Vladimir Lenin

How not to quote Lenin

Published on: Wed, 12/06/2019 - 09:08

John Ryan

“The October Revolution is an imperishable page in the history of the great movements of the masses to take their destiny into their own hands that began with the French Revolution.

“It was the second stage of the elemental upsurge of the Russian masses that began in February.

“The Kerensky regime had done its utmost to block its further advance by frustrating the efforts of the masses to end the war and divide the land. The regime sought to stretch out its undemocratic authority as long as possible by repeatedly postponing the elections of a Constituent Assembly. If the revolution was to

Bolshevism, the civil war, and after

Published on: Wed, 27/02/2019 - 11:18

Barry Finger

Review of In Defence of Bolshevism, £12 including UK postage. Purchase here.

Mass socialist parties, trade unions, workers councils and organs of struggle are places for debate, discussion, deliberation and opposition, where, ideally, everything is openly evaluated. Their functionality requires constituencies free to transmit their will to the administrators of power, not only within these organisations themselves but also to the broader institutions and arenas in which they participate.

The organisation is where members safeguard themselves by providing for the recall of those who fail to

In defence of Ernest Erber

Published on: Wed, 05/12/2018 - 10:35

Alan Johnson

Russia was ruled by 130,000 landowners. They ruled by means of constant force over 150 million people … And yet we are told that Russia will not be able to be governed by 240,000 members of the Bolshevik Party – governing in the interests of the poor and against the rich. – V.I. Lenin, Will the Bolsheviks Retain State Power?, 1917

In 1948, after he spent a year thinking it over, Ernest Erber submitted an 18,000 word resignation letter to the US Workers Party, a small group of mostly young, mostly Jewish (one early internal bulletin carried the subhead “Out To The Gentiles!”), and

Georgi Plekhanov

Published on: Fri, 23/11/2018 - 12:00

John Cunningham

Before the year 2018 reaches its end, the 100th anniversary of the death of Georgi Plekhanov should be noted and remembered. He is sometimes referred to as the “father” of Russian Marxism, and for good reason.

Plekhanov was the most important figure in the early Russian Marxist movement, a major theorist and voice in the Second International; and, as a member of the editorial board of Iskra, a collaborator with Lenin in the first years of the twentieth century.

Plekhanov and Lenin were to go their separate ways. By the time of the October Revolution in 1917 Plekhanov had moved considerably to

Marx and Marxism (as summarised by Lenin)

Published on: Mon, 27/08/2018 - 08:47

Vladimir Ilyich Lenin

Karl Marx was an activist and writer, who started off as a radical democrat fighting the Prussian monarchy and the established religion of his time and from the mid 1840s until his death in 1883 became a leading figure in the socialist movement.

The idea of socialism had circulated as an ideal and a speculation long before Marx. Socialism as a political or quasi-political movement originated in the early 19th century. When Marx was a young man, it was growing in vigour and fame, but was still made up of a chaotic scattering of groups with very varied notions of how their more-or-less-shared

What is "democratic centralism"?

Published on: Sun, 12/08/2018 - 11:43

Martin Thomas

In our view, "democratic centralism" means a democratic organisation cohesive enough it can act collectively, and promptly in crises, and with a continuously active rather than passive or only occasionally active membership.

All the rest is detail, and can change according to circumstances.

Some other groups on the left, including the anti-Stalinist left, interpret "democratic centralism" more in the style of the "monoliths" imposed on Communist Parties under the slogan of "Bolshevisation" by Zinoviev in 1924-5, or even of the later Stalinist super-monolithism.

In contrast, it is written into

REVIEW: An honest opponent of “pseudo-anti-imperialism”

Published on: Wed, 08/08/2018 - 11:13

Paul Hampton

Rohini Hensman’s book is a welcome intervention into debates on the international socialist left.

Above all it is a damning indictment of the state of those broad sections of the left, especially in Britain, who have embraced a negative, anti-Western, anti-US, “pseudo-anti-imperialism” — a politics that is also effectively pro-imperialist (of Russia, China, Iran), anti-democratic, anti-liberatory and ultimately anti-working class.

The central locus of the book is the conflict in Syria, where much of the left has been utterly wretched. But Hensman probes deeper, criticising the Russian and

The Bolsheviks, Stalin and science

Published on: Tue, 01/05/2018 - 22:03

Les Hearn

In the discussions prompted by centenary of the first workers’ government, little has been said about the Bolsheviks and their science policies.

This series of articles about Marxism, the Bolsheviks, Stalin, and science draws, amongst other sources, on Simon Ings’ recent book Stalin and the Scientists,1 Douglas R Weiner’s book Models of Nature,2 and Loren R Graham’s Lysenko’s Ghost.3
“No previous government in history was so openly and energetically in favor of science. …[it] saw the natural sciences as the answer to both the spiritual and physical problems of Russia” (Graham quoted).1


Pulling it down: No gods, no cults

Published on: Wed, 28/02/2018 - 12:09

Dan Katz

In his piece in the anthology The God That Failed the anti-Stalinist socialist Ignazio Silone tells of a conversation in Moscow with Lazar Schatzky, a leader of the Russian Communist Youth.

They were in Red Square, not far from the tomb of Lenin, in the late 20s: “[I] pointed to the tomb, which was still made of wood at that time, and before which we used every day to see an interminable procession of poor ragged peasants slowly filing… ‘You must admit with me that this superstitious cult of his mummy is an insult to his memory and a disgrace to a revolutionary city like Moscow.’ I suggested

Glory o, glory o, to the bold Bolsheviks

Published on: Wed, 15/11/2017 - 11:22

Sean Matgamna

The Russian Revolution has had all sorts of things grafted onto the image it projects to us. But what was it in reality?

In the revolution, the workers and the farmers — and the soldiers who were mainly peasants — revolted against the ruling classes and the war. This was a tremendously democratic movement. It was a movement that created soviets, that is workers’ councils. No powerful state made the revolution. It was the people, the workers, the red guards in St Petersburg and Moscow, the factory militias. What they thought they were doing was liberating themselves from all future class rule.

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