"Dual power" refers to a situation where autonomous institutions and official institutions compete against each other for legitimacy. Although Vladimir Lenin coined the term in 1917, the concept had been formulated far earlier. Black Socialists in America assert that the idea of dual power has existed throughout "centuries of anti-authoritarian theory + practice."
In 1851, Pierre-Joseph Proudhon described the strategy that would later be called dual power:
"Beneath the governmental machinery, in the shadow of political institutions, out of the sight of statesmen and priests, society is producing its own organism, slowly and silently; and constructing a new order, the expression of its vitality and autonomy, and the denial of the old politics, as well as of the old religion."
In 1905, the Industrial Workers of the World called for "forming the structure of the new society within the shell of the old."
In April 1917, Lenin described the "dual power" between Russia's bourgeois Provisional Government and proletarian soviets. He said that the proletarians had built their own government which could eclipse the official state: <blockuqote> What is this dual power? Alongside the Provisional Government, the government of bourgeoisie, another government has arisen, so far weak and incipient, but undoubtedly a government that actually exists and is growing—the Soviets of Workers’ and Soldiers’ Deputies.
Jeff Shantz criticizes anarchists' use of Lenin's terminology:
"Significantly, as history would show, Lenin conceived of dual power as a mechanism by which the vanguard party could implement and enforce party control over the revolution. Lenin stated famously that the proletariat needed state power, that a centralized organization of force was required to lead the mass of people in the work of organizing a socialist society. Rather than an aspect of self-determination, or popular control of the revolution, the dual power structures served as a means of co-optation and centralization via the party within the state. Towards the end of 1917, with the Bolsheviks in power, Lenin finally ended the already shrinking autonomy of the Soviets, shifting all authority in political and economic matters to the newly instituted Bolshevik government."