Concepts of dictatorship of the proletariat

Chris, London 100423.2040 at
Mon Feb 19 16:54:48 MST 1996

I missed the orginal post by Mike, on which Bruce was commenting,
and I see the thread is already far advanced but no one so far
appears to have mentioned Hal Draper's book "The Dictatorship of the
Proletariat" from Marx to Lenin, Monthly Review Press 1987 pb

I found the detailed discussion of different usages by Marx and his
contemporaries quite convincing, but I would be interested in comments
by others.

Now today, even if we agree that "dictatorship of the proletariat" is
likely to be misunderstood, what is the essence of what has to be addressed?

Not just I think the dominance of working people over the supporters of
capital, up to and including the complete bringing of economic activities under
social control, as well as the power to prevent armed subversion.

Also a point I have pushed from time to time. My reading of Marx's on the Jewish
Question is that civil (buergerlich) society is not merely the arena for
struggle, that Gramscians emphasise. It is not the ideal state of freedom that
the bourgeoisie implies, but often does not provide for the working class.
It is an atomised anarchic society which is the essential counterpart of
the triumph of commodity exchange.

By contrast the establishment of socially coherent working class values
that are organically, sensuously linked with the life of ordinary people,
may be in conflict with buergerlich society. It can be experienced as a form
of tyranny: the nanny state, political correctness, do-gooders, vegetarians,
greens, pedestrian only areas.

Without getting into these themes, many of which
are not purely proletarian, the point I want to make is that a genuine
socialist democracy will evolve powerful collective dynamics. Hopefully
that will have nothing to do with dictatorship by terror or coercion, but there
will be social pressures on people who might just want the abstract
freedom to be atomised members of civil (buergerlich) society.
They will not just be capitalists or those wanting a capitalist restoration.

That is one of the nettles I think we have to grasp.


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