by Hilary Minc
Member of the Political Bureau of the Polish United Workers Party
Reprinted from the Bulletin of the International Affairs Department of the Polish United Workers Party, February-March 1950
The theory of the dictatorship of the proletariat is the fundamental and central part of the science of Marxism-Leninism. Marx and Engels created the theory of the dictatorship of the proletariat, established theoretically the necessity of smashing the bourgeois state machine and showed that, as a result of the proletarian revolution, the proper content of the period of transition from capitalism to Communism can only be the dictatorship of the proletariat.
Lenin fought mercilessly against revisionist and centrist attempts to distort and efface the Marxian theory of the State, the proletarian revolution and the dictatorship of the proletariat.
“The fundamental thing in Leninism is the problem of the dictatorship of the proletariat, the elaboration of this problem, the substantiation and concretisation of this problem,” wrote Comrade Stalin. (Stalin, “On the Problems of Leninism”, Section 2, Problems of Leninism. English Edition, Moscow, 1947, p. 126.)
As Comrade Stalin indicated, the new elements which Lenin introduced into the teachings on the dictatorship of the proletariat consist in the fact that he:
(a) discovered the Soviet form of government as the state form of the dictatorship of the proletariat;
(b) developed the formula of the dictatorship of the proletariat, defining it as a special form of the class alliance of the proletariat and peasantry, with the proletariat playing the leading role in this alliance;
(c) elaborated the problem of the dictatorship of the proletariat as the highest form of democracy in class society, expressing the interest of the majority (the exploited as against bourgeois democracy which expresses the interest of the minority (the exploiters).
(See Stalin, “Interview given to the first American Labour Delegation”, Essentials of Leninism, 2 volumes. English Edition, Moscow, 1947, vol. I, p. 40.)
Comrade Stalin, the co-creator and continuator of Lenin’s work, creatively developed further the Marxist-Leninist teachings on the State and the dictatorship of the proletariat, victoriously directed and directs its realisation.
Just as Lenin, in the struggle against the revisionists and the centrists, safeguarded the Marxian theory of the State and the dictatorship of the proletariat from distortion and effacement and raised this theory to a new, higher level by generalising upon the historical experience of the epoch of imperialism and proletarian revolutions, so Stalin, in the struggle against the Trotskyites and the right-wing deviationists, safeguarded Leninism from distortion and effacement, and generalising upon the historical experience of the period of the general crisis of capitalism and upon socialist construction, developed the Marxist-Leninist theory of the dictatorship of the proletariat, thus developing the science of Marxism-Leninism creatively and universally. On the basis of Stalin’s teachings and under his leadership, the Soviet Socialist State developed into a mighty and invincible power, the building of Socialism in the U.S.S.R. was completed, and in the U.S.S.R. the period of a gradual transition towards Communism was commenced.
On the basis of Stalin’s teachings and under his leadership the mighty, invincible Soviet Socialist State smashed Hitlerite Germany. As a result of this victory, the world front of capitalism was broken in a number of new places and Stalin’s brilliant prophecy, made in 1934, was completely fulfilled:
“And let not Messieurs the bourgeoisie blame us if some of the governments so near and dear to them, which today rule happily ‘by the grace of God’ are missing on the morrow after such a war.” (Stalin, “Report to the Seventeenth Congress C.P.S.U.(B.)”, Problems of Leninism, p. 464.)
On the ruins of these governments “by the grace of God” the States of People’s Democracy have arisen.
The class nature of these States is the realisation of the dictatorship of the proletariat through the hegemony of the proletariat; their aim is the building of Socialism in their countries.
The States of People’s Democracy which arose as a result of the victory of the U.S.S.R. over Hitlerism, develop on the basis of the experience of the dictatorship of the proletariat and socialist construction in the U.S.S.R., of the theoretical generalisation of this experience given by Comrade Stalin and of the invaluable direct indications and advice of the C.P.S.U.(B.) and Comrade Stalin personally.
“All nations”, wrote Lenin, “will come to Socialism – this is inevitable, but they will not all reach it in the same way, every one will contribute its specific nature in one or another form of democracy, in one or another variant of the dictatorship of the proletariat, in one or another tempo in the socialist transformation of the various aspects of social life.” (Lenin, A Caricature of Marxism, Collected Works, Forth Russian Edition, vol. XXIII, p. 58.)
The Communist and Workers’ Parties in the People’s Democracies, basing themselves on Stalin’s teachings, his indications and advice, have understood the particular traits of the international situation and the specific internal situation of their countries in the period after the Second World War, and on this basis they have determined their specific way of exercising the function of the dictatorship of the proletariat, forging a variant of it, People’s Democracy, and in this way they marked out the best and most advantageous road towards Socialism in their countries in the given historical conditions.
On the other hand, the science of Marxism-Leninism developed by Stalin was a weapon with the aid of which the Communist and Workers’ Parties in the People’s Democracies grasped the fact that the road of their countries towards Socialism is the result of the victorious path of the U.S.S.R., that their type of State is a variant of the dictatorship of the proletariat and that, as Lenin wrote:
“The transition from capitalism to communism will certainly create a great variety and abundance of politica1 forms, but their essence will inevitably be the same: the dictatorship of the proletariat:” (Lenin, The State and Revolution: Essentials of Leninism, vol. II, p. 164; L.L.L. No. 14; L.S.W. vol. 7.)
On the basis of this understanding, the right-wing and nationalist deviation which sought to present the road of People’s Democracy as a “third” road between Socialism and capitalism and to oppose the road of People’s Democracy to the Soviet road was overcome and smashed.
Therefore, the arising and successful development of the People’s Democratic States is not only yet one more proof of the correctness of the Marxist-Leninist teachings on the State and the dictatorship of the proletariat developed by Stalin, it is the further development of this theory under new historical conditions, a development which took place on the basis of Stalin’s teachings and under the direct ideological influence of the C.P.S.U.(B.) and Comrade Stalin personally.
In the science of Marxism-Leninism the concept of the dictatorship of the proletariat is inseparably linked with the concept of the proletarian revolution. The dictatorship of the proletariat is the instrument and principal content of the proletarian revolution.
“The question of the proletarian dictatorship”, Comrade Stalin wrote, “is above all a question of the main content of the proletarian revolution. The proletarian revolution, its movement, its scope and its achievements, acquire flesh and blood only through the dictatorship of the proletariat. The dictatorship of the proletariat is the instrument of the proletarian revolution, its organ, its most important mainstay....” (Stalin, “Foundations of Leninism”, Section 4, Problems of Leninism, English Edition, Moscow, 1947, p. 39; L.S.L. No. 1.)
The tremendous social upheaval which took place after the war in the countries of Southern and South-Eastern Europe, an upheaval which resulted in the consolidation in these countries of the dictatorship of the proletariat in the form of the People’s Democratic State, had the character of a proletarian revolution, of a socialist revolution. It was, however, a socialist revolution which was achieved in special historical conditions, differing from those in which the Great October Socialist Revolution occurred.
What did the difference of these conditions consist of?
1. The People’s Democracies were liberated by the Soviet Army. The coming of the Soviet Army made possible the growing of the national liberation struggle conducted by partisan forces into a national liberation war conducted in state form at the side of the Soviet Union by the entire nation and its regular army which arose with Soviet aid. The working class which led the struggle against the occupiers, now gained extensive possibilities of seizing political power and carrying out a broad struggle for the abolition of the rule of the capitalists and landowners.
“The working masses, the working class, and its political organisation had a class ally in the Soviet Army, an ally who liberated the nation from the yoke of Hitlerite slavery, an ally who by his very presence rendered powerless the camp of reaction and made it incapable of dealing by force of arms with the revolutionary government, an ally who guaranteed that the imperialist powers would not decide the fate of a given country against the interests of the people.” (Boleslaw Bierut: Speech delivered at the Unification Congress of the Polish Workers’ Party and the Polish Socialist Party on December 15, 1948.)
It is a historical fact that in the countries which were occupied by the imperialist Anglo-American armies, as for example France or Italy, the working class, in spite of the great scope of the national liberation struggle and the tremendous role and influence of the Communist Party in the struggle, was unable to seize power and these countries, under the influence of brutal imperialist force, were unable to depart from the road of capitalism.
In this way, in contradistinction from the Soviet Union, where the socialist proletarian revolution was carried out without any external aid and exclusively with internal forces, the socialist revolution in the People’s Democracies was based in its sources on the aid and power of the Soviet Union and its Army.
2. The revolutionary struggle of the masses under the leadership of the working class and its Communist and Workers Parties against the landowners and the capitalists was intertwined in this upheaval with the national liberation war against the Hitlerite occupiers.
Rosa Luxemburg in her time, when formulating erroneous conceptions of the national question, which later were to be a burden upon the ideology of the Communist Party of Poland, advanced a thesis in her polemics with Lenin to the effect that “there can be no more national wars”, understanding by this, that the epoch of national wars was past, due to the consolidation of imperialism and the imperialist division of the world between the great powers.
In answer to Rosa Luxemburg, Lenin in 1916 wrote the following on this question:
“One cannot maintain that such a transformation (of the imperialist war into a national one – H.M.) is impossible; if the proletariat of Europe were to prove itself impotent for some twenty years; if the given war (the imperialist war of 1914 – H.M.) were to end in victories like the Napoleonic ones and in the subjugation of a number of national States capable of existence; if some extra-European imperialism (above all Japanese and American) were to maintain itself also for some twenty years, without passing into Socialism – for example as a result of a Japanese-American war, then a great national war in Europe would be possible.” (Lenin, Collected Works, Fourth Russian Edition, vol. XXII, p. 296.)
This brilliant hypothesis of Lenin’s was fully confirmed. During the Second World War, Europe was the arena of a great liberation struggle of a number of nations against the Hitlerite yoke. This struggle was closely connected with the great war of the Soviet nation in the defence of its homeland. The guiding force of the struggle against the German occupiers was the working class and its Communist and Workers’ Parties. The working class and its Communist parties closely linked the national liberation struggle with the struggle against the Capitalists and landowners, discredited by capitulation to Hitlerite Germany or collaboration with it – and with the struggle for the overthrow of the rule of the capitalists and landowners.
In this way, at the sources of the socialist revolution in the People’s Democracies lies the intertwining, already during the period of the occupation, of the national liberation struggle with the revolutionary struggle against the capitalists and landowners.
Herein lies the second trait which differentiates the socialist revolution in the People’s Democracies from the October Revolution.
3. In the People’s Democracies the formation of the People’s Democratic State as the organ of the dictatorship of the proletariat took place as a long-term process. The bourgeoisie and the landowners as well as their political organisations were not smashed by a frontal attack of the working masses.
The political arena was not completely cleared. In the existing political system many organisations were active which not only vacillated in relation to the great tasks of the socialist revolution, but were thoroughly hostile toward them and aimed at the restoration of capitalism.
The concrete setting of internal and international circumstances often called for an at least partial sharing of the government, on the part of the Communist and Workers Parties, not only with their wavering allies but also with thoroughly bourgeois parties. Hence, the apparatus of bourgeois power was not broken fully or in all its sectors – and hence, the relatively slow tempo of great social transformations, etc. In the process of a long and stubborn class struggle, the discrediting and shattering of hostile political organisations, the overcoming of the vacillations of political allies, the forging – through the united front – of the organic unity of the working class; in the process of extending the foundations of a new system among the masses of the nation, the activisation of these masses in the ever growing conviction that the new system is their system; in the process of fortifying the apparatus of the new state power and purging it from bourgeois trash, deepening the social transformations, extending the front of the class struggle and directing the fire of this struggle not only against the large capitalists and landowners but also against the village rich; in the process of a long series of difficult but victorious class battles – the new States of People’s Democracy fulfil the functions of the dictatorship of the proletariat in an ever greater scope and with ever greater effectiveness.
It is clear that boundaries in nature and society are “conventional” and “movable” as Lenin said. The process of the crystallisation of the dictatorship of the proletariat in the People’s Democracies occurred differently in various countries. The point of departure in respect to the composition of forces, the achieved degree of breaking the old apparatus, etc., also differed in these countries. In view of the long duration, complicated nature and difficulties of this process, it is clear and understandable why the formulation of the People’s Democracy as fulfilling effectively the functions of the dictatorship of the proletariat – a formulation which called for the theoretical generalisation of the experiences of People’s Democracy – was given by Comrades Dimitrov and Bierut at the end of 1948.
Thus, in contradistinction from the Soviet Union, where the dictatorship of the proletariat was fixed in the form of Soviet power from the first days of the socialist revolution, the crystallisation of the dictatorship of the proletariat in the People’s Democracies took place as a long-lasting and difficult process.
Herein lies the third trait which differentiates the socialist revolution in the People’s Democracies from the October Revolution.
Regardless of the divergence of the social upheaval in the People’s Democracies from the October Revolution, this upheaval accomplished the same historical tasks.
Political power was snatched from the hands of the bourgeoisie and passed into the hands of the working class and the working peasantry. Large and medium industry, banks and transport became the property of the State and the landowners were expropriated. The People’s Democracies left the capitalist world and ceased to be subject to capitalism’s laws of development, which gave them the possibility of entering on the road of Socialism.
Thus, both in respect to the fulfilled historical tasks and in respect to the driving class forces, the socialist upheaval accomplished in the People’s Democracies is the same type as the October Revolution, and possesses all the traits of the proletarian socialist revolution.
The fact that the social upheaval in the People’s Democracies decided and solved a number of the tasks of the bourgeois democratic revolution (for example – the liquidation of feudal survivals in agriculture) does not in any case change its character as a socialist revolution, for the Great October Socialist Revolution also resolved “in passing” a number of tasks of this type.
There is no doubt that the point of departure for the formation of right wing and nationalist deviations in the Communist and Workers’ Parties is precisely the denial of the fact that the great social upheaval that has been accomplished in the People’s Democracies has the character of a socialist revolution. ‘The right-wing and nationalist deviationists do not wish to see the fundamental, revolutionary, socialist content of this upheaval – they bring to the forefront only the fact that the upheaval was closely connected with the war of national liberation. This is the source of opportunism in the treatment of the question of the national front. Comrade Bierut, in unmasking the opportunist, right-wing and nationalist stand of Comrade Gomulka, characterised this opportunism as follows:
“What does opportunism in the question of the national front consist of? In the fact that it loses sight of the hegemony of the working class. Herein lay the error, the actual stand of opportunism.
“Similarly to all the revolutionary parties in the whole world, we have never put forth the slogan of the national front as anything else but a front in which the working class and the workers’ party is the guide, leader and chief. Any other way of comprehending the national front must be opportunist. This opportunism lay in the stand of a certain number of the comrades who later erred in a. right-wing, opportunist and nationalist deviation on a number of other sectors of work. In their position the false approach to the national front was that trait which led them to errors.” (Boleslaw Bierut: Concluding speech at the Third Plenum of the Central Committee of the Polish United Workers’ Party, November 13, 1949.)
The negating of the hegemony of the proletariat and of its socialist aims in the national front is closely connected in the stand of the right-wing and nationalist deviationists with a narrowing of the tasks of the working class solely to the tasks of the war of liberation, of the bourgeois democratic revolution – it is closely connected with the negation of the fact that the upheaval which took place in the People’s Democracies is of the same class type as the Great October Socialist Revolution.
It is connected with the counterposing of the road of the People’s Democracies to the Soviet road, with acting against the deepening of the upheaval, the extension of the front of class struggle to embrace the kulaks, and the decisive entry upon the road of socialist construction in town and country. Finally, it is connected with the creation of radically false theories which regard the system of People’s Democracy as a third, intermediary road between the capitalist and the Soviet roads.
The People’s Democratic States which arose as a result of a socialist revolution, and have crystallised into an instrument of the dictatorship of the proletariat in the span of a long and difficult process, are States which set for themselves the task of building a classless socialist society.
Therefore, although capitalist elements are still strong in many fields of the economy of these countries and the small-production economy which is still dominant in the villages is the foundation for the formation of these elements; although elements of the old bourgeois apparatus still rest in many of the sectors of the state apparatus of these States and the terrain has not yet been completely cleared of the remnants of the broken bourgeois State apparatus and the remnants of broken bourgeois political formations – the People’s Democracy States are States of a socialist type.
Lenin wrote in 1918 as follows:
“There has been no one as yet, who, if he asked himself a question regarding Russia’s economy, would deny that this economy is of a transitory nature. No Communist would deny, it seems, also the fact that the expression – Socialist Soviet Republic – signifies that the Soviet Power is determined to carry out the transition to Socialism, and that it does not in the least signify a recognition of the new economic order as a Socialist order.” (Lenin, Collected Works, Third Russian Edition, vol. XXII, p. 513.).
At the Third All-Union Congress of Soviets, Lenin said:
“We have never erred in this matter and we know how difficult is the road leading from capitalism to Socialism – but we are bound to state that our Soviet Republic is socialist because we have entered this road and these words will not be empty words.” (Lenin, Collected Works, Third Russian Edition, vol. XXII, p. 213.)
These words of Lenin can be applied in full to the People’s Democratic States. These are States in which Socialism has not yet conquered ultimately, but in spite of this, these are States which have set for themselves the decided task of building a socialist society and the successful course of this construction indicates in full that this decision is not based on empty words. Thus, they are Socialist States, in their class nature of the same type as the Soviet State in that phase of its development when antagonistic social classes still existed in it. Thus, they are States of Socialism under construction, as was the U.S.S.R. in its first phase of development (before it became the State of victorious Socialism).
In the Socialist States of People’s Democracy, derived from a socialist revolution, the dictatorship of the proletariat is exercised, as a result of different historical conditions, in a different form than the Soviet form.
“At the foundations of our difference from the Soviet road”, Comrade Bierut stated, “lies the all-sided aid of the Soviet Union and the help of the experiences and achievements of the victorious dictatorship of the proletariat in the U.S.S.R.” (B. Bierut, The Ideological Foundation of the Polish United Workers’ Party.)
Regardless of this difference, the People’s Democratic form of dictatorship of the proletariat fulfils the same functions as the Soviet State in the first phase of its development. These functions include, primarily, the forcible suppression of the resistance of the overthrown classes of exploiters within the country. This suppression of the exploiters’ resistance takes place in our country often in different forms than in the Soviet Union during the first phase of its development. As is known, the bourgeoisie and other classes of exploiters were at that time deprived of the right to participate in the elections to the Soviets, which is not the case in the People’s Democracies where the universal right to vote exists. Lenin did not consider the limitation of the electoral rights of the bourgeoisie as an indispensable condition of the dictatorship of the proletariat. On the contrary, Lenin considered that these limitations arose in the setting of the specific conditions of the Russian Revolution and wrote that this limitation:
“... is not absolutely necessary for the exercise of the dictatorship. It is not an essential earmark of the logical concept ‘dictatorship’, it does not enter as an essential condition into the historical and class concept ‘dictatorship’.
“The necessary earmark, the essential condition of dictatorship, is the forcible suppression of the exploiters as a class.” (Lenin, The Proletarian Revolution and the Renegade Kautsky, Essentials of Leninism, vol. II. p. 380; L.L.L. No. 18; L.S.W. vol. 7.)
In his article “Lenin and Stalin on the state form of the dictatorship of the proletariat”, D.I Chesnokov correctly writes:
“On the one hand, the peculiarities of the country’s internal development, the relation of class forces and tension of class conflicts – on the other hand, the specific nature of the international situation, determine the form, methods and scale of the force employed by the proletariat against the exploiters. For the working class, force is not the goal, but solely the means for suppressing the resistance of the bourgeoisie and consolidating the workers’ State. The ‘degree’ of force is determined mainly by the ‘degree’ of the bourgeoisie’s resistance and its ‘fury’ in the struggle with the proletariat and the working classes in general.” (Problems of Philosophy, November 3, 1948.)
Historical conditions have caused the dictatorship of the proletariat to be realised in the People’s Democracies in a different form than the Soviet. This form is the most advantageous, best and most adapted to the conditions of these countries and is for them the most suitable road for the transition to Socialism.
One must be, however, fully aware of the fact that this most advantageous, in given historical conditions, form has also a number of negative aspects and dangers connected with them. The dictatorship of the proletariat in the Soviet form arose as a result of the frontal attack of the working masses led by the working class on the exploiters’ class and its state apparatus. It swept away and shattered rapidly and radically the machine of the bourgeois State, bourgeois political formations, bourgeois norms and legal regulations, the privileged positions of the church hierarchy, etc., etc.
In his work, The Foundations of Leninism, Comrade Stalin particu1arly emphasises Lenin’s statement in which Lenin affirms that:
“The Soviet organisation of the State alone is capable of immediately and effectively smashing and finally destroying the old, i.e., the bourgeois, bureaucratic and judicial apparatus.” (My italics – H.M.) (Stalin, “Foundations of Leninism”, Section 4, Problems of Leninism, p. 48; L.S.L. No. 1.)
It is clear that the People’s Democratic form of the dictatorship of the proletariat, due to the circumstances of its development and formation, cannot accomplish “immediately” and “finally” these tasks of clearing the terrain for socialist construction with the same sweep and consistency.
Therefore, even at present, after years of a long and difficult process of the crystallisation of the People’s Democratic State as a variant of the dictatorship of the proletariat which retains the fundamental levers of power – the People’s Democracies still trail behind themselves long “tails”, made up of obsolete institutions and norms of the past period – and at times, even of particular elements of the old bourgeois state apparatus which have not been subjected to revolutionary transformation. This hampers the development of socialist construction and creates certain dangers, for, in definite circumstances, the “tails” from the preceding period become advantageous points of .entrenchment for the class enemy.
Historical development has shown, in accord with the science of Marxism Leninism, that the existence of two forms of the dictatorship of the proletariat, the Soviet and People’s Democratic forms, is possible.
The: People’s Democratic form has proved itself, in the special historica1 conditions which arose in a number of countries after the Second World War, to be vital and effective.
It is a fact that a new chapter, rich in content, on the People’s Democracy has been contributed to the Marxist-Leninist teachings on the State, the socialist revolution and the dictatorship of the proletariat. It is a. fact that this new chapter has been contributed on the basis of Stalin’s teachings and under his direct ideological influence and leadership.
In developing the Leninist theory of the dictatorship of the proletariat, Comrade Stalin elaborated in detail the problem of the system of functioning of the dictatorship of the proletariat, the problem of its “mechanism”, i.e., the problem of the Bolshevik Party as the leading force of the Soviet State and the “transmission” of the Party to the masses: the trade unions, Soviets, co-operatives, Young Communist League, etc.
“The party is the organised detachment of the working class but the Party is not the only organisation of the working class. The proletariat has also a number of other organisations, without which it cannot properly wage the struggle against capital: trade unions, co-operative societies, factory and works organisations, parliamentary groups, non-Party women’s associations, the Press, cultural and educational organisations, youth leagues, revolutionary fighting organisations (in times of open revolutionary action), Soviets of deputies as the form of state organisation (if the proletariat is in power), etc. The overwhelming majority of these organisations are non-Party, and only a certain part of them adhere directly to the Party, or represent its offshoots.” (Stalin, “Foundations of Leninism”, Section 8, Problems of Leninism, p. 86; L.S.L. No. 1.)
And further on Comrade Stalin writes:
“... all these organisations should work in one direction for they serve one class, the class of the proletarians. The question then arises; who is to determine the line, the general direction, along which the work of all these organisations is to be conducted? Where is that central organisation which is not only able, because it has the necessary experience, to work out such a general line, but, in addition, is in a position because it has sufficient prestige for that, to induce all these organisations to carry out this line, so as to attain unity of leadership and to preclude the possibility of working at cross purposes?” (ibid, p. 86.)
Such an organisation is the Party of the proletariat.
Does this “mechanism” of the dictatorship of the proletariat function, and in what fashion, in the conditions of its People’s Democratic form?
It is clear that it functions fully, for without this mechanism, whose core is the leading role of the workers’ party, there is no, and can be no, dictatorship of the proletariat.
In the People’s Democracies the Communist and Workers’ Parties were “an instrument in the hands of the proletariat for the conquest of the dictatorship” (Stalin), they elaborated the general line which led to the conquest of this dictatorship, and now, when the dictatorship of the proletariat is already achieved, they are the instrument “for the strengthening and extension of the dictatorship” (Stalin).
The Communist and Workers’ Parties elaborate the general line, which aims at the most rapid and effective building of Socialism, and, having sufficient authority, they stimulate to action on this line the central and local government organs, the trade unions, youth organisations, the co-operative movement, press, etc.
Without this leading role of the Party as the highest form of the class union of proletarians, without the coherence and discipline of the Party and without the confidence in it of the broad masses, the dictatorship of the proletariat not only would not be able to strengthen and extend itself, in order to lead to the complete victory of Socialism, but it would not be able even to maintain itself.
In 1920 Lenin wrote:
“Certainly, almost everyone now realises that the Bolsheviks could not have maintained themselves in power for two and a half months, let alone two and a half years, unless the strictest, truly iron discipline had prevailed in our Party, and unless the latter had been rendered the fullest and unreserved support of the whole mass of the working class, that is, of all its thinking, honest, self-sacrificing and influential elements who are capable of leading or of carrying with them the backward strata.” (Lenin, Left-wing Communism; L.S.W., vol. 10; Essentials of Lenin, vol. 2, p. 573: L.L.L. No. 16.)
These words of Lenin can be applied in full to the historic role which the Communist Parties played in the achievement and maintenance of the dictatorship of the proletariat, and play in .its extension and strengthening.
Although there is a complete, fundamental harmony in the functioning of the mechanism of the dictatorship of the proletariat, based on the leading role of the Party, in both the Soviet and People’s Democratic form of dictatorship, a certain specific nature does exist, however, at the present stage of development of the People’s Democratic form. This specific nature lies in the existence of not only one single party, the party of the proletariat, but also of other political organisations and parties, which function mainly in the field of the peasant and petty bourgeois strata.
It must, however, be stated distinctly that these parties do not possess any more the character of political organisations representing the interests of “antagonistic classes whose interests are hostile ‘and cannot be reconciled” (Stalin).
A number of these political organisations and parties are derived historically from the era of the bourgeois State. In the period after the Second World War, when the socialist revolution was developing in the People’s Democracies and an arduous struggle was being waged for the consolidation .and crystallisation of the dictatorship of the proletariat, some of these parties were the more or less wavering allies of the Communist and Workers’ Parties while some of them held openly hostile positions in relation to them.
However, in the process of the great class battles which took place in the People’s Democracies – in the process of smashing and liquidating the hostile bourgeois-landowner political formations, in the process of detaching the toiling and exploited masses from the bourgeoisie, the overcoming of the vacillations of the masses of middle peasants and the fortifying of the worker-peasant alliance as the basis of the dictatorship of the proletariat – these parties changed their class nature. In this period a thorough revision of their ideology, a thorough cleansing of their leadership and apparatus took place. At present these parties recognise the general political line, worked out by the Communist and Workers’ Parties, which aims at the building of Socialism, as binding for them and corresponding to the interest of the social strata amongst which they function. These parties develop their practical activity along this line. These parties recognise also, both in theory and in practice, the leading role of the Communist and Workers’ Parties.
In these circumstances the class nature of these parties and their function must be, and is, fundamentally different from the class nature and function of parties of the bourgeois State. In the present stage of development of the People’s Democracies these parties are fulfilling in reality the function of special ally formations, a special bridge for the leading detachment of the working class to a part of the working masses, especially to the peasants. Hence entrance of the representatives of these parties into the government does not in any case endow the governments in the People’s Democracies with the character of coalition governments in the bourgeois meaning of the word, does not deprive them of coherence and compactness, does not infringe in principle their unity of action and does not undermine the stability and durability of the people’s power.
It should not be forgotten, however, that the existence of these parties, while historically justified, necessary and purposeful in the present stage of development of People’s Democracy, can, in certain circumstances, be connected with definite dangers, derived from the fact that the class enemy attempts to entrench himself in some of the sectors of these parties.
There is no doubt that the further development of People’s Democracy will consolidate, deepen and extend the leading role of the Communist and Workers’ Parties in the entirety of the country’s political life in forms that correspond for each country and each period.
In any case it is clear that the prediction formulated by Comrade Dimitrov in 1948 to the effect that progressive social development “does not lead to a multitude of parties and small groups” has been already confirmed by the uniting of particular parties, which has taken place in some of the People’s Democracies.
In developing the theory of Marxism-Leninism, Comrade Stalin made a. great, new contribution to the teachings on the Party of the proletariat. For the Communist and Workers’ Parties of the People’s Democracies, that part of the Leninist-Stalinist teachings which deals with the problem of the Party as the vanguard of the working class is especially timely.
Here is what Comrade Stalin writes on this problem:
“But in order that it may really be the vanguard, the Party must be armed with revolutionary theory, with a knowledge of the laws of the movement, with a knowledge of the laws of the revolution. Without this it will be incapable of directing the struggle of the proletariat, of leading the proletariat. The Party cannot be a real Party if it limits itself to registering what the masses of the working class feel and think, if it drags at the tail of the spontaneous movement, if it is unable to overcome the inertness and political indifference of the spontaneous movement, if it is unable to rise above the momentary interests of the proletariat, if it is unable to elevate the masses to the level of the class interests of the proletariat. The Party must stand at the head of the working class; it must see farther than the working class; it must lead the proletariat, and not follow in the tail of the spontaneous movement.” (Stalin, “Foundations of Leninism”, Problems of Leninism, p. 81, 82; L.S.L. No. 1.)
Without the Party as the vanguard of the working class, without the Party as the “political leader of the working class” (Stalin), there is, and can be, no dictatorship of the proletariat capable of consolidating, developing and strengthening itself.
It is understandable, therefore, that the traitors and spies of the Tito clique, preparing since long ago a counter-revolutionary coup in Yugoslavia at the behest of American imperialism, recognised as the fundamental element of their traitorous work the deprivation of the Communist Party of its role as the vanguard of the working class by detaching it from the working class and dissolving it in the so-called National Front.
It is also not a matter of accident that the bearers of the right-wing and nationalist deviation, led by Comrade Gomulka, wanted to deprive our party of the role of the vanguard of the working class by detaching it from revolutionary traditions, by uniting with the Polish Socialist Party without first shattering the right wing of the P.S.P., and not on the platform of Marxism-Leninism.
The Communist and Workers’ Parties in the People’s Democracies, due to the specific conditions in which they arose and developed, do not as yet possess in full the traits of a Bolshevik Party, although they fulfil in principle the functions of the leading detachment of the working class.
Hence the immense and intensive organisational work that is being carried out at present by the Communist and Workers’ Parties of the People’s Democracies, in order to make up for the delay, in order to assimilate in full Bolshevik methods of organisational work, in order to purge themselves of hostile and foreign elements, to prevent the effacement of the line between the Party and the class – and in order to perform the function of the political leader of the working class, completely, universally and in a Bolshevik manner.
In developing the Leninist teaching on the Party, Comrade Stalin formulated as a law of the development of the Party the strengthening of the Party by the purging of opportunist elements.
“Our Party”, Comrade Stalin writes, “succeeded in creating internal unity and unexampled cohesion of its ranks primarily because it was able in good time to purge itself of the opportunist pollution, because it was able to rid its ranks of the liquidators, the Mensheviks.” (ibid, p. 91).
During the period when the direct task facing the People’s Democracies was only the struggle for the consolidation of regained Statehood and the reconstruction of national economy, the opportunist elements in the parties did not as yet reveal themselves fully.
When, however, a new stage of development began, when the building of the foundations of Socialism and the sharp struggle against the capitalist elements in town and country became a direct task, in the period which coincided with an ever more acute division of the world into the camp of imperialism and the camp of peace, in this period the opportunist elements in the parties revealed their features and sought to turn the parties from their proper road.
We know from our own experience that the routing of the right-wing and nationalist deviation in our party fortified it, and armed it for the accomplishment of the tasks of the leading detachment of the working class, the directing force of the dictatorship of the proletariat, carrying out the, transition to Socialism.
Basing itself on Stalin’s teachings and his ideological influence, the dictatorship of the proletariat in the People’s Democracies develops and strengthens itself – the Communist and Workers’ Parties directing it – and develops on the road of Bolshevik theory and practice.
The experience of the State and Party building in these countries is a further splendid confirmation and development of the Leninist-Stalinist teachings on the “mechanism” of the functioning of the dictatorship of the proletariat and on the guiding role of the Party as the vanguard of the working class.
In 1939, at the Eighteenth Congress of the C.P.S.U.(B.), Comrade Stalin presented a profound, thorough analysis of the development of the Soviet Socialist State and determined two phases of this development: the first the period from the October Revolution to the liquidation of the exploiting classes, and the second the period from the liquidation of the capitalist elements of town and country to the complete victory of the Socialist system of economy and the enactment of the new Constitution.
The principal task in the first place, Comrade Stalin writes:
“Was to suppress the resistance of the overthrown classes, to organize the defence of the country against the attack of the interventionists, to restore industry and agriculture and to prepare the conditions for the elimination of the capitalist elements. Accordingly, in this period our State performed two main functions.”
And further on, characterising these two main functions, Comrade Stalin writes:
“The first function was to suppress the overthrown classes inside the country.
“The second function was to defend the country from foreign attack.
“Our State had yet a third function: this was the work of economic organisation and cultural education performed by our State bodies with the purpose of developing the infant shoots of the new, socialist economic system and re-educating the people in the spirit of Socialism. But this new function did not attain to any considerable development in that period.” (My italics – H.M.) (Stalin, Problems of Leninism, pp. 636-637.)
In regard to the second phase, the principal task of this period, as Comrade Stalin stated, lay in the organisation of the socialist economy, corresponding to which the functions of the Socialist State also changed.
The function of suppressing resistance inside the country fell and died away. In its place arose the function of safeguarding of the socialist property. The function of armed defence of the country from external attack was completely preserved and, as Comrade Stalin writes:
“The function of economic organisation and cultural education by the state organs also remained, and was developed to the full. Now the main task of our State inside the country is the work of peaceful economic organisation and cultural education. .As for our army, punitive organs and intelligence service, their edge is no longer turned to the inside of the country but to the outside, against the external enemies.
“As you see, we now have an entirely new, Socialist State, without precedent in history and differing considerably in form and functions from the Socialist State of the first phase.” (ibid, p. 633.)
In the light of Comrade Stalin’s analysis of the development of the Socialist State and the determined two phases of its development, it should be clear that the People’s Democracies are in the first phase, in the period when the main task is the breaking of the resistance of the overthrown classes and the preparation of conditions for the liquidation of the capitalist classes. However, in new historical conditions, this first phase of development of the Socialist State takes a somewhat different course in the People’s Democracies than took place in the U.S.S.R.
Wherein does this difference chiefly rest?
It rests in the fact that, due to basing themselves on the U.S.S.R., the People’s Democracies were able to approach relatively faster the realisation of the economic-organisational and cultural-educational functions of the Socialist State. This was caused by the following circumstances:
1. Due to the support of the might and aid of the U.S.S.R., the People’s Democracies avoided armed imperialist intervention. It is true that the overthrown classes of exploiters benefited and benefit from the close aid of the imperialists, and here and there, on the basis of this aid, attempts at armed resistance arose – as, for example, in Poland during a certain period of the activities of the bands and the underground which had even some elements of a civil war – but all these attempts of resistance cannot be compared in their destructive results with the burdens, devastations and tension of forces brought about by the armed imperialist intervention in the U.S.S.R., and the long-lasting civil war which grew on its soil. As is known, the rebuilding of the country in the U.S.S.R. was able to begin, due to the armed imperialist intervention, only four to five years after the October Revolution. In Poland, on the other hand, where the armed resistance of the overthrown classes had relatively the greatest scope and lasted the longest, it was unable to halt for an instant the work of rebuilding the country.
Therefore, in the People’s Democracies, industry and agriculture were restored already in the first phase of the development of the Socialist State and already in the first phase of development, production, especially in industry, has very considerably surpassed the pre-war level.
2. The People’s Democracies benefited from the very first instant of their formation from the all-sided aid of the Soviet Union in the form of deliveries of goods, food, commodity and investment credits, technical aid, cultural assistance, etc.
In the recent past the mutual aid of the People’s Democracies carried out on the basis of the Mutual Economic Aid Council has begun to play an ever more important role.
3. The People’s Democracies have the possibility of benefiting, and benefit, from the experiences of the Soviet Union, of marching along the path it has cleared. This saves them many vain efforts, many unsuccessful attempts and pursuits, much .national energy, labour and material costs which otherwise would be expended without the proper effect.
These are the circumstances which cause a relatively more rapid development of the economic-organisational work in the People’s Democracies than in the U.S.S.R. in the first phase of its development. This has, of course, a highly positive bearing on the whole of the development of these countries.
Having avoided, due to basing themselves on the strength and aid of the U.S.S.R., imperialist intervention, the People’s Democracies also did not have to pass through the stage of War Communism in their economy, the necessity of which in the U.S.S.R. was primarily caused precisely by the imperialist intervention.
The economy of the People’s Democracies was, and is, based up to the present on the taking over by the State of the principal economic positions (large and medium industry, the banks, transport, etc.), on the permitting within definite limits and utilisation of market relations, and on such a planned direction of economic life on the basis of the principal economic positions, as to cause the growth of the socialist sector and development in the direction of Socialism.
Comrade Stalin foresaw brilliantly already in 1928 that:
“The new economic policy with its market relations and the utilisation of the market relations is absolutely necessary for every capitalist country in the period of the dictatorship of the proletariat.” (Stalin, Collected Works, Russian Edition, vol. XI, p. 145.)
This brilliant prediction of Comrade Stalin was completely confirmed by the development of the economy of the People’s Democracies, which at present are in a period having many common practical traits and many analogies with the Soviet N.E.P. (New Economic Policy) period.
But the N.E.P. is not only the permitting on definite conditions and utilisation of market relations.
“The N.E.P.,” Comrade Stalin states, “is the Party’s policy which permits of the struggle between the socialist and capitalist elements, and is calculated to bring about the victory of the socialist elements over the capitalist elements. In actual fact N.E.P. only began as a retreat; but the calculation was that in the course of this retreat our forces would be regrouped and we would launch an offensive. As a matter of fact, we have been pursuing the offensive for several years now, and are doing so successfully, developing our industries, developing Soviet trade, and pressing hard upon private -capital.” (Stalin, “On the Problems of Leninism”, Section 7, Problems of Leninism, p. 172.)
In the People’s Democracies, where the permitting and utilisation of market relations was not a period of retreat because there had been no period of War Communism which eliminated these market conditions, the offensive against, the limitation and gradual dislodging of capitalist elements is taking place. As a result of this development the perspective of the total liquidation of capitalist elements becomes ever more clearly apparent, similarly to the plan outlined and accomplished in the U.S.S.R. under Stalin’s leadership – i.e., through the industrialisation of the country and the gradual collectivisation of agriculture. It is precisely this perspective, formulated in the resolution of the Information Bureau on the issue of the situation in the Communist Party of Yugoslavia, which caused in our Party, amongst others, the complete unmasking of the right-wing and nationalist group, led by Comrade Gomulka, and the unsuccessful attempt to turn back our Party from the road leading to the realisation of Socialism.
The right-wing and nationalist group in our Party was thoroughly routed, and the attempt to turn our Party back from its road towards the realisation of Socialism ended in infamous disaster and bankruptcy.
There is no doubt as well that our country, like all the other People’s Democracies, suppressing the resistance of the bourgeoisie, developing its defensive power on the support of the U.S.S.R., will extend ever more the economic-organisational and cultural-educational function of the Socialist State so that, as a result of the liquidation of the capitalist elements, the liquidation of antagonistic social classes and the victorious building of Socialism, this function becomes the principal and fundamental function of our Socialist State.
Comrade Stalin, in developing the theory of the State and in particular the theory of the Socialist State, has contributed a new chapter to this theory, dealing with the question of the State in the period of Communism.
This is what Comrade Stalin stated on this question in 1939 in the report to the Eighteenth Party Congress:
“We are going ahead, towards Communism. Will our State remain in the period of Communism also?
“Yes, it will, unless the capitalist encirclement is liquidated, and unless the danger of foreign military attack has disappeared. Naturally, of course, the forms of our State will again change in conformity with the change in the situation at home and abroad.
“No, it will not remain and will atrophy if the capitalist encirclement is liquidated and a Socialist encirclement takes its place.” (Stalin, Problems of Leninism, p. 637-638.)
This extension and deepening of the Marxist-Leninist teachings on the State was based on a profound elaboration of the problem of the internal and external functions of the State and on a thorough definition and determination of the consequences and dangers deriving from the existence of the capitalist encirclement.
In this same report to the Eighteenth Party Congress, which contributed a new chapter to the theory of the State, Comrade Stalin, raising an objection to those who considered that since there were no more antagonistic classes in the U.S.S.R. then the State was also unnecessary, stated:
“These questions not only betray an underestimation of the capitalist encirclement, but also an underestimation of the role and significance of the bourgeois States and their organs, which send in spies, assassins, and wreckers into our country and are waiting for a favourable moment to attack it by armed force.” (ibid, p. 632.)
And further on Comrade Stalin says:
“Is it not surprising that we learned about the espionage and conspiratorial activities of the Trotskyite and Bukharinite leaders only quite recently, in 1937 and 1938, although, as the evidence shows, these gentry were in the service of foreign espionage organisations and carried on conspiratorial activities from the very first days of the October Revolution?
“This blunder is to be explained by an underestimation of the strength and consequence of the mechanism of the bourgeois States surrounding us and of their espionage organs which endeavour to take advantage of people’s weaknesses, their vanity, their slackness of will, to enmesh them in their espionage nets and use them to surround the organs of the Soviet State.” (ibid, p. 632-633.)
The People’s Democracies are not in a capitalist encirclement in the sense that the U.S.S.R. was when it was the only Socialist State in the world.
The People’s Democracies find a powerful support in the mighty Soviet Union.
But the People’s Democracies, along with the Soviet Union, face an imperialist camp armed to the teeth and led by the American warmongers.
In the great anti-imperialist camp of peace and Socialism the People’s Democracies are less strong links than the U.S.S.R. In their countries there are still remnants of the routed classes of exploiters, and especially the class of the village rich, remnants of the bourgeois state apparatus and bourgeois political formations. The connections of some strata with native and foreign capitalism are still fresh; a broad stratum of people’s intelligentsia has not yet emerged, the organs of justice and the organs of struggle with foreign intelligence services have not yet grown firm and acquired sufficient experience; the Communist and Workers’ Parties do not possess as yet the Bolshevik characteristics in full.
Therefore it is understandable that the imperialists direct their blows and attacks at the People’s Democracies and that for a long time already they have been setting up long-range plans, aimed at detaching these countries from the U.S.S.R. and guiding them on to the road to capitalism.
The provocation of many years standing of the spying Tito band for the benefit of the imperialists, the provocation, diversion and espionage of many years standing of the Rajk and Kostov bands and of the Titoite band in Hungary and Bulgaria, the provocation of many years standing of the pre-war Polish counter-intelligence agents in our Party, which spread on the ground of the opportunism and absolute lack of revolutionary vigilance on the part of Comrades Gomulka and Spychalski – all this shows how dangerous is the underestimation of the mechanism of the internal and external action of the class enemy.
“We cannot for an instant,” said Comrade Bierut, “lose sight of the class enemy and his cunning and insidious moves. Be vigilant! This is an order which should accompany every one of us constantly, in every moment of our Party’s professional and social work, as well as at every step of our collective and personal life. As long as the class enemy exists and acts – we must be vigilant. To be vigilant, means to hasten the destruction of the imperialists, to fortify the foundations of socialist construction.” (B. Bierut. Report delivered at the Third Plenum of the Central Committee of the P.U.W.P., November 11, 1949.)
There is no doubt that, basing themselves on Stalin’s teachings and the experiences of the C.P.S.U.(B), the Communist and Workers’ Parties of the People’s Democracies will be able to intensify their revolutionary vigilance and frustrate even the most satanic provocations of the foreign imperialists and of the native bourgeoisie and landowners.
The People’s Democracies arose as the result of a socialist revolution, occurring in special historical conditions. This revolution was of the same type, in class nature, .as the Great October Socialist Revolution. The State in. the People’s Democracies is a State of the socialist type, of the same type in class nature as the Soviet State. The Soviet arid People’s Democratic forms of the State are variants of the dictatorship of the proletariat. The Socialist State in the People’s Democracies differs from the contemporary Soviet State:
1. In the difference of historical conditions and the difference derived therefrom in the forms of exercising the dictatorship of the proletariat.
2. In the different phase of development in which it rests, the different stage of historical development: in the People’s Democracies, antagonistic social classes still exist, capitalism has not been completely liquidated and Socialism is only being built. In the U.S.S.R., there are no antagonistic social classes, capitalism has been totally liquidated, Socialism has been built and a Communist society is being built.
Under these circumstances, what is and what can be the tendency of development of the People’s Democracies?
This tendency can only be, and is, to make up for the historical delay, to build Socialism on the basis of the experience of the U.S.S.R. It is clear that as the People’s Democracies pass over from the first phase of development of the Socialist State to the second the divergences of system in relation to the U.S.S.R. will decrease.
‘The line of development of the U.S.S.R. and the line of the People’s Democracy are not in any case parallel lines, which if they intersect anywhere then only at infinity. On the contrary, the line of development of the People’s Democracies tends sharply towards the second phase of development of the Socialist State, towards a socialist society.
What does the direction of this line signify?
It signifies nothing else but the striving towards making up the historical delay, catching up with the U.S.S.R., and marching together with it and under its leadership towards Communism.
Armed with Stalin’s teaching we shall reach this goal.
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