From the Bourgeois to the Proletarian Revolution by Otto Ruhle


Under the dominion of the Roman Empire the economy had developed in Italy almost to the threshold of capitalism. But the military and political collapse of this world power meant at the same time as result and cause in one the end of the economic development. What followed was reversion to earlier primitive economic forms and centuries-long stagnation. Only the crusades brought back the impulse to new development. Conceived as raids which were to open up the orient with its treasures to the conquering pressure and avarice of western freebooters and adventurers, they introduced for the following period a chain of very successful trade connections, of which the North Italian states became the bases. Via Venice, Florence, Pisa, Genoa, the merchandise found its way on ancient army and trade routes to Nuremburg, Augsburg, Ulm, round from there out to the north and north-west, especially to be transported towards Flanders and Brabant. In connection with this grew up, in Italy first, an indigenous production of goods, which provided for exchange of commodities; the sudden impetus given to the money economy, led to the foundation of banks of exchange and to the concentration of finance capital in the hands of a few families. The springtime of modern capitalism set in.

Its full development was however interrupted and disturbed by the advance of the Turks in the Near East and the discovery of the sea route to the East Indies. The traffic with the orient was cut off; a total displacement of the trade routes occurred. The bulk of the commodity exchange between east and west was shifted from Italy to Portugal. The Italian states became poor and declined; their Renaissance culture perished; the attempts to attain national unification on the basis of economic unity, through the chaos of the struggles between patrician families and state republics, stopped in the early stages. As no real bourgeoisie, which had learned to recognise itself as a class in the modern sense, existed, it also stopped short of a centralised assertion of capitalist interests on a large scale, short of any independent economic and state establishment over the surrounding dependencies of aristocratic dynasties and city guilds, short of a bourgeois revolution, which would have brought about a fundamental break with the old order of things and set up a new economic and social system.

In Portugal and Spain capitalism shot up like a hot-house plant from the same soil, which was abundantly fertilised with the riches of newly discovered continents opened up to boundless exploitation. But the favourable economic situation found for itself no state power which would have developed from its political task and would have grasped the essence of the capitalist element. The Court, schooled and directed towards territorial internationalisation as a result of marriage, inheritance and conquest, saw itself, if it wished to safeguard its interests, bound to the sole international power of its time, the Catholic Church. This in turn perceived in the state power the surest defender of the faith, which was basically only the ideological armoured shield for its economic interests, anchored in feudalism. Thus Emperor and Pope, state power and church, were present in the Inquisition, which raged against the heretics whose unbelief only formed the pretext for the method of confiscation of goods, high fines, legalised robbery and systematic combat of the awakening bourgeois class, bearer of a new economic principle. The movement of the Communeros, in which the self-consciousness of Castilian towns had risen up, was smothered in blood; the hopeful blossoming of the textile industry ended in the chaos of a crisis from which it never recovered; as representatives of the early-capitalist epoch there remained behind only crowds of lumpen-proletariat, who populated an impoverished country, ruined towns and desolate wastelands. The strength of the bourgeois class, loaded suddenly with riches which it dissipated, but just as suddenly pushed into the abyss of poverty, had not found expression in a bourgeois revolution.

The maritime commerce which formed numerous bonds between south and north had established in Bruges and later in Antwerp large depots for the North and Baltic Sea shipping. Soon the Netherlands were interpenetrated with capitalism, central to the entirety of European trade and the great reference point of all nations. The bourgeoisie,, grown prosperous and conscious of its worth, held on to what it acquired and was determined to defend property and the right of property under all circumstances and against every danger. This danger came from Spain when Philip sent the dreaded Alba to the Netherlands in order to secure the continuation of the Spanish crown by plundering the capitalist riches. Under pressure of the danger, the Netherlands bourgeoisie welded itself into the compact unity of a class capable of resistance.

The bourgeois revolution in the Netherlands had no aggressive character. It is much more a heroic resistance struggle against an enemy power invading from outside, more a national defence than a social confrontation. But precisely in the awareness of common economic interests, in the alliance for national action occasioned by it, consisted an important factor for the consolidation of the forces whose sum total was capitalism. The bourgeois class of the Netherlands triumphed over the might of the Spaniards because it stood on the ground of a more developed and more viable economy,that's understood. But as it triumphed, the combination into a new national community was accomplished, and political freedom was proclaimed. The strong economic potency lived and developed with national and political vigour.

The shower of sparks from the Netherlands revolution had set fire to the decaying structure of the English feudal economy. The change to the capitalist economic method proceeded very swiftly; trade spread its net over the seas; domestic industry took up all the liberated energies of the impoverished peasantry; big trading and industrial centres with depots, warehouses and counting-houses, mills and banks, wharves and overseas companies were already growing up. And in the parliament of estates, the bourgeois class won an important position after the other classes.

For the first time in world history the Parliament in England became the arena for the fighting out of bourgeois-capitalist interests. Crown and money-bag, royal power and burghers' will, exploded at each other in the fiercest and most embittered quarrels. The king clung to prerogative and privileges, monopolies and tax-raising, highest power of command and Divine Right; the bourgeoisie with total energy and obstinacy stood up for freedom of trade and competition, security of property and fruit of enterprise, free play in energies, markets, profit. In order to break the reactionary power of the crown, the Parliament under Cromwell organised an army which, after it had destroyed the monarchy, at once set about securing private property through suppression of the Levellers, and winning in Ireland and Scotland a greater Britain for capital's need to expand. Even when the bourgeoisie, dependent on the support of the military, could not prevent the return of the monarchy, it divested it of all real power in affairs and questions of economic life and reduced its existence to the luxury of a decorative accessory, which it could accomplish nolens volens.

In the English revolution was demonstrated the entire strength and determination of the bourgeois class, already grown economically firmly rooted and politically independent, which smashes old traditions as soon as they become a hindrance to it, recognises no sentimentality, knows exactly what it wants and shrinks back from no step which its interests order it to take.

The most spectacular of all bourgeois revolutions the 'Great Revolution' took place in France. It is without equal in its elan, its class character and its historical import. The historiographers see in it the landmark for the beginning of the modern period, of the bourgeois epoch proper.

A general-staff of the most outstanding minds had ideologically prepared the revolution, which had become inevitable through the catastrophic breakdown of the feudal system under Louis XIV and his successors. Montesquieu's 'L'Esprit des Lois' provided the building-stone for the foundation of the later revolutionary constitutions; Rousseau in his 'Social Contract' sketched the picture of a new condition of society; the Encyclopaedists advocated with much wit and fervour the 'transformation of the general mode of thinking'; Voltaire destroyed the prestige of traditional authorities and propagated the new precepts of a natural morality; Sivyes established with cogent logic and stirring eloquence the political claims of the 'Third Estate'. And while the mass of petty bourgeois and workers did the rough work, while they stormed the Bastille, marched to Versailles, seized the Tuileries and dragged the king to the scaffold, the bourgeoisie, according to the intentions of their political leaders and intellectual mentors, built up the edifice of a new state, which was to come for them a comfortable residential palace; for the proletariat a hated militarily-secured fortress. All attempts to obtain for those cheated of the fruits of the revolution a voice within the new order were bloodily repulsed: Marat, the Herbertists, Danton and finally Ropespierre,the head of the Republic of Virtue having become inconvenient,fell by the wayside. 'The thieves have won!' cried Ropespierre on being arrested, in fact, the bourgeoisie, greedy for booty, came into power. The petty bourgeoisie were burdened with taxation beyond their means, the proletariat was refused the right of coalition. Freedom and equality of franchise disappeared under the brutal fraud of the Two-Chamber system. Baboeuf's desperate attempt to rescue the betrayed communism, even at the eleventh hour, ended on the scaffold. Instead Napoleon sprang from the bourgeoisie as the hero who was to bring them the garland of glory and material success from the heavens. They were going to produce, sell, earn, conquer the world market, rake in wealth. Capitalism was to triumph. Thus the Emperor Bonaparte became the latest and essential executor of the will to power, economically based and politically established, of the bourgeoisie.

The line of the bourgeois revolutions, which reached its high point in France, took a sudden downward turn in the German Revolution of 1848.

The capitalist development begun in the Middle Ages, which had received impetus and nourishment from the Eastern and Levantine trade of the North Italian towns and had radiated its ideological reflections in the Reformation, had slowly died away with the shifting of the trade routes and finally expired completely. Feudalism had struck roots again; with the Peasants' War and the Thirty Years' War the people had been so thoroughly bled that they bore the yoke of blackest reaction for years with dumb submission. Around 1800 the dominant form of manufacturing was still petty handicrafts. Where capitalism had gone over to production, it prolonged a miserable existence in domestic industry or in state manufactures under the police baton of mercantile regimentation. Not until Napoleon opened the eastern markets by force of arms to the acquisitiveness of his capitalist bosses, but especially when he decreed the continental blockade, did a current of fresh air enter the dull and narrow Prussian-German servants' hall. Soon machines were clattering, factories grew up, and in Rhineland, Saxony and Thuringia a great industry developed. The bourgeoisie began to awaken as a class and to announce its political demands. But seemingly everywhere crown and nobility as representatives of the feudal system stood obstructing its path. The call for a constitution which would suit the claims of the bourgeois class was answered by the Hohenzollerns with persecution, treachery and provocative scorn. Finally, the February Revolution in Paris in 1848 produced as a weak echo the German Revolution. The circumstance that the definitive impulse for a rising against obsolete conditions and privileges came from outside and found a bourgeoisie which, timid and politically innocent, had not acquired the determination of a revolutionary class, had as a consequence that the movement was not adequate to smashing the existing bases of the state and creating a unified state with republican forms in accordance with the interests of the ascending capitalist economy. The German bourgeoisie, achieving meagre success, showed itself content with half freedoms, lame concessions and rotten compromises. It abandoned the leadership of the revolution to a clique of confused and rival ideologists, while the pillars of the industrial development, frightened by the class goals vigorously placed on the agenda by the French proletariat, quickly fled back into the wide-open arms of the princely reaction. Indeed, then the June battle in Paris had shot down the fighting proletariat and the reaction breathed freely again, to raise its head more boldly than ever, in Germany even these meagre gains were again lost by the bourgeoisie. Political ambitions were renounced, people contented themselves with the business of profit-making and went on living in the old servility.

In the end it was Bismarck who helped the bourgeoisie towards its historic role by means of Prussian domestic power politics. On the way to a German unified state under Prussian hegemony, which offered the rapidly growing capitalism a large market and opened up new possibilities of development, he knocked Austria out of the running as a political competitor in 1866; in 1870-71, France as an economic one. With the right to vote in the Reichstag, he granted the bourgeoisie a political voice. At the head of the state he set a half-absolute empire, a symbol for the compromise arrived at between feudal power and bourgeoisie, crown and moneybag.

When Germany collapsed after four years of world war, the bourgeoisie, massively strengthened in the meantime, in desperation found the strength to make an abrupt end of the compromise which had become a danger to its dominance and existence. In the choice between throne and bank-vaults, it shortly decided with revolution for the latter; threw the Kaisers and Kings overboard, set up the republic, gave itself a new constitution and completed with the active assistance of the working class organised in parties and trade unions, the bourgeois revolution of 1848.

As the last in the line of the great bourgeois revolutions of Europe, the Russian Revolution followed.

Russian feudalism, an economic colossus of bearlike primitiveness and strength of resistance to which the tyranny of tsarism lent the political form, had experienced through the war with Japan a shock that immediately set free energies in which the need for political liberties and innovations of the classes committed to the capitalist economic mode found its expression. The desire of the bourgeoisie for a constitution was however at once extended and strengthened through the demand of the industrial proletariat for minimum wages, 8-hour day, protection of labour; until now never recorded in the bourgeois revolutions: the Russian Revolution had from the beginning a strong proletarian-socialist strand. Certainly in earlier uprisings greater and smaller sections of the working class had also joined in the struggle and shed blood: but they had always been only appendages and following-troops of the bourgeois class. Even in the German revolution of 1848 the March fighters in Berlin had fallen as plain, mostly unknown workers, not as conscious proletarians and class combatants. In Russia on the other hand the proletarians among the social-democrats, cut off for the first time from the political part played by the bourgeoisie, came on to the stage of history with their own revolutionary demands and aims. Certainly the first phase, starting from the march of the petitioning masses to the Winter Palace under the leadership of the priest Gapon, until the decreeing of the October Manifesto, still took the typical course of all bourgeois revolutions, which are concerned with liberal goals. But already in the next phase the bourgeois-liberal voices,thin and timorous enough given the Russian reaction's hardness of hearing, got lost in the roaring gale of the mass demands of proletarian deprived of rights, and bloodily tortured, impoverished and neglected peasants. Even if the strongly rooted counter-revolution might succeed in snatching away again from the bourgeois element the first parliamentary and legal concessions, and stifling the revolutionary outcry of the masses with bloody executions and behind prison walls, it still gained by that only a respite, but no rescue. Indeed, on the contrary, the forcibly dammed-up strength of the revolution erupted, after three years of world war loosened the chains, in an explosion of such power that the whole system of tsarism was scattered like dust and left no more trace behind. The thin voice of the Russian bourgeoisie was certainly aptly accompanied by a weak energy: it was not capable of fulfilling its historical task. Then the proletariat put its shoulder to the wheel and seized government power for itself. It concluded peace, proclaimed the dictatorship of the proletariat and set about causing the dancing star of socialism to rise out of the chaos of the sinking world of tsarism.

If in 1917 the imperialism of the Russian bourgeoisie had conquered, taken Constantinople and achieved all its war-aims, a bourgeois liberal epoch on the English, French and German model would have been instituted in Russia. But as it was, the world war had cut the ground from under the feet not only of the old feudal despotism but also of every capitalist bourgeois government that was at all on the cards. For foreign capital was chased out: domestic capital, anyway only moderately developed, was destroyed. The fiasco of Miliukov, Gutschkov, Kerensky was therefore inevitable. In the end there remained. to last out through everything to the conclusion of the war, only the proletariat as bearer of the state power and executor of the people's will.

But the proletariat stood under the political leadership of intellectuals who had been schooled in the spirit of west-European social democracy. They were socialists and wanted socialism. Now the seizure of state power in Russia seemed to them to offer the chance for the realisation of the socialist idea.

The surrounding world was faced with a sensation: the Russian Revolution, recently still an overdue, feeble bourgeois revolution, turned in an instant into a proletarian revolution. Beginning and end of the bourgeois revolution came together in one.

Was that reality or illusion?


It is the historical task of the bourgeois revolution to overcome the absolutism of the feudal era and to procure for capitalism, as the new economic system, legal recognition and social acceptance in the framework of the bourgeois-liberal state order.

In all countries with a formerly feudal economy and absolutist form of government the bourgeois revolution has fulfilled this task.

It never had the aim and function of infringing or even suspending the principle of the economic basis and the social order dependent on it, that is private property in the means of production. It only changed, for the time being, the class which exercised authority over the whole as the representative of this principle.

While in the feudal epoch the nobility forms this class, supported fundamentally by private property, holding dominion in the despotically administered patriarchal state, organised by estates with the monarch at its head, in the capitalist era the bourgeoisie as private possessor of goods and money takes over the government, which is established in the constitutional state with Parliament and Cabinet, at its most ideal in the form of the parliamentary republic.

The bourgeois revolution, everywhere it has manifested itself, brought the bourgeois class to the fore. This class was more or less conscious of its historical mission. It had also prepared the revolutionary movement, at least economically, often ideologically to. Under the pressure of unavoidable necessities resulting from the conflict of the old and new tendencies, it had finally become the leader of the revolutionary action and had won political power, in order to use it immediately after the victory for the erection of the bourgeois state and social order.

The success alone of the revolution, which consists in the creation of the capitalist economic order and the social order appropriate to it, determines it nature as a bourgeois revolution. The circumstances that proletarian strata also form a part, now smaller, now greater, of the revolutionary fighters, does not come into consideration in determining the historical nature of the revolution. Even when the proletariat is already formed as a class and marches in the revolution with its own political class aims perhaps indeed influences its development considerably or even controls nothing of the historical nature of the revolution is changed. The weak or strong proletarian admixture in a bourgeois revolution can slow down or accelerate, sometimes deflect or disturb, its completion; can temporarily obliterate or deform its face; can affect or sometimes endanger its success, but to the essence of the revolution, its socio-economic content, it can make no difference. Likewise in the bourgeois state and in the army the workers form the strongest contingent, they make up a large class grouping and yet no one will be tempted on this account to call the bourgeois state proletarian or to speak of a proletarian army. Even the Red Army of Soviet Russia, consisting solely of peasants and workers, is a military machine constructed on a bourgeois model and functioning according to the laws of bourgeois state policy, which only political demagogy, with the intention to deceive, can describe as a 'proletarian' army.

Where and whenever proletarian strata play a role in the bourgeois revolution, they always appear in the train of the bourgeois class, partly as paid mercenaries, partly as fellow-travellers, partly as political auxiliaries of uncertain tendency. They often form the rump, mostly the tail of the movement, never the head. The last is always with the merchants, bankers, professional politicians, lawyers, intellectuals, literati. Here the demands are formulated, the programme developed, the goals fixed, the statements given out. Here bourgeois policy is made. The historical face of the revolution receives its imprint from here outwards.

In the first bourgeois revolutions the proletariat could not yet figure at all as a class because up till then it was not developed as such. At first in England it began to mark itself off as a class from the main body of the bourgeoisie, combined in strong organisations. But it was still always closely intermingled with petty-bourgeois elements and its programmes never went beyond the radicalism of these sections. Thus the Levellers marched beside the left Puritan sects at the very front of the revolutionary forces, yet their whole attitude to the revolutionary problem stayed bound up with the ideology of their time, which was at best bourgeois. The pivot of all bourgeois orientation is: that private property remains protected. To the extent that radical groups and sects transgressed this, it arose out of a wrongly understood primitive Christianity, whose postulates, too literally interpreted, would have been condemned to be shattered with the very first attempts at realisation, because all the conditions of the socio-economic milieu were against them. Likewise in the French Revolution the proletariat was not present as a class: the extent of the development of the bourgeois class did not give rise to it at all. Not even sixty years later, in the French as in the German revolution, did a proletarian segment come to light. Only half a generation later did Lasalle's agitation work begin, with the aim of preparing, through the awakening of class feeling among the proletariat the general education towards class consciousness.

From the beginning, the Russian Revolution,in accordance with its historical conditions could only be a bourgeois revolution. It had to get rid of tsarism, to smooth the way for capitalism, and to help the bourgeoisie in to the saddle politically.

Through an unusual chain of circumstances the bourgeoisie found itself in no position to play its historical role. The proletariat, leaping on to the stage in its place, did make itself in a moment master of the situation by an unprecedented exertion of energy, daring, tactical readiness and intelligence, but fell in the following period into a fatal predicament.

According to the phaseological pattern of development as formulated and advocated by Marx, after feudal tsarism in Russia there had to come the capitalist bourgeois state, whose creator and representative is the bourgeois class.

But government power from 1917 was occupied not by bourgeois, but by proletarians who repudiated the bourgeois state and were ready to institute a new economic and social order following socialist theory.

Between feudalism and socialism yawned a gap of a full hundred years, through which the system of the bourgeois epoch fell unborn and unused.

The Bolsheviks undertook no more and no less than to jump a whole phase of development in Russia in one bold leap.

Even if one admits that in doing so they reckoned on the world revolution which was to come to their aid and compensate for the vacuum in development within by support from the great fund of culture from outside, this calculation was still rashness because it based itself solely on a vague hope. Rash too was the experiment arising from this calculation.

The first act of the Bolshevik regime was the Peace of Brest-Litovsk. But this treaty, concluded with an advanced capitalist bourgeois government, was an act of bourgeois politics. A really proletarian revolution would have maintained a hostile attitude, would have tied up the German fighting strength further, to thwart German imperialism of victory in the west, and on its part would have mobilised all forces for the furthering of the world revolution. Rosa Luxemburg gave the sharpest expression to this view in her time.

In connection with the treaty, the Bolsheviks declared themselves for the right to self-determination of nations on the basis of which ensued the severing of Finland, Poland, the Baltic, the Ukraine and the Caucasus from Russia. This statement was the outcome of bourgeois political orientation. The result was on the one hand the Russian national state which is not a proletarian goal and on the other the collapse of the proletarian revolution in the detached states. A proletarian revolution would have had to establish solidarity over all frontier posts and beyond national turnpikes.

The Bolsheviks, however, began the greatest fall from grace with the distribution of the big estates to the peasants. Through this the peasants obtained private property. But socialism should begin not with the introduction but with the elimination of private property. And so the measure was a slap in the face of the socialist idea. As obvious as this act would have been for the government of a bourgeois state power (more or less as at the time of the French Revolution), it is similarly inadmissible,in fact, grotesque, as an expression of proletarian policy. For, with the peasantry having attained private property, about 85% of the population was thereby recruited to enmity against socialism.

The consequence of this policy is manifest in the irreconcilable opposition between country and town, peasantry and industrial proletariat. It led to the boycott of the towns, to the refusing of food, to the sabotage of the state supply organisations: it compels tactics of concessions to the capitalist-orientated peasantry a policy directed towards peasant interests and a capitulation to profit.

In fact the Bolshevik regime had to go this way. While it still based itself in 1918 on the landless, and the poor peasants with the industrial workers made up its surest following, it now sides with the property owning peasants, creates tenant farmers and big proprietors, sets the grain trade free, permits and encourages in this way the rise of a peasantry with capitalist interests, whose political business it takes care of.

Parallel to this, in the same bourgeois tracks, ran the economic policy vis-a-vis industry. The Bolsheviks carried out the nationalisation of industry, of transport, banks, factories, etc., and thus awoke quite generally the belief that socialist measures were involved here. Nevertheless, nationalisation is not socialisation. Through nationalisation you can arrive at a large-scale, tightly centrally-run state capitalism, which may exhibit various advantages as against private capitalism. Only it is still capitalism. And however you twist and turn it gives no way of escape from the constraint of bourgeois politics. So also in Russia, then, they came to the make great concession to foreign capitalists, to whom mineral wealth and labour power have been handed over for exploitation, profit-sharing with the state. The stock exchange is open again. A host of dealers, entrepreneurs, agents, brokers, bankers, profiteers, speculators and jobbers has turned up again and settled in. By the decree of 27 May 1921 the right of possession over factories and workshops, industrial and trading establishments, instruments and means of production, agricultural and industrial produce, financial stock; the right to inventions, copyright, trade marks; the right to take up mortgages or lend money, like the testamentary or legal right of succession, was expressly acknowledged again. With this the bourgeois order is established in its entirety and in all essential components.

To this also belongs, besides the bourgeois jurisdiction whose organisational structure is being constructed, the Red Army: a thoroughly bourgeois army functioning in accordance with bourgeois-capitalist interests. In the context of policies dictated in the first instance by the protection of the agrarian profits, it represents the sharpest weapon of basic defence first against the Cossacks, Denikin, Wrangel and so on, but sooner or later also against the demands of the proletarian socialist revolution.

Not last is a striking expression of bourgeois politics, the dictatorship of the Communist Party leaders set up in Russia, which is falsely described as the dictatorship of the leadership. Behind this pseudo-revolutionary protective screen hides, as everyone knows, the omnipotence of a small handful of people who are the commanders of the authoritarian, centrally organised commissariat-bureaucracy. As inverted tsarism this party dictatorship is a completely bourgeois concern.

These few contentions show and prove that the Russian regime, contrary to its doubtless honest intention to pursue proletarian socialist policy, has been pushed step by step by the power of facts into bourgeois capitalist policy.

Even where they succeeded for a while in developing the shoots of a social revolution and creating the beginnings of an economic and social order of a socialist nature, the pains they took ended finally with a failure, so that they were forced to demolish the attempts and experiments.

And as the best and most honourable of the fighters for a social revolution opposed this, the Bolshevik authorities did not shrink for a minute from throwing them by hundreds and thousands into prisons quite in the bourgeois-capitalist-tsarist manner sending them to Siberia, or condemning them to death. A Trotsky played the executioner of the Kronstadt sailors with the same coldbloodedness as a Gallifet having French revolutionaries, or a Noske German revolutionaries slaughtered.

It was an historical error to believe that the Russian Revolution was the start of a social revolution. And it amounts to a demagogic fraud to awaken and maintain this belief in the heads of workers.

When the socialists in the Russian government, after the victory over tsarism, imagined that a phase of historical development could be skipped and socialism structurally realised, they had forgotten the ABC of Marxist knowledge according to which socialism can only be the outcome of an organic development which has capitalism developed to the limits of its maturity as its indispensable presupposition. They had to pay for this forgetfulness by a wide, troublesome and victim-strewn detour which brings them in a space of time to capitalism.

To institute capitalism and to organise the bourgeois state is the historical function of the bourgeois revolution. The Russian Revolution was and is a bourgeois revolution, no more and no less: the strong socialist admixture changes nothing in this essence. So it will fulfil its task by throwing away, sooner or later, the last remnants of its 'War-Communism' and revealing the face of a real, genuine capitalism. The struggles within the Bolshevik party are preparing this conclusion, and with it the end of the Bolshevik party dictatorship. The line of development whether that of a party coalition which hastens and alleviates the launching phase of capitalism, or that of a Bonaparte who protracts and aggravates it is not yet clear; both are possible.

The parallelogram of forces will find its correct diagonals.


The bourgeois economic order rests on the possession of capital, the production of commodities, the exploitation of wage-workers and the gaining of profit.

The bourgeois state is the organisation of public and legal authority into a mechanism of domination, which ensures the functioning and the success of the bourgeois economic order.

All forces and means, in materials as in ideas, that the state has at its disposal stand directly or indirectly at the service of capital. The authority to order the state power lies in the hands of the bourgeois class. It receives the directives for the use of the state authority from economic necessities. In the interest of the highest expediency in its use, the organisation of the state has followed in accordance with these economic necessities. In the capitalist economy the capitalist is master of the process of production. He buys the raw materials, owns the means of production, decides the managing of production, sells the commodities, reaps the profit. He builds the factories, seeks out the markets, takes care of the customers, regulates the circulation of money, pays out the wage. He is commander, representative, supreme court. He has money. He is authority.

As in the economy, so in the state. The capitalist demands liberties which the feudal state refuses him: freedom of trade, freedom of occupation, freedom of competition. He needs freedom of movement, liberation from feudal charges and guild barriers, the right to self-determination, the right of personality. He demands the guaranteeing of his title of ownership, the legal protection of the exploitation process, the legitimising of profit, the social sanctioning of his authority.

In the state-scientific theory of liberalism are set down all the points and principles according to which the capitalist bourgeois wants to see his state, the bourgeois-capitalist state, organised. All the liberal demands and goals, aimed at obtaining and securing for capitalism the fullest freedom for its development, are here woven into a system. The philosophical anchorage of this system is given in individualism as it has been founded, formulated and completed in England by Locke, Shaftesbury, Hume; in France by Bayle, Voltaire, Helvetius, Rousseau and the Encyclopaedists; in Germany by Leibnitz, Lessing, Fichte. Begun as 'Enlightenment', this philosophical school came to dominate the political and social provinces first in England, where after the Revolution the track had been cleared for the unfettered development of bourgeois-materialist interests, and finally found its formulation and strongest emphasis in the principle of Manchester liberalism, 'Laissez faire, laissez aller'. The whole atmosphere of the great French Revolution is dominated by the spirit of bourgeois individualism, where its manifestation resulted in the boldest gestures and most vigorous exaltations as an answer to the heavy pressure of the old state and ecclesiastical situation. In Germany, whose bourgeois class distinguished itself from the beginning by lack of imagination and calculating cowardice, the philosophical thought-content of individualism faded very quickly to an empty egoism, which enjoyed a predominantly materialist life. The bourgeois class also produced no statesmen from its ranks who would have taken care of its business: it entrusted its interests to the Junker Bismarck who according to his own words saw it as his task to cultivate millionaires. These millionaires symbolise bourgeois-capitalist authority.

Thus the bourgeois class, as soon as it has first won power over feudalism, arrives at a state order according to its needs, in its interests, for its use. Its wishes are decisive, its attitude determines. For it is authority. Its state is an authoritarian state.

In the capitalist economy all commodities develop the tendency to follow the market in order to be exchanged there. This market can be a shop, a department store, an annual market, a fair or the world market. The market is the point to which the centripetal force of all commodities tends. It is, however, also the point from which the centrifugal force of all commodities pushes apart again as soon as they are exchanged, i.e. fulfilled their capitalist purpose. If the commodity is money, the market is stock exchange or bank. Always the market stands at the middle point of a process working in two directions. The market is the centre.

To the law of motion of the capitalist economy corresponds that of the bourgeois state. All the forces of the government collect at one point, there receive their orders and then act back centrifugally. The bureaucracy escalates up to its highest peak, the minister; the army organisation up to the generalissimo; there the decision is taken, the command given, the decree proclaimed; and with the precision of a mechanical apparatus, the organisation functions according to the will of one head, the centre, down to its last errand boy and lowest organ. Only the central office is autonomous: it is the brain and thinks for the whole. Its decision is definitive, it is to be obeyed unconditionally. Strict order and discipline prevail.

In the feudal era, when every socage-farm with its copyholders formed a small economic unit, more or less self-contained and self-supporting, the individual's power to give orders did not have much scope. One was situated beside the other and each was to the same extent his own master. The system of organisation in which every part of the whole enjoys its full autonomy is called federalism. The feudal state, then, had been a federal state.

The bourgeoisie had gained from the conditions of its capitalist economy the insight that centralism was in many respects superior to federalism. Especially insofar as it united all the dispersed and isolated forces into a whole. They came out in favour of a centralised will and therewith won the ability to do great things. When the capitalist brought the hand-workers together in the factory, went over from domestic industry to co-operation, finally evolved this into manufacture, he went through practical schools of centralism. All the experiences and knowledge thus gained the bourgeois class now utilised in establishing its state structure. It needed a large centralised mechanism that obeyed every finger-touch at the highest point. A mechanism with which it, the small minority, could be the brain, issuing commands, accomplishing its will. And with which the large mass, the proletariat, was subjected to its dominance through strict order and discipline. This mechanism was provided by the centralist system of organisation. It made possible in the best and surest way the domination of few over many. So the bourgeoisie created its state for itself as a centralised state.

In the capitalist economy the production of commodities soon becomes mass production. But the absorption capacity of the existing market is quickly sated. New, bigger selling outlets become necessary. Capitalism develops a drive to expand, which threatens to burst the boundaries of the state. Thus every young capitalist state seeks, through wars, conquest, colonial acquisitions, etc., to become a bigger state. This requires a certain mental and spiritual preparation and influencing of the citizens a certain ideology which interprets the pressure towards expansion and extension in the interest of profit as the expression of imaginary forces and needs, and lyingly converts warlike conquests into achievements for the common good. This ideology invents the concept nation, exploits sentiments about home and fatherland and misuses them for class-interested purposes of enrichment. It deals in national interests, national honour, national duties and national responsibility, until it gets involved in the national war, which is falsified into a war of national defence. To wage the war a national army has been provided, the schools have been made into abodes of national incitement; in national politics a special national phraseology has been cultivated which furnishes every war, however notoriously for plunder and conquest, with the requisite intellectual and moral justification. When the SPD defended the world war from 1914 to 1918 as a national war, when the KPD, during the collapse of the Ruhr, joined in supporting the national defence of the Ruhr zone alongside Schlageter, then both parties proved their character as national auxiliary organs of the bourgeois state, which is always a national state.

The capitalist economy, once it has entered the arena of large-scale enterprises and beyond that, the formation of stock companies, has created for itself a complicated apparatus of management, very appropriate for its requirements. In it all forces are well weighed up against each other, all functions cleverly distributed, all individual actions bound into an exact collective action. The technology of the machine is its model.

In broad outline, the management structure of a large modern factory looks like this: nominal owners and with them actual interested parties, and so the real beneficiaries of the capitalist large-scale concern are the shareholders. These come together in the shareholders' meeting which passes important resolutions, exercises control, calls in reports, relieves and appoints officials, and concedes wages. From the shareholders' meeting issues the board of directors, which supervises the management, comes to final decisions, constitutes the supreme court in all the vital questions of the works, but is still responsible vis-a-vis the shareholders' meeting.

An image of this large-scale industry's machinery is the bourgeois state. There the bearers of a mandate from the electorate sit in the parliament, a large meeting of the shareholders entitled to vote who, discussing and resolving, equipped with important powers, decide about the weal and woe of the state as a whole. From its midst issues the board of directors, the Cabinet, which has the task of looking after, with special care and heightened vigilance, the interests served by the functioning of the state machinery. The Cabinet members (ministers) represent the state at its highest point; they supervise the work of the management bureaucracy placed under them, make the big contacts within the competing firms abroad, i.e. the capitalist foreign states, but always they stay dependent on Parliament and responsible to it; by it they are appointed and recalled.

As in the assembly of shareholders, so too in Parliament questions and proposals often manage to be carried through and dismissed which already are foregone conclusions and are only put to the vote for form's sake. They have already been put forward and decided on in another place, whose importance more or less strongly controls the vote of the shareholders' meeting or the parliament. This other place is identical with the offices of the great banks or of the captains of industry. Here, where the most significant decisions of the capitalist economy come down, the decisive resolutions of bourgeois politics are passed. And indeed by the same people in the same case. For politics is nothing other than struggle for the legal protection of economic interests is the defence of profit with the weapons of paragraphs in law, the securing of the capitalist system of exploitation with the means of state authority.

With tirelessness and zeal the bourgeoisie has worked at the construction of its state form and at the development of its legislature. For this it found its most reliable tool in Parliament, which in turn found its auxiliary organs in the parties. Today, having reached the highest peak of capitalist development, big capital feels the power of Parliament and parties as burdensome. It avoids it by Enabling Acts, military dictatorships, and shifting important authority and decisions to other bodies in which the representatives of capital and economic concerns have the upper hand (state economic council). Open antagonism towards Parliament and parliamentarism is no longer at all concealed in big-capitalist circles; in fact attacks directed against parliament and parliamentary government are debated quite openly without inhibition. The slave, Parliament, has done his duty. When the idea of a Directory was being discussed in the bonapartist tendency, Herr Minoux was selected as the supreme holder of power. Herr Minoux the General Director of Stinnes.

From The Bourgois To The Proletarian Revolution 2

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