Class Politics and the State: Lenin and the Contradictions of Socialism

Science and Society 59 (3):437 - 463 (1995)
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Abstract

The decay of the contemporary left can be measured in its abandonment of its traditional orientation toward the state and its related embrace of the "politics of identity." The resulting inability to chart an independent political course flows from its refusal to take account of the history of the socialist movement. Lenin's theoretical and practical work was driven as much by the legacy he inherited from Marx and Engels as by the specifics of the Russian Revolution, and the leading role of politics resulted from the unavoidable contradictions of the socialist project as such. Two antagonistic social formations coexisted for some time after the October "victory," and the requirements of socialist construction shaped the Leninist theory of the state. While some of its particulars resulted from the specifics of the Russian Revolution, others are of a general-theoretical character and can be ignored only at the price of continued irrelevance.

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