A Note on Democratic Centralism

Commentators, both Marxist and anti-Marxist, often mischaracterize democratic centralism as a necessary evil, an expedient that contradicts the liberatory thrust of socialist struggle. James P. Cannon, the remarkably gifted pioneer of American Trotskyism, said of it: “Democratic-centralism has no special virtue per se. It is the specific principle of a combat party, united by a single program, which aims to lead a revolution. Social Democrats have no need of such a system of organization for the simple reason that they have no intention of organizing a revolution. Their democracy and centralism are not united by a hyphen but kept in…
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