Historical muddle, theoretical overkill

Continuing his response to Neil Faulkner, Mike Macnair rejects the myth of the ‘Zinovievist’ origin of democratic centralism

Neil Faulkner in his series on theories of the party advocates the rejection of a party platform, in favour of a broad party, which attempts to organise the ‘workers’ vanguard’ - meaning the broad activist layer of the workers’ movement.1 However, he uses Lenin to support the organisational separation of ‘revolutionaries’ from ‘reformists’ - which he attributes to the 1903 split in the Russian Social Democratic Labour Party: following the myth of 1903, even as he denounces it. But he completely fails to define what ‘revolutionary’ and ‘reformist’ mean in his argument. On the question of organisational forms, in his first article, he attributes to Marx the federalism of Proudhon and Bakunin.2 In his third article - theoretically on ‘Trotsky’s theory of the party’ - he denounces democratic centralism as inherently bureaucratic. He argues:

... references to the concept in Lenin’s works are few, and most of these few post-date 1917. There are many more references in Trotsky, but virtually all post-date 1917. Democratic centralism does not appear to have been a preoccupation of the Russian revolutionary leadership until they were confronted by the enormous challenges represented by civil war, economic and social collapse, and world revolution in the period 1917‑23.

He claims that “The concept seems to have gained prominence during Zinoviev’s stewardship of the early Comintern … between 1919 and 1923” and it became “a mechanism of Stalinist counterrevolution inside Russia”.3 He goes on: “In the light of this, it seems highly anomalous that democratic centralism should also have become a feature of the Trotskyist tradition.”

There are here historical claims, but little actual historical evidence. Faulkner’s argument is mainly addressed to modern far-left practice, and is (even on that basis) exceedingly unclear. The objection seems to be to the modern interpretation of the ‘Leninist’ side of the myth of 1903, in which Lenin’s proposition that party members have to participate in local party organisations is turned into a theory of party members as hyper-activist foot soldiers directed by the central leadership. (Martin Thomas similarly, but not identically, suggests in his reply that it is addressed to the recent regime of the Socialist Workers Party.4) This conception has a connection to the history, but it is a rather tenuous one. I have written about its roots before, and some repetition is unavoidable.5


Faulkner’s “highly anomalous” comment is again a combination of silence and historical leaps. Here, what is missed is the Democratic Centralist or ‘Decist’ faction (their own self-identification) in the Russian Communist Party in 1919-21, fighting against over-centralisation and bureaucracy, and the fact that this faction was an important component in the original Left Opposition of 1923-25.6

This is by no means a nit-pick. Faulkner’s argument is that democratic centralism is a product of the degeneration of the Russian Revolution. The Decists raised the idea as a banner of opposition to this development of bureaucratic rule - already in the civil war - and they participated in the Left Opposition of 1923-25 (they later became left critics of Trotskyism). It is almost certainly from this source that the Trotskyists immediately derived attachment to the idea. The Decists’ existence shows that the meaning of the phrase was debatable in the 1920s.

Why are there few references to the formula in Lenin’s works before 1917 (there are some such references)7 and none in Trotsky (which means virtually nothing, since very little of pre-1917 Trotsky is available in translation)? The answer is, in fact, simple. People do not write at length about issues which are not debated. Democratic centralism was adopted by the Mensheviks in November 1905, pretty certainly on the basis of the commitments of the September 1905 Jena Parteitag of the Sozialdemokratische Partei Deutschlands to democratic ‘centralisation’. It was then adopted by the Bolsheviks in December 1905, and by the April 1906 RSDLP unification congress.8 The point is repeated in the rules adopted by the (Bolshevik) 6th Party Congress in July-August 1917, which effected the unification with the Bolsheviks of the Mezhrayonka ‘Inter-district non-faction social democrat unifiers’ including Trotsky and others:

5. All party organisations are built on the principles of democratic centralism.

[Note. Included among “party organisations” are “party fractions in governmental, municipal, soviet and other institutions”, which are further obliged to “subordinate themselves to all party decisions and to their respective leading centres”.]

6. All organisations are autonomous with respect to their internal activities. Every party organisation has the right to issue party literature in its own name.9

Democratic centralism was thus merely conceptions about organisation that were generally agreed by both major factions in the RSDLP (and by the large majority of the German SPD), which did not give rise to significant polemics and hence were not much referred to by Lenin. But that also means precisely that we have good reason to suppose that Lenin agreed with the formula. He was not shy in expressing disagreement with party resolutions.

‘Combat party’

Faulkner is, as Thomas suggests, polemicising in a very confused way against the basic frame of the organisational model of the SWP. In organisations of this type, the leaders are permanently in post, and cannot be got rid of without a crisis (as is, in fact, the origin of Counterfire, when John Rees and Lindsey German and their co-thinkers were made to carry the can for the failure of the Respect project); regional and other organisers are appointed from above, not elected from below; and, further, behind the official structure of formal subordination to conference, and to an infrequently-meeting lay national committee, is an independent financial apparatus with a very substantial turnover. This is not financially misappropriated as such, but it does provide an unaccountable leadership core with possibilities of handing out jobs and other patronage, which helps to construct conference majorities.

Conversely, ‘permanent factions’ (existing outside the formal pre-conference period) are banned. This in turn has the effect that horizontal communication beyond the single local branch, though not formally banned, is liable to be punished as ‘factionalism’. And a sharp line is drawn between what can be published (the leadership’s line) and dissent, which has to remain internal only.

The model is ideologically characterised as a “Leninist combat party”. Although the forms vary, this set-up is the common inheritance of the International Committee of the Fourth International, created in 1953; and so was also found in the US Socialist Workers Party (not otherwise connected to the British organisation), in the Workers Revolutionary Party in Britain, and in the French Lambertiste trend (repeatedly renamed; originally the Parti Communiste Internationaliste, most recently the Parti Ouvrier Indépendant). The idea that the full-time apparatus is the ‘cadre’ - the indispensable core of the party - was central to James P Cannon of the US SWP, and his British and French co-thinkers, when they organised a split in the Fourth International in 1953. They claimed that the (alleged) support of the ‘Pabloites’ for opposition groupings in the US SWP, the French PCI and British ‘Club’ amounted to an attack on the ‘cadre’ and hence to ‘liquidationism’.

General bans on factions were common to the ‘official’ communists and the Maoists. They were the inheritance of the 1921 ban in the Russian Communist Party (Bolshevik) and its congeners in the decisions of the Communist International. In practice, however, ‘official’ communist parties in the ‘west’ tolerated a great deal of informal factional activity.

The bans on ‘permanent factions’ and on ‘factionalism’ were not shared by the International Committee’s great rivals in the Pabloite International Secretariat of the Fourth International (1953-63) and its descendants in the European wing of the Unified Secretariat of the Fourth International (1964-1980s; now self-identified as the ‘official’ Fourth International). But there is still control of information flows by the party centre in these organisations, and their factions function in the organisation as bourgeois political parties do in the parliamentary regime: that is, ‘Whoever you vote for, the government will get in’ - the full-time apparat has enough ability to manipulate the electoral process to ensure that it usually remains undislodged.

Behind this phenomenon is both a practical problem and an ideology. The practical problem is the equivalent of two prongs of a fork. The first prong is that capital generally offers workers the choice between overwork, on the one hand, and serious poverty, on the other. The result is that it is hard to do the work required to publish papers, run campaigns, organise meetings, and so on, without full-timers. To the extent that we do without full-timers, we are generally forced to rely on people who have other advantages under capitalism - with the same risk of inequality as when employing full-timers. The second prong is that capitalists are generally unenthusiastic about employing people whose CVs include periods of full-time work for left organisations (or even trade unions). So it is problematic in human terms to dismiss full-timers.

Between these two prongs, there is, therefore, a natural pressure of capitalist society on workers’ organisations to employ long-service full-timers. The larger the organisation, the more these long-service full-timers are needed, and also the more they are drawn into the common political culture of capitalist-bureaucratic managerialism. This is not a particular problem of far-left groups: the Webbs already noticed it in the British trade unions in their 1894 History of trade unionism, and Robert Michels overargued it (as ‘natural elites’) from observation of the massive SPD, in his 1911 book Political parties.


The ideology has two threads to it. The first - and fundamental to the later tradition - is Comintern’s 1920 Theses on the role of the Communist Party in the proletarian revolution (Second Congress; Zinoviev’s draft), with the claim that the party as the advanced part has to represent the class, and its 1921 The organisational structure of the Communist Parties, the methods and content of their work (Third Congress; Kuusinen, Lenin, Koenen), which concretised the idea of the leadership as the most advanced part of the party, which ‘represents’ the whole against the backward ‘parts’.10

There are many good things in these sets of theses, but they both make a fundamental error. The party may be wrong - as against the working class masses, or even as against a particular group. The leadership may be wrong - as against the party ranks, or even as against a particular branch or fraction.

This error has been characterised by several authors, mainly but not exclusively coming from the Cliffite tradition, as ‘Zinovievism’, from Grigory Zinoviev’s role in introducing the Second Congress theses and, in the Fifth Comintern Congress and after, in ‘Bolshevisation’. Faulkner does it, without much development; Thomas agrees.

The background to the idea seems to be Alfred Rosmer’s writing,11 and more explicitly that of Max Shachtman, who wrote in 1953, against James P Cannon:

… Cannon was not only a product of the American working class (and in an even wider sense, of the American type of politics - that is, American bourgeois politics), but also a product of the Comintern of Zinoviev’s days. This eminent and tragic figure was not only a highly successful populariser of Lenin’s ideas, but also a highly successful distorter of them. He taught a whole generation of communists some of the fundamental ideas of modern Marxism, whose validity remains essentially intact today. But he also mistaught and ruined most of that generation - some only in part and others completely. More than any other individual, he poisoned the Comintern’s life with methods, procedures and party conceptions that contributed heavily to the eventual triumph of Stalinism.

What Cannon learned about Lenin’s conceptions of the role of the party, of the party cadre, of the party leadership, of party democracy, he learned not from Lenin, but, like virtually all the Communist Party leaders of his time, from Zinoviev: that is, from the ridiculous caricature of Lenin’s ideas and traditions that flowered in the disastrous days of Zinoviev’s ‘Bolshevisation’ campaign.12

This approach is very badly misleading.

In the first place, it is personality-cult reasoning: scapegoating Zinoviev for decisions to which, in fact, Lenin and Trotsky were unequivocally parties, in the hope of finding a ‘pure form’ of Leninism and, or, preserving ‘T is for Trotsky, the hero’. I have already referred to the Comintern theses of 1920 and 1921. In Russia the turn to military centralism started in March 1919 at the 8th party congress. In the resolution On the organisational question we find:

7. Centralism and discipline. The situation of the party is such that the strictest centralism and the most severe discipline are an absolute necessity. All decisions of higher echelons are absolutely binding for those below. Every resolution must first be carried out, and only then is it permissible to appeal the resolution to the appropriate party body. In this sense regular military discipline is necessary for the party in the present era. All party undertakings susceptible of centralisation (publishing, propaganda, etc) must be centralised for effectiveness.

All conflicts are resolved by the appropriate higher party echelon.13

Corresponding with this turn, the party rules adopted by the 8th party conference in December 1919 abolished the right of local and sectoral organisations to publish their own literature, which had been in the August 1917 rules.14

Secondly, the ‘scapegoat Zinoviev’ approach leaves out the reasons for the decisions taken (even if those decisions can be seen in retrospect to have been mistaken).

The original idea that the class has to be ‘represented’ by its advanced part, the party, flowed from the Bolsheviks’ loss of majority support in spring 1918 as a result of the peace of Brest-Litovsk - and as a result, their rigging of soviet elections at the same period, and then the turn of the Left Socialist Revolutionaries to terrorism against the Bolshevik regime, and the Bolshevik response of Red Terror.15 They now had to justify what had become a dictatorship over the proletariat.

The drive for ‘military’ discipline in the party flowed from the problem of military insubordination by local leaderships, notably in the Tsaritsyn affair in autumn 1918, and the political struggle round the ‘military opposition’ at the Eighth Congress of the party in March 1919.16

The decision to ban factions, as is well known, was part of the turn to the New Economic Policy in 1921: the expectation was that economic liberalisation would strengthen the hand of small capital, which would naturally find political expression; in the circumstances, if the proletariat - a small minority in Russia - was to hang on to political power until the expected revolution in the west caught up, opposition parties had to be more systematically banned, as did factions within the Communist Party.

Meanwhile, in the west, the social democratic parties, and the ‘centrists’ like the German Independent Social Democratic Party (USPD) had failed to create workers’ power; and had failed at least in part because they baulked at the necessity of civil war (that necessary was to come back to them all the same, in the form of one-sided capitalist-initiated civil war, in Italy in 1920-22, in Germany and Austria in 1933-34, in Spain in 1936, in most of the rest of Europe in 1939). It was then natural for the Russians and their co-thinkers to imagine that the solution was to remake the western communist parties along the lines of the Bolshevism adapted in 1919 to civil war.

With the benefit of hindsight, all of these decisions were mistakes. They were mistakes made under conditions of war, counterrevolutionary foreign intervention and civil war - and in an overwhelmingly peasant-majority country.

But the Bolsheviks would not have had these problems if they had adopted these organisational methods, and thereby adapted their party to the needs of civil war in a peasant-majority country, before they obtained political power. In that case they could not have built a serious workers’ party in the first place, or obtained political power in October 1917.


The second thread of the ideology is from 1960s-70s radicals’ readings of Lenin’s 1902 What is to be done? Lars T Lih has written at great length in his attempt to dispel the standard readings of this book and its relationship to the 1903 split in the RSDLP.17 But what we are concerned with here is later radicals’ reading of the book out of context. And here the core was the idea of ‘professional revolutionaries’ - understood not as meaning ‘revolutionaries who are skilled at the work’ (as Lih reads Lenin’s argument), but as ‘full-timers’.

There is a link here to the idea of ‘cadre’ - originally a military term. The cadre of an army or particular military unit consists of the officers, specialists and instructors, who train up the incoming short-service conscripts. The expression was in communist use by 1930 at the latest - presumably having spread from the Red Army to the cadres (specifically trained and specialist industrial workers, villager leaders, and so on).18 They were still not full-timers, though, and way below the ‘top leadership’ level.

It is James P Cannon who seems to have been responsible for the idea that the ‘cadre’ of the organisation meant its full-timers. Already in 1931 Cannon wrote that the Communist League of America’s conference should

begin the actual formation of a cadre of professional revolutionists, who put themselves entirely at the disposal of the organisation. Select a group out of the younger and foot-loose elements, and train them deliberately for full-time professional work.19

I guess that this peculiarity reflects Cannon’s pre-Communist Party background as an itinerant organiser for the Industrial Workers of the World - which he himself later saw as a proto-party formation, but which operated through itinerant organisers, with a very low stability of the rank-and-file membership.20

Cannon was not himself fully consistent in using this concept in this way. He did, however, use it to justify the split of 1953, which reverberated down the subsequent history of Trotskyism. It also fitted in with the enthusiasm of late 1960s-early 1970s radicals - not just Trotskyists - for What is to be done?, the myth of 1903 and the image of the ‘professional revolutionary’ as a sort of virtuous outlaw.21 The image provides ideological support for the ‘party dominated by full-timers’ and the duty of hyper-activism within the ranks.


Neil Faulkner’s objections to this regime are curiously narrow. It is that “The concept has no real meaning outside the framework of some sort of coercive apparatus.” Majority decision-making, he argues, is just democracy: “Except that people imagine that something more is implied by democratic centralism: namely, that all members are expected to carry out the policy, regardless of whether or not they agree with it.”

But, he argues, there are actually no sanctions in practice for not carrying out the decision: “Does anyone actually get expelled for voting against and then not turning up? And how is this any different from what happens in a reformist, liberal or conservative organisation?”

The short answer to this claim is that in the German origins of ‘democratic centralism’ the point is to reject the claims of the ‘revisionist’ right wing Social Democrat Reichstag deputies (MPs) that their mandate from the silent-majority electors of their constituency justifies their voting for arms budgets and not being deselected; and of the revisionist Social Democrat majority in Berlin that the party paper Vorwärts was their local paper and the national party majority was not entitled to reorganise the editorial board of the paper to remove the revisionist majority.22

The conceptual background was, as I pointed out in my first article in this series,23 the case for centralism against federalism made by the Communist League and other radicals in 1848-52, and the use of federalism in the Second Reich to secure the interests of the landlord class.

This stuff is not old, dead history, but live, present politics: the federalism of the European Union as a block on anything other than neoliberal/ordo-liberal policies; the federalism of the USA as the constitutional basis on which Donald Trump was elected; the federalism of the Labour Party and the British trade union movement as a structural defence of the trade union and Labour Party bureaucracy against ‘outside’ critics; on a much smaller scale, the federalism of the Committee for a Workers’ International as a similar protection for the Peter Taaffe-Hannah Sell regime in London. The claim to represent the silent voters against the unrepresentative activists, so as not to be bound by conference decisions, is the routine practice of pro-capitalist professional politicians.

Faulkner then leaps to “what, in practice, is the meaning of democratic centralism”. He claims: “It comes down to this. Power is concentrated disproportionately and inappropriately in the hands of a (largely) self-perpetuating leadership, or even in the hands of a single guru figure.”

From here he jumps briefly into the valueless psycho-babble explanation of sects, elaborated later in the article (which I gave reasons to discount last week). He goes on:

But they are not revolutionary-socialist parties, for these must be rooted in the vanguards of the working class and the oppressed, and therefore in the living experience of mass struggle; and this, in any remotely healthy organisation, can be guaranteed to generate a ferment of debate.

“Remotely healthy” is a get-out clause: mass socialist and communist parties, and trade unions, may have violently bureaucratic regimes. A “ferment of debate” can, on the other hand, be found in the British Conservative party at any time in its 20th century history.

He continues:

The world cannot be understood by reference to a father-figure, a sacred text, a party programme or an eternal dogma. It can only be understood through a living process of analysis that is (a) collective and (b) ongoing - collective because the revolutionaries must pool their experiences and impressions if they are to make sound generalisations, and ongoing because everything is in motion, ever-changing, never ‘fixed and fast-frozen’.

“A party programme” is merely thrown in here as part of Faulkner’s general argument against programmes, without real relevance. “A sacred text” and “an eternal dogma” are merely part of the same spin. A programme is not a way of understanding the world, but a platform: of ways the supporters of the party aim through their collective action to change it, where Faulkner’s complaint is that it is not a way to interpret the world. “Philosophers have hitherto only interpreted the world in various ways; the point is to change it.”24

“Father-figure” is part of the psycho-babble. The actual materialist basis of the problem is that the turf defence of the monopoly control of information in the individual interests of full-time bureaucrats (or their intelligentsia substitutes), as against the ‘civil society’ of the ranks, demands the ‘single person’ as the final authority to settle the bureaucrats’ turf wars among themselves. The top-down appointed party or union bureaucrats are a species of petty-proprietor. Constantly having to struggle to hold themselves above their subordinates, isolated in their local, regional or sectoral/office domains, they are a species which has less collective life, more agonistic competition among themselves, than urban petty-proprietor artisans. Hence, they are driven just as much as peasants to seek a man on horseback, a representative who “must at the same time appear as their master, as an authority over them, an unlimited governmental power which protects them from the other classes and sends them rain and sunshine from above”.25

It can thus be seen that Faulkner cannot account for the problem of the ‘self-perpetuating’ leadership, which is as much a problem in mass ‘official communist’ parties, trade unions and the Labour left as in small groups. Equally, the cult of the personality of Lenin grew up in the mass CPSU and is merely imitated by the cults of the personalities of Healy, Cliff and so on.

Finally, Faulkner throws in a casual claim about coercion:

It is not the party, but the working class and the oppressed in struggle who sometimes have recourse to ‘democratic’ coercive force. There are many examples. Scabs may be physically prevented from crossing picket-lines during strikes …

Democratic coercion, then, is a weapon in the struggle between classes, between oppressor and oppressed, not something to be deployed against dissidents inside the working class movement (the correct term for which is perhaps ‘Stalinism’ rather than ‘democratic centralism’).

This is, of course, Kautsky’s and others’ argument against the Bolsheviks’ October 1917 ‘use of force against a socialist government’. And it is the Blairites’ claim that they were ‘intimidated’ and ‘bullied’ by Corbynites finally rising up against their tyranny over the Labour Party.

Imagine for a moment a communist or ‘revolutionary’ party on the scale of the old German SPD or the Italian Communist Party at its height (which is the sort of scale of party we would need for a workers’ revolution). There is not the slightest doubt that capitalists and the capitalist state would seek to buy or win over leading officials and elected representatives of such a party. Would it not be legitimate for the party ranks to demand of these officials that they stand down, and threaten them with force if they refuse to do so?

It is again unlikely that comrade Faulkner actually means what he says here. It is also totally unclear what it is addressed to. Have the SWP, or Counterfire, leaderships been using physical force to maintain control (as the Healy leadership certainly did)?

Faulkner does not offer objections to the ban on factions, or on “permanent factions”, which means the same thing; or to the centralised party control of publications and information. His solution to the problem of sectarian divisions on the left is the same as the Mandelites have been arguing in this country since the late 1970s: separation from the “mass movement” produces sectarianism, engagement in the “mass movement” and “learning from” it will overcome the problem.

This approach has produced a remarkable record of Mandelites playing the role of left flank-guard for bureaucratic ‘lefts’, right down to the point at which the relationship collapses: Democracia Socialista in the Brazilian Workers’ Party, Sinistra Critica in Rifondazione Comunista in Italy …26 and in this country the Fourth International Supporters Caucus in Arthur Scargill’s Socialist Labour Party; Socialist Action in Ken Livingstone’s London mayor’s office and hence in the London European Social Forum; Socialist Resistance in various initiatives. These tactics actually require self-censorship; and consequently, apparatus censorship of the press, which produces the same results as the more obviously top-down bureaucratic groups.

What Faulkner has offered us to argue against democratic centralism is thus badly muddled history and theoretical overkill.


  1. Time to Mutiny August 1: timetomutiny.org/post/the-marxist-theory-of-the-revolutionary-party; August 7: timetomutiny.org/post/lenin-and-the-bolsheviks; August 11:P timetomutiny.org/post/3-trotsky-s-theory-of-the-party.↩︎

  2. For Proudhon’s federalism see my review of Ian McKay’s 2011 Property is theft! A Pierre-Joseph Proudhon anthology in ‘No guide to revolution’ Weekly Worker July 19 2012. For Bakunin’s federalism, see marxists.org/reference/archive/bakunin/works/various/reasons-of-state.htm (1867); and in relation to the workers’ movement, M Enckel, ‘Bakunin and the Jura Federation’ in F Bensimon, Q Deluermoz, J Moisand (eds) ‘Arise ye wretched of the Earth’: the First International in a global perspective Leiden 2018, chapter 23, pp362-63.↩︎

  3. An odd end date. Zinoviev was chair of Comintern between March 1919 and November 1926. The arguments Faulkner is using (indirectly) to blame Zinoviev for ‘democratic-centralism’ and ‘Bolshevisation’ rely on Zinoviev’s conduct of Comintern mainly after Lenin’s disabling illness and death: ie, in 1923-26.↩︎

  4. I will deal with Martin Thomas’s side of the argument next week.↩︎

  5. See more in my ‘Full-timers and “cadre” ‘Weekly Worker April 25 2019. Also (on the Counterfire split from SWP) ‘Bureaucratic centralism and ineffectiveness’ Weekly Worker February 25 2010.↩︎

  6. There is an outline in D Priestland Stalinism and the politics of mobilisation Oxford 2010, pp107-10. Noa Rodman has translated some Decist material: links at leftcom.org/en/forum/2011-12-14/decists-russian-communist-left.↩︎

  7. LT Lih, ‘Fortunes of a formula’ Weekly Worker April 11 2013; ‘Further fortunes of a formula’ Weekly Worker July 25 2013. See also my own ‘Reclaiming democratic centralism’ Weekly Worker May 23 2019.↩︎

  8. The resolutions are quoted in ‘Reclaiming democratic centralism’ (note 6) from R Carter Elwood (ed) Resolutions and decisions of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union 1898-1917 Toronto 1974, pp83, 87, 94; I was led to Carter Elwood by P LeBlanc Lenin and the revolutionary party New Jersey 1990, pp128-29.↩︎

  9. C Elwood op cit pp251-52.↩︎

  10. Both available at marxists.org/history/international/comintern/index.htm. The discussions in J Riddell (ed) Workers of the world and oppressed peoples, unite! (second congress) New York 1991, Vol 1, pp185-260, and J Riddell (ed) To the masses (third congress) Chicago 2015, pp809-34, 874-83, add little to the text of the theses. On the authorship see Lenin’s notes at pp1101-04.↩︎

  11. A Rosmer (and others) Trotsky and the origins of Trotskyism London 2002. Given that Rosmer was politically active down to his death and shared, broadly, Shachtman’s hostility to the ‘orthodox Trotskyists’, Rosmer’s account has to be seen, in spite of his eyewitness status, as just as much a retrospective assessment as Shachtman’s.↩︎

  12. ‘Twenty-five years of American Trotskyism’: marxists.org/archive/shachtma/1953/11/25years.html.↩︎

  13. R Gregor (ed) Resolutions and decisions of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union 1917-1929 Toronto 1974, p86.↩︎

  14. R Gregor op cit p91 (no11). And going back to the 1906 Unification.↩︎

  15. This can be found at various points in A Rabinowitch The Bolsheviks in power Indiana 2008.↩︎

  16. There is a convenient discussion in G Lonergan, ‘Where was the conscience of the revolution? The military opposition at the Eighth Party Congress (March 1919)’ Slavic Review No74, pp832-49 (2015).↩︎

  17. LT Lih Lenin rediscovered Leiden 2006.↩︎

  18. Oxford English Dictionary ‘cadre (n)’, numbers 2 and 3.↩︎

  19. marxists.org/archive/cannon/works/1931/sep/discussion02.htm.↩︎

  20. marxists.org/archive/cannon/works/1955/iww.htm.↩︎

  21. But it was not just Trotskyists: compare M Elbaum Revolution in the air for the US Maoists of the same period.↩︎

  22. See Ben Lewis’s translation of Karl Kautsky’s ‘Constituency and party’ with an introduction by myself and references to related debates in ‘Origins of democratic centralism’ Weekly Worker November 5 2015.↩︎

  23. ‘High politics and the working class’, October‑1.↩︎

  24. K Marx Theses on Feuerbach [1845] No11: marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1845/theses/index.htm.↩︎

  25. K Marx The 18th Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte [1852] chapter 7: marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1852/18th-brumaire/ch07.htm. Compare also Marx’s critique of Hegel on the state bureaucracy in the Critique of Hegel’s philosophy of right: marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1843/critique-hpr/ch03.htm.↩︎

  26. More in my two-part review of New parties of the left: experiences from Europe: ‘The Fourth International and failed perspectives’ Weekly Worker June 4 2012, and ‘Strategy and freedom of criticism’ June 13 2012.↩︎