“Put simply, Leninism cannot be reduced to the post-1923 caricature of ‘democratic centralism’. Instead, the enduring legacy of Leninism remains the goal of constructing an independent organisation of anti-capitalist organisers and activists who attempt to project a political alternative to the forces of official reformism not only in elections, but in mass, extra-parliamentary social struggles. Building such an organisation today will not be a simple task. The “human material” for a mass revolutionary workers party—a sizeable layer of workplace and community activists who are willing and able take action independently of the forces of official reformism—does not exist today. Four decades of nearly continuous defeats across the capitalist world, which has undermined the workers combativity, is only partially responsible. Of even greater importance is the impact of Stalinism, in particular the legacy of the popular front, on socially and politically disorganizing the “militant minority”—the workers’ vanguard—in the working class. As a result, the tasks of revolutionary socialists in the early 21st century are two-fold. On the one hand, we need to organise and educate a cadre of militants in broadly revolutionary Marxist politics and theory, and develop a common practice in the labor and social movements. On the other, we need to participate in the reorganisation of the workers’ vanguard through the construction of independent “transitional organisations” of militants, who are not yet revolutionaries.”
Charlie Post, a supporter of Solidarity, a US revolutionary socialist organisation, continues a discussion on what is meant by ‘Leninism’ today
Two developments have sparked a renewed debate on revolutionary socialist organisation. On the one hand, the emergence of “new left parties” and the continued crisis of the self-identified revolutionary left, of which the recent split in the British Socialist Workers Party is only one symptom, have forced revolutionaries to rethink much of the received wisdom concerning how a revolutionary working class movement will be built and organized. On the other, a wave of new scholarship, in particular the work of Lars Lih, has raised serious challenges to our historical understanding of the place of Russian Bolshevism in pre-1914 social democracy. At stake in this debates are the continued relevance of “Leninism” to revolutionary politics in the 21st century.
There is, however, little consensus on what is…
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