The recent events in Russia, particularly a number of references made at the 20th Congress of the Russian Communist Party, have brought back into public discussion issues and problems concerning the history of 20th century radicalism that for a good many years had been confined to specialized circles. The following article, though written before the 20th Congress, provides a useful summary account of the events that have led to the recent revelations.
Lenin believed that the socialist movement alone could endow
the workers with political consciousness. As he saw it, the socialist movement and idea had their birth and existence apart from the proletariat: “By their social situation … Marx and Engels were bourgeois intellectuals. Similarly in Russia the theoretical doctrine of Social Democracy arose quite independently of the spontaneous growth of the labor movement: it was the natural and inevitable result of the development of thought among the revolutionary socialist intellectuals.”
As for the spontaneous struggle of the workers, “the labor movement isolated from Social Democracy declines and inevitably founders in the bourgeois mire,” and “the working class loses its political independence…”...
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