The Latest Deception by Gabriel Miasnikov 1930

7. Proletarian democracy is the tomb of the bureaucracy

During the early years of Bolshevism, in July 1904, a conference was held that was attended by 22 Bolsheviks. At this conference the following resolution was approved:

“The Rules to provide guarantees that Party struggles are conducted by Party methods.”

“That this reform is essential is shown by the entire experience of the post-Congress struggle. It is necessary to include in the Party Rules guarantees of the rights of any minority, so that the disagreements, dissatisfactions, and irritations that will constantly and unavoidably arise may be diverted from the old, philistine, circle channels of rows and squabbling into the still unaccustomed channels of a constitutional and dignified struggle for one’s convictions. Among the conditions needed for such a change we class the following. The minority should be allowed one or more writers’ groups, with the right to be represented at congresses; the widest formal guarantees should be given as regards publication of Party literature criticising the activities of the central Party institutions. The right of the committees to receive (through the general Party transport system) the particular Party publications they desire should be formally recognised. The limits of the Central Committee’s right to influence the personal composition of the committees should be precisely defined.” Compilation of the Resolutions of the Congresses and Conferences of the CPSU(b) 1898-1926, Gosizdat, p. 30.

And what does this document tell you, esteemed bureaucrats? Hello?! Are you there? Stalin! Bukharin! Do not try to hide from us behind the GPU, just tell us what you think of this resolution of the Bolsheviks! Does it not grant rights to the minority or to the minority groups to engage in the battle of ideas against the majority, so that the minorities can criticize the actions of the majority, the theory and the practice of the superior institutions of the party, and even at the congresses? Where exactly does it say that groups and militants are prohibited from criticizing the superior committees? What exactly was the intention of the Bolsheviks? Tell us, infallible leaders of the party!

That’s right! The Bolsheviks were not afraid of criticism, or of counter-criticism, or their consequences. Down with all icons! There is no prohibition of criticism in the congresses, conferences, local or central committees. To the contrary! The Bolsheviks had the courage to protect the exercise of a comprehensive right of minorities to publish texts directed against the party’s institutions, and thus sought to fortify the struggle, to keep it free and clear of all charlatanry, all gossip and all scandal, to situate it at the level that is in conformance with a struggle of convictions. What does Bolshevism have in common with the stupid conduct of sub-commandant Prichibeev[18] and of Stalin, Bukharin & Co.?

We must ask ourselves what happened to those guarantees that were proposed for insertion into the party constitution, to which those 22 Bolsheviks referred. At the next congress the statutes were revised and “guarantees for the rights of minorities” were introduced: “The Central Committee must convoke a congress within the next two months if the organizations of the party request it to do so and if these organizations obtain the support of at least half the votes of the congress delegates. If the Central Committee refuses to convoke this congress at the request of half of the committees, a conference of representatives of the committees with the right to vote will have the option of electing an organizational committee that will convoke the congress. This organizational committee will have the same rights as the Central Committee.” Thus, the minority groups would have the guarantee that, if their criticisms of the superior institutions of the party gain the support of half of the party members (this proportion was later reduced to one-third), they would have the right to convoke an extraordinary congress. And if the Central Committee refuses to authorize such a congress, these groups would have the right to form an organizational committee, and without the authorization, and in direct defiance, of the Central Committee, it would itself have the right to convoke the congress. These were the statutory guarantees and rights of minorities. And these guarantees and rights were in force right up until 1921. Between 1905 and 1917, this Bolshevik practice passed through the crucible of three revolutions. The internal structure of the party was strictly bound to the living forces of the revolution, and this led to the greatest and most glorious victories that the world has ever seen.

What does this Bolshevism have in common with the grotesque parody enacted by Stalin, Bukharin & Co.?

After the coup d’état, for which the foundations were laid by the change in the correlation of forces between the classes between 1917 and 1920, which favored the petty bourgeoisie, the proletariat was overthrown from its dominant position and was replaced by the bureaucracy, a situation that was formally recognized during the 9th Congress of the CPSU, which permitted the abandonment of the elective and collegial principles in the administration of industry and introduced the appointment system of one-man management; it was after the successful execution of the coup d’état, answering to the aspirations of the bureaucracy for one-party dictatorship, at the 10th Congress, when a motion was introduced, no longer seeking to guarantee the rights of minorities, no longer for the purpose of guaranteeing the rights of one or more groups to criticize the theory and practice of the superior institutions of the party, but instead to prohibit the organization of groups or fractions. This motion was presented amidst a flood of vacuous words about workers democracy in the party, about the right of all party members to engage in criticism, etc., and so forth. You may engage in criticism, comrades, but not collectively, not in groups, you may criticize, but without a program, without any reference points and without a platform. But this means precisely to deprive the party militants of all right to criticism, while they are allowed the right to gossip, to say foolish things, to engage in intrigue and calumny. And since then, every year, and sometimes twice a year, motions are proposed concerning internal party democracy, freedom of criticism, and the absence of elections. But it is only by returning to the revolutionary traditions of revolutionary Marxism (Bolshevism), which regulated the life of the party from its inception up until 1921, that proletarian democracy can be restored to the party. To accomplish this, however, a proletarian party is necessary, not a bureaucratic party. “That which was born to crawl, cannot fly.”

Let us now examine the question of elections. An election takes place when there is a choice to make. If you go into a store and they only have one brand of cigarettes, you do not have a choice. When there is only one way of viewing the world, one program, a single political line, and it is prohibited to suggest any other, one has no choice but to choose that program, that political system and that way of life. Whether or not one votes, whether one elects Tom, Dick or Harry, or anyone else, the political line, the system and the program will not change. Such elections are without interest and constitute a truly bureaucratic and empty formality, by means of which the bureaucracy is granted the formal right to exercise its dictatorship and to rule in exactly the same way as before. That is exactly what it means when they talk about “electing all the officials of the party”, and the same is true of the elections in the trade unions, the cooperatives and the workers Councils and the other institutions.

When the only party, the party of the bureaucracy, participates in elections, it will win a majority, whether or not it wins the majority of the votes. And if some honest, non-party individuals are also elected, it is only because the bureaucracy needs them to back up its demagogy: “Of course they were free elections, even people who are not members of the party were elected”, it will loudly proclaim.

In actuality, however, no segment of the population—not the proletariat, not the peasantry, not the intelligentsia—has the right to participate in an organized manner in the elections, whether as a group or as a party, with a program or a tactic that would be opposed to the party of the bureaucrats. It is not possible to have any influence in elections unless you are organized. What would the bureaucracy have to say about elections to the Reichstag if the only party that had the right to participate in the elections was the racist party? What would the bureaucracy say about the majority of the vote that it would surely obtain? And if in Germany there were a State Capitalist system, if the bourgeoisie had been annihilated, if all the medium-sized and large enterprises had been placed under the control of the State, managed by directors, foremen, etc., appointed by the party, and if the Teutons (the German fascists) were to have concentrated into their hands all the resources of industry, commerce, transport, the means of communication, the press, buildings, etc., and everything else; if, year after year, every election to State institutions was won by Teutonic candidates, except for a handful of non-party persons (honest persons!), then what would the bureaucrats say? How would they characterize the German system? A workers State and proletarian democracy? The Teutons would say that it is socialism and that they are advancing towards communism. What is really happening, however, is that the proletariat elects one or another member of the ruling class to represent and oppress it, lending legitimacy and prestige to the all-powerful bureaucracy. Many comrades have been so completely immobilized by the bureaucracy’s “theory”, according to which the class dictatorship is one-party rule and that all other parties must be excluded, that they have become incapable of recovering a Marxist position on these questions. They say: “I agree, we do not have a workers State, but a bureaucratic State, but it will be a workers State when we act totally in accordance with Marx: the Soviets will assume responsibility for production, the cooperatives will administer commerce, the trade unions will undertake the tasks of the Rabkrin and the Soviets, besides administering production, will begin to govern the country, the State, both the Soviets of peasant delegates as well as the urban Soviets. But who will lead the proletariat? The party? Yes, the party. Then this means that the dictatorship of the proletariat will once again become the dictatorship of the party!” This is completely senseless.

The proletarian State cannot exist without various political parties, so that first one, then another, and then a third, and all the others when their time comes, will direct the State at any given moment. And this does not at all mean that once one of these parties has taken power it must deprive the population, including the proletariat, of the right to form parties (freedom of association). To the contrary. The peasants, who in bourgeois society had the right to form parties, that is, they had freedom of expression and of the press, will not lose these rights and freedoms in a proletarian State. If we are to claim the support of the peasants, how can we deprive them of what they had already enjoyed in bourgeois society? If all the speeches about the alliance or the united front between the proletariat and the peasantry are supposed to be more than just empty words and lies, then we have to build this alliance on the basis of the common interests of the proletariat and the peasantry. And it is clear that the peasantry has an interest, a vital interest, in preserving its rights and liberties, including its freedom of association, at least at the same level that its counterparts enjoy in bourgeois States. Maybe it will have its own party, or maybe it will have several. The task of the proletariat is not to deprive the peasantry of its rights and liberties, but to ensure that it has access to the material conditions that will allow it to exercise these rights and liberties—printing presses, paper, transport, means of communication and office space—with the same opportunities as the workers parties. Furthermore, a workers party, if it really is a workers party, cannot set itself the goal of depriving the proletariat of its rights and liberties. To the contrary, it is a workers party precisely because it fights for the rights and liberties of the proletariat. A party that, for whatever reason, takes away from the proletariat its rights and liberties, ceases to be a workers party. When the proletariat unleashes its struggle against the bourgeois State, a difficult struggle that demands numerous sacrifices, it does not do so because it wants to deprive itself of the rights and liberties which it enjoyed under a bourgeois State—freedom of expression, of the press, etc. To the contrary, it fights to obtain new rights and liberties, to surpass the narrow constraints of the rights and liberties of the old bourgeois society and to considerably augment them on its own account. Along with the legal recognition of the rights and liberties conceded by the bourgeois State (freedom of expression, of the press, etc.), the proletarian State will reinforce these rights with material means, supplying all the parties with presses, paper, office space, transport and means of communication. This is what distinguishes proletarian democracy from bourgeois or bureaucratic democracy. In addition, the multi-party form of government would serve as a bulwark against the seizure of power by one party and also against any party that, having taken power, changes from the servant of the people to their master, exploiter and oppressor.

But is it not possible for these proletarian liberties to be used as weapons to overthrow the proletariat? No. For this reason. First, the workers State is the most progressive form of State that has ever existed, the most complete guarantee of the interests of all the workers and of humanity as a whole, offering an unprecedented field of action for the development of the productive forces. This means that the danger does not come from the classes that represent the future, but from those that belong to the past. In England, for example, where the proletarians constitute 90% of the population and the bourgeoisie 5%, the proletariat is exploited and oppressed by that 5%. There are various parties, among them the Communist Party, whose goal is the armed defeat of the bourgeoisie, and there are also anarchists and syndicalists who share this goal. These parties are legal. Together with these revolutionary parties there are also right wing parties, bourgeois parties, a conservative party, a liberal party, a labor party and an independent labor party. And why is the bourgeoisie so powerful? Because all the material means are in its hands and by way of its economic rule it succeeds in subjecting the proletariat spiritually and politically; of the 90% of the population that is proletarian, only 5% vote for the Communist Party.

Let us imagine a different scenario. The proletariat has become the ruling class in England, it possesses all the material means of production and has consolidated its rule in the State. Henceforth, the Soviets administer production and the political affairs of the country, the cooperatives are in charge of distribution and the trade unions exercise supervisory control over the State. If the bourgeoisie—who represent 5% of the population and who previously controlled all the means of production, distribution, transport, etc., which are now controlled by the proletariat—had for centuries upheld its rule without needing to formally abolish the proletarian organizations, then the proletariat, which represents 90% of the population and now possesses all that previously belonged to the bourgeoisie, will certainly not need to abolish the organizations of the bourgeoisie. The legal existence of the bourgeois parties in a proletarian State would be much less dangerous for the proletariat than the existence of proletarian parties would be for the bourgeoisie in a bourgeois State. This is how the problem must be posed, although this scenario is obviously situated after the civil war, when the exploiters have been defeated. And if certain considerations of a military or political character make it necessary to suspend these rights and liberties (freedom of expression, of the press, etc.) and to place restrictions on everything else that can help or be used by the enemies of the proletariat who orchestrate the armed struggle against the proletariat, then it will have to do so with a firm hand and without any hesitation.

Thus, the multi-party form of rule completely guarantees the interests of the proletariat, the peasantry and the intelligentsia and of all the workers, paving the way to a considerable development of the productive forces of the workers State, transforming society into an immense corporation, an immense factory, transforming all of society into a free “association of producers in which the happiness of the individual is inseparable from the happiness of all”, a society that leads to communism, to the disappearance of the State, from the dictatorship, from democracy and from the political parties. If 30 parties running candidates for parliament do not constitute a threat to the bourgeoisie, then the proletariat certainly will not be endangered by the fact that the elections to the Councils, the rural and urban Soviets, the leading committees of the cooperatives, the trade unions, etc., are contested by 300 parties.

The bureaucracy opposes all criticism that would challenge its universal rule, all criticism that would represent an attempt to raise the proletariat to the status of ruling class, all criticism that would go beyond minor sniping and personal attacks—against such as the artyomovists, the smolenskists, etc.—and would challenge the general line of the bureaucracy led by the Politburo of the Central Committee of the CPSU(b), which set the stage for this tedious campaign after the affairs of Artyomovsk and Smolensk. The bureaucracy strikes back against any criticism whose purpose is to put an end to its dictatorship and its all-encompassing power. It will fight such criticism with all the means at its disposal: secret repression, prison, calumny, provocations and lies, dissimulating its repression under a copious verbiage concerning the “freedom of criticism” and “self-criticism”.

All of this blah-blah-blah about “self-criticism” and “freedom of criticism” is one of the methods that the bureaucracy uses to fool the proletariat and the peasantry and to reinforce its bureaucratic rule. “Freedom of criticism” and “self-criticism” litter the Komsomolskaya Pravda from one end to the other, in excessive and tedious abundance, at the same time that this newspaper is leading the chorus for sanctions against workers, peasants and intellectuals whose positions differ from those of the bureaucracy of the Politburo of the Central Committee of the CPSU(b).

And who are those who, deafened by these slogans about “freedom of criticism” and “self-criticism”, languish in prison or in internal deportation without ever having been tried or convicted in a real court of law, those whose road led them to Berezovka, Obdorsk and Turujansk,[19] where a slow-motion death sentence awaits them? Are they not those same proletarians, peasants and intellectuals who dared to criticize this system of all-embracing power, of violence and of bureaucratic impunity and arbitrariness?

“We must make the broad masses of workers participate in this purgative self-criticism, in the elimination of all the obstacles that stand in the way of the road to freedom of criticism”, according to the Komsomolskaya Pravda (“Open Season on Bureaucratism by way of Criticism”, June 13, 1928). But what are these “obstacles that stand in the way of the road to freedom of criticism”? First of all, the secret repression against the dissident workers, peasants and intellectuals in the dungeons of the GPU. Then, the absence of a right to engage in organized, systematic and comprehensive criticism, as a group or party. The third “obstacle” is the fact that the right of criticism from their own point of view, on the basis of their own platform or program, is denied to the workers, peasants and intellectuals, and so is the right to publish magazines or books that are not official or social-bureaucratic publications.

Honorable bureaucrat editors of Komsomolskaya Pravda, are you in favor of eliminating these “obstacles”?

Or perhaps you would prefer, you bureaucrat editors of the newspapers and magazines, to loudly proclaim your support for the “elimination of all the obstacles that stand in the way of freedom of criticism” while, serenaded by your noise, the bureaucrats in charge of the dungeons of the GPU listen to the screams of the workers, peasants and intellectuals who do not agree with you, you bureaucratic scribblers of editorials (such as those of Komsomolskaya Pravda)?

Do you expect that the workers will allow themselves to be fooled by all this claptrap about “freedom of criticism”? No, this second-hand sophistry will not succeed!

“The problem is that many workers do not believe that there is no risk in criticizing the leadership, and even more importantly, that the ‘exercise of criticism’ is not dangerous. When the bureaucrat of the past, cut according to a standard pattern and a petty tyrant, is completely transformed overnight into a faithful devotee of self-criticism, the worker cannot immediately trust him and surrender his soul to him”, according to Komsomolskaya Pravda. We could not agree more. The workers cannot trust the bureaucrat who is cut according to the standard pattern of the past, nor can he trust the bureaucrat cut according to the standard patter of our time, the bureaucrat who only abides by the division of labor: one is responsible for the dissident workers, peasants and intellectuals in the silence of the dungeons of the GPU, secretly, hidden from the sight of the proletariat, while the other, cut according to the standard pattern of newspaper editors, writes that we have freedom of criticism and conceals the activities of the GPU. Not so long ago, the bureaucrats cut according to the pattern of Komsomolskaya Pravda were calling for sanctions against the opposition and against all the workers, peasants and intellectuals who had adopted a position of organized criticism against the bureaucratic dictatorship, against its violence and its impunity, but today this flock of scribblers frantically agitates for “freedom of criticism” and lauds the “faithful devotees of self-criticism” and sheds tears because “the problem is that many workers do not believe that there is no risk in criticizing” and have no trust at all in this bureaucratic rehash in the latest style. Good. You are completely correct, comrade workers! Do not trust the vacuous words of the bureaucracy. Until the GPU’s secret repression directed against the dissident workers, peasants and intellectuals comes to an end, until these workers, peasants and intellectuals have the right to publish newspapers, magazines and books that espouse different ideas than the bureaucracy, as long as these workers, peasants and intellectuals are rotting in prison and in internal deportation, where they have been dragged by the bureaucracy that is today jabbering away about freedom of criticism, until the bureaucracy concedes these guarantees, until then no one should believe this flock of scribblers and charlatans who chatter about freedom of criticism! Obviously, the workers, peasants and intellectuals will take advantage of every opportunity that arises to unmask impostors, embezzlers and petty tyrants, but as it does so it will always keep in mind that the really putting an end of the dictatorship, of divine right, of violence, of tyranny and exploitation will not be possible unless the proletariat seizes power, that is, unless “the proletariat [is raised] to the position of ruling class to win the battle of democracy”. Only then will the proletariat organized as a class in the Councils of workers deputies administer production instead of the bureaucracy. Only then, organized into cooperatives, will it assume responsibility for distribution instead of the bureaucratic commercial institutions of the State. Only then, organized in its trade unions, will it take over the rights and responsibilities of the bureaucratic Workers and Peasants Inspectorate. Only then will the workers Councils, in alliance with the Soviets of peasant delegates and the urban Soviets, actually administer the State. And only then will the proletariat have the right to form parties (freedom of association) and freedom of expression, of the press and of assembly to a much greater extent than in the freest of the bourgeois States. For the first time in the history of humanity, after all these centuries of class societies, the exploited will finally be really free. This is the only way to put an end to the all-embracing power, to the violence, to the divine right and to the tyranny of the bureaucracy.

Workers! Raise the battle flag of the Communist Manifesto and join the fight! Remember that “the emancipation of the workers must be the task of the workers themselves”!

There is no supreme savior,
No God, no Caesar, no Tribune,
Producers, do it yourselves!
Proclaim universal salvation!
They will put us in jail,
They will torture us with fire,
They will deport us to the mines,
They will assassinate us!
That is how it will be! In the end the workers will be victorious!


[18] A character in a novel by Anton Chekov, a voluntary informer and incompetent administrator, a symbol of the power of the Czarist autocracy in Russia.

[19] Berezovka, Obdorsk (today known as Salekhard) and Turujansk are Siberian cities.