The Latest Deception by Gabriel Miasnikov 1930
“The first step in the revolution by the working class is to raise the proletariat to the position of ruling class to win the battle of democracy”, Marx and Engels wrote in the Manifesto.
A proletarian revolution is a revolution in which, in its first stage, the proletariat is transformed into the ruling class, assuming control over production and distribution.
How can the proletariat become the ruling class? How should it organize to achieve this goal?
In the Manifesto, Marx and Engels write that in order to fulfill its historic mission as gravedigger of the bourgeoisie, the proletariat cannot organize as a class except by way of association. This means that only if all the proletarians are collectively engaged will the proletariat successfully attain the level of ruling class and seize all the functions of management of production and distribution that were in the hands of the bourgeoisie prior to the advent of the proletarian revolution, which will transform it into the economically dominant class. By seizing control over the entire apparatus of the administration of production and distribution, by transferring this apparatus into the hands of all the associated producers, the proletariat would not thereby cease to be the productive class that labors, a collective that labors.
This proletariat, collectively organized, manages production and is itself responsible for overseeing the labor process. This self-organization, this self-managed labor, Marx referred to as workers cooperation, as a corporation, a college.
By studying the experience of the Paris Commune, Marx and Engels were able to provide a clear and practical explanation of what they understood by the idea of the proletariat becoming the ruling class.
“… by far the most important decree of the Commune instituted an organization of large-scale industry and even of manufacture which was to not only be based on the association of the workers in each factory, but also to combine all these associations in one great union; in short, an organization which, as Marx quite rightly says in The Civil War, must necessarily have led in the end to communism, that is to say, the direct opposite of the Proudhon doctrine.” (Engels, Preface to The Civil War in France).
Marx and Engels categorically stated that only this kind of proletarian organization, under the form of Councils of Workers Delegates in the workplaces, united into one immense trade union that would embrace all the factory and workshop councils, would necessarily lead to communism.
“Its true secret was this. It was essentially a working-class government, the produce of the struggle of the producing against the appropriating class, the political form at last discovered under which to work out the economic emancipation of labour.”
“Except on this last condition, the Communal Constitution would have been an impossibility and a delusion. The political rule of the producer cannot coexist with the perpetuation of his social slavery. The Commune was therefore to serve as a lever for uprooting the economical foundations upon which rests the existence of classes, and therefore of class rule.” (Marx, The Civil War in France).
The all-inclusive collective “association” of the proletariat of all workplaces eliminated the power of the bourgeois owners and exploiters. Organized in a collective association, in the Councils of Workers Delegates in the workplaces, the proletariat assumed control over production, thus transforming this association into the “foundation” of the State. This is how the economic foundations upon which the very existence of classes and therefore class rule is based is overthrown. Without these conditions, the Commune (the Workers State) is inconceivable, it would be an empty shell and would be transformed into an imposture. The secret of the Commune consists in the fact that it was the “associations” of the proletariat that administered production and the organization of labor. An organization like the Councils of Workers Delegates in the workplaces would thus necessarily lead to communism. This is the long-sought form of political organization that will make the economic liberation of labor possible. This is the only road to communism.
In The State and Revolution Lenin wrote:
“A witty German Social-Democrat of the seventies of the last century called the postal service an example of the socialist economic system. This is very true. At the present the postal service is a business organized on the lines of state-capitalist monopoly. Imperialism is gradually transforming all trusts into organizations of a similar type, in which, standing over the ‘common’ people, who are overworked and starved, one has the same bourgeois bureaucracy. But the mechanism of social management is here already to hand. Once we have overthrown the capitalists, crushed the resistance of these exploiters with the iron hand of the armed workers, and smashed the bureaucratic machinery of the modern state, we shall have a splendidly-equipped mechanism, freed from the ‘parasite’, a mechanism which can very well be set going by the united workers themselves, who will hire technicians, foremen and accountants, and pay them all, as indeed all ‘state’ officials in general, workmen’s wages. Here is a concrete, practical task which can immediately be fulfilled in relation to all trusts, a task whose fulfillment will rid the working people of exploitation, a task which takes account of what the Commune had already begun to practice (particularly in building up the state).
“[…] This is what will bring about the abolition of parliamentarism and the preservation of representative institutions [that is, the Soviets]. This is what will rid the laboring classes of the bourgeoisie’s prostitution of these institutions.”
In his debate with Lenin on the question of the proletarian State, Kautsky says:
“‘The most varied form of enterprises—bureaucratic [??], trade unionist, co-operative, private... can exist side by side in socialist society…. There are, for example, enterprises which cannot do without a bureaucratic [??] organization, such as the railways. Here the democratic organization may take the following shape: the workers elect delegates who form a sort of parliament, which establishes the working regulations and supervises the management of the bureaucratic apparatus. The management of other countries may be transferred to the trade unions, and still others may become co-operative enterprises’.” [Interpolated question marks are Lenin’s additions].
That is what Kautsky said.
“This argument is erroneous”, Lenin objects; “it is a step backward compared with the explanations Marx and Engels gave in the seventies, using the lessons of the Commune as an example.
“As far as the supposedly necessary ‘bureaucratic’ organization is concerned, there is no difference whatever between a railway and any other enterprise in large-scale machine industry, any factory, large shop, or large-scale capitalist agricultural enterprise. The technique of all these enterprises makes absolutely imperative the strictest discipline, the utmost precision on the part of everyone in carry out his allotted task, for otherwise the whole enterprise may come to a stop, or machinery or the finished product may be damaged. In all these enterprises the workers will, of course, ‘elect delegates who will form a sort of parliament’ [that is, Soviets].”
As we can see, Lenin, when he was a Marxist revolutionary, did not conceive of a proletarian State without Workers Councils, without that “association” by means of which the proletariat administers production instead of the bourgeoisie, after the latter is defeated. Following Marx and Engels, Lenin saw in these Councils “the political form at last discovered under which to work out the economic emancipation of labour”. And “except on this last condition, the Communal Constitution would have been an impossibility and a delusion”.
Stalin, Bukharin & Co., however, are devoted to hauling off to the dungeons of the GPU, under the accusation of being counterrevolutionaries, all workers who have the audacity to talk about organizing these Councils. And yet they still dare to call themselves Marxist-Leninists! And the bureaucracy that administers production and the State, as well as the whole bureaucratic apparatus—they call that a workers State! Woe to anyone who would dare to deny it.
We, the workers, who operate the productive apparatus that has been bequeathed to us by capitalism and relying on our experience as workers, will institute a strict, iron discipline by way of the State power of the armed workers [that is, the Soviets]; we shall reduce the role of public officials to that of mere executive agents of our directives, to the role of “foremen and accountants”, all of whom will be responsible to the rank and file, recallable at any time and modestly paid (preserving, of course, every type of specialist, of every variety and category); this is our proletarian task, and it is on this basis that we can and must begin the realization of the proletarian revolution.
In the Manifesto, Marx and Engels stated that “the first step in the revolution by the working class is to raise the proletariat to the position of ruling class to win the battle of democracy”, and Lenin added that the starting point, after the victory of the proletarian revolution, is the transformation of the Councils into the administrative organs of production and the foundation of the State.
The leaders of the bureaucracy, Stalin, Bukharin & Co., drafted the program of the Komintern, which never even once mentions that the proletariat as a class, organized into Councils, can become the ruling class. But if the proletariat reminds them of their betrayal of Marxism, then comes repression, to the great joy of the gangster bureaucrats.