[Marxism] Re A sectarian approach

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Sun Nov 13 17:36:27 MST 2005

John M:
>In fact the core of the debate is an old chestnut about spontaneous action 
>versus the role of the professional revolutionary.  Lenin dealt with this 
>quite adequately in What is to be done.  He asserted that there were three 
>corners to revolutionary action  ­ economic, political and theoretical.

Once again I would urge comrades, including John, to read what I have 
written about What is to be Done and other matters related to the 
"organizational principles" of Marxism-Leninism. While many view this work 
as some kind of handbook for revolutionaries, Lenin said it was obsolete 
not five years after it was written.

Lenin in Context

The next time you run into one of our latter-day "Marxist-Leninists" who 
trace their lineage to the historic split between the Bolsheviks and the 
Mensheviks in the Russian Social Democracy, give them a little quiz. Ask 
them to identify the authors of the following 2 opposing motions around 
which the historical split took place. One is Lenin, leader of the 
Bolsheviks, the other is Martov, the Menshevik leader.

1. A party member is one "who recognizes the Party's programme and supports 
it by material means and by personal participation in one of the Party's 

2. A party member is one "who recognizes the Party's programme and supports 
it by material means and by regular personal assistance under the direction 
of one of the party's organizations."

Lenin is the author of the first motion and Martov the second. As should be 
clear from this, the split between Bolshevik and Menshevik did not involve 
the kind of deeply principled questions that caused the Zimmerwald Movement 
to emerge as a counter to the socialist parliamentarians who voted for W.W.I.

It is essential to understand is that the whole purpose of the convention 
at which this historic split took place was to form a party where none 
existed. It was Lenin and Plekhanov's intention to form a new 
social-democratic party on the model of the Western European parties. It 
was not, as our contemporary "Marxist-Leninists" believe, an initiative to 
innovate some new "democratic-centralist" type of party. Plekhanov was the 
father of Russian Marxism and Lenin considered himself a disciple of 
Plekhanov. In the articles leading up to the convention, Lenin continuously 
pointed to the example of Kautsky's party in Germany as something Russian 
socialists should emulate.

full: http://www.columbia.edu/~lnp3/mydocs/organization/lenin_in_context.htm 

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