Introduction to Discussions on Socialism


This section of our website — Discussions on Socialism — is devoted to an open discussion between comrades about issues arising from the discussion over the nature of a future socialist/communist (for Marx, Engels and ourselves the terms are identical) society. Much of this discussion will tend to the speculative since we cannot foresee the precise form a future revolutionary situation will take or even in what crisis condition it will arise. We are not engaged in creating blueprints of a new society. However, we do recognise that the working class expects revolutionary minorities to have a vision of at least the basic outlines such a society might take beyond stating that it won’t be like capitalism. So today — being far from the revolution — we can only make hypotheses about the possible difficulties that will be encountered; we cannot pretend to have certainties on this point. The articles here thus express the opinions and ideas of individual comrades and not necessarily those of the ICT as a whole. There are however some common points which provide the parameters for our discussion.

  1. Unlike the bourgeoisie, the working class has no form of property to defend, or on which to build the economic basis of a new society under the old order before then overthrowing it. For the world’s workers the destruction of the bourgeois state has to precede the conscious policy of dismantling capitalist relations and this can only be done once it has obtained political power.
  2. The second thing that has to be stressed is the international character of the revolution. Only the development of the revolution on an international scale will allow full economic transformation: socialism cannot be built in a single country. This means that it is likely that the steps taken towards the destruction of the law of value and exploitation will only become fully effective with the geographical extension of the revolution until it comes to encompass the entire planet.
  3. The fight for a world communist order we believe also posits the presence of a Communist Party rooted in the working class on an international scale. Such a Party must therefore necessarily come into existence in time to capitalise on a possible "hot" phase of history.

We believe that the Party’s political role does not end with the proletariat taking power, it continues afterwards. However, we must never confuse Party bodies with the bodies through which the proletariat exercises its power. The "dictatorship of the proletariat" does not coincide with the dictatorship of the Party. It is with the political battle in the class — and therefore in the Councils — that revolutionaries gain the trust, give political direction in the proletarian bodies, just as it is through the action of political intervention that the Party takes on a real life, even after the seizure of power. The quality of the dialectical relationship between Party and class is a sign of the health of the revolutionary process. By contrast, the weakening —or even worse, the rupture — of this link is a signal of problems in, or a retreat of, the revolutionary process. Not only must the class be able to follow the Party’s indications but, even after the revolution, the Party must be able to live in the class, to be one with it. The class is not the object, an instrument, in the hands of the Party; it is the subject of the revolutionary transformation. Socialism cannot be built by following orders from above but only through the activate participation of the mass of the class on their own initiative.

Saturday, March 21, 2020


Would anyone say that this was definitively wrong - Socialism cannot be built solely by following orders from above but also requires the activate participation of the mass of the class on their own initiative.

Essentlally I am going from an "either x or y" to "x and y".

Sorry i havent added a comment here before. Its interesting that you start such a discussion here as i havent had much success suggesting that the discussion of the Period of Transition or even on communism would be valuable at this time. I agree very much with the approach taken in the intro.

The party is a specialist in history and in interpreting current events if you like but it can only interpret the future by a negation of the past. It is not a specialist in forecasting nor in creating communcism. I think it very important to stick strictly to the idea that the wc is the 'subject of the revolutionary transformation'. Its that working cooperation of the working class as a whole that brings about the practical steps that can lead to communism, its this cooperation that is inventive and constructive. The party are specialists certainly, it may have interpretations, guidance, suggestions but it must be the councils that take the decisions that build communism. The party is not an expert in how to set up systems of education, social services, leisure, holidays and, dare i say it, the general rules and regulations for a communist society. It is not the expert in agriculture, transport technology, biogenetics, robotics, road systems, sewerage systems, water supply etc etc. In fact with many of these it is hardly likely that the Party could come to any sort of agreement. These need society/working class as a whole saying what is needed and the workers and engineers and scientists coming up with practical solutions.

I remember reading about discussions early on in the Russian rev about the restructuring of the nuclear family and communal care of children, womens roles in society. There exist criticisms of current practice and the Bolsheviks started to initial changes eg creches, rules about equal opps, but there were no final answers here, there still isnt; its a practical problem that will probably only get solved after years of trial and error

Even regarding the workers councils themselves, can the Party determine the final structures across the world? I doubt it. I suspect that the Party can propose but that the class in different culture and regions across the world may well come up with regional variations even within a global network.

Finally can I disagree very much with Stevein's formulation that 'Socialism cannot be built solely by following orders'. That is the slippery slope that the bolsheviks went down. I dont believe in 1917 that thought that socialism can be built solely by following orders but for various reasons came to implement such a policy and of course failed to build socialism.


Thanks for your welcome comments. I am a bit confused about the last paragraph as I thought Stevein agrees with the idea that "socialism is not going to be built by following orders" but then when I went back to look at Stevein's it is presented in a confusing way so perhaps he can clarify.

"Finally can I disagree very much with Stevein's formulation that 'Socialism cannot be built solely by following orders'. That is the slippery slope that the bolsheviks went down. I dont believe in 1917 that thought that socialism can be built solely by following orders but for various reasons came to implement such a policy and of course failed to build socialism." To me this is a question of proletarian power. The state which withers away, the semi state, does place limits on what aliquot sectors of the entire class which generated that semi-state can and cannot do. This is not necessarily micro-management, not necessarily removing the initiative of workers in real workplaces.It is quite difficult to state in advance what decisions a supreme soviet could impose which could meet with majority approval and minority disapproval (and hence would require some sort of force to enforce, which after all is the essence of the state), but one could imagine that environmental concerns would lead to strong curtailment of certain activities, even if a certain geographical region did not agree with the majority decision. Perhaps this is too vague and we need more specific thinking, but as a quick response, it may serve. What I am saying is that the working class as a whole uses its state organs to come to decisions and not every decision is going to have unanimous approval, but nonetheless, right or wrong, the decisions of the highest council structure are binding. As a Marxist I see the state as an organ of class power. In the hands of the working class, a proletarian state, the state is a necessity."State control is not socialism!" But that doesnt mean that under socialism, state control will not be a factor. If we accept that state power is a feature of the transitional period to higher communism, it has a role. Bakunin be damned!

I will stop there but feel free to challenge and hopefully I can respond.