PRINCIPLES OF MARXISM-LENINISM
A STUDY COURSE
By W.B. Bland.
FOUR : THE STATE AND THE ROAD TO SOCIALISM
IS THE STATE?
saw in Class One, essentially the machinery of force by which one social class
rules over the rest of the people.
ARE THE PRINCIPAL ORGANS OF THE CONTEMPORARY BRITISH STATE?
monarch, the House of Lords, the House of Commons, the judiciary, the prison
service, the armed forces, the police, the security services, the civil service,
the Church of England, the BBC, the post office, the National Health Service.
OF THESE FORM THE KEY ORGANS OF STATE?
armed forces, the police and the security services. This is because the key
issue in politics is always physical power, and it is these three organs which
possess physical power in the state.
EXPLAIN WHAT IS MEANT BY THE STATEMENT: "'PARLIAMENTARY DEMOCRACY' IS A FALSE
FACADE WHICH CONCEALS THE DICTATORSHIP OF THE CAPITALIST CLASS".
constitutional law lays down that supreme power is held, not by the House of
Commons (the organ principally associated with the term 'parliamentary
democracy') but by 'The Queen in Parliament', which is defined as the Queen
together with the House of Lords and the House of Commons.
means that the legislative power of the House of Commons (at present the sole
elected organ of Parliament) is subject to the approval in most cases of the
House of Lords and in all cases by the Queen. Furthermore, legislation is
subject to 'interpretation' by the judiciary and can only be put into effect
with the cooperation of the heads of the civil service.
the monarchy, the House of Lords, the judiciary and the heads of the civil
service are not subject to democratic election. These posts are reserved for
representatives of the capitalist class or the aristocracy (which has now merged
with the capitalist class).
Furthermore, the heads of the armed forces and security forces -- key organs of
state -- are also drawn from the upper class, and constitutionally they owe
allegiance not to 'the people' or the House of Commons, but to the Queen. They
are thus available to be used in the Queen's name to 'defend the Constitution'
on behalf of the capitalist class.
'parliamentary democracy' is a false facade which conceals the real character of
the state as machinery which embodies the dictatorship of the capitalist class.
Parliament is thus no more than a 'talking shop', the function of which is to
deceive the masses into believing that it is 'their servant'.
IMAGINE THAT YOUR PARTY -- A PARTY OF GENUINE SOCIALISTS -- HAS WON A MAJORITY
IN THE HOUSE OF COMMONS IN A GENERAL ELECTION.
WHAT STEPS WOULD YOU TAKE TO INTRODUCE SOCIALISM CONSTITUTIONALLY?.
posing of this question requires considerable imagination. For the development
of electoral opinion to the point where a general election might occur would
clearly take a considerable time and would not go unnoticed by the capitalist
class. Since this class will obviously use every weapon in its power to preserve
its wealth, power and exploiting 'rights , -- in the name, of couse, of
preserving 'freedom' and 'moral values' -- it would obviously take steps prior
to the election (alteration of electoral laws and boundaries, outright banning
of your party as 'subversive' etc.) to try to prevent such an embarrassing
assume, however, that as a result of some miracle of stupidity the capitalist
class fails to take such preventive action.
party must then hope that the Queen will invite the leader of your party to form
a government. It has long been customary for the monarch to invite the leader of
the party with the largest number of seats in the House of Commons to become
Prime Minister, but there is no constitutional obligation on her to do so.
assume, however, that she takes this step and that the leader of your party
selects his provisional Cabinet. Before these can take office as Ministers, they
are required by constitutional law to take an oath of allegiance to the Queen.
Since your party's electoral programme must have included pledges to abolish the
undemocratic monarchy, the arrest of these Ministers on charges of perjury will
be perfectly legitimate. And when sufficient of your MPs have been, quite
legally, imprisoned, your party will no longer have a majority in the House.
therfore assume another miracle -- that the capitalist class is too stupid to
take constitutional measures to prevent your party from taking office and that
it introduces legislation to socialise the principal means of production.
legislation can only be adopted with the approval of the House of Lords and the
Queen (the latter can hold up legislation indefinitely), so that further
miracles have to be imagined for your socialist programme to be put into
capitalists may then appeal to the courts to rule that such legislation is
unlawful, and a further miracle is required to make the upper class judges rule
in favour of the socialist government.
Furthermore, the putting into effect of this socialist legislation requires the
cooperation of the heads of the civil service, who are also drawn from the upper
class, so that their cooperation would require a further miracle.
also assume yet another miracle. Constitutionally, the armed forces -- the heads
of which are also drawn from the upper class -- may in case of 'emergency' at
the request of the monarch establish martial law and rule dictatorially That
reactionary military coups are not confined to distant countries was shown by
the infamous Curragh Mutiny of 1914, which led to the partition of Ireland.
Another miracle has, therefore, to be imagined to render the monarch and the
armed forces inactive in this respect.
wholesale series of miracles does not occur in real life, and it is clear that
the concept of a constitutional transition to socialism is absurd.
IS A POLITICAL PARTY?
organisation which serves the political interests of a social class (or of a
section of such a class).
BRITISH PARLIAMENTARY SYSTEM HAS BEEN DESCRIBED AS ESSENTIALLY 'A TWO-PARTY
SYSTEM'. WHAT IS THE SIGNIFICANCE OF THIS?.
system is designed to give the electorate at an election a choice between two
large parties. Both parliamentary parties (i.e., the collective MPs of each
party) declare that they are not bound by decisions of their party conference,
and both support the maintenance of a capitalist society. Thus, after an
election, one of these parties forms Her Majesty's Government and the other
forms Her Majesty's Opposition. When, after a period, a majority of the electors
become dissatified with the government, this may be replaced at an election by
the other party without any disturbance to the capitalst system.
two-party system deliberately places great obstacles in the way of smaller
parties: large deposits are forfeit where a candidate fails to obtain a certain
proportion of the vote; there is no proportional representation, so that a party
can obtain 49% of the national vote without securing the election of a single
MP; TV propaganda is restricted to parties putting up a certain number of
candidates: electors who are dissatisfied with both parties often vote for the
one they regard as 'the lesser evil' on the grounds that it is impossible for a
smaller party which they in fact support to form a government so that a vote for
it would be 'wasted' and might even assist 'the greater evil' to win the
election by 'splitting the vote'.
'parliamentary democracy' is clearly designed, as Marx expressed it, to give the
electorate merely a choice as to which group of capitalist politicians shall
misrepresent them for the next five years.
ANALYSE THE STATEMENT: 'THE BRITISH STATE IS A 'WELFARE STATE'
be remembered first that the social services had their origin, not in
'humanitarian concern' on the part of capitalists for their working people, but
in the spread of epidemics from the slums to upper class residential quarters
and in the discovery at the time of the Boer war that 50% of working class
recruits to the army were medically unfit for military service.
Experience, therefore, forced the capitalists to realise long ago that the
state, as the machinery of their rule, had to take such action in the field of
social welfare as would ensure that the workers had the minimum of health
necessary to produce surplus value for them and to fight in their wars.
principle having been accepted, the aim of the capitalist class has been to keep
the level of social services down to the minimum necessary to fulfil this
purpose -- in particular, to see that benefits are significantly lower than
average wages and that the working class itself pays for the social services it
receives (by means of taxation, insurance contributions, etc.) out of wages, in
many cases after a degrading 'means test'. These points have, of course, been
influenced by the class struggle of the working class, but statistics show that
the average working class family pays considerably more in taxation,
contributions, etc., than it receives in terms of all the social services
taking over by the state of an enterprise previously under private ownership.
NATIONALISATION IN A CAPITALIST SOCIETY A SOCIALIST MEASURE?
the state in a capitalist society is the machinery of rule of the capitalist
class, nationalisation in a capitalist society is in no way a socialist measure.
It represents merely the transfer of an enterprise from ownership by a single
capitalist to ownership by the capitalist class as a whole.
reactionary governments have carried out measures of nationalsation, affecting
principally the fields of communications and fuel, which serve the capitalist
class as a whole (e.g., the post office, railways, airlines, gas, coal,
motive for nationalisation is to provide a cheap and efficient service in these
fields for the benefit of the capitalist class as a whole, and nationalisation
is usually carried out where private enterprise is using monopoly power to
charge excessive rates to other capitalist firms or where private enterprise
appears to be no longer capable of providing a reasonably efficient service in
some field essential to the capitalist class as a whole.
enterprise is nationalised by the capitalist state, the former owners are
usually generously compensated with interest-bearing state bonds, which enable
them to continue to exploit the working class with their profits guaranteed by
the state. The boards which manage such nationalised industries are dominated by
members of the capitalist class (often, indeed, by their former owners, who then
receive directors' fees in addition to interest). Thus, as workers in
nationalised industries know from their own experience, the class struggle
continues within them, but it is now necessary for the workers concerned to
struggle not against a single private management, but against the capitalist
IS STATE MONOPOLY CAPITALISM?
development of monopoly capitalism, of imperialism, the state comes to be less
and less the machinery of rule of the capitalist class as a whole, and to become
increasingly subordinated to the dominant clique of monopoly capitalists, to
become the state machine of the financial oligarchy.
imperialist stage of development of capitalism also sees a great expansion of
the state apparatus, both in the field of physical power and in that of the
regulation of economic, political and cultural life.
expansion is not 'socialist' in character. It is undertaken in the interests of
monopoly capital, and Marxist- Leninists call this development by the name of
state monopoly capitalism.
IS A CORPORATE STATE?
concept of the state originally put forward by right-wing Catholic politicians.
Its official aim is 'to abolish the class struggle' (in fact, of course, to
repress it) by abolishing free collective bargaining between trade unions and
employers' organisations. In a corporate state, 'negotiations' on wages, working
conditions, etc., are carried out by 'corporations', composed of represenatives
of the employers and of the state, together with 'workers' representatives'.
British governments to restrict free collective bargaining must be seen as moves
in the direction of a corporate state, while propaganda in favour of 'workers'
representation in industry' or 'workers' control' must be seen as pseudo-leftist
propaganda directed towards the establishment of a corporate state.
open, terroristic dictatorship of a reactionary class (usually of monopoly
capital) exercised through a para-military political party. The name is derived
from the 'fasces' or bundle of sticks, the emblem of the Roman Empire which was
taken over by the Italian fascists.
fascist party is recruited principally from reactionary elements among the
petty-bourgeoisie and lumpen-proletariat (degenerate, petty criminal strata of
the working class). It is financed, as the situation demands, by capital and
armed (usually unofficially) by their armed forces.
fascist party directs its appeal demagogically to the most politically backward
strata of the working people (calling itself by such names as 'national
socialist') and of the petty bourgeoisie (claiming to be, for example, 'against
monopoly'), but its main propaganda is based on appeal to racist and nationalist
prejudices. Its function is to try to smash by force the organisations of the
working class, and to replace the facade of 'parliamentary democracy' by an open
dictatorship which strives to exert repressive control over every sphere of
social life (totalitarianism) Within this dictatorship, the fascist party rules
dictatorially (often in the name of an 'infallible leader') on behalf of the
SINCE SOCIALISM CANNOT BE ESTABLISHED THROUGH 'PARLIAMENTARY DEMOCRACY', HOW CAN
IT BE ESTABLISHED?
socialist revolution, which requires the working class to build its own
machinery of force, strong enough to defeat and destroy the machinery of force
of the capitalist class.
THERE CIRCUMSTANCES UNDER WHICH THE WORKING CLASS COULD ACHIEVE THE TRANSITION
TO SOCIALISM PEACEFULLY?
could occur, and has occurred, only in very exceptional circumstances -- where
the capitalist class is temporarily without an effective state machinery of
force capable of resisting seizure of political power by the working class (as
in Finland and Hungary at the end of the First World War).
theory, such a peaceful transition could occur in a country where the capitalist
class possesses a state machinery of force, but finds itself isolated from
foreign assistance and facing a working class machinery of force so
overwhelmingly powerful as to make violent resistance appear pointless. In such
circumstances the possibility could exist of peacefully 'buying out' the
theoretical possibility of peaceful transition to socialism makes it clear that
the stronger the machinery of revolutionary force built up by the working class,
the greater is the possibility -- it is no more -- of a peaceful transition.