Press Statement from the RNC Welcoming Committee!

RNC Welcoming Committee Call

RNC Welcoming Committee Call

PRESS ADVISORY:
10am Thursday, 627 Smith Avenue, St. Paul.
Photo and interview opportunities
Contact: rncwcmedia@riseup.net, 202-277-5262

In light of the massive police and military violence playing out each day of the Republican National Convention, the targeting, entrapment, and persecution of protest logistics organizers, the inhumane conditions that continue for the hundreds of people in the Ramsey County Jail, and the harassment of supporters outside the jail, we in the RNC Welcoming Committee are not backing down from our organizing. The Welcoming Committee is working harder than ever to ensure that our friends and comrades are safe and that protesters who are speaking their minds in the face of repression have access to food, housing, bicycles, a meeting space, workshops, legal/jail support, and medical care.

The St Paul Police Department, the City of St Paul, and particularly Bob Fletcher with the Ramsey County Sheriff’s Department have labeled us a “criminal enterprise”, painting a picture of us and other anti-RNC organizers as faceless terrorists. On Thursday, September 4th at 10 AM on the 2nd floor of the RNC Convergence Space at 627 Smith Ave S., we will show the true faces and stories of the RNC Welcoming Committee.

We will show the 2nd floor of the convergence center as it was arranged at the time of the police raid last Friday night. We will give the latest information on the RNC 8, and we will take and answer questions. Afterwards, several members of the Welcoming Committee will be available for interview and photo opportunities.

The joint press conference will also feature the Poor People’s Economic Human Rights Campaign.

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A Critique of ISO on Identity Politics

A Chinese Poster displaying the alliance of all oppressed peoples fighting Imperialism

A poster from Maoist China displaying the alliance of all oppressed peoples fighting Imperialism

In an article “The politics of identity” published in the journal of the International Socialist Organization (ISO), a Trotskyist group in the US, Sharon Smith argues:

“At the most basic material level, no one group of workers ever benefits from particular forms of oppression.”(1)

Smith’s reasoning: “Whenever capitalists can force a higher paid group of workers to compete with a lower paid group, wages tend to drop. . . . The only beneficiaries are capitalists, who earn bigger profits, while ensuring the survival of the rule of the profit system.”

Smith’s argument, an attempt to undermine identity politics and “counterpos[e] to it a Marxist analysis,” greatly oversimplifies the problems of race, gender, and sexual orientation. Rather than a Marxist analysis, a concrete analysis of concrete conditions, the argument reduces social reality and its multiple contradictions into a single abstract contradiction between Labor and Capital.

While the contradiction between the proletariat and the bourgeoisie is the fundamental contradiction in capitalist society, the social relations in capitalist society are too complex and particular to be reduced to extensions of the fundamental contradiction. These social relations have their own histories and particularities. They have to be understood in their own right.

All revolutionary-minded people share the commitment to developing a movement to end all exploitation and oppression. Class reductionism holds back this process.

In the final analysis, no groups of oppressed and exploited people have a historic interest in capitalism. However, the system is structured in ways that different classes and strata effectively play roles of maintaining oppression.

Within capitalism, these classes and strata do benefit “at the most basic material level” from certain forms of oppression of others. Material interests under capitalism need to be distinguished from the larger historic interests of oppressed and exploited people. These larger historic interests can only be understood from the perspective of revolutionizing the existing social conditions.

Smith’s reasoning and the only reasoning offered in the article for her position — “[w]henever capitalists can force a higher paid group of workers to compete with a lower paid group, wages tend to drop” — comes essentially from a trade unionist, not a communist, perspective. It is confined within the logic of the capitalist system.

As long as the only issue at stake is the increase or decrease of wages, as long as the discussion does not break out of the realm of possibility of capitalist production relations, the solution for higher paid groups of workers to wage competition is to restrict the labor market and support protectionist trade policies, rather than fight oppression.

As demonstrated by the ugly history of the labor movement in the U.S., from the exclusion of women and Black people by unions to the campaigns against Asian immigration and the ethnic cleansing of Chinese people throughout the West Coast, from the chauvinist “Buy American” campaigns to the collaboration of the AFL-CIO with U.S. imperialism, the trade unionist perspective in this country inevitably leads to reaction.

Furthermore, Smith’s reasoning cannot explain the role of oppression on its own economic terms. If there exist stable groups of lower paid workers, why don’t capitalists employ more of them? Why are the unemployment and underemployment rates among oppressed people consistently higher than, even double or triple, the national rates?

It is only from a communist perspective, from the standpoint of the abolition of wages, the crossing of the narrow horizon of bourgeois right, and the abolition of the proletariat as a class, that the role of oppression in capitalist society becomes clear. The oppression of non-white people, women, and LGBTQ people helps to reproduce the conditions of capitalist production by preventing a combined political challenge to the system.

The system prevents this political challenge and the development of revolutionary movements of exploited and oppressed people through the relative material privileges extended to all white people, all men, and all heterosexual people based on their membership in these groups. Recognition of this is the key element missing from Smith’s piece. These material privileges reinforce racist, sexist, homophobic ideas. The fight against the structures that create these privileges and ideas is central to the development of revolutionary consciousness.

Lenin used the concept of “privilege” to describe the national privileges extended to oppressor nationalities under imperialism.(2) In her path-breaking essay “The Question of Women’s Leadership in People’s War in Nepal,” Comrade Parvati, a leader of the Nepali Maoists, used the concept of privilege to describe male privileges, such as the “monopoly on mental work” granted to men by the “old traditional division of labor” and the corresponding relegation of women to manual work, and argued that male cadre in the revolutionary party must struggle to “[relinquish] the privileged position bestowed on them by the patriarchal structure.”(3)

The concept of “false consciousness,” which Smith employs, does not explain why racist, sexist, and homophobic ideas are widespread in this society and why people act on them. Saying that the effects of these ideas on people’s behaviors “vary from individual to individual” and “change according to changing circumstances” does not explain why these ideas, and not others, are dominant.

The contradictions between white people and non-white people, between men and women, between heterosexual people and LGBTQ people are rooted in material reality. As Lenin made the distinction between oppressor nations and oppressed nations, Marxists today must make the distinction between oppressor and oppressed in each of these social relations.

Saying, as Smith does, that “Both exploitation and oppression are rooted in capitalism. . . . In each case, the enemy is one and the same,” overlooks the fact that all white people, all men, and all heterosexual people perpetuate oppressive social relations through their normal participation in society, even though these relations are indeed rooted ultimately in capitalist state power and can only be fully uprooted through proletarian state power.

Furthermore, each of these contradictions must also be understood in its particularity and resolved in its particularity. The contradiction of race, inseparable from the system of national oppression in the U.S. and the existence of the U.S. as a prison-house of nations where a dominant Euro-American nationality oppresses entire subject nations and nationalities, will be resolved differently than the contradiction of gender, which predates capitalist society and is bound up with the existence of private property. As Mao wrote, “Qualitatively different contradictions can only be resolved by qualitatively different methods.”(4)

Smith’s solution — “[build] a united movement against capitalism” that will “train workers to act in solidarity with all those who are oppressed and exploited by capitalism” — does not deal with the need to deliberately uproot the contradictions of race, gender, sexual orientation, as well as the contradictions between mental and manual labor, between urban and rural areas, and others.

Resolving these contradictions in their particularity is part of the communist transformation of society. This transformation begins in our mass organizations and revolutionary parties, to the extent possible in the old society, and continues under the dictatorship of the proletariat until humanity reaches a classless, stateless world. Marx summed up the goal of the communist project and Zhang Chunqiao gave it the name of the “Four Alls”(5):

“[S]ocialism is the declaration of the permanence of the revolution, the class dictatorship of the proletariat as the necessary transit point to the abolition of class distinctions generally, to the abolition of all the relations of production on which they rest, to the abolition of all the social relations that correspond to these relations of production, to the revolutionizing of all the ideas that result from these social relations.”(6)

1. Sharon Smith, The politics of identity, International Socialist Review, January-February 2008, http://www.isreview.org/issues/57/feat-identity.shtml.
2. V.I. Lenin, Theses on the National Question, June 1913, http://www.marxists.org/archive/lenin/works/1913/jun/30.htm.
3. Com. Parvati, The Question of Women’s Leadership in People’s War in Nepal, January 2003, http://www.monthlyreview.org/0203parvati.htm.
4. Mao Tse-tung, On Contradiction, August 1937, http://www.marx2mao.com/Mao/OC37.html.
5. Chang Chun-chiao, On Exercising All-Round Dictatorship Over the Bourgeoisie, 1975, http://www.marx2mao.com/Other/ARD75.html.
6. Karl Marx, The Class Struggles in France: 1848-1850, October 1850, http://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1850/class-struggles-france/index.htm.

On Exercising All-Round Dictatorship Over the Bourgeoisie

[We at ‘Good Morning, Revolution!’ are going to be presenting a series of articles of relevance on the question of Socialism today in China. Some of these articles will be historical to the fight against the Revisionist road during the Cultural Revolution, Some of these articles will be on the actualized conditions of the Chinese people, and we will present a few in defense of ‘socialism’ as it exists in China. We at Good Morning, Revolution more or less agree that China had embarked on the Capitalist Road soon after the death of Mao Zedong and can’t be rightfully said to be Socialist. However the recent death of Hua Goufeng – Mao’s successor in the role of Chairman of the Party – has resparked this very much had debate. Its a debate that is worth having again to defeat revisionism.  We therefore post up first the well known and most valuable essay “On Exercising All-Round Dictatorship Over the Bourgeoisie” by Zhang Chunqiao. We will of course be offering our own summation after a study of these documents and more.]

Smash Revisionism!

Quotations from Chairman Mao

Why did Lenin speak of exercising dictatorship over the bourgeoisie? It is essential to get this question clear. Lack of clarity on this question will lead to revisionism. This should be made known to the whole nation.

Our country at present practises a commodity system, the wage system is unequal, too, as in the eight-grade wage scale, and so forth. Under the dictatorship of the proletariat such things can only be restricted. Therefore, if people like Lin Piao come to power, it will be quite easy for them to rig up the capitalist system. That is why we should do more reading of Marxist-Leninist works.

Lenin said that “small production engenders capitalism and the bourgeoisie continuously, daily, hourly, spontaneously, and on a mass scale.” They are also engendered among a part of the working class and of the Party membership. Both within the ranks of the proletariat and among the personnel of state and other organs there are people who take to the bourgeois style of life.

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THE question of the dictatorship of the proletariat has long been the focus of the struggle between Marxism and revisionism. Lenin said, “Only he is a Marxist who extends the recognition of the class struggle to the recognition of the dictatorship of the proletariat.” And it is precisely to enable us to go by Marxism and not revisionism in both theory and practice that Chairman Mao calls on the whole nation to get clear on the question of the dictatorship of the proletariat.

Our country is in an important period of its historical development. As a result of more than two decades of socialist revolution and socialist construction, and particularly of the liquidation of the bourgeois headquarters of Liu Shao-chi and of Lin Piao in the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution, our proletarian dictatorship is more consolidated than ever, and our socialist cause is thriving. Full of militancy, all our people are determined to build China into a powerful socialist country before the end of the century. In the course of this effort and in the entire historical period of socialism, whether we can persevere all the way in the dictatorship of the proletariat is a cardinal issue for China’s future development. Current class struggles, too, require that we should get clear on the question of the dictatorship of the proletariat. Chairman Mao says, “Lack of clarity on this question will lead to revisionism.” it won’t do if only a few people grasp the point; it must “be made known to the whole nation.” The present and long-range importance of success in this study cannot be overestimated.

As early as 1920, Lenin, basing himself on practical experience in leading the Great October Socialist Revolution and directing the first state of proletarian dictatorship, pointed out sharply, “The dictatorship of the proletariat is a most determined and most ruthless war waged by the new class against a more powerful enemy, the bourgeoisie, whose resistance is increased tenfold by its overthrow (even if only in one country), and whose power lies not only in the strength of international capital, in the strength and durability of the international connections o the bourgeoisie, but also in the force of habit, in the strength of small production. For, unfortunately, small production is still very, very widespread in the world, and small production engenders capitalism and the bourgeoisie continuously, daily, hourly, spontaneously, and on a mass scale. For all these reasons the dictatorship of the proletariat is essential.” Lenin pointed out that the dictatorship of the proletariat is a persistent struggle—bloody and bloodless, violent and peaceful, military and economic, educational and administrative—against the forces and traditions of the old society, that it means all-round dictatorship over the bourgeoisie. Lenin stressed time and again that it is impossible to triumph over the bourgeoisie without exercising a protracted, all-round dictatorship over it. These words of Lenin’s, especially those he underscored, have been confirmed by practice in subsequent years. Sure enough, new bourgeois elements have been engendered batch after batch, and it is precisely the Khrushchov-Brezhnev renegade clique that is their representative. These people generally have a good class background; almost all of them were brought up under the red flag; they have joined the Communist Party organizationally, received college training and become so-called red experts. However, they are new poisonous weeds engendered by the old soil of capitalism. They have betrayed their own class, usurped Party and state power, restored capitalism, become chieftains of the dictatorship of the bourgeoisie over the proletariat, and accomplished what Hitler had tried to do but failed. Never should we forget this experience of history in which “the satellites went up to the sky while the red flag fell to the ground,” especially not at this time when we are determined to build a powerful country.

We must be soberly aware that there is still a danger of China turning revisionist. This is not only because imperialism and social-imperialism will never give up aggression and subversion against us, not only because China’s old landlords and capitalists are still around and unreconciled to their defeat, but also because new bourgeois elements are being engendered daily and hourly, as Lenin put it. Some comrades argue that Lenin was referring to the situation before collectivization. This is obviously incorrect. Lenin’s remarks are not out of date at all. These comrades may look up Chairman Mao’s On the Correct Handling of Contradictions Among the People published in 1957. There Chairman Mao shows by concrete analysis that after the basic victory in the socialist transformation of the system of ownership, which includes the achievement of agricultural co-operation, there still exist in China classes, class contradictions and class struggle, and there still exist both harmony and contradiction between the relations of production and the productive forces and between the superstructure and the economic base. Having summed up the new experience of the dictatorship of the proletariat after Lenin, Chairman Mao gave systematic answers to various questions arising after the change in the system of ownership, set forth the tasks and policies of the dictatorship of the proletariat, and laid the theoretical basis for the Party’s basic line and for continuing the revolution under the dictatorship of the proletariat. Practice in the past 18 years, particularly in the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution, has proved that the theory, line and policies advanced by Chairman Mao are entirely correct.

Chairman Mao pointed out recently, “In a word, China is a socialist country. Before liberation she was much the same as a capitalist country. Even now she practises an eight-grade wage system, distribution according to work and exchange through money, and in all this differs very little from the old society. What is different is that the system of ownership has been changed.” In order to gain a deeper understanding of Chairman Mao’s instruction, let us look at the changes in the system of ownership in China and the proportions of the various economic sectors in China’s industry, agriculture and commerce in 1973.

First, industry. Industry under ownership by the whole people covered 97 per cent of the fixed assets of industry as a whole, 63 per cent of the people engaged in industry, and 86 per cent of the value of total industrial output. Industry under collective ownership covered 3 per cent of the fixed assets, 36.2 per cent of the people engaged in industry, and 14 per cent of the total output value. Besides these, individual handicraftsmen made up 0.8 per cent of the people engaged in industry.

Next, agriculture. Among the agricultural means of production, about 90 per cent of the farmland and of the irrigation-drainage machinery and about 80 per cent of the tractors and draught animals were under collective ownership. Here ownership by the whole people made up a very small proportion. Hence, over 90 per cent of the nation’s grain and various industrial crops came from the collective economy. The state farms accounted for only a small proportion. Apart from these, there still remained the small plots farmed by commune members for their personal needs, and a limited amount of household side-line production.

Then commerce. State commerce accounted for 92.5 per cent of the total volume of retail sales, collectively owned commercial enterprises for 7.3 per cent, and individual pedlars for 0.2 per cent. Apart from these, there still remained the sizable amount of trade conducted at rural fairs.

The above figures show that socialist ownership by the whole people and socialist collective ownership by working people have indeed won a great victory in China. The dominant position of ownership by the whole people has been greatly enhanced and there have also been some changes in the economy of the people’s communes as regards the proportions of ownership at the three levels- commune, production brigade and production team. On Shanghai’s outskirts, for example, income at the commune level in proportion to total income rose from 28.1 per cent in 1973 to 30.5 per cent in 1974, that of the brigades rose from 15.2 per cent to 17.2 per cent, while the proportion going to the teams dropped from 56.7 per cent to 52.3 per cent. The people’s commune has demonstrated ever more clearly its superiority, consisting in its larger size and higher degree of public ownership. In so far as we have, step by step in the past 25 years, eliminated ownership by imperialism, bureaucrat-capitalism and feudalism, transformed ownership by national capitalism and by individual labourers and replaced these five kinds of private ownership with the two kinds of socialist public ownership, we can proudly declare that the system of ownership in China has changed, that the proletariat and other working people in China have in the main freed themselves from the shackles of private ownership, and that China’s socialist economic base has been gradually consolidated and developed. The Constitution adopted by the Fourth National People’s Congress specifically records these great victories of ours.

However, we must see that with respect to the system of ownership the issue is not yet fully settled. We often say that the issue of ownership “has in the main been settled”; this means that it has not been settled entirely, and also that bourgeois right has not been totally abolished in this realm. The statistics cited above show that private ownership still exists partially in industry, agriculture and commerce, that socialist public ownership does not consist entirely of ownership by the whole people but includes two kinds of ownership, and that ownership by the whole people is still rather weak in agriculture, which is the foundation of the national economy. The disappearance of bourgeois right in the realm of the system of ownership in a socialist society, as conceived by Marx and Lenin, implies the conversion of all the means of production into the common property of the whole of society. Clearly we have not yel reached that stage. Neither in theory nor in practice should we overlook the very arduous tasks tha lie ahead for the dictatorship of the proletariat ir this respect.

Moreover, we must see that both ownership b the whole people and collective ownership involve the question of leadership, that is, the question of which class holds the ownership in fact and no just in name.

Speaking at the First Plenary Session of the Ninth Central Committee of the Party on April 28 1969, Chairman Mao said, “Apparently, we couldn’t do without the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution, for our base was not solid. From m observations, I am afraid that in a fairly large majority of factories — I don’t mean all or the overwhelming majority — leadership was not in the hands of real Marxists and the masses of workers. Not that there were no good people in the leadership of the factories. There were. There were good people among the secretaries, deputy secretaries and members of Party committees and among the Party branch secretaries. But they followed that line of Liu Shao-chi’s, just resorting to material incentive, putting profit in command, and instead of promoting proletarian politics, handing out bonuses, and so forth.” “But there are indeed bad people in the factories.” “This shows that the revolution is still unfinished.” Chairman Mao’s remarks not only explain the necessity for the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution but also help us be more aware that in the problem of the system of ownership, as in all others, we should pay attention not only to its form but also to its actual content. It is perfectly correct for people to give full weight to the decisive role of the system of ownership in the relations of production. But it is incorrect to give no weight to whether the issue of ownership has been resolved merely in form or in actual fact, to the reaction upon the system of ownership exerted by the two other aspects of the relations of production — the relations among people and the form of distribution — and to the reaction upon the economic base exerted by the superstructure; these two aspects and the superstructure may play a decisive role under given conditions. Politics is the concentrated expression of economics. Whether the ideological and political line is correct or incorrect, and which class holds the leadership, decides which class owns those factories in actual fact. Comrades may recall how we turned any enterprise owned by bureaucrat capital or national capital into a socialist enterprise. Didn’t we do the job by sending a military-control representative or a state representative there to transform it according to the Party’s line and policies? Historically, every major change in the system of ownership, be it the replacement of slavery by the feudal system or of feudalism by capitalism, was invariably preceded by the seizure of political power, which was then used to effect large-scale change in the system of ownership and consolidate and develop the new system. Even more is this the case with socialist public ownership which cannot be born under the dictatorship of the bourgeoisie. Bureaucrat capital, which controlled 80 per cent of the industry in old China, could be transformed and placed under ownership by the whole people only after the People’s Liberation Army had defeated Chiang Kai-shek. Similarly, a capitalist restoration is inevitably preceded by the seizure of leadership and a change in the line and policies of the Party. Wasn’t this the way Khrushchov and Brezhnev changed the system of ownership in the Soviet Union? Wasn’t this the way Liu Shao-chi and Lin Piao changed the nature of a number of our factories and other enterprises to varying degrees?

Also, we must see that what we are practising today is a commodity system. Chairman Mao says, “Our country at present practises a commodity system, the wage system is unequal, too, as in the eight-grade wage scale, and so forth. Under the dictatorship of the proletariat such things can only be restricted. Therefore, if people like Lin Piao come to power, it will be quite easy for them to rig up the capitalist system.” This state of affairs which Chairman Mao pinpointed cannot be changed in a short period. For instance, in the rural people’s communes on the outskirts of Shanghai where the economy at the commune and production brigade levels has developed at a rather fast pace, commune ownership accounts for 34.2 per cent of the fixed assets owned at all three levels, and brigade ownership accounts for only 15.1 per cent, while ownership by the production teams still occupies 50.7 per cent of the whole. Therefore, even if we take economic conditions in the communes alone, it will require a fairly long time to effect the transition from the team as the basic accounting unit to the brigade and then to the commune. Moreover, even when the commune becomes the basic accounting unit, the ownership will still be collective. Thus, in the short term, there will be no basic change in the situation in which ownership by the whole people and collective ownership co-exist. So long as we still have these two kinds of ownership, commodity production, exchange through money and distribution according to work are inevitable. And since “under the dictatorship of the proletariat such things can only be restricted,” the growth of capitalist factors in town and country and the emergence of new bourgeois elements are likewise inevitable. If such things are not restricted, capitalism and the bourgeoisie will grow more rapidly. Therefore, on no account should we relax our vigilance just because we have won a great victory in the transformation of the system of ownership and carried out one Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution. We must realize that our economic base is not yet solid, that bourgeois right has not yet been abolished entirely in the system of ownership, and that it still exists to a serious extent in the relations among people and holds a dominant position in distribution. In the various spheres of the superstructure, some areas are in fact still controlled by the bourgeoisie which has the upper hand there; some are being transformed but the results are not yet consolidated, and old ideas and the old force of habit are still stubbornly obstructing the growth of socialist new things. New bourgeois elements are engendered, batch after batch, in the wake of the development of capitalist factors in town and country. The class struggle between the proletariat and the bourgeoisie, the class struggle between the different political forces, and the class struggle in the ideological field between the proletariat and the bourgeoisie will continue to be long and tortuous and at times will even become very acute. Even when all the landlords and capitalists of the old generation have died, such class struggles will by no means come to a stop, and a bourgeois restoration may still occur if people like Lin Piao come to power. In his speech The Situation and Our Policy After the Victory in the War of Resistance Against Japan, Chairman Mao described how in 1936, near the site of the Party Central Committee in Pao-an, there was a fortified village held by a handful of armed counter-revolutionaries who obstinately refused to surrender until the Red Army stormed into it to settle the problem. This story has a universal significance, for it tells us: “Everything reactionary is the same; if you don’t hit it, it won’t fall. It is like sweeping the floor; where the broom does not reach, the dust never vanishes of itself.” Today there are still many “fortified villages” held by the bourgeoisie; when one is destroyed, another will spring up, and even if all have been destroyed except one, it will not vanish of itself if the iron broom of the dictatorship of the proletariat does not reach it. Lenin was entirely correct in saying, “For all these reasons the dictatorship of the proletariat is essential.”

Historical experience shows us that whether the proletariat can triumph over the bourgeoisie and whether China will turn revisionist hinges on whether we can persevere in exercising all-round dictatorship over the bourgeoisie in all spheres and at all stages of development of the revolution. What is all-round dictatorship over the bourgeoisie? The most succinct generalization is found in a passage from a letter Marx wrote in 1852 to J. Weydemeyer, which we are all studying. Marx said, “…no credit is due to me for discovering the existence of classes in modern society, nor yet the struggle between them. Long before me bourgeois historians had described the historical development of this struggle of the classes, and bourgeois economists the economic anatomy of the classes, What I did that was new was to prove: 1) that the existence of classes is only bound up with particular historical phases in the development of production; 2) that the class struggle necessarily leads to the dictatorship of the proletariat; 3) that this dictatorship itself only constitutes the transition to the abolition of all classes and to a classless society.” In this splendid observation, Lenin said, Marx succeeded in expressing with striking clarity the chief and radical difference between his theory on the state and that of the bourgeoisie, and the essence of his teaching on the state. Here it should be noted that Marx divided the sentence on the dictatorship of the proletariat into three points, which are interrelated and cannot be cut apart. It is impermissible to accept only one of the three points while rejecting the other two. For the sentence gives complete expression to the entire process of the inception, development and withering away of the dictatorship of the proletariat and covers the whole task of the dictatorship of the proletariat and its actual content. In The Class Struggles in France, 1848-1850, Marx deals in more specific terms with this dictatorship of the proletariat as the necessary transit point to the abolition of class distinctions generally, to the abolition of all the relations of production on which they rest, to the abolition of all the social relations that correspond to these relations of production, and to the revolutionizing of all the ideas that result from these social relations. In all the four cases, Marx means all. Not a part, a greater part, or even the greatest part, but all! This is nothing surprising, for only by emancipating all mankind can the proletariat achieve its own final emancipation. The only way to attain this goal is to exercise all-round dictatorship over the bourgeoisie and carry the continued revolution under the dictatorship of the proletariat through to the end, until the above-mentioned four alls are banished from the earth so that it will be impossible for the bourgeoisie and all other exploiting classes to exist or for new ones to arise; we definitely must not call a halt along the path of the transition. In our view, only those who understand the matter this way can be deemed to have grasped the essence of Marx’s teaching on the state. Comrades, please think it over: If the matter is not understood in this way, if Marxism is limited, curtailed and distorted in theory and practice, if the dictatorship of the proletariat is turned into an empty phrase, or all-round dictatorship over the bourgeoisie is crippled by amputation and exercised only in some spheres but not in all, or only at a certain stage (for instance, before the transformation of the system of ownership) but not at all stages, or in other words, if not all of the “fortified villages” of the bourgeoisie are destroyed but some are left, allowing the bourgeoisie to expand again, doesn’t this mean preparing the conditions for bourgeois restoration? Doesn’t it mean turning the dictatorship of the proletariat into a thing that protects the bourgeoisie, particularly the newly engendered bourgeoisie? All workers, all poor and lower-middle peasants and other working people who refuse to be plunged back into suffering and woe, all Communists who have dedicated their lives to the struggle for communism, and all comrades who do not want China to turn revisionist, must firmly bear in mind this basic principle of Marxism: It is imperative to exercise all- round dictatorship over the bourgeoisie, and absolutely impermissible to give it up half-way. There are undeniably some comrades among us who have joined the Communist Party organizationally but not ideologically. In their world outlook they have not yet over-stepped the bounds of small production and of the bourgeoisie. They do approve of the dictatorship of the proletariat at a certain stage and within a certain sphere and are pleased with certain victories of the proletariat, because these will bring them some gains; once they have secured their gains, they feel it’s time to settle down and feather their cosy nests. As for exercising all- round dictatorship over the bourgeoisie, as for going on after the first step on the 10,000-li long march, sorry, let others do the job; here is my stop and I must get off the bus. We would like to offer a piece of advice to these comrades: It’s dangerous to stop half-way! The bourgeoisie is beckoning to you. Catch up with the ranks and continue to advance!

Historical experience also teaches us that, as the dictatorship of the proletariat wins one victory after another, the bourgeoisie may pretend on the surface to accept this dictatorship while in reality it continues to work to restore the dictatorship of the bourgeoisie. This is exactly what Khrushchov and Brezhnev have done. They changed neither the name “Soviet,” nor the name of the party of Lenin, nor the name “socialist republics.” But, accepting these names and using them as a cover, they have gutted the dictatorship of the proletariat of its actual content and turned it into a dictatorship of the monopoly capitalist class that is anti- Soviet, opposed to the party of Lenin and opposed to the socialist republics. They put forward the revisionist programme of “the state of the whole people” and “party of the entire people,” which is an open betrayal of Marxism. But when the Soviet people stand up against their fascist dictatorship, they hoist the flag of the dictatorship of the proletariat in order to suppress the masses. Similar things have happened in China. Liu Shao-chi and Lin Piao did not limit themselves to spreading the theory of the dying out of class struggle; they, too, flaunted the flag of the dictatorship of the proletariat while suppressing the revolution. Didn’t Lin Piao preach his four “never forgets”? One of them was “never forget the dictatorship of the proletariat.” Indeed that was something he “never forgot,” only the words “to overthrow” need inserting to make it into “never forget to overthrow the dictatorship of the proletariat,” or as confessed by his own gang, “wave Chairman Mao’s banner to strike at Chairman Mao’s forces.” At times they trimmed their sails to the proletariat and even pretended to be more revolutionary than anyone else, raising “Left” slogans to create confusion and carry out sabotage, but they were usually waging a direct counter-struggle against the proletariat. You wanted to carry out socialist transformation? They said the new democratic order had to be consolidated. You wanted to organize co-operatives and communes? They said it was too early to do that. When you said literature and art should be revolutionized, they said it would do no harm to stage a few plays about ghosts. You wanted to restrict bourgeois right? They said it was an excellent thing indeed and should be extended. They are a bunch of past masters at defending old things and, like a swarm of flies, buzz all day long over the “birth marks” and “defects” of the old society referred to by Marx. They are particularly keen on taking advantage of the inexperience of our young people to boost material incentive to them, saying that like strong bean-curd cheese, it stinks but tastes fine. And they invariably wave the banner of socialism while carrying on these dirty tricks. Aren’t there some scoundrels who, engaging in speculation, graft and theft, say that they are promoting socialist co-operation? Don’t some instigators of crime who poison the minds of young people hoist the banner of “care and love for the successors to the cause of communism”? We must study their tactics and sum up our experience so as to exercise all-round dictatorship over the bourgeoisie more effectively.

“Are you out to stir up a wind of ‘communization’?” To fabricate rumours by posing such a question is a tactic which some persons have resorted to recently. We can give a definite answer: The wind of “communization” as stirred up by Liu Shao-chi and Chen Po-ta shall never be allowed to blow again. We have always held that, instead of having too much in the way of commodities, our country has not yet a sufficient abundance of them. So long as the communes cannot yet offer ‘Much to be “communized” along with what the production brigades and teams would bring in, and enterprises under ownership by the whole people cannot offer a great abundance of products for distribution to each according to his needs among our 800 million people, we will have to continue practising commodity production, exchange through money and distribution according to work. We have taken and will continue to take proper measures to curb the harm caused by these things. The dictatorship of the proletariat is dictatorship by the masses. We are confident that under the leadership of the Party, the broad masses have the strength and the ability to fight against the bourgeoisie and finally vanquish it. Old China was a vast sea of small production. Conducting socialist education among several hundred million peasants is a serious question at all times and requires the endeavour of several generations. But among the several hundred million peasants, the poor and lower-middle peasants form the majority, and they know from practice that the only path to the bright future for them is to follow the Communist Party and keep on along the socialist road. Our Party has relied upon them to forge unity with the middle peasants for the step-by-step advance from mutual- aid teams to the elementary and advanced agricultural producers’ co-operatives and then to the people’s communes, and we can surely lead them in further advance.

We would rather call the attention of comrades to the fact that it is another kind of wind that is now blowing — the “bourgeois wind.” This is the bourgeois style of life Chairman Mao has pointed to, an evil wind stirred up by those “parts” of the people who have degenerated into bourgeois elements. The “bourgeois wind” blowing from among those Communists, particularly leading cadres, who belong to these “parts,” does us the greatest of harm. Poisoned by this evil wind, some people have got their heads full of bourgeois ideas; they scramble for position and gain and feel proud of this, instead of being ashamed. Some have sunk to the point of looking at everything as a commodity, themselves included. They join the Communist Party and go to work for the proletariat merely for the sake of upgrading themselves as commodities and asking the proletariat for a higher price. Those who are Communists in name but new bourgeois elements in reality exhibit the features of the decadent and moribund bourgeoisie as a whole. Historically, when the slave-owning, landlord and capitalist classes were in the ascendancy, they did some things of benefit to mankind. But today’s new bourgeois elements are heading in the opposite direction to their forefathers. They are nothing but a heap of “new” garbage that can only harm mankind. Among the rumour-mongers about a wind of “communization” being stirred up, some are new bourgeois elements who have taken public property into their private possession and fear that the people will “communize” it again; others want to use the chance to grab something for themselves. These people have a better nose than many of our comrades. Some of our comrades say that study is an “elastic” task that can yield precedence to others, whereas these people have sensed by instinct that the present study is an “inelastic” matter gravely confronting both classes, the proletariat and the bourgeoisie. Indeed they themselves may deliberately stir up some wind of “communization,” or take over one of our own slogans in order to confuse the two different types of contradictions and play some unexpected trick. This is worth watching.

Under the leadership of the Party Central Committee headed by Chairman Mao, the mighty army of the proletarian revolution formed by China’s masses in their hundreds of millions is striding vigorously forward. We have 25 years of practical experience in exercising the dictatorship of the proletariat, as well as all the international experience since the Paris Commune, and so long as the few hundred members of our Party Central Committee and the several thousand senior cadres take the lead and join the vast numbers of other cadres and the masses in reading and studying assiduously, carrying on investigation and analysis and summing up experience, we can certainly translate Chairman Mao’s call into reality, gain clarity on the question of the dictatorship of the proletariat, and ensure our country’s triumphant advance along the course charted by Marxism-Leninism-Mao Tsetung Thought. “The proletarians have nothing to lose but their chains. They have a world to win.” This infinitely bright prospect will surely continue to inspire growing numbers of awakened workers and other working people and their vanguard, the Communists, to keep to the Party’s basic line, persevere in exercising all-round dictatorship over the bourgeoisie and carry the continued revolution under the dictatorship of the proletariat through to the end! The extinction of the bourgeoisie and all other exploiting classes and the victory of communism are inevitable, certain and independent of man’s will.

Who Still Has ‘Cold War Mentality’?

Rice ups the ante for Russians

Rice ups the ante for Russians

As the Russian military slowly pulls out from deep in the interior of Georgia to areas protecting the small breakaway republics of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, they have faced criticism all along of their “Soviet” mentality and Cold War one ups-manship. These criticisms hailed from the White House and most NATO allies.

Today, Condoleezza Rice signs a deal with Polish President Lech Kaczynski to install a Missile Defense shield in Poland. I wonder if the impetus to do so is still the reported possibility of Iranian long range missile attacks? Let’s get real, who really still has cold war mentality?

A Caucasus is a Rumblin’

Monkey Don't See! - Saakashvili continues his baffoonery in the international eye

A Little War Today and What Little is Said

The recent conflict that has broken out between Russia and Georgia still continues on, and every day it seems harder to keep pace with Russian movement inside Georgia and Georgian resistance. But how has this come to be? We’re painted a picture by the US and its Western European allies that this is a continuation of Russian Empire mentality, that they’re still stuck in “Soviet” frame of mind.

Is there some truth to Greater Russia chauvinism consciously being played out by Putin? Perhaps this is true; we do know this has historically played out. Is this the whole story? Not even close. The media attacks the Russian push based on the cries of Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili and the played up threat of Russian militarism. We hardly here from our media the initiation of this conflict by the Georgians themselves [attacking the town of Tskhinvali], that provocative acts by the US and Georgia throughout the summer have resparked tension in the region, and that Russia is claiming an attempt at ethnic cleansing of villages in South Ossetia.

Many people don’t know much of the history of Georgia itself, a country that was once part of the Soviet Union, was the homeland of Joseph Stalin and was a spot of intense fighting in the Russian Civil War. The history of the Ossetian and Abkhaz people’s fight for autonomy begins there.

Ossetia, Georgia, and the Struggle against Menshevism.

The Ossetian people are a small national minority rooted in the provinces of North Ossetia (Russian Federation) and South Ossetia (Georgia). They are an Iranian people which established themselves in the Caucuses around 200 AD. The Abkhaz people are linguistically related to the Georgian people, but through centuries of struggle over their land by Byzantine Greeks, Ottoman Turks, and Imperial Russia, the character of its people is much different from the rest of Georgia. The history of the Caucuses is altogether one of displacement, ethnic cleansing, and a struggle for history.

In 1917, the Tsarist government fell in the midst of the First World War, and the Provisional Russian government led by a coalition of Social-Revolutionaries and Mensheviks set up the Transcaucasian Democratic Federative Republic. This state consisted of the three countries we know today that comprise the Caucus region –Georgia, Armenia, and Azerbaijan – and were for a brief period of time, autonomous of the Provisional Government.

When the Bolsheviks forced the Kerensky [Social-Revolutionary] government from power, a bitter Civil War throughout the old Empire ensued. Mensheviks and forces close to the old sitting government took the opportunity to break and form their own sovereign nations in the Caucuses. This however was not done genuinely out of nationalist sentiment, but political bitterness with the Bolsheviks. The Democratic Republic of Georgia was established under the leadership of the Menshevik factions in Georgia. All the while, the people of Ossetia, poor and destitute were rising up against the Transcaucasian Federation and then Georgian State. The National Council of Ossetia was created that called for self-rule and autonomy, and soon the Bolsheviks became a popular leading force in its organizing. A popular Ossetian uprising against the Georgians in the town of Tskhinvali [a site of the recent battle between Russia & Ossetians against Georgia] was crushed by the Menshevik Georgian People’s Guard.

Ossetians began joining the Bolsheviks, demanding autonomy that was already conceded to the Abkhazians – which was refused by the Menshevik government – and militarily organizing. Soon Ossetians declared Soviet power in the bordering region with Russia, they held to power for a short while, then were once again crushed by the Georgian People’s Guard, which was estimated to have at least seven thousand people and a couple of tens of thousands more becoming refugees.

Autonomy in the Soviet Union.

In 1921, The Red Army invaded and defeated the Menshevik led government. Soon after, the people of South Ossetia were given reasonable autonomy – as an Oblast – in the Georgian Soviet Socialist Republic. The people of Abkhazia became a full fledged Soviet Republic shortly and then an Autonomous Republic within Georgia.

For the most part through the Soviet experience, the people of South Ossetia had a great deal of autonomy. In Abkhazia this was still relative, as the thuggish Lavernty Beria [First Secretary of the Georgian Communist Party] carried out a little known campaign of Georgian Chauvinism, encouraging Russian and Georgian resettlement in Abkhazia.

There was relative calm throughout the period of the Soviet Union until the unraveling of it. Through the 1980s’, the people of South Ossetia and Abkhazia feared the increased power of nationalists within Georgia and the looming dissolution of the Soviet Union would mean the reversal of their historical struggle for autonomy. They were right.

Georgian Nationalism and Chauvinism Re-Emerges.

In 1990, the Supreme Soviet of the Georgian Communist Party dissolved the autonomy of South Ossetia after South Ossetia’s attempts to secede from Georgia and join Russia –a similar action was taken by Milosevic and the Serbian Communist Party against the autonomous status of Kosovo. In 1991, Georgian nationalist Zviad Gamsakhurdia was elected as President of Georgia.

Soon however the country of Georgia was in the midst of civil war and different internal political conflicts in the state. Zviad Gamsakhurdia was quickly deposed. The political unity in Georgia amongst different political heads and factions was sensitive. The Republic of Georgia proceeded in little wars against Ossetia and Abkhazia to reconstitute Georgian “territorial integrity.” These early conflicts ended in military disasters for Georgia. The Supreme Soviet of South Ossetia, though officially dissolved by Georgia, reconstituted itself and instituted self-governance. Georgia attacked the town of Tskhinvali, and after a protracted struggle against Ossetians with their significant aid from Russia for over a year, the Georgians were forced out. South Ossetia became self-governing and in fact independent of Georgia.

In 1992, Georgia engaged in invading Abkhazia. This war was much brutal and intense than the war in South Ossetia. Abkhazians were subjected to Georgian and Russian displacement even through the existence of the Soviet Union. Abkhazians had by 1990 become a minority within their own land and they carried out an all out war against Georgian military and Civilians. Georgian civilians organized themselves into paramilitaries to fight Abkhazians. Forces of Armenians, Chechens, Circassians, and other ethnic minorities in the Caucus region and Georgia joined to fight the Georgians. In 1993, the Georgian military were humiliated and defeated. Abkhazia became a de facto independent republic.

Ever since the disastrous military defeats of Georgia by Abkhazia and South Ossetian separatists, the Georgian state had to reorganize and reconstitute itself. A long period of relative stability under the presidency of Eduard Shevardnadze in Georgia; there were a few mini-skirmishes and controversies with Russia. Georgia worked to establish autonomy for Adjara – bordering Turkey – while remaining a part of Georgia.

Renewed Georgian Arrogance and US Intrigue.

In 2004, Shevardnadze was deposed in what was called the ‘Rose Revolution’ by the forces around current Georgian president Mikhail Saakashvili. While Shevardnadze was pro-Western & pro-NATO, he was not a strong nationalist and ruled with a slight hand. Saakashvili came to power on a strong nationalist, strong government & neo-liberal platform. He has also called for Georgia to join NATO and create stronger ties with the European Union. In 2004, Georgia stopped its active membership within the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) [former Soviet Republics] and this past week the Georgian parliament voted unanimously to end its membership permanently. Saakashvili increased the size of the Georgian military and attached them to the US military. A Georgian brigade has served in Iraq and the US military runs war games and training in Georgia. There is a political mindset in Georgia that this sort of little brother appendage-ism to US Imperialism will provide them with protection to challenge Russia and to route out separatists.

Like the Ukrainian ‘Orange Revolution,’ the Kyrgystan ‘Tulip Revolution,’ the Serbian 5th October Movement, and the current opposition in Venezuela, there was heavy ties, funding and training with various liberal NGOs’, some in the pay of George Soros and others with history of work with the US government and CIA. It is thought that George Soros flipped the bill of 42 million dollars in the organizing of the ‘Rose Revolution.’

Saakashvili, weeks prior to this brief war, was mobilizing troops into South Ossetia. The Georgian military led a planned and thought out attack against the separatists and isolation of Russian ‘peace-keepers.’ They put the region of Tskhinvali under siege and had eyes on the roads into North Ossetia, hopefully they could take possession of these roads quickly enough to make Russia given a second thought to confrontation.

But this military assault pushed by Saakashvili – who till recently was in discussion with Russia to stop economic sanctions and in discussion with the breakaway states – would be absolutely mad if he wasn’t secure in his frame of mind of security provided by his partnership with the US and other European nations. Georgia provides not only a little trinket in the “war on terror,” but valuable pipelines that can bypass Russia into the Black Sea for European consumption, and another strategic point [a proxy] to challenge Russian hegemony amongst the CIS.

It is probable though that Saakashvili is really miscalculating what the US can do and the political environment in the US. Saakashvili has close ties to Randy Scheunemann, a former lobbyist of the country and now a foreign advisor of John McCain. Sheunemann worked to build public support for the invasion of Iraq and had a close association with Ahmed Chalabi, leader of the Iraqi National Congress. When Condoleezza Rice was in Tbilisi recently, Saakashvili lambasted that the West had not done enough to deter Russia.

It seems to be clear at this point, Saakashvili overplayed his hand on the US and the US is trying to find a way to cover up its impotence in the whole affair.

To the Victors goes the Spoils?

In a recent interview on a BBC show entitled ‘Hardtalk’ the Russian Foreign Minister, Sergey Lavrov, said outright South Ossetia and Abkhazia will never be part of Georgia again. With already several referendums of the people of South Ossetia expressing their desire to leave Georgia, Abkhazia becoming majority Abkhazian again, and the severe military defeat of Georgia in this war, the statement by Lavrov seems to be genuine.

Russia is now unchallenged power on the Caucuses for now and it has rid all Georgian military from the breakaway states. It has showed Europe it can snap their route for alternative source for Caspian oil and caught the US with its pants down. Russia has come out of this little war, so far, the victor. It does seem the process of some sort of reconciliation of Georgia and the Separatists is done, and the process for their unification with the Russian Federation is underway.

Last Chinese Maoist Village?

Elections: A Trap for Fools

[Every so often I am astounded that someone quite self-conscious of the role of Bourgeois electoral politics gets caught up in the game. I still don’t see why radical left-wing people in NYC think that there is any reason to work for the Obama campaign. So I am posting up a little piece of excellent flame-bait. A little challenge to all my friends who are rallying to Obama when they know he is moving closer and closer to centre-right. Is the novelty of having the first black man as president in this country so great that we lose our strategic need to begin developing revolutionary consciousness?] –ShineThePath

Elections: A Trap for Fools
by Jean-Paul Sartre

Jean Paul Sartre

Jean Paul Sartre

In 1789 the vote was given to landowners. What this meant was that the vote had been given not to men but to their real estate, to bourgeois property, which could only vote for itself. Although the system was profoundly unfair, since it excluded the greater part of the French population, it was not absurd. The voters, of course, voted individually and in secret. This was in order to separate them from one another and allow only incidental connections between their votes. But all the voters were property owners and thus already isolated by their land, which closed around them and with its physical impenetrability kept out everything, including people. The ballots were discrete quantities that reflected only the separation of the voters. It was hoped that when the votes ere counted, they would reveal the common interest of the greatest number, that is, their class interest. At about the same time, the Constituent Assembly adopted the Le Chapelier law, whose ostensible purpose was to put an end to the guilds but which was also meant to prohibit any association of workers against their employers. Thus passive citizens without property, who bad no access to indirect democracy (in other words, to the vote which the rich were using to elect their government), were also denied permission to form groups and exercise popular or direct democracy. This would have been the only form of democracy appropriate to them, since they could not be separated from one another by their property.

Four years later, when the Convention replaced the landowners’ vote by universal suffrage, it still did not choose to repeal the Le Chapelier law. Consequently the workers, deprived once and for all of direct democracy, had to vote as landowners even though they owned nothing. Popular rallies, which took place often even though they were prohibited, became illegal even as they remained legitimate. What rose up in opposition to the assemblies elected by universal suffrage, first in 1794, then during the Second Republic in 1848, and lastly at the very beginning of the Third in 1870, were spontaneous though sometimes very large rallies of what could only be called the popular classes, or the people. In 1848 especially, it seemed that a worker’s power, which had formed in the streets and in the National Workshops, was opposing the Chamber elected by universal suffrage, which had only recently been regained. The outcome is well known: in May and June of 1848, legality massacred legitimacy. Faced with the legitimate Paris Commune, the very legal Bordeaux Assembly, transferred to Versailles, had only to imitate this example.

At the end of the last century and the beginning of this one, things seemed to change. The right of the workers to strike was recognized, and the organization of trade unions was allowed. But the presidents of the Council, the heads of legality, would not tolerate the intermittent thrusts of popular power. Clemenceau in particular became known as a strikebreaker. All of them were obsessed by fear of the two powers. They refused to consider the coexistence of legitimate power, which had conic into being here and there out of the real unity of the popular forces, with the falsely indivisible power which they exercised and which really depended on the infinitely wide dispersal of the voters. In fact, they had fallen into a contradiction which could only be resolved by civil war, since the function of civil war was to defuse this contradiction.

When we go to vote tomorrow, we will once again be substituting legal power for legitimate power. The first, which seems precise and perfectly clear-cut, has the effect of separating the voters in the name of universal suffrage. The second is still embryonic, diffuse, unclear even to itself. At this point it is indistinguishable from the vast libertarian and anti-hierarchical movement which one encounters everywhere but which is not at all organized yet. All the voters belong to very different groups. But to the ballot box they are not members of different groups but citizens. The polling booth standing in the lobby of a school or town hall is the symbol of all the acts of betrayal that the individual may commit against the group lie belongs to. To each person it says: “No one can see you, you have only yourself to look to; you are going to be completely isolated when you make your decision, and afterwards you can hide that decision or lie about it.” Nothing more is needed to transform all the voters who enter that hall into potential traitors to one another. Distrust increases the distance that separates them. If we want to fight against atomization, we must try to understand it first.

Men are not born in isolation: they are born into a family which forms them during their first years. Afterwards they will belong to different socioprofessional communities and will start a family themselves. They are atomized when large social forces — work conditions under the capitalist regime, private property, institutions, and so forth — bring pressure to bear upon the groups they belong to, breaking them up and reducing them to the units which supposedly compose them. The army, to mention only one example of an institution, does not look upon the recruit as an actual person; the recruit can only recognize himself by the fact that he belongs to existing groups. The army sees in him only the man, that is, the soldier — an abstract entity which is defined by the duties and the few rights which represent his relations with the military power. The soldier, which is just what the recruit is not but which military service is supposed to reduce him to, is in himself other than himself, and all the recruits in the same class are identically other. it is this very identity which separates them, since for each of them it represents only his predetermined general relationship with the army. During the hours of training, therefore, each is other than himself and at the same time identical with all the Others who are other than themselves. He can have real relations with his comrades only if they all cast off their identity as soldiers — say, at mealtimes or during the evening when they are in the barracks. Yet the word “atomization,” so often used, does not convey the true situation of people who have been scattered and alienated by institutions. They cannot be reduced to the absolute solitude of the atom even though institutions try to replace their concrete relations with people by incidental connections. They cannot be excluded from all forms of social life: a soldier takes the bus, buys the newspaper, votes. All this presumes that he will make use of “collectives” along with the Others. But the collectives address him as a member of a series (the series of newspaper buyers, television watchers, etc.). He becomes in essence identical with all the other members, differing from them only by his serial number. We say that he has been serialized. One finds serialization in the practico-inert field, where matter mediates between men to the extent that men mediate between material objects. (For example, as soon as a man takes the steering wheel of his car he becomes no more than one driver among others and, because of this, helps reduce his own speed and everyone else’s too, which is just the opposite of what he wanted, since he wanted to possess his own car.)

At that point, serial thinking is born in me, thinking which is not my own thinking but that of the Other which I am and also that of all the Others. It must be called the thinking of powerlessness, because I produce it to the degree that I am Other, an enemy of myself and of the Others, and to the degree that I carry the Other everywhere with me. Let us take the case of a business where there has not been a strike for twenty or thirty years, but where the buying power of the worker is constantly falling because of the “high cost of living.” Each worker begins to think about a protest movement. But twenty years of “social peace” have gradually established serial relations among the workers. Any strike — even if it were only for twenty-four hours — would require a regrouping of those people. At that point serial thinking — which separates them — vigorously resists the first signs of group thinking. Serial thinking will take several forms: it will be racist (“The immigrant workers would not go along with us”), sexist (“The women would not understand us”), hostile to other categories of society (“The small shopkeepers would not help us any more than the country people would”), distrustful (“The man near me is Other, so I don’t know how he would react”), and so forth. All the separatist arguments represent not the thinking of the workers themselves but the thinking of the Others whom they have become and who want to keep their identity and their distance. If the regrouping should come about successfully, there will be no trace left of this pessimistic ideology. Its only function was to justify the maintenance of serial order and of an impotence that was in part tolerated and in part accepted.

Universal suffrage is an institution, and therefore a collective which atomizes or serializes individual men. It addresses the abstract entities within them — the citizens, who are defined by a set of political rights and duties, or in other words by their relation to the state and its institutions. The state makes citizens out of them by giving them, for example, the right to vote once every four years, on condition that they meet certain very general requirements — to be French, to be over twenty-one — which do not really characterize any of them.

From this point of view all citizens, whether they were born in Perpignan or in Lille, are perfectly identical, as we saw in the case of the soldiers. No interest is taken in the concrete problems that arise in their families or socioprofessional groups. Confronting them in their abstract solitude and their separation are the groups or parties soliciting their votes. They are told that they will be delegating their power to one or several of these political groups. But in order to “delegate its power,” the series formed by the institution of the vote would itself have to possess at least a modicum of power. Now, these citizens, identical as they are and fabricated by the law, disarmed and separated by mistrust of one another, deceived but aware of their impotence, can never, as long as they remain serialized, form that sovereign group from which, we are told, all power emanates — the People. As we have seen, they have been granted universal suffrage for the purpose of atomizing them and keeping them from forming groups.

Only the parties, which were originally groups — though more or less bureaucratic and serialized — can be considered to have a modicum of power. In this case it would be necessary to reverse the classic formula, and when a party says “Choose me!” understand it to mean not that the voters would delegate their sovereignty to it, but that, refusing to unite in a group to obtain sovereignty, they would appoint one or several of the political communities already formed, in order to extend the power they have to the national limits. No party will be able to represent the series of citizens, because every party draws its power from itself, that is, from its communal structure. In any case, the series in its powerlessness cannot delegate any authority. Whereas the party, whichever one it might be, makes use of its authority to influence the series by demanding votes from it. The authority of the party over the serialized citizens is limited only by the authority of all the other parties put together.

When I vote, I abdicate my power — that is, the possibility everyone has of joining others to form a sovereign group, which would have no need of representatives. By voting I confirm the fact that we, the voters, are always other than ourselves and that none of us can ever desert the seriality in favor of the group, except through intermediaries. For the serialized citizen, to vote is undoubtedly to give his support to a party. But it is even more to vote for voting, as Kravetz says; that is, to vote for the political institution that keeps us in a state of powerless serialization.

We saw this in 1968 when de Gaulle asked the people of France, who had risen and formed groups, to vote — in other words, to lie down again and retreat into seriality. The non-institutional groups fell apart and the voters, identical and separate, voted for the U.D.R. [1] That party promised to defend them against the action of groups which they themselves had belonged to a few days earlier. We see it again today when S…guy asks for three months of social peace in order not to disturb the voters, but actually so that elections will be possible. For they no longer would be if fifteen million dedicated strikers, taught by the experience of 1968, refused to vote and went on to direct action. The voter must remain lying down, steeped in his own powerlessness. He will thus choose parties so that they can exert their authority and not his. Each man, locked in his right to vote just as the landowner is locked inside his land, will choose his masters for the next four years without seeing that this so-called right to vote is simply the refusal to allow him to unite with others in resolving the true problems by praxis.

The ballot method, always chosen by the groups in the Assembly and never by the voters, only aggravates things. Proportional representation did not save the voters from seriality, but at least it used all the votes. The Assembly accurately reflected political France, in other words repeated its serialized image, since the parties were represented proportionally, by the number of votes each received. Our voting for a single ticket, on the other band, works on the opposite principle — that, as one journalist rightly said, 49 percent equals zero. If the U.D.R. candidates in a voting district obtain 50 percent of the votes in the second round, they are all elected. The opposition’s 49 percent is reduced to nothing: it corresponds to roughly half the population, which does not have the right to be represented.

Take as an example a man who voted Communist in 1968 and whose candidates were not elected. Suppose he votes for the Communist Party again in 1973. If the results are different from the 1968 results, it will not be because of him, since in both cases be voted for the same candidates. For his vote to be meaningful, a certain number of voters who voted for the present majority in 1968 would have to grow tired of it, break away from it, and vote further to the left. But it is not up to our man to persuade them; besides, they are probably from a different milieu and he does not even know them. Everything will take place elsewhere and in a different way: through the propaganda of the parties, through certain organs of the press. As for the Communist Party voter, be has only to vote; this is all that is required of him. He will vote, but he will not take part in the actions that change the meaning of his vote. Besides, many of those whose opinion can perhaps be changed may be against the U.D.R. but are also deeply anti-Communist. They would rather elect “reformers,” who will thus become the arbiters of the situation. It is not likely that the reformers will at this point join the Socialist Party-Communist Party. They will throw their weight in with the U.D.R. which, like them, wants to maintain the capitalist regime. The U.D.R. and the reformers become allies — and this is the objective meaning of the Communist man’s vote. His vote is in fact necessary so that the Communist Party can keep its votes and even gain more votes. It is this gain which will reduce the number of majority candidates elected and will persuade them to throw themselves into the arms of the reformers. There is nothing to be said if we accept the rules of this fool’s game.

But insofar as our voter is himself, in other words insofar as he is one specific man, he will not be at all satisfied with the result he has obtained as an identical Other. His class interests and his individual purposes have coincided to make him choose a leftist majority. He will have helped send to the Assembly a majority of the right and center in which the most important party will still be the U.D.R. When this man, therefore, puts his ballot in the box, the box will receive from the other ballots a different meaning from the one this voter wished to give it. Here again is serial action as it was seen in the practico-inert area.

We can go even further. Since by voting I affirm my institutionalized powerlessness, the established majority does not hesitate to cut, trim, and manipulate the electoral body in favor of the countryside and the cities that “vote the right way” — at the expense of the suburbs and outlying districts that “vote the wrong way.” Even the seriality of the electorate is thereby changed. If it were perfect, one vote would be equal to any other. But in reality, 120,000 votes are needed to elect a Communist deputy, while only 30,000 can send a U.D.R. candidate to the Assembly. One majority voter is worth four Communist Party voters. The point is that the majority voter is casting his ballot against what we would have to call a supermajority, meaning a majority which intends to remain in place by other means than the simple seriality of votes.

Why am I going to vote? Because I have been persuaded that the only political act in my life consists of depositing my ballot in the box once every four years? But that is the very opposite of an act. I am only revealing my powerlessness and obeying the power of a party. Furthermore, the value of my vote varies according to whether I obey one party or another. For this reason the majority of the future Assembly will be based solely on a coalition, and the decisions it makes will be compromises which will in no way reflect the desires expressed by my vote. In 1959 a majority voted for Guy Mollet because he claimed be could make peace in Algeria sooner than anyone else. The Socialist government which came to power decided to intensify the war, and this induced many voters to leave the series — which never knows for whom or for what it is voting — and join clandestine action groups. This was what they should have done much earlier, but in fact the unlikely result of their votes was what exposed the powerlessness of universal suffrage.

Actually, everything is quite clear if one thinks it over and reaches the conclusion that indirect democracy is a hoax. Ostensibly, the elected Assembly is the one which reflects public opinion most faithfully. But there is only one sort of public opinion, and it is serial. The imbecility of the mass media, the government pronouncements, the biased or incomplete reporting in the newspapers — all this comes to seek us out in our serial solitude and load us down with wooden ideas, formed out of what we think others will think. Deep within us there are undoubtedly demands and protests, but because they are not echoed by others, they wither away and leave us with a “bruised spirit” and a feeling of frustration. So when we are called to vote, I, the Other, have my head stuffed with petrified ideas which the press or television has piled up there. They are serial ideas which are expressed through my vote, but they are not my ideas. The institutions of bourgeois democracy have split me apart: there is me and there are all the Others they tell me I am (a Frenchman, a soldier, a worker, a taxpayer, a citizen, and so on). This splitting-up forces us to live with what psychiatrists call a perpetual identity crisis. Who am I, in the end? An Other identical with all the others, inhabited by these impotent thoughts which come into being everywhere and are not actually thought anywhere? Or am I myself? And who is voting? I do not recognize myself any more.

There are some people who will vote, they say, “just to change the old scoundrels for new ones,” which means that as they see it the overthrow of the U.D.R. majority has absolute priority. And I can understand that it would be nice to throw out these shady politicians. But has anyone thought about the fact that in order to overthrow them, one is forced to replace them with another majority which will keep the same electoral principles?

The U.D.R., the reformers, and the Communist Party-Socialist Party are in competition. These parties stand on a common ground which consists of indirect representation, their hierarchic power, and the powerlessness of the citizens, in other words, the “bourgeois system.” Yet it should give us pause that the Communist Party, which claims to be revolutionary, has, since the beginning of peaceful coexistence, been reduced to seeking power in the bourgeois manner by accepting the institution of bourgeois suffrage. It is a matter of who can put it over on the citizens best. The U.D.R. talks about order and social peace, and the Communist Party tries to make people forget its revolutionary image. At present the Communists are succeeding so well in this, with the eager help of the Socialists, that if they were to take power because of our votes, they would postpone the revolution indefinitely and would become the most stable of the electoral parties. Is there so much advantage in changing? In any case, the revolution will be drowned in the ballot boxes — which is not surprising, since they were made for that purpose.

Yet some people try to be Machiavellian, in other words, try to use their votes to obtain a result that is not serial. They aim to send a Communist Party-Socialist Party majority to the Assembly in hopes of forcing Pompidou to end the pretense — that is, to dissolve the Chamber, force us into active battle, class against class or rather group against group, perhaps into civil war. What a strange idea — to serialize us, in keeping with the enemy’s wishes, so that he will react with violence and force us to group together. And it is a mistaken idea. In order to be a Machiavel, one must deal with certainties whose effect is predictable. Such is not the case here: one cannot predict with certainty the consequences of serialized suffrage. What can be foreseen is that the U.D.R. will lose seats and the Communist Party-Socialist Party and the reformers will gain seats. Nothing else is likely enough for us to base a strategy on it. There is only one sign: a survey made by the I.F.O.P. and published in France-Soir on December 4, 1972, showed 45 percent for the Communist Party-Socialist Party, 40 percent for the U.D.R., and 15 percent for the reformers. It also revealed a curious fact: there are many more votes for the Communist Party-Socialist Party than there are people convinced that this coalition will win. Therefore — and always allowing for the fallibility of surveys — many people seem to favor voting for the left, yet apparently feel certain that it will not receive the majority of the votes. And there are even more people for whom the elimination of the U.D.R. is the most important thing but who are not particularly eager to replace it by the left.

So as I write these comments on January 5, 1973, I find a U.D.R.-reformer majority likely. If this is the case, Pompidou will not dissolve the Assembly; lie will prefer to make do with the reformers. The majority party will become somewhat supple, there will be fewer scandals — that is, the government will arrange it so that they are harder to discover — and Jean-Jacques Servan-Schreiber and Lecannet will enter the government. That is all. Machiavellianism will therefore turn against the small Machiavels.

If they want to return to direct democracy, the democracy of people fighting against the system, of individual men fighting against the seriality which transforms them into things, why not start here? To vote or not to vote is all the same. To abstain is in effect to confirm the new majority, whatever it may be. Whatever we may do about it, we will have done nothing if we do not fight at the same time — and that means starting today — against the system of indirect democracy which deliberately reduces us to powerlessness. We must try, each according to his own resources, to organize the vast anti-hierarchic movement which fights institutions everywhere.