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by Bob Gould
Thursday, Mar. 18, 2004 at 10:36 PM
A Critique of Doug Lorimer's article, in Links (No. 24, pp. 96-112), on "Leninism" and a few suggestions as to what an organisation
drawing the useful lessons of Lenin's activity, experience and writings, might look like in modern conditions. How we might possibly
get there from the present situation of a proliferation of Marxist sects.
"It is true that prior to the October Revolution Lenin had agitated
for [a] strictly disciplined party of professional revolutionaries as
the condition sine qua non for the conquest and maintenance of power.
Nevertheless, throughout his career, including the five years of his
active life after the victory of October, Lenin never managed to
organize such a "monolithic" party. Nor was it ever more than a pious
wish with him which he constantly violated. Bolshevism, born of
polemics and factionalism, flourished throughout the twenty years of
its Leninist period on arguments and dissensions. It was only after
Lenin's death, after Stalin's ruthless police measures had strangled
the Bolshevik party, after the red colour of pulsing life had been
drained from its veins, that it assumed the rigidity of a mummified
L. Trotsky, Trotsky's Notebooks, 1933-35, Writings on Lenin,
Dialectics and Evolutionism, Philip Pomper and Yuri Felshtinsky, pp.
27-28. This book, by Pomper and Felshtinsky, is a very important
piece of original scholarly research. The two editors have done a
very systematic job of collating Trotsky's notes from 1933-35, which
are in the Trotsky papers at Harvard University. These notes
particularly relate to matters of philosophy and natural science, and
to Trotsky's attitude to Lenin during the period when he was
preparing to write a major biography of Lenin, which unfortunately
never happened. The notes from Trotsky's papers give considerable
insight into Trotsky's thinking about events in which he had been an
"The day before the conference, we arranged a meeting of the active
workers of the Helsingfors Committee, at which we decided on the
general plan for conducting the conference and also on the agenda. It
was decided to propose S.A. Garin as chairman of the conference, as
he was the most prominent and best known figure in Helsingfors. But
as Garin could not be present at the conference all the time, it was
decided to put the general guidance of the conference in my hands by
electing me as deputy chairman.
"In the Committee, there were two points of view on the question of
the political situation, one more moderate, approaching the point of
view of Comrade Kamenev at that time, and the other more
revolutionary, based on the famous thesis published by Lenin
immediately on his arrival from abroad. The representative of the
first point of view was Kirill Orlov, and of the second, Antipov. In
order to deal with all sides of this most important point of the
agenda, it was decided to have both points of view submitted, and let
these two speakers deal with the question.
"The conference opened the next day in the hall of the house of the
Governor-General. A large number of delegates was present. There were
representatives from almost every ship stationed in Helsingfors.
There were also many guests among whom was the figure now well known
to me -- the notorious Khilyani [Khilyani was a Menshevik]. However,
this time he discreetly kept in the background."
A. Ilyin-Genevsky, From February to October, pp. 41-42. (Published in
English in the Soviet Union, c.1926)
The above observation by Trotsky in the mid-1930s, in which he draws
harsh lessons from the development of Stalinism, is in sharp conflict
with the lessons drawn by Doug Lorimer in Links, 24. Ilyin-Genevsky's
account of the relatively public Helsingfors conference of the
military supporters of the Bolshevik Party adds further weight to
Trotsky's case. That was the party that led the revolution in all its
turbulent, contradictory development.
The discussion of Marxist organisation is not exactly new territory.
Nevertheless, on a world scale we are now in a position to illuminate
general theories of "Leninism" from the common practices and
experiences of dozens of "Leninist" groups, organisations and
parties. This historical record stretches from the time of the first
codification of "Leninist" doctrine, essentially by Zinoviev in the
early to mid-1920s, through its counter-revolutionary Stalinist
perversion, to the experience of various modern "Leninist" sects, up
to the present. It's a singular tribute to the revolutionary memory
of Lenin and Trotsky, and lesser, but still important,
revolutionaries such as James P. Cannon and Zinoviev, that across the
planet, militants of organisations large and small, and numerous
individuals, should be discussing their organisational ideas and
political perspectives with intense enthusiasm.
Also attached is a bibliography of important books on Lenin and Leninism.
This article also contains a discussion of a recent upheaval in the
DSP youth group, Resistance, and a current dispute in the Australian
Socialist Alliance. In two parts, Part II to follow soon.
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LATEST COMMENTS ABOUT THIS ARTICLE
Listed below are the 10 latest comments of 13 posted about this article.
These comments are anonymously submitted by the website visitors.
|I don't know why anyone would be interested in Lenin
||Friday, Mar. 19, 2004 at 5:00 PM
|again with the history interpretation.
||Friday, Mar. 19, 2004 at 5:18 PM
||Friday, Mar. 19, 2004 at 6:50 PM
|Hard to believe anyone still touts Lenin
||Friday, Mar. 19, 2004 at 7:36 PM
| Lenin invented the terror state
||Friday, Mar. 19, 2004 at 7:46 PM
||Walker, Texas Plumber
||Friday, Mar. 19, 2004 at 7:57 PM
|ahh our OTHER village moron speaks
||faintly amused by morons
||Friday, Mar. 19, 2004 at 8:08 PM
|IMAGINE NO LIBERALS
||Friday, Mar. 19, 2004 at 9:04 PM
||Saturday, Mar. 20, 2004 at 5:25 AM
|all hail marx and lennon
||Saturday, Mar. 20, 2004 at 8:06 AM
||simply not true
||Saturday, Mar. 20, 2004 at 8:46 AM
|humour in touch
||Saturday, Mar. 20, 2004 at 4:05 PM
||Saturday, Mar. 20, 2004 at 9:51 PM
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