Posted 9 months ago on July 29, 2012, 7:02 p.m. EST by OldCrow
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"..The general problem is that the other side – Lenin would have said the capitalist side; in 2011, that designation was effectively replaced by “the one-percent” – is organized. It has a state to do its bidding, what Marx called an “executive committee” of the entire ruling class. In these circumstances, “the ninety-nine percent” has no choice but to respond, as best it can, in kind, by doing its utmost to constitute a rival executive committee…" "…For those who would take the message of “What Is To Be Done?” to heart, the remedy is clear: we need to construct a leadership that is capable of making change happen when the time again arises, as it surely will. The problem now, as always, is how to get from here to there. That was the problem Lenin addressed for his time and place. In Russia in 1903, he had to contend with a far more repressive state than we do in 2012. But with all the means the one percent now has at its disposal for shaping opinion and stifling dissent, the obstacles we face are at least as daunting. The way forward will not be easy. But we won’t get anywhere unless we try. The Occupy movements showed that real change is possible, that the human material necessary for making it happen is there. They showed that “we, the people,” enough of us anyway, are prepared to wake up and fight back.…."
WEEKEND EDITION JULY 27-29, 2012
Lessons for the Left From Lenin
What Is To Be Done … Now?
by ANDREW LEVINE
In one of his final columns for CounterPunch (July 6-8, 2012), Alexander Cockburn gently took to task those of us, himself included, who went overboard investing hope in the Occupy movements and other spontaneous domestic uprisings of 2011. Too many of us – I among them – were so swept up by the enthusiasms of the moment that we forgot some well-established truths. As so often before, Cockburn’s words gave voice to what I along with many others had already come to realize, but was not yet ready to articulate. Now, however, there is no excuse; the time is past due to recall the basics. This was Cockburn’s point. It is therefore to his memory that I dedicate this appreciation of one of the most castigated but also one of greatest and most pertinent classics of political thought. Nearly eleven decades have passed since the publication of V.I. Lenin’s “What Is To Be Done?” This remarkable pamphlet – actually, a short book — was a political intervention focused on issues confronting the Russian Social Democratic movement at the dawn of the twentieth century. Much or its content is peculiar to the time and place of its composition. There is therefore a sense in which, with each passing year, it becomes increasingly anachronistic. Even so, it is not just the pamphlet’s title question that remains timely. For although it was not intended as a theoretical treatise, it was evident from the beginning that it can be read as one and that, in that capacity, it can be enormously enlightening. Ironically, this has never been truer than it now is, and not just in parts of the world that, like Russia in 1903, are comparatively “backward.” The Left in the United States today, what there is of it, would do well to take on board that text’s core principles – adapted, of course, to the circumstances we nowadays confront. The most basic of those principles is that, for fundamental political change, leadership and direction is indispensable. To put the point in a way that sounds hopelessly anachronistic: insurgent masses need a revolutionary vanguard….