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Comparing Analysis of Marx and Lenin’s Theory on the Dictatorship of

   Guoting Guo

   

   3/22/2013

   

   The Dictatorshipof the Proletariat is the most important theory of the Marxism and Leninism,and the most confused idea in the Communist movement, which become allcommunist regime’s constitution fundamental principle. [1]Marxbelieved the capitalist mean of production will produce large number of workersthat constitute majority of population, and class struggle between bourgeoisand workers inevitable lead to the proletariat dictatorship, with the aim toeliminate private property and establish classless society; However, he neverdiscuss the theory in detail. Lenin claims himself as the real disciple ofMarx, develops his version of the dictatorship of the proletariat, practiced inSoviet Union and other communist regimes, caused at least 100 million peoplekilled during its practice.[2]Inmy essay, I am going to compare study the theory of the dictatorship and thedictatorship proletariat of Marx and Lenin, argue that for Marx and Engel, thedictatorship of the proletariat do not means revolutionary party or its elite’sdictatorship, but workers as a class for special purpose during transitionalperiod through working class democracy, implement political rule of the workingclass; while Lenin in the name of the proletariat, claimed for despoticabsolute power, rely on force unrestrained by any law, in essence turn toparty’s dictatorship over whole society, which completely against Marx’s idea.

   I. Meaning of thedictatorship of the proletariat

   Theterm ‘dictatorship’ origin as a constitutional institution of ancient RomanRepublic that provided for an emergency exercise of power by a trusted generalfor temporary and limited purposes, with aim to defense the republic againstforeign enemy or domestic subversion.[3]In1850s the term had the same meaning as its ancient time, which was not asynonym for despotism, tyranny, absolutism, or autocracy.[4]Although Marxmentioned about six times of the dictatorship of the proletariat, he neverdefined the term and only discussed it vaguely: universal franchise applied‘inevitable outcome will be the political rule of the working class.’[5]Hesometimes uses ‘worker state’, ‘parliamentary dictatorship of the party oforder’, ‘workers political rule’, and ‘worker class dictatorship’ to change theterm of the dictatorship of the proletariat’. Engels confirmed in his 1891Introduction to The Civil War in France …what this ‘dictatorship of the proletariat’look like? Paris Commune…was The Dictatorship of the Proletariat.”[6]Lenin defined the ‘dictatorship of the proletariat’ as the industrial workerslead people to overthrow the capitalism,create socialist system, eliminate private property , and abolish classes,realise the communism.[7]For Lenin, the aim of it is a ‘new democracy and independent participation inthe administration of the state.’[8]The basic principle is workers and peasants and other non-proletariat alliance,overthrow the bourgeois ruling, set up the political rule of the proletariat,establish and consolidate the socialist system. The essence is under theleadership of the proletariat party as the vanguard of working people to buildsocialism, abolish classes, and remove the basis for any kind of exploitationof man by man.”[9]

   II. The organisation of the dictatorship

   Marx suggestedworkers as a class to dictatorship, but he did not clear answer the questionconcerning the organisation of the dictatorship; in 1870, Engels pointed outthe Blanqui’s dictatorship is not of the whole revolutionary proletariat class,but of just those few who launched the attacked. [10]In April 1871 in the “Civil War in France” Marx praised the commune as an‘essentially working class government’, he implies the Commune as the exampleof The Dictatorship of the Proletariat, represents ‘proletariat democracy’.Paris commune consists of universal suffrage elected councillors who functionas legislators and executives, a citizens army, elected judges, police andofficials, equal pay as workers, subject to recall at any time.[11]Engels declared ‘commune was The Dictatorship of the Proletariat’.[12]Bakunin rejected the idea of dictatorship, and asked ‘will the proletariat as awhole beat the head of the government? [13]Leninasserted the secret professional revolutionary party with strict discipline, the party soon turn the dictatorship ofproletariat into a dictatorship of the party over the proletariat andpeasantry;[14]in essence Lenin followed Blanquist rather than Marx’s idea of thedictatorship, in practice meant the dictatorship of the communist party overthe people, a small elite over the party.[15]

   III. The reason andpurpose for the dictatorship

   The purpose ofthe dictatorship as Marx explained that‘ the class dictatorship of the proletariat is the necessary transit pointalong the road to the abolition of class distinction; to the abolition of allthe revolutions of production…abolition of all the social relations that correspond to these relations ofproduction, to the revolutionizing of all the ideas that result from thesesocial relation .’[16],on 5 March 1852, In the letter to Weydemeyer, Marx remarked ‘this dictatorshipitself only constitutes the transition to the abolition of all classes and to aclassless society.’ [17]as Engel claim ‘in a word, all Marx’s communism theory is to eliminate privateproperty’; to establish the fundamental economic basis of the communism have noway of agreement.

   

   IV. The dictatorshipis only a transitional period

   

   Marx in 1850 inthe Class Struggles in France 1848-1850, argued that the ruling of the workingclass ( eg. The Dictatorship of the Proletariat) was ‘a transitional period’ inthe establishment of the classless society;[18]hebelieved ‘every provisional political set-up following a revolution calls fordictatorship and an energetic dictatorship at that’.[19]Then in 1875 In the Critique of the Gotha Programme, Marx asserted: “betweencapitalist and communist society lies the period of the revolutionary transformation…the state can be nothing but the revolutionary dictatorship of theproletariat”. [20]Forthe transition, Lenin said it should be ‘a state that is democratic for theproletariat and dictatorial against the bourgeoisie,”[21]and ‘a period of struggle between capitalism which defeated but not destroyedand communism which born but still very feeble.[22]SinceMarx and Engels believed only in the advanced industry state, the communistrevolution can success, the transition is only a ‘short period’ for implement thepolicy of eliminating classes and build the communism society; Lenin believewithin 10 to 20 years, Soviet Union can be successful to establish thecommunism[23].Thus, Lenin’s transitional period is ‘10 to 20 years’;[24]Chinese Communist party after failing its promise to fulfil socialismrepeatedly, declared in 2010, that China will completed her “primary stagesocialism” building, as to the communism that is ‘the great cause which needtens generation common struggle’, but China must be persist the dictatorship ofthe proletariat before set up the communism!

   V. The leadershipof the communist party for dictatorship

   Marxnever discusses the leadership of the dictatorship. During Paris Commune, afteracrimonious debating over to set up a dictatorial Committee of Public Safety,with special arbitrary powers , the proposed by the Blanquist-Jacobin Majoritywas adopted, the anti-dictatorial Minority represented all the figures who hadspecial connection with Marx walked out of the Commune.[25]Show Marx rejected Blanquist’s idea of dictatorship as party’s leadership.

   Lenin proceededthe idea of a socialist revolution must be led by an elite party. He urged thatThe Dictatorship of the Proletariat must be under the leadership of the party.Since The Dictatorship was ‘a persistent struggle, bloody and bloodless,violent and peaceful, military and economic, ’ ‘Without a party of iron thathas been tempered in the struggle’, it was impossible to wage such a strugglesuccessfully;[26]Lenin argued “whoever weakens…the iron discipline of the party of…dictatorship, actually aids the bourgeoisie against the proletariat”[27]therefore, Lenin turn the dictatorship of the proletariat into the partydictatorship over people with absolute despotism. Russian Marxism theorist Plekhanovin 1906 point out that ‘Lenin is Blanquist rather than Marxist, he show Marxistbanner while sell Blanquist idea,’[28]GermanMarxism theorist Kautsky in 1918 argued that Lenin’s ‘revolutionarydictatorship’ was far from removed from Marx’s idea of ‘The Dictatorship of theProletariat’, which not meant ‘a form of government’. [29] ‘It always led to the dictatorship of a single man, or of a small knot ofleaders. [30]Asanarchist communist Bakunin points out that such a state ‘will be nothing elsebut despotic rule over the masses by a new, numerically small aristocracy ofgenuine or sham scientist. [31]

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