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Lenin vs. Mandela

Posted on 2013-12-11
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With the recent passing of Nelson Mandela we have been reminded of how much he was able to do for his country. His life and achievements have been celebrated all over the world. At the same time, another leader of the 20th Century, Lenin has become a symbol of oppression and is vilified around the world (there are celebrations when his statues are torn down for example).

What strikes me is the similarity between these two men, so my question is: Why are they  being treated so differently?  Will Lenin be rehabilitated with time? Will Mandela's image suffer?
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Question by:leonstryker
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by:Dave Baldwin
ID: 39712151
What strikes me is the similarity between these two men
I have no idea what that would be.
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by:WaterStreet
ID: 39712982
Yeah. Same here. I was about to ask what do they have in common.

In other words I have no idea what the similarity is.

It must be a full moon for me, or something like that. I've been trying to never again respond to anything in this Zone.  Just getting my tech questions wonderfully answered.
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by:WaterStreet
ID: 39713009
" Lenin has become a symbol of oppression and is vilified around the world ... Will Lenin be rehabilitated with time?"  What stopped you from saying Hitler instead of Lenin in this question?  If you can answer that then I might understand your point.  

So far, I really don't get your idea of similarity (of Lenin) to Mandella.

Sorry, I didn't even want to participate here.
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by:leonstryker
ID: 39714266
Well, both struggled against an oppressive regime, both followed a Socialist ideology, both were imprisoned because of that, both eventually came to lead their respective countries.
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by:leonstryker
ID: 39714516
When Lenin died on 21 January 1924, near Moscow, he was acclaimed as "the greatest genius of mankind" and "the leader and teacher of the peoples of the whole world". Historian J. Arch Getty has remarked that "Lenin deserves a lot of credit for the notion that the meek can inherit the earth, that there can be a political movement based on social justice and equality"

You still think that there are no similarities?
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by:Dave Baldwin
Dave Baldwin earned 25 total points
ID: 39714719
Maybe it's the fact that the country that existed after him was seriously lacking in "social justice and equality" that leads us to forget or not acknowledge what he supposedly did.  The Soviet Union was one of the most repressive countries in the world, especially under Stalin who lowered the average IQ of the country by killing many of the Soviet intellectuals.  South Africa so far has been actually showing an increase in "social justice and equality" since Mandela was president.  If a black Stalin takes over South Africa and kills their intellectuals, we might forget Mandela too in the years after that.
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by:leonstryker
ID: 39714742
So, your point is that we celebrate men, or vilify them partially on events post death? The "sins of the children" so to speak.
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by:Dave Baldwin
ID: 39714787
I don't know if Nero was a good fiddler, I just 'know' that he played while Rome burned.  For those of us who were born while Stalin was ruling the Soviet Union, he was the important one, not Lenin.  In my youth, if Lenin was remembered at all by most people it was just because he was a 'commie', no bio needed.  But in my adult life, Mandela has been a 'hero' in the news for many years.  Yep, that's just the way it is.
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tliotta earned 25 total points
ID: 39715790
There are definitely similarities between the two men and their political actions. Some of the important similarities are already noted above. A major difference is found in the two countries and the histories that formed those countries by the time the two men came to national importance.

The results that came after each man had more to do with the nations' histories than with either man. Without being able to place them in each others' contexts, there is no useful way to decide if current judgments are rational. E.g., why is it rational to bring Stalin into such a comparison? How is that different from forming a judgment of Abraham Lincoln by pointing to Ronald Reagan or John F. Kennedy?

Well, one factor is simply that no one here has any clear experience with daily events during the life of Lenin. So, we tend to lean on impressions from things that are closer. It's not quite logical, but it's human nature and therefore has some basis in 'human' rationality. As with other things, that's just the way life is for us.

Regardless, opinions are always interesting to hear.

Tom
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by:BigRat
ID: 39724640
This topic area is becoming amazingly boring, always loaded questions begging an answer.

Lenin was in fact exiled to Siberia for three years. Mandela was jailed for life, which turned into 27 years mostly on Robin island. Lenin joined the communist party, was indeed one of its foremost intellectuals. Mandela was never a communist and never really had an ideology except for being anti-apartheid. Lenin has not become a "symbol of oppression". In fact he never really had a chance to become an oppressor; he was only in office for just over a year. His followers who were oppressors used his ideology for their own ends. There just isn't any simularity.

The other thing one should note, is how lightly the apartheid proponents got off. Lenin made up lists of former ministers and functionaries who were rounded up and shot. Mandaela did just the opposite. People like DeClerk and Pic Botha can enjoy their retirements on full pension in their villas in sunny South Africa.

See what I mean by loaded question? Still, as Canal Grande says, I don't have to answer it.
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by:leonstryker
ID: 39724719
Not all together correct. Lenin was exiled twice. The first time for about 5 years and then again for ten years. Lenin was in power from the end of 1917 to roughly 1922 when he went into semi retirement and finally died in 1924.

Mandela was not only a member of the Communist party, but also on its central committee.
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by:BigRat
ID: 39724853
Mandela was not only a member of the Communist party, but also on its central committee

I suppose that taring with brushes is much more important to you rather than the actual political understanding of a person. It is certainly true that he was a secrete member of the party, but he was not a communist. In fact Pic Botha said so after talking to him at the time of his release from prison. They never really appreciated just exactly where Mandela stood. That was the real tradegy of his career.

But I suppose for the run of the mill red-neck American, once a communist then always a communist. As if somehow being a communist is a bad thing?
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by:leonstryker
ID: 39724891
But I suppose for the run of the mill red-neck American, once a communist then always a communist. As if somehow being a communist is a bad thing?

Its very interesting on how quickly someone like you gets into name calling. Must be very difficult to keep sitting on that high perch of yours and having to look down on the little people down here with the rest of us.

The fact of the matter is that Mandela was a member of the Communist party and served on its central committee. It is also a fact that the South African Communist party is/was significantly different from the Russian Communist party of the early 20th Century.

I have never claimed otherwise, nor did I ever judge if it is good or a bad. That is your bias. My question specifically asks on how differently the world treats the two men, who in my opinion, have similar histories and similar accomplishments.  You do not see the similarities, and therefore for you the question is a non sequitur. That is fine, but do not shift the topic after being corrected on historical inaccuracies in your post.
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by:tliotta
ID: 39731491
Its very interesting on how quickly someone like you gets into name calling.

I grudgingly have to agree. BigRat is generally a very competent and valuable contributor to this topic, but the comment seemed far off the mark. I saw no necessarily negative implication in what you wrote. It was a factual statement rather than one of condemnation. Yet, the response to it seemed to be a direct example of what the response seemed to be accusing you of doing. Simply because you stated the association, which is valid, you were apparently seen as a "run of the mill red neck American".

Now, had you said something more like "a filthy commie", a judgment of you being a "red neck American" might be understandable. Yet there has been nothing in this thread that indicates that you think anything specifically negative about Communists at all.

It's not clear why the simple pronouncement of a fact brings out such a troubling inference. Perhaps there is history in other past threads?

Tom
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by:Korbus
ID: 39781348
Many countries that are soverign today, were not when the "Iron Curtain" was in place.  The USSR put up not only the Iron Curtain, but also those statues.  Therefore the tearing down of those statues, just like the Berlin Wall, was an expression of freedom and soverignty.  I dont actually think it was anything against Lennin in particular.
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Author Closing Comment

by:leonstryker
ID: 39807558
Our perception of a man is based on the consequences of their actions even then their goals have been diverted after their death. History is the final arbitrator.
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