How is the communist order to he instituted? How is it to he attained? To this the Communist Party gives the following answer: Through the dictatorship of the proletariat.
Dictatorship means a power of iron, a power that shows no mercy to its foes. The dictatorship of the working class means the governing power of the working class, which is to stifle the bourgeoisie and the landowners. Such a government of the workers can only arise out of a Socialist revolution of the working class, which destroys the bourgeois State and bourgeois power, and builds up a new State on its ruins – that of the proletariat itself and of the poorest elements supporting it.
This, in fact, is the reason why we stand for a workers’ State, whilst the anarchists are against it. That means to say that we, communists, want ’a workers’ government which we must have provisionally, until the working class has completely defeated its opponents, thoroughly drilled the whole of the bourgeoisie, knocked the conceit out of it. and deprived it of the last shred of hope ever to rise again to power.
And so you, communists, are for force, we may be asked. Certainly, we shall reply. But we, are for revolutionary force. First of all we think that by mere gentle persuasion the working class will never attain anything at all. The road of compromise, as preached by the mensheviks and the socialist revolutionaries, will lead nowhere. The working class will achieve liberty in no other way except through a revolution, that is to say, through the overthrow of the power of capitalism, through the destruction of the bourgeois State. But every revolution is a form of violence against former rulers. The March revolution in Russia was force against the oppressors, landlords and the Czar. The October revolution was force of the workers, peasants and soldiers, against the bourgeoisie. And such force against those who have oppressed millions of the toiling masses is not wrong – it is sacred.
But the working class is compelled to use force against the bourgeoisie even after the bourgeoisie has been overthrown in an open revolutionary right. For, as a matter of fact, even after the working class has destroyed the government of the bourgeoisie, the bourgeoisie does not cease to exist as a class. It does not vanish altogether. It continues to hope for a return to the old order, and is therefore ready to form an alliance with anyone, except the victorious working class.
The experience of the Russian revolution of 1917 fully confirms this. In October the working class excluded the bourgeoisie from the government. But, nevertheless, the bourgeoisie was not completely crushed: it acted against the workers, by mobilising all its forces to crush the proletariat again, and to achieve “its own ends by hook or by crook. It organised sabotage; that is, counter-revolutionary officials, clerks, and civil servants who did not wish to be subjected to workmen and peasants, abandoned their posts en masse. It organised the armed forces of Dutoff, Kaledin, Korniloff; it is at present, whilst we are writing these lines, organising the bands of Esaul Semionoff for a campaign against the Serbian Soviets; and lastly it is calling to its aid the troops of the foreign bourgeoisie, German, Japanese, British, etc. Thus the experience of the Russian October revolution teaches us that the working class, even after its victory, is compelled to have to deal with the mightiest of external foes (the plundering capitalistic States) who are on their way to aid the overthrown bourgeoisie of Russia.
If we seriously consider the whole world at the present time, we shall see that it is only in Russia that the proletariat has succeeded in overthrowing the power of the bourgeois State. The remainder of the world still belongs to the capital robbers. Soviet Russia, with its worker and peasant government, is a small island in the midst of a tempestuous capitalist ocean. And oven if the victory of tin- Russian workers is to be followed by a victory of the workers of Austria and Germany, there will still be left big vulture-like capitalist States. If all capitalistic Europe breaks up and falls under the blows of the working class there will still be left the capitalistic world of Asia, with Japan like a beast of prey at its head. Then we have the capital of America, at the head of which stands the monstrous plundering union called the United States of America. All these capitalist States will not give up their position without a fight. They will fight with all their might to prevent the proletariat from getting possession of the whole world. The mightier the onslaught of the proletariat, the more dangerous the position of the bourgeoisie; the more necessary it becomes for the bourgeoisie to concentrate all its forces in the struggle against the proletariat. The proletariat, having conquered in one, two, or three countries, will inevitably come into collision with the rest of the bourgeois world that will attempt to break by blood and iron the efforts of the class that is fighting for its freedom.
What follows? It follows that prior to the establishment of the communist order and after the abolition of capitalism, in the interval between capitalism and communism, even after socialistic revolutions in several countries, the working class will have to endure a furious struggle with its inner and external foes. And for such a struggle a strong, wide, well-constructed organisation is required, having at its disposal all the means of fighting. An organisation of this kind is the proletarian State, the power of the workers. The proletarian State, similar to other States, is an organisation of the dominant class (the dominating class is here the working class), and an organisation of force over the bourgeoisie, as a means of putting an end to the bourgeoisie and getting rid of it.
He who is afraid of this kind of force is not a revolutionist. The question of force should not be regarded from the point of view that every kind of force is pernicious. The force practised by the rich against the poor, by capitalists towards workers – such force acts against the working class and aims at supporting and strengthening capitalistic plunder. But the force of workers against the bourgeoisie aims at freeing millions of working men from slavery; it means redemption from the rod of capital, from plundering wars, from savage looting nnd: destruction of all that mankind has been building up and accumulating for ages and ages. That is why, in the making of revolution and the forming of a communist order, the iron rule, of a proletarian dictatorship is indispensable.
It should be clear to everyone that, during the transition period, the working class will have to (and must do so now) strain all its energy in order to emerge victorious in the battle with its numerous enemies, and that no other organisation can defeat the enemies of the working class except one that embraces the working class and the poorer peasantry of the whole country. How is it possible to ward off foreign imperialists unless one holds in one’s hands government, power, and an army? How is it possible to fight against counter-revolution unless one holds in one’s hands arms (a means of coercion), prisons for confining counter-revolutionaries (a means of coercion), and other means of force and subjection? How is it possible to make capitalists conform to the workers’ control, requisitions, etc., if the working class possess no means for compelling others to obey? Of course some may say that a couple of “Unions of Five Oppressed” would be sufficient. That is nonsense.
The peculiarities of a transition period call for the necessity of a Workers’ State. For even when the bourgeois will be defeated all over the world, accustomed as it is to idleness, and imbued with feelings of hostility towards the workers, it will do its best to avoid work, to try and injure the proletariat in every way. The bourgeois must be made to serve the people. Only an authorised government and compulsory measures can do that.
In backward countries like Russia there still exists a multitude of small and medium property-holders, sweaters, usurers and land-grabbers. All these are against the poorest elements of the rural population and still more against the town labourers. They follow in the wake of big capital and of the ex-estate owners. It is needless to say that the workers and the poorest of the peasants must crush them should they rise against the revolution. The workers have got to think how to organise a new plan of work, systematise the work of production taken out of the hands of the manufacturers, help the peasants to organise rural economy and a fair distribution of bread, manufactured goods, iron products, and so on. But the sweater-land-grabber, grown fat on the war, is stubborn; he does not intend to act in the common interest. “I am my own master,” he says. The workers and the poor elements of the peasantry must compel him to obey, just in the same way as they are compelling the big capitalists to obey, the ex-landlords and ex-generals and officers.
The more precarious the position of the workers’ revolution is, and the more enemies it is Surrounded by, the more ruthless should be the workers’ government, the heavier should be the hand of the revolutionary workers and of the poorest elements of the peasantry, and the more energetic should be the dictatorship. State government in the hands of the working class is an axe held in readiness against the bourgeoisie. In a Communist order, when the bourgeoisie has ceased to exist, and with it class divisions and every kind of external as well as internal danger, then the axe will be needed no longer. But in the transition period, when the enemy is still showing his fangs, and is ready to drown the whole working class in a sea of blood (let us recall to mind the shooting of the Finnish workmen, the executions at Kiev, executions of workmen and peasants all over the Ukraine and in Lithuania!), we will agree that to go unarmed, to act without this axe of State government, would be an act of folly.
Two parties are clamouring against the dictatorship of the working class. On the, one side are the Anarchists; these, being against every kind of government, are therefore against the government of the workers and peasants. To these we can say, “If you are against the workers using means of force against the bourgeoisie, then get you to a convent!”
On the other side, against the dictatorship of the workers we have the Mensheviks and the Bight Socialist Revolutionaries (though they were themselves formerly in favour of it). These, are against encroaching upon the liberty ... of the bourgeoisie. They are backing up the purse-proud bourgeois to get for him that which he once possessed, and enable him peacefully to saunter along the Nevsky Prospect in Petrograd or the Tverskaya at Moscow, etc. They maintain that the working class is “not yet ripe” for a dictatorship. To them we can say, “You, sirs, defenders of the bourgeoisie, go to the bourgeoisie whom you love so much, but do leave the working class and the poor peasantry alone.”
Just because the Communist Party is an adherent of the most rigid iron dictatorship of the workers over capitalists – small sweaters, late landowners,, and all other similar delightful relics of the old bourgeois order – it is for that very reason the extremest and most revolutionary of all existing groups and parties. “Through a mercilessly firm government of the workers, through a proletarian dictatorship – to Communism!” This’ is the war cry of our party. And the programme of our party is the programme of proletarian dictatorship.
Last updated on 7.8.2008