(socialismoryourmoneyback.blogspot.com) An online poll organised by United Russia, the ruling party of Prime Minister Vladimir Putin. suggests there is strong support for burying Lenin’s body. Of more than 250,000 people who have voted in the poll, two-thirds so far say Lenin should now be buried. The revolutionary leader’s embalmed body has been on display in a mausoleum in Red Square in Moscow since his death in 1924. It is believed that Lenin’s personal wish was to be buried alongside his mother but Stalin decided on mummification and diefication.
The Socialist Standard obituary from 1924 of Lenin can be read here
SOYMB not only concurs with the majority opinion of this poll but adds that we also wish to bury Lenin’s political legacy with him. Lenin’s elitism was consistent with the outlook of the Second International. The difference between Kautsky and Lenin here was over who was to lead the workers beyond “trade-union consciousness”, though historically Lenin’s interpretation that this should be a vanguard party of professional revolutionaries has been more influential. By contrast, the Socialist Party repudiated leadership as a political principle and insisted that the emancipation of the working class really had to be the work of the working class itself.
Marx’s theory of socialist revolution is grounded on the fundamental principle that “the emancipation of the working class must be the work of the working class itself”. Marx held to this view throughout his entire forty years of socialist political activity, and it distinguished his theory of social change from that of both those who appealed to the princes, governments and industrialists to change the world for the benefit of the working class (such as Robert Owen and Saint Simon) and of those who relied on the determined action of some enlightened minority of professional revolutionaries to liberate the working class (such as Buonarotti, Blanqui and Weitling). At first the movement of the working class would be, Marx believed, unconscious and unorganised but in time, as the workers gained more experience of the class struggle and the workings of capitalism, it would become more consciously socialist and democratically organised by the workers themselves. The emergence of socialist understanding out of the experience of the workers could thus be said to be “spontaneous” in the sense that it would require no intervention by people outside the working class to bring it about. Socialist propaganda and agitation would indeed be necessary but would come to be carried out by workers themselves whose socialist ideas would have been derived from an interpretation of their class experience of capitalism. The end result would be an independent movement of the socialist-minded and democratically organised working class aimed at winning control of political power in order to abolish capitalism.
Lenin’s greatest positive achievement was getting Russia out of the bloody futility of World War One, something that the Socialist Party acknowledged at the time. The Socialist Party was the only British organisation to publish the Bolsheviks’ anti-war declaration during the war.The Bolsheviks promised peace and – to their highest credit- established it. That this peace has been broken and they have been compelled to take up war again is due entirely to the imperialist aims of the capitalist class of Europe. The trouble really started when claims about the “socialist” nature of Russia began to be aired, first within Russia then in the Communist parties being formed around the world. The false claims about Russian “socialism” are largely derived from Lenin’s opportunism as he distorted Marxism – working class socialist theory. In this country, the Socialist Party always denied that socialism existed in Russia (or anywhere else) or that Russia was on a transition towards socialism.
For its anti-democratic elitism and its advocacy of an irrelevant transitional society misnamed “socialism”, in theory and in practice, Leninism today deserves the hostility of workers everywhere. Lenin seriously distorted Marxism and thereby severely damaged the development of the socialist movement. Indeed, Leninism still continues to pose a real obstacle to the achievement of socialism. The Bolshevik seizure of power in Russia put the clock back in the sense that before the First World War the radical wing of the international Social Democratic movement was making progress towards positions similar to those of the Socialist Party in Britain but, after 1917, most of those involved were side-tracked into supporting the Bolsheviks. For many this was only a temporary dalliance, but the damage had been done. Crucially, when they were to break with the Bolshevik regime they did not entirely break with the Bolsheviks’ ideas, regarding themselves as “left-wing communists” as they called themselves; in particular they accepted that the Russian revolution had been some sort of “working-class” revolution which had gone wrong but which still had some positive lessons for workers in the rest of Europe.
There is a wide chasm between the views of Marx and those of Lenin in their understanding of the nature of socialism, of how it would be achieved and of the manner of its administration. Marx’s vision is a stateless, classless and moneyless society which, by its nature, could only come to fruition when a conscious majority wanted it and wherein the affairs of the human family would be democratically administered. A form of social organisation in which people would voluntarily contribute their skills and abilities in exchange for the freedom of living in a society that guarantees their needs and wherein the poverty, repression and violence of capitalism would have no place.