1. What is Communism?

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It is impossible to answer this question in a precise way. Firstly, the ever—present pressure of bourgeois ideology makes it very difficult to describe society in the future objectively. The aim of bourgeois ideology is to make it appear that capitalism is eternal. The pressure of bourgeois ideology thus mutilates and deforms all attempts to define communism and the proletarian revolution.

Thus for many workers communism is the ‘paradise’ of state capitalism and the militarisation of labour seen in Russia, China, Cuba, and the other so—called ‘socialist’ countries. But in addition the nature of communism itself makes any detailed or accurate description impossible.

In fact, communism is for us not a STATE OF AFFAIRS which is to be established, an IDEAL to which reality will leave to adjust itself. We call communism the REAL movement which abolishes the present state of things.” (Marx; German Ideology)

       What does this mean? It means simply that communist society is not an abstract goal born of the imagination of a few ‘enlightened’ people. It cannot be seen as an abstract ideal of ‘perfection’. Contrary to the conceptions of Hegel (the early nineteenth century German philosopher from whom Marx drew his dialectical method), history is not the progressive realization of an Idea (the Idea of man, or the Idea of communism.) Communism is not a spiritual creation, a fantasy that serves as the goal of humanity. Communist society is an historical epoch: real, human and objective. It arises from the contradictions inherent in the old society and as a necessary consequence of the develop­ment of that society.

However, communism is not inevitable. Even if it is the product of real and objective conditions, of the development of economic and social contradictions within capitalism, communist society is above all the practical, collective mind conscious creation of men. For the first time in history social class can control its own destiny. But it can only do this in an organised and conscious way. This is why communism is not an intellectual ‘project’, nor a blind and mechanical away inevitability. Communism will be the result of a conscious and progressive transformation of the old world by the human community, following the violent des­truction of former social relations.

Thus, the subjective and objective conditions governing this real movement towards communism are the product of conditions existing today. Once communism becomes a possibility in an historical sense, the realization of this possibility becomes dependent upon a subjective develop­ment, on the development of consciousness at the present time. This is because, like communism, the revolution it­self must also take the form of a conscious political act, whose success will depend on the level of organisation and consciousness attained by the proletariat. It is on this basis that the human community will become a reality, and not simply an objective possibility.

This is why, while we are aware that it is impossible to paint a detailed picture of communist society, we think that it is essential to define the main aspects of the communist revolution, and the final goals that this rev­olution will aim towards.

Because the communist revolution can only be a movement that is conscious of itself, the characteristics of the new social relations established by communism themselves determine the way in which class consciousness and the mode of organisation of the proletariat develop. We shall return to these two fundamental questions in subsequent chapters.