Reply to Rahul Mahajan's comment on intellectuals & populace.

Jorn Andersen ccc6639 at
Sun Apr 14 21:27:02 MDT 1996

Rahul Mahajan wrote:

> It's clear that workers
> need intellectuals for both theory and political knowledge, although
> nothing precludes some of those intellectuals from being workers
> themselves. This need not interfered with self-emancipation of the workers
> as long as we explicitly disavow the old Leninist paradigm (in fact, if not
> in rhetoric) of the intellectuals as the leaders and the workers as the
> followers.

It is a little unclear to me what you mean, Rahul?
Also I think you are unfair to Lenin. Wasn't it one
of the main reasons for the split with the Mensheviks
that Lenin *didn't* want "the intellectuals as the leaders
and the workers as the followers"?

As I remember it, one of the reasons why Lenin wanted
a centralized and disciplined party was to discipline
the intellectuals - not as you write:

> the uncritical subordination of the intellectuals
> to the workers

- but subordination to the common goal: socialist

> In the long run, we want every worker to become an
> intellectual and every intellectual to become a worker.


> In the short run, intellectuals must be organically
> connected to workers' movements while maintaining independence
> of thought, but workers must lead themselves.

What do you mean by "organically connected"?
If by that you mean through a disciplined party - yes.

But the problem with "professional intellectuals" as a
social stratum is that often their role has been one
of laid-back advices, doing intellectual services to
the movement etc. One of Lenins arguments against
the broad and undisciplined concept of a socialist
organization, which the Mensheviks favoured, was not
that the intellectuals shouldn't enjoy the freedom of
thought, but that there should be some relationship
between thought, talk and action.

It should be obvious that "professional intellectuals"
are much more inclined to cut that relationship than

While some of his formulations can be argued, I think
Lenin was mainly right on this one.


Jorn Andersen


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