Nevertheless it cannot be denied that "the true and the false together in him constitute one of the most tremendously compelling forces that modern history has seen." For the power of his message and for his influence upon the future movement of communism, Marx can be "sure of his place in any collection of the world's great masters of political thought."14 18
V- I- LENIN (I 870-1 924)
Influences and Personal Experiences
Lenin's life-long passion was to serve the people. He was the most ! lovable of men. His contemporaries, those who had the good fortune to know him well, remark that in his personal qualities he was the prototype of the man of the future, of communist society. He combined great discernment and wisdom with disarming simplicity and modesty ; sternness and an uncompromising attitude towards the enemies of the working class with a touching concern for comrades and a love for people and for children. He showed an unceasing care for the people's welfare, a passionate devotion to the cause of the party and the working class, and a supreme conviction of the justice of this cause. "He's as simple as the truth itself," workers said about Lenin. He was a real leader of the new humanity.
Lenin was born on April 10(22), 1870, in the town of Simbirsk (now Ulyanovsk), situated on the banks of the Volga. His family name was Vladimir llyich Ulyanov, but he became popular and is known by the pseudonym of Lenin which he assumed during the period of his exile from May 1897 to January 1900 in Siberia.
From his early youth Lenin dedicated himself to the cause of the revolution, of the working class. His family upbringing, the progressive Russian literature that he read and his observation of the life around him—all these were the influences that shaped the character and views of the young Lenin. The masses in Russia in those days were suffering from an appalling poverty. The tyrannical rule of the Tsarist government, landowner and capitalist oppression and the down-trodden position of the poverty-stricken workers and peasants aroused in the young man a burning hatred for the exploiters and sympathy for the exploited. These revolutionary sentiments were in evidence while Lenin was still at school.
Lenin's elder brother Alexander, a young man of strong will and high principles, exercised a great influence over him. From his early years, he tried to imitate his brother in everything. When asked how he would act in a given situation, he invariably answered : "Like Alexander." Alexander was a student at St. Petersburg University and could have become a brilliant scientist. But he chose to dedicate his life to the revolutionary struggle against the Tsarist autocracy in the hope of winning a better life for the people. It was from his elder brother that Vladimir Lenin first learned about Marxist literature.
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Lenin was still very young when his lite experienced a severe blow. In 1886 his father died suddenly, and before the family had hardly recovered from the shock, disaster struck again. In March 1887 Alexander was arrested in St. Petersburg on a charge of being involved in an attempt to assassinate Alexander III, and in May of the same year he was executed in the Schlusselburg Fortress.
Elder brother's execution was a stunning blow to Lenin, and strengthened him in his resolve to dedicate his life to the cause of revolution. But, while admiring the courage and self-sacrifice of his brother, he rejected the path he had chosen. Young as he was, Lenin was convinced that in the fight against the autocracy, assassination of individual government officials or even of the Tsar himself was a wrong course that could achieve no purpose. And hence he began his search for a different road to liberation for the working people.
Early in December 1887 Lenin was expelled from the University of Kazan and placed under police surveillance. At that time he was not yet twenty. While studying for the bar at the University of Petersburg, he worked in the trade union movement, often defying the police. He later edited Labor's Work and Jskra (the Spark), both underground journals aimed at fomenting revolution among the urban working classes. From 1903 onward he fought against what he termed half-way measures being advocated by more moderate socialist elements. He missed the revolution of 1905, arriving late from Switzerland where he had been in exile. The revolution was brutally suppressed by the Tsarist government. But he was found ready to guide the October Revolution of 1917. As a Founder and Leader of Bolshevik Party
Except for a short time during the revolution of 1905 (in Russia), Lenin lived in Western Europe for most of the period between 1900 and 1917 as an agent of the Social Democratic Party of Russia. On his return to Russia in April 1917 he took up the command of the Bolshevik faction and prepared the ground for the October Revolution. His first action was to issue his April Theses, calling on Bolsheviks not to support the floundering provisional government which had taken over after the February Revolt. Instead he called for 'peace, liberty, bread and land' for the workers and peasants. Sensing late in October that conditions were ripe for a second revolt, he proclaimed that it was now or never ! In a matter of hours the Bolsheviks consummated carefully laid plans. During the night of October 24, the Bolsheviks surrounded the Winter Palace and other government buildings ; and on the morning of October 25, members of the provisional government were placed under arrest. The October Revolution of 1917 was thus successfully over.
Lenin's life was inseparable from the life and struggle" of the Communist Party from the time of its inception. He was the orga-
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nizcr and leader of the revolutionary Marxist Party of Russia's proletariat. Ho clearly saw that great opportunities would open up in Russia for the victory of the revolution once the working c'ass movement was headed by a well-organized vanguard, by a revolutionary Marxist Party. "Give us an organization of revolutionaries, and we will overturn Russia !'* was Lenin's impassioned appeal. Such an organization, such a revolutionary Marxist vanguard of the working class in the shape of the Bolshevik Party, was brought into being under Lenin's leadership. Headed by Lenin, the Bolshevik Party, 'the intelligence, the honour and the conscience of our era', led the working class of Russia to victory in the Great October Socialist Revolution and placed it at the helm of the world's first socialist state. Lenin and the Leninist Party created by the working class of Russia showed mankind the way to socialism and communism, not only in theory but in practice also.
Development of Marx's Revolutionary Theory
Lenin not only adhered to Marx's doctrine but carried it forward. He developed Marx's revolutionary theory, which he brought into linu with the conditions of the new era. the era of imperialism and proletarian revolutions, of mankind's transition from capitalism to socialism, and the building of a communist society. Marxism is inseparable from its continuation, Leninism. The three components of Marxism—philosophy, political economy and scientific communism— were further developed, enriched and specified in Lenin's works. Lenin gave answers to all the cardinal questions which the new era posed before the working class, and with the flaming torch of Marxist theory lighted man's way to communism.
The fact that Marxism-Leninism is now a generally accepted term i.v a proof of Lenin's invaluable theoretical contribution to Marxist science. Marxism-Leninism is a great internationalist doctrine whose correctness is being more and more confirmed by the course of world history.
Lenin waged an unrelenting battle against all kinds of deviations from the revolutionary essence of Marxism, from class positions of the proletariat, and against revisionism and reformism. At the same time, he vigorously combatted all attempts to turn Marxism into a collection of dry and rigid dogmas or formulas, divorced from reality, from practice. He repeatedly stated that Marxism was not a dogma but a guide to action ; all his theoretical and organizing activity confirms this idea. Jn all his works he approaches Marxism in a creative spirit, as an undying and developing doctrine which demands fidelity to principles but rejects all that is dogmatic and stereotyped, a doctrine which always demands that the actual historical conditions be taken into account.
Lcniu, as a true and faithful disciple of Karl Marx, accepted everything that his Master postulated. In Lenin's view, the philo-
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sophy of Marxism is materialism. According to him, Marx as well as Engels always defended philosophical materialism in the most determined manner and repeatedly explained the profound erroneous-ness of every deviation from this basis. But Marx, Lenin asserts, did not stop at the materialism of the eighteenth century ; he advanced philosophy. He enriched it with the acquisition of German classical philosophy, especially of Hegelian system, which in its turn led to the materialism of Feuerbach. The chief of these acquisitions is dialectics, i.e., the doctrine of development in its fullest and deepest form, free of onesidedness—the doctrine of the relativity of human knowledge, which provides us with a reflection of eternally developing matter. The latest discoveries of natural science—radium, electrons, the transmutation of elements—have remarkably confirmed Marx's dialectical materialism, despite the teachings of the bourgeois philosophers with their 'new' reversions to old and rotten idealism.
Lenin regarded Marx's historical materialism as cue of the greatest achievements of scientific thought. The chaos and arbitrariness that had previously reigned in the views on history and politics gave way to a strikingly integral and harmonious scientific theory, which shows how, in consequence of the growth of productive forces, out of one system of social life another and higher system develops—how capitalism, for instance, grows out of feudalism.
Materialistic Interpretation of Social Process
Lenin, mostly like Marx, pleads that all the ideas, whether individual or social, are the result of our reactions to material objects in our sense organs. Hence, a true analysis of social process depends upon a thorough understanding of the underlying material forces, which are mainly economic. According to him, the dialectics of historical materialism is not only the greatest contribution of Marx to social thought but it also helps us to interpret and understand correctly his own (Marx's) system of economic and political thought. Appreciating and confirming Marx's views, Lenin says that the former was convinced of the necessity of "bringing the science of society . . . .into harmony with the materialist foundation, and of reconstructing it thereupon."1 Since materialism in general, Lenin further pleads, regards consciousness as the outcome of being, and not conversely, materialism as applied to the social life of mankind has to explain social consciousness as the outcome of social being.
I Engels, F. : Ludwig Feuerbach, Eng. ed., 1946, p. 34.
Lenin was of the view that the discovery of the materialist conception of history removed two of the chief defects of the earlier historical theories. In the first place, the earlier historical theories examined only the human motives of the historical activity, without investigating what produced these motives, but the materialist conception of history, while going deeper into and analysing the process of
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history, explains the underlying material forces which prompt the ideological motives of human beings. In the second place, the earlier theories failed to cover the activities of the masses of the population, whereas historical materialism made it possible for the first time to study with the accuracy of natural sciences the social conditions of the life of the masses and the changes in these conditions.
All the changes in human society, according to Lenin, are brought about by material forces, but these changes are made possible only when the human beings become conscious of the necessity of a change by reading correctly the process of history. He, therefore, advises the proletariat first to be sure of the favourable situation for a social and economic change in the society and then to act in accordance with the material realities of the time, but never going beyond the limits that the given circumstances would permit. Here, Lenin shows some improvement upon Marx. While the whole theory of Marx is "an application of the theory of evolution,"' Lenin argues that a successful proletarian revolution would not merely depend on the evolution, but it would be conducted and fought according to a calculated programme of action as indicated by Marx.
Lenin's Support of Marx's Theory of Class Struggle
Lenin fully supports Marx's theory of the class struggle. Marx wrote in the Communist Manifesto (1848) that the "history of all hitherto existing society is the history of class struggle." In this regard, Lenin remarks : "That in any given society the strivings of some of its members conflict with the strivings of others, that social life is full of contradictions, that history discloses a struggle within nations and societies as well as between nations and societies, and, in addition, an alternation of periods of revolution and reaction, peace and war, stagnation and rapid progress or decline—are facts that are generally known."* Like Marx, Lenin was also of the opinion that the modern bourgeois society has not done away with class antagonisms. But it has one distinctive feature, and that is that it has simplified the class antagonisms, as the modern capitalist society has been split up into two clear-cut hostile camps—bourgeoisie and proletariat.
Cf. Burns, E. (ed.) ; A Handbook of Marxism, New York, Internationa!, 1935, p. 74C.
Lenin, V. I. : Marx, Engels and Marxism, Moscow Publication, 1947, P. 27.
Lenin was in complete agreement with Marx's thesis of the inevitability of transformation of capitalist society into socialist society. He writes that "the socialization of labour, which is advancing ever more rapidly in thousands of forms, and which has manifested itself very strikingly during the half-century that has elapsed since the death of Marx in the growth of large-scale production, capitalist cartels, syndicates and trusts, as well as in the gigantic increase in the d imeo-
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sions and power of financial capital, forms the chief material foundation for the inevitable coming of socialism."1 The socialization of production is bound to lead to the conversion of the means of production into the property of society, to the 'expropriation of the expropriators'. In the process of transformation of the capitalist society into socialist society, the interference of the state power in social relations become.", superfluous in one sphere after another, and then ceases of itself. The government of persons is replaced by the administration of things a->d the direction of the process of production. The state is not abolished, it withers away} Lenin thus corroborates, more or less, all the views of Marx on the theoretical plane, he seems to add hardly anything to the social and economic philosophy of Marx.
Lenin's Adaptation of Marxism to the Conditions in Russia
Lenin was certainly not interested in substituting one literary tradition for another. He only tried to adapt Marxism to the state of affairs in Russia, and this is true, because his life was spent as a leader of the Marxist Party of a new type and most of what he wrote had to do with that Party or with the Russian Revolution. As a realist and a practical politician, he also laboured to bring Marx down to date, taking account of the further evolution of capitalist society and reformulating the tactics of Marxism in the light of new developments, particularly in Russia.
Lenin has been called a realist, and indeed was also a Utopian simpler and more credulous than most. His The State and the Revolution (1917) consists of quotations from Marx and Engels so put together and explained as to justify the revolutionary Marxism of the Bolsheviks and confound all their critics. Lenin's pamphlet purports to prove, against the German Social Democrats, that Marx and Engels never ceased to be revolutionary socialists, although it does not offer us a coherent theory of the state.
Lenin, V. I. : op. cit., p. 41.
Engels, F. : Anti-Duhring, p. 3 15.
Marx produced two doctrines of the state, but he neither explained how they were connected nor did he abandon one of them. He said that the state is an instrument of class oppression, and also that it is often a parasitic growth on society, making class oppression possible even when the government is not the agent of any class. Lenin accepted both these doctrines without noticing that they are incompatible or attempting to adjust them to each other. He also accepted the theory of Engels that the state emerges as soon as there arise in society classes with irreconcilable interests, its function being to keep the peace between them. Lenin, like Engels, never thought it necessary to explain how it is that the peace cannot be kept except
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by sacrificing the interests of ail classes in the interest of only one class. Nor did he explain how the keeping of peace within society differs from the conciliation of interests ; he merely said, repeating Engels, that the function of the state is to maintain peace between 'irreconcilable' classes, and to keep it in the interest of only one class among them. Lenin had fewer doubts than either of his masters and was never tempted to question their assumptions. He, therefore, never thought over their curious doctrine that, though the social classes have irreconcilable interests, it is somehow possible to keep the peace between them. He quietly accepted in the way of doctrine whatever they offered him, including this far from self-evident assumption that to maintain social peace and order is not to conciliate interests. For the difference between these two functions he had never a thought to spare.
On the basis of the theory of state, as advanced by Marx and Engels, Lenin seeks to establish as ortnodox Marxism two propositions neglected or denied by the German Majority Socialists : (1) that the bourgeois state and all its instruments must be destroyed by the proletariat, and (2) that it is the 'dictatorship of the proletariat' which is destined to wither away.
The dictatorship of the proletariat, the workers' state or 'half state' (as Lenin sometimes called it) is not a growing parasite whose function is to maintain the social conditions of class exploitation ; is is the instrument of the workers and peasants, of the great majority, who use it to destroy the last traces of class exploitation, it is, therefore, the dictatorship of the proletariat and not the bourgeois state that will wither away. The workers' state is strongest at the moment of its birth, and must from that moment weaken until it dies. Lenin called it a 'half state', because its function is not to perpetuate the conditions of its own life but to destroy them. It is repressive and therefore a slate ; but it is also the instrument of great majority. The organizations, which the workers use, are democratically controlled, and they gradually disappear as the work of suppression is completed.
When Lenin wrote The State and the Revolution, he had no administrative experience. He had never taken even a subordinate part in the government. That is why, he stated, only a few months before the Bolshevik Revolution, that "the great majority of functions of the old state power have been so simplified and can be reduced to such simple operations of registration, filing and checking, that they can be easily performed by every literate person." Lenin believed that capitalism makes the tasks of government easier. If so, why then has the bourgeois state become so massive ? Lenin's answer is that successive revolutions have made it so ; that the parasite has fed on its host and is swollen with its blood. This was the simple answer that satisfied Lenin in 1917, when he still refused to accept that the spread of industry makes society so complex that only a large, varied and highly trained administration can control it.
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Deviation from Marxist Ultimate Goal
Lenin's explanations fall short of truth. Without realizing the falsity of his earlier assumptions, he, after the Bolshevik Revolution, was obliged to establish highly centralized administrative machine in Russia. Later he found that he could not govern the society without a strong state. In one of his articles, which he wrote in 1923, he tells his party men : "The proletarian state is the chief instrument for the building of socialism." The constitution of the new Bolshevik State was federal, but that federalism was a mere pretence ; all real power belonged to the well-disciplined Communist Party. Most of the old departments of state were revived, albeit under new names ; and the political police became soon more active than they had been under the Tsars. Even after more than half a century, neither the dictatorship of the proletariat nor the workers' state has withered away, and the Soviet Russia is still governed by a strong' centralized machinery. By what stages and by means of what practical measures humanity will proceed to the ideal of classless and stateless society, we do not know and cannot know. At the moment, this ideal seems to be a sheer Utopia.
As said earlier, Lenin was not a theorist and his aim was not to produce any consistent economic or political philosophy. He was a great revolutionary, whose chief aim was to adapt Marxism to the special conditions in Russia. In his book The Development of Capitalism in Russia, which was published in 1899, he attempted to show that capitalism in Russia was making progress not only in industry, but in agriculture as well. This book dealt the deathblow to Narod-ism. In it he showed how the working class, the grave-digger of capitalism and builder of a new socialist society, was growing and maturing within the capitalist society. Although the Russian working class was proportionately small compared to the rest of the population Lenin saw in it a great force and revealed the leading ro!e it was destined to play in the revolutionary movement. At the same time, he stressed the need for alliance between the proletariat and the peasantry, without which there could be no victory in the coming revolution. This book was an important contribution to the scientific elaboration of the theory, programme and tactics of the proletarian party. It sold out quickly among the progressive minded intellectuals, students and members of the workers' study circles, and was of tremendous significance in the ideological and theoretical education of the Marxist cadres.
Lenin, after regaining his freedom (on the termination of his exile), went ahead cautiously and patiently with his plan of organizing a truly revolutionary proletarian party capable of organizing and leading the working class of Russia to the assault of the Tsarist autocracy and capitalism. In order to lead u.e workers' movement, to