Vanguardism is the political theory advocating the presence of an organization (usually a vanguard party) having a leading role in a revolutionary movement, with the goal of steering it in a direction consistent with its ideology.
More generally, vanguardism may refer to cooperation between avant-garde individuals advancing in any field. Innovative writers and artists are often described as being in the vanguard in development of new forms and styles of art.
Often, following the overthrow of the previous order, vanguardist organizations will attempt to seize state power and use it in order to achieve its goals of reshaping society. The classic historical example of this is the Bolshevik-led October Revolution.
Vanguardism continues to be used as a political strategy by Leninist parties of just about all varieties -- Trotskyist, Stalinist and Maoist. Doing so, they claim to fulfill the concept of the dictatorship of the proletariat, by turning from a revolutionary organization into a form of bureaucracy that dissolves when the people are sufficiently empowered to rule themselves.
Most anarchists and radical libertarians reject vanguardism as inherently authoritarian, although the practices of some anarchist groups have been criticized by their peers for constituting vanguardism of the intellectual, if not organizational, variety.
See also: spontaneism.
- Aside from the entire Marxist-Leninist movement and its component communist parties
- The Guerrilla Girls, a group of anonymous feminist artists who promote women in the arts.
- United Anarchist Artists, a group of anarchists/artists who create short online videos, usually about politics and the George W. Bush administration.
- Burger, Peter. Theory of the Avant-Garde. Theory & History of Literature Series. 135 pages. University of Minnesota Press, February 1, 1984. ISBN 0-8166-1068-1.
- Forster, Merlin H. and K. David Jackson, compilers. Vanguardism in Latin American Literature : An Annotated Bibliographic Guide. Bibliographies and Indexes in World Literature Series. 232 pages. Greenwood Press, May 23, 1990. ISBN 0-313-24861-3.
- Bakunin, Mikhail. Letter to Albert Richard. August 1870. Reprinted in Bakunin on Anarchy, translated and edited by Sam Dolgoff. A. A. Knopf, 1st edition, 1972. ISBN 0-394-41601-5. Retrieved May 17, 2005.
- Mandel, Ernst. Trotsky’s conception of self-organisation and the vanguard party. Originally published in French in Quatrième Internationale, No.36, pp.35-49. November 1989.Translated by Mike Murray, marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Marxists’ Internet Archive. Retrieved May 24, 2005.
- Mitchell, Roxanne and Frank Weiss. Two, Three, Many Parties of a New Type? Against the Ultra-Left Line. Publisher: United Labor Press. 1977. Retrieved May 25, 2005.
- Slaughter, Cliff. What is Revolutionary Leadership?. Labour Review. Socialist Labor League. 1964?. Retrieved May 17, 2005.
- Mythology of the White-Led "Vanguard": A Critical Look at the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA. Anarchist People of Color website. Retrieved May 17, 2005.
- Cooper, Nick. Critique of Revolutionary Communism . Belgium Indymedia. Sep. 23, 2004. Retrieved June, 3, 2005.