Advanced Basic Course in Marxist-Leninist Politics

Theoretical Practice Editorial Board


Date: 1971


This programme is based upon twelve fundamental aspects of Marxist theory and practice. The readings given have been, selected as the best and most accessible Sources in the particular questions. No attempt has been made to "cover" the various Marxist- Leninist writers rather we have sought to present those works that "cover" the p particular problems. It is therefore not surprising that Marx and Engel's writings are seldom cited, since their work preceded the decisive era of Marxist-Leninist political struggle ( the era of Imperialism) therefore the key writers of that era, Lenin and Mao and their advances in theory and practice, their developments of Marxism, who are given prominence. Texts have therefore been included on the basis that they either represent valuable summaries of more scattered: works of Marxism Leninism or develop important aspects of Marxist-Leninist theory.

It will be noted that the same works have frequently been cited in different sections: here possible the relevant section of the work cited has been it is often the case that the work as a whole must be read to situate a particular point. In this case the work should be read in toto in each of the particular sections. This may seem laborious but it does have a distinct advantage: it encourages people to read texts with determinate problems in view, with a distinct objective, rather than to approach the text as and seek to tease out of it an essential "message".

In the study programme the content of a work or the reasons for citing is are rot always given. They are given in three cases:

  1. when the work does not, on superficial inspection, seem to deal with the problem: considered
  2. when the work considered is difficult, e.g. "The Critique of the Gotha Programme"
  3. When the work cited is in several sections.

The programme has bee: constructed on a dual basis:

  1. in each section a programme of basic reading for these sessions of one week each is given,
  2. certain sections of particular contemporary relevance, e.g. the party, have been broken down into more detailed sections to permit more intensive study

The total standard programme takes 36 weeks. However, depending on the character of the particular group, its interests and the time available this can either be lengthened by the detailed study of particular sections or more detailed follow-up work can be continued after the basic programme is completed

Advanced Basic Study Programme

I: The Party

II: Relation between Levels of Struggle

III: Parliamentary and Extra-Parliamentary Struggle IV: Deviations

V: The State and it's Forms

VI: Insurrection

VII: The Dictatorship of tae Proletariat

VIII: Political and Economic Tasks in the Construction of Socialism

IX: Cultural al Revolution and the Mass Line

X: Imperialism

XI: Proletarian Internationalism

XII People's War

Advanced Basic Reading List

(works NOT available in the current one-volume Selected Works of Marx and Engel's (Lawrence and Wishart 1968), three-volume Selected Works of Lenin (Progress Publishers, Moscow 1967) and the four-volume Selected of Mao Tse-Tung: Foreign Languages Press Peking 1967) are- signalled thus $ \rightarrow $The Stalin section: are to be found in Problems of Leninism (F.L.P.H. Moscow,1947).

The Party

Basic Reading


  1. Lenin is to be Done?"
  2. Lenin: "Left-Wing Communism an Infantile Disorder" Sections 1 and 10. 1
  3. Stalin: "On the Problems of Leninism" Section 5

Stalin: "The Foundations of' Leninism'' Section 8,

Advanced Basic Reading by Subtopics

  1. The Necessity of Party Organization and its Tasks

Lenin: "What is to be Done'?" Sections 3e 4 and 5. These Sections deal with the Party's role of leadership and the necessity of an efficient national organization

2.       Party Organization and Democratic Centralism:

Lenin:"One Step Forward, Two Steps Back"

3.       The Task of the Party in tae Period of Dual Power and Insurrection (see also the Section VI on Insurrection)

Lenin: "On Slogans" This indicates the Party's role in leading and developing the mass struggle and the relation between theoretical analysis Of' the political conjuncture and political programmes.

Lenin: "On Compromises"

Lenin: "The crisis has Matured (optional)

Lenin: "Marxism and Insurrection" The role of the Party in leading and organizing the seizure of power.

Stalin:"The October Revolution and the Tactics of the Russian Communists" Section 3.

4.       The Task of the- Party in the Dictatorship of the Proletariat and in the construction of Socialism:

Lenin: "can the Bolsheviks Retain State Power?" Lenin: "Once More on the Trade Unions..." Stalin: "On the Problems of Leninism" Section 5. e: Party and class:

Lenin: "'hat is to be Done?" Section 2. Indicates the relation of the Party to the spontaneous positions and of the masses.

Stalin: "On the Problems of Leninism" Section 5. Relations between Party and class in the era of the Dictatorship of the Proletariat.

Relations Between Levels Of Struggle



  1. Lenin: "What is to be D0ne?"
  2. Lenin: "What is to be D0ne?"
  3. Lenin: "On Slogans"


  1. The Relation between Theory and Politics:

Marx: Letter to Bracke May 5 1875. Marx shows

2.       the conjuncture of the writing of the "Critique of the Gotha Programme"

    1. he discusses the famous slogan, "Every step of real Movement is more important than a dozen programmes" pointing, out that the formation of a programme involves a lengthy consideration of the relations between factions and the hammering out of the theoretical principles which Guide the formulation of a programme,
    2. he points out the crucial importance of a solid theoretical basis for the programme
    3. he distinguishes a tactical compromise concerned with the struggle against a "common enemy" from the formulation of a programme on principles agreed by various factions and the disastrous consequences, of conflating the two.
  1. Distinguish between economism, (artificial restriction of all struggles to economic struggles) and the lending of the economic itself a political character (the crucial characteristic of reformist trades union politics) where politics is equated with the representation Of essentially economic demands ( in, the last instance referring to the rate of remuneration of labour power) at the political level.

Marx: "Critique of the Gotha Programme" Here Marx shows the relation: between petit-bourgeois economic theory with it's inability to define the class nature of the economic level and populist /reformist cringing before t 11e existing form of state which is treated as a political/theoretical given.

$ \rightarrow $F. Engels : Letter to Bebel March '18-28 1875.

4.       Ideology and Politics




  1. Lenin: "Two Tactics of Social Democracy in the Democratic Revolution"
  2. Lenin: "Left-wing Communism, an Infantile Disorder"
  3. $ \rightarrow $Engels: Introduction to Marx: "Class Struggles in France" (1895).


  1. Lenin:"Two Tactics of Social Democracy..." Section 9. Points out that the ideology of "extreme opposition" (i.e. of non-participation in the provisional government in the period of democratic revolution) falls into two crucial errors.:
    1. it leads to leading tire masses into mass struggle purely for the benefit of the bourgeoisie"
    2. this attitude leads inevitably not only to abstentionism in respect of ;bourgeois political institutions but also to abstentionism in respect of revolutionary struggle per se (Menshevik purists).
  2. Lenin: "Left-Wing Communism..." Section 7. Lenin demonstrates how abstentionism derives from petit-bourgeois subjectivism' and ignorance of the consciousness of the masses, , in the identification of the position of the vanguard with that of tire masses. The attachment Of the masses to parliamentary democracy can be combated only by a 10119 struggle within parliament and a combination of legal an illegal struggle
  3. Legal and Illegal Struggle:

$ \rightarrow $Engels: Introduction to Marx: "The Class Struggles in France" (1895 ). Engels shows the importance of parliamentary struggle as a weapon against repression and against bourgeois control of the State Ideological Apparatuses. He stresses the necessity of avoiding a fetishism of certain insurrectionary tactics NB. This text was used for the purposes of peaceful road revisionism and may be so again. Engel's attitude to W.Liebkniecht's omissions from and distortions of his text at the, time of its first publication must be referred to ; they are contained in Engels' letters to Kautsky (April 1 1895 ) and Lafargue ( April 13 1895 ).




  1. Marx: "The Critique of the Gotha Programme"
  2. Mao: "On Correcting Mistaken Ideas in the Party"


  1. Petit-bourgeois ideology and deviations. source of major deviation in the petit-bourgeois ideology of economic and political analysis divorced from class analysis shows the petit-bourgeois nature of the vulgarisation of the labour' theory of value and its connection utopian bourgeois egalitarianism the concept of people's state.

Mao : "On Correcting Mistaken Ideas in the Party" To present a list of the major deviations here would be pointless as they are best studied in relation to the particular conjunctures at which they arise. Programmatic texts which relate a number of deviations are Mao 's text is of this kind because the struggle against petit-bourgeois ideology in the area of military struggle and in respect of the ideology of the peasantry was particularly severe.




  1. Engels : Introduction (1891) to Marx "The Civil War in France".
  2. Lenin: "The State and Revolution"
  3. Marx: "The Civil War in France"


  1. The Bourgeois State Machine: Lenin:"The State, and. Revolution" Chaps 1 ,2, 3,4. Stresses the necessity for analysing, the class basis of the state and the, origin of the state in class society, criticizes Petit bourgeois Utopianism.

Marx:"The Civil War in France"

Engels : Introduction to Marx:"Civil War in France".

Marx and Engels' summary of the experience of the Commune, analysis of advance of the new form of state, criticism of the Commune for failing to prosecute the Dictatorship of the Proletariat at the national level; criticism referring to the political strategy of the Commune, not to its class basis.

2.       The 'Transformation of the Form of the State; The State, the Party and the Economic Level:

Lenin:"Once Again on the Trade Unions, the Current Situation and the Mistakes of Trotsky and Bukharin". Stresses the necessity for correct analysis of the relation between the political and economic levels in the era of the Dictatorship of the Proletariat Stresses that politics should be put in command. critique of the commandist deviation in respect of the trade unions. (Compare the section on political and economic tasks in the construction of socialism - VIII below )

3.       State Power, Democracy and the Dictatorship of the Proletariat:

Lenin: "The proletarian Revolution on and the Renegade Kautsky". Critique of Kautsky's petit bourgeois attack on the Russian revolution; Kautsky treats dictatorship as a form of government rather than a form of State. Lenin demonstrates the dependence' Of 'forms of government On the detention of state power.

Stalin: "The Foundations of Leninism" Section 4 (cf "Critique of tile Gotha Programme" ).




  1. Lenin: "The, Dual Power"
  2. Lenin: "Marxism, and Insurrection"
  3. Lenin "On Slogans"


  1. The Complexity of the Revolutionary Situation and Class Alliances

Lenin: Letters from Afar": First Letter. Lenin demonstrates how the revolutionary situation derives from complex contradictions between all classes and poses the problem of defining the proletariat's friends and enemies

The creation of a new form of state must be combined with parliamentary struggle and that ideological and political must continue within the new form of state (attack on cringing before spontaneism).

2.       Lenin "On Slogans" Demonstrates the danger of bourgeois control of the new state institutions and the necessity for the independence of the Party from these institutions; the decision to call for insurrection must be in the hands of the Party.

3.       The Decision to Call for Insurrection:

Lenin:"Marxism and Insurrection"

Lenin: "The Bolsheviks must Assume Power" : the distinction between Marxism and Blanquism.




  1. Lenin: 'The State and Revolution'
  2. Marx: 'Tic Civil War in France' (with Engels' 1891 Introduction)
  3. Stalin: 'The Foundations of Leninism Sect 4


n. The necessity for the maintenance and yet transformation of the State apparatus:

Lenin: 'State and Revolution' Ch 4 and Ch-5 Sections 1 & 2

Lenin: 'The Proletarian Revolution and the Renegade Kautsky'

b. Economics and politics in the era of the dictatorship of the proletariat


Marx to Weydemer March 3rd 1852;

Engels to Bebel, March 19th-28th 1875;

Engels to Van Patten, ' March 151,:1 1883;

Engels to Bernstein, January 1st i384.

c. The dictatorship of the proletariat :s the dictatorship of the class through new forms of State institution under the leadership of the Party:

Engels: Introduction to 'The Civil War in France' (1891)

Lenin: 'The State and Revolution' Ch.3

Marx and Engels the Communist Manifesto' Section 2

Lenin: 'The Proletarian Revolution and the Renegade Kautsky section on Bourgeois and Proletarian Democracy, Can there be Equality between the Exploiters «m: the Exploited The Soviets Dare not become State Organization::, and The Soviet Constitution.

Stalin: 'The ow rd,,tions of Lenin-m' Section 4

Stalin: 'On the Problem:s of I/Leninism eticn 5

d. Contradictions among the people and the relation between the proletariat.: and other classes3:

Mao: 'On the Correct handling of Contradictions among, the People'

+ Stalin: 'On the Problems of Leninism' Section 4

Lenin: 'Third Congress of the Communist International: - Theses for a Report on the Tactics of the RCr,'

e. Deviations from the politic


  1. Ultra Democracy: Lenin: 'The Proletarian Revolution and the Renegade Kautsky', section on Bourgeois and Proletarian Democracy '
    Lenin: 'The State and Rcvolution;' Ch-3 Section 3
  2. Libertarianism: Lenin: 'The State and Revolution' Ch.4 Sections 2,3
  3. Engels: 'On Authority'
    Marx: 'Critique of the Gotha Program' Section 4
  4. Peaceful Transition

Lenin: 'The State and Revolution' Ch.4 Section 4

Engels: 'Critique of the Social-Democratic Draft Programme (Erfurt Programme)' + B.




1.       Lenin: 'Left-Wing Childishness and Petty-Bourgeois Mentality'

2.       Lenin: 'Economics and Politics in the Era of the Dictatorship of the Proletariat'

3.       Lenin: 'The Tax in Kind' Lenin: 'On Co-operation'
Stalin: 'On the Problems of Leninism' Sections 6 7

No Advanced. Basic Reading.




  1. The Mode of Struggle among the People

Mao: 'On the Correct Handling of Contradictions among the People' +

  1. ldeological struggle and the; construction of socialism.:

Mao: ' Speech at the CCP's National Conference on Propaganda Work' +

Mao: 'Combat Liberalism'

Lenin: 'Speech at the All-Russian Conference of Political Education Workers '

  1. The Socialist Stag, Proletarian Democracy and the Class Struggle:

Lenin: 'Better Fewer but Better'

Mao : 'Bombard the Headquarters' +

No Advanced Basic Reading NB, this section is net intended to deal with the concrete problems of the cultural revolution in China.




  1. Lenin: Imperialism the: Highest Stage of Capitalism'
  2. Lenin: Imperialism and the Split in Socialism' +

Lenin: War and Russian Social Democracy'

Lenin: 'Socialism and War' +


  1. Imperialism as a stage of the uneven development of capitalism: Lenin: Imperialism the Highest Stage of Capitalism', Sections 5-7

2.       Imperialism as a specific stage of capitalist development and its characteristics:

Lenin: 'Imperialism, the: Highest Stag, of Capitalism' Suctions 7 & a The specific characteristics of monopoly capitalism should here be compared with the writings of Marx and Engels an the, form of imperialist penetration at earlier stages of capitalist development

Marx: 'The British rule in India' +

Marx: 'The Future Results of the British Role in India +

Marx: Capital Vol One ch. 25 the section on Ireland and Ch-31.

  1. Imperialism and war:
    1. Political characteristics: Ultra-imperialism:

Lenin: 'Imperialism, M Highest.Stage of Capitalism, Section 9 Social Democracy and the Labour Aristocracy:

Lenin: 'Imperialism, the Highest Stage of Capitalism' Sections 9 & 10; 'The War and Russian Social Democracy & the Collapse of the Second International + The Fight against. Social Chauvinism' +

    1. Proletarian Internationalism in the Period of imperialist War:

Lenin: 'On the Slogan "For a United States of Europe"'

Lenin: 'Defeat of one's own Government in the Imperialist War' +

Lenin: 'Proposals Submitted by the Central Committee of the RSDLP to the Second Socialist Conference April 1916

    1. Imperialism, the war and nationalist struggles:

Lenin: 'Discussion of Self-Determination Summed Up' +




  1. Lenin: 'The of Nations to Self-determination
  2. Lenin: 'Socialism and War' +
  3. Stalin: 'The Foundations of Leninism' Sections 1, 3 A 6 In sections 1 & 3, Stalin discusses briefly and clearly the following questions:
    1. the conjuncture in which Leninism works i.e., imperialism, the world-scale of the contra-dictions of capitalism in that conjuncture, , and the necessity the international character or the proletarian revolution;
    2. the character of Russia as the 'weakest link' the system of imperialist states;
    3. the position of the Second International and the permanentists (Parvus, Trotsky) , i.e. , in the former case the 'separation' of the bourgeois-democratic. and proletarian involutions, narrow concentration on winning a majority of the proletariat in the imperialist countries, waiting for the development of capitalism and restricting the struggle in colonial and semi-colonial countries to 'bourgeois' demands, and in the Otter, conceiving the relation of the bourgeois-democratic and proletarian revolutions from the stand-point of the proletariat alone, and neglecting the broad masses of the peasantry, a position leading to the ultra-leftist demand that socialism cannot be built in a largely peasant: country like Russia;
    4. in Section 6 Stalin sumnarizes Lenin's positions on the revolutionary role of struggles for national liberation, the role of these struggles in weakening and increasing the contradictions of the imperialist system the necessity for a resolutely anti-chauvinist position and for support of the oppressed and colonial masses by the proletariat of the imperialist countries.


Each section to take one week except for e, for which (i) and (ii) one week, (iii) and (iv) a second week

  1. Internationalism and Imperialism (i) Struggle of colonial peoples and op pressed national minorities and (ii) the position and tasks of the: proletarian party and the proletariat in imperialist States:

Lenin: 'Socialists and War' +

Lenin: 'The Socialist Revolution and. the Right of Nations to Self-Determination - Theses' +

Stalin: 'The Foundations of Leninism' Sections 1 & 6 b. Permanentism, Leninism and Socialism in One Country.. :

Stalin: 'The Foundations of Leninism Section 3

Stalin: 'On the Problems of Leninism' Section 3 by far the best and most detailed discussion of this question linking the international question with the question of the role of the mass of the peasantry in socialist construction.

Stalin.: 'The October Revolution and the Russian Communists' Section 2 -. Discusses Trotsky's positions and practice in respect to this question in the period of the Russian Revolution; optional to the above.

  1. Errors and deviations
    1. Social Chauvinism: Lenin: 'Imperialism and the Split in Socialism' - demonstrates the connexion between the relations of class forces in imperialist states and the opportunism of the Social-Democrats.
    2. Social-Democratic and Liberal positions on the national Question:

Lenin: 'Critical Remarks on the National Question' - an earlier and systematic treatment of reactionary positions on the national question, particularly the question of 'autonomization' +

    1. Abstract internationalism:

Lenin 'The Right of Nations to Self-Determination on' Sections 1-5 and 8 - a critique of Rosa Luxemburg.

    1. 'Ultra-Leftist Internationalism' :

Lenin: 'The Revolutionary Phrase' + - exposes the petty-bourgeois character of the 'lefts' slogan for 'revolutionary war' in opposition to the

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