100th anniversary Lenin’s Death: Stand on the shoulders of revolutionary giant

03 February 2024 345 hits

January 21, 2024 is the 100th anniversary of the death of the great revolutionary Vladimir Ilich Ulyanov. “Lenin” was his revolutionary name. He dedicated his life to the exploited and oppressed of the world: workers, peasants, women, and those especially exploited by colonialism and racism. He dedicated his life to the destruction of capitalism and the establishment of an egalitarian world without racism and sexism. As capitalism ravages the world with wars (see editorial, page 2), let us all make a contribution to the fight for communism.

Lenin: a trailblazer for communist thought
Lenin represented a whole movement, and an entire historical epoch. He did nothing by himself. At the same time, he pushed the working-class struggle for communism ahead by his tireless efforts.
Lenin, one of the giants, along with Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, are trailblazers of communist thought. They exposed the basic contradictions between capitalism and the working class. We still have a great deal to learn from them.

Other great revolutionaries have come from the working class. Stalin was one of these. Lenin, like Marx and Mao Zedong, came from the petty bourgeoisie. They showed that, in the last analysis, what counts for every individual is not birth but his or her ideology, and what he or she decides to dedicate their lives to.
Like Marx and Engels, his great teachers and models, Lenin dedicated his life to the exploited and oppressed of the world. To the working class first of all, but also the peasantry and those super-exploited by colonialism and racism. He was a brilliant and innovative student of Marx and Engels.

Lenin: theory & practice
Lenin was a great revolutionary theorist. In his early work "What Is To Be Done? " he laid out and fought for the principle: “Without revolutionary theory there can be no revolutionary movement.” By revolutionary theory, he meant the need to expose opportunism, reformism, ultra-leftism, and all ideas that opposed the complete abolition of capitalism and the need for violent revolution to do it.

Lenin invented the concept of the revolutionary party composed of what he called “professional revolutionaries” – workers and others who were devoted to revolution, not to reforming capitalism. This was completely different from the other parties in the Socialist International (the “Second International”). Most of their members were in trade unions. Lenin showed that unions, which are designed to fight for reforms under capitalism, cannot be converted into revolutionary organizations.

But, under the leadership of a revolutionary communist party, unionized workers can be schooled in struggle by strikes, including mass strikes. At the same time, these struggles will show in practice how capitalism cannot be reformed to serve the interests of workers but must be overthrown.

Lenin showed that the revolutionary communist party must be primarily clandestine, illegal. Its legal activities, though important as long as they are permitted by the ruling class, can never be its main form.
Lenin advanced our understanding of imperialism, which he called the “highest stage of capitalism.” Imperialism is the control by multinational corporations in the major industrialized countries, whether by military force, financial control, or ownership, of most of the land and people in the world.

Leading the world
In Lenin’s time this control was mainly through actual colonies, where the ruling classes of the imperialist countries ruled and exploited “their” colonies directly. The competition between these imperialist countries – the USA, the UK, France, Germany, Belgium, Holland, Spain, Italy, and Japan – led to both the First and Second World Wars, and to many other wars since.

Under Lenin’s leadership the Soviet Union formed the Communist International (Comintern), which trained and organized workers and others from all the colonies in the world to fight for both national independence and then for socialism. This was both successful in winning national independence – there are virtually no more traditional “colonies” ruled directly by imperialist countries – and spectacularly unsuccessful, in that national independence did not lead to communism.

The implications of the revolutionary opposition to imperialism were deeply anti-racist. Lenin’s anti-imperialism helped to inspire millions of the globe's darker-skinned peoples to rise up in rebellion against their colonial "masters."

We need to appreciate his revolutionary imagination—seeing that, given the alignment of forces, it was necessary to take a leap into the future—since otherwise the transition might never take place. We in PLP need to keep that constantly before us: no matter how bleak things may appear today, they will change. The future is ours but only if we stick by our revolutionary line and actions as Lenin did and as he taught us to do.
We should study Lenin’s works — critically, of course. But respectfully too since we have much to learn.
We, and class-conscious workers, intellectuals, students, and others everywhere, owe him an immense debt. The best way to acknowledge that debt is by working for communist revolution the best we can.