Intro: Between the Two Revolutions

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The first public reaction to the idea of reactualizing Lenin is, of course, an outburst of sarcastic laughter. Marx is OK – today, even on Wall Street, there are people who still love him: Marx the poet of commodities, who provided perfect descriptions of the capitalist dynamic; Marx of Cultural Studies, who portrayed the alienation and reification of our daily lives. But Lenin – no, you can’t be serious! Doesn’t Lenin stand precisely for the failure to put Marxism into practice, for the big catastrophe which left its mark on the whole of twentieth-century world politics, for the Real Socialist experiment which culminated in an economically inefficient dictatorship? So, if there is a consensus among (whatever remains of) today’s radical Left, it is that, in order to resuscitate the radical political project, we should leave the Leninist legacy behind: the ruthless focusing on the class struggle, the Party as the privileged form of organization, the violent revolutionary seizure of power, the ensuing “dictatorship of the proletariat” … are all these not “zombie-concepts” to be abandoned if the Left is to have any chance in the conditions of “post-industrial” late capitalism?

Revolution at the Gates: Žižek on Lenin, the 1917 Writings