vanguard party


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vanguard party

(MARXISM) a form of revolutionary POLITICAL PARTY aimed at providing leadership of the working class, and overthrow of the RULING CLASS. The conception was formulated by LENIN in his famous work What is to be Done? (1902), in which he dealt with the specific problems of party-building in Tsarist Russia, a political system which operated as a police state. In these circumstances, Lenin outlined the necessity for a strongly centralized and disciplined party organization, with full-time members, to provide the practical and theoretical training of revolutionaries, since he had no confidence that revolutionary consciousness would develop spontaneously Without the creation of a vanguard, working-class consciousness would fail to advance beyond a limited TRADE-UNION CONSCIOUSNESS Lenin has been criticized for setting aside questions of democratic accountability, and as paving the way for STALINISM. Harding (1977), however, stresses the importance of seeing Lenin's ideas in their historical context rather than as reflecting a principled opposition to democracy in all circumstances.