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Marxism-Leninism

From Academic Kids

Template:Communism Marxism-Leninism, strictly speaking, refers to the version of Marxist theory developed by Vladimir Lenin; see Leninism.

However, in historical contexts, different (and sometimes opposing) political groups have used the term "Marxism-Leninism" to describe the ideologies that they claimed to be upholding. Most of these groups can be classified under the following three categories:

  1. The supporters of Leon Trotsky and other communists who opposed Stalin's Soviet Union and the other states that emulated it; see Trotskyism.
  2. The advocates of Joseph Stalin's Soviet Union and Mao Tse-tung's China, usually known as anti-revisionists; see Stalinism and Maoism.
  3. Several groups of reformist Communists (such as, for example, the supporters of Nikita Khrushchev's reforms in the Soviet Union after Stalin's death).

History of the term

Lenin himself never used the term "Leninism", nor did he refer to his views as "Marxism-Leninism". However, his ideas clearly diverged from classical Marxist theory on several important points (see the articles on Marxism and Leninism for more information), so it quickly became evident that some new name was required to describe these ideas. After Lenin's death, it was decided to call them Marxism-Leninism, or sometimes only Leninism. Marxism-Leninism soon became the official name for the ideology of the Comintern and of communist parties around the world.

Within 5 years of Lenin's death, Joseph Stalin completed his rise to power in the Soviet Union. Stalin, in contrast to many contemporary revolutionaries, did not write a significant body of theoretical work. "Stalinism", strictly speaking, refers to a style of government or political practice in general, rather than an ideology per se; during the period of Stalin's rule in the Soviet Union, Marxism-Leninism was proclaimed the official ideology of the state. Whether Stalinist practices actually followed the principles of Marxism-Leninism is still a subject of debate among historians and political scientists. Trotskyists clearly believe that Stalinism contradicted Marxism-Leninism, which is why they reserve the term "Marxism-Leninism" to describe their own brand of anti-Stalinist and anti-Maoist communism.

After the Sino-Soviet split, the Soviet Union and China each claimed to be the sole intellectual heir of Marxism-Leninism. In China, as time went on, the claim that Mao had "adapted Marxism-Leninism to Chinese conditions" evolved into the idea that he had updated it in a fundamental way applying to the world as a whole; consequently, the term "Marxism-Leninism-Mao Tse Tung Thought" was increasingly used to describe the official Chinese state ideology, more commonly known (along with its offshoots) as Maoism. American Maoists associated with the Revolutionary Communist Party (USA) subsequently coined the term Marxism-Leninism-Maoism to refer to what they saw as the tradition of revolutionary thought abandoned by Mao's successors in China and carried on by committed revolutionaries such as themselves.

In North Korea, Marxism-Leninism was officially superseded in 1977 by Juche, in which concepts of class and class struggle, in other words Marxism itself, play no significant role. However, despite this official repudiation of Marxism many commentators still refer to the North Korean regime as "Marxist" or "Marxist-Leninist".

Current usage

Most communist parties continue to regard Marxism-Leninism as their basic ideology, although many have modified it to adapt to new political conditions. Several communist parties, especially those previously associated with Eurocommunism, have distanced themselves from the concept of 'Marxism-Leninism' and in many cases omitted it from their official documents. Some have started identifying themselves as 'Marxist, Leninist' or 'Marxist and Leninist' rather than 'Marxist-Leninist'. The difference in such cases is that the historical connotation of 'Marxism-Leninism' is avoided.

In party names, the appellation 'Marxist-Leninist' is normally used by a communist party who wishes to distinguish itself from some other (and presumably 'mainstream') communist party in the same country. Most often, parties who place the term 'Marxist-Leninist' in their official name are those originating from the anti-revisionist tradition, such as Maoist groups.

Popular confusion abounds concerning the complex terminology describing the various schools of Marxist-derived thought. The appellation 'Marxist-Leninist' is often used by those not familiar with communist ideology in any detail (e.g. many newspapers and other media) as a synonym for any kind of Marxism.es:Marxismo-Leninismo zh:马列主义 zh-min-nan:Marx-Lenin-ch-gī

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