- by Floyd Kermode
- The Guardian
- Issue #2083
One hundred years ago, on 21 January 1924, Vladimir Ilyich Ulyanov, known to the world as Lenin, passed away. To paraphrase Engels’ words on Marx, one of the world’s greatest thinkers ceased to think. One hundred years is a long time, but we celebrate Lenin’s life and achievements today, and we need his ideas more than ever. Lenin’s collected works run to about 54 volumes. When asked for a top five Lenin works, a Communist Party of Australia veteran simply answered by asking ‘That depends. What are you reading Lenin for?”
It’s a good question. We read Lenin to understand imperialism, which is still in business. We read Lenin to understand how to run a communist party. We read him because we want to know why, and how the workers should run a society instead of being victims of it. We read him to learn how communist theory relates to the struggles we face right now.
Lenin was a political theorist and a politician, but there are many of those we don’t honour or remember. We celebrate Lenin’s life, achievements and thought because he was, and is a guide to action. Above all else, Lenin was an active revolutionary who showed the world that there could be a successful socialist state. He was instrumental in setting up the great nation that became the USSR, of which he was the first leader.
Lenin’s thought and his actions inspired communists around the world, and his influence can be seen in countries all around the world; socialist countries, like China, Vietnam, Cuba, DPRK, and Laos, but also countries where people are working to achieve socialism, including Australia.
The Communist Party’s bookshop has a number of Lenin’s better-known works, but to learn about Lenin’s legacy, join a Marxist-Leninist party!
Long live Lenin!