The British section of the International Marxist Tendency are proud to commemorate the centenary of Lenin’s death by publishing a book defending his life and ideas, and by launching their new paper The Communist and the Revolutionary Communist Party. The ‘Communist’ Party of Britain, by contrast, is promoting articles on Lenin that only mislead and sow confusion.

To commemorate the centenary of Lenin’s death, the Morning Star, the political mouthpiece of the Communist Party of Britain, has published a series of articles on his life and ideas.
Unfortunately, rather than present an accurate portrayal of Lenin, these only serve to distort and falsify his ideas.
‘Socialism in one country’
There are many things we could comment on. But what jumps out at you in particular is the absence of Lenin’s central struggle for the world proletarian revolution. His whole life is centred on this. This omission is therefore hardly a detail, and is clearly deliberate.
This gross distortion of Lenin is a direct reflection of the ‘Communist’ Party’s adoption of the nationalist, anti-Marxist theory of ‘socialism in one country’, originally put forward by Stalin in 1924.
Each country, according to this theory, should seek its “own” national road to socialism, isolated from the rest. This theory represented an abandonment of world revolution, and set the ‘communist’ parties long ago on the road to nationalist – and reformist – degeneration.
For decades, these parties slavishly followed every twist and turn in policy demanded by the Stalinist regime in Moscow.
Lenin viewed the Russian Revolution not as a ‘national event’, as ‘socialism in one country’, but as the beginning of the world revolution / Image: public domain
With the crisis and collapse of Stalinism, they broke free from Moscow’s orbit, but they then adapted themselves to home-grown reformism. They have long ago abandoned any pretence to genuine communism.
This fact prevents the Stalinists from ever producing a genuine history of Lenin and his ideas.
In fully embracing the theory of ‘socialism in one country’, they shamefully paint Lenin as a narrow Russian nationalist, simply concerned with ‘building socialism’ within the confines of Russia.
“When Lenin returned to Russia in April 1917 he published an important document, known as the April Theses,” writes Professor Mary Davis. “This set out the Bolshevik policy to transform the current Russian bourgeois / landowner republic – the product of the February 1917 revolution – into a socialist state.”
The Russian Revolution is framed by Mary Davis in purely national terms. But Lenin viewed the Russian Revolution not as a ‘national event’, as ‘socialism in one country’, but as the beginning of the world revolution. That is why he founded the Communist International as “the party of world revolution”.
The material basis for socialism does not exist in any one country – especially not in a backward country, as Russia was at that time – but on a world scale. The need for world revolution is not a sentimental idea, but flows from this fact.
Lenin hammered home this idea again and again. In fact, as soon as Lenin arrived at the Finland Station in April 1917, he turned his back on the reformist leaders of the soviets, and turned to the workers and soldiers: “I greet you as the vanguard of the world proletarian revolution”.
“Ever since 1917,” Lenin repeated later, “when we fought the bourgeois-republican governments in Russia, and ever since the power of the soviets was established at the end of 1917, we have been telling the workers again and again that the cardinal task, and the fundamental condition of our victory is to spread the revolution to, at least, a few of the most advanced countries.” (LCW, vol.32, p.113)
The world proletarian revolution was the very essence of Lenin.
‘Multipolar world’
In another Morning Star article, Carlos Martinez highlights Lenin’s struggle against imperialism. But in doing so, he mangles Lenin.
He talks glibly about the Bolsheviks promoting a “global anti-imperialist front”, when in reality they fought for world socialist revolution to overthrow capitalism and imperialism.
As Lenin explained, when addressing the communist organisations of the East:
“It is self-evident that final victory can be won only by the proletariat of all the advanced countries of the world, and we, the Russians, are beginning the work which the British, French or German proletariat will consolidate. But we see that they will not be victorious without the aid of the working people of all the oppressed colonial nations, first and foremost, of Eastern nations…
“You must find your way to the working and exploited masses of every country and tell them in a language they understand that their only hope of emancipation lies in the victory of the international revolution, and that the international proletariat is the only ally of all the hundreds of millions of the working and exploited peoples of the East.” (LCW, vol.30, pp.161-162)
According to Martinez:
“To be Marxist-Leninists in the 21st century means to return to a strategy of a worldwide united front between the socialist countries, the oppressed nations, and the working class in the imperialist countries.”
This “return” seems to point in the direction of the old ‘popular front’ of the 1930s: an alliance with bourgeois liberals and radicals, which had nothing in common with Lenin, who always fought for class independence.
In the early years of the last century, the decline of British imperialism did lead to a more ‘multipolar’ world / Image: own work
According to Martinez, this “front” will involve a series of “socialist” countries. But today you will find many of these countries are now in the camp of capitalism and the market economy.
This includes China, which has developed into a powerful imperialist country, pursuing its own imperialist interests in Africa and elsewhere – all under the tutelage of the so-called Chinese ‘Communist’ Party.
We are of course in defence of the Cuban revolution and breaking the imperialist blockade. But this can only be effectively done by mobilising the masses against the counter-revolution internally, and by extending the socialist revolution throughout the Americas and beyond.
A word of warning, however: if Cuba follows the capitalist road of China, it will be an unmitigated disaster.
Comrade Martinez writes that we must oppose “the campaign of containing and encircling China” and “support the emerging multipolar trend”.
There is nothing ‘progressive’ about the idea of a ‘multipolar’ world. Such a new setup would certainly not lead to stability, nor benefit the oppressed peoples of the world. It is the existence of capitalism that is the problem, not the ‘balance of power’.
In the early years of the last century, the decline of British imperialism did lead to a more ‘multipolar’ world, with the rise especially of Germany and the United States. But this only led to greater rivalries, and to the formation of new military blocks that prepared the way for the horrors of the First World War.
We firmly oppose American imperialism, the most reactionary power on the planet. But we do not spread illusions in ‘multipolar worlds’.
Today, the world has never been more unstable, with the rise of economic nationalism, protectionism, and the outline of trade wars – all a reflection of the crisis of capitalism.
‘United front’
What Martinez offers is a far cry from Lenin’s revolutionary policy. In fact, it is the opposite of a genuine communist policy. Lenin’s policy was not a so-called ‘united front’ with capitalist countries, but the building of the Communist International to promote world revolution.
Martinez has the effrontery to quote Stalin from 1924 – a man who betrayed the revolution and systematically murdered all those from Lenin’s leadership and millions of others.
It was in that year that Stalin adopted the anti-Marxist idea of ‘socialism in one country’, which turned the communist parties into border guards of the Moscow bureaucracy.
In 1943, Stalin dissolved the Communist International as a sop to the Allies / Image: public domain
In 1943, Stalin dissolved the Communist International as a sop to the Allies, although it had for a long time ceased to be a vehicle for revolution.
It is an ABC that we must stand against imperialist aggression and oppression. Communists do this, however, by basing themselves on the working class and its independent class interests.
Comrade Martinez urges us to fight oppression and support Venezuela.
Of course, we do fight oppression – with revolutionary policies. As far as Venezuela is concerned, however, the task remains of expropriating the oligarchy, as Chavez began to do, rather than retreating under the pressures of the imperialists.
Furthermore, as the Morning Star has correctly urged, the government of Maduro must desist from its repression of the left. This includes the Venezuelan Communist Party, which has been stripped of control of its name, symbols, and legal identity.
The fact that Maduro is attempting to crush the Venezuelan Communist Party, yet is supposedly part of Martinez’s “global united front”, should provide food for thought for communists.
Fight for genuine communism
The articles on Lenin in the Morning Star are a clear example of how far removed the ‘Communist’ Party of Britain is from the ideas of genuine communism.
Despite its name, this party has long ago become a reformist organisation, little different from the trade union and Labour ‘lefts’.
They are, in reality, sailing under a false flag.
We therefore call on all those who regard themselves as communists to return to the real ideas and traditions of Lenin, to build the Revolutionary Communist Party, and to fight for the proletarian revolution, in Britain and internationally.