CHRIS CUTRONE’S RECENT ARTICLE “Lenin’s Liberalism” (Platypus Review #36) claims that Lenin’s politics are distorted when characterized as a pure opposition to bourgeois conditions. In fact, he suggests that Lenin insisted on “the mediation of politics in society” even after the creation of a “workers’ state,” demonstrating a liberal desire to preserve certain features of bourgeois society. His use of Lenin’s theory regarding the continuation of “bourgeois right” betrays an inattention to the context of Lenin’s remarks, and the notion that Lenin applied a liberal perspective to the question of working class political power does not ring true.
THE PRINCIPAL MISTAKE MADE by those who contemplate Lenin's political thought and action is due to assumptions that are made about the relation of socialism to democracy. Lenin was not an “undemocratic socialist” or one who prioritized socialism as an “end” over the “means” of democracy. Lenin did not think that once a majority of workers was won to socialist revolution democracy was finished. Lenin was not an authoritarian socialist.
A HISTORICALLY ADEQUATE INTERPRETATION of Lenin’s Marxism must begin with the recognition that Lenin’s legacy is essentially a political application of Marx’s theory of capital as a historically-specific social formation. It required further development in light of experiences under determinate historical circumstances, such as the development of capitalism in Russia, the Russian Revolution of 1905, the crisis of Marxism in 1914, the evolution of imperialism, the October Revolution of 1917, War Communism, and the New Economic Policy.
At the 2011 Left Forum, held at Pace University in NYC between March 18–21, Platypus hosted a conversation on “Lenin’s Marxism.” The panelists were Chris Cutrone of Platypus, Paul Le Blanc of the International Socialist Organization, and Lars T. Lih, the author of Lenin Reconsidered: “What is to be Done?” in Context.
At the 2011 Left Forum, held at Pace University in NYC between March 18-21 , Platypus hosted a conversation on “Lenin’s Marxism,” with panelists Chris Cutrone of Platypus, Paul LeBlanc of the International Socialist Organization, and Lars T. Lih, the author of Lenin Reconsidered: “What is to be Done” in Context. Our last issue (PR #35) included opening remarks by Paul LeBlanc, what follows below are Chris Cutrone’s opening remarks.