With the global corporate capitalist system in a worldwide crisis it is clear that an alternative system is needed. However a major impediment to building this new system is that many people say that there is no alternative to capitalism now as socialism has already been tried in the old Soviet Union, Communist China and the old Eastern European states. They state that besides the fact that socialism did not work in these this countries the system also led to tyranny and a dictatorship by the Communist Party elite.
Now if we are to rebuild support for socialism in the twenty first century we must first analyse why socialism failed in the Soviet Union, China and the countries of Eastern Europe. In my opinion the blame must be firmly laid at the feet of Lenin who in his 1902 book What is to be done, called for the rule by an elite vanguard party.Lenin was take this theory further after the 1917 Russian revolution by establishing a one party dictatorship ruled by a ruthless secret police the Cheka.
It was Lenins idea in October 1917 to carry out the Bolshevik coup which led ultimately the the banning of socialist parties like the Mensheviks and the Socialist Revolutionaries. Also the dissolving of the democratically elected constituent assembly in 1918.
After the Bolsheviks won the Russian civil war Lenin and the Bolsheviks besides establishing a one party dictatorship which from the start had special privileges for the party elite, also banned strikes and independent trade unions. The trade unions just became instruments of the state that make sure that the workers carried out the parties production plans. Labour camps were established under Lenins rule even for working class opponents of the regime. So it is unfair to say that the soviet dictatorship started under Stalin it was in place under Lenin.
Clearly then an alternative is needed to Leninism. I feel that we must look to the ideas of the great 19th century French libertarian socialist Pierre Proudhon for inspiration. He called for direct workers and consumers control of the economy. There would be no room for the role of an elite vanguard party. Encouragingly many of the occupy Wall Street protestors were influenced by libertarian socialist ideas.
So I say to all do not get side tracked by Lenin,s dictatorial ideas instead turn to real equality and freedom and libertarian socialism and start reading the ideas of Pierre Proudhon.