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.
[...] The play of unity
as a mental device sides with denial of its self-image, contracted
to open a hazard sentence with subject deletion at null point of
its entry. To speak of forgiveness, a cloud may be forgiven yet
not forgive, participate to shed excuse by transfer to ransom, and
yet still the moral apex is contested, generic virtue just a name
for the apex above its snowy brow shedding its tribute with a sound
but half its own, things by dielectric bonding, its outside voltage
source proportional to and opposite in sign to the charge delivered
by the intervening material to its outer boundaries: and what wert
thou, like this brooding vapour, if no more than vacant, than no
more is more because than is the limit to love, of its favourite
name, the check for chicken in a basket. Don’t end there for
Brent-crude declension ever uppermost by famous agent out of reach
captured to line enhancement, word lackage at horizon long for
longing and dredged with ethic partaken: zero point flooded with
lunar shadow across the eyelid. [...]
I very much advise you to write the plan of the pamphlet in as much detail as possible. Otherwise too much is unclear.
One opinion I must express here and now:
I advise you to throw out altogether §3 – the “demand (women’s) for freedom of love”.
That is not really a proletarian but a bourgeois demand.
After all, what do you understand by that phrase? What can be understood by it?
1. Freedom from material (financial) calculations in affairs of love?
2. The same, from material worries?
3. From religious prejudices?
4. From prohibitions by Papa, etc.?
5. From the prejudices of “society”?
6. From the narrow circumstances of one’s environment (peasant or petty-bourgeois or bourgeois intellectual)?
7. From the fetters of the law, the courts and the police?
8. From the serious element in love?
9. From child-birth?
10. Freedom of adultery? etc.
I have enumerated many shades (not all of course). You have in mind, of course, not nos. 8-10, but either nos. 1-7 or something similar to nos. 1-7.
But then for nos. 1-7 you must choose a different wording, because freedom of love does not express this idea exactly.
And the public, the readers of the pamphlet, will inevitably understand by “freedom of love”, in general, something like nos. 8-10, even without your wishing it.
Just because in modern society the most talkative, noisy and “top-prominent” classes understand by “freedom of love” nos. 8-10, just for that very reason this is not a proletarian but a bourgeois demand.
For the proletariat nos. 1-2 are the most important, and then nos. 5-7, and those, in fact, are not “freedom of love”.
The thing is not what you subjectively “mean” by this. The thing is the objective logic of class relations in affairs of love.
Friendly shake hands!
Source: In Lenin’s Collected Works, ed. Robert Daglish, vol. 35 – quoted in Neil Pattison’s essay “To the Professors of Fleeting Etc.: Keston Sutherland’s Antifreeze and the Significance of Love,” in Crisis Inquiry, ed. Rich Owens.
Elsewhere: Damn the Caesars.
Subsequently, I found myself in a routinely tedious faculty meeting, in which, as usual, I carried no presence whatsoever. As drivers insist that the blaring radio aids their concentration on the road, so I always found that a volume open on my lap enabled me to pay the small amount of attention needed to navigate these shallows. When asked with withering detection by the impassive secretary whether the book I was blatantly perusing was good, I nonchalantly replied, “I only read good books.” I responded similarly to her policing my failure to send a note of apology for a meeting that I actually managed to miss, “But I’m not sorry.” On this particular occasion, I was aware of an intense aura emanating from someone whom I had never seen before, an intense, sexual aura, aimed precisely and accurately at my vacant being. “A man,” I wondered, “could there be a man in this meeting?” He looked weather-beaten, his flat, lined faced suffused with a self-consciously alert intelligence and a knowledge of sensual power. I had no idea who he was, and did not pursue the matter.
The code TL61P belongs to a Hotpoint dryer;
You’ll find out nothing if you look
it up through the sky in the screen, the vault
of exchangable passion, Vertigo at
the horizon prostrate as an outstretched
cheek; but in the mouth that grows
in capacity behind that overflow,
Nobody can take away the word for it:
love, the provisional end until death;
TL61P its unconditional perfected shadow
opposite; Now go back to the start.