Every social revolution is the act through which the class bearing with it new relations of production establishes its political domination over society. The proletarian revolution does not escape this definition but its conditions and its content differ fundamentally from past revolutions.
These previous revolutions, because they were hinged between two modes of production based on scarcity, merely substituted the domination of one exploiting class for that of another exploiting class. This fact was expressed by the replacement of one form of property by another form of property, one type of privilege by another type of privilege. In contrast to this the goal of the proletarian revolution is to replace relations of production based on scarcity with relations of production based on abundance. This is why it signifies the end of all forms of property, privilege and exploitation. These differences confer on the proletarian revolution the following characteristics, which the proletariat must understand if its revolution is to be successful:
a. It is the first revolution to have a world-wide character; it cannot achieve its aims without generalising itself to all countries. This is because in order to abolish private property, the proletariat must abolish all its sectional, regional and national expressions. The generalisation of capitalist domination across the whole world has made this both necessary and possible.
b. For the first time in history, the revolutionary class is at the same time the exploited class in the old system and, because of this, it cannot draw upon any economic power in the process of conquering political power. Exactly the opposite is the case: in direct contrast to what happened in past revolutions, the seizure of political power by the proletariat necessarily precedes the period of transition during which the domination of the old relations of production is destroyed and gives way to new social relations.
c. The fact that, for the first time, a class in society is at the same time an exploited and a revolutionary class also implies that its struggle as an exploited class can at no point be separated from or opposed to its struggle as a revolutionary class. As marxism has from the beginning asserted against Proudhonism and other petty-bourgeois theories, the development of the revolutionary struggle of the proletariat is conditioned by the deepening and generalisation of its struggle as an exploited class.