What can Social Conservatives Learn from Vladimir Lenin? | Alex Brown
“We must go among all classes of the people as theoreticians, as propagandists, as agitators and as organizers” wrote Vladimir Lenin in his book What is to be Done? (from which all quotes in this article are drawn). That line, is the very thesis of Lenin’s work, political organization and agitation, and it encompasses all the necessary training and ideological spunk necessary to make anyone a throbbing revolutionary, but many discard this text as but a remnant of the Soviet Union or as simply a textbook for far left. I, however, believe parts of Lenin’s work can be used for the gain of social conservatives. If we employ the ideological and physical tactics of Lenin and recognize that we need to seize control of the hearts and minds of both the conservative party members and voters, we can take control of the leadership of the party and strive for a socially conservative future.
To begin, one of Lenin’s core proposals in this book is that “it is not enough to explain to the workers that they are oppressed”. Lenin advocates for a kind of political education of not just the workers but everyone in Russia (though the workers are his priority, as they are his best hope for a successful revolution). Lenin is absolutely correct in a broad sense – it is not enough to simply explain ideology to people with vague statements about the benefits of a revolution, or in our case, a socially conservative government. He goes on to describe how every advantage must be taken to explain the failures of the society and effectively convince them the whole system is worthless. Conservatives must do the same.
The reader may now be extremely concerned I am plotting the overthrow of the capitalist system – this is not the case I assure them. We as conservatives must accept that to place social conservatism back at the top of the party, we must lose the next election. At this point, the Johnson administration will have gone, as will more than likely Mr. Johnson himself; this is our one and only chance to appeal to the members of the Conservative party that a fresh set of ideas is needed, that the current way of doing things is, in a sense, worthless. This is where we must firstly follow Lenin, i.e. we must use time this perfectly and use the single opportunity of election defeat to expose every failing of the liberal Tory party and propose ourselves as worthy successors. This is then where we must use our (already) competent arguments about why we are the better alternative. After all, recent YouGov data has shown that ‘Thatcherites’ and ‘Traditionalists’ make up 56% and 31% of those surveyed respectively, so we should have less trouble appealing to members more broadly once we have proven the liberal Tories as failures.
The difficulty has always proven getting the majority membership of any party to subscribe to your way of thinking, especially coming out of a leadership juxtaposed to your own, but I have shown above how and when this is possible. The next difficulty will be getting the electorate on board. It have been shown through numerous surveys by the ‘British Attitudes Survey’ (BSA) that religious faith is falling, opinions around gender identity are changing and that people’s attitudes still tend to reflect their party identity. So, to use a familiar phrase: ‘What is to be Done?’ It is simple really and it sounds a lot more revolutionary than it actually is – if the system isn’t working in your favour, work outside the system until it lets you in.
The mainstream system of politics does not work for us at this present moment, so we need to work outside the system through political mobilization. If the left can hold rallies, protest and petition, so can we; we must mobilize in order to fight against the system that currently doesn’t work for us, that doesn’t allow us onto the ballot and in which we are branded as “fogies” who are “living in the past”. We must emphasize to the British people that social conservatism is the natural home to much of their opinions: you want lower immigration, that’s social conservatism; you believe in a strong family unit, that’s social conservatism; you believe in strong law and order, that’s social conservatism. These are not opinions of the looney far right; these are the opinions of the average working person on the street. Lenin recognized that much of the ill’s of one industry were the ill’s of another. This is how he was able to unify the workers and revolt en masse. We must do the same and unify with the British people who are already think like us and strive for what we believe to be right.
Lenin offered a textbook for the workers to revolt and achieve a communist utopia, I have used this work to explain how his theory on mobilization and political action is not exclusive to the left. If we ever hope to gain office in not just the party but in national government, the socially conservative movement must employ tactics that are alien to our nature but yet I believe will prove most useful – so what is to be done you ask to win the minds of the voters, the hearts of the members and the leadership of the conservative party? – Conservative Agitation.