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If I were Canadian, I'd vote for:
Progressive Conservatives (aka "Tory Scum") 20%
Liberals 0%
NDP 20%
Canadian Alliance 0%
Bloc Quebecois 0%
Christian Heritage 0%
Green Party 20%
Marijuana Party 20%
Rhinocerous Party 20%

Votes: 5

 Why Lenin?

 Author:  Topic:  Posted:
Jul 24, 2001
In Canada, it is not uncommon to see political parties and student organizations of radical left orientation referring to themselves as "Marxist-Leninist". This begs the question, particularly given the fact that these latter-day Communists seem to be for a modern & democratic socialism, as opposed to a "dictatorship of the proletariat" - why Lenin?
I'm not certain of the history here, but for some reason Canada has two parties which call themselves Communist - the aforementioned (and unfortunately named) "Communist Party of Canada Marxist-Leninist" and the "Communist Party of Canada". One is led to believe that there has perhaps been schism at some point, but I don't know for certain.

I've met briefly a few people involved with Marxist-Leninist Party Clubs at universities in Ontario, and I have read a fair amount of their propaganda, and for the most part I would say that these are not the effete weekend revolutionaries, swooning over escapist visions of 1917, that one might expect. Rather they are quite serious and committed to the rebuilding of socialism in Canada, having watched it torn to shreds in the past decade by the provincial Tories (under the rather notorious Mike Harris) and our federal "Third-Way" Liberal government (under the rather geriatic, if occasionally amusing Jean Chretien). Generally the programmes of the two Communist parties are much the same, and both seem to want direct democracy before any sort of dictator state. These people are leftists of all stripes who feel betrayed and let down by the ineffectual (and now unelectable and spineless) New Democratic Party. You can thank Bob Rae for that.

Anyways, the fact that neither Commie party is even remotely electable is besides the point. More realistic is the possibility that the NDP Socialist Caucus will manage to wrest control of the party from the whinging worms at the helm today, or better yet succeed in dismantling the party and reforming it as a broad left-wing coalition party (a left-wing version of the ill-fated Canadian Alliance if you will). But all the arcane Canadian political trivia aside, getting back to the point - how can any modern socialist call oneself a Leninist? Tagging oneself a Marxist is perhaps forgiveable, if pointless, but Lenin was a bit too much a despot for my tastes.

I don't want to be misunderstood here; Lenin was a great man, who oversaw the creation of the first viable socialist state in world history. I think to cast him as either villain or hero is absurdly reductionist considering the complexity of the problems he faced. But still I tend to subscribe to the point of view that says, even though Lenin may have had the foresight to suggest Stalin be removed from the party before it was too late, his mistakes still paved the way for Uncle Joe; he built the foundations of what would soon become totalitarianism. As soon as truth became malleable and at the mercy of the state in revolutionary Russia, the counterrevolution was already completed, and completed by the Bolsheviki themselves.

It may well be true that if not for some of the drastic measures Lenin took, the revolution would have collapsed early on due to outside antagonism and civil war. Indeed it is a question worth asking, if Canada was to go genuinely socialist tommorow, would the United States not immediately attempt to subvert such a development, perhaps by way of outright military occupation? Would a socialist Canada require a militarized "dictatorship of the proletariat" to remain stable in it's early years, and if so, how could it ever after that become in any sense 'democratic' again? But, regardless of the answer to these questions, I still cannot see why Lenin, or Trotsky for that matter, should be taken to be guiding lights for leftists in the 21st century. Kronstadt was the beginning of the end for any hope of true proletarian revolution (or rather, the state corruption and ruthlessness that led to it was), and the men responsible for painting the Kronstadt sailors as White traitors and annihilating them are, whatever their accomplishments, not worthy of our praise or respect.

So why do some Western socialists today insist on calling themselves Marxists, Leninists, Trotskyites, and hence assuring that they have no political viability whatsoever? Marx's theories, however accurate, do not fit very well the vastly different world, and the vastly different kind of capitalism, we live in and under today. Lenin's methods are surely unworkable in this day and age. Socialism is in a bad way in North America right now, to say the least, and clinging to the ghosts of the past and giving ourselves such ridiculous handles as "Leninist" doesn't help our case any. I recently finished Orwell's "The Road to Wigan Pier", and sadly I can't help but wonder if the bourgeois socialists of our day don't marginalize and make asses of themselves even moreso than the British ones Orwell attacks with such clarity in the latter half of that book.

Anyway. I'm rambling on here, and a friend has just arrived, eager to get at my oven and bake some marijuana cookies. Any thoughts, criticisms, flames? For the most part the "Marxist-Leninists" I've encountered are far from the sort of "hey baby I'm a revolutionary" students I'd expected, the kind who will have a mortgage and vote Tory 10 years from now - I just want to understand why they would choose to carry all that idealogical baggage like an albatross around their necks, when what we need desperately is not old dogmas, but new ideas and initiatives. Why Lenin?

Oh, and by the way : blargh!


Revolootion (none / 0) (#1)
by Rand Race on Tue Jul 24th, 2001 at 02:28:32 PM PST
Keep in mind that Marx always saw his revolution occuring in already industrialized nations. Lennin, and more notably Mao, had to first bring their states out of fuedalism and skip strait to socialism leaving out the capitalist stage Marx felt to be required for the revolution to occur succesfully. Here is Trotsky's view on American communism and how it's nature would differ from Sovietism which must take into account "the culturally backward peoples of the Soviet Union".


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