Social Scientist. v 3, no. 26 (Sept 1974) p. 35.

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Democracy versus Totalitarianism

THE "totalitarian" label is the logical extension of the accusation of voluntarism, which critics fondly attach to Lenin's theory of revolution. Being the direct opposite of democracy, totalitarianism means the concentration of absolute power in the hands of a tiny band of people who rule in a despotic fashion. The bourgeois ideologists speak of communism and totalitarianism in the same breath on the grounds that communists advocate the dictatorship of proletariat. The bogey of totalitarianism is dragged out to indicate the apparent incompatibility of socialism and democracy.

Knowing full well that Marxism incorporated the best democratic ideals of the past and gave them a rational basis, the detractors set out to show that Lenin's ideas are at odds with Marxism on this particular point. Rane Ahlbcrg writes that "Lenin definitely deviated from the democratic interpretation of Marxism.551 And Sidney Hook's view is that "the conception of the dictatorship of the Party over the proletariat...makes an absolute break with all the democratic traditions of Marxism.552 Attempts to show that the idea of the dictatorship of the proletariat is alien to the thinking of Marx and Engels simply do not stand up to examination. Lenin wrote The State and Revolution after a careful study of the many writings of Marx and fingels on the subject and demonstrated that the dictatorship principle had been one of Marxism's salient ideas

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