A serious discussion of the historical importance and current relevance of the Leninist theory of organisation is possible only if one determines the exact position of this theory in the history of Marxism - or to be more precise, in the historical process of the unfolding and development of Marxism.
The Marxian proposition that "the dominant ideology of every society is the ideology of the dominant class" appears at first glance to conflict with the character of the proletarian revolution as the conscious overturning of society by the proletariat, as a product of the conscious, independent activity of the wage-earning masses.
The process whereby the proletarian mass, the proletarian vanguard and the revolutionary party are united depends on the elementary proletarian class struggle growing over into revolutionary class struggle - the proletarian revolution - and on the effects this has on the wage-earning masses.
It would be a great injustice to Lenin to characterise his life work as a systematic "underestimation" of the importance of spontaneous mass actions as opposed to their "appreciation" by Luxemburg or Trotsky.
There is a difficulty in this connection, however, which Lenin, during the years of the most heated disputes with the Mensheviks, recognised either not at all (1903-1905) or only to an insufficient degree (1908-1914).
After the traumatic shock suffered by Lenin on August 4, 1914, however, he too made a decisive step forward on this question. From then on, the question of organisation became one not only of function but also of content.
The objection was made to Lenin’s theory of organisation that through its exaggerated centralisation it would prevent the development of internal party democracy. But this objection is a confused one.
When we emphasised that Lenin’s concept of organisation in reality represents a concept of the current potential for proletarian revolution, we already touched upon the central factor in the Leninist theory of proletarian, class consciousness: the problem of the definition of the revolutionary subject under capitalism.
The massive reintroduction of intellectual labour into the process of production brought about by the third industrial revolution, which was foreseen by Marx and whose foundations were already laid in the second industrial revolution, has created the prerequisite for a much broader layer of the scientific intelligentsia to regain the awareness of alienation which it had lost.
Once it is understood that the Leninist theory of organisation tries to answer the problems of the current potential for revolution and of the revolutionary subject, this theory then leads directly to the question of historical pedagogy, i.e., the problem of transforming potential class consciousness into actual class consciousness, and trade-unionist consciousness into political, revolutionary consciousness.