* Drafts & Translations *

The social democrat conception of transition to socialism

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The social democrat vision

Social democracy has never understood what is Capitalism, that is to say a social system whose laws embrace all our planet. The analytic, descriptivist, positivist,... methodology bound to the myth of progress and science (the real divinities for social democracy, as for all vulgar materialists) and its own development as representative of the class conciliation stops it completely from understanding the essence of Capitalism.

Social democracy considers Capitalism only as a part of this system, basing itself on the idyllic picture that Capitalism has of itself. For it, Capitalism is not development and destruction of productive forces but only development of productive forces (the destruction is extra-capitalistic); Capitalism is not the big urban industry and misery in the countryside but solely the development of the big industry, misery in the countryside being a pre-capitalist residue (!!!).

A fortiori, it cannot understand what is socialism and Communism. Schematically, we will say that socialism is for social democracy, the development of (Capital's) productive forces managed by workers and (or) the social democrat (or Communist) party, to which one adds, according to the versions, a certain dose of purification of the most obvious Capitalism's blemishes (what is evidently a reactionary utopia).

That is the reason why the general program of social democracy consists in supporting the progressive sides of Capitalism (industrialization, Capital's "worker" aspects,...). It is the matter for it to support the struggle for the extension of this system, the struggle for the "bourgeois democratic tasks", the "national tasks",... against the "previous modes of production"; what means in practice the defense (considering the Capital's contradictory unicity) of Capitalism quite simply, in its totality.

In other words, social democracy is nothing else than the historic struggle of Capitalism (1) to justify itself in face of the whole society, to appear as progressive, and especially, to frame the proletarians on the ground of the class which exploits them.

The social democrat conception of transition to socialism amounts to the passage of administration of the society from the bourgeois hands to those of the workers and/or of their representatives. To arrive there, it conceives various tacticals going from the seizure of power (cf. the paragraph about politicism) to the decentralized management of production units (managementism) and the realization of a whole of measures able to socialize democracy while distributing the production in an egalitarian way, while giving the property of production means to producers (or to the State "which represents them"),...

It would be absurd to conceive the existence of a fundamental rupture between those who consider that the evolution of Capitalism leads to Socialism and those who pretend to differ from the first by the only fact to advocate a "violent revolution", since the basic conception is identical, reformist in both cases.

Given that social democracy considers as progressive the immediate mode of production in which the labour is "really" subsumed in Capital, the social democrat policy never attacks the basis of Capital: what is produced, how one produces, the objective and the production form,... It never declares war to the mainspring of this mode of production (value, profit, dictatorship upon usage value), it doesn't fight against the real relations of production that it considers as natural, human but on the other hand, it recommends, all fractions fused, a whole of measures that, far from attacking the sphere of production only attacks the distribution and its legal expression: the "real" right.

Economicist and politicist ideology of the passage to socialism

The revolutionary socialism, Communism, through its successive historic reaffirmations, delimited itself programmatically as the necessary despotic imposition of the practices of proletarian interests against all Capital's criterias of valorization, against value itself, what can only materialize as organically centralized dictatorship of producers' necessities against the totality of merchant society (2).

Facing this necessarily totalizing reality and in agreement with the general conception we described, social democracy chooses as recipe of "socialist transformation" two big outlines which appear as formally opposing and which we will call here managementism and politicism.

Managementism, economism, starting from a romantic rejection of centralism, of the one Party, of the State, pronounces for autonomy, for liberty, not of the individual, but of every factory, of each cooperative, union, assembly, worker council. According to the partisans of this ideology, one would find a guarantee in the involvement of the basis, in the direct, "worker" democracy, in the assemblies, in the fact that workers are the majority in there and that they want socialism.

Politicism starts, as for it, from an imbecile admiration for the "French revolution" and reduces the revolution to the seizure of political power (either violent or pacific seizure of power, according to the variants) and to the realization of a whole of reforms: nationalizations, development of productive forces, more equitable distribution of the social product, first necessity articles for free. For the supporters of this ideology, all amounts to the "party" detaining the political power and they assimilate the "socialist revolution" to the power controlled by a proletarian party plus the development of productive forces, in brief: the electrification plus the power of "soviets".

In the understanding of counterrevolution (a theory can be revolutionary only if it captures the invariant laws of counterrevolution), both conceptions are fundamental. In all historic attempts of revolution, both social democrat conceptions combine, and objectively act against revolution, even independently of the will of their supporters.

Conceptually, the common denominator of both deviations is the consideration that socialism is the prolongation of Capitalism under worker administration; in other words that socialism is the purified extension of Capitalism, purged of its harmful elements (bosses, misery, lack of development, of productive forces, inequalities,...). Actually, the socialism peculiarly to these conceptions is nothing else than Capitalism without contradiction, without the whole of inherent problems to its system, is nothing else than Capitalism as ideal of equality, liberty, fraternity,... democracy. Hence, the claiming of "social democracy", of "real democracy", in opposition to the "political" democracy (actually, the only possible democracy is the one that historically exists as expression of equality and liberty... of the merchant world!), including the origin of the word social democracy.

Therefore, these both conceptions are reformist, and this role always brings them to the first rank of counterrevolution.

They are the historic product of counterrevolution and of liquidation of the proletariat as social class, founded on the separation of the "economical action" and the "political action", the union and the parliamentary party. These conceptions theorize the separation imposed by Capital to the proletariat (especially through its social democrat fraction) between economic and politics. Therefore, they raise at the level of a society project what is only a weakness of workers. The fact is that even in the times of revolutionary springing up, it exists remains of division between "political" organizations ("parties") and "economical" organizations (unions, councils, cooperatives,...). This division finds its maximum expression into counterrevolution, not only as specific phase of negation of the proletariat but also as subject, as a whole of social forces that separate proletarians from their totalizing interests to liquidate them as class.

In this sense, the opposition economy/ politics, economical organizations/ political organizations, managementism/ statist reformism have a general and decisive social function in the reproduction of Capital. Hence, the practical junctions between such apparently opposite theories, what sometimes surprises young inexperienced militants. For example, they all agree to liquidate the worker discussions, in the name of the immediate unity of the proletariat and in the name of the principle that these tasks must be assumed and achieved within the party (so, in the worker associations, one commonly notes the convergence towards anti-partitism... from the most convinced "partitists").

Considering all these real convergences that, in last process, derive from one and the same conception, it is not surprising to find the coexistence of two deviations in one same ideological current, including within one same organization. We find this coexistence by Lassalle (it is necessary to remind that social democracy is the historic and organic heiress of Lassalle's party and not Marx's one), by Kautsky, by Luxemburg, in the current trotskyism, etc.

Beyond that, if we analyze any theory of transition coming from the social democrat vision, we can perceive the necessary coexistence between political reform and economical managementism. Thus, Lenin was generally considered as a partitist, as someone who always centred everything on the seizure of political power (conception inseparably bound to a reformist vision of transition). But he lets show by many ways the managementist conception of worker control of the capitalistic production. One can say the same thing about Bordiga.

At this point, the reader will wonder why maintain, for our critique, a separation between economist and politicist ideology, since it is precisely the same. We will answer that despite this identical content, it is relevant to achieve the critique in this dual level: on one hand against each conception, on the other, on the convergence in one same vision of the world.

So, the political economy becomes vulgar when it must manage the world or when it removes their historic character to the categories that Marx's critique elaborated of each of the big conceptions, differentiating them on one hand, and at the same time, demonstrating the every time more vulgar character of all the political economy.

Mecanicist materialism, physiological materialism..., is basically idealistic, but despite Marx underscored this identity, he considered as indispensable the realization of a specific critique, as well the speculative, idealist philosophy, as materialism.

On the other hand, the strength of ideologies is exactly to present these false oppositions as universal truths. Vulgar marxism (for example, under its stalinist form) has systematically felt in the idealization of these oppositions and in the "sacred" adoption of one of these poles. Thus, it becomes the partisan of materialistic, physiologist monism (without achieving how this vulgar antithesis of idealism is idealistic), liquidating whole sections of dialectics; so it has transformed political economy into State religion (without estimating to which degree the exalters of political economy are the heirs of vulgar economists); at last, that they defined themselves like this, for example, by politicism, seizure of the State and reforms, as path towards socialism.

Moreover, these false oppositions, precisely by the fact they are ideologies of counterrevolution, were and are deeply rooted in the masses, especially among workers who believe they are socialists or Communists by the fact they adhere to these ideas. And their strength is precisely to exist in practice, in the social life of proletarians as such different oppositions, democratic socialism or authoritative socialism, councillism or partitism... with the consequent confusion, division and eclipse of the real class aims.

Historically, these conceptions, that we call here "economicist" and "politicist", appeared under innumerable forms and combinations, and they transcend the forms of each organized structure (like each important ideology). Thus, if we limit to the formal structure of social democracy, one notes that these both ideologies preexist to this organization and that during its existence, managementism and politicism extended it beyond, and are even sometimes the main characteristic of fractions that yet self-proclaim in opposition to this organization. It is the case, for example, for Proudhon and his successors, the revolutionary unionists under its sorelian expression (from Sorel), that we must classify, without fear, among precursors of managementism.

As well as the party of revolution transcends its forms (for example, the Communist Party of 1848, as living international reality transcends the "League of Communists", as well as, in general, all other revolutionary sects), the party of social democracy, as historic liquidation of the party of social revolution in the spiders webs of democracy, pass the formal social democracy.

"Economicism" and "politicism" will be, thereafter, criticized in their most subtlest radical expressions, including in forms in which the contradiction revolution/ counter-revolution didn't necessarily materialize. Marx also, in the critique of Proudhon, has often been brought to place in the totality of the imbecile constructions of this one, to underscore that even this way, the capitalistic society would reproduce. We believe that the fact to solve and explain the subtlest and most developed expressions of these both conceptions is more useful to our political development (and for our sympathizers and readers) than to be satisfied with critiques of the roughest forms. But one must not lose sight of that the caricatures also exist, that the example of the most pleasant managementism for the international bourgeoisie, was Tito's one. We can also find the best caricature of capitalistic State reformism -under cover of transition towards socialism- in the model of socialism on the Fidel Castro's way.

While taking therefore the most radical forms, we will see how managementism and politicism have and will act against revolution, in the decisive moments. In this critique, we will try to go until the foundations and the most extreme expressions of these both ideologies, what is not only important to define the limits of the revolutionary wave of 1917-1923, and the "Russian" revolution, but also to find the key elements of the revolutionary conception of transition towards socialism.

Managementism against revolution

The action of managementism against revolution, as essential brake for insurrection, was clearly confirmed in many historic examples: Italy in 1920, Spain in 1936-37,...

The most radical currents of social democracy: managementist anarchism, "ordinovist" pseudo-marxism,... were precisely those which procured the most efficient ideological cover and the best political framing of proletarians, to impose counterrevolution.

In the moments where the attack against the bourgeois state is decisive: dismissal of the government, of the parliament, of the judicial power, repression of all shock corps of counterrevolution (fascist and antifascist), of the police, of the army,... finally, the generalized worker despotism, the red terror, these currents maintain the workers in production, in management, in 10.000 administrative problems of distribution and democrato-bureaucratism.

They give all possibilities to the State to rebuild, to reload its corps, to prepare its attack, to recreate polarizations inside bourgeoisie (fascism/ antifascism). This always happened in history, this will always repeat, as long as the direction of proletarian masses won't coincide with its revolutionary, Communist direction, and that they will let take in by the basis democracy, the worker management, factory councils, soviets.

It also exists a more radical variant, that admits the necessity to finish with the bourgeois State and to impose the dictatorship of the proletariat, but that continues to let the management of the society to associations of producers, to committees of factory and/or to worker councils (that is to say it doesn't understand why the destruction of Capitalism can't exist there without a single direction of the proletariat and without its centralized State into Communist party); this variant is also counterrevolutionary and will play an important role in the future.

If there is no direct experience, it is only because currently the organizations which, in the crucial moments of worker struggle, were the formal direction of the most combative proletarians, were yet below these conceptions; and because the most radical ideology of managementism, can only apply after the insurrection. However, until now, what predominated in the only proletarian insurrection that triumphed was its enemy brother: "the radicalized politicism".

If one can't doubt that to suppress Capitalism without attacking the State can only be a reactionary utopia, pretend to eliminate Capitalism by autonomy and liberty of the proletarian associations constitutes just as much undoubtedly a reactionary utopia. Indeed, while supposing (what is only an utopia) that one effectively destroyed all organized politico-military force of the open counterrevolution in the world, and that one began to organize the society not on basis of a centre and a single direction, but on basis of the democratic decisions of an infinity of associations, a short time after, we would have, once again Capitalism in full function. We will see why.

These associations, worker councils, soviets,... are not organically united to the whole; it doesn't exist any organic centralism; it doesn't exist any dictatorship of Communism organized into party, against value. By this, the production cannot be directly social, but particular (and indeed, private, facing the rest of society). But, given that the private production must necessarily socialize, as necessarily the decisions must be centralized, the exchange and democratic centralism are also necessary.

Beyond all speeches against bourgeois democracy, for democracy against exchange value, etc... without the organically centralized despotism of the party against value, the products of each association, of each group of associations, of each factory committees, of each soviets congress,... of each region,... in such circumstances, are not only products, but also exchange values and this even if one suppresses the material forms of money, as money. Money will continue to reign!

If there is no displacement of products, from the dictatorship against exchange value, centrally controlled by the party, there is exchange of products, where the democratic decision of production units predominates, and therefore merchandises and tendency to exchange on the basis of equivalent values. The abstract labour continues to guide the society.

If products don't lose their merchant character, if exchange value continues to reign, all atrocities of Capitalism will continue to reproduce, and this new subtlety of managementism will be revealed for what it is: a weapon of counterrevolution, of Capitalism reconstitution, and this not directly against the insurrection, but after the insurrection.

Seeing how decisions centralize, socialize (if one continues the parallel with the way the private, particular production, socializes) one leads to the same result.

Workers' democracy (incompatibility of fact since if the people governs, the proletarian is a slave!), soviets, councils, communes or committees democracy, leads precisely to the same, or in other words, is the other face of one same process of exchange value predominance: democracy and merchant society are indissociably united.

And this, not only because, as it was already historically verified, the majority is dominated by the bourgeois ideology (cf. Germany, but also Russia, where the soviets approved, and guarantied, in the democrat congresses, the bolsheviks' counterrevolutionary politics!), but also because the democratic centralism (negation of organicity, of decision and action unity,...) corresponds precisely to the independence of producers and their associations, to the necessity to mediatize, to construct a totality on the basis of what is separated, on the basis of conciliation of the producers' independent decisions.

With the thus achieved worker democracy, the merchant and exploitation society from man by man will continue to exist... under a socialist cover!

Nothing changes while adding the term worker to the word democracy, it is precisely the same than eliminate paper money by decree and believe one eliminated money. In this case, any other merchandise will assume the role of general equivalent and will turn into "new" community of money. Regarding democracy, the democrat "workers" will also finish while electing the new administrators of Capital.

Actually, it is again the same matter of basis incomprehension, from social democracy, which as far as it radicalizes, could not understand Capitalism, and look for, without it is clear for it, to make it more worker, more democratic, that is to say to preserve it purified, to purify it to better preserve it.

Theoreticians of this current oppose to chiefs, without realizing that worker democracy itself will produce chiefs. There will be chiefs during all the revolutionary phase, and if it is well obvious that chiefs of the proletariat can represent its historic interests (Communist party), they can also represent counterrevolution.

What is the guarantee of assemblies, free elections, will of the worker majority?

Only one thing: as much the dominant ideas as chiefs are those of counterrevolution and this for various reasons:

1. because during all the revolutionary phase, the dominant ideas will continue to be those of bourgeoisie.

2. because what predominates in this kind of workerist organizations, it is precisely the people and not Communism, it is precisely the public opinion, the "most logical", the "popular leaders", those who make "beautiful speeches" in assemblies...

3. (and the most important point which contains the two other), because Capital (that these radical social democrats don't understand anyway) appears here not only as social relation or object, but as subject that continues to live in merchandise thanks to its own mediation, the democracy, and that it is able to continue to coopt the most capable elements to its management, as leaders of the society.

Synthetically, democracy, Capital's way of life, can only produce leaders coopted by Capital and directions that bring to the reconstitution of this one.

Capital, as subject, is so to speak, eclipsed: men believe to lead it, but in fact, it doesn't always finish to lead men.

Democracy has always been considered as a simple mechanism which could serve the class that would adopt it (bourgeois democracy - worker democracy). Actually, it is indissociably bound to the dissolution of the proletariat as class, to its negation (including obviously State terrorism, jails and conciliation of independent citizens, individuals).

And at last, it always verifies (the fact that workers adopt it don't change anything!) as the affirmation of the merchant society, of exchange value, as mechanism of Capital to popularize and better coopt its administrators, particularly if they are workers.

This critique of the most radical variants of managementism must be present in all discussions concerning the period of transition and especially in the analysis of counterrevolution in Russia.

We will see that facing the bolshevik policy, which didn't constitute a revolutionary alternative, the whole bourgeoisie regrouped to make a managementist critique, according to which it was necessary to guarantee the "worker" democracy,...

It is the reason why this critique is the preliminary condition to distinguish from a right-wing critique.

Politicism against revolution

In its most radical expression (leninism), the politicist vision adopts some elements of the revolutionary critique against reformism, pacifism, managementism, immediatism,... While considering the revolutionary violence, the seizure of political power, the necessity of insurrection, of revolutionary terrorism, of the dictatorship of the proletariat,... of foremost importance.

But even this more radical variant don't stand in the social project of destruction of Capital, of abolition of wage labour and money.

It confines to repeat with Lenin what distinguishes revolution from reformism is to spread the recognition of class struggle and its development until the violent revolution and the dictatorship of the proletariat.

In other words, the defense of revolution in rupture with reformism stays exclusively confined to the political aspect and everything that concerns the social revolution is evacuated (despite the terminology used for example by Kautsky). In fact, this current continues to be deeply reformist, that is to say partisan of a whole of economic reforms as nationalizations, redistribution of incomes, etc...

The concept of dictatorship of the proletariat is not apprehended in its totality, as social dictatorship of a class which organizes against the criterias of valorization and of development of the productive forces peculiar to Capital, but well as dictatorship of such or such "political party" self-defined as the proletariat's one.

Actually, it is not only the matter of liquidating the "other aspects" of revolution by focusing on "politics". But given the politicist point of view, where revolution is limited to the politic and where the rupture between reform and revolution is reduced to the necessity of the dictatorship and worker terrorism, all sense of totality of the dictatorship of Capital is lost and by this also the totalizing necessity of the organically centralized dictatorship of Communism.

Hence, one leads to the old dividing vision of bourgeoisie and one accepts the independence of its different spheres denying the ABC of Marx's work. (3)

Kautsky, Lenin and their epigones are incapable to understand that the proletarian revolution is a social revolution, that is to say total, essentially different from all those which existed.

On basis of the "French revolution" model (that supposed the political institutionalization of a bourgeois fraction which already controlled the society, to the detriment of another, but in no way the revolutionary destruction of a previous mode of production), they limit the proletarian revolution to the change in the "political" sphere.

It is probably because of that the most varied bourgeois fractions, in the struggles they fight in (imperialistic wars), proclaimed Lenin, Stalin, Trotsky, "as their theoreticians". On one hand the leninist basis outline is completely compatible with a "revolutionary" reform (that leninism limits to a violent political change, followed by the consequent terrorism). On another hand one can dress it with the so indispensable "worker" coloration to mobilize the workers for "revolution" and then to make them work more than ever for the national reconstitution. It is the reason why the great leaders of these capitalistic forces (from Mao Tse Tung to Ho-Chi-Min, from Fidel Castro to Enver Hoxha) don't had to change one iota to the basis outline of politicist reformism. They were of course "revolutionaries" since as Robespierre, Lenin, Stalin or Trotsky they cut heads and they called to work a lot to develop the productive forces!

For "politicists", "economy" is really a matter apart and this although they are so "revolutionary" in "politics". They are not only reformists (counterrevolutionaries) in "socio-economics" (not any attack to Capital but its juridico-statist centralization), but they especially always end up letting come through the door what they told to expel through the window: managementism.

All the Leninists are partisans of the worker control (as an accounting, administrative control) of the capitalistic production.

The incomprehension of the totality (or rather of the total opposition between dictatorship of the Capital and dictatorship against the Capital) reaches its apogee while affirming to have achieved the proletarian revolution from the political point of view, while affirming that the dictatorship of the proletariat exists, whereas socially the wage labour has not been bring into question and the rate of profit continues to exercise the real command in all economy (that is to say the efficient dictatorship of exchange value against usage value stays in all its terms). (4)

It is important to emphasize that this social democrat conception already existing before Marx, had been completely rejected by him. For Marx, the dictatorship of the proletariat doesn't begin from a governmental, political change, but well as social dictatorship, when each producer receives a part of the product that corresponds to the contribution of his work (cf. Critique of the program of Gotha, the most important program of the German social democracy). We don't agree with this last point, because from the Communist point of view, nothing justifies a phase where the labour is the criteria of distribution. But what is essential in Marx's position against the Lenin's and his bunch one, it is the necessarily social content of the dictatorship and the revolution.

That doesn't have a sense for Marx as for us, to speak about the dictatorship of the proletariat if production continues to be directed by the law of value. The dictatorship of the proletariat begins exactly with the despotism against value, when the society is effectively directed not for Capital, but against it.

Therefore the proposition affirming that what differentiates revolution from reformism is the violent revolution, the revolutionary terrorism, etc... is completely erroneous.

It is a necessary condition, but in no way sufficient. Capital can be and had been reformed on basis of violence and "revolutionary" terrorism.

It is clear that to speak about proletarian revolution without revolutionary violence, without dictatorship of the proletariat organized in Communist party, without revolutionary terrorism against all the organized counterrevolution is either a symptom of stupidity, either of cynicism.

It will be always necessary to emphasize, all the more today, after the gigantic counterrevolution we still suffer, where the dominant ideology pushes to a right-wing, anti-revolutionary critique of leninism: refusal of the necessity of proletarian insurrection, refusal of the necessity of red terror, refusal of the necessity of the Party's dictatorship,...

But to clearly differentiate revolution from reformism it is necessary as Marx did, to consider the social revolution as the centre of the question, that is to say the total destruction of the society of Capital, the abolition of the wage labour, of the private property...

This is what really differentiates revolution from counterrevolution.

Insurrection, dictatorship, violence, terrorism,... are only means (the proletariat is forced to use) and as such, they don't contain any specific social determination. They are revolutionary or counterrevolutionary according to the social project they objectively support (independently from the will or declarations of their agents).

It is therefore also stupid to assign to violence, to terrorism, to dictatorship an intrinsic virtue (as revolutionary in itself), than to consider they are by nature not revolutionary.

Unfortunately, one notes that until today, this is the classic polarization the bourgeoisie succeeded in maintaining within the proletariat to divide it.

Dictatorship of the proletariat and destruction of the bourgeois State

The proletariat cannot be content with the seizure of power, and the appropriation of the bourgeois State and to use it for its own (what is actually impossible!!!).

The proletariat will be able to achieve its revolutionary social project only by destroying completely the bourgeois State. Dictatorship of the proletariat doesn't mean occupation of the bourgeois State, either by workers or by a worker party, but well the efficient negation of the bourgeois State.

As all central aspect of the revolution program, social democracy had to tamper with it. In the same way as it will treat as utopians the partisans of the attack against Capital and wage labour, and from blanquists to the adepts of the revolutionary conspiracy, it will treat as anarchists the revolutionary proletarians who support the destruction of the bourgeois State.

Nevertheless, the invariant struggle of the proletariat for the destruction of Capital and State continues to develop and to express against social democracy, despite in many cases, this rupture didn't lead to a formalisation (in numerous places of this world, the most lucid expressions of Communism never was formally a part of social democracy).

Although all along his militant life, Lenin never broke with the methodological foundations of social democracy, on several times, he positioned objectively, at the head of the proletariat, he also placed himself as part of the vanguard theoretical expression of the rupture of the proletariat with social democracy.

Thus, in the continuity with Marx and many other revolutionaries and in particular (among those who began to break with social democracy after been a part of it) with Pannekoek; Lenin, in a crucial moment of the world revolution (1917), reemphasized the necessity of the destruction of the bourgeois State.

Of course, for this reason he was qualified as anarchist. As the stalinists, socialists, trotskyists,... today, the central social democracy considered as anarchists those who would reframe this central aspect of the Communist program: the destruction of the bourgeois State. According to them, it was necessary to occupy the State, to use it for social democracy and this is how progressively it would die out.

Lenin reaffirms the invariant position of the Communists in "The State and the Revolution" (as even more clearly than Marx and Engels): the bourgeois State doesn't die out, it is necessary to destroy it; the State that will die out will be the one of the dictatorship of the proletariat.

During the revolutionary wave of 1917-23 the affirmation "without destruction of the bourgeois State, no revolution" was crucial (and it will be all the more in the future).

This programmatical reaffirmation was decisive for the proletariat's autonomisation of this time and constitutes a fundamental contribution of Lenin. But Lenin was not consequent (particularly from October '17) with this fundamental position, and all his epigones hurried to forget the bourgeois State has necessarily to be destroyed.

In the critique of leninism, of the social democrat conception, it would have been biased not to emphasize this Lenin's tentative of rupture with his own politicist and social democrat vision. Nevertheless, it would be just as biased to omit to say that even in this works (The State and the Revolution), probably the most radical, Lenin stays marked by the social democrat thought.

Indeed, even if he proclaims the destruction of the bourgeois State, this one continues to be conceived as an instrument to the service of a class, and not as the organic expression of the production and life relations, that a class holds (as organization of a class in dominant class).

In other words the rupture is reduced to the politic because the dictatorship of the proletariat is not only conceived as dictatorship directed against the law of value and wage labour, but as simple political dictatorship; but moreover the conception of the State as an instrument is maintained, what implies the possibility to change its direction to serve a different politics.

If the State would be an instrument like a rifle or a hammer, anybody could take it and use it to serve his interests (5). This position of the State as instrument, with which Lenin never completely broke, even in "The State and the Revolution" will overtly be supported by the bolsheviks at their arrival in the Kremlin and will be decisive so that Capital transforms them into its predilection agents.

The State is not only a simple instrument, but well the structuring into organized forces of the reproduction of society. The State of Capital is nothing else than Capital organized in State: no political dictatorship can destroy it.

The bourgeois State can't be politically destroyed. Even if the dictatorship would really be a total dictatorship against all institutions and old administrators of Capital (what the bolsheviks didn't have courage nor the perspective to achieve), the State (as long as the law of value governing the society won't be destroyed) would continue to exist as a State reproductive of Capital, independently of those who would pretend to direct it.

To destroy the State of Capital, it is necessary to destroy Capital, that is to say the basis from which it is stem from. This ABC of marxism was not understood by any social democrat (any bolshevik!). Speak about the dictatorship of the proletariat, destruction of the bourgeois State without a dictatorship against the law of value is a meaningless.

Without the social exercise of the dictatorship of the proletariat, without dictatorship against Capital, the capitalist State won't stop reproducing, apart from the intentions and men that would be at its head (as for the bolsheviks from '17).

Against utopianism

Following our critique of the social democrat conception of transition to socialism, many hoped to find a magic, positive recipe, of socialist transformation and why not, a description of the way we imagine the future society.

The social democrat self-defense won't hesitate to call us utopians, idealists, because we don't have anything "concrete to propose".

It is exactly because we reject idealism, utopianism (once again today against the current, facing the decomposition of the present society, utopianism comes back into fashion!), that we don't have a recipe, nor any preconceived mould where we would want to cast the future society.

But today, as more than one century ago, we perfectly know how the future society won't be. We perfectly know that we must revolutionarily deny all the present society while suppressing the private property, wage labour, Capital, State, family, religion,... which implies, today as yesterday, to act in real, practical opposition (that is to say also theoretical) to all the forms of perpetuation and reform of the present society (which includes the opposition to all false conceptions of transition).

Those who will pretend this is not a clear perspective for the future, that doesn't represent the definition of a social project, they don't understand anything to dialectic and historic materialism. Negation is a definition, the only materialistic definition already existing as unavoidable negation of the present society.

The difference between utopianism and revolutionary Communism is not that the first defines and the second not; but well that while the first defines from a whole of desires and a moral conception, Communism defines from the abolition in act of the present society.

The Communist conception of transition emerges from the (theoretico-practical) critique of all the present society achieved by the proletariat organized in Party, as well as all false conceptions of transition. The historico-real transition from Capitalism to Communism will be above all an active, organized and each time more conscious negation of Capital and all its adaptations to tempt to perpetuate (reforms).

It is the reason why, in the historic battles of the past, the revolutionary program has always asserted itself as a coherent whole of negations (dictatorship of the proletariat for the abolition of wage labour, money, democracy,...), as a critique of the false conceptions of transition (real barriers against revolution, to reload Capital) from Proudhon, Lassalle, Bernstein, Kautsky,... Lenin, Trotsky, Stalin,... Mao Tse Tung, Ho-Chi-Min, Fidel Castro...

This is the place the critical summary we made about the social democrat conception of transition to socialism occupies in our global work about the " Russian question" (or more generally about the highest period of revolution and counterrevolution until now in the world).

As such, it is patrimony of the proletariat and its Party, in its struggle to constitute and to assert itself to abolish from the bottom to the top all the bourgeois society.

Social democracy and the Russian question

Never, in any part of the world, the social democrat conception of transition to socialism didn't have as much weight than in Russia from '17. It was the first time a party schooled in this way controlled, decided and imposed (nearly alone despite the force relation and the social contradictions) the economic and social policy of a whole country. We have to emphasize the importance of these central decisions guided by the conception of which we criticized the foundations.

But if the bolsheviks strictly applied a policy of national capitalistic development, this was not only an implicit and unavoidable consequence of the social democrat conception, but especially that in the Russian case, the international social democracy explicitly defended this project of defense and development of Capital as the only alternative!

Indeed, the idealization of the Capitalism achieved by the international social democracy, peculiar to its general vision (cf. the beginning of this text) prevented it to recognize the real Capitalism in Russia, especially when this Capitalism persisted under its most barbaric and "not civilized" forms: absolute, extreme misery in most of the part of the territory, generalized despotism of the czarist State,...

In the misery of the Russian proletariat, social democracy only saw misery, the poor, the great mass of "peasants" and not that it contains the seeds of the revolutionary proletarian subversion.

Neither the international social project of revolution, of which the forewarning signs in Russia were visible since the early century, nor its subject, were understood by the international social democracy (including the Russian one). For social democracy, assume the proletarian revolution and socialism in Russia didn't have any sense (let aside the fact that social democrat "socialism" is bourgeois, that is to say a simple reform and extension of Capital): what was topical was a bourgeois revolution, the democratico-bourgeois tasks.

Worser, Russia was considered as the barbaric country par excellence, the enemy number one of progress and civilization. It is the reason why, in inter-capitalist contradictions, social democracy stood without hesitation to the side of European capitalistic forces. This constitutes a fundamental element of interpretation of counterrevolution that has completely been eclipsed by the myth of the treason of '14. (6)

It is the reason why all the international and Russian social democracy adopted with so much easiness the defeatist position on the Russian side (czarism was considered by all, including bolsheviks and mensheviks, as an obstacle to the Capitalism they recommended), in the same way as they justified (except marginal cases like Luxemburg, Jogiches,...) all capitalist national struggle against czarism in the name of the right to self-determination (while basing itself on Marx's and Engels' texts). (7)

This thesis of the Russian barbarism opposite the progressism of German capital, was constant since the early century until '17, and from this date it continued to act a fundamental role in the national policy (the bolsheviks' model was the German capitalism) and international (Brest-Litovsk, Rapallo,... agreements) recommended and applied by the Bolsheviks.

Above all, social democracy had brought its national vision (and not worldwide!) of the development of Capitalism until the extreme logical limit: according to it, on one hand the revolution of the proletariat had to achieve country by country; on another hand, considering it depended on contradictions of the production relations/ productive forces, it was therefore logical that one can long for the proletarian revolution where the productive forces were "less developed" and that mechanically, the outline of the proletarian revolution was the consequence of such a development. Therefore, country by country, from advanced Germany to under-developed Russia, one could achieve the proletarian revolution.

If in Germany or England the proletarian revolution had not achieved, it had no sense to assume it in Russia, and do it amounted to adventurism, anarchism,... The satisfaction of the Russian social democracy about the pseudo "revolution" of February '17 (8), its support to the provisional government and its "peace" imperialistic policy (until Lenin's arrival and the Theses of April), proves to us until which point this conception was dominant. It is even more clear with the fact that on basis of this ideal and this arguing (we must wait for revolution in Germany), an important fraction of the Bolshevik Party opposed to insurrection (the "old bolsheviks" who supported bolsheviks' invariant positions, mainly directed by Kamenev and Zinoviev), betrayed, denounced and sabotaged it. The days following the insurrectionary victory, this fraction proposed to abandon this "adventurous enterprise" and to tempt to reconstitute a government with the unity of all parties.

The real importance of the movement of the proletariat in Russia brought into question many times this reactionary theory and even pushed, since the early century, some militants of the Russian social democracy directly implied in this reality, to recognize the possibility of the proletarian revolution without passing by a "bourgeois democracy" stage, first condition inescapable according to the ideology of the international social democracy.

Thus, first Parvus, then mainly Trotsky, maintained against the current, that didn't have any sense neither the fact to conceive nationally, country by country, the contradictions that push to the revolution, nor the fact to make depend on a linear way, on the economic development of a country, the possibilities of the proletariat of this country to stand on the centre of the struggle. According to them, these possibilities depended on other "subjective" factors as the experience of the struggle, organization, conscience,...

They concluded the proletariat in Russia was a decisive revolutionary force.

This theory strongly influenced the international revolutionary movement, since the early century (1903) until our days, including the bolsheviks fraction which supported the necessity of the proletarian revolution and directed the insurrection. Despite its obvious radicalism, this theory didn't yet constitute a basic rupture.

It remained prisoner of the religious myth according to which Capitalism "must" develop country by country, that this task is incumbent upon the national bourgeoisie. But if it can't do it, because of its weakness, the proletariat (with the help of peasantry or not according to the variants) has as task to achieve the projects of bourgeoisie: it is well an apologetic and deeply religious idealization of Capital.

This implied a change as for the subject of the revolution to come (one recognized the proletariat as subject) (9), as well as a change of tactics within the social democrat party, but no difference as for the social content of the future revolution: it was necessary to accomplish the democratico-bourgeois tasks.

Worser, these conceptions apparently "revolutionary" compared with the official theses of social democracy, in the facts, would be useful to justify as much better, in the name of the proletariat, the bourgeois national development. Even if the proletariat had the strength to impose itself facing the bourgeoisie, it could not apply its social program, but well the social program of its historic enemy. (10)

It was the missing link for the explicit apology of State Capitalism and Capitalism in the name of the proletariat. In Russia, it resulted in facts in the physical liquidation, still in the name of the proletariat, of all opposition to the bourgeois projects of increase of the exploitation rate, in view of a new phase of industrialization that will reach its apogee during Stalinism.

To end this general critique of the social democrat conception, decisive to understand the Russian question, we must explain that the split in the Russian social democracy between bolsheviks and mensheviks didn't refer to the basic conception, that is to say the social project that it was necessary to impulse in the revolution to come.

Maintain that a split between revolution and reformism occurred between bolsheviks and mensheviks, it is to remain prisoner of the reformist, politicist vision of social democracy. In the facts, bolshevik and menshevik fractions defended the same project for Russia: the realization of bourgeois tasks.

The whole of texts (fundamentally "What to do?") and the organizational attitude of the bolsheviks, that drove to the "rupture" towards the social democrat party, didn't question thisgeneral reformism in principle (even if bolsheviks had a more violent, more "revolutionary" vision of the way to arrive to this reformism), but they limited themselves to the aspects of organizational structure.

The menshevik vision of the revolutionary organization stands without any doubt in the perspective of a classic, unionist and parliamentary social democrat party. The bolsheviks' one, on the contrary (even if the rupture with parliamentarianism and unionism is also not present), corresponds to an insurrectionalist, conspirative and uncompromising strategy unconcerned by a popularity loss, strategy peculiar to all past and future revolutionary groups.

It is the reason why after a deep organizational crisis in 1917, a fraction able to serve and to direct the proletariat during the insurrection could emerge from the bolsheviks, task that the mensheviks could never have assumed. (11)

We are facing the same problem when we criticized the radical politicist vision and its so-called rupture with reformism. Such a basis rupture doesn't exist! An organizational structure suitable to the defense of some position against the current, to the organization and the centralization of struggles of the proletariat, to the direction of insurrection,... constitute a necessary and indispensable condition to serve the proletariat and to direct its insurrectionary victory, but it is not sufficient to lead a real Communist revolution and to constitute the vanguard of the international centralization of the proletariat.

The essential limit of the proletarian movement (of its constitution in international force and in party), at the apogee of the revolutionary wave of 1917-1923, is to have not produced an organized vanguard on the basis of a general rupture with the whole of social democracy, with as consequence that an organization as the bolsheviks' one completely dominated by the social democrat conception of the world and its transformation (12) took over the formal leadership of the proletariat not only in Russia, but all over the world.

The results were the next ones:

- In Russia bolsheviks became administrators of national Capital, leaders of the bourgeois State and the bloodthirsty chiefs of all the repression against the proletarian and Communist struggle.

- On the international ground, bolsheviks formalized the necessity for the proletariat to organize in a worldwide force, while constituting a structure (the Third International) they exerted since the beginning to put into the service of Capital and the needs of the Russian national State. This work will materialize through the liquidation of internationalist fractions and will reach its apogee with the popular front, socialism in only one country, purges, imperialistic war,...


1. It is more correct to express so the reality since the real subject is not social democracy but well Capitalism, as political party for its workers.

2. These programmatical affirmations must not be understood only as the social project of a class or a party; they are the necessary development of the war against value that all worker struggle implies (immediate opposition to the rate of profit), in the same way as it implies the organic centralization as way to be.

3. Among others that the mode of production determines the mode of distribution, that the right (or other ideologies) is the formal expression of the economic relation; that the politics, although it enjoy a relative autonomy, is in last process determined by economy,...

4. Lenin's epigones have pushed this incomprehension more farther. Thus, for Trotsky, a worker State can exist where the society is directed against the worker interests (!!!), a socialist mode of production coexisting with a bourgeois mode of distribution (!!!), socialist production relations determining a bourgeois right (!!!),...

5. Even instruments are socially determined and not neutral, but this debate passes the object of this text and the critique of social democracy. This one never understood that the existing productive forces are those of Capital and even if they constitute a basis of the revolution (for the fast reduction of the workweek for example), they will have in last process to be completely replaced by others whose conception is bound to the human needs and not to the valorization of the value.

6. While leaving aside the implicit or explicit support to the imperialistic national policy that social democracy will support since its origin until 1914.

7. One knows that Marx and Engels defended about that topic a nationalistic bourgeois position: the support to armament and the war on the Prussian side. Engels will even end up overtly recommending the "patriotic" position adopted by social democracy in 1914:

"In 1891, when the bursting of a conflict between Germany, on one side and Russia and France on the other seems imminent, Engels assures to Bebel and other socialist leaders that if Germany is attacked "all means to defend are good": they must "launch themselves against the Russians and their allies whatever they are". It might even be that, Engels maintains, in this case we would be the only real and determined bellicose party." (Pedro Scaron, in "The introduction to Marx and Engels" - Materials for the history of Latin America, the quotations come from MEW t.38, 176, 188, 176).

8. Actually, satisfied with the statist and bourgeois channelling (substitution of czarism by a government of all the bourgeoisie) that, in fact, expressed the general will of Capital to deviate and liquidate the real proletarian revolution that emerged.

9. Proletarian was identified with urban worker, big city inhabitant. This sociological vision is typically social democrat. By this, one defined the proletariat not only as a class in itself, without considering its struggle dynamics (nor its social project and its constitution in party), but also, one ignored the socialist potential of the farming proletariat, at the basis of the czarist army and its subversive decomposition. This last was defined as the "peasants" category and the watchword: "The land to the one who work it" was assigned to it as perspective.

10. Trotsky's position about the "permanent Revolution" (that, despite the positively similar expressions, is different from Marx's position), according to which the proletariat could accomplish the bourgeois tasks and its own revolution at the same time, forget that the bourgeois tasks are the brutal and terrorist negation of the proletariat and its project since they constitute the efficient dictatorship of the valorization of value against all tentative of proletarian resistance.

11. This is indissociable with the fact that at least until October 1917, only Lenin's fraction was consequent with the revolutionary defeatism.

12. The myth of the "infallible party" and the "old bolsheviks" maintained the formal unit of a completely contradictory formal organization, that didn't at all coincide with the real vanguard of the proletariat that had achieved the insurrection. This organization supported as big chiefs, the traitors of the day before (Zinoviev and Kamenev), and will quickly change into a personalist and individualist breeding ground of fierce struggles for the power.



Dictatorship of the Proletariat for the Abolition of Wage Labour

Central review in English of the Internationalist Communist Group (ICG)