Proletarian dictatorship as theory and practice

In the fifth part of his series of articles Jack Conrad discusses the contradictory impact of the October Revolution

When it comes to the 'dictatorship of the proletariat', there appears to be two Lenins. The first Lenin is at pains to stress that, far from socialism and the dictatorship of the proletariat being incompatible with democracy, the opposite is true.

Socialism means the "full development of democracy: ie, the genuinely equal and genuinely universal participation of the entire mass of the population in all state affairs and in the complex problems of abolishing capitalism" (VI Lenin CW Vol 23, Moscow 1977, p25).

This Lenin bears a close resemblance to the Marx-Engels position - that the dictatorship of the proletariat is the rule of the working class. Nothing more. Yet simultaneously - as detailed in the last article of this series - there is the other Lenin (see Weekly Worker October 10).

He writes of dictatorship in the lurid terms of violence, denial of rights and government by the revolutionary elite: ie, the party. Shades of Auguste Blanqui and his educative dictatorship of the revolutionary minority. What happened after the toppling of the provisional government and the assumption of supreme power by the soviets? That is a vast historical subject which lies outside the narrow limits of these articles. Our remit is the dictatorship of the proletariat.

Suffice to say, the democratic Lenin is eclipsed by the Lenin who advocates rule by the revolutionary party. Yet, though we have documented the many elitist germs in Lenin's political method and programme, appallingly adverse objective circumstances were by far the main determinant which saw the October Revolution eventually produce the Stalinite cancer of the 1920s.

The October Revolution is typically dismissed as a Bolshevik coup by bourgeois apologists and academic servants. But, though the storming of the Winter Palace and other key sites in Petrograd and Moscow was carried out by small detachments of red guards and a few select, pro-communist army units, the fact of the matter is that they acted on behalf - in anticipation - of the working class.

This is proved by the second all-Russian congress of soviets of workers' and soldiers' deputies. Convened in the immediate aftermath of the overthrow and arrest of the provisional government, with the smell of cordite still hanging in the air, the congress had a slim Bolshevik majority - elected by proportional representation, its first executive consisted of 14 Bolsheviks, seven Socialist Revolutionaries, three Mensheviks and one Internationalist (Maxim Gorky's group).

What of Russia's peasant majority? After some passionate argument the peasant soviet - meeting straight after - voted to support the newly established revolutionary government of Bolsheviks and Left Socialist Revolutionaries. So, while in its initial form the revolution corresponds to that of a coup, its content was profoundly popular and democratic.

Throughout Russia there was a huge upsurge of initiative, debate and measures of control from below. By decree army officers were subject to election and recall. Caste privileges and saluting were abolished.

At the urging of the soviet government peasants seized the land. Expropriated aristocratic landlords and their flunkies and hangers-on fled into exile. The white migration. Industrial workplaces were run according to the principles of need, not profit. Managers were encouraged to stay in their posts - if they were willing to accept workers' control over hiring, firing, etc. Oppressed nationalities, women and muslims all benefited greatly too.

Equality was the watchword of the revolution. For the exploiting classes globally the October Revolution was an unmitigated disaster. France - Europe's banker - lost a fortune. Tsarist debts were repudiated. Trotsky demanded peace without annexations or reparations. World War I was exposed as being predatory and imperialist on both sides.

Strikes, demonstrations and elements of duel power broke out across Europe. Crowns fell and empires disintegrated. The mole had once again surfaced. In Russia the working class showed the world that it was quite capable of running society. Advanced sections rallied to emulate the Russian example.

Communist parties were formed and took a lead in the burgeoning class struggle. Face to face with its nemesis, capitalism turned in desperation to social democracy on the one hand and on the other fascism. The indirect results of the October Revolution are still with us in the 21st century: eg, the remaining - actually still substantial social democratic concessions granted to the working class - the price paid by the bourgeoisie for delaying socialism.

The most important consequence of the October Revolution, however, is historical-cultural - all classes are keenly aware that capitalism is mortal because in 1917 it was overthrown by a self-liberating working class. That is a tangible factor in today's politics. History must be epochically divided into pre-October and post-October. Revolutionary defence Needless to say, despite its epochal significance, the revolution in Russia was immediately put on the defensive.

A brief sketch. Alexander Kerensky throws in his lot with the forces of naked counterrevolution and the white armies of Kornilov, Denkin and Wrangel. Right Socialist Revolutionaries and right Mensheviks side with him. Left Socialist Revolutionaries and left Mensheviks wobble and vacillate. With pre-SR split candidates still in place and the division between town and country vastly exacerbated by the disruptions caused by war and revolution, elections to the constituent assembly produce a Right SR majority.

The communists won nearly a third of the votes. Lenin expected a very different, much better, result. With the support of the Left SRs the communists disperse the constituent assembly in the name of soviet power. There is no plan for new elections and a recall. Things now proceed by improvisation. The unstable but necessary dualism in the Bolshevik's programme is practically resolved in favour of the soviets.

After the signing of the Best-Litovsk treaty with imperial Germany the Left SRs break from the soviet government. Attempts are made by them to assassinate Lenin and other leaders. The capitalist powers redouble their efforts to exterminate the red contagion. A trade embargo is imposed. Fourteen armies of intervention are dispatched - from Britain, Poland, Czechoslovakia, the US, Japan, etc.

To win the civil war the soviet government is forced to enact all manner of emergency measures. White terror is answered with red terror. The cream of the working class - the politically educated generation - is mobilised into the Red Army. One-man management becomes the norm in the factories. Experts and tsarist officers are recruited.

Production declines due to shortage of raw materials and subordination of industry to the requirements of the army. Working class numbers shrink dramatically. Soviets wither, as the state and party machine expands. To feed the cities grain is forcibly requisitioned from the peasantry. Military methods and lines of command replace those of democracy and persuasion. Corruption flourishes, along with those who wheedle their way into the Communist Party for reasons of self-advantage.

Thus it happens. Under these gigantic pressures principles and concepts buckle and bend completely out of shape. The dictatorship of the proletariat progressively ceases to have anything to do with the rule of the working class. Instead the term is used to justify the emergency measures of the Soviet state and Soviet realities. A dying Lenin forlornly talks of the working class nature of the regime resting tentatively on the political consciousness of the few thousand cadre in the leadership of the Communist Party.

Stalin was already ensconced as general secretary and would soon publish his notorious Foundations of Leninism. In 1928 he announces the 'second revolution'. Hal Draper makes two supplementary points concerning this period. Firstly, Lenin and the other communist leaders thought in terms of either-or. Either the October Revolution would trigger other revolutions in Europe and then the world or they would go down to the sort of defeat suffered by the Paris Commune in 1871.

They did not envisage the revolution being blunted, left isolated and surviving militarily. For Marxists it is ABC that there can be no socialism in one country. Overcoming capital is a universal task. Beginning at the national level, it must quickly reach to the global or fall to the outside forces of counterrevolution. Draper says that Marxist theory was confirmed. Except for one detail - the counterrevolution "came from inside the ruling party, which was not overthrown but which, rather, overthrew the workers' state".

One does not have to agree with Draper's description of the Soviet Union as being bureaucratic collectivism - more a label than a theory - but he is certainly right to call Stalin's regime "internal counterrevolution" (H Draper The 'dictatorship of the proletariat' from Marx to Lenin New York 1987, p99).

Secondly, Draper is quite prepared to admit that exceptional circumstances necessitate exceptional measures and that in the process of fighting against counterrevolution certain principles might be temporarily distorted or even overridden. All principles have an elasticity. Hence in the alternative universe where the German revolution occurs in 1918 or 1919 it is to be expected that in Russia the distortions will be painlessly overcome. Russia plus Germany equals revolution in Europe. With the pressure taken off by victory in Germany, principles snap back into their original shape.

Draper uses the analogy of a steel wire. Of course, the German revolution failed. Hence the pressures grow greater and greater. Draper's wire did not break, but was pulled out of shape to such an extent that the distortions become the norm and a system in their own right, to be copied and mimicked universally. Control from above is left as a permanent feature and lauded as a principle. Democracy is emptied of all content.

Many other examples can be cited. Eg, the one-party state, censorship and the banning of factions by the 10th Congress in 1921 - the Socialist Workers Party still refuses to allow open debate or permit the existence of permanent factions within its fast-entry, fast-exit ranks. Draper traces the crucial stages, or moments, whereby the dictatorship of the proletariat metamorphoses into the dictatorship of the party.

The first "ominous incident" cited is the expulsion of the party's trade union leader, A Lozovsky (a former member of Trotsky's group, the Mezhralontsy). There was a clash over relations between the Soviet government and the trade unions at the first All-Russian Congress of Trade Unions in January 1918. On behalf of the Bolsheviks, Gregori Zinoviev argued that the principle of the independence of the trade unions was no longer valid. Under conditions of soviet power it could only mean the right to "support saboteurs" (quoted in EH Carr The Bolshevik Revolution Vol 2, Harmondsworth 1976, p110).

The Mensheviks - represented by Martov and Maisky - continued to uphold the independence of trade unions. Russia could aspire to nothing other than a bourgeois democratic revolution: ipso facto trade unions should continue in their customary fashion. Lozovsky carefully plied a middle path. In terms of the future the trade unions will "inevitably be transformed into organs of the socialist state", but meanwhile should keep a certain independence in what is an alliance with the state.

Lenin appears to have gone ballistic. He hastily drafted a central committee resolution demanding Lozovsky's instant expulsion. The swine had to be expelled: "He expressed opinions which radically diverge from those of the party and the revolutionary proletariat in general, but coincide on all major points with the petty bourgeois negation of the dictatorship of the proletariat as an essential phase in the transition to socialism" (VI Lenin CW Vol 42, Moscow 1977, p49).

Opinions! Backwardness! Lozovsky was to be expelled because of an "inability to quickly grasp the significance of the historic upheaval that was taking place with such extraordinary speed". Work with such a person is impossible in a "single party". Lozovsky must be expelled because he refused to accept that trade unions have a "duty" to "take upon themselves state functions". That is necessary under the "dictatorship of the proletariat", which ruthlessly suppresses the exploiters and "sticks at no bourgeois democratic formulas" (ibid p50).

Effectively the 'dictatorship of the proletariat' had been turned into an ideological whip to force opponents into line. A bad precedent. The real reason for his expulsion is not hard to fathom though. Lozovsky had won the trade union congress - which had a clear Bolshevik majority - to maintain their separation from the organs of the state. Confronted by a precipitative economic collapse, such 'petty bourgeois' laxness was intolerable for Lenin. Ironic.

He himself adopted a position virtually indistinguishable from Lozovsky's in 1920 in his titanic controversy with Trotsky and Bukharin over the trade unions. A footnote: EH Carr reports that, though Lozovsky either resigned from the party or was expelled, he quickly gained readmission. Lenin's definition of the 'dictatorship of the proletariat' undergoes a rapid evolution - degeneration - in this period. He not only equates the term with "a state of simmering war" and "military measures of struggle against the enemies of the proletariat" (VI Lenin CW Vol 26, Moscow 1977, p401).

Worse, much worse, at the third all-Russian congress of soviets Lenin flatly counterposes, in his concluding speech, dictatorship (by which Marx-Engels simply mean 'rule') to democracy: "One of the objectors [on the right] declared that we had favoured the dictatorship of democracy, that we had recognised the rule of democracy. That declaration was so absurd, so utterly meaningless, that it is merely a collection of words. It is just like saying 'iron snow', or something similar ... Those who talk so much about the dictatorship of democracy merely utter meaningless, absurd phrases which indicate neither economic knowledge nor political understanding" (VI Lenin CW Vol 26, Moscow 1977, p437).

It would seem that the 'objector' from the right was a Left SR. This party was deploying the slogan 'dictatorship of democracy' against the Bolsheviks. Lenin accused them of having "forgotten all that they in vain call 'Marxism'" and not having "learned anything".

But did not Lenin remember his own famous formula: the revolutionary democratic dictatorship of the proletariat and peasantry? Was that just like saying "iron snow"? Was that utterly "meaningless", an "absurd phrase"? Lenin digs himself deeper into the hole he has himself made. He argues that democracy was merely a means to an end and can now presumably be discarded: "Until the revolution transcended the limits of the bourgeois system, we were for democracy; but as soon as we saw the first signs of socialism in the progress of the revolution, we took a firm and resolute stand for the dictatorship of the proletariat."

"Democracy," Lenin announces, "is a form of the bourgeois state championed by all the traitors to genuine socialism." He blithely carries on by defining democracy as "formal parliamentarianism", which in reality is a "cruel mockery", and says that "the concept of anarchism was finally assuming concrete features" (ibid p474).

Enough said. The whole thing is a mess. Draper describes Lenin's speech as theoretically inept and perhaps the product of a sleepless night. But the underlying purpose is clear. The Bolsheviks were determined to use every means at their disposal to win the civil war and destroy all opposition. Lenin can be read elsewhere 'correcting' his crude counterposition of democracy to dictatorship.

Nevertheless, the line of march is clear. Objective conditions in Russia pushed, encouraged and then compelled the Bolsheviks to twist, deform and besmirch their principles to the point where eventually - though old, familiar words remain - the content becomes virtually unrecognisable. Clearly the Lenin who used the term 'dictatorship' in conjunction with democracy was being replaced by the Lenin who used 'dictatorship' in its modern and essentially bourgeois sense: the crushing of opponents and curbs on, or even denials of, democracy.

Draper says that in this way Lenin and other Bolshevik spokespersons who took part in this theoretical degeneration facilitated, though certainly did not cause, the "societal counterrevolution represented by Stalin" (H Draper The 'dictatorship of the proletariat' from Marx to Lenin New York 1987, p105).

Many 'dictatorships'

Hal Draper comprehensively illustrates how during the world revolutionary upheaval of 1917-23 'dictatorship of the proletariat' became a phrase on the lips of both opponents and partisans of revolution in general and the Russian Revolution in particular. As everyone was told that the dictatorship of the proletariat had been established in Russia, it was denounced or cheered accordingly.

Comintern upheld the phrase as a fiery call for revolution and the ruthless suppression of the enemies of the working class. At the same time the yellow press could gleefully denounce the countless alleged crimes of the godless reds in Russia as stemming directly from the dictatorship advocated by Marx. The workers' movement divided along these lines. But not neatly.

In Italy, France and Hungary elements of the right were quite prepared to admit the need for the dictatorship of the proletariat as an emergency measure. Such was the wonderful tyranny exerted upon them from the empowered and excited masses. Even in Britain the Labour Party's Ramsay MacDonald spoke enthusiastically in favour of workers' and soldiers' soviets. However, the purpose lay not in inspiring.

The intention was to lull workers, to hold them back and quieten things down. So in Austria Otto Bauer breezily admitted that the dictatorship of the proletariat - by which he meant rule by the social democratic party - was perfectly feasible. He declines to paint a florid picture of the dictatorship of the proletariat posing a deadly threat to a supposedly much broader bourgeois democracy.

Instead Bauer maintained that a revolution in Austria would encourage the Entente powers to invade the country and kill the revolution along with as many people as possible. "The dictatorship of the proletariat," concluded Bauer, "would have ended with the dictatorship of foreign commanders" (quoted in H Draper The 'dictatorship of the proletariat' from Marx to Lenin New York 1987, p105).

Having attempt to frighten them, Bauer reassures the workers that despite Austria remaining capitalist the overthrow of the monarchy had planted the "nuclei of the socialist mode of production", which only needs to be gradually nurtured in order to "undermine the domination of capital and eventually to abolish it". The historian Martin Kitchen writes that such "verbal radicalism" plus "practical reformism" - votes for women, measures of nationalisation, social housing - served to "assuage the working class and protect the bourgeoisie" (M Kitchen The coming of Austrian fascism London 1980, pp12,25).

The same pattern is repeated in Germany. The Social Democratic Party had split into two during the war. Alongside the SDP majority came into existence the Independent Socialist Democratic Party - a veritable melange, it included in its ranks figures as diverse as Eduard Bernstein, Karl Kautsky and Rosa Luxemburg. Before the revolution of November 1918 only Luxemburg's comrades in the Spartacus League wing of the ISDP stood for workers' councils and a "socialist dictatorship of the proletariat".

Afterwards both phrases were taken up the leadership itself. However, as with Bauer in Austria, the conversion had a twofold purpose - to display one's gaudy revolutionary credentials, all the while damping down the revolution. At the ISDP's March 1919 congress clauses were introduced into the programme which effectively obscured or blunted the aim of working class rule. The up and running system of workers' council was tied into, and made dependent on, the hypothetical republican parliament.

Germany had Räte (councils) of workers and soldiers and the rump 1914 Reichstag of the kaiser empire. Everything was done to appear to be radical, while reconciling the working class to a still non-existent republican parliament and non-existent republican parliamentary representation.

And, of course, once the revolutionary wave safely subsided, the compromise was thrown aside in favour of the Weimar parliament - which was in fact built on the ashes of the workers' and soldiers' councils. Such was the pressure from below that even the SDP majority momentarily embraced the council system. Everyone cried out for socialism. Yet, when the Independents proposed an all-socialist government, the SDP majorityists balked at the idea.

Their democratic principles forbade them from taking such a course - not that that had stopped them from appointing themselves to government positions, proclaiming the end of the monarchy from a balcony without consulting anyone or entering into counterrevolutionary pacts with army generals. What the SDP majority actually balked at, says Draper, was "touching the capitalist system" and bringing it to an end (H Draper The 'dictatorship of the proletariat' from Marx to Lenin New York 1987, p112).

Luxemburg We have already had cause to favourably comment upon Luxemburg's understanding of the dictatorship of the proletariat (see Weekly Worker October 3). Almost uniquely she appears to hold views consistently in line with Marx-Engels: ie, that dictatorship should be read to mean 'rule' - not violence, suppression or denial of democratic rights.

Imprisoned during the war, and therefore kept partially uninformed of particular details of momentous events, she was released only by the German November revolution - after which she went on to help found the Communist Party of Germany. Yet even from her prison cell Luxemburg was able to make some penetrating comments, as can be seen in her incomplete essay The Russian Revolution.

She is surely wrong on a couple of issues. The distribution of the large estates to the peasantry was mistaken in her opinion - Luxemburg remained attached to the old Bolshevik programme of land nationalisation and keeping the large estates intact. To use a phrase, she underestimated the importance of the peasant revolution and the necessity for sweeping concessions.

Equally wrong were her comments on the Bolshevik practice of proclaiming the right of nations in the former Russian empire to self-determination. She dismissed self-determination as impossible under capitalism and irrelevant under socialism. Was unity to be voluntary or involuntary? Luxemburg simply wishes away the problem.

Nevertheless, Draper comments that her viewpoint was that of a sympathetic friend and her warnings were those of a militant partisan who with "20-20 hindsight" has been "largely vindicated" (H Draper The 'dictatorship of the proletariat' from Marx to Lenin New York 1987, p114).

Luxemburg praised the Russian Revolution. Lenin and Trotsky had saved the honour of socialism - discredited and prostituted by official social democracy. No one should expect everything to be done perfectly. The Russian Revolution was the world's first experiment in a workers' state (leaving aside the 1871 Paris Commune).

The alternative in Russia was the victory of counterrevolution or the revolution - Denkin or Lenin. Moreover, she emphasised that the Bolsheviks were perfectly right to set as their goal not the "safeguarding of bourgeois democracy, but a dictatorship of the proletariat for socialism" (quoted in H Draper The 'dictatorship of the proletariat' from Marx to Lenin New York 1987, p114).

Despite that, Luxemburg accurately targets shortcoming when it came to democracy - not only in practice, but theory too. Writing in the autumn of 1918, she opposes the over-concentration of power in the top ranks of the party. While the masses still have room for manoeuvre and initiative in their soviets, the negative line of development is clear to any objective observer.

Compared with the democracy that exists in the capitalist countries, Russia was far more democratic for the working class. Yet the Bolshevik leadership were intent on making virtue out of necessity. Like the right wing of social democracy they counterposed democracy and dictatorship. Democracy or dictatorship?

They arrive at "opposite" answers. The right opts for what is called bourgeois democracy; the Bolsheviks for dictatorship - but in the Blanquist sense of the rule of the revolutionary minority. Hence the Bolsheviks crudely turn the right social democratic opposition to dictatorship inside out.

Luxemburg's dialectical grasp of bourgeois democracy is in contrast masterful: "We have always distinguished the social kernel from the political form of bourgeois democracy; we have always exposed the bitter kernel of social inequality and lack of freedom under the sweet shell of formal equality and freedom - not in order to reject the latter, but to spur the working class not to be satisfied with the shell, but rather to conquer political power and fill it with a new social content. It is the historic task of the proletariat, once it has attained power, to create socialist democracy in place of bourgeois democracy, not to do away with democracy altogether" (quoted in P Frölich Rosa Luxemburg: her life and work New York 1972, p249).

Luxemburg therefore favours not restrictions on democracy, but its broadening. Her democracy refers not to the routine of the New Labour versus Tory sort which dulls the mind and insults the intelligence, but the ongoing decision-making activity and self-administration of the masses. Socialism cannot be handed down from above.

Popular control is the essence of socialism. There must be the "most unlimited democracy and public opinion", not rule by terror which can only demoralise. Yes, armed counterrevolution must be crushed. Sabotage punished. But, like ourselves, Luxemburg opposes any suppression of criticism, even bourgeois criticism. The best way to counteract tendencies towards bureaucratism is unrestricted criticism. A free press, the right to demonstrate and assemble and permanent public control are vital.

Famously she announces: "Freedom for supporters of the government only, for members of one party only - no matter how numerous they might be - is no freedom at all. Freedom is always freedom for those who think differently. Not because of any fanaticism about 'justice', but because all that is instructive, wholesome, and purifying in political freedom depends on this essential characteristic, and 'freedom' effectively loses all meaning once it becomes a privilege" (quoted in P Frölich Rosa Luxemburg: her life and work New York 1972, p249).

Luxemburg describes the consequences the denial of democracy will inevitably have: "Public life gradually falls asleep. A few dozen party leaders with inexhaustible energy and boundless idealism direct and rule. Among these, a dozen outstanding minds manage things in reality, and an elite of the working class is summoned to meetings from time to time so that they can applaud the speeches of leaders, and give unanimous approval to proposed resolutions. Thus at bottom a cliquish set-up - a dictatorship of a handful of politicians: ie, a dictatorship in the bourgeois sense of Jacobin rule ... every long-lasting regime based on martial law leads without fail to arbitrariness, and all arbitrary power tends to deprave society" (quoted in P Frölich Rosa Luxemburg: her life and work New York 1972, p249).

So for Luxemburg the dictatorship of the proletariat can only be the work of a class, not a tightly knit leading minority. Socialist democracy does not come as a reward to good, reliable people. Socialist democracy begins simultaneously with the overthrow of the bourgeois class and the realisation of socialism.

Socialism is the rule of the working class and the beginning of the transition to communism. Although Luxemburg warned of the danger that the Russian leaders were creating, her overriding emphasis is on defending them and urging an outside solution.

The Bolsheviks confronted enormous odds stacked against them. Simply to hang on to power they had been forced to restrict the freedoms and the democratic activity of the masses. No doubt if they could have proceeded without the terrible sufferings imposed by World War I and German occupation, the wars of intervention, famine and all the attendant dire circumstances, things would have been very different.

But, as it was, the Bolsheviks had done everything possible under the objective conditions of which they had no choosing. They had captured state power, roused the peasants and posed the question of socialism by making it a practical reality. In "this sense", declared Luxemburg, "the future everywhere belongs to Bolshevism" (quoted in P Frölich Rosa Luxemburg: her life and work New York 1972, p251).

While many of Luxemburg's criticisms of the Bolsheviks are valid, her solutions do not rely on any internal correction because the fundamental problem is external. Bolshevik restrictions on democracy, terror and theoretical justifications pale into insignificance compared to the service they have performed for the cause of the proletariat and socialism. The prime blame for the distortions witnessed in Russia lies in Germany and with the official social democrats.

Though political power lay in their hands, they had not used it to make revolution. Having propped up kaiserdom, they were now propping up capitalism. She damned their hypocritical attacks on the Bolsheviks. The revolutionary front must be extended. As a propagandist Luxemburg both flowed with the popularity of the 'dictatorship of the proletariat' slogan in Germany and at the same time filled it with a definite democratic content.

She refuses to counterpose democracy and dictatorship. Hence in Die Rote Fahne (The Red Flag) we read the following: "It is not a question today of democracy or dictatorship. The question placed on the order of the day by history reads: bourgeois democracy or socialist democracy. For dictatorship of the proletariat is democracy in the socialist sense. Dictatorship of the proletariat does not mean bombs, putsches, riots, 'anarchy', as the agents of capitalist profit deliberately lie, but it is the utilisation of all political means of power to realise socialism and expropriate the capitalist class - in accordance with the revolutionary majority of the proletariat and by its will, hence in the spirit of socialist democracy" (quoted in H Draper The 'dictatorship of the proletariat' from Marx to Lenin New York 1987, p117).

The programme of the communists in Germany is informed by this profoundly democratic approach. Communists aim to "establish the political rule of the great mass of the working people, the dictatorship of the workers' and soldiers' councils" (quoted in H Draper The 'dictatorship of the proletariat' from Marx to Lenin New York 1987, p118). Yes, yes, yes "- rule equals dictatorship, the democratic dictatorship of the majority. Draper finishes his comments on Luxemburg with high praise indeed.

In her articles - which were, of course, an integral part of the campaign conducted by the Spartacist-communist group - we see "what was probably the one and only agitational campaign by a revolutionary Marxist based on the 'dictatorship of the proletariat' concept in Marx's sense" (H Draper The 'dictatorship of the proletariat' from Marx to Lenin New York 1987, p118).