(Autumn 1959)

From Fourth International (Amsterdam), No. 7, Autumn 1959, p. 81.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Marxists’ Internet Archive.

Lenin and World Revolution
by Stanley W. Page
New York (New York University Press), 1959

There is at present in the United States a whole school of historians and sociologists who are resorting more and more to psychology, if not indeed to the conception they have formed of psychoanalysis and of Freudianism, to explain the “motivations” of the work and action of historic figures.

In the present book it is Lenin who is as it were “psychoanalyzed” in order to explain “his fundamental leitmotiv”: “a compulsive need to dominate.” Its author solemnly teaches us:

It is the ego, formed and made sensitive in special ways through early impressions, that selects from an indifferent and chaotic environment such challenges and stimuli as give it a crystalline structure of conscious or unconscious action.

It was “the demon-driven ego” of Lenin, “intent upon dominating the processes of destruction and rebuilding,” that explains the “revolutionary fanaticism” of his work and his action.

The author, specialized for the American army in studies of Russian – and especially Soviet – history, has proposed “to remove Leninism from the realm of the scientific and indisputable and to open upon it the floodgates of tree critical evaluation.”

A reading of this book, however, gives evidence rather of the fatal weaknesses of its psychological method for explaining mass phenomena like the Russian Revolution and the Leninist communist current, than of the objective reasons, independently of any personal “motivation,” for the striking success recorded by these phenomena.

The balance sheet of the “free critical evaluation” of the book and its method is, under these conditions, frankly disappointing. By orienting “psychological researches” toward the intellectuals in the service of the Pentagon, one might perhaps learn better what “inner demon” these intellectuals obey that they want to write their “scientific” books.

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