Worthy Successor to Lenin Needed to Rediscover Communism

Today, the Indian communist movement needs a leader who could be a worthy successor to Lenin.

4 mins read
Lenin with Stalin

Nearly a century has passed since Vladimir Lenin, the initiator and doyen of the communist movement worldwide, passed away. The dream of Lenin to usher in a world led by the working class, characterized by no exploitation and total equality, has gone awry. Why has this happened? Who is responsible for this? Has communism collapsed under its own weight?

The voices of the toiling and much-exploited working class were heard loudly for the first time in the world when Karl Marx gave the clarion call: “workers in the world have nothing to lose except the chain.”

Vladimir Lenin was a staunch follower of Karl Marx, and he broadly tuned his thought process based on Karl Marx’s philosophy. It can be said that Lenin somewhat modified the advocacy of Karl Marx and took forward the working-class movement based on what he perceived as democratic centralism led by the working class.

As the revolutionary working-class movement gained strength under the guidance of Lenin, the Soviet Union, under the leadership of Lenin, became a one-party socialist state governed by the communist party (the Bolsheviks ultimately became the communist party of the Soviet Union).

Collapse of communism started in Stalin’s era

When Lenin passed away due to a debilitating stroke in January 1924, the communist party went under the control of Stalin in Soviet Russia.

The rise of Stalinism under Joseph Stalin resulted in a situation where the state virtually substituted itself for the working class. The Stalin regime was marked by repression, rigorous state control, and denial of rights for people, including those belonging to the working class, for whom the communist movement was originally launched and progressed.

What Karl Marx and Lenin wanted was much different from what happened under Stalin’s leadership in Soviet Russia and in subsequent periods in several so-called communist countries, including China and Cuba.

Certainly, Karl Marx and Lenin should have turned in their grave, as they would have felt very angry and upset about the misuse of their advocacy regarding the progressive and welfare-oriented working-class movement by Stalin and other leaders of communist parties in different countries in subsequent years.

One can say with reasonable confidence that the communist movement caused by Marx and Lenin lost all its shape and style and consequently lost its momentum, and finally, the communist governments collapsed in several countries, including Russia and the erstwhile Soviet Union.

Perhaps only two countries today claim to have a communist government, namely China and Cuba, which is a false claim.

Scenario in China

The so-called communist government in China today has no iota of communist philosophy in its functioning style and, at best, can be described as a government run by a coterie of so-called “people or working class representatives.” It is virtually a dictatorship form of governance where the state is controlled by a closely-knit team that constantly struggles to protect the power by hook or crook against another team.

There is no doubt that China has achieved an extraordinary level of technological and industrial progress and is claiming a superpower status now. But this has not happened by strictly following the philosophy of communism, which has the self-emancipation of the working class at its core. On the other hand, the so-called communist government in China has liberally adopted capitalist methods, and the industrial infrastructure and other projects in China are much led and guided by the private sector and multinational companies, and the share of participation of the state in such economic activities is steadily declining.

The communist philosophy calls for “land for the peasants and bread for the workers,” leading to the social ownership of all forms of wealth and properties and introducing economic reforms rooted in the socialist principle of cooperation and equality. Lenin certainly wanted to ensure personal freedom for the people that would challenge various forms of oppression.

What is happening in the so-called communist China is one hundred percent against such advocacy of communist philosophy echoed by Lenin.

Today’s Chinese government is doing great damage to the glorious philosophy enunciated by Karl Marx and Lenin by claiming itself to be a communist government and totally acting against the philosophy of communism, as understood by devoted and convinced communists all over the world.

Situation in Cuba:

The situation with regard to the communist movement in Cuba is no better than in China.

Scenario in India:

After independence, India had the glorious opportunity to promote and practice communist philosophy at its best, particularly under the leadership of towering personalities like EMS Namboodripad, who could understand and explain the core communist philosophy in its true sense.

Unfortunately, the communist movement in India appears to have lost its sense of direction after the glorious time of EMS Namboodripad, by converting itself to be a mere hate brigade against capitalism instead of strengthening the working-class movement and its inherent strength and power.

Unfortunately, the Communist Party of India was led so badly that it came to be identified with tactics like gherao and violent strategies and coercion to browbeat the promoters and managers of industrial and commercial centers. In the process, communists in India lost the race to those who advocated democratic socialism as against “oppressive” communism.

Communists in India have split under various nomenclatures without any reason or justification, perhaps due to ego-centric leaders.

Today, it appears that communism has lost its sheen in India and is unable to stand on its own based on the strength of communist philosophy and the standards of original thought leaders like Karl Marx and Lenin.

Let communism become a movement in India more than a political party:

Lenin wanted that the working class must move ahead to achieve social revolution.

After independence, communists in India had the glorious opportunity to get into power and achieve social revolution by participating in the democratic process and contesting in democratic elections. In such a process, some sort of success was achieved by E M S Namboodripad and Jyoti Basu, well-acknowledged communist leaders in the country.

However, after such success, in the subsequent days, instead of seeking votes on the basis of communist philosophy in elections and waiting for its time by building the party, communist parties in India are reducing themselves by seeking an alliance with parties, some of which have corrupt and feudal types of dynastic and communal leadership. In such conditions, communists do not seem to be convincing when they talk about the core value of communist philosophy.

The core value of communist philosophy still remains highly relevant in India. The level of political and administrative corruption in the country is creating a scenario where the results of welfare measures are not reaching the people, particularly those in the lower-income group.

During the time of Karl Marx and Lenin, the capitalists were exploiting the people. Today, in India, the corrupt forces are exploiting the people.

As a movement wedded to the philosophy of fighting against exploitation, there is a clear goal for communists in India to root out corruption in political, private, and public life. They can attain power in democratic elections to spread social revolution by taking up the anti-corruption cause with full force at their command.

Today, the Indian communist movement needs a leader who could be a worthy successor to Lenin.


N. S. Venkataraman is a trustee with the "Nandini Voice for the Deprived," a not-for-profit organization that aims to highlight the problems of downtrodden and deprived people and support their cause and to promote probity and ethical values in private and public life and to deliberate on socio-economic issues in a dispassionate and objective manner.

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