- Capitalism and Alternatives -

Dictatorship of the Proletariat = Democracy

Posted by: NJ ( DSA, MA, USA ) on February 10, 19100 at 15:25:30:

In Reply to: Continuing with NJ on Dictatorship of the Proletariat posted by Piper on February 10, 19100 at 01:17:28:

: : : : : :
: : : : : : : Piper: Cut the crap Krasny I know you support despotism as a form of revolution. You could not in good conscience call yourself a Marxist if you didn't.

: : : : : : WHAT?! What sort of shit is this? Marxism has come to power many times democratically and through the ballot box, and in noen of these places did it resort to despotism once it was there. Nicaragau and Chile are only two of the best known examples. This is extremely disingenuous and such a reactionary statement that it puts Frenchy to shame.
: : : : : : Marxism is about ENDIng the despotism of the capitalists, and then about destroying teh state itself. You know that as well as me. So stop trying to psychoanalyze and make sweeping statements about Marxism and/or Communism.

: : : : : Piper: Ever heard of the dictatorship of the proletariat?

: : : : : "between capitalist and communist society lies the period of the revolutionary transformation of the one into the other. There corresponds to this also a political transition period in which the State can be nothing but the revolutionary dictatorship of the proletariat"

: : : : : ('Critique of the Gotha Programme')

: : : : : This is a marxist doctrine.

: : : : the dictatorship of the proletariat means true democracy; it means a state in which privileges, wealth, etc. are IGNORED, and the democratic will of the people is the only authority that matters (hence ythe term 'dictatorship'. 'Dictatorship of teh proletariat" means, if you parse the phrase, "unchallenged rule (dictatorship) by the people (proletariat)", which is what democracy is supposed to mean.

: : : : Or do you not believe in democracy?

: : : : I;'m no Marxist, but even I can see that marxism is all about democracy, and has nothing to do with dictatorship.

: : : Piper: It's called a dictatorship because it will be used to suppress the proletariat's class enemies. That is blatantly despotism and clearly not rule by the people. This fits in with Marx's general conception of law and politics as 'merely the orgainised power of one class for oppressing another' (communist Manifesto).

: : Do away with property and there will BE no bourgosis for the proletariat to 'oppress'. As if what socialist people'
: : d democracies do could be called 'oppression', in any rational sense of the word. Don't you get it? There can be no 'class enemies', because there will be no 'classes'. People always seem to assume that the class tsruggle will be a long, drawn out, and violent one. But that isn't true. It can be near-instantanoeus, and it will only be as violent as the reactionaries choose to make it. If the labor activists, African American leaders and other leaders of popular progressive forces seized the United States Congress tomorrow and declared a state of emergency, they could then pass a sweeping law that nationalized 80-90% of the private property in America. This would effectively break the back of capitalism in America, without killing or 'oppressing' anyone. Unless of course you think depriving people of productive private property is 'oppression'. In which case, capiatlism 'oppresses' people every day by stealing from them the value of their labor.

: : I'll tell YOU what is NOT 'rule by the people'. A system in which an elite writes laws in their favor and uses sanctimonious phrases like 'free enterprise' to protect their tyrannical dominion. Rule by the people means that the peopel RULE, i.e. they pass laws that everyone is required to obey. If capitalists break these laws, they are criminals and should be deal with as criminals.

: : A 'despotism of the people' is an oxymoron.

: Piper: Look Nikhil you can bandy about your wishy washy pseudo marxist views all you like. The fact remains that Marx himself called the dictatorship of the proletariat despotic:

: "The proletariat will use its political supremacy to wrest, by degrees, all capital from the bourgeoisie, all capital from the bourgeoisie, to centralise all instruments of production in the hand sof the state; and to increase the total of productive forces as rapidly as possible.

: Of course in the beginning, this cannot be affected except by means of despotic inroads..." (Marx & Engels, The Communist Manifesto, at 104).

: BTW the proletariat is not 'the people', it is a class of people. Hence during the tenure of the dictatorship of the proletariat class distinctions, by definition, still exist.

: There will be no oppression after the dictatorship of the proletariat, when all classes have merged. This however does not change the fundamental character of the dictatorship of the proletariat which is, despotism.

OK, Piper, I'll admit I got a little worked up there. Sorry for using profanity, etc. Now, on to the fine points of our discussion.

The confusion between dictatorship and [Marxist] people's democracy, also called dictatorship of the proletariat, is one that was perhaps fostered by Marx himself. marx, like some marxists today argued that morality and rights were relative, not absolute, and conditioned by the prevailing social conditions of the time. Therefore, he conceded that proletarian democracy would seem 'despotic' TO THE PROPERTY-OWNING CLASS. Why? Becuase they believed they had a 'right' to exploit their workers and dominate the economy with their private property. Hence any violation of these 'rights' would seem to them despotic. In much the similar way as the Nazis or the Japanese, after World War II, must have chafed under the 'depotism' of civilized countries who weren't about to tolerate genocide and murder.

To those of us who believe in absolute morality, howvere, there is absolutely nothing despotic about proletarian democracy. I for one don't believe that humans have an innate right to steal and exploit their fellow men. Therefore the denial of this 'privilege' is only dneying something that shouldn't exist in the first place. from the class-bound perspective of Marx, either democracy or aristocracy is going to be seen as despotic by those who lose their status and privileges as a result of its imposition. Yet you must choose one or teh otehr, either aristorcarcy or democracy. this is why he referred to proletarian socialism as 'despotic'. He also referred to it however as 'democratic'. Remember the phrase 'the people's democratic dictatorship'.

Democracy is despotic to the upper classes who lose their privileges and property. Aristocrcay is despotic to the (far more numerous) oppressed classes. Whose side are you going to be on?

my theoretical knowledge of Marx is weak, I'm on stronger ground when talking about actual late-twentieth-century examples of socialist democracy. Barry and RD, however, both know an encyclopedic amount about what the 'dicattorship of teh proletariat' means, i.e. democracy. Why don't you ask them.

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