Strategy I: Proletarian Majority Revolution

  • Richard N. Hunt


We have observed how Marx and Engels, in their initial communist writings, envisaged the attainment of communism by means of a spontaneous revolution, carried out by the masses themselves as the result of their own self-maturation, without any need for elite assistance or totalitarian-democratic devices. Of course, it would be rash and unhistorical to assume that this pristine early vision remained absolutely unchanged during the rest of their long and eventful lives. Between 1845 and 1850, as Marx and Engels gained more experience with the diversity of radical strategies and as they were caught up in the revolutionary events and disappointments of that period, their own ideas on revolutionary strategy also developed. The simplicity of their early vision gave way to a more differentiated strategy, or set of strategies, which incorporated a number of new ingredients. Among these new ingredients were four that have about them an odor of totalitarianism, to wit: (1) the creation of the Communist League, which bore the earmarks of a classic vanguard party; (2) a policy of “permanent revolution” for less-developed countries that seemingly would eventuate in minority rule; (3) repeated calls for red terror against the enemies of the revolution; and finally in 1850 (4) an official united front with the Blanquists together with an open demand for a dictatorship of the proletariat.


Select Work Mass Support Universal Suffrage Emergency Exit Communist Manifesto 
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  1. 1.
    Stanley Moore, Three Tactics: The Background in Marx (New York: Monthly Review, 1963), p. 22; see other authorities cited above, chap. 1, n. 35.Google Scholar
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    Werner Blumenberg, “Zur Geschichte des Bundes der Kommunisten: Die Aussagen des Peter Gerhardt Wiser,” International Review of Social History 9 (1964): 89.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

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© University of Pittsburgh Press 1974

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  • Richard N. Hunt

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