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Marxist theories of the political party

Marxist theories of the political party
Marxist theories of the political party

This thesis is a critical analysis of the theories of leading Marxists - Marx, Lenin, Luxemburg, Lukács, Gramsci, Stalin, and Trotsky - on the role, organisation and strategy of the Marxist party. The central theme is the way in which theorists have conceived the relationship between the party and the working class. Should the party be a broad organisation embracing all tendencies in the workers' movement or should it be a narrow elite acting on behalf of the masses, or is a third alternative possible? The thesis begins by situating the role of the party in Marx's theory of class struggle and shows how Marx, reacting against conspiratorial and utopian forms of organisation, favoured a broad, non-sectarian party. It then traces Lenin's development in opposition to 'economism' and reformism of the concept of the disciplined vanguard party, and discusses Luxemburg's objections to this and her emphasis on mass spontaneity. Lukács' Hegelian conception of class consciousness is shown to lead to an elitist and idealised view of the party. In contrast Gramsci's theory of 'hegemony' is seen as adding new dimensions to the Leninist theory of the party. This is followed by an analysis of the conflict between Stalin and Trotsky, in which Stalin is seen as evolving a thoroughly manipulative view of the party whereas Trotsky defended the original aspirations of Leninism. The thesis concludes with an examination of the principal objections to the Marxist party - Michels' 'iron law of oligarchy', and view that Leninism leads to Stalinism and an evaluation of the relevance of the Marxist theory of the party today.

University of Southampton
Molyneux, Jonathan Christopher
Molyneux, Jonathan Christopher

Molyneux, Jonathan Christopher (1976) Marxist theories of the political party. University of Southampton, Doctoral Thesis.

Record type: Thesis (Doctoral)

Abstract

This thesis is a critical analysis of the theories of leading Marxists - Marx, Lenin, Luxemburg, Lukács, Gramsci, Stalin, and Trotsky - on the role, organisation and strategy of the Marxist party. The central theme is the way in which theorists have conceived the relationship between the party and the working class. Should the party be a broad organisation embracing all tendencies in the workers' movement or should it be a narrow elite acting on behalf of the masses, or is a third alternative possible? The thesis begins by situating the role of the party in Marx's theory of class struggle and shows how Marx, reacting against conspiratorial and utopian forms of organisation, favoured a broad, non-sectarian party. It then traces Lenin's development in opposition to 'economism' and reformism of the concept of the disciplined vanguard party, and discusses Luxemburg's objections to this and her emphasis on mass spontaneity. Lukács' Hegelian conception of class consciousness is shown to lead to an elitist and idealised view of the party. In contrast Gramsci's theory of 'hegemony' is seen as adding new dimensions to the Leninist theory of the party. This is followed by an analysis of the conflict between Stalin and Trotsky, in which Stalin is seen as evolving a thoroughly manipulative view of the party whereas Trotsky defended the original aspirations of Leninism. The thesis concludes with an examination of the principal objections to the Marxist party - Michels' 'iron law of oligarchy', and view that Leninism leads to Stalinism and an evaluation of the relevance of the Marxist theory of the party today.

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Published date: 1976

Identifiers

Local EPrints ID: 462870
URI: http://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/462870
PURE UUID: b3c27410-365b-480a-8073-791a3b39fbc7

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Date deposited: 04 Jul 2022 20:18
Last modified: 04 Jul 2022 21:33

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Author: Jonathan Christopher Molyneux

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