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Marxism-Leninism (Russian: марксизм-ленинизм, marksizm-leninizm), strictly speaking, refers to the version of Marxism developed by Vladimir Lenin; see Leninism.

However, in various contexts, different (and sometimes opposing) political groups have used the term "Marxism-Leninism" to describe the ideologies that they claimed to be upholding. The purpose of this article is to give an account of the historical and present uses of the label "Marxism-Leninism". The core ideological features of Marxism-Leninism are those of Marxism and Leninism, viz. belief in the necessity of a violent overthrow of capitalism through communist revolution, to be followed by a dictatorship of the proletariat as the first stage of moving towards communism, and the need for a vanguard party to lead the proletariat in this effort. It involves subscribing to the teachings and legacy of Karl Marx and Frederick Engels (Marxism), and that of Lenin, as carried forward by Joseph Stalin. Those who view themselves as Marxist-Leninists, however, vary with regards to the leaders and thinkers that they choose to uphold as progressive (and to what extent). Maoists tend to downplay the importance of all other thinkers in favour of Mao Zedong, whereas Hoxhaites repudiate Mao.

[edit] History of the term

Lenin himself never used the term "Leninism," nor did he refer to his views as "Marxism-Leninism." However, his ideas diverged from classical Marxist theory on several important points (see the articles on Marxism and Leninism for more information). Bolshevik communists saw these differences as advancements of Marxism made by Lenin. After Lenin's death, his ideology and contributions to Marxist theory were termed "Marxism-Leninism," or sometimes only "Leninism." Marxism-Leninism soon became the official name for the ideology of the Comintern and of communist parties around the world.

Within 5 years of Lenin's death, Joseph Stalin completed his rise to power in the Soviet Union. During the period of Stalin's rule in the Soviet Union, Marxism-Leninism was proclaimed the official ideology of the state.

Whether Stalin's practices actually followed the principles of Marx and Lenin is still a subject of debate amongst historians and political scientists. Trotskyists in particular believe that Stalinism contradicted authentic Marxism and Leninism, and they intitially used the term "Bolshevik-Leninism" to describe their own ideology of anti-Stalinist and anti-Maoist communism.

After the Sino-Soviet split, the Soviet Union and the People's Republic of China each claimed to be the sole intellectual heir to Marxism-Leninism. In China, the claim that Mao had "adapted Marxism-Leninism to Chinese conditions" evolved into the idea that he had updated it in a fundamental way applying to the world as a whole; consequently, the term "Marxism-Leninism-Mao Zedong Thought" (commonly known as Maoism) was increasingly used to describe the official Chinese state ideology as well as the ideological basis of parties around the world who sympathized with the Communist Party of China. Following the death of Mao, American Maoists associated with the Revolutionary Communist Party (USA) subsequently coined the term Marxism-Leninism-Maoism, arguing that Maoism was a more advanced stage of Marxism. Many parties today believe that the current leadership of China has abandoned Maoism.

Following the Sino-Albanian split, a small but substantial portion of Marxist-Leninists, such as Alliance Marxist-Leninist and to a lesser extent Ray O. Light Group, in the US, began to downplay or repudiate the role of Mao Zedong in the International Communist Movement in favor of the Party of Labor of Albania and a stricter adherence to Stalin.

In North Korea, Marxism-Leninism was officially superseded in 1977 by Juche, in which concepts of class and class struggle, in other words Marxism itself, play no significant role. However, the government is still sometimes referred to as Marxist-Leninist - or, more commonly, Stalinist - due to its political and economic structure (see History of North Korea).

The other three communist states existing today - Cuba, Vietnam and Laos - hold Marxism-Leninism as their official ideology, although they give it different interpretations in terms of practical policy.

[edit] Current usage

Most communist parties continue to regard Marxism-Leninism as their basic ideology, although many have modified it to adapt to new political conditions. Several communist parties, especially those previously associated with Eurocommunism, have distanced themselves from the concept of 'Marxism-Leninism' and in many cases omitted it from their official documents. Some have started identifying themselves as 'Marxist, Leninist' or 'Marxist and Leninist' rather than 'Marxist-Leninist'. Still others use the term 'Marxist-Leninism' to imply that that there is another 'Leninism' that is not Marxist. The difference in such cases is that the historical connotation of 'Marxism-Leninism' is avoided.

In party names, the appellation 'Marxist-Leninist' is normally used by a communist party who wishes to distinguish itself from some other (and presumably 'revisionist') communist party in the same country. Most often, parties who place the term 'Marxist-Leninist' in their official name are those originating from the anti-revisionist tradition, such as Maoist or Hoxhaist groups.

Popular confusion abounds concerning the complex terminology describing the various schools of Marxist-derived thought. The appellation 'Marxist-Leninist' is often used by those not familiar with communist ideology in any detail (e.g. many newspapers and other media) as a synonym for any kind of Marxism.

[edit] See also

bg:Ленинизъм de:Leninismus es:Leninismo fr:Marxisme-léninisme ko:레닌주의 it:Leninismo he:לניניזם lt:Leninizmas nl:Marxisme-leninisme ja:マルクス・レーニン主義 no:Marxisme-leninisme nn:Leninisme pl:Leninizm pt:Leninismo ro:Marxism-leninism ru:Марксизм-ленинизм simple:Leninism fi:Marxismi-leninismi sv:Marxism-leninism zh:马克思列宁主义


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