Lenin's Political Thought
Theory and Practice in the Democratic and Socialist Revolutions
Caricatured as a superhuman idol in the former Communist states, the Russian revolutionary socialist V. I. Lenin has long been reversely caricatured in the West as an authoritarian elitist. In this brilliant, carefully researched analysis, Neil Harding upends these traditional Cold War interpretations of Lenin’s thought and activity. Harding shows how Lenin’s flexible and continuously changing theoretical, strategic, and tactical insights were firmly grounded in the emancipatory potential for working-class revolution in Russia and globally.
While many scholars of Lenin have debated the merits of his organizational politics in great detail, lost in most assessments of Lenin’s legacy and leadership style is a critical appreciation of his theoretical contributions. Where his engagement with Marxism is considered, Lenin is frequently accused of manipulating or distorting Marx’s principles. Yet, to assume Marxism to be an orthodoxy impervious to adaptation to the complex and changing world is to misunderstand Marxism altogether.
This book engages with the full trajectory of Lenin’s political philosophy from 1893 to the 1920s. Throughout his career, Lenin employed Marxist philosophy as a guide to understanding class relations, consciousness, and the revolutionary process. His insights into the nature of imperialism, the class character of movements for national liberation, and the role of the modern state remain central to understanding capitalist economic and political developments today.
No sincere study of Lenin’s activity as a revolutionary leader can be undertaken without a thorough understanding of his theoretical perspectives. Harding masterfully addresses both these critical aspects of the life and work of one of history’s most controversial and misunderstood figures.