On the Road Toward the Finalization of the Party Programme! During World Historic Times -- We Need World Historic Answers

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Revolutionary Worker #1219, November 16, 2003, posted at rwor.org

May Day 2001 the RCP released its Draft Programme with the slogan "Looking For A Plan To Change The World?....It's Here!" Since the release of the Draft Programme, or DP, the RCP has learned from the sentiments, thoughts and opinions of thousands of people checking it out. All the while the RCP has been popularizing its revolutionary strategy and vision.

Over the past few years a new generation has stepped forward to oppose imperialist globalization. Since 9/11, literally millions more have come into political life and struggle against the juggernaut of war and repression. Mao Tsetung teaches us the fundamental law that "people fight back, then they seek philosophy." Many are asking why things are this way-and do they have to be this way, is another world possible.

Over the next several months the RW/OR will be putting a spotlight on the DP, highlighting important parts of the Draft Programme. Along with this the RW will publish selected comments, criticisms, and suggestions from people studying the DP-including comments from Party supporters, debates from the 2changetheworld web site, and letters from prisoners.

Readers of the RW are encouraged to contribute to the debate by sending in comments. Comments can be sent to "Draft Programme Debate" c/o RCP Publications, PO Box 3486 Merchandise Mart, Chicago, IL 60654. They can also be given to your local RW distributor.

The RW will not be able to publish all the comments sent in. However all such commentary from the debate will aid in the finalization of the DP. So don't hold back-join the debate!

This series began in issue #1200. This week we are publishing a comment by a RCP comrade on the DP appendix "Proletarian Dictatorship, Democracy and the Rights of the People."

The following is an internal comment from an RCP comrade.

1. On the distinction between the proletariat and the proletarian state

The Draft Programme, in discussing the dictatorship of the proletariat, often uses the terms "proletariat" and "socialist state" or "proletarian dictatorship" more or less interchangeably. This is imprecise and may inadvertently give rise to eclectics in thinking and ultimately in practice.

The state apparatus under socialism is not synonymous with the proletariat. Chairman Avakian, in refuting K. Venu and discussing the contradiction involved in maintaining a high level of "enthusiasm and energy [of the masses] on a continual basis," makes the very important point that:

"...[T]he role of the masses as rulers of society and owners of the means of production is real but is not absolute--it is relative and sharply contradictory --and is both expressed directly through their own involvement in all spheres of society and is mediated through a number of instrumentalities, above all the state and the vanguard party." ["Democracy: More Than Ever We Can And Must Do Better Than That," p. 39; in the internationalist journal A World to Win , No. 17, 1992.]

The proletariat, of course, continues to exist as a class within socialist society, made up of tens of millions of workers, not all of whom are active in the political life of the society. The Party must make every effort to draw the masses of workers into the cardinal affairs of state and administration of society in every sphere. And there are many instances when the DP correctly uses the term "proletariat" to discuss actual policies around mobilizing the working class in society, actual activities of the working class, etc.

The term "proletariat" also refers to the class in its international and world-historic dimension, on a level of abstraction that transcends whoever happens to be in the proletariat in any given country or at any given time. Corresponding to this meaning there are also times, again correctly in my opinion, when the term is used to refer to questions of orientation flowing from the proletariat's world-historic position. For example: "The proletariat will unleash the fury of women as a mighty force for revolution."

However, the proletarian state is a distinct thing, a set of political institutions which rule and administer society in the interests of the proletariat. Not only does the entire proletariat not take part in the state, but there will be many cadres of the state who do not come from the working class--as a result both of the mental-manual contradiction as well as the continued implementation of the United Front under the Leadership of the Proletariat [UFuLP] orientation, under which both the proletariat and its allies will play an important part in ruling and remaking all of society.

This latter point, which I want to return to later, is important for this discussion right now, in that when we use the term proletariat to be synonymous with the state power of the proletariat, it creates the impression that the state power will only involve proletarians.

For example, on page 17 it is said that:

"The proletariat's policy with regard to the environment is one of "socialist sustainable development." The proletariat will step by step repair the destruction of the forests, soil, water and air."

The reader may end up under the impression that only working class people will undertake the actual repair of the environment1 or that they would do so en masse. If the paragraph were reworded as follows, it would be far clearer:

"The stand of the proletariat towards the environment is to take it in trusteeship for all of humanity, protecting it and preserving it for future generations. In line with this, the socialist state will institute a policy of `socialist sustainable development.' The state will mobilize the masses, with the working class at the forefront in close cooperation with technicians and scientists and involving the broad masses of youth and volunteers from all strata of society, to step by step repair the destruction of the forests, soil, water and air. The socialist state will develop industrial and agricultural systems that are economically productive," [etc. to the end of the paragraph as now written.]

I believe that the rewrite gives a truer picture of the actual functioning of society and incorporates the Chairman's developments on UFuLP as something integral to the long-term transition to classless society (as well as to the actual first step towards that, revolution). It also unfolds the policy from the strategic goals and orientation of the proletariat as a world-historic class.

Or take the paragraph directly following, where it is said that:

"The socialist state will rely on the masses of agricultural proletarians to consolidate power in the countryside and transform agriculture. The proletariat will ally with small, medium, and even some large-size farmers, especially those who exploit little or no wage labor. It will advance rapidly to socialize ownership in agriculture."

This is not as bad as the first example, but there is still confusion. The "it" in the third sentence is ambiguous. I suggest the following:

"The socialist state will rely in the first place on the masses of agricultural proletarians to consolidate power in the countryside and transform agriculture. Led by the party, these workers will forge an alliance with small, medium, and even some large-size farmers, especially those who exploit little or no wage labor. On the foundation of this broad support and active mass involvement, the state will advance rapidly to socialize ownership in agriculture."

The same kind of problem occurs in a number of places throughout the DP, and I think that in those instances where the imprecision can lead to confusion or eclectics or other mistakes, we should rewrite it.

I suggest that in general, when discussing specific policies of the state, we should refer to "the socialist state," the "proletarian power," or the "proletarian dictatorship," depending on context. I also suggest that we draw some distinctions in the use of the term "proletariat" as used to signify the working class in what was the USA and as it is used in a more world-historic and abstract dimension. Here too it would be better to be precise and avoid eclectics. I would suggest using the "broad proletarian masses," "proletarians," "workers" or "the working class" to convey the first meaning and reserve the term "proletariat" (in most cases) for the more world-historic dimension. The rewrites above do that.

There may be still other times when we need to, or intend to, specifically refer to the advanced, or class-conscious, section of the proletariat--in those cases, we should say "the class-conscious proletariat" or the "advanced section of the proletariat (or working class)" and not just use the term "proletariat." Some of the discussion of the United Front under Proletarian Leadership, which I am not getting into in this letter, might be good to look at with that in mind.

2. On the UFuLP (United Front under the Leadership of the Proletariat) and the dictatorship of the proletariat

It seems to me that our discussion of the dictatorship of the proletariat does not adequately reflect the advances that we have made in our understanding of the United Front under the Leadership of the Proletariat.

This shortcoming particularly colors the discussion in the brief, but crucially important, appendix entitled "Consolidating the New Proletarian Power, Developing Radically New Institutions." While the appendix is correct (and powerful) so far as it goes, there are omissions that end up giving it a little bit of a "worker-ist" flavor. For example, the section "Destroying the Old and Creating the New" only gives examples of new organs of power growing out of "organizations...in the communities of oppressed" and organizations at the factory or workplace level. There is no discussion of how or whether forms of organization rooted in the middle class or made up of people from different strata will also be transformed in this way; nor, secondarily, do the examples specifically speak to how even community or workplace organizations will often contain people from other strata (e.g., mass organization at hospitals). This, to me, is an interesting question worth thinking more about. The answers are not necessarily self-evident, at least to me, and so I am not suggesting a specific rewrite. My own inclination on this is that there would be a place for such organizations, particularly as they arise from the solid core but also in other movements as well, in the matrix of the newborn proletarian rule. I think that the example of three-in-one combinations, while important, do not adequately speak to this problem.

I would also like us to consider whether some statement on the applicability of the UFuLP strategy to this question of organs of power should be made in this section. Again, I am not now suggesting a specific rewrite, but I think we should consider this. I think the essence of what needs to be said is actually contained now on page 60, in the conclusion to the first appendix concerning the UF--but there is a disjuncture when we come to the actual application of that to the organs of power in the newborn proletarian state. The "orientation and method" of the UFuLP (to quote the Chairman) will also be an important element in constructing the newborn socialist state--as will its aspect of being a strategic approach for the realignment of classes.


1 If this sounds far-fetched, I should say that part of my thinking on this was sparked by a discussion with a progressive artist who had read the first part of the DP and expressed general agreement, but did not seem to see it making a place for intellectuals in the new society.

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