The Guardian • Issue #2095

Happy Birthday, Lenin

Lenin

Ninety-five years ago, the African-American poet Langston Hughes wrote, “Lenin walks around the world, Frontiers cannot bar him … Lenin walks around the world, Black, brown and white receive him.”

Hughes was writing about Vladimir Lenin, a leader of the Russian Revolution – the world’s first socialist revolution. 22 April is the 174th anniversary of Lenin’s birth.

Lenin took up scientific socialism where its founders, Karl Marx and Frederick Engels, left off. He analysed imperialism, a phase of capitalism he said was characterised by huge monopolies, the dominance of big banks and the carving up of the world among the great capitalist powers.

The growth of the transnational corporations and the ruthlessness of many imperialist governments, with the US at the fore, show that Lenin’s analysis was right.

Lenin didn’t stop there. He underlined the need of workers in the imperialist countries to further their own class interests in allying with the peoples of oppressed nations.

He noted that the exploiters of those countries were the same exploiters of workers in the oppressor nations. Seeing the need to end that shared exploitation, he called for changing the slogan “Workers of the world unite” to “Workers and oppressed peoples of the world unite.”

That slogan still rings true today.

The contribution that Lenin made to the theory of imperialism was immense, as were his other contributions, like the need for a political party that represents the interests of the working class and its allies, the Communist Party.

Lenin still walks around the world – in the struggles for workers and oppressed people to be free from poverty, exploitation, war and racism — and to join together to build a better world.

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