The 'volatile' Marxian concept of the dictatorship of the proletariat

Studies in East European Thought 49 (1):1-21 (1997)
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The thesis of this paper is that even some of the most fundamental concepts of Marxism have been used and abused to fit their advocates' purposes. More specifically, the interpretation of the concept of the "dictatorship of the proletariat" has been subject to a dual development. First, the dictatorship of the proletariat has come to denote an increasingly violent regime. Second, the term has been used to refer to a rule exercised by an ever smaller segment of society. This paper seeks to analyze and elucidate this much disputed and frequently misunderstood Marxist concept. In the first part Marx's use of the term is examined. The second section explores how the same concept was explicated in the writings of some of the most important first generation Marxist thinkers and "practitioners" like Engels, Lenin, Kautsky, Bukharin, and Stalin. Following the summary of my findings I attempt to formulate some meaningful generalizations about the usage of the concept by Marxist thinkers



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The State and Revolution.Vladimir Lenin - 1992 [1917] - Penguin Books.

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