Vladimir Lenin

Studying Lenin's What Is To Be Done?

We'll be studying Lenin's What Is To Be Done? in the context of Lars Lih's commentary in Lenin Rediscovered, Thursdays 8pm (UTC+1) from 15 April to 27 May inclusive. Sign up on Eventbrite Zoomlink https://us02web.zoom.us/j/81679399952?pwd=WW9lRzF1M1l4VVVsWTZVOFdyTS84dz09 Study guide: click here to download as docx, and here to download as pdf. Please read the texts indicated as reading for the first session before you join the course. Schedule Session 1: Models and adversaries Reading: Extracts – German SPD model, Bernstein’s revisionism and Russian socialism before WITBD. Click here to...

How the Bolsheviks governed

The 1917 October Russian revolution produced the world’s first workers’ state. But how did the Bolsheviks govern? Historian Lara Douds has mined state and party archives in Moscow to produce an excellent book, Inside Lenin's Government: Ideology, Power and Practice in the Early Soviet State (2018) on how the central apparatus operated. In the early period of Soviet power, the Council of People’s Commissars (Sovnarkom) rather than party bodies governed. Douds argues that “in no way could the party central committee be viewed as the effective government of the nascent Soviet regime. Instead, it...

Video: What is the state?

"What is the state?" an introduction by Matt Cooper. This is part of "The ABCs of Marxism" series of meetings, and also the first in "The state, crime, prisons and the police" series of meetings (part two in the latter series here). Upcoming meetings in both series and beyond can be found here. Video: .ytcontainer { position: relative; width: 100%; height: 0; padding-bottom: 56.25%; } .ytvideo { position: absolute; top: 0; left: 0; width: 100%; height: 100%; } Watch the playlist of introductory speeches from the ABCs of Marxism (some recorded only) by clicking in the top right of the video...

Lenin on war economy and socialism

World War One, like the Covid-19 pandemic, pushed capitalist governments into "socialistic" measures of public control of economic life. World War Two would do so even more. And by then governments in Britain and the USA, having to deal with stronger labour movements and sorely remembering the revolutionary tumults at the end of and after World War One, conceded a stronger "social" element and more liberties in their state control of economic life. Writing in October 1917, Lenin presented his working-class socialist programme as a "revolutionary-democratic" going-forward from that state...

How not to quote Lenin

“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..."

Bolshevism, the civil war, and after

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...

Georgi Plekhanov

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)

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"?

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...

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