SOCIALISM/ COMMUNISM & V. I. LENIN’S “WHAT IS TO BE DONE” INTRODUCTION
The reading examined is from a book written by V. I. Lenin in 1902. “What Is To Be Done” presents Lenin’s program for Marxists in the Russian Empire. He studied Law and would become active in radical politics, seizing power in Russia in 1917 as the leader of the Bolshevik party – the first successful communist revolution1. Lenin reveals three elements for Social Democracy in Russia. The first is the fate of the movement as dependent on the strengthening of one or the other shade. The second is the movement as an international movement, making use of the experiences of other countries. The third element is the national tasks of Russian Social-Democracy are such as “have never confronted any other socialist party in the world2”. For a Social-Democratic society to succeed in Russia, the party must be guided by the most advanced theory.
STRIKES IN 19C RUSSIA
The struggles of Russian society in the 19th century were a result of reduced faith in the stability of the system the working class possessed3. Marx and Engels renamed the working class the proletariat – the single industrial working class4. Lenin supports his claim by noting a series of strikes in the 19th century, specifically in the 1960s, 70s and 90s. These conflicts were union struggles for the most part and not yet Social-Democratic. The strikes of the 1990s initiated the awakening antagonisms between workers and employees but these workers were not aware of their interests within the context of a modern political and social system, rather the strikes represented the class struggle in the “embryo”5.
Lenin argues that because there has been no talk of an independent ideology by the proletariat themselves in the process of their movement, then there are only two choices: socialist or bourgeois ideology6. The latter is what Marx refers to as the owners or upper class escaping the impoverished condition of the proletariat7. On the contrast, when Lenin mentions a socialist ideology as an alternative he is specific to the ideology of the second international of the International Workingmen’s Association. The Second International expressed itself in revolutionary exaggeration; however its political practices were transformative and constitutional8.
ELEMENTS FOR THE REVOLUTION
For a Social-Democracy to take form in Russia there must be a solid foundation of revolutionaries. This will ensure the stability of the movement as a whole and convey the goals of both Social-Democracy and trade unions. Lenin argues that a broad workers’ organization will fail at achieving the goals of Social-Democracy and trade unions because it views will remain scattered and forces will constantly be broken up by the police9. In order for this revolution to take place, there must be a stable organization of leaders with principles of revolutionary activity and there must be support by the working class and other social classes who will be able to join the movement and execute active work within it10.