Essays on Lenin
This edited collection of essays seeks to answer the following question: what does “Lenin” and “Leninism” signify today? What is the future of Leninism? Why, after thirty years of iconoclasm (that involved the removal of statues of Lenin throughout the former socialist world), in spite of concerted efforts to demote, deconstruct, and discredit Leninist mode of thinking, does the specter of Lenin return to haunt our turbulent political present?
Send abstracts of 300-400 words to firstname.lastname@example.org by October 31, 2018
Alla Ivanchikova wrote:
Testifying to the potential for the return of Leninism today are the critiques of the limits of horizontality and spontaneity (Nick Srnicek), the calls to return to the party form in political struggle (Jodi Dean), and the flaring up of imperialist wars and class warfare on previously unimaginable scale. In 2017, Slavoj Zizek (Lenin), Tariq Ali (The Dilemmas of Lenin), China Mieville (October), and Michael Hardt (“October! To Commemorate the Future”) among others, asserted the actuality of Lenin’s thought and the continued importance of the October revolution of 1917. Also in recent years we’ve seen a proliferation of studies of the Black Panther Party, as well as the international links that constituted the anticolonial world of the 20th century, that suggest an anti-imperialist Leninist legacy. Paradoxically, the specter of Lenin now also haunts the Left as a figure adopted by members of the ultra-right, such as Steve Bannon.
To many this return comes as a surprise. In 1989, scholars and cultural commentators largely agreed on what Ken Jowitt, in his eponymously titled essay, called “the Leninist extinction”: the complete and final eradication of Leninism as a political form or a mode of thinking in the post-Cold War world. Leninist regimes and the class-based, party-centered worldview they embodied, Jowitt argued, have been wiped out, like dinosaurs, disappearing almost overnight as a species. He suggested that the paleontological concept of mass extinction was the most applicable in describing this sudden and decisive global shift. How can we engage with and problematize the concept of “Leninist extinctions” today?