The Marx-Engels-Lenin Institute is an online center for education where students and activists alike can study the theory, practice, and history of Marxism-Leninism and its contemporary application. Our mission is to further the revolutionary socialist movement through the widest possible campign of education and the training of cadres which can bring the working masses to the level of revolutionary class-consciousness.
- In the United States, no truly revolutionary party exists today. The people are in dire need of mass organizations and a strong Party which can wage a struggle against the bourgeois class and fight for the immediate interests of the working class — the ultimate goal being the revolutionary overthrow of capitalism.
- The conditions for a revolutionary party do not currently exist. A revolutionary party requires the support of the broad masses and millions of militant, class-conscious workers. It is not enough to have a correct political line if the masses do not share an understanding of revolutionary theory and practice, if they do not accept the political line as their own and act in accordance to it.
- This being said, the fundamental task of the communist movement involves the importation of revolutionary politics into the working class. At all times communists must struggle to translate revolutionary theory into the popular language of the people, to engage in an ideological struggle for the purpose of displacing bourgeois ideology with Marxism-Leninism.
- We maintain that prior to the existence of a mass revolutionary Party, the form of organization which must carry out this ideological struggle takes a much smaller form: the cadre. A cadre is a group of dedicated, active, revolutionary thinkers united through a common politics who organize themselves into an organ capable of developing revolutionary thought. A cadre is not a specific party or organization (e.g., PSL, ISO, IWW), though the members of cadres can be active within such groups; cadres do not stand opposed to other worker organizations. Cadre groups do not seek control of any prevailing organizations, institutions, etc, but actively participate in the mass struggles of the working class in a united front, or simply the tactic, “whereby Communists propose to join with all workers belonging to other parties and groups and all unaligned workers in a common struggle to defend the immediate, basic interests of the working class against the bourgeoisie.”
- Through this tactic of participating in mass worker/community organizations, cadres have the ability to participate in as well as facilitate the development of revolutionary struggles. Mass worker/community organizations act as the battleground on which the ideological struggle must unfold.
- It is not, nor should it be, our objective to force the revolutionary party into existence. Rather, it is our duty to build the prerequisites to the revolutionary party, to take advantage of pre-revolutionary conditions, and to build the framework of the future party. It is a mistake to believe the party can exist independently of the conditions in which it forms. In our assessment of the current national situation, we, perhaps obviously, find that we operate within pre-revolutionary conditions. Revolutionary parties do not form within pre-revolutionary conditions. With this in mind, our duty is to begin the long process of addressing the current situation, recruiting potential revolutionaries and building the revolutionary socialist movement.
- All of this points to one conclusion: the training of cadre leaders who understand how to apply Marxist-Leninist principles to the current conditions is of utmost importance. Cadres leaders must organize independently and in their locality but be interconnected with other cadres as we begin to build a network of dedicated groups/organizations, which forms the basis for the future national party.
“Without revolutionary theory, there can be no revolutionary movement.”
One of the main objectives of the Marx-Engels-Lenin Institute is the organization of a network of cadres across the United States. As expounded in our analysis and founding documentTasks of the Revolutionary Socialist Movement, cadres are currently the organizational form required by the conditions of the domestic socailist movement. Currently, no revolutionary mass Party exists. Instead, independently organized cadres that are responsibe for their locality takes the place of the Party until the conditions for the Party materialize.
As mentioned in Tasks, communication between cadres is key to their success and the development of the socialist movement. While we stress the importance of the cadre in organizing and struggling within their locality, it is fundamental that cadres realize local conditions do not occur independently of the national situation. In practice, this means that communication of cadres must take place; the fostering of firm connections between the cadres is necessary for the success of both the individual cadre and the future party. The cadre must communicate its experiences to the other cadres: not simply what is working but what is not working as well. We learn as much in our successes as in our defeats. The key is to adapt around these experiences so that we may best address our local conditions.
While it is necessary for the cadre to be responsible for its locality, this does not mean that cadres cannot seek the input of other cadres in order to overcome especially challenging problems. Likewise, the cadre must communicate what the general conditions of their locality are. It is important to have a perspective on the national situation at all times as our ultimate aim is to create a nation-wide revolutionary party, and the best way to understand the national situation is to understand the multitude of local conditions and how they interrelate. This understanding leads us to make special emphasis on communication between the cadres even before revolutionary conditions present themselves.
If you are not part of a cadre and wish to organize one, the Institute offers a Cadre Development Program. If you are part of a cadre, consider joining the Marx-Engels-Lenin Institute’s Cadre Network for the reasons expounded above.
“We do not claim that Marx or the Marxists know the road to socialism in all its completeness. That is nonsense. We know the direction of this road, we know what class forces lead along it, but concretely and practically it will be learned from the experiences of the millions who take up the task.” V.I. Lenin
What is a cadre?
A cadre is a group of dedicated, active, revolutionary thinkers united through a common politics who organize themselves into an organ capable of developing revolutionary thought. In the MEL Institute, cadres are developed according to Marxist-Leninist principles, allowing cadres to reach peak organizational efficiency. However, cadres developed through the MEL Institute do not derive authority through the MEL Institute, but act autonomously. A cadre is not a specific party or organization (e.g., PSL or ISO), though the members of cadres can be active within such groups; cadres do not necessarily stand opposed to other worker organizations. Cadre groups do not seek control of any prevailing organizations, institutions, etc, but actively participate in the mass struggles of the working class in a united front, or simply the tactic, “whereby Communists propose to join with all workers belonging to other parties and groups and all unaligned workers in a common struggle to defend the immediate, basic interests of the working class against the bourgeoisie.”
Through this tactic of participating in mass worker/student organizations, cadres have the ability to participate in as well as facilitate the development of revolutionary struggles.
What is the purpose of a cadre?
The purpose of cadre is to facilitate the development of a revolutionary mass movement through various means, and with it a revolutionary mass political party. To begin, the first goal of cadres are to radicalize the working class. The cadre seeks to demonstrate the radical potential of the contemporary workers’ movement through connecting the political/economic struggles of workers across domestic and international locations, exposing the contradictions of capitalism and the possibility for radical change; that is, the cadre seeks to cultivate an atmosphere of workers’ power.
On a similar note, cadres should also be actively involved in publishing working-class literature; as Lenin pointed out, “A newspaper is not only a collective propagandist and a collective agitator, it is also a collective organizer.” The creation of a collective space to exchange information, in particular to report on developments in the class struggle, is important in order to augment political solidarity and consciousness among the working class.
What is the role of revolutionary theory within a cadre?
A cadre exists primarily for the benefit of revolutionaries. It organizes, “dedicated, active, revolutionary thinkers,” not the masses. In reality, the benefit of the cadre to the masses is indirect at best, at least until the moment of revolution arrives. We have noted earlier that the purpose of a cadre is “to facilitate the development of a revolutionary mass movement [it may be added, a prerequisite for such being class consciousness] … and with it a revolutionary mass political party.” In ‘What Is to Be Done,’ Lenin expounds the following thesis:
“Class political consciousness can be brought to the workers only from without; that is, only from outside the economic struggle, from outside the sphere of relations between workers and employers. The sphere from which alone it is possible to obtain this knowledge is the sphere of relationships (of all classes and strata) to the state and the government, the sphere of the interrelations between all classes.”
The cadres work to develop and “inject” Marxist-Leninist theory into the various spontaneous and ideological working class movements, seeking to transform “the unconscious working class, that is a ‘class-in-itself’, into a class conscious of its historical role, that is a ‘class-for-itself.’” Because revolutionary theory must be “imported” into the working-class in order to successfully construct a revolutionary movement, the correctness of the political line (the criterion for evaluating its ‘correctness’ being effectivity) is central. Cadres develop their political line and politics through carefully analyzing the social and material conditions in which they are active, focusing on identifying the current class contradictions and social forces. Constant, ruthless (self-)criticism of revolutionary theory and the political line is fundamental to the cadre. Through this self-criticism, cadres can assess their effectivity throughout the course of the class struggle and alter their actions according to constant developments. All of these things allow the cadre to effectively develop revolutionary theory.
How does a cadre relate to mass workers’ movements?
A cadre group participates in the mass struggles that it determines, via political-economic analysis and the development of theory, to have the most revolutionary potential. When agitating in worker organizations, cadre members engage in transforming revolutionary theory into the popular language of the people, i.e., to expose the fetishism which masks the present relations of exploitation, leading to ideological struggle as a result of the contradictions within the masses’ consciousness.
Cadres are to follow the plan of study carefully in order to maintain constant intellectual vigilance, better develop the political line according to analysis of texts and their practical application, and transform revolutionary theory into the popular language of the masses. The study plan is rigorous, but as Marx said, “[t]here is no royal road to science, and only those who do not dread the fatiguing climb of its steep paths have a chance of gaining its luminous summits.”
UNIT ONE (3 WEEKS)
- The Communist Manifesto, Marx & Engels
- Critique of the Gotha Programme, Marx
- Wage-Labor & Capital/Value, Price & Profit, Marx
- Write a collaborative analysis of, and explain the main conclusions drawn from these readings.
UNIT TWO (5 WEEKS)
- State and Revolution, V.I. Lenin
- Imperialism, the Highest Stage of Capitalism, V.I. Lenin
- What Is To Be Done, V.I. Lenin
- Recommended: Ten Days that Shook the World, John Reed
- Combat Liberalism, Mao Zedong
- Building on the previous work, write a collaborative analysis of, and explain the main conclusions drawn from these readings.
UNIT THREE (10 WEEKS)
- Economic and Philosophic Manuscripts of 1844
- Theses On Feuerbach, Karl Marx
- Poverty of Philosophy, Karl Marx
- The German Ideology, Karl Marx
- 1857 Introduction to the Grundrisse, Karl Marx
- Building on the previous works, write a collaborative analysis of, and explain the main conclusions drawn from these readings.
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