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The Marxist Teaching on the State 

and the Tasks of the Proletariat 

in the Revolution 

PEKING 1970 

First Edition 1965 
Second Printing 1970 

■ .: fe: ^:- ■::■ 

Prepared ©for the Internet by David J. Romagnolo, (June 1997) 


The present English translation of V. I. Lenin's The State and Revolution is a reprint of the text given in the 
Selected Works ofV. I. Lenin, Eng. ed., Foreign Languages Publishing House, Moscow, 1952, Vol II, Part 
I. The notes at the end of the book are based on those given in the Selected Works and in the Chinese 
edition published by the People's Publishing House, Peking, in September 1964. 




Chapter I 


i. The State as the Product of the Irreconcilabihty of Class 

Antagonisms 5 

2. Special Bodies of Armed Men, Prisons, etc. 9 

3. The State as an Instrument for the Exploitation of the 13 
Oppressed Class 

4. The "Withering Away" of the State and Violent Revolution 17 

Chapter II 


1. The Eve of the Revolution 26 

2. The Revolution Summed Up 31 

3. The Presentation of the Question by Marx in 1852 39 

Chapter III 



1. Wherein Lay the Heroism of the Communards' Attempt? 42 

2. With What Is the Smashed State Machine to Be Replaced 47 

3. Abolition of Parliamentarism 53 

4. Organization of the Unity of the Nation 60 

5. Abohtion of the Parasite State 64 

Chapter IV 


i. The Housing Question 67 

2. Controversy with the Anarchists 71 

3. Letter to Bebel 76 

4. Criticisms of the Draft of the Erfurt Program 79 

5. The 1891 Preface to the Civil War in France 88 

6. Engels on the Overcoming of Democracy 95 

Chapter V 


1. Presentation of the Question by Marx 99 

2. The Transition from Capitalism to Communism 102 

3. The First Phase of Communist Society 109 

4. The Highest Phase of Communist society 113 

Chapter VI 


i. Plekhonov's Controversy with the Anarchists 124 

2. Kautsky's Controversy with the Opportunists 125 

3. Kautsky's Controversy with Pannekoek 134 


NOTES 146 



The question of the state is now acquiring particular importance both in theory 
and in practical politics. The imperialist war has immensely accelerated and 
intensified the process of transformation of monopoly capitalism into state- 
monopoly capitalism. The monstrous oppression of the toiling masses by the 
state, which is merging more and more with the all-powerful capitalist 
associations, is becoming ever more monstrous. The advanced countries are being 
converted ~ we speak here of their "rear" ~ into military convict prisons for the 

The unprecedented horrors and miseries of the protracted war are making the 
position of the masses unbearable and increasing their indignation. The 
international proletarian revolution is clearly maturing. The question of its 
relation to the state is acquiring practical importance. 

The elements of opportunism that accumulated during the decades of 
comparatively peaceful development have given rise to the trend of social- 
chauvinism which dominates the official socialist parties throughout the world. 
This trend ~ Socialism in words and chauvinism in deeds (Plekhanov, Potresov, 
Breshkovskaya, Rubanovich, and, in a 

page 2 

slightly veiled form, Messrs. Tsereteli, Chernov and Co., in Russia; Scheidemann, 
Legien, David and others in Germany; Renaudel, Guesde and Vandervelde in 
France and Belgium; Hyndman and the Fabiansm in England, etc., etc.) ~ is 
distinguished by the base, servile adaptation of the "leaders of socialism" to the 
interests not only of "their" national bourgeoisie, but precisely of "their" state ~ 
for the majority of the so-called Great Powers have long been exploiting and 
enslaving a whole number of small and weak nationalities. And the imperialist 
war is precisely a war for the division and redivision of this kind of booty. The 
struggle for the emancipation of the toiling masses from the influence of the 
bourgeoisie in general, and of the imperialist bourgeoisie in particular, is 
impossible without a struggle against opportunist prejudices concerning the 

First of all we examine the teachings of Marx and Engels on the state and dwell 
in particular detail on those aspects of this teaching which have been forgotten or 
have been subjected to opportunist distortion. Then we deal specially with the one 
who is chiefly responsible for these distortions, Karl Kautsky, the best-known 
leader of the Second International (1889-1914), which has met with such 
miserable bankruptcy in the present war. Finally, we shall sum up the main results 
of the experiences of the Russian revolutions of 1905 and particularly of 1917. 

Apparently, the latter is now (the beginning of August 1917) completing the first 
stage of its development; but this revolution as a whole can only be understood as 
a link in a chain of socialist proletarian revolutions being called forth by the 
imperialist war. Hence, the question of the relation of the socialist proletarian 

page 3 

revolution to the state acquires not only practical political importance but also the 
importance of a most urgent problem of the day, the problem of explaining to the 
masses what they will have to do in the very near future to free themselves from 
themselves from the yoke of capitalism. 

The Author 

August 1917 

page 4 


The present, second edition is published almost without change, except that 
section 3 had been added to Chapter II. 

The Author 

December 17, 1918 







What is now happening to Marx's teaching has, in the course of history, 
happened repeatedly to the teachings of revolutionary thinkers and leaders of 
oppressed classes struggling for emancipation. During the lifetime of great 
revolutionaries, the oppressing classes constantly hounded them, received their 

teachings with the most savage mahce, the most furious hatred and the most 
unscrupulous campaigns of hes and slander. After their death, attempts are made 
to convert them into harmless icons, to canonize them, so to say, and to surround 
their names with a certain halo for the "consolation" of the oppressed classes and 
with the object of duping the latter, while at the same time emasculating the 
essence of the revolutionary teaching, blunting its revolutionary edge and 
vulgarizing it. At the present time, the bourgeoisie and the opportunists within the 

page 6 

movement concur in this "doctoring" of Marxism. They omit, obliterate and 
distort the revolutionary side of this teaching, its revolutionary soul. They push to 
the foreground and extol what is or seems acceptable to the bourgeoisie. All the 
social-chauvinists are now "Marxists" (don't laugh!). And more and more 
frequently, German bourgeois scholars, but yesterday specialists in the 
annihilation of Marxism, are speaking of the "national-German" Marx, who, they 
aver, educated the workers' unions which are so splendidly organized for the 
purpose of conducting a predatory war! 

In such circumstances, in view of the unprecedently widespread distortion of 
Marxism, our prime task is to re-establish what Marx really taught on the subject 
of the state. For this purpose it will be necessary to quote at length from the works 
of Marx and Engels themselves. Of course, long quotations will render the text 
cumbersome and will not help at all to make it popular reading, but we cannot 
possibly avoid them. All, or at any rate, all the most essential passages in the 
works of Marx and Engels on the subject of the state must without fail be quoted 
as fully as possible, in order that the reader may form an independent opinion of 
the totality of the views of the founders of scientific Socialism and of the 
development of those views, and in order that their distortion by the now 
prevailing "Kautskyism" may be documentarily proved and clearly demonstrated. 

Let us being with the most popular of Engels' works. The Origin of the Family, 
Private Property and the State, the sixth edition of which was published in 
Stuttgart as far back as 1894. We shall have to translate the quotations from the 
German originals, as the Russian translations, although very numerous, are for the 
most part either incomplete or very unsatisfactory. 


Summing up his historical analysis, Engels says: 

"The state is, therefore, by no means a power forced on society from 
without; just as little is it 'the reality of the ethical idea,' 'the image and 
reality of reason,' as Hegel maintains. Rather, it is a product of society at a 
certain stage of development; it is the admission that this society has 
become entangled in an insoluble contradiction with itself, that it has cleft 

into irreconcilable antagonisms which it is powerless to dispel. But in 
order that these antagonisms, classes with conflicting economic interests, 
might not consume themselves and society in sterile struggle, a power, 
seemingly standing above society became necessary for the purpose of 
moderating the conflict, of keeping it within bounds of 'order'; and this 
power, arisen out of society, but placing itself above it, and increasingly 
alienating itself more and more from it, is the state." (Pp. 177-78, sixth 
German edition) m 

This expresses with perfect clarity the basic idea of Marxism with on the 
question of the historical role and the meaning of the state. The state is the 
product and the manifestation of the irreconcilability of class antagonisms. The 
state arises when, where and to the extent that class antagonisms objectively 
cannot be reconciled. And, conversely, the existence of the state proves that the 
class antagonisms are irreconcilable. 

It is precisely on this most important and fundamental point that the distortion 
of Marxism, proceeding along two main lines, begins. 

On the one hand, the bourgeois, and particularly the petty-bourgeois, 
ideologists, compelled under the weight of indisputable historical facts to admit 
that the state only exists where there are class antagonisms and the class struggle, 


Marx in such a way as to make it appear that the state is an organ for the 
reconciliation of classes. According to Marx, the state could neither arise nor 
maintain itself if it were possible to reconcile classes. According to the petty- 
bourgeois and Philistine professors and publicists it appears ~ very frequently 
they benignantly refer to Marx to prove this ~ that the state does reconcile 
classes. According to Marx, the state is an organ of class rule, an organ for the 
oppression of one class by another; it is the creation of "order," which legalizes 
and perpetuates this oppression by moderating the conflict between classes. In the 
opinion of the petty-bourgeois politicians, order means precisely the 
reconciliation of classes, and not the oppression of one class by another; to 
moderate the conflict means reconciling classes and not depriving the oppressed 
classes of definite means and methods of struggle to overthrow the oppressors. 

For instance, when, in the Revolution of 1917, the question of the significance 
and role of the state arose in all its magnitude as a practical question demanding 
immediate action on a mass scale, all the Social-Revolutionaries and Mensheviks 
immediately and completely sank to the petty-bourgeois theory that the "state" 
"reconciles" classes. Innumerable resolutions and articles by politicians of both 
these parties are thoroughly saturated with this petty-bourgeois and philistine 
"reconciliation" theory. That the state is an organ of the rule of a definite class 
which cannot be reconciled with its antipode (the class opposite to it), is 

something the petty-bourgeois democrats will never be able to understand. Their 
attitude to the state is one of the most striking manifestations of the fact that our 
Socialist-Revolutionaries and Mensheviks are not Socialists at all 

page 9 

(a point that we Bolsheviks have always maintained), but petty-bourgeois 
democrats with near-Socialist phraseology. 

On the other hand, the "Kautskyite" distortion of Marxism is far more subtle. 
"Theoretically," it is not denied that the state is an organ of class rule, or that class 
antagonisms are irreconcilable. But what is lost sight of or glossed over is this: if 
the state is the product of the irreconcilability of class antagonisms, if it is a power 
standing above society and 'Hncreasinglyalienating itself from it," 
then it is obvious that the liberation of the oppressed class is impossible not only 
without a violent revolution, butalsowithoutthedestructionof the 
apparatus of state power which was created by the ruling class and which is the 
embodiment of this "alienation." As we shall see later, Marx very definitely drew 
this theoretically self-evident conclusion as a result of a concrete historical 
analysis of the tasks of the revolution. And ~ as we shall show in detail further on 
~ it is precisely this conclusion which Kautsky . . . has "forgotten" and distorted. 


Engels continues: 

"In contradistinction to the old gentile [tribal or clan] order, the state, 
first, divides its subjects according to territory." 

Such a division seems "natural" to us, but it cost a prolonged struggle against 
the old form of tribal or gentile society. 

page 10 

"The second distinguishing feature is the establishment of a public 
power which no longer directly coincides with the population organizing 
itself as an armed force. This special public power is necessary, because a 
self-acting armed organization of the population has become impossible 
since the cleavage into classes. . . . This public power exists in every state; 
it consists not merely of armed people but also of material adjuncts, 
prisons and institutions of coercion of all kinds, of which gentile [clan] 
society knew nothing." 

Engels further elucidates the concept the concept of the "power" which is 
termed the state ~ a power which arose from society, but places itself above it and 
alienates itself more and more from it. What does this power mainly consist of? It 
consists of special bodies of armed men having prisons, etc., at their command. 

We are justified in speaking of special bodies of armed men, because the public 
power which is an attribute of every state does not "directly coincide" with the 
armed population, with its "self-acting armed organization." 

Like all great revolutionary thinkers, Engels tries to draw the attention of the 
class-conscious workers to the very fact which prevailing philistinism regards as 
least worthy of attention, as the most habitual and sanctified not only by firmly 
rooted, but one might say by petrified prejudices. A standing army and police are 
the chief instruments of state power. But can it be otherwise? 

From the viewpoint of the vast majority of Europeans of the end of the 
nineteenth century whom Engels was addressing, and who had not lived through 
or closely observed a single great revolution, it could not be otherwise. They 

page 11 

completely failed to understand what a "self-acting armed organization of the 
population" was. To the question, whence arose the need for special bodies of 
armed men, placed above society and alienating themselves from it (police and a 
standing army), the West-European and Russian philistines are inclined to answer 
with a few phrases borrowed from Spencer or Mikhailovsky, by referring to the 
growing complexity of social life, the differentiation of functions, and so forth. 

Such a reference seems "scientific," and effectively dulls the senses of the man 
in the street by obscuring the most important and basic fact, namely, the cleavage 
of society into irreconcilably antagonistic classes. 

Were it not for this cleavage, the "self-acting armed organization of the 
population" would differ from the primitive organization of a stick- wielding herd 
of monkeys, or of primitive man, or of men united in clans, by its complexity, its 
high technique, and so forth; but such an organization would still be possible. 

It is impossible, because civilized society is split into antagonistic, and, 
moreover, irreconcilably antagonistic classes, the "self-acting" arming of which 
would lead to an armed struggle between them. A state arises, a special power is 
created, special bodies of armed men, and every revolution, by destroying the 
state apparatus, clearly demonstrates to us how the ruling class strives to restore 
the special bodies of armed men which serve / 1, and how the oppressed class 
strives to create a new organization of this kind, capable of serving not the 
exploiters but the exploited. 

In the above argument, Engels raises theoretically the very same question 
which every great revolution raises before us in practice, palpably and, what is 
more, on a scale of mass action, namely, the question of the relationship between 

page 12 

bodies of armed men and the "self-acting armed organization of the population." 
We shall see how this question is concretely illustrated by the experience of the 
European and Russian revolutions. 

But to return to Engel's exposition. 

He points out that sometimes, for example, in certain parts of North America, 
this public power is weak (he has in mind a rare exception in capitalist society, 
and those parts of North America in its pre-imperialist days where the free 
colonists predominated), but that, generally speaking, it grows stronger: 

"... The public power grows stronger, however, in proportion as class 
antagonisms within the state become more acute, and as adjacent states 
become larger and more populated. We have only to look at our present- 
day Europe, where class struggle and rivalry in conquest have screwed up 
the public power to such a pitch that it threatens to devour the whole of 
society and even the state." 

This was written not later than the beginning of the nineties of the last century, 
Engels' last preface being dated June 16, 1891. The turn towards imperialism ~ 
meaning the complete domination of the trusts, meaning the omnipotence of the 
big banks, a grand-scale colonial policy, and so forth ~ was only just beginning in 
France, and was even weaker in North America and in Germany. Since then 
"rivalry in conquest" has made gigantic strides ~ especially as, by the beginning 
of the second decade of the twentieth century, the whole world had been finally 
divided up among these "rivals in conquest," i.e., among the great predatory 
powers. Since then, military and naval armaments have grown to monstrous 
proportions, and the predatory war of 

page 13 

1914-17 for the domination of the world by England or Germany, for the division 
of the spoils, has brought the "devouring" of all the forces of society by the 
rapacious state power to the verge of complete catastrophe. 

As early as 1891, Engels was able to point to "rivalry in conquest" as one of the 
most important distinguishing features of the foreign policy of the Great Powers, 
but in 1914-17, when this rivalry, many times intensified, has given rise to an 
imperialist was, the social-chauvinist scoundrels cover up the defence of the 

predatory interests of "their own" bourgeoisie with phrases about "defence of the 
fatherland," "defence of the repubhc and the revolution," etc.! 




For the maintenance of the special public power standing above society, taxes 
and state loans are needed. 

"In possession of the pubic power and the right to levy taxes, the 
officials," Engels writes, "as organs of society, now stand above society. 
The free, voluntary respect that was accorded to the organs of the gentile 
(clan) constitution does not satisfy them, even if they could gain it. ..." 
Special laws are enacted proclaiming the sanctity and immunity of the 
officials. "The shabbiest police servant" has more "authority" than the 
representatives of the clan, but even the head of the military power of a 
civilized state may well envy the elder of a clan the "uncoerced respect" of 

page 14 

Here the problem of the privileged position of the officials as organs of state 
power is raised. The main question indicated is: what is it that places them above 
society? We shall see how this theoretical question was answered in practice by 
the Paris Commune in 1871 and how it was slurred over in a reactionary manner 
byKautskyin 1912. 

"Because the state arose from the need to hold class antagonisms in 
check, but because it arose, at the same time, in the midst of the conflict of 
these classes, it is, as a rule, the state of the most powerful, economically 
dominant class, which, through the medium of the state, becomes also the 
politically dominant class, and thus acquires new means of holding down 
and exploiting the oppressed class." The ancient and feudal states were 
organs for the exploitation of the slaves and serfs; likewise, "the modern 
representative state is an instrument of exploitation of wage-labor by 
capital. By way of exception, however, periods occur in which the warring 
classes balance each other so nearly that the state power as ostensible 
mediator acquires, for the moment, a certain degree of independence of 
both." Such were the absolute monarchies of the 17th and 18th centuries, 
the Bonapartism of the First and Second Empires in France, and the 
Bismarck regime in Germany. 

Such, we may add, is the Kerensky government in republican Russia since it 
began to persecute the revolutionary proletariat, at a moment when, owing to the 

leadership of the petty-bourgeois democrats, the Soviets have already become 
impotent, while the bourgeoisie is not yet strong enough simply to disperse them. 

page 15 

In a democratic republic, Engels continues, "wealth exercises its power 
indirectly, but all the more surely", first, by means of the "direct 
corruption of officials" (America); secondly, by means of an "alliance 
between the government and the Stock Exchange" (France and America). 

At the present time, imperialism and the domination of the banks have 
"developed" into an exceptional art both these methods of upholding and giving 
effect to the omnipotence of wealth in democratic republics of all descriptions 
into an unusually fine art. If, for instance, in the very first months of the Russian 
democratic republic, one might say during the honeymoon of the "Socialist" S.- 
R.'s [Socialist-Revolutionaries] and Mensheviks joined in wedlock to the 
bourgeoisie, Mr. Palchinsky, in the coalition government, obstructed every 
measure intended for curbing the capitalists and their marauding practices, their 
plundering of the treasury by means of war contracts; and if later on Mr. 
Palchinsky, resigned (and, of course, was replaced by another exactly such 
Palchinsky), and the capitahsts "rewarded" him with a "soft" job at a salary of 
120,000 rubles per annum ~ what would you call this ~ direct or indirect bribery? 
An alliance between the government and the directors of syndicates, or "merely" 
friendly relations? What role do the Chernovs, Tseretelis, Avksentyevs and 
Skobelevs play? Are they the "direct" or only the indirect allies of the millionaire 

The reason why the omnipotence of "wealth" is better secured in a democratic 
republic, is that it does not depend on the faulty political shell of capitalism. A 
democratic republic is the best possible political shell for capitalism, and, 
therefore, once capital has gained possession of this very best shell (through the 
Palchinskys, Chernovs, Tseretelis and Co.), 

page 16 

it establishes its power so securely, so firmly, that no change, either of persons, of 
institutions, or of parties in the bourgeois-democratic republic, can shake it. 

We must also note that Engels is most definite in calling universal suffrage an 
instrument of bourgeois rule. Universal suffrage, he says, obviously summing up 
the long experience of German Social-Democracy, is "the gauge of the maturity 
of the working class. It cannot and never will be anything more in the present-day 

The petty-bourgeois democrats, such as our Socialist-Revolutionaries and 
Mensheviks, and also their twin brothers, all the social-chauvinists and 
opportunists of Western Europe, expect just this "more" from universal suffrage. 

They themselves share and instil into the minds of the people the false notion that 
universal suffrage "in the modern state" is really capable of ascertaining the will 
of the majority of the toilers and of securing its realization. 

Here we can only indicate this false notion, only point out that Engels' perfectly 
clear, precise and concrete statement is distorted at every step in the propaganda 
and agitation of the "official" (i.e., opportunist) Socialist parties. A detailed 
exposure of the utter falsity of this notion which Engels brushes aside here is 
given in our further account of the views of Marx and Engels on the " modern'' 

Engels gives a general summary of his views in the most popular of his works 
in the following words: 

"The state, then, has not existed from all eternity. There have been 
societies that did without it, that had no conception of the state and state 
power. At a certain stage of economic development, which was 
necessarily bound up with the cleavage of society into classes, the state 

page 17 

became a necessity owing to this cleavage. We are now rapidly 
approaching a stage in the development of production at which the 
existence of these classes not only will have ceased to be a necessity, but 
will become a positive hindrance to production. They will fall as 
inevitably as they arose at an earlier stage. Along with them the state will 
inevitably fall. The society that will organize production on the basis of a 
free and equal association of the producers will put the whole machinery 
of state where it will then belong: into the Museum of Antiquities, by the 
side of the spinning wheel and the bronze axe." 

We do not often come across this passage in the propagandist and agitational 
literature of present-day Social-Democracy. But even when we do come across it, 
it is mostly quoted in the same manner as one bows before an icon, i.e., it is done 
to show official respect for Engels, and no attempt is made to gauge the breadth 
and depth of the revolution that this relegating of "the whole machinery of state to 
the Museum of Antiquities" presupposes. In most cases we do not even find an 
understanding of what Engels calls the state machine. 


Engels' words regarding the "withering away" of the state are so widely known, 
they are often quoted, and so clearly reveal the essence of the customary 

adulteration of Marxism to look like opportunism that we must deal with them in 
detail. We shall quote the whole argument from which they are taken. 

page 18 

"The proletariat seizes the state power and transforms the means of 
production in the first instance into state property. But in doing this, it puts 
an end to itself as proletariat, it puts an end to all class differences and 
class antagonisms; its puts an end also to the state as state. Former society, 
moving in class antagonisms, had need of the state, that is, an organization 
of the exploiting class at each period for the maintenance of its external 
conditions of production; that is, therefore, mainly for the forcible holding 
down of the exploited class in the conditions of oppression (slavery, 
villeinage or serfdom, wage labor) determined by the existing mode of 
production. The state was the official representative of society as a whole, 
its summation in a visible corporation; but it was this only in so far as it 
was the state of that class which itself, in its epoch, represented society as 
a whole: in ancient times, the state of slave-owning citizens; in the Middle 
Ages, of the feudal nobility; in our epoch, of the bourgeoisie. When 
ultimately it becomes really representative of society as a whole, it renders 
itself superfluous. As soon as there is no longer any class of society to be 
held in subjection; as soon as, along with class domination and the 
struggle for individual existence based on the anarchy of production 
hitherto, the collisions and excesses arising from these have also been 
abolished, there is nothing more to be repressed which would make a 
special repressive force, a state, necessary. The first act in which the state 
really comes forward as the representative of society as a whole ~ the 
taking possession of the means of production in the name of society ~ is at 
the same time its last independent act as a state. The interference of the 
state power in social 

page 19 

relations becomes superfluous in one sphere after another, and then ceases 
of itself. The government of persons is replaced by the administration of 
things and the direction of the processes of production. The state is not 
'abolished,' it withers away. It is from this standpoint that we must 
appreciate the phrase 'a free people's state' ~ both its temporary 
justification for agitational purposes, and its ultimate scientific inadequacy 
~ and also the demand of the so-called anarchists that the state should be 
abolished overnight." (Herr Eugen Duhring's Revolution in Science [Anti- 
D&uumlhring ], pp. 301-03, third German edition.)[4] 

It may be said without fear of error that of this argument of Engels' which is so 
remarkably rich in ideas, only one point has become an integral part of socialist 
thought among modern socialist parties, namely, that according to Marx that state 
"withers away" ~ as distinct from the anarchist doctrine of the "abolition" of the 

state. To prune Marxism in such a manner is to reduce it to opportunism, for such 
an "interpretation" only leaves a vague notion of a slow, even, gradual change, of 
absence of leaps and storms, of absence of revolution. The current, widespread, 
mass, if one may say so, conception of the "withering away" of the state 
undoubtedly means toning down, if not repudiating, revolution. 

Such an "interpretation", however, is the crudest distortion of Marxism, 
advantageous only to the bourgeoisie; in point of theory, it is based on a disregard 
for the most important circumstances and considerations indicated, say, in Engels' 
"summary" argument we have just quoted in full. 

page 20 

In the first place, at the very outset of his argument, Engels says that, in seizing 
state power, the proletariat thereby "abolishes the state as state." It is not "good 
form" to ponder over the meaning of this. Generally, it is either ignored 
altogether, or is considered to be something in the nature of "Hegelian weakness" 
on Engels' part. As a matter of fact, however, these words briefly express the 
experience of one of the greatest proletarian revolutions, the Paris Commune of 
1871, of which we shall speak in greater detail in its proper place. As a matter of 
fact, Engels speaks here of the proletariat revolution "abolishing" the bourgeois 
state, while the words about the state withering away refer to the remnants of the 
proletarian state after the socialist revolution. According to Engels the bourgeois 
state does not "wither away," but is ''ab o I i s h e d'' hy the proletariat in the 
course of the revolution. What withers away after this revolution is the proletarian 
state or semi-state. 

Secondly, the state is a "special repressive force." Engels gives this splendid 
and extremely profound definition here with the utmost lucidity. And from it 
follows that the "special repressive force" for the suppression of the proletariat by 
the bourgeoisie, of millions of toilers by handfuls of the rich, must be replaced by 
a "special repressive force" for the suppression of the bourgeoisie by the 
proletariat (the dictatorship of the proletariat). This is precisely what is meant by 
"abolition of the state as state". This is precisely the "act" of taking possession of 
the means of production in the name of society. And it is self-evident that such a 
replacement of one (bourgeois) "special force" by another (proletarian) "special 
force" cannot possibly take place in the form of "withering away." 

page 21 

Thirdly, in speaking of the state "withering away," and the even more graphic 
and colorful "ceasing of itself," Engels refers quite clearly and definitely to the 
period after "the state has taken possession of the means of production in the 
name of the whole of society", that is, aft e r the socialist revolution. We all 
know that the political form of the "state" at that time is the most complete 
democracy. But it never enters the head of any of the opportunists who 
shamelessly distort Marxism that Engels is consequently speaking here ofdemo 

c r a cy "ceasing of itself," or "withering away." This seems very strange at first 
sight; but it is "incomprehensible" only to those who have not pondered over the 
fact that democracy is a I s o a. state and that, consequently, democracy will also 
disappear when the state disappears. Revolution alone can "abolish" the bourgeois 
state. The state in general, i.e., the most complete democracy, can only "wither 

Fourthly, after formulating his famous proposition that "the state withers 
away," Engels at once explains specifically that this proposition is directed 
against both the opportunists and the anarchists. In doing this Engels puts in the 
forefront that conclusion drawn from the proposition that "the state withers away" 
which is directed against the opportunists. 

One can wager that out of every 10,000 persons who have read or heard about 
the "withering away" of the state, 9,990 are completely unaware, or do not 
remember, that Engels directed his conclusions from that proposition not against 
anarchists alone. And of the remaining ten, probably nine do not know the 
meaning of "free people's state" or why an attack on this slogan means an attack 
on the opportunists. This is how history is written! This is 

page 22 

how a great revolutionary teaching is imperceptibly falsified and adapted to 
prevailing philistinism. The conclusion directed against the anarchists has been 
repeated thousands of times, vulgarized, dinned into people's heads in the 
shallowest form and has acquired the strength of a prejudice; whereas the 
conclusion directed against the opportunists has been slurred over and 

The "free people's state" was a programme demand and a widely current slogan 
of the German Social-Democrats in the seventies. This slogan is devoid of all 
political content except for the fact that it describes the concept of democracy in 
the pompous philistine fashion. In so far as it hinted in a legally permissible 
manner at a democratic republic, Engels was prepared to "justify" its use "for a 
time" from an agitational point of view. But it was an opportunist slogan, for it 
expressed not only an embellishment of bourgeois democracy, but also failure to 
understand the socialist criticism of the state in general. We are in favor of a 
democratic republic as the best form of state for the proletariat under capitalism; 
but we have no right to forget that wage slavery is the lot of the people even in the 
most democratic bourgeois republic. Furthermore, every state is a "special force 
for the suppression" of the oppressed class. Consequently, every state is not "free 
and not a "people's state." Marx and Engels explained this repeatedly to their 
party comrades in the seventies. 

Fifthly, the very same work of Engels', of which everyone remembers the 
argument about the withering away of the state, also contains an argument of the 
significance of violent revolution. Engels' historical analysis of its role becomes a 

veritable panegyric on violent revolution. This, "no one remembers"; it is not 
good form in modern Socialist 

page 23 

parties to talk or even think about the significance of this idea, and it plays no part 
whatever in their daily propaganda and agitation among the masses. And yet, it is 
inseparably bound up with the "withering away" of the state into one harmonious 

Here is Engels' argument: 

"... That force, however, plays another role" (other than that of a 
diabolical power) "in history, a revolutionary role; that, in the words of 
Marx, it is the midwife of every old society which is pregnant with the 
new, that it is the instrument by the aid of which the social movement 
forces its way through and shatters the dead, fossilized political forms ~ of 
this there is not a word in Herr D&uumlhring. It is only with sighs and 
groans that he admits the possibility that force will perhaps be necessary 
for the overthrow of the economic system of exploitation ~ unfortunately, 
because all use of force, forsooth, demoralizes the person who uses it. And 
this in spite of the immense moral and spiritual impetus which has resulted 
from every victorious revolution! And this in Germany, where a violent 
collision ~ which indeed may be forced on the people ~ would at least 
have the advantage of wiping out the servility which has permeated the 
national consciousness as a result of the humiliation of the Thirty Years' 
War. And this parson's mode of thought ~ lifeless, insipid, and impotent ~ 
claims to impose itself on the most revolutionary party that history has 
ever known! (P. 193, third German edition. Part II, end of Chap. IV.) 

How can this panegyric on violent revolution, which Engels insistently brought 
to the attention of the German Social-Democrats between 1878 and 1894, i.e., 
right up to 

page 24 

the time of his death, be combined with the theory of the "withering away" of the 
state to form a single doctrine? 

Usually the two are combined by means of eclecticism, by an unprincipled, or 
sophistic selection made arbitrarily (or to please the powers that be) of now one, 
now another argument, and in ninety-nine cases out of a hundred, if not more 
often, it is the idea of the "withering away" that is placed in the forefront. 
Dialectics are replaced by eclecticism ~ this is the most usual, the most 
widespread phenomenon to be met with in present-day official Social-Democratic 
literature in relation to Marxism. This sort of substitution is, of course, no new 
thing, it was observed even in the history of classical Greek philosophy. In 

falsifying Marxism in opportunist fashion, the substitution of eclecticism for 
dialectics is the easiest way of deceiving the masses; it gives an illusory 
satisfaction; it seems to take into account all sides of the process, all tendencies of 
development, all the conflicting influences, and so forth, whereas in reality it 
presents no integral and revolutionary conception of the process of social 
development at all. 

We have already said above, and shall show more fully later, that the teaching 
of Marx and Engels concerning the inevitability of a violent revolution refers to 
the bourgeois state. The latter cannot be superseded by the proletarian state (the 
dictatorship of the proletariat) through the process of 'withering away," but, as a 
general rule, only through a violent revolution. The panegyric Engels sang in its 
honor, and which fully corresponds to Marx's repeated declarations (recall the 
concluding passages of The Poverty of Philosophy m and the Communist 
Manifesto M with their proud and open proclamation of the inevitability of a 
violent revolution; recall what Marx wrote nearly thirty years 

page 25 

later, in criticizing the Gotha Programmem of 1875, when he mercilessly 
castigated the opportunist character of that program) ~ this panegyric is by no 
means a mere "impulse," a mere declamation or a polemical sally. The necessity 
of systematically imbuing the masses with this and precisely this view of violent 
revolution lies at the root of all the teachings of Marx and Engels. The betrayal of 
their teaching by the now predominant social-chauvinist and Kautskyite trends is 
expresseds in striking relief by the neglect of such propaganda and agitation by 
both these trends. 

The supersession of the bourgeois state by the proletarian state is impossible 
without a violent revolution. The abolition of the proletarian state, i.e., of the state 
in general, is impossible except through the process of "withering away." 

A detailed and concrete elaboration of these views was given by Marx and 
Engels when they studied each separate revolutionary situation, when they 
analyzed the lessons of the experience of each individual revolution. We shall 
now pass to this, undoubtedly the most important, part of their teaching. 

page 26 




The first works of mature Marxism ~ The Poverty of Philosophy and the 
Communist Manifesto — appeared just on the eve of the Revolution of 1848. For 
this reason, in addition to presenting the general principles of Marxism, they 
reflect to a certain degree the concrete revolutionary situation of the time. Hence, 
it will be more expedient, perhaps, to examine what the authors of these works 
said about the state immediately before they drew conclusions from the 
experience of the years 1848-51. 

In The Poverty of Philosophy Marx wrote: 

"The working class in the course of its development will substitute for 
the old bourgeois society an association which will exclude classes and 
their antagonism, and there will be no more political power properly so- 
called, since political power is precisely the official expression 

page 27 

of class antagonism in bourgeois society." (P. 182, German edition, 


It is instructive to compare this general exposition of the idea of the state 
disappearing after the abolition of classes with the exposition contained in the 
Communist Manifesto, written by Marx and Engels a few months later ~ to be 
exact, in November 1847: 

"In depicting the most general phases of the development of the 
proletariat, we traced the more or less veiled civil war, raging within 
existing society, up to the point where that war breaks out into open 
revolution, and where the violent overthrow of the bourgeoisie lays the 
foundation for the sway of the proletariat." 

"We have seen above, that the first step in the revolution by the working 
class, is to raise the proletariat to the position of ruling class, to win the 
battle of democracy. 

"The proletariat will use its political supremacy to wrest, by degrees, all 
capital from the bourgeoisie, to centralise all instruments of production in 
the hands of the State, i.e., of proletariat organised as the ruling class, and 
to increase the total of productive forces as rapidly as possible." (Pp. 31 
and 37, seventh German edition, 1906. )[9] 

Here we have a formulation of one of the most remarkable and most important 
ideas of Marxism on the subject of the state, namely, the idea of the "dictatorship 
of the proletariat" (as Marx and Engels began to call it after the Paris Commune); 
and also a supremely interesting definition of the state which is also one of the 
"forgotten words" of 

page 28 

Marxism: ''the state, i.e., the proletariat organized as the ruling class.'' 

This definition of the state has never been explained in the prevaihng 
propaganda and agitation hterature of the official Social-Democratic parties. More 
than that, it has been deliberately forgotten, for it is absolutely irreconcilable with 
reformism, and is a slap in the face of the common opportunist prejudices and 
Philistine illusions about the "peaceful development of democracy." 

The proletariat needs the state ~ this is repeated by all the opportunists, social- 
chauvinists and Kautskyites, who assure us that this is what Marx taught. But they 
Yorget " to add that, in the first place, according to Marx, the proletariat needs 
only astate which is withering away, i.e., a state so constituted that it begins to 
wither away immediately, and cannot but wither away And; secondly the toilers 
need a "state, i.e., the proletariat organized as the ruling class." 

The state is a special organization of force; it is an organization of violence for 
the suppression of some class. What class must the proletariat suppress? 
Naturally, only the exploiting class, i.e., the bourgeoisie. The toilers need a state 
only to suppress the resistance of the exploiters, and only the proletariat is in a 
position to direct this suppression, carry it out; for the proletariat is the only class 
that is consistently revolutionary, the only class that can unite all the toilers and 
the exploited in the struggle against the bourgeoisie, in completely displacing it. 

The exploiting classes need political rule in order to maintain exploitation, i.e., 
in the selfish interests of an in significant minority against the vast majority of the 
people. The exploited classes need political rule in order completely 

page 29 

to abolish all exploitation, i.e., in the interests of the vast majority of the people, 
and against the insignificant minority consisting of the modern slave-owners ~ 
the landlords and the capitalists. 

The petty-bourgeois democrats, those sham Socialists who have replaced class 
struggle by dreams of class harmony, even pictured the socialist transformation in 
a dreamy fashion ~ not as the overthrow of the rule of the exploiting class, but as 
the peaceful submission of the minority to the majority which has become 
conscious of its aims. This petty-bourgeois Utopia which is inseparably connected 
with the idea of the state being above classes, led in practice to the betrayal of the 
interests of the, toiling classes, as was shown, for example, by the history the 
French revolutions of 1848 and 1871, and by the experience of "Socialist" 
participation in bourgeois cabinets in England, France, Italy and other countries at 
the end of the nineteenth and the beginning of the twentieth centuries. 

Marx fought all his life against this petty-bourgeois Socialism ~ now 
resurrected in Russia by the Socialist-Revolutionary and Menshevik parties. He 
applied his teaching on the class struggle consistently, down to the teaching on 
political power, the teaching on the state. 

The overthrow of bourgeois rule can be accomplished only by the proletariat, 
as the particular class whose economic conditions of existence prepare it for this 
task and provide it with the possibility and the power to perform it. While the 
bourgeoisie breaks up and disintegrates the peasantry and all the petty-bourgeois 
strata, it welds together, unites and organizes the proletariat. Only the proletariat - 
- by virtue of the economic role it plays in large-scale production ~ is capable of 
being the leader of all the toiling and exploited 

page 30 

masses, whom the bourgeoisie exploits, oppresses and crushes often not less, but 
more, than it does the proletarians, but who are incapable of waging an 
independent struggle for their emancipation. 

The teaching on the class struggle, when applied by Marx to the question of the 
state and of the socialist revolution, leads of necessity to the recognition of the 
political rule of the proletariat, of its dictatorship, i.e., of power shared with none 
and relying directly upon the armed force of the masses. The overthrow of the 
bourgeoisie can be achieved only by the proletariat becoming transformed into the 
ruling class, capable of crushing the inevitable and desperate resistance of the 
bourgeoisie, and of organizing all the toiling and exploited masses for the new 
economic order. 

The proletariat needs state Power, the centralized organization of force, the 
organization of violence, both to crush the resistance of the exploiters and to lead 
the enormous mass of the population ~ the peasantry, the petty bourgeoisie, the 
semi-proletarians ~ in the work of organizing socialist economy. 

By educating the workers' party, Marxism educates the vanguard of the 
proletariatat which is capable of assuming power and of leading the whole people 
to Socialism, of directing and organizing the new order, of being the teacher, the 
guide, the leader of all the toilers and exploited in the task of building up their 
social life without the bourgeoisie and against the bourgeoisie. As against this, the 
opportunism which now holds sway trains the membership of the workers' party 
to be the representatives of the better-paid workers, who lose touch with the rank 
and file, "get along" fairly well under capitalism, and sell their birthright for 

page 31 

a mess of pottage, i.e., renounce their role of revolutionary leaders of the people 
against the bourgeoisie. 

"The state, i.e., the proletariat organized as the ruhng class," this theory of 
Marx is inseparably bound with all he taught on the revolutionary role of the 
proletariat in history. The culmination of this role is the proletarian dictatorship, 
the political rule of the proletariat. 

But if the proletariat needs a state as a special form of organization of violence 
against the bourgeoisie, the following conclusion suggests itself: is it conceivable 
that such an organization can be created without first abolishing, destroying the 
state machine created by the bourgeoisie /6>r itself! The Communist Manifesto 
leads straight to this conclusion, and it is of this conclusion that Marx speaks 
when summing up the experience of the Revolution of 1848-51. 


Marx sums up his conclusions from the Revolution of 1848-51, on the question 
of the state we are concerned with, in the following argument contained in The 
Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte : 

"But the revolution is thoroughgoing. It is still journeying through 
purgatory. It does its work methodically. By December 2, 1851 [the day of 
Louis Bonaparte's coup d'etat], it had completed one half of it preparatory 
work; it is now completing the other half. (First it perfected the 
parliamentay power, in order to be able to overthrow it. Now that it has 
attained this, it perfects the executive power, reduces it to its purest 
expression, isolates it, sets 

page 32 

it up against itself as the sole target, in order to concentrate all its forces 
of destruction against it [italics ours]. And when it has done this second 
half of its preliminary work, Europe will leap from its seat and exultantly 
exclaim: Well grubbed, old mole! 

"This executive power with its enormous bureaucratic and military 
organization, with its ingenious state machinery, embracing wide strata, 
with a host of officials numbering half a million, besides an army of 
another half million, this appalling parasitic body, which enmeshes the 
body of French society like a net and chokes all its pores, sprang up in the 
days of the absolute monarchy, with the decay of the feudal system, which 
it helped to hasten. ..." The first French Revolution developed 
centralization, "but at the same time" it increased "the extent, the attributes 
and the number of agents of governmental power. Napoleon perfected this 
state machinery. The Legitimatist monarchy and the July monarchy added 
nothing but a greater division of labour. . . . Finally, in its struggle against 
the revolution, the parliamentary republic found itself compelled to 
strengthen, along with the repressive measures, the resources and 

centralization of governmental power. Allrevolutionsperfecte 
dthismachineinstead ofs ma s hin g it [italics ours]. The 
parties that contended in turn for domination regarded the possession of 
this huge state ediface as the principal spoils of the victor." {The 
Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaperte, pp. 98-99, fourth edition, 
Hamburg, 1907.)[io] 

In this remarkable argument Marxism takes a tremendous step forward 
compared with the Communist Manifesto. In the latter, the question of the state is 
still treated in an ex- 
page 33 

tremely abstract manner, in the most general terms and expressions. In the above- 
quoted passage, the question is treated in a concrete manner, and the conclusion is 
extremely precise, definite, practical and palpable: all the revolutions which have 
occurred up to now perfected the state machine, whereas it must be broken, 

This conclusion is the chief and fundamental point in the Marxian teaching on 
the state. And it is precisely this fundamental point which has been not only 
complctdy forgotten by the dominant official Social-Democratic parties, but 
simply distorted (as we shall see later) by the foremost theoretician of the Second 
International, K. Kautsky. 

The Communist Manifesto gives a general summary of history; which compels 
us to regard the state as the organ of class rule and leads us to the inevitable 
conclusion that the proletariat cannot overthrow the bourgeoisie without first 
capturing political power, without attaining political supremacy, without 
transforming the state into the "proletariat organized as the ruling class"; and that 
this proletarian state will begin to wither away immediately after its victory, 
because the state is unnecessary and cannot exist in a society in which there are 
no class antagonisms. The question as to how, from the point of view of historical 
development, the replacement of the bourgeois state by the proletarian state is to 
take place is not raised here. 

This is the question Marx raises and answers in 1852. True to his philosophy of 
dialectical materialism, Marx takes as his basis the historical experience of the 
great years of revolution, 1848 to 1851. Here, as everywhere, his teaching is the 
summing up of experience, illuminated by a profound philosophical conception of 
the world and a rich knowledge of history. 

page 34 

The problem of the state is put concretely: how did the bourgeois state, the state 
machine necessary for the rule of the bourgeoisie, come into being historically? 
What changes did it undergo, what evolution did it perform in the course of the 

bourgeois revolutions and in the face of the independent actions of the oppressed 
classes? What are the tasks of the proletariat in relation to this state machine? 

The centralized state power that is peculiar to bourgeois society came into 
being in the period of the fall of absolutism. Two institutions are most 
characteristic of this state machine: the bureaucracy and the standing army. In 
their works, Marx and Engels repeatedly show that it is the bourgeoisie with 
whom these institutions are connected by thousands of threads. The experience of 
every worker illustrates this connection in an extremely graphic and impressive 
manner. From its own bitter experience, the working class learns to recognize this 
connection; that is why it so easily grasps and so firmly learns the doctrine which 
shows the inevitability of this connection, a doctrine which the petty-bourgeois 
democrats either ignorantly and flippantly deny, or, still more flippantly, admit 
"in general," while forgetting to draw the corresponding practical conclusions. 

The bureaucracy and the standing army are a "parasite" on the body of 
bourgeois society ~ a parasite created by the internal antagonisms which rend that 
society, but a parasite which "chokes" all its vital pores. The Kautskyite 
opportunism now dominating official Social-Democracy considers the view that 
the state is a parasitic organism to be the peculiar and exclusive attribute of 
anarchism. It goes without saying that this distortion of Marxism is of extreme 
advantage to those philistines who have reduced Socialism to the unheard of 
disgrace of justifying and embellishing the im- 

page 35 

perialist war by applying to it the concept of "defence of the fatherland"; but it is 
unquestionably a distortion, nevertheless. 

The development, perfection and strengthening of the bureaucratic and military 
apparatus proceeded during all the numerous bourgeois revolutions which Europe 
has witnessed since the fall of feudalism. In particular, it is precisely the petty 
bourgeoisie that is attracted to the side of the big bourgeoisie and is subordinated 
to it to a large extent by means of this apparatus, which provides the upper strata 
of the peasantry, small artisans, tradesmen and the like with comparatively 
comfortable, quiet and respectable jobs which raise their holders above the 
people. Consider what happened in Russia during the six months following 
February 27, 1917. The official posts which formerly were given by preference to 
members of the Black Hundreds have now become the spoils of the Cadets, 
Mensheviks and Socialist-Revolutionaries. Nobody has really thought of 
introducing any serious reforms; every effort has been made to put them off "until 
the Constituent Assembly meets"; and to steadily put off the convocation of the 
Constituent Assembly until the end of the war! But there has been no delay, no 
waiting for the Constituent Assembly in the matter of dividing the spoils, of 
getting the soft jobs of ministers, vice-ministers, governors general, etc., etc.! The 
game of combinations that played in forming the government has been, in 
essence, only "an expression of this division and redivision of the "spoils," which 

has been going on high and low, throughout the country, in every department of 
central and local government. The six months between February 27 and August 
27, 1917, can be summed up, objectively summed up beyond all dispute, as 
follows: reforms shelved, distribution of official jobs ac- 

page 36 

complished and "mistakes" in the distribution corrected by a few redistributions. 

But the more the bureaucratic apparatus is "redistributed" among the various 
bourgeois and petty-bourgeois parties (among the Cadets, Socialist- 
Revolutionaries and Mensheviks in the case of Russia), the more clearly the 
oppressed classes, and the proletariat at their head, become conscious of their 
irreconcilable hostility to the whole of bourgeois society. That is why it becomes 
necessary for all bourgeois parties, even for the most democratic and 
"revolutionary-democratic" among them, to intensify repressive measures against 
the apparatus of repression, i.e., that very state machine. This course of events 
compels the revolution ''to concentrate all its forces of destruction " against the 
state power, and to set itself the aim, not of perfecting the state machine, but of 
smashing and destroying it. 

It was not logical reasoning, but the actual development of events, the living 
experience of 1848-51, that led to the problem being presented in this way. The 
extent to which Marx held strictly to the solid ground of historical experience can 
be seen from the fact that, in 1852, he did not yet concretely raise the question of 
what was to take the place of the state machine that was to be destroyed. 
Experience had not yet provided material for the solution of this problem which 
history placed on the order of the day later on, in 1871. In 1852 all that it was 
possible to establish with the accuracy of scientific observation was that the 
proletarian revolution had 

ap p r o a c h e dtht task of "concentrating all its forces of destruction" against 
the state power, of "smashing" the state machine. 

page 37 

Here the question may arise: is it correct to generalize the experience, 
observations and conclusions of Marx, to apply them to a field that is wider than 
the history of France during the three years 1848-51? Before proceeding to deal 
with this question let us first recall a remark made by Engels, and then examine 
the facts. In his introduction to the third edition of The Eighteenth Brumaire 
Engels wrote: 

"... France is the land where, more than anywhere else, the historical 
class struggles were each time fought out to a decision, and where, 
consequently, the changing political forms within which they move and in 
which their results are summarized have been stamped in the sharpest 
outlines. The centre of feudalism in the Middle Ages, the model country of 

unified monarchy, resting on estates, since the Renaissance, France 
demohshed feudahsm in the Great Revolution and estabhshed the 
unalloyed rule of the bourgeoisie in a classical purity unequalled by any 
other European land. And the struggle of the upward striving proletariat 
against the ruling bourgeoisie appeared here in an acute form unknown 
elsewhere." (P. 4, 1907 edition.) 

The last sentence is out of date, inasmuch as since 1871 a lull has set in in the 
revolutionary struggle of the French proletariat; although, long as this lull may be, 
it does not at all preclude the possibility that, in the coming proletarian revolution, 
France may show herself to be the classic land of the class struggle to a finish. 

Let us, however, cast a general glance over the history of the advanced 
countries at the end of the nineteenth and beginning of the twentieth centuries. We 
shall see that the same process has been going on more slowly, in more varied 

page 38 

forms, on a much wider field: on the one hand, the develepment of "parliamentary 
power" both in the republican countries (France, America, Switzerland), and in 
the monarchies (England, Germany to a certain extent, Italy, the Scandinavian 
countries, etc.); on the other hand, a struggle for power among the various 
bourgeois and petty-bourgeois parties which distributed and redistributed the 
"spoils" of office, while the foundations of bourgeois society remained 
unchanged; and, finally, the perfection and consolidation of the "executive 
power," its bureaucratic and military apparatus. 

There is not the slightest doubt that these features are common to the whole of 
the modern evolution of all capitalist states in general. In the three years 1848-51 
France displayed, in a swift, sharp, concentrated form, the very same processes of 
development which are peculiar to the whole capitalist world. 

Imperialism ~ the era of bank capital, the era of gigantic capitalist monopolies, 
the era of the development of monopoly capitalism into state-monopoly 
capitalism ~ has demonstrated with particular force an extraordinary strenghening 
of the "state machine" and an unprecedented growth of its military apparatus in 
connection with the intensification of repressive measures against the proletariat 
both in the monarchical and in the freest, republican countries. 

World history is now undoubtedly leading on an incomparably larger scale than 
in 1852 to the "concentration of all the forces" of the proletarian revolution on the 
"destruction" of the state machine. 

What the proletariat will put in its place is indicated by the extremely 
instructive material furnished by the Paris Commune. 

page 39 

BY MARX IN 1852m 

In 1907, Mehring, in the magazine Neue Zeitvm (Vol. XXV, 2, p. 164), 
published extracts from a letter from Marx to Weydemeyer dated March 5, 1852. 
This letter, among other things, contains the following remarkable observation: 

"... And now as to myself, no credit is due to me for discovering the 
existence of classes in modern society, nor yet the struggle between them. 
Long before me bourgeois historians had described the historical 
development of this struggle of the classes and bourgeois economists the 
economic anatomy of the classes. What I did that was new was to prove: 
1) that the existence of classes is only bound up with particular historical 
phases in the development of production [historische Entwicklung sphasen 
der Produktion ]; 2) that the class struggle necessarily leads to the 
dictatorship of the proletariat; 3) that this dictatorship itself only 
constitutes the transition to the abolition of all classes and to a classless 
society. . . ."[i2] 

In these words Marx succeeded in expressing with striking clarity, firstly, the 
chief and radical difference between his teaching and that of the foremost and 
most profound thinkers of the bourgeoisie; and, secondly, the essence of his 
teaching on the state. 

It is often said and written that the main point in Marx's teachings is the class 
struggle; but this is not true. And from this untruth very often springs the 
opportunist distortion of Marxism, its falsification in such a way as to make it ac- 

* Added to the second edition. 
page 40 

ceptable to the bourgeoisie. For the doctrine of the class struggle was created not 
by Marx, but by the bourgeoisie before Marx, and generally speaking it is 
acceptable to the bourgeoisie. Those who recognize only the class struggle are not 
yet Marxists; they may be found to be still within the boundaries of bourgeois 
thinking and bourgeois politics. To confine Marxism to the doctrine of the class 
struggle means curtailing Marxism, distorting it, reducing it to something which is 
acceptable to the bourgeoisie. Only he is a Marxist who extends the recognition of 
the class struggle to the recogition of the dictatorship of the proletariat. This is 
what constitutes the most profound difference between the Marxist and the 
ordinary petty (as well as big) bourgeois. This is the touchstone on which the real 
understanding and recognition of Marxism is to be tested. And it is not surprising 
that when the history of Europe brought the working class face to face with this 

question as a practical issue, not only all the opportunists and reformists, but all 
the "Kautskyites" (people who vacillate between reformism and Marxism) proved 
to be miserable philistines and petty-bourgeois democrats who repudiate the 
dictatorship of the proletariat. Kautsky's pamphlet. The Dictatorship of the 
Proletariat, published in August 1918, i.e., long after the first edition of the 
present book, is a perfect example of petty-bourgeois distortion of Marxism and 
base renunciation of it in practice, while hypocritically recognizing it in words 
(see my pamphlet. The Proletarian Revolution and the Renegade Kautsky , 
Petrograd and Moscow, 1918). 

Present-day opportunism in the person of its principal representative, the ex- 
Marxist, K. Kautsky, fits in completely with Marx's characterization of the 
bourgeois position quoted above, for this opportunism limits the recognition of 
the class 

page 41 

Struggle to the sphere of bourgeois relationships. (Within this sphere, within its 
framework, not a single educated liberal will refuse to recognize the class struggle 
"in principle" !) Opportunism does not extend the recognition of class struggle to 
what is the cardinal point, to the period of transition from capitalism to 
Communism, to the period of the overthrow and the complete abolition of the 
bourgeoisie. In reality, this period inevitably is a period of an unprecedentedly 
violent class struggle in unprecedentedly acute forms and, consequently, during 
this period the state must inevitably be a state that is democratic in a new way (for 
the proletariat and the propertyless in general) and dictatorial in a new way 
(against the bourgeoisie). 

To proceed. The essence of Marx's teaching on the state has been mastered 
only by those who understand that the dictatorship of a single class is necessary 
not only for every class society in general, not only for the proletariat which has 
overthrown the bourgeoisie, but also for the entire historical period which 
separates capitalism from "classless society," from Communism. The forms of 
bourgeois states are extremely varied, but their essence is the same: all these 
states, whatever their form, in the final analysis are inevitably the dictatorship of 
the bourgeoisie. The transition from capitalism to Communism certainly cannot 
but yield a tremendous abundance and variety of political forms, but the essence 
will inevitably be the same: the dictatorship of the proletariat. 

page 42 






It is well known that in the autumn of 1870, a few months before the 
Commune, Marx warned the Paris workers that any attempt to overthrow the 
government would be the folly of despair. But when, in March 1871, a decisive 
battle was forced upon the workers and they accepted it, when the uprising had 
become a fact, Marx greeted the proletarian revolution with the greatest 
enthusiasm, in spite of unfavourable auguries. Marx did not assume the rigidly 
pedantic attitude of condemning an "untimely" movement as did the ill-famed 
Russian renegade from Marxism, Plekhanov, who, in November 1905, wrote 
encouragingly about the workers' and peasants' struggle, but, after December 
1905, cried, liberal fashion: "They should not have taken to arms." 

page 43 

Marx, however, was not only enthusiastic about the heroism of the 
Communards who, as he expressed it, "stormed Heaven." Although the mass 
revolutionary movement did not achieve its aim, he regarded it as a historic 
experience of enormous importance, as a certain advance of the world proletarian 
revolution, as a practical step that was more important than hundreds of programs 
and arguments. To analyze this experiment, to draw tactical lessons from it, to re- 
examine his theory in the light of it ~ that was the task that Marx set himself. 

The only "correction" Marx thought it necessary to make in the Communist 
Manifesto, he made on the basis of the revolutionary experience of the Paris 

The last preface to the new German edition of the Communist Manifesto, 
signed by both its authors, is dated June 24, 1872. In this preface the authors, Karl 
Marx and Frederick Engels, say that the program of the Communist Manifesto 
"has in some details become antiquated," and they go on to say: 

''One thing especially was proved by the Commune, viz., that 'the 
working class cannot simply lay hold of the ready-made state machinery, 
and weild it for its own purposes y\m 

The authors took the words that are in single quotation marks in this passage 
from Marx's book. The Civil War in France, 

Thus, Marx and Engels regarded one principal and fundamental lesson of the 
Paris Commune as being of such enormous importance that they introduced it as a 
substantial correction into the Communist Manifesto. 

page 44 

It is extremely characteristic that it is precisely this substantial correction that 
has been distorted by the opportunists, and its meaning probably is not known to 
nine- tenths, if not ninety-nine hundredths, of the readers of the Communist 
Manifesto. We shall deal with this distortion more fully further on, in a chapter 
devoted specially to distortions. Here it will be sufficient to note that the current, 
vulgar "interpretation" of Marx's famous utterance just quoted is that Marx here 
allegedly emphasizes the idea of slow development in contradistinction to the 
seizure of power, and so on. 

As a matter of fact, exactlytheoppositeisthe 
case. Marx's idea is that the working class must breakup, 
s ma s htht "ready-made state machinery," and not confine itself merely to 
laying hold of it. 

On April 12, 1871, i.e., just at the time of the Commune, Marx wrote to 

"If you look at the last chapter of my Eighteenth Brumaire, you will 
find that I say that the next attempt of the French Revolution will be no 
longer, as before, to transfer the bureaucratic-military machine from one 
hand to another but to s ma s h it" (Marx's italics ~ the original is 
''zerbrechen "), "and this is the preliminary condition for every real 
people's revolution on the continent. And this is what our heroic Party 
comrades in Paris are attempting." {Neue Zeit, Vol. XX, 1, 1901-02, p. 
700.)[i4] (The letters of Marx to Kugelmann have appeared in Russian in 
no less than two editions, one of which I edited and supplied with a 

The words, "to smash the bureaucratic-military machine," briefly express the 
principal lesson of Marxism regarding the tasks of the proletariat during a 
revolution in relation to the 

page 45 

State. And it is precisely this lesson that has been not only completely forgotten, 
but positively distorted by the prevailing, Kautskyite, "interpretation" of 

As for Marx's reference to The Eighteenth Brumaire, we have quoted the 
corresponding passage in full above. 

It is interesting to note, in particular, two points in the above-quoted argument 
of Marx. First, he confines his conclusion to the continent. This was 
understandable in 1871, when England was still the model of a purely capitalist 
country, but without a militqary clique and, to a considerable degree, without a 
bureaucracy. Hence, Marx excluded England, where a revolution, even a people's 
revolution, then seemed possible, and indeed was possible, without the 
preliminary condition of destroying the ready-made state machinery." 

Today, in 1917, in the epoch of the first great imperialist war, this qualification 
made by Marx is no longer valid. Both England and America, the biggest and the 
last representatives ~ in the whole world ~ of Anglo-Saxon "liberty," in the sense 
that they had no militarist cliques and bureaucracy, have today completely sunk 
into the all-European filthy, bloody morass of bureaucratic-military institutions 
which subordinate everything to themselves and trample everything underfoot. 
Today, in England and in America, too, "the preliminary condition for every real 
people's revolution" is the 

s m a s h i n g, tht d e s t r u c t i o n of tht "ready-made state machinery" 
(perfected in those countries, between 1914 and 1917, up to the "European," 
general imperialist standard). 

Secondly, particular attention should be paid to Marx's extremely profound 
remark that the destruction of the bureaucratic-military state machine is "the 
preliminary condi- 

page 46 

tion for every x^dX people's revolution." This idea of a "people's" revolution seems 
strange coming from Marx, so that the Russian Plekhanovites and Mensheviks, 
those followers of Struve who wish to be regarded as Marxists, might possibly 
declare such an expression to be a "slip of the pen" on Marx's part. They have 
reduced Marxism to such a state of wretchedly liberal distortion that nothing 
exists for them beyond the antithesis between bourgeois revolution and 
proletarian revolution ~ and even this antithesis they interpret in an extremely 
lifeless way. 

If we take the revolutions of the twentieth century as examples we shall, of 
course, have to admit that the Portuguese and the Turkish revolutions are both 
bourgeois revolutions. Neither of them, however, is a "people's" revolution, 
inasmuch as in neither does the mass of the people, its enormous majority, come 
out actively, independently, with its own economic and political demands to any 
noticeable degree. On the contrary, although the Russian bourgeois revolution of 
1905-07 displayed no such "brilliant" successes as at times fell to the lot of the 
Portuguese and Turkish revolutions, it was undoubtedly a "real people's" 
revolution, since the mass of the people, its majority, the very lowest social strata, 
crushed by oppression and exploitation, rose independently and placed on the 
entire course of the revolution the impress of their own demands, of their attempts 

to build in their own way a new society in place of the old society that was being 

In Europe, in 1871, there was not a single country on the Continent in which 
the proletariat constituted the majority of the people. A "people's" revolution, one 
that actually swept the majority into its stream, could be such only if it embraced 
both the proletariat and the peasantry. These 

page 47 

two classes then constituted the "people." These two classes are united by the fact 
that the "bureaucratic-military state machine" oppresses, crushes, exploits them. 
To smash this machine, to break it up — this is truly in the interest of the "people," 
of the majority, of the workers and most of the peasants, this is "the preliminary 
condition" for a free alliance between the poorest peasants and the proletarians, 
whereas without such an alliance democracy is unstable and socialist 
transformation is impossible. 

As is well known, the Paris Commune was indeed working its way toward such 
an alliance, although it did not reach its goal owing to a number of circumstances, 
internal and external. 

Consequently, in speaking of a "real people's revolution," Marx, without in the 
least forgetting the peculiar character istics of the petty bourgeoisie (he spoke a 
great deal about them and often), took strict account of the actual balance of class 
forces in the majority of continental countries in Europe in 1871. On the other 
hand, he stated that the "smashing" of the state machine was required by the 
interests of both the workers and the peasants, that it unites them, that it places 
before them the common task of removing the "parasite" and replacing it by 
something new. 

By what exactly? 


In 1847, in the Communist Manifesto, Marx's answer to this question was as yet 
a purely abstract one, or, to speak more correctly, it was an answer that indicated 
the tasks, but 

page 48 

not the ways of accomplishing them. The answer given in the Communist 
Manifesto was that this machine was to be replaced by "the proletariat organized 
as the ruling class," by the "winning of the battle of democracy." 

Marx did not indulge in Utopias; he expected the experience of the mass 
movement to provide the reply to the question as to what specific forms this 
organization of the proletariat as the ruling class will assume and as to the exact 
manner in which this organization will be combined with the most complete, most 
consistent "winning of the battle of democracy." 

Marx subjected the experience of the Commune, meagre as it was, to the most 
careful analysis in The Civil War in France. Let us quote the most important 
passages of this work. 

Originating from the Middle Ages, there developed in the nineteenth 
century "the centralized State power, with its ubiquitous organs of 
standing army, police, bureaucracy, clergy, and judicature." With the 
development of class antagonisms between capital and labour, "the State 
power assumed more and more the character of the national power of 
capital over labour, of a public force or ganized for social enslavement, of 
an engine of class despotism. After every revolution marking a 
progressive phase in the class struggle, the purely repressive character of 
the State power stands out in bolder and bolder relief." After the 
Revolution of 1848-49, the State power became "the national war engine 
of capital against labour." The Second Empire consolidated this. 

"The direct antithesis to the empire was the Commune." It was "the 
positive form" of "a Republic that was not 

page 49 

only to supersede the monarchical form of class-rule itself." 

What was this "positive" form of the proletarian, the socialist republic? What 
was the state it began to create? 

"... The first decree of the Commune . . . was the suppression of the 
standing army, and the substitution for it of the armed people." 

This demand now figures in the program of every party claiming the name of 
Socialist. But the real worth of their programs is best shown by the behaviour of 
our Socialist-Revolutionaries and Mensheviks, who, right after the revolution of 
February 27, actually refused to carry out this demand! 

"The Commune was formed of the municipal councillors, chosen by 
universal suffrage in the various wards of the town, responsible and 
revocable at short terms. The majority of its members were naturally 
working men, or acknowledged representatives of the working class. . . . 
Instead of continuing to be the agent of the Central Government, the 
police was at once stripped of its political attributes, and turned into the 
responsible and at all times revocable agent of the Commune. So were the 

officials of all other branches of the Administration. From the members of 
the Commune downwards, the public service had to be done at workmen's 
wages. The vested interests and the representation allowances of the high 
dignitaries of State disappeared along with the high dignitaries them 
selves. . . . 

"Having once got rid of the standing army and the police, the physical 
force elements of the old Government, 

page 50 

the Commune was anxious to break the spiritual force of repression, the 
'parson-power'. . . . 

"The judicial functionaries were to be divested of that sham 
independence . . . they were to be elective, responsible, and revocable. "[i6] 

Thus the Commune appears to have replaced the smashed state machine "only" 
by fuller democracy: abolitiorn of the standing army; all officials to be elected 
and subject to recall. But as a matter of fact this "only" signifies a gigantic 
replacement of certain institutions by other institutions of a fundamentally 
different order. This is exactly a case of "quantity becoming transformed into 
quality": democracy, introduced as fully and consistently as is at all conceivable, 
is transformed from bourgeois democracy into proletarian democracy; from the 
state (= a special force for the suppression of a particular class) into something 
which is really no longer the state. 

It is still necessary to suppress the bourgeoisie and crush its resistance. This 
was particurly necessary for the Commune; and one of the reasons for its defeat is 
that it did not do this with sufficient determination. But the organ of supression is 
now the majority of the population, and not a minority, as was always the case 
under slavery, serfdom and wage slavery. And since the majority of the people 
/^^^// suppresses its oppressors, a "special force" for suppression i^n o 
longernecessary !In this sense the state begins to wither away . Instead 
of the special institutions of a privileged minority (privileged officialdom, the 
chiefs of the standing army), the majority itself can directly fulfil all these 
functions, and the more the functions of state power devolve 

page 51 

upon the people as a whole the less need is there for the existence of this power. 

In this connection the following measures of the Commune emphasized by 
Marx are particularly noteworthy: the abolition of all representation allowances, 
and of all monetary privileges in the case of officials, the reduction of the 
remuneration of all servants of the state to the level of ''workmen's wages.'' This 
shows more clearly than anything else the turn from bourgeois democracy to 
proletarian democracy, from the democracy of the oppressors to the democracy of 
the oppressed classes, from the state as a "special force " for the suppression of a 

particular class to the suppression of the oppressors by the general force of the 
majority of the people ~ the workers and the peasants. And it is precisely on this 
particularly striking point, perhaps the most important as far as the problem of the 
state is concerned, that the teachings of Marx have been most completely 
forgotten! In popular commentaries, the number of which is legion, this is not 
mentioned. It is "good form" to keep silent about it as if it were a piece of old- 
fashioned "na&iumlvete," just as the Christians, after their religion had been 
given the status of a state religion, "forgot" the "na&iumlvete" of primitive 
Christianity with its democratic revolutionary spirit. 

The reduction of the remuneration of the highest state officials seems to be 
"simply" a demand of na&iumlve, primitive democracy. One of the "founders" of 
modern opportunism, the ex-Social-Democrat, Eduard Bernstein, has more than 
once indulged in repeating the vulgar bourgeois jeers at "primitive" democracy. 
Like all opportunists, and like the present Kautskyites, he utterly failed to 
understand that, first of all, the transition from capitalism to Socialism is 
impossible without a certain "reversion" to "primitive" democracy (for 

page 52 

how else can the majority, and then the whole population without exception, 
proceed to discharge state functions?); and, secondly, that "primitive democracy" 
based on capitalism and capitalist culture is not the same as primitive democracy 
in prehistoric or precapitalist times. Capitalist culture has created large-scale 
production, factories, railways, the postal service, telephones, etc., and on this 
basis the great majority of the functions of the old "state power" have become so 
simplified and can be reduced to such exceedingly simple operations of 
registration, filing and checking that they can be easily performed by every 
literate person, can quite easily be performed for ordinary "workmen's wages," 
and that these functions can (and must) be stripped of every shadow of privilege, 
of every semblance of "official grandeur." 

All officials, without exception, elected and subject to recall at any time, their 
salaries reduced to the level of ordinary "workmen's wages" ~ these simple and 
"self-evident" democratic measures, while completely uniting the interests of the 
workers and the majority of the peasants, at the same time serve as a bridge 
leading from capitalism to Socialism. These measures concern the reconstruction 
of the state, the purely political reconstruction of society; but, of course, they 
acquire their full meaning and significance only in connection with the 
"expropriation of the expropriators" either being accomplished or in preparation, 
i.e., with the transformation of capitalist private ownership of the means of 
production into social ownership. 

"The Commune," Marx wrote, "made that catchword of bourgeois 
revolutions, cheap government, a reality, by destroying the two greatest 
sources of expenditure ~ the standing army and State functionarism." 

page 53 

From the peasantry, as from other sections of the petty bourgeoisie, only an 
insignificant few "rise to the top," "get on in the world" in the bourgeois sense, 
i.e., become either well-to-do people, bourgeois, or officials in secure and 
privileged positions. In every capitalist country where there is a peasantry (as 
there is in most capitalist countries), the vast majority of the peasants are 
oppressed by the government and long for its overthrow, long for "cheap" 
government. This can be achieved only by the proletariat; and by achieving it, the 
proletariat at the same time takes a step towards the socialist reconstruction of the 


"The Commune," Marx wrote, "was to be a working, not a 
parliamentary, body, executive and legislative at the same time. ..." 

"... Instead of deciding once in three or six years which member of the 
ruling class was to represent and repress [ver- und zertreten ] the people in 
Parliamert, universal sufferage was to serve the people, constituted in 
Communes, as individual suffrage serves every other employer in the 
search for the workers, foremen and bookkeepers for his business. "[H] 

Owing to the prevalence of social-chauvinism and opportunism, this 
remarkable criticism of parliamentarism made in 1871 also belongs now to the 
"forgotten words" of Marxism. The professional Cabinet Ministers and 
parliamentarians, the traitors to the proletariat and the "practical" Socialists of our 
day, have left all criticism of parliamentarism to the 

page 54 

anarchists, and, on this wonderfully reasonable ground, they denounce all 
criticism of parliamentarism as "anarchism" ! ! It is not surprising that the 
proletariat of the "advanced" parliamentary countries, disgusted with such 
"Socialists" as the Scheidemanns, Davids, Legiens, Sembats, Renaudels, 
Hendersons, Vanderveldes, Staunings, Brantings, Bissolatis and Co., has been 
with increasing frequency giving its sympathies to anarcho-syndicalism, in spite 
of the fact that the latter is but the twin brother of opportunism. 

For Marx however revolutionary dialectics was never the empty fashionable 
phrase, the toy rattle, which Plekhanov, Kautsky and the others have made of it. 
Marx knew how to break with anarchism ruthlessly for its inability to make use 
even of the "pig-sty" of bourgeois parliamentarism, especially when the situation 
is obviously not revolutionary; but at the same time he knew how to subject 
parliamentarism to genuine revolutionary-proletarian criticism. 

To decide once every few years which member of the ruhng class is to repress 
and crush the people through parliament ~ such is the real essence of bourgeois 
parliamentarism, not only in parliamentary-constitutional monarchies, but also in 
the most democratic republics. 

But if we deal with the question of the state, and if we consider 
parliamentarism, as one of the institutions of the state, from the point of view of 
the tasks of the proletariat in this field, what is the way out of parliamentarism? 
How can it be dispensed with? 

Again and again we have to repeat: the lessons of Marx, based on the study of 
the Commune, have been so completely forgotten that the present-day "Social- 
Democrat" (read present-day traitor to Socialism) really cannot under- 

page 55 

Stand any criticism of parliamentarism, other than anarchist or reactionary 
criticism. The way out of parliamentarism is not, of course, the abolition of 
representative institutions and the electorial principle, but the conversion of the 
representative institutions from talking shops to "working" bodies. "The 
Commune was to be a working, not a parliamentary, body, executive and 
legislative at the same time." 

"A working, not a parliamentary, body" ~ this hits straight from the shoulder at 
the present-day parliamentarians and parliamentary "lap dogs" of Social- 
Democracy! Take any parliamentary country, from America to Switzerland, from 
France to England, Norway and so forth ~ in these countries the real business of 
"state" is performed behind the scenes and is carried on by the departments, 
chancelleries and General Staffs. Parliament itself is given up to talk for the 
special purpose of fooling the "common people." This is so true that even in the 
Russian republic, a bourgeois-democratic republic, all these sins of 
parliamentarism were immediately revealed, even before it managed to set up a 
real parliament. The heroes of rotten philistinism, such as the Skobelevs and 
Tseretelis, the Chernovs and Avksentyevs, have even succeeded in polluting the 
Soviets after the fashion of most disgusting bourgeois parliamentarism and to 
convert them into mere talking shops. In the Soviets, Messrs. the "Socialist" 
Ministers are duping the credulous rustics with phrase-mongering and resolutions. 
In the government itself a sort of permanent quadrille is going on in order that, on 
the one hand, as many Socialist-Revolutionaries and Mensheviks as possible may 
in turn get near the "pie," the lucrative and honourable posts, and that, on the 
other hand, the "attention of the 

page 56 

people" may be engaged. Meanwhile, it is in the chanceller ies and staffs that they 
"do" the business of "state." 

Dyelo Naroda, the organ of the ruhng "Sociahst-Revolutionary" Party, recently 
admitted in an editorial article ~ with the matchless candour of people of "good 
society," in which "all" are engaged in political prostitution ~ that even in the 
ministries headed by the "Socialists" (save the mark!), the whole bureaucratic 
apparatus has in fact remained as of old, is working in the old way and quite 
"freely" sabotaging revolutionary measures! Even without this admission, does 
not the actual history of the participation of the Socialist Revolutionaries and 
Mensheviks in the government prove this? Noteworthy about it is only the fact 
that, in the ministerial company of the Cadets, Messrs. Chernovs, Rusanovs, 
Zenzinovs and the other editors of Dyelo Naroda have so completely lost all sense 
of shame as to unblushingly proclaim, as if it were a mere bagatelle, that in 
"their" ministries everything has remained as of old! ! Revolutionary-democratic 
phrases to gull the rural Simple Simons; bureaucracy and red tape to "gladden the 
heart" of the capitalists ~ that is the essence of the "honest" coalition. 

The Commune substitutes for the venal and rotten parliamentarism of 
bourgeois society institutions in which freedom of opinion and of discussion does 
not degenerate into deception, for the parliamentarians themselves have to work, 
have to execute their own laws, have themselves to test their results in real life, 
and to render account directly to their constituents. Representative institutions 
remain, but there is no parliamentarism here as a special system, as the division of 
labour between the legislative and the executive, as a privileged position for the 
deputies. We cannot imagine democracy, even proletarian democracy, without 

page 57 

institutions, but we can and must imagine democracy without parliamentarism, if 
criticism of bourgeois society is not mere empty words for us, if the desire to 
overthrow the rule of the bourgeoisie is our earnest and sincere desire, and not a 
mere "election" cry for catching workers' votes, as it is with the Mensheviks and 
Socialist-Revolutionaries, the Scheidemanns and Legiens, the Sembats and 

It is extremely instructive to note that, in speaking of the functions of those 
officials who are necessary for the Commune and for proletarian democracy, 
Marx compares them to the workers of "every other employer," that is, of the 
ordinary capitalist enterprise, with its "workers, foremen and bookkeepers." 

There is no trace of utopianism in Marx, in the sense that he made up or 
invented a "new" society. No, he studied the birth of the new society out 6>/the 
old, the forms of transition from the latter to the former as a natural-historical 
process. He examined the actual experience of a mass proletarian movement and 
tried to draw practical lessons from it. He "learned" from the Commune, just as all 
the great revolutionary thinkers were not afraid to learn from the experience of the 
great movements of the oppressed classes, and never addressed them with 

pedantic "homilies" (such as Plekhanov's: "they should not have taken to arms"; 
or Tsereteli's: "a class must limit itself"). 

There can be no thought of abolishing the bureaucracy at once, everywhere and 
completely. That is Utopia. But to smash the old bureaucratic machine at once and 
to begin immediately to construct a new one that will permit to abolish gradually 
all bureaucracy ~ this isn o t Utopia, this is the experience of the Commune, this 
is the direct and immediate task of the revolutionary proletariat. 

page 58 

Capitalism simplifies the functions of "state" administration; it makes it 
possible to cast "bossing" aside and to confine the whole matter to the 
organization of the proletarians (as the ruling class), which will hire "workers, 
foremen and bookkeepers" in the name of the whole of society. 

We are not Utopians, we do not indulge in "dreams" of dispensing at once with 
all administration, with all subordination; these anarchist dreams, based upon a 
lack of understanding of the tasks of the proletarian dictatorship, are totally alien 
to Marxism, and, as a matter of fact, serve only to postpone the socialist 
revolution until people are different. No, we want the socialist revolution with 
people as they are now, with people who cannot dispense with subordination, 
control and "foremen and bookkeepers." But the subordination must be to the 
armed vanguard of all the exploited and toiling people, i.e., to the proletariat. A 
beginning can and must be made at once, overnight, of replacing the specific 
"bossing" of state officials by the simple functions of "foremen and bookkeepers," 
functions which are already fully within the capacity of the average city dweller 
and can well be performed for "workmen's wages." 

We ourselves, the workers, will organize large-scale production on the basis of 
what capitalism has already created, relying on our own experience as workers, 
establishing strict, iron discipline supported by the state power of the armed 
workers; we will reduce the role of the state officials to that of simply carrying 
out our instructions as responsible, revocable, modestly paid "foremen and 
bookkeepers" (of course, with the aid of technicians of all sorts, types and 
degrees). This is our proletarian task, this is what we can and must start with in 
accomplishing the proletarian revolution. Such a beginning, on the basis of large- 
scale production, will of itself 

page 59 

lead to the gradual "withering away" of all bureaucracy, to the gradual creation of 
an order, an order without quotation marks, an order bearing no similarity to wage 
slavery, an order in which the functions of control and accounting ~ becoming 
more and more simple ~ will be performed by each in turn, will then become a 
habit and will finally die out as the special functions of a special section of the 

A witty German Social-Democrat of the seventies of the last century called the 
postal service an example of the socialist economic system. This is very true. At 
present the postal service is a business organized on the lines of a state-capitalist 
monopoly. Imperialism is gradually transforming all trusts into organizations of a 
similar type, in which, standing over the "common" toilers, who are overworked 
and starved, is the same bourgeois bureaucracy. But the mechanism of social 
management is here already to hand. We have but to overthrow the capitalists, to 
crush the resistance of these exploiters with the iron hand of the armed workers, 
to smash the bureaucratic machine of the modern state ~ and we shall have a 
splendidly-equipped mechanism, freed from the "parasite," a mechanism which 
can very well be set going by the united workers themselves, who will hire 
technicians, foremen and bookkeepers, and pay them all, as, indeed all "state" 
officials in general, a workman's wage. Here is a concrete, practical task, 
immediately possible of fulfilment in relation to all trusts, a task that will rid the 
toilers of exploitation and take account of what the Commune had already begun 
to practise (particularly in building up the state). 

To organize the whole national economy on the lines of the postal service, so 
that the technicians, foremen, bookkeepers, as well as all officials, shall receive 
salaries no higher than "a workman's wage," all under the control and leader 

page 60 

ship of the armed proletariat ~ this is our immediate aim. It is such a state, 
standing on such an economic foundation, that we need. This is what will bring 
about the abolition of parliamentarism and the preservation of representative 
institutions. This is what will rid the labouring classes of the prostitution of these 
institutions by the bourgeoisie. 


"... In a rough sketch of national organization which the Commune had 
no time to develop, it states clearly that the Commune was to be the 
political form of even the smallest country hamlet. ..." The Communes 
were to elect the "National Delegation" in Paris. 

"... The few but important functions which still would remain for a 
central government were not to be suppressed, as has been intentionally 
mis-stated, but were to be discharged by Communal, and therefore strictly 
responsible agents. 

"... The unity of the nation was not to be broken, but, on the contrary, 
to be organized by the Communal Constitution, and to become a reality by 
the destruction of the State power which claimed to be the embodiment of 
that unity independent of, and superior to, the nation itself, from which it 
was but a parasitic excrescence. While the merely repressive organs of the 

old governmental power were to be amputated, its legitimate functions 
were to be wrested from an authority usurping pre-eminence over society 
itself, and restored to the responsible agents of society." 

page 61 

To what extent the opportunists of present-day Social-Democracy have failed 
to understand ~ or perhaps it would be more true to say, did not want to 
understand ~ these observations of Marx is best shown by that book of 
Herostratean fame of the renegade Bernstein, The Premises of Socialism and the 
Tasks of Social-Democracy . It is precisely in connection with the above passage 
from Marx that Bernstein wrote that this program "... in its political content, 
displays in all its essential features the greatest similarity to the federalism of 
Proudhon. ... In spite of all the other points of difference between Marx and the 
'petty-bourgeois' Proudhon (Bernstein places the words "petty-bourgeois" in 
quotation marks in order to make it sound ironical) on these points their lines of 
reasoning run as close as could be." Of course, Bernstein continues, the 
importance of the municipalities is growing, but "it seems doubtful to me whether 
the first task of democracy would be such a dissolution {Aufl&oumlsung ) of the 
modern states and such a complete transformation {Umwandlung ) of their 
organization as is visualized by Marx and Proudhon (the formation of a National 
Assembly from delegates of the provincial or district assemblies, which, in their 
turn, would consist of delegates from the Communes), so that the whole previous 
mode of national representation would vanish completely." (Bernstein, Premises, 
German edition, 1899, pp. 134 and 136.) 

To confuse Marx's views on the "destruction of the state power ~ the parasitic 
excrescence" with Proudhon's federalism is positively monstrous! But it is no 
accident, for it never occurs to the opportunist that Marx does not speak here at all 
about federalism as opposed to centralism, but about smashing the old, bourgeois 
state machine which exists in all bourgeois countries. 

page 62 

The only thing that penetrates the opportunist's mind is what he sees around 
him, in a society of petty-bourgeois philistinism and "reformist" stagnation, 
namely, only "municipalities"! The opportunist has even forgotten how to think 
about proletarian revolution. 

It is ridiculous. But the remarkable thing is that nobody argued with Bernstein 
on this point. Bernstein has been refuted by many, especially by Plekhanov in 
Russian literature and by Kautsky in European literature, but neither of them said 
anything about this distortion of Marx by Bernstein. 

To such an extent has the opportunist forgotten how to think in a revolutionary 
way and to ponder over revolution that he attributes "federalism" to Marx and 
confuses him with the founder of anarchism, Proudhon. And Kautsky and 

Plekhanov, who claim to be orthodox Marxists and defenders of the doctrine of 
revolutionary Marxism, are silent on this point! Herein lies one of the roots of the 
extreme vulgarization of the views concerning the difference between Marxism 
and anarchism, which is characteristic of the Kautskyites and of the opportunists, 
and which we shall yet discuss later. 

Marx's above-quoted observations on the experience of the Commune contain 
not a trace of federalism. Marx agreed with Proudhon on the very point that the 
opportunist Bernstein failed to see. Marx disagreed with Proudhon on the very 
point on which Bernstein found a similarity between them. 

Marx agreed with Proudhon in that they both stood for the "smashing" of the 
present state machine. The similarity of views on this point between Marxism and 
anarchism (both Proudhon and Bakunin) neither the opportunists nor the 

page 63 

Kautskyites wish to see because on this point they have departed from Marxism. 

Marx disagreed both with Proudhon and with Bakunin precisely on the 
question of federalism (not to mention the dictatorship of the proletariat). 
Federalism as a principle, follows logically from the petty-bourgeois views of 
anarchism. Marx was a centralist. There is no departure whatever from centralism 
in his observations just quoted. Only those who are imbued with the philistine 
"superstitious belief" in the state can mistake the destruction of the bourgeois state 
machine for the destruction of centralism! 

But if the proletariat and the poorest peasantry take state power into their own 
hands, organize themselves quite freely in communes, and unite the action of all 
the communes in striking at capital, in crushing the resistance of the capitalists, 
and in transferring the privately-owned railways, factories, and and so forth to the 
entire nation, to the whole of society ~ will that not be centralism? Will that not 
be the most consistent democratic centralism? And proletarian centralism at that? 

Bernstein simply cannot conceive of the possibility of voluntary centralism, of 
the voluntary amalgamation of the communes into a nation, of the voluntary 
fusion of the proletarian communes, for the purpose of destroying bourgeois rule 
and the bourgeois state machine. Like all philistines, Bernstein can imagine 
centralism only as something from above, to be imposed and maintained solely by 
the bureaucracy and the military clique. 

Marx, as though foreseeing the possibility of his views being distorted, 
purposely emphasized the fact that the charge that the Commune wanted to 
destroy the unity of the nation, to abolish the central authority, was a deliberate 
fake. Marx 

page 64 

purposely used the words: "The unity of the nation was ... to be organized," so as 
to oppose conscious, democratic proletarian centralism to bourgeois, military, 
bureacratic centralism. 

But . . . there are none so deaf as those who will not hear. And the very thing 
the opportunists of present-day Social-Democracy do not want to hear about is the 
destruction of the state power, the amputation of the parasitic excrescence. 


We have already quoted Marx's utterances on this subject, and we must now 
supplement them. 

"It is generally the fate of completely new historical creations," he 
wrote, "to be mistaken for the counterpart of older and even defunct forms 
of social life, to which they may bear a certain likeness. Thus, this new 
Commune, which breaks the modern State power, has been mistaken for a 
reproduction of the medieval Communes ... for a federation of small 
States (Montesquieu and the Girondins) ... for an exaggerated form of the 
ancient struggle against over-centralization. . . . 

"The Communal Constitution would have restored to the social body all 
the forces hitherto absorbed by the State parasite feeding upon, and 
clogging the free movement of, society. By this one act it would have 
initiated the regeneration of France. . . . 

"The Communal Constitution brought the rural producers under the 
intellectual lead of the central towns of their districts, and there secured to 
them, in the working men, the natural trustees of their interests. The very 

page 65 

existence of the Commune involved, as a matter of course, local municipal 
liberty, but no longer as a check upon the, now superseded. State power." 

"Breaking of the state power," which was a "parasitic excrescence"; its 
"amputation," its "smashing"; "the now superseded state power" ~ these are the 
expressions Marx used in regard to the state when appraising and analyzing the 
experience of the Commune. 

All this was written a little less than half a century ago; and now one has to 
engage in excavations, as it were, in order to bring undistorted Marxism to the 
knowledge of the masses. The conclusions drawn from the observation of the last 
great revolution which Marx lived through, were forgotten just at the moment 
when the time for the next great proletarian revolutions had arrived. 

"The multiplicity of interpretations to which the Commune has been 
subjected, and the multiplicity of interests which construed it in their 
favour, show that it was a thoroughly expansive political form, while all 
previous forms of government had been emphatically repressive. Its true 
secret was this. It was essentially a working-class government, the produce 
of the struggle of the producing against the appropriating class, the 
political form at last discovered under which to work out the economic 
emancipation of labour. 

"Except on this last condition, the Communal Constitution would have 
been an impossibility and a delusion. ..." 

The Utopians busied themselves with "discovering" political forms under which 
the socialist transformation of society was to take place. The anarchists waived 
the question of 

page 66 

political forms altogether. The opportunists of present-day Social-Democracy 
accepted the bourgeois political forms of the parliamentary democratic state as the 
limit which should not be overstepped; they battered their foreheads praying 
before this "model" and denounced as anarchism all desire to smash these forms. 

Marx deduced from the whole history of Socialism and of the political struggle 
that the state was bound to disappear, and that the transitional form of its 
disappearance (the transition from state to non-state) would be the proletariat 
organized as the ruling class." But Marx did not set out to discover the political 
forms of this future stage. He limited himself to precisely observing French 
history, to analyzing it, and to drawing the conclusion to which the year 1851 had 
led, viz., that matters were moving towards the smashing of the bourgeois state 

And when the mass revolutionary movement of the proletariat burst forth, 
Marx, in spite of the failure of that movement, in spite of its short life and its 
patent weakness, began to study what forms it had discovered. 

The Commune is the form "at last discovered" by the proletarian revolution, 
under which the economic emancipation of labour can take place. 

The Commune is the first attempt of a proletarian revolution to smash the 
bourgeois state machine; and it is the political form "at last discovered," by which 
the smashed state machine can and must be replaced. 

We shall see further on that the Russian revolutions of 1905 and 1917, in 
different circumstances and under different conditions, continue the work of the 
Commune and confirm the historical analysis given by Marx, that product of his 

page 67 



Marx gave the fundamentals on the subject of the significance of the experience 
of the Commune. Engels returned to the same subject repeatedly and explained 
Marx's analysis and conclusions, sometimes elucidating other aspects of the 
question with such power and vividness that it is necessary to deal with his 
explanations separately. 


In his work, The Housing Question (1872), Engels already took into account 
the experience of the Commune, and dealt several times with the tasks of the 
revolution in relation to the state. It is interesting to note that the treatment of this 
concrete subject clearly revealed, on the one hand, points of similarity between 
the proletarian state and the present state ~ such as give grounds for speaking of 
the state in both cases ~ and, on the other hand, points of difference 

page 68 

between them, or the transition to the destruction of the state. 

"How is the housing question to be solved, then? In present-day society 
just as any other social question is solved: by the gradual economic 
adjustment of supply and demand, a solution which ever reproduces the 
question itself anew and therefore is no solution. How a social revolution 
would solve this question not only depends on the particular circumstances 
in each case, but is also connected with much more far-reaching questions, 
one of the most fundamental of which is the abolition of the antithesis 
between town and country. As it is not our task to create Utopian systems 
for the arrangement of the future society, it would be more than idle to go 
into the question here. But one thing is certain: there are already in 
existence sufficient buildings for dwellings in the big towns to remedy 
immediately any real 'housing shortage,' given rational utilization of them. 
This can naturally only take place by the expropriation of the present 
owners, that is, by quartering in their houses the homeless or workers 
excessively overcrowded in their former houses. Immediately the 

proletariat has conquered political power such a measure dictated in the 
public interest will be just as easy to carry out as are other expropriations 
and billetings by the existing state." (German edition, 1887, p. 22.)[i8] 

The change in the form of the state power is not examined here, but only the 
content of its activity. Expropriations and billetings take place by order even of 
the present state. From the formal point of view the proletarian state will also 
"order" the occupation of houses and ex- 
page 69 

propriation of buildings. But it is clear that the old executive apparatus, the 
bureaucracy, which is connected with the bourgeoisie, would simply be unfit to 
carry out the orders of the proletarian state. 

"... It must be pointed out that the 'actual seizure' of all the instruments 
of labour, the seizure of industry as a whole by the working people, is the 
exact opposite of the Proudhonist 'redemption.' Under the latter, the 
individual worker becomes the owner of the dwelling, the peasant farm, 
the instruments of labour; under the former, the 'working people' remain 
the collective owners of the houses, factories and instruments of labour, 
and will hardly permit their use, at least during a transitional period, by 
individuals or associations without compensation for the cost. Just as the 
abolition of property in land is not the abolition of ground rent but its 
transfer, although in a modified form, to society. The actual seizure of all 
the instruments of labour by the working people, therefore, does not at all 
exclude the retention of the rent relation." (P. 68.) 

We shall discuss the question touched upon in this passage, namely, the 
economic basis for the withering away of the state, in the next chapter. Engels 
expresses himself most cautiously, saying that the proletarian state would 
"hardly" permit the use of houses without payment, "at least during a transitinal 
period." The letting of houses that belong to the whole people, to individual 
families presupposes the collection of rent a certain mount of control, and the 
employment of some standard in allotting the houses. All this calls for a certain 
form of state, but it does not at all call for a special military and bureaucratic 

page 70 

apparatus, with officials occupying especially privileged positions. The transition 
to a state of affairs when it will be possible to supply dwellings rent-free is 
connected with the complete "withering away" of the state. 

Speaking of the conversion of the Blanquists to the principles of Marxism after 
the Commune and under the influence of its experience, Engels, in passing, 
formulates these principles as follows: 

"... Necessity of political action by the proletariat and of its 
dictatorship as the transition to the abolition of classes and with them of 
the state " (P. 55.) 

Addicts to hair-splitting criticism, or bourgeois "exterminators of Marxism," 
will perhaps see a contradiction between this recognition of the "abolition of the 
state" and the repudiation of this formula as an anarchist one in the above-quoted 
passage fromAnti-D&uumlhring. It would not be surprising if the opportunists 
stamped Engels, too, as an "anarchist," for now the practice of accusing the 
internationalists of anarchism is becoming more and more widespread among the 

Marxism has always taught that with the abolition of classes the state will also 
be abolished. The well-known passage on the "withering away of the state" in 
Anti-D&uumlhring accuses the anarchists not simply of being in favour of the 
abolition of the state, but of preaching that the state can be abolished "overnight." 

In view of the fact that the now prevailing "Social-Democratic" doctrine 
completely distorts the relation of Marxism to anarchism on the question of the 
abolition of the state, it will be particularly useful to recall a certain 

page 71 

controversy in which Marx and Engels came out against the anarchists. 


This controversy took place in 1873. Marx and Engels contributed articles 
against the Proudhonists, "autonomists" or "anti-authoritarians," to an Itahan 
Socialist annual, and it was not until 1913 that these articles appeared in German 
in Neue 

"... If the political struggle of the working class assumes revolutionary 
forms," wrote Marx, ridiculing the anarchists for their repudiation of 
politics, "if the workers set up their revolutionary dictatorship in place of 
the dictatorship of the bourgeoisie, they commit the terrible crime of 
violating principles, for in order to satisfy their wretched, vulgar, everyday 
needs, in order to crush the resistance of the bourgeoisie, they give the 
state a revolutionary and transient form, instead of laying down their arms 
and abohshing the state. . . ." {Neue Zeit, Vol. XXXII, I, 1913-14, p. 40.) 

It was solely against this kind of "abohtion" of the state that Marx fought in 
refuting the anarchists! He did not at all combat the view that the state would 
disappear when classes disappeared, or that it would be abolished when classes 
were abolished; he opposed the proposition that the workers should renounce the 

use of arms, of organized violence, that is, the state, which is to serve to "crush 
the resistance of the bourgeoisie." 

page 72 

To prevent the true meaning of his struggle against anarchism from being 
distorted, Marx purposely emphasized the "revolutionary and transient form" of 
the state which the proletariat needs. The proletariat needs the state only 
temporarily. We do not at all disagree with the anarchists on the question of the 
abolition of the state as the aim. We maintain that, to achieve this aim, we must 
temporarily make use of the instruments, resources and methods of the state 
power against the exploiters, just as the temporary dictatorship of the oppressed 
class is necessary for the abolition of classes. Marx chooses the sharpest and 
clearest way of stating his case against the anarchists: after overthrowing the yoke 
of the capitalists, should the workers "lay down their arms," or use them against 
the capitalists in order to crush their resistance? But what is the systematic use of 
arms by one class against another class, if not a "transient form" of state? 

Let every Social-Democrat ask himself: is that the way he has been treating the 
question of the state in controversy with the anarchists? Is that the way it has been 
treated by the vast majority of the official Socialist parties of the Second 

Engels expounds the same ideas in much greater detail and still more popularly. 
First of all he ridicules the muddled ideas of the Proudhonists, who called 
themselves "anti-authoritarians," i.e., repudiated every form of authority, every 
form of subordination, every form of power. Take a factory, a railway, a ship on 
the high seas, said Engels ~ is it not clear that not one of these complex technical 
establishments, based on the employment of machinery and the planned 
cooperation of many people, could function 

page 73 

without a certain amount of subordination and, consequently, without a certain 
amount of authority or power? 

"... When I submitted arguments like these to the most rabid anti- 
authoritarians the only answer they were able to give me was the 
following: Yes, that's true, but here it is not a case of authority which we 
confer on our delegates, but of a commission entrusted ! These gentlemen 
think that when they have changed the names of things they have changed 
the things themselves. ..." 

Having thus shown that authority and autonomy are relative terms, that the 
sphere of their application changes with the various phases of social development, 
that it is absurd to take them as absolutes, and adding that the sphere of the 

application of machinery and large-scale production is constantly expanding, 
Engels passes from the general discussion of authority to the question of the state: 

". . . If the autonomists," he wrote, "confined themselves to saying that 
the social organization of the future would restrict authority solely to the 
limits within which the conditions of production render it inevitable, we 
could understand each other; but they are blind to all facts that make the 
thing necessary and they passionately fight the word. 

"Why do the anti-authoritarians not confine themselves to crying out 
against political authority, the state? All Socialists are agreed that the 
political state, and with it political authority, will disappear as a result of 
the coming social revolution, that is, that public functions will lose their 
political character and be transformed into the simple administrative 
functions of watching over the true interests of society. But the anti- 

page 74 

demand that the authoritarian political state be abolished at one stroke, 
even before the social conditions that gave birth to it have been destroyed. 
They demand that the first act of the social revolution shall be the 
abolition of authority. 

"Have these gentlemen ever seen a revolution? A revolution is certainly 
the most authoritarian thing there is; it is the act whereby one part of the 
population imposes its will upon the other part by means of rifles, 
bayonets and cannon ~ authoritarian means, if such there be at all; and if 
the victorious party does not want to have fought in vain, it must maintain 
this rule by means of the terror which its arms inspire in the reactionaries. 
Would the Paris Commune have lasted a single day if it had not made use 
of this authority of the armed people against the bourgeois? Should we 
not, on the contrary, reproach it for not having used it freely enough? 
Therefore, either one of two things: either the anti-authoritarians don't 
know what they are talking about, in which case they are creating nothing 
but confusion; or they do know, and in that case they are betraying the 
movement of the proletariat. In either case they serve the reaction." (P. 

This argument touches upon questions which must be examined in connection 
with the subject of the relation between politics and economics during the 
"withering away" of the state (this subject is dealt with in the next chapter). These 
questions are: the transformation of public functions from political into simple 
functions of administration, and the "pohtical state." This last term, one 
particularly liable to cause misunderstanding, indicates the process of the 
withering away of the state: at a certain stage of this process 

page 75 

the state which is withering away can be called a non-political state. 

Again, the most remarkable thing in this argument of Engels is the way he 
states the case against the anarchists. Social-Democrats, claiming to be disciples 
of Engels, have argued on this subject against the anarchists millions of times 
since 1873, but they have not argued as Marxists can and should. The anarchist 
idea of the abolition of the state is muddled and non-rev oiutionary — that is how 
Engels put it. It is precisely the revolution in its rise and development, with its 
specific tasks in relation to violence, authority, power, the state, that the anarchists 
do not wish to see. 

The usual criticism of anarchism by present-day Social-Democrats has boiled 
down to the purest philistine banality: "We recognize the state, whereas the 
anachists do not!" Naturally, such banality cannot but repel workers who are in 
the least capable of thinking and revolutionary. What Engels says is different. He 
emphasizes the fact that all Socialists recognize that the state will disappear as a 
result of the socialist revolution. He then deals concretely with the question of the 
revolution ~ the very question which, as a rule, the Social-Democrats, because of 
their opportunism, evade, and leave, so to speak, exclusively for the anarchists "to 
work out." And, when dealing with this question, Engels takes the bull by the 
horns; he asks: should not the Commune have made more use of the revolutionary 
power of the state, that is, of the proletariat armed and organized as the ruling 

Prevailing official Social-Democracy usually dismissed the question of the 
concrete tasks of the proletariat in the revolution either with a philistine sneer, at 
best, with the sophistic evasion: "wait and see." And the anarchists were thus 

page 76 

justified in saying about such Social-Democracy that it was betraying its task of 
giving the workers a revolutionary education. Engels draws upon the experience 
of the last proletarian revolution precisely for the purpose of making a most 
concrete study of what should be done by the proletariat, and in what manner, in 
relation to both the banks and the state. 


One of the most, if not the most, remarkable observations on the state in the 
works of Marx and Engels is contained in the following passage in Engels' letter 
to Bebel dated March 18-28, 1875. This letter, we may observe parenthetically, 
was, as far as we know, first published by Bebel in the second volume of his 
memoirs {Aus meinem Leben ), which appeared in 1911, i.e., thirty- six years after 
the letter had been written and mailed. 

Engels wrote to Bebel criticizing that same draft of the Gotha Program which 
Marx also criticized in his famous letter to Bracke. Referring particularly to the 
question of the state, Engels said: 

"The free people's state is transformed into the free state. Taken in its 
grammatical sense, a free state is one where the state is free in relation to 
its citizens, hence a state with a despotic government. The whole talk 
about the state should be dropped, especially since the Commune, which 
was no longer a state in the proper sense of the word. The 'people's state' 
has been thrown in our faces by the anarchists to the point of disgust, 
although already Marx's book against Proudhon and later the Commmnist 

page 77 

Manifesto directly declare that with the introduction of the socialist order 
of society the state will dissolve of itself {sich aufl&oumlst ] and 
disappear. As, therefore, the state is only a transitional institution which is 
used in the struggle, in the revolution, in order to hold down one's 
adversaries by force, it is pure nonsense to talk of a free people's state: so 
long as the proletariat still uses the state, it does not use it in the interests 
of freedom but in order to hold down its adversaries, and as soon as it 
becomes possible to speak of freedom the state as such ceases to exist. We 
would therefore propose to replace state everywhere by the word 
'community' [Gemeinwesen ], a good old German word which can very 
well represent the French word 'commune.'" (Pp. 321-22 of the German 
original.) [20] 

It should be borne in mind that this letter refers to the party program which 
Marx criticized in a letter dated only a few weeks later than the above (Marx's 
letter is dated May 5, 1875), and that at the time Engels was hving with Marx in 
London. Consequently, when he says "we" in the last sentence, Engels, 
undoubtedly, in his own as well as in Marx's name, suggests to the leader of the 
German workers' party that the word "state" be struck out of the program and 
replaced by the word ''community ." 

What a howl about "anarchism" would be raised by the leading lights of 
present-day "Marxism," which has been falsified for the convenience of the 
opportunists, if such a rectification of the program were suggested to them! 

Let them howl. This will earn them the praises of the bourgeoisie. 

And we shall go on with our work. In revising the program of our party we 
must unfailingly take the advice of 

page 78 

Engels and Marx into consideration in order to come nearer the truth, to restore 
Marxism by purging it of distortions, to guide the struggle of the working class 
for its emancipation more correctly. Certainly no one opposed to the advice of 
Engels and Marx will be found among the Bolsheviks. The only difficulty that 
may, perhaps, arise will be in regard to terminology. In German there are two 
words meaning "community," of which Engels used the one which does not 
denote a single community, but their totality, a system of communities. In Russian 
there is no such word, and perhaps we may have to choose the French word 
"commune," although this also has its drawbacks. 

"The Commune was no longer a state in the proper sense of the word" ~ from 
the theoretical point of view this is the most important statement Engels makes. 
After what has been said above, this statement is perfectly clear. The Commune 
was ceasing to be a state in so far as it had to suppress, not the majority of the 
population, but a minority (the exploit ers); it had smashed the bourgeois state 
machine; in place of a special repressive force, the population itself came on the 
scene. All this was a departure from the state in the proper sense of the word. And 
had the Commune become firmly established, all traces of the state in it would 
have "withered away" of themselves; it would not have been necessary for it to 
"abolish" the institutions of the state; they would have ceased to function in the 
measure that they ceased to have anything to do. 

"The 'people's state' has been thrown in our faces by the anarchists." In saying 
this, Engels above all has in mind Bakunin and his attacks on the German Social- 
Democrats. Engels admits that these attacks were justified in so far as the 
"people's state" was as much an absurdity and as much 

page 79 

a departure from Socialism as the "free people's state." Engels tried to put the 
struggle of the German Social-Democrats against the anarchists on right lines, to 
make this struggle correct in principle, to purge it of opportunist prejudices 
concerning the "state." Alas! Engels' letter was pigeonholed for thirty-six years. 
We shall see further on that, even after this letter was published, Kautsky 
obstinately repeated what in essence were the very mistakes against which Engels 
had warned. 

Bebel replied to Engels in a letter, dated September 21, 1875, in which he 
wrote among other things, that he "fully agreed" with Engels' criticism of the draft 
program, and that he had reproached Liebknecht for his readiness to make 
concessions (p. 334 of the German edition of Bebel's Memoirs, Vol. II). But if we 
take Bebel's pamphlet. Our Aims, we find there views on the state that are 
absolutely wrong. 

"The state must be transformed from one based on class rule into di people's stated (Unsere 
Ziele, German edition, 1886, p. 14.) 

This was printed in the ninth (the ninth!) edition of Bebel's pamphlet! It is not 
surprising that so persistently repeated opportunist views on the state were 
absorbed by German Social-Democracy, especially as Engels' revolutionary 
interpretations had been safely pigeonholed, and all the conditions of life were 
such as to "wean" them from revolution for a long time! 


In examining the Marxian teaching on the state, the criticism of the draft of the 
Erfurt Program, [2i] sent by Engels 

page 80 

to Kautsky on June 29, 1891, and published only ten years later in Neue Zeit, 
cannot be ignored; for it is precisely the opportunist views of Social-Democracy 
on questions of state structure, that this criticism is mainly concerned with. 

We shall note in passing that Engels also makes an exceedingly valuable 
observation on questions of economics, which shows how attentively and 
thoughtfully he watched the various changes being undergone by modern 
capitalism, and how for this reason he was able to foresee to a certain extent the 
tasks of our present, the imperialist, epoch. Here is the passage: referring to the 
word "planlessness" (Planlosigkeit ) used in the draft program, as characteristic of 
capitalism, Engels writes: 

". . . When we pass from joint- stock companies to trusts which assume 
control over, and monopolize, whole branches of industry, it is not only 
private production that ceases, but also planlessness." (Neue Zeit, Vol. 
XX, I, 1901-02, p. 8.) 

Here we have what is most essential in the theoretical appraisal of the latest 
phase of capitalism, i.e., imperialism, viz., that capitalism becomes monopoly 
capitalism. The latter must be emphasized because the erroneous bourgeois 
reformist assertion that monopoly capitalism or state-monopoly capitalism is no 
longer capitalism, but can already be termed "state Socialism," or something of 
that sort, is most widespread. The trusts, of course, never produced, do not now 
produce, and cannot produce complete planning. But however much they do plan, 
however much the capitalist magnates calculate in advance the volume of 
production on a national and even on an international scale, and however much 
they systematically regulate it, we still remain under 

page 81 

capitalism — capitalism in its new stage, it is true, but still, undoubtedly, 
capitalism. The "proximity" of such capitalism to Socialism should serve the 
genuine representatives of the proletariat as an argument proving the proximity, 
facility, feasibility and urgency of the socialist revolution, and not at all as an 
argument in favour of tolerating the repudiation of such a revolution and the 
efforts to make capitalism look more attractive, an occupation in which all the 
reformists are engaged. 

But let us return to the question of the state. In this letter Engels makes three 
particularly valuable suggestions: first, as regards the republic; second, as regards 
the connection between the national question and the structure of state, and, third, 
as regards local self-government. 

As regards the republic, Engels made this the centre of gravity of his criticism 
of the draft of the Erfurt Program. And when we recall what importance the Erfurt 
Program acquired for the whole of international Social-Democracy, that it became 
the model for the whole of the Second International, we may state without 
exaggeration that Engels thereby criticized the opportunism of the whole Second 

"The political demands of the draft," Engels writes, "have one great 
fault. What actually ought to be said is not there.'' (Engels' italics.) 

And, later on, he makes it clear that the German constitution is but a copy of 
the highly reactionary constitution of 1850; that the Reichstag is only, as Wilhelm 
Liebknecht put it, "the fig leaf of absolutism" and that to wish "to transform all 
the instruments of labour into public property" on the basis of a constitution 
which legalizes the existence of 

page 82 

petty states and the federation of petty German states is an "obvious absurdity." 

"To touch on that is dangerous, however," Engels adds, knowing full 
well that it was impossible legally to include in the program the demand 
for a republic in Germany. But Engels does not rest content with just this 
obvious consideration which satisfies "everybody." He continues: "And 
yet somehow or other the thing has got to be attacked. How necessary this 
is is shown precisely at the present time by the inroads which opportunism 
is making in a large section of the Social-Democratic press. For fear of a 
renewal of the Anti-Socialist Law and from recollection of all manner of 
premature utterances which were made during the reign of that law they 
now want the Party to find the present legal order in Germany adequate 
for the carrying out of all the demands of the Party by peaceful means. . . 

Engels particularly stresses the fundamental fact that the German Social- 
Democrats were prompted by fear of a renewal of the Anti-Socialist Law, and 
without hesitation calls opportunism; he declares that precisely because there was 
no republic and no freedom in Germany, the dreams of a "peaceful" path were 
absolutely absurd. Engels is sufficiently careful not to tie his hands. He admits 
that in republican or very free countries "one can conceive" (only "conceive!") of 
a peaceful development towards Socialism, but in Germany, he repeats, 

"... in Germany, where the government is almost omnipotent and the 
Reichstag and all other representative bodies have no real power, to 
proclaim such a thing in 

page 83 

Germany ~ and moreover when there is no need to do so ~ is to remove 
the fig leaf from absolutism, and become oneself a screen for its 
nakedness. ..." 

The great majority of the official leaders of the German Social-Democratic 
Party, who pigeonholed this advice, have indeed proved to be a screen for 

"... Ultimately such a policy can only lead one's own party astray. 
They put general, abstract political questions into the foreground, thus 
concealing the immediate concrete questions, the questions which at the 
first great events, the first political crisis, put themselves on the agenda. 
What can result from this except that at the decisive moment the Party is 
suddenly left without a guide, that unclarity and disunity on the most 
decisive issues reign in it because these issues have never been discussed? 

"This forgetting of the great main standpoint for the momentary 
interests of the day, this struggling and striving for the success of the 
moment without consideration for the later consequences, this sacrifice of 
the future of the movement for its present maybe 'honestly' meant, but it is 
and remains opportunism, and 'honest' opportunism is perhaps the most 
dangerous of all. . . . 

"If one thing is certain it is that our Party and the working class can only 
come to power under the form of the democratic republic. This is even the 
specific form for the dictatorship of the proletariat, as the Great French 
Revolution has already shown. ..." 

Engels repeats here in a particularly striking form the fundamental idea which 
runs like a red thread through all of Marx's works, namely, that the democratic 
republic is the 

page 84 

nearest approach to the dictatorship of the proletariat. For such a repubhc ~ 
without in the least abolishing the rule of capital, and, therefore, the oppression of 
the masses and the class struggle ~ inevitably leads to such an extension, 
development, unfolding and intensification of this struggle that, as soon as there 
arises the possibility of satisfying the fundamental interests of the oppressed 
masses, this possibility is realized inevitably and solely through the dictatorship of 
the proletariat, through the leadership of those masses by the proletariat. These, 
too, are "forgotten words" of Marxism for the whole of the Second International, 
and the fact that they have been forgotten was demonstrated with particular 
vividness by the history of the Menshevik Party during the first half year of the 
Russian Revolution of 1917. 

On the subject of a federal republic, in connection with the national 
composition of the population, Engels wrote: 

"What should take the place of present-day Germany?" (with its 
reactionary monarchical constitution and its equally reactionary division 
into petty states, a division which perpetuates all the specific features of 
"Prussianism" instead of dissolving them in Germany as a whole). "In my 
view, the proletariat can only use the form of the one and indivisible 
republic. In the gigantic territory of the United States a federal republic is 
still, on the whole, a necessity, although in the Eastern states it is already 
becoming a hindrance. It would be a step forward in England, where the 
two islands are peopled by four nations and in spite of a single Parliament 
three different systems of legislation exist side by side even today. In little 
Switzerland, it has long been a hindrance, tolerable only because 
Switzerland is content to be a purely passive member 

page 85 

of the European state system. For Germany, federalization on the Swiss 
model would be an enormous step backward. Two points distinguish a 
union state from a completely unified state: first, that each separate state 
forming part of the union, each canton, has its own civil and criminal 
legislative and judicial system, and, second, that along side of a popular 
chamber there is also a federal chamber in which each canton, large and 
small, votes as such." In Germany the union state is the transitional stage 
to the completely unified state, and the "revolution from above" of 1866 
and 1870 must not be reversed but supplemented by a "movement from 

Far from displaying indifference in regard to the forms of state, Engels, on the 
contrary, tried to analyze the transitional forms with the utmost thoroughness in 
order to establish, in accordance with the concrete, historical, specific features of 
each separate c^so, from what and into what the given transitional form is passing. 

Approaching the matter from the point of view of the proletariat and the 
proletarian revolution Engels, like Marx, upheld democratic centralism, the 
republic ~ one and indivisible. He regarded the federal republic either as an 
exception and a hindrance to development, or as a transitional form from a 
monarchy to a centralized republic, as a "step forward" under certain special 
conditions. And among these special conditions, the national question comes to 
the front. Although mercilessly criticizing the reactionary nature of small states, 
and the screening of this by the national question in certain concrete cases, 
Engels, like Marx, never betrayed a trace of a desire to brush aside the national 
question ~ a desire of which the Dutch and Polish Marxists are often 

page 86 

guilty, as a result of their perfectly justified opposition to the narrow philistine 
nationahsm of "their" httle states. 

Even in regard to England, where geographical conditions, a common language 
and the history of many centuries would seem to have "put an end" to the national 
question in the separate small divisions of England ~ even in regard to that 
country, Engels reckoned with the patent fact that the national question was not 
yet a thing of the past, and recognized in consequence that the establishment of a 
federal republic would be a "step forward." Of course, there is not the slightest 
hint here of Engels abandoning the criticism of the shortcomings of a federal 
republic or that he abandoned the most determined propaganda and struggle for a 
unified and centralized democratic republic. 

But Engels did not at all understand democratic centralism in the bureaucratic 
sense in which this term is used by bourgeois and petty-bourgeois ideologists, the 
anarchists among the latter. His idea of centralism did not in the least preclude 
such broad local self-government as would combine the voluntary defence of the 
unity of the state by the "communes" and districts with the complete abolition of 
all bureaucracy and all "ordering" from above. Enlarging on the program views of 
Marxism on the state, Engels wrote: 

"So, then, a unitary republic ~ but not in the sense of the present French 
Republic, which is nothing but the Empire established in 1798 without the 
Emperor. From 1792 to 1798 each Department of France, each commune 
{Gemeinde ), enjoyed complete self-government on the American model, 
and this is what we too must have. How self-government is to be 
organized and how we can manage without a bureaucracy has been shown 
to us by America 

page 87 

and the first French Republic, and is being shown even today by Canada, 
Australia and the other English colonies. And a provincial and local self- 
government of this type is far freer than for instance Swiss federalism 

under which, it is true, the canton is very independent in relation to the 
Union" (i.e., the federated state as a whole), "but is also independent in 
relation to the district and the commune. The cantonal governments 
appoint the district governors {Bezirksstatthalter ) and prefects ~ a feature 
which is unknown in English-speaking countries and which we shall have 
to abolish here just as resolutely in the future along with the Prussian 
Landr&aumlte and Regierungsr&aumlte " (commissioners, district police 
chiefs, governors, and in general all officials appointed from above). 
Accordingly, Engels proposes the following wording for the self- 
government clause in the program: "Complete self-government for the 
provinces" (gubernias and regions), "districts and communities through 
officials elected by universal suffrage. The abolition of all local and 
provincial authorities appointed by the state." 

I have already had occasion to point out ~ in Pravda (No. 68, May 28, 
19 17), [22] which was suppressed by the government of Kerensky and other 
"Socialist" ministers ~ how on this point (of course, not on this point alone by any 
means) our pseudo-Socialist representatives of pseudo-revolutionary pseudo- 
democracy have made absolutely scandalous departures /r6>m democracy. 
Naturally, people who have bound themselves by a "coalition" with the 
imperialist bourgeoisie have remained deaf to this criticism. 

It is extremely important to note that Engels, armed with facts, disproves by a 
most precise example the prejudice 

page 88 

which is very widespread, particularly among petty-bourgeois democrats, that a 
federal republic necessarily means a greater amount of freedom than a centralized 
republic. This is not true. It is disproved by the facts cited by Engels regarding the 
centralized French Republic of 1792-98 and the federal Swiss Republic. The 
really democratic centralized republic gave more freedom than the federal 
republic. In other words, the greatest amount of local, provincial and other 
freedom known in history was accorded by a centralized and not by a federal 

Insufficient attention has been and is being paid in our Party propaganda and 
agitation to this fact, as, indeed, to the whole question of the federal and the 
centralized republic and local self-government. 


In his preface to the third edition of The Civil War in France (this preface is 
dated March 18, 1891, and was originally pubhshed in the Neue Zeit ), Engels, in 

addition to some interesting incidental remarks on questions connected with the 
attitude towards the state, gives a remarkably vivid summary of the lessons of the 
Commune. [23] This summary, rendered more profound by the entire experience of 
the twenty years that separated the author from the Commune, and directed 
particularly against the "superstitious belief in the state" so widespread in 
Germany, may justly be called the last word of Marxism on the question under 

In France, Engels observes, the workers emerged with arms from every 
revolution; "therefore, the disarming of 

page 89 

the workers was the first commandment for the bourgeois, who were at the 
helm of the state. Hence, after every revolution won by the workers, a new 
struggle, ending with the defeat of the workers." 

This summary of the experience of bourgeois revolutions is as concise as it is 
expressive. The essence of the matter ~ also, by the way, on the question of the 
state {hastheoppressed 

classarms?) is here remarkably well grasped. It is precisely this essence of 
the matter which is most often ignored both by professors, who are influenced by 
bourgeois ideology, and by petty-bourgeois democrats. In the Russian Revolution 
of 1917, the honour (Cavaignac[24] honour) of blabbing this secret of bourgeois 
revolutions fell to the "Menshevik," "also-Marxist," Tsereteli. In his "historic" 
speech of June 11, Tsereteli blurted out that the bourgeoisie was determined to 
disarm the Petrograd workers ~ presenting, of course, this decision as his own, 
and as a matter of necessity for the "state" in general! 

Tsereteli's historic speech of June 1 1 will, of course, serve every historian of 
the Revolution of 1917 as one of the most striking illustrations of how the 
Socialist-Revolutionary and Menshevik bloc, led by Mr. Tsereteli, deserted to the 
bourgeoisie against the revolutionary proletariat. 

Another incidental remark of Engels', also connected with the question of the 
state, deals with religion. It is well known that German Social-Democracy, as it 
decayed and became more and more opportunist, slipped more and more 
frequently into the philistine misinterpretation of the celebrated formula: 
"Religion is to be proclaimed a private matter." That is, this formula was twisted 
to mean that religion was a private matter even for the party of the revo- 

page 90 

lutionary proletariat! ! It was against this utter betrayal of the revolutionary 
program of the proletariat that Engels vigorously protested. In 1891 he saw only 
the very feeble beginnings of opportunism in his party, and, therefore, he 
expressed himself extremely cautiously: 

"... As almost only workers, or recognized representatives of the 
workers, sat in the Commune, its decisions bore a decidedly proletarian 
character. Either these decisions decreed reforms which the republican 
bourgeoisie had failed to pass solely out of cowardice, but which provided 
a necessary basis for the free activity of the working class ~ such as the 
realization of the principle that in relation to the state religion is a purely 
private matter ~ or the Commune promulgated decrees which were in the 
direct interest of the working class and in part cut deeply into the old order 
of society." 

Engels deliberately underlined the words "in relation to the state," as a straight 
thrust at the German opportunism, which had declared religion to be a private 
matter in relation to the party, thus degrading the party of the revolutionary 
proletariat to the level of the most vulgar "free- thinking" philistinism, which is 
prepared to allow a non-denominational status, but which renounces tht party 
struggle against the opium of religion which stupefies the people. 

The future historian of German Social-Democracy, in tracing the root causes of 
its shameful bankruptcy in 1914, will find a good amount of interesting material 
on this question, beginning with the evasive declarations in the articles of the 
party's ideological leader Kautsky, which open wide the door to opportunism, and 
ending with the attitude of the party 

page 91 

towards the ''Los-von-Kirche-Bewegung " (the "leave-the church" movement) in 

But let us see how, twenty years after the Commune, Engels summed up its 
lessons for the fighting proletariat. 

Here are the lessons to which Engels attached prime importance: 

"... It was precisely the oppressing power of the former centralized 
government, army, political police, bureaucracy which Napoleon had 
created in 1798 and which since then had been taken over by every new 
government as a welcome instrument and used against its opponents ~ it 
was precisely this power which was to fall everywhere, just as it had 
already fallen in Paris. 

"From the very outset the Commune was compelled to recognize that 
the working class, once come to power, could not go on managing with 
the old state machine; that in order not to lose again its only just 
conquered supremacy, this working class must, on the one hand, do away 
with all the old repressive machinery previously used against it itself, and, 
on the other, safeguard itself against its own deputies and officials, by 
declaring them all, without exception, subject to recall at any moment." 

Engels emphasizes again and again that not only under a monarchy, but also in 
the democratic republic the state remains a state, i.e., it retains its fundamental 
characteristic feature of transforming the officials, the "servants of society," its 
organs, into the masters of society. 

"Against this transformation of the state and the organs of the state from 
servants of society into masters of society ~ an inevitable transformation 
in all previous states ~ 

page 92 

the Commune made use of two infallible means. In the first place, it filled 
all posts ~ administrative, judicial and educational ~ by election on the 
basis of universal suffrage of all concerned, subject to the right of recall at 
any time by the same electors. And, in the second place, all officials, high 
or low, were paid only the wages received by other workers. The highest 
salary paid by the Commune to anyone was 6,000 francs. [*] In this way an 
effective barrier to place-hunting and careerism was set up, even apart 
from the binding mandates to delegates to representative bodies which 
were added besides." 

Engels here approaches the interesting boundary line at which consistent 
democracy, on the one hand, is transformed into Socialism, and on the other, 
demands Socialism. For, in order to abolish the state, the functions of the civil 
service must be converted into the simple operations of control and accounting 
that are within the capacity and ability of the vast majority of the population, and, 
subsequently, of every single individual. And in order to abolish careerism 
completely it must be made impossible for "honourable" though profitless 
posts in the public service to be used as a springboard to highly lucrative posts in 
banks or joint-stock companies, as constantly happens in all the freest capitalist 

But Engels did not make the mistake some Marxists make in dealing, for 
example, with the question of the right of na- 

* ^Nominally about 2,400 rubles; according to the present rate of exchange, 
about 6,000 rubles. Those Bolsheviks who propose that a salary of 9,000 rubles be 
paid to members of municipal councils, for instance, instead of a maximum salary 
of 6,000 rubles ~ quite an adequate sum --for the whole state are acting in an 
unpardonable way. 

page 93 

tions to self-determination, when they argue that this is impossible under 
capitalism and will be superfluous under Socialism. Such a seemingly clever but 
actually incorrect statement might be made in regard to any democratic 

institution, including moderate salaries for officials; because fully consistent 
democracy is impossible under capitalism, and under Socialism all democracy 
withers away. 

It is a sophistry like the old joke as to whether a man will become bald if he 
loses one more hair. 

To develop democracy to the utmost, to seek out the forms for this 
development, to test them by practice, and so forth ~ all this is one of the 
constituent tasks of the struggle for the social revolution. Taken separately, no 
kind of democracy will bring Socialism. But in actual life democracy will never 
be "taken separately"; it will be "taken together" with other things, it will exert its 
influence on economic life, will stimulate its transformation; and in its turn it will 
be influenced by economic development, and so on. Such are the dialectics of 
living history. 

Engels continues: 

"This shattering [Sprengung ] of the former state power and its 
replacement by a new and truly democratic one is described in detail in the 
third section of The Civil War. But it was necessary to dwell briefly here 
once more on some of its features, because in Germany particularly the 
superstitious belief in the state has been carried over from philosophy into 
the general consciousness of the bourgeoisie and even of many workers. 
According to the philosophical conception, the state is the 'realization of 
the idea,' or the Kingdom of God on earth, translated into philosophical 
terms, the sphere in which eternal truth and justice 

page 94 

is or should be realized. And from this follows a superstitious reverence 
for the state and everything connected with it, which takes root the more 
readily since people are accustomed from childhood to imagine that the 
affairs and interests common to the whole of society could not be looked 
after otherwise than as they have been looked after in the past, that is, 
through the state and its lucratively positioned officials. And people think 
they have taken quite an extraordinarily bold step forward when they have 
rid themselves of belief in hereditary monarchy and swear by the 
democratic republic. In reality, however, the state is nothing but a machine 
for the oppression of one class by another, and indeed in the democratic 
republic no less than in the monarchy; and at best an evil inherited by the 
proletariat after its victorious struggle for class supremacy, whose worst 
sides the victorious proletariat, just like the Commune, cannot avoid 
having to lop off at once as much as possible until such time as a 
generation reared in new, free social conditions is able to throw the entire 
lumber of the state on the scrap heap." 

Engels warned the Germans not to forget the fundamentals of Sociahsm on the 
question of the state in general in connection with the substitution of a republic 
for the monarchy. His warnings now read like a veritable lesson to the Messrs. 
Tseretelis and Chernovs, who in their "coalition" practice here revealed a 
superstitious belief in, and a superstitious reverence for, the state! 

Two more remarks. 1. The fact that Engels said that in a democratic republic, 
"no less" than in a monarchy, the state remains a "machine for the oppression of 
one class another by no means signifies that tht form of oppression is a 

page 95 

matter of indifference to the proletariat, as some anarchists "teach." A wider, freer 
and more optnform of the class struggle and of class oppression enormously 
assists the proletariat in its struggle for the abolition of classes in general. 

2. Why will only a new generation be able to throw the entire lumber of the 
state on the scrap heap? This question is bound up with that of overcoming 
democracy, with which we shall deal now. 


Engels had occasion to express his views on this subject in connection with the 
fact that the term "Social-Democrat" was scientifically wrong. 

In a preface to an edition of his articles of the seventies on various subjects, 
mainly on "international" questions (Internationales aus dem Volksstaatvm), dated 
January 3, 1894, i.e., written a year and a half before his death, Engels wrote that 
in all his articles he used the word "Communist," and not "Social-Democrat," 
because at that time the Proudhonists in France and the Lassalleans in Germany 
called themselves Social-Democrats. 

"... For Marx and me," continues Engels, "it was therefore absolutely 
impossible to use such an elastic term to characterize our special point of 
view. Today things are different, and the word ("Social-Democrat") may 
perhaps pass muster (mag passieren ), however inexact (unpassend — 
unsuitable) it still is for a party whose economic program is not merely 
Socialist in general, but directly 

page 96 

Communist, and whose ultimate political aim is to overcome the whole 
state and, consequently, democracy as well. The names of real (Engels' 

italics) political parties, however, are never wholly appropriate; the party 
develops while the name stays. "[26] 

The dialectician Engels remains true to dialectics to the end of his days. Marx 
and I, he says, had a splendid, scientifically exact name for the party, but there 
was no real party, i.e., no mass proletarian party. Now (at the end of the 
nineteenth century) there is a real party, but its name is scientifically inexact. 
Never mind, it will "pass muster," if only the party develops, if only the scientific 
inexactness of its name is not hidden from it and does not hinder its development 
in the right direction! 

Perhaps some wit would console us Bolsheviks in the manner of Engels: we 
have a real party, it is developing splendidly; even such a meaningless and ugly 
term as "Bolshevik" will "pass muster," although it expresses nothing whatever 
but the purely accidental fact that at the Brussels-London Congress of 1903 we 
were in the majority. . .vm Perhaps, now that the persecution of our Party by 
republicans and "revolutionary" petty-bourgeois democracy in July and August 
has earned the name "Bolshevik" such a universal respect, now that, in addition, 
this persecution attests to the tremendous historical progress our Party has made 
in its real development, perhaps now even I might hesitate to insist on the 
suggestion I made in April to change the name of our Party. Perhaps I would 
propose a "compromise" to my comrades, viz., to call ourselves the Communist 
Party, but to retain the word "Bolsheviks" in brackets. . . . 

page 97 

But the question of the name of the Party is incomparably less important than 
the question of the attitude of the revolutionary proletariat to the state. 

In the usual arguments about the state, the mistake is constantly made against 
which Engels uttered his warning and which we have in passing indicated above, 
namely, it is constantly forgotten that the abolition of the state means also the 
abolition of democracy; that the withering away of the state means the withering 
away of democracy. 

At first sight this assertion seems exceedingly strange and incomprehensible; 
indeed, someone may even begin to fear that we are expecting the advent of an 
order of society in which the principle of the subordination of the minority to the 
majority will not be observed ~ for democracy means the recognition of just this 

No, democracy isn o t identical with the subordination of the minority to the 
majority. Democracy is a state which recogizes the subordination of the minority 
to the majority, i.e., an organization for the systematic use of violence by one 
class against the other, by one section of the population against another. 

We set ourselves the ultimate aim of abolishing the state, i.e., all organized and 
systematic violence, all use of violence against man in general. We do not expect 
the advent of an order of society in which the principle of the subordination of the 
minority to the majority will not be observed. But in striving for Socialism we are 
convinced that it will develop into Communism and, hence, that the need for 
violence against people in general, for the subordination of one man to another, 
and of one section of the population to another, will vanish altogether since 
people will become accustomed 

page 98 

to observing elementary conditions of social life without violence and without 

In order to emphasize this element of habit, Engels speaks of a new generation, 
"reared in new and free social conditions," which "will be able to throw on the 
scrap heap the entire lumber of the state" ~ of every kind of state, including the 
democratic-republican state. 

In order to explain this it is necessary to examine the question of the economic 
basis of the withering away of the state. 

page 99 





Marx explains this question most thoroughly in his Critique of the Gotha 
Program (letter to Bracke, May 5, 1875, which was not published until 1891 
when it was printed in Neue Zeit, Vol. IX, 1, and which has appeared in Russian 
in a special edition). The polemical part of this remarkable work, which contains a 
criticism of Lassalleanism, has, so to speak, overshadowed its positive part, 
namely, the analysis of the connection between the development of Communism 
and the withering away of the state. 


From a superficial comparison of Marx's letter to Bracke of May 5, 1875, with 
Engels' letter to Bebel of March 28,1875, which we examined above, it might 
appear that Marx was 

page 100 

much more of a "champion of the state" than Engels, and that the difference of 
opinion between the two writers on the question of the state was very 

Engels suggested to Bebel that all the chatter about the state be dropped 
altogether; that the word "state" be eliminated from the program altogether and 
the word "community" substituted for it. Engels even declared that the Commune 
was no longer a state in the proper sense of the word. Yet Marx even spoke of the 
"future nature of the state of communist society," i.e., as though he recognized the 
need for the state even under Communism. 

But such a view would be fundamentally wrong. A closer examination shows 
that Marx's and Engels' views on the state and its withering away were completely 
identical, and that Marx's expression quoted above refers precisely to this state in 
the process of withering away. 

Clearly there can be no question of defining the exact moment of tht future 
"withering away" ~ the more so since it will obviously be a lengthy process. The 
apparent difference between Marx and Engels is due to the fact that they dealt 
with different subjects and pursued different aims. Engels set out to show Bebel 
graphically, sharply and in broad outline the utter absurdity of the current 
prejudices concerning the state (shared to no small degree by Lassalle). Marx only 
touched upon this question in passing, being interested in another subject, viz., 
the development of communist society. 

The whole theory of Marx is the application of the theory of development ~ in 
its most consistent, complete, considered and pithy form ~ to modern capitalism. 
Naturally, Marx was faced with the problem of applying this theory both to the 
forthcoming collapse of capitalism and to tht future development of future 

page 101 

On the basis of what data, then, can the question of the future development of 
future Communism be dealt with? 

On the basis of the fact that it has its origin in capitalism, that it develops 
historically from capitalism, that it is the result of the action of a social force to 
which capitalism gave birth. There is no trace of an attempt on Marx's part to 
conjure up a Utopia, to make idle guesses about what cannot be known. Marx 
treats the question of Communism in the same way as a naturalist would treat the 

question of the development, say, of a new biological variety, once he knew that 
such and such was its origin and such and such the exact direction in which it was 

Marx, first of all, brushes aside the confusion the Gotha Program brings into 
the question of the relation between state and society. He writes: 

'"Present-day society' is capitalist society, which exists in all civilized 
countries, more or less free from medieval admixture, more or less 
modified by the special historical development of each country, more or 
less developed. On the other hand, the 'present-day state' changes with a 
country's frontier. It is different in the Prusso-German Empire from what it 
is in Switzerland, it is different in England from what it is in the United 
States. The 'present-day state' is, therefore, a fiction. 

"Nevertheless, the different states of the different civilized countries, in 
spite of their manifold diversity of form, all have this in common, that 
they are based on modern bourgeois society, only one more or less 
capitalistically developed. They have, therefore, also certain essential 
features in common. In this sense it is possible to speak of the 'present-day 
state,' in contrast with the 

page 102 

future, in which its present root, bourgeois society, will have died off. 

"The question then arises: what transformation will the state undergo in 
communist society? In other words, what social functions will remain in 
existence there that are analogous to present functions of the state? This 
question can only be answered scientifically, and one does not get a flea- 
hop nearer to the problem by a thousandfold combination of the word 
people with the word state. "[28] 

Having thus ridiculed all talk about a "people's state," Marx formulates the 
question and warns us, as it were, that a scientific answer to it can be secured only 
by using firmly established scientific data. 

The first fact that has been established with complete exactitude by the whole 
theory of development, by science as a whole ~ a fact that was forgotten by the 
Utopians, and is forgotten by the present-day opportunists who are afraid of the 
socialist revolution ~ is that, historically, there must undoubtedly be a special 
stage or a special phase of transition from capitalism to Communism. 


Marx continues: 

"Between capitalist and communist society lies the period of the 
revolutionary transformation of the one into the other. There corresponds 
to this also a political transition period in which the state can be nothing 
but the revolutionary dictatorship of the proletariate 

page 103 

Marx bases this conclusion on an analysis of the role played by the proletariat 
in modern capitalist society, on the data concerning the development of this 
society, and on the irreconcilability of the antagonistic interests of the proletariat 
and the bourgeoisie. 

Previously the question was put in this way: in order to achieve its 
emancipation, the proletariat must overthrow the bourgeoisie, win political power 
and establish its revolutionary dictatorship. 

Now the question is put somewhat differently: the transition from capitalist 
society ~ which is developing towards Communism ~ to a communist society is 
impossible without a "political transition period," and the state in this period can 
only be the revolutionary dictatorship of the proletariat. 

What, then, is the relation of this dictatorship to democracy? 

We have seen that the Communist Manifesto simply places side by side the two 
concepts: "to raise the proletariat to the position of the ruling class" and "to win 
the battle of democracy." On the basis of all that has been said above, it is 
possible to determine more precisely how democracy changes in the transition 
from capitalism to Communism. 

In capitalist society, providing it develops under the most favourable 
conditions, we have a more or less complete democracy in the democratic 
republic. But this democracy is always hemmed in by the narrow limits set by 
capitalist exploitation, and consequently always remains, in reality, a democracy 
for the minority, only for the propertied classes, only for the rich. Freedom in 
capitalist society always remains about the same as it was in the ancient Greek 
republics: freedom for the slave-owners. Owing to the conditions of capitalist 
exploitation the modern wage slaves are so crushed 

page 104 

by want and poverty that "they cannot be bothered with democracy," "they cannot 
be bothered with politics"; in the ordinary peaceful course of events the majority 
of the population is debarred from participation in public and political life. 

The correctness of this statement is perhaps most clearly confirmed by 
Germany, precisely because in that country constitutional legality steadily 
endured for a remarkably long time ~ for nearly half a century (1871-1914) ~ and 

during this period Social-Democracy there was able to achieve far more than in 
other countries in the way of "utilizing legality," and organized a larger 
proportion of the workers into a political party than anywhere else in the world. 

What is this largest proportion of politically conscious and active wage slaves 
that has so far been observed in capitalist society? One million members of the 
Social-Democratic Party ~ out of fifteen million wage- workers ! Three million 
organized in trade unions ~ out of fifteen million! 

Democracy for an insignificant minority, democracy for the rich ~ that is the 
democracy of capitalist society. If we look more closely into the machinery of 
capitalist democracy, we shall see everywhere, in the "petty" ~ supposedly petty - 
- details of the suffrage (residential qualification, exclusion of women, etc.), in the 
technique of the representative institutions, in the actual obstacles to the right of 
assembly (public buildings are not for "beggars"!), in the purely capitalist 
organization of the daily press, etc., etc. ~ we shall see restriction after restriction 
upon democracy. These restrictions, exceptions, exclusions, obstacles for the 
poor, seem slight, especially in the eyes of one who has never known want 
himself and has never been in close contact with the oppressed classes in their 
mass life (and nine-tenths, if not ninety-nine 

page 105 

hundredths, of the bourgeois publicists and politicians are of this category); but in 
their sum total these restrictions exclude and squeeze out the poor from politics, 
from active participation in democracy. 

Marx grasped this ^^^^^c^of capitalist democracy splendidly, when, in 
analyzing the experience of the Commune, he said that the oppressed are allowed 
once every few years to decide which particular representatives of the oppressing 
class shall represent and repress them in parliament! 

But from this capitalist democracy ~ that is inevitably narrow, and stealthily 
pushes aside the poor, and is therefore hypocritical and false to the core ~ forward 
development does not proceed simply, directly and smoothly towards "greater and 
greater democracy," as the liberal professors and petty-bourgeois opportunists 
would have us believe. No, forward development, i.e., towards Communism, 
proceeds through the dictatorship of the proletariat, and cannot do otherwise, for 
the resistance of the capitalist exploiters cannot be broken by anyone else or in 
any other way. 

And the dictatorship of the proletariat, i.e., the organization of the vanguard of 
the oppressed as the ruling class for the purpose of suppressing the oppressors, 
cannot result merely in an expansion of democracy. Simultaneously with an 
immense expansion of democracy, which /6> rthefirst time becomes 
democracy for the poor, democracy for the people, and not democracy for the 
moneybags, the dictatorship of the proletariat imposes a series of restrictions on 

the freedom of the oppressors, the exploiters, the capitahsts. We must suppress 
them in order to free humanity from wage slavery, their resistance must be 
crushed by force; it is clear that where there is suppression, where there is 
violence, there is no freedom and no democracy. 

page 106 

Engels expressed this splendidly in his letter to Bebel when he said, as the 
reader will remember, that "the proletariat uses the state not in the interests of 
freedom but in order to hold down its adversaries, and as soon as it becomes 
possible to speak of freedom the state as such ceases to exist." 

Democracy for the vast majority of the people, and suppression by force, i.e., 
exclusion from democracy, of the exploiters and oppressors of the people ~ this is 
the change democracy undergoes during the transition from capitalism to 

Only in communist society, when the resistance of the capitalists has been 
completely crushed, when the capitalists have disappeared, when there are no 
classes (i.e., when there is no difference between the members of society as 
regards their relation to the social means of production), only then "the state . . . 
ceases to exist," and it ''becomes possible to speak of freedom.'' Only then will 
there become possible and be realized a truly complete democracy, democracy 
without any exceptions whatever. And only then will democracy begin to wither 
away, owing to the simple fact that, freed from capitalist slavery, from the untold 
horrors, savagery, absurdities and infamies of capitalist exploitation, people will 
gradually become 

accustomed to observing the elementary rules of social intercourse that have 
been known for centuries and repeated for thousands of years in all copybook 
maxims; they will become accustomed to observing them without force, without 
compulsion, without subordination, withoutthespecialapparatus 
for compulsion which is called the state. 

The expression "the state withers away " is very well chosen, for it indicates 
both the gradual and the spontaneous nature of the process. Only habit can, and 
undoubtedly will, 

page 107 

have such an effect; for we see around us on millions of occasions how readily 
people become accustomed to observing the necessary rules of social intercourse 
when there is no exploitation, when there is nothing that rouses indignation, 
nothing that evokes protest and revolt and creates the need for suppression. 

Thus, in capitalist society we have a democracy that is curtailed, wretched, 
false; a democracy only for the rich, for the minority. The dictatorship of the 
proletariat, the period of transition to Communism, will for the first time create 

democracy for the people, for the majority, along with the necessary suppression 
of the minority ~ the exploiters. Communism alone is capable of giving really 
complete democracy, and the more complete it is the more quickly will it become 
unnecessary and wither away of itself. 

In other words: under capitalism we have the state in the proper sense of the 
word, that is, a special machine for the suppression of one class by another, and, 
what is more, of the majority by the minority. Naturally, to be successful, such an 
undertaking as the systematic suppression of the exploited majority by the 
exploiting minority calls for the utmost ferocity and savagery in the work of 
suppressing, it calls for seas of blood through which mankind has to wade in 
slavery, serfdom and wage labour. 

Furthermore, during the transition from capitalism to Communism suppression 
is still necessary; but it is now the suppression of the exploiting minority by the 
exploited majority. A special apparatus, a special machine for suppression, the 
"state," is still necessary, but this is now a transitional state; it is no longer a state 
in the proper sense of the word; for the suppression of the minority of exploiters 
by the majority of the wage slaves of yesterday is comparatively so easy, 

page 108 

simple and natural a task that it will entail far less bloodshed than the suppression 
of the risings of slaves, serfs or wage labourers, and it will cost mankind far less. 
And it is compatible with the extension of democracy to such an over whelming 
majority of the population that the need for a special machine of suppression will 
begin to disappear. The exploiters are naturally unable to suppress the people 
without a highly complex machine for performing this task, but the people can 
suppress the exploiters even with a very simple "machine," almost without a 
"machine," without a special apparatus, by the simple organization of the armed 
masses (such as the Soviets of Workers' and Soldiers' Deputies, let us remark, 
anticipating somewhat). 

Lastly, only Communism makes the state absolutely unnecessary, for there is 
nobody to be suppressed ~ "nobody" in the sense of a class, in the sense of a 
systematic struggle against a definite section of the population. We are not 
Utopians, and do not in the least deny the possibility and in evitability of excesses 
on the part of individual persons, or the need to suppress such excesses. But, in 
the first place, no special machine, no special apparatus of suppression is needed 
for this; this will be done by the armed people itself, as simply and as readily as 
any crowd of civilized people, even in modern society, interferes to put a stop to a 
scuffle or to prevent a woman from being assaulted. And, secondly, we know that 
the fundamental social cause of excesses, which consist in the violation of the 
rules of social intercourse, is the exploitation of the masses, their want and their 
poverty. With the removal of this chief cause, excesses will inevitably begin to 
''wither away.'' We do not know how quickly and in what succession, but we 

know that they will wither away. With their withering away the state will also 
wither away. 

page 109 

Without indulging in Utopias, Marx defined more fully what can be defined 
now regarding this future, namely, the difference between the lower and higher 
phases (levels, stages) of communist society. 


In the Critique of the Gotha Program, Marx goes into detail to disprove 
Lassalle's idea that under Socialism the worker will receive the "undiminished" or 
"full product of his labour." Marx shows that from the whole of the social labour 
of society there must be deducted a reserve fund, a fund for the expansion of 
production, for the replacement of the "wear and tear" of machinery, and so on; 
then, from the means of consumption there must be deducted a fund for the 
expenses of administration, for schools, hospitals, homes for the aged, and so on. 

Instead of Lassalle's hazy, obscure, general phrase ("the full product of his 
labour to the worker") Marx makes a sober estimate of exactly how socialist 
society will have to manage its affairs. Marx proceeds to make a concrete analysis 
of the conditions of life of a society in which there will be no capitalism, and 

"What we have to deal with here" (in analyzing the program of the 
workers' party) "is a communist society, not as it has developed on its own 
foundations, but, on the contrary, just as it emerges from capitalist society; 
which is thus in every respect, economically, morally and intellectually, 
still stamped with the birthmarks of the old society from whose womb it 

page 110 

And it is this communist society ~ a society which has just emerged into the 
light of day out of the womb of capitalism and which, in every respect, bears the 
birthmarks of the old society ~ that Marx terms the "first," or lower phase of 
communist society. 

The means of production are no longer the private property of individuals. The 
means of production belong to the whole of society. Every member of society, 
performing a certain part of the socially-necessary work, receives a certificate 
from society to the effect that he has done such and such an amount of work. And 
with this certificate he receives from the public store of articles of consumption a 

corresponding quantity of products. After a deduction is made of the amount of 
labour which goes to the pubhc fund, every worker, therefore, receives from 
society as much as he has given to it. 

"Equahty" apparently reigns supreme. 

But when Lassalle, having in view such a social order (usually called 
Socialism, but termed by Marx the first phase of Communism), says that this is 
"equitable distribution," that this is "the equal right of all members of society to 
an equal product of labour," Lassalle is erring and Marx exposes his error. 

"Equal right," says Marx, we indeed have here; but itis s t i 1 1 a. "bourgeois 
right," which, like every right, presupposes 

inequality. Every right is an application of ane q u a I measure to d iffe r e 
n t people who in fact are not alike, are not equal to one another; that is why 
"equal right" is really a violation of equality and an injustice. In deed, every man, 
having performed as much social labour as another, receives an equal share of the 
social product (after the above-mentioned deductions). 

page 111 

But people are not alike: one is strong, another is weak; one is married, another 
is not, one has more children, another has less, and so on. And the conclusion 
Marx draws is: 

"... with an equal performance of labour, and hence an equal share in 
the social consumption fund, one will in fact receive more than another, 
one will be richer than another, and so on. To avoid all these defects, right 
instead of being equal would have to be unequal." 

Hence, the first phase of Communism cannot yet produce justice and equality: 
differences, and unjust differences, in wealth will still exist, but the exploitation 
of man by man will have become impossible, because it will be impossible to 
seize the means of production, the factories, machines, land, etc., as private 
property. While smashing Lassalle's petty bourgeois, confused phrases about 
"equality" and "justice" in general, Marx shows the course of development of 
communist society, which is compelled to abolish at first only the "injustice" of 
the means of production having been seized by individuals, and which is unable at 
once to eliminate the other injustice, which consists in the distribution of articles 
of consumption "according to the amount of labour performed" (and not 
according to needs). 

The vulgar economists, including the bourgeois professors and "our" Tugan[29] 
among them, constantly reproach the Socialists with forgetting the inequality of 
people and with "dreaming" of eliminating this inequality. Such a reproach, as we 
see, only proves the extreme ignorance of Messrs. the bourgeois ideologists. 

Marx not only most scrupulously takes account of the inevitable inequality of 
men, but he also takes into account the fact that the mere conversion of the means 
of production 

page 112 

into the common property of the whole of society (commonly called "Socialism") 
d o e s n o t r e m ov e tht defects of distribution and the inequality of "bourgeois 
right" which continues to prevail as long as products are divided "according to the 
amount of labour performed." Continuing, Marx says: 

"But these defects are inevitable in the first phase of communist sociey 
as it is when it has just emerged after prolonged birth pangs from capitalist 
society. Right can never be higher than the economic structure of society 
and its cultural development conditioned thereby." 

And so, in the first phase of communist society (usually called Socialism) 
"bourgeois right" is not abolished in its entirety, but only in part, only in 
proportion to the economic revolution so far attained, i.e., only in respect of the 
means of production. "Bourgeois right" recognizes them as the private property of 
individuals. Socialism converts them into common property. To that extent ~ and 
to that extent alone ~ "bourgeois right" disappears. However, it continues to exist 
as far as its other part is concerned; it continues to exist in the capacity of 
regulator (determining factor) in the distribution of products and the allotment of 
labour among the members of society. The socialist principle: "He who does not 
work, neither shall he eat," is already realized; the other socialist principle: "An 
equal amount of products for an equal amount of labour," is also already realized. 
But this is not yet Communism, and it does not yet abolish "bourgeois right," 
which gives to unequal individuals, in return for unequal (really unequal) amounts 
of labour, equal amounts of products. 

page 113 

This is a "defect," says Marx, but it is unavoidable in the first phase of 
Communism; for if we are not to indulge in utopianism, we must not think that 
having overthrown capitalism people will at once learn to work for society 
without any standard of right, and indeed the abolition of capitalism does not 
immediately create the economic premises for such a change. 

And there is no other standard than that of "bourgeois right." To this-- extent, 
therefore, there still remains the need for a state, which, while safeguarding the 
public ownership of the means of production, would safeguard equality in labour 
and equality in the distribution of products. 

The state withers away in so far as there are no longer any capitalists, any 
classes, and, consequently, no class can be suppressed. 

But the state has not yet completely withered away, since there still remains the 
safeguarding of "bourgeois right," which sanctifies actual inequality. For the state 
to wither away completely complete Communism is necessary. 


Marx continues: 

"In a higher phase of communist society, after the enslaving 
subordination of the individual to the division of labour, and therewith 
also the antithesis between mental and physical labour, has vanished; after 
labour has become not only a means of life but life's prime want; after the 
productive forces have also increased with the all-round development of 
the individual, and all the springs of 

page 114 

cooperative wealth flow more abundantly ~ only then can the narrow 
horizon of bourgeois right be crossed in its entirety and society inscribe on 
its banners: 'From each according to his ability, to each according to his 

Only now can we appreciate to the full the correctness of Engels' remarks in 
which he mercilessly ridiculed the absurdity of combining the words "freedom" 
and "state." So long as the state exists there is no freedom. When there will be 
freedom, there will be no state. 

The economic basis for the complete withering away of the state is such a high 
stage of development of Communism that the antithesis between mental and 
physical labour disappears, when there, consequently, disappears one of the 
principal sources of modern social inequality ~ a source, moreover, which cannot 
on any account be removed immediately by the mere conversion of the means of 
production into public property, by the mere expropriation of the capitalists. 

This expropriation will create the possibility of an enormous development of 
the productive forces. And when we see how incredibly capitalism is already 
retarding this development, when we see how much progress could be achieved 
on the basis of the level of technique now already attained, we are entitled to say 
with the fullest confidence that the expropriation of the capitalists will inevitably 
result in an enormous development of the productive forces of human society. But 
how rapidly this development will proceed, how soon it will reach the point of 
breaking away from the division of labour, of doing away with the antithesis 
between mental and physical labour, of transforming labour into "the prime 
necessity of life" ~ we do not and cannot know. 

page 115 

That is why we are entitled to speak only of the inevitable withering away of 
the state, emphasizing the protracted nature of this process and its dependence 
upon the rapidity of development of the higher phase of Communism, and leaving 
the question of the time required for, or the concrete forms of, the withering away 
quite open, because there is no material for answering these questions. 

It will become possible for the state to wither away completely when society 
adopts the rule: "From each according to his ability, to each according to his 
needs," i.e., when people have become so accustomed to observing the 
fundamental rules of social intercourse and when their labour becomes so 
productive that they will voluntarily work according to their ability. "The narrow 
horizon of bourgeois right," which compels one to calculate with the 
coldheartedness of a Shylock whether one has not worked half an hour more than 
somebody else, whether one is not getting less pay than somebody else ~ this 
narrow horizon will then be crossed. There will then be no need for society to 
regulate the quantity of products to be received by each; each will take freely 
"according to his needs." 

From the bourgeois point of view, it is easy to declare that such a social order is 
"sheer Utopia" and to sneer at the Socialists for promising everyone the right to 
receive from society, without any control over the labour of the individual citizen, 
any quantity of truffles, automobiles, pianos, etc. Even to this day, most bourgeois 
"savants" confine themselves to sneering in this way, thereby displaying both 
their ignorance and their mercenary defence of capitalism. 

Ignorance ~ for it has never entered the head of any Socialist to "promise" that 
the higher phase of the development of Communism will arrive; whereas the great 
Socialists, in 

page 116 

foreseeing that it will arrive presuppose not the present productivity of labour and 
not the present ordinary run of people, who, like the seminary students in 
Pomyalovsky's stories, are capable of damaging the stocks of public wealth "just 
for fun," and of demanding the impossible. 

Until the "higher" phase of Communism arrives, the Socialists demand the 
strictest control by society and by the state of the measure of labour and the 
measure of consumption; but this control must start with the expropriation of the 
capitalists, with the establishment of workers' control over the capitalists, and 
must be exercised not by a state of bureaucrats, but by a state of armed workers. 

The mercenary defence of capitalism by the bourgeois ideologists (and their 
hangers-on, like Messrs. the Tseretelis, Chernovs and Co.) consists precisely in 
that they substitute controversies and discussions about the distant future for the 

vital and burning question of present-day politics, viz., the expropriation of the 
capitalists, the conversion of all citizens into workers and employees of one huge 
"syndicate" ~ the whole state ~ and the complete subordination of the entire work 
of this syndicate to a genuinely democratic state, to the state of the Soviets of 
Workers' and Soldiers' Deputies, 

Actually, when a learned professor, and following him the philistine, and 
following him Messrs. the Tseretelis and Chernovs, talk of unreasonable Utopias, 
of the demagogic promises of the Bolsheviks, of the impossibility of 
"introducing" Socialism, it is the higher stage or phase of Communism they have 
in mind, which no one has ever promised or even thought to "introduce," because 
it generally cannot be "introduced." 

And this brings us to the question of the scientific difference between Socialism 
and Communism, which Engels 

page 117 

touched on in his above-quoted argument about the incorrectness of the name 
"Social-Democrat." Politically the difference between the first, or lower, and the 
higher phase of Communism will in time, probably, be tremendous; but it would 
be ridiculous to take cognizance of this difference now, under capitalism, and 
only individual anarchists, perhaps, could invest it with primary importance (if 
there still remain people among the anarchists who have learned nothing from the 
"Plekhanovite" conversion of the Kropotkins, the Graveses, the Cornelissens and 
other "stars" of anarchism into social-chauvinists or "anarcho-trenchists," as Ge, 
one of the few anarchists who have still preserved a sense of honour and a 
conscience, has put it). 

But the scientific difference between Socialism and Communism is clear. What 
is usually called Socialism was termed by Marx the "first" or lower phase of 
communist society. In so far as the means of production become common 
property, the word "Communism" is also applicable here, providing we do not 
forget that this is not complete Communism. The great significance of Marx's 
explanations is that here, too, he consistently applies materialist dialectics, the 
theory of development, and regards Communism as something which develops 
out (9/ capitalism. Instead of scholastically invented, "concocted" definitions and 
fruitless disputes about words (what is Socialism? what is Communism?), Marx 
gives an analysis of what might be called the stages of the economic ripeness of 

In its first phase, or first stage. Communism cannot as yet be fully ripe 
economically and entirely free from traditions or traces of capitalism. Hence the 
interesting phenomenon that Communism in its first phase retains "the narrow 
horizon of 

page 118 

bourgeois right." Of course, bourgeois right in regard to the distribution of articles 
of consumption inevitably presupposes the existence of the bourgeois state, for 
right is nothing without an apparatus capable of enforcing the observance of the 
standards of right. 

It follows that under Communism there remains for a time not only bourgeois 
right, but even the bourgeois state without the bourgeoisie! 

This may sound like a paradox or simply a dialectical conundrum, of which 
Marxism is often accused by people who do not take the slightest trouble to study 
its extraordinarily profound content. 

But as a matter of fact, remnants of the old surviving in the new confront us in 
life at every step, both in nature and in society. And Marx did not arbitrarily insert 
a scrap of "bourgeois" right into Communism, but indicated what is economically 
and politically inevitable in a society emerging out of the womb of capitalism. 

Democracy is of enormous importance to the working class in its struggle 
against the capitalists for its emancipation. But democracy is by no means a 
boundary not to be overstepped; it is only one of the stages on the road from 
feudalism to capitalism, and from capitalism to Communism. 

Democracy means equality. The great significance of the proletariat's struggle 
for equality and of equality as a slogan will be clear if we correctly interpret it as 
meaning the abolition of classes. But democracy means only formal equality. And 
as soon as equality is achieved for all members of society in relation to ownership 
of the means of production, that is, equality of labour and equality of wages, 
humanity will inevitably be confronted with the question of advancing farther, 

page 119 

from formal equality to actual equality, i.e., to the operation of the rule, "from 
each according to his ability, to each according to his needs." By what stages, by 
means of what practical measures humanity will proceed to this supreme aim ~ 
we do not and cannot know. But it is important to realize how infinitely 
mendacious is the ordinary bourgeois conception of Socialism as something 
lifeless, petrified, fixed once for all, whereas in reality only under Socialism will a 
rapid, genuine, really mass forward movement, embracing first the majority and 
then the whole of the population, commence in all spheres of public and personal 

Democracy is a form of the state, one of its varieties. Consequently, it, like 
every state, represents on the one hand the organized, systematic use of violence 
against persons; but on the other hand it signifies the formal recognition of 
equality of citizens, the equal right of all to determine the structure of, and to 
administer, the state. This, in turn, results in the fact that, at a certain stage in the 
development of democracy, it first welds together the class that wages a 

revolutionary struggle against capitalism ~ the proletariat, and enables it to crush, 
smash to atoms, wipe off the face of the earth the bourgeois, even the republican 
bourgeois, state machine, the standing army, the police and the bureaucracy, and 
to substitute for them a more democratic state machine, but a state machine 
nevertheless, in the shape of the armed masses of workers who develop into a 
militia in which the entire population takes part. 

Here "quantity turns into quality": such a degree of democracy implies 
overstepping the boundaries of bourgeois society, the beginning of its socialist 
reconstruction. If really all take part in the administration of the state, capitalism 

page 120 

cannot retain its hold. And the development of capitalism, in turn, itself creates 
tht premises that enable really "all" to take part in the administration of the state. 
Some of these premises are: universal literacy, which has already been achieved 
in a number of the most advanced capitalist countries, then the "training and 
disciplining" of millions of workers by the huge, complex, socialized apparatus of 
the postal service, railways, big factories, large-scale commerce, banking, etc., 

Given these economic premises it is quite possible, after the overthrow of the 
capitalists and the bureaucrats, to proceed immediately, overnight, to supersede 
them in the control of production and distribution, in the work of keeping account 
of labour and products by the armed workers, by the whole of the armed 
population. (The question of control and accounting should not be confused with 
the question of the scientifically trained staff of engineers, agronomists and so on. 
These gentlemen are working today in obedience to the wishes of the capitalists; 
they will work even better to morrow in obedience to the wishes of the armed 

Accounting and control ~ that is the main thing required for "arranging" the 
smooth working, the correct functioning of tht first phase of communist society. 
All citizens are transformed here into hired employees of the state, which consists 
of the armed workers. All citizens become employees and workers of a single 
nationwide state "syndicate." All that is required is that they should work equally, 
do their proper share of work, and get equally paid. The accounting and control 
necessary for this have been simplifiedhy capitalism to the extreme and 
reduced to the extraordinarily simple operations ~ which any literate person can 

page 121 

of supervising and recording, knowledge of the four rules of arithmetic, and 
issuing appropriate receipts. [^ 

When the majority of the people begin independently and everywhere to keep 
such accounts and maintain such control over the capitalists (now converted into 
employees) and over the intellectual gentry who preserve their capitalist habits, 
this control will really become universal, general, popular; and there will be no 
way of getting away from it, there will be "nowhere to go." 

The whole of society will have become a single office and a single factory, 
with equality of labour and equality of pay. 

But this "factory" discipline, which the proletariat, after defeating the 
capitalists, after overthrowing the exploiters, will extend to the whole of society, 
is by no means our ideal, or our ultimate goal. It is but a necessary step for the 
purpose of thoroughly purging society of all the infamies and abominations of 
capitalist exploitation, and for further progress. 

From the moment all members of society, or even only the vast majority, have 
learned to administer the state themselves, have taken this work into their own 
hands, have "set going" control over the insignificant minority of capitalists, over 
the gentry who wish to preserve their capitalist habits and over the workers who 
have been profoundly corrupted by capitalism ~ from this moment the need for 
government of any kind begins to disappear altogether. The more com plete the 
democracy, the nearer the moment approaches when 

* When most of the functions of the state are reduced to such accounting and control by the 
workers themselves, it will cease to be a "political state" and the "public functions will lose their 
political character and be transformed into simple administrative functions" (cf. above. Chapter 
IV, § 2, Engels' "Controversy with the Anarchists"). 

page 122 

it becomes unnecessary. The more democratic the "state" which consists of the 
armed workers, and which is "no longer a state in the proper sense of the word," 
the more rapidly does every form of state begin to wither away. 

For when a 1 1 have learned to administer and actually do independently 
administer social production, independently keep accounts and exercise control 
over the idlers, the gentle folk, the swindlers and suchlike "guardians of capitalist 
traditions," the escape from this popular accounting and control will inevitably 
become so incredibly difficult, such a rare exception, and will probably be 
accompanied by such swift and severe punishment (for the armed workers are 
practical men and not sentimental intellectuals, and they will scarcely allow 
anyone to trifle with them), that the 

necessity of observing the simple, fundamental rules of human intercourse 
will very soon become ahab i t. 

And then the door will be wide open for the transition from the first phase of 
communist society to its higher phase, and with it to the complete withering away 
of the state. 

page 123 



The question of the relation of the state to the social revolution, and of the 
social revolution to the state, like the question of revolution generally, troubled 
the leading theoreticians and pubhcists of the Second International (1889-1914) 
very little. But the most characteristic thing about the process of the gradual 
growth of opportunism which led to the collapse of the Second International in 
1914, is the fact that even when these people actually came right up against this 
question they tried to evade it or else failed to notice it. 

In general, it may be said that evasiveness as regards the question of the 
relation of the proletarian revolution to the state ~ an evasiveness which was to 
the advantage of opportunism and fostered it ~ resulted in the distortion of 
Marxism and in its complete vulgarization. 

To characterize this lamentable process, if only briefly, we shall take the most 
prominent theoreticians of Marxism: Plekhanov and Kautsky. 

page 124 


Plekhanov wrote a special pamphlet on the relation of anarchism to Socialism, 
entitled Anarchism and Socialism and published in German in 1894. 

In treating this subject Plekhanov contrived completely to ignore the most 
urgent, burning, and politically most essential issue in the struggle against 
anarchism, viz., the relation of the revolution to the state, and the question of the 
state in general! Two sections of his pamphlet stand out: one of them is historical 
and literary, and contains valuable material on the history of the ideas of Stirner, 

Proudhon and others; the other is phihstine, and contains a clumsy dissertation on 
the theme that an anarchist cannot be distinguished from a bandit. 

A most amusing combination of subjects and most characteristic of Plekhanov's 
whole activity on the eve of the revolution and during the revolutionary period in 
Russia. Indeed, in the years 1905 to 1917, Plekhanov revealed himself as a semi- 
doctrinaire and semi-philistine who, in politics, trailed in the wake of the 

We have seen how, in their controversy with the anarchists, Marx and Engels 
with the utmost thoroughness explained their views on the relation of revolution 
to the state. In 1891, in his foreword to Marx's Critique of the Gotha Program, 
Engels wrote that "we" ~ that is, Engels and Marx ~ "were at that time, hardly 
two years after the Hague Congress of the (First) International,[30] engaged in the 
most violent struggle against Bakunin and his anarchists." 

The anarchists had tried to claim the Paris Commune as their "own," so to say, 
as a corroboration of their doctrine; 

page 125 

and they utterly failed to understand its lessons and Marx's analysis of these 
lessons. Anarchism has failed to give anything even approximating a true solution 
of the concrete political problems, viz., must the old state machine be smashed ? 
and what should be put in its place? 

But to speak of "anarchism and Socialism" while completely evading the 
question of the state, and failing to take note of the whole development of 
Marxism before and after the Commune, meant inevitably slipping into 
opportunism. For what opportunism needs most of all is that the two questions 
just mentioned should not be raised at all. That in itself i^ a victory for 


Undoubtedly an immeasurably larger number of Kautsky's works have been 
translated into Russian than into any other language. It is not without reason that 
some German Social-Democrats say in jest that Kautsky is read more in Russia 
than in Germany (let us say, parenthetically, that there is a far deeper historical 
significance in this jest than those who first made it suspect: the Russian workers, 
by advancing in 1905 an extraordinarily great and unprecedented demand for the 
best works of the best Social-Democratic literature in the world, and by receiving 
translations and editions of these works in quantities unheard of in other 
countries, transplanted, so to speak, at an accelerated pace the enormous 

experience of a neighbouring, more advanced country to the young soil of our 
proletarian movement). 

page 126 

Besides his popularization of Marxism, Kautsky is particularly known in our 
country for his controversy with the opportunists, and with Bernstein at their 
head. But one fact is almost unknown, one which cannot be overlooked if we set 
ourselves the task of investigating how Kautsky drifted into the morass of 
unbelievably disgraceful confusion and defence of social-chauvinism during the 
supreme crisis of 1914-15. This fact is the following: shortly before he came out 
against the most prominent representatives of opportunism in France (Millerand 
and Jaur&egraves) and in Germany (Bernstein), Kautsky betrayed very 
considerable vacillation. The Marxist journal, Zarya.vm which was published in 
Stuttgart in 1901-02, and advocated revolutionary proletarian views, was forced to 
enter into controversy with Kautsky, to characterize as "elastic" the half-hearted, 
evasive resolution, conciliatory towards the opportunists, that he proposed at the 
International Socialist Congress in Paris in 1900.[32] Kautsky's letters published in 
Germany reveal no less hesitancy on his part before he took the field against 

Of immeasurably greater significance, however, is the fact that, in his very 
controversy with the opportunists, in his for mulation of the question and his 
manner of treating it, we can now observe, as we investigate the history of 
Kautsky's latest betrayal of Marxism, his systematic gravitation towards 
opportunism precisely on the question of the state. 

Let us take Kautsky's first important work against opportunism, his Bernstein 
and the Social-Democratic Program. Kautsky refutes Bernstein in detail, but here 
is a characteristic thing: 

Bernstein, in his Premises of Socialism, of Herostratean fame, accuses Marxism 
of ''Blanquism " (an accusation since repeated thousands of times by the 
opportunists and liberal 

page 127 

bourgeois in Russia against the representatives of revolutionary Marxism, the 
Bolsheviks). In this connection Bernstein dwells particularly on Marx's The Civil 
War in France, and tries, quite unsuccessfully, as we have seen, to identify Marx's 
views on the lessons of the Commune with those of Proudhon. Bernstein pays 
particular attention to the conclusion which Marx emphasized in his 1872 preface 
to the Communist Manfesto, viz., that "the working class cannot simply lay hold 
of the ready-made state machinery, and wield it for its own purposes." 

This utterance "pleased" Bernstein so much that he repeated it no less than 
three times in his book ~ interpreting it in the most distorted, opportunist sense. 

As we have seen, Marx meant that the working class must smash, break, 
shatter (Sprengung ~ explosion, the expression used by Engels) the whole state 
machine. But according to Bernstein it would appear as though Marx in these 
words warned the working class against excessive revolutionary zeal when 
seizing power. 

A cruder and more hideous distortion of Marx's idea can not be imagined. 

How, then, did Kautsky proceed in his most detailed refutation of Bernsteinism. 

He refrained from analyzing the utter distortion of Marxism by opportunism on 
this point. He cited the above-quoted passage from Engels' introduction to Marx's 
Civil War and said that according to Marx the working class cannot simply lay 
hold of the ready-made state machine, but that, generally speaking, it can lay hold 
of it ~ and that was all. Not a word does Kautsky utter about the fact that 
Bernstein attributed to Marx thcv e ry o p p o s i t e of Marx's real views, about 
the fact that since 1852 Marx had formulated 

page 128 

the task of the proletarian revolution as being to "smash" the state machine. 

The result was that the most essential difference between Marxism and 
opportunism on the subject of the tasks of the proletarian revolution was slurred 
over by Kautsky! 

"We can safely leave the solution of the problem of the proletarian dictatorship to the 
future," said Kautsky, writing ''against " Bernstein. (P. 172, German edition.) 

This is not a polemic against Bernstein, but, in essence, a concession to him, a 
surrender to opportunism; for at present the opportunists ask nothing better than to 
"safely leave to the future" all fundamental questions of the tasks of the 
proletarian revolution. 

From 1852 to 1891, for forty years, Marx and Engels taught the proletariat that 
it must smash the state machine. Yet, in 1899, Kautsky, confronted with the 
complete betrayal of Marxism by the opportunists on this point fraudulently 
substituted for the question of whether it is necessary to smash this machine the 
question of the concrete forms in which it is to be smashed, and then sought 
refuge behind the "indisputable" (and barren) philistine truth that concrete forms 
can not be known in advance! ! 

A gulf separates Marx and Kautsky as regards their attitudes towards the 
proletarian party's task of preparing the working class for revolution. 

Let us take the next, more mature, work by Kautsky, which was also, to a 
considerable extent, devoted to a refutation of opportunist errors. This is his 

pamphlet, The Social Revolution, In this pamphlet the author chose as his special 
theme the question of "the proletarian revolution" and "the proletarian regime." In 
dealing with it he gave much that 

page 129 

was exceedingly valuable, but as for the question of the state, he avoided it. 
Throughout the pamphlet the author speaks of the winning of state power ~ and 
no more; that is, he chooses a formula which makes a concession to the 
opportunists, inasmuch as it admits the possibility of power being seized without 
destroying the state machine. The very thing which Marx, in 1872, declared to be 
"obsolete" in the program of the Communist Manifesto is revived by Kautsky in 

A special paragraph in the pamphlet is devoted to "the forms and the weapons 
of the social revolution." Here Kautsky speaks of the mass political strike, of civil 
war, and of the "instruments of the might of the modern large state, such as the 
bureaucracy and the army"; but not a word does he say about what the Commune 
had already taught the workers. Evidently, it was not without reason that Engels 
issued a warning particularly to the German socialists against "superstitious 
reverence" for the state. 

Kautsky treats the matter as follows: the victorious proletariat "will carry out 
the democratic program," and he goes on to formulate its clauses. But not a word 
does he utter about the new material provided by the year 1871 on the subject of 
the supersession of bourgeois democracy by proletarian democracy. Kautsky 
disposes of the question by uttering such "solid" banalities as: 

"Still, it goes without saying that we shall not achieve supremacy under the present 
conditions. Revolution itself presupposes a long and deep-going struggle, which, as it 
proceeds, will change our present political and social structure." 

Undoubtedly, this "goes without saying," just as does the truth that horses eat 
oats, or that the Volga flows into the Caspian Sea. Only it is a pity that an empty 
and bombastic 

page 130 

phrase about "deep-going" struggle is used as a means of avoiding a question of 
vital interest to the revolutionary proletariat, namely, wherein is expressed the 
"deep-going" nature of its revolution in relation to the state, in relation to 
democracy, as distinct from previous, non-proletarian revolutions. 

By avoiding this question, Kautsky in practice makes a concession to 
opportunism on this most essential point, although in words he declares stern war 
against it and emphasizes the importance of the "idea of revolution" (how much is 
this "idea" worth when one is afraid to teach the workers the concrete lessons of 

revolution?), or says, "revolutionary idealism before everything else," or 
announces that the English workers are now "hardly more than petty bourgeois." 

"The most varied forms of enterprises ~ bureaucratic (??), trade unionist, cooperative, 
private . . . can exist side by side in socialist society," Kautsky writes. "... There are 
enterprises which cannot do without a bureaucratic (??) organization, for example, the 
railways. Here the democratic organization may take the following shape: the workers 
elect delegates who form a sort of parliament, which draws up the working regulations 
and supervises the management of the bureaucratic apparatus. The management of other 
enterprises may be transferred to the trade unions, and still others may become 
cooperative enterprises." (Pp. 148 and 115, Russian translation, published in Geneva, 

This reasoning is erroneous, it is a step backward compared with the 
explanations Marx and Engels gave in the seventies, using the lessons of the 
Commune as an example. 

As far as the supposedly necessary "bureaucratic" organization is concerned, 
there is no difference whatever between railways and any other enterprise in 
large-scale machine industry, any factory, large store, or large-scale capitalist 
agricultural enterprise. The technique of all such enterprises 

page 131 

makes absolutely imperative the strictest discipline, the utmost precision on the 
part of everyone in carrying out his allotted task, for otherwise the whole 
enterprise may come to a stop, or machinery or the finished product may be 
damaged. In all such enterprises the workers will, of course, "elect delegates who 
will form a sort of parliament ^ 

But the whole point is that this "sort of parliament" will n o thca. parliament in 
the sense in which we understand bourgeois-parliamentary institutions. The whole 
point is that this "sort of parliament" will not merely "draw up the working 
regulations and supervise the management of the bureaucratic apparatus," as 
Kautsky, whose ideas do not go beyond the bounds of bourgeois parliamentarism, 
imagines. In socialist society the "sort of parliament" consisting of workers' 
deputies will, of course, "draw up the working regulations and supervise the 
management" of the "apparatus" — but this apparatus will n o tht "bureaucratic." 
The workers, having conquered political power, will smash the old bureaucratic 
apparatus, they will shatter it to its very foundations, they will destroy it to the 
very roots; and they will replace it by a new one, consisting of the very same 
workers and office employees, 

against whose transformation into bureaucrats the measures will at once be 
taken which were specified in detail by Marx and Engels: 1) not only election, but 
also recall at any time; 2) pay not exceeding that of a workman; 3) immediate 
introduction of control and supervision by all, so that all shall become 
"bureaucrats" for a time and that, therefore, nobody may be able to become a 

Kautsky has not reflected at all on Marx's words: "The Commune was a 
working, not a parliamentary body, legislative and executive at the same time." 

page 132 

Kautsky has not understood at all the difference between bourgeois 
parliamentarism, which combines democracy (n o tfo r 

thepeople) with bureaucracy (againstthepeople), and proletarian 
democracy, which will take immediate steps to cut bureaucracy down to the roots, 
and which will be able to carry out these measures to the end, to the complete 
abolition of bureaucracy, to the introduction of complete democracy for the 

Kautsky here displays the same old "superstitious reverence" for the state, and 
"superstitious belief" in bureaucracy. 

Let us now pass on to the last and best of Kautsky's works against the 
opportunists, his pamphlet The Road to Power (which, I believe, has not been 
translated into Russian, for it was published at the time when the reaction was at 
its height here, in 1909). This pamphlet marks a considerable step forward, 
inasmuch as it does not deal with the revolutionary program in general, as in the 
pamphlet of 1899 against Bernstein, or with the tasks of the social revolution 
irrespective of the time of its occurrence, as in the 1902 pamphlet. The Social 
Revolution', it deals with the concrete conditions which compel us to recognize 
that the "era of revolutions" is approaching. 

The author definitely points to the intensification of class antagonisms in 
general and to imperialism, which plays a particularly important part in this 
connection. After the "revolutionary period of 1789-1871" in Western Europe, he 
says, a similar period began in the East in 1905. A world war is approaching with 
menacing rapidity. "The proletariat can no longer talk of premature revolution." 
"We have entered a revolutionary period." The "revolutionary era is beginning." 

page 133 

These declarations are perfectly clear. This pamphlet of Kautsky's should serve 
as a measure of comparison between what German Social-Democracy prc^m/^e J 
to be before the imperialist war and the depth of degradation to which it ~ 
Kautsky himself included ~ sank when the war broke out. "The present situation," 
Kautsky wrote in the pamphlet we are examining, "is fraught with the danger that 
we (i.e., German Social-Democracy) may easily appear to be more moderate than 
we really are." It turned out that in reality the German Social-Democratic Party 
was much more moderate and opportunist than it appeared to be! 

The more characteristic is it, therefore, that although Kautsky so definitely 
declared that the era of revolutions had already begun, in the pamphlet which he 

himself said was devoted precisely to an analysis of the ''political revolution," he 
again completely avoided the question of the state. 

These evasions of the question, these omissions and equivocations, inevitably 
led in their sum total to that complete swing-over to opportunism with which we 
shall now have to deal. 

German Social-Democracy, in the person of Kautsky, seems to have declared: I 
adhere to revolutionary views (1899), I recognize, in particular, the inevitability 
of the social revolution of the proletariat (1902), I recognize the advent of a new 
era of revolutions (1909). Still, I am going back on what Marx said as early as 
1852 now that the question of the tasks of the proletarian revolution in relation to 
the state is being raised (1912). 

It was precisely in this direct form that the question was put in Kautsky's 
controversy with Pannekoek. 

page 134 


On opposing Kautsky, Pannekoek came out as one of the representatives of the 
"left radical" trend which counted in its ranks Rosa Luxemburg, Karl Radek and 
others. Advocating revolutionary tactics, they were united in the conviction that 
Kautsky was going over to the position of the "centre," which wavered in an 
unprincipled manner between Marxism and opportunism. The correctness of this 
view was fully confirmed by the war, when this "centrist" (wrongly called 
Marxist) trend, or Kautskyism, revealed itself in all its repulsive wretchedness. 

In an article touching on the question of the state, entitled "Mass Action and 
Revolution" (Neue Zeit, 1912, Vol. XXX, 2), Pannekoek described Kautsky's 
attitude as one of "passive radicalism," as "a theory of inactive expectancy." 
"Kautsky refuses to see the process of revolution," wrote Pannekoek (p. 616). In 
presenting the matter in this way, Pannekoek approached the subject which 
interests us, namely, the tasks of the proletarian revolution in relation to the state. 

"The struggle of the proletariat," he wrote, "is not merely a struggle against the 
bourgeoisie /(9r state power, but a struggle against state power. . . . The content of the 
proletarian revolution is the destruction and dissolution {Aufl&oumlsung) of the 
instruments of power of the state with the aid of the instruments of power of the 
proletariat. . . . The struggle will cease only when, as the result of it, the state 
organization is utterly destroyed. The organization of the majority will then have 
demonstrated its superiority by destroying the organization of the ruling minority." (P. 

The formulation in which Pannekoek presented his ideas suffers from serious 
defects, but its meaning is clear nonetheless; and it is interesting to note how 
Kautsky combated it. 

page 135 

"Up to now," he wrote, "the difference between the Social-Democrats and the 
anarchists has been that the former wished to conquer state power while the latter wished 
to destroy it. Pannekoek wants to do both." (P. 724.) 

Although Pannekoek's exposition lacks precision and concreteness ~ not to 
speak of other shortcomings of his article which have no bearing on the present 
subject ~ Kautsky seized precisely on the point of principle raised by Pannekoek; 
and on this fundamental point of principle Kautsky completely abandoned the 
Marxian position and went over wholly to opportunism. His definition of the 
difference between the Social-Democrats and the anarchists is absolutely wrong, 
and he utterly vulgarizes and distorts Marxism. 

The difference between the Marxists and the anarchists is this: (1) The former, 
while aiming at the complete abolition of the state, recognize that this aim can 
only be achieved after classes have been abolished by the socialist revolution, as 
the result of the establishment of Socialism, which leads to the withering away of 
the state; the latter want to abolish the state completely overnight, failing to 
understand the conditions under which the state can be abolished. (2) The former 
recognize that after the proletariat has conquered political power it must utterly 
destroy the old state machine and substitute for it a new one consisting of an 
organization of the armed workers, after the type of the Commune; the latter, 
while insisting on the destruction of the state machine, have absolutely no clear 
idea of what the proletariat will put in its place and how it will use its 
revolutionary power; the anarchists even deny that the revolutionary proletariat 
should use the state power, they deny its revolutionary dictatorship. (3) The 
former demand that the proletariat be prepared for 

page 136 

revolution by utilizing the present state; the anarchists reject this. 

In this controversy it is not Kautsky but Pannekoek who represents Marxism, 
for it was Marx who taught that the proletariat cannot simply conquer state power 
in the sense that the old state apparatus passes into new hands, but must smash, 
break this apparatus and replace it by a new one. 

Kautsky abandons Marxism for the camp of the opportunists, for this 
destruction of the state machine, which is utterly unacceptable to the opportunists, 
completely disappears from his argument, and he leaves a loophole for them in 
that "conquest" may be interpreted as a simple acquisition of a majority. 

To cover up his distortion of Marxism, Kautsky behaves hke a textman: he puts 
forward a "quotation" from Marx himself. In 1850 Marx wrote that "a determined 
centralization of power in the hands of the state authority" was necessary, and 
Kautsky triumphantly asks: does Pannekoek want to destroy "centralism"? 

This is simply a trick, similar to Bernstein's identification of the views of 
Marxism and Proudhonism on the subject of federalism as against centralism. 

Kautsky's "quotation" is neither here nor there. Centralism is possible with both 
the old and the new state machine. If the workers voluntarily unite their armed 
forces, this will be centralism, but it will be based on the "complete destruction" 
of the centralized state apparatus ~ the standing army, the police and the 
bureaucracy. Kautsky acts like an outright swindler when he ignores the perfectly 
well-known arguments of Marx and Engels on the Commune and plucks out a 
quotation which has nothing to do with the case. 

page 137 

"... Perhaps Pannekoek," Kautsky continues, "wants to abolish the state functions of 
the officials? But we do not get along without officials even in the party and the trade 
unions, much less in the state administration. Our program does not demand the abolition 
of state officials, but that they be elected by the people. . . . We are discussing here not 
the form the administrative apparatus of the 'future state' will assume, but whether our 
political struggle abolishes (literally dissolves ~ aufl&oumlst ) the state power before we 
have captured it (Kautsky's italics). Which ministry with its officials could be 
abolished?" Then follows an enumeration of the ministries of education, justice, finance 
and war. "No, not one of the present ministries will be removed by our political struggle 
against the government. ... I repeat, in order to avoid misunderstanding: we are not 
discussing here the form the 'future state' will be given by victorious Social-Democracy, 
but how the present state is changed by our opposition." (P. 725.) 

This is an obvious trick: Pannekoek raised the question of revolution. Both the 
title of his article and the passages quoted above clearly indicate this. In skipping 
to the question of "opposition" Kautsky replaces the revolutionary by the 
opportunist point of view. What he says means: at present we are an opposition; 
what we shall be after we have captured power, that we shall see. Revolution has 
vanished! And that is exactly what the opportunists wanted. 

What is at issue is neither opposition nor political struggle in general but 
revolution. Revolution consists in the proletariat 

d e s t r oy in gi\\^ "administrative apparatus" and thtw h o I e state machine, 
replacing it with a new one, consisting of the armed workers. Kautsky displays a 
"superstitious reverence" for "ministries"; but why can they not be replaced, say, 
by committees of specialists, working under sovereign, all-powerful Soviets of 
Workers' and Soldiers' Deputies? 

The point is not at all whether the "ministries" will remain, or whether 
"committees of specialists" or some other institutions will be set up; that is quite 
unimportant. The 

page 138 

point is whether the old state machine (bound by thousands of threads to the 
bourgeoisie and permeated through and through with routine and inertia) shall 
remain, or be destroyed and replaced by a new one. Revolution consists not in the 
new class commanding, governing with the aid of the old state machine, but in 
this class smashing this machine and commanding, governing with the aid of a 
new machine. Kautsky slurs over this basic idea of Marxism, or he had utterly 
failed to understand it. 

His question about officials clearly shows that he does not understand the 
lessons of the Commune or the teachings of Marx. "We do not get along without 
officials even in the party and the trade unions. ..." 

We do not get along without officials under capitalism, under the rule of the 
bourgeoisie. The proletariat is oppressed, the toiling masses are enslaved by 
capitalism. Under capitalism democracy is restricted, cramped, curtailed, 
mutilated by all the conditions of wage slavery, and the poverty and misery of the 
masses. This and this alone is the reason why the functionaries of our political 
organizations and trade unions are corrupted ~ or, more precisely, tend to be 
corrupted ~ by the conditions of capitalism and betray a tendency to become 
bureaucrats, i.e., privileged persons divorced from the masses and standing above 
the masses. 

That is the essence of bureaucracy; and until the capitalists have been 
expropriated and the bourgeoisie overthrown, even proletarian functionaries will 
inevitably be "bureaucratized" to a certain extent. 

According to Kautsky, since elected functionaries will remain under Socialism, 
officials will remain, bureaucracy will remain! This is exactly where he is wrong. 
It was precise- 
page 139 

ly the example of the Commune that Marx used to show that under Socialism 
functionaries will cease to be "bureaucrats," to be "officials," they will cease to be 
so in proportion as, in addition to the principle of election of officials, the 
principle of recall at any time is also introduced, and as salaries are reduced to the 
level of the wages of the average worker, and, too, as parliamentary institutions 
are replaced by "working bodies, legislative and executive at the same time." 

In essence, the whole of Kautsky's argument against Pannekoek, and 
particularly the former's wonderful point that we do not get along without 
officials even in our party and trade union organizations, is merely a repetition of 
Bernstein's old "arguments" against Marxism in general. In his renegade book. 
The Premises of Socialism, Bernstein combats the ideas of "primitive" democracy, 
combats what he calls "doctrinaire democracy": imperative mandates, unpaid 

officials, impotent central representative bodies, etc. To prove that this "primitive 
democracy" is unsound, Bernstein refers to the experience of the British trade 
unions, as interpreted by the Webbs. Seventy years of development "in absolute 
freedom," he avers (p. 137, German edition), convinced the trade unions that 
primitive democracy was useless, and they replaced it with ordinary democracy, 
i.e., parliamentarism combined with bureaucracy. 

As a matter of fact the trade unions did not develop "in absolute freedom" but 
in absolute capitalist slavery, under which, it goes without saying, a number of 
concessions to the prevailing evil, violence, falsehood, exclusion of the poor from 
the affairs of the "higher" administration, "cannot be avoided." Under Socialism 
much of the "primitive" democracy will inevitably be revived, since, for the first 
time in 

page 140 

the history of civilized society, the mass of the population will rise to the level of 
taking an independent part, not only in voting and elections, but also in the 
everyday administration of af airs. Under Socialism a 1 1 will govern in turn and 
will soon become accustomed to no one governing. 

Marx's critico-analytical genius perceived in the practical measures of the 
Commune the turning point, which the opportunists fear and do not want to 
recognize because of their cowardice, because they do not want to break 
irrevocably with the bourgeoisie, and which the anarchists do not want to 
perceive, either because they are in a hurry or because they do not understand at 
all the conditions of great social changes. "We must not even think of destroying 
the old state machine; how can we get along without ministries and officials?" 
argues the opportunist who is completely saturated with philistinism, and who, at 
bottom, not only does not believe in revolution, in the creative power of 
revolution, but lives in mortal dread of it (like our Mensheviks and Socialist- 

"We must think only of destroying the old state machine; it is no use probing 
into the concrete lessons of earlier proletarian revolutions and analyzing what to 
put in the place of what has been destroyed, and how " ~ argues the anarchist (the 
best of the anarchists, of course, and not those who, following Messrs. Kropotkin 
and Co., trail in the wake of the bourgeoisie); consequently, the tactics of the 
anarchist become the tactics of despair instead of a ruthlessly bold revolutionary 
effort to solve concrete problems while taking into account the practical 
conditions of the mass movement. 

Marx teaches us to avoid both errors; he teaches us to act with supreme 
boldness in destroying the entire old state 

page 141 

machine, and at the same time he teaches us to put the question concretely: the 
Commune was able in the space of a few weeks to start building a new, 
proletarian state machine by introducing such-and-such measures to secure wider 
democracy and to uproot bureaucracy. Let us learn revolutionary boldness from 
the Communards; let us see in their practical measures the outline of urgently 
practical and immediately possible measures, and then, pursuing this road, we 
shall achieve the complete destruction of bureaucracy. 

The possibility of this destruction is guaranteed by the fact that Socialism will 
shorten the working day, will raise the masses to a new life, will create such 
conditions for the majority of the population as will enable everybody, 
without exception, to perform "state functions," and this will lead to the complete 
withering away of every form of state in general. 

"... The object of the mass strike," Kautsky continues, "can never be to destroy the 
state power; its only object can be to wring concessions from the government on some 
particular question, or to replace a hostile government by one that would be more 
yielding (entgegen kommende) to the proletariat. . . . But never, under any conditions, can 
it" (that is, the proletarian victory over a hostile government) "lead to the destruction of 
the state power; it can lead only to a certain shifting (Verschiebung) of the relation of 
forces within the state power. . . . The aim of our political struggle remains, as hitherto, 
the conquest of state power by winning a majority in parliament and by converting 
parliament into the master of the government." (Pp. 726, 727, 732.) 

This is nothing but the purest and the most vulgar opportunism: repudiating 
revolution in deeds, while accepting it in words. Kautsky's thoughts go no further 
than a "government . . . that would be more yielding to the proletariat" ~ a step 
backward to philistinism compared with 1847, when 

page 142 

the Communist Manifesto proclaimed "the organization of the proletariat as the 
ruling class." 

Kautsky will have to achieve his beloved "unity" with the Scheidemanns, 
Plekhanovs and Vanderveldes, all of whom agree to fight for a government "that 
would be more yielding to the proletariat." 

But we shall break with these traitors to Socialism, and we shall fight for the 
complete destruction of the old state machine, in order that the armed proletariat 
itself shall become the government. These are two vastly different things. 

Kautsky will have to enjoy the pleasant company of the Legiens and Davids, 
Plekhanovs, Potresovs, Tseretelis and Chernovs, who are quite willing to work for 
the "shifting of the relation of forces within the state power," for "winning a 
majority in parliament," and converting parliament into the "master of the 
government." A most worthy object, which is wholly acceptable to the 

opportunists and which keeps everything within the bounds of the bourgeois 
parhamentary repubhc. 

But we shall break with the opportunists; and the entire class-conscious 
proletariat will be with us in the fight ~ not to "shift the relation of forces," but to 
overthrow the bourgeoisie, to destroy bourgeois parliamentarism, for a 
democratic republic after the type of the Commune, or a republic of Soviets of 
Workers' and Soldiers' Deputies, for the revolutionary dictatorship of the 

To the right of Kautsky in international Socialism, there are trends such as the 
Socialist Monthlyim in Germany (Legien, 

page 143 

David, Kolb and many others, including the Scandinavians Stauning and 
Branting); the folio were of Jaur&egraves and Vandervelde in France and 
Belgium; Turati, Treves and other representatives of the Right wing of the Italian 
Party; the Fabians and "Independents" (the Independent Labour Party, which, in 
fact, has always been dependent on the Liberals) in England[34]; and the hke. All 
these gentry, who play a tremendous, very often a predominant role in the 
parliamentary work and the press of the party, repudiate outright the dictatorship 
of the proletariat and pursue a policy of un concealed opportunism. In the eyes of 
these gentry, the "dictatorship" of the proletariat "contradicts" democracy!! There 
is really no essential difference between them and the petty-bourgeois democrats. 

Taking this circumstance into consideration, we are justified in drawing the 
conclusion that the Second International, in the case of the overwhelming 
majority of its official representatives, has completely sunk into opportunism. The 
experience of the Commune has been not only forgotten, but distorted. Far from 
inculcating in the workers' minds the idea that the time is nearing when they must 
take action, smash the old state machine, replace it by a new one, and in this way 
make their political rule the foundation for the socialist reconstruction of society, 
they have actually preached to the masses the very opposite and have depicted the 
"conquest of power" in a way that has left thousands of loopholes for 

The distortion and hushing up of the question of the relation of the proletarian 
revolution to the state could not but play an immense role at a time when states, 
which possess a military apparatus expanded as a consequence of imperialist 
rivalry, have turned into military monsters which are extermi- 

page 144 

nating millions of people in order to settle the issue as to whether England or 
Germany ~ this or that finance capital ~ is to rule the world.* 

* The MS. continues as follows: 


OF 1905 AND 1917 

The subject indicated in the title of this chapter is so vast that volumes could and should be 
written about it. In the present pamphlet we shall have to confine ourselves, naturally, to the most 
important lessons provided by experience, those touching directly upon the tasks of the proletariat 
in the revolution in relation to state power. (Here the manuscript breaks off. --Ed.) 

page 145 


This pamphlet was written in August and September 1917. 1 had already drawn 
up the plan for the next, the seventh, chapter, "The Experience of the Russian 
Revolutions of 1905 and 1917." But except for the title I had no time to write a 
single line of the chapter; I was "interrupted" by a political crisis ~ the eve of the 
October Revolution of 1917. Such an "interruption" can only be welcomed; but 
the writing of the second part of the pamphlet ("The Experience of the Russian 
Revolutions of 1905 and 1917") will probably have to be put off for a long time. 
It is more pleasant and useful to go through the "experience of the revolution" 
than to write about it. 

The Author 

November 30, 1917 

Written in August-September 1917 

Published in pamphlet form in 1918 
by the Zhizn i Znaniye Publishers 

Printed according to the pamphlet 

Published by Kommunist Publishers 
in 1919 and verified with the manu- 
script and the 1918 edition 

From Marx 
to Mao 


^ .. Notes on 

^^^^ the Text 



page 146 


^" Lenin wrote The State and Revolution while underground in August and September 1917. He 
first spoke of the necessity of theoretically elaborating the question of the state during the latter 
half of 1916. At that time he wrote a note entitled "The Youth International" (see Collected Works, 
4th Russ. ed., Vol. XXIII, pp. 153-56), in which he criticized Bukharin's anti-Marxist stand on the 
question of the state and promised to write a detailed article on the Marxist attitude to the state. In 
a letter to A. M. Kollontai dated February 17, 1917, Lenin stated that he had almost finished his 
material on the Marxist attitude to the state. This material was closely written in small handwriting 
in a blue-covered notebook entitled Marxism on the State. It contained a collection of quotations 
from Marx and Engels and excerpts from books by Kautsky, Pannekoek and Bernstein, with 
Lenin's critical annotations, conclusions and generalizations. 

According to the outlined plan. The State and Revolution was to contain seven chapters, but the 
seventh and last chapter, "The Experience of the Russian Revolutions of 1905 and 1917," 
remained unwritten; all we have is a detailed plan for it. (See Lenin Miscellany, Russ. ed.. Vol. 
XXI, 1933, pp. 25-26.) Concerning the publication of the book Lenin indicated in a note to the 
publisher that if he "should take too long to finish this seventh chapter, or if it should turn out to be 
too bulky, the first six chapters should be published separately as Part One." 

On the first page of the manuscript the author of the book appears under the pseudonym of F. F. 
Ivanovsky. Lenin proposed to use it because the Provisional Government would otherwise 
confiscate the book. The book was not published until 1918, when there was no longer any need 
for a pseudonym. A second edition containing a new 

page 147 

section, "The Presentation of the Question by Marx in 1852," added by Lenin to Chapter II, 
appeared in 1 9 1 9 . [ preface] 

^^^ Fabians - members of the reformist and opportunist Fabian Society, formed by a group of 
British bourgeois intellectuals in 1884. The society took its name from the Roman General Fabius 
Cunctator (the "Delayer"), famous for his procrastinating tactics and avoidance of decisive battles. 
The Fabian Society represented, as Lenin put it, "the most finished expression of opportunism and 
liberal-labour politics." The Fabians sought to deflect the proletariat from the class struggle and 
advocated the possibility of a peaceful, gradual transition from capitalism to socialism by means 
of reforms. During the imperialist world war (1914-18) the Fabians took a social-chauvinist stand. 
For a characterization of the Fabians, see Lenin's "Preface to the Russian Edition of Letters by J. 
F. Becker, J. Dietzgen, F. Engels, K. Marx and Others to F. A. Sorge and Others " (V. I. Lenin, 
Marx-Engels-Marxism, Moscow, 1953, pp. 245-46), "The Agrarian Program of Social-Democracy 
in the Russian Revolution" (Collected Works, 4th Russ. ed.. Vol. XV, p. 154), and "English 
Pacifism and English Dislike of Theory" (ibid., Vol. XXI, p. 234). [p.2] 

^^^ See Frederick Engels, "The Origin of the Family, Private Property and the State" (Karl Marx 
and Frederick Engels, Selected Works, Eng. ed., Moscow, 1951, Vol. II, pp. 288-89). 

Below, on pp. 9-10, and 12-17 of this pamphlet, Lenin again quotes this work by Engels {ibid., 
p. 289, and pp. 289-92). [p.7] 

^^^ See Frederick Engels, Anti-D&uumlhring, Eng. ed., Moscow, 1947, pp. 416-17. 
Below, on p. 23 of this pamphlet, Lenin again quotes this work by Engels {ibid., p. 275). [p.i9] 

^^^ See Karl Marx, The Poverty of Philosophy, Eng. ed., Moscow, [p.24] 

^^^ See Karl Marx and Frederick Engels, "Manifesto of the Communist Party" {Selected Works, 
Eng. ed., Moscow, 1951, Vol. I, pp. 32-61). [p.24] 

^^^ See Karl Marx, " Critique of the Gotha Program " (Karl Marx and Frederick Engels, Selected 
Works, Eng. ed., Moscow, 1951, Vol. II, pp. 13-45). 

The Gotha Program - the Program of the Socialist Workers' Party of Germany adopted in 1875 
at the Gotha Congress, where the two previously separate German socialist parties, the 
Eisenachers and the Lassalleans, united. This program was thoroughly opportunist since the 
Eisenachers had made concessions to the Lassalleans on all important 

page 148 

questions and had accepted Lassallean formulations. Marx and Engels subjected the Gotha 
Program to withering criticism, [p.25] 

^^^ See Karl Marx, The Poverty of Philosophy, Eng. ed., Moscow, p. 174. [p.27] 

^'^^ See Karl Marx and Frederick Engels, "Manifesto of the Communist Party" {Selected Works, 
Eng. ed., Moscow, 1951, Vol. I, pp. 43 and 50). [p.27] 

^^°^ See Karl Marx, "The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte" (Karl Marx and Frederick 
Engels, Selected Works, Eng. ed., Moscow, , Vol. I, p. 301). 

Below, on p. 37 of this pamphlet, Lenin quotes the introduction by Engels to the third German 
edition of the work mentioned {ibid., p. 223). [p.32] 

^^" Die Neue Zeit - a German Social-Democratic magazine published in Stuttgart from 1883 to 
1923. In 1885-95 the magazine published some of Engels' articles. Engels often offered advice to 
its editors and sharply criticized them for their departure from Marxism. Beginning with the latter 
half of the nineties, after Engels' death. Die Neue Zeit systematically carried articles by 
revisionists. During the imperialist world war of 1914-18 it took a Centrist, Kautskyite stand and 
supported the social-chauvinists, [p.39] 

^^^^ See Karl Marx and Frederick Engels, Selected Works, Eng. ed., Moscow, 1951, Vol. II, p. 

410. [p.39] 

^^^^ Karl Marx and Frederick Engels, "Manifesto of the Conmiunist Party" {Selected Works, Eng. 
ed., Moscow, 1951, Vol. I, p. 22). [p.43] 

"4^ Karl Marx and Frederick Engels, Selected Works, Eng. ed., Moscow, 1951, Vol. II, p. 420. 


'''' See V. I. Lenin, Collected Work, 4th Russ. ed., Vol. XII, pp. 83-91. [p.44] 

^^^^ See Karl Marx, "The Civil War in France" (Karl Marx and Frederick Engels, Selected Works, 
Eng. ed., Moscow, 1951, Vol. I. pp. 468-71) 

Below, on pp. 52, 53, and 60-65 of this pamphlet, Lenin again quotes this work by Marx {ihid., 
pp. 473, 471, 472, and 471-74). [p.50] 

^^^^ This passage from Marx's The Civil War in France is quoted by Lenin from the text of the 
German edition. [p.53j 

^^^^ See Frederick Engels, " The Housing Question " (Karl Marx and Frederick Engels, Selected 
Works, Eng. ed., Moscow, 1951, Vol. I, pp. 517-18). 

page 149 

Below, on pp. 69-70 of this pamphlet, Lenin again quotes this work by Engels {ibid., pp. 569, 

555). [p.68] 

^^'^^ Lenin refers here to Marx's article "Der politische Indifferentismus" ("Political 
Indifferentism") (Karl Marx and Frederick Engels, Collected Works, Ger. ed., Berlin, Vol. XVIII, 
pp. 299-304) and Engels' "On Authority" (Karl Marx and Frederick Engels, Selected Works, Eng. 
ed., Moscow, 1951, Vol. I, pp. 575-78). 

Below, on pp. 71 and 73-74 of this pamphlet, Lenin quotes the same articles. [p.Vi] 

^^°^ See Karl Marx and Frederick Engels, Selected Works, Eng. ed., Moscow, 1951, Vol. II, pp. 
38-39. [p.77] 

^^" The Erfurt Program of the German Social-Democratic Party was adopted in October 1891 at 
the Erfurt Congress to replace the Gotha Program of 1875. The errors in the Erfurt Program were 
criticized by Engels in his work "On the Critique of the Social-Democratic Draft Program of 
1891" (Karl Marx and Frederick Engels, Collected Works, Ger. ed., Berlin, Vol. XXII, pp. 225- 

Below, on pp. 80-87 of this pamphlet, Lenin quotes the same work by Engels {ibid., pp. 232- 

37). [p.79] 

[''^ V. I. Lenin, "A Question of Principle," Collected Works, 4th Russ. ed.. Vol. XXIV, pp. 497- 

99. [p.87] 

[23] -Y\iQ reference here is to the introduction by Engels to Marx's The Civil War in France (Karl 
Marx and Frederick Engels, Selected Works, Eng. ed., Moscow, 1951, Vol. I, pp. 429-40). 

Below, on pp. 88-89, and 90-94 of this pamphlet, Lenin again quotes this work by Engels {ibid., 
pp. 430-31, 435, 438, 439). [p.88] 

^^^^ Cavaignac, Louis Eug&egravene ~ French general; after the revolution of February 1848, 
Minister of War of the Provisional Government of France; during the June days of 1848, he was in 
charge of suppressing the uprising of the Parisian workers, [p.89] 

^^^^ On International Topics from "The People's State.'' [p.95] 

[26] pj-e^jenck Engels, Vorwort zur Broschure "Internationales aus dem 'Volksstaat' (1871-75 )" 
(Karl Marx and Frederick Engels, Collected Works, Ger. ed., Berlin, 1963, Vol. XXII, pp. 417- 

18). [p.96] 

^^^^ "Majority" in Russian is "bolshinstvo"; hence the name "Bolshevik." [p.96] 

^^^^ See Karl Marx, "Critique of the Gotha Program" (Karl Marx and Frederick Engels, Selected 
Works, Eng, ed., Moscow, 1951, Vol. II, p. 30). 

page 150 

Below, on pp. 102, 109, 1 11-12, and 113-14 of this pamphlet, Lenin again quotes this work by 
Marx iihid., pp. 30, 21, 22, and 23). [p.i02] 

^^'^^ Lenin refers to Tugan-Baranovsky, a Russian bourgeois economist, [p.iii] 

^^°^ The Hague Congress of the First International took place on September 2-7, 1872. It was 
attended by 65 delegates, among whom were Marx and Engels. The following questions, among 
others, were on the agenda: 1) the powers of the General Council; 2) the political activity of the 
proletariat. A keen struggle with the Bakuninists marked all the proceedings of the Congress. The 
Congress resolved to extend the powers of the General Council. Its resolution on "the political 
activity of the proletariat" stated that the proletariat must organize a political party of its own to 
ensure the triumph of the social revolution and that its great task henceforth was the conquest of 
political power. The Congress expelled Bakunin and Guillaume from the International as 
disorganizers and founders of a new, anti-proletarian party. [p.i24] 

^^^^ Zarya (Dawn ) ~ a scientific-political Marxist magazine published in Stuttgart in 1901-02 by 
the editors of Iskra. Four issues appeared in three instalments. The Zarya carried the following 
articles by Lenin: "Casual Notes," "The Persecutors of the Zemstvo and the Hannibals of 
Liberalism," the first four chapters of " The Agrarian Question and the 'Critics of Marx' " (under the 
title "Messrs. the 'Critics' on the Agrarian Question"), "Review of Internal Affairs" and "The 
Agrarian Program of Russian Social-Democracy ." [p. 126] 

^^^^ The reference is to the Fifth International Socialist Congress of the Second International, held 
on September 23-27, 1900, in Paris, which 791 delegates attended. The Russian delegation 
consisted of 23 members. On the main question<the conquest of political power by the 
proletariat<the Congress majority adopted the resolution proposed by Kautsky which Lenin 
described as "conciliatory with regard to the opportunists." Among other decisions the Congress 
resolved to establish an International Socialist Bureau to consist of representatives of socialist 
parties of all countries. Its secretariat was to have its seat in Brussels. [p.i26] 

^^^^ Socialist Monthly (Sozialistische Monatshefte ) ~ the chief organ of the opportunists among 
the German Social-Democrats and an organ of international opportunism. It was published in 
Berlin from 1897 to 1933. During the imperialist world war of 1914-18 it took a social-chauvinist 
stand, [p. 142] 

^^^^ The Independent Labour Party was formed in 1893 and was led by James Keir Hardie, J. 
Ramsay MacDonald, and others. It claimed 

page 151 

to be politically independent of the bourgeois parties; actually it was "independent of socialism, 
but dependent upon liberalism" (Lenin). At the beginning of the imperialist world war of 1914-18 
the Independent Labour Party issued a manifesto against the war on August 13, 1914, but later, at 
the London Allied Socialist Conference in February 1915, its representatives supported the social- 
chauvinist resolution adopted by that conference. From that time onward the LL.P. leaders, under 
cover of pacifist phrases, took a social-chauvinist stand. With the formation of the Communist 
International in 1919, the LL.P. leaders, yielding to the pressure of the rank and file, which had 
swung to the Left, resolved to withdraw from the Second International. In 1921, the LL.P. joined 
the so-called Two-and-a-Half International, and after its collapse re-affiliated to the Second 
International. [p.i43]