I recently drew the attention of Power Line readers to Professor Gary Saul Morson’s essay “How the great truth dawned.” It leads off the September issue of The New Criterion. Beginning and ending with Solzhenitsyn, it takes up the Gulag, Communism, mass murder, Russian literature, the turn to God and much more. It is a great essay.
The New Criterion invited Professor Morson back to deliver its inaugural Circle Lecture last week. It has posted an edited version of his lecture under the title “Leninthink.” The lecture includes a small autobiographical component along with a penetrating explanation of the essence of Lenin’s thought.
Professor Morson observes: “Leninist ways of thinking continue to spread, especially among Western radicals who have never read a word of Lenin. This essay is not just about Lenin, and not just Leninism, the official philosophy of the ussr, but also the very style of thought that Lenin pioneered.” He calls it Leninthink. Professor Morson concludes this invaluable lecture with an open question:
When Leninism is significant, there will always be a spectrum going from those who really understand, to those who just practice the appropriate responses, to those who are entirely innocent. The real questions are: Is there such a spectrum now, and how do we locate people on it? And if there is such a spectrum, what do we do about it?
“There is no space to address such questions here,” writes Professor Morson. “My point is that they need to be asked.” With this essay he gives us the tools of analysis and with the return of the hard left to a prominent place in our public life the questions have become urgent.