Stalin: Paradoxes of Power, with Stephen Kotkin

Books by Kotkin STEPHEN KOTKIN: I think there are a lot of people out there, but I can’t see anyone. Which is fortunate. I get stage fright. I have to thank Jean Strouse again for the year at the Cullman Center. There are many pages of this book that would not be in there had it not been for the New York Public Library’s collection, and I am very grateful. In fact, we were just[ …]

Stalin: Paradoxes of Power, with Stephen Kotkin (podcast)

[Video version available here.] http://media.nypl.org/audio/LIVE_2015-3-31_Kotkin_and_Zizek.mp3 Books by Kotkin STEPHEN KOTKIN: I think there are a lot of people out there, but I can’t see anyone. Which is fortunate. I get stage fright. I have to thank Jean Strouse again for the year at the Cullman Center. There are many pages of this book that would not be in there had it not been for the New York Public Library’s collection, and I am very grateful.[ …]

Barbarism with a Human Face

Again and again in television reports on the mass protests in Kiev against the Yanukovich government, we saw images of protesters tearing down statues of Lenin. It was an easy way to demonstrate anger: the statues functioned as a symbol of Soviet oppression, and Putin’s Russia is perceived as continuing the Soviet policy of Russian domination of its neighbours. Bear in mind that it was only in 1956 that Lenin’s statues started to proliferate throughout[ …]

Humanism is not enough, Interview with Michael Hauser

[Appeared in 2009, International Journal of Zizek Studies, Vol. 3, No. 3, pp. 1-20; Interview held in November 2007. (pdf)] On a large scale you draw from Lacan and you show his potential usable to found a new direction of thought, sometimes called a post-deconstruction. Could you outline this new thought? First, I should clarify this: one of the standard philosophical approaches to Lacan is that in spite of all his high level of thinking[ …]

How to Begin from the Beginning

[New Left Review 57, May-June 2009 – pdf] In his wonderful short text ‘Notes of a Publicist’—written in February 1922 when the Bolsheviks, after winning the Civil War against all odds, had to retreat into the New Economic Policy of allowing a much wider scope to the market economy and private property—Lenin uses the analogy of a climber who must backtrack from his first attempt to reach a new mountain peak to describe what retreat means[ …]

Joker Apart, Interview with James Harkin

It is a sparkling Sunday morning in early autumn, and one of the world’s leading public intellectuals, dressed in a mod jacket and sandals and swigging from a can of Diet Coke, is giving me the benefit of his experience on cheap London hotels. “This one” – he points to it – “is pretty reasonable. Not cheap, you know, but cheap for London. There are other good ones around here, if you know where to[ …]

Lenin Shot at Finland Station

Why is the flourishing genre of ‘what if?’ histories the preserve of conservative historians? The introduction to such volumes typically begins with an attack on Marxists, who allegedly believe in historical determinism. Take this latest instalment, edited by Andrew Roberts, who has himself contributed an essay on the bright prospects that would have faced Russia in the 20th century had Lenin been shot on arriving at the Finland Station. One of Roberts’s arguments in favour[ …]

What Is To Be Done (With Lenin)?

Vladimir Ilyich Lenin died on January 21 1924, 80 years ago—does the embarrassed silence over his name mean that he died twice, that his legacy is also dead? His insensitivity toward personal freedoms is effectively foreign to our liberal-tolerant sensibility – who, today, would not experience a shudder apropos his dismissive remarks against the Menshevik and Socialist-Revolutionaries’ critique of the Bolshevik power in 1922? “Indeed, the sermons which…the Mensheviks and Socialist-Revolutionaries preach express their true[ …]

Revolution must strike twice

[Review of Lenin by Hélène Carrère d’Encausse, translated by George Holoch. Holmes & Meier] The Left is undergoing a shattering experience: the progressive movement is being compelled to reinvent its whole project. What tends to be forgotten, however, is that a similar experience gave birth to Leninism. Consider Lenin’s shock when, in the autumn of 1914, every European social democratic party except the Serbs’ followed the ‘patriotic line’. How difficult it must have been, at[ …]