One of curious features of the self-described leaders of the renewal of communism is a type of non-party communism. It appears in the collection of contributions called The Idea of Communism, published by Verso in 2010 and arising from a conference in London. Alain Badiou and Bruno Bosteels, among others, seem drawn to this curious idea, even suggesting that a ‘communist party’ or a ‘communist state’ are oxymorons. As might be expected, Stalin’s piece called ‘Non-Party Simpletons’ comes to mind:

Non-party progressivism has become the fashion. Such is the nature of the [European] intellectual—he must have a fashion.

What is non-partyism?

Non-partyism glosses over the antagonism of interests, it shuts its eyes to their struggle.

Every class has its own party, with a special programme and a special complexion. Parties direct the struggle of classes. Without parties there would be not a struggle but chaos, absence of clarity and confusion of interests. But non-partyism abhors clarity and definiteness, it prefers nebulousness and absence of programme.

Glossing over of class antagonisms, hushing up of the class struggle, absence of a definite complexion, hostility to all programme, gravitation towards chaos and the confusion of interests—such is non-partyism.

What is the aim of non-partyism?

To unite the ununitable, to bring about the impossible.

To unite bourgeois and proletarians in an alliance, to erect a bridge between the landlords and the peasants, to haul a wagon with the aid of a swan, a crab and a pike—this is what non-partyism aims at.

Non-partyism realises that it is incapable of uniting the ununitable and therefore says with a sigh:

“If ‘ifs’ and ‘ans’

Were pots and pans. . . .”

But “ifs” and “ans” are not pots and pans and so non-partyism is always left in the cart, always remains the simpleton.

Non-partyism is like a man without a head on his shoulders, or—rather—like a man with a turnip instead of a head.

(Collected Works, volume 2, pp. 235-36)