Red Flag
1 October 1919

Is it the Dictatorship of the Proletariat?

In the last issue of the WESTERN CLARION, F.S.F. deals with, but does not explain, what the Dictatorship of the Proletariat means. Shedding tears over Kautsky and the SPGB (Socialist Party of Great Britain) does not tell us what is meant by Dictatorship of the Proletariat. What do we mean when we use this term anyway? Does it mean a dictatorship of a minority?

Dictatorship as a form of government in Russia means disarming the opposition, by taking away the franchise, liberty of the press and combination of opponents. Does the working class have to employ such methods?

A government that has support of the masses has not the least occasion to interfere with democracy. Why fear the few, who oppose working class rule? Let them rave on. Or is it the dictatorship of a small section of the working class over the mass of workers? Can a Socialist system of production be built on this foundation? State organization of production, a bureaucracy by the dictatorship of a small section of the people does not mean democratic control of industry. Socialism presupposes democratic control of industry. Socialism presupposes a working class that is capable of running the wheels of industry more efficiently than under capitalism. Again, a dictatorship can mean civil war. An ignorant working class can easily be induced to support reaction. Chronic civil war or its alternatives, apathy and opposition under a dictatorship, would render the organization of a Socialist system well neigh impossible.

No, F.S.F., you cannot get Socialism by Dictatorship of the Proletariat. Bela Kun, Levien, Leibknecht and others tried your methods, but the result was thousands of workers rotting in their graves. What then are the prerequisites for Socialism? The will for Socialism is the first condition for its accomplishment. The will is created by the gigantic development of industry. Where small production is universal in a society, the masses are possessed of the means of industry. Small production creates the will to uphold the institution of private property.

To the ripening condition for Socialism must be added the maturity of the working class. Whenever the working class desires Socialism, we will have Socialism. It is impossible to have Socialism in a country where small production is general as in the case of Russia. It is also impossible to have Socialism where the vast majority of people do not desire it. In other words, Socialism without democracy is unthinkable. F.S.F no doubt remembers that Bill Prichard pointed out to the jury trying him, that the SPC expected to get Socialism only through the support of the majority of the population of Canada.

Surely the SPC realizes how dangerous minority rule would be to their party, and the actions of small groups in the Socialist Party of America and other parties to dominate the membership should sufficiently show the dangers of minority rule.

John Tyler