Daily Archives: 14/03/2013

From Theory to Practice, Taking a Critical Look at Leninism

lenin1This is a piece we’re sharing originally posted to Machete 408 by Adam Weaver. It is a review/summation piece is being released in conjunction with a forthcoming piece by Scott Nappolas which presents an extensive discussion of Lenin’s concept of democratic centralism. (soon to be linked)

From Theory to Practice, Taking a Critical Look at Leninism

A Look At Leninism by Ron Taber. 104 pp. New York , New York : Aspect Foundation, 1988

Where can those looking for a critical understanding of Lenin turn? How can we better understand how the Russian Revolution begin as the first modern anti-capitalist revolution from below with workers taking over and running their workplaces, peasants seizing the land, and the creation of democratic soviets (worker committees)? And then in less than a decade its devolution into the brutal dictatorship of Stalin? Is there a continuity between the ideas of Lenin and his particular brand of Marxism that reshaped the Marxist movement in the 1920’s and the number of revolutionary parties that would later achieve state power and claim the Bolshevik party and Lenin as their model and inspiration?

Little known and barely circulated now over two decades since publication in 1988, A Look At Lenin by Ron Taber is perhaps the only systematic and thorough critique of Leninism as examined through the writings and work of Lenin and the Bolshevik party. For this reason it has been a favorite of mine since I picked it up as a teenage reader of the late Love and Rage magazine. When I came across the book I was someone struggling with and questioning my relationship with anarchism at the time and looking in other directions such as the Leninist tradition. While Taber’s piece did not answer many of the larger political questions I was grappling with at the time (no matter where I’m at politically I don’t think that itch will ever go away), it did help me think deeper about Leninism as a tradition as well as with understanding better the problems I saw in many Leninist inspired political organizations that I was beginning to come into contact with at the time. Continue reading