Back2Basics is the Young Communist League’s series on Marxist concepts made easy. Its aim is to provide a starting point for those interested in learning about communist theory and a foundation for further reading and study.
Learning is a lifelong process and the study of Marxism-Leninism is no exception. The international communist movement is unique in world history for the breadth and depth of the scientific theory which underpins it. Marxism-Leninism is a living and constantly developing theory. These however aren’t reasons to be daunted or reluctant for those setting out to read communist theory for the first time or those who want to improve their current understanding.
No start is too small. There is no time like the present. This is a journey which aims at nothing less than understanding human history, why our society is the way it is now and, most importantly, how it can be changed for the better.
Marxism is unlike the philosophical and political theories of the ruling class. For communists, theory and practice, understanding and action, go hand in hand.
Its possible to be well-read in the classics of Marxism, know endless quotations and page references, but if you make no attempt to put this knowledge into action, you can’t claim to be a communist or to properly understand Marxism. Conversely, you can be politically active, even a natural leader, but be doing little for the working class, and certainly less than your full potential, if your action is not based on a Marxist understanding.
Marxism Leninism, scientific socialism, allows us to understand the problems of history and humanity and to find our way in a complex and chaotic modern world. It allows us to fully play our part in the fight to save the planet and transform society.
Some people question why they should have to study theory where they already undertake a solid, practical, militant work in their community, campus or workplace. After all, not everyone is a student or an intellectual never mind a philosopher?
Comrade Lenin addressed this in his seminal work What is to be done?. Simply put, without study, if you have not got in your head the ideas and political philosophy of the working class, a socialist consciousness and understanding, then your ideas and outlook will be those of the ruling class, with all their hate, prejudices, reactionary ideas and illusions.
This is ever more important in contemporary Britain, where from birth to death, through every form of media, we are brainwashed with the ideas of capitalism and modelled to be docile, cynical and apathetic. The choice is not between learning working class theory or no theory. It is a choice between communist theory and continuing to harbour the illusions and ideas of capitalist society. It is a choice between a socialist outlook and a capitalist one.
Britain’s communists are clear that it is better to be an educated fighter for peace and socialism than a mouthpiece for the ruling class, a passive supporter of their exploitation and wars. That is why we must study and continually develop our understanding of Marxism Leninism.
Good luck to those setting out on this journey. You join the ranks of countless millions, past and present. Many more still will follow in your own footsteps.