Monday, October 4, 2021


Lenin (March 19, 1922): It is now and only now, when in the regions afflicted by the famine there is cannibalism and the roads are littered with hundreds if not thousands of corpses, that we can (and therefore must) pursue the acquisition of [church] valuables with the most ferocious and merciless energy, stopping at nothing in suppressing all resistance.…[N]o other moment except that of desperate hunger will offer us such a mood among the broad peasant masses, which will either assure us of their sympathy, or, at any rate, their neutrality.…[W]e must now give the most decisive and merciless battle to the [clergy] and subdue its resistance with such brutality that they will not forget it for decades to come.…The greater the number of the representatives of the reactionary bourgeoisie and reactionary clergy that we will manage to execute in this affair, the better.

Church records show that 2,691 priests, 1,962 monks and 3,447 nuns were killed that year. During an earlier Russian famine, that of 1891, in which half a million died, famine relief was a national priority. In the regional capital of Samara only one intellectual, a twenty-two-year-old lawyer, refused to participate in the effort—and, indeed, publicly denounced it. This was Lenin. He “had the courage,” as a friend put it, to come out and say openly that famine would have numerous positive results.

…Famine, he explained, in destroying the outdated peasant economy, would…usher in socialism.…Famine would also destroy faith not only in the tsar, but in God too.

Famine belongs to the Communist tetrarchy—the other three elements being terror, slavery and, of course, failure, monotonous and incorrigible failure.

It has often been said that the Bolsheviks ruled as if conducting a war against their own people. But you could go further and say that the Bolsheviks were conducting a war against human nature. Lenin to Gorky: Every religious idea, every idea of God…is unutterable vileness…of the most dangerous kind, 'contagion' of the most abominable kind. Millions of sins, filthy deeds, acts of violence and physical contagions…are far less dangerous than the subtle, spiritual idea of God decked out in the smartest 'ideological' costumes.…

Religion is reaction, certainly (and wasn’t the Tsar meant to be divine?). But religion is also human nature. One recalls John Updike’s argument: the only evidence for the existence of God is the collective human yearning that it should be so. The war against religion was part of the war against human nature, which was prosecuted on many other fronts.

Martin Amis, Koba the Dread: Laughter and the Twenty Million (Vintage International) Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

No comments:

Post a Comment