By Nikos Mottas*.
It was in the dawn of January 21, 1924, 93 years ago, when the heart of the greatest revolutionary in history, Vladimir Ilyich Ulyanov, stopped beating. Lenin, the leader of the 1917 Great October Socialist Revolution and architect of the first socialist state in the world, was 54 years old.
The name of Vladimir Ilyich Lenin is identified with two dialectically connected issues. On the one hand, there is his revolutionary activity and practice as the leader of the 20th century's most significant event- the 1917 Great October Socialist Revolution. On the other hand, there is his theoretical work which is the development of the revolutionary theory of Marx and Engels in the era of Imperialism. That extraordinary combination of revolutionary theory and practice makes Lenin a unique personality in history who, 93 years after his death, remains “alive” in the collective memory and hearts of the working class people across the world.
Led by Lenin, the Bolshevik Party became the protagonist of the class struggle of the Russian proletariat and the other oppressed popular strata, especially the poor peasants. The revolutionary activity of the Bolsheviks led to the victory of the proletariat with the Great October Socialist Revolution and opened the way for the building of Socialism for the first time in history. The leadership of Vladimir I. Lenin not only marked the guiding role of the Communist Party for the seizure of power but, furthermore, put the basis for the construction of Socialism.
The scientific work of V.I.Lenin consists a real treasure for the international communist movement. Because, through his work, Lenin developed and extended all the components of Marxism- in philosophy, political economy and scientific communism. His theoretical elaborations and assumptions for Imperialism- as the highest stage of Capitalism- are today exceptionally timely and valuable for the working class and the communist parties.
Lenin was a staunch opponent of every revisionist or reformist distortion of the revolutionary theory. He himself regarded the fight against opportunism as a fundamental prerequisite for the victory of the socialist revolution and, on the same time, he stood against the so-called “leftism”, the pseudo-revolutionary rhetoric and adventurism.
What distinguishes Lenin from other Marxists of his era is the fact that he was not limited to a generalized critique of Capitalism, nor he resorted in repeating the major assumptions included in Karl Marx's “Das Kapital”. Lenin utilized the fundamental tendencies of capitalism, which had already been described by Marx and Engels, in order to analyze and identify the major features of capitalism in the historical period of the First World War. The Leninist theory not only explained thoroughly the characteristics of monopoly capitalism but, furthermore, became the theoretical guide which shaped the victorious revolutionary strategy of the 1917 October Revolution.
Vladimir Lenin's extraordinary work “Imperialism: the highest stage ofcapitalism” is today more timely than ever. Lenin revealed that in order to successfully exploit the inter-imperialist contradictions there are two major key conditions: first, the independence of the revolutionary vanguard of the working class (Communist Party) from the aims and objectives of any imperialist alliance and secondly, the stable strategic orientation of the Communist Parties towards the revolutionary overthrow of the domestic bourgeois class, both in period of imperialist war or imperialist peacetime. The above has an immense significance if we take into account today's inter-imperialist contradictions and rivalries between various centers (e.g. USA, EU, Russia, China etc) in the Middle East and elsewhere. The activity of the Bolsheviks which led to the victory of the 1917 October Revolution consists a great example- it proved in practice that the working class movement in every country must not be entrapped in the objectives of the local bourgeois class, nor it should follow the aims of any of the competing imperialist centers.
Today, 100 years since the Great October Socialist Revolution and 93 years since the biological death, Vladimir Lenin's legacy remains glorious. The counter-revolutionary overthrows in the Soviet Union and the socialist countries in eastern Europe in 1989-1991 gave the opportunity to various imperialists and apologists of the bourgeoisie to launch slanderous attacks against Lenin and to vilify Socialism-Communism. They even tried to anticipate the ideological “death” and the “failure” of Marxism-Leninism, proclaiming the so-called... “end of history”. However, History herself refuted them. The decay of Capitalism, which creates extreme poverty, social inequalities, unemployment and bloody wars, proves that Marxism-Leninism not only is alive, but returns to the fore as the only actually beneficial for the people exit from capitalist barbarity.
Despite his biological death on the 21st of January 1924, Vladimir Ilyich Lenin- the greatest revolutionary of the 20th century- will always be “alive” in the minds and hearts of the world's working men and women and of every person who fights for a better future, for the abolition of the exploitation of man by man, for Socialism-Communism.
"Thank you, Lenin,
for the energy and the teachings,
thank you for the firmness,
thank you for the Leningrad and the steppes.
Thank you, Lenin,
for the hope."
- Pablo Neruda, Ode to Lenin.
*Nikos Mottas is the Editor-in-Chief of In Defense of Communism, a PhD candidate in Political Science, International Relations and Political History.