Lenin as "dictator"

S.S. Walker ssw11 at cus.cam.ac.uk
Sun Jun 11 12:47:20 MDT 1995

On Sun, 11 Jun 1995, Doug Henwood wrote:
> Why do these sorts of debates always act as if Russian history began in
> 1917? Don't the czars and Great Russian imperialism have something to do
> with Stalin? Don't the struggles for democracy in Britain have anything to
> do with the evolution of American democracy?

Lenin's party structure was both a response to the failure of earlier
radical movements Czarist Russia, and a logical extension of his belief in
the vanguard of the w/c. The strengthening central control was also
ineviatable given the post 1917 conditions of civil war and theoretical
unceratinty (the failure of the advanced working class to come to Russia's
aid - and especially after the failure in Germany even after the SDP had
taken control-, as Lenin had expected when he wrote on imperialism in

These comments don't seek to let Lenin (or Stalin ) off the hook - but do
seek to situate the development of the party structure in the hiostorical
context of the time. Stalin obviously accentuated the potential for
totalitarianism the the party's structure made possible, but it would be
wrong to develop some idea of inevitablity in its development steming
from some founding act.

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