Lenin was the foremost exponent of Marxism of his generation whose leadership was decisive in the success of the Russian Revolution. This was made possible by the development of a theoretical outlook which informed the anti-imperialist wing of the socialist movement which subsequently became the worldwide communist movement.
By Brian Williams
The analysis of Marxism concludes that the interests of humanity as a whole coincide with those of the working class – i.e. the advance of the working class takes forward the general interests of humanity, including all of its oppressed layers, while setbacks for the working class roll back the interests of humanity. This therefore determines the attitude to all political forces. Those who take forward the interests of the working class take humanity forward, those who set back the working class set back the general interests of humanity including its oppressed layers. Nothing more clearly illustrates this reality than the history of the 20th century, above all the victory and then defeat of the Russian revolution, and the events following this in the 21st century.
By Alan Davies
Lenin emphasised that it is a fundamental error to conceive of the class struggle as between the working class of one country and the capitalist class of that country – of the British working class against British capitalism, of the French working class against the French capitalists, etc. Instead, Lenin noted: ‘The socialist revolution will not be solely or chiefly, a struggle of the revolutionary proletarians in each country against their own bourgeoisie – no, it will be a struggle of all the imperialist-oppressed colonies and countries, of all dependent countries, against international imperialism’ (Lenin V. I., 22 November 1919). Lenin’s point continually needs understanding and emphasising, particularly in imperialist countries.1
The political current Counterfire, which has its origins in the SWP, has chosen to produce as one of its first publications Capitalism and Class Consciousness: the ideas of Georg Lukács by Chris Nineham (Nineham, 2010). Such a choice is highly interesting in placing theoretical concepts developed by Lukács in the early 1920s as a basis for the approach of Counterfire. These concepts were specifically rejected by Lenin in very strong terms – he referred to Lukács’s views as ‘purely verbal’ Marxism. As ideas of, or similar to, the early Lukács are the basis not only of Counterfire but of other currents, and as they reveal more generally a misunderstanding of Marxism, analysing why these ideas are wrong – and why Lenin so specifically rejected them – is of importance to more than simply small circles.
First published: 27 May 2006
One of the effects of the quarter century of victories of international capitalism after 1979 was that it became significantly harder to obtain Marxist works. After the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1989 the Collected Works of Marx and Engels rose hugely in price and it took over a decade for the series to be completed. The Collected Works of Lenin disappeared and are expensive to acquire even second hand. Trotsky’s works went up significantly in price. The stream of publication and translation of lesser known Marxist writers that had appeared from the late 1960s onwards largely dried up.
First published: 24 May 2006
The most typical form of falsification in political argument is not actually to invent or falsify facts – although that, of course, is far from unknown. It is to rip individual facts out of context and to distort their weight compared to other facts – not infrequently by entirely suppressing the latter. Or as Lenin noted in Statistics and Sociology: ‘The most widely used, and most fallacious, method in the realm of social phenomena is to tear out individual minor facts and juggle with examples.’