In Sept 2010 UN General Assembly was devoted to a discussion on ending global poverty, to the fulfilment of the socalled Millennium Goals first adopted in the year 2000. A decade after the adoption of these goals, UN agencies reported that while 830 million people lived on the brink of starvation when the goals were adopted a decade ago, this number had soared to over 1 billion and that in 2010 almost the same number were forced to live on less than a dollar a day.
Socialism & Revolutionary Marxism
Waving a copy of this book, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez told the 772 delegates assembled on November 21, 2009, for the opening session of the First Extraordinary Congress of the United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV) that he agreed with the book’s central message, i.e., that it was necessary “to create a new revolutionary state from below that is a real mechanism for the construction of socialism of the 21st century”. Chavez recommended that the delegates read Lenin’s book as a theoretical guide for how to accomplish this task.
The chapters of this pamphlet first appeared as individual articles in the newspaper Direct Action over a period of two and a half years, beginning with the paper’s first issue, in June 2008.
The aim of each article was to present an introductory explanation of some aspect of Marxism. In nearly every case, the space available was limited to 700 words, so there was no opportunity to go into great detail. Paradoxically, perhaps, this limitation had its advantages, limiting digressions and forcing a focus on the topic at hand.
In M’s 1875 Critique of the Gotha Program he states that, “Between capitalist and communist society there lies the period of the revolutionary transformation of the one into the other. Corresponding to this is also a political transition period in which the state can be nothing but the revolutionary dictatorship of the proletariat.”
In his article on “Determining the class character of the state” (Activist Vol. 17, No. 2), Comrade Simon Butler argues that we should use a modified version of the method that Trotsky first proposed in 1937 for determining the class character of the state. In his November 1937 article “Not a Workers’ and Not a Bourgeois State?”, Trotsky argued that the class nature of the state is “determined not by its political forms but by its social content, i.e., by the character of the forms of property and productive relations which the given state guards and defends”.1 Comrade Butler modifies this by proposing to add to the criterion of the property forms the state “defends”, the property forms it “introduces”.
This is the second of two volumes of key writings by Vladimir Ilyich Lenin published by Resistance Books covering the birth of Bolshevism as a political trend and a party organisation. The first volume contained the main works written by Lenin from 1899 through 1902 in which he polemicised against the opportunist “economist” current then dominant among the adherents of the Russian Social-Democratic Labour Party. The second volume covers the period from the second congress of the RSDLP in August 1903 to the setting up of the Bolshevik party organisation (officially called the Bureau of Majority Committees) in December 1904.
One hundred years ago this month, the first proletarian revolution in the new imperialist epoch of capitalism began. This revolution, the first Russian revolution, was born of mass discontent aggravated by a deeply unpopular war, the Russo-Japanese War of 1904. It began with a wave of strikes, riots and street demonstrations protesting the police shooting on a peaceful mass workers’ demonstration in St Petersburg, the capital of the vast Russian Empire, on Sunday, January 22, 1905 (January 9 in the Julian calendar still in use in Russia at the time), killing 1000 and wounding 2000 of the 200,000 marchers.
Vladimir Ilyich Lenin was the founder and, until his death in January 1924, the central leader of the Bolshevik Party. Without the leadership of the Bolshevik Party, the Russian workers would not have been able to conquer power in November (October in the Julien calendar then still in effect in Russia) 1917 and create the world’s first workers state. The world historic significance of the October 1917 Revolution is that for the first time it proved it was possible for the working class to take power and replace capitalism with a new social order, and the workers could forge out of their ranks a political party that was capable of leading that revolutionary struggle to victory.
During the first imperialist world war, a trend began to emerge among the Russian revolutionary Marxists that argued that since national oppression could not be abolished without an economic revolution against imperialism and capitalism, Marxists did not need to concern themselves with the problems of a political revolution to achieve democracy. Instead, the “nascent trend of imperialist Economism” (as Lenin characterised it) argued that all that was needed to abolish national oppression was the anti-capitalist economic revolution, i.e., the socialist revolution.
“From the democratic revolution we shall at once, and precisely in accordance with the measure of our strength, the strength of the class conscious and organised proletariat, begin to pass to the socialist revolution. We stand for uninterrupted revolution. We shall not stop half way… we shall bend every effort to help the entire peasantry achieve the democratic revolution, in order thereby to make it easier for us, the party of the proletariat, to pass on as quickly as possible to the new and higher task – the socialist revolution.” (V.I. Lenin, Social-Democracy’s Attitude to the Peasant Movement, September 1905)