“Every state in which private ownership of the land and means of production exists, in which capital dominates, however democratic it may be, is a capitalist state, a machine used by the capitalists to keep the working class and the poor peasants in subjection.” — Vladimir I. Lenin
In the previous video, we discussed how the capitalist-imperialist system developed over the past century. Today, in the current phase, we will discuss its 4 main characteristics, as laid out by Pao-Yu Ching in the highly recommended book, Lenin’s Imperialism in the 21st Century published by the Institute of Political Economy.
“Studying the contemporary expressions of monopoly-capitalism’s key features shows that the logic and dynamic of the monopoly capitalist system remains fundamentally unchanged from Lenin’s time. However, it shows that the forms and means of exploitation and oppression that characterize imperialism have evolved and intensiﬁed.” — Paul Quintos
On March 21, 2022, Gilbert Achcar – a Professor at SOAS University of London – published a note on the Russia-Ukraine conflict, openly wishing for a North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) victory. He enthusiastically expressed his support for Western arms deliveries to Ukraine and Western sanctions against Russia, which not only impact the well-being of the Russian people by blocking access to imported items but also plunder economic resources via the seizure of assets belonging to the sanctioned country. Achcar explained his full-blown pro-NATO advocacy by making vague references to “Russian imperialism”, which he considers to be worse than Western imperialism. Again, this judgement, too, is left unexplained; it is only garnished with a useless analogy pompously proclaiming the West’s “vassalization” of Ukraine to be “incomparably preferable” to Russia’s “enserfment” of the country.
“A civilization reveals itself as fruitful by its ability to incite others to imitate it: when it no longer dazzles them it is reduced to a mere collection of odds and ends and vestiges of former worldly greatness. The successive attempts of Napoleon and Hitler to create a world empire failed, as the United States of North America has failed in our time because any initial attraction they might have exerted on the conquered transformed into resistance and hate as a result of their genocidal policies or military occupation and/or exploitation of the resources of the conquered lands instead of gradual absorption and acceptance of different peoples and the furthering of local cultures.” (Paraphrased from Cioran’s Histoire et Utopie)
A century ago, Lenin led the world’s first revolution against capitalism that successfully established a new and different government and society, the USSR. Lenin’s work before, during and shortly after that revolution left a legacy of insights, strategies, and programs. This panel aims to highlight and discuss some of the most pertinent aspects for today of Lenin’s life and work. We intend to include time for audience participation and discussion.
“Marxism and Karl Marx taught us there are two classes. There is the bourgeois and the proletariat. There are those who own the major centers of economic power, the factories, the banks, the means of transport, the means of communication and make profits from them. And then there are the rest of us who sell our labor power to those capitalists in order to survive. We get wages, we live by working, we’re proletarians. They live by owning, they’re capitalists.” — Caleb Maupin
“The state is an organ of class domination, an organ of oppression of one class by another; its aim is the creation of ‘order’, which legalizes and perpetuates this oppression by moderating the collisions between the classes…”
The Marxist Theory of the State and the Tasks of the Proletariat in the Revolution
First published in 1917, Lenin’s “Imperialism. The Highest Stage of Capitalism”, his major theoretical work, shows imperialism as a “direct continuation of the fundamental properties of capitalism,” a primary manifestation of capitalism in its late stages.
Above all, due to the grave obstacles it must overcome, the party of the working class must be a party of disciplined, professional revolutionaries…nothing short of this can succeed in acquiring and defending people’s power…
In his work “Two Tactics of Social Democracy in the Democratic Revolution”, Lenin discusses a vexing Russian pre-revolutionary problem similar to the problem facing American left radicals today. For Russia of that epoch the question was one of timing and tactics: Was the classical Marxian bourgeois revolution leading to a democratic republic as a first step toward the Socialist Revolution necessary, and even possible, considering the pusillanimous nature of the Russian bourgeoisie at the time? Or could Russia bypass bourgeois capitalism altogether and leap directly from backwardness into advanced socialism? Today, more than a handful of people ask: What will be the nature of the long overdue Great American Revolution?
In Lenin’s “Left-wing Communism: An Infantile Disorder”, written in 1920 as a polemic against Dutch and British groups in the new Third International meeting that year in its Second Congress in which strategy and tactics were debated. His target was the West European ultra-left communists who had come out against Marxists working in trade unions or running for public office and sitting in bourgeois parliaments.
“At the same pace that mankind masters nature, man seems to become enslaved to other men or to his own infamy. Even the pure light of science seems unable to shine but on the dark background of ignorance. All our invention and progress seem to result in endowing material forces with intellectual life, and in stultifying human life into a material force.” Karl Marx. Selected Works, Vol. 1, p. 500. Continue reading →