N.I. Bukharin: Marx's Teaching and its Historical Importance


4. The Theory of Proletarian Dictatorship and Scientific Communism

The analysis of capitalist society made by Marx explains the main "laws of motion" of this society, the specific laws of this specific historical-economic structure. It appears that the development of capitalism develops all its objective internal contradictions, prepares the material prerequisites of socialism within the bosom of capitalist society, sharpens the contradictions of interests among the classes which are the main contradictions of capitalism, leads to the revolution of the proletariat and guarantees its victory. However, the very course of the proletarian revolution, which shows itself as the highest type of class struggle and passes over into civil war, brings the problem of revolution far outside the bounds of the interrelations of economics and politics, of the social-economic structure and its political superstructure, as well as of those transformations of catastrophic order which inevitably arise in the course of the victorious struggle of the proletariat.

Here we must dwell above all on the general theory of the state as developed by Marx and Engels. Surely in no sphere of social science has so much idealist and even mystical fog collected as in the doctrine of the state, that citadel of the concentrated power of the ruling classes. The idea of the "eternity"1) of this institution, its obligatory character for every form of human community, its universality and extra-historical nature, has been and still is prevalent as the main dogma of the majority of bourgeois theories of the state and of the law, independently of whether we are faced with the elaborations of "sociology" or specific "juridical formalism",which looks upon the state and law as an autonomous sphere developing according to its own laws and in no way fundamentally determined by other aspects of social development. With Marx and Engels the state is above all an historical category, and furthermore, historical in the dual sense of the word. That is, in the first place it only arises in accordance with definite social and historical conditions, together with the rise of private property and the division of society into classes. It "dies out" together with the disappearance of classes. So it has its historical beginning and its historical end. Its existence does not coincide with the existence of society as such. It is not an indispensable attribute. In the second place, it is also historical in the sense that it really only exists in its concrete historical form of an adequate, historical-concrete, social-economic formation. Consequently, just as, in the sphere of economic categories, means of production only become capital under definite conditions, under a definite historic form, in exactly the same way society appears in a state form only under definite conditions. Just as in the sphere of the doctrine of society as a whole, "general laws" (Engels) include a wealth of laws of historically determined, concrete "formations", "means of production", "economic structures", so in the sphere of state doctrine its general definitions include a wealth of concrete and specific forms of state power.

The state, then, is by no means a power forced on society from outside; neither is it the "realisation of the ethical idea", "the image and the realisation of reason", as Hegel maintains. It is simply a product of society at a certain stage of evolution. It is the confession that this society has become hopelessly divided against itself, has entangled itself in irreconcilable contradictions which it is powerless to banish. In order that these contradictions, these classes with conflicting economic interests, may not annihilate themselves and society in a useless struggle, a power becomes necessary that stands apparently above society and has the function of keeping down the conflicts and maintaining "order". And this power, the outgrowth of society, but assuming supremacy over it and becoming more and more divorced from it, is the state.2)

Thus the state is the product of the class division of society. Being the product of the development of society as a whole, it is also a completely class organisation. Functioning as a force which "moderates" the conflicts of classes, it is far from being a "neutral", "superclass" quantity. It "moderates" but is far from "reconciling". It "moderates" by depriving the enslaved and exploited of the means and weapons of battle, by stupefying them with a number of ideological influences, by preserving the "order" which is the condition of the process of exploitation.3) The very existence of the state is an expression of the complete irreconcilability of classes. Consequently at the basis of the rise of the state lies the process of the formation of classes. The process of the formation of classes means, however, the conversion of the process of production and reproduction into the process of production and reproduction of the surplus product alienated by the ruling class. This is the economic foundation for the appearance and consequent functioning of the state. The economic conditions of production, which are simultaneously the process of exploitation, need "order", that is an objective, forcible guarantee. Therefore economic exploitation is supplemented by political oppression, the economic "relation of mastery-enslavement" ("Herrschafts und Knechtschaftsverhältnis," Marx) is fixed in functions, embracing the whole of society in their organs of political organisation, the state. Economics engender politics, which is itself only "concentrated economics" (Lenin), "ökonomische Potenz" (Engels). Class society is a relative and deeply contradictory unity. Therefore its categories also bear the seal of this. Hence the original character of the dialectic of society and the state. The state is at the same time the product of society and its political expression. But this expression can only be a class one. The category of oppression, corresponding to the category of exploitation, presupposes a relation between the social subject of oppression (i.e. exploitation) and its object. In such a case the whole of society is an exploiting society. The state is an utterly class machine of oppression, for it is the dominant class "constituted as state power". So therefore here there can be no question of social "solidarity", of a really super-class force, of the representative of the "general" interest, " general " will of the so-called "whole".4) But by state two things are often meant which do not overlap. For by state is meant only the organised subject of oppression, i.e. the organisation of the ruling class embracing the whole of society, having as its object the exploited class, but looked at without including that object (just as by trust is usually meant the "apparatus" of the trust with its direction, but without the workers who are the object of the squeezing out of surplus value), for by state is meant the whole of society in its state political form, i.e. the organisation of the ruling class as subject, with the inclusion of all its "citizens", including also the politi cally oppressed, economically exploited classes (i.e. class). How ever, even in the last case we can speak only of a class state, for the inclusion of all classes in a so-called state does not contradict one scrap its class-oppressing function, which infers a "normal" course of the process of exploitation. For in the given case the exploited class is only introduced as object. It is not a participator in the "machine" of oppression. Just as all society is exploiting, as a type, although its oppressed classes are only the objects of exploitation, and the state is an organisation of enslavement, though, in the given conception, it not only includes the enslavers but also the object of enslavement. "From the political point of view the state and the structure of society are not two separate things: the state is the structure of society",5) but "political power is precisely the official expression of the antagonism of classes in civic society".6) We may also look at the state as the organisation of the ruling class in the narrow sense of the word, as the "machine" of oppression without including the object of that oppression just as Marx looked at it in his mature works. The "general utility functions" of state power (railroad construction, fight against infectious diseases, etc.) are far from being the expression of "solidarity" but are the essential condition of the "normal" course of exploitation. "Social legislation" generally represents the same sort of estimation of forces as a concession to workers during a strike, with a transference of the process of exploitation to a higher stage. Here, therefore, there is never a question of the changing of the class essence of the state, as such, and of the class significance of its functions.

It is not difficult to see this upon an analysis of the function of the state in any historical type, including the analysis of the modern capitalist state. The laws passed (the legislative function) protect and assist in equal directions the enlarged reproduction of capitalist relations (the interests of property, of the balance of trade, of accumulation; the interests of the guaranteeing of power, the suppression and corresponding education of the oppressed classes; the interests of "defence" and attack against competitors, etc.). "The protection of personal security and social order" (police, gendarmerie, army), "the protection of inherited and acquired rights" (justice), the cultural functions (education, hygiene, etc.) and the state church, the struggle against competing states, all this in essence has a clearly expressed class character, being covered by the specific ideology of "law" as the more or less ideal standards of human communion. The machinery of oppression, possessing its own material technique (the means of physical destruction, punishment and fear) and powerful organisations furnished with this technique (the army, police, courts, etc.) which form parts of the universal organisation of the ruling class embracing all society-this machinery appears under the pseudonym of the totality of legal standards, of an ideal complex functioning by force of its own inner logic and conviction. Such fetishism of state power and the specific "judicial cretinism" corresponding to it, which looks at law as a self-sufficient social substance, moving exclusively by the logic of its inner, immanent laws, congeals into the system of "pure law". All this mysticism is dissipated, however, once we expose the following fundamental facts and connections.

1. States correspond in their types to social formations. The economic structure of society determines the type of state power and its structure.

2. The dominant class economically is, à la longue, the class constituted as the state power, i.e. which is politically dominant.

3. The chief function of state power is the guaranteeing of the process of exploitation.

4. It is different from all other organisations of the dominant class in that the state is all embracing, it is the most general organisation, representing the interests of the dominant class as a whole 7) and monopolising the material means of violence and the chief means of spiritual enslavement.

5. The rules of state organisation, i.e. the generally obligatory standards of behaviour, behind which stands the whole apparatus of compulsion, protect and facilitate the reproduction of the process of exploitation of that concretely historical type, which corresponds to the given mode of production and, consequently, to the given type of state.

The ideologues of the bourgeoisie, insofar as they are compelled to recognise scraps of Marxism in the structures of the "Machttheorie" (the theory of social force, of rule, subjection, etc.) generally extract the revolutionary sting from the Marxian theory, extinguishing the idea of class, blunting the chief function of intermediary of the process of exploitation into numerous "general utility" functions, reducing the exploiting and oppressor rôle of the state to its historical sources and treating contemporary manifestations of this type only as "excesses" and "abuses". The consistently developed Marxist theory is anathema to them, for, as one of the high priests of bourgeois political science, G. Jellinek, frankly wrote: "The practical consequences of the force theory lie not in the foundation (Begründung) but the destruction (Zerstörung) of the state;" "it paves the way to the permanent revolution."8)

The most important tendency in modern bourgeois state science, the school of Herr Kelsen, starts out methodologically from the teleological standardised conception of law and from a purely ideological treatment of the state, adjusted to the system of its standards. Speaking generally, the whole fashionable doctrine of the "aim in law", and the "aim in the state", etc., is founded on the fact that the state in capitalist society to a certain degree embodies a rational origin in opposition to the irrational current of economic life. "Civic society" is anarchic and elemental. It is disconnected "connection", "disconnected society", as Fourier defined it. It is not, as we have seen, "a purposive subject", it is not "organised capitalism", and cannot be this.

A state-political organisation is an organised quantity (though it does not organise the chief production relations of capitalism). It is a purposive subject. Its general aims are formulated in its laws (the system of standards is the system of aims). Its operative function is its politics. But it is far from following from this that these same aims cannot be looked upon as functions, while these functions can be looked upon in their historical arising, development and doom as causally conditioned phenomena. The full bottomless error of Kelsen's system is theoretically founded on the fact that the dialectic of freedom and necessity, of causality and teleology, is completely foreign to him. With him a teleological series swallows up "causal necessity", whilst he himself has to be explained on this very ground. Foreign to him also is the conception of the specific interrelations of "civic society" with its spontaneity, and of the capitalist state, the range of whose power is very limited by this spontaneity (e.g. the capitalist state and the economic crisis), and the very type of which (and from the point of view of its limitedness, also) is defined (causally determined) by the economic structure of capitalism.9) Kelsen's treatment of the state as a quantity having only an "ideal" existence, while the author here appeals to Marx who put the state in the superstructure, is based on the confusion of ideology and superstructure. The latter conception is the broader one. The state is a social-political superstructure, but the " material attributes " (arms, the whole material and technical basis of the apparatus of compulsion, prisons, etc.) and the human organisation (army, bureaucracy) can only be declared to be phenomena with "merely an ideal existence"10) from an obviously stupid standpoint. Kelsen's criticism of Marxism in other directions is impossibly feeble (although in his person we have one of the most eminent representatives of modern bourgeois political science), "Of course," he declares, "the modern state can be looked upon as a means for (Mittel zum Zweck) the economic exploitation of one class by another."11) But according to Kelsen this is not the root of the matter, for: (a) there have been states in which it was impossible to speak of economic exploitation as being essential to their content; (b) economic exploitation "is in no wise (keineswegs) the only aim of the modern state"12); (c) but in the first place a state organisation is conceivable (denkbar, our emphasis, N.B.) having as its object the prevention (Verhinderung) of economic exploitation; (d) this is expressed in the fact that the modern state which was not in a position to abolish exploitation by means of social legislation, nevertheless showed in this legislation a tendency "towards the liquidation (Aufhebung) of class opposition".13)

In this regard it is worth mentioning that (ad a) there were no such states à la longue; (ad b) it is impossible to confuse the "only" "aim" (it would be more accurate to say function), with the main "aim" to which the others are subordinated. The fact is that the main function is the guaranteeing of the process of exploitation, but this function is in its turn accompanied by others which have a derivative importance; (ad c) the "conceivable" state of Kelsen is self-contradictory and inconceivable, if we take as premise the class nature of the state, except for the proletarian dictatorship which is a state and riot a state at the same time, as we shall see below. But Kelsen is here in fact not speaking of proletarian dictatorship; (ad d) the reference to the modern bourgeois state is far from convincing; this state is a long way from manifesting these tendencies of which Herr Kelsen speaks. His statements in fact can only rest either on the recognition of the "tendency" towards a softening of the class struggle in general, which is decisively refuted by the facts, or on a non-class treatment of the state. It is aimed at showing the latest practice of the state.However, this practice also is fundamentally contradictory to his theory which is founded on facts from the period when the bourgeoisie manoeuvred and retreated (he turned this circumstance into a matter of principle, as being the "higher justice" of the "neutral" and "super-class" state). Consequently facts have reduced the whole theory of Kelsen to nothing. O. Spann in an essentially less interesting but more open fashion formulates the shabby basis of all idealist arguments against the Marxian theory of the state by connecting them with an "argumentation" against the materialist conception of history, which he reproaches for a "lack of true idealism". " So we see in the extremely pure working out of a preferential position for action, above all economic action, in regard to all spiritual things, which is characteristic of Marx's historical materialism, a legitimate mode of thought which is at bottom barbarous, since it is hostile to the spirit and to culture. Historical materialism is a system which devalues the innermost noble creations of culture, science, art, religion, morality, by seeing them as reflexes or 'superstructures' of purely economic processes of development."14) The causal explanation of a phenomenon, the discovery of its social genesis, means, according to this strange logic, its devaluation. To declare war on religious mediævalism is to declare oneself a barbarian. From this standpoint the acceptance of the Darwinian theory means to start howling like a wolf. However, "the irony of history"leads one to quite different facts and logical conclusions.

So state organisation strengthens a definite, historically derived, exploiting mode of production, being, according to its type, the expression of a specific, historical, social and economic structure. All the chief means of physical violence and spiritual enslavement are accumulated in the state organisation. The transition to a new economic formation, therefore, cannot take place without the overthrow of the ruling class, and consequently also, without the partial, and, during a proletarian revolution, the complete destruction of its state organisation. Victory over a class adversary implies the disorganisation of his main forces. Thus the social revolution is bound to have its political side. This most acute class struggle, passing over into civil war, has its fundamental objective conflict between the growth of productive forces and the form of productive relations, a conflict of which the decisive clash of classes is the subjective expression. So it is absolutely impossible to divorce the acute struggle from its catastrophic objective conditions in the economy of society, conditions which determine this struggle. Kelsen attacks the Marxian doctrine here also. His argument is as follows. The development of the " basis" (Unterbau) is a continuous evolutionary process, "ein Kontinuum". Every change is "a chain of infinitely small 'revolutions', each change is such a 'revolution'.15) Therefore there can only be revolution in the sphere of ideology, or, in other words, 'revolution' is a conception which can only be constituted in the sphere of standard, ethical and political or juridical analysis."16) It is not hard to expose the sophism of the small " revolutions ". Of course, the contradiction between continuity and interruption is immanent in the whole process of development and every change is a change of a qualitative character. But there are "leaps" and "leaps". There is "quality" and "quality". And it is this problem of quality and quality itself which entirely escapes Herr Kelsen. Capitalist society develops by contradictions all the time. It even passes through important phases of these changes (industrial capitalism, imperialism). But these changes are not of the same qualitative kind as the transition from capitalism to socialism. In the latter case the leap is one of another type which is immeasurably more "one of principle", one passing beyond the structural forms of capitalism in general, and the new quality is a quality of absolutely different measure. From the point of view of the capitalist system in general the new quality is only socialism and the leap is only the proletarian revolution. To put changes inside the capitalist system on one level with the liquidation of that system and the transition to socialism means not to see and not to understand the chief laws of the process. It is just because of this that it is impossible to dissolve revolution in evolution and to change the new form of the whole social being for the small cash of molecular changes of the usual evolutional type. The second chief mistake lies in the mechanical divorce from one another of the different aspects of vitally active society. The historical process is a contradictory but single process of the reproduction of social life. "Basis" and "superstructure" go through their vital circuit in a state of constant reciprocity and "submitting" to the single law of social development of the whole, which is also the determining law of the development of the basis. Therefore the very possibility that one part of social being is capable of causal examination and the other of standard and teleological examination (only!) is ruled out beforehand. It is impossible to drag revolution, as the victorious struggle of the proletariat against the bourgeoisie, as a "leap", out of the whole social and historical context. It is an "element" in the reproduction of social life, a reproduction only possible in its new historical and economic form. The fetters of the old productive relations must be broken (this is the basis and not "ideology", for the information of Herr Kelsen), the condition of which is the destruction of the state machine of the bourgeoisie. Here Marx emphasises just that destructive 17) process, the necessity for the proletariat " to concentrate against it (the state machine, N.B.) all the forces of destruction ".18) The question of the destruction of the state machine of the bourgeoisie or its utilisation by the proletariat is far from being one of terminology. Despite Kelsen, it has an immense importance both practically and theoretically. Theoretically, since it speaks of the peculiar law of the process, since it poses the question of the organisation of a new type of state (both in class content, in its organisational forms, and in the tendencies of its development). Practically, since it correspondingly directs the whole strategy and tactics of the proletariat. And along this line runs a bloody furrow between social-democracy and communism.


1. The main tendencies in capitalist development lead to a conflict between the development of productive forces which has prepared the material prerequisites of the new society (concentration of the means of production, socialisation of labour) and its capitalist husk (Hulle, Marx), a conflict of such intensity that this husk becomes incompatible with the further development of productive forces and therefore of society as a whole.

2. This conditions an extreme sharpening of class contradictions and tensity of class struggle. "The more or less concealed civil war within existing society" "is transformed into open revolution".19)

3. Concentrating all destructive forces against the state machine of the bourgeoisie, the proletariat violently smashes that machine.

4. It creates a new type of state, the dictatorship of the proletariat. The class struggle "inevitably leads to the dictatorship of the proletariat".

5. "The proletariat will use its political supremacy, to wrest, by degrees, all capital from the bourgeoisie, to centralise all instruments of production in the hands of the state, i.e. of the proletariat organised as the ruling class; and to increase the total productive forces as rapidly as possible." 20)

"Between capitalist and communist society," Marx wrote in The Critique of the Gotha Programme, "lies a period of revolutionary transformation from one to the other. There corresponds also to this a political transition period during which the state can be nothing else than the revolutionary dictatorship of the proletariat."21) We must dwell in the first place on the dictatorship of the proletariat from the point of view of the definition of the state organisation as being the general class organisation of rule which guarantees the process of economic exploitation. It is quite clear that it does not come under that definition. But this is far from implying that the state of the proletariat is divorced from its material economic basis. If the exploiting types of state power in all their variety of historical forms had as their main function the enlarged reproduction of productive relations on which they were based and of which they were the concentrated political expression, then the dictatorship of the proletariat has as its chief function the enlarged reproduction of new, socialist productive relations. If, for example, the capitalist state facilitated the eating up of pre-capitalist economic forms, then the dictatorship of the proletariat, after the expropriation of the expropriators, is a means for the further growth of socialist forms, a powerful lever for the liquidation and refashioning of capitalist and small property owning economic relations. But for the very reason that economic development in the transition period is nothing but the final disappearance of the relics of former economic formations and types, and so therefore of the relics of exploitation and of the material starting-points from which it arises, for this very reason the dictatorship of the proletariat bears within itself the seeds of its own dying away. So that even from the point of view of its economic function the dictatorship of the proletariat is both a state and not a state. It is the last historical form of the state in which it finally merges and dissolves into society.,Consequently: (1) it is the organ of the ruling class, the proletariat; (2) this organisation has as its economic function the enlarged reproduction of socialist productive relations; (3) it is the general, widest and universal organisation of the proletariat, directed by the advance guard, the party; (4) it monopolises all the means of physical compulsion and the spiritual refashioning of men; (5) its immediate function is the suppression of the resistance of the exploiters, their breaking up and liquidation; this function of decisive and merciless class struggle carried through to the end is, of course, the most important prerequisite for all that follows. Here, consequently, we have a relation of rule. But this relation is a vanishing quantity insofar as in the course of the class struggle classes themselves at a definite stage of development disappear. By drawing everyone into its direct organisation, the state ceases to be itself, and absorbing society into itself, itself dissolves into it without leaving a trace. Class rule over people is transformed into the classless administration of things. This process of the transition to the "administration of things" is conditioned by the fact that the dictatorship of the proletariat includes an absolutely specific relation between economics and politics and a tendency towards the liquidation of classes.

In the capitalist formation elemental and anarchic "civic society " is only embraced by the "political state" and is far from merging with it and organising the main forms of its movement, which in civil society are, private property, private arrangements between capitalist and worker, competition, irrationality, and in state organisation are, the representation of the interests of the capitalist class as a whole, a certain rationality, but a narrow one which does not reach the foundations of "civic society". Under the proletarian dictatorship the state merges more and more with economy. All the chief economic levers are in the hands of the proletarian state. State organisation is also economic organisation. The administration of socialist economy is a direct function of the state in its struggle to overcome class oppositions. So here we have a difference in principle in the relation between "society" and the "state", between "politics" and "economics", between the "administration of people" and the "administration of things". In such conditions the development of productive forces and the victorious course of the class struggle systematically prepare the transition to the swallowing up of the political functions of the state in administrative and economic functions, i.e. the transition to classless and stateless communist society. In this way, therefore, the dictatorship of the proletariat in all its main functions and tendencies of development can in no way march parallel with other types of state power, for, historically understood, it has already gone outside the limits of the state as such. Therefore Kelsen's attempts to refute the oppressive, exploiting character of the capitalist state by the example of proletarian dictatorship which destroys exploitation, are truly pitiful.22) Nor is the author's effort to construct a fatal contradiction between Marx's economic doctrine and his theory of proletarian dictatorship any more successful. Kelsen here advances the following kind of argument: (a) Marx's economic theory which has overcome the economic naïveté of Proudhon and the anarchists, leads to a view of communist economy as a centralised planned system which calls for compulsion, while at the same time a "clearly expressed anarchist ideal" is put forward in the political sphere; (b) there is not and cannot be any administration of things which is not also an administration of persons; (c) the relation of different human groupings to the problems of religion, art and "above all to erotic problems" will not only be shown in different points of view but also in vast conflicts calling for the interference of state power. Against this the following counter-arguments must be advanced: to (a) "stateless" and "anarchist" are only philosophically identical. The "anarchist ideal" in fact rejects centralisation. Stateless centralisation will be possible and historically inevitable, for the growth of productive forces leads to centralisation. The complex co-operation of men is quite conceivable without compulsion (an orchestra). The process of overcoming class oppositions, of "servile hierarchy" (Marx) and of the dying away of the state will create a self-discipline which little by little will not only push out the relics of class compulsion but also of authoritarianism in general. The centralisation of social functions is then only a state when it is given with a class characteristic; to (b) by administration of persons is meant the process of commanding them administratively, that is, of converting them into objects, into simple fulfillers of commands, which presupposes a hierarchy of persons, compulsion, submission. Insofar as these elements disappear the administration of persons in the sense of administrative command over them disappears also. Things also remain as objects, the means of production, the instruments of labour (the doctor does not administer the sick when he gives a prescription, the direction of an orchestra is not administration in the administrative com mand sense of the word); to (c) religion in communist society disappears altogether, for, since it is the reflection of a divided world and the projection into "heaven" of the "earthly" categories of the state, of subjection, it loses any basis for existence. As for "erotic problems" (here we see a little Freudian-Viennese "local colour" in Kelsen), they will certainly not come up for solution in any administrative manner. Indeed to imagine eroticism as a basis for state power in any way at all is to confess oneself completely ignorant of real historical processes.

Marx and Engels also approached the problem of the dying away of the state from the aspect of an analysis of the state as a parasitic growth on the social body. The sharper the class contradictions, the stronger the centrifugal forces splitting the relative unity of society, the larger is the state apparatus (the army, civil service, etc.), the more immense are the non-productive expenses on it, the real faux frais of exploiting social formations. The state is transformed into a force which stands above society, divided off from it, growing disproportionately even from the point of view of its own functions.

This peculiar hypertrophy of the state apparatus and its extreme bureaucratisation,23) this existence over society and those forces standing outside society, these monstrous nonproductive expenses, which arise out of the features of a specific (exploiting) social formation and are multiplied by the growth of. its inner contradictions, are destroyed in the first place, and in this destruction are already to be found the germs of the surmounting of the state.

It is the cri de mode at present to declare the ultimate aim of communism, as treated by Marx, to be an anarchistic ideal. If formerly Marx's virile theory, revolutionary from top to bottom, was put on a level with K. Rodbertus's Prussian landlord socialism and the national-"labour", semi-Bismarckian socialism of F. Lassalle, it is to-day frequently bracketed with the systems of Bismarck, Kropotkin, etc. Marx does in fact speak of anarchy in one place, in declaring that "all socialists understand by anarchy, the ultimate aim of the proletarian movement..."24) But one circumstance fundamentally distinguishes Marx's theory - it is a scientific theory. It tackles all problems from the point of view of development, of history, and not abstractly. So with Marx it is a question of the dictatorship of the proletariat as a transitional historical phase of development to communism and of different stages of the movement of society towards a stateless communist commune. This stateless (anarchic in this sense) society differs however in the highest degree from the federation of small communes of semi-handicraft character which anarchism has in mind and whose social genesis is very far from the deeply fundamental sections of the industrial proletariat. Marxism, on the other hand, has nothing in common with its pitiful social-fascist caricature which goes back ideologically to Lassalle, growing with all its shoots into the ideology of the fascist "national", "caste" and "corporative" state, with the proletariat completely enslaved to capital and its terrorist dictatorship, offered up under the pseudonym of the "nation" and the "whole", with an enormous number of various "simulacra" (the demagogic aspect of fascism) and "arcana dominationis".

The dictatorship of the proletariat as the autocracy of the working-class is simultaneously an inner class proletarian democracy, in opposition to bourgeois democracy, which, founded on capitalist property, exploitation and, consequently, on deep economic inequality, creates a whole system of democratic simulacra, i.e. of deceptive and disguised institutions of a formal juridical equality for all. Really this is a fiction, for economic inequality makes formal legal equality unrealisable. But the reality of these fictions is in their preventive and disguised functions which are very real. Even in the most democratic systems, which to-day largely belong to the historic past, the inner mechanism of state power fully guarantees the autocracy, i.e. the dictatorship, of the bourgeoisie, which has been analysed even by certain bourgeois authorities on the state, such as R. Michels,25) Ostrogorsky26) and others. The mechanism of parties, of small "cabinets", "caucuses" (in the U.S.A.), of "higher instances" behind the scenes, with the whole system of "arcana imperil", is the real machine, which, despite its determining importance and rôle in actual life, plays a very small part in its quality of object for the bourgeois theory of state law which analyses the system of numerous simulacra in the first place from the formally juridical point of view. The dictatorship of the proletariat has no need of such a system of fictions. It openly declares its class character and its functions which find expression in the consciousness of bourgeois political scientists as a recognition of the anti-democratic (but not anti-bourgeois, not proletarian democratic) character of proletarian dictatorship.

The dictatorship of the proletariat [declares, for instance, Hans Gmelin,]27) is a form of government (Regierunsform), according to which state power, in opposition to democracy, should not proceed from the whole people, but only from the classes which live by manual labour. Although the popular masses participating in state power are very numerous, nevertheless the dictatorship of the proletariat must be put on a level with aristocracies and oligarchies, since here also it is a question of the rôle of one class.

Marx exposed the real meaning of the theory of the "popular", "free" state, which is defended by vulgar democracy, in a merciless scientific analysis. On the other hand, the dictatorship of the proletariat, since it is the autocracy of the proletariat, really guarantees democracy to it, educating and refashioning both the proletariat itself, and its allies, for it "expropriates the expropriators "and builds socialism, raises the material and cultural level of life of the toilers by continually developing all their inner forces and potentialities and bringing nearer the destruction of the gap between mental and physical labour.28) It is only here that the "people" which in Plato's aristocratic state was treated as δηςίου ποιχίλου καί πολυχεφαλου (a motley and many-headed beast) shows itself, in the course of its historical refashioning, as the real creator and organiser of the new society which marks the transition "from the pre-history of man to his real history". With Marx, therefore, (1) there is a peculiar dialectic of dictatorship and democracy; (2) democracy itself is not treated in its extrahistorical abstraction whereby it is reduced to nothing, but in its historical, concrete, class particular form, which (3) in its turn is analysed from the point of view of the historical change in the means of production and the types of state power. Thus the dictatorship of the proletariat is a new, higher type of democracy, and is, moreover, such a type as by developing, finally destroys any kind of state power, that is to say, negates itself.

Dictatorship in general, and the dictatorship of the proletariat in particular, besides the autocracy of a class, implies a special factor of disconnection even in its own laws. In accordance with the "dictates of the moment" it lays down what must be the suitable actions from the standpoint of its tasks. It decides, above all.29) This bareness of function, and heightened "freedom of action", this twofold purpose, are particularly characteristic of the dictatorship of the proletariat, which comes forward with the visor of history thrown open. Bringing the whole administration of "national economy" into its apparatus, enriching and varying to the greatest possible extent its tasks, placing itself on a foundation of socialist economy of ever-increasing planned character, the dictatorship of the proletariat rationalises to the highest degree the vital process of society as a whole. The class struggle of the proletariat organised as the state power assumes a variety of forms, impregnating every sphere of social life, from technique to philosophy. This process of the transformation of society from a fractional-elemental condition into a rationalised and organised one, this conversion of subjectless society into society the subject, fundamentally changes the very type of law of social development. The relation between the causal and teleological sequence is changed. This does not mean that objective law and the objective laws of development disappear. But it does mean that they lose their character of a blind external force standing above man and opposing his actions. Developed communism is the conditional limit of development, on the law of which Marx wrote as follows:

Just as the savage must wrestle with nature, in order to satisfy his wants, in order to maintain his life and reproduce it, so civilised man has to do it, and he must do it in all forms of society and under all possible modes of production. With his development the realm of natural necessity expands, because his wants increase; but at the same time the forces of production increase, by which these wants are satisfied. The freedom in this field cannot consist of anything else but of the fact that socialised man, the associated producers, regulate their interchange with nature rationally, bring it under their common control, instead of being ruled by it as by some blind power; that they accomplish their task with the least expenditure of energy and under conditions most adequate to their human nature and most worthy of it. But it always remains a realm of necessity. Beyond it begins that development of human power, which is its own end, the true realm of freedom, which, however, can flourish only upon that realm of necessity as its basis. The shortening of the working day is its fundamental premise.... In fact, the realm of freedom does not commence until the point is passed where labour under the compulsion of necessity and of external utility is required. In the very nature of things it lies beyond the sphere of material production in the strict meaning of the term.30)

In other words the transition from capitalism to socialism is far from implying entry into the realm of pure chance or of pure "free will" on a social scale (indeterminism). It is far from implying the liquidation of the category of necessity, i.e. of objective law, which remains. The development of material production will always be subject to objective laws, like everything else on earth. But the destruction of anarchy in production and of irrationality in the productive process, i.e. the organisation of socialist production, its planned nature, its rational character ("general control")destroy the form of "blind" law, of law as a "blind force" ruling over men, external to them. Consequently, necessity here appears as freedom (" Freedom is the recognition of necessity"),the causal connection finds its direct teleological expression, ever more and more coinciding in its "volume". So, for example, in the economic plan, which is a system of lines of action (a system of standards, a teleological system), this causal necessity finds its direct expression. If we renounce "necessity"and "objective law" altogether, there instead of Marxism we get pure subjectivism and voluntarism. If we renounce the destruction of the "blindness" in law, the new interrelation between the causal and teleological sequence, then we get a mechanical transplantation of the categories of capitalism into socialism, that is to say, a bourgeois, liberal caricature of Marxism, utterly anti-dialectical, anti-historical. Therefore in the economic sphere, the product under socialism: ceases to be a commodity, the category of value ceases to exist, the blind "law of value" is destroyed, but there remains, in another relationship, of course (both qualitative and quantitative), the necessity of the distribution of social labour according to the, different spheres of social production. The plan, therefore, has its objective basis. In becoming more and more a scientific plan, it is more and more the expression of recognised necessity, which is freedom. But science itself would be objectless if there were no objective laws, since science has as its object precisely their analysis and theoretical expression, which becomes a direct instrument of practical action.

As we have seen, the state can be treated as an apparatus of state power and as society in its state form, i.e. with the inclusion and exclusion of the object of its action. The latter treatment can be applied particularly in regard to the dictatorship of the, proletariat because (a) the dictatorship of the proletariat does not' stand above society; (b) because economics here merge with ' politics; (c) politics (including economics) are rapidly objectivised on an immense scale as a current of the social and historical (and in the first place economic) process. Therefore the phases of development of the dictatorship of the proletariat are the phases of development of society as a whole towards communism through the class struggle.

The dictatorship of the proletariat, which includes elements of direct class struggle, both bloody and bloodless; of struggle and leadership over its allies, of the refashioning of technique, economy, people and their consciousness; their education, organisation, etc., means in the sphere of economics a constant growth of socialist, planned economy. From the point of view of relations between industry and agriculture it forces on the process of overcoming the opposition between town and country, the destruction of "the stupidity of village life", the outliving of property relations on the land. The development of the forces of production, emancipated by the revolution, which inevitably multiplies the technical and economic power of industry, cannot be reconciled with the backward form of production relationships in agriculture, a form which chemically isolates ever newer and newer elements of capitalism. It therefore holds up the whole development, since expanded industry creates such a demand for agricultural production as can be satisfied only by decisive changes in agriculture. Marx expressed this in an unusually sharp form in his letter to Engels of the 14th August, 1852: "The more I busy myself with this muck (he is referring to Proudhon. N.B.), the more I am convinced that a reform in agriculture, and consequently in the property abomination founded on it, is the alpha and omega of the coming revolution. Without it father Malthus will be right." 31)

The first phase of communism, which still bears the "birth marks" of the old society, is characterised by: (a) an incomplete development of productive forces; (b) the non-destruction as yet of the division between physical and mental labour; (c) distribution, not according to need but according to labour (which is inevitable at the given stage of development of productive forces); (d) the preservation of the relics of bourgeois law (an equal share of the product for an equal quantity of labour when there is inequality of ability and strength is an expression of inequality); (e) relics of hierarchy, subjection, the state. The higher phase of communist society which arises historically on the basis of the further growth of productive forces, goes outsid these limits.

In the higher phase of communist society, after the tyrannical; subordination of individuals, according to the division of labour, and and thereby also the distinction between mental and physical labour, has disappeared, after labour has become not merely a means to live but is in itself the first necessity of living, after the forces of production have also increased and all the springs of co-operative wealth are flowing more freely together with the all-round development of the individual, then and then only can the narrow bourgeois horizon of rights be left far behind and society will inscribe on its banner - "From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs."32)

The higher phase of communism is thus characterised by: (a) an exceptionally large development of the forces of production; (b) a vital and creative, absolutely free form of labour; (c) the destruction of the division of labour, i.e. of the eternal, "professions" and in particular of the opposition between mental, and physical labour; (d) the disappearance of all relics of class; division, of "servile hierarchy" (Marx), of subjection; (e) distribution according to needs as every kind of deficiency in products so far as needs are concerned passes away; (f) the destruction, (dying away) of the last relics of law and the state.

The deepest distinction between the Marxian statement of the problem and that of "all systems of the future" lies in its scientific and historical approach, in its analysis of the real tendencies of objective historical dialectics. With Marx there is no question, of any "scheme" of a rationally constructed "ideal society". He has a very stern attitude towards those splendid fantasies and sentimental ideologies which are fabricated out of illusory images." In discovering the laws of motion of capitalist society, Marx made vast historical forecasts, scientific forecasts, he foretold the inevitable doom of capitalism and the dictatorship of the proletariat on the basis of his analysis of the tendencies of capitalist development, and having given on this ground the chief features of the coming epoch, he sketched its inevitable stages of development, its fundamental forms in their historical tendency. There can therefore be nothing more commonplace than Sombart's definition that "socialism is practical social rationalism with anti-chrematistic tendencies", with its following subdivision into two further "chief groups" of socialism:

(1) Organic, morphological, tectonic, concrete, graphic, hierarchical, national, state socialism, whose representatives... are Plato, Campanella, Fichte, Saint-Simon, Rodbertus, and to a certain degree Fourier and Weitling also;

(2) Mechanical, amorphous, commonplace, abstract, invented, equalitarian, international, social socialism... to which in the first place Marx's socialism belongs.33)

The general definition of socialism given here is not only narrow but also wretchedly untrue, since it has nothing to say about the destruction of the process of exploitation, classes, etc. The demarcation into two groups does bring in certain real elements (state and socialised, nationalism and internationalism, etc.), but it mixes up absolutely different kinds of things and in important features is only a vulgar caricature of Marxism. The main point-historical dialectic-is omitted here. The distinction possessed by Marxist scientific communism as against all the "systems" of Utopian socialism, here disappears. Sombart "does not need" to understand the scientific forecast made by Marx, a forecast upon which the practice of the communist movement is based. Herr Kelsen, on the other hand, supposes socialism to be a "political theory", i.e. a system of standards put forward on a basis of "ethical and political postulates", whilst Marxism "being a political theory, assumes a mask of 'scientific and causal investigation'", and that is all.34) There is not, in all such "critical" arguments, a grain of comprehension of the dialectic of causality and teleology, of necessity and freedom, of theory and practice, etc. "Ethical" socialism is unproved, since there are various "ethical systems", various standards of behaviour, various aims and orientations each with a sharply defined class character. Here, being has completely determined consciousness, and to "prove", for example, the "desirability" of socialism from the point of view of the capitalist is stupid. However, a scientific analysis of capitalist society gives results which run in the same direction as the main orientation of the proletariat. This in turn is explained by the objective situation of the proletariat in capitalist society. But it is just this circumstance which makes theoretical analysis a weapon of practical activity, which in the communist movement blends theory with practice, converting this practice into scientific practice. From this point of view the party of scientific communism is the only party at all able to practise scientific politics, and thanks to this circumstance the birth-pangs of a new, socialist society are curtailed. The class movement of the proletariat obtains an absolutely exceptional theoretical backing. The theory of scientific communism which is the highest product of the self-consciousness of the proletariat, raises it to a level on which it recognises its historical rôle as a whole, as a subversive revolutionary force and creator of a new society, the organiser of the proletarian dictatorship, which liquidates itself by transformation into classless communist society.

If we now take Marx's theory as a whole, the vast edifice which begins with the theory of knowledge, the general laws of materialist dialectic, and ends with the doctrine of the transition period to communism, then it is not difficult to come to the conclusion that the world has never known such a scientific philosophical synthesis. The professional savants of the bourgeoisie who have now lost their heads at the thunder of the avalanches of history, have made many assaults on Marx, thinking to damage the practical side of his universal activity by carving this giant of genius into a learned man on the one hand and a revolutionary on the other. But in this they have simply shown the poverty and limitations of doctrinaires.

Marx showed by his whole life and activity that he was a great man of learning precisely because he was a great revolutionary. And he was a great revolutionary because he was a a great man of learning. His whole monumental theory is verified by unprecedented historical practice. The practical criterion of truth and correspondence with reality in regard to this virile, compact, grand theory, is applied on the scale of a world. revolution. What teaching, what conception, what doctrine; what "guide to action" ever knew such quantities, such qualities? Marx has given us an all-powerful weapon. This universal genius who has built up a creative synthesis of all the conquests of thought has also given us an unprecedented synthesis of theory and practice. And if the creator of dialectical materialism, of the materialist conception of history, the creator of the Communist Manifesto and of Capital was also the organiser and leader of the First International, a leader and sage, a first-class strategist and tactician of revolutionary struggle, then his doctrine, enriched and developed by his glorious successors, is also a weapon of revolution, of the destruction of the old and the building of the new.

After the death of Marx, who saw only the first germs of monopolist capitalism, these germs grew, creating a whole new stage in the development of capital, its last, imperialist stage. It brought all the contradictions of capitalism to an extreme point. The most catastrophic epoch of all began, the epoch of imperialist wars and proletarian revolutions. This epoch caused a further development and inner enrichment of Marxism, its conversion into Marxism-Leninism. Lenin, on the basis of a great scientific work, of the experience of great historical events, on the basis of the practice of the revolutionary movement and of immense class battles, on the basis of the proletarian revolution in Russia and of mass movements in the home countries and colonies of all lands, created a new stage in the theory of Marxism. His teachings on imperialism, on the dictatorship of the proletariat and Soviet power as its form, on the allies of the proletariat (the peasantry in the first place) and the hegemony of the proletariat, on the rôle of the party, on the national question, the colonies, etc., were given such a high theoretical refashioning and brought out so much that was new, as to carry forward the whole theory of Marx. Revolutionary Marxism is to-day only Marxism-Leninism. After Lenin's death the part of theoretical and practical leader fell to Stalin. Stalin, on the basis of an experience of socialist construction unprecedented in scale, of the industrialisation of and immense revolution in agriculture, together with the "destruction of the property monstrosity" in land, on the basis of a sharp class struggle against the relics of the capitalist classes, made a whole series of fresh theoretical generalisations which are to-day a force directing the complex practical work of the party. Marx's doctrine has grown in both its content and its rôle in history. Millions follow this teaching which will live and develop along with the forward movement of the victorious fighting armies of the proletariat. In the struggle against the fascist barbarians, who cast a dark and bloody shadow over the world of culture, in the struggle against the falsifiers of Marxism, in the struggle against degenerate and treacherous social-democracy, the Communist International and its advance guard, the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, the centre of Marxist thought and Marxist practice, leads the masses to the world dictatorship of the proletariat and the fraternal world Commune of classless humanity.


1) B. A. Kistyakovsky, The Social Sciences and Law. Essays in the Methodology of the Social Sciences and the General Theory of Law. Moscow, 1916.

2) F. Engels, Origin of the Family, Private Property and the State. See also, Anti-Dühring; Marx, Critique of Political Economy; Poverty of Philosophy; Critique of the Gotha Programme; Civil War in France; Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte. Marx and Engels, Preface to Communist Manifesto of 24/vi/1872; Engels, Dell 'Autorita; Engels, Letters to Bebel, Critique of the Erfurt Programme, etc. A work of the same genius is Lenin's State and Revolution.

3) Lenin, State and Revolution.

4) For real commonplaces on the state see Harold Laski, A Grammar of Politics, London, 1925. "From such an outlook we may derive a sense of the purpose embodied in the state. In this aspect it becomes an organisation for enabling the mass of men to realise social good on the largest possible scale." Or, "From such a standpoint, the problem of political obligation can, of course, be easily resolved. We obey the state because in the end it most truly represents ourselves."

5) Marx, Works, Vol. III, p. 11.

6) Marx, Poverty of Philosophy.

7) See Marx and Engels, Archiv., I, p. 251-2.

8) G. Jellinek, Allgemeine Staatslehre, 3 Aufl, Berlin, 1914, pp. 195-6.

9) See Marx's speech during the trial of the "Neue Rheinische Zeitung", Works, Vol. III, p. 254.

10) See H. Kelsen, Sozialismus and Staat, 2 Aufl., Leipzig, 1923, p. 11, footnote.

11) Kelsen, loc. cit., pp. 13-14.

12) Ibid., p. 14.

13) Ibid.

14) O. Spann, Gesellschaftslehre, p. 147.

15) Kelsen, loc. cit., p. 61, footnote.

16) Ibid., p. 59, footnote.

17) Marx, Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte; Marx, Letter to Kugelmann of 12th April, 1871; Marx and Engels, Preface to Communist Manifesto of 24th June, 1872, etc.

18) Marx, Eighteenth Brumaire.

19) Marx and Engels, Communist Manifesto.

20) Ibid.

21) Marx, Critique of the Gotha Programme, London and New York, 1933.

22) H. Kelsen, loc. cit., pp. 41, 43 (footnote), 44.

23) K. Marx, Eighteenth Brumaire.

24) K. Marx, Les prétendues scissions de l'Internationale, 1872, p. 72 "tous les socialistes entendent par l'anarchie ceci: le but du mouvement proletaire, l'abolition des classes, une fois atteint, le pouvoir de l'Etat, qui sert à maintenir la grande majorité productrice sous le joug dune minorité exploitante peu nombreuse, disparait, et les fonctionsgouvernementales se transforment en de simples fonctions administratives."

25) R. Michels, Zur Soziologie der Parteiwesens, Leipzig, 1910.

26) M. Ostrogorsky, Democracy and Political Parties.

27) Hans Gmelin, Diktatur des Proletariats, Politisches Handwörterbuch, hg. von Paul Herre, Leipzig, Verl von Koehler, 1923.

28) "The dialectic of development is as follows: from absolutism to bourgeois democracy; from bourgeois democracy to proletarian, from proletarian to none at all." See Lenin on Critique of the Gotha Programme.

29) C. Schmitt, loc. cit.

30) K. Marx, Capital, Vol. III.

31) Correspondence of Marx and Engels.

32) Marx, Critique of the Gotha Programme.

33) W. Sombart, Grundlagen and Kritik des Sozialismus. Berlin, 1919. 1. Teil, pp. vii, viii.

34) H. Kelsen, loc. cit., pp. 4, 5.