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The platform of the ICC contains the essential acquisitions of the workers' movement concerning the conditions and content of the communist revolution. These acquisitions can be summarised as follows:

  1. All hitherto existing societies have been based on an insufficient development of the productive forces in relation to the needs of men. Because of this, with the exception of primitive communism, they have all been divided into social classes with antagonistic interests. This division has led to the appearance of an organ, the state, whose specific function has been to prevent these antagonisms from pulling society apart.
  2. Because of the progress in the development of the productive forces stimulated by capitalism, it has become both possible and necessary to transcend capitalism with a society based on the full development of the productive forces, on the abundant satisfaction of human needs: communism. Such a society will no longer be divided into social classes and because of this will have no need of a state.
  3. As in the past, between the two stable societies of capitalism and communism there will be a period of transition during which the old social relations will disappear and new ones put in their place. During this period, social classes and conflicts between them will continue to exist, and so therefore will an organ whose function is to prevent these conflicts endangering the existence of society: the state.
  4. The experience of the working class has shown that there can be no organic continuity between this state and the state in capitalist society. For the period of transition from capitalism to communism to get under way, the capitalist state has to be completely destroyed on a world scale.
  5. The world wide destruction of the political power of the bourgeoisie is by accompanied by the global seizure of power by the proletariat, the only class capable of creating communism. The dictatorship of the proletariat over society will be based on the general organisations of the class: the workers' councils. Only the working class in its entirety can exert power and under-take the communist transformation of society: in contrast to previous revolutionary classes it cannot delegate power to any particular institution or to any political party, including the workers' parties themselves.
  6. f) The full exercise of power by the proletariat presupposes:
    • the general arming of the class,
    • a categorical rejection of any subordination to outside forces,
    • the rejection of any relations of violence within the class.
  7. The dictatorship of the proletariat will carry out its role as the lever of social transformation:
    • by expropriating the old exploiting classes,
    • by progressively socialising the means of production,
    • by conducting an economic policy which aims at the abolition of wage labour and commodity production and the growing satisfaction of human needs.

The platform of the ICC, basing itself on the experience of the Russian revolution, underlines "the complexity and seriousness of the problem of the relationship between the class and the state in the period of transition". It considers that "in the coming period, the proletariat and revolutionaries cannot evade this 'problem, but 'must make every effort to resolve it." This resolution is part of that effort.

I. The specificity of the transitional period capitalism to communism

The period of transition from capitalism to communism has a certain number of features in common with previous transition periods. Thus, as in the past:

  • the period of transition from capitalism to communism does not have its own mode of production, but is an intertwining of two modes of production.
  • during this period there is a slow development of the seeds of the new mode of production to the detriment of the old one, until the new completely supplants the old.
  • the dying away of the old society does not automatically mean the maturation of the new one; it is simply the precondition for this maturation. In particular, although the decadence of capitalism expresses the fact that the productive forces can no longer expand within the framework of capitalist society, these productive forces are still insufficient for communism and therefore have to be further developed during the period of transition.

The second common feature which should be pointed out is that all periods of transition point towards the society which is going to emerge at the end. To the extent that communism is fundamentally different from all other societies, the transition to communism has a number of unprecedented characteristics:

  1. It is no longer a transition from one exploiting society to another, from one form of property to another, but leads to the end of all exploitation and of all property.
  2. It is not carried out by an exploiting class which owns the means of production, but by an exploited class which has never possessed and will never – not even collectively – possess its own economy or means of production.
  3. It does not culminate in the conquest of political power by a revolutionary class which has already established its economic rule over society; on the contrary it begins with and is conditioned by this conquest of power. The only rule that the proletariat can exert over society is of a political and not of an economic nature.
  4. The political power of the proletariat will not aim to stabilise an existing state of affairs, preserve particular privileges or maintain the existence of class divisions; on the contrary it will seek to continually overturn the existing state of affairs, to abolish all privileges and class divisions.

II. The state and its role in history

Following Engels' own terminology:

  • the state is not a power imposed on society from outside, but is a product of society at a given stage in its development;
  • it is a sign of the fact that society has entered into insoluble contradictions, is rent into an irreconcilable conflict between classes with antagonistic economic interests;
  • it has the function of moderating the conflict, of maintaining it within the limits of “order”, so that the antagonistic classes and society itself are not consumed in sterile struggles;
  • having emerged from society, it places itself above it, and constantly tends to conserve itself and become a force alien to society;
  • its role of preserving “order” identifies the state with the dominant relations of production and thus with the class which embodies these relations: the economically dominant class, which guarantees its political domination through the state.

Marxism has thus never considered the state to be the ex nihilo creation of the ruling class, but as the product, the organic secretion of the whole of society. The identification between the economically dominant class and the state is fundamentally the result of their common interest in preserving the existing relations of production. Similarly in the marxist conception, one can never consider the state as a revolutionary agent, an instrument of historical progress. For marxism:

  • the class struggle is the motor force of history;
  • whereas the function of the state is to moderate the class struggle, and in particular to the detriment of the exploited class.

The only logical conclusion which can be drawn from these premises is that in any society the state can only be a conservative institution par excellence. Thus, while the state in all class societies is an instrument which is indispensable to the productive process in that it guarantees the stability needed if production is to continue, it can only play this role because of its function as an agent of social order. In the course of history the state has operated as a conservative and reactionary factor of the first order, an obstacle which the evolution and development of the productive forces has constantly come up against.

In order to be able to assume its role as an agent of security and of conservation the state has based itself on a material force, on violence. In past societies, it has had an exclusive monopoly of all existing forces of violence: the police, the army, the prisons. Since its origin lies in the historic necessity of violence, since the conditions for its own development are to be found in its coercive functions, the state tends to become an independent and supplementary factor of violence in the interests of its own preservation. Violence is transformed from a means into an end in itself, maintained and cultivated by the state; by its very nature this violence is antithetical to any form of society which tends to go beyond violence as a way of regulating relations between human beings.

III. The state in the period of transition to communism

During the period of transition the division of society into classes with antagonistic interests will give rise to a state. This state will have the task of guaranteeing the basis of this transitional society both against any attempt to restore the power of the old exploiting classes and against any disintegration of the social fabric resulting from conflicts between the non-exploiting classes which still subsist.

The state of the period of transition has a certain number of differences from previous states:

  • for the first time in history, it is not the state of an exploiting minority for the oppression of the majority, but is on the contrary, the state of the majority of exploited and non-exploiting classes against the old ruling minority;
  • it is not the emanation of astable society and relations of production, but on the contrary, of a society whose permanent characteristic is a constant transformation on a greater scale than anything else in history;
  • it cannot identify itself with any economically dominant class because there is no such class in the period of transition;
  • in contrast to states in past societies, the transitional state does not have a monopoly of arms. For all these reasons marxists have talked about a “semi-state” when referring to the organ which will arise in the transition period.

On the other hand, this state still retains a number of the characteristics of past states. In particular, it will still be the guardian of the status quo, the task of which will be to codify, legalise and sanction an already-existing economic order, to give it a legal force which has to be acknowledged by every member of society. In this sense the state remains a fundamentally conservative organ which will tend:

  • not to favour social transformation but to act against it;
  • to maintain the conditions on which its own life depends: the division of society into classes;
  • to detach itself from society, to impose itself on society and perpetuate its own existence and its own privileges;
  • to bind its existence to the coercion and violence which it will of necessity use during the period of transition, and to try to maintain this method of regulating social relations.

This is why from the beginning, marxists have always considered the state of the period of transition to be a “necessary scourge” whose “worst sides” the proletariat will have to “lop off as much as possible”. For all these reasons, and in contrast to what has happened in the past, the revolutionary class cannot identify itself with the state in the period of transition.

To begin with, the proletariat is not an economically dominant class; either in capitalist society or the transitional society. During the transition period it will possess neither an economy nor any property, not even collectively: it will struggle for the abolition of economy and property.

Secondly, the proletariat, the communist class, the subject which transforms the economic and social conditions of the transitional society, will necessarily come up against an organ whose task is to perpetuate these conditions. This is why one cannot talk about a “socialist state”, a “workers’ state”, or a “state of the proletariat” during the period of transition.

This antagonism between the proletariat and the state manifests itself both on the immediate and the historical level.

On the immediate level, the proletariat will have to oppose the encroachments and pressure of a state which is the representative of a society divided into antagonistic classes.

On the historic level, the necessary disappearance of the state in communist society, which is a perspective which marxism has always defended, will not be the result of the state's own dynamic, but the fruit of the pressure mounted on it by the proletariat, which will progressively deprive it of all its attributes as the movement towards a classless society unfolds.

For these reasons, while the proletariat will have to use the state during the transition period, it must retain a complete independence from it. In this sense the dictatorship of the proletariat cannot be confused with the state. Between the two there is a constant relation of force which the proletariat will have to maintain in its favour; the dictator-ship of the proletariat is not exerted through or in the state, but over the state.

IV. Concrete relationships between the dictatorship of the proletariat and the state in the transition period

The experience of the Paris Commune, and of the revolution in Russia during which the state became the main agent of the counter-revolution, have shown the need for a certain number of measures which will make it possible:

  • to limit the “worst sides” of the state,
  • to guarantee the full independence of the revolutionary class,
  • for the proletariat to exert its dictatorship over the state.

a) The limitation of the most pernicious characteristics of the transitional state is effected by the fact that:

  • the state is not constituted on the basis of a specialised stratum, the political parties, but on the basis of delegates elected by local territorial councils and revocable by them;
  • the whole organisation of the state categorically excludes the participation of exploiting classes and strata, who will be deprived of all political rights;
  • the remuneration of the members of the state, the functionaries, can never be more than that of the workers.

b) The independence of the working class is expressed by:

  • its programme;
  • the existence of its class parties, which in contrast to bourgeois parties, can neither be integrated into the state, nor take on any state function without degenerating and completely losing their function in the class;
  • the self-organisation of the proletariat as a class in the workers' councils, which are distinct from all state institutions;
  • the arming of the proletariat.

This independence is defended against the state and the other classes in society:

  • by the fact that the proletariat will forbid them from intervening in its own activity and organisations;
  • by the fact that the proletariat will retain its capacity to defend its immediate interests through a number of means including strikes.

c) The dictatorship of the proletariat over the state and society as a whole is based essentially:

  • on the fact that the other classes are forbidden to organise themselves as classes;
  • on the proletariat's hegemonic participation within all the organisations upon which the state is founded;
  • on the fact that the proletariat is the only armed class.