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Marxism–Leninism is the political ideology adopted by the Communist Party of the Soviet Union and Comintern, which its proponents consider to be based on Marxism and Leninism. The term was suggested by Joseph Stalin and gained wide circulation in the Soviet Union after Stalin's 1938 History of the VKP(b). A Brief Course, which became an official standard textbook.

The goal of Marxism–Leninism, according to its proponents, is the development of a state into what it considers a socialist state through the leadership of a revolutionary vanguard composed of "professional" revolutionaries, an organic part of the working class who come to socialist consciousness as a result of the dialectic of class struggle. The socialist state, which according to Marxism–Leninism represents a "dictatorship of the proletariat", is primarily or exclusively governed by the party of the revolutionary vanguard through the process of democratic centralism, which Vladimir Lenin described as "diversity in discussion, unity in action." Through this policy, the communist party (or equivalent) is the supreme political institution of the state and primary force of societal organisation. Marxism–Leninism professes its final goal as the development of socialism into the full realisation of communism, a classless social system with common ownership of the means of production and with full social equality of all members of society. To achieve this goal, the communist party mainly focuses on the intensive development in industry, science and technology, which lay the basis for continual growth of the productive forces and therein increases the flow of material wealth. All land and natural resources are publicly owned and managed, with varying forms of public ownership of social institutions.

Other types of communists such as Raya Dunayevskaya and Amadeo Bordiga have been critical of Marxism–Leninism. They argue that Marxist–Leninist states did not establish socialism, but rather state capitalism. They trace this argument back to the founders of Marxism's own comments about state ownership of property being a form of capitalism except when certain conditions are met—conditions which, in their argument, did not exist in the Marxist–Leninist states. Marxism's dictatorship of the proletariat is a democratic state form; single-party rule (which the Marxist–Leninist states made use of) cannot be a dictatorship of the proletariat under the Marxist definition. They conclude that Marxism–Leninism is neither Marxism nor Leninism nor the union of both, but rather an artificial term created to justify Stalin's ideological distortion.

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