Lenin and (anti-)Democracy

ROSSERJB at vax1.acs.jmu.edu ROSSERJB at vax1.acs.jmu.edu
Sun Nov 26 00:52:19 MST 1995

     To Louis Proyect and Scott Marshall:
     When did Lenin go "anti-democratic" and how did
he differ with Marx on this matter?
     1)  The clear break is the split within the Russian
Social Democratic Labor Party in 1902 between the Bolsheviks
and the Mensheviks.  All the rest flows from this.  Lenin's
contempt for democracy is clearly expressed in his denunciation
of the Mensheviks in his "Two Tactics of Social-Democracy in the
Democratic Revolution."  It is there even earlier in his arguments
for vanguardism and "democratic centralism" in "What is to be Done?"
     2)  Marx criticized the Paris Commune on many grounds, including
inaction at crucial point, failing to nationalize the Bank of France,
etc.  He did NOT criticize it for being "too democratic."  It is
Lenin who looked at the Paris Commune's failure and said that it was
due to its being too democratic.  Thus it was wimpy and did not "dare
to win."  We have here the "ends justify the means" argument used by
Stalin later.  Lenin clearly deviates, revises, and perverts Marx
in a fundamental point here.  He deserves nothing but criticism.
     3)  There is, of course, no way of knowing whether Marx or Engels
would have supported the Bolshevik coup d'etat or not.  Would Jesus
have supported the Inquisition and the Salem witch trials?  
Barkley Rosser

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