Prehistory of Vanguardism
DOI link for Prehistory of Vanguardism
Prehistory of Vanguardism book
This chapter presents a general overview of the main influences on vanguard movements and ideology, most of which originate within the 19th century, and the main currents of thought and action that shaped vanguardism. It first notes the influence of the Jacobins as providing an example of a “proto-vanguard” organization for future movements. The chapter then turns to the central role of Hegelian philosophy of history in the construction of “world historic” populations and directional history, followed by the Marxist emphasis on specific mass populations creating the possibility of category-based action. The emergence of mass politics, and the response of elite theory, is addressed in the next section of the chapter, paying particular attention to Le Bon, Mosca, Sorel, Michels, and Pareto. Next is a discussion of the rise of “scientistic” forms of discourse in the late nineteenth century, with the influence of Darwinism on political rhetoric and theorizing. The chapter concludes with the central role of the First World War in creating conditions for the various “strands” to converge into vanguardism, emphasizing the “crisis of Marxism” that arose in the Second International, and the divisions between “orthodox” Marxism (Kautsky), revisionism (Bernstein), revolutionary Marxism (Lenin), and other revisionist forms (Mussolini).