3. The value of strategy and tactics appropriate to current conditions in each country
Ahead of Lenin, Plekhanov held the view that the Russian revolution needed to pass through the bourgeois democratic stage before the socialist stage because the industrial proletariat in Russia was still a small minority class, incapable of carrying out a socialist revolution immediately. The Mensheviks took the line that the bourgeois democratic revolution had to be led by the bourgeoisie which would develop capitalism further and thereby enlarge the industrial proletariat.
Indeed, the industrial proletariat amounted to a small percentage of the Russian population and was in a few enclaves in an ocean of feudalism and medievalism. But Lenin asserted that the proletariat and its revolutionary party could lead the Russian revolution in both the bourgeois democratic revolution and socialist stages by having for its main ally the peasantry, win over the middle social strata and take advantage of contradictions among the reactionaries in order to overthrow Tsarist rule. Thus, he set the revolutionary class line in drawing up the strategy and tactics of the Russian revolution.
In the February revolution of 1917, the leaders of the bourgeois democratic parties, the Mensheviks and the peasant-based Socialist Revolutionary Party had the initiative in taking power and installing the Provisional Government. They were supported by the Petrograd soviets of workers and soldiers which were then led by the Mensheviks and Socialist Revolutionaries who bowed to the bourgeois leadership of Kerensky.
Upon his arrival in Petrograd in April 1917, Lenin called for all power to the soviets even as the soviets of workers, peasants and soldiers were still under the leadership of the Mensheviks and Socialist Revolutionaries. But he persuaded the Bolshevik Party Central Committee to approve his line and program: to withhold support from the Provisional Government and win a majority in the soviets in favor of soviet power.
He proposed that upon its establishment the Soviet government would begin immediate negotiations for a general peace on all fronts and the soviets would confiscate the landlords’ estates without compensation, nationalize all land, and divide it among the peasants. And the government would put privately owned industry under strict control for the benefit of labor.
From March to September 1917, the Bolsheviks successfully engaged in propaganda and agitation and eventually gained the majority in the soviets. The Kerensky government became discredited by the breakdown of the economy and deterioration of the living conditions of the workers, peasants, and soldiers and the refusal of Kerensky to withdraw from the war and complete the revolution. He could only feebly promise a freely elected constituent assembly upon the return of order.
Lenin and the Bolsheviks won the support of the soviets and the masses as they demanded peace, land, and bread. By September, the soviets elected a Bolshevik majority in the Petrograd Soviet and in the soviets of the major cities and towns throughout the country. The line and program put forward by Lenin proved to be correct and successful.
The stage was already set for the seizure of political power in October. But Lenin still had to take grave personal risk by slipping into Petrograd in order to attend the secret meeting of the Bolshevik Party Central Committee to persuade his comrades to prepare for the seizure of political power. The plan was to muster the support of soldiers and sailors and to train the Red Guards, the Bolshevik-led workers’ militia, for carrying out the October revolution.
After the overthrow of the Provisional Government, the Bolsheviks and their Left Socialist Revolutionary allies became the absolute majority of the Second All-Russian Congress of Soviets. Consequently, the delegates voted overwhelmingly to accept full power and elected Lenin as chairman of the Council of People’s Commissars, the new Soviet Government, and approved his Peace Decree and Land Decree.
In forging the Brest-Litovsk Peace Treaty with the Central Powers, the Soviet Government was prepared to fight and defeat the Russian counterrevolutionary armies led by former Tsarist allies and the foreign interventionists from the Allied Powers. The soviets of workers, peasants and soldiers became a bulwark of revolutionary strength as the fighting moved from the cities and trunklines to the expanse of the countryside. The Leninist line of upholding and respecting the right of the non-Russian nationalities to national self-determination enabled the formation of the Soviet Union as a multi-national federation.
Lenin founded the Third International in order to unite all workers of the world for the cause of socialism and proletarian internationalism and fight against imperialism, revisionism and all reaction. It aimed to encourage the proletarian parties to wage revolution or at the least counter aggression by the imperialist powers against the Soviet Union. Shortly after the death of Lenin, the Soviet Union was recognized by most governments. In the long run, the Comintern had great success in inspiring the rise of communist parties capable of establishing several socialist countries and leading national liberation movements in colonies and semi-colonies.
Relative to the anti-imperialist organizations and movements that are now involved in the worldwide mass protests, we must understand that for the revolutionary movement to win victory against imperialism and establish socialism it must have a revolutionary class line and the correct strategy and tactics in order to build the strength of the basic revolutionary forces led by the proletariat, win over allies and take advantage of the splits among the class adversaries at home and abroad in order to isolate and defeat the enemy.
Lenin and the Bolsheviks applied the theory and practice of Marxism in the concrete conditions of Russia in order to arrive at the correct strategy and tactics and win the revolution in the biggest country of the world. So would the Communist Party of China and other proletarian revolutionary parties apply Marxism-Leninism in their respective countries and win the revolution among one-third of humankind.
Leninism’s valuable legacy of universal applicability includes the deepgoing class basis of strategy and tactics in terms of identifying and accurately characterizing the contradictions among classes, how these have changed from one historical stage to the next, how these are expressed in the arena of economic, political and ideological struggles, in the specific roles of party platforms and movements. Lenin’s significant contributions to the peasant-agrarian and national-colonial questions have been of immense value to succeeding generations of revolutionaries worldwide.
So many proletarian parties have drawn lessons of strategy and tactics from Lenin and his worthy successors Stalin, Mao and others. They creatively applied these lessons to their own victorious revolutionary movements. The treasury of Marxism-Leninism-Maoism, rather than remain static, has thus been tremendously enriched by genuine Marxist-Leninists in the past several decades amidst the changing global conditions, including the setbacks suffered by the world proletarian revolution and despite the global offensives of the imperialist bourgeoisie.
Proletarian parties that are seriously preparing for or actually waging armed revolution understand that many other aspects and elements of strategy and tactics must be worked out in the context of concrete conditions prevailing in their respective countries, which may vary widely from country to country. These may include questions on agrarian or preindustrial conditions, certain new elements of capitalist development or imperialist control, changing characteristics of the land and people, growing and waning geopolitical factors, and so on—which will impact strategy and tactics and be of wider interest when shared and discussed between or among parties.
We are now in transit to the great resurgence of anti-imperialist struggles and the world proletarian revolution. We look forward to the application of Marxism-Leninism-Maoism by proletarian revolutionary parties in more countries than ever before. We expect these parties to achieve unprecedentedly greater victories for the cause of socialism.
The epochal struggle between the proletariat and the bourgeoisie and between socialism and imperialism continues. So long as the proletariat and people of the world are oppressed and exploited, they will rise up time and again in order to liberate themselves from the shackles of oppression and exploitation.
Celebrate Leninism and the 150th birth anniversary of the great Lenin!
Carry out the revolution under the leadership of the proletariat!
Long live Marxism-Leninism-Maoism!
Long live the world proletarian revolution!
Long live proletarian internationalism and the solidarity of all peoples!
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