Skip to main content

Lenin believed Marxism arose outside working class, had to be taken to proletarian homes

By Harsh Thakor* 

On April 22 we rejoiced the 152nd birthday of a person who shaped the fate of history in the 20th century more than anyone else. Vladimir Ilych Lenin defined a new epoch in the history of mankind by discovering the concept of imperialism, even as he pioneered the first ever socialist revolution in history.
Lenin interpreted Karl Marx, developing Marxism to formulate new tactics and strategy for the world proletarian revolution. He formed the Bolshevik Party, which had no precedent in history. Despite Stalin, who suppressed dissent, the socialist state remained intact because of the firm grasp of Leninist ideology.
The mastery of Lenin's teachings influenced Ho Chi Minh who the won war against French and American imperialism. His colonial thesis paved the path for the Third Communist International inspiring anti-colonial struggles across the world. Among the non-Communists who accepted Lenin’s ideas included Bhagat Singh.
Leninism is not classical Marxism but Marxism as relevant to Russia and to the state of the world in his era. Unlike Marx, Lenin thought socialism could not be built in a traditional bourgeois democratic structure. The achievements that occurred in the transformation of Russia into USSR in Lenin's life time were all-encompassing – collective agriculture, workers’ control over industries, education, electricity, housing, health medicine and employment.
Today there is a tendency to wedge a demarcation between Leninism and Marxism. One of them is Bernard de Mello, who blames Lenin for bureaucratization of the Soviets.

Lenin’s works

Confronting the Menshevik trend, in 1904 in the book ‘One Step Forward, Two Steps Back’, he made a detailed study of intra-party struggle, coming up with organizational guidelines for the Bolshevik Party. The circulation of the book enabled the majority of the local organization of the party to rally around it.
In July 1905 Lenin, through ‘Two Tactics of Social Democracy in the Democratic Revolution’, illustrated the Bolshevik tactics in order to criticise the Mensheviks, who wished the working class to support the bourgeoisie to overthrow autocracy. He also opposed Mensheviks, who rejected the revolutionary role of the peasantry and the vanguard role of the working class.
Lenin's "What is to be Done", written in 1902, points out that at the roots the economists’ right-opportunism is worshipping spontaneous movements and undermining the role of socialist consciousness. Lenin countered them saying that a socialist understanding of the world, or Marxism, arose outside the working class and had to be taken to the proletarian homes.
Lenin confronted the economists’ tendency stating that trade unions are a necessity, but the problem of economists was their approach to trade unions was guided by economic determinism. They rejected politics of overthrowing the Czar or establishing dictatorship of the proletariat or workers’ rule, and instead merely demanded protective measures or legal rights for labour.
Lenin’s 'Materialism and Empirio-Criticism’, written in 1909 to defend Marxist dialectical materialism, sought to counter subjectivist idealism which systematically reduces science to empiricism. It refutes bourgeois subjectivists who invoked empiricism and science which distort objective reality and inner contradictions of problematic social phenomena.
To quote Filipino Marxist Joma Sison: 
“Lenin advanced our understanding of dialectical materialism by identifying the unity of opposites as the most fundamental among the laws of contradiction at work in society and nature and in the social and natural sciences. The simple expression of this is to divide one into two. One should not be dumbfounded by anything whole that is impressive or sacralized.
"Anything whole in the real world can be dissected, analyzed and critiqued. At the same time, anything that appears static, or anything that apparently emerges randomly from chaos, can be deeply understood in the movement of opposites that lurk within it. With his consciousness of the unity of opposites, Lenin was sharp and profound in his examination and analysis of events and issues in society and on both revolutionary and counterrevolution sides.”
The work has relevance today with the rise of post-modernist trends of Alan Badiou, Zizek and others who represent the New Left. It hits such tendencies in their very backyard which are idealist in essence.
Lenin's most significant contribution was ‘Imperialism the Highest Stage of Capitalism’, which he wrote in 1916. It virtually elevated Marx's theory of capitalism to a higher plane. In his another major work, 'State and Revolution', published in 1918, Lenin defined the bourgeois state and how any multiple party bourgeois democratic system was in essence a dictatorship of the bourgeoisie.
In ‘State and Revolution’, Lenin summed up the oppressive or authoritative nature of the bourgeois state whose machinery is always aligned with the oppressor classes. Lenin refuted the Bukharinist view of the state immediately withering away after the revolution, dismissing it as an idealist view. Lenin insisted on alternative state machinery.
His ‘Left-Wing Communism, an Infantile Disorder’ sought to correct the ‘leftist’ errors prevalent in many parties who joined the Communist International. He prepared ‘Theses on the National and Colonial Question’, a document which laid the theoretical foundations for understanding and leading the national liberation struggles then gathering momentum in all the colonies and semi-colonies.
Today with sharpened imperialist contention worldwide, the Leninist theory of imperialism is all the more relevant. Even as neo-colonialism is prevalent, the contradiction of oppressed nations with oppressor countries of imperialism has sharpened.
In the context of Russia’s attack on Ukraine, Lenin’s imperialism thesis is most timely which enables us to adjudicate Russia as an imperialist power. The worst economic crisis in the world, including in the imperialist countries, accentuated by Covid-19, is testimony to the accuracy of Lenin's views.
However, there is a setback: economic tendencies have penetrated the working class movement more deeply than a century ago. There are examples of genuine working class struggles being diffused. These range from the British coal miners’ strike in 1984 and French transport workers’ strike to Mumbai mill workers’ in 1982, the Kanoria Jute Mill workers’ strike in West Bengal, Chhattisgarh mine workers’ strike and Maruti workers’ strike.
---
*Freelance journalist

Comments

TRENDING

'Halt Covid-19 vaccination drive': Indian doctors join campaign across 36 nations

By Rosamma Thomas*  A group of Spanish doctors first got together to call for a halt to the Covid-19 vaccinations, and doctors from other countries too later joined them – there are now over 12,000 doctors from India, Portugal, Canada, Hungary, South Africa, Israel and a host of other nations who have issued a call to halt vaccinations. On September 10, a group of Indian doctors came together to address the press over a webinar to explain why they thought the vaccination drive should end forthwith. Dr Amitav Banerjee, who after a career as an epidemiologist in the Indian Army now teaches at a private medical college in Pune, said there was no longer a medical emergency. Children are at low risk of infection, and there is good reason to halt vaccination and conduct proper research, given the high number of adverse events. There is a sudden and poorly explained spike in the number of young and healthy people dying. While it may be impossible to attribute deaths entirely to the vaccinatio

Did Mother Teresa trivialise poverty? 'You are suffering, that means Jesus is kissing you'

By Harsh Thakor*  The world commemorated the 25th death anniversary of Mother Teresa on September 5. Whatever her flaws, she rendered service to humanity in regions almost untranscended, resembling the relentless spirit of the waves of an ocean. Irrespective of community or religion, she offered her service. Even those not drawn by sainthood revere the role of Mother Teresa. For 68 years, she had worked selflessly and tirelessly in India and elsewhere in the world, taught the destitute, healed the sick, fed and clothed the poor, cared for abandoned children, housed lepers and those afflicted with HIV/AIDS and offered dignity in death to desolate persons abandoned by family and society. Mother Teresa was born in Skopje in 1910 to an Albanian family as Anjezë Gonxhe Bojaxhiu. She became wedded to religious vows at an early age and moved to India to join the missionary work of the Catholic Church. Heartshaken by the misery faced by the Indian masses, in 1950 she set up her own

Tracing roots of Hindutva Zionism: cannon fodder for 'warped' nationalist pretensions

By Shamsul Islam*  Those who believe in a world free of hegemonic ethno-nationalism, racism, religious bigotry and hatred have rightly taken note of Zionism and its ally Christian Zionism, major perpetrators of ethnic cleansing of ‘Others’. However, the civilized world with its core belief in multi-culturalism and peaceful co-existence is oblivious to a no less dangerous threat to the present human civilization: the Hindutva Zionism. As the term reads it is part of the Hindutva world-view which stands for an exclusive Hindu India minus Muslims and Christians. The other religions like Sikhism, Buddhism, and Jainism will have no independent status but treated as part of Hinduism. The Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS; National Volunteer Organization) is the most prominent flag-bearer of the Hindutva politics whose cadres presently rule India, the largest democracy in the world. RSS was founded by Keshav Baliram Hedgewar (1889-1940) in 1925 who was disillusioned with the Indian freedom st

Regional parties, anti-Congress progressives, civil society groups 'joining' Bharat Jodo

By Harshavardhan Purandare, Sandeep Pandey*  The Congress party declared Bharat Chhodo (Quit India) movement against the British regime in 1942. The Congress party has now launched a movement Bharat Jodo (Connecting and Uniting India) against the Modi regime in 2022. Indian people have had a journey of 80 years since Mahatma Gandhi gave that Quit India call to the British and we have to agree that we stand most divided in our modern history when Rahul Gandhi is giving this Bharat Jodo call to the nation. And back then, Congress was a thriving idealistic political movement against the British rulers and now it is an ever weakening political organization electorally defeated several times. However, it is India at stake, not just the Congress party. That is why so many regional political parties, civil society organizations, traditional anti-Congress progressive forces like socialists and communists, intellectuals and civil servants have declared their support and are proactively partici

Shocking? No Covid vaccine trials conducted on pregnant, lactating women: RTI reply

By Rosamma Thomas*  A Right to Information applicant who sought details of safety trials conducted in India on pregnant and lactating women for three Covid vaccines in use in India – Covishield, Covaxin and ZyCov-D -- was shocked to learn from the Central Drugs Standard Control Organization (CDSCO) that Serum Institute, manufacturer of Covishield, and Cadila Healthcare, manufacturer of the ZyCov-D vaccine, had not sought permission for such trials.  Bharat Biotech, manufacturer of Covaxin, had sought permission for trial on pregnant women and later withdrawn its application. This response , provided after the applicant was initially unsatisfied with the response and went in appeal, is from the joint drugs controller, CDSCO. It was dated September 13, 2022. One researcher closely following the vaccine rollout, however, is of the opinion that the lack of a trial on pregnant and lactating women is a blessing; potential trial participants and their unborn babies thus escaped harm. Aruna Ro

Grave error? Scholar blames ex-Gujarat babu for anti-Christian riots 'citing fake report'

By Rajiv Shah  A few days back, I received a message from one of the finest former Gujarat government bureaucrats, PG Ramrakhiani, a 1964 batch IAS official, who retired in November 2000. I would often interact with him in 1997-99, even later, after I was sent to Gandhinagar as a Times of India man to cover Sachivalaya. Those were turbulent times. Shankarsinh Vaghela was the Gujarat chief minister, under attack from two sides – from the BJP, which he had left to form a separate breakaway party, Rashtriya Janata Party (RJP), one one hand, and the Congress, which was supporting him from outside, on the other. Ramrakhiani, in his message, referred to the book authored by Ghanshyam Shah and Jan Breman, both top-notch scholars who have known Gujarat in and out. Called “Gujarat, Cradle and Harbinger of Identity Politics: India’s Injurious Frame of Communalism”, I reviewed the book in January 2022.  It claims that Muslims in Gujarat have been turned into “new untouchables”, thanks to the Hin

Excess to cheetah in Kuno to increase 'woes' of local people, 'disturb' wildlife balance

Bharat Dogra*  The release of eight cheetahs into the Kuno National Park ( Madhya Pradesh) by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on September 17, although accompanied by a media blitz, has raised several questions. The animals were flown from Namibia to Gwalior and from there they were taken to the release site in a helicopter. Official sources have stated that this is the first time a large carnivorous species has been moved across continents for establishing a new population. This first release will be followed by others under this project. However, precisely for this reason, it is important to be cautious because if such translocations have been generally avoided in the past, there may have been reasons for this and at the same time we do not have much learning experiences from the past. The Cheetah became extinct in India in 1952, although this very fast moving animal is still remembered in the folklore of many areas. Hence the first impulse is to say that trying to introduce and revive

Buddhist shrines were 'massively destroyed' by Brahmanical rulers: Historian DN Jha

Nalanda mahavihara By Our Representative Prominent historian DN Jha, an expert in India's ancient and medieval past, in his new book , "Against the Grain: Notes on Identity, Intolerance and History", in a sharp critique of "Hindutva ideologues", who look at the ancient period of Indian history as "a golden age marked by social harmony, devoid of any religious violence", has said, "Demolition and desecration of rival religious establishments, and the appropriation of their idols, was not uncommon in India before the advent of Islam".

Introducing non-native cheetahs is 'not equivalent' to restoring pride in the nation

By Bappaditya Mukhopadhyay*  The Cheetahs from the African continent has finally been introduced to India by the Indian Prime Minister on his 72nd birthday. The process had started with the previous Government in 2009. However, the Supreme Court clearance was pending owing to the objection by the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) plea to reintroduce cheetahs. Finally the clearance was obtained in January 2020 and thereafter Kuno National Park (KNP) was chosen for the reintroduction of first set of Southeast African Cheetahs. In the near future, depending upon the success story of the current reintroduction, more cheetahs from South Africa may also be introduced. This exercise has generated a lot of interest among various stakeholders with opinions on both sides galore. It is important to pose some questions that surround the whole exercise. Let us evaluate some of these arguments. The first set of arguments are quite detached from the issues of conservation as they most

'Military diplomacy': US praises Bangladesh Army for leadership role in UN operations

By Kamal Uddin Mazumder* As the Indo-Pacific region represents the world’s economic and strategic center of gravity, the Indian Ocean today is becoming the centerpiece of all geo-strategic play. Cooperation in the region is crucial to implementing the international community’s global agenda, including achieving the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. Major powers like the US have enhanced and deepened their strategic engagement and leadership roles with countries in the region. The Indo-Pacific Army Management Seminar, or IPAMS, is a U.S. Army Pacific (USARPAC) initiated conference that is aimed at facilitating and enhancing interactions among the armies of the Indo-Pacific region. This year's 46th Indo-Pacific Armies Management Seminar (IPAMS)-2022, co-hosted by the Bangladesh Army and US Army Pacific (USARPAC), concluded in Dhaka. The objective of IPAMS is to promote peace and stability in the region through mutual understanding, dialogue, and friendship. It is the largest confer