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stranger things part two

Source global Wall Street Journal     time 2022-12-17 15:05:21
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When Lenin went abroad at the age of thirty, he was already fully mature. In Russia, in the students’ circles, in the Social Democratic groups, and in the exile colonies, he held first place. He could not fail to realize his power, if only because everyone he met or worked with so clearly did. When he left Russia, he was already in possession of a full theoretical equipment and of a solid store of revolutionary experience. Abroad, there were collaborators waiting for him: The Group of Liberation of Labor,” and chief among them, Plekhanov, the brilliant Marxist interpreter, teacher of several generations, theorist, politician, publicist, and orator, with a European reputation and European connections. Side by side with Plekhanov were two other prominent authorities, Zasulitch and Axelrod. It was not only her heroic past that had placed Vera Zasulitch in the front ranks: she had an exceedingly sharp mind, an extensive background, chiefly historical, and a rare psychological insight. It was through Zasulitch that the Group” in its day became connected with old Engels.

As soon as Marxism had accomplished this, however, it began to irk this same intelligentsia. Its dialectics were convenient for demonstrating the progress of capitalist methods of development, but finding that it led to a revolutionary rejection of the whole capitalist system, they adjudged it an impediment and declared it out of date. At the turn of the century, at the time when I was in prison and exile, the Russian intelligentsia was going through a phase of wide-spread criticism of Marxism. They accepted its historical justification of capitalism, but discarded its rejection of capitalism by revolutionary means. In this roundabout way the old Populist intelligentsia, with its archaic sympathies, was slowly being transformed into a liberal bourgeois intelligentsia.

At home they saw me only in abrupt flashes. They had a complex life of their own there. My wife was building a nest, and the children had new friends. The closest was the chauffeur of Dr. M. The doctor’s wife took my wife and the boys out driving, and was very kind to them. But she was a mere mortal, whereas the chauffeur was a magician, a titan, a superman! With a wave of his hand, he made the machine obey his slightest command. To sit beside him was the supreme delight. When they went into a tea-room, the boys would anxiously demand of their mother, Why doesn’t the chauffeur come in?”


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