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Revolutionary Socialism. Overview. Leninism and the Vanguard Party Trotsky and the Permanent Revolution Mao and Third World Revolutions. Marxist-Leninist Countries at height of Cold War. The Vanguard Party. Recap Lenin’s argument:

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  • Leninism and the Vanguard Party
  • Trotsky and the Permanent Revolution
  • Mao and Third World Revolutions
the vanguard party
The Vanguard Party
  • Recap Lenin’s argument:
    • Capitalism has evolved into Imperialism, a stage at which capitalist countries conquer and exploit lesser developed countries
    • This exploitation allows capitalists to bribe their own proletariat
the vanguard party5
The Vanguard Party
  • Recap Lenin’s Argument
    • Because the revolutionary class has been distracted, we need to begin the revolution on the periphery of the capitalist states
    • The working class, though, in the peripheral states is not yet fully developed, in most areas it is “pre-capitalist”


the vanguard party6
The Vanguard Party

“At this point, we wish to state only that the role of vanguard fighter can be fulfilled only by a party that is guided by the most advanced theory.”

-- Lenin, “What is to be Done?”

the vanguard party7
“The history of all countries shows that the working class, exclusively by its own effort, is able to develop only trade union consciousness, i.e., the conviction that it is necessary to combine in unions, fight the employers, and strive to compel the government to pass necessary labour legislation, etc.”

-- What is to be Done?

The Vanguard Party
the vanguard party8
The Vanguard Party

“Working-class consciousness cannot be genuine political consciousness unless the workers are trained to respond to all cases of tyranny, oppression, violence, and abuse, no matter what class is affected – unless they are trained, moreover, to respond from a Social-Democratic point of view and no other.”

the vanguard party9
The Vanguard Party
  • The only way we can get the working class to move beyond the “trade union” mentality is if we have a political party that speaks on its behalf and acts in its interest
the vanguard party10
The Vanguard Party

“Class political consciousness can be brought to the workers only from without, that is, only from outside the economic struggle, from outside the sphere of relations between workers and employers.”

-- What is to be Done?

the vanguard party11
The Vanguard Party
  • The role of the Communist Party then, is to act as a revolutionary force to develop the class consciousness of the working class
  • As a revolutionary force, the party will then fight for the interests of the working class
  • The revolution will begin in the periphery and spread, creating a crisis within capitalism and raising the class-consciousness of the proletariat in capitalist countries
the vanguard party12
The Vanguard Party

“And the dictatorship of the proletariat, i.e., the organization of the vanguard of the oppressed as the ruling class for the purpose of suppressing the oppressors, cannot result merely in an expansion of democracy…

the vanguard party13
The Vanguard Party

“the dictatorship of the proletariat imposes a series of restrictions on the freedom of the oppressors, the exploiters, the capitalists. We must suppress them in order to free humanity from wage slavery, their resistance must be crushed by force….”

the vanguard party14
The Vanguard Party

“Democracy for the vast majority of the people, and suppression by force, i.e., exclusion from democracy, of the exploiters and oppressors of the people-- this is the change democracy undergoes during the transition from capitalism to communism.”

the permanent revolution
The Permanent Revolution
  • For this to occur, though, the vanguard party needs to organize and engage on an international scale
  • The party needs to build alliances across national borders
the permanent revolution16
The Permanent Revolution

“With regard to countries with a belated bourgeois development, especially the colonial and semi-colonial countries…the complete and genuine solution of their tasks of achieving democracy and national emancipation is conceivable only through the dictatorship of the proletariat as the leader of the subjugated nation, above all of its peasant masses.” -- Trotsky, The Permanent Revolution

the permanent revolution17
The Permanent Revolution
  • Ally of Lenin’s during Russian Revolution (1917)
  • Initially served as Foreign Minister for the USSR, but eventually became head of the military and navy (1918-1920)
  • After Lenin’s death (1924) he loses an intraparty power struggle to Stalin
  • Leon Trotsky (1879-1940)
  • Josef Stalin (1878-1953)
the permanent revolution18
The Permanent Revolution
  • Leaves Russia and ends up in Mexico where he continues his writing and political activities on behalf of the 4th International
  • Convicted in abstentia (1936) in “show trial” of conspiring to kill Stalin
  • Assassinated by Soviet agent in Mexico City (ice pick to head while he was reading in his study)
the permanent revolution19
The Permanent Revolution

“Insofar as capitalism has created a world market, a world division of labor, and world productive forces, it has also prepared the world economy as a whole for socialist transformation.”

-- Permanent Revolution

the permanent revolution20
The Permanent Revolution

“The dictatorship of the proletariat which has risen to power as the leader of the democratic revolution is inevitably and very quickly confronted with tasks, the fulfillment of which is bound up with deep inroads into the rights of bourgeois property. The democratic revolution grows over directly into the socialist revolution and thereby becomes a permanent revolution.”

the permanent revolution21
The Permanent Revolution
  • Capitalism needed to introduce the ideas of liberty and democracy in order to protect private property
  • But in treating private property relations as a “natural” right, rather than a social construct, capitalism perverts the true meaning of “democracy” and liberty
the permanent revolution22
The Permanent Revolution

If we want true freedom and democracy, then we need to substitute the “dictatorship of the bourgeoisie” with the “dictatorship of the proletariat.”

  • If we are going to have true democracy,


  • If true democracy requires a roughly equal distribution of wealth,


  • If a roughly equal distribution wealth requires the abolition of private property,


  • We need a revolution, because democracy is unlikely to get things done on the necessary scale.

“The enemy will not perish of himself. Neither the Chinese reactionaries nor the aggressive forces of U.S. imperialism in China will step down from the stage of history of their own accord.”

So violent revolution is necessary, and …


“If there is to be revolution, there must be a revolutionary party. Without a revolutionary party, without a party built on the Marxist-Leninist revolutionary theory and in the Marxist-Leninist revolutionary style, it is impossible to lead the working class and the broad masses of the people in defeating imperialism and its running dogs.”

  • Mao Zedong(1893-1976)
  • Leader of the Chinese Communist Party and the Chinese Revolution
  • Came to power in 1949, led China until his death in 1976

Mao’s idea was that out on the periphery, where there is no real industrial working class, the vanguard party can lead the peasant class to topple regimes which support imperialist countries or the imperialists themselves


“A revolution is not a dinner party, or writing an essay, or painting a picture, or doing embroidery; it cannot be so refined, so leisurely and gentle, so temperate, kind, courteous, restrained and magnanimous. A revolution is an insurrection, an act of violence by which one class overthrows another.”


“Every Communist must grasp the truth, ‘Political power grows out of the barrel of a gun.’"


So the struggle for democracy then begins with the peasant and working classes of the lesser developed countries, in the form of national liberationmovements initially.

  • But as the revolutionary parties of the world succeed in linking up, the communist revolution will eventually come to the industrialized west
  • Capital will have no where left to run, no place to exploit
  • Without that escape valve, capitalists can no longer buy off their own working class

The proletariat in the industrialized countries will become increasingly radicalized and increasingly class conscious

  • And at that point the communist revolution will triumph and the dictatorship of the proletariat begin
  • Democracy and freedom will reign!