A Contribution to the Understanding of Marxist-Leninist Leadership

Credit for the above image goes to @Foto_Comunismo.

An Introduction and Some Concepts

This essay is meant to make explicit and examine some psychodynamic aspects of the history of Marxism-Leninism and its leadership. This is something typically brought up by petty-bourgeois ideologists to psychologize promotion of communism, but an exploration that leads to an honest understanding should, hopefully, free communists from discomfort around psychological factors, and in a way that’s useful going forward for both current anti-imperialist efforts and future revolutionary ones. I believe that the misunderstandings in this area mainly come from (1) paranoia of liberals originating from fears generated initially by patriarchal family relations and obscured and projected by imperialist media, (2) mistaken liberal assumptions about the possibility and benefit of disentangling phantasy from “reality,” and (3) ego defenses from disavowed traumatic social relations liberals perpetuate in capitalism. The first and third of these are shared almost universally by psychoanalysts themselves and supposed theorists on the “left” that like to use psychoanalysis for their politics seem to fall for all three. My hope is to appropriate the usefulness of psychoanalysis for genuine Marxist-Leninist theory. Towards this end, and to make this approachable by as many people as possible, I’m going to mainly rely on two basic psychoanalytic concepts that I think are key to forming an understanding of some historical processes. These are the relational notions of the “self” and “self-object” as used by Heinz Kohut and the notion of splitting as applied in the school of psychoanalytic thought started by Melanie Klein, or the school of Object Relations. The dynamics I try describe with these concepts seem to apply to how leadership is experienced in general, although they play out differently depending on social context, so these should be looked at in some sense, although a very loosely, as constraints.
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Defending Communist History in Practice


Communists in the global North have typically gone through several progressing periods of disillusionment with bourgeois historical perception and a growing recognition of its general untruth. Unlearning anti-communism is a long and difficult process full of twists, turns, and even an occasional catharsis of immediate negation. “Wait, so it was the Dalai Lama that was bad?” All of this unlearning involves a scale of study that most people would recoil from, even to get a degree in one or another bourgeois indoctrination scheme. Communist history is the most slandered political history that exists, and for reasons that Marxists should readily understand. After all, if you were in the ruling class of a system that exists through exploitation of the rest of the population and general murderous domination, wouldn’t you also produce an endless stream of lies about an alternative system that posed an existential danger to you?

And isn’t that last sentence, at least in the global North, seen as actually a dynamic evidenced not by capitalism, but by communism? A common strategy of the bourgeois ideologists is to project the deficiencies of capitalism onto other social systems. Regardless of to what degree this is done consciously or unconsciously, its effects on the ideology of the global North is a constant obstacle to effectively advocating for Marxism-Leninism. Below I hope to show why obstacles like these shouldn’t be fought with any manner of argumentation that involves concession to bourgeois ideology, but instead should be fought through a respectable defense of the communist project based in a real study of its history that doesn’t shrink when confronted. This style of defense has to be an approach in study as well, even when the works involved are sympathetic to Marxism-Leninism.

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