When new nationalist saviors like current Prime Minister Vladimir Putin appear on stage, flaunting the same arrogance Lenin practiced with his messianic vision, Russians ought to be able to look at Lenin’s tomb for a chilling reminder that rigid, intolerant ideologies are usually flawed and destructive beyond imagining.
The cult of personality that Lenin and his heirs promoted led to gulags, mass famine, genocide, and other unspeakable evils. Russians need visible symbols like that granite mausoleum in Red Square to remind all of us of the crimes committed by leaders who are certain that there is but one true vision – theirs.
History can be swept under the rug temporarily but it doesn’t stay there forever. Only recently did historians learn that Mao Zedong killed 45 million Chinese in a forced famine in the four years between 1958 and 1962.
Modern societies, if they are to remain civilized and cultured, require healthy doses of introspection, self-criticism, and atonement to prevent backsliding into medieval darkness and savagery.