The RW received the following correspondence:

The Debate Is On

over the RCP's Draft Programme at

Revolutionary Worker #1154, June 9, 2002, posted at

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Here are excerpts from the discussion.

Subject: On democracy and dictatorship

Posted by: Rosa(rl)

Democraticleftist said: "Well, democracy is people's power--it allows the people to vote out unwanted leaders.... However, to eliminate the power of the big business and the wealthy, we would have to pass constitutional amendments guaranteeing the right to seek office to any interested citizen--WITH the big business and the wealthy kept out."

Actually democracy is a form of dictatorship that allows the wealthy to sponsor candidates and present them to the people for rubber stamp approval every few years. The ruling class sets all the terms of debate and has already decided the limitations of the outcome. It is the form of dictatorship best suited to a capitalistic society because it allows a sort of "free competition" to reign and serves as a forum for the ruling class to deal with divisions within itself over how they should proceed. (RCP chairman Bob Avakian has quite a bit to say about this in his book "Democracy, Can't We Do Better Than That?")

Because it is precisely set up to serve business, be that slaveowners or cotton processing plants, it does not make room in itself for "the people." These large and powerful will never, under any condition, just hand over their power to the masses by constitutional amendment. Term limits don't stop people like GW from being real tyrants. Adolf, like GW, was elected. A multi-party system has in neither case prevented this. In fact, each party represents certain class forces that are contending for power and control of society. Democrats represent one section of the ruling class and the republicans represent another section. When their class interest as a whole comes under attack, these two parties tend to work together quite visibly as we have seen since 9.11...

Having multiple parties shows that there are multiple classes, so under socialism will there be multiple parties and is it desirable? I don't see it as desirable to hand to the defeated oppressors a means to legally contend to take back control of society before the rev is even consolidated. It's like handing your enemy a loaded gun, ya know?

Subject: Socialist Law and Guarantees

Posted by: Fred Ho

Agree with emphasis on winning allies, with seeing education as persuasion, renounce violence except against diehards. The programme should make clearer that violence should only be used within the boundaries of socialist law, e.g. by using fair, consistent and uniform standards and not indiscriminately....

Page 38 paragraph on Democratic Centralism

The dictatorship of the proletariat should ensure that the "smallest" person can challenge and remove leadership. The leaders including the chairman should be humbled to the rank and file. Feel strongly that there should be an explicit guarantee that every person, masses and party members, can have direct access to the leadership up to the highest level, a right for cadre to go to the highest level of leadership and if issue not resolved, should guarantee right to have face-to-face meeting.

Subject: Re: What about Freedom of Speech?

Posted by: Little Timmy AK47

When the dictatorship of the proletariat has come to exist, the people will certainly have the right to freedom of speech assembly etc.... the oppressors from the old society, white supremacists and other reactionary criminals will not have these rights. The proletariat will exercise democracy amongst themselves and dictatorship over the reactionary classes to prevent their re-asserting their power.

as for the idea that we can "skip" socialism, this is a pipe dream. the walls that have been built by the capitalists inside our own hearts and minds will not die without a massive struggle, we have to be practical here. the solution to the worker's problems is not the expansion of our bourgeois-democratic individual "rights" but building a new society on the new proletarian way.

as for the reactionaries who want to spit poison.. fuck em! the right to try to fool and hoodwink the masses isn't a right, it's a privilege the reactionaries will want and the masses should never give.

Subject: Re: masses making history

Posted by: dolly veale, RCP San Francisco

Why was socialism in Russia and China defeated if the masses are makers of history? I totally agree with RedRev that this "is absolutely crucial in dealing with the whole new generation of rebels." And while I don't think it's accurate to say the coup in China was a "palace coup with the masses as mere spectators", it is the case that these coups were carried out by top leaders within the Communist Parties.

What's the fundamental problem? The fact is that the underlying factors/conditions that mean the Party can turn into a ruling elite over the masses are the very SAME factors/conditions that make the Party necessary to begin with. The appendix on "The Party under Socialism, and the Transition to Communism" deals with this contradiction...

We can't do without a vanguard if we are serious about making revolution. And the role of the Party/organized leadership becomes even more important under socialism if we confront that the proletariat "will face the immense challenge of defending the socialist state, building a new and radically different economic, social, and political system, continuing the struggle to transform society, supporting and assisting revolutionary struggles throughout the world--AND correctly handling the very real and often acute contradictions involved in all this."

The whole period of socialism is a transition to communism--the end of classes and class distinctions and all the oppressive social divisions and along with all that, "the end of any need for specialized, institutionalized leadership."

The huge challenge that confronts the proletariat in power--to both defeat attacks by remaining imperialist and reactionary states, and to overcome the remaining differences and inequalities, such as between mental and manual labor--can't be done all at once or instantly.

"So neither the need for the party's leadership in socialist society--nor the need to continue advancing toward the achievement of the conditions, worldwide, where such leadership will no longer be necessary--can be lost sight of, or underestimated, if the proletariat is to carry out its historic revolutionary mission."

The solution to this fundamental problem isn't to eliminate the Party (and the state) under socialism, which would mean eliminating the revolution and the goal of communism. The solution is to continue the revolution under socialism--to continually fight to thoroughly revolutionize every aspect/sphere of society and the Party itself.... Mao said one cultural revolution won't be enough to prevent capitalist restoration once and for all. Well he was right.

The fact they were defeated should not lead us into the all-American way of thinking that "you can't argue with success," like if they lost, it means they were wrong. Would we apply this to the numerous slave revolts that went on for hundreds of years before slavery ended?

The bitter defeats suffered by our class in Russia and China proves only one thing--that the most radical revolution in human history, proletarian revolution "is bound to proceed through twists and turns and even to encounter--and confront--the necessity to rebound from--major setbacks along the way, both within particular countries and on a world scale."

Subject: Can Wages Be Socialist?

Posted by: K.B

In rereading Marx's pamphlet on "Wage labor and Capital", he states: "Thus capital presupposes wage labour, wage labour presupposes capital. They reciprocally condition the existence of each other, they reciprocally bring forth each other."

If this is still a correct analysis of the condition of wage labor in capitalist economics, how can you end the material foundation of capitalism without first putting an end to wage labor?.. When labor power is turned into an exchange value, it becomes an alien force that the worker has no control over. The human being is turned into another component of the production process and has as much interest in the process as a block of wood. The worker becomes just another part of the cost of production...

When is labor power not a commodity? When the labor power of the worker is used to produce something that he himself will use. When the worker has use of the fruits of his labor, he is not a wage- worker. When workers know that what they are making is something they will have use of, their labor power is no longer an alien force.

So how can individual workers who produce use values collectively possibly share in the products of their labor? A rationing system is a logical way. It is something that the workers themselves can monitor and control... It makes it possible for people to exercise their political power and see that what is important is dealt with. Whatever products are produced all workers will have an opportunity to have use of that production. When we have had a share then the surplus can be dealt with...

The proletariat's creativity is unleashed when we have responsibility over our lives and the fruits of our labor. If we control our labor power then we can rebuild the rain forests. If we control our labor power then we can rebuild the ozone layer. If we control our labor power then we can clean the rivers, clean the air, and build new forms of power plants. We can rebuild our homes, hospitals, schools; we can build a New World. If we control our labor power, there is nothing that we can not do; there is nothing we can not achieve. As long as there is wage labor there will be capital. As long as there is labor based upon exchange value, mankind will never be free.

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