“The Dictatorship of the Proletariat”
The Communist parties of France and Italy are the biggest in Europe. The Italian party has 1.7 million members, and the French party half a million members. The Italian party holds 29 per cent. of the seats in Parliament and has 33 per cent. of the total vote (Guardian 16th February 1976). The present minority government, the Christian Democrats, depend on the Communists in order to rule, and it seems likely that the Communists will succeed to power. The position in France is said to be that the “Socialists and Communists will combine to form the next government”. Both Italian and French parties, we are told, have renounced the theory of the dictatorship of the proletariat and are now relying on democratic methods to obtain and hold political power.
It is not the first time that the Communist parties have turned a complete somersault with embarrassing changes of policy. In the Sunday Times 29th February 1976, Mr. Napolitono, the Italian leader, had this to say about NATO when asked how a Communist party could remain a partner in an anti-communist alliance: “Everything changes. The NATO alliance is not the same as in 1950. In those days we took the view that the NATO alliance was potentially aggressive. But now the danger of an aggressive initiative by NATO against the Warsaw pact has disappeared”. This type of blatant dishonesty characterizes the Communist parties everywhere. A lie becomes the truth when circumstances demand it. What however have not disappeared are the nuclear missiles, the Polaris submarines, and the hordes of armed men ready to disembowel each other over the ownership and control of the earth’s resources at the behest of these unprincipled opportunists and their Moscow parents.
At the moment, the Italian and French capitalist classes are finding increasing difficulty in administering the system. Social problems are mounting, together with the effects of the present world slump. Both countries have unemployment well over the million mark: Italy has 1.3 million unemployed. In these circumstances, the capitalists are prepared to allow the cause of the Communists to advance, having heard them give assurances that they will uphold the national interest at the expense of cutting the ideological ties with the Soviet Union. It is significant that both French and Italian leaders were absent from the Moscow International Congress of World Communist Parties. Perhaps they decided not to risk it.
Communism & Democracy
Should the Communist parties in both countries take over the running of the governments they will declare themselves for what they really are — the servants of capital. As such they will be forced to come into conflict with the workers and oppose demands where those demands do not harmonize with the interests of the ruling class. This is inevitable, for no political party can serve two masters. They will also show their impotence in solving problems which a class society produces, where events are in control, and where their forked tongues cannot help them.
The new-found democracy they now assume has been produced as evidence of their enlightenment, when in fact it was thrust upon them. Never at a loss to display their talents for turning night into day, they now seem to be claiming credit for discovering democracy. Mr. George Marchais, secretary of the French party, claims to have “defined, clarified and enriched the strategy of the political party line. This line lays down the democratic way we propose to Frenchmen to lead them to socialism . . . we have also taken into account national characteristics and traditions to build socialism with the colours of France”. (Times, 28th February, 1976).
The history of the Communist parties throughout the world is an unrelieved story of dictatorial organizations, having at their head the absolute dictatorship of the Communist party in Russia. The dictatorship of the proletariat and the dictatorship of the Communist party are two fundamentally different conditions. The former, which basically means conscious majority rule, has never existed in Russia. With the present exception of the Chinese party, whose international ideology has had to give way to the building-up of state capitalism and the defence of national interests, all Communist parties have to be regarded as Trojan horses of Soviet capitalism. The fear of the more ignorant politicians is that if the Communists ever get power in the West they will emulate Lenin and never let it go. When the Bolsheviks seized power in 1917, Lenin shut down the Constituent Assembly and abolished free elections, set up censorship, and abolished other democratic rights enjoyed by workers. Had free elections been allowed shortly after the hollow victory of the revolution there was a real danger that the Bolsheviks might have been voted out of power, and Lenin was not prepared to risk it.
The conditions in a modern capitalist country are very different from those obtaining in Russia are 1917. The parliamentary system of government based on a democratic franchise means that property questions can be settled by a democratic vote. Generally, the democratic system of election and an uncensored press, free trade unions, and the freedom of political parties to have their say, grows naturally out of the conditions of free trade. As Engels said, the bourgeois democratic republic is the natural state for capitalism.
In May 1875 the Social Democratic Workers’ Party of Germany, led by Bebel and Wilhelm Liebknecht, and the General Association of German Workers, founded by Lassalle, decided to unite under the name of the Socialist Workers’ Party of Germany. The unity congress was held at Gotha. Prior to the conference, a programme outlining the aims of the new organization was sent to Marx for his criticism. In a letter to Bracke, a founder member of the Social Democratic Party, Marx criticized the Programme. It consisted of a number of vague, and in many cases ethical, propositions which could mean anything. The first proposal, “Labour is the source of all wealth and all cultures”, Marx showed was incorrect, as it ignored the part played by nature.