Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line

Black Workers Congress

The Struggle Against Revisionism and Opportunism: Against the Communist League and the Revolutionary Union

Communist League


The basic question in any revolution is that of state power. Unless this question is understood, there can be no conscious participation, not to speak of guidance of the revolution. While all revolutions are for state power, the proletarian revolution can only be successful if it is “crowned with a dictatorship of the proletariat”, a proletarian state.

The state of the dictatorship of the proletariat is a political instrument used by the revolutionary proletariat to suppress the counter-revolution, expropriate the capitalists and landlords and to form and develop the productive relations of socialism. The dictatorship of the proletariat represented by the revolutionary armies, police and other state apparatus takes as one of its first goals the expropriation of the capitalists and landlords. As Marx says in the Communist Manifesto (Ten Classics of Marxism, International Pub., 1930, p. 30) “The first step in the revolution of the working class is to raise the proletariat to the position of ruling class, to win the battle of democracy.

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 of productive forces as rapidly as possible.

One of the main aspects of the dictatorship of the proletariat is the suppression of the counter-revolution both from within and from without. For example, the dictatorship of the proletariat carried out a successful diplomatic and military struggle against 14 nations that invaded in order to overthrow the socialist power and at the same time carried out a successful struggle against Wrangel and Denikin who led the internal counter-revolution. Lenin summed this situation up by these words, “The dictatorship of the proletariat is a stubborn struggle – bloody and bloodless, violent and peaceful, military and economic, educational and administrative – against the forces and traditions of the old society.” (Foundations of Leninism, Ten Classics of Marxism, International pub p. 50)

It is impossible for the revolutionary proletariat to develop the productive relations of socialism without a dictatorship of the proletariat. “The means of production belong to the whole of society.” (State and Revolution, International Pub., 1930, p.76) “Its main essence is the organization and discipline of the advanced detachment of the toilers, its vanguard, its sole leader, the proletariat. The object of the proletarian dictatorship is to create socialism, to abolish the division of society in classes, to turn all members of society into toilers, to eliminate all possibilities for the exploitation of man by man. This object cannot be accomplished all at once, It requires a pretty long period of transition from capitalism to socialism, because reorganization of production is difficult, because radical changes in all spheres of life require time, and because the great force of habit to conduct affairs in a petty bourgeois and bourgeois manner may be overcome only by prolonged and obstinate struggle.” (Dictatorship of the Proletariat, International Pub., 1936, p. 58)

One of the major questions concerning the dictatorship of the proletariat is whether the dictatorship of the proletariat is a dictatorship of the class or of the party. The party under the dictatorship of the proletariat, as well as under capitalism, can only organize a minority of the class. The party’s role under the dictatorship of the proletariat is the main guiding force. Not as the governing force of society but as the organized detachment of the governing class. But yet, what exactly is the relationship between the party and the proletariat as a whole?

The system of the dictatorship of the proletariat is in the structure of the state, in the role and significance of the transmission belts and “levels” and the ”directing force” and the necessary role they play In the daily work of the dictatorship of the proletariat.

The levers or the belts are those very mass organizations of the proletariat without whose aid the dictatorship cannot be realized.

The directing force is the advanced detachment of the proletariat its vanguard, which constitutes the main guiding force of the dictatorship of the proletariat. (Problems of Leninism, International Pub., 1931, p. 29)

The party is the main guiding force in the system of the dictatorship of the proletariat. It is “the highest form of the class organization of the proletariat.” It is comprised of the best elements of the working class who are the direct connection between the party and nonparty mass organizations.

The dictatorship of the proletariat cannot be realized without several ’belts’ stretching from the vanguard to the mass of the advanced class and from this to the mass of the toilers. The Party, so to speak, absorbs of the proletariat, and this vanguard realizes the dictatorship of the proletariat. (Ibid, p.30)

The Communist Party must guide the work in the proletarian organizations. It must guide the economic, political and cultural and educational struggle of the working class as a whole.

One of the fundamental features of the dictatorship of the proletariat is the alliance between the proletariat and the peasantry. The basis of this alliance is the Leninist principles that the revolutionary potentiality of the peasantry can be turned from a reserve of the bourgeoisie to a reserve of the proletariat. “The dictatorship of the proletariat is a class alliance between the proletariat and the toiling masses of the peasantry, for the purpose of overthrowing capital, for bringing about the final victory of socialism, an alliance based on the condition that its leading force is the proletariat.” (Dictatorship of the Proletariat, op. cit., p. 51) The dictatorship of the proletariat cannot be consummated except under the leadership of the proletariat, yet it cannot be victorious without the support of the peasantry. The poor peasantry and other toiling strata quickly side with the proletariat when presented with alternatives of bourgeois programs.

Stalin gives historical depth to this in his discussion of the Russian revolution in chapter 5 on the peasant question.

The peasantry during the bourgeois democratic revolution. This period extends from the first Russian revolution (1905) to the second revolution (Feb. 1917) inclusive. The characteristic feature of this period is the emancipation of the peasantry from the influence of the liberal bourgeoisie, the defection of the peasantry from the Cadets (Constitutional-Democrats), the turn of the peasantry towards the proletariat, towards the Bolshevik Party. The history of this period is the history of the struggle between the Cadets (the liberal bourgeoisie) and the Bolsheviks (the proletariat) for the peasantry. The outcome of this struggle was decided by the Duma period, for the period of the four Dumas served as an object lesson to the peasantry, and this lesson brought home to the peasantry the fact that they would receive neither land nor liberty at the hands of the Cadets; that the only force they could count on was the urban workers, the proletariat.” (Foundations of Leninism, op. cit., p. 64)

Discussion of Slogans

There is some confusion amongst certain elements of the left concerning the relationship of the dictatorship of the proletariat to the revolution as a whole, many of the more infantile formulations project that the revolution is for dictatorship of the proletariat. Nothing could be further from the truth and it is certain that for the communists dictatorship of the proletariat is their strategy, but for the vast majority of the toiling strata the revolutionary upsurge is the result of some particular demand, such as land, bread, peace, national liberation, democratic rights, etc. It is the duty of the Marxists not only to lead the insurrection but to carry the revolution on to the end in order to secure the things which the class has so dearly fought. Karl Marx said, “that the revolution be crowned with the establishment of proletarian state power, by hurling, step by step one section of the bourgeoisie after another from the heights of power. (Foundations of Leninism, Foreign Languages Press, 1970, pp. 36-37) A case in point is the development of the revolution in Eastern Europe. After the defeat of the Nazis the state was constructed by the anti-fascist united front that had led the resistance. This transistional form in the most cases did not develop along the lines of Leninism. For example the political forces of Poland that constructed the anti-fascist state, i.e., Communist Party, Social-Democratic parties, Peasant Parties, etc. are still in control of the state, Including the broadening influence of the Polish Catholic Party. It was no accident that in 1946, two years after liberation the section of the Communist Party that was responsible for raising the productivity of the workers brought in a report endorsing the fascist method of flogging workers who were “lazy”.

It is entirely possible to establish a dictatorship of the proletariat by combining several parties in the apparatus. This was successfully done in China. It is not the form of the state that is important, it is the content. There is no possibility of sharing state power with antagonistic classes. Thus in the lands of Peoples’ Democracy the long term participation of nominally antifascist capitalist parties could not but set the stage for the restoration of capitalism. On the other hand, the participation of some seven political parties in the Chinese state after the revolution was backed up by an Army led by the experienced and highly developed Chinese Communist Party.

One of the principal attacks by modern revisionism has been the attempt to replace the dictatorship of the proletariat with the dictatorship of the whole people. One of the principal examples of this was the renegade Khrushchev and the Soviet revisionists who changed the constitution of the USSR to read “as a result of the victory of socialism in the USSR and the consolidation of the unity of soviet society the communist party of the working class has become the vanguard of the soviet people, a party of the entire People... has become a political organization of the entire people.”

This is in direct contradiction to the Leninist concept of the dictatorship of the proletariat and the transition from capitalism to socialism. As comrade Lenin stated in the Dictatorship of the Proletariat page 49 (op. cit) “The class that has seized political power has done so, conscious of the fact that it has seized power alone. This is implicit in the concept of the dictatorship of the proletariat. This concept has meaning only when one class knows it alone takes political power into its own hands and does not deceive itself or other by talk about popular, elected governments, sanctified by the whole people.”

In summary, we see that all previous states have been dictatorships of the ruling classes. The propertied classes need an organ of violence to guarantee their exploitation of the majority. However we now have rich experience in the struggle of the dictatorship of the proletariat. This dictatorship is for the majority of the people, a democracy. The first real democracy that mankind has ever known. The role of the dictatorship is to protect the masses from the inevitable attempts at counter-revolution, its role is to transform the social refuse left over from the wars and moral degeneration of capitalism into the new socialist man. So, we see that it is the dictatorship only for the Ku Klux Klan and vigilante elements. It is dictatorship for the exploiters and for those who attempt to reinstitutionalize man’s inhumanity. For the masses, for the toiling strata the dictatorship is the state form that guarantees them the where-with-all to build a happy and peaceful future. The dictatorship is the bridge that brings mankind from the brutal capitalist world of necessity to the bright and happy realm of communist freedom.