- Continuity, intransigence, bindingness and publicity.
Bolshevism as a political trend and political party came to life beginning from 1903. The whole history of Lenin’s party is the history of struggle with the ideological trends that were hostile to the basic interests of the working class: with Narodniks and Economists, with opportunism in a general meaning of this word, with Otzovists, Liquidators, with leftists, Trotskyism and with many other forms of bourgeois ideology’s influence over the workers’ movement.
In his book “Left-Wing Communism: an Infantile Disorder “ Lenin answers the following question: the struggle against which enemies within the working-class movement helped bolshevism to develop, gain strength, and become steeled. «First and foremost, the struggle against opportunism which in 1914 definitely developed into social-chauvinism and definitely sided with the bourgeoisie, against the proletariat. Naturally, this was Bolshevism’s principal enemy within the working-class movement. It still remains the principal enemy on an international scale. This Lenin’s assessment of opportunism as the main enemy of the workers’ movement has not only retained its topicality, but has recently become even more important as the modern bourgeoisie has taken opportunism that used to be a simple means of conciliation and turned it into their controlled weapon manifesting itself in open apostasy and in revision of the theory. The necessity and uncompromising position in the fight with opportunism are proved by this statement of Lenin: «the fight against imperialism is a sham and humbug unless it is inseparably bound up with the fight against opportunism»11.
Most often both opportunists of the past and the modern ones suggest that one should abstain from criticism under the pretext of the concern for the unity of the party’s ranks. This way they defended Gorbachev, suggesting that the weapon of criticism should be directed against Eltsyn. Now they defend Zyuganov and CPRF saying that the weapon should be directed against Putin etc. We are all communists, they say, we all have the same Red Banner and stand for Socialism. Regarding this issue as early as in 1914 Lenin gave an exhausting answer in his article “Unity”: «Unity is a great thing and a great slogan. But what the workers’ cause needs is the unity of Marxists, not unity between Marxists, and opponents and distorters of Marxism».12
We should mention that when dealing with the distorters of Marxism Lenin was not only just severe, but cruel and ruthless to the degree when he was ready to morally humiliate them:
«Either the dictatorship of the bourgeoisie (masked by ornate Socialist-Revolutionary and Menshevik phraseology about a people’s government, a constituent assembly, liberties, and the like), or the dictatorship of the proletariat. He who has not learned this from the whole history of the nineteenth century is a hopeless idiot».13 He adds next: «Only scoundrels or simpletons can think that the proletariat must first win a majority in elections carried out under the yoke of the bourgeoisie, under the yoke of wage-slavery, and must then win power. This is the height of stupidity or hypocrisy; it is substituting elections, under the old system and with the old power, for class struggle and revolution».14
Lenin didn’t hesitate to express his opinions not only concerning politicians, but concerning their parties as well: «Europe’s greatest misfortune and danger is that it has no revolutionary party. It has parties of traitors like the Scheidemanns, Henaudels, Hendersons, Webbs and Co., and of servile souls like Kautsky. But it has no revolutionary party».15 Now you can see that our assessments of certain parliamentary oppositionists are extremely mild and diplomatic if compared with those of Lenin.
6. Addressing masses of proletariat to get arbitration.
Lenin stressed that Bolsheviks defeated Mensheviks first of all due to the fact that they had managed to win the majority of the conscious proletariat, that with the use of their “workers flair” were capable of choosing correctly what corresponded to their basic interests: «The working masses have a fine intuition, which enables them to distinguish honest and devoted Communists from those who arouse the disgust of people earning their bread by the sweat of their brow, enjoying no privileges and having no “pull”»16. That’s why by joint efforts of the authorities and the opportunists the masses of workers in Russia have been prevented from taking an organized part in politics.
- Self criticism and recognition of mistakes.
Lenin stated that: «Nothing can ruin us but our own mistakes»17. If so, then the attention paid to these mistakes, to their sheer possibility should be constant and must develop into their correction: «All the revolutionary parties that have perished so far, perished because they became conceited, because they failed to see the source of their strength and feared to discuss their weaknesses. We, however, shall not perish, because we are not afraid to discuss our weaknesses and will learn to overcome them» 18. It’s a pity, but this Lenin’s advice was forgotten and we did become conceited. CPSU collapsed. We ought to remedy the situation.
Here we should mention that Lenin was also capable of recognizing the cases when his opponents were right. Vladimir Ilyich for example told that though Mensheviks had so many times proved by their deeds that they were mostly the agents of imperialism, it didn’t mean that their opinions had been always wrong. Sometimes one could observe quite the opposite.
In 1920 Lenin wrote that «Bolshevism would not have defeated the bourgeoisie in 1917–19 if before that, in 1903 –7, it had not learned to defeat the Mensheviks, i.e., the opportunists, reformists, social-chauvinists, and ruthlessly expel them from the party of the proletarian vanguard»19.
Modern communists armed with the experience of the construction of Socialism in the USSR and the downfall of the Gorgachev’s CPSU should come to the conclusions necessary to avoid the repetition of such development of events in the future.
* Tyulkin Viktor Arkadievich, is 1-st Secretary of the RCWP-CPSU Central Committee
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