CLASS ONE : THE DEVELOPMENT OF SOCIETY
by Bill Bland
1. WHAT IS ECONOMICS?
The science of the ways in which people satisfy their material needs (for food, clothing, shelter, etc.).
2. WHAT IS POLITICS?
The science of the ways in which people organise themselves in society. (Note: It is broader than ‘the science of government’. Primitive peoples, without state or government, yet have political organisation).
3. WHAT IS PRODUCTION?
The transformation of raw materials into things which people can use, i.e. into products.
(Note: The product of one productive process, such as iron, may form the raw material of another productive process, such as engineering).
4. WHAT ARE MEANS OF PRODUCTION?
The tools which people use to carry on production—from stone axe to automated plant.
5. WHAT ARE THE PRINCIPAL SOCIAL SYSTEMS KNOWN TO HISTORY?
a. Primitive communism, as in African tribal society;
b. Slavery, as in the Roman Empire;
c. Feudalism, as in mediaeval Europe;
d. Capitalism, as in contemporary Britain;
e. Socialism, as formerly existed in the Soviet Union in the time of Lenin and Stalin.
6. WHAT IS EXPLOITATION?
The act of living, partly or wholly, on the work of others.
7. WHAT IS A SOCIAL CLASS?
A social group which has distinct property relations to means of production. The members of a class a. own means of production and live by exploiting a class that does not; b. own means of production and live by means of their own work; or c. own no means of production and live by selling their capacity to work to members of a class that does. A class in category a is an exploiting class, while a class in category c is an exploited class.
8. WHAT ARE THE BASIC SOCIAL CLASSES IN BRITAIN TODAY?
The capitalist class or bourgeoisie, which owns means of production and lives by exploiting the social class which does not; b. the middle class or petty bourgeoisie, which owns small means of production and lives primarily by its own work; and c. the working class or proletariat, which owns no means of production and lives by selling its capacity to work to the capitalist class.
9. WHICH OF THE SOCIAL SYSTEMS KNOWN TO HISTORY ARE BASED ON EXPLOITATION?
a. slavery (in which the slave class is exploited by the slave-owning class)
b. feudalism (in which the serf class is exploited by the aristocracy; and
c. capitalism (in which the working class is exploited by the capitalist class).
10. WHAT IS THE BASIC CAUSE OF HISTORICAL CHANGE FROM ONE SOCIAL SYSTEM TO ANOTHER?
The development of tools and techniques. This process occurs within a particular social system until the point is reached where these new tools and techniques can no longer be developed—or even used—to the full within that particular social system. The frustrations resulting from this give rise to a political movement, the function of which is to change this social system to a new one. Eventually this change is brought about, allowing the new tools and techniques to be developed further within the new social system. The first stage of human society was one in which tools and techniques were so primitive, and production in consequence so low, that it was possible for someone to produce only barely sufficient to keep himself and his dependants alive. There was, therefore, no surplus which anyone could take. Consequently, exploitation was impossible, means of production were communally owned, and the social system was one of primitive communism. However, within primitive communism tools and techniques continued to be developed, until the point was reached where it was possible for someone to produce more than was necessary to keep himself and his dependants alive. Until this point prisoners- of-war had generally been eaten; now, however, cannibalism came to be regarded by society as immoral, because it was no longer economically sensible: by turning a prisoner-of-war into a slave it was possible to obtain from him, not one good meal, but a lifetime of meals from his slave labour. Thus, as a result of the development of tools and techniques, primitive communism gave way to slavery. society became divided into two social classes: a class of exploiting slave-owners and a class of exploited slaves. But within slavery tools and techniques continued to be developed until the point was reached where the purely forced labour of the slave (who worked only to avoid punishment) ceased to be capable of using and developing these new tools and techniques adequately. In consequence, the slave-owners themselves gradually transformed the basis of their exploitation into a new form in which the exploited peasants were given an interest in the use and development of the new tools and techniques—the slaves were transformed into serfs. In feudal society the serfs, although legally tied to their lord’s estate, were permitted to work part-time on their own strips of land. They had, however, to work also on their lord’s estate and to hand over to him a proportion of the produce from their own strips. But within feudalism tools and techniques were further developed, a new class of merchants and artisans appeared in the towns. The serfs, in alliance with the rising merchant class, succeeded in gaining their freedom from serfdom, in commuting their labour service into a new system of money rents. With the commutation of labour service, the lords found themselves unable to obtain labour for their own private estates. In order to obtain this (as well as for other secondary reasons) they proceeded to ‘enclose’ the peasants’ own land, that is, to drive them from it so that they were compelled to seek employment as wage-labourers in order to live. Great numbers of these dispossessed peasants migrated to the towns to seek employment with the merchants and artisans. The working class was born. Within the framework of feudal society, a new economic system—capitalism—began to develop. But the merchant capitalists found their efforts to develop the capitalist system (on which their economic advancement depended) frustrated by the opposition of the ruling landed aristocracy. This frustration gave rise to a political movement to change the social system. Eventually the political power of the aristocracy was overthrown in a bourgeois revolution, and the capitalist class became the ruling class. Within the framework of capitalist society, tools and techniques were developed at an unprecedented rate. In the 20th century the point was reached where the full use and development of these new tools and techniques was being held back by the continued existence of a social system which had outlived its usefulness to the mass of the people. This became the basis of a crisis within the capitalist system, and it brought into existence a movement to change (again) the social system to a new one: the socialist movement. During the 20th century the working class over a quarter of the world succeeded in abolishing the capitalist system and in laying the foundations of a socialist system.
However, for reasons which will be analysed later in this course, a temporary reversion to capitalism took place. The establishment of a socialist society in Britain, as part of a world revolutionary process, is the historic task which faces the British working people.
11. WHAT IS MEANT BY THE TERM ‘PROGRESSIVE’?
That which helps forward the development of society.
12, WHAT IS MEANT BY THE TERM ‘REACTIONARY’?
That which tends to hold back or turn back, the development of society.
13. WHAT IS THE STATE?
A machinery of force by which one social class rules over the rest of the people. In primitive communism, a classless society, there was no state machinery. The state came into existence with the establishment of a class-divided society, since the slave-owning minority found it necessary to hold down the exploited slave majority by force. In slave society, the state was the machinery of rule of the slave-owning class. In feudal society, the state was the machinery of rule of the landed aristorcacy. In capitalist society, the state is the machinery of rule of the capitalist class. As we shall see, the working class (although it is not and will not be an exploiting class) also needs its own machinery of force, its own state, a socialist state, in order to maintain socialist society and prevent its overthrow by the capitalist class which has lost its wealth and power. Thus, in a socialist society the state is the machinery of rule of the working class.
14. WHAT IS A REVOLUTION?
The forcible replacement of the rule of one class by the rule of a more progressive class.
15. WHICH OF THE SOCIAL SYSTEMS KNOWN TO HISTORY WERE ESTABLISHED BY MEANS OF A REVOLUTION?
a. The capitalist system, established as a result of the revolutionary overthrow of the political power of the feudal aristocracy in a bourgeois revolution.
b. The socialist system, established as a result of the revolutionary overthrow of the political power of the capitalist class in a socialist or proletarian revolution.
16. WHAT IS A COUNTER-REVOLUTION?
The forcible overthrow of the rule of one class by that of a more reactionary class.
17. WHAT SOCIAL CLASS WAS PLACED IN POWER BY
a. THE ENGLISH REVOLUTION OF THE 17TH CENTURY? The English capitalist class.
b. THE FRENCH REVOLUTION OF THE 18TH CENTURY? The French capitalist class.
c, THE RUSSIAN REVOLUTION OF MARCH 1917? The Russian capitalist class.
d. THE RUSSIAN REVOLUTION OF NOVEMBER 1917? The Russian working class.
CLASS TWO : HOW CAPITALISM WORKS (Part One)
1. WHAT IS A COMMODITY?
Something produced for exchange, not for the personal use of the producer. A peasant who grows vegetables for his family is not engaged in commodity production, but in production for use. But if he grows them in order to exchange them with the landlord of the local inn for ale, he is engaged in production for exchange, in commodity production.
2. WHAT IS SIMPLE COMMODITY PRODUCTION?
The production of commodities by producers who own their own means of production, like that carried on by artisans under the feudal system.
3. WHAT IS CAPITALIST COMMODITY PRODUCTION?
The production of commodities by working class producers in a capitalist society, that is, by producers who do not own their means of production and so are compelled, in order to live, to seek employment with capitalists who do own means of production.
4. WHAT IS A MARKET?
An area where those who wish to dispose of a commodity and those who wish to acquire it are in contact. Thus, we may speak of a local livestock market or a world oil market. A market where there are a number of separate individuals or firms competing to dispose of a commodity and a number of individuals or firms competing to acquire it is called a competitive market.
5. WHAT IS THE RATE OF EXCHANGE OF A COMMODITY?
The number of commodities of other kinds for which that commodity can be exchanged in a particular market at a particular time. If a cow can be exchanged in a town’s cattle market on a particuar day for two pigs, the rate of exchange of a cow is equal to two pigs, while the rate of exchange of a pig is one- half of a cow.
6. WHAT IS THE VALUE OF A COMMODITY?.
Clearly, it is not necessarily equal to its rate of exchange in a particular market, for in the last example we may speak of a cow being ‘worth more’ or ‘worth less’ than its actual exchange value. At the basis of the exchange rate between two commodities lies the relative quantity of work required to produce them. In fact, the value of a commodity is the necessary labour time required to produce it. So, if it takes 4,000 times more hours to produce a car than to produce a briar pipe, the value of a car is 4,000 times that of the pipe.
7. WHAT DETERMINES THE RATE OF EXCHANGE OF A COMMODITY IN A COMPETITIVE MARKET?
Supply and demand, which causes the rate of exchange to fluctuate above or below its value. If, for example, there is a shortage of sugar in a particular market, those who wish to obtain it will tend to offer more than its value in order to obtain it. On the other hand, if there is a glut of sugar in a particular market, those who wish to dispose of it will tend to offer it at less than its value in order not to have it left on their hands. However, if the rate of exchange of a commodity is above its value as a result of shortage, the production of sugar will yield exceptionally high returns, Consequently, more people will go in for producing it, and the production of sugar will rise until its rate of exchange goes down to its value. The reverse process operates if the rate of exchange of sugar is below its value as a result of supply exceeding ‘demand’; the production of sugar then yields exceptionally low returns, so that the production of sugar will decrease until its rate of exchange rises to its value. Thus, in each competitive market there is a tendency for the rate of exchange of each commodity to correspond, in the long run, to its value.
8. WHAT IS BARTER?
The direct exchange of one commodity for another, e.g., wheat for bricks.
9. WHAT IS MONEY?
A commodity (or token of a commodity, such as a banknote, which is the token for a certain quantity of gold) which is generally acceptable within a particular community as a medium of exchange. The introduction of a monetary system removes many of the difficulties inherent in a barter system. Under the latter, if a weaver wishes to obtain a pair of shoes, he must search for a shoemaker who wants cloth. But when money is in social use, he may sell his cloth to anyone for money and use this to buy shoes from any shoemaker.
10. WHAT IS PRICE?
The rate of exchange of a commodity expressed in terms of money.
11. WHY DO PRECIOUS METALS SUCH AS GOLD AND SILVER COME INTO USE AS MONEY?
For convenience of use and transport. Being rare, their production involves a very large amount of labour time, so that a small quantity of them embodies a very large value.
12. WHAT IS LABOUR POWER?
The capacity of a worker to work for a certain period of time. The worker, owning no means of production of his own, is compelled in order to live to try to sell his labour power to a capitalist. Thus, in a capitalist society, labour power is a commodity.
13. WHAT DETERMINES THE VALUE OF LABOUR POWER?
As in the case of other commodities, the amount of socially necessary labour time involved in its production, that is, the value of the commodities required to produce, maintain and reproduce it. The value of labour power is not, however, that of the bare subsistence of the worker and his dependents (who form the next generation of workers) but depends on such additional factors as the subsistence necessary to train a skilled worker, the degree of ‘civilisation’ of the country concerned, and so on.
14. WHAT ARE WAGES?
The price of labour power. In a competitive market, the price of labour power, like that of other commodities, may fluctuate above or below its value according to supply and demand, but in the long run its price tends to correspond to its value.
15. WHAT IS SURPLUS VALUE?
The new value created in the course of production by a worker’s labour over and above the value of his labour power. If a worker receiving £100 a week in wages were to create only £100 a week in value, his employer would obtain no benefit from employing him and would cease to do so. An employer will employ a worker only if he produces in a week an amount of new value which exceeds what is paid to him in wages. The difference is the surplus value—value which is created by the worker but appropriated by his employer. If a worker creates £200 of new value in a week but is paid £100 in wages, his employer has obtained £100 in surplus value from that worker. So, if he employs 1,000 such workers, he obtains a total of £100,000 of surplus value in a week. This is the mechanism by which the capitalist class exploits the working class. Clearly, exploitation under capitalism has a more concealed character than under slavery or feudalism
16. WHAT IS CAPITAL?
All that is owned or hired by capitalists in a capitalist society—land, buildings, machinery, raw materials, labour power—enabling them to acquire surplus value, that is, enabling them to exploit workers. The money expended by capitalists for this purpose—a process known as investment—is also called capital.
17. WHAT IS CONSTANT CAPITAL?
All capital except that used for the buying of labour power. Land, buildings, machinery and raw materials do not themselves create new value, but are merely the instruments with which human labour power creates new value. Since the capital expended on these items does not change in value in the course of capitalist production, it is called constant capital.
18. WHAT IS VARIABLE CAPITAL?
Capital expended on the purchase of labour power. Since the new value created in the course of capitalist production is created entirely by the worker’s labour power, the capital expended on this item may be regarded as having changed—increased—in value in the course of capitalist production. It is, therefore, called variable capital.
19. WHAT ARE RENT, INTEREST AND PROFIT?
The portions of surplus value which are appropriated by different sections of the exploiting class (or by different exploiting classes) in a capitalist society. Rent may be paid by the employer (the entrepreneur) to a landlord for the hire of land and/or buildings where his enterprise is carried on. Interest may be paid by the entrepreneur to a financier or bank for the hire of money capital he requires to carry on his enterprise. Profit is that portion of the surplus value which the entrepreneur retains for himself after paying any rent or interest. Rent, interest and profit, being portions of the surplus value produced in the course of capitalist production, all have their source in the exploitation of the workers. An entrepreneur who owns his own land, buildings and money capital retains, of course, all three portions of the surplus value for himself.
20. WHAT IS COMMERCIAL PROFIT?
The profit obtained by a commercial capitalist, that is, one engaged in the distribution (i.e., selling) of commodities.
21. WHAT IS THE SOURCE OF COMMERCIAL PROFIT?
Value is created only by produtive labour, and surplus value is created only by labour employed in capitalist production. No value is created in the process of distribution. The source of commercial profit (as well as the source of the wages of employed distributive workers) lies in the surplus value created by employed production workers. The capitalist engaged in production sells his finished commodities to a capitalist engaged in distribution at a discount, below their value. The capitalist engaged in distribution realises his commercial profit by reselling them at their value. In other words, the capitalists engaged in production pass to the capitalists engaged in distribution a portion of the surplus value created by their employed production workers in the course of capitalist production
22. WHAT IS THE MOTIVE OF PRODUCTION UNDER CAPITALISM?
Profit. Each capitalist firm strives to make for itself the maximum possible amount of profit.
CRITICISE THE FOLLOWING ANALYSIS: ‘BECAUSE OF THE OPERATION OF THE PRINCIPLE OF SUPPLY AND DEMAND IN A CAPITALIST SOCIETY AS DESCRIBED IN PARAGRAPH 7 ABOVE, THE PROFIT MOTIVE AUTOMATICALLY GEARS PRODUCTION TO DEMAND’.
The ‘demand’ which is satisfied as a result of the operation of the profit motive is not the needs of the masses of the people. It is what is called ‘effective demand’, that is, ‘demand’ measured in terms of the money which consumers are willing and able to spend on the satisfaction of their needs. If the entire population of a capitalist country were to demonstrate in the streets for bread, there would be no ‘effective demand’ for bread unless they had the necessary money to offer in the bakers’ shops. Thus, the profit motive gears production approximately to the needs of those people with enough money to express their needs in effective demand. That is why, although there has long been a housing shortage for working people in capitalist Britain, capitalist building firms do not use the resources of the building industry to build houses and flats for working people but, instead, use them to construct such things as office buildings (which may stand empty for years). They do so because the latter course is more profitable, although the social need for it is incomparably smaller. Only when the profit motive has been abolished and production is consciously planned can it be geared to the real needs of the people.
CLASS THREE : HOW CAPITALISM WORKS (Part Two)
1. WHAT IS THE ACCUMULATION OF CAPITAL?
The transformation of surplus value into new capital so as to increase the amount of capital in the hands of an individual or firm. Even if the rate of exploitation remains unchanged, the accumulation of capital enables the number of exploited workers employed by a particular individual or firm to be increased, so increasing the total surplus value obtained by the individual or firm concerned.
2. THE NEW MEANS OF PRODUCTION OBTAINED AS A RESULT OF THE ACCUMULATION OF CAPITAL TEND TO BE MORE MECHANISED THAN THE OLD. WHAT ADVANTAGE DOES THIS GIVE TO THE FIRM CONCERNED?
The increased productivity resulting from the increased mechanisation reduces the cost of production of each commodity, enabling the firm concerned (as long as it enjoys a technical advantage over its rivals) to make an above-average rate of profit. NOTE: We call the ratio of constant capital (plant, etc.) to variable capital (wages), the organic composition of capital. Thus, the organic composition of capital tends constantly to increase.
3. WHAT IS CONCENTRATION OF CAPITAL?
The enlargement of individual capitals into larger and larger units. The concentration of capital follows from the process of accumulation of capital.
4. LEAVING ON ONE SIDE THE ACCUMULATION AND MECHANISATION OF CAPITAL, HOW ELSE CAN A CAPITALIST FIRM INCREASE ITS PROFITS?
Only by increasing the amount of surplus value it obtains from each of its workers, for example: 1) by cutting wages (allowing prices to rise while wages are frozen represents a cut in real wages); 2) by increasing working hours while preventing a corresponding increase in real wages; 3) by increasing the intensity of work by methods such as piecework wage systems (where wages are geared to output), ‘speed- up’ of the conveyor belt system, time-and-motion-study (designed to eliminate any actions which do not contribute to production), etc.
5. WHAT IS THE BASIS OF THE CONFLICT OF INTEREST BETWEEN LABOUR AND CAPITAL WHICH MARXIST-LENINISTS CALL ‘THE CLASS STRUGGLE’?
The division of the value produced by the workers between the two classes—the working class and the capitalist class. Leaving on one side the accumulation and mechanisation of capital, higher profits can be obtained only at the expense of the living and working conditions of the working class, while improved living and working conditions for workers can be obtained only at the expense of profit. There is, therefore, a fundamental conflict of interest between the working class and the capitalist class. At times smouldering beneath the surface, at times bursting into the open flames of strike or lock-out, the class struggle is inherent in capitalist society. No repressive measures can do more than hold it down for a while. It will disappear only when capitalists and capitalism no longer exist.
6. WHAT IS THE BASIC CAUSE OF SLUMPS?
Firstly, the unplanned, anarchic character of production under capitalism, where each firm ‘plans’ its production in the hope of maximising its profits, combined, secondly, with the fact that the working class (who comprise, in a developed capitalist country, the majority of the population) receive in wages considerably less than would enable them to purchase all the goods and services they produce, and with, thirdly, the tendency for the rate of profit to fall in line with the growth in the organic composition of capital. Periodically, therefore, a glut of unsold goods piles up in warehouses and orders to producers are drastically cut. As a result, capitalists cut back their production, putting workers on short time or dismissing them. In consequence, the purchasing power of the working class is reduced still further, orders are further cut back, and the whole system sinks into a vicious spiral of slump or depression, with mass unemployment and widespread bankruptcies. When production has fallen to a low level (often with masses of surplus produce being destroyed), the warehouses are compelled to order at least a minimum quantity of the goods required by the population. As a result, the capitalists take some workers back into employment and, in consequence of the rise in the purchasing power of the workers, more orders flow into producing firms. The system picks up into a recovery, followed by a boom—at the height of which a new crisis of relative over-production is precipitated.
7. WHAT IS MONOPOLY?
A firm, or association of firms, which possesses monopoly power, i.e., which controls so much of the output of a commodity within a market that a competitive market can no longer be said to exist.
8. WHAT ARE THE ADVANTAGES OF MONOPOLY POWER TO THE CAPITALISTS POSSESSING IT?
A monopoly can price its commodities higher than would be possible under conditions of competition, i.e., it can sell its commodities above their value. It can assist this process further by restricting output. Thus, a monopoly can make a higher rate of profit than would be possible under conditions of competition.
9. A MONOPOLY MAY BE: 1) A TRUST; 2) A COMBINE, OR 3) A CARTEL. WHAT ARE THE CHARACTERISTICS OF EACH?
A trust is a single giant firm with monopoly power, such as Imperial Chemical Industries. A combine is a group of firms under single control possessing monopoly power, such as Unilever. A cartel or ring is an association of separate firms which have agreed to restrict competition among themselves in order to reap the advantages of monopoly power, A cartel may, for example, fix production quotas and the share of the market for the participating firms and/or agreed prices for a commodity. An example of an international cartel is the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries.
10. DOES MONOPOLY END COMPETITION?
No. It reduces competition in the area covered by the monopoly, while accentuating it in other fields—e.g., between monopoly capitalists and non-monopoly capitalists and between rival groups of monopolists in the same or different countries.
11. WHAT IS FINANCE CAPITAL?
As capitalism develops, concentration and centralisation, of capital proceed in banking as in industry, and a merging of bank and industrial capital takes place, so that a small group of monopoly capitalists—a financial oligarchy—comes to control the large banks and financial institutions as well as the large industrial firms. This merged bank and industrial capital is called finance capital.
12. WE HAVE SEEN THAT THE CAPITALIST CLASSES OF ALL COUNTRIES ARE FACED WITH A MARKET PROBLEM HOW DO THEY ENDEAVOUR TO SOLVE THIS PROBLEM?
‘In theory’ they could raise the workers’ wages to equal the value of the commodities they produce, but since this would reduce their profits to nil, capitalists reject this solution. Consequently, they endeavour to solve their perennial market problem by exporting commodities. Since all the developed capitalist countries have a market problem, each tends to direct its export drive primarily towards less developed countries.
13. WHY DOES THE EXPORT OF COMMODITIES TEND TO LEAD TO THE EXPORT OF CAPITAL AND TO COLONIALISM?
Because an underdeveloped country is economically backwards, its population as a whole tends to be poor. Furthermore, its economy tends to be autarkic (that is, relatively self- contained). Consequently, an underdeveloped country provides a poor market for the surplus commodities from a developed capitalist country unless its economy is radically transformed. This is one reason why capitalist firms in developed capitalist countries ‘export capital’ to such underdeveloped countries, i.e,, invest it in the acquisition of large tracts of land for conversion into plantations or mines. They flood the underdeveloped country with cheap manufactured goods which ruin many of the native artisans (who still use handicraft methods which cannot compete with machine production). And if they can control the administration of the underdeveloped country—a process known as colonialism—they can force a large part of the peasantry from the land they traditionally held (for example, by imposing money taxes which can be met only from wages). These ruined artisans and landless peasants are compelled to seek employment at starvation wages in foreign-owned plantations or mines producing cheap raw materials and food for the developed capitalist countries (at a very high rate of profit for the firms involved—this providing a second important reason for the export of capital.
14. WHAT ARE SUPER-PROFITS?
Surplus value which a capitalist class obtains by the exploitation of workers outside its own country, particularly in underdeveloped colonial-type countries where the degree of civilisation (and so the value and price of labour power) is lower than in the developed capitalist country, so that the rate of profit is (often very considerably) higher.
15. WHAT IS A COLONY?
A colonial-type country which is administered directly by a developed capitalist country, e.g., Gibraltar, Northern Ireland.
16. WHAT IS A SEMI-COLONY?
A country which is nominally independent but is in fact dominated by a foreign power (e.g., Saudi Arabia).
17. SOME PEOPLE CLAIM THAT THE WORKING CLASS OF A DEVELOPED CAPITALIST COUNTRY AS A WHOLE SHARES IN THE EXPLOITATION OF COLONIAL-TYPE COUNTRIES. IS THIS TRUE?
No. Super-profits from the exploitation of the working people of colonial-type countries go to the capitalists of the developed capitalist countries concerned. While a small portion of these super-profits may be used to bribe a stratum of highly- paid workers (mainly the officials in the labour movement who act as agents of capital) the workers as a whole receive only the value of their labour power in wages and do not share in the super-profits. Nevertheless, the existence of the small stratum of workers bribed by imperialist super-profits (the so-called ‘labour aristocracy’) creates an objective split in the working class which complicates the development of the socialist movement. For the most part, however, the fact that the standard of living of the British workers has risen over the past hundred years is not because they receive in wages more than the value of their labour-power, but because the value of their labour- power has increased. A considerable part of the super-profits from colonial-type countries has been used to accumulate capital and mechanise production at home, so that productivity has risen and with it the ‘degree of civilisation’ which contributes to the determination of the value of labour power. In other words, total production has risen very considerably over the last century and the working class has been accorded a minor portion of this in the form of increased real wages. However, the share of total production received in wages by the working class has fallen, so that the exploitation of the British working class has increased over this period.
18. THE ECONOMIC TRANSFORMATION OF A COLONIAL-TYPE COUNTRY LIMITS IN TIME THE USEFULNESS OF THE COUNTRY TO THE DEVELOPED CAPITALIST COUNTRY CONCERNED. HOW DOES THIS COME ABOUT?
The capitalists of the dominating country need a stratum of well-educated native people to serve them as civil servants, office workers, etc., and these people become frustrated by the fact that the higher positions are reserved for representatives of the foreign dominating power. Furthermore, although the foreign capitalists try to limit capitalist development in the colonial-type country, they need railways, harbours, etc. in order to bring out raw materials and food from the country. This helps to bring about the development of a national capitalist class or national bourgeoisie which, although frustrated in many ways by the dominating foreign power (frustrations which assist in developing the political consciousness of the national bourgeoisie), develops a degree of native capitalist industry which competes with the export industries of the developed capitalist country. It also creates an industrial working class, small in size but relatively concentrated; this naturally gives rise to a labour movement, which begins to struggle for higher wages and better working conditions. In time, all these factors lead to the rise of a national liberation movement, led initially by the national bourgeoisie, the aim of which is to free the colonial-type country from the domination and exploitation of the foreign capitalsts.
19. HOW DO THE CAPITALISTS OF THE DOMINATING FOREIGN POWER RESPOND TO THE RISE OF A NATIONAL LIBERATION MOVEMENT?
First of all, by attempting to suppress it by force. Secondly, when the national liberation movement has attained a certain strength, by seeking to neutralise it by transferring poltical power nominally to a group of landlords and comprador capitalists who are dependent upon the foreign power for their ability to exploit the working people.
20. WHAT IS IMPERIALISM?
Imperialism is another name for monopoly capitalism or finance capitalism. A capitalist society has developed to the stage of imperialism when: 1) the concentration and centralisation of capital has proceeded to the point where it has created monopolies which play a decisive role in economic life; 2) the merging of bank and industrial capital has developed to the point where it has created, on the basis of finance capital, a financial oligarchy; 3) the export of capital, as distinct from the export of commodities, has become extremely important. On a world scale we must note the creation of international monopolies and the fact that, by 1914, all the underdeveloped countries of the world had been brought within the sphere of influence of one or another imperialist power, so that further imperialist expansion could only be at the expense of some other imperialist power.
CLASS FOUR : THE STATE AND THE ROAD TO SOCIALISM
1. WHAT IS THE STATE?
As we saw in Class One, essentially the machinery of force by which one social class rules over the rest of the people.
2. WHAT ARE THE PRINCIPAL ORGANS OF THE CONTEMPORARY BRITISH STATE?
The monarch, the House of Lords, the House of Commons, the judiciary, the prison service, the armed forces, the police, the security services, the civil service, the Church of England, the BBC, the post office, the National Health Service.
3. WHICH OF THESE FORM THE KEY ORGANS OF STATE?
The armed forces, the police and the security services. This is because the key issue in politics is always physical power, and it is these three organs which possess physical power in the state.
4. EXPLAIN WHAT IS MEANT BY THE STATEMENT: “‘PARLIAMENTARY DEMOCRACY’ IS A FALSE FACADE WHICH CONCEALS THE DICTATORSHIP OF THE CAPITALIST CLASS”.
British constitutional law lays down that supreme power is held, not by the House of Commons (the organ principally associated with the term ‘parliamentary democracy’) but by ‘The Queen in Parliament’, which is defined as the Queen together with the House of Lords and the House of Commons. This means that the legislative power of the House of Commons (at present the sole elected organ of Parliament) is subject to the approval in most cases of the House of Lords and in all cases by the Queen. Furthermore, legislation is subject to ‘interpretation’ by the judiciary and can only be put into effect with the cooperation of the heads of the civil service. However, the monarchy, the House of Lords, the judiciary and the heads of the civil service are not subject to democratic election. These posts are reserved for representatives of the capitalist class or the aristocracy (which has now merged with the capitalist class). Furthermore, the heads of the armed forces and security forces—key organs of state—are also drawn from the upper class, and constitutionally they owe allegiance not to ‘the people’ or the House of Commons, but to the Queen. They are thus available to be used in the Queen’s name to ‘defend the Constitution’ on behalf of the capitalist class. Thus, ‘parliamentary democracy’ is a false facade which conceals the real character of the state as machinery which embodies the dictatorship of the capitalist class. Parliament is thus no more than a ‘talking shop’, the function of which is to deceive the masses into believing that it is ‘their servant’.
5. IMAGINE THAT YOUR PARTY—A PARTY OF GENUINE SOCIALISTS—HAS WON A MAJORITY IN THE HOUSE OF COMMONS IN A GENERAL ELECTION. WHAT STEPS WOULD YOU TAKE TO INTRODUCE SOCIALISM CONSTITUTIONALLY?.
Even the posing of this question requires considerable imagination. For the development of electoral opinion to the point where a general election might occur would clearly take a considerable time and would not go unnoticed by the capitalist class. Since this class will obviously use every weapon in its power to preserve its wealth, power and exploiting ‘rights , — in the name, of couse, of preserving ‘freedom’ and ‘moral values’—it would obviously take steps prior to the election (alteration of electoral laws and boundaries, outright banning of your party as ‘subversive’ etc.) to try to prevent such an embarrassing electoral result. Let us assume, however, that as a result of some miracle of stupidity the capitalist class fails to take such preventive action. Your party must then hope that the Queen will invite the leader of your party to form a government. It has long been customary for the monarch to invite the leader of the party with the largest number of seats in the House of Commons to become Prime Minister, but there is no constitutional obligation on her to do so. Let us assume, however, that she takes this step and that the leader of your party selects his provisional Cabinet. Before these can take office as Ministers, they are required by constitutional law to take an oath of allegiance to the Queen. Since your party’s electoral programme must have included pledges to abolish the undemocratic monarchy, the arrest of these Ministers on charges of perjury will be perfectly legitimate. And when sufficient of your MPs have been, quite legally, imprisoned, your party will no longer have a majority in the House. Let us therfore assume another miracle—that the capitalist class is too stupid to take constitutional measures to prevent your party from taking office and that it introduces legislation to socialise the principal means of production. Such legislation can only be adopted with the approval of the House of Lords and the Queen (the latter can hold up legislation indefinitely), so that further miracles have to be imagined for your socialist programme to be put into legislation. The capitalists may then appeal to the courts to rule that such legislation is unlawful, and a further miracle is required to make the upper class judges rule in favour of the socialist government. Furthermore, the putting into effect of this socialist legislation requires the cooperation of the heads of the civil service, who are also drawn from the upper class, so that their cooperation would require a further miracle. One must also assume yet another miracle. Constitutionally, the armed forces—the heads of which are also drawn from the upper class—may in case of ’emergency’ at the request of the monarch establish martial law and rule dictatorially That reactionary military coups are not confined to distant countries was shown by the infamous Curragh Mutiny of 1914, which led to the partition of Ireland. Another miracle has, therefore, to be imagined to render the monarch and the armed forces inactive in this respect. Such a wholesale series of miracles does not occur in real life, and it is clear that the concept of a constitutional transition to socialism is absurd.
6. WHAT IS A POLITICAL PARTY?
An organisation which serves the political interests of a social class (or of a section of such a class).
7. THE BRITISH PARLIAMENTARY SYSTEM HAS BEEN DESCRIBED AS ESSENTIALLY ‘A TWO-PARTY SYSTEM’. WHAT IS THE SIGNIFICANCE OF THIS?.
The system is designed to give the electorate at an election a choice between two large parties. Both parliamentary parties (i.e., the collective MPs of each party) declare that they are not bound by decisions of their party conference, and both support the maintenance of a capitalist society. Thus, after an election, one of these parties forms Her Majesty’s Government and the other forms Her Majesty’s Opposition. When, after a period, a majority of the electors become dissatified with the government, this may be replaced at an election by the other party without any disturbance to the capitalst system. The two-party system deliberately places great obstacles in the way of smaller parties: large deposits are forfeit where a candidate fails to obtain a certain proportion of the vote; there is no proportional representation, so that a party can obtain 49% of the national vote without securing the election of a single MP; TV propaganda is restricted to parties putting up a certain number of candidates: electors who are dissatisfied with both parties often vote for the one they regard as ‘the lesser evil’ on the grounds that it is impossible for a smaller party which they in fact support to form a government so that a vote for it would be ‘wasted’ and might even assist ‘the greater evil’ to win the election by ‘splitting the vote’. British ‘parliamentary democracy’ is clearly designed, as Marx expressed it, to give the electorate merely a choice as to which group of capitalist politicians shall misrepresent them for the next five years.
8. ANALYSE THE STATEMENT: ‘THE BRITISH STATE IS A ‘WELFARE STATE’
It must be remembered first that the social services had their origin, not in ‘humanitarian concern’ on the part of capitalists for their working people, but in the spread of epidemics from the slums to upper class residential quarters and in the discovery at the time of the Boer war that 50% of working class recruits to the army were medically unfit for military service. Experience, therefore, forced the capitalists to realise long ago that the state, as the machinery of their rule, had to take such action in the field of social welfare as would ensure that the workers had the minimum of health necessary to produce surplus value for them and to fight in their wars. This principle having been accepted, the aim of the capitalist class has been to keep the level of social services down to the minimum necessary to fulfil this purpose—in particular, to see that benefits are significantly lower than average wages and that the working class itself pays for the social services it receives (by means of taxation, insurance contributions, etc.) out of wages, in many cases after a degrading ‘means test’. These points have, of course, been influenced by the class struggle of the working class, but statistics show that the average working class family pays considerably more in taxation, contributions, etc., than it receives in terms of all the social services combined.
9. WHAT IS NATIONALISATION?
The taking over by the state of an enterprise previously under private ownership.
10. IS NATIONALISATION IN A CAPITALIST SOCIETY A SOCIALIST MEASURE?
Since the state in a capitalist society is the machinery of rule of the capitalist class, nationalisation in a capitalist society is in no way a socialist measure. It represents merely the transfer of an enterprise from ownership by a single capitalist to ownership by the capitalist class as a whole. The most reactionary governments have carried out measures of nationalsation, affecting principally the fields of communications and fuel, which serve the capitalist class as a whole (e.g., the post office, railways, airlines, gas, coal, electricity, etc.). The motive for nationalisation is to provide a cheap and efficient service in these fields for the benefit of the capitalist class as a whole, and nationalisation is usually carried out where private enterprise is using monopoly power to charge excessive rates to other capitalist firms or where private enterprise appears to be no longer capable of providing a reasonably efficient service in some field essential to the capitalist class as a whole. When an enterprise is nationalised by the capitalist state, the former owners are usually generously compensated with interest-bearing state bonds, which enable them to continue to exploit the working class with their profits guaranteed by the state. The boards which manage such nationalised industries are dominated by members of the capitalist class (often, indeed, by their former owners, who then receive directors’ fees in addition to interest). Thus, as workers in nationalised industries know from their own experience, the class struggle continues within them, but it is now necessary for the workers concerned to struggle not against a single private management, but against the capitalist state.
11. WHAT IS STATE MONOPOLY CAPITALISM?
With the development of monopoly capitalism, of imperialism, the state comes to be less and less the machinery of rule of the capitalist class as a whole, and to become increasingly subordinated to the dominant clique of monopoly capitalists, to become the state machine of the financial oligarchy. The imperialist stage of development of capitalism also sees a great expansion of the state apparatus, both in the field of physical power and in that of the regulation of economic, political and cultural life. This expansion is not ‘socialist’ in character. It is undertaken in the interests of monopoly capital, and Marxist- Leninists call this development by the name of state monopoly capitalism.
12. WHAT IS A CORPORATE STATE?
A concept of the state originally put forward by right-wing Catholic politicians. Its official aim is ‘to abolish the class struggle’ (in fact, of course, to repress it) by abolishing free collective bargaining between trade unions and employers’ organisations. In a corporate state, ‘negotiations’ on wages, working conditions, etc., are carried out by ‘corporations’, composed of represenatives of the employers and of the state, together with ‘workers’ representatives’. Moves by British governments to restrict free collective bargaining must be seen as moves in the direction of a corporate state, while propaganda in favour of ‘workers’ representation in industry’ or ‘workers’ control’ must be seen as pseudo-leftist propaganda directed towards the establishment of a corporate state.
13. WHAT IS FASCISM?
The open, terroristic dictatorship of a reactionary class (usually of monopoly capital) exercised through a para-military political party. The name is derived from the ‘fasces’ or bundle of sticks, the emblem of the Roman Empire which was taken over by the Italian fascists. A fascist party is recruited principally from reactionary elements among the petty-bourgeoisie and lumpen-proletariat (degenerate, petty criminal strata of the working class). It is financed, as the situation demands, by capital and armed (usually unofficially) by their armed forces. A fascist party directs its appeal demagogically to the most politically backward strata of the working people (calling itself by such names as ‘national socialist’) and of the petty bourgeoisie (claiming to be, for example, ‘against monopoly’), but its main propaganda is based on appeal to racist and nationalist prejudices. Its function is to try to smash by force the organisations of the working class, and to replace the facade of ‘parliamentary democracy’ by an open dictatorship which strives to exert repressive control over every sphere of social life (totalitarianism) Within this dictatorship, the fascist party rules dictatorially (often in the name of an ‘infallible leader’) on behalf of the dominant class.
14. SINCE SOCIALISM CANNOT BE ESTABLISHED THROUGH ‘PARLIAMENTARY DEMOCRACY’, HOW CAN IT BE ESTABLISHED?
Only by socialist revolution, which requires the working class to build its own machinery of force, strong enough to defeat and destroy the machinery of force of the capitalist class.
15. ARE THERE CIRCUMSTANCES UNDER WHICH THE WORKING CLASS COULD ACHIEVE THE TRANSITION TO SOCIALISM PEACEFULLY?
This could occur, and has occurred, only in very exceptional circumstances—where the capitalist class is temporarily without an effective state machinery of force capable of resisting seizure of political power by the working class (as in Finland and Hungary at the end of the First World War). In theory, such a peaceful transition could occur in a country where the capitalist class possesses a state machinery of force, but finds itself isolated from foreign assistance and facing a working class machinery of force so overwhelmingly powerful as to make violent resistance appear pointless. In such circumstances the possibility could exist of peacefully ‘buying out’ the capitalist class. This theoretical possibility of peaceful transition to socialism makes it clear that the stronger the machinery of revolutionary force built up by the working class, the greater is the possibility—it is no more—of a peaceful transition.
CLASS FIVE : THE PARTY OF THE WORKING CLASS
1. WHAT IS REFORMISM?
The trend in the labour movement which seeks to limit the aims of the working class to securing piecemeal social reforms within the framework of capitalism. In practice, reformism rejects the concept of class antagonism between the working class and the capitalist class, and preaches that social reform can be brought about gradually by a policy of class collaboration of the working class with the capitalist class. The great majority of the leaders of the British labour movement have long been reformist. Their practice of class collaboration has led them to become unprincipled opponents of any militant action on the part of the workers. Taken in conjunction with their aim of bringing about social reforms only within capitalist society, it necessarily leads them to support such policies as may be necessary to make capitalism function profitably. Their resultant role as lieutenants of the capitalist class within the labour movement is demonstrated daily.
2. WHAT IS FABIANISM?
The theoretical basis of reformism in Britain, elaborated by intellectuals of the Fabian Society such as the sociologists Sidney and Beatrice Webb and the author George Bernard Shaw. The name is derived fron the Roman general Fabius Cunctator (‘The Delayer’), who developed a military theory of guerilla war against a more powerful enemy. Fabianism holds that a capitalist society can be transformed into a socialist society without violent opposition from the capitalst class if the transformation is brought about in sufficiently small steps. In consequence, any proposed social reform which arouses the violent opposition of the capitalist class is ‘too drastic’ for the Fabians and must be postponed. But since any proposed social reform which would make a serious inroad into capitalist society would arouse the violent hostility of the capitalist class, the logical consequence of acceptance of Fabianism is to postpone any radical reform to the indefinite future.
3, IT IS OBVIOUS THAT THE VIEW THAT THE WORKING CLASS CAN GAIN MORE BY PURSUING A POLICY OF CLASS COLLABORATION THAN BY PURSUING A POLICY OF CLASS STRUGGLE IS AN ILLUSION. NEVERTHELESS, IF THE WORKING CLASS HAD MADE NO GAINS DURING THE PERIOD OF THE DOMINANCE OF REFORMISM IN THE BRITISH LABOUR MOVEMENT THIS ILLUSION WOULD HAVE BEEN DISCARDED LONG AGO. THE BASIS FOR THE MAINTENANCE OF REFORMISM HAS BEEN REAL GAINS BY THE WORKING CLASS. WHAT HAS BEEN THE SOURCE OF THESE REAL GAINS?
The first workers’ organisations in Britain (before 1815) were militant and socialist (and illega). But Britain beceme the first industrialised country in the world—the ‘workshop of the world’—and as a result the British capitalist class was able, at a relatively early date, to build up ‘an Empire on which the sun never sets’! From about 1850, they began to use a small portion of the vast super-profits flowing in from Britain’s colonies and semi-colonies to ‘bribe’ an upper stratum of skilled craftsmen by paying them slightly above the value of their labour-power. It was out of this labour aristocracy that a new kind of trade unionism grew—the ‘New Model Unions’—which rejected class struggle and socialist aims and confined their activities to collective bargaining on questions of pay, working hours, etc. It must be said, however, that the larger portion of these super-profits was used for the accumulation of capital, giving rise to a large increase in productivity, in the ‘degree of civilisation’ existing in Britain, and so in the value of labour- power. The real gains accruing to the working class in Britain over the past hundred years—gains which have furnished the basis for the illusion of reformism—have been due primarily to the rise in the value of labour power, and to the fact that the adjustment of wage-levels embodying this rise, have, for the most part, been carried out through reformist negotiating machinery. The real gains of the working class in Britain over the past hundred years have thus been due indirectly to the exploitation of the working people of the colonial-type countries by the British capitalist class. However, despite the rise in the real wages of the British working class over this period, the rate of exploitation of the British workers has significantly increased. And had it not been for ‘unofficial’ class struggle outside the reformist negotiating machinery, the rate of exploitation would have increased still more. It must be emphasised that at no time has the mass of the British working class shared directly in colonial-type super- profits. ‘Bribery’ of this kind has never affected more than a small upper sratum of the working class, and today, after the decline of British imperialism since World War Two, the ‘labour aristocracy’ consists principally of the bureaucracy of the labour movement.
4. WE HAVE SEEN THAT A POLITICAL PARTY IS AN ORGANISATION WHICH SERVES THE POLITICAL INTERESTS OF A SOCIAL CLASS, OR PART OF A SOCIAL CLASS. WHAT CLASS INTERESTS ARE SERVED BY THE CONSERVATIVE PARTY?
The Consverative Party is the more-or-less open party of British monopoly capital, of British big business. Insofar as working people are concerned, it directs its electoral appeal primarily to working people whose level of class consciousness is so low that they identify their interests with those of big business and the aristocracy.
5. WHAT CLASS INTERESTS ARE SERVED BY THE LIBERAL DEMOCRATS?
The Liberal Democrats stand for the maintenance of capitalist society and are hostile to the trade unions; they thus objectively serve the interests of monopoly capital. However, by their criticism of the Conservative Party and of monopoly, they direct their electoral appeal to working people who, while supporting capitalism and regarding the Labour Party as ‘too extreme’, are uneasy about the development of monopoly and recognise the Conservative Party as openly serving the interests of monopoly capital.
6. WHAT CLASS INTERESTS ARE SERVED BY THE LABOUR PARTY?
Founded ostensibly to give working people a ‘voice’ in Parliament, the Labour Party was, in fact, never a party which served the interests of the working class, for such a party needs to be a revolutionary socialist party, based on Marxist-Leninist principles. Anti-Marxist from its inception, the Labour Party preached the reformist theory that the state is a neutral apparatus which the working class could use to serve its interests by gaining a majority in Parliament. Their Fabian ideology led Labour Governments to operate along lines calculated to make capitalism work profitably during the (infinitely long) period of gradual piecemeal social reform. Despite the fact, therefore, that its membership is drawn mainly from working people and that trade unions are affiliated to it, the Labour Party objectively serves the interests of monopoly capital. In the past, it presented itself as a party which served the interests of working people, and it directed its electoral appeal primarily towards working people with just sufficient class consciousness to recognise the existence of the class struggle and, in consequence, the need for working people to have a ‘workers’ party’. Its image as a ‘workers’ party’ enabled it, when in office, to introduce anti-working class legislation with significantly less opposition from workers than if such measures had been adopted by a Conservative government. However, in the new situation following the temporary liquidation of the international communist movement, ‘New Labour’, under the leadership of Tony Blair, has felt itself able to repudiate all pretence of being a workers’ party’, and claims to represent the interests of the whole people, specifically including business. The Labour Party forms at present the principal reserve party of monopoly capital, a party which can safely be permitted to form a government at times when the Conservative Party has lost electoral support.
7. WHAT CLASS INTERESTS ARE SERVED BY THE SOCIALIST LABOUR PARTY?
The Socialist Labour Party, headed by miners’ leader Arthur Scargill, is a new party which has taken over the mantle of ‘Old Labour’ from ‘New Labour’. Although its declared policies are more progresssive than those of ‘New Labour’, not being a Marxist- Leninist revolutionary party it cannot serve the true interests of working people. Indeed, it can only serve to divert working people from the true path of revolutionary socialism. Objectively,therefore, it serves the interests of monopoly capital, and its honest members must, sooner or later, become disillusioned in it.
8. WHAT IS REVISIONISM?
The revision of Marxism-Leninism, under the pretence of ‘creatively developing it to meet changed conditions’, in such a way as to pervert it to serve the interests of a capitalist class. The publication in 1951 of ‘The British Road to Socialism’—which preached that socialism could be established in Britain through ‘parliamentary democracy’—marked the open transition of the Communist Party of Great Britain from Marxism-Leninism to revisionism. After the death of Stalin in 1953, revisionism became openly dominant in the great majority of parties which had formed the international communist movement and, under the leadership of revisionist parties, an essentially capitalist system was restored in the Soviet Union and in most countres of Eastern Europe.
9. WHAT CLASS INTERESTS ARE SERVED BY THE COMMUNIST PARTY OF BRITAIN?
The Communist Party of Britain represents a revival of the Communist Party of Great Britain. (NOTE: After the dissolution of the CPGB, the name was taken over by an essentially Trotsykist group). It carries forward the revisionist policies adopted by this party and put forward in ‘The British Road to Socialism’. In other words, having abandoned the principles of Marxism- Leninism, it rejects the need for the working class to overthrow the capitalist state in a socialist revolution, and preaches the illusion of a peaceful, parliamentary road to socialism. Since it seeks to divert working people away from organising for socialist revolution—the only road to socialism—the CPB objectively serves the interests of monopoly capital.
10. WHAT IS TROTSKYISM?
The organised presentation of policies which objectively serve the interests of monopoly capital, disguised under a cloak of pseudo-Left, pseudo-Marxist, phraseology. In particular, it rejects the Marxist-Leninist principle that the socialist revolution comes to fruition at different times in different countries. The father-figure of Trotskyism, the Russian revisionist Leon Trotsky, fought against Lenin’s policy of building a disciplined workers’ party and of building an alliance with the peasantry, fought against Lenin’s and Stalin’s policy of building socialism in one country. Finally, behind the backs of its supporters, Trotskyism collaborated with the intelligence services of imperialist states with the aim of overthrowing the political power of the working class in the Soviet Union. With the triumph of revisionism in the international communist movement and the acceptance by the revisionists of Trotskyism’s slanders against the Soviet state, Trotskyism has, in the absence of genuine Marxist-Leninist Parties in most countries, gained some temporary successes in influencing militant intellectuals and students.
11. IS A MARXIST-LENINIST PARTY NECESSARY TO BRING ABOUT A SOCIALIST REVOLUTION?
Yes, it is essential. We have seen that socialism cannot be established without the building by the working class of a machinery of force capable of seizing political power from and defeating the machinery of force of the capitalist class. But just as an army cannot wage a successful war without a General Staff to lead and coordinate its military ativity, so the ‘army’ of the working class cannot lead to victory a revolutionary war against the forces of the capitalist state without its own ‘General Staff’ to lead it and coordinate its activity. This vanguard oganisation of the working class cannot be a political party of the old type of the Labour Party, which is designed for electoral/parliamentary activity within the framework of ‘parliamentary democracy’. It must be ‘a party of a new type’, organised in such a way as to enable it to fulfil its role as revolutionary vanguard of the working class. It must be a party guided by the compass of Marxism-Leninism.
12. WHAT IS DEMOCRATIC CENTRALISM, AND WHY DO MARXIST-LENINIST PARTIES NEED TO ORGANISE THEMSELVES ON ITS PRINCIPLE?
In order to lead an army to victory, its General Staff must put forward a single line of action to the troops. If different generals were to put forward different lines of action, their army would surely be defeated. A Marxist-Leninist Party must, therefore, be based upon unity of will, and this is obtained by means of the organisational principle of centralism: that is, decisions of higher organs are binding upon lower organs and upon every Party member, while decisions of majorities are binding upon minorities. This centralism must, however, be democratic, not autocratic. There must be freedom of discussion and criticism at all levels, the right to send statements to higher organs, and all higher organs must be democratically elected, directly or indirectly, by the membership. Members elect to higher organs those of their comrades whom they believe to have the highest political level, the highest class and Party loyalty, and they agree to accept their leadership—unless and until they cease to have such confidence, when the leaders may be, and should be, removed by the same democratic process.
13. WHAT ARE 1) STRATEGY, 2) TACTICS?
Strategy is the determination of the direction of the main blow which the working class should strive to strike at a given stage of the revolutionary process. Tactics is the determination of the line of action which the working class should take in a particular immediate short-term situation. While the aim of tactics is to win a particular battle, the aim of strategy is to win the war.
14. WHAT IS THE LABOUR MOVEMENT?
The various mass organisations composed of working people. The trade unions are organisations of working people in their capacity as employees. The cooperative societies are organisations of working people in their capacity as consumers. The Labour Party, the Communist Party of Britain, and the Socialist Labour Party are organisations of working people in their capacity as electors.
15. WHAT SHOULD BE THE RELATION OF THE MARXIST-LENINIST PARTY TO THESE MASS ORGANISATIONS OF THE LABOUR MOVEMENT?
Although these organisations—by reason of their leadership, policies and dominant ideologies—serve essentially the interests of monopoly capital, they are composed of working people—and of working people of a somewhat higher political level than those who yet remain outside the labour movement. It is these working people who are destined to change the social system to one of socialism. Marxist-Leninists must, therefore, work within the trade unions and cooperative societies, where they must participate in, and strive to win the leadership of, the day-to-day struggles of the working people. Thir aim must be to demonstrate, by devoted and selfless struggle on bahalf of the working people, that they are the most active fighters for their interests; to win their confidence; and, by patient principled work, to expose the reactionary leaders of these organisations and bring about their replacement by leaders who are loyal to the working people. Only if such removal proves impossible, and is seen to be impossible by the mass of the rank-and-file (because the leaders succeed in using their control of the organisation’s machinery to prevent the operation of internal democracy), is it correct to draw the honest rank-and-file into new independent organisations freed from the control of the labour lieutenants of the capitalist class. Experience shows that the masses cannot be convinced of the need to take the revolutionary road to socialism by means of propaganda and agitation alone. The strategy of Marxist-Leninists must be designed to lead these masses in their day-to-day struggles in such a way as to raise their political consciousness as a result of their own experience in struggle, and in the same way to win acceptance of the leadership of the Marxist-Leninist Party among the working people as their vanguard organistion and to draw the most politically advanced working people into the ranks of the Party.
CLASS SIX : THE NATIONAL QUESTION
1. WHAT IS A NATION?
“A historically constituted, stable community of people, formed on the basis of a common language, territory, economic life and psychological make-up, manifested in a common culture.” —J. V. Stalin A community which lacks any of these characteristics is not a nation.
2. HOW DOES A NATION DEVELOP?
The development of a community to nationhood proceeds through three fundamental stages: The first stage is that of the tribe, based on a union of related clans. Tribalism is the characteristic form of social organisation under primitive communism. As the tribal community disintegrates with the development of tools and techniques, tribes come together into federations and kingdoms; a common language, based on one of the tribal languages, emerges. This process leads to the development of the second stage of the development of a community, that of the pre- nation or nationality. A pre-nation or nationality is a community based no longer on blood relationship, but on geographical location. It has a common language, a common territory and a common culture, but does not possess economic cohesion in the form of a common market. A pre-nation is the characteristic form of social organisation under slavery and feudalism. With the development of capitalism within the framework of feudal society, the development of pre-national characteristics is accelerated and, alongside this, the process of establishing economic cohesion, a common market, throughout the territory of the pre-nation. This latter process transforms the pre-nation into a nation.
3. WHAT IS MEANT BY THE TERM ‘THE RIGHT OF NATIONS TO SELF- DETERMINATION’?
The nations of the world are divided into oppressed and oppressing nations. An oppressed nation is one dominated, openly or in a concealed manner, by an oppressing nation for the benefit of the ruling class of the latter; it is, therefore, not free to determine its own destiny. When Marxist-Leninists say that they recognise the right of an oppressed nation to self-determination, they mean that they recognise the right of an oppressed nation to establishj its complete independence, and recognise the struggle of an oppressed nation to establish its independence from an oppressing nation to be a just struggle which they support.
4. WHAT IS A COLONIAL-TYPE COUNTRY?
A country which is industrially under-developed and is dominated economically, and perhaps also politically, by a greater power.
5. WHAT KINDS OF COLONIAL-TYPE COUNTRIES ARE THERE?
A colonial-type country may be: 1) a colony, under the open, direct political rule of a dominating power, e.g., Gibraltar, Northern Ireland; 2) a semi-colony, nominally independent, but in reality dominated by a greater power for the benefit of the latter’s ruling class, e.g, Colombia, Saudi Arabia; or 3) a neo-colony, a former colony which has become a semi- colony, continuing to be dominated by a greater power for the benefit of the latter’s ruling class, e.g., Tunisia, Jamaica.
6. WHAT IS NATIONALISM?
The ideology which puts forward the view that: a) a particular nation is superior to other nations; and b) that the interests of this nation should be of paramount political importance for all its members.
7. IS NATIONALISM PROGRESSIVE OR REACTIONARY?
Where a nation is in process of formaton, nationalism may temporarily play a limited progressive role. However, once the capitalist class has become the ruling class of the nation, nationalism plays a wholly reactionary role. It falsely presents the interests of the ruling, exploiting class as equivalent to ‘the interests of the nation’, seeking in this way to persuade the working class to abandon its class struggle against exploitation and for the establishment of a socialist society ‘in the interests of the nation’—in fact, in the interests of the capitalist class. Nationalism also plays a reactionary role in so far as it serves to create in the minds of workers of a particular nation a subjective antagonism towards the workers of other nations, who are objectively their allies in the struggle for a socialist world.
8. HOW MANY NATIONS ARE THERE IN THE BRITISH ISLES?
Two, the British and Irish nations. For geographical and ethnic reasons, the development of nations in the British Isles took place in four distinct regions: in Ireland, Scotland, Wales and England. But before the Scottish, Welsh and English nations could complete their development into nations, the influence of the rising capitalist class brought about the economic, political and cultural unification of these pre-nations into a single British nation. By the time of the bourgeois revolution of the 17th century, the British capitalist class had become the leading force in the class alliance ruling Britain. Although remnants of pre-national distinctions in language and culture still survive in parts of Britain, it constitutes a single economic system, a single market and a single nation with, for the most part, a single language and a single culture. In Ireland, however, separated from Britain by a sea barrier, the development of the Irish nation proceeded independently, without fusion with the pre-nations developing across the Irish Sea. With the development of capitalism, the Irish nation came into existence. The Irish nation is an oppressed nation The northern counties are under the direct colonial rule of British imperialism. whie the southern counties (the Irish Republic) form a neo-colony of British imperialism. Marxist-Leninists uphold the right of the Irish nation to unification and independence.
9. WHAT IS THE SIGNIFICANCE OF ‘SCOTTISH NATIONALISM’ AND ‘WELSH NATIONALISM’?
Since the peoples of Scotland and Wales do not constitute nations, but form part of the Britsh nation, both ‘Scottish nationalism’ and ‘Welsh nationalism’ are spurious. Objectively, Scottish and Welsh ‘nationalisms’ serve the interests of British imperialism, since they place the blame for the exploitation of the working people of Scotand and Wales on an imaginary enemy, the ‘English imperialists’. Scottish and Welsh ‘nationalisms’ serve the interests of British imperialism by seeking to divide the working people of Scotland and Wales from their fellow-workers in England, suggesting that (as members of ‘oppressed nations’) they have a common interest with capitalists in Scotland and Wales. Nevertheless, while recognising that the peoples of Scotland, Wales and England form a single British nation, Marxist-Leninist support autonomy for these territories in the form of devolution as a democratic measure.
10. WHAT IS RACISM?
The view that people of one degree of skin pigmentation are superior or inferior to people of another degree. Because of the history of imperialism, the most common form of racism is ‘white racism’, which holds that people with ‘white’ skins are superior to those with ‘black’ skins. The imperialists, who form a tiny minority of the world’s population, can maintain their domination over the working people of the world only on the basis of ‘divide and rule’. Consequently, they seek to set white against black, Christian against Muslim, manual worker against intellectual worker, young against old, and so on. All forms of racism, which seek to set people of one race against people of another, serve the interests of the imperialists. Black racism, although to some extent a reaction against white racism, complements the former. Both white racists and black racists oppose the building of an anti-imperialist united front embracing the working people of the imperialist countries and those of the colonial-type countries which is essential to destroy imperialism.
11. THE REVOLUTIONARY PROCESS IN A DEVELOPED CAPITALIST COUNTRY CONSISTS OF A SINGLE STAGE—THAT OF SOCIALIST REVOLUTION. THE REVOLUTIONARY PROCESS IN A COLONIAL-TYPE COUNTRY CONSISTS OF TWO STAGES. WHAT ARE THEY?
Firstly, the stage of national-democratic revolution, of national liberation, directed against foreign domination; Secondly, the stage of socialist revolution.
12. THE CAPITALIST CLASS IN A COLONIAL-TYPE COUNTRY CONSISTS OF TWO SECTIONS. WHAT ARE THEY?
Firstly, the comprador capitalists (involved particularly in finance and commerce) who are dependent upon the dominating foreign power and have an objective interest in supporting it; and secondly, the national capitalists (particularly those involved in industry) whose interests and advancement are frustrated by the dominating foreign power and who therefore have an objective interest in ending foreign domination.
13. WHAT SOCIAL CLASSES IN A COLONIAL-TYPE COUNTRY HAVE AN OBJECTIVE INTEREST IN 1) OPPOSING AND 2) SUPPORTING NATIONAL- DEMOCRATIC REVOLUTION?
The landlord class and the comprador capitalist class have an objective interest in opposing national-democratic revolution. The national capitalists, the middle and poor peasantry, the urban petty bourgeoisie and the working class have an objective interest in supporting it.
14. WHAT SOCIAL CLASSES IN A COLONIAL-TYPE COUNTRY HAVE AN OBJECTIVE INTEREST IN 1) OPPOSING AND 2) SUPPORTING SOCIALIST REVOLUTION?
The landlord class, the urban and rural capitalist class and the better-off strata of the urban petty bourgeoisie, have an objective interest in opposing the socialist revolution. The poorer strata of the peasantry, the poorer strata of the urban petty bourgeoisie, and the working class have an objective interest in supporting it.
15. WHY DO MARXIST-LENINISTS, WHOSE FUNDAMENTAL AIM IS TO BRING ABOUT A SOCIALIST REVOLUTION, SUPPORT A NATIONAL-DEMOCRATIC REVOLUTION IN A COLONIAL-TYPE COUNTRY AS THE FIRST STAGE IN THE REVOLUTIONARY PROCESS THERE?
Because the national-democratic revolution enables certain class forces opposed to the socialist revolution (the landlords and comprador capitalists) to be defeated by a wider coalition of classes than those which stand to gain by the socialist revolution.
16. WHAT, THEN, IS THE MARXIST-LENINIST STRATEGY IN RELATION TO THE NATIONAL-DEMOCRATIC REVOLUTION IN A COLONIAL-TYPE COUNTRY?
To support it as an essential preliminary stage in the revolutionary process in a colonial-type country; to strive to build the broadest possible united front embracing all social classes which have an objective interst in supporting the national-democratic revolution; to strive to win leadership by the working class of this anti-imperialist united front, and the leadersip of the working class by the Marxist-Leninist Party: to strive to transform the national-democratic revolution uninterruptedly into a socialist revolution. The Trotskyist slogan in a colonial-type country of ‘Socialism Now’, which seeks to skip over an essential stage in the revolution, objectively assists the enemies of socialism.
17. WHAT ARE THE AIMS OF THE NATIONAL CAPITALISTS IN A COLONIAL- TYPE COUNTRY IN RELATION TO THE NATIONAL-DEMOCRATIC REVOLUTION?
To strive to lead the national-democratic revolution and to hold the revolutionary process at this stage so as to establish a capitalist state in which they, the national capitalists, hold political power and exploit the working people for themselves. In a colonial-type country where there is a developed working class led by a Marxist-Leninist Party, a class struggle takes place during the development of the national-democratic revolution between the working class and the national capitalist class for leadership of the revolutionary process. If the working class is seen to be winning this leadership, the national capitalists will inevitably desert the national-democratic revolution and go over to the side of counter-revolution—preferring a subordinate position as exploiters to the complete loss in a socialist revolution of their ‘right’ to exploit.
18. WHAT IS MAOISM?
The character of Maoism is the subject of much debate. Some people hold that Maoism—named after the Chinese leader Mao Tse-tung—is a development of Marxism-Leninism. Others hold that it is, at least in part, a revisionist deviation from Marxism-Leninism. Still others hold that it is a brand of revisionism for colonial-type countries, designed to hold up the revolutionary process in such countries at the stage of national- democratic revolution. The character of Maoism should be debated during the discussion.
19. WHAT IS PROLETARIAN INTERNATIONALISM?
The opposite of bourgeois nationalism, it emphasises the brotherhood and common interests of the working people of all countries and the need for their solidarity in action and organisation. It is exemplified in the Marxist-Leninist slogan: ‘WORKERS OF ALL LANDS, UNITE!’.
CLASS SEVEN : WAR
1. WHAT IS WAR?
Fighting between considerable bodies of armed men (not necessarily between states: it may be, for example, between tribes).
2. WHAT IS CIVIL WAR?
Civil war is war within the same state.
3. WHAT ARE THE MAIN DIFFERENCES BETWEEN THE ATTITUDE TOWARDS WAR OF PACIFISTS AND THAT OF MARXIST-LENINISTS?
Firstly, pacifists condemn all wars. Marxist-Leninists are fully conscious of the human suffering caused by war, strive to prevent the outbreak of a Third World War, and work to establish a social system which will make war impossible. Nevertheless, they distinguish between ‘just’ wars (which they support) and ‘unjust’ wars (which they oppose). “There have been many wars in history which, despite all the horrors, cruelties, miseries, and tortures inevitably connected with every war, had a progressive character, i.e., they served the development of mankind, aided in the destruction of extremely pernicious and reactionary institutions”. (V. I. Lenin: ‘Socialism and War’; London; 1940; p. 9). “Socialists cannot, without ceasing to be Socialists, be opposed to all wars”. (V. I. Lenin: ‘Pacifism and the Workers’, in: ‘War and the Workers’; London; 1940; p. 29). Secondly, while pacifists adopt a policy of conscientious objection to participating in war, Marxist-Leninists participate even in the most unjust war in order to win the workers in uniform to a policy of mass opposition to the war: “Boycott the war is an absurd phrase—Communists must go to any reactionary war”. (V. I. Lenin: ‘Notes on the Question of the Tasks of Our Delegation at The Hague’, in: ‘The Attitude of the Proletariat towards War’; London; 1932; p. 12). “An oppressed class which does not strive to learn to use arms, to acquire arms, deserves to be treated like slaves. . . . What will proletarian women do . . .? Only curse all war and everything military, only demand disarmament? The women of an oppressed class that is really revolutionary will never consent to play such a shameful role. They will say to their sons: ‘You will soon be a man. You will be given a gun. Take it and learn to use it. The proletarians need this knowledge, not to shoot your brothers, the workers of other countries . . ., but to fight poverty and war, not by means of good intentions, but by vanquishing the bourgeoisie and disarming it”. (V. I. Lenin: ‘Pacifism and the Workers’, in: ‘War and the Workers’; London; 1940; p. 34-35).
4. ‘IT IS THE INHERENT AGGRESSIVENESS OF MAN WHICH IS THE CAUSE OF WAR’—TEXTBOOK OF PSYCHOLOGY. COMMENT.
Were this true, it would not be necessary for any government to impose conscription. In fact, war is the pursuit of political aims by violent means, and these political aims have an economic basis.
5. ON WHAT BASIS DO MARXIST-LENINISTS DISTINGUISH BETWEEN JUST AND UNJUST WARS?
By analysing the effect which the victory of each belligerent in a war would have on the development of society. If its victory would exert a progressive influence upon the development of society, that belligerent is fighting a just war. If its victory would exert a reactionary influence upon the development of society, that belligerent is fighting an unjust war. Since the dominant feature of the contemporary world is imperialism, monopoly capitalism, a non-imperialist state of any kind which is involved in war with an imperialist state is fighting a just war, since its war effort weakens world imperialism, while the imperialist belligerent state is fighting an unjust war, since its war effort strengthens world imperialism. A war may be just on one side and unjust on the other, or it may be unjust on both sides.
6. WHAT IS AN IMPERIALIST WAR?
A war between rival imperialist powers (or blocs includng imperialist powers) for the redivision of the world.
7. WHAT IS THE CHARACTER OF AN IMPERIALIST WAR?
Since the victory of either side would merely strengthen one imperialist group at the expense of another, and would not weaken world imperialism as a whole, it is unjust on both sides.
8. WHAT IS A WAR OF NATIONAL LIBERATION?
The war of an oppressed nation to secure its freedom from the domination of an oppressing nation (today almost always an imperialist power).
9. WHAT IS THE CHARACTER OF A WAR OF NATIONAL LIBERATION?
Since imperialism is the principal oppressing force in the contemporary world, the victory of the oppressed nation would weaken world imperialism, while the victory of the oppressing nation would strengthen world imperialism. A war of national liberation is, therefore, just on the part of the oppressed nation, unjust on the part of the oppressing nation.
10. WHAT WAS THE CHARACTER OF THE FIRST WORLD WAR OF 1914-18?
It was an imperialist war, unjust on both sides.
11. WERE THERE, NEVERTHELESS, JUST, PROGRESSIVE ELEMENTS WITHIN THE FIRST WORLD WAR?
Yes. If it were possible to consider it in isolation from the imperialist war as a whole, the war of Serbia against Austria- Hungary could be regarded as a just war of liberation. But this just element was completely overshadowed because it lay within the framework of the unjust imperialist war.
12. WHAT WAS THE CHARACTER OF THE WAR OF INTERVENTION AGAINST SOVIET RUSSIA OF 1918-22?
It was an attempt by a number of imperialist powers to overthrow the rule of the working class in Soviet Russia, and so was a just war on the part of Soviet Russia and an unjust war on the part of the intervening imperialist states.
13. WHAT WAS THE CHARACTER OF THE SINO-JAPANESE WAR OF 1931-39?
Since China was a semi-feudal, non-imperialist state, while Japan was an imperialist state, it was a just war on the part of China and an unjust war on the part of Japan.
14. WHAT WAS THE CHARACTER OF THE SECOND WORLD WAR UP TO JUNE 1941?
It was, like the First World War, an imperialist war between two groups of imperialist powers for the redivision of the world. The fact that the German imperalists ruled through a fascist dictatorship, while the British imperialists ruled through ‘parliamentary democracy’, was quite irrelevant to the basic character of the war as an imperialist war, unjust on both sides.
15. WERE THERE, NEVERTHELESS, JUST, PROGRESSIVE ELEMENTS WITHIN THE SECOND WORLD WAR IN THE PERIOD PRIOR TO JUNE 1941?
Yes. Poland was a capitalist state, but not an imperialist state. So, if Poland’s war against Germany could be considered in isolation from the war as a whole, it could be considered as a just war. Furthermore, the resistance movements of the peoples of the countries occupied by German and Italian imperialism (if they could be considered in isolation from the war as a whole) could also be regarded as just wars. But, as in the First World War, these just, progressive elements were overshadowed because they lay within the framework of the unjust imperialist war.
16. WHAT WAS THE CHARACTER OF THE SECOND WORLD WAR AFTER JUNE 1941?
Following the German attack on the Soviet Union—then a socialist state—in June 1941, the Soviet war against Germany (if it could be considered in isolation) would be considered a just war on the part of the Soviet Union and an unjust war on the part of German imperialism. This just, progressive element combined with the other just, progressive elements listed in the answer to Question 15 to overshadow the unjust, imperialist elements which still remained. Thus, from June 1941, the fundamental character of the Second World War changed and it became, overall, a just war on the part of the United Nations and an unjust war on the part the Axis Powers.
17. WHAT WAS THE CHARACTER OF THE MIDDLE EAST WAR OF 1967?
Israel is a state set up the imperialist powers in the Middle East, armed and dominated by United States imperialism. It is an arm of US imperialism in the Middle East. The Arab states are not imperialist states and most of them were not, in 1967, arms of imperialism. Consequently, the war was a just war on the part of the Arab states and an unjust war on the part of Israel.
18. DOES THE CONTINUED EXISTENCE OF IMPERIALISM MAKE WAR INEVITABLE?
Capitalist (including imperialist) economies develop at uneven rates. Consequently, a division of the world which reflects the economic needs of imperialist powers for markets, sources of raw materials, etc., at one period ceases to reflect these economic needs at a later period, Thus, the economic needs of some (‘have-not’) imperialist powers force them to try to seize markets, sources of war materials, etc., from the ‘have’ imperialist powers. Imperialist wars to redivide the world are periodically inevitable. Only by the destruction of imperialism can wars cease to be inevitable.
19. WHAT IS THE STRATEGY OF MARXIST-LENINISTS WHOSE COUNTRY IS INVOLVED IN AN UNJUST WAR?
To strive to transform the unjust war into a civil war for the overthrow of ‘their’ imperialists. 20.
20. DOES NOT SUCH A STRATEGY AID THE ENEMY?
Yes. But military defeats for ‘one’s own’ imperialists weaken them and so assist in their revolutionary overthrow. And Marxist-Leninists ‘on the other side’ are simultaneously striving for military defeats for ‘their’ imperialists, In Lenin’s words: “Only a bourgeois who believes that the war started by governments will necessarily end as a war between governments, and who wishes it to be so, finds ‘ridiculous’ or ‘absurd’ the idea that Socialists of all the belligerent countries should express the wish that all their governments be defeated”. (V. I. Lenin: ‘Socialism and War’; London; 1940: p. 24).
21. WHAT IS CHAUVINISM?
‘Jingoistic’ support of one’ own government in an unjust war. (The name is derived from a ‘jingoistic’ French officer of the Napoleonic Wars, Nicholas Chauvin.
22. WHAT IS SOCIAL-CHAUVINISM?
Lenin coined a number of political terms based on the name adopted by many ‘socialist’ parties at the beginning of the 20th century—’Social-democratic’. Thus Lenin nicknamed a self- styled ‘socialist’ who was in reality a chauvinist, a ‘social- chauvinist’.
23. WHAT IS GUERILLA WARFARE?
A type of warfare appropriate for weaker, more poorly armed forces when facing a more powerful enemy. It consists of harassing and weakening the enemy forces by surprise ‘hit and run’ attacks by small units, which, as far as possible, avoid direct confrontation with those forces. Guerilla warfare is the typical type of warfare carried on by an army of national liberation in the first phase of a war of national liberation. The strategy is to build up one’s forces by such guerilla warfare until they are strong enough to go over to regular warfare and achieve victory.
24. DESPITE INITIAL SUPERIOITY IN ARMS, AN IMPERIALIST COUNTRY INVOLVED IN A WAR OF NATIONAL LIBERATION FACES GRAVE DISADVANTAGES. WHAT ARE THESE?
a) They are not fighting in defence of their homeland; b) they are fighting in an unfamiliar terrain; c) they are hated and opposed by the mass of the people in the occupied country: d) they are weaker in manpower resources on the spot; e) their lines of supply are more extended; f) the puppet troops on which they depend are unreliable; g) they are opposed at home, and in their own armed forces, by politically conscious workers.
CLASS EIGHT : HOW SOCIALISM WORKS
1. WHAT IS SOCIALISM?
The social system constructed by the working people, led by the working class, after their seizure of political power in a socialist revolution. It is a social system in which the exploitation of man by man has been abolished and in which production is centrally planned with the aim of maximising the welfare of the working people.
2. HOW ARE THE MEANS OF PRODUCTION OWNED IN A SOCIALIST SOCIETY?
Collectively, 1) either by the state, representing the working people as a whole, or 2) by cooperatives, representing the working people of particular enterprises.
3. WHAT IS SOCIALISATION?
The taking over into the ownership of the socialist state (i.e., the machinery of force by which the working people rule over the rest of society) of an enterprise formerly owned by a capitalist or a capitalist firm. It must be distinguished from nationalisation in a capitalist society, where a formerly private enterprise is taken into the ownership of the capitalist state, i.e., the machinery of rule of the capitalist class as a whole).
4. WHAT IS COLLECTIVISATION?
The bringing together of a number of small enterprises (which are economically inefficent individually) into a single large cooperative of peasants or artisans. In order to retain the poor petty bourgeoisie as allies of the working class during the building of socialism, collectivisation must always be voluntary. Collectivisation is a step on the way to the socialisation of the enterprises of the peasants and artisans, which transforms the rural and urban petty bourgeoisie into rural and urban members of the working class.
5. HOW IS PRODUCTION REGULATED UNDER SOCIALISM?
Since profit (the motive and regulator of production under capitalism) has been abolished, production is regulated under socialism by centralised state planning, based on maximum democratic consultation with consumers so as to secure the maximum possible satisfaction of the needs of the working people.
6. WHY IS IT NECESSARY, UNDER SOCIALISM, FOR THE PRODUCTION OF MEANS OF PRODUCTION TO EXPAND MORE RAPIDLY THAN THE PRODUCTION OF CONSUMER GOODS?
Because consumer goods (by which the needs of the working people are directly satisfied) are produced with the aid of means of production. Consequently, a continuing expansion of the production of consumer goods depends on the production of means or production expanding more rapidly than the production of consumer goods.
7. ON WHAT BASIS ARE CONSUMER GOODS DISTRIBUTED IN A SOCIALIST SOCIETY?
Since, at this stage of economic development, the needs of the working people cannot be met in full, some form of rationing is necessary. And since it is desired to bring about the speediest possible development of production, this rationing system must be one which stimulates productive effort on the part of the working people. But the mass of the working people have entered have entered socialist society with outlooks and attitudes inherited from capitalist society, and one of the most significant of these is that increased productive effort justifies increased personal material reward. For all these reasons, the distribution of consumer goods under socialism is related to the quantity and quality of work performed. This principle is embodied in the slogan of socialist society: ‘FROM EACH ACCORDING TO HIS ABILITY, TO EACH ACCORDING TO HIS WORK!’.
8. IS THIS BASIS OF DISTRIBUTION FAIR?
Not competely. It is certainly fairer than the basis of distribution under capitalist society, which is based on the exploitation of the working people and on the amount of surplus- value-producing property which happens to be owned (often as a result of inheritance). But it is unfair to the extent that the quantity and quality of the work performed by a worker may depend on factors outside his control (e.g., he may have more dependents than his neighbour, he may have some physical disability). Although this unfairness may be mitigated by social services, it cannot be entirely eliminated as long as the socialist principle of distribution is maintained.
9, HOW CAN THIS UNFAIRNESS BE ELIMINATED?
Only by the replacement of socialism (defined as ‘the first stage of communism’) by true communism. Under communism, this unfairness is eliminated by the adoption of the principle of distribution according to need. This principle is embodied in the slogan of communist society: ‘FROM EACH ACCORDING TO HIS ABILITY, TO EACH ACCORDING TO HIS NEEDS!’.
10.WHAT ARE THE ESSENTAL PREREQUISITES FOR THE TRANSITION FROM SOCIALISM TO COMMUNISM?
Firstly, a vast increase in the production of material wealth, sufficient to meet all the essential needs of all the working people, without rationing; and secondly, a change in the outlook and attitudes of the mass of the working people, in that they have come to accept work as a natural obligation, performed according to ability without economic compulsion, and in that they have come to take from distribution centres only what they need. The adoption under socialism of the principle of distribution according to work performed is necessary in order that the first prerequisite of commmunism—a vast increase in the production of material wealth—may be attained as soon as possible.
11. WHAT ARE THE FUNCTIONS OF THE SOCIALIST STATE?
Firstly, to suppress the overthrown capitalist class and its supporters in order to prevent counter-revolution: and secondly, to defend the country from attempts at outside military intervention by capitalist states: and thirdly, to direct socialist economic construction and to educate the people in a Marxist-Leninist outlook.
12. WHAT IS THE CLASS CHARACTER OF THE SOCIALIST STATE?
It is ‘the dictatorship of the proletariat, of the workng class’, just as the capitalist state is ‘the dictatorship of the bourgeoisie’.
13. SINCE THE SOCIALIST STATE IS A CLASS DICTATORSHIP, CAN IT BE REGARDED AS DEMOCRATIC?
In the sense that the socialist state serves the interests only of the working people and suppresses the interests of the former capitalist class, its democratic character may be regarded as limited. But in the original meaning of the term ‘democracy’ as ‘the rule of the common people’, ‘the dictatorship of the working class’ is democratic. Certainly, since the capitalist class forms only a small minority of the population, it is infinitely more democratic than the capitalist state.
14. ‘THE SOCIALIST STATE WILL EVENTUALLY WITHER AWAY’—FRIEDRICH ENGELS. EXPLAIN.
As the members of the overthrown capitalist class die out and their descendants are assimilated into the working people and acquire their outlook, there ceases to be any class which must be suppressed for the security of socialism. Thus, the internal repressive function of the socialist state is no longer necesary and dies away. And as the working people in other capitalist countries proceed to seize political power and construct socialism on a world scale, the danger of external military intervention also disappears.
Thus, the external defence function of the state also ceases to be necessary and dies away. Eventually, therefore, the socialist state—as a machinery of rule—ceases to exist, being tranformed into a completely democratic apparatus for the administration of society.
15. IS A MARXIST-LENINIST PARTY NECESSARY UNDER SOCIALISM?
It is essential. Just as the working class cannot spontaneously overthrow the political power of the capitalist class, but requires the leadership of a vanguard party whose strategy and tactics are based upon Marxism-Leninism, so it requires the leadership of this vanguard party to maintain its political power and construct a socialist society. Eventually, however, as the socialist state withers away and as the political consciousness of the whole working people has been raised to a high level, the need for such leadership no longer exists and the Party too withers away.
16. IS SOCIALISM, ONCE ESTABLISHED, PERMANENT?
Only if the working people are led by a Marxist-Leninist Party.
For this reason, the enemies of socialism strve in every way to pervert the Marxist-Leninist Party into a revisionist party—a party which (at first) pays lip-service to Marxism-Leninism but in fact adopts policies which, under the guise of ‘modernisation’ and ‘democratisation’ move the country towards the restoration of capitalism.
17. WHAT HAVE BEEN THE PRINCIPAL EFFECTS OF THE TRIUMPH OF REVISIONISM IN THE INTERNATIONAL COMMUNIST MOVEMENT?
In all the countries where socialism had been established, the capitalist system has been restored. The restoration of capitalism goes through a number of stages. The role of centralised economic planning is reduced; a market economy based on the profit motive is introduced; the managers of the enterprises are given such a disproportionate share of their profits (on the grounds of their ‘responsibility’) that they effectively become state captalists exploiting the working class; the party and state leaders become corrupt bureaucrats administering what is, essentially, a bureaucratic dictatorship over the wortking class. When the working people have become sufficiently hostile to these developments, the final stage is to mobilise the people to destroy the spurious ‘socialism’ which is causing them so much distress and restore a normal free-enterprise capitalist system. In developed capitalist countries, the triumph of revisionism in the international communist movement has transformed the old communist parties into political instruments of monopoly capital, into social-democratic parties which have repudiated revolutionary socialism in favour of the illusory ‘peaceful, parliamentary road to socialism’. Such parties may take their place within the parliamentary framework when needed by the capitalist class as instruments for the deception of working people. These developments, tragic setbacks for the working people as they are, do not solve but, in the long run, accentuate the social problems of the working people. There is no solution for these problems but socialism.
THE HISTORIC TASK FACING THE WORKING PEOPLE OF ALMOST EVERY COUNTRY AT THE PRESENT TIME, THEREFORE, IS THE RECONSTITUTION OF MARXIST-LENINIST PARTIES, PURGED OF AND INSULATED AGAINST EVERY REVISIONIST TREND, AND THE RECONSTITUTION OF A MARXIST-LENINIST INTERNATIONAL AS THE VANGUARD OF THE WORKING PEOPLE OF THE WORLD.
One thought on “Principles of Marxism-Leninism: A Study Course”
This is a good effort to understand Marxism-Leninism.
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