by Tony Clark
Below, we give an introduction to some of the basic ideas of communism. We hope this will be of interest to students of marxism and other people coming into contact with communist ideas for the first time.
1. WHAT IS CLASS SOCIETY?
Class society is thousands of years old. Basically class society exists when one part of society exploits, robs and cheats the other part. In class society one part of society works for another part who own the conditions, or means of production. In simple terms class society is the form taken by the exploitation of the many by the few.
Class society is basically about the exploitation of the many by the few. It is organised exploitation and robbery of the working people for the benefit of the few. We can say quite definitely that class society is synonymous with exploitation, i.e., robbery.
THE EXISTENCE OF CLASSES IS THE FORM OF APPEARANCE OF THE EXISTENCE OF EXPLOITATION BY ONE SECTION OF SOCIETY OF ANOTHER SECTION.
2. WHAT IS THE STATE?
When classes are formed, when exploiters and exploited become a feature of society, when one part of society lives by exploiting, robbing and cheating another part of society, they cannot do so without force, that is, a means of coercion.
In a society founded on exploitation and robbery, that is to say class society, the state emerges out of the contradiction between the robbers and the working people. Thus the exploiters use the state to keep themselves in power. The role of the state in this case is to suppress, curb the resistance of the working people to exploitation which they face daily. The state, therefore, is a machine for the domination of one class by another class.
In a society divided into exploiters and exploited, into robbers and their victims, i.e., the working people, the state serves the interests of those who live by exploiting the working people.
IN A SOCIETY BASED ON THE EXISTENCE OF CLASSES THE STATE IS A MEANS OF FORCING THE EXPLOITED CLASS TO SUBMIT TO EXPLOITATION.
3. WHAT IS CAPITALIST SOCIETY?
Capitalist society is the latest, and Marxists believe, the last form of exploitation. Like previous class societies, such as slave society or feudal society, capitalism is also based on the exploitation of the many by the few. Under capitalism, like former class society, one part of society lives by exploiting, and robbing the other part of society.
The essence of capitalist exploitation is that workers are only paid for part of the labour service they provide to the capitalist employers. The other part of the labour provided goes unpaid. The proceeds from this end up in the pockets of the capitalists. So in the working day the worker is engaged in earning money for him/herself, i.e., wages, and also earning money for the capitalists from which profits are derived.
UNDER CAPITALISM PEOPLE WORK FOR EXPLOITERS WHO PRIVATELY OWN THE SOCIAL MEANS OF PRODUCTION
4. WHAT IS COMMUNIST SOCIETY?
In the historical sequence of things communist society comes after capitalism. The basic difference between capitalism and communism is that in a capitalist society the few exploit and rob the many, i.e., the working people. In this society the state actually defends the robbery and exploitation of the working class people by the capitalists. It is therefore called a capitalist state.
In a communist society people do work, but they work for the community (themselves) instead of working for a class of exploiters and robbers. In a communist society one section of society does not live by exploiting and robbing another section. In a communist society productive property comes under social ownership and serves the interest of all the members of society, not just a few.
Communist society, that is when people work for the community instead of a robber class, as under capitalism, is divided into two stages: i.e., a lower stage and a higher stage. The first, lower stage of communist society is usually called socialism. This is the stage of communist society as it emerges from capitalist society, its traditions and habits. At the socialist stage of communist society people take from society the equivalent of the amount of labour they give to it minus deductions for the common good. At the higher stage of communist society, simply referred to as ‘communism’, people take from society according to their needs.
When there is no more capitalism, that is, when people no longer work for exploiters and robbers, but instead work for the community, profit will also cease to be the goal of production. With increasingly advanced technology society’s labour time can be reduced, giving people the time to spend on other pursuits.
A COMMUNIST SOCIETY IS A SOCIETY WHERE PEOPLE WORK FOR THE COMMUNITY ON THE BASIS OF SOCIAL PROPERTY, AS OPPOSED TO WORKING FOR AN EXPLOITING CAPITALIST CLASS ON THE BASIS OF PRIVATE PROPERTY. ANY OPPOSITION TO COMMUNISM MEANS DEFENDING THE EXPLOITATION OF THE WORKING PEOPLE BY CAPITALIST ROBBERS.
5. WHAT IS THE DICTATORSHIP OF THE PROLETARIAT?
The ‘Dictatorship of the Proletariat’ is the form taken by working class political power in the transition to communist society. A period of transition is needed to make the change from a society based on robbery and exploitation to a society where people no longer exploit other people. Many if not the majority, of those who live by exploiting the working people, will resist the change to a society where people simply work for the community. If they are able to, they will do everything to undermine the new society. What they fight for is a return to the old society based on exploitation and robbing the working people. In order to stop these enemies of the people from achieving their selfish aims, they must be resisted and fought. Iron dictatorship against the counterrevolutionaries is called for. This dictatorship is against those who support robbing and exploiting working people. Those who oppose the dictatorship of the working people against the robbers and exploiters are in fact servants of the latter. The dictatorship of the proletariat itself will fade away when exploitation and robbery are things of the past.
THE DICTATORSHIP OF THE PROLETARIAT IS WORKING CLASS POLITICAL POWER, DIRECTED AGAINST THE EXPLOITERS AND THEIR SUPPORTERS TO FORCE THEM TO GIVE UP EXPLOITING THE WORKING PEOPLE FOR THEIR OWN BENEFIT.
6. WHAT IS THE COMMUNIST MOVEMENT?
The Communist Movement, which exists in every country, is a political movement made up of all those people who are against a society based on one group, or class of people living by the exploitation of another group or class. In short, Communists are against societies based on robbery and exploitation. In the struggle between communism and exploitation, Communists follow the teachings of Karl Marx, 1818-1883, whom they regard as the father of modern, scientific communist ideas. A notable ally of Marx was Frederick Engels.
Marx taught that the forms of society were determined by the level of development of the productive forces it contained. This explanation is called by Marxists ‘historical materialism’. What Marx argued was that as the productive forces developed, they broke down the old forms of society. That is to say the new productive forces begin to clash with the old forms of society. The growing contradiction between the new and the old eventually erupts into revolution. The revolution leads to a new society adapted to the new level of the productive forces. For instance, feudalism gave way to capitalism. Eventually capitalism must give way to communism, which is the most rational, most modern adaptation to the new, enormous productive forces which now exist in the world. The present contradictions in the world cannot be resolved by capitalism. Society’s enormous productive capabilities are utilised by the capitalist class to make wars. For many capitalists war is good business, so is the environmental destruction of the planet.
The old society proves the point of Marx that it no longer deserves to exist when it uses the colossal productive power at its disposal, science and technology, to make wars and impose incalculable misery on humanity, misery imposed by the few on the many.
THE AGE-OLD STRUGGLE BETWEEN THOSE WHO DEFEND EXPLOITATION AND ROBBERY AND THOSE WHO OPPOSE IT, LED TO THE BIRTH OF THE COMMUNIST MOVEMENT. COMMUNISTS ARE PEOPLE WHO SIDE WITH THOSE WHO OPPOSE EXPLOITATION. KARL MARX IS THE FATHER OF THE MODERN COMMUNIST MOVEMENT.
7. WHAT IS REVISIONISM?
Lenin described revisionism as the struggle against Marxism within the Marxist movement itself. The revisionists strive to revise Marxism in the direction of serving the interest of the capitalist class, who want the working people to continue working for exploiters. Revisionists are the ideological representatives of the bourgeoisie in the communist movement. The revisionists wear a ‘communist’ mask so that they can better divert the communist movement from accomplishing its historical mission of destroying capitalism.
In short, revisionism is the bourgeoisie inside the communist movement. They seek to undermine the principles on which the Marxist-Leninist movement is founded. What the revisionists seek more than anything else is to remove Marxism-Leninism from the leadership of the communist movement. The struggle against revisionism is therefore a class struggle; it is the highest form of the ideological struggle against the bourgeoisie because in this case their representatives disguise themselves as communists.
The former Soviet Union is a good example of this. In this case, after the death of Stalin, the Soviet revisionists, the servants of the capitalist class, concealing themselves behind a communist mask, gained control of the leading positions in the Communist Party and state and opened the door to the restoration of capitalism. Stalin was continually denounced by the revisionists as the people were returned to exploitation and robbery.
The supporters of imperialist exploitation will do everything in their power to preserve exploitation and robbery. This means doing whatever is necessary to oppose Communism. Acting through the revisionists, the supporters of capitalist exploitation seek to gain control of the Communist movement and use it to serve their own class interests. The revisionists, the concealed representatives of the capitalist class in the Communist movement, must be unmasked and driven out of our movement.
THE BOURGEOISIE, ACTING THROUGH THE REVISIONISTS, SEEK TO GAIN CONTROL OF THE COMMUNIST MOVEMENT, TO USE IT TO SERVE THEIR OWN CLASS INTERESTS, THAT IS, TO DEFEND CAPITALISM. BUT ANY DEFENCE OF CAPITALISM IS A DEFENCE OF THE EXPLOITATION OF THE WORKING PEOPLE BY A ROBBER CAPITALIST CLASS.
8. WHAT IS SOCIAL DEMOCRACY?
Social Democracy is the ideology of class collaboration. It is a petty-bourgeois ideology in the working class movement. The adherents of this ideology use the support of the working class to defend capitalism. The historical role of the representatives of Social Democracy is to defend capitalism by making certain concessions to the working class where this is possible. Social Democracy is therefore a petty-bourgeois movement that preaches class collaboration to the working class. Social-Democracy serves the interests of the upper strata of the petty-bourgeoisie, and the relatively privileged upper sections of the working class, the ‘labour aristocracy’, who fuse to form a party on the basis of defending capitalism by making some concessions to the working class.
THE HISTORICAL ROLE OF SOCIAL DEMOCRACY IS TO DEFEND CAPITALIST EXPLOITATION BY MAKING CONCESSIONS TO THE WORKING CLASS. THE REPRESENTATIVES OF SOCIAL DEMOCRACY PREACH CLASS COLLABORATION TO THE WORKERS AND SO DIVERT WORKERS AWAY FROM CLASS STRUGGLE AND ANY THOUGHT OF REVOLUTION.
9. WHAT IS IMPERIALISM?
Lenin defined Imperialism as monopoly capitalism, the highest and final stage reached by capitalist society. In the imperialist epoch, giant transnational corporations dominate the world economy.
Originating in the developed capitalist countries, these giant companies are able to rob and exploit the poor countries. They make superprofits and use part of this to create and bribe an upper section of the working class, who come to form a labour aristocracy, which renounces the revolutionary struggle against capitalism. Imperialism facilitates the domination of the working class movement by the gang of class collaborators who lead the Social-Democratic movement, which we have seen defends capitalism by making some concessions to the working class. Imperialism makes it possible for these Social-Democratic people to hold back the working class from destroying capitalism by revolution, although capitalism is now a threat to humanity and the planet we live on.
Imperialism, because it makes life easier for large masses of people in the advanced capitalist countries, is one of the main factors holding back the world revolution against capitalism. However, imperialism is nearing its end. This was signalled by the 1914-1918 war, which led to the Russian revolution of 1917, and subsequent events. Marxism-Leninism teaches that the downfall of imperialism will usher in the world revolution.
IMPERIALISM IS MONOPOLY CAPITALISM, THE HIGHEST AND FINAL STAGE REACHED BY CAPITALIST DEVELOPMENT. IMPERIALISM MAKES IT POSSIBLE TO CREATE A PRIVILEGED SECTION IN THE WORKING CLASS WHO RENOUNCE REVOLUTION AND SUPPORT CAPITALIST EXPLOITATION OF THE MASSES OF WORKING PEOPLE, HOLDING BACK THEIR STRUGGLE AGAINST CAPITALISM.
10. WHAT IS PROLETARIAN INTERNATIONALISM?
Marxists put forward the slogan: “Workers of the world, unite!”. But this is no sentimental slogan, pious dream or wish. This slogan reflects the actual state of the present day world economy, which is based on interdependence. The world economy forms an uneven integral unity. Take for example the construction of a motor car, it is made up of hundreds or thousands of components which are imported from different countries. This is internationalism; countries trading with each other. Proletarian internationalism is a slogan, which expresses objective reality. Lenin argued that true internationalism is fighting for the revolution in our own countries. Only in this way can we really support the revolutions in other countries.
PROLETARIAN INTERNATIONALISM REFLECTS THE TRUE STATE OF THE WORLD ECONOMY. TO SUPPORT REVOLUTIONS IN OTHER COUNTRIES WE MUST FIGHT FOR THE REVOLUTION IN THE COUNTRIES WHERE WE ARE.
11. WHAT IS THE PROBLEM OF ‘BUREAUCRACY’ IN THE TRANSITION TO SOCIALISM?
Bureaucracy, it is often said, can be a good servant but a bad master. The Russian socialist revolution certainly raised the issue of bureaucracy in the communist movement, as the writings of Lenin, Stalin and Trotsky show. While both Lenin and Stalin recognised that the struggle against bureaucracy was a long-term affair, Trotsky put forward a pseudo-left, (i.e., ultra-left) slogan calling for a ‘political’ revolution to overthrow the Soviet bureaucracy. By a pseudo-left slogan we mean a slogan, or policy which on the surface seems left and rather militant, but in its content would serve the interest of the enemies of communism, i.e., those who believe in the exploitation and robbing of the working people.
However, on the basis of social ownership of the means of production the contradiction between the bureaucracy and the working class was not irresolvable, or rather could be resolved without revolution, which often entails civil war. For Marxist-Leninists there are two basic types of contradictions, namely:
Antagonistic contradictions and non-antagonistic contradictions. In a country building socialism, the contradiction between the working class and bureaucracy is of the latter type of contradiction.
Bureaucracy will not vanish overnight, or on the morrow of the socialist revolution, bureaucracy fades away with the progress of socialism, the first stage of communist society. However, a bureaucracy in any society, including a socialist society, is in a strategically powerful position to arrogate power and privilege to itself. The working class and its communist party must remain constantly vigilant, and be ready to purge bureaucrats if they seek to feather their own nests. There is no doubt that communists must fight against bureaucracy, beginning by opposing its negative features.
‘That it is necessary to combat the elements of bureaucracy, and that this task will confront us all the time, as long as we have state power, as long as the state exists, is also a fact’. (J. V. Stalin. Works, 10; p.327)
The fight against bureaucracy is a long term affair. This was recognised by both Lenin and Stalin. In the transition to socialism, which is the first stage of communist society, the working class, led by the communist party, must remain vigilant and be ready to purge bureaucrats who deviate from socialism. At the same time, a pseudo-left approach to fighting bureaucracy can only serve the interests of those who want to exploit the working people, i.e. the counterrevolution, and must be resisted. Marxism-leninism teaches that Trotskyism represented a pseudo-left approach to fighting bureaucracy.
12. CONCLUSION: THE CHOICE OF THE 21ST CENTURY.
The two conflicting principles are: exploitation of the working people versus Communism. The choice today is either to embrace the principle of exploitation, that is, Capitalism, or to rally behind the principle of Communism, in which people work for the community instead of working for exploiters.
THIS IS THE CHOICE WHICH EVERY MEMBER OF SOCIETY FACES, THE CHOICE OF THE 21ST CENTURY.