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1984 Marxism and socialist parties, from Marx to Lenin. 3

17 January 2017

Bensaïd focuses on polemical aspects of Leninist theory of organisation, and starts with a discussion of  two Leninist positions. Firstly, the Leninist theory of organisation represents a very historic moment in the history of working class, where the political party tends to dissolve itself in the social organisation of the proletariat. The ideas of Lenin entail a distinction between party and class. Dictatorship of the proletariat, trade unions, working class and party do not mean the the same in Lenin's thought. Bensaïd here touches upon the difference between Leninism and Bolshevism, and elaborates on the fight between Leninism and the Second International. The ambiguity in the 1st Congress of the Comintern: On the one hand, the Party as an organisation of all workers organisations including the soviets (subordinated politically and organisationally to the party), at the same time, as the party is a vanguard party, it is just one part of the soviet. Therefore, the party is only part of and subordinate to the soviets. Secondly, the Leninist concept of party as a vanguard party, selected party, doesn't eliminate at all the question of a mass party.

In discussing this position, Bensaïd sets out two levels of action: the problem of political independence of the working class for building workers party remains a task. He gives the example of Guatemala and the militarist organisation versus the Leninist organisation of a party. He sees the solution in auto-organisation in the party at different levels. He concludes by underlining that the degree of centralisation can change, the members can change, the system -as it shows the political conditions- can change; whereas, the difference between party and class should be maintained.

Duration: 39:24
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