1) Party and Leadership in Socialism

The MKP's opinion on this topic can be summarized as follows: There cannot be a monopoly of power by the leadership and the party on behalf of the proletariat and toilers; this idea was rejected by Marx, too, from the very beginning. (p. 106) It is argued that in the socialism realities that were experienced, the role of the party, in the name of the masses, was exaggerated; that the practices such as the party monopoly and the party as sole ruling power, due to historical exigencies, were ‘turned into theories’. More importantly, this approach "leads back to the bourgeois state and indeed it has." (p. 106)

Basically this is the summary of their scattered thesis.

Anyone who has studied the history of Marxism knows that throughout the history, the question of the leadership vs. the masses, the party vs. the class was often raised. As Lenin had put it, the question was brought to the agenda in the forms of whether to choose the dictatorship of leaders or the dictatorship of the masses; whether the dictatorship of the party or the dictatorship of the class. Such dichotomous formulations, however, met severe criticisms by Lenin.  

When the question was being discussed by the German Left-wingers, in "Radikal", under the sub-heading "'Left-Wing' Communism in Germany; the Leaders, the Party, the Class, the Masses", Lenin had described the efforts to raise the question in this way as a ridiculous nonsense and stupidity.

Lenin wrote: "The mere presentation of the question—‘dictatorship of the party or dictatorship of the class; dictatorship (party) of the leaders, or dictatorship (party) of the masses?’—testifies to most incredibly and hopelessly muddled thinking. These people want to invent something quite out of the ordinary, and, in their effort to be clever, make themselves ridiculous." (Selected Works, Volume 10, p. 96) [https://www.marxists.org/archive/lenin/works/1920/lwc/ch05.htm]

Further on he adds: "It is common knowledge that the masses are divided into classes, that the masses can be contrasted with classes only by contrasting the vast majority in general, regardless of division according to status in the social system of production, with categories holding a definite status in the social system of production; that as a rule and in most cases—at least in present-day civilised countries—classes are led by political parties; that political parties, as a general rule, are run by more or less stable groups composed of the most authoritative, influential and experienced members, who are elected to the most responsible positions, and are called leaders. All this is elementary. All this is clear and simple. Why replace this with some kind of rigmarole, some new Volapük?" (Ibid). He goes on to remind that "[t]he divergence between 'leaders' and 'masses' was brought out with particular clarity and sharpness in all countries at the end of the imperialist war and following it. The principal reason for this was explained many times by Marx and Engels between the years 1852 and 1892, from the example of Britain. That country’s exclusive position led to the emergence, from the 'masses', of a semi–petty-bourgeois, opportunist 'labour aristocracy'." He explains that this gave rise to groups of traitor, opportunist, social-chauvinist leaders, eventually ending up with opportunist parties, which in time got marginalized from the toiling masses; and that a similar situation among the German Left-wingers again brings up the question of whether the dictatorship of the party or of the masses and so on. He adds, however, that "[t]o go so far, in this connection, as to contrast, in general, the dictatorship of the masses with a dictatorship of the leaders is ridiculously absurd, and stupid." (Ibid, p. 98) [https://www.marxists.org/archive/lenin/works/1920/lwc/ch05.htm]

So, the matter's historical roots go as far back as the era of Marx and Engels and stems from the "labour aristocracy". It may be asked: What are the factors that in the current period compel some to raise the question in the same way? It is clear that what gives way to it now is, firstly and foremost, the thinking that the parties of the socialist and people's democracy countries that were established post-October 1917 were transformed into their opposites through their "leadership" and that this led to searching reasons for the temporary defeats among the leaders and the parties.

Secondly, the fact that the degeneration caused among the ranks by attacks, pressures, and influences of liquidationism and neo-liberalism put the leaders and the party on the target board. And thirdly, it is the degeneration caused by the liberal labour policies. This feeds the freshwater revolutionarism, which downplays the significance of the party, the organization, the leadership, and the discipline, and leads to democratism, anarchism, disorganization, and liberalism.

As Lenin reminds in the above mentioned article, there has always been attacks on the "dictatorship of the leaders." Lenin had to take up this matter often. In fact, in his "Speech On the Role of the Communist Party at the Second Congress of the Communist International", dated July 23, 1923, he once again had answered the criticisms on the matter after the speeches of comrades Tanner and Maclaine: " Comrades, I would like to make a few remarks concerning the speeches of Comrades Tanner and McLaine. Tanner says that he stands for the dictatorship of the proletariat, but he does not see the dictatorship of the proletariat quite in the way we do. He says that by the dictatorship of the proletariat we actually mean the dictatorship of the organised and class-conscious minority of the proletariat.

True enough, in the era of capitalism, when the masses of the workers are subjected to constant exploitation and cannot develop their human capacities, the most characteristic feature of working-class political parties is that they can involve only a minority of their class. A political party can comprise only a minority of a class, in the same way as the really class-conscious workers in any capitalist society constitute only a minority of all workers. We are therefore obliged to recognise that it is only this class-conscious minority that can direct and lead the broad masses of the workers. (...) What is this organised minority? If this minority is really class-conscious, if it is able to lead the masses, if it is able to reply to every question that appears on the order of the day, then it is a party in reality." (Ibid, p. 236) [https://www.marxists.org/archive/lenin/works/1920/jul/x03.htm#fw2]

Finally further on in his speech, he does not neglect to put a reservation on the record: "If the minority is unable to lead the masses and establish close links with them, then it is not a party, and is worthless in general, even if it calls itself a party or the National Shop Stewards’ Committee..." (Ibid p. 238)

Lenin concludes that a class-conscious minority "can direct and lead the broad masses of the workers." Whereas the MKP states that "...the state must be governed by the masses united with the communist leadership." (p. 107) Can we talk of an internal congruence between these two statements? What is visible is that there is a deep gap between the two, for Lenin says that the party must direct the class and the MKP argues that the masses must direct the class. And yet, the MKP still goes on to claim that "this was the theoretical proposition and orientation of Marks, Lenin, and Mao." (p. 107) It is just a tragicomic case that the MKP calls Lenin as a witness to defend its theory, which stinks "mass adulation".

Lenin explains the matter very clearly: Under the conditions of capitalism, the class-conscious workers constitute a minority and this minority is capable of directing the masses. The real issue is being able to, gradually and with a tireless effort, bring the masses to the level where they can manage themselves. Social limitations are at the same time make the basis for the limitations on this issue. As long as there are social limitations, to the extent of these limitations, there will be a party, a leadership, and a state. Along the process, with the transition to the statelessness, which shall take a very long time, people will be able to govern themselves. Demanding this by now would just mean disarming the proletariat to the benefit of the bourgeoisie.

The MKP should not forget that the proletarian dictatorship is the basic content of the proletarian revolution and the party is the essential content of the proletarian dictatorship.

Under the capitalist imperialist encirclement, while the classes, contradictions, and antagonisms exist, in the struggle between two lines, two paths, and two classes, a leadership and a Communist Party that is united with the masses is the essence of the matter. This fact cannot be negated by pointing at the experiences where leaderships in time had degenerated and got converted into the opposite of what the Party stood for. This would hide the actual sources of the conversions. Moreover, it would make the masses hostile toward these means.



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