Baburam Bhatarrai: New Revolutionary State (Part 2)

In this context it would be worthwhile to note the warnings of Rosa Luxemburg made from a left revolutionary angle, despite her certain idealist and voluntarist limitations, on the future of the Soviet state:

“Without general elections, without unrestricted freedom of press and assembly, without a free struggle of opinion, life dies out in every public institution, becomes a semblance of life, in which only the bureaucracy remains as the active element. Public life gradually falls asleep, a few dozen party leaders of inexhaustible energy and boundless experience direct and rule. Among them, in reality only a dozen outstanding heads do the leading and an elite of the working class is invited from time to time to meetings where they are to applaud the speeches of the leaders, and to approve proposed resolutions unanimously-at bottom, then, a clique affair- a dictatorship, to be sure, not the dictatorship of the proletariat, however, but only the dictatorship of the handful of politicians, that is a dictatorship in the bourgeois sense…”. (Luxemburg 1918:118)

After Lenin’s death in 1924, Stalin made efforts to continue and develop the Soviet state in a socialist direction. However, firstly due to a type of economic deterministic thinking that envisaged the development of the productive forces per se would lead the society towards communism, an one-sided stress was laid on economic development through central planning. Secondly, in the particularity of heightened contradictions with imperialism in and around the World War II, the ‘external’ cause was accorded primacy and the policy of applying force of state power to settle internal contradictions within the state and the Party was followed. Consequently, by the time of Stalin’s death in 1953 the Soviet state was caught in a vicious bureaucratic quagmire, and with Khrushchev’s advent it assumed an open bureaucratic capitalist and totalitarian character, which was ultimately transformed into naked capitalism in 1989.

With the ‘peaceful’ degeneration of the dictatorship of the proletariat in Russia into the dictatorship of the bourgeoisie, Mao sought to draw grave lessons from it and developed the theory of continuous revolution under the dictatorship of the proletariat, or the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution (GPCR). Even beforehand during the Chinese revolution Mao had developed the concept of a new type of state in the form of ‘people’s democratic dictatorship’ or ‘New Democracy’ to complete bourgeois democratic revolution under the leadership of the proletariat in pre-capitalist or semi-feudal and semi-colonial societies and to move towards socialism. These are incorporated in his celebrated works like “On New Democracy” (1939), “On People’s Democratic Dictatorship” (1949), etc. After the revolution when there was the danger of the people’s democratic dictatorship (till 1956) and the dictatorship of the proletariat (1956 onwards) undergoing bureaucratization and degenerating into bourgeois dictatorship, Mao searched for new methods to ensure supervision and participation of the masses in the state and to correctly handle contradictions prevalent in society. In this process were penned such important works like “On Ten Major Relations” (1956), “On Correct Handling of Contradictions Among the People” (1957), etc. Later on in the Sixties, when the Khruschovite revisionists blatantly abandoned the principle of dictatorship of the proletariat and advanced the bourgeois concept of the ’state of the entire people’, Mao launched a powerful polemics against the same, which is widely known as the ‘Great Debate’.

The method of ensuring maximum and continuous participation of the masses in the state through the practice of ‘great democracy’ under the leadership of the proletariat, is the question of utmost importance in checking bureaucratic deviations and building a new type of state, which is reflected in Mao’s assertion:

“We must have this much confidence. We are not even afraid of imperialism, so why should we be afraid of great democracy? Why should we be afraid of students taking to the streets? Yet among our Party members there are some who are afraid of great democracy, and this is not good. Those bureaucrats who are afraid of great democracy must study Marxism hard and mend their ways.” (Mao 1977:347)

There is no doubt that the GPCR carried out from 1966 to 1976 under the leadership of Mao made historic contribution in the development of a new type of proletarian state. In this context particularly noteworthy are: widespread slogans of “It is right to rebel’, ‘Bombard the bourgeois headquarter’ etc; revolutionary committees made up of non-Party masses to conduct state functions in the model of Paris Commune; formation Red Guards in millions through the arming of the masses; inclusion of the rights of workers to strike in the state constitution; etc.

Nevertheless, the incidence of counterrevolution from within the existing state and restoration of bourgeois dictatorship in China after Mao’s death in 1976, has added further responsibilities on the shoulders of the new age revolutionaries to build a new type of proletarian state. In this context we should move further ahead after drawing positive and negative lessons of practices of dictatorship of the proletariat from the Paris Commune through the Russian Soviet to the Chinese GPCR. It is obvious that as long as the era of imperialism prevails and there is the compulsion of building socialism within a single country, nobody can and should objectively deny the possibility of counter-revolution after a revolution. Even then, if we can’t provided scientific and logical answer to the subjective factors behind the relatively easy and more or less ‘peaceful’ occurrence of counter-revolution and restoration of bourgeois dictatorship in nearly half of the world that had dozens of socialist and people&rsquo

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