Blanquism

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Blanquism

 

a political trend connected with the name of L. A. Blanqui; in the widest use of the term, it refers to the views of the protagonist of conspiratorial tactics in the revolutionary struggle, referring back to the tactical principles of Blanqui and the Blanquists. The tactics of the Blanquists and the organizational forms of the movement they proposed had a sectarian character. They believed in the need for creating a restricted, secret, and hierarchical organization whose task would be to overthrow the existing regime through a surprise armed uprising. The Blanquists renounced propaganda among the broad masses so as not to jeopardize the clandestine organization, ignored objective conditions, and did not consider whether a revolutionary situation existed. Instead they placed their main hope on surprise in striking the blow and the unpreparedness of the government for striking back. The attempts of tactically implementing the Blanquist doctrines (uprisings of May 12, 1839, and of Aug. 14, 1870, in Paris and elsewhere) ended in complete failures. Therefore the Blanquists often were compelled to act contrary to their theory (especially during the Paris Commune of 1871).

With the development of the mass proletarian movement and the setting up of Marxist socialist parties, the Blanquist tactic (which arose at a time when the embryonic mass proletarian movement had not yet separated itself from the bourgeois-democratic movement) gradually outlived itself. However this tactic was often taken up by many non-proletarian social movements (for instance, in Russia in the second half of the 1870’s to the early 1880’s, P. N. Tkachev, one of the ideologists of revolutionary Narodnichestvo (Populism), was a convinced protagonist of this tactic). The Blanquist tactic is also taken up by some representatives of different social strata that are drawn into the revolutionary struggle as the revolutionary movement widens (for instance, some strata of the toiling masses in Latin America, Asia, students in many countries, and others).

Marxism-Leninism distinguishes between the historically progressive and revolutionary aspects of Blanquism as a social current of the 1830’s to the 1860’s and its narrowly sectarian and conspiratorial doctrines, which were more and more at odds with the real demands of the workers’ movement as it developed. V. I. Lenin, who highly valued the personal revolutionary traits of Blanqui and many of his comrades-in-arms, criticized the Blanquist dogmas and decisively refuted the slanderous attempts of the enemies of the Bolshevik Party to equate its tactics with Blanquism. On the eve of the Great October Socialist Revolution, Lenin wrote: “To be successful, insurrection must rely not upon conspiracy and not upon a party, but upon the advanced class. This is the first point. Insurrection must rely upon a revolutionary upsurge of the people. That is the second point. Insurrection must rely upon that turning-point in the history of the growing revolution when the activity of the advanced ranks of the people is at its height, and when the vacillations in the ranks of the enemy and in the ranks of the weak, half-hearted, and irresolute friends of the revolution are strongest. That is the third point. And these three conditions for raising the question of insurrection distinguish Marxism from Blanquism” (Complete Collected Works, 5th ed., vol. 34, pp. 242–43). The attempt of present-day ultraleftist ideologists to revive the adventurous elements of Blanquism and act in conformity with its spirit causes serious damage to the revolutionary movement.

REFERENCES

Engels, F. “Emigrantskaia literatura.” K. Marx and F. Engels, Soch., 2nd ed., vol. 18.
Lenin, V. I. “O sotsial’noi strukture vlasti, perspektivakh i likvidatorstve.” Poln. sobr. soch., 5th ed., vol. 20.
Lenin, V. I. “Marksizm i vosstanie.” Ibid., vol. 34.
Da Costa, C. Les Blanquistes. Paris, 1912.
Spitzer, A. The Revolutionary Theories of L. Aug. Blanqui. New York, 1957.

V. M. DALIN and IA. I. DRAZNINAS