From a talk given by Arjae Red, an initial organizer with Starbucks Workers United and an anti-imperialist fighter, at the panel on “Internationalism Today — A Global Struggle, during the International Assembly against Imperialism in Solidarity with Palestine, held on Jan. 21 in New York City.
I want to talk today about what Leninism means to me. There are many things that Leninism is, but if I had to summarize the essence of Leninism, I would say that it is revolution. Karl Marx wrote: “The philosophers have only interpreted the world in various ways; but what really matters is to change it.” This is the attitude embodied by Lenin, and this is what each of us must exemplify.
Leninism is not just a tool we use to analyze the world we live in and the class forces at play. It is a doctrine of action. This commitment to our immersion in the struggle and taking on the vicious capitalist-imperialist system headfirst is what sets communists apart.
We are not just critics and theorists. We are organizers, fighters and partisans for the global working class.
Once we understand that we are not passive spectators to our own exploitation, we become the pivotal factor in our collective liberation — and we are ready to embrace Leninism.
Frantz Fanon said: “Colonialism is not a thinking machine, nor a body endowed with reasoning faculties. It is violence in its natural state, and it will only yield when confronted with greater violence.”
Leninists do not shy away from the fight. We understand that there is no way to reach a better world but through a fight. What Frantz Fanon said is what the people on the front lines against imperialism intimately understand — in Palestine, in Yemen, in the Philippines and all places where the masses of workers and colonized peoples are waging a people’s war for their liberation.
The sharpening contradictions in the global capitalist system are creating very exciting and sometimes terrifying developments in the world. Anti-imperialist forces of all stripes, communist or not, are lining up on the same side against imperialism. But these alliances, which are not always formed on a class basis, present complicated and unique challenges for us as communists. We must be able to navigate these developments and turn on a dime when necessary.
We are situated in the core of the imperialist beast, inside the fortress of the world capitalist system. We cannot afford — the world cannot afford — for us to sit back and simply cheer for our side. We need to do everything we possibly can to be a factor in the struggle.
The task ahead of us is no small one. But as Lenin demonstrated to us with the Bolshevik Revolution, and what was demonstrated by revolutions in China, Vietnam, Cuba and many other countries, is that this fight is not unwinnable, no matter how impossible it may seem.
With all the technology, money and weapons at the disposal of the empire, imperialism remains a paper tiger. Without any of these advantages, our class has the key to victory — the millions of resilient people who will no longer tolerate their own destruction for the enrichment of a few.
Smash U.S. imperialism! Build a workers’ world!