The Revolutionary Process between Capitalism and Communism

The collapse of the financial system although not leading to the collapse of capitalism (which only the working class can bring about) has provoked a renewed discussion on how we get from capitalism to communism. Several comrades (both within and without the ICT) have already written discussion documents to look at the problems. These have stimulated much discussion and disagreement. Our solution for the moment is to put our comrades contributions all together in this section of our website (see Discussions on Socialism on the side panel). These documents do not necessarily represent the views of the ICT but each individual takes responsibility for them. We have taken this step because of the nature of the topic in order to have the maximum of open discussion and debate. Nevertheless the early indications are that we have some basic agreements. The first of these is that we accept what Marx says on the necessity for a period of transition.

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

This is because the working class under capitalism cannot build up an alternative mode of production in the old society as the capitalists did under feudalism. As Marx reasons our transformation of society begins with the overthrow of the capitalist state. Only once this is dealt with can we begin to construct a society based on the satisfaction of human needs and not exploitation.

We also have a large measure of agreement on the principal outlines or principles on which a communist society would be based. It would be a classless, stateless society in which the principle “from each according to their ability to each according to their need” would be established. There would be no frontiers, no exploitation and some (or various) form(s) of collective production. At the moment the main way in which such a society could be organised would be something akin to the workers’ councils discovered by the working class in the revolutionary wave around the First World War. These were bodies which solved the problem of how we can have a system which encourages participation of all society’s members and not leave the task of running the world to an elite or specialised category of “politicians”. They worked because the principle of delegation meant that representatives could be recalled at any time (no need to wait 5 years) and the delegates were not representatives (i.e. they carried a mandate and did not just decide for themselves how they would argue or vote).

So we have a substantial agreement on how the process opens and where it should end but the tricky bit is how we get from one to the other. As one of our Italian comrades wrote

… we know the point of departure, we know where we want to get to but we don’t know what the road which carries us to our goal will be like, just how tortuous it will be or what diversions we will have to take to overcome the most challenging obstacles, setbacks, and even momentary backward steps. We cannot completely rule out the possibility that the revolutionary fire will spread like a flash from one end of the planet to the other, allowing us to end the game with the bourgeoisie in a single round thus passing directly to the building of the new society, but realistically, we have a duty to consider other scenarios which are less favourable and less imaginative, scenarios that pose the expansion of the revolutionary wave in a less triumphant way. For us it is obvious that the revolutionary process must have an international character, which will involve more countries in a relatively short time, otherwise it will inevitably be defeated; but we cannot assume that it will happen as automatically as dominoes, where the first to fall, inevitably leads to the fall all the others.

Celso Beltrami, Prometeo November 2013

The bit in between today and the establishment of communism is the one which leaves itself open to debate and even speculation. In it we can only reflect on the history of working class experience and the level of development of a globalised capital today exploiting 3.2 billion proletarians. This leaves much room for discussion but we hope ours will be within the methodological parameters of historical materialism and like Marx, avoid trying to give prescriptions or blueprints for a future which still has to be decided by a wider class movement.

Sunday, September 20, 2015