General Remarks on the Party and Its Dictatorship
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.
A state’s legitimacy is a simple matter: it stands beyond legitimisation. The state, by its very existence, defines legitimacy and right. It is the measure, the standard, to which everything else is compared. Liberal ideology has in the past mostly posited social contract theories (Hobbes, Locke, Rousseau), and more contemporaneously utilitarian justifications (Bentham, Mill, Popper), as to why the state exists — and indeed why it should exist. These ideological posturings are evidently bourgeois in origin, and reflect the socioeconomic structures that gave rise to them: they begin from the premise of the free, atomic, rational individual. In the precapitalist era, states were justified by divine law: the Crown, indeed the very person of the monarch, who was the sole and absolute location of sovereignty within the state system, was an agent of God, and as such his commands were of equal weight with those of the Church, if not above them (see praemunire). Under caesaropapism, there can be no distinction between secular and divine authority on earth. Once again, the era’s ideology reflected its socioeconomy: its starting premise was the collective human community under God; common ownership, common fealty, common faith. In the ancient world, the pinnacle of political philosophy was to be found amongst the Greeks, and here the question of legitimate power did not even occur. Far from positing a “might makes right” doctrine, the realism of the period simply admitted to a law of nature that the weak suffer what they must, and the strong do what they will (Thucydides). The starting premise of such thought was the undeniable power of men over men, supremely realised in the literal ownership of living human bodies upon which the entire society depended. In every epoch, therefore, we see the historical confirmation of the proposition that the material precedes the ideal, and in fact gives rise to and even determines it.
This is a conclusion belonging, in its most sophisticated form, to Marxism. Just as liberalism is the theoretical framework of the bourgeoisie and its epoch, Marxism is that of the proletariat. Its starting premise is the intractable conflict between classes, a conflict engendered by objective physical determination. Marx is clear in his understanding of the state: it is an instrument of class rule.¹ ‘The executive of the modern state is but a committee for managing the common affairs of the whole bourgeoisie’.² Those that control the means of production control the society, and those that control the society have the exclusive right — the exclusive ability — to exercise the power of the state.
And so Lenin wrote that the ‘passing of state power from one class to another is the first, the principal, the basic sign of a revolution, both in the strictly scientific and in the practical political meaning of that term’.³ ‘The seizure of power by armed force, the settlement of the issue by war, is the central task and the highest form of revolution’.⁴ The bourgeoisie, in laying claim to and then cementing their power, waged war on the medieval state, and, stripping the landed aristocracy of its monopoly on power through violent insurrection, having already supplanted the traditional economic forms with their own, seized power. Such a revolutionary event happened in Russia in 1917 — not once, but twice. In quick succession, first, the bourgeois-democratic struggle was brought to a victorious conclusion with the fall of the tsarist régime in March and the formation of the provisional governments of Lvov and Kerensky; and then, in November, for the first time in history, the proletariat, ousting the Provisional Government, realised their maximal class demands, enacting a workers’ régime to replace both the liberal and autocratic orders that had preceded them. In the span of a single year, state power had been held by no less than three classes of Russian society. The most significant element of this social churning was that it marked the first time that not just the proletariat, but any class, had seized power with an understanding of what that truly meant.
Mao Zedong famously taught that ‘[p]olitical power grows out of the barrel of a gun’.⁵ Truly there is no more succinct and accurate description of politics — which is, at its core, the systematised control and regulation of violence — than this. Anything that suggests otherwise is an obfuscation; such obfuscations serve an agenda, and all but always one of the ruling class. Class consciousness consists of the realisation of this truth, a realisation of one’s own interests qua a social and political being, and an accurate assessment of the balance of power between the various social fractions and classes.
This truth is conveyed, with all the magisterial prowess of history, in the example of the final days and hours of the Russian Provisional Government, a story of awesome desperation. First Kerensky’s coalition, and then, after his flight and in a final gasp of republicanism, drawing in panic from the repertoire left to them by history, the pitiful dictatorship of Kishkin, desperately attempted to draw to themselves any semblance of a military power. Hour by hour, street by street, bridge by bridge, loyalist forces slipped like sand through the fingers of the vanishing government as its ministers huddled next to telegram wires relaying futile order after futile order, piteous cry for aid after piteous cry for aid to the few voices still able to hear them. Like rats from a sinking ship, the garrison abandoned their government — first cadets, then the Women’s Death Battalion, then shock troops sent to reinforce them, fled from the vital city bridges without firing a shot, until all that was left were the three thousand Cossacks and cadets guarding the persons of the cabinet. And, once the Aurora had shattered the nighttime quiet, the last of the organised power of the bourgeois state bled like so many lesions from the grounds of the Winter Palace. All this, the culmination of a move by Kerensky against the Bolsheviks that had been made but a day prior on the belief that his armed power was superior to that of the Military Revolutionary Committee, a judgement far from absurd when the garrison of the Peter and Paul Fortress had refused to support the MRC’s preparations until the very night before. A third possible outcome momentarily presented itself as the fate of the Provisional Government became totally undeniable, namely that of the Mensheviks and Socialist-Revolutionaries seizing power and, likewise looting the images of long-gone glories, declare a Committee for Public Safety, establishing a proletarian government. Only hours before Kishkin surrendered himself and his government to the Soviet’s forces, this had seemed so possible as to be set in motion, and to receive the frantic support of the Soviet’s Executive Committee. It was, however, made impotent by the almost blind stumbling of the various detachments loyal to the MRC, who lurched, sometimes under orders, sometimes not, sometimes directly against them, towards the final necessity of Bolshevik power. The day belonged to the MRC, because it was to the MRC that the loyalty of the critical mass of the guns in Petrograd belonged. And so we see that the success of the move against Kerensky depended upon the insufficient number and commitment of government troops in the city on the day, an insufficiency amounting to perhaps as little as a few hundred soldiers — a quantum which a half-handful of hours before Kerensky had thought, with good reason, to be his. How the hubris of men and their best designs vanish in the face of history and her fickle whims.⁶
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.
However, as evidenced by history,
Any social class whose power has been overthrown, even if it is by means of terror, survives for a long time within the texture of the social organism. Far from abandoning its hopes of revenge, it seeks to politically reorganise itself and to re-establish its domination either in a violent or disguised way. It has turned from a ruling class into a defeated and dominated one, but it has not instantly disappeared.¹⁰
As such, the proletarian state, by its very nature, engages in a systematic attack against the bourgeoisie and its leading elements; it crushes them, destroying all threats to the ongoing transition to socialism, which is predicated on the sublation of class struggle which is achieved by the final victory of the proletariat over the other classes.
In order to wage this struggle against the conditions which give rise to struggle, the proletarian state abandons all ideological posturing about democratic legitimacy and all pretensions towards pluralistic political processes. Where the bourgeois state was in reality mono-class and mono-party, yet in image multi-class and multi-party, the proletarian state is open in declaring its class character and political form: dictatorship.
[T]he communist party will rule alone, and will never give up power without a physical struggle. […] The dictatorship advocated by Marxism is necessary because it cannot be unanimously accepted and furthermore it will not have the naiveté to abdicate for lack of having a majority of votes, if such a thing were ascertainable. […] The revolution requires a dictatorship, because it would be ridiculous to subordinate the revolution to a 100 % acceptance or a 51 % majority.¹¹
And, as it is self-evident that ‘the class party can include in its ranks only a part of the class itself, never the whole nor even perhaps the majority of it’, it makes no attempt to portray the rule of a class through its party as the direct, unmediated rule of that class, and most certainly of the population as a whole.¹² In short, attempts to secure what liberalism understands as a democratic mandate are seen to be both futile and unnecessary for the party and its revolution. The rule of the workers is predicated upon a favourable balance of power, in the final instance resulting from an inequality of physical force and the capacity thereof (weapons and those capable of using them), not upon a certain percentile of popular support.¹³
The class destined to vanquish class society itself has no need of the propaganda and sophistry of traditional class rule; we can, and should, state in no uncertain terms that the only viable or genuine expression of our political interests is a class dictatorship won and maintained by force of arms for the exclusive benefit of our class at the expense of the other’s. All previous ruling classes have done the same, simply not admitted it in the interest of their own self-preservation as the dominant class of the day. To deny the true state of affairs, however, is to do damage to our class rule. Only when ideas of “freedom” and “democracy” — bourgeois ideas — become introduced, clouding the political reality behind a veil of fancy words and phrases, do the material interests of the mass of humanity begin to take second place to abstract ideals. The working class ‘have no ready-made utopias to introduce par décret du peuple [by people’s decree]. […] They have no ideals to realise’, but rather only set themselves the humble task of ‘set[ting] free the elements of the new society with which old collapsing bourgeois society itself is pregnant’.¹⁴ ‘[W]hat a crime it is to attempt’, then,
on the one hand, to force on our Party again, as dogmas, ideas which in a certain period had some meaning but have now become obsolete verbal rubbish, while again perverting, on the other, the realistic outlook, which it cost so much effort to instill into the Party but which has now taken root in it, by means of ideological nonsense about right and other trash so common among the democrats […].¹⁵
As we have said, ‘[t]he ideas of the ruling class are in every epoch the ruling ideas, i.e. the class which is the ruling material force of society, is at the same time its ruling intellectual force’.¹⁶ It follows, therefore, that the ruling ideas in the era of proletarian rule will not and cannot be those that are ruling now. It also follows that, class consciousness being an absence of ideology and ideology an absence of class consciousness, the state and the party will strive to eliminate all ideology regarding themselves. What will be left is naked state terror to our enemies, and invaluable social and economic force to us and our friends, with both groups seeing fully both natures towards the respective social blocs.
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:
The essence of Marx’s theory of the state has been mastered only by those who realise that the dictatorship of a single class is necessary not only for every class society in general, not only for the proletariat which has overthrown the bourgeoisie, but also for the entire historical period which separates capitalism from “classless society”, from communism. Bourgeois states are most varied in form, but their essence is the same: all these states, whatever their form, in the final analysis are inevitably the dictatorship of the bourgeoisie. The transition from capitalism to communism is certainly bound to yield a tremendous abundance and variety of political forms, but the essence will inevitably be the same: the dictatorship of the proletariat.¹⁷
We have established, then, that this new state will be a dictatorship of the class. This is its general form. We must now establish its precise form. This form, the way in which the state organises itself, is that of a single-party state without any distinctions between executive and legislature. Two things to demonstrate, then: the leadership of the party and the unity of the party-state.
To demonstrate the necessity of the exclusive role of the party, it is enough to merely grasp what a party is. A party consists of the leading elements of a class organised for the purpose of political struggle. Marxists, seeing society as fundamentally a changing and not a static thing, define class not in terms of abstract dividing criteria, be that income or even relation to the means of production (though this a key part), but in terms of social movement. Movement implies aims; aims imply understanding of one’s context, and this understanding can only but arise in a minority of a class owing to the nature of ideology. Not only is there ‘no contradiction in the fact that the political party of the working class […] includes in its ranks only a part, a minority, of the class’, we cannot, in fact, even
speak of a class in historical movement without the existence of a party which has a precise consciousness of this movement and its aims, and which places itself at the vanguard of this movement in the struggle.
[T]he political party is the only organism which possesses on one hand a general historical vision of the revolutionary process and of its necessities and on the other hand a strict organisational discipline ensuring the complete subordination of all its particular functions to the final general aim of the class. […]
A party is that collection of people who have the same general view of the development of history, who have a precise conception of the final aim of the class they represent, and who have prepared in advance a system of solutions to the various problems which the proletariat will have to confront when it becomes the ruling class. It is for this reason that the rule of the class can only be the rule of the party.
The party is the indispensable organ of all class action even if we consider the immediate necessities of the struggles which must culminate in the revolutionary overthrow of the bourgeoisie. In fact we cannot speak of a genuine class action (that is an action that goes beyond the trade interests and immediate concerns) unless there is a party action.¹⁸
Understanding this to be so, we come to realise that there can be no class dictatorship without party dictatorship; indeed the denial of the latter is the denial of the former. Nothing less. A class in motion is synonymous with a class whose leading elements have organised themselves into a party for the purpose of struggle and organising the motions of the class as a whole. Therefore we can see that:
The proletarian state can only be “animated” by a single party and it would be senseless to require that this party organise in its ranks a statistical majority and be supported by such a majority in “popular elections” — that old bourgeois trap.¹⁹
Counterrevolutionary elements and threats to the revolutionary state
will be a crisis to be liquidated in terms of relationships of force. There is no statistical contrivance which can ensure a satisfactory revolutionary solution; this will depend solely upon the degree of solidity and clarity reached by the revolutionary communist movement throughout the world.²⁰
The proletarian state represents, for the first time in history, the material and thus socio-political interests of the vast majority of the people. From this simple fact an equally simple conclusion can be drawn: namely, that both when the working class is barred from power and when it holds it, it is only benefitted by a frank and open understanding of the thoroughly class- and violence-based nature of state power. In the former situation, the proletarian is aware that society is organised upon his exploitation and that he has no material interest whatsoever in the preservation of the status quo, while in the latter, he sees that he should not be afraid of “tyranny”, that the bourgeoisie are justly and necessarily without power or any abstract formal guarantees, and that should they be granted them, they will use them to undermine and overthrow the régime and institute terror of a previously unprecedented scale and harshness. In short, the stripping away of the pretensions and illusions of the state represent, and reinforce, heightened class consciousness.
Having established the necessity of the exclusive leadership of the party both during and prior to the period of workers’ dictatorship, we now turn to the necessity of the unity of its state organs once it has constructed them. The bourgeoisie established their political supremacy in part on the principle of anti-absolutism. Absolutism, with its paradigmatic expressions in the late French and Prussian monarchies, had characterised the final political forms of the medieval mode of production, reflecting in its politics the increasing centralisation of its economy. Once they had smashed the absolutist régimes, the bourgeoisie continued this process perfectly, but did so under very different means. Whereas centralisation to the prior state forms had meant the weakening of the power of the nobility in favour of the strengthening of the monarch, centralisation under bourgeois state forms meant the repeal of all the ancient privileges and customs of every history-drenched corner of Europe in favour of the unitary government. ‘All fixed, fast-frozen relations, with their train of ancient and venerable prejudices and opinions, are swept away’ by the bourgeois revolution.²¹ In place of the disparate principalities, bishoprics, earldoms, duchies, free cities and all the other ephemera of the once unshakable medieval order, the bourgeois epoch produced nations; cohesive populations bound by their various unities, chief among which being a common government or yearning therefor. In place of dizzying myriad authorities, there was now only one authority: the nation-state.
But this process of nation-building — an ideological efflux of the appearance, for the first time, of national economies — and of further centralisation and socialisation of political activity did not take place, except for during extraordinary periods, under the dictatorship of a single man or a single organisation. Rather, the bourgeois revolutions erected remarkable structures: representative democracies, or at least the early attempts at such a thing. Sovereignty was no longer thought to lay with an individual, but with a body, such as a parliament, and even here only to be held in trust for the people as a whole, who, for the bourgeois, are the sole source of legitimacy for sovereign entities. On the basis of popular elections, at first involving only limited parts of the population but in time coming to only formally discriminate on the basis of age, these bourgeois states made a distinction between those branches of itself responsible for the making of laws, for the enforcement of laws, and for the leadership of the country. All these responsibilities had fallen to the crown in the medieval period; in the bourgeois period, they were increasingly clearly delineated.
All these phenomena can be understood as democracy. The bourgeoisie, having taken power, could not sustain themselves purely through terror for any great length of time, as their power as a class was not sufficient to allow for the total destruction of their opponents, and even among themselves there were multiple factions, unable to win any lasting primacy. (The instability of the first revolutionary French governments, culminating in the rule of the Napoleons, demonstrates this.) For these reasons, the programme of open dictatorship was not ultimately available to the bourgeoisie, its brilliant apogee in the form of the Terror and the Law of 22 Prairial notwithstanding.²² As such, it constructed a system that would allow its rule as a class to be maintained, and to allow intraclass fractional disputes to be resolved without threatening the entire state. This system is democracy, winning broad popular consent, both within classes and across all classes as a whole, for the state’s rule.
We must understand this need of the bourgeoisie and of capitalism for long-term stability, beyond simply the need of any social organisation to not fall into chaos. The domination of capital is exercised through an owner-class, the bourgeoisie, and a worker-class, the proletariat, with the former holding power. For the bourgeoisie to exist, they must have access to a workforce. This is to say, the bourgeoisie do not need to merely rule over the proletariat today, or tomorrow, but for all time in perpetuity. Dictatorship, like that implemented during the Terror, is necessary for the bourgeoisie to survive for a day, but democracy is necessary for it to survive for a lifetime. If the bourgeois state were to rely solely on direct, open violence, it would bring upon itself its own destruction by forcing the proletariat to organise itself into a fighting force to overthrow it. By sustaining its rule by consent, having initially established it through dictatorship, the bourgeoisie, therefore, secure their long-term interests, their power unchallengeable within the democratic system as the ideology of the whole population reflects the conditions of their reproduction, namely, capitalism. ‘Democracy and parliamentarianism are indispensable for the bourgeoisie after its victory by force and terror because the bourgeoisie want to rule a society divided into classes’.²³
It should hopefully now be clearer, via negativa, why the nature of proletarian dictatorship is as it is. Quite unlike the bourgeoisie, we have no need to maintain the existence of the other class in perpetuity, indeed the faster we can assimilate them into our own class the better. The proletarian state, instead of seeking its perpetual reproduction, as all previous states have done, seeks to create the conditions for its own sublation. The ascension of the proletariat to state power is the negation of itself as a class, not its affirmation. Further, whereas the bourgeoisie took power as a rising but far from mature class, a massive numerical minority in their societies, the proletariat consists of the vast majority of the population, and, when well armed and well organised, should therefore have the capacity to always overcome by force the internal threats to its dictatorship. Ideological democracy — that is, false consciousness — poses a serious threat to the creation and maintenance of such a favourable balance of power.
Any formal, de jure distinction between the three branches of the state outlined by liberalism is, therefore, absurd to propose for a proletarian state. The party, having won power, embeds itself in the state structure, forming the nucleus of the government. This government then appoints the legislative and judicial wings, to the degree there is any distinction between them. Every single office, every person, every organisational body, is subject to recall by the party and the general worker population at any time, and all state officials receive from the society only according to their labour. This is the check on the power of the individual, not abstract formulae and principles concocted to perfect a bourgeois system.
The proletarian state, as an open class dictatorship, will dispose of all distinctions between the executive and legislative levels of power, both of which will be united in the same organs. The distinction between the legislative and executive is, in effect, characteristic of a regime which conceals and protects the dictatorship of one class under an external cloak which is multi-class and multi-party. “The Commune was a working, not a parliamentary body” (Marx).²⁴
The bourgeoisie, of course, typically established such distinctions, alongside their vaunted democratic processes and much else besides, in formal constitutions. To the bourgeoisie, its state constitution amounts to the ultimate formal guarantor of the current social and political mechanisms. Again, this reflects the need of the bourgeoisie to sustain their rule outwards into the mists of time, a need alien, indeed actively contradictory, to those of a proletarian state.
After the bourgeois political victory and in keeping with a tenacious ideological campaign, constitutional charters or declarations of principles were solemnly proclaimed in the different countries as a basis and foundation of the state. They were considered as being immutable in time, a definitive expression of the at last discovered immanent rules of social life. From then on, the entire interplay of political forces was supposed to take place within the insuperable framework of these statutes.
During the struggle against the existing regime, the proletarian state is not presented as a stable and fixed realisation of a set of rules governing the social relationships inferred from an idealistic research into the nature of man and society. During its lifetime the working class state will continually evolve up to the point that it finally withers away: the nature of social organisation, of human association, will radically change according to the development of technology and the forces of production, and man’s nature will be equally subject to deep alterations always moving away more and more from the beast of burden and slave which he was. Anything such as a codified and permanent constitution to be proclaimed after the workers revolution is nonsense, it has no place in the communist program. Technically, it will be convenient to adopt written rules which however will in no way be intangible and will retain an “instrumental” and temporary character, putting aside the facetiousnesses about social ethics and natural law.²⁵
Owing to the unique history of its national bourgeoisie vis-à-vis the other classes in Britain, the United Kingdom is an arguably unique example to the contrary of the above description of bourgeois states with regard to constitutions. The United Kingdom possesses no constitution, and does not even have a basic law, as most of the handful of other states in the world that lack a codified constitution do. (Those that also have neither a codified constitution nor basic law are Canada and New Zealand, which have inherited their “constitutional” status from their parent state.) Instead, constitutional law is embedded in statute law: some statute law has “constitutional” relevance, that is, pertains to the fundamental functioning and legal capacities of state organs. These laws have no special distinction from other laws, such that the description of any given Act of Parliament as being constitutional law is nothing more than a statement on its perceived importance, and has no objectivity or dividing criteria. Such laws, being in every way indistinguishable from other laws, are therefore free to be revised, replaced, or removed in toto at the whim of the sitting parliamentary session. Such a state of affairs perhaps offers a hint at how a proletarian state would write, enact, review and repeal the laws relating to its own functioning.
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.
For an oppressed class, power is best manifested naked. As proletarians, we have, unequivocally, a side on which to fall in the class struggle. As such, our political goals must include as a matter of necessity the seizure of state power.
The lesson of all revolutionary ventures throughout history is that the revolution that does not seize state power is thwarted. Never, in all human history, has this truth been countered. What’s more, the nature of the dictatorship of the proletariat is that it is exactly that: a dictatorship. Over the course of its lifespan, it will know periods of acute military crisis, as well as ones of relative peace and stability. But at every stage, its starting premise will be the war between the social classes. This is the starting premise, in fact, of all states, whether consciously understood or not. Previous state forms, however, have entered into this fray in order to achieve an indefinite ceasefire, in order to mediate peace treaties and oversee the stabilisation and formalisation of the present state of things. The proletarian state will enter it in order to win it once and for all. The democracy of the bourgeoisie is as dead to us as the divine right of the medieval kings was to Robespierre, and just as we celebrate him, his name and his achievements, so too we celebrate those of Lenin, Trotsky, and the other historic leaders of our class who have launched that final struggle for state power. All true communists know this to be so, and do not fear, but relish the opportunities that lie in controlling the state. It is the only genuine — the only possible — goal of our class. For the purpose of our own survival, we will lash out, and enact a Terror of our own, as the bourgeoisie once did against their opponents. Also like the bourgeoisie, we will create wonders that far surpass the wildest dreams of the ancients, and birth a peace unknown before in all prior history, for the political power of the working class ‘is the beginning of the unification of the species’.²⁶ And, one day, when our arms are heavy with ache, we will lay down the sword, for its task is done. Coercion will give way to community, and out of the furious, seething turbulence of the final epoch of class society, will arise, like a bright sun over a red dawn, the new society.
¹ We do not mean to imply instrumentalism by this.
² K. Marx/F. Engels, Manifesto of the Communist Party
³ V. I. Lenin, Letters on Tactics
⁴ Mao Zedong, “Problems of War and Strategy”
⁵ Ibid. See also “Thirteen Maxims on War”, which is derived from this work.
⁶ To clarify the timeline:
19th Oct.: the troops of the Peter and Paul Fortress refuse to join with the MRC.
23rd Oct.: 12:00: MRC wins the support of the Peter and Paul Fortress.
24th Oct.: 02:30: the government moves to shut Bolshevik presses; 09:00: Bolshevik forces regain control of the presses; afternoon: the government orders the raising of the bridges, with only Palace Bridge remaining passable; 16:00: government troops forced from the Liteiny and Troitsky bridges, hold the Nikolaevsky and Palace bridges; 20:30: SR/Menshevik resolution for the creation of a Committee of Public Safety is passed in the Preparliament; 21:00: MRC troops barricade Troitsky Bridge, blocking access to the Winter Palace.
25th Oct.: 03:00: the Aurora sails into Petrograd, causing government troops to abandon Nikolaevsky Bridge, the last under government control; dawn: Kerensky appeals to the Cossacks for aid, the majority of whom refuse when the government cannot assure them further support from the infantry; 06:00: all government forces outside the Winter Palace have been either disarmed by or defected to the MRC; 11:00: Kerensky flees Petrograd to find reinforcements; 12:00: MRC troops take Mariinsky Palace and the Preparliament within, the Admiralty and naval high command; 14:35: Trotsky informs the Petrograd Soviet that the government ‘no longer exists’; 16:00: Kishkin made dictator; 18:15: large numbers of cadets desert from the Winter Palace; 20:00: 200 Cossacks desert from the Winter Palace, leaving an entire flank effectively unguarded; 21:40: Aurora fires a blank, causing all but small core of troops to desert the Winter Palace; 22:40: Second Congress of Soviets opens after repeated delays from the Bolsheviks.
26th Oct.: 02:00: MRC forces enter the Winter Palace and arrest the cabinet; 05:00: the Congress passes Lenin’s proclamation of Soviet power.
Taken from C. Miéville, October
⁷ A. Bordiga, “Proletarian Dictatorship and Class Party”
¹² A. Bordiga, “Party and Class”
¹³ Mao (“Problems of War and Strategy”) is concise and to the point: ‘whoever has an army has power […] war decides everything’; ‘parties which have guns have power, and those which have more guns have more power’. ‘Communists do not fight for personal military power […], but they must fight for military power for the Party’.
¹⁴ K. Marx, The Civil War in France
¹⁵ K. Marx, Gothakritik
¹⁶ K. Marx/F. Engels, The German Ideology
¹⁷ V. I. Lenin, The State and Revolution
¹⁸ A. Bordiga, “Party and Class Action”
¹⁹ A. Bordiga, “Proletarian Dictatorship and Class Party”
²¹ K. Marx/F. Engels, Manifesto of the Communist Party
²² The Law of 22 Prairial, also known as the Law of the Great Terror, was a piece of emergency legislation during the rule of the provisional Committee of Public Safety. It established that all political offences were to be tried by the Revolutionary Tribunal in the capital, not in the provinces, and that these trials would last for a maximum of three days, without any defence counsel or calling of witnesses. In effect, it reduced the prosecution process to one of bringing the accused to tribunal, stating the accusation, and passing a judgement, which could only be either acquittal or death. The five judges and the twelve jurors in a tribunal were all appointed by the Committee.
²³ From Battaglia communista 18, quoted in J. Camette, “The Democratic Mystification”
²⁴ A. Bordiga, “Proletarian Dictatorship and Class Party”. The quote from Marx is taken from The Civil War in France
²⁶ J. Camette, “The Democratic Mystification”
Althusser, Louis. “Ideology and Ideological State Apparatuses”
Camette, Jacques. “The Democratic Mystification”
Engels, Friedrich. The Origin of the Family, Private Property and the State
Lenin, Vladimir Ilych. The State and Revolution
Marx, Karl. The Civil War in France
Grigory Zinoviev. “Theses on the Role of the Communist Party in the Proletarian Revolution”
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