Times are calling for the transition from capitalism to socialism
The 22nd of April this year marks the 150th birth anniversary of V. I. Lenin, the principal architect of the world’s first successful socialist revolution.
Vladimir Ilyich Ulyanov was born in Simbirsk, Russia. He adopted Lenin as his party name in 1901, following his exile in Siberia by the Czarist regime. He is known by the name Vladimir Ilyich Lenin ever since.
From the beginning, Lenin’s work was guided by the theoretical conclusions of Marxism. He based himself on the firm conclusion that the only road to open the path for the progress of society is the road of establishing the rule of the proletariat and carrying out the revolutionary transition from capitalism to socialism. The means of social production must be converted from private property into social and collective property. These theoretical conclusions have not been proven wrong by the developments which led to the collapse of the Soviet Union or by the developments since then. On the contrary, Marxism-Leninism has been fully validated by all the developments which have taken place over the past century.
The 150th birth anniversary of Lenin comes at a time when capitalism stands nakedly exposed as an inhuman system, geared to keep enriching a super-rich minority at the cost of millions of human lives. The vast majority of capitalist states stand exposed as being incapable of protecting the health and well-being of all members of society in the face of a pandemic like the Coronavirus.
Governments in the service of capitalists are proving incapable of providing adequate protection to workers who are in the front ranks of the battle against the virus. They are failing to protect health sector workers from the virus. They are failing to protect the most vulnerable sections of the working class who have lost their means of livelihood. Life experience is reinforcing Lenin’s conclusion that the capitalist class is no longer fit to be the ruler of society.
Guided by the theory of Marxism, Lenin analyzed the concrete conditions prevailing in the opening years of the 20th century, when capitalism had developed into a global system of exploitation and plunder, with competition having grown into monopoly.
Lenin observed and highlighted five characteristic features of the world capitalist system at the beginning of the 20th century. These are: (i) concentration of production and capital leading to the domination of monopolies, in place of the competition among large number of small producers which characterised capitalism in the 19th century; (ii) concentration of banking capital and its coalescence with concentrated industrial capital giving rise to finance capital and the domination of a parasitic financial oligarchy; (iii) export of capital from advanced countries to regions where raw materials and labour power are cheap, (iv) formation of international monopoly capitalist associations which fight for control over markets, spheres of influence and sources of raw materials; and (v) completion of the territorial division of the whole world among the biggest imperialist powers, leading to inter-imperialist conflicts to re-divide the world.
Lenin discovered the law of uneven capitalist development. He showed with facts and figures that the development of enterprises, trusts, branches of industry and individual countries proceeds unevenly and in spurts, with interruptions in the development of some and leaps in the development of others. This leads to repeated changes in the balance of power and armed clashes among the imperialist states to establish a new equilibrium. It makes the world front of imperialism vulnerable to revolution, and to a breach in this front becoming probable.
Lenin analyzed that imperialism is a stage when all the contradictions of the capitalist system come to a head. He identified the major contradictions as those between the exploiters and the exploited within each capitalist country, between imperialism and the oppressed nations and peoples, and the contradictions among the imperialist powers and rival monopoly combines.
Lenin drew the conclusion that imperialism is the highest, most parasitic and last stage of capitalism. It is the eve of the transition from capitalism to a superior social system, the socialist system.
Facts and phenomena reveal that capitalism is still in its final stage, growing more and more parasitic, destructive and crisis-ridden over time. The domination of monopolies, loot by finance capital and plunder of the world through the export of capital have all reached unprecedented levels. Conflicts among groups of capitalist monopolies over the sources of oil and other vital raw materials have become extremely acute. The operation of the law of uneven development can be seen in the rise of China as the country with the largest manufacturing industry in the world, and the rise of other “emerging” imperialist powers including India. In the sphere of international state to state relations, the aggressive drive of the United States to maintain its number one position at any cost is being resisted by rival imperialist states.
When the Soviet Union disintegrated in 1991, the capitalists of the world claimed that it was the end of armed conflicts. They claimed that capitalism had reached a new stage, a peaceful stage. The past three decades, however, have turned out to be a period of permanent wars, of armed occupation and colonisation of independent nations and of acute inter-imperialist rivalry for world domination.
Life experience confirms the validity of Lenin’s conclusion that imperialism is the final stage of capitalism. No new peaceful stage is possible. Wars can be ended and lasting peace achieved only through the overthrow of the imperialist system and the construction of socialism in one country after another.
Lenin fought tenaciously against the orthodox Marxist scholars of his time who believed that the proletariat can become the ruling class and proceed to construct socialism only in the most advanced capitalist countries of the world. They preached that in Russia, which was relatively backward at that time, only a bourgeois democratic revolution was possible. Lenin refuted these ideas based on his analysis of imperialism as the eve of the proletarian revolution and socialism. He emphasized that as capitalism has reached its final stage on the world scale, it is possible for revolution and socialism to advance even in a relatively backward country. He put forward the necessity to prepare the proletariat to become the ruling class in Russia.
Lenin exposed the opportunism of those who advocated the idea that the State can be an instrument for reconciling the contradictions between the bourgeoisie and proletariat. He defended and elaborated the Marxist theory of the State, that it is an organ of rule of one class over another.
Given the irreconcilable opposition between the interests of the capitalist class and the working class, democracy for one means dictatorship over the other. Lenin argued that the Czarist regime must be replaced, not by a bourgeois parliamentary republic, but by a Soviet republic.
Lenin explained that a bourgeois 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 can shake it. He wrote: “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.” (State and Revolution)
Lenin’s elaboration of the class nature of parliamentary democracy is fully confirmed by the life experience of the Indian people since the Constitution of the Indian Republic was adopted in 1950. Political parties replace one another through elections, governments and slogans are periodically changed but there is no change in the capital-centered orientation of the economy. The big capitalists keep growing richer at the expense of the workers and peasants, who remain poor and are more intensely exploited over time. The State remains an organ of the capitalist class to divide and rule over the toiling masses, through the ballot and the bullet.
Lenin put forward the need to transfer all power into the hands of the soviets. A Soviet of Workers’ Deputies was a form of popular political organisation of industrial workers, which had emerged in Russia during a revolutionary uprising against the Czar in 1905. It was a council of tried and tested fighters of the working class, selected and elected by the workers themselves from among their peers. The idea of Soviets lived in the minds of the workers and was brought to play in February 1917, during the revolutionary uprising that overthrew the Czar. Soviets of workers’ and soldiers’ deputies were formed in major cities and soviets of peasants’ deputies emerged in many rural districts.
By transferring all power into the hands of the soviets, the October Revolution laid the foundation of an entirely new state of workers’ and peasants’ rule. The privileged and highly paid bureaucrats were replaced by civil servants who were subject to recall and paid nothing more than skilled workers. The parasitic Czarist army was replaced by the Red Army, which had emerged and grown in the course of the revolutionary struggle to overthrow the exploiters.
Once agriculture had been collectivized and the construction of the economic base of socialism was in the main completed in the Soviet Union, further development took place in the theory and practice of soviet democracy. The Constitution adopted in 1936 paved the way for the broadest possible participation of the working people and their mass organisations in the selection of candidates for elections to the soviets. The process of enhancing the role of the people in governance was interrupted by the Second World War. It was subsequently reversed in the 1950s, when the Soviet Party began to change its class character and concentrate all decision-making power in the hands of its revisionist leadership.
Summing up the experience of applying Marxism-Leninism to the problem of socialist construction and to the struggle against capitalist restoration in the Soviet Union and other former socialist countries has led to the conclusion that a modern democratic constitution must vest sovereignty in the people. It must guarantee the inviolability of human rights and democratic rights. The political process in a modern democracy must guarantee the right of people to select candidates for election, as well as the right of recall and the right to propose legislation. These are important components of contemporary Marxist-Leninist thought.
Lenin waged a determined and protracted struggle to establish and build a political party capable of leading the Russian proletariat to successfully capture and retain political power in its hands. He explained that trade union struggle, on its own, can only give rise to bourgeois reformist consciousness. He argued for the necessity to build a party of professional revolutionaries which would imbue the proletariat with the political consciousness required to capture power and become the ruling class. He argued for the establishment of an all-Russian newspaper as the scaffolding around which such a party can and must be built.
Lenin waged a stern ideological struggle against those among Russian Marxists who advocated building the party as 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 proletariat to overthrow the capitalist class.
Lenin wrote: “The strength of the working class lies in organization. Unless the masses are organized, the proletariat is nothing. Organized — it is everything.” (“Party discipline and the fight against the pro-Cadet Social-Democrats”, Collected Works, Vol. 11, PP, 1972)
Lenin elaborated the theory and put into practice the organizational principle of democratic centralism, based on collective decision-making and individual responsibility. The vanguard party of the Russian proletariat got built and strengthened through a consistent struggle in defence of these principles, with steel like unity around the aim of bringing the working class to power, allied with the peasants and all the oppressed. It came to be known as the Communist Party of Soviet Union (Bolshevik), also called the Bolshevik Party.
Guided by Marxism and its further development in the conditions of imperialism, the Bolshevik Party steered the Great October Revolution, and successfully led the working class and peoples of the Soviet Union to construct socialism. Human labour was liberated from all forms of exploitation and the standard of living of one-sixth of humanity achieved a qualitative leap.
At the present time, the imperialist propaganda machine promotes all kinds of “revolutions”, of different colours, which can allegedly be carried out by the youth through social media, without the leadership of a revolutionary party of the proletariat. Facts and phenomena, however, keep exposing this idea as a harmful illusion. Such so-called coloured revolutions and mass upheavals have not overthrown capitalism in any country. The building and strengthening of a vanguard proletarian party of the Leninist type remains one of the most critical tasks required for solving the problems facing people today. As Lenin reiterated, without revolutionary theory and a vanguard party guided by it there can be no revolution.
Summing up the experience of the application of Marxism-Leninism to the concrete conditions of India, the Communist Ghadar Party of India has adopted as one of its guiding principles that it will neither be an electoral machine nor an underground military machine. It is committed to remain the most conscious and organised detachment of the working class, an instrument for empowering the working class and all other toiling and oppressed people.
In conclusion, the present conditions on the world scale, including the latest crisis created by the spread of Coronavirus and the response of capitalist states, expose the thoroughly decadent and parasitic nature of the present imperialist stage of capitalism. It is a system in which maximum monopoly profits are made by organising to spread a virus and then marketing vaccines to protect people from the same. It is a system in which scientific research has been subordinated to imperialist aims of militarization and wars to re-divide the world, including through the use of biological warfare.
The present situation reinforces the validity of Lenin’s conclusion that the only way to end the misery and save humankind is by organising the working class to take political power in its hands, in alliance with all the oppressed, and carry out the transition from capitalism to socialism.
In India, crores of workers are suffering as a result of the lockdown while the frontline fighters continue to suffer from lack of proper protective equipment. The central authorities are using the ban on public street protests as an occasion to escalate the arrests of whoever is critical of the government. The fear about the virus is being used to further strengthen the surveillance of people through access to data on their mobile phones. A mega deal has been struck between the American monopoly Facebook and the Indian monopoly Reliance Jio to access each other’s data and reap maximum profits from e-commerce in the post-lockdown period.
The working class, peasants and broad masses of people are fighting to be liberated from the existing inhuman system. They aspire for freedom from capitalist exploitation, discrimination and oppression on the basis of caste, nationality and gender, persecution on the basis of religion and state terrorism in the name of national security. To fulfill this longstanding aspiration, it is essential to bring to an end the entire colonial legacy, including the capitalist system and the existing State. It is necessary to lay a new foundation for a modern democratic and socialist India.
We must wage a relentless struggle against those in the communist movement who are calling for the defence of the existing State and Constitution, claiming that the source of all problems lies in the ideology of a particular party. To be true to Marxism-Leninism means to recognise the truth and tell the truth to the working class and people that the existing State and Constitution are instruments of dictatorship of the capitalist class, headed by the monopoly houses. The source of all the economic and political problems lies in the rule of this class and its dangerous imperialist drive at this time, in alliance with warmongering US imperialism. The task we face is to dislodge this class, not merely to dislodge just one party of this class, only to be saddled with another party of the same class.
To be guided by the teachings of Lenin means to champion the struggle for the establishment of workers’ and peasants’ rule in place of the rule of the capitalist class. It means to champion the struggle to lay a new foundation for India.
On the occasion of the 150th birth anniversary of Comrade Lenin, let us pledge to fulfill the task of preparing the Indian proletariat to carry out its historic mission of lifting society out of crisis and paving the way for its all-round progress!
Let us resolve to build and strengthen the vanguard role of the Communist Ghadar Party of India, by defending democratic centralism in the course of building and strengthening party basic organisations and mass organisations of the working class and its allies!
Let us fight to restore the unity of the communist movement in the course of combating the opportunist and class collaborationist line of saving the existing State and Constitution, and in the course of rallying the working class and people around the revolutionary program for the Navnirman of India!