After a short break from dealing with the subject (during which I wrote a post on identity politics) I have gotten around to writing part four on my series on the issue of the proletarian class party. Here are parts one, two, and three. In my opinion, however, this post has been the hardest to write, and I fear many of the most crucial points I have made are unclear and will be interpreted as monstrous and be taken to mean something completely different. Nevertheless, it is also among the most important. You beloved readers will be pleased to hear that the ordeal of having to see my posts on the class party is nearly over, as after this post there will only be one more. After that I may go back and edit the other posts some more to make them flow better.
Prior to now we examined the role and nature of the party leading up to the revolutionary seizure of power: that is, the formation of socialist sects through class struggle: the driving of struggle by various sects within the class; the unity of these sects into a class party as the struggle expands; and the winning over of the class to the party’s revolutionary orientation. Now, we must deal with the role of the party after the insurrectionary act and the revolutionary seizure of power by the proletarian class. This is a sensitive topic and yet one that is of utmost importance to the proletariat.
The proletarian state represents and consists of the armed proletariat organized as the ruling class through organs of workers’ power, historically having taken the form of soviets1. They encompass the broad masses of the class. However, we must recognize that the revolution is not a question of forms but of content. In history we have seen examples of non- or even counter-revolutionary soviets. In Germany the SPD won majorities in the workers’ councils and ultimately put down the revolution entirely. To understand the proper relation of the class party to the class state we must understand the relation of the party to the class; the party is an organ of the class which directs the movement of the class in a revolutionary manner. Therefore the party must set itself at the head of the class organized into workers’ councils and, likewise, lead the proletariat to revolutionary assault against the capitalist order much as it had done in the past, except now with the proletariat in a position of power relative to the remaining capitalists.
We must therefore admit that we are for a state dominated by the communist party. However we must also admit that we oppose substitutionism in both its Stalinist and Blanquist forms. The communist party rules by having behind it the support and sympathy of the mass of the proletariat; without this, it must rule by terror and in a way antithetical to the principles of proletarian dictatorship. Moreover, isolated from the workers, it runs the very big risk of losing a proletarian outlook and falling into theoretical degeneration and influence from other classes. To ensure the links between the class and the party, and to prevent isolation, several measures must be in place: first of all, the open election of all delegates and the ability to instantly recall them; the right to factions within the communist party; and the incessant work within the broad proletarian organizations by the party in order to maintain support among the class. We advocate not a proletarian state run by a detached party but by a party that has the backing of the revolutionary class; conversely, since the class backs the party, proletarian power can only be exercised through the election of the party that the class has placed its trust in, i.e. the communist party. Thus we reject the dichotomy, popular in some circles, between “workers’ power” and “party power,” and hold that the party must have power through the class and that the class must hold power through the party. We seek a state dominated by the communist party by virtue of having the backing of the proletariat, and a proletariat which expresses its rule by electing communist party delegates2
Likewise, however, we reject the (mainly) Trotskyist slogan of competing workers’ parties within a proletarian dictatorship as harmful to the revolutionary unity of the proletariat in its struggle against the former ruling class. The communist party must have the backing of the proletariat: internal differences within the class need not be expressed as different parties competing against each other but as different factions within the united class party. Different factions acting within the communist party is no more or less democratic than a system of multiple “workers’ parties,” while preserving the unity of the class party. The question of whether to allow parties representative of other classes or of different strata of other classes ties into the question of whether or not these other classes should be allowed participation in the proletarian apparatus of power at all, which is an issue outside the scope of this post.
Throughout our examination of the class party’s relation to the class state, however, we have mentioned several times the right to faction within the party both as a means of preventing bureaucratism and isolation from the class and as a means of ensuring party unity: therefore, our next article of investigation must be directed to the internal organization of the class party. However, this must be reserved for the next post.
- I know that among the contributors to this blog I am probably in a minority for my support of soviets. Nonetheless, in light of their historical significance as organs of proletarian power, the investigation of the relationship between party and state has taken place within the paradigm of soviets. However I want to emphasize that the precise form is not terribly important here, and the argument would still hold if we considered other political forms ▲
- It is conceivable — and has indeed been the case in the past — that proletarian dictatorship may be carried out by the communist party without the majority of the class behind it. This does not alter the proletarian nature of the regime because its class nature is determined not by what statistical percentage of the class supports it, but by whose class interests it represents. Naturally, in keeping with the rest of this post, it must be said that this is a precarious situation and one that is not ideal — however, history has not always been so kind as to provide us with ideal conditions, under which I am examining the question. (Added 28/10/2012) ▲