Lenin and the Path to Revolution: 3 Part Course with Brian Becker

Feb 23, 2024

This 3 part course with Brian Becker focuses on the life, and legacy of Lenin, the formation of Leninism, and the revolutionary paths it generated across the world. It was recorded in November and December of 2023.

For those interested in further studying Lenin see the following study guides on some of his major works: The right of nations to self-determination; “Left-wing” Communism; Imperialism, the highest stage of capitalism; and The state and revolution.

For study guides and course materials that focus on the practical application of Lenin to the current socialist movement see these resources: Imperialism in the 21st Century; Revolution Manifesto; and Storming the Gates. 

In addition, the following study guide for Walter Rodney’s work on the Russian Revolution and Lenin offers important connections between the Russian revolution and the socialist revolutions sweeping Africa and much of the so-called third world in the post-World War II era: The Russian Revolution: A view from the Third World.

Finally, the 4 part course, “Black struggle is class struggle,” offers important insights on the Black Revolutionary History in the United States and its central role in the development of U.S. society today.

Introduction

Vladimir Ilyich Ulyanov, more commonly known as Lenin, is a well-loved revolutionary across countries and movements, whose name embodies the spirit of working-class internationalism.

Lenin and his successful leadership of the Bolsheviks not only proved the capacity of the proletariat to seize power but successfully established the first socialist state in 1917, demonstrating Marxism as a powerful and revolutionary force for the working class. A hundred years later, Lenin’s theories and strategies continue to illuminate the path forward for people and movements committed to building working class power, showing the necessary steps for achieving worldwide socialist revolution.

Session 1 – Lenin the Revolutionary

World War 1 was one of the deadliest wars in global history, resulting in an estimated 18 million people deaths. In the midst of the ravaging war, Lenin proclaimed that this war was not a war for the people, but rather that the Great Powers were waging “a war for the sake of the profits of the capitalists…out of the blood of the proletariat”. Through this, Lenin advanced the theory of revolutionary defeatism, calling for the working class to take advantage of the crisis at war time and to turn an imperialist war into a class war. 5 years later, the October Revolution, with the Bolsheviks and Lenin at the helm, was successful.

Session 2 – Third International and the Beginning of the Formation of Leninism

Following the success of the October Revolution, and embarking on the process of building socialism in post-war Russia, it became clear that socialism cannot solely exist in one country, but a socialist revolution was necessary in all parts of the world. Thus, the Third International, also known as the Communist International (COMINTERN) was formed in 1918 to aid international proletariat revolution, supporting movements from Vietnam, the U.S., South Africa and beyond. The principles of the COMINTERN, known as the Twenty-One conditions, placed a strong emphasis on anti-imperialism, centralized leadership, and internationalism, all tenets that shape Leninism as a political ideology that guides successful movements today.

Session 3 – Leninism and World Revolution

Through the application of Marxism to suit the conditions in Russia, Lenin set the precedent for millions of revolutionaries, influencing movements in China, Cuba, Korea, Guinea-Bissau, and beyond to smash the shackles of Western imperialism and build a workers’ state. Lenin’s insights helped clarify the necessary components of making a socialist revolution, proving to be crucial for revolutionaries across the world who are embedded in struggle. A century later, Leninism continues to guide international working class movements, serving as a reminder that a “concrete analysis of a concrete situation” remains essential for revolution – a pivotal step along our ‘path to final victory’.

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