As long as the struggle to create a new society exists, the name and work of V.I. Lenin will have a place of honour
V.I. LENIN, a revolutionary and the greatest Marxist theoretician of the twentieth century, died 90 years ago on January 21, 1924, when a bullet, lodged in his neck by an opportunist when he was only 54, deprived him of the opportunity to complete his work. Even though he died during the very early stages of socialist revolution and construction, he had nonetheless accomplished great feats: he had established the state of the workers and peasants in Russia, as well as laid down the ideological and organizational lines for the development of the revolution and socialism.
Detail from painting “Lenin’s funeral” by Isaak Brodsky, 1925.
Right from the beginning, Lenin had set his work along the theoretical conclusions of Marxism. In this respect, he had a complete outlook of scientific socialism, based on the firm belief that the only road to open the path for the progress of society is the road of the emancipation of the working class through the proletarian revolution. This belief of Lenin, far from being invalidated by the developments in the last decade of the 20th century and since then, has been fully validated.
His first ideological consideration was the defence of the Marxist trend — that is, the trend based on the conclusions of Marxism. He presupposed that the unity of the movement hinged on the defence of this trend, which means on the development of Marxist thought and its elaboration from the conditions of his time. Besides other things, he defended the need for the elaboration of a plan for the building of the movement and condemned the spontaneist idea of “tactics as a process.” The conclusions he drew from his work at the beginning of the 20th century have profound validity to the present day.
One of the ideas which has profound significance for the present is his conclusion that the task of emancipating the working class belongs to the workers themselves. In laying the foundation for the mass communist party, CPC(M-L) continues to defend this idea and wage the ideological struggle so that the mainstay of the Party is the basic organizations at the workplaces of the modern proletarians. This idea is bound to develop further in the course of the work of CPC(M-L).
Another idea which has great validity and profound significance is his conclusion that without revolutionary theory there can be no revolutionary movement. This very idea of developing Marxist thought and elaborating it, in close connection with the revolutionary movement, has remained the line of demarcation between all schools of opportunism and revolutionary Marxists. For opportunists, revolutionary politics means detaching politics from their revolutionary essence, emasculating and transforming revolutionary theory into a series of dogmas while transforming politics into an adjunct of the bourgeois rule. On the other hand, for revolutionary Marxists, revolutionary theory develops in the course of revolutionary practice. It is an integral part of carrying out both economic and political forms of class struggle. The defence of this very idea of Lenin’s is a form of class struggle which they wage.
Recognizing the objective condition where capitalism had developed to its last stage, its parasitic and moribund stage, Lenin drew the conclusion that there is no other stage of capitalism and that it is ripe for its revolutionary overthrow and for the building of socialism. Such an idea based on the conclusion of Lenin has far greater significance than anything else. There is pressure to abandon this idea and replace it with the idea that capitalism has many stages ahead of it and that it is capable of overcoming its own contradictions.
The collapse of the regimes in eastern Europe with all their capitalist reforms showed that capitalism has no other stage of development. All countries which undertake the construction of capitalism under the pretext of a “free market economy,” are mired in anarchy and economic chaos and their reflection in politics. Lenin’s conclusion that imperialism is the eve of the proletarian revolution remains valid today. This idea is another point of ideological struggle, and its defence and elaboration are the order of the day.
Having an acute sense that his period was one of imperialism and proletarian revolution, Lenin drew the conclusion that a new kind of Party is needed in order to address the new problem of proletarian revolution. His organizational principle of democratic centralism has profound relevance today. One of the causes for the collapse of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (CPSU) was the emasculation of this idea, under the heavy weight of the bureaucracy established around the Political Bureau and the reduction of the membership in the life of the Party to the most perfunctory level. The mass of Communist Party members had become apolitical, which necessarily takes place when the idea of democratic centralism is reduced merely to a series of organizational hierarchies. The defence of this principle of democratic centralism is one of the most important tasks in laying the foundation for building a mass communist party.
Today, the world is going through a period of preparation for a new clash of world proportions. This requires a profound elaboration of Marxist-Leninist theory, as was done by Marx and Engels in their time and by Lenin and Stalin in theirs.
Lenin, early in his revolutionary work in 1908, devoted time to defending dialectical and historical materialism, the world view, method and outlook for the study of the relations between persons and persons and between persons and nature, the fundamental problem which theory and philosophy present for solution. Through his work, Lenin revealed how various opportunists under the cover of science posed as Marxists to attack the theory of dialectical and historical materialism.
Lenin’s work has profound value in carrying out similar work at the present time, in order to defend this theory which is under attack from many quarters. The attack on this theory is blurring the high road of civilization, its definition and its content, and there is pressure to divert it and transform it into a dead-end.
Lenin’s conclusions about the state and revolution, the role of the working class and its organizations, the role of the peasantry and of other social strata, the role of the Bolshevik Party to lead in a step-wise manner, the stages in the revolution and their completion and the building of the unity of all toiling masses around the working class, the waging of the class struggle, with the international proletariat playing its role as the strategic reserve of revolution, and the study of the objective conditions and strategy and tactics, taken together, all constitute a whole body of ideas which must be defended and elaborated. This body of ideas must be developed from the present conditions with a unique and fresh quality, which means that they must be based on modern definitions. These ideas have a profound meaning as they were brought into being in this epoch, the character of which is still the same. For this reason, these ideas have great relevance so long as they are not reduced into a series of dogmas.
As was the case with Lenin, so too today, the defence of the Marxist-Leninist trend is indispensable for the building of the revolutionary movement, and this defence has to be carried out in close connection with the movement. This defence of the Marxist-Leninist trend creates Contemporary Marxist-Leninist Thought, the revolutionary theory guiding the revolutionary movement. This work cannot be reduced to repeating quotes from the works of Lenin or anyone else. The defence of the Marxist-Leninist trend has to have its content consistent with the demand of the times. One of the most important of these demands is the defence of the idea of a mass communist party and turning this idea into life.
Lenin’s work began with taking up the tasks required to build the Party. Such work cannot be reproduced in the same form and with the same content, as some tried to do in the past, but its essence has to be understood and applied. The essence is that without a revolutionary party there can be no revolution and the building of such a party has to be consistent with the conditions. There are not a few who accused Lenin of abandoning Marxism because he built the Party according to the conditions of his time. In the same fashion, if someone were to abandon the great task of building the mass communist party today under the fear of being accused of abandoning Leninism, it would show a lack of deep convictions.
The life and work of V.I. Lenin are a great asset to the movement for emancipation. It is crucial to make use of this asset in the best possible way and to the greatest advantage of the working class and people of the world. Just as in his day Lenin found in the national liberation movement a great reserve of the proletarian revolution, so too today, all movements of the peoples for improvements in their conditions, especially for the democratization of life, must be vigorously supported.
A lot of changes have taken place since the time of Lenin. These changes are of a calibre that if their profound significance is not appreciated in its detail and in time, the asset of Lenin will be frittered away, as happened in eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union.
A real appreciation of this asset necessarily involves an appreciation of its essence, that it is by grasping the crucial link in the chain of how things stand that it is possible to get hold of the entire chain and bring about a revolution. In the sphere of preparing the subjective conditions for revolution, the capturing of the idea of modern definitions is that link. This link is directly connected with the revolutionary work under the condition of the retreat of revolution which enables the working class to carry out a contest to win the people to its side. The working class cannot prepare itself for final victory if it either does not carry out this contest or does not win key battles with the bourgeoisie during this period.
CPC(M-L) takes this occasion of the 90th anniversary of the death of V.I. Lenin to reiterate its firm belief in the victory of revolution and socialism. CPC(M-L) will continue to fight for the same cause as Lenin did, as the victory of revolution is as urgent today as it was then. As long as the struggle to create a new society exists, the name and work of V.I. Lenin will have a place of honour.
TML Weekly Information Project, January 18, 2014, No. 3