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

Capitalism: A Ghost Story

by Arundhati Roy

Rockefeller to Mandela, Vedanta to Anna Hazare…. How long can the cardinals of corporate gospel buy up our protests?

CORBIS (FROM OUTLOOK, MARCH 26, 2012)

Antilla the Hun Mukesh Ambani’s 27-storey home on Altamont Road. Its bright lights, say the neighbours, have stolen the night.

Is it a house or a home? A temple to the new India, or a warehouse for its ghosts? Ever since Antilla arrived on Altamont Road in Mumbai, exuding mystery and quiet menace, things have not been the same. “Here we are,” the friend who took me there said, “Pay your respects to our new Ruler.”

Antilla belongs to India’s richest man, Mukesh Ambani. I had read about this most expensive dwelling ever built, the twenty-seven floors, three helipads, nine lifts, hanging gardens, ballrooms, weather rooms, gymnasiums, six floors of parking, and the six hundred servants. Nothing had prepared me for the vertical lawn—a soaring, 27-storey-high wall of grass attached to a vast metal grid. The grass was dry in patches; bits had fallen off in neat rectangles. Clearly, Trickledown hadn’t worked. Continue reading

Is the French Communist Party Back?

by Zoltan Zigedy

After years of retreat and opportunism and consequent loss of support and influence, the French Communist Party (PCF) is showing signs of life. Aligned with smaller parties in the Left Front (Front de Gauche, FG), the PCF has rallied around the presidential candidacy of Jean Melenchon for the forthcoming first round of French elections. The latest polls show Melenchon with over 14% of the prospective voters, ahead of all other candidates excepting Hollande (PS) and Sarkozy (UMP).

This once dynamic party succumbed to the allure of reformism, anti-Sovietism, and compromise with its embrace of the so-called “Euro-Communist” stance in the seventies. With over half a million members immediately after World War II, and garnering more votes than any other party at that time, the PCF was poised to become the dominant force in French politics, if not the first CP to launch a Western European country onto the road to socialism. Continue reading

The Same People Who Support Sheriff Joe Arpaio Support Congressman Ron Paul. They’re Called Neo-Nazis.

by Rick Gunderman

Ron Paul hysteria seems to have truly gripped the Internet, and not simply among American users. Virtually every English-speaking country has now produced its share of keyboard cowboys hell-bent on taking up the mission that their hero has handed down to them – to spread the word, since Dr. Paul himself is refusing financial donations from rich people.

Actually, he’s not. And although not rich himself, he’s also not poor. But that’s beside the point.

Neither are his policies the point, although it is worth mentioning some highlights in brief.

A Wolf In Sheep’s Clothing

Dr. Paul has captivated many self-described left-wing activists, mostly those who insist on a “libertarian” bend to their ideology. Aside from revealing the general bankruptcy of “left-wing libertarianism”, it reveals broadly the faults that come with a lack of coherent political theory. Continue reading

Budget for the Rich, Not Workers

People’s Voice Editorial

The first Tory majority budget was delivered two days after this PV went to the printshop. But the outlines were hinted at for weeks by Conservative cabinet ministers. Like the rest of the capitalist world, Canada remains in a protracted economic crisis, and the working class will be forced to pay the price through austerity and war.

Of course, the Tories argue that their “responsible leadership” has left Canada in a relatively well-off position. Measured by the rebound in corporate profits and share prices since the 2008 meltdown, that may be true for the wealthy. But for the 1.5 million Canadians officially counted as jobless, or working people struggling to survive on low wages, or Aboriginal peoples who remain in dire poverty, there is no “recovery” or security.

Instead of tackling the serious problems of unemployment and poverty, the Tories are joining the global capitalist attack on pension eligibility. Instead of investing in desperately needed low-income housing and affordable child care, they pour billions of taxpayer dollars into prisons, cops, and military hardware. Rather than increase taxes on corporate profits, they download costs to the provinces as a way to artificially “reduce” the federal deficit.

Whenever the Harperites say that “everyone” must help to tackle the deficit, remember that Canada’s economic problems were created by big business and the wealthy – those who reap the benefits of lower taxes on profits and the highest income brackets. By “everyone”, they mean the workers who create the wealth of our society, but have no voice in determining the future of Canada. In our system, budgets are just another form of class war by the rich against the poor. More than ever, we need to build a powerful coalition of the working class and its allies to change course, to win policies for the needy, not the greedy!

Death Rays and the Like

The Guardian, Australia

by Rob Gowland

The scientific boys and girls who work for the US military, products of some of the best educational institutions in the USA, recently showed off their latest effort to move human civilisation forward: a “crowd control” pain ray. Rejoicing in the relatively innocuous name “Active Denial System”, the new US weapon sends out a high-frequency electromagnetic ray. In other words, it is designed to do to demonstrators what a microwave oven does to porridge.

And you don’t have to stick the demonstrator in the oven for it to be effective: the ray has a range of “seven football fields”. Whoopee!

The US military has been experimenting with death rays for decades – as well as nerve gasses, neutron weapons, space-mounted X-ray weapons, etc, anything that might kill people while leaving property untouched.

It seems this policy has finally met up with another US phenomenon: the public backlash against the increasingly obvious way US government policy is being run by and for big corporations, to the growing detriment of the working stiffs who actually create the country’s wealth.

The Pentagon is clearly looking towards the day when they will have to defend the rich and powerful from the multitude of “have-nots”, who are not going to be satisfied with promises and propaganda forever.

The US military already trains for “subduing” civil disturbances, disturbances where the enemy to be “subdued” are not wily foreigners in turbans but typical Americans carrying peace placards!

Turning a “non-lethal” heat ray on them is a not particularly big step from that point. During the “occupy Wall St” protests police in New York herded demonstrators into fenced in areas and then turned their pepper sprays on them at close range. Pepper spray – like rubber bullets and tazers – is also defined as a “non-lethal” weapon, despite instances where the use of such weapons has resulted in fatalities.

According to Pentagon tests, people hit with the heat ray feel an intense, unbearable heat. Turn a weapon like that on to a struggling mass of people, some angry some frightened, and you have a recipe for panic and trampling. Especially if the weapon is in the hands of a soldier who has been taught to regard demonstrators as “the enemy” and who has also been told “not to worry, it’s non lethal”.

Demonstrations are made up of people of all ages and states of health. What is the effect of this heat ray on pregnant women? On a foetus? On someone with a heart condition?

And why is the military being trained to use this weapon against demonstrators anyway? We are constantly being told that the right to demonstrate against the government and its laws is a fundamental measure of our democracy. Well, is it or isn’t it? Gunning down demonstrators with a heat ray doesn’t sound very democratic.

US Marine Colonel Tracy Taffola, showing off the weapon to the media, boasted that: “It could be used across the military spectrum of operations, perimeter security, crowd control, entry control points, you name it. I think our forces will figure out the many different applications that it would have.”

I think that is just what people are afraid of.

The British tabloid the Globe and Mail reports that “Various development versions of the heat ray have been tested for years. One was sent to Afghanistan – but never used – in 2010.” That raises interesting questions: why send it and then never use it? Is it perhaps not so “non-lethal” after all?

The Globe And Mail also reports that “Police departments have shown interest”. I’ll bet they have. When you see how enthusiastically they embraced tasers when those babies became available, shooting people umpteen times with the electric shock weapons, giving police a long-distance way of inflicting pain on demonstrators seems like a very unsafe thing to do.

Among the comments that appeared on US websites about this news report was this one from Socialist, who suggested that “now is indeed time to leave the country”: “My nephew will be going abroad to attend university, he can get a quality education for a tiny fraction of the price of an equivalent US education (taught in English). When he graduates, he will not be a debt slave to the banksters.”

When an on-line correspondent asserted that “There is no place on the face of the earth that you or anybody else will be safe from Obama’s military”,Socialist responded with the commonsense argument: “However in relative terms, there are places that are less violent [than the USA], where essentials of life (like health care, education, quality food and housing) are much more affordable. The Empire, even with drones and all the technology, does not have the power to control everything. The Empire is more fragile than we can imagine. The quality of life in the US is far lower than many would care to admit.”

That last point is very real and is becoming recognised by more and more Americans, as the endless propaganda they are fed – about living in the greatest country on Earth – falls apart in front of their eyes. Just the other day I saw a television news report in which US primary school teachers referred to the schools they taught in as “third world” standard.

Every day that big oil companies and big banks and filthy rich hedge funds get additional tax breaks from the US government while consumer prices continue to rise (not least at the petrol pump), is a day when Americans are forced to look at the reality of the world and to compare it with the laughable fantasy they are fed as “the American dream”. The number who don’t bother to vote is a sad indication of their widespread rejection of that dream as bogus.

Meanwhile, the Pentagon and the corporations it serves continue to develop their weapons to suppress any attempt at a popular uprising. For they know that the current situation cannot prevail forever. And they intend to be ready.

The question is: will the people be ready?

*note: The Guardian is the weekly newspaper of the Communist Party of Australia. You can find the original article on their website here.