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1) Early in the succession of the various modes and forms of social production after the dissolution of the simple and crude communism of primitive times, the state appeared at a certain moment, determined by the economic development within a given territory. The state supplanted the consanguineous gens. Its existence was necessary both because of the growth (though still very slight) of social wealth and because production remained incapable of satisfying the expanding needs of the collectivity. In this respect, it was a response to the need to organise a society which was divided into classes, and its very existence proves that these social contradictions had become irreconcilable. From its inception, the state was accompanied by the creation of a body of specialists, an armed gang to protect and ensure the perpetuation of the privileges of the class which had appropriated for itself the mastery of the means of production, and maintain control over unequal distribution.
2) If the role of the state can temporarily, and in an exceptional way, prevent society from tearing itself apart in sterile struggles, this does not in the least mean that it has succeeded in reconciling the antagonisms which are at work within society on the terrain of “democratic” harmony, nor that it has ceased to maintain public order for the benefit of the ruling class. The state is a coercive force of the highest order, a military and administrative apparatus distinct from the rest of society. Rather than excluding social collision, it always further embitters social contrasts, particularly in periods marked by the decadence of the ruling class. It is not, and can never become, the expression of the collective interest; it stands as the instrument of class oppression. In general, the state is the strength and concentrated power of that class which has imposed itself politically and militarily on society.
3) Thus the social status quo depends on, and reflects, the subjection of all other social formations which are being kept in check. But this status quo cannot be stable within a society continually rent by antagonisms and class struggle. In a society based on the antagonism between the productive forces and the relations of production, there is no consistent status quo, but a succession of crises and social convulsions. Other classes and strata dispute for the exclusive claim to political power, in defence of their interests. The stake in this struggle is control of the state apparatus, and thus the state can become an active agent of civil war. Far from serving as a shock absorber in this headlong collision of classes, the state perfectly fulfils its function as a cudgel in the hands of the ruling class. It is well and truly the organ of one class because it concretises and symbolises the preservation of the latter's interests.
4) Although the bourgeoisie made enormous progress through a slow and gradual penetration of the state of the Ancien Régime (on the basis of the irresistible growth of commercial capitalism within the feudal framework), the proletariat cannot make use of the institutions and the organisms of the state issuing out of the liberal democratic revolutions in order to bring about new relations of production. Because it does not possess any economic base, the working class whose life and death depends on the sale of its labour power, and whose life is enslaved by the whole bourgeois class, cannot struggle against its class enemy simply by seizing control of the governmental apparatus, and by making it subservient to its own interests. The interests of the working class are the suppression of all property. Whatever the particular form taken by the state for governing men, it must be dismantled by the first class in history which is, at one and the same time, an exploited class and a revolutionary class. Society's progress towards a world human community depends on the proletariat.
5) Although it is the only class in history that does not limit its struggle to the restricted objective of political power, but that takes on the enormous task of liberating humanity by establishing new relations of production, the proletariat needs a state. In its struggle against the bourgeoisie, the proletariat constitutes a ruling class for which the use of a state apparatus remains an indispensable tool. Just as exploiting classes made use of the state to impose and maintain their rule of violence, in its turn the proletariat uses and inherits a superstructure to weed out the remains of exploitation and break the final fetters on the development of the productive forces. If it were possible to overcome immediately the division of society into classes, and pass from capitalism to communism in one leap at the moment of the political overthrow of the bourgeoisie, then marxists would never have introduced the concept of the "semi-state" in speaking of the Commune and of October.
6) The overthrow of the exploiting class is only the first act of the proletarian revolution. Before achieving communism, society must pass through a period of transition in which class divisions will still persist because of the immaturity of the conditions for a socialist society. In these conditions, a state will arise which is nothing other than the organisation of one class. Any ruling class which has just been overthrown is not completely annihilated. It continues to exist as a force and thus constitutes a veritable sword of Damocles threatening the progress of the revolution. Far from laying down its arms at the foot of the conquerer for all eternity, the defeated ruling class strives desperately to organise a front for military struggle in order to re-establish its former domination over society. What was valid for the bourgeoisie will be valid for the proletariat. The bourgeoisie had to break the back of the coalition of decaying classes and strata that brewed its plots in the Vendée.

7) In its turn the proletariat will use an instrument of restraint without which it can't repulse the attacks, and disperse the forces, of the counter-revolution. It must smash the furious resistance put up by the bourgeoisie against its own expropriation. The greater and more desperate its resistance, the more in-flexible the proletarian dictatorship will have to become. In extreme circumstances, it will even be forced to unleash the Red Terror as history has already shown us in all revolutions from the Commune to October. In a time of civil war, it is understandable that he who doesn't wish to be annihilated will try to annihilate his adversary. The aim isn't to destroy human life, but to preserve the life of those in one's own camp.

8) The dictatorship of the proletariat, otherwise called the semi-state of the proletariat, succeeds the old state which has been dismantled. The marxist definition of the state as "the central organ of that class which dominates all other classes" is as true today as it ever was in relation to the proletariat. It is in no way contradicted by the experience of October, or by Nazism, or fascism. This Commune-state is not communism, but the dictatorship of a class that is not yet working under conditions of freedom, nor in conditions of its own choosing. This dictatorship relies on the arming of the proletariat, and not on any institution produced by democratic consultation among the whole of the population. The proletarian revolution has substituted a system of soviets for a decrepit parliamentarism; the proletarians have expelled at bayonet point the learned assemblies constituted through democratic means. Bourgeois legality has been pulverised under the weight of the proletariat.

9) It is impossible to say that the new form of government in the period of the dictatorship will have no class nature, otherwise one is class reiterating a senseless, sterile, non-marxist formula. In no way does this idea heighten the understanding of the programmatic means for victory, because it casts aside an entire historic view – the understanding of she state and the dictatorship of one class as synonymous – and substitutes a pure abstraction for it. In this revision, the state lives a life of its own, autonomous, unbelievably detached from the specific characteristics of ruling class. During the violent overthrow of the bourgeoisie, the domination of the proletariat expresses itself through a semi-state, a Commune-state. Most certainly the semi-state does not symbolise socialism, a society without classes and without a state, since it is still an instrument for repressing men. It is only a transitional step on the path towards socialism, the expression of the will of the proletarian struggle.

10) In this sense, the necessity for a "semi-state" does not negate the communist character of the proletariat, just as the establishment of the proletariat as the ruling class is not synonymous with the emergence of a new exploiting class. In opposition to the anarchist, who is deprived of any dialectical conception, and for whom the state is on principle a "depravity", the revolutionary is forced to admit its necessity for the proletariat, and to address the question maturely. If he does not, he will make the same mistake as the libertarians and flounder on the question of power. The destruction of the bourgeois state removes a decisive obstacle blocking the establishment of new relations of production. But since socialism cannot be realised without revolution, ie without the use of violence, there must be a state of the revolutionary class to open the way for socialism, destroying by conscious political activity the previous conditions of exploitation.

11) The bourgeoisie was a class which was only partly held in check by Absolutism; its revolution consisted in breaking down its isolation from political power. so that its most eminent representatives could be raised to the privileged sphere of government, and thereby set the seal on its decisive economic power. But the proletariat in its revolution does not organise a dominant party within society at the expense of the whole of that society. The proletariat, because of its subjection, possesses a universal character. Hence it doesn't make any claim to its own rights, since it doesn't have any as an exploited class. What makes the proletarian revolution a political revolution with a social core, is the nature of its prime mover, the proletariat. The proletariat sheds the political skin of its movement when it begins its constructive activity. For the first time in history a political revolution precedes and creates the conditions for a social transformation. The secret of the extinction of the state lies in the realisation of the political, economic and social measures which weld together the necessary and indispensable conditions for withering away of the state: the growth and expansion of the production of social wealth. In liberating itself, the proletariat liberates the whole of humanity. The emancipation of the proletariat is the emancipation of humanity. The revolution cannot be realised without the suppression of the proletariat: the proletariat cannot be negated without the realisation of communism.

12)The form and political representation of the state of the proletariat will be based on the unitary organs arising in the pre-insurrectionary period. The proletariat must keep its dictatorship in its own hands. To do this, the revolution must spread to other geographical areas. Instead of constituting a separate apparatus equipped with a body of permanent functionaries, the proletariat will fuse into one, legislative and executive power. While under formal democracy, an abstraction is made of the dichotomy between real society and legal society, where every man leads a double life, one as a member of real society and the other as a citizen of the state, the semi-state moulds the whole of society into one unity. The greater, more direct and effective participation of the vast majority of workers at all levels in the administration of the Commune-state marks a decisive moment in the process of the disappearance of the state. The soviets, an expression of the necessity for government, prepare society to go beyond the state.
13) To claim that at all times the state has constituted a force which, if not reactionary has been at least conservative, is to take up an anarchist view of history. A fundamental principle of marxism is the rejection of economic determinism which denies the role of superstructures in history. In the face of these currents of "pure economic struggles", the achievement of marxism consists, and consisted, in showing the effect of superstructures on the revolutionising of the economic base. Marx, who recognised the progressive character of feudalism in relation to slave society, shed light on the role of the Absolutist Monarchy of the 18th century. He noted its role in undermining the parasitic strata and its activity in developing manufacture and foreign commerce. The royal power pre-pared the material conditions for the bourgeois revolution, just as the bourgeoisie has created the pre-conditions for the construction of communism by stripping away the individualist character of social production. In Engels' opinion the existence of many nation states firmly established in given geographical areas, and the impulsion this gave to profits and the extension of the market, was an enormous step forward in the evolution of humanity. The great technological discoveries and the economic advancement they provoked, further served both to develop capital and to smooth the way for human progress.

14) With the aid of universal suffrage, the bourgeoisie spread the ideological fiction of the egalitarian principle of the participation of all classes (“the people”) in the development of the state. Thus it managed to hide the true nature of the state in the eyes of the exploited classes while at the same time crushing the first autonomous movements of the working class. In contrast, the proletariat will loudly proclaim the class purpose of the new state. This state will not be a parliamentary arena which will allow the political activity of every party to take place "in complete freedom". It will not sanction a compromise between them. It will be the expression of a relation of force and will openly proclaim itself to be so. No class other than the proletariat will be allowed to carry arms composed; no council of strata not living by their own work will be tolerated. Chronologically in history, the formation of the class preceded that of the state, rights follow and concretise fact. The lawful edicts of the semi-state will place all the exploiting strata outside the law and they will be considered hostages of war. In order to vanquish the counter-revolution, we may have to consider means of conciliation with the peasant strata to ensure they bear the burden of the civil war. But this is in no way a division of power. The role of the semi-state in relation to them consists in mobilising all the exploited in the general work of implementing communism. It will not use and exercise violence blindly, but in the case of resistance on their part, the proletariat must strive to develop in them a consciousness of the need for socialism.

While directing the vast mass of the non-proletarian working population into the sector of socialised production, the dictatorship must remain vigilant, and guard against every possible vacillation.

15) If violence must be used energetically against the bourgeoisie, and with a certain caution and circumspection against the intermediate strata, it must be strictly excluded from the relations within the life of the revolutionary class, the proletariat. Within the class that defends and embodies the revolution, no recourse to coercive means can be tolerated at any time. No halt can be allowed in the life of the political bodies which are concerned with, and are orientating themselves towards, the programme of the communist revolution. Faced with a possible outbreak of conflict arising between the proletariat and the state, the role of communists must be to raise the whole of the working class to the level of the communist vanguard. The banner of the revolution will be indelibly defiled if the state of the dictatorship ever uses violence against the proletariat. As soon as the problem of the use of violence is posed in these terms, the problem of the degeneration of the revolution is posed. To avoid the recurrence of the tragedy of Kronstadt, the only guarantee of victory is the triumph of the proletariat on a world scale.

16) A state with a transitional character like that of the dictatorship of the proletariat, which is destined to wither away, cannot confine itself to a collection of stable rules in an unchangeable constitution. Given that the revolution cannot be subsumed into a simple formal question, it follows that the counter-revolution cannot derive from, or find its origins in, the Bolshevik conception of the state. Contrary to the belief of the anarchists, the state has no “inherent” nature. Nor does it represent a “neutral” organ above classes and independent of their struggles, as the reformists and revisionists of the IIIrd International believed. Once again, it is the organism and the extension of the class. No good will come from avoiding the question.. the dictatorship of the proletariat constitutes a state. But, like the Commune, and the October revolution, it is the state of the vast majority against an infinitesimal minority of exploiters, who are deprived of all rights. For the first time the working class governs itself; for the first time there is no enforced participation in social life, but a conscious and voluntary cohesion.

17) It would be too simplistic to impute the degeneration of the revolution to the proletarian state. From its foundation, the workers' state depends closely on the struggle of the world proletariat. The question of building socialism is not posed for it in terms of the triumph of this or that Five Year Plan, nor through the conquest of a place in the imperialist arena through the sweat of the proletariat. In order for a counter-revolutionary state to arise – for the state of October to be transformed into a state typical of the period of decadence and state capitalism, into a war machine directed against the class – a whole counter-revolutionary process had to take place on an international level. The rift between the international revolutionary movement and the tasks specific to Russia, which the Soviet state set out to accomplish, arose from the defeat of 1923. The bloody defeats played out on a gigantic stage from Germany to China gave birth to Stalinism. Stalinism necessarily took hold, not only of the state, but more especially of the Party and the International. The entire counter-revolution is symbolised by the exclusion of the Left Fractions, and the banishment of Lenin's comrades; it was marked by the introduction of the fraudulent concept of "socialism in one country".
18) it is necessary to consider this commune-state as one of the instruments of the world struggle of the proletariat subordinated to the sole and unique direction of the International. In as much as its role and aims do not enter into contradiction with those of the proletariat--the annihilation of international capitalism – it represents a basic force for the struggle of the exploited.

If the revolution does not break out, or does not advance into other countries, the International, as much as the workers' state, will be engulfed in a rapid flood of degeneration. As the International represents the highest crystallisation, the most perfect elaboration of consciousness, so the workers' state is the "finally discovered form" within which, and through which, the proletarians will assemble and work to generalise their class interests, which are those of the whole of humanity.

Between the communist international and the workers, state, there is no essential antagonistic relationship. The workers' state is the result of the victory of the movement at the level of a given country, but it is also the realisation of the entire international proletariat – the first episode in the tumultuous progress of the world revolution across the stage of history. By the same token, it is the surpassing of the national limitations imposed on the proletariat by the division of the world into nations, blocs and continents.

As a consequence of the counter-revolution, after the victory of Stalinism and the total change in political orientation arising from the fatal theory of socialism in one country, there was a schism, a separation of the relations linking the workers' state to the Communist International. This constituted a barrier to the International's absolute and autonomous control of the state.

A true representation of the vanguard, the true enrichment of the ideological heritage of the workers' movement, demands and depends on the full and total preservation of these two fundamental acquisitions: the world party and the workers' state.

R.C. Révolution Internationale France, May 1977