Talking Leninthink

We drew attention to Professor Gary Saul Morson’s essay “How the great truth dawned.” It led off the September 2019 issue of The New Criterion. Beginning and ending with Solzhenitsyn, Professor Morson’s essay 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. It posted an edited version of this 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 discusses this ever more timely New Criterion lecture in the current Tikvah podcast posted at the Tikvah podcast site. I have embedded the podcast with Professor Morson at the bottom via Stitcher. It is also accessible here at Mosaic and here at Ricochet. This is the introduction:

Discussions about “cancel culture,” the practice of stigmatizing and ostracizing a person or institution deemed to have transgressed political correctness, have become ubiquitous in the United States. From the campus to the boardroom to the newsroom, the cost of having ever said or thought the wrong thing can now put one’s reputation and livelihood at risk. And there is no path for the accused to enjoy ablution, to wash away the sin of wrongthink. Public figures of all kinds, from politics to journalism, have been accused and tried in the court of public opinion without the ability to defend themselves. American culture seems to be undergoing a kind of revolution, fomented in social media, that is reshaping the contours of our public life.

In this podcast, Jonathan Silver is joined by Professor Gary Saul Morson to discuss his 2019 New Criterion essay, “Leninthink.” Morson’s essay is not about Lenin the man, nor is it about Lenin’s ideology. Leninthink is actually anti-ideological,. It is a cast of mind, and a political tactic that utilizes ideology to wage political revolution. At a time when cancel culture threatens to tear down the universities, the museums, and the press, Morson’s study is more important than ever.

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