What Is to Be Done? by Lenin
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This week, Matt and Cameron finish the “What Is To Be Done?” series with Vladimir Lenin’s take on the matter. Perhaps it is only fitting that we end the trilogy with the man who would very much put this question to rest by making it irrelevant (at least, for a time). Come listen to us fully devolve into a political theory podcast—it’s fun, we promise.
Major themes: Constant references to recent articles in Iskra, Learning to write for the revolution, Trade Unionism
05:41 - Though I advocated against reading the Communist Manifesto previously, perhaps Brecht’s advocacy for vulgar politics should have influenced me more. Here are the opening lines of the Communist Manifesto in regard to this “simplification” of society:
“In the earlier epochs of history, we find almost everywhere a complicated arrangement of society into various orders, a manifold gradation of social rank. In ancient Rome we have patricians, knights, plebeians, slaves; in the Middle Ages, feudal lords, vassals, guild-masters, journeymen, apprentices, serfs; in almost all of these classes, again, subordinate gradations.
The modern bourgeois society that has sprouted from the ruins of feudal society has not done away with class antagonisms. It has but established new classes, new conditions of oppression, new forms of struggle in place of the old ones.
Our epoch, the epoch of the bourgeoisie, possesses, however, this distinct feature: it has simplified class antagonisms. Society as a whole is more and more splitting up into two great hostile camps, into two great classes directly facing each other — Bourgeoisie and Proletariat.”