Democratic centralism has generally been accepted as the principle for building communist organisations, whereas it was only meant to address the organisational demands of a particular historical context in Tsarist Russia. By institutionalising centralism and leaving democracy undefined, this organisational form has fostered authoritarian tendencies and undermined the growth of new ideas in the working class movement. This is seen in India where the engagement of the communist parties with democracy has remained ad hoc and untheorised. This article argues that democratic centralism has been an obstacle for the communist parties to be able to creatively respond to new situations and conditions.
The article, originally published in the Economic and Political Weekly, is attached as PDF.