There are also units of the enemy armed forces, elements from within the enemy army and police, who are won over at decisive moments to side with the revolution. It is a vital task to work within the enemy forces, to agitate and politicize soldiers, police, vigilantes and other auxiliary forces of the enemy, in order to show them who the true enemy is, and thus render them ineffective for the purposes of the state. Some sections will be neutralized, while others will be won over. Those who are won over to the side of the revolution bring their arms with them and become part of the revolutionary army.

Lenin also saw very clearly that the revolution could not be victorious unless at least a section of the army (government troops) went over to the side of the revolutionaries. But to achieve this, the government soldiers must be convinced of the readiness of the workers to seize victory even at the cost of their own lives.

Have we seen this subjective condition in the Philippines from a materialist point of view the readiness of the workers (mass movement) to seize political power even at the cost of their lives? This kind of “readiness” takes a long process of agitation, propaganda and education and only a serious leadership with correct political line can truly lead the working class into “real politics and real class struggle” onward capturing political power.

 Lenin pointed out how insurrection to be successful: 

  1. Insurrection must rely not upon conspiracy and not upon a party, but upon the advanced class
  2. Insurrection must rely upon a revolutionary upsurge of the people
  3. Insurrection must rely upon the turning point in the history of the growing revolution when the activity of the advanced ranks of the people is at its height, and when the vacillations in the ranks of the enemy and in the ranks of the weak, half-hearted and irresolute friends of the revolution are strongest.

Lenin said: “To the Marxist it is indisputable that a revolution is impossible without a revolutionary situation; furthermore, it is not every revolutionary situation that leads to revolution. What, generally speaking, are the symptoms of a revolutionary situation? We shall certainly not be mistaken if we indicate the following three major symptoms:

  • When it is impossible for the ruling classes to maintain their rule without any change; when there is a crisis, in one form or another, among the ‘upper classes’, a crisis in the policy of the ruling class, leading to a fissure through which the discontent and indignation of the oppressed classes burst forth. For a revolution to take place, it is usually insufficient for ‘the lower classes not to want’ to live in the old way; it is also necessary that ‘the upper classes should be unable’ to live in the old way
  • When the suffering and want of the oppressed classes have grown more acute than usual
  • When, as a consequence of the above causes, there is a considerable increase in the activity of the masses, who uncomplainingly allow themselves to be robbed in ‘peace time’, but, in turbulent times, are drawn both by all the circumstances of the crisis and by the ‘upper classes’ themselves into independent historical action.

Without these objective changes, which are independent of the will, not only of individual groups and parties but also even of individual classes, a revolution, as a general rule, is impossible. The totality of all these objective changes is called a revolutionary situation. Why was that? It was because not every revolutionary situation gives rise to a revolution; revolution arises only out of a situation in which the above-mentioned objective changes are accompanied by a subjective change, namely, the ability of the revolutionary class to take revolutionary mass action strong enough to break (or dislocate) the old government, which never, not even in a period of crisis, ‘falls’, if it is not toppled over.

History has shown that a revolutionary situation will persist for as long as a ruling class is unable to resolve its contradictions. But a successful revolution according to Lenin is dependent on subjective factors – the mood of the masses, their confidence in the revolutionary movement, and its organizational ability to lead them out of the current impasse to the seizure of power.

  • The mood of the masses? What is their mood?
  • The confidence of the masses in the revolutionary movement?
  • The organizational ability of the revolutionary movement to lead the masses OUT of the current impasse TO the seizure of political power?

The above factors that Lenin mentioned must be take into serious consideration by any serious revolutionary parties if it wants to push for system change.

When we speak of subjective conditions, we are referring to the presence of revolutionary organization and its ability to organize and lead the masses in all forms of struggle. The subjective factor is organization. It is the existence of a revolutionary party or movement, which is capable of providing the correct strategic and tactical guidance, having created the forces and means to carry out the tasks of the struggle. This includes also the political and military readiness of the advanced masses, which become part of the revolutionary army.

Remember this says Lenin: “When the masses fight with stones, it shows the absence of revolutionary organs”.

The Seizure of Power: Policy Positions?

There are extremely few policy positions on how power is to be seized and this is central to the problem. For, unless we have a clear vision on how power is to be seized, we cannot effectively address the question of what type of organs are required for such a task. We cannot effectively address the subjective tasks. What is demanded is a vision of how power is to be seized and a plan for the building of the forces and means to do it. This vision and this plan must be clearly understood by all activists and revolutionary cadres, within the terms of their tasks and responsibilities, so that all have a clear and common understanding of their own role within the machinery of struggle.

If the Left are not serious about seizure of political power and victory then they are just wasting time, resources and lives in this political circus. The leadership of the Left is in vacuum, if not ideologically and politically bankrupt. It is maybe time for the Left to reorganize their leadership, rectify their errors and go back to what Marx, Lenin and Engels teaches as guide.

Lenin said:

 “Of course, unless the revolution assumes a mass character and affects the troops (government forces), there can be no question of serious struggle. That we must work among the troops goes without saying. But we must not imagine that they will come over to our side at one stroke, as a result of persuasion or their own convictions”.

History has proven many times in different countries and even in the Philippine situation in EDSA 1 & 2 where people’s protest assumed a mass character (hundreds of thousands to millions) which again proved the veracity of Lenin’s theory that government troops cannot side with the protesting people as a result of “persuasion or their conviction” (and conspiracy) and it is only when the military saw hundreds of thousands to millions (mass character) where they can be persuaded to side with the people.

In what condition the Left call for insurrection?– Lenin made it clear that once the masses are roused to revolution and are ready to act, it is only then that the party must call for insurrection and explain to the masses the practical steps necessary for its success. The questions we will then ask: Are the masses now roused to revolution? Are they now ready to act? These major questions mentioned by Lenin are the prerequisites before we could call for insurrection. The intensification of agitation, propaganda and education will help prepare the masses for such momentous struggle.

Working among the government troops is one of the many necessary ingredients in preparing for insurrection but as Lenin said we must not imagine that the government military force will come over the side of the revolution at one knock as a result of our persuasion or their own conviction. Unless the revolution assumes a mass character, it is only then that the politics of the military are affected. A mass character is not a “token-token mobilization”. It must assume tens of thousands or millions of class conscious masses determined to overthrow the ruling class at once by all means.

Lenin said:

“The passive Mensheviks never understood the role of active preparation for an uprising. The old Blanquist putschists spoke only of the technical side of the insurrection, abstracting it completely from the general mass movement, from the daily life of the masses, from their organization and class consciousness”

Lenin boldly criticized the error of Mensheviks for they spoke of insurrection divorced from the general mass movement, divorced from the daily mood of the masses, divorced from the organization of the masses and divorced from the class consciousness of the masses.

  1. Where is the general mass movement in the Philippines?
  2. What is the daily mood of the masses?
  3. Where is the organization of the masses?
  4. What is now the level of class consciousness of the masses?
  5. Are the Left serious about seizure of political power at all cost or this is just part of their “show of force” (organizational posturing/propaganda only) and no interest of capturing power into their hands independent from any bourgeois party or opposition party?

Lenin said that the slogan of insurrection is a watchword for deciding the issue by material force, which can only be military force. This slogan should not be put forward until the general prerequisites for revolution have matured, until the masses have definitely shown that they have been aroused and are ready to act, until the external circumstances have led to an open crisis.

An Uprising Can and Should Be Timed?

Can the working-class movement be timed? No, it cannot; for that movement is made up of thousands of separate acts arising from a revolution in social relations. Can a strike be timed? It can … despite the fact that every strike is the result of a revolution in social relations. When can a strike be timed? When the organization or group calling it has influence among the masses of the workers involved and is able correctly to gauge the moment when discontent and resentment among them are mounting.

Lenin said that if a strike needs a resolute leadership to plan actions and to time them, the need is even greater in the case of an armed insurrection. Only a seriously committed revolutionary party is capable of leading a genuine insurrection of the masses, for the masses differentiate clearly between a vacillating and a resolute leadership.

The revolutionary character of of any left group is not determined by mere “confession and proclamation” but by actual and concrete practice, not only in the past but throughout its record. According to Ernest Mandel, it is the working class and the masses that will say and determine whether an organization carries the revolutionary character or not.

Lenin describes the conditions that made possible the victory of the revolution:

“First, by the class-consciousness of the proletarian vanguard and by its devotion to the revolution, by its tenacity, self-sacrifice and heroism;

“Second, by its ability to link up, maintain the closest contact, and – if you wish – merge, in certain measure, with the broadest masses of the working people – primarily with the proletariat, but also with the non-proletarian masses of working people; and

“Third, by the correctness of the political leadership exercised by this vanguard, by the correctness of its political strategy and tactics, provided the broad masses have seen, from their own experience, that they are correct.

“Without these conditions, discipline in a revolutionary party really capable of being the party of the advanced class, whose mission it is to overthrow the bourgeoisie and transform the whole of society, cannot be achieved. Without these conditions, all attempts to establish discipline inevitably fall flat and end up in phrasemongering and clowning. On the other hand, these conditions cannot emerge at once. They are created only by prolonged effort and hard-won experience.

Lenin emphasizes that it is not enough to have leadership by the proletariat(i.e. working class), but the decisive phase of the revolution involves all social classes and must engage “millions and tens of millions” of people: “(1) all the class forces hostile to us have become sufficiently entangled, are sufficiently at loggerheads with each other, have sufficiently weakened themselves in a struggle which is beyond their strength; (2) all the vacillating and unstable, intermediate elements—the petty bourgeoisie and the petty-bourgeois democrats, as distinct from the bourgeoisie —have sufficiently exposed themselves in the eyes of the people, have sufficiently disgraced themselves through their practical bankruptcy, and (3) among the proletariat, a mass sentiment favouring the most determined, bold and dedicated revolutionary action against the bourgeoisie has emerged and begun to grow vigorously. Then revolution is indeed ripe.”

Lenin concludes that: “History as a whole, and the history of revolutions in particular, is always richer in content, more varied, more multiform, more lively and ingenious than is imagined by even the best parties, the most class-conscious vanguards of the most advanced classes . Two very important practical conclusions follow from this: first, that in order to accomplish its task the revolutionary class must be able to master all forms or aspects of social activity without exception (completing after the capture of political power — sometimes at great risk and with very great danger—what it did not complete before the capture of power); second, that the revolutionary class must be prepared for the most rapid and brusque replacement of one form by another.”

Almost a century later, Lenin’s analysis remains essential for the strategy and tactics of revolutionary  organization and leadership.


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