Saturday, May 21, 2016

Basic points of the Leninist criticism in relation to the "parliamentary road" to socialism

The theses of the KKE for the 10th annual conference "V.I.Lenin and the contemporary world" which was held on the 22nd of April 2016 in Leningrad (Source:
  • The entire history of the political labour movement from the 19th century until today has as its basic arena of controversy the path that should be taken in order to create a classless society.
  • Two basic views emerged over time: the opportunist view about the possibility of reforming, "conquering" and utilizing the bourgeois state for socialism and the revolutionary view regarding the need to smash the bourgeois state. Lenin himself set the following demarcation line: "Only he is a Marxist who extends the recognition of the class struggle to the recognition of the dictatorship of the proletariat."
  • This controversy is a reflection of the ideological confrontation about the bourgeois state and bourgeois democracy. The opportunists understand the bourgeois state-especially in the form of bourgeois parliamentary democracy- as a state that expresses the correlation of forces between the various classes, in essence as a "supra-class" state that expresses the democratically expressed will of the members of bourgeois society, regardless of which class they belong to. On the basis of this standpoint, they approach bourgeois democracy, the democratic form of the bourgeois state as favourable terrain that can be utilized to the benefit of socialism. In contrast, Marxists understand the class character of the bourgeois state, regardless of the exceptionally varied forms it has taken on historically. They understand bourgeois democracy as one of the varied forms of the dictatorship of capital and indeed the most "secure" form for the protection of the  "omnipotence of wealth", as Lenin wrote in the State and Revolution.
  • The position that bourgeois democracy and fascism share a common class denominator has been repeatedly borne out in history by the interchanges between fascist and parliamentary forms of government which have served the stabilization of bourgeois power in changing economic and political conditions. The most characteristic example is inter-war Germany, while in our country the transition from bourgeois democracy to the Metaxas dictatorship in 1936 took place with the almost unanimous support of the bourgeois parliament.
  • Historical experience has clearly demonstrated that the passing of ministries of the bourgeois state into the hands of communists cannot be utilized in favour of socialism but indeed accelerates the co-option of communist parties by the bourgeois political system. Examples of this is the past participation in bourgeois governments in Spain, France, Italy, Chile by CPs as well as more recently in a number of countries in Latin America, Cyprus, Portugal etc. Another characteristic example is the participation of the KKE in the government of "national unity" in 1944 and the acceptance of wage freezes and the liberalization of dismissals by the communist ministers in the name of making sure the government survived. In none of these cases did the support or participation in bourgeois governments operate in favour of socialism.
  • The defense of the "parliamentary road" to socialism is not always openly formulated. It often lurks behind the formulation of varied transitional programmes that accept the possibility of utilizing the participation in a government on the terrain of capitalist ownership and the bourgeois state in order to improve the lives of the workers and sharpen the revolutionary mood of the masses. This analysis in essence denies both the economic laws of capitalism (as it considers that these laws when managed by a CP can used to benefit the people) and the class nature of the bourgeois state (as it promotes the "capture" of the bourgeois state as a means to overthrow it).
  • These views are in direct opposition to the theoretical analysis of Marx, Engels and Lenin on the state. The way in which Lenin explained the need to smash the bourgeois state in State and Revolution is characteristic. This analysis of Lenin constituted the basis for the adoption of the strategy for socialist revolution by the Bolshevik party formulated in the April Theses. Lenin indeed did not just write about this but practically applied the conclusions by stubbornly rejecting the strong-even inside the Bolshevik party- calls to participate in the Provisional Government (which was considered in this period to be the most democratic government in Europe) and directing the entire party towards its revolutionary overthrow.
  • Over the course of time, this strategic analysis, which was borne out by the victorious October Revolution, did not endure. Strategic views that mechanistically transferred (to completely different conditions) the older strategic analysis of the "democratic dictatorship of the proletariat and peasantry" held sway in the International Communist Movement (ICM).The views concerning the possibility of a parliamentary transition to socialism over the course of time established themselves as a distinct current within the  ranks of the ICM, the eurocommunist current, which prevailed in major capitalist states (France, Italy, Spain) with tragic consequences for the labour movement, while basic aspects of this line were expressed in the analysis of nearly the entire ICM. Today however, significant historical experience has been accumulated from the efforts to utilize the participation in governments on the terrain of capitalist ownership to serve the goal of socialism.
  • 2017 is the 100th anniversary of Lenin's work State and Revolution. This anniversary should be used so that we remember, as he himself mentioned in this work, " "forgotten words" of Marxism" (and Leninism we would add) on the question of the state. The CPs must struggle to gather together forces to smash the bourgeois state and build the socialist-communist economy and corresponding state institutions and reject the management of the capitalist economy and bourgeois state. They must in other words use the conclusions of the State and Revolution to guide their daily activity.