An honest self-criticism by a Leftist
I have been going through www.revolutionarydemocracy.org regularly ever since I found it googling. The article by Prakash Rao titled "Contemporary Communism and the Relation of the Party to Political Power" is an excellent one and is an honest self-criticism by a true Leftist. Prakash Rao convincingly states that "the communist party cannot substitute itself for the class" and that "a communist party that fights for power for itself, at any stage, will become transformed into a bourgeois party". Excerpts from the article:-
We are living at a time when the greatest offensive is being carried out by imperialism and the reactionary bourgeoisie against the theory and practice of communism. The degeneration of the Bolshevik Party and the social system in the Soviet Union created the spectacle of a caricature of communism. In particular, it led to the conversion of the dictatorship of the proletariat into the dictatorship of the party of the new bourgeoisie. Imperialism and the international bourgeoisie screamed against this ‘one party dictatorship’ as they organised the final destruction of the shell of socialism and ushered in classical capitalism and the multi-party dictatorship of the bourgeoisie.Excellent indeed. We need more such efforts to instigate the idea of true Leftism.
The real problem with Soviet democracy was that the role played by the working class and cooperative peasants in the exercise of political power ceased to develop, after the initial stage of socialism. The communist party started concentrating all decision-making power in its own hands, instead of playing its role as the advanced consciousness and enabler of the working class to exercise power. The Communist Party of Soviet Union (Bolshevik) succumbed to the imperialist pressure and embraced modern revisionism. It failed to play the leading role as an abler of the toiling masses to rule themselves, consistent with their capacity and consciousness at the stage of socialism that existed in the Soviet Union after the end of the Second World War. It degenerated from a party of revolution into a tool of the new elite.
When the party ceased to play its role as the vanguard of the working class, the nature of political power began to change. The dictatorship of the proletariat degenerated into the dictatorship of the party of the new elite. The socialist state was converted into a social-imperialist superpower. Discontent spread among the masses of people, which was used by imperialism and the emerging Russian bourgeoisie to wipe out the Soviet Union itself, along with all traces of socialism.
The pressure of imperialist bourgeois ideology and the illusion of power created by the parliamentary system will not be such big problems if the communists and other progressive forces draw the appropriate lessons from the disintegration of the Soviet Union. Far from drawing the lessons and modernising the theory of proletarian democracy, there are parties within the communist movement that are conciliating with the system and political process of capitalist democracy. Such class conciliation within the communist movement is the main roadblock to the strengthening of united struggle of the working class and all the oppressed in this period.
The most important lesson from the rise and fall of proletarian democracy in the 20th century is that a communist party cannot and must not strive to bring itself to power, or keep itself in power. A proletarian party, by definition, seeks power for its class and not for itself. In order to achieve this goal, it must build the united political front of all the oppressed, and imbue the working class with the consciousness to lead the oppressed masses in the struggle to overthrow the bourgeoisie and establish proletarian democracy.
The classics of our doctrine teach us that the communist party is the vanguard party of the working class in which the advanced sections of the class militate. The communist party cannot substitute itself for the class. It must refresh and develop its role as the vanguard of the class at each stage of the revolution and socialism. A communist party that fights for power for itself, at any stage, will become transformed into a bourgeois party.