Theory & Struggle

Lenin’s ideas on revolution: Are they still relevant today?

Theory & Struggle (2021), 122, (1), 178–189.

Abstract

Lenin provided the intellectual foundation of Bolshevik political practice. He combined political economy, geopolitics, political organisation and a sociology of social structure to form an innovative revolutionary praxis. The Bolshevik seizure of power and subsequent Soviet economic and political development became a model for revolutionary socialist parties, notably in China. The author contends that he had an over-optimistic prediction for the disintegration of monopoly capitalism and only a partial analysis of the working classes in the advanced capitalist countries. Consequently, expected socialist revolutions have not occurred in the advanced capitalist countries. When the preconditions for revolution are absent, a complementary dimension to Lenin is the endorsement of reform and participation in capitalist regimes. The dismantling of the Soviet Union and the eastern European communist regimes in the late twentieth century, and the reversion to private property and competitive market relations, delivered a mortal blow to the communist system. Today, Lenin’s political approach requires a redefinition of countervailing forces and class alliances and a shift of focus from the semi-periphery to the ‘strongest links’ in the capitalist chain. The author considers that a ‘return to Lenin’ is not to adopt his policies, but a prompt to reinvent a socialist political and economic vision derived from Marx’s analysis of capitalism.

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Author details

Lane, David