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Classes and the Struggle for Socialism
In conditions of commodity-money relations, social position is wholely and completely defined by economic circumstances, that is the share of social wealth appropriated and distributed by the given class. The classes struggle amongst themselves over this.
The productive forces include three fundamental elements; the earth and all its natural wealth, the means of production, which are congealed, dead labour, and labour power. Historical changes in production methods and the corresponding changes in socio-economic formations are constrained by the level of organization and the organizing influence of these elements on society.
Apart from the classes in society, there are people who do not enter the production process in the capacity of owners, who do not contribute any of their property to social production. These can be divided into groups according to their social role; intelligentsia, army, lumpen proletariat and so forth. All of them, in one way or another, necessarily serve such classes as are able to allot to them the share of goods essential for their existence, i.e. chiefly such classes as are, at the current moment, in a commanding position. Despite the fact that their indirect influence on production can have colossal significance for society, despite the definite internal organization of such social groups, these groups do not play a decisive role in the development of society since they lack the organic unity of interests which is distinctive of a class. Historically, all attempts of such social groups to influence the development of society led, after the appropriation of some part of the productive forces, to their becoming a class or rising into the class which they were, perhaps unconsciously, serving. This is precisely why the social interests of such groups are always vague and do not form a socially significant unity.
The class policy of the victorious proletariat is defined, in the first place, by the circumstances under which they achieved victory. In other words, it is essential that the level of development of the productive forces and the corresponding class composition of society be taken into account.
As a rule, it is joint action of the proletariat and the peasants and petty bourgeois which result in the achievement of power. However, if in this union the proletariat does not have decisive supremacy, then the revolution will not have a socialist character, it will remain bourgeois-democratic.
The authentic victory of the proletariat, the socialist revolution, always means the establishment of the dictatorship of the proletariat. The union of the proletariat with the peasants and other layers of society can have no other content, for the term of this dictatorship, than the requirement of the proletariat for the functioning of these layers. This requirement lasts only for the period in which the wholeness of this complex of functions remains essential for the existence of society.
The policy of the proletariat in relation to other classes and layers is entirely dictated by the necessity of stimulating socially necessary activity in them; it is linked with the organizational forms borrowed from the capitalists of old, to the extent that this is necessary to secure the clarity and effectiveness of these stimuli. But simultaneously, the proletariat and its state must nurture those stimuli contradicting the obsolete forms; thus smashing them and directing the development of all layers into socialist channels.
Here the complete expropriation of the exploiters has a decisive significance; it destroys the psychological dependency of the individual's social position on capital, on his private property. But, having been once carried through to completion, the process of expropriation must not cease. Commodity-money relations inevitably give rise to a tendency to enrichment; and this means that the struggle against these tendencies, in all their modes of existence, is unavoidable. One of the most important tasks is the inculcation of the idea that personal wealth, however it is constituted, does not guarantee the consolidation of social position, but on the contrary, its instability. This objective, naturally, contradicts the construction of socialist society's most important relations on a purely bourgeois basis. For in retaining bourgeois relation, socialist society has no intention of increasing their stability; just as capitalism itself gives no guarantee against destruction or capitalist competition and so forth. At the same time, the retention of bourgeois relations demands of socialist society the drawing-up of the plan of attack against them.
These are the most complicated questions of the internal policy of the dictatorship of the proletariat. The movement of the whole of socialist society toward communism depends, to a very significant extent, on the correctness of their resolution at each historical step. And, in the first place, this is linked to the construction of relations with such classes as the peasants and such strata as the intelligentsia.
But before we can examine the question of the peasantry, it is absolutely essential to investigate relations between the proletariat and the intelligentsia.
What distinguishes the intelligentsia, working for hire, from the hired worker?
The economic essence of the distinction, we have already established; the intelligentsia does not sell labour power, it sells its monopoly of knowledge. But the boundary between physical and mental labour has long since lost its previous precision. How then are we to separate the activities of workers from those of the intelligentsia in practice.
Let us take the more precise category, reproductive labour.
Reproductive labour is the creation, with the help of well-known means of production and techniques, of things which, for all practical purposes, are identical with similar things produced in the past.
Reproductive labour can be simple or complex; more complex labour demands higher qualifications and more developed skills. It is precisely the reproductive labour which constitutes the value of any given thing. That is, the value of any commodity is the minimum social necessary labour required for its reproduction with the contemporary methods and at the contemporary level of development of the productive forces.
Practically everything which humanity consumes in the material realm is the result of such reproductive labour. Thus reproductive labour possesses a decisive significance for the existence and reproduction of humanity.
Creative, as opposed to reproductive, labour appears in the form of a wide variety of activities, which, however, are not connected with the immediate reproduction of things. In this sense, creativity appears in the mastery of the skills of reproductive labour, in organizational activity and in the creation of new technology; it is simply the social significance of these that is different.
Those who live on payment for creative labour, including a definite category of people performing physical labour, among them workers, but who are evaluated and rewarded based on their capabilities for discovering unique technological solutions, are not proletarians. From among them the intelligentsia is formed and this is a particular social stratum.
Reproductive labour is the curse of mankind. Day and night humanity brings its influence to bear on the planet. Its labour has one single object; it destroys one thing, creates another and in so doing changes the conditions of its own existence, all to secure the resources for the satisfaction of its needs.
Reproductive labour, the reproduction of the articles of consumption, creates our food, clothing, housing, heat and light and those material forms, through whose mediation, we satisfy our spiritual needs; reproductive labour reproduces the machines which are needed to create articles for consumption, and also such machines as are needed to reproduce the former. Reproductive labour changes the world, inside and out. With the value created by this labour, there is a change in value of the planet as source of livelihood for all humanity, taking account of both consuming and producing subjects; in the not too distant future, precisely this will become the basis of humanity's political economy.
Reproductive labour is the source of the existence of humanity, the basis of the life of the mind on earth.
Mankind does not simply want to exist, but wishes to live ever better and better, and for this purpose was given intellect and consciousness, that vast, ideal force, capable of purposeful, coordinated mobilization of all physical forces. And driven by history, moving from stage to stage, humanity conducts its internal struggle to make the most intelligent use of its physical forces.
Creative labour, ever more organized and enriched by experience, is ever more active in influencing reproductive labour and so lightens and perfects it. It is also true that significant creative effort is directed to the opposite, the struggle for and defense of private (whether individual, group or class) interests, thus atomizing and negating itself in petty struggle. Liberating all this tremendous creative energy from internecine struggle, and putting it to work for the benefit of society, is in the interests of mankind. But this cannot be achieved by means of utopian "reasoned agreement," it must be achieved by smashing all private interests, which is possible only by the complete subordination of creative labour to the tasks of reproductive labour, that is as a consequence of proletarian dictatorship. And here the point, of course, is not that all creative activity be subordinated to the applied aim of lightening reproductive labour, but rather that this aim, in the most general way, defines the highest humanistic content of all creativity.
The task for all humanity is to get the most complete agreement of its intellect with its powers; this defines the relations between the proletariat and the intelligentsia, the character of the development of their relations.
The intelligentsia as the concentrated social intellect, has existed from time immemorial. The social essence of humanity, that which separates it from the animal, lies in intellect and consciousness; thus it is unsurprising that the abilities of some people to generalize facts and to think abstractly distinguishes these people from the general mass, and defines their particular position in society. This particular position has not always been and will not always be the position of superiors in relation to the rest; it simply distinguishes them from the rest in the aggregate of their relations with society.
A great period in the life of human society, including several social formations, can be characterised by the fact that the members of society found their social position to be completely dependent on their economic position. For almost the entire duration of this period, intellect, the ability to think abstractly, played a secondary role, and it was only at the last stage, under capitalist socio-economic formations, that its situation changed essentially. And, what is more, this was not a direct recognition of the social significance of intellect, it signified only that intellect had matured into an active influence on economic position, and capitalism was quick to notice this, taking intellect into its service. The intelligentsia became an important factor in the capitalist competitive struggle and indeed an object of such struggle.
The economic recognition of capitalism, the growing competition for the purchase of intellect and the revelation of its secrets, grew into social recognition, recognition through economic position. But this secondary status always tortures the intelligentsia, for they would prefer a society where intellect would be recognized for its own sake, where it would be considered as social property. But in so far as the majority of the intelligentsia is unable to accommodate to this separation of social from economic recognition, they are thrown into a wilderness of utopian fantasy, believing themselves to have mastery of both mind and matter. The fact that humanities best minds succeeded in breaking free of such eclecticism and directly comprehended the connection between this contradiction and the basic contradiction of capitalist society, finally recognizing both their place within society, and the fact that this situation must lead to the transformation of the class position of the proletariat, does not resolve the question for the whole intelligentsia. There is no solidarity of the intelligentsia in its pursuit of recognition.
The struggle of the proletariat and its social activism always attracts a fraction of the intelligentsia to its side.
Some immediately regard the power of the proletariat as a means for the achievement of their own ends. These are the liberals who flirt with the proletariat.
Others arrive in the proletarian ranks as equals among equals. But later this becomes, 'We are the more educated among equals, to us falls the responsibility of defining the aims and choosing the paths.' From these arise endless opportunists who lead the proletariat for their own ends.
Some choose to serve the proletariat unconditionally. To help the proletariat become conscious of its own aims, to light with the torch of theory the proletariat's path forward in order that it will not be mistaken in its choice of the proletarian path; these are the tasks they set themselves.
With this last group the proletariat can march to victory.
And afterwards? Having established its hegemony, the victorious proletariat requires the activity of the entire intelligentsia. But this will be impossible without casualties. The flames of revolution inflame hegemonist strivings in a part of the intelligentsia and incite them to corresponding activity. This fraction must become the object of proletarian terror. And clearly, the remaining fraction will have no intentions of working for the proletariat for free, just for the sake of it.
The proletariat as a class, as the sole owner of the means of production, and this means as a capitalist in its relations with other strata, must also act as a capitalist. It must hire as many of the intelligentsia as are necessary, and under conditions, as far as is possible, no worse than those offered by the bourgeoisie.
It can also hire some fraction of the bourgeoisie, maintaining an appearance of capitalist profit in determining their pay. The proletariat must rationally organize all the creative resources of society.
As dictator, the proletariat must decisively refuse political recognition to all members of the intelligentsia hired under bourgeois conditions. Taking upon itself the defence of the right of individuals in their individual relations with non-proletarian strata, the proletariat must leave these strata, in their relations with the proletarian state, no more than the appearance of whatever their rights might have been.
All of this flows naturally from the interests of the proletariat. All of it arises naturally from the indefinite, unstable situation of the intelligentsia. The more distinctly the hollow victories of the intelligentsia in the proletarian revolution are revealed, the more precisely and definitely they are pointed out, the more the groundlessness of utopian hopes will be clarified to the intelligentsia.
That the contradictions in the minds of the intelligentsia are expressions of the contradictions of capitalism must be revealed under socialism with the utmost clarity, and must compel the intelligentsia to sharply rethink its place in society. These contradictions must push the intelligentsia into motion, must nudge it forward. But toward what?
Creative labour is a need for all human beings. Each regularly turns to creative activity. And when the results of this creativity acquire a social significance, this need becomes still more imperative, for in uniting it is weighted with a heightening of personal social significance.
Reproductive labour is essential. It realizes itself as a social necessity and it occurs only with the realization of each individual participant of his inseparability from society. The intelligentsia must also realize this, but this can only come about through the feeling that the social position of the working class is higher than its own and that the difference cannot be compensated for by the receipt of material goods.
It is impossible to accelerate this process through economic pressure, although the proletarian authorities always have this possibility available. The proletariat, under all conditions, remains an open class, and this, its merit, conceals definite dangers.
Exerting pressure on the intelligentsia, the proletariat can compel them to join its own ranks; and thus be left without an intelligentsia, like a blind man without a guide. This is why it is necessary to speak to the intelligentsia in the language of bourgeois privilege. Yet the proletariat can not maintain such a situation for ever. What must it counterpose to it?
The proletariat must promote its own intelligentsia. The point here is certainly not that this must be an intelligentsia of proletarian origin, but rather that this intelligentsia must provide society with its labour free of charge, without any economic stimulus; satisfying itself only with social recognition and such goods as it receives from its own reproductive labour. If this cannot be a lifelong commitment, then let it be for a definite period, after which this intelligentsia may, if it wishes, take up the position of the bourgeois intelligentsia, losing its social privileges and gaining economic ones. But let it carry with it a nostalgia for the respect of its class brothers.
And then the rising effectiveness of production, leading to the lowering of norms for reproductive labour, together with the growth of the material well-being of the proletariat will complete these beginnings and the new intelligentsia will, in general, not wish to break its links with the proletariat, with reproductive labour. The intelligentsia will then cease to exist as a social group, intellect will fully become a property of the proletariat and creative labour will be done according to ability. It stands to reason that this can occur no sooner than the supply of such labour exceeds the demand of proletarian society for it.
Now that the tendency in the development of relations between the proletariat and the intelligentsia has been depicted with sufficient clarity, it is easier to present the movement in relations with the peasantry.
It is only from the outside that the work of the peasantry appears to have a reproductive content. Of course, ploughing, sowing, weeding, harvesting crops, bringing in fertilizer and watering; is labour of a purely reproductive character. But all this must be done at an appropriate time and to an appropriate extent. And the time and extent must be determined depending on fluctuations in the meteorological conditions, and this is a purely creative labour. Agriculture concerns itself with living nature, and must always, creatively, track its demands and comply with them. It is much harder to separate creative from reproductive labour in this case than it is for industrial production.
Yet there is no other way. Here too, creative work must be separated from reproductive work, for only in separation can it acquire the social breadth which is essential to the new society.
The development of agronomy and zootechnics, with the maximal industrialization of agriculture, leading to the most complete liberation from the necessity of individual creativity and the sharpest separation of the agricultural intelligentsia from the agricultural proletariat, this is the direction in which proletarian efforts must lead. And, although it is obvious that the separation of creative labour and its return to the proletariat will be most sharply expressed here, in comparison with industry, yet without this all management will be impossible.
The clear-cut separation of the agricultural proletariat from the intelligentsia and its merging with the industrial proletariat may also suggest new forms of reproductive labour, taking into consideration the non-seasonal work of industry and the seasonal character of agriculture. But independent of this, the industrialization of agriculture remains one of the most important tasks of the industrial proletariat, of the dictatorship of the proletariat, because without this the economic limitations cannot be overcome, the general level of effectiveness of production which can completely resolve the economic problems of society will not be achieved. This is why the technical and economic tasks of the proletariat in relations with the countryside converge with its fundamental direction. Here it is particularly important that, though the technical course of industrialization, of course, has enormous importance, it must not push the political tasks into the background. Without serious attention to the political tasks, even in the search for technical solutions, the ancient traditions will not be overcome, and this means that the divisions between town and country can not be eliminated. The town must bring to agriculture, with all possible precision, its industrial thinking, only thus liberating the natural attraction of humanity to the land from feudal and bourgeois stratifications.
Are the tasks of the proletariat, in relation to the peasantry and the intelligentsia, continuations of the class struggle carried over from capitalist society?
Yes, but it is not here that we ought to search for the focal point. The proletariat carries the quintessence of its struggle with the bourgeoisie through the boundary of the socialist revolution. This basic contradiction ought to be seen from the following perspective; on the one hand, the collective, collectivist strivings of the proletariat, and on the other, the extreme individualism embodied by the bourgeoisie in the economic privileges of private property and the establishment of a direct dependency of social position on economic position. Yet capitalist society produces individualistic strivings for social privilege not only in the bourgeoisie, but in all strata and classes of society. And the proletariat, having liquidated the bourgeoisie as a class, and private property as the foundation of economic privilege, which serves as the basis for the acquisition of many social privileges, cannot completely eliminate all striving for individual privileges; for all society, even without the bourgeoisie, including the proletarian masses themselves is permeated through and through with such strivings.
The fundamental contradiction of socialism becomes the contradiction between the individual and society. The essence of the contradiction is that the individual, in opposition to the interests of society, strives for the conquest of some individual privilege, strives to receive from society more than he himself has given. But then the backward, moribund side of the contradiction arises from the individual, from each member of society, whereas the advanced side comes from society and is bound up with the collective, proletarian class interests. Yet neither side can be annihilated in the struggle, for this would mean social suicide.
Moreover, society, the proletariat, cannot solve its economic problems without stimulating the activity of members through the provision of definite privileges. This supports the individual struggle for privileges and does not allow them to die away. Society must provide the greatest privileges where the most important problems of the concrete historical stage are to be decided. Supplying privileges permits the effective solution of problems, but, simultaneously, society seeks other collective solutions to such problems and finds them. Thus the foundation is laid for the negation of previous privileges.
In the course of social development, the dictates of this development produce a concentration of privileges in definite strata. And when society discovers alternative solutions to these problems, it inevitably comes out in favour of the liquidation of previous privileges. This is when new flash-points for social struggle flare up, where the side defending its privileges is in fact defending nothing other than its bourgeois right to these privileges, i.e. comes forward as the successor in the bourgeois cause in this continuation of the class battle.
The rise of such aggravations of the class struggle is inevitable on all paths from capitalism to communism, and, in overcoming the resistance of the privileged strata, there must be an uninterrupted revolution which alone can lead to the development of communist consciousness. Naturally, it is only the dictatorship of the proletariat, the dictatorship of an open class, which provides privileges equally to all (or, which comes to the same thing, the absence of all privilege) which can guarantee that it will consistently reveal all obstacles along the path of social development, uncompromisingly struggle against them in all areas and so bring about victory in the struggle.
History taught us to struggle for the dictatorship of the proletariat and to achieve it. History also teaches us to extract lessons from defeat. Where the capitalists can not cope with the armed power of the proletariat, they conceal themselves, and trying to sprout again, cling to the smallest privileges. They deceive and make fools of the workers, trying to regain everything they have lost. The proletariat must not hope that such people and forces can save them from the rebirth of capitalism. Only its own vigilance can serve as a guarantee. The proletariat must not put its faith in its own best representatives, for, divided from the class, they begin to act in accordance with their own individual powers. The proletariat must not trust even the party it gave birth to when it holds power; power is such a privilege that only the proletariat itself will not be corrupted and bourgeoisified by it. Only the continuous readiness of the whole class, acting in defence of its rights and privileges, if necessary with arms in hand, only continuous class control over all social processes, only eternal enthusiasm and initiative of the proletarian organizations can provide hegemony for the proletariat. This is why, while not withdrawing the appeal for the unity of the proletarians of all countries, we proclaim that the key slogan of our time is:
"HAIL THE DICTATORSHIP OF THE PROLETARIAT!"