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League for Proletarian Revolution

The International Significance of the Restoration of Capitalism in the USSR, Part II


II. The Key Question: The Dictatorship of the Proletariat & the Role of the Party

First, as we pointed out earlier in the Hammer and Sickle, the fundamental question we must ask ourselves in examining any social system is, what is the nature of the class in power? What is the character of the state and the policies it follows, for what purpose is production carried out, and which class does it benefit? That is, is the state subordinated to the interest of the working class or is it a power alienated from the working class which preserves the selfish exploitative interests of an insignificant minority, namely the bourgeoisie? Lenin spoke directly to this point:

The key question of every revolution is undoubtedly the question of slate power. Which class holds state power decides everything ... The question of power cannot be evaded or brushed aside, because it is the key question determining everything in a revolution’s development and its foreign and domestic policies.[2]

This Marxist-Leninist principle is particularly relevant to the restoration of capitalism in a previously socialist country for it is only through the dictatorship of the proletariat that the proletariat expropriates the bourgeoisie and controls the means of production in the interests of the vast majority. “The proletariat seizes political power and turns the means of production into state property.”[3] “Socialism”, said Lenin, “is inconceivable unless the proletariat is the ruler of the state. This ... is ABC.”[4] And further, “Full power means power over all the land, over all the banks, over all the factories.”[5] Finally, “These revolutionary measures, however, cannot be implemented without organising the entire people for the democratic administrator of the means of production captured from the bourgeoisie, without enlisting the entire mass of working people ... for the democratic organization of their ranks, their forces, their participation in state affairs.”[6] In other words, in a socialist country the proletariat controls the state apparatus and because of this, it possesses the principal means of production.

The proletariat needs state power, the organization of violence, in order to smash the bourgeois state machine and crush the resistance of the exploiters. The state ceases to be a state of the old type when proletarian violence forcibly takes control of the means of production in the name of society. But as Comrade Stalin pointed out:

The dictatorship of the proletariat is not only violence. It is also the leadership of the toiling masses of the non-proletarian classes, it is also the building up of socialist economy, which is of a higher type than capitalist economy, and has a greater productivity of labor than capitalist economy. The dictatorship of the proletariat is 1) in regard to the capitalists and landowners, the exercise of violence, unrestricted by law; 2) in regard to the peasantry, the leadership of the proletariat; 3) in regard to society as a whole, the building of socialism.

Not one of these concepts can be left out without distorting the concept of the dictatorship of the proletariat. Only these three aspects taken together give a complete and finished concept of the dictatorship of the proletariat.[7]

The proletariat, however, must take the lead not only politically in administering the state and economically in building socialism; it must also give ideological leadership. At the core of each of these movements is the vanguard or the proletariat, the Communist Party. Socialism is not a spontaneous process but a conscious planned movement which is organised and directed by the Party. While the dictatorship of the proletariat is wider in scope than the leading role of the Party, “the Party is the principal thing in the dictatorship of the proletariat...”[8] The Party is the heart and brain of the working class. This is because the Party is composed of the most class conscious and dedicated fighters of the proletariat. At the same time the Party is armed with Marxism-Leninism and hence capable of directing the activities of the mass organisations of the proletariat toward a single goal – complete emancipation. Stalin described the “Party’s ideological leadership of the trade unions under the dictatorship of the proletariat in this way:

Formally the Party cannot give instructions to the trade unions, but the Party gives instructions to the Communists who work in the trade unions. It is known that in the trade unions there are Communist fractions as there are also in the Soviets, cooperative societies, etc. It is the duty of these Communist fractions to secure by argument the adoption of the decisions in the trade unions, in the Soviets, cooperative societies,, etc., which correspond to the Party’s instructions. This they are able to achieve in the overwhelming majority of oases because the Party exercises enormous influence among the masses and enjoys their great confidence. By these means unity of action among the cost varied proletarian organizations is secured.[9]

Moreover, the Communist Party of the Soviet Union always attempted, throng the Soviets’ congresses, to win the election to the principal posts in the government of its own candidates. “It is not an accident, that the chiefs of government departments in our country are Communists and that these chiefs enjoy enormous respect and authority.”[10]

Because the Party’s line is the main guiding force of the dictatorship of the proletariat and because Party members are at the very core of the Soviet state, it should coma as no surprise that Lenin “told the world that the dictatorship of the proletariat would not work except through the Communist Party.”[12]

Marxism-Leninism, then, teaches that the entire period of socialism i.e. the dictatorship of the proletariat–the only possible transition from capitalism to communism is the continuation of the class struggle in new forms. Cherishing the restoration of its lost “paradise”, the overthrown bourgeoisie, together with its international allies, does not give up; rather it only intensifies its resistance. As Stalin said, the further forward the proletarian revolution advances, “the greater will be the fury of the remnants of the broken exploiting classes.... [They] are not alone. They have direct support of our enemies beyond the bounds of the USSR.”[13] In addition, the force of habit and the ideology of the exploiting classes continue to exert a powerful influence on the masses. Although the social ownership of the means of production creates the objective material conditions for the complete elimination of all forms of exploitation, these relations are not created automatically simply by the establishment of social ownership. They are consolidated only in a protracted two line struggle between the proletariat and political representatives of the former exploiting classes. For this reason, Marxism-Leninism recognizes the importance of the subjective factor: the leadership of a Marxist-Leninist party through which the dictatorship of the proletariat imbues the masses with a spirit of discipline and class conscious struggle against all forms of bourgeois attack and leads the masses in the construction of socialism. A proletariat without such an advanced detachment is a proletariat politically and ideologically disarmed, an easy prey for the bourgeoisie. That is, if a bourgeois political line becomes the primary aspect of a party’s character, the momentum of the socialist revolution is not only halted, it is reversed in favor of capitalism. Social ownership loses its socialist character. Chairman Mao and the Chinese Communist Party have scientifically summed up the significance of this struggle:

Socialist society covers a considerable long historical period. In the historical period of socialism, there are still classes, class contradictions and class struggle, there is the struggle between the socialist road and the capitalist road, and there is a danger of capitalist restoration ... From now on we must remind ourselves of this every year, every month and every day so that we can retain a rather sober understanding of this problem and have a Marxist-Leninist line.[14]

And further:

... if our cadres were thus dragged into the enemy camp or the enemy were able to sneak into our ranks, and if many of our workers, peasants, and intellectuals were left defenceless against both the soft and the hard tactics of the enemy, then it would not take long, perhaps only several years or a decade, or several decades at most, before a counter-revolutionary restoration on a national scale inevitably occurred, the Marxist-Leninist party would undoubtedly become a revisionist party or a fascist party, and the whole of China would change its colour.[15]

Thus, in the conditions of socialism, even after the exploiting classes have been destroyed as classes, the fundamental question of the revolution centers around the character of state power. Secondly, proletarian power can be maintained only on the condition that the proletariat defeats the capitalist-roader’s inside the Party and hence implements a correct line. Without the leading role of the Party, the hegemony and historic mission of the proletariat are empty phrases. Therefore, “the correctness or incorrectness of the political and ideological line decides everything.”[16] And conversely, “to belittle socialist ideology in any way, to turn away from it in the slightest degree means to strengthen bourgeois ideology.”[17] A Leninist party is no longer necessary only when the dictatorship of the proletariat, “the state, i.e. the proletariat, organised as the ruling class” withers away.[18]

Endnotes

[2] Lenin, “One of thee Fundamental Questions of the Revolution”, Collected Works, Vol. 25, p. 368.

[3] Engels, Socialism: Utopian and Scientific, International Publishers, p. 69; emphasis in the original.

[4] Lenin, ’The Tax in Kind”, CW, Vol. 32, p. 334.

[5] Lenin, CW, Vol. 26, pp. 115-116.

[6] Lenin, CW, Vol. 23, p. 25.

[7] Stalin, Leninism, International Publishers, Vol. 1, p. 220.

[8] Stalin, “The Party and the Working Class in the Dictatorship of the Proletariat”, Selected Works, p. 164; emphasis in the original.

[9] Stalin, “Interview With, the First American Labour Delegation in Russia”, 1927,Leninism, Vol. 1, p. 366.

[10] Stalin, ibid., p. 365,

[12] Lenin, Ibid,, p. 246,

[13] Stalin, Mastering Bolshevism, Proletarian Publishers, p. 22.

[14] Quoted in “A Theoretical Weapon for Making Revolution Under the Dictatorship of the Proletariat – In Commemoration of the 10th Anniversary of the Publication of Chairman Mao’s On the Correct Handling of Contradictions Among the People. Hongqi Editorial, No. 10, 1967.

[15] Quoted in Khrushchev’s Phoney Communism, p. 72.

[16] CPC, Tenth Party Congress, p. 17.

[17] Lenin, What is to be Done?, Peking ed., p. 48; emphasis in the original.

[18] Marx, as quoted by Lenin in State and Revolution, Peking ed., p. 28, emphasis in the original.