Mark Jones: Theses on Party, Revolution and State

Louis Proyect lnp3 at SPAMpanix.com
Tue Nov 23 08:12:55 MST 1999



Two and a half centuries ago, the Industrial Revolution began in a
developing country on the margins of the world-system, a small state whose
average living standards were no higher than China's, the economy still
backward by comparison. Britain's break-out into sustained growth
catapulted the West from marginality to the core of the world-system. In
1750 average English per capita incomes were around $200 1960 dollars:
China's were a little higher.

By 1960, English incomes had increased ten-fold; but Chinese incomes had
fallen to $170 per capita. The era of industrial capitalism was a
catastrophe for most of Asia. The pendulum of development swung west.

Since the 1970s manufacturing industry has declined absolutely and
relatively (excluding oil). 16% of GNP comes from manufacturing industry.
Britain is  deindustrialised. Its economy was among the first to be
privatised, deregulated, globalised, its national bourgeoisie transformed
into a burgeoning class of rentier-capitalists.

The British working class has been restructured out of its birthright and
out of its collective identity. The country is now a fiefdom of
international finance capital, its  working class little more than
servitors of the City, which has now consolidated its national hegemony
while totally internationalising itself.

The country now exists as an adjunct of the City. Apart from finance
capital, Britain's most successful trades are the Intelligence Service, the
Armed Forces and the arms industry. Manufacturing money is the sole
function of capitalism in Britain (one cannot speak of 'British capitalism'
any more), and thus has world capitalism achieved an apotheosis: it was
Marx who first defined capitalism as a mode of production whose exclusive
concern was the production of capital rather than the production of goods,
but no major capitalist power has accomplished the materialisation of that
goal in everyday life before. For this reason, the world slump which is now
in its early stages will have peculiarly sharp social effects in Britain.

Britain's role as the world's largest financial offshore island, the
world's leading money-launderer (as much as $200bn of narcodollars and
dirty money in some years is washed in the City's giant laundry), its
self-appointed segregation from Europe and refusal to participate in EMU
(economic and monetary union) means that the fate of sterling, pummelled
between the euro and the dollar, will likely be grisly. British capitalism
has become a phantasmagoria where all that should be real has already been
virtualised: in a generalised world economic crisis the first things to
disappear will be the great institutions of world finance: the banks,
dealing-houses and true transnationals, and above them the great parastatal
instances like the IMF and World Bank. The disproportionate weight of
banking, finance and transnational corporate capital in the British economy
means that the effects of crisis in these sectors will spread with
lightning speed and devastating effect through what passes for the
specifically-national economy.

Just as a collapse in the world market will destroy the chains linking
together multinational manufacturing operations, beaching like dead whales
the shiny new hi-tech assembly plants scattered through the neocolonies,
severing the links of trade and finance, so the reverberations will
particularly severe in countries like Britain where so much transnational
capital is headquartered.

The first and most evident consequence of the crisis will be the deep de-
globalization of economy and as in the USSR interstate borders and barriers
will be restored and strengthened and the nations will restore their full
sovereignty including prevention of emigration and extradition of
immigrants and foreigners. Without communist leadership, the British
working class will be easy prey for the worst kinds of chauvinist and
outright fascist manipulations, in conditions of accelerating social
breakdown and mass unemployment. As will be true in large states like the
US and China, Britain will experience centrifugal forces tearing the union
apart. Independent Scotland looks set to be the first major breach. There
will be others.

A generalised slump of the depth that is possible on current trends will
have the effect of making the world market seem to simply disappear. The
most advanced companies, those that rely most on world trade, will be
destroyed. The high technology sector will collapse early on -- until it is
reincoporated into a militarised economy, which will perhaps be the second
stage of the crisis, as the world shapes up for war. Just as international
bodies like UN, UNESCO, WTO, World Bank, etc. will cease to exist or become
vestigial structures without real power or influence -- and as even the
idea of international legislation and international rights disappears - so
too the British state, which is no more than a rampart around the city and
the vast class of rentier capitalists, middle-class parasites and their
servants and menials -- will cease to function except as a militarised
instance of bourgeois class power. One thing is clear: the major
international crises of this century, 1914- 1919 and 1939-1945 -- contained
within them the seeds of their own resolution and were the forcing houses
of great news waves of capitalist accumulation. It is also true that the
crisis of 1914 arose on the cusp of a revolutionary proletarian wave. This
was the only occasion in the history of capitalism when a breach opened
wide enough in the system for world revolution to be thinkable as an
outcome, though the counter- revolutionary wave that began in 1919 aborted
this result. Today, so many planetary potentialities have been squandered
irretrievably by world capitalism and the forces of repression and
counter-revolution are so much stronger and more malevolent now than then.
The historical impasse faced by capitalism is so much deeper now than 80
years ago, but equally the danger to the revolution is almost unfathomably
vast. Revolution in Britain is part of a wider international process. The
complex interlinking of British society and economy with international
capitalism deepens the international dimension of British communism and
means that the Communist Party Refoundation places an equal emphasis on
international work compared to its national tasks. In these conditions,
proletarian revolution can only succeed if if is led by a party with iron
discipline, a party which is prepared to seize the time and deal
mercilessly with its enemies.

Today, the Labour movement in Britain is a pale shadow of what it once was.
The working class which created the revolutionary democracy of the Chartist
movement, which built the world's first mass trade union movement, which
moved forward towards class independence by creating a political party
based on mass organisation, is in a state of effective political
disenfranchisement.

Under Blair, Labour has turned away from even the pretence of representing
the working class. It is openly pro-capitalist and anti-worker. The
continued support given to Labour by sections of the working class is the
reflection of no more than the absence of a genuinely proletarian
alternative. And the continued electoral support given to Labour by the
so-called revolutionary left is no more than absolute proof of their utter
irrelevance to the pressing tasks of the day.

Kier Hardie and the others who in the first decade of this century formed
the Labour Representation Committee broke with the Liberal Party, but were
still in the tenets of bourgeois ideo-political hegemony. Their politics
were indistinguishable in all essentials from those of the Liberals they
sought to replace as the elected representatives of the working class.

The Labour Party emerged first as the expression above all of the Labour
aristocracy (see Edwardian Risings). If it represented working class
politics at all, it did so on the basis of trade union politics, which, as
Lenin argued in 'What is to be Done?' is still bourgeois politics. Inside
the early working class movements of Europe, battle was done between those
who sought only to better the lot of Labour within capitalism, and those
who sought its overthrow. This struggle was over nothing less than the
class nature of the Labour movement itself and whether the movement was to
be proletarian or petty bourgeois. In Britain, the outcome was rarely in
doubt. Labour was never a socialist party prior to 1917, and only adopted
Clause 4 as a figleaf to disguise its real nature from theilitant workers
who saw in the Russian revolution and the tactics of the Bolsheviks the key
to their own class emancipation.

Labour was a party of the working class, but never truly a party for the
working class. Its mass membership and support was from the working class,
but its leaders were scoundrels of the worst kind, as Lenin noted: the
Labour Lieutenants of Capital. Lenin captured the essence of the Labour
Party when he described it as a bourgeois workers party. Under Blair, it is
not even that: it is a bourgeois party pure and simple. The fledgling
Communist movement in Britain was never more than a small minority of the
working class. It is doubtful that it would even have been formed as a
party had it not been for the Russian revolution and the active
intervention of Lenin and the Communist International. As it was, the
Communist Party of Great Britain was cobbled together from a handful of
nominally Marxist groups with little influence and even less tactical
sensibility. The largest component of the new party, the former British
Socialist Party, bore no comparison with Lenin's Bolsheviks, and was
riddled with opportunism. The other components offered the counter-balance
of ultra-leftism and sectarianism. That such a party was built, let alone
that it should have consolidated itself within the most radical sections of
the British working class on a national scale, is a tribute to both the
vision and patience of the Communist International, and the quality and
determination of the early CP's members, who faced up to the challenges as
best they could and transformed themselves beyond recognition in a few
short years.

We should be wary of looking at the history of the Labour Party through
rose tinted spectacles, and equally careful not to exaggerate the virtues
of the CPGB. Unable to challenge Labour's leadership of the working class,
the party slowly but surely was sucked into the social- democratic swamp of
the Labour mainstream. The party's finest hours: the National Unemployed
Workers Movement, the Hunger Strikes, the rank and file militancy of the
General Strike, the Battle of Cable Street, the International Brigades:
these and more are part of our history and we are proud of them. But the
CPGB was never Bolshevised. In 1926 it could offer no alternative to the
left-wing of Labour, and was powerless to resist the betrayal of the
General Strike organised by Labour and the TUC. In the 1930s its
application of the tactics of the 7th World Congress of the Communist
International bore an increasingly opportunist stamp. By 1939 the party was
so disoriented it initially sided with its own bourgeoisie in the phony war
with Hitlerite Fascism. By 1945, the party was completely at sea: its
perspectives, laid out in countless Central Committee statements and
articles by leading party members, were no longer for the armed overthrow
of the bourgeois state, but rather the gradual transformation of the class
nature of the state through the election of a left-wing Labour government
with strong Communist support outside and inside parliament. The CPGB
turned revisionist nearly a decade before Stalin died, and more than a
decade before the 20th Congress of the CPSU.

Communists in Britain must face up to this ambiguous history, and learn the
appropriate lessons. The fighters for revolution of the 20s and 30s, people
like Wal Hannington, Palme Dutt, Tom Bell, Harry Pollitt, turned into the
new revisionists of the post-war boom. And the roots for this social
democratic degeneration must be sought in the nature of the early CPGB
itself, and its failure to truly break with the politics of the past.

In pre-revolutionary Russia the opportunism of the Economists and the
Mensheviks had been countered by the clear response of the Bolsheviks, but
in Britain the opportunism of the CPGB leaders evoked little response. A
few figures stand out in the anti-revisionist movement which developed in
the 1950s and 1960s - men such as John Buckle, Cornelius Cardrew, Michael
McCreary - but from the outset the anti-revisionist movement was riven with
factionalism, opportunism, sectarianism, ultra- leftism and personal
megalomania, not to mention the undeniable hand of the state. The
anti-revisionist movement failed to establish itself as a viable
alternative. This was due in some part to the actual policies of the
Chinese and Albanian parties which led the anti-revisionist movement
internationally, but there fault also lies at home. Today, the weaknesses
of the anti-revisionist movement are as great as ever, played out the first
time as tragedy, and now as farce.

Trotskyists spent long years denouncing every other force as Stalinist
betrayers but were congenitally incapable of filling the vacuum created by
the inevitable demise of the CPGB. These social-democratic pretenders have
never been more than a roadblock to revolution: they have done the bidding
of the class enemy, wittingly or not. Either way, the result is the same.
They offer no solution to the working class. Like the reformists they claim
to despise, they must be swept aside. The same applies to the intellectual
left, academic Marxists making their ample living through the sytematic
gutting of Marxism of its revolutionary essence. Their output is prolific,
its value slight.

They form an organic part of the petty bourgeois intelligentsia,
distinguishable from the mainstream of academia only by the audacity of
their posturing. They are the opposite of those genuine bourgeois
intellectuals, like Marx and Engels, who came over to the working class and
indentified with it completely. Having failed to proletarianise themselves,
their role was to turn the working class movement into an adjunct of the
petty bourgeoisie. They played a leading role in the final dissolution of
the revisionist CPGB, but today serve no purpose other than to erect yet
another roadblock to revolutionary renewal and regroupment. Far from being
part of the solution to the crisis of the revolutionary movement, they are
part of the problem.

Tempered in class struggle raging through the entire historical and social
space of the capitalist world system, the proletariat is entrenching round
the bastions of power and privilege. That is one of the meanings of
underdevelopment ('de-development'): the creation of vast social
hinterlands which are in some sense off-limits to capital; as if capitalism
has turned history inside out and itself become an archipelago of enclaves
webbing the world and laced together by fast transport systems and
electronic nets. These enclaves exist in the South too, in centres of
super-affluence and among newly-formed middle classes which in India and
China are hundreds of millions strong.

These broad strata of new wealth were created out of the one-sided booms of
the 1980s and 1990s, on the backs of deregulation, privatisation and opened
markets. These social layers no longer identify with 'their' nation or
culture, or even their native tongue. They are rootless, cosmopolitan,
dreaming of different horizons, fanatical only about brand names, despising
and repudiating their poorer fellow- citizens. They are the body and
substance of the New World Order, and they owe their allegiances to the
MacDonaldised, Hollywoodised cultural utopias of western philistinism.
These are the true beneficiaries of globalism, and they have the most to
lose, so they are the natural constituency for neofascist movements,
craving strong men and fearing the submerged, sullen masses surrounding
them on all sides. Outside these super-affluent enclaves and the middle
class outworks that cluster round them like merchant settlements at the
foot of a Norman castle, are vast and growing reservoirs of marginalised
and lumpenised humanity -- which exist in the opulent North, too. The
surging populations of the barrios and megacities are vast sources of
inscrutable discontents and potential revolt. Just as the Victorians,
fearing social cataclysm in the new industrial cities of England, built
schools, invented new forms of social incorporation and created a whole new
mass psychology to capture the working class which in 1848 Marx and Engels
mistakenly thought were ready for revolution, so too the votaries of
globalism have had their tasks set them.

But in the same way that productive capital has been centralised to a
fantastic, unheard of degree, so too has cultural production become focused
in a few locations, Hollywood supreme among them, eclipsing the rest and
converting world culture in every capital city into a subordinate form of
Hollywood. Similarly, US imperialism has now begun a colossal experiment
with information technology; for, compared to a century ago, there is now
no possibility of constructing such luxuries as schools, institutes,
centres of learning and research.

The social infrastructure the developed world takes for granted will never
exist in the neocolonies. The West's complex systems of education, health
and social welfare arose out of a historic process of accumulation which
has ended. Caught in the scissors of growing resource and environmental
constraints and burgeoning population, such social programmes cannot keep
pace with existing deman let alone meet the unsatisfied expectations of the
billions of new city-dwellers in the poor South.

Their educational opportunities will be confined to 'distance learning',
and capitalism will take the cost out of education in the same way and at
the same time that it dumbs down the content. That is the real meaning
behind the hosannas raised to the fantastic, magical powers of the Net:
nothing more elaborate as the prosaic, same-old, same-old: social control
and indoctrination at minimum cost, with the added bonus of almost total
surveillance. And such dismal prospects do not only await young people in
the neocolonies. In the West, too, capitalism has embarked on multi-
pronged strategies for sucking the value of all forms of social provision;
US universities already point the way to the bleak McDonaldised future of
Microsoft-run Internet 'faculties', in which not merely the values of the
liberal arts and sciences are debauched, but even human contact between
teachers and learners will become the exception, not the rule. Yes, the Net
will guarantee the success of something which the bourgeois has dreamed of
since the time of Jeremy Bentham: the Panopticon society where all
communications of every kind will be monitored and controlled, the real Big
Brother world where all authentic space within civil society will be shut
down amid blazes of Hollywood fireworks, and it will become literally
impossible for any opposition movement: let alone the Communists! -- to
gain a foothold and develop. It is a hopeless dream and a fantasy. With it
go darker, still more atavistic fantasies: perhaps genetic engineering will
endow the super- privileged with immortality? Perhaps the white races of
the North will engineer their own successors, a race of true supermen, thus
realising not just Nietzsche's dream but Hitler's too? Just as the poets of
imperialism: men like Kipling and even Jack London: anticipated the fruits
of imperialism as a world inm which lesser races would meet their
inevitable doom, as indeed the Indians of the American plains already had:
so too, the modern poets of cybertopia (people like Kevin Kelley: a whole
lot more dumbed-down and idotically philistine, needless to say) envisage a
futureworld not much different from the set of Star Trek.

For Communists there is no Law but Party Law. No justice but Party justice.
No truth but Marxism-Leninism. The Party is the honour, mind and conscience
of our epoch. We serve its cause, hold high its banner, strive to rebuff
the Party's enemies, and we acknowledge no higher duty. Communists cherish
as their dearest possession, the vitality of the Party and strive by all
means to safeguard its material basis. Service to the Party is the highest
form of service, fulfilling its tasks our single obsession. Our lives are
one with the life of the Party. Soldiers of the Revolution, Party-fighters
show indomitable will to win and, fearing nothing themselves, arouse
terrible fear in their enemies, since Communists are implacable foes of
imperialism, relentless grave-diggers of capitalism.

Guided by the moral and intellectual disicpline of Marxism-Leninism,
communists do not  shirk battle but seek it out. No flag has a prouder
history, or been more stained with the  betrayal than ours. Both stories
are our story and we cherish all that is in our history. With revolutionary
humility we declare uncompromsing war on corruption, sloth, routinism and
betrayal in our own ranks, the better to carry the fight to the enemy. We
pledge to uphold the dignity and honour of the Party. We are glad of the
hatred of our enemies and we welcome it as a sign of the justice of cour
cause hypocrisy of the enemy, we do not fear them. The greater the frenzy
the whip up, the more vigilant and certain we shall be. Stripping away the
sanctimonious veils of hypocrisy behind which the imperialists hide their
bloody crimes, the Communists indict them before history, subjecting
imperialism to the hammer-blows of encompassing revolutionary war.

The Party is a fortress of revolution, the arsenal of our theory and
practice. Imperialists steeped in the blood of the oppressed recognise the
menace to their interests of the Communist Party. They have always and will
always do their best to strangle the infant revolution in its cradle,
knowing no law or conscience. Those who will tell any lie, make any
promise, commit any crime, must face the consequences. The Party stands for
revolutionary justice. The criminality of ruling regimes must be answered
in kind. They are without honour, their law is a sham, their morality an
obscene mockery, they hold nothing sacred -- even their own laws. Then why
should we? We shall keep faith with our Party and our Class.

They can bury Communism a million times, they can besmirch the name of
Lenin, they can ridicule the achievements of Marx. But the Party lives and
shall live.

Communists have the task and duty of fiercely criticising the weaknesses,
backsliding and defects of the Party and that also is a way of defending
the Party from informers, backsliders and traitors. The test of a Communist
Party is the attitude its members take to it. If the inner life of a Party
is characterised by freedom to criticise, if criticism is not stifled but
encouraged, then the Party is healthy and has not been subverted by the
enemy and its political police.

The Party is intellectually open. Party fighters engage on ideological,
theoretical and cultural fronts in a general contestation of ideas  and to
destroy the legitimatory apologetics of the imperialists. The importance of
these battles is in disarming bourgeois science and ideology, blinding the
enemy and liquidating his ideological hegemony.

More, it is a preparation to assume state power. The proletariat must learn
to rule and to create its own future. This task is impossible unless the
Communists master science, technology, culture and philosophy. Marx and
Lenin proclaimed this as an overriding task: the conquest of power also
means seizing the heights of culture and science, means capturing the
superstructure. The slogan 'socialism or barbarism' also means this:
without its effortless mastery of science, technology and culture, the
proletariat and its Party cannot avoid barbarism. Without mastering the
whole of bourgeois civil society and conquering the intellectual division
of labour, the proletariat itself will be incapable of becoming autonomous
and of leading society forward to Communism. The Party must become a
forcing-house of ideas, an intellectual ferment of new thought and new
theory which is more vital, vibrant and significant than the Academy. Only
through a sharp struggle of ideas can Marxism-Leninism be salvaged from the
scrapyard of dumbed-down cop-created theory and be pushed back centre-stage.

Marxism-Leninism can never be a sterile liturgy or an empty patristics. No
set of ideas is sacred and immune from criticism; no dogma is so set in
concrete that we do not have the right to criticise it with all our force
and skill.

Marxism has lost all revolutionary content and become a plaything of the
University left, a variant of political sociology or left-economics.
Marxism became core-curriculum in the Academy, who parasitically depend on
its insights. But Marxist theory was also asphyxiated by mindless
sectarianism.

The Communist Party Refoundation stands on its head a sixty-year history of
defeat and betrayal. The Party stands for vigorous intellectual life; the
Central Committee will not tolerate dogmatism and ideological or
theoretical sterility. The Party will stake out its claim for ideological
and theoretical, as well as political hegemony. Just as Communists have a
right and a duty to participate fully in the inner life of the Party and
above all to exercise the right to inner-party freedom of criticism, so to
does the working class. The Party engages in all kinds of mass work, in
political campaigns and even in armed insurrectionary struggle. Communists
have a duty to struggle against the reflexive passivity, fatalism and
submissiveness of the workers themselves, which centuries of subjection
have inculcated. Communists have a duty of care for the lives of workers
and the oppressed. They cannot give orders or make demands. They can serve,
and offer all and any material, moral and political assistance to workers
which is in their power. Communists are not bosses.

They also have a duty of care for their comrades, and should strive to have
comradely, harmonious relations with other Party members, and never to show
arrogance or vainglory, never to refuse justified criticism or to avoid
self-criticism, never to indulge or humour others whom they know to be wrong.

Theses on the State and Revolution

1. The state is the product of the division of society into classes. So
long as class society exists, the state can be nothing other than the
political expression of the domination of one class over the others.
Whatever its form, it must always be the dictatorship of a class. This is
as true of the modern democratic republic as it is of open fascism. Under
capitalism, the state is always in the final analysis the dictatorship of
the bourgeoisie. And this dictatorship always rests upon special bodies of
armed men: the armed forces, police, courts and prisons of the bourgeoisie.

2. The working class cannot simply lay hold of the existing state machinery
and wield it for its own purposes. In order to establish its rule, the
working class is forced to create its own organs of state power in the
course of its struggles. These embryonic organs of working class rule
inevitably clash with the traditional organs of bourgeois dictatorship. In
the course of the revolution, one state faces another. The fate of the
revolution depends on the outcome of this confrontation. Either the
proletariat and its allies will smash the existing state and establish its
own dictatorship, or the bourgeois state will drown the revolution in blood.

3. A primary function of the bourgeois state is to secure the conditions
for the expanded reproduction of capital. Its function is to represent
capital in general. The state must therefore defend the long-term interests
of the capitalist class as a whole against the short term interests of
individual fractions of capital. This was the case with social legislation
such as the 19th century Factory Acts. The state is guarantor of capitalist
relations of production and their conditions of existence. Unless it is
able to operate in autonomy from the interests of particular capitals, it
cannot fulfill this role.

The one commodity which capital cannot produce, is labour-power. This
commodity is the only source of value and therefore of profit. Capitalism
cannot exist without labour. It is therefore a primary function of the
capitalist state to secure the reproduction of labour power as a commodity,
which is to say the reproduction, and also subordination of the proletariat
as a class. This is no simple process. When the British capitalist state
intervened to protect the interests of the working class within capitalism,
it was doing so in order to secure the expansion of capital. And yet by
doing that, the state appeared to be intervening on the behalf of labour
against capital. It was doing nothing of the sort. This is the masquerade
which feeds illusions about the beneficence and impartiality of the state
and which constitutes the principal mechanism of mystification about the
true function of the capitalist state. From here spring illusions about
democracy, the idea of the state being above society, representing the
interests of the 'whole people' against the narrow sectional interests of
capital.

Without the state, the reproduction of the capital-labour relation is
inconceivable. But equally, without its relative autonomy with respect to
individual capitals, the capitalist state itself cannot perform its central
tasks.

The autonomy of the state, far from establishing the independence of the
state from capital, is no more than a condition of existence of the
capitalist mode of production. The capitalist state is part and parcel of
the capital- labour relation, the primary safeguard of its continued
development.

Without the state, no capitalism. By the same token, without smashing the
state, it is impossible to smash capitalism. Lenin wrote that politics is
the concentration of economics. Capitalism cannot be destroyed without
liquidating its political conditions of existence.

4. So long as the bourgeois state exists, the bourgeoisie is still in
power. Until that state is overthrown and a proletarian dictatorship
erected in its stead, there can be no talk of building socialism. This is
the fundamental lesson of all revolutions and counter-revolutions of the
past two hundred years. In Chile from 1970-73, a left-wing social
democratic government held office. The failure of the Chilean working class
to recognise the real class nature of the state, and its failure to
confront the armed might of that state with its own armed force, inevitably
led to the blood bath ushered in by the Pinochet coup. No change of
personnel, no structural reforms of the bourgeois state can change its
class nature. The bourgeois state cannot be reformed, it must be overthrown.

5. Following the successful seizure of power by the armed proletariat, the
new revolutionary order is forced to defend itself ruthlessly against its
class enemies within and without its borders. The dictatorship of the
proletariat must be merciless with its enemies. It can allow no room for
manoeuvre to the bourgeoisie, which, despite its overthrow, retains much of
its strength and redoubles its efforts to regain what it has lost. While it
is an enormous liberating force for the great majority, the dictatorship of
the proletariat is under no circumstances to be confused with  unbridled
democracy. For workers, it represents the fullest flowering of democracy
and liberation. For the bourgeoisie, it is unbridled repression. For the
intermediate strata, the only choice is to side with the triumphant
proletariat, or suffer the same fate as the bourgeoisie.

6. Just as it is the prime function of the bourgeois state to secure the
material and social conditions for the further reproduction of the
capitalist mode of production, so too the prime social function of the
proletarian dictatorship can only be to secure the political conditions for
the suppression of capitalism and its entire division of labour. Just as
the capitalist state itself constitutes an indispensable component of the
social relations of production of capitalism, so too the proletarian state
constitutes the key element in the suppression of those relations. Without
the proletarian dictatorship, the transition to communism is impossible.

7. Class struggle continues during the transition to communism and even
intensifies as bourgeois resistance grows desperate. Engels said a
revolution is the most authoritarian thing imaginable - the process by
which one class overthrows and represses another. There are consequently no
grounds for liberal illusions in the transition period: so long as classes
exist in the transition period, the working class exercises its iron
dictatorship over every aspect of life. Without this iron dictatorship, the
transition to communism and the eradication of classes is simply impossible.

8. The higher stage of communism, when classes have ceased to exist, is
organised on the basis of from each according to their ability, to each
according to their needs. This is inconceivable without the overcoming of
the bourgeois division of labour, without the transcendence of the division
between mental and manual labour, between town and countryside. Only when
this has been achieved can it be said that classes have been completely
eradicated. Until that time, the proletariat must maintain its
dictatorship.  It is clear that this is a protracted process stretching
over an entire historical epoch. It is equally clear that this great leap
on the part of humanity is impossible without a cultural revolution which
raises the level of the working class and lays the foundation for the
supersession of the old division of labour.

Without this cultural revolution, it is idle to talk of the transition from
capitalism to communism.

9. The first act of the proletarian dictatorship is to seize control over
the means of production, and the organisation of production on a rational,
planned basis. But just as the proletariat cannot simply seize hold of the
existing state apparatus and wield it for its own ends, neither can it
simply adapt the existing process of social production and continue its
current pattern of development.

Engels described the seizure of the means of production and putting them
under the control of the state as simply the first step which provides the
formal means for the solution that is needed. The real solution, the
construction of a truly human society which is free from exploitation and
alienation and in which the condition for the full development of one is
the full development of all, requires the revolutionising of society, and
above all of production, from the bottom up. It is not enough to take over
capitalist technology and capitalist industry and to use them to raise the
living standards of the masses. The construction of socialism is not the
extension of capitalist methods of industrial development to every corner
of the globe. On the contrary, the construction of socialism is the
revolutionary reconstruction of society on a totally different basis.
Socialism is not about the satisfaction of existing demands on the basis of
the abundant production of consumer durables: it is about the unleashing of
the full potential of human creativity and productivity in a way which is
inconceivable under capitalism.

10. The transition to communism is simultaneously the development of a new
society, new relations of production, and a completely new human being. The
conditions of life will not only be improved, they will be revolutionised
and put on a fully human basis for the first time. The transition to
communism is not the culmination of history: it is the end of humanity's
prehistory. It is the start of history in the true sense. Communism is not
the further development of the capitalist division of labour, it is its
complete supersession.

Mark Jones
Moderator, Leninist-International listserv
November 1999

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Louis Proyect

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