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The Marxist Teaching on the State and the Tasks of the Proletariat in the Revolution


The question of the state is now acquiring particular importance both in theory and in practical politics. The imperialist war has immensely accelerated and intensified the process of transformation of monopoly capitalism into state-monopoly capitalism. The monstrous oppression of the toiling masses by the state, which is merging more and more with the all-powerful capitalist associations, is becoming ever more monstrous. The advanced countries are being converted -- we speak here of their "rear" -- into military convict prisons for the workers.

The unprecedented horrors and miseries of the protracted war are making the position of the masses unbearable and increasing their indignation. The international proletarian revolution is clearly maturing. The question of its relation to the state is acquiring practical importance.

The elements of opportunism that accumulated during the decades of comparatively peaceful development have given rise to the trend of social-chauvinism which dominates the official socialist parties throughout the world. This trend -- Socialism in words and chauvinism in deeds (Plekhanov, Potresov, Breshkovskaya, Rubanovich, and, in a slightly veiled form, Messrs. Tsereteli, Chernov and Co., in Russia; Scheidemann, Legien, David and others in Germany; Renaudel, Guesde and Vandervelde in France and Belgium; Hyndman and the Fabians in England, etc., etc.) -- is distinguished by the base, servile adaptation of the "leaders of socialism" to the interests not only of "their" national bourgeoisie, but precisely of "their" state --for the majority of the so-called Great Powers have long been exploiting and enslaving a whole number of small and weak nationalities. And the imperialist war is precisely a war for the division and redivision of this kind of booty. The struggle for the emancipation of the toiling masses from the influence of the bourgeoisie in general, and of the imperialist bourgeoisie in particular, is impossible without a struggle against opportunist prejudices concerning the "state."

First of all we examine the teachings of Marx and Engels on the state and dwell in particular detail on those aspects of this teaching which have been forgotten or have been subjected to opportunist distortion. Then we deal specially with the one who is chiefly responsible for these distortions, Karl Kautsky, the best-known leader of the Second International (1889-1914), which has met with such miserable bankruptcy in the present war. Finally, we shall sum up the main results of the experiences of the Russian revolutions of 1905 and particularly of 1917. Apparently, the latter is now (the beginning of August 1917) completing the first stage of its development; but this revolution as a whole can only be understood as a link in a chain of socialist proletarian revolutions being called forth by the imperialist war. Hence, the question of the relation of the socialist proletarian revolution to the state acquires not only practical political importance but also the importance of a most urgent problem of the day, the problem of explaining to the masses what they will have to do in the very near future to free themselves from themselves from the yoke of capitalism.

The Author 

August 1917

The State as the Product of the Irreconcilability of Class Antagonisms
Special Bodies of Armed Men, Prisons, etc.
The State as an Instrument for the Exploitation of the Oppressed Class
The "Withering Away" of the State and Violent Revolution

The Eve of the Revolution
The Revolution Summed Up
The Presentation of the Question by Marx in 1852

Wherein Lay the Heroism of the Communards' Attempt?
With What Is the Smashed State Machine to Be Replaced 
Abolition of Parliamentarism
Organization of the Unity of the Nation
Abolition of the Parasite State

Chapter IV
The Housing Question
Controversy with the Anarchists
Letter to Bebel
Criticisms of the Draft of the Erfurt Program
The 1891 Preface to the Civil War in France
Engels on the Overcoming of Democracy

Chapter V
Presentation of the Question by Marx
The Transition from Capitalism to Communism
The First Phase of Communist Society
The Highest Phase of Communist society

Plekhonov's Controversy with the Anarchists
Kautsky's Controversy with the Opportunists
Kautsky's Controversy with Pannekoek

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