In this present moment, similarly to moments of the past, the antagonisms of imperialism are drawing many to look into; the works of Karl Marx, Socialism, and other political trends that run against the nature of capitalism.
People are in pursuit of a theory to put into practice in hopes that they can be equipped to win against the brutal exploitation of capitalist industries.
So, here I will speak on what is needed by a Communist.
What is needed to be a Communist (a Marxist-Leninist, a Scientific Socialist)? To answer this we must first address a few questions: what is the struggle Communists are waging? Why is this struggle to be waged as Communist? and What committed study looks like in the 21st-century?
Communists are committed to the emancipation of worker-exploitation by the ruling bourgeois class. This commitment is not to be one proclaimed in name alone, but in the application of strategies and tactics for the victory of the working class. This victory, in which the proletariats struggle against their national bourgeoisie, is met with the former's rule over the state and its institutions. The state is the greatest weapon for the transformation of society from the old into the new. Just as the ruling class has wielded it to impose its policies, so may the revolutionary forces after the victory of the revolution use it to ensure the rule of the masses. We here on Turtle Island (North America) are not exempt from this truth, we too must overcome imperialism in the metropole with a Socialist victory led by the masses of the people. To turn the rule of the land from a minority into a majority. This is where a primary difference lies between Communist and other progressive forces who, in their attempts to change the world, quite often support the very policies and groups they try to overthrow.
In order to properly understand how some anti-capitalist ideologies preserve imperialist hegemony, I will be addressing the distinctions between Communism and anarchism. I will not fully address the various ideologies within the left’s movement. The scope here will not introduce any criticism from other political trends, no matter how contradictory these ideological currents may be. Here I will only make reference to anarchism because demarcations are important in pursuing the construction of a proletariat ideology. It is through solidifying our positions that we are able to carry our work, our struggle, and be led by the masses in accomplishing its tasks.
The demarcation between Socialism/Communism and anarchism (Syndicalism, Libertarian Socialism) is of utmost importance, while both understand the bourgeoisie and its exploitation over the workers. Only the former has actually achieved sovereignty from the forces of imperialism. Only the former stands in direct opposition to the ideology of the ruling class. Here comrade Joseph Stalin addresses the matter with utmost simplicity:
“The point is that Marxism and anarchism are built upon entirely different principles, in spite of the fact that both come into the arena of the struggle under the flag of socialism. The cornerstone of anarchism is the individual, whose emancipation, according to its tenets, is the principal condition for the emancipation of the masses, the collective body. According to the tenets of anarchism, the emancipation of the masses is impossible until the individual is emancipated. Accordingly, its slogan is: "Everything for the individual." The cornerstone of Marxism, however, is the masses, whose emancipation, according to its tenets, is the principal condition for the emancipation of the individual. That is to say, according to the tenets of Marxism, the emancipation of the individual is impossible until the masses are emancipated. Accordingly, its slogan is: "Everything for the masses." (Stalin, Anarchism or Socialism?)
Individualism rests itself on the strength of the individual, no different from the current ideology of imperialism- liberalism. The question would then follow: how is it that one would properly carry out this lesson, “everything for the masses”?
Some would argue in Academia, especially in the progressive branch of these liberal institutions- Radical Academia. Radical Academia is a utopian idealization separated from practice and based on its puritanism and orthodoxy to its ideas. Although there are scholars who have studied Marx and other revolutionaries they often miss the truth of Scientific Socialism, its practice, or as Gramsci coined praxis. Radical Academics when the rooster comes home to roost opt for a liberal bourgeoisie and the last two decades have shown this to be true. They view the weakness in the strength of individuals as the rule of thumb and push their forces from one failed ploy to another, rather than seeing the disunity, disorganization, and anachronistic nature of the masses as something to be turned on its head. If we are to understand this trend then we begin to see that it is no different from the Legal Marxism of 20th-century pre-October Revolution Russia, which represented an abandonment of all kinds of worker struggles. These so-called “Radicals” would say that only through sole study can one become a Communist, as if Communism was something to be discovered like a theorem or played like a game, instead of a movement to overcome the present state of domination against the working-class, which is made by the masses of the people and their collective action. Not in an individual search for truth and wokeness.
Radical Academics study political theory like literature major studies novels. They imbed their heads in a book and study forgetting that, “The philosophers have only interpreted the world in various ways. The point, however, is to change it.” (Karl Marx)
A Communist is not a simple critic, but someone who sees the problems of the world and puts their life on the line to change them. This is not to be done recklessly or ignorantly but through the collective lessons learned in the Socialist movement, in the practice for emancipation that is Scientific Socialism: the study of Marxist-Leninism.
But as V.I Lenin once broke down for the Socialists struggling for the national liberation movements of the 20th century, “Communism cannot be learned by rote.”
Communism cannot be learned by turning the summations from past Communists into automated responses. The result of this kind of study lacks reflection which leads to failures and mistakes spiraling into catastrophe instead of learning to minimize damage from events This would create mechanical responses that are not tempered and advanced from the practice of application to the socio-historic moment. Without practice and reflection, there is no means of advancing the most eloquent of our ideas for a better society.
Communists are not the sole products of isolated study but the product of struggle. This struggle is in the everyday reality of moving forward towards the building of Socialist projects to obtain control of one of the greatest tools of class rule, the state. The collective unity of this struggle with the masses is one aspect that follows the very premise of human interdependence. To liberate the masses is to liberate oneself, for only a fool runs around talking about freedom when their people are chained, jailed, doped up, and killed.
Furthermore, Communism does not erase the individual, rather it merely understands that in the dual nature of being human; an individual and a collective being, in this relationship it is only through the latter the former can be freed. So, what is it that Communists have to say on something of a personal aspect? Well to the premise of our social organization, there is a struggle of self-cultivation.
The primary question in learning to be Communist, of self-cultivation can be found in Lenin’s address to the Russian Soviets, “The Task of the Youth League”.
So here are some notes we can take from Lenin’s address for our struggles here in the 21-century Communist movement.
Human knowledge is an ocean of knowledge of which scientific Socialism is only a small part, so what is it to study Communism? or as Lenin put it, “What must be singled out from the sum total of general knowledge to acquire knowledge of Communism?” Would it be to bury your head in Socialist books? Would it be to sit hours and hours on end studying Socialist films, speeches, and documentaries? Would it be to learn its music, its heartstrings, and ballads for the people?
These are false conclusions reached from incorrect assumptions from the banking-concept of education or extreme biases from a die-hard dogmatist position. Communists cannot bloom in isolation, they would wilt and falter in their objective movements. True Communists are sprung from their commitment to the masses of the people and nourished through the collective knowledge of their comrades and cadres. Studying is a crucial aspect of self-cultivation, but not something to be developed mechanically.
The primary task is not to study everything on Communism made by the many Communist movements and National Liberation Movements (NLM) under the sun, but to “act in the way Communism really demands.”
Communism is not and cannot come into being from the mere repetition or dogmatic study of what has been written. Communists must be defined by their work, “committed with daily, all-around work.” The work of Communists is the primary means of constructing Communist knowledge. Communism is the conscious act of turning humans from participants in history into conscious actors of history, masters of the universe.
Again, in the ocean that is human consciousness, Communism is not the sum total of all human knowledge. Communism is the science of revolution, a summation of all the world struggles of working peoples to reach a victory in the dawn of the proletarian era. It is a science to be applied in the world and, through the motion of history, have its deductions based on its errors and lessons summated as to further and deepen its knowledge in constructing a victory over the imperialist era. The NLM's, having waged class war against the super-exploitation of imperialism, have gained victories for the construction of Socialism. They are developing Communist morality based on their national characteristics. Here in the metropole, we mustn't abandon our struggle, it is our duty to win against our national bourgeoisie, which holds the largest military infrastructure in the history of humanity.
Marxism and Marxism-Leninism are universal principles applied to the national struggle of which Sandinismo, Juche, Mao Zedong thought, Ujamaa, and many more arose from its application. Even today in Peru through the victory of the Peruvian people has arisen Marxism-Leninism-Mariateguism. Lenin denotes, “Marxism is an example of how Communism arose out of the sum total of human knowledge.”
As to be noted by Marx and his contribution to scientific Socialism (his being foundational). Marx's work was not based on solely isolated study but his commitment to the revolution, to struggling, and organizing in the first Communist International. His work is the summation of his commitment to change the world by studying the world around him, the industrial revolution, the 1800s’ capital development as it arose from the American colonies, and the shores of West Africa.
“What is most important is that he proved this on the sole basis of a most precise, detailed, and profound study of this capitalist society, by fully assimilating all that earlier science had produced. He critically reshaped everything that had been created by human society, without ignoring a single detail. He reconsidered, subjected to criticism, and verified on the working-class movement everything that human thinking had created, and therefore formulated conclusions which people hemmed in by bourgeois limitations or bound by bourgeois prejudices could not draw…” (Lenin, The Task of the Youth League)
So today we must not turn away from the beauty and horrors of the world because everything in our present society is needed to create a revolutionary praxis.
“We must not borrow the system of encumbering young people's minds with an immense amount of knowledge, nine-tenths of which was useless and one-tenth distorted. This, however, does not mean that we can restrict ourselves to Communist conclusions and learn only Communist slogans. You will not create Communism that way. You can become a Communist only when you enrich your mind with a knowledge of all the treasures created by mankind.” (Lenin, The Task of the Youth League)
Communism cannot be learned through the banking-concept of education. To be a Communist is to be critically conscious; it is to engage the world as a conscious act. Independence, creativity, and consciousness are the basis of humanity. This interrelationship is the basis between the world and humans' construction of worldly treasures. Of which scientific Socialism is another treasure, a treasure designed to emancipate the exploitation of humans by humans.
“If I know that I know little, I shall strive to learn more; but if a man says that he is a Communist and that he need not know anything thoroughly, he will never become anything like a Communist.” (Lenin, The Task of the Youth League)
What Lenin said to the Communist youth of Russia is still true today in the 21st century, “Communism Cannot be Learned by Rote.”
 Freire, Paolo, The Pedagogy of the Oppressed, 1993
 Stalin, Joseph, Anarchism and Socialism? Works, Vol. 1, November 1901 - April 1907
 Lenin, V.I, The Tasks of Youth League, 1920