Texts on the state in the period of transition

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Draft resolution on the state in the period of transition

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 summarized as follows:

a) 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.

b) 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.

c) 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.

d) 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 underway, the capitalist state has to be complete­ly destroyed on a world scale.

e) The world-wide destruction of the political power of the bourgeoisie is 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 organizations of the class: the workers’ councils. Only the working class in its entirety can exert power and undertake 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.

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.

g) The dictatorship of the proletariat will carry out its role as the lever of social transformation:

-- by expropriating the old exploiting classes

-- by progressively socializing 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 period of transition from 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:

a) 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.

b) 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.

c) 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.

d) The political power of the proletariat will not aim to stabilize 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 of 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 agency, 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, 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 a stable 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, legalize, 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 favourize 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 dictatorship of the proletariat is not exerted through or in the state, but over the state.

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 counter­revolution, 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 specialized stratum, the political parties, but on the basis of delegates elected by local territorial councils and revocable by them

-- the whole organization 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-organization 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 organizations

-- 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 organize themselves as classes

-- on the proletariat’s hegemonic participation within all the organizations upon which the state is founded

-- on the fact that the proletariat is , the only armed class


Proposed resolution on the period of transition, the dictatorship of the proletariat, and the tasks of the workers’ state

We must take into account the impossibility of arriving at a transitional phase with notions that are fixed, complete, which don’t allow any logical contradiction and which exclude any idea of a transition.” (Bilan)


A) The period of transition from capitalism to communism

(1) The succession of modes of production; slavery, feudalism, capitalism, did not, properly speaking, undergo periods of transition. The new relations on the base of which the progressive social form was being built was created inside the old society. The old system and the new coexisted (until the second supplanted the first) and this cohabitation was possible because between these different societies there only existed an antagonism of form; all remained in essence exploitative societies. The succession of communism from capitalism differs fundamentally from all previous societies. Communism cannot emerge within capitalism because between the two societies there is not only a difference of form but equally a difference of content. Communism is no longer a society of exploitation, and the motive force of production is no longer the satisfaction of the needs of a minority. This difference of content excludes the coexistence of one with the other and creates the necessity for a period of transition during which the new relations and the new society are developed outside capitalism.

(2) Between capitalist society and communist society there is a period of revolutionary transformation from one to the other. This transitional period is not only inevitable but also necessary to complete the immature material and spiritual condit­ions inherited by the proletariat from capitalism (an immaturity which precludes the immediate establishment of communism at the end of the revolution). This period is characterized by the fusion of two social processes, one dismantling the relations and categories belonging to the system in decline, the other building relations and categories relevant to the new system. The specificity of the epoch of transition resides in this: the proletariat which has conquered political power (by the revolut­ion) and guaranteed its domination (by its dictatorship) engages in the systematic and uninterrupted overthrow of the relations of production and the form of consciousness and organization dependent on those relations. During the intermediate period, using political and economic measures, the working class develops the productive forces left as the heritage of capitalism while under­mining the basis of the old system and laying the basis of new social relations. The proletariat will produce and distribute goods in such a way as to allow all the producers to realize the full satisfaction, the free expansion, of their needs.

B) The political regime in the period of transition

(3) For capitalism, the substitution of its privileges for feudal privileges -- the epoch of bourgeois revolutions -- was able to accommodate itself to a lasting coexistence between capitalist and feudal states and even pre-feudal states without altering or suppressing the basis of the new system. The bourgeoisie, on the basis of a gradual attainment of its economic position, did not have to destroy the state apparatus of the dominant class; it was able to gradually take it over. It did not have to suppress the bureaucracy, nor the police, nor the permanent armed forces; it simply had to subordinate these instruments of oppression to its own ends, because its political revolution (which was not always indispensable) merely concretized an economic hegemony and juridically substitut­ed one form of exploitation for another. Things are different for the proletariat, which, having no economic base and no particular interest, cannot content itself with taking over the old state apparatus. The period of transition cannot begin until after the proletarian revolution, whose essence is the global destruction of the political domination of capitalism and, primarily, of bourgeois nation states. The seizure of general political power in society by the working class, the institut­ion of the global dictatorship of the proletariat, precedes, conditions and guarantees the advance of the economic and social transformation.

(4) Communism is a society without classes, and, consequently, without a state. The period of transition, which does not really develop until after the triumph of revolut­ion at the international level, is a dynamic period which tends towards the disappearance of classes, but which still experiences the division into classes and the persistence of divergent interests and antagonisms in society. As such, there must inevitably arise a dictatorship and a form of political state. The proletariat cannot make up for the temporary insufficiency of the productive forces left over by capital­ism without resorting to constraint. In fact, the transitional epoch is characterized by the necessity to discipline and regiment the evolution of production, to expand production in such a way as to allow the establishment of a communist society. The danger of the restoration of the bourgeoisie is also a result of this insufficiency of production and of the productive forces. The dictatorship and the use made of the state are indispensable to the proletariat, which is faced with the necessity to direct the use of violence to root out the privileges of the bourgeoisie, to dominate it politically, and to organize in a new way the forces of production that are gradually being liberated from the fetters of capitalism.

C) Origins and role of the state in history

5) In all societies divided into classes, in order to prevent the classes with opposed and irreconcilable interests from destroying each other, and at the same time consuming the whole of society, there arise superstructures, institutions, whose pinnacle is the state. The state is born to maintain class conflict, within certain limits. This does not at all mean that it can manage to reconcile antagonistic inter­ests on a terrain of ‘democratic’ under­standing, nor that it can play the role of ‘mediator’ between classes. As the state arises from the need to discipline class antagonisms, but as at the same time it arises in the midst of class conflict, it is in general the state of the most powerful class, which has imposed itself politically and militarily on the historic relation of forces, and which, through the intermediary of the state, impose, its domination.

The state is the special organization of a power” (Engels), it is the centralized exercise of violence by one class against the others, and has the task of providing society with a political framework ,which conforms to the interests of the ruling class The state is the organ which maintains the cohesion of society, not by realizing a so-called ‘common good’ (which is completely non-existent), but by carrying out all the tasks involved in the rule of a given class, at various levels: economic, juridical, political, and ideological. Its own role is not only one of administration, but above all, the maintenance, by violence, of the conditions of domination of the ruling class over the dominated classes; it is to assure the extension, the development, the conservation of specific relations of production, against the dangers of restorat­ion or of destruction.

(6) Whatever the forms that society, classes, and the state may take, the role of the latter always remains fundamentally the same: the assurance of the domination of one class over the others. The state is not then “a conservative organ by nature”. It is revolutionary in certain periods, conservat­ive or counter-revolutionary in others because, far from being an autonomous factor in history, it is the instrument, the extension, the form of organization of social classes which are born, mature and disappear. The state is tightly bound to the cycle of the class and so is proved to be progressive or reactionary according to the historic relation of the class to the devel­opment of the productive forces and of society (depending on whether it favours or acts as a fetter on such development).

It is necessary to be wary of holding onto a strictly ‘instrumentalist’ vision of the state. By definition a class weapon in the immediate conflicts of society, the state is affected in turn by those same conflicts. Far from being simply the tributary of the will of the ruling class, the state apparat­us sustains the pressure of various classes and various interests. Both the economic framework and the political and military relations of force intervene to determine the actions of the state (and the possibilit­ies for its evolution). It is in this sense that the state “is never in advance of the existing state of affairs”. In fact, if in certain periods the state allows progressive classes to exercise political power in order to extend their relations of production, it is constrained -- in these same periods and in pursuit of the same aims -- to defend the new society against internal and external dangers, to bind together scattered aspects of production, of distribution, of social, cultural and ideological life; and it must do this with means which do not always and necessarily emerge from the programme of the revolutionary class, from the basic tendencies of the nascent society. “Thus, it is necessary to consider that the formula ‘the state is the organ of a class’ is not, formally speaking, a response per se to the phenomena which have determined it, the philosophers stone which lies at the bottom of all enquiry; but it does mean that the relations between class and state are determined by the function of a given class” (Bilan).

D) The need for soviets as the state power of the proletariat

(7) The state which succeeds the bourgeois state is a new form of organization of the proletariat, by virtue of which it trans­forms itself from an oppressed class into a ruling class and exercises its revolution­ary dictatorship over society. The territorial soviets (of workers, poor peasants, soldiers...) as the state power of the proletariat signify:

-- the attempt by the proletariat, as the only class which is the bearer of socialism, to struggle for the organization of all the exploited classes and strata

-- the continuation, with the help of the soviet system, of the class struggle against the bourgeoisie, which remains the most powerful class even at the beginning of the dictatorship of the proletariat, even after its expropriation and political subordination.

The proletariat still has need of a state apparatus, as much for repressing the desperate resistance of the bourgeoisie as for directing the mass of the population in the struggle against the capitalist class and for the establishment of communism. There is no need to idealize this situation: “The state is only a transitional institut­ion which will be used in the struggle, in the revolution, in order to hold down one’s adversaries by force, it is pure nonsense to talk of a free peoples’ state: so long as the proletariat still uses the state, it does not use it in the interests of freedom, but in order to hold down its adversaries.” (Engels)

(8) A product of the division of society into classes, of the irreconcilable nature of class antagonisms, the dictatorship of the proletariat is distinguished however from the power (and thus the state) of past ruling classes, by the following characteristics:

a) the proletariat does not exercise its dictatorship with a view to building a new society of oppression and exploitation. In consequence, it has no need, like old ruling classes, to hide its aims, to mystify other classes by presenting its dictatorship as the reign of “liberty, equality, and fraternity”. The proletariat resolutely affirms that its dictatorship is a class dictatorship; that the organs of its political power are the organs which serve, by their activity, the proletarian programme, to the exclusion of the programmes and interests of all other classes. It is in this sense that Marx, Engels, Lenin and the Fraction spoke -- and had to speak -- not of a state “of the majority of exploited and non-exploiting classes” (the encapsulation of the intermediate formations in the state is not synonymous with a division of power), not of a “non-class” state, or a “multi-class” state (ideological and aberrant concepts), but of a proletarian state, a state of the working class, which will be one of the indispensable forms of the dictatorship of the proletariat.

b) the domination of the majority, organized and directed by the proletariat, over the minority, dispossessed of their prerogatives, renders useless the maintenance of a bureaucratic and military machine; the proletariat puts in its place both its self-arming -- to smash all bourgeois resistance -- and a political form which allows it (and eventually the whole of humanity) to progressively take over the management of society. It suppresses the privileges inherent in the functioning of the old states (leveling of salaries, rigorous control of functionaries through election and permanent revocability) and also the separation, enforced by parliament­arism, between legislative and executive organs. From its formation, the state of the dictatorship of the proletariat ceases to be a state in the old sense of the term.

For the bourgeois state is substituted the Soviets, a semi-state, a Commune-state; the organization of the rule of the old class is replaced by institutions essentially different in principle.

E) Withering away or strengthening of the state

(9) Considering what we have said about the conditions and historic surroundings in which the proletarian state is born, it is evident that its disappearance cannot be conceived of except as a sign of the development of the world revolution, and more profoundly, the economic and social transformation. In unfavourable conditions for struggle (on the political, economic and military level) the workers’ state can find itself constrained to strengthen itself, both to prevent the disintegration of society, and to carry out the tasks of the defence of a proletarian dictatorship erected in one or several countries. This obligation reacts in turn on its own nature: the state acquires a contradictory character. Whilst being the instrument of a class, it is at the same time forced to organize distribution and social, responsib­ilities according to norms which are not always and necessarily relevant, to an immediate tendency towards communism. In coherence with the conception developed by Lenin, Trotsky and above all Bilan we must then admit -- beyond metaphysical preoccupat­ions -- that the workers’ state, although assuring the domination of the proletariat over the bourgeoisie, always expresses it’s temporary powerlessness to suppress bourgeois right. This continues to exist, not only in the economic and social process, but in the heads of millions of proletarians, billions of individuals. Even after the political victory of the proletariat, the state continually threatens to give rise to social stratifications which more and more stand against the liberating mission of the working class. Also, in certain periods, “if the state, instead of wither­ing away, becomes more and more despotic, if the mandates of the working class bureaucratize themselves, while the bureaucracy erects itself over society, this is not only for secondary reasons, such as ideological survivals of the past, etc; it is by virtue of the inflexible necessity to form and maintain a privileged minority, as long as it is not possible to assure real equality” (Trotsky). Until the disapp­earance of the state, until its re-absorption in a society that administers itself, the state continues to have this negative aspect; a necessary instrument of historic evolution, it constantly threatens to direct this evolution not to the advantage of the producers, but against them and towards their massacre.

F) The proletariat and the state

10) The specific physiognomy of the workers’ state devolves as follows:

-- on the one hand, as a weapon directed against the expropriated class, it reveals its ‘strong’ side

-- on the other hand, as an organism called forth not to consolidate a new system of exploitation but to abolish all exploitation, it uncovers its ‘weak’ side (because, in unfavourable conditions, it tends to become the pole of attraction for capitalist privileges). That’s why, whilst there cannot be antagonisms between the bourgeoisie and the bourgeois state, they can arise between the proletariat and the transitional state. With the foundation of the proletarian state, the historic relation­ship between the ruling class and the state finds itself modified. It is necessary to consider that:

a) the conquering of the dictatorship of the proletariat, the existence of the workers’ state, are conditions which are advantageous to the world proletariat, but not an irrevocable guarantee against any tendency to degeneration;

b) if the state is proletarian, this in no way means that there could be no need or possibility for the proletariat to enter into conflict with it, or that no opposition to state policies can be tolerated;

c) contrary to past states, the proletar­ian state cannot synthesize, concentrate in its apparatus, all the aspects of the dictatorship. The workers’ state is profoundly different from the unitary organ of the class and the organ which regroups the vanguard of the proletariat. This differentiation operates because the state, in spite of the appearance of its greater material power, has, from the political point of view, less possibility of action. It is many times more vulnerable to the enemy than the other workers’ organs. The proletariat can only compensate for this weakness by its class politics, its party and the workers’ councils through which it exercises an indispensable control over the state’s activities, develops its class consciousness, and ensures the defence of its interests. The active presence of these organisms is the condition for the state to remain proletarian. The foundation of the dictatorship resides not only in the fact that no interdiction can limit the activities of the workers’ councils and the party (proscription of violence within the class, permanent right to strike, autonomy of the councils and the party, freedom of tendencies in these organs), but also that these organs must have the means to resist an eventual metamorphosis of the state, should the latter tend not towards its disappearance, but towards the triumph of its despotic tendencies.

G) On the dictatorship and the tasks of the workers’ state

(11) The role and aim of capitalism determines the role and aim of its different state forms: to maintain oppression for the profit of the bourgeoisie. As for the proletariat, it is again the role and aim of the working class which will determine the role and aim of the proletarian state. But in this case, the policy of the state is no longer an indifferent element in determin­ing its role (as was the case for the bourgeois and all proceeding classes) but an element of the highest importance, on which will depend its basic function in the world revolution, and by definition, the conserva­tion of its proletarian character.

(12) A proletarian policy will direct economic policy towards communism only if that development is given an orientation diametrically opposed to that of capitalism, only if it aims for a progressive, constant raising of the living conditions of the masses. To the degree that the political situation allows, the proletariat must press for a constant reduction in unpaid labour, which, in consequence, will inevitably lead to the rhythm of accumulat­ion becoming considerably slower than that of the capitalist economy. Any other policy will necessarily lead to the transformation of the proletarian state into a new bourgeois state, following the pattern of events in Russia.

(13) In any case, accumulation cannot be based on the necessity to combat the econom­ic and military power of the capitalist states. The global revolution can only come out of the ability of the proletariat of all countries to fulfill its mission, out of the world-wide maturation of the political conditions for the insurrection. The working class cannot borrow from the bourgeoisie its vision of a “revolutionary war”. In the period of civil war the struggle will not be between proletarian states and capitalist states, but between the world proletariat and the international bourgeoisie. In the activity of the proletarian state, the economic and military spheres are necessarily secondary.

(14) The transitional state is essentially an instrument for political domination and cannot be a substitute for the international class struggle. The workers’ state must be considered a tool of the revolution, and never as a pole of concentration for it. If the proletariat follows the latter course, it will be forced to make compromises with its class enemies, whereas revolutionary necessity imperatively demands a ruthless struggle against all anti-proletarian groupings, even at the risk of aggravating the economic disorganization resulting from the revolution. Any other perspective, which takes as its point of departure so-called ‘realism’, or an apparent ‘law of unequal development’, can only undermine the foundations of the proletarian state, and lead to its transformation into a bourgeois state under the false guise of ‘socialism in one country’.

(15) The dictatorship of the proletariat must ensure that the forms and procedures for control by the masses are many and varied, so as to prevent any shadow of degeneration and deformation of soviet power. It must have the aim of continuously weeding out “the tares of bureaucracy” an evil excrescence which will inevitably accompany the period of transition. The safeguard of the revolution is the conscious activity of the working masses. The true political task of the proletariat lies in raising its own class consciousness, just as it transforms the consciousness of the whole of the labouring population. Compared to this task, the exercise of constraint through the policy and administrative organs of the workers’ state is secondary (and the proletariat must take care to limit its most pernicious effects). The proletariat must not lose sight of this: that “so long as (it) still uses the state, it does not use it in the interests of freedom, but in order to hold down its adversaries.”

S, RC, Ry, M, P, JL, RJ, AF.


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