Category: Party Voices
Turkey: Police raid young members of the Communist Party (KP), threatened students

Friday, October 21, 2016

Turkey: Police raid young members of the Communist Party (KP), threatened students
According to SOL International, Turkish police raided members of the Communist Youth who were working for an event of the ‘Socialism Schools’.
Young members of Communist Party, Turkey, (KP) were forcefully taken to a police station due to their works in front of Kadıköy Anadolu Lisesi (a prominent high school in Kadıköy/Istanbul), for the event of the ‘Socialism Schools’ that will be held on October 22, Saturday.
A member of Communist Party (KP) was attacked, and his mobile phone was seized on the grounds that he wanted to call his lawyer. Police did not permit any calls to lawyers.
Members of the Communist Youth were asked for their home addresses at the police station. Police threatened the students of kicking out from dormitories. Young communists were released after being exposed to various threats and psychological pressures. 
Interview with Kostas Papadakis (KKE): “SYRIZA has been chosen by the bourgeois class to complete the dirty work…”

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Interview with Kostas Papadakis (KKE): “SYRIZA has been chosen by the bourgeois class to complete the dirty work…”

Special interview with Kostas Papadakis, member of the CC of the KKE and Member of the European Parliament.

International Communist Press, 17th October 2016.

ICP: After the 3rd memorandum in Greece, we are all witnessing anti-worker and anti-popular laws passing from the parliament. Is it possible to say that the people are getting more and more politicized and organized as their standard of living has been decreased into half?
Kostas Papadakis: The SYRIZA-ANEL government established its own memorandum, which was passed together with the votes of the “rightwing” and “centre” bourgeois parties (ND, PASOK, POTAMI), on the basis of the two previous memoranda. The memoranda are not just an agreement with the imperialist institutions, but the “programme” of the bourgeois class in order to return to profitability, reducing labour rights and the price of labour power.

The SYRIZA-ANEL government, taking harsh anti-worker measures, causes deep disillusionment amongst wide sections of the people. Amongst those who believed that the memoranda could allegedly be abolished via parliament and referenda.

The disillusionment gives way to the people’s struggle. In the first 6 months of the 2nd SYRIZA-ANEL government there were 4 mass general strikes, together with other mobilizations of workers, self-employed, scientists and professionals. The poor farmers set up roadblocks at 100 points all over Greece for 40 days. In this period, there are mobilizations every day.

But even these struggles do not correspond to the offensive being waged against the people. However, it is not just the mass character of a struggle on its own that is of importance, but also its direction. Mass struggles were waged in previous years; however the demand for one government to leave and for another to take its place was the dominant one. In the end, the new government continued the same political line, sowing disillusionment amongst sections of the people.
Today, there must be mass struggles concerning all the problems, which will target the capitalist development path itself, the power of the monopolies, the EU. And these struggles can have the strength, duration, victories and above all prospects.
ICP: Do you evaluate a dissolution in the SYRIZA-ANEL government and do you expect early elections? 
Papadakis: SYRIZA has been chosen by the bourgeois class to complete the dirty work, with the 3rd memorandum, because it can do it better than ND. There are other bourgeois political forces ready to be the “reserve force”, in case the governmental majority needs support. Nothing is accidental. The government uses “left” phraseology in order to create a false distinction in relation to the largest opposition party, the “rightwing” ND, which it accuses of being a supporter of neoliberal ideology in order to show that the government allegedly has social sensitivities. This is a tactic to deceive the people, something which is assisted by the other parties and a section of the media that talk about the government having a leftwing profile. Of course, the developments have their own dynamics. If things do not go as they plan, we do not exclude the possibility of a “heroic exit” by the government and the possibility of elections. Such a scenario will depend on the international and European developments and their trajectory.
ICP: In order to reach the ‘aimed’ budget surplus for 2017 big cuts in the pensions and more taxing are evaluated for the coming year. What will be the axis of the struggle of KKE in the near future?
Papadakis: The communists struggle inside the trade unions, the associations of poor farmers, the self-employed so that the anti-people measures of the government do not succeed, and for the restoration of the losses the people’s income has undergone. We use every possibility. Recently, for example, the KKE tabled a draft law to Parliament for the abolition of the special consumption tax and VAT on heating oil and natural gas for household use. At the same time, our party highlights in a militant way that the needs of the people can be satisfied on the basis of the real productive potential and wealth produced in this country, only if production and the economy are freed from the chains of capitalist ownership. It calls on the people to think: why do we today import milk, animal food, pesticides and medicines, meat, sugar, and other products that can be produced in our country? Why has construction come to a halt when there are some many works that must be carried out-anti-flood, anti-earthquake anti-forest-fire infrastructure-which are urgently needed?
The party highlights the superiority of its proposal regarding social state ownership of the means of production and scientific central planning. It highlights the superiority of socialism, demonstrating the potential of an economy that will be planned according to social needs, in opposition to today’s system that brings crises and austerity to the people and is dominated by capitalist profit.
The Greek people, the working class above all, must organize their counterattack and not wait for solutions from above, from the EU and its governments, in order to follow this path. They must organize their struggle to change the correlation of forces inside the labour movement.
“The CPs of Europe, strengthening the struggle against the imperialist EU, NATO, the USA, must reinforce the independent political role of the communist movement …”  

ICP: Brexit and the financial difficulties of Deutsche Bank are signals of the deepening of the crisis in the European Union imperialism. In this perspective what should be the tasks of the communist and workers’ parties in Europe?
Papadakis: In order to understand the developments in the EU and the tasks of the communist movement, we must begin with examinig the more general situation and specifically that in today’s conditions:
No imperialist centre will function as the engine of a significant increase of the rate of capitalist growth in the international imperialist system over the next decade.
Over-accumulated capital is continuously expanding, i.e. capital that cannot be invested at a satisfactory rate of profit.
There is a continuation of the trend for changes in the correlation of forces, with the reduction of the share of the USA and Eurozone in the Gross World Product and the increase of the share of China and other countries.
The confrontation between the imperialist centres over the control of markets, energy resources and oil-natural gas transport routes is sharpening in this framework. The struggle between the USA-NATO and Russia is characteristic.
Of course, the USA, which maintains the first position in the pyramid of the international imperialist system, is proposing the TTIP with the EU, which will cover 50% of global production today and 30% of world trade.
Significant sections of the French and German bourgeois classes are reacting against this, because they understand that the US proposal is a “Trojan Horse” in order to ensure US economic hegemony in Europe. Consequently, the economic war between the USA and Germany, with the emergence of scandals, court verdicts related to “Siemens”, VW, Deutsche Bank, Apple.
The USA is also playing a leading role in the extension of sanctions against Russia, which do not only negatively affect the bourgeoisie of Russia, but also particular interests of Germany, Italy and France.
This framework to a great extent defines the developments in the EU. The EU today remains an advanced form of reactionary alliance between the capitalist states in Europe. However, the common aims of the monopolies, of the bourgeois classes that formed this alliance cannot negate the asymmetrical development of the economies of its member-states.
It is in this context that we must evaluate the result of the British referendum, which reflects the existence of sections of capital that desired Brexit. The increasing discontent of the people was trapped in the current of bourgeois euroscepticism. In particular it should be noted that there is an attempt by far-right and fascist forces to utilize this current, which is developing in many EU countries.
In these conditions, the governments of France, Italy and Greece are requesting the relaxation of the EU fiscal policy, the increase of state and EU funding for businesses so that they can strengthen their domestic monopoly groups. However, this web of intra-bourgeois contradictions cannot and must not conceal the strategic convergence of all of them against the interests of the working class and popular strata. All of them, despite their various differences, are continuously sacrificing the people’s needs in order to buttress the competitiveness and profitability of capital.
In these conditions, the communist movement in Europe undertakes serious responsibilities and must struggle so that the workers are not deceived by the new fraudulent promises e.g. of A. Tsipras that the anti-people political line can allegedly change and be reversed by an alliance of the states from the South of the EU or an alliance of European social-democrats. What is required is the ideological-political confrontation against the forces of the “Party of the European Left” (PEL) and the other social-democratic parties that sow similar illusions. This is why the creation and activity of the “European Communist Initiative” is of great significance. 29 CPs participate in it and declare that the EU is a union of capitalist states that cannot be improved and humanized, as capitalism cannot be improved and humanized.

The CPs of Europe, strengthening the struggle against the imperialist EU, NATO, the USA, must reinforce the independent political role of the communist movement so that the peoples do not follow a “false” flag, i.e. a flag of sections of the bourgeois class of their countries or other imperialist centres, with false slogans, like those about the “sovereignty” and “equality” of countries in the framework of capitalism and the EU. In addition, it is very important for the struggle for disengagement from the imperialist unions of the EU and NATO to be connected with the struggle for workers’ power, which is the only guarantee that such disengagement will benefit the people.
The CPs of Europe, struggling to prevent the even worse measures that are in the pipeline, in order to satisfy the needs of the workers, must come into conflict with the bourgeois and petty bourgeois illusions that there can allegedly be painless solutions for the people, without clashes against our real opponent, without conflict with the power of the monopolies, of capital.
One hundred years after the Great October Socialist Revolution, socialism remains necessary and timely for the peoples, despite the fact that the global correlation of forces has deteriorated. This necessity and timeliness is highlighted by the impasses of the capitalist mode of production, which causes crises, wars, poverty, unemployment, destitution. We can and must organize our counterattack, to change the correlation of forces in favour of the working class and popular strata, to strengthen flashpoints of resistance, to form the preconditions so that ultimately power can change hands.
Ernesto Che Guevara- What a young Communist should be

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Ernesto Che Guevara- What a young Communist should be
What a young Communist should be.
Below are excerpts of a speech given by Ernesto Che Guevara, one of the central leaders of the Cuban revolution, at a ceremony marking the second anniversary of the formation of the youth organization. It was first published in Obra Revolutionaria, Oct. 23, 1962. 
The Union of Young Communists, with different names and organizational forms, is almost as old as the revolution. At the beginning it emerged out of the Rebel Army – perhaps that’s where it also got its initial name [Association of Young Rebels]. But it was an organization linked to the army in order to introduce Cuba’s youth to the massive tasks of national defense, the most urgent problem at the time and the one requiring the most rapid solution….
Later, as the revolution was consolidated and we could finally talk about the new tasks ahead, Compañero Fidel proposed changing the name of the organization, a change of name that fully expresses a principle. The Union of Young Communists [Applause] has its face to the future. It is organized with the bright future of socialist society in mind….
The Union of Young Communists should be defined by a single word: vanguard. You, compañeros, must be the vanguard of all movements, the first to be ready to make the sacrifices demanded by the revolution, whatever they might be…. And in order to do that, you have to set yourself real, concrete tasks, tasks in your daily work that won’t allow you the slightest letup.
The job of organizing must constantly be linked to all the work carried out by the Union of Young Communists. Organization is the key to grasping the initiatives presented by the revolution’s leaders, the many initiatives proposed by our prime minister, and the initiatives from the working class, which should also lead to precise directives and ideas for subsequent action.
Without organization, ideas, after an initial momentum, start losing their effect. They become routine, degenerate into conformity, and end up simply a memory. I make this warning because too often, in this short but rich period of our revolution, many great initiatives have failed. They have been forgotten because of the lack of the organizational apparatus needed to keep them going and accomplish something….
Now, two years later, we can look back and observe the results of our work. The Union of Young Communists has tremendous achievements, one of the most important and spectacular being in defense.
Study, work, and the rifle.
Those young people, or some of them, who first climbed the five peaks of Turquino,(1) others who were enrolled in a whole series of military organizations, all those who picked up their rifles at moments of danger – they were ready to defend the revolution each and every place where an invasion or enemy action was expected. The highest honor, that of being able to defend our revolution, fell to the young people at Playa Girón….(2)
At the moment when the country’s defense was our most important task, the youth were there. Today, defense is still at the top of our concerns. But we should not forget that the watchword that guides the Young Communists – study, work, and the rifle – is a unified whole. The country cannot be defended with arms alone. We must also defend the country by building it with our work and preparing the new technical cadres to speed up its development in the coming years.
This is enormously important now, just as important as armed defense. When these problems were raised, the youth once again were there. Youth brigades, responding to the call of the revolution, invaded every corner of the country, and so after a few months of hard battle in which there were also martyrs of our revolution – martyrs in education – we were able to announce something new in Latin America: Cuba was a territory free of illiteracy in the Americas….(3) [Applause]
This is the kind of education that best suits youth who are being educated for communism. It is a kind of education in which work stops being an obsession, as it is in the capitalist world, and becomes a pleasant social duty….

What a young communist should be

Now, compañeros, I wanted to share my opinion as a national leader of the ORI(4) on what a Young Communist should be, to see if we all agree. I believe that the first thing that must characterize a Young Communist is the honor he feels in being a Young Communist, an honor that moves him to let the world know he is a Young Communist….
In addition to that, he should have a great sense of duty, a sense of duty toward the society we are building, toward our fellow men as human beings and toward all men around the world. That is something that must characterize the Young Communist. And along with that: deep sensitivity to all problems, sensitivity to injustice; a spirit that rebels against every wrong, whoever commits it; [Applause] questioning anything not understood, discussing and asking for clarification on whatever is not clear; declaring war on formalism of all types; always being open to new experiences in order to apply the many years of experience of humanity’s advance along the road to socialism to our country’s concrete conditions, to the realities that exist in Cuba. Each and every one of you must think about how to change reality, how to make it better….
Developing to the utmost the sensitivity to feel anguished when a man is murdered in any corner of the world and to feel enthusiasm when a new banner of freedom is raised in any corner of the world. [Applause]
The Young Communist cannot be limited by national borders. The Young Communist must practice proletarian internationalism and feel it as his own, reminding himself and all of us – Young Communists and those aspiring to be communists here in Cuba – that we are a real and palpable example for all our America, and for more than our America, for the other countries of the world also fighting on other continents for freedom, against colonialism, against neocolonialism, against imperialism, against all forms of oppression by unjust systems.
He must always remember that we are a flaming torch, that just as we are all individually a model for the people of Cuba, we are also a model for the peoples of Latin America and the oppressed peoples of the world who are fighting for their freedom….
And if someone says we are just romantics, inveterate idealists, thinking the impossible, that the masses of people cannot be turned into almost perfect human beings, we will have to answer a thousand and one times: Yes, it can be done; we are right. The people as a whole can advance.
1. Located in the Sierra Maestra, Turquino is the highest mountain in Cuba.
2. On April 17, 1961, 1,500 Cuban-born mercenaries invaded Cuba at the Bay of Pigs on the southern coast in Las Villas Province. The action, organized directly by Washington, aimed to establish a «provisional government» to appeal for direct U.S. intervention. However, the invaders were first held at bay by the Cuban militias and defeated within 72 hours by the Revolutionary Armed Forces. On April 19, the last invaders surrendered at Playa Girón (Bay of Pigs), which has come to be the name Cubans use to designate the battle.
3. From late 1960 through 1961, the revolutionary government undertook a literacy campaign to teach 1 million Cubans to read and write. Central to this effort was the mobilization of 100,000 young people to go to the countryside, where they lived with peasants whom they were teaching. As a result of this drive, Cuba virtually eliminated illiteracy.
4. The Integrated Revolutionary Organizations (ORI) was formed in 1961 from a fusion of forces from the July 26 Movement, Popular Socialist Party, and Revolutionary Directorate. It became the United Party of the Socialist Revolution in 1963 and the Communist Party of Cuba in 1965.
Vladimir Ilyich Lenin- The State and Revolution (1917) Part VI “The Vulgarisation of Marxism by Opportunists”

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Vladimir Ilyich Lenin- The State and Revolution (1917) Part VI “The Vulgarisation of Marxism by Opportunists”
The State and Revolution.
By Vladimir Ilyich Lenin.
First Published: 1918.
Source: V.I.Lenin, Collected Works, Volume 25, p.381-492.
The question of the relation of the state to the social revolution, and of the social revolution to the state, like the question of revolution generally, was given very little attention by the leading theoreticians and publicists of the Second International (1889-1914). But the most characteristic thing about the process of the gradual growth of opportunism that led to the collapse of the Second International in 1914 is the fact that even when these people were squarely faced with this question they tried to evade it or ignored it.
In general, it may be said that evasiveness over the question of the relation of the proletarian revolution to the state–an evasiveness which benefited and fostered opportunism–resulted in the distortion of Marxism and in its complete vulgarization.
To characterize this lamentable process, if only briefly, we shall take the most prominent theoreticians of Marxism: Plekhanov and Kautsky.
1. Plekhanov’s Controversy with the Anarchists
Plekhanov wrote a special pamphlet on the relation of anarchism to socialism, entitled Anarchism and Socialism, which was published in german in 1894.
In treating this subject, Plekhanov contrived completely to evade the most urgent, burning, and most politically essential issue in the struggle against anarchism, namely, the relation of the revolution to the state, and the question of the state in general! His pamphlet falls into two distinct parts: one of them is historical and literary, and contains valuable material on the history of the ideas of Stirner, Proudhon, and others; the other is philistine, and contains a clumsy dissertation on the theme that an anarchist cannot be distinguished from a bandit.
It is a most amusing combination of subjects and most characteristic of Plekhanov’s whole activity on the eve of the revolution and during the revolutionary period in Russia. In fact, in the years 1905 to 1917, Plekhanov revealed himself as a semi-doctrinaire and semi-philistine who, in politics, trailed in the wake of the bourgeoisie.
We have now seen how, in their controversy with the anarchists, marx and Engels with the utmost thoroughness explained their views on the relation of revolution to the state. In 1891, in his foreword to Marx’s Critique of the Gotha Programme, Engels wrote that “we”–that is, Engels and Marx–“were at that time, hardly two years after the Hague Congress of the [First] International, engaged in the most violent struggle against Bakunin and his anarchists.”
The anarchists had tried to claim the Paris Commune as their “own”, so to say, as a collaboration of their doctrine; and they completely misunderstood its lessons and Marx’s analysis of these lessons. Anarchism has given nothing even approximating true answers to the concrete political questions: Must the old state machine be smashed? And what should be put in its place?
But to speak of “anarchism and socialism” while completely evading the question of the state, and disregarding the whole development of Marxism before and after the Commune, meant inevitably slipping into opportunism. For what opportunism needs most of all is that the two questions just mentioned should not be raised at all. That in itself is a victory for opportunism.
2. Kautsky’s Controversy with the Opportunists
Undoubtedly, an immeasurably larger number of Kautsky’s works have been translated into Russian than into any other language. It is not without reason that some German Social-Democrats say in jest that Kautsky is read more in Russia than in Germany (let us say, in parenthesis, that this jest has a far deeper historical meaning than those who first made it suspect. The Russian workers, by making in 1905 an unusually great and unprecedented demand for the best works of the best Social- Democratic literature and editions of these works in quantities unheard of in other countries, rapidly transplanted, so to speak, the enormous experience of a neighboring, more advanced country to the young soil of our proletarian movement).
Besides his popularization of Marxism, Kautsky is particularly known in our country for his controversy with the opportunists, with Bernstein at their head. One fact, however, is almost unknown, one which cannot be ignored if we set out to investigate how Kautsky drifted into the morass of unbelievably disgraceful confusion and defence of social-chauvinism during the supreme crisis of 1914-15. This fact is as follows: shortly before he came out against the most prominent representatives of opportunism in France (Millerand and Jaures) and in Germany (Bernstein), Kautsky betrayed very considerable vacillation. The Marxist Zarya, which was published in Stuttgart in 1901-02, and advocated revolutionary proletarian views, was forced to enter into controversy with Kautsky and describe as “elastic” the half-hearted, evasive resolution, conciliatory towards the opportunists, that he proposed at the International Socialist Congress in Paris in 1900. Kautsky’s letters published in Germany reveal no less hesitancy on his part before he took the field against Bernstein.
Of immeasurably greater significance, however, is the fact that, in his very controversy with the opportunists, in his formulation of the question and his manner of treating it, we can new see, as we study the history of Kautsky’s latest betrayal of Marxism, his systematic deviation towards opportunism precisely on the question of the state.
Let us take Kautsky’s first important work against opportunism, Bernstein and the Social-Democratic Programme. Kautsky refutes Bernstein in detail, but here is a characteristic thing:
Bernstein, in his Premises of Socialism, of Herostratean fame, accuses Marxism of “Blanquism” (an accusation since repeated thousands of times by the opportunists and liberal bourgeoisie in Russia against the revolutionary Marxists, the Bolsheviks). In this connection Bernstein dwells particularly on Marx’s The Civil War in France, and tries, quite unsuccessfully, as we have seen, to identify Marx’s views on the lessons of the Commune with those of Proudhon. Bernstein pays particular attention to the conclusion which Marx emphasized in his 1872 preface to the Communist Manifesto, namely, that “the working class cannot simply lay hold of the ready-made state machinery and wield it for its own purposes”.
This statement “pleased” Bernstein so much that he used it no less than three times in his book, interpreting it in the most distorted, opportunist way.
As we have seen, Marx meant that the working-class must smash, break, shatter (sprengung, explosion–the expression used by Engels) the whole state machine. But according to Bernstein it would appear as though Marx in these words warned the working class against excessive revolutionary zeal when seizing power.
A cruder more hideous distortion of Marx’s idea cannot be imagined.
How, then, did Kautsky proceed in his most detailed refutation of Bernsteinism?
He refrained from analyzing the utter distortion of Marxism by opportunism o this point. He cited the above-quoted passage from Engels’ preface to Marx’s Civil War and said that according to Marx the working class cannot simply take over the ready-made state machinery, but that, generally speaking, it can take it over–and that was all. Kautsky did not say a word about the fact that Bernstein attributed to Marx the very opposite of Marx’s real idea, that since 1852 Marx had formulated the task of the proletarian revolution as being to “smash” the state machine.
The result was that the most essential distinction between Marxism and opportunism on the subject of the tasks of the proletarian revolution was slurred over by Kautsky!
“We can quite safely leave the solution of the problems of the proletarian dictatorship of the future,” said Kautsky, writing “against” Bernstein. (p.172, German edition)
This is not a polemic against Bernstein, but, in essence, a concession to him, a surrender to opportunism; for at present the opportunists ask nothing better than to “quite safely leave to the future” all fundamental questions of the tasks of the proletarian revolution.
From 1852 to 1891, or for 40 years, Marx and Engels taught the proletariat that it must smash the state machine. Yet, in 1899, Kautsky, confronted with the complete betrayal of Marxism by the opportunists on this point, fraudulently substituted for the question whether it is necessary to smash this machine the question for the concrete forms in which it is to be smashed, and then sough refuge behind the “indisputable” (and barren) philistine truth that concrete forms cannot be known in advance!!
A gulf separates Marx and Kautsky over their attitude towards the proletarian party’s task of training the working class for revolution.
Let us take the next, more mature, work by Kautsky, which was also largely devoted to a refutation of opportunist errors. It is his pamphlet, The Social Revolution. In this pamphlet, the author chose as his special theme the question of “the proletarian revolution” and “the proletarian regime”. He gave much that was exceedingly valuable, but he avoided the question of the state. Throughout the pamphlet the author speaks of the winning of state power–and no more; that is, he has chosen a formula which makes a concession to the opportunists, inasmuch as it admits the possibility of seizing power without destroying the state machine. The very thing which Marx in 1872 declared to be “obsolete” in the programme of the Communist Manifesto, is revived by Kautsky in 1902.
A special section in the pamphlet is devoted to the “forms and weapons of the social revolution”. Here Kautsky speaks of the mass political strike, of civil war, and of the “instruments of the might of the modern large state, its bureaucracy and the army”; but he does not say a word about what the Commune has already taught the workers. Evidently, it was not without reason that Engels issued a warning, particularly to the German socialists. against “superstitious reverence” for the state.
Kautsky treats the matter as follows: the victorious proletariat “will carry out the democratic programme”, and he goes on to formulate its clauses. But he does not say a word about the new material provided in 1871 on the subject of the replacement of bourgeois democracy by proletarian democracy. Kautsky disposes of the question by using such “impressive-sounding” banalities as:
“Still, it goes without saying that we shall not achieve supremacy under the present conditions. Revolution itself presupposes long and deep-going struggles, which, in themselves, will change our present political and social structure.”
Undoubtedly, this “goes without saying”, just as the fact that horses eat oats of the Volga flows into the Caspian. Only it is a pity that an empty and bombastic phrase about “deep-going” struggles is used to avoid a question of vital importance to the revolutionary proletariat, namely, what makes its revolution “deep-going” in relation to the state, to democracy, as distinct from previous, non-proletarian revolutions.
By avoiding this question, Kautsky in practice makes a concession to opportunism on this most essential point, although in words he declares stern war against it and stresses the importance of the “idea of revolution” (how much is this “idea” worth when one is afraid to teach the workers the concrete lessons of revolution?), or says, “revolutionary idealism before everything else”, or announces that the English workers are now “hardly more than petty bourgeois”.
“The most varied form of enterprises–bureaucratic [??], trade unionist, co-operative, private… can exist side by side in socialist society,” Kautsky writes. “… There are, for example, enterprises which cannot do without a bureaucratic [??] organization, such as the railways. Here the democratic organization may take the following shape: the workers elect delegates who form a sort of parliament, which establishes the working regulations and supervises the management of the bureaucratic apparatus. The management of other countries may be transferred to the trade unions, and still others may become co-operative enterprises.”
This argument is erroneous; it is a step backward compared with the explanations Marx and Engels gave in the seventies, using the lessons of the Commune as an example.
As far as the supposedly necessary “bureaucratic” organization is concerned, there is no difference whatever between a railway and any other enterprise in large-scale machine industry, any factory, large shop, or large-scale capitalist agricultural enterprise. The technique of all these enterprises makes absolutely imperative the strictest discipline, the utmost precision on the part of everyone in carry out his allotted task, for otherwise the whole enterprise may come to a stop, or machinery or the finished product may be damaged. In all these enterprises the workers will, of course, “elect delegates who will form a sort of parliament”.
The whole point, however, is that this “sort of parliament” will not be a parliament in the sense of a bourgeois parliamentary institution. The whole point is that this “sort of parliament” will not merely “establish the working regulations and supervise the management” of the “apparatus”, but this apparatus will not be “bureaucratic”. The workers, after winning political power, will smash the old bureaucratic apparatus, shatter it to its very foundations, and raze it to the ground; they will replace it by a new one, consisting of the very same workers and other employees, against whose transformation into bureaucrats the measures will at once be taken which were specified in detail by Marx and Engels: (1) not only election, but also recall at any time; (2) pay not to exceed that of a workman; (3) immediate introduction of control and supervision by all, so that all may become “bureaucrats” for a time and that, therefore, nobody may be able to become a “bureaucrat”.
Kautsky has not reflected at all on Marx’s words: “The Commune was a working, not parliamentary, body, executive and legislative at the same time.”
Kautsky has not understood at all the difference between bourgeois parliamentarism, which combines democracy (not for the people) with bureaucracy (against the people), and proletarian democracy, which will take immediate steps to cut bureaucracy down to the roots, and which will be able to carry these measures through to the end, to the complete abolition of bureaucracy, to the introduction of complete democracy for the people.
Kautsky here displays the same old “superstitious reverence” for the state, and “superstitious belief” in bureaucracy.
Let us now pass to the last and best of Kautsky’s works against the opportunists, his pamphlet The Road to Power (which, I believe, has not been published in Russian, for it appeared in 1909, when reaction was at its height in our country). This pamphlet is a big step forward, since it does not deal with the revolutionary programme in general, as the pamphlet of 1899 against Bernstein, or with the tasks of the social revolution irrespective of the time of its occurrence, as the 1902 pamphlet, The Social Revolution; it deals with the concrete conditions which compels us to recognize that the “era of revolutions” is setting in.
The author explicitly points to the aggravation of class antagonisms in general and to imperialism, which plays a particularly important part in this respect. After the “revolutionary period of 1789-1871” in Western Europe, he says, a similar period began in the East in 1905. A world war is approaching with menacing rapidity. “It [the proletariat] can no longer talk of premature revolution.” “We have entered a revolutionary period.” The “revolutionary era is beginning”.
These statements are perfectly clear. This pamphlet of Kautsky’s should serve as a measure of comparison of what the German Social-Democrats promised to be before the imperialist war and the depth of degradation to which they, including Kautsky himself, sank when the war broke out. “The present situation,” Kautsky wrote in the pamphlet under survey, “is fraught with the danger that we [i.e., the German Social-Democrats] may easily appear to be more ‘moderate’ than we really are.” It turned out that in reality the German Social-Democratic Party was much more moderate and opportunist than it appeared to be!
It is all the more characteristic, therefore, that although Kautsky so explicitly declared that the era of revolution had already begun, in the pamphlet which he himself said was devoted to an analysis of the “political revolution”, he again completely avoided the question of the state.
These evasions of the question, these omissions and equivocations, inevitably added up to that complete swing-over to opportunism with which we shall now have to deal.
Kautsky, the German Social-Democrats’ spokesman, seems to have declared: I abide by revolutionary views (1899), I recognize, above all, the inevitability of the social revolution of the proletariat (1902), I recognize the advent of a new era of revolutions (1909). Still, I am going back on what Marx said as early as 1852, since the question of the tasks of the proletarian revolution in relation to the state is being raised (1912).
It was in this point-blank form that the question was put in Kautsky’s controversy with Pannekoek.
3. Kautsky’s Controversy with Pannekoek
In opposing Kautsky, Pannekoek came out as one of the representatives of the “Left radical” trend which included Rosa Luxemburg, Karl Radek, and others. Advocating revolutionary tactics, they were united in the conviction that Kautsky was going over to the “Centre”, which wavered in an unprincipled manner between Marxism and opportunism. This view was proved perfectly correct by the war, when this “Centrist” (wrongly called Marxist) trend, or Kautskyism, revealed itself in all its repulsive wretchedness.
In an article touching on the question of the state, entitled “Mass Action and Revolution” (Neue Zeit, 1912, Vol.XXX, 2), Pannekoek described kautsky’s attitude as one of “passive radicalism”, as “a theory of inactive expectancy”. “Kautsky refuses to see the process of revolution,” wrote Pannekoek (p.616). In presenting the matter in this way, Pannekoek approached the subject which interests us, namely, the tasks of the proletarian revolution in relation to the state.
“The struggle of the proletariat,” he wrote, “is not merely a struggle against the bourgeoisie for state power, but a struggle against state power…. The content of this [the proletarian] revolution is the destruction and dissolution [Auflosung] of the instruments of power of the state with the aid of the instruments of power of the proletariat. (p.544) “The struggle will cease only when, as the result of it, the state organization is completely destroyed. The organization of the majority will then have demonstrated its superiority by destroying the organization of the ruling minority.” (p.548)
The formulation in which Pannekoek presented his ideas suffers from serious defects. But its meaning is clear nonetheless, and it is interesting to note how Kautsky combated it.
“Up to now,” he wrote, “the antithesis between the Social-Democrats and the anarchists has been that the former wished to win the state power while the latter wished to destroy it. Pannekoek wants to do both.” (p.724)
Although Pannekoek’s exposition lacks precision and concreteness–not to speak of other shortcomings of his article which have no bearing on the present subject–Kautsky seized precisely on the point of principle raised by Pannekoek; and on this fundamental point of principle Kautsky completely abandoned the Marxist position and went over wholly to opportunism. His definition of the distinction between the Social-Democrats and the anarchists is absolutely wrong; he completely vulgarizes and distorts Marxism.
The distinction between Marxists and the anarchists is this: (1) The former, while aiming at the complete abolition of the state, recognize that this aim can only be achieved after classes have been abolished by the socialist revolution, as the result of the establishment of socialism, which leads to the withering away of the state. The latter want to abolish he state completely overnight, not understanding the conditions under which the state can be abolished. (2) The former recognize that after the proletariat has won political power it must completely destroy the old state machine and replace it by a new one consisting of an organization of the armed workers, after the type of the Commune. The latter, while insisting on the destruction of the state machine, have a very vague idea of what the proletariat will put in its place and how it will use its revolutionary power. The anarchists even deny that the revolutionary proletariat should use the state power, they reject its revolutionary dictatorship. (3) The former demand that the proletariat be trained for revolution by utilizing the present state. The anarchists reject this.
In this controversy, it is not Kautsky but Pannekoek who represents Marxism, for it was Marx who taught that the proletariat cannot simply win state power in the sense that the old state apparatus passes into new hands, but must smash this apparatus, must break it and replace it by a new one.
Kautsky abandons Marxism for the opportunist camp, for this destruction of the state machine, which is utterly unacceptable to the opportunists, completely disappears from his argument, and he leaves a loophole for them in that “conquest” may be interpreted as the simple acquisition of a majority.
To cover up his distortion of Marxism, Kautsky behaves like a doctrinaire: he puts forward a “quotation” from Marx himself. In 1850, Marx wrote that a “resolute centralization of power in the hands of the state authority” was necessary, and Kautsky triumphantly asks: does Pannekoek want to destroy “Centralism”?
This is simply a trick, like Bernstein’s identification of the views of Marxism and Proudhonism on the subject of federalism as against centralism.
Kautsky’s “quotation” is neither here nor there. Centralism is possible with both the old and the new state machine. If the workers voluntarily unite their armed forces, this will be centralism, but it will be based on the “complete destruction” of the centralized state apparatus–the standing army, the police, and the bureaucracy. Kautsky acts like an outright swindler by evading the perfectly well-known arguments of Marx and Engels on the Commune and plucking out a quotation which has nothing to do with the point at issue.
“Perhaps he [Pannekoek],” Kautsky continues, “wants to abolish the state functions of the officials? But we cannot do without officials even in the party and trade unions, let alone in the state administration. And our programme does not demand the abolition of state officials, but that they be elected by the people…. We are discussing here not the form the administrative apparatus of the ‘future state’ will assume, but whether our political struggle abolishes [literally dissolves – auflost] the state power before we have captured it. [Kautsky’s italics] Which ministry with its officials could be abolished?” Then follows an enumeration of the ministeries of education, justice, finance, and war. “No, not one of the present ministries will be removed by our political struggle against the government…. I repeat, in order to prevent misunderstanding: we are not discussing here the form the ‘future state’ will be given by the victorious Social- Democrats, but how the present state is changed by our opposition.” (p.725)
This is an obvious trick. Pannekoek raised the question of revolution. Both the title of his article and the passages quoted above clearly indicate this. By skipping to the question of “opposition”, Kautksy substitutes the opportunist for the revolutionary point of view. What he says means: at present we are an opposition; what we shall be after we have captured power, that we shall see. Revolution has vanished! And that is exactly what the opportunists wanted.
The point at issue is neither opposition nor political struggle in general, but revolution. Revolution consists in the proletariat destroying the “administrative apparatus” and the whole state machine, replacing it by a new one, made up of the armed workers. Kautsky displays a “superstitious reverence” for “ministries”; but why can they not be replaced, say, by committees of specialists working under sovereign, all-powerful Soviets of Workers’ and Soldiers’ Deputies?
The point is not at all whether the “ministries” will remain, or whether “committees of specialists” or some other bodies will be set up; that is quite immaterial. The point is whether the old state machine (bound by thousands of threads to the bourgeoisie and permeated through and through with routine and inertia) shall remain, or be destroyed and replaced by a new one. Revolution consists not in the new class commanding, governing with the aid of the old state machine, but in this class smashing this machine and commanding, governing with the aid of a new machine. Kautsky slurs over this basic idea of Marxism, or he does not understand it at all.
His question about officials clearly shows that he does not understand the lessons of the Commune or the teachings of Marx. “We cannot to without officials even in the party and the trade unions….”
We cannot do without officials under capitalism, under the rule of the bourgeoisie. The proletariat is oppressed, the working people are enslaved by capitalism. Under capitalism, democracy is restricted, cramped, curtailed, mutilated by all the conditions of wage slavery, and the poverty and misery of the people. This and this alone is the reason why the functionaries of our political organizations and trade unions are corrupted – or rather tend to be corrupted–by the conditions of capitalism and betray a tendency to become bureaucrats, i.e., privileged persons divorced from the people and standing above the people.
That is the essence of bureaucracy; and until the capitalists have been expropriated and the bourgeoisie overthrown, even proletarian functionaries will inevitably be “bureaucratized” to a certain extent.
According to Kautsky, since elected functionaries will remain under socialism, so will officials, so will the bureaucracy! This is exactly where he is wrong. Marx, referring to the example of the Commune, showed that under socialism functionaries will cease to be “bureaucrats”, to be “officials”, they will cease to be so in proportion as–in addition to the principle of election of officials–the principle of recall at any time is also introduced, as salaries are reduced to the level of the wages of the average workman, and as parliamentary institutions are replaced by “working bodies, executive and legislative at the same time”.
As a matter of fact, the whole of Kautsky’s argument against Pannekoek, and particularly the former’s wonderful point that we cannot do without officials even in our party and trade union organizations, is merely a repetition of Bernstein’s old “arguments” against Marxism in general. In his renegade book, The Premises of Socialism, Bernstein combats the ideas of “primitive” democracy, combats what he calls “doctrinaire democracy”: binding mandates, unpaid officials, impotent central representative bodies, etc. to prove that this “primitive” democracy is unsound, Bernstein refers to the experience of the British trade unions, as interpreted by the Webbs. Seventy years of development “in absolute freedom”, he says (p.137, German edition), convinced the trade unions that primitive democracy was useless, and they replaced it by ordinary democracy, i.e., parliamentarism combined with bureaucracy.
In reality, the trade unions did not develop “in absolute freedom” but in absolute capitalist slavery, under which, it goes without saying, a number of concessions to the prevailing evil, violence, falsehood, exclusion of the poor from the affairs of “higher” administration, “cannot be done without”. Under socialism much of “primitive” democracy will inevitably be revived, since, for the first time in the history of civilized society the mass of population will rise to taking an independent part, not only in voting and elections, but also in the everyday administration of the state. Under socialism all will govern in turn and will soon become accustomed to no one governing.
Marx’s critico-analytical genius saw in the practical measures of the Commune the turning-point which the opportunists fear and do not want to recognize because of their cowardice, because they do not want to break irrevocably with the bourgeoisie, and which the anarchists do not want to see, either because they are in a hurry or because they do not understand at all the conditions of great social changes. “We must not even think of destroying the old state machine; how can we do without ministries and officials>” argues the opportunist, who is completely saturated with philistinism and who, at bottom, not only does not believe in revolution, in the creative power of revolution, but lives in mortal dread of it (like our Mensheviks and Socialist-Revolutionaries).
“We must think only of destroying the old state machine; it is no use probing into the concrete lessons of earlier proletarian revolutions and analyzing what to put in the place of what has been destroyed, and how,” argues the anarchist (the best of the anarchist, of course, and not those who, following the Kropotkins and Co., trail behind the bourgeoisie). Consequently, the tactics of the anarchist become the tactics of despair instead of a ruthlessly bold revolutionary effort to solve concrete problems while taking into account the practical conditions of the mass movement.
Marx teaches us to avoid both errors; he teaches us to act with supreme boldness in destroying the entire old state machine, and at the same time he teaches us to put the question concretely: the Commune was able in the space of a few weeks to start building a new, proletarian state machine by introducing such-and-such measures to provide wider democracy and to uproot bureaucracy. Let us learn revolutionary boldness from the Communards; let us see in their practical measures the outline of really urgent and immediately possible measures, and then, following this road, we shall achieve the complete destruction of bureaucracy.
The possibility of this destruction is guaranteed by the fact that socialism will shorten the working day, will raise the people to a new life, will create such conditions for the majority of the population as will enable everybody, without exception, to perform “state functions”, and this will lead to the complete withering away of every form of state in general.
“Its object [the object of the mass strike],” Kautsky continues, “cannot be to destroy the state power; its only object can be to make the government compliant on some specific question, or to replace a government hostile to the proletariat by one willing to meet it half-way [entgegenkommende]… But never, under no circumstances can it [that is, the proletarian victory over a hostile government] lead to the destruction of the state power; it can lead only to a certain shifting [verschiebung] of the balance of forces within the state power…. The aim of our political struggle remains, as in the past, the conquest of state power by winning a majority in parliament and by raising parliament to the ranks of master of the government.” (pp.726, 727, 732)
This is nothing but the purest and most vulgar opportunism: repudiating revolution in deeds, while accepting it in words. Kautsky’s thoughts go no further than a “government… willing to meet the proletariat half-way”–a step backward to philistinism compared with 1847, when the Communist Manifesto proclaimed “the organization of the proletariat as the ruling class”.
Kautsky will have to achieve his beloved “unity” with the Scheidmanns, Plekhanovs, and Vanderveldes, all of whom agree to fight for a government “willing to meet the proletariat half-way”.
We, however, shall break with these traitors to socialism, and we shall fight for the complete destruction of the old state machine, in order that the armed proletariat itself may become the government. These are two vastly different things.
Kautsky will have to enjoy the pleasant company of the Legiens and Davids, Plekhanovs, Potresovs, Tseretelis, and Chernovs, who are quite willing to work for the “shifting of the balance of forces within the state power”, for “winning a majority in parliament”, and “raising parliament to the ranks of master of the government”. A most worthy object, which is wholly acceptable to the opportunists and which keeps everything within the bounds of the bourgeois parliamentary republic.
We, however, shall break with the opportunists; and the entire class-conscious proletariat will be with us in the fight–not to “shift the balance of forces”, but to overthrow the bourgeoisie, to destroy bourgeois parliamentarism, for a democratic republic after the type of the Commune, or a republic of Soviets of Workers’ and Soldiers’ Deputies, for the revolutionary dictatorship of the proletariat.

* * *

To the right of Kautsky in international socialism there are trends such as Socialist Monthly in Germany (Legien, David, Kolb, and many others, including the Scandinavian Stauning and Branting), Jaures’ followers and Vandervelde in France and Belgium; Turait, Treves, and other Right-wingers of the Italian Party; the Fabians and “Independents” (the Independent labor Party, which, in fact, has always been dependent on the Liberals) in Britain; and the like. All these gentry, who play a tremendous, very often a predominant role in the parliamentary work and the press of their parties, repudiate outright the dictatorship of the proletariat and pursue a policy of undisguised opportunism. In the eyes of these gentry, the “dictatorship” of the proletariat “contradicts” democracy!! There is really no essential distinction between them and the petty-bourgeois democrats.
Taking this circumstance into consideration, we are justified in drawing the conclusion that the Second International, that is, the overwhelming majority of its official representatives, has completely sunk into opportunism. The experience of the Commune has been not only ignored but distorted. far from inculcating in the workers’ minds the idea that the time is nearing when they must act to smash the old state machine, replace it by a new one, and in this way make their political rule the foundation for the socialist reorganization of society, they have actually preached to the masses the very opposite and have depicted the “conquest of power” in a way that has left thousands of loopholes for opportunism.
The distortion and hushing up of the question of the relation of the proletarian revolution to the state could not but play an immense role at a time when states, which possess a military apparatus expanded as a consequence of imperialist rivalry, have become military monsters which are exterminating millions of people in order to settle the issue as to whether Britain or Germany–this or that finance capital–is to rule the world.
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.
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    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.