[artinfo] (fwd) What is to be Done? Invitation to contribute to project in
Lenin Museum Finland
Mon, 3 Feb 2003 00:59:56 +0100
Date: Sat, 18 Jan 2003 11:43:42 +1100
Subject: What is to be Done? Invitation to contribute to project in Lenin=
=46rom: "Susan Kelly" <email@example.com>
We are writing to invite you to participate in a forthcoming exhibition at
the Lenin Museum in Tampere, Finland. 'What is to be Done? Questions for
the 21st Century' appeals for your response to Lenin?s original question
"what is to be done?" posed in 1902. Your response, along with those of
others drawn from a local, national and international public, will be
documented, archived and displayed in the exhibition.
Lenin's ideas about revolutionary change, the relationship between local
movements and universal social struggles, as well as his predictions about
late capitalism and imperialism seem surprisingly relevant today. What is
to be Done? Questions for the 21st Century encourages you to write down
any thoughts you might have about possible social change today. Your
response can be something short, a slogan, an idea or a reference to a
specific situation you feel is important. Under late capitalism?s all
encompassing reach, it is our very freedom to think that is being eroded.
In the spirit of Lenin?s thought, we repeat the question ?what is to be
done? as a sincere appeal for your ideas and thoughts on our future.
The Lenin museum opened in January 1946 in the Tampere Workers' Hall where
Lenin had pledged to further the cause of Finnish independence. In the same
building, Lenin and Stalin met for the first time in 1905. The museum
preserves, exhibits and researches the objects, documents and symbols of
the Soviet era and has developed into a widely acclaimed institute of
culture and research. The downfall of the Soviet Union has left the museum
the last regularly operating museum of its kind in the whole world.
In the following e-mail there will be a series of short statements and
questions that we now ask you to respond to. We request that you e-mail
your response, which we will then transfer to a time card format for the
exhibition. All responses will be gathered together, translated in Finnish
and Russian, documented and presented as an archive at the Lenin Museum in
=46ebruary 2003. With your permission, multiple copies of your response will
be made so that visitors to the museum can take some ideas away. A selected
number of responses will also be reproduced in a book publication later on
in 2003. Please indicate in your e-mail if you are willing to let us
reproduce your text. We need to have all of our responses in by Christmas
2002 or mid-January at the very latest, so that we have time to translate
This question is asked of individuals and groups in Tampere and broader
national and international constituencies in Finland, Russia, the US and
elsewhere. The questions also currently appear in several international art
journals with perforated response cards. Please feel free to pass on the
questions to any interested friends or colleagues. We would like to harness
the energies of those who think about change today and put them into
dialogue in this important public space.
Thank you for your time and participation!
Susan Kelly and Stephen Morton
What is to be done?
Questions for the 21st Century
Lenin's description of imperialism as the highest stage of capitalism now
seems like a self-fulfilling prophecy. After the collapse of the Soviet
bloc the total spread of unregulated global capitalism is seen as
inevitable. With this spread, a third of the world?s population lives on
less than $2 a day and the poorest countries in the world owe a $422
billion debt that can never be paid. Yet, events in Seattle, Genoa and
elsewhere show that global capitalism can be resisted. Do you think that
Lenin?s ideas are of any use today? What are the burning social and
political questions of our time?
When Lenin wrote What is to be Done? in 1902, he mainly wanted to
distinguish between radical revolutionary politics and the reformists who
just wanted to patch things up. Lenin was intolerant of questions that
failed to really challenge the dominant political order. How can we provoke
significant change today and do you think any real shift can really happen
under our present system?
The Lenin Museum in Tampere is the site of Lenin and Stalin's first
meeting. Lenin's ideas are often seen as leading inevitably to Stalinism
and the terror of the Soviet Empire. This has been called the Leninist
Tragedy. At the scene of their meeting, is it possible to rescue some of
Lenin's ideas from this fate? How can we prevent social change from turning
into a situation where the same structures of power are re-established with
different players at the top?
In Tampere, 1906 Lenin made a pledge to honour the Finnish right to
self-determination after the Bolshevik Revolution. Lenin believed that
Marx's revolutionary ideas had to be adapted to the local and national
conditions of workers rather than being imposed from above. In Lenin?s
time, this mobilisation of worker's movements was the most effective way of
achieving international solidarity. The phrase 'workers of the world unite'
may now seem like an impossible ideal since late capitalism has crushed
union power and pitted the workers of the world against one another.
Despite this gloomy picture, from where you stand right now, what are the
possibilities for social change today?
In short, what is to be done?
Please e-mail your response in not more than 300 words to
firstname.lastname@example.org or mail to:
What is to be Done? The Lenin Museum
H=94meenpuisto 28, FIN-33200 Tampere, FINLAND