We stand in the tradition of one of the pre-eminent political strategists in world history. Lenin contributed enormously to our understanding of how we can best organize ourselves to both build working class movements, and at the same time a socialist cadre capable of helping to lead in struggle. Many of these ideas helped shape the Bolshevik party, the only group in the history of the world to lead a successful revolution from below.
As with any strategy, Lenin’s ideas cannot be understood without also understanding the context in which these ideas were being produced. This includes all sorts of considerations, including: material conditions, balance of forces, where popular consciousness lay, as well as what was widely agreed upon and what was argued about in socialist circles.
By situating Lenin’s major writings in just this sort of context, Lenin’s Political Thought by Neil Harding is an invaluable tool for engaging with a method of political strategy. Learning from this history, and deciding collectively what is useful, is a vital component of determining what strategic course(s) to pursue today. This is true both for new and experienced activists.
Friday, January 24 at 7pm
CUNY Graduate Center
365 5th Ave and 34th St
This discussion will be largely focused on the question of the role of socialist organization. Questions we will take up include:
What is the value of socialists organizing with one another, as opposed to simply being leading members of workplace or social struggles?
What is the relationship between socialists – and socialist organizations –
What is different about the context in which Lenin was writing? What is similar?
What is our project today as a socialist organization?
Other points of interest and questions relating to the text are certainly welcome.
NOTE: The Haymarket Books edition can be purchased here and is a collection of two books. We will just be reading the first half (pp 1-300) with particular emphasis on chapters:
5: From Economic Agitation to Political Agitation (109-134)
6: Turn-of-the-Century Crisis — The Threat to Orthodoxy (135-160)
7: The Reaffirmation of Orthodozy — Social-Democratic Consciousness and the Party (161-196)