Joel Geier’s talk on “Leninism vs. Zinovievism” at the Socialism 2013 conference is a welcome attempt to recover the Bolshevik model of democratic centralism from the undemocratic practices introduced into the Communist International following Lenin’s death. It is, unfortunately, a failed attempt. As this short polemical reply will show, Geier’s argument is infected with the very disease he means to cure. The comrade makes at least two major errors:
- He asserts that the leadership should be a (permanent) faction; and
- He asserts that “multi-issue” or permanent (opposition) factions are intrinsically illegitimate.
As a result of these serious mistakes, Geier does not overcome Zinovievism; he merely constructs a kind of “Zinovievism with a human face.” Our movement can and must do better.