December 5, 2011 9:41 PM
Polemic On Revolution
By Lil Joe
Classes rule, States are instruments of class rule. Revolutions are insurrections by means of which the rising classes displace the ruling classes.
"For instance, privilege, the institution of guilds and corporations, the regulatory system of the Middle Ages, were the only social relations that corresponded to the acquired productive forces and to the pre-existing social conditions from which those institutions had emerged. Protected by the corporative and regulatory system, capital had accumulated, maritime trade had expanded, colonies had been founded—and man would have lost the very fruits of all this had he wished to preserve the forms under whose protection those fruits had ripened. And, indeed, two thunderclaps occurred, the revolutions of 1640 and of 1688. In England, all the earlier economic forms, the social relations corresponding to them, and the political system which was the official expression of the old civil society, were destroyed."
From the late 16th century into the first decades of the 20th century there arose capitalist establishments in connection with world markets - capitalist commodity production and appropriation on a global scale and the Industrial Revolution that drew peasants, vagabonds, runaway serfs, slaves and corvee labour servants from feudal forms of bondage where products had been appropriated by landed aristocracies as rent and taxes, in kind or cash. The capitalist mode of appropriation of labor power is by purchase.
"In acquiring new productive forces men change their mode of production; and in changing their mode of production, in changing the way of earning their living, they change all their social relations. The hand-mill gives you society with the feudal lord; the steam-mill, society with the industrial capitalist."
In the the industrial capitalist enterprises, the capitalists were in possession of money - often derived from finance capital, and would purchase the raw materialis, coal, charcoal from landed aristocrats and rent locations to erect their factories and productive forces -machines and so on served as constant capital in the possession of the industrial capitalists. Labor power purchased by capitalists is employed as variable capital. The labor process is the activity by which the value of constant and variable capital is preserved and transferred (sublated) but at the same time new or fresh value is added to the product [valorisation] that is surplus value, the basis of profits.
The former peasants, serfs, vagabonds and so on migrated to the cities where they offered their labor power as commodities - they became proletarians. The U.S. Civil War was the triump of industrial capitalist commodity production on the basis of wage labor abolishing agrarian capitalist commodity production by chattel slaves labor. The "Emancipation Proclamation" eliminated chattel slavery, and the former slaves were 'free' to become share croppers, farmers, cowboys, craftsmen, petty bourgeoisie and ultimately in the majority, proletarians.
Marx, Engels and Lenin argued that the rise of industrial capitalism at that time was still in a sea of petty boureois peasantry and feudal relations had not yet reached its point of tottering; that the bourgeoisie was small and politically weak. It initially sided politically with the abolute monarchies until it became economically and politically powerful enough to displace them. By the mid 17th century the bourgeoisie that was already an economic power became the political power in the English and French Revolutions.
Russia however had remained feudal agricultural production and appropriation into the 20th century. Bourgeois economic and political power had yet to rise to the fore. Marx, Engels and Lenin argued that it lacked the industrial basis and industrial proletariat required for socialist revolution.
On Social Relations in Russia
Source: MECW, Volume 24, p. 39;
Written: between mid-May 1874 and April 1875;
First Published: part V as a pamphlet, parts I-IV in Der Volksstaat in 1875; Transcribed: by Andy Blunden
On the subject matter, Mr. Tkachov tells the German workers that, as regards Russia, I possess not even a “little knowledge”, possess nothing but “ignorance”, and he feels himself, therefore, obliged to explain the real state of affairs to them, particularly the reasons that, just at the present time, a social revolution could be accomplished in Russia with the greatest of ease, much more easily than in Western Europe.
“We have no urban proletariat, that is undoubtedly true; but, then, we also have no bourgeoisie; ... our workers will have to fight only against the political power — the power of capital is with us still only in embryo. And you, sir, are undoubtedly aware that the fight against the former is much easier than against the latter.”
The revolution that modern socialism strives to achieve is, briefly, the victory of the proletariat over the bourgeoisie and the establishment of a new organisation of society by the destruction of all class distinctions. This requires not only a proletariat to carry out this revolution, but also a bourgeoisie in whose hands the social productive forces have developed so far that they permit the final destruction of class distinctions. Among savages and semi-savages there likewise often exist no class distinctions, and every people has passed through such a state. It could not occur to us to re-establish this state, for the simple reason that class distinctions necessarily emerge from it as the social productive forces develop. Only at a certain level of development of these social productive forces, even a very high level for our modern conditions, does it become possible to raise production to such an extent that the abolition of class distinctions can constitute real progress, can be lasting without bringing about stagnation or even decline in the mode of social production. But the productive forces have reached this level of development only in the hands of the bourgeoisie. The bourgeoisie, therefore, in this respect also is just as necessary a precondition for the socialist revolution as is the proletariat itself. Hence a man who says that this revolution can be more easily carried out in a country where, although there is no proletariat, there is no bourgeoisie either, only proves that he has still to learn the ABC of socialism. http://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1874/refugee-literature/ch05.htm
Also See: Works of Karl Marx 1881 First Draft of Letter To Vera Zasulich
V,I.Lenin: The Development of Capitalism in Russia Chapter 2: The Process of the Formation of a Home Market for Large-Scale Industry http://www.marxists.org/archive/lenin/works/1899/devel/index.htm#Chapter2
Lenin "What The Freiends of the People " Are, and How they Fight the Social Democrats
Vladimir Ilyich Lenin
The Tasks of the Proletariat in the Present Revolution
[a.k.a. The April Theses]
Lenin: Left Childishness and the Petty-Bourgeois Mentality
It was the Narodnik, the Anarchists, Trotsky and later Bukharin and Stalin that advocate that 'socialism, could exist on the basis of state policies -that is with a Communist Party in government and managing the economy, in agrarian and industrialising Russia, where capitalist commodity production by peasants, kulaks, state farms and industrial capitalist commodity production was owned by these classes or by the state, but 'planned' production and distribution by 'workers control'. The result, however, was by the 1980s even the state sectors capitalist commodity production by wage labor were privatised commoditity production by wage labor.
Communist worker's revolution can only occur where the productive forces have outgrown the capitalist character of production and appropriation. As far as workers ownership of the productive forces, this is meant by revolutionary expropriation of the capitalists -
"As soon as this process of transformation has sufficiently decomposed the old society from top to bottom, as soon as the labourers are turned into proletarians, their means of labour into capital, as soon as the capitalist mode of production stands on its own feet, then the further socialization of labour and further transformation of the land and other means of production into socially exploited and, therefore, common means of production, as well as the further expropriation of private proprietors, takes a new form. That which is now to be expropriated is no longer the labourer working for himself, but the capitalist exploiting many labourers. This expropriation is accomplished by the action of the immanent laws of capitalistic production itself, by the centralization of capital. One capitalist always kills many. Hand in hand with this centralization, or this expropriation of many capitalists by few, develop, on an ever-extending scale, the cooperative form of the labour process, the conscious technical application of science, the methodical cultivation of the soil, the transformation of the instruments of labour into instruments of labour only usable in common, the economizing of all means of production by their use as means of production of combined, socialized labour, the entanglement of all peoples in the net of the world market, and with this, the international character of the capitalistic regime. Along with the constantly diminishing number of the magnates of capital, who usurp and monopolize all advantages of this process of transformation, grows the mass of misery, oppression, slavery, degradation, exploitation; but with this too grows the revolt of the working class, a class always increasing in numbers, and disciplined, united, organized by the very mechanism of the process of capitalist production itself. The monopoly of capital becomes a fetter upon the mode of production, which has sprung up and flourished along with, and under it. Centralization of the means of production and socialization of labour at last reach a point where they become incompatible with their capitalist integument. This integument is burst asunder. The knell of capitalist private property sounds. The expropriators are expropriated.
The capitalist mode of appropriation, the result of the capitalist mode of production, produces capitalist private property. This is the first negation of individual private property, as founded on the labour of the proprietor. But capitalist production begets, with the inexorability of a law of Nature, its own negation. It is the negation of negation. This does not re-establish private property for the producer, but gives him individual property based on the acquisition of the capitalist era: i.e., on cooperation and the possession in common of the land and of the means of production. http://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1867-c1/ch32.htm
"Whilst the capitalist mode of production more and more completely transforms the great majority of the population into proletarians, it creates the power which, under penalty of its own destruction, is forced to accomplish this revolution. Whilst it forces on more and more the transformation of the vast means of production, already socialised, into state property, it shows itself the way to accomplishing this revolution. The proletariat seizes political power and turns the means of production in the first instance into state property. But, in doing this, it abolishes itself as proletariat, abolishes all class distinctions and class antagonisms, abolishes also the state as state. Society thus far, based upon class antagonisms, had need of the state, that is, of an organisation of the particular class, which was pro tempore the exploiting class, for the maintenance of its external conditions of production, and, therefore, especially, for the purpose of forcibly keeping the exploited classes in the condition of oppression corresponding with the given mode of production (slavery, serfdom, wage-labour). The state was the official representative of society as a whole; the gathering of it together into a visible embodiment. But it was this only in so far as it was the state of that class which itself represented, for the time being, society as a whole: in ancient times, the state of slave-owning citizens; in the Middle Ages, the feudal lords; in our own time, the bourgeoisie. When at last it becomes the real representative of the whole of society, it renders itself unnecessary. As soon as there is no longer any social class to be held in subjection; as soon as class rule, and the individual struggle for existence based upon our present anarchy in production, with the collisions and excesses arising from these, are removed, nothing more remains to be repressed, and a special repressive force, a state, is no longer necessary. The first act by virtue of which the state really constitutes itself the representative of the whole of society — the taking possession of the means of production in the name of society — this is, at the same time, its last independent act as a state. State interference in social relations becomes, in one domain after another, superfluous, and then dies out of itself; the government of persons is replaced by the administration of things, and by the conduct of processes of production. http://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1877/anti-duhring/ch24.htm
My own research into previous revolutions of the English Revolutions of 1640, the Civil War and Reformation, the 'Glorious' Revolution of 1688, whereby already existing capitalist commodity production by wage labor had already made the bourgeois the prominant economic power, and these political revolutions overthrew the feudal political institutions, the House of Commons thus becane dominant, the Great French Revolution of 1789- 99, similarly a bourgeois democratic republican revolution as was England 1640, where the 3rd Estate abolished the 1st and 2nd feudal and clergy estates and ushered in the National Assembly through which the bourgeois established its political monopoly -again capitalist commodity production on the basis of wage labor was already economically prevelent. The proletarian revolution in the United States will be based on the working class forming its own, politically independent class party that is financially based on the trade unions and socially in the working class as a whole, which will win the battle of democracy by becoming the majority in the House of Representatives and abolishing the Presidency, Senate and Judicial powers.
In England the Industrial Revolution brought the industrial capitalists to dominate the economy and national politics, the same happened in France as the Industrial Revolution spread there, making the French industrial bourgeoisie economically and politically dominate.
The Industrial Revolution spread throughout Western Europe and North America, creating the industrial proletariat as concentrated in social production of commodities. Industrial unions, socialist, labor and communist parties formed by means of which the proletariat as a class fought both the encroachments of capital by strikes and for political power by barricades and then by ballots. It is on the basis of social labor in capitalist industries and fields that the working class will expropriate the capitalists - winning the battle of democracy meaning becoming electoral majorities and thereby legislate the transfer of the productive forces from the private possessions of the capitalist classes to the public property of the working classes.
Public or common ownership of the means of social production and distribution by being 'social' or 'common' property, public property being the property of everyone as social individuals is the property of no one in particular. But, this is not yet socialism.
Socialism/communism emerges on the basis of social production as this society of free and equal social producers manage production phasing out capitalist commodity production and wage labor - wage labor and capital will be done away with and thereby the end of alienation of labor and dehumanization of proletarians and capitalists will no longer exist.
"Within the co-operative society based on common ownership of the means of production, the producers do not exchange their products; just as little does the labor employed on the products appear here as the value of these products, as a material quality possessed by them, since now, in contrast to capitalist society, individual labor no longer exists in an indirect fashion but directly as a component part of total labor. The phrase "proceeds of labor", objectionable also today on account of its ambiguity, thus loses all meaning.
"What we have to deal with here 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 emerges. Accordingly, the individual producer receives back from society -- after the deductions have been made -- exactly what he gives to it. What he has given to it is his individual quantum of labor. For example, the social working day consists of the sum of the individual hours of work; the individual labor time of the individual producer is the part of the social working day contributed by him, his share in it. He receives a certificate from society that he has furnished such-and-such an amount of labor (after deducting his labor for the common funds); and with this certificate, he draws from the social stock of means of consumption as much as the same amount of labor cost. The same amount of labor which he has given to society in one form, he receives back in another.
"Here, obviously, the same principle prevails as that which regulates the exchange of commodities, as far as this is exchange of equal values. Content and form are changed, because under the altered circumstances no one can give anything except his labor, and because, on the other hand, nothing can pass to the ownership of individuals, except individual means of consumption. But as far as the distribution of the latter among the individual producers is concerned, the same principle prevails as in the exchange of commodity equivalents: a given amount of labor in one form is exchanged for an equal amount of labor in another form.
"Hence, equal right here is still in principle -- bourgeois right, although principle and practice are no longer at loggerheads, while the exchange of equivalents in commodity exchange exists only on the average and not in the individual case.
"In spite of this advance, this equal right is still constantly stigmatized by a bourgeois limitation. The right of the producers is proportional to the labor they supply; the equality consists in the fact that measurement is made with an equal standard, labor.
"But one man is superior to another physically, or mentally, and supplies more labor in the same time, or can labor for a longer time; and labor, to serve as a measure, must be defined by its duration or intensity, otherwise it ceases to be a standard of measurement. This equal right is an unequal right for unequal labor. It recognizes no class differences, because everyone is only a worker like everyone else; but it tacitly recognizes unequal individual endowment, and thus productive capacity, as a natural privilege. It is, therefore, a right of inequality, in its content, like every right. Right, by its very nature, can consist only in the application of an equal standard; but unequal individuals (and they would not be different individuals if they were not unequal) are measurable only by an equal standard insofar as they are brought under an equal point of view, are taken from one definite side only -- for instance, in the present case, are regarded only as workers and nothing more is seen in them, everything else being ignored. Further, one worker is married, another is not; one has more children than another, and so on and so forth. Thus, with an equal performance of labor, and hence an equal 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.
"But these defects are inevitable in the first phase of communist society 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.
"In a higher phase of communist society, after the enslaving subordination of the individual to the division of labor, and therewith also the antithesis between mental and physical labor, has vanished; after labor has become not only a means of life but life's prime want; after the productive forces have also increased with the all-around development of the individual, and all the springs of co-operative wealth flow more abundantly -- only then 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 needs! http://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1875/gotha/ch01.htm
Also see Marx-Engels The [Critique of] German Ideology Chapter 10 part D
Also see Marx's Economic and Philosophic Manuscripts of 1844: Private Property and Communism @
Karl Marx -Frederick Engels: The [Critique of] German Ideology: Private Property and Communism @
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