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Listen to the worm of doubt, for it speaks truth. - Leftist Discussion

Lenin on Sex -- "Just Say No!" February 17, 2006 by RedStar2000

It has not escaped your notice that some folks are a bit "uncomfortable" with the changes in sexual mores over the last half century.

One such earnest young Leninist dug up an article by Clara Zetkin on Lenin's attitudes towards human sexuality, provoking much humor.



quote (Lenin):

Dissoluteness in sexual life is bourgeois, is a phenomenon of decay.

How quaintly Victorian.

quote (Lenin):

Although I am nothing but a gloomy ascetic, the so-called "new sexual life" of the youth – and sometimes of the old – often seems to me to be purely bourgeois, an extension of bourgeois brothels.

Not exactly, Vladimir. You see, in a brothel, one purchases sex. The young are now delighted to just give it away.

quote (Lenin):

This glass of water theory has made our young people mad, quite mad. It has proved fatal to many young boys and girls.

Yeah...don't you know the streets of Moscow were positively littered with the corpses of young people who had fucked themselves to death. *laughs*


But thanks for such Marxism which directly and immediately attributes all phenomena and changes in the ideological superstructure of society to its economic basis! Matters aren’t quite as simple as that.

Lenin had good reasons for balking at literal we should all know.

For one thing, it would totally shatter his own paradigm: socialism = vanguard party rule + state capitalism.

quote (Lenin):

In sexual life there is not only simple nature to be considered, but also cultural characteristics, whether they are of a high or low order.

High? Low?

Historical materialism makes no such distinctions...except that it assumes that the more economically developed a society is, the "higher" its cultural characteristics will be.

By and large, that does seem to be the case.

quote (Lenin):

It is rationalism, and not Marxism, to want to trace changes in these relations directly, and dissociated from their connections with ideology as a whole, to the economic foundations of society.

Lenin's version of "Marxism" did have a significantly irrational component...namely "dialectics".

quote (Lenin):

Of course, thirst must be satisfied. But will the normal person in normal circumstances lie down in the gutter and drink out of a puddle, or out of a glass with a rim greasy from many lips?

Lenin was taking a cheap shot at Alexandra Kollontai...a very prominent female Bolshevik who maintained that sexual satisfaction should be no more of a "big deal" than drinking a glass of water when one is thirsty.

The implication, probably lost on no one at the time, was that Kollontai herself was "a greasy glass".

With regard to women, Lenin would be regarded as intolerably sexist by contemporary standards.

Since we have a considerably "higher culture" than that of the second decade of the last century.
First posted at RevLeft on January 29, 2006

More of Lenin's revealed "wisdom" about women...

quote (Lenin):

I have heard some peculiar things on this matter from Russian and German comrades. I must tell you. I was told that a talented woman communist in Hamburg is publishing a paper for prostitutes and that she wants to organise them for the revolutionary fight....The other [prostitutes] is only a diseased excrescence.

We call them "sex workers" now, Vladimir. And the phrase "diseased excrescence" would probably get your sorry ass restricted to Opposing Ideologies for flaming sexism.

quote (Lenin):

The Party must not in any circumstances calmly stand by and watch such mischievous conduct on the part of its members. It creates confusion and divides the forces. And you yourself, what have you done against it?

Before Comrade Zetkin could reply, Lenin continued...

quote (Lenin):

Your list of sins, Clara, is still longer. I was told that questions of sex and marriage are the main subjects dealt with in the reading and discussion evenings of women comrades. They are the chief subject of interest, of political instruction and education.

Yes, Vladimir, it was a subject of considerable interest to German women in 1920.

Probably still is.

Women have this "thing" about getting rid of patriarchal oppression...even more than in your day.

You would probably be scandalized!

quote (Lenin):

It seems to me that these flourishing sexual theories which are mainly hypothetical, and often quite arbitrary hypotheses, arise from the personal need to justify personal abnormality or hypertrophy in sexual life...

Oh my. People who talk about sex are people who are "abnormal" or "over-sexed".

Yes, that's really what a lot of people "thought" back then.

People actually thought there was "such a thing" as being "over-sexed".

Like having a swollen liver or something. *laughs*

quote (Lenin):

Can you really seriously assure me that the questions of sex and marriage were discussed from the standpoint of a mature, living, historical materialism?

She was probably doing the best she could, Vladimir. In your day, people really didn't know much about that sort of thing at all.

quote (Lenin):

The great social question appears as an adjunct, a part, of sexual problems. The main thing becomes a subsidiary matter.

As late as 1970, I heard an "old leftie" respond to the subject of feminism: where's the class struggle in all this?.

By that time, of course, even the Maoists knew better. You know, Women hold up half the sky!

quote (Lenin):

The youth movement, too, is attacked with the disease of modernity in its attitude towards sexual questions and in being exaggeratedly concerned with them.

The "disease of modernity"? Poor Vladimir was really completely out of his depth about stuff like this.

Rather like a Victorian shopkeeper who, after some years of marriage, accidentally saw his wife naked for the first time.

He had no idea!

quote (Lenin):

They can very easily contribute towards over-excitement and exaggeration in the sexual life of some of them, to a waste of youthful health and strength.

Yeah, people thought that then too. Sex "weakens" you and causes you to "prematurely age".

quote (Lenin):

Healthy sport, swimming, racing, walking, bodily exercises of every kind, and many-sided intellectual interests. Learning, studying, inquiry, as far as possible in common. That will give young people more than eternal theories and discussions about sexual problems and the so-called ‘living to the full’. Healthy bodies, healthy minds.

That's what used to be taught in the elite private schools in England in the Victorian age.

Lenin did leave out the part about "cold showers". *laughs*

quote (Lenin):

You know, young comrade ___ ? A splendid boy, and highly talented. And yet I fear that nothing good will come out of him. He reels and staggers from one love affair to the next. That won’t do for the political struggle, for the revolution. And I wouldn’t bet on the reliability, the endurance in struggle of those women who confuse their personal romances with politics. Nor on the men who run petticoat and get entrapped by every young woman. That does not square with the revolution.

Um, Vladimir, women don't wear "petticoats" any more. They're as obsolete as your whole position on all this.

quote (Lenin):

The revolution demands concentration, increase of forces. From the masses, from individuals. It cannot tolerate orgiastic conditions...

You have no idea, Vladimir, what the revolution will not only "tolerate" but positively encourage!

quote (Lenin):

Self-control, self-discipline is not slavery, not even in love.

Lenin, the founder of sXe ("straight edge").

quote (Lenin):

No special organisations for women.

And Lenin loses again! *laughs*

quote (Lenin):

Unfortunately it is still true to say of many of our comrades, "scratch a communist and find a philistine."

Curiously, this was not a "self-criticism".

The defenders of that "sacred personage" will piss and moan at this list of their guru's wretchedly backward views.

It's not fair, they'll howl, because that's how most male revolutionaries of that era felt about things.

Yes, that's true. If you carefully search the correspondence of Marx and Engels, you'll turn up some occasional sexist remarks.

But, interestingly enough, they did not choose to say that sort of thing if they recognized at least semi-consciously that sexism was in some vague sense wrong.

Lenin suffered no such inhibitions. His "kind" of sexism was "right"...and "Marxist" and "historical materialist".

Well no, it wasn't any of those things.

It was just flat-out bullshit.

Much to the dismay of those few who still worship at his shrine. *laughs*
First posted at RevLeft on January 30, 2006


This is rather off-topic, but where do you get these pages and pages of Lenin's stupid remarks, RS2k?

Lenin on the Women’s Question by Clara Zetkin

quote (Zetkin):

Comrade Lenin frequently spoke to me about the women’s question. Social equality for women was, of course, a principle needing no discussion for communists. It was in Lenin’s large study in the Kremlin in the autumn of 1920 that we had our first long conversation on the subject.

If I had the misfortune to be a defender of Lenin, I would probably challenge the authenticity of the quotations...on a number of possible grounds.

For example, were these discussions held in German or in Russian? It's unlikely that Zetkin was fluent in Russian and while Lenin could certainly read German, it's possible that he could have mis-spoke himself while speaking it to Zetkin.

How was it that Zetkin transcribed such elaborate quotations? Was she experienced in taking short-hand? Were there translators present and someone else taking elaborate notes while the interview proceeded?

And it appears that this material was not even published until after Lenin had died...though apparently it was accepted as "authentic" by the Russians.

Possibly because it "sounds like Lenin"...the wording and style read as if Lenin had actually written those words.

Authenticating sources is one of the nagging problems in all serious historical studies.
First posted at RevLeft on January 30, 2006


Tomorrow I’ll see Redstar berating Lenin for having a goatee!



What more would you have asked of the Bolsheviks before they gained the Redstar seal of approval?

Adopt the proposals sponsored by Kollontai's "Worker's Opposition" at the 10th Party Congress of March 1921.


Did Lenin have what we would consider a “backward” or “Victorian” attitude towards sex?



Considering that he lived half a century before Western attitudes, those of the most advanced proletariat, would change, I think we can forgive him that.

Of course you can.

His attitudes towards human sexuality, however backward, are trivial compared to the party structure he forced on the 3rd International...which was catastrophic!

Happy now? *laughs*
First posted at RevLeft on January 31, 2006


I wish this thread didn't exist...


I think it's very instructive to learn about this sort of thing.

Don't forget that there are still some people who think the sun shines out of Lenin's ass.

If something like the subject of this thread will open their eyes, then it's served a "good purpose".

Once they start to see past "Lenin the Icon" to Lenin the fallible human, then perhaps they can re-examine Lenin's more explicitly political views in a critical way.

I think our Leninist did a good thing by starting this thread.

Even if his reaction to it was somewhat disappointing.
First posted at RevLeft on February 2, 2006


Well, I don't know if my opinion is valid, considering that I am half a caveman.

Paleolithic chauvinism? *laughs*


But I would like to point that, to me, having sex involves consent, and as such, cannot be compared with drinking water or scratching myself.

Two people are thirsty. One provides the water and the other the glass.

Have you never scratched your partner's back "where she can't reach"? Or asked her to scratch yours?

Kollontai's point is clearly that we should no more concern ourselves with the sex lives of others than we would concern ourselves with the fact that they drink water when thirsty.

Or, more simply, having sex is just having sex -- it's not this COSMIC BIG DEAL that determines THE FATE OF HUMANITY FOR ALL ETERNITY, blah, blah, blah.

That's also true for individuals...even though we have an enormous "romance industry" that tells us the exact opposite.

If you really love her, you'll spend at least three month's wages on a ring for her.

What will you get him for Valentine's Day?

We are all heavily propagandized with what is, after all, a social construct...***LOVE***.

That's not just affection between people who really like each other. It's a GREAT MYSTERIOUS FORCE that "possesses us" and MAKES US ONE WITH THE UNIVERSE, blah, blah, blah.

Look at that romanticist babble in the quote from Feuerbach...and imagine how much crap you could get people to BUY if you were able to convince them that it was "true". *laughs*

If you're willing to "die for her", then why not go ahead and buy her the mink?

An additional component of this load of bollocks: there is ONE right person "out there just for YOU" and you must find that person or else be alone FOREVER.

The truth is, in a geographic area of any size at all, there are hundreds or even thousands of people that you might have a great time with, sexually and emotionally.

"Squeezing" our sexual horizons is just another marketing gambit. The narrower they are, the more we'll spend if we imagine that we've found THE ONE.

I don't know if Kollontai had all this stuff in mind when she made her "glass of water" comparison; but she certainly was aware of the romanticist MYSTIQUE OF GREAT LOVE...and simply thought that revolutionaries should just dump all that crap.


I would have no problems shaking hands with Condoleeza Rice or even Ann Coulter, but wouldn't consider having sex with either.

The only time I would willingly find myself in the same room as those women is as prosecuting attorney at the International War Crimes Tribunal.
First posted at RevLeft on February 7, 2006


1.Well, the strawman is afire. What was your point?

Well, let's consult the "strawman" himself...

quote (Lenin):

In sexual life there is not only simple nature to be considered, but also cultural characteristics, whether they are of a high or low order. In his Origin of the Family Engels showed how significant is the development and refinement of the general sex urge into individual sex love.

High? Low? Refinement?

So here is our "strawman" who, in 1920, has reached the level of Engels in 1884.

That's not so bad, of course...most Russians in 1920 were living in the 17th century or even earlier!

Obviously, there were a few young communists in Moscow and Petrograd who had jumped substantially "ahead of Lenin"...hence his soulful lament on the "disease of modernity".

As if time should "just stop, dammit!"

Isn't that an odd thing for a "communist" to say???


2. In between a glass of water and the Holy Grail, there could be something else, don't you think?

I suspect a lot of people wish that were possible...and do their very best to find some "middle ground".

But the "arrow of time" seems to be pointing rather decisively in the "glass of water" direction.

Probably because mutual sexual pleasure does not require an elaborate metaphysical "justification".

It's "a good thing" in and of itself.


3. I am tempted to propose that Heinlein's Stranger in a Strange Land is a parody about the Lenin/Kollontai controversy. Apparently, Heinlein's Martians have sex like we drink water, and drink water like we have sex (romanticist MYSTIQUE) included.

Heinlein was an interesting fellow in many ways. Some of his "predictions" were amazingly "on target".

For example, he predicted the rise of Christian fundamentalism for the very period in which we are now living -- to be, in turn, overthrown by a violent revolution in 2100.

Though he explicitly hated Russian "communism", he predicted a quasi-communist society for, I guess, 2200-2300CE or thereabouts.

Incidentally, the first draft of Stranger in a Strange Land made it clear that he was perfectly comfortable with gay sex...but his original publishers made him change the text and include a bit of mild homophobia. In later works, like Time Enough for Love, his people of 4000CE are almost all bi-sexual.

And sex is pretty much like drinking water except on "backward planets".


4. Amazingly, both Lenin and Kollontai were Russians. Which one's position should be "easily explained" by their national origin?

Well, not exactly. Being "Russian" meant different things back in those days.

Lenin was born and raised in Simbirsk...about 1500 miles east of Moscow. He attended law school at the University of "intellectual oasis" in a central Russian province that may still be predominately Sunni Muslim. He never made it to St. Petersburg until he was 23!

Kollontai was born and raised in St. Petersburg...the most "European" of Russian cities. Her family was fairly wealthy and it's certain she received an excellent education by the standards for women at the time. Her mother was Finnish, so she certainly had at least some knowledge of that language. An "upper class" education in the Russia of that era meant learning French and probably German as well.

She may have been born "geographically" in Russia...but in a cultural sense, she was "European".

To find Kollontai more advanced than Lenin would hardly surprise any historical materialist when informed of their origins. Kollontai got a "better start in life" than Lenin did.

I noticed this myself back in the 60s in the U.S. The kids who came from New York City or Boston or San Francisco just knew a hell of a lot more stuff than the kids from other parts of the U.S....even if their parents weren't lefties.

This may change quite a bit in the "age of the internet"...but in early 20th century Russia the gaps between regions must have been truly enormous.


What's wrong with these two particular glasses of water?

The hideous stench of innocent blood!

One might just as well have sex with a stinking corpse.
First posted at RevLeft on February 9, 2006


In other words, the ideology of the "glass of water" is as capitalistic and conventional as the ideology of the "missing half".

Not if you measure by "column inches" or "prime time minutes".

"Glass of water" ideology might prevail in the pages of Playboy or Cosmopolitan...and there have been and are sit-coms and films that suggest that idea.

But the vast bulk of propaganda is "missing half" ideology.

You might well purchase more gifts if you had three girl friends rather than only one (lucky you!)...but it's THE ONE on whom you spend the serious money.
First posted at RevLeft on February 10, 2006
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