Lenin and internationalism

JEFF SPARROW jeffs at werple.mira.net.au
Wed May 30 00:02:00 MDT 2001


"Louis: Welcome to the Marxism li*st, Jeff. Its too bad Lenin didn't have 
access to all of the insights you have achieved in your short lifetime 
with the benefit of hindsight. Do you review revolutions the way Siskel 
and Ebert review movies? Besides frowning on the efforts of Lenin, what 
work are you doing so that our generation won't fuck up so badly as the 
left of Lenin's generation did?

Can't wait to find out."


Is this necessary? 

The point of my post was to argue that Lenin was wrong not to pay more attention to the pre-war development of social democracy. 

As the originator of this thread initially  argued, if you hold that the revolution can only succeed on an international scale (as Lenin did), then the growth of centrist tendencies in the organisation most crucial to the world revolution (ie the SPD) is a life and death question. And it is simply a fact that Lenin was slower to recognise Kautsky's centrism than either Luxembourg or Trotsky.

As I suggested, Lenin's later recognition of the importance of the international movement became obvious in the role he played in the Comintern.

This is all straightforward, and I would have thought, hardly terribly controversial. People who start frothing at the faintest suggestion that Lenin might have made a mistake somewhere in his career (especially when they provide no evidence to support their defense of his actions) understand nothing of Leninism.

Louis' sneering remarks about hindsight are particularly silly. Of course, we have more insights today than Lenin did. That's what the revolutionary organisation is for - as the memory of the class, it is supposed to look at the successes and the failures of the past. 

The point of Marxism is not, as Louis seems to think, to simply worship at the feet of the historical good guys. Marxism is a guide to action, which means we examine the experience of the past (in its context), learn from the mistakes and try to build an organisation that won't repeat them.

At least, that's how I understood it. But perhaps I haven't been hanging around the internet enough.

YTFR
Jeff


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