A Caricature of Marxism and Imperialist Economism

A Caricature of Marxism and Imperialist Economism

by Vladimir Ilyich Lenin

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Overview

No one can discredit revolutionary Social-Democracy as long as it does not discredit itself.” That maxim always comes to mind, and must always be borne in mind, when any major theoretical or tactical proposition of Marxism is victorious, or even placed on the order of the day, and when, besides outright and resolute opponents, it is assailed by friends who hopelessly discredit and disparage it and turn it into a caricature. That has happened time and again in the history of the Russian Social-Democratic movement. In the early nineties, the victory of Marxism in the revolutionary movement was attended by the emergence of a caricature of Marxism in the shape of Economism, or “strikeism”. The Iskrists would not have been able to uphold the fundamentals of proletarian theory and policy, either against petty-bourgeois Narodism or bourgeois liberalism, without long years of struggle against Economism. It was the same with Bolshevism, which triumphed in the mass labour movement in 1905 due, among other things, to correct application of the boycott of the tsarist Duma slogan in the autumn of 1905, when the key battles of the Russian revolution were being fought. Bolshevism had to face—and overcome by struggle—another caricature in 1908–10, when Alexinsky and others noisily opposed participation in the Third Duma.
It is the same today too. Recognition of the present war as imperialist and emphasis on its close connection with the imperialist era of capitalism encounters not only resolute opponents, but also irresolute friends, for whom the word “imperialism” has become all the rage. Having memorised the word, they are offering the workers hopelessly confused theories and reviving many of the old mistakes of the old Economism. Capitalism has triumphed—therefore there is no need to bother with political problems, the old Economists reasoned in 1894–1901, falling into rejection of the political struggle in Russia. Imperialism has triumphed—therefore there is no need to bother with the problems of political democracy, reason the present-day imperialist Economists. Kievsky’s article, printed above, merits attention as a sample of these sentiments, as one such caricature of Marxism, as the first attempt to provide anything like an integral literary exposition of the vacillation that has been apparent in certain circles of our Party abroad since early 1915.
If imperialist Economism were to spread among the Marxists, who in the present great crisis of socialism have resolutely come out against social-chauvinism and for revolutionary internationalism, that would be a very grave blow to our trend—and to our Party. For it would discredit it from within, from its own ranks, would make it a vehicle of caricaturized Marxism. It is therefore necessary to thoroughly discuss at least the most important of Kievsky’s numerous errors, regardless of how “uninteresting” this may be, and regardless of the fact, also, that all too often we shall have to tediously explain elementary truths which the thoughtful and attentive reader has learned and understood long since from our literature of 1914 and 1915.
We shall begin with the “central” point of Kievsky’s disquisitions in order to immediately bring to the reader the very “substance” of this new trend of imperialist Economism.

Product Details

BN ID: 2940013132337
Publisher: Leila's Books
Publication date: 08/12/2011
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
File size: 110 KB

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