Of all historic revolutionaries, Lenin is the most controversial. I think it has to do with him being a very strong shade of gray. While he certainly contributed to the Red Terror, I remind myself that he grew up in a society that had taught terror as a legitimate response to actions. For most Russians it would seem natural to respond to a bloody Civil War with some faithful reciprocation, especially when you were the target of assassination. This should not be an apology for his actions, but rather an understanding of why he undertook the path he did instead of rehashing religious dichotomies of "good" and "evil." If such dichotomy were to exist, I'd say...
- Decried anti-Semitism for not focusing on class conflict
- Legalized bi-gender suffrage
- Legalized homosexuality
- Legalized birth control and abortion
- Pulled out of WWI
- Implemented the Red Terror
- Banned opposition parties during the Civil War for "traitorous" activities
- Allowed small businesses and private farmers to remain, no forceful collectivization (depends on your view of communism)
- Possibly ordered for the execution of the tzar and his entire family
I think Lenin did what he felt he had to do in order to win. But means ultimately compromised the ends.
Also, he and Trotsky will always have a strike against them in my book for crushing the Kronsdadt sailors when they made their list of demands to the Lenin government. They represented the truest aspirations of the Russian Revolution, all hopes for Soviet Democracy and Socialism was crushed with them.
Anyone else have any thoughts?