School of Politics and International Relations

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Joe Pateman

Doctoral Researcher, Faculty of Social Sciences



Joe Pateman is an MRes student at the University of Nottingham. His main areas of interest include Marxism-Leninism, democratic theory, and Marxist approaches to race. Joe studied as an exchange student at the University of Hong Kong during the midst of the protests that occurred there in 2014. Joe has visited the Democratic People's Republic of Korea as a student ambassador, and is interested in bringing the North Korean political philosophy of 'Juche' into mainstream western academic discourse.

Expertise Summary

  • Marxism-Leninism
  • Democratic theory
  • Marxist approaches to Race

Research Summary

Title: Leninism and Democracy

After the collapse of soviet communism and the triumph of liberal democracy, it became common sense to believe that Leninism is inherently authoritarian and anti-democratic. This charge rests upon the assumption that Leninism entails a positivistic conception of science, which claims to have established absolute truth, and tolerates no alternative points of view. According to this scientific worldview, the vanguard party of the proletariat is thought to be a monolithic and hierarchical bureaucracy, which rejects criticism, democratic deliberation, and the spontaneous activities of the masses. This claim has been made not only by critics of Leninism. It has also been a major criticism of Leninism within the Western Marxist tradition, and in particular, the work of the Frankfurt School.

This is a principle reason as to why Leninism has been rejected as dogmatic, positivist, and vulgar, and no modern democratic theorist admits to dogmatism, positivism or vulgarity. This dissertation examines and rejects the claim that the notion of Leninism as a scientific theory is undemocratic. Contrary to the established view, it finds that Leninism is compatible with democracy, and encourages a democratic understanding of socialism. A thoroughly vulgar Leninism is thoroughly democratic.

Recent Publications

Past Research

Joe's undergraduate dissertation examined and refuted the claim that the notion of scientific socialism developed by Marx and Engels is anti-democratic.

Future Research

Joe is interested in examining the relationship between Marxism-Leninism and democracy.

School of Politics and International Relations

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University of Nottingham
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