100 Years After his Death: The Revolutionary Legacy of Lenin

The 21 January 2024 marked the 100th anniversary of V.I. Lenin’s death. Unsurprisingly, this came with a plethora of slanders from various capitalist media outlets. Even so long after his death, Lenin’s ideas represent a threat to the mouthpieces of the establishment. Their system is in crisis, and Lenin’s revolutionary socialist legacy is as relevant as ever.

By Michael Marron

The 21 January 2024 marked the 100th anniversary of V.I. Lenin’s death. Unsurprisingly, this came with a plethora of slanders from various capitalist media outlets. Even so long after his death, Lenin’s ideas represent a threat to the mouthpieces of the establishment. Their system is in crisis, and Lenin’s revolutionary socialist legacy is as relevant as ever.

After his death, the Stalinist regime mythologised Lenin – warping his politics and legacy to suit the needs of the burgeoning bureaucracy replacing workers’ democracy. This, however, was the antithesis of what Lenin stood for and it is vital that the socialist and workers movement attempt to reclaim the real legacy of Lenin.

Witnessing the grinding poverty and brutal oppression of the Tsarist system in Russian, from an early age Lenin dedicated his life to the struggle of the working class against capitalism. Building on the ideas of Marx and Engels, Lenin argued that workers needed to get organised in a revolutionary socialist party fighting in their own interests.

In his work ‘What is to be done?’ Lenin argued that such a party needed to be a ‘tribune of the people’, taking up every brutal injustice that capitalism creates and aiming to organise workers to struggle against the system. For Lenin, such a party needed to be formed around a Marxist programme – a programme that has distilled the historical lessons of the class struggle and is also grounded in the struggles of the oppressed and working class today. 

The revolutionary party is the subjective factor that can make or break revolutionary events. This is the lesson taught by the success of the October Revolution of 1917- the first successful socialist revolution that created the first workers state. That the Bolshevik party was able to lead the Russian working class to political power in the October Revolution was no accident. Lenin consistently fought for the Bolsheviks to adopt the necessary revolutionary practice needed for the working class to seize power. Lenin’s ‘April Theses’ was an intuitive and sharp insight into what was needed in practice for the working class in the struggle against capitalism and corrected a mistaken approach of some Bolsheviks of giving critical support to the provisional government.

Lenin made a number of contributions to Marxism that remain poignant to this day. A variety of theoretical works like ‘Imperialism as the Highest Stage of Capitalism’ and ‘State and Revolution’ are indispensable for socialists. Capitalism today has entered an ‘age of disorder’ and is in a perpetual state of crises: the emergence of a new cold war and the ramping up of inter-imperialist tensions between the US and China, the re-emergence of various national questions, the proxy wars being fought in numerous regions and the increasing state repression as explosive protest movements spring up across the world are just some examples. 

This brief article in no way can capture the complete legacy that Lenin left but that in itself is a testament to the depth of Lenin’s political ideas and life. Lenin provided many important lessons for socialists today and on the anniversary of his death, it is vital we instil them in our work in the struggle for a socialist society.

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