Convention Discussion: Is Marxism-Leninism necessary?

BY: Erwin Marquit| May 2, 2014

Submitted by Erwin Marquit of the Minnesota/Dakotas District of the Communist Party.

Essential to any discussion about dropping the term Marxism-Leninism is a clear understanding of what the term entails. The best summation of its essence is the “Ten Theses of Marxist-Leninist Theory” written by the late German Communist philosopher, Hans Heinz in his book, Downfall and Future of socialism (Minneapolis: MEP Publications, [1992], 32-37 (PDF download). The test of a party being a Communist Party is not in its name, but in whether its ideology is based on what Holz has laid out in his theses. A statement that the ideology of the Party is based on the ideas or intellectual heritage of Marx, Engels, and Lenin has enabled the German Communist Party to make clear its ideological orientation when it was banned from identifying itself as Marxist-Leninist in its foundational documents.

I do not think we need to drop the term from our constitution, but just not use it in our activities where its meaning would not be understood without Holz’s extensive expansion. It is necessary, however, that new members acquaint themselves with what Marxism-Leninism means. I do not imagine anyone going into our constitution before joining the Party and being turned off upon encountering the term. In fact, the term should be included in the constitution with a brief explanation that the inclusion of Lenin reflects our understanding that the a Party based in the working class is necessary to develop the class consciousness necessary for a transition to socialism. Indeed, ignoring Lenin is the principle difference between us and those to right of us that characterize themselves as Marxist or socialist.

After the convention in 1991 a large group of Party leaders and activists left the Party to form what is now called the Committees of Correspondence for Democracy and Socialism, abandoning the terms Communism, and Marxism-Leninism, including democratic centralism. Its positions on domestic and foreign issues are similar to ours. It has shown no sign of growth in the twenty-two years since its formation. Our international identity with the world Communist movement is the principle ideological difference. We are stronger than they because they started with less members and other material resources as well as our international identity. Why should we expect that changes in name and dissociation with Leninism in our constitution bring about different results?

The views and opinions expressed in the Convention Discussion are those of the author alone. The Communist Party is publishing these views as a service to encourage discussion and debate. Those views do not necessarily reflect the views of the Communist Party, its leading bodies or staff members. The CPUSA Constitution, Program, and all its existing policies remain in effect during the Convention discussion period and during the Convention.

For details about the convention, visit the Convention homepage
To contribute to the discussion, visit the Convention Discussion webpage

30th National Convention, Communist Party USA
Chicago | June 13-15, 2014



    Erwin Marquit, professor emeritus of physics at the University of Minnesota, continues to teach a course on Marxist studies. Erwin writes on theory and practice of socialism and on dialectical materialist philosophy of science. He is the associate editor of Marxist Educational Press.

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