17 March 2020

4. Character of the Revolution

There are no get-rich-quick solutions to establish working class rule and, eventually, communism. Coups or takeover attempts by a minority are bound to fail, as is participation in capitalist coalition governments.

Capitalism can only be superseded by the working class uniting itself internationally and rallying all who are oppressed. Without working class rule there can be no socialism, no human freedom, no ecologically sustainable production, no end to exploitation.

Only a revolution supported by the large majority can establish socialism. We fully support the battle cry of the Chartists: “Peacefully if we can, forcefully if we must.”

4.1. Classes in the revolution

The working class is the only consistently revolutionary section of society. Without owning any of the means of production of society, it has nothing to lose but its chains. Of course, left to itself, left to spontaneity, it is riven with sectionalism and exists merely as a slave class, capable of being economically militant, even insurrectionary, but not hegemonic. What makes it a hegemonic class is unity around the communist programme.

The working class constitutes a large majority of the population in Britain – as well as in Europe, the US, Japan and other advanced capitalist powers. The working class consists of not only the employed, but the non-employed – pensioners, those on sickness and unemployment benefit, carers looking after young children or aged relatives, students being trained for the labour market, etc.

Traditional distinctions between manual and non-manual work are more and more irrelevant because of social development. Hence besides manual industrial workers the working class also includes workers in the health service, transport, the civil service and local government, as well as non-manual workers in industry, finance and distribution, such as technicians, clerical and sales staff.

If the working class does not elevate itself from being a slave class, it finds its common actions paralysed or limited by opposing competitive interests, which divide every section against every other section.

The capitalist class – those who live by exploiting labour power and who serve the self-expansion of capital – are very small in number. But history, wealth, positions of corporate power, connections with the state make it the ruling class, and the class whose ideas rule society.

There are, however, deep internal contradictions. Not only is capitalist pitted against capitalist in the market, but finance capital exploits industrial capital and big capital exploits medium and small capital.

What does this mean for small and medium capitalists?

On the one hand, medium and small capitalists suffer due to their disadvantageous position in the market and lack of an intimate relationship with the state. On the other, they benefit from big capital’s global reach and ability to pacify the working class.

All capitalists are united in needing the working class to remain wage slaves in perpetuity. So, as well as contradictions, there are common interests. Contradictions are secondary.

This is mirrored politically. Medium and small capitalists are united behind the monopolies and great financial corporations. They have no real independent voice. Ideologically narrow-minded, the small capitalists try to influence society through institutions which are in the main entirely subordinate to big capital.

The task of communists is to break the working class from the influence of all sections of the bourgeoisie. There can be no strategic alliance with the medium and small capitalists. Individuals from the bourgeoisie can come over to the side of the working class, but never any section of it. However, the working class can and should take advantage of the contradictions within the bourgeoisie. Some capitalists may support giving in to demands of the working class, though this damages other capitalists. Concessions open up fissures in the ranks of our enemy and help to neutralise sections of it.

The middle class, including the classic petty bourgeoisie – the self-employed, lawyers and other professionals, career criminals – and also middle management, middle-grade civil servants, trade union officials – shades into the bourgeoisie at its upper end and into the working class at the lower. Inevitably it wavers between the two main classes in society. To the extent that it has its own political programme, it is based on reactionary and utopian calls for a return to small, family production and national independence.

As capitalism relentlessly revolutionises the circumstances of production, elements within the middle class find old, privileged positions being dissolved. Such a process gives rise to explosive shifts and political intervention can speed the process of proletarianisation. Economic crises plunge the middle class into turmoil and into political action.

Workers ought to seek, as opportunities present themselves, alliances with the various organisations and manifestations of these intermediate strata. Indeed the working class must represent the middle class against capital in so far as this does not contradict its own interests.

The middle class can under no circumstances be regarded a consistent ally of the working class. That said, success in prising it away from capital deprives our main enemy of a major social prop and adds to the momentum of revolution.

4.2. The working class constitution

This section outlines the form of organisation of the state and political life. It represents the culmination and continuation of our immediate demands.

Incongruous as it might seem, the aim of this constitution is to facilitate its own negation. The constitution of the workers’ state will become simply a piece of paper, an historical document, as the state withers away along with classes.

The principles of our constitution are not gleaming abstractions nor a utopian dream. They are born out of a scientific understanding of the class struggle and reflect real historic experience. Crucially that the seizure of state power is not the final culmination of the class struggle.

Communists fight to achieve the following:

  • Supreme power in the state will be a single popular assembly composed of delegates who are elected and recallable at any time. Pay of delegates will be no greater than the average skilled worker.
  • All parties which accept the laws of the new revolutionary order as binding will be free to operate. We accept the possibility of one party or coalition of parties replacing another peacefully. Minorities have the right and should be given the opportunity to become majorities.
  • There must be no financial penalties to inhibit standing in elections. There should be an open count.
  • Local organs of government must have a wide degree of autonomy.
  • The principle of openness in state affairs will be guaranteed.
  • All international agreements counter to the interests of the working class will be abrogated.
  • There will be no censorship. There must be the right to communicate on all topics.
  • The existing armed forces and the police will be disbanded. In their place there will be a people’s militia that will embody the right of everyone to bear arms.

4.3. Economic measures

The workers’ state inherits not only sectors of the economy that capitalism has socialised in its own way, but those sectors owned by small and medium capital and the petty bourgeoisie as well as a middle class which possesses various skills monopolies. Under these conditions universal nationalisation, forced collectivisation and flat-wage egalitarianism are ruled out – historical experience certainly shows that they lead to disaster.

Planning and state control of the financial sector and the monopolies is posed by capitalist development itself. Confiscation could be used as a political weapon against those capitalists who refuse to cooperate or who rebel. But the full socialisation of production is dependent on and can only proceed in line with the withering away of skills monopolies of the middle class and hence the division of labour.

The economy under working class rule will therefore be contradictory: there is a socialised part and a part which consists of surviving capitalist elements. The aim, however, is to slowly extend the socialised part of the economy so as to finally replace the market and the law of value with conscious planning and production for human need. Socialism will thereby transform the commodity back into a product and make labour directly social.

In order to facilitate this we envisage the following measures:

  • The radical extension of democratic decision-making in the socialised sector of the economy. Managers to be elected and rotated through short terms of office. All important decisions relating to production, hiring and firing, etc, must be ratified by workers’ committees.
  • Shorter working hours and a major expansion of adult education and training to facilitate individuals changing jobs and taking on management and coordination roles.
  • In the remaining capitalist sector workers will be guaranteed full rights.
  • Unemployment will be abolished. There will be an obligation for everyone to work – the only exception being those who are unable to do so for reasons of health or age.
  • Planning must be based on the widest participation, discussion and decision-making processes.
  • Production to be redirected towards socially useful ends and to be reorganised so as to radically reduce the major social and international economic inequalities.
  • Limited liability and corporate personality will be abolished. Tax loopholes will be closed and inheritance tax made genuinely progressive.
  • Tax and other measures to encourage cooperatives.

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