By Neil Pattison.
For Alexandra Kollontai, Lenin’s zero, his silence, was a screen. His failure to speak what lay behind it would prove dangerous to the survival of the question of feminism in the revolution that Lenin made, and permitted fundamental problems in Lenin’s political thought to go unaddressed. If Lenin’s negation of the question declared himself one who had, with proletarian toughness, reduced the significance of love in his politics, then this was a declaration, as her novel A Great Love (1930) implies she believed, which Lenin was not qualified to make. His making it was at best a self-deception, at worst an act of counter-revolutionary treachery. Lenin’s silencing of the question of the significance of love concealed its secret power in his life and thought, which was embodied in his relationship with Inessa Armand, and expressed in his failure properly to answer the problems she posed him, the problems encapsulated in his own problem “10. Freedom of adultery? etc.”. For Kollontai, Lenin suppresses the question of the significance of love not just because the proletarian credentials of his own conduct in love were dubious, but also because to tell that question would be to tell the secret of his politics, disclosing its secretly romantic essence. For Kollontai, the revolution Lenin would make was only half a revolution: the other half was not negated at all, but merely repressed, and as Kollontai’s moving and acute Vasilisa Malygina (1927) argues, the repressed made its return not in the onrush of revolutionary ecstasy; but in the paralysing despair experienced during the years of the counter-revolutionary New Economic Policy, and the shattering reassertion of bourgeois-romantic ideology which it fostered. Reposing the question of the significance of love in the domain of revolutionary activism, and silencing its salience for love itself, had left the revolution without a theory of love: without which armament it could not fail but to nurture within itself, just as bourgeois society had done, a dire sickness of spirit.
Also: wagging a finger at an enemy in the past: