January 5, 2018

Readings İn Leninism - 3 - The Dictatorship of the Proletariat



1. The Essence of the State as a Dictatorship Set Up by One Class Over the Other 

A. The State as the Product of the Irreconcilability of the Class Contradictions 

What is now happening to Marx's doctrine has, in the course of history, often happened to the doctrines of other revolu-tionary thinkers and leaders of oppressed classes struggling for emancipation. During the lifetime of great revolutionaries, the oppressing classes relentlessly persecute them and meet their teachings with the most savage hostility, the most furious hatred and the most ruthless campaign of lies and slanders. After their death, attempts are made to convert them into harmless icons, to canonize them, so to say, and to surround their names with a certain halo for the "consolation" of the oppressed classes and with the object of duping them. At the same time the content of their revolutionary doctrine is emas-culated and vulgarized and its revolutionary edge is blunted. At the present time, the bourgeoisie and the opportunists in the labor movement are cooperating in this work of "revising" Marxism. They omit, obliterate, and distort the revolutionary side of its doctrine, its revolutionary soul. They push to the foreground and extol what is, or seems, acceptable to the bourgeoisie. All the social-chauvinists are now "Marxists" (don't laugh!). And more and more frequently, German bour-geois professors, erstwhile specialists in the extermination of Marxism, are speaking of the "national-German" Marx, who, they aver, trained the labor unions which are so splendidly organized for the purpose of conducting a predatory war! 

In such circumstances, in view of the incredibly widespread nature of the distortions of Marxism, our first task is to rest re the true doctrine of Marx on the state. For this purpose it will be necessary to quote at length from the works of Marx and Engels. Of course, long quotations will make the ext cumbersome and will not help to make it popular reading, but we cannot possibly avoid them. All, or at any rate, all the most essential passages in the works of Marx and Engels on the subject of the state must necessarily be given as fully as possible, in order that the reader may form an independent opinion on all the views of the foun5f ers of scientific Socialism and on the development of those views, and in order that their distortion by the now prevailing "Kautskyism" may be docu-mentarily proved and clearly demonstrated. 

Let us begin with the most popular of Engels' works, Der Ursprung der Familie, das Privateigentums und des Staats,* the sixth edition of which was published in Stuttgart as far back as 1894.

Summing up his historical analysis, Engels says: 

The state is therefore by no means a power imposed on society from the outside; just as little is it "the reality of the moral "the image and reality of reason," as Hegel asserts. Rather, it is a product of at a certain stage of development;. it is the admission that this society has become entangled an insoluble contradiction with itself, that it is cleft into irreconcilable antagonisms,. which it is powerless to dispel. But in order that these antagonisms, classes with conflicting economic interests, might not consume the_m-:,' selves and society in sterile struggle, a power apparently sanding above society became necessary, for the purpose of moder tmg the conflict and keeping it within the bounds of "order"; and _this power, arising out of society, but placing itself above it, and increasingly alienating itself from it, is the state. 

This fully expresses the basic idea of Marxism on the question of the historical role and meaning of the state. The state is the product and the manifestation of the irreconcilability of class antagonisms. 

The state arises when, where, and to the extent that the class antagonisms cannot be objectively recon-ciled. And, conversely, the existence of the state proves that the class antagonisms are irreconcilable. 

It is precisely on this most important and fundamental point that distortions of Marxism, proceeding along two main lines, begin. 

On the one hand, the bourgeois ideologists, and particularly the petty-bourgeois ideologists, compelled by the pressure of indisputable historical facts to admit that the state only exists where there are class antagonisms and the class struggle, "correct" Marx in a way that makes it appear that the state is an organ for the conciliation of classes. According to Marx, the state could neither arise nor continue to exist if it were possible to conciliate classes. According to the petty-bourgeois and philistine professors and publicists-frequently on the strength of benevolent references to Marx!-the state con-ciliates classes. According to Marx, the state is an organ -0f class rule, an organ for the oppression of one class by another; it creates "order" which legalizes and perpetuates this op-pression by moderating the collisions between the classes. In the opinion of the petty-bourgeois politicians, order means the conciliation of classes, and not the oppression of one class by another; to moderate collisions means to conciliate and not deprive the oppressed classes of definite means and methods of fighting to overthrow the oppressors. 

For instance, when, in the Revolution of 1917, the question of the real meaning and role of the state arose in all its grandeur, as a practical question demanding immediate action on a wide mass scale, all the Socialist-Revolutionaries and Mensheviks immediately and completely sank to the petty-bourgeois theory that the "state" "conciliates" classes. In-numerable resolutions and articles by politicians of both these parties are thoroughly saturated with this purely petty-bourgeois and philistine ''conciliation'' theory. Petty-bourgeois democracy is never able to understand that the state is the organ of the rule of a definite class which cannot be reconciled with its antipode (the class opposed to it). Their attitude towards the state is one of the most striking proofs that our Socialist-Revolutionaries and Mensheviks are not Socialists at all (which we Bolsheviks have always maintained), but petty-bourgeois democrats with near-Socialist phraseology. 

On the other hand, the "Kautskyan" distortion of Marx is far more subtle. "Theoretically," it is not denied that the state is the organ of class rule, or that class antagonisms are irreconcilable. But what is forgotten or glossed over is this: If the state is the product of irreconcilable class antagonisms, if it is a power standing above society and "increasingly alienating itself from it," it is clear that the liberation of the oppressed class is impossible, not only without a violent revolu-tion, but also without the destruction of the apparatus of state power which was created by the ruling class and which is the embodiment of this "alienation." As we shall see later, Marx very definitely drew this theoretically self-evident conclusion from a concrete historical analysis of the tasks of the revolu-tion. And-as we shall show fully in our subsequent remarks-it is precisely this conclusion which Kautsky has ,:forgotten" and distorted. 

B The Military Bureaucratic Apparatus of the Bourgeois