The question of revolution is a basic one of Marxism. It is fundamental to the entire theory. I will not complicate the issue, because it is not a complex issue, but is very straightforward. Firstly, let us look at the classics.
“On the other hand, the “Kautskyite” distortion of Marxism is far more subtle. “Theoretically”, it is not denied that the state is an organ of class rule, or that class antagonisms are irreconcilable. But what is overlooked or glossed over is this: if the state is the product of the irreconcilability of class antagonisms, if it is a power standing above society and “alienating itself more and more from it”, it is clear that the liberation of the oppressed class is impossible not only without a violent revolution, but also without the destruction of the apparatus of state power which was created by the ruling class and which is the embodiment of this “alienation”. As we shall see later, Marx very explicitly drew this theoretically self-evident conclusion on the strength of a concrete historical analysis of the tasks of the revolution. And – as we shall show in detail further on – it is this conclusion which Kautsky has “forgotten” and distorted.” (Lenin 1917: ch1 para9)
It is evidently clear from this passage. The liberation of the working class is an impossibility without a violent revolution and the smashing of the existing state apparatus. So then, we all know the communist position on this most basic and fundamental of concept. It should be pretty obvious what line a communist party will take. But let us compare the passage above with what the CPB have to say
“The opening stage in Britain’s socialist revolution will have to culminate in the election of a left-wing government at Westminster, based on a socialist, Labour, communist and progressive majority at the polls….
Sweeping measures of reform, restructuring and democratisation will aim to replace the capitalist state apparatus with one that represents the interests of the working class and the whole population. This would establish what Marx and Lenin called the dictatorship of the proletariat, by which they meant simply the rule of the working class.” (BRS: p36+41)
Absolutely no case can be made that these comments are compatible, that they represent the same ideology. Indeed, there are two most blatant contradictions.
Contradiction 1 – Lenin clearly states that liberation is “impossible without a violent revolution”. In contrast the CPB’s revolution is a victory at the polls for the imperialist Labour Party, who in some fantasy land will form a coalition government with some non-existent communist and socialist MP’s.
Contradiction 2 – Lenin also clearly states that the existing state apparatus must be smashed, or once again, liberation is impossible. Again contrast to the CPB mantra that the capitalist state can be reformed away.
Both contradictions are unequivocal. The CPB are at best Kautskyite subtle distorters of Marxism.
Being well enough familiarised with the pseudo-revolutionaries to know how they would respond – At least in the example of the second contradiction they would attempt to make some case that their “reform, restructuring and democratisation” is to smash the state. Of course neither Marx or Lenin ever conceived taking control of the ready made bourgeois state apparatus and then reforming it. Instead the revolution violently smashes the state and replaces it
But again Lenin brilliantly exposes this type of opportunism
“It is safe to say that of this argument of Engels’ (that the proletarian state withers away), which is so remarkably rich in ideas, only one point has become an integral part of socialist thought among modern socialist parties, namely, that according to Marx that state “withers away” – as distinct from the anarchist doctrine of the “abolition” of the state. To prune Marxism to such an extent means reducing it to opportunism, for this “interpretation” only leaves a vague notion of a slow, even, gradual change, of absence of leaps and storms, of absence of revolution. The current, widespread, popular, if one may say so, conception of the “withering away” of the state undoubtedly means obscuring, if not repudiating, revolution.
Such an “interpretation”, however, is the crudest distortion of Marxism, advantageous only to the bourgeoisie.” (Lenin 1917: ch4, para2-3)
For what else could be more akin to “Slow, even, gradual change” than the CPB mantra of “reform, restructuring and democratisation”? The depths of opportunism sunk to by this so-called communist party cannot be concealed.
On the first contradiction they will cry out with their timid quasi-revolutionary phraseology of “extra parliamentary activity”. There are three points to say to this. 1) the extra-parliamentary activity of the CPB and trade union movement generally amounts to selling newspapers and signing petitions. At what point does this become violent revolution? 2) If what they mean by extra parliamentary activity is violent revolution, then why do they not say so? Why do those who claim to be Marxist-Leninists work so tirelessly to conceal their apparent Marxism-Leninism? 3) The very vagueness of their terminology is an attempt to mean all things to all people, without objectively meaning anything. Unlike violent revolution, which is a clear cut concept, extra-parliamentary activity could conceivably represent anything occurring outwith parliament, from striking to eating breakfast.
Rank rotten opportunism and a fraudulent deception.
“The dictatorship of the proletariat can not arise as the result of the peaceful development of bourgeois society and of bourgeois democracy; it can arise only as the result of the smashing of the bourgeois state machine, the bourgeois army, the bourgeois bureaucratic apparatus, the bourgeois police……..
In other words, the law of violent proletarian revolution, the law of the smashing of the bourgeois state machine as a preliminary condition for such a revolution, is an inevitable law of the revolutionary movement in the imperialist countries of the world.” (Stalin 1976: p46)
The BRS debunked by Chairman Harpal Brar of the CPGB-ML
Further Distortion and Deception
If we return to the CPB passage which claims
“The opening stage in Britain’s socialist revolution will have to culminate in the election of a left-wing government at Westminster, based on a socialist, Labour, communist and progressive majority at the polls”.
To hammer the point home ” Britain’s socialist revolution will have to culminate in the election of a left-wing government at Westminster.”
Well once again. what do the classics say? You can probably guess it is a far cry from the CPB’s claims.
“We must also note that Engels is most explicit in calling universal suffrage as well an instrument of bourgeois rule. Universal suffrage, he says, obviously taking account of the long experience of German Social-Democracy, is
“the gauge of the maturity of the working class. It cannot and never will be anything more in the present-day state.”
The petty-bourgeois democrats, such as our Socialist-Revolutionaries and Mensheviks, and also their twin brothers, all the social-chauvinists and opportunists of Western Europe, expect just this “more” from universal suffrage. They themselves share, and instil into the minds of the people, the false notion that universal suffrage “in the present-day state” is really capable of revealing the will of the majority of the working people and of securing its realization.
Here, we can only indicate this false notion, only point out that Engels’ perfectly clear statement is distorted at every step in the propaganda and agitation of the “official” (i.e., opportunist) socialist parties.” (Lenin 1917: ch3, para 7-9)
There we have it from Lenin. It is perfectly clear that the propaganda of the opportunist, supposedly communist party is distorted. Not only have the CPB claimed an election is more than a gauge of the maturity of the working class, in contradiction with Engels. Not only have they instilled in the mind the false and illusory notion that universal suffrage is capable of revealing the will of the people. Not content with all of this, it is an election, suffrage which will mark the culmination of the opening stage of revolution.
The skill of the CPB distortion is that in their short paragraph quoted, there are so many distortions and misrepresentations, that debunking their myth making necessarily becomes long and complex to reveal in entirety – allowing them to easily dupe some well intentioned people.
Lenin 1917 The State and Revolution. Available @ http://www.marxists.org/archive/lenin/works/1917/staterev/
Stalin 1976 Foundations Leninism. Foreign Languages Press, Peking. Available @ http://www.marx2mao.com/Stalin/FL24.htm