Lenin was a Russian theorist, revolutionary, and a leading figure in the October Revolution and the foundation of the Soviet Union. In this 1917 article, Lenin outlines steps necessary for true socialism to arise.
- Capitalism is thought to be the soil for competition, but Lenin argues capitalism actually suppresses it. Large corporations and trusts terminate small, independent production through coercive and fraudulent means. The elites running the monopolies then secure their invincibility by reducing social mobility.
- In capitalism, companies compete for profit in a zero-sum game, which necessitates a winner and a loser. But socialism differs radically: competition would be friendly between communities, like sports events, in which they contend to find who is more effective.
- Thus, in socialism—and only in socialism— “the working man can reveal his talents, unbend his back a little, rise to his full height, and feel that he is a human being.” Socialism emancipates people from capitalist suppression.
- A socialist government’s task is to organize competition and to encourage people to express their own organizational skills. A variety of communities allows emancipated workers to try different practices and to compare them directly. The government’s role consists of accounting, controlling the labor, and distributing the goods afterwards.
- But to achieve competitive socialism, Lenin urges that all the “vermin” be eradicated in Russia. War must be declared against the rich, bourgeois intellectuals, rogues, idlers, rowdies. All the “parasites” must be removed or placed under constant surveillance, and their prejudices and ideas must be combated and quashed.
- Yet the workers should not passively wait for the government to perform the eradications. They should become more brazen and active in their own communities and, through military and organizational methods, assert their position as the dominant class.
- To assist and ensure the achievement of “democratic socialist centralism” and the personal development of workers, Lenin asserts the need for a socialist government that will organize the work done by the entire population.
Read Lenin’s “How to Organize Competition” here. Summary by Andrei Volkov and Stephen Hicks, 2020.