The Guardian • Issue #2086

Lenin: Marxism from the universal to the specific

  • The Guardian
  • Issue #2086
David Matters at the CPA Conference 2024

David Matters.

The recent Communist Party Organising Conference in Sydney this January coincided with the 100th anniversary of Lenin’s death. As part of a celebration of Lenin’s life, Comrade David Matters gave an illuminating presentation on Lenin’s ideas and their use for communists today. We present excerpts here.


From a concrete study and practice in a localised context Lenin universalised Marxism. He fused his practice of Marxism in Russia by restoring the revolutionary content of Marxism. He advanced the development of Marx and Engels’ revolutionary theory, rescuing Marx and Engels from the clutches of the Opportunists.

Lenin opened the path towards human liberation.

He advanced and consolidated the organising principles established by Marx and Engels to lead the advanced class in its historic mission to liberate humanity from  blind chance.

The understanding that freedom is gained through understanding necessity

Lenin is relevant today. There is no possibility of a socialist revolution without the practice of Leninism. The attempts to present non-Marxist Ideas as Marxism have resulted in disastrous outcomes for the people of the world.

National Question

On the National Question, it is because of Lenin’s work that the Communist Party has placed so much importance on the National Liberation struggle of our first nations people.

There will be no socialist revolution in Australia without combating and overcoming the white supremacist approach of colonialism.

Self-determination reflects through the essentially bourgeois democratic reforms of land rights, land Councils recognition of country unity of our class is not possible without support of our class for these rights. These are the essentials that form the basis of Leninism.

Lenin’s work The Right of Nations to self-determination set forth a clear class policy that links the workers of oppressed nationalities with the workers of the oppressed nationality. Not giving way to bourgeois nationalism or to Social Chauvinism as the essential to unity of all workers.

Lenin grasped the class struggle as the motive force of social development.

To understand this analysis of the class struggle is to grasp Leninism. It is not the blind repetition of formulas but a concrete analysis of the emerging struggle.

Leninism is the philosophical foundation of the working class. It is the scientific application of Marxism to the task of liberating the working class and advancing the new society.

Lenin raises the importance of the theory of Scientific Socialism (Marxism) as the guide to revolutionary action; the unity of theory and practice.

The development of a party of the class steeped in practical revolutionary experience, A party organised on the lines of Democratic centralism.

He espoused the need to develop a party of professional revolutionaries…as a party organically linked with the working classes drawing the best elements from them, leading and directing through thousands of threads.

Lenin’s struggle against right-wing and left-wing opportunism (including the peculiar mix that Trotskyism is of both). Opportunism in its twin forms is in essence the capitulation of the workers struggle to the bourgeoise.

Abstention from the use of bourgeois parliaments to wage the struggle was one variety of the ‘Left’ capitulation to the bourgeoisie.

Parliamentarianism and gradualism are other forms, as it economism, the separation and restriction of workers’ struggles to the legalism of bourgeois parliaments and narrow trade union politics.

The ultra left purism that rejects the temporary alliances with other classes and forces to advance the struggle is yet another.

Lenin set forth a new theory of Socialist Revolution: that the workers will establish their political power and exercise it through the dictatorship of the proletariat in one or more countries (at the weakest link), and that the proletariat as the advanced, the revolutionary class would have to complete the bourgeois democratic tasks to overcome feudal relics and other vestiges of previous modes of social relations. That the development of this struggle depended not on the level of economic development but on the balance of class forces. That this situation came about because capitalism had reached its final stage.

Lenin understood that imperialism is a particular form of capitalism developing towards monopoly that this began to form towards State Monopoly Capitalism.

Lenin advocated the development of the bourgeois democratic revolution into the socialist revolution.

Lenin also foresaw how the enemies of social progress would obscure their banner for the restoration of capitalism under the use of revised formulas of Marxism or by clinging to outdated formulas as dogma.

When Lenin realised that his party was inadequate to the huge task it had set for themselves, he did not run off in despair. He set to work to study to expose to find the threads of development.

(At the conclusion of his presentation, David Matters suggested that comrades read or re-read Lenin’s speech on the fourth anniversary of the October Revolution. We will leave the final word to Lenin himself.)


We in Russia no longer have the base, mean and infamous denial of rights to women or inequality of the sexes, that disgusting survival of feudalism and medievalism, which is being renovated by the avaricious bourgeoisie and the dull-witted and frightened petty bourgeoisie in every other country in the world without exception.

… the slaves have replied to a war between slave-owners by openly proclaiming the slogan: “Convert this war between slave-owners for the division of their loot into a war of the slaves of all nations against the slave-owners of all nations.”

For the first time in hundreds and thousands of years that slogan has grown from a vague and helpless waiting into a clear and definite political programme, into an effective struggle waged by millions of oppressed people under the leadership of the proletariat.

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