Tue Jul 23, 2024
July 23, 2024

88 Years Without Lenin: The Workers’ Movement Is Naturally International

The Bolshevik party was born as part of “only one entity”, the II International. In 1902 Lenin wrote:

“Social democratic movement is naturally international… That means also that a budding movement in a young country can develop successfully provided it can put into use the experience of other countries…”1

Right from the start of the revolution the Bolsheviks had no doubt that it was an introduction to a European and world revolution, that without victory of the proletariat in the imperialist countries, the USSR was doomed to fail.

“There is no doubt that the socialist revolution in Europe must and will break out. All our hopes for a definite victory of socialism are founded precisely on this self-confidence and on this scientific premise.” “…it is understood the salvation (of the Russian revolution) is only possible following the footsteps of the international socialist revolution that we have undertaken.”2 Workers’ movements were born international. The founding of the I International took place before the foundation of national parties. The International Workers’ Association “has laid the foundations for the building of the world socialist republic…” It prepared the basis for a Marxist vision of the world and spawned the ideological conditions for the construction of great national parties.

{module Propaganda 30 anos – MORAL}With the II International the great mass national parties were formed. The II International capitulated to the nationalism of each one of its parties. The II International did not challenge the national pressures that its parties suffered and they adapted to the “peaceful” epoch and legal activity in parliament and trade unions (reforming the system) and capitulated to their respective national bourgeoisie at war and called on workers of “their” fatherland to kill their class brothers from abroad, thus breaking the precept of the Communist Manifesto that says “workers have no fatherland”.

“It would be a harmful illusion to trust in the reconstruction of a real socialist International without getting rid of the opportunists who are in the organization”.3

In April 1917, before power was seized, he said: “We (the Bolsheviks) are compelled now, without further delay, to found a new International, revolutionary and proletarian…” C.W. tome 32 page 187. “The situation of our party facing all the other workers’ parties in the world is such today that it is our duty to found the III International immediately. Apart from ourselves, nobody else can do it now and delays are harmful,” 4

The III International was to be founded in 1919 as a dialectic overcoming of the II International: it had several national mass parties and a democratically centralized International.

The democratic centralization of the International was a logical consequence of the development of the struggle against “nationalist” opportunists.

For example: Lenin overtly defended – even against the traditions of the II International – the centralized character of the guidelines, including fundamental tactics, such as the compulsory participation of communists in trade unions or parliaments, in the discussion with the English. And they used to say that not to so i.e. to let everyone do what they wanted was to “imitate the worst defects of the II International.”

“In my opinion, the Executive Committee of the III International should explicitly condemn non-participation and propose that the forthcoming Congress of the Communist International should condemn any policy of non-participation in reactionary trade unions (he spoke at length regarding all the reasons for why non-participation was senseless and of the serious damage to the proletarian cause that such attitude would produce). And particularly with regards to the line of behaviour of members of the Dutch Communist Party, who – directly or indirectly, implicitly or explicitly, in general or in particular have supported this erroneous policy. The III International must give up the approach of the Second and not evade shocking issues, not conceal them but to pose them sharply. We have told the “independent” (Social Democratic Independent Party of Germany) the truth; in the same way we must tell the “left-wing” communists the truth”… “To disregard that experience and, simultaneously pretend to belong to the Communist International, who must work out its tactic internationally (not a narrow, strictly national, but precisely an international tactic) means committing the worst of errors and steer precisely away from internationalism, even if the latter is proclaimed orally.”5

The Third Congress of the Communist International defined the conditions for admission to the International. The twenty-first conditions: “members of the Party who reject on principle the conditions and the thesis formulated by the Communist International should be expelled from the Party…”6

The great historic lesson to be drawn from the construction of national parties can be summed up as follows; in the epoch of imperialism and within national boundaries, there is no way of facing up to the violent pressures of the bourgeoisie and imperialism. It is necessary to learn from the failures of the II and III Internationals, whose main parties succumbed to nationalism.

“The universal historic importance of the III International, the Communist International, consists in the fact that it has begun putting into practice the most important claim that summarises the age-old development of socialism and of the workers’ movement; it is the claim expressed in this concept: dictatorship of the proletariat.” 7

The degeneration of the III International was the result of a “nationalist” degeneration, the theory of which was “socialism in only one country”. It was this opportunist deviation what led the Communist International, dissolved by Stalin in 1943, precisely when there was a possibility of seizing power in the whole world, particularly in Europe. It was then that Stalinism put a brake on the European revolution, retained half Germany and erected the Berlin wall.

The IV International emerged in defence of the III International (the first 4 congresses, under the leadership of Lenin) that summarises all the revolutionary experience since the launching of the Communist manifesto in 1948, incorporating new lessons to be learned from the bureaucratisation of the first Workers’ States in history.

Today there is a strengthening of Trotskyism in the entire world: in Argentina, Brazil, Europe, USA, etc.; in the World Social Forum or in the anti-war struggle. Globalisation highlights the need for a centralised international. The USec is driving the wrong way up the road, abandoning the international centralisation and yielding to bourgeois pressures that lead to the destruction of any workers’ international. They have reached the shameful situation of having a militant for their Brazilian section (Social Democracy) as a minister in the bourgeois Lula administration and his national leadership is doing nothing about it. They are powerless in the face of such an event as they fear a division and a split away from their rightward wing.

The only way to defend revolutionary Marxist heritage is to have a democratically centralised international which can oppose the “national” pressure which the USec and other revolutionary Marxist organizations suffer at present.  A sick man on his deathbed initially rejects the medicine because it appears too bitter and “old fashioned” according to bourgeois public opinion.

History lessons (and the current lessons in Brazil) prove that there is no chance of building a revolutionary party unless it is part of a democratically centralised proletarian international. This is the lesson that Leninism crystallised in the III International and was retrieved by Trotsky in the founding of the IV International.

To forsake Leninism is to forsake Marxism

“Marxism has found its greatest historic expression in Bolshevism. Under the banners of Bolshevism, the proletariat has reached its first victory and founded the first workers state. No force on earth can sweep this historic feat away.” 8

Leninism is Marxism in times of wars and revolutions. To forsake Leninism is to forsake Marxism.

There is no “pure” Marxism. It is impossible to return to 1848, to the launching of the Communist Manifesto and skipping Leninism, for the latter is the continuation of the former, made greater because of the experience of the new events that changed the world: imperialism, wars, etc.

It is impossible to toss away the I International and “freeze” time because it is impossible to return to a capitalism without monopolies, of liberalism. We must see the ugly face of imperialism just as it is. Opportunism exists and so does Stalinism, degeneration of the Bureaucratic Workers’ States, wars and revolutions and we, the revolutionary Marxists, are compelled to build those mass revolutionary parties and a mass international starting from the reality that exists. Only that can ensure revolutionary action if we wish to put an end to the misery of workers and of mankind, which is suffering and will suffer a great deal more with the death rattle of imperialism.

“Dogmatic trends”, “petrified sectarians” these are some of the epithets that the leaders of USec hold for revolutionary militants who have not given up Leninist and Trotskyist heritage. It is easy to bully and criticise “a handful of sectarians”. History has proved repeatedly that a “handful” of revolutionaries faithful to Marxism, if properly oriented in consensus with the course of events, may become millions. Social democracy was millions and bolshevism was several thousand. Stalinism subdued the world movement of workers, with millions of experts across the world, by means of a thousand handcuffs. But Trotsky’s maxim was proved right: a correct idea is more powerful than any apparatus no matter how big. We all want to be “many”, to have mass parties and a mass International; nobody wants to be a “sect.” We can achieve it without changing the principles of Marxism for 30 pieces of gold. Those who do not know how to remain faithful while awaiting their turn will not be ready to use it to change the world when the time comes.


1 Lenin, C.W. Tome 6 page 26
2 Lenin, C.W. tome 36 page 84
3 Lenin, C.W. tome 26 page 172
4 Lenin, C.W. tome 31 page 196
5 Lenin, Leftism childhood illness of communism
6 quoted by Lenin in his C.W. tome 43 page 445
7 Lenin, C.W. tome 38, page 323
8 L. Trotsky in Bolshevism and Stalinism


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