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By Lars T. Lih
In place of an introduction
February 25, 2017 — Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal reposted from John Riddell's Marxist Essays and Commentary website — The following essay was written in 2011 for circulation among colleagues. I have decided to publish it unchanged in 2017 for two main reasons. First and foremost, the essay explains and documents the views of Lenin, the Russian Bolshevik Alexander Bogdanov, and Karl Kautsky on a crucial issue: the proper relations between workers and intellectuals within Social Democracy. It therefore serves as an extension of my earlier attack on the “textbook interpretation” of Lenin’s views.
By Eric Blanc
October 14, 2016 — Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal reposted from John Riddell’s blog with permission — This article reexamines the perspectives on the state and revolution advocated by the early Karl Kautsky and revolutionary social democrats across the Tsarist Empire. Contrary to a common misconception, these “orthodox” Marxists rejected the possibility of a peaceful and gradualist utilization of the capitalist state for socialist transformation. I show that Second International “orthodoxy” proved to be a sufficiently radical political foundation for the Bolsheviks and Finnish socialists to lead the Twentieth century’s first anti-capitalist seizures of power.
[Original article in English here]
By Eric Blanc
June 3, 2016 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal traducido para Sin Permiso por G. Buster -- En los últimos años, los socialistas han discutido encarnizadamente sobre la cuestión de los llamados “partidos amplios”. Muchos han defendido que hay que desechar el modelo "leninista" en favor de formaciones más amplias, como Syriza, Podemos, el Partido Laborista británico, los Verdes, etc. Otros han rechazado participar en este tipo de organizaciones, con el argumento "leninista" de que la construcción de partidos marxistas revolucionarios independientes sigue siendo la tarea de organización estratégica de los socialistas.
Entrelazado con este debate ha habido una seria reevaluación del propio "leninismo". En particular, después de la publicación del monumental Lenin Rediscovered de Lars T. Lih, se han abierto algunas grandes interrogantes: ¿Rompió Lenin en la teoría y / o práctica con la estrategia "ortodoxa" articulada por el teórico marxista Karl Kautsky? ¿Fueron los bolcheviques, en otras palabras, un "partido de nuevo tipo"?
By Eric Blanc
May 25, 2016 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal reposted from JohnRiddell.wordpress.com -- The question of broad parties has been heatedly debated by socialists in recent years. Many have argued that “Leninism” should be discarded in favor of wider formations such as Syriza, Podemos, the British Labour Party, the Greens, etc. Others have rejected participating in such structures, on the “Leninist” grounds that building independent revolutionary Marxist parties remains the strategic organizational task for socialists.
Intertwined with this debate has been a serious reassessment of “Leninism” itself. Particularly following the publication of Lars Lih’s monumental Lenin Rediscovered, big questions are being asked: Did Lenin break in theory and/or practice with the “orthodox” strategy articulated by Marxist theoretician Karl Kautsky? Were the Bolsheviks, in other words, a “party of a new type”?
Industrial Workers of the World poster against WWI.
By Doug Enaa Greene
February 2, 2015 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- It has been a hundred years since the outbreak of the First World War. The centennial of the “war to end all wars” has seen countless commemorations of the millions of heroic soldiers who made the supreme sacrifice for king and country.
Yet missing from all of the observances of the war are the deeper questions of its causes – to divide colonies among predatory ruling classes – and the heroism of those who opposed the mass slaughter. And for the left, that is how we should remember this 100th anniversary – but honoring those socialists and communists who fought against all the odds to end the slaughter.
[English at "Lars Lih on Lenin and Kautsky: 'The strange case of the closeted Lenin'", http://links.org.au/node/4186.]
Por Lars Lih, traducción para www.sinpermiso.info: Gustavo Buster
14/12/14 -- Sinpermiso.info -- En primer lugar, permítanme decir que es muy elogioso tener dos críticas - una sustancial, la otra no - a mis puntos de vista sobre Lenin publicados recientemente. La primera es de Kevin Corr y Gareth Jenkins, del SWP) y la segunda está escrita por Peter Taaffe del Socialist Party in England and Wales.
En mi opinión, la crítica de Taaffe no tiene que ver con mis puntos de vista y no le interesa realmente lo que defiendo. Peter Taaffe simplemente afirma que escribo frases pretenciosas, románticas y después expone sus propios puntos de vista. No es una polémica seria digna de una respuesta. Por su parte, sin embargo, Corr y Jenkins en su artículo, "El caso de la desaparición de Lenin”, pretenden refutar mis puntos de vista reales y en su mayor parte su crítica hace un buen trabajo a la hora de resumir cuales son..
Solía existir en la izquierda una narrativa lineal, indiscutible, que era algo como:
December 4, 2014 -- Weekly Worker, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- According to some comrades in the Socialist Workers Party (UK), Lenin was a hypocrite who did not say what he thought. In this article, based on a speech to a London Communist Forum, Lars T. Lih puts the record straight.
* * *
First of all let me say that it is very complimentary to have two critiques -- one substantial, one not -- of my views on Lenin recently published. The first is by Kevin Corr and Gareth Jenkins of the Socialist Workers Party1 and the second is written by Peter Taaffe of the Socialist Party in England and Wales.2
Lars Lih has explored the political and theoretical relationships between Lenin and Karl Kautsky.
Lars Lih interviewed by Dario Cankovic
October 2, 2013 -- The North Star, submitted to Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal by Dario Cankovic -- Lars T. Lih lives and works in Montreal, Quebec. He is an adjunct professor of musicology at the Schulich School of Music, McGill University and writes about Russian and socialist history on his own time. His books include Bread and Authority in Russia, 1914-1921 (1990), Lenin Rediscovered: What Is to Be Done in Context (2006) and Lenin (2011), a biography. Links to his articles online can be found here.
Cover of Lars Lih's latest book, Lenin (London: Reaktion Books, 2011).
By Paul Le Blanc
June 14, 2011 -- Europe Solidare Sans Frontieres -- I will never forget, as the 20th century trudged through its final decade, a once-close comrade telling me and others that developments of our time had consigned the Leninist conception of the party to “the dustbin of history”. Yet its dusty tracks may be something we will discover as we make our way into the near future. Polemical sparks spraying out from those engaged in the vibrant renewal of Lenin scholarship suggest that it still has life.
In 2008 – while on a Left Forum panel entitled “Lenin’s Return”, and in surveying the recent proliferation of works on Lenin at that time, including Lars Lih’s huge and important book Lenin Rediscovered – I said:
By Graham Milner
Lenin stands out as one of the unquestionably great personalities of 20th century history. Yet such has been the impact of this man on the course of history in this century that his life and ideas have often become the subject of either the most vicious distortion or the most abject and craven cult-worship.
Lenin is said to have requested that no great fuss be made in commemorating his death, and that no personality cult be allowed to develop around him. Lenin recognised that tendency that turns the most revolutionary figures, after their deaths, into harmless icons -- to be worshipped, while their ideas are ignored. He had seen Marx's legacy treated in this way by leading ``Marxists'' in the Second International, and had spent most of the latter part (and a good deal of the former part) of his political life fighting the disastrous consequences of this tendency for the socialist movement.
Lenin's ``successors'' in the Kremlin repeated the errors of Second International's Eduard Bernstein and Karl Kautsky. Each May Day parade in Moscow, the Soviet hierarchs stood atop Lenin's mausoleum, like pygmies. The greater were Lenin's praises sung, the wider grew the gap between the practice and the prattle of the Soviet bureaucrats. On the other side of the Cold War divide, distortion and denigration called the tune.