The Vulgarisation of Marxism by the Opportunists: The State and Revolution

by Vladimir Lenin

The question of the relation of the state to the social revolution, and of the social revolution to the state, like the question of revolution generally, was given very little attention by the leading theoreticians and publicists of the Second International (1889-1914). But the most characteristic thing about the process of the gradual growth of opportunism that led to the collapse of the Second International in 1914 is the fact that even when these people were squarely faced with this question they tried to evade it or ignored it.

In general, it may be said that evasiveness over the question of the relation of the proletarian revolution to the state–an evasiveness which benefited and fostered opportunism–resulted in the distortion of Marxism and in its complete vulgarization.

To characterize this lamentable process, if only briefly, we shall take the most prominent theoreticians of Marxism: Plekhanov and Kautsky.

1. Plekhanov’ s Controversy with the Anarchists

Plekhanov wrote a special pamphlet on the relation of anarchism to socialism, entitled Anarchism and Socialism, which was published in German in 1894.

Georgi Plekhanov

In treating this subject, Plekhanov contrived completely to evade the most urgent, burning, and most politically essential issue in the struggle against anarchism, namely, the relation of the revolution to the state, and the question of the state in general! Continue reading

No Move Left for NDP

People’s Voice Editorial

     With Thomas Mulcair as the new leader of the NDP, it appears that Canada’s mass social democratic party will likely continue its long-term drift to the political centre. In fact, none of the seven candidates who made it to the ballot were clearly associated with strong left positions, even on issues where working people favour a move towards genuine progressive reforms.

For example, a growing majority of voters support increased taxes on the wealthy and the corporations, to help shift the tax burden from the needy to the greedy and to help pay for vital social programs. Yet no NDP leadership candidate made more than a timid gesture in this direction. Nor did any of them mention the need for public ownership of critical economic sectors such as the energy industry – even though nearly half of Canadians back such a demand, according to surveys over recent years.

Mulcair brings a particularly poor record on issues of peace and war to his new post. Canada already has a viciously anti-Palestinian Prime Minister, and now we also have an Official Opposition leader who has been vehemently pro-Israel in his public statements. Nor did Mr. Mulcair raise any objection to the Harper government’s aggressive militarist foreign policy. The NDP has shifted from its identification with the anti-war movement of a decade ago, into the camp of those who support imperialist interventions in the name of “humanitarian intervention.”

None of this is any big surprise – the NDP has been on a trajectory away from left policies for many years. But those who counsel “keeping our powder dry” by blocking attempts to mobilize public opposition against the Harper Tories – so that we can elect an NDP government in 2015 – are making a huge mistake. More than ever, the main focus of opposition to the Tory/corporate agenda must be extraparliamentary, in our workplaces and communities.