Love Me, Love Me, Love Me, I’m a Leninist

Corey Robin, May 19

Now that they’ve discovered the notion that a political party, faced with a dangerous political enemy, should suppress all internal criticism of its putative leader lest she be “harmed” by that criticism, and that the party should refrain from fractious internal debates lest it be ill-equipped to defeat the enemy, I wonder if liberals are rethinking their views on Lenin.

The principle of democratic centralism and autonomy for local Party organisations implies universal and full freedom to criticise, so long as this does not disturb the unity of a definite action; it rules out all criticism which disrupts or makes difficult the unity of an action decided on by the Party.

Actually, by the standards of today’s liberal, Lenin’s strictures come off as relatively benign. He at least called for “universal and full freedom to criticise” the party unless and until that criticism threatened “the unity of an action decided on by the Party.” Whereas the Democrats haven’t even yet decided on Clinton, and we’re already being told that any criticism of her in anticipation of that decision will threaten the party’s ability to act upon that decision once it is made.

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