The teachings of Lenin are extremely relevant today
April 22 is the birth anniversary of V.I. Lenin, the great revolutionary leader and teacher of the working class. Developments in India and all over the world reaffirm the extreme importance and relevance of his fundamental teachings today.
Lenin established in his brilliant work of theory, “Imperialism, the Highest Stage of Capitalism”, that at the end of the nineteenth century, the world had entered a new epoch. He analysed that capitalism had entered its last stage, that of imperialism, or moribund capitalism. This is the epoch of imperialism and proletarian revolution. It is the epoch when the fundamental contradiction in the world is between capitalism and socialism.
Present day developments reaffirm that capitalism will keep driving human society from one crisis into another. It will continue to wreak havoc on humankind, unless the working class leads all the exploited and oppressed in overthrowing this man-eating capitalist system and replacing it with socialism.
The major capitalist economies of the world are caught in severe and prolonged recession. They are shifting the burden of the economic crisis on to the backs of the working class and people, through rising unemployment, skyrocketing prices, "austerity measures", and cut-backs in social spending. The imperialist powers, led by the US, are blatantly violating the sovereignty of nations and peoples. They have launched brutal wars of aggression and occupation as in Afghanistan and Iraq. They are actively financing and encouraging various forces to create political instability in other countries, as in Syria, Venezuela and Ukraine, in order to carry out "regime change". They are trying to establish their monopoly control over markets and resources all over the world. The course pursued by the US and other imperialists threatens to plunge the world into a new world war.
The contradictions between the exploiters and exploited in capitalist countries, between imperialism and the oppressed peoples and nations, as well as inter imperialist contradictions are sharpening. The times are calling upon the communist parties in all countries to prepare the working class to carry out the proletarian revolution and the transformation from capitalism to socialism.
Karl Marx and Frederick Engels, the founders of scientific socialism, had concluded through scientific analysis of the development of human society that the proletariat will be the grave digger of capitalism. It is the class that will usher in socialism and communism, a classless society. Lenin defended and applied these teachings to further develop the theory of Marxism in the conditions of imperialism.
Lenin showed that imperialism is a stage when the major contradictions of the capitalist system would inevitably sharpen. He identified these major contradictions as that between capital and labour, between the imperialist powers and the oppressed nations and peoples, and among the imperialist powers. He discovered the law of uneven economic and political development of capitalist countries. This would inevitably lead to the weakening of the world imperialist system as a whole, making it possible for proletarian revolution to succeed where the chain of imperialism is the weakest. He concluded that it is possible to build socialism in one country to begin with, provided the working class forges an alliance with the toiling masses of peasants and with the nations and peoples oppressed by imperialism.
The successful construction of socialism in the Soviet Union was a powerful vindication of these teachings. For the first time, the political power of the exploiting class was eliminated and replaced, not by that of another exploiting class, but by the power of the hitherto exploited classes, led by the proletariat. This was carried out while successfully leading the struggle against the combined attempts of the major imperialist powers and overthrown reactionaries to crush the revolution through armed intervention, as well as through internal subversion. The new Soviet state became the bastion of revolution and socialism on the world scale.
The key to the victory of the proletarian revolution is the leadership of the party of the working class, the Leninist party with monolithic unity in its ranks. Lenin played a decisive role in establishing the Russian Communist Party as such a party, which based all its work on the most advanced science of revolution.
Lenin waged a stern ideological struggle against those who were bowing down to the lowest level of consciousness in the working class, who wanted the party to be a loose association of like-minded members. He pointed out that it was not enough for party members to agree with the party program and pay regular dues; they would also have to work under the discipline of a party organisation. Without that, the party could never achieve the monolithic unity needed to lead the working class to defeat the bourgeoisie.
Lenin established democratic centralism – collective decision making and individual responsibility – as the organisational principle of the communist party. It is this principle which allows for maximum participation and initiative of the individual members while always preserving and strengthening the unity of the party.
Lenin waged a fierce struggle to defend the fundamental principles of Marxism against distortions which threatened to weaken the revolutionary movement. One such distortion is that the working class can use the bourgeois state apparatus to serve its own interests. Lenin upheld the fundamental thesis of Marx and Engels that it is necessary for the proletariat to smash the bourgeois state apparatus and replace it with an entirely new state apparatus in the service of the working class. He elaborated the theory and tactics of the dictatorship of the proletariat, the principal instrument for the elimination of capitalism and its replacement by socialism.
The bourgeoisie tries to discredit the teachings of Lenin by pointing to the disintegration of the Soviet Union in 1990-91. However, the truth is that it is precisely the abandonment of Lenin’s teachings that led to the degeneration and disintegration of the Soviet Union.
The Khrushchevites, who seized power in the Bolshevik Party of the Soviet Union after the death of Stalin, achieved what the imperialists had not been able to achieve through brutal aggression. They revised the teachings of Lenin on the Party, on imperialism, on the proletarian revolution, on the dictatorship of the proletariat and on the construction of socialism.
In place of the dictatorship of the proletariat as the proletarian power in which the working people begin to govern themselves, the Khrushchevites declared that the Soviet state had become a "state of the whole people". Instead of improving the quality of communists and the proletarian revolutionary character of the Communist Party on a continuous basis, they preached that the class struggle had ended and the party had become a "party of the whole people". They preached "peaceful coexistence" with imperialism as the line of the international communist movement. They preached that it was possible for newly independent countries such as India to go over from capitalism to socialism through peaceful and parliamentary means.
The Khrushchevites took no measures to deal with the real problems that confronted the theory of Marxism Leninism as a result of abrupt changes in the conditions of life, especially in the sphere of economy and politics. In the sphere of economic theory, there was a need to put the role of the working people in the first place in determining everything in the realm of production, including distribution. In the sphere of political theory, there was a need to revolutionise the political mechanism so that people could directly participate in governing themselves. In the sphere of philosophy, it was required that the role of dialectical philosophy be brought forth right into the center of socialist life with the human factor and consciousness playing the leading role in all developments.
In the absence of addressing these problems, socialism began to mark time in the Soviet Union, paving the way for capitalist exploitation to be restored. The Soviet Union was transformed from a bastion of revolution and socialism into a social-imperialist state, colluding and contending with US imperialism for world domination. The collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 and open restoration of capitalism was a culmination of the counter-revolutionary course pursued by the Khrushchevite leadership and its successors.
Communist Ghadar Party has staunchly defended the fundamental teachings of Lenin, against all attempts to distort them and turn them into something harmless to the bourgeoisie. We have steadfastly opposed all attempts to create illusions in the working class that proletarian revolution is either not possible or not necessary at this time. We fight against the illusion that some so-called progressive section of the bourgeoisie can lead the struggle for democratization of our society.
An important teaching of Lenin concerns the way communists must deal with religious beliefs among the working people. In a pamphlet called “Socialism and Religion”, Lenin wrote that “Under no circumstances ought we to fall into the error of posing the religious question in an abstract, idealist fashion, as an ‘intellectual’ question unconnected with the class struggle ... It would be stupid to think that, in a society based on the endless oppression of the working masses, religious prejudices could be dispelled by purely propaganda methods. It would be bourgeois narrow-mindedness to forget that the yoke of religion that weighs upon mankind is merely a product and reflection of the economic yoke within society. No number of pamphlets and no amount of preaching can enlighten the proletariat, if it is not enlightened by its own struggle against the dark forces of capitalism. Unity in this really revolutionary struggle of the oppressed class for the creation of a paradise on earth is more important to us than unity of proletarian opinion on paradise in heaven”.
Those in the Indian communist movement who are presenting secularism versus communalism as the main and most immediate struggle are committing precisely the error against which Comrade Lenin warned. They are blocking the road to political unity of the working class, peasantry and all the oppressed, by posing the religious question as an ‘intellectual’ question unconnected with the class struggle.
The erroneous notion that the Indian State has secular foundations acts as a roadblock to the struggle of the working class and oppressed masses to end communalism through the revolution against capitalism and everything backward in Indian society. It fosters the illusion that we can rely on the present day Indian State for achieving these objectives.
Lenin taught that communists must not “debase our revolutionary science through dogma, to the level of mere book dogma”. Those who have reduced revolutionary theory to a set of finished formulas have caused serious harm to the communist movement in our country.
CGPI believes that the need of the hour is to restore the unity of communists, shunning all forms of sectarianism and dogmatism, and by developing revolutionary theory to serve the class struggle in our country today, as Lenin did in his time.
On this occasion of the 144th birth anniversary of V.I.Lenin, our party reaffirms its commitment to defend the fundamental principles and conclusions of Marxism-Leninism and prepare the working class to establish its own rule in alliance with the toiling peasantry. This is the essential condition for ending the parasitic rule of the bourgeoisie and ushering in a bright future for the toiling masses.