The Economic Basis of the Withering Away of the State: The State and Revolution

by Vladimir Lenin

Marx explains this question most thoroughly in his Critique of the Gotha Programme (letter to Bracke, May 5, 1875, which was not published until 1891 when it was printed in Neue Zeit, vol. IX, 1, and which has appeared in Russian in a special edition). The polemical part of this remarkable work, which contains a criticism of Lassalleanism, has, so to speak, overshadowed its positive part, namely, the analysis of the connection between the development of communism and the withering away of the state.

1. Presentation of the Question by Marx

From a superficial comparison of Marx’s letter to Bracke of May 5, 1875, with Engels’ letter to Bebel of March 28, 1875, which we examined above, it might appear that Marx was much more of a “champion of the state” than Engels, and that the difference of opinion between the two writers on the question of the state was very considerable.

Engels suggested to Bebel that all chatter about the state be dropped altogether, that the word “state” be eliminated from the programme altogether and the word “community” substituted for it. Engels even declared that the Commune was long a state in the proper sense of the word. Yet Marx even spoke of the “future state in communist society”, i.e., he would seem to recognize the need for the state even under communism.

But such a view would be fundamentally wrong. A closer examination shows that Marx’s and Engels’ views on the state and its withering away were completely identical, and that Marx’s expression quoted above refers to the state in the process of withering away. Continue reading

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Some Developing Countries: Draft Ideological Resolution of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)

Latin America 

7.1   The emergence of popular governments riding the wave of massive popular upsurge against imperialism and its neo-liberal offensive in Latin America has been popularly described as a ‘pink tide – turn to the Left’.

7.2   Many countries in Latin America are ruled by either Left-wing or progressive governments after winning democratic elections. Left-wing coalitions, including Communist parties, that have emerged in these countries are providing an alternative to imperialist globalization and neo-liberalism within capitalism. This experience is in direct contrast with the armed struggles that are continuing in countries like Peru and Colombia, demonstrating once again the futility of Left-adventurism. USA has set-up seven military bases in Colombia, mainly targeting Venezuela, by using a right-wing reactionary regime, under the pretext of ‘protecting democracy’ from ‘Left-wing’ militancy. Continue reading

Sample Resolutions from the XX Congress of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)

Resolution on Violence against Women

This 20th Congress of the CPI(M) expresses deep concern over the steep escalation in crimes against women, and is alarmed by the barbarity and savagery of the atrocities being committed at a time when women are entering public life, institutions of learning, and diverse work spheres in increasing numbers. The crude commodification of women and the portrayal of women as sex objects in the mass media is highly objectionable and is not only demeaning to women but creates an environment which trivialises the crime of sexual harassment and violence against women. Continue reading

Venezuela’s Recovery from Austerity: The Successful Outcomes of the Bolivarian Revolution

by Kurt B.

The war against global capitalism and American imperialism has been a long and bloody struggle for those feeling the oppression and exploitation in the developing world.  For those countries which share a close proximity to the United States, the creation or adoption of counter-ideologies has sometimes become the inevitable result of combating existing inequalities and injustices due to neo-colonialism.

Throughout the 20th century, many Central and South American nations have undertaken this course of action, including the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, which has embarked on the most revolutionary transition in the entire region in recent times.

The Bolivarian Revolution was instigated in 1997 by the Fifth Republic Movement; a left-wing political party led by Hugo Chavez (renamed the United Socialist Party of Venezuela in 2007).  After winning democratic elections in 1998 and being formally inaugurated as President of Venezuela, Chavez fully dedicated his incumbency to fighting poverty, illiteracy and the vast inequalities that engulfed his country.  He strived to achieve these goals by reforming every realm of societal existence and the policy-making process to ensure that any positive changes made would stay intact. Continue reading

Political Statement by the Communist Party of Ireland

Communist Party of Ireland

At its regular meeting held on 31 March the National Executive Committee of the Communist Party of Ireland discussed the continuing crisis of the system and its growing effect on the economic and social well-being of working people, north and south. This crisis is the central question facing all our people, north and south. A just outcome for working people can only be found in their united action throughout the country fighting for an alternative socialist way forward.

The party calls for maximum opposition and a resounding No vote in the forthcoming referendum on the Treaty on Stability, Coordination and Governance in the Economic and Monetary Union. The CPI demands that the European Stability Mechanism (ESM) Treaty also be put to the people in a referendum, as the two are inseparable. Both are central to the imposition of permanent austerity on working people in Ireland and all working people throughout the euro zone and the EU as a whole. This mechanism creates a permanent bail-out fund for capital that working people will be forced to pay into generation after generation as capital gambles away the future of the planet.

The CPI calls on the ICTU to stop prevaricating, to campaign for a No vote, and to come out clearly and give leadership to Irish workers in regard to these treaties and explain their potential effect on working people. Continue reading

The Absurd Myths Porn Teaches Us About Sex

By Noah Brand and Ozy Frantz

Young people who have learned about sex from watching porn have a treasure trove of sadly mistaken beliefs and misconceptions about sexuality.

Photo Credit: Shutterstock
When Lynette, a college student, first hooked up with an ex-boyfriend, she came face to face with the unrealistic ideals mainstream porn can create about sexuality.

“I had a boyfriend who didn’t realize that women had pubic hair,” she tells us in an interview. “Because he had only watched porn, he had never seen a naked woman outside of porn, so he just sort of failed to realize they had pubic hair.”

“This came up somewhat before my pants came off,” she added, “so you can realize how awkward this was.” She paused. “His face was memorable. In an ‘oh God, what is wrong with me, I am never taking my pants off in front of anyone ever again’ way.”

Porn has become immensely popular in the last century. With the rise of Internet pornography, no longer do you have to enter a sleazy sex shop in a shady part of town to witness an astonishing panoply of sex acts. A quick Google brings you sex acts from the mundane (happy amateur couples having missionary intercourse) to the bizarre (could looners, who have a sexual fetish for balloons, ever have met each other outside the Internet?). Many teenagers have their first introduction to sex from the glow of a computer screen.

And these days, it can lead to some hilarious misconceptions.

Learning About Sex from Porn

Despite Rick Santorum’s newly declared war on porn, porn is not evil. Alan McKee, an Australian university professor and pornography researcher, tells AlterNet, “Pornography is good at teaching lifelong learning, open communication, that sexual development should not be aggressive, coercive, or joyless, self-acceptance, awareness and acceptance that sex is pleasurable, and competence in mediated sexuality.” In short, he claims that pornography can be the foundation to a healthy sex life—not to mention leading to many solo orgasms.

The problem is, learning about sex from porn is like learning about firearms from action movies. Action movies sacrifice realism for the sake of storyline or a really cool explosion. Action movies don’t teach you gun safety. Action movies don’t talk about alternatives to violence. And action movies use some tropes—such as the infinite ammo supply—that may move the story along but don’t reflect reality. That’s not a problem, as long as everyone treats them as entertaining fantasies.

Unfortunately, for many young people becoming sexually active today, the entertaining fantasies of mainstream porn are the teacher they’ve spent the most time with, and mainstream porn is a terrible teacher.

Talking to various young people about porn and sexuality, we quickly discovered a treasure trove of sadly mistaken beliefs about sex. A teenage boy who believed that all women, no matter how much they protested otherwise, really wanted to be called sluts when they had sex. Guys who think that foreplay is just jamming a few fingers up someone’s vagina before sex. People who didn’t know you need lube to have anal sex.

“I’ve met more than a few guys who were very surprised to discover that women more often masturbate by humping their hands or rubbing their clits than by penetrating themselves,” blogger Holly Pervocracy said.

“I actually had a guy tell me I was wrong,” Lynette said. “If I was rubbing my clit, it wasn’t real masturbation. He didn’t even know about the G spot; he thought I should be getting off on the friction of my fingers with my vagina.”

Women aren’t the only ones who fall victim to glaring anatomical mistakes. The giant, ever-hard, pounding penises of male mainstream porn stars are equally unrealistic. “My first boyfriend told me, in all seriousness, that he was pretty small—just seven and a half inches,” said Pervocracy. “He thought nine was average.”

Lynette agrees. “I talked to a guy who said that he thought he was average, he didn’t know, maybe he was on the small side. Really played it up,” she said. “Finally he admitted that he was eight inches. I burst out laughing. Ashamed, he looked at me and asked ‘is that that small?’”

These myths about sexuality might seem humorous, but they hide a tragic truth. A generation of teenagers grew up under Bush’s record-breaking funding for abstinence-only sex education.

Although Obama has eliminated funding for abstinence-only and funded evidence-based comprehensive sex education, the damage has already been done. And both Santorum and Romney, the frontrunners for the GOP nomination, favor abstinence-only sex education—despite the evidence that it delays loss of virginity only eight months. According to research at the Guttmacher Institute, the rates of pregnancy and STIs among teenagers who received abstinence-only sex education are far greater than the rates among those who didn’t.

Even so-called comprehensive sex education is deeply limited. Often, it focuses on STIs and condoms to the exclusion of any other topic. Even basic ideas like queerness or consent are usually neglected. In my comprehensive sex education, we labeled a diagram of the vulva that didn’t have the clitoris on it—no wonder some people think that women are supposed to get off on friction with their vagina! In such a limited sex education, you can forget about having someone’s misapprehensions about penis size or the prevalence of the female orgasm corrected.

Admittedly, even in the absence of good sex education, only a small percentage of people who use porn use it to figure out how sex “really works.” Most of the teens who use porn use it for the same reason anyone else does—arousal, masturbation and orgasms. Nevertheless, the lessons that mainstream porn teaches when no one knows that they’re learning from it may be just as disheartening.

Susie Bright, in The Pride of Miss Kitty MacKinnon, famously compared many people who criticize the problematic aspects of mainstream porn to people who taste several glasses of salt water and insist only one of them is salty. However, that glass of saltwater is still salty, and porn still has many racist, sexist and queerphobic elements. Even worse, in the absence of truly comprehensive sex education, many people may believe that real sex is somehow supposed to reflect those elements.

“Porn gives us the wonderful ‘she-male’ and ‘chicks with dicks’ names… I’d consider it a misconception because people think those are legitimate things to call us,” trans activist Ami Angelwings says. “Asian trans women porn gave a former boyfriend of mine the idea that trans women were prettier and passed better than white ones which led him to remark ‘Asian guys make the best women’ (and yes that’s when I broke up with him).”

“The majority of guys who fetishize Japanese women are clearly getting it from anime porn,” Pervocracy said, “and will be very disappointed if their Japanese woman turns out not to be childlike, whimperingly submissive, or cartoonishly cutesy.”

“I think the porn that plays into the submissive Asian girls thing is more the Asian porn produced in the US… these often exotify Asian women,” Angelwings said.

She added, “I know more than a few people who have intuited through the differences in expression in women in Japanese porn (vs. US porn) that Japanese men get off on rape.”

Some people object to the idea that a private fantasy in the boundaries of one’s own mind is something other people ought to be concerned with. However, a person’s private sex life is much different than treating trans women as “chicks with dicks” or Japanese women as childish and submissive in media distributed around the globe. A fantasy is one thing; perpetrating degrading and inaccurate stereotypes is quite another. Whatever their flaws, most schools at least try to convey the idea that you shouldn’t stereotype people based on their race or gender identity, a distinct plus over porn.

Equally troublesome is the clean, packaged image of sex sold within mainstream pornography. Within the world of mainstream porn, erections appear upon request and continue until their owner wishes for the sex to end, at which point the orgasm is prompt. Sex positions and acts are chosen for how they look on camera, not how they feel to the participants. Everyone is constantly up for sex, with no negotiation between fluctuating libidos required. No one ever experiences vaginal farting or can’t get the penis in no matter what they do or falls off the bed.

Porn is a fantasy. Fantasies are supposed to be unrealistic. To depict the fluffers or the multiple retakes or the porn star getting the hair waxed off her ass would ruin the movie. Genuine sex education could teach people that erections and orgasms are often unpredictable, that acrobatic sex positions aren’t always necessary for good sex, that libidos differ, and that sometimes mistakes happen in sex. But in its absence, the fantasy of porn—and the fantasy that porn is not a fantasy—can lead to unrealistic beliefs about how sex works.

That’s the advantage of truly comprehensive sex education. Of course, it can reveal that women are often not multiorgasmic and how to have safer sex, and that’s valuable. But, more importantly, truly comprehensive sex education can point out the diversity of sex: people have different bodies, different desires and different abilities; it’s not that the sex presented in mainstream porn is the best and other people’s sex is less good, but that there are thousands of possible and enjoyable sex lives. Sex is human and weird and often quite funny, and that’s a side of it that porn rarely shows.

“Porn also hid from me the existence of sexual moods beyond ‘passionate’ or ‘dominating,’” Holly Pervocracy said. “It wasn’t until I got out into the sexual real world that I understood the idea you could have sleepy sex, that you could have silly giggling sex, that you could have quick morning sex or slow evening sex, that you could have romping goofy sex with your shirts or socks still on, that you could have cuddly sex, that you could have comfort-sex when one of you is sad, that you could have ‘hm, let’s see if this works’ experimental sex, that you could have sweetly awkward nerd-sex, that you could have gleefully competitive athletic sex.”

And she adds, “It wasn’t until I got out in the sexual real world that I knew you could smile during sex.”

 AlterNet / March 26, 2012  |

Education Costs Put Heavier Burden on Women

People’s Voice Montreal Bureau

Tuition fee increases disproportionately impact the access of women to education, an example of social policy perpetuating gender inequality, says a new policy report from a feminist research group at Concordia University in Montreal.

The report, authored by the Simone de Beauvoir Institute, was released as students mobilize for increased access to education. The Charest Liberals have announced a $1,625 across‑the‑board increase in tuition fees in Quebec. Across Canada, over the past three decades, tuition fees have increased by 400 per cent above inflation, pushing student debt to a record four billion dollars.

On average, the report notes, women are poorer than men because of pay inequality. In Canada, women workers make 71 cents on each dollar for a man for comparable work. At the same time, to fund their education, more young women students are working than ever before.

In Quebec today, over 40 per cent of students work more than 20 hours a week, considered a threshold‑level critical for academic success. Women are over‑represented in low and minimum‑wage jobs. Many students also work for free, in so‑called “co‑op” placements, for‑profit research, or other such “partnerships” with corporations.

Pay‑inequality has a very negative affect on single parents (overwhelmingly mothers) who are forced to allocate 18 per cent of family revenue on education costs for a bachelor‑level diploma, compared with two‑parent families who already spend 10 per cent of revenue for a diploma. Likewise, child support payments rarely cover the expenses of raising children. (In Ontario, for example, the average child support payments are only $3,000 a year – when they are paid).

Women’s life‑long learning, post‑secondary education or re‑training is further held back by the Harper government’s refusal to implement a country‑wide child care program. The total number of quality child care spaces is inadequate; nor is day care affordable. Even in Quebec, which has a $7 a day child care, spaces are limited with waiting lists up to three years. Child care is rarely available in the evenings, when night courses are offered.

While provincial governments justify tuition increases by claiming education is a good investment and will result in an increased salary, women and men do not get the same financial result out of their diplomas. On a life average, women will make $863,268 less than a man for the same diploma. This inequality is even greater for women from racialized and new immigrant communities.

Aboriginal women face additional obstacles to obtaining a diploma. While 25% of non‑aboriginal women hold a diploma at the age of 25, only 9% of Aboriginal women do so at same age. Breaking Treaty rights guaranteeing access to post‑secondary education, the federal government has capped First Nations and Inuit education funding at two per cent growth since 1996. Métis and non‑status students receive no funding to pursue their education.

This racist policy has likely prevented hundreds of thousands of Aboriginal students from attending college or university. About 20,000 eligible students are on current waiting lists. A dire crisis of unemployment and poverty exists in Aboriginal communities fighting the genocidal legacy of colonial policies, leaving young Aboriginal women struggling to just graduate high school.

Trade school and art and design programs, as well as apprenticeship programs to recruit women into so‑called “non‑traditional” work are also under‑funded or non‑existent.  Despite massive increases in military spending and an aggressive recruitment campaign, there have been virtually no new programs to counter the higher sexual violence, harassment and domestic abuse experienced by women training, working, or living on military bases.

The barriers women face are reflected in the character and quality of education received by students, the Institute said. Greater barriers to post‑secondary education result in fewer women instructors and tenured professors, which can be reinforced by racist and sexist hiring practices. Under pressure to immediately find a job after graduation, women students are less likely to enrol in courses such as Gender Studies. These programs have been the specific target of cutbacks by university administrations. The University of Northern British Columbia, for example, has all but eliminated its Women Studies program.

“Ensuring equitable access to state‑funded education not only supports students; it is one concrete way to support the work of post-secondary teachers, as well,” the Institute said.

Responding to the claim that governments, and particularly the Charest Liberals, do not have sufficient funds to adequately support women’s education, the Institute noted that imposing licensing fees on mining and industrial manufacturing companies using water in Quebec alone could yield $775 million annually (at a rate of just one penny for each litre used). “[C]ollectively, Quebec does have the resources required to ensure that all people have equitable access to post‑secondary education,” the Institute said.

*note: People’s Voice is a Canadian communist publication. You can visit their website here.