“...If a Communist took it into his head to boast about his Communism because of the ready-made conclusions he had acquired, without putting in a great deal of serious and hard work, without understanding the facts which he must examine critically, he would be a very deplorable Communist. Such superficiality would be decidedly fatal.”
VI Lenin said that in a speech to Soviet students learning Marxism in 1920. It applies to today, in the USA, as much as it did to those days of the first worker state.
It is much easier to talk the talk than it is to walk the walk. It is easy to one day wake up and say, “I think I will call myself a Communist today.” From there, we could buy a t-shirt with Karl Marx’s face on it, and we could put a little hammer and sickle emoji in our Twitter profile, and we could tell everyone we believe in Communism. But would this make us a Communist?
A Communist means more than that. A Communist must hold his or herself to the highest standard possible, even if the Party they belong to has not yet rebuilt itself into an institution capable of demanding they do so. The Bolsheviks did not gain the support and respect of the working masses of the Soviet Union by bragging and talking down to them. They led by example.
An American Communist must do the same.
For every fifty people I see calling themselves Communists, usually only one actually carries themselves as such. So let’s go over a few qualities a Communist must have, because it is very easy, as noted above, to simply say we are a thing. It is quite another to embody that thing and become a person worthy of leading the working classes, worthy of the word Communist.
Above all, a Communist needs to prove to the rest of the working masses of their society that they are not just worthy of their respect, but of leading them into revolution and a new state that is genuinely of, by, and for the people. A Communist does NOT demand respect without earning it like a petulant child, all the while telling the masses how horrible they are for not being as enlightened as we think we are.
The contradictions of capitalism are growing more acute every day. We have run out of time to waste. The time for childishness and larping is over. The time for action is now. Onward to socialism.
Noah Khrachvik is a proud working class member of the Communist Party USA. He is 40 years old, married to the most understanding and patient woman on planet Earth (who puts up with all his deep-theory rants when he wakes up at two in the morning and can't get back to sleep) and has a twelve-year-old son who is far too smart for his own good. When he isn't busy writing, organizing the working class, or fixing rich people's houses all day, he enjoys doing absolutely nothing on the couch, surrounded by his family and books by Gus Hall. He is an editor at Midwestern Marx.