[CU for Friday, 16 October 2009]
“To be successful, insurrection must rely not upon conspiracy and not upon a party, but upon the advanced class. That is the first point. Insurrection must rely upon a revolutionary upsurge of the people. That is the second point. Insurrection must rely upon that turning-point in the history of the growing revolution when the activity of the advanced ranks of the people is at its height, and when the vacillations in the ranks of the enemy and in the ranks of the weak, half-hearted and irresolute friends of the revolution are strongest. That is the third point. And these three conditions for raising the question of insurrection distinguish Marxism from Blanquism.”
This wrote Lenin [Image], in “Marxism & Insurrection” (linked below), in September 1917, just before the Great October Russian Revolution.
Insurrection must rely upon the advanced class, and not upon the party. It must rely on an uprising of the people, and be timed to coincide with their maximum degree of resolution and the maximum degree of vacillation in the ranks of their enemies.
Lenin wrote “Guerrilla Warfare” (also linked below) 11 years earlier, just after the first Russian Revolution of 1905. Almost immediately in this work, Lenin plants his experienced revolutionary feet on solid revolutionary ground, thus:
“Marxism differs from all primitive forms of socialism by not binding the movement to any one particular form of struggle. It recognizes the most varied forms of struggle; and it does not "concoct" them, but only generalizes, organizes, gives conscious expression to those forms of struggle of the revolutionary classes which arise of themselves in the course of the movement. Absolutely hostile to all abstract formulas and to all doctrinaire recipes, Marxism demands an attentive attitude to the mass struggle in progress, which, as the movement develops, as the class consciousness of the masses grows, as economic and political crisis become acute, continually gives rise to new and more varied methods of defense and attack. Marxism, therefore, positively does not reject any form of struggle. Under no circumstances does Marxism confine itself to the forms of struggle possible and in existence at the given moment only, recognizing as it does that new forms of struggle, unknown to the participants of the given period, inevitably arise as the given social situation changes. In this respect Marxism learns, if we may so express it, from mass practice, and makes no claim whatever to teach the masses forms of struggle invented by ‘systematisers’ in the seclusion of their studies.”
Later in the same work, in which he defends the Latvian comrades who have taken up some forms of armed struggle, Lenin says:
“… such an objection would be a purely bourgeois-liberal and not a Marxist objection, because a Marxist cannot regards Civil War, or guerrilla warfare, which is one of its forms, as abnormal and demoralizing in general. A Marxist bases himself on the class struggle, and not social peace. In certain periods of acute economic and political crisis the class struggle ripens into a direct Civil War, i.e., into an armed struggle between two sections of the people. In such periods a Marxist is obliged to take the stand of Civil War. Any moral condemnation of Civil War would be absolutely impermissible from the standpoint of Marxism.”
The third linked item is from the earlier, pre-revolutionary period, where Lenin is denouncing the “Revolutionary Adventurism” of the “Socialist Revolutionaries”, and in particular, denouncing terrorism.
Click on these links:
Marxism & Insurrection, 1917, Lenin (2101 words)
Guerrilla Warfare, 1906, Lenin (3917 words)
Revolutionary Adventurism, 1902, Lenin (8645 words)