Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line

Bolshevik Union

The Party of Labor of Albania Came to Canada Under a Stolen Flag

Proletarian Democracy is Class Democracy

Proletarian Revolution, no. 13, Editorial, May 1979.

The task of the proletariat in Canada is the socialist revolution which will overthrow the capitalist order smash the bourgeois state and establish the dictatorship of the proletariat, the only guarantee of democracy for the working class. It is democracy for the working class because it suppresses the bourgeoisie, it actively works to crush the resistance of this reactionary class which today rules a society which denies in fact the rights of the exploited class formally guaranteed by law.

It is necessary to repeat the basics of Marxism-Leninism because there are self-proclaimed Marxist-Leninists who participated in the election claiming that “we are fighting to win” the election. But it is not the task of the proletariat to take hold of the existing state apparatus, to somehow make a state, which has been developed for over 100 years for the express purpose of serving the bourgoisie, serve the proletariat at the drop of a ballot. The proletariat’s party runs in the bourgeois elections in order to expose the bourgeoisie, to clearly lay bare to the proletariat that the capitalist system is based upon their exploitation, and that their historical role is to destroy that system and the bourgeois state.

But the agents of the exploiting class have a different task. It has been charged to them to sabotage the proletarian revolution. The bourgeoisie welcomes to give them the platform from which to win the ear of workers who have understood that capitalism must be superceded by socialism. These agents are encouraged to spread their revisionist theories along with the other bourgeois parties. One such theory, which meshes well with parliamentary elections, is that of “genuine democracy,” the fallacy that the working class can achieve its democratic rights under capitalism, without the dictatorship of the proletariat, that this “genuine democracy” is necessary before passing over to a peaceful transition to socialism, that the struggle for socialism is possible only after winning the battle for democracy. This “genuine democracy” becomes the political foundation for the socialist society. Kautsky formulated this position after the October Revolution as follows:

For us, therefore, Socialism without democracy is unthinkable. We understand by Modern Socialism not merely social organization of production, but democratic organization of society as well. Accordingly, Socialism is for us inseparably connected with democracy. No Socialism without democracy. (The Dictatorship of the Proletariat, Ann Arbor Paperbacks, p. 6)

In this work, which is an attack on the Bolsheviks, the October Revolution and the dictatorship of the proletariat, Kautsky openly shows his petty bourgeois class interests. He makes no distinction between bourgeois democracy and proletarian democracy, but talks instead of “pure” democracy, much like today’s centrists who talk about “genuine” democracy. Kautsky and the centrists take up the position of the bourgeoisie. This openly anti-Marxist position was the culmination of Kautsky’s opportunist career as a centrist, the result of his refusal to break completely with the social-chauvinist wing during the first world war. His connections dragged him further and further into open class-collaboration, forced him from his centrist position to an openly social chauvinist position, of attacking Socialist Russia. What was Kautsky’s purpose in “inseparably connecting” socialism with democracy? Kautsky writes that “Democracy signifies the rule of the majority....” Therefore, if socialism is “inseparably connected” with democracy, socialism must be the “rule of majority.” The proletariat, according to Kautsky, must wait until it is the majority to socialize the means of production and if it is the majority, in any democracy, it can be voted into power. “The most effective weapon of the proletariat is its numerical strength. It cannot emancipate itself until it has become the largest class of the population, until capitalist society is so far developed that the small peasants and the lower middle classes no longer overweight the proletariat.” (Ibid., p. 29) This directly attacks the Leninist position that the greatest weapon of the proletariat is its organization. For Kautsky, if the proletariat has the greatest numbers than there is no need for organization and discipline. It can do nothing but wait for its spontaneous ascension to power through sheer weight.

But more, according to this scheme, the proletariat is to wait until it is the conscious majority, a majority capable of voting into power its political representatives. Thus, in Canada, where the working class is the majority, Kautsky’s “revolution” must wait until the party, which has yet to be formed, is capable of achieving a parliamentary majority.

More than that, not only must the proletariat wait until the “small peasants and lower middle classes overweight the proletariat,” it must also sit in its hands until the intellectuals are ready, because “without the help, or in opposition to the intellectuals, Socialist production cannot be instituted.” (ibid., p. 50) What better way to destroy the proletarian character of the revolution than by insisting that the working class wait quietly, as its exploitation increases, until the intellectuals decide that the proletariat has been oppressed “enough.” until the “poor” intellectuals, wracked by contradictions, I can no longer bear the burden of watching the proletariat suffer. It is not the proletariat whom Kautsky wants “conscious,” it is the intellectuals.

Kautsky, who Lenin described as “bellycrawling and bootlicking before the bourgeoisie,” carefully avoids the economic reasons why the intellectuals have a material interest in watching the proletariat toil, because he, like the rest of the petty bourgeoisie and labour aristocracy, benefited directly from this exploitation.

This type of analysis, which spreads illusions that democracy can be “genuine” for the “majority” of “the people” simply because the minority will submit without pressure, has been proved incorrect over and again by history. The history of the construction of socialism is the history of ruthless conspiracy on the part of imperialism, which tried every method, from open invasion on more than one occasion, to alliances with degenerate elements within the party such as Trotsky, Bukharin and Zinoviev to assassinate leaders of the Bolshevik party and sabotage socialist construction. The “theory” of Kautsky, picked up by the centrists, has as its purpose to preserve the bourgeoisie, to care for it and allow it free reign to attack the proletarian dictatorship. As Kautsky put it, “Democracy signifies the rule of the majority, but not less the protection of the minority.” (p. 30) Why is it important to “protect” this bourgeois minority? Kautsky makes no attempt to hide his reasons. “The deeper the roots which a democracy has struck, and the longer it has lasted and influenced political customs, the MORE EFFECTIVE IS THE MINORITY, AND THE MORE SUCCESSFULLY IT CAN OPPOSE THE PRETENTIONS OF ANY PARTY WHICH SEEKS TO REMAIN IN POWER AT ALL COSTS.” (Ibid., p. 33) This is another open attack on Leninism. The Bolshevik Party must “seek to remain in power at all costs” because it is the political representative of the proletariat. All other parties which claim the mantel of the working class are bourgeois parties of one or another stripe. Kautsky is giving any and every party of any class the right to overthrow the revolutionary proletariat. “In a democracy,” he says, “no regime can be adapted for a long duration.” (p. 30) Kautsky wants to insure that if the proletariat achieves power in spite of his counter-revolutionary activity, that it would not remain there for long.

This position openly attacks the necessity of suppressing the bourgeoisie, who will be in the “minority” and therefore, for Kautsky, “harmless.” Kautsky believes that over time “in a democratic republic, where the people’s rights have been firmly established for decades, perhaps centuries” (!!) this could “compel the respect of the ruling classes for the masses.”!!

There is no way by which Kautsky could compel the respect of the international proletariat, yet he has succeeded with the revisionists. Cowards that they are, they do not openly praise their mentor, and try to cover their tracks. They present the struggle for “pure” democracy as the first stage of the revolution, as a stage prior to the socialist revolution; as a struggle against the monopolies, i.e.. the anti-monopoly struggle in imperialist countries like Canada, while in the United States, COUSML, a group organized by “CPC(ML)” calls for a two-stage “anti-fascist” revolution!

This old Khrushchevite line is now finding great currency in the centrist trend. It was intended to be “a new political alliance, a democratic, anti-monopoly, anti-imperialist alliance, based on the working class, the national and democratic forces in French Canada, the farmers, the middle strata, the non-monopolist bourgeoisie, and all those affected by monopoly prices” just in case someone wasn’t listed. The goal of this “new political alliance” was to be a parliamentary majority to form an “anti-monopoly government (which) will not as yet be a socialist government. It will not aim to eliminate the property rights of the capitalist class as a whole but only those of monopoly “(The Road to Socialism in Canada, programme of the CPC, pp. 46, 47) Such is the open admittal by the Khrushchevite revisionists in Canada that they do not fight for socialism, but instead, they are fighting for the middle bourgeoisie who are affected by ”monopoly policies.“ The “CPC” fights to improve capitalism by removing such “excesses.” They have adopted the same tactics as Kautsky. They wish to wait until the “majority” of the people vote them into office. What they desire is a change of ministers. For Lenin, those who peddled this line were deceiving the proletariat.

It is the greatest delusion, the greatest self-deception, and a deception of the people, to attempt, by means of this state apparatus, to carry out such reforms as the abolition of landed estates without compensation, or the grain monopoly, etc... it is absolutely incapable of carrying out reforms which would even seriously curtail or limit the rights of capital, the rights of ’sacred private property,’ mush less abolish these rights.” (“On the Fundamental Question of Revolution,” LCW 25:369)

Yet this is precisely what the revisionists promise the proletariat.

This is also the programme of the centrist “CPC(ML)”, would-be allies in the “anti-monopoly” coalition with the older revisionists, although they will not as yet admit it. The “CPC(ML)” carries their revolutionary phrasemongering one step to the left, however, and boldly proclaims their intention, once in power, to “abolish the federal and provincial governments.” They apparently believe that it is possible to abolish the government, or smash the state by decree from within the hallowed halls of parliament, putting them squarely in opposition to the warning of Lenin above, that the bourgeois state apparatus is “incapable of carrying out reforms which would even seriously curtail or limit the rights of capital... much less abolish these rights.” The “CPC (ML)” argue further that a pressing political demand is “to end the political and constitutional authority of the British North America Act.” (All quotes from “CPC(ML)” are from their 1979 election programme, PCDN, 23 April 1979, p. I)

But if they plan to “abolish” the government anyway, over what would the BNA Act have “authority”? The “CP” of Canada declares “there is an urgent need to replace the BNA Act with a constitution made in Canada” (op. cit. p. 24) Bold to take on the vestiges of the monarchy, yet neither are brave enough to raise the slogan of Marx and Engels, “Abolition of the wages system!” which was first raised when the monarchy had more power than today. These heroes raise a list of reforms which can be implemented under capitalism and which they claim will solve the crisis, under capitalism!

Socialism will be achieved simply by further extending “pure” democracy under the anti-monopoly government of the “CPC”: “The defense and extension of democracy and the curbing of the power of monopoly is an integral and inseparable part of the struggle for the socialist transformation of Canada.” (p. 25)

The same thing holds true for the “CPC(ML)”:

The Marxist-Leninist Party of Canada stands for real democracy in which democracy is rooted first on the question of ownership of the means of production and fights for the expropriation without compensation of the handful of rich[1] and to have their property turned into social property as the first step towards real democracy. Without such a measure, democracy is merely illusory and false and the Marxist-Leninist Party of Canada fights for a genuine Workers’ and Small Farmers’ Government which will make the rich pay. The broad masses of the people, under the leadership of the proletariat, must fight for and establish their own political power which will not only guarantee genuine democracy on the political front but will also establish the economic foundation of this democracy – the expropriation of the rich, throwing the US imperialist out of Canada, and the elimination of the anarchy of production.

The “CPC(ML)“ calls for the same measures as the “CPC.” The first step is the coming into power of a coalition government of all forces which oppose the monopolies. Measures are taken to “curb the monopolies” or make them the “social property” of the middle bourgeoisie and to “extend” democracy or establish “genuine” democracy on the political front. Yet in neither case is this the dictatorship of the proletariat. In both cases it is deception of the proletariat about the achievibility of democracy under capitalism. Again, we will allow Lenin to reply.

“’We,’ the revolutionary Marxists, have never made speeches to the people that the Kautskyites of all nations love to make, cringing before the bourgeoisie, adapting themselves to bourgeois parliamentarism, keeping silent about the bourgeois character of modern democracy, and demanding only its extension, only that it be carried to its logical conclusion. (The Proletarian Revolution and the Renegade Kautsky, FLP, p. 70)

In the world today, these two parties may exist in different trends: the “Communist Party of Canada” is an openly social-chauvinist party which actively supports Russian imperialism. The “Communist Party of Canada (Marxist-Leninist)” is part of an international centrist trend. As the politics of “CPC(ML)” are identical to those of the older party, it is not surprising that this international current is moving more and more towards open support for this same imperialist power. It is the revisionists in the Soviet Union who boast that “Historical experience shows that genuine democracy can exist only in socialist society and socialism can not be built without democracy.” (Socialism and Democracy: A Reply to Opportunists, Progress, p. 54) The Bolsheviks know what the “genuine” democracy of which they speak is in reality, it is the subordination of the proletariat to the bourgeoisie under the guise of the “state of the whole people.” It is not the dictatorship of the proletariat. Whether the theory states that the state represents the entire people or the party represents all who labour, in the end it is the same rotten class collaboration which has worked to sabotage the struggles of the proletariat since the time of Marx and Engels. The concept of “pure” democracy was not unknown to these two great leaders of the international proletariat. Engels noted that it could acquire “in revolutionary situations, a temporary importance as the extreme bourgeois party... at such a moment the whole reactionary mass falls behind it and strenghtens it; all those who use to be reactionary behave as if they were democratic.” And in a passage that sounds as if he were describing the programme of today’s revisionists, he wrote “This has happened in every revolution: the tamest party that is still in any way capable of governing comes to power just because this seems to the defeated their last possibility of salvation. Now it cannot be expected that at the moment of crisis we shall already have the majority of the electorate and therefore of the nation behind us. The whole middle class and the remnants of the feudal possessing class, a large section of the lower middle class and also of the rural population will then rally around the extreme bourgeois party, which will then take up an extremely revolutionary stance” (“Letter from Engels to Bebel, 11 December 1884,” Selected Letters of Marx and Engels, Progress) The revisionist parties are the parties of the last resort for the bourgeoisie.

When the proletariat raises the slogan for its dictatorship and puts this slogan into action “our sole adversary on the day of the crisis and the day after the crisis will be the whole of the reaction which will rally around pure democracy, and this, I think, should not be lost sight of....” (Ibid.)

The motion of the centrists is clear, and this, we think, should not be lost sight of.


[1] “CPC(ML)” identifies its enemy as “The representatives of the rich, of the tiny minority of some 45 families the multinationals and the financial oligarchs.” According to Newman’s The Canadian Establishment there are approximately 45 families with over $50 million. These must therefore be “CPC(ML)”’s big enemy. Yet there are over 100 families who have over $20 million, but less than $50 million. They are, presumably the “middle bourgeoisie” Bains declared it was necessary to ally with. These “poor” bourgeois include the largest shareholders of the Bank of Nova Scotia, certainly a “poor” bank compared with the Royal, the heads of investment brokerages well tied in to Canadian finance capital, the head of Canada’s largest cable television system, as well as Bains’ old friend Walter Gordon who helped found the Committee for an Independent Canada. It is with these “victims” of the 45 rich families that Bains and “CPC(ML)” fights for “full democratic rights, full freedom, liberty”, etc....