Far from home on vacation, I still can’t help thinking about politics in the USA.  And, being in  the great European city that bore his name for nearly 70 years, I thought about some sage political advice from that notorious opportunist pragmatist, V. I. Lenin.   Soon after the triumph of the Bolshevik revolution, Lenin wrote a pamphlet called “’Left-wing’ Communism, an Infantile Disorder.” Among other things, Lenin warns communists around the world against self-defeating ideological ridgidity that manifests itself in a stubborn refusal to compromise.  Look, says Lenin, you have to deal with the world as it is, which means don’t obsess about ideological purity in your pursuit of power. We Russian communists have had to make plenty of compromises on the way to achieving our glorious victory.

Do I need to explain what this has to do with politics back home? We are witnessing some of the best of a strong field of Democratic contenders for the presidency rushing to adopt the most “leftist’ positions on hot-button issues.  I’m thinking in particular of health care (single payer!) and immigration (decriminalize illegal border crossings!).  This, despite the fact that most Americans don’t want to abolish private health insurance (54-41% against) and don’t want completely open borders (66-27%). These may be worthy objectives, but if their pursuit helps keep Donald Trump in the White House, are they worth it?

I’ll admit it: I feel a little uncomfortable—practically out of character—criticizing some of my favorite Democrats from the right, as it were.  So, in self-defense, I am citing the example of an unimpeachable leftist to make the point that it is, indeed, possible sometimes to go too far left.  It would be great if some of our Democrats could learn a little lesson in Leninism.  Of course, Lenin had it sort of easy—there was no Bolshevik Party primary in which he had to contend for the votes of left-wing communists.






  1. Janet Landay July 23, 2019 at 1:20 pm

    Good one, Tony! When you’re in Russia, isn’t it hard to decide which system was worse: the Czars, the Russian Orthodox Church, or Communism? The peasants can’t win.

    Hope you and Celia are having a great time!

    • Jeffrey Herrmann July 23, 2019 at 5:25 pm

      Add Putinesque kleptocracy to the list of horrible systems contending for the prize.

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