Jump to content
  • By Comradeland,

    Vol. 2 · Iss. 8
    This text is adapted slightly from "Thinking Like a Communist," a contribution to the Educational Program of North Korea by Comradeland.
    I'd hazard to say that for most people stepping into socialism doesn't begin with theory, it begins with a feeling. A feeling that something isn't right in the world, the inequalities start to mount up and can no longer be ignored, the disparities in power and punishment start to glare. So you say to yourself, "Gee, things sure are unfair, I wonder why that is?"
    This is the first step on the road for most to Communism. But what does it mean to think like a Marxist? What is it like to see the world through Marxist lenses? Put into four words our thought process can be condensed down to "dialectically, revolutionary, scientifically, practicality".
    Dialectically
    To start with, we see the world dialectically. This means we view life and history as a series of contradictory and opposing forces. Rich vs poor, landed vs unlanded, urban vs rural, the list goes on. These forces are opposing, and through their clashing of interest's history is advanced. We view all of history through this lens, with almost no room for "great men" to enact their will on history. Instead, "great men" are just the mouthpieces of dialectical forces moving in the background.
    A communist knows that there are eternal forces fighting against the advent of worker power. A liberal or conservative might say "Oh unions are weak now, shame that nobody cares anymore!" chalking the bulk of the responsibility to individual feelings. A communist on the other hand knows that the reason unions are weak is decades of attack from the capitalist class to degrade their effectiveness. Nothing happens without reason, people didn't stop caring about unions on their own, they were lead there by forces stronger and richer than unionized labor.
    Here's a simple way to begin thinking dialectically. Next time you hear something on the news like "People continue to protest the recent shooting in Charlotte", think about the forces that caused this. On one side you have a racist and oppressive police force that stands in defense of bourgeoisie capital, and on the other side you have a collection of oppressed minorities and allies. Rather than looking at it as "a bunch of angry people protesting", look at them as a part of the larger dialectical force of "the unsatisfied oppressed masses". If violence or looting happens, it's not an expression of a few rogue individuals doing what they want, it's the expression of dispossessed class anger. En-masse people are more expressions of class forces than their individual desires.
    Revolutionary
    Next, our mindset should always strive to be revolutionary. What this means is that we do not get caught under the wheels of trying to reform a broken system. To us, it is impossible to reorient the class structure without destroying it. In the same way you can't slowly explode a bomb, you can not slowly reform and rearrange classes.
    Having a revolutionary mindset simply means that we will not attempt to reform the system or accept it the way it is. Only a radical destruction of the existing class structures (banks, government institutions, businesses, ect) and rebuilding under the control of the working class is tolerable.
    This does come with a certain amount of acceptance on the need for eventual armed resistance. Communists know that the capitalist system will never give up without a fight, and will certainly never allow us to take over and destroy them without a fight. Ideas of peaceful resolution need to be discarded, no class is going to willingly allow itself to be destroyed, especially not the richest, greediest, and smallest class of capitalists.
    Scientifically
    Thirdly, our approach to the world is scientifically. The basis of this is our belief in materialism. Materialism means that we believe everything that exists has an explainable and understandable reason. In this life, things like ghosts, a supreme being, superstitions, curses, voodoo, and other non-real things have no impact on reality. The world is a rational and understandable place, nothing in it can not be explained with science. The mind does not control or create objective reality. We believe strongly in learning from the examples of history, and by analyzing the forces at play much of social development can be made into a science. But unlike anthropology we primarily concern ourselves with the economic interactions between classes as the driving force for change.
    Practicality
    And lastly, our actions should always strive for practicality. We struggle to move the masses from where they are, not from where we want them to be. Our actions must always be guided by practicality, not by idealism. Here is an easy idealism to get lost in: "socialism is inevitable". There is nothing to prove this is true, history does not bear this out, and yet I always hear it from people. Society is not on some intrinsic path forwards to being more humane and equal, it must be brought there with hard work. We do not believe that thoughts and feelings on matters is good enough, or that our personal feelings justify incorrect courses of action.
    This is one of the greatest hurdles when it comes to socialists working together. Sometimes the compromises that have to be made for the practical situation upset the more puritanical book learned members of the movement. This is especially true in my experience of followers of Trotsky, who complain endlessly about the failures of various socialist movements yet have exactly 0 of their own successful revolutions to show. Things like Lenin's New Economic Policy, or Stalin's Socialism in One Country may not be the most puritan "correct" communist decisions, but they WERE the correct decisions for the materialist conditions they were made in.
    We do not believe that any reliable change ever arises from "good intentions". Reliable change only comes from having a practical stand against things that are directly causing oppression. For example, liberals love to talk about "good cops". And while the good cop narrative might appeal to people who want to feel good, or think that the individual matters as much as the system, it is practically speaking – false. Sure there are good individuals, people who tuck their kid in at night, kiss their SO before going off to work, and then plant their boot firmly on the necks of the oppressed. A communist does not care about how nice of a person the police man is, from a practical standpoint that officer is supporting oppression and an oppressive system, this is the only thing that matters about that person if you are fighting against oppression. So to me it hardly matters who that cop is, I must oppose him on the basis of practicality if nothing else. He stands against equality and my interests, thus he must be confronted and known to be the enemy.
    Communists do not believe that things like "moral character", "strength of will", or "optimism" are acceptable advancement methodologies. Simply believing is not enough to enact change!
    We do not believe in a liberal concept of "human rights". The idea that the right to education, healthcare, liberty, justice, and all that jazz just because you are a human is great in theory. However, as communists we believe that these things will never be secured if we rely on human's good will and intentions, especially parliamentary politics. Under capitalism the average person is degraded to the point they do not think they can effect change, their vacillitations in opinion at the ebb and flow of corporate media and money means that anything deemed a "right" today can be taken away tomorrow. The only method of guaranteeing effective human rights that can not be denied is to build a just system around them that guarantees them simply through its normal operating procedure. Not only that, but we must set aside a liberal concept of "equality" to remove those who are perpetuating inequality within our system. A liberal might say "A capitalist has as much freedom to earn money as you!", while a communist knows that nobody should have the power to oppress and exploit another, and that the liberals concept of "freedom" is just freedom for the slave owner.
    A communist economic system is this guarantee. It's not enough to say that all people should have a voice, you have to actually give them one by smashing the economic organs controlling media and voting. It's not enough to say that healthcare is a right and provide a "cheap" way to get it, it must be guaranteed in the constitution and social contract. It's not enough to say that you deserve a justice system that is fair, you have to destroy the corrupt for-profit system entirely. You can not legislate human rights, you can only guarantee them by making their guarantee a vital part of the social contract. Human rights flow from the system, not from individuals or "allowing" people to have them.

    By Jane McAlevey, for Jacobin,

    By Jane McAlevey,

    Vol. 2 · Iss. 8
    Power comes in many forms, but for the working class it always boils down to the same fundamental ingredient: unbreakable solidarity. In my two decades of organizing across the United States, we almost always win when workers are in the driver's seat. We lose when we forgot about solidarity and think we might succeed with easier, less confrontational activities like lawsuits, policy mobilization, and cozying up to elected officials.
    Today's struggle for social change requires the same worker-focused strategies and methods that built enough power to achieve the amazing social and economic gains made by ordinary people from the 1930s through the 1960s. Everything old is new again.
    Think the "gig economy" is something fresh and exciting? Think again. It promises (and delivers) the same endless insecurity, lousy benefits, extreme power inequality, and demoralizing treatment faced by our grandparents who labored in the coal mines and garment factories of the 1920s. Granted, the bathrooms are a lot nicer now, and if you work for a tech company you sometimes get free M&Ms.
    Workers and worker-organizers in those times knew that they could not address the depredations of ruthless employers without confronting the question of power — both in society at large and on the shop floor itself. Building real workplace democracy is about identifying the already existing, organic leaders of the working class and helping them move into position to successfully lead their coworkers into battle.
    The goal is what 1930s-era radical labor organizer William Z. Foster called "systematic mass participation." Building that kind of mass participation should still be the principal goal of rank-and-file and staff organizers today.
    The Class Struggle Theory of Power
    Capitalism has changed over the past eighty years, but certain things remain the same. People get up in the morning, go to work, and find out that they live in the same old nasty world where you can be fired for any reason — or no reason at all — and someone is always cutting your benefits and messing with your schedule.
    The basis for organizing workers today, then, is the same as it's always been. In my years as a labor organizer and negotiator, I do this by adhering to a class struggle theory of power, in which I identify and mentor organic worker-leaders by engaging in hard fights and constant testing.
    I can't do this on the shop floor because paid staff are legally barred from private-sector workplaces before the union is formed (and often through the first contract-negotiations period); I do it by demystifying power and teaching workers how to get it for themselves.
    Organizers, whether paid or unpaid, are leaders, defined as people with real followers who trust them and support them — not employees or colleagues. A true leader can only serve with the active support of their community or other workers. Most social-change activists, by contrast, are not organizers.
    Organic leaders are ordinary people inside and outside the workplace who are already leaders before anyone sends them to some "leadership development" workshop. These leaders are the essential ingredient to building power by developing unbreakable solidarity — a solidarity that will not back down in the face of adversity and will do what it takes to win.
    The most critical skill of an organizer, then, is to be savvy about identifying the most respected workers and persuading them to support the union or fight for any other cause. The role of organizers is to identify the organic leaders and coach them through the inevitable fight with the employer, which is often ugly and difficult. Organizers can only find these leaders by having serious conversations with all of the workers.
    By the same token, mass participation only happens when thousands of organic leaders rise up from the ranks and help their fellow workers to understand their own power to change their lives for the better. Any labor organizing strategy that puts power in the hands of consultants, union staff, pollsters, political operatives, or backdoor deal-making by top union leadership is doomed to failure. Unfortunately, this characterizes much of what passes for "organizing" these days, in both labor and community arenas.
    Vol. 2 · Iss. 7
    After only two months in fascist hands, Alliance Against Nazis was returned to the protection of The Red Fleet after the fash founder "Kjez" was deleted by moderators for unknown rules violations. Several other nations were deleted around the same time, including "Sarkamil" in Nazi Europa.
    Alliance Against Nazis is a historic antifascist region with a history stretching back to 2011 in the region "The Alliance Against Nazis." It was later retired and protected by the Syndicated Red-Black Tendencies, another historical leftist region, before it was turned over to The Red Fleet. In 2014, The Red Fleet refounded Alliance Against Nazis to use as a "jump point"—a region that is late in the update list and can be used to stage offensive and defensive operations against fascist regions. In January, the founder was deleted, making the region vulnerable to fascist attack.
    Alliance Against Nazis was invaded by Nazi Europa under the leadership of Captain Woodhouse and now-permanently banned player Verborgenen Herrn. After the Security Council passed a resolution to Liberate AAN, preventing fash troops from applying a hidden password, Woodhouse abandoned the operation. Herrn defected from Nazi Europa, taking with him the Nazi soldier roster and several troops, who continued to squat in the Liberated region.
    A refound attempt failed when Nazi troops allowed the region to cease to exist at update, not realizing that moderators had implemented a ban on regions with "Nazi" in the name. When moderators lifted the ban, Kjez was the first into the region, establishing himself as the region's founder.
    Nazi observers seem to have been unaware of the deletion of Kjez. Leftist troops were alerted through the successful implementation of RainbowStalin, an early alert system designed to notify players of important nation deletions.
    Vol. 2 · Iss. 7
    LeftExpo, the NationStates-wide festival for leftist regions and players, is planned to return in October 2016 for its fourth incarnation.
    Last year's theme was "Comrades, Come Rally!" as leftists celebrated the first anniversary of The Internationale's refounding which coincided with the anniversary of Eugène Pottier writing the words to the eponymous leftist anthem.
    This year, organizers have planned the expo as a celebration of the life and works of Eugene Victor "Gene" Debs, an American socialist, union activist, and the most successful Socialist candidate for President of the United States in US history. Organizers have planned "exciting events for this year's outing, including a renewed Lecture Series, conversation and music sharing via Radio Internationale, regional showcases, and more" that will be announced in coming weeks.
    Anyone who is interested in writing a lecture for the LeftExpo 2016 Lecture Series is invited to telegram @Caelapes.
    Vol. 2 · Iss. 6
    Comrade Members of The Internationale went to the ballots again in July to elect their Comrade WA Delegate and General Council.
    Sitting delegate Caelapes declined his nomination, announcing his resignation from political office in The Internationale after having served as Delegate or Custodian unbroken from September 2014 onward.
    Three candidates emerged for Comrade WA Delegate: former delegates Auhl and World Anarchic Union, and newcomer Scieca (AciecS), originally from North Korea. In the instant-runoff vote, Scieca claimed victory over her challengers before resigning from the World Assembly, withdrawing from consideration and leaving the region. After second-preference ballots were distributed, World Anarchic Union prevailed over Auhl and returned to the Delegate seat after previously serving during the Second Defense of The Internationale. Days later, Scieca revealed that she had participated in a raid with Kaiserreich, an imperialist and fascist region, and was banned from North Korea and The Internationale's forum.
    Timchiland returns as the region's Councillor for External Affairs, a post he had previously held in the first General Council elected in November 2015. Irish Peoples Republic, another past Comrade WA Delegate, was elected Councillor for Activities in a hotly contested race. The Councillorship for Information remains vacant with no candidates entered.
    The fourth General Council's term began on July 18.
    Vol. 2 · Iss. 6
    The Internationale has launched a new website, https://theredand.black, which is integrated with its offsite forums.
    Although the website was soft-launched in mid-July, it did not officially go live before today, when the Regional Message Board Archive, historical delegates, and Red + Black archive stretching back to the first issue were made fully public. "Our old website used WordPress, was not mobile-friendly, and was completely separate from our forum. The new website integrates seamlessly with our forum and looks and works phenomenally on mobile devices."
    The Regional Message Board Archive has been expanded to include all posts from The International, the region's first refuge region; The Red and Black, its second; and posts made to The Internationale during its first refoundation. The posts span a period of six years, beginning in 2010. New to the RMB Archive are proper handling of suppressed posts, proper mobile display, and the inclusion of date-appropriate pretitles.
    "A future project related to historical nation data is in the works, but we are able to offer an early glimpse with this integration into the Regional Message Board Archive," explains Caelapes. "When rendering each post from the database, we take the timestamp of the RMB post and grab the most recent pretitle—such as 'The Rose Commune of...'—for the poster based on timestamp. This also applies to quotes and [nation] tags that are not explicitly marked 'short'. Because the database is not yet complete, some nations are not yet included, but more will come online as data continues to be processed." Mobile display is handled by using Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) to make display windows narrower than typical computer screens act like the mobile version of NationStates, while wider displays function just like the standard site.
    A page has also been established showing all elected Comrades WA Delegate in The Internationale's history, stretching back to Proletaire's election in September 2009. The General Council, established with the adoption of the Charter in 2015, also has its history included. Expansion of the historical section over the next several months is planned as The Internationale Historical Restoration Project continues its work.
    Exclusive publication of the Red + Black
    The new website will serve as the exclusive publication source for the Red + Black, bringing an end to previous attempts to publish the newspaper simultaneously on NationStates itself and on the offsite community. Caelapes explains the decision, saying, "With full control of publication, we will be able to cover topics without needing to adjust our editorial stance on certain topics. Independence of NS Left media is an important step in keeping our coverage uncensored by NationStates site staff."
    Lastly, a complete archive of Red + Black articles stretching back to Volume 1, Issue 1 in December 2014 have been uploaded, allowing players to read the full gamut of news offerings offered over the past two years. "New articles will be posted into this system, which integrates with our forum for comments and displays the articles in a really highly polished manner," says Caelapes.
    Comrades from all regions who are interested in writing for the Red + Black or being a part of the editorial staff of the publication are welcomed to get involved by joining on The Internationale's forum.
    Vol. 2 · Iss. 5
    The Internationale, a historic region that has been at the vanguard of the NationStates Left since its foundation in 2009, has again been successfully refounded by its regional leadership.
    Following the deletion of former custodian nation Illa Passiflora in January, The Internationale again moved into exile as its longtime leaders organized its defense and eventual refounding. Several long-time members received the first-class Hero of The Internationale medal for their efforts in securing the region, including former Comrade WA Delegates World Anarchic Union, Proletaire, Auhl, and Irish Peoples Republic. Other comrades receiving the medal for their efforts were Pangaean Peoples, Ratateague, Timchiland, and Godless Monkey.
    While the community moved to The Red and Black, where it thrived due to heightened visibility especially in the wake of the World Assembly Secretary-General election, the name of the community remained "The Internationale" and it was surely widely expected that another refound attempt was coming. The Internationale had first been refounded on June 30, to coincide with the anniversary of Eugene Pottier writing the words to the song that became the region's namesake. Fearing that reusing this date would lead to a possible intercept by fascist forces, regional leaders instead chose to refound The Internationale on June 15.
    On June 15, 2009, The Internationale was originally founded by La Pasionaria and other comrades who came to NationStates from the failed NS2 project. Among these comrades was Proletaire, who appropriately has assumed the Custodianship of The Internationale in his successful refound.
    The Red + Black began as the news service of The Internationale and has since become the news service of the wider NS Left. It certainly is good to be home!
    L'Internationale sera le genre humain!
    Vol. 2 · Iss. 4
    After leading all three preliminary rounds, Caelapes has won the general election for the first-ever Secretary-General of the World Assembly.
    Early votes went to Edward Rump and Hillary Anders, parodies of US Presidential candidates Ted Cruz, Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, and Bernie Sanders. Caelapes became the first independent candidate shortly after the polls opened, running on the campaign slogan "FULLCOMMUNISM for NationStates!" With widespread support from leftist regions, Caelapes stormed to first place in the polls and remained there throughout the first rounds of the election.
    Early opposition to Caelapes included Edward Rump, who placed second in the first round but fell out of the top ten in later rounds. Mikeswill, a candidate running on a promise to abolish the Security Council, secured Nazi and fascist endorsements to secure third place in the first round and fifth place in the second, but fell out of favor in the final preliminary round. Raiders' choice candidate We Are Not TBH had strong support through the preliminaries, but rallied fewer than 300 votes in the general election.
    Kaalmi, running as Ugandan dictator Idi Amin, seemed poised to be the anti-communist candidate of choice in the general election, placing second in the final round and gaining the endorsement of Nazi and fascist regions. Instead, joke candidate The Salaxalans stormed into second place, holding steady around 380 votes behind Caelapes for most of the race while Kaalmi fell to fourth, only gaining 349 votes. A late rally for Salaxalans brought them within 250 votes of Caelapes, but it was too little to stop the speeding train.
    Anti-communists tried every trick in the book to derail Caelapes's candidacy, from accusing Caelapes of using illegal puppet-voting scripts to take the lead to false flags accusing the campaign of racism. All of these were discredited, most notably the allegations of puppets being the only support behind Caelapes, as the general election began with votes restricted to World Assembly nations. With each individual player only being able to vote with one nation in accordance with NationStates rules, Caelapes still had the most supporters, securing roughly forty-one percent of the vote.
    The success of Caelapes's candidacy also came as a benefit to his home region, The Red and Black. More than one hundred nations moved into the region after the start of the election, with many drawn by the successful campaign.
    Winning the election as Secretary-General came with only a green "WA Secretary-General" badge designed similarly to the one given to WA Delegates.
    Caelapes plans to begin implementing his first Five-Month Plan for the World Assembly soon.

    By Party for Socialism and Liberation, for Liberation School,

    By Party for Socialism and Liberation,

    Vol. 2 · Iss. 4
    With a communist Secretary-General in the WA Headquarters, a question is on the minds of many across NationStates: "Why socialism?" The following text, presented by the Party for Socialism and Liberation, explains what Marxists desire for the world.
    What will socialist society look like?
    The earliest pioneers of scientific socialism—Karl Marx and Frederick Engels—did not philosophize about what socialism and communism would look like in detail. Nor did they discuss how long it would take to transform society from capitalism to socialism.
    In "The German Ideology," one of his early writings from 1845, Marx wrote the famous lines: "In communist society, where nobody has one exclusive sphere of activity but each can become accomplished in any branch he wishes, society regulates the general production and thus makes it possible for me to do one thing today and another tomorrow, to hunt in the morning, fish in the afternoon, rear cattle in the evening, criticize [philosophize] after dinner, just as I have a mind, without ever becoming hunter, fisherman, herdsman or critic."
    No one, Marx included, took this as a literal forecast of what communism would look like. It was seen rather as a way of illustrating the division of labor that future communist societies would inherit from the preceding class society.
    Instead, Marx and Engels devoted much of their work to creating an outline of economic development based on a thorough analysis of capitalism. Their goal was to determine what a new society could look like, as opposed to earlier socialists who tried to dictate what society should look like.
    Marxism, as scientific socialism is known today, begins with the struggle between antagonistic classes in society. The class struggle has taken different forms throughout history, from the struggle between slaves and masters in ancient Egypt and Rome to the struggle of serfs against landlords in feudal Europe.
    By the time Marx and Engels were writing, the classes had become even more widely separated. The overwhelming majority of working people were forced to labor daily in order to meet their basic needs, while a tiny minority reaped more and more profit from the exploited classes. The working class, which was growing in size and social weight, represented those of the exploited classes that had to sell their labor power on a daily basis in order to survive. This condition continues today.
    In the working class, Marx saw not only the force that could overthrow capitalist exploitation, but also the foundation for a classless society without exploitation—communism. "If the proletariat during its contest with the bourgeoisie is compelled, by the force of circumstances, to organize itself as a class," Marx and Engels wrote in the Communist Manifesto, "if by means of a revolution it makes itself the ruling class and, as such, sweeps away by force the old conditions of production, then it will, along with these conditions, have swept away the conditions for the existence of class antagonisms and of classes generally."
    Transition to communism
    At the heart of the Marxist conception of the socialist revolution is a dialectical understanding of social change: History evolves according to laws of motion governed by the conflict of opposing forces, with the outcome depending on what has come before. In particular, socialist and communist society can come about not by will or by design alone, but as the result of overcoming capitalist society through revolutionary struggle.
    "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," Marx wrote in the 1872 "Critique of the Gotha Program." The new society is "thus in every respect, economically, morally and intellectually, still stamped with the birthmarks of the old society from whose womb it emerges."
    It was in the "Critique of the Gotha Program" that Marx was most specific about what he could discern about the future socialist and communist society.
    The first task, he wrote, was to smash the capitalist class' state apparatus—the dictatorship of the bourgeoisie—and replace it with the dictatorship of the proletariat. The working class would need a period to repress the efforts of the former ruling class to regain political power.
    What was unique about the workers' state was that it sows the seeds for its own elimination or transformation from a state to a non-state. As the state representing the interests of the vast majority, for the first time in history, the workers' state would gradually reduce the mechanism for class repression—first, by eliminating exploitation that gave rise to the need for a state. This first step, though, requires the creation of generalized equality through the elimination of material scarcity. Under the new socialist order, the growth of the means of production, to the point where society's abundance eliminates the individual struggle for existence, allows for the gradual withering away of the state. It is a process rooted in material advances, not a decree or edict, that abolishes the state.
    Once the purely defensive needs of the workers' state are completed, the real tasks of socialist construction can begin. During this first phase of communist society—Lenin notes in "State and Revolution" that this phase is generally known as socialism—the main task will be the enhancement of the productive forces and the overcoming of the "birthmarks of the old society."
    Socialism: 'To each according to their work'
    The lower phase of communism, Marx projected, would be based on the slogan, "From each according to their ability, to each according to their work." He described this as follows: "The individual producer receives back from society—after the deductions have been made—exactly what he gives to it. … The same amount of labor which is given to society in one form is received back in another."
    This is a huge step forward from life under capitalism. Under capitalism, workers receive less in the form of wages than the full amount of their labor. The owning class appropriates a share of the value produced by the laborer in the form of private profit.
    Nevertheless, Marx pointed out that this lower phase of communism is still an unequal economic arrangement—that it is still based on the "bourgeois right" of formal equality, or political-economic equality among unequal people. For example, this formal "equal right" enforces inequality of people with different needs. It does not take into account the number of children in a workers' family, for example, or the physical or mental capacity of the worker. There are further inequalities between skilled and unskilled workers and mental and physical labor.
    "With an equal performance of labor," Marx noted, "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."
    Russian revolutionary leader V.I. Lenin elaborated on this theme in "State and Revolution:" "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!"
    The reality of inequality also endures because individuals in bourgeois society are profoundly stratified at the time of the revolution. For example, millions of people in the United States own large homes—sometimes more than one—and have large savings and assets. An even larger number have next to nothing.
    Unless the workers' state was to immediately expropriate the assets of what is known as the "upper middle class"—an act that would cause immense social turmoil following the revolution—this facet of inequality will remain for some time. Equal payment for labor performed, while a huge step forward, does not eradicate the vast inequality that is derived from the bourgeois society.
    The higher stage of communism
    A bourgeois state without the bourgeoisie—this is the distinctive feature under socialism as opposed to the higher stage of communism. This state under socialism, however, has a feature unheard of under capitalism. In the words of Frederick Engels in the 1878 pamphlet "Anti-Dühring:" "It withers away."
    Lenin spent a significant portion of "State and Revolution" clarifying the Marxist conception of the withering away of the state. In particular, he pointed out against the reformists that the capitalist state does not wither away—the capitalist state must be uprooted in the course of workers' revolution.
    But under socialism—after the revolution—the need for the state as a repressive apparatus gradually changes to an administrative organ for running society. Against "bourgeois right," the new society will be able to develop the productive forces to such an extent that the inequalities in society can be overcome.
    "The economic basis for the complete withering away of the state," Lenin wrote, "is such a high level of development of communism at which the antithesis between mental and physical labor disappears, at which 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.
    "The state will be able to wither away completely when society adopts the rule: 'From each according to their ability, to each according to their needs.'"
    Lenin wrote those words in 1917, on the eve of the first socialist revolution the world had yet seen, in the former Russian empire. He, with Marx and Engels, had only the experience of the two months of the Paris Commune on which to base their analyses.
    He acknowledged as much when he noted that "we are entitled to speak only of the inevitable withering away of the state … 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."
    Experiences in socialist construction
    Thanks in great part to the practical experience of Lenin in making revolution, 21st-century socialists have a wealth of experience on which to base further conclusions. Marxists have been able to use accumulated theory and practice in order to lead revolutions in Russia, China, Korea, Yugoslavia, Cuba and many other countries.
    While there have been vast differences in the experiences of those socialist revolutions, they share one common feature: The socialist revolutions of the 20th century took place in countries where the level of productive forces was very low compared to the imperialist countries. Every successful revolution faced the primary task of developing their economies—while under constant military threat by world imperialism.
    For that reason, Lenin described the challenges of building communism in 1920 in very practical terms: "Communism is Soviet power plus the electrification of the whole country." There was no hope in building socialism if the economy remained underdeveloped.
    Because of the combined challenges of developing the productive forces under the gun of world imperialism, no socialist revolution has yet reached a stage where the "withering away of the state" could be imagined. Imperialism has seized on any weakness in the revolutionary states in order to foment counterrevolution.
    Nevertheless, the working classes in the countries that have set out to build socialism have made tremendous gains. Russia's working class in 1917 was 4 percent of the population. Within 50 years, it was the second-most powerful economy in the world.
    China had never been able to feed its entire population prior to the revolution. Millions died during famines in China prior to 1949. Yet after the 1949 revolution, for the first time the economy was able to feed the largest population in the world.
    Despite immense pressure from imperialism, Cuba has been able to achieve tremendous gains—despite the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. Cuban workers enjoy among the highest living standards of any of their counterparts in Latin America or much of the oppressed world.
    The continued military and economic dominance by world imperialism—first and foremost by U.S. imperialism—has made the transition to socialism that Marx and Lenin described so far impossible. The workers' states have needed to devote a considerable part of their social development toward the strengthening of the proletarian dictatorship—the army and police—in order to defend against invasion or counterrevolution.
    Taking that next step will require a society based on the dictatorship of the proletariat in the United States. Toppling the world's dominant capitalist power would not only lift a tremendous burden from the workers around the world who are trying to engage in socialist construction. It would put at the disposal of the world working class the tremendous wealth produced by the U.S. working class. All the social wealth extracted from the oppressed world by U.S. corporations and mines could be used to reverse the effects of centuries of colonial and imperialist exploitation.
    A revolution in the United States would undercut the economic basis for divisions among the working class that promote racism, sexism and homophobia.
    Socialism is a system of peace, justice and equality. The road to socialism begins with revolution in the United States.

    By anarchists, for Anarchist FAQ,

    By anarchists,

    Vol. 2 · Iss. 4
    The text below is reproduced from the Anarchist FAQ, to give an anarchist perspective on the goals for a free society.
    As we have seen, "an-archy" implies "without rulers" or "without (hierarchical) authority." Anarchists are not against "authorities" in the sense of experts who are particularly knowledgeable, skilful, or wise, though they believe that such authorities should have no power to force others to follow their recommendations (see section B.1 for more on this distinction). In a nutshell, then, anarchism is anti-authoritarianism.
    Anarchists are anti-authoritarians because they believe that no human being should dominate another. Anarchists, in L. Susan Brown's words, "believe in the inherent dignity and worth of the human individual." Domination is inherently degrading and demeaning, since it submerges the will and judgement of the dominated to the will and judgement of the dominators, thus destroying the dignity and self-respect that comes only from personal autonomy. Moreover, domination makes possible and generally leads to exploitation, which is the root of inequality, poverty, and social breakdown.
    In other words, then, the essence of anarchism (to express it positively) is free co-operation between equals to maximise their liberty and individuality.
    Co-operation between equals is the key to anti-authoritarianism. By co-operation we can develop and protect our own intrinsic value as unique individuals as well as enriching our lives and liberty for "no individual can recognise his own humanity, and consequently realise it in his lifetime, if not by recognising it in others and co-operating in its realisation for others . . . My freedom is the freedom of all since I am not truly free in thought and in fact, except when my freedom and my rights are confirmed and approved in the freedom and rights of all men and women who are my equals."
    While being anti-authoritarians, anarchists recognise that human beings have a social nature and that they mutually influence each other. We cannot escape the "authority" of this mutual influence, because, as Bakunin reminds us:
    "The abolition of this mutual influence would be death. And when we advocate the freedom of the masses, we are by no means suggesting the abolition of any of the natural influences that individuals or groups of individuals exert on them. What we want is the abolition of influences which are artificial, privileged, legal, official."
    In other words, those influences which stem from hierarchical authority.
    This is because hierarchical systems like capitalism deny liberty and, as a result, people's "mental, moral, intellectual and physical qualities are dwarfed, stunted and crushed." Thus one of "the grand truths of Anarchism" is that "to be really free is to allow each one to live their lives in their own way as long as each allows all to do the same." This is why anarchists fight for a better society, for a society which respects individuals and their freedom. Under capitalism, "everything is upon the market for sale: all is merchandise and commerce" but there are "certain things that are priceless. Among these are life, liberty and happiness, and these are things which the society of the future, the free society, will guarantee to all." Anarchists, as a result, seek to make people aware of their dignity, individuality and liberty and to encourage the spirit of revolt, resistance and solidarity in those subject to authority. This gets us denounced by the powerful as being breakers of the peace, but anarchists consider the struggle for freedom as infinitely better than the peace of slavery. Anarchists, as a result of our ideals, "believe in peace at any price -- except at the price of liberty. But this precious gift the wealth-producers already seem to have lost. Life . . . they have; but what is life worth when it lacks those elements which make for enjoyment?"
    So, in a nutshell, Anarchists seek a society in which people interact in ways which enhance the liberty of all rather than crush the liberty (and so potential) of the many for the benefit of a few. Anarchists do not want to give others power over themselves, the power to tell them what to do under the threat of punishment if they do not obey. Perhaps non-anarchists, rather than be puzzled why anarchists are anarchists, would be better off asking what it says about themselves that they feel this attitude needs any sort of explanation.
×