Book review: Unfinished Leninism

Paul Le Blanc and Leninism

By: Barry Weisleder

Accomplished historian and former SWP and SA-member Paul Le Blanc sets out in his “Unfinished Leninism” to defend the ideas of the great Russian revolutionist from the distortions and depredations of Lars Lihn, Pham Binh, Charles Post, and others. Le Blanc mostly succeeds. His book is an anthology of twelve essays he authored between 2007 and 2013. Taking up debates on the Marxist left, he ably summarizes the views of V.I. Lenin on revolutionary strategy and organization.

The Leninist party is indispensable, but according to Le Blanc, the workers’ movement is not ready; it is only at a pre-First International stage of consciousness. Members of many existing socialist tendencies will someday come together to build the needed party. Le Blanc, when he joined the International Socialist Organization, hoped it would be one of them — until it exploded as a result of sectarian abstention from struggle, including the anti-war movement. Incidentally, the demise of the ISO was triggered by a sex scandal. Lesson: Ignore policy and practice at one’s peril. If “Unfinished Leninism” means anything, it means that in this late phase of imperialist decay, more urgent than ever is the actual construction of Leninist parties with a principled praxis in the working class. Strive for the convergence of far-flung revolutionists, yes indeed. But don’t expect it to occur spontaneously, or without the exercise of sharp polemics. Lenin proved that over a century ago.leninismunfinished