There is No Middle Ground

By | January 30, 2020

[January 30, 2020]  One of the benefits of the study of leadership is the hunt for ideas that make us think.  The “hunt” itself carries great value; like the hunt for discoveries, we find it immensely satisfying.  Recent remarks by Dr. Gary Saul Morson takes on the ideas of Lenin and Lenin’s method of thinking.  He calls it “Leninthink” (see link here for the audio and summary).

I’m often asked why I oppose socialism and communism, two ideologies that differ only in degree but not upon its foundation.  Ideas of Dr. Morson help frame it nicely.  The quotes below are his words.

“As we approach the 150th anniversary of Lenin’s birth, understanding him grows ever more important. Despite the fall of the Soviet Union, Leninist ways of thinking continue to spread, especially among Western radicals who have never read a word of Lenin.”

Dr. Morson proposes that Leninthink is not just wrong or radical but an existential threat to democratic notions of nation and state.  It is based wholly upon terror.

“Stephen Pinker has recently argued that the world has been getting less bloodthirsty. The Mongols, after all, destroyed entire cities. But the Mongols murdered other people; what is new, and uniquely horrible about the Soviets and their successors, is that they directed their fury at their own people.”

Lenin regarded all interactions as zero-sum.  His firm belief was that to the extent that we gain, you lose.  In the marketplace, transactions are non-forced social interactions.  Both the seller and buyer gain from the effort of a deal.  Communism was created with the opposite idea; that “all” economic transactions are necessarily exploitive.

“Such thinking automatically favors extreme solutions. If there is one sort of person Lenin truly hated more than any other, it is—to use some of his more printable adjectives—the squishy, squeamish, spineless, dull-witted liberal reformer. In philosophical issues, too, there can never be a middle ground. If you are not a materialist in precisely Lenin’s interpretation, you are an idealist, and idealism is simply disguised religion supporting the bourgeoisie.”

Thus, to denigrate the socialist ideology in any way or to shift away from it in the slightest degree means to strengthen the bourgeois ideology.  Every idea, solution, or effort that suggests a middle path is deception and must be stopped.

In [Lenin’s] view, Marx’s greatest contribution was not the idea of the class struggle but “the dictatorship of the proletariat,” and as far back as 1906 Lenin had defined dictatorship as “nothing other than power which is totally unlimited by any laws, totally unrestrained by absolutely any rules, and based directly on force.”

Lenin always insisted on the most violent solutions.  He rebuked subordinates for not using enough force to retrain mobs from lynchings and for not randomly shooting chosen hostages.  Force had a mystical attraction for Lenin.

“Lenin constantly recommended that people be shot “without pity” or “exterminated mercilessly.” “Exterminate” is a term used for vermin, and, long before the Nazis described Jews as Ungeziefer (vermin), Lenin routinely called for ‘the cleansing of Russia’s soil of all harmful insects, of scoundrels, fleas, bedbugs—the rich, and so on.’”

A unique logic, too, apparently governs the Leninist approach to morality.  Lenin believed that any morality that holds that whatever contributes to State success is moral.  Whatever hinders, it is immoral.

“I know of no other society, except those modeled on the one Lenin created, where schoolchildren were taught that mercy, kindness, and pity are vices. After all, these feelings might lead one to hesitate shooting a class enemy or denouncing one’s parents. The word “conscience” went out of use, replaced by “consciousness” (in the sense of Marxist-Leninist ideological consciousness).”

 For Lenin, there must be no concessions, compromises, exceptions, or acts of leniency.  Everything must be totally uniform, absolutely the same, unqualifiedly unqualified.  And, this explains why I despise the ideology of socialism and communism so unequivocally and without hesitation.  There is no middle ground.


Note: Please read my two-part series on Socialism and Leadership from 2014.  Links can be found here and here.

Author: Douglas R. Satterfield

Hello. I'm Doug and I provide at least one article everyday on some leadership topic. I welcome comments and also guests who would like to write an article. Thanks for reading my blog.

31 thoughts on “There is No Middle Ground

  1. Delf "Jelly" Bryce

    Wow, well laid out and excellent thoughts about socialism and communism.

    1. Dale Paul Fox

      Thanks Jelly and I wholeheartedly agree. This gross ideology is for the mentally childish among us. It takes BOTH logic and emotion to pry those infected by it off the train to hate and death.

  2. Lynn Pitts

    Why do polls show that a majority of American millennials have a favorable view of socialism?

    1. Wilson Cox

      Some of the new progressive rich feel guilty about their unprecedented wealth. So they champion redistribution as the sort of medieval penance that alleviates guilt.

    2. Eric Coda

      Unregulated immigration, liberal university professors and administrations, guilty consciousness of the very rich, doctrinaire Republicans, socialist Democrats, and the “lost generation” are all a complex web of the fog of humanity. One day, I hope the fog will clear and those that added to it will have their names in neon lights to show their gross failure to humanity.

  3. Bill Sanders, Jr.

    “No Middle Ground” what an appropriate title for such a destructive set of ideas. History tells us a lot about it but many refuse to listen. Why? Those folks think that they are much “smarter” than the rest of us but they are also “blind” to the world.

    1. Andrew Dooley

      Blind – yes, Stupid – no, Superior – of course not. The leftists of the world can control many but they will never control or even influence me or my family.

    2. The Kid 1945

      Multiple forms of socialism, from hard Stalinism to European redistribution, continue to fail.

      1. Dead Pool Guy

        You got that right. Kid, hope you have been well. I haven’t seen you on this forum in a while.

  4. Joe Omerrod

    The study of the Russian 1917 revolution should be mandatory in all schools. If it were, the ideas of it would have already been in the trashbin of history and mocked whenever brought up in serious conversation. It takes some great minds to build the arguments against it but it only takes the lazy to fail to understand it.

  5. apache2

    Thanks. I’ll start listening to Dr. Morson when I get home from work today. Sounds like an audio of him that requires some serious concentration.

    1. Harry Donner

      I will be a start. There are a number of books and lectures that can be found that get to the heart of this terrible ideology. Another is Dr. Jordan Peterson from the Univ of Toronto. He also can be found on YouTube.

    1. Georgie B.

      Thanks JT for the reference. I never heard of this man before but I’m glad I came to Gen. Satterfield’s leadership blog today and learned something I can actually use when confronted by nutjobs that like Socialism.

  6. Valkerie

    General Satterfield and I are on the same wavelength …… communism and socialism SUCKs bigtime! 😊

  7. KenFBrown

    I’ve got to read more about this Dr. Morson. He appears to be a great thinker and historian. There are not many of them left in academia any more.

    1. Nancy B

      I’m a graduate of Texas Tech Univ years ago and didn’t realize Dr. Morson was there. I sure missed out.

      1. Doug Smith

        From the beginning paragraph. This year, 2017, marks the centenary of the Bolshevik Revolution, an event that tragically reshaped Russian and Western history. How such an extraordinary event, and the ghastly regime it produced, could ever have happened depended not only on a great war, and the theoretical arcana of Karl Marx but, perhaps even more, on the outlook of the Russian intelligentsia and its assumptions about its social role. These same psychological and ideological predispositions continue to be found among intellectuals today. Hence, understanding the cultural setting of the Russian Revolution also helps us understand some of the more dangerous currents in contemporary intellectual life.

  8. Yusaf from Texas

    Well written, keep up the great work on trashing socialism. I love it when you do such a great beat-down on those who adopt that ideology and its messages disguised in sheep’s clothing.

  9. Tom Bushmaster

    Folks love the sound of the ideas of communism and similar ideologies but failed to realize the implementation is by flawed men who are thugs in disguise of moral superiors.

    1. Kenny Foster

      Good point Tom and I will add that it tends to be immature and inexperienced who love these ideologies the most. Or, at the other extreme, those who want power over others. Like Stalin, Mao, Xi of China today, and many others. To let ourselves go down that road with politicians like Bernie Sanders is an existential threat to our lives. I’m glad Gen. Satterfield gave us profiles on the Democrats (all socialists) and now we have a basis for rejecting them completely.

      1. Eva Easterbrook

        I once liked Bernie Sanders but no longer. He is a horrific person who wants everything for himself and his family but not for you and me.

      2. Gil Johnson

        I do believe that Gen. Satterfield has written about this time and again. Beware of wonderful sounding ideas that have been tested but proven a failure.

  10. Army Captain

    No compromise. Who was it in America’s founding that said compromise was the linchpin of good governance? I do believe it was Henry Clay. Good man and a great example of how trust in government can go a long way toward peace and prosperity.

    1. Willie Shrumburger

      Yes, why adopt a philosophy of life (or of politics) that has a demonstrated history of the wholesale destruction of more than 100 people. And those are just the deaths. There are 100s of millions or more that have had their lives totally destroyed and many imprisoned for nothing at all.


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