I see that ‘big tent’ or ‘catch-all’ parties are quite popular in modern politics. However, the autocrats of the past took the opposite view:

Before we can unite, and in order that we may unite, we must first of all draw firm and definite lines of demarcation. <...> we do not intend to make our publication a mere storehouse of various views. <...> A party becomes stronger by purging itself. (Lenin)

It is quite erroneous to believe that the strength of a movement must increase if it be combined with other movements of a similar kind. <...> Through the formation of a working coalition associations which are weak in themselves can never be made strong, whereas it can and does happen not infrequently that a strong association loses its strength by joining in a coalition with weaker ones. (Hitler)

Why were Lenin and Hitler opposed to the unification strategy that gives the majority to many contemporary European parties?

update: Why, for example, CDU/CSU and SPD in Germany don't split into separate parties that would argue with each other?

  • 2
    This could benefit from more context: where the quotes come from and in which year/context they were made. Mar 30, 2022 at 10:05
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    "I see that ‘big tent’ or ‘catch-all’ parties are quite popular in modern politics." There could also be some quotes or examples about this. In the country where I live there are at least six parties in Parliament. Mar 30, 2022 at 10:13
  • It's probably better to view it as cycles of greater inclusivity followed by purges. Immediately after 1917 the new Soviet state under Lenin had a wide range of views, but they were gradually driven out from the late 1920s. After Stalin's death, there was again attempts at greater inclusivity, with liberalization, greater debate, and more critical voices allowed, but this was eventually stamped down. On the other hand Lenin did come to power after a split with the Menshevik group, so he's going to have to justify that schism. This is a complicated question though.
    – Stuart F
    Mar 30, 2022 at 10:18
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    The SPD actually did split into separate parties in 2005. A couple members were dissatisfied with the party becoming more centrist under Gerhard Schröder and formed a new party called WASG which then merged with the PDS to become "Die Linke".
    – Philipp
    Mar 30, 2022 at 14:13

2 Answers 2


Minor and less often substantive ideological divergences were often the basis for those purges, often coupled with treason charges etc.

If you agree 100% with the leader on everything (often painted as inerrant in personality cults), you can't possibly challenge them on anything, so [you] are not a political threat, on a personal level. Which is usually the point of authorianism: eliminating as much opposition as possible, preferably all of it.

Only in extremely limited circumstances, like when a leader is extremely and visibly sick, does a line like "I 100% agree with you on everything, but I think I should lead the country instead" have any chance of working.

  • preferablly when the old leader is with most of his true inner circle and a gun is pointing at the back of each and everyone of them :)
    – Faito Dayo
    Mar 31, 2022 at 21:57

Lenin and Hitler talked about different things here.

Leninist view
Lenin is referring to internationalism, the concept from the Communist philosophy, which sees the historical evolution as a fight between social classes (peasants, proletariat, borgeoisie), defined by their economic conditions, regardless of their national origin, race, sex, etc. This struggle eventually culminates in revolutions resulting in a more progressove social order (pimitive society->slavery->feodalism->capitalism->communism).

In this light, a relatively minor point of disagreement between Lenin and some of his party camarades (notably Trotsky) is whether the communist revolution occurs simultaneously in the whole world, or whether revolutions happen independently in different countries, which will then unite in a single classless society. Lenin correctly judged that while Russia was in a position where the communists could take power, the world was not ready for the revolution. Trotsky and others disagreed - it is worth noting that the Great October Socialist Revolution occurred during World War 1, which communists interpreted as an imperialist war contrary to the interests of working people; notably, the massive fraternisation between French, German and British troops gave reasons to believe that the soldiers would eventually unite against their real enemies (i.e., the capitalist governments). Trotsky famously tried to use the separate negotiations in Brest-Litovsk to gain the time for the German soldiers and workers to overthrow their government, whereas Lenin insisted on actually make a peace treaty with Germany for the reasons of the domestic politics (the war was highly unpopular and soldiers could be used as a force against the Communist domestic opponents).

Nazi view
Nazi view was in essence nationalistic, even if containing many socialist elements when confined to a single nation (it is necessary to note that most socialist tilts were abundoned after the Nazis came to power and made alliance with the big industrialists; this eventually led to the bloody purge of the socialist elements in the Nazi part, even though these were instrumental to the Nazi rise to power). For Hitler uniting with others meant making alliances with similarly nationalist movements in other countries - notably the Italian Fascists, Francoists in Spain, Petain followers in France, etc. Nazis didn't mean merging different nationalist movements into a single one, but simply considered them as ideologically and racially equal.

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