Since the development of Scientific Socialism by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, a very important topic was the question of the nature of the dictatorship of the proletariat. Let's remember here what is said in the letter to Joseph Weydemeyer, dated March 5, 1852, where Karl Marx explains his contribution in the following manner :
“And now as to myself, no credit is due to me for discovering the existence of classes in modern society or the struggle between them. Long before me, bourgeois historians had described the historical development of this struggle between the classes, as had bourgeois economists their economic anatomy.
My own contribution was (1) to show that the existence of classes is merely bound up with certain historical phases in the development of production; (2) that the class struggle necessarily leads to the dictatorship of the proletariat; [and] (3) that this dictatorship, itself, constitutes no more than a transition to the abolition of all classes and to a classless society.”
Nevertheless, it was only with the Commune of Paris, in 1871, that Karl Marx was able to explain the dictatorship of the the proletariat in a much better way, i.e. in a correct manner, as general transition between capitalism and communism.
The dictatorship of the proletariat was not only a short period of administrative measures; it was a mode of production. In his Critique of the Gotha Programme of the German Social-Democracy, in 1875, Karl Marx stresses the following point :
“Between capitalist and communist society there lies the period of the revolutionary transformation of the one into the other.
Corresponding to this is also a political transition period in which the state can be nothing but the revolutionary dictatorship of the proletariat.”
This question is at the very core of the ideology elaborated by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels. Without a proper understanding of it, Revisionism and capitulation are the unavoidable consequences.
The reason for this comes from the fact that the question of power is at the very heart of class struggle; to make compromises on this topic leads to the refusal of the antagonistic nature of classes in a given mode of production and therefore to the capitulation before the ruling classes, which can be considered as “friend”, “partner”, etc.
Reformism born from the black lines of Social-democracy (first with Eduard Bernstein, then with Karl Kautsky) and the Communist movement (with Nikita Khrushchev) supported precisely this “pacific way” to Socialism.
Contrary to this reformism (and to revisionism), Scientific Socialism sees the dictatorship of the proletariat as the necessary historical task and not only must this task be accepted, but it must be also understood with all its aspects, its meaning, its consequences.
And we say that, through the qualitative leaps that have been made with Marxism, Leninism and then Maoism, we are now able to understand in a complete manner this question of the nature of the state of the dictatorship of the proletariat.
We mean by that that the dictatorship of the proletariat consists not only in the revolution and the overthrow of the bourgeoisie: it also means the building of Socialism, its generalization at all levels which necessitates different Cultural Revolutions to make disappear what was called in China the “Four Olds” : old customs, old culture, old habits, old ideas.
As the masses are mobilized to master dialectical materialism as the proletarian vision of the world, to transform reality according the democratic and socialist values, it means that they are in a process of war, not only on the military level, but also on the economical, cultural, ideological levels.
This is the basic lesson of the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution in China.
It means that socialism is in itself the extension of the process of revolution that begun against the ruling classes; it is a general process which begins within the revolutionary process itself in a situation where the reaction still dominates and finishes only when Communism can triumph all over the world.
That is why we say that Socialism is the dictatorship of the proletariat, which is in fact the People's War. That is why the genuine Communists should adopt the principle : “People's War until Communism!”
Let's precise immediately the tactical and the strategical content of People's War. The basic point is to understand that People's War is the expression of the movement of reality, which is dialectical.
It means that the revolutionary process slowly grows, in an unavoidable manner, whereas the ancient become always weaker. Like Mao Zedong said it:
“The socialist system will eventually replace the capitalist system; this is an objective law independent of man’s will. However much the reactionaries try to hold back the wheel of history, eventually revolution will take place and will inevitably triumph.”
On the level of tactics, it means that the first task is to avoid the campaigns of encirclement and suppression made by the enemy.
In the process of class struggle, the reaction tries to prevent the ideological synthesis, the political organization of a center, the spreading of the revolutionary positions and activities.
It aims to annihilate the revolutionary leadership, to isolate the Party, to suppress Dialectical Materialism.
The concept of leading Thought possesses here a central character, because it corresponds to a correct interpretation of the historical situation of the country, and therefore a correct evaluation of the relation between revolution and counter-revolution.
Because of this tactical situation which typifies the beginning of the revolutionary process, the first stage on the strategical level has to be called the strategical defense, often coming to a situation of strategical retreat to protect what has be conquered.
The revolutionary process needs to preserve itself of the hits of the enemy; it uses the guerrilla principles at all level to anchor itself in the history of the country. Contrary to what Ernesto Che Guevara thought, this step cannot be forced; any subjectivism at this level brings to the total failure.
The great danger, along with subjectivism, is of course corruption, the integration in the system trying to deviate, integrate and even use the revolutionary process to renew its institutions.
The strategical defense, even in a situation of retreat, means to build, to organize, to form a revolutionary leadership i.e. cadres, permitting the Party to weigh in the class struggles, to generalize the revolutionary struggle.
When a qualitative leap is made in the unfolding of the revolutionary activities, when the class struggle has come to a point where the Party can lead it in terms of confrontation with not only the bourgeoisie, but also the state, then comes the stage of the strategic equilibrium.
At this level of antagonism, the opposition of the two classes has appeared in an open manner before the masses; the flag of the battle for power is raised in the broaden masses. At the ideological, cultural, political levels, a real breakthrough has been made.
The dialectics between the Party and the working class begins to come to maturity; the activities of the broaden masses strengthen the revolutionary process. This stage tears literally the society in two, opening the civil war as battle for the state.
We stress here that it doesn't mean that the Party is built in an abstract manner, in two steps, an insurrection being produced after having accumulated enough forces.
In the Third International, there was unfortunately a strong tendency to aim the insurrection as an accumulation of technical military experiences and forces by the avant-garde. This mechanical point of view is as wrong as the anti-ideological guevarist perception of a Party born “under the fire”.
Both forget the masses, which are the real carrier of Socialism, of the People's War. Both forget that the revolutionary process needs the red line to move forward.
That's why when we say with Mao Zedong that :
“Every Communist must grasp the truth: Political power grows out of the barrel of a gun.”
We say also with Mao Zedong that :
“Our principle is that the Party commands the gun, and the gun must never be allowed to command the Party.”
The red army is the tool to triumph over the reactionary army, so that the ancient State apparatus is totally destroyed, leaving the place for the one built by the Communist Party, organizing society on a new basis, through the workers councils.
The masses are moving always more to a position of antagonism, of conflict with the state and the People's War organize always more these masses with the goal of taking power through revolutionary violence.
Each step of the revolutionary process always possesses in its core the total antagonism between the existing reactionary state and the new state being build along the revolutionary process, as New Democracy in the semi-colonial semi-feudal countries, as Socialism in the capitalist - imperialist countries.
The People's War is therefore not a pragmatic tactic where the masses are passive and should support a separated military structure in its struggle with the state; the People's War consists in the armed masses struggling strategically for taking the power – their power.
This is the revolutionary key to advance and it is necessary to understand that the dynamics of the revolution / counter-revolution conflict are very rich in situations and fluid in the balance of power.
At each stage of class struggle, the reaction tries to sterilize the antagonism, be it through repression, reformism, revisionism, the use of ultra-leftism as “fifth column”, the promotion of general “peace agreement” under international supervision, etc.
At any time, the reaction seeks to hinder the aggregation of the genuine revolutionary forces and to destroy antagonism.
This is why the People's War has a signification on the levels of politics, culture, ideology, armed struggle, economy, which are all the foundations of the state to build along the revolutionary process.
Gonzalo, as leader of the Communist Party of Peru, explains us therefore that the Party must “forge all militants as Communists, first and foremost, as fighters and as administrators”.
The goal of the People's War is to give birth to the sea of armed masses. The strategical offensive is precisely because of this the qualitative leap coming from the contradiction between from the first and the second stage, i.e. the strategical defense / retreat and the strategical equilibrium.
It is the decisive period where the Ancient is crushed, its State apparatus annihilated, the New taking all the power, avoiding restoration through cultural revolutions, the sea of armed masses under the banner of Dialectical Materialism being the main tool to succeed in the construction of socialism and the opening of the era of Communism.
To build the new state is so our goal and this construction is the key of the revolutionary process : the reactionary, ancient state want to crush it, we want to make it stronger.