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Vol. 74/No. 8      March 1, 2010

‘Lenin’s Final Fight’
needed for struggles … now
Havana panel discusses lessons for battles today
to end capitalism’s destructive social relations
(feature article)
Following are remarks by Mary-Alice Waters, president of Pathfinder Press, opening a meeting February 12 to present the recently published Pathfinder book La última lucha de Lenin. The event took place as part of this year’s annual Havana International Book Fair in Cuba. Waters chaired the meeting and introduced the panelists. The article on the event itself begins on page 9. Copyright © Pathfinder Press 2010. Reprinted by permission.

Good afternoon and a warm welcome to all.

On behalf of Pathfinder I want to thank you for joining with us in launching this second edition of La última lucha de Lenin here in the command post at La Cabaña fortress used by Ernesto Che Guevara in the opening months of the Cuban Revolution. The hall could not be more appropriate to the occasion.

My name is Mary-Alice Waters. I am the president of Pathfinder Press and will be the moderator of today’s program.

I want to begin by introducing our distinguished panel.

Fernando Rojas, deputy minister of culture of the Republic of Cuba. I want to express our special appreciation to Fernando for making time in the midst of what is perhaps the most important cultural event of the year in Cuba to join us. When Pathfinder first began participating in the Havana International Book Fair more than 20 years ago, I remember well that Fernando, who was at that time the president of the Hermanos Saíz Association of young Cuban artists, and the editor of the magazine El Caimán Barbudo, was among the first to welcome us and encourage our participation.

Gladys Gutiérrez, national president of the Federation of University Students of Cuba. It is a special pleasure to have Gladys with us. In recent years it has become almost a tradition, of which we are very proud, that the president of FEU joins us in a Pathfinder presentation here at La Cabaña, and then together we take the presentation to one or more of the universities in the Havana region, which we will do again this year.

Diosmedes Otero, who some 15 years ago organized a team of volunteers among his compañeros then teaching at the University of Matanzas, all of whom had studied for many years in the Soviet Union. Together they checked the existing standard Spanish translations of the speeches and writings of Lenin published in La última lucha de Lenin against the originals available in the fifth Russian-language edition of Lenin’s Collected Works. The efforts of that team made it possible for Pathfinder to publish a Spanish-language translation of Lenin’s Final Fight that is as accurate and as faithful to Lenin’s words as the English translation for which we had done the same work.

I want to take the opportunity to welcome another of the compañeras who was part of that team and is with us here today, Idalmis Izquierdo. A third compañera, Edith González, today dean of the school of social sciences and the humanities at the University of Matanzas, had organized to be with us also, but was unable to make it at the last minutes due to transportation problems of the kind all of you here are familiar with.

And Fernando Martínez Heredia, recipient of the 2006 National Social Sciences prize, and today the director of the Juan Marinello Center for Research and Development of Cuban Culture here in Havana.

Exactly forty years ago, in March 1970, as the director of the magazine Pensamiento Crítico, Fernando was responsible for the publication of issue no. 38 of that magazine, which made many of the speeches and writings that are today collected in La última lucha de Lenin available in Cuba, and throughout much of Latin America.

With a panel so well qualified to present this book, I need say little. On behalf of the publisher I want to make two observations.  
Integral program of Bolshevism
First, Pathfinder Press published the first edition of Lenin’s Final Fight in English in 1995, and in Spanish in 1997. Before then these articles, letters, speeches, resolutions, and notes by Lenin had never before been collected and presented in a single book—anywhere, or in any language.

Everything Lenin is known to have written between the end of December 1922 and early March 1923, when he dictated what turned out to be his final letter, is contained in these pages, together with the most important speeches and writings that led up to the battle he waged in those months. Moreover, they are presented in chronological order, making it possible to follow not only the interconnectedness of the issues, but the evolution of this decisive political fight.

Lenin was not simply addressing a variety of specific questions he considered vital to the advance of the workers and peasants of Soviet Russia; he was presenting what became an integral program to defend, and where necessary reassert, the proletarian internationalist course of Bolshevism. It is not that he set out to write a program; as always, that was a product of a concrete struggle.

I mention the way the content of the book is organized because it is not a small detail. We all know how easy it is to gut the class trajectory and lessons to be drawn from even the clearest speeches and writings of great revolutionary leaders simply by chopping them up and scattering their parts. By eliminating the working-class line of march toward power, the fragments are easily reduced to general humanistic homilies that seldom rise to the level of Feuerbach.

Second, and even more important, Lenin’s Final Fight is a collection incomparably rich and indispensable for our understanding of the history of our epoch, the history of the modern working-class movement—from the Communist Manifesto to today. Pathfinder did not publish it, however, in order to have a book of record.  
Needed to advance fight for power
Pathfinder published Lenin’s Final Fight because it is needed. Now. By those around the world who are determined to put an end to capitalism’s exploitative, oppressive, and more and more destructive social relations. By those who are determined to act, to transform the course of human history.

The back-cover quote from the introduction that Jack Barnes and Steve Clark prepared for this new edition puts it well:

“As capitalism in the 21st century enters its deepest economic and social crisis since the decades leading from the first to the second imperialist world war, programmatic and strategic matters in dispute in the communist workers movement in the early 1920s once again weigh heavily in prospects for the working class worldwide to advance along its historic line of march toward the conquest of power.”

Others on the panel here today will speak of Cuba, and Cuba in the world, in a way that I am not qualified to do. I will note, however, that since 1998 when La última lucha de Lenin first became available at the Havana International Book Fair, it has been one of the most sought-after titles at the Pathfinder stand, year after year, for more than a decade. And that is why we are pleased to be able to launch the second edition of the book here in Havana, at this event.

The issues on which Lenin waged a life-or-death battle to lead the Bolshevik party and Communist International forward are recorded in these pages. They include the defense and strengthening of the worker-farmer alliance. “The real proletarian attitude to the national question,” to use Lenin’s words. The class composition, and proletarian program and comportment of the cadres of the parties we must build. And the necessity to raise the educational level and broaden the cultural horizons of the toilers.

Above all it was a political fight to maintain the working-class trajectory of the Soviet republic and Communist Party, a fight, as Lenin said, to uproot a “past, which, although it has been overthrown, has not been overcome.”

With that, I would like to give the floor to our first speaker, who it is a real honor to have with us today, deputy minister of culture, Fernando Rojas.
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Book festival opens in Havana  
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