Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line

Call Attacks Dictatorship of Proletariat

Mao’s Line Offends CP(ML)

First Published: Revolution, Vol. 3, No. 7-8, April-May 1978.
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Paul Saba
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The so-called Communist Party (Marxist-Leninist) has gone from a trot to a full gallop down an all too familiar revisionist road–the kind of modern revisionism first pioneered by Khrushchev more than twenty years ago. This is flagrantly displayed in an April 10, 1978 Call article which attacks the Revolution article, “The Paris Commune: First Proletarian Dictatorship” (March 1978).

One of Khrushchev’s first and most infamous revisionist theses was “the state of the whole people.” He argued that because most of the old capitalists who had been overthrown in the Soviet Union were dead or otherwise out of the picture, and because ownership in the Soviet Union was public, there was no longer any need for the dictatorship of the proletariat in the USSR. In fact, in coming to power, Khrushchev had led in overthrowing working class rule–the dictatorship of the proletariat–and the “state of the whole people” that replaced it was really the dictatorship of newborn capitalist elements in the USSR who became a full-fledged capitalist ruling class.

Now the CP(ML) has joined Khrushchev and the whole historical rogue’s gallery of revisionists in attacking the theory of the dictatorship of the proletariat. This theoretical attack has real practical consequences as well, because those who don’t recognize the revolutionary goal of the working class–the establishment of the dictatorship of the proletariat and the transformation of all of society until the elimination of classes–communism–certainly can never build the struggle of the working class today in a revolutionary direction. For the CP(ML), this attack on the dictatorship of the proletariat is an inspired discovery of a theoretical justification for its always essentially reformist practical work. Whatever the ideological source of this, it certainly isn’t Marxism-Leninism, Mao Tsetung Thought.

Basically, the Call article does two things. First it denies that new capitalist elements are constantly born under socialism, due to the economic, social and ideological leftovers from the old society. Second, it denies that the task of the dictatorship of the proletariat is to transform society, eliminating all these leftovers and all class distinctions, until the complete abolition of classes.

Seeds of Class Antagonism?

On this first point, the CP(ML) criticizes us for saying that the contradictions left over from previous class society “contain the seeds of the regeneration of antagonistic class contradictions even after the old bourgeoisie is defeated and weak.” According to them, this “confuses the target of the dictatorship of the proletariat. .. confuse[s] contradictions among the people with contradictions between the people and the enemy.” Then they go on to say that this formulation would mean dictatorship by the working class over the peasants, instead of alliance between the workers and peasants against the capitalists.

This is an extremely important point to which Mao Tsetung referred many times. Contradictions such as those between workers and peasants, between town and country, and between manual and mental labor certainly are contradictions among the people. This is also true of divisions among the people due to the continuing application of the principle of bourgeois right (including distribution according to work instead of according to need). But, as we said in the article the CP(ML) hates so much, “It is the existence of these contradictions and the fact that some people still enjoy privileges from them that means that those who push a revisionist line in the Communist Party, who use their influence to protect these survivals of class society rather than to move against them, can always gain some kind of audience and can mobilize a social base for the restoration of capitalism.”

It was in reference to these leftovers from capitalism such as bourgeois right and the fact that ”under the dictatorship of the proletariat, such things can only be restricted” that Mao Tsetung concluded that if revisionists like Lin Piao come to power, “it will be quite easy for them to rig up the capitalist system.” The antagonistic contradiction between the proletariat and the bourgeoisie, the principal contradiction under socialism, in its most important form centers on the struggle of the working class and its allies against “capitalist road-ers”–Party members in authority who, through the line they push, protect and water the seeds of capitalism and try to make them sprout.

The target of the dictatorship of the proletariat is not peasants, intellectuals, highly paid personnel, etc.– it is the bourgeoisie whose core is the capitalist roaders within the Party who try to use these contradictions to restore capitalism. If the dictatorship of the proletariat is not enforced ruthlessly against them–if such people are not overthrown and cleared out whenever they arise–then they will overthrow socialism. And as long as these contradictions do exist, such people will arise again and again. It was exactly targeting such people that Mao initiated the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution, in which the working class defended and developed its dictatorship by overthrowing the capitalist roaders and making qualitative leaps in transforming the conditions that gave rise to them–further tearing out capitalist weeds by the roots, restricting bourgeois right, narrowing the differences between mental and manual workers, etc.

Did Mao “Confuse the Target”?

We’d like to remind the CP(ML) of Mao’s statement that “Lenin said, ’Small production engenders capitalism and the bourgeoisie continuously, daily, hourly, spontaneously, and on a mass scale.’ This also occurs among a section of the workers and a section of the Party members. Both within the ranks of the proletariat and among the personnel of state organs there are people who follow the bourgeois style of life.” According to the CP(ML)’s stand, we should condemn Mao for “confusing the target of the dictatorship of the proletariat”! According to their logic Mao was calling for dictatorship over the workers! But Mao was quite right to call attention to the existence of such insects burrowing and eating away within the workers’ ranks. We’ll let the CP(ML) stand with whoever it wants to–we’ll stand with Mao Tsetung.

On the CP(ML)’s second point, communism as the abolition of classes, they really go to ludicrous lengths with their revisionism. The CP(ML) not only criticizes us but basic principles of Marxism, whining that we were wrong to say that the task of the dictatorship of the proletariat is to wipe out all class distinctions. Quoting Marx, who described the dictatorship of the proletariat as “the necessary transit point to the abolition of class distinctions generally,” they have the almost completely unbelievable nerve (or more likely the cowardly desperation) to say that by “generally” Marx did not mean all.

This is absurd. Marx’s next words speak of abolishing “all” production relations on which class distinctions rest, “all” social relations corresponding to these production relations and of revolutionizing “all” ideas resulting from these social relations. Elsewhere he says that the dictatorship of the proletariat “constitutes the transition to the abolition of all classes and to a classless society.” (Marx’s italics) Should we condemn Marx as well as Mao?

New Definition of Communism

By saying that the dictatorship of the proletariat should not “remove from society the basis of all class distinctions,” as they do, the CP(ML) is either inventing a new definition of communism in which all class distinctions are not eliminated, or they are inventing a whole new stage in history previously undreamed of by anyone (at least any Marxist)–a stage in between socialism (class society under working class rule) and communism (the complete abolition of classes), thereby completely negating the historical role of the working class. In either case this “creative development” of Marxism is in reality simply revisionism, just like Khrushchev and his like have cooked up.

It may be alright for the working class to overthrow the old bourgeoisie, but the workers must not go too far and are especially forbidden to root out new capitalist elements and the soil from which they grow, says the CP(ML), singing a modern revisionist tune. This is certainly the point of view of the newborn bourgeoisie themselves–or of petty bourgeois opportunists whose aspirations run in the same direction.

The CP(ML) quotes Lenin from State and Revolution, saying that “the recognition of the dictatorship of the proletariat” is the dividing line between Marxism and opportunism. But with this the CP(ML) is simply calling attention to their own naked opportunism. In the same work, Lenin denounces those opportunists who recognize the need for the dictatorship of the proletariat “in general” while robbing the theory of the dictatorship of the proletariat of its revolutionary content. The CP(ML) pays lip service to the dictatorship of the proletariat “in general” in the same way they want us to believe that Marx used the word “generally” –meaning sort of and really not at all.

All this makes clear why the CP(ML) resorts to attacking our article as “long and tedious.” Their silly and superficial reply shows that for them, anything with substance is tedious. And as for length, even one sentence of Marxism is too much, while reams of revisionism is just fine with them.

It would be interesting and useful to explore why the CP(ML) feels compelled to jump out and attack this most basic point of Marxism right now, other than their general wallowing in the mud of a revisionist line. But such an analysis lies outside the scope of this article. Nevertheless, we’re glad to see this revisionist garbage hang out, right where everybody can see it and it can be criticized by all. We welcome the occasion of their “criticism” to reaffirm our stand with Marxism-Leninism, Mao Tsetung Thought.