Power & Revolution

Some Thoughts on the Dictatorship of the Proletariat





By Robert Allen, railroad engineer, Iowa, USA

December 25, 2015


DOPcolorMany workers today are confused about a key concept of historical materialism, the idea of the “dictatorship of the proletariat.” It is a very literal English translation, it means exactly how it reads: the idea that workers should have political power, instead of the bosses, corporations and landlords—essentially the exact opposite of what we have today. We live under the “dictatorship of Capital,” where everything is reduced to exchange values and commodification, even people.


It is fashionable these days to reject the notion of “taking power” as “authoritarian,” and many young Leftists are attracted to Anarchism or “identity politics,” where one gets to be radical without taking on the responsibility of a real fight for working class rule, which would require a disciplined combat party or similar structure. Even those who call themselves “Marxists” have fallen under the spell of “gradualism” or incremental reforms, and speak of “political revolution” in place of a real fight for power, that is, a real proletarian revolution. Some of these folks have lengthy academic credentials they can point to, to bolster their claims to a “Marxist” heritage, while claiming that they have deduced some new theory that better fits “our time,” etc., that the need for “revolution” has been supplanted by a more civilized “progressivism” that will overcome capitalism through gradual mass acceptance of liberal “reason.” Workers cannot afford to be misled by these “theorists,” regardless of their CVs and sophistry.


In any contest between two “rights,” force decides. That is, if I say I have a right to health care and a decent home, and someone, say, a conservative, disagrees, whomever can muster the most force will decide the issue. Or, simply put, it is a question of class power, class forces. The working class must develop a “nose for power,” must assert its will in the contest with imperialism, and it can only be done by mobilizing itself to take power, “dictate” its terms to the enemy. The opposing force, the ruling class, knows no polite “gradualism,” no aversion to exertion of raw violence to meet its ends; these are the bare stakes of the struggle we face.


For more on this topic, please see:


Autonomous Popular Democratic Struggle





Pr183boletarian Alternative

(November 2014)

In every historically determined social formation, there exist class divisions, class antagonism and class struggle. In numerous ways, the dominated and exploited classes always resist and struggle against their domination. To aid the pursuit of their fundamental objectives (for capitalists, the accumulation of capital), the dominant classes act in the political field to constantly reduce, disallow and remove any breathing room for the popular masses. Resistance to this, which is determined by class struggle, comprises the popular democratic struggle of the masses.

In every historically determined social formation, there also exist class divisions within the dominant classes. These divisions are not fundamental antagonisms, but simply reflect opposing interests, disagreements among thieves. These are usually resolved in regulated rituals within the highly structured institutions of the state, but on certain occasions they need to work out their differences on an expanded field of battle, in a more openly violent manner.


A Brief Definition of Proletarian Revolution




By Jan Makandal

October 12, 2014

 We can define revolution in a few simple words: the conquest of political power, the conquest of democracy, the repressive violation of all rights of property, and the violent destruction of the bourgeois mode of production. All these concepts confirm the state apparatus as the means and, by the same token, the first objective of the revolution. The destruction of the capitalist state apparatus to disorganize the capitalist class is a necessity manifested by the fundamental contradiction between capital and labor.

This is the political aspect of revolution, its principal task. A complete concept encompasses the qualitative transformation of a social formation from one mode of production to another, the overturning of the entire ensemble of social relations comprising all fields of that social formation: economic, political and ideological. In this text, we will focus on the political field. The political field is principal because the conquest of political power is the indispensable prerequisite for and gateway to total social transformation.

Proletarian political revolution encompasses democracy and dictatorship, two phenomena that exist both in contradictory unity and in identity. In the hands of the proletariat, power achieves the conquest of democracy for the masses and dictatorship over the bourgeoisie. (more…)

Wage Struggles: Reformist or Revolutionary?

By Jan Makandal
(February 2013)

In Bangladesh, Haiti, Brazil, China, the U.S. and everywhere, workers are demanding wages that allow them to feed, house, clothe, and educate themselves and their families.

Some on the Left argue that wage struggles are inherently reformist. The reality is that they can be either reformist or democratic (the latter as an embedded element of an overall revolutionary struggle). A thin line divides the two. The difference is that the reformist will be satisfied with reforms and stop there, while an autonomous democratic movement that has the potential to contribute to revolution will keep demanding more and more, continuing to weaken (not mechanically) capital and finally challenge its existence.