Thursday, April 23, 2020



Floyd Shivambu

The 22nd of April 2020 represents exactly 150 years of the life of one of the world’s greatest socialist revolutionaries, Vladimir Ilyich Ulyanov, known by his nom de guerre Lenin. Vladimir was born on the 22nd of April 1870 in a small town of Ulyanovsk in Western Russia and at the age of 47 led the greatest October socialist revolution in Russia, which established the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) in 1917. Lenin’s life was defined by pursuit of a revolution, and although he lived for 54 years only, he bequeathed to the world rich and profound scientific tools of analysis and guide to action for all working-class struggles in the world. In his honour, many struggles in the world, including the struggles for the liberation of China, anti-colonial struggles in the Americas, the Caribbean and African continent were inspired by the theory and practice of Leninism. His political and ideological legacy played an important in the defeat of fascism, colonialism and imperialism in the world. 

Lenin’s theoretical contribution on key political questions such as the theory of revolution, the nature of working-classorganisations, vanguardism, the National question, the State, imperialism and practice of socialism remains the most valid theoretical tools of analysis for all socialist revolutionaries in the world. The Chinese Communist Party identifies itself as a Marxist-Leninist Organisation, and Chairman Mao one said, 

“If there is to be revolution, there must be a revolutionary party. Without a revolutionary party, without a party built on the Marxist-Leninist revolutionary theory and in the Marxist-Leninist revolutionary style, it is impossible to lead the working class and the broad masses of the people in defeating imperialism and its running dogs”. 

Despite the profound revolutionary theoretical contributions, Lenin led a revolution in Russia to establish a socialist state which grew in strength to the extent that at some stage, almost half of the world population resided in political territories that associated with Marxism-Leninism. Lenin breathed life to Marxism, a social scientific theory that inspires working class formation all over the worldIn paying tribute to Lenin, Leon Trotsky said, 

“the main work of Lenin’s life was the organisation of a party capable of carrying through the October revolution and of directing the construction of Socialism. The theory of the proletarian revolution—the methods and tactics to be pursued—constitutes the fundamental content of Leninism which as an international system forms the culminating point of Marxism. Lenin’s single aim filled his life from his school days onwardsHe never knew hesitation in the fight against those he considered the enemies of the working class. In his passionate struggle there was never any personal element. He fulfilled what he considered to be the demands of an inevitable historical process. Lenin combined the ability to use the materialistic dialectic as a method of scientific orientation in social developments with the deep intuition of the true leader”. 

The Russian Revolution of 1917 emancipated the peasants, working class and importantly women whom for centuries were oppressed and excluded from mainstream political and economic responsibilities, and access to education. Lenin said, “in the course of two years Soviet power in one of the most backward countries of Europe did more to emancipate women and to make their status equal to that of the “strong” sex than all the advanced, enlightened, “democratic” republics of the world did in the course of 130 years

On working class organisations, we learned from Lenin thatwhilst organised a class, the working class need a party of professional revolutionaries, who should work to constantly raise the class consciousness and with maximum discipline lead a struggle for socialism. Lenin ascribed to the view that, our task is not to champion the degrading of the revolutionary to the level of an amateur, but to raise the amateurs to the level of revolutionaries”. This trait inspires all revolutionary movements across the world. Lenin advocated for the creation of vanguard organisation of the working class in order to insulate the ideological and political direction of working-class struggles, avoiding spontaneity which can easily be infiltrated by bourgeois ideologies, therefore undermining the transition to socialism.  

On the State, we learned from Lenin that, the state is a machine for the oppression of one class by another, a machine for holding in obedience to one class other, subordinated classes”. Lenin was able to demonstrate, building on Marxist analysis that a capitalist State, which is composed of parliament, executive, judiciary, and armed bodies of men, the police and soldiers is established to protect the interests of the rich, the capitalists. The laws and all forms of regulations under a capitalist state are meant to reinforce the power of the ruling class, hence he said, “in the struggle against the capitalist class, the workers come up against the general laws of the state which protect the capitalists and their interests”. 

On what imperialism, we learn from Lenin that,
When nine-tenths of Africa had been seized (by 1900), when the whole world had been divided up, there was inevitably ushered in the era of monopoly possession of colonies and, consequently, of particularly intense struggle for the division and the redivision of the worldMonopolies, oligarchy, the striving for domination and not for freedom, the exploitation of an increasing number of small or weak nations by a handful of the richest or most powerful nations — all these have given birth to those distinctive characteristics of imperialism which compel us to define it as parasitic or decaying capitalism”.

On the national Question, it is Lenin who taught us that, At the Second Congress of the Communist International in 1920, Lenin dealt with the national and colonial questions in a rather different way and said: 
"A certain understanding has emerged between the bourgeoisie of the exploiting countries and that of the colonies, so that very often, even perhaps in most cases, the bourgeoisie of the oppressed countries, although they also support national movements, nevertheless fight against all revolutionary movements and revolutionary classes with a certain degree of understanding and agreement with the imperialist bourgeoisie, that is to say together with it" (Lenin, 1920).
This he argued called for building of revolutionary liberation movements which would pursue national liberation and socialist struggles in a dynamic interconnected way. 

Lenin was a patient teacher of revolutionary theory. On his lecture on the TASKS OF THE YOUTH LEAGUES – Lenin argued that “And so, in dealing from this angle with the tasks confronting the youth, I must say that the tasks of the youth in general, and of the Young Communist Leagues and all other organizations in particular, might be summed up in a single word: LEARN”. 

On Marxism, Lenin said, “the Marxist doctrine is omnipotent because it is true. It is comprehensive and harmonious andprovides men with an integral world outlook irreconcilable with any form of superstition, reaction, or defence of bourgeois oppression. It is the legitimate successor to the best that man produced in the nineteenth century, as represented by German philosophy, English political economy and French socialism

The economic emancipation movement that is rising under the clarion call or economic freedom in our lifetime draws inspiration from Lenin as a revolutionary leader and theorist whose ideas will live forever. We the ideological descendants of Vladimir Ilyich Ulyanov mark the 150th anniversary of the birth of Lenin and recommit that we are continuing with the struggle for socialism. 

Floyd Shivambu is EFF Deputy President.

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