Lenin’s What is to be Done? - a defence


  • James O'Toole


Lenin’s 1901 pamphlet What is to be Done? is still controversial. The book is used to provide illustration, by conservatives and liberals alike, for the argument that Lenin was an ‘elitist’. He supposedly wanted a dictatorship of intellectuals over the working class and that his conception of a professional revolutionary party ‘elite’ laid the basis for Stalinism. Thinkers like Chomsky present Lenin as wanting to create this new elite - ‘the Leninist intelligentsia have a different agenda. They fit Marx’s description of the ’conspirators’ who ‘pre-empt the developing revolutionary process’ and distort it to their ends of domination’