Professional revolutionaries
The concept of professional revolutionaries, alternatively called cadre, is in origin a Leninist concept used to describe a body of devoted communists who spend the majority of their free time organizing their party toward a mass revolutionary party capable of leading a workers' revolution
Proletarian revolution
A proletarian revolution is a social and/or political revolution in which the working class attempts to overthrow the bourgeoisie. Proletarian revolutions are generally advocated by socialists, communists, and most anarchists....

. The size of this core is naturally proportional to the size of the party itself.

Political debates

Most Marxists agree that a cadre is necessary in one form or another; Trotsky in particular did not believe that these professional revolutionaries, or vanguardism
In the context of revolutionary struggle, vanguardism is a strategy whereby an organization attempts to place itself at the center of the movement, and steer it in a direction consistent with its ideology....

 in general, was to blame for what they considered the eventual "totalitarian" (what they term Stalinist) nature of the Soviet Union
Soviet Union
The Soviet Union , officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , was a constitutionally socialist state that existed in Eurasia between 1922 and 1991....

, nor the situations in China, the DPRK
Workers' Party of Korea
The Workers' Party of Korea is the ruling Communist party of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea , commonly known as North Korea. It is also called the Korean Workers' Party...

, and other Communist states; instead they cite as the true causes the isolation of the Russian Revolution
October Revolution
The October Revolution , also known as the Great October Socialist Revolution , Red October, the October Uprising or the Bolshevik Revolution, was a political revolution and a part of the Russian Revolution of 1917...

 in the case of Russia, the practices of Maoists, and other Marxist-Leninist parties.

Other communists, particularly those sometimes dubbed "post-Maoists", do indeed disagree with the professional revolutionaries concept and view it as antithetical to the "mass party" ideal (party physically composed of the masses of people, rather than an elite intellectual core) advocated especially strongly by Mao, although never realized under his leadership in China. Such communists therefore today advocate for a current version of a "mass party" of working class
Working class
Working class is a term used in the social sciences and in ordinary conversation to describe those employed in lower tier jobs , often extending to those in unemployment or otherwise possessing below-average incomes...

 people, thereby in their view maximizing direct participation in the revolution and the subsequent revolutionary government.

In Lenin's original work the purpose of the cadre is to educate the masses and essentially bring the entire population to the level of "professional revolutionaries", but it was not a requirement that the whole population, or even a majority, be at or near such level before seizing power in a communist revolution
Communist revolution
A communist revolution is a proletarian revolution inspired by the ideas of Marxism that aims to replace capitalism with communism, typically with socialism as an intermediate stage...

. At its highest point of membership, in the 1980s, the Communist Party of the Soviet Union
Communist Party of the Soviet Union
The Communist Party of the Soviet Union was the only legal, ruling political party in the Soviet Union and one of the largest communist organizations in the world...

 contained only 18 million out of a total area population of 280 million, and it is unknown how small fraction of those 18 million could have been regarded "professional revolutionaries".

See also

  • Leninism
    In Marxist philosophy, Leninism is the body of political theory for the democratic organisation of a revolutionary vanguard party, and the achievement of a direct-democracy dictatorship of the proletariat, as political prelude to the establishment of socialism...

  • Vanguard party
    Vanguard party
    A vanguard party is a political party at the forefront of a mass action, movement, or revolution. The idea of a vanguard party has its origins in the Communist Manifesto by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels...

  • Vanguardism
    In the context of revolutionary struggle, vanguardism is a strategy whereby an organization attempts to place itself at the center of the movement, and steer it in a direction consistent with its ideology....

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