Lenin: Radical As Reality

Chris Kromm ckromm at mindspring.com
Sun Apr 9 08:03:34 PDT 2000

For the source of the Lenin quote, see my favorite Cockburn column of all time, "Radical As Reality," written in August of 1991. A badly edited version appeared in The Nation around that time; a good version appears in Robin Blackburn's anthology, "After the Fall" (Verso 1991). An even lengthier version I think can be found in Cockburn's anthology, "The Golden Age Is In Us."

The quote comes from a conversation Lenin had while he was in exile in Zurich during WWI with a Romanian poet named Marcu, who later wrote an account of it (which can be found in Robert Motherwell's "Dada Documents.") Marcu had challenged Lenin about what he saw as Lenin's hypocricy on war: opposing WWI, yet supporting a revolutionary war in Russia. Marcu concluded that "I see that we young people can only count on ourselves..." After a long silence, Lenin replied:

"Your determination to rely on yourselves is very important. Every man must rely on himself. Yet he should also listen to what informed people have to say. I don't know how radical you are, or how radical I am. I am certainly not radical enough. One can never be radical enough; that is, one must always try to be as radical as reality itself."

Cockburn's next line in the essay is classic: "That last line has always been one of my favorites, and I hope to be using it long after the last bust of the man Reagan insisted on calling Nikolai has been ground down to talcum powder."


----- Original Message ----- From: <JKSCHW at aol.com> To: <lbo-talk at lists.panix.com> Sent: Saturday, April 08, 2000 5:26 PM Subject: Re: Basic Marx quote --- help!

> In a message dated 00-04-08 13:33:47 EDT, you write:
> << Got it -- thanks to all who helped! My conservative audience will love
> (and the Lenin quote I'm using about the need to be "as radical as
> itself.") A good 1-2 punch.
> CK >>
> What's the cite on that? Cockburn autographed my copy of Corrupyions of
> Empire with the quote. but didn't have the cite. --jks

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