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Beginning with the introduction below, we will be presenting in the next few weeks a dossier on Lenin’s work, published in the ninth issue of the theoretical magazine of IWL-FI, Marxism Alive, in 2004, when it was completed 80 years of Lenin’s death. The original title of this article was: “80 years after Lenin’s death, his message is still as operational as ever”. 

Times of confusion

Every time historically momentous decisions take place there are hesitations, confusions and desertions in the rank and file of the world workers’ movement.

The sinking of the USSR was one of such events.

Imperialism managed to reabsorb all the former workers’ states that had spread over one third of mankind. And this did not befall because of an armed counterrevolution but because of “democracy” – or rather, because of “democratic reaction” applied in the countries of Eastern Europe.1

In his imperial arrogance and catholic fundamentalism Bush expressed it, “liberty is the greatest gift bestowed by the Almighty to every man and woman in the world. And as the greatest power on the face of the earth, we are under the obligation to help to extend this liberty.”

Imperialism has always conquered in the name of liberty. But after much distress they have learned how to use the democratic bourgeois regime (parliaments, regular elections, formal democracy) as an effective way of defeating revolutions. They learned this after the catastrophe of two great wars (where they nearly lost the control of the world in both after-wars), after the defeat at a small island (Cuba) and later on in another small country: Vietnam. They changed the course and we must admit that they achieved important victories.

{module Propaganda 30 anos}Today democracy is the fashion: from the hut of the poorest of the peasants to the most grandiose mansion of the president of a multinational, at school, universities, trade unions, churches, neighbours’ associations, in the reservations of native people to the charitable drawing room of the ladies of high society, bourgeois democracy spreads like gunpowder.

This does not happen because people believe in the above quoted speech of Bush’s. That can make a horse laugh. The process was altogether different and it was by no means “ideological” but material. Imperialism used their economic supremacy as if it were a cobweb to corrupt the advanced guard of the fighter: in the first place, they created a “workers’ aristocracy” in their own countries by distributing a small part of the profit they had extracted, or rather stolen, in order to pacify the rear guard with “social peace” that lasted for 50 years in the developed countries and that crystallised as “welfare state”. On the other hand, their control of the world market and the isolation of the countries that had split away from capitalism (USSR, China, Cuba, etc.) favoured the bureaucratisation of millions of leaders of these states. For the remaining poor countries, parliaments, trade unions, churches, factory commissions and NGOs were used to corrupt trade union, social and peasant leaders.

It is this material process what allows for a new appeal of “democracy” for it is the bridge for this sector to cross and join the bourgeoisie, that is to say, imperialism.

But these leaders cannot cheerfully admit that they had had changed sides for if they did they would immediately lose their influence on the workers and poor peasants and therefore they would lose their “value” as far as imperialism is concerned, that is to say their capacity to halt, smother, waste away, repress, disorganise, confuse and finally demoralise workers’ movement.

That is why this gang of crooks acts the way an octopus acts: in order to conceal their real nature, they let out a protective colourful substance and call this democracy “pure”, “universal”, “unlimited” and so on, and so conceal that this democracy is, as far as its contents are concerned, the dictatorship of the bourgeoisie and imperialism.

Democracy, after deprived of its intrinsic class character (bourgeois democracy or workers’ democracy) is a medicine that, according to those deserters who have joined the enemy, is for all the evils of mankind: it is splendidly useful for the capitalist domination that appears as a “civilised” face to present to the underdeveloped barbarians and it is useful to put to sleep the thousands of millions of modern slaves. Today, this is the real opium of the people, the only way to support the atrocious pain caused by the cancerous agony of the capitalist system.

As a consequence of this corruption of the “summit” of the working class and of the peasants, the old social democracy, today represented by such people as Blair, Shroeder or Jospin, are nothing but watchdogs of the bourgeoisie. The shameful role played by Lula in Brazil, well dubbed by James Petras as the “neoliberal Taliban” is an example of the above.

The Communist parties, with very few exceptions, have defected with arms and supplies to the capitalism and imperialism – whether American or European. They have all turned bourgeois and social democratic, reflecting the trend towards capitalist restoration of the CPs of all the former Bureaucratised Workers’ States. They turned “entrepreneurs” – the only way to keep on enjoying the privileges, if no longer as a caste, then as bourgeois. They are the new adepts of the “pure” democracy after having smothered their own people during 60 years of “pure” Stalinist dictatorships.

This “opportunist avalanche” engulfs also Marxists, and that includes many Trotskyists – mainly the the USec, United Secretariat of the IV International – who, in order to “fraternise” with the “democratic” crowd – get rid of their best weapons (the need for revolutionary violence, dictatorship of the proletariat, a democratically centralised fighting party, the revolutionary International, that is to say: the gist of a Marxist programme) and offer their contribution to the reactionary stream of “limitless democracy” and the construction of the so-called “anticapitalist” parties, a helter-skelter collection where ministers of the bourgeois government can fit in together with genuine revolutionaries. “The good son returns home”: the intellectuals, the bohemians of the European middle class, after a long drift where they tried to seduce Stalinism, castroism, bourgeois nationalism, guerrilla warfare makers, now return to their class nest without having attended lesson at the school of proletarian revolution.

All this sector kneels to the imperial democracy to halt or deviate the course of the revolutionary situation that is flooding the world.

Imperialist bourgeoisie dispose of their fine clothes to get into colonial battle boots and get ready for a new share-out of the world, in the recolonisation of the planet. This situation puts the revolution on the agenda, especially in colonial and semicolonial countries, generating very powerful wars of national liberation, as in the case of Iraq. But the revolutionary ascent has reached not only the “poor” countries but has spread over the five continents. Workers, peasants and young people all over the world have started a leftward swing and are approaching – even if still in an imprecise manner – the Marxist revolutionary programme. But just at that moment, sectors of the left started drifting towards capitalism and the defence of “democracy as universal value” and “unlimited democracy” and that increases confusion, perplexity and hesitations inside the world workers’ movement.

The lessons of Bolshevism and its top leader, Lenin, are all about these fundamental issues of the revolution: State, Imperialism, democracy, dictatorship, opportunism, party and international. The new generations of revolutionaries must retrieve this heritage that rightfully belongs to them and is the sign of their future victory.

Leninism: higher studies on revolutionary strategies

Leninism has contributed towards Marxism enriching it in key issues of a revolutionary process:

a) the theory of imperialism;

b) genesis of opportunism;

c) theory of anti colonial struggle;

d) recovery of the Marxist theory with reference to State and the correct assessment of bourgeois democracy;

e) research on and practice of revolution and insurrection, particularly in relation to general mass strike and insurrection;

f) characterisation of the bodies of workers’ power of the soviet type;

g) application in practice of the revolutionary dictatorship of the proletariat (as a new type of democracy, the proletarian one) and the most ruthless repression of counterrevolutionary action of the bourgeoisie;

h) creation of a new type of fighting party fit for revolutionary struggle;

i) the construction of a revolutionary mass International, democratically centralised, fit to prepare the world revolution.

These are the greatest contribution to Marxism and they are the result not of the intelligence of an isolated individual but of the theoretic generalization of tested momentous events. Marxism has emerged fortified from great revolutionary combats and from the first world war as a tool for the struggle of the revolutionary proletariat against the “clerks” of the bourgeoisie inside the workers’ movement.

Lenin’s work is a landmark in history. It is the heritage the new generations can and must retrieve in order to change the world. Lenin confirmed Marxism a the scientific theory of reality, he proved the need for of a scientific theory, revolutionary Marxism, to lead the revolution.

Lenin’s method can be seen in his own words:

We have created a state of the soviet type and in this way we inaugurated a new epoch of the history of the universe, the epoch of the political domination of the proletariat that has come to substitute the epoch of the domination of the bourgeoisie”.[2]

The new generations of activists and revolutionaries who are now marching into the political battle must learn from the experience of the Bolsheviks (who led the first victorious workers’ revolution in the world) just as they learned from the defeat of the Paris Commune in 1871. In these ideological positions we can find all the historic experience of the revolutionary proletariat. These lesson, as we see are still as operational as ever.

Grey is the theory, green is the tree of life” [3]

By the end of XIX century, Russia was between two worlds, two epochs and two revolutions. Everything was changing and transitional. Russia was jammed between imperialist Europe and the colonial world; between the reformist epoch of gradual (“peaceful”) development of capitalism in its childhood and the imperialist epoch, an epoch of crises, wars and revolutions. It was between the bourgeois revolution (when bourgeoisie had forsaken its own revolution after having occupied power in the central countries and therefore it feared nothing more than the proletariat) and the proletarian revolution being born with a young, vigorous and concentrated proletariat. And all that under the boot of Tsarism, a cruel autocracy. This combination of transitional situations created a new type of party, composed of and led by revolutionaries, whose main figure was Lenin and who enriched Marxist theory defending it to the last.

The doctrine of Marx and Engels is not a dogma to be learned by heart. It must be taken as a guide for the action. This is what we have always done and I believe we have acted correctly without ever committing opportunism bout modifying our tactics”. [4]

in April1917, acting in this way, that is to say without committing dogmatisms, he confronted the “old Bolsheviks” who, in order to conciliate with the new “socialist” government emerged from the February revolution, wanted to keep on using the historic Bolshevik demand for “democratic dictatorship of workers and peasants”

Lenin responded:

Marxism demands from us a more precise analysis, objectively comparable, of the correlation of forces and concrete peculiarities of each historical moment. We, the Bolsheviks, have always tried to be faithful to this demand, doubtlessly compulsory from the point of view of any scientific fundamentals of politics… Our formula has outlived itself… the bourgeois revolution or democratic bourgeois in Russia is over. The “soviet of workers representatives” is a fact imposed by life itself for the “democratic revolutionary dictatorship of the proletariat”…. In real life things worked out differently: it has been an extraordinarily original, new and unheard way of interweaving of both things… This guideline does not fit in the old schemes. Schemes must be adapted to life…” [5]

As from there he was to study this new form of power, the soviet, and how exactly is it to be defended and in the service of what. As for the character of the revolution and its government, there is total agreement between Lenin and Trotsky around the issue of power and the contents of the “theory of the permanent revolution” according to which what was to be installed was the “dictatorship of the proletariat” with the support of the poor peasantry as a prologue to a world revolution.

That is to say, guided by the Marxist theory and – as we can see in the 55 volumes of his complete works – deeply respectful and strict with this theory, Lenin knew how to stem out of transcendental events of the moments he lived, to enrich Marxism more than anybody else has done so far.

He achieved this not only because of his own merit, that is evident, but also because he lived great actions on historic scale and it was these that allowed for the enrichment of Marxism as theory based on transformations of life and he did so fighting with all his might against the revisionists of Marxism who, even in his days, were a legion..
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Notes

1 Restoration via democratic reaction occurred in the most important countries of Eastern Europe. It was not so in China, Cuba, Korea and most of the republics of the USSR.

2 Lenin, Complete Works in Spanish, tome 44 page 435

3 Phrase pronounced by Mephistopheles, character from the tragedy Faust by J. W. Goethe

4 Lenin Complete Works, tome 37, page 233

5 Lenin, Complete Works, tome 31, page 139