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FROM A UTOPIA TO A SCIENCE - The Leninist Phase of Scientific Communism

Creative Nature of Scientific Communism

Like Marxism as a whole, the theory of scientific communism is not a collection of immutable, fossilised principles accepted as a faith. It is a developing and creative science, which mirrors objective reality, social life with all its contradictions and complexities, in its movement and development. It is not a stagnant science. It moves forward, keeping in step with constantly changing life, daily becoming enriched with the latest achievements of science and practice. It closely scrutinises life, reality, profoundly studying all aspects of the processes in the capitalist and the socialist worlds, and developing and specifying theoretical conclusions and bringing them into line with the requirements of life.

While studying and generalising the development of capitalist society, the aggravation of the contradictions in that society, and the growth of the communist and working-class movement and of the national liberation struggle and the struggle for democracy, scientific communism works out the ways and means of overthrowing capitalism with due consideration for the constantly changing conditions and the concrete situation. It studies the development of socialist society, the experience of building socialism and communism in different countries, and the role and importance of the Communist Parties in building the new society, with the purpose of working out the ways and means of building that society in conformity with 45the concrete stage of history. In this work scientific communism rests on the achievements of other social sciences, synthesises these achievements and uses them in the revolutionary practice of reorganising the world along communist lines. This intimate unity with life, with practice determines the creative nature of scientific communism and of Marxism-Leninism as a whole.

Scientific communism emerged when capitalism was on the ascendant. Deep-going changes took place in the world at the close of the 19th and the beginning of the 20th century. Capitalism reached its last stage of development—-imperialism. The economic and social contradictions in it became unprecedentedly acute. A period of relative peace gave way to a period of social storms, of revolutionary upheavals.

The period witnessing radical changes in social relations approximately coincided with the period when mankind embarked upon a new scientific and technical revolution sparked off’ by phenomenal achievements in science and technology—the discovery and utilisation of atomic power, large-scale penetration by science, particularly chemistry, into production, the development of automation, electronics, rocketry, and so forth. These advances made it unmistakably clear that capitalism was falling behind the times, that it was becoming a growing obstacle to social, scientific and technical progress. The historical need for replacing capitalism by socialism was becoming more and more urgent. The new conditions, quite naturally, demanded a new approach to the cardinal social problems and a creative development of Marxism. The new experience of the revolutionary working-class movement, the experience of the national liberation and democratic movements and the latest scientific and technical achievements had to be generalised. This became all the more necessary in view of the fact that forces hostile to Marxism were reanimated under the new conditions, and they became particularly savage in their attacks on the theory and practice of scientific communism, which was winning the hearts and minds of more and more working people throughout the world.

At the close of the 19th century, the centre of the international revolutionary and, in particular, the working-class 46movement began to shift to Russia, which had become the focus of the contradictions of imperialism. The socialist revolution matured in Russia, which became the home of Leninism, of Marxism enriched and developed in the new historical conditions. The further creative development of Marxism, of scientific communism is firmly linked up with Vladimir Ilyich Lenin (1870–1924), the great leader of the Russian and international proletariat, of all working people.

Lenin’s work in scientific communism is so vast and many-faceted that it comprises an entire phase of the development of communist ideas, a phase embracing the entire period from the close of the 19th century to the present.

Theoretician of Scientific Communism

There is every ground for saying that virtually every problem of scientific communism has been creatively dealt with by Lenin.

His great service to history is that his theoretical work was inseparably linked up with the revolutionary struggle of the proletariat and with the building of socialism in the U.S.S.R. He enriched the theory of scientific communism, raised and solved a multitude of new theoretical problems and directed the implementation of the principles of scientific communism. He drew up the programme for the building of socialism and communism in the U.S.S.R. and, to his last day, headed the people and the Party, who were carrying out this programme. The Soviet people’s achievements in the building of the new society are indissolubly linked up with his name.

The new epoch posed the working class and its Marxist party with the task of remaking society by revolution, of destroying capitalism and building socialism. That made Lenin devote much of his time and energy to studying the laws of social development, particularly the essence of imperialism and its contradictions, and to working out the ways and means of resolving these contradictions by the proletarian-led revolutionary forces. He evolved the theory of socialist revolution and elaborated the theory of the modern world revolutionary process embracing not only the socialist movement of the working class but also the national liberation movement and all kinds of democratic movements spearheaded against imperialism. In keeping 47with the features of the revolutionary movement in the new epoch, he worked out the strategy and tactics of the proletarian class struggle, of the world communist movement.

He developed the Marxist theory of the dictatorship of the proletariat and the forms of this dictatorship, of the tasks of the proletarian state, of the destiny of a stale under socialism and communism, and of socialist democracy. He created the teaching about the new, revolutionary type of party and showed its place and role in uprooting the old and building the new society.

Lenin always focussed his attention on the working man, on devising ways and means of emancipating him, of enabling him to develop and assert himself. In enriching and developing the Marxist theory of socialism and communism, he regarded the new society not as an end in itself but solely as a condition, as a means of emancipating and improving man. He sought to place the economy and the achievements of science and technology in the service of the working man, to improve social relations in the interests of the working people, and to organise society’s spiritual life in such a way as to ensure man’s intellectual blossoming and the fullest development of his boundless creative possibilities.

Lenin worked out the relation between objective conditions and subjective factors of history during the building of communist society, and formulated the principles underlying the most effective application of the objective laws of social development in the interests of the working man. While developing the Marxist theory of scientifically directing social processes, he worked out the fundamental principles for guiding communist construction.

An important place in Lenin’s works is occupied by the theory of socialist revolution, which has had a tremendous impact on the further development of society, on the course of world history.

Lenin’s Theory of Socialist Revolution

First and foremost, Lenin defined the place occupied in history by imperialism, showing that it is moribund, decaying capitalism. In the era of imperialism the basic contradiction of capitalism, that between social production and private appropriation, 48reaches its bursting point. Imperialism, Lenin wrote, “leads up to the most all-sided socialisation ol’ production" but retains the proprietor principle ol distribution; private ownership relations form “...a shell which no longer fits its contents, a shell which must inevitably decay . . . but which will inevitably be removed”. [48•* Imperialism is, thus, the eve of the socialist revolution. Under imperialism, the socialist revolution is not only possible but necessary and inevitable, becoming the direct task of the day for the working class.

A key element of the theory of socialist revolution is Lenin’s brilliant thesis that socialism can triumph initially in one country taken separately. To substantiate this thesis, Lenin showed that in the capitalist countries development proceeds unevenly, sporadically. Some countries, that had formerly lagged behind, overtake and outstrip the leading countries in both the economic and political spheres. The balance of forces is thus broken, with the result that conflicts break out and the united capitalist front is shaken: the position of world capitalism grows weaker, giving rise to the possibility of breaking the chain of imperialism in its most feeble link.

“The development of capitalism,” Lenin wrote, “proceeds extremely unevenly in different countries. It cannot be otherwise under commodity production. From this it follows irrefutably that socialism cannot achieve victory simultaneously in all countries. It will achieve victory first in one or several countries, while the others will for some time remain bourgeois or pre-bourgeois.” [48•**

Lenin regarded mankind’s transition from capitalism to socialism not as a single act but as an entire epoch.

He took the extremely complex picture of the world of his day into consideration: the existence not only of bourgeois but also of pre-bourgeois countries, where the bourgeois-democratic system had not been firmly established; the existence of various classes and social groups in each country, and so forth. This led him to the conclusion that “pure” socialist revolutions cannot be accomplished in the epoch of imperialism. One cannot think, he wrote, that an army assembled in one place says, “‘We are for socialism,’ and another, somewhere else says, ’We are for imperialism,’ and that that will be a social revolution!... Whoever expects a ’pure’ social revolution will never live to see it. Such a person pays lip-service to revolution without understanding what revolution is.” Lenin pictured the revolutionary process as an outburst of mass struggle by all oppressed and dissatisfied people. This process embraced the working-class struggle, the peasant movement, the national liberation movement and all democratic movements against imperialism.

In this connection, Lenin emphasised that there had to be a firm alliance between the working class and all revolutionary forces undermining imperialism, and emphatically opposed sectarianism, the isolation of the proletariat from other working people and democratic forces. Here he meant not an alliance in general, but an alliance in which the working class as the main revolutionary force played the role of vanguard.

He did not by any means consider that any revolutionary explosion in any country must necessarily be a socialist revolution, which would lead to the dictatorship of the proletariat, although in the case of some countries this possibility was not ruled out. On the other hand, in prebourgeois countries, in colonial countries or countries with strong survivals of feudalism, as well as in countries where bourgeois-democratic reforms have not been completed, the socialist revolution may be preceded by a bourgeois-democratic or national liberation revolution, which, given favourable conditions, develops into a socialist revolution. The question of the growth of the bourgeois-democratic revolution into a socialist revolution was dealt with by Lenin in Two Tactics of Social–Democracy in the Democratic Revolution. In this work he advanced the thesis that non-capitalist development was possible in pre-bourgeois countries, provided socialism triumphed in other countries.

Leader of the World Communist Movement

Lenin organised a new type of Party, a revolutionary Communist Party, firmly believing that when the objective prerequisites for a revolution have matured, a subjective factor of history, namely, the 50political consciousness and organisation of the proletariat and other working people, plays the decisive role. As the vanguard of the proletariat and as its most politically conscious and organised contingent, the Party ensures the unity and organisation of the working class and arms it with advanced revolutionary theory, strategy and tactics. This proposition was borne out in Russia, where, led by the Communist Parly, the workers and peasants overthrew capitalism and created the world’s first socialist state.

Lenin was the leader not only of the Russian but of the international working class, of the working people of the whole world. He dedicated himself to the modern world communist movement, which he built up and directed. He stood at the mainspring of the Third, Communist International, which replaced the Second International, whose leaders wallowed in the mire of opportunism and slid into betrayal of the working class. Exposing the treachery of social-reformism, Lenin underlined the internationalist nature of the communist movement and called for unity of the communist forces on a world scale.

The First (Inaugural) Congress of the Third International, which gave tremendous impetus to the world communist movement, was held on March 2-6, 1919, in Moscow. The Third International united the communist forces of the world on the ideological foundation of Marxism-Leninism, worked out the strategy and tactics of the working-class movement in the new conditions, helped to mould and enlarge the young Communist Parties, enriched them with revolutionary experience, and combated opportunists of all shades and hues. It influenced the national liberation movement and the struggle of the masses for democracy, and was in the centre of the struggle of the peoples for peace.

Fighfer for the Purity of Marxism

While developing the theory of scientific communism and directing the revolutionary struggle and the building of socialism, Lenin consistently upheld the purity of Marxist theory against bourgeois ideology and its accomplices, against idealism and clericalism, against opportunism, in short against all those who distorted and falsified Marxism, and those who, having distorted it, attempted to use it to further the interests of the bourgeoisie.

At the outset of his political activities, Lenin denounced the ideology of the Russian liberal Narodniks of the 1880s-90s. The Narodniks refused to recognise that the emergence of capitalism in Russia was a natural process, opposed the proletarian class struggle against the bourgeoisie and rejected the idea that the working class played a revolutionary role in society. They pinned their hopes chiefly on the peasants, regarding them as the only champions of socialism, without realising that the peasants could achieve liberation from landowner oppression solely under the leadership of the proletariat. They interpreted history from an idealistic standpoint, rejecting the decisive role of economic factors in the historical process and declaring that history was made not by the people but by “heroes”, by outstanding personalities.

Showing that Russia’s capitalist development was a natural, law-governed process, Lenin revealed the social stratification of the peasantry, and worked out the tactics of the working class towards the different sections of the peasants. He saw that the peasants would be staunch allies of the proletariat against the capitalists and, later, in the building of socialist society.

Lenin’s struggle against Right and Left opportunism, trends hostile to Marxism, did much to further the theory and practice of scientific communism.

He characterised Right opportunism, or revisionism, as “petty-bourgeois reformism, i.e., servility to the bourgeoisie covered by a cloak of sentimental democratic and ‘Social’–Democratic phrases and fatuous wishes”. Revisionism breaks with the economic and philosophical teaching of Marxism, removes its revolutionary substance and replaces it with bourgeois reformist theories. It rejects the Marxist theory of classes and the class struggle, of the socialist revolution and the dictatorship of the proletariat, and deliberately misrepresents the Marxist teaching about the Party and the ways of building socialism. It is characteristic that all this is screened by the false claim of defending Marxism, of furthering its development. The danger of revisionism was especially great early in the 20th century, when it gained momentum on a world scale, penetrating all the Socialist Workers’ Parties and becoming, practically speaking, the official ideology of the Second International.

In contrast to Right opportunism, Loll opportunism does not preach reformist ideas. On the contrary, it boasts of its revolutionism, paying no attention to historical conditions and the balance of class forces.

Despite this outward difference, there is much that Right and Left opportunism have in common: petty-bourgeois mentality and hostility to Marxism, to scientific communism, to the revolutionary working-class movement. Both trends seek to plant bourgeois influence among the working class. The reformism of the Right opportunists and the ultra-revolutionism and, essentially, adventurism of the Left opportunists, the absence in both these trends of proletarian firmness, organisation and discipline seriously harm the revolution, the cause of socialism by foredooming the working class to capitulation to the bourgeoisie, to defeat.

This conciliatory, capitulalory substance of opportunism was countered by Lenin with creative, revolutionary Marxism. He combated not only the Russian opportunists of the Right-wing (Economists, liquidators, Mensheviks) and Left-wing trends (olzovists, “Left Communists”, Trotskyites), but also opportunism in the world workingclass movement. This struggle serves as an example of a lofty Party approach to theory and, to this day, it inspires Communists in their struggle against contemporary opportunism.

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[48•*] Lenin, Collected Works, Vol. 22, p. 303.

[48•**] Ibid., Vol. 23, p. 79.
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