The Forgotten (Pluralist) Legacy of Bolshevism

Simon Hardy’s article in The North Star, titled “Bolshevism and Revolutionary Organization: Forgotten Legacies” is worth reading. Hardy argues that there is a tendency, both among scholars and in the popular imagination, to read the authoritarian centralism and suppression of a plurality of views backwards into the early history of the Bolshevik movement when it was still the RSDLP. To counter this reading, he provides evidence that the Bolshevik faction allowed a substantial amount of dissent and a plurality of opinions among its membership, albeit with the expectation that members still remained loyal to the movement and shared a common opposition to parliamentary reformism. Only after 1921, with the onset of war communist policies, did the Bolsheviks begin to suppress internal dissent and dictate the organization of communist movements internationally. Yet there is reason to believe that Lenin was unsure of this approach, remarking at one point that it was “too Russian” – meaning that it reflected the particular needs of consolidating a revolution in Russia, but was not necessarily the right approach under other national conditions.

I also recommend Hardy’s Marxist Theory website.


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