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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Lenin Fans See Future in Past

Seventy years after his death, with government plans afoot to finally bury his embalmed corpse, Vladimir Ilyich Lenin would seem to be deader than ever. But 26 Marxist-Leninist scholars and other Lenin fans marked the anniversary Friday with a conference entitled, "Is Lenin Alive Today?"

In a conference room at Pravda, the Communist newspaper Lenin founded as an underground revolutionary, much of the talk was straight out of some smoky 19th-century garret: Battling the well-funded, well-armed "forces of capital." The pros and cons of taking part in a "liberal-bourgeois parliament." One day after Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin announced the end of radical reform and introduced a cabinet favoring central planning, the speakers argued that Leninism was more relevant today than ever.

Far from mourning the Soviet Union's demise, the mostly male audience of rumpled-looking professors was eager to dismiss 70 years of Communist practice and recapture Lenin's glory days as an idealistic opposition hero. "Communism is naturally anti-government," said one speaker, Pravda writer Boris Slavin.

Still, the group's views of Leninism were not untouched by decades of real-life experience in the state Lenin founded -- experience best reflected, perhaps, in a slip by Novikov.

"Socialism," he intoned, "is the highest form of bureaucracy."

"Excuse me -- democracy!" he corrected himself after a split second of confusion, winning chuckles.

Though much of the dialogue hovered in the ether of "dialectical methodology," its aim was to apply early Communist doctrine to current politics.

Slavin warned against Communists' recent migration toward Vladimir Zhirinovsky's nationalist, expansionist doctrine. The "mass concentration camps" spawned by Leninism were acknowledged by Alexander Buzgalin, who organized the talk.

While few Muscovites celebrated or even remembered the anniversary, several hundred laid wreaths and flowers on Lenin's tomb on Red Square in the biting cold Friday morning, including about 40 Lenin Museum employees and a delegation led by Gennady Zyuganov, leader of the Communist Party of the Russian Federation.