In 1852, Marx wrote to Weydemeyer, “As to myself, no credit is due to me for discovering the existence of classes in modern society, nor yet the struggle between them. Long before me, bourgeois historians had described the historical development of this struggle of the classes, and bourgeois economists the economic anatomy of the classes. What I did that was new was to prove: 1. that the existence of the classes is only bound up with particular historical phases in the development of production; 2. that the class struggle necessarily leads to the dictatorship of the proletariat; 3. that this dictatorship itself only constitutes the transition to the abolition of all classes and to a classless society.”
The experience of the first socialist countries demonstrated that the proletariat has to maintain its dictatorship for an indeterminate time. The weakening of proletariat’s dictatorship in the name of the “State of all the people” has been one of the lines which bourgeoisie levered upon for sabotaging the first socialist countries and driving them to the ruin.
As regards the historical function it has to fulfil and the work it has to do, the State of proletariat’s dictatorship is the repression of the old bourgeoisie and of its attempts to restoration from inside and outside; it is the struggle for the mass mobilization, organization and transformation of workers in ruling class; it is the struggle for popular masses’ mobilization and organization so that they more and more could undertake the direction of their life and become protagonist of socialist society; it is the immediate rational reorganization of the existing productive forces in order to satisfy as wider as possible the popular masses’ needs and give to the work the organization as more as possible respectful of workers integrity and dignity; it is the struggle for the transformation by steps of every form of private property of the productive forces in collective property of all the associated workers; it is the struggle against all social inequalities, against material and cultural privileges, against old social relations, against conceptions and feelings that reflect old class relations; it is the struggle against the consolidation in new ruling classes of the ruling and privileged strata that persist for a long time also in socialism and which the masses will be able to do without only gradually; it is the struggle for a growing international tie among all peoples and countries. In conclusion, it is the struggle in every country and on the world level for adjusting the relations of production, the other social relations, the conceptions and feelings to the collective character of the productive forces, and for the development of the collective character of the productive forces still not collective.
This is the content, the program of proletariat’s dictatorship, the work it has to do. The proletariat’s dictatorship will end only with the end of the division of humanity in classes. Then also the communist party will end. There will be no more need of a specific organization of workers’ vanguard, of the communists. With the extinction of humanity’s division in classes, the class struggle will end as well.
As regards the form of proletariat’s dictatorship, that is to say which form is more proper to fulfil this work, the communist movement has already accumulated a rich experience, starting from the Paris Commune till the first socialist countries. Particularly these gave decisive teachings.
The proletariat’s dictatorship cannot have the form of the bourgeois democracy, either the form of the most perfect bourgeois democracy we can imagine. The bourgeoisie forms and selects its political leaders, its organic intellectuals, notables, through the competition in its current dealing, in the relations of its civil society. The pluripartititsm, electoral campaign every now and then, representative assemblies allow those leaders of the civil society to assert themselves as State rulers through the masses’ vote. Even depurated from all the feudal encrustations and remnants and from all the imperialist degeneration that the firsts before and the seconds after have in reality gone with its concrete expressions, this method corresponds to the characters of bourgeois society, and not to those of socialist society. This method of formation and selection of political leaders implies the class division, the opposition of interests among the classes, among groups and individuals, the private property, the mercantile and capitalist relations. The pluripartititsm is not possible without private property. For the bourgeoisie a regime is the more democratic the more it allows to entrepreneurs, bankers, professional people, most capable intellectuals and in general to the individuals most talented, energetic, ambitious and determined to do their social climbing, to emerge, to get on, create a range of personal relations, to enrich, to propose themselves to the masses as political leaders, the more it incites and allows to every individual to go on along this route. Even at the best we could imagine, even if it could be quite open to social mobility, by its nature the bourgeois society is elitist.
Within the bourgeois society the proletariat forms and selects its political leaders, its organic intellectuals in the course of class struggle: and so, through its communist party, its mass organizations, its struggles and movements.
During socialism, regime of transition from capitalism to Communism, besides the old type of bourgeoisie (the exponents of the old bourgeois relations and institutions and of the old liberal professions as they still persist), there is a new type of bourgeoisie: it is constituted by those leaders of the communist party, of mass organizations, economic organs, public institutions and State organs who use their power for preventing or hindering the growing of workers and other popular masses’ participation in exercising power, who oppose the new possible steps on in the transformation of relations of production and the other social relations. This new type of bourgeoisie will exist for a long time, during the period of transition from capitalism to Communism.
For the proletariat and the other popular masses the regime of the socialist society is the more democratic the more and better the resources of the entire society are employed to enlarge in a growing measure the participation of the mass of population in the material, moral and intellectual conditions of a civil life and in exercising power. The resources intended to enlarge the participation of the mass of population have to be the greater the more are the inequalities in material, moral and intellectual development persisting between directors and directed, between intellectual and manual workers, men and women, adults and young people, city and countryside, backward and advanced sectors, regions and nations: that is to say, the more are still the class inequalities and the inequalities with class character. In socialism the workers and other labourers exercise power participating in the activity of the communist party and of the mass organizations and, as members of concern or territorial collectives, electing their delegates, testing and forming them through the exercise of power, revoking them. The system of proletariat’s dictatorship is formed:
1. by the grass roots collectives, constituted in work and territorial places: they elect, control and revoke their delegates,
2. by the mass organization which anyone who has a least bit of will may share in and which everybody is solicited to share in,
3. by the communist party, which the more strenuous and generous share in with their support and the control of their work and dwelling comrades.
The experience of the first socialist countries showed that in this system two different structures of power live and must live together. 1. One structure is formed by the grass roots collectives, by the mass organizations and by the communist party and has its own institutions in accordance with the social division of work. Popular masses’ direct sharing in this structure is encouraged in every way. The field of competence of this structure spreads as much the march towards Communism advances. The wideness of this field and the quota of popular masses actively sharing in this structure are rather the indexes of how much the society of a country has advanced towards Communism. 2. The other structure is formed by an actual State in the traditional sense of the word. It is constituted by public institutions apparently similar from many points of view to those existing in capitalist countries: a government, a Public Administration, a magistracy with its own prisons and tribunals, State armed forces, polices and secret polices, State secret upon decisive activities. The organs of this structure are corps separate from the rest of the society. They are constituted by professionals separated by the normal work collectives and bound by their own discipline and hierarchy. Each corps acts not depending on the popular mobilization it arouses, but depending on the force and means it has and according to criteria and orders from above. This second structure constitutes a voluntary, recognized and necessary limitation of popular masses’ democracy. The extension of its duties is greater the more backward is the country and the more it is pressed by the external. It is dedicated to guarantee country defence, public order, justice and other state function as much the first structure is not able to face them.
Between the two structures there is interpenetration and relation of unity and struggle that reflect the state of class relations of the country and develops as much the transition advances. After all the second structure acts by proxy of the first that takes directly in its hands the functions of the first as it is able to do it.
In socialist countries the bourgeois political system (pluripartititsm, electoral campaign, representative assemblies) would allow the leaders to compete among them for conquering masses’ favour and vote. But it would not allow any channel for promoting the widest possible mass participation in the exercise of power. It would not allow the mass to get an experience of exercise of power exercising it. It would not allow any real and effective control and with fully cognition of facts upon the leaders. It would maintain (or keep back) the masses at the borders of power. It would consolidate the ruling stratum and favour the transformation of rulers in a new class, the specific bourgeoisie of socialist countries. This is what the revisionists succeeded in doing in the first socialist countries and that firstly politically weakened and then drove them to the ruin.
So, we communists struggle for establishing a political system founded 1. upon base collectives (councils), formed in work and territorial places; 2. upon delegates elected, controlled and revocable by the base collectives; 3. upon the wider possible and growing participation in the activities of mass organizations; 4. upon the participation in communist party’s activity by the most advanced and generous elements. All the system has to work according to the principle of democratic centralism: electivity of all bodies from below to above, obligation of any delegate and body to periodically account of its activity to the body that elected him and to the superior body, severe discipline, subordination of minority to majority, superior organs’ decisions are unconditionally obligatory for inferior organs. The class struggle in the entire country and the two lines struggle within the communist party offer the only real guarantees that in the ambit of such a system the work of proletariat’s dictatorship could be carried out. The communist party has to promote the class struggle in the society and the two lines struggle within the party.