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The Russian Dictatorship

In 1918 a sharp controversy took place between Karl Kautsky, of the German Social Democratic Party, and Nikolai Lenin, of the Russian Bolsheviks, on the question of the Dictatorship of the Proletariat. The debate has lately been translated into English, Kautsky’s contribution by the ILP, under the title The Dictatorship of the Proletariat, and Lenin’s by the BSP, under the title The Proletarian Revolution.

Lenin’s pamphlet is the more lively, the more abusive and, on a superficial level, the more effective statement. One capitalist critic has been so carried away by the stream of denunciations that runs from one end to the other of the pamphlet that he declared that Lenin had practically pulverised Kautsky.

But denunciation, however justified, is not argument, and when the case is more closely examined one gains the impression that a good deal of the abuse is used to hide the lack of argument, that in some cases is painfully apparent.

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