What Is to Be Done?
Burning Questions of Our Movement
Arrigo Cervetto – The Decisive Struggle
This work saw the light of day in the heat of a decisive battle for the international proletariat.
What Is to Be Done? constituted the essential weapon with which to fight revisionism. This, even in its Russian form, denied the scientific nature of Marxist analysis, i.e. it excluded for the proletariat even the possibility of equipping itself with a strategy.
What Is to Be Done? is the precious magnifying glass that allows us to reread the chapters of the history of our class from a Leninist point of view.
Between 1884 and 1894, Marxist theory gathered strength, but the Marxists, among the currents of avant-garde thought, only had very few disciples. Between 1894 and 1898, the labour movement revealed its political awakening in the struggle via strikes. 1898-1902 was a period of dispersion, of theoretical and organisational eclecticism; it was the artisanal phase of the political struggle fought by the vanguard of the Russian proletariat. What Is to Be Done? was published as the theoretical guidebook allowing that phase to be left behind.
Lenin focused on the Russian precursors of revolutionary Marxism. The latter had the merit of being considered the world vanguard of the revolutionary democratic movement. Lenin hoped that the nascent social-democratic movement would be able to be nurtured with the «same devoted determination and vigour».
The party’s activity is the struggle to strengthen and spread the organisation of the vanguard of the revolutionary class against the attempts to «degrade the programme and tactics». As Arrigo Cervetto recalled, tactics in the language of Lenin’s time was the synonym of strategy. Programme and tactics are the consciousness from without. Only Lenin’s strategic vision could arrive at the need for a party that has «a strategic plan and that in order to implement this strategic plan has to plan the development of the necessary organisational tool with this end in sight».
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