Today, even the self-proclaimed post-Marxist radicals endorse the gap between ethics and politics, relegating politics to the domain of doxa, of pragmatic considerations and compromises that always and by definition fall short of the unconditional ethical demand. The notion of a politics that would not have been a series of mere pragmatic interventions—a politics of Truth—is dismissed as "totalitarian." The breaking out of this deadlock, the reassertion of a politics of Truth today, should take the form of a return to Lenin. Why Lenin? Why not simply Marx? Is the proper return not a return to origins proper? Today, "returning to Marx" is already a minor academic fashion. Which Marx do we get in these returns? On one hand, there is the Cultural Studies Marx, the Marx of the postmodern sophists, of the Messianic promise; on the other hand, there is the Marx who foretold the dynamic of today's globalization and is evoked as such even on Wall Street. What both of these Marxes have in common is the denial of politics proper. The reference to Lenin enables us to avoid these two pitfalls.
Two features distinguish Lenin's intervention. First, one cannot emphasize enough the fact of Lenin's externality with regard to Marx. He was not a member of Marx's "inner circle" of the initiated; he never met either Marx or Engels. Moreover, he came from a land at the Eastern borders of "European civilization." (This externality is part of the standard Western racist argument against Lenin: He introduced into Marxism the Russian-Asiatic "despotic principle." In one further remove, Russians themselves disown him, pointing toward his Tatar origins.) Yet it is only possible to retrieve the theory's original impulse from this external position, in exactly the way that Saint Paul, who formulated the basic tenets of Christianity, was not part of Christ's inner circle; and as Lacan accomplished his "return to Freud" using a totally distinct theoretical tradition as leverage.