Nigerian letter: “Socialism and Syphilis: Where is the Nexus?”

Whom men fear they hate, and whom they hate they wish dead” – Cicero

It is common knowledge that the idea of socialism is subjected constantly to all kinds of tremendously offensive attacks, and as such should no longer surprise us. Yet, I cannot refrain from being amused, or more appropriately, appalled by the intellectual putrescence and political bankruptcy of most of these ineffectual attacks. Also of great dismay is the conduct of the bourgeoisie who, despondent at the blind alley they and their capitalist system have plunged into, resorts, in panic and desperation, to these besmirching onslaughts. No matter how rationally repulsive, they could not care less!!

The New York Times featured recently an article in its Science review section titled: “Lenin’s syphilis”. In the lengthy piece an attempt was made to establish, although incongruously, that Lenin died of the “sexually-transmitted” (their demented emphasis) disease syphilis, contrary to the established view that he died of a stroke.

First and foremost, to dare to join issue with them on a hypothesis that lacks focus is to pointlessly waste precious time. One should rather point out to all reasonable minds out there, that where or what is the connection between the idea that Lenin fought for till his death and the medical cause of his death? Even if it were true, which it definitely is not, how has it removed the cogency, potency, truth and inevitability of socialism? Besides, Lenin never, anywhere, declared himself celibate, or better put, impotent! Sex for Lenin was not a moral question but a physiological and rational one, like it should be for every genuine Marxist and class-conscious worker or person who will not enslave himself to the narrow standards of bourgeois morality, which serves the interest of no one else but their very own class!

Needless to say, if one is permitted to indulge in their crass stupidity, one shall ask the questions, wasn’t it Alzheimer’s (as terrible as it is) that knocked life out of the much celebrated Ronald Reagan? What of the crippled and wheelchair-condemned F.D. Roosevelt? And on the sex angle, has the Monica Lewinsky affair been forgotten so soon? Since we have accepted that this is an adventure into stupidity, like the New York Times people, then the Watergate scandal though far off but still fresh in memory can also be included. The list goes on and on… it encompasses all other defenders, whether directly or indirectly, of the capitalist system, although not one of them can stand on the same pedestal with Lenin, be it politically, socially, intellectually, even morally or in any other sense rationally imaginable.

In a particular sentence, the New York Times people tried, “ad nauseam”, to paint Lenin as a poltroon. They stated that Lenin at a point in time requested for poison to end his life as a result of pain from syphilis! At this stage, the witticism of George Bidault comes to mind: “the weak has one weapon; the errors of those who are strong.” One can picture them, scurrying around like termites whose nest has just been broken open, all in a bid, no matter how inconclusive, to degrade socialism by discrediting Lenin who is widely acknowledged as one of its chief proponents and exponents. This also shows clearly that morality is a weapon the bourgeoisie uses only when it suits their class interest. They had to resort to innumerable lies, deceit, fabrications and falsifications in order to assassinate Lenin’s character.

Once again, rather than waste time on petty squabbles, we shall point out that as genuine Marxists, or even as reasonable people, as much as we respect greatly the contributions and influence on humanity of an individual in history; we hero-worship nobody. The truth we fight for (like Lenin) surpasses all individual considerations (be it Lenin or even Marx).

Truly, the crimes of Stalinism have done untold damage to the idea of socialism and in essence made the word socialism stink, and this fact the bourgeoisie of every country use to frighten the workers. The cry; you want socialism? The slave-labour camps were socialism! You want communism? The repressions, imprisonments, murder, frame-up trials, killings and massacres like that of Tiananmen Square in China in 1989 – that is communism! Moreover, socialism died in 1989 with the fall of the Berlin wall and the collapse of the USSR!

Thus, they lump Stalinism and socialism together and try to present them as one and the same thing. However, everyday common sense suggests that whatever is dead is powerless and harmless, hence can be ignored and forgotten about. In the case of socialism, the exact opposite is the truth: the bourgeoisie constantly lampoon and pour invectives on socialism. The obvious question any thinking person would ask then is; why is this so? The answer lies precisely in the fact that socialism is far from dead but very alive and still poses a threat to the power and privileges of the bourgeoisie.

Socialism, on a daily basis, is still proving itself to be the only positive future of humanity – not in the pages of Capital but in the broad field of global economics and politics; not in the language of dialectics but in human life, activity and struggle. This is the bitter truth!

We therefore tell the New York Times people with satisfaction that their attempt to discredit socialism by assassinating Lenin’s character has failed woefully and irrevocably. We wish to also advise them to borrow wisdom from John .F. Kennedy when he wrote, “Man must die of something; whether natural or artificial, but if one dies in pursuit of a noble cause one has not died in vain.”

Afterthought: In the event that any reader out there is able to establish a relationship between socialism and syphilis, let me know immediately. But please, I would be more pleased if you can be specific. For example, are they husband and wife? (Which is the husband? Which is the wife?); parent and child? (Which is the parent? Which is the child?); Siblings? ; In-laws? ; Cousin? ; etc, etc, as infinitely as your imagination permits!?

Dotun Sedov
July 9th, 2004

[Published in the July-August 2004 edition of the Workers’ Alternative]