General Remarks on the Party and Its Dictatorship

Army officers swear allegiance to the new government in Palace Square, before the Winter Palace. November-December 1917.

I. (General introduction)

What is the state? It is, at its simplest, the collective mechanisms of class rule — it is the régime, ancien or otherwise: the highest, largest and most enveloping set of processes and organised power within a society. Those that live within its reach are forced — for the idea of a non-compulsory state is oxymoronic — to abide by its dictates; if they will not, they must either leave the state’s territories, surrender to its power and face whatever consequences result therefrom, or otherwise overthrow the state and institute their own.

II. (Ideological presentation of proletarian state power)

The bourgeois state and the proletarian state are entirely different beasts. Ideologically speaking, the revolutionary bourgeois class ‘presented its future post-feudal state not as a class state but as a people’s state based on the abolition of every inequality before the law’, yet all the facets of this state structure are, ultimately, characteristic ‘of a regime which conceals and protects the dictatorship of one class under an external cloak which is multi-class and multi-party’.⁷ The proletariat, constituting as it does the vast majority of the population not just within any single nation or region but of the entire species, has nothing to fear from naked truths, and ‘openly asserts that its future state will be a class state, i.e. a tool wielded by one class as long as classes exist. The other classes will be excluded from the state and outlawed in fact as well as in principle’.⁸ Having taken power, the workers ‘will share it with no one’.⁹ In the place of ideology, which is false consciousness, the proletariat will provide naked power, both the consequence and a driver of class consciousness.

III. (Formal structure of proletarian state power)

Regarding the formal structure of state power under the dictatorship of the proletariat, not much of any specificity can be said. This does not mean, however, that nothing of substance can be said:

IV. (Closing remarks)

The state is a tool — a weapon, and, for those who care about such things, no weapon has morals in and of itself. Only when the sword is taken up and brandished in anger does it become an instrument of war and not simply a sliver of metal. The state is much the same. The anarchist view of the state is one of an enemy of “the people” (that most empty and bourgeois of terms), one that is inherently undesirable and wretched, whoever straddles it. Marxism is not so naïve, not so utopian: the state serves her masters, and serves them well; when the working class reigns, the state delivers its terror upon the counterrevolution and with it the transition to socialism can progress. Without it, the working class movement is simply destroyed the instance the bourgeois reaction can organise itself anew.


¹ We do not mean to imply instrumentalism by this.

Philosophy. Writing on Marxism, eliminativism in philosophy of mind and metaethics, suffering(-focused ethics), and philosophical pessimism.

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