Ernest Mandel

Dictatorship of the Proletariat
and Socialist Democracy


Document drafted by Ernest Mandel in 1977.
After discussion and revision it was adopted by the 11th World Congress of the Fourth International, 1979.
After further modification it was also adopted in the present form at the 12th Congress of the Fourth International in January 1985.
Copied with thanks from the Ernest Mandel Internet Archive.
Also available online at the Fourth International Website.
Marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Marxists’ Internet Archive.

THE CURRENT debate in the international labour movement over differing conceptions of socialist democracy and the dictatorship of the proletariat is the most deep-going since the years following the Russian revolution of October 1917. It is a product of the growth of workers’ struggles in the capitalist countries since 1968 and of the anti-imperialist struggles, of the parallel crisis of capitalism and the rule of the bureaucratic castes over the bureaucratised workers’ states. It is likewise a product of the awareness, inside the international working class, of Stalinism and of bureaucracy in general. All these factors take the debate out of the realm of more or less academic polemics into the field of practical politics. A clear position on this question is required to advance the socialist revolution in the capitalist countries and the political revolution in the bureaucratised workers’ states. It is therefore necessary for the Fourth International to state its programmatic positions on this subject. (red. International Viewpoint)


I. What is the dictatorship of the proletariat?

II. Workers-council power and the extension of democratic rights for the toiling masses

III. Class struggle under capitalism, the struggle for democratic rights,
and the emergence of the dictatorship of the proletariat

IV. One-party and multi-party systems

V. What do political parties represent?

VI. The need for a revolutionary vanguard party

VII. A clear stand on socialist democracy is necessary
to win the proletariat for the socialist revolution

VIII. Why has this programme of socialist democracy
not been widely realised up till now?

IX. In response to dogmas of Stalinist origin

X. The self-defence of the workers’ state

XI. International revolution and international counter-revolution

XII. The bureaucratised workers’ states, the dictatorship of the proletariat,
and the rise of political anti-bureaucratic revolution

XIII. The programme of socialist democracy – an integral part
of the programme of world revolution


Last updated on 23 April 2021