Archive for July, 2006

The Little Table

…Lenin’s table at St Petersburg from where he directed the 1917 Revolution

This is where Lenin operated from during the 1917-1918 period.

You could call it the age of innocence of Communism. Lenin and his fellow revolutionaries genuinely wanted to run Russia through a participatory mode of decision making with a committee representing workers and peasants. He soon discovered that this was not an efficient way of decision-making so power was delegated to a Committee

 When the Red Army was demobilized after the war, its victorious commanders assumed leading posts in the economy, education and introduced the authoritarian culture that had worked so well for them during the war into civil life. Additionally, the Tsarist bureaucrats, who first boycotted the new regime joined back (ď…and our mishaps began”, Lenin was to say later). And a strange dynamic operated that concentrated power into an ever smaller number of people.

 But all this was ahead of him.

 While he worked at this little desk, everything seemed possible- Russia, a backward  country of peasants would be transformed, it appeared to him and his partners, in a few years into a modern industrial country with a democratic  and participatory decision making process which involved workers as well as peasants in its running.

In 1918, the capital was moved from St Petersburg to Moscow. St Petersburg has been renamed several times: it was re-named Petrograd in 1914, then  Leningrad after Lenin’s death in 1924 and changed back to St Petersburg in 1991.

 When the city celebrated its 290th anniversary in 1993, the statute of Lenin at the main train station was replaced by one of Peter the Great.

“Itís considered hip among Russian teenagers to wear these CCCP T-shirts”, said the pretty sales-woman approvingly, when I stepped up to buy a bright red T-shirt emblazoned ‘CCCP’”.


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