Notes on Power, the State, and Proletarian Dictatorship




by Jan Makandal

November 29, 2015


Marxism reduced to a dogma is no longer materialist. It becomes a deformation, a deviation and is no longer capable of being a revolutionary guide for the future. In fact Marxism reduced to a dogma, such as being presented as a compilation of verses and quotes, is not Marxism.


Marxism is a materialist approach of interpreting the objective from the interest of the proletariat for the realization of proletarian dictatorship. Most proletarian revolutionaries will argue that studying Marxism in a study group and understanding class struggle are not the criteria to be a Marxist. Even if some intellectuals do contribute to Proletarian Theory [Marxism], their contributions remain very limited in the absence of their immersion in proletarian struggle and in the active participation of organizing productive workers and their fundamental allies: fundamental laborers. Marxist/proletarian revolutionary is not a title indicated by a red star pin on a lapel; that would be simply a fable. Marxism is the immersion of one’s self in the struggle for PROLETARIAN DICTATORSHIP.


We can find in Marxist theory many variations of the definition of the state apparatus. But in our time, to think the state apparatus is only a tool for the oppression of one class by another is a quite limited conception and vision that can only lead to a reformist political line. This definition of the state apparatus by Marx, Lenin and others was correct in their time, but even than it was a very limited definition in need of deepening. Now it is correct to stay the state apparatus is not only an instrument of oppression. The oppressive nature of the state apparatus is one effect of the antagonism between classes, but really the state apparatus is the organization of a class, or a bloc of classes, as a dominant class.


The proletarian state apparatus is the organization of the proletariat as a dominant class to achieve its own political objective: the abolition of classes. Without the state apparatus no class will be able to exercise its dominance [dictatorship] over other classes, especially the currently dominated classes that are in an antagonist relation with the bourgeoisie. Historically most state apparatuses [slavery, feudalist and capitalist] have been for the reproduction of dominancy of classes. The proletarian state apparatus is for the proletariat, using its domination, to gradually strip all capital and concentrations of capital away from the bourgeoisie, to centralize all labor instruments in the hands of the state apparatus (meaning in the hands of the proletariat), for production to be organized by the popular masses under the leadership of the proletariat by counting on our own strength, and most importantly in that process to transform the social relations of production for the objective of a classless society.

We must acknowledge that an economistic tendency existed among proletarian revolutionaries when they erroneously assigned the proletariat the task of developing the productive forces in order to reach a society of abundance. This political line led to serious mistakes in the construction of socialism, and also led to the erroneous conception of “socialism in one country.” The development of the productive forces is important, but it must be implemented under the guideline of counting on our own strength.


Once class differences are abolished, they and class antagonisms are no longer the prevailing organic rule of a social formation for its reproduction. When all production is concentrated in the hands of associated individuals, public political power will lose its entire political characteristic.


A point that many (especially anarchists) are trying to avoid is the question of political power. Political power is not a creation of Marxism, as the heart is not a creation of medicine. Political power is a scientific interpretation of a reality. It is a theory of an objective reality regularizing the relation of classes, based on antagonism. Political power is the power of a class organized as a dominant class, to dominate and disorganize other classes, especially and principally classes that are in an antagonistic relation. The proletariat strips capitalism of its power and erects itself as a dominant class by means of revolution, and violently destroys the old social relations of production while simultaneously destroying class antagonism. Then it will destroy classes, and by doing so will destroy itself as a class.


In place of the old bourgeois society with its classes and class antagonisms will emerge a new structure in which the free development of individuals is the material condition for the free development of the collective.


As history has already shown during previous attempts at socialist revolution, including the Paris Commune, at the beginning the proletarian state will need to despotically violate all bourgeois property rights and all bourgeois relations of production (specific to each social formation), primarily to upset and transform the existing mode of production and all its forms of production.


This is done through a slow process, for the historical process of the disintegration of classes, in which production is being concentrated in the hands of organized associated individuals, to a point where public power gradually loses its political characteristic. Public political power is the organized power of a class to dominate other classes. The proletariat, allied with other dominated classes under its leadership in the struggle against the bourgeoisie, is to be historically constituted by revolutionary means as a dominant class. In its alliance with other classes, it is to violently destroy the existing antagonistic social relations, and then (not mechanically), it will also destroy all the conditions for the existence of classes as well as the conditions for classes to be historically constituted. The proletariat will also destroy its conditions of reproduction as a class.


Scientific socialism is the proletarian economic and political orientation whereby the proletariat is leading the popular masses to radically replace the bourgeois society (with all its classes, its antagonism, and the effects of that antagonism), with the emergence of an association where the free development of each is the condition for the free development of the collective.


Of course lessons will need to be learned from the past. It is important to understand that the proletarian state should not content itself with just taking a conjunctural and contextual series of political and economic measures. These measures should not be simply technical; they should be determined by the revolutionary politics of the proletariat and the unity of the proletariat with the masses.


Proletarian dictatorship is the working class movement achieving its own future. Proletarian dictatorship is the working class moving toward its own goal. Contrarily to the petit bourgeois conception, communism is not a moralist ideal of an equal or egalitarian society; instead it is a synthesis of the history of the proletariat.


Opportunists nowadays define the state apparatus as tool that the capitalist class uses. This reformist definition creates the material conditions for them to participate in elections, as if they also could use the state apparatus. We must be clear that if that was the case, capitalism would radically transform the conception of the state apparatus to better serve its interests.


As we have seen most recently in Greece, where the popular masses voted down the EU proposals, the capitalist class and imperialism totally disregarded the universal suffrage in favor of their immediate interests. Capitalist Great Britain and Spain went without elections for more than 300 years, but were still considered bourgeois democracy.


It is the opportunist naiveté of sectors of the radical petit bourgeois left that leads them to believe that an opportunity is being offered to them in the electoral practices of the bourgeoisie. It must be clear that any social class that can lose its dominance in an electoral process cannot be deemed a dominant class.


Now the state apparatus is not the government. The government is merely a portion of the state apparatus. Controlling the government does not mean controlling the state apparatus. The bourgeois state apparatus is the bourgeoisie organized as a dominant class. In a modern bourgeois state apparatus, the government is simply a committee that manages the daily affairs of the power bloc, including its inner struggles.


To think that anybody of the traditional bourgeois political parties is exempt from that managerial task is ludicrous. Further, there is no historical evidence of any such alternative. Whoever believes that Obama, Sanders, Clinton or anyone else in government before them could be exempt from managing the state apparatus in the interest of the capitalists as a bloc, is daydreaming. In an effort to forge ahead, dogmatists tend to constantly bypass history, but the only result they will get is an already failed political line.


Proletarian revolutionaries have been correct all along that the principal task at this time is for the conquest of political power by the proletariat. Proletarian revolution is the order of the day. Proletarian revolution is a political definition of the objective of the proletariat.