From Roter Morgen
Organ of the Communist Party of Germany
April 27, 1995
Vladimir Ilyich Lenin was born 125 years ago, on April 22, 1870. Lenin thoroughly appropriated the world view developed by Marx and Engels and let himself be directed by their whole scientific and political activity.
He was not only the leader of the Russian workers' movement, who applied Marxism to Russia, under whose leadership the Russian working class seized power in October, 1917, and created the conditions for the construction of socialism. Lenin also worked out scientific answers to the important questions raised by the international workers' movement at that time.
This was not possible without at the same time further developing Marxism on many questions. The further development of Marxism by Lenin is of such theoretical and practical significance, that it is usual in the revolutionary workers' movement to speak of "Marxism-Leninism." This is also completely correct, since one can now not be a Marxist without being a Leninist, without letting oneself be directed in theory and practice by the further developments with which Lenin enriched Marxist theory.
We will in what follows briefly sketch some of the most important components of Lenin's great scientific work, which is of such great significance for the revolutionary practice of the international proletariat.
Lenin's "What Is To Be Done": unrenounceable theoretical foundation for the building of a revolutionary vanguard party of the working class
Marx and Engels had explained that the working class can only achieve victory when it is lead by a political party that proceeds from a scientific theory. Marx had a decisive part on this point as intellectual leader of the First International, that such parties arose in many countries.
At the beginning of the 20th century, however, capitalism had entered its monopolist stage, the stage of imperialism. This was linked to the fact that, among other things, opportunism took on an increasingly systematic form in the workers' movement. The opportunist leaders of the workers' movement tried to adapt this movement to the interests of the bourgeoisie, in particular to obscure the goal of the revolutionary overthrow of bourgeois power and the establishment of the workers' power.
The opportunists emphasized seemingly the momentary interests of the workers, such as the struggle for higher wages; but they did this not to link these interests with the struggle for its fundamental interest, the abolition of capitalist exploitation, but to counterpose the momentary interests to the fundamental one. In this connection the saying of the revisionist (revisionism = falsification of Marxism) Bernstein is characteristic: "The movement is everything, the final aim is nothing."
In 1902 Lenin's book "What Is To Be Done" was published, which had great significance for the struggle against opportunism. In this book Lenin explained that socialist consciousness can not emerge out of the spontaneous workers' movement, but only out science, that consequently socialism can only triumph if the workers' movement is connected with the theory of scientific socialism. This connection is the communist party.
Socialism can not triumph without such a party. If one wants socialism, then one must therefore first of all work with all ones force for the construction and development of such a party.
Lenin also showed why the opportunists, who strove for reconciliation with the bourgeoisie, glorified the spontaneous workers' movement so much: it is because the spontaneous development of the workers' movement leads to its subordination to bourgeois ideology.
Lenin concluded from this, "that all worship of the spontaneity of the working-class movement, all belittling of the role of 'the conscious element,' of the role of Social-Democracy" (the revolutionary parties of the working class at that time still called themselves "social-democratic", RM) "means, quite irrespective of whether the belittler wants to or not, strengthening the influence of the bourgeois ideology over the workers." (What Is To Be Done?, p. 46)
"Since there can be no talk of an independent ideology being developed by the masses of the workers themselves in the process of their movement the only choice is: either the bourgeois or the socialist ideology. There is no middle course (for humanity has not created a 'third' ideology, and, moreover, in a society torn by class antagonisms there can never be a non-class or above-class ideology). Hence, to belittle the socialist ideology in any way, to turn away from it in the slightest degree means to strengthen bourgeois ideology." (ibid, p. 48)
This forms in today's circumstances almost a prophetic prediction of that which, in the principal imperialist countries later happened on a mass scale. Opportunism has gained almost unlimited domination of the workers' movement, and this means that the workers' movement is subordinated to the interests of the bourgeoisie.
The rule of opportunism will certainly not be eternal, and to be sure for the reason that imperialism can less and less satisfy the simplest daily interests of the workers. This is becoming more and more clear these days. And nevertheless: there is only one way in which the workers' movement can again work out its own fundamental interests and standpoint and consequently orient itself on these interests: this way is by the construction of a revolutionary party, that is oriented on scientific socialism. Lenin's work "What Is To Be Done?" is today as well an unrenouncable theoretical foundation.
Lenin's struggle against the treason of the leaders of the Second International
During World War I the opportunist leaders of the Second International showed how far they would go in their efforts to adapt the workers' movement to the interests of the bourgeoisie -- and that meant now: imperialism.
The revisionist leaders of the workers' parties ordered the workers of their own country to shoot down the workers of the other countries. They became parties for the war aims of their own bourgeoisie. Lenin untiringly pointed out to the workers that this was a complete treason. From the standpoint of the working class in every country the task consisted of of promoting the defeat of their own bourgeoisie, in order to use their resulting weaknesses and to overthrow them in the revolution.
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