And in these circumstances, in an epoch of desperate acute war, when history has placed on the order of the day the question whether age-old and thousand-year-old privileges are to be or not to be -- at such a time to talk about majority and minority, about pure democracy, about dictatorship being unnecessary and about equality between the exploiter and the exploited!! What infinite stupidity and bottomless philistinism are needed for this!
But during the decades of comparatively "peaceful" capitalism, between 1871 and 1914, Augean stables of philistinism, imbecility, and apostasy accumulated in the socialist parties which were adapting themselves to opportunism. . . .
* * *
The reader will probably have noticed that Kautsky, in the passage from his pamphlet quoted above, speaks of an attempt to encroach upon universal suffrage (calling it, by the way, a deep source of mighty moral authority, whereas Engels, apropos of the same Paris Commune and the same question of dictatorship, spoke of the authority of the armed people against the bourgeoisie -- a very characteristic difference between the philistine's and the revolutionary's views on "authority". . .).
It should be observed that the question of depriving the exploiters of the franchise is
purely a Russian question, and not a question of the dictatorship of the proletariat in general.
Had Kautsky, casting aside hypocrisy, entitled his pamphlet Against the Bolsheviks, the title would have corresponded to the contents of the pamphlet, and Kautsky would have been justified in speaking bluntly about the franchise. But Kautsky wanted to come out primarily as a "theoretician." He called his pamphlet
The Dictatorship of the Proletariat -- in general. He speaks about the Soviets and about Russia specially only in the second part of the pamphlet, beginning with the sixth paragraph. The subject dealt with in the first part (from which I took the quotation) is
democracy and dictatorship i n g e n e r a l. In speaking about the franchise, Kautsky
betrayed himself as an opponent of the Bolsheviks who does not care a brass farthing for theory. For theory, i.e., the discussion of the general (and not the nationally specific) class foundations of democracy and dictatorship, ought to deal not with a special question, such as the franchise, but with the general question of whether democracy can be
preserved for the rich, for the exploiters in the historical period of the overthrow of the exploiters and the replacement of their state by the state of the exploited.
That is the way, the only way, a theoretician can present the question.
We know the example of the Paris Commune, we know all that was said by the founders of Marxism in connection with it and in reference to it. On the basis of this material I examined, for example, the question of democracy and dictatorship in my pamphlet,
The State and Revolution, written before the October Revolution. I did not say any thing at all about restricting the franchise. And it must be said now that the question of restricting the franchise is a nationally specific and not a general question of the dictatorship. One must approach the question of restricting the
franchise by studying the specific conditions of the Russian revolution and the
specific path of its development. This will be done later on in this pamphlet. It would be a mistake, however, to guarantee in advance that the impending proletarian revolutions in Europe will all, or the majority of them, be necessarily accompanied by restriction of the franchise for the bourgeoisie. It may be so. After the war and the experience of the Russian revolution it probably will be so; but it is
not absolutely necessary for the exercise of the dictatorship, it is not an
indispensable characteristic of the logical concept "dictatorship," it does not enter as an
indispensable condition in the historical and class concept "dictatorship."
The indispensable characteristic, the necessary condition of dictatorship, is the
forcible suppression of the exploiters as a class, and, consequently, the
infringement of "pure democracy," i.e., of equality and freedom in regard to that
This is the way, the only way, the question can be put theoretically. And by failing to put the question thus, Kautsky showed that he opposes the Bolsheviks not as a theoretician, but as a sycophant of the opportunists and the bourgeoisie.
In which countries, and given what special national features of this or that capitalism, democracy for the exploiters will be restricted in some or other manner, (wholly or in part) infringed upon, is a question of the special national features of this or that capitalism, of this or that revolution. The theoretical question is different, viz., is the dictatorship of the proletariat possible
without infringing democracy in relation to the exploiting class?
It is precisely this question, the only theoretically important and essential one, that Kautsky has evaded. He has quoted all sorts of passages from Marx and Engels,
except those which bear on this question, and which I quoted above.
Kautsky talks about anything you like, about everything that is acceptable to liberals and bourgeois democrats and does not go beyond their circle of ideas, but he does not talk about the main thing, namely, the fact that the proletariat cannot achieve victory
without breaking the resistance of the bourgeoisie, without forcibly suppressing its enemies, and that, where there is "forcible suppression," where there is no "freedom,"
there is, of course, no democracy.
This Kautsky has not understood.
* * *
We shall now examine the experience of the Russian revolution and that divergence between the Soviets of deputies and the Constituent Assembly which led to the dissolution of the latter and to the withdrawal of the franchise from the bourgeoisie.