Friday, March 15, 2024

Aleka Papariga — Lenin on the role of the revolutionary vanguard, the Communist Party

By Nikos Mottas.

On the occasion of the 100th anniversary of Vladimir Ilyich Lenin's death, an important event titled “Lenin on the role of the revolutionary vanguard, the Communist Party” was organized on Wednesday 13 March in the fully-packed “Studio” cinema, in the heart of Athens. 

The keynote speaker was Aleka Papariga, the former General Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Greece (KKE), former MP and currently member of the CC. The speech was followed by the screening of the 1937 Mikhail Romm classic film “Lenin in October”. 

Beginning her speech, on the occasion of the film that followed, Papariga underlined that the surrounding atmosphere during the October Revolution “proves that the Bolshevik party, the leading revolutionary forces were ideologically, politically, organizationally well prepared”. She noted that the personalities of Marx, Engels and Lenin were “extraordinary geniuses” but if the evaluation of their contribution is made by merely highlighting their personalities then “we would be imitating the bourgeois historians and politicians who, referring to social evolution and to the succession of socio-economic systems, focus to the role of personalities, leaders, emperors, kings, presidents, prime ministers and political leaders in general”.

Thus, especially for Lenin, cde Papariga emphasized that “he lived in the era when capitalism was passing through its last, highest stage, the monopolistic or imperialist stage, as it was also called, which was marked by imperialist wars, socialist revolutions, that is the era of transition from capitalism to socialism. He lived close to and inside the workers' struggles, not only in Russia but also in the capitalist states where he was exiled. This is how he understood the imperative and immediate need for conscious preparation for the socialist revolution which required, first of all, the establishment of a Party of New Type, the communist one”.

Aleka Papariga underline that “Lenin elaborated the necessity of establishing a workers' revolutionary party as a party of socialist revolution, of the dictatorship of the proletariat and the socialist construction”. For this purpose, “he studied the problems concerning the labor movement in Russia, in Europe, in contrast to the Western European labor reformist parties that promoted opportunism, reformism thus abandoning the revolutionary principles of Marxism”.

The speaker also focused on the period of preparation for the establishment of Bolshevik Party when, led by Lenin himself, “a great ideological battle took place against the perceptions that considered that the mass and political struggle should be limited to economic demands. Lenin vigorously fought against localism, practicalism, fragmentation and submission to the temporary, i.e to what is possible within capitalism's framework. “In fact, Lenin opposed all those who prioritized reforms within the framework of capitalism over the necessity of revolution”, Papariga said.  

She added that Lenin “put forward the necessity of a unified, democratically elaborated centralized party work, hence the center of guidance which ensures  unity of action, as well as specialization, thus the adaptation to particularities that concern a specific and inevitably limited by its nature party area of responsibility, at local, territorial, operational, sectoral level, etc. Expertise, adaptation, flexibility, all free from the risk of narrowing and “dehydrating” the ideological and political content of action. Yes to popularization, but no simplification”.

Furthermore, cde Aleka Papariga underlined: “Under Lenin's leadership, the Bolshevik Party proved that it could orientate itself and act within the proletarian, poor masses, having as a criterion the current tasks without being distracted from the main purpose for which it was founded, that is the struggle for socialism”. She continued by saying that :the visibility, the horizon of its activity didn't shrink, didn't narrow under any objective pressing needs, in times of illegality, defeat and retreat, imperialist war, persecutions and attacks that are completely compatible with bourgeois parliamentary democracy”.

Referring to the foundation of the Bolshevik Party, the former General Secretary pointed out that “first of all, it changed completely a previously formed fact when the development of Marx and Engels revolutionary theory and Lenin's first years of activity were developing outside the framework of the workers' movement. As forerunners and, above all, as pioneers they undertook the responsibility to introduce the scientific communist theory to the ranks of the struggling proletariat. Back then, the prevailing tendency was the entry of theory from the outside in. The foundation of the Party changed things drastically, as it undertook the task of study, creative assimilation and dissemination of theory to the working class, research study work for its further elaboration based on the developments and the new evolving requirements. The leninist position “without revolutionary theory there is no revolutionary act” applies to the Communist Party, not only in its early years, but throughout its course”.

Continuing on the subject, Papariga said that Lenin “conducted an ideological war to establish and therefore to defend the workers' character of the Party, not only as a declaration but also in its social composition, in the organs and the Party Base Organizations (PBOs), as well as the pioneering role of the labor movement, the issue of working class hegemony in socialist revolution, the necessity of the dictatorship of the proletariat. He even used this specific term in order to clearly highlight the diametrical constrast with the dictatorship of the bourgeoisie. He defined the conditions for the admission of members to the Party and the necessity of adopting three interconnected forms of struggle, the ideological,  political and mass one, i.e proletarian internationalism, as the marxist-leninist Party's theoretical basis.”

Lenin made clear that “ideology will be either socialist or bourgeois, there is no middle ground. A position that is timely, timeless and fundamental”, Papariga added.

The centralization of the demands and goals of the struggle at a national level

Referring to the period from the establishment of the Bolshevik Party up to 1917, cde Papariga noted that “the labor struggle, under the guidance of the Bolshevik Party, was developing and tending to single broader political goals, as the unification of struggle at a national level was prompty demanding and realistic”. She underlined that in a sense “in such conditions, the generalization of slogans, the centralization of struggle fronts and the promotion of single, or two or three other slogans, becomes relatively easier, in order to promote the working class alliance as well”.

“That is why”, Papariga stressed out, “the role of the Communist Party is decisive in the elaboration of a competetive framework of rallying and social alliance. A rallying line that takes into account the maturity level of the working-popular masses, but at the same time must contribute to their ideological and political advancement, with goals, fermentation arguments that encourage the cultivation of a radical consciousness”.

Based on the above, Papariga underlined that the KKE “has gained positive experience on this matter and steadily elaborates the line of anti-capitalist, anti-monopoly rallying and struggle”. After all, as she noted, “the study of Leninist teaching contains abundant evidence, useful experience, as Lenin was taking into account the level of socio-political consciousness of the masses, but without submitting to it”.

Ideological unity and unity of action

In her speech, Aleka Papariga also addressed the issue of how Lenin “proved that the declaration of the struggle for socialism isn't enough, but unity is required in the issues of theory, program and again, ideological unity isn't enough by itself; and that is why he elaborated the Statute and the organizational principles, the rules of Party operation”. All these, she noted, “have a profound ideological and political context since they are determined by the historical mission of the working class for the overthrow of capitalism and the transition to socialist construction”.

In her closing remarks, comrade Papariga emphasized on the importance of studying the subjective factor and generalizing the experience of party building. “The Party's fundamental principles are fixed and timeless. This doesn't mean that there is no need to study the experience resulting from the activity of the Communist Parties in the 20th Century and the important developments in the process of capitalist society, the positive and negative experience that emerged in the countries of socialist construction, that is the study of the Party's activity as a subjective guiding factor”.

Concerning the KKE, Papariga pointed out: “Our Party began the effort to study the subjective factor during the socialist construction period, especially in the USSR, under the pressing need to provide answers on what happened and the countrerrevolution prevailed”, adding that “we didn't leave our own Party out of criticism and judgement”, referring to the volumes of the Party History Essay.

More specifically, she said that a better effort was made in the last two Congresses of the KKE, the 20th Congress in 2017 and the 21st in 2021, “in order to highlight problems-links in the operation and activity of the Party, “especially the need to strengthen the theoretical and ideological element in the operation of all guiding bodies, therefore also of the Party Base Organizations (PBOs), so that the practical political and mass tasks are fully and correctly illuminated”.

“We study, plan and act deep within the masses, within the class struggle, through the daily activity of the Party we highlight the possibilities and values of the new society, socialism-communism and we become highly prepared as a Party of “New Type”, comrade Aleka Papariga concluded. 

* Nikos Mottas is the Editor-in-Chief of In Defense of Communism.