The Communists fight for the attainment of the immediate aims, for the enforcement of the momentary interests of the working class; but in the movement of the present, they also represent and take care of the future of that movement.
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Emile Burns – Introduction to Marxism
A Scientific View of the World
Marxism is a general theory of the world in which we live, and of human society as a part of that world. It takes its name from Karl Marx (1818-1883), who, together with Friedrich Engels (1820-1895), worked out the theory during the middle and latter part of last century.
They set out to discover why human society is what it is, why it changes, and what further changes are in store for mankind. Their studies led them to the conclusion that these changes – like the changes in external nature-are not accidental, but follow certain laws. This fact makes it possible to work out a scientific theory of society, based on the actual experience of men, as opposed to the vague notions about society which used to be (and still are) put forward – notions associated with religious beliefs, race and hero-worship, personal inclinations or Utopian dreams.
“What, then, in the last analysis, is Leninism?
Leninism is Marxism of the era of imperialism and the proletarian revolution. To be more exact, Leninism is the theory and tactics of the proletarian revolution in general, the theory and tactics of the dictatorship of the proletariat in particular. Marx and Engels pursued their activities in the pre-revolutionary period (we have the proletarian revolution in mind), when developed imperialism did not yet exist, in the period of the proletarians’ preparation for revolution, in the period when the proletarian revolution was not yet an immediate practical inevitability. But Lenin, the disciple of Marx and Engels, pursued his activities in the period of developed imperialism, in the period of the unfolding proletarian revolution, when the proletarian revolution had already triumphed in one country, had smashed bourgeois democracy and had ushered in the era of proletarian democracy, the era of the Soviets.
That is why Leninism is the further development of Marxism.
It is usual to point to the exceptionally militant and exceptionally revolutionary character of Leninism. This is quite correct. But this specific feature of Leninism is due to two causes: firstly, to the fact that Leninism emerged from the proletarian revolution, the imprint of which it cannot but bear; secondly, to the fact that it grew and became strong in clashes with the opportunism of the Second International, the fight against which was and remains an essential preliminary condition for a successful fight against capitalism. It must not be forgotten that between Marx and Engels, on the one hand, and Lenin, on the other, there lies a whole period of undivided domination of the opportunism of the Second International, and the ruthless struggle against this opportunism could not but constitute one of the most important tasks of Leninism.”