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Democracy and the Bourgeois State are two constant enemies of the Proletariat

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The nature of the uprisings that have been taking place during the last few months in the area stretching from the Maghreb to the Arabian Peninsula, the way they have been covered in the international media and the “imitation effect” that has been witnessed in several countries reveal the degree of manipulation and mystification by which, thanks to the work of its aides and lackeys, the ruling ideology still manages to curb and trick the exploited proletarian class, by deluding and paralyzing it.

First let us get things clear.  As we have demonstrated in several articles, what happened in the Maghreb and surrounding areas was initially a wave of proletarian uprising, ridden and gradually deviated and channelled towards the dead-end of democratic claims by sectors of the bourgeoisie and petit-bourgeoisie which, faced with the persisting economic crisis, took advantage of this to try and make its own “class needs” felt:  intolerance for the rigid structures of the “old” régimes and a demand for more freedom of action by the former (bourgeoisie), the anxiety of keeping afloat and pleas to be saved by the “powers that be” (the state unions, the army) by the latter (petit-bourgeoisie), fearful of growing proletarization.  The whole of the technical-linguistic “armoury” ranged as symbol and privileged vehicle of these claims (the media, the social networks, the “coloured squares”, the “Arab spring”, the “jasmines”, the orange movement, etc. etc.) explicitly declares, in its substantially inconclusive nature and declared inter-classism (and thus its own vulnerability and lack of substance in the face of reactions by the “old” as well as the “new” régimes), the bourgeois and petit-bourgeois nature of the hat skilfully popped onto the head of a movement arising from a proletarian rebellion driven by the needs of day-to-day survival.

 

Repercussions on an infinitely smaller scale were soon to be seen on the northern shores of the Mediterranean, too:  in Spain, for example, with the “indignados” movement , but also in France and, in an even more miserable form, in Italy, where the recent elections have allowed all of the petit-bourgeois mud accumulated over decades at the bottom of the inter-classist swamp to rise to the surface.

At the centre of these claims were mostly the “appeal to democracy” and the “appeal to the State”: and it is right there that the depths of the abyss that has been dug over almost ninety years of counter-revolution can be measured.

We communists have always been quite clear as to the nature and role of both “democracy” and the “bourgeois State”.  The former is merely the form that class domination takes: whilst exalting the “power of the people” (this is the meaning of “democracy” - and it is no coincidence that in ancient Greece where it first came into being, helots and slaves were excluded from the “people”), no attention is paid to the fact that, different classes with opposing interests agitate within this undifferentiated “people”, and that they are therefore not all “equal” in terms of living and working conditions and therefore  in terms of truly understanding the dynamics of collective living and making themselves heard.  Not only this: the very interests of the dominion by the ruling class over the past century have ended up by draining all those exquisitely bourgeois claims of any real significance, apart from becoming a sort of bait: the imperialist transformation of capitalist society has produced profound and permanent changes in the way power is managed, centralizing it, exasperating its repressive nature, emptying any apparently democratic container (parliament, and then all the various forms of so-called “participation” – right up to the condominium meeting!) of any reality or significance.  Already in 1917, backed by the whole of Marx’s and Engels’ analysis of the forms of capital’s dominion, Lenin reminded proletarians all over the world that “the democratic republic is the best possible packaging for capitalism,” and “for this reason capital, after having taken possession […] of this packaging – which is the best – bases its power on such strong, such safe foundations, that no change, either in people or institutions or parties in the area of the democratic bourgeois republic can shake it”, and finally that “universal suffrage [is] a tool of bourgeois dominion” (State and Revolution, Chap. 1).

The events that followed the Second World War have merely confirmed (and, indeed, consolidated) this evaluation: the dictatorial régime of capital, once it no longer needed to reveal itself as brutal and explicit in its dominion, returned to democratic forms, giving proletarians the illusion that, thanks to the latter and through them, their conditions would steadily improve, making revolutionary uprisings useless.  Yet, in actual fact, the fascist dominion over capital in its imperial phase was maintained and, indeed, has grown monstrously: economic-financial centralization and concentration, the preponderance of the executive powers, profound and widespread militarization of society, the positioning of union organizations in the state mechanism, the creation of various Leviathans (those totalitarian nation-states over which bourgeois intellectuals waste endless words without managing to draw the due conclusions!), obsessive recourse to the polls, to the same extent that any democratic process is emptied of its real value and significance, the repression of any sign of  intolerance by the exploited class, the insistence on nationalist and patriotic rhetoric…

The same arguments apply to the “appeal to the State”, without any specification as to what characterizes it.  Just as “democracy” has become the one supreme value, so the State – which for us communists is the armed wing of bourgeois power, and a faithful husband to Madame Democracy – has become an … impartial organism, a good father, strict when necessary, but reassuring in times of crisis, to be turned to for help and rescue.  Once again Lenin, and again following the analyses of Marx and Engels, demonstrated that instead “the State is the organ of class dominion, an organ for the oppression of one class by another; it is the creation of an ‘order’ that legalizes and consolidates this oppression, moderating the class conflict,” – and, when it is no longer possible to moderate it, intervenes with all the “wisdom” of its own laws and its own magistrates (another class organism, and not neutral and impartial as the bourgeoisie and petit-bourgeoisie would have us believe) and with all the violence of its own legal and illegal organs of repression.

For entire hordes of petit-bourgeois terrorized by the economic crisis and the very real prospect of precipitating (horror of horrors!) down amongst the “people of the abyss”, “democracy” and “State” are the two things that still have to be saved – the miserable, patched-up lifebelts that they scramble to inflate constantly by means of their decent feelings, cheap commonplaces and rhetoric, revealing their characteristic inability to come up with any political project that does not rely on keeping this feeble and poisonous mode of production on its feet.

The proletarians who, perhaps without fully realizing it, taste the delights of bourgeois dominion in all its various forms and through all its means of repression, should be very careful: their slogan should not be “more democracy and more State”, but a refusal to be deluded and curbed by the former and open struggle against the latter.

 

International Communist Party

("Il programma comunista", n°4, luglio-agosto 2011)

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