more important, a large Chinese diaspora in Southeast Asia and elsewhere were ready to invest and perhaps even more important to provide entrepreneurial expertise and technology to the PRC.
Then we might be thinking of China today versus the old USSR. China had Mao, then Deng who reinterpreted Mao’s changing and increasingly paranoid thoughts (for an ‘all-powerful leader’ he was remarkably frightened about coup plotters all around him) to his own Deng Xiaoping Theory. The PRC’s current maximum leader, Chinese Communist Party General Secretary Xi Jinping, is coming out with his own Xi Jinping Thought on Chinese Socialism in the New Era. The international environments of the early USSR and early PRC had different international environments. A western and Japanese intervention tried to destroy the USSR while fighting between Tsarist loyalists (the Whites) and the Bolsheviks continued. Defeated Germany as a potential friend during the 1920s and 30s – the Luftwaffe was trained secretly in the Soviet Union and Russians and Germans both assisted the Republic of China against Japan until the Axis pact with Russia was signed – in fact Russia had a group of volunteer flyers – the Soviet Volunteer Group (operated in China during 1937 – 1941) comparable to the Flying Tigers (maybe call them the Flying Bears) who pulled out of China just months before the Flying Tigers got started.
The New China of the PRC felt likewise threatened in its early days by the US/UN intervention in Korea after it was invaded from the North invaded the South (which also gave Mao the chance to demonstrate his “leaning to one side” in favor of the Soviet Union) and sent in the Chinese Volunteer Army. After the Korean War (in China called [link to GT machine translation of the Chinese Baidu online encyclopedia to give a current PRC perspective on the Korean War] “The War to Oppose American and Assist [North] Korea”) , the PRC enjoyed a better international environment than had the Soviet Union, one more peaceful and stable in the US-led post World War II system that promoted global economic integration. China too eventually became a part of this international system and the WTO and prospered within it: the Soviet Union was always outside that system, in its own security and economic bloc.
China Integrated into World System Far More than was the Soviet Union
The PRC and other world economies are far more integrated than the Soviet Union ever was with the economics of countries outside the Eastern Bloc. This makes casual analogies to a new Cold War less apt — engagment is a matter of more or less engagement, not on/off as with the far lower level of engagment with the Soviet Union. Another factor was that the Soviet Union was doing “Communism in one country” while internationally it ran the Communist International to which the Communist Parties of other countries looked to Moscow as world Communist headquarters – The Twenty-one Conditions, officially the Conditions of Admission to the Communist International – after the Socialist/Communist internationals split in 1919-20. The Chinese Communist Party got critical support from the Communist International in its early days. Later the New China PRC developed in a different environment of communism in multiple countries, a polycentrism that gradually weakened Soviet dominance.
The Different Career of the Short Course in the History of the Soviet Communist Party in the PRC
How much did Chinese Communism absorb from Russian Communism? Many Chinese communists read works by Marx, Engels and Lenin and studied Stalin’s version — the Short Course in the History of the Soviet Communist Party. Changes were made in the history to suit the needs of the present just as Lenin’s works, translated in China in the early 1980s were massaged to provide support for Deng Xiaoping Theory.
The version of the history of the party described in the first edition of 1938 was significantly changed to match Stalin’s preferences and it changed during subsequent reprints, following the changes in party leadership.
Veteran Bolshevik leaders like Nikolai Bukharin, Lev Kamenev, Alexei Rykov, Leon Trotsky and Grigory Zinovyev, who conflicted with Stalin and were killed in the 1930s were described as “mensheviks” who from the very beginning “opposed Lenin and the Bolshevik party”. The names of Filipp Goloshchyokin and Nikolai Yezhov, initially described as “experienced leaders engaged in enlightening the Red Army” in 1938, were deleted from the book after both were arrested in 1939.
Its lies and suppressions were too obvious to be overlooked by readers who had witnessed the events in question: all but the youngest party members knew who Trotsky was and how collectivization had taken place in Russia, but, obliged as they were to parrot the official version, they became co-authors of the new past and believers in it as party-inspired truth. If anyone challenged this truth on the basis of manifest experience, the indignation of the faithful was perfectly sincere. In this way Stalinism really produced the ‘new Soviet man’: an ideological schizophrenic, a liar who believed what he was saying, a man capable of incessant, voluntary acts of intellectual self- mutilation.
Influence in China
Although the Short Course was eventually rejected by the Soviet leadership during the Khrushchev Thaw, its formulations, especially the idea that class struggle not only continued, but intensified as the state moved towards socialism, continued to be of fundamental importance in China, where Mao Zedong repeatedly attacked his opponents in the Communist Party of China as “capitalist roaders” and agents of bourgeois, counter-revolutionary and Kuomintang conspiracies. Mao felt that the Short Course best combined the teachings of Karl Marx and Vladimir Lenin as well as being a blue print to applying communist ideals in the real world. China was continuing to grow into a Marxist–Leninist state and that fully happened in 1949, making almost one third of the population of the world under the rule of Marxism–Leninism.From Wikipedia article “History of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (Bolsheviks)“
The Soviet Union had central economic planning; China never implemented it as thoroughly, perhaps partly because of the chaos involved in killing off the landlords, collectivization, the Maoist eruptions of the Great Leap Forward and the killing famine that followed and then the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution as Mao aimed to outdo to the Soviet Union by jumping straight to Communism, rather than making it a long-term goal as it later became.
When I worked in the U.S. Embassy in China in the late 1990s, a professor at Renmin University told me that during the Cultural Revolution, an essay by the PRC Ambassador to the United Kingdom circulated in secret (the professor had read it at the time) arguing that China must first pass through the stage of capitalism before it can become communist. Intriguing, but I have never been able to confirm that story.
China’s Sinicization of Marx and Lenin
What many Chinese Communists say today is that Chinese Communism, while it was inspired by the Germans Marx and Engels and the Russian Lenin, is not a foreign ideology. PRC Communist ideology has become thoroughly sinicized. Last year I ran across Xiamen University Marxism Institute Professor Pang Hu comparison of the sinicization of Marxism from the West via Russia through continual adjustment through practice in its new Chinese environment with the vitiation of once vigorous western brought in by Sun Yat-sen which were then weakened by their re-interpretation according to China’s traditional thought aka Confucianism. I translated Professor Pang’s article on this blog as 2015: PRC Marxist Scholar on the Sinicization of Marxism and the Confucianization of Sun Yatsen’s Three People’s Principles.
The article below on Lenin in the early Soviet Union (he only lived a few years after its founding) got me thinking about the above. Another Soviet Union – PRC comparison is how long the founding leader lived. Lenin died in 1923, USSR year six. Mao died in 1976, PRC year 27. History turned out that way. In some alternative history (perhaps in some parallel universe) Mao died in 1950, Liu Shaoqi became the leader and the influence of Deng Xiaoping grows. In that alternative universe, the new state doesn’t slaughter quite so many landlords, instead of collectivization China creates the contract responsibility system that incentivizes agricultural production [a myth widely propagated in China is that the contract responsibility system was created by rebel peasants in Anhui Province in the late 1970s. Actually it was proposed by Liu Shaoqi in 1953 but rejected as heresy by Mao. After the famine, Liu proposed it again and it was again rejected, the Great Leap Forward and succeeding famine and Cultural Revolution do not happen. While other problems might have shown up, an early PRC minus Mao would have been different. As a Chinese businesswoman told me angrily once, “Mao Zedong took us on a thirty-year detour!’
Now for the machine translation about Lenin in the early Soviet Union from a book by Alexander Alexandrovitch Maysuryan, a contemporary Russian writer. Made me think of anothe book: Orlando Figes’ The Whisperers: Private Life in Stalin’s Russia.
A reviewer criticized Maysuryan for focusing on only the more positive elements of Lenin’s personality and for glossing over his brutality. From its title, I imagine that The Other Lenin was written to correct what the author considered a prevailing one-sided view of Lenin. Correctives then can inspire other correctives and so on….
Alexander Maysuryan’s book The Other Lenin (M.: Vagrius) is a desperate attempt to give the “living corpse” (incidentally, the Mausoleum is once again open to the public) a glimmer of its former glow. The author movingly depicts the children’s amusements of the “inquisitive, mobile boy” and the sporting activities of the adult Ilyich: “he was very fond of all kinds of outdoor games: ‘town games, croquet'”, in Switzerland he “often went for a walk in the mountains”, and he took associates “on a bicycle 50-70 versts away”. Almost half a book is devoted to stories about how Lenin “played music,” was “fond of Nekrasov,” read Faust in the original and knew by heart “several tirades of Mephistopheles. Maisurian remains modestly silent about the cannibalistic exploits of Illich, hiding behind Lenin’s own quotation that “you can’t make a revolution with white gloves on. Sweetly repeating the fiery swearing of the fiery revolutionary in speeches and articles, the author finds “nice features” here, too. As it turned out, Ilyich easily forgot the insults he had uttered to his opponent, and “all that was said instantly forgotten.From unsigned review in January 2017 issue of Russian language publication “Profile” via DeepL translation.
If Chapter 13 below of The Other Lenin leaves you wanting more, you can get it by pressing the back Назад or forward Вперед buttons and then running the result through DeepL [the free version may not translate it all at one go, but you can get there by copying out the translation and then deleting the Russian text that has already been translated] or Google Translate. Назад Вперед For example Chapter 12 “THE REVOLT OF THE SLAVE-OWNERS.” Lenin went to Moscow to make more money, and stayed there and Chapter 14 “EVERY GOD IS A CORPSE.” Lenin killed a lot of people, but he helped build churches.
Другой Ленин – ГРАНИ РЕВОЛЮЦИИ
[The Other Lenin – The GRANGE OF REVOLUTION
Alexander Maysuryan Chapter 13]
FACETS OF REVOLUTION
Lenin ordered the transfer of rivers from Siberia to the West.
Vladimir Ilyich made an alphabet book.
Lenin created two laws – do not drink alcohol and study, study, study.
From school essays about Lenin
The October Revolution proclaimed as its goal nothing less than “rebuilding human life from top to bottom” (the words of Trotsky). Some things the revolution managed to change, some things didn’t.
“Our present way of life,” Lenin wrote in 1923, “combines in itself, to an amazing degree, the features of a desperately bold with timidity of thought in the face of the smallest changes.” “The force of habit of millions and tens of millions,” he remarked, “is the most terrible force.” “We began to shake and destroy the most inveterate prejudices, the most firm, age-old, inveterate habits.” “The past holds us, grabs us with thousands of hands and does not allow us to take a step forward or makes us take these steps as badly as we do.” “When a revolution comes, things do not happen as with the death of an individual, when the deceased is carried out. When the old society perishes, its corpse cannot be nailed into a coffin and put into a grave. It decomposes in our environment, this corpse rots and infects us. There was no other way in the world … and cannot be.
The defector Soviet diplomat Georgy Solomon recounted his conversation with Lenin in December 1917.
– We’re taking as far to the left as possible! – said Vladimir Ilyich.
“All this is very good,” Solomon objected cautiously. “Let’s say that you reach the very, as they say, leftmost corner … But you forget the law of reaction, this purely mechanical law … After all, you will fall back according to this law, who knows where! ..
– And great! exclaimed Lenin. – Fine, so be it, but in this case it speaks for the fact that we need to take it even more to the left! This is water for my own mill!.. And it is not for us, the old revolutionaries, to be afraid of both this experiment and the law of reaction. We will also fight against it, against this law!.. And we will win! We’ll rock the world…
– So far – I don’t know what will happen next – you only destroy …
“True, absolutely true, you are right. Right. We destroy, but do you remember what Pisarev says, do you remember? “Break, beat everything, beat and destroy! What breaks, then everything is rubbish, which has no right to life, what survives is good … “Here we are, faithful to Pisarev’s – and they are truly revolutionary – precepts, we break and beat everything, we beat and break, ha-ha-ha , and here is the result – everything shatters to smithereens, nothing remains, that is, everything turns out to be rubbish, holding on only by inertia! .. Ha-ha-ha, and we will break and beat!
“I don’t quite understand you, Vladimir Ilyich, I don’t understand some kind of gloomy, grumbling pathos that so clearly beats in your words … But here’s what. All of us, the old revolutionaries, have never preached destruction for the sake of destruction, and have always stood… for the destruction of only that which life itself has already condemned, that is falling…
“And I think that everything that exists has already become obsolete and rotten!” Yes, my good lord, it is rotten and must be destroyed!…
“The farther we bend to the left,” Lenin liked to repeat, “the closer the resultant will pass to us.” In 1921, he recalled the words of Engels that “there is, apparently, a law requiring the revolution to advance further than it can handle in order to consolidate less significant changes.”
In one of his speeches, Vladimir Ilyich remarked: “Those who have been in the countryside know that 30 years ago a lot of old people could be found in the village who said: “But under serfdom it was better, there was more order, there was strictness, the women were luxurious. they didn’t dress.” So now, after the revolution, many people praise the bygone order; but change is inevitable…
Let us see how the planned changes took place in various areas of life and what part Lenin himself took in them.
“Latching places of gold.”
Lenin tried to destroy one of the cults that underlie modern society – the cult of money, or, as he put it, “the golden bag.” It is in this sense that one should understand his famous words about “gold toilets”. “When we win on a world scale,” he wrote in 1921, “we, I think, will make public latrines out of gold in the streets of several of the largest cities in the world.”
And in the first years the revolution really went very far in the fight against the “money bag”. The money itself depreciated and turned into crisp, decorated candy wrappers, “banknotes” – millions and billions (as it was then called, “lemons and lemonards”). Lenin called them “multi-colored pieces of paper that fly by the billions and now clearly reveal that they are a fragment, scraps of old bourgeois clothes.” Chastushka of those years:
A beggar asks at the gate,
Served by a Soviet thousand.
He threw a thousand on the sand – He
asks for a piece of bread.
Lenin joked: “The Russian ruble can be considered famous, if only because the number of these rubles now exceeds a quadrillion.”
Payment in kind and exchange triumphed everywhere. One of the decrees introduced free admission to theaters and other spectacles – only a note was made about this in the work book. It seemed that one more step – and the money could be completely abolished. Gone are such professions as a banker, a manufacturer, and just a big merchant… The most famous Soviet caricature of Vladimir Ilyich (drawn by Denis in 1920) depicted him as a janitor with a broom, sweeping all kinds of evil spirits from the globe – kings – kings in ermine robes, priests in black cassocks, millionaires with tight sacks of gold…
True, instead of large-scale trade, small-scale, street trade flourished. The liberal newspaper Sovremennoye Slovo wrote in February 1918: “All the streets, squares and boulevards are filled with small merchants… The shops are empty. Shops are boarded up… Now the street is selling. Here you can get everything, for all tastes, for all needs…
“From an engraving and an old clasp to a pornographic postcard and old galoshes.
“From Kraft chocolate to bright red dog sausage.
“Bourgeois”, big “bourgeois” – at the last gasp… A new “owner” is coming… Petty, greedy, tenacious, furious for profit… Here it is – the future bourgeoisie – in headscarves, jumping from the cold, wrapping overcoats, excitedly shouts out his product:
– Canned food! Different things! Gingerbread!…
In Moscow, the famous Sukharevsky market became the center of small trade. In December 1920, speaking at the Congress of Soviets, Lenin solemnly announced the closure of this, as he put it, “unpleasant institution.” Applause resounded… “Sukharevka” is closed,” continued Vladimir Ilyich, “but it is not the Sukharevka that is scary that is closed. The former “sukharevka” on Sukharevskaya Square has been closed, it is not difficult to close it. The “sukharevka” is terrible, which lives in the soul and actions of every small owner. This “sukharevka” must be closed …
And after another couple of months, in 1921, the country suddenly rebelled. The Kronstadt uprising broke out, the Tambov uprising flared more and more, strikes began in Moscow. The rebellious Kronstadt sailors sang ditties:
The All-Russian Commune
Has ravaged us to the ground,
The Communist dictatorship Has brought us to the edge
We drove out the landlords,
We waited for the wills, the land, We
shook off all the Romanovs, We
found the Communists.
Instead of freedom and land
, they gave us the Cheka,
And they planted Soviet farms
here and there.
There are no matches, no kerosene,
Everyone sits with torches,
Under the Bolshevik commune They
only eat cards. And the peasants
rose up in Russia For the land, And in Izvestia everyone writes: “The kulaks rebelled.”
Get up, peasant people!
A new dawn is rising –
Let’s throw off the shackles of Trotsky, Let’s
throw off Tsar Lenin! ..
The newspaper of the insurgents of Kronstadt printed the statements of the local Bolsheviks, who left the party in tens and hundreds… The revolutionary power staggered. It turned out that the peasants wanted not only to get rid of the landowners, but also to trade freely. “Large masses of the peasantry,” said Lenin, “not consciously, but instinctively, by their mood, were against us.” According to him, this created “a danger many times greater than all the Denikins, Kolchaks and Yudenichs put together.”
“If we do not defeat it, we will slide back like the French Revolution.”
And the pendulum abruptly swung back … The whole country turned into one continuous Sukharevka. Large-scale trade began to boil, and “sovburs” (Soviet bourgeois) immediately appeared in the light of day. Expensive shops and all kinds of amusements for the rich opened. A leaflet by the Petrograd Mensheviks in 1922 said: “Down with the money! yelled the communists. And now? .. The calf reigns again: if not real, then from gold leaf … Along with the hopeless need – all the new rich. For their joy, luxurious shops are full of all kinds of overseas goods, gramophone music rumbles, rivers of wine flow, gambling houses are full until morning. And all this for the glory of the October Revolution.” And the former Left Socialist-Revolutionary People’s Commissar Steinberg noted with condemnation: “Under NEP … the bones of the old world began to come to life easily.”
Gambling houses and casinos have become a real symbol of the NEP (“new economic policy”). Journalist N. Arkhangelsky in 1922 in the journal Rossiya described the everyday life of a Soviet casino: green tables littered with piles of banknotes … “And around these tables people crowd – men and women, seized by the only passion recognized here – card gambling. Eyes burn with an unhealthy gleam, fingers convulsively reach for banknotes, and each of the players is gripped by a special tense feeling – the hope of winning, successfully grabbing these millions and billions with their hands in order to throw them back on the table – in a new hope of doubling, tripling, doubling the winnings … Women do not lag behind men in passion – they even surpass them. Here is a red-haired beauty – with milky-white skin, with wonderful mermaid eyes, with a magnificent, artistically done hairstyle. Huge diamonds in my ears on graceful legs, covered in silk and magnificent lacquer, bracelets, also with diamonds. Bust – in diamonds and pearls. But all these “brilliant” effects are not enough for her: in her hair and on the clasps of her shoes, there are fractional, like pearls, electric bulbs. From time to time, the beauty presses the button of an electric battery hidden in her pocket, and her head lights up, like fireflies on a July night, and stars light up on her legs, like in a black southern sky … A small well-groomed pen, chained in gold and studded with precious stones, carelessly reaches for a golden reedikil with jingling pendants and takes out a bundle of credit cards.
– A billion! – the coral mouth of the beauty raps out.
And when the bet turns out to be beaten, the same mouth, with the same nonchalance, repeats:
The magazine “Red Pepper” in 1923 placed a cartoon: people with sabers and rifles take a person out of the casino. The foreigner, looking at this scene, asks with concern:
“Tell me, citizen, what is it?” Red terror resumed?
– Not. In Moscow, the police escort home those who have won big …
Of course, even in 1920 the Bolsheviks could not have imagined in a nightmare that such scenes would be played out in reality in the country under their leadership. To Lenin himself, this seemed unthinkable. He spoke about freedom of trade: “We say: we will never agree to this, we will rather lay down our bones than make concessions in this … We will fight against this to the last drop of blood.”
“What kind of merchants we are,” Lenin sighed. But now he himself urged his comrades to “learn to trade.” It sounded quite shocking. One of the listeners objected:
“They didn’t teach us how to trade in prisons.
Vladimir Ilyich considered such objections the clearest manifestation of Oblomovism. He responded immediately and indignantly:
“Did they teach us how to fight in prisons?” Did they teach you how to manage the state in prisons? ..
Only the authority of Lenin made it possible to accomplish this whole fantastic turn relatively gently. Vladimir Ilyich realized that if the Bolsheviks themselves did not want to take the path of “Thermidor” (that is, “counter-revolution”), then the country would do just fine without them. And they will, no doubt, have to “lie down with bones” in the literal, and not figurative, sense. “Thermidor”? wrote Lenin in 1921. Sober, maybe? Will be? We’ll see.” “The revolution faces some kind of abyss,” he noted, “on which all previous revolutions stumbled and backed away …” In a conversation with the French socialist Jacques Sadoul, Lenin said:
The Jacobin workers are more insightful, more firm than the bourgeois Jacobins, and had the courage and wisdom to Thermidorize themselves.
The leader of the Bolsheviks happily echoed the Smenovekhovite N. Ustryalov: “The revolution is no longer the same, although it is headed by all the same familiar faces … But they themselves were forced to take the path of Thermidor … The path of Thermidor is in the rebirth of the tissues of the revolution, in the transformation souls and hearts of its agents…” “I don’t know if Demyan Bedny is right that the monuments of Volodarsky and Sverdlov are crying with large tears, contemplating the faces of today’s Moscow and St. comparing the personalities of the leaders of the two revolutions: “At one time, the French Jacobins were unable to feel the new conditions of life – and perished. Neither Robespierre nor his friends possessed a talent for tactical flexibility.” “Lenin is more flexible and sensitive than Robespierre.” “We have embarked on the “path of Thermidor”, which we, unlike France, will, apparently,
And the old Vekhovets A. Petrishchev caustically ridiculed such dreams: “I understand the irritation of that reader of Change of milestones who said:
“Wait, lads. Already Thermidors. Not far off and the Brumers. Then Napoleon. Then Ludovic will come… Oh, those soap bubbles. Tired of them… And how will people not get tired of it…» Like the previous sharp turns, the transition to the NEP was not easy for Lenin. N. Volsky relayed the story he heard from the Bolshevik Alexei Svidersky: “At one meeting, Lenin said:“ When I look into your eyes, you all seem to agree with me and say “yes”, but if you turn away, you say “no”. You are playing hide and seek with me. In that case, let me play with you one game adopted in parliaments. When no confidence is expressed in parliaments against the head of government, he resigns. You expressed distrust of me during the conclusion of peace in Brest, although now even fools understand that my policy was correct. Now again you express no confidence in me on the issue of the new economic policy. I draw the conclusions adopted in the parliaments from this, and hand over my resignation to the two highest instances – the All-Russian Central Executive Committee and the Plenum. I cease to be the Chairman of the Council of People’s Commissars, a member of the Politburo, and turn into a simple publicist writing in Pravda and other Soviet publications … “By the threat of resignation, Lenin frightened everyone so much that he immediately broke down the disagreement expressed by many.”
Despite their temporary victory, the Sovburs and Nepmen felt the precariousness and fragility of their “second coming.” (It ended, as you know, at the end of the 1920s.) After all, the rich man ceased to be a respectable person, respected in society, an example for everyone to follow: in this the revolution was successful. A characteristic joke of 1924 (from the Zanoza magazine):
– And why are you, Polikarp Fedotovich, killing yourself. Before the war, you were the first guild, but now the NEP … Only the whole difference …
– Tell me! – Nepman bitterly objects. “Before, I was a guild, and now everyone is shouting to me: “rotten, de, I! ..”
A well-known anecdote of those years – a NEP man with a child walking along Red Square.
– Dad, what is it? the boy asks, pointing to the Mausoleum to his father.
This is Lenin’s grave.
– And what is Lenin?
– Lenin is, son, our grave …
The “latrines made of gold” conceived by Vladimir Ilyich remained a dream. Perhaps, this idea found an unexpected embodiment only in the famous “golden toilet bowls” of the “new Russians” in the 90s. The golden toilet of a rich man reborn from the ashes is the real completion of Lenin’s dream, in which it turns into its complete opposite … However, is this not the fate of all human ideas in general?
By the way, in the jokes of the 90s, Vladimir Ilyich met with this, the next generation of Russian “bourgeois”: “At the crossroads, an antediluvian armored car crashes into the back of the six hundredth Mercedes. A “new Russian” in a crimson jacket jumps out of the Mercedes, fingers fanned out, ready for battle. And from the armored car comes an uncle in a gray coat and cap, with a red beard. The uncle screwed up his kind, kind eyes and said to the “new Russian”:
– And you, my friend, stopped at the wrong anecdote. Felix Edmundovich! Please shoot this bourgeois.”
“Don’t young people like the word ‘comrade’?”
Of course, the Bolsheviks saw the fight against money as part of a wider war against private property in general. Sometimes Lenin was proved that the desire for property lies in the very nature of man. He responded to this argument as follows: “The feeling of ownership is by no means a primordial human instinct. When a person wants to own something… he does it in order to make his struggle for existence easier. No one wants to own what is already enough for everyone. In the deserts, everyone takes care of their wells, but where there is plenty of water, not a single reasonable person will protect it … “
The Bolsheviks believed that if, instead of mutual struggle, brotherhood was established in society, people would stop clinging to property. The word “comrade” served as an external expression of these new human relations. This word was introduced into general circulation by the February Revolution. In those days, it was not used except in relation to the former king and queen. The American journalist John Reed described such a case: “The lady of one of my friends returned home one afternoon in hysterics: the conductor in the tram called her “comrade”!”
Vladimir Ilyich considered such a dimensionless understanding of “partnership” to be erroneous. In June 1917, he declared in one of his speeches: “The wolf is no friend to the sheep.”
And yet, in red Russia, the address “comrade” was applied to almost everyone. Very soon, notes of bureaucracy, insincerity sounded in him. In friendly communication, other, more cordial words began to supplant him. “This word is “comrade,” said Lev Kamenev in 1918, “it has been erased like a coin from repetition, but this is a great word that embodies that future system in which people will not be wolves to each other, but comrades, will live as a friendly family. In the 1920s, Lenin himself, with some annoyance, asked Komsomol member Ekaterina Loginova: “Don’t young people like the word “comrade”?” His interlocutor replied that she liked it. “Then why do you treat each other with the word “brothers”? ..”
Later, a joke appeared in Soviet folklore: “Under capitalism, man is a wolf to man. And under socialism? Comrade wolf.
Nevertheless, the appeal “comrade” lasted until the very “restoration” of the 90s (and in the Russian army it remained in the 21st century). In 1991, P. Negretov, a reader of the liberal magazine Ogonyok, called for the rapid introduction of the appeal “Mr. “Mr. Lieutenant!” – how wonderful it sounds and how beneficial it is for both sides – for the one who addresses, and for the one to whom they address … Together with the restoration of private property, the old appeals will return to us the lost sense of dignity.
Ironically, the old-fashioned address “sir” returned to everyday life in 1991, just when huge queues lined up at the empty stores. What gave rise to the ditty:
While the meat was put in cabbage soup,
We were comrades.
And when the food ran out,
“gentlemen” immediately became …
Lenin as a nudist.
The tabloid-erotic press of Russia in its own way reflected the coming of the Bolsheviks to power: as the onset of an era of permissiveness. In a drawing in one of these publications in November 1917, an astonished housewife asks her cook, who is walking around the kitchen naked, in only an apron and a handkerchief:
“Why are you like this?
– And in the tail (queues. – A.M.) they said: “The Bolsheviks will come, they will take everything off you!” So I took everything off myself in advance! .. “
In another drawing, a well-dressed gentleman is playfully interested in a naked girl splashing in a bath:
– What party do you belong to?
“Can’t you see that I’m a Bolshevik,” she answers languidly, “I don’t even have a shadow of any shame! ..
Perhaps the nudist movement that flourished in the young Soviet Republic has become the most striking symbol of sexual liberation. The poet Goldschmidt became especially famous for his shocking demonstrations, who appeared before the public not only naked, but also painted with brown paint “under the nave”. From the liberal newspaper Sovremennoye Slovo for April 1918: “The Bolshevik futurist walking half-dressed through the streets, Goldschmidt, made Moscow laugh by erecting a monument to himself in a flowerbed in front of the Bolshoi Theatre. A small figurine of him in the nude, with a dog biting his heel, was opened by him according to an established ritual. In front of a bunch of onlookers and passers-by, he uttered a heartfelt word, and then pulled back the covers.
The famous dancer Ida Rubinstein performed naked on stage, which also seemed shocking and unusual in those days. Rumors about all these liberties also reached the White Guards, who in 1919 released a satirical poster “Rising prices for men’s suits in the Soviets.” According to the poster, the price of clothing has risen so much that it was “unaffordable” for ordinary Soviet citizens. They involuntarily roam the streets naked. The caption reads: “In the Bolshevik paradise, you can walk around naked, hiding behind the newspaper “Communist” …
Among the thousands and thousands of monuments to Lenin, there is probably not a single one that depicts him naked. Meanwhile, the author of such a sculpture would not have sinned much against the truth of history – after all, Vladimir Ilyich was also a supporter of nudism.
The nudist (naturist) movement arose in Germany and Austria at the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries. The naked body for naturists has become a symbol of a return to nature, a natural and healthy lifestyle. On beaches and other places of recreation, naturists spent time without clothes, thereby challenging the sense of “false shame” and social conventions. Nudists preached sobriety, smoking cessation, gymnastics, vegetarianism. In Russia, among the supporters of this movement were such prominent figures as Leo Tolstoy and Maximilian Voloshin. Nudism won sympathy among Russian revolutionaries as well. Which was not at all surprising – after all, naturism was seen as something of a continuation of the revolution in the field of culture and health.
While in Austria, emigrant Vladimir Ulyanov visited a nudist beach, and this visit made the most favorable impression on him. He spoke out strongly in favor of the “healthy lifestyle” that nudists preached. These ideas were also shared by Lenin’s wife, Nadezhda Konstantinovna Krupskaya. Other prominent Bolsheviks also belonged to the number of supporters of nudism – for example, Anatoly Lunacharsky, Nikolai Bukharin, Alexander Bogdanov …
In 1917 Vladimir Ilyich returned to Russia. After European looseness, the domestic beach (in the summer of that year) made a depressing impression on him: deserted, with lonely bathers, who, embarrassed by their half-dressedness, timidly hid behind the bushes.
“Here, abroad, this has already been surpassed,” Lenin remarked to Bonch-Bruevich, who accompanied him. – There is nowhere such space and, for example, in Germany, on the lakes there is such a colossal need for bathing among the workers, among the public walking on holidays, and in the hot summer every day, that everyone bathes there openly, right from the shore, next to each other, and men and women. Isn’t it possible to undress neatly and go for a swim without hooliganism, but respecting each other? scandals in this regard. This must be resolutely fought … We have a lot of work ahead of us for new forms of life, simplified and free; without the priestly unctuousness and hypocrisy of hidden libertines.
A year later, Russian beaches took on a completely different look. The tabloid newspaper “Moscow Ringer” in the summer of 1918, under the heading “Freedom of Bathing”, described a characteristic scene:
“- Disperse! .. No place for mulberries! .. Hey, what’s wrong?
– Freedom, comrade… What are you driving?..
– I say, what are you gathering here? .. Disperse! .. I will shoot! .. – shouts a fellow policeman.
In what the mother gave birth bathers “loose formation” lie along the embankment. The audience from the tram letter “A” bursts into loud laughter, while others do not know what to do with their eyes. And, oddly enough, in such disputes then it was not the puritanical militiaman who won, but the liberated bathers …
In his writings, Lenin, although he does not mention nudism directly, several times venomously ridicules “the most disgusting example of a withered and anemic, hysterical old maid, proud of her barren moral purity … who coyly insists on the need for a fig leaf.”
By the way, the last Russian emperor, Nicholas II, was also a nudist. (A film has been preserved: a naked sovereign dives into a river, and his household bathes in the same costume.) At the end of the 20th century, there was even such a joke among Russian nudists: “If Lenin and Nicholas II met in some nature club, then maybe and the revolution would not have happened.”
For several years, Russia turned out to be “a country of victorious nudism.” Delegations of Soviet nudists in the 20s were the most numerous at international nudist conferences. On the basis of nudism, mass children’s recreation also developed – in the pioneer camp “Artek” all the children swam without clothes (which is confirmed by archival filming).
A turn in relation to nudism was outlined in 1924, shortly after the death of Lenin. Satirists Ilf and Petrov ridiculed the nudist-klutz in the biting feuilleton “Ideological Nikudykin”. Magazines began to print sarcastic jokes like these – a customer in a store is indignant:
“Aren’t you ashamed to hang around like that?!
“I, a citizen, am a member of the Down with Shame Society.
Demonstrations without clothes on city streets were banned. Nudism was finally forced out into the sphere of family recreation. However, here, too, its mass character made an indelible impression on foreigners in those years. Pulitzer Prize winner H. R. Knickerborger described his journey in 1931 along the banks of the Moskva River. He turned out to be a guest of a real fantastic “country of nudists.” Here are his observations: “Thousands of men and women, girls and boys, children in their arms, grandparents play games, eat picnic provisions, swim in the river or just take air baths, basking in the sun … Most of the picnic participants , young athletes and older people are completely naked … A group of young men compete in the long jump. Fifty of them are in the pit for jumping, or waiting for their turn. They are all undressed. There are no girls among them but soon half a dozen girls in light summer dresses, passing by, stop to watch the jumps… On the other side, a group of girls are playing handball. They are naked… Below, in the river, several hundred women of all ages are swimming, splashing or just talking, knee-deep in the water. Nobody pays much attention to them.”
From his observations, the guest drew the following curious conclusion: “Taking off clothes is the most radical leveling action that can be taken by mankind… With nakedness, class distinctions disappear. Workers, peasants, office workers suddenly become just people. This, in a nutshell, sets out… the main goal of the Soviet revolutionaries. That’s why… this summer in the Soviet Union, on each of its rivers, on the shores of all its lakes and seas, literally millions of men and women swam and sunbathed under the sun without clothes, naturally, as if it could not be otherwise.. .”
Marriages in the Russian Empire were concluded in the church, and therefore only the church could divorce the spouses. It was incredibly difficult to obtain a legal divorce through a spiritual consistory. Already February 1917 tried to facilitate this procedure. In the satirical drawings of those days, church marriage was depicted in the form of heavy chains that tightly bound the unfortunate spouses. Of course, the simplification of divorce met with sharp opposition from the Orthodox Church. In one of the cartoons, the new chief prosecutor of the Holy Synod, appointed by the revolution, angrily threatened the churchmen: “Your Eminences! Two more words against divorce – and I will force you to open even the Trinity Bridge! .. “
However, only the Bolsheviks had the determination to cut the Gordian knot of the previous marital relationship. “One cannot be a democrat and a socialist,” Lenin wrote resolutely, “without immediately demanding complete freedom of divorce, for the absence of this freedom is an extreme oppression of the oppressed sex, women.” The decree signed by Lenin in December 1917 was just as categorically called “On the dissolution of marriage.” Instead of a church marriage, a civil marriage was introduced, and its dissolution was a hundredfold facilitated. “Petrogradskaya Gazeta” in 1918 reported on the consequences of this decree: “Probably, few of Petrograders know that the old red tape of the divorce case has gone “into history” … Unaccustomed to the new judicial procedure, the litigants literally turn to stone with amazement when they hear the verdict on divorce.
– Already?! – with indescribable disappointment, the exclamations of husbands and wives are heard more than once, immediately freed from the chains of Hymen, which have become a burden to them.
The country’s first civil marriage was between People’s Commissar Alexandra Kollontai and sailor Pavel Dybenko. Soon, the young spouses seriously offended the new government – and Lenin joked: “I personally think that execution will not be enough punishment for them. Therefore, I propose that they be sentenced to fidelity to each other for five years.”
The magazine “New Satyricon” in 1918 scoffed in every possible way at the new orders in the field of marriage. One note: F. Sologub recounts an excerpt from a conversation overheard on the street:
– You know, she (obviously, Kollontai. – A.M.) got married.
– What do you! Did they get married in a church?
– Well, why not! I just wrote it down in my notebook.
We are sure that the method of recording a perfect marriage in a notebook will soon be abandoned as a bourgeois method. Just a wink is enough – and the marriage is perfect. For our part, we also offer the easiest way to divorce: one of the spouses drowns the other in the Fontanka. This is not a consistory rigmarole for you!”
The magazine also laid out a clever “way” to get rid of an annoying cook. After the revolution, it became almost impossible to simply dismiss the useless servants – their rights were reliably protected by the new government. On the other hand, it was possible to enter into a legal marriage with the cook, and then instantly divorce and immediately put her out – after all, it was worth nothing now to part with your wife …
In the summer of 1918, the liberal newspaper The Devil’s Pepper Pot printed a parody of the usual lawyer’s ad: “In divorce cases, there’s nothing to go to lawyers. Go to the sausage shop and get divorced. Another joke of that time: “It is forbidden to enter into a civil marriage more than 17 times a day” …
True, in some places in the villages the decree on the dissolution of marriage was understood in a very peculiar way. As the newspaper “Vse!” in August 1918, in a village near Tsaritsyn, the peasants demanded that the priest fix the secular divorce in the church. The priest refused: “There is no rite of divorce.” Then the peasants came up with their own idea: “The guilty wife was dressed in matting, they gave an old broom in her hands, they decorated her head with nettles, they hung large posters on her chest and back with the inscriptions:“ I am a divorced wife ”, and arm in arm with a triumphant husband, to the sound of basins and frying pans, with whistling and whooping, were led through the whole village to the house of her parents.
The opposition Petrograd newspaper Era in July 1918 broadcast conversations in the corridors of the people’s court. Here the court immediately divorced some young woman, and even awarded her money for a child.
“The woman’s face beams with pleasure.
— How kind. I didn’t even ask for money! she says cheerfully…
– Look, how soon! One or two, and divorced! ..
“Easier than getting on a tram!”
“Here, brother, they’ll get married in a minute!”
– How long can you do it?
“Do you think it was better before, or what?” some woman in a white headscarf, with a middle-aged, sickly-pale face, warmly intervenes. – Before seven years it was necessary to wander around the consistories and how much money to waste. And now…”
The Bolsheviks went even further – they completely equated the actual marriage with the official one. Illegitimate children acquired all the rights of “legitimate” children. “We issued a decree,” Lenin noted, “which abolished the difference in the position of a married and illegitimate child …” “We left no stone unturned in the true sense of the word from those vile laws on the inequality of women, on the restrictions of divorce, on vile formalities, surrounding it, on the non-recognition of illegitimate children, on the search for their fathers, etc. – laws, the remnants of which are numerous in all civilized countries. (These revolutionary innovations persisted until 1944.)
However, the fathers of illegitimate children still had to pay alimony “temporarily”, for six months. In one of the cartoons of the early 1920s, a man looks at a rooster with envy: “Here is expanse for roosters: two or three johns, a dozen children and no alimony!”
In another drawing, a line of Virgins with babies (Smolenskaya, Three-handed, Satisfy sorrow, Kazanskaya, Pochaevskaya …) lined up to God himself. Old man God exclaims in horror: “Damn it! Each of them to pay a third of the salary for the maintenance of the child? Why, no salary is enough for this!”
In the 1920s, temporary, short-lived marriages became widespread in Soviet society. The magazine Down with the Gods wrote in 1923: “Recently, we have an epidemic of “divorces”. What explains it? First of all, the fact that now there is no need to secretly cheat on an unloved wife or a hated husband. You can get a divorce openly … Then, now there are fewer hunters to unquestioningly endure the beatings of their drunken husband … “Leo Trotsky explained what was happening as follows:” Even the introduction of the institution of civil marriage could not but deal a cruel blow to the old, consecrated, ostentatious family. The less personal connection there was in the old marriage, the more the external, everyday, in particular ritual, church side played the role of a bond. The blow to this latter turned out to be the same blow to the family… That is why the family staggers, disintegrates, falls apart, arises and collapses again…
“Such a diversity of marital relations,” Alexandra Kollontai noted in 1918, “has never been known to history: an inseparable marriage with a “stable family” and a transient free relationship nearby, a secret adultery in marriage and an open cohabitation of a girl with her lover – a “wild marriage”, pair marriage and “threesome” marriage, and even the complex form of “foursome” marriage, not to mention the varieties of prostitution for sale… The forms of modern marital communication are contradictory and confusing.” “So it was, so it will be! There is nothing more erroneous than this saying … There is nothing to hide: the old family is dying off.
Lenin also believed that “a revolution is approaching in the field of marriage and sexual relations,” consonant with the social revolution. However, not only liberals, but also right-wing socialists disapproved of the overbroad scope of the Soviet “sexual revolution”. The former Socialist-Revolutionary activist Pitirim Sorokin in 1922 noted with alarm in one of his speeches that the family was “decaying”: “A healthy society is impossible without a healthy family. The collapse, both spiritual and biological, has gone too far here, accelerating the extinction and degeneration of the Russian people through sexual diseases. It’s time to stop this disaster.”
At the same time, Sorokin published an article in the independent Petrograd magazine The Economist, where he condemned “sexual debauchery, a frivolous attitude towards marriage.” He noted a significant number of divorces in the city: 92 cases per 10,000 marriages. “The figure is fantastic … These figures say that modern legal marriage is a form that conceals essentially extramarital sexual relations and enables strawberry lovers to “legitimately” satisfy their appetites.”
Lenin read this article, and the discussion about “strawberries” led him into violent indignation … He published a reply to Sorokin, where he accused him and the magazine of preaching “serfdom.” “If 92 divorces per 10,000 marriages seems to Mr. Sorokin a fantastic figure, then it remains to be assumed that either the author lived and was brought up in some … monastery fenced off from life … or that this author distorts the truth in order to please the reaction … The actual number of actual divorces… is immeasurably higher everywhere. Russia in this respect differs from other countries only in that its laws do not consecrate hypocrisy.”
Lenin noted that none of the Western democracies was able to ensure the freedom of marriage and divorce, to protect all the rights of illegitimate children. Russia is the first country in the world to achieve this. As for the supporters of family “serfdom”, it is high time they were “politely escorted” to the West. “There is a real place for such serf-owners.” And these were not empty words – although the Economist magazine continued to be published even after this “discussion”, within a year its employees (and P. Sorokin) were sent abroad at the direction of Lenin.
The deportations in 1922-1923 affected many “Old Vekhites” (they were taken to the West by the famous “philosophical ships”). In connection with this, the following anecdote appeared: “The Slavophil philosopher, who is being expelled to the West, says:
– Of course, it hurts to leave Russia. But rather than lie in your native holy land with a bullet in the back of your head, it’s better to stomp on the accursed Parisian boulevards.”
“Scratch a communist and you will find a philistine.”
The revolution generally simplified and made more free communication between the sexes. The boundaries of speech decency have expanded, and it has become possible to discuss previously unthinkable, taboo topics. Boys and girls began to be taught together in schools (which was not the case in Tsarist Russia).
The very habitual relationship between husband and wife, according to the plan of the Bolsheviks, was subject to a complete change. “In all civilized countries,” Lenin said, “even the most advanced, the position of women is such that it is not for nothing that they are called domestic slaves.” Women “remain in ‘domestic slavery’… crushed by the smallest, blackest, heaviest, most mind-numbing kitchen work.”
In 1920, Lenin remarked to Clara Zetkin: “Unfortunately, one can still say to many of our comrades: “Scratch a communist and you will find a philistine.” Of course, you need to scrape a sensitive place – his psyche in relation to a woman. Is there any clearer proof of this than the fact that men calmly watch women wear out in petty work, monotonous, exhausting and absorbing time and effort, work in the household; how their horizon narrows, their minds dim, their heartbeats become sluggish, their will weak… A woman’s domestic life is a daily sacrifice of herself in a thousand insignificant trifles… We must eradicate the old slave-owning point of view to the last minute its roots…
These words fully coincided with the general mood of the 1920s. And these moods can be judged by the popular ditties of that time:
I’ll come home,
I’ll plump with a swoop:
Down with the trough,
Shitvo and the kitchen!
Who does not call
his Wife: comrade, – You can’t
Water with such a oak tree.
Devils in the sky
It will be hot,
If the state is
ruled by a cook!
A. Kollontai wrote about the ideal of a new woman: “Before us is not a female and the shadow of a man, before us is a personality, a “Man-woman” …
True, in life this peppy scope sometimes got bogged down in an impenetrable swamp. Even in relation to such a striking feature of the old “domostroevsky” life as domestic beatings. The conjugal fist for millions of women remained a more tangible and much more indestructible power than the power of the king himself. In the drawing by I. Malyutin in 1925, a worker beats his wife with a saucepan right under the portrait of Lenin.
“Leave it, Herod, the murderer! Forgot what Comrade Lenin said?
“M-shut up, fool! .. Maybe Lenin didn’t know that I was married.”
It cannot be said that the revolution completely eradicated domestic assault. Perhaps she managed to achieve only the “equality” of the spouses in this matter. In the 60s and 70s, a new figure became familiar on the pages of the humorous press: a wife waiting for a drunken husband with a kitchen rolling pin in her hands. Western journalist Karl Crane quoted Nikita Khrushchev as saying to a female audience: “In tsarist times, a man, offering you his hand and heart, said:“ I will love you like a soul and shake you like a pear … ”Today you yourself beat their husbands. This proves that we are on the road to communism.”
“The custom of beating children has not yet been abolished.”
The Bolsheviks banned the custom of corporal punishment of schoolchildren (flogging with rods), which existed in Russia until 1917. This abolition turned out to be final (at least until the beginning of the 21st century, flogging in schools was never restored). The fight against domestic corporal punishment of children has been far less successful…
In 1920, Lenin spoke with two Japanese journalists. He asked them curiously:
“Gentlemen, is it true that in Japan they never punish children or beat them?” I read about it in one book.
“Yes,” answered one of his interlocutors, “we do not beat children. They take care of them more than in the West. In general, in Japan, a kind of cult of children …
“Don’t they even give you a slap?” asked Lenin.
– Not. We never hit children.
Yes, they are wonderful people! exclaimed Lenin enthusiastically. “This is real culture. This is very important. Indeed, in the most so-called civilized countries of Europe, in Switzerland, for example, the custom of beating children in schools has not yet been completely eliminated …
Vladimir Ilyich added that he and his comrades were “resolute opponents of all corporal punishment, and above all in relation to children.”
Of course, the revolution within the school walls was not limited to the abolition of birch rods. The very behavior of schoolchildren in the classroom has become much more relaxed, freer. The gymnasium uniform was abolished (it was reintroduced in the 1940s). The satirist Dol in 1917 in the liberal magazine Lukomorye described the “revolution” among children:
Scared your mom.
Kolya raised the banner: –
Away with birch porridge,
Since the will has come! ..
– Cancel without delay, –
Calls are heard, –
The entire multiplication table,
Mountains and bays! –
In the demands of the rack: –
Ban soon forever
All colas and deuces! – A
Bolshevik of the same class
Inserted, full of ardor: –
To spit, so that Mama
Balaban bought us !!! –
Joyful streams of will
burst into their hearts.
How, bourgeois teachers,
you haven’t given up yet?!
“The unconditional repeal of all laws against abortion.”
The Bolsheviks legalized abortion for the first time in Europe. As early as 1913, Lenin advocated “the unconditional repeal of all laws prosecuting abortion.” He attributed the right to abortion to “the elementary democratic rights of a citizen and a citizen.”
On November 18, 1920, Lenin signed a decree authorizing abortion. From now on, all women have the right to artificially terminate a pregnancy during the first three months. As Leon Trotsky believed, in the future, “the very concept of legislation on abortion and divorce will … sound little better than memories of brothels or human sacrifices.” Any prescriptions of the law in family and sexual life will become superfluous.
The press savored the fashionable topic with pleasure, printing articles, poems and drawings about the “right to have an abortion” (not always approvingly). Some journalists noted with alarm the outbreak of the “abortion pandemic”. Sometimes the theme of abortion was combined with the equally fashionable theme of theomachism. For example, in 1924, in a cartoon by Konstantin Gotov in the Crocodile magazine, the pregnant Virgin Mary was looking at a street theater poster. The performance was called “Abortion”. The Mother of God exclaimed sorrowfully; “Why, why didn’t I know before!”
True, the common joke turned out to be double-edged: soon such jokes were already told about the mothers of the leaders of the Soviet state …
Despite the right to abortion, the birth rate in Red Russia increased in the 1920s. This was facilitated by the famous “maternity leave” for women – it began two months before the birth of the child and ended one and a half months after the birth. All this time the woman received a full salary. In 1920, 21.7 babies were born per thousand people in Russian cities, and in 1923 (after abortion was allowed) – 35.3. In 1927, there were already 45 births per thousand people.
“Freedom of abortion” in the USSR remained until June 1936, when abortion was again banned. From now on, a woman who made an underground abortion was threatened with public censure or a fine, and more severe punishment awaited the doctors who committed it. The ban led to a new surge in the birth rate: the number of newborns in Moscow increased by 65 percent. But the number of infanticides has also risen sharply.
The writer Andre Gide, who visited the USSR at that time, disapproved of the law. “The recent law on the prohibition of abortion,” he wrote, “plunged into despair all those whose low wages do not allow them to create their own home, start a family. He plunged many into despair for other reasons as well. Were they not promised in connection with this law something like a plebiscite, a nationwide discussion, the results of which were to be reckoned with? The vast majority spoke out (though more or less openly) against this law. Public opinion was not taken into account, and, to everyone’s amazement, the law passed. The newspapers printed, of course, only approving remarks. In private conversations that I had with many workers, I heard only humble reproaches, timid complaints.
Lenin and non-traditional forms of love.
One of the decrees signed by Lenin canceled the old tsarist Code of Punishment, which provided for penal servitude for sexual relations between men. Soviet Russia was one of the first countries in the world to decriminalize same-sex love. For comparison: in Britain, the criminal prosecution of homosexuals was canceled only in 1967, and in West Germany – in 1969.
In 1925, the Soviet physician Grigory Batkis, in his book The Sexual Revolution in the Soviet Union, explained the established point of view on homosexuality and sodomy (sexual intercourse with animals) as follows: nobody’s interests are affected… As for homosexuality, sodomy and various other forms of sexual satisfaction, which are considered by European laws to be a violation of public morality, Soviet legislation treats them in exactly the same way as so-called “natural” intercourse. All forms of sexual intercourse are a private matter.”
In the summer of 1918, the poet Ioann Pavlushin developed the following project in the Moscow newspaper Our Sermon in the Moscow newspaper: in order to improve the human race, the whole society should give up childbearing for ten years. “With these words, I do not want to say that we will have to not copulate for 10 years – no! It is possible and even necessary to copulate, but all safety precautions must be put in place, and only beautiful children should be given … A child from three beautiful generations should become the property of the state and be in the position of a factory queen or a factory male … Of course, with such reforms I foresee in advance the bias of human love towards animals, and even with copulation with the more graceful and interesting breeds of them … Then only a person can again feel in paradise and among the animals that he will take and to which he will in turn give himself. .
I need a woman as a body, A
beautiful boy for delight.
And for love and ecstasy
I need a purebred dog.
Perhaps the most famous supporter of same-sex love in Russia in the 10s and 20s was the poet Mikhail Kuzmin (symbolist, then acmeist). He deliberately did not hide the nature of his intimate life, preached it in verse and prose, and in general behaved with unusual emancipation for that time. Kuzmin welcomed the February Revolution, and then the October Revolution (he even once called himself a Bolshevik). He dedicated poems to the 1917 revolution:
The Russian revolution – youthful,
chaste, good –
Does not repeat, only sees a brother in a Frenchman,
And passes along the sidewalks, simple,
Like an angel in a working blouse.
“Journal of Journals” on this occasion caustically remarked that “M. Kuzmin, before the revolution, among all the proletarians, only bath attendants distinguished him with love. And posted these verses:
He had fun with the goat for a long time,
He stubbornly praised the attendants,
Though we begged with tears:
– Kuzmin, it’s embarrassing! Here are the ladies…
Now, having sewn a huge red bow
to the chest of the lascivious muse,
He praises, like a dandy in love,
The face of an “angel in a working blouse”…
The very first close friend of Kuzmin at the turn of the 19th-20th centuries was Georgy Chicherin, later a well-known Bolshevik. They had been friends since their high school years, and their extensive correspondence has been preserved. Chicherin, a descendant of an old noble family, was considered the most refined and “aristocratic” among the Bolsheviks. In the last years of his life, he wrote a book about Mozart and remarked: “I had a revolution and Mozart, the revolution was real, and Mozart was a foretaste of the future …” Like Kuzmin, Chicherin did not hide his non-traditional sexual orientation.
In May 1918, Lenin appointed Chicherin People’s Commissar for Foreign Affairs. Evidently, Vladimir Ilyich was of the opinion on this question, which (on another occasion) he once expressed thus: “Eccentricity is not a violation of the duties of a socialist and democrat… It is impossible in a big party without big eccentrics!”
True, after the revolution, Chicherin met Kuzmin only once, in 1926. They talked like old friends, on “you”. The People’s Commissar thoughtfully asked: “Why do you publish little? Do you write a little? .. “
In the diary after this meeting, the poet wrote: “A general sensation with Chicherin. Everyone is surprised that I didn’t ask him for anything, but I think it’s better this way.” In 1929, Kuzmin published his last large book of poems, The Trout Breaks the Ice…
Lenin did not see anything wrong in admiring male beauty. L. Fotieva recalled that once they started talking about one people’s commissar. “Vladimir Ilyich asked me: “Is it so beautiful?” “I didn’t notice,” I replied. Another time, Vladimir Ilyich stood for a long time at the bedside of a sleeping 13-year-old boy in a friend’s apartment and, moving away, said: “A handsome boy.”
Not all Bolsheviks shared a tolerant attitude towards same-sex love. So, in 1907, Maxim Gorky (then a Bolshevik) wrote about the work of decadent poets: “All these are old slaves, people who cannot help but confuse freedom with pederasty, for example, for them the “liberation of a person” is strangely mixed with displacement. it from one garbage pit to another, and sometimes even reduced to the freedom of a member and – nothing more.
Since the mid-1920s, the attitude of society towards same-sex love began to gradually return to the former, pre-revolutionary one. Now it was called “disease”. And since March 1934, it has turned into a “crime”: in the USSR, criminal prosecution for sodomy was restored. From now on, the perpetrators faced up to five years in prison, and this law was widely applied until 1993. In May 1934, Maxim Gorky (who had already become a non-partisan) wrote triumphantly in Pravda: “In a country where the proletariat manages courageously and successfully, homosexuality, which corrupts youth, is recognized as socially criminal and punishable, and in a “cultural” country of great philosophers, scientists, musicians (Germany. – A. M.), he acts freely and with impunity. There is already a sarcastic saying: “destroy homosexuals – fascism will disappear!”
However, neither Kuzmin nor Chicherin were affected by the new law. Both of them died in 1936.
“Our youth have gone berserk at the ‘glass of water’ theory.”
Lenin, like other Bolsheviks, had a negative attitude towards prostitution. A. Kollontai explained this attitude: “Nothing devastates the soul so much as the evil of the forced sale and purchase of other people’s caresses. Prostitution extinguishes love in the hearts; Eros flies away from her in fear, afraid to stain his golden wings on a mud-splattered bed.
Lenin saw something similar to prostitution in any sexual relationship without love, even if it was a “legal marriage.” Meanwhile, it was precisely this attitude towards sex that won out during the revolution. People “did not have enough time” for falling in love, romantic love. The famous theory was born that the satisfaction of sexual feelings should be taken lightly – something like draining a glass of water.
In 1918, the liberal newspaper The Cry of the People condemned: “Today, as in 1905, a number of unions of free love have arisen. Members of the unions arrange real orgies, Athenian nights, where they give full rein to their desires, which, according to their concepts, are “true freedom”. The newspaper cited the anthem of one of these unions:
Away with reason! Burn the body,
It will be colorful, bright, bold!
A daring, youthful choir will burst out;
All in the abyss, all in the fire!
Let there be collapse, fires all around, –
In our heart there is a whirlwind, fumes!
There is a thrill of caress in our hearts – Masks
fall off deceitful faces ! Who is mad in pleasure, He will understand where there is oblivion! What awaits us? And death and hunger! Everything is in the abyss – after all, you are young! .. The moment is dear to us! Drink joy. There is still sweetness in the glasses!.. In the hour of ecstasy, in the hour of desires, Life will flash with a million facets. Better burn yourself in victory
Than die a pale death.
So drop the chains from your body, Throw
yourself boldly on the feast of the beast ! Our gods are moments, fairy tales, Our gods are glances , caresses… Beauty and passion are sacred That’s where the gods are, the bottom of the sea !
Aleksandra Kollontai was a resolute opponent of the “glass of water” theory. “Modern man has no time to “love,” she noted with regret in the same 1918. – In a society based on the beginning of competition, with the most severe struggle for existence … there is no room for the cult of the demanding and fragile “Eros” … How many valuable hours for the “business” take on one “dating”! Later, in the 1920s, Kollontai developed these thoughts: “In the face of the formidable face of the great rebel – the revolution – the gentle-winged Eros (“god of love”) had to fearfully disappear from the surface of life. There was neither time nor excess of spiritual strength for love “joys and tortures.” Therefore, according to Kollontai, in the days of the revolution, “plucked, wingless Eros” – “the bodily attraction of sex” won. But the time of winged Eros will yet come. “What will this new transformed Eros be like? The most daring fantasy is powerless to capture his appearance.
Kollontai’s regret about the death of “winged Eros”, apparently, was shared by Lenin to some extent. He did not like the fact that the freedom of love turned into “freedom without love.” He told Clara Zetkin:
“I, an old man, do not like it. Although I am least of all a gloomy ascetic, the so-called new sexual life of young people – and often adults as well – quite often seems to me … a kind of good bourgeois brothel. All this has nothing to do with the freedom of love, as we … understand it. Of course, you know the famous theory that in a communist society, satisfying sexual desires and love needs is as simple and insignificant as drinking a glass of water. From this theory of “a glass of water” our young people went berserk, they went berserk. This theory has become the fate of many young men and women… I consider the famous “glass of water” theory to be completely un-Marxist and, moreover, anti-social… Of course, thirst requires satisfaction. But will a normal person under normal conditions lie on the street in the mud and drink from a puddle? Or even from a glass, the edge of which is captured by dozens of lips?
“I don’t have the slightest sympathy for the “glass of water” theory, even if it was labeled “liberated love.” In addition, it is not new … You probably remember that this theory was preached in belles lettres around the middle of the last century as “emancipation of the heart.” In bourgeois practice, it turned into the emancipation of the body. The preaching at that time was more talented than it is now; how things stand in practice, I cannot judge.”
Lenin was aware that on questions of sexual life he was in the minority.
“I know, I know,” he remarked, “I am also suspected enough of philistinism in connection with this. But I take it easy. Yellow-mouthed chicks, barely hatched from the egg of bourgeois views, are always terribly smart. We have to put up with it, but we do not intend to “correct” ourselves.”
At the same time, he made the reservation: “Nothing could be more false than to start preaching to young people monastic asceticism and the holiness of dirty bourgeois morality …”
Lenin defined his ideal in the field of sexual life as “open free love.” He explained it with such negative examples: “Not a monk, not Don Juan, but not a German philistine, as something in between.” And from what, in fact, should love be free? Lenin in one of his letters listed: first of all, from monetary settlements and material worries (this is the main thing), and in addition:
– from religious prejudices;
– from the prohibition of daddy etc;
– from the prejudices of “society”;
– from the bonds of law, court and police …
The freedom to dissolve marriage introduced by the revolution continued in the USSR until 1944, when the law again made marriage almost indissoluble. Of course, Lenin’s statements against the “glass of water” theory served as the rationale for these new measures. It’s funny that now the authorship of the “glass of water” theory itself was attributed to … Alexandra Kollontai.
“They promise bread, but they give a stone.”
It hardly needs to be argued that nutrition is far from the last topic in any revolution. Among the revolutionary slogans, “culinary” ones are sure to sound. Of course, this was also the case with the October Revolution; the sailors and Red Guards who stormed the Winter Palace sang with pleasure the ditty of the futurist poet Vladimir Mayakovsky:
Eat pineapples, chew grouse.
Your last day is coming, bourgeois.
As you can see, the revolution immediately included symbolically luxurious dishes (pineapples and hazel grouses) in the ranks of the culinary “White Guard”. The fight against them at that time was also facilitated by the general lack of food. The American socialist Albert Rees Williams said that the menu was changed in the National Hotel in Moscow, where Lenin settled in March 1918: “The new, Soviet regime, first of all, abolished exquisite and expensive dishes here. The large number of dishes that made up dinner was reduced to two. You could get either soup and meat, or soup and porridge.” So, according to Williams, the rule was: “No one should eat cakes until everyone has received bread.”
If you leaf through the Soviet press of 1918-1919, it is striking that one of the main topics for jokes and caricatures is writing (or rather, its lack). Characteristic note: “It is reported that the famous artist B. I. Kustodzhiev, fascinated by one topic, cannot start work due to the lack of nature.
“I need,” the artist explains, “a plump Russian woman with dimples on her elbows.
The task is indeed difficult in our hungry time.
Horse meat suddenly became the most luxurious dish. The Menshevik newspaper “Always Forward!” in 1919, Ellen epicly asked in verse:
Tell me, cutlet from “horse meat”,
“Where did you grow up, where did you bloom”?
What kind of animal or cattle
were you a living part? ..
Joke: “In the kitchen.
— Listen! What are these horse meat cutlets, I have nothing, but why are they so small?
“Very simple: they are made of ponies.”
“The horses of Baron Klodt have not yet been eaten,” ironically reported in the summer of 1918 the newspaper “Devil’s Pepper Pot”. A popular ditty of that time is also dedicated to horse meat:
Lenin said to Trotsky:
Let’s go, Leva, to the market.
Let’s buy a brown horse, Let’s
feed the proletariat.
It is curious that it was in the hungry years of 1918-1919 that the famous poetic cafes became famous in the capitals: “The Tenth Muse”, “Red Rooster”, “Musical Snuffbox”, “Pegasus Stall” (and here, too, there was a “horse” theme) .. They feasted mainly on underground traders and raiders. Journalist L. Vasilevsky in 1919 described what this luxury of the era of “war communism” looked like: the wall of the Moscow cafe of poets-imaginists “Domino” was decorated with a shocking slogan “Lord, calve!”, And black pants hung nearby served as the highlight of the decoration. “Elegant, pale, “cocaine” type waiter girls flash by. They make their way between closely spaced tables in a commercial way, deliver meat dishes, coffee, tea, biscuits and in the most bourgeois way, although maintaining a mask of negligence and satiety on their faces, collect tips money … On the counter stands cold veal, slices of white biscuits… Whose stomachs are designed to satisfy all these things? Take a closer look at the visitors, and it will become clear to you that there is a tiny handful of literature here – she huddles in the corners and drinks five-ruble glasses of tea with saccharin. And a “real” guest, a “serious” one, is anyone, but not writers, not poets, not people of spiritual interests … “
But poetic cafes still served the “elite”, and what kind of food could a simple person please himself in those years? In 1919, the Moscow Socialist-Revolutionary newspaper Delo Naroda talked about the famous Sukharevsky market – the center of the capital’s trade (essay by K. Burevoy):
“Here is the diner… People are rubbing against each other; crush, crush. The pleasantly tickling smell of fried food stimulates the appetite. Pots, pans, entire tanks sizzle; boiled, heated, roasted…
– Fried sausage is hot! Ham! Salo, salo!
– And here is hot millet porridge! Come on! Come on, come on!..
The porridge is real, it smells good. Eat 13-14 p. portion. You can get rubles for 5-10 small buns, a glass of hot milk for 6-7 rubles, a portion of fried potatoes with horse meat for 15 rubles. There are a lot of hot pies and cheesecakes. There are many hunters for this delicacy … There are even real white cakes and cookies. Lots of bacon, ham… butter…
Huge samovars stand on the tables, from which the audience is treated to tea and coffee. Sugar is sold right there: for twenty 8 pieces. Lots of sweetness…
An elderly lady in a hat and pince-nez sells potato cakes:
– Take it, take it! 5 rub. thing!
And here are the red-cheeked village women. They exchanged a lot of various goods and materials for bread, and with difficulty, scattering and picking up purchases, they drag them with shining faces.
By selling flour and bread, the peasants and dealers (“bagmen”) frankly enriched themselves at the expense of the impoverished urban population – and this caused indignation among many. Ordinary bread or flour was the hardest thing to buy. Sergei Razzyava in 1919 in the same “Case of the People” published “The Poem of the Roll”:
Ah, bun, bun!
About her, about lush,
Like a sigh of the steppes, I sigh
I grumble rebelliously
About her, about her!
I want elastic,
Blush white, Like a
day – stronger.
I’m flying like a blizzard,
Like a frantic one,
After her, after her.
I’ll give it blindly
Through laughter and tears,
My goodness, –
And all the Soviet deputies,
And the executive committees,
And the economic councils, –
Everything – for her!
On the caricature of Alexei Radakov, Prime Minister Lenin (with angel wings behind his back) on the occasion of May Day 1918 presented a worker with a red flower on a platter:
“Here, my dear, eat. Red clove. Your favorite dish.
– Eh! To this dish and a side dish of potatoes, but beef !!”
In the drawing by the artist Mikhailov-Severny, an emaciated woman in a kokoshnik (Russia) asked Lenin: “Give bread, breadwinner.” Overlaid with piles of signed decrees, he brushed aside: “Wait … You see, things are in full swing.”
Curiously, a similar scene actually happened during one of Lenin’s visits to the former Michelson factory. An old woman said to him:
“They would give us more bread!” He replied:
Yes, we don’t have any bread. This is true. But we will have it… Here we will beat the whites – and then we will have bread… And who promises you bread immediately? Enemies… But keep your eyes open: they promise you bread, but they give you a stone.
Vladimir Ilyich himself was also not completely alien to thoughts about the “bun”. In December 1919, in a conversation with a Samara resident, he dreamily remarked: “Yes, Samara … I remember what wonderful rolls they baked there! And now, probably, the Samara people eat real bread, and we have to be content with a surrogate … “
In the newspapers of 1918, one can still find advertisements for anti-obesity drugs: “Your stomach is growing exorbitantly. You are flabby, become stooped, inelegant. You have a sluggish stomach … Put on an elastic male belt … obesity will decrease. In the press of 1919, such advertisements are no longer found. The feuilletonist Otsoli cheerfully wrote in the Red Devil magazine: “Some diseases, such as: excessive fullness, lack of appetite, spleen, sugar disease, etc., have completely disappeared from the environment of bourgeois society.”
The Bolshevik P. Lepeshinsky recalled how in the summer of 1918 he received Vladimir Ilyich and his wife at his home. The owner treated the guests to the most chic dish at that time – horsemeat dumplings. Lenin had nothing against horse meat, he often ate it while in exile and emigration and found it “very tasty.” “But alas,” Lepeshinsky continued, “neither Ilyich nor Nadezhda Konstantinovna touched our “luxurious” treat. The presence of white flour testified to the fact that here, apparently, there had not been a deal with some bagman – and this was a very reprehensible thing at that time – and, in all likelihood, both of my main guests decided not to betray their modest habits adapted to the era of the brutal struggle against bagging. Lenin politely explained that he was unwell, and therefore he would not be able to eat dumplings.
The attitude that the underground grain trade evoked in the summer of 1918 can be judged from this occasion. (It was described by the opposition Blue Journal.) Some woman decided to sell baked bread in addition to milk at the market. The indignant crowd grabbed the loaf from her hands and threw it into the river … Following the bread, the merchant herself almost flew into the water.
By the way, another folk ditty of those years “convicted” Trotsky and Lenin of precisely this indecent crime – bagging.
Lenin said to Trotsky: “
I got a sack of flour.
For me – Easter cake, for you – matzo,
Sometimes Lenin, like many in those years, had to drink carrot tea at home. The color of this drink resembled strong brewed real tea, it even felt a faint sweet taste. Instead of sugar, saccharin was often added to tea.
“Isn’t it carrot tea?” Lenin laughed. – Especially when there is no Indian. Hot and very good…
An employee of the Council of People’s Commissars, Elizaveta Koksharova, recalled the following scene: one of the peasants who met with Lenin “took a loaf of bread out of his knapsack and solemnly handed it to Vladimir Ilyich.
“You need bread here,” said the peasant.
Vladimir Ilyich was very embarrassed.
“I don’t even have time to eat it all,” he joked.
This ancient custom – to give a loaf of bread – has been going on since the days of serfdom, when the peasants considered their master, or even the father-tsar himself, to be such a gift … Lenin himself perfectly understood this parallel. “They send them like a gentleman,” he complained about such gifts. – How do you get rid of it? Refuse, do not accept – offend. And everyone is starving. Nonsense”. Peasants did not give loaves to Lenin’s comrades-in-arms.
V. Bonch-Bruevich told another story about bread, dating back to 1918. At that time, bread was not given out on cards every day – sometimes it was replaced with oats. And the barmaid Lisa, who was serving tea to the head of the government, once complained bitterly in public:
– Well, how can I go to Vladimir Ilyich. There is not a piece of bread, and they called that it will not be today …
The lamentations of a girl in a white apron were heard by a casual visitor to Smolny – some kind of soldier.
– How, – he was amazed, – Vladimir Ilyich does not have bread to drink tea? .. Well, no, this will not happen, with whom, with whom, but with our Vladimir Ilyich I will share all the latest …
“And with a deft movement of his shoulder he dropped the bag; from behind the top he took out a large folding knife, wiped it on the top of his boot, then on his hollow overcoat, took out a round soldier’s loaf of bread from the bag, pressed it to his chest and cut off a good weighty crust with one stroke.
– Here, bring it to him, tell him that from the front, from a passing soldier …
“Lisa blossomed, smiled, and solemnly, sticking her tray forward, quickly, like a duck, rushed to the cabinet doors.” A minute later, Vladimir Ilyich himself looked out from there:
– Thank you, comrade, this is the most delicious bread I have ever eaten …
Such touching stories, included in Soviet anthologies, were poisonously ridiculed by the folklore of the 70s:
“War, winter, famine, cold. Dzerzhinsky comes to Lenin and sees – Lenin is sitting and drinking hot tea as a bite. Felix Edmundovich says:
“Why don’t you put sugar in your tea, Vladimir Ilyich?”
“So it doesn’t dissolve anymore!”
Or: “Somehow walkers come to Lenin, they complain:
— Vladimir Ilyich! We are starving – no strength! Swell with hunger! How to live?
– Eat weed.
– So we’ll close soon!
– Well, guys! Yesterday Felix Edmundovich and I knocked down a cask of mead – so we don’t buzz! …
“We need a skilled chef.”
Despite the shortage of food, Lenin made sure that his colleagues ate as satisfying and even tasty as possible. People’s Commissar for Food Alexander Tsyurupa in 1918, in his presence, experienced several hunger faints. Tsyurupa himself embarrassedly joked: “The people’s commissar of food is malnourished …”
For which he received a written reprimand from Lenin. He composed and signed such a half-joking text: “For a careless attitude to state property (2 seizures), A.D. Tsyurupe is announced the 1st warning and is ordered to immediately go home … Lenin.” Next note: “Dear A.D.! You become absolutely impossible in dealing with state property. Prescription: three weeks to be treated! .. Hey, it’s unforgivable to throw around poor health in vain. The motivation here is most curious: Lenin calls on his employees to take care of themselves – if not for their own sake, but for the sake of the cause (quite in Rakhmetov’s way), as “state property.” He often spoke to them with a smile. “You need to be held accountable for your careless attitude to the state good – to yourself!”
And in 1919, Lenin told his secretary Lidia Fotieva: “Look at your comrades. Some have become so emaciated that they simply look impossible … Select for a start the thirty most emaciated, most hungry people, and organize a dining room … “
This canteen was open, and the head of the Council of People’s Commissars closely followed its work. At first, they cooked in it very unimportantly. “The canteen was shared,” Trotsky recalled. – They fed then in the Kremlin very badly. Instead of meat, they gave corned beef. Flour and cereals were with sand. Only red salmon caviar was plentiful… It is not only in my memory that the first years of the revolution are painted with this unchanging caviar…” Lenin told Gorky: “People work literally to the point of fainting, they need to be fed deliciously so that they eat more. I know that food is scarce and bad – it needs a skilled cook.
“And,” wrote Gorky. – quoted some hygienist’s reasoning about the role of tasty spices in the process of nutrition and digestion. I asked:
How do you manage to think about such things? He also asked:
– About rational nutrition?
And in the tone of his words he made me understand that my question was inappropriate.
In 1919, Lenin somehow went into the kitchen of the Kremlin cadets. I tasted cabbage soup with horsemeat and wheat porridge.
– The first is nothing, tasty, although horse meat, but the porridge is bad … Soak this wheat with boiling water for at least a day, then you will see what kind of porridge will turn out.
A couple of days later I went back:
– Well, how’s the porridge?
– Well, you see, very good porridge.
Lenin got annoyed if he noticed that they were trying to feed him more tasty than his colleagues. “I remember,” Krupskaya wrote, “how he got angry at some bucket of halvah that the then commandant of the Kremlin, comrade, brought him. Malkov “…
Vladimir Ilyich did not approve of the “excesses” of his colleagues. Sculptor Nathan Altman, who sculpted a portrait of Lenin, told such a literary anecdote. Once, in the summer of 1919, people’s commissars, sitting in the Kremlin, “feasted” – they ate lard (at that time it was an exquisite delicacy). The windows were wide open due to the heat, and visitors to the Kremlin could admire their meal. This was reported to Lenin. He summoned the participants of the feast to his office and began to scold them cruelly. At the same time, according to Altman’s story, he was indignant: “There is hunger in the country, devastation, the situation is arch-pagan, and at the same time the people’s commissars are sitting and eating lard! What a shame! After all, you are all Bolsheviks with pre-revolutionary experience! Conspirators! Couldn’t the curtain be drawn? People don’t need to know everything!
With the introduction of the New Economic Policy, rich, refined dishes returned to everyday life. The transition from horse meat to more refined food was reflected in the joke: “Nepman sells cheap hazel grouse cutlets. He is asked:
But hazel grouse is very expensive. How do you manage to make meatballs cheap?
– And I, you know, in half. One hazel grouse, one horse … “
The feuilletonist Swift in 1922 described the lifestyle of the new era as follows:
“Where do you have lunch? a friend from Mostorg asked me.
I named the restaurant.
– Rubbish! he snapped.
– Quite right, rubbish, and three hundred and fifty thousand dinner.
“That’s why it’s rubbish, it’s so cheap. Better go to “Empire”. We had dinner there yesterday. There were four of us. Left the fourth.
“Two and a half million?”
No, twenty-five. We drank a little. Well, of course, caviar, balychok. In general, inexpensive. What is twenty-five million! .. “
Begemot magazine wrote these verses about dietary change:
Let’s remember, brothers, about food
In the nineteenth year.
Prod-cases were bad!
Vobla was a luxury.
But a number of past years
Changed to luxury view:
– Today, salmon and salmon
Do not count as chic.
However, along with luxurious meals, the old inequality in nutrition has also returned. There was abundance in the grocery stores, but not everyone could afford this abundance. N. Zub’s joke, typical for those years:
“At the window of the candy store.
– Senka! look, the cakes are so magnificent, this one in cherries would have shrunk.
– Well, he has! one sour.
– Have you tried it yet?
“Yes… I licked him through the glass.”
It was during the years of the New Economic Policy (NEP) that a particularly sharp struggle against luxurious dishes unfolded. Of course, no one introduced direct prohibitions on them, especially in domestic life (although such examples are known in history, for example, in ancient Rome). But they tried to deprive these dishes of the main thing – the halo of desirability, the unique taste of success in life. Those who ate modestly and poorly could now feel a certain inner superiority over the visitor to a posh restaurant.
“I’m doing well,” says the Nepman in Tom’s 1924 drawing. “The family is dressed, shod, on the table there is vodka, and liqueur, and salmon, and balychok, and caviar … What am I missing?”
“Conscience,” the worker replies glumly.
At the head of the edible “white guard” were dishes that were still available to ordinary people – but only on holidays: dishes such as the Christmas goose, Easter cakes … They were ridiculed most of all. Christmas ditties 1924:
He offered me sweet tea,
And a goose, and a duck,
I said: “I don’t want,
This is prejudice!”
Before the roast goose
We ate at Christmas.
And now my Marusya
Pancakes were also attacked – one of the most traditional and ancient dishes, originating from pagan times. More recently, the dominance of pancakes in Russian cuisine seemed eternal and unshakable. In 1913, the fantastic story “Pancake Vision” was published. It described the execution of a heretic who dared to deny pancakes. But now such heretics have appeared in reality. The poet R. Volzhenin wrote on Maslenitsa in 1923 (putting the words of Karl Marx “Being determines consciousness” as an epigraph to his poems):
I’m fair to pancakes.
I don’t eat pancakes.
Damn, only food – no more than sausages.
But there is a category of people who are in love with pancakes,
captured by a pancake, blinded by a pancake.
And why – we will analyze “Marxist”.
Sturgeon. Salmon. Golden balls.
White-bodied, ruddy, openwork pancakes.
Emeralds in decanters ignited herbalists.
Feelings, eyes, conversations are directed to pancakes.
Oiled lips. In salmon – teeth. Adam’s apples are moving.
An aggravating vest is unbuttoned under the napkin.
Glass-fork, fork-glass – do not go out of hand.
Crap. Zubrovka. – Crap. Leaflet. – Crap. Oporto. – Crap. Kcharet.
Everything is forgotten at the trough in the rapture of grub.
Eat with gusto. Dull varnish covers the eyes.
Tears of “brothers”? The pig’s brain of this fat head
Can only touch the cheese with an appetizing tear.
Thoughts (turn sour!) quietly wander over a piece of sturgeon,
Over caviar and over a crust of voluptuous kulebyak …
I don’t eat pancakes. Is it criminal to bake a pancake?
I approach the analysis in a Marxist way:
Where BEING is one: get drunk, drink, lie down,
Where food is discussed from morning to night,
There the consciousness is directed like a pig.
Indeed, they managed to change the public mood: now it was still pleasant to feast on gourmet delicacies, but it was completely dishonorable, even embarrassing. It is doubly ashamed to put “religious” dishes on the table like cottage cheese Easter, Easter cakes or a Christmas goose. Luxury was thrown off the “culinary throne” – for two decades.
The triumphant return of most of the “White Guard dishes” occurred only at the end of the 30s, along with the famous “Book of Tasty and Healthy Food”.
“You are not used to wine, but Georgians will be offended.”
In a caricature of November 1917, a pompously dressed lady complains: “If my Bolshevik cannot feed me, it means that there really is nowhere to get food in Russia. He would have got it, because he is capable of anything!
One of the White Guard posters depicted Soviet citizens (as they were presented on the other side of the front) – skeletons withered from hunger crowd around a bread shop, on which there is a sign: “There is no bread.” Lenin is depicted on the same poster. He feasts at a luxuriously laid table, laden with a variety of wines, dishes with sturgeon, chicken, ham … With a glass in hand, Vladimir Ilyich proclaims a toast: “I drink to those whom we freed from violence and hunger, who were given the opportunity to see the communist paradise” .
How was the situation with wine drinking in the Kremlin in reality? There was wine in the Kremlin, although the question of its ban was raised. A curious episode was described by Leon Trotsky:
“In 1919, I accidentally found out that Yenukidze had wine in the warehouse and suggested that it should be banned.
“It will be too strict,” Lenin said jokingly.
I tried to insist:
“The rumor will reach the front that they are feasting in the Kremlin—I am afraid of bad consequences.
The third person during the conversation was Stalin.
“How can we Caucasians,” he protested, “can do without wine?”
– You see, – Lenin picked up, – you are not used to wine, but Georgians will be offended.
“There’s nothing to be done,” I answered, “since your morals have reached such a degree of softening here …”
“I think,” Trotsky concluded his story, “that this little dialogue in joking tones still characterizes the customs of that time: a bottle of wine was considered a luxury.”
Apparently, this conversation was not forgotten by Lenin himself. In 1921, when Stalin was about to have an operation, Vladimir Ilyich sent a note to his attending physician: “I beg you to send Stalin 4 bottles of the best port wine. Stalin needs to be backed up before the operation “…
Lenin sometimes drank a little wine while hunting. His driver Stepan Gil recalled the following incident: “One of us had some wine. Vladimir Ilyich was the first to suggest:
“We need to bolster our strength. Drink up, comrades!
Some were shy to drink. Ilyich remarked:
– If you drink, there is nothing to be ashamed of. Perhaps I will drink with you for the company … “.
As for stronger drinks than wine, they remained banned in the Kremlin and throughout the country. Ironically, the Bolsheviks did not dare to cancel the “prohibition” introduced by Emperor Nicholas II. The newspaper Vecherniye Vesti wrote in 1918: “They expected the Soviet authorities to cancel the Romanov ban, like a red testicle for a bright holiday. Convinced alcoholics were ready to stop all sabotage and recognize Soviet power. The moment is one, and there is no fairy tale … “
When the bridge across the Volga was being repaired in frosty weather, it took the permission of Lenin himself to give the workers alcohol. He became alarmed: he began to prove that alcohol does not heat, but cools, and therefore in the Swiss mountains, when climbing the peaks, it is completely forbidden to take alcoholic drinks with you as they contribute to freezing.
“The other one will drink,” he said, “he will get tipsy, go to this terrible height, and even fall and hurt himself!” What will we do then? And this misfortune will be accomplished because of our decision to dispense alcohol.
In the end, Lenin relented, but ordered that alcohol be issued only after work. He asked the engineer:
– And how did you give out alcohol to the workers?
– After work.
– Because the?
– Half a cup.
– Did you drink?
— They drank very willingly.
“And didn’t get burned?”
— No, they didn’t burn themselves… Now they ate bread.
– Were you drunk?
– Almost no one … “For warming up …” – said the workers.
“For the sake of warmth…” Lenin repeated thoughtfully, shaking his head. “But all the same, it would be better to have hot cabbage soup with meat, and porridge, and tea … It would be more satisfying and warmer … After all, all this is just a bad habit, a prejudice.
It seemed that a little time would pass – and this “prejudice” would become a thing of the past. The Smekhach magazine in a feuilleton described an imaginary 1994. In this future, vodka is preserved only as an exhibit in the museum of the old way of life.
“The peasants sniffed moonshine, shuddering with disgust.
– If such a disgusting smell, – said the young peasant, – what does it taste like?
“The taste is deadly,” said the professor.
But it turned out differently … “Dry Law” in Russia did not long outlive Lenin himself: in the autumn of 1924 it was canceled. “An event in Moscow,” the writer Mikhail Bulgakov wrote in his diary, “they released a 30-degree vodka, which the public rightly called “rykovka” (in honor of the new head of the Council of People’s Commissars Rykov. -A.M.). It differs from “royal” vodka in that it is ten degrees … weaker, worse in taste and four times more expensive.” Shortly after the sale of the “rykovka” began, the following anecdote appeared:
“Nicholas II meets Lenin in the next world:
– What, Vladimir Ilyich, did you also release vodka? And how many degrees? Thirty? Ah, Vladimir Ilyich! And it cost you because of ten degrees to make a revolution! After all, it was possible to collide … “
“Shkrabs are starving.”
Lenin’s speech is well recognizable, and the point here is not only in the characteristic words scattered over it like “my friend.” (Another favorite word of his is “nail”: “What is the nail and the essence of this struggle? ..” “This is the nail of the matter.” “That’s the nail!”
It is striking that Vladimir Ilyich handled his language very naturally, uninhibitedly. In his writings we now and then come across such, for example, peculiar expressions: worthless speeches … the most trifling thing … nothing, nothing at all … malicious gibberish … gouging … similar slugs are protruding … joining the revolution old women … etc. “Think a little, a little, a little,” he persuades his comrades. “Think little…”
To create new words, Lenin used the prefix “archi” hundreds of times. It seems that there is no word that Vladimir Ilyich would not have been able to adorn with his favorite prefix: arch-scandal, arch-stupidity, arch-hinged, arch-rejoicing, arch-squalid, arch-harmful, arch-terry, arch-vulgar, arch-poisonous, arch-nonsense, arch-disgrace… A little less often he used the prefix “super”: super-much , super meanness, super impudence, super monsters …
Obviously, Lenin should be considered one of the authors of such words as “Bolsheviks” and “Mensheviks”. He even tried to improve these words – he cut them down to “beks” and “meks”, but the language no longer accepted such a replacement. And supporters of the PDR (the liberal Party of Democratic Reforms) were already called by Lenin, with frank mockery, “faggots” … By the way, Ulyanov’s party nickname also gave rise to new words. The Blue Journal shortly after February called Lenin “the founder of 27 new words (Leninists, Leninism, Leninism, in Lenin’s style, etc., etc.).”
The language in those years generally easily gave birth to new words. Even before 1917, such abbreviated words as Social Revolutionaries, Social Democrats, Cadets, etc. were invented. After February, new words fell upon the country in a real wave. John Reed transmitted the grumbling of a Petrograd porter during the days of the revolution: “Oh, something will happen to unfortunate Russia! .. I have been living in the world for forty-five years, but I have never heard so many words.”
The rhythm of life accelerated incredibly, and the old names of things and phenomena now seemed too long, slow, and sluggish. For example, Lenin replaced the expression “crash” with the brisk verb “crash” … Everything that was possible was reduced and chopped off: savings banks turned into savings banks, wages into wages, Christmas Grandfather into Christmas, and even the former Grand Duke into former grand duke. According to Korney Chukovsky, instead of the old-fashioned phrase “I have the honor to bow”, a cheerful exclamation “Chick!” appeared. And lovers in Moscow in the 20s made appointments with each other briefly – “Tverbul Pampush!”, Which meant in the old way: on Tverskoy Boulevard near the monument to Pushkin. There was a funny verse:
On Tverbul near Pampush,
dear Grusha is waiting for me.
The magazine “New Satyricon”, which remained faithful to the old spelling, in every possible way mocked the revolution taking place in the language. Here is one of the malicious notes placed by the magazine in July 1918: “Gold Placers. How to define Russia most intelligently and accurately in fifteen words? Here: Sovdep, Kredep, Sovnarkom, Sovnarkhoz, Executive Committee, Vikzhedor, Produprava, Komzem, Zemkom, Uzemkom, Komprod, Municipal Executive Committee, Food Department, Moluispolkom, Uezemelkom. Oh, the rich Russian language… Would you be impoverished, or what?
In an August 1918 cartoon, one priest complained to another: “And don’t say, Fr. Yevmeny, just as you don’t read the newspapers in the morning, you don’t know whom to commemorate: the Council of People’s Commissars, the Executive Committee or the Economic Council.
Heated disputes about the fate of the language did not subside even later. Thus, in 1919-1920, the independent magazine Vestnik Literature was full of headlines: “The Disfigured Russian Language”, “The Disfigured Russian Language”, “To Talk About the Corruption of the Language”, etc. “Speech is no longer flowing smoothly,” the publicist lamented V. Krivenko, – and bounces, rolls heavily, like a cart on a log gati.
The writer Evgenia Ginzburg recalled the university lectures she heard in the 1920s by the linguist Rudde: “The professor proceeds to characterize the abbreviated words introduced by the revolution. First … sarcastic. Say, now a lyrical landscape with a description of the moonlit night will look like this: “The moon was all stale …” This … causes only laughter. But here the lecturer falls upon our neologisms with all his erudition and predicts the death of the Russian literary language with such force that he takes the shivers. You search frantically in your mind, but you don’t find strong enough objections and you can’t sort everything out in any way. ”
“The reactionary dullards assert,” Leon Trotsky replied to such judgments, “that the revolution, if not ruined, then destroys the Russian language … The reactionary dullards, however, are mistaken about the fate of the Russian language, just as about everything else. The language will come out of revolutionary upheavals strengthened, rejuvenated, with increased flexibility and sensitivity. Lenin himself admitted in 1920: “During my Soviet experience, I got used to treating different names as childish jokes, because every name is a kind of joke.” “The Russian language is progressing towards English,” he remarked.
According to some mysterious laws, some words, seemingly cleverly invented, did not take root in the language, while others, launched by an unknown person, remained for a long time. “It’s a shame for the Futurists, it’s a shame for the Imagists, it’s a shame for the poets,” wrote literary critic Arkady Gornfeld in 1922. “People are worried, tearing themselves up, puffing up, they want to turn the world upside down, they compose such successful words at the desk, and these excellent word innovations are dying, but self-seekers and bagmen, dancing and extras live.” This strange choice of language also struck Lenin quite a bit. “Look,” said Vladimir Ilyich, “how our ugly words like the word “Bolshevism” are spreading all over the world. Despite the fact that … the name “communist” is a scientific, pan-European, it is less common in Europe and other countries than the word “Bolshevik”.
October 1917 drastically simplified spelling – excluded the letters “yat”, “fita”, “izhitsa” from the language; canceled hard signs at the end of words. This reform was worked out under the tsar, but only the Bolsheviks had the courage to put it into practice. Journalist Osip Slitzan in 1917 jokingly said goodbye to the abolished letters: “A girl without “yat”, victory through “e”! .. Who loves a poor girl through “e”, who needs an inglorious, meager victory … -admiral, who immediately lost both of his solid signs … The old sea wolf, hardened in storms, will secretly shed more than one tear over a rash circular …
– Delete the letter “i” with its replacement through “and” (Russia).
Perhaps through the “and” it will be stronger and more economical, but somehow our former Russia, which did not save on an extra letter, is somehow nicer, cozier and warmer … “
Konstantin Balmont ironically stated: “A word without a solid sign at the end is like a dog with a severed tail.”
In 1918, the poet Ostroglaz dedicated a whole nostalgic ode to the solid sign:
I say goodbye, my angel, to you,
Oh, a solid sign, oh, a solid sign!
You are doomed to death by fate,
Disappear – as the penny disappeared.
I’m sorry for you, I’m sorry to the pain,
Although you had no face,
And did not play a noticeable role,
And huddled modestly at the end.
Now, in the general mess,
In the collapse of all circles and spheres, –
We only, only in a solid sign
Had an example of hardness!
The fate of the letter “i” was decided almost by accident. Everyone agreed that there should not be two “and” in the Russian language. But which one to keep? The Bolshevik Pavel Lebedev-Polyansky recalled. “When the draft on the new spelling, drawn up under the Provisional Government, was being voted on … the question of i and i was discussed for a long time. Many were in favor of 1, pointing to the West. Civil rights were won by a majority of one random vote and ” … It is curious that in one of Lenin’s articles there is some regret about this cancellation – after all, now by the word “peace” it has become impossible to understand what kind of world is meant – the absence of war (peace) or the surrounding world (Mipe).
The head of the revolution that roused this whole linguistic storm did not always rejoice at its fruits. What language is this written in? He sometimes got angry. – Some kind of gibberish. Volapyuk, not the language of Tolstoy and Turgenev. People’s Commissar of Education Anatoly Lunacharsky recalled that he once read a telegram to Lenin, which ended with the words: “The Shkrabs are starving.”
– Who? Who? Lenin asked.
“Shkrabs,” Lunacharsky explained, “is a new designation for school workers.
“With the greatest displeasure, he answered me:
“I thought it was some kind of crabs in some kind of aquarium.” What a disgrace to call such a disgusting word a teacher!”
Soon, by order of Lunacharsky, the word “skrabs” was taken out of official circulation. However, it lived in the language for several more years – in the Soviet press of those years you can find, for example, ditties:
Dear nurse, like a woman,
Sold trousers and a vest,
Don’t like girls, shkraba,
There is no money in the People’s Commissariat for Education…
Lenin’s famous note “On the Cleansing of the Russian Language” (subtitled: “Reflections at Leisure, i.e., While Listening to Speeches at Meetings”) belongs to the same mood of Lenin’s. “We are spoiling the Russian language,” Vladimir Ilyich is indignant. We use foreign words unnecessarily. We use them incorrectly. Why say “defects” when you can say shortcomings or shortcomings or gaps? .. Isn’t it time for us to declare war on the use of foreign words without need? I confess that if the use of foreign words unnecessarily embitters me (because it makes it difficult for us to influence the masses), then certain mistakes in newspaper writers can completely piss me off. For example, they use the word “wake up” in the sense of excite, disturb, wake up. But the French word “bouder” (bude) means to be angry, pout. Therefore, to wake up means actually “to be angry”, “pout”. To adopt the French-Nizhny Novgorod usage means to adopt the worst from the worst representatives of the Russian landlord class, who studied French, but, firstly, did not finish their studies, and secondly, distorted the Russian language. Isn’t it time to declare war on the distortion of the Russian language?
Later (decades later), this short note by Lenin became almost the “banner of the counter-revolution” in the field of language. It may seem that it fully coincided with the mood of the liberals of 1918. But this, of course, is not the case. Lenin was not at all a “retrograde” in this matter (as can be seen from his own texts), he simply, as a revolutionary, habitually scourged any reality, including revolutionary.
In February 1921, Lenin talked with young artists. They read Mayakovsky’s poems to him, to which he noted that the abbreviations that the poet uses clog the Russian language.
“Yes, you are the first,” the artist Sergei Senkin objected to him, “they introduced these abbreviations – the Council of People’s Commissars, etc.”
“Vladimir Ilyich began to repent of his sins in a very comical way,” recalled Senkin, “that he, too, was guilty of this, that he had spoiled the great, mighty Russian language by the fact that he himself allowed the names “Sovnarkom”, “VTsIK”. We, on the contrary, took abbreviations under our protection, proving their convenience.
Of course, Lenin’s struggle to remake the language was also reflected in folklore. Here is one of the jokes from the 70s:
“Once a telegram was sent to Lenin from the provinces: “The Shkrabs are starving.”
— Who, who? Lenin did not understand.
“Shkrabs,” he was told, “is a new designation for school workers.
“What a disgrace to call a teacher such a disgusting word! Vladimir Ilyich was indignant.
A week later, a new telegram arrived: “The teachers are starving.”
– That’s a completely different matter! Lenin rejoiced.
“Lenin did not swear.”
The revolution had the courage to take a swing (albeit not very successfully) even at the “holy of holies”, the most secret part of the Russian language – in other words, at swearing. How did Vladimir Ilyich himself treat swearing? Although we know that he was very fond of strong, juicy and energetic expressions, it is impossible to detect obscene language in his writings. “Lenin did not swear,” V. Molotov noted. – Voroshilov is a foul-mouthed man. And Stalin was not averse.
Why, without hesitation, using words like “shit” or “shit”, Vladimir Ilyich so delicately eschewed obscenities? At first glance, this may seem like a puzzle. But there is no mystery here: very many Bolsheviks believed that swearing instills a spirit of inequality in society (primarily in the sexual sphere, in relations between a man and a woman). And so they carefully avoided it. Obviously, Vladimir Ilyich also adhered to this opinion.
This point of view was expressed in the most detailed way by Leon Trotsky, who wrote in 1923: “It can be said that, as a general rule—of course, there are exceptions—a foul-mouthed and scolding attitude is contemptuous of a woman and disregards a child… Swearing is the legacy of slavery , humiliation, disrespect for human dignity, someone else’s and one’s own, and our Russian abuse in particular. We should ask philologists, linguists, folklorists whether other peoples have such unbridled, sticky and nasty abuse as ours. As far as I know, no or almost no. In the Russian battle from below there is despair, bitterness, and, above all, slavery without hope, without outcome. But the same scolding from above, through the throat of the nobility, the police chief, was an expression of class superiority, slave-owning honor, the inviolability of the foundations … Two streams of Russian scolding – lordly, bureaucratic, police, well-fed, with a fat throat, and the other – hungry, desperate, torn – painted the whole Russian life with a disgusting verbal pattern. And such a legacy, among many others, was received by the revolution.
Trotsky called for the eradication of swearing. This initiative was enthusiastically picked up by the press. One of the cartoons of that time depicted swearing in the form of a queen – “Her Majesty swear”, which still “reigns” in the barracks, factories and dormitories. But outraged people are already crowding around the throne with placards: “Down with the queen!” The poet Chersky wrote in the Military Crocodile magazine:
In the barracks, to this day, we are very often
A heavy obscenity will respond in our ears.
Trotsky told us to fight this poison
And declared him a stubborn, formidable check.
In other jokes, irony about the unfolding campaign was clearly visible. In the drawing by Ivan Malyutin, two workers are playing chess under a portrait of Trotsky, and one of them angrily says to the other: “Oh, Sasha, I would have declared checkmate to you now, but you can’t … Trotsky doesn’t order.”
In another drawing in Red Pepper magazine, an entire “swearing league” has gathered under the same portrait. The sailor and the driver sit timidly clasping their mouths with their palms so that a word does not inadvertently fly out. “The place of the representative of the loaders is marked with an asterisk. Couldn’t take it – left…
The attack on swearing quickly bogged down. Mat continued to “reign” in the barracks, and in factories, and in everyday life. However, the revolution nevertheless achieved in this respect a completely unexpected, and perhaps even an undesired “victory”. Obscene blasphemy has completely disappeared from the speech turnover. True, this happened only because the very sacred halo around such words as “God”, “Christ” or “Holy Spirit” became very dim, dimmed. They became in most cases “indecent”, were officially placed almost below the curses themselves.
Revolution in clothes.
The “clothing revolution” in Russia was not started by Lenin, it unfolded immediately after February. Even Kerensky shocked many with his simple clothes: a khaki jacket, a work jacket – completely unusual attire for a minister. It was revolutionary clothing – a symbol of universal equality. I. Gurevich in May 1917 published the following note under the heading “Surprise”: “One former “Her Excellency”, the wife of a prominent dignitary of the old regime, said:
“I can understand everything, but I just don’t understand how the minister’s wife allows him to appear everywhere in a simple working jacket … If he doesn’t have a chamberlain’s uniform, then he can sew a tailcoat! .. If he doesn’t have ribbons, stars and orders, then he can get the French or American president!”
The attempted “revolution” against tailcoats and uniforms was immediately followed by a “counter-revolution”. At least in the mood. In June 1917, the liberal satirist Arkady Averchenko devoted an entire feuilleton to this issue. It is curious that, on mature reflection, he actually took the side of the old-time dignitary. “Do you remember,” he asked, “what were the ministers of the old regime cursed by God and people? Remember what Jupiters they were, what Zeus the Thunderers held. They walked on tiptoe in front of them, they bowed before them … What’s the matter?!!!! I’ll tell you, just don’t be offended by me: it was all about their uniforms, orders, ribbons and gold embroidery. And when they came out in front of the crowd in such a stuffed form, everyone respectfully bowed their heads before them and a reverent whisper rushed through the ranks: “The minister is coming, the minister” …
Citizens! Comrades! Brothers! Make a conclusion: since the collective all-Russian fool needs a written sack … – so give him this “written sack”. Ministers! take off your modest work jackets, which were so touching at first – take off your shabby jackets! .. Free Russian comrades have not yet matured to respect the noble poverty of the outfit. They are unworthy of this symbol of fraternal unity with them … Give them the wretched luxury of attire, put on ten pounds of gold, hang yourself with “White Eagles”, “Red Garters” and “Green Crocodiles”, and when you arrive in such a parrot meeting, a red carpet will be stretched out in front of you, they will raise you to the podium under your arms and say: “Speak, your honor.” And no one will slap you on the shoulder, ask for a cigar, and even Comrade Trotsky himself will take his feet off the table and stand up when you appear.
Uniforms did not give up just like that, without a fight. The American socialist John Reed cited the following story: “A curious incident happened to Senator Sokolov, who, in the midst of the revolution, somehow appeared at a meeting of the Senate in a civilian suit. He was not allowed to take part in the meeting, because he was not wearing the prescribed livery of a servant of the king!
October brought the clothing revolution to an end. Tailcoats and uniforms embroidered with gold finally became part of the theatrical or carnival wardrobe. Foreign journalists devoted entire articles to the unusually simple clothes of the Soviet “ministers”. Diplomat Ivan Zalkind recalled: “One American correspondent was also very nice, bringing his dispatches to me for viewing: this gentleman did not write a word about the revolution itself, its goals and conditions; what occupied him were the costumes of Lenin and Trotsky: the facts that Trotsky once spoke at a rally without a collar, and Lenin changed his checkered jacket to gray, gave him topics for telegrams of 200 words … “
However, the domestic press did not shy away from such topics either. For example, the newspaper “Evening Life” in May 1918 published an essay by D. Bolkhovitinov “Lenin”. “He dresses old-fashioned,” the journalist noted, “not because of a kind of panache, not because, a great destroyer and shaker in the social sphere, he is a great conservative in everyday life. Usually – a simple jacket (almost always double-breasted). Occasionally a frock coat of such a cut as our grandfathers wore (not a redingot, don’t think, for God’s sake!). Jacket hates. Doesn’t accept tuxedos. He does not wear yellow or patent leather shoes, or any fashionable striped trousers. And I would pay dearly to the person who saw him in a top hat or in a tailcoat.
General Mikhail Bonch-Bruevich, not without surprise, recalled how Lenin dressed in 1918: “A modest, almost turned over jacket, a tie with white polka dots.” Resting in Gorki in 1922, Lenin usually wore a faded satin shirt. By his appearance, Vladimir Ilyich, as it were, showed: there is nothing shameful in walking around in cheap, shabby, worn clothes. So did many other revolutionaries of the older generation. At his only meeting with Krupskaya in 1921, Mikhail Bulgakov remembered her “worn fur katsaveyka”. When an English newspaper published an essay about Krupskaya under the heading “First Lady”, Lenin jokingly remarked that it would have been more correct to call the essay something else, namely “The First Ragged Man.”
Vladimir Ilyich himself donned a tailcoat and top hat for the last time, probably back when he acted as a lawyer in the tsarist courts. But, oddly enough, he did not completely reject these “bourgeois” clothes. After October, even the orchestra members at the Bolshoi Theater stopped wearing tailcoats and tuxedos, and wore some kind of folk outfits, sometimes deliberately caricatured. The German conductor Oskar Fried visited Russia in 1922. “I doubted,” he said, “whether it would be appropriate to speak to the new proletarian public in a tailcoat.” Speaking with Lenin, the conductor started a conversation on this topic: “I found it convenient to ask a question about the costume. Lenin, without hesitation, found the correct answer:
— But, of course, dear Mr. Conductor. The approach to our proletarian public must not be worse than the approach to the old bourgeoisie. And why shouldn’t the conductor, leading the orchestra, perform, as always, in a festive costume – in a tailcoat?
Lenin did not completely reject uniforms. When, after October, the creation of a new militia was discussed, Vladimir Ilyich immediately asked:
– Is there a uniform for the police?
His interlocutors hesitated: any form seemed to them a harmful relic of the old regime.
“No, comrades,” said Lenin, “a policeman cannot be without a uniform!” The policeman must be different from the layman. Think about it.
Among men’s hats, the victory (up to the 40s) was won by a working cap with a visor. In June 1917, at the demonstrations in the capital, two streams were very clearly divided – “caps” and “hats”. Lenin ironically said to the “defencists”: “Your slogans are worn, as you see, only by those who wear hats and top hats.”
Since 1917, the gray cap has become Lenin’s favorite headdress (and in winter he usually wore a hat with earflaps made of black astrakhan fur). Even university professors began to wear caps. N. Ustryalov described Moscow in 1925: “Kepka has become positively ubiquitous… At first, it was a little strange to meet old acquaintances in a new, “processed” outfit. But, of course, I soon got used to it. The dictatorship of the cap is so universal that even the most quickly somehow felt compelled to submit to it.
And European costumes were everywhere replaced by paramilitary service jackets, the first example of which was set by Kerensky. In the 1920s, Vladimir Ilyich also willingly put on gray or green jackets. A characteristic detail is that the buttons on one of these service jackets were of different sizes: obviously, Lenin did not attach importance to such a trifle … Lenin did not wear another typical commissar’s clothing – a shiny leather jacket “with fish fur”, preferring a black demi-season coat (through the lining of which cotton wool). Although at one time a black leather jacket served as a real symbol of the Bolsheviks. “During the first post-October period,” Trotsky noted, “the enemies called the Communists, as you know, “leather”—by their clothes.”
With the advent of the New Economic Policy, the jackets were strongly pushed back by other outfits. The magazine “Crocodile”, for example, in 1922 published the following poems by V.O.:
Frenchies everywhere are terribly tired –
It becomes embarrassing to wear them.
The nepo dandies have long been dressed
in a mix of bohemian and sweatshirts.
But Vladimir Ilyich remained faithful to the jacket until the last days, in a brown jacket he lay down and in a fob. He was dressed in an English suit only in the 40s, when the revolutionary jacket finally receded into the realm of history. (True, in people’s China, paramilitary jackets were worn until the end of the 20th century, and in North Korea even in the 21st century. But few people remembered that Kim Jong Il’s ceremonial attire had a direct origin from Kerensky’s modest jacket).
“You can’t arrest for mutilating a portrait.”
In 1924, various Soviet publications reprinted with pleasure an unusual photograph taken by L. Leonidov: Moscow, magnificent Kremlin palaces, in the middle of the hall – the royal throne of the Romanov dynasty. And on the throne, in a businesslike way, having crossed his legs, some black man was at ease. He smiles merrily, and above his head the imperial coat of arms topped with a magnificent crown flaunts … The signature in one of the publications read: “Comrade. Lunion, a member of the Fifth Congress of the Comintern, a representative of the most oppressed, most enslaved part of the working people – the French colonial blacks – is resting on … a throne, on the ancient throne of Russian tsars, preserved as a museum exhibit in the Kremlin. Now it is an ordinary chair.
Let’s try to understand what idea the photographer wanted to convey to the readers? Of course, not at all the one that this African now occupies the royal throne in Russia. He wanted to express the following with the greatest clarity: from now on, this throne belongs to everyone and everyone, and at the same time – to no one (“this is an ordinary chair”). It is impossible to imagine that, for example, Lenin himself would take the place of an unknown African with the same satisfied smile.
The feuilletonist A. Menshoi described with pleasure other “sitting” of the same throne. Here a couple gently hugs and whispers on it – a fair-haired girl from Munich (“she is all in white and smiles blissfully happily”) and a Soviet guy (“violently black-haired, swarthy, with velvety eyes … in a black kosovorotka, in ragged trousers … sandals on bare feet”). “Let’s leave,” the journalist delicately remarks, “we are interfering with them …” “It’s so strange,” he argues, “against the background of royal gilding — gilding and heavy silk curtains, drapes, canopies — against the backdrop of royal majesty — these people with beards a l a Lenin … in shirts unbuttoned on the chest … people from the masses, from the people … these people are in the throne room!
Lenin tried once and for all to destroy the sacred charm of power, to destroy the “reverent awe” that it inspired. He began this breakdown long before 1917, in the circle of his comrades. Joseph Stalin left a curious testimony in this regard. In 1924, Stalin spoke of his first meeting with Lenin at the congress of the Social Democratic Party: “It is accepted that the “great man” usually has to be late for meetings, so that the members of the meeting wait with bated breath for his appearance, moreover, before the appearance of the “great man”. human,” the congregation members warn, “shh… hush… he’s coming.” This ritual seemed to me not superfluous, because it impresses, inspires respect. Imagine my disappointment when I found out that Lenin had arrived at the meeting before the delegates and, hiding somewhere in a corner, was talking in a simple way, the most ordinary conversation with the most ordinary delegates … I will not hide that it seemed to me then some violation of certain necessary rules. Maxim Gorky shared a similar feeling from meeting Lenin: “I expected that Lenin was not like that. I was missing something in it. Burrs and put his hands somewhere under the armpits, stands with a fort. And in general, the whole thing is somehow too simple, nothing from the “leader” is felt in it.
Perhaps, with each of his lines – short stature (165 cm), burr, laughter, a working cap on a bald head … – Lenin refuted the usual image of the “leader” … The leader of the Mensheviks, Julius Martov, wrote in the 20s: I never noticed vanity in the character of V.I. Ulyanov.
One of the textbook stories about Lenin said that when the walkers in Smolny asked him “who is in charge here?”, the head of the government pointed at them with a sly smile (they began to turn around in confusion) and announced: !..”
True, at the level of the whole country, this “revolution of style” began even before Lenin, in February 1917. In the days of the revolution, the seemingly insignificant act of Alexander Kerensky became the subject of noisy and even scandalous discussion. Having just been appointed Minister of Justice, when he first came to the service, he shook hands with the most junior employees of the ministry – the porter and courier. A ministry worker, S. Militsyn, wrote in his diary at the time: “It seems to me that Kerensky had his full effect on his first visit to the ministry. He, they say, ran in, shook hands with the porter … and dismissively threw: “Well, the bureaucrats have not come yet?” Our watchmen immediately changed their tone … “
By the way, the old porter himself (his last name was Moiseev) was not at all pleased with this innovation.
“Well, what kind of minister is this,” he grumbled displeasedly, “if he shakes hands with me? ..”
And the satirist writer Arkady Averchenko, referring to Kerensky, still invested with power, wrote: “Your fall, Alexander Fedorovich, began precisely from that seemingly touching moment when you arrived in the ministry for the first time in March and greeted the courier by the hand. … You shook hands with him, and at that moment there was a characteristic outburst: this was the first time in Russia that the prestige of power had fallen into a puddle. You are crazy! How can a minister shake hands with a courier in a country where for hundreds of years everything was built on a dent, an official shout and an official cap with a cockade … Yes, you only answer this courier for a bow with a gracious inclination of the head – after all, he would be happy! .. Friendly a nod of the head – that’s what the all-Russian downtrodden courier needed.
A few years later, already in exile, Averchenko again returned to this idea and wrote even more sharply: “Do you know from what moment Russia went to ruin? From the very moment when you, the head of Russia, came to the ministry and gave the courier a hand. Oh, how stupid it was, and if you were a different person, how painfully ashamed you should be now! You then thought that the courier was the same person as you. Quite right: the same … But he should not have shaken hands … I do not argue, maybe this courier personally is a charming secular person, but you didn’t stretch out your hand to him alone for a shake, but to the whole impudent, boorish part of Russia. ..”
Lenin managed to bring to its logical end what February had begun: say, in 1920, it would never have occurred to anyone to be surprised that the head of government shook hands with a simple courier or porter. How else? Vladimir Ilyich had a habit of always greeting the first – with the Red Army men, porters, cleaners … Politely seated the Kremlin lackeys and doormen on a chair during a conversation (and they were used to standing). By the way, the commandant of the Moscow Kremlin, Pavel Malkov, left curious memories of the porters who daily communicated with the head of the Council of People’s Commissars: they were extremely zealous about their own people … At first, most of them treated the Soviet government with open hostility: what, they say, is it power? No splendor, no grandeur, with any craftsman, any peasant – easily …
– Not that! sometimes this or that old porter sighed, looking at Ilyich, quickly walking along the Kremlin, in his cap pushed back to the back of his head, or Yakov Mikhailovich in his unchanged leather jacket. – Not that! Grace is not enough. Lenin! What a man! There must be trembling around, timidity. And he is equal to everyone. No, not that.
P. Lebedev-Polyansky described the behavior of other old officials: “The lower officials were distrustful; couriers jumped up and pulled themselves to attention when responsible workers arrived, and could not understand when they were comradely explained that this should not be done, that now new times. Such treatment was incomprehensible to them, and they considered us “not real bosses”, whose orders they are accustomed to carry out silently, respectfully.”
When Vladimir Ilyich noticed signs of proud behavior in one of his colleagues, he publicly scolded him: “Who are you? Where do you get this swagger, these noble habits? The people put you in a state chair. But he, the people, can give you a kick … “
Kremlin cleaner Anna Baltrukevich recalled watching the play “At the Bottom” with the head of government: “The play is over, let’s go home. The mood is good, cheerful. Vladimir Ilyich suddenly grabbed Yakov Mikhailovich Sverdlov, began to wrestle with him and put him in a snowdrift. And then Sverdlov contrived and threw Lenin into the snow. Then he put me on the snow, and I him. And we laughed so much and played out so much that we poured snow into Vladimir Ilyich’s collar. Is it possible to imagine a similar scene involving Nicholas II or even Kerensky?
It seemed that a little more – and the power would finally “fall to the ground”, dissolve among ordinary citizens. After all, the simplest person could now visit, for example, in the chair of the arbiter of justice (people’s assessor). Tomorrow, even higher positions will become just as accessible… The feuilletonist V. Ardov described the year 1976 in the mid-1920s. From the screen in this imaginary future, viewers are sternly reminded: “Citizen, do not skip your turn to fulfill the duties of the people’s commissar! Wherever you are, inquire about the timing of your duty!
About the same were the famous words that “every cook must learn to manage the state.” They were attributed to Lenin. (In fact, he wrote more carefully: “We know that any unskilled worker and any cook is not capable of immediately entering into government.”) It is curious that already in the 1920s the phrase about the cook began to be gently ridiculed in the Soviet press. The poet F. Blagov wrote in 1926:
Ash poured into cabbage soup,
Bagels were burnt,
Because – the wife left
to govern in the republic …
(And in the last decades of the USSR, the “cook who runs the state” in folklore completely turned into a favorite “whipping pear” …)
The slightest manifestations of “sacred awe” before the authorities irritated Lenin. The point here, as we understand, was not at all in his personal modesty – such an exaltation was contrary to the whole meaning of the revolution. According to the memoirs of Vladimir Bonch-Bruevich, in 1918, Lenin, who had recovered from the assassination attempt, sincerely resented the reaction of society to his illness.
“I find it hard to read newspapers,” he complained. “Wherever you look, they write about me everywhere… And these portraits? Look, everywhere and everywhere … Yes, there is nowhere to go from them! .. Why all this? .. “
The newspaper Pravda on September 1 came out under the heading: “Lenin is fighting the disease. He will defeat her! This is how the proletariat wants, this is its will, this is how it commands fate!” Vladimir Ilyich was indignant:
– Look what they write in the newspapers? .. It’s a shame to read … They write about me that I am such and such, everyone exaggerates, they call me a genius, some special person, but here there is some kind of mysticism … Collectively they want They demand, they want me to be healthy … So, what good, perhaps, they will get to the prayers for my health … It’s terrible! .. And where does it come from? All our lives we have fought ideologically against the glorification of the individual, the individual, long ago we settled the issue of heroes, and then suddenly the exaltation of the individual again! It’s no good. I’m the same as everyone else … Some heroes made me, they call me a genius, just the devil knows what it is!
One of the participants in this conversation, the old Bolshevik P. Lepeshinsky, joked:
– And Patriarch Tikhon, perhaps, what good, will rank you among the saints. That’s really profitable will be a saint. I just want to remember Geneva and draw all this…
“That’s right,” put in Vladimir Ilyich, “Panteleimon Nikolayevich, console me… Draw, as always, a good caricature on the theme of the ‘heroes’ and the crowd, besides, remember the Narodniks with Mikhailovsky at the head….”
Lunacharsky conveyed Lenin’s words that day in this way: “With great displeasure, I notice that my personality is being exalted. It’s annoying and harmful. We all know that it’s not about personality. I myself would be embarrassed to forbid such a phenomenon. It would also be something funny, pretentious. But you should gradually put a brake on this whole story.
Shortly before the assassination attempt, in the summer of 1918, Lenin and Krupskaya were visiting Lepeshinsky at home. “Ilyich gladly treated himself to my caricatures,” he recalled. “On one of them he himself appeared as Jupiter the Thunderer … Ilyich laughed with pleasure at these and other caricatures.” But then a caricature fell into Lenin’s hands, where one of the participants in the conversation was depicted as a “fat cow.” Vladimir Ilyich immediately hid the drawing, refusing to hand it over to this lady.
She was indignant, but he strictly minted:
No, no, it’s not for you.
And meekly took upon himself all her just indignation … Then he explained:
Why offend a person?
In November 1918, at the former Michelson plant, Lenin saw a monument … to himself. Workers were decorating a wooden column topped with a globe with kumach at the spot where Lenin had been shot two months earlier.
– What are you doing here? asked Vladimir Ilyich. The workers replied that they fenced off the place where he was wounded and erected a wooden obelisk. Lenin winced.
– In vain, this is superfluous … You are busy with trifles! Vladimir Ilyich felt awkward when he was greeted with applause. “He simply did not know at that time what he should do on the podium,” remarked the Bolshevik Andrei Andreev. “He either showed the delegates to his watch: they say, time is running out, but the applause only intensified, then he pulled out a handkerchief, although there was no need for it, he looked for something in his vest pockets, etc.” He shook his head reproachfully, rang the bell, and sometimes shook his finger or even his fist from the podium if he saw that people he knew were shouting “Hurrah!” He could angrily shout out in the midst of applause: “Enough!” Once I read a whole notation to the audience: “Is it permissible that you spend almost five minutes on unnecessary applause! You took five minutes from me. It’s not good of you. You have to spend time.
One day he was late for a meeting. “I remember one case,” wrote the Bolshevik Stepan Danilov, “when even Comrade Lenin was late. 6 a.m. struck, but he was not there, which surprised those gathered at the meeting a lot. He appeared only at 7-8 minutes past seven, blushing, embarrassed, like a delinquent schoolboy. He asked his comrades to excuse him, as he was detained at a meeting of the Central Committee. In response to his apology, there was an explosion of laughter and shouts: “we do not accept”, “reject”, “enter into the protocol”, which confused Comrade Lenin even more.
There were times when, in a fit of enthusiasm, the crowd picked up Lenin in their arms and carried him to the podium. “Comrades, be quiet, what are you, comrades!” he quelled his exuberant delight. Once he joked: “Don’t knock off my cap”…
In the summer of 1920, Vladimir Ilyich once again found himself in the midst of an enthusiastic crowd, and a cry was heard: “Swing, pump Comrade Lenin!”
“It wasn’t there,” recalled S. Zorin, an eyewitness to this episode. Lenin was stubborn.
— Only not this… Just don’t pump… I beg you…
And, already sitting in the car, he said:
“How harmful this bourgeois culture is. How contagious she is. I never thought that this gymnasium rocking technique could penetrate the masses of workers. Where did they get this intellectual idea from? .. “
Once Lenin went to a concert to hear Chaliapin sing. Seeing him in the hall, the audience began to applaud violently and shout “Lenin!”. He stood up and quickly left the room. Everyone thought that he had moved into the box, hiding from the applause. The next day, the writer Sofya Vinogradskaya retold this scene to Maria Ulyanova.
“He didn’t hide anywhere! she exclaimed. “He’s gone, completely gone. So Chaliapin did not listen … They did not let him listen … Ilyich returned home furious. “Our audience,” he said, “doesn’t know how to behave in a concert at all. They go to listen to Chaliapin, but give Lenin an ovation! What disrespect for the artist!
When Lenin’s 50th birthday was celebrated in April 1920, at one meeting someone suggested “honoring him.” “The audience is laughing,” recalled V. Molotov. Lenin waves his hands to him. Whom to honor? Only the memory is honored. But another anniversary meeting still took place. Lenin asked to be released from listening to speeches. Then, having appeared at the meeting, the head of the Council of People’s Commissars passed along the rows of the caricature he had received that day, which poisonously ridiculed the anniversary festivities. Moreover, he noticed that this was a surprisingly good caricature … When it was decided to release the collected works of Lenin by the same anniversary, he began to object: “Why is this. To nothing. You never know what was written in thirty years. Not worth it.”
Once he saw that Karl Radek was looking at a volume of his old articles. “His face was covered with a sly smile and he, giggling, said:
“It’s very interesting to read what fools we were.”
One day in 1919, news came from Tsaritsyn that a certain Valentina Pershikova was arrested only because she deliberately mutilated a portrait of Lenin torn from a book. Lenin considered it necessary to intervene immediately. And he sent a telegram: “Tsaritsyn, Myshkin. You cannot be arrested for mutilating a portrait. Release Valentina Pershikova immediately, and if she is a counter-revolutionary, then keep an eye on her.” He asked to be informed about the release of the arrested woman, and all the material about the case – “to give to the feuilletonists.”
“When Vladimir Ilyich found his portraits in the room for work,” wrote L. Fotieva, “he immediately gave instructions to remove them.”
At the beginning of 1923, the Red Pepper magazine decided to remind the artist Denis of his old sin – participation in the campaign against the Bolsheviks and Lenin. The magazine reprinted in the form of a riddle an old drawing of Denis – an ugly man, similar to a tavern boozer, with a royal crown fastened on his head. The drawing originally appeared in Beach magazine at the end of 1917 with the caption “Lord of our days. His Majesty Ham I. The picture was accompanied by a significant caption: “Printing this picture, Red Pepper invites all readers to puzzle over the following three questions:
1. Who drew?
2. When did you draw??
3. Who did you draw???
When Lenin himself was told about this story, he was annoyed: what trifles people are doing!
“So Moses is me?”
The Soviet press of the early 1920s was full of caricatures of the leaders of the revolution. It is curious to note that the veneration of Lenin made its way precisely through these jokes, caricatures, anecdotes. Praise Lenin with a smile, as if jokingly, with a touch of the grotesque seemed acceptable. He was drawn in the form of Ilya Muromets, a lighthouse keeper of communism, a football player, a chess player… In one of the cartoons, Lenin pierced a pot-bellied bourgeois with a flagpole…
Especially often the leaders were painted in the form of saints, gods and Orthodox priests. Apparently, the very assimilation of the main atheists of the planet to saints in those years was infinitely amusing as the pinnacle of absurdity. For example, one of the caricatures depicted Vladimir Ilyich as the husband of the Virgin Mary, the righteous Joseph, with a halo around his head (Leo Trotsky played the role of the Mother of God)…
The Bolshevik L. Sosnovsky recalled the following episode: “Once in 1918, we once went with Y. M. Sverdlov and Demyan [Poor] to Vladimir Ilyich. Demyan took with him the poem “The Promised Land” that he had just written then, where, using the biblical legend about the exit of the Jews from the country of Pharaoh’s oppression, he depicted the first steps of the proletarian October exodus from the country of capitalist slavery. Ilyich fussed around a kerosene stove (or spirit stove), on which he himself warmed up the soldiers’ cabbage soup left over from dinner for dinner (then Ilyich ate from the common cauldron of the Kremlin garrison and ate rather disgustingly), and at the same time listened attentively to the reading of the author’s poems. In some places, Ilyich laughed merrily and contagiously, captivating us. And suddenly, with a childishly naive expression, he narrowed his eyes at Demyan:
– Excuse me, it turns out that Moses is me?
And again he rolled with his silent charming laugh.
At the same time, the popular consciousness quite seriously saw in Lenin a saint, like the former Orthodox saints. Here is a curious “Conspiracy from all diseases”, composed by 24-year-old soldier Marya Nedobezhkina. It was published by The Crocodile in 1924, with obvious tacit disapproval. The red witch banished diseases with the sacred names of Trotsky and Lenin:
You do not meddle with me, pains and ailments
Head and foot,
Animals and dorsal.
Like foreign enemies.
You, my head – Lenin,
You, my blood – the red army,
Save me, save me
From every pain and illness,
From every illness and disease …
As you can see, things went even further than Lenin thought: he expected only prayers for his health, and people began to heal their own ailments with his holy name …
The press in those years caustically ridiculed cases when the veneration of revolutionaries poured out into the usual old form of veneration of icons: Red Army soldiers were admonished with their portraits, the newlyweds were blessed, etc. But gradually the mood changed. In 1925, the Searchlight magazine printed a photograph of a village hut. The caption to it said: “Our photo shows the decoration of a peasant hut, typical for many tens of thousands. In the first corner of the hut, the old still dominates the new. Icons still huddle here, while the left corner is decorated with the leaders of our great revolution.” The magazine has already come to terms with the fact that the portraits of Lenin will take the place of icons in the soul of the peasant. It is curious that the owner of the hut hung the portrait of Lenin in a fobo closest to the icons, and the image of the living Ilyich – a little further …
It is surprising that Lenin was revered even by those peasants who knew him well during his lifetime. “That peasant woman (in Shushenskoye. – A.M.), in whose apartment he lived,” said G. Krzhizhanovsky in 1924, “still keeps his portrait in the front corner, hung with towels, as is done for the icons of saints. This peasant woman, it turns out, is very unwilling to the communists, but she is forced to make an exception for V.I., because in the way of his life he was, in her opinion, a truly holy man.
An anecdote of that time:
“A peasant enters a village shop and asks:
– Sell me the reins.
– Leaders? Here, please, there is Comrade Lenin, there is Comrade Trotsky. Who do you want?
“No, I don’t want those reins that are hung, but those that are ruled …”
Another anecdote of the 20s: “A worker received an award for good work – portraits of Lenin and Trotsky. He comes to a bare, empty room with a mattress on the floor and one nail in the wall and thinks: “Lenin hang, and put Trotsky against the wall, or is it better to hang Trotsky, and Lenin against the wall?”
Sometimes home icons and portraits started a uniform “war” among themselves. In 1923, such a case was described in the press. A certain communist gave a speech against religion. “Young people reproached him for having icons at home. The organizer of the youth, angry, having returned home, threw down and broke the icons. The wife, furious, rushed to the portraits of Marx, Lenin, etc. and tore them up. The truce took place on the fact that the wife refused the icons, and the husband from the portraits of Marx, Lenin, etc.”
Here are quite typical ditties for those years (from the Red Raven magazine for 1923) – a characteristic combination of humor and praise:
I don’t need lemonade,
I don’t want marmalade:
Open, dear, a purse –
Buy Lenin’s portrait.
“Lenin was an enemy of all etiquette and decorum.”
According to Krupskaya, Lenin “hated to the depths of his soul all philistinism, conventionality.” Bolshevik Mikhail Kedrov recalled how naturally Vladimir Ilyich behaved in the Constituent Assembly of 1918: “Ilyich immediately perched on the sloping, carpeted steps, not far from the podium, and remained in this position until the end of the meeting … At the most interesting moments, especially during the speech of Chernov, elected chairman of the meeting, interrupted at almost every word by playful choral remarks from the Bolshevik pews, Ilyich laughs uncontrollably. Ilyich was an enemy of all hypocrisy, all etiquette and ostentatious decorum. The Swedish journalist Otto Grimlund wrote about the same incident: “He was sitting on the stairs that led to the podium. For half an hour he sat like that, alone, thinking about something. Nobody bothered him.” Sometimes Lenin closed his eyes and it seemed fell asleep on this red carpet. The chairman of the Constituent Assembly, the right-wing Socialist-Revolutionary Viktor Chernov, later resented his behavior – how “lying down at full length and taking on the appearance of a man asleep from boredom,” Lenin demonstrated his disrespect for the assembly.
Vladimir Ilyich made no secret of the fact that he was not interested in the meeting of the Constituent Assembly. “It’s boring,” he admitted. “Something old is hovering around here.”
However, his behavior was explained, most likely, not by disrespect, but by ordinary looseness. In any case, a similar scene was repeated in the summer of 1921 at the Third Congress of the Comintern. Listening to the speakers, Lenin also sat down in his favorite place – on the steps of the podium. On his knees, he held the papers in which he made notes, and thinking, thoughtfully biting his “eternal pen.”
“We cleaned out this manure…”.
October 1917 finally abolished in Russia not only the monarchy, but also class titles and titles. Princes, counts, barons, hereditary honorary citizens – all now became simply “citizens”. The whole magnificent bouquet of secular titles has sunk into oblivion: from “Your Honor” to “Your Grace” …
Later, Lenin wrote scathingly about right-wing socialists: “These cowards, talkers, narcissists and Hamletists waved a cardboard sword – and they didn’t even destroy the monarchy! We threw out all the monarchical scum, like no one else, like never before. We have not left stone upon stone, brick upon brick in the age-old building of estates (the most advanced countries, like England, France, Germany, still have not got rid of traces of estates!)
Moreover, ordinary people received some privileges. With cards of the “first category” they could now buy more products than the former “cream of society”. From the feuilleton by A. Volkov (in the liberal Petrograd newspaper Sovremennoye Slovo, June 1918):
“Still, it’s not bad to be a sewer. I have never envied these dull people, but now I am envious … A face of the first category after all …
– Boiler cleaners, boners and wood splitters are also not bad …
– As a child, I caught sticklebacks in the Swan Canal – is it possible to pass for a fisherman … “
The revolution completely abolished the Petrine table of ranks. All military ranks disappeared from the army, from corporal to general. From now on, there are no life-long titles in society (except for scientific and church ones) at all – only temporary positions. Lenin remarked:
“As one White Guard publication put it: 400 years they collected manure in our state institutions; and we cleaned out this manure in four years – this is our greatest merit. But what did the Mensheviks and Socialist-Revolutionaries do? Nothing”.
The head of the Council of People’s Commissars always greeted the sentries at his office, shook hands with them, and sometimes treated them to tea. One day in 1920, in response to his greeting, the sentry barked valiantly:
– I wish you good health, your … stvo! ..
Vladimir Ilyich got angry:
– What kind of “yourness” is this? I don’t know such a word in Russian. There is no such word, no…
Lenin did not even like the appeal of “comrade Presovnarkom”: “What, what? Why so magnificent, my dear? Call me by my last name or by my first name. It’s much easier!”
The abolition of titles turned out to be quite strong and long-term: even in the 90s, of all secular titles, only an appeal to judges (“Your honor!”) Resurrected…
As for the abolition of military ranks, this revolutionary innovation lasted only until the mid-1930s. Then marshal and other life-long ranks appeared in the Red Army, followed by the rebirth of generals and admirals, and in 1943 the word “officers” came to life. The military uniform was adorned with gilded epaulettes, gold and silver aiguillettes, blossomed with scarlet stripes… The author of these lines was told a rather characteristic conversation of one of the “former” (professors) with a communist that took place in 1943.
“Explain,” the professor asked in surprise, “for what purpose does the government introduce shoulder straps in the Red Army?” First officer ranks, now shoulder straps – what happens, everything is like before the revolution?
– This is done to strengthen the authority of the leadership.
– So. Shouldn’t we now, in order to strengthen the authority of the leadership, introduce the position of king?
The communist was upset and indignant:
– How can you say that!
As you know, one of the main slogans of the revolution was the fight against all kinds of “parasite”. It is quite natural that outwardly useless pets – decorative dogs, cats, songbirds – have become a striking symbol of such “parasite”. Officially, however, no one banned them. But keeping them was now considered as if “indecent”, bad form, a manifestation of nobility.
In the press of the 1920s one can come across, for example, an indignant letter from readers who complain that their neighbors have brought a dog, Polkan, in a communal apartment. How not ashamed to occupy the living space with a dog in the current cramped condition! A caricature by Yu. Annenkov in the magazine “Amanita” in 1922 depicted a wealthy metropolitan young lady wrapped in furs, from whose clothes a pretty lap dog peeps out. The young lady sighs sadly: “Oh, how terrible it is … on the Volga they eat dogs.”
A characteristic joke from the press of those years – two acquaintances meet on the street, one of them walks a decorative dog:
– What are you, comrade. Piskunov is a conscientious worker, but take the dog with you—a bourgeois prejudice!
– What, what is a bourgeois prejudice? After all, he’s on my chain! ..
The surviving nobles in the 20s and 30s, in spite of everything, created clubs for dog breeding lovers, held exhibitions of greyhounds. It was one of the few permitted forms of unification of the former “noble class”.
It is no coincidence that Vladimir Mayakovsky saw a kind of apocalyptic canary and … a kitten as the main enemies that bring death to the revolution:
On the wall Marx. Ala frame.
On “Izvestia” lying, the kitten is heated.
And from under the ceiling
a rabid canary is chirping.
Marx looked and looked from the wall …
And suddenly he opened his mouth, and how he yelled:
“The philistines have entangled the revolution with threads.
More terrible than Wrangel is the philistine way of life. Hurry
up and turn the heads of the canaries so that communism is not beaten by the canaries!”
And the leader of the Smenovekhites, Nikolai Ustryalov, on the contrary, resolutely took the side of the sinister “bird of the Apocalypse”, which appeared to the poet in the form of a small yellow bird. To emphasize the sharp difference in his vision, he likened the same canary … to the Kingdom of God, which is “within us.” Ustryalov wrote in 1923 in the non-partisan magazine Rossiya: “The poet of the anti-aircraft achievements of the revolution, inspired by rebellion and chaos, Mayakovsky, with his last strength, denounces the canary that he saw in the apartment of a certain communist, one of many … Alas, it is not so easy to turn canary neck! This is not Denikin, not Kolchak, not even the Entente. For the canary – “there is inside us …”. “When … a starling and a cozy canary whistle the Internationale,” noted Smenovekhi’s publicist, “it involuntarily begins to seem that a combed storm ceases to be a storm.”
It is hard to argue that, in the final analysis, it was precisely such a seemingly harmless bird that “pecked” Bolshevism… On which side was Lenin in this great “dispute about the canary”? Judging by external signs, it seems that he is not on the side of Mayakovsky. Vladimir Ilyich was very fond of pets. “He was always drawn to play with a beautiful fluffy kitten,” Lepeshinsky remarked, “(cats, this is his weakness).” “He could not indifferently pass by a cat without stroking and playing with her,” added Olga Lepeshinskaya. “His favorites are children and kittens,” wrote Lunacharsky. “He can sometimes play with them for hours.”
While in exile, Lenin once said: “Nadezhda Konstantinovna especially loves our animals. We have almost a menagerie in our house: both kittens and puppies. They just run towards us. Once even a whole horse came to us … “
Lenin retained this attachment even after the revolution. Clara Zetkin recalled 1920, when she was visiting his house: “When Lenin came and when a little later a big cat appeared, cheerfully welcomed by the whole family, she jumped on the shoulders of the “terrible leader of terrorists” and then curled up in a comfortable position on her knees him.” “When he [Lenin] was already sick,” said M. Ulyanova, “someone got him a little puppy, an Irish setter. They got one – he fell ill with the plague and died. Then they got another. In 1922, when he was ill, he took care of him a lot.” The name of this setter was Ida.
In 1921, the American journalist Louise Bryant asked Krupskaya if the foreign press was telling the truth that Lenin kept as many as seven cats at home. Krupskaya laughed: “This is a great example of how everything about Russia is exaggerated. The truth is this: both my husband and I love animals, but now no one in Russia gets pets because of food difficulties … We have only one cat. But for a sensation, an American reporter needs at least seven of them!”
Later, this “philistine” trait of Vladimir Ilyich turned out to be very suitable for the whole spirit of the late Soviet era. Stories about Lenin’s touching love for pets were included in school anthologies. Which was not at all surprising – after all, the “canary” was now triumphantly winning on all fronts …
Krupskaya spoke of this with poorly concealed indignation: “Least of all was Ilyich … with his passionate attitude to everything, that virtuous tradesman, as he is sometimes portrayed now: an exemplary family man – wife, children, family cards on the table, a book, an oriental dressing gown , a purring kitten on her knees, and all around is a lordly “environment” in which Ilyich “rests” from public life. Each step of Vladimir Ilyich is passed through the prism of some kind of philistine sentimentality. It would be better to write less on these topics.
“Revolutions are a holiday…”
Lenin himself considered the revolution a joyful, cheerful time. He called revolutions in general “the festival of the oppressed.” Back in 1906, he wrote: “It is fun to live at a time when the popular masses begin to live political life.” And after October, new holidays were established in life – May 1, the day of the October Revolution, the day of the February Revolution, the day of the Paris Commune …
The newspaper Pravda wrote on the eve of the first anniversary of the October Revolution: “The first holiday in thousands of years is a workers’ and peasants’ holiday! The first! It should be celebrated in some special way, so that it is not at all like the way festivities used to be held. It must be done somehow so that the whole world sees, hears, is surprised, praises, and so that people in all countries want to do the same in their own country.”
On this day, more than a dozen monuments were opened in the capital, including Dostoevsky, Kalyaev, Sofya Perovskaya, Human Thought … A large painting depicting Stenka Razin was hung on one of the buildings in the center of Moscow. They solemnly burned the emblems of the old system, fired rockets, arranged fireworks. White-and-red airplanes scattered leaflets over the city. But the main events of the holiday were, of course, the parade and the people’s procession on Red Square. “Never before has Moscow seen such a huge demonstration,” Pravda noted. – Workers pass by; on the front poster they have written: “We will show the way to the earth a new one. Labor will become the ruler of the world.” Women are walking, there are many of them, their faces are cheerful, fervent, and they sing “Dubinushka” at the top of their voices, together, loudly and loudly picking up “Hey, let’s go!”. And then they laugh from excitement, pleasure, and some from embarrassment.
Lenin considered it important that celebratory demonstrations should by no means be carried out “officially”, insincerely.
V. Bonch-Bruevich recalled his conversation with Lenin on May 1, 1918: “He began to ask me what the demonstrators were saying to each other, what was the mood among the masses on the square, were they not treating the demonstration in a formal way? Are they forced to go? Is there a feeling that they are following orders? The Evening News newspaper described a funny scene at this May Day demonstration: the workers carried a portrait of Karl Marx, made like a banner. “Some God’s old woman earnestly crosses herself and says:
– What is this, my dears, what a saint, what? ..
– Miracle worker, grandmother … “
During the 1920s, along with the “days of the revolution”, the old “red days” – Christmas, Easter, and other Orthodox holidays – were kept in the official calendar… People could choose what they prefer to celebrate. The author of Birzhevye Vedomosti, Lydia Lesnaya, sarcastically remarked on this subject (in 1918):
Every day at rallies in revolutionary style
We say that we do not believe in God.
But in order, God forbid, to work for us
On the day of “St. Spirit” or “Entrance into the Temple”?! Never!
Throughout the 1920s, this peculiar “war of holidays” continued. Most of all, the Christmas tree was denounced in the press. She was not banned, but ridiculed in every possible way. Popular children’s ditty of those years:
Komsomol members, Komsomol members,
We do without a Christmas tree. In-
And Bole nothing!
And here are more lengthy “anti-Christmas tree” poems from 1923 (they are also addressed to children):
Instead of songs now – speeches.
Became a cracker for you – Colt.
Christmas tree candles are fading
Before a thousand volt lamp.
You are used to different sounds.
You have made others dream.
Not akin to October grandchildren
Old-fashioned Santa Claus.
You are not spinning to no avail
At the pace of the Poles: one and two …
So – take, brothers, a Christmas tree
And chop it for firewood!
To, laughing, incinerate in the stove
In the coniferous splashing heat
Stars, clusters, sparkles, candles –
All Christ’s tinsel!
Santa Claus got it just as hard … In the caricature of I. Malyutin, a boy in a red tie condescendingly asked Grandfather, examining the gifts he brought (a Christmas tree, a doll, perfume, white shirts, a cross, a fan): “What are you, grandfather, did you bring any unnecessary rubbish?”
And when he saw toy soldiers in a gift, the pioneer exclaimed in disappointment: “Ah, these are the White Guards! ..”
The worker portrayed by Boris Efimov kicked in the ass both Santa Claus with a Christmas tree and a naked baby – the New Year. They flew head over heels, and he admonished them: “I’m tired of looking at you every year on the pages of magazines! Enough!”
An even darker end to Father Christmas was predicted by the Drezina magazine in 1923. In the picture, Grandfather with a bag of gifts was benevolently knocking on the door, and the residents, fearing raiders, were already preparing to meet him – some with a poker, some with an umbrella, some with an ax …
In the 1920s, supporters of the Christmas tree finally “went into opposition” – many decorated it at home, but no more Christmas trees were arranged in schools or kindergartens.
Well, how did Vladimir Ilyich himself feel about the Christmas tree holiday? Apparently, he did not see anything shameful in him. In January 1919, raiders attacked his car, just as he was on his way to such a holiday at the Forest School. (This case is described above.) Despite such a nuisance, Lenin nevertheless came to the Christmas tree and had fun there from the bottom of his heart. The fact that a couple of hours earlier he had stood under the muzzles of two revolvers aimed at his temples did not in the least darken his mood.
“Vladimir Ilyich has completely delved into the matter of the children’s holiday,” wrote V. Bonch-Bruevich. Laughter and jokes filled the room. Vladimir Ilyich laughed joyfully, and it seemed that he forgot everything in the world … “
“What are we all standing for? he asked the children. “We’re wasting time for nothing! .. Now let’s dance around the Christmas tree, we’ll sing, and then cat and mouse …”
“And Vladimir Ilyich grabbed the hands of the children who were standing near him and instantly rushed around the Christmas tree, dragging absolutely everyone with him … Everyone picked up the song about the Christmas tree and whirled around it … All the kids sang, and Vladimir Ilyich also sang. Singing was followed by games. Vladimir Ilyich took the liveliest part in them and not only got carried away, but fell into a passion … and was immediately indignant if someone was out of tune in the game … How enthusiastically he plays, not letting the cat pass, protecting the mouse!
In the house of Vladimir Ilyich, Christmas trees were decorated in subsequent years, when the struggle against them was already in full swing in the press. On Christmas Day, January 7, 1924, a holiday was also arranged for children from neighboring villages – a five-meter Christmas tree was decorated. Vladimir Ilyich himself was also present at the celebration. “The Christmas tree in those days was an extraordinary phenomenon,” N. Semashko noted. “Naturally, the peasant kids, for the first time in their lives, seeing a Christmas tree shining with lights and gifts, cheered up, got naughty … They climbed on his knees, molested.” Lenin’s relatives tried to calm the overly violent fun and running around of the children, but Vladimir Ilyich showed signs that the children should not be disturbed … Journalist Mikhail Koltsov, who visited Lenin’s house immediately after his death, wrote: hoarfrost – the last fun of little friends … “
The New Year tree solemnly returned to the Land of Soviets only in 1936. Along the way, she changed the octagonal star of Bethlehem to a five-pointed red one, and the Christmas Santa finally turned into secular Santa Claus. Of course, the former participation of Lenin in the Christmas trees, as it were, blessed the revived holiday, and this was often remembered in subsequent years. In the 70s, an anecdote appeared: “Vladimir Ilyich Lenin liked to go to New Year’s matinees. But somehow the bald bearded snowflake looked ridiculous together with the dancing children!!!”…
As for the revolutionary holidays, they were canceled gradually, starting from the 30s. The main holidays – May 1 and November 7 – survived until the 21st century, when the tricolor flag began to fly over the Kremlin again. (November 7 was canceled in 2004.)
“Work should become joy.”
Each revolution needs its own, ideal image of a worker, a “common man”. He is diligently imitated by the elite born of the revolution. In the era of Caesar, this role was played by a shepherd (the famous shepherd poems of Virgil), during the years of the French Revolution, by a sans-culotte (that is, a commoner dressed in long American-style trousers), and the Russian revolution proclaimed its ideal of the proletarian, the worker.
And if in ancient Rome the emperor, in order to partake of physical labor, sometimes dragged the fragments of burnt buildings on his back, then in Russia this symbolic role was played by the May Day subbotnik of 1920. Subbotnik is a day of voluntary, free work invented by the revolution, a “labor holiday”. Lenin carried garbage and logs in the courtyard of the Kremlin with his own hands during this subbotnik. This event made an indelible impression on contemporaries…
The behavior of Vladimir Ilyich on that day, every word thrown by him is described many times in many memoirs. They tried to report to him, but he did not accept the report:
– Everyone is equal on Saturday.
And he asked:
– You tell me what to do.
– Isn’t such hard physical labor harmful to you, after all, you are after being wounded? someone asked.
– Nothing, let’s work … Physical labor is useful.
“We’ll handle it ourselves, and you have better things to do.”
“Now this is the most important thing.
Carrying rubbish and bricks, Vladimir Ilyich walked quickly, almost ran, as if setting those around him at a high pace of work. He picked up oak logs and commanded cheerfully:
– Have taken! Taken again!
He forbade taking pictures of himself at work:
– What kind of comedy? I came to work, not to act. We don’t work for show…
One poor photograph was nevertheless taken on the sly – in it, Lenin, together with five cadets, carries a large log, standing under the butt. He was persuaded to take a log for a thinner and lighter top. One of his companions said:
You are fifty years old and I am twenty-eight.
“You recognize yourself as a junior,” Lenin objected cheerfully, “that means obey your elders and move forward.
Each of the participants in the subbotnik wanted to be paired with Vladimir Ilyich, and a silent queue arose among them. Then they joked that the Lenin log in the memoirs was dragged by so many people that this log could freely reach the moon …
Having arranged a smoke break, the participants of the subbotnik sat down on logs and invited Lenin to “smoke” with them. He refused:
– I don’t find any interest in this fun … I remember when I was a schoolboy, once, together with others, I got so drunk that I felt sick. Each time smoking caused nausea. So since then I don’t smoke and I don’t advise you.
But he gladly sang a song together with everyone: “Our banner flies over the world …” – he was the first to pick it up.
“He laughed a lot that day, contagious, fun!” – recalled the Bolshevik Pyotr Zaslavsky. In total, Lenin spent four hours on the subbotnik that day. Before leaving, he asked permission from the commander.
This was not the only, but only the most famous case when the head of the Soviet government was engaged in manual labor along with everyone else. So, in the autumn of 1920, he unloaded firewood on the Moscow River. More than once and with passion he was engaged in snow removal in the Kremlin.
“I went out to get some fresh air,” he once explained, when the Kremlin cadets caught him clearing snow, “and here I see how much snow has accumulated …
– We’ll take it ourselves.
“Am I not a resident of the Kremlin?”
“Work must become joy,” said Lenin.
In the early 1920s, the veneration of the worker and the cult of labor still looked fresh and unexpected. One of the Soviet posters depicted a simple worker, raised to the height of the throne for the first time… Over the years, the cult of labor and the worker became more and more lifeless and insincere, causing malicious ridicule to finally disappear in the early 90s.
But even twenty years before that, a lot of jokes about subbotnik appeared in Soviet folklore:
“What kind of Easter are there?
“The Jewish one commemorates the exodus of the Jews from Egypt, the Christian one commemorates the resurrection of Jesus, and the Soviet one commemorates how Lenin carried the log.”
“Ilyich did not notice the beam in his own eye.” Dzerzhinsky calls Lenin:
“Vladimir Ilyich, are you going to the subbotnik tomorrow?”
– No I am busy.
“Then lend me your inflatable log.”
The revolution casually overturned what looked much more durable than any royal thrones – everyday customs. It is they who always seem to people to be truly unshakable and eternal. It seems that it can be more sustainable than everyday habits and traditions?
A vivid manifestation of this “domestic revolution” was the wave of “new names” that swept the country. Of course, no one prevented people from calling children in the old fashioned way by the usual names from the Orthodox saints. Most parents did just that. But to many, these names already seemed vulgar, outdated and petty-bourgeois. The new government just ALLOWED to give children non-traditional names – and this turned out to be quite enough for the violent revelry of folk fantasy. At a party meeting in 1923, a party worker named Gordon said:
– Recently we talked and came to the conclusion that why the hell are we going to call our children by the names that are given by the saints. Each name is the name of some thing in a foreign language … Let’s make a revolution here and call other names that suit us …
These sentiments were reflected in the then caricature of Boris Efimov – on it Lenin shook upside down from the calendar sheet the saints Martyrius, Ansetalia and Markian. These saints were especially unlucky – their memory fell on the day of the revolution, October 25 … However, the question arose: if you do not call children by their former names, then how?
“They even suggested the name Crocodile,” Gordon remarked.
Another participant in the same meeting, Osipov, said:
– I know one case when it was proposed to name Ilyich. Then the father came back and asked: is it possible to add Lenin? They said it’s possible. Well, he says, let’s call it: Ilyich Lenin …
And so, regardless of the will of Vladimir Ilyich himself, his name, patronymic and party pseudonym served as rich food for folk art. Here are just some of the names of the 20s, the “ancestor” of which unwittingly turned out to be the head of the Council of People’s Commissars:
- Vilich, Vladich – Vladimir Ilyich;
- Viden, Wil, Wil – V. I. Lenin;
- Vladilen, Vladilena – Vladimir Ilyich Lenin;
- Viulen – V. I. Ulyanov-Lenin;
- Vladlen, Vladlena – Vladimir Lenin;
- Lenul – Lenin-Ulyanov;
- Ninel – “Lenin”, read the other way around.
Of this galaxy of names, Vilen and Vladlen turned out to be the most long-lived. They continued to be given to children in the 21st century, when the rest of Lenin’s names had long been “turned” into patronymics or completely forgotten. True, many parents now sincerely believed that Vilen and Vladlen were ancient, primordially Slavic names. In 2004, on an Internet forum, one could read the following message: “We liked the name Vilen, but as soon as we found out that this was an abbreviation for Vladimir Ilyich Lenin, it immediately disappeared!” Journalist Rostislav Bardokin described such a case: “At one time I argued with my acquaintance because of the name of his daughter. “Vilena is an old beautiful Russian name,” said a friend. “Oh, okay,” I disappointed him, “the name may be beautiful, but it’s not old at all, it’s seventy years old at the most. Vilena – Vladimir Ilyich Lenin. The comrade was indignant, ran to look at dictionaries,
Gradually, the creators of new names “became bolder”, and slogans popular in the 1920s became food for their creativity. Such, for example, as:
- Velor – the great Lenin – the organizer of the revolution;
- Vilor – V. I. Lenin – the organizer of the revolution;
- Vilyur – Vladimir Ilyich loves the workers;
- Vinun – Vladimir Ilyich will never die;
- The division – the cause of Lenin lives on;
- Isaida – follow Ilyich, baby;
- Isil – fulfill the precepts of Ilyich;
- Ledrud – Lenin – a friend of children;
- Lelyud – Lenin loves children;
- Lengenmir – Lenin – the genius of the world;
- Lenora – Lenin – our weapon;
- Leundezh – Lenin died, but his work lives on;
- Luigi – Lenin is dead, ideas are alive;
- Lunik – Lenin is dead, but the ideas are strong;
- Lunio – Lenin died, but the ideas remained;
- Lyublen – love Lenin;
- Motvil – we are from V. I. Lenin;
- Benefit – remember Lenin’s precepts;
- Roblin – born to be a Leninist;
- Yaslen – I’m with Lenin;
- Yaslenik – I’m with Lenin and Krupskaya…
Of course, epithets like “the genius of the world” would most likely make Vladimir Ilyich himself boil with indignation (“they call it a genius, just the devil knows what it is!”). But he was no longer the master of his own name… The revolution from “Thermidor” spontaneously developed into the era of the empire, with its indispensable exaltation of one person. And with all his unwillingness to play this role, Lenin could not do anything about it …
Lenin’s names were only a part of the general stream of revolutionary names. There were Trotskyist names (Ledav, Ledat – Lev Davidovich Trotsky), Stalinist (for example, Stator – Stalin triumphs) and all kinds of others: Reva and Lucia, Barricade, Grenade, Utopia, Anarchy, Terror … But even only one list of Lenin’s names ( of course, incomplete) is amazing:
- Arvil – the army of V.I. Lenin;
- Arlen – Lenin’s army;
- Varlin – the great army of Lenin;
- Vidlen – the great ideas of Lenin;
- Vilior – V. I. Lenin and the October Revolution;
- Viliorica – V. I. Lenin, the International, the October Revolution and the Red Army;
- Vilan – V. I. Lenin, Academy of Sciences;
- Vilian – V. I. Lenin and the Academy of Sciences;
- Vilorik – V. I. Lenin – the liberator of the workers and peasants;
- Vilord – V. I. Lenin – the organizer of the labor movement;
- Vilork – V.I. Lenin – the organizer of the revolutionary commune;
- Vilkim – Vladimir Ilyich – the communist ideal of youth;
- Vilnur – “V. I. Lenin nura” (in Arabic “the light of V. I. Lenin”);
- Vilsor – Vladimir Ilyich – the creator of the October Revolution;
- Volen – the will of Lenin;
- Idlen – Lenin’s ideas;
- Ilkom – Ilyich, commune;
- Lemir – Lenin and the world revolution;
- Lenar – Lenin’s army;
- Leniz – Lenin’s precepts;
- Lenik – Lenin and communism;
- Leninid – Lenin’s ideas;
- Leninism – Lenin and the banner of Marxism;
- Leninir – Lenin and the Revolution;
- Lenior – Lenin and the October Revolution;
- Lenmark – Lenin, Marx;
- Tape – Lenin’s labor army;
- Lentrosh – Lenin, Trotsky, Shaumyan;
- Lener – Lenin era;
- Loriks – Lenin, October Revolution, industrialization, collectivization, socialism;
- Lorierik – Lenin, the October Revolution, industrialization, electrification, radio and communism;
- Lary – Lenin, electrification, revolution, industrialization;
- Marksilen – Marx and Lenin;
- Marlene – Marx, Lenin;
- Marceline – Marx, Engels, Lenin, the International, the people’s army;
- Malor – Marx, Engels, Lenin, October Revolution;
- Orletos – October Revolution, Lenin, labor – the basis of socialism;
- Plinta – the party of Lenin and the people’s labor army;
- Corrected – the truth of Lenin;
- Radiel – for Lenin’s sake, Lenin’s radio;
- Silenus – the strength of Lenin;
- Tomil, Tormil – the triumph of Marx and Lenin;
- Trolen – Trotsky, Lenin;
- Helen – the era of Lenin;
- Eric – electrification, radio, industrialization, communism;
- Erlen – the era of Lenin …
In the 1920s, the wave of revolutionary names also spread to animals: horses in the cavalry and even … trotters on the hippodromes (although in the latter case it already looked like a mockery – and did not take root).
The Bolsheviks also greatly simplified the change of surname, for which in the old days it was required to ask permission from the sovereign-emperor himself. True, in anticipation of the appearance of entire hordes of new “Lenins”, the surname “Lenin” in 1924 was forbidden to be accepted. Surnames and nicknames of all the other leaders (Kamenev, Stalin and others) were then allowed to be called, which many willingly used. In a humorous drawing by Ivan Malyutin, a passer-by asked:
“Citizen, do you know where Ivan Evstigneevich Zyuzyukin lives here?
– There are none now. All the Kamenevs live along our street, and all the Lev Borisychi…”
Revolutionary names were given not only in Russia, this craze swept the whole world. The Soviet doctor Oleg Zubov, who worked in the 80s on the Cape Verde Islands, recalled: “The reception is underway. José Carlos… Sidonio Peres… And suddenly – stop! LENIN Rodriguez! A five-year-old creature appears at the door, accompanied by her mother…
– I wonder, señora, why did you choose such a name for your son?
“My father called it that, he read Lenin’s books … Subsequently, I more than once met young Zeleny Mysians who, along with their names – José, Carlos, proudly bore the immortal name Lenin (Zelenomysts often have double names).”
In honor of Lenin, the Chilean communist writer Volodya Teitelboim received his name. In the 40s, when the fashion for revolutionary names was already fading in the USSR, three brothers were born in Venezuela – Vladimir, Ilyich and Lenin. Of these, Ilyich Ramirez Sanchez, who became an international terrorist of the left, became the most famous. Later, while serving a life sentence in a French prison, Ilyich converted to Islam and joined the supporters of Osama bin Laden …
It is curious to compare the situation with the new names in Russia in the 1920s (when officials meekly accepted the most bizarre creations of popular imagination) and the beginning of the 21st century. A typical case occurred when the parents of a Moscow boy tried to give their son a name they invented – BOC rVF 260602 (which meant “Biological Object Man of the Voronin-Frolov family, born on June 26, 2002”). But the employees of the registry office flatly refused to register a child with a similar name …
“We’ll take down all this rubbish.”
The Futurist Newspaper in March 1918 was indignant that the revolution had not yet completely affected the “realm of the Spirit” – that is, art. Even the appearance of city streets has not changed! “As before, the monuments of generals, princes – tsar’s mistresses and tsarina’s lovers stand with a heavy, dirty foot on the throats of young streets,” poets (V. Mayakovsky, D. Burliuk and V. Kamensky) were indignant. The third revolution after February and October is ripe – the “revolution of the Spirit”.
Around the same time, Vladimir Lenin (who was by no means a fan of the futurists) began to express similar thoughts. “Vladimir Ilyich,” wrote V. Bonch-Bruevich, “very soon proposed to think about such an adornment of our Red Capital, which would immediately give it a completely different appearance compared to other European cities.”
Why did Lenin consider this matter especially urgent and important? “Whether we will remain in power or be overthrown,” Trotsky explained his position, “cannot be foreseen … He sought to have as many revolutionary monuments erected as possible … in all cities, and if possible, in the villages: fix in the imagination of the masses is what happened; leave as deep a furrow as possible in the memory of the people.
“For a long time this idea has floated before me,” Lenin said to Lunacharsky, “which I will present to you now. Do you remember that Campanella in his “Solar State” says that frescoes are painted on the walls of his fantastic socialist city, which serve for young people as a visual lesson in natural science, history, excite civic feeling – in a word, they participate in the education, upbringing of new generations . It seems to me that this is far from naive and, with a certain change, could be assimilated and implemented by us right now … I would call what I think monumental propaganda … Our climate is unlikely to allow the frescoes that Campanella dreams of . That is why I am talking mainly about sculptors and poets. In various prominent places … brief but expressive inscriptions could be scattered … Please do not think that at the same time I imagine marble, granite and golden letters. For the time being, we must do everything modestly… I consider monuments even more important than inscriptions: busts or whole figures, maybe bas-reliefs, groups. It is necessary to compile a list of those predecessors of socialism or its theoreticians and fighters, as well as those luminaries of philosophical thought, science, art, etc., who, although they had no direct relation to socialism, were genuine heroes of culture … Particular attention should be paid to and for the opening of such monuments … Let each such discovery be an act of propaganda and a small holiday … “
Such a proposal by Lenin in the alarming spring of 1918 sounded completely unexpected. “To tell the truth,” Lunacharsky admitted, “I was completely stunned and blinded by this proposal. I liked it extremely… Implementation, however, went a little awry… In Moscow, where Vladimir Ilyich could just see the monuments, they were unsuccessful. Marx and Engels were depicted in some kind of pool and received the nickname “bearded bathers.” The sculptor Korolev surpassed everyone. For a long time, people and horses, walking and riding along Myasnitskaya Street, squinted timidly at some enraged figure, covered with boards as a precaution. It was Bakunin in the interpretation of a respected artist. If I am not mistaken, the monument was destroyed by anarchists immediately after its opening,
However, the anarchists generally did not approve of Lenin’s undertaking with monuments. On May 3, 1918, the Moscow newspaper Anarchia urged: “May all monuments disappear!.. And the idiotic figures of autocrats, and others, others: Pushkin, Fedorov, Minin, Lenin, Bakunin … What are these ridiculous bronze idols, funny dolls for? maybe the work of talented people?.. Live in the present! Worship living idols, creators, geniuses, inventors! .. Stop worshiping the dead! .. Down with monuments and all memory of death, otherwise the world will soon turn into a sea with a suffocating smell, and we are already suffocating from stinking museums! On June 1, publicist Vladimir Shokin wrote in Anarchy: “The Bolsheviks are overthrown from the squares the old idols that adorn the squares, the idols of an age that is fading in the history of the century. But they want to replace the old ones with new idols, new idols…
On the other hand, Lenin’s plan also inherited from the Mensheviks. The newspaper Vecher Moskvy, which is close to them, sarcastically wrote in November 1918: “Soviet leaders are in a hurry … The futurists and other mediocrities who have come to the maintenance of the Soviet republic are feverishly creating “proletarian art.” Mass production has been set up, and immediately, in whole bundles, monuments to the great figures of mankind are hastily opened. There is no need that these monuments are scanty, that they do not have grandeur, beauty, strength … Cheap works of cheap art … They are in a hurry to live, not relying on their tomorrow.
The sculptor Sergei Merkurov persistently sought Lenin’s approval of the extravagant project of the monument “Karl Marx standing on four elephants” … All this annoyed Lenin. “He once told me with displeasure,” Lunacharsky remarked, “that nothing came of monumental propaganda.”
Monuments were also erected to mythical characters – mainly god-fighters and freethinkers, such as Prometheus (the rebellious titan was usually depicted with fragments of chains on his arms and legs). The Danish writer Henning Keller recalled how in 1918 in the city of Sviyazhsk he watched the opening ceremony of the monument to Judas Iscariot. The local authorities argued for a long time which of the theomachists more deserved to be immortalized – Cain, Lucifer or Judas Iscariot. In the end, they decided that the monument to Lucifer would contradict the idea of denying God, and Cain is too legendary a person … On the opening day, when the cover fell to the ground, the audience saw a sculpture of Judas Iscariot in full growth, brown-red color. The man, with his face turned upwards, threatened the heavens with his raised fist, convulsively plucking the noose from his neck.
Of course, in addition to the erection of new monuments, the revolution destroyed the monuments of the past. The first of them collapsed after February: in Kyiv, a sculpture of Pyotr Stolypin was thrown off its pedestal. The demolition itself was staged as a spectacular theatrical action: the figure of the tsarist prime minister was wrapped around the neck with iron chains and so lifted into the air by a crane … On one of the cartoons dedicated to this event, the spirit of Stolypin spoke from heaven, watching the “hanging” of his sculpture: “ How fortunate it was that I applied my “Stolypin” tie to others during my lifetime, but it was applied to me only a few years after my death … “
But the real mass demolition of monuments began in 1918. “Vladimir Ilyich,” wrote the commandant of the Moscow Kremlin P. Malkov, “in general could not stand monuments to tsars, grand dukes, all generals glorified under the tsar … At the suggestion of Vladimir Ilyich, in 1918, monuments to Alexander II in the Kremlin, Alexander III near the Cathedral of Christ the Savior, to General Skobelev … We will demolish all this rubbish, he said.
After the demolition of the monument, Skobelevskaya Square was renamed Sovietskaya. A comic “overheard conversation” about this demolition (from the newspaper “Baba Yaga”):
“On the Soviet square.
– This, Mityukha, what kind of building is this?
– And this, they say, is a monument to Skobelev.
Where is he, general?
“Yes, you must get off your horse.”
– Where is the horse?
– A horse … Why don’t you die.
– You should be dead. Oats, they say, are completely absent in Moscow … “
Sovetskaya Square for a long time became the place where the most obvious symbol of the current era stood. The place of the tsarist general was taken by a symbolic female figure – Freedom! She stood here throughout the 20s and 30s. In the 1940s, Svoboda was removed. Then, in 1954, an equestrian statue of Prince Yuri Dolgoruky, the founder of Moscow, appeared in the “vacated” place. Then it looked shocking and almost scandalous – a monument to the prince under Soviet rule! Moreover, in exchange for Freedom… Nevertheless, this very accurately reflected the gradual, quiet restoration of traditional values, which became apparent to the whole world in the 90s…
Lenin himself took part in the demolition of one of the monuments. Malkov recalled the May Day 1918 subbotnik in the Kremlin: “Vladimir Ilyich came out. He was cheerful, joking, laughing. When I approached, Ilyich greeted me cordially, congratulated me on the holiday, and then suddenly jokingly shook his finger.
– All right, my friend, everything is fine, but this disgrace has not been removed. It’s not good. “And he pointed to a monument erected at the site of the murder of Grand Duke Sergei Alexandrovich.” Lenin sarcastically asked Matkov:
– Obviously, you like that in front of the Soviet building – do you hear? – One of the representatives of the Romanov dynasty is sticking out of the Soviet government?
The commandant began to make excuses that he had no workers and did not know what to do.
“Oh, you don’t know what to do?” Get the ropes over here. P. Malkov: “I immediately ran to the commandant’s office and brought ropes. Vladimir Ilyich deftly made a noose and threw it over the monument…
– Well, together! Vladimir Ilyich commanded fervently.
Lenin, Sverdlov, Avanesov, Smidovich … harnessed themselves to the ropes, leaned over, pulled, and the monument collapsed on the cobblestone.
– Get him out of sight, to the dump! Vladimir Ilyich continued to command.
Dozens of hands grabbed the ropes, and the monument rattled along the cobblestones to the Tainitsky Garden.
“In this place,” declared Vladimir Ilyich, “the revolutionary proletariat must erect a monument to the brave fighter Kalyaev, who destroyed one of the most disgusting representatives of the Romanovs.
Lenin was not embarrassed by the fact that the terrorist Ivan Kalyaev, who blew up the Grand Duke with a bomb, was a Socialist-Revolutionary – that is, a comrade in the party of Kerensky and Fanny Kaplan … The bust of Kalyaev was indeed placed near the building of the former City Duma. Also, Kalyaevskaya Street appeared in Moscow (renamed Dolgorukovskaya in the 1990s) …
Lenin especially liked to rethink old monuments, to put new meaning into them. The writer Herbert Wells, who visited Moscow in 1920, wrote: “Churches are open; crowds of worshipers diligently kiss the icons… The famous chapel of the miraculous Iberian Mother of God near the Spassky Gate is especially popular; many peasant women, unable to get inside, kiss its stone walls. Just opposite it, on the wall of the house, the now famous slogan is displayed in a frame: “Religion is the opium of the people.” This stucco inscription was made at the suggestion of Lenin… Another inscription appeared on the pediment of the former Moscow City Duma: “Revolution is a whirlwind that throws back everyone who resists it!”…
In the Kremlin, Vladimir Ilyich once asked Bonch-Bruevich:
– Where was Tolstoy excommunicated from the church? ..
– In the Assumption Cathedral …
– That’s good, the best thing to do is to remove it, – he pointed to the monument to Alexander II, – and here put a good statue of Leo Tolstoy, facing the Assumption Cathedral. This will come in handy.
“This idea of Vladimir Ilyich has not been realized to this day,” wrote Bonch-Bruevich. (It was not fulfilled even later.)
The opening of the monument to “Stenka Razin with a gang” on Red Square made a special impression on society. Lenin himself opened this monument on May 1, 1919, and delivered a speech from the Execution Ground.
Monument to the robber, ataman of the homeless! And just where he was once quartered – at the Execution Ground. The place of execution turned into a place of glory. Among the Razin gang, a Persian princess was also depicted, according to legend, thrown by the ataman into the Volga. The magazine “New Satyricon” in the caricature contrasted the monuments to Razin and Karl Marx. Little Marx crouched modestly in the shadow of Razin’s huge, self-confidently akimbo colossus. Marx says: “Razin and I, it seems, are not alike, but how amazingly the good Russian people confuse us …”
And about the intention to install a monument to Marx on his grave in London with Soviet money, the magazine venomously noted: “There is a lot of common sense and true love for the deceased in this project. Namely: since Marx, by the grace of the Bolsheviks, will have to turn over in his grave more than once, in order to avoid this, a Russian monument is placed on the grave. They press down – you won’t turn over. ” The newspaper Devil’s Pepper Pot laughed in the summer of 1918: “A monument to Karl Marx has been erected in Yelabuga. The population makes sacrifices, smears their lips with honey and sings songs near the monument.
In April 1918, Lenin signed a decree according to which “monuments erected in honor of tsars and their servants” were to be demolished. However, when Vladimir Ilyich was asked from Petrograd how to deal with the numerous monuments to the tsars, he answered unexpectedly: “All the monuments must remain in place. Let the future generation see those who oppressed the people in the image that the era has given them.
Thanks to this order, even the monument to Emperor Nicholas 1, who sent the Decembrists to be executed, was not touched in the city on the Neva. However, “staying still” did not mean “remaining an object of reverence”. And very characteristically in this sense, the revolution dealt with the famous equestrian monument to Alexander III in Petrograd on Znamenskaya Square. By decision of the Petrosoviet in 1922, poems by Demyan Bedny, entitled “Scarecrow”, were carved on it. The quatrain was written as if on behalf of the late king:
My son and my father were executed during their lifetime.
And I reaped the fate of posthumous infamy: I’m sticking
around here like a cast-iron scarecrow for the country.
Forever thrown off the yoke of autocracy.
Lenin approved and welcomed this inscription. Although he spoke about Demyan Bedny in different ways: on the one hand, he appreciated him, calling him “the battering ram of our revolution.” But sometimes he spoke of his poems without much enthusiasm: “Rude. It follows the reader, but you have to be a little ahead”; “Vulgar, oh, how vulgar; and cannot live without pornography.”
“How to make the chimes play the Internationale?
During the fighting in Moscow between the Red, Black and White Guards, a cannon shell hit the Kremlin chimes, and the clock stopped. Passers-by could observe, of course, a vivid symbolic picture: the hands on the main clock of the Russian state froze in immobility … In the summer of 1918, Lenin anxiously asked: “How can we still repair the clock on the Spasskaya Tower and make the chimes play the Internationale ?. We need this watch to speak our language.”
And in September of the same year, the chimes were corrected and went again. Now, instead of “How glorious is our Lord in Zion,” they began to alternately call out other music – “Internationale” and “Funeral March” (“You fell a victim …”). Hearing these melodies for the first time, Lenin was sincerely touched… These days he somehow received Lunacharsky in his office, who at one time was very worried about the destruction in the Kremlin. (And then he objected to moving to the ancient capital.) Then the chimes began to play – the sounds of the “Internationale” came into the office. Vladimir Ilyich raised his finger and cheerfully asked: “Do you hear? The clock has gone!”
N. Ustryalov considered this one of the clearest manifestations of the rebirth of the Bolsheviks: “Nature takes its toll … It naturally seemed to us that the national flag and “Kol is Glorious” were more befitting of the style of the revived country than the red banner and the “Internationale”. But it turned out differently. Over the Winter Palace, which has regained the proud appearance of truly great-power greatness, the red banner is defiantly fluttering, and over the Spassky Gates, which still represent the deepest historical and national holiness, the ancient chimes play the “Internationale”. Let it be strange and painful for the eyes, for the ear, let it warp, but, in the end, in the depths of the soul, the question involuntarily arises:
“Does the red banner disgrace the Winter Palace, or, on the contrary, does the Winter Palace decorate the red banner with itself?” Does the “International” desecrate the Spassky Gates with unholy sounds, or does the Spassky Gates put a new meaning into the “International” with the Kremlin trend?
And in the mid-1940s, Ustryalov’s expectations came true: the ancient symbols of the Moscow Kremlin took precedence over the symbols of the revolution and began to supplant them. The revolutionary hymns sounded unbearably out of tune in the atmosphere of the new era. And the bells of the chimes were tuned anew – they now played a different, majestic and solemn melody …
“We can’t keep up with the new art.”
Lenin was not indifferent to art, but he never took it seriously. He was more interested in the connection of art with history and life. For example, showing his comrades the architecture of Paris, the huge quarters built under Napoleon III, cut through by beautiful, wide streets, Vladimir Ilyich slyly asked: “And what do you think, for what?” – And he himself answered: “For longitudinal artillery fire …”
And so it was: the width of the streets made it easier for the troops to fight against popular uprisings …
One of Lenin’s comrades recalled how in the Louvre, at the statue of Nike of Samothrace, he whispered to him: “Look … at this miracle of ancient Hellenic culture. Amazing, inhuman creation! .. “
During the years of the first Russian revolution, Lenin once spent the night in an apartment where there was a whole collection of good publications about the best artists in the world. Vladimir Ilyich became so interested in these books that he spent the whole night over them. The next morning, he remarked to Lunacharsky: “What a fascinating area – the history of art … Yesterday, until morning, I could not fall asleep, I kept looking at one book after another. And I became annoyed that I did not have and will not have time to do art.
After October, the most advanced areas of art won in the Soviet Republic: cubism, futurism … In 1922, in the Moscow almanac “Wild Rose”, art historian Abram Efros described this victory as follows: “Futurism became the official art of the new Russia … Futurism went throughout Russia as would be on the crest of Soviet decrees, stirring up the old way of life from top to bottom and filling with panic. “… By May 1, decorate the city with the forms of the new revolutionary art … the old bourgeois art has been abolished by the revolution … the proletariat does not need realistic chewing gum …” – this was approximately the speech of the local “IZO”. Plaster, diligently slanted, diligently deformed according to left canons, Marxes and Lenins rose on the squares … revolutionary inscriptions were torn into a series of pieces and shuffled like children’s cubes: left, right, up, down: in the hall of the People’s House in Penza, where I visited during these years, the slogan: “Long live the Soviet Republic” was ideally spaced two or three letters apart on all four walls and on the ceiling, so that it could not so much be read as guessed, but even these individual letters were half absorbed, half thrown out onto the surface of the colored geometric figures that covered the hall. And at the other end of the Federation, in Vitebsk, Marc Chagall (commissioner Marc Chagall!) painted all the signs with chagalls and raised a banner over the city depicting him, Chagall, on a green horse, soaring over Vitebsk and blowing a horn: “Chagall to Vitebsk.”
The independent (close to the liberal opposition) magazine Vestnik Literature in 1919 was indignant that on the first anniversary of October, “the streets of the capital were defiled with futurist posters depicting ugly, distorted bodies and green physiognomies of geometric people with dislocated legs, combined with some kind of military armor and kitchen and household items.
Vladimir Ilyich also remained in the “opposition” on this question. “Who needs these forms that don’t tell the viewer anything?” he asked rhetorically. There is a legend that even before the revolution, Dada artists reproached him in conversations:
Why aren’t you radical enough?
“I am as radical,” objected Lenin, “as much as reality itself is radical.
In 1920, Lenin spoke of his views to Clara Zetkin: “We are too great “subverters in painting.” Why is it necessary to bow before the new, as before a god, to whom one must submit only because “it is new”? Nonsense, sheer nonsense! .. But I have the courage to declare myself a “barbarian.” I am unable to consider the works of expressionism, futurism, cubism and other “isms” the highest manifestation of artistic genius. I do not understand them. I don’t feel any joy from them.”
His interlocutor agreed and noted that she did not understand why the human body was depicted as “some kind of soft, shapeless bag, placed on two stilts, with two forks, five prongs each.” “Lenin laughed heartily,” she recalled.
“Yes, dear Clara,” he said, “nothing can be done, we are both old. It is enough for us that we, at least in the revolution, remain young and are in the forefront. We will not keep up with the new art, we will hobble behind.
Instead of paints, artists now created the most unexpected materials at hand. In a cartoon in The Moscow Ringer in the summer of 1918, the painter, holding a palette, thoughtfully biting the tip of his brush, says: “I’ll paint the most expensive painting in Russia; I will draw with shoe polish and breadcrumbs in butter and depict a real French bun! .. “
In 1921, one artist showed Lenin his picture – white-painted plywood, to which he glued a plate, a fork, a knife, and to the plate – two dry fish painted in golden color. Vladimir Ilyich said, pointing to the fish:
– This is not art, but senseless waste.
The author jumped up on the table and raised the picture above his head:
“Look now, Comrade Lenin.
Vladimir Ilyich did not find any changes.
Comrade Lenin does not understand this! exclaimed the artist in disappointment.
“Perhaps I don’t understand this,” Lenin replied, “but if a fish painted on a canvas is not considered art, then glued to a plate, it cannot be art and cannot nourish either the mind or the stomach. Think about it well… Think about it…
The German communist Fritz Heckert recounted the following episode: “A small exhibition of so-called “revolutionary” artists was arranged at the Continental Hotel. There, against the background of a motley daub, were all sorts of old rags, potsherds, a piece of a chimney, etc., nailed to the canvases – and all this nonsense was supposed to represent the new art. I was simply indignant… Lenin, standing behind me and shaking his head, said to me:
“You see, Comrade Heckert, this happens with us too!”
On May 1, 1920, Lenin visited an exhibition of monument projects that were supposed to replace the deposed figure of Alexander III near the Cathedral of Christ the Savior. Lenin asked, examining the sculptures:
Is this futurism?
“In all likelihood,” answered Lunacharsky.
“I don’t understand anything here,” Vladimir Ilyich said meekly, “ask Lunacharsky.
The People’s Commissar of Education said that he did not see a single worthy monument. Lenin rejoiced:
“And I thought that you would put up some kind of futuristic scarecrow.”
Vladimir Ilyich became indignant when, on May Day, futurist artists painted the age-old lindens around the Kremlin with bright colors. Their trunks and branches turned red, blue, lilac… So disfigure his favorite trees!
“Who allowed,” he was indignant, “who allowed this mockery of the trees of the Alexander Garden, which are painted in purple, red and crimson colors? ..”
Vladimir Ilyich demanded “to wash off this lousy paint from the charming trees.” Alas, it was impossible to do this: the paint had already eaten into the tree bark and gradually disappeared from the lindens for several more years.
As a rule, while maintaining his opinion, Lenin did not interfere in the struggle of trends in painting. He said: “Every artist, anyone who considers himself such, has the right to create freely, according to his ideal, regardless of anything.”
“I don’t pass myself off as a specialist in matters of art,” said Lenin. “He always recognized himself as a profane in this respect,” wrote Lunacharsky, “and since any dilettantism was always alien and hateful to him, he did not like to speak out about art.” Nevertheless, Lenin considered it possible one day to advise the architect Ivan Zholtovsky: “Do it beautifully, but just remember, without philistinism!”
Lenin’s “non-intervention” in art was also reflected in late Soviet folklore. As evidenced by one of the few positive anecdotes in relation to Lenin of the 60s: “Lenin and Lunacharsky at an exhibition of futurist artists in 1920.
– I don’t understand anything! says Lenin.
– I don’t understand anything! Lunacharsky says.
These were the last Soviet leaders who did not understand anything in art.”
Futurism remained the predominant trend in Soviet art until the mid-1930s, when a series of famous articles in Pravda—”Muddle Instead of Music,” “Cacophony in Architecture,” “On the Muddy Artists”—heralded a victorious return old, “White Guard” art – realism.
“I don’t understand any of this.”
Lenin’s tolerance for the “new art” reached the point that in May 1920 he allowed the futurist sculptor Nathan Altman to make a portrait of him. True, later, when the work had already begun, he politely asked if his head would be “futuristic”. “I explained,” Altman wrote, “that in this case my goal was to make his portrait and that this goal also dictates the approach to work. He asked to be shown “futuristic” works. When I showed him, Lenin said: “I don’t understand anything about this, this is the business of specialists.” As you might guess, Lenin did not like the shown works of Altman.
Altman continued: “The sun came through the windows and dried the clay. It had to be heavily watered. In his absence, the sculptor asked Vladimir Ilyich himself to monitor the moistening of the clay. Because of what the following funny incident occurred, described by the Bolshevik Nikolai Mshpotin. “Once I went for some reason to Lenin’s secretariat. Suddenly we hear Vladimir Ilyich’s loud, effervescent laughter from the office. A minute later, Natasha Lepeshinskaya, an employee of the secretariat, flew out like a bullet, all crimson, almost crying. After much questioning, she told what had happened in the office. The sculptor Altman at that time sculpted the head of Lenin from clay. With the consent of Vladimir Ilyich, the sculptor worked in Lenin’s office, but on the condition that he not be interrupted from his studies. During breaks, the sculpture was covered with a wet cloth to keep the clay from drying out.
Leaving, Altman asked Vladimir Ilyich to wet a rag in the evening. Vladimir Ilyich called Natasha and ordered to bring a kettle of cold water, while he himself, sitting at the table, went deep into his work. Natasha brought water. Vladimir Ilyich, without looking up from his work, said:
– Pour it over my head, please.
Confused, bewildered Natasha, with a teapot in her hands, timidly approaches Vladimir Ilyich from behind and stops in indecision: to pour or not to pour?
Vladimir Ilyich turns around, looks at Natasha with surprise, and then begins to laugh, clutching his sides:
– Yes, not on this, but on that head! Points to the sculpture and laughs.
“Pea jesters like Mayakovsky.”
M. Gorky recalled conversations with Lenin about modern poetry: “He treated Mayakovsky with distrust and even annoyance:
– He screams, invents some kind of crooked words, and everything about him is not right, in my opinion – it’s not clear at all. Everything is scattered, hard to read. Talented? Even more? Hmmm, let’s see!”
By the way, once Lenin and Mayakovsky talked in person – the head of government called the Russian Telegraph Agency (ROSTA) late in the evening:
– Who do you have?
“No one,” answered Mayakovsky, who picked up the phone.
– Is the manager here?
– And who will disturb him?
“So there’s no one?” At all?
– No one at all.
— Who is speaking?
“Lenin,” answered the chairman of the Council of People’s Commissars, hanging up the phone.
Mayakovsky could not come to his senses for a long time after this conversation …
A. Lunacharsky noted that Vladimir Ilyich definitely did not like Mayakovsky’s “One Hundred and Fifty Millions”. He found the book pretentious and artificial.” Lenin wrote about this poem: “Nonsense, stupid, terry stupidity and pretentiousness. In my opinion, to print such things only 1 out of 10 and no more than 1500 copies. for libraries and for eccentrics.
Lenin and Krupskaya confirmed this attitude: “The new art seemed to Ilyich alien, incomprehensible. Once we were invited to the Kremlin to a concert arranged for the Red Army. Ilyich was led to the front rows. The actress Grozovsky recited Mayakovsky “our god is running, our heart is our drum” and stepped right on Ilyich, and he sat, a little bewildered by surprise, perplexed, and sighed with relief when Grozovsky was replaced by some artist who read Chekhov’s “Intruder”.
One evening Ilyich wanted to see how the youth lived in the commune. We decided to pay a visit to our vkhutemasovke – Varya Armand. It was, I think, on the day of Kropotkin’s funeral, in 1921. It was a hungry year, but there was a lot of enthusiasm among the youth. They slept in the commune almost on bare boards, they had no bread, “but we have cereal!” – with a beaming face, said the member of the commune on duty – Vkhutemas. For Ilyich, they cooked good porridge from this cereal, although it was without salt. Ilyich looked at the youth, at the radiant faces of the young artists and women artists who surrounded him – their joy was reflected on his face. They showed him their naive drawings, explained their meaning, bombarded him with questions. And he laughed, evaded answers, answered questions with questions.
– What are you reading? Do you read Pushkin?
– Oh no! someone blurted out, “he was a bourgeois!” We are Mayakovsky!
“In my opinion, Pushkin is better.”
“I tried to read Mayakovsky several times,” Lenin admitted, “and I couldn’t do more than three lines, I keep falling asleep. Somehow I’ll get myself together, I’ll force myself to endure … And what do you think of Nekrasov?
The young artists argued among themselves, but in the end they agreed that Nekrasov was already outdated for the new time:
We now need something else.
Vladimir Ilyich began to defend Nekrasov:
– After all, a whole generation of revolutionaries studied at Nekrasov.
The students gave Lenin a look at their wall newspaper, and he deliberately slowly read the slogan from Mayakovsky: “We, the pedlars of the new faith, set the iron tone for beauty. So that the frail natures do not defile the squares, we shy reinforced concrete into the sky. He jokingly protested:
Why jump into the sky? We need reinforced concrete on earth… “We shy away” – but it’s probably not in Russian, is it? ..
“Vladimir Ilyich laughed off them,” Lunacharsky wrote, “he scoffed a little, but even here he declared that he was not taken seriously to talk about such subjects, because he felt himself insufficiently competent.” He said that he should read literature on futurism in painting and poetry, then he would come again and then he would definitely out-argue everyone.
“Well,” Lenin laughed, “now I’m directly afraid to argue with you, I won’t be able to cope with you, but I’ll read it, then we’ll see.
“We will deliver literature to you, Vladimir Ilyich,” the artist Sergei Senkin promised him. We are sure that you will be a futurist too. It cannot be that you are for the old, rotten rubbish, especially since the Futurists are so far the only group that goes along with us, all the rest have gone to Denikin.
“After that, Ilyich became a little kinder to Mayakovsky,” Krupskaya concluded her story. “With this name, he was reminded of Vkhutemas youth, full of life and joy, ready to die for the Soviet government, unable to find words in modern language to express themselves and looking for this expression in Mayakovsky’s obscure poems.”
In a speech on March 6, 1922, Lenin even praised Mayakovsky’s poem “The Sitting Ones”
: “Yesterday I accidentally read Mayakovsky’s poem on a political theme in Izvestiya. I do not belong to the admirers of his poetic talent, although I fully admit my incompetence in this area. But I have not experienced such pleasure for a long time, from the political and administrative point of view. In his poem, he makes fun of the meetings and mocks the communists that they all sit and re-sess. I don’t know about poetry, but about politics I guarantee that this is absolutely correct.”
This praise was included in almost all books about Mayakovsky – from the beginning of the 30s, when the poet received posthumous official recognition. It is less known that after the conversation at the Vkhutemas, Lenin (in a conversation with P. Krasikov) seemed to continue the dispute that had begun there: “I absolutely do not understand Mayakovsky’s enthusiasm. All his writings are gibberish, gibberish, on which the word “revolution” is pasted. In my opinion, the revolution does not need pea jesters like Mayakovsky playing with the revolution. But if they decide that she needs them, so be it. Only let people know their limits and not be arrogant, do not put jesters, even if they swear by the revolution, above the “bourgeois” Pushkin, and let us not be assured that Mayakovsky is three heads taller than Beranger.
After Mayakovsky’s death, as you know, he was declared a “classic”. “Mayakovsky was and remains the best, most talented poet of our Soviet era,” Stalin said. This attitude generally persisted until the 1990s. But “restored in rights” and Pushkin. The centenary of the death of the poet in 1937 was celebrated on a grandiose, unprecedented scale. The intention of the futurists to “throw Pushkin off the steamboat of modernity” was finally consigned to oblivion. Although some, in the midst of this Pushkin celebration, joked gloomily: “If Pushkin had lived in our time, he would also have died in the 37th year.”
“I advise you to put all theaters in a coffin.”
Traditional theaters after October 1917 became one of the islands of noble culture that had sunk into oblivion. It is not surprising, therefore, that they were subjected to constant criticism in the press. Typical joke from the early 1920s:
“- Why is this theater called: Bolshoi State Academic?
– Well, what is incomprehensible. Big – because next to the Small, State – because it transfers state money in vain, but about the Academic – it’s just like that, to obscure … “
Lenin shared this critical attitude in many ways. Although he loved the theatre. “I loved opera more than ballet,” Krupskaya remarked about him. In 1901, Vladimir Ilyich wrote to his mother: “I was at the opera the other day, I listened with great pleasure to Zhidovka: I heard it once in Kazan (when Zakrzhevsky sang), probably 13 years ago. but some motives remained in memory. However, perhaps precisely because Lenin had a personal soft spot for opera, he now considered it his duty to press for its closure.
“Should we,” Lenin asked rhetorically in the 1920s, “serve sweet, refined biscuits to a small minority, while the masses of workers and peasants need black bread?.. While today in Moscow, let’s say, ten thousand people , and tomorrow another ten thousand people will be delighted, enjoying a brilliant performance in the theater – millions of people are striving to learn how to write their names in warehouses and counting, striving to join a culture that would teach them that the earth is spherical, and not flat and that the laws of nature govern the world, and not witches and sorcerers together with the “heavenly father”.
“Yes,” Lenin agreed, “ballet, theatre, opera, exhibitions of new and contemporary art and culture—all this serves as proof for many abroad that we Bolsheviks are not at all such terrible barbarians as they thought … But , I confess, I prefer the creation of two or three elementary schools in remote villages than the most magnificent exhibit in the exhibition.
In February 1921, when Lenin was visiting the students of Vkhutemas, he asked:
– Well, do you go to the opera?
“There is absolutely nothing of interest to us there!
– How so, – Lenin was slyly surprised, – but Comrade Lunacharsky is fighting very hard to save the opera.
The talk turned to the opera Eugene Onegin. All vehemently opposed:
We are all unanimous against Eugene Onegin. “Eugene Onegin” stuck in our teeth …
– That’s how, – laughed Lenin, – you, then, are against “Eugene Onegin”? Well, then I’ll have to be “for”, I’m an old man.
“Yes, Vladimir Ilyich, we hope that you will be with us against this whining. Now there just isn’t enough time for that.
“And I,” Lenin admitted, “is a sinful thing, I like to listen to this opera.”
It is difficult to say whether this dispute influenced Lenin, but in the summer of the same 1921, he submitted a proposal to the Politburo to close the Bolshoi Theater. He explained: “It is embarrassing to maintain such a luxurious theater for big money when we do not have enough funds to maintain the simplest schools in the village.”
“At one of the meetings,” recalled Lunacharsky, “I challenged his attacks on the Bolshoi Theater. I pointed to its undeniable cultural significance. Then Vladimir Ilyich slyly screwed up his eyes and said: “But still, this is a piece of purely landowner culture, and no one can argue against it!”… The entire courtly-pompous tone of the opera seemed to him specifically landowner.” Lunacharsky’s proposal to keep the Bolshoi Theater Lenin called “completely indecent.” “I advise you to put all the theaters in a coffin,” Vladimir Ilyich stated categorically.
And Lenin … lost, remained in the minority. This is how V. Molotov described this story: “In the summer of 1921, Lenin proposed closing the Bolshoi Theater. He says that we have a famine, such a difficult situation, and this is a noble inheritance. In order to reduce costs, we can do without it for the time being … And Lenin failed. The majority are against… I remember that I then voted among those who did not agree… The only time I voted against Lenin.
Meter, liter, gram and a new calendar.
After October, instead of the old arshins, versts and pounds, new units were established in Russia: meters, kilometers and kilograms. At one time they were introduced in revolutionary France. Of all the revolution’s changes, this one met with perhaps the least resistance. Although among the common people it was not immediately accepted. A characteristic joke from the press of that time:
– I come to the dairy, give me, I say, milk …
— A liter for you?
– Not a liter, but milk …
– Well, give me at least a liter …
They gave this very liter, but, it turns out, neither give nor take – milk … “
Much greater opposition was caused in society by the introduction of the Gregorian calendar. According to the decree signed by Lenin, after January 31, 1918, it was not February 1, but the 14th. Russia, thus, caught up with Europe according to the calendar, from which it lagged behind in the 20th century by 13 days.
However, the Orthodox Church did not want to obey this decree and switch to a new style. Such was the general mood of the believers, which could not be changed. In such stubborn disobedience, the authorities saw a clear challenge and tried to break it. Some of the clergy in the 1920s nevertheless switched to the new style. Jokes of 1923 (from the magazine “Drezina”):
– And how did you celebrate the Assumption, father, in the old way or in the new one?
“Yes, yes, yes, dear.
— How do you do it?!
“And for that, dear, it is the Assumption … Hehehehe.”
“It’s hard to agree on Christmas! Grandmother wants to celebrate in the old style. Mommy is new, and daddy is according to Petrotextile: he says, “when the salary is given out, then the holiday will be!” …
In the end, however, the state resigned itself to the fact that the church lives according to the old, Julian style. The sharp struggle with the church did not subside until the 40s, but it was already on other issues.
“A talented book of an embittered White Guard”.
Lenin was very fond of reading the Black Hundred and other right-wing press. He believed that she expressed the views of the enemies much more frankly, more honestly than the moderate. “It’s a pity,” he remarked, “that the Social Democrats do not catch these sparks of truth from the Black Hundred.” In 1917, fleeing from arrest, Lenin asked his comrades: “Is it possible to get the newspapers of the extreme right-wing parties?”
“I had to get it,” journalist Jukka Latukka recalled. “Ilyich especially attacked the Black Hundred newspapers.”
Lenin retained this attachment to the writings of his enemies even after October. M. Skrypnik recalled how he read the Kadet newspapers: “So he took a fresh issue of Rech … While reading … Lenin did not get annoyed, on the contrary, he laughed with a satisfied look … Looking at him at that moment, I recalled the famous Bebel’s words: “If we are vilified by our enemies, then we are doing the right thing.” One day she asked why the cadet newspapers were still being published.
“Let’s close the newspapers,” Lenin replied, “we won’t know what our enemies think of us.”
However, in August 1918, when the civil war broke out with might and main, the liberal newspapers in red Russia were nevertheless closed, and they migrated to white Russia. However, independent publications in the Soviet Republic also came out later, until the mid-1920s, and Lenin read them carefully.
In 1921, the Russian satirist and humorist Arkady Averchenko published in Paris a collection of short stories, A Dozen Knives in the Back of the Revolution. Soon Lenin published his review in Pravda, entitled “A Talented Book”. “This,” wrote Lenin, “is a book by Arkady Averchenko, an embittered White Guard almost to the point of insanity … Most of the book is devoted to topics that Arkady Averchenko perfectly knows, experienced, changed his mind, re-felt. And with amazing talent, the impressions and moods of a representative of the old, landowner and factory owner, rich, gorged and gorged Russia are depicted. Thus, this is how the revolution must appear to the representatives of the commanding classes. The blazing hatred makes Averchenko’s stories sometimes – and for the most part – vivid to the point of astonishment. There are really excellent things, for example, “Grass, trampled down with boots,” about the psychology of children,
However, the author rises to real pathos only when he talks about food. How rich people ate in old Russia, how they ate in Petrograd – no, not in Petrograd, but in St. Petersburg – for 14 and a half and 50 rubles. etc. The author describes this directly with voluptuousness: this is what he knows, this is what he experienced and felt, and here he will not make a mistake. Knowledge of the case and sincerity are out of the ordinary.
Lenin retells the content of one of the stories (“Fragments of the Shattered”), where two “former” – the plant manager and the senator – yearn for the past. “Both old men recall the old, St. Petersburg sunsets, streets, theaters, of course, food at the Medved, at Vienna and Maly Yaroslavets, etc. And the memories are interrupted by exclamations: “What did we do to them? Whom did we interfere with?”… “How did all this interfere with them?”… “Why are they doing this to Russia?”… Arkady Averchenko cannot understand why. The workers and peasants seem to understand without difficulty and do not need explanations.
In the collection of Averchenko there was also a story that ridiculed Lenin personally. He portrayed him as “Madame Lenina”, the eccentric and capricious wife of Comrade Trotsky. On this occasion, Lenin spoke as follows: “When an author devotes his stories to a topic unknown to him, it comes out unartistically. For example, a story depicting Lenin and Trotsky in domestic life. There is a lot of malice, but it just doesn’t look like it, dear citizen Averchenko! I assure you that Lenin and Trotsky have many shortcomings in every life, including, therefore, in home life. Only in order to write talentedly about them, you need to know them. And you don’t know them.” Lenin ended his review with a wish: “Some stories, in my opinion, deserve reprinting. Talent should be encouraged.” This wish was fulfilled: the stories from “A Dozen of Knives …” were included in Averchenko’s Soviet collection “Shards of the Broken to Pieces” (1926).
However, Averchenko was far from the only White Guard whose books were readily published in Soviet Russia. For example, in the 1920s the memoirs of General Anton Denikin were published. In the margins of this book, Lenin left a note: “The author approaches the class struggle like a blind puppy.” They published the memoirs of the monarchist Vasily Shulgin (Lenin also read them with interest). Shulgin conveyed his feelings in this way at the sight of the revolutionary crowd in February 1917: “God, how disgusting it was! .. So disgusting that, gritting my teeth, I felt in myself one yearning, powerless and therefore even more vicious rage … Machine guns – that’s what I wanted. For I felt that only the language of machine guns was accessible to the street crowd, and that only lead, lead, could drive back into its lair a terrible beast that had escaped to freedom… Alas, this beast was… His Majesty the Russian people…
And in the 60s, Vasily Shulgin, who retained his monarchist views and adherence to Stolypin, became a prominent public figure in the USSR. Shulgin starred in a documentary film dedicated to him, released a collection of new articles (“Letters to Russian Emigrants”), and was even invited as a guest to the XXII Congress of the CPSU … Shulgin believed that many of the “white ideas” that he dreamed of winning during the years of the civil war, became a reality in the post-war Soviet Union.
“What a monstrous philistine!”
Lenin believed that the revolutionary needed to combine realism with fantasy. “This ability [fantasy] is extremely valuable,” he said in one of his speeches. – In vain they think that only a poet needs it. This is stupid prejudice! Even in mathematics, it is needed, even the discovery of differential and integral calculus would be impossible without fantasy. “I’ll tell you a secret: we must be able to fantasize, be able to dream, while remaining arch-realists.”
In October 1920, Lenin met with the most famous science fiction writer of his time, the English writer HG Wells. In the photograph of this conversation, Vladimir Ilyich has an unusually dreamy expression on his face. He spoke with pleasure on the most remote topics from everyday life. Wells wrote in his notebook: “Lenin said that, while reading the novel The Time Machine, he realized that all human ideas were created on the scale of our planet: they are based on the assumption that the technical potential, developing, will never cross the” earthly limit “. If we can establish interplanetary communications, we will have to reconsider all our philosophical, social and moral ideas; in this case, the technical potential, becoming limitless, will put an end to violence as a means and method of progress.
In the conversation, Vladimir Ilyich, by the way, shared with Wells his plan for the electrification of Russia. It’s funny, but this plan seemed too fantastic to the British science fiction writer. Wells later wrote that Lenin “fell into a utopia, a utopia of electrification… Can a more audacious project be imagined in this vast, flat, forested country inhabited by illiterate peasants… The realization of such projects in Russia can only be imagined with the help of super-fantasy . No matter what magic mirror I look into, I cannot see this Russia of the future, but the short man in the Kremlin has such a gift. Returning to his homeland, Wells published the book “Russia in the Dark”, where he condescendingly called Lenin “the Kremlin dreamer.”
(As you know, later Lenin’s plan was implemented, and electric bulbs among the peasants were called “Ilyich’s bulbs”.)
“I remember very well the impression that Vladimir Ilyich got from his conversation with Wales,” Trotsky recalled. – “Well, the tradesman! Well, a philistine! he repeated, raising both hands above the table, laughing and sighing with that laugh and that sigh that characterized in him some inner shame for another person. “What a monstrous tradesman! Lenin repeated, shaking his head. “Ai-i-i, what a philistine!”
N. Ustryalov, in an article dedicated to the memory of Lenin, noted: “There are eras when science fiction writers rule life, and “people of real life”, discarded and crumpled, plunge into the realm of ghosts. Dreamers and science fiction writers become a real instrument of fate… Usually these epochs are later called “great” ones…
“They will lie endlessly.”
Did Lenin ever wonder how his own image would remain for centuries? One day in 1920, he had to watch an English feature film… about himself. True, he did not immediately guess about it. The film was brought from England by Leonid Krasin, especially as a surprise for Vladimir Ilyich. Bolshevik Elizaveta Drabkina described this viewing as follows:
“A certain creature was walking along the alley of the old park … It did not immediately become clear that this was a man, because he was dressed in a long caftan to the heels, decorated with Circassian gazyrs, and a high boyar hat, from under which long hair was knocked out. But thanks to the caption, he explained that this was “Rppse Lenoff”, the son of a wealthy landowner, the owner of several thousand serfs.
Entering the gazebo, Prince Lenoff took out a thick book from under the skirt of his sable caftan – and the caption said that it was “forbidden foreign books” and that Prince Lenoff reads these forbidden foreign books because he is “obsessed with the strange idea of equality” …
He is leaving his father’s house!.. He is in St. Petersburg… He is walking along the embankment of the river. “Volga, Volga,” the caption explains. In St. Petersburg, Prince Lenoff indulges in conspiratorial activities (black glasses, black cape, black umbrellas, black wigs). In the closet, under the roof, he makes bombs. Startled, turns to the door. She falls under the pressure of heavy fists: the police! Prince Lenoff was put into a carriage and taken to prison… And at that moment Vladimir Ilyich’s merry, uncontrollable laughter rang out in the hall, for now he realized that under the name of Prince Lenoff he had been bred. The whole hall understood this – and also burst into laughter.
L. Trotsky recalled that for some reason he remarked to Lenin:
“- It would be necessary to write it down, otherwise they will distort it later.
He waved his hand in playful hopelessness.
“They will still lie endlessly.”