WITHOUT STATE POWER, ALL IS ILLUSION...
WITH STATE POWER, A WORLD OF THINGS BECOMES POSSIBLE
By Bob Avakian
Revolutionary Worker #1082, December 10, 2000, posted at http://rwor.org
With the so-called "death" and "failure" of communism, the question is sharply posed about the communist revolution: Can this revolution really solve all these problems of capitalist society, can it really bring about the kind of complete, radical change in society and the world, that we say it can? Here I want to speak to some of the complexity of this--but also the way in which some of this is NOT so complicated. As a fundamental point of departure, we should grasp firmly the truth of this point Lenin emphasized: "Without state power all is illusion." And there's the other side of this: with state power in the hands of the proletariat, led by its vanguard party, all becomes possible--or a whole world of things becomes possible that was simply impossible before, under the dictates and according to the functioning and the dynamics, and as a result of the very nature, of the capitalist system.
SO THE KEY--THE CRUCIAL FIRST STEP, OR GREAT LEAP--IS TO SEIZE POWER AND SMASH AND DISMANTLE THE BOURGEOIS STATE, THE DICTATORIAL POWER OF THE BOURGEOISIE AND ITS ARMED ENFORCERS OVER THE PEOPLE, AND TO ESTABLISH THE PROLETARIAN STATE, THE DICTATORSHIP OF THE PROLETARIAT. Then we have to move quickly to carry out the basic socialization of ownership of the means of production, that is, we have to take decisive steps in making the land, resources, machinery and technology used in production the common property of the state representing the political power of the proletariat, led by its vanguard, and make them serve the needs of the people and the proletariat's revolutionary mission to radically transform all of society.
And then, with the continuing advance through socialism to communism, as part of the world proletarian revolution, the task remains to carry out the further transformation of the basic relations of people in society--their relations in the process of production and their social relations overall--to uproot inequalities, including the "division of labor" in society (for example, the division between mental and manual labor) and at the same time to transform the entire superstructure of politics, culture and ideology, including the thinking of the people. This revolutionary transformation must be carried out in every sphere of society--in the sphere of work and the relations of people in work, in the institutions of political power and administration at every level of society, in education and culture, and so on; and in the relations not only among people in the socialist society itself but also the relations with other peoples throughout the world.
All this obviously cannot be accomplished "overnight" or in a very short time after the proletariat seizes power in a particular country. BUT THE POINT IS THAT, ONCE STATE POWER HAS BEEN SEIZED BY THE PROLETARIAT, WITH THE LEADERSHIP OF ITS VANGUARD, MANY CRUCIAL THINGS ABOUT SOCIETY, AND HOW PEOPLE LIVE AND RELATE, CAN BE RADICALLY CHANGED VERY QUICKLY. In some real and important ways, the process of advancing through socialism to communism is very difficult and complex, but in another sense, and in certain key aspects, SOME OF THIS SHIT THAT SEEMS SO IMPOSSIBLE TO EVEN CONCEIVE OF DEALING WITH IS ACTUALLY NOT THAT COMPLICATED AND NOT THAT HARD...ONCE WE HAVE SEIZED POWER!
What is involved, once we have seized power, is taking hold of the economic life-lines of the country and beginning right away to make the economy meet the basic needs of the people--for things like housing, clothing, food, and so on. It is not a matter that we are going to "curb the corporations" so that they have to act more justly and fairly and with more concern for the people and the environment. The fact is that there won't be any of these corporations--the ownership and control of the decisive parts of the economy will be taken into the hands of the proletarian state, to serve the people and the revolution. Things like police brutality and murder--that will be done away with very quickly--putting an end to a situation in which the police represent an alien and oppressive power over the people, in the service of exploiters--that's done-- they're smashed. We will be moving swiftly and decisively to put a stop to rape and the physical abuse of women, and of children, taking big strides toward eliminating all this once and for all. Priority will be shifted in health care to solving the immediate and pressing health needs of the masses of people... All the basic things like that will be immediately addressed, and major changes will be made in these spheres quickly, to begin actually meeting the needs of the people.
This is what happened in China, when countrywide political power was seized at the end of 1949--and it is important to keep in mind they did this--they took a whole bunch of decisive first steps of the kind I'm talking about--at the same time as they were engaged in a major war against the U.S. imperialists in Korea for the next few years--up until 1953. In China, they moved quickly, using the power of the new state and mobilizing the masses, to eliminate diseases that ravaged the people, particularly the peasants, for centuries; to free women from literal feudal bondage and all kinds of abuse and degradation they had suffered for thousands of years; to begin building decent housing and providing meaningful jobs for masses of people in the cities and education for the youth; to put an end quickly to the scourge of drug addition and to prostitution, giving the former drug addicts and prostitutes support, help, and new lives with dignity; to give land to the land-starved peasants and lay the basis for collectivizing land and developing agriculture by leaps; to grant rights which had long been denied to the national minorities; to crush and eliminate the power of the vicious private armies of the landlords, as well as "cleaning-up" any remaining resistance from the former police and armed forces of the old regime.
In the video produced by our Party for the Mao Memorials in 1978, "Mao Tsetung the Greatest Revolutionary of Our Time," there is a scene where at one point after power has been seized and they're beginning the distribution of land, at a mass meeting, a peasant walks up and slaps a landlord in the face. Now this was not just an act of revenge. It's important to understand--this was an act of liberation. For a peasant to strike a landlord in the face like that was unheard of, unthought of, in China, for hundreds, for thousands, of years. This was something you didn't do or "the heavens would come down on you." So when that peasant slapped that landlord, that was an act which was full of meaning--it meant that the world was changing completely, that the whole character of society was rapidly changing. Nobody even thought that such a thing would ever happen in all the lifetimes of people before that.
And, even as decisive first steps like these are undertaken, the orientation and policy of the proletarian state is to enable the masses themselves to be unleashed to attack and begin solving these immediate and urgent problems--and to begin developing the means through which they will increasingly master and transform society, in every sphere--so that, from the start, forms are initiated through which the masses can begin exercising, and enforcing, decision-making in society, with the leadership of their vanguard Party.
AND, ONCE THE DICTATORSHIP OF THE PROLETARIAT HAS BEEN CONSOLIDATED AND THE FIRST BASIC STEPS HAVE BEEN TAKEN TO MEET THE URGENT NEEDS OF THE PEOPLE AND TO BRING THE BASIC LIFELINES OF THE ECONOMY UNDER THE CONTROL OF THE NEW SOCIALIST STATE--THEN A NEW STAGE OF THE REVOLUTION WILL BEGIN. The proletarian revolution in any particular country is and must be a part of the whole world proletarian revolution, and when and where our class captures power and begins building socialism under the dictatorship of the proletariat, it must not only carry forward the radical transformation of that particular country but above all must build its state as a base area for the world revolution. The advance to communism is a whole historical process lasting for generations, probably even centuries, before it will be finally completed--a process full of tremendous, monumental struggle to radically transform the economic base and the political and ideological superstructure of society, and the world as a whole--a struggle that will develop in a spiral kind of way, with twists and turns and advances...then setbacks...then further advances--in a series of waves, so to speak, and not all at once and all in a "straight line." BUT, AGAIN, A CRUCIAL POINT TO GRASP IS THAT, ONCE STATE POWER HAS BEEN SEIZED BY THE PROLETARIAT--ONCE WE HAVE DEFEATED THROUGH REVOLUTIONARY WAR THE REACTIONARY ARMED FORCES THAT UPHOLD AND ENFORCE THIS SYSTEM, ONCE WE HAVE SMASHED AND DISMANTLED THE OPPRESSIVE MACHINERY OF REACTIONARY DICTATORSHIP, AND IN ITS PLACE HAVE ESTABLISHED THE POLITICAL POWER OF THE PROLETARIAT AND ITS ABILITY TO RULE AND TRANSFORM SOCIETY IN ACCORDANCE WITH ITS REVOLUTIONARY OUTLOOK AND INTERESTS--ONCE WE HAVE DONE THAT, THEN ALL KINDS OF "MIRACLES" WILL BE POSSIBLE. Why? Precisely because the basis will then exist to increasingly unleash the masses of people to attack and solve all kinds of problems, and because, instead of viciously suppressing and confining them at every step when they try to do this, the power of the state will support and back them up in doing so.
That's a whole world of difference and, with all the complexity that goes on after that, we have to grasp firmly the great, radical and qualitative difference that comes about once we seize power and the state is in the hands of the proletariat led by its vanguard.
This article is posted in English and Spanish on Revolutionary Worker Online
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