The Leninist theory of the Communist Party



hello comrads is the finished Bolshevik this time I'm going to be talking about democratic centralism Marxism Leninism seeks to carry out a communist revolution by organizing the working class and its reserve forces using the strategy of Vanguard ISM and the organizational principle of democratic centralism both of these have been very successful historically and particularly well-suited for a socialist or communist party or group a socialist revolution is a rather unique kind of revolution because it's a revolution of the oppressed and of the poor and working masses the reason that Vanguard ISM is so effective is because it combines leadership and political consciousness and a level of expertise together with a broad mass movement and a big popular revolution the typical problem with movements that don't use Vanguard ISM is that if they are a small conspiratorial organization that tries to carry out a coup or some kind of plot it oftentimes doesn't work and especially if it's coming from a leftist or working-class perspective then it almost certainly will not work military coos or pooches when they work they are usually coming from within the state itself against another part of the state and they are usually supported by part of the ruling class that is already in power but in a socialist revolution the situation is very different it is the oppressed class trying to overthrow the ruling class and in such cases historically small conspiratorial organizations of revolutionaries have not worked instead it takes a big popular uprising and a big popular revolution now the problem with popular revolutions that haven't used Vanguard ism is that they often lack the necessary leadership they often lack the necessary sense of direction and common clearly defined and formulated political goals there's a reason why there's been hundreds of massive spontaneous revolts but practically none of them have led to a successful revolution we've kind of covered why we need Vanguard ISM but what exactly is Vanguard isn't then in practice Vanguard ISM is the idea that the most politically conscious and most experienced most capable and what in Marxist terminology has been called the advanced section the advanced section of the working class organizes itself to a bang guard now what does it mean to be in the advanced section this part of the working class is very class conscious very politically conscious politically active and politically organized this is the advanced section now where there is an advanced section there's also the backward section so the backward section of the working class is basically the part of the working class that is not very conscious doesn't really understand what's going on doesn't really understand their own interests they don't know what to do they might have some kind of reactionary views or they might just be passive and not care and not be organized that will be the backward section now of course lots of people fall somewhere in the middle they're not necessarily the most advanced but they're not necessarily the most backward either but the idea of Vanguard ISM is that this advanced section tries to push the rest of the working class and the rest of the population in general into a better direction some people still idealize spontaneity and spontaneous grassroots movements but such movements never lead to successful revolution you need a popular mass movement but you also need leadership and clear political goals without political consciousness these mass movements wither away and die and nothing changes we've seen movements like this come and go a million times some people want to limit our movement to aimless protests with no clear goals no agreement on principles no organizational unity or capacity to bring change spontaneous popular movements that arise are good but they're not enough they create an opportunity for the vanguard to introduce political consciousness political goals ideology and leadership revolution is difficult and anyone who is even remotely serious should realize that spontaneity alone is not enough without revolutionary Theory there can be no revolutionary movement to belittle the socialist ideology in any way to turn aside from it in the slightest degree means to strengthen bourgeois ideology spontaneous protest actions by the people present an opportunity to build a real revolutionary movement but some groups especially anarchists and liberals romanticize these spontaneous movements like Occupy Wall Street or black lives matter they think that any clear goals or ideology will ruin a good spontaneous grassroots movement but this is a mistake the problem with these movements is precisely that there are only spontaneous without any clear plans to facilitate change or they're overtaken by liberals who romanticize just such a mess spontaneity quote there's much talk of spontaneity but the spontaneous development of the working-class movement leads to its subordination to bourgeois ideology the fundamental error bowing to spontaneity failure to understand that the spontaneity of the masses demands a high degree of consciousness from us the greater the spontaneous upsurge of the masses the more rapid incomparably so the demand for greater conscious in the theoretical political and organizational work quote no revolutionary movement can endure without a stable organization of leaders that maintains continuity the wider the masses spontaneously drawn into the struggle the more urgent the need of such an organization and the more solid this organization must be the party is the leader the vanguard of the proletariat the vanguard has a special role while anyone can join a trade union or vote in bourgeois elections only the most active and class conscious workers joined the revolutionary party trade unions almost exclusively focus on short-term economic demands not on long-term political demands reformist election campaigns focus on trying to fix capitalism a system that can't be fixed but the vanguard party seeks to overthrow the entire capitalist system it combines economic and political demands and has the necessary political knowledge to see that the system must be overthrown quote the party must regard itself not as an appendage of the parliamentary electoral machinery and not as a gratuitous supplement to the trade unions but as the highest form of class Association of the proletariat the function of which is to lead all the other forms of proletarian organizations from its trade unions to the parties group in parliament the party and especially its leading elements must thoroughly master the revolutionary theory of Marxism which is inseparably connected with revolutionary practice the party consists of the advanced sections of the poor and working people they are the vanguard quote the party must be first of all the advanced detachment of the working class the party must absorb all the best elements of the working class their experience their revolutionary spirits their selfless devotion to the cause of the proletariat but in order that it may really be the armed detachment the party must be armed with revolutionary theory with the knowledge of the laws of the movement with the knowledge of the laws of revolution perhaps more than anything the vanguard needs to put forward political ideas and put forward political slogans that appeal to the masses defend the interests the real interests of the masses so that they will win the confidence of the masses and raise the political consciousness of the masses to a suitable degree so that they will carry out the revolution because it's the masses that carry out the revolution the vanguard can never do it alone revolutions come as you come every kind of ocean is being revolution is being going on revolution always has been going on revolution always will be going on because it knew was always gonna be struggling with the old for domination and the new was always gonna win and the Black Panther Party for self-defense just like the vanguard of the revolution will Knight the tip of the spear we make the first impact but really the real damage is done but a bit of this fear that's a people they make the revolution the good thing about the vanguard is that it is politically conscious but the bad thing about the vanguard is that it is small by definition the most advanced section of the working class is only a minority of the working class and it can't overthrow capitalism on its own it must show the way leading by example and win the trust of the wider masses of the people to support it and carry out the revolution quote victory cannot be won by the vanguard alone the immediate task that confronts the class-conscious vanguard of the international labor movement that is the Communist Party's is to be able to lead the broad masses now for the most part slumbering apathetic bound by routine inert and dormant to their new position or rather to be able to lead not only their own party but also these masses in their approach their transition to the new position quote the point here is not that the Vanguard should realize the impossibility of preserving the old regime and the inevitability of its overthrow the point is that the masses the millions should understand this inevitability and display their readiness to support the vanguard but the masses can understand this only from their own experience the task is to enable the vast masses to realize from their own experience the inevitability of the overthrow of the old regime to promote such methods of struggle and forms of organizations as will make it easier for the masses to realize from experience the correctness of the revolutionary slogans the Vanguard can only hope to guide the masses to revolution if the idea is the party puts forward truly appealed to the masses and truly serve their interests winning the trust and support of the people is not easy it only comes through hard work of educating the people and serving their interests but it is absolutely necessary quote the party would cease to be a party if the party turned in on itself and became divorced from the non party masses the party cannot lead the class if it is not connected with the non party masses if there is no bond between the party and the non party masses if these masses do not accept its leadership if the party enjoys no moral and political credit among the masses the organizational principle of democratic centralism is closely linked with the idea of bang guard ISM which arises from Marx's concept of class consciousness the debate around democratic centralism often boils down to the question of the role of a party member opponents of Leninism argued that anyone who supported socialism should be able to sign up as a party member in their mind party members should not be obligated to do anything the party should be as big as possible and it could tolerate many different kinds of views in Lenin's view the party needed active revolutionaries not passive supporters hence a party member should belong to one of the party's organizations and work in it this separates a revolutionary party from a reformist party a revolutionary party has no need for members who are nothing but voters these people are sympathizers supporters not party members being a supporter is fine but it is not enough in Lenin's view a member of the party also needs to be someone who not only supports the idea of socialism but actually upholds the principles and policy of the party a Leninist party supports the ideas of revolutionary Marxism and those who don't agree with these core beliefs can't be members of a Leninist party a party with mutually exclusive views about its fundamental beliefs will either be extremely disunited or will lack any clear principle this can work for a bourgeois party or a party aimed only at winning some election seats or passing small reforms but it won't work for a revolutionary Marxist party a revolution requires unity and Trust the Leninist party functions based on freedom of speech and unity of action this means that decisions are made democratically but they are binding on everyone a member of the party is obligated to follow the decisions of the majority when voluntarily joining the party members agree to this principle the same rules and decisions of the party are binding on all members not only on those who choose to follow the they are bonding on everyone quote parties belonging to the Communists International must be organized on the principle of democratic centralism quote the discipline and organization which come so hard to the bourgeois intellectual are very easily acquired by the proletariat mortal fear and utter failure to understand its importance as an organizing factor are characteristic of the ways of thinking which reflect the petit bourgeois mode of life and which give rise to the aristocratic anarchism as I would call it this aristocratic anarchism is particularly characteristic of the Russian nihilist he thinks of the party organization as a monstrous Factory he regards the subordination of the part to the whole and of the minority to the majority as serfdom division of labor under the direction of a centre a vote from him a tragic comical outcry against transforming people into cogs and wheels mention of the organizational rules of the party calls for a contemptuous grimace and a disdainful remark that one could very well dispense with rules altogether in 1921 in the tenth Bolshevik Party Congress a Linnaean proposed a so-called ban on factions which was accepted by the Congress in practice this means that the party won't tolerate any factional or opposition groupings that work against the majority of the party or put forward a political line that goes against the rest of the party having such internal factions is obviously very harmful for a party as it divides members into competing cliques quote all class conscious workers must clearly realize that factionalism of any kind is harmful and impermissible for no matter how members of individual groups may desire to safeguard party unity factionalism in practice inevitably leads to the weakening of teamwork and to attempts by the enemies to use it for counter revolutionary purposes the issue of unity naturally raises the question of disagreement the party will always have disagreement the party is not only based on unity alone but also on democracy and freedom of debate in fact real unity is only possible by voluntary agreement it cannot be forced you can't force anyone to agree with you against their will if party members agree with the principles of the party agree to follow the democratic decisions of the party and don't take part in any factional activity then what is the role of disagreement issues are decided democratically with freedom of debate everyone will be able to say what they want to say naturally that doesn't mean that their propositions will be accepted but they will have a chance to present them and argue in favor of them also questions of political line won't be decided for all time practical policy will have to change constantly the composition of the leadership will also change this means that questions of the party's political line will be raised again and will have to be decided again at certain intervals because the situation demands it when deciding big political questions it is important that everyone has the chance to speak if the party is very split on a question the problem won't be solved by a narrow majority trying to silence the minority that wouldn't work it could lead to a disaster it is important that enough time is given for discussion to take place fully before a decision is made real unity can't be forced and without democracy the party leadership will lose touch with the membership and make wrong decisions there will always remain people who don't agree with the majority and this is normal even in a party where everyone agrees on principles nobody will agree with everyone else on every single thing this agreement is allowed within the confines of party rules as long as members don't break party discipline and don't engage in factionalism they can disagree and when the time comes for a new decision new debate or a new vote they can then argue for their side just like everyone else quote an important serious and extremely responsible task really to apply the principles of democratic centralism in party organization due to it that all the higher standing bodies are elected accountable and subject to recall there must be complete unity of action action by the proletariat must be United but beyond the bounds of unity of action there must be the broadest and free discussion and condemnation of all steps decisions and tendencies that we regard as harmful only through such discussions resolutions and protests can the real public opinion of our party be formed only on this condition shall we be a real party always able to express its opinion and finding the right way to convert a definitely formed opinion into the decisions quote democratic centralism in the communist party organization must be a real synthesis a fusion of centralism and proletarian democracy this fusion can be achieved only on the basis of constant common activity constant common struggle of the entire party organization enemies assert that the Communist Party is trying to rule over the revolutionary proletariat such an assertion is a lie the centralization of the organization that is the aim to create strong leadership cannot be successful if its achievement is sought on the basis of formal democracy the necessary preliminary conditions are the development and maintenance of living associations and mutual relations within the party between the directing organs and members as well as between the party and the masses of the proletariat outside the party quote precise operation of democratic centralism in the party as demanded by our party statutes unconditional elective nosov party organs the right to put forward and to withdraw candidates the secret ballots and freedom of criticism and self-criticism quote democratic centralism method is a mass line method first democracy then centralism coming from the masses returning to the masses the unity of the leadership and the masses both inside and outside the party there must be a full democratic life which means conscientiously putting democratic centralism into effect democratic centralism is a principle it's not an exact blueprint of what a party should look like parties in different countries at different times with different amounts of people will always look a bit different but this is the basic idea in parties based on democratic centralism bodies are always elected the only exceptions to this are if for some reason this is not possible for instance if the party works illegally underground and they can't meet and convene a Congress or some other reason like that in normal circumstances if at all possible all party bodies should be elected a democratic centrist party typically has one centralized leadership which is elected the lower party bodies are supporting it to the higher party bodies and the party minority is supporting it to the party majority the local organizations are supporting it to the party center party leadership this can take a number of different forms details vary but typically a common party like this will have local organizations a central committee and a Politburo the names of these can also vary but that doesn't really matter a communist party like this has a collective leadership it has a chairman and other high-ranking positions but none of them can decide anything on their own the party doesn't have one leader who can just decide anything it is a collective body the Central Committee of the party is elected by a party Congress that's basically a very basic unit of the Party Central Committee elected by the party congress the congresses are typically held every year or every five years it depends in the party that I'm in they are every two years local organizations of the party send representatives to the Congress with a right to vote and they will then elect the party leadership the Central Committee and the political executive committee also known as the Politburo usually if the local organization is bigger it will have more representatives and hence more votes but this depends on the party so the basic units of the party there's the central committee the Politburo and then the various kinds of local organizations typically the party will have chapters for every city where they have enough members and then new members will join whatever chapter is closest to them and then district organizations which consists of many local organizations but basically the idea is that there is a center with the CC and the politburo and then the various kinds of local organizations the Central Committee usually contains a relatively large amount of people 20 people might sound like a lot but it's actually very normal the politburo is smaller it consists of the chairman of the party and some other high-ranking members of the Central Committee the job of the politburo is to manage the everyday affairs of the party and it has a lot of power but at the same time it is accountable and answerable to the CC Central Committee the Politburo basically represents the Central Committee and it gets its power from the Central Committee the Politburo is basically a smaller group of party leaders who meet often and can make quick decisions on immediate tasks and immediate questions of policy the CC or the Central Committee is a bigger group that meets less often maybe only once a year or a few times a year and the Central Committee when it meets it decides bigger questions broader questions more long-term questions of the parties political ideological and tactical line so you can think about this as the Central Committee decides the party's line and then the Politburo implements these decisions the Central Committee can't ask the Politburo with different things it can give the Politburo the authorisation to do certain things the Politburo will handle the quick day-to-day issues but sometimes the Politburo can decide that this question whatever it may be has to be discussed by the Central Committee before the Politburo goes forward and does it whatever it is in the porks after door for candlelight

50 thoughts on “The Leninist theory of the Communist Party

  • Does anybody know how local organisations elected members for Congress or central committee in USSR, Cuba or Czechoslovakia ?
    I am genuinely interested. What did it look like, how many members would a local organisation or a local unit choose, for how much candidates you could vote and was voting done by a secret ballot ?

  • Quite Ironic that the U.S says that Marxist-Leninism is Tyrannical when in a Leninist party the process is ten times more democratic than the American "Hey let us make you vote for some dude on the electoral college who will (maybe, probably not) vote how voted" system

  • An Error in Theory:
    While there is a dichotomy between spontaneity and class consciousness, it is a mistake to claim that mass spontaneous movements are aimless, leaderless, and without a political agenda. They may start off that way, but will eventually develop the means to exercise power within the capitalist system and force the ruling bourgeoisie elites to grant reforms.

    The comrade is correct to claim that mass spontaneous movements do not lead to successful revolution, but they can and do lead to successful reforms as in the question, reform or revolution? As is true of many identity groups, these movements want better treatment, equality, social justice, and the end to oppression WITHIN the capitalist system. For the sake of social peace, the ruling class can easily grant these demands, but what the lord giveth he can easily taketh away when politically expedient.

    As the comrades correctly points out; the problem with spontaneous movements is they have no clear plan to facilitate change outside the context of capitalism. Their goal is reform and change within the capitalist system, not revolution. This is especially true when such movements are taken over and led by liberals who romanticize and subordinate such movements to liberalism and bourgeoisie ideology. For example, with the exception of groups like the Black Panther Party, the black civil rights movement was a liberal reform movement.
    The problem is to transform these mass and fragmented spontaneous movements into a unified mass revolutionary movement. Move from reform to revolution. The vanguard party can accomplish this task under certain circumstances of mass revolts from below, as as in France’s yellow jacket movement. Its mission is to replace bourgeoisie reformism with revolutionary class consciousness. Only then can the vanguard party overthrow and replace the bourgeoisie ruling class with a dictatorship of the proletariat. However, it is an error in theory and practice to assume that spontaneous movements are aimless, leaderless, and lack political agenda. RH

  • Spontanious revolution is the force inside of the socialist movement to move it forward. Therefore not all workers are equal. IQ and action are the movers of society not similareness an comfortism.

  • luulenpa panttereilta löytyvän vähän parempaa ainesta esikuvaksi.tuo kaverihan oli nimenomaan yksi pantterien tuhon syy ja esimerkki miten johtaa voidaan huonosti ja asialle vahingollisesti

  • "If for the sake of Communism it is necessary for us to destroy 9/10ths of the people, we must not hesitate." – Vladimir Lenin

    He knew we had to get rid of the idiotic farmers who dominated European landscape.

  • Someone please gather the YouTube Marxist community and form a YouTube vanguard channel to spread Marxism 101 throughout YouTube. that would possibly be the best thing ever.

  • Hello, Finbol!

    I was wanting to know if you'd ever considered a series where you break down works of different marxists. It would be really helpful to hear your insight on Capital, for example, because that book is a behemoth and pretty difficult to grasp (at least my first time reading has been difficult). I know there are sources on the internet for these things, but I feel like you explain things concisely enough.

    Lenin's works would also be interesting if you could go in to them and maybe give some historical context to what he's talking about; maybe you could even get in to how the writers discovered things like "Imperialism is the most advanced stage of capitalism"?

    I understand if it's a bit of a hassle and if you wouldn't be interested, and if this is the case, I'd really appreciate you giving your favorite sources for summaries, study guides, etc.

    Best regards!

  • Good work. There's this new Anti-Leninist book by AK Press called "Bloodstained." I'm disappointed in them for putting out such sectarian garbage. That's the last thing we need right now. Has anyone here heard of this book? Thoughts?

  • I was wondering what your opinion is on the actions of the Bolsheviks after the revolution described in the section of An Anarchist FAQ about the Russian revolution. It makes points that you haven't addressed in your vids on anarchism, and I was wondering your opinion on it. Other than that, you make great content and you have educated me a lot on ML theory

  • Hello, Comrades,

    If you are a regular viewer of the lovely content of the Finnish Bolshevik, then one may presume you to be an avid communist. It is for precisely this reason that I invite all who read these words to the Movement of the Peoples' Unity, an organisation of revolutionary theory and movement. Though numerous similar movements exist, we differ in our consistent maintenance of a solemn and sincere atmosphere, for that is where radical thought can truly progress. Thus, if you seek revolutionary discussion, leftist strategic advancement, and the ultimate victory of socialism, then enter the Movement of the Peoples' Unity:

    https://discord.gg/VhqeMZQ

    In Fervent Aspiration,

    The Movement of the Peoples' Unity

  • Thank you, very good video and solved some misconceptions I didn't realize I had. If possible, could you make a follow up and criticize what exactly went wrong in the Soviet Union and the reactionaries took over the party? Also, can you elaborate on historically how party purges were carried out. You've mentioned this before in other videos, but if possible, I'd like more details on how they were carried out and what criteria were used to make sure no "innocent" members were kicked out.

  • Can someone help me make sense of this sentence, I understand what is generally implied, but not what exactly says. English is not my first language and the last part seems weirdly constructed.

    Manifesto of the Communist Party – "Of course, in the beginning, this cannot be effected except by means of despotic inroads on the rights of property, and on the conditions of bourgeois production; by means of measures, therefore, which appear economically insufficient and untenable, but which, in the course of the movement, outstrip themselves, necessitate further inroads upon the old social order, and are unavoidable as a means of entirely revolutionising the mode of production".

  • Red Salute Finnish Bolshevik! Thank you for this very informative video, and the extensive reading list. I was hoping to gather your views on the LLCO (Leading Light Communist Organisation)

  • Great videos! I don't completely agree with some of the aspects of the Union or ML, I'm supportive of them anyway. What I'd really like to know though is what the North Korean industry is really centered around, with figures and sources. My dad says the entire North Korean economy is based around buying and reselling South Korean products under different names. I don't know much about the subject and my dad used to live in South Korea, so I can't exactly argue with no sources or facts. Any truth to what he says?

  • Comrade, what is the answer to the problem of revisionism? The communist party of China and Vietnam for example are both revisionists. Many of the party members themselves have connections with capitalists. In Vietnam in particular the communist party of Vietnam is legally the only legitimate political party in Vietnam. Do you propose that the party should be purged or to start a new underground party? This question honestly bugged me even after spending 2 months researching and reading on Marxism. This question doesn’t have an easy answer.

  • The modern anarchist movements focus on spontaneous popular revolts and centre left movements is the result of the revisionism that dominated anarchism starting from the last decade of the 19th century.
    Bakunin and the generations of anarchists up to the 1870's and 80's focused clearly on politicizing the struggles workingclass movements giving a long term political revolutionary program ,to the movements created around specific demands like higher wages or less working hours.
    Kropotkin ,Malatesta ,Voline etc focused on ecletism the idea that you can pick up several schools of though with different degrees of disagreement and build a cohesive movement around that ,Tucker and Spooner took a reactionary turn rigth from the start focusing on individual power and private property against tyrany from the bourgeois state and through that favoring a bourgeois view of society and rejecting anarchism for a vague idea of statelesness ,Rocker and the anarcho-syndicalists saw unions as enough the working class needed only syndical organizations built around a political goal wich is clearly not enough specially since that political program is influenced by utopian ,individualist or vague ideas.
    Thats why i rejected kroptkin synthesis anarchism and ecletism in favour of platformism.

  • If you're looking to attract the masses to communism, then why are you using militaristic imagery all the time? Don't you think that'll scare people off?

    If neo-nazis made videos quoting race scientists while showing swastika-waving nazis march in the background nobody would watch them. They're smart in how they present things. They dog whistle. They only use imagery that has positive associations to the average viewer (well, the white ones, their target audience). They appropriate and redefine liberal terminology to suit their own agenda and to make their horrid ideology sound more acceptable than it is.

    Mao Zedong, the hammer and sickle, Stalin and pixelated marching troops don't cut it. Unless you're only trying to talk to people who are already communists, I would advise you to change things up. Show modern imagery. We don't live in the twentieth century anymore. Use less stuffy quotes. Explain things in layman's terms. Avoid names/words/symbols that people have learned to be scared of. Make a mind-map while you talk to make it easier for people to remember everything you're saying. Crack a joke. I don't know, something.

    I'm not a communist and much less an authoritarian one, but I do lean left pretty heavily, so I should be an easy target, but this video (and some of your other ones) didn't speak to me at all. This is pushing me away from communism if anything. Especially the part about 'no factionalism', like "Oh sure you can disagree, but if you disagree too much we'll kick you of the party and you'll be politically powerless, and we decide what's too much." Do you not see how this is exactly what people are afraid of, and that this kind of rhetoric is what makes them equate communism to Orwell's dystopian future (yes orwell was a socialist blabla, but most people don't know that)?
    And then the marching hammer and sickle and gun carrying people from the 50's in the background, you're almost a McCarthyist caricature of a communist. You're giving the rightwing exactly what they want in order to scare people away from the left.

    Sorry man, but that's how you're coming across. That's most likely not the message you're intending to spread and I believe that your ideology is probably not actually violent or militaristic or totalitarian and intolerant of serious criticism, but your messaging/branding… it doesn't really take current discourse and the general public opinion and associations into account. But then again you may just be trying to reach like-minded people. Even in that case I'd still be careful of rightwingers using your content to scare the general public into joining them though.

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