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

Swami Vivekananda's views on caste and sexuality were 'painfully' regressive

By Bhaskar Sur* Swami Vivekananda now belongs more to the modern Hindu mythology than reality. It makes a daunting job to discover the real human being who knew unemployment, humiliation of losing a teaching job for 'incompetence', longed in vain for the bliss of a happy conjugal life only to suffer the consequent frustration.

How lead petitioner was rendered homeless when GM mustard matter came up in SC

By Rosamma Thomas*  On January 5, 2023, the Supreme Court stayed a December 20, 2022 direction of the Uttarakhand High Court to the Indian Railways and the district administration of Haldwani to use paramilitary forces to evict thousands of poor families occupying land that belonged to the railways.  Justice AS Oka remarked that it was not right to order the bringing in of paramilitary forces. The SC held that even those who had no rights, but were living there for years, needed to be rehabilitated. On December 21, 2022, just as she was getting ready to celebrate Christmas, researcher Aruna Rodrigues was abruptly evicted from her home in Mhow Cantonment, Madhya Pradesh – no eviction notice was served, and nearly 30 Indian Army soldiers bearing arms were part of the eviction process. What is noteworthy in this case is that the records establishing possession of the house date back to 1892 – the title deed with the name of Dr VP Cardoza, Rodrigues’ great grandfather, is dated November 14

Savarkar 'criminally betrayed' Netaji and his INA by siding with the British rulers

By Shamsul Islam* RSS-BJP rulers of India have been trying to show off as great fans of Netaji. But Indians must know what role ideological parents of today's RSS/BJP played against Netaji and Indian National Army (INA). The Hindu Mahasabha and RSS which always had prominent lawyers on their rolls made no attempt to defend the INA accused at Red Fort trials.

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".

Tax buoyancy claims when less than 4% Indian dollar millionaires pay income tax

By Prasanna Mohanty  In FY18, the last year for which disaggregated income tax data is available, only 29,002 ITRs declared income above Rs 5 crore, while Credit Suisse said India had 7.25 lakh dollar millionaires (the wealth equivalent of Rs 8 crore and above) that year. Often enough, the Centre claims that demonetization in 2016 raised tax collections, improved tax efficiency, and expanded the tax base. Now RBI Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) member Ashima Goyal has also joined their ranks, attributing the “claims” of rising tax collections in the current fiscal year to “tax buoyancy” brought by the demonetisation . Do such claims have any basis in official records? The answer is unequivocal. The budget documents show the tax-to-GDP ratio (direct plus indirect tax) increased from 10.6% in FY16 (pre-demonetization) to 11.2% in FY17, remained there in FY18 (demonetization and GST fiscals), and then fell to 9.9% in FY20. In FY22, it improved to 10.8% and is estimated to drop to 10.7% in

Gandhian unease at Mahadev Desai book launch: Sabarmati Ashram may lose free space

By Rajiv Shah  A simmering apprehension has gripped the Gandhians who continue to be trustees of the Sabarmati Ashram: the “limited freedom” to express one’s views under the Modi dispensation still available at the place which Mahatma Gandhi made his home from 1917 to 1930 may soon be taken away. Also known as Harijan Ashram, a meeting held for introducing yet-to-be-released book, “Mahadev Desai: Mahatma Gandhi's Frontline Reporter”, saw speaker and after speaker point towards “narrowing space” in Gujarat for Gandhians (as also others) to express themselves. Penned by veteran journalist Nachiketa Desai, grandson of Mahadev Desai, while the book was planned to be released on January 1 and the meeting saw several prominent personalities, including actor-director Nandita Das, her scholar-mother Varsha Das, British House of Lords member Bhikhu Parekh, among others, speak glowingly about the effort put in for bringing out the book, exchanges between speakers suggested it should be rele

Why no information with Assam state agency about female rhino poaching for a year?

By Nava Thakuria   According to official claims, incidents of poaching related to rhinoceros in various forest reserves of Assam in northeast India have decreased drastically. Brutal laws against the poachers, strengthening of ground staff inside the protected forest areas and increasing public awareness in the fringe localities of national parks and wildlife sanctuaries across the State are the reasons cited for positively impacting the mission to save the one-horned rhinos. Officials records suggest, only two rhinos were poached in Kaziranga National Park and Tiger Reserve since 1 January 2021 till date. The last incident took place probably in the last week of December 2021, as a decomposed carcass of a fully-grown (around 30 years old) female rhino was recovered inside the world-famous forest reserve next month. As the precious horn was missing, for which the gigantic animal was apparently hunted down, it could not be a natural death. Ironically, however, it was not confirmed when

Civil rights leaders allege corporate loot of resources, suppression of democratic rights

By Our Representative  Civil rights activists have alleged, quoting top intelligence officers as also multiple international forensic reports, that recent developments with regard to the Bhima Koregaon and the Citizenship Amendment Act-National Register of Citizens (CAA-NRC) cases suggest, there was "no connection between the Elgaar Parishad event and the Bhima Koregaon violence." Activists of the Campaign Against State Repression (CASR) told a media event at the HKS Surjeet Bhawan, New Delhi, that, despite this, several political prisoners continue to be behind bars on being accused under the anti-terror the draconian Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act. Addressed by family members of the political prisoners, academics, as well as social activists, it was highlighted how cases were sought to be fabricated against progressive individuals, democratic activists and intellectuals, who spoke out against "corporate loot of Indian resources, suppression of basic democratic

Kerala natural rubber producers 'squeezed', attend to their plight: Govt of India told

By Rosamma Thomas   Babu Joseph, general secretary of the National Federation of Rubber Producers Societies (NFRPS) at a recent discussion at Mahatma Gandhi University, Kottayam, explained that it is high time the Union government paid greater heed to the troubles plaguing the rubber production sector in India – rubber is a strategic product, important for the military establishment and for industry, since natural rubber is still used in the manufacture of tyres for large vehicles and aeroplanes. Synthetic rubber is now quite widespread, but styrene, which is used in making synthetic rubber and plastics, and also butadiene, another major constituent of synthetic rubber, are both hazardous. Prolonged exposure to these even in recycled rubber can cause neurological damage. Kerala produces the bulk of India’s natural rubber. In 2019-20, Kerala’s share in the national production of rubber was over 74%. Over 20% of the gross cropped area in the state is under rubber cultivation, with total

Bangladesh 'rights violations': US softens stance, fears increased clout of China, India

By Tilottama Rani Charulata*  In December 2021, in addition to the Rapid Action Battalion (RAB), the United States imposed sanctions on seven former and current officers of the force, alleging serious human rights violations. Benazir Ahmed and former RAB-7 commander Miftah Uddin Ahmed were banned from entering the US. RAB as an institution was also canceled the support it was getting from the US and its allies. At the same time, those under the ban have been notified of confiscation of assets held abroad. The anti-crime and anti-terrorism unit of the Bangladesh Police, RAB is the elite force consisting of members of the Bangladesh Army, Bangladesh Police, Bangladesh Navy, Bangladesh Air Force, Border Guard Bangladesh, Bangladesh Civil Service and Bangladesh Ansar, and has been criticized by rights groups for its use of extrajudicial killings and is accused of forced disappearances. The government of Bangladesh has been insisting about lifting the ban on RAB, but the US had till recen