On technology, what would Lenin do?

I explained at the recent CPUSA convention in New York that Communists have always embraced the highest technology. In Lenin's day, the highest form of information technology was newspapers, and he touted this technology throughout his famous pamphlet, "What Is to be Done?" in 1902.

Imagine, though, some of the older Bolsheviks discussing the pamphlet:

"I used to think Lenin was a sharp cookie, but he's gone too far this time. Have you read 'What is to be done?' He talks about newspapers all the way through it! This new technology will never catch on!

"Sure, you can reach thousands of people with a single article in a newspaper, but it's just doesn't communicate nearly as well as our old way of having speakers drop by from time to time with their news and analysis. Can a newspaper raise its voice? Can it wave its arms? Speakers are far better!

"Also, why would anybody want to go through all the hassle of learning this technology? It involves paper, it involves ink, it involves pictures, it involves printing presses - these are things that the common worker doesn't know much about, and I doubt very seriously that they will want to learn it just so they can keep up with Lenin and people like him!

"No, Comrade V.I. Lenin has gone too far in pushing us toward this new technology. It won't work, and we won't ever hear of him again!"

Post your comment

Comments are moderated. See guidelines here.


  • A clever article. But aren't you attacking a straw man? I have never heard anyone saying that we shouldn't use the new technology. The issue is that many people are not reached by the internet, and the older print media is still useful in many situations even for people who also use new media.

    Lenin insisted on using print technology (hardly "new media"). But he didn't say that Bolsheviks should abandon speeches and one-on-one talking -- a good thing in a country with high illiteracy.

    Back in 1848, Marx wrote that the new technology -- railroads -- allowed working people to communicate and organize over large distances. But railroads supplemented other means of transportation and communication -- they didn't completely replace walking, canals, horse power, etc.

    You have proved your point effectively and with humor. But was there ever any question?

    Posted by Art Perlo, 05/29/2010 1:22pm (6 years ago)

RSS feed for comments on this page | RSS feed for all comments