By Jan Kozak,
Member of the Secretariat of the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia
Published by the Independent Information Centre,
4, Holland Road, London, W.14 (G.B.), 1961.
The classics of Marxism-Leninism never ceased to point out that the inexorable revolutionary transformation of capitalist society into a socialist one does not preclude, but even presupposes, the possibility of various forms and roads of the proletarian revolution. V. I. Lenin in particular illuminated this serious question thoroughly and systematically. In his lifetime the proletarian revolution became an immediate question of the day. In his theoretical works and concretely in his practical activity he started from the principle that the forms of transition to socialism are dependent on the concrete balance of international and internal class forces, on the degree of organization of the proletariat and the bourgeoisie, on the ability to gain allies, the level of the economic structure and on the political traditions and forms of the organizations.
From the moment the Great Socialist October Revolution broke the chains of imperialism and gave power to the relatively weak proletariat of the nations of backward Russia, profound objective and subjective changes began to take place in the world. The present fruit of the Socialist October Revolution is the new historical era, the characteristic feature of which lies in the origin and consolidation of the socialist global constellation. This constellation now embraces 17 countries with the U.S.S.R and China at its head; it comprises over 25 per cent of the whole world; 35 per cent of the world’s population lives in it and about 30 per cent of the world’s industrial output is produced by it.
The second characteristic feature of this new historical era is the collapse of the colonial system as a world factor. Important Asian and African countries such as India, Indonesia, Burma, Egypt and others have cast off the shackles of imperialism. In the interest of their further development they are obliged to co-operate with the socialist camp and thus to strike new blows at world capitalism.
Both these main characteristics of the new historical era – the origin of the socialist constellation and the collapse of the colonial system – have profoundly changed the objective structure of the world. These profound changes in the objective structure of the world are necessarily accompanied also by profound subjective changes – changes in the thinking, views, political and practical orientation of the broad popular masses. The aggravated conflicts in the weakened capitalist constellation compel the imperialists to resort to harsher oppression, exploitation, suppression of national rights, interfering with democracy and preparations for a new war. By this, however, they cause broader and broader oppressed and dissatisfied social sections to rally against them, sections which are fighting against national suppression, for democracy and peace. In this struggle for national and democratic interests the individual trends and currents of the anti-imperialist battle are forming their ranks. These trends, which are the result and the product of the new subjective processes in society are, however, dispersed, isolated and constantly weakened by the propaganda of the ruling bourgeoisie and by the ideology and practice of reformism. In a number of capitalist and dependent countries there still slumbers the enormous, but still dispersed force of the broad popular masses. In this situation the workers’ class in these countries is faced with the task of firmly taking a stand at the head of the struggle for the national and democratic interests of its respective nations, of uniting in its fight for socialism and of creating, under its leadership a united and mighty anti-imperialist popular movement.
The new historical era and its tasks have created most favourable conditions for the workers’ class in this way for gaining new allies. The old tenets about the allies of the workers’ class which corresponded to old historical conditions are undergoing a change and are widening. Along with the changed conditions for the struggle for national democratic and peace interests the conditions for the struggle of the workers’ class for socialism are also changing. In the fight against imperialism, which endeavours to overcome its conflicts by completely ignoring the interests of the nations and which strives to liquidate their independence as states, the national role of the workers’ class is growing and it is placed in the forefront of all patriotic and democratic forces.
“Patriotism”, V. I. Lenin proclaimed, “is one of the deepest feelings firmly rooted in the hearts of people for hundreds and thousands of years from the moment their separate fatherlands began to exist. It has been one of the greatest, one can say, exceptional difficulties of our proletarian revolution that it had to pass through a period of sharpest conflict with patriotism during the time of the Brest-Litovsk peace”. (V. I. Lenin, “Spisy” – (Works) Vol. 28, Czech edition 1955, p. 187).
It is a great, one may say, exceptionally favourable circumstance for the socialist revolution in the present situation that patriotism, “one of the feelings most deeply rooted in people”, leans on and needs socialism in the struggle against imperialism for national interests. In this way patriotism and democracy have become mighty weapons of the workers’ class in present times and, step by step, they bring masses of new allies to the workers’ class.
The new conditions which are the consequence of the profound objective and subjective changes in the world create also new opportunities and prospects for the socialist revolution, new avenues as far as the forms of transition to socialism are concerned. In a number of countries which are particularly weakened by the conflicts within the capitalist order, the opportunity has arisen for the workers’ class to place itself firmly at the head of great popular movements for national independence, democracy, peace and socialism, to defeat the reactionary anti-people forces striving for the maintenance, and aggravation of national oppression and exploitation, to win a decisive majority in Parliament and to change it from all organ of the bourgeois democracy into an organ of power for the democracy of working people, into a direct instrument of power for the peaceful development of the socialist revolution.
Also, our experience provides notable and practical proof that it is possible to transform parliament from an instrument of the bourgeoisie into an instrument of the revolutionary democratic will of the people and into an instrument for the development of the socialist revolution.
When the German imperialist occupiers, aided by the treacherous bourgeoisie at home and with the consent of the Western imperialist powers, destroyed the national liberty and the independence of the Czechoslovak republic in 1938 and 1939, the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia (further only C.P.C.S.) placed itself at the head of the struggle for national liberation by the Czech and Slovak people. Following up the policy of the Popular Front originating from the time of the defence of the republic against fascism at home and abroad, it formed, in the course of a heavy fight against the occupiers requiring many sacrifices, a broad National Front, in which stood, under the leadership of the workers’ class, and side by side with it, peasants, tradesmen, the intelligentsia and part of the Czech and Slovak bourgeoisie. This broad National Front, embracing all patriotic and democratic forces of the country, was led by the working class into the national and democratic revolution.
Thanks to the fact that Hiller’s Germany was crushed by the armies of the Soviet Union and that our country was directly liberated by the Soviet army, national and democratic revolution conquered. As a consequence the occupation power of the German imperialists and of their domestic helpmates – the treacherous financial, industrial and agrarian upper bourgeoisie – was swept away, national unity and independence as a state was revived and a far-reaching democratization of the country was carried out. Furthermore, the sovereignty and independence of Czechoslovakia was renewed in the form of a new, people’s democratic order.
In this struggle the working class, led by the C.P.C.S., became the recognized driving force of the nation, its action-unity was consolidated and the influence of reformism which had splintered it in the years of the pre-Munich republic was weakened. The victory of the national and democratic revolution meant for the working class, which had relied in this struggle on all patriotic and democratic forces – the peasants, tradesmen, the intelligentsia and part of the Czech and Slovak bourgeoisie, its access to power.
The working class was the main force in the new revolutionary democratic government (the so-called Kosice Government) and in the national committees – the new organs of the state power created from below by the revolutionary masses. The programme for the building of the liberated republic, which had been elaborated and submitted by the Communists and which became the programme of the government was quickly implemented by the revolutionary activity of the popular masses. Its implementation gave rise to far-reaching political, economic, social and cultural changes in the country. Of the political points in this programme these were the most important; the breaking up of the basic members of the old oppressive bourgeois state apparatus and assumption of power by the national committees, the formation of a new people’s security system and army, the prohibition of the revival of the political parties which had represented the treacherous upper bourgeoisie, a systematic purge of the entire political, economic and cultural life of the country, the settlement of the relations between the Czech and Slovak nations on the principle of equality, the expulsion of the German minority etc.
Of the economic measures the following were the most important: the transfer of all enemy property, of that of the treacherous upper bourgeoisie and of other traitors, under the national administration of the new people’s authorities, the transfer of the land belonging to these enemies and traitors into the ownership of landless persons, tenants and working smallholders.
The principal foreign policy task was the unequivocal alliance with the Soviet Union, safeguarding national liberty and independence as a state and further undisturbed, peaceful development for the nations of Czechoslovakia.
All these measures, aiming at far-reaching changes in the social structure of the country, emanated directly from the conditions and tasks of the anti-fascist, national and democratic fight for liberation and arose from the old democratic traditions and longing of our people and they, furthermore, deepened and safeguarded that democracy. One of the tasks the Czechoslovak working class set itself in the struggle for the national and democratic interests of the people, was also, therefore, the re-establishment of the institution of Parliament which the occupiers had abolished, aided by the treacherous domestic upper bourgeoisie, and traditions which had deep roots among the people. As early as the end of the summer of 1945, after agreement had been reached between the political parties forming the National Front, the Provisional National Assembly was elected (on the principle of parity representation) and in May 1946 the Constituent National Assembly in general, secret, direct and fair elections. The composition of Parliament was strongly influenced by the results of the revolution, by the practical schooling of the working masses in the course of the victorious revolution. Of the eight political parties which were part of the National Front of Czechs and Slovaks at the time of the elections the Communist Party emerged as by far the strongest. It gained over 40 per cent of the votes in the Czech lands and, with the Communist Party of Slovakia, 38 per cent of the votes cast in the state as a whole. Parliament and, along with it, the fight between the working class and the bourgeoisie about its role and content entered the history of the people’s democratic development of Czechoslovakia. The working class, whose struggle had made it possible that this institution could be re-established, strove for parliament, as one of the most prominent political traditions and form of the past, to change its character (lit.: content; Tr.), to change from the instrument of the working class into one of the levers actuating the further development and consolidation of the revolution, into a direct instrument for the socialist building of the country. The bourgeoisie, on the other hand, strove for parliament to be revised with its old content – bourgeois parliamentarianism, and tried to use it for the stopping of the revolution, for the demolition of its achievements, for the consolidation and widening of its former political and economic power positions, for the preparation of the restoration of its former rule and dictatorship.
This struggle took place during the period 1946 – 1948. In the course of these years the working class, led by the Communists, made effective use of all its old forms of fighting, employed by the revolutionary workers’ parties in parliament, adjusted however to the new conditions, and found new ones. Helped by parliament, which was used by the working class for deepening the revolution and for the gradual, peaceful and bloodless change of the national and democratic revolution into a socialist one as “pressure from above” and by its effect on the growth of the “pressure from below” the bourgeoisie was pushed step by step from its share in the power. This gradual and bloodless driving of the bourgeoisie from power and the quite legitimate constitutional expansion of the power of the working class and of the working people was completed in February 1948 by the parliamentary settlement of the government crisis engineered by the bourgeoisie. The scope of power was definitely settled in favour of the working class, and Parliament, as one of the instruments of its power, immediately began to serve the socialist transformation of the country.
Parliament, which had played an important role in pre-Munich, capitalist Czechoslovakia in the political, economic, cultural and social life of the country, which had awakened and created a number of bourgeois, democratic, parliamentary traditions among broad sections of the population, underwent a change. The form remained but the content was different. Our working people, led by the Communists, provided practical proof during the years 1945-1948 that it was possible to transform parliament from an organ of the bourgeoisie into an instrument developing democratic measures of consequence, leading to the gradual change of the social structure, and into a direct instrument for the victory of the socialist revolution.
This fact, coupled with similar experiences gained by the other Communist and workers’ parties, led to the possibility being envisaged of the transition of some countries from capitalism to socialism by revolutionary use of parliament. This road which was most clearly illuminated and generalized at the 20th Congress of the C.P.S.U. shows, at the present time, the real possibility of forming a government of broad democratic forces grouped round the working class, relying on the revolutionary activity of the masses. Such a government can be set up without armed battle, by peaceful means. Its installation would be practically tantamount to the establishment of the democratic revolutionary power of the people. (Therefore, about the same would be achieved as was attained in our country by the armed, bloody battle of the national and democratic revolution). The purpose to which this new power, the nucleus of which would be formed by the working class, should be put thereafter would be using parliament for the consolidation and deepening of the real democratic rights and to a more or less speedy unfolding of the socialist revolution. (About our tasks during the years 1945-1948). The use of parliament itself for the transfer of all power into the hands of the working class, the speed of progress and the order of its revolutionary tasks would be, however, the same as the methods of the struggle, variegated, and would always correspond with the specific class and historical conditions.
Despite these differences there are in existence fundamental, generally valid, conditions for the possibility of a revolutionary use of parliament on the road to socialism, the substance of which is revolutionary and which are to be clearly distinguished from the reformist conception of the aim and use of Parliament. Our own Czechoslovak experience has also contributed to the generalization and practical proof of the validity of these principles.
The most important of these lies in the necessity of combining the revolutionary activity of parliament with a systematic development and the organization of revolutionary actions on the part of broad popular masses.
The Combination of “Pressure From Above” and that “From Below” – One of the Elementary Conditions for the Revolutionary Use of Parliament.
A preliminary condition for carrying out fundamental social changes and for making it possible that parliament be made use of for the purpose of transforming a capitalist society into a socialist one, is: (a) to fight for a firm Parliamentary majority which would ensure and develop a strong pressure from “above”, and (b) to see to it that this firm parliamentary majority should rely on the revolutionary activity of the broad working masses exerting pressure “from below”. The elementary condition for success consists of, therefore, a combination of pressure from “above” with that from “below” and its joint effect on the unfolding and strength of the revolution. This connection of the form of fighting from “above” with that from “below” emanates from the principle that questions regarding the class struggle (and, all the more, the social revolution) are decided and can be decided by strength alone. The pressure from “above” is a combination of preparations of the conditions for the creation and organization of the strength of the revolution, for its aggressiveness and its drive
(a) Regarding Questions of Using Pressure from “Above”.
The possibility and necessity of using tactical pressure from above in the stage of the democratic revolution was emphasized by the classics of Marxism-Leninism. In 1873, F. Engels criticized the Spanish nihilists (lit.: Bakunin-ists; Tr.) for not making use of pressure from above for the development of the democratic revolution. In 1905, V. I. Lenin proclaimed:
I. “To restrict, as a principle, revolutionary actions to pressure from below and to forgo pressure from above, is anarchism.
2. Whoever cannot grasp the new tasks in the era of revolution, the tasks of actions from above, whoever cannot state the conditions for and the programme of such actions, that person has no idea of the tasks of the proletariat in any democratic revolution.
3. The principle that it is not admissible for social democracy (i.e. the revolutionary party of the proletariat) to take part, jointly with the bourgeoisie, in a provisional revolutionary government, that every such participation should rate as betrayal of the workers’ class, is a principle of anarchism”. (V. I. Lenin, Spisy, Vol. 8, Czech edition 1954, p. 477). The Bolsheviks were to have participated in the envisaged provisional revolutionary government in the bourgeois democratic revolution in Russia in 1905, with this aim: to lead a heedless fight against all counter-revolutionary efforts and to protect the independent interests of the workers’ class. The overall character of the participation in this government was: not to lose from sight, even for a moment, the carrying out of a complete socialist coup.
Pressure from “above” is, therefore, the pressure of a revolutionary government, parliament and the other organs of power in the state apparatus or its part and it has, in substance a dual effect – the direct suppression by power of the counter-revolution and its machinations and, at the same time, exerting pressure on the citizens inciting and organizing them for the struggle for a further development of the revolution. A most important lesson for the whole of the international workers’ movement (and by this for our Party as well) was learned from the experience gained during the era of the Popular Front in Spain and France. In particular the example of Spain showed that as a result of the weakness of the Communists who did not stand at the head of the whole movement, the pressure from “above” was weakened. The Republican government, whose leading force were the Liberals, refused to meet the demands of the Communists who pressed for a purge of the army from fascist generals, so that the army was preserved for the counter-revolution, the army which later became the main force of the victorious counterrevolutionary uprising.
Our workers’ class and the C.P.C.S. gained valuable experience from the course of the struggle from “above” and the various forms of application in the new conditions. What were the principal forms of pressure “from above” applied in the period of the transformation of our national and democratic revolution into a socialist one?
THE FIRST DIRECTION given to the pressure “from above”, which our working class applied from its position of power in the organs and newly forming links of the apparatus of the peoples’ democratic state, was a systematic fight against enemies, traitors and collaborators. Gradually, as the national and democratic revolution changed into a socialist one the pressure “from above” was applied in an ever-increasing measure for the direct suppression and destruction of the counter-revolutionary machinations of the bourgeoisie. Let us recall the signal role played in the development and extension of that pressure by the Ministry of the Interior, for instance, which was led by the Communists and the units of State Security directed by them.
But also other organs of the state and of the state apparatus controlled by the Communists served for the direct suppression of bourgeois sabotage and obstructionism. So, for instance, the Ministry of Agriculture quickly completed by means of so-called “roving commissions” (lit.: flying commissions – Tr.) the confiscation of the land of enemies and traitors, in the autumn of 1946 sabotaged by the bourgeoisie. The national committees organized in autumn 1947 the “Special Food Commissions” which uncovered the hidden stores of landowners and kulaks and contributed greatly in this way to their isolation. In December 1947 organs of the Ministry of Internal Trade, controlled by the Communists, uncovered an extensive black market in the textile trade organized by the bourgeoisie, and liquidated for all practical purposes the private capitalist textile wholesale business by the setting up of state textile distribution centres.
The organs holding powers and the components of the state controlled by Communists in this way became unusually effective levers for the defence of the revolutionary achievements of the people and for the further advancement of the revolution. They made it possible to suppress directly bourgeois counter-revolutionary elements (to render harmless their sabotage and subversion). They made an outstanding contribution to the isolation of the bourgeoisie. They gave impetus to the revolutionary determination and self-confidence of the working masses. And so they formed a mighty support and force furthering the revolution.
THE SECOND PRONG of the pressure “from above” successfully employed by our working class was the use made of the organs holding powers (the government, parliament, national committees) for bringing about a wide popularisation of revolutionary demands and slogans. So, for instance, the government approved the “Programme of Building” elaborated by the Communists, which, in its substance was a programme for the further transformation of the democratic revolution into a socialist one. Its passage was of immense importance since the programme of the next economic-political measures for advancing the revolution, elaborated by the Communists, became the programme of the entire government. This enabled the working class afterwards to uncover all attempts made by the bourgeoisie at thwarting it as evidence of the anti-people, treacherous policy of the bourgeoisie and to isolate its political exponents. At the same time, because of the fact that revolutionary demands and recommendations were sponsored directly by organs of the state they gave an unusually effective incentive for the revolutionary initiative of the masses. Examples of the far-reaching results in closing the ranks of the working masses round the slogans of the Party were, e.g. the proposal of the Communists in the government recommending the introduction of the Millionaires’ Levy, the draft proposals of the Agricultural Laws elaborated by the Communist-controlled Ministry of Agriculture and submitted to the working peasants for comment, and other things. The fact that such demands and recommendations emanated directly from the highest state organs had a strong influence on their popularisation and gave an exceptionally strong impetus to the revolutionary elan of the masses who pressed for their implementation. (So, e.g. the notice for the preliminary registration of all land exceeding 50 hectares, (ha) issued by the Ministry of Agriculture in the course of the struggle for the implementation of the third phase of the people’s democratic land reform, had the effect of the working peasants in all villages realizing, when the registration was carried out, what land was beyond their reach and how much of it there was, of their visualizing the possibility of getting hold of it soon and therefore the effect of an increasingly more determined and decisive stand being taken in favour of carrying out the proposed reform.)
This direction given to the pressure “from above”, therefore, served particularly the wide popularisation of the demands and slogans of the policy of the Communists designed for a speedy progress of the revolution. It served as a means for the revolutionary education and organisation of the popular masses.
THE THIRD MEASURE. A particularly important and exceptionally effective way of the struggle “from above” lay in the utilisation of economic political power positions, especially the nationalisation of the banks, of banking, of key and big industries.
The economic power positions of the working class, represented by the nationalised sector of the country’s economy, were a mighty lever for the development of pressure “from above”. It enabled the suppression and, to a considerable extent, the paralysing of bourgeois counter-revolutionary intrigues aimed at economic decline and chaos. On the other hand, these positions enabled the exerting of “pressure” on the citizens and broad masses of the working people. The fast expansion of nationalised production and the resulting rise in the standard of living of working people presented examples in point showing the advantages of a nationalised and, in its substance, working-class-controlled and directed production; gave rise to revolutionary self-confidence and determination on the part of the working people and thus contributed to a still further isolation of the bourgeoisie.
This method of pressure “from above” was, therefore, a mighty pillar and force of the progressing (lit. deepening – Tr.) revolution.
THE FOURTH DIRECTION given to the pressure “from above” existed in the utilisation of the organs holding power for the direct uncovering of the anti-people policy of the bourgeoisie, for the isolation of the reactionary bourgeois leadership of the other parties of the National Front.
All organs vested with powers (the national committees, Parliament, the government) became places for the working class in which the anti-people policy of the bourgeoisie and of its parties was being uncovered. The Communists made use of these organs for sharp criticism levelled against the other parties and their representatives on the grounds of inconsistency and obstructionism regarding the fulfilment of the tasks accepted in the programme (in parliament, for instance, the criticism and uncovering of the anti-people activity of the Ministry of Justice which was controlled by the National Socialist Party, the uncovering of the obstructionist inactivity of the Ministry of Food controlled by the rightist Social Democrat Majer, etc.). At the same time these organs holding power were used for tabling further demands and proposals in favour of the working people and in this way the bourgeoisie and its minions were forced either to their acceptance or to an open showing of their anti-people’s face. (How important for the isolation of the bourgeois leadership of the other parties of the National Front was the proposal of the Millionaires’ Levy alone, tabled in the government by the Communists in 1947 and at first rejected by its majority.).
These disclosures were especially tilted at those parties which professed to be socialist by their name and slogans, particularly at the National Socialist Party and the right wing of the Social Democratic Party. Their lying slogans and bourgeois conception of socialism were uncovered on the hand of their concrete activity within the organs and their “socialist cloak” was torn from them before the eyes of the working people.
All the basic forms and actions involving pressure “from above” employed by our working class in the years 1945-1948 conformed, in the new circumstances, with the tasks allotted to the pressure “from above” as predicted by Lenin – a fight without quarter against all counter-revolutionary attempts and the defence of the independent interests of the working class. By using these methods this principle was fulfilled in practice: not to lose sight for a single moment of the aim of a complete socialist overthrow.
The individual forms and actions of the struggle “from above” carried out by our working class in the years 1945-1948 meant making use of the positions held by the working class in the organs vested with powers and in the entire state and economic apparatus for strengthening the people’s democratic power, for weakening and isolating the bourgeoisie, for conquering its positions by the working class and for the consolidation of the revolutionary democratic people’s power in the dictatorship of the proletariat.
These forms and actions of the struggle “from above” – always serving the release, the mobilisation and organisation of the revolutionary forces of the popular masses – greatly enriched the tactical armament and experience of the international workers’ movement.
Our practice and successes in the struggle “from above” made a trenchant contribution to the generalisation of the experience gained and for outlining the possibilities of a revolutionary use of parliament during transition to socialism.
(b) Questions of Utilising Pressure “From Below”.
To bring about a parliament which would cease to be a “soft-soap factory” and would become a revolutionary assembly of working people requires, however, a force constituting, maintaining it and actively assisting its revolutionary activity. This force, necessary for breaking the resistance of the reactionary bourgeoisie, exists in the pressure by the popular masses “from below”. Whereas pressure “from above” is the pressure exerted by the organs of the state and of the state apparatus, for the direct suppression, by power, of the counter-revolution which helps, at the same time, to rally and organise the popular masses for the fight for further progress of the revolution, pressure “from below” is the pressure exerted by the popular masses on the government, on parliament and on other organs holding power. This pressure takes effect mainly in three directions:
(a) It systematically supports
the revolutionaries in the organs of power, enhances their strength and
makes up for numerical weakness;
(b) It has a direct effect on limiting the influence and positions of waverers and enemies standing in the path of further progress of revolution;
(c) It awakens the forces of the people dormant for many years, its energy and self-confidence; it breaks through the onerous circle of intimidation and spiritual terror of the old institutions, the Church, etc.
The pressure “from below”, the revolutionary emergence of the popular masses is, therefore, essential for the success of every revolution. In the February revolution in France in 1848 the provisional government, in which there were only two representatives of the workers, refused to declare the republic. However, it was forced to do so by the threat of the armed proletariat. The pressure “from below” prompted the provisional government to act. When, however, the Paris proletariat came out in unreserved support of the provisional government in the March demonstrations it was defeated from the beginning.
“It consolidated the position of the provisional government instead of subordinating it” (K. Marx, “The Class Struggle in France”. K. Marx – E. Engels, Czech edition, Selected Writings, I, page 156.).
When Lenin clarified the possibility of and conditions for the participation of the revolutionary workers’ party in the provisional revolutionary government in 1905, at the height of the bourgeois democratic revolution in Russia, he sharply stressed: “We are obliged to influence the provisional revolutionary government from below in any event” (V. I. Lenin. Selected Writings, I, page 456).
In 1936, when the Seventh Congress of the Communist International elaborated the line of a united and popular front and the government possibilities of a united or popular front, the necessity of pressure brought to bear on such a government by the revolutionary masses was stressed:
“Since this movement of a united front is a militant movement
against fascism and the reactionaries, it will be a constant movable
force driving against the reactionary bourgeoisie. . . And the better
this mass movement is organized from below, the broader the network of
supra-party class organs of the united front in the factories, among
the unemployed in the labour districts, among the little men in towns
and villages, the more guarantees will exist against a possible
rejection of the policy of the government of the united front”. (G.
Dimitrov, Digest from Speeches and Articles 1950, page 103).
REAFFIRMED BY THE 20th CONGRESS C.P.S.U.: The principle and the necessity of using pressure from below by the popular masses, forming one of the fundamental possibilities of making revolutionary use of Parliament, as mentioned at the 20th Congress of the C.P.S.U., ties in fully with the old practice of the revolutionary workers’ classes in Parliament also in the new conditions. Therefore, the revolutionary workers’ movement must bring pressure from below to bear on Parliament and the government, whenever it wishes to protect, consolidate and extend the achievements of the revolution. It is in this pressure of the revolutionary masses, purposefully led by the revolutionary workers’ party that there exists a source of strength, power, courage and energy of the revolutionary Parliament, breaking the resistance of the reactionary forces, that there exists an instrument of the real will of the people which is capable of playing an exceptional part in the “peaceful” transformation of the capitalist society into a socialist one. And it is this principle of utilizing, purposeful development and organization of pressure “from below” referred to at the 20th Congress of the C.P.S.U., which stands out in the sharpest contrast with the old reformist theory and practice of the “Parliamentary road”, which isolates and forgoes the pressure of the popular masses.
Our workers’ class and the C.P.C.S. gained valuable experience also from the waging of the fight “from below” and the various forms of its application. Of particular importance is the experience with the great variety of forms of directing the pressure “from below” guaranteeing for the C.P.C.S. the leadership of the workers’ class and of the broad popular masses.
The very conception of the existing broad National Front contributed to attaining this end. It consisted not only of the political parties but also broad united national mass organisations, the establishment of which the C.P.C.S. achieved with the help of the revolutionary activity of the masses. These organisations comprised broader masses than the political parties, they fortified the unity of the people and, at the same time, they considerably reinforced the positions of the workers’ class and the positions of left progressive democratic forces in the other parties of the National Front. The united mass organisations which were led and influenced to a large extent by the Communists, represented in this way virtually the direct reserves of the Party. Through them the strong influence of the policy of the Communists penetrated also into the other political parties and so the unity of the National Front was strengthened from below over the heads of the leaders.
TRADE UNIONS: Of quite exceptional importance was the origin of the United Revolutionary Trade Union Movement (ROH). ROH, as a class and socialist organisation, consolidated the unity of the workers’ class; it enhanced its revolutionary strength and weight and, under the leadership of the Communist Party it used this strength most effectively for the fortification of the people’s democratic power and for the advancement of the socialist revolution.
Other means for influencing and guiding the working masses were in particular: The United Association of Czech Peasantry, the Association of Liberated Political Prisoners, the Association of Friends of the Soviet Union, the C.S. Youth Federation, etc. A great help for the guidance and organisation of the revolutionary fight of the peasants were the so-called “Peasants’ Commissions” whose members could be only farm hands, tenant farmers and small and medium farmers from the ranks of applicants for land.
This network of broad national mass organisations was used by the Communists for the popularisation of their policy and slogans and for engendering and organising the initiative of the masses and for using the various forms and actions of the pressure “from below” for the purpose of implementing that policy.
The second experience gained in the struggle “from below” is the many sided use of the forms proper of pressure exerted by the popular masses, These forms corresponded to the complicated class situation in, the conditions prevailing under the people’s democratic order, when the workers’ class assumed power but the bourgeoisie still kept part of the power. On the one side all the old proven forms of the struggle of the popular masses were employed, the forms which were in keeping with the revolutionary initiative and determination of the workers and matched the degree of resistance shown by the bourgeoisie: calling of protest meetings, passing of resolutions, sending of delegations, organised mass demonstrations and eventually also using strikes including general strikes (when finally the open political clash with the bourgeoisie was brought about in February 1948).
The strength and striking power of the individual actions of the pressure “from below” was constantly increased as need arose and safeguarded by exceptional organisational forms. An especially prominent role was played in this by the “Congresses of Factory Councils” and the “Congresses of Peasants’ Commissions” (when the political crisis was resolved in Slovakia in autumn 1947, in the struggle for the nationalisation of private capitalist enterprises with over 50 employees and the entire domestic and foreign wholesale business, when the demand was presses home for land reform above 50 hectares and when the political crisis was settled in February 1948).
On the other side the Communists, aided by the network of national mass organisations (and by the pressure “from above” exerted by the organs holding powers, especially the national committees and the government), developed new forms of pressure “from below” meeting the situation when the workers’ class was proceeding with the assumption of power. These forms must be particularly noted. They are the organisation of a broad building movement on the basis of voluntary brigades (coal, harvest, machine, etc.) and the advancement of competition in production within the factory and on a state-wide scale. These “constructive” forms of pressure “from below” fortified the overall position of the people’s democratic state, paralysed the efforts of the bourgeoisie at bringing about an economic and political upheaval and through their results (fast economic consolidation of the country and a rising standard of living of the working people) permanently entrenched and reinforced the power positions of the workers’ class in the country.
This third most valuable experience gained by our workers’ class is the creative application of the principal condition for pressure “from below”, much emphasised by Lenin, that is to say arming the proletariat. (V. I. Lenin stressed, in his work “Two Tactics”), two principal conditions for the pressure from below: the proletariat must be armed because the threat exists of a civil war and the proletariat must be led by a revolutionary workers’ Party).
The workers’ class armed itself in the course of the national and democratic revolution. Even after the victory of that revolution it retained its arms, however. One part of it from the ranks of the partisans, barricade-fighters and from the units of the C.S. corps formed in the Soviet Union, became the nucleus of a new armed state apparatus, especially the security apparatus under the control of the Ministry of the Interior which was in the hands of the Communists.
The second part permanently secured the safety of the works, the so-called Factory Guards. In case of danger of an attack by the counterrevolution individual parts of the workers’ class were armed: in the summer of 1947 the former partisans were armed for the liquidation of the Bender groups in Slovakia and in February 1948, when the preparations for a counter-revolutionary conspiracy by the bourgeoisie were uncovered, strong armed people’s militias were formed. In the last instance it was the arming of the workers’ class which took away the bourgeoisie’s liking for an armed conflict, which prevented bloodshed and ensured the undisturbed course of the revolution. (The necessity of arming the most mature part of the workers’ class for repulsing the counter-revolutionary machinations of the bourgeoisie and for ensuring the undisturbed building of socialism has been proved, incidentally, again by the later formation of the workers’ militias in people’s democratic Hungary and Poland.)
The armed parts of the workers’ class thus represented a very real and concrete form of the pressure “from below” directed against the counter-revolution and a very concrete and effective support for the workers’ forces in the organs of the state.
Of great importance for the international workers’ movement are not only the experience gained in the individual forms and actions of the pressure “from below” (corresponding to the concrete historical conditions) but also the absolute necessity of such a pressure as proved again by the actual practice which ended in victory. The pressure of the popular masses “from below” (in the totality of all its forms and concrete actions) made it impossible for the representatives of the other parties of the National Front, controlled by the bourgeoisie, which had numerical superiority in the decisive organs endowed with power, to isolate the Communists and to stop the revolution. Thus it (the pressure . . . ; Tr.) made up for the numerical weakness of the revolutionary representatives of the workers’ class in these organs and enhanced their strength, it contributed in a decisive manner to the acceptance of further revolutionary measures weakening the bourgeoisie and fortifying the power of the workers’ class. This experience, that pressure “from below” is absolutely essential for the undisturbed unfolding of the socialist revolution, is also reflected, in full measure, in the theory about the possibility of the revolutionary utilisation of parliament in connection with the road to socialism.
The combination of the pressure “from above” with that “from below” – the path toward the progressive undisturbed breaking of the resistance of the bourgeoisie, toward the gradual limitation and making impossible of a show of force by the bourgeoisie. The real possibility of the revolutionary utilisation of Parliament for the road to socialism lies, therefore, in the combined mass strength of the revolutionary acting people supporting parliament as a revolutionarily active assembly which fights for the systematic fulfilment of the demands of the working people. This co-ordination of actions by the broad popular masses and the revolutionary forces in parliament, in the government and in the local organs of power, mutually germinates their strength, drives the revolution ahead and infuses it with attacking and penetrating power.
Can this force really render impossible or reduce to a minimum armed violence on the part of the bourgeoisie, however? This question is very topical and it is discussed especially among the comrades of those Communist Parties who have orientated themselves toward a peaceful transition toward the socialist revolution. Let us take an example from France, where, after the 20th Congress of the C.P.S.U., a controversy developed in the periodical France Nouvelle between comrades H. Iannucci and Florimont Bonte.
“When reading F. Bonte’s article”, comrade Iannucci writes, “we gain the impression that the bourgeois state consists of parliament alone and not also of a powerful bureaucratic, military and police apparatus which has grown substantially under imperialism. In our social order great political problems are settled behind the scenes, or in administrative bodies rather than in parliament. . .
Is it at all possible to imagine that in a country such as France, which has a strong and most dextrous bourgeoisie, which has a model administration and possesses, thanks to colonial wars and the suppression of internal disorders, strong armed and police forces – why, could one imagine that the bourgeoisie here would ‘resign’ because of a mere ‘decree of Parliament’ or without ‘civil war’, without an ‘armed uprising’?” (France Nouvelle, 1956, No. 542.)
Comrade F. Bonte replied to the doubts expressed by comrade Iannucci and attempted to disperse them, referring to Engels’s idea that as soon as the workers’ class gains the support of the masses of the working peasantry and of other exploited sections it will become “the decisive force, to which all the other forces will have to submit willy nilly,”
Let us try to imbue this theory with the life of our practice and to render it clearer and more convincing in this way. Let us take, however, a concrete instance first of how the pressure from “above” was combined with that “from below” in a situation in which parliament had already played a powerful role in our development.
LIQUIDATION OF FARMERS: In accordance with the Kosice government programme the first big transfer of land was affected in people’s democratic Czechoslovakia. 2,946,395 hectares (ha) of land belonging to big holders, enemies and traitors was confiscated and allotted, on the basis of decrees, to 305,148 families of agricultural workers, tenants and small-holders, put partly under the administration of the co-operatives, national committees and the state. This land reform resulted in the almost complete liquidation of big holdings of land in the border regions, but the central parts of the country were affected by these decrees to only an insignificant measure. Big land-owners, holding above 50 ha of land, and the Church still retained some 1,400,000 ha of agricultural land, which means almost a fifth of the entire land. An economically and numerically strong section of kulaks still represented a very important force of the bourgeoisie in the countryside and the bourgeoisie was still most influential with the medium farmers as well.
The possibility of a further successful advance of the revolution depended on the reinforcement of the influence of the workers’ class and of the C.P.C.S. in the countryside, on a further strengthening and widening of the bond between the workers’ class and the working peasantry. The road for this was the struggle for further demands of the peasants (especially the still unquenched thirst for land,) a more intensive campaign for uncovering the face of the bourgeoisie and further subversion of the biggest bastion of the bourgeoisie in the countryside – the landholders’ ownership of the land.
In the summer of 1946 the Communists began the fight for handing over more land to the working peasantry (simultaneously with the demands that the allotted land should be speedily registered in the land rolls, that hunting rights should be democratized, boundary adjustments should be effected and the splitting up of agricultural land should be prevented and that the agricultural production plan should be safeguarded.) They made the demand for a revision of the land reform of 1919 the bourgeoisie had carried out in the pre-Munich republic. The revision affected a total of 1,027,529 ha of land and its materialisation would mean the complete liquidation of the group of big land-owners with over 150 ha of arable or 250 ha of agricultural land, the group of the so-called “rest-estate holders” and land speculators.
The demand for the revision of the first land reform of 1919 was pressed home by the Communists in the programme of the new government after the elections in May 1946 (“The Building Programme”). In the autumn of 1946 the Ministry of Agriculture, controlled by the Communists, submitted this demand (along with others) as a draft bill to the working peasantry for their comments (the so-called six Duris Acts.) The fight proper for carrying out a revision of the first land reform was, therefore; started by pressure from above.
The acceptance of the demand for a revision was bound to affect severely the big land-owners and the countryside bourgeoisie and, by this, the bourgeoisie as a whole. The bourgeoisie, making use of its positions in the leadership of the other parties of the National Front, in parliament and in the government, therefore, started to put up resistance against it immediately. It tried to prevent the acceptance of this law or to clip it and to retain big land-ownership in this way. A sharp class fight with the bourgeoisie developed over the acceptance of this law.
The pressure “from above” exerted by the Ministry of Agriculture (i.e. emanating directly from the supreme organ of the state – the government) by coming out with the draft law and openly inviting the working peasantry to comment on and to support it, triggered off, at the same time, a strong pressure “from below”.
The peasants discussed the draft proposals of the law at their meetings and their overwhelming majority demanded its acceptance. In the villages in which there was land subject to revision, “Peasants’ Commissions” were set up as the organs of the land-less, small and medium farmers-applicants for land. The demand for the revision was backed up more strongly by the local national committees (representing pressure from below vis-a-vis the higher administrative organs, Parliament and the leadership of the other parties of the National Front), by the United Association of Czech Peasantry and by the local organisations of the other political parties.
To increase the effectiveness of the pressure “from above” and “from below” against the bourgeoisie the Communists proclaimed (on behalf of the Ministry of Agriculture) additional far-reaching demands for the working peasantry, the so-called “Hradec Program”. Its basic demand was the division into lots of all big estates of over 50 ha and the complete liquidation of land held for the purpose of investment (lit.: speculation; Tr.) (Furthermore, the introduction of peasants’ insurance, grants of agricultural credits and protection to peasants, the introduction of a uniform agricultural tax graded in accordance with production areas, the size of farms, the number of dependants etc., a speedy mechanisation of agriculture aided by the state, especially the establishment of State Tractor and Machine Stations.)
The area of land subject to division according to this demand amounted to 432,905 ha, situated in 9,540 parishes, i.e. in two thirds of all the parishes in the whole state. This meant that additional masses of small and medium farmers were drawn into the decisive fight for the liquidation of big estate ownership (and the other demands.) The struggle for the revision of the first land reform entered the next, decisive stage. In the summer the proposal of the law was debated by Parliament. The Communists used these debates for uncovering the bourgeois leadership of the National Socialist, the Popular and the Democratic parties, and proved them to be furious defenders of the land owners and enemies of the working peasantry. Every attempt of the bourgeoisie at thwarting, delaying or limiting the proposed law was brought out into the open by the Communists in Parliament and pilloried. On June 9 and 10 alone the central organ of the Party, “Rude Pravo”, published a number of such disclosures made on the floor of Parliament (“The Representatives of the Big Land-Owners in Parliament Against the Peasants,” “They Wanted to Give the Big Land-Owners and Rest-Estate Holders Millions of Hectares of Forestry Land,” “The Secretary General of the National Socialist Party, Dr. Krajina, Threw the Peasants out of the Lobby of National Socialist National Assembly Members” etc.)
The Communist pressure in the government and in Parliament (the pressure “from above”) engendered more and more decisively the pressure “from below”. Thousands of resolutions from meetings of peasants demanding the immediate acceptance of these laws were submitted to parliament and the government. This was said in the resolutions, which were signed also by the village organistions of the National Socialist, Popular and Democratic parties: “ . . . we now recognise who is with us and who is against.” Dozens of Peasants’ Commissions, composed of members of all the political parties, came to parliament and stormily warned the leadership of the bourgeois parties not to obstruct their demands, claiming their immediate implementation. (For instance, the largest of these delegations was composed of 57 members of the National Socialist party, 35 members of the Popular party, 38 Social Democrats, 153 Communists, 15 members without political allegiance and 48 members who did not state to which party they belonged.)
On July 11 the pressure from “above” and from “below” closed like the claws of a pair of pincers. The bourgeoisie whose political positions were perceptibly shaken had to give way. The bill on revision of the first agricultural reform was passed by the parliament. The consequences of this victory were: the liquidation of more of the economic positions of the bourgeoisie in the village, a big political defeat of the bourgeoisie (its increasing isolation), a considerable strengthening and broadening of the bond between the workers’ class and the working peasantry. The peasants recognized that given direct political, organisational and material help of the workers’ class they could lead a successful fight against their arch-enemy, the land-owner and his helpers. Increasingly wider masses of peasants were coming over to Party positions and supported its political line aiming at further deepening of the revolution.
NATIONALISATION OF INDUSTRY: By a similar method the claws of the pincers were being closed by pressure from “above” and from “below” in the years 1945-1948, penetrating deeper and deeper into the flesh of the bourgeoisie. Thus when the liquidation of the political and economic positions of the occupiers and of the treacherous native grand-bourgeoisie was completed in the course of the national and democratic revolution on the basis of the Kosice program, further groups of the bourgeoisie were gradually annihilated as the revolution progressed. Nationalisation in October 1945 liquidated particularly the economic power of the financial bourgeoisie, the group of industrialists dominating until then the key industries and the basic sources of raw material and the group of factory owners employing over 500 employees,
Apart from the 62 per cent of the industry already nationalised another 13 per cent of the “small confiscates” were torn from the hands of private enterprisers in spring 1947. The revision of the first land reform signified the liquidation of the group of big landowners owning over 150 hectares of arable or 250 hectares of agricultural land, and the liquidation of the owners of “residue” farms. In the autumn of 1947 these “pincers” helped to carry out the “millionaires’ levy” and to solve the political crisis in Slovakia caused by the sabotage and counter-revolutionary activity of the strongest Slovak political party, the democrats.
All these class clashes with the bourgeoisie had far-reaching political consequences. The influence and strength of the bourgeoisie was collapsing, the broad masses gathered with growing resolution around the CPCS and its policy.
DISINTEGRATION OF POLITICAL OPPONENTS: At the end of 1947 and the beginning of 1948 an actual disintegration of the national socialist, the people’s and the democratic parties, took place. Honest members of these parties were parting with their bourgeois leadership and were coming over to the ranks of the CPCS and the Slovak CP (already in November 1947 when the Communists gained from the beginning of the year 237,384 new members the CPCS was stronger than all other political parties taken together), or created opposition groups within their own parties. The isolation of the bourgeoisie within the parties of the National Front was proceeding not only from the outside through the turning away of the broad masses from parties ruled by the bourgeoisie but also from within through the growth of democratic and socialist forces in these parties; through the growth of progressive opposition seeking the maintenance and strengthening of people’s democratic freedoms and rights and therefore endeavouring to co-operate with the Communists. From the bottom and over the heads of reactionary leaders of the other political parties the National Front grew constantly stronger as a class and social unity of the working people recognizing the CSCP as its leader, the Party which worked toward a total socialist reconstruction of the country.
The progress of the class struggle confirmed that the CSCP would gain in the forthcoming elections a decisive majority and would achieve the fulfilment of its other demands with the help of a democratically manifested will of the people. It demanded the liquidation of all private capitalist enterprises employing over 50 people, a total liquidation of the group of local and foreign merchants and a total liquidation of land-owners owning over 50 hectares of land.
Thus the situation of the bourgeoisie was, at the beginning of 1948, on the eve of the new parliamentary elections, substantially different from that in 1946. While prior to the elections in 1946, the bourgeoisie had a relatively strong mass basis, a short time of under two years of people’s democratic government was sufficient for the disintegration of the political army upon which it could formerly count. The broad masses of the people, especially working peasants, lost their illusions as regards the bourgeoisie and went over to the side of the workers’ class in order to place the bourgeoisie and its anti-popular and treacherous policy in the right light in the eyes of our nations.* In 1948 when the decisive fight between the workers’ class and the bourgeoisie drew closer the bourgeoisie had only a shade of the power and influence that it used to have in 1945. In this situation the bourgeoisie, frightened by this peaceful progress of the revolution which kept removing and destroying its economic and political positions one after another and which threatened their complete annihilation within a short time, decided to violate the lawful ways and to achieve its counter-revolutionary aims through a coup. It was signalled by a government crisis provoked by the resignation of 12 ministers. But by this the bourgeoisie only offered another new and open evidence of its spirit of disruption; it achieved its own isolation and complete defeat. After five days of government crisis the people settled its accounts with bourgeoisie reaction, legally and constitutionally (under consistent use of all forms of pressure from “above” and from “below”).
The representatives of the bourgeoisie and their agents were replaced in the government, absolutely legally and in accordance with the constitution valid since pre-Munich days (1920), by new representatives faithful to the people, selected from the ranks of the reconstituted National Front and recognising the leading role of the Communists in the state; the government was nominated by the President of the Republic and was unanimously approved by parliament.
As evidence of the fact that this form of transition of political power into the hands of the working class was absolutely legal and constitutional (and this point has an extraordinary political importance) we shall use a spontaneous and very valuable opinion of an important bourgeois émigré, the former chief of the office of the president of the republic, Jaromir Smutny.
“In their calculation they (i.e. the representatives of the bourgeois parties who submitted their resignation – J. K.) failed to take into consideration other fundamental circumstances:
(a) that the Government is not ‘ipso facto’ dissolved if a
minority of its members resigns (according to the Constitution the
Government was able to pass decisions if more than half of its members
were present, not counting the Premier. In the case of the February
Government, 13 members made up an absolute majority):
(b) that the Premier could not be forced into resignation with the rest of his ministers unless given a vote of non-confidence by Parliament;
(c) that the President of the Republic had no constitutional right to make the Premier resign when only part of his Ministers left the government, even if the character of the Government was substantionally changed:
(d) that only the National Assembly had the power to force Gottwald to resign”.
Yes. “The irony of world history puts everything upside down. With us ‘revolutionaries’ and ‘rebels’ legal methods agree much more than illegal ones or than a coup. The parties of order, as they call themselves, die by the legal state which they created”. (F. Engles, foreword to Marx’ work “Class struggles in France”, K. Marx – F. Engels: Selected Works, volume 1, 1950, p. 133).
And now let us return to the fears of Comrade Iannucci. Quite rightly he draws attention to the fact that a bourgeois state is not just Parliament but also an enormous bureaucratic, military and police apparatus and he asks in the light of this warning: “Is it possible to believe that the bourgeoisie would ‘yield’ by a simple ‘act of Parliament’ or without a civil war, without an ‘armed uprising?’.”
No, the bourgeoisie has never yielded its power by a simple “act of Parliament”. But it may be deprived of its power at an opportune moment without an armed uprising and civil war – by the force of consistently acting revolutionary masses led by the revolutionary workers’ party, supporting their representatives in the Parliament and transforming the Parliament into an active revolutionary assembly.
In the fight for the direct national, democratic, peaceful, economic and social demands of the people, by a combined pressure from “above” and from “below”, the position of the bourgeoisie in the organs of power and in the state apparatus may be weakened step by step, and so may its economic positions, and thus the working class heading the popular masses may be given step by step conditions more favourable for its fight for socialism. (Naturally, these demands will always be founded upon the concrete situation prevailing in the country concerned and will greatly differ. For example, defence of national interests by cancellation of all agreements and treaties with the United States of America damaging to the interests of the nation; prohibition of all war propaganda, punishment of warmongers and active support of the policy of collective security; abolition of all forms of racial, religious and national discrimination; fight against the monopolies, and their nationalisation; carrying out of a land reform, introduction of a general system of social security: abolition of every kind of economic, social and legal inequality of women, separation of Church and state; etc.). In the course of the fight for these national, social, economic and political demands of broad masses of the working people the following may and must be carried out successfully: a broadly founded democratisation and reorganisation of the organs of power (for instance, the principle that all the organs of state power from top to bottom are elected by the people, the abolition of the senate and concentration of all power in the hands of Parliament, a democratisation and reorganisation of the state apparatus – courts, police, army, etc.). This broad democratisation is in principle carried out by the gradual destruction of the bourgeois state apparatus and its transformation into an instrument and source of power of the new democratic might. (Therefore the eighth congress of the Italian Communist Party, which worked out the Italian line to be taken on the road to socialism, emphasised that Parliament may and must carry out its active function both in the interests of a democratic and socialist transformation of the country and in the new socialist society.)
“It must be stated that the fundamental condition for its fulfilling this function is that it must take its initiative, impulses and inspiration for its regenerative activity from the new political and administrative system in the state – towns, provinces and regions – as defined by the constitution and the forms of directing democracy which are materialised through the participation of the working classes in the political-economic direction of the state”. (Political resolution of the eighth congress of the Italian Communist Party, Information Bulletin, International Political Questions, No. 1-2, p. 87.)
All these measures and their consequences (a systematic strengthening of the positions of power of the working class and the gradual weakening and destruction of the economic-political supports of the bourgeoisie) are in their entirety the actual way toward a limitation and perhaps exclusion of any violence of the bourgeoisie against the people and thus toward prevention of civil war. In this case in the course of the fight for a complete take-over of all power by the working class no notice can be taken of the present relationship between class forces; it must be considered what this relationship will be during the time of government of the revolutionary democratic might. Thus at the moment when the bourgeoisie is in danger that all power is about to be taken over by the working class it will be by far not so powerful and its main supports will be undermined.
Progress toward socialism may take, under these circumstances, a democratic and constitutional course. Parliament, which will be an active revolutionary assembly relying upon the revolutionary mass movement of the working class and its allies, will turn into an instrument of the working class on its way to power, into an instrument of the transformation of the whole state and its machinery. Under these circumstances all the changes which in their entirety represent a revolutionary transformation of capitalist society into a socialist one will proceed absolutely legally. Parliament may pass in a democratic and legal way and in the name of the nation a new constitutional codifying and making possible a socialist transformation of the country. (Within less than three months following the crushing of the attempt of the bourgeoisie at a coup the Parliament of the Czechoslovak Republic approved a new constitution which safeguarded all the progress so far made and ensured the sovereignty of the working people in the state, the popularisation of the state apparatus and the liquidation of the remnants of the bureaucratic police state apparatus, anchored nationalisation as a firm economic basis of the people’s democratic state and, in its totality, strengthened and ensured the transition of the country to socialism.)
Thus, progress toward socialism, with the help of Parliament and without a bloody civil war, is a real possibility. However, this possibility must not raise false illusions among the working class which must not be in the least morally disarmed through doubts as to its right to take to arms in every case when forced to do so by the resistance of the bourgeoisie. Therefore the 20th congress of the Soviet Communist Party proclaimed with absolute frankness: “There can be no doubt that for a number of capitalist countries a violent downthrow of the bourgeois dictatorship and, with it, a connected vehement acceleration of the class struggle is inevitable”.
Thus the 20th congress of the Soviet C.P. proclaims in full harmony with the spirit of Marxism-Leninism that at the present historical stage in the development of society the possibility to break the resistance of the bourgeoisie against socialist transformation of society by non-violent means, without recourse to revolutionary violence, has matured or will mature in many countries. But the working class and working people will not renounce armed right and revolutionary violence where it is inevitable in order to break the resistance of the exploiting classes. Thus it uses Lenin’s paraphrase: “A delivery may be difficult or easy. Naturally we are all for an easy and painless delivery. Conditions for such a delivery are now favourable. But if necessary we are ready to undergo a difficult and painful delivery to see the child born”.
VII. THE ROLE OF PARLIAMENT
Conflict between the revolutionary use of Parliament and the reformist meaning of a “parliamentary way to socialism”.
A revolutionary usefulness of Parliament will demand in new historical conditions a realisation of a new form of transition to the dictatorship of the proletariat; Parliament must become a new instrument of socialist revolution depriving the bourgeoisie of its power, of its means of production and materialising the building of socialism with the working class directing the policy making. Thus it serves the revolutionary aims of the proletariat, and corresponds to the Marxist-Leninist principles of the necessity of revolutionary transition of capitalist society into a socialist one, corresponds to Lenin’s conclusions: “ . . . capitalism cannot collapse but through a revolution”. (V. I. Lenin: Works, vol. 29 of Czech edition 1955, p. 394.) “. . . There can be no successful revolution without a suppression of the resistance of the exploiters”. (V. I. Lenin: Works, vol. 28 of Czech edition 1954, p. 66). The reformist “parliamentary way to socialism” denies the necessity of a revolutionary transition of capitalist to socialist society, denies the necessity of a socialist revolution, denies the necessity (under the slogan of “parliamentary democracy”) of seizure of all power by the workers’ class, denies the necessity of acquiring the political direction of the state and of establishing the dictatorship of the proletariat. The reformist “parliamentary way” cannot therefore in its consequences ever lead to the building up of socialism, is not in its substance a socialist programme. It is capable of attacking within the framework of capitalism, with varying force, the consequences of capitalist exploitation but is not capable of grasping its causes, of smashing capitalism and materialising a revolutionary transformation of society.
To these deep-rooted dissimilarities of the two approaches corresponds a similarly profound difference in the tactics in making use of Parliament.
The substance of the tactics of revolutionary use of Parliament is fully based upon the old principle of revolutionary activity of the working class in a bourgeois parliament worked out in detail by the classics of Marxism-Leninism and further developed in the new conditions. It starts from the following principle: Parliament in bourgeois countries is a product of historical development and cannot be erased from life. It is necessary therefore to work in it and to use it in the fight against bourgeois society.
The task of the representatives of the working class in the bourgeois parliament has always been to transform parliament into a mirror showing the working masses the class interests and conflicts in bourgeois society in their nakedness and to unveil consistently and unflinchingly the bourgeoisie and its helpers (whether they are aware of their position or not). Their task has always been to use bourgeois parliament as a platform for revolutionary agitation, propaganda and organisation, as an effective form to unchain revolutionary activity of the broad popular masses side by side with the working class.
Linking and systematic combination of parliamentary and non-parliamentary actions has always been the fundamental principle of revolutionary tactics in making use of Parliament.
This tactic of linking and combining of Parliament with revolutionary actions of the proletariat and the working masses outside Parliament, still used by Marxist-Leninist parties, may be given a new task in the new historical conditions and under new circumstances, namely to transform Parliament from an organ of the bourgeoisie into an instrument of power of the working class, and parliamentary democracy into an instrument for the establishment of a proletarian democracy, of a dictatorship of the proletariat.
The tactic of using Parliament as a potential new specific form of transition to socialism is therefore only a further development, another step of the old Marxist-Leninist tactic combining the use of Parliament, with the use of the revolutionary masses, and is by its whole substance a complete antithesis to the reformist parliamentary way to socialism. The same way as the revolutionary tactic of making use of Parliament corresponds to the revolutionary aims of the Marxist-Leninist party the tactic of reformist use of Parliament corresponds to the reformist aims of rejection of revolution.
The reformist parliament (an instrument of the bourgeoisie for strengthening and maintaining capitalist power) is an organ for co-operation between the workers’ class and the bourgeoisie. Partial reforms achieved in Parliament (in agreement with the capitalists) serve the reformist as evidence that peaceful coexistence of bourgeoisie and the workers’ class is possible, that class struggle is dying down, that revolution is superfluous and political domination of the workers’ class unnecessary. Instead of the necessity of a proletarian democracy they sustain the illusion of a parliamentary pure democracy.
Because in the reformist conception Parliament is an organ of cooperation of the working class with the bourgeoisie the reformist tactic takes the weight of political work exclusively to Parliament (i.e. organ of bourgeois power), rejects and refuses the use of the pressure of broad popular masses, isolates Parliament from the revolutionary actions of the working people. The reformists have already taken care by their own deeds to offer not one but scores of examples of the absolute impossibility and absurdity of their “parliamentary way to socialism”. In many countries the reformists won the majority, often absolute majority. Their governments were in existence and have been in existence for extended periods of time.
VIII. THE LABOUR PARTIES
One of the chief propagandists of this way, the British Labour Party, had three times had an opportunity to turn its “theories” into practice. It held the government in 1924, in the years 1929 through 1931 and for six years in 1945 through 1951 The Swedish Social Democratic Party has already been for 25 years, a whole quarter century, the strongest and the governing party in the country (in this year’s elections to the Riksdag, the lower chamber of the Swedish Parliament, it won 108 mandates while the second strongest party, the Agrarian Union, obtained only 20 mandates). A similar situation prevails in other Nordic states. And still socialism is not built in these countries – on the contrary. Capitalist domination grows stronger, the profits of the monopolies are rising.
There could be no clearer evidence of the absurdity of the idea that socialism may be built in co-operation with capitalism, without bringing down the political might of the bourgeoisie, without the dictatorship of the proletariat. (As a matter of fact the bourgeoisie in capitalist states has a justified confidence in the reformists, as the present (l957-Ed.) situation in France shows.) While in one place it breaks, by a strike or by bloodshed and force of arms, it entrusts the “government” to the reformist socialists without hesitation if need be. And it knows why. A consistently conducted fight of the working class in one single factory is more dangerous to it than a formal “entrusting with the government” to their helpers.
In spite of its absolute hopelessness the theory of “a parliamentary way to socialism” is still alive in the capitalist states and appeals to the backward part of the working class and especially to the petty bourgeoisie (in view of the long, opportunistic influence exerted upon the masses which again is in direct connection with the idealisation of parliamentarianism carried out by every means by the bourgeoisie). Opportunist ideology and practice are therefore a serious obstacle to the creation of a broad and revolutionary movement of the masses fighting consistently for democratic and socialist demands. They are a serious obstacle in the efforts of the working class to transform Parliament into an instrument of power of the working class and must therefore be systematically and energetically fought.
The Communists and the working parties seeking to make a revolutionary use of Parliament in the fight for the transition may follow our advice from the time of transition of the democratic revolution into a socialist revolution. This advice clearly demonstrates the grave danger of reformism and some of its concrete signs, which can be discovered even in the activity of the Social Democratic party in conditions of the people’s democratic system, a party which used to have a comparatively strong left leadership and followed a policy of co-operation with the Communists.
ACCELERATING THE CLASS STRUGGLE: In the complicated class conditions of the years 1945-1948 when the question of power in people’s democratic Czechoslovakia was not yet definitely settled and when power was still shared by the workers’ party and the bourgeoisie, two basic political lines were opposing each other. One was the revolutionary political line of the working class which had as its purpose and aim the achievement of the gradual isolation of the bourgeoisie and the closing of the ranks of the nation around the working class and its vanguard, the Communist Party; its aim was the transition from the tasks of national and democratic revolution to the tasks of a socialist revolution and the definite settlement of the question of power by consolidating people’s democracy into a state of the dictatorship of the proletariat. The second basic political line was the line of the bourgeoisie whose aim was to isolate the working class and its vanguard, the C.P.C.S., to halt the national and democratic revolution and to attain with the help of Western imperialists the restoration of the capitalist domination under a dictatorship of the bourgeoisie.
In this tug-of-war situation, when the class struggle was accelerating, the working class fighting for complete political power is attacked from the rear by the reformist ideology and practice of the “democratic way to socialism” as preached by the right wing of the Social Democratic party. While the working class under the leadership of the Communists was locked in battle with the bourgeoisie for a deeper and broader hegemony among all classes of working people, a battle for the strengthening and consolidation of its leading role in the nation, the reformists came forward with their theories denying the leading role of the proletariat and proclaiming its merging with (and thus absorption by) the other classes, for instance with the peasantry.
The progress in agricultural production and the technical revolution in agriculture signify “that the peasantry moves with increasing momentum to the level of the workers, that the two massive sections of the working people become economically balanced and that thus the centuries-old wall between the worker and the peasant, between town and country, is inevitably disappearing. No doubt this results in all the political consequences, for now the peasants as well become the bearers of technical and social and thus also political (!) and cultural progress; like the workers they uphold the struggle for a new social order (!) and take their place by the side of the workers in the socialist movement . . .” (Minutes of the 20th congress of the C.C. Social Democratic movement, page 80).
This is a clear example of revision of the Marxist theory of classes. The peasantry (including the rich peasants who were the chief bearers of technical progress in our villages), the private owners of land become through the progress made in agricultural production (capitalist production) and through the introduction of technical means (as well as capitalist) just like the working class the bearers of the struggle for the socialist social order. What else could the bourgeoisie wish, concentrating its efforts at breaking the hegemony of the working class in the nation. How far was this theory suppressing the difference in purpose of the individual classes and social groups in the socialist revolution from the voices of the bourgeoisie itself: “The nation is not composed of one occupation or class and it is to its benefit that all occupational and class interests be harmonised for an excessive elevation or attenuation of one class must necessarily mark a detriment for the other classes and thus for the whole whose gain must be our only aim.” (“Lidova Demokracie”, 10.6.45.)
It is as if this transparent wishful thinking were the father of the theory of a permanent peaceful coexistence of capitalism and socialism in one state, of the merging of antagonistic classes. “To us nationalisation or socialisation of key positions in production and distribution and protection of private ownership of small and medium production units and especially of private ownership of small and medium agricultural property is an expression of a wise and economical organisation . . . The materialisation of this plan will lead to gradual elimination of class conflict in human society”. (Draft proclamation . . ., page 566.)
Within the framework of this “democratic way to socialism” obstinately supported by the right wing of the Social Democratic party the private capitalist production sector was to be preserved permanently and so was the bourgeoisie with its still powerful economic foundation. Also permanently to be preserved was its position of strength, used to the dissipation of the country’s economy and to political discrimination against the working class heading the state.
Also the old reformist understanding of the role of Parliament manifested itself under the influence of the right wing both in theory and practice of social democracy in the years 1945-1948 and was in crass conflict with the revolutionary line of using Parliament followed by the Communists. Fully in that line, the 20th congress of the Social Democratic party proclaimed that “the centre of all political life will be the National Assembly (p. 66). The proclamation of this principle was not made by chance. “In every (!) democracy parliamentary support for the will of the people is the most important”. (“Social Democracy and the Rights of the National Assembly”, “Cil”, 1946, page 5). “In the parliamentary system (bourgeois as well?) decisions are made before the eyes and under the direct control of the people”. (V. Erban, “Svet Prace”, The World of Labour, 14.9.46.).
What this meant in practice was well defined in A. Samek’s article entitled “On the Reactionary Role of the Social Democratic Ideology of Transition of National and Democratic Revolution into a Socialist Revolution”. (“Filosoficky Casopis”, (Philosophical Journal) vol. 1955, No. 1.)
“In practice this meant that whenever the people manifested its will otherwise than through its representatives in the National Assembly the right wing of Social Democracy raised its voice in opposition to it. When in the course of the fight for the “Hradec Programme” the Communists appealed straight to the people and when the peasants approved this programme at their meetings and sent their representatives to the National Assembly to voice their demands, the right wing of the Social Democratic party reacted as follows: “The Communists began to arrange public meetings of the peasants. This grew into a whole campaign organised with a view to compelling the National Assembly, also with the help of deputations despatched to Parliament, to pass without change the draft submitted by the Ministry of Agriculture. With such influencing of Parliament and with these methods employed by the Minister we could naturally not agree”. (Report on activity, p. 13.) The people must not take a resolute position against the bourgeoisie; it is only allowed to discuss through its representatives in Parliament! When the bourgeoisie kept pronouncing, due to its position in the Ministry of Justice and in the Courts, disgracefully mild sentences against traitors and when the people raised its voice resolutely against this state of affairs, the C.S. Social Democratic press wrote that the Courts (in the given case, the bourgeoisie) and not the street (i.e. the working people) should judge. When the S.N.B. takes steps against the enemies of people’s democracy, when it openly defends the interests of the people and not those of the bourgeoisie, the Report complains as to the “political influencing and misusing of the security apparatus”. (p. 48). When the National Assembly discusses the bill on enlightenment of officers of the security force, C.S. social democratic deputies submit a resolution stating that political education of the S.N.B. is unnecessary! Thus the working class was to be deprived of its important weapon. On 2 July, 1946, “Pravo Lidu” writes that C.S. Social Democracy will not let itself be influenced by public proclamations, stoppages of work, demonstrations, etc. These facts prove clearly that Social Democracy opposes the true rule of the people and tries to undermine the political activity of the working people, limit their political horizon, and make them a helpless tool in the hands of bourgeois politicians”.
This characteristic may be supplemented by an example demonstrating how the theory and practice of Social Democratic isolation of Parliament from the revolutionary struggle of the masses of working people suited the bourgeoisie. When, in the autumn of 1945, the bourgeoisie opposed the decree nationalising key and heavy industries, the C.P.C.S. decided to appeal to the people. A gigantic mass movement for nationalisation ensued, pressing the bourgeoisie with its back against the wall. The bourgeoisie, afraid of the pressure of the popular masses, proclaimed: “We consider any pressure demanding an accelerated approval of the decree to be harmful. The government needs nothing more than peace and time . . . ” (“Lidova Demokracie”, 26.9.45).
The pressure of the people’s masses holding the bourgeoisie in its pincers was to be relaxed. The Social Democratic Minister of Industry, Lausman, attempted tit the decisive moment to frustrate the political activity of the working people: “Folks, have patience, the draft decree on nationalisation of big industry, has 46 paragraphs and we are arguing the first”, (“Pravo Lidu”. 24.9.45.)
In order that the reformist “democratic way” to socialism be complete there had to be, of course, a denial of the basic condition of the possibility of victory for socialism – of the dictatorship of the proletariat. “Our state has decided for socialisation in the democratic manner, that is to say through the ballot and not through revolution and dictatorship”. (Minutes of the 20th congress of the Social Democratic party, page 161). Thus to solve the problems of transition from capitalism to socialism, of breaking the desperate resistance of the bourgeoisie, of expropriating the exploiters and transforming small private capitalist production into socialist production on a large scale should be possible without the direction of policy by the working class, without the dictatorship of the proletariat – just by phrases about some kind of pure democracy. In other words revision and denial of the basic maxim of Marxist-Leninist theory of classes and class struggle.
The reformist theory and practice of the “parliamentary way”, although flavoured by new conditions, remained what it has always been, even on the soil of people’s democracy, a theory and practice of the defence of the bourgeoisie. Its aim was the undermining of the leading role of the working class in the revolution for it denied the necessity itself of a revolution, proclaimed the possibility of a permanent co-operation with the bourgeoisie, attempted to isolate Parliament from the revolutionary pressure of the working people and preserve it as an organ for co-operation with the bourgeoisie, negated the necessity of a directorship of the proletariat and instead of a necessity of a proletarian democracy it nurtured illusions of “pure democracy”. Therefore even in the people’s democratic system in which the working people under the leadership of the Communist Party are able to see daily in the course of attaining political, economic and social demands the result of their revolutionary unity and of the perfidy of the reactionary bourgeoisie, it was necessary to fight systematically against the destructiveness of reformism subservient to the bourgeoisie. The Social Democratic party, which as a whole was already following the policy of co-operation with the Communists, was given as an example of the strong influence of reformism and of its dangers on purpose. Much more open and also much more transparent was the reformism of the National Socialist party proclaiming “national socialism”, definitely rejecting Marx’ theory and attempting without shame to strengthen capitalism. This warning experience convincingly points to one of the basic conditions of a revolutionary use of Parliament for the purpose of transition to socialism; namely to the necessity of “decisive rejection of opportunist elements unable to drop the policy of compromise with the capitalists and landowners”. (20th congress of the Soviet C.P., “Nova Mysl”, February 1956, p. 23.).
Therefore, if the working class is to create under its leadership a united revolutionary popular movement able to break the resistance of the reactionary bourgeois forces, if it is to transform a bourgeois parliament into an organ of the will of the working people and to use it as an instrument for a peaceful transition to socialism, it must fight systematically and energetically against reformism with its treacherous ideology and practice. Therefore it is the duty of the working class to continue and step up its criticism of the reformists who, following their theory of the “parliamentary way to socialism”, cannot and do not want to use Parliament in the fight against the capitalists and refuse to mobilise, organise and utilise the people’s masses against the counter-revolutionary bourgeoisie.
The fight against the opportunists who are unable to drop their policy of co-operation and compromise with the capitalists and land-owners whether they are aware of it or not, cannot be separated from a systematic and purposeful effort to establish co-operation and to create a unity of action with Social Democratic and other socialist parties. This has been made possible by the change of objective and subjective processes in the world during this present historical epoch. The struggle for the preservation of national independence, democracy, peace and the betterment of the social position of the working people presents itself under present conditions increasingly as a common task of Communist and all other political parties and organisations, acknowledging the principles of socialism and democracy. In the present situation not the questions of fundamental differences should be emphasised but those questions which are common and which reflect immediate interests.
Evidence of the possibility and success of such a struggle is again to be found in our own experience. In the course of the fight against the occupiers and their helpers among the big bourgeoisie in this country, in the course of the fight for the recovery of national and state independence and of the anti-fascist fight for democratic right of the people a broad National Front of workers, peasants, tradesmen, intelligentsia and part of bourgeoisie was created. This National Front headed by the working class represented a decisive internal force ensuring the victory of the national and democratic revolution.
The unity of action of the working class and the strong influence of the ideas of socialism manifesting itself in the course of the national and democratic revolution made it possible to conclude, in June 1945, within the framework of the National Front, a “socialist bloc”. The creation of the socialist bloc within the National Front signified an agreement between the C.P.C.S. the C.S. Social Democratic party and the C.S. National Socialist party on a common advance in all questions resulting from the execution of the Kosice government programme. The existence of the “socialist bloc” whose representatives were in the majority in government could signify the possibility of a relatively fast transition to socialism while a continuous strengthening of left and truly socialist elements in the non-Communist parties was proceeding. The practice and development of the forces in the country has shown however that the main significance of the agreement was the fact that this agreement, concluded before the eyes of rank-and-file members of the parties concerned, strengthened the unity of the working class and made it more difficult for the bourgeoisie and its agents in the leadership of the National Socialist and Social Democratic parties to find a way out of the obligation to execute the government programme which has become the political foundation of the bloc. (It fulfilled the tactical principle to obtain from all unreliable allies concessions, obligations and promises as far reaching as possible, this being the surest way to compromise them and to help the faithful allies within these parties. This device and this form of co-operation may lead in another situation in other countries to a gradual rapprochement between the socialist parties and thus to far greater and deeper consequences.) Both these agreements and this co-operation – the creation of the National Front with the representatives of other political parties and the creation of the “socialist bloc” – were and could be effected only because they came into being under the pressure of the unity of popular masses, their actual co-operation from “below”.
The whole course of the struggle in the years 1945-1948 demonstrated that the decisive and basic factor in creating and strengthening the action unity of the working class is its creation from “below”, in the course of the fight for immediate political, economic and social demands of the working people. Thus, for instance, when in 1947 the Communists put forward in the government the demand of a “Millionaires’ Levy” for the benefit of the peasants suffering through the consequences of a catastrophic drought, even the representatives of the Social Democratic party raised their voice against this demand. The Communists organised immediately a common stand and pressure by the popular masses, especially a common and resolute stand of the working class for the approval of this demand. “Rude Pravo”, the central organ of the C.P.C.S., published immediately after the refusal to approve the “Millionaires’ Levy” the names of all the Ministers who voted against the measure and added the following disclosure: “All these gentlemen were elected by our people in the honest belief that they have subscribed to the programme of the National Front. However, by their attitude they demonstrated to the broad masses of workers, peasants, office workers and tradesmen who elected them that they protect millionaires, speculators, industrialists, land-owners and merchants. There are only 35,000 such people in our country. Their votes would hardly suffice for two mandates. In fact they found supporters in the four parties of the National Front in the Government”. (“Rude Pravo” 4.10.57).
This comprehensive and clear demand of the Communists brought the rank and file members of the Social Democratic party into the common fight against the right wing forces in their own party; organisations as a whole stood resolutely behind the common actions. This represented a very strong pressure on the leadership of the Social Democratic party, a weakening of the right wing and strengthening of the left, with the result that after a week’s struggle, on September 11, an agreement was concluded between the leadership of the C.P.C.S. and the leadership of the Social Democratic party on common action. This agreement contained very important obligations on both sides:
1. to submit a common draft proposal for the “Millionaires’ Levy”
2. to proceed jointly in the question of remuneration of state employees,
3. to fight for the unity of the National Front and to appeal to the membership of both parties to act in unity from “below”.
This whole tactic offers a clear example of the decisive influence of unity at the bottom upon the possibility of effective co-operation with the leadership of other socialist parties. This tactic which the Communists employed during the whole period 1945-1948, i.e. during the period of transition from national and democratic revolution to socialist revolution, led to a strengthening and greater decisiveness on the left wing of the Social Democratic party and to its successive shift to the positions of true revolutionary Marxism and thus to its gradual ideological harmony with the Communists. It prepared conditions for the left wing of the Social Democratic party to expel right-wing representatives from the party at the moment when the right, reformist wing prepared for an open crossing to the side of the bourgeoisie (in the February crisis in 1948), to cleanse the party and to increase substantially the party’s cooperation with the Communists.
Our experience with the creation of an action unity of the working class, one of the fundamental conditions of a peaceful transition to socialism, shows that the centre of its true beginning must be pressure from below, systematic uncovering of the reformist theory and of cooperation with the bourgeoisie, common fight of the broad masses of all socialist parties or parties and organisations approving the revolutionary demands of the working people. In other words direct actions from below based on our own experience of fighting and winning.
THE SOVIET EXAMPLE: The practical experience of the Czechoslovak way to socialism confirmed the validity of many basic experiences of the Great October Revolution. In these basic, generally valid, experiences of socialist revolution the Soviet Union stands as an example for all; thus, in spite of its specific aspects our revolution has taken its course and follows basically the way taken by the Soviet Union. It is a very important task, also from the point of view of the international workers’ movement and its needs, to analyse how far the generally valid principles of socialist building are applied under the concrete historical conditions prevailing in our country. All our experiences must be scientifically classified; it must be shown under what situations and conditions they originated and the process of their materialisation must be demonstrated.
Our example has shown that Czechoslovakia’s transition to the building of socialism was successful only because it was under the political direction of the working class headed by the Marxist-Leninist Czechoslovak Communist Party. It has shown that the specific form of transition did not affect in any way the substance of the new force created by the socialist revolution, the dictatorship of the proletariat. It confirmed the validity of Lenin’s maxim saying that every nation advancing towards socialism “will add something specific to any existing form of democracy, to any existing form of dictatorship of the proletariat, to any concrete pace of socialist transformation of the various aspects of social life”. (Lenin’s Works CS edition 1957, page 71). While the tasks and the form of the dictatorship of the proletariat established by the proletariat in the October Socialist Revolution corresponded to the actual historical situation in Russia and to the contemporary relationship of internal and international class forces, the tasks and the form of the dictatorship of the proletariat in people’s democratic Czechoslovakia correspond to the actual historical situation in Czechoslovakia. This form of the dictatorship of the proletariat, differs by a number of points from the form adopted by the October Socialist Revolution.
By the existence of the National Front as a political expression of unity between the working class and the working peasantry and the other working people:
By the existence of more political parties within the framework of the National Front. These non-Communist political parties are in their substance petty-bourgeois parties fully recognising, however, and subordinating themselves to the leadership of the CPCS and serving the building of socialism and the common fight of the people for peace.
By the recognition of former bourgeois parliamentary institutions, such as the parliament, president, etc., which have however adopted a new, socialist purpose.
By not depriving the bourgeoisie of the right to vote having adopted the principle of universal, secret and direct ballot. Our way has supplied a definite proof that Marxism-Leninism has nothing in common with a “cult of violence” and shaken very seriously the lying propaganda of reformism, attempting to persuade the working masses that the basic difference between the revolutionary workers’ movement and reformism lies in the question of a “non-bloody” way to socialism. The violence employed by the Great Socialist October Revolution was forced upon the proletariat of Russia by Russian and international bourgeoisie. This violence of the Great Socialist October Revolution was therefore only a necessary specific aspect corresponding to the historical situation, and not a generally valid rule of a socialist revolution.
In 1919, in the midst of a grave civil war in Russia, and in the days of the foundation of the Hungarian Soviet Republic, V. I. Lenin proclaimed:
“In a state in which the bourgeoisie do not of offer such furious resistance the situation for Soviet power will be easier; it will be able to work there without violence, without the bloody way forced upon us by Messrs Kerensky and the imperialists. . . Other countries arrive at the same goal, Soviet power, by another, more human way . . . The example given by Russia alone was not fully understandable to the workers everywhere in the world. They knew that there were Soviets in Russia, they all were for the Soviets but they were frightened by the horrors of the bloody fight. The example of Hungary will be decisive for the proletarian masses, for the European proletariat and for the working peasants.” (V. I. Lenin’s Works, vol. 29 CS Edition 1955, page 264, 265).
A “cult of violence” cannot be followed by the working class also because a violent armed fight is not at all advantageous for it from the point of view of its aim – the achievement of a complete socialist revolution. This aim combines two inseparable tasks: to oust the power of the bourgeoisie and to organise a new higher method of social production, to organise and build socialism. The latter task is more serious and more difficult for it is the best source of strength required for the definite victory over the bourgeoisie, a source of firmness and steadfastness of the dictatorship of the proletariat.
It is just this more difficult and serious, more decisive, task that the working class can fulfil much faster with the help of peace production forces, without a civil war – which is unthinkable, without disorganisation of the country, destruction of production forces, without the sacrifice of the best cadres of the working class which, instead of following the slogan “All for the fastest socialist transformation of the country”, must execute the slogan “All for, the victory on the civil war front”.
When V. I. Lenin evaluated the reasons for the imperialist intervention in the Great Socialist October Revolution and its consequences he pointed to the following fact:
“The West European capitalist powers did everything possible, partly on purpose, partly spontaneously, to throw us back and to use the civil war in Russia for the greatest possible devastation of the country. It was just this outcome of the imperialist war which had for them considerable advantages: if the revolutionary order in Russia could not be extirpated then at least the progress toward socialism could be retarded. This was the way in which these powers were thinking, and from their point of view they could hardly have thought differently. In actual fact they reached the aim half way. They did not destroy the new order brought about by the revolution but they did prevent it from making such progress that would confirm the correctness of socialist predictions enabling the socialists to expand production forces rapidly and to develop all those possibilities which form the basis of socialism, to prove to the whole world clearly what enormous forces are hidden in socialism, and that humanity was now entering a, new stage of development with extraordinary and splendid opportunities.” (V. I. Lenin’s Works, vol. 23.CS edition 1955, p. 498.)
The Czechoslovak example is evidence that an apparently slower progress of socialist revolution (by gradual transition of national and democratic revolution into a socialist revolution) was actually the faster way because the two-in-one task of the socialist revolution began to be fulfilled simultaneously. While fast removal of the consequences of war, efforts to renew quickly production forces, economic progress of the country, a new working discipline, advance of education and culture, were at first aimed at the total political defeat of the bourgeoisie, in their consequence all these efforts created simultaneously the main conditions of a faster and definite securing of power in the hands of the working class. In February, 1948 , i.e. at the time when the working class had already achieved all political power and when the people’s democracy was realised as a state of the dictatorship of the proletariat,
(a) the state apparatus was already in existence in principle
and the working class could use it in its fight for socialism;
(b) the first important successes had already been achieved in creating a new working discipline and a new relationship to work;
(c) the working masses had already gained experience in state, organisational and educational work;
(d) new forms of organisation of working people were in existence, as required for leading the broad popular masses in socialist building; these new forms represented an important part of the system of the dictatorship of the proletariat following a complete assumption of power by the working class;
(e) the economy of the country, disrupted by the war, was already rehabilitated in principle.
All this is created and achieved by the proletariat only after its victory if violent attainment of socialism through civil war must be chosen. This is a truly convincing evidence that a “cult of violence” is absolutely inacceptable for Marxist-Leninist parties because it is in conflict with their fundamental needs and aims. The confirmation of this principle by the actual course of our revolution has greatly enhanced the attraction of socialism.
In appraising our experiences and our contribution to the international workers’ movement this must not be forgotten. The possibility of the peaceful progress of socialist revolution making revolutionary use of Parliament, as pointed our by the 20th congress of the Soviet CP, is a product of new class conditions created by far-reaching objective and subjective changes in the world. It is a product of class consequences resulting from the existence of the world socialist system and its political, economic and ideological strength. People’s democratic Czechoslovakia, as one of the most highly industrialised states in the world, is a very important part of this system. The fast industrial expansion and the growing standard of living in people’s democratic Czechoslovakia take a direct part, through their consequences, in the changes in objective and subjective processes in the world, processes weakening capitalism and strengthening socialism. They take an active part in the creation of conditions in which the possibility of the peaceful progress of socialist revolution exists and in which it can be materialised. The working people of Czechoslovakia, like the working masses in all countries of the world socialist system, has the great luck that its building and its systematic raising of the living standard form, at the same time, the concrete purpose of its proletarian internationalism. Through its success it prepares the ground for the Communist Parties, for the workers’ classes and for the broad masses in the capitalist countries and countries dependent upon them for a peaceful transition to socialism with the help of Parliament. (The example of Hungary demonstrates how every success, and every failure, exerts a direct and deep influence on the formation of the fundamental force for this transition – on the formation of broad united popular front on the winning over of new allies or the working class.)
Such is and must be our contribution, an unusually valuable and instructive contribution, to the international workers’ movement, contribution to the creation of conditions favourable for an accelerated march of the world proletarian revolution.