50 Years Ago: Dictatorship in Russia

The Bolsheviki have often defended their dictatorship by quoting Marx’s Criticism of the Gotha Programme (1875) where he refers to the transition from Capitalism to Socialism as the Dictatorship of the Proletariat pending the abolition of classes altogether. Marx, however, refers to a dictatorship asserted by a working class majority over the capitalist few, and not the dictatorship of a minority attacked by Engels in his Criticism of the Blanquist Program.


Lenin has admitted the Blanquist character of the 1917 seizure of power:

  Just as 150,000 lordly landowners under Czarism dominated the 130,000,000 Russian peasants, so 200,000 members of the Bolshevik party are imposing their proletarian will in the interest of the latter.

(The New International, New York, April 1918)
Lenin’s defence of this as due to the lack of knowledge among the masses is in these words:—


  If Socialism can only be realised when the intellectual development of all the people permits it, then we shall not see Socialism for at least 500 years. The Socialist political party, this is the vanguard of the working class, must not allow itself to be halted by the lack of education of the masses, using the Soviets as organs of revolutionary initiative (Lenin at Peasants Congress. Ten Days that Shook the World. P. 303).


(From an article ‘Democracy and Dictatorship in Russia’ by E. S. Socialist Standard, December 1919).