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The following article was prompted by reading “Lenin’s analysis of imperialism – a pioneering work”. (Published in the Australian Marxist Review No 60 December 2015 written by Lars Ulrik Thomsen.)
In his own words …
What can we learn from Lenin’s work on imperialism?
Kumpf studies the process that has to be followed in the analysis, if the result is to be in accordance with philosophical logic. This includes the transition from the abstract to the concrete, and the relation between formal and dialectical logic in the investigation.
Dialectical logic is the process in the head of the artist and, together with the reflection of reality, constitutes dialectical materialism.
The role of Practice and Theory
In the process of doing our Party’s work, how can we unite with as many people as possible?
There is a long history of deciding questions on the basis of citations from the classics rather than from a careful study of contemporary conditions that surrounds us. We are attracted to a process of applying the experience of other countries and other times to our reality, rather than to scientifically sum up our own experiences. This process advocates that theory should be primary over practice, and demands first of all to have theoretical clarity before practice and unity.
We all have theories of how to change our reality. But how true is our knowledge of reality? What investigations have been made? In the process of changing the world around us we will learn more about reality and the necessary steps to change it. Correct theory cannot be known in advance. It can only emerge in the process of change. All attempts to establish theoretical clarity before engaging in practice are necessarily doomed to failure. The standpoint of practice is the primary and basic standpoint in the dialectical-materialist theory of knowledge.
If you want to know a certain thing or a certain class of things directly, you must personally participate in the practical struggle to change that reality, to change, that situation or class of things. Only once you try to change something can you come into contact with its phenomena; only through personal participation in the practical struggle to change reality can you uncover the essence of that thing or class of things and comprehend them. If you want knowledge, you must take part in the practice of changing reality.
Discover the truth through practice, and again through practice verify and develop the truth. Start from perceptual knowledge and actively develop it into rational knowledge.
Within the Party we must learn how to think and work together. It is a necessity that we have different views and opinions but there comes a point where we make formal decisions and we must come together and implement our strategy. Later we come together to review our work based on concrete results.
Practice, knowledge, again practice, and again knowledge. This repeats itself in endless cycles, and with each cycle the content of practice and knowledge rises to a higher level. Such is the whole of the dialectical-materialist theory of knowledge, and such is the dialectical-materialist theory of the spiral development of theory and practice. The only basis for a detailed strategy and for achieving unity around that strategy is involved in the practice of changing that reality.
We work with people outside the Party on many issues. Sometimes the benefits might be transient and the unity might be short lived, but we don’t insist that they must accept our analysis of the struggle. Most importantly is that we accept this reality, otherwise our ‘exclusiveness’ will hinder the Party’s task of uniting the people in an issue, campaign or struggle.
This exclusiveness is sectarianism and it can be expressed in so many different ways, the way we speak and the way we portray ourselves. How often are we in the same action, the same demonstration with people “who we will not work with”? Yet we can’t sit down and work on things together. This does not mean viewpoints are not important, but at that moment they are secondary and not preventing joint action together. This is democratic centralism in practice, and is often the basis of successful work in a trade union. Why can’t we adopt this style of work in the Party? Unity is strength. This is one thing the working people around the world have learnt. How often have we heard ‘the people united will never be defeated!
We have to learn the process of uniting within a common struggle. Taking an arrogant attitude puts blocks in the way of working together on issues and stops us from learning from others. It also generates numerous tiny sects rather than a united party. Each sect insists that it has the correct interpretation of the sacred authority, and that if only the working class could see it, then it would become the leader of the revolution.
This is based upon placing theory in command, rather than practice. It believes that a theoretical battle often waged in a hostile and unconstructive way, can demolish “bad lines” and result in establishing the “correct line”. This ignores the real process of validation of a strategy through practice. Only through testing in struggle will correctness and unity be developed.
The primary struggle in the world today is the struggle against the forces controlled by US Imperialism. China, whether it is socialist or not, is providing the economic space for third world nations, enabling them to move away from the World Bank and US corporations. For more developed countries such as Australia, this rising strength of China divides our ruling class and undermines the once secure hold Anglo-US Imperialism had on this country and indeed the whole region of Asia. These divisions raise the possibilities of a counter to the Imperialist program of war, terror, austerity, instability and destruction.
Within a united struggle the issues arise of an anti imperialist program of peace, independence and land rights for indigenous people. Countering the imperialist program of deconstruction of our industries we demand scientific and economic reconstruction. Against the attack on working people we call for unity and resistance.
The basis our work is how to unite with people in this struggle and building a strong Communist Party to defend them.
Workers of the world-Unite!