Category: Party Voices
Vladimir Ilyich Lenin- The State and Revolution (1917) Part V “The Economic Basis of the Withering Away of the State”

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Vladimir Ilyich Lenin- The State and Revolution (1917) Part V “The Economic Basis of the Withering Away of the State”

The State and Revolution.
By Vladimir Ilyich Lenin.
First Published: 1918.
Source: V.I.Lenin, Collected Works, Volume 25, p.381-492.
Marx explains this question most thoroughly in his Critique of the Gotha Programme (letter to Bracke, May 5, 1875, which was not published until 1891 when it was printed in Neue Zeit, vol. IX, 1, and which has appeared in Russian in a special edition). The polemical part of this remarkable work, which contains a criticism of Lassalleanism, has, so to speak, overshadowed its positive part, namely, the analysis of the connection between the development of communism and the withering away of the state.
1. Presentation of the Question by Marx
From a superficial comparison of Marx’s letter to Bracke of May 5, 1875, with Engels’ letter to Bebel of March 28, 1875, which we examined above, it might appear that Marx was much more of a “champion of the state” than Engels, and that the difference of opinion between the two writers on the question of the state was very considerable.
Engels suggested to Bebel that all chatter about the state be dropped altogether, that the word “state” be eliminated from the programme altogether and the word “community” substituted for it. Engels even declared that the Commune was long a state in the proper sense of the word. Yet Marx even spoke of the “future state in communist society”, i.e., he would seem to recognize the need for the state even under communism.
But such a view would be fundamentally wrong. A closer examination shows that Marx’s and Engels’ views on the state and its withering away were completely identical, and that Marx’s expression quoted above refers to the state in the process of withering away.
Clearly, there can be no question of specifying the moment of the future “withering away”, the more so since it will obviously be a lengthy process. The apparent difference between Marx and Engels is due to the fact that they wealth with different subject and pursued different aims. Engels set out to show Bebel graphically, sharply, and in broad outline the utter absurdity of the current prejudices concerning the state (shared to no small degree by Lassalle). Marx only touched upon this question in passing, being interested in another subject, namely, the development of communist society.
The whole theory of Marx is the application of the theory of development–in its most consistent, complete, considered and pithy form–to modern capitalism. Naturally, Marx was faced with the problem of applying this theory both to the forthcoming collapse of capitalism and to the future development of future communism.
On the basis of what facts, then, can the question of the future development of future communism be dealt with?
On the basis of the fact that it has its origin in capitalism, that it develops historically from capitalism, that it is the result of the action of a social force to which capitalism gave birth. There is no trace of an attempt on Marx’s part to make up a utopia, to indulge in idle guess-work about what cannot be known. Marx treated the question of communism in the same way as a naturalist would treat the question of the development of, say, a new biological variety, once he knew that it had originated in such and such a way and was changing in such and such a definite direction.
To begin with, Marx brushed aside the confusion the Gotha Programme brought into the question of the relationship between state and society. He wrote:
“‘Present-day society’ is capitalist society, which exists in all civilized countries, being more or less free from medieval admixture, more or less modified by the particular historical development of each country, more or less developed. On the other hand, the ‘present-day state’ changes with a country’s frontier. It is different in the Prusso-German Empire from what it is in Switzerland, and different in England from what it is in the United States. ‘The present-day state’ is, therefore, a fiction.
“Nevertheless, the different states of the different civilized countries, in spite of their motley diversity of form, all have this in common, that they are based on modern bourgeois society, only one more or less capitalistically developed. The have, therefore, also certain essential characteristics in common. In this sense it is possible to speak of the ‘present-day state’, in contrast with the future, in which its present root, bourgeois society, will have died off.
“The question then arises: what transformation will the state undergo in communist society? In other words, what social functions will remain in existence there that are analogous to present state functions? This question can only be answered scientifically, and one does not get a flea-hop nearer to the problem by a thousandfold combination of the word people with the word state.”
After thus ridiculing all talk about a “people’s state”, Marx formulated the question and gave warning, as it were, that those seeking a scientific answer to it should use only firmly-established scientific data.
The first fact that has been established most accurately by the whole theory of development, by science as a whole–a fact that was ignored by the utopians, and is ignored by the present-day opportunists, who are afraid of the socialist revolution–is that, historically, there must undoubtedly be a special stage, or a special phase, of transition from capitalism to communism.
2. The Transition from Capitalism to Communism
Marx continued:
“Between capitalist and communist society lies the period of the revolutionary transformation of the one into the other. Corresponding to this is also a political transition period in which the state can be nothing but the revolutionary dictatorship of the proletariat.”
Marx bases this conclusion on an analysis of the role played by the proletariat in modern capitalist society, on the data concerning the development of this society, and on the irreconcilability of the antagonistic interests of the proletariat and the bourgeoisie.
Previously the question was put as follows: to achieve its emancipation, the proletariat must overthrow the bourgeoisie, win political power and establish its revolutionary dictatorship.
Now the question is put somewhat differently: the transition from capitalist society–which is developing towards communism–to communist society is impossible without a “political transition period”, and the state in this period can only be the revolutionary dictatorship of the proletariat.
What, then, is the relation of this dictatorship to democracy?
We have seen that the Communist Manifesto simply places side by side the two concepts: “to raise the proletariat to the position of the ruling class” and “to win the battle of democracy”. On the basis of all that has been said above, it is possible to determine more precisely how democracy changes in the transition from capitalism to communism.
In capitalist society, providing it develops under the most favourable conditions, we have a more or less complete democracy in the democratic republic. But this democracy is always hemmed in by the narrow limits set by capitalist exploitation, and consequently always remains, in effect, a democracy for the minority, only for the propertied classes, only for the rich. Freedom in capitalist society always remains about the same as it was in the ancient Greek republics: freedom for the slave-owners. Owing to the conditions of capitalist exploitation, the modern wage slaves are so crushed by want and poverty that “they cannot be bothered with democracy”, “cannot be bothered with politics”; in the ordinary, peaceful course of events, the majority of the population is debarred from participation in public and political life.
The correctness of this statement is perhaps most clearly confirmed by Germany, because constitutional legality steadily endured there for a remarkably long time–nearly half a century (1871-1914)–and during this period the Social-Democrats were able to achieve far more than in other countries in the way of “utilizing legality”, and organized a larger proportion of the workers into a political party than anywhere else in the world.
What is this largest proportion of politically conscious and active wage slaves that has so far been recorded in capitalist society? One million members of the Social-Democratic Party – out of 15,000,000 wage-workers! Three million organized in trade unions–out of 15,000,000!
Democracy for an insignificant minority, democracy for the rich–that is the democracy of capitalist society. If we look more closely into the machinery of capitalist democracy, we see everywhere, in the “petty”–supposedly petty–details of the suffrage (residential qualifications, exclusion of women, etc.), in the technique of the representative institutions, in the actual obstacles to the right of assembly (public buildings are not for “paupers”!), in the purely capitalist organization of the daily press, etc., etc.,–we see restriction after restriction upon democracy. These restrictions, exceptions, exclusions, obstacles for the poor seem slight, especially in the eyes of one who has never known want himself and has never been inclose contact with the oppressed classes in their mass life (and nine out of 10, if not 99 out of 100, bourgeois publicists and politicians come under this category); but in their sum total these restrictions exclude and squeeze out the poor from politics, from active participation in democracy.
Marx grasped this essence of capitalist democracy splendidly when, in analyzing the experience of the Commune, he said that the oppressed are allowed once every few years to decide which particular representatives of the oppressing class shall represent and repress them in parliament!
But from this capitalist democracy–that is inevitably narrow and stealthily pushes aside the poor, and is therefore hypocritical and false through and through–forward development does not proceed simply, directly and smoothly, towards “greater and greater democracy”, as the liberal professors and petty-bourgeois opportunists would have us believe. No, forward development, i.e., development towards communism, proceeds through the dictatorship of the proletariat, and cannot do otherwise, for the resistance of the capitalist exploiters cannot be broken by anyone else or in any other way.
And the dictatorship of the proletariat, i.e., the organization of the vanguard of the oppressed as the ruling class for the purpose of suppressing the oppressors, cannot result merely in an expansion of democracy. Simultaneously with an immense expansion of democracy, which for the first time becomes democracy for the poor, democracy for the people, and not democracy for the money-bags, the dictatorship of the proletariat imposes a series of restrictions on the freedom of the oppressors, the exploiters, the capitalists. We must suppress them in order to free humanity from wage slavery, their resistance must be crushed by force; it is clear that there is no freedom and no democracy where there is suppression and where there is violence.
Engels expressed this splendidly in his letter to Bebel when he said, as the reader will remember, that “the proletariat needs the state, not in the interests of freedom but in order to hold down its adversaries, and as soon as it becomes possible to speak of freedom the state as such ceases to exist”.
Democracy for the vast majority of the people, and suppression by force, i.e., exclusion from democracy, of the exploiters and oppressors of the people–this is the change democracy undergoes during the transition from capitalism to communism.
Only in communist society, when the resistance of the capitalists have disappeared, when there are no classes (i.e., when there is no distinction between the members of society as regards their relation to the social means of production), only then “the state… ceases to exist”, and “it becomes possible to speak of freedom”. Only then will a truly complete democracy become possible and be realized, a democracy without any exceptions whatever. And only then will democracy begin to wither away, owing to the simple fact that, freed from capitalist slavery, from the untold horrors, savagery, absurdities, and infamies of capitalist exploitation, people will gradually become accustomed to observing the elementary rules of social intercourse that have been known for centuries and repeated for thousands of years in all copy-book maxims. They will become accustomed to observing them without force, without coercion, without subordination, without the special apparatus for coercion called the state.
The expression “the state withers away” is very well-chosen, for it indicates both the gradual and the spontaneous nature of the process. Only habit can, and undoubtedly will, have such an effect; for we see around us on millions of occassions how readily people become accustomed to observing the necessary rules of social intercourse when there is no exploitation, when there is nothing that arouses indignation, evokes protest and revolt, and creates the need for suppression.
And so in capitalist society we have a democracy that is curtailed, wretched, false, a democracy only for the rich, for the minority. The dictatorship of the proletariat, the period of transition to communism, will for the first time create democracy for the people, for the majority, along with the necessary suppression of the exploiters, of the minority. Communism alone is capable of providing really complete democracy, and the more complete it is, the sooner it will become unnecessary and wither away of its own accord.
In other words, under capitalism we have the state in the proper sense of the word, that is, a special machine for the suppression of one class by another, and, what is more, of the majority by the minority. Naturally, to be successful, such an undertaking as the systematic suppression of the exploited majority by the exploiting minority calls for the utmost ferocity and savagery in the matter of suppressing, it calls for seas of blood, through which mankind is actually wading its way in slavery, serfdom and wage labor.
Furthermore, during the transition from capitalism to communism suppression is still necessary, but it is now the suppression of the exploiting minority by the exploited majority. A special apparatus, a special machine for suppression, the “state”, is still necessary, but this is now a transitional state. It is no longer a state in the proper sense of the word; for the suppression of the minority of exploiters by the majority of the wage slaves of yesterday is comparatively so easy, simple and natural a task that it will entail far less bloodshed than the suppression of the risings of slaves, serfs or wage-laborers, and it will cost mankind far less. And it is compatible with the extension of democracy to such an overwhelming majority of the population that the need for a special machine of suppression will begin to disappear. Naturally, the exploiters are unable to suppress the people without a highly complex machine for performing this task, but the people can suppress the exploiters even with a very simple “machine”, almost without a “machine”, without a special apparatus, by the simple organization of the armed people (such as the Soviets of Workers’ and Soldiers’ Deputies, we would remark, running ahead).
Lastly, only communism makes the state absolutely unnecessary, for there is nobody to be suppressed–“nobody” in the sense of a class, of a systematic struggle against a definite section of the population. We are not utopians, and do not in the least deny the possibility and inevitability of excesses on the part of individual persons, or the need to stop such excesses. In the first place, however, no special machine, no special apparatus of suppression, is needed for this: this will be done by the armed people themselves, as simply and as readily as any crowd of civilized people, even in modern society, interferes to put a stop to a scuffle or to prevent a woman from being assaulted. And, secondly, we know that the fundamental social cause of excesses, which consist in the violation of the rules of social intercourse, is the exploitation of the people, their want and their poverty. With the removal of this chief cause, excesses will inevitably begin to “wither away”. We do not know how quickly and in what succession, but we do know they will wither away. With their withering away the state will also wither away.
Without building utopias, Marx defined more fully what can be defined now regarding this future, namely, the differences between the lower and higher phases (levels, stages) of communist society.
3. The First Phase of Communist Society
In the Critique of the Gotha Programme, Marx goes into detail to disprove Lassalle’s idea that under socialism the worker will receive the “undiminished” or “full product of his labor”. Marx shows that from the whole of the social labor of society there must be deducted a reserve fund, a fund for the expansion of production, a fund for the replacement of the “wear and tear” of machinery, and so on. Then, from the means of consumption must be deducted a fund for administrative expenses, for schools, hospitals, old people’s homes, and so on.
Instead of Lassalle’s hazy, obscure, general phrase (“the full product of his labor to the worker”), Marx makes a sober estimate of exactly how socialist society will have to manage its affairs. Marx proceeds to make a concrete analysis of the conditions of life of a society in which there will be no capitalism, and says:
“What we have to deal with here [in analyzing the programme of the workers’ party] is a communist society, not as it has developed on its own foundations, but, on the contrary, just as it emerges from capitalist society; which is thus in every respect, economically, morally, and intellectually, still stamped with the birthmarks of the old society from whose womb it comes.”
It is this communist society, which has just emerged into the light of day out of the womb of capitalism and which is in every respect stamped with the birthmarks of the old society, that Marx terms the “first”, or lower, phase of communist society.
The means of production are no longer the private property of individuals. The means of production belong to the whole of society. Every member of society, performing a certain part of the socially-necessary work, receives a certificate from society to the effect that he has done a certain amount of work. And with this certificate he receives from the public store of consumer goods a corresponding quantity of products. After a deduction is made of the amount of labor which goes to the public fund, every worker, therefore, receives from society as much as he has given to it.
“Equality” apparently reigns supreme.
But when Lassalle, having in view such a social order (usually called socialism, but termed by Marx the first phase of communism), says that this is “equitable distribution”, that this is “the equal right of all to an equal product of labor”, Lassalle is mistaken and Marx exposes the mistake.
“Hence, the equal right,” says Marx, in this case still certainly conforms to “bourgeois law”, which,like all law, implies inequality. All law is an application of an equal measure to different people who in fact are not alike, are not equal to one another. That is why the “equal right” is violation of equality and an injustice. In fact, everyone, having performed as much social labor as another, receives an equal share of the social product (after the above-mentioned deductions).
But people are not alike: one is strong, another is weak; one is married, another is not; one has more children, another has less, and so on. And the conclusion Marx draws is:
“… With an equal performance of labor, and hence an equal share in the social consumption fund, one will in fact receive more than another, one will be richer than another, and so on. To avoid all these defects, the right instead of being equal would have to be unequal.”
The first phase of communism, therefore, cannot yet provide justice and equality; differences, and unjust differences, in wealth will still persist, but the exploitation of man by man will have become impossible because it will be impossible to seize the means of production–the factories, machines, land, etc.–and make them private property. In smashing Lassalle’s petty-bourgeois, vague phrases about “equality” and “justice” in general, Marx shows the course of development of communist society, which is compelled to abolish at first only the “injustice” of the means of production seized by individuals, and which is unable at once to eliminate the other injustice, which consists in the distribution of consumer goods “according to the amount of labor performed” (and not according to needs).
The vulgar economists, including the bourgeois professors and “our” Tugan, constantly reproach the socialists with forgetting the inequality of people and with “dreaming” of eliminating this inequality. Such a reproach, as we see, only proves the extreme ignorance of the bourgeois ideologists.
Marx not only most scrupulously takes account of the inevitable inequality of men, but he also takes into account the fact that the mere conversion of the means of production into the common property of the whole society (commonly called “socialism”) does not remove the defects of distribution and the inequality of “bourgeois laws” which continues to prevail so long as products are divided “according to the amount of labor performed”. Continuing, Marx says:
“But these defects are inevitable in the first phase of communist society as it is when it has just emerged, after prolonged birth pangs, from capitalist society. Law can never be higher than the economic structure of society and its cultural development conditioned thereby.”
And so, in the first phase of communist society (usually called socialism) “bourgeois law” is not abolished in its entirety, but only in part, only in proportion to the economic revolution so far attained, i.e., only in respect of the means of production. “Bourgeois law” recognizes them as the private property of individuals. Socialism converts them into common property. To that extent–and to that extent alone–“bourgeois law” disappears.
However, it persists as far as its other part is concerned; it persists in the capacity of regulator (determining factor) in the distribution of products and the allotment of labor among the members of society. The socialist principle, “He who does not work shall not eat”, is already realized; the other socialist principle, “An equal amount of products for an equal amount of labor”, is also already realized. But this is not yet communism, and it does not yet abolish “bourgeois law”, which gives unequal individuals, in return for unequal (really unequal) amounts of labor, equal amounts of products.
This is a “defect”, says Marx, but it is unavoidable in the first phase of communism; for if we are not to indulge in utopianism, we must not think that having overthrown capitalism people will at once learn to work for society without any rules of law. Besides, the abolition of capitalism does not immediately create the economic prerequisites for such a change.
Now, there are no other rules than those of “bourgeois law”. To this extent, therefore, there still remains the need for a state, which, while safeguarding the common ownership of the means of production, would safeguard equality in labor and in the distribution of products.
The state withers away insofar as there are no longer any capitalists, any classes, and, consequently, no class can be suppressed.
But the state has not yet completely withered away, since the still remains the safeguarding of “bourgeois law”, which sanctifies actual inequality. For the state to wither away completely, complete communism is necessary.
4. The Higher Phase of Communist Society
Marx continues:
“In a higher phase of communist society, after the enslaving subordination of the individual to the division of labor, and with it also the antithesis between mental and physical labor, has vanished, after labor has become not only a livelihood but life’s prime want, after the productive forces have increased with the all-round development of the individual, and all the springs of co-operative wealth flow more abundantly–only then can the narrow horizon of bourgeois law be left behind in its entirety and society inscribe on its banners: From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs!”
Only now can we fully appreciate the correctness of Engels’ remarks mercilessly ridiculing the absurdity of combining the words “freedom” and “state”. So long as the state exists there is no freedom. When there is freedom, there will be no state.
The economic basis for the complete withering away of the state is such a high state of development of communism at which the antithesis between mental and physical labor disappears, at which there consequently disappears one of the principal sources of modern social inequality–a source, moreover, which cannot on any account be removed immediately by the mere conversion of the means of production into public property, by the mere expropriation of the capitalists.
This expropriation will make it possible for the productive forces to develop to a tremendous extent. And when we see how incredibly capitalism is already retarding this development, when we see how much progress could be achieved on the basis of the level of technique already attained, we are entitled to say with the fullest confidence that the expropriation of the capitalists will inevitably result in an enormous development of the productive forces of human society. But how rapidly this development will proceed, how soon it will reach the point of breaking away from the division of labor, of doing away with the antithesis between mental and physical labor, of transforming labor into “life’s prime want”–we do not and cannot know.
That is why we are entitled to speak only of the inevitable withering away of the state, emphasizing the protracted nature of this process and its dependence upon the rapidity of development of the higher phase of communism, and leaving the question of the time required for, or the concrete forms of, the withering away quite open, because there is no material for answering these questions.
The state will be able to wither away completely when society adopts the rule: “From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs”, i.e., when people have become so accustomed to observing the fundamental rules of social intercourse and when their labor has become so productive that they will voluntarily work according to their ability. “The narrow horizon of bourgeois law”, which compels one to calculate with the heartlessness of a Shylock whether one has not worked half an hour more than anybody else–this narrow horizon will then be left behind. There will then be no need for society, in distributing the products, to regulate the quantity to be received by each; each will take freely “according to his needs”.
From the bourgeois point of view, it is easy to declare that such a social order is “sheer utopia” and to sneer at the socialists for promising everyone the right to receive from society, without any control over the labor of the individual citizen, any quantity of truffles, cars, pianos, etc. Even to this day, most bourgeois “savants” confine themselves to sneering in this way, thereby betraying both their ignorance and their selfish defence of capitalism.
Ignorance–for it has never entered the head of any socialist to “promise” that the higher phase of the development of communism will arrive; as for the greatest socialists’ forecast that it will arrive, it presupposes not the present ordinary run of people, who, like the seminary students in Pomyalovsky’s stories, are capable of damaging the stocks of public wealth “just for fun”, and of demanding the impossible.
Until the “higher” phase of communism arrives, the socialists demand the strictest control by society and by the state over the measure of labor and the measure of consumption; but this control must start with the expropriation of the capitalists, with the establishment of workers’ control over the capitalists, and must be exercised not by a state of bureaucrats, but by a state of armed workers.
The selfish defence of capitalism by the bourgeois ideologists (and their hangers-on, like the Tseretelis, Chernovs, and Co.) consists in that they substitute arguing and talk about the distant future for the vital and burning question of present-day politics, namely, the expropriation of the capitalists, the conversion of all citizens into workers and other employees of one huge “syndicate”–the whole state–and the complete subordination of the entire work of this syndicate to a genuinely democratic state, the state of the Soviets of Workers’ and Soldiers’ Deputies.
In fact, when a learned professor, followed by the philistine, followed in turn by the Tseretelis and Chernovs, talks of wild utopias, of the demagogic promises of the Bolsheviks, of the impossibility of “introducing” socialism, it is the higher stage, or phase, of communism he has in mind, which no one has ever promised or even thought to “introduce”, because, generally speaking, it cannot be “introduced”.
And this brings us to the question of the scientific distinction between socialism and communism which Engels touched on in his above-quoted argument about the incorrectness of the name “Social-Democrat”. Politically, the distinction between the first, or lower, and the higher phase of communism will in time, probably, be tremendous. But it would be ridiculous to recognize this distinction now, under capitalism, and only individual anarchists, perhaps, could invest it with primary importance (if there still are people among the anarchists who have learned nothing from the “Plekhanov” conversion of the Kropotkins, of Grave, Corneliseen, and other “stars” of anarchism into social- chauvinists or “anarcho-trenchists”, as Ghe, one of the few anarchists who have still preserved a sense of humor and a conscience, has put it).
But the scientific distinction between socialism and communism is clear. What is usually called socialism was termed by Marx the “first”, or lower, phase of communist society. Insofar as the means of production becomes common property, the word “communism” is also applicable here, providing we do not forget that this is not complete communism. The great significance of Marx’s explanations is that here, too, he consistently applies materialist dialectics, the theory of development, and regards communism as something which develops out of capitalism. Instead of scholastically invented, “concocted” definitions and fruitless disputes over words (What is socialism? What is communism?), Marx gives an analysis of what might be called the stages of the economic maturity of communism.
In its first phase, or first stage, communism cannot as yet be fully mature economically and entirely free from traditions or vestiges of capitalism. Hence the interesting phenomenon that communism in its first phase retains “the narrow horizon of bourgeois law”. Of course, bourgeois law in regard to the distribution of consumer goods inevitably presupposes the existence of the bourgeois state, for law is nothing without an apparatus capable of enforcing the observance of the rules of law.
It follows that under communism there remains for a time not only bourgeois law, but even the bourgeois state, without the bourgeoisie!
This may sound like a paradox or simply a dialectical conundrum of which Marxism is often accused by people who have not taken the slightest trouble to study its extraordinarily profound content.
But in fact, remnants of the old, surviving in the new, confront us in life at every step, both in nature and in society. And Marx did not arbitrarily insert a scrap of “bourgeois” law into communism, but indicated what is economically and politically inevitable in a society emerging out of the womb of capitalism.
Democracy means equality. The great significance of the proletariat’s struggle for equality and of equality as a slogan will be clear if we correctly interpret it as meaning the abolition of classes. But democracy means only formal equality. And as soon as equality is achieved for all members of society in relation to ownership of the means of production, that is, equality of labor and wages, humanity will inevitably be confronted with the question of advancing father, from formal equality to actual equality, i.e., to the operation of the rule “from each according to his ability, to each according to his needs”. By what stages, by means of what practical measures humanity will proceed to this supreme aim we do not and cannot know. But it is important to realize how infinitely mendacious is the ordinary bourgeois conception of socialism as something lifeless, rigid, fixed once and for all, whereas in reality only socialism will be the beginning of a rapid, genuine, truly mass forward movement, embracing first the majority and then the whole of the population, in all spheres of public and private life.
Democracy is of enormous importance to the working class in its struggle against the capitalists for its emancipation. But democracy is by no means a boundary not to be overstepped; it is only one of the stages on the road from feudalism to capitalism, and from capitalism to communism.
Democracy is a form of the state, it represents, on the one hand, the organized, systematic use of force against persons; but, on the other hand, it signifies the formal recognition of equality of citizens, the equal right of all to determine the structure of, and to administer, the state. This, in turn, results in the fact that, at a certain stage in the development of democracy, it first welds together the class that wages a revolutionary struggle against capitalism–the proletariat, and enables it to crush, smash to atoms, wipe off the face of the earth the bourgeois, even the republican-bourgeois, state machine, the standing army, the police and the bureaucracy and to substitute for them a more democratic state machine, but a state machine nevertheless, in the shape of armed workers who proceed to form a militia involving the entire population.
Here “quantity turns into quality”: such a degree of democracy implies overstepping the boundaries of bourgeois society and beginning its socialist reorganization. If really all take part in the administration of the state, capitalism cannot retain its hold. The development of capitalism, in turn, creates the preconditions that enable really “all” to take part in the administration of the state. Some of these preconditions are: universal literacy, which has already been achieved in a number of the most advanced capitalist countries, then the “training and disciplining” of millions of workers by the huge, complex, socialized apparatus of the postal service, railways, big factories, large-scale commerce, banking, etc., etc.
Given these economic preconditions, it is quite possible, after the overthrow of the capitalists and the bureaucrats, to proceed immediately, overnight, to replace them in the control over production and distribution, in the work of keeping account of labor and products, by the armed workers, by the whole of the armed population. (The question of control and accounting should not be confused with the question of the scientifically trained staff of engineers, agronomists, and so on. These gentlemen are working today in obedience to the wishes of the capitalists and will work even better tomorrow in obedience to the wishes of the armed workers.)
Accounting and control–that is mainly what is needed for the “smooth working”, for the proper functioning, of the first phase of communist society. All citizens are transformed into hired employees of the state, which consists of the armed workers. All citizens becomes employees and workers of a single countrywide state “syndicate”. All that is required is that they should work equally, do their proper share of work, and get equal pay; the accounting and control necessary for this have been simplified by capitalism to the utmost and reduced to the extraordinarily simple operations–which any literate person can perform–of supervising and recording, knowledge of the four rules of arithmetic, and issuing appropriate receipts.[1]
When the majority of the people begin independently and everywhere to keep such accounts and exercise such control over the capitalists (now converted into employees) and over the intellectual gentry who preserve their capitalist habits, this control will really become universal, general, and popular; and there will be no getting away from it, there will be “nowhere to go”.
The whole of society will have become a single office and a single factory, with equality of labor and pay.
But this “factory” discipline, which the proletariat, after defeating the capitalists, after overthrowing the exploiters, will extend to the whole of society, is by no means our ideal, or our ultimate goal. It is only a necessary step for thoroughly cleansing society of all the infamies and abominations of capitalist exploitation, and for further progress.
From the moment all members of society, or at least the vast majority, have learned to administer the state themselves, have taken this work into their own hands, have organized control over the insignificant capitalist minority, over the gentry who wish to preserve their capitalist habits and over the workers who have been thoroughly corrupted by capitalism–from this moment the need for government of any kind begins to disappear altogether. The more complete the democracy, the nearer the moment when it becomes unnecessary. The more democratic the “state” which consists of the armed workers, and which is “no longer a state in the proper sense of the word”, the more rapidly every form of state begins to wither away.
For when all have learned to administer and actually to independently administer social production, independently keep accounts and exercise control over the parasites, the sons of the wealthy, the swindlers and other “guardians of capitalist traditions”, the escape from this popular accounting and control will inevitably become so incredibly difficult, such a rare exception, and will probably be accompanied by such swift and severe punishment (for the armed workers are practical men and not sentimental intellectuals, and they scarcely allow anyone to trifle with them), that the necessity of observing the simple, fundamental rules of the community will very soon become a habit.
Then the door will be thrown wide open for the transition from the first phase of communist society to its higher phase, and with it to the complete withering away of the state.
  1. Jump up
    When most of the functions of the state are reduced to such accounting and control by the workers themselves, it will cease to be a “political state” and the “public functions will lose their political character and be transformed into simple administrative functions” (cf. above. Chapter IV, § 2, Engels’ “Controversy with the Anarchists”).
Three years since the murder of Pavlos Fyssas by Golden Dawn Nazi thugs- Antifascist concert by KNE to take place in Piraeus on 17/9

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Three years since the murder of Pavlos Fyssas by Golden Dawn Nazi thugs- Antifascist concert by KNE to take place in Piraeus on 17/9
It was the night of September 17th, 2013, at the western Athens district of Keratsini, when antifascist rapper Pavlos Fyssas was fatally stabbed three times by the nazi ‘Golden Dawn’ member Giorgos Roupakias. On the ocassion of the three years since the murder of Fyssas (also known by the nickname “Killah P”), the Piraeus Sectoral Organization of KNE (Communist Youth of Greece) organises an antifascist event on Saturday 17th in Pasalimani. The General Secretary of the CC of KKE Dimitris Koutsoumbas will attend the event.
The major slogan of the concert is “We don’t forget! We fight fascism and the system that gives birth to it”. The concert of KNE will take place in Pasalimani, Piraeus on Saturday 17/9 at 9 pm. Among the performers is the band “Rebellion Connexion”. In a statement, among other things, the Piraeus Sectoral Organization of KNE points out: “The Goldendawnists (Golden Dawn members) are criminals because they are fascists. Their rotten ideology, the poison of racism, nationalism, xenophobia, is the womb which gives birth to their criminal activity (…) They are supporters of the exploitation system (…) The struggle of the people and of the youth will uproot the nazi- racist poison”
It must be noted that a few days before the murder of Pavlos Fyssas, on September 12, in Perama, a group of ‘Golden Dawn’ nazi thugs had attacked with murderous fury members and trade-unionists of PAME and KKE. 
On the ocassion of the third anniversary of Pavlos Fyssas’ assassination, we republish an extensive article titled “The murder of Pavlos Fyssas: a political anatomy” written by Thanasis Kampagiannis, one of the lawyers involved in the trial of the Golden Dawn. 
The murder of Pavlos Fyssas: a political anatomy.
By Thanasis Kampagiannis.
18 September 2015 marks the second anniversary of the murder of Pavlos Fyssas by a Golden Dawn battalion squad in Keratsini. The antifascist explosion that followed the assassination was a catalyst for political developments, and Antonis Samaras’s government was forced to give the judiciary the signal to prosecute Golden Dawn as a criminal organisation. The austerity government of New Democracy (ND) and Pasok sacrificed its valuable — though repulsive — “black crutch” of fascism, just a few months after its “pink crutch” (the centre-left Dimar party) withdrew from the coalition after the closure of national broadcaster ERT. It was a political precursor to the collapse of Samaras-Venizelos government just over a year later, and the rise of Syriza to power.
But what was the murder of Pavlos Fyssas? This question has been given many answers, from the Right and the Left. The mainstream media initially made a desperate attempt to present the murder as a random “argument over football”. However very quickly, and under the weight of testimonies and revelations, the involvement of the neo-Nazi Golden Dawn party could not be covered up.
The fascists themselves tried to present the murder as an “isolated incident” while pushing a conspiracy story that it was a “provocation”. Michalis Arvanitis, the Golden Dawn MP for Patras and a former advocate for I. Kalampokas (the right-wing ND thug who murdered teacher Nikos Temponeras during the school occupations of 1990-1991) called the Golden Dawn member Giorgos Roupakias — who stabbed Pavlos Fyssas — an “agent of the Communist Party” who was trying to incriminate Golden Dawn.
Theories of provocation found an unexpected ally in certain Left and anti-authoritarian circles. The murder of Fyssas was, for them, a state-led plan to smash the “two extremes” — first Golden Dawn (which “took votes from New Democracy”) and then the social movement and the radical Left. These theories tried to link the Greek political system and the state machine with the murder of Fyssas, but ended up absolving the leadership of Golden Dawn. The fascists grabbed those theories and used them to their advantage.
What was the murder of Fyssas, then? A random event? A plan by the leadership of Golden Dawn? Maybe something which went beyond a plan? Is there a link between the murder and the political system and state institutions, and — if so — what kind of link?
On the left side, Giorgos Roupakias, member of the Nazi ‘Golden Dawn’.
The crucial role of the battalion squads
The murder was part of the activity of the “battalion squads” of Golden Dawn, a phrase commonly used for the security bodies of the local organisations of the neo-Nazi organisation. Unlike the claims made in retrospect by its accused leaders, battalion squads were not “hot-blooded fans” of Golden Dawn or some isolated initiative of a local organisation. For a neo-Nazi group like Golden Dawn, building battalion squads on the model of the archetypal German Nazi party is central to its political project — something that differentiates it from other political parties, even extremely conservative ones.
In the case of the murder of Pavlos Fyssas, the perpetrators received an order by SMS from the head of Golden Dawn’s local organisation in Nikea, Giorgos Patelis, who used one of the organisation’s mobile phones. They received the message at 23:28 on 17 September 2013, a Tuesday evening [1]. The recipients of the message were not random — they were all members of the “Security” of the local organisation. The Security was a permanent paramilitary structure with a given composition, uniforms, hierarchy, weapons, training, wireless, reports and rules of secrecy. The Security of Nikea was the best organised battalion of Golden Dawn, which is why it was used as a “wildcard” (a name given to it by the party’s MP Ilias Panagiotaros) in missions throughout Greece (e.g. openings of offices, training excursions, attacks, etc.).
Nikea Security Battalion had formed up within 20 minutes (by 23:50) at the organisation’s offices on Kesarias Road. They were equipped with batons, knuckle-dusters and knives. Battalion members learned of the intended target of the attack after being informed by members of Security who were already in the Coralli café in Keratsini, and they headed in a procession of cars and motorbikes to their destination.
Within 15 minutes, by 00:05 Wednesday morning, Fyssas was lying stabbed three times by Roupakias, who was also a member of the five-member coordinating body of the local GD organisation in Nikea.
The battalion squad that night also included at least two paid Golden Dawn officials, the head of the local organisation (Patelis), and the head of the Security battalion (Yannis Kazatzoglou). The murder took place inside a circle of dozens of Golden Dawn members backing up Roupakias, some of them holding Fyssas down, and in the presence of at least eight armed police officers who never intervened. Dozens of terrified people watched the murder from the neighbouring streets or from their balconies [2]. In a tragic rendering of a verse written by Fyssas, his death occurred “in public view” [3]. The goal of the attack was to sow terror.
The picture of these events is now clear (and firmly established by the documents of the investigation) and we can ask some basic questions: how was the murder of Pavlos Fyssas made possible? And who is responsible for it, apart from those we know were directly involved?
The props of Golden Dawn in the state, capital and the political system
The relationship between fascists, the state machine and the overall system of economic and political power are historically well documented [4]. We will not detail here the history of these relations, for either Golden Dawn or previous fascist parties. It is well known that Golden Dawn is an organisation with close ties to the machinery of state and the secret service. It enjoyed the favour of powerful business interests (just one example: the conferences of Golden Dawn in Caravel Hotel were always an in-kind “sponsorship” by the Theodorakopoulos shipping family), and the political support of the traditional Right (two former deputy chiefs of the organisation, Haris Kousoumvris and Dimitris Zafiropoulos, have never denied the claim that organisational materials were printed with New Democracy’s expenses).
However, in considering 2012-2013, the period in which Golden Dawn built the battalion squads including that which killed Pavlos Fyssas, things are even more concrete.
Regarding the state: The battalion squads of Golden Dawn acted under the wing of state protection by ELAS, the Greek Police [5]. The experiment began in central Athens after 2008, in Agios Panteleimonas, where the local police decided that the policing needs of the area would mean the action of Golden Dawn patrols as a supplementary force to that of the local department [6]. But the generalisation of this experience came with the escalation of state racism against immigrants, and particularly with the launch of the “Xenios Zeus” project by Minister of the Interior Nikos Dendias in August 2012. The ELAS national headquarters’ specific aim was “to make life for immigrants hell” so that they would leave Greek territory, and the battalion squads of Golden Dawn were a friendly force allied to the police. This policy, expressed most clearly in the open cooperation of the heads of the police departments of Agios Panteleimonas and Nikea — Skaras and Giovanidis — with the respective local organizations of Golden Dawn, has a long history within the Greek state. Such cooperation goes back to the post Civil War period, with parastate bodies of “civilians” functioning to help the Gendarmerie in emergency situations.
One such body was the “Association” (known as the “Pin”) of former Nazi collaborator “Von Giosmas” in Thessaloniki. It was the organisation responsible for the assassination of Grigoris Lambrakis, an MP of the United Democratic Left, in 1963 [7]. It is not accidental that Roupakias addressed the policemen who led him to the Keratsini police station, shortly after the murder of Fyssas, with the phrase: “I am one of yours, I am in Golden Dawn”.
12 September 2013, Perama: After the murderous attack of ‘Golden Dawn’ Nazi thugs on
KKE and PAME members.
Regarding capital: In 2013 Golden Dawn was able to take cooperation with business circles to a new level. Beyond the hiring of battalion squads by merchants and shopkeepers for “cleansing” an area of immigrants, or controlling the labour market in terms of national preference (raids in markets, attacks against immigrants’ shops, etc.), Golden Dawn achieved the most important contract in its history — the creation on behalf of shipowners of a “yellow” pro-employers union at the Ship-building Zone in order to break collective agreements, reduce labour costs, and achieve “industrial peace”. The hurdle to this project was obvious: the existing unions in the Zone belonging to the PAME trade union front. Tellingly, a few days after the attack on members of PAME and the KKE (Greek Communist Party) in Perama on 12 September 2013, and one day after the murder of Fyssas in Keratsini, the majority of Golden Dawn “union” members were hired by a company owned by the president of the association of ship-builders of Piraeus [8].
Regarding the political system: These connections with state institutions and employers were condensed in the political relationship that Golden Dawn enjoyed with the highest levels of the Samaras government, within the prime minister’s Maximos Mansion, in the person of the General Secretary of Government (similar to a cabinet secretary) Takis Baltakos. An old far-right-winger himself, Baltakos offered Golden Dawn first class political protection and functioned as a bulwark against members of the leading circle of New Democracy who sought a more aggressive policy against Golden Dawn. [9] This relationship had to be “secret” if it was to be in the interests of both parties — Golden Dawn had to display itself as anti-systemic, and therefore in opposition to New Democracy, at the same time as its actions gave the government the legitimacy of the “centre” against “both extremes” (i.e. Golden Dawn and Syriza). However, the relationship could not be denied. Former Dimar ministers have made public the threats from Maximos that if they withdrew from the coalition government, they would allow a government in cooperation with Golden Dawn (or maybe a “serious” version of it) to become possible.
Without the relationships that Golden Dawn had with the state, powerful business circles and the dominant political system, battalion squads could not have acted, let alone killed Pavlos Fyssas. However, the murder of Fyssas was not merely the expression of the subaltern position of the neo-Nazis to their patrons. In September 2013 the leadership of Golden Dawn unrolled its own, independent, political strategy.
The political project of the ‘Greek September’
Unlike ideological analyses that treat fascism only as “the long arm of the state and capital”, the fascist party is not just a “deep state”. It has its own political project, beyond the will of the politically and economically powerful. This is exactly what emerged in September 2013. During a lengthy period of economic, social and political crisis, with the government of ND-Pasok weakened and facing a new wave of discontent and workers’ struggles, Golden Dawn decided to seek an enhanced political role — an objective that would be achieved through the escalation of the violent actions of the organisation. The project of a “Greek September” (as it was baptised by an old member of the Greek far Right), part of which was the terrorising the neighbourhoods of Piraeus, was centrally organised and guided, like all of Golden Dawn’s activities.
The plan included widening the circle of victims of fascist violence. Instead of just foreign immigrants like the Egyptian Abouzid Embarak and the Pakistani Shahzad Luqman, the attacks would now have as their victims local trade unionists and antifascists, like Sotiris Poulikogiannis and Pavlos Fyssas. In terms of symbolism, Golden Dawn chose even to challenge the hegemony of the traditional Right in the annual “hate celebrations” at Vitsi and Meligala, at which the Right commemorates the victims of “red terror” and revels in its victory in the Civil War. The sequence of events and their orchestration by leaders of the organisation leave no doubt about the central planning.
On 1 September uniformed Golden Dawn members under the guidance of Panagiotaros ejected a New Democracy MP from the podium of the “memorial” in Vitsi. On 12 September, battalion squads of Golden Dawn were ordered by Lagos to attack the members of PAME and the KKE in Perama with murderous fury, smashing the head of the leader of the trade unions in the Ship-building Zone, Sotiris Poulikogiannis. On 15 September Golden Dawn, in full military array and dress, ejected leaders of the Right from the “memorial” of Meligala, taking it over themselves, and under the guidance of Kasidiaris, Lagos and Germenis, beat up other far-right organisations’ members (the president of the youth of LAOS and the president of the Patriotic Association of Larissa). On 17 September, the Security of Nikea attacked Pavlos Fyssas and his friends with murderous fury: he was known throughout the area for the antifascist lyrics of his songs.
The perpetrators of the murder of Pavlos Fyssas had been trained to carry out attacks like that of 17-18 September. They were fully aware of the immunity they enjoyed from law enforcement authorities. The experience of the “Greek September” itself offered them proof that the violent actions of Golden Dawn, either against the trade unionists of PAME or cadres of the Right, remained unpunished. Moreover, Nikea’s Security was present when MPs of the organisation were beating their rivals in Meligala. However, the decisive factor in the murder of Fyssas was the order coming from the offices of the organization, given by Patelis and Kazatzoglou under the direction of Lagos.
In an organisation that operates on the basis of the “Führerprinzip” (the “Leader Principle”), violation of a command given by a superior body constitutes disobedience to the “Chief” of the organisation himself. [10] For this reason, the battalion squad members of Nikea absolutely understood, while heading to Coralli, that what they were carrying out was the order of the Führer of the organisation, Nikos Michaloliakos. And this command they executed, murdering Pavlos Fyssas.
A plan that stumbled because of personal and collective resistance
But Golden Dawn’s plan of at once escalating violence and enhancing its political role failed. Instead of getting a step closer to power, the leaders of Golden Dawn found themselves behind prison bars. Michaloliakos had in the past been faced with criminal acts by GD members that “exposed” him (the greatest such moment was in 1998, after the attempted murder of the left-wing student Dimitris Koussouris by a battalion squad of the organisation led by its deputy leader, Periandros Androutsopoulos). So he used a tried and tested method: he “condemned” the murder; he professed ignorance about Roupakias, whom he characterized as had been a “passer-by” of the organisation; and he denounced the prosecution of GD as a criminal organization as “political persecution of a legal political party”.
But this time his method failed.
We need to be clear that it was resistance from below that defeated the Neo-Nazis’ project. First and foremost, we can never ignore the resistance of Pavlos Fyssas himself to the fascist raid. Although unarmed, Fyssas resisted the battalion squad that attacked him in order to protect his friends, but also to keep the territory of the neighborhood in which he grew up free. He refused to run away. This is not a matter of clichéd antifascist heroism. His personal and political stance, as it is described by his friends and comes out in the lyrics of his songs, was more that of social solidarity to fellow human beings than of an encompassing Leftist or anarchist ideology. [11] It was this attitude that determined that the killing didn’t take place in some dark alley, but in public view on Panagi Tsaldari Street. And it was he who succeeded, just before he died, in forcing the arrest of Roupakias by the otherwise apathetic police officers, when the offender attempted to flee and get into his car.
The goal of the fascist raid at Keratsini was to sow terror in the working class neighborhoods of Piraeus and to establish the reign of Golden Dawn. But the murder boomeranged on its perpetrators. Instead of terror, what was unleashed was an astonishing antifascist uprising in Keratsini the following day, and also throughout Greece. This majority antifascist tide built on the experiences of the antifascist movement that had confronted Golden Dawn in the previous 15 months during which it was in Parliament. The battalion squads had failed to control the neighborhoods and streets even before the assassination of Fyssas because of hundreds of antifascist rallies and activities that developed rapidly during 2012-2013. It is also noteworthy that the antifascist uprising after the murder also built upon the industrial action and workers’ strikes that were taking place, with the teachers’ indefinite strike being the most important one.
The antifascist explosion after Fyssas’s death created an acute dilemma for the government, which was faced with the risk of a new December 2008, when there was a nationwide youth uprising following the police murder of 15-year-old Alexis Grigoropoulos. If the cover provided by the state and the political system for Golden Dawn was not lifted (at least temporarily), New Democracy would jeopardise the stability of its government. Hence, Dendias was forced to send a list of “32 cases” to the Prosecutor of the Supreme Court, who ordered a preliminary investigation into the existence of GD as a criminal organisation.
Samaras might have afterwards attempted to portray himself as a “persecutor” of Nazism, but the reality is that the government and the state gave the leadership of Golden Dawn 10 precious days, from September 18 to 28, to destroy all incriminating evidence and to organise its defence. During these days, Secretary General of the Government Baltakos unsuccessfully attempted to sabotage the prosecution. According to an article in Kathimerini — always well-informed in such matters — on the one-year anniversary of the arrests: “a lawyer — a close associate of Baltakos — was day and night in the Courts trying to elicit information on the progress of the investigation”. [12] The contradictory messages sent to the judiciary by government ministers and from Maximos were not unrelated to the decision to releasethree Golden Dawn MPs, Kasidiaris, Panayiotaros and Michos.
However the persistence of the antifascist explosion, expressed in the huge demonstration of 25 September 2013 to the offices of the “Central Command” of Golden Dawn (especially as the Syriza leadership failed to reduce it into a “harmless” concert in Syntagma Square) determined that criminal proceedings would go ahead. On 28 September the leadership of Golden Dawn was arrested, while the next day the members of the Security of Nikea who participated in the murder of Fyssas were arrested as well. At the same time, the perpetrators of the attack against PAME were arrested (they had remained free up to that point!). Other cases on file were correlated, such as the attack on Egyptian fishermen in June 2012, which was now redefined as an attempted murder.
Justice for the victims of Golden Dawn
20 April 2015 marked the beginning of the trial of Golden Dawn before the Three-Member Court of Felonies in Athens. In addition to the murder of Pavlos Fyssas, the attempted murder of the Egyptian fishermen and trade unionists of PAME are being co-tried, along with charges of belonging to a criminal organisation, the direction of which is attributed to the 18 MPs of the previous parliamentary group of Golden Dawn (essentially its entire core leadership).
Whether the 69 defendants sitting in the dock of the court will be convicted will not depend solely on what is happening inside the courtroom. Admittedly, the investigative material is overwhelming and, to the extent that it will be the sole factor of the formation of the judicial verdict, the conviction of the defendants will be heavy. However, as we know from similar trials in the past, state procedures can favour parastate and fascist criminals, usually condemning some perpetrators, giving instigators “soft” sentences and always concealing the ties between the criminals and state functionaries who covered up their action.
Having this historical experience the antifascist movement must develop its activity both in the trial and beyond. The trial of the fascists passes through the constant presence of the antifascist movement in the court, the support of victims and their lawyers (the “civil action” as it is legally called), ensuring the publicity of the trial through the transfer of the venue from the women’s prison of Korydallos to the Court of Appeal’s complex, widening the front of social and political forces demanding the conviction of the neo-Nazis. The nationwide campaign conducted by the KEERFAantifascist and antiracist coalition has already paved the way in this direction.
Precisely because the fascists sense the overwhelming weight of the evidence of their criminal activity, they have transferred all hope for their acquittal outside the courtroom. The intended re-legitimisation of Golden Dawn involves specific tactics: utilisation of their parliamentary presence and its acceptance by the parties of the “constitutional arc”, “anti-memorandum” rhetoric after the signing of a new agreement by the Syriza-ANEL government, echoing institutional racism on the occasion of the new refugee flow, and pursuing the widening of its voting base.
The antifascist movement must wage a lasting and targeted campaign at all levels, in order to prevent the re-legitimisation of the neo-Nazis: initiatives to reveal the criminal character of the Nazi gang behind the institutional facade of the “legal political party”; unmasking its false anti-systemic rhetoric; antiracist initiatives that will restore the unity of the working class; and exclusion of Golden Dawn from every public space (particularly on the occasion of the elections) through mass antifascist rallies. Only through such a campaign can we exclude any possibility of Golden Dawn playing a role in the subsequent phases of the economic and political crisis and relaunching its battalion squads, which have retreated since September 2013.
The victims of Golden Dawn, the family of Pavlos Fyssas (called finally this week to testify in court), the Egyptian fishermen, the trade unionists of PAME and hundreds of others who were attacked by battalion squads are entitled to get justice for the attacks they suffered and for the people they lost. Justice, however, will not be easy for them. This is because the perpetrators of these attacks were not just isolated individuals, but a Nazi criminal organisation with strong support in the machinery of state and in the system of economic and political power. It will be a rough road to achieve justice.
Let us try to walk it with the determination and the courage of Pavlos Fyssas on the night of 17-18 September 2013, as he stood up against a pack of neo-Nazi murderers.
[1] The SMS read: “Everyone in Local offices now. Those of you who are nearby. We will not expect far away. Now”. Referred to in: Memo of the civil action of the anti-fascist movement in the trial of Golden Dawn, Marxist Bookshop, Athens 2015, p. 87.
[2] For more details on the murder of Fyssas see: Memo, ibid, pp. 84-94.
[3] “Such a day is good for dying/ nice and standing up in public view”, in: Killah P, Zoria,
[4] A good starting point is: Robert Paxton, The Anatomy of Fascism, Kedros, Athens 2006.
[5] For ELAS-Golden Dawn relations and efforts to conceal them, see: Initiative for the Civil Action of the Antifascist Movement, The Nazi criminal organisation Golden Dawn, JailGoldenDawn, Athens 2015, pp. 215-226.
[6] See: Tasos Kostopoulos, “Neo-Nazism as a counterinsurgency project: the ‘deep state’ and the rise of Golden Dawn”Archeiotaxio, issue 16, November 2014.
[7] For the murder of Lambrakis see: Stratos Dordanas, German uniforms in mothballs, Survivals of Collaborationism in Macedonia, 1945-1974, Estia, Athens 2011, pp. 285-351.
[8] For further details regarding the attack on PAME see: Memo, ibid, pp. 80-84.
[9] See: Dimitris Psaras, “Hotline between Maximus and Golden Dawn”, EfSyn, 18/09/2014,
[10] For the “Leader Principle” and the original Statute of the Golden Dawn, see: The Nazi criminal organisation Golden Dawn, ibid, pp. 5-25.
[11] As he said himself: “fuck revolutions at last / we just talk about personal resistances”, in: Killah P, For my own good,
[12] Marianna Kakaounaki, “The Night of the Long Golden Dawn arrests”, Kathimerini, 21/09/2014,
Vladimir Ilyich Lenin- The State and Revolution (1917) Part IV “Supplementary Explanations by Engels”

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Vladimir Ilyich Lenin- The State and Revolution (1917) Part IV “Supplementary Explanations by Engels”
The State and Revolution.
By Vladimir Ilyich Lenin.
First Published: 1918.
Source: V.I.Lenin, Collected Works, Volume 25, p.381-492.
Marx gave the fundamentals concerning the significance of the experience of the Commune. Engels returned to the same subject time and again, and explained Marx’s analysis and conclusions, sometimes elucidating other aspects of the question with such power and vividness that it is necessary to deal with his explanations specially.
1. The Housing Question
In his work, The Housing Question (1872), Engels already took into account the experience of the Commune, and dealt several times with the tasks of the revolution in relation to the state. It is interesting to note that the treatment of this specific subject clearly revealed, on the one hand, points of similarity between the proletarian state and the present state–points that warrant speaking of the state in both cases–and, on the other hand, points of difference between them, or the transition to the destruction of the state.

“How is the housing question to be settled then? In present-day society, it is settled just as any other social question: by the gradual economic levelling of demand and supply, a settlement which reproduces the question itself again and again and therefore is no settlement. How a social revolution would settle this question not only depends on the circumstances in each particular case, but is also connected with much more far-reaching questions, one of the most fundamental of which is the abolition of the antithesis between town and country. As it is not our task to create utopian systems for the organization of the future society, it would be more than idle to go into the question here. But one thing is certain: there is already a sufficient quantity of houses in the big cities to remedy immediately all real ‘housing shortage’, provided they are used judiciously. This can naturally only occur through the expropriation of the present owners and by quartering in their houses homeless workers or workers overcrowded in their present homes. As soon as the proletariat has won political power, such a measure prompted by concern for the common good will be just as easy to carry out as are other expropriations and billetings by the present-day state.” (German edition, 1887, p. 22)
The change in the form of state power is not examined here, but only the content of its activity. Expropriations and billetings take place by order even of the present state. From the formal point of view, the proletarian state will also “order” the occupation of dwellings and expropriation of houses. But it is clear that the old executive apparatus, the bureaucracy, which is connected with the bourgeoisie, would simply be unfit to carry out the orders of the proletarian state.
“… It must be pointed out that the ‘actual seizure’ of all the instruments of labor, the taking possession of industry as a whole by the working people, is the exact opposite of the Proudhonist ‘redemption’. In the latter case the individual worker becomes the owner of the dwelling, the peasant farm, the instruments of labor; in the former case, the ‘working people’ remain the collective owners of the houses, factories and instruments of labor, and will hardly permit their use, at least during a transitional period, by individuals or associations without compensation for the cost. In the same way, the abolition of property in land is not the abolition of ground rent but its transfer, if in a modified form, to society. The actual seizure of all the instruments of labor by the working people, therefore, does not at all preclude the retention of rent relations.” (p.68)
We shall examine the question touched upon in this passage, namely, the economic basis for the withering away of the state, in the next chapter. Engels expresses himself most cautiously. saying that the proletarian state would “hardly” permit the use of houses without payment, “at least during a transitional period”. The letting of houses owed by the whole people to individual families presupposes the collection of rent, a certain amount of control, nd the employment of some standard in allotting the housing. All this calls for a certain form of state, but it does not at all call for a special military bureaucratic apparatus, with officials occupying especially privileged positions. The transition to a situation in which it will be possible to supply dwellings rent-free depends on the complete “withering away” of the state.
Speaking of the Blanquists’ adoption of the fundamental position of Marxism after the Commune and under the influence of its experience, Engels, in passing, formulates this position as follows:
“… Necessity of political action by the proletariat and of its dictatorship as the transition to the abolition of classes and, with them, of the state….” (p.55)
Addicts of hair-splitting criticism, or bourgeois “exterminators of Marxism”, will perhaps see a contradiction between this recognition of the “abolition of the state” and repudiation of this formula as an anarchist one in the above passage from Anti-Dühring. It would not be surprising if the opportunists classed Engels, too, as an “anarchist”, for it is becoming increasingly common with the social-chauvinists to accuse the internationalists of anarchism.
Marxism has always taught that with the abolition of classes the state will also be abolished. The well-known passage on the “withering away of the state in Anti-Dühring accuses the anarchists not simply of favoring the abolition of the state, but of preaching that the state can be abolished “overnight”.
As the now prevailing “Social-Democratic” doctrine completely distorts the relation of Marxism to anarchism on the question of the abolition of the state, it will be particularly useful to recall a certain controversy in which Marx and Engels came out against the anarchists.
Controversy with the Anarchists
This controversy took place in 1873. Marx and Engels contributed articles against the Proudhonists, “autonomists” or “anti-authoritarians”, to an Italian socialist annual, and it was not until 1913 that these articles appeared in German in Neue Zeit.
“If the political struggle of the working class assumes revolutionary form,” wrote Marx, ridiculing the anarchists for their repudiation of politics, “and if the workers set up their revolutionary dictatorship in place of the dictatorship of the bourgeoisie, they commit the terrible crime of violating principles, for in order to satisfy their wretched, vulgar everyday needs and to crush the resistance of the bourgeoisie, they give the state a revolutionary and transient form, instead of laying down their arms and abolishing the state.” (Neue Zeit Vol.XXXII, 1, 1913-14, p.40)
It was solely against this kind of “abolition” of the state that Marx fought in refuting the anarchists! He did not at all oppose the view that the state would disappear when classes disappeared, or that it would be abolished when classes were abolished. What he did oppose was the proposition that the workers should renounce the use of arms, organized violence, that is, the state, which is to serve to “crush the resistance of the bourgeoisie”.
To prevent the true meaning of his struggle against anarchism from being distorted, Marx expressly emphasized the “revolutionary and transient form” of the state which the proletariat needs. The proletariat needs the state only temporarily. We do not after all differ with the anarchists on the question of the abolition of the state as the aim. We maintain that, to achieve this aim, we must temporarily make use of the instruments, resources, and methods of state power against the exploiters, just as the temporary dictatorship of the oppressed class is necessary for the abolition of classes. Marx chooses the sharpest and clearest way of stating his case against the anarchists: After overthrowing the yoke of the capitalists, should the workers “lay down their arms”, or use them against the capitalists in order to crush their resistance? But what is the systematic use of arms by ne class against another if not a “transient form” of state?
Let every Social-Democrat ask himself: Is that how he has been posing the question of the state in controversy with the anarchists? Is that how it has been posed by the vast majority of the official socialist parties of the Second International?
Engels expounds the same ideas in much greater detail and still more popularly. First of all he ridicules the muddled ideas of the Proudhonists, who call themselves “anti-authoritarians”, i.e., repudiated all authority, all subordination, all power. Take a factory, a railway, a ship on the high seas, said Engels: is it not clear that not one of these complex technical establishments, based on the use of machinery and the systematic co-operation of many people, could function without a certain amount of subordination and, consequently, without a certain amount of authority or power?
“… When I counter the most rabid anti-authoritarians with these arguments, they only answer they can give me is the following: Oh, that’s true, except that here it is not a question of authority with which we vest our delegates, but of a commission! These people imagine they can change a thing by changing its name….”
Having thus shown that authority and autonomy are relative terms, that the sphere of their application varies with the various phases of social development, that it is absurd to take them as absolutes, and adding that the sphere of application of machinery and large-scale production is steadily expanding, Engels passes from the general discussion of authority to the question of the state.
“Had the autonomists,” he wrote, “contented themselves with saying that the social organization of the future would allow authority only within the bounds which the conditions of production make inevitable, one could have come to terms with them. But they are blind to all facts that make authority necessary and they passionately fight the word.
“Why do the anti-authoritarians not confine themselves to crying out against political authority, the state? All socialists are agreed that the state, and with it political authority, will disappear as a result of the coming social revolution, that is, that public functions will lose their political character and become mere administrative functions of watching over social interests. But the anti-authoritarians demand that the political state be abolished at one stroke, even before the social relations that gave both to it have been destroyed. They demand that the first act of the social revolution shall be the abolition of authority.
“Have these gentlemen ever seen a revolution? A revolution is certainly the most authoritarian thing there is; it is an act whereby one part of the population imposes its will upon the other part by means of rifles, bayonets and cannon, all of which are highly authoritarian means. And the victorious party must maintain its rule by means of the terror which its arms inspire in the reactionaries. Would the Paris Commune have lasted more than a day if it had not used the authority of the armed people against the bourgeoisie? Cannot we, on the contrary, blame it for having made too little use of that authority? Therefore, one of two things: either that anti-authoritarians down’t know what they are talking about, in which case they are creating nothing but confusion. Or they do know, and in that case they are betraying the cause of the proletariat. In either case they serve only reaction.” (p.39)
This argument touches upon questions which should be examined in connection with the relationship between politics and economics during the withering away of the state (the next chapter is devoted to this). These questions are: the transformation of public functions from political into simple functions of administration, and the “political state”. This last term, one particularly liable to misunderstanding, indicates the process of the withering away of the state: at a certain stage of this process, the state which is withering away may be called a non-political state.
Against, the most remarkable thing in this argument of Engels’ is the way he states his case against the anarchists. Social-Democrats, claiming to be disciples of Engels, have argued on this subject against the anarchists millions of times since 1873, but they have not argued as Marxists could and should. The anarchist idea of abolition of the state is muddled and non-revolutionary–that is how Engels put it. It is precisely the revolution in its rise and development, with its specific tasks in relation to violence, authority, power, the state, that the anarchists refuse to see.
The usual criticism of anarchism by present-day Social-Democrats has boiled down to the purest philistine banality: “We recognize the state, whereas the anarchists do not!” Naturally, such banality cannot but repel workers who are at all capable of thinking and revolutionary-minded. What Engels says is different. He stresses that all socialists recognize that the state will disappear as a result of the socialist revolution. He then deals specifically with the question of the revolution – the very question which, as a rule, the Social-Democrats evade out of opportunism, leaving it, so to speak, exclusively for the anarchists “to work out”. And when dealing with this question, Engels takes the bull by the horns; he asks: should not the Commune have made more use of the revolutionary power of the state, that is, of the proletariat armed and organized as the ruling class?
Prevailing official Social-Democracy usually dismissed the question of the concrete tasks of the proletariat in the revolution either with a philistine sneer, or, at best, with the sophistic evasion: “The future will show”. And the anarchists were justified in saying about such Social-Democrats that they were failing in their task of giving the workers a revolutionary education. Engels draws upon the experience of the last proletarian revolution precisely for the purpose of making a most concrete study of what should be done by the proletariat, and in what manner, in relation to both the banks and the state.
Letter to Bebel
One of the most, if not the most, remarkable observation on the state in the works of Marx and Engels is contained in the following passage in Engels’ letter to Bebel dated March 18-28, 1875. This letter, we may observe in parenthesis, was, as far as we know, first published by Bebel in the second volume of his memoirs (Aus meinem Leben), which appeared in 1911, i.e., 36 years after the letter had been written and sent.
Engels wrote to Bebel criticizing the same draft of the Gotha Programme which Marx criticized in his famous letter to Bracke. Referring specially to the question of the state, Engels said:
“The free people’s state has been transferred into the free state. Taken in its grammatical sense, a free state is one where the state is free in relation to its citizens, hence a state with a despotic government. The whole talk about the state should be dropped, especially since the Commune, which was no longer a state in the proper sense of the word. The ‘people’s state’ has been thrown in our faces by the anarchists to the point of disgust, although already Marx’s book against Proudhon and later the Communist Manifesto say plainly that with the introduction of the socialist order of society the state dissolves of itself [sich auflost] and disappears. As the state is only a transitional institution which is used in the struggle, in the revolution, to hold down one’s adversaries by force, it is sheer nonsense to talk of a ‘free people’s state’; so long as the proletariat still needs the state, it does not need it in the interests of freedom but in order to hold down its adversaries, and as soon as it becomes possible to speak of freedom the state as such ceases to exist. We would therefore propose replacing the state everywhere by Gemeinwesen, a good old German word which can very well take the place of the French word commune.” (pp.321-22 of the German original.)
It should be borne in mind that this letter refers to the party programme which Marx criticized in a letter dated only a few weeks later than the above (Marx’s letter is dated May 5, 1875), and that at the time Engels was living with Marx in London. Consequently, when he says “we” in the last sentence, Engels undoubtedly, in his own as well as in Marx’s name, suggests to the leader of the German workers’ party that the word “state” be struck out of the programme and replaced by the word “community”.
What a howl about “anarchism” would be raised by the leading lights of present-day “Marxism”, which has been falsified for the convenience of the opportunists, if such an amendment of the programme were suggested to them!
Let them howl. This will earn them the praises of the bourgeoisie.
And we shall go on with our work. In revising the programme of our Party, we must by all means take the advice of Engels and Marx into consideration in order to come nearer the truth, to restore Marxism by ridding it of distortions, to guide the struggle of the working class for its emancipation more correctly. Certainly no one opposed to the advice of Engels and Marx will be found among the Bolsheviks. The only difficulty that may perhaps arise will be in regard to the term. In German there are two words meaning “community”, of which Engels used the one which does not denote a single community, but their totality, a system of communities. In Russian there is no such word, and we may have to choose the French word “commune”, although this also has its drawbacks.
“The Commune was no longer a state in the proper sense of the word”–this is the most theoretically important statement Engels makes. After what has been said above, this statement is perfectly clear. The Commune was ceasing to be a state since it had to suppress, not the majority of the population, but a minority (the exploiters). It had smashed the bourgeois state machine. In place of a special coercive force the population itself came on the scene. All this was a departure from the state in the proper sense of the word. And had the Commune become firmly established, all traces of the state in it would have “withered away” of themselves; it would not have had to “abolish” the institutions of the state–they would have ceased to function as they ceased to have anything to do.
“The ‘people’s state’ has been thrown in our faces by the anarchists”. In saying this, Engels above all has in mind Bakunin and his attacks on the German Social-Democrats. Engels admits that these attacks were justified insofar as the “people’s state” was as much an absurdity and as much a departure from socialism as the “free people’s state”. Engels tried to put the struggle of the German Social-Democrats against the anarchists on the right lines, to make this struggle correct in principle, to ride it of opportunist prejudices concerning the “state”. Unfortunately, Engels’ letter was pigeon-holed for 36 years. We shall see farther on that, even after this letter was published, Kautsky persisted in virtually the same mistakes against which Engels had warned.
Bebel replied to Engels in a letter dated September 21, 1875, in which he wrote, among other things, that he “fully agreed” with Engels’ opinion of the draft programme, and that he had reproached Liebknecht with readiness to make concessions (p.334 of the German edition of Bebel’s memoirs, Vol.II). But if we take Bebel’s pamphlet, Our Aims, we find there views on the state that are absolutely wrong.
“The state must… be transformed from one based on class rule into a people’s state.” (Unsere Ziele, 1886, p.14)
This was printed in the ninth (ninth!) edition of Bebel’s pamphlet! It is not surprising that opportunist views on the state, so persistently repeated, were absorbed by the German Social-Democrats, especially as Engels’ revolutionary interpretations had been safely pigeon-holed, and all the conditions of life were such as to “wean” them from revolution for a long time.
2. Criticism of the Draft of the Erfurt Programme
In analyzing Marxist teachings on the state, the criticism of the draft of the Erfurt Programme, sent by Engels to Kautsky on June 29, 1891, and published only 10 years later in Neue Zeit, cannot be ignored; for it is with the opportunist views of the Social-Democrats on questions of state organization that this criticism is mainly concerned.
We shall note in passing that Engels also makes an exceedingly valuable observation on economic questions, which shows how attentively and thoughtfully he watched the various changes occurring in modern capitalism, and how for this reason he was able to foresee to a certain extent the tasks of our present, the imperialist, epoch. Here is that observation: referring to the word “planlessness” (Planlosigkeit), used in the draft programme, as characteristic of capitalism, Engels wrote:
“When we pass from joint-stock companies to trusts which assume control over, and monopolize, whole industries, it is not only private production that ceases, but also planlessness.” (Neue Zeit, Vol. XX, 1, 1901-02, p.8)
Here was have what is most essential in the theoretical appraisal of the latest phase of capitalism, i.e., imperialism, namely, that capitalism becomes monopoly capitalism. The latter must be emphasized because the erroneous bourgeois reformist assertion that monopoly capitalism or state-monopoly capitalism is no longer capitalism, but can now be called “state socialism” and so on, is very common. The trusts, of course, never provided, do not now provide, and cannot provide complete planning. But however much they do plan, however much the capitalist magnates calculate in advance the volume of production on a national and even on an international scale, and however much they systematically regulate it, we still remain under capitalism–at its new stage, it is true, but still capitalism, without a doubt. The “proximity” of such capitalism to socialism should serve genuine representatives of the proletariat as an argument proving the proximity, facility, feasibility, and urgency of the socialist revolution, and not at all as an argument for tolerating the repudiation of such a revolution and the efforts to make capitalism look more attractive, something which all reformists are trying to do.
But to return to the question of the state. In his letter Engels makes three particularly valuable suggestions: first, in regard to the republic; second, in regard to the connection between the national question and state organization; and, third, in regard to local self-government.
In regard to the republic, Engels made this the focal point of this criticism of the draft of the Erfurt Programme. And when we recall the importance which the Erfurt Programme acquired for all the Social- Democrats of the world, and that it became the model for the whole Second International, we may say without exaggeration that Engels thereby criticizes the opportunism of the whole Second International.
“The political demands of the draft,” engels wrote, “have one great fault. It lacks [Engels’ italics] precisely what should have been said.”
And, later on, he makes it clear that the German Constitution is, strictly speaking, a copy of the extremely reactionary Constitution of 1850, that the Reichstag is only, as Wilhelm Liebknecht put it, “the fig leaf of absolutism” and that to wish “to transform all the instruments of labor into common property” on the basis of a constitution which legalizes the existence of petty states and the federation of petty German states is an “obvious absurdity”.
“To touch on that is dangerous, however,” Engels added, knowing only too well that it was impossible legally to include in the programme the demand for a republic in Germany. But he refused to merely accept this obvious consideration which satisfied “everybody”. He continued: “Nevertheless, somehow or other, the thing has to be attacked. How necessary this is is shown precisely at the present time by opportunism, which is gaining ground [einreissende] in a large section of the Social-Democrat press. Fearing a renewal of the Anti-Socialist Law, or recalling all manner of overhasty pronouncements made during the reign of that law, they now want the Party to find the present legal order in Germany adequate for putting through all Party demands by peaceful means….”
Engels particularly stressed the fundamental fact that the German Social-Democrats were prompted by fear of a renewal of the Anti- Socialist Law, and explicitly described it as opportunism; he declared that precisely because there was no republic and no freedom in Germany, the dreams of a “peaceful” path were perfectly absurd. Engels was careful not to tie his hands. He admitted that in republican or very free countries “one can conceive” (only “conceive”!) of a peaceful development towards socialism, but in Germany, he repeated,
“… in Germany, where the government is almost omnipotent and the Reichstag and all other representative bodies have no real power, to advocate such a thing in Germany, where, moreover, there is no need to do so, means removing the fig leaf from absolutism and becoming oneself a screen for its nakedness.”
The great majority of the official leaders of the German Social- Democratic Party, which pigeon-holed this advice, have really proved to be a screen for absolutism.
“… In the long run such a policy can only lead one’s own party astray. They push general, abstract political questions into the foreground, thereby concealing the immediate concrete questions, which at the moment of the first great events, the first political crisis, automatically pose themselves. What can result from this except that at the decisive moment the party suddenly proves helpless and that uncertainty and discord on the most decisive issues reign in it because these issues have never been discussed? …
“This forgetting of the great, the principal considerations for the momentary interests of the day, this struggling and striving for the success of the moment regardless of later consequences, this sacrifice of the future of the movement for its present may be ‘honestly’ meant, but it is and remains opportunism, and ‘honest’ opportunism is perhaps the most dangerous of all….
“If one thing is certain it is that our party and the working class can only come to power in the form of the democratic republic. This is even the specific form for the dictatorship of the proletariat, as the Great French Revolution has already shown….”
Engels realized here in a particularly striking form the fundamental idea which runs through all of Marx’s works, namely, that the democratic republic is the nearest approach to the dictatorship of the proletariat. For such a republic, without in the least abolishing the rule of capital, and, therefore, the oppression of the masses nd the class struggle, inevitably leads to such an extension, development, unfolding, and intensification of this struggle that, as soon as it becomes possible to meet the fundamental interests of the oppressed masses, this possibility is realized inevitably and solely through the dictatorship of the proletariat, through the leadership of those masses by the proletariat. These, too, are “forgotten words” of marxism for the whole of the Second International, and the fact that they have been forgotten was demonstrated with particular vividness by the history of the Menshevik Party during the first six months of the Russian revolution of 1917.
On the subject of a federal republic, in connection with the national composition of the population, Engels wrote:
“What should take the place of the present-day Germany [with its reactionary monarchical Constitution and its equally reactionary division into petty states, a division which perpetuates all the specific features of “Prussianism” instead of dissolving them in Germany as a whole]? In my view, the proletariat can only use the form of the one and indivisible republic. In the gigantic territory of the United States, a federal republic is still, on the whole, a necessity, although in the Eastern states it is already becoming a hindrance. It would be a step forward in Britain where the two islands are peopled by four nations and in spite of a single Parliament three different systems of legislation already exist side by side. In little Switzerland, it has long been a hindrance, tolerable only because Switzerland is content to be a purely passive member of the European state system. For Germany, federalization on the Swiss model would be an enormous step backward. Two points distinguish a union state from a completely unified state: first, that each member state, each canton, has its own civil and criminal legislative and judicial system, and, second, that alongside a popular chamber there is also a federal chamber in which each canton, whether large or small, votes as such.” In Germany, the union state is the transition to the completely unified state, and the “revolution from above” of 1866 and 1870 must not be reversed but supplemented by a “movement from below”.
Far from being indifferent to the forms of state, Engels, on the contrary, tried to analyze the transitional forms with the utmost thoroughness in order to establish, in accordance with the concrete historical peculiarities of each particular case, from what and to what the given transitional form is passing.
Approaching the matter from the standpoint of the proletariat and the proletarian revolution, Engels, like Marx, upheld democratic centralism, the republic–one and indivisible. He regarded the federal republic either as an exception and a hindrance to development, or as a transition from a monarchy to a centralized republic, as a “step forward” under certain special conditions. And among these special conditions, he puts the national question to the fore.
Although mercilessly criticizing the reactionary nature of small states, and the screening of this by the national question in certain concrete cases, Engels, like Marx, never betrayed the slightest desire to brush aside the national question–a desire of which the Dutch and Polish Marxists, who proceed from their perfectly justified opposition to the narrow philistine nationalism of “their” little states, are often guilty.
Even in regard to britain, where geographical conditions, a common language and the history of many centuries would seem to have “put an end” to the national question in the various small divisions of the country–even in regard to to that country, Engels reckoned with the plain fact that the national question was not yet a thing of the past, and recognized in consequence that the establishment of a federal republic would be a “step forward”. Of course, there is not the slightest hint here of Engels abandoning the criticism of the shortcomings of a federal republic or renouncing the most determined advocacy of, and struggle for, a unified and centralized democratic republic.
But Engels did not at all men democratic centralism in the bureaucratic sense in which the term is used by bourgeois and petty-bourgeois ideologists, the anarchists among the latter. His idea of centralism did not in the least preclude such broad local self-government as would combine the voluntary defence of the unity of the state by the “communes” and districts, and the complete elimination of all bureaucratic practices and all “ordering” from above. Carrying forward the programme views of Marxism on the state, Engels wrote:
“So, then, a unified republic–but not in the sense of the present French Republic, which is nothing but the Empire established in 1798 without the Emperor. From 1792 to 1798 each French department, each commune [Gemeinde], enjoyed complete self-government on the American model, and this is what we too must have. How self-government is to be organized and how we can manage, without a bureaucracy has been shown to us by America and the first French Republic, and is being shown even today by Australia, Canada and the other English colonies. And a provincial [regional] and communal self-government of this type is far freer than, for instance, Swiss federalism, under which, it is true, the canton is very independent in relation to the Bund [i.e., the federated state as a whole], but is also independent in relation to the district [Bezirk] and the commune. The cantonal governments appoint the district governors [Bezirksstatthalter] and prefects–which is unknown in English-speaking countries and which we want to abolish here as resolutely in the future as the Prussian Landrate and Regierungsrate” (commissioners, district police chiefs, governors, and in general all officials appointed from above). Accordingly, Engels proposes the following words for the self-government clause in the programme: “Complete self-government for the provinces [gubernias or regions], districts and communes through officials elected by universal suffrage. The abolition of all local and provincial authorities appointed by the state.”
I have already had occassion to point out–in Pravda (No.68, May 28, 1917), which was suppressed by the government of Kerensky and other “socialist” Ministers–how on this point (of course, not on this point alone by any mens) our pseudo-socialist representatives of pseudo- revolutionary pseudo-democracy have made glaring departures from democracy. Naturally, people who have bound themselves by a “coalition” to the imperialist bourgeoisie have remained deaf to this criticism.
It is extremely important to note that Engels, armed with facts, disproved by a most precise example the prejudice which is very widespread, particularly among petty-bourgeois democrats, that a federal republic necessarily means a greater amount of freedom than a centralized republic. This is wrong. It is disproved by the facts cited by Engels regarding the centralized French Republic of 792-98 and the federal Swiss Republic. The really democratic centralized republic gave more freedom that the federal republic. In other words, the greatest amount of local, regional, and other freedom known in history was accorded by a centralized and not a federal republic.
Insufficient attention has been and is being paid in our Party propaganda and agitation to this fact, as, indeed, to the whole question of the federal and the centralized republic and local self-government.
The 1891 Preface to Marx’s “The Civil War in France”
In his preface to the third edition of The Civil War in France (this preface is dated March 18, 1891, and was originally published in Neue Zeit), Engels, in addition to some interesting incidental remarks on questions concerning the attitude towards the state, gave a remarkably vivid summary of the lessons of the Commune. This summary, made more profound by the entire experience of the 20 years that separated the author from the Commune, and directed expressly against the “superstitious belief in the state” so widespread in Germany, may justly be called the last word of Marxism on the question under consideration.
In France, Engels observed, the workers emerged with arms from every revolution: “therefore the disarming of the workers was the first commandment for the bourgeois, who were at the helm of the state. Hence, after every revolution won by the workers, a new struggle, ending with the defeat of the workers.”
This summary of the experience of bourgeois revolutions is as concise as it is expressive. The essence of the matter–among other things, on the question of the state (has the oppressed class arms?)–is here remarkably well-grasped. It is precisely this essence that is most often evaded by both professors influenced by bourgeois ideology, and by petty-bourgeois democrats. In the Russian revolution of 1917, the honor (Cavaignac honor) of blabbing this secret of bourgeois revolutions fell to the Menshevik, would-be Marxist, Tsereteli. In his “historic” speech of June 11, Tsereteli blurted out that the bourgeoisie were determined to disarm the Petrograd workers–presenting, of course, this decision as his own, and as a necessity for the “state” in general!
Tsereteli’s historical speech of June 11 will, of course, serve every historian of the revolution of 1917 as a graphic illustration of how the Social-Revolutionary and Menshevik bloc, led by Mr. Tsereteli, deserted to the bourgeoisie against the revolutionary proletariat.
Another incidental remark of Engels’, also connected with the question of the state, deals with religion. It is well-known that the German Social-Democrats, as they degenerated and became increasingly opportunist, slipped more and more frequently into the philistine misinterpretation of the celebrated formula: “Religion is to be declared a private matter.” That is, the formula was twisted to mean that religion was a private matter even for the party of the revolutionary proletariat!! It was against this complete betrayal of the revolutionary programme of the proletariat that Engels vigorously protested. In 1891 he saw only the very feeble beginnings of opportunism in his party, and, therefore, he expressed himself with extreme caution:
“As almost only workers, or recognized representatives of the workers, sat in the Commune, its decisions bore a decidedly proletarian character. Either they decreed reforms which the republican bourgeoisie had failed to pass solely out of cowardice, but which provided a necessary basis for the free activity of the working class–such as the realization of the principle that in relation to the state religion is a purely private matter–or the Commune promulgated decrees which were in the direct interest of the working class and in part cut deeply into the old order of society.”
Engels deliberately emphasized the words “in relation to the state” as a straight thrust at at German opportunism, which had declared religion to be a private matter in relation to the party, thus degrading the party of the revolutionary proletariat to the level of the most vulgar “free- thinking” philistinism, which is prepared to allow a non-denominational status, but which renounces the party struggle against the opium of religion which stupifies the people.
The future historian of the German Social-Democrats, in tracing the roots of their shameful bankruptcy in 1914, will find a fair amount of interesting material on this question, beginning with the evasive declarations in the articles of the party’s ideological leader, Kautsky, which throw the door wide open to opportunism, and ending with the attitude of the party towards the “Los-von-Kirche-Bewegung” (the “Leave-the-Church” movement) in 1913.
But let us see how, 20 years after the Commune, Engels summed up its lessons for the fighting proletariat.
Here are the lessons to which Engels attached prime importance:
“… It was precisely the oppressing power of the former centralized government, army, political parties, bureaucracy, which Napoleon had created in 1798 and which every new government had since then taken over as a welcome instrument and used against its opponents–it was this power which was to fall everywhere, just as it had fallen in Paris.
“From the very outset the Commune had to recognize that the working class, once in power, could not go on managing with the old state machine; that in order not to lose again its only just-gained supremacy, this working class must, on the one hand, do away with all the old machinery of oppression previously used against it itself, and, on the other, safeguard itself against its own deputies and officials, by declaring them all, without exception, subject to recall at any time….”
Engels emphasized once again that not only under a monarchy, but also under a democratic republic the state remains a state, i.e., it retains its fundamental distinguishing feature of transforming the officials, the ‘servants of society”, its organs, into the masters of society.
“Against this transformation of the state and the organs of the state from servants of society into masters of society–an inevitable transformation in all previous states–the Commune used two infallible means. In the first place, it filled all posts–administrative, judicial, and educational–by election on the basis of universal suffrage of all concerned, subject to recall at any time by the electors. And, in the second place, it paid all officials, high or low, only the wages received by other workers. The highest salary paid by the Commune to anyone was 6,000 francs. In this way a dependable barrier to place-hunting and careerism was set up, even apart from the binding mandates to delegates to representative bodies, which were added besides….”
Engels here approached the interesting boundary line at which consistent democracy, on the one hand, is transformed into socialism and, on the other, demands socialism. For, in order to abolish the state, it is necessary to convert the functions of the civil service into the simple operations of control and accounting that are within the scope and ability of the vast majority of the population, and, subsequently, of every single individual. And if careerism is to be abolished completely, it must be made impossible for “honorable” though profitless posts in the Civil Service to be used as a springboard to highly lucrative posts in banks or joint-stock companies, as constantly happens in all the freest capitalist countries.
Engels, however, did not make the mistake some Marxists make in dealing, for example, with the question of the right of nations to self- determination, when they argue that is is impossible under capitalism and will be superfluous under socialism. This seemingly clever but actually incorrect statement might be made in regard to any democratic institution, including moderate salaries for officials, because fully consistent democracy is impossible under capitalism, and under socialism all democracy will wither away.
This is a sophism like the old joke about a man becoming bald by losing one more hair.
To develop democracy to the utmost, to find the forms for this development, to test them by practice, and so fort–all this is one of the component tasks of the struggle for the social revolution. Taken separately, no kind of democracy will bring socialism. But in actual life democracy will never be “taken separately”; it will be “taken together” with other things, it will exert its influence on economic life as well, will stimulate its transformation; and in its turn it will be influenced by economic development, and so on. This is the dialectics of living history.
Engels continued:
“… This shattering [Sprengung] of the former state power and its replacement by a new and truly democratic one is described in detail in the third section of The Civil War. But it was necessary to touch briefly here once more on some of its features, because in Germany particularly the superstitious belief in the state has passed from philosophy into the general consciousness of the bourgeoisie and even of many workers. According to the philosophical conception, the state is the ‘realization of the idea’, or the Kingdom of God on earth, translated into philosophical terms, the sphere in which eternal truth and justice are, or should be, realized. And from this follows a superstitious reverence for the state and everything connected with it, which takes root the more readily since people are accustomed from childhood to imagine that the affairs and interests common to the whole of society could not be looked after other than as they have been looked after in the past, that is, through the state and its lucratively positioned officials. And people think they have taken quite an extraordinary bold step forward when they have rid themselves of belief in hereditary monarchy and swear by the democratic republic. In reality, however, the state is nothing but a machine for the oppression of one class by another, and indeed in the democratic republic no less than in the monarchy. And at best it is an evil inherited by the proletariat after its victorious struggle for class supremacy, whose worst sides the victorious proletariat will have to lop off as speedily as possible, just as the Commune had to, until a generation reared in new, free social conditions is able to discard the entire lumber of the state.”
Engels warned the Germans not to forget the principles of socialism with regard to the state in general in connection with the substitution of a republic for the monarchy. His warnings now read like a veritable lesson to the Tseretelis and Chernovs, who in their “coalition” practice have revealed a superstitious belief in, and a superstitious reverence for, the state!
Two more remarks. 1. Engels’ statement that in a democratic republic, “no less” than in a monarchy, the state remains a “machine for the oppression of one class by another” by no means signifies that the form of oppression makes no difference to the proletariat, as some anarchists “teach”. A wider, freer and more open form of the class struggle and of class oppression vastly assists the proletariat in its struggle for the abolition of classes in general.
2. Why will only a new generation be able to discard the entire lumber of the state? This question is bound up with that of overcoming democracy, with which we shall deal now.
Engels on the Overcoming of Democracy
Engels came to express his views on this subject when establishing that the term “Social-Democrat” was scientifically wrong.
In a preface to an edition of his articles of the seventies on various subjects, mostly on “international” questions (Internationales aus dem Volkstaat), dated January 3, 1894, i.e., written a year and a half before his death, Engels wrote that in all his articles he used the word “Communist”, and not “Social-Democrat”, because at that time the Proudhonists in France and the Lassalleans in Germany called themselves Social-Democrats.
“… For Marx and myself,” continued Engels, “it was therefore absolutely impossible to use such a loose term to characterize our special point of view. Today things are different, and the word [“Social-Democrat”] may perhaps pass muster [mag passieren], inexact [unpassend, unsuitable] though it still is for a party whose economic programme is not merely socialist in general, but downright communist, and whose ultimate political aim is to overcome the whole state and, consequently, democracy as well. The names of real political parties, however, are never wholly appropriate; the party develops while the name stays.”
The dialectician Engels remained true to dialectics to the end of his days. Marx and I, he said, had a splendid, scientifically exact name for the party, but there was no real party, i.e., no mass proletarian party. Now (at the end of the 19th century) there was a real party, but its name was scientifically wrong. Never mind, it would “pass muster”, so long as the party developed, so long as the scientific in accuracy of the name was not hidden from it and did not hinder its development on the right direction!
Perhaps some wit would console us Bolsheviks in the manner of Engels: we have a real party, it is developing splendidly; even such a meaningless and ugly term as “Bolshevik” will “pass muster”, although it expresses nothing whatever but the purely accidental fact that at the Brussels-London Congress of 1903 we were in the majority. Perhaps now that the persecution of our Party by republicans and “revolutionary” petty-bourgeois democrats in July and August has earned the name “Bolshevik” such universal respect, now that, in addition, this persecution marks the tremendous historical progress our Party has made in its real development–perhaps now even I might hesitate to insist on the suggestion I made in April to change the name of our Party. Perhaps I would propose a “compromise” to my comrades, namely, to call ourselves the Communist Party, but to retain the word “Bolshevik” in brackets.
But the question of the name of the Party is incomparably less important than the question of the attitude of the revolutionary proletariat to the state.
In the usual argument about the state, the mistake is constantly made against which Engels warned and which we have in passing indicated above, namely, it is constantly forgotten that the abolition of the state means also the abolition of democracy; that the withering away of the state means the withering away of democracy.
At first sight this assertion seems exceedingly strange and incomprehensible; indeed, someone may even suspect us of expecting the advent of a system of society in which the principle of subordination of the minority to the majority will not be observed–for democracy means the recognition of this very principle.
No, democracy is not identical with the subordination of the minority to the majority. Democracy is a state which recognizes the subordination of the minority to the majority, i.e., an organization for the systematic use of force by one class against another, by one section of the population against another.
We set ourselves the ultimate aim of abolishing the state, i.e., all organized and systematic violence, all use of violence against people in general. We do not expect the advent of a system of society in which the principle of subordination of the minority to the majority will not be observed. In striving for socialism, however, we are convinced that it will develop into communism and, therefore, that the need for violence against people in general, for the subordination of one man to another, and of one section of the population to another, will vanish altogether since people will become accustomed to observing the elementary conditions of social life without violence and without subordination.
In order to emphasize this element of habit, Engels speaks of a new generation, “reared in new, free social conditions”, which will “be able to discard the entire lumber of the state”—of any state, including the democratic-republican state.
In order to explain this, it is necessary to analyze he economic basis of the withering away of the state.
Communists seek genocide status for WWII massacre of Poles by Ukraine nationalists

© Władysława Siemaszków, Ludobójstwo, Henryk Słowiński collection
The Russian Communist Party has drafted a motion that, if passed, would recognize as genocide the killing of tens of thousands of ethnic Poles by Ukrainian nationalists in Volhynia Region during World War Two.

The draft, prepared by a group of Communist Party lawmakers headed by MP Sergey Obukhov, reads that on July 11, 1943, two organizations of Ukrainian militants – the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists (OUN) and the Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA) – simultaneously attacked about 100 settlements in Volhynia and deliberately began to kill civilians.

Tens of thousands of civilians were killed between 1942 and 1945, the precise number of casualties is still unknown,” the document reads.

The Communists also stated that it was because of help from Soviet partisans that several Polish bases managed to repel the Ukrainian nationalist attacks, albeit with limited success.

The State Duma is confident that the protection of the memory about historically important events that took place in this period from politically motivated reassessments and distortions will become a guarantee not only of inadmissibility and impossibility of the rehabilitation of Nazism and its collaborators, but also to the cause of improvement of Russian-Polish relations,” the sponsors of the draft wrote in an attached note.

In June this year, the Polish lower house passed a resolution labeling as genocide the crimes committed by Ukrainian nationalists against citizens of the Second Polish Republic in 1943-1945. Polish lawmakers also declared July 11 ‘the Day of commemoration of the Poles who fell victim to the genocide committed by OUN-UPA.’

Earlier in the year, the upper house of the Polish parliament also passed a motion declaring that the Polish state recognizes as genocide the crimes of Ukrainian nationalists in Volhynia (also called Volyn) – an area of southeast Poland occupied by Nazi Germany during World War Two. The Polish authorities said that more than 100,000 Poles, mostly peasants, were killed in these events, also called the ‘Volhynia massacre.’

READ MORE: Poland recognizes WWII mass killings by Ukrainian nationalists as genocide

However, Polish lawmakers also acknowledged that Ukrainian civilians suffered from reciprocal attacks by Polish forces in the same period.

Ukrainian authorities have expressed regret over the motions. President Petro Poroshenko wrote on his Facebook page that the parliamentary resolution “saddened” him as he saw the possibility that it would be used for political speculation.

The Ukrainian Foreign Ministry was more direct, blasting the Polish move as “negating all the constructive political and diplomatic developments and the efforts of the two countries and peoples aimed at mutual forgiveness and reconciliation.”

In late 2014, the Russian Supreme Court recognized the OUN, UPA and several other Ukrainian radical nationalist groups as extremist and banned their activities in the Russian Federation. Since then, any activities of these organizations in Russia have been outlawed and public demonstration of their symbols declared illegal.

READ MORE: Supreme Court puts extremist tag on Ukrainian far right groups

Сzech Party Calls for Referendum on Country’s Withdrawal From NATO
21:26 12.09.2016
Get short URL191638401
The Communist Party of Czechoslovakia, one of the most influential parties in the Czech Republic, is gathering signatures for a petition that would lead to the organization of a referendum on the country’s withdrawal from NATO. In an interview with Sputnik, deputy chairman of the party’s central committee Josef Skala said that NATO pursues a policy which contradicts its official slogans. “The policies which it promotes increasingly threaten security. The last summit in Warsaw that took place on July 8-9 was particularly dangerous. They deployed the biggest military arsenal at the Russian border since the Second World War, according to Professor Stephen Cohen, an expert on modern Russian history and politics,” the politician said. The main goal of the party is to remove itself from NATO by way of this petition. “This petition demands that the government would promise to not allow the deployment of foreign troops and their military equipment on our territory, to not send our soldiers to the border with Russia and give people a chance to decide on if they need to NATO membership through a democratic referendum, the opportunity they have been waiting for 17 years,” Skala said. The Czech Republic, as a NATO member, has to take part in the alliance’s military activities, the politician said. According to Skala, such participation is dangerous and harmful for the residents of his country and doesn’t correspond to its interests. “We are drawn into a conflict with the nuclear powers and they use us human shields, who are supposed to be the first to take the blow,” Skala stated. According to him, the petition would give Czech residents an opportunity to decide their own fate and ensure that the government focuses on the country’s interests, and not on those of the military alliance.

Read more:

Remembering the 1973 Chile coup: A significant lesson about the “peaceful transition” to Socialism

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Remembering the 1973 Chile coup: A significant lesson about the “peaceful transition” to Socialism
Santiago de Chile, 11 September 1973. With the active support of the US, a military coup under the leadership of General Augusto Pinochet overthrows the Salvador Allende’s “Popular Unity” government. President Allende dies heroicly while defending the presidential palace. In the following years, more than 40,000 people are tortured and imprisoned. More than 3,000 people are officially dead, either executed or “vanished”. Thousands of citizens arrested. In October 1973, the popular songwriter Víctor Jara, and 70 other political killings were perpetrated by the death squad, Caravana de la Muerte. The Pinochet regime was ruthless and brutal.
Forty-three years later, the chilean coup d’etat gives us the opportunity to draw some important conslusions. We will not refer to the criminal role of the US and the CIA intervention in overthrowing Allende’s democratically elected government; this is well-documented and known. The most significant issue is what Chile’s 1973 coup teaches us about the so-called “peaceful transition” to Socialism or, in other words, the “democratic, parliamentary” road to Socialism.
The experience of Chile tragically confirmed the basic lesson of the Paris Commune which Marx and Engels pointed out in the preface of the 1872 German Edition of the Communist Manifesto: “the working class cannot simply lay hold of the ready-made state machinery, and wield it for its own purposes”. As V.I.Lenin underlined in “The State and the Revolution”, “…the working class must break up, smash the “ready-made state machinery”, and not confine itself merely to laying hold of it”. In the position of the bourgeoisie’s dictatorship, the working class must put her own state, the dictatorship of the proletariat.
The anniversary of the 1973 violent coup in Chile is an opportunity to think again about specific and important issues of the revolutionary movement. The Marxist-Leninist theory and practical experience has answered to these issues (state, authority, stance towards social democracy, way of transition to socialism etc). The 1973 experience in Chile provides a very clear lesson about the so-called “peaceful transition” to Socialism. It is a lesson against the opportunist myths of various petty-bourgeois ideologies like “eurocommunism” or the so-called “21stcentury socialism”.
In the era of Imperialism, Socialism cannot be achieved through “democratic and progressive reforms”. You can’t reach Socialism through the parliamentary mode of bourgeois democracy. Many times throughtout the 20th century, the international communist movement was trapped in opportunist positions about a supposed “democratic way to socialism”. The case of the Communist Party of Chile- which tried to achieve Socialism through a peaceful-parliamentary transformation of the bourgeois system- consists a tragic but useful lesson. 
Forty-three years after the coup d’etat in Chile, we honor the heroic people who died defending the socialist government, we honor presidente Salvador Allende, but also we try to draw significant conclusions which will be useful for the future struggles. 
KKE GS Dimitris Koutsoumbas: “Mr.Tsipras’ promises are only for a few monopoly groups and the big capital”

Saturday, September 10, 2016

KKE GS Dimitris Koutsoumbas: “Mr.Tsipras’ promises are only for a few monopoly groups and the big capital”

Attending a massive rally of PAME (All-Workers Militant Front) on the day of Thessaloniki International Fair (TIF) inauguration, the General Secretary of KKE Dimitris Koutsoumbas made the following statement:
“The promises of Mr.Tsipras from TIF regarding development are only for a few monopoly groups of the big capital which will see again their profits soaring, by giving a pittance, a plate of food to the most extreme poverty.
For all the others, for the working class, for the popular strata- which will continue to be tormented- the antipeople measure will continue to exist, cuts in wages and pensions will continue, small businesses will continue closing down and being subject to foreclosures and auctions, the wild unbearable taxation will continue as well.
The situation can go no further; the SYRIZA-ANEL government continues to please the big capital, the EU, the quartet and continues to bleed our people. It continues the same policy of the previous governments of New Democracy and PASOK.

Now the solution is a strong KKE, a strong working-people’s movement so that real hope can be restored within the people”.

Regarding his presence in the PAME demonstration in Thessaloniki he said:
“There is a big presence of working people, farmers, self-employed people, it is a dynamic answer by PAME and other labour unions against the antipeople policy of the government and the announcements of Tsipras today in TIF”.