Leninthink refers to a form of totalitarianism that originated with Vladimir Lenin and is primarily used in totalitarian states derived from Marxist-Leninist thought. The term was coined by Gary Saul Morson.
Leninthink, as befitting of an expression of totalitarian thought, does not believe in any private sphere outside the state, resulting in the creation of the one-party state, as well as it being modeled directly after the French Jacobins and their infamous Reign of Terror. In addition, Leninthink was also notable as being among the first to exterminate members of their own people, with the ideology under Lenin managing to have more Russians killed during his War with Peasants than their overall casualties during World War I, including the Russian Civil War. Similarly, under Leninthink, arrests and executions against people were often done arbitrarily under Lenin's design, which ended up greatly expanded under Stalin, with party members also not being exempt from either the Cheka or the NKVD. As a result, any Cheka members who were suspected to be arrested soon often committed suicide, largely because the arrests also entailed torture and humiliation of the most brutal levels not just against themselves, but also against members of their family. As such, merely being part of a family that included a traitor to the USSR was enough to be considered a criminal, with Lenin even having camps set up specifically for wives of enemies of the people.
The overall ideology originated from Karl Marx's teachings, in particular via the concept of dictatorship of the proletariat, which Lenin deemed Marx's greatest contribution beyond even the concept of class struggle. Lenin himself defined dictatorship as "nothing other than power which is totally unlimited by any laws, totally unrestrained by absolutely any rules, and based directly on force" as early as 1906. In addition, he argued that the revolutionary Party is required to be entirely staffed with professional revolutionaries made up of the intelligentsia (which meant people adhering to radical materialism, atheism, and humanism) their being subject to absolute discipline, and possessing a readiness to do literally anything the leadership demanded. The ideology also had its roots in Lenin's zero-sum philosophy regarding social interactions, where only one gains, and the other loses (a stark contrast with basic microeconomics, which indicates that both sides win in a transaction provided it wasn't forced). This philosophy also led to his hatred of the free market, to the extent of trying to eliminate it altogether with war communism, with his hatred of markets being such that he deems literally any form of transaction, no matter how small, as being equivalent to the capital crimes of profiteering and speculation, to the extent that even peasants selling produce were deemed bagmen and shot. In fact, Lenin's viewpoint even extended to negotiations, where the Soviets openly deemed everything to be theirs, and the other party in the negotiation's stake was "negotiable" at best, even insisting that the Communists take and the others give, advocating for taking maximum advantage of the Soviets' position to the extent of utterly destroying the enemy due to the latter being deemed weak enough. In fact, even stopping at one's initial demands was considered tantamount to treason, or at best insanity, the latter of which had Lenin advocating for locking anyone who made any concessions to Americans be forcibly institutionalized. As a result, leninthink required extreme solutions, not allowing for a middle ground even under philosophical issues, to the extent that anyone not following exactly Lenin's precise interpretation of materialism makes them an idealist by default, and by extension discredited religion. Largely because of this viewpoint, Lenin, in contrast to other Bolshevik leaders, also rejected the idea of a broad socialist government, even expressing relief when the Left Socialist Revolutionaries collapsed, as well as decreeing the Kadet faction "outside the law" and having two of their leaders lynched at a St. Petersburg hospital upon seizing power.
In addition, leninthink also required the default option being maximum amount of violence being inflicted upon an enemy, to the extent that Lenin even rebuked followers who showed any hesitance in randomly shooting family members held prisoner, restraining mobs from lynching others, or not using enough force. This almost mystical fascination with the use of force also resulted in Lenin often having conscripted labor army members being sent to concentration camps if they showed any shirking or tardiness, and until he was forced to implement the New Economic Policy due to economic collapse demanded that his forces requisition grain from peasants at gunpoint instead of purchasing it, and having any rebellious Kulaks killed such as during his infamous hanging orders of 1918, and even specifically requesting in a post script to find tougher people. As noted above, Lenin modeled this partly on the French Revolution's Reign of Terror, viewing it as what brought the event to glory. As such, he also explicitly reject any notion of empathy, including kindness, mercy, and pity, even going as far as to deem them vices and explicitly teaching such to schoolchildren.
Leninthink also claimed to have their own moral system, though it is accurate to call it a self-serving moral system where it is entirely formed solely for the class struggle via any means necessary, being comparable to the Abbey of Thélème, to the extent that the concepts of "no crime without law" and "no law without punishment" were rejected by Lenin himself, even advocating during the first drafting of the Soviet code that the use of arbritary terror be explicitly granted within. This view in particular had its roots in the Paris Commune, or rather, its collapse, as Lenin blamed its fall on their failure to fully abolish law and order. As a result, the Soviet state was absolutely forbidden from any use of restraint on arbitrary power, to the extent that officials often ended up punished if they showed any form of restraint, which was deemed by Lenin and Stalin as impermissible slackness and lack of vigilance, respectively. Similarly, the code also granted absolute freedom of speech, with the only specific exemption being lying. Even there, there was a distinction between purely formal law and what was deemed "the material determination of the crime", the latter of which meant that freedom of speech only existed on paper due to every "socially dangerous" act, or omission, was automatically deemed a criminal act, with such being in effect as early as 1919. Similarly, the 1922 Civil Code, Article I cited that civil rights "are protected by the law unless they are exercised in contradiction to their social and economic purposes.", which essentially meant that the state was absolutely prohibited from interfering except when it wants to.
In addition, leninthink advocated for "blackening an opponent's mug so well that it would take ages for that person to get it clean again", with traces of this philosophy even being found in Rules for Radicals by Saul Alinsky (himself an adherent to Leninism). This even extended to rival factions, where Lenin openly admitted that he cares far more for destroying his Menshevik opponents than actually convincing them. He also makes clear they are not to make any concessions, and that they eliminate a "wrong" view immediately, and deeming nothing is true unless it is "absolutely, indubitably so", not allowing for even the slightest possible doubt. This also essentially meant they were to be executed without even a trial simply for not being part of his platform. It also required absolute uniformity and things be absolutely the same. Indeed, it even required associating people with disreputable people they never even heard of, and even indicated they didn't need to understand their opponent's views, since the mere fact that the opponents disagreed with them meant they were wrong. Leninthink also advocated for party-mindedness in the most absolute manner, to the extent that they'd confess even to committing fantastical crimes despite already being in jail at the time the crimes were committed, simply because the party demanded for them to do so, absorbing its tenants deeply enough to even be considered a quasi-miracle man, and completely toss out even beliefs he held for many years if the party insisted he do not hold to them without question, submerging into the collective, being ready to believe literally anything the Party told him to believe. Ironically, this aspect of leninthink also led true believers to be killed by the party to eliminate anyone who might be perceptive enough to notice that the leadership isn't even living by their own rules.
On a similar note, adherents of leninthink also didn't believe in the concept of the shoe being on the other foot, to the extent that if asked if they are not any different from the Tsarists will have them insist they're different simply because they killed different types of people.
Although utilized primarily by Marxist-Leninists, it can also be utilized by several left-leaning groups, including social justice warriors, regardless of whether they themselves actually adhere to Leninist views.
- Vladimir Lenin
- Joseph Stalin
- Moral relativism
- Dictatorships and double standards
- Leninthink at The New Criterion