Lenin: A Study on the Unity of his Thought. Georg Lukacs 1924
The proletariat seizes state power and establishes its revolutionary dictatorship: -the realization of socialism is now a practical task – a problem for which the proletariat is least of all prepared. For the realpolitik of the Social Democrats, who consistently treated all questions of the day only as such, unrelated to the whole historical process and without reference to the ultimate problems of the class struggle, thus never pointing realistically and concretely beyond the horizon of bourgeois society, gave socialism once again a Utopian character in the eyes of the workers. The separation of the final aim from the movement not only distorts the assessment of everyday questions – those of the movement -but also makes the final aim itself Utopian. This reversion to utopianism expresses itself in very different forms. Above all, the Utopian conceives socialism not as a process of becoming, but as a state of ‘being’. In so far as the problems of socialism are raised at all, they are studied only as future economic, cultural and other questions and in terms of the possible technical or other solutions to them when socialism has already entered the phase of its practical realization. How this in the first place becomes socially possible, how it is achieved, or constituted, or what class relations and economic forms the proletariat must confront at the historical moment when it assumes the task of realizing socialism, is not asked. (Similarly Fourier in his time gave a detailed analysis of the organization of the phalansteres without being able to show concretely how they were to be established.) Opportunist eclecticism, the elimination of the dialectic from socialist thought, divorces socialism itself from the historical process of the class struggle. Those contaminated by it are bound, as a result, to see both the preconditions for the realization of socialism and the problem of this realization from a distorted perspective. This fundamental error goes so deep that it not only affects opportunists, for whom socialism anyway always remains a far-off ultimate goal, but it also leads honest revolutionaries astray. The latter – the majority of the Left in the Second International – saw the revolutionary process, the ongoing struggle for power, clearly enough in the context of practical everyday problems; but they were incapable of seeing the proletariat after the seizure of power – and the resulting concrete problems – from a similar perspective. Here, too, they became Utopian.
The admirable realism with which Lenin handled all problems of socialism during the dictatorship of the proletariat, which must win him the respect even of his bourgeois and petty-bourgeois opponents, is therefore only the consistent application of Marxism, of historical-dialectical thought, to problems of socialism which have henceforward become topical. In Lenin’s writings and speeches – as, incidentally, also in Marx – there is little about socialism as a completed condition. There is all the more, however, about the steps which can lead to its establishment. For it is impossible for us concretely to imagine the details of socialism as a completed condition. Important as theoretically accurate knowledge of its basic structure is, the significance of this knowledge lies above all in its establishing the criteria by which we can judge the steps we take towards it. Concrete knowledge of socialism is – like socialism itself- a product of the struggle for it; it can only be gained in and through this struggle. All attempts to gain knowledge of socialism which do not follow this path of dialectical interaction with the day-to-day problems of the class struggle make a meta-physic of it, a Utopia, something merely contemplative and non-practical.
The aim of Lenin’s realism, his realpolitik, is therefore the final elimination of all utopianism, the concrete fulfillment of the content of Marx’s programme: a theory become practical, a theory of practice. Lenin handled the problem of socialism as he had done the problem of the state: he wrested it from its previous metaphysical isolation and embourgeoisement and situated it in the total context of the problem of the class struggle. He tested in living history Marx’s genial suggestions, in The Critique of the Gotha Programme and elsewhere, and made them more concrete and implemented them more fully than Marx had been able to in his time, despite his genius.
The problems of socialism are therefore the problems of economic structure and class relations at the moment when the proletariat seizes state power. They arise directly from the situation in which the working class establishes its dictatorship and can, therefore, only be understood and solved in relation to its problems. For the same reason they nevertheless contain, in relation to this and all preceding situations, a fundamentally new quality. Even if all their elements are rooted in the past, their interconnection with the maintenance and consolidation of proletarian rule produces new problems which could not have existed either in Marx or in other earlier theories, and which can only be understood and solved in the context of this essentially new situation.
Referred back to its context and its foundations, Lenin’s realpolitik thus proves to be the highest stage yet reached by the materialist dialectic. On the one hand, it is a profound and concrete analysis of the given situation, its economic structure and class relations, strictly Marxist in its simplicity and sobriety; on the other hand, it is a lucid awareness of all new tendencies arising from this situation, unclouded by any theoretical prejudice or Utopian fancies. These apparently simple qualities, rooted as they are in the nature of the materialist dialectic – in itself a theory of history – are by no means easy to attain. The customary ways of thinking under capitalism have given everyone – particularly those inclined to systematic study – the tendency always to want to explain the new completely in terms of the old, today entirely in terms of yesterday. (Revolutionary utopianism is an attempt to pull oneself up by one’s own bootstraps, to land with one jump in a completely new world, instead of understanding, with the help of the dialectic, the dialectical evolution of the new from the old.) ‘That is why,’ said Lenin, ‘very many people are misled by the term state capitalism. To avoid this we must remember the fundamental thing that state capitalism in the form we have here is not dealt with in any theory, or in any books, for the simple reason that all the usual concepts connected with this term are associated with bourgeois rule in capitalist society. Our society is one which has left the rails of capitalism, but has not yet got on to new rails.’
But what real concrete environment for the achievement of socialism did the Russian proletariat find once it attained power. First, a relatively developed monopoly capitalism in a state of collapse as a result of the world war, in a backward peasant country where the peasantry could only liberate itself from the shackles of feudal survivals in alliance with the proletarian revolution. Second, a hostile capitalist environment outside Russia, ready to throw itself upon the new workers’ and peasants’ state with all the resources at its disposal, strong enough to crush it militarily or economically were it not itself divided by the ever-increasing contradictions of imperialist capitalism, which offer the proletariat the constant opportunity to exploit imperialism’s internal and other rivalries for its own ends. (This is naturally to indicate only the two chief problem areas; not even these can be discussed exhaustively in these few pages.)
The material basis of socialism as a higher economic form replacing capitalism can only be provided by the reorganization and higher development of industry, its adjustment to the needs of the working class, its transformation in the direction of an ever more meaningful existence (abolition of the opposition between town and country, intellectual and manual labour, etc.). The condition of this material basis therefore determines the possibilities and path of its concrete realization. In this respect – already in 1917, before the seizure of power – Lenin gave a clear exposition of the economic situation and the proletarian tasks which resulted from it: The dialectic of history is such that war, by extraordinarily expediting the transformation of monopoly capitalism, has thereby extraordinarily advanced mankind towards socialism. Imperialist war is the eve of socialist revolution. And this not only because the horrors of war give rise to proletarian revolt – no revolt can bring about socialism unless the economic conditions for socialism are ripe – but because state-monopoly capitalism is a complete material preparation for socialism, the threshold of socialism, a rung on the ladder of history between which and the rung called socialism there are no intermediate rungs’ As a result, ‘socialism is merely state-monopoly capitalism which is made to serve the interests of the whole people and has to that extent ceased to be capitalist monopoly’. Further, he writes, at the beginning of 1918: ‘... In the present circumstances, state capitalism would mean a step forward in our Soviet republic. If, for example, state capitalism firmly established itself here after six months, that would be a mighty achievement and the surest guarantee that, after a year, socialism would be finally and irrevocably established here’.
These passages have been quoted in particular detail to refute widespread bourgeois and social democratic myths according to which, after the failure of ‘doctrinaire Marxist’ attempts to introduce communism ‘at one sweep’, Lenin compromised and, ‘clever realist that he was’, deviated from his original political line. The historical truth is the opposite. So-called ‘War Communism’ – about which Lenin said: ‘It was a makeshift’ and: ‘It was the war and the ruin that forced us into War Communism. It was not, and could not be, a policy that corresponded to the economic tasks of the proletariat’ – was itself a deviation from the path along which the development of socialism was to have run, according to his theoretical predictions. Of course, it was determined by the internal and external civil war and was therefore unavoidable, but it was still only a makeshift. And, according to Lenin, it would have been fatal for the proletariat to have been ignorant of this character of War Communism, let alone to have thought of it as a real step towards socialism, as did many sincere revolutionaries who were not on his theoretical level.
The crux of the matter is, therefore, not to what extent the outward forms of the economy are in themselves socialist in character, but exclusively to what extent the proletariat succeeds in actually controlling heavy industry -the economic apparatus of which it took possession when it seized power and which is at the same time the basis of its own social existence – and to what extent it succeeds in really using this control to further its own class aims. No matter how much the context of these aims and the corresponding means for their realization changes, their general basis still remains the same: to pursue the class struggle by leading the vacillating intermediate strata (particularly the peasants) on the decisive front – the front against the bourgeoisie. And here it should never be forgotten that, despite its first victory, the proletariat still remains the weaker class and will remain so for a long time – until revolution is victorious on a world scale. Economically its struggle must therefore be based on two principles: firstly to stop as quickly and completely as possible the destruction of heavy industry by war and civil war, for without this material basis the proletariat is bound to be destroyed; secondly to regulate all problems of production and distribution to the maximum satisfaction of the material needs of the peasantry so that the alliance established with the proletariat by the revolutionary solution of the agrarian question can be maintained. The means for the realization of these aims change according to the circumstances. Their gradual implementation is, however, the only way to maintain the rule of the proletariat – the first precondition of socialism.
The class struggle between bourgeoisie and proletariat is therefore also waged with undiminished intensity on the internal economic front. Small-scale industry, the abolition and ‘socialization’ of which is pure utopianism at this stage, ‘is continuously, day by day, hour by hour, in an elemental sense and on a mass scale, creating capitalism and a bourgeoisie’. The question is which of the two is going to gain the upper hand: this re-emerging and re-accumulating bourgeoisie or heavy state industry controlled by the proletariat? The proletariat must risk this competition if it does not in the long run want to risk the loosening of its alliance with the peasants by strangling small-scale industry, trade, etc. (which is in practice an illusion anyway). In addition, the bourgeoisie offers yet more competition in the form of foreign capital or concessions. Paradoxically, this development (whatever bourgeois intentions) can, by strengthening the economic power of heavy industry, become an objective economic aid of the proletariat. Thus ‘an alliance is born against small-scale industry’. At the same time, of course, concessionary capital’s normal tendency gradually to transform the proletarian state into a capitalist economy must be vigorously opposed (by restrictions on concessions, monopoly of exports, etc.).
It is impossible in these few remarks to attempt even the merest outline of Lenin’s economic policy. They are intended only as examples to allow the theoretical basis of his political principle to emerge with some degree of clarity. This principle is: in a universe of open and secret enemies and hesitant allies, to maintain the rule of the proletariat at all costs. In the same way, his basic political principle before the seizure of power was to discover those factors in the tangle of interwoven social tendencies of declining capitalism whose exploitation by the proletariat was capable of transforming it into the leading – the ruling – class in society. Lenin held to this principle unshakably and uncompromisingly throughout his whole life. In the same implacable way, he held to it as a dialectical principle, in the sense that ‘the basis of the Marxist dialectic is that all limits in nature and in history are simultaneously determinate and mutable, and that there is not a single phenomenon which, under certain conditions, cannot be transformed into its opposite’. The dialectic therefore demands ‘a comprehensive examination of the relevant social phenomena in the course of their development, and the reduction of all exterior and visible manifestations to their basic, motivating forces – to the development of the forces of production and of the class struggle’. Lenin’s greatness as a dialectician consisted in his ability clearly to see the basic principles of the dialectic, the development of the productive forces and the class struggle always in their innermost essence, concretely, without abstract prejudices, but also without being fetishistically confused by superficialities. He always related all phenomena to their ultimate basis – to the concrete actions of concrete (in other words class-conditioned) men in accordance with their real class interests. Only in the light of this principle do the legends of Lenin ‘the clever power politician’ and the ‘master of compromise’ collapse to reveal the true Lenin, the theorist who consistently developed the Marxist dialectic.
Above all, when defining the concept of compromise, any suggestion that it is a question of knack, of cleverness, of an astute fraud, must be rejected. ‘We must,’ said Lenin, ‘decisively reject those who think that politics consists of little tricks, sometimes bordering on deceit. Classes cannot be deceived.’* For Lenin, therefore, compromise means that the true developmental tendencies of classes (and possibly of nations – for instance, where an oppressed people is concerned), which under specific circumstances and for a certain period run parallel in determinate areas with the interests of the proletariat, are exploited to the advantage of both.
Naturally, compromises can also be a form of class struggle against the decisive enemy of the working class – the bourgeoisie (one only need consider Soviet Russia’s relations with imperialist countries). Opportunist theoreticians also fasten on to this special form of compromise, partly to build Lenin up, or to run him down, as an ‘undogmatic power politician’, and partly to find by doing so a camouflage for their own compromises. We have already pointed out the weaknesses of the first argument. To judge the second – as with every dialectical question – the total concrete environment of the compromise must be taken into account. It now becomes immediately clear that Lenin’s type of compromise and opportunist compromise are based on diametrically opposed assumptions. Whether consciously or unconsciously, social democratic tactics are based on the belief that the real revolution is still a long way off, that the objective preconditions of social revolution do not yet exist, that the proletariat is not yet ideologically mature enough for revolution, the party and trade unions are still too weak, and that for these reasons the proletariat must make compromises with the bourgeoisie. In other words, the more the subjective and objective preconditions of social revolution are present, the more ‘purely’ will the proletariat be able to fulfill its class aims. So the reverse of practical compromise is often great radicalism – absolute ‘purity’ of principle in relation to the ‘ultimate goal’. (It goes without saying that we can in this context only consider the theories of those Social Democrats who still to some extent believe in the concept of class struggle. For those who do not, corn-promises are obviously no longer compromises but the natural collaboration of various professional strata for the good of the whole community.)
For Lenin, on the other hand, compromise is a direct and logical consequence of the actuality of the revolution. If this actuality defines the basic character of the whole era, if the revolution can break out at any moment – either in a single country or on a world scale – without this moment ever being exactly determinable; if the revolutionary character of the whole epoch is revealed in the ever-increasing decay of bourgeois society, which results in the most varied tendencies continuously interchanging and criss-crossing, then the proletariat cannot begin and complete its revolution under ‘favourable’ conditions of its own choosing, and must always exploit all those tendencies which – however temporarily – further the revolution or which can at least weaken its enemies. Earlier we quoted some passages from Lenin which showed how few illusions he had – even before the seizure of power – about the speed with which socialism could be realized. The following passage from one of his last essays, written after the period of ‘compromises’, still shows just as clearly that, for Lenin, this prediction never meant the postponement of revolutionary action: ‘Napoleon wrote: “On s’ engage et puis . . . on voit” Rendered freely this means: “First engage in a serious battle and then see what happens.” Well, we did first engage in a serious battle in October 1917, and then saw such details of development (from the standpoint of world history they were certainly details) as the Brest Peace, the New Economic Policy, and so forth.’
The Leninist theory and tactic of compromise is, therefore, only the objective, logical corollary of the Marxist -dialectical – historical recognition that, although men make their own history, they cannot do so in circumstances chosen by themselves. This follows from the knowledge that history always creates new conditions; that therefore moments in history when different tendencies intersect never recur in the same form; that tendencies can be judged favourable to the revolution today which are a mortal danger to it tomorrow, and vice versa. Thus, on 1 September 1917, Lenin wanted to offer the Mensheviks and Social Revolutionaries a compromise, a common action, based on the old Bolshevik slogan, ‘All Power to the Soviets’. But already on 17 September he writes: ‘. . . Perhaps it is already too late to offer a compromise. Perhaps the few days in which a peaceful development was still possible have passed too. Yes, to all appearances, they have already passed.’ The application of this theory to Brest-Litovsk, to the economic concessions, is self-evident.
The extent to which the whole Leninist theory of compromise has its base in his fundamental concept of the actuality of the revolution is possibly made even clearer by the theoretical battles he fought against the left wing of his own party (on a Russian scale after the First Revolution, in 1905, and at the time of the peace of Brest-Litovsk, and on a European scale in 1920 and 1921). In all these debates, the slogan of left-wing radicalism was the rejection in principle of any compromise. Lenin’s polemic shows very substantially that this rejection contains an evasion of decisive struggles^ behind which lies a defeatist attitude towards the revolution. For the genuine revolutionary situation – and, according to Lenin, this is the principal feature of our age – expresses itself in the fact that there are no areas of the class struggle in which revolutionary (or counter-revolutionary) possibilities are not present. The genuine revolutionary, the revolutionary who knows that we live in a revolutionary period and who draws the practical conclusions from the knowledge, must therefore always see the totality of socio-historic reality from this standpoint and, in the interests of the revolution, must rigorously consider all events – big or small, normal or untoward – according and only according to their importance for it. In sometimes referring to ‘left-wing Radicalism’ as ‘left-wing Opportunism’, Lenin very rightly and profoundly indicated the common historical perspective of these two otherwise mutually antagonistic tendencies, for one of which any compromise is taboo, while for the other it represents the principle of realpolitik in opposition to ‘strict adherence to dogmatic principles’. He pointed out, in other words, that both were pessimistic regarding the proximity and actuality of the proletarian revolution. By thus rejecting both tendencies from the same principle, Lenin makes it clear that compromise for him and compromise for opportunists are only verbally the same: the word as used by each refers to fundamentally different premises and therefore covers two fundamentally different concepts.
A proper understanding of what Lenin meant by compromise, on what he theoretically founded its tactics, is not only fundamental to a correct understanding of his method, but is also of far-reaching practical importance. For Lenin compromise is only possible in dialectical interaction with strict adherence to the principles and method of Marxism; it always indicates the next realistic step towards the realization of Marxist theory. Therefore, however sharply this theory and tactic are to be distinguished from rigid adherence to ‘pure’ principles, they must also be totally separated from all unprincipled, schematic realpolitik. In other words, for Lenin, it is not enough for a concrete situation – the specific balance of forces determining a compromise, and the tendency of the necessary development of the proletarian movement guiding its orientation – to be properly recognized and evaluated in its reality. He regards it as an enormous practical danger for the labour movement if such a correct appreciation of the actual facts is not related to a generally correct appreciation of the whole historical process. Thus, while acknowledging the practical attitude of the German Communists to the projected ‘Workers’ Government’ after the crushing of the Kapp Putsch – so-called ‘loyal opposition’ – to be correct, he simultaneously censured this tactic most severely on the grounds that it was based on a theoretically false historical perspective, full of democratic illusions.
The dialectically correct fusion of the general and the specific, the recognition of the general (in the sense of general historical tendencies) in the specific (in the concrete situation), and the resulting concretization of theory, is therefore the basis of this theory of compromise. Those who see Lenin merely as a clever or perhaps even brilliant exponent of realpolitik thoroughly misunderstand the essence of his method. But those who think that they can find in his decisions ‘formulas’ and ‘precepts’ for correct and practical action applicable everywhere misunderstand him even more deeply. Lenin never laid down ‘general rules’ which could be ‘applied’ in a number of different cases. His ‘truths’ grow from a concrete analysis of the concrete situation based on a dialectical approach to history. Only a caricature, vulgar Leninism can result from a mechanical ‘generalization’ of his insights and decisions – as shown, for instance, by those Hungarian Communists who tried schematically to imitate the Brest-Litovsk Peace in a totally different context, when replying to the Clemenceau Note in Summer 1919. For, as Marx sharply censured Lassalle: ‘... The dialectical method is wrongly applied. Hegel never called the subsumption of a mass of different “cases” under a general principle dialectical.’
But the need to take into account all existing tendencies in every concrete situation by no means implies that all are of equal weight when decisions are taken. On the contrary, every situation contains a central problem the solution of which determines both the answer to the other questions raised simultaneously by it and the key to the further development of all social tendencies in the future. ‘You must,’ said Lenin, ‘be able at each particular moment to find the particular link in the chain which you must grasp with all your might in order to hold the whole chain and to prepare firmly for the transition to the next link; the order of the links, their form, the manner in which they are linked together, the way they differ from each other in the historical chain of events, are not as simple and not as meaningless as those in an ordinary chain made by a smith.’
Only the Marxist dialectic, by the concrete analysis of the concrete situation, can establish what fact at a given moment of social life acquires this significance. Its leitmotif is the revolutionary concept of society as a continuously developing totality. For only this relation to the totality gives the relevant decisive link this significance: it must be grasped because it is only by doing so that the totality itself can be grasped. Lenin gives the problem particularly sharp and concrete emphasis again in one of his last essays, when he speaks of co-operatives and points out that ‘much that was fantastic, even romantic, even banal in the dreams of the old co-operators is now becoming unvarnished reality’. ‘Strictly speaking’, he says, ‘there is “only” one thing we have left to do and that is to make our people so “enlightened” that they understand all the advantages of everybody participating in the work of the co-operatives, and organize this participation. “Only” that. There are now no other devices needed to advance socialism. But to achieve this “only,” there must be a veritable revolution – the entire people must go through a period of cultural development.’
It is unfortunately impossible to analyze the whole essay in detail here. Such an analysis – and, for that matter, an analysis of any one of Lenin’s theoretical insights – would show how the whole is always contained in each link of the chain; that the criterion of true Marxist politics always consists in extracting and concentrating the greatest energy upon those moments in the historical process which- at any given instance or phase – contain within them this relationship to the present whole and to the question of development central for the future – to the future in its practical and tangible totality. Therefore, this energetic seizure of the next decisive link of the chain by no means entails the extraction of its moment from the totality at the expense of the other moments in it. On the contrary, it means that, once related to this central problem, all other moments of the historical process can thereby be correctly understood and solved. The connection of all problems with one another is not loosened by this approach; it is strengthened and made more concrete.
Those moments are brought into the open by history, by the objective development of productive forces. But it depends on the proletariat whether and how far it is able to recognize, grasp and thereby influence their further development. The fundamental and already oft-quoted Marxist axiom that men make their own history acquires an ever-increasing importance in the revolutionary period after the seizure of state power, even if its dialectical counterpart, which stresses that the circumstances are not freely chosen, is an essential part of its truth. This means in practice that the party s role in a revolution – the masterly idea of the early Lenin – is even more important and more decisive in the period of transition to socialism than in the preparatory period. For the greater the proletariat’s active influence in determining the course of history, the more fateful – both in the good and the bad sense – its decisions become both for itself and for the whole of mankind, the more important it is to preserve the only compass for these wild and stormy seas – proletarian class consciousness – in its purest form and to help this unique guide in the struggle to achieve even greater clarity. This concept of the proletarian party’s active historical role is a fundamental tenet of Lenin’s theory and therefore of his politics which he tired neither of emphasizing again and again, nor of stressing its importance for practical decisions. Thus at the Eleventh Congress of the Russian Communist Party, when attacking the opponents of state capitalism, he said: ‘State capitalism is capitalism which we shall be able to restrain, and the limits of which we shall be able to fix. This state capitalism is connected with the state, and the state is the workers, the advanced section of the workers, the vanguard. We are the state... And it rests with us to determine what this state capitalism is to be.’
That is why every turning-point in the development of socialism is always simultaneously a critical internal party matter. It is a regrouping of forces, the adjustment of the party organization to new tasks: the influencing of society in the direction dictated by a careful and accurate analysis of the whole historical process from the class standpoint of the proletariat. That is why the party occupies the summit of the hierarchy of the decisive forces in the state which we constitute. Because the revolution can only be victorious on a world scale, because it is only as a world proletariat that the working class can truly become a class, the party itself is incorporated and subordinated as a section within the highest organ of proletarian revolution, the Communist International. The mechanistic rigidity characterizing all opportunist and bourgeois thought will always see insoluble contradictions in such a relationship. It cannot understand how, even after they have ‘returned to capitalism’, the Bolsheviks still uphold the old party structure and the ‘undemocratic’ dictatorship of the party. Nor how the Communist International does not for a moment abandon the world revolution, striving to use every means at its disposal to prepare and organize it, while the Russian workers’ state simultaneously tries to promote peace with the imperialist powers and the maximum participation of imperialist capitalism in Russia’s economic construction. It cannot understand why the party stubbornly preserves its internal cohesion and most energetically pursues its ideological and organizational consolidation, while the economic policy of the Soviet Republic anxiously safeguards from any erosion that alliance with the peasants to which it owes its existence – thus seeming to opportunists increasingly to be a peasant state, sacrificing its proletarian character, etc., etc. The mechanistic rigidity of undialectical thought is incapable of understanding that these contradictions are the objective, essential contradictions of the present period’; that the Russian Communist Party’s policy, Lenin’s policy, is only contradictory in so far as it seeks and finds the dialectically correct solutions to the objective contradictions of its own social existence.
Thus the analysis of Lenin’s policy always leads us back to the basic question of dialectical method. His whole life-work is the consistent application of the Marxist dialectic to the ever-changing, perpetually new phenomena of an immense period of transition. But because the dialectic is not a finished theory to be applied mechanically to all the phenomena of life but only exists as theory in and through this application^ Lenin’s practice gives it a broader, more complete and theoretically more developed form than it had when he inherited it from Marx and Engels.
It is therefore completely justifiable to speak of Leninism as a new phase in the development of the materialist dialectic. Lenin not only re-established the purity of Marxist doctrine after decades of decline and distortion by vulgar Marxism, but he developed, concretized, and matured the method itself. If it is now the task of Communists to continue in Lenin’s footsteps, this can only be fruitful if they attempt to establish the same active relation to him as he had to Marx. The nature and content of this activity are determined by the problems and tasks with which history confronts Marxism. Its success is determined by the degree of proletarian class-consciousness in the party which leads the working class. Leninism means that the theory of historical materialism has moved still nearer the daily battles of the proletariat, that it has become more practical than it could be at the time of Marx. The Leninist tradition can therefore only mean the undistorted and flexible preservation of this living and enlivening, growing and creative function of historical materialism. That is why – we repeat -Lenin must be studied by Communists in the same spirit as he studied Marx. He must be studied in order to learn how to apply the dialectic; to learn how to discover, by concrete analysis of concrete situations, the specific in the general and the general in the specific; to see in the novelty of a situation what connects it with former developments; to observe the perpetually new phenomena constantly produced under the laws of historical development; to detect the part in the whole and the whole in the part; to find in historical necessity the moment of activity and in activity the connection with historical necessity.
Leninism represents a hitherto unprecedented degree of concrete, unschematic, unmechanistic, purely praxis-oriented thought. To preserve this is the task of the Leninist. But, in the historical process, only what develops in living fashion can be preserved. Such a preservation of the Leninist tradition is today the noblest duty of all serious believers in the dialectic as a weapon in the class struggle of the proletariat.