MARXIST INTERNET ARCHIVE  |  PRINCIPLES OF MARXISM-LENINISM

PRINCIPLES OF MARXISM-LENINISM

A STUDY COURSE

By W.B. Bland.

CLASS EIGHT : HOW SOCIALISM WORKS

1. WHAT IS SOCIALISM?

The social system constructed by the working people, led by the working class, after their seizure of political power in a socialist revolution. It is a social system in which the exploitation of man by man has been abolished and in which production is centrally planned with the aim of maximising the welfare of the working people.

2. HOW ARE THE MEANS OF PRODUCTION OWNED IN A SOCIALIST SOCIETY?

Collectively,
1) either by the state, representing the working people as a whole, or
2) by cooperatives, representing the working people of particular enterprises.

3. WHAT IS SOCIALISATION?

The taking over into the ownership of the socialist state (i.e., the machinery of force by which the working people rule over the rest of society) of an enterprise formerly owned by a capitalist or a capitalist firm. It must be distinguished from nationalisation in a capitalist society, where a formerly private enterprise is taken into the ownership of the capitalist state, i.e., the machinery of rule of the capitalist class as a whole).

4. WHAT IS COLLECTIVISATION?

The bringing together of a number of small enterprises (which are economically inefficent individually) into a single large cooperative of peasants or artisans. In order to retain the poor petty bourgeoisie as allies of the working class during the building of socialism, collectivisation must always be voluntary.

Collectivisation is a step on the way to the socialisation of the enterprises of the peasants and artisans, which transforms the rural and urban petty bourgeoisie into rural and urban members of the working class.

5. HOW IS PRODUCTION REGULATED UNDER SOCIALISM?

Since profit (the motive and regulator of production under capitalism) has been abolished, production is regulated under socialism by centralised state planning, based on maximum democratic consultation with consumers so as to secure the maximum possible satisfaction of the needs of the working people.

6. WHY IS IT NECESSARY, UNDER SOCIALISM, FOR THE PRODUCTION OF MEANS OF PRODUCTION TO EXPAND MORE RAPIDLY THAN THE PRODUCTION OF CONSUMER GOODS?

Because consumer goods (by which the needs of the working people are directly satisfied) are produced with the aid of means of production. Consequently, a continuing expansion of the production of consumer goods depends on the production of means or production expanding more rapidly than the production of consumer goods.

7. ON WHAT BASIS ARE CONSUMER GOODS DISTRIBUTED IN A SOCIALIST SOCIETY?

Since, at this stage of economic development, the needs of the working people cannot be met in full, some form of rationing is necessary. And since it is desired to bring about the speediest possible development of production, this rationing system must be one which stimulates productive effort on the part of the working people. But the mass of the working people have entered have entered socialist society with outlooks and attitudes inherited from capitalist society, and one of the most significant of these is that increased productive effort justifies increased personal material reward. For all these reasons, the distribution of consumer goods under socialism is related to the quantity and quality of work performed. This principle is embodied in the slogan of socialist society: 'FROM EACH ACCORDING TO HIS ABILITY, TO EACH ACCORDING TO HIS WORK!'.

8. IS THIS BASIS OF DISTRIBUTION FAIR?

Not competely. It is certainly fairer than the basis of distribution under capitalist society, which is based on the exploitation of the working people and on the amount of surplus- value-producing property which happens to be owned (often as a result of inheritance). But it is unfair to the extent that the quantity and quality of the work performed by a worker may depend on factors outside his control (e.g., he may have more dependents than his neighbour, he may have some physical disability). Although this unfairness may be mitigated by social services, it cannot be entirely eliminated as long as the socialist principle of distribution is maintained.

9, HOW CAN THIS UNFAIRNESS BE ELIMINATED?

Only by the replacement of socialism (defined as 'the first stage of communism') by true communism. Under communism, this unfairness is eliminated by the adoption of the principle of distribution according to need. This principle is embodied in the slogan of communist society: 'FROM EACH ACCORDING TO HIS ABILITY, TO EACH ACCORDING TO HIS NEEDS!'.

10.WHAT ARE THE ESSENTAL PREREQUISITES FOR THE TRANSITION FROM SOCIALISM TO COMMUNISM?

Firstly, a vast increase in the production of material wealth, sufficient to meet all the essential needs of all the working people, without rationing; and
secondly, a change in the outlook and attitudes of the mass of the working people, in that they have come to accept work as a natural obligation, performed according to ability without economic compulsion, and in that they have come to take from distribution centres only what they need.

The adoption under socialism of the principle of distribution according to work performed is necessary in order that the first prerequisite of commmunism -- a vast increase in the production of material wealth -- may be attained as soon as possible.

11. WHAT ARE THE FUNCTIONS OF THE SOCIALIST STATE?

Firstly, to suppress the overthrown capitalist class and its supporters in order to prevent counter-revolution: and secondly, to defend the country from attempts at outside military intervention by capitalist states: and thirdly, to direct socialist economic construction and to educate the people in a Marxist-Leninist outlook.

12. WHAT IS THE CLASS CHARACTER OF THE SOCIALIST STATE? It is 'the dictatorship of the proletariat, of the workng class', just as the capitalist state is 'the dictatorship of the bourgeoisie'.

13. SINCE THE SOCIALIST STATE IS A CLASS DICTATORSHIP, CAN IT BE REGARDED AS DEMOCRATIC?

In the sense that the socialist state serves the interests only of the working people and suppresses the interests of the former capitalist class, its democratic character may be regarded as limited. But in the original meaning of the term 'democracy' as 'the rule of the common people', 'the dictatorship of the working class' is democratic. Certainly, since the capitalist class forms only a small minority of the population, it is infinitely more democratic than the capitalist state.

14. 'THE SOCIALIST STATE WILL EVENTUALLY WITHER AWAY'-- FRIEDRICH ENGELS. EXPLAIN.

As the members of the overthrown capitalist class die out and their descendants are assimilated into the working people and acquire their outlook, there ceases to be any class which must be suppressed for the security of socialism. Thus, the internal repressive function of the socialist state is no longer necesary and dies away.

And as the working people in other capitalist countries proceed to seize political power and construct socialism on a world scale, the danger of external military intervention also disappears. Thus, the external defence function of the state also ceases to be necessary and dies away.

Eventually, therefore, the socialist state -- as a machinery of rule -- ceases to exist, being tranformed into a completely democratic apparatus for the administration of society.

15. IS A MARXIST-LENINIST PARTY NECESSARY UNDER SOCIALISM?

It is essential. Just as the working class cannot spontaneously overthrow the political power of the capitalist class, but requires the leadership of a vanguard party whose strategy and tactics are based upon Marxism-Leninism, so it requires the leadership of this vanguard party to maintain its political power and construct a socialist society.

Eventually, however, as the socialist state withers away and as the political consciousness of the whole working people has been raised to a high level, the need for such leadership no longer exists and the Party too withers away.

16. IS SOCIALISM, ONCE ESTABLISHED, PERMANENT?

Only if the working people are led by a Marxist-Leninist Party.

For this reason, the enemies of socialism strve in every way to pervert the Marxist-Leninist Party into a revisionist party -- a party which (at first) pays lip-service to Marxism-Leninism but in fact adopts policies which, under the guise of 'modernisation' and 'democratisation' move the country towards the restoration of capitalism.

17. WHAT HAVE BEEN THE PRINCIPAL EFFECTS OF THE TRIUMPH OF REVISIONISM IN THE INTERNATIONAL COMMUNIST MOVEMENT?

In all the countries where socialism had been established, the capitalist system has been restored.

The restoration of capitalism goes through a number of stages. The role of centralised economic planning is reduced; a market economy based on the profit motive is introduced; the managers of the enterprises are given such a disproportionate share of their profits (on the grounds of their 'responsibility') that they effectively become state captalists exploiting the working class; the party and state leaders become corrupt bureaucrats administering what is, essentially, a bureaucratic dictatorship over the wortking class.

When the working people have become sufficiently hostile to these developments, the final stage is to mobilise the people to destroy the spurious 'socialism' which is causing them so much distress and restore a normal free-enterprise capitalist system.

In developed capitalist countries, the triumph of revisionism in the international communist movement has transformed the old communist parties into political instruments of monopoly capital, into social-democratic parties which have repudiated revolutionary socialism in favour of the illusory 'peaceful, parliamentary road to socialism'. Such parties may take their place within the parliamentary framework when needed by the capitalist class as instruments for the deception of working people.

These developments, tragic setbacks for the working people as they are, do not solve but, in the long run, accentuate the social problems of the working people. There is no solution for these problems but socialism.

THE HISTORIC TASK FACING THE WORKING PEOPLE OF ALMOST EVERY COUNTRY AT THE PRESENT TIME, THEREFORE, IS THE RECONSTITUTION OF MARXIST-LENINIST PARTIES, PURGED OF AND INSULATED AGAINST EVERY REVISIONIST TREND, AND THE RECONSTITUTION OF A MARXIST-LENINIST INTERNATIONAL AS THE VANGUARD OF THE WORKING PEOPLE OF THE WORLD.

     CLASS ONE : THE DEVELOPMENT OF SOCIETY

General Definitions.

     CLASS TWO : HOW CAPITALISM WORKS (Part One)

The Commodity; Money; Labour Power...

     CLASS THREE : HOW CAPITALISM WORKS (Part Two)

The accumulation of Capital; Capial and Labour; Imperialism...

     CLASS FOUR : THE STATE AND THE ROAD TO SOCIALISM

The State; Parties; Socialism; fascism...

     CLASS FIVE : THE PARTY OF THE WORKING CLASS

Reformism; Class interests; Revisionism...

     CLASS SIX : THE NATIONAL QUESTION

Nations; Proletarian Internationalism...

     CLASS SEVEN : WAR

Civil wars; just and unjust wars; wars of national liberation...

    CLASS EIGHT : HOW  SOCIALISM  WORKS

What is Socialism; its class character...