The centenary of the death of Vladimir Illich Ulyanov, Lenin, is an appropriate occasion to invite the younger generations of militants to recover the formidable theoretical legacy of the great Russian revolutionary, who died when he was not yet 54 years old. He was the victim of a serious attack perpetrated less than a year after the triumph of the revolution—more precisely on August 30, 1918—by Fanya Kaplan, an activist of Russian anarchism who accused him of having “betrayed the revolution.” Some time later, one of the bullets lodged in his lung, which could not be removed by his doctors, began to generate difficulties of all kinds that escalated to a series of cerebral infarctions that caused him first paralysis and finally his premature, and for the cause of socialism, regrettable death.
It goes without saying that an undertaking of this kind: to return to Lenin, encounters more than a few obstacles. One of a purely quantitative nature derives from the fact that the monumental production written by the Bolshevik leader over three decades comprises—in the second edition of his Complete Works published in Buenos Aires by Editorial Cartago—no less than 51 volumes, including the four dedicated to thematic indexes, titles, onomastics and complementary notes. Lenin was not only an exceptional politician and statesman but also a prolific writer like few others.
As his various biographers and scholars report, as a young man he already stood out as a very gifted student and his later political and intellectual career fully ratified the promising predictions made about him by his teachers, among them, the father of the man who would later be for a time head of the Provisional Government that emerged from the February Revolution, Alexandr Fyodorovich Kerensky.1
A second warning refers then to the inevitably partial and incomplete character of a political-intellectual enterprise such as the one we are proposing. In this case and taking into account the special moment that Latin America and the Caribbean—a region increasingly beset by an empire that seeks to reverse its inexorable decline by reasserting its dominance in this part of the world—the task of recovering Lenin’s analysis of the political conjuncture and the strategy and tactics of the popular forces in moments of historical inflection such as this is more important than ever. But there are many other strands of Leninist thought that could also be addressed, such as his his penetrating analyses on imperialism in many writings, but above all in Imperialism, the Highest Stage of Capitalism; on philosophy and epistemology in Materialism and Empiriocriticism, Lenin’s main philosophical work; or his various youthful economic writings, among which we must mention Economic Content of Populism; Who Are the “Friends of the People” and How Do They Fight the Social Democrats? and his great work of synthesis of this period: The Development of Capitalism in Russia.2
Therefore, this invitation does not intend to make the new social and political actors become erudite “Leninologists” but to motivate them to approach the study of his political thought, imbricated with the urgencies posed in his native Russia by the imminence of the revolution and, under a broader perspective, the need for world revolution to put an end to the dictatorship of capital and the atrocities of imperialism. In formulating this invitation we do so in the conviction that Lenin is a “living author”; that is to say, someone who is our contemporary and whose reflections are relevant and enlightening for the emancipatory struggles going on in Latin America and the Caribbean.
The recovery of Lenin’s legacy is of utmost importance for the present moment in the region, where precise diagnoses and enlightening prognoses are essential components of the success of popular struggles. And, in this sense, we can assert, without fear of being mistaken, that his evaluations of the most diverse situations were remarkably accurate. He was, without a doubt, a protagonist and at the same time an analyst who “saw” much further and deeper than any of his contemporaries; who was endowed with an unusual capacity to decipher all the complexity and contradictions contained in a historical moment where politics, economy and ideology were knotted under the most unpredictable formulas that challenged the conventional thinking of the left. A more than eloquent proof is provided by his immediate conviction, shortly after arriving at the Finland Station in Petrograd, putting an end to his long exile in Switzerland, that what the Bolsheviks should do was to limit to the indispensable minimum their support to the provisional government that emerged from the February Revolution and organize the masses to consummate as soon as possible the transition to the socialist revolution. Proof of this is that his famous “April Theses” were not immediately published by the party organ, Pravda but three days after the speech was delivered because Kamenev, Stalin and Bogdanov, the party chiefs, regarded them as “the delirium of a madman” and even his wife, Nadezhda Krupskaya, quietly confessed to her friends her fears that “Lenin had gone mad.”3 In the same sense, one of the most authorized biographers of Lenin, the French historian Gérard Walter, explains that when Lenin was invited by the Bolshevik delegates to present his theses at the headquarters of the Soviet in the Palace of Tauride, after his intervention he had to face “an uninterrupted parade of speakers who overwhelmed Lenin, one with their invectives and others with sarcasm or hypocritical condolences. Not a single one of his supporters dared to rise to his defense. Not a single leader of the Bolshevik organization, not a single member of the Pravda editorial staff raised his voice in defense of the exile recently returned to Russia.” Evidently, Lenin had that eagle eye that he admired so much in Rosa Luxemburg and that almost no one else possessed among his comrades, and when it came to deciphering the labyrinths of the conjuncture the distance that existed between him and them was immeasurable. As in the case of Fidel, history also absolved Lenin and proved that reason was on his side.4
Having said the above, I trust that the purpose of these lines is clear: to do justice to one of the greatest theoreticians and practitioners of the revolution of all times. His name has been mocked by traitors and renegades of all kinds, who have made of anti-Leninism a lucrative cult celebrated with sophisticated pseudo-philosophical arguments with the futile pretense of disqualifying both the character and his ideas. As Slavoj Zizek puts it, “if there is a consensus among (what may remain of) the radical left of our time it is that in order to resurrect a radical political project we should forget the Leninist heritage.”5 Abandoned by broad sectors of the contemporary left, Lenin is hated without fissure by the bourgeoisie and its allies, aware of his unwavering loyalty to the socialist project and the communist ideal of the self-governance of the producers. It could be said without fear of being untrue that Lenin is one of the most distinguished “disappeared” persons of recent times. Ignored and questioned without being understood or studied, some sectors of a well-meaning but immature and arrogant left wing believe that nothing can be learned from the undisputed leader of a revolution which, like the Russian one, opened a new stage in the history of mankind. The disregard for some of the classic themes of Leninist thought: the question of organization, of the revolutionary party and the need to seize state power and to develop the political consciousness of the masses, is more than evident in our days in some of the expressions of a certain “postmodern left” which, due to its functionality with the interests of the empire has too much of the former and too little of the latter. These are political currents that abhor everything that has to do with the organization of the subjects of revolutionary or even reformist struggles to prostrate themselves at the feet of a supposed spontaneous rebellious of masses and multitudes which require neither organization nor conscientization; which, despite their declarations to the contrary, fall into a sort of romantic anarchism concerning the state and the superfluity of considering the seizure of state power, since the world can be changed without this annoying requirement; and which, in a display of confusion, show their disdain for debates on the crucial questions of strategy and tactics of the popular struggle.6 It is easy to understand the centrality that Lenin’s theoretical legacy acquires to dismantle a deranged political reason disguised under amorphous and toothless “progressivism,” incapable of seriously challenging the domination of capital.
The succession of defeats experienced in the metropolitan capitalisms by the popular forces at the end of the twentieth century affected not only the validity but also the visibility of Leninist thought. Apart from the devastating effects of the neoconservative and neoliberal “revolution” let us mention the deformation first (and the inglorious collapse later) of what, in a certain sense, could be considered as Lenin’s “great practical creation”: the Russian Revolution. Both things: the degeneration of the revolution and its tragicomic collapse—summarized in the video of Mikhail Gorbachev filmed in a Pizza Hut store—seriously damaged the consideration that Lenin’s theoretical and practical work deserved. As Gyorg Lúkacs reminds us, Lenin was “the great theoretician of revolutionary practice and the great practitioner of revolutionary theory.” Unfortunately, the collapse of the Soviet Union dragged Lenin’s theoretical heritage with it. Unfortunately, the beginning of the upward cycle of struggles of the Latin American popular movements that began with the arrival of Hugo Chavez to the presidency of Venezuela at the beginning of 1999, did not have the necessary strength to counteract the abandonment of Leninism—and Marxism—by the dwindling forces of contestation in the metropolitan capitalist countries.7
If Lenin’s old and new adversaries strove to hide or obscure his legacy, his supporters often incurred in a vice that inexorably sterilized his best intentions. Indeed, the canonization of his work at the hands of Stalinism—in which a decisive role was played by Stalin’s Foundations of Leninism—disfigured it as much as the demonization it suffered at the hands of bourgeois theoreticians or old leftists repentant of their youthful sins. The “codification” of Leninism and the transformation of a living Marxism and a “guide for action” into a self-help manual for naïve revolutionaries seriously damaged the work of the social movements and radical parties of Nuestra América. If the Soviet vulgate had very serious consequences at the level of theory, the political practice of Stalinism magnified these effects even more by aborting the outbreaks of genuine Marxist reflection. This was stifled where the Marxism of the “Soviet handbooks”—completely disqualified by Che Guevara—prevailed without counterweights, as in the Soviet Union and the countries of Eastern Europe.8 And in the territories of advanced capitalism, the combination of the defeat of the revolutionary impulse of the first postwar period and the imposition of the orthodoxy of the Soviet handobooks or manuals precipitated the conformation of what Perry Anderson called “Western Marxism,” that is, a Marxism enclosed in a theoretical bubble and completely removed from the imperatives of practical life and the anti-capitalist and anti-imperialist struggles of the time. A Marxism entirely turned to the philosophical and epistemological problematic, important no doubt, but at the price of renouncing historical, economic and political analysis and that turned Marxism, for that very reason, into an esoteric knowledge enclosed in hermetic writings irremediably distanced from the urgencies and needs of the masses.9 A Marxism conceived as “a dogma and not as a guide for action,” reversing the remembered aphorism of Lenin, which was of little or no use for understanding the complexity of contemporary capitalism and, much less, for the construction of a political instrument capable of changing it.
In his superb message to young Soviet communists, Lenin questioned what it meant to “learn communism.” His response was illuminating: “If the study of communism consisted solely of knowing what communist works, books and pamphlets say, this would easily give us communist exegetes or braggarts, which would often cause us harm and harm, because these men, after had read a lot and learned what is explained in communist books and pamphlets, they would be incapable of coordinating all this knowledge and acting as communism really demands.” And a little later he added that “Without work, without struggle, the bookish knowledge of communism, acquired in communist pamphlets and works, has absolutely no value, because it would only continue the old divorce between theory and practice, which was ‘the most harmful feature of the old bourgeois society.’ And he concludes his approach aimed at stimulating the intellectual and political formation of a cultured communist youth, capable of critically assimilating what Lenin calls the historical heritage of humanity with this lapidary sentence: “The communist who prides himself on being one, simply for having received already established conclusions, without having carried out a very serious, difficult and great job, without analyzing the facts in the face of which he is obliged to adopt a critical attitude, he would be a pitiful communist. Nothing could be as disastrous as such a superficial attitude.”10 Unfortunately, the dogmatization of Marxism, so fought against by Lenin, relegated to oblivion Marx’s eleventh thesis on Feuerbach and its call to transform the world and not only to ponder over the different ways of interpreting it. And, of course, it displaced Lenin’s formidable theoretical work to the dustiest shelves of the depopulated libraries.
On the other hand, when the main left-wing movements and fundamentally the communist parties adopted the “Marxist-Leninist” canon, the communist theoretical tradition, a movement of “permanent reflection” dialectically integrated with the vicissitudes of its epoch, was frozen in time.11 Contrary to Lenin’s recommendations, Marxism thus conceived degenerated into an already “closed” and finished doctrine, completely elaborated, floating undaunted above the historical movement. In a word: in its lifeless rigidity it did not reflect it and, failing in this endeavor, it could hardly change it.12
Few things could be more anti-Marxist and anti-Leninist than this real paralysis of a theory which, since its first formulations by the young Marx and Engels in the forties of the nineteenth century, had done nothing but develop in close contact with the changing realities of its time, which they tried to “reflect” as accurately as possible.
Airs of Renewal
In the field of political praxis, the iron imposition of Stalinist orthodoxy delayed for decades the collective appropriation of some important contributions of twentieth century Marxism. Suffice it to recall the delay in making known the indispensable contribution of Antonio Gramsci to Marxism, whose Prison Notebooks were only made available, in Italian, in their entirety, in the mid-seventies, that is, forty years after the death of their author. Gramsci was viewed with great distrust in the European and Latin American communist parties despite the fact that beyond his undeniable originality his thought reflected, at least in part, the maturation of certain Leninist theses in the light of the new conditions created by the reactionary reconstruction of capitalism in the 1930s.13 That is why it is worth highlighting the merits of the Argentine intellectual Héctor Agosti, director of the Cuadernos de Cultura published by the Argentine Communist Party, for having been the first in Latin America to take note of the transcendental importance of the theoretical renewal embodied in Gramsci’s work and to strive to install the Italian’s contributions not only in the debates within the region’s sister parties but also among other forces of the left, equally refractory to the reformulations of the great Italian thinker. Agosti’s fruitful preaching made possible the incorporation of Gramsci’s rich legacy to the discussions that were beginning to take shape in the convulsed sixties.14 By the middle of the following decade, Gramsci’s work was already widely quoted and became a source of harsh interpretative polemics. This was because a theoretical current, rooted in Europe but with some terminals in Latin America, reconstructed him as a lukewarm social democrat and distant predecessor of the illusory Eurocommunism that in a few years would liquidate the main communist parties in Europe, starting with that of Italy. In our countries, on the other hand, the recovery of the Gramscian legacy was in not few cases more faithful to the Leninist imprint of the original. Finally, the social-democratic versions did not take long to fade away in the heat of the class struggle and the offensives of imperialism, on both sides of the Atlantic. The Europeanist deformation of Gramscian thought demanded a remarkable effort to recover the sound theoretical heritage of the Italian thinker, a task that must now be made, without further delay, with Lenin. In Latin America, but not in Europe, we have reencountered the legitimate Gramsci. In a world situation as bristling with dangers as the present one, it is urgent to do the same with Lenin’s theoretical inheritance.15
The weight of Soviet orthodoxy was also responsible for the delay in the incorporation of the suggestive recreation of Marxism produced from the Chinese experience in the works of Mao Zedong. Or the ostracism into which fell the recreation of historical materialism arising from the pen of the great Peruvian Marxist José Carlos Mariátegui, who rightly said that “among us socialism can be neither a tracing nor a copy but a heroic creation.” Or the absurd condemnation of the refined production of Gyorg Lúkacs in Hungary. Closer in time, that anti-Leninist codification of Lenin’s (and Marx’s) teachings made Fidel and Che appear as if they were two irresponsible adventurers, until reality and history crushed with their weight the monumental stupidities devised by the Soviet ideologues and their main disseminators here and there. In sum: it is difficult to calculate the damage done with such a misrepresentation of Marxism. How many practical errors were committed by vigorous popular movements obfuscated by the political recipies of “Marxism-Leninism”?16
From the above it can be inferred that a “return to Lenin” is not only convenient but urgent and necessary. A Lenin who of course is not exempt from errors, some of which he himself took it upon himself to recognize, but whose relevance for the emancipatory struggles of Latin America is beyond discussion, which makes it all the more unforgivable to ignore his work. Lenin lies under the rubble of the Soviet Union; also under the propagandistic avalanche of the neoliberal counterrevolution since the eighties of the last century and the setbacks and frustrations of the popular movements in the advanced capitalist countries. But, fortunately, his work survived both catastrophes and is there, like a lighthouse that continues to release enlightening lights. With the disappearance of the Soviet Union, a fundamental event that divided in two the history of mankind by bringing to completion the first successful revolution of the subaltern classes after the first and more limited general rehearsal of the Paris Commune, we must resume a dialogue with the great Russian revolutionary. Not to imitate or to uncritically receive his theories, as Mariátegui, Mella, Che and Fidel wisely advised, but to learn from a conversation. Machiavelli said, in a memorable letter to his friend Francesco Vettori, dated December 10, 1513, that a library is a place where the great men of history—the founders of states and revolutionaries—agree to converse with those who seek in them the wisdom and lessons that emerge from their practical experiences. It is therefore necessary to humbly go to the library and read Lenin’s work, a precious legacy that we must not renounce.
This timely and necessary “return to Lenin” obliges us to a fresh re-reading of the brilliant politician, intellectual and statesman who founded the Soviet republic. But the return to Lenin does not mean to reread a collection of “sacred texts,” mummified and parchment-like, but to return to an inexhaustible spring from which flow teachings, suggestions and questions that retain their relevance and importance at the present time. It would not be rash but a manifestation of fidelity to the genuinely Leninist spirit to affirm that the concrete and specific answers offered by the Russian revolutionary in his work—almost all of them inevitably referring, as he himself pointed out, to the peculiarities of the Soviet historical moment—are of less interest than the questions, perspectives and audacious mental openings contained therein, always aimed at advancing along the path of the revolution.
More Than a Return
On the other hand, it is not merely a matter of returning to a philosopher’s stone because those of us who return to the sources are no longer the same as before; if history swept away the remnants of Stalinism that had prevented us from adequately grasping Lenin’s message, it did the same with other dogmas that imprisoned us for decades. Of course, this does not imply throwing overboard the fundamental certainty of the ethical, political, social and economic superiority of communism as a superior form of civilization—the same one abandoned by the fugitives calling themselves “post-Marxists,” who now pretend to confer the gift of eternity to capitalism and liberal democracy—but to question some “collateral” certainties, in the words of epistemologist Imre Lakatos, of the Leninist tradition. For example, those which established that the only way to organize the party of the working class was the one Lenin proposed in 1902 in the midst of Tsarist repression, ignoring the fact that there are in Lenin not one but four theories of the party, in correspondence with the development of the class struggle in Russia. The first one, synthesized in 1902 in What Is to Be Done? Was built taking into account the clandestine situation in which the Russian social democracy had to act; a second one, where after the 1905 revolution he proposes a format similar to that of the German social democratic party; a third one, already in the vertigo of history that goes from February to October 1917 where the party as agent and vanguard of the revolution is replaced by the soviets; and a fourth, and final, already consolidated the triumph of the revolution, and in which the party reappears with force, as an organizational but also educational structure and instrument for the creation of a new civilization and a new mass culture, anticipating what Gramsci would later develop in more detail in his Prison Notebooks.17 Doubtful and ephemeral “collateral certainties,” as we said above, which for example conferred a universal and necessary character to a certain political tactic, such as insurrection; or that, in the apotheosis of political irrationality, consecrated the Third International as a new Vatican with its center in Moscow and endowed with the papal gifts of infallibility in everything related to the course of the class struggle in the rest of the world.
Since all that has disappeared and we are living the beginnings of a new era, it is possible, and also necessary, as we said above, to proceed to a new reading of Lenin’s work, in the certainty that it can constitute a very valuable contribution to guide us in the challenges and struggles of our time. It is a creative and promising return: we do not return to the same thing, nor are we the same, nor do we have the same attitude. Nor is the historical context that surrounds us the same. In our America we are witnessing, since the end of the last century, an awakening of the peoples and the advance of the struggles for the construction of an alternative to the suffocating neoliberalism that overwhelms us. The Cuban Revolution has demonstrated its extraordinary resilience in the face of the criminal and incessant onslaught of imperialism, and today it is accompanied by several governments in the region that have definitively broken the isolation with which the empire tried to subdue and destroy her. Venezuela, Nicaragua and Bolivia have been doing so for many years, while Mexico, Brazil, Colombia and Honduras, as well as other countries in the area, have been defying with dignity the imperial edicts and strengthening their relations with the island of hope, while the others are at least trying to maintain good relations with Havana. I said before that those of us who propose the return to Lenin are different because as militants we have been traversed by the evolution of Latin American history—its triumphs as well as its defeats and frustrations—and, supposedly, we have taken note of its lessons. But what persists and is accentuated day by day is the commitment to the creation of a new sociability, with the unpostponable need to overcome a historical type of society such as capitalism, incorrigible from the point of view of justice, humanity and the preservation of the environment.
Committed to a relentless and increasingly open struggle with imperialism, we cannot ignore the lessons of the Russian revolutionary process. Not only those derived from it but also those emanating from others, such as the Chinese, Vietnamese and, closer to us, the Cuban. Not to copy them because as Julio Antonio Mella rightly recalled in the obituary written on the occasion of Lenin’s death, “it is not about implanting in our milieu, servile copies of revolutions made by other men in other climates; in some points we do not understand certain transformations, in others our thinking is more advanced but we would be blind if we deny the step forward taken by man on the road to his liberation.”18 In this same line we find Mariátegui’s categorical sentence that socialism “could not be a copy and copy but a heroic creation of our peoples,” a distant echo of that brilliant intuition of Simón Rodríguez when he assured that “we either invent or we err.” To read Lenin, then, with the mental attitude of a Mella, Mariátegui, Rodríguez and, of course, closer to us, of Che and Fidel. The latter more than once said that “every time we copy we make a mistake”; Che, for his part, warned that “Marxism is only a guide for action. Great fundamental truths have been discovered, and from them, using dialectical materialism as a weapon, reality is interpreted in each place of the world. That is why no construction will be the same; all of them will have peculiar characteristics, proper to their formation.”19
This first centenary of Lenin’s passage to immortality is a stimulus for us to launch ourselves, without hesitation of any kind, into this essential recovery and dissemination of a work of such extraordinary richness as that contained in the vast theoretical production of the Russian revolutionary. I suggest, as a starting point, the reading of the texts contained in the volume entitled “Between two revolutions,” in which Lenin analyzes the February revolution and all its ups and downs until the culmination with the taking of the Winter Palace and the triumph of the October Revolution. It goes without saying that texts such as What Is To Be Done?, or “Left-Wing” Communism: An Infantile Disorder; The State and the Revolution; Marxism and the State; The Proletarian Revolution and the Renegade Kautsky are essential too. To this I would add, to begin with, two brief but extremely enlightening articles: “About the State” and one especially directed to the youth in the construction of socialism, “The tasks of the Youth Leagues.” I am sure that equipped with these weapons of theoretical criticism we will be in better conditions to successfully undertake the great challenges posed by the struggle for the Second and Definitive Independence of “Our America,” as José Martí designated the countries of the region.
1. According to Edmund Wilson in his classic Towards Finland Station (Madrid: Debate, 2021; original edition of 1940).
2. All of these are easily accessible materials, which is why we refrain from lengthening this paper with extensive bibliographic citations for each of them. Regarding Materialism and Empiriocriticism, it is worth recalling the laudatory observation made about this writing by none other than Karl Popper, especially in view of the lightness with which some left-wing intellectuals today stigmatize Lenin’s philosophical reflections. Cf. Slavoj Zizek: Revolution at the Gates (London: Verso 2002).
3. Zizek, op. cit., p. 5.
4. Cf. Gérard Walter, Lenin (Barcelona: Grijalbo, 1967), p. 280.
5. Cf. Slavoj Zizek, op. cit. p. 3.
6. We are referring, as is obvious, to the well-known work of authors such as Antonio Negri and Michael Hardt, on the one hand, and John Holloway on the other. In relation to the former I refer the reader to my Empire & Imperialism. A critical reading of Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri (Buenos Aires: CLACSO, 2002), also available at biblioteca-repositorio.clacso.edu.ar/bitstream/CLACSO/15705/1/imperio.pdf. On Holloway’s theorizing see my “The jungle and the polis Questions about the political theory of Zapatismo*,” in Revista Chiapas (Mexico: No. 12, 2001), also available at clacso.org.ar/libreria-latinoamericana/buscar_libro_detalle.php?campo=autor&texto=&id_libro=388.
7. We have examined this issue in great detail in Atilio A. Boron and Paula Klachko, Segundo Turno. El resurgimiento del ciclo progresista en América Latina y el Caribe (Buenos Aires: Ediciones Luxemburg and Editorial de la UNDAV, 2023). A process still in progress, with setbacks and advances, but which has opened a hopeful perspective for the countries of the region in a global context as complicated and threatening as the current one. Other articles linked to Lenin’s thought can be found in the Essential Anthology that compiles articles and excerpts from books published in the last 50 years. The title is Bitácora de un navegante. Political theory and dialectics of Latin American history (Buenos Aires, 2020) Free download at: biblioteca-repositorio.clacso.edu.ar/bitstream/CLACSO/15654/1/Atilio-Boron-Antologia-esencial.pdf.
8. With his usual dose of irony Che referred to those handbooks or manuals as “Soviet bricks.” See his harsh criticisms of the theses put forward in those manuals in his Apuntes Críticos de la Economía Política (Havana, Cuba: Ocean Press, 2006).
9. Cf. Perry Anderson, Considerations on Western Marxism (London: Verso, 1976).
10. All these quotes come from “The Tasks of the Youth Leagues,” a text dated October 1920 included in the third volume of his Selected Works in Three Volumes, widely available in internet.
11. The adoption of the “Marxist-Leninist” canon was a very complex process, which we cannot examine in detail here. Let us only underline that the brutal aggression of the forces of world capitalism first, in the initial years of the Russian Revolution, and of American imperialism later, against the Soviet Union, enormously limited the degrees of freedom that the communist parties—with their intellectuals—of the rest of the world could have in relation to the directives coming from Moscow and the theoretical orientations that emanated from there.
12. Reflection comes from reflectere, which in Latin means “to return, to turn back.” By extension, to reflect a light or a certain reality. A dogma does not have the least capacity to reflect the changing dialectic of history, and that is what happened with “Marxism-Leninism.”
13. We have raised in several works this inseparable continuity between the reflection of the Russian revolutionary and the work of Gramsci. See, among others, Atilio A. Boron and Oscar Cuéllar, “Apuntes críticos sobre la concepción idealista de la hegemonía,” in Revista Mexicana de Sociología (Mexico), Year XLV. Vol. XLV. no. 4. (October/December, 1983): 1143–77.
14. Agosti was a great Marxist intellectual, author of a vast work. As director of Cuadernos de Cultura he translated and published numerous letters by Gramsci. And, in his books, he creatively applies Gramscian categories. See especially El Mito Liberal (Buenos Aires: Procyón, 1959) and Nación y Cultura, also published by the same publishing house the same year. A precursory text is Echeverría (Buenos Aires: Editorial Futuro, 1951). More details about this process can be consulted in the work of Alexia Massholder: The Communist Party and its Intellectuals. Thought and action by Héctor P. Agosti (Buenos Aires: Ediciones Luxemburg, 2014).
15. Along with Agosti, it is necessary to mention the work of Rodney Arizmendi, leader of the Communist Party of Uruguay, a student of Lenin’s work but in a key closer to that of Soviet Marxism. Despite this, his most important book, Lenin, the Revolution and Latin America (Buenos Aires: Pueblos Unidos, 1974) maintains its importance for understanding Latin American politics in the sixties and seventies.
16. An examination of the negative impact of Marxism-Leninism on Cuban revolutionary thought, and on the vibrant Marxism of that country, is found in El corrimiento hacia el rojo, the excellent text by Fernando Martínez Heredia (Havana: Editorial Letras Cubanas, 2001). Check especially his chapter on “Left and Marxism in Cuba.” It should be noted that this impact was far from limited to this country: it was verified in all Latin American countries. Che’s aforementioned work abounds in examples of the negative repercussions of Soviet orthodoxy.
17. See our introductory study to What Is to Be Done? (Buenos Aires: Luxemburg Editions, 2004).
18. Julio Antonio Mella, “Lenin coronado,” (1924), reproduced in Contracorriente Magazine, Year 5, 1999. https://marxismocritico.com/2015/08/31/lenine-coronado-los-nuevos-libertadores/
19. Ernesto Che Guevara: “On the construction of the party,” in Complete Works, Volume I (Legasa, Buenos Aires, 1995), pp. 180. An analysis of Che’s political conceptions and his teachings can be found in the incisive text by Néstor Kohan, Ernesto Che Guevara: El sujeto y el poder (Buenos Aires, Editorial Nuestra América-La Rosa Blindada, 2003. Second edition corrected and augmented that includes a new prologue by Michael Löwy. Buenos Aires, Editorial Nuestra América, 2005) and by the aforementioned Fernando Martínez Heredia: El Che y el socialismo (México: Editorial Nuestro Tiempo, 1989) and Las ideas y la batalla del Che (Ruth Editorial House 2010).