Announcing a new book: War and Lenin in the 21st Century

Excerpted from a presentation given at the Socialist Unity Party national plenum on Dec. 17, 2023.

First, we are excited to hear that Melinda Butterfield’s book “U.S. proxy war in Ukraine and Donbass” is in production. Much of it is based on eyewitness reports and interviews, starting before the U.S.-staged 2014 coup in Kiev and continuing up until 2022. This richly informative book is an essential counter to the U.S./ NATO campaign of disinformation on Ukraine. 

Then, commemorating the 100th anniversary of Lenin’s death on Jan. 21, 1924, Struggle-La Lucha is publishing a book titled: “War and Lenin in the 21st Century.” It is now available in bookstores online. We’ve been struggling with online publishers for weeks, several of whom flatly refused to accept the book.

There’s a witchhunt going on — one to bury the truth and allow Genocide Joe to voice his many lies. 

 “War and Lenin in the 21st Century” comprises a series of articles written by Gary Wilson in the Struggle-La Lucha newspaper based on Lenin’s historic book “Imperialism, the highest stage of capitalism.” The new book is written about the current global class struggle in the framework of Lenin’s analysis of imperialism. Lenin’s book on imperialism is available in the appendix. 

While laying out the book, I was amazed at how closely the first section on current conditions reflects Lenin’s work. 

The book covers NATO’s proxy war in Ukraine; Lenin’s five key features of imperialism; the new Cold War; and prospects for the world’s working class.

Lenin laid the groundwork for explaining the cause of wars that are happening now — back in 1916.  His grim prospect wasn’t a prophecy. It was an analysis based on the dialects of Marx’s historical materialism. That means it was an objective or scientific study of the developing struggle between the capitalist class and the world’s workers and oppressed.

Fidel Castro warned about the power of the big-time media. Recently, when the president of the University of Pennsylvania, Elizabeth Magill, was forced out, the New York Times reported that she “appeared to evade the question of whether students who called for the genocide of Jews should be punished.” 

After reading this alarming front-page report, one has to go to the end of the story buried inside the paper to find out why Magill is facing such heinous charges. It appears that the accusations stem from her refusal to cancel a Palestinian literary conference on campus last September. 

At a Congressional hearing, Rep. Elise Stefanik said that students had chanted support for “intifada.” Intifada means uprising or a call for the end to occupation. To equate the call for an end to the apartheid occupation with a call for the genocide of Jews is a vicious charge that turns the victims into aggressors.

Keep in mind that Rep. Stefanik has been spouting Trump’s white supremacist rhetoric on the “great replacement theory,” which in its original form claims that Jews are orchestrating the mass immigration of people of color into Western nations to replace their white populations. 

We need to produce and spread media that lays bare the real forces behind genocide.

The economic essence of imperialism

In his preface, Lenin summarized: “I trust that this pamphlet will help the reader to understand the fundamental economic question, that of the economic essence of imperialism, for unless this is studied, it will be impossible to understand and appraise modern war and modern politics.” 

Lenin’s subtitle is “A Popular Outline.” It wasn’t intended to be a scholarly work. It was written for the anti-war movement in his time, for those who wanted to understand the war and what could bring an end to it.

At the time, Lenin was talking about Karl Kautsky’s betrayal. Kautsky had been a leader of the great German socialist movement. In an abrupt turn, he became instrumental in wrecking that movement by backing the belligerent German government in WWI. In the end, he became an anti-communist ideologue for the capitalist class.

The new book on “War and Lenin in the 21st Century” presents the ideas of other Marxists, like John Parker, Kwame Nkrumah, and Walter Rodney.

Parker wrote: “The trajectory of the latest vampiric deals of the foreign investors was set when Zelensky signed over even more of his country’s sovereignty to a U.S. firm that will help broker the deals of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and independent foreign investors.”

Nkrumah explained how foreign capital is used for exploitation rather than for development. He wrote: “The struggle against neocolonialism is aimed at preventing the financial power of the developed countries being used in such a way as to impoverish the less developed.”

In this book, Gary Wilson wrote: “The dollarization of the world capitalist economy meant U.S. domination of the global economy. The U.S. Federal Reserve System controls the supply of U.S. dollars. The U.S. Federal Reserve System is, in effect, the world’s central bank. Indeed, most U.S. currency – green dollar bills – circulate outside the U.S.”

One important chapter deals with the opportunism of the more privileged sectors of the working class in the Imperialist countries. Lenin wrote that “capitalism has now singled out a handful of exceptionally rich and powerful states which plunder the whole world … Obviously, out of such enormous superprofits (since they are obtained over and above the profits which capitalists squeeze out of the workers of their own country), it is possible to bribe the labor leaders and the upper stratum of the labor aristocracy. And that is just what the capitalists of the advanced countries are doing: They are bribing them in a thousand different ways, direct and indirect, overt and covert.”

In the current era, advances in science and technology have increased workers’ productivity. Monopoly corporations are reshaping global production and supply chains, breaking down borders, internationalizing jobs and wages, and incorporating hundreds of millions of low-wage workers worldwide into industry and services.

By accessing labor in the Global South, monopolies are driving down wages and benefits of workers in the imperialist industrialized countries, thus enabling a new phase of exploitation and oppression in a relentless pursuit of profit. The capitalist advantage of opportunism is losing its bloody grasp over workers in the richer countries.

The summer of 2023 was marked by a wave of strikes across the United States. In order to win, these strikes require unity across the working class through solidarity with the fight for equality among Black, Latinx, Asian, Native peoples, and immigrant workers, support for the struggle of lesbians, gay, bi, trans, queer, and women workers.

Labor has to build support beyond their membership. Isolated strikes will struggle. But strikes backed by a united working-class front can win. Solidarity is the key.

We can all commemorate the anniversary of Lenin’s death with classes centered on this book, “War and Lenin in the 21st Century.” Classes can enable a wide discussion of the challenges facing the global working class. Sharing our thoughts will deepen our understanding and will help generate new actions in the struggle for socialism.

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