Draft Programme of the RCP, USA
Draft Programme Part 2
The proletariat overthrows the bourgeoisie and seizes power. This is fundamentally true in the sense that it is only through the determined struggle of the proletariat and oppressed masses that the armed forces of the bourgeoisie can be defeated and a new political power established, resting on the armed might of the masses.
But at the same time, even as this is accomplished a new question immediately and sharply poses itself: how to smash and dismantle the old forms of rule and political institutions and create in their place new ones which actually represent, rely on, and involve the masses in ruling and remolding society in their interests and in the service of the world revolution.
As the armed insurrections and then the civil war are fought out, and as the proletariat advances through the back-and-forth of battle toward victory, seizing and linking up more and more territory and routing the enemy forces, further tasks will come onto the agenda.
There will be the urgent need for the masses to be mobilized to take control of structures and institutions, and to begin running and utilizing them to serve as a basis for the consolidation of power and the functioning of the new proletarian state. And then, with the final victory in this revolutionary war, there will be the need to more fully develop new structures and institutions that embody and serve the exercise of power by the proletariat and the profound changes that proletarian rule will begin to bring about.
The immediate aftermath of the victorious revolutionary war, with its high tide of mass enthusiasm, will witness a level of direct mass participation in political and social life, in making and carrying out decisions in every sphere, that today can hardly be dreamed of. Yet, huge as these immediate changes will be, they will also, in another sense, be only the first steps to where society ultimately needs to go—that is, to the mass administering of all spheres of society without the medium of a state. But from the beginning, decisive steps must be taken, representing a radical break with the past, in order to fully consolidate the new proletarian power and lay a foundation for further advances.
Radically Breaking with Bourgeois Political Institutions
The Party concentrates the highest interests of the proletariat. And so the Party must play the decisive role in leading the masses to forge the new institutions. But this cannot be done just by appointing Party members, and/or elected representatives of the workers and other oppressed masses, to take charge of the old institutions or of institutions different in name but structured along the same old lines.
The existing bourgeois state stands as a hostile force over and against the masses of people. Its laws, rules, and protocols are designed to drive home and enforce the powerless position of the masses as outsiders who can only come before the authorities with hat in hand.
All of that must be swept away, and new institutions must be forged which embody proletarian rule. The new rules and structures must fundamentally serve the goal of eliminating all the oppressive divisions in society, and to do this in the only way it is possible—by drawing ever broader sections of the people into the task of exercising state power along radically new lines.
If workers are selected as judges in the courts, for example, but the courts have the same position above the masses and follow the same rules and procedures as before, then these worker-judges will quickly turn into oppressors of the people. The courts will yet again serve as instruments of bourgeois dictatorship over the masses.
Or take the set-up of Congress and the presidency, and its parallel structure on the state and local levels in the U.S. today. Not only is it the case that those officeholders who exercise any real power must faithfully and ruthlessly serve the bourgeoisie, but beyond that, this whole electoral and governmental set-up encourages and rewards self-seeking careerism and corruption. Most of all, it keeps the masses in a passive position and ignorant of the actual workings of political power.
So these institutions must be dismantled and replaced with ones which closely link the leaders to the masses and serve to activate and mobilize the masses to further revolutionize society. The same is true of all the institutions in society.
Destroying the Old and Creating the New
The destruction of the old and the creation of the new are closely interconnected. In the revolutionary struggle to seize power, the Party and masses will have forged new forms of organization. And in the uprising itself, a revolutionary army of the proletariat will have been built.
These new organizations and alliances —led by the Party and resting on the active participation of the masses—will be the forerunner and embryo of the new state institutions representing the rule of the working class, together with its allies from other classes. For example, organizations will have been built in the communities of the oppressed to wage resistance to the enemy and to provide collective solutions to various social problems. They will, to the degree they grow and take on responsibility as a revolutionary situation develops, be an important part of the foundation of base-level structures of proletarian power after the overthrow of the bourgeoisie.
At the factory or workplace level, newborn organizations of workers will also have been created in the buildup to the actual seizure of power. These will be further developed and will play an important role in administration on that basic level. At the same time, previously existing organizations, including trade unions, which have been transformed into actual vehicles of struggle serving the revolution, will be integrated into the overall structure of mass revolutionary organization and administration on the basic level.
These organizations will pay attention to the working and living conditions of the workers. But their main task will be to mobilize the workers to wage political struggle and to take part in administration on the factory level, etc. Secondarily, and on the basis of these politics, they will mobilize the workers to carry out socialist production (see the Appendix “The New Socialist Economy, Part 1”).
In all these new organs of political power and administration, and at every level of society, the Party will above all rely on the masses. It will work to continually draw broader ranks of the people into active participation in ruling and transforming society.
One of the main forms of involving the masses in all aspects of this will be institutionalized forms of leadership and administration that combine representatives of the masses; technical and administrative personnel; and Party cadre. These “three-in-one” forms will help link the masses with administration, as well as help break down divisions between experts, technicians, etc., on the one hand, and the basic masses on the other.
This model of leadership and administration was developed in socialist China in the form of revolutionary committees, which were forged in the course of the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution. They represented a new advance in simplifying leadership and administrative bodies and, most essentially, in further involving the masses in these functions and in the running of society overall.
The Armed Forces of the Proletarian State
The armed forces of the proletarian revolution can never win victory if they are structured and commanded along the same lines as those of the bourgeoisie.
The purpose of the bourgeois armed forces—to carry out reactionary war against the interests of the vast majority of people in the whole world, including in the U.S.—is reflected both in their strategies of fighting and in their internal organization. They are built on a dictatorial hierarchy. Their hierarchy rests on the absolute authority of superior officers and most fundamentally on the intimidation of the rank-and-file soldiers and their ignorance of the real purpose of the wars they are called on to fight, as well as of the plans and policies guiding particular campaigns and battles. These armed forces are shot through with white supremacy and male supremacy; rape is promoted, sometimes even openly, as a right of conquest.
In contrast, the armed forces of the proletarian revolution must and will be based on a simplified structure, closely linking officers and rank-and-file soldiers, without saluting, “yes-sirring,” and other privileges of rank. More than that, they will be based on political education, discussion, and struggle among the troops, involving officers together with rank-and-file soldiers. The aim of this is to continually raise their consciousness as to the objectives and the character of the war they must fight, as well as of particular campaigns and battles—and other important political questions of society and the world.
The revolutionary army will conduct education and struggle against racism, and root it out where it occurs, along the lines of what will be done in society as a whole (see the Appendix “Uprooting National Oppression and White Supremacy”). Women will not be objects of plunder in the proletarian army, but will participate as comrades in every respect, including as commanders. In this army, rape will not be tolerated, and any member of the army who commits rape will be given the ultimate punishment.
Most importantly, these armed forces, unlike those of the bourgeoisie, will be closely linked with and rely on the masses of people for support and will represent and fight for their fundamental interests.
At the same time, the masses in their tens of millions, beyond the regular armed forces of the proletariat, will be organized into militias on the local levels to assist the overall armed struggle and maintain the new order as it is achieved. And, as the revolutionary forces carry out the armed struggle and defeat the armed forces of the bourgeoisie, they will not only shatter and disintegrate the enemy’s military organization but will win as many of its soldiers as possible to the revolutionary cause. Those won over will be reeducated and integrated into the armed forces of the proletarian revolution in accordance with its basic principles.
This whole process of consolidating the armed forces of the new proletarian state will be quite complex. This is all the more so because, once the revolutionary situation has emerged and the armed struggle to overthrow the imperialists has begun, it is possible that there will be several armies in the field, fighting against the forces of the old order, under banners other than that of the class-conscious proletariat.
Where this is the case, the Party and the revolutionary army of the proletariat led by the Party will face the necessity of relating to these forces on the basis of their program and actions. Where it is necessary and possible in order to advance the overall fight, the revolutionary army of the proletariat will unite and coordinate with these other forces, while at the same time bringing forward and struggling for the line and programme for which it is fighting, which requires and serves proletarian revolution.
Even more important, the revolutionary army of the proletariat, led by the Party, will have to play a vanguard role on the battlefield, in defeating and smashing the armed forces of the reactionaries. Through all this it will be possible—and necessary—to achieve victory for the proletariat on the battlefield and to consolidate a unified revolutionary army of the new proletarian state, under the leadership of its Party.
The nature and justness of its cause and the methods that stem from it will mean that the army led by the proletariat and its Party will fight with a determination, a heroism, and a conscious, voluntary discipline that no bourgeois army can ever achieve. All this must be applied and further developed once this revolutionary war has won victory and the proletariat has seized and consolidated power.
The same basic principles must also be applied, upon the seizure of power, to the destruction of the old and the creation of the new police and security forces, courts, and other government institutions, and to the formulation and upholding of laws themselves, as well as specific policies of the government. While a constitution embodying these principles must and will be developed, merely this will not be enough.
Under the overall leadership of the Party, the conscious activism of the masses must be aroused and their vigilance heightened to involve them in all aspects of political life. They must be relied on to politically supervise the organs of power and the leadership within them. And the masses must be relied on to suppress and exercise uncompromising authority over the overthrown bourgeoisie and other counter-revolutionary elements: punishing them according to their crimes, crushing their resistance, and compelling them to abide by the dictates of the working class.
Only in this way can political power, for which tens of millions will have fought and sacrificed, actually be in the hands of the masses. Only in this way can the dictatorship of the proletariat over the bourgeoisie be firmly established and the socialist transformation and development of the economy, as well as all other spheres of society, be undertaken, as part of the world proletarian revolution.
The revolutionary ferment during and in the wake of the armed uprising will provide favorable conditions to draw millions of newly awakened masses into the exercise of state power. The exact forms this new power takes will depend on concrete conditions, the collective initiative and experimentation of the masses, and the lessons gained from experience. New and arising forces as well as veterans must be drawn into the new organs of power.
The mass organs of power at the base levels of society must be integrated into the larger state-administrative structure of the new society. And these organs of power must also enable the masses to concern themselves with “affairs of state”—that is, the biggest political issues that determine the overall direction of society. In all this, the Party must provide leadership and guidance so that the outlook and interests of the revolutionary proletariat remain at the helm.
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