Road of Dreams


Socialism? What are we talking about?


By Dominic Tweedie

The communists mean to show the way – as a vanguard – through revolution, to a classless, stateless condition called communism. The agent of revolution is not a communist party. Since the 1840s, communists have said that the principal agent of revolution against the present dictatorship of the bourgeois, capitalist ruling class is the working class; and the working class will have allies.

To perform its historic task of revolution, the working class will have to move beyond passive existence and become a conscious, intentional “class for itself”. The communists play the necessary educative role in this movement.

It is time to take a critical look at the communist parties, starting with their habitual advocacy of “socialism” and their embrace of “democrat centralism”, and the consequently very low rate of success of these communist parties, all over the world.

What is socialism? Unlike the term “communism”, which is easy to define, socialism has no generally accepted definition. But somehow, the term “socialism” is widely used in a way that implies a universally accepted meaning. This deception, and self-deception, initiates a quest that can never be fulfilled.

It is time to take a critical look at the communist parties, starting with their habitual advocacy of “socialism” and their embrace of “democrat centralism”, and the consequently very low rate of success of these communist parties, all over the world.

“Socialists,” and most, if not all communist parties, profess “socialism” as an immediate goal. The imaginary socialism, like a pictured Christmas tree, is hung about and surrounded with gifts and treasures. Socialism is supposed to be a place where dreams come true.

Marx and Engels considered the definition of socialism in the third part of the 1848 Communist Manifesto. It describes Feudal Socialism, Petty? Bourgeois Socialism, German or “True” Socialism, Conservative or Bourgeois Socialism, and Critical?Utopian Socialism.

This part of the Manifesto shows that the public intellectuals of Marx’s time were not very different from those of today. Then as now, “socialism” could be all kinds of things to all kinds of people.

The former Conservative Prime Minister of England, Margaret Thatcher, indicated socialism’s more precise meaning when she said “There is no such thing as society, only individuals and their families.” Now, Thatcher’s successor Boris Johnson, in the middle of the COVID-19 panic, now says that “there obviously is such a thing as society”.

Of course there is. The only plain meaning of “socialism” is that the nation-state is a society, or to use another word: a polity. Libertarians and anarchists do not like this, but they are a tiny minority. All others accept, contra Thatcher, that in each nation-state there is a society. In the simple and true sense of the word, this makes them all socialists. As Marx and Engels understood, socialism only means that the inhabitants of a give territory recognise each other as members of one and the same society.

The precise term for revolutionaries to use is not “socialism”, but “communism”. Communism is their goal: Communism is the classless society.

It follows that none of us needs a “road to socialism”, because we are already there. The precise term for revolutionaries to use is not “socialism”, but “communism”. Communism is their goal: Communism is the classless society.

How are we going to get there? The working class has to overthrow the bourgeois-capitalist class and rule over that other class, as a dictator.

This has to be explained by the communists, to the proletariat, with the utmost clarity. Our goal is not another brand of “socialism”. We communists have no investment in the status quo. We communists must not even be invested in the dictatorship of the proletariat, necessary though it may be. We must not, as communists, seek government posts. Not now, and not then. We are outside. We are commissars, commissioned for rank, but not for power.

The communist party as an executive body is gone. It has not worked, except in such a way as to liquidate itself. The communists need no hierarchy. They must learn how to operate without hierarchy.

The communist party as an executive body is gone. It has not worked, except in such a way as to liquidate itself. The communists need no hierarchy. They must learn how to operate without hierarchy. Among the communists, there must be no “state”, just to the same extent that in language there is no “state”. In human production there is no a priori state. The communists must not carry that virus called “state”.

Structure does exist, and will continue to exist, in the mass-democratic organisations: trade unions, the liberation movement, the necessary women’s organisation, and allied formations. These structures can be called “democratic centralist”, because within them power rotates between periphery and centre. The state that the proletariat will construct will also be like that. For the proletariat it will be a necessity, but it will not be a virtue. When it has served its purpose, the proletarian state will have to go.

There is no reason why one communist should ever wait upon another. The communists must henceforth stand up and behave in practice like real communists. Not later, but now.

The communists, among themselves, have no more need of a hierarchy than the classless society, communism, has need of one. There is no reason why one communist should be placed below another. There is no reason why one communist should ever wait upon another. The communists must henceforth stand up and behave in practice like real communists. Not later, but now.

All of their potential must be released and never again held back by a sterilising game of preferment. One communist is not better than another one. The communists do not form a church. In material reality there is no such hierarchy. There is no flesh on its bones, and most of the bones it once may have had, have crumbled away.

Attempting to rebuild the broken hierarchy of communist parties would be folly. Instead, these hierarchies must be replaced with distributed networks. We, the communists, must learn to work without a state, just as much as we advocate for everybody else to live in a stateless society.

No hierarchy!

Organise the nations to take the empire!


DOMZA

Dominic Tweedie was born in Devon, England in July, 1945, in between the testing and the first use of the atomic bomb, son of a Royal Navy officer; grew up in Kenya, East Africa, during the Emergency and for Uhuru in December 1963; in London in 1967 (Grosvenor Square) and in 1968; in the CPGB and the Anti-Apartheid Movement in the 1970s; in the construction of the ANC’s Solomon Mahlangu Freedom College in Tanzania; in the London Committee of the A-AM in the 1980s; in South Africa to vote in the 1994 election, and since then as an ANC and SACP member, sometime COSATU and SADTU officer, now retired; the “VC” of the virtual Communist University since 2003, and editor of the Telegram channel “CU Iskra”.



Categories: Capitalism, Communism, Dominic Tweedie, Philosophy, Socialism

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