Vladimir Lenin died 100 years ago, on January 21, 1924. Perhaps no name in history has been so vilified as that of the great revolutionary and leader of the Russian Revolution. Over the past century, bourgeois historians, liberals, reformists and anarchists have attacked his ideas and his role in history. Underlying the slanders and lies is a campaign to discredit Lenin, the Russian Revolution, Communism and the revolutionary hope they represent.
At a time when capitalism is sinking into the worst crisis in its history, Lenin's ideas remain fundamental to any revolutionary who wants to fight against this rotten system. Like the Bolshevik leader, who put theory and ideas at the heart of the revolutionary work, the International Marxist Tendency and its Canadian section Révolution communiste/Communist Revolution are making education and the struggle for political clarity a top priority. That's why we are organizing for the 14th consecutive year the Montreal Marxist Winter School.
Over the years, the Marxist School has become an educational landmark for revolutionaries from across the country and beyond. Over 460 people attended our 2023 edition. This year, we're aiming to reach 700 participants for this two-day school devoted to the life and ideas of Lenin.
"Without revolutionary theory, there can be no revolutionary movement." — Lenin
Our task in this epoch of capitalist crisis is to build a Communist leadership for the working class like Lenin did with the Bolshevik party. Register for the biggest Marxist event in Quebec and Canada, and join hundreds of communists from all over the world who are organizing to prepare for world revolution.
This year’s school will feature eight inspiring discussions. All discussions will be in English and French with consecutive translation.
Select a topic from the list below or scroll down to see all topics.
For those wishing to prepare for the event, here are some recommended readings.
Reading is optional and the event is open to all audiences, regardless of experience or knowledge!
As the leader of the Russian Revolution, Lenin was a man who changed the world. A convinced Marxist, he created the Bolshevik Party, the most revolutionary party in history. Lenin translated the ideas of Marxism into reality. It is now one hundred years since his death. The bourgeois historians continue to slander him and his ideas. In this talk, Rob Sewell, author of a new biography of Lenin, will explain Lenin’s real life and ideas, separating fact from fiction and drawing out lessons for revolutionaries today.
In the midst of World War I, Lenin wrote Imperialism, The Highest Stage of Capitalism. In this book, he explained that in the stage of imperialist monopoly capitalism, the entire economy is under the domination of the banks and finance capital. This global domination inevitably leads to armed conflict for the redivision of the world. As long as capitalism remains, as long as competition between multinational corporations remains, so will war. Now, over a hundred years later, all of Lenin’s predictions are more true than ever.
Tsarist Russia was known as the “Prisonhouse of Nations,” it denied all rights to the various minorities. The Bolsheviks took up the cause of oppressed nationalities and defended the right of nations to self-determination in their program. The October Revolution went on to liberate the oppressed nationalities from the tsarist yoke. However, that is not the end of the story. Lenin’s position on the National Question was not a simple, one-size-fits-all solution, but the result of a careful study of the question in its particular historic evolution and complexity. Today, the National Question has reemerged as a rallying point, from Scotland to Palestine. It’s more important than ever for Marxists to study Lenin’s writings, so we may unite the working class on a worldwide scale for the overthrow of international capital.
The philosophy of Marxism is dialectical materialism. This is not a fixed dogma, but a method for analyzing the world scientifically so we may change it. In the dark days of reaction after the failed 1905 revolution, many erstwhile Marxists turned away from dialectical materialism in search of “new ideas.” They thought they could “update” Marxism with the trendy philosophy of Ernst Mach, which was really just subjective idealism. Lenin took up the fight to defend dialectical materialism in his book Materialism and Empirio-Criticism, in which he brilliantly explains the fundamental principles of the materialist philosophy and exposes idealism in all its guises. This philosophical struggle is not ancient history, but remarkably relevant as, over the decades, Marxism has continued to come under attack from reincarnations of idealism such as postmodernism.
Around the world, we see the working class and youth attempting to shake off capitalist oppression, thus inevitably colliding with the state. But what is the state? Can it be changed gradually through elections? Must it be overthrown? And do the workers need a state of their own? These are some of the burning questions Lenin tackled in State and Revolution, written in the heat of the 1917 Russian Revolution. Here, Lenin explains that, stripped of all non-essentials, the state is in the final analysis “groups of armed men”: the army and the police, in defence of the ruling class. An understanding of the nature of the state is a necessary weapon in the hands of the working class. This is why Lenin’s State and Revolution is one of the most important works of the twentieth century.
Stalin played no outstanding role in the Russian Revolution. He rose to power at the head of a self-interested bureaucratic caste, when the working class of Russia was exhausted and isolated, unable to continue its fight. And yet he cloaked himself in Lenin’s robes; he legitimized his rule by claiming Lenin’s legacy. In fact, Stalin’s idea of “Socialism in one country,” has nothing to do with Leninism or Marxism, and Lenin’s final struggle was precisely against Stalin. To defend Lenin and the Russian Revolution we must tell the truth about Stalin: he was not the continuation of the Revolution, but its gravedigger.
In 1917, with Lenin, Trotsky, and the Bolshevik party at their head, the Russian workers and peasants took their fate into their own hands, overthrew capitalism, and began the process of building socialism, This singular event has been an inspiration to workers and the oppressed around the world ever since. But how did they do it? What is the role of individuals, like Lenin, in such great events? With capitalism now in its deepest crisis ever, it is more urgent than ever for us to learn the lessons of the Russian Revolution.
In 1902 Lenin published a pamphlet, What Is to Be Done, in which he explained the necessity of creating a centralised group of professional and dedicated revolutionary cadres before revolutions erupt. He went on to do precisely that, and Lenin’s Bolshevik party turned out to be a decisive factor in the success of the Russian Revolution. In this very special session we will not only discuss the history of the Bolsheviks, but follow in their footsteps, by launching a new revolutionary, communist party in Quebec and Canada!
Please read the following information carefully before purchasing your tickets.
For the list of recommended accommodations, click here.
The base price for the school is $120 for Montrealers and $60 for people from outside the city. This price includes admission to the event, as well as lunch and dinner on Saturday and lunch on Sunday.
The base price is set so that we can reimburse without deficit the estimated expenses for the event, which have risen considerably in comparison to previous years, particularly for food and venue rental. We also have to pay for the travel expenses of international guest speakers, whose participation enriches the political discussions. Finally, as we don't want finances to be a barrier to participation, we allocate a certain amount to accommodate participants who would not be able to pay the full fee.
To maintain our political independence, our financial independence is essential. We have no big financial backers. We rely exclusively on donations from our members and supporters - those who want to see the revolutionary overthrow of the capitalist system.
With this in mind, to help support our revolutionary activity, we encourage participants to make an additional donation when purchasing tickets. To help us build a communist organization in Quebec and Canada, we also encourage you to buy a solidarity subscription to our paper.
We will also be arranging round-trip bus transportation for those who wish to travel to Montreal from Toronto. The cost of the bus ticket is $165. This is in addition to the cost of the admission ticket.
If you are not sure whether or not you plan to take the bus, you can purchase the ticket alone and then come back to this page later to purchase the bus fare on its own. However, be sure to act fast, because bus tickets are limited!
TO → MTL: Friday, February 16th at 2PM
MTL → TO: Monday, February 19th at 10AM
We do not want finances to be a barrier to attending this event and no one will be turned away for financial reasons. Please contact us at email@example.com or 438-722-3501 to apply for a subsidy.