April 22nd marks the 145th birth anniversary of V.I. Lenin, the great revolutionary leader and teacher of the working class.
At this time, more than at any other time, events unfolding, in India and globally, point to the necessity of studying and understanding Leninism.
Today in India, the workers, peasants and a majority of working people are facing the onslaught of the bourgeoisie which is getting more and more rapacious. The bourgeoisie is moving ahead on its course of privatization and liberalization, under the new management of the BJP-led NDA. The bourgeoisie is rapidly increasing the economy’s integration with the world economy. Monopoly capital is clamouring that its claim to appropriate all natural resources and wealth created by social labour must be fulfilled. The political class that is in power at this time, is guaranteeing these claims at the expense of the vast majority of the working class, toilers and peasants, through acquisition of land for the bourgeoisie, through selling the mineral and other natural resources cheap to the bourgeoisie, through reduced taxes and various other measures.
At the same time, the State of the Indian bourgeoisie claims to be a democracy and working for the good of both conflicting interests – of capital and the working class. The Prime Minister and his Party leaders repeat ad nauseum the slogan of “sabka sath, sabka vikas” while in fact, the gap between the minority rich and majority is growing wider each day.
In this context, we cannot overstate the relevance of the teachings of Lenin, in particular, his analysis and elaboration of the nature of the bourgeois state and bourgeois democracy in his famous work of “State and Revolution”. He clearly explains that the “modern representative state is an instrument of exploitation of wage labor by capital”. In a capitalist system, the state is of the most powerful, economically dominant class, which, through the medium of the state, becomes also the politically dominant class, and thus acquires new means of holding down and exploiting the oppressed class.
The Indian bourgeoisie keeps repeating that India is the largest democracy in the world. It points to the existence of the Parliament, the fact of universal suffrage and existence of many political parties as evidence. It uses the lofty words in the preamble to the Indian Constitution to claim that it is a democratic Republic. The bourgeoisie has repeated these lies over the last nearly 70 years to hide the basic truth that Lenin established on this matter. He showed how a democratic republic is the best possible political shell for capitalism. Once capital has gained possession of this very best shell, it establishes its power so securely, so firmly, that no change of persons, institutions or parties in the bourgeois democratic republic can shake it.
This has been the experience of the Indian people since the Constitution was adopted in 1950. Political parties have come and gone, various coalitions have formed the government, “ruling” and “opposition” parties have been in the government by turns, but none of this has changed anything for the majority of people.
Lenin further explains in “State and Revolution” that “under capitalism, the exploited masses do not, nor can they ever, really participate in governing the country, if for no other reason than that, even under the most democratic regime, under conditions of capitalism, governments are not set up by the people” but by the big bourgeoisie. “To decide once every few years which members of the ruling class is to repress and crush the people through parliament - this is the real essence of bourgeois parliamentarism, not only in parliamentary constitutional monarchies, but also in the most democratic of republics.”
The existing political system tends toward the ever greater concentration of economic power in fewer and fewer hands. This concentration of political and economic power is expressed in the tendency of Rule by Decree and the ever greater marginalization of the people from the political life of the country.
Whether it be the Congress led UPA or the BJP led NDA or the Third Front, by whatever name, all these coalitions and fronts have been in the service of the bourgeoisie. Today one of them is in the government and the other in the opposition. They use the parliament to sort out their differences, so that they can implement the bourgeoisie’s programme. When they are unable to sort out their differences, they use the “emergency powers” provided for in the Constitution to even rule by decree.
This can be seen clearly even today. Nine ordinances had been promulgated by the President of India since the BJP-led NDA government was formed last year. The land acquisition legislation was deliberately not presented in Parliament during the Budget session because the government feared defeat of the bill in the Rajya Sabha and the ordinance was re-promulgated after the session! More recently, the Home Ministry has extended the Armed Forces Special Powers Act to more areas in Arunachal Pradesh against the will of the people and even the state government.
Lenin elaborates that, “democracy under capitalism is capitalist democracy, the democracy of the exploiting minority, based on the restriction of the rights of the exploited majority and directed against this majority. Only under the proletarian dictatorship are real liberties for the exploited and real participation of the proletarians and peasants in governing the country possible.” Under the dictatorship of the proletariat, democracy is proletarian democracy, the democracy of the exploited majority, based on the restriction of the rights of the exploiting minority and directed against this minority.
We can have no illusion about the nature of India’s “representative parliamentary democracy”. We can have no illusion that this parliament is going to deliver on all the empty promises made by the political parties. We can have no illusion that the judiciary, police and any other institution of the present Indian State is going to defend the rights of the working people. Like Lenin explains, again in State and Revolution, the real business of “state” is performed behind the scenes and is carried on by the bourgeoisie and its loyal bureaucracy. He shows how the mandate of the Parliament is to talk for the special purpose of fooling the "common people".
Comrades, our Party has taught us that what we need today is to seriously prepare the conditions for a revolution that would change not merely the ruling party but the nature of the state and the ruling class. We need a revolution that will eliminate capitalism, sweep away all remnants of feudalism and the colonial legacy, and imperialist domination and plunder. We need a proletarian democratic revolution that will replace the existing state with workers’ and peasants’ rule.
We have waged and continue to wage struggle against the ‘parliamentary road to socialism’. We uncompromisingly oppose the notion that proletarian revolution is not possible or not necessary at this time. Such notions are spread to justify compromise and for conciliation with imperialism and the bourgeoisie. Our Party wages a stern struggle against the notion that some ‘middle class revolution’ is on the agenda and not the proletarian revolution.
The invaluable Leninist lesson in this context is that the key to the victory of the proletarian revolution and the sustained rule of the proletariat over the bourgeoisie is the dictatorship of the proletariat. Lenin pointed out that, “the fundamental question of every revolution is the question of power" – the proletariat must seize power, and must retain power. It must consolidate its power, make it invincible against the bourgeoisie which it has overthrown, and must keep suppressed in order to construct socialism.
This monumental work required an organization that is capable of destroying the bourgeois state and laying the foundations of the new State power. This new State power was an expression of the people’s empowerment. The Russian people, constituted in the Soviets of workers, peasants, soldiers and sailors, came forward to participate directly in the revolution and thereafter, in the construction of the new state power. The Soviets were the immediate organisations of the masses themselves, i.e., the most democratic and therefore the most authoritative organisations of the masses, which facilitated to the utmost their participation in the work of building up the new state and in its administration, and which brought into full play the revolutionary energy, initiative and creative abilities of the masses in the struggle for the destruction of the old order, in the struggle for the new, proletarian order.
Our Party, the Communist Ghadar Party of India, has paid the greatest attention to the task of drawing the masses of people into direct participation in the new kind of politics. The politicization of the masses, the establishment of people’s committees at the work places and where they live, is at the core of the movement for empowerment of the people.
The Great October Revolution and the establishment of the world’s first socialist state was made possible by the leadership of the party of the working class, the Leninist party with monolithic unity in its ranks. Lenin played a decisive role in establishing the Russian Communist Party as such a party, which based all its work on the most advanced science of revolution.
Lenin carried out his work during the period of revolutionary upheavals. He created a Communist Party which was the advanced vanguard of the working class, organized in a revolutionary style. He formulated democratic centralism, the organizational principle of such a Communist Party, consistent with the requirements of a modern society. Under democratic centralism, the leadership is accountable to the decisions of the membership, their aims and objectives, and the sovereign membership fulfils their duties and affirms their rights in a living way.
Lenin waged a stern ideological struggle against those who were bowing down to the lowest level of consciousness in the working class, who wanted the party to be a loose association of like-minded members. He pointed out that it was not enough for party members to agree with the party program and pay regular dues; they would also have to work under the discipline of a party organisation. Without that, the party could never achieve the monolithic unity needed to lead the working class to defeat the bourgeoisie.
Lenin truly developed Marxism to the conditions of his time and lived up to the fact that it "assumes final shape only in close connection with the practical activity of a truly mass and truly revolutionary movement" for theory must serve practice, for "theory must answer the questions raised by practice”.
Speaking on the occasion of the death of Com. Lenin in January 1924, Comrade J.V. Stalin pointed out that it was because of Com. Lenin’s leadership that the Bolshevik Party could lead the oppressed and downtrodden masses to take power and become the masters of their destiny. Till then, this was not believed to be possible, though the oppressed had tried time and again over the centuries to get rid of the yoke of their oppressors. A new set of oppressors took the place of the existing set of oppressors.
“The greatness of Lenin lies above all in this, that by creating the Republic of Soviets he gave a practical demonstration to the oppressed masses of the whole world that hope of deliverance is not lost, that the rule of the landlords and capitalists is short-lived, that the kingdom of labour can be created by the efforts of the labouring people themselves, and that the kingdom of labour must be created not in heaven, but on earth. He thus fired the hearts of the workers and peasants of the whole world with the hope of liberation. That explains why Lenin’s name has become the name most beloved of the labouring and exploited masses.”
This is why, more than 90 years after his death, his life continues to inspire us. His complete and profound assimilation of the theory and spirit of Marxism, his deep study and analysis of the Russian condition, of the Russian working class, of the Tsarist autocracy and reactionary forces, his bold leadership in seizing every opportunity that presented itself to apply the science of Marxism in the service of the proletarian revolution, and above all, his conviction that the Communist Party must establish the dictatorship of the proletariat and defend that to the end – is enshrined in history.
Salute to V.I. Lenin – the great revolutionary leader and teacher! Long live Leninism!