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The Militant, 19 January 1929


Lenin Day

From The Militant, No. II No. 2, 19 Janaury 1929, p. 1.
Transcribed by Jan Leder.
Marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for ETOL.


“Marx’s doctrines are now undergoing the same fate, which, more than once in the course of history, has befallen the doctrines of other revolutionary thinkers and leaders of oppressed classes struggling for their emancipation (...) At the present time (...) the opportunists within the labor movement are cooperating in this work of adulterating Marxism. They omit, obliterate, and distort the revolutionary side of its teaching, its revolutionary soul (...)” – Lenin

Like Marx, Lenin has been unable to escape the distortions and revisions of his “disciples”. The five years that have passed since his death have witnessed the corrosive effects of adding to the sound metal of Bolshevism the base alloys supplied by the epigones. The revolutionary content and essence of Leninism has been diluted to conform with the theoretical needs of the ruling opportunist bureaucracy in the movement. The task of Bolshevism at the present time is to maintain the banner of Lenin in the face of the open and concealed attacks of the revisionists in every guise.

What was national in Lenin – his decades-long struggle to conquer power for the Russian working class and maintain it – was an integral and subordinate part of his internationalism. More than anyone else Lenin led a relentless battle against international social democracy and chauvinism, firing into its ranks the mighty artillery of Marxism, until he was able to build upon its defeat the basic structure of the international revolutionary movement, the Communist International. It was visualized by him not as an instrument whose main task it would become to defend the first workers’ state from the military intervention of the capitalist wolves encircling it so that a national socialism might be “successfully” erected there, but as a world proletarian army which, while ardently and unyieldingly defending the Soviet republic as its first victory and fortress, doggedly subordinated everything to the main problem of learning and applying successfully the art of insurrection against the bourgeoisie in the rest of the world. The timely aid of the proletarian revolution in Europe, America and the East was for Lenin and remains for us the extension of revolutionary front beyond the borders of Russia as the surest guarantee of the victory of the socialism.

The genius of Lenin gave the Communist movement the weapon of the united front as a method of mobilizing the proletariat in a struggle against the bourgeoisie and its social democratic and nationalist agents, not as an excuse for alliance with these bourgeois lieutenants so that the Communist party is converted into a brake upon the revolutionary temper of the masses, as occurred in Germany in 1923, in England in 1926 and in China in 1927. Fortunate are those false “disciples” of Lenin, the authors of the Berlin and Paris agreements of the Anglo-Russian Committee, the capitulators to Chiang Kai-Chek and Wang Chin-Wei, who by their policies robbed the Communist Parties of their revolutionary independence and deprived the struggle of its genuinely revolutionary content! Lenin alive would have branded them with the same vigor and contempt that he lashed the faint-hearts and worse than faint-hearts on the eve of the Russian October.

Lenin’s revolutionary wisdom gave the New Economic Policy to the young Soviet republic as an instrument of strengthening the socialist elements in the country in a period of a retarded world revolutionary movement, of binding the alliance of the proletariat with the masses of the toiling peasantry. Under regime of the epigones it is becoming a chart for steering the course of the revolution towards the right, towards the fatal magnet of the “economically powerful peasant” – the Kulak, towards a policy of concessions to foreign capital which Lenin new only to oppose.

Lenin’s dictum that socialism and capitalism cannot live side by side is substituted by “assuring” conference speeches by Russia’s representatives that there is no reason why these two systems cannot work together peacefully. His masterful Theses of Instructions to Our Delegation at the Hague, so characteristic of him in its incisive laying bare of all pacifist illusions, is discarded for the new diplomacy of Russia’s agreement with the Kellogg pact which only hampers the Communist struggle to expose its hypocritical pacifist-imperialist purpose.

Lenin cautioned the Party a thousand times that the chief enemy of the working class –of which the Communist Party is an inseparable part – is opportunism. His mightiest blows were delivered against it. In the struggle against it Bolshevism took shape and developed. Today the arsenal of the temporary leaders of the Communist International is not only not directed against opportunism but against the Leninist Left, and opportunism itself has been installed in high places.

After the death of Marx, the opportunists in the Second International denounced the revolutionary fighters who remained true to Marxism as Blanquists and Bakuninists. After the death of Lenin, the opportunists in the Communist International denounce the banner-bearers of Leninism ... as Trotskyists. Behind this sham cry the Stalins and Bucharins conceal their own vulgarization of Lenin’s teachings. Lenin said about Marx and other great revolutionaries: “After their death, however, attempts are usually made to turn them into harmless saints, canonizing them, as it were, and investing their name with a certain halo by way of ‘consolation’ to the oppressed classes, and with the object of duping them; while at the same time emasculating and vulgarizing the real essence of their revolutionary theories and blunting their revolutionary edge.” This is now true of Lenin himself.

The real essence of Lenin’s revolutionary theories will not be emasculated for the Opposition led by Trotsky are their vigilant guard and most unyielding defenders. The opportunists have been unable to convince the revolutionary fighters of the world that these Bolsheviks “have betrayed Lenin”, for there is no proof in existence with which to convince revolutionaries.

Those who cannot defeat Trotsky and the Opposition on the basis of their present struggle are forced to resort to the miserable subterfuge of digging in the ash-heaps of history to find differences that Lenin had with Trotsky twenty years ago. And it is true that Lenin had differences with Trotsky and that Trotsky came to Bolshevism. But it is the literal truth that’s Lenin’s differences with Trotsky prior to the October revolution and even afterwards, added all together and doubled, are as nothing compared to the divergence between Leninism and the policies and line of the present leadership of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union and the Communist International.

Those who fight for Lenin’s teachings, who are the remorseless opponents of all opportunism and revisionism, who remain international revolutionaries, are expelled from Lenin’s Party, denounced and slandered. In the Soviet Union, they are imprisoned and exiled, and at the head of the exiles stands, unvanquished and still triumphant, the living legend of world Bolshevism, Trotsky.

Trotsky in exile today is Lenin in exile! Trotsky expelled is Lenin expelled!

It is our shame that the Lenin memorial meetings this year are transformed by the official Party apparatus into a mobilization of the revolutionary workers against “Trotskyism”, against those who really defend the power and the teachings of Lenin. The opportunists have now their brief moment of mastery.

We are fortified in our convictions and in our struggle by the knowledge that the wisdom and strength of Lenin lies in the fact that he was chosen by history to make history; that he was the highest expression of the struggle of the world’s most progressive class which liberates all humanity by freeing itself; that his teaching and his work have been written into the final chapter of a centuries-long world epoch. Those who fight for Leninism, for the victory of the proletarian revolution, are clearing the road that leads to a new era of history. Those who fight for the Opposition, in spite of contumely, persecution and temporary set-backs, are building the permanent, living memorial to Lenin.

The triumph of the Opposition is the triumph of Leninism!

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