Commemorating the Death Centenary of Vladimir Ilyich Ulyanov
In the spectacular galaxy of twentieth century revolutionaries, Lenin is widely recognised as the brightest star. As a theorist, publicist and activist rolled into one, as a party-builder and leader of leaders, as a visionary with a magical power of arousing the masses in revolutionary action, and as the principal architect of the world's first socialist state, what he achieved in a lifespan of fifty-four years is truly astonishing.
Not only did he establish, with great theoretical rigor, the strong possibility of the global chain of imperialism breaking at its weakest link, thus ushering in socialism in one or a few country/countries to begin with, he proved it in real life almost simultaneously with the publication of his Imperialism, the Highest Stage of Capitalism. He thus inherited the theory propounded by Marx and Engles, elevated it to a new height and carried the great work initiated by the heroes of the Paris Commune to consummation. Among all his qualities and contributions, what made Lenin the most beloved hero of the wretched of the Earth – and the most hated enemy of the richest of the Earth -- was his revolutionary audacity to move the mountains (as Rosa told Clara).
For the sanguivores, his second major crime is that he refuses to die and continues to egg on the toiling millions the world over to rebel against every kind of tyranny and exploitation. Naturally, the most successful enemy of the bourgeois order has always and everywhere been a prime target of vicious attacks from forces of status quo and reaction.
In our country, ‘Guru’ Golwalkar, following his Guru Hitler’ singled out communists as the most hated political enemy. In an overt symbolism, the BJP in 2018 celebrated its electoral victory over the ruling Left Front government in Tripura by bulldozing a grand statue of Lenin. The regime has chosen to use the generic term urban Naxal (and its variations like cultural Naxals) to harass and imprison anyone who dares to dissent and speak truth to power as a terrorist and security-threat to the nation. To buttress this fascist campaign, the government has now drastically revised the relevant laws to arrogate to itself arbitrary powers to declare any peaceful protest or public discourse that contradicts the official narrative as terrorist activity, often branding the leaders as urban Naxals.
To this expanded Modi version of McCarthyism add the brazen attacks on our lives and livelihood, our Constitution and rule of law, our secular-pluralist traditions and syncretic cultural ethos, our civil and human rights including the right to privacy and dignity -- you get to see the deep dark clouds of a diabolic dystopia gathering overhead. We must act now to disperse the calamitous clouds and save the nation. We must act swiftly, decisively and with abundant trust on the masses in the spirit of Lenin.
Just five days prior to his untimely death, Lenin said in a dictated note:
“Napoleon, I think, wrote: ‘First engage in a serious battle and then see what happens.’ Well, we did first engage in a serious battle in October 1917, and then saw such details of development ... as the Brest peace, the New Economic Policy, and so forth. And now there can be no doubt that in the main we have been victorious.”
Come, let us engage more seriously in the ongoing battle to defeat the fascist juggernaut in the hustings, on the streets and no less important, in the socio-cultural/ ideological plane; and then see what happens and what is to be done next.
It was in 1907 at the World Congress of the Second International at Stuttgart when Rosa Luxemburg, who possessed an artist's eye for the characteristic, pointed Lenin out to me with the remark: ‘Take a good look at him. That is Lenin. Look at the self-willed, stubborn head. A real Russian peasant's head with a few faintly Asiatic lines. That man will try to overturn mountains. Perhaps he will be crushed by them. But he will never yield."
- Clara Zetkin,
Reminiscences of Lenin