Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line

Revolutionary Communist Party

New Programme and New Constitution of the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA

(Drafts for Discussion)

Proletarian Dictatorship, Democracy and the Rights of the People

Democracy in capitalist society, including the much advertised “American democracy,” is a sham. It is democracy only for and among the ranks of the bourgeoisie, which exercises a ruthless dictatorship over the proletariat and the masses of people in general. As Lenin once pointed out, to establish the truth of this, it is only necessary to point to the use of troops by the capitalists to suppress even strikes, at least serious ones, by workers, which occurs regularly in every capitalist country, including those with the most glittering facade of democracy, and which has happened repeatedly in the history of the U.S.A.

After World War 2, because of the crumbs it has received from the unprecedented imperialist plunder of the U.S. ruling class, the working class in this country has been characterized in general by a low level of struggle, even economic struggle, and this has enabled the bourgeoisie to conceal to a certain degree the sharp edge of its dictatorship over the proletariat in the U.S.; but even during this period there have been notable exceptions to this and numerous occasions upon which striking workers have been arrested, brutalized, even killed by the police or other armed forces of the bourgeois state. Add to this the consistent and vicious repression of the oppressed peoples in the U.S. and the bloody suppression by police, national guard and army units directed against mass uprisings of Black people and others during the high tide of struggle in the late 1960s and early 1970s, plus the murder of dozens of Black Panther Party members and other revolutionaries, along with the jailing of hundreds, perhaps thousands of revolutionary activists, and the real picture of phony democracy and actual dictatorship for the masses in this country begins to emerge more clearly.

In addition, the more or less “normal functioning” of capitalist society, upon examination, reveals undeniably that political affairs are thoroughly controlled by the bourgeoisie and its representatives. They completely dominate the mass media-millions and millions of dollars are required just to reach anything like a majority of the people with your political views–and they control access to vital information about political issues and world events. Further, the very division of labor of capitalist society determines that the millions of the working class and other poor and oppressed people are prevented from having any determining voice in the political life of capitalist society; and, should they attempt to do so, which necessarily brings them into direct confrontation with the capitalist state, then the armed forces of its dictatorship are ruthlessly unleashed against them.

With this understanding, the hysterical accusations of the capitalists that communists and socialist society stand for the destruction of democracy can be seen to be akin to the hypocritical and cynical cries of the rapist who screams that he has been assaulted by the person who has come to the rescue of his victim. In fact, communists stand for and socialist society represents the destruction of bourgeois democracy–democracy for the bourgeoisie and dictatorship over the proletariat and the masses generally–and the realization, for the first time, of real and unparalleled democracy for the masses of people through the dictatorship of the proletariat over the bourgeoisie. The rights of the masses of people–which under capitalism are suppressed and curtailed and in essence come down to the right to be exploited and oppressed and, at most, to elect which group among the oppressors shall preside over their enslavement–assume a completely different dimension and are of a qualitatively higher order once the proletariat has overthrown the bourgeoisie and established its own rule.

First of all, the most basic right of the masses in the new society, which it is impossible for them to exercise under capitalism, is the right to be the masters of society, in every sphere, and to transform it in their interests. But, in order for this to be achieved and continued, it must find expression in concrete policies and actions, above all in political life and struggle. As stressed earlier, the most crucial question for the newly-established proletarian state is to draw the millions and tens of millions of working class and other formerly oppressed people into the task of exercising political power and administering affairs of state. To this end, upon the establishment of political power by the proletariat in this country, the state will make available to the masses of people the vast means of communication that have been previously monopolized by the bourgeoisie. Television, radio, printing presses, billboards and other vehicles for the expression of political views will provide time and space for groups and representatives among the masses to put forward and struggle over their ideas on the major political questions; and the masses as a whole will be organized, in the factories, neighborhoods, farms, schools, armed forces, and so on to hear and debate these views and to struggle out these questions in general. All this will not be without leadership and direction; it will be under the overall guidance of the Party, but views and opinions expressed by the masses that are contrary to those of the Party will not be suppressed, unless they represent the attempts of actual counter-revolutionaries to bring about the overthrow of the proletariat’s political power and restore capitalism. And in that case, too, the masses themselves will be relied on to struggle against, expose and suppress such people and to distinguish through such struggle what are backward and mistaken ideas among the masses and what are actual attempts at fomenting counter-revolution.

Political leaders and leading bodies will be chosen and the criteria for leadership based not in the contest between selfseeking careerists to promote themselves into positions over the masses and establish economic as well as political relationships characteristic of capitalism–not, in other words, through the bourgeois electoral process. Instead, through consultation between, the Party and the masses, leadership will be established and developed from the basic levels of society to the leading political positions in the national government. Leaders themselves will continually emerge and be tested and tempered from among the masses and mass revolutionary struggle. The standard for leadership will be the demonstrated devotion to the cause of proletarian revolution, the determination to grasp and apply its revolutionary science and the ability to inspire and lead the masses in the same course. The masses and mass organizations in every institution throughout the country will not only be relied on by the Party in selecting such leadership but also in politically supervising it–struggling with and assisting leaders to stay on the revolutionary road, and ousting or overthrowing those who refuse to do so.

The masses will have the right, and it will be the policy of the Party and state to encourage them, to criticize their leaders, on any level, to hold meetings, organize demonstrations, put up posters, pass out leaflets and so on–again, with the exception of actual attempts to promote counter-revolution. To assist the masses in arriving at a higher level of unity through such struggle and in making the distinction between contradictions and contradictory views among their own ranks on the one hand and the views and actions of counter-revolutionaries on the other, the Party will not only provide overall leadership to this but will establish and publicize basic guidelines, along the following general lines: ideas and actions should help to strengthen, not undermine, the dictatorship of the proletariat and the mastery of the masses over society; to carry forward, not oppose, the socialist transformation of the economy; to promote unity, on a revolutionary basis, between different nationalities and men and women, not division between them; to uphold proletarian internationalism, not chauvinism and nationalism; to strengthen, including through criticism, the leading role of the Party, not weaken it; to promote the further revolutionization of society and the advance toward communism, not the reversal of the revolution and the restoration of capitalism; to foster the ideology of the proletariat and the revolutionizing of people’s thinking, not the ideological poison of the bourgeoisie and the force of tradition and habit.

Of course there will be many views and actions, on the part of people who are by no means counter-revolutionaries and do not seek a return to the old society, which nevertheless fall on the wrong side of the general criteria outlined above. And through lively, vigorous debate and struggle it will be possible both to win such people over to the correct, forward course and on the other hand to drag into the light of day and deal firmly with the minority of people who are pursuing counter-revolutionary objectives. General criteria such as those above will not themselves serve the purpose of determining which views can and cannot be heard–and people will not even have to agree with these criteria in order to exercise their rights to speak, etc.–but to strengthen the ability of the masses to determine the correct line of advance and unite around it and, in opposition to this, to identify the incorrect course and struggle against it, exposing in the process counterrevolutionary ideas, actions and elements and moving in the appropriate ways against them.

These basic rights and this general policy will not, however, be applied to the bourgeoisie and its agents. They and all proven counter-revolutionaries will be politically suppressed and prevented from making speeches, organizing meetings, holding demonstrations, and so on–by the action of the masses and the armed force of the proletarian dictatorship when necessary–for their views and actions can only be aimed at destroying the victories the masses have won through great sacrifice and plunging them back into the hell of the old society, with its capitalist exploitation and bourgeois dictatorship.

The same principles will be applied to the question of bearing arms. Not only is it a fundamental truth that proletarian revolution can only succeed in overthrowing capitalism through the armed struggle of the broad masses, but in the same way the power established by the proletariat must and can only rest on the armed might of the millions and millions of the working class and its allies; and for this reason, under the rule of the proletariat, they will not only retain their arms but be further trained in the use of various weapons. This, of course, does not mean that everybody will go to work, walk down the street, go shopping, etc. with a gun strapped on, like heroes (and villains) in the old cowboy movies, but that militias will be broadly organized, in factories, neighborhoods, schools–throughout society. Only the bourgeoisie and its agents and all proven counter-revolutionaries will be excluded from this–and, as for them, not only will they have no right to bear or use arms, but they will be the target of the armed dictatorship of the proletariat. The role of these mass militias, in overall coordination with the regular revolutionary armed forces, will be to help safeguard the proletarian state against its enemies–both within the country and outside it, both those openly hostile to the revolution and those who claim the mantle of Marxism and often are even leading Party officials but are exposed as actual counterrevolutionaries.

Here a crucial question comes into sharp focus. The guns must be in the hands of the masses for the revolution to be made, defended and carried forward. But this is not mainly a matter of whether or not the masses literally possess arms, are organized into the militia together with the regular armed forces, etc. This is important, but most fundamental is the question of the political consciousness of the masses who possess these arms and who make up the armed forces and militia–for only if they are educated and trained in the basic outlook and method of Marxism, in theory and practice, and are enabled through both study and concrete political struggle to distinguish revolution from counter-revolution and genuine from sham Marxism, will they know what to fight for and what to fight against, what to uphold and what to suppress, what they should put their lives on the line to defend and what to crush–and only in this basic sense will the guns really, politically, be in the hands of the masses and will they be able to maintain their rule over society and revolutionize it according to the class outlook and interests of the proletariat.

A specific question that the proletarian state will have to deal with is religion and religious activity. Communists are atheists: they do not believe in supernatural forces or beings of any kind and instead understand that it is the masses themselves, through taking up and applying the principles of Marxism and on that basis grasping and acting in accordance with the laws determining the development of things, who must and will achieve their own emancipation and continually advance humanity’s mastery over the rest of nature. And further, they recognize that the role of religion is to instill in the masses the sense that they are powerless before the forces of nature, and those that rule over them in society, and to console them in their misery rather than arousing them to rise up and abolish the source of it through revolutionary struggle. On the other hand, and in fact for this same reason, the Party, as the leading force of the working class and in the proletarian state, cannot and must not attempt to force people to give up religious beliefs, but must wage an ideological struggle over this question and rely on those among the masses who hold such beliefs to cast them off as they come to see, through the advance of the revolution and the increasing mastery of the masses over society–and nature–that these beliefs are incorrect, and more than that a burden carried over from capitalism and the dead weight of backward tradition.

Therefore, the proletarian state will on the one hand uphold the right of people to believe in religion and on the other hand propagate atheism and educate the masses in the scientific world view of Marxism in opposition to all religious beliefs. As for the carrying out of organized religious activities, this will be dealt with in different ways, depending on the circumstances. Those who attempt to carry out counter-revolutionary political activities and the exploitation of the masses under the cloak of religion will be prevented from doing so and politically suppressed, together with counter-revolutionaries of all other kinds. As for those who support, or at least do not actively oppose, the exercise of political power by the proletariat, the socialist transformation of the economy and the continuing revolutionization of society, they will not be prevented from holding religious services and other similar activities and they will even be provided with the necessary facilities and materials for doing so. However, they will not be allowed special privileges nor, again, permitted to use religion as means or cover to exploit the labor of others or otherwise accumulate funds from religious activities and oppress the masses. While providing the necessary facilities and materials for religious persons and activities that do not commit such crimes against the masses, the proletarian state will also monitor and regulate their finances, to prevent them from becoming a source of capital or otherwise employed in violation of the principles and laws of the socialist state. At the same time, through the educational system and other means, the Bible, the Talmud, the Koran and other religious doctrine will be analyzed and criticized with the science of Marxism. In this way, and in general through the process of ideological struggle and persuasion, together with the overall advance through the socialist revolution toward communism, the masses themselves will be enabled to break and cast away the bond of religion and other mental and material shackles and achieve their full emancipation.