Leninism and ^Western Marxism9:
A Critique of Perry Andersen
PERRY ANDERSEN'S Considerations on Western Marxism is deceptively simple. Andersen, it would appear, is doing no more than situating "a certain body of theoretical work historically...to suggest the structural co-ordinates which define its unity... as a common intellectual tradition...for this alone will enable us to see the specific novelty".1 The result of this enterprise is the identification of "Western Marxism" as a tradition extending from 1924 to 1968 (the significance of these dates will emerge).
The initial apprehension arises at this point. For, Andersen, in claiming a tradition of Marxism, Western or otherwise, in this period appears to have "overlooked" the immense contribution of Lenin. The significance of Lenin's strategic and tactical writings for the struggle of the working class has been recognized by proletarian parties and movements the world over. Hence the ideology of the revolutionary proletariat is termed Marxism-Leninism. "Leninism is Marxism of the era of imperialism and the proletarian revolution. To be more exact, Leninism is the theory and tactics of the proletarian revolution in general, the theory and tactics of the dictatorship of the proletariat in particular".2 This simple truth has evaded Andersen in his search for a "Western" Marxism.
Has Andersen done no more than "overlook" Leninism? Lenin is quoted often enough in the text, although we are told that Lenin's theoretical work suffered from the backwardness of the "real material conditions of an intellectual discovery".3 Noting the use of the term "Leninism" after the success of the revolution in Russia, Andersen is quick to add that even here "the rapid development of Marxist theory was by no means confined to Lenin's own work" and goes on to mention Trotsky, Bukharin and
^Lectures on philosophy at Delhi College, University of Delhi.