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

Socialism in Indian Conditions: Draft Ideological Resolution of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)

8.1   Our Party Programme defines the strategy of the Indian revolution that enjoins upon us to complete the democratic stage of the revolution, i.e., people’s democratic revolution as the precursor for the socialist transformation in India.

8.2   The updated Party Programme elaborately deals with the formation of the people’s democratic front that will lead the people’s democratic revolution under the leadership of the working class and also the programme of the people’s democratic front. Crucial in achieving this is the strengthening of the ‘subjective factor’ which, in turn, amongst others, depends on the effective use of parliamentary and extra parliamentary means of struggle and the building of the worker-peasant alliance. The necessary tactics are worked out from time to time which dovetail our strategic objective of changing the correlation of forces amongst the Indian people towards strengthening the class struggles for the people’s democratic revolution. Continue reading

Trotsky’s Day in Court

by Harry Haywood

Apart from our academic courses, we received our first tutelage in Leninism and the history of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union in the heat of the inner-party struggle then raging between Trotsky and the majority of the Central Committee led by Stalin. We KUTVA students were not simply bystanders, but were active participants in the struggle. Most students — and all of our group from the U.S. — were ardent supporters of Stalin and the Central Committee majority.

It had not always been thus. Otto told me that in 1924, a year before he arrived, a majority of the students in the school had been supporters of Trotsky. Trotsky was making a play for the Party youth, in opposition to the older Bolshevik stalwarts. With his usual demagogy, he claimed that the old leadership was betraying the revolution and had embarked on a course of “Thermidorian reaction.”1 In this situation, he said, the students and youth were “the Party’s truest barometer.”2

But by the time the Black American students arrived, the temporary attraction to Trotsky had been reversed. The issues involved in the struggle with Trotsky were discussed in the school. They involved the destiny of socialism in the Soviet Union. Which way were the Soviet people to go? What was to be the direction of their economic development? Was it possible to build a socialist economic system? These questions were not only theoretical ones, but were issues of life and death. The economic life of the country would not stand still and wait while they were being debated. Continue reading

Six Fundamental Characteristics of a Communist Party

by Alvaro Cunhal, Portuguese Communist Party   

Editors’ note:  Several months ago, MLT posted Hans-Peter Brenner’s article from the German weekly, Junge Welt, “Of Saviors and Liquidators: V. I. Lenin, Alvaro Cunhal, Sam Webb.”  It cited portions of a 2001 article by Alvaro Cunhal, “Six Fundamental Characteristics of a Communist Party.”

We are grateful to Marcel Hostettler, a Swiss reader, for pointing out that the full article is available in English at the PCP web site: http://www.pcp.pt/en/”six-fundamental-characteristics-communist-party”-álvaro-cunhal. 

Below is a translation of Alvaro Cunhal’s presentation sent to the International Meeting on “Vigencia y Actualización del Marxismo,” [The Validity and Renewal of Marxism] organized by the Rodney Arismendi Foundation, in Montevideo, Uruguay, September 15, 2001
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The 20th century will forever be marked by the 1917 Russian revolution, by the political power of the proletariat and the lasting construction, for the first time in history, of a society without exploiters or exploited. Continue reading