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The Essence Distinguish Between Marx and Lenin on the Dictatorship of

Guoting Guo



   The Dictatorship of the Proletariat is the most important theory of the Marxism and Leninism, which also is the most confused idea in the Communist movement. As Leonhard noted that the concept of ‘the Dictatorship of the Proletariat’ has many changes in the course of development,and no other subject has given rise to such a multiplicity of polemics,discussions, and sharp clashes”. [1] The Constitution of China still has so called the“Four basic principles”, that is insist of the Marxism Leninism, the Dictatorship of the Proletariat, the road of the socialism and the Chinese Communist of Party’s(the CCP) leadership. Since in essence all political institutions of China copied from those of the Soviet of Union; After seize the state power in 1949, the CCP, in the name of the Dictatorship of the proletariat, never held a single free election for MPs, the president and local government head of officials; has been killed or jailing more than 20 millions political dissidents. I am going to study the real meaning of the dictatorship and the proletariat of Marx and Lenin, argued that for Marx and Engel, the dictatorship of the proletariat do not means a few revolutionary or elite’s dictatorship, but workers as a class for special purpose during transferring period through working class democracy ruling the worker’s state; while Lenin in essence against Marx’s theory and claims for despotic absolute violent power, which completely copied by the CCP.


   I. Marx on the dictatorship of the proletariat

   For Marx, social revolution presupposes a high level of economic and technological development, working class comprising the majority of the population; Absence the prerequisite, a transition to the classless society would not be possible; the social revolution would possible only by a simultaneous victory in several industrially developed countries; at first, Marx and Engels stressed revolution by force, after 1870s they regarded a peaceful transformation by means of a labour majority in parliament as desirable and probable. The social revolution would lead to the political rule of the working class (dictatorship of the proletariat)through the destruction of the power of bureaucracy, army, police, replace with a body elected by general secret ballot, exercising legislative and executive power, officials have the same pay as workers, would be recalled by electors at any time. In the end of 1870, Marx reply ‘All I know is that I am no Marxist”.


   The Dictatorship of the Proletariat during a short transitional period, would put into effect the measure necessary for the transformation of society. Main features:

   1. Social ownership of the means of production in the form of association of free producers or union of co-operatives;

   2. Planed development, increase the cooperative wealth, distribution of all products according to requirement;

   3. Eliminate class rule and class distinctions, abolish state power, emerge classless society;

   4. Eliminate town and country contrast;

   5. Abolish enslave division of labour, develop fully mental and physical potential;

   6. Eliminate conflicts among nations.


   The concept of The Dictatorship of the Proletariat, mean a dictatorial or even totalitarian system, nothing of the kind in Marx or Engels mind. They sometimes equated the concept of ‘democratic constitution’ with that of the role of the working class. The dictatorship of proletariat pursue socialist policy. Marx only discuss vague detail of such policy, to the abolition of the private property in all means of production.


   On May 1843 Marx to Arnold Ruge : “the only principle of despotism is contempt for man, dehumanized man, …the Despot always sees men as degraded. …The general principle of monarchy is the despised,despicable dehumanized man; Montespuieu makes distinctions among monarchy,despotism, and tyranny. But all these are names for only one idea; at most it is a behavioral difference within the same principle. …it is always good enough to govern a nation that has never has any other law than the despotism of its kings. [2]


   In Critique of Critical Critique, Marx and Engels believed that: “If the proletariat is victorious, it does not at all mean that it games the absolute master of society, for it is victorious only by abolishing itself and its opposite. Then the proletariat, and its determining opposite private property, disappear.”[3]


   Marx fight with Mikhail Bakunin, who considered The Dictatorship of the Proletariat dangerous, because like any dictatorship, it violated the human rights of freedom. “ I regret the blindness of those who believe that they can achieve economic equality and justice in any other way except by freedom. Equality without freedom is a terrible fiction, created by swindlers to mislead fools.Equality without freedom means state despotism. [4]


   The manifesto described ‘the first step in the revolution’ as being ‘ to raise the proletariat to the position of ruling class, to win the battle of democracy. In thedraft, Engels declared that a communist revolution ‘will inaugurate a democratic constitution and thereby, directly orindirectly, the political rule of the proletariat’.[5] Ten demands listed in themanifesto, generally applicable in the most advanced countries, base onuniversal suffrage in an advanced industrial economy. The ultimate aim is theabolition of private property. As Thomas Sowell point out that The phrase ‘ dictatorship of the proletariat’ islittle more than a paraphrase of these statements. ’ [6]


   This description of transition period first occurred in 1850, “theproletariat…revolutionary socialism, around communism …Blanqui…declaration ofthe permanence of the revolution point to the abolition of class differencesgenerally, to the abolition of all the productive relation on which they rest,to the abolition of all the social relation that correspond to these relationsof production, to the revolutionising all the ideas that result from thesesocial connections. [7]


   Marx believed that a lengthytransition period must be follow the coming to power of the proletariat,and ‘every provisional political set-up following a revolution calls fordictatorship and an energetic dictatorship at that’.[8]Marx said that “the forceis the midwife of every old society pregnant with a newone”.


   The revolutionary programme of The Dictatorship of the Proletariat, the conquest of politicalpower by the working class in alliance with the non-proletarian sections of theworking people, was the culminating points of Marxism.[9]


   Marx’s proofs concerning The Dictatorship of the Proletariat were in fact prophecies statewith great force and conviction. The class struggle must necessarily lead to the dictatorship of proletariat was his most original contribution to thetheory of class struggle, and he meant by The Dictatorship of the Proletariatprecisely what he said: The ruling power would fall into the hands of the poorfarmers and the unskilled and semi-skilled workers. The aristocrats,bourgeoisie, and the skilled workers would be dethroned, and majority poor,would inherit the earth. Then in the course of time The Dictatorship of the Proletariat would give way to a classlesssociety. [10]


   Marx asserted that the proletariat cannot merelytake over the existing state machine, but must smash it and create a new onesuited to the situation, from experience of 1848-1850 revolution. In theManifesto, Marx seems thought that state are a neutral instrument, but in theEighteenth Brumaire, he declared that the revolution ‘perfects the statepower…in order to concentrate all its forces of destruction against it. [11] Proletariat revolutionmust smash the state machine, not simply to transfer it to new hand. Thepolitical machine which had enslaved the working class could not be ‘thepolitical instrument of their emancipation’.

   For Marx was not just a question of the physicaltransfer of Power but necessitated that the productive capacity of thebourgeois order should first be exhausted. Marx andEngels had clearly seen revolution as a spontaneous mass rising. Leninargued that spontaneous action was not sufficient, welled organized, strictdisciplined party represented the wishes of the proletariat and acting on theirbehalf. [12]

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