Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line

Communist Workers Party

Study Marxism: The Dictatorship of The Working Class Is Necessary For The Period Of Transition From Socialism To Communism

First Published: Workers Viewpoint, July 5, 1980.
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Paul Saba
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The immediate goal of the Communist Workers Party is to lead the working and poor people of the United States to overthrow the U.S. government, destroy it completely, and establish workers’ rule–dictatorship of the proletariat–over the capitalist class (of Rockefellers and Morgans). Under this new system, revolutionary socialism, the majority of American people will for the first time be our own masters.

The seizure of state power and setting up of the dictatorship of the working class over the bourgeoisie is only the beginning of socialist revolution. Under socialism, classes and class struggle still exist. Chairman Mao said in 1962:

Socialist society covers a considerably 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 the danger of capitalist restoration. We must recognize the protracted and complex nature of this struggle. We must heighten our vigilance. We must conduct socialist education. We must correctly understand and handle class contradictions and class struggle, distinguish the contradictions between ourselves and the enemy from those among the people and handle them correctly. Otherwise a socialist country like ours will turn into its opposite and degenerate, and a capitalist restoration will take place. From now on we must remind ourselves of this every year, every month and every day so that we can retain a relatively sober understanding of this problem and have a Marxist-Leninist line. (“Speech to the Tenth Plenary Session of the Eighth Central Committee of the Communist Party of China”)

Today capitalism has been restored in the Soviet Union and in China. Revisionists like Brezhnev and Deng Ziao Ping have changed the theory of Marxism-Leninism-Mao Zedong Thought, the science of revolution, to serve their own selfish interests. They’ve revised Marxism in order to justify once again the exploitation and oppression of the working people. As Chairman Mao said, “The rise to power of revisionism means the rise to power of the bourgeoisie.”

Because of this, some people have begun to doubt whether socialism will work here in the U.S. How can we prevent the restoration of capitalism after we’ve smashed the government and established workers’ rule? And how can we ever reach communism, a society without any classes? In this article and its subsequent parts we will go into why socialism will succeed and how the dictatorship of the proletariat can lead to the abolition of all classes.

The Seizure of State Power By the Working Class is Only the Beginning of the Revolution

In order to overthrow the U.S. government and seize state power we will not have to convince the majority of Americans to believe in communism. This is not possible under capitalism anyway. The American people will rise up to make revolution by necessity, and not because they believe in some idea or theory. People have to learn from their own experience of living under socialism. Then after we have taken state power and have under our control the media (television, radio, newspapers, etc.), the educational systems, and all other institutions that we can educate the broad masses so that they can understand socialism and communism in a rational way. That’s why we have to seize state power whenever we are able. Also, by establishing the dictatorship of the proletariat in the U.S., we will be able to aid tremendously socialist revolution worldwide.

The seizure of state power and destruction of the capitalist state is necessary, but only a precondition for socialism to grow. A socialist U.S.A. would face both internal and external enemies: internally, from the capitalist class that was overthrown and from new bourgeoisie that would develop, and externally from imperialist powers like the Soviet Union. Under socialism it would be a constant struggle between dying capitalism and all its traditions and influences and a new born society still in its infancy. The more absolute and all-roundedly the working class exercised dictatorship over the bourgeoisie, the more freedom the masses would have to build socialism and develop socialist new things.

The dictatorship of the proletariat is a most determined and most ruthless war waged by the new class against a more powerful enemy, the bourgeoisie, whose resistance is increased tenfold by its overthrow (even if only in one country), and whose power lies not only in the strength of international capital, in the strength and durability of the international connections of the bourgeoisie, but also in the force of habit, in the strength of small production. For unfortunately, small production is still very widespread in the world, and small production engenders capitalism and the bourgeoisie continuously, daily, hourly, spontaneously, and on a mass scale. For all these reasons the dictatorship of the proletariat is essential, and victory over the bourgeoisie is impossible without a long, stubborn and desperate war of life and death, a war demanding perseverance, discipline, firmness, indomitableness and unity of will. (Lenin, “Left-Wing” Communism, An Infantile Disorder, 1920)

The only long-term guarantee of the final triumph of socialism and the prevention of capitalist restoration is to constantly Bolshevize (strengthen) the Party, educate the American people, raising their ideological, political, and organizational level, and train revolutionary successors to exercise all-round dictatorship over the bourgeoisie in all spheres and at all times during the period of transition from socialism into communism.

Our Goal Is to Totally Eliminate Classes and Class Differences

This socialism is the declaration of the permanence of the revolution, the class dictatorship of the proletariat as the necessary transit point to the abolition of class distinctions generally, to the abolition of all the relations of production on which they rest, to the abolition of all the social relations that correspond to these relations of production, to the revolutionizing of all the ideas that result from these social relations. (Karl Marx, The Class Struggles in France, 1850)

In order to completely eliminate classes and class differences and reach communism, the dictatorship of the proletariat has five historical tasks. The proletariat must:
1) crush the resistance of the exploiters;
2) fight all spontaneous tendencies of capitalism and newly produced bourgeois elements;
3) occupy the superstructure (government, media, cultural and educational institutions, etc.);
4) continuously consolidate and develop socialist economy;
5) unite with the oppressed classes and oppressed people of the world to fight together: to thoroughly eliminate imperialism, revisionism, and all reactionaries: and to emancipate the whole of mankind.

We Must Crush the Resistance of the Exploiters

After we overthrow the U.S. government and take control of all the means of production (factories, mines, land, etc.), the exploiters will have been smashed but not destroyed. They will still have international connections with capitalists in other countries and wealth stored up overseas. They will still have social connections and skills in state, military, and economic administration. They try to sabotage and subvert the dictatorship of the working class in any way they can. That’s why their resistance must be crushed by force with the utmost determination.

In addition to suppressing the exploiters, the dictatorship of the proletariat must also suppress all sorts of bad elements who try to wreck our young socialist society. As Lenin said,

... these elements of disintegration cannot ’reveal themselves’ otherwise than in the increase of crime, hooliganism, corruption, profiteering and outrages of every kind. To put these down requires time and requires an iron hand . . . The misfortune of previous revolutions was that the revolutionary enthusiasm of the people, which sustained them in their state of tension and gave them the strength to suppress ruthlessly the elements of disintegration did not last long. (Lenin. “The Immediate Tasks of the Soviet Government,” Collected Works, Vol. 27)

Fight All Spontaneous Tendencies of Capitalism and Newly Produced Bourgeois Elements

Socialism is a new system and is built on the ruins of the old capitalist system. There will still remain many capitalist ways of thinking and doing things–how a factory is run, how trade is carried on, how goods are distributed. And upon these ruins, new capitalists can emerge and develop. Lenin described what the working class and its Party faced three years after taking state power in 1920:

We in Russia (in the third year since the overthrow of the bourgeoisie) are going through the first steps in the transition from capitalism to socialism, or the lower stage of communism. Classes have remained, and will remain everywhere for years after the conquest of power by the proletariat. Perhaps in England, where there is no peasantry (but where there are small owners!), this period may be shorter. The abolition of classes means not only driving out the landlords and capitalists–that we accomplished with comparative ease–it also means abolishing the small commodity producers, and they cannot be driven out, or crushed; we must live in harmony with them; they can (and must) be remoulded and re-educated only by very prolonged, slow, cautious organizational work. They encircle the proletariat on every side with petty-bourgeois spontaneity, permeate and corrupt the proletariat with it, and cause constant relapses among the proletariat into petty-bourgeois spinelessness, disunity, individualism, and alternate moods of exaltation and dejection. The strictest centralization and discipline are required within the political party of the proletariat in order to counteract this, in order that the organizing role of the proletariat (and that is its principal role) may be exercised correctly, successfully, victoriously. The dictatorship of the proletariat is a persistent struggle–bloody and bloodless, violent and peaceful, military and economic, educational and administrative–against the forces and traditions of the old society. The force of habit of millions and tens of millions is a most terrible force. Without an iron party tempered in the struggle, without a party enjoying the confidence of all that is honest in the given class, without a party capable of watching and influencing the mood of the masses, it is impossible to conduct such a struggle successfully. It is a thouand times easier to vanquish the centralized big bourgeoisie than to “vanquish” the millions and millions of small owners; yet they, by their ordinary, everyday, imperceptible, elusive, demoralizing activity, achieve the very results which the bourgeoisie need and which tend to restore the bourgeoisie. Whoever weakens ever so little the iron discipline of the party of the proletariat (especially during the time of its dictatorship), actually aids the bourgeoisie against the proletariat. (Lenin, “Left-Wing” Communism, An Infantile Disorder)



“Study Notes on The Dictatorship of the Proletariat, Part II –The State Under Socialism,” The 80’s Theoretical Journal of the Communist Workers Party, U.S.A.
Marx, Engels, and Lenin On the Dictatorship of the Proletariat, Foreign Language Press, Peking, 1975.
“Reference Material for Study: Marx, Engels, and Lenin on the Dictatorship of the Proletariat” (Reprints from Peking Review).
Chang Chun-Chiao, “On Exercising All-Round Dictatorship Over the Bourgeoisie,” 1975.
Yao Wen-yuan, “On the Social Basis of the Lin Piao Anti-Party Clique,” 1975.
A Basic Understanding of the Communist Party of China, Shanghai, 1974.
Lenin, The State and Revolution.