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Russian text edited 
by G. Glezerman and 6. Kursanov 



Translated from the Russian 

Edited by David Fidlon 

This book was written by a group of authors: 
Chapter I by G. Glezerman; Chapters II, IV, V by 
M. Seleznyov; Chapter HI by Amovrosov; Chapter 
VI by V. Zamkovoi; Chapter VII by V. Denisov; 
Chapter VHI by M. Yakovlev; Chapter IX by I. Kon 
and Y. Semyonov. 


Ha ax2auticKom aavike 

First printing 1968 

Printed in the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics 




On kwh = 



. The Revolution Brougnt About y Marx and Buecls in Social 


. The Relationship Betweni: Historical snd Dialectical 


. The Discovery of ihe lane of Social Development by Historical 


. Interaction of Historical Materialism with Other Social 


. Historical Materialia sna the Sirugile for Social Press 


. Emergence of Human Society and Social Production 
. Social Production and Geographical Environment 

. Social Production and Population. . . ds 

. Productive Forces and Relations of Production 

Dialectics of Productive Forces and Relations of Prediction 

. The Laws Governing the Transition from the Old to the New 

Mode of Production 


. The Essence of the Class Division of Society. The Place and 

Role of the Class Struggle in the Historical Process 

- Classes and Class Struggle in Developed Capitalist Countries 
. Classes and Class Struggle in Countries Which Are cee for 

or Have Won National Independence 

. Classes and Class Struggle in the Socialist Eburitties in the 

Period of Transition from Capitalism to Socialism 

. The Overcoming of Class Distinctions in the Period of Gradual 

Transition from Socialism to Communism 

. Class Struggle in the International Arena 







om & NY 


. Social Revolution as an Upheaval in the Economic Basis and 

Superstructure of Society 2... 2 6. 1 1 we we ee 128 
. First Types of Social Revolutions . . . . . . . . . . . 135 
. Bourgeois Anti-Feudal Revolutions . . . ..... . . 138 
. Proletarian, Socialist Revolution . . 5 i ata SEATED 
. Socialist Revolution as a World Revoluionaty Brdcess os, «lbs 


1. The Origin of the State. The Essence of the Exploiting State 159 
2. Types of Eaves States. The Bourgeois State and Its 

mo pe 


Functions . . ae es a ew we. SOE 

. The Forms of the Bourgedin: State fe eh : 170 
. The Socialist State in the Period of Transition ous Capitatism 

to Socialism . .. . é 178 

. Development of the Socialiat. State using Communist 

Construction: . 5 le le se Boe soe wy ee ae « 184 


. War Is the Continuation of the Policy of Social Classes . . 192 
. The Dependence of Wars on Socio-Economic Factors. . . . 198 
. Marxist-Leninist Classification of Wars . . . . . . « « « 202 
. Criticism of Contemporary Militarism . . . . . . . . . 209 


. Gnoseological and Social Roots of Idealist Theories Concerning 

the Role of the Masses and the Individual in History . . . 220 
. Marxism-Leninism on the Content of the Concept Cee and 

the Mounting Role of the Masses in History . . . 226 
. The Role of the Masses in the Pees ee of ‘Material 

Production . . a Moe Laete ta Geol 
. The Role of the Risscee in Saati Political Activity fe Ciust. tet megan 
. The Role of the Masses in the Deeks of Spiritual 

Culture . . . Slits car Let wheter Vea 
. The Role of the Aedividual: in “History i RAMA Whoa oy ne 


. Social Psychology and Ideology. Social Consciousness as a 

Reflection of Social Being . . eee nae ae Man e203 

. Class Character of Social Consciousness. Scientific and 

Unscientific Ideology . . 2 2 1. ee ee ee ee ee 264 

. Relative Independence of ideplogy: The Role. of 
Social Development ‘ 

. Forms and Specific Features of Social Gontelousiess 
. Science and Its Place in the Life of Society 


. The Concept and Criterion of Social Progress 
. Types of Social Progress 
. New Type of Social Progress 





Chapter I 

Historical materialism is an integral part of Marxist 
philosophy. Its purpose is to study the structure of human 
society and the laws governing its development. With the 
creation of historical materialism social development came 
to be regarded by human thought as a natural historical 
process which, despite its complexity and diversity, was 
subjected to general laws. Thanks to the cognition of these 
laws it became possible scientifically to determine how 
and in what direction society develops. This is of inestim- 
able importance for taking correct bearings in the 
development of modern society. 

1. The Revolution Brought About by Marx 
and Engels in Social Theories 

Before Marx and Engels made their contribution to 
social science it had been dominated by idealism. Not only 
idealists, but materialists as well regarded social develop- 
ment solely as a result of the change of social ideas. While 
taking a materialist view of nature, materialists were unable 
to extend it to social life. 

What were the difficulties encountered by philosophers 
and historians in explaining social developments? There 
was above all the fact that, in contrast to nature, social 
life is a result of human activity, with men acting as con- 
scious beings endowed with mind and volition, and pur- 
suing definite aims. It was evident that things and phenom- 
ena in nature did not depend on the human mind, but 
that did not apply so patently to social life. Here the main 
thing was that social life was created by men themselves, 


and that created the illusion that social relationships were 
built by men in accordance with their consciousness and 
were entirely determined by their conscious aims and 

In his article “Karl Marx’, Lenin noted two basic flaws in 
all earlier historical theories which had prevented men 
from seeing social development as a law-governed process: 

First, they examined, at best, only the ideological mo- 
tives in the historical activity of men, without trying to 
trace the objective uniformities in the development of 
social relationships, without discovering the roots of these 
relationships in the degree of development of material 

Second, they did not analyse the activity of the masses, 
but saw history mainly as the result of the activity of 
outstanding personalities. 

Such an approach to history took into account only the 
most immediate, so to say, superficial motives in the activ- 
ity of men, instead of the deeper reasons which underlie 
this activity. Idealist historians believed that to explain 
historical events it was enough to find out the aims and 
ideas that guided the men taking part in them. But, once 
that was established, there arose the question: why did 
these men set themselves those aims and not others? What 
gave rise to these aims? Idealists had no answer. 

Let us take an example from contemporary life by way 
of illustration. Socialism is a most popular idea in the 
modern world. A third of humanity now lives in countries 
which have built or are building socialism. The idea of 
socialism has gripped the imagination of millions of men 
not only in Europe, but also in Asia, Africa and Latin 
America. Reactionaries frequently say that the great 
changes taking place in the world arc basically due to the 
spread of socialist ideas, that the Communists are respon- 
sible for them. But this view of the contemporary histor- 
ical process is reactionary and theoretically groundless. 
To explain the demise of capitalism and the rise of social- 
ism in a number of countries by the sole fact that socialist 
ideas have gripped men’s minds is to take a false—idealist 
—view of history. There is no doubt that the spread of 
socialist ideas among the masses plays a tremendous revo- 
Jutionary role. But for all that, their spread is not the ulti- 


mate cause of historical events. There is always this ques- 
tion: why did they spread so irresistibly? In effect, why 
has the idea of socialism become a tremendous force in 
our day, specifically in the mid-20th century, and not in 
some other age in the past? Why have hundreds of mil- 
lions accepted it today? The fact is that the objective devel- 
opment of society has made the transition to socialism a 
historical necessity because capitalism has outlived itself 
as a system, and has become a barrier to social progress. 
This objective necessity is realised by men in the ideas 
of scientific socialism, and this explains their impetuous 

The conclusion to be drawn from this is that material- 
ism, in contrast to idealism, goes beyond the ideological 
motives in human activity, and probes for the material 
causes producing these motives. According to the material- 
ist understanding of history, social being, that is, society’s 
material life, is primary, and social consciousness, that is, 
spiritual activity, is secondary. Historical materialism does 
not at all deny the vast importance of ideas in social de- 
velopment, but it regards these ideas as a reflection of the 
living conditions of men, and as an expression of the 
requirements of the material development of social life. 

The second basic flaw in earlier historical theories was 
the fact that they did not regard history as a history of 
the peoples, the masses, but chiefly as the activity of out- 
standing personalities. Most idealist scholars insist that 
ideas play the chief role in history, and draw the conclu- 
sion that history is made by those who produce the ideas, 
the outstanding men, the ideologists, the law-makers, etc. 
This view betrays a lack of confidence in the people’s crea- 
tive forces and inevitably leads to the denial of laws gov- 
erning historical development. History appears as a jumble 
of chance events due to tricks of fortune or the particu- 
lars in the life of great men. 

Idealist theories justify and help to consolidate the 
downtrodden state of the masses in exploiting societies; 
they are a reflection of the fear ideologists of the exploit- 
ing classes have in face of the historical activity of the 

In contrast to idealism, historical materialism reveals 
the great historical part played by the people, by those 


who create all the wealth of society, produce the material 
goods, and who have always been the decisive force of his- 
torical development. Marxism-Leninism does not at all 
deny the role of the individual in history, but it starts from 
the fact that that role can be correctly understood only on 
the basis of an understanding of the laws governing social 
development, and of a study of the living conditions of 
people and classes, which give rise to the need for out- 
standing men. 

Historical materialism became possible only on the basis 
of definite theoretical and socio-historical premises, and 
had been largely prepared by the earlier development of 
social doctrines, specifically the works of the French and 
English economists of the second half of the 18th and 
early 19th centuries, and the French historians of the first 
half of the 19th century. They raised many important 
questions, whose solution was needed for a scientific un- 
derstanding of social progress. 

To discover the most important laws of social develop- 
ment definite objective historical conditions were needed, 
and these took shape only when social relations attained a 
certain maturity. 

Take the discovery of the law of class struggle without 
which it would have been impossible to comprehend the 
development of class society as a law-governed process, or 
to reduce the endless diversity of individual human activ- 
ity to the activity of large groups of people distinguished 
from each other by their place in the social system of pro- 
duction. That society is divided into classes was known 
long before Marx, but the essence of the division remained 
unclear. In pre-capitalist formations it was covered up by 
caste divisions, by divisions into estates, and was veiled by 
a religious shroud, all of which naturally hindered the 
study of society’s class division. Class relations were 
crystallised and laid bare only with society’s further devel- 
opment. With the transition to capitalism it became pa- 
tently evident that the class structure of society depends 
on its economic relations. Only then, as Engels had noted, 
“the riddle could be solved”! 

The idea of class struggle was put forward by the French 

{ Marx and Engels, Selected Works, Vol. I1, Moscow, 1962, p. 393. 

historians of the Restoration period. They were quite right 
in saying that the existence of classes was rooted in the 
conditions of life of civil society, that is, above all in eco- 
nomic relations, property relations, etc. But they were 
unable to give a scientific explanation of the origin of 
classes, and frequently thought they may have arisen in the 
conquest of one people by another. They also took a nar- 
row bourgeois view of the class struggle itself. Analysing 
the history of the French and English bourgeois revolu- 
tions, they correctly proved that both were linked with the 
struggle of the “third estate”, above all, the bourgeoisie, 
against the feudal landowners. But when the proletariat 
appeared on the historical scene as an independent force, 
they recoiled in horror from the idea of class struggle. 

To draw the relevant conclusions from the existence of 
classes and to discover the law of class struggle it was 
necessary to accept the proletarian standpoint. 

This example shows that there are definite historical 
conditions for understanding social phenomena, and that 
they depend on the development of class relationships and 
the social stand taken by thinkers in each epoch. And if 
this is taken into account it will not surprise us that the 
laws of social development were discovered later than many 
laws of nature. The ruling classes, with all the means of 
mental activity in their control, undoubtedly stood to gain 
from the advance of the natural sciences, which directly 
serve material production. And contrarywise, they had no 
stake in the knowledge of the essence of social life, because 
they were doing everything to conceal from the working 
people the basis of their own domination. The oppressed 
classes, however, were not developed enough and fettered 
by too many superstitions to understand the conditions of 
their own liberation. With the emergence of the proletariat, 
there arrived on the historical scene the first class which 
was interested in the elimination of all class oppression, 
and consequently, in a most precise andi totally objective 
knowledge of the tendencies of social development. For the 
proletariat, it is an objective necessity to get to know the 
laws of social development, as otherwise it is impossible 
to transform capitalist society into socialist society through 
revolution and start the planned construction of commu- 


The discovery of the laws of social development turned 
socialism from a utopia into a science. Only when Marx 
and Engels had formulated the materialist understanding 
of history and showed that society, like nature, was in 
continuous dialectical development, it could be said that 
socialism was not an invention of dreamers but a histori- 
cal necessity and that it would inevitably take the place of 
capitalism as a result of the class struggle of the proletar- 
iat and its allies. 

The theoretical foundation of Marx’s scientific socialism 
is philosophy-—dialectical and historical materialism-——and 
his economic doctrine. 

2. The Relationship Between Historical 
and Dialectical Materialism 

Marxism is an integrated and consistent scientific world 
outlook which organically includes dialectical and _histo- 
rical materialism, Marx’s economic doctrine and his theory 
of scientific socialism. 

The revisionists, who are enemies of Marxism clothed 
in Marxist raiment, have been trying to undermine the 
unity of the various component parts of Marxism. The 
revisionists of the Second International have repeatedly 
asserted, for instance, that Marxism has no philosophy of 
its own; that Marx’s economic doctrine and his theory of 
scientific socialism can be combined with any philosophi- 
cal teaching. Among the opportunist parties, indifference 
to philosophy was considered the right form, and Karl 
Kautsky’s attitude was characteristic in this respect. Pro- 
fessing support for dialectical materialism and agreeing 
that historical materialism and idealist philosophy were in- 
compatible, he, in actual fact, encouraged the Neo-Kan- 
tians and the Machists in their attempts to wed Marxism 
to idealism. In his Die materialistische Geschichtsauffass- 
ung, he alleged that the main thing for Marx and Engels was 
not the truth, but the way to it, that is, method. In this 
way he separated method from world outlook, of which it 
is, in fact, a part, and then went on to announce his com- 
plete indifference to world outlook. In his opinion, “the 
materialist view of history is not connected with material- 


ist philosophy. It is compatible with any world outlook 
which resorts to dialectical materialism or which is not, at 
any rate, anlagonistic to it. It makes no difference whether 
this world outlook is called materialism or opposes mech- 
anistic materialism, whether it prefers to be known as 
realism or monism, positivism or sensationalism, empiricism 
or empirio-criticism.” Kautsky declared that the material- 
ist view of history “was compatible not only with the 
views of Mach and Avenarius, but with those of many other 
philosophers as well’’.! 

The efforts to combine Marxism with a philosophy that 
is alien to it have been and are being made by the revi- 
sionists to deprive Marxism of its revolutionary essence 
—materialist dialectics. Renouncing dialectical materialism, 
they crudely distort both historical materialism, Marx’s 
economic doctrine and his theory of scientific socialism. 
Thus, the Neo-Kantian revisionists replaced the theory of 
scientific socialism by an “ethical socialism”, while the re- 
visionist followers of Mach cleared the way for combining 
socialism with religion or with refined obscurantism. 

History has shown that any attempt to split up the in- 
tegrated doctrine of Marxism inevitably leads to its distor- 
tion. In his fight against philosophical revisionism, Lenin 
emphasised the unity and coherence of dialectical and his- 
torical materialism. He wrote that the philosophy of 
Marxism was cast from one piece of steel, and that it was 
impossible to remove a single premise, a single essential 
part, without departing from objective truth and falling 
a prey to bourgeois-reactionary falsehood 2 

Wherein lies the intrinsic bond between dialectical and 
historical materialism? 

Historical materialism is the result of the application of 
materialism and dialectics to the study of human society; 
consequently, it rests on the general philosophical material- 
ist world outlook. At the same time historical materialism 
makes this outlook consistent and complete; only with the 
creation of historical materialism did philosophical mate- 
rialism become capable of giving a scientific interpretation 
of social as well as natural phenomena. 

'K. Kautsky, Die materialistische Geschichtsauffassung, Berlin, 
Band I, 1927, S. 28. 

2 See Lenin, Collected Works, Vol. 14, p. 326. 


That is why historical materialism is an integral part of 
Marxist philosophy, without which the Marxist-Leninist 
world outlook is inconceivable. 

Above all else historical materialism gives the answer to 
the fundamental question of philosophy—the relationship 
between social being and social consciousness. 

In society, as in nature, we find two groups of phenom- 
ena—material and spiritual. On the one hand, there is 
the material life of society: men produce the material 
goods (food, clothes, houses, means of transport, etc.) 
which they need to exist. In the process of production, men 
enter into definite economic relations, which extend both 
to production, and to the exchange and distribution of the 
products of their labour. Men are also connected with 
each other by definite relationships in the reproduction of 
the population, with the biological process of the contin- 
uation of the race taking various social forms. In plain 
language, people live, work, have children, produce and 
exchange the goods they need, etc. As a result of all this, 
definite relations are formed between them which consti- 
tute the material life of society, or, as it is called, social 

The other side of social life is the spiritual life of the 
community, or social consciousness. This includes social 
ideas, views and sentiments expressed in various forms of 
social consciousness: political and juridical ideas, ethics, 
moral standards, artistic works, religious creeds, philo- 
sophical doctrines, etc. 

A scientific understanding of social development re- 
quires first of all a solution of the question, which of these 
sides of social life is primary and which, secondary. The 
question of relationship between social consciousness and 
social being is as important to historical materialism as 
the general question of the relationship between conscious- 
ness and being is to dialectical materialism. This is the 
basic issue of the doctrine of society, and its different 
solutions delimit the materialist and the idealist views of 

The answer to this question above all reveals the unity 
of dialectical and historical materialism. Dialectical mater- 
ialism recognises that objective reality is independent of 
consciousness; historical materialism recognises that social 


ee Se  eeeeesesS SS SS 

being is objective reality independent of social conscious- 
ness. In either case, it is consciousness, including social 
consciousness, that is regarded as a more or less faithful 
reflection of objective reality. 

Of course, to answer this question in application to 
society it is necessary to take into account the specific 
features of social life. We know that dialectical materialism 
designates as material things, phenomena and relationships 
existing outside and independently of human conscious- 
ness. But social life differs from nature in that all social 
phenomena and relationships are the result of human activ- 
ity, and men are conscious beings. Thus the following 
question arises: are there any relationships in society which 
do not depend on the social consciousness of men and are 
not determined by it, but on the contrary, determine it? 
Historical materialism proves that such relationships actu- 
ally exist, that they are material in character and in their 
sum total constitute social being (discussed in greater de- 
tail in section 3 of this chapter). This has served to extend 
the principal propositions of philosophical materialism to 
the study of human society, and also defined them con- 
cretely in the light of the specific features of social life, as 
a distinct part of the material world. 

Thus, the principal propositions of historical materialism 
are a continuation and specification of the propositions of 
dialectical materialism as applied to the study of social 
life; there is an inner connection between them. 

This does not mean, however, that dialectical material- 
ism precedes historical materialism. It would be wrong to 
assume that dialectical materialism took shape first and 
was only then applied to the study of human society. An 
examination of the historical shaping of Marxist philosophy 
shows that dialectical and historical materialism were 
created by Marx and Engels as a unity, at one and the 
same time of their development. The motive force behind 
this development were the real requirements of revolu- 
tionary struggle, which enabled Marx to see that Hegel’s 
idealism was untenable, and that the idealistic idea of the 
state as an embodiment of world reason did not tally with 
real social life, permeated with the clash of classes and 
their material interests. Consequently, it was the analysis 
of social problems that was crucial in Marx’s elaboration 


of the new world outlook. The transition from idealism to 
materialism and from revolutionary democratism to com- 
munism, which is evident in Marx’s articles in the Deutsch- 
Franzésische Jahrbiicher, was completed in the joint works 
of Marx and Engels, The Holy Family and The German 
Ideology, which outline the basic propositions of dialecti- 
cal and historical materialism. 

Dialectical and historical materialism are an indissoluble 
whole: neither is conceivable without the other. 

The creation of historical materialism was a sine qua 
non in overcoming the limitations of the old materialism. 
It has been said that all the materialists before Marx took 
a materialist view of nature only and remained idealists 
when it came to social phenomena. That is why their 
materialism was limited. Philosophical materialism could 
not be complete: it could not take in the whole world in a 
single view so long as it stopped short of human society. 
Only when Marx and Engels worked out their historical 
materialism was philosophical materialism completed to 
the top, thus producing an integrated materialist world 

The scientific, Marxist view of the role of practice, and 
the significance of men’s socio-historical activity for the 
advance of their knowledge could be worked out only on 
the basis of historical materialism. Dialectical materialism 
disclosed the significance of practice as the basis of cog- 
nition, the aims of cognition and the criterion of truth. 
But in contrast to some pre-Marxist materialists (Francis 
Bacon, for example), Marxism does not reduce practice to 
scientific and technical experimentation but extends it to 
the entire socio-historical activity of men aimed at the 
transformation of nature and society. 

Marx regarded philosophy as an instrument for the rev- 
olutionary remaking of the world. This active character of 
Marxist philosophy cannot be understood without histor- 
ical materialism, which shows the need for practical effort 
on the part of men to change their social relationships. 
Already in The Holy Family, Marx and Engels showed that 
the working class, if it is to liberate itself, must not only 
overcome the category of capital in its thinking, as the 
Left Hegelians believed, but also eliminate capitalist rela- 
tionships in practice. The materialist view of history thre ws 


full light on the meaning of Marx’s brilliant idea: “The 
philosophers have only interpreted the world in various 
ways; the point, however, is to change it.”! 

Thus, dialectical and historical materialism are organi- 
cally and indissolubly bound up with each other; they are 
the two parts of one world outlook. That is why any 
attempt to separate them is harmful and futile. 

3. The Discovery of the Laws of Social 
Development by Historical Materialism 

Human society and the general laws of its development 
are the subject matter of historical materialism. Dialectical 
materialism investigates the thinking-being relationship 
and gives the answer to the questions: what is the world 
as a whole and what are the general laws governing its 
motion and development; as for historical materialism it 
answers the same questions as applied to society—as a 
special part of the material world. 

Thanks to historical materialism social science has 
become a genuine science capable of discovering laws of 
social development. Natural science has long ago recognised 
the law-governed nature of phenomena, whereas social 
science proved this only with the creation of historical 
materialism. In this lies the great service rendered by 

“Just as Darwin discovered the law of development of 
organic nature,” said Engels, “so Marx discovered the law 
of development of human history: the simple fact, hitherto 
concealed by an overgrowth of ideology, that mankind must 
first of all eat, drink, have shelter and clothing, before it 
can pursue politics, science, art, religion, etc.; that there- 
fore the production of the immediate material means of 
subsistence and consequently the degree of economic de- 
velopment attained by a given people or during a given 
epoch form the foundation upon which the state institu- 
tions, the legal conceptions, art, and even the ideas on re- 
ligion, of the people concerned have been evolved, and in 

4 Marx and Engels, The German Ideology, Moscow, 1964, p. 647. 

2-360 17 

the light of which they must, therefore, be explained, 
instead of vice versa, as had hitherto been the case.”! 

Many contemporary Western sociologists completely 
deny the existence of objective laws of social development. 
This, of course, is not accidental. In his article “Socialism 
Demolished Again” directed against P. Struve’s book The 
Economy and Price, Lenin disclosed the reasons underly- 
ing this. In his work Struve asserted that the idea of nat- 
ural law in political economy had collapsed and that the 
law of value was nothing more than a myth. For the sake 
of destroying scientific socialism he denied the existence 
of social science in general. This, said Lenin, reflected the 
“dread of science’? inherent in the bourgeoisie as in all 
other moribund classes. 

As long as the bourgeoisie remained revolutionary its 
ideologists endeavoured to discover the laws of history 
which at the time, so to say, worked for the bourgeoisie. 
In that period the interests of the bourgeoisie in some meas- 
ure coincided with those of social progress. But when the 
bourgeoisie turned into a reactionary class, its interests 
clashed with the requirements of social progress. It has 
become a moribund class trying to stop or reverse the 
course of history, to go against its laws. This attitude, 
naturally, leads to a denial of the objective laws of social 

The champions of the old system may have different 
theoretical views but many of them are united in their 
urge to undermine the belief of working people that his- 
tory is governed by laws which are fully understandable 
and can be applied for the benefit of man. 

Falling back on the fact that in society people always 
act as conscious beings, many Western sociologists deny 
the possibility of the existence of objective laws, that is, 
laws that are independent of the consciousness or the will 
of the people. Recognition of these laws, they allege, is 
incompatible with the fact that people make their own 
history. To speak about the laws of history, says the prom- 
inent French sociologist Raymond Aron, means sinning 
against science, for concrete historical acts, thoughts and 

1 Marx and Engels, Selected Works, Vol. II, p. 167. 
2 Lenin, Collected Works, Vol. 20, p. 197. 


actions are so intricately shaped that no one can say in 
advance what their final result might be. History, in his 
opinion, is a lottery. 

Needless to say, historical materialism does not deny the 
fact that men make their own history. But this does not in 
the least mean that they consciously build all their social 
relationships. The determinative force of social develop- 
ment is the change and development of production, which 
is the product of human activity. But they effect this pro- 
duction always in definite historical conditions which they 
do not choose at their own discretion and which exist in- 
dependently of them. Therefore the course of historical 
developments is determined not only by the conscious 
actions of men. It obeys objective laws which do not de- 
pend on their volition or consciousness and which dominat- 
ed men like the elemental forces of nature throughout the 
whole period prior to the establishment of socialism. 

Having discovered the material basis of social life, Marx 
and Engels proved the existence of objective laws in social 
development. They classified social relations into two types 
—miaterial and ideological. The material relations include 
first and foremost production, economic relations between 
men. In contrast to ideological social relations, material 
relations take shape independently of human volition and 
of consciousness, as an essential result of their activity 
aimed at maintaining their existence. Ideological relations 
(such as political, legal, ethical, etc.) are a reflection of 
the material relations; they are formed, initially passing 
through the consciousness of people, and are established 
by men in accordance with their views and ideas. 

Production, economic relations in their entirety form 
society’s economic structure, its real basis, whereas ideo- 
logical relations constitute the superstructure of this basis. 
The superstructure, which is formed over a definite eco- 
nomic basis, includes both the social views of men (that 
is, their political, juridical, ethical, aesthetic, religious and 
philosophical views), and the organisations and _institu- 
tions (as, for example, the state, parties, other socio-polit- 
ical organisations, the Church, etc.) which consolidate 
these views and which they establish in conformity with 
these views. 

Lenin wrote: “Only the reduction of social relations to . 


production relations and of the latter to the level of the 
productive forces, provided a firm basis for the conception 
that the development of formations of society is a process 
of natural history.”! Thanks to this it was proved that ob- 
jective laws which are determined by the nature of the 
material relations between men, and, consequently, which 
are independent of their volition or conscience, operate in 
the history of society. 

Elaborating these ideas in his book Materialism and 
Empirio-Criticism, Lenin noted that “in all social forma- 
tions of any complexity—and in the capitalist social for- 
mation in particular—people in their intercourse are not 
conscious of what kind of social relations are being formed, 
in accordance with what laws they develop, etc”.? Thus, 
for example, when the peasant began selling his grain on 
the market he entered into “intercourse” with the world 
grain producers. But he did not know what sort of economic 
relations were being formed in the process, although he 
may have been ruined by them as, for instance, by a fall 
in prices on the world market. The consciousness of the 
peasant did not in the least determine the nature of these 
economic relations; on the contrary, it changed in conform- 
ity with them. 

Of course, each individual participant in production acts 
consciously: he deliberately changes production technolo- 
gy, exchanges his products for others, etc. But the activity 
of millions of producers modifies the conditions of their 
social being; these changes not only do not depend on their 
social consciousness, but they may not be even realised 
by them beforehand. “The fact that you live and conduct 
your business, beget children, produce products and 
exchange them, gives rise to an objectively necessary chain 
of events, a chain of development, which is independent of 
your social consciousness, and is never grasped by the latter 

Historical facts show that the laws of social develop- 
ment were in operation long before they were cognised by 
men. The law of value, for example, is operating for 5-7 

{ Lenin, Collected Works, Vol. 1, pp. 140-41. 
2 Jbid., Vol. 14, p. 323. 
3 Ibid., p. 325. 


thousand years now, yet it was cognised only two centuries 
ago. This proves that the laws of social development are 
objective and independent of human consciousness. 

A social law always expresses the objective, intrinsic 
connection between social phenomena which springs from 
the nature of these phenomena and is not established by 
men according to their will. Yet this does not refute the 
fact that men act in history as conscious beings. 

Historical materialism does not in the least deny the 
diversity of motives determining the behaviour of people, 
dealt with by Raymond Aron. But that does not mean that 
history is a lottery and that it is impossible to discover any 
laws governing the activity of men. A sociologist cannot 
undertake to foretell the concrete actions of an individual, 
but it is a different matter when it comes to the activity 
of great masses of men, such as classes in a class society. 
The Marxist theory of classes, as has been noted, provided 
the guiding principle for synthesising a seemingly endless 
diversity of actions by individuals. For this purpose it was 
necessary not only to use them as a basis for studying the 
actions of large groups of men, but also materialistically 
to define the very concept of a social group. The theory of 
classes and class struggle provided an objective criterion 
for distinguishing social groups and showed the way of 
raising the individual to the social. This theory has shown 
that the source of the contradictory aspirations of great 
masses operating in history is the difference in the condition 
of classes into which a given society is divided, while the 
division of society into classes depends on the different 
positions they occupy in a definite historical system of 
social production. 

The character and direction of the activity of the masses 
are always determined by the conditions of their ma- 
terial life and although people themselves change these 
conditions, they cannot choose them at will. Consequently, 
the fact that men make their own history does not mean 
that they make it the way they would like. 

Many sociologists who oppose recognition of the laws 
of social development claim that such recognition dooms 
men to inactivity. This “argument” was advanced by the 
well-known German lawyer and sociologist Rudolf Stamm- 
ler. If you recognise socialism as being objectively neces- 


sary, he asked Marxists, why are you forming a party to 
fight for socialism? If, for example, a lunar eclipse is neces- 
sary then it will arrive of its own accord, and no one or- 
ganises a party to fight for its arrival. Today a similar 
argument is advanced by the French sociologist Georges 
Gurvitch. “Is not economy,” he writes, “human activity, 
production, struggle for domination over nature and the 
achievement of a better lot in distribution and, in partic- 
ular, in the struggle of classes? If all this wealth of con- 
ditions and human energy can be considered as determined 
then what need is there for constant appeals to revolution- 
ary will to accelerate the course of events?”! 

Let us examine these arguments one by one. 

It is clear that Stammler’s argument is a sophism and 
rests on a jumble of absolutely different phenomena. Of 
course, such a phenomenon as a lunar eclipse occurs in 
nature independently of the activity of men. In history, how- 
ever, nothing takes place independently of human activity. 

Recognition of the objective nature of the laws of social 
development by no means implies that these laws operate 
independently of men; these laws govern the activity of 
men themselves. 

What does objective necessity of socialism mean from 
the Marxist point of view? It means that capitalism has 
outlived itself and has become a brake on history; that the 
development of material life in society has posed before 
it the urgent problem of changing its relations of produc- 
tion, and bringing them in line with the new productive 
forces which have already outgrown the bounds of capital- 
ism. The development of capitalism gave rise to a class— 
the proletariat—which because of its objective position in 
the capitalist mode of production is forced to fight against 
the bourgeoisie for socialism, since there is no other way 
in which it can emancipate itself. Thus, the class struggle 
of the proletariat for the building of socialist society is 
itself an historical necessity. Therefore, to assert that 
socialism is an objective necessity does not mean to say 
that it will arrive of itself, automatically. 

No less groundless is Gurvitch’s argument which con- 
trasts human activity and energy that can accelerate the 

1 Les lettres nouvelles, Juillet-Aodt 1958, p. 65. 

course of events and enhance the determinative nature of 
human activity. Determinism and fatalism are not one and 
the same thing. 

Critics of historical materialism make every effort to 
ascribe to the Marxists a fatalistic view of history. In 
their understanding of Marxism, they are no better than 
Dr. Ryakhin, a character in Maxim Gorky’s novel The Town 
of Okurov, who consoled a young man overcome by doubts 
with the following words: “Reason philosophically: a per- 
son can neither accelerate events, nor retard them, just as 
he cannot stop the rotation of the earth or the develop- 
ment of progressive paralysis, or this idiotic rain, for 
example. What will be, will be; what cannot be, cannot be; 
no matter what you do. This, my friend, is proved by Marx, 
so there’s nothing more to be said.” But when the young 
man asked: “But Alexei Stepanovich ... people must do 
something, don’t they?” Dr. Ryakhin replied: “They have 
been told—propagate, multiply and populate the earth, the 
rest will take care of itself.’””! 

Fatalism is still frequently used to justify passiveness and 
repudiation of revolutionary struggle. But nothing is more 
alien to Marxism than fatalism. A fatalistic understanding 
of history is typical not of Marxists but of those who dis- 
tort Marxism. In Russia they were “legal Marxists”, Econ- 
omists and Mensheviks and in the West—the Bernstein- 
ians, the Kautskyites and others. Contemporary revision- 
ists, who view the consolidation of socialism as a sponta- 
neous process, also adhere to the same positions. But what 
is there in common between Marxism-Leninism, which is 
permeated with revolutionary spirit, and these advocates 
of the theory of spontaneity, these vendors of bourgeois 
ideological wares? ‘Marxism,’ Lenin wrote, “differs from 
all other socialist theories in the remarkable way it com- 
bines complete scientific sobriety in the analysis of the 
objective state of affairs and the objective course of evo- 
lution with the most emphatic recognition of the import- 
ance of the revolutionary energy, revolutionary creative 
genius, and revolutionary initiative of the masses—and 
also, of course, of individuals, groups, organisations, and! 

1M. Gorky, Collected Works, Vol. 9, Moscow, 1950, p. 67 (in Rus- 


parties that are able to discover and achieve contact with 
one or another class.”! 

In contrast to subjectivism and fatalism, Marxism finds 
the sources of transforming reality in reality itself. It is 
possible to change the world only through the application 
of its objective laws. The transforming activity of man is 
successful only if he takes into account the historical neces- 
sity and acts in accordance with it. 

Objectively analysing the correlation of class forces, 
Lenin stressed, “I do not in the least justify reality, but, 
on the contrary, indicate in this reality itself the deepest 
sources (though they are invisible at first sight) and the 
forces that can transform it.”2 

To discover in reality itself the sources and the forces 
that transform it is the essence of the Marxist approach to 
the historical process which organically combines objec- 
tivity with a revolutionary spirit. 

Just as dialectical materialism recognises the ability of 
consciousness to exert a retroactive influence through pur- 
poseful practical activity on being, of which it is a reflec- 
tion, so does historical materialism recognise the active 
role of social ideas and_ their abi to influence the 
development of social being. 

Social consciousness performs an active role in history 
but the sources of its development lie in the conditions of 
social being. Changes in the conditions of material life set 
men definite historical tasks, as for instance, the necessity 
to abolish an obsolete system. Once such an historical ne- 
cessity has arisen and found its reflection in the conscious- 
ness of leading social forces, it also determines the direc- 
tion of their practical activity. Sooner or later, this neces- 
sity is realised by the progressing forces of society whose 
interests clash with those of the moribund forces, which 
are endeavouring to preserve the old system. The transition 
from one social system to another is effected precisely as 
a result of the struggle of these forces. 

It is clear from the above that the conscious activity of 
men is not a passive reflection but an organic part of the 
historical process. It becomes an essential link in the law- 

{ Lenin, Collected Works, Vol. 13, p. 31. 
2 Thid., Vol. 18, p. 330. 


governed development of society. Thus, for example, the 
historical necessity for the transition to socialism does not 
imply its automatic victory. It only expresses the dominant 
tendency of social development in the contemporary epoch 
and is realised in the struggle by means of the conscious 
activity of the progressive social forces headed by the work- 
ing class. At the same time the scale of the conscious influ- 
ence of men on the course of events is extensive. How events 
will shape in a given country and how soon the tendency 
towards socialism will gain the upper hand in it depend on 
many objective and subjective factors, including the level of 
consciousness and organisation of the working class; 
whether or not it has allies; the position and the policy of a 
working-class party; the degree of influence exerted on the 
masses by the bourgeois and petty-bourgeois parties, includ- 
ing reformist parties which are bent on splitting the work- 
ing class; the strength and the policy of the ruling classes 
resisting the advance towards socialism, etc. Marxists natu- 
rally reject the assertions of the fatalists that history can 
neither be accelerated nor slowed down. They acknowledge 
the possibility of speeding up the course of historical 
events through the conscious activity of the progressive 
forces of society, but do not ignore the possibility of a 
temporary retardation of social development by the reac- 
tionary forces in their effort to stave off their doom. 

Opposing recognition of the objective laws of social 
development many philosophers and sociologists claim that 
in contrast to natural sciences, the social sciences are 
altogether incapable of discovering general laws inasmuch 
as they deal with individual, unique events. 

This view, for example, was advanced at the turn of 
the century by representatives of the Freiburg school of 
Neo-Kantians (Wilhelm Windelband, Heinrich Rickert, and 
others). The gist of their idea was that natural science and 
history were antipodal. The aim of natural science was to 
study and generalise recurrent phenomena. So it discarded 
the individual peculiarities of the objects studied and laid 
down general laws, while history, they asserted, had the 
task of studying individual events with all their specific 
features and, consequently, there could be no historical 
laws. “For the natural scientist,’ Windelband said, “an 
individual object of his investigation as such never has 


any scientific value; he needs it only insofar as he con- 
siders himself to be entitled to examine it as a type, as a 
specific case of the generic concept which can be developed 
having the object as a starting point; he dwells only on 
those aspects of the object which are important for under- 
standing a general regularity. As for the historian, his task 
is to recreate in the ideal form some product of the past 
with all its individual features.”! 

The historian must also be guided by certain general 
propositions in order to distinguish the important from 
the unimportant. But history, according to the Freiburg 
school, must view the general only as a typical, ideal 
model. “The universal in history,’ Rickert wrote, “is not a 
universal law of nature for which the specific is only an 
instance in any greater number of others, but a cultural 
value which is gradually developed in the unique and the 
individual and only in that way realised.’”2 

Some historians, like the German scholar Eduard Meyer, 
linked up the denial of recurrence in history with an ideal- 
istic understanding of the role of the individual; they held 
that history was dominated by the free will of an outstand- 
ing personality who lent individual distinction to historical 

To back this view frequent references are made to the 
fact that historical events occur only once and are never 
repeated and that, therefore, there can be no laws of his- 
tory. From this the conclusion is drawn that it is impos- 
sible to foresee historical developments. For instance, Ger- 
hard Ritter, a German historian, asserted at the Tenth 
Congress of Historical Sciences held in Rome in 1955 that 
political history was a history of singular and unique 
events, that it was always new. inimitable and unpredic- 

These ideas have long since been refuted by the found- 
ers of Marxism-Leninism. In his work What the “Friends 
of the People” Are and How They Fight the Social-Demo- 
crats Lenin proved that the whole of pre-Marxist sociology 
was unable to discover the recurrence of events in social 

1 Wilhelm Windelband, Geschichte und Naturwissenschaft, Strass- 
burg, 1894, S. 16. 

2 Heinrich Rickert, Kulfurwissenschaft und Naturwissenschaft, Frei- 
burg, 1899, S. 51. 


life precisely due to the fact that it took an idealist view 
of historical development, confining itself to ideological 
social relations. With that kind of approach bourgeois his- 
torians and sociologists naturally “could not observe recur- 
rence and regularity in the social phenomena of the various 
countries, and their science was at best only a description 
of these phenomena, a collection of raw material’’.! 

By discovering the material basis of social life, and iden- 
tifying the sum total of relations of production as society’s 
economic structure, historical materialism made it pos- 
sible, as Lenin said, “to apply to these relations that gen- 
eral scientific criterion of recurrence whose applicability to 
sociology the subjectivists denied”.2 This analysis of ma- 
terial social relations made it possible to reveal the recur- 
rence of events and generalise the social systems in various 
countries into the basic concept of socio-economic 

What is a socio-economic formation? It is a definite stage 
in social development, a definite type of society. There has 
been a succession of types of society: the primitive-com- 
munal system, the historically first type of society, was 
replaced by the slave-owning system which was_ subse- 
quently succeeded by feudalism; as a result of long devel- 
opment, feudalism turned into capitalism which is now 
giving way to communism whose first stage is socialism. 
Each of these societies is a definite socio-economic forma- 
tion, or, as Marx put it, “a society at a definite stage of 
historical development, a society with a peculiar, distinc- 
tive character” 3 

The concept of socio-economic formation synthesises the 
most important, determinative features of a socio-economic 
system in various countries at the same stage of historical 
development. Therefore it provides the criterion of re- 
currence in the history of society; this concept reflects 
what is common to various countries passing through the 
same stage of historical development. 

Each socio-economic formation is a_ specific social 
organism in which all elements are interconnected and 
interconditioned. It is wrong, therefore, arbitrarily to play up 

1 Lenin, Collected Works, Vol. 1, p. 140. 

2 Tbid. 
3 Marx and Engels, Selected Works, Vol. I, p. 90. 


or combine various aspects of social life, disregarding their 
organic interconnection. Marxism views society “as a living 
organism in a state of constant development (and not as 
something mechanically concatenated and therefore per- 
mitting all sorts of arbitrary combinations of separate 
social elements), an organism the study of which requires 
an objective analysis of the production relations that con- 
stitute the given social formation and an investigation of 
its laws of functioning and development” .! 

Each socio-economic formation is based on a definite 
mode of production characterised by its own productive 
forces and relations of production. The productive forces 
of society are the means of production created by it, above 
all the implements of labour, and also the men who set 
them in motion and produce the material wealth. On the 
basis of definite productive forces there arise, as we shall 
see in the following chapter, relations of production, ice., 
economic relations between men—the other side of the 
mode of production. It is these relations of production, 
their definite type, that chiefly characterise the distin- 
guishing features of each formation. 

But that does not mean that a socio-economic formation 
is reduced to the economic structure of society. Writing 
about Marx’s Capital, Lenin said that the investigation of 
relations of production in their development make up the 
skeleton of that work. The whole point is, Lenin added, 
that Marx did not stop at the skeleton but clothed it in 
flesh and blood; he traced superstructures corresponding 
to the relations of production and as a result Capital 
“showed the whole capitalist social formation to the reader 
as a living thing—with its everyday aspects, with the 
actual social manifestation of the class antagonism in- 
herent in production relations, with the bourgeois political 
superstructure that protects the rule of the capitalist class, 
with the bourgeois ideas of liberty, equality and so forth, 
with the bourgeois family relationships” 2 

Thus, the concept of socio-economic formation em- 
braces all aspects of society’s life at a definite stage of its 

! Lenin, Collected Works, Vol. 1, p. 165. 
2 [bid., pp. 141-42. 


Each socio-economic formation has its own specific laws 
of development which are distinct from those of the other 
formations. This is particularly evident in the contempo- 
rary epoch when communism, a new socio-economic for- 
mation, is coming to replace capitalism. As socialism takes 
the place of capitalism, the following economic laws of the 
latter cease to operate: the anarchy of production, the in- 
evitability of economic crises, and so forth. They give way 
to new economic laws peculiar to socialism, such as the 
law of planned and proportional development, etc. This 
applies not only to economic laws, for with the elimination 
of antagonistic classes the law of class struggle inherent 
in earlier class socio-economic formations also ceases to 

With a knowledge of the laws governing the development 
of socio-economic formations, it is possible to predict the 
direction which various countries will take as they pass 
through definite stages of economic life. 

When Russia entered the capitalist stage in the second 
half of the 19th century, the Russian Marxists foresaw 
that she would not be able to avoid the class differentia- 
tion and the ruination of the peasantry, or the periodic 
economic crises and other phenomena accompanying the 
capitalist mode of production. Of course, capitalism has its 
specific features in each country, depending on the pecu- 
liarities of its historical environment, national conditions, 
etc. However, the operation of the basic laws of capitalism 
is in evidence in all countries at the capitalist stage of 

In this context, it will be easily seen that the assertions 
that history consists of unique events alone is not true. Of 
course, an event like the 1789 revolution in France is unique, 
but bourgeois revolutions, one of which was the 1789 
revolution, have been recurring. Marxism disclosed the 
bourgeois essence of the democratic reforms which took 
place in France in the 18th and 19th centuries and in other 
countries as well. All countries, which have gone through 
the period of decline in the feudal mode of production and 
the emergence of the capitalist mode of production, passed 
through bourgeois revolutions. They took place in dif- 
ferent historical conditions and differed from one another, 
but that does not conflict with the fact that they revealed 


4 general historical regularity, namely, that the transition 
from feudalism to capitalism is effected through bourgeois 

The assertion that history consists of solitary and abso- 
lutely individual, non-recurrent events is just as false as 
the opposite view that all of history tends to repeat itself. 
Actually, every historical event is a unity of the recurrent 
and the non-recurrent. It appears to be unique in its indi- 
vidual concrete features. Take the chain of events which 
led to the victory of the October Socialist Revolution in 
Russia: the dual power; the July demonstration and its 
fusillade by the Provisional Government; the Kornilov re- 
volt; the Bolshevisation of the Soviets, etc.—in that partic- 
ular sequence it will never recur anywhere. But in all 
these events there are those features which, with corre- 
sponding modifications, may be repeated in other historical 
conditions. Taking the most essential features, which de- 
termined the inevitability of the October Socialist Revolu- 
tion—the growth of contradictions between the productive 
forces and the obsolete capitalist relations of produc- 
tion; the sharpening of the conflict between labour and 
capital; the growth of influence of the proletariat and the 
majority of the working and exploited people taking its 
side, etc—we shall find a manifestation of the general 
laws in the development of socialist revolution, which 
operate in other proletarian revolutions as well. 

Thus, in spite of the individual features and unique 
aspects of historical events, it is possible to find recurrence 
in history as well, and consequently, to discover the general 
laws governing the development of events. A denial of 
such recurrence is tantamount to a denial of social science 

In conclusion, let us look at yet another question relat- 
ing to the understanding of the nature of the laws of 
social science, namely, the specific features of these laws 
as compared with those in natural science. 

Above we showed the futility of the efforts to counter- 
pose the science of society and that of nature. But one 
should not go from one extreme to another, that is, to 
identify the laws investigated by these sciences. There is 
a qualitative distinction between the laws of social life 
and the laws of nature. 


Of course, there are some general laws which operate 
in both spheres. They are laws of dialectics, such as the 
law of the unity and conflict of opposites, which reveals 
the internal source of development. But these laws mani- 
fest themselves differently in the various spheres of reality. 
The material world passes through a series of stages in its 
development, and “at each stage different laws, i.e., dif- 
ferent phenomenal forms of the same universal motion, pre- 
dominate”.! Each sphere of phenomena and each form of 
motion has its own concrete laws. 

Hluman society also has its own laws. Therefore the 
laws of natural science which may be of very extensive 
significance (such as the law of the conservation and 
transformation of energy), cannot explain social phe- 
nomena. Man’s historical development is guided by special 
laws inherent only in human society. 

Attempts to explain social development by natural laws 
are doomed to failure. Their mechanical application to 
social phenomena gravely distorts the essence of these 
phenomena and leads to highly reactionary conclusions. 

Many politicians and scholars have tried and are trying 
to explain social development by biological laws. The well- 
known English sociologist Herbert Spencer tried to draw 
an analogy between the development of society and that of 
a biological organism. He explained the origin of classes by 
an analogy with the separation of tissue in an organism 
into the external and internal layers. The external relations 
in society produce the army, the government and the ruling 
classes, just as in the organism the exoderm produces the 
skin and the nervous system. The class of subordinates, 
workers in agriculture and industry, said Spencer, corre- 
sponded to the internal tissues of the organism. The classes 
engaged in manual labour play the same role in discharg- 
ing the function of maintaining the life of society as the 
component parts of the surface of the digestive tract play 
in the maintenance of the living body. His followers fre- 
quently went to even greater absurdities. The French so- 
ciologist R. Worms compared the police and the prisons 
with the kidneys and the sudoriferous glands: both, he 
said, removed waste from the organism. For all their 

{ Frederick Engels, Dialectics of Nature, Moscow, 1966, p. 239. 

absurdity, these assertions have a certain class bias. After all, 
if classes correspond to biological organs, then class divi- 
sion of society is “natural” and is an unalterable law, while 
the class struggle is “abnormal”: can hands and feet “rebel” 
against the head? 

Equally reactionary are the attempts to apply Darwin’s 
“struggle for existence” to social life. The advocates of 
“social Darwinism” insist that the struggle for existence, 
with the survival of the fittest, lies at the basis of human 
history. The poverty of the working people under capital- 
ism, the ruin of the small farmers and craftsmen and the 
unemployment among the workers are declared to be a 
“Jaw of nature”, an inevitable effect of the struggle for 
existence between individuals, while wars are said to be a 
result of the struggle for existence between nations or races. 
In reality, however, the poverty of the working people 
and unemployment of the proletariat are due to the laws 
of the capitalist mode of production and not to any “eter- 
nal laws of nature”. Wars are provoked not by biological 
but by social causes. 

Marx and Engels long ago proved the absurdity of the 
attempts to apply biological laws to social phenomena. The 
Darwinian idea of “struggle for life’, which has a definite 
meaning for plant and animal life, becomes an empty phrase 
when applied to human society. In a letter to Kugelmann 
Marx wrote: “Herr Lange ... has made a great discovery. 
The whole of history can be brought under a single great 
natural law. This natural law is the phrase (in this appli- 
cation Darwin’s expression becomes nothing but a phrase) 
‘struggle for life’, and the content of this phrase is the Mal- 
thusian law of population or, rather, overpopulation. So, 
instead of analysing the ‘struggle for life’ as represented 
historically in various definite forms of society, all that has 
to be done is to translate every concrete struggle into the 
phrase ‘struggle for life’, and this phrase itself into the 
Malthusian ‘population fantasy’. One must admit that this 
is a very impressive method—for swaggering, sham-scien- 
tific, bombastic ignorance and intellectual laziness.’’! 

The absurdity of attempts to apply biological laws to 

4 Marx and Engels, Selected Correspondence, Moscow, 1965, 
pp. 239-40. 


society is evident if only from the fact that man has a 
different relationship with nature than the animals. 

Animals adapt themselves to nature passively, whereas 
man actively changes his environment andi acts on nature 
with the aid of his implements of labour. Animals, at best, 
develop to the point of collecting the means of subsistence, 
whereas man produces them. This alone makes the appli- 
cation of the laws of animal life to human society 

The outstanding Russian Darwinist, Klimenty Timirya- 
zey, justly noted that “the theory of the struggle for ex- 
istence stops at the threshold of cultural history. The whole 
of man’s intelligent, cultural activity is a struggle against 
the struggle for existence’”’.! 

The empty “struggle for existence” catchword cannot 
explain the wealth of content in human history, nor can 
it provide the key to why a given social system gives way 
to a specific new system, and not to some other; why, for 
example, the capitalist system is supplanted by the social- 
ist system. 

What has been said about the inadmissibility of apply- 
ing biological laws to society also holds true for the 
attempts to explain historical development by the laws of 
mechanics, physics, etc. 

Thus, society is governed by its own laws which are 
based on the development of the modes of material pro- 
duction, which succeed each other over the centuries. 
These general laws of social development were discovered 
by the theory of historical materialism. 

4, Interaction of Historical Materialism 
with Other Social Sciences 

Ilistorical materialism is by far not the only social 
science. There are many other social sciences, including 
economic, juridical and aesthetic. 

Historical materialism is distinct from them primarily 
because it is the most general social science. It is a general 
theory of the historical process based on the investigation 

4K. Timiryazev, Works, Vol. V, Moscow, 1938, p. 426 (in Rus- 

3-360 33 


of the development of socio-economic formations, and is 
also a method for the cognition of social phenomena. 

The laws of historical materialism are general in a two- 
fold sense. First, they operate in all or in some of the 
socio-economic formations; second, they give expression 
to the relationships between the different spheres and 
aspects of the life of society as an integral organism. That 
is the chief difference between historical materialism and 
many other social sciences. 

Political economy studies one aspect of social life, the 
economic relations—relations of production, exchange and 
distribution of products; the juridical sciences study the 
state and law, political and juridical relationships between 
men; other sciences investigate various aspects of society’s 
spiritual life: aesthetics, the history of literature and _lit- 
erary criticism, pedagogics, etc. By contrast, historical ma- 
terialism discloses the connections between the various as- 
pects of social life; it shows, for instance, the connection 
between the economic system of society and the political 
institutions and ideological forms arising on that basis. In 
contrast to the particular social sciences, it deals with the 
development of society as a whole. 

It is true that one more social science makes a study 
of society as a whole and analyses the interaction of all its 
aspects. It is history proper. The well-known Soviet schol- 
ar Boris Grekov said that “a distinctive feature of history 
as a science is that it investigates the development of so- 
ciety as a whole, the aggregate of phenomena of social 
life, all its aspects in their interconnection and intercondi- 

But it is the task of history to reflect and explain the 
course of events in all its concreteness, diversity and de- 
tail; historical materialism, on the other hand, is a theo- 
retical science, whose task is not to describe the course of 
events but to discover the general laws governing the 
concrete developments in the life of all peoples. 

The laws studied by the concrete social sciences operate 
in various spheres of social life: economics, state, morals, 
etc. The laws of historical materialism characterise social 

1 Great Soviet Encyclopaedia, Second Ed., Vol. 19, p. 28 (in Rus- 


development as interconnection and interrelation between 
the various aspects of social life, for instance, social being 
and social consciousness, economics and politics, etc. 

In that context, there are the general law of class strug- 
gle, although it does not operate in every formation, and 
the general law of social revolution, although social revo- 
lutions will no longer take place with the transition to a 
classless society. The law of class struggle says that in so- 
cieties divided into antagonistic classes “all historical strug- 
gles, whether they proceed in the political, religious, phil- 
osophical or some other ideological domain, are in fact 
only the more or less clear expression of struggles of so- 
cial classes, and that the existence and thereby the colli- 
sions, too, between these classes are in turn conditioned 
by the degree of development of their economic position, 
by the mode of their production and of their exchange 
determined by it”.! The law of social revolution also em- 
braces the changes taking place in various spheres of social 
life: economics, politics and ideology; social revolution is 
a fundamental change in all these spheres of social life 
which takes place when one socio-economic formation 
gives way to a higher one. 

What then is the relationship between the general laws 
of social development and the laws governing the 
development of various aspects of social life? 

Each socio-economic formation is a special social organ- 
ism which originates, develops and passes into a_ higher 
formation in accordance with its own laws. The laws gov- 
erning the development of various aspects of social life 
can be understood only if they are examined as part of 
a whole, in connection with general laws, bearing in mind 
that the decisive influence on social development is exer- 
cised by the movement of the economy, which ultimately 
determines the direction of historical progress. 

That is a genuinely scientific approach to the study of 
specific laws, and it is antipodal to the approach of mod- 
ern “microsociology”, which does not regard society as 
an integral organism, but as a conglomeration of hetero- 
geneous social phenomena. Very often, the “microsociol- 
ogists” study insignificant and very minor aspects of 

1 Marx and Engels, Selected Works, Vol. I, p. 246. 
3* 35 

social life. What is most important, however, is that the 
examination of these aspects in isolation from the whole 
leads to absolutely unscientific conclusions. The research 
into specifics by many “microsociologists” turns into a 
means of distracting attention from the main tendencies 
of contemporary social development and its class contra- 
dictions, and of glossing them over. Lenin’s criticism of 
Struve is fully applicable to such research: it is “a denial 
of science, a tendency to despise all generalisations, to hide 
from all the ‘laws’ of historical development, and make the 
trees screen the wood”! 

It does not follow from the criticism of “microsociology” 
that Marxists deny the need to study the separate aspects 
of social life and social phenomena. On the contrary, they 
consider it very important. Empirical surveys are necessary 
and, given the right scientific approach, can be of great 
theoretical and practical value. But they can be very 
fruitful only if they take into account that each society is 
a living, continuously developing organism, whose study 
requires above all an objective analysis of the relations of 
production forming its economic foundation. 

In the countries of the socialist community social inves- 
tigations are a necessary element of scientific leadership 
in the building of new society. With their help it is possi- 
ble to study the development of modes of labour and life, 
democracy, the problems connected with the settling of 
people in towns and villages, the changes occurring in the 
psychology of various social groups, and other social proc- 
esses. The 23rd Congress of the C.P.S.U. noted that socio- 
logical investigations based on a materialistic understand- 
ing of history, and generalising concrete facts in the life 
of socialist society are playing an ever increasing role in 
the solution of practical, political, production and educa- 
tional problems. 

These investigations are a practical application of the 
method of historical materialism to the study of concrete 
social processes. Since historical materialism is a science 
of the human society and of the laws of its development, 
it sets forth general sociological theory. 

Historical materialism views society as an integral struc- 

4 Lenin, Collected Works, Vol. 20, p. 199. 

ture, a system of relations binding social groups, classes 
and people which are the vehicles of these relations, and 
studies society and all its components in their historical 
development and in their actual contradictions. 

Modern philosophical and special scientific literature 
published in bourgeois countries (France, in particular) 
has been extensively playing up the sfructural analysis 
method in recent years. The purpose of this method is to 
analyse the structures of given social phenomena, whose 
clements, separate facts and developments acquire mean- 
ing and significance only as aspects of a definite totality, 
as elements of a specific system. Needless to say, there is 
a rational grain in this method, and historical materialism 
does not deny the need to examine different social struc- 
tures and their components in their connection and 

On the whole, however, this method as it is developed 
by its authors (C. Lévi-Strauss, M. Foucalt and J. Lacant) 
cannot be regarded as a universal and genuine method of 
scientific analysis of social phenomena. First, it does not 
show historical development; secondly, it leaves the inter- 
nal contradictions in social phenomena in the shadow, 
ignoring class struggle; thirdly, it ignores the active role 
played by man in history. 

Such shortcomings and limitations are alien to the meth- 
od of historical materialism which opens broad vistas for 
a scientific study of social structures, and which is based 
on the analysis of concrete social phenomena, occurrences 
and so forth. Concrete sciences (such as law, history of 
art, etc.) study particular aspects of social life and separate 
social phenomena, but they can discover the laws govern- 
ing the development of these phenomena only by under- 
standing their place in the life of society as a whole and 
by recognising the general laws of social development. The 
historian who rejects these laws will remain a collector of 
facts; he finds it difficult to discover the interconnections 
between cause and effect in history and can do nothing 
more than describe it. Historical materialism gives social 
sciences a scientific method of cognition, and the Party of 
the working class and the progressive forces of society 
a correct method of action and_ struggle for social 


5. Historical Materialism 
and the Struggle for Social Progress 

Knowledge of the laws of social development above all 
makes it possible to take a correct approach to the analy- 
sis of the concrete historical situation and to predict the 
course of events. Thanks to scientific prognostication it is 
possible not to grope in the dark but to fight consciously 
for social progress and to chart the surest way to the 
attainment of this goal. 

Characteristically, many modern non-Marxist sociologists 
who deny the possibility of knowing the laws of social de- 
velopment and their very existence, also deny the possi- 
bility of predicting social developments. They say that the 
future is irrational and cannot be known. 

Their assertions that the future cannot be scientifically 
predicted are aimed primarily against the conclusion of 
Marxism that the collapse of capitalism and the triumph 
of communism are inevitable. More than a hundred years 
ago Marx advanced the thesis that capitalist society was 
doomed and that it would be inevitably supplanted by so- 
cialism. Today, already a third of mankind has eliminated 
capitalism and is building a new world, in which there 
will be neither exploitation nor oppression. It is not sur- 
prising that there are people who even if unable to prevent 
the inevitable collapse of the old society are with it heart 
and soul and turn their backs on the future. They console 
themselves and assure others that the course of events 
cannot be predicted, that the future cannot be cognised and 
that it can only be an object of faith but not of knowl- 

Yet practice shows that the future can be predicted by 
studying the trends in the development of the present. 
People who are building the future always solve problems 
which the present brings up before them. To disclose the 
contradictions of the present epoch is to indicate ways 
for overcoming them in the future. It goes without saying 
that there may be a great diversity of concrete forms for 
overcoming these contradictions. Many concrete phenome- 
na, which cannot be predicted at any given time in preced- 
ing history, appear in the course of social progress, but 
that does nct preclude the possibility for discovering the 


basic trends, the direction in which society will develop 
in the future. 

Prediction of social development is quite possible but 
it has its specific features distinguishing it from the pre- 
diction of natural processes. One should not imagine prog- 
nostications in the social sciences as being similar to those 
in astronomy, where the scientist, knowing the period of a 
comet’s rotation, can forecast its appearance centuries 

In his Materialism and Empirio-Criticism Lenin said 
that each individual producer introduces some change into 
social being, however insignificant. ‘““The sum total of these 
changes in all their ramifications in the capitalist world 
economy could not be grasped even by seventy Marxes. 
The most important thing is that the Jaws of these changes 
have been discovered, that the objective logic of these 
changes and of their historical development has in its chief 
and basic features been disclosed. ...””! 

Once the logic of economic evolution and its laws have 
been discovered, it is possible to predict the direction of 
social development and its resulis. But that does not yet 
give us the possibility of forecasting all the individual 
facts which make up the objectively necessary chain of 

When in 1918, the “Left” Communists objected to the 
conclusion of a peace treaty with Germany, thereby expos- 
ing the young Soviet Republic to an attack by German im- 
perialism, they covered up their policy with the superficial 
prophecy that a revolution was bound to take place in Ger- 
many “within the next few days”. Lenin replied to them: 
“That the socialist revolution in Europe must come, and 
will come, is beyond doubt.... It would be a mistake, 
however, to base the tactics of the Russian socialist govern- 
ment on attempts to determine whether or not the Euro- 
pean, and especially the German, socialist revolution will 
take place in the next six months (or some such brief pe- 
riod). Inasmuch as it is quite impossible to determine this, 
all such attempts, objectively speaking, would be nothing 
but a blind gamble.’ 

1 Lenin, Collected Works, Vol. 14, p. 325. 
2 [bid., Vol. 26, pp. 443-44. 


In his report at the Seventh Party Congress, Lenin iron- 
ically told the “Left” Communists: “It will be a good 
thing if the German proletariat is able to take action. But 
have you measured it, have you discovered an instrument 
that will show that the German revolution will break out 
on such-and-such a day?”! 

Social science does not possess such an instrument, andi 
can never have one. It gives us the means for predicting 
the main direction of social development which of neces- 
sity springs from its laws, but cannot predict all the 
individual events or their precise dates. 

Does that mean that the concrete events and their dates 
are a closed book, and that we can never foreknow them 
under any circumstances? 

No, that would be wrong altogether. 

It is impossible to know the date of events when they 
are only just coming to a head, but once they begin to take 
shape, a correct analysis of the situation and the balance 
of class forces can help to determine their dates, some- 
times with great precision. An illustration of this is Lenin’s 
forecast of the victory of the October Revolution. Of course, 
no one, including Lenin, could have predicted, right 
after the February revolution, that the socialist revolution 
would take place in October. But after the July events, 
when Orjonikidze visited Lenin who was in hiding, he 
heard the leader of the revolution express confidence that 
the armed uprising would take place no later than Septem- 
ber or October. When events finally brought the country 
to that historical dateline, Lenin, in his famous letter to 
the Central Committee, written on October 24, declared 
that the uprising should take place that day, for tomorrow 
it would be too late. 

History is made by the millions. That is why, says 
Lenin, it is always much richer in content, more diverse, 
more comprehensive, more lively and more “cunning” than 
the best parties and the most conscious vanguards of the 
most advanced classes imagine. 

The revolutionary working-class party can make a scien- 
tific analysis of social life and determine the main tenden- 
cies of its development, but the concrete development of 

! Lenin, Collected Works, Vol. 27, p. 102. 

events, the course of the struggle depend on the activity 
of millions of men, which always brings in new and 
creative elements. 

Hence, the Marxist party, if it is to exercise genuine 
leadership in the struggle of the working class and the 
broad masses of working people, must strengthen its ties 
with the people, rely on their experience and make a 
careful study of life. 

Opportunists frequently contrast experience with theory. 
The adherents of “inductive socialism’, for example, lay 
special emphasis on current experience, which they dec- 
lare to be something absolutely unique and quite distinct 
from the experience of the past or what might be in the 
future. Karl Renner, a leader of ‘“‘Austromarxists”, declared: 
“Experience is primary, determinative and new every 
day; it is something which had not existed in this form 
before. That is why science must always be guided by ex- 
perience, correcting itself in accordance with it. No science 
in the world could have predicted Lenin’s great experi- 
ment, any more than the experimentator himself could 
have predicted it. New experience, each new experiment, 
extends and modifies science. It would be wrong for us to 
base ourselves on the data obtained by science and try to 
determine what we would learn in the future and how we 
should act. That is decided only by the hour and the 

Renner reduces the correct idea that science must be 
guided by experience, which amends our theoretical no- 
tions, to a completely false extremity, to a negation of the 
science of society and the possibility of scientific prognos- 
tication. He clearly distorts history when he says that 
Lenin’s great “experiment”, as he calls the October Revo- 
lution, was not foreseen by its organiser himself. On the 
contrary, the experience of the Great October Socialist Rev- 
olution shows that the revolutionary party, equipped with 
Marxism, is capable of predicting and directing the main 
course of events. But the whole point is that Renner tries 
to deny the universal significance of that experience and 

{ K. Renner, “Ist der Marxismus Ideologie oder Wissenschaft?” in 
Der Kampf, Wien, Juni, 1928, Jahrgang XXI. Heft 6, S. 252. 


to undermine its international value.! That is why he 
adopts the relativist attitude that every experience is valid 
for the current day only. But that is a typical feature of 
opportunism which wholly subordinates practice to the 
present moment and turns its back on the future. 

In contrast to opportunism, Marxism-Leninism has al- 
ways insisted and continues to insist on the possibility and 
necessity of predicting the course of history, and of taking 
account of the tendencies of historical development, which 
is a sine qua non in working out a correct policy, strategy 
and tactics by the revolutionary party. The art of leader- 
ship in the class struggle of the proletariat rests on the 
Party’s skill in discovering, in good time, the tendencies 
of social development and organising and directing the 
masses in accordance with them. 

The Marxist prediction of the course of social develop- 
ment is based on the skilful application of theory to the 
analysis of concrete historical situations. But this calls for 
more than just a knowledge of the laws of social develop- 
ment; it is also necessary to take into account the way 
these laws are manifested in concrete conditions, in the 
highly wicker work of various factors influencing the 
course of events. 

In each capitalist country Marxists have to take into 
account both the common features of capitalism, which 
are the same in all countries, and the specific peculiarities 
inherent in a given country. 

In his famous work “Left-Wing” Communism—an In- 
fantile Disorder Lenin explained that the joint interna- 
tionalist tactics of the Communist Parties demands not a 
stereotyped approach, not disregard for national distinc- 
tions, but such an application of the fundamental prin- 
ciples of communism as will correctly modify these princi- 
ples in particulars, correctly adapt them to national and 
nation-state distinctions. 

Such presentation of the problem rests on the recogni- 
tion that the same common laws operate in all capitalist 

4 In the article quoted above, Renner declared that there must 
be “as many socialisms as there are states and countries on earth” 
(p. 247), and in a later pamphlet, Die Neue Welt und der Sozialismus, 
he said that not only each country but each time has its own “specific 
Marxism”. (K. Renner, Die neue Welt und der Sozialismus, 1945, S. 9.) 




countries and that they operate in their own way in each 
individual country. The result of this is that “while the 
development of world history as a whole follows general 
laws, it is by no means precluded, but, on the contrary, 
presumed, that certain periods of development may display 
peculiarities in either the form or the sequence of this 

The same applies to the laws of socialism. The laws of 
the establishment and development of socialism just as 
the laws of the development of capitalism are the same for 
all peoples. Therefore, the attempts of the revisionists to 
proclaim that each country could move towards socialism 
in accordance with its own specific laws were absolutely 
groundless and frequently were nothing more than an 
expression of their nationalistic ambitions. 

Obviously, there is no denying the existence of specific 
features in the development of individual countries, nor 
ignoring the concrete historical situation in which differ- 
ent countries are building socialism. But these peculiari- 
ties do not preclude the fundamental laws governing the 
transition from capitalism to socialism. 

The laws of development of socialism are objective; they 
cannot be established subjectively or arbitrarily, but are 
determined by objective conditions themselves and, there- 
fore, are basically the same for all peoples. At the same 
time these laws cannot be applied in a stereotyped manner, 
which is typical of dogmatism. Dogmatists frequently at- 
tempt to impose on other countries the tactics which they 
earlier applied in their country. If, for example, a revolu- 
tion in a particular country was accomplished after a pro- 
longed period of armed struggle, the dogmatists consider 
that this is the only correct road for all other countries 
and in doing so disregard their specific features and the 
concrete historical situation. This approach frequently 
leads to nationalism, to imposing the peculiarities of their 
country on other parties. 

Consequently, it is necessary to be able to draw a line 
between what is really common in the experience of a 
particular country and that which is specific. The possibi- 
litv of other countries applying the experience of a country 

1 Lenin, Collected Works, Vol. 33, p. 477. 

which has overtaken them in historical development is 
explained by the fact that general laws, which are the same 
in all countries that go through identical stages of devel- 
opment, operate in history. But this experience must 
always be applied creatively, with due consideration for 
the way general laws operate in individual countries. 

In his work “Left-Wing” Communism—an Infantile 
Disorder Lenin stressed that a Communist Party “must act 
on scientific principles. Science demands, first, that the 
experience of other countries be taken into account, espe- 
cially if these other countries, which are also capitalist, 
are undergoing, or have recently undergone, a very similar 
experience; second, it demands that account be taken of 
all the forces, groups, parties, classes and masses operating 
in a given country, and also that policy should not be de- 
termined by the desires and views, by the degree of class 
consciousness and the militancy of one group or party 
alone” .! 

The position of the Marxists is equally far removed from 
the views of dreamers divorced from life and from the 
stand of mere recorders of the spontaneous course of 

The first and chief feature of the strategy and tactics 
of the Marxist party is that it always rests on a precise 
analysis of the objective conditions and is alien to any 
kind of subjectivism. Lenin said: “Tactics must be based 
on a sober and strictly objective appraisal of all the class 
forces in a particular state (and of the states that surround 
it, and of all states the world over) as well as of the expe- 
rience of revolutionary movements.’’? A strict considera- 
tion of the objective conditions and the correlation of class 
forces is the first requirement of realistic policy. Lenin 
always taught not to indulge in wishful thinking and to 
reckon with the actual conditions in all cases. 

That was why he carried on such an insistent struggle 
against “Leftist” phrase-mongering, which was quite ca- 
pable of ruining the revolution. The chief vice of the ‘“Lef- 
tists” is unwillingness to reckon with the actual conditions; 
they refuse to take into account the objective conditions, 

4 Lenin, Collected Works, Vol. 31, pp.-80-81. 
2 Thid., p. 63. 


on which the possibility of solving the various problems 
depends, or the level of the revolutionary spirit among 
the masses, taking their own revolutionary impatience for 
the masses’ readiness to act. 

The theoretical basis of the “Leftist” deviations is sub- 
jectivism, a departure from the materialist view of history, 
which the “Leftists” frequently replace by the idealist 
theory of violence. They care little whether society’s econ- 
omy is mature enough for this or that transformation, 
and imagine that the absence of economic conditions may 
be replaced by revolutionary fervour and will-power. Anar- 
chists, Blanquists, for example, insisted that a_ well- 
organised minority could carry out a revolution by bold, 
resolute and violent action, regardless of whether or not a 
revolutionary situation existed in the country. Criticising 
these views of Bakunin, Marx wrote: “He understands ab- 
solutely nothing about the social revolution and is famil- 
iar only with political phrases about it. Its economic pre- 
requisites do not exist for him.... It is volition and not 
economic conditions that form the basis of his social 

Subjectivism inevitably leads to adventurism in politics, 
as Lenin showed in his criticism of the “Left” Communists 
in 1918 and later of the Trotskyites, etc. 

The philosophical basis of “Left” revisionism is idealism, 
which ascribes to ideas the determining role in social devel- 
opment, and slides down to subjectivist positions; the phil- 
osophical basis of Right-wing opportunism is usually vul- 
gar materialism, which recognises the determining role of 
economic conditions in the life of society, but denies the 
activity of the subjective factor and its influence on the 
course of social development. 

The founders of Marxism-Leninism also condemned this 
stand most resolutely. Lenin always fought against those 
who vulgarised Marxist materialism and minimised the 
significance of progressive ideas in social development. Here 
is an example. In 1908 the Menshevik Cherevanin published 
a book entitled The Present Situation and the Possible 
Future, in which he advocated a policy of splitting hairs 

'K. Marx, F. Engels, Werke, Bd. 18, Dietz Verlag, Bertin, 
1962, S. 633. 

with regard to the existing conditions and tried to nullify 
the role of progressive ideas. He wrote: “Of course, the 
boldest projects can be worked out in the belief that ideas 
can of themselves win over anyone for anything. But the 
materialist view of social phenomena mercilessly clips the 


wings of such flights of fancy.’ Lenin underscored this 
sentence and wrote in the margin: ‘What a castrate!’’! 

Only those ideas and policies are barren which are 
divorced from the life of society and which ignore the objec- 
tive conditions. But if a party, which is fighting for social 
progress, takes into account the objective conditions and 
sets itself realistic tasks, it becomes a great mobilising force 
capable of organising the masses and playing a tremendous 
role in the transformation of reality. 

Historical materialism does not deny the large role of 
the subjective factor in social development; on the con- 
trary, it acknowledges and scientifically explains it. The 
role of the subjective factor naturally increases in some 
historical epochs, a fact which is also of exceptional im- 
portance for elaborating the correct strategy and tactics 
in the various periods of the struggle for social progress. 

The role of the subjective factor is especially enhanced 
in the conditions of socialism and communism, when the 
spontaneous development of society gives way to a con- 
sciously directed development. It now acquires an unpre- 
cedented function in history, that of directing social devel- 
opment in accordance with the objective laws and the de- 
mands of social progress flowing from them, and effecting 
systematic changes in the conditions of men’s lives and 
their social being. 

The 23rd Congress of the C.P.S.U. underlined the need 
to ensure scientific management of all economic and social 
affairs. This can be effected provided all objective condi- 
tions as well as the laws governing social development are 
strictly taken into account. Such management is incom- 
patible with any manifestations of subjectivism. Subjectiv- 
ism is just as intolerable in solving the tasks of communist 
construction as is the let-things-ride attitude or sponta- 
neity in the advance towards communism. ‘The C.P.S.U., 
being a party of scientific communism, proposes and ful- 

1 Lenin Miscellany XXVI, Moscow, 1934, p. 403 (in Russian). 

fils the tasks of communist construction in step with the 
preparation and maturing of the material and_ spiritual 
prerequisites, considering that it would be wrong to jump 
over necessary stages of development, and that it would 
be cqually wrong to halt at an achieved level and thus 
check progress,” says the Programme of the C.P.S.U.! The 
C.P.S.U. regards the gradual development of socialism into 
communism as an objective Jaw and = shapes its policy 

Historical materialism is a scientific basis for the poli- 
cies of the Marxist parties, which can, as Lenin put it, com- 
bine the greatest passion in the great revolutionary strug- 
gle with the utmost equanimity and sobriety in taking the 
objective situation into account. Therein lies the excep- 
tional practical importance of historical materialism in the 
fight for social progress. 

' The Road to Communism, p. 512. 

Chapter II 


Among the laws of social development a highly impor- 
tant place is occupied by the law according to which the 
progress of society is in the final count determined by 
changes in, and improvement of, production. The produc- 
tion of material wealth necessary for the life of men—food, 
clothes, dwellings, etc.—is the first and the most essential 
condition for the existence of society. The growth and de- 
velopment of production are also a condition of society’s 
progressive development. This proposition is corroborated 
by the entire history of the emergence and the subsequent 
development of human society. 

1. Emergence of Human Society 
and Social Production 

Science has incontestably proved that the human race 
has a natural biological origin. It appeared during the evo- 
lution of the animal world in the beginning of the Quar- 
ternary period. The biological basis of the first men was 
an extinct species of anthropoids, i.e., manlike apes. 

At the end of the Tertiary there were several species of 
anthropoids, including both the forefathers of the modern 
man and those of the modern anthropoids (the chimpan- 
zee, orang-utan, gorilla and gibbon). They were distinct 
from each other both as regards their morphological and 
physiological qualities and their mode of life. Among all 
anthropoids man’s forefathers were the least specialised; 
they had already learned to walk upright on two feet and 
lived on the ground, whereas the forefathers of the modern 


chimpanzee and other apes were to a large extent arboreal. 
Subsequently they developed long hands and short legs 
and became adapted to climbing. Today anthropoids 
(orang-utan and others) are specialised to such a degree 
that in accordance with the operation of the law of 
evolution the path to their humanisation is barred 

The development of man’s forefathers became possible 
owing to two conditions: their gathering into more or less 
stable herds and the appearance of primary forms of la- 
bour. The variety of articles of consumption increased con- 
siderably thanks to labour, even if its forms were embryon- 
ic. By living in herds man’s forefathers could in some meas- 
ure protect themselves against the attacks of individually 
stronger beasts of prey and gradually turn to hunting large 
animals. In the process of evolution labour, as an es- 
sential means in the fight for existence and a factor sub- 
jected to natural selection, gradually turned into a factor 
influencing the operation of this general biological law. 
The struggle for existence forced the anthropoids ever more 
frequently to improve natural implements of labour and 
then begin making artificial ones. This meant that even 
if it was highly developed and manlike, the ape was begin- 
ning to turn into a human being. Labour “is the prime basic 
condition for all human existence, and this to such an 
extent that, in a sense, we have to say that labour created 
man himself”? 

Genuinely human Jabour, Engels wrote, begins with the 
making of tools. Man is a being that makes tools with the 
help of which he labours. “No simian hand has ever 
fashioned even the crudest of stone knives.” 

Archaeology authenticates that the hand adze was un- 
doubtedly the first product of human labour. This stone 
tool had a standard form. Reproduction of this tool ac- 
cording to existing models meant knowing it and having 
experience of making it; and knowledge and production 
experience can be preserved and handed down from gener- 
ation to generation only by a society, only by men work- 

! See John Lewis, Man and Evolution, London, Lawrence & 
Wishart, 1962. 

2 Marx and Engels, Selected Works, Vol. II, p. 80. 
3 Thid., p. 81. 

4-360 49 

ing in groups. “The appearance of the hand adze indicated 
a major step not only in the development of the productive 
activity but also in the sphere of relations between beings 
producing things. The appearance of a tool with a stable, 
standard form was impossible in an animal herd. It could 
have appeared only in a group which in some measure was 
already adapted to the needs of productive activity, only 
in a primitive human herd.”! 

The transition to the making of stone tools as a con- 
stant form of vital activity, the use of such a natural ele- 
ment as fire, and collective hunting for large animals pro- 
duced far-reaching changes in the biological nature of our 
apelike forefathers. Anthropology concludes that morpho- 
logically and physiologically (the size of the brain, the 
shape of the skull, the structure of the arms and the lar- 
ynx, etc.) they differed from the anthropoids. Labour 
decisively influenced the changes in the physical structure 
of the first man. The gradual perfection of the arms had 
a progressive effect on the whole human organism and 
stimulated the development of the brain. 

Because the viability of a herd directly depended on 
how experience was handed down from one generation to 
another, the first men were forced to make sure that their 
herd was united to maximum on the basis of production 
interests. To ensure production unity of the herd, it was 
necessary to bridle zoological individualism. The transfor- 
mation of a primate herd into a production community 
was a victory of the social over the biological. 

With the rise of the tribal system production and re- 
production of material wealth was concentrated within a 
tribe. As regards the reproduction of a particular tribe, it 
could take place only if there were close and even organic 
ties with another tribe. At first these relations were not 
regulated at all, but eventually definite types of marriage 
were evolved for the purpose of bringing them in order. 
Under the tribal system biological relations between sexes 
took the form of marriage-tamily relations. The human 
beginning was established for all times in this sphere of 
relations between men. 

1 y_ I. Semyonov, The Origin of Mankind, Nauka Publishers, Mos- 
cow, 1966, p. 185 (in Russian). 


Since the time when man assumed the appearance he 
has today, the further development of society no longer 
depended on his morphological or physiological changes, 
but exclusively on the improvement of his implements of 
production. Archaeologists unanimously note that some 
50,000-70,000 years ago there was a tremendous leap for- 
ward in the development of tools and economic branches 
due to the emergence of man with a modern physical 

2. Social Production and Geographical Environment 

We know from history that the production of material 
wealth on the whole is taking place on an extended basis 
despite temporary reversals. Of course, the scale, nature 
and rate of extended production change from generation 
to generation, depending on the level of the productive 
forces and the socio-economic system of society. Never- 
theless, at all stages it is indispensable for social develop- 
ment to draw more and more objects and forces of the 
surrounding nature into the production processes. Nature 
is an inexhaustible storehouse of implements of labour for 
men. In it they find the necessary substances and power 
for making articles of consumption and tools. The greater 
natural resources are used in the production of means of 
subsistence, the greater becomes man’s power over nature. 

Inasmuch as social production is inconceivable without 
interaction with nature and nature itself is an objec- 
tive reality existing independently of human society and 
must be taken into account, it is necessary to ascertain 
how the surrounding nature influences social production. 

Geographical environment, the accepted term for the 
natural conditions in which society exists, includes relief, 
climate, water resources, soils, vegetable and animal life 
and mineral wealth. The territory of any country is a 
unique combination of these components. 

The territory, inhabited by a particular people owing to 
historical circumstances, forms part of natural conditions 
in which humanity as a whole is living and, therefore, is 
directly dependent on these conditions. The common 
natural environment for the whole of humanity is the planet 

Bk 51 

Earth in its relationship with other cosmic bodies, above 
all, the Sun. 

Yet, the concept “geographical environment” makes sense 
only if compared with society. Geographical environ- 
ment is historical, for it is changing ever since the appear- 
ance of man, both under the impact of natural terrestrial 
or cosmic causes and also as a result of the transforming 
activity of men. The changes that have occurred in geo- 
graphical environment may appear slight compared with 
the rate of historical development of the human society. 
Nevertheless, since the appearance of man it has under- 
gone substantial changes. Geology and geography disclose 
that even in the period of the existence of the Homo sapiens, 
ie., in the last 70,000-50,000 years, vast geological and 
geographical changes have taken place on earth.! In Euro- 
pe, for example, men lived through the last stage of the 
glacial period (known as the Glaciation) which ended ap- 
proximately 12,000 years ago. After the retreat of the gla- 
ciers, the European climate underwent considerable fluc- 
tuations. Science knows six post-glacial climatic periods: 
Arctic, sub-Arctic, Boreal (7,000-5,000 B.C.), Atlantic (5,000- 
3,000 B.C.), sub-Boreal (3,000-500 B.C.), and the  sub- 
Atlantic (which began approximately 500 B.C. and is still 
continuing). Seashores also changed their contours in this 
period. For instance, only 6,000-7,000 years have elapsed 
since the Black Sea last joined the Mediterranean through 

But however great are the changes that have occurred 
in the geographical environment owing to natural causes, 
they are not comparable with the changes that were 
ushered in some 8,000-9,000 years ago by the appearance 
of cropping and livestock breeding. With the development 
of these branches of agriculture and of crafts man turned 
into an active builder of nature surrounding him. The rate 
at which geographical environment changed due to human 
activity began to increase sharply since the close of the 
18th century, ie., after the Industrial Revolution in 
England. Previously, owing to the relatively slow changes 
in the geographical environment, people of one generation 

1 See G. Tushinsky, Space and the Rhythm of Terrestrial Nature, 
Moscow, Prosveshcheniye Publishing House, 1966 (in Russian). 


perceived the surrounding nature as basically invariable, 
but in the 19th and particularly in the 20th centuries 
people witnessed gigantic transformations in geographical 
environment which took place during their lifetime only 
as a result of industrial development and the employment 
of machines in agriculture. 

It follows from the above that geographical environment 
today is not some sort of “pure” nature, nor the result of 
the operation of natural laws alone. The present geograph- 
ical environment is also a result of preceding human 
activity, of the colossal labour effort of the earlier gener- 
ations. Consequently, it is a result of the interaction of 
natural and social laws. 

The influence of the natural environment on_ social 
production is above all the influence of those components 
of the geographical environment which in one or another 
way are included in man’s production activity either as 
conditions of production or as an object of labour, or as 
a particular type of energy. But the nature of the influence 
of these components varies at different levels of social 

In the primitive-communal, slave-owning or feudal 
systems the most important role in promoting the economic 
development of the country was played by those elements 
of the geographical environment which formed the natural 
basis of agriculture and the production of the means of 
consumption. But with the emergence of the capitalist 
mode of production primary importance was attached to 
the natural wealth of the means of labour, i.e., those 
elements of the geographical environment which made up 
the natural basis for industry, the basis of the production 
of the means of production. For instance, the fact that 
Britain, France and Germany had considerable deposits 
of coal at the beginning of the Industrial Revolution 
undoubtedly accelerated their economic development. 
Japan, on the other hand, had no such deposits and this, 
of course, impeded her economic growth when she entered 
the capitalist stage of development. The exceptionally great 
diversity of natural conditions on the territory of the U.S.A. 
was unquestionably conducive to its swift transformation 
into the world’s industrially most advanced country. 
Needless to say, however. the leading role there was played 


by the social conditions favouring the rise of capitalism, 
which did not have to surmount such obstacles as the 
feudal system and its survivals that affected the develop- 
ment of European countries. 

At this juncture it is necessary to stress most 
emphatically that geographical environment promotes the 
economic development of a particular country not only to 
the extent of development of its productive forces but also 
to that of production relations. In 19th century Russia the 
diversity of geographical conditions was just as great as in 
the U.S.A., but owing to considerable survivals of serfdom 
in her economic system she lagged far behind the U.S.A. 
in economic growth rates. Today, Brazil’s natural resources, 
diversity of geographical conditions and prospected mineral 
deposits make her one of the leading countries in this 
respect. Moreover, she lies at a crossing of sea routes. Yet 
the Brazilian people cannot fully benefit from the advan- 
tages of her geographical environment because of her 
backward socio-economic and political system and her 
economic and political dependence on U.S. imperialism. 

There is a dynamic equilibrium between all the elements 
making up the geographical environment of a_ particular 
area. In their economic activity men adapt themselves to 
the established cycle of substances. Considering that the 
results of this activity automatically become a component 
of the geographical environment, the retroactive impact of 
this environment naturally depends on social conditions. 

The possibility of a more or less harmonious develop- 
ment both of the economy and the geographical environ- 
ment directly depends on the level of the productive forces 
and also on the nature of the socio-economic system. 
Under capitalism the domination of private ownership of 
the means of production inevitably leads to the spoliation 
of the natural resources. In their race for profits the 
capitalists are least of all concerned with the social conse- 
quences of their selfish intrusion into the law-governed 
cycle of substances in the natural environment. Violaton 
of the law of the dynamic equilibrium of the geographical 
environment leads to soil erosion, floods, droughts, and so 

The victory of socialism radically changes society’s 
attitude to the geographical environment. because social 


welfare becomes the goal of economic activity. Socialist 
ownership of the means of production and the planned 
organisation of economic life throughout the country make 
it possible efficiently to use natural resources and bridle 
the elements. But if this possibility is to be realised an 
appropriate economic policy is required. In any case there 
are conditions for gradually diminishing and reducing to 
the minimum the probability of the unforeseen conse- 
quences of men’s interference into natural processes that 
are detrimental to social production. 

Today, the level of development of the world’s 
productive forces is such that it is becoming possible to 
draw into production not only individual areas in some 
countries, but whole geographical zones on different 
continents; prospects are opening up for transforming not 
only separate areas of the land, but of the whole surface 
of the earth, including areas which owing to their harsh 
climate with difficulty yield to man’s purposive influence. 
It has long been proved that technically it is fully possible 
to inundate the Sahara, drain the Amazon area and change 
climatic conditions in Alaska. All this is not done because 
of social contradictions and the policy of the monopolies 
in developed capitalist countries. 

Since the rise of mankind, its natural environment 
became divided into ‘humanised’, i.e., transformed by 
society in one or another degree, and ‘unhumanised” parts. 
As society developed the sphere of “humanised” nature 
expanded and so did man’s contacts with that part of 
nature which was still out of reach of the production of 
material wealth. But despite the steadily growing power, 
depth and diversity of man’s action on the environment, 
it did not transcend terrestrial conditions until the mid- 
20th century. The nature surrounding mankind and _ its 
geographical environments basically coincided. 

But man’s flight into outer space ushered in the 
transformation of his natural surroundings from terrestrial 
into interplanetary environment and the expansion of 
contacts with the nature of the galaxy. Systematic space 
exploration in the interests of all men is possible only 
following the victory of communism. 

Thus, there is perpetual interaction between nature and 


The geographical environment, no doubt, greatly influ- 
ences social development, but it is not a force that 
determines it. All attempts to attribute the changes in, and 
the development of, society to the geographical environ- 
ment are unfounded. It is the development of social pro- 
duction that determines the changes in the relations 
between society and nature. 

3. Social Production and Population 

Extended reproduction of the means of production and 
articles of consumption makes it possible to draw increas- 
ing numbers of people into production activity and at the 
same time requires more and more labour power. The laws 
governing the reproduction of labour power more than 
anything else depend on the level of the productive forces 
and the prevailing type of socio-economic system. At the 
same time at all phases of social development the laws 
governing the reproduction of manpower are influenced 
by the propagation of mankind as a_ specific biological 
species. Changes in the size and density of population may 
either promote or hinder the development of social pro- 
duction depending on _ concrete historical conditions. 
But whatever their nature or impact on social production. 
they do not determine social development, nor the 
replacement of socio-economic formations. 

Population, i.e., the aggregate of people living on the 
territory of a particular country, in a part of the world 
and on the globe as a whole is the outcome of the interac- 
tion of the laws of propagation of the human species and 
those of social development. The increasing life span of 
men evidences man’s great achievements not only in 
harnessing the elements, but also in controlling the element- 
al forces of his own biological nature. 

The life span of people depends on social conditions. In 
the Bronze and Stone ages the average length of life did 
not exceed 18 years, in the Roman Empire it rose to 
25 years, and in the mid-19th century it rose to 34 years. 
At present the average life span throughout the world is 
50-60 years. At the same time the life span in developed 
countries is two and even more times longer than in the 
colonial and semi-colonial countries. 


8 EE 

The propagation of animal and vegetable species is 
regulated by the law of natural selection. The number of 
individuals making up a_ particular species cannot 
transcend the bounds imposed by the conditions of the 
environment which determine the birth rate, fecundity, the 
mortality and the speed with which generations succeed 
each other. The propagation of the human species is a 
different matter. The total number of people can, in the 
final count, be limited only by the degree to which society 
controls nature, in other words, by the level of the produc- 
tion of material and cultural values. 

In natural conditions an above-norm increase in the 
number of individuals making up an animal species is 
sooner or later compensated by a corresponding decrease, 
for in the geographical environment, of which the animal 
world is a component, everything is in dynamic equilib- 
rium, whereas the characteristic feature of the human 
species is perpetual numerical growth. The temporary 
decrease in the population of some countries at different 
periods of their history was as a rule more than compen- 
sated by the increment of the population in other countries. 

Initially (70,000-10,000 B.C.) the annual increment of 
the population was very insignificant. Even following the 
introduction of cropping and livestock breeding it amount- 
ed to some hundredths of one per cent. A sharp change 
took place following the emergence of the capitalist mode 
of production. In the beginning of the 17th century the 
average annual increment of the population was already 
0.1 per cent; from 1750 to 1850 it rose to 0.5 per cent; in 
the period immediately after the Second World War it 
topped 1.5 per cent and today it is about 2 per cent. 

Still more indicative are the periods during which the 
population of the world increased twice over. The total 
number of people inhabiting the earth increased more than 
10-fold from the year 1000 to 1964. A period of about 700 
years was required for the population to double the first 
time, within another 150 years it doubled again, while its 
present rate of increment is such that it may be expected 
to double again in less than 35 years. 

The fact that the growth of the population directly 
depends on the reproduction of labour power and on the 
way in which it is drawn into social production discloses 


that the laws of population growth are above all economic 
laws. Bearing in mind that social production always 
assumes a concrete historical form, it follows that the laws 
of population growth are also historical. Similar to other 
economic laws they change as one socio-economic forma- 
tion succeeds the preceding one, and their characteristic 
features are determined by the nature of the prevailing 
relations of production. 

Capitalist accumulation, for example, leads not only to 
the absolute growth of the aggregate labour power, but 
also to the constant growth of the relatively redundant 
labour power, i.e., to the steady increase in the number of 
unemployed who make up the reserve army of labour. 
Naturally the families of the unemployed also become part 
of the “surplus” population. 

There is a relative overpopulation under capitalism not 
because the rates of population growth are allegedly faster 
than those of the productivity of labour thus causing a 
shortage of the means of subsistence. On the contrary, 
“surplus” labour power and consequently “surplus” mouths 
to feed appear when the productivity of labour and the 
rate of output of consumer goods, food in particular, 
greatly surpass the natural growth of population. Surplus 
population in capitalist society is exclusively the result of 
the fact that part of the workers are redundant in 
comparison with the average requirements of capital for 
its self-growth. Such, according to Marx, is the nature of 
the law of population growth peculiar to capitalism. 

The law of population growth, being a specific law of 
every socio-economic formation, operates throughout the 
period of its existence. Yet the impact of this law on the 
most important indices of the natural population move- 
ment, namely, birth rate, mortality, life span, succession 
of generations and increment of population, varies in 
accordance with the different stages of development of a 
given formation. Consequently, there is a specific type of 
reproduction of the population at each stage in the 
development of any formation. 

The history of capitalism, for example, knows two types 
of reproduction of population. The first type with a high 
birth rate, high mortality, rapid succession of generations 
and a rapid natural growth of population was typical of 




the highly advanced countries during the stage of industrial 
capitalism. The second type with a low birth rate, low 
mortality, retarded succession of generations and slow 
growth of population is characteristic of the same countries 
at the stage of monopoly capitalism. 

The replacement of the first type of the reproduction of 
population by the second type is explained by a series of 
factors, primarily by the considerable increase in the 
expenditure for the reproduction of labour power, and by 
the need of production in qualified workers with a 
sufficiently high level of culture and educalion to keep 
abreast of the rapidly changing machinery. Due to grow- 
ing competition on the labour market caused by chronic 
unemployment many families either have no children at 
all or not more than one or two. The progress in public 
health services makes birth control possible but it cannot 
be regarded as the main cause of the sharp decline in the 
growth of population in developed capitalist countries in 
the contemporary epoch. 

In contrast to the capitalist law of population growth the 
socialist law presupposes full and rational employment of 
all able-bodied men and women, however great the scale 
and rate of the development of social production may be. 

The type of the reproduction of population in socialist 
countries is characterised by a medium birth rate, low 
mortality, slow succession of generations and a medium 
growth of the population. It takes shape under the decisive 
influence of the socialist law of population growth, i.e., 
in conditions where each working man has guaranteed 
work and where concern for the mother and for the 
upbringing of the rising generation is brought to the level 
of government policy. The considerable rise of the cultural 
standards of all sections of the population and the high 
level of public medical services have created favourable 
conditions for a transition to conscious motherhood which 
harmoniously combines the desire of the women to partic- 
ipate actively in production and public affairs with the 
interests of society and the state in bringing up a morally 
and physically healthy young generation. 

The impact of the growth of population on_ social 
production depends both on the level of the productive 
forces and on the nature of the prevailing relations of 


production, The increase of population may either stimu- 
late the development of the productive forces or retard it, 
depending on concrete conditions. But it is never a factor 
determining the development of production and society as 
a whole. 

In the contemporary epoch there is absolute over- 
population alongside different forms of relative over- 
population in many Asian, African and Latin American 
countries where the annual growth of population frequent- 
ly reaches three per cent. In Latin America, for example, 
agricultural production in the period from 1961 to 1964 
rose by less than one per cent, while the population 
increased by more than five per cent. Out of 200 million 
Latin Americans 120 million are chronically under- 

Modern neo-Malthusians seek to attribute the situation 
in these continents to the fatal influence of some sort of 
law of nature according to which men just like all living 
beings propagate faster than the growth of food resources 
permits. In actual fact, however, it is the imperialist 
powers, who by their colonial policy in the past and their 
neo-colonialist policy today have doomed these countries 
to a prolonged period of economic stagnation, that are to 
blame for their low living standards. Here the prevalence 
of the semi-feudal landed proprietorship, the primitive 
land-tenure methods, the insignificant share of industry 
in the national economy and the domination of foreign 
capital go hand in hand with the oppressed and uncultured 
peasant masses, the benighted position of the women and 
adherence to the tradition of having large families sancti- 
fied by religious prejudices. The high birth rate in these 
countries is an historical phenomenon offsetting the high 
mortality rate. 

Modern neo-Malthusians are seriously worried about the 
rapid growth of the population in Asia, Africa and Latin 
America. But their anxiety is of a manifestly class nature. 
They believe that the “demographic boom” Holds a latent 
threat to the “stability of the Western world”, in other 
words, it threatens the existence of the capitalist system. 

To avert the menace hanging over capitalism some nco- 
Malthusians recommend with undisguised cannibalism a 
nuclear war against the “inferior” peoples of the black and 


yellow races. Most of them, however, believe that it is 
possible to stem the growth of population and thus save the 
capitalist world from revolutionary upheavals by widely 
advertising contraceptive devices or agents, introducing 
free abortions and other measures of demographic policy. 

These prescriptions are at once utopian and reactionary. 
Only revolutionary socio-economic transformations, radi- 
cal agrarian reforms, industrialisation and cardinal recon- 
struction of agriculture on the basis of the latest 
achievements of agronomy open up before the developing 
countries real prospects for doing away with absolute 

A scientific solution of the population problem in the 
interests of the working people may be achieved only 
after the victory of socialism. Under socialism, thanks to 
the planned development of economy and the spread of 
conscious motherhood, possibilities are created to make 
the rates of growth of population consistent with the rates 
of production of material and cultural wealth: food, hous- 
ing, hospitals, educational institutions. The achievement of 
the optimum rates of population growth, which are 
unattainable under capitalism owing to the domination of 
private ownership of the means of production and anarchy 
of production, become a reality in socialist conditions. 

Thus, the growth of population is not a purely biological 
process but a social phenomenon determined by the 
character of the productive forces, relations of production, 
the social and political system, etc. Therefore it is incor- 
rect to view it as a process which is independent of social 
conditions and which determines the development of pro- 
duction. While by no means denying the influence of the 
growth and density of population on the development of 
production, historical materialism does not consider it the 
decisive force of social development. On the contrary, it 
views it as a result of the aggregate of social conditions. 

4. Productive Forces and Relations of Production 

Social production is made up of the productive forces 
and the relations of production. 
The productive forces are the forces with which society 


acts on nature to obtain the means of subsistence and 
control elemental forces. 

The productive forces consist of the means of production, 
primarily the instruments of labour created by society, 
and also the men who produce the material wealth. 

The means and instruments of labour, that is, the objects 
or things with which man applies the energy of nature to 
its substance for the purpose of producing material wealth, 
are the decisive element of the productive forces. In 
contemporary conditions their structure is very complex 
and they consist of the working mechanism, the motor, the 
control and transmission mechanisms. 

The bulk of the means of labour are peculiar extensions 
of man’s organs of action, his hands; others are extensions 
of his organs of perception; and still others, of his brain. 

The means of labour, which are the implements of 
action, consist of an infinite diversity of working mechan- 
isms set in motion principally by electric, steam or 
internal combustion engines. 

The diversity of the means of labour as instruments of 
perception is a long way behind that of the means of labour 
as implements of action. Man’s organs of perception were 
equipped with extensions much later than his organs of 
action. The most important implements of perception— 
optical (glasses, the telescope and the microscope)— 
appeared only in the early 17th century. Energy was linked 
up with the implements of perception only recently and 
produced, as had to be expected, a tremendous effect. 
Suffice it to mention the electronic microscope and the 
television equipment which photographed the dark side 
of the Moon. The implements of perception facilitate 
man’s study of the depths of the universe. 

Extraneous devices have long been used to help the 
brain. Thus, the art of writing has helped to extend man’s 
memory immensely. First primitive and then more complex 
computing devices were invented, the abacus, adding 
machines, etc. But a qualitatively new stage in the material 
equipment of thinking was ushered in when energy was 
made to operate all these devices, when electronic comput- 
ers were invented. 

With technical advancement an ever greater number of 
actions in human thought can be translated into operations 



by machines. This makes it possible to relieve in increas- 
ing measure the brain of tiresome and monotonous mental 
work, leaving it free to solve creative problems. 

In addition to the means of labour, the means of 
production also include the objects of labour, i.e., the 
natural objects on which the means of labour act. 

Marx noted in his Capital that “labour is not the only 
source of material wealth, of use-values produced by 
labour.... Labour is its father and the earth its mother’. 
This gives rise to the question of the relationship between 
the elements of man’s natural environment, the elements 
of the geographical environment and the component 
elements of the productive forces. 

The elements of nature become elements of the 
productive forces only from the moment they are drawn 
into the process of production. Thus, in itself the power of 
water is a natural force and an element of the geographical 
environment and not of the economy. But when it falls 
on the blades of a turbine and rotates it, thus producing 
electricity, the movement of water—a natural phenomenon 
—acquires economic value and becomes a component of 
the motor, i.e., a component of such an element of the 
productive forces as the means of labour. 

This fully applies to the transformation of the objects 
of nature into objects of labour. An object of labour in 
itself is a force of nature and remains a part of the 
geographical environment until labour is applied to it. Only 
when it is drawn into production does it become a produc- 
tive force and, hence, a part of material production as a 
whole, a component of the social environment. 

Objects of labour differ depending on the type of natural 
substances men use to make the means of labour (wood, 
stone, iron and other ores, plastics, reinforced concrete), 
to generate energy (wood, coal, water, petroleum, uranium 
ore), to manufacture articles of personal consumption 
(natural fibres—including cotton, silk and wool, and also 
nylon and other synthetic fibres). During the initial stages 
of social development the dominating objects of labour 
were those directly offered by nature; at later stages, 
particularly today, the prevalent objects of labour are 

1 Karl Marx, Capital, Vol. 1, Moscow, 1965, p. 43. 

those which have been repeatedly processed. Thus, the 
work of the miners is preceded by that of the geologists 
who prospect, estimate and lay the ground for the 
extraction of minerals. 

In general, the range of objects of labour depends on 
the development of the means of labour, but the part 
played by the former in the process of production is far 
from passive. The properties and qualities of the means of 
labour largely depend on the material of which they are 
made. Modern techniques call for new and better materials. 
The importance of raw materials increases with the devel- 
opment and improvement of the means of labour. New 
objects of labour, in their turn, require new means of 
labour for processing them. Today, as the chemical 
industry develops rapidly there is increasing production of 
objects of labour with pre-set properties which are not to 
be found in natural objects. The level and the character 
of the productive forces is therefore directly dependent not 
only on the state of the means of labour but also of the 
objects of labour. 

The chief element of the productive forces is labour 
power, i.e., the men who set the means and the objects of 
labour in motion for the production of material wealth 
and who have the necessary knowledge, production 
experience and work habits. Consequently, the productive 
forces of society do not include the whole of humanity but 
only that part of it which is engaged in production. 

Men are an element of the productive forces not only 
because they have hands, brains, nerves, muscles and 
organs of perception, but chiefly because they are capable 
of making the means of labour and of using them to 
transform the objects of labour into material wealth. This 
ability, i.e, knowledge, production experience and work 
habits, is not passed on from parent to child automatically, 
nor is it a result of man’s biological development. It is a 
product of social life based on material production. It is 
the sum total of the physical and spiritual powers acquired 
by man in society which enable him to produce material 

When Marxists say that men are a component element 
of the productive forces they mean the aggregate labour 
force of society. This must be emphasised when dealing 


with modern productive forces, whether capitalist or 
socialist. Today, the production of any machine includes 
very many intermediate stages, ranging from design and 
laboratory tests to assembly on a conveyor. In the process 
of production the work of the designer, the laboratory 
assistant, the adjuster, the assembly man, and so forth 
becomes the joint labour of an aggregate worker. They all 
directly participate in the production process and it is 
impossible to manufacture goods without their labour, 
which is separated in space and time. This means that the 
share and the role of the work performed by engineers 
and other technical workers in the modern aggregate 
labour power are steadily increasing. In the present-day 
scientific and technical revolution, the degree of scientific 
knowledge and the ability to apply it directly to production 
are becoming more and more the basic indicator of the 
state of the aggregate labour power. 

The structure of the productive forces is constantly 
developing. This is above all expressed in the differen- 
tiation and the growing intricacy of such elements of the 
productive forces as the means of labour, the objects of 
labour and labour power. Thus, for example, the fuel and 
power factor is acquiring great importance in the structure 
of the means of labour. 

Major achievements in power development (the trans- 
mission of electric power over long distances, the invention 
of hydraulic machines and internal combustion engines) 
have made it possible extensively to use electricity for 
industrial purpose. Having become special branches, the 
power and fuel industries are now turning output on a 
large scale which is vital to modern production. Today the 
fuel and power resources developed by man are essential 
for the operation of all machines. Economists have estimat- 
ed that approximately 20 per cent of the capital invest- 
ments are channelled into the power industry. 

With the advance of engineering and_ technology, 
science is coming to play a steadily increasing role in the 
development of production. Science, as a special sphere of 
human activity, arose out of the growing needs of produc- 
tion. But for hundreds and even thousands of years pro- 
duction was based on nothing more than experience and 
observation. A characteristic feature of our epoch is that 

5-360 65 

scientific progress is becoming the decisive factor of the 
development of the productive forces. The sphere of 
science, which in the past was almost completely outside 
the sphere of production of material wealth, has now 
largely entered the sphere of material production. The 
work of the researcher is becoming a necessary compo- 
nent of productive labour. Science, as Marx had foreseen, 
is turning into an immediate productive force. The advan- 
tages derived from the application of scientific discoveries 
in the form of new machinery and improved technological 
processes, are much greater than their cost, i.e., the expen- 
ditures incurred by society to achieve scientific results. 

Science applied in production has a much greater effect 
on the results of labour than individual production 
experience and work habits. Today, a man in charge of a 
giant electronic computor does the work of 25,000-30,000 
well-trained mathematicians. In the last 100 years, accord- 
ing to Academician Stanislav Strumilin, the technological 
application of science in ferrous metallurgy has helped to 
reduce the expenditure of human labour per ton of pig 
iron by 98 per cent and even more in the production of 
steel and rolled metal. 

The transformation of science and scientific research into 
an organising factor of the development of the productive 
forces is inseparably bound up with the acceleration of 
the rates of its own advance. Professor John Bernal has 
estimated that in 1896 there were only about 50,000 men 
in the world who adhered to scientific traditions, of whom 
not more than 15,000 ensured the progress of knowledge 
by conducting direct scientific research. By the mid-1950s 
at least 400,000 people were already actively engaged in 
scientific research. Today the total number of scientific 
workers is approaching 2,000,000, and expenditure on 
science has increased 400-fold. 

It has been estimated that the cost of research in 
industrial countries doubles every decade. This means that 
science is progressing much faster than any other sphere 
of human activity. The Soviet Union has the highest 
growth rate of scientific personnel. According to UNESCO 
figures, in the last 50 years the number of scientists in the 
European capitalist countries has been doubling every 15 
years, in the U.S.A., every 10 years and in the U.S.S.R., 


every seven years. The U.S.S.R., whose population adds up 
to about seven per cent of the total population of the globe, 
has 25 per cent of the world’s scientists. 

Science is becoming an immediate productive force pri- 
marily because it is acquiring direct and decisive impor- 
tance for the development of all the elements of the pro- 
ductive forces: the means of labour, the objects of labour 
and labour power. Today the means of labour are un- 
doubtedly the direct material embodiment of scientific 
achievements. At the same time the level of scientific and 
technical training of the producers of material wealth is 
now a major indicator of the state of labour power. 

At the same time science, especially experimental 
science as represented by research institutions, laboratories 
and various types of testing installations, is a special 
branch in the social division of labour. 

When it is said that scientific activity has largely become 
part of the sphere of production it does not mean that 
science has been entirely swallowed by production. This 
will never happen. Today there are at least two distinct 
types of scientific institutions: first, those dealing with 
applied problems, and whose workers participate in pro- 
ductive labour as an element of the aggregate worker; 
second, those working on long-range problems of general 
theory primarily of a research character, and whose 
workers do not directly participate in production. 

The productive forces of society are genuine productive 
forces only if all their elements are in unity andi interact 
in the process of production. When the means of labour 
and the objects of labour, on the one hand, and men, on 
the other, are separated from each other, they are only 
potential productive forces. The way they are combined 
depends on the state of the relations of production. 

What are relations of production, or, to use another 
term, economic relations? 

For a long time already men have been producing mate- 
rial wealth in society on the basis of social division of 
labour. Division of labour, i.e., specialisation and co-opera- 
tion of producers in the process of production precludes 
isolated labour activity unconnected with other men. In 
order to organise production in conditions of specialisation 
and co-operation of labour even in their most primitive 

ot 67 

forms men have to work together and establish the neces- 
sary production ties and relations of production whose 
character is determined by the forms of ownership of the 
means of production. 

After material wealth has been produced it is liable to 
distribution between the men who directly or indirectly 
participated in its production. Since under the division of 
labour men produce a particular commodity while experi- 
encing the need in different commodities, the material wealth 
they produce is subject to redistribution through exchange. 
When the social product is distributed and then redistrib- 
uted through exchange, the means of livelihood enter the 
sphere of consumption on which the reproduction of the 
aggregate labour power depends. In all these spheres 
definite economic relations are formed between men. 

The basis of relations of production are above all 
property relations. In the sphere of direct production they 
are the relations between its participants, which are deter- 
mined by the appropriation of the means of production 
and the labour force. In the sphere of distribution the 
property relations are those of the appropriation of the 
results of labour, or the manufactured social product. In 
the sphere of exchange they are relations between the 
participants in the division of social labour arising from 
the redistribution of the results of production in their 
concrete consumer form. Finally, in the sphere of consump- 
tion they are relations connected with the appropriation 
of articles of personal or social non-production consump- 
tion, i.e., with the actual realisation of the produced means 
of livelihood. 

The basic property relation and, consequently, the 
principal relation of production is always relation towards 
the means of production. The relations between men who 
are connected with the means of production exist because 
the latter are always distributed in one way or another. 
“Production,” wrote Marx, “must rest on a definite distri- 
bution of the instruments of production; in this sense 
distribution precedes production and forms its prerequi- 
site.’! The mode of distributing the means of production 

1 Karl Marx, Grundrisse der Kritik der politischen Okonomie (Ro- 
hentwurf) 1857-1858. Einleitung, Moscow, 1939, S. 18. 


is simultaneously the mode of connecting labour power 
with the means of production. 

Property relations in all other spheres of reproduction 
are shaped depending on the nature of the principal rela- 
tion of production during the phase of direct production, 
namely on the relation with regard to the means of pro- 

The relations of production just as productive forces are 
historical. In some conditions the means of production are 
monopolised by a more or less large group of people, a 
special class of proprietors, in other conditions the means 
of production are at the disposal of the whole of society. 

Where the means of production and the social product 
are appropriated by a special class of proprietors and 
where, consequently, the direct producers are exploited, 
the co-operation of people in production takes on an 
antagonistic form. Relations of production bear an antag- 
onistic character in the slave-holding, feudal and capital- 
ist societies. 

Where all the participants in production are equal with 
regard to the ownership of the means of production and 
the results of their labour, where all of them are united 
into a single group of producers because of their universal 
and equal obligation to work, there is no room for exploi- 
tation of man by man, for social antagonism. In these con- 
ditions the relations of production are direct social 
relations of co-operation. 

By themselves, however, the relations of co-operation are 
not the same at all stages of historical development. In the 
primitive-communal society, for example, production was 
limited to cropping and cattle breeding. The basic means 
of production were land and animals. The commune rarely 
had more than 100 active able-bodied members. The divi- 
sion of labour within the commune was based primarily 
on sex and age, and the relations of production, distribu- 
tion, exchange and consumption were extremely primitive. 
The tribal commune was dominated by the elemental 
forces of nature and social development. 

The socialist system of economy is another thing. Here 
the principal branch is industry which determines the high 
level of industrial development of agriculture. Under 
socialism the main relation of production, the relation to 


the means of production, takes shape on the basis of highly 
developed social production and ownership of the whole 
people. The social division of labour reaches a high degree 
of development. The planned management of economy 
rests on the knowledge of the laws of the development of 
production relations, distribution, exchange and consump- 
tion. The establishment of a socialist system is man’s 
victory over the spontaneous development of his own 
economic relations. 

The concrete historical unity of the productive forces 
and corresponding relations of production constitute the 
mode of production of material wealth. The mode of pro- 
duction is the material basis of any socio-economic forma- 

5. Dialectics of Productive Forces 
and Relations of Production 

The starting point for the development of the social 
material production is the development of the productive 
forces. They are the most mobile aspect of the mode of 
production of material wealth. As a rule, the productive 
forces, which form the content of social production, are 
the first to change, to be followed by the relations of 
production, the social form of production. 

The productive forces of society increase quantitatively 
and improve qualitatively from generation to generation. 
Their development is ascent along the line of progress. 

Diverse sources or causes, primarily the sources inher- 
ent in material production itself, are responsible for the 
progressive development of the productive forces. Since 
the productive forces constitute the content of the mode 
of production of material wealth, the primary source of 
their development is inherent in them and represents the 
interaction of the means and objects of labour and labour 

As man changes nature he changes himself and acquires 
work habits, skill and knowledge. When he uses the same 
means of labour to work the same object of labour he 
gradually acquires the necessary skill and becomes capable 
of producing a great deal more than the novice. In the 
process of production, he discovers new properties of the 


means and objects of labour, i.e., he augments his produc- 
tion knowledge, accumulates experience in handling the 
means of labour and improves production technology. 

New work habits, experience and knowledge, accumu- 
lated by man, raise the productivity of labour and, conse- 
quently, increase the productive forces as a whole. 

This growth of knowledge, experience and work habits 
is manifested and fixed in the form of new and more 
efficient implements and techniques of production. The 
new means and objects of labour, the new technology are 
mastered in their turn, and at a definite stage this mastery 
is once again materialised in the means of production and 
so on ad inf. 

The development of technology is an historical process 
of the transmission of man’s labour functions, both phys- 
ical and mental, by technical means, the process of the 
realisation of these functions. The greater the develop- 
ment of technology, the freer man becomes from direct 
participation in the production of material wealth. The 
most important landmarks in technological development 
were the invention of the working machine in the 18th 
century, which inaugurated the mechanisation of labour, 
and the appearance of a controlling machine in the mid- 
20th century, which ushered in the era of automation of 
production. From manual labour to mechanicaJ and then 
to automation, this is the progressive line of the develop- 
ment of society’s productive forces.! 

But it would not be enough and simply incorrect to say 
that the productive forces increase only as a result of the 
internal dialectics of their elements and as a consequence 
of man’s efforts to lighten his labour and save his strength. 
Man, after all, works to satisfy his material and cultural 
requirements. But appropriation stands in the way of 
satisfying requirements whose pattern is historical, being 
determined in the final count by the level of development 
of the productive forces. Before man can consume these 
values, however, and thus satisfy his requirements, he has 
to appropriate them, to gain possession of them. Hence, 
the satisfaction of requirements is mediated by the distri- 

1 See G. N. Volkov, The Era of Robots or the Era of Man? Moscow, 
1965 (in Russian). 


bution of the social product, which in turn depends on the 
distribution of the means of production. 

Since the relations of production and, above all, rela- 
tions of ownership of the means of production and the 
social product make people strive for a tangible benefit 
from production, it is natural that relations of production 
have an active effect on the productive forces. The greater 
the economic stimuli furnished by a particular system 
of production, economic relations, the greater this effect 
will be. 

“The economic relations of a given society,” Engels 
pointed out, “present themselves in the first place as 
interests.’*! This means that economic relations do not 
operate on their own, but through the mechanism of 
material interests. Interests are a concrete form of the 
practical operation of objective economic laws. 

The economic interests in any society take shape prima- 
rily depending on the prevalent property relations. Interests 
differ according to what form of ownership of the means 
of production is dominant, whether it is public or private, 
and whether the direct producer is free to dispose of his 
labour force or whether this freedom is restricted in one 
way or another. 

In capitalist society the economic interest of the capital- 
ist is to derive profit by exploiting wage labour. The 
immediate interest of the worker is to sell his labour to 
the capitalist on the labour market in conformity with its 
market price. 

As the capitalists drive for profits their interests clash. 
Each tries to seize as much as possible from the aggregate 
surplus value created by the working class. The interests 
of the capitalist are dominant in this society. To be able 
to stand up to competition and not to give in to the organ- 
ised resistance of the workers, the capitalists are forced to 
promote technology. 

This mechanism of acting on the productive forces, 
which is characteristic of the capitalist relations of pro- 
duction, naturally greatly harms society. The anarchy of 
private interests is, after all, not only a creative but a 
destructive force. Private interests not only stimulate the 

1 Marx and Engels, Selected Works, Vol. I, p. 621. 

> oO 

growth of the productive forces but also hinder their 
development. The disunity and antagonism of interests 
engendered by private capitalist property leads to unem- 
ployment and poverty, i.e., to the despoliation of the prin- 
cipal productive force—the labour power of the working 
people—and also to periodic economic upheavals caused 
by overproduction crises, when colossal production capac- 
ities are not utilised, and the idle machinery goes to ruin. 

In socialist society there is no anarchy of private inter- 
ests, nor are there any social groups with opposing 
economic interests. Social property breeds universal inter- 
est in the production of the maximum amount and 
maximum diversity of material wealth consistent with the 
existing level of the productive forces. The purpose of 
socialist production is to satisfy the constantly growing 
requirements of society and all its members. 

Under socialism the interests of all people are genuinely 
universal interests which combine the interests of the 
individual, the collective and society as a whole. Private 
interest is actually the interest of a person participating in 
production in appropriating a share of the social product, 
which enters the sphere of consumption, proportionate to 
the quantity and quality of his labour. Similarly, collective 
interest is the interest of a group of workers in appropriat- 
ing part of the social product, proportionate to the results 
of their work. 

Under socialism there may be differences and contradic- 
tions between personal, collective and social interests, but 
they do not develop into antagonisms. Public ownership of 
the means of production unites the basic interests of the 
people and at the same time demands conscious, planned 
regylation of the economy and, consequently, the establish- 
ment of reasonable proportions both in production and in 
the distribution and consumption of material wealth. All 
this cannot be achieved without eliminating the contradic- 
tions which arise in the system of economic interests. 

The degree of combination—divergence or coincidence— 
of personal, collective and social interests directly depends 
on the level of economic management. The growth of so- 
cialist production demands the optimum combination of 
these interests. 

Experience shows that socialist relations of production 


with their mechanism of harmonious combination of per- 
sonal, collective and social interests are more efficient than 
those under capitalism, characterised by the anarchy of 
private interests and the antagonism of class interests. 
Proof of this is the even and immeasurably faster rate of 
development of the productive forces in socialist countries 
than in the most advanced capitalist countries. A compari- 
son of the annual rates of increment of industrial produc- 
tion over a long period in the socialist world with those 
in the capitalist world will reveal that they are three times 
higher than in the latter. It is thanks to its advantages 
that socialism can and will get the better of capitalism in 
all spheres. 

This shows how enormously the relations of production 
influence the development of the productive forces. But 
however powerful this influence may be, the relations of 
production are always determined by the level of develop- 
ment and the nature of the productive forces. 

In his well-known Preface to The Critique of Political 
Economy, Marx says: “In the social production of their 
life, men enter into definite relations that are indispensable 
and independent of their will, relations of production 
which correspond to a definite stage of development of 
their material productive forces.”! 

That is Marx’s formulation of the law of correspondence 
of the relations of production to the character and level of 
development of the productive forces. This law implies 
that men cannot select their relations of production at 
will. They are always forced to establish economic rela- 
tions between themselves which correspond! to the charac- 
ter, level and state of the productive forces. The develop- 
ment of the productive forces necessarily leads to changes 
in the relations of production, which in their aggregate 
constitute the economic system of a given society; with 
the change of economic system, there is a change or total 
elimination of the prevailing ideas and their corresponding 

In this context, let us look at the leap from manufactory 
to industrial capitalism, which took place in Britain in 
the last thirty years of the 18th century, and subsequently 

1 Marx and Engels, Selected Works, Vol. I, pp. 362-63. 

Ee eee ee 

in a number of other countries of Europe and America in 
the first half of the 19th century. The material basis for 
the leap was the revolution in the productive forces caused 
by the invention of the working machine and the steam 
engine. The social motive force of the leap was the bour- 
geoisie which in a revolutionary manner had cleared the 
way for the untrammeled development of capitalism in 
Britain and France. 

The revolution in the productive forces due to the tran- 
sition from the manufactory to machine production and 
the consequent revolution in the relations of production 
are bracketed under the term of industrial revolution. 

This shows that the development of the relations of 
production is determined by the changes in the productive 
forces. But the relations of production are relatively in- 
dependent and this has a reciprocal effect on the develop- 
ment of the productive forces themselves. 

The productive forces are the content of social produc- 
lion and the relations of production, its form. The form 
may or may not correspond to the content. 

The correspondence of the relations of production to the 
productive forces is expressed in the fact that the incen- 
tives to the productive forces developing within the rela- 
tions of production are in the main in line with the char- 
acter and level of development of the productive forces. 
When they correspond to each other, the relations of pro- 
duction are a powerful accelerator of the growth of the 
productive forces. 

The discrepancy of the two means that at a given level 
the productive forces require new economic incentives, as 
the old ones tend to slow down the pace of their develop- 
ment. In that case, the relations of production operate as 
a brake on the productive forces. 

It has to be borne in mind that correspondence between 
the relations of production and the productive forces is 
always relative; hence there is a certain contradiction be- 
tween them. This contradiction exists in all socio-economic 
formations, including socialism. The emergence of contra- 
dictions between the relations of production and the pro- 
ductive forces is an inevitable phenomenon; it does not 
depend on the will and consciousness of men, their 
desires, etc. 


But the contradictions arising between the relations of 
production and the productive forces under socialism, if 
the policies of the Communist Party and the socialist state 
are correct, do not develop into conflict. 

In all antagonistic formations, however, particularly 
under capitalism, the aggravation of such contradictions 
inevitably grows into conflict, however skilful the policy 
of the ruling class may be. This is due to the fact that the 
ruling classes, in this case the bourgeoisie, being concerned 
with preserving and perpetuating the relations of produc- 
tion based on exploitation, safeguard these relations with 
all the means at their disposal, and above all with the aid 
of the state. When the aggravation of the contradiction 
between the productive forces and the relations of produc- 
tion cannot be resolved on the basis of the existing eco- 
nomic system, the conflict between them inexorably leads 
to social revolution. 

6. The Laws Governing the Transition 
from the Old to the New Mode of Production 

The history of human society shows that the new mode 
of production does not arise overnight, in a ready-made 
form, but usually originates as an economic structure in 
the bosom of the old socio-economic formation. Thus, new 
productive forces and the new master-slave relations cor- 
responding to these forces began to take shape already in 
the depth of the primitive-communal society, at a specific 
stage of its development. The feudal and capitalist modes 
of production originated in a similar manner. 

Experience shows that the transition from the old mode 
of production to the new one is not determined by the free 
choice of men, nor by their desires but by the laws of 
economic development which are independent of their 
consciousness or volition. 

In a letter to Annenkov (1846) Marx wrote: “Men are 
not free to choose their productive forces—which are the 
basis of all their history—for every productive force is 
an acquired force, the product of former activity. The pro- 
ductive forces are therefore the result of practical human 
energy; but this energy is itself conditioned by the circum. 


stances in which men find themselves, by the productive 
forces already acquired, by the social form which exists 
before they do, which they do not create, which is the prod- 
uct of the preceding generation.”! Each new generation 
entering upon the scene must initially accept the already 
existing productive forces and relations of production, 
adapt itself to them and master them in order to obtain 
the possibility of producing material wealth. This deter- 
mines the continuity in the development of productive 

But with time the relations of production cease to cor- 
respond to the character of the productive forces and when 
this happens it is they that have to be brought into con- 
formity with the character and the level of development of 
the productive forces and not vice versa. Men never give 
up the productive forces they have acquired and created, 
which, however, does not mean, as Marx noted in a letter 
to Annenkoy, that they will not give up the social form 
in which they have acquired them. ‘On the contrary,” he 
wrote, “in order that they may not be deprived of the re- 
sult attained and forfeit the fruits of civilisation, they are 
obliged, from the moment when their mode of carrying on 
commerce no longer corresponds to the productive forces 
acquired, to change all their traditional social forms.’”? 

The basic changes in the relations of production signi- 
fying the replacement of one type of relations of produc- 
tion by another, the transition from one formation to 
another, higher formation, take place through social 

But that does not rule out changes of a non-fundamen- 
tal character which may take place within the framework 
of a given formation. The existing relations of production 
can be adapted to some extent to the development of the 
productive forces, but the possibility of such adaptation 
is not unlimited. Thus, feudal relations of production 
developed over many centuries; their qualitative changes 
were expressed in the successive replacement of one form 
of feudal rent by another: labour service, rent in kind 
and rent in cash. There were no other forms of feudal 

1 Marx and Engels, Selected Correspondence, p. 35. 
2 Ibid., p. 36. 


rent, because the productive forces, in their development, 
finally demanded not just a new form of feudal rent 
but a fundamental change in the relations of production, 
a new type of relations of production, namely, capitalist 

The same applies to the capitalist relations of production. 
State-monopoly capitalism is the final form of their adap- 
tation to the new productive forces. There are no inter- 
mediate stages between state-monopoly capitalism and 

The important thing to note is that the new relations 
of production never become dominant until the old rela- 
tions of production outlive themselves. They cannot become 
dominant until the new productive forces mature in the 
bosom of the old society. “No social order,” wrote Marx 
in the Preface to the Critique of Political Economy, “ever 
perishes before all the productive forces for which there 
is room in it have developed; and new, higher relations of 
production never appear before the material conditions 
of their existence have matured in the womb of the old 
society itself.”! 

The transition from the old mode of production to the 
new one does not proceed in the same way each time one 
formation replaces another. Thus, the emergence of the 
socialist mode of production substantially differs from 
the emergence of the capitalist mode of production. 

The main difference is that the socialist structure of 
economy does not originate in the bosom of capitalism, 
whereas the capitalist structure of economy does originate 
in the womb of feudalism. Only the material and techni- 
cal conditions for the socialist mode of production, i.e., 
productive forces of a social character, originate within 
capitalism. As for the socialist relations of production cor- 
responding to these productive forces, they do not, nor can 
they take shape, in the depths of capitalism. 

This is explained by the fact that when feudalism is 
replaced by capitalism, the relations of production preserve 
their proprietory nature; only the type of private property 
changes. In view of this, proprietors, known as capitalists, 
become an economically powerful class already in the 

4 Marx and Engels, Selected Works, Vol. 1, p. 363. 

feudal formation, while it is still in the process of devel- 
opment. They overthrow the landowner class and establish 
the political rule of the bourgeoisie through a_ political 
revolution. As a result of the victory of the bourgeois 
revolution the capitalist system of economy becomes the 
dominant mode of production. 

The matter is quite different when socialism supplants 

The working class is the vehicle of socialist ownership 
of the means of production, but it cannot create any social- 
ist property under capitalism despite the efforts of the re- 
formists to prove the opposite. The transition of the econ- 
omy to socialist rails begins only following the overthrow 
of the political rule of the bourgeoisie and the establish- 
ment of the dictatorship of the proletariat. Capitalism and 
socialism are separated by a more or less prolonged tran- 
sition period in the course of which the former is trans- 
formed into the latter through revolution. This is the per- 
iod of the consolidation of socialist property and the for- 
mation of socialist economy. Needless to say, the ways for 
solving common tasks in the transition period may differ 
depending on the prevailing conditions. 

A characteristic feature of the world revolutionary proc- 
ess in modern conditions is the approximation of the tasks 
of the democratic and socialist revolution. The victory of 
the masses at the democratic—anti-monopolist and anti- 
feudal—stage of the popular revolution can result in the 
establishment of such rule which will consistently carry 
out anti-monopoly and anti-feudal social and economic 
transformations in industry and agriculture and at the 
same time put through certain anti-capitalist, socialist 
changes. This was exactly what took place in the coun- 
tries of Central and South-East Europe at the close of the 
Second World War and in the first post-war years. In most 
of these countries the people’s democracy in the period of 
its consolidation was a revolutionary power of anti-fascist. 
anti-imperialist forces resting on the dictatorship of the 
proletariat and the peasantry headed by the working class. 
Under such rule, the democratic—anti-monopoly and anti- 
feudal—transformations merged and interlocked with, and 
developed into, socialist changes. The democratic national- 
isation of enterprises, previously owned by German 


monopolists and the big local bourgeoisie who had collabo- 
rated with the nazis, gradually turned into the socialist 
nationalisation of large-scale industry, the banking system, 
transport and wholesale trade. The enforcement of the 
agrarian reform enabled the peasants to launch a mass 
movement for the organisation of agricultural producer 
co-operatives. The rehabilitation of the national economy 
under the leadership of the people’s democratic state laid 
the ground for socialist industrialisation. In this way the 
socialist structure of economy began to take shape in these 
countries when they were still passing through the anti- 
imperialist, anti-feudal phase of the people’s democratic 
revolution. This circumstance, of course, accelerated the 
construction of socialism following the consolidation of 
the dictatorship of the proletariat. 

Socialism is built by the conscious effort of millions of 
working people. But this does not mean that the economic 
development of socialist society is determined by the con- 
sciousness of the people and has ceased to be an objective 
process. Conscious economic management does not in the 
least make’ men independent of objective conditions in 
which they live and act. Here, too, they cannot choose their 
productive forces at will, but have to proceed from the 
existing level of the latter’s development. 

As men consciously develop socialist production, they 
can and actually do set themselves only such goals and 
tasks for whose achievement real possibilities exist. Under 
socialism men cannot determine the pace and the direc- 
tion of production at will, nor to leap over the stages that 
have to be passed. The spontaneous development of the 
productive forces and the relations of production is grad- 
ually overcome, but this development continues to depend 
on material conditions. 

Experience shows that disregard for the objective laws 
of socialist and communist construction may lead to dep- 
lorable consequences. For instance, the policy of the “big 
leap” proclaimed by Mao Tse-tung’s group at the close of 
the 1950s dealt a serious blow to China’s economy. At- 
tempts to by-pass the essential phases of social develop- 
ment, and subjectivism in guiding economic processes can 
only harm socialist society. 

To build socialism and communism it is necessary to 


take into account the objective economic laws and to apply 
them in economic management. Today the Soviet Union 
is working to ensure the fullest use of the opportunities 
inherent in a developed socialist society, to heighten the 
efficiency of social production and thus accelerate the 
building of communism. The building of communism re- 
quires the concentration of the utmost effort to develop the 
productive forces and the all-round utilisation and consol- 
idation of socialist relations of production. Only by creat- 
ing the material and technical basis of communism will 
socialism develop into communism. 

Chapter III 


The knowledge of the theory of classes and class strug- 
gle makes it possible to obtain a scientific understanding 
of the history of nations and to discover the latent springs 
giving rise to the major events in the antagonistic class 
societies. There is no getting one’s bearings in these events 
without taking into account their social, class content and 
without approaching them from class positions. “People 
always have been the foolish victims of deception and self- 
deception in politics, and they always will be until they 
have learnt to seek out the interests of some class or other 
behind all moral, religious, political and social phrases, 
declarations and promises.”! 

A scientific understanding of classes affords the possibil- 
ity of making a searching analysis of the actual relations 
of people in society, defining the place of each class in 
social life, its essence, actual goals andi interests. In con- 
temporary conditions the teaching of classes and_ class 
struggle is a reliable landmark helping to frame the stra- 
tegy and tactics of the working-class struggle against 
capitalism, and a sure compass for the Marxist-Leninist 
parties in their fight for the revolutionary remaking of 

1. The Essence of the Class Division of Society. 
The Place and Role of the Class Struggle 
in the Historical Process 

Marx and Engels discovered the causes and essence of 
the class division of society, made a profound analysis of 

1 Lenin, Collected Works, Vol. 19, p. 28. 

capitalist society’s class structure and on that basis drew 
revolutionary conclusions. That society was divided into 
classes was known before Marx and Engels, but they were 
the first to create a scientific theory of classes. In a letter 
io Weydemeyer on March 5, 1852, Marx formulated the 
key propositions of this theory. He wrote: “What I did 
that was new was to prove: (1) that the existence of classes 
is only bound up with particular historical phases in 
the development of production, (2) that the class struggle 
necessarily leads to the dictatorship of the proletariat, (3) 
that this dictatorship itself only constitutes the transition 
to the abolition of all classes and to a classless society.?! 

The division of society into classes is not eternal. It 
occurs when one section of society concentrates in its 
hands the basic means of production, and the other is de- 
prived of them. The origin of classes is connected with a 
phase in the development of social production when pri- 
vate property appeared, the primitive-communal system 
began to disintegrate and the slave-owning mode of pro- 
duction took root. 

In his book Anti-Diihring Engels showed that the for- 
mation of classes proceeded as a twofold process. On the 
one hand, there was the gradual formation of the class of 
slave-owners from among the tribal nobility and proper- 
tied members of the community who concentrated the 
wealth in their hands, seized prisoners of war, turned 
elective offices into hereditary and began to occupy domi- 
nating positions in society. On the other hand, there was 
the formation of the class of slaves from among the 
prisoners of war and the non-propertied, whose labour 
produced a surplus product. 

Needless to say, the transformation of free people into 
slaves could not have taken place without violence. But 
this does not mean that the causes of the origin of classes 
are to be found in direct political coercion, as Diihring had 
asserted. The origin of private property and classes cannot 
be viewed as a result of plunder and violence. Tribes sub- 
jugated and plundered each other even before the rise of 
private property, but this did not lead to the emergence 

1 Marx and Engels, Selected Correspondence, 1965, p. 69. 


of slavery because there were no economic conditions for 
the exploitation of man by man. Slavery was economically 
senseless as long as labour productivity was so low that no 
surplus product was produced in the process of labour. 
Moreover, coercion could supplant one owner for another, 
but it could not, of course, create private property as such. 
Marxism in general rejects the attempt to present coercion 
as the primary cause of historical development, as a force 
which is independent of economic conditions. 

The objective social and economic conditions for the 
origin of classes among all peoples were the development 
of the productive forces and the emergence of the surplus 
product, the social division of labour, the beginning of 
exchange and commodity production and the rise of pri- 
vate property and material inequality. But the formation 
of classes among various peoples took on diverse concrete 
forms and occurred at different times. Archaeology, ethnog- 
raphy and other social sciences have established that 
classes first appeared in Egypt and Mesopotamia (late 4th- 
early 3rd millennium B.C.). In India and China the emer- 
gence of classes dates to the mid 3rd or the mid 2nd mil- 
lennium B.C. In Greece and Rome classes originated in 
the 8th-6th centuries B.C. 

The class structure of society changed as the modes of 
production changed. Some classes left the social stage, 
others ascended it. Following the classes of slave-owners 
and slaves there appeared the feudal lords and serfs, and 
then the bourgeoisie and the proletariat. The emergence 
of new classes was always the result of new socio-economic 

What then are social classes? Developing the Marxist 
theory of classes, Lenin gave a complete and comprehen- 
sive definition of classes. He wrote: “Classes are large 
groups of people differing from each other by the place 
they occupy in a historically determined system of social 
production, by their relation (in most cases fixed and for- 
mulated in law) to the means of production, by their role 
in the social organisation of labour, and, consequently, by 
the dimensions of the share of social wealth of which they 
dispose and the mode of acquiring it. Classes are groups 
of people one of which can appropriate the labour of 


another owing to the different places they occupy in a 
definite system of social economy.”! 

This definition singles out four main features character- 
istic of classes: 

(1) The place of classes in a definite historical system 
of social production. 

(2) The relation of classes to the means of production. 

(3) The role of classes in the social organisation of 

(4) The mode of acquiring and the size of the share of 
the social wealth, which classes possess. 

The first feature indicates above all the relation of 
classes to definite historical systems of social production: 
each class is engendered by a definite mode of production. 
Within this mode of production, where the relations of 
production are based on domination and subjugation, the 
principal classes are antipodal. 

This difference in place within the system of social pro- 
duction is determined by the different relation of classes 
to the means of production. In all antagonistic socio- 
economic formations, some classes own the means of pro- 
duction and operate as exploiters, others are fully or par- 
tially deprived of the means of production and are there- 
fore exploited. Monopolisation of the means of production 
in these formations allows the dominant classes to ap- 
propriate the labour of the oppressed classes. This differ- 
ence in relation of classes to the means of production is 
by and large fixed juridically. For example, private prop- 
erty of the exploiters is given every kind of protection and 
is justified by their political power, the state and law. 
Bourgeois constitutions proclaim private property “sacred 
and inviolable”, thereby legalising the unrestrained plunder 
of the working people. 

The relation of classes to the means of production is 
their main feature and one that determines their role in 
the social organisation of labour. Marx said in his time 
that the capitalist is not a capitalist because he manages 
industrial production but, on the contrary, he manages in- 
dustry because he is a capitalist. In all antagonistic socio- 

1 Lenin, Collected Works, Vol. 29, p. 421. 

economic formations the exploiter classes possessing the 
means of production also monopolise the means of spirit- 
ual development, management of production and _ state 
affairs. The working people, deprived as they are of the 
means of production, are barred from guiding production 
and society. In the contemporary epoch, the monopoly 
bourgeoisie still controls production, but at the same time 
it is becoming more and more of a parasitical class and is 
drawing away from the direct management of production. 
Plants and mills are run by hired executives, engineers and 
technicians, while the monopolists lead a parasitical life, 
consuming, with their dependents, a huge part of the na- 
tional income created by the labour of the workers and 
peasants. The increasing stagnation and growth of para- 
sitism among the monopoly bourgeoisie show that it is 
no longer necessary to the production process. The expe- 
rience of the socialist countries proves that the working 
people can successfully organise and run production them- 
selves, and that is what they are doing. 

The mode of acquiring and the size of the share of the 
social wealth of the different classes are also determined 
by their relation to the means of production. In antagon- 
istic class formations, they depend on the forms of exploi- 
tation. The slave-owners obtained the surplus product from 
their slaves through undisguised coercion; the feudal lords 
also received profits through non-economic coercion but 
in various forms of feudal rent ranging from corvée to 
métayage and quit-rent. The capitalists are amassing prof- 
its whose source is the disguised unpaid labour of the 
worker, i.e., surplus value. 

A study of these features leads one to the conclusion 
that in an antagonistic society one class appropriates the 
labour of another. That is the source of class antagonism, 
and it is this that makes the interests of antagonistic classes 
objectively irreconcilable. Therefore the class struggle 
in antagonistic formations is not a passing phase, a chance 
phenomenon, but a necessary and inevitable law of devel- 

The class structure of society is usually more or less 
intricate. In each formation alongside the dominating re- 
lations of production there may exist survivals of the old 
and elements of the new relations of production. This in- 


terweaving of various relations of production is reflected 
in the class structure of society. 

Major classes are those whose existence is determined 
directly by the prevailing mode of production in a given 
society. In each antagonistic mode of production there are 
usually two major classes. Thus, under the slave-owning 
system, they are slave-owners and slaves; under feudalism, 
they are the feudal Jords and the serfs, in capitalist society, 
they are the bourgeoisie and the proletariat. Minor classes 
are connected with more or less considerable survivals of 
the old or the emergence of the sprouts of the new mode 
of production. In the late feudal period, for example, the 
bourgeois and the proletarians appear, who, after the vic- 
tory of the capitalist mode of production, turn from the 
minor to major classes. In present-day capitalist countries 
where there are considerable survivals of feudal relations, 
the landowners remain a minor class. The petty and the 
middle peasantry, which in many developed capitalist 
countries makes up a considerable portion and in the less 
developed countries even the bulk of the population, 
passes on from the feudal into capitalist society. 

Besides the major and minor classes there may be var- 
ious social strata. The most important of them in modern 
society is the intelligentsia. It is not a special class, for it 
is socially extremely heterogeneous and has no_ special 
place in the system of social production or an independ- 
ent relation to the means of production. The intelligent- 
sia is a stratum consisting of men engaged in professional 
brain work, whose ranks are swelled by people from 
different classes and which serves the interests of various 
classes. There was an embryonic intelligentsia in  slave- 
owning and feudal societies, but it became a special social 
stratum only under capitalism. 

In the slave-owning and especially in the feudal socio- 
economic formations, society was divided into estates. 
This division was based on the economic, class position, but 
this was supplemented with a special juridical status in the 
state for each estate. Their different economic and juridi- 
cal status was fixed by juridical acts. Transition from one 
estate to another was usually barred, so that exclusiveness 
was the characteristic feature of the estates. Capitalism, 
as a rule, erases the estate division of society, but in some 


countries its survivals still exist. The most exclusive and 
closed groups in some societies were castes (from the 
Latin word castus, chaste, closed), which were fixed by 
religion, such as the caste of priests in most slave-owning 
states, who were keepers of the secrets withhold from other 
groups of men and who enjoyed all the juridical privi- 
leges. With the development of society, castes, as groups of 
men bound together by the unity of hereditary occupa- 
tions, lose their importance. Castes, as survivals of former 
formations, continue to exist only in some Eastern coun- 
tries, India, for example. 

Under capitalism the class division of society is simpli- 
fied and revealed to the full. But this is not in the inter- 
ests of the ideologists of the ruling classes. They are striv- 
ing to present a false picture of the diverse social classes, 
to veil the opposite class interests and cover up the exploit- 
ing nature of the ruling classes. 

Many modern bourgeois sociologists, in effect, altogeth- 
er deny the existence of classes and regard society as an 
aggregate of innumerable groups or strata; others, on the 
contrary, are trying to prove that society will always be 
divided into classes, and say that classes are eternal and 
invariable for the whole of human history. 

The former chiefly take the subjectivist view of the 
criteria of social division. Many sociologists substitute for 
the concept of “class” the indefinite and hazy concept of 
“group”, into which they include the most diverse associa- 
tions of men, e.g., cultural, political, ethnic, racial, crimi- 
nal, religious, family, etc. 

The French sociologist Georges Gurvitch writes: “Social 
classes are particular de facto groups characterised by 
their supra-functionality, their tendency towards an ex- 
tended structuralion, their resistance to penetration by 
global society and radical incompatibility with other 

This definition touches upon only a few external factors 
and gives no hint of the material basis determining the 
essence of class division: the strivings of the classes are 
promoted to first place but nothing is said of their causes. 

The American sociologists Leonard Broom and Philip 

1G. Gurvitch, Le concept des classes sociales, Paris, 1954, p. 116. 


Selznick, the authors of a textbook, Sociology, define 
“sroup” as “any collection of persons”! and propose that 
above all groups should be classified according to educa- 
tion grade. Here, too, however, there is the question: what 
determines the differences in the level of education of the 
members of various groups? Is it not due to their different 
status in society which the authors do not take into 

The principal error of such definitions is that they rest 
on nothing but secondary, derivative factors and ignore 
the radical material causes of society’s division into 

Since the war, Western sociology has widely accepted 
the theory of “social stratification”, “strata” being a geo- 
logical term denoting layers of the earth’s crust. Social 
strata, some sociologists declare, are groups of men pos- 
sessing specific characteristics. There are sociologists who 
base their stratification on occupation (George Cole of 
Britain), others, on living conditions, including the type 
of dwelling, etc. (Raymond Mack and Norman S. Hayner 
of the U.S.A.). Still others determine strata by a number 
of features. Thus, sometimes the ‘complex of factors” or 
“status” which determines to which strata men_ belong 
includes occupation, source of income, place of residence, 
etc. (W. Lloyd Warner of the U.S.A., Anthony Birch and 
Patrick Campbell of Britain). At the same time the effects 
of the class division of society (such as different housing 
conditions, residential districts, etc.) are often presented 
as the causes of social stratification. 

There are many sociologists who view classes as a 
result of the different psychologies of men, their abilities, 
etc. The American sociologist Richard Centers believes 
that class is a “psychological phenomenon”, that it is a 
man’s feeling of “belongingness to something; an identifi- 
cation with something larger than himself”. From this 
standpoint, classes are psycho-social groupings, something 
entirely subjective, based on class consciousness, ie., a 
sense of “group belongingness”. 

In actual fact, however, a distinct class consciousness 
may not exist, but the class, nevertheless, exists. It is 

! L. Broom, Ph. Selznick, Sociology, New York, 1963, p. 31. 

known, for example, that during its rise the working 
class does not immediately become conscious of its posi- 
tion in capitalist society. This proves that class should be 
regarded as an objective phenomenon and its existence 
cannot be made dependent on ils class consciousness. 

It is not enough simply to recognise the objectivity of 
the existence of classes. It is necessary to reveal the pro- 
found economic factors forming the basis of their exist- 
ence, and to do this, as we have seen, the class division of 
society should be explained by the mode of production. 

Modern sociological literature, particularly reformist and 
revisionist writings, often plays up the “distributive” 
theory, which bases the division of people into classes not 
on the mode of production, but on the mode of distribu- 
tion, promoting to first place such a criterion as the mode 
of acquiring incomes and their size. At the same time the 
actual sources of the income of capitalists—ownership of 
the means of production and exploitation of the workers— 
is concealed. The attempts to present the source or the size 
of income as the basis of the class division of society were 
criticised by Marx in the last, unfinished chapter of Vol- 
ume III of Capital. Developing and continuing Marx’s 
teaching on this question Lenin wrote: “To look for the 
fundamental distinguishing feature of the various classes 
of society in their sources of income is to give precedence 
to relations of distribution, which in reality are only a 
consequence of relations of production.’’! 

The advocates of the “distributive” theories (Bernard 
Herber, George Cole, André Philip) claim that modern 
capitalism is becoming a people’s capitalism, that the in- 
equality in the distribution of income is levelling out and 
social contrasts are disappearing. As proof, they cite the 
purchase of shares by some workers, drawing the incor- 
rect conclusion that these workers become the co-owners 
of the enterprises. On the other hand, they assert that the 
capitalists are allegedly gradually becoming ordinary 
employees controlled by the state. 

But a scientific analysis of the social reality of the cap- 
italist countries shows that the basis of production there 
remains the private ownership of the means of production— 

1 Lenin, Collected Works, Vol. 6, p. 264. 


and nothing changes even when some small shares pass 
into the hands of working people. In this manner the 
capitalists merely mobilise additional capital, turning to 
their advantage even the savings of the working people, 
while control of all the shares remains in the hands of 
those who own control packets. 

A correct definition of classes has tremendous signifi- 
cance, for it allows to draw important practical revolution- 
ary conclusions. Indeed, if the relation of men to the 
means of production is the main feature of class it follows 
that the necessary condition for transition to socialism is 
the replacement of big private ownership of the means of 
production by social property. Only through fundamental 
transformations in economic and political life is it possi- 
ble to eliminate exploiting classes and the exploitation of 
man by man once and for all. 

In his lecture, “The Notion of Class and the Historical 
Role of the Working Class”, Maurice Thorez made the fol- 
lowing correct observation: “To avoid adventurism it is 
essential to promote to first place that which is really im- 
portant, namely, the struggle between the owners of the 
means of production and the proletarians, the people of 
wage labour, who have nothing but their labour power. 
That is the basic view of Marxists in examining all social 

A scientific understanding of the essence of classes 
gives rise to the acknowledgement of the inevitability of 
class struggle. If classes are antipodal in the mode of pro- 
duction and their interests are incompatible, it means that 
class struggle is an historical inevitability and not the 
product of someone’s ill will. 

Ever since society split up into classes, as can be seen 
from history, the exploiters and the exploited have been 
waging a continuous class struggle, either open or secret, 
peaceable or armed. It embraces all spheres of social life: 
economic, political and ideological. In antagonistic socio- 
economic formations, the class struggle is a motive 
force of social development. The revolutionary struggle of 
the classes carries society forward, brushes away what is 

1 Maurice Thorez, “Notion de classe et rolle historique de la classe 
ouvriére”’, ’Humanité, 14 mars, 1963, p. 7. 


old, the obsolescent, and helps to assert what is new and 
developing; it is the actual motor of history. 

The succession of socio-economic formations expressing 
the onward movement of society is the result of the conflict 
between the grown productive forces and the old, backward 
relations of production. In societies divided into antago- 
nistic classes, this conflict finds expression in the aggrava- 
tion of the class struggle, and is resolved through social 
revolution which is the highest form of class struggle. In 
this way, the transition from one formation to another in 
antagonistic society is effected through class struggle. 

Generalising the diverse facts of social life, Marx and 
Engels arrived at the conclusion that the history of all 
antagonistic societies has been a history of class struggle. 
“The very moment civilisation begins,’ Marx wrote in 
1847, “production begins to be founded on the antagonism 
of orders, estates, classes, and finally on the antagonism 
of accumulated labour and actual labour. No antagonism, 
no progress. This is the law that civilisation has followed 
up to our days. Till now the productive forces have been 
developed by virtue of this system of class antagonisms.”! 

2. Classes and Class Struggle 
in Developed Capitalist Countries 

To be able successfully to apply the Marxist theory of 
classes and class struggle to contemporary conditions, it 
is necessary above all to take into account that different 
countries have different levels of development, and that 
their class structure cannot be the same. The major and 
the minor classes are also different, and so are their 
numerical composition and their role and status in society. 

What is the class structure of the developed capitalist 

Let us start with a description of the working class, i.e., 
the class which is deprived of the means of production and 
is forced to live by selling its labour power to the owners 
of capital, and therefore subjected to exploitation within 
the system of capitalist production. 

1 Karl Marx, The Poverty of Philosophy, Moscow, p. 61. 

In contrast to earlier exploited classes—the slaves and 
the serfs—the working class is connected with the devel- 
oped form of economy, large-scale machine production. 
Being deprived of the means of production, it is not 
interested in the preservation of private property. It is 
the most advanced and resolute fighter against exploita- 
tion, and becomes the chief motive force of revolutionary 
transformation. By the very conditions of its labour, the 
proletariat becomes accustomed to unity, organisation and 
discipline. Lenin wrote: “Only the proletariat—by virtue 
of the economic role it plays in large-scale production—is 
capable of being the leader of all the working and exploited 

As a result of the development of the productive forces 
and rapid technological progress, considerable structural 
changes have taken place in the working class. 

With the growth of the social division of labour, pro- 
duction tends to involve ever greater number of workers 
of diverse skills performing not only manual but also 
mental labour. At the same time the sphere of capitalist 
exploitation is expanding and ever new strata of the 
population are being pushed into the ranks of the prole- 
tariat. The contemporary working class in developed 
capitalist countries consists of three basic contingents: 
industrial, agricultural and commercial. 

1. The industrial proletariat includes wage-workers in 
the manufacturing and extractive industries, building, 
transport, communications and the municipal economy. The 
leading role played by this working-class contingent with 
regard to other proletarians is determined by the fact that 
it is connected with Jlarge-scale production and is the 
principal producer of material wealth and the creator of 
surplus value. It differs from other contingents of the 
working class for its greater organisation, unity, a high 
class consciousness and experience in the class struggle; 
accordingly it is the nucleus of the working class. It is in 
the vanguard of the general struggle of the proletariat 
and all working people. That is why the industrial 
proletariat is the chief mainstay of the Marxist-Leninist 

1 Lenin, Collected Works, Vol. 25, pp. 403-04. 

2. The agricultural proletariat includes the workers in 
agricullural production and forestry. It is the principal 
bulwark of the proletarian movement in the countryside. 
Due to its labour conditions it is more scattered and less 
organised than the industrial proletariat. In connection 
with technological progress and the general decrease of the 
rural population, the agricultural proletariat is diminishing 
numerically in the developed capitalist countries. 

3. The commercial proletariat consists of workers in 
commerce, rank-and-file wage-workers in the services 
industry who take part in marketing the surplus value and 
are exploited by capital. The commercial proletariat 
comprises the least politically conscious sections of the 
workers. As compared with the industrial proletariat, it 
embraces more workers who have not yet become aware 
of their class interests and remain under the influence of 
bourgeois ideology. 

Contrary to the allegations of bourgeois sociologists, 
reformists and revisionists to the effect that the proletariat 
is numerically decreasing in the developed capitalist coun- 
tries and is dissolving in other social strata, in all countries 
without exception the number of factory workers is grow- 
ing, and, as we shall show below, many categories of 
office workers have drawn closer to them as regards their 
social position. This fully bears out Marx’s proposition 
that the accumulation of capital is at the same time a 
growth of the proletariat. In the mid-19th century, Britain, 
France, Germany and the United States had about 9-10 
million proletarians; by the early 1960s, the number of 
factory and office workers in the developed capitalist 
countries reached 200 million of whom almost 85 million 
were employed in industry. 

But the strength of the proletariat does not lie in its 
numbers alone. Lenin exposed the opportunists of the 
Second International who ignored the actual relationship 
of class forces and engaged in calculating the numerical 
strength of the proletariat, asserting that it could win 
power only when it constituted at least 51 per cent of the 
population of a country. Replying to the question, what 
does the strength of the class performing a social revolu- 
tion depend on, Lenin said it depended on “1) numbers; 
2) role in the country’s economy; 3) ties with the mass of 


working people; 4) organisation”.! He also wrote: “The 
strength of the proletariat in any capitalist country is far 
greater than the proportion it represents of the total popu- 
lation. That is because the proletariat economically domi- 
nates the centre and nerve of the entire economic system 
of capitalism, and also because the proletariat expresses 
economically and politically the real interests of the over- 
whelming majority of the working people under capital- 
ism.”? All these factors, on which the strength of the pro- 
letariat depends and which determine its role in the 
present-day revolutionary processes, have been greatly 
enhanced over the last few decades in all the capitalist 

In capitalist society the proletariat is opposed by the 
bourgeoisie which owns the basic means of production and 
exists by exploiting the wage labour of workers. 

“By bourgeoisie,’ Marx and Engels wrote, “is meant the 
class of modern capitalists, owners of the means of social 
production and employers of wage labour.’ 

The bourgeoisie took shape in the depths of feudal 
society, springing from the ranks of the rich guildsmen, 
burghers, rural rich and traders. Having played a progres- 
sive role in social development in its day, the bourgeoisie 
turned into a reactionary class and the main drag on social 
progress as capitalism developed and especially after it 
entered the stage of impcrialism. 

The bourgeoisie has never been uniform in status and 
role in society. In contemporary conditions, the bourgeoi- 
sie is divided into monopoly bourgeoisie, the big non- 
monopoly and middle bourgeoisie; and in spheres of invest- 
ment it falls into such groups as commercial, industrial, 
agricultural and banking. At the early stages of capitalist 
development the decisive role was played by the banking 
and commercial bourgeoisie; in the period of pre-monopoly 
capitalism, the dominant role went to the industrial bour- 
geoisie, while in the epoch of imperialism, the leading role 
belongs to monopoly bourgeoisie. The latter concentrates 
in its hands the bulk of social production. In the United 

1 Lenin Miscellany XI, Moscow, p. 391 (in Russian). 
2 Lenin, Collected Works, Vol. 30, p. 274. 
3 Marx and Engels, Selected Works, Vol. I, p. 34. 


States, for instance, a handful of multimillionaires and 
millionaires, who own the largest concerns and trusts, the 
financial magnates, the top managers, the senior govern- 
ment officials and the top brass have the uncontrolled use 
of the country’s wealth and amass fabulous fortunes. To 
promote their selfish aims, they conduct an aggressive 
foreign policy and intensify the oppression and plunder 
of broad sections of the population. It is the monopoly 
bourgeoisie that is the bulwark of modern colonialism and 
all other reactionary forces, and the suppressor of democ- 
racy. It is the force that is behind the arms drive. Its 
interests have grown to be antipodal to those of the whole 

The non-monopoly bourgeoisie continues to be an 
exploiter, deriving profit from the labour of the workers, 
but in modern conditions it is itself hemmed in by the 
monopolies. Its interests do not always coincide with those 
of the monopoly bourgeoisie. 

Scientists in some countries have estimated that the 
bourgeoisie in the highly developed capitalist countries 
account for 2-4 per cent of the gainfully employed popu- 
lation (5 per cent in the United States, 3.3 per cent in West 
Germany, 1-2 per cent in Britain and 2-4 per cent in 

With the development of capitalism, the bourgeoisie 
considerably increases its wealth, but at the same time the 
mechanism of the very process of capitalist production 
trains, unites and organises the proletariat. 

Besides the major classes, in the developed capitalist 
countries there is the minor class consisting of more or 
less numerous strata of petty bourgeoisie, particularly the 
peasants. With the development of capitalism there is a 
sleady differentiation in the peasantry and it loses the 
traits of a single class. The poor peasants have small land 
allotments, but their chief source of subsistence is not so 
much farming but the sale of their labour to the kulaks 
or the landowners. In effect, the rural poor are semi-prole- 
tarians or proletarians with a plot of land. By virtue of 
their condition, the poor peasants are reliable allies of the 
working class in the rural areas. The middle peasants live 
on income derived from their land allotments and as a rule 
do not sell their labour power. They have a dual social 


nature. On the one hand, they are exploited by the ruling 
classes, the monopolies and the banks, and their economic 
condition is in many respects similar to that of the prole- 
tariat. On the other hand, the middle peasant is a proprie- 
tor and a petty producer who hopes to become a bigger 
proprietor. Therefore, the middle peasantry occupies an 
intermediate position between the bourgeoisie and the 
proletariat, and vacillates between them. Under the leader- 
ship of the proletariat it is capable of resolute action 
against the exploiters. 

The ruin and ousting of the peasantry, as a result of 
which its numbers tend to decrease, is a law-governed 
process of capitalist development; this process is especially 
accelerated under state-monopoly capitalism. 

As had been said above, alongside the rural petty bour- 
geoisie there are various social strata, like the urban petty 
bourgeoisie (craftsmen, artisans, small merchants and other 
small entrepreneurs), the intelligentsia and the office 
workers in the developed capitalist countries. Together 
with the peasantry, they constitute what is known as the 
middle strata, which occupy an intermediate, transitional 
position between the two class poles of capitalist society: 
the working class and the bourgeoisie. 

Many Western sociologists assert that the middle strata, 
which they call the “middle classes”, swallow up the 
major classes of capitalist society—the bourgeoisie and the 
proletariat. They manipulate statistical data to “prove” that 
these strata are enlarging tremendously, which, they say, 
tends to create a classless society. People are included in 
the “middle strata” on the strength of occupation, earn- 
ings and other indicators. The British sociologist Joel 
Montague regards the “middle classes” as ‘“‘a_ series of 
Strata sharing, within very broad limits, a distinctive style 
of life’.1 This vague definition makes it possible to include 
among the middle strata men from different, even antago- 
nistic, classes, completely ignoring the relation of men 
to the means of production and their social status. No 
wonder this kind of approach puts people from different 
social classes and groups into the same stratum: it brackets 

1 Joel B. Montague Jr., Class and Nationality, New Haven, Conn., 
1963, p. 70. 

7-360 97 

policemen and prison wardens, rich farmers, minor 
employees and skilled workers. 

The current development of the capitalist countries shows 
the “middle classes” to be nothing but a myth. The 
numerical growth of some middle strata, which is actually 
taking place under capitalism, cannot erase the basic class 
division of capitalist society into the bourgeoisie and the 
proletariat; nor can it mitigate the contradiction between 
labour and capital. The facts prove the opposite. Despite 
the said growth, the class antagonisms, far from disappear- 
ing, are aggravated in a modern bourgeois society. 

Under imperialism the rural petty bourgeoisie is ousted 
from the key branches of material production. In some 
cases its income has dropped below the wages of skilled 
industrial workers. The oppression of monopoly capital 
annually increases the number of bankruptcies among the 
petty bourgeoisie. In modern conditions the vital economic 
and political interests of the urban petty bourgeoisie coin- 
cide with those of the working class or come closer to 
them. This enables the revolutionary forces to draw the 
urban petty bourgeoisie into the united anti-imperialist 
front of struggle for peace, democracy andi socialism. 

The bulk of the intelligentsia (such as teachers, rank- 
and-file doctors, etc.) are drawing closer to the working 
class in material condition. There is a growing critical 
attitude towards the bourgeois social system among them, 
because that system is hostile to true cultural development 
and is incapable of ensuring brain workers’ broad 
creative activity and a stable position in life. The monopoly 
offensive against the vital rights of the intelligentsia, the 
sharpening of the class struggle and the successes of the 
socialist countries induce intellectuals to abandon the 
bourgeois world outlook and actively participate in the 
struggle for the revolutionary transformation of social 

Office workers account for a large share of the social 
composition of the population of the developed capitalist 
countries. As a rule, they include wage-workers perform- 
ing mental work and receiving wages in the form of sala- 
ries. Most of them are employed in the government, 
economic or commercial and banking spheres. 

Like other social strata, office workers underwent 


considerable changes under imperialism. In the past their 
salaries were much higher than workers’ wages, and their 
privileged position allowed them to lead a bourgeois way 
of life. But things are different now. The living standard 
of many office employees is gradually coming down to 
that of industrial workers and the gap between the earn- 
ings of rank-and-file factory and office workers is 
disappearing. The mechanisation of office work has made 
it more similar to that of industrial workers and has consid- 
erably increased the actual subjugation of white-collar 
workers to capital. 

Today office workers are divided into several groups, 
according to their social status. The top section which 
takes part in exploiting the working people is close to the 
ruling class. A part of the middle section engaged in the 
supervision and management of government agencies and 
business enterprises, and those who are in the personal 
service of the privileged sections, tends to draw closer to 
the bourgeoisie. Yet the bulk of the small and middle 
white-collar workers exist by selling their labour power to 
the capitalists. They are under the pressure of the monop- 
olies, and are faced with the threat of unemployment and 
falling living standards; they belong to the lowest inter- 
mediate stratum whose status is close to that of the 

In bourgeois society, there is also a sizable stratum of 
declassed elements: beggars, bandits, thieves, prostitutes, 
the “Lumpenproletariat”, the dregs of capitalism and its 
offspring. This stratum is being constantly swelled by 
people from various classes and social groups. Marx and 
Engels said in their day that the Lumpenproletariat, 
because of its condition, is inclined to sell itself for reac- 
tionary purposes. Today, too, the reactionary classes recruit 
men from its ranks to help them attain their selfish crimi- 
nal aims. Thus, in the United States, gangsters are used to 
fight Negroes and progressives. 

All this shows that the developed capitalist countries 
present a highly complex and motley picture of class 
relations. But whatever the changes in capitalism, its chief 
class distinction continues to be the antagonism between 
the working class and the bourgeoisie. 

This antagonism finds its expression in the proletariat’s 


class struggle against the bourgevisie which assumes three 
main forms: economic, political and ideological (theoret- 

Economic struggle is the fight of the workers for the 
best terms on which they can sell their labour power to 
the capitalist, for direct improvement of economic condi- 
tions and the restriction of exploitation. Its aim is to safe- 
guard the professional interests of the working class. 

Strikes, partial or general, are an effective weapon of 
the workers’ economic struggle; any strike in a way 
reminds the employers that it is not they but the workers 
who are the real owners of the plants and mills. 

Economic struggle plays an important role in safeguard- 
ing the daily interests and unity of the working class but 
it does not affect the roots of the capitalist system, and 
leaves the big private property and the political power of 
the capitalists intact. At best, it wrests partial concessions 
from the employers. That is why the attempts to make the 
economic struggle pivotal and reduce the class struggle of 
the proletariat to paltry wage rises are essentially oppor- 

As socialist consciousness is introduced into the work- 
ing-class movement, the economic struggle develops into 
a political struggle and becomes the struggle of the work- 
ers as a class against the capitalists as a class. Political 
struggle is the main form of class struggle. 

All other forms of class struggle are subordinate to 
political struggle. It includes the active steps of the prole- 
tariat, under the leadership of the revolutionary Marxist 
party, against bourgeois legislation, for the attainment of 
political freedoms, for the extension of the rights of the 
working class and ultimately for the winning of political 
power. Already in the course of their economic struggle, 
the workers become convinced that they cannot improve 
their condition without political struggle. Even the eco- 
nomic struggle can be waged on a wider scale only if the 
workers have the right of assembly and! association, their 
own press and their own representatives in parliament. 
Political struggle embraces extensive nation-wide actions 
by the proletariat for the satisfaction of its cardinal] class 
interests. In politics, the workers’ class struggle cannot be 
confined to particulars but must spread to the very essence, 


to the esfablishment of the dictatorship of the proletariat. 
Lenin wrote: ‘““Marxism recognises a class struggle as fully 
developed, ‘nation-wide’, only if it does not merely embrace 
politics but takes in the most significant thing in politics— 
the organisation of state power.’’! 

Recognition of the historical inevitability of the winning 
of state power by the working class is the most important 
theoretical proposition and revolutionary conclusion of 
Marzism-Leninism. The experience of all the countries of 
the world socialist system has convincingly shown that the 
state power of the working class is the principal means for 
building a new society. 

The renegades of Marxism, all sorts of revisionist ele- 
ments like to talk about the influence of the working class 
on the state power, but gloss over the need for the prole- 
tariat to win independent political power. In practice this 
means disarming the working class in the face of class 

The following proposition advanced by Lenin is decisive 
for understanding the chief aims and tasks of the political 
struggle of the working class: “Those who recognise only 
the class struggle are not yet Marxists; they may be found 
to be still within the bounds of bourgeois thinking and 
bourgeois politics. To confine Marxism to the theory of 
the class struggle means curtailing Marxism, distorting it, 
reducing it to something acceptable to the bourgeoisie. A 
Marxist is solely someone who extends the recognition of 
the class struggle to the recognition of the dictatorship of 
the proletariat. This is what constitutes the most profound 
distinction between the Marxist and the ordinary petty 
(as well as big) bourgeois. This is the touchstone on which 
the real understanding and recognition of Marxism should 
be tested.”? 

The third form of class struggle is the ideological 
struggle. It is a scientific, ideological and_ theoretical 
struggle, waged with the aim of bringing the socialist 
ideology into the minds of working class, and completely 
overcoming the ideological influence of the bourgeoisie. 

The consistent, organised revolutionary struggle of the 

{ Lenin, Collected Works, Vol. 19, p. 122. 
2 [bid., Vol. 25, pp. 411-12. 


proletariat against the ruling class is impossible without 
a revolutionary theory, which must give a scientific expres- 
sion to its interests, aims and tasks. The introduction of 
advanced revolutionary ideology into the working-class 
movement, the linking up of the theory of scientific social- 
ism with the working-class movement are a_ necessary 
condition for transforming the spontaneous struggle of the 
proletariat into a conscious and victorious struggle. The 
obstacle is bourgeois ideology. 

The ruling class does everything it can to obscure the 
class consciousness of the proletariat, to undermine its 
confidence in its own strength and thus to perpetuate the 
capitalist system. It has a big propaganda machine and 
powerful means for shaping public opinion. The press, 
radio, television, speeches and religious sermons are all 
used to spread and inculcate bourgeois ideas and views. 

The bourgeoisie strives to influence the working class 
through reformism in the working-class movement and 
through revisionism and dogmatism in the communist 
movement. Right-wing Social-Democracy in contemporary 
conditions is the most important ideological and political 
mainstay of the bourgeoisie within the working-class 
movement. Previously, Right-wing Social-Democrats refused 
to extend recognition of the class struggle to the recogni- 
tion of the dictatorship of the proletariat; today, many of 
them reject not only the class struggle but even the 
existence of antagonistic classes in capitalist society. The 
leaders of the Right-wing Socialists in some countries have 
completely capitulated—ideologically and _politically—to 
the imperialist forces. The ideology and policy of anti- 
communism have led the social-reformists into an ideolog- 
ical and political impasse. 

Exposing the ideological propositions of the Right-wing 
Social-Democratic leaders the Communists are simultane- 
ously working for unity of action with the Social-Demo- 
crats, and uniting all working people for joint struggle 
against imperialism. 

Today bourgeois sociological literature dwells at length 
about the “disappearance of classes’, “the slackening down 
of the class struggle” and the “community of interests” of 
the employers and the workers. Bulky volumes, thick 
magazines and pretentiously illustrated newspapers in 


many countries are filled with allegations that it is no 
longer possible now to distinguish the bourgeois from the 
worker, that the class struggle has “become outmoded” 
and that the epoch of “social peace” has set in. They assert 
that the class struggle is unnatural and throws society 
back, and speak of “harmony of class interests” and “social 
peace”, which they claim, are the “motive forces of prog- 
ress”, The French sociologist Raymond Aron alleges that 
technological progress has not led to the enrichment of the 
capitalists, but to a reduction of working hours, that it has 
brought the interests of the workers and the employers 
closer together, and that the majority of workers in the 
West are not interested in the class struggle and revolu- 

These ideas have become widespread in the so-called 
theories of social mobility which stands for any noticeable 
movements of men in society. According to these theories, 
there are two kinds of mobility: horizontal and vertical. 
Horizontal mobility is the movement of men from one 
place of residence to another, from one job to another, 
within their social strata. Vertical mobility is the principal 
movement of men from one social stratum to another. The 
advocates of such theories are endeavouring to prove that 
in modern capitalist society social mobility supplants the 
class struggle. They assert that here each man has the 
possibility of ascending the social ladder and that all have 
an equal chance of becoming employers and millionaires. 
Hence the conclusion that the concepts “bourgeoisie”, 
“proletariat” andi “class struggle” have lost their meaning 
and are useless for science. 

All this contradicts reality. Of course, there are individ- 
ual cases of people moving into the “higher spheres” in 
capitalist countries. The main point, however, is that the 
overwhelming majority of working people under capitalism 
have no real chances for changing their status. They can 
achieve much through collective struggle but while there 
is capitalism they remain an oppressed and exploited mass 
without whom the very existence of capitalism is impos- 

In present-day conditions the aggravation of class 

' See R. Aron, La lutte des classes, Paris, 1964. 


contradictions in the capitalist system and the increasing 
exploitation of the working people intensify the class 
struggle. Contrary to the forecasts of bourgeois Right-wing 
socialist and revisionist theoreticians, the class struggle in 
the capitalist countries is not dying down. It is spreading 
and becoming more acute. Since the end of the war the 
number of strikes and strikers has grown considerably as 
compared with the pre-war period: between 1919 to 1939, 
there were 177,400 strikes involving 80,800,000 people, 
while from 1946 to 1966, there were 387,600 strikes involv- 
ing 297,900,000 people. 

While the number of factory and office workers in the 
developed capitalist countries has increased 50-100 per 
cent in the post-war years as compared with the pre-war 
period, the average annual number of strikers has risen 
250 per cent. A particularly tenacious strike struggle is 
waged by the proletarians of Italy, Japan, France, Belgium, 
the U.S.A., Britain and some other countries. It follows 
that the scope of the strike movement has increased con- 
siderably. This means that the assertions to the effect that 
strikes have become obsolete, that they have outlived 
themselves and are hehind the times hold absolutely no 

A feature of the present stage of the strike movement is 
that the working class is using flexible tactics and diverse 
forms of strikes against capital and is working out new 
methods of struggle. What is known as reverse strikes are 
now widespread in some countries alongside the well- 
known form of strike when all work is stopped. In Italy, 
for example, unemployed industrial and agricultural 
workers on their own initiative perform various socially 
useful jobs such as building canals, repairing and building 
roads, and then, supported by the local population, demand 
payment for their work. Sometimes workers remain at an 
enterprise where it is planned to cut back or stop produc- 
tion, and organise the manufacture and marketing of the 
products themselves. In actual fact they take over the 
plants that are about to close down. 

A characteristic feature of the present stage of the class 
battles is that the range of economic and political demands 
of the working class has broadened considerably. Under 
state-monopoly capitalism it is not only individual indu- 


Strialists and their associations that confront the working 
class in the economic sphere but also the bourgeois state 
itself. Hence the economic struggle of the proletariat 
objectively acquires political significance and a_ political 
character. The struggle of the working class for its vital 
economic demands (higher wages, reduction of working 
hours, changes in social legislation, etc.) is combined and 
closely interweaves with the political struggle for demo- 
cratic freedoms, radical constitutional changes and _ anti- 
monopoly reforms. 

Factory and office workers in France, Italy and other 
countries are ever more resolutely demanding the nation- 
alisation of key economic branches, participation of trade 
unions in factory management and radical anti-monop- 
oly reforms. The working people of Japan are in increas- 
ing measure tying up the demands for higher wages with 
demands for dismantling U.S. military bases and prohib- 
iting the entry of U.S. nuclear submarines into Japanese 
ports. In the U.S.A., the 20 million Negroes have consider- 
ably stepped up their fight for civil rights and against 
racial discrimination. There is a mounting wave of protest 
of the American working people against U.S. imperialism’s 
lousy war in Vietnam. 

The proportion of political strikes in the strike move- 
ment has considerably increased in recent years. While in 
1958, 11-12 million people, or 40 per cent of the total 
number of strikers, were involved in political strikes in 
capitalist countries, in 1963, they embraced over 36 mil- 
lion, or about 62 per cent of all strikers. The increasing 
number of political strikes vividly proves that the class 
consciousness of the working class is growing. Nation-wide 
political actions by the working people against monopoly 
capital have become highly significant. In the period be- 
tween 1958 and 1962, over 80 nation-wide strikes against 
the rule of monopoly capital, its domination over the 
nation and the country, were held in 40 capitalist states. 

An important feature of the class struggle in present-day 
conditions is the increasing cohesion with the working class 
of other social strata fighting against the oppression of the 
monopolies. Peasants, petty urban proprietors, engineers, 
technicians, low- and middle-income brackets of white- 
collar workers are realising more and more that their basic 


interests coincide with those of the working class, and are 
increasingly drawn into the anti-monopoly struggle. In 
some countries there was mass peasant action against the 
state and the monopolies whose combined efforts are 
intensifying the oppression and ruin of small holders, 
depriving them of prospects for independent existence. 
Government employees, teachers and students held big 
strikes in Japan, Italy and other countries. Today people 
with diverse world outlooks, from Communists and Social- 
ists to Catholics, are rising in defence of democracy. 

In some capitalist countries (France, Spain) the more 
realistically-minded Catholic clergy, taking into account 
that the balance of forces in the world and in their coun- 
tries has changed in favour of socialism, are turning their 
faces to the masses and are coming out for a dialogue with 
the Marxists. 

It follows, therefore, that broad anti-monopoly front 
is being formed in the developed capitalist countries. This 
is a law-governed process. The aggravation of contradic- 
tions between monopoly capital and the interests of the 
whole nation narrows the social basis of the domination 
of the monopolies, expands the social basis of the class 
struggle and increases the number of the proletariat’s 
allies. That is why the general democratic demands are 
playing an increasing role in the struggle of the working 
class and all working people. 

With the growth and strengthening of the united anti- 
monopoly front the working class and its allies acquire 
increasing opportunities for using the democratic rights 
and institutions which they have won to fight against 
monopcly rule. The democratic reforms which, due to the 
pressure of the masses, are enacted in the interests of the 
working class and other strata of working people expand 
the bridgehead of a decisive offensive on capitalism. That 
is why the fight for democracy and extension of the rights 
of the masses is an important constituent of class battles 
and a component of the struggle for socialism. 

An important role in the class struggle is played by 
political groupings and parties. Lenin said that the strug- 
gle of parties was the fullest and most complete expression 
of the political class struggle. 

Political parties exist because there are classes, and each 


party is inalienably bound up with a definite class. A party 
represents the most active section of a class and in its 
activity expresses the interests of this class. There are no 
non-class parties in society. Some sociologists in an effort 
to cover up the class nature of bourgeois parties insist 
that they unite people with identical convictions and allege 
that they are unrelated to classes. To illustrate this they 
point to the existence of two-party systems in some capi- 
talist countries and assert that they express the interests 
of all classes. Actually, however, the two-party system 
merely strengthens the domination of the bourgeoisie. The 
existence of many bourgeois parties in no sense refutes the 
thesis about their class content. The fact of the matter is 
that, being of a bourgeois class character, different parties 
also express the interests of diverse social groups of the 
capitalist class, which explains the existence of specific 
differences in their political programmes, particularly in 
the ways for effectuating the domestic and foreign policies 
of the bourgeoisie. 

It follows that the working class is by no means indif- 
ferent to what bourgeois party is in power. This, above all, 
is important for working out the tactics of struggle at a 
particular stage of the development of political life in the 

In capitalist countries today there are also many petty- 
bourgeois parties, catering to the interests of various strata 
of the petty bourgeoisie and associated social groups. The 
dual nature of the petty bourgeoisie as a social class 
determines the inconsistency, vacillation, zigzags and 
sudden turns in the policy of its parties. 

Of all the modern political parties, the most massive and 
genuinely revolutionary are the Communist and Workers’ 
Marxist-Leninist Parties, which are the most organised and 
advanced sections of the working class in each country and 
express the vital interests not only of the workers but of 
all working people. Marxist-Leninist parties are the polit- 
ical leaders of the proletariat. From the very outset they 
act as the highest form of class organisation of the 

The first Communist Party—the Communist League— 
organised by Marx and Engels had about 300 members; 
today there are 88 Marxist-Leninist parties on all conti- 


nents uniting almost 50 million courageous and honest 
fighters for communism. The world communist movement 
has strengthened and expanded its positions as the most 
influential political force of our day and a major factor of 
social progress. The Communist Parties in capitalist 
countries are working for the unity of all democratic forces 
and parties capable of fighting for social progress, for the 
liquidation of monopoly rule. 

3. Classes and Class Struggle in Countries 
Which Are Fighting for or Have Won 
National Independence 

The class structure of these countries differs in many 
ways from that of the advanced capitalist countries. The 
existence of numerous feudal survivals and in some cases 
even of the remnants of slave-owning relations, and the 
combination of pre-capitalist and capitalist relations of 
production create a peculiar class structure. At the same 
time, the newly free countries or those that are freeing 
themselves substantially differ from each other in the 
composition, numerical strength and role of the various 
social classes. For instance, most of the Latin American 
countries have a relatively developed working class and 
bourgeoisie. In many African countries the national bour- 
geoisie and the working class are in their embryonic stage, 
while the communal form of property prevails in agricul- 
ture. The class structure of the Asian countries is a motley 
one. In India, for instance, there is a big bourgeoisie, but 
there is none in Nepal, Cambodia and Laos. 

The working class is young and small in most of these 
countries, because their industry has started developing 
relatively recently and is still small. But its numerical 
strength is growing from year to year. Although the newly 
free countries differ from each other in many respects 
the following features are common to their working 

1. It is a small section of the population because the 
industry of these countries is still weak. In some Asian and 
African countries the industrial proletariat began to emerge 
only after the Second World War. 


—— > ———— 

2. Unskilled and low skilled workers are predominant 
among the industrial proletariat (up to 80-90 per cent in 
Asia and Africa). Their low skills are due to the low level 
of general education (80-90 per cent of the population of 
these countries are illiterate). There is wider use of the 
labour of women and children in industry than is the case 
in the developed countries. : 

3. A considerable section of the working class is concen- 
trated on small and medium enterprises. This accounts for 
its fragmentation, which is having a negative effect on the 
formation of its class consciousness and makes it harder 
for all workers to unite and wage a joint struggle against 

4. There is a considerable number of agricultural 

The peasantry is a natural ally of the working class. 
Numerically, it is the biggest section of the population in 
these countries. The vast majority of the peasants live in 
extremely bad conditions. In Asia, Latin America and 
Africa, the practice is to parcel out land among the peasants 
with tenancy on harsh terms. Most of the peasants there 
are either land hungry or have none at all. Landless 
peasants make up 66 per cent of the total rural population 
in India, 60 per cent in Iran, more than 80 per cent in 
Iraq, about 70 per cent in the Lebanon, 50 per cent in 
Morocco and 72 per cent in Argentina. Therefore peasants 
are forced to lease land from the landowners. 

In the Latin American countries, the peasants are 
exploited not only by the local landowners and the bour- 
geoisie but also by the monopolies of the United States and 
other imperialist countries. United Fruit Company, for 
instance, owns more than a million hectares of land, and 
has its own banana, sugar-cane and cocoa plantations. The 
feudal and semi-feudal oppression of the landowners is 
closely intertwined with the colonial oppression of foreign 
monopolies. Therefore the elimination of colonial oppres- 
sion is inseparably bound up with the eradication of feudal 
survivals in the countryside. 

An alliance between the working class and the peasantry, 
under the leadership of the working class, is the most 
important force in carrying out profound revolutionary 
transformations and in consolidating the national independ- 


ence of the developing countries. This alliance is destined 
to be the basis of a broad national front of struggle against 
imperialism and colonialism. 

The bourgeoisie in many newly free countries is divided 
into such strata as the national bourgeoisie and the pro- 
imperialist, compradore bourgeoisie. 

The national bourgeoisie is a stratum of the bourgeoisie 
whose economic and political interests are infringed by 
the domination of the imperialist countries and which is 
objectively interested in developing the productive forces 
and exploiting the national market without interference 
from the parent state. This stratum, as a rule, invests its 
capital in the development of national production and 
strives to expel the foreign monopolies from the economy 
and free itself from foreign dependence. 

The pro-imperialist, compradore bourgeoisie is a stratum 
whose economic and political interests are bound up with 
the foreign monopolies dominating the country and which 
is hostile to the patriotic national forces. This stratum 
wants to preserve its privileges obtained from the parent 
state, and is a bulwark of the colonial oppression of 

The class of landowners is economically strong and 
politically influential in most of the newly free countries. 
It includes hereditary feudals, like the rajahs of the “self- 
governing” feudal principalities in India, Arab sheikhs, 
owners of latifundia and vast herds of cattle in Latin 
America, and the “new” landowners from among the 
usurers, traders and officials who had bought up land from 
ruined peasants. 

The class of landowners is concerned with preserving 
its privileges and, as a rule, is hostile to the national liber- 
ation struggle. It is the main force of internal reaction 
and colonialism. 

The imperialist monopolies still control the economy 
and resources of many Asian, African and Latin American 
countries and amass huge profits. The imperialists are 
arrogantly interfering in the internal affairs of the newly 
free countries, increasing subversive activity against revo- 
lutionary governments and hatching plots against them. 
That is why the main content of the class struggle in the 
newly free countries are bitter clashes between the pro- 


gressive forces and the crafty imperialist foe and internal 

The working class is the most consistent and resolute 
fighter against imperialist oppression for complete national 
independence and freedom. When it wins hegemony of the 
national liberation movement, it quickly solves all its 
major problems, considerably accelerates the country’s 
transition to the non-capitalist path of development and, 
in the final count, to socialist transformations. 

In many of the former colonial and dependent countries, 
the national bourgeoisie leads the national liberation 
struggle. So far it has not exhausted its inherent progres- 
sive tendencies. But owing to its dual nature it is inclined 
to conciliation with imperialism and feudalism. Therefore, 
its policy may be not only progressive but reactionary, too. 
In certain conditions, it can even form a direct alliance 
with imperialism and betray the revolution. 

In some countries, where there is no working class as 
yet or where it is still weak, the leadership of the national 
liberation movement is assumed by revolutionary-demo- 
cratic forces which express the interests of the peasants, 
handicraftsmen, the urban petty bourgeoisie, the patriotic 
intelligentsia, and so forth. 

The cardinal problem of the newly free countries is that 
of choosing the way for their further socio-economic and 
political development. Various classes and parties advance 
their own ideas of overcoming economic backwardness 
and poverty. As regards the toiling people and all progres- 
sive forces in these countries, they are ever more reso- 
lutely linking up the prospects of the complete victory of 
the national liberation revolution with non-capitalist 
development. Important social reforms have already been 
carried out in the United Arab Republic, Algeria, Mali, 
Guinea, Congo (Brazzaville), Burma and elsewhere. Their 
revolutionary leadership, backed by the popular masses, 
abolishes foreign monopolies, nationalises capitalist enter- 
prises, develops the state sector in the economy and! puts 
through social reforms in the interests of the people. 

From their own experience the peoples of the newly 
free countries are becoming convinced that socialism is 
their only road to freedom and happiness. The ideas of 
scientific socialism, in their concrete application to the life 


and struggle of the peoples of these countries, will inev- 
itably triumph there, too, despite the resistance of the 
imperialists and reactionaries of all hues. 

4, Classes and Class Struggle in the Socialist Countries 
in the Period of Transition from Capitalism to Socialism 

The ultimate goal of the working-class struggle is the 
establishment of a classless communist society. The main 
prerequisite for the eradication of classes is the abolition 
of private ownership of the means of production. Lenin 
wrote that “in order to abolish classes completely, it is not 
enough to overthrow the exploiters ... not enough to 
abolish their rights of ownership; it is necessary also to 
abolish all private ownership of the means of production, 
it is necessary to abolish the distinction between town and 
country, as well as the distinction between manual workers 
and brain workers. This requires a very long period of 

The experience of the U.S.S.R. and other socialist coun- 
tries has shown that to abolish classes and class distinctions 
it is necessary: 

first, to put an end to the rule of the exploiter classes, 
and abolish their private ownership of the means of pro- 
duction—the economic basis of exploitation of man by 

secondly, to transform the individual, small commodity 
farms into large collective farms, complete the formation 
of a single socialist system of economy and eliminate the 
kulaks, the last of the exploiting classes; 

thirdly, to fully overcome the class distinctions be- 
tween the workers and peasants, and also the essential 
distinctions between town and country and_ between 
mental and physical labour. 

The first two problems were solved in the U.S.S.R. in 
the period of transition from capitalism to socialism, 
while the third problem is being solved in the period of 
the gradual transition from socialism to communism. 

The existence of different economic structures is inevit- 

{ Lenin, Collected Works, Vol. 29, p. 421. 

— 2 <- 

able in the period of transition from capitalism to social- 
ism. Not less than three economic structures—socialist, pet- 
ty commodity production and capitalist, with the socialist 
structure playing the leading role—are to be found in all 
socialist countries in that period. These structures have 
their corresponding classes: the working class, the petty 
commodity producers (predominantly peasants) and the 
bourgeoisie. As for the class of landowners, it ceases to exist 
following the liquidation of the landed estates, its 
economic basis. 

The establishment of the dictatorship of the proletariat 
lays the beginning for the abolition of the exploiting 
classes and radically changes society’s class structure. With 
the loss of its political power and the nationalisation of 
the basic means of production, the bourgeoisie ceases to 
be a major class and becomes a minor one and is subse- 
quently abolished altogether. The working class stops 
being an oppressed class and becomes the ruling class, 
acting as the organiser and guide of socialist construction 
and society’s leading force. From a class that under 
capitalism was deprived of the means of production it 
turns into a class which owns them together with the rest 
of the working people. The working peasantry becomes a 
major class. The masses of poor and middle peasants are 
freed from landowner oppression and kulak bondage. 
The organisation of collective farms opens up before the 
peasants broad prospects for uninterrupted growth of their 
material and cultural standards. The working class and 
the working peasantry consolidate and develop their al- 
liance on the basis of the community of vital economic 
and political interests. A new, socialist intelligentsia 
appears in the transition period. 

The radical change in the class structure of society 
determines a corresponding change in the forms of class 
struggle. The class struggle does not stop in the period 
of transition from capitalism to socialism, but its tasks, 
forms and means undergo essential changes considerably 
owing to its changing objective conditions. This is pri- 
marily due to the fact that now the working class con- 
ducts the struggle as the ruling class possessing such a 
powerful weapon as the state. The tasks of the struggle 
also become different. The two most important are: first, 

8-360 113 

it is necessary to fight against the exploiters, suppress 
their resistance and finally abolish them. The chief con- 
tradiction of the transition period is the antagonistic con- 
tradiction between the working class and the bourgeoisie. 
Therefore, the class struggle between the forces of grow- 
ing socialism and the dying capitalism is conducted in all 
spheres of social life. The outcome of this struggle depends 
enormously on whom the peasantry will follow—the work- 
ing class or the bourgeoisie. Hence the second major task 
of the class struggle is systematically to guide and influence 
the working peasantry. Lenin pointed out that this 
influence is inconceivable without a struggle, a struggle 
of a special kind in which persuasion, example, patient 
explanation and development of socialist consciousness 
play a very important role. 

The forms of class struggle also change. In the early 
years of Soviet rule, Lenin, in his draft for the pamphlet 
The Dictatorship of the Proletariat, laid particular em- 
phasis on the following forms of the working-class strug- 
gle in Soviet Russia: (1) Suppression of the resistance of 
the exploiters. (2) Civil war. (3) ‘“Neutralisation” of the 
petty bourgeoisie, especially the peasantry. (4) ‘“Ultilisa- 
tion” of the bourgeoisie. (5) Inculcation of a new 

The first of these forms of struggle during the transi- 
tion from capitalism to socialism is the suppression of the 
resistance of the exploiters. In the course of the establish- 
ment and consolidation of the dictatorship of the prole- 
tariat, the working class encounters the stubborn resistance 
of the overthrown exploiter classes, the landowners 
and the urban and rural bourgeoisie. The bourgeoisie still 
possesses greater administrative and organisational exper- 
ience and a higher level of education than the working 
class. It has numerous specialists and retains considerable 
financial resources and personal property. Another source 
from which the bourgeoisie draws its strength is the exist- 
ence of commodity production which in the transition 
period can breed capitalism continuously and on a mass 
scale. International capitalism and the imperialist camp 
is the chief base and one of the main sources of the 

1 See Lenin, Collected Works, Vol. 30, pp. 96, 97, 98. 

strength of the overthrown exploiters. The deposed bour- 
geoisie retains its international ties and is consistently 
supported by world capital in its struggle against the 
victorious working class. 

The suppression of the exploiters’ resistance by the 
working class is an historical inevitability. It is effected 
by economic, political, military and other means, depend- 
ing on concrete conditions and the acuteness of the class 

The second form of class struggle during the transition 
from capitalism to socialism is civil war, the most acute 
form of struggle between antagonistic classes, in which 
they take up arms against each other. 

In the Soviet state, the exploiting classes, after being 
defeated in mutinies and in kulak uprisings, and having 
realised that they are not strong enough to win political 
power, joined with external imperialist forces and un- 
leashed a civil war. At the cost of great effort and sacrifice, 
the working people of Soviet Russia led by the Commu- 
nist Party routed the forces of military intervention and 
internal counter-revolution and won the civil war. 

In the European People’s Democracies the situation was 
different. As a result of the rout of nazism by the Soviet 
Army and the internal forces of these countries and also 
thanks to the Soviet Union’s assistance to the liberated 
peoples, this form of class struggle did not develop there. 
Consequently, civil war cannot be considered a general 
Jaw of the class struggle in the period of transition from 
capitalism to socialism. Its outbreak depends on concrete 
historical conditions, most of all on the resistance of the 
exploiters, its nature, etc. 

The third form of the proletariat’s class struggle in the 
transition period is the “neutralisation” of the petty bour- 
geoisie, especially the peasantry. In the narrow sense of 
the word, neutralisation meant a working-class policy 
aimed at preventing the middle peasantry from siding 
with the bourgeoisie. Actually, it was a struggle waged by 
the working class for influencing the peasantry and for 
winning it over to its side. 

The working class takes into account the dual nature of 
the petty commodity producers. On the one hand, they 
are working people and do not exploit the labour of 

BS 115 

others, which brings them close to the workers. On the 
other, they are private proprietors and commodity pro- 
ducers, and this brings them close to the bourgeoisie. 
Because of their dual nature, the peasantry inevitably 
displays instability and vacillates between the proletariat 
and the bourgeoisie in the transition period. In these con- 
ditions, it is the task of the working class to help the 
peasants overcome their private ownership mentality, tear 
them away from the influence of capital and draw them 
into active socialist construction. 

During the October Revolution, in the first year of 
Soviet power in Russia, the middle peasants strongly vac- 
illated between the working class and the bourgeoisie. 
That being the case, the working class conducted a policy 
of “neutralising” the middle peasantry lo prevent it from 
siding with the bourgeoisie. When at the end of 1918 
and beginning of 1919 it became clear that the middle 
peasants had finally decided in favour of Soviet power, the 
Communist Party supplanted the policy of ‘neutralising’ 
them with a policy of establishing a firm alliance with 
them. But the struggle between the working class and the 
bourgeoisie for influence over the middle peasantry con- 
tinued until the exploiting classes were completely abol- 

In the People’s Democracies, the working-class struggle 
for influence over the peasantry has specific features of 
its own, the chief being that there was no need to conduct 
a policy of neutralising the middle peasantry. This was 
due to the fact that during the preparations for the social- 
ist revolution and when it was conducted, there was an 
alliance between the working class, as the leader of the 
revolution, and the broad masses of working people, whose 
interests completely coincided with those of the working 
class. This alliance was largely consolidated in the gen- 
eral democratic struggle against the forces of fascist reac- 

The fourth form of class struggle in the period of tran- 
sition from capitalism to socialism, according to Lenin, 
is the “utilisation” of the bourgeoisie, that is, the recruit- 
ment of bourgeois intellectuals into socialist construction. 
This task comes to the fore in all countries advancing 
along the new, revolutionary road of development, because 


the normal operation of the national economy and the 
state machinery as well as scientific, technical and cul- 
tural development require specialists whom the working 
class lacks almost completely when it comes to power. 
The working class not only has to suppress the resistance 
of the exploiters and influence the peasantry but also to 
ulilise bourgeois specialists in the construction of socialist 
society and to re-educate the old intelligentsia. 

The working class has to wage a_ stubborn struggle 
against its class enemies for influence over the intellectuals. 
The top layer of the old intelligentsia, which has coalesced 
with the class of capitalists, as a rule refuses to serve the 
new power. The numerous middle group of the intelligent- 
sia does not immediately find its place in the general 
struggle and hesitates for a time before joining one of the 
camps. The proletarian intelligentsia loses no time in active- 
ly joining construction of the new life. The working class, 
while resolutely suppressing the saboteurs and wreckers, 
displays special tact, patience and care in dealing with the 
mass of the old intellectuals. Paralle] with the task of re- 
educating the old intellectuals in the initial period of 
development of socialist countries the task of creating a 
new, socialist intelligentsia from among the workers and 
peasants is also solved. 

The fifth form of class struggle of the proletariat in the 
period of transition from capitalism to socialism is the 
inculcation of a new discipline. “‘Every new social order,” 
Lenin wrote, “demands new relations between man and 
man, a new discipline.”! In order to build socialism, it is 
necessary not only to abolish the exploiting classes, remould 
the petty commodity producers in the socialist spirit and 
utilise the bourgeois intellectuals, but also radically to re- 
mould the consciousness of the working masses. Accord- 
ingly, the working class conducts a struggle for implant- 
ing a new attitude to labour, for preserving and increas- 
ing social property, obliterating the survivals of capitalism 
in the minds of the people and for the observance of the 
communist morality. ““Doesn’t the class struggle in the 
epoch of the transition from capitalism to socialism take 
the form of safeguarding the interests of the working class 

1 Lenin, Collected Works, Vol. 27, p. 515. 

against the few, the groups and sections of workers who 
stubbornly cling to capitalist traditions and continue to 
regard the Soviet state in the old way: work as little and 
as badly as they can and grab as much money as possible 
from the state.”! 

A very important means in the fight against the exploit- 
ers for inculcating a new discipline and eradicating the 
habits and traditions of the old society is the socialist 
education of the working people, in which explanation and 
persuasion are the chief means, although compulsion against 
those who stubbornly refuse to submit to the new disci- 
pline is not ruled out. The socialist state and law become a 
powerful instrument of educating the working people and 
of punishing those who persistently disrupt discipline. 

Thus, in the period of transition from capitalism to 
socialism, the working class continues to wage a resolute 
class struggle for fulfilling its aims and tasks, but with new 
means and in new forms. The class struggle in this period 
remains one of the motive forces of social development. 

5. The Overcoming of Class Distinctions 
in the Period of Gradual Transition 
from Socialism to Communism 

As a result of the completion of the period: of transition 
from capitalism to socialism, on the basis of the consoli- 
dation and development of the socialist mode of produc- 
tion, radical changes take place in the social structure of 
society. Class antagonisms disappear with the abolition of 
the exploiting classes and the distinctions between town 
and country and between mental and physical labour are 
gradually erased. Socialist society consists of two friendly 
classes—the workers and the collective farmers—and a 
social strata of people’s intelligentsia. 

The radical changes in the class structure of society are 
manifested not only in the abolition of the exploiter 
classes but also in the profound changes in the social coun- 
tenance of all social groups. The working class has com- 
pletely and for ever freed itself from all forms of exploi- 

1 Lenin, Collected Works, Vol. 28, p. 97. 

tation and is wholly concentrated at socialist enterprises. 
No workers are employed at private capitalist enterprises. 
The peasants have been transformed from a class of petty 
proprietors into a class organised in large collective farms. 
The social differentiation of the peasants into the poor, the 
middle and the rich has been done away with completely. 
The intelligentsia arises directly from the ranks of the 
working people. It has all its roots in the people and serves 
them. The welfare and the cultural standards of the work- 
ers, collective farmers and intellectuals improve with 
every passing year and their communist consciousness 

The chief distinctive feature of socialism in the class 
sense is the socio-political and ideological unity of society, 
signifying its new qualitative state, in which a community 
of economic and political interests and a single ideology 
for the whole people have been achieved. The economic 
basis of this socio-political and ideological unity is the 
socialist mode of production, which has won out not only 
in the town but in the country as well. The political basis 
of this unity is the socialist state system and consistent 
democracy ensuring the all-round development of the indi- 
vidual. All members of socialist society have real demo- 
cratic rights to labour, rest, education, freedom of speech. 
the press, assembly, etc. The ideological basis of unity is 
socialist ideology, Marxism-Leninism. 

The working class is the most advanced and organised 
class of socialist society, because it alone can help the 
working people to unite and safeguard and consolidate 
communist society and complete its construction. 

The alliance of the working class and the collective 
farmers under the leadership of the former is the prime 
prerequisite for completely surmounting class distinctions 
and building a classless society. 

What is the basis of the working class’s leading role 
and how is this role manifested? 

In the economic sphere it is the chief productive force 
of socialist society, ensuring steady technological progress 
and introducing new forms of labour organisation and 
management of production and new forms of socialist 
emulation. The working class, directly connected with the 
property of the whole people, ensures the growth of heavy 


industry and gives great assistance to the collective farm- 
ers by cquipping agricultural production with new ma- 
chinery. This assistance of the socialist town to the country- 
side, combined with the labour of the workers in agri- 
culture, is the decisive condition for the further rise of 
agricultural production. 

In the political sphere, the role of the working class is 
most strikingly revealed in the fact that it is the leader of 
the alliance of the workers and the peasants. The working 
class exercises its guiding influence on society by its high 
degree of organisation and consciousness and_ political 
activity in state and mass organisations. It cements into a 
single whole the nations and nationalities and develops 
and strengthens their friendship. 

In the sphere of ideology the role of the working class 
is expressed in its ideological influence on society, in 
cultural construction, because it is the most consistent 
vehicle of communist ideals, a fighter for socialist inter- 
nationalism and champion of the fraternal solidarity of 

The workers, peasants and intellectuals in socialist 
society are united on the main point: the relation to the 
means of production. The property of the whole people 
is the common property of all members of society; they 
are all equally concerned in its development and growth. 
That is what primarily makes up the basis of the common 
vital interests of all social groups. Therefore with the 
victory of socialism, the class distinctions between the 
workers and peasants have in the main been overcome. 

In socialist society, however, there remain some distinc- 
tions between them, particularly the distinction in their 
relation to the means of production. This distinction arises 
from the fact that the workers work at state enterprises, 
which are the property of the entire people, and constitute 
the highest degree of the socialisation of the means of 
production, while the peasants work in collective farms, 
which are the property of separate groups of men and 
where only the chief means of production are socialised. 
There is also a certain distinction in the role they play 
in the social organisation of labour. The state enterprises 
where the working class is employed are a higher form 
of organisation of social labour than the collective farms, 


It should also be added that under socialism the working 
class plays the leading part in the organisation of social 

There are also some distinctions between the working 
class and the collective-farm peasantry in the mode of 
obtaining a share of the social wealth and its size. In line 
with the single socialist principle of distribution according 
to labour, the workers are paid wages for their labour in 
cash from the social consumption fund, whereas the 
peasants receive their income in cash and in kind from 
the income of their collective farm and a part from their 
personal subsidiary farms. 

At present, the Soviet Union has entered a historical 
period of development, when a classless, communist society 
is gradually being set up. 

The C.P.S.U. Programme strikingly characterises the 
communist social system. “Communism,” it states, “is a 
classless social system with one form of public ownership 
of the means of production and full social equality of all 
members of society; under it, the all-round development 
of people will be accompanied by the growth of the pro- 
ductive forces through continuous progress in science and 
technology; all the springs of co-operative wealth will flow 
more abundantly, and the great principle ‘From each ac- 
cording to his ability, to each according to his needs’ will 
be implemented. Communism is a highly organised society 
of free, socially conscious working people in which public 
self-government will be established, a society in which 
labour for the good of society will become the prime vital 
requirement of everyone, a necessity recognised by one and 
all, and the ability of each person will be employed to the 
greatest benefit of the people.”! 

Thus, communism is a classless society where full social 
equality of people is achieved. All its members will have 
equal relation to the means of production, equal condi- 
tions of work and distribution and will actively participate 
in the management of public affairs. Communist equality 
should not be identified with wage-levelling when all people 
get an equal share of the material and cultural values. It 
means that all members of society will be afforded equal 

1 The Road to Communism, p. 509. 


conditions and opportunities for an all-round and full 
development of their abilities. 

Lenin said that for the complete elimination of classes 
a great step forward had to be made in the development 
of the productive forces. The economic basis for the com- 
plete elimination of class distinctions is the comprehensive 
development of the productive forces and the improve- 
ment of the socialist relations of production. 

In complete conformity with Lenin’s behests, the Pro- 
gramme of the C.P.S.U. considers the creation of the 
material and technical basis of communism to be the 
principal economic task of the U.S.S.R. There will be a 
great economic and cultural advance in town and country 
as a result of the electrification of the whole country, 
chemicalisation of the national economy, improvement of 
technology, complex mechanisation and automation of 
production processes and a considerable growth in the 
productivity of labour. Agriculture is drawing ever closer 
to industry as regards the machine-to-worker ratio and 
organisation of production, thus changing the nature of 
the peasant’s labour and the peasant himself who is 
becoming a skilled worker with technical knowledge match- 
ing that of the industria] worker. 

The Five-Year Economic Development Plan of the 
U.S.S.R. for 1966-70 envisages fresh moves to eliminate 
the essential distinctions between town and country. Higher 
growth rates of labour productivity are envisaged for 
agriculture than for industry. It is planned to increase 
capital investments into the whole of the economy by 50 
per cent and into agriculture by 100 per cent, as com- 
pared with the preceding five-year plan. A huge amount of 
tractors, harvesters, lorries and other agricultural ma- 
chinery will flow into the rural areas. The total amount of 
electricity consumed by agricultural production will 
increase by 200 per cent. 

An important social task which has to be fulfilled dur- 
ing the five-year period is that of achieving a further ap- 
proximation of the material and cultural standards of the 
rural and urban population, the collective farmers and 
workers. The incomes of the collective farmers from public 
economy will go up from 35 to 40 per cent, and the wages 
of factory and office workers will rise by 20 per cent. The 


pension scheme established for factory and office workers 
has been extended to the collective farmers, and the size 
of the pension grants will be increased. As living standards 
of the collective farmers rise there is considerable im- 
provement in the cultural level and the mode of life in the 
countryside. The rural areas receive greater assistance 
from urban cultural and educational establishments and 
theatres. In the current five-year period everyday services 
will increase by 150 per cent throughout the country and 
by more than 200 per cent in the rural areas. Extensive 
housing construction will be conducted both in towns and 

The construction of communist society presupposes the 
eradication of distinctions not only between the workers 
and peasants but also between them and the intellectuals, 
a process that is connected with the elimination of the 
essential distinctions between mental and physical labour. 

The complex mechanisation and automation of pro- 
duction, and the growth of the cultural and technical level 
of the working people, will lead to an organic fusion of 
mental and physical labour in the productive activity of 
men, and to an obliteraton of the distinctions between them. 

As the distinctions between the workers, collective 
farmers and the intellectuals are gradually erased, these 
social groups will draw closer and closer to each other. 
In the long run the intelligentsia will cease to be a special 
social group, because all working people as regards their 
cultural and technical level will rise to the level of brain 

Following the abolition of exploiter classes, the relations 
between the classes in the country are no longer relations 
of class struggle. But this does not mean that the question 
of class struggle does not exist for the U.S.S.R. It must be 
borne in mind that in the country there are still survivals 
of capitalism, and the struggle against them has a certain 
class character. Moreover, these survivals are sustained and 
revived by the capitalist world from the outside. 

It must also be remembered that the outer front of the 
class struggle wholly remains even in conditions of the 
victorious socialism, as long as the capitalist world exists. 


6. Class Struggle in the International Arena 

The present epoch, whose main content is the transition 
from capitalism to socialism, is an epoch of struggle be- 
tween the two world social systems, socialism and capital- 
ism. These systems differ from each other in principle 
because they have a different socio-economic, political and 
ideological basis. The contradiction between capitalism 
and socialism is the main contradiction of our epoch. 
Relations between them are not just relations between dif- 
ferent states, but relations of class struggle between the 
working class and the other working people, who have 
won power in some countries, on the one hand, and the 
bourgeoisie, which remains in power in other countries, 
on the other. 

International developments have fully proved the cor- 
rectness of the basic conclusion formulated in the State- 
ment of the 1960 Moscow Meeting of the Communist and 
Workers’ Parties that the principal content, direction and 
peculiarities of social development in the contemporary 
epoch are determined by the world socialist system, by the 
forces fighting against imperialism, for the remaking of 
society along socialist lines. The correlation of forces in 
the world arena is continuing to change in favour of social- 
ism and the working-class and the national liberation 

At the same time the international situation is character- 
ised by imperialism’s efforts to consolidate its positions, 
and, where possible, to assume counter-offensive in an 
effort to regain its lost positions. The principal cause of 
the increasing aggressiveness of imperialism, and above 
all of the U.S. imperialism, the world’s gendarme, lies in 
the aggravation of difficulties and contradictions confront- 
ing the world capitalist system. 

The class struggle in the international arena is conducted 
in all the main spheres of social life, economic, political 
and ideological, and has its own specifics. 

The economic struggle in the international arena differs 
in essence and method from the economic struggle inside 
the capitalist countries. The working class and the other 
working people in the capitalist countries wage an eco- 
nomic struggle for better living conditions in which strikes 


play an important role. In the international arena, the 
economic struggle takes the form of economic competition 
between the two world systems. Competition in the eco- 
nomic sphere is the chief field of struggle between social- 
ism and capitalism, because the production of material 
wealth plays the decisive role in the life of society. It pro- 
vides the answer to the world-historic argument which 
system is better and more capable of ensuring a higher 
Jabour productivity and better living conditions for all. 

The world socialist system as a whole has already caught 
up with the world capitalist system in per capita industrial 
output. Its share in world industrial production rose from 
20 per cent in 1950 to 38 per cent in 1965. The achieve- 
ment of the targets of the new five-year economic develop- 
ment plan of the U.S.S.R. will further strengthen the 
economic positions of the countries of the socialist com- 
munity and bring about new changes on the world scene 
in favour of socialism. 

Socialist countries are also conducting an unflagging 
political struggle against imperialism. They are defending 
the sovereignty and independence of states and working 
for the unification of all progressive, democratic forces in 
the struggle for peace and for the formation of an anti- 
imperialist front. This struggle is waged in the United 
Nations Organisation, at international congresses, meetings 
and elsewhere. 

The reactionary circles of the imperialist countries are 
pursuing a policy of aggression and cold war, they whip 
up the arms race and create new hotbeds of war. This is 
made particularly evident by the criminal war of the US. 
imperialists against the Vietnamese people, by the growth 
of the revanchist and militarist forces in West Germany. 
As long as imperialism exists there will always be ground 
for aggressive wars, and, consequently, the threat of war 

The U.S.S.R. and other socialist countries tirelessly un- 
mask imperialism’s aggressive policy and at the same time 
consistently conduct a policy of peaceful coexistence of 
states with different social systems. They are working 
for normal, peaceful relations with all countries, for solv- 
ing controversial international issues not through war but 
through negotiation. But they are also strengthening their 


military might, because this is a necessary condition for 
waging an effective struggle against the threat of war 
emanating from imperialism. 

Peaceful coexistence of states with different social sys- 
tems is a special form of class struggle between socialism 
and capitalism. It has to be borne in mind, however, that 
the concept of “peaceful coexistence” applies only to the 
relations between states and cannot extend to the relations 
between classes in capitalist countries, i.e., to the relations 
between the exploiters and the exploited, or to the relations 
between the colonialists and the victims of colonial 

There is an acute ideological struggle between the two 
social systems on the international scene. 

Practice shows that it is possible to avoid armed conflicts 
between different social systems, but there is no avoiding 
the ideological struggle. That is why the concept “peaceful 
coexistence” cannot be extended to relations between so- 
cialist and capitalist ideologies. There can be certain com- 
promises between socialist and capitalist countries in the 
sphere of economic and political relations, but there can 
be no concessions to bourgeois ideology. ‘In all circum- 
stances,” the report of the Central Committee of the C.P.S.U. 
to the 23rd Congress of the Party states, “the struggle 
against the bourgeois ideology must be uncompromising, 
because it is a class struggle, a struggle for man, for his 
dignity and freedom, a struggle to invigorate the positions 
of socialism and communism, in the interests of the inter- 
national working class.’’! 

Anti-communism, the chief weapon of bourgeois ideclogy 
in the struggle against socialist ideology, emerged at the 
dawn of the working-class movement and became more and 
more malicious and subtle as the class struggle sharpened. 
Now that the world socialist system has scored outstand- 
ing successes and the influence of Marxist-Leninist ideology 
has grown immensely, anti-communism is resorting to all 
sorts of refined methods to vilify socialism. The anti-com- 
munists are falsifying the policies and aims of the Com- 
munists, slandering the U.S.S.R. and other socialist coun- 
tries, baiting progressive, peace-loving forces and _insti- 

{ 23rd Congress of the C.P.S.U., pp. 145-46. 

tutions and scaring the population of their countries with 
the so-called communist menace. 

An interdependence exists between the achievements of 
socialist countries and the revolutionary struggle of the 
peoples in the capitalist and the newly free countries. Now 
no problem of the world working-class and national liber- 
ation movement can be examined in isolation from the 
development of the world socialist system, which is greatly 
influencing internal processes in other countries. Lenin’s 
profound words that the socialist state influences the inter- 
national revolution mainly by its economic policy have 
been fully corroborated today. 

Of great significance for the further development of the 
national liberation struggle of the peoples against imper- 
ialism is the expansion of the economic, political and cul- 
tural co-operation of the U.S.S.R. and other socialist coun- 
tries with young national states. This co-operation strength- 
ens their economy, helps them train their national spe- 
cialists and in the final count reinforces peace and the right 
of peoples to freedom and independent development. 

The successes of the revolutionary class and national 
liberation struggle of the working people, in their turn, 
help strengthen the positions of the socialist countries. 
The more persistent this struggle is, the stronger are the 
guarantees for peace, the more favourable becomes the 
world situation for the creative labour of the peoples of 
socialist countries and the swifter and better they are able 
to turn their plans into reality. 

Chapter IV 

As we have shown in the preceding chapter, the life of 
society under the slave-owning, feudal and capitalist sys- 
tems is an arena of irreconcilable class struggle which as- 
sumes its sharpest form when the relations of production 
cease to correspond to the productive forces and begin to 
act as a brake on their development, and the ruling class 
becomes a reactionary social force. Under these conditions 
the passive opposition of the oppressed classes gives way 
to active resistance, and spontaneous protest to more or 
less organised action. In reply to the state-organised coer- 
cion, with which the ruling classes defend the old social 
relations, the revolutionary classes are compelled also to 
resort to force. In other words, the class struggle attains 
maximum intensity and develops into a social revolution. 

1. Social Revolution as an Upheaval 
in the Economic Basis and Superstructure of Society 

The conflict between the relations of production and the 
growing productive forces forms the economic basis of 
social revolution. According to Marx’s classical definition, 
the age of social revolution arrives when the relations of 
production cease to be forms of development of the pro- 
ductive forces and turn into their shackles. This conflict 
is resolved by social revolution, by breaking up the old 
relations of production and replacing them by new ones. 

In the broad sense of the term, social revolution is a 
revolution in the whole system of social relations making 
up a given socio-economic formation. It therefore embraces 
both the economic basis of society and its superstructure. 


Arising on the basis of the conflict between the produc- 
tive forces and the relations of production, social revolution 
is not confined to an upheaval in the economic system of 
society. The old system of political and legal relations is 
broken up and replaced by a new one. The old system of 
institutions, particularly political and legal, is destroyed 
and replaced by a new one. Revolutionary changes also 
take place in the spiritual life of society, above all in its 
ideological-political, legal, moral, religious, artistic and 
philosophical views, and also in the sphere of social psy- 
chology, the feelings and attitudes of various social groups. 
Revolutionary change takes a special form in each struc- 
tural element of a socio-economic formation. 

The fundamental problem of revolution is the 
problem of power since political power is the most im- 
portant instrument for radically changing the whole sys- 
tem of social relations, its basis and superstructure. ‘“The 
passing of state power from one class to another is the 
first, the principal, the basic sign of a revolution, both in 
the strictly scientific and in the practical political mean- 
ing of that term.”! 

Depending on the specific conditions, this passing of state 
power may assume various forms and entail the use of 
force in different measure. The application of force in a 
social revolution depends not on the fundamental essence 
of a revolution but on the means, on the manner in which 
it is carried out and on the conditions in which it takes 
place. It stands to reason, however, that every revolution 
presupposes overcoming the resistance of the moribund 
classes. It is this idea that is expressed in Marx’s famous 
phrase that force is the midwife of every old society when 
it is pregnant with a new one. 

The existence of a conflict between the new productive 
forces and the old relations of production is not enough 
to bring about a revolution, let alone to make it victorious. 
In other words, the economic basis of social revolution is 
not sufficient by itself. There must also be a certain com- 
bination of objective and subjective factors. 

Indignation with the old system and readiness to des- 
troy it mount among the broad masses of the people only 

! Lenin, Collected Works, Vol. 24, p. 44. 
9-360 129 

when class oppression becomes intolerable, when the cup 
of popular discontent is filled to overflowing. Disorganisa- 
tion and confusion appear in the ranks of the ruling class 
when it has involved itself in economic and political con- 
tradictions for which it can find no solution, when its 
economic and political might, due to certain objective 
reasons, has been seriously undermined. Both these cir- 
cumstances arise independently of the will of men, of ideol- 
ogists, political parties or individual classes. As a rule, they 
appear when the conflict between the old relations of 
production and the new productive forces and also the 
socio-economic contradictions that reflect this conflict have 
reached their maximum intensity, when the economic and 
political life of the country is gripped by an acute crisis. 
It is this nation-wide crisis, affecting both the exploiters 
and the exploited, embracing both economic and _ political 
activity, that is called a revolutionary situation. 

According to Lenin, the following three major features 
are characteristic of a revolutionary situation: “(1) When 
it is impossible for the ruling classes to maintain their 
rule without any change; when there is a crisis, in one 
form or another, among the ‘upper classes’, a crisis in the 
policy of the ruling class, leading to a fissure through which 
the discontent and indignation of the oppressed classes 
burst forth. For a revolution to take place, it is usually 
insufficient for ‘the lower classes not to want’ to live in 
the old way; it is also necessary that ‘the upper classes 
should be unable’ to live in the old way; (2) when the 
suffering and want of the oppressed classes have grown 
more acute than usual; (3) when, as a consequence of the 
above causes, there is a considerable increase in the activ- 
ity of the masses, who uncomplainingly allow themselves 
to be robbed in ‘peace time’, but, in turbulent times, are 
drawn both by all the circumstances of the crisis and by 
the ‘upper classes’ themselves into independent historical 

Political revolution is impossible without a revolutionary 
situation; but, as Lenin indicates, not every revolutionary 
situation leads to revolution, but only such a situation in 
which the objective conditions are supplemented by sub- 

! Lenin, Collected Works, Vol. 21, pp. 213-14. 

jective conditions, namely, the ability of the revolution- 
ary class to undertake mass revolutionary action. The sub- 
jective factor is both the level of class consciousness and 
organisation of the masses and the guidance of these 
masses by particular political organisations. 

Inspired by revolutionary ideas, the progressive classes 
overthrow the reactionary political system and with the 
aid of the new state power abolish the old and establish 
new and more progressive relations of production. 

The conversion of one socio-economic system into 
another does not end here, however. For a new social sys- 
tem to achieve complete victory, it must attain the highest 
level of labour productivity which the old system could 
have never attained. In other words, the new relations of 
production must rest on an adequate material and tech- 
nical basis. As historical experience has shown, this mate- 
rial and technical basis is created by a revolution in the 
productive forces, in the course of which the new economic 
system acquires mature forms. 

The industrial revolution which took place in Western 
Europe and America at the end of the 18th and the begin- 
ning of the 19th centuries is a characteristic example of 
such a leap in the development of the productive forces. 
This leap had paved the way for the transition from the 
manufactory to the industrial stage of capitalism. As a 
result of the industrial revolution the capitalist mode of 
production became firmly established and the capitalist 
system defeated the feudal system economically. 

Social revolution is a law of the development of class 
society, of mankind’s transition from an old to a new sys- 
tem. The destruction of a moribund and the birth of a 
new system constitutes a sharp turn in the course of the 
historical development of mankind. It embraces many peo- 
ples and countries and involves a more or less prolonged 
period of revolutionary upheavals. 

The development of social revolutions in individual coun- 
tries is characterised by many specific features. Besides 
the revolutions which deal the main and decisive blow to 
the obsolete system there may also be revolutions that only 
prepare the ground for this blow or, on the contrary, carry 
it to its logical conclusion. 

oF 131 

Many modern sociologists and historians as a rule dis- 
tort the concept of revolution. For some, revolution is an 
event, which, even if it does occur often, plays a very small 
creative role in history compared with the slow and gradual 
evolutionary development of society. 

The evolutionary stage in the development of any given 
social system is undoubtedly a natural feature of develop- 
ment. As Marx said, however, the real “locomotives of his- 
tory” in a society composed of antagonistic classes are 
always and everywhere the social revolutions. The periods 
of ‘peaceful evolution” which reformists represent as the 
only progressive periods in the history of society bear no 
comparison with the periods of revolution, in terms of 
their influence on the course and pace of social develop- 

Others regard revolution as something incidental, irreg- 
ular in the life of society, as an event that may be avoided 
if there are sufficiently ‘wise and far-sighted” statesmen. 

While condemning social revolution, which they claim 
is a fortuitous and undesirable departure from the ‘nor- 
mal” evolutionary course of development of the “eternal” 
exploiting system, they spare no effort to advocate reforms. 
They regard reforms within the framework of the exist- 
ing system as the only acceptable way of bringing about 
social changes. 

In actual fact, however, socio-economic and _ political 
reforms are a by-product of revolution. The ruling exploiter 
classes carry out reforms not because they are partic- 
ularly concerned about human progress, as their ideolo- 
gists like to assert, but because they are pressured to do so 
by the revolutionary struggle of the exploited masses. The 
results of this struggle are consolidated by some _ socio- 
economic and political reforms. These reforms, of course, 
bring partial changes in the existing socio-economic and 
political system and improve the condition of the working 
people to an extent. But they do not and cannot solve the 
fundamental antagonistic contradictions between the 
hostile classes. 

The idealistic conception of revolutions as fortuitous 
events in the history of certain people is also exploded by 
historical experience which shows that not a single socio- 
economic formation has ever given way to another without 



revolution, and that revolution is a regularity of this 

In the contemporary epoch, the reactionaries find it 
extremely difficult to prove that revolutions are fortuitous 
events, what with the development of the world revolution- 
ary process, the collapse of many moribund regimes and 
the growth of the national liberation movement. Some of 
them even pretend to be revolutionaries and present as 
“revolutions” the most obvious counter-revolutionary coups 
or the numerous military putsches in dependent 

It is characteristic that the words “revolution” and “rev- 
olutionary”, which the ruling classes had once viewed with 
the greatest disapprobation, are now frequently used to 
embellish capitalism. They talk, for example, of “revolu- 
tion of incomes” and “managerial revolution” in an effort 
to convince the masses that capitalism has stopped being 
capitalism and has acquired a different, “revolutionary” 
character. This, in effect, is indirect recognition of the 
great popularity which the concept of revolution has won 
among the masses in the present-day epoch. 

Needless to say, when spoken by bourgeois ideologists 
the word “revolution” loses its true meaning and content. 

Professor Asa Briggs of Britain in a report at the Fourth 
World Sociological Congress, held in Venice in September 
1953, suggested defining the concept of revolution as fol- 
lows: revolution is the replacement of the existing legiti- 
mate social order by means that exceed the limits of 

It is, of course, an undeniable fact that by destroying 
the old, obsolete socio-economic and political relations the 
revolution abolishes the corresponding legal institutions. 
But to confine the essence of revolution to this is to repu- 
diate the difference in principle that exists between polit- 
ical revolutions and counter-revolutionary coups, to place 
them on one and the same level. To give a correct definition 
of the concept of revolution one must indicate that the 
legitimate order is abolished in the course of a revolution 
by progressive classes and that these classes have a histor- 
ical right to launch a revolutionary offensive on the 
reactionary political order which has outlived itself. 

Whereas political revolution means the transition of 


power to the progressive class, counter-revolution, or a 
counter-revolutionary coup, means the overthrow of the 
political power of the progressive class and the restora- 
tion of the power of the reactionary class. An example of 
a counter-revolutionary coup may be found in the over- 
throw of Soviet power in Hungary in the summer of 1919 
and of the popular democratic government in Spain in 1938. 
In each case the reactionary classes—the big bourgeoisie 
and landowners—regained their political and economic 

Revolution or counter-revolution, in the sense of replace- 
ment of the ruling class, should not be confused with 
the coup d’état. The latter does not affect the foundations 
of the political and economic supremacy of the class that 
holds power, and is carried out by some section or group 
within that class. As an example of a reactionary coup 
d’état we may take the fascist coups in Italy in 1922 and 
in Germany in 1933. These coups brought to power the 
most reactionary and chauvinist section of the imperialist 

History shows us, however, examples of progressive coup 
d’états. Such coups quite often provide the initial impetus 
for more profound social changes which lead ultimately 
to revolutions. 

Historical development knows various types of social 
revolutions that differ as regards character, motive forces 
the historical results and phases of their development. The 
character of a revolution is determined by what social 
contradictions it resolves, what socio-economic system it 
overthrows and what system it establishes in its place. The 
motive forces of a revolution are the classes that accom- 
plish it. Among them there is always a class that is more 
mature politically and capable of leading the classes allied 
with it in the struggle for social revolution. This class 
becomes the leader of the revolution. 

In the final analysis, all the specific features of various 
social revolutions are determined by socio-economic for- 
mations which replace one another as a result of their 
victory, and by historical periods in which these changes 
take place. We have, therefore, to examine consistently 
the peculiarities of the socio-economic transformations that 
have occurred at various stages of history. 


2. First Types of Social Revolutions 

Let us begin with the socio-economic and political trans- 
formations occurring during the transition from the prim- 
itive-communal to a class-antagonistic system. 

This transition resulted from a conflict between the new 
productive forces and the primitive-communal relations of 
production. It stemmed from a revolutionary change in 
the productive forces and was unquestionably progressive. 

Ancient Greece provides a classical example of a social 
revolution as a result of which the tribal system was re- 
placed by the slave-owning society. This revolution in some 
parts of ancient Greece, as Engels pointed out, was in no 
way overshadowed by foreign conquest. It shows quite 
clearly how class society developed among unions of small 
tribes occupying an insignificant territory, particularly the 
union that embraced a small part of ancient Attica. 

By the 7th century B.C. the tribal aristocracy of ancient 
Greece had become a ruling class of big slave-holding land- 
owners. According to Aristotle, in the 7th century B.C. the 
majority of the population of ancient Attica was already 
enslaved by the minority. Enslavement by debt was wide- 
spread in the state of ancient Greece. 

“The revolutionary struggle of the broad sections of pop- 
ulation (demos, as the ancient Greeks called it)—traders, 
craftsmen, middle and small Jandowners—not only against 
the domination of the tribal aristocracy but also against 
enslavement by debt and various other forms of bondage 
of members of the tribe, constitutes the main line of his- 
torical development of Greece in the 8th to 6th centuries 
B.C.”! The tribal nobility refused to relinquish its power 
voluntarily and desperately resisted the advance of the 
new forces. This struggle between the tribal aristocracy 
and the demos gave rise to a succession of revolutions. As 
a rule, they were accompanied by confiscation of the prop- 
erty of the aristocracy, redistribution of the land, annul- 
ment of debts, bloody reprisals by the victors against the 
defeated and mass exiles. 

The social revolutions in the Greek states in the 7th-6th 
centuries B.C., which abolished the rule of the land-owning 

1 World History, Vol. I, Moscow, 1955, p. 657 (in Russian). 

aristocracy, led to the final eradication of the survivals 
of the tribal system and to the formation in Greece of the 
ancient city-state—the polis. The class struggle during the 
establishment of the antagonistic society led to the seizure 
of political power by the class of slave-owners. Any social 
movement which in that period had as its aim the restora- 
tion of tribal, primitive-communal customs, was unques- 
tionably reactionary. 

As time passed, however, the slave-owning system itself 
was forced to alter its forms. Class contradictions ripened 
within it. As slave-owning grew and spread from one branch 
of social production to another, it inevitably dispossessed 
the small farmers, citizens of the polis, of their land, im- 
poverished them and led to a concentration of land in the 
hands of the slave-owning upper stratum. 

The small free proprietors stubbornly defended their 
right to existence. They rose against the big landowners 
and usurers. The popular movements that took place from 
time to time in various parts of the slave-owning world 
often compelled the ruling classes to carry out economic 
and political reforms to some extent reflecting the 
demands of the masses. 

The social revolution in Italy that began with the Grac- 
chi movement (late 2nd century B.C.) and continued right 
up to, the Social War (early 1st century B.C.) for its after- 
effects was the most significant revolution against the big 
slave-holding landowners. Moreover, as Soviet historians 
have shown, there is every reason to believe that the Social 
War—a grandiose uprising of the Italian peasantry—was 
the highest stage of this revolution. 

“What were the gains and results of this revolution? 
First, the Italian peasantry won the right to own land on 
equal conditions with the Romans. Secondly, the popula- 
tion of Italy acquired rights as Roman citizens.... The 
much more profound result of the revolution, however, was 
that it undermined the city-state organisation and city-state 
institutions, that it undermined the position of the ancient 
Roman aristocracy, in other words, it struck a crushing 
blow at the city-state of Rome.’’! Thus, the revolution pre- 

1S. L. Utchenko, The Crisis and the Fall of the Roman Republic, 
Moscow, Nauka Publishers, 1965, pp. 29-30 (in Russian). 


pared the way for more mature forms of slave-owning 
relations, for the political system of the Roman Empire. 

As slave-owning society developed there was a steady 
growth not only of antagonism among the free citizens 
but also of the main antagonism in the ancient world, the 
one between slaves and slave-owners. Torn away from 
their natural surroundings, deprived of the most rudiment- 
ary conditions of human life, these slaves coming from 
various tribes and speaking different languages were in 
very few cases able to unite and embark upon open strug- 
gle. But when they did rise, their struggle shook the very 
foundations of the entire slave system. 

We are now confronted with the question of the rela- 
tions between the uprisings of the slaves and the revolu- 
tionary movement of free peasants. This question partic- 
ularly requires an answer if we remember that some of the 
biggest uprisings of slaves—the rebellions in Sicily and the 
great slave war under the leadership of Spartacus—took 
place during the period of the vast revolutionary movement 
of the Italian peasantry. 

As Soviet historians showed, although both revolution- 
ary movements—slave rebellions and the uprisings of the 
Italian peasants—were due to the same causes, the crisis 
of Rome as a city-state, each of the movements actually 
developed independently and did not merge together. The 
gap between the slaves and the free men (particularly the 
Roman citizens) was too great for them to be able to unite. 
The slaves were not yet capable of liberating themselves 
even by means of the most intense efforts. Since they 
were not a class that could create a more progressive mode 
of production and strove only for their personal liberation 
and not for the abolition of slavery in general, nor for the 
remaking of society on a new basis, they were unable to 
evolve a revolutionary programme capable of uniting the 
broad sections of the exploited people. 

The Spartacus uprising occurred when the slave-owning 
society was still on the upgrade, and it was this that ulti- 
mately caused the political isolation of the slave rebellion. 
The situation changed abruptly when the slave system 
entered the stage of crisis in the 3rd-4th centuries A.D. 

During the 3rd and 4th centuries a certain levelling of 
all categories of the dependent population took place in 


the Roman Empire. As regards their socio-economic and 
legal position the free small landowners—the peasants— 
drew closer to the slaves. The leading figure in agricultural 
production in the latter period of the Roman Empire was 
the colon, i.e., formerly a free small landowner, now de- 
pendent both economically and legally on a big landowner. 
By reducing the free farmer to a position close to that of 
a slave, the slave system finally destroyed that formerly 
impassable barrier which had separated the peasant from 
the slave. The colon thus became the slave’s natural ally, 
and the social basis on which the big slave-owners relied 
was considerably narrowed down. In the mass revolution- 
ary popular uprisings in the latter period of the Roman 
Empire both the colons and the slaves came out in a united 

“The only way of providing free development for the 
new forces was a revolutionary upheaval, a ‘radical revo- 
lution’, capable of finally burying slave-owning society and 
its still fairly powerful political superstructure. This rev- 
olutionary upheaval, however, could not be carried out 
only by the internal forces of Roman society. The popular 
revolutionary movements of the 3rd-5th centuries (the 
Bagaud and Agonistic movements) undoubtedly shook the 
foundations of the Roman Empire, but they were unable to 
overthrow it completely. This could only be accomplished 
by the combination of internal class struggle and the 
external factor provided by the invasion of Roman territory 
by ‘barbaric’ tribes.’! The fall of Rome was brought about 
by the combined action by the slaves and colons, on the 
one hand, and barbarian tribes, on the other, i.e., the social 
medium from which the ancient slave-owning world had 
for centuries recruited its slave labour force. 

3. Bourgeois Anti-Feudal Revolutions 

Just like the slave-owning system, the feudal socio-eco- 
nomic system passes through two big phases of develop- 
ment: upgrade and downgrade. 

The history of its upgrade development records many 
mass revolutionary actions of the peasants and citizens 

! World History, Vol. IJ, p. 817 (in Russian). 


against the feudal class. In Europe, the peasant wars (the 
French Jacquerie in 1358, for example) and the citizens’ 
wars (such as the so-called communal movement of medie- 
val European cities) were sometimes waged over extensive 
territory and with great tenacity. On many occasions the 
peasants and the citizens joined forces in the struggle 
against the feudal] lords, especially when they succeeded 
in rallying around a common ideological (usually religious- 
heretical) banner, as was the case in the south of France 
in the 12th-13th centuries (Albigensian wars) and in Bohe- 
mia in the first half of the 15th century (Hussite wars). 
When this took place, the struggle became protracted and 
vicious and was pregnant with dangerous consequences 
for the whole class of feudal lords, both secular and eccle- 

But however fierce the peasants’ revolutionary wars 
might have been, sooner or later they ended in failure. The 
efforts of the rebellious peasant masses, as a rule, did not 
and could not carry them beyond the framework of the 
feudal system. They only hoped that a good king, tsar 
or emperor would reduce the intensity of the feudal 
oppression. Tsarist illusions were so strongly embedded in 
the minds of people, that the leaders of peasant uprisings 
frequently proclaimed themselves tsars! and strove to lend 
the peasant revolutionary movement the familiar forms of 
feudal hierarchy. When the peasants succeeded in setting 
up more or less stable state formations—the most serious 
attempts were made in China during the peasant wars of 
875-883, 1626-46 and 1850-64—the leaders of the revolts 
disclosed a tendency to degenerate into ordinary feudal 
lords. All this inevitably led to internal corruption, weak- 
ening, decline and defeat of the peasant wars. 

In Europe of the Middle Ages, the citizens managed in 
the fight against their seigniors to achieve considerably 
greater successes than the peasants. Their revolts fre- 
quently culminated in complete victory. As a result of these 
victorious revolts or “communal revolutions”, as historians 
call them, some towns, in Italy, for example, won economic 
and political independence; others, as was the case in 

1 Yemelyan Pugachev, the leader of the peasant uprising in Rus- 
sia in 1774-75, called himself Emperor Peter III. 


Germany, achieved the status of free cities while remain- 
ing in vassalage, nominal for the most part, to the German 
Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire; still others, in 
France, for instance, won the right to pay taxes and fulfil 
other duties only to the king retaining much of their inde- 
pendence in internal affairs. As a rule, however, the rebel- 
lious citizens did not even think of abolishing the feudal 
system as a whole. Their ambitions did not overstep the 
economic interests of the city in which they lived. 

In the cities themselves, after they had won independ- 
ence, the lower stratum—the artisans—frequently rose 
against the upper stratum of traders and usurers who had 
usurped all power and mercilessly exploited the city poor. 
But artisans’ uprisings also did not exceed the bounds of 
the feudal system. They did not even think of abolishing 
the guild structure of the feudal city. Even if the craft 
guilds did win in the fight against the guilds of merchants 
and usurers, the rich upper stratum of the craft guilds 
once again formed an alliance with its erstwhile foes and 
betrayed the interests of the poorest sections of the 

Thus, as long as feudal relations of production in both 
town and country corresponded in the main to the produc- 
tive forces of society, the revolutionary actions of the urban 
and rural population could not bring downfall of the 
feudal system. 

The situation changes radically with the rise of the cap- 
italist mode of production. Its appearance indicates that 
the productive forces of society have entered into conflict 
with the feudal relations of production, that new social 
forces, hostile to the feudal system both in the country 
and in towns, namely, the bourgeoisie and proletariat, 
have emerged on the historical scene. The era of the bour- 
geois anti-feuda! revolution begins with the rise of the 
capitalist mode of production. 

For the whole of mankind this era began at the turn 
of the 16th century. As regards individual countries, owing 
to their uneven economic and political development, the 
era of the bourgeois revolution began at different times. 

A major characteristic feature of the first bourgeois rev- 
olutions—the Netherlands (1566-1609), the English (1641- 
53), the American (1775-83) and the French (1789-94)— 


was that the capitalist mode of production in these coun- 
tries rested on the manufactory whose technical basis dif- 
fered little from that of craft guild production. It is not 
accidental, therefore, but perfectly natural that the leader 
of the early bourgeois revolutions was the bourgeoisie, that 
the proletariat’s demands could not seriously influence the 
course or the outcome of the revolution and that the 
revolutionary petty bourgeoisie was the politically domi- 
nating strata of the working people. 

Each bourgeois revolution had its own correlation of 
class forces. 

It is known, for example, that the forces behind the 
English revolution in the middle of the 17th century in- 
cluded not only the bourgeoisie but also the part of the 
English nobility which had turned bourgeois. It was due 
to this circumstance that such a major issue of the revo- 
lution as the agrarian question was solved in favour of 
the landlords and not the peasants. The English bour- 
geoisie betrayed the interests of its most loyal ally which 
bore the main burden of the revolutionary struggle. After 
the victory of the revolution the peasants were dispos- 
sessed of their land with such speed that at the turn of 
the 19th century they practically ceased to exist as a 

It was the opposite case in France, where by the end 
of the 18th century only an extremely insignificant sec- 
tion of the nobility had turned bourgeois. The French 
nobility derived the means for its parasitical existence not 
only by direct exploitation of the peasants but also by con- 
fiscating the lion’s share of the profits of the bourgeoisie 
through taxation. The bourgeoisie tolerated being robbed 
in broad daylight so long as the king fought against the 
separatist ambitions of some feudal lords, so long as his 
protectionist policy promised it slow but sure enrichment. 
Yet as soon as the danger of feudal internecine strife be- 
came a thing of the past for the bourgeoisie and the pro- 
tectionism of the king no longer satisfied its wolfish appe- 
tite, it demanded political power for itself. But because the 
class of landowners and its state vigorously resisted the 
bourgeoisie, which by itself was unable to cope with the 
landowners, it could do nothing else but to appeal to the 
working classes. The French bourgeoisie gave up its long- 


standing alliance with the class of the landowners for an 
alliance with the peasants and the urban petty bourgeoi- 
sie. The revolution which was led by the French bour- 
geoisie completely demolished the feudal system in both 
town and country, and the agrarian problem in France 
was solved in favour of the peasants. 

It should be stressed that the bourgeoisie is by no means 
always capable of forming an alliance with the working 
masses for the purpose of carrying through an anti-feudal 
revolution, i.e, a revolution that clears the way for cap- 
italist development. The German bourgeoisie at the begin- 
ning of the 16th century was unable to rise to the level 
of understanding its national interests and did not furnish 
any substantial support to the revolutionary peasants, thus 
sealing the doom of the first anti-feudal revolution in Ger- 
many. As a result of the betrayal by the bourgeoisie, Ger- 
many for a long time remained politically divided, which 
had an extremely negative effect on the country’s 
economic development. 

In subsequent anti-feudal revolutions, the bourgeoisie 
likewise remained revolutionary only to the extent required 
by its selfish class interests. The big French bourgeoi- 
sie, for example, having achieved the fulfilment of its 
immediate political and socio-economic programme, fur- 
nished maximum assistance to the class of landowners in 
their efforts to stamp out the flames of the peasant war. 
It was only due to the unprecedented scale of the revolu- 
tionary struggle of the popular masses that the treacherous 
plans of the big bourgeoisie were frustrated and the revo- 
lution developed much further than originally intended. 
In this connection Engels underlined a major regularity 
of bourgeois revolution: “In order to secure even those 
conquests of the bourgeoisie that were ripe for gathering 
at the time, the revolution had to be carried considerably 
further... .’’4 

In Germany in 1848-49, as a result of the absence of a 
mass anti-feudal peasant movement and the weakness of 
the proletarian movement in towns, the revolutionary 
forces were too small to curb the cowardice and vacillation 
of the bourgeoisie. Fearing that the proletariat may seize 

1 Marx and Engels, Selected Works, Vol. II, p. 105. 


bourgeois private property, the German bourgeoisie rap- 
idly lost its revolutionary spirit and formed an alliance 
with the landowner class, its recent foe. As a result of this 
betrayal, the German revolution of 1848-49 was defeated, 
and the key issue of the revolution—the national reunifi- 
cation of Germany—remained unsolved. 

In the epoch of imperialism considerable changes occur 
in the correlation of class forces in the capitalist countries 
where the tasks of the anti-feudal bourgeois revolution 
have not yet been solved. Thus, the experience of the 
popular revolution of 1905-07 in Russia showed that in a 
bourgeois-democratic revolution the monopoly bourgeoisie 
takes up counter-revolutionary positions and ‘becomes an 
ally of the landowner class. The proletariat and the peas- 
antry are the motive force of such a bourgeois-democratic 
revolution. It is led by the working class which is interested 
in sweeping away as many survivals of serfdom as possi- 
ble from both the economic and political spheres. Because 
of this the bourgeois-democratic revolution in capitalist 
countries in the epoch of imperialism essentially differs 
from the bourgeois-democratic revolution in the epoch of 
industrial capitalism which was led by the bourgeoisie. But 
in the colonial and dependent countries, as will be shown 
later, the national bourgeoisie is still capable of being a 
revolutionary force despite its inherent vacillation and 

Anti-feudal revolutions are divided into bourgeois revolu- 
tions (at the top) and bourgeois-democratic (people’s) 
revolutions, depending on the degree of participation 
of the working people in them. The first include 
revolutions in which the bourgeoisie achieves its goals 
without the active participation of the peasants and 
workers. The second include revolutions in which the 
popular masses—the working class and the peasants— 
exert a considerable influence on their course and 
outcome. Because the degree of participation of the 
popular masses in various bourgeois revolutions is not the 
same, they can range from revolutions at the top to peo- 
ple’s revolutions. In his work The State and Revolution, 
Lenin cites the examples of the Turkish (1908) and the 
Portuguese (1910) revolutions as revolutions at the top, 
and the Russian revolution of 1905 as a people’s revolu- 


tion. But these are two extreme points, two poles, between 
which the overwhelming majority of all bourgeois revolu- 
tions are ranged. Even the Turkish and Portuguese rev- 
olutions were carried out with the people’s participation, 
although without much “noticeable” action on their part; 
here the people’s anti-feudal movement merely provided 
the background for a political bourgeois coup. 

Of no small interest is the attitude of the bourgeois rev- 
olution to the feudal state apparatus, to the military- 
bureaucratic machinery of absolutism. History shows that 
since the bourgeois revolution does not abolish class exploi- 
tation, it does not set itself the task of changing the state 
apparatus of the landowner class. In the course of the 
revolution the bourgeoisie as a rule strives to seize the 
absolutist military-bureaucratic machinery, to adapt it to 
its own needs and improve it. But the concrete forms of 
solving this task depend on whether the bourgeois revolu- 
tion is carried out at the top or whether it is a bourgeois- 
democratic revolution. Naturally, the more active the par- 
ticipation of the masses in it, the more vigorously the rub- 
bish of feudal statehood is swept onto the trash pile of 

Many bourgeois revolutions took the form of national 
liberation wars: the Netherlands Revolution at the close 
of the 16th century against Spanish domination—the first 
victorious bourgeois revolution; the American revolution 
at the close of the 18th century against English domina- 
tion; the Latin American revolutions of the 19th century 
against Spanish and Portuguese rule; the Italian and Hun- 
garian revolutions against Austrian tyranny; the revolutions 
in South-East Europe in the 19th century against Turkish 
domination. The aim of most of these national liberation 
revolutions was to achieve freedom from foreign feudal 
oppression. But one of the earlier bourgeois national lib- 
eration revolutions—the American Revolution—was already 
aimed at throwing off the yoke of foreign capital, the 
yoke of the English bourgeoisie. As the capitalist countries 
furthered their colonial expansion, the greater became the 
share of anti-imperialist revolutions, i.e., revolutions 
spearheaded against the political and economic domination 
of foreign monopoly capital, in the total number of the 
national liberation revolutions. 


4. Proletarian, Socialist Revolution 

The social revolution of the proletariat has a number of 
features fundamentally distinguishing it from all the pre- 
ceding types of social revolutions, particularly the bour- 
geois revolution. All revolutions in human history prior to 
the Great October Socialist Revolution, including even the 
great bourgeois revolutions, possessed an internal con- 
tradiction: the overthrow of a certain form of exploitation, 
signifying the victory of the working masses over their 
exploiters, turned into a victory of a new form of exploi- 
tation, and consequently the subjugation of the working 
masses to a new class of exploiters. In contrast to them 
the socialist revolution abolishes all exploitation. 

Another important distinction of the socialist from the 
bourgeois revolution is that it is not preceded by the spon- 
taneous emergence of a socialist mode of production in the 
bosom of capitalism, whereas the bourgeois revolution is 
preceded by the formation of a capitalist mode of produc- 
tion while the feudal mode of production still predominates. 
Within the framework of capitalism there arise only 
the material conditions for the socialist mode of produc- 
tion, namely, the productive forces that have a_ social 
character and the technical basis of which is large-scale 
machine industry. Therefore, the proletariat, the working 
masses cannot set themselves the limited task which the 
bourgeoisie sets itself in the anti-feudal revolution. The 
bourgeois revolution is restricted to seizing political power 
which it uses to convert the already existing capitalist 
economy into the predominant mode of production; the 
proletarian revolution does not end but begins with the 
seizure of political power. 

In order to convert capitalist property into socialist 
property and private property into the basically different, 
social property, it is essential first to carry out a political 
revolution, to overthrow the power of the bourgeoisie and 
establish the political rule of the working class, the dicta- 
torship of the proletariat, and then to use it to abolish 
private property and introduce collective, social owner- 
ship of the means of production. 

For this reason capitalism and socialism are separated 
by a more or less prolonged historical period of revolution- 

10-360 145 

ary conversion of the former into the latter, a transitional 
period in which the socialist relations of production cor- 
responding to the social productive forces are created in a 
bitter class struggle. This whole period is a period of so- 
cialist revolution, when a fundamental transformation of 
the political, economic and cultural life of society takes 
place. A purely evolutionary transition, without any 
revolution, from capitalism to socialism is impossible. 

At the turn of the 20th century the capitalist system 
entered the final stage of its development—imperialism. 
Capitalism began to decline, and the progressive social 
forces were thus confronted with the immediate and prac- 
tical task of overthrowing its rule. Imperialism is the eve 
of socialist revolution. 

Imperialism changes the conditions of socialist revolution 
in many ways. It imparts to the uneven economic and 
political development of the capitalist countries an extreme- 
ly spasmodic and conflicting character, with the result 
that the economic and political prerequisites of the prole- 
tarian revolution in various countries ripen at different 
times. It is only natural, therefore, that such countries 
fall away from the world system of capitalism at different 

In the 20th century, when the internal and externa] 
contradictions among the capitalist countries have deepened 
and the positions of capitalism as a whole have been 
seriously impaired, there arose, as Lenin pointed out, the 
possibility of the victory of socialist revolution first in 
several countries, or even in one country, taken separately. 
Moreover, the weakest link in the chain of imperialism, ie., 
the country which objectively is ripe for the victory of 
socialist revolution, may not necessarily be the country 
with a higher level of economic development. It could 
sooner be a country that represents a knot of imperialist 
contradictions, in which all the principal socio-economic 
contradictions of imperialism have become most acute. In 
such countries the extreme sharpening of social contradic- 
tions fosters a high degree of revolutionary consciousness 
among the masses and creates the objective preconditions 
for the overthrow of the economic and political rule of the 
bourgeoisie and the establishment of the dictatorship of 
the proletariat. 


A socialist revolution may spring from diverse revolu- 
tionary movements aimed against imperialism. For exam- 
ple, in a number of countries which have already covered 
a certain distance along the capitalist road of development 
socialist revolutions are preceded by anti-feudal bourgeois- 
democratic revolutions, i.e., revolutions designed to elimi- 
nate the survivals of feudalism in the economic and 
political system. Moreover, these revolutions may acquire 
an anti-imperialist character. 

Under conditions when the world capitalist system as a 
whole has matured for socialist revolution, when the peas- 
antry is acting as an ally of the proletariat in the struggle 
against the imperialist bourgeoisie, the proletariat is able, 
as soon as the tasks of bourgeois-democratic revolution are 
completed, to tackle the tasks of the socialist revolution. 

In the capitalist countries where feudalism has been 
done away with socialist revolutions may be preceded by 
another kind of democratic revolutions, namely, the anti- 
monopoly democratic revolutions. 

The contemporary stage of the general crisis of capital- 
ism is characterised by a sharp intensification of state- 
monopoly tendencies. This leads to an unprecedented ag- 
gravation of the contradiction between the masses, on the 
one hand, and the combined forces of the monopolies and 
the state, on the other. Headed by the Communist and 
Workers’ Parties, the proletariat directs its main blow 
against the system of state-monopoly capitalism. Today 
the struggle of the proletariat against the financial oligar- 
chy and its state is winning the growing support of the 
peasants, the urban middle strata and the intellectuals, 
i.e., all those social groups of the contemporary bourgeois 
society against whom the monopolies have tremendously 
increased their economic and political oppression in the 
past half century. The social basis of the revolutionary 
working-class movement in the developed capitalist coun- 
tries has vastly grown, as has the tendency to set up a 
united front of progressive forces against the capitalist 

Under the new historical conditions the question of the 
correlation between revolution and reforms acquires par- 
ticular significance in the developed capitalist countries. 
Decisively turning down the opportunist theories and 

10° 147 

practice of modern reformism, Marxist-Leninist parties are 
at the same time consistently fighting for democratic reforms 
and for improving the political and economic conditions 
of the working people. But, as Lenin had stressed, ‘“‘unlike 
the opportunists and reformists, we do not confine our- 
selves to the struggle for reforms, but subordinate it to 
the struggle for revolution”.! One of the main demands of 
the proletariat is nationalisation of key branches uf econ- 
omy and democratisation of their management. The gen- 
eral democratic anti-monopoly struggle does not put off 
the socialist revolution, but, on the contrary, brings it 
closer. Today opportunities are opening up before the 
working class and its allies in some countries for carry- 
ing through changes that transcend the limits of ordinary 
reforms and which are vital for the majority of the nation. 
“Communists regard the struggle for democracy,” it is 
written down in the Statement of the 1960 Moscow Meet- 
ing, “as a component of the struggle for socialism. In this 
struggle they continuously strengthen the bonds with the 
masses, increase their political consciousness and help 
them understand the tasks of the socialist revolution and 
realise the necessity of accomplishing it.”2 

Today, in view of a serious regrouping of class forces 
and a growing powerful democratic movement against the 
dictatorship of the monopolies it becomes objectively pos- 
sible in a number of developed capitalist countries to carry 
out an anti-monopoly people’s revolution or to pass through 
the anti-monopoly stage of the revolution, which may lead 
to the establishment of a broadest democratic coalition 
headed by the working class. If a democratic anti-monop- 
oly people’s rule is set up, there is a possibility that the 
anti-monopoly democratic revolution of the masses will 
relatively rapidly develop into a socialist revolution of the 
working class. 

One of the most important types of democratic revolu- 
tions in the epoch of imperialism, all the more so in the 
contemporary period, are the national liberation revolutions 
in the countries oppressed by imperialism. Since not only 

! Lenin, Collected Works, Vol. 23, p. 224. 
2 The Struggle for Peace, Democracy and Socialism, Moscow, 
pp. 69-70. 


the feudal landowners but also the compradore bourgeoi- 
sie, in alliance with the monopoly capital of the metropo- 
lies, defend the survivals of serfdom in the colonial and 
dependent countries, the revolutions there inevitably 
become anti-imperialist as well as anti-feudal. 

The national liberation movement in the countries with 
an established and developing capitalist mode of produc- 
tion is a scene of bitter political struggle for leadership 
between the proletariat and the national bourgeoisie. The 
national liberation revolution there, even if accomplished 
under the leadership of the national bourgeoisie which 
does not and cannot aim at moving toward socialism, is 
an ally of the world socialist revolution in the struggle 
against imperialism. But owing to its dual social nature, 
the national bourgeoisie is subject to political vacillation 
both inside the country and in the world arena. Having as 
its ultimate goal the establishment of economic domina- 
tion, it takes every step to prevent the revolutionary strug- 
gle of the masses from going beyond the limits of those 
demands that are acceptable to it. 

The proletariat opposes the inconsistency of the national 
bourgeoisie in the struggle against imperialism and feu- 
dalism and works actively for the creation of a broad 
national front, for a firm alliance with the peasants—the 
basis of this front—and for a non-capitalist path of 

Under contemporary conditions a national liberation rev- 
olution if it is conducted with the utmost resoluteness and 
consistency tends to develop from anti-imperialist into a 
socialist revolution. Such a revolution passes through two 
basic stages in its development. In the first stage it over- 
throws the political rule of the foreign imperialist bour- 
geoisie and its hirelings among the local feudal or tribal 
upper stratum and wins national independence. By itself 
political independence is inadequate if it is not bolstered 
by economic independence. The ideologists of imperial- 
ism, Lenin pointed out, usually talk about “national 
liberation ... leaving out economic liberation. Yet in real- 
ity it is the latter that is the chief thing”’.! The essence 
of the policy of neo-colonialism is to prevent the newly 

1 Lenin, Collected Works, Vol. 18, p. 398. 

established sovereign states from developing their own 
national economy, primarily industry, and thus securely 
tie them to the world economic and political system of 

It is not accidental but absolutely natural, therefore, 
that the national liberation revolution does not end with 
the achievement of political independence, but passes into 
the second, decisive stage in which the economic oppres- 
sion of the imperialists is abolished. Industrialisation is 
the only way to surmount age-old economic dependence 
and backwardness and to create a highly developed nation- 
al economy. To achieve this task persistent and prolonged 
efforts of the whole nation are required. But its fulfilment 
can be accelerated by establishing a state sector of econ- 
omy and effectuating a radical agrarian reform. Economic 
independence, like political independence, can be achieved 
only in a bitter struggle against imperialism and internal 
reactionary forces. 

Today the newly free countries face the choice of two 
paths of development. International and domestic reaction- 
aries endeavour to channel the development of these coun- 
tries along capitalist lines. They are trying to convert the 
state industrial sector into an appendage of the private- 
capitalist mode of production and resort to palliative meas- 
ures rather than radically solve the agrarian problem. But 
history shows that the capitalist road of development for 
the newly free countries brings ruin to the peasants, mass 
unemployment to the proletariat and untold suffering to 
the whole people. 

The progressive forces are showing the peoples of these 
countries another road of development, one that has been 
tested in practice by the Soviet Central Asian republics 
and Kazakhstan and the Mongolian People’s Republic and 
which has produced brilliant results. It is common knowl- 
edge that the Central Asian peoples needed a relatively 
short time to rise from the darkness of the Middle Ages 
to the heights of civilisation and far surpass the capital- 
ist countries of Asia, with whom they were practically at 
the same level of development before the October Rev- 
olution, both econcmically and culturally. This striking 
leap is explained by the fact that assisted by the Russian 
working class they passed from feudalism to socialism 


without going through the capitalist stage of development. 

The non-capitalist road of development becomes pos- 
sible for the countries that have shaken off colonial de- 
pendence provided they establish a firm alliance with the 
socialist countries which furnish them all-round military- 
political and economic assistance. Indicative in this respect 
is the Mongolian People’s Republic with its 40 years’ 
experience of non-capitalist development, during which it 
rose from feudalism to socialism with the direct assistance 
of the Soviet Union. 

Countries may embark on the path of non-capitalist 
development not only under the leadership of the Marx- 
ist-Leninist parties but also under the leadership of rev- 
olutionary-democratic parties, if they have no Marxist- 
Leninist parties or if these parties do not enjoy the neces- 
sary influence. As the anti-imperialist democratic revolution 
develops into socialist revolution, the members of the 
revolutionary-democratic parties assimilate Marxist-Lenin- 
ist ideology, i.e., the ideology of the working class, and 
their actions as a whole fall more and more in line with 
the interests of the proletariat, as was the case in Cuba, for 
example, where in the course of struggle the revolutionary 
democrats rallied under the banner of scientific communism. 

Taking into account the particular ways in which various 
countries fall away from the world capitalist system, it 
can be said that the world socialist revolution is made up 
of heterogeneous revolutionary movements, primarily pro- 
letarian and national liberation and anti-imperialist 

Revolutions with identical content may assume diverse 
forms depending on the situation in a particular country, 
but in the long run they fall into two basic ones: mass 
action involving the use of armed forms of struggle, and 
mass action without the use of arms. If the proletariat 
resorts to the first form to win power the revolution will 
follow a non-peaceful path, if the second form is employed 
it will be a peaceful path. 

The choice of the form in which the proletariat employs 
revolutionary coercion depends ultimately not on its own 
will but on the situation arising in the period of the im- 
mediate revolutionary situation, on the balance of forces 
between the proletariat and the bourgeoisie, between the 


revolution and counter-revolution inside a country and in 
the world. 

The contemporary epoch is characterised by an accel- 
erated growth of the forces of the socialist system, on the 
one hand, and a progressing decline of the world capital- 
ist system, on the other, and as a result of this a colos- 
sal increase in the revolutionary proletarian and national 
liberation movements. Under these conditions the possibility 
of the proletariat coming to power peacefully, without 
civil war in some countries is not ruled out. It is quite 
certain, for example, that in the event of the victory of 
the anti-monopoly democratic revolution led by the pro- 
letariat, there are greater possibilities for going over to 
the socialist revolution by peaceful means. In each indi- 
vidual case, however, the question of whether the prole- 
tariat will assume power by peaceful or non-peaceful 
means is concretely decided depending on the existing 
situation and the correlation of class forces in the period 
of the immediate revolutionary situation. 

Marxists do not link up their political strategy with any 
particular form of winning power. The task of the Com- 
munists is to master all forms and methods of struggle 
and to be able to use them at the right moment depending 
on how the political conditions change. 

Whatever the path of socialist revolution, peaceful or 
otherwise, the proletariat must seize power and establish 
its own proletarian state. As Lenin said, only he is a 
Marxist who carries the recognition of class struggle to 
the point of recognising the necessity of the dictatorship 
of the proletariat, which is set up as a result of the break- 
up of the bourgeois military-bureaucratic apparatus. 

The destruction of the old bourgeois military-bureau- 
cratic machinery, i.e., the apparatus for suppressing the 
working people, above all the army, police and_ the 
intelligence service, is essential for the victory of the 
proletarian revolution. This also constitutes an important 
distinction between the proletarian and the bourgeois 
revolution. Having come to power, the capitalist class 
usually strives to adapt the military-bureaucratic ma- 
chinery, created by the landowner class, to its own needs. 
It succeeds in doing so because the exploiter nature of the 
bourgeois state is akin to that of the feudal state. But when 


the proletariat takes over power it cannot use the old mil- 
itary-bureaucratic apparatus adapted to holding down the 
masses; it has to destroy it. As regards the part of the 
bourgeois state machinery which in one or another degree 
fulfils economic and social functions (management of the 
state sector of economy, public health, education, social 
insurance, and so forth), it naturally should not be des- 
troyed but radically reorganised, severed from the bour- 
geoisie and made to serve the people. What methods are 
employed to break up the military-bureaucratic machinery 
and to reorganise the administrative apparatus dealing 
with economy, public health, etc., depends on the corre- 
lation of class forces inside a country and in the world. 
To be able to fulfil the tasks of a socialist revolution the 
proletariat must create its own machinery of state capable 
of ruthlessly crushing the resistance of the bourgeoisie and 
at the same time ensuring successful socialist construction. 
Its basic element is the apparatus called upon to fulfil 
economic and organisational, social and cultural and edu- 
cational functions. 

5. Socialist Revolution 
as a World Revolutionary Process 

The rise and development of the world imperialist 
system uniting into a single whole the economies of indi- 
vidual countries have paved the way for the fusion of the 
revolutionary movement in different countries into a 
common anti-imperialist front. 

Since the victories of the proletarian revolutions in 
various countries take place at different times, the transi- 
tion from capitalism to socialism all over the world must 
inevitably embrace a whole historical epoch. This epoch 
of transition from capitalism to socialism is the epoch of 
socialist and national liberation revolutions. Despite the 
fact that revolutions in various countries take place at 
different times, they merge into a single world-wide rev- 
olutionary process. This process is composed of movements 
that differ from one another in social content: the social- 
ist, the proletarian, the revolutionary-democratic, the 
peasant, the general democratic anti-war and the national 
liberation, and the anti-imperialist. 


Having such a complex composition and embracing 
revolutions occurring at different times, the world revolu- 
tionary process passes through several stages of develop- 

It begins, as Lenin foresaw, with the falling away of one 
or several countries from the capitalist system. It was the 
Great October Socialist Revolution in Russia that inaugu- 
rated the present epoch, the epoch of transition from 
capitalism to socialism on a world scale, the epoch of 
successive falling away of ever more countries from the 
capitalist system, the epoch of struggle between the two 
opposing world systems, capitalist and socialist. 

Thanks to the existence of the socialist system the pos- 
sibility of breaking the imperialist chain and of fresh 
countries falling away from the capitalist system now de- 
pends not only on the degree of intensity of the contradic- 
tions of imperialism in these countries and on the degree 
to which the imperialist chain as a whole is weakened but 
also on the correlation of class forces throughout the 

As historical experience showed, the falling away of a 
number of European and Asian countries from the world 
capitalist system in the course of and after the Second 
World War was considerably facilitated by the mutual 
support of the internal revolutionary forces and the forces 
of the world’s first socialist state. 

The Soviet Union, as a great socialist power, is an active 
factor in weakening the imperialist chain as a whole. At 
the same time, it has rendered the peoples of a numbcr of 
European and Asian countries direct assistance in their 
struggle against nazi occupation and after their liberation 
prevented the British and American imperialists from ex- 
porting counter-revolution to these countries by force of 
arms. In the post-war period, the Soviet Union and the 
new socialist states formed the world socialist system. 

In the present epoch, the world revolutionary process 
includes the efforts of the socialist countries to complete the 
building of socialism and, in the Soviet Union, to build 
communism; the struggle of the working class in the 
developed capitalist countries against monopoly capital 
and for the victory of socialist revolution; the struggle of 
the colonial and semi-colonial peoples against imperialism 


for national liberation. The peoples of the socialist coun- 
tries, the working class in the developed capitalist coun- 
tries and the oppressed, dependent nations are all con- 
fronted by a common enemy—imperialism. Therefore the 
establishment of a firm alliance between these three prin- 
cipal revolutionary forces of modern times is fully in line 
with their common interests. 

The leading role in the world revolutionary process is 
played by the international proletariat and its main 
offspring—the world socialist system. The national libera- 
tion movement can gain complete success only with the 
support of these forces, with the support of the socialist 

The final victory of socialism in the U.S.S.R., the growth 
of its economic and military-political potential, as well as 
the might of all socialist countries accelerate the world 
revolutionary process. Thanks to the strengthening of the 
world socialist system the geographical remoteness of the 
small countries has ceased to be an insuperable obstacle 
for their peoples struggling to break away from the capi- 
talist system. It is no longer an insurmountable barrier to 
socialist revolution. This is proved by the victory of the 
national liberation anti-imperialist and, subsequently, the 
socialist revolution in Cuba. 

The Marxist-Leninist teaching on socialist revolution as 
a world revolutionary process is confirmed by life itself, 
and enriches itself with new conclusions and propositions 
at every stage of development. This revolutionary teaching 
cannot be shaken by any idcological attacks of reformists, 
revisionists and dogmatists. 

Modern reformists assert that the working class, the 
working people do not have to seize power, that capitalism 
will develop into democratic socialism by itself, without 
revolutionary upheavals and class struggle. John Strachey, 
for example, in his book, The Contemporary Capitalism, 
even substitutes for the sociological term “revolution” the 
biological term “mutation”, to emphasise the absolutely 
peaceful and spontaneous nature of the changes at present 
taking place in capitalist society. 

In the meanwhile the current scientific and technical 
revolution aggravates all the contradictions of state-mo- 
nopoly capitalism. Life gives no grounds for portraying 


things as though the “classical, exploiting capitalism” has 
given way to the so-called people’s capitalism, let alone 
“democratic socialism”. State-monopoly capitalism is a 
profoundly reactionary economic system. The most reac- 
tionary fascist-type regimes spring up on the soil of state- 
monopoly capitalism. 

“All in all,” the C.P.S.U. Programme says, “capitalism 
is increasingly impeding the development of the contem- 
porary productive forces. Mankind is entering the period 
of a scientific and technical revolution bound up with the 
conquest of nuclear energy, space exploration, the devel- 
opment of chemistry, automation and other major achieve- 
ments of science and engineering. But the relations of 
production under capitalism are much too narrow for a 
scientific and technical revolution. Socialism alone is 
capable of effecting it and of applying its fruits in the 
interests of society.”! 

It is characteristic of the reformists to repudiate social- 
ist revolution as a means of struggle for socialism. All the 
countries of the world, they claim, will arrive at socialism 
by only one road, the road of gradual “transformation” 
of capitalism into socialism. 

The harm caused by this Right-wing socialist theory of 
social “transformation” is obvious: it sows dangerous 
illusions in the working class, the proletariat; it dulls its 
revolutionary consciousness and disorganises its militant 
forces in the struggle for the victory of socialism. At the 
same time, this theory discloses the capitulatory position 
of the leaders of Right-wing Social-Democracy with 
regard to capitalism, their withdrawal from the struggle 
against capitalism and their desertion to the position of 
bourgeois reformism and liberalism. 

As for the revisionists in the communist movement, 
they borrow the basic ideas of the reformists, embellish 
them slightly with Marxist-Leninist terminology and pre- 
sent them as a creative contribution to the theory of social- 
ist revolution. They assert that the question ‘‘who will beat 
whom” now no longer stands as it used to stand imme- 
diately after the victory of the October Revolution. So- 
cialism is now developing in the capitalist countries them- 

1 The Road to Communism, p. 472. 

selves. Nowadays, the revisionists claim, there are no 
purely capitalist countries, there are only countries where 
capitalists are still in power, while in the economy and 
other spheres of life there are more or less developed 
socialist elements. As a typical example the revisionists 
cite the Scandinavian countries. 

It is not hard to see that this is only a variation of the 
old reformist theory of the peaceful growing over of cap- 
italism into socialism throughout the world, which has 
long since demonstrated its untenability. Suffice it to say 
that the supporters of such theories have frequently held 
power in various countries, including the Scandinavian 
countries, but this has never led to the establishment of 

Marxism-Leninism has to fight not only against revi- 
Sionist distortion of the theory of world revolution but 
also against Left-wing sectarian dogmatism. It is typical 
of the Left-wing sectarians to deny the peaceful coexist- 
ence of states of the two opposing systems as a condition 
favouring the further development of the world socialist 
revolution. They regard the world socialist revolution not 
as a process in which one country after another falls 
away from the capitalist system but as a permanent world 
revolutionary conflagration. The line which the dogma- 
tists seek to impose upon the world communist movement 
is one of repudiating the policy of the peaceful coexist- 
ence of the states of the two systems, a line of pushing the 
revolution by means of war, a line of exporting revolu- 
tion. But such a line is completely at variance with Marx- 
ism which “has always been opposed to ‘pushing’ revo- 
lutions, which develop with the growing acuteness of class 
antagonisms that engender revolutions” ! 

A correct understanding of the development of the 
revolutionary process is inseparably connected with the 
recognition of the contradiction between the two world 
systems as the main contradiction of the present epoch. 
The struggle of the two systems, the socialist and the 
capitalist, is a class struggle. The peoples of socialist 
countries are the advance detachment of the world revo- 
lutionary process. As the most powerful country of the 

{ Lenin, Collected Works, Vol. 27, pp. 71-72. 

socialist community, the Soviet Union is bearing the brunt 
of the struggle against imperialism. The imperialist export 
of counter-revolution is prevented mainly thanks to the 
Soviet Union’s strength. 

The atlempts to present the contradiction between im- 
perialism and the national liberation movement as the 
main contradiction of the present epoch are absolutely 

This interpretation of the main contradiction of the 
present epoch belittles the significance of the world so- 
cialist system, its leading role in the contemporary world 
revolutionary process and the significance of the prospect 
of socialism in the national] liberation movement. To rea- 
son in this way means to steer a course towards cutting 
off the national liberation movement from the world 
socialist system, which may seriously endanger the 
development of this movement. 

To substantiate their chauvinistic and nationalistic 
claims Mao Tse-tung and his group advance the _ thesis 
that the centre of the present-day revolutionary movement 
is shifting to the regions of the national liberation strug- 
gle which constitute the “world countryside” that is des- 
tined to encircle the ‘world town”. This thesis belittles the 
role played by the working class and its historic mission 
as the principal force that will lead mankind to socialism. 

The Marxist-Leninist theory of socialist revolution 
teaches us to fight for the unity of all anti-imperialist 
forces, for merging the efforts of the peoples of socialist 
countries, the international proletariat and the national 
liberation movement into a single revolutionary torrent. 
This line, which has been thoroughly tested by experi- 
ence, in practice, indicates the path of struggle for the 
overthrow of imperialism, for the triumph of socialism 
throughout the world. 

Chapter V 

An enormous role in the life of a class society is played 
by its political organisation. This political organisation is 
formed on the basis of society’s economic system and ex- 
presses the interests of definite classes. Only by analysing 
the economic system and the class structure of society is 
it possible to understand the essence of the state, the con- 
tent of the struggle by the political parties and to obtain 
a key to an explanation of the political life of society. 

1. The Origin of the State. 
The Essence of the Exploiting State 

In defining what a state is, priority is very often given 
to the fact that it is an organisation of authority. Unques- 
tionably, a state presupposes a distinct authority, but the 
whole thing is what kind of authority. Like al] phenome- 
na, authority in society is historical in character. It is 
wrong, for example, to confuse social authority in the 
primitive-communal system, state authority in a society 
divided into exploiting and exploited classes, state author- 
ity of the working people, and, finally, the social authori- 
ty that will be at the highest phase of communism. The 
state and authority are different things. No society can 
exist without authority, but the existence of the state is 
connected only with definite phases in social development, 
namely, with society’s division into classes. The state 
arose as a natural consequence of the disintegration of the 
primitive-communal system and the division of society into 
hostile classes. Just as naturally will it disappear as a 
result of the building of a classless communist society. 


The form of social organisation that preceded the state 
was the clan or tribal commune, i.e., a body of blood kin- 
dred. The clan, however, was not based solely on natural 
kinship. It was primarily an economic organisation, which 
presupposed collective production and consumption. The 
highest organ of authority of the tribal commune was the 
general assembly of all its adult members. All social posts 
were elective. A union of clans formed a tribe which was 
controlled by a council of elders of all the clans belonging 
to that tribe. The oldest of these elders was the chief of 
the tribe. 

The replacement of the tribal organisation of society by 
a state organisation, in the final analysis, was due to the 
development of production, which led to the emergence 
of private ownership and antagonistic classes. The col- 
lapse of the tribal commune as a producers’ collective and a 
social organisation brought fundamental changes in the 
tribe itself. From a union of clans it gradually turned into 
a purely political union of neighbouring communes on a 
territorial basis. In these new conditions the formerly 
elective posts were taken over by the large and rich fami- 
lies of the more prosperous clans. As the commune disin- 
tegrated and its members turned into private producers, 
the power of the tribal chiefs increased and became more 
and more independent. 

The collapse of the gentile commune as a result of 
increasing inequality of the property status of its mem- 
bers produced serious changes not only within the tribe 
itself but also in the relations between different tribes. In 
the new historical conditions, Engels wrote, “war and 
organisation for war were now regular functions of the 
life of the people’’!. In their turn, the predatory wars that 
were waged for the purpose of seizing the riches of other 
tribes and slaves became a powerful supplementary factor 
stimulating the process of class formation and the estab- 
lishment of state authority separated from the people. 

The organisation of social authority in the period of the 
disintegration of the primitive-communal system and the 
emergence of class society took the form of military de- 
mocracy. Under it the popular assemblies were no longer 

i K. Marx and F. Engels, Selected Works, Vol. II, p. 313. 

assemblies of all members of a clan possessing equal rights, 
but assemblies of men warriors. It was the war chief, the 
tribal council and the chief’s warriors that played the 
leading role in them. 

In the period of military democracy the organs of 
gentile self-government became the objects of sharp 
struggle. Various groups of the gentile, military and reli- 
gious nobility took part in this vicious fight for power, 
and the assembly of the armed people gradually lost its 
significance as the supreme organ of authority. The gen- 
tile aristocracy appropriated the monopoly right to occupy 
all social posts. When society split up into classes, the 
gentile councils became organs of the dictatorship of the 
propertied class. The tribal chief isolated himself more and 
more from the people, and thanks to his personal body of 
warriors became independent of the popular assembly, 
too. His warriors turned into a special, permanently oper- 
ating military detachment with whose support the gen- 
tile nobility could impose its will on the other members 
of their tribe. 

“In this manner,” wrote Engels, “the organs of the 
gentile constitution were gradually torn from their roots 
in the people, in gens, phratry and tribe, and the whole 
gentile order was transformed into its opposite: from an 
organisation of tribes for the free administration of their 
own affairs, it became an organisation for plundering and 
oppressing their neighbours; and correspondingly its 
organs were transformed from instruments of the will of 
the people into independent organs for ruling and oppres- 
sing their own people.”! 

Thus the state emerges as a body or institution for 
preserving and defending the privileges of the ruling so- 
cial groups and for the subjugation and oppression of the 
people whom these groups exploit. Consequently, it emerges 
as an instrument of class domination, as a political organi- 
sation of the ruling, exploiting class. 

The state has two basic characteristics. The first is the 
territorial principle of organisation of the population and 
its relation to the social authority; the second is the exist- 
ence of the public authority, i.e., a social authority that 

4 Marx and Engels, Selected Works, Vol. II, pp. 313-14. 
11-360 161 

is not immediately identical with the entire population. 

It must be stressed that the first characteristic does not 
mean that the subjects are merely divided into territorial 
units; it is a territorial principle of subordinating the 
population to the authority. The division of the population 
according to territory, generally speaking, also existed 
under tribal organisation. The relations between the 
population and the social authority, however, were not based 
on the territorial principle, which then played merely a 
secondary role, but on the principle of kinship. Under the 
state organisation, however, the territorial principle be- 
comes the primary one, while the principle of kinship is 
secondary, subordinate, although it can play a certain 
part (in family relations, matters of inheritance, etc.). 

The public authority, which exists under a class, state 
organisation of society, is defined by the following essen- 
tial characteristics: 

(a) the existence of a special category of people whose 
chief or sole vocation is the management of social affairs. 
This group of people constitutes the apparatus of govern- 

(b) the existence of a special apparatus of coercion, an 
apparatus for exerting compulsion over the will of other 
people. This apparatus consists of special detachments of 
armed men, i.e., army, gendarmerie, police, and a system 
of punitive organs, prisons, courts and similar institutions; 

(c) the collection of material resources from the popu- 
lation in the form of taxes, etc., for the upkeep of the 
apparatus of government and coercion. 

These features of public authority disclose the fact that 
authority in a class society is not immediately identical 
with the population, nor is it an organisation of public 

State authority defends the most general interests of 
the ruling class forming the basis of its existence and 
development. Writing of the bourgeois state, Engels noted 
that it was necessary “in order to support the general 
external conditions of the capitalist mode of production 
against the encroachments as well of the workers-as of 
individual capitalists”.1 Without a certain amount of in- 

{ Frederick Engels, Anti-Dihring, Moscow, 1962, p. 382. 

dependence with regard to individual representatives of 
the ruling class the state simply could not fulfil its tasks. 

The state subjugates the will of the citizens to that of 
the ruling class with the help of a special apparatus ca- 
pable of enforcing the observance of its instructions. Only 
the state elevates the will of the ruling class to a law, 
embodying it in a system of legal norms. 

Sociology and jurisprudence have suggested very many 
definitions of the state which in one way or another con- 
ceal the true nature of the exploiting state, presenting it 
as an instrument operating in the interests of the whole 
nation. Hence the state is defined as an “organisation for 
the maintenance of law and order”, “a body for govern- 
ing the country”, “a system of regulating life’ and so on. 
All such definitions concentrate only on the external 
aspects of the state and obscure its internal class essence. 

Let us take, for example, the definition proposed by the 
British sociologist and student of statehood, G.C. Field. He 
says that the state is a “territorial society, i-e., the people 
‘living on a particular tract of land’ organised under a 
common governing body which has, if not a complete, at 
any rate a very special degree of authority over them.”! 

Obviously no state can exist without territory, any more 
than it can exist without population, for territory and 
population are essential material conditions for the life of 
society. But this does not mean that they are elements of 
the state organisation of society. Territory and popula- 
tion existed before the state came into being and_ they 
will, of course, go on existing after the state has withered 

The essence of state authority in an exploiting society 
is the dictatorship of the ruling class of exploiters, its 
political domination based on coercion with regard to the 
working people. This essence is fully revealed at times of 
revolutionary action by the oppressed and_ exploited 

Since the exploiting state is an instrument in the hands 
of the ruling class for protecting the system of exploita- 
tion, it is quite natural that its chief function is suppres- 
sion of the exploited masses. This function is also 

{G. C. Field, Political Theory, London, 1956, p. 57. 
ae 163 

performed by the army, the police, the gendarmerie, the 
court of law and other instruments of state authority. 

In the exploiting formations the ruling class also im- 
poses on the state the task of spiritually and ideologically 
suppressing the working masses. But this function is per- 
formed not only by the state. Under the slave-owning and 
feudal systems, the Church was the chief instrument for 
Spiritually subjugating the masses. Under modern capital- 
ism, when the ideological struggle has been aggravated to 
the extreme, on the one hand, and new powerful means 
of indoctrinating the masses have been invented, on the 
other, the task of suppressing them spiritually was trans- 
ferred by the ruling class, i.e., the imperialist bourgeoisie, 
mainly to the bourgeois political parties, all sorts of so- 
cieties, as well as monopoly groupings in the press, radio, 
cinema and television. 

The internal functions of the exploiting state serve to 
consolidate definite forms of exploitation of working peo- 
ple of the country; its external functions are defence, by 
means of military, diplomatic, economic and _ ideological 
struggle, of the interests of the ruling class in inter-state 
relations, in the international scene. 

The internal and external functions of the state neces- 
sarily flow from the very nature of the exploiting state as 
an organisation of armed coercion over the working 
masses within and without the country. Nevertheless, apart 
from this, in all antagonistic socio-economic formations, 
the state in one measure or another directly influences 
the economic life of the country, which is also done in the 
interests of the ruling class. 

2. Types of Exploiting States. 
The Bourgeois State and Its Functions 

The state is a most important part of the social super- 
structure. It is quite natural, therefore, that the essential 
features of any state are determined by the economic basis 
on which it stands and which it serves. History knows 
three basic types of exploiting state—the slave-owning, the 
feudal and the bourgeois state, depending on the nature 
of this basis and on the exploiting class which stands at 
the helm of the state. 


Each type of exploiting state is characterised by its 
particular aims and its methods of suppressing the work- 
ing people, by its specific apparatus of coercion. 

In the slave-owning society the source of the wealth 
of the slave-owners is the rapacious exploitation of slave 
labour by means of direct non-economic compulsion. The 
inhuman oppression of the slaves inevitably incited their 
covert or overt resistance. Quite naturally, therefore, the 
internal function of the slave-owning state was mainly to 
suppress the resistance of the slaves and ensure the slave- 
owners favourable conditions for direct and complete 
enforcement of slave labour. 

Since in slave-owning society there was antagonism not 
only between the slaves and the slave-owners but also 
among the free population, it was natural that the inter- 
nal function of the state was also directed against the 
free peasants and artisans. Its function could not, how- 
ever, be exercised against these free men in such brutal 
and violent forms as it was against the slaves. The slaves, 
being mostly of foreign origin, were completely cut off 
from politics and the law, but the poor freemen were in 
one form or another allowed to participate in political 

In feudal society the feudal landowners combine both 
non-economic and economic coercion. The peasants de- 
pend on the feudal lord primarily because he owns the 
land. They become personally less dependent on the ex- 
ploiter. The landowner de jure can no longer treat the 
peasants as things and commit any violence against them 
with impunity. 

Under feudalism the landowner’s full ownership of land 
and his partial ownership of the peasant take the form of 
political power over a definite area and the population 
inhabiting it. The peasants’ duties as the subjects of the 
feudal lord are officially regulated by law. But in prac- 
tice their economic and legal position differs little from that 
of slaves. The task of the state, as a political organisation 
of the landowner class, is primarily to suppress the 
resistance of the peasants to economic and non-economic 
coercion by the landowners and thus ensure a steady flow 
of feudal rent into their pockets. 

The character of capitalist exploitation inevitably gives 


rise to a corresponding change in the aims and methods 
of suppression. The bourgeois state no longer sets itself 
the task of making it directly incumbent upon each 
worker to labour for a particular exploiter. Its aim is to 
ensure general conditions for capitalist exploitation, i.e., 
the inviolability of private capitalist property, which 
places the working class in direct economic dependence on 
the bourgeoisie. This is achieved by employing ruthless 
force to cut short any attempt on the part of the working 
class and all working people to free themselves from 

The management of the state is carried out by the 
capitalist class with the help of a widespread administra- 
tive apparatus. This apparatus is a force that stands 
above the people because of the means of its formation, its 
anti-democratic organisational structure and the methods 
it employs. It has at its disposal all the chief means of 
state authority: the army, the punitive organs, the intel- 
ligence service and the prisons. 

Even in the most democratic bourgeois republic these 
special detachments of armed men are the chief  instru- 
ment of the bourgeoisie’s political domination, the instru- 
ment for mercilessly suppressing the people. This is how 
the Halian lawyer and publicist Gino Bellavita (who is 
certainly no Communist) describes the activities of one of 
the branches of the Italian police in his book, Il paese 
delle cinque polizie. 

“It was certainly not a fortuitous coincidence,’ he 
writes, “that the Celere! appeared on the scene at the same 
time as the democratic Constitution of 1946 and was in 
a sense its antipode. On the one hand, the beautiful words 
about political and civil freedoms; on the other, armoured 
cars, machine guns, trucks, radio stations, truncheons... 
tear-gas, smoke bombs and hose pipes. 

“It is enough for workers to stage an ordinary strike 
for higher pay or some other purely economic demand, 
for students to demonstrate in support of their ‘seditious’ 
pretension to the right of getting an education at our 
extremely expensive and extremely backward universi- 
ties, for a column of invalids, the blind or old-age pension- 

1 One of the five types of police. 


ers to appear or for a gathering of democratic patriots 
to bring flowers to the graves of those who fell defending 
Rome—for the Celere immediately to arrive on the 

“Always, whatever government was in office, the 
Ministry of Internal Affairs has been the centre and the 
main lever of political power in Italy. It is no accident 
that for decades it has remained entirely under the control 
of the President of the Council of Ministers who is thus 
in a position to control every aspect of the country’s 
life, to influence it, even to the extent of abolishing or 
reorganising (there were always the means to do this) 
various institutions, including the most democratic 
and liberal ones.... It is the Ministry of Internal Affairs 
that has always been the real government of the 

As the state apparatus acretes to the apparatus of the 
monopolies, its part in the forcible suppression of the 
people’s resistance increases to a colossal extent. The 
numerical strength of the armed forces and the alloca- 
tions for their upkeep swell to proportions unheard of in 
peacetime. Special internal military units—so-called secur- 
ity forces—are formed. The state apparatus becomes more 
and more militarised. The activities of the secret political 
police, which spreads its tentacles into every branch of 
society, acquire much wider scope. The gigantic state 
machine of physical coercion is supplemented by a rami- 
fied apparatus for ideologically suppressing the masses. 
State information agencies, radio stations, publishing houses, 
etc., spread an increasing volume of spiritual poison 
among the population, misinforming it about current events 
at home and abroad and propagating reactionary ideas 
that suit the ruling classes. 

The colossal growth of this military-bureaucratic 
machine in the imperialist countries is due, of course, not 
only to the aggravation of contradictions between the 
financial oligarchy and the mass of the people within a 
country but also to the intensification of external contra- 

{ Gino Bellavita, IJ paese delle cinque pulizie, Milano, 1962, pp. 
24-25, 115-16. 


The imperialist states form military-political alliances 
and endeavour to crush the revolutionary movement per- 
forming the function of a gendarme. At present, the ex- 
port of counter-revolution finds its official expression in 
various kinds of aggressive pacts, such as NATO, SEATO 
and CENTO. The NATO pact, for example, specifically 
lays it down in its Charter that in the event of any anti- 
government incident in one of the member countries, the 
other member countries will render armed assistance for 
the purpose of restoring “order”. 

To the Marxist-Leninist teaching about the exploitative 
essence of the bourgeois state and the difference in prin- 
ciple between the bourgeois and socialist types of state, 
contemporary Right-wing Socialists oppose a theory of the 
so-called post-capitalist society and state. 

The bourgeois ideologists and reformists have given 
this kind of state the high-sounding name of “welfare 
state”. They usually regard the main characteristic fea- 
tures of this state to be state regulation of economy, which 
allegedly eliminates economic crises, and extensive social 
functions allegedly performed in the interests of all social 

Marxists do not deny, of course, that the economic func- 
tion is natural for the modern bourgeois state and that it 
performs certain tasks in the social sphere. But they fully 
reject the efforts of bourgeois ideologists and reformists 
to present this as evidence of the bourgeois state growing 
into a “welfare state”. 

In actual fact, however, the increasing role played by 
the bourgeois state in the economy of modern capitalist 
countries does not signify that this state is turning into a 
“people’s”, “‘supra-class” state which displays equal con- 
cern for the interests of all social groups, but manifests 
the inability of the monopolies to secure extended repro- 
duction of capital without the direct participation of the 
machinery of state. As things stand. the modern im- 
perialist state controls and regulates economy in the in- 
terests of the monopolies, thus giving them the opportuni- 
ty to turn to their advantage not only their own capital, 
but also to use the state treasury which is replenished by 
taxes levied on the population, as a sort of machine for 
pumping out superprofits. 




Through the enforcement of certain control and regula- 
tion measures the bourgeois state is able to influence the 
economic cycle, but it cannot plan the development of the 
national economy as a whole, for the domination of the 
monopolies does not abolish, but, on the contrary, inten- 
sifies competition and anarchy of production, which 
sooner or later inevitably lead to economic crises of over- 

As regards the social activity of the bourgeois state, it 
is brought to life, on the one hand, by the objective re- 
quirements of modern capitalist production and, on the 
other, by the sharp intensification of the revolutionary 
struggle of the working class in the period of the general 
crisis of capitalism both in individual capitalist countries, 
and on a world scale. The formation in capitalist states 
of such bodies as the ministries of labour, education, 
public health, social maintenance, culture, public works, 
housing construction, family and youth, tourism and sport, 
etc., takes place precisely during this period. The estab- 
lishment of one or another of the above ministries usually 
coincides with acute class conflicts, mass strikes, political 
demonstrations, etc., in the country. Due to the competi- 
tion and the struggle between the two world socio-economic 
systems, the bourgeoisie is ever more often compelled to 
make concessions to the working people. 

As can be seen from history, initially the bourgeois 
state resorted to social activity primarily because it made 
it possible to employ more flexible forms of struggle 
against the revolutionary working-class movement. Under 
state-monopoly capitalism, the social activity of the bour- 
geois state becomes a sort of social prophylactic measure 
to prevent the growth of the class consciousness of 
the working people and the development of class 

Thus the “welfare state” concept is untenable from 
beginning to end. What we have here actually is a resur- 
rection of the long since discredited conception of the 
“conciliator-state” which claims that the state authority 
reconciles antagonistic classes. In fact, however, the bour- 
geois state has been, and remains, an instrument for the 
domination of the exploiters over the exploited. It cannot 
and does not stand above classes. 


3. The Forms of the Bourgeois State 

The form of a state should be understood as the means 
by which the ruling class organises and exercises its 
political power, political regime, form of government and 
form of state structure. 

The political regime in the bourgeois state is charac- 
terised by either openly terroristic or veiled methods of 
suppression. Under modern capitalism, terroristic military, 
fascist, tyrannical regimes alternate with parliamentarian- 
ism masking the dictatorship of the bourgeoisie. The form 
of government is either monarchist or republican. The 
form of state structure is either simple (unitary) or com- 
plex (federal). 

The character of a political regime depends primarily 
on the correlation of class forces and the course of the 
class struggle. Thus the regime of the modern parlia- 
mentary democracy in a capitalist society was formed in the 
fight against absolutism. 

During its early stages absolutism promoted the devel- 
opment of the capitalist mode of production and played 
a progressive part compared with the feudal monarchy 
based on the system of estates. Absolutism put an end to 
feudal fragmentation. As long as it promoted economic 
growth it had the support of the bourgeoisie. But when 
absolutism had exhausted its possibilities, the bourgeoisie 
turned away from it, passing first to opposition and then 
launching an overt struggle against it. During the bour- 
geois revolutions in England (17th century) and France 
(18th century), absolutism, as the political superstructure 
of feudal society, was destroyed along with its economic 

In the course of its fierce struggle with absolutism the 
bourgeoisie evolved means of effecting and organising its 
authority, which in their totality became known as par- 
liamentary democracy. 

Under parliamentary democracy the population is 
formally granted the right to set up political parties for the 
protection of its group or professional interests. The sup- 
reme legislative body, parliament, is formed by country- 
wide elections. The party that gains a majority of seats in 




parliament forms a government which directs the execu- 
tive apparatus of authority. 

Parliamentary democracy, when it is consistent and 
fully practised, presupposes a republican form of govern- 
ment, i.e., an organisation of the supreme governmental 
bodies with a president as the head of state, elected either 
directly by the population or by parliament. In practice, 
however, the bourgeoisie of a number of countries gave up 
consistently spreading democracy on the form of authori- 
ty and preferred to have a monarchy and allowing the 
monarch to keep certain rights in the sphere of supreme 
legislative, executive and judicial power. 

The form of state structure under parliamentary de- 
mocracy in some countries is characterised by proclama- 
tion of the principles of federalism and municipalism. 
Within the federal state cantons, lands and states retain 
a certain degree of autonomy in exercising legislative, 
executive and judiciary authority. Under the municipal 
principle, regardless of whether the state is federal or uni- 
tary, local organs of self-government called municipalities 
are democratically set up and endowed with authority to 
deal with certain questions of the health service, transport, 
and so on, and are formally regarded as independent of the 
officials (prefects, etc.), appointed to local government posts 
by the central executive authority. 

Parliamentarianism is a system of bourgeois political 
power under which the whole population, or its majority, 
is granted only the formal right to participate in the for- 
mation of the supreme organ of power, to take part in the 
elections to parliament, but in fact is not allowed to exert 
any real influence on the affairs of state. This method of 
organising state power above all ensures the domination of 
capital, protects the supremacy of private capitalist 
ownership of the means of production and thus restricts the 
people’s participation in state affairs by economic means. 

Bourgeois democracy considerably restricts both 
economic and political participation of the working people 
in governmental affairs. Freedom of speech and assembly 
is fundamentally curtailed because the press, radio and 
television and the places of assembly, are controlled by 
the bourgeoisie, which is not at all interested in making 
them available for an expression of the people’s will. 


The bourgeoisie employs many political means of 
restricting the democracy of the working people. While 
formally proclaiming universal franchise, it usually hedges 
in this right with all sorts of provisos and qualifications— 
educational, residential, etc. The bourgeois electoral sys- 
tems are so designed as to prevent the election of genuine 
people’s representatives to parliament, or make their elec- 
tion extremely difficult. By using all possible types of the 
so-called majority electoral system, which in reality is 
nothing more than legalised political swindle, the bour- 
geoisie very often manages to distort the real will of the 
electors in one way or another. 

The decay of the economic basis of capitalism under 
imperialism leads to the crisis, to the disintegration of the 
bourgeois-democratic political system. Having won the 
commanding heights in the machinery of state, the monop- 
olies do all they can to nullify democracy, to abrogate 
or pare down to a minimum the democratic rights of the 
working people, and to acquire complete freedom to 
pursue a reactionary home and foreign policy. 

In the stage of imperialism, particularly under state- 
monopoly capitalism, not all capitalists but only their 
upper crust, the financial oligarchy, exercises state admin- 
istration of society. The state becomes a committee for 
the management of the affairs of the monopoly bourgeoi- 
sie. The subordination of the State apparatus to the monop- 
olies has considerably weakened the role of parliament 
in the political life of the capitalist countries. 

At first sight it may seem that there can be no question 
of any crisis or decline in parliamentarianism since the 
First World War and the October Revolution. In actual 
fact, this period has seen a further democratisation of 
franchise. In most countries women have gained the right 
to vote—in Britain in 1918, in Germany in 1919, in the 
United States in 1920, in France in 1946, and so on. In 
certain countries (France and Britain. for example) the 
property qualification has been abolished and such polit- 
ical and social rights as the right to set up trade unions, 
the right to strike, the right to state insurance have been 
extended. These rights have been given legal force by par- 
liament, which would thus seem to confirm the fact that 
it increasingly expresses the people’s sovereignty. 


There is no doubt that a certain strengthening of 
democratic tendencies in the social life of a number of 
countries is taking place. This is primarily the result of 
the active struggle of the working class and all the work- 
ing people against the monopolies, against the forces of 
reaction. But at the same time one must see also the op- 
posite processes, showing that, parallel to the democrati- 
sation of the electoral system and the extension of the 
social and political rights of the working people, the real 
political weight of parliament, as the supreme repre- 
sentative body of government, systematically diminished, 
and consequently the possibility of the masses to exercise 
any appreciable influence on governmental policy through 
parliament has decreased in spite of a tremendous growth 
in the number of voters (the electoral reforms of 1918 to 
1920 in Britain, for example, trebled their numbers). In 
the new historical conditions parliament is no longer the 
government’s master. On the contrary, the government is 
usually the master and lord of parliament. 

The composition and the political line of governments 
in many countries are determined by a narrow group of 
financial magnates and monopolists. Obviously this omnipo- 
tence of the monopolies is concealed by the observance 
of all the formal requirements of parliamentarianism. In 
effect, however, the monopolies gain control of alf the in- 
termediate links in the political system on which the 
formation of a government depends. 

The most important of these links are the political 
parties. When a bourgeois political party gains a majority 
in parliament, the upper crust of the party shares out the 
cabinet posts and its leader becomes head of the govern- 
ment. Thus the party leadership in addition to being mas- 
ter of their party become master of parliament. Parlia- 
ment falls under the control of the government, that is, 
under the control of ruling party groupings. This tendency 
continues to develop in the period of the general crisis 
of capitalism, the crisis of its policy, the crisis of 
bourgeois democracy. 

The shift of the centre of gravity in the upper sections 
of the state machinery towards the government is accom- 
panied by an intensified centralisation and bureaucratisa- 
tion of all government bodies from top to bottom. Federal 


states become, in effect, unitary states. A vivid example 
of this is the United States and Switzerland, where the 
staies and the cantons have lost a considerable amount of 
their previous autonomy and are now fully dependent on 
the central government, particularly in the financial 

Both in federal and unitary states the municipalities 
have preserved only a semblance of independence. Their 
activity depends more and more on instructions from the 
central government bodies and their emissaries on the 

The crisis of the parliamentary forms of organisation of 
bourgeois authority is accompanied by a crisis in the libe- 
ral methods of exercising this authority, the methods of 
manoeuvring and partial concessions. In this period there 
is a tendency towards replacement of the bourgeois- 
democratic parliamentary regime by an authoritarian re- 
gime, which is characterised by methods of direct military 
suppression, methods of terroristic action against revolu- 
tionary and opposition forces. 

The legality which in any case prescribes to all citizens 
and government bodies to act according to the law, thus 
protecting to an extent the individual from arbitrary treat- 
ment by the state, is becoming ever more of a burden for 
the imperialist bourgeoisie. It regards the rule of law as 
an anachronism and a left-over of liberal times. 

The imperialist bourgeoisie’s rejection of legality ex- 
presses itself particularly in the encouragement given to 
the political gangsterism of various unofficial, para-mili- 
tary fascist organisations. If monopoly capital considers it 
politically inexpedient to use the army and the police to 
crush a revolutionary or just a strike movement, the job 
is passed on to legal, semi-legal or illegal terroristic organ- 
isations which perpetrate political assassinations, and 
blackmail and terrorise the population with the tacit 
consent and even the protection of the police. 

The activities of the notorious Mafia in the south of 
Italy provide a typical example of the use of secret 
terroristic organisations for political purposes. 

The crisis of parliamentary democracy reveals itself also 
in the fact that within the framework of this democracy 
in the very beginning of the contemporary epoch there 


arose a bourgeois party which, because of its extreme 
reactionary orientation, categorically rejects parliamentary 
democracy with its multiparty political system and pro- 
claimed principles of popular sovereignty, representative 
government, the rule of parliament, the division of 
authority, federal state structure and local self-government. 
This was the fascist party. 

The fascists replace the principle of representative gov- 
ernment by the principle of one-man dictatorship, which 
cuts out any possibility of election, replacement and ac- 
countability to the population on the part of government 
bodies. The introduction of one-man dictatorship as a 
principle of state building is the logical conclusion of the 
reactionary tendency to concentrate all power in the hands 
of the executive bodies, in the hands of the bureaucratic 
civil-service apparatus. 

The tendency for the bourgeois party machine to coal- 
esce with that of the state, and to form a single powerful 
apparatus for the terroristic suppression of the masses, 
reaches its final and concentrated expression under 
fascism. Fascism develops to culmination the tendency 
towards the conversion of a bourgeois-democratic state into 
a police state. 

Fascism as a form of dictatorship of the monopoly 
bourgeoisie is the complete rejection of parliamentary 
democracy. However, despite all the differences that exist 
between the fascist political regime and the bourgeois- 
democratic regime, they have much in common. The kin- 
ship between parliamentary democracy and fascism, as 
two major forms of a modern bourgeois state, is con- 
firmed by universally known historical facts. Thus, after the 
First World War three forms of bourgeois state succeeded 
each other in Germany: the Weimar Republic (1918-33), 
Hitler’s Third Reich (1933-45) and the Federal Republic 
of Germany (West Germany). But whatever their distinc- 
tions, their economic basis and class nature are alike. In 
all of them actual political authority fell into the hands 
of the financial oligarchy. Therefore it was quite natural 
that by their anti-ccommunism and abettment of fascism, 
the bourgeois parties prepared the ground for the National- 
Socialists’ coming to power. 

Fascism is the terroristic dictatorship of the imperialist 


bourgeoisie, while parliamentary democracy is its disguised 
dictatorship. What under imperialism in parliament- 
ary countries manifests itself only as a tendency, under 
fascism is elevated to the status of a principle of state 
building. Fascism is the dictatorship of the most reaction- 
ary, chauvinistic circles of the imperialist bourgeoisie. 
First and foremost, it is the dictatorship of that part of 
the imperialist bourgeoisie that considers it superfluous to 
share power with any other sections of the bourgeoisie, 
particularly the middle bourgeoisie. 

The domination of monopoly capital in the epoch of 
the general crisis of capitalism, the merging of the power 
of the financial oligarchy with that of the state in the im- 
perialist countries inevitably generate a tendency towards 
fascisation of social and state life. This does not mean, 
however, that political reaction connected with the om- 
nipotence of the financial oligarchy is bound to take the 
final form of a fascist regime. The establishment of 
fascism is not a fatal inevitability. Whether parliamentary 
democracy is to be preserved in a capitalist country or 
whether it will be replaced by a military-fascist dictator- 
ship depends on the strength and solidarity of the work- 
ing class, its organisation and unity, its ability to lead 
other sections of the population in the struggle against 

No matter how limited bourgeois democracy may be in 
the matter of meeting the vital interests of the proletariat, 
the proletariat cannot stand aside when the financial oli- 
garchy is conducting a vicious offensive against the dem- 
ocratic freedoms that have been won by the people in 
the course of a long and hard struggle, when it is seeking 
to destroy these freedoms, to abolish parliament or nullify 
its role in the state. 

Bourgeois democracy was established, consolidated and 
extended not by the bourgeoisie alone. More often than 
not the bourgeoisie consented to the extension of democ- 
racy mainly because it was forced to do so by the revo- 
lutionary struggle of the proletariat. The working class 
has always fought to broaden democracy because democ- 
racy offers the most favourable conditions for economic 
and political struggle against the bourgeoisie, for rallying 
around itself the non-proletarian working masses. One of 


Lenin’s great behests is that the masses cannot be led to 
socialist revolution without fighting for democracy. 

In their fight against the oppression of monoply capi- 
tal the proletariat and its Marxist-Leninist parties strive 
to make maximum use of the bourgeois-democratic free- 
doms and to extend them to the utmost. In certain coun- 
tries, in Germany, for example, in the late twenties and 
early thirties, in France in the thirties, in Italy and France 
after the Second World War, the proletariat succeeded in 
winning important positions in bourgeois parliament. 
Thanks to their numerical strength the communist groups 
in the parliaments of some countries are capable of pre- 
venting parliament from becoming a mere appendage of 
the government. They use parliament not only as a plat- 
form for the exposure of the bourgeois government’s anti- 
popular policies but also to carry through certain reforms 
for the benefit of the working people, increasing their 
revolutionary preparedness and promoting their solidarity. 

The significance of various democratic reforms and in- 
stitutions depends on the correlation of class forces, on 
the scope of the revolutionary struggle, on the ability of 
the working masses and their parties to uphold their 

The mass democratic struggle might give rise to more 
or less broad class alliances and their victory result in the 
emergence of diverse forms of states or governments of 
a transitional type. During the first Russian revolution of 
1905-07, for example, Lenin upheld the need of an al- 
liance of the workers and peasants and advanced the idea 
of the establishment of the revolutionary-democratic dic- 
tatorship of the proletariat and the peasantry which could 
with time develop into the dictatorship of the proletariat. 
While states of the basic type are usually the rule of a 
single class, states of a transitional type may embody the 
rule of an alliance or a bloc of different classes united by 
common interests, as for example, the interests of the 
struggle against reactionary feudal forces, the furtherance 
of democratic reforms, and so forth. History has also 
shown that popular front governments, expressing the in- 
terests of a bloc of progressive forces which want to pre- 
serve democracy, can emerge in the fight against fascism. 
It stands to reason that this precludes neither contradic- 

12-360 TZ. 

tions of diverse class forces within such a bloc, nor the 
leading role of a certain class which, owing to its place 
in society and historical conditions, stands at the helm of 
the movement. In the contemporary epoch, the prole- 
tariat is the most consistent fighter for democracy. 

4. The Socialist State in the Period 
of Transition from Capitalism to Socialism 

The socialist state is a qualitatively new historical type 
of state in which political power belongs to the working 
class. It differs in principle from all types of the exploit- 
ing state. 

The exploiting state is designed to safeguard the socio- 
economic system based on the private ownership of the 
means of production and on exploitation, and to consoli- 
date and perpetuate the division of society into classes, 
favourable to the ruling class. The working class, on the 
contrary, uses state power to abolish exploitation of man 
by man and all its causes. The proletariat needs the state 
not to consolidate and perpetuate its position as a class 
but to eliminate all the conditions that give rise to the 
division of society into classes. The proletariat regards the 
socialist state as the basic instrument for the transforma- 
tion of capitalist into a communist society. When it has 
carried out the tasks of communist construction, it should 
wither away. 

In the period of transition from capitalism to socialism, 
the socialist state is a powerful instrument of the class 
struggle in the hands of the workers against the over- 
thrown but still fiercely resisting exploiters. 

In its content this state is a dictatorship of the prole- 
tariat whose essential feature is suppression of the resist- 
ance of precisely the exploiter classes—the bourgeoisie and 
its direct ally, the landowners. The dictatorship. of the 
proletariat is nothing else than the political power of the 
working class which in alliance with all working people 
destroys the exploiting system and builds up a new, social- 
ist society. 

Although the dictatorship of the proletariat is an 
instrument of the class struggle of the progressive forces 


both within a country and on the international scene, 
the class struggle is not an aim in itself for the proletariat. 
It is above all a means of ensuring more or less favour- 
able conditions for fulfilling its historic mission. Lenin 
frequently stressed that proletarian dictatorship does not 
imply only violence and not even mainly violence. The 
dictatorship of the proletariat is primarily an instrument 
for transforming the socio-economic, political and ideolog- 
ical aspects of social life along socialist lines. 

To carry out the tasks of socialist revolution the prole- 
tariat must have the direct, immediate support of other 
toiling classes. Hence it follows that an alliance between 
the proletariat and the non-proletarian toiling masses (the 
petty bourgeoisie of town and country, the intelligentsia, 
the middle strata, etc.) is essential for the realisation of the 
tasks of dictatorship of the proletariat. The formation of 
such an alliance is a matter of life and death for the so- 
cialist state. The maintenance of such an alliance with the 
non-proletarian toiling masses, primarily the peasantry, 
which makes it possible to accomplish the tasks of social- 
ist revolution, was called by Lenin the supreme principle 
of proletarian dictatorship. 

The alliance between the working class and the peas- 
antry, as an essential condition of the existence of the dic- 
tatorship of the proletariat, can be strong only when the 
leading role in it is played by the working class. State 
guidance of the peasantry by the proletariat presupposes 
constant concern for the consolidation of their alliance, the 
adoption of measures to ensure that the peasants com- 
pletely break away from the bourgeoisie, and efforts to bring 
them into active participation in socialist construction. 

The dictatorship of the proletariat is just as inconceiv- 
able without the suppression of the resistance of the de- 
posed exploiting classes as it is inconceivable without demo- 
cracy for the working people. 

Proletarian democracy is the highest type of democracy, 
compared with what has previously been achieved in the 
history of society. First and foremost, it is democracy for 
the overwhelming majority of the population, democracy 
for the broadest masses. What is more, unlike bourgeois 
democracy, proletarian democracy is not confined to a for- 
mal proclamation of the political rights of the working 

12° 179 

people. It shifts the stress to their actual realisation. Free- 
dom of speech is ensured by the fact that the printshops, 
supplies of paper, radio and television are turned over to 
the working people. Freedom of assembly is achieved by 
giving the working people the best buildings and, above 
all, providing them with the leisure time without which 
freedom of assembly is just an empty phrase. The reali- 
sation of political freedoms for the working people is 
impossible without depriving the bourgeoisie of the advan- 
tages ensuring their unshakable domination in any bour- 
geois republic, even the most democratic, and primarily 
without abolishing private ownership of the basic means 
of production. 

The very first acts of the Great October Socialist Rev- 
olution—abolition of landed estates and capitalist property, 
the transformation of the country’s wealth into the prop- 
erty of the whole people, the granting of political and 
social rights to the working people, the eradication of 
national oppression and inequality of women, etc.—dis- 
closed the profoundly revolutionary, democratic essence 
of a socialist state. The purpose of such a state is econom- 
ic, social and political emancipation of the masses. Therein 
lies the profound meaning of the humanism of the October 

The need to crush the resistance of the enemies of the 
revolution gave rise to the coercive function of the social- 
ist state, which it performed in the interests of the work- 
ing people. 

The degree of severity on the part of the dictatorship 
of the proletariat towards the conquered but not elimi- 
nated bourgeoisie depends on the degree of the resistance 
offered by the bourgeoisie. This fact alone explains, for 
example, why the Soviet Government was forced to dis- 
franchise the bourgeoisie, while under people’s democra- 
cy the bourgeoisie was not as a rule deprived of electoral 

There may be a one-party or a multiparty system under 
the dictatorship of the proletariat depending on the con- 
crete historical conditions. In the Soviet Union, for exam- 
ple, it took quite some time for the one-party system to 
become established. Initially, prior to the counter-revolu- 
tionary putsch in July 1918, the Left-wing Socialist-Rev- 


olutionary Party was the second biggest Soviet party after 
the Bolsheviks. It even had its representatives in the So- 
viet Government for a certain period. As far back as in the 
beginning of 1920, during the grim days of the Civil War, 
the Mensheviks took part in the elections to the Moscow 
Soviet, and their leader Martov was even its deputy. But 
the development of Soviet democracy showed that not only 
the bourgeois parties but also the petty-bourgeois pseudo- 
socialist parties have no roots in the people, and, inas- 
much as they worked for the restoration of capitalism in 
the U.S.S.R., the people rejected them once and for all. 

In Rumania and Hungary the one-party system was 
formed as a result of the liquidation of the reactionary bour- 
geois-landowner parties, the unification of the Communists 
and Social-Democrats on the basis of Marxist-Leninist 
principles, and the self-dissolution of Left-wing petty- 
bourgeois parties in accordance with the will of their 

In some of the People’s Democracies both the Commu- 
nist and democratic parties take part in the administration 
of the state. Such parties exist, for example, in Bulgaria, 
Poland and the German Democratic Republic. The Com- 
munists there far from seeking their liquidation, on the 
contrary, even consider them essential in the period of 
socialism inasmuch as they firmly adhere to the socialist 
prospects of development and mobilise their members to 
active co-operation with the people’s rule. 

The dictatorship of the proletariat is a state concept. 
All its vital functions are realised primarily through 
the state and its apparatus. But it must be borne in 
mind—and this is also an expression of the profoundly 
democratic spirit of the socialist state—that many political 
and mass organisations such as trade unions, co-operative 
societies, youth leagues, and others, vigorously further the 
goals of the dictatorship of the proletariat. The Commu- 
nist and Workers’ Parties are the guiding and directing 
force of the entire system of state and mass organisations 
in socialist states. 

The working class evolves the state form of its political 
authority in conformity with the national and concrete 
historical conditions. 

A feature of a socialist state is politica] centralisation 


of its administrative-territorial areas which is demanded 
by the requirements of modern production, and_ social 
ownership of the means of production. At the same time, 
the socialist state as a direct organisation of the working 
people, embodying consistent democracy in its structure, 
must offer its administrative-territorial areas the maximum 
of autonomy in deciding local questions. 

In the socialist state, in complete accord with democratic 
centralism and internationalism, the national minorities 
living in compact mass on a definite territory are granted 
the right of autonomy. Under certain conditions, in a multi- 
national country a federal form of state structure may 
be recognised as expedient. 

There is a great diversity of state forms of the dictator- 
ship of the proletariat. From the historical point of view, 
the Paris Commune was the first type of a state form of 
the dictatorship of the proletariat. By analysing the Paris 
Commune, Marx and Engels deduced a number of vitally 
important features of the state form of the dictatorship of 
the proletariat: direct and universal political organisations 
of the masses as the basis of state power; unity of legis- 
lation and administration; a republican form of govern- 
ment; democratic centralism as the basic principle of state 
structure; the electivity, accountability and replacement of 
all persons in authority as essential constitutional guaran- 
tees for the observance of proletarian democracy. 

The Paris Commune only outlined the general features 
of the state form of the proletarian dictatorship, whereas 
the Soviet Republic in Russia was able not only to confirm 
them but to develop them in all respects. The Soviets were 
the most mass and all-embracing working-class organisa- 
tion created on the initiative of the workers themselves. 
They appeared in Russia during the revolution of 1905 and 
again in 1917, but this time not only as Soviets of Work- 
ers’ but also as Soviets of Peasants’ and Soldiers’ Depu- 
ties. Lenin pointed out that if the revolutionary classes 
by their creative initiative had not set up the Soviets, the 
proletarian revolution in Russia would have been a hope- 
less undertaking, for with the old apparatus the proletariat 
would have been unable to retain power, while a new one 
could not be set up immediately. 

The Soviet form of proletarian dictatorship was the most 


acceptable and effective in those historical conditions, and 
the whole experience of life and struggle of the Soviet state 
demonstrates its enormous historic significance. 

The people’s democratic republics of Europe and Asia, 
having a number of features that distinguish them from 
the Soviet Republic, were established in new historical 

In all People’s Democracies there exists under various 
titles a mass socio-political organisation, the Popular Front, 
of a kind that the Soviet Republic never knew. The 
Popular Front is the organisational form of the alliance of 
the working class, the toiling peasantry, the urban petty 
bourgeoisie and the intellectuals. In some countries, the 
German Democratic Republic, for example, it has also served 
as an organisational form of the political alliance of 
the working class and the patriotic elements of the national 
bourgeoisie. The Popular Front advances a programme 
common to all social groups. It provides for co-operation 
between the Communist and other democratic parties. 

The character of the state form of the dictatorship of 
the proletariat depends on certain objective factors in a 
particular country. The means by which the power of the 
bourgeoisie is overthrown, the relation of class forces 
within the country and in the world, the degree and meth- 
ods of the resistance offered by the exploiting classes, 
the degree of political consciousness and the forms of 
organisation of the working class, the forms of political 
activity of the peasantry, urban petty bourgeoisie and 
intellectuals, the specific features of the development of 
the democratic revolution into a socialist revolution, the 
experience of the preceding proletarian revolutions, the 
presence or absence of a neighbouring socialist state, the 
might of the socialist camp, the level of economic devel- 
opment and character of economic structure, national 
composition, territory and density of population—all these 
things, taken together, determine the specific state form of 
the dictatorship of the proletariat. 

The Marxist-Leninist teaching on the dictatorship of the 
proletariat has for many decades been the target of bitter 
attacks by bourgeois ideologists, reformists and revisionists. 

In the past the renegades of Marxism in all manner of 
ways distorted the Marxist teaching on the dictatorship 


of the proletariat, while hypocritically quoting Marx and 
Engels, but now they have openly repudiated this teach- 
ing and proclaimed that their ideology of “humane and 
democratic socialism” is hostile in principle to any form 
of dictatorship. 

Typical of the attitude of all Right-wing socialist theo- 
reticians is the statement made by Benedikt Kautsky at 
the Congress of the Socialist Party of Austria in November 
1957 to the effect that Austrian Socialists reject dictator- 
ship in any form, and under any name, and will fight 
against it no matter who exercises it. Such declarations 
are spearheaded not against the dictatorship of the bour- 
geoisie but against the dictatorship of the proletariat. The 
practical experience of the class struggle has shown that 
wherever the Right-wing Socialists came to power they did 
not constitute any threat to the ruling bourgeoisie. Only 
the establishment of genuine rule of the working class can 
pave the road to socialism. 

5. Development of the Socialist State 
During Communist Construction 

The achievement of economic and political goals of the 
transitional period carries with it substantial changes in 
the activity of the socialist state, in its organisation, forms 
and functions. 

When socialism is victorious and the exploiting classes 
have been abolished, the dictatorship of the proletariat 
drops such a function as the utilisation of coercion against 
the deposed but still resisting exploiting classes. When a 
fundamental change occurs in the social nature of the 
peasants, when they cease to be a class of small private 
owners and turn into a class commonly owning the basic 
means of production, the material causes for any sort 
of wavering of the peasantry disappear and, consequently, 
the dictatorship of the proletariat no longer has to fulfil 
the task of preventing and eliminating this wavering. The 
socio-political and ideological unity of society raises the 
alliance of the working class and the peasantry and the 
leading role that is played in this alliance by the working 
class to a new and higher level. 



The socio-economic changes arising trom the completion 
of the building of socialism determine the further devel- 
opment of democracy. 

Under socialism such social gains as the right to work, 
to rest and to education become law. The growth of the 
material welfare and the tremendous rise in the cultural 
level of the mass of working people enable them to take a 
greater part in the affairs of state than in the period of 
transition from capitalism to socialism. 

All political inequality disappears as a result of the abol- 
ition of the exploiting classes and the radical change in 
the social nature of the peasantry and the intellectuals. 
The political regime of the epoch of socialism is one of 
all-round, consistent socialist democracy. 

As socialist construction is completed and socialist rela- 
tions of production are consolidated, and as the working 
class, the peasantry and the intelligentsia draw still closer 
together, the proletarian democracy developes into social- 
ist democracy for the whole people. 

Under these conditions the socialist state becomes the 
state of the whole people embodying the will of all the 
people—the working class, the peasantry and the intelli- 
gentsia. At the same time the working class, being the most 
progressive class of society, continues to play the leading 
role in it. Although it is no longer the instrument of the 
political domination of one class, the state as before pro- 
motes the policy and the programme of the working class 
—the building of communism. 

The elimination of the exploiting classes does not auto- 
matically lead to the disappearance of anti-social, para- 
sitical elements. They continue to exist for a relatively 
long time even after the victory of socialism, i.e., after the 
destruction of the social environment that engenders them. 
Thus, the function of protecting socialist property and 
public law and order, and also the personal property and 
the safety of citizens from thieves, bandits, hooligans and 
other anti-social elements, remains a feature of the social- 
ist state at this stage of development too. 

The state of the whole people continues the cause of the 
dictatorship of the proletariat—the building of commu- 
nism—and jointly with other socialist countries is waging a 
class struggle against world imperialism. In the sphere of 


foreign relations the socialist state of the whole people per- 
forms the same functions that had been characteristic of 
the state of the dictatorship of the proletariat. The ezler- 
nal functions of the socialist state include above all the 
defence of the country from foreign attack, the defence 
of socialist gains from the threat of imperialist aggression. 
The function of armed defence will remain a feature of any 
socialist state so long as imperialism exists, so long as an 
irreconcilable class struggle between socialism and capital- 
ism is waged on the international] scene. The development 
of this function wholly depends on the course of the strug- 
gle between the two opposing systems, the capitalist 
and the socialist, on the course of the revolutionary 
struggle in the capitalist countries and throughout the 

The struggle to strengthen world peace, to prevent 
expansionist wars has been one of the most important 
external functions of the Soviet state since its establish- 

Exercising the function of safeguarding peace, the Soviet 
socialist state strives to ensure peaceful] conditions for 
building communist society in the U.S.S.R., consolidate the 
positions of the world socialist system in its competition 
with capitalism, create favourable conditions for the strug- 
gle of the working class of the capitalist countries and to 
facilitate the struggle of the peoples against colonialism 
and neo-colonialism. 

The external function characterising the relations between 
socialist states is the function of economic, cultural and 
military-political mutual assistance. Its consistent discharge 
by socialist states ensures the complete victory of socialism 
within the framework of the entire socialist community 
and reliably guarantees every socialist country against 
attacks of world imperialist reaction. 

In the process of the gradual transition to communism 
the economic-organisational and cultural functions of the 
socialist state are intensively developed. In the economic 
sphere the main task is to create the material and technical 
basis of communism; in the cultural sphere it is to complete 
the cultural revolution, to create all the ideological and 
cultural prerequisites for the victory of communism. 

“Communist construction,” says the Programme of the 


< 2 ote 


— .— ah | 

C.P.S.U., “presupposes the maximum development of dem- 
ocratic principles of management coupled with a streng- 
thening and improvement of centralised economic manage- 
ment by the state. The economic independence and the 
rights of local organs and enterprises will continue to 
expand within the framework of the single national eco- 
nomic plan. Plans and recommendations made at lower 
levels, beginning with enterprises, must play an increas- 
ing role in planning.”! 

The economic-organisational and _ cultural-educational 
functions of the socialist state are destined to be passed 
on as a legacy to the communist society. Accordingly, the 
state apparatus of economic management and cultural 
administration is destined to develop into a highly organ- 
ised apparatus for guiding the economy and culture of 
communist society. Speaking of the prospects of develop- 
ment of the socialist state apparatus, Lenin indicated that 
“this apparatus of administration in the proper, strict, nar- 
row sense of the word, this apparatus of the old state, is 
doomed to die; while the apparatus of the type of the 
Supreme Economic Council is destined to grow, to develop 
and become strong, performing all the main activities of 
organised society”? 

The socialist economic system presupposes the principle 
of distribution according to work. When enforcing this 
principle and regulating distribution, the socialist society 
resorts to the law. The law, in its turn, requires the coer- 
cive sanctions of the state. The law is nothing without the 
state. The function of control over the measure of work 
and consumption is exceptionally important under social- 
ism and can wither away only when complete communism 
is built. “The state,’ Lenin wrote, “will be able to wither 
away completely when society adopts the rule: ‘From each 
according to his ability, to each according to his needs’, 
ie., when people have become so accustomed to observing 
the fundamental rules of social intercourse and when their 
labour has become so productive that they will voluntarily 
work according to their ability’? 

! The Road to Communism, p. 533. 
2 Lenin, Collected Works, Vol. 27, p. 408. 
3 Tbid., Vol. 25, p. 469. 


In his work, The State and Revolution, Lenin disclosed 
the general character of the process of the development 
and the withering away of the socialist state. He showed 
that the concept “socialism” and the concept ‘“‘the first 
or lower phase of communism” coincide; that with the 
building of socialism the state withers away only so long 
as there are no classes which have to be politically sup- 
pressed, in other words, when there are no classes over 
which the working class must exercise dictatorship; that 
communist statehood is the statehood of socialist society, 
the statehood of the first phase of communism. This state- 
hood withers away only with the building of complete 
communism, with the transition of society to the highest 
phase of communism.! The historical development of the 
Soviet state abundantly confirms Lenin’s ideas. It shows 
that although political suppression disappears with the 
elimination of antagonistic classes, it does not mean thal 
the socialist statehood and the internal and external 
functions of the state consistent with new conditions also 

From the Marxist-Leninist point of view, the final 
withering away of socialist statehood is equal to the withe- 
ring away, first, of any political coercion and of the organs 
enforcing this coercion and, second, of the special state 
apparatus for administering society. 

Lenin held that the withering away of socialist statehood 
was a gradual process which would take place as the 
economic foundations of developed communist society are 
created, social wealth is accumulated, and the cultural level 
and communist awareness of the masses are enhanced. 
Only profound changes in the economy can liquidate the 
survivals of the old forms of division of labour which bind 
a man to one occupation, and put an end to the situation 
when the management of social affairs is a special pro- 
fession. At the same time only deep changes in the econ- 
omy and prolonged moral education and self-education of 
the masses can turn concern for social affairs and the 
desire to play an active and voluntary part in them into 
an inseparable feature of the moral make-up of each 
member of society. 

1 See Lenin, Collected Works, Vol. 25, pp. 458-60, 464-67, 471. 

The withering away of the state depends on a range of 
objective factors, namely, economic development, the 
growth of the material welfare of society and communist 
awareness of its members, the overcoming of the essential 
distinction between town and country and between mental 
and physical labour, the eradication of the distinctions 
between the working class, the peasantry and the intelli- 
gentsia, and so forth. Apart from the above internal pro- 
cesses, the withering away of the state depends on ezternal 
conditions, too; it will become possible only when com- 
munist society is built and when it is victorious on a 
world-wide scale. 

The all-round flourishing of socialist democracy is an 
essential internal prerequisite both for the development of 
socialist statehood and for its subsequent transformation 
into communist public self-government. 

The development of socialist democracy in the U.S.S.R. 
takes place primarily through the strengthening of the 

The Soviets of Working People’s Deputies are the nation- 
wide state and mass organisation of the citizens of the 
Soviet Union. Because of their all-embracing character and 
their socio-political nature as organs of people’s self- 
government, they combine the features of state and mass 

The system of Soviet socialist democracy is not limited 
to the Soviets alone, but also includes, as we have already 
said, other mass organisations of working people. Conse- 
quently, it is impossible to imagine the formation of or- 
gans of communist self-government except as a process of 
all-round development not only of the Soviets of Working 
People’s Deputies but also of other organisations making 
up the system of Soviet socialist democracy, as a process 
of further extension of the powers of the Soviets and the 
enhancement of their role and that of mass organisations 
in general in the life of the state. 

Today the growing role of the Soviets of Working Peo- 
ple’s Deputies as a mass organisation signifies that the 
deputies are being drawn more and more not only into 
working out decisions on important problems concerning 
the activity of industrial enterprises and construction pro- 
jects, collective and state farms, cultural and service estab- 


lishments, but also into the work of organising the execu- 
tion of these decisions. For this purpose, alongside the 
improvement of the forms of popular representation and 
the strengthening of the democratic principles of the 
Soviet electoral system, the following measures are being 

First, an increasing number of questions which are now 
under the jurisdiction of various administrations and de- 
partments of the Executive Committees of the Soviets are 
being handed over to the jurisdiction of the standing 
commissions of the Soviets. An ever greater number of 
people from all strata of the population is drawn into the 
work of the standing commissions at all levels. 

Secondly, the democratic principle of electivity and ac- 
countability of officials to the representative organs and 
the electors is being extended to all leading personnel in 
the state administration. 

Third, people’s control is coming to play a greater role. 
The people’s control commissions functioning throughout 
the country fully rely on the constantly growing activity of 
the public. 

The leading place among the mass organisations is 
occupied by the Communist Party, the vanguard of the 
Soviet people. In 1967, the Communist Party of the Soviet 
Union had almost 12,800,000 members, or about 7 per 
cent of the country’s adult population. The growth of the 
C.P.S.U. membership and the improvement of its social 
composition by drawing into its ranks the most active and 
politically conscious representatives of the working class, 
the collective-farm peasantry and the intelligentsia, and the 
significant growth of the organisational experience of its 
leading workers enable the Party directly to influence all 
spheres of life of Soviet society and to consolidate the 
Party nucleus in all state organs and mass _ organisa- 

The advocates of anti-communism are endeavouring to 
discover a “discrepancy” between the propositions of the 
C.P.S.U. Programme on the development of socialist state- 
hood into communist public self-government and the in- 
crease of the Party’s role in the period of communist con- 
struction. The authors of the Introduction to the anti-com- 
munist collection, The Future of Communist Society, assert 



that it is a matter of “the take-over of some of the state 
functions by Communist Party organs”.! 

This assertion is completely false. The Communist Party 
of the Soviet Union has never been and will never be a 
state organisation. In guiding society the Party does not 
lean on state coercion but on its ideological strength and 
moral authority. 

State coercion will die with time. As a result of the final 
victory of socialism in the USSR, the sphere of coercion in 
the activity of the Soviet state has sharply narrowed. 
Obviously, a socialist society cannot do without state coer- 
cion while there is still crime, parasitism, and so forth. 
But coercion of this sort is applied only to an insignificant 
minority. The faster the rates of communist construction, 
the greater the communist awareness and conviction of 
the people, the lesser the cases of violation of the laws of 
socialist society and the broader the sphere of application 
of the methods of persuasion and education. 

The all-round development of socialist democracy is 
viewed in the Soviet Union as one of the most important 
social prerequisites for the transition to a classless and, 
in the long run, a stateless communist society. 

: 1 The Future of Communist Society, Introduction, New York, 1962, 

p. 7. 

Chapter VI 


In the contemporary epoch the question of war and 
peace is agitating the whole of mankind. Whether there 
will be war or not and whether it is possible to avert it— 
these are not just rhetorical questions, but the most urgent, 
burning problem of the day. 

The need for a determined struggle to safeguard peace 
and prevent a new world war imperatively calls for an 
understanding of the causes engendering wars and of the 
very nature of wars; it calls for a penetrating analysis of 
the correlation of the social forces fighting for peace and 
the forces bent on unleashing war. 

The practical questions of the activity and struggle of 
the Communist and Workers’ Parties for the triumph of 
the ideas of Marxism-Leninism, their struggle against anti- 
communism, militarism and fascism, for social progress 
and the rights of the working class, for the elimination of 
the vestiges of the disgraceful colonial system are closely 
connected and organically intertwined with the problem 
of war and peace. 

1. War Is the Continuation of the Policy 
of Social Classes 

The history of class society abounds in wars between 
different classes, nations and states, wars which imposed 
incalculable sacrifices, destruction and suffering on man- 
kind. The Swiss scientist Jean Jacques Babel with the help 


of electronic computors has calculated that in the past 
5,5U0 years 14,513 wars had raged on our planet taking a 
toll of more than 3,500 million lives. Though very approx- 
imate, these figures nonetheless give a definite idea of the 
scale of the spread of wars in class society. At all times, 
the brunt of the wars was borne by the working people. 
They fell in battles, died from epidemics and endured 
calamities and privations. In the wars society’s productive 
forces were mercilessly wrecked, crops were trampled 
underfoot and cultural values destroyed. No wonder that 
even in the distant past progressive thinkers courageously 
spoke out against wars unleashed by oppressors and de- 
manded the creation of a legal barrier to block them. 
Erasmus Desiderius, the great thinker and humanist of 
the Renaissance, wrote: “If war, contrary to all things, 
be the seed of all evils, a certain ocean sea of all natural 
things, wheresoever they be; if all flourishing things 
through the vice of this do putrefy, things increased do 
die, things underset {well established) do fall, things well 
and substentially builded do perish, and that are sweet wax 

The outstanding German Enlightener of the 18th cen- 
tury Johann Gottfried Herder gave the following vivid 
characterisation of wars: ‘““War, when it is not fought in 
self-defence, but is a deliberate attack on a peace-loving 
neighbouring people, is a vicious, most inhuman venture 
threatening destruction and annihilation not only to the 
attacked nation, but equally the nation that unleashes it. 
What can be more repulsive for the Supreme Being than 
the sight of two armies destroying one another without 
any reason? And the concomitants of war which are still 
more dreadful than war itself—diseases, hospitals, hunger, 
plague, rapine, violence, countries laid waste, families fal- 
ling apart, moral degradation for generations to come?”? 

Bitterly condemning war Juan Bautista Alberdi, a prom- 
inent Argentinian public functionary and pacifist of the 
19th century, wrote: “War means the right to commit 

1 The Complaint of Peace, by Erasmus Desiderius, New York, 
1946, p. 8. 

2 Johann Gottfried Herder, Briefe zur Beférderung der Humanitat, 
Leipzig, S. 82. 

13-360 193 

crimes; it is a terrible, blasphemous absurdity, a vicious 
mockery of civilisation.”! 

But even the most passionate and emotional criticism 
of war from the standpoint of abstract pacifism cannot 
explain the historical and socio-economic causes giving rise 
to wars in a particular epoch of economic development. 

The question of the nature of wars, their origin and es- 
sence, has long since been troubling the best minds in 
various historical epochs. But the pre-Marxist philoso- 
phers, sociologists, historians, politicians and military lead- 
ers, who studied this problem, as a rule went no further 
than investigating the extraneous superficial phenomena. 

In any epoch war is an extremely complex socio-his- 
torical phenomena whose cognition is inconceivable without 
an understanding of the motive forces of social progress 
in general. In the final count it was the idealist view of 
human society of the pre-Marxist philosophers, sociologists 
and historians that was responsible for their unscientific 
and often naive concept of the nature and essence of wars. 
Thomas Hobbes, a prominent 17th century English philos- 
opher and ideologist of the ascendant bourgeoisie, ex- 
plained the causes of wars in the following words: “In the 
nature of man, we find three principal causes of quarrel. 
First, competition; secondly, diffidence; thirdly, glory. 

“The first, maketh men invade for gain; the second, for 
safety; and the third, for reputation.”? 

The naivety of such an explanation is obvious. But what 
is more, Hobbes considered the state of bellum omnium 
contra omnes to be the natural state of the human race. 
Thus, he justified all the aggressive wars waged by the 
English bourgeoisie in the 17th and early 18th century in 
its bid for commercial and colonial domination. 

Capitalism which replaced feudalism did not abolish 
wars. On the contrary, it made them more destructive. War 
became a constant concomitant of the capitalist system. 
Unable to find effective ways of delivering mankind from 
wars, bourgeois ideologists called them uncognisable phe- 
nomena, in their essence, inherent in man’s nature from 

! Juan Bautista Alberdi, El crimen de la guerra, 1866. 
2 Thomas Hobbes, Leviathan or the Matter, Forme and Power of 
a Commonwealth Ecclesiastical and Civil, Oxford, 1871, p. 81. 


the beginning of time. Such a distinguished thinker as Im- 
manuel Kant, for example, who advanced a plan for 
“eternal peace” resting on mutual legal guarantees, was 
very far from understanding the real causes of war in hu- 
man society. ““The war,’ he wrote, “does not require spe- 
cial motives: it is obviously ingrained in human nature.”! 

Such explanations of the essence and the causes of war, 
were more or less typical of the majority of pre-Marxist 
thinkers. It was impossible to uncover the real causes of 
wars in human society from idealist positions. The failure 
to discover the real causes of wars and their socio-eco- 
nomic foundations, logically led many thinkers to the con- 
viction that the true causes and motives of wars were con- 
cealed in the very nature of man and that they were alleg- 
edly inevitable and unavoidable. This view fully accorded 
with the interests of the bourgeoisie since it enabled them 
to justify their unjust wars by referring to their “natural” 
imminent character. 

Franz Mehring, a prominent Marxist military theoreti- 
cian, wrote on this score: ‘‘The Moloch of war remained 
for them an invisible enemy; they knew nothing either 
about its origin, or about its essence, and therefore had to 
grope their way in utter darkness whenever they had to 
deal with the problem of eliminating it.”? 

Marxism-Leninism uncovered the true causes and _ nat- 
ure of wars and their historically transient character and 
indicated the conditions under which mankind will be able 
to get rid of them for all times. 

This was the logical result of Marxism’s cognition of the 
material basis of human being and objective laws of social 
development. On the basis of the dialectical-materialist 
understanding of social development Marx, Engels and 
Lenin showed that deep socio-economic prerequisites were 
at the bottom of all wars. They showed that any war was 
the result and the product of the real contradictions of a 
society divided into hostile antagonistic classes, an expres- 
sion and continuation of the policy of those classes. 

“War,” wrote Lenin, “is a continuation of policy by other 
means. All wars are inseparable from the political systems 

1 Immanuel Kant, Zum ewigen Frieden, Dusseldorf, 1946, S. 48. 

2 Franz Mehring, Krieg und Politik, Bd. I—Militdrpolitische und 
Militdrgeschichtliche Aufsdtze, Berlin, 1959. 

13° 195 

that engender them. The policy which a given stale, a 
given class within that state, pursued for a long time 
before the war is inevitably continued by that same class 
during the war, the form of action alone being changed.”! 

The proposition that war is a continuation of policy by 
other, forcible means was first expressed by Karl Clause- 
witz, a military theoretician of the early 19th century. It 
is perfectly correct in its general form. Signifying a step 
forward in the understanding of the essence of war, it 
nevertheless did not grasp the problem in its entirety. In 
Clausewitz’s conception war was a continuation of the pol- 
icy of monarchs, conquerors, generals and the state, alleg- 
edly expressing the interests of the whole of society. Clau- 
sewitz was unable to discern that definite classes with their 
class interests were standing behind these men, and that 
the state was a policy-making instrument of the ruling class. 
His bourgeois outlook prevented him from giving a com- 
pletely scientific and consistent explanation of the socio- 
historical] essence and conditionality of wars. Not so Marx- 
ism-Leninism. Lenin’s definition of war is a profound dia- 
lectical penetration into its very essence. ‘“We must be clear 
as to what historical conditions have given rise to the war, 
what classes are waging it and for what ends. Unless we 
grasp this, all our talk about the war will necessarily be 
utterly futile, engendering more heat than light.”? Once 
the essence of war has been disclosed, an answer can be 
given to the question of its origin. Since war is a contin- 
uation and expression of class policy, it is obvious that 
it owes its origin to the split of society into classes—the 
propertied and the have-nots, the oppressors and the op- 

War is therefore a specific phenomenon of a society split 
into hostile classes. 

In a classless society, under the primitive-communal 
system there were no antagonistic classes, no state and no 
standing armies. Of course, in the primitive-communal 
system there were also cases of violence and clashes be- 
tween different tribes and clans. But these clashes were not 
planned hostilities and flared up sporadically, from time 

{ Lenin, Collected Works, Vol. 24, p. 400. 
2 Tbid., p. 399. 


to time. {[t would be basically incorrect to identify an act 
of violence or a clash with war in the proper sense of the 
term. War as such is an armed fight between specially 
organised groups of people, a continuation of the policy 
of definite social classes. The division of society into hos- 
tile classes, the existence of the state and standing armies 
are the chief prerequisites of war as a socio-historical phe- 
nomenon. Slavery gave rise to wars of conquest, which 
were a continuation of the slave-owners’ policy. The chief 
aim of these wars was the capture of slaves and plunder. 
In a feudal society the seizure of land and serfs was the 
chief object of wars which were a direct continuation of 
the policy pursued by the feudal lords. Under capitalism 
wars are waged for the sake of enrichment of the capital- 
ists and the conquest, division and redivision of the spheres 
of influence and markets. The great German poet and think- 
er Goethe gave the following fitting definition of all these 
Krieg, Handel und Piraterie — 
Dreieinig sind sie, nicht zu trennen. 

But all systems of exploitation based on the domination 
of one class over another necessarily engendered wars of 
liberation of the oppressed against their oppressors, peo- 
ple’s wars against foreign invaders. By their very nature 
such wars are diametrically opposed to wars of aggression. 

The fact that war is a continuation of the policy of classes 
determines both its social and historical character. The 
existence of classes themselves is a historical phenomenon 
evolving from the creation of surplus product and the 
establishment of private property. There were no classes 
in primitive society, nor will there be any in communist 
society. The abolition of the society divided into antagon- 
istic classes and the gradual disappearance of every and 
all classes are the material basis for the elimination of wars 
as a social phenomenon. The social and national precon- 
ditions of wars will disappear together with the antagonis- 
tic classes, with the victory of socialism throughout the 
world. In other words, wars will disappear just as natur- 
ally as they had appeared. 

Marxism-Leninism disclosed the material and _ socio- 
economic basis and historical character of wars. This in 


its turn has made it possible to prove scientifically that given 
definite socio-historical prerequisites wars would be in- 
evitably excluded from the life of society. 

2. The Dependence 
of Wars on Socio-Economic Factors 

The definition of war as a continuation of policy by 
other, forcible means shows that the policy of classes, 
parties and states stems from economics or, as Lenin has 
put it, is “a concentrated expression of economics”. Hence 
war as a forcible means of settling political issues directly 
depends on economic factors, such as the level of develop- 
ment of the productive forces and the economic system or 
basis of a given society. 

Every phenomenon of social life, whether it occurs in 
the political or ideological sphere, in the final analysis is 
directly or indirectly determined by the material basis of 
the social being. This is fully true of wars. The methods 
of warfare and violence stemming from the character and 
level of development of military techniques and organisa- 
tion of armed forces depend directly on the economic set- 
up in a given epoch and country. Classics of Marxism al- 
ways stressed the decisive role played by the economic 
factor in the development of the armed forces and military 
art. “Nothing is more dependent on economic prerequisites 
than precisely army and navy,” wrote Engels. “Armament, 
composition, organisation, tactics and strategy depend above 
all on the stage reached at the time in production and on 
communications.” And added: “The whole organisation 
and method of warfare, and along with these victory or 
defeat, prove to be dependent on material, that is economic 

The type of armaments employed in war depends on 
the level of the productive forces of society. The history 
of wars and military art, as it were, mirrors the develop- 
ment of the productive forces. The low, primitive level of 
the productive forces of the slave-owning and feudal so- 
cieties determined the military armaments of the time. 

1 Frederick Engels, Anti-Dihring, pp. 230 and 236. 

The swift growth of the productive forces under capitalism, 
due to the introduction of steam and electricity and other 
types of power, led to a sharp improvement of military 
equipment and the development of new and the perfection 
of old firearms. Lastly, the discovery and utilisation of 
atomic power promoted unprecedented progress in military 
equipment and the development of weapons of mass an- 

Just as the development and perfection of armaments 
depends on the productive forces of society, the organisa- 
tion of the armed forces and the method of their employ- 
ment in combat (strategy, tactics) depend on the changes 
in armaments and the character of social system of a par- 
ticular country. Thus the linear tactics and linear forma- 
tions employed by Frederick II during the Seven-Year War 
(1756-63) fully reflected the level of the military equip- 
ment and the feudal relations prevailing in Prussia at the 
time. The Prussian army of mercenaries still used linear 
tactics even when progress in armaments due above 
all to the perfection of firearms led to frightful decima- 
tion of linear formations. 

The victory of the bourgeois revolution in France which 
destroyed feudal relations in the country and in the army 
led to the appearance of scattered formation which was 
in keeping with the requirements of warfare. This forma- 
tion coupled with massive column formations at the deci- 
sive sectors of military operations was one of the main 
reasons of Napoleon’s victories over the European feudal- 
monarchist armies. 

The big advance in the development of firearms, espe- 
cially artillery and machine guns in the First World War, 
led to the employment of positional warfare. Conversely, 
the massive use of tanks, aircraft and airborne troops in 
the Second World War accounted for its highly mobile, 
manoeuvring character. The development of nuclear 
weapons and_ intercontinental ballistic missiles in the 
contemporary epoch has fundamentally changed the 
structure and organisation of the armed forces and the 
manner of employing them. 

The level of the productive forces in a particular country 
is the material foundation of its military power, for 
without a highly developed heavy industry it is impossible 


to produce the necessary types of armaments. The exist- 
ence of such a basis was one of the most important con- 
ditions that enabled the Soviet Union to withstand the 
onslaught of the military machine of nazi Germany, which 
was the most powerful at the time. Today, on the basis 
of its highly developed heavy industry, the Soviet Union 
has created formidable weapons capable of crushing any 
aggressor in the event of war. 

Emphasising the influence of production and the means 
of communication on the means of warfare it should also 
be borne in mind that the productive forces naturally do 
not determine the social essence and the aims of war. The 
latter depend on the character of the socio-economic 
system, on the class nature of the states at war. 

In countries where society is made up of antagonistic 
classes, the armed forces, the armies, are the most impor- 
tant means with which the exploiting classes maintain 
their domination within the country and carry out mili- 
tary actions abroad. The specific role played by the armies 
in the system of these states, is determined by one of their 
major functions, that of waging war. 

Being a direct continuation of policy, war becomes a 
permanent function of the exploiting state in an anta- 
gonistic class society. This creates the need to maintain 
standing armies and unceasingly manufacture armaments. 
Thus, there is a sort of a vicious circle in a society founded 
on exploitation: the function (war) creates the organ 
(army and armaments) which in turn stimulates the func- 
tion since militarism and the militarists in such a society 
constitute one of the most reactionary and aggressive 

The modern history of some leading capitalist countries 
convincingly proves that this vicious circle does exist. 
Regarding war as the principal instrument of national po- 
licy, as a means of extending Lebensraum and plundering 
other nations, the Prussian-German militarism made the 
army into a force standing not only above the people but 
above all state organs. The criminal activity of Prussian- 
German militarism which incited and unleashed aggres- 
sive wars of conquest is universally known. 

In the contemporary epoch the United States of Amer- 
ica has become a classical country of militarism, and no 


amount of demagogical subterfuges of the U.S. propagan- 
da can conceal this fact. Even in peacetime it maintains 
an army of more than 3,000,000 men and _ stations _ its 
troops in many countries thousands of miles away from 
the U.S.A. 

It was reiterated at the 23rd Congress of the C.P.S.U. 
that today the U.S. imperialism is the centre of world 
reaction and the principal hotbed of war in the world. It 
is the main organiser of aggressive military blocs and all 
sorts of military gambles. Flagrantly violating internation- 
al law the U.S. imperialists are arrogantly interfering in 
the internal affairs of Latin American countries; they 
organise and finance reactionary military coups and mer- 
cilessly crush the revolutionary and national liberation 
movements. By helping reactionary Cuban emigres to 
launch direct military intervention, they tried to throttle 
the Cuban revolution and restore the rule of capitalists and 
landowners on the island. 

The U.S. imperialism is waging a criminal war in Viet- 
nam. Tens of thousands of U.S. soldiers are on the long- 
suffering Vietnamese soil to burn and plunder. U.S. air- 
craft are barbarously bombing towns and villages in the 
Democratic Republic of Vietnam, killing thousands of 
peaceful citizens, women, children and old folk. The crim- 
inal policy of escalating military operations against the 
Vietnamese people conducted by U.S. imperialists is preg- 
nant with terrible danger for the cause of world peace. 

Many sober-minded U.S. politicians are becoming in- 
creasingly aware of this danger. In this respect a very 
significant admission was made by Senator Wayne Morse 
of Oregon. Censuring the aggressive foreign policy of the 
Johnson Administration, he declared in Congress: “In my 
opinion, the military aid that we are furnishing to many 
countries in the world constitutes one of the greatest 
threats to world peace.”! An eloquent admission, indeed. 

In their book U.S.A. Today, Helen and Scott Nearing, 
progressive U.S. publicists, present a vivid picture of mi- 
litarisation in the U.S.A. They write: “Pro-war forces in 
the United States are massive and formidable... they 
have behind them...the vast institutional apparatus of 

1 Congressional Record-Senate, May 27, 1966, p. 11163. 

the armed forces.... The major channels of communica- 
tion are in the hands of the war makers and_ their 
backers.”! And add: “It is a frightening picture: the 
wealthy U.S.A., armed to the teeth, with its entourage of 
satellites and mercenaries, dedicated to the preservation 
and extension of the property and class forces inherent in 
private enterprise for profit.”? 

Inflated military budgets, the continuous arms race even 
in peacetime, the militarisation of the entire state struc- 
ture of the capitalist countries, reflect the deep crisis and 
decay of imperialism. 

The conclusion can be drawn that the character of wars 
depends on the character of the social system, on the class 
essence of states, on the policy of those classes which 
define the aims of war. 

3. Marxist-Leninist Classification of Wars 

A scientific understanding of the essence and origin of 
wars and their dependence on the material basis of social 
being, and on the class structure of society makes it pos- 
sible scientifically to classify wars according to their aims 
and character. Depending on the political and economic 
aims of a given class or state, wars can be just or unjust, 
progressive or reactionary. 

Not infrequently classification of wars is based on 
various factors which make it impossible to define their 
social content, as for example, factors of a strategic-mili- 
tary or religious-ethical nature. But whatever the role of the 
strategic-military factors they do not allow to ascertain 
the main thing—the social content and character of wars, 
that underlies their division into just and unjust wars. 

As for the religious-ethical considerations, they them- 
selves flow from more profound causes, namely, from the 
economic and social system of society. History records 
many predatory wars and campaigns which were waged 
under the flag of various religious ideas and a subjectivist 

1 Helen and Scott Nearing, U.S.A. Today, Harborside, Maine, 1955, 
p. 200. 
2 Ibid., p. 234. 


class interpretation of “law”. Suffice it to recall the noto- 
rious crusades whose genuine purpose was the plunder 
of the Orient with the blessing of the Church. Or take the 
devastating Thirty Years’ War in Germany in 1618-48, in 
which the religious rivalry between the Catholics and the 
Protestants was used to screen the war that was waged 
for economic and political domination over Germany. 

The Marxist-Leninist approach to the classification of 
wars rests on a scientific criterion and flows directly from 
its general understanding of the role played by coercion 
in the life of society. 

It would be appropriate to point out that Marxism- 
Leninism by no means denies the role played by force in 
social development. The use of force at definite stages in 
history is essential when it is used to overthrow the rule 
of reactionary classes and abolish their institutions, set 
up the power of progressive classes, establish a new 
revolutionary order and defend the national and state inde- 
pendence of peoples. In such cases coercion acts as an 
important factor of historical development. But Marxism- 
Leninism has never considered force to be a permanent 
category and never justified its use in all cases. It main- 
tains that force is used by some social groups against other 
social groups only in societies divided into antagonistic 
classes. Class antagonism gives rise to national antago- 
nism while taken together these antagonisms lead to the 
employment of force in the form of various military meas- 
ures and conflicts. The disappearance of class antagon- 
isms does away with the need to use force as a means of 
achieving economic and political aims. “In proportion as 
the antagonism between classes within the nation va- 
nishes,” wrote Marx and Engels, “the hostility of one nation 
to another will come to an end.”! The ideal of socialism 
is the elimination of force and violence in the relations 
between men. Lenin wrote: “Socialism is opposed to vio- 
lence against nations. That is indisputable. But socialism 
is opposed to violence against men in general.’”2 

Marxism-Leninism puts the class principle at the basis 
of its scientific classification of wars. The character of a 

1 Marx and Engels, Selected Works, Vol. {, p. 51. 
2 Lenin, Collected Works, Vol. 28, p. 285. 


war is determined by the economic and _ political aims 
which a particular class strives to achieve by force of 
arms, by war. 

Lenin pointed out in this connection that there are just 
and unjust wars, progressive and reactionary wars, wars 
waged by advanced classes and those waged by backward 
classes, wars aimed at bolstering class oppression and 
wars aimed at overthrowing it. 

Just, progressive wars include social revolutions in the 
form of armed insurrections, civil wars of oppressed classes 
against their oppressors, wars waged by peoples for 
national liberation from the foreign imperialist yoke and 
wars in defence of the socialist motherland and of all 
socialist countries. These wars, despite the sacrifices and 
destruction which they inevitably bring in their wake, are 
expression of historical progress and become inevitable 
and necessary at definite stages of historical development. 

Lenin wrote: “There have been in the past numerous 
wars which, despite all the horrors, atrocities, distress and 
suffering that inevitably accompany all wars, were pro- 
gressive, ie., benefited the development of mankind by 
helping se destroy most harmful and reactionary institu- 
tions... .” 

Within one and the same _ socio-economic formation, 
when the same class is in power in different countries, 
wars between countries which have a similar class struc- 
ture may be either just or unjust depending on whether 
the country concerned is defending its national freedom 
and independence or whether it is waging an aggressive 
war of conquest. 

When Hitler Germany in the Second World War by the 
“right of strength” occupied and subjugated the small 
neutral Denmark, Norway, Belgium, the Netherlands, 
Luxemburg, Greece, Yugoslavia and other countries, the 
struggle of these countries against the aggressor was just, 
though their social-economic basis was similar to that of 

It is basically important to make a concrete analysis 
of any war taking into account all its causes, its charac- 
ter and consequences. Marxism-Leninism bases its apprais- 

1 Lenin, Collected Works, Vol. 21, p. 299. 


al of wars of any epoch on an analysis of the sum total 
of the social, economic and political factors of which a 
given war is an expression. In this connection Lenin indi- 
cated that it was necessary to analyse wars dialectically, 
in their entire contradictoriness and changeability stem- 
ming from the changes in the aims of the policy which 
they express and continue. In certain conditions just wars 
may become unjust and vice versa. 

Lenin wrote: “That all dividing lines, both in nature 
and society, are conventional and dynamic, and that every 
phenomenon might, under certain conditions, be trans- 
formed into its opposite, is, of course, a basic proposition 
of Marxist dialectics. A national war might be transformed 
into an imperialist war and vice versa. Here is an exam- 
ple: the wars of the Great French Revolution began as na- 
tional wars and indeed were such. They were revolution- 
ary wars—the defence of the great revolution against a 
coalition of counter-revolutionary monarchies. But when 
Napoleon founded the French Empire and subjugated a 
number of big, viable and long-established national Euro- 
pean states, these national wars of the French became 
imperialist wars and in turn led to wars of national libera- 
tion against Napoleonic imperialism.”! 

There have been cases in history when unjust, predatory 
wars turned into their opposite and became wars for the 
triumph of the revolution and for national liberation. This 
took place following a fundamental revolutionary remak- 
ing of the entire socio-economic and political system of the 
country at war. 

Tsarist Russia, in alliance with other big capitalist coun- 
tries, waged an unjust war of conquest for the division of 
the spheres of influence and repartitioning of the already 
partitioned world. The Great October Socialist Revolution 
of 1917 overthrew the power of the capitalists and land- 
owners and established the revolutionary dictatorship of 
the proletariat. The Decree on just, democratic peace 
without annexations and indemnities was the first decree 
adopted by the Soviet Government. But the imperialist 
powers, including Russia’s former allies, would not grant 
peace to the young Soviet Republic. The foreign imperial- 

1 Ibid., Vol. 22, p. 309. 

ists instigated the Civil War and the military intervention 
against the world’s first state of workers and peasants. The 
war of Soviet Russia against the internal and foreign re- 
storers of capitalism became a just, defensive war to safe- 
guard the political gains of the revolution and national in- 

During the Second World War the peoples of Rumania, 
Hungary and Bulgaria were involved by the ruling cliques 
of traitors into the unjust and predatory war against the 
Soviet Union on the side of Hitler Germany. The serious 
defeats of the fascist coalition and the transfer of hostili- 
ties to the territory of Germany’s allies enabled the revolu- 
tionary democratic forces to come to power in these coun- 
tries. Acting in conformity with the will of their peoples, 
these forces broke off with Hitler Germany, declared war 
on it and formed an alliance with the anti-Hitler coalition. 

This also shows that the character of a war directly 
depends on the political aims of the ruling social forces and 
that its nature undergoes dialectical changes, as it is waged. 

In the contemporary epoch the most typical and wide- 
spread just wars are the wars of the oppressed peoples for 
the overthrow of foreign imperialist domination, the wars 
for national liberation. The wars of the peoples of Egypt, 
Syria, Algeria and other African and Asian countries against 
foreign imperialists were just wars for the fundamental 
rights of these peoples. 

A just war arouses enthusiasm and the will to achieve 
victory over the enemy among the people and in the 
army. The most powerful military and industrial potential 
cannot be utilised to the full unless this moral factor oper- 
ates, unless there is an irresistible will to win. And con- 
versely, the revolutionary enthusiasm of the people and 
their belief in the justness of their cause can to an extent 
make up for the shortage of the material means of war- 
fare (armaments, ammunition, foodstuffs, equipment, etc.) 
The civil wars in America and France in the 18th century. 
the Civil War in Russia in 1917-22 and the heroic fight 
of the oppressed peoples against imperialists for freedom 
brilliantly confirm the importance of the moral factor in 
achieving victory over the enemy. 

In the modern epoch there may be also just wars of 
the peoples of the socialist countries against imperialist 


aggression and attempts to restore the capitalist system. 
The most striking example of such a war was the Soviet 
Union’s war against nazism. 

But it was not only a just war for the freedom and 
independence of the Soviet peoples who were confronted 
with the threat of enslavement by nazi Germany. It was the 
war against the most reactionary imperialist power which 
had set out to conquer and exterminate whole nations and 
peoples. By winning this war, the Soviet people safeguarded 
the foundations of world socialism and together with other 
peoples saved civilisation from nazi vandalism. 

Other brilliant examples of a just war of a socialist state 
for the preservation of the social gains and national free- 
dom was the heroic fight of the Cuban people against the 
U.S. sponsored aggression which ended in the shameful 
defeat of the interventionists at Playa Jiron, and in recent 
years the self-sacrificing decisive struggle of the coura- 
geous Vietnamese people also against the aggression of 
the U.S. imperialism. 

Marxism-Leninism does not at all conceal the fact that 
the sympathies of Communists are always with those who 
are fighting for freedom and independence against social 
and national oppression. The proletariat and its revolu- 
tionary parties fully understand the fight of the peoples 
against oppressors and aggressors because the proletarian 
morality contains elements of the universal morality ac- 
quired by the working people in the course of centuries 
of struggle against oppressors and exploiters. The Marx- 
ist-Leninist criterion in classifying wars into just and un- 
just not only takes into account the interests and morality 
of the proletariat, but also those of all working people 
fighting against social and national oppression. 

Such in brief are the general features of just wars. The 
very fact of the existence of just wars in history presup- 
poses the existence of their antipode—unjust wars. 

If one side perpetrates aggression, then the other fights 
for its freedom and independence. Formally, each side 
pursues the same aim—to achieve victory, but the victory 
of one side signifies the defeat of the other side. In this 
case a war that is just for one side is unjust for the other 
and vice versa. Of course there may also be cases when 
a war is unjust for both sides. A typical example of this 


is the First World War, in which all participants pursued 
predatory, anti-popular aims. Wars of this type were also 
waged in the slave-owning epoch and in the Middle Ages 
(wars between slave-owners, dynastic wars). 

Unjust wars include those whose aim is the seizure of 
foreign territories and the plunder and subjugation of 
other countries, wars of the exploiting classes against a 
revolutionary people and _ counter-revolutionary wars 
against countries where the revolution of the progressive 
class has triumphed. 

The most destructive of all unjust wars are imperialist 
wars, which are waged in the interests of monopoly capi- 
tal for markets, sources of raw material, the division and 
redivision of the world. The epoch of imperialism is one 
of unprecedentedly ruthless world imperialist wars which 
involve the majority of the world’s populations, take a 
toll of tens of millions of killed and maimed and ruthless- 
ly destroy the productive forces. If we take into account 
the indirect losses through starvation and diseases, over 
100,000,000 people, the most active section of the popula- 
tion, perished in the two world wars which raged during 
the lifetime of one generation. 

From the standpoint of the number of people involved 
in hostilities and the nature of the weapons used it can 
be said that there are world and local wars, wars in which 
conventional weapons or weapons of mass destruction are 
used. In the post-war period the aggressive imperialist 
circles repeatedly unleashed and are unleashing local wars 
to maintain and strengthen their economic and _ political 
positions and check the objective historical process of the 
disintegration of the colonial system. The biggest of these 
wars were the war in Korea in 1950-53 instigated by the 
U.S. imperialists, the war in Egypt (1956) unleashed by 
the Anglo-French imperialists, the wars in Malaya, Indo- 
nesia, Algeria and other countries. Local wars more often 
than not hold the potential danger of overgrowing into 
a world war involving all or the overwhelming majority 
of the countries of the world. The Second World War was 
also preceded by a series of local wars and forcible an- 
nexations by the “Axis” powers. 

The danger of local wars developing into world wars 
is made real by the complex and varied interlocking of 


the economic and political interests of the Great Powers 
in any part of the globe. This danger is especially great 
today when there are two opposing socio-economic sys- 
tems in the world. If a conflict breaks out between them, 
it is bound to assume a global character with the employ- 
ment of all weapons of mass annihilation. But it would 
be wrong to deduce from this that Marxism-Leninism 
denounces all local wars. Any such war is just for the 
nation fighting for its freedom and independence and un- 
just for the nation striving to preserve its domination or 
impose it on other nations. 

All the local wars of the post-war period were fought 
between imperialist countries and countries struggling for 
their national freedom. In principle, however, such wars 
may also occur between individual imperialist countries. 
This possibility is offset today by the desire of the im- 
perialists to consolidate all their forces against the nation- 
al liberation movement. Most of the imperialist countries 
have become members of various aggressive blocs set up 
under the aegis of U.S. imperialism. But even so the con- 
tradictions between their imperialist members frequently 
become extremely sharp. 

Today imperialist countries possessing nuclear weapons 
are constantly tempted to use them against countries fight- 
ing for their national independence. The principal factor 
deterring them is the world socialist system which is 
backed by the nuclear might of the Soviet Union. It is hard- 
ly necessary to prove that an attempt to use nuclear weap- 
ons in any local war will have the most disastrous 
consequences for the whole world, because in the present- 
day conditions it would lead directly to a global thermo- 
nuclear war. This explains why all the peace-loving forces 
of the world led by the Communist and Workers’ Parties 
are resolutely fighting against the most extremist imperial- 
ist circles striving to use nuclear weapons in local wars. 

4. Criticism of Contemporary Militarism 

The contemporary epoch is characterised by a profound- 
ly specific nature of social development. The main con- 
tent of our epoch is the world-historical process of the 

14-360 209 

transition of human society from capitalism to socialism. 
The young system of world socialism, which is rapidly 
developing and gaining in strength, exists side by side with 
the system of world imperialism which still retains strong 
economic and political positions although it is on its way 
out. These two systems, developing in accordance with 
diametrically opposite laws, are confronting each other in 
the world today. 

Prompted by their hatred for socialism and concern 
over the future of world capitalism, the imperialist coun- 
tries are uniting in aggressive military blocs spearheaded 
against the socialist countries. But apart from their chief 
aim, that of preparing and starting a war against social- 
ist countries, these blocs are an attempt to iron out or 
reconcile the intense contradictions between the imperial- 
ist powers themselves at least for the time being. Due to 
its overwhelming economic and military preponderance 
U.S. imperialism is turning these blocs into instruments 
for achieving its economic and political domination and 
strives to mobilise the resources of their member coun- 
tries in preparation of an aggressive war against the world 
socialist system. 

In the contemporary epoch a world war, by its class 
essence, would be a war of the aggressive imperialist 
powers led by the U.S.A. against the Soviet Union and 
other socialist countries. 

The unprecedented development of armaments, the 
weapons of mass annihilation at the disposal of the two 
camps—atomic and hydrogen bombs, the latest means of 
chemical warfare, intercontinental jet bombers and rockets 
—turn the danger of a new world war by the imperialist 
countries with the U.S. at their head into a constant factor 
of international tension. 

Many imperialist ideologists, who are at the beck and 
call of the monopolies, are striving to convince the peoples 
that a new world war and with it the end of civilisation 
is inevitable, that a new world catastrophe is imminent. 
Creating an atmosphere of pessimism and despondency, 
they are undermining the faith of the peoples in progress 
and turning them into obedient tools for furthering their 
adventuristic designs. It is the ideology of militarism which 
directly seeks to justify and substantiate the inevitability 


of a world war and the arms race for the sake of the 
enrichment of the monopolies. 

Being one of the most loathsome products of monopoly 
capitalism modern militarism organically unites the ap- 
paratus of violence and man-hating ideology and strives 
to justify and vindicate the inevitability and legitimacy of 
expansionist wars. It is in general characteristic of mili- 
tarist ideology to laud wars as the natural condition of 
society in which peace is a breathing spell and a period 
of preparation for new wars. War is proclaimed a na- 
tural, eternal and inevitable condition and law governing 
relations between nations, races and states. This view was 
cynically expressed in their time by such reactionary 
precursors of modern imperialist ideology as Nietzsche and 
Spengler. ““You must love peace,” Nietzsche preached, “as 
a means for a new war. And a brief peace, more than a 
durable one.... You say that a good cause sanctifies even 
war? I tell you that a good war sanctifies any cause.”! 
Spengler held that war was the eternal condition of men 
and that states existed only to fight one another. 

Nietzsche’s and Spengler’s views of the nature of war 
formed the bedrock of the criminal ideology of the Prus- 
sian and German militarism and nazism. The latter re- 
garded aggressive wars as a sort of national craft and tried 
to prove that they were necessary and inevitable. “Eternal 
peace.” wrote Moltke, one of the recognised apostles of 
Prussian-German militarism, “is a dream and none too 
beautiful at that. War is an essential element in the order 
of the world.’”2 

Present-day militarism with its criminal ideology of 
violence, plunder and destruction constitutes a_ terrible 
danger for mankind. Whatever its national form—Ameri- 
can, British, West German, etc.,—it expresses the interests 
and political aims of the most reactionary monopoly 

An essential specific feature of the modern militarist 
theories is that they preach the necessity and inevitability 

' Friedrich Nietzsche, “Also sprach Zarathustra”, Nietzsche's 
Werke, 1. Abt., Bd. VI, Leipzig, 1904, S. 67. 

2 Moltkes Kriegslehren. Die operativen Vorbereitungen zur Schlacht, 
Berlin, 1911, S. 1. 

14° 2/1 

not only of wars in general, but mainly of a military con- 
flict between the two world systems—capitalism and so- 
cialism. Moreover these theories are openly anti-commu- 
nist in character. 

The main argument produced to prove that a new world 
war is inevitable is the thesis that peaceful coexistence 
between the two systems is impossible. Imperialism’s ideo- 
logical stock in trade is marshalled up to substantiate this 
thesis. This logic of rejecting peaceful coexistence neces- 
sarily leads to the recognition that world conflict is in- 
evitable between the imperialist camp and the countries of 
the socialist community. The criminal idea of a preventive 
war, now widely current among militarist circles in the 
West, is the direct outcome of this. 

To prove the impossibility of peaceful coexistence the 
ideologists of imperialism flagrantly distort the true aims 
and principles of the ideology and policy of socialist coun- 

The principal “argument” advanced by bourgeois ideol- 
ogists against the possibility of peaceful coexistence of the 
two systems is the widespread thesis about the “incompat- 
ibility” of the principle of peaceful coexistence with rec- 
ognition of the necessity of socialist revolution. 

This thesis distorts the theory of socialist revolution 
which holds that war is neither a precondition nor a cause 
of revolution. Socialist revolution matures as a_ result 
of the aggravation of class contradictions, which leads to 
a revolutionary situation in a given country. Therefore 
Marxism-Leninism decisively opposes all attempts to “push 
on” socialist revolution from without by unleashing war. 
Such attempts can only harm the world revolutionary pro- 
cess; they do not accelerate its development, but, on the 
contrary, retard mankind’s transition to socialism. Oppos- 
ing the export of revolution the Communists at the same 
time fight against all attempts to export counter-revolu- 
tion. This is clearly and unambiguously stated in the res- 
olutions of the 1957 and 1960 Moscow Meetings of fra- 
ternal Communist and Workers’ Parties. 

Owing to its very nature, socialism as a social system 
requires neither wars nor the seizure of foreign territo- 
ries, nor the enslavement of other people for its develop- 
ment. In this and other respects it is the direct antipode 


of the bourgeois system. That this is so may be seen from 
the entire history of the Soviet Union. “We represent,” 
Lenin wrote, “the peace interests of the majority of the 
world’s population against the imperialist warmongers.”! 

In present-day conditions rejection of the possibility of 
peaceful coexistence of the two systems is tantamount to 
recognition that a new world war is inevitable. It is not 
accidental therefore that those who want such a war view 
the rejection of peaceful coexistence as the main factor 
making a world conflict inevitable, from which they de- 
rive the idea of a “preventive war’, now one of the basic 
elements of the official military doctrine of the imperialist 
NATO countries. 

The most reactionary and aggressive imperialist circles 
hope that preventive war will enable them to crush the 
socialist states, destroy the world socialist system and thus 
reverse the course of history. Today a preventive war 
means a sudden attack against the socialist countries on 
the pretext of preventing them from attacking first. This 
is the meaning imparted to the concept of “preventive 
war’, for example, by Coudenhove-Kalergi, one of the 
leading cosmopolitan ideologists of modern capitalism and 
a proponent of abstract pacifism. “Preventive war,” he 
writes, “is defence against imminent attack. It is also a 
defensive war in the shape of offensive war.’ 

There are many cases in history when the aggressor in 
making war on his victim called his criminal actions 
“preventive”. Hitler acted in exactly the same way when 
he perfidiously and suddenly attacked the Soviet Union. 
A sudden and perfidious attack are the chief attributes of 
a preventive war. In the past such action was a crude 
violation of the elementary standards of international law 
and morality, whereas today, in the epoch of thermo- 
nuclear weapons, the very idea of “preventive war” is a 
heinous crime against peace and humanity. 

Militarist circles in the imperialist countries persistently 
propagandise the thesis that the West will survive in a 
future world war, which they consider inevitable, only if 

{ Lenin, Collected Works, Vol. 30, p. 323. 
2 Richard Coudenhove-Kalergi, Vom Ewigen Krieg zum Grossen 
Frieden, Géttingen, 1956, S. 71. 


it attacks first, unleashing the entire might of its nuclear 
potential against the socialist countries. An American 
military ideologist Dale Smith unambiguously champions 
a preventive war in his book U.S. Military Doctrine: 
“When the very lives of nations are at stake in absolute 
war, that nation first able to apply the most destructive 
power to the heart of its enemy will be the nation to 

West German militarism is especially keen on the idea 
of “preventive war” against the Soviet Union and other 
socialist countries. The West German journal Wehrwis- 
senschaftliche Rundschau carried an article entitled “Some 
Thoughts About a Total Nuclear War’. Its author. [hno 
Krumpelt, a former Wehrmacht officer and now a retired 
colonel and a military theoretician of sorts, wrote that he 
who first delivers a sudden and massive thermonuclear 
blow will have decisive advantage over he who hesitates 
to use nuclear weapons on a massive scale. 

The idea of “preventive war” is essentially untenable 
and fallacious today. It is, above all, a specific way of 
recognising and expressing the profound crisis of the pol- 
icy and ideology of imperialism. Indeed, only the leaders 
of a bankrupt socio-economic system, which is unable to 
stand up to an advanced system in their historical com- 
petition, can so candidly preach the criminal idea of 
“preventive war” on the pretext of an alleged threat of 
an attack on the capitalist countries. This idea does not 
hold water in yet another respect. In the present-day con- 
ditions its realisation is more than doubtful. The poten- 
tial aggressor who banks on “preventive war’ against the 
socialist countries will come up against a force that is not 
only equal to that of the aggressor, but which considerably 
exceeds it in a number of decisive spheres of modern 
military techniques, particularly in rocketry. 

Moreover the geographical and strategic position of the 
socialist community ensures a high degree of deconcentra- 
tion of manpower and industry making it impossible for 
the aggressor to achieve victory even if he launches a sud- 
den attack. It should also be borne in mind that in modern 
conditions, the early warning and the highly efficient radar 

1 Dale O. Smith, U.S, Military Doctrine, N.Y., 1955, p. 142. 

systems make the possibility of a sudden attack more than 
just problematical. 

“Preventive war” is a most reactionary and dangerous 
idea of modern militarism. It is not only the logical result 
of the rejection of the peaceful coexistence of the two 
systems, it embodies the vain attempt of the imperialists 
to reverse the course of history and to stop or hamper 
historical progress. 

Apart from attempting to prove that another world war 
is inevitable by denying the possibility of the two systems 
peacefully coexisting and preaching ‘preventive war’, 
modern imperialist ideologists insistently spread the thesis 
that the causes of wars are rooted in the nature of man, 
which makes these wars inevitable and inescapable. The 
very nature of man is treated without consideration for 
the developing and changing social relations which direct- 
ly shape it. 

John Fuller, a British military ideologist, also attributes 
the inevitability of wars to the vices of human nature. He 
also asserts that the causes of wars are rooted not in the 
social system, but in the psyche. 

“It is in the envies, greeds and fears of men,” he writes, 
“that the roots of war are to be found.... The Law of 
Retribution will continue to govern the actions of men.”! 

Fuller views the whole of human history through the 
prism of the bourgeois reality which breeds such psychic 
phenomena as “envy, greed and fear”. He does not under- 
stand that they are the product of a definite social system 
whose laws no longer govern the destiny of the whole of 

Disregard for man’s social nature and the laws of social 
development provides the modern oracles of the “end of 
the world” with food for making the most pessimistic 
prognostications concerning the destinies of man. Especial- 
ly typical in this respect is Kurt Fervers’s book Vernicht- 
ungskrieg published in the Federal Republic of Germany. 
Proclaiming that war is an inalienable attribute of human 
nature and a general law of social being, Fervers categor- 
ically rejects any possibility of preserving peace and 

! J.F.C. Fuller, The Second World War 1939-45, London, 1948, 
p. #12. 


considers that it will not be long before mankind inevita- 
bly perishes. “Atom bombs, missiles, bombers, heavy 
tanks and submarines,” he writes, “are all considered to 
be the achievements of the 20th century.... But the war 
which they serve is timeless.... For it evidently lies at the 
root of human nature and human character.’’?! 

After making this peremptory statement regarding the 
nature of war, he draws from it a no less peremptory 
conclusion: “These weapons which man has created for 
himself will destroy life as such, and not only the life of 
an individual or a group, but life on earth in general.”? 
He concludes his truly apocalyptic work in the same bom- 
bastic style. “An invisible cloud of destruction is already 
threatening from the sky!” he writes. “Do you hear the 
ticking of the Geiger counter?!’3 

Fervers’s book presents a striking illustration of the 
terrible conclusions which recognition of war as an in- 
alienable element of human nature can breed. But his views 
are neither fresh nor original. He is merely one of many 
contemporary reactionary ideologists who identify the 
imminent doom of capitalism with the destruction of the 
whole of mankind. Suffice it to recall similar prophecies 
in Spengler’s Der Untergang des Abendlandes written at 
the beginning of the 20th century. 

In his malicious anti-communist book Aufstand des 
Abendlandes, Bernhard Martell, a reactionary West Ger- 
man ideologist and Spengler’s follower, once again (for 
the umpteenth time) sentences civilisation to death. “Total 
atomic war.... The U.S.A. and the U.S.S.R. will destroy 
all human and animal life on our planet which has shrunk 
in size.’4 

The thesis of bourgeois ideologists that war stems from 
the nature of man is untenable, for it treats the essence 
of man unscientifically. They view the essence of man as 
a mystical irrational substance or a purely biological cat- 
egory, essentially identical with the sum total of the in- 
stincts of any animal organism. The anthropological in- 

1 Kurt Fervers, Vernichtungskrieg, Frankfurt am Main, 1956, S. 11. 

2 Ibid., p. 273. 

3 Ibid., p. 297. 

4 Bernhard Martell, Aufstand des Abendiandes, Schweinfurt, 1961, 
S. 325. 



terpretation of war in human society therefore differs 
little from the biological interpretation of all social phenom- 
ena in general, including wars. 

Even today many bourgeois ideologists explain war from 
the position of social-Darwinism, inconclusively declaring 
it to be a “biological law” or a manifestation in human 
society of ‘“‘the general law of the struggle for existence”. 
Thus Ferdinand Miksche, a prominent bourgeois military 
ideologist and spokesman of the official NATO doctrine, 
declares: “War has always been a phenomenon so closely 
bound up with human life that it would almost appear to 
be a necessity and a biological law.”! 

The classics of Marxism-Leninism have convincingly 
proved utter untenability of such an approach to social 
phenomena in general and to such a complex social-histor- 
ical phenomenon as war, in particular. The inability of 
many modern ideologists to understand the true essence 
of wars is the direct outcome of their failure to understand 
the essence of man as a social and not a biological catego- 
ry, as the sum total of social relations. 

“The whole Darwinist teaching of the struggle for exist- 
ence is simply a transference from society to living nature 
of Hobbes’s doctrine of bellum omnium contra omnes and 
of the bourgeois-economic doctrine of competition together 
with Malthus’s theory of population. When this conjurer’s 
trick has been performed (and I question its absolute per- 
missibility ... particularly as far as the Malthusian theory 
is concerned), the same theories are transferred back 
again from organic nature into history and it is now 
claimed that their validity as eternal laws of human society 
has been proved. The puerility of this procedure is so 
obvious that not a word need be said about it.”? 

All doctrines, views and theories of militarism are 
reactionary and dangerous because they are aimed at justi- 
fying and proving the inevitability of a new, thermonu- 
clear world war. 

But it would be wrong to think that the ideologists of 
imperialism are always fully outspoken when it concerns 

1 Ferdinand O. Miksche, Atomic Weapons and Armies, London, 
1955, p. 214. 
2 Marx and Engels, Selected Correspondence, p. 302. 


the inevitability of a new world war. Sometimes they try 
to cover up their inhuman views with the words about 
peace and humanity. Hence the popularity among many 
ideologists of the theory of preserving peace through 
“the balance of nuclear power’. It claims that the best 
way of maintaining peace is through the constant threat 
of mutual nuclear annihilation. Among the prominent 
advocates of this conception are the American military 
ideologists Henry Kissinger and the West German milit- 
ary ideologist Lothar Rendulic. Kissinger describes the 
contemporary relations between West and East as a 
“nuclear impasse” and Rendulic as ‘military stalemate’’. 
They maintain that this is the most favourable state for 
the preservation of peace. They categorically reject the 
very idea of universal disarmament as a means of avert- 
ing a world thermonuclear catastrophe. Yet, common sense 
tells us that peace based on the threat of employment 
of nuclear weapons is an exhaustive war of nerves, a cold 
war that is constantly liable to turn into a hot war. 

Unlike the reactionary aggressive ideology of imperial- 
ism, Marxism-Leninism, the life-asserting ideology and 
theory of the working class, is convinced in the triumph 
of peace and progress. This conviction is based on the 
scientific analysis of social development in the modern 

The main and decisive thing in appraising the prospects 
of war and peace is the fact that imperialism has irretriev- 
ably lost its dominant position in the world and can no 
longer decide the fates of states and nations at will. 

Owing to the prerequisites and conditions that have 
taken shape in the world today it is quite possible to pre- 
vent another world war, to frustrate the imperialists’ 
designs for unleashing aggressive world wars. 

The general correlation of forces of socialism and 
capitalism in the world has changed. In the not too distant 
past there was only one socialist state on the globe but 
today there exists a world socialist system which is a 
mighty material and moral force capable of bridling the 
imperialist aggressors. In this respect the Soviet Union 
with its nuclear-rocket potential plays the leading role in 
this system. The anti-monopoly struggle of the werking 
class is incessantly mounting, and the workers of all coun- 


tries are consolidating their ranks in the fight against 
imperialism and militarism. The developing national liber- 
ation movement of the peoples of Asia, Africa and Latin 
America is also spearheaded against the imperialist ag- 
gressors, against their efforts to unleash a world war. The 
steadily mounting world peace movement has a_ broad 
general democratic character and embraces the most 
diverse sections of the population in all countries. 

These are new phenomena of modern historical devel- 
opment characterising the laws of the contemporary epoch 
of transition from the old bourgeois to the new, socialist 
society whose forces are growing and strengthening. 

Yet there is also another real possibility in the present- 
day epoch, the possibility of the aggressors unleashing a 
world war. In their all-out bid for world domination the 
reactionary forces of monopoly capitalism, the forces of 
the warmongers, have thrown overboard all moral and 
humane considerations. Therefore the struggle of the 
forces of peace and progress against the forces of reaction 
and war acquires decisive significance. 

In the forefront of this historic fight for peace are the 
Communist and Workers’ Parties which are shouldering 
the great responsibility for the destiny of the peoples, for 
organising and rallying all progressive forces battling 
against war and aggression. 

As long as there are aggressive imperialist forces in the 
world the peoples of all countries have to display constant 
vigilance, resoluteness and ability to cut short any imper- 
ialist actions aimed against peace. 

The masses are the chief makers of history and the 
prevention of war and maintenance of a stable peace on 
earth depend on their actions and struggle. 

Chapter VII 


1. Gnoseological and Social Roots of Idealist 
Theories Concerning the Role of the Masses 
and the Individual in History 

The Marxist-Leninist teaching on society originated and 
developed in the struggle against idealist theories which 
denied the objective nature of the laws of social develop- 
ment and the decisive role played by the masses in history. 

Pre-Marxist theories about the historic process were 
dominated by two conceptions—the subjective-idealist and 
objective-idealist—of the role of the masses and the in- 
dividual. Though differently interpreting the role of the 
individual. both conceptions maintain that ideas and not 
the material human relations determine the development 
of society; therefore, they deny that people play a creative, 
conscious role in history. They call the people a “passive 
mass”, a “crowd” which obeys either the ideas of great 
personalities or the will of the ‘absolute spirit”. 

Subjective idealists portray history as conglomeration of 
chance events conditioned by individual peculiarities in 
the lives of great men, while objective idealists regard it 
as a predestined process. 

The classics of Marxism have shown that these concep- 
tions are derived from the religious idealist doctrine that 
all natural phenomena and historic events are determined 
and guided by the will of the gods or their chosen “he- 
roes”, while the toiling people are mere pawns blindly 
obeying what is ordained from above. “The idea that po- 
litical acts, grand performances of state,’ wrote Engels, 


“are decisive in history is as old as written history itself, 
and is the main reason why so little material has been 
preserved for us in regard to the really progressive evolu- 
tion of the peoples which has taken place quietly, in 
the background, behind these noisy scenes on_ the 

Making a fetish of the part played by separate individ- 
uals in history, the advocates of such views argue that 
only a few “chosen” personalities from the ruling exploit- 
ing class who bear the “stamp of divinity and genius” can 
engage in statecraft, science, music and art, and shape 
history in accordance with their own will and desire. It 
was this belief that created the cult of the ‘‘chosen” who 
were hailed as “heroes” and crowned with a halo of sanc- 
tity, infallibility and super-natural power. At the root of 
this anti-scientific notion lies fear of the people’s revolu- 
tionary movement and, quite often, the desire to justify 
the domination and exploitation of the majority of people 
by an insignificant minority, in order to hold the masses 
in submission. 

Charles Ferguson, an American philosopher, notes that 
many contemporary sociological works portray people as 
a “vapid, inscrutable, volatile body of odd and assorted 
creatures whose sole function it is to receive the impres- 
sions given by the most vociferous leaders”’.? 

Modern bourgeois ideologists preserve in the main the 
already traditional image of the people as a “passive 
crowd”. Even today many of them call the masses a stum- 
bling block on the road to progress, an obstacle hindering 
the creative activities of brilliant personalities. Arthur 
Salter, a British sociologist, tries to prove in his Personal- 
ity in Politics that there is “need to give a greater weight, 
in seeking the causes of great events, to the personal ac- 
tion and the personality of great men”. In his opinion 
“history is the net result of the interaction of impersonal 
forces and the personalities of those who are in positions 
of authority”? 

1 Frederick Engels, Anti-Diihring, p. 220. 

2 Charles W. Ferguson, A Liitle Democracy Is a Dangerous Thing, 
New York, 1948, p. 36. 

3 Arthur Salter, Personality in Politics, London, 1948, p. 20. 


At the same time a certain change of scenery has taken 
place in modern bourgeois conceptions regarding the role 
of the masses and the individual in history. According to 
them, masses still form the base of the social pyramid 
while its top is made up of other personalities, other 
“heroes”. Instead of kings and generals, the monopolists 
and big businessmen are proclaimed to be the makers and 
the motive forces of history. Sigmund Diamond, an Amer- 
ican economist, writes that “each society ... would cre- 
ate heroic types sufficient unto itself”.! Industrial, commer- 
cial and financial tycoons, he claims, are the “heroes of 
our time” and it is they who have to be portrayed as 
“heroic personalities” and who merit admiration and ought 
to be worshipped. 

Thus it is no longer historical personalities, but the 
entire exploiting upper crust of modern society called the 
élite, that is proclaimed to be the creative and guiding 
force of social development. The theory of the ‘élite’, 
differing from the theory of the “heroes and the crowd” 
only in form, has a common ideological-theoretical basis 
—idealism and voluntarism—with it and pursues identical 
political goals—substantiation and justification of the con- 
centration of economic wealth and state power in the 
hands of a narrow caste, the financial oligarchy. 

But the power of the working masses and their influence 
on social life are so great and self-evident today that 
even the apologists of imperialism admit that the 20th 
century is the “age of the masses”. That is why many of 
them now speak not so much about the “passivity” and 
“amorphousness” of the masses as about their “uncon- 
trolled” activity, about the “predestined” role of the mas- 
ses in history. They are particularly apprehensive of the 
fact that the popular masses are increasingly intruding 
into all spheres of public activity. Expressing fear of the 
popular masses who have risen to the full height of their 
giant stature, Sisley Huddleston, a British sociologist, 
writes: “There can be no doubt whatever, that, for better 
or worse, our own epoch is distinguished from preceding 
epochs by the overwhelming influence of the masses on 

' Sigmund Diamond, The Reputation of the American Business- 
man, Cambridge, Mass., 1955, p. 1. 


our communal life.”! He states further: “The salient factor 
in the unseen revolution, a revolution whose _ conse- 
quences are incalculable, is the breakdown of restraints 
on the functional character of the crowd...its action is 
felt stronger and stronger.”? 

Admitting that the masses are exerting increasing in- 
fluence on modern society, the proponents of such views, 
nevertheless, do not regard this as a law-governed phenom- 
ena arising from the entire course of social development, 
but as an “extraordinary” event, a “violation” of the nor- 
mal historical process. They are recommending various 
recipes for bridling the growing activity of the masses. 
Some of them, speaking of the “threat” of the increasing 
intrusion of the masses into the affairs of state, recom- 
mend to “reconsider the problem of democracy” and 
establish “firm rule” of a strong personality. Others sug- 
gest to improve the system of guiding the masses, to make 
it more flexible and efficient and, at the same time, to 
give it a pseudo-democratic form. But all of them are 
seeking new efficient methods and means with which it 
would be possible to control the activity of the masses, 
deceive them and keep them in submission. 

They preach subjectivism and voluntarism to theoreti- 
cally substantiate the cult of leaders in the person of bour- 
geois politicians and financial tycoons who are still 
charged with the mission of saving capitalism. Society, they 
say, can develop in any direction depending on the will 
of one or another leader. The nations, writes William 
James, an American philosopher, “may be committed by 
kings and ministers to peace or war, by generals to vic- 
tory or defeat, by prophets to this religion or that, by 
various geniuses to fame in art, science, or industry”? 

The idealist understanding of the role of the masses 
and the individual in history has both social and gnose- 
ological roots. 

The theoretical and cognitive roots of idealist views 

1 Sisley Huddleston, Popular Diplomacy and War, Rindge, New 
Hampshire, 1954, p. 145. 

2 Tbid., p. 147. 

3 William James, The Will to Believe and Other Essays in Popu- 
lar Philosophy, New York, 1927, pp. 227-28. 


of the role of the masses and the individual in history are 
connected with subjectivism and a metaphysical approach 
to reflecting social life, with selecting and absolutising 
one or another element of social reality and with a non- 
historical analysis of social phenomena. 

In The Holy Family Marx and Engels wrote that theo- 
ries which reject the role of the masses in history and 
which play up the cult of chosen personalities are merely 
a speculative result of the teaching of the juxtaposition 
of spirit and matter, they are the inevitable outcome of 
the idealist solution of the fundamental question of phi- 

The idealist interpretation of history mirrors only su- 
perficial phenomena but does not delve into the essence 
of the historical process. The idealists see that people 
endowed with intellect and will who set themselves de- 
finite aims and struggle for their realisation are active in 
society, but beyond the activity of individuals, i.e., beyond 
the form in which historical laws manifest themselves, 
they fail to discern the essence of these laws. 

The only way to avoid this error is to study those 
material driving forces which are reflected in men’s minds 
as actuating motives. Moreover, when scientificially ana- 
lysing these motives “it is not a question so much of the 
motives of single individuals, however eminent, as of those 
motives which set in motion great masses, whole peoples, 
and again whole classes of the people. ...” 4 

The most important social prerequisite for ignoring the 
decisive role of the popular masses and, at the same time, 
for extolling the role of single individuals in social devel- 
opment is the rift between mental and manual labour. 

In an exploiting antagonistic class society there is a 
profound contradiction between creative mental labour, 
which from the very outset became the privilege of the 
ruling classes, and physical labour, which is the forced 
obligation of the oppressed masses. 

Since mental labour is turning into monopoly of the 
ruling exploiting classes, it is viewed as the principal. 
determining force of historical development, while physic- 
al labour is relegated to second place. 

1 Marx and Engels, Selected Works, Vol. II, p. 392. 

With the further division of labour in society, the erro- 
neous idea that mental labour is destined to dominate 
physical labour is consolidated by the class interests of 
the exploiters, by the very class nature of antagonistic 
society. Engels pointed out that “the more modest produc- 
tions of the working hand retreated into the background, 
the more so since the mind that planned the labour al- 
ready at a very early stage of development of society... 
was able to have the labour that had been planned car- 
ried out by other hands than its own” .! 

Social inequality, exploitation of man by man and the 
oppressed condition of the working people in antagonistic 
society, played the decisive role in the formation of 
idealist views which deny or belittle the role of the mas- 
ses in history. The social meaning of the process of 
“alienation” of the means of production from the produc- 
er, Engels underlined, was not only that the toiling mas- 
ses became impoverished, but primarily that the means of 
production after they had passed into the hands of a big 
proprietor became means for exploiting and oppressing the 
working people. 

The counterposing of single individuals and the masses, 
contempt for the working people and fear of their histor- 
ical independence characteristic of modern bourgeois 
ideology, are rooted in the exploiting system itself, with 
its private ownership of the means of production and 
the resulting irreconcilable contradictions between the 
opposing classes. “I know nothing more rare than a 
fit scientific estimate and reverent appreciation of the 
People—of their measureless wealth of latent power and 
capacity,”’2 wrote Walt Whitman, an American poet and 

The problem of the role of the masses in history could 
be correctly solved only from the standpoint of the most 
progressive and revolutionary class of the modern age, the 
working class, which is interested in an objective, scientif- 
ic solution of this problem. 

' Thid., p. 87. 
2 Quoted from the book by Herbert Aptheker, Laureates of Impe- 
rialism, New York, 1954, p. 75. 

15-360 295 

2. Marxism-Leninism on the Content of the Concept 
“People” and the Mounting Role of the Masses 
in History 

To correctly assess the role of the masses in history it 
is necessary to take into account the class composition of 
a people and the objective historical conditions in which 
it lives and acts. 

Marxism-Leninism rejects an abstract way of posing 
this question. 

The concept “people” should, above all, be considered 
from the standpoint of an analysis of the social and 
economic position of classes and strata in a particular 
system of production, from the standpoint of the doctrine 
of the class struggle, defining the objective place each 
class occupies in this struggle and the role it plays in it. 

The tenet that production plays the decisive role in 
social development means that the concept “people” above 
all else includes the toiling masses that are always the 
most important component of the productive forces. Thus, 
the slaves and the peasants formed the nucleus of the 
masses in slave-owning society, the serfs and urban arti- 
sans in a feudal society, and the proletariat and the peas- 
antry in capitalist society. 

The classes that lead the people at different stages of 
revolutionary struggle are also different. Under capital- 
ism the leading class is the proletariat. Marxism perceived 
that the proletariat was not only an oppressed and ex- 
ploited mass but also the most active and revolutionary 
force capable of countering all forms of oppression and 
building a new, socialist society. ‘““The chief thing in the 
doctrine of Marx,” Lenin indicated, ‘is that it brings out 
the historic role of the proletariat as the builder of social- 
ist society.”! 

Marxists divide a people into classes not in order that 
the advanced class—the proletariat—should lock up within 
itself and wage but a narrow struggle for its own class 
interests, but so that it should struggle with greater ener- 
gy and enthusiasm for the cause of all people and lead 
them in this struggle without being affected by the vacil- 

1 Lenin, Collected Works, Vol. 18, p. 582. 

lation and indecision of intermediate classes and strata. 
“In using the word ‘people’,” Lenin wrote, ‘“Marx did not 
thereby gloss over class distinctions, but united definite 
elements capable of bringing the revolution to comple- 

“People” is an historical concept embracing the classes 
and strata, which, due to their objective position, are in- 
terested in and are capable of participating in the solu- 
tion of tasks of progressive development of society at a 
given historical period. 

The main section of the masses in all socio-economic 
formations are the working people who are the direct 
producers of material and spiritual values. 

In socialist society, where exploiting classes do not exist, 
socialist relations of production and a community of 
economic and political interests have become the basis 
of the socio-political and spiritual unity of workers, peas- 
ants and intellectuals, i.e., of the whole of society. Thus, 
with the victory of socialism the concept “popular mas- 
ses” means the entire population. At the same time, the 
working class as the most progressive and organised force 
of socialist society fulfils its leading role with regard to 
other classes and strata also in the period of socialist and 
communist construction. 

To assess the role of the masses in history from con- 
crete historical positions it is necessary to take into ac- 
count both the class composition of these masses and the 
objective historical conditions in which they act and which 
can either promote or fetter their creative activity. At all 
stages of. history, the working masses are the principal 
participant and the decisive force of social development, 
and although they are always the makers of history, their 
activity depends on specific, objective historical conditions. 

People create history in definite historical conditions, 
and the success of their creativity depends not only on 
the vigour and decision with which they act, but above 
all on the extent to which these conditions are conducive 
to victory. It is possible to understand why the struggle 
of the masses against their oppressors is unsuccessful in 
certain historical conditions and successful in others only 

' Lenin, Collected Works, Vol. 9, p. 133. 
15% 227 

on the basis of a thorough knowledge of the objective laws 
of economic development. 

Marx established that “with the thoroughness of the 
historical action the size of the mass whose action it is 
will. ..increase”.1 This means that the deeper the social 
transformations in society, the more actively and cons- 
ciously the masses must participate in their realisation. 

The growing role played by the masses in the course o/ 
historical development is the result of the replacement 
of one socio-economic formation by another which grad- 
ually gave the masses broader opportunities to carry on 
their struggle. 

Although the exploitation of the toiling people was not 
abolished but even became more intense as the mode of 
production evolved through its successive slave-owning, 
feudal and capitalist stages, the gradual personal emanci- 
pation of the working people gave them certain freedom 
of action, their class consciousness developed, their cul- 
tural level rose, and they acquired greater opportunities 
to fight for their rights against diverse forms of oppres- 
sion. It is the working people that have always been and 
continue to be the basic social force capable of breaking 
down the resistance of the moribund classes that are with- 
drawing from the historical scene. Nothing serious, Lenin 
noted, was ever achieved in human progress anywhere in 
the world without the revolutionary activity of the work- 
ing people. And, on the contrary, every defeat of the pop- 
ular movements in history signified, as a rule, the onset 
of reaction, a deceleration of social development and even 

Today the working people of the capitalist countries 
have become a force no ruling class of exploiters can 
afford to disregard. The existence of the world socialist 
system vastly influences the working people of the capital- 
ist countries; it makes them still more revolutionary- 
minded, inspires them to fight against imperialism and cnor- 
mously facilitates the conditions in which they are wag- 
ing this struggle. 

The creative activity of the masses has grown immen- 

1K. Marx and F. Engels, The Holy Family or Critique of Critical 
Critique, p. 110. 


sely in countries that have cast off the yoke of colonial- 
ism. Lenin pointed out that the peoples of the colonial 
and semi-colonial countries, which in the past could be 
viewed “merely as objects and not as the subjects of 
history”,! have now awoke to independent life, to con- 
scious struggle for their national and social emancipation. 
This has not only considerably swelled the masses that 
are consciously making history, but has also accelerated 
its development. 

Today the increasing participation of the masses in 
historical development is concretely expressed also in their 
influence on international relations, on the fight against 
aggression and militarism for the preservation and streng- 
thening of peace. 

Addressing the American workers, Marx wrote in his 
time: “On you, then, devolves the glorious task to prove 
to the world that now at last the working classes are bes- 
triding the scene of history no longer as servile retainers, 
but the independent actors, conscious of their own res- 
ponsibility, and able to command peace where their would- 
be masters shout war.”? 

Today the cause of peace is in the hands of the mighty 
socialist community which has the material means of 
acting on the aggressive militarist circles; it is backed by 
the strength of the national liberation movement and the 
growing number of peace-loving states, by the might of 
the international working class and its vanguard and by 
the world peace movement. That the united actions of all 
peoples can today postpone and even prevent another 
world war is a result of the fundamental social changes 
that have taken place in the world and which have brought 
about a new balance of forces in it. 

The results of the historical activity and the struggle 
of the masses depend not merely on objective conditions 
but on the subjective factor as well. 

The founders of Marxism wrote that to be able to fulfil 
its historic mission, that of abolishing capitalism and 
building socialism, the proletariat needs more than just 

1 Lenin, Collected Works, Vol. 32, p. 478. 
2 The General Council of the First International 1868-1870. Minutes, 
Progress Publishers, Moscow, pp. 102-03. 


numbers, which are only one of the factors making for a 
successful struggle. The proletariat will come out victo- 
rious in a revolutionary struggle only provided there are 
other such necessary conditions as vigorous action, polit- 
ical consciousness, unity and organisation in the activity 
of the working masses, and their guidance by a Marxist 
party equipped with a scientific knowledge of the laws 
of social development. “Numbers,” wrote Marx, ‘weigh 
only in the balance, if united by combination and led by 

History has shown that the subjective factor—the level 
of the working people’s class consciousness, the strength of 
their unity and the leadership of the masses by a revolu- 
tionary party—plays a very important role in the creative 
activity of the masses. The level of the development of 
the subjective factor markedly influences the growth, or, 
on the contrary, the decline of the role of the masses in 
social development. It was the low level of class conscious- 
ness, lack of their own political party and, consequently, 
absence of a clear understanding of the aims and direc- 
tions of struggle that turned the masses who had risen to 
revolutionary action in the past into, as Lenin put it, 
“pawns in the hands of the ruling classes” which used the 
spontaneous popular movements to their own advantage. 
Though a great progressive force in historical develop- 
ment, the masses, whenever their leadership passed in to 
the hands of reactionary social elements, turned into an 
instrument of reaction and sided with the conservative 
forces. Therefore, the question of revolutionary leader- 
ship of the masses is extremely important. 

“The more profound the change we wish to bring about,” 
Lenin wrote, “the more must we rouse an interest and an 
intelligent attitude towards it, and convince more millions 
and tens of millions of people that it is necessary.”2 

The victory of the socialist revolution and the social 
changes following it constitute a qualitatively new stage 
in the creative role played by the masses. Compared with 
all preceding revolutions, a socialist revolution is the most 
profound and, consequently, the most popular of all social 

1 Marx and Engels, Selected Works, Vol. I, p. 384. 
2 Lenin, Collected Works, Vol. 31, p. 498. 



transformations. It brings new life to the formerly oppressed 
broadest lower social strata. 

The fusion of the class interests of the proletariat with 
those of all the exploited people accounts for the unpre- 
cedented scale of the participation of the masses in a so- 
cialist revolution. As it solves previously unheard-of his- 
toric tasks, the socialist revolution draws a vast majority 
of the population into creative participation in effectuat- 
ing social changes. Moreover, the part played by the work- 
ing masses in revolutionary transformations does not 
diminish after they had won power, but, on the contrary, 
consistently and steadfastly increases. Socialism, Lenin 
wrote, “cannot be implemented by a minority, by the 
Party. It can be implemented only by tens of millions when 
they have learned to do it themselves.”! 

The building of a new society is the result of the cons- 
tantly growing conscious activity of the working people 
determined by the whole system of socialist economic, 
political and ideological relations. The conversion of the 
working people into conscious makers of a new life is an 
objective necessity for the successful construction of social- 
ism and communism. 

The profound social significance of a socialist revolution 
is that it removes all objective obstacles hampering the 
creative activity of the masses and which for centuries had 
impeded the development of their consciousness and 

Under socialism the toiling masses for the first time in 
history consciously effectuate historical transformations 
and become the conscious builders of a new society. 

3. The Role of the Masses in the Development 
of Material Production 

Recognition of the decisive role of the masses in history 
flows directly from the basic tenet of historical materialism 
that history of society rests on the development of produc- 
tion, while the working masses remain the chief force of 
the production process as they have always been. It is 

4 Lenin, Collected Works, Vol. 27, p. 135. 

labour which produces the instruments of labour, food, 
housing, clothing, and so forth, that makes the existence 
of mankind, of social life possible. By their labour the mas- 
ses feed and clothe all social strata and create the foun- 
dation for the advancement of science, technology and art. 

Geologists have proved that imperceptible changes in the 
earth’s crust ultimately bring about much more signifi- 
cant transformations than volcanic eruptions and earth- 
quakes. In exactly the same way the insignificant changes 
in the instruments of labour introduced by millions of toi- 
lers over the centuries pave the way for great technical and 
social revolutions. 

The everyday production activity of the toiling masses 
promotes social development at all stages in history, and 
determines the destiny of mankind to a much greater ex- 
tent than do the activity and will of one or another out- 
standing personality. “Neither god, nor tsar, nor hero”, 
but the masses with their strong hands and inventive mind, 
labour experience and work habits that are handed down 
from generation to generation, with their brave hearts and 
high moral qualities are the mainspring of historical pro- 
gress. The day-to-day work of the millions not only pro- 
vides society with all it needs but also creates the material 
basis for the successive replacement of socio-economic for- 
mations, for the promotion of social development. 

That society cannot function without the labour of the 
masses is vividly proved by the strikes of workers in modern 
capitalist society. Suffice it for the workers to declare a 
general strike and the economic life of a country is para- 
lysed, work at factories, mines, transport and electric sta- 
tions comes to a standstill, newspapers do not come out 
and institutions and offices close. 

The apologists of capitalism claim that the principal 
creative role in production is played by financial magnates. 
But since organisational functions in production are 
now being increasingly transferred to scientists and techni- 
cians, the parasitical nature of the capitalist class has be- 
come an obvious fact. “It is clear,” writes Wyatt Marrs, 
an American sociologist, “that the owner himself, as such, 
adds nothing to the increased product”... “ownership 
within the institution of private property accordingly pro- 
vides the only opportunity in the economic organisation 


for complete and undisguised non-usefulness.... This en- 
trenched privilege provides the most secure basis of para- 
sitism in the modern world.’! 

Elimination of this sort of parasitism creates conditions 
for tremendously accelerating social development. If the 
financial and industrial magnates were as essential to eco- 
nomic progress as claimed by their apologists, the abolition 
of the bourgeoisie would have stopped all progress. But in 
reality it is exactly the opposite. In countries where the 
bourgeois system has been abolished, where the bourgeois 
class no longer exists, economic development is incalculably 
faster than it had ever been before. Socialist reality fully 
overturns all the inventions of the bourgeois ideologists 
concerning the alleged “inability” of the masses to organ- 
ise production and manage economy. 

The working masses in social formations made up of 
antagonistic classes are alienated from the means of pro- 
duction, while in a socialist society there is no gap be- 
tween the producer and the means of production, and the 
working people are their joint owners. The toiling people 
began to play a new role in the development of production 
following the abolition of private property and the estab- 
lishment of public ownership of the means of production. 
Under socialism the people for the first time in history 
work for themselves and not for the exploiters, and there- 
fore each person that works feels himself master of his 
country. Free labour stimulates the mighty creative energy 
of the working people. The economic foundation of the 
growing creative activity of the masses under socialism 
are the socialist production relations of friendship and co- 
operation which have appeared on the basis of public 

This gives birth to a new attitude to labour which is 
strikingly revealed in socialist emulation. In the U.S.S.R. 
some 30,000,000 people are participating in the Work-the- 
Communist-Way Movement. 

Labour in a socialist society is acquiring an increasing- 
ly creative character and the initiative of the masses acts 
as a powerful boost to technological progress. Today there 

* Wyatt Marrs, The Man on Your Back, University of Oklahoma 
Press, 1958, pp. 162 and 165. 


are 2,000,000 rationalisers and inventors in the U.S.S.R. 
In the past five years, workers and engineers have filed 
11,000,000 rationalisation proposals. Free labour for the 
good of society, for oneself, fosters in the Soviet people 
such admirable qualities as inventiveness, initiative and 
collectivism. Gradually the natural concept of labour as 
an essential requirement takes shape in the minds of 

The masses in a socialist society not only work, they 
also manage production. The socialist system draws ever 
wider sections of the working people into day-to-day par- 
ticipation in production management. Through standing 
production conferences nearly 5,000,000 people take a hand 
in solving problems of developing production and economic 
planning in the U.S.S.R. 

Another new feature that. appears under socialism is that 
the working people build their economic relations them- 
selves. During the construction of socialism they actively 
participate in setting up new, socialist production relations 
on the basis of the nationalisation of industry, transport 
and the banks, and the collectivisation of agriculture. 

In his article “The Immediate Tasks of the Soviet Gov- 
ernment” Lénin wrote that in bourgeois revolutions the 
working people’s main task had been to perform the nega- 
tive, or destructive, work of abolishing feudalism and the 
monarchy, while the positive, or constructive work of 
organising the new society was carried out by the pro- 
perty-owning, bourgeois minority. In every socialist rev- 
olution, on the other hand, the main task of the proletar- 
iat and of the poor peasants which it leads, is the posi- 
tive or “constructive work of setting up an extremely in- 
tricate and delicate system of new organisational relation- 
ships extending to the planned production and distribution 
of the goods required for the existence of tens of millions 
of people”.! 

Economic planning under socialism is a vivid example of 
the harmonious combination of the activity of government 
organs with the broad initiative of the masses. The eco- 
nomic plan concretely mirrors the actual social and economic 
potentialities of the development of Soviet society at a given 

{ Lenin, Collected Works, Vol. 27, p. 241. 

stage in history. These potentialities are sought for and 
taken into account both “at the top”, by Party and govern- 
ment organisations—on a nation-wide scale, and “at the 
bottom”, by the working people who study the possibilities 
and the reserves of each region, district and enterprise. On 
the basis of thorough analysis of economic potentialities 
and prospects, the working people and their local organi- 
sations produce their recommendations which, after being 
studied and co-ordinated, go to form the basis of a single 
national plan. Thus, economic plans in socialist countries 
in a concentrated form embody the collective intellect and 
experience of the working people, and take into account 
the will of the whole people. 

Under socialism the activity of the masses is based on 
new relations of production, comradely co-operation and 
socialist mutual assistance, which provide full scope for 
the development of the productive forces, and in the first 
place of the main productive force—the working masses 
themselves, their creative energy and ability. The expe- 
rience of socialist construction has completely exposed the 
bourgeois lie that socialism cannot evoke creative initiative 
in the economic field, that only capitalist competition can 
do this. The successes achieved by the working people in 
socialist countries provide the best evidence of what the 
people can do when they have cast off the capitalist yoke. 

4. The Role of the Masses 
in Socio-Political Activity 

The masses are the decisive force not only in the crea- 
tion of material values; their activity also manifests itself 
in the political life of society. Under an exploiting system 
the masses are politically oppressed; the ruling classes in 
all manner of ways try to prevent them from participating 
in political life, and their role in this sphere in pre-socialist 
formations is therefore limited mainly to resisting the 
existing system, to the class struggle, which develops in 
various forms and exercises a definite influence on the 
policy of the ruling classes. In revolutionary periods, when 
the masses rise to conscious revolutionary activity, their 
role in politics is immeasurably enhanced. It is in these 


periods that the people’s abilities, their creativity, heroism 
and selflessness, come to the fore. 

Bourgeois ideologists seek to prove that mass action by 
the working people or, as they contemptuously call it, 
“mob action”, is a manifestation of “irrational instincts” 
and the “herd psychology”. The French sociologist André 
Joussain, for instance, describing revolutions as “epidemic 
mass madness’, claims that “revolution is to the social 
organism what disease is to the living organism. And like 
disease being an effort to cure an evil, it only aggravates 
the condition of that which it seeks to cure.”! 

Fear of the people’s revolutionary spontaneity has al- 
ways been an attribute of the reactionaries because, as 
Marx pointed out, “they know that during the revolution 
the ordinary folk become daring and may go too far’’.? 

In reality, social revolutions are periods when the activ- 
ity and political consciousness of the broad masses of the 
working people, inspired with the idea of making history 
themselves, reaches a peak of intensity. 

It is not “instincts” or the “herd psychology of the mas- 
ses” that are the causes of revolutionary struggle but their 
realisation of the unequal position. It is in revolutions 
that the reason of the people displays itself most vividly. 

The classics of Marxism-Leninism called revolutions the 
“locomotives of history” because they accelerate the course 
of historical developments. The changes that occur in so- 
cial life in a relatively brief period of a revolution are more 
profound than the changes achieved in whole decades or 
even centuries of gradual, evolutionary “progress”. The 
explanation of the powerful impact of revolutions on the 
course of history is that they raise millions of people to 
conscious participation in moulding events. “Revolutions 
are festivals of the oppressed and the exploited,’ Lenin 
wrote. “At no other time are the mass of the people in 
a position to come forward so actively as creators of a 
new social order, as at a time of revolution. At such times 
the people are capable of performing miracles.” 

In all pre-socialist revolutions the fruits of victory went 

' André Joussain, La loi des révolutions, Paris, 1950, p. 215. 
2 Marx and Engels, Works, Vol. 4, p. 314 (in Russian). 
3 Lenin, Collected Works, Vol. 9, p. 113. 


not to the working people but to the exploiting classes 
which established new forms of exploitation to replace the 
old. But the historical results of revolutions have always 
been proportionate to the activity of the masses and the 
energy with which they pursued their independent de- 

This shows the untenability of the ideas of bourgeois 
ideologists who regard the growing activity of the masses 
as a social disaster and a threat to social progress. Just 
as in the sphere of production the working people are 
relegated to the status of dumb animals, so in the sphere 
of politics they, in the opinion of bourgeois ideologists, 
should obediently follow “acknowledged” leaders. “Leader- 
ship,” according to the American sociologists J. Corry and 
H. Abraham, “is always the function of one or a few. Too 
many cooks spoil the broth, and what holds for soup holds 
for government as well.’””! 

“Democracy,” writes the French sociologist René Gil- 
louin, “is based on the false idea that politics is an easy 
thing accessible to all ... and requiring no special know- 

The supporters of democracy, however, certainly do not 
believe that politics is an “easy thing”. The real point at 
issue is whether the people should be urged to participate 
in political activity or kept away from it, which is exactly 
what the reactionaries are striving to achieve. But expe- 
rience has long since exploded the thesis that the masses 
are neither competent enough nor capable of participat- 
ing in politics. Bourgeois democracy excludes a large sec- 
tion of society from active participation in politics; social- 
ist democracy, on the contrary, creates the opportunity 
“for actually drawing the majority of working people into 
a field of labour in which they can display their abilities, 
develop the capacities, and reveal those talents, so abun- 
dant among the people’’.? 

The people’s participation or non-participation in polit- 

4 J.A. Corry and Henry J. Abraham, Elements of Democratic Gov- 
ernment, New York, 1958, p. 420. 

2 René Gillouin, L’lHomme moderne-boureau de lui-méme, Paris, 
1951, pp. 25-26. 

3 Lenin, Collected Works, Vol. 26, p. 404. 


ical activity does not depend on individual ability or on 
education. The deciding factor is the social conditions and 
opportunities which a particular social system offers 
them to display their activity and abilities in diverse 

In recent years much has been said in the West about 
the process of ‘“depolitisation” of social life. Some socio- 
logists juggle with statistics illustrating public passivity 
at elections, and cite opinion polls showing that interest 
in certain spheres of political life has declined. Charles 
Seely, an American sociologist, asserts that “people have 
but very little understanding of, or interest in, the world 
situation.... Fear also prevents them from taking an active 
part in movements that would improve their economic 
and social conditions”! 

In reality the public’s indifference towards elections in 
some of the capitalist countries does not prove that the 
masses have lost interest in political life in general. It is 
only a form of protest against the reactionary policy of 
imperialist circles, against a system under which the polit- 
ical stage is held by rival bourgeois parties which virtually 
do not differ from one another since they represent only 
various groupings of monopoly capital. The very fact 
that the masses are shedding illusions, their disappoint- 
ment in the bourgeois democracy and refusal to support 
the imperialists’ reactionary political schemes by partici- 
pating in them, is a step towards mass awakening, 
towards greater activity manifested most vividly in the 
strike movement, which increases year by year. 

The working class, all progressive forces in the world 
are fighting with growing intensity against restrictions 
upon democracy, which hamper the creative initiative of 
the masses, and are striving to awaken and guide their 
political activity. 

The socialist revolution is the highest manifestation of 
the creative activity of the masses in political life. 

In the epoch of socialist revolution the working people 
not only destroy the old social system and its institutions; 
they also create a new system and build a new, socialist 

{ Charles S. Seely, Philosophy and the Ideological Conflict, New 
York, 1953, p, 214. 


society that is free from oppression and exploitation. “Only 


the millions can build this society,” Lenin said. ‘In the 
era of serfdom these builders numbered hundreds; in the 
capitalist era the builders of the state numbered thousands 
and tens of thousands. The socialist revolution can be made 
only with the active and direct practical participation of 
tens of millions in state administration.”! It is the socialist 
revolution that arouses the working people to constant and 
active participation in state administration and the masses 
assume political power. 

The socialist state system, socialist democracy is the 
political foundation of the steady growth of creative activ- 
ity of the masses under socialism. The working people do 
not merely take part in production; they also play a deci- 
sive part in its organisation, in administering the country. 
The people’s power becomes a reality here insofar as the 
people themselves actually govern and are the real mas- 
ters of their life. Along with ownership of the land, 
factories, all natural resources and the instruments of 
production the working people also. gain political 

In the U.S.S.R. the Soviets of Working People’s Deputies, 
being elective organs of the people’s power, express through 
their activity the will of the working masses, effectuate 
their policy and defend their interests. The fact that more 
than 2,500,000 citizens of the U.S.S.R. are deputies of the 
Soviets and that over 20,000,000 people representing all 
sections of the population are permanent activists of the 
Soviets shows who governs the Land of Soviets, who is 
its master. 

Under socialism the tens of millions of working people 
actively participate in state administration not only through 
government bodies but through the Party, trade unions, 
youth associations, literary, artistic and scientific societies, 
sports clubs and other mass organisations. 

The imperialists and their ideologists regard the growth 
of the influence of the masses upon social life as a source 
of weakness of, and a direct threat to, the bourgeois state; 
under socialism, however, attitude to this question is com- 
pletely different. “Our idea of strength is different,” Lenin 

! Lenin, Collected Works, Vol. 28, p. 426. 

wrote. “Our idea is that a state is strong when the people 
are politically conscious. It is strong when the people know 
everything, can form an opinion of everything and do 
everything consciously.”! 

Lenin believed that bringing the work of all organs of 
the state machinery to the knowledge of the public was 
an important measure furthering democracy. On the one 
hand, this facilitates control of the people over state au- 
thority and, on the other, instils in each member of society 
a sense of social responsibility, a realisation that he too 
is having a hand in all state affairs. 

Communism cannot be built without drawing all mem- 
bers of society into the administration of public affairs, 
without teaching all the working people the methods and 
skills of administration, without further development of 

5. The Role of the Masses in the Development 
of Spiritual Culture 

Being the decisive force of economic and political pro- 
gress, the masses also make a tremendous contribution to 
the development of spiritual culture. The people do not 
merely work and fight, they create. Science and art, which 
express the progressive ideas of their age, have their source 
in the life and experience of the people and in their very 
substance belong to the people. 

“Art belongs to the people,” said Lenin. “It must have 
its deepest roots in the broad mass of workers.” 

The ideologists of the exploiting classes have always 
denied the ability of the masses to participate in the crea- 
tion and development of culture. It is in this field that 
they most sharply contrast the “giftedness” of the select 
minority with the “sluggishness” of the ordinary people. 
Culture is a “spirit”, and it always dwells in the heads of 
geniuses—such is the idealist pattern of the “philosophy 
of culture’. “The masses,” states René Gillouin, “have taken 

1 Lenin, Collected Works, Vol. 26, p. 256. 
2 Clara Zetkin, Reminiscences of Lenin, International Publishers, 
New York, 1934, p. 13. 


no part in the creation of culture, either active or pas- 

Condemning the “vulgar masses” for daring to intrude 
into the forbidden zone, Strausz-Hupé, an American socio- 
logist, claims that they destroy culture just by touching 
it and that therefore “the Cult of the Elite calls upon the 
chosen few to defend the temple of culture against the 
barbarian-from-within” 2 

All these assertions flagrantly contradict reality and 
merely disclose their authors’ refusal to perceive the real 
sources of the threat to modern culture and civilisa- 

Due to its social nature capitalism turns artistic genius, 
all cultural achievements into commodities which are 
bought and sold. Business regards art above all as a means 
for deriving profit. Exposing the imperialists as the true 
enemies of culture Maxim Gorky wrote: “They bellow that 
the proletariat threatens to destroy culture, and they lie 
because they cannot but see that a great herd of fat men 
all over the world is trampling upon culture; they cannot 
but understand that the proletariat is the only force 
capevle of saving culture, deepening and extending 

Marxism-Leninism does not in the least deny the role 
played by scientists, inventors and organisers of produc- 
tion in the economic development of society. But it also 
scientifically explains and shows that the very existence 
of mental workers and their entire activity are absolutely 
impossible without the material production carried on by 
the mass of the workers. The development of science and 
technology is by no means a product of “pure intellect” 
of geniuses which make their inventions allegedly inde- 
pendent of the requirements of production and social life. 
In reality sciences appear and develop on the basis of the 
generalisation of the experience of people and under the 
impact of the needs of production. It should be constantly 
borne in mind that a vast number of inventions and dis- 

! René Gillouin, op. cit., p. 62. 

2 Robert Strausz-Hupé, The Zone of Indifference, New York, 1952, 
p. 128. 

3 M. Gorky, Collected Works, Vol. 24, p. 26 (in Russian). 

16-360 241 

coveries in science and technology were made by the 
workers themselves, by born inventors. The first plough, 
loom, wheel, axe, windmill, cart, and so forth—are all the 
results of collective work, of the creative activity of many 
generations of toilers. 

The economic development of any country was determined 
by the development of farming, crafts, stock raising and 
industry which was based on the labour of the masses. It 
was the labour of slaves that at a certain stage of social 
development provided the opportunities for freeing part 
of society from physical labour to engage in science, 
technology and art. This is acknowledged not only by 

“Throughout the ages,” wrote Rabindranath Tagore, 
“civilised communities have contained groups of nameless 
people. They are the majority—the beasts of burden, who 
have no time to become men. They grow up on the leav- 
ings of society’s wealth, with the least of food, least clothes 
and least education, and they serve the rest. They toil 
most, yet theirs is the largest measure of indignity.... 
They are like a lampstand bearing the lamp of civilisation 
on their heads: people above receive light while they are 
smeared with trickling oil.”! 

The entire spiritual culture of mankind has its roots 
and foundation in the life of people. They provide the sap 
and give content to all that is best in world culture. Their 
life, struggle, feelings and aspirations are the fertile soil 
from which progressive artists draw their inspiration, 
themes and characters, and the ideological purposefulness 
of their works. Precisely this made Maxim Gorky con- 
clude that “the people are not only the force which creates 
all material values, they are the sole and inexhaustible 
source of spiritual wealth, the first philosopher and poet 
in time, beauty and creative genius”’.? 

The people create not only the artistic images in classi- 
cal art, they also create the language with which this art 
is composed. Were it not for the creation and constant 
improvement of human speech cultural development of 
society would have been altogether impossible. Language, 

‘ Rabindranath Tagore, Letters from Russia, Calcutta, 1960, p. 1. 
2M. Gorkv, Collected Works, Vol. 24, p. 26 (in Russian). 


by means of which scientific data and poetic images 
are expressed and recorded, is created by the people, and 
developed by them throughout the centuries of their 

Recognition of these propositions in no way belittles the 
importance of the individual, of the outstanding thinkers 
and gifted artists. It would be absurd to deny that science 
is developed by scientists, and that art is created by artists, 
whose creative individuality, ability, artistic talent and 
professional skill tremendously influence the cultural de- 
velopment of society. 

But from where do the aims and ideals which the artist 
seeks to express in his work spring from? There is no 
doubt that in the final count they are engendered by so- 
ciety and the epoch. The artist is himself a product of 
specific social relations, and his aesthetic views are a 
reflection of social conditions. The individual traits of an 
artistic talent always mirror the characteristic features of 
a particular society, class or epoch which shape the artist’s 

In exploiting societies the working people have only 
limited access to education, science and culture. The forced 
physical labour has been the lot of the people over the 
great part of their history, and their participation in the 
development of culture was primarily expressed in the 
creation of the material conditions of spiritual life. They 
managed to acquire knowledge only to the extent required 
by the development of production and the degree of ac- 
cess to culture which they won by their organised strug- 
gle. As Maxim Gorky expressed it, socialism’s historical 
service to humanity is that it “has restored to the whole 
mass of the working people a right of which they have 
been deprived all over the world, the right to develop their 
intellect, talents and abilities”.1 

By breaking the fetters of economic and spiritual slav- 
ery, the socialist revolution ends the exploiting classes’ 
monopoly of culture and makes all cultural wealth and 
knowledge the property of the people. “In the old days,” 
Lenin wrote, “human genius, the brain of man, created 
only to give some the benefits of technology and culture, 

' M. Gorky, Collected Works, Vol. 27, p. 331 (in Russian). 

16* 243 

and to deprive others of the bare necessities, education and 
development. From now on all the marvels of science and 
the gains of culture belong to the nation as a whole, and 
never again will man’s brain and human genius be used 
for oppression and exploitation.”! 

Socialism gave the masses broad opportunities to exercise 
their creative powers in the cultural life of society. The 
working people are playing a qualitatively new role in 
the development of culture under conditions of socialism; 
having gained wide access to education and culture as a 
whole they for the first time in history create their own, 
socialist culture, which is truly of the people in both its 
content and functions. To create a new, socialist culture 
the intellectuals required a steady and abundant flow of 
new, creative talent. A working socialist intelligentsia 
whose ranks are swelled by yesterday’s workers and 
peasants, by the most able and gifted part of the working 
people comes into being in the course of the cultural 

Unhampered access to knowledge, science and universal 
education under socialism sets the working people on the 
path of untrammelled, all-round development of their abil- 
ities and talents, makes them fully equipped builders of 
the new, socialist culture. 

Marx and Engels wrote that the Communists did not 
believe in miracles and did not claim that in the new so- 
ciety anyone could become a Raphael. But each person, 
they said, would be able freely to develop his abilities. To 
create the social conditions in which anyone will be able 
to realise his gifts and abilities is undoubtedly a complex 
but also the most rewarding and impressive goal that man- 
kind has ever set itself. This goal is being achieved in prac- 
tice today by the peoples of the countries that have taken 
the path of socialism. 

6. The Role of the Individual in History 

While Marxism-Leninism recognises that the masses 
play the decisive role in history and regards the people as 

' Lenin, Collected Works, Vol. 26, pp. 481-82. 

the makers of history, it does not deny the role played by 
the individual in history. The claims that Marx’s theory 
leaves no place for the role of the individual in history 
is vilification of Marxism. It was Marxism which, having 
discovered the laws of development of society, gave 
the first scientific explanation of the actual role the indi- 
vidual plays in history. Marxism does not deny the role 
of the individual but merely the anti-scientific, idealist 
understanding of that role which views the activity of great 
men as the principal or even the sole motive force of so- 
cial development, and credits them with the ability to di- 
rect the course of history at will. Plekhanov said that such 
an approach to history creates an “optical illusion”, in 
which the individual overshadows the epoch which gave 
him birth. The idealists, he said, regarded history ‘from 
the point of view of the feats of such individuals as Ro- 
muluses, Augustuses or Brutuses. The mass of the people, 
all those whom the Augustuses or Brutuses oppressed or 
liberated, escaped their field of vision.”! The inability to 
rise above the actions of individuals to the actions of 
the masses, to the actions of whole social classes, to under- 
stand and scientifically explain the law-governed charac- 
ter of social development—all this is characteristic of 
idealist conceptions of history. 

What is the actual role of the individual in history? 
What determines the emergence of great men? What 
guides their activity? 

Approaching history superficially and taking into ac- 
count only the features that strike the eye, it is quite easy 
to be deluded into thinking that the emergence of great 
men is the chief cause of historical events. This is the 
error of the idealists, who maintain that there have been 
periods in history when great men were needed and which 
remained periods of stagnation and produced nothing of 
importance because the great men failed to appear. Even 
the utopian socialists had believed that socialism was not 
the necessary result of the law-governed development of 
capitalism and the revolutionary struggle of the working 
class, but the accidental discovery of an “individual gen- 
ius”, and that it could have been brought about long ago 

1G. V. Plekhanov, Works, Vol. XXIV, p. 263 (in Russian). 

if only there had been a person capable of inventing and 
proclaiming the new social system. 

In reality the emergence of great men is not a chance 
event; they are a product of history. Before influencing 
the course of history, they themselves are subject to the 
influence of their own historical epoch. It is not accidental, 
for example, that outstanding statesmen usually come to 
the fore at the turning points in history, during periods of 
major activity of the masses: social revolutions, national 
liberation movements and popular uprisings. History shows 
that when there is an objective need for distinguished his- 
torical figures, this stimulates their appearance. “That such 
and such a man and precisely that man arises at a partic- 
ular time in a particular country is, of course, pure 
chance,” wrote Engels. “But cut him out and there will 
be a demand for a substitute, and this substitute will be 
found, good or bad, but in the long run he will be found. 
That Napoleon, just that particular Corsican, should have 
been the military dictator whom the French Republic, 
exhausted by its own warfare, had rendered necessary, was 
chance; but that, if a Napoleon had been lacking, another 
would have filled the place, is proved by the fact that the 
man was always found as soon as he became necessary: 
Caesar, Augustus, Cromwell, etc.’! 

Regarding great men as a product of definite historical 
social conditions and needs, Marxism-Leninism does not 
deny that chance events in history have an effect on the 
course of social development. An outstanding individual 
is a product not only of historical circumstances but also 
of the individual conditions influencing the formation of 
his personality, and also influencing the emergence of the 
kind of man who is needed to carry out certain socially 
essential tasks, and the degree to which he is able to per- 
form these tasks. In relation to world history, to the gen- 
eral laws and the motive forces of the social development. 
the individual qualities of a historical figure are not, of 
course, decisive, but they, nevertheless, do leave a definite 
stamp on the course of historical events, which they either 
accelerate or slow down. In a letter to Kugelmann about 
the Paris Commune, Marx wrote: “World history would 

1 Marx and Engels, Selected Works, Vol. H, p. 505. 

indeed be very easy to make, if the struggle were taken up 
only on condition of infallibly favourable chances. It 
would on the other hand be of a very mystical nature, if 
‘accidents’ played no part. These accidents naturally form 
part of the general course of development and are com- 
pensated by other accidents. But acceleration and delay 
are very much dependent upon such ‘accidents’, including 
the ‘accident’ of the character of the people who first head 
the movement.”! 
So the emergence of outstanding individuals cannot be 
regarded either as a pure necessity or as a pure accident; 
necessity and chance are here interwoven. The general 
course of history, its main direction, does not depend on 
the individual, no matter how brilliant. Not even the most 
outstanding personality can change the general direction 
of history. “It is the sovereigns who in all ages have been 
subject to economic conditions, but they have never dic- 
tated laws to them.’ 
| But even if the greatest of men cannot change the course 
of history, this does not mean that his influence on the 

| development of historical events is negligible. On the 
contrary, his activity under certain conditions may exert 
a tremendous influence on these events. 

What are these conditions? Why have some people left 
their mark on history, while others have expended their 
energy vainly endeavouring to change the course of 

| events? 

In making a scientific study of the role of the individual 
in history it is imperative to ascertain the conditions under 

which the activity of an outstanding individual will be suc- 

cessful. The significance of his historical activity depends 

j mainly on how well he understands the basic needs of 

social development and the conditions that will satisfy 

these needs, on how close his activities are bound up with 
the struggle of the masses, classes and parties. A great 

j man, Plekhanov said, is he who sees further than others, 

desires more strongly than others, and who expresses the 

vital needs of his age. Moreover, the more profoundly he 
understands the direction of historical development and 

{1 Marx and Engels, Selected Correspondence, p. 264. 
2 Karl Marx, The Poverty of Philosophy, p. 72. 


the more he strives to act in that direction, the more sig- 
nificant and effective will be his influence upon history. 

Although repudiating the idealist notion that outstanding 
personalities can make history at will, Marxism acknow- 
ledges not only the immense significance of the creative 
activity and revolutionary energy of the masses but also 
of the initiative of individuals, of outstanding people, and 
also of organisations and parties, which can establish close 
links with the progressive class, with the masses, awaken 
their consciousness, show them the correct path of strug- 
gle and help them to organise. “Not a single class in his- 
tory,” Lenin wrote, “has achieved power without produc- 
ing its political leaders, its prominent representatives able 
to organise a movement and lead it.” 

Without capable and energetic leaders the leading class 
cannot win political supremacy, nor hold and consolidate 
its power and successfully fight against its political op- 

As history has demonstrated, different types of leaders 
emerged on the scene at different times depending on the 
character of the age and of the classes which promote 
them. Every class, as a rule, produces a certain type of 
leader which fits its social character. What is more, one 
and the same class may at various periods in its develop- 
ment have leaders of different types. We know, for ins- 
tance, that when capitalism was in its cradle and the bour- 
geoisie was still an ascending class, fighting for social 
changes that were progressive for that period, there was 
a galaxy of outstanding political leaders and_ thinkers, 
“giants of thought and action”, whose names have gone 
down in world history. When bourgeois society became 
established, however, and the interests of the bourgeoisie 
entered into irreconcilable contradiction with the interests 
of the masses, a reactionary type of leader became charac- 
teristic of the bourgeois class. The reactionary nature and 
anti-humanism of the contemporary bourgeoisie as a social 
class is matched by the reactionary character of its ideol- 
ogists and leaders. The bourgeoisie today is no longer led 
by the type of great men it produced in the days of its 
youth. As Marx wrote in his review of Francois Guizot’s 

1 Lenin, Collected Works, Vol. 4, p. 370. 

pamphlet, Why did the English Revolution Succeed?, it 
is not only kings that depart but the talents of the bour- 
geoisie also. The stamp of degeneration lies not only on 
the contemporary reactionary bourgeoisie as a class but 
also on its leaders. 

On the other hand, the progressive movements of our 
day—the working-class struggle, the national liberation 
movement—give birth to really outstanding people. The 
proletarian revolution is the greatest and most profound 
social transformation in history. In it the working class 
has to perform the greatest task in the history of man- 
kind—to put an end to all exploitation and make the mo- 
mentous step from the pre-history of mankind to genuine- 
ly human history. It is not surprising, therefore, that the 
proletariat’s struggle produced a new type of leaders, or- 
ganisers and thinkers far more brilliant than any the world 
had ever known. 

As the role of the masses in history grows, so does the 
role of the leaders of popular movements. The demands 
which the leaders of mass revolutionary movements have 
to live up to steadily increase as social life becomes more 
and more involved. The greater the activity of the masses 
in history, the more urgent the need for experienced and 
mature leaders. 

Exposing the subjective-idealist, metaphysical confusion 
over the question of the people, the interrelation between 
masses, Classes, parties and leaders, Lenin wrote in his 
book, “Left-Wing” Communism—an Infantile Disorder: 
“It is common knowledge that the masses are divided into 
classes; that the masses can be contrasted with classes 
only by contrasting the vast majority in general, regard- 
less of division according to status in the social system of 
production, with categories holding a definite status in the 
social system of production; that as a rule and in most 
cases—at least in present-day civilised countries—classes 
are led by political parties; that political parties, as a gen- 
eral rule, are run by more or less stable groups composed 
of the most authoritative, influential and experienced 
members, who are elected to the most responsible positions, 
and are called leaders.””! 

1 Lenin, Collected Works, Vol. 31, p. 41. 


Since organisation is the chief means by which the work- 
ing class solves its problems, the role of leaders, of ideol- 
ogists in the revolutionary movement of the working class 
is particularly great. 

A splendid quality of the leaders of the working class 
is that their entire theoretical and organisational activity 
is indissolubly bound up with the advanced party and the 
working class, with all the people who work. The strength 
of the working-class leaders lies in their close ties with 
the broad masses, in their faith in the limitless creative 
abilities of the working people, in their faculty to draw 
upon their experience and wisdom. The truly popular lead- 
er must be selflessly devoted to the revolutionary cause 
and possess abundant practical experience of the revolu- 
tionary struggle. 

Marx, Engels and Lenin were endowed with these quali- 
ties to the full. They had outstanding powers in the theo- 
retical field, brilliant organisational ability. resolution and 
daring, an unshakeable inner conviction of the justness of 
the working-class cause, a love of the people and an inex- 
tinguishable hatred of the people’s enemies. They were 
closely linked with the masses, they taught them and they 
learned from them, generalising their great revolutionary 

Recognition of the outstanding role of leaders, who are 
capable of organising and directing the movement of the 
masses, has nothing in common with superstitious worship 
of figure-heads, with attempts to place leaders above the 
Party. The personality cult, which attributes the cause of 
historical events to the will of an outstanding personality, 
is organically alien to Marxism-Leninism. 

Marx and Engels had repeatedly pointed out that no 
personality cult should ever be allowed to develop around 
any political leader, however great his services. Lenin also 
waged a relentless struggle against the anti-Marxist con- 
ception of “the hero and the crowd”. He said that “the 
minds of tens of millions of those who are doing things 
create something infinitely loftier than the greatest genius 
can foresee”.! 

A personality cult belittles the role of the Party, and 

1 Lenin, Collected Works, Vol. 26, p. 474. 


leads to a decline in the creative activity of the Party 
masses, of all the working people. It is incompatible with 
collective leadership, which is the highest principle of 
Party leadership. Lenin resolutely opposed the slightest 
manifestation of hero-worship and frequently warned the 
Party against excessive praise of individual leaders and 
blind worship of them. 

Rejecting the personality cult, Marxism-Leninism at the 
same time resolutely opposes anarchistic negation of all 
authority and disregard for the great organising role played 
by leaders. The relations between the leaders and the work- 
ing people rest on mutual trust and common fidelity to 
the great cause of fighting imperialism and of building so- 
cialist society. 

Experienced leaders, steeled in revolutionary battles, 
have the support of the wide masses. They generalise their 
experience and, despite all difficulties and dangers. skil- 
fully effectuate the policy which is consistent with the in- 
terests of the working man. 

ob % & 

The role played by the masses and the individual in his- 
tory is the subject of sharp ideological controversy in the 
modern world. The champions of imperialism invent all 
sorts of anti-scientific conceptions to justify the division 
of society into a “ruling élite” and the “subordinate mass”, 
to divorce the working people from active political and 
social activity and thus save the crumbling capitalist sys- 
tem. “The remaining problem,” writes Irving Horowitz, 
an American historian, “is to show the business class how 
to avoid the same dismal fate, as the nobility.””! 

The ideologists of imperialism cannot conceal their fear 
of the masses and of the Marxist teaching which inspires 
them. Revealing the class essence of bourgeois theories, 
the Swiss sociologist Paul Reiwald admits that “they are 
aimed against the communist doctrine on the role of the 
people in history, which has given the masses confidence 
in their strength”? 

‘I. Horowitz, Science and Society, New York, 1956, Vol. XX, 
No. 1, p. 8. 

2 Paul Reiwald, De l’esprit des masses, Paris, 1959, p. 367. 

However, the historic successes of the Soviet people and 
of all peoples who have taken the path of socialist cons- 
truction, have dealt a crushing blow at the old prejudice 
that only the so-called upper classes, only the exploiters 
and those who serve them, can govern the country, manage 
industry and promote science and culture. The socialist 
system, having immeasurably increased the might of the 
peoples and having shown them new sources of strength, 
has demonstrated that the toiling masses are capable not 
only of assimilating all the achievements of human intel- 
lect but also of raising the economy, democracy, science 
and culture to a higher level. 

Supported by the finest force in the world, the force 
of workers and peasants, socialism is multiplying its 
strength and is becoming more and more a factor determin- 
ing the course of historical development. 

Chapter VIII 

Social life is the most involved sphere of the material 
world. Alongside material-economic and _ socio-political 
phenomena it includes diverse spiritual phenomena, or that 
which Marxism defines by the concept “social conscious- 
ness”. This chapter discusses social consciousness, describes 
its structure and sources and the role it plays in his- 
torical development, and deals with the specific features of 
individual forms of social consciousness and other related 

1. Social Psychology and Ideology. 
Social Consciousness as a Reflection 
of Social Being 
A scientific analysis of social consciousness, of its es- 
sence and structure should be based on Marx’s proposition 

that “it is not the consciousness of men that determines 
their being, but, on the contrary, their social being that 
determines their consciousness”.! This means that social 
consciousness depends on social being which engenders 
and determines it. In origin and content social conscious- 
ness is a reflection of social being, of the material basis of 

usually called the “broadest possible” in philosophy. It 
includes all forms of reflecting reality in man’s thinking, 
above all social ideas, theories, political and legal views, 

{ Marx and Engels, Selected Works, Vol. I, p. 363. 

Social consciousness is one of those categories which are 

moral, aesthetic and philosophical opinions, religious ideas, 
and so forth. The sphere of social consciousness also 
embraces social sentiments, moods, human customs and 
manners, established traditions and the psychological make- 
up of a particular nation or nationality. 

Historical materialism divides this big and intricate 
sphere of society’s spiritual life according to its structure 
into two different yet closely connected fields—social psy- 
chology and ideology. 

Social psychology is that part of social consciousness 
in which the immediate conditions of the life of men are 
reflected. It is a sphere of social sentiments, moods, con- 
cepts, emotions as well as of illusions, prejudices and tra- 
ditions that are moulded under the impact of everyday life 
of men and on the basis of their practical experience and 
personal observations. Thus, social psychology is the cons- 
ciousness of vast masses and their direct mental reaction 
to the surrounding reality. 

The specific historical conditions, in which nations, 
nationalities, classes and social groups live, engender a 
particular type of social psychology. People living in a par- 
ticular socio-economic formation have a_ specific socio- 
psychological constitution which is formed on the basis of 
given socio-economic conditions. Antonio Labriola, a prom- 
inent Italian Marxist, graphically called this “Egyptian 
world, Greek consciousness, spirit of the Renaissance, 
dominant ideas, psychology of nations, of society or of 
classes”. There is every reason to speak of the psycho- 
logical make-up of nations and nationalities which appears 
on the basis of specific historical conditions of their devel- 
opment. When we examine class-differentiated society, 
however, the principal thing is that social psychology has 
a class character. 

The material conditions of the existence of classes and 
social groups are different. Each class occupies a definite 
place in the system of relations of production and has its 
own, inherent interests. Consequently, the life of various 
classes is different and their direct impressions of the so- 
cial environment are unlike. It follows therefore, that 

1 Antonio Labriola, Essays on the Materialistic Conception of 
History, Translated by Charles H. Kerr, Chicago, 1908, p. 220. 


men’s thoughts and feelings, their notions and moods, in 
a word their social psychology, are socially determined 
and are of a class nature. This is frequently expressed in 
such concepts as “class intuition” and “class instinct”. 
Marx wrote in The 18th Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte: 
“Upon the different forms of property, upon the social 
conditions of existence, rises an entire superstructure of 
distinct and peculiarly formed sentiments, illusions, modes 
of thought and views of life. The entire class creates and 
forms them out of its material foundations and out of the 
corresponding social relations.”! 

Thus, the condition of the proletariat under capitalism 
breeds in the former a hatred for oppression and makes 
it conscious of the need to fight to improve its position. 
The joint struggle against capitalism and joint labour at 
large enterprises give rise to such traits as collectivism, 
proletarian solidarity, unity and organisation. The psychol- 
ogy of the bourgeoisie, on the other hand, is characterised 
by individualism and money-making which are the result 
of capitalist property, competition and bourgeois social 
relations. The dual position of the petty bourgeoisie under 
capitalism accounts for its political instability and vacil- 
lation from submissiveness to “Left” revolutionarism and 
adventurism. The socialist social system, which rests on 
public ownership of the means of production and relations 
of comradely co-operation between the working people by 
its very mode of life develops a new psychology, new 
thoughts, moods, sentiments and traits of character in men. 
The socialist social psychology with its sense of collectiv- 
ism, humanism and internationalism is the complete anti- 
thesis of bourgeois psychology. 

Social psychology occupies the biggest place in the 
sphere of social consciousness. What makes social psychol- 
ogy limited in character is that it expresses the interests 
of a given class still vaguely and rudimentarily and de- 
velops more spontaneously than consciously. Expressing 
chiefly the everyday and immediate interests of a class it 
does not rise to a realisation of the material and political 
conditions as conditions of the existence of a class as a 

1 Marx and Engels, Selected Works, Vol. I, p. 272. 

whole, to an understanding of the basic tasks and pros- 
pects of a particular class or society. 

At this stage social views, sentiments, opinions and 
moods of men are still expressed insufficiently clearly and 
have not reached scientific lucidity and full theoretical 
elaboration. Being the first and lowest phase of cognition 
of social reality, social psychology cannot be the basis for 
solving historical problems, for transforming social rela- 
tions. Nevertheless, despite its limited nature, social psy- 
chology plays a big part in historical development. Noting 
the significance of the psychological factor in the history 
of spiritual culture Plekhanov wrote: ‘Since we have to 
take it into account already in the history of political ins- 
titutions, not a step can be made without it in the history 
of literature, art, philosophy, and so forth.”! 

Problems of social psychology have an important bear- 
ing on the activity of progressive social forces. In organ- 
ising the working masses for the struggle against reaction 
and imperialist oppression, they should thoroughly study 
social sentiments and moods of the different groups of 
working people—of the various sections of the working 
class, peasantry, intellectuals and petty bourgeoisie—and 
rally and unite them for the common struggle. They should 
take into account not only the psychological peculiarities 
of different social groups, but also the influence they exert 
on each other, as well as the immense power of traditions 
in the sphere of social psychology. 

Another, higher stage of social consciousness is ideology. 
Ideology is a system of ideas, views and theoretical prin- 
ciples, reflecting (either correctly or incorrectly) social 
economic relations from the standpoint of a definite social 

It would be a mistake to absolutise the difference be- 
tween ideology and social psychology, insofar as in actual 
life they are united and interconnected. Both have the same 
basis—social being, the status of different classes and 
social groups in the system of social relations. To a cer- 
tain extent ideology absorbs, finds the purport of and 
processes social sentiments, moods and concepts. In their 

1G. V. Plekhanov, Selected Philosophical Works, Vol. II, p. 248 
(in Russian). 


turn social ideas and theories exert a great impact on the 
formation and development of ordinary consciousness. The 
ideology which dominates a particular society uses all the 
means at its disposal to influence the psychology of the 
oppressed class and strives to reconcile it with the exist- 
ing social relations. This is especially manifest in our “age 
of mass communications” when the press, radio, television, 
cinema and other powerful ideological media are employed 
to influence the consciousness of men. 

By conditionally dividing social consciousness into social 
psychology and ideology, we speak of its different stages— 
the ordinary and the theoretically formulated conscious- 
ness. One cannot fail to see that in the general structure of 
social consciousness these two stages are actually divided. 
The ascertainment of the distinctions between them has 
a profound theoretical meaning as well as revolutionary- 
practical significance. First, although the psychology of 
classes does exert a great influence on the appearance and 
development of social ideas and theories, it is not its only 
source. Social ideas and theories above all reflect actual 
social relations and processes, and class interests. Second, 
the distinctive feature of ideology is that in it ideas and 
views acquire an integral and theoretically elaborated char- 
acter, the character of ideological systems and concep- 
tions. Because ideology is a systematised and theoretically 
substantiated reflection of social being from the positions 
of definite social classes, it does not arise spontaneously, 
nor is it evolved by a whole class; it is created by ideolog- 
ists, or to quote Lenin “the thinking representatives of a 
class”. The ideological representatives of a class, Marx said, 
theoretically deduce the conclusions at which their class 
arrives in practice. Marxist ideology arose and developed 
not from the ordinary, spontaneous consciousness of the 
working class, but from science. “Socialism,” wrote Lenin, 
“as the ideology of the class struggle of the proletariat, 
is subject to the general conditions governing the incep- 
tion, development, and consolidation of an ideology; in 
other words, it is founded on the sum total of human 

Ideology, being a higher rung of social consciousness, 

1 Lenin, Collected Works, Vol. 6, p. 163. 
17-360 257 

reflects social relations and their contradictions with great- 
er clarity and theoretical understanding. Definite ideas, 
views and theoretical principles are expressed in ideology 
not in a scattered but in a systematised form, and are 
more comprehensive and purposeful in character. In its 
essence ideology synthesises the radical, decisive interests, 
aims and tasks of one or another social class, which are 
connected either with the consolidation and development 
of existing social relations or with their overthrow. And 
insofar as ideology in its form has a conceptualistic, theo- 
retically elaborated character, it differentiates into various 
forms: political and legal theories, moral and aesthetic 
views, philosophical doctrines, etc., which in turn reflect 
specific aspects of social being. Ideology is usually under- 
stood as a sum total of political, moral, philosophical, 
aesthetic and other ideas reflecting the interests, aims and 
tasks of a particular social class, and in a socialist society, 
those of the whole people. 

If ideology is based not on casual or ordinary, but on 
fundamental and decisive problems of social relations, then, 
in comparison with social psychology, its impact on his- 
torical development of society proves to be more decisive. 
It also plays the leading role in the general sphere of 
social consciousness. Figuratively speaking ideology forms 
the core of the entire content of social consciousness and 
influences the whole spiritual life of society with greater 
theoretical profundity and conclusiveness. 

When examining social consciousness as an intricate, 
multifaceted structure, attention should also be paid to 
the correlation between social (collective) and individual 

People’s consciousness is always social in character. It 
is a social product and remains as such as long as people 
exist. But while stressing the social character of conscious- 
ness, historical materialism does not negate the individual 
peculiarities of human thinking and psyche, ie., the spe- 
cific features of individual psychology. 

Marxism holds that there is no social consciousness 
independent of its concrete vehicles, or living individuals. 
It is impossible to imagine social consciousness as a sort 
of a mythical being hovering over society in the form of 
“universal consciousness”, a “national spirit” as philos- 


ophers-idealists Schelling and Fichte claim. It does not exist 
independently of society, classes or individuals. Individual 
consciousness is the spiritual world of a personality, the 
views, concepts and moods of a given individual, which 
are formed under the influence of personal life or condi- 
tions in which a personality is moulded and brought up, 
and also of individual peculiarities. But it cannot be lim- 
ited by the spiritual world of an individual, and in its 
ideological content is an expression of the social, class 
consciousness. The social is constantly transformed into 
the individual and is implemented through living people, 
definite personalities, while the individual, in its turn, 
uninterruptedly becomes socialised. The individual and 
the social exist only in one another and one through the 

The correlation between the social and the individual 
consciousness thus reveals the dialectics of the individual 
and universal, the many-sided spiritual bond between the 
individual and society. This dialectical unity, however, does 
not preclude contradictions. There are cases when the 
ideas and views of an individual do not coincide and even 
contradict the corresponding views of a class or social 
group. Members of one or another class may have indi- 
vidual peculiarities in their manner of thinking due to the 
specifics of their upbringing and the diverse political and 
ideological influences to which a person has been subjected 
all his life. There are numerous known instances of 
some members of the ruling exploiting class abandoning 
the positions of the class to which they had belonged by 
virtue of their social origin, and adopting the positions of 
the working people. But it also often happens that people, 
who by their social origin belong to the working class, fall 
into the orbit of bourgeois ideas, betray their class, become 
the vehicles of bourgeois ideology and desert to the camp 
of its enemy—the bourgeoisie (for instance, the reaction- 
ary leaders of Right-wing Social-Democracy, leaders of 
some trade unions in the capitalist countries). 

The Marxists-Leninists orientate themselves in their 
ideological work primarily on the consciousness of large 
groups of working people, raising it to the level of the 
advanced sections of the working class. But they also attach 
great significance to individual propaganda and agitation. 

17* 259 

Thus, we have examined the sphere of social conscious- 
ness from the point of view of its structure and the various 
levels of correlation between social psychology and _ ide- 
ology, and social and individual consciousness. But it is no 
less important scientifically to ascertain the sources of so- 
cial ideas, their origin and development. This is one of the 
cardinal problems of historical materialism, and it has to 
be fully apprehended before it will be possible correctly 
to understand the Marxist doctrine of the role of ideas in 
the history of social development and the laws governing 
the ideological process in general and the development of 
different forms of social consciousness, in particular. On 
all these issues pre-Marxist philosophers and sociologists 
adhered to idealist views. The proponents of avowedly 
theologic trends depicted the ideas and theories of the rul- 
ing classes as divine commands, as expression of divine 
reason. Hegel, an objective idealist, considered that in the 
course of history ideas developed in their own bosom 
through their own negation. His “Philosophy of the Spirit” 
is the sum total of political, legal, moral, philosophical and 
other ideas which he treats as stages in the development 
of the “Absolute Idea”. Other philosophers and sociologists 
saw the source of social views and theories exclusively in 
the thinking of ideologists. 

It follows therefore that idealist philosophers contend 
that social consciousness develops and moves due to its 
own force, that it springs from itself and therefore is the 
product of thinking itself. The origin and development of 
social ideas is viewed as a simple filiation of ideas, in the 
process of which new ideas rise from the preceding ones 
through gemmation. Juridical ideas may flow from juridi- 
cal ones, religious from religious and philosophical from 
preceding philosophical views. Each form of social con- 
sciousness, the idealists hold, follows its own line of de- 
velopment which is independent of society’s material life. 
The assertions of the idealists about the absolute inde- 
pendence of ideas, their complete separation from the 
material life of society, economic relations and the class 
struggle provide no opportunity scientifically to explain 
the sources of social consciousness and the role it plays 
in social development. On the contrary, they cultivate the 


illusion that ideas create social reality, the entire history 
of the people. 

In contrast to these perverted conceptions, Marxism has 
scientifically proved that the source of social ideas and 
theories should be sought not in the abstract sphere of 
pure thinking but in material life and that social con- 
sciousness appears and develops on the basis of social being. 
“Consciousness,” Marx wrote, “must be explained rather 
from the contradictions of material life, from the existing 
conflict between the social productive forces and the rela- 
tions of production.”! 

The material conditions of the life of society, economic 
relations and the position of classes are the basic causes 
determining social consciousness, for these factors define 
the interests of men, pose problems before them and give 
social consciousness definite purposefulness. Social ideas, 
sentiments and conceptions are the subjective expression 
of men’s objective interests. If they cease to correspond 
to the actual interests of classes and social groups, they 
lose their former significance and are ousted by new ideas 
and conceptions which are more consistent with the real 
interests of people. “The ‘idea’,” wrote Marx, “always dis- 
graced itself insofar as it differed from the ‘interest’.’2 

In content and specific forms social consciousness is his- 
torical. There is none and cannot be any supra-historical 
or supra-human social consciousness in the form of mythical 
“national spirit” or ‘world reason”; there is only the con- 
sciousness of a definite historical epoch. With the establish- 
ment of capitalist society the dominant ideas, conceptions 
and moods of the epoch of the feudal-estate system gave 
way to others because of the revolutionary change in so- 
ciety’s relations of production caused by the replacement 
of the old social formation by a more progressive one. The 
victory of socialism and the emergence and development 
of a qualitatively new, socialist social consciousness creat- 
ed the profoundest change in all spheres of social 

Hence, social ideas and conceptions change together with 

1 Marx and Engels, Selected Works, Vol. I, p. 363. 
2K. Marx and F. Engels, The Holy Family or Critique of Critical 
Critique, p. 109. 


the changes in the economic basis of society. Political, 
legal, moral, philosophical, aesthetic and religious views 
and theories in their principal content reflect the society’s 
economic basis. “Just as man’s knowledge reflects nature,” 
Lenin wrote, “(i.e., developing matter), which exists inde- 
pendently of him, so man’s social knowledge (i.e., his 
various views and doctrines—philosophical, religious, pol- 
itical and so forth) reflects the economic system of so- 
ciety.”! Lenin always noted, however, that the reflection 
of social being in social consciousness was not a mechan- 
ical act, but a complex dialectical process. Social being does 
not directly determine ideological forms, it does so mostly 
indirectly and only in the final count. There are the class 
struggle in society, political relations, state and legal su- 
perstructure, national interrelations, and other intermediate 
links between economic relations and the ideological 
superstructure. Ideological reflection presupposes dialecti- 
cal interaction of the object and the subject, in which not 
only economy influences ideology, but ideology also 
influences economic relations. Characterising the specific 
features of the spiritual development of society, Engels 
wrote: “Here economy creates nothing anew, but it deter- 
mines the way in which the thought material found in 
existence is altered and further developed, and that too for 
the most part indirectly.” 

Some philosophers and sociologists present materialist 
interpretation of history in a deliberately vulgarised and 
exaggerated form as “economic materialism’. They assert, 
for instance, that historical materialism allegedly reduces 
the whole spiritual development of society to a material 
process and views complex ideological conceptions as an 
automatic reflex of economic relations. The founders of 
Marxism had always opposed the vulgar sociological inter- 
pretation of the history of spiritual culture. Marx noted in 
Capital that it is easier to reduce spiritual phenomena to 
their earthly core, than to deduce from this core the intri- 
cate system of spiritual relations which form a kaleido- 
scopic, sometimes odd and even fantastic picture. But to 
understand the laws of society’s spiritual development it 

1 Lenin, Collected Works, Vol. 19, p. 25. 
2 Marx and Engels, Selected Works, Vol. II, p. 495. 


is necessary in the long run to follow this difficult road 
of deducing the phenomena of spiritual life from _ its 
material foundations. “The latter method,” Marx wrote, “‘is 
the only materialistic, and therefore the only scientific 

Deduction of corresponding ideological forms from par- 
ticular relations of real life entails a profound concrete 
analysis of historical periods and formations, an analysis 
of the historical regularities and relations peculiar to these 
formations, and of the interaction of the different aspects 
of social life. Consequently, to grasp the ideology of a 
given historical epoch it is necessary to ascertain the 
nature of its economic relations, the class struggle and 
the political relations in society, the interaction of all 
ideological forms and the state of the spiritual culture as 
a whole. 

Lenin repeatedly came out against vulgar sociologism 
in explaining social ideas and the history of spiritual cul- 
ture. In this connection he made some interesting remarks 
in V. Shulyatikov’s book Justification of Capitalism in West 
European Philosophy from Descartes to E. Mach. A pupil 
of Bogdanov, who was a disciple of Mach, Shulyatikov 
deduced all philosophical doctrines of the new times—the 
systems of Descartes, Spinoza, Leibniz, Kant and those of 
the English and French materialists—directly from the 
stages of capitalist production, from the state of the pro- 
ductive forces. He regarded “matter”, “substance”, ‘‘idea” 
and other philosophical concepts as nothing more than 
conventional signs for denoting classes and social groups 
in bourgeois society. Lenin characterises these exercises 
in vulgarisation as “ridiculous”, ‘absurd’, “empty phrases” 
and “a caricature of materialism in history”.2 At the same 
time Lenin showed how to analyse ideological phenomena 
scientifically and materialistically. In the progressive phi- 
losophical theories of the past, which, in the social 
respect, had an historical significance in the struggle 
against moribund social relations, Lenin underscored all 
instances of objective truth and scientific cognition of 

{ Karl Marx, Capital, Vol. I, p. 373. 
2 Lenin, Collected Works, Vol. 38, p. 502. 


2. Class Character of Social Consciousness. 
Scientific and Unscientific Ideology 

In a class society, social ideas are always of a class 
nature. Each social class works out its own system of 
views which express its position, interests and needs. Tho- 
mas Hobbes, a 17th century materialist philosopher, wrote 
in the period of the English bourgeois revolution that if 
geometric axioms went contrary to the interests of men 
they probably would have been refuted.! Quoting Hobbes, 
Lenin stressed that, however abstract or veiled, the ideo- 
logical struggle in a class society is a clash between the 
contradictory and generally irreconciliable interests of 
the opposing classes. Ideas have always reflected “the needs, 
interests, strivings, and aspirations of a certain class”.2 

The reflection of social being in social consciousness in 
a society divided into opposing classes is always of a class 
nature. The ideas and theories of different classes in their 
own way reflect economic relations and social reality. The 
history of ideologies shows that in their doctrines the 
spokesmen of the classes which are leaving the historical 
scene have usually distorted the course and the prospects 
of social development and defended the obsolete and the 
reactionary. Ideologists of the progressive classes strove 
correctly to interpret social relations and expressed views 
and theories which promoted the historical progress. But 
in the pre-Marxist period members of progressive classes, 
owing to their class narrow-mindedness, were unable to 
create a consistently scientific social theory which could 
become the foundation for the revolutionary remaking of 
society. This was done only by Karl Marx and Frederick 
Engels, ideologists and leaders of the proletariat. 

It is clear, therefore, that the class character and social 
conditionality of ideology are not an “invention” of Marx- 
ism, as its opponents claim, but rest on an objective foun- 
dation. If economic relations of society, Engels notes, “pre- 
sent themselves in the first place as interests’, this means 

' See Thomas Hobbes, Leviathan or the Matter, Forme and Power 
of a Commonwealth Ecclesiastical and Civil, p. 68. 

2 Lenin, Collected Works, Vol. 6, p. 434. 

3 Marx and Engels, Selected Works, Vol. I, p. 622. 


that the economic material interests of a class are reflected 
in its political, legal, philosophical and other doctrines and 
theories. Two diametrically opposite ideologies reflecting 
the views of the exploiting and the oppressed classes are 
clearly discernible in a society consisting of antagonistic 
classes. But in any epoch the dominating ideology is that 
of the class that holds dominating economic and political 
positions. “The class,” wrote Marx and Engels, “which is 
the ruling material force of society, is at the same time its 
ruling intellectual force.’! The class which possesses the 
means of material production and wields political author- 
ity dictates its world outlook to society with the help of 
all the available means of ideological influence: schools, 
the Church, the press, works of art, radio and television. 
The bourgeois ideology, dominant under capitalism, is 
opposed by the ideology of the proletariat, which is 
scientifically and theoretically formulated in Marxism- 

The most profound expression of the class character of 
social ideas and theories is the partisanship of ideology. 
Bourgeois ideologists usually reject the party character of 
ideology and portray their views and theories as “general”, 
“supra-class” or “universal”. But such declarations manifest 
either illusion or hypocrisy. 

More often than not the terms “non-partisanship” and 
“‘supra-class” are used to camouflage partisanship and af- 
filiation with the party of the exploiters. That was why 
Lenin wrote that “the non-party idea is a bourgeois idea. 
The party idea is a socialist idea”’.? 

In contrast to the false objectivism and hypocritical as- 
sertions of bourgeois ideologists about the supra-class 
ideology, Marxism frankly and openly recognises the class, 
party character of ideology and declares for all to hear 
that socialist ideology serves the interests of the prole- 
tariat and all working masses. 

The Marxist party principle of ideology has always been 
attacked by overt and covert opponents of Marxism. These 
attacks are particularly vicious today when the socialist 

! Marx and Engels, The German Ideology, p. 60. 
2 Lenin, Collected Works, Vol. 10, p. 79. 


and bourgeois ideologies have clashed in bitter struggle. 
The main thesis advanced by the present-day opponents 
of Marxism is that partisanship is incompatible with science, 
that the truth and party spirit are conceptions that exclude 
one another. Bourgeois Right-wing reformist opponents of 
Marxism assert that recognition of the class character of 
social theories allegedly contradicts their scientific objec- 
tivity. If ideology is of a class character, they say, then the 
class factor leads to “one-sidedness” and subjectivism, to 
a distortion of the truth. In this respect the most typical 
arguments are advanced by Karl Mannheim, Max Scheler, 
Helmuth Plessner and other exponents of the bourgeois 
“sociology of knowledge’. In Ideology and Utopia Mann- 
heim asserts that science is objective because of its alleged 
non-party nature, and ideology, being of a class character, 
is always subjective and is either deliberate, or at best 
unconscious falsification of social relations. The content 
of science are laws, theories and hypotheses, while ideol- 
ogy is made up of doctrines, prophesies and myths justi- 
fying the selfish interests of a given class. Considering that 
all ideologies are socially conditioned, Mannheim declared, 
they reflect the social relations in the crooked mirror of 
class interest. Taking that bourgeois ideology is subjec- 
tive, then Marxism, as the ideology of the proletariat, in 
equal measure expresses only the subjective interests and 
aims of the working class, he claims. In this way the 
Marxist doctrine about the social conditionality of cogni- 
tion of social phenomena is directed against Marxism 
itself. According to this opinion, the objective truth in so- 
cial sciences must be somewhere half-way between the 
classes or above classes. Mannheim seeks to find a social 
stratum which by virtue of its social position could lay 
claim to playing the role of an unbiased vehicle of truth 
and arrived at the conclusion that in a bourgeois society 
it was the intelligentsia. 

In recent years theories about the “withering away of 
ideology” and the “deideologising” of social science and 
social life have come into vogue with the ideologists of 
modern capitalism. They claim that as a result of the 
scientific and technical revolution “technical-rational think- 
ing”, which will deideologise politics, philosophy and art 
and thus put “an end to ideology”, is asserting itself in 


the 20th century. They do not conceal the fact that talk 
about the “end of ideology” is spearheaded chiefly against 
Marxism-Leninism. It is perfectly clear that the theory of 
“deideologising” contemporary society is itself propaganda 
of a definite ideology, namely, the ideology of the bour- 
geoisie. Its purport is to sow doubt about the scientific 
veracity of Marxism-Leninism which the ideologists of 
anti-communism define only as “ideological utopia’, “so- 
cial mythology”, “pseudo-religion”, and so forth. Follow- 
ing the lead of bourgeois philosophers, the revisionists 
demand that Marxism be “deideologised” and social science 
“freed” from ideology, and reject the Marxist party 
principle as “obsolete’”’. 

Criticising Marxism on these issues, its opponents often 
refer to the negative use of such terms as “ideology” and 
“ideologisation” by the founders of Marxism. Marx and 
Engels did frequently use these terms in a negative sense 
to characterise “false consciousness.” “Ideology,” wrote 
Engels, ‘is a process accomplished by the so-called thinker 
consciously, it is true, but with false consciousness.”’! What 
did Marx and Engels have in view when they called ideol- 
ogy a “false consciousness”? They used this concept of 
ideology to criticise the bourgeois consciousness of their 
time, that limited class consciousness which indulges in 
deceit and self-deceit, which draws a false perspective of 
historical development and presents the narrow egoistic 
interests of the bourgeoisie as the interests of all people. 
It was for this reason that the founders of Marxism defined 
the ideology of the reactionary classes as false conscious- 
ness which distorts real sociai relations. The socialist 
ideology of the proletariat is a scientifically grounded 
ideology, an objective truth basically differing from the 
false bourgeois consciousness. With the emergence of the 
materialist understanding of history, Engels noted, “‘social- 
ism became a science”. 

Lenin in his works frequently mentions the concept 
“scientific ideology”, primarily in characterising the Marxist 
doctrine. Socialist ideology, he stresses, “presupposes a high 
level of scientific development, demands scientific work” .2 

1 Marx and Engels, Selected Correspondence, p. 459. 
2 Lenin, Collected Works, Vol. 6, p. 163. 


In Materialism and Empirio-Criticism he writes about 
a “scientific ideology (as distinct, for instance, from 
religious ideology)” to which “there corresponds an objec- 
tive truth, absolute nature’’.! 

It is clear, therefore, that the attempts of the bourgeois 
philosophers and revisionists to justify “deideologisation” 
of Marxism by quoting the founders of Marxism them- 
selves, are absolutely groundless. 

The contraposition of science and ideology, and ideology 
and reality is a bourgeois conception intended to hide 
the actual contraposition of scientific and unscientific 

What is the actual correlation between ideology and 
science, social conditionality and objective truth in 
cognition of social phenomena? 

The ideology of the reactionary classes is not scientific 
in its essence and is incapable, owing to the interests and 
positions of the theoreticians of these classes, of scientifi- 
cally analysing social reality and the trends of its develop- 
ment. Such is the ideology of the modern imperialist bour- 
geoisie. In all its theories whether economic, political, 
moral, philosophical or aesthetic it seeks to express the 
interests of the bourgeoisie which is historically a doomed 
class, hostile to genuine social progress and to the objec- 
tively truthful cognisance of society and the laws of its 

Marxism-Leninism, the ideology of the revolutionary 
proletariat, which correctly analyses social relations and 
the prospects of historical development, is the direct op- 
posite of the anti-scientific and reactionary ideology of the 
modern bourgeoisie. The class character of the Marxist- 
Leninist teaching does not reject, but, on the contrary, 
presupposes scientific, objective cognition of reality. 

First, the class interest of the proletariat coincides with 
the objective course of history and is in line with historical 
progress. The proletariat is vitally interested in obtaining 
the fullest and deepest understanding of the laws of the 
objective world and in thoroughly studying social proc- 
esses. “The more ruthlessly and disinterestedly science 
proceeds,” Engels wrote, “the more it finds itself in har- 

! Lenin, Collected Works, Vol. 14, p. 136. 

mony with the interests and aspirations of the workers.”! 
The epochal events of our times—the victory of the Great 
October Socialist Revolution and communist construction 
in the U.S.S.R., the formation of the world socialist system, 
the steady spread of the revolutionary movement of the 
oppressed peoples—are irrefutable proof of the scientific 
truth of Marxism-Leninism. Here, as in other sciences, 
social practice is the only criterion of truth. 

Second, in analysing the question of partisanship and 
scientific objectivity of Marxism-Leninism, it should be 
borne in mind that the aspirations, aims and tasks of the 
working class coincide in all vital issues with the interests 
of all working people. The proletariat cannot have any 
egoistic class sectarian aspirations that contradict the in- 
terests of the masses. Lenin had repeatedly pointed out 
that the Communists uphold party principles in the interests 
of the broad masses and their emancipation from all sorts 
of bourgeois illusions. 

Marxism-Leninism, as the scientific ideology of the 
working people, is unity of class interests and science, of 
partisanship and truth. 

The Marxist-Leninist teaching about the class character 
of ideology calls the Communists consistently to uphold 
the interests of the working people and vigorously unmask 
hostile reactionary ideology. Nevertheless, the principle of 
the communist partisanship of ideology is profoundly 
dialectical and has nothing in common with schematism, 
stereotypeness or one-sidedness. The class nature of ideol- 
ogy manifests itself in different ways in different ideolog- 
ical forms in accordance with their specific features. Polit- 
ical ideology, for example, has a particularly clear-cut 
class nature, for political theories express the immediate 
economic interests of social classes. Partisanship in philos- 
ophy is of a more involved nature because philosophy 
alongside the ideological aspect of world outlook of different 
classes and social groups also includes the aspect of scien- 
tific and philosophical cognition of reality. At the same 
time, the struggle between progressive and reactionary 
philosophical ideas, between materialism and idealism, in 

1 Marx and Engels, Selected Works, Vol. II, p. 402. 

the final count reflects the position and the struggle of 
different classes. Partisanship in art and literature is still 
more specific and multifaceted and is discerned only as 
a result of a concrete-historical and artistic analysis of 
works of art and literature. And yet the subjective political 
views of a particular writer or artist do not necessarily 
coincide with the objective content of his work (as in the 
works of Balzac or Lev Tolstoi, for example). 

The Marxist approach to an analysis of ideological phe- 
nomena is equally hostile both to dogmatism and sectar- 
ianism. It requires careful consideration of all that is 
valuable in philosophical, ethical, artistic and other works 
coupled with precise definition of their ideological direc- 

Marxism recognises no compromise between opposing 
ideologies. Lenin wrote: “The only choice is—either bour- 
geois or socialist ideology. There is no middle course (for 
mankind has not created a ‘third’ ideology, and, more- 
over, in a society torn by class antagonisms there can 
never be a non-class or any above-class ideology). Hence, 
to belittle the socialist ideology in any way, to turn aside 
from it in the slightest degree means to. strengthen 
bourgeois ideology.”’! 

The ideological struggle in the international arena is 
becoming more acute in present-day conditions. The greater 
the successes of socialism, the greater become the con- 
tradictions of world capitalism, and the more astute become 
the methods employed by ideologists of imperialism in the 
Struggle against communism. Bourgeois propaganda is 
endeavouring to conceal the antagonism and the vices of 
modern state-monopoly capitalism, blunt the political 
consciousness of the working people and paralyse their 
will to fight for socialism. It seeks to inculcate the masses 
with individualism, to lead them away from politics, and 
from the solution of key social problems. Anti-communism 
has become the leitmotif of imperialist ideology. 

Fully aware that direct anti-Soviet attacks coupled with 
crude anti-communist demagogy cannot produce any 
results in the ideological struggle, many politicians and 
ideologists of the contemporary capitalist world are resort- 

1 Lenin, Collected Works, Vol. 5, p. 384. 

ing to more flexible forms of struggle against communism. 
In recent years the “doctrine of peaceful coexistence of two 
ideologies” and tactics of “building bridges” between cap- 
italism and socialism have become current among the 
bourgeois and Right-wing socialist ideologists. Some bour- 
geois ideologists claim that in the contemporary epoch the 
development of capitalism and socialism is following the 
line of “convergence” (growing resemblance) which will 
result in their “synthesis”, a fusion into a “single 
industrial society”. 

The aim of these ideas is to extend the principle of 
peaceful coexistence between capitalist and socialist states 
to the sphere of ideology and to interpret it as coexistence 
of capitalist and socialist ideologies. To achieve this the 
champions of “ideological coexistence” demand that Com- 
munists reject ideological struggle, and are intensifying 
the “export” of bourgeois ideology into socialist countries 
calculating that this will result in the ideological “erosion” 
of communism. 

Recognising that the principle of peaceful coexistence 
is the foundation of the foreign policy of socialist coun- 
tries, Marxism-Leninism at the same time regards it as a 
form of class struggle between capitalism and socialism 
in the international arena, as a class struggle embracing 
political, economic and ideological spheres. Therefore 
there can be no “synthesis” of bourgeois and _ socialist 
ideologies, for in practice this would have signified a be- 
trayal of the interests of the working masses, their demo- 
bilisation in the struggle against imperialism. In all cir- 
cumstances, the struggle against bourgeois ideology must 
be uncompromising, because it is a class struggle, a strug- 
gle for man, for his dignity and freedom, a struggle to 
invigorate the positions of socialism and communism, in 
the interests of the international working class. 

3. Relative Independence of Ideology. 
The Role of Ideas in Social Development 

All social ideas and views—social consciousness as a 
whole—originate and develop on the basis of economic 
conditions and in this sense they have no history that is 


independent of the history of social development. Such is 
the basic conclusion of historical materialism concerning 
the origin and development of social consciousness. But 
the Marxist conception of society’s spiritual life is not con- 
fined to this conclusion. We have already pointed out that 
ideology is ultimately determined by economic develop- 
ment, that there is a range of intermediary links between 
the economy and ideology. This means that social ideas 
and theories are to an extent independent of society’s 
economic basis, that they have a certain amount of inde- 
pendence which, in Marxist terminology, is known as 
relative independence of ideology. Historical materialism 
in no way identifies the processes taking place in society’s 
ideological development with those occurring in economic 
development. The sphere of the history of ideas has its 
specific laws, its inner logic. Speaking of this peculiarity 
of the ideological process, Engels wrote: “Every ideology 
...once it has arisen, develops in connection with the 
given concept-material, and develops this material furth- 
er; otherwise it would not be an ideology, that is, occu- 
pation with thoughts as with independent entities, devel- 
oping independently and subject only to their own laws.”! 

Thus ideology develops not only on the basis of a 
general historical law according to which social being 
gives rise to and determines social consciousness, but also 
on the basis of a specific law typical of ideological devel- 
opment itself, of its ability to develop in line with its own 
specific laws, by virtue of its inner logic. 

This thesis of historical materialism is very important 
for correctly understanding the history of mankind’s spi- 
ritual culture, the development and interaction of different 
ideological forms, and particularly for correctly under- 
standing the role of ideas in social development. It guards 
us against vulgar sociologism, schematism and simplifica- 

The relative independence of ideology is manifested first 
and foremost in the continuity of man’s spiritual devel- 
opment. Each new ideological system, being in content a 
reflection of society’s economic relations, in its form is a 
continuation of the preceding development of thought and 

1 Marx and Engels, Selected Works, Vol. II, p. 397. 

depends on the accumulated store of knowledge, ideas and 
concepts. Social ideas and theories do not arise from 
scratch in every new epoch. They develop on the basis of 
the ideological material of the preceding epochs, under 
the impact of the preceding stages of ideological develop- 
ment, and are directly related to them. Thus there is an 
uninterrupted line of ideological development in all the 
spheres of social consciousness—in philosophy, art, morals, 
science, etc. 

“The ideologist who deals with history,” Engels wrote, 
“...thus possesses in every sphere of science material 
which has formed itself independently out of the thought 
of previous generations and has gone through its own in- 
dependent process of development in the brains of these 
successive generations.”! 

The successive development of ideology is not isolated 
from the economic development of society, and in the final 
count it is based on it. But the history of ideological 
development and the periods of its rise and decline do not 
fully coincide with those of economic development. This 
is evidenced by numerous facts from the history of 
mankind’s spiritual culture, and therein the relative 
independence of ideology is manifested. 

Ideological continuity is also linked with the class 
character of society. Various social classes draw diverse 
ideological material from the thought of previous genera- 
tions. The progressive social classes turn to the progres- 
sive theories of the past and discard the reactionary ideas 
that have outlived themselves. Their ideology includes, in 
a reappraised form, the positive heritage of the past. 
Marxism-Leninism, being the world outlook of the most 
revolutionary social class, has absorbed all that was best 
and most progressive in the ideas, theories and scientific 
achievements of the past epochs. Communist morality in- 
cludes ideas of humanism and aspirations to freedom, and 
moral standards common to all mankind, cultivated by 
the masses in the course of the centuries in their struggle 
against the social oppression and moral vices. Soviet lit- 
erature rests on the progressive humanistic and realistic 
traditions of the Russian literature of the 19th century. 

{ Marx and Engels, Selected Works, Vol. Ii, pp. 497-98. 
18-360 273 

Progressives in all countries deeply respect the cultural 
heritage of their own and other peoples. Being interna- 
tionalists, they are patriots and best representatives of 
their nation. 

The reactionary social classes, on the contrary, draw 
reactionary theories from the ideological heritage of the 
past adapting them to their own class interests. That is 
why the ideologists of the outgoing classes seek to revive 
all that is obsolete and anti-popular discarding or falsi- 
fying the progressive cultural heritage of the past. Thus, 
the political ideology of the present-day imperialist bour- 
geoisie makes use of the reactionary political ideas of the 
past—of racialism, Malthusianism, and the elite theory. 
The idealistic trends in contemporary bourgeois philos- 
ophy rest on the reactionary philosophical theories of the 
past. Neo-Thomism has its historical roots in the scho- 
lasticism of Thomas Aquinas, neo-positivism in Machism 
and 19th century positivism, existentialism in the 
irrational philosophy of the past. 

The Marxist-Leninist teaching of cultural continuity is 
of basic significance for the construction of a new, social- 
ist society. Lenin repeatedly pointed out that socialist cul- 
ture does not rise on an empty place; it is the further 
development of the best specimens, traditions and results 
of past culture. It is not a nihilistic attitude to the cultur- 
al heritage, but the assimilation of all that is valuable 
and progressive, and creative reassessment of mankind’s 
cultural achievements—such is a law-governed process of 
the cultural revolution during the transition from the old 
to the new society. This is illustrated by the experience 
of socialist construction in the U.S.S.R. 

The relative independence of ideology also finds expres- 
sion in the fact that social ideas and theories can outpace 
the economic development of society. 

Progressive social theories, proceeding from the study 
of realities and disclosing the urgent needs of society, can 
scientifically foresee the basic trends in historical develop- 
ment. The world outlook of progressive classes and social 
groups always displayed historical optimism, a striving to 
foresee the results of their activity, to take a look into the 
future. Such traits were also typical of the ideas and theo- 
ries of the bourgeois class in the period of its rise, of the 


ideologists of revolutionary democracy and proponents of 
utopian socialism. But these instances when the ideas and 
theories of progressive pre-Marxist ideologists outpaced 
reality were very limited and frequently erroneous owing 
to their unscientific view of the historical process. The 
Marxist social theory was the first to base the prediction 
of historical development on a scientific footing. It could 
do so on the basis of scientific cognition of objective real- 
ity, of the laws and trends of social development. Hav- 
ing arrived at the basic conclusion that capitalism will 
inevitably fall and communism will be established, the 
Marxist doctrine more than a century ago scientifically 
determined the course of social development. The scientific 
prognosis has been proved by the concrete history of 

Social consciousness, however, has a tendency to lag 
behind social being. The survivals of the past persist with 
especial tenacity in the sphere of social psychology, where 
customs and traditions, deep-rooted opinions, sentiments 
and conceptions play a big role. They possess a tremen- 
dous force of inertia. “The tradition of all the dead gener- 
ations,” Marx wrote, “weighs like a nightmare on the 
brain of the living.”! We know that some sections of the 
proletariat find it very difficult to rid themselves of bour- 
geois illusions and prejudices. Small-proprietor mentality 
and prejudices, with which a systematic struggle has to 
be waged, still endure under socialism. 

The lag of social consciousness behind social being is 
not confined to the sphere of social psychology alone. It 
is also inherent in ideology, particularly in the ideas and 
theories of the outgoing social classes. Reactionary ideas 
(religious, for instance) are highly conservative and pre- 
vail long after the historical conditions engendering them 
have disappeared. 

Thus, the history of society’s spiritual development con- 
tains concrete facts demonstrating the relative independence 
of ideology, and its ability to develop in line with its 
specific laws which operate within the limits of the gene- 
ral dependence on _ society’s economic relations. This 
gives rise to the question: what are the causes of the 

{ Marx and Engels, Selected Works, Vol. I, p. 247. 
18* 275 

relative independence of ideology, and how this feature 
in the development of social consciousness can be 

First of all, it is necessary to deal with such a gnosio- 
logical cause as the nature of consciousness itself, its 
relative independence with regard to matter. For its con- 
tent in general, consciousness is a reflection of being, of 
the material world. Social consciousness is a reflection of 
social being, of society’s material life at a specific histori- 
cal stage. In both instances this reflection is not a meta- 
physical, passive act. It has a complex dialectical charac- 
ter, and because of this, consciousness invariably acquires 
an active character. 

The consciousness of men is primarily a product of 
society’s historical development which rests on experience, 
the material and productive activity of people directed at 
promoting the productive forces, conquering nature and 
making it serve the interests of man. In his well-known 
theses about Feuerbach, Marx used this vigorous human 
activity, practical experience, to explain the activity of 

Consciousness is secondary in its content because it 
reflects material reality. But it does not simply copy reali- 
ty, it strives to cognise, comprehend and penetrate into 
its essence, and in a sense ideally to transform it. As a 
result of this activity of consciousness, the ideological 
reflection of society’s economic basis is to a degree indepen- 
dent of this basis. Idealists absolutise this independence 
of consciousness and go as far as to claim the pre-emin- 
ence of the spiritual over the material. Historical mate- 
rialism, however, does not regard this independence as 
absolute, but as relative and restricted with certain limits, 
for in the final count, social consciousness always depends 
on social being. 

Thus the specific features of consciousness itself, its 
dialectical nature and its activity are the principal cause 
of ideology’s relative independence which will always exist. 
To this should be added the influence exerted by the divi- 
sion of labour into mental and physical at certain stages 
of social development. In the process of transition from 
primitive society to class society, at the low stage of 
economic development, the further development of so- 



ciely’s productive forces, the state and law and the crea- 
tion of science and art were all possible, as Engels had 
said, only on the basis of division of labour between the 
mass engaged in manual labour and the few privileged 
managing production, trade and state affairs and occupy- 
ing themselves with art and science.! 

The division of mental and physical labour isolated 
spiritual production from material production and impart- 
ed a semblance of the former’s complete independence 
from society’s material life. In the further course of histor- 
ical development, differentiation spread to the sphere of 
mental labour. Each different ideological form gave rise 
to a definite group of ideologists who elaborated the ideo- 
logical systems of the ruling class. Specialists in law, po- 
litics, philosophy, religion and arts appeared. The relative 
independence of ideology does not disappear with 
the transition from a class to a classless society. It 
remains a law of the ideological process. In communist 
society, the relative independence of ideology merely disem- 
barrasses itself of the ugly forms engendered by the dis- 
tinction between mental and physical labour and_ its 
limited class character. In communist society, the activity 
of ideas and consciousness and their influence on all the 
aspects of social life will substantially increase. The spirit- 
ual culture of communism will grow richer and more 
variegated both in form and content. 

Historical materialism’s thesis on the relative independ- 
ence of ideology is very important in gaining a _ correct 
understanding of historical development, of the interac- 
tion between the various aspects of social life. The relative 
independence of ideology manifests itself primarily in 
the active role of ideas and theories, in their converse in- 
fluence on the economic basis of society. Arising on the 
basis of social being, ideas influence social being because 
of their relative independence and are a most important 
force of historical development. The dialectical-material- 
istic understanding of the causes and motive factors of 
history is by no means limited to the recognition of only 
one cause—the economic factor. Explaining the essence 
of the materialistic understanding of history, Engels 

{ See Frederick Engels, Anti-Dihring, p. 250. 

wrote: ‘Political, juridical, philosophical, religious, literary, 
artistic, etc., development is based on economic develop- 
ment. But all these influence one another and also the 
economic basis. It is not that the economic situation is 
the only cause, solely active, while everything else has 
only passive effect. There is, rather, interaction on the 
basis of economic necessity, which ultimately always paves 
the way for itself.’””! 

Recognition of the active role of ideas and theories and 
of human sentiments, desires, aspirations and will, in 
short, of consciousness in general, is one of the corner- 
stones of Marxist social science. In the early period of his 
activity, when he was becoming a proletarian revolution- 
ary, Marx wrote: “Material force must be overcome by 
material force, but theory too becomes a material force 
as soon as it grips the masses.’’2 

Ideas are secondary because they arise on the basis of 
social being. But they are not at all secondary considering 
the role they play in historical development. Ideas arise 
precisely for the purpose of serving people’s social 
requirements, their historical activity. 

The opponents of Marxism usually depict Marxism in 
a deliberately coarsened and vulgarised form as ‘‘econom- 
ic determinism” which allegedly negates the ideological 
motives of human activity. Such an idea of Marxism has 
nothing in common with the scientific revolutionary 
theory of Marxism. Actually, however, it is impossible to 
negate the active role played by ideological motives in 
historical development, particularly when speaking of 
ideas reflecting the urgent requirements of society and not 
of vague ideas or false theories that are divorced from 
reality. The history of the past century and particularly 
the contemporary epoch prove convincingly that Marxists- 
Leninists attach vast importance to the role played in his- 
tory by the subjective factor—the activity of the masses, 
progressive classes, revolutionary parties and single in- 
dividuals. The profound revolutionary transformation of 
the world on a new social basis takes place as a result of 

{ Marx and Engels, Works, Vol. 39, p. 175 (in Russian). 
2 Marx, Engels, Werke, Bd. I, Dietz Verlag, Berlin, 1958, 
S. 385. 


people’s conscious activity, in which they are guided by 
the advanced revolutionary theory. ‘‘Without revolution- 
ary theory,’ Lenin wrote, “there can be no revolutionary 

Let us analyse this question from the point of view of 
the theoretical propositions of historical materialism. 

The development of human society, like the develop- 
ment of nature, is an objective law-governed process. But 
unlike nature, this process is not spontaneous or automa- 
tic. It is the result of the people’s activity. “Everything 
which sets men in motion,” Engels said, “must go through 
their minds.”? People acting in history set themselves de- 
finite conscious aims and are guided by definite ideological 
motives. These conscious aims and ideological motives of 
human activity are historically conditioned, i.e., they have 
a definite material basis. But within the framework of 
this historical conditionality a great mobilising role is 
played by the ideological motives of historical activity. 

Lenin repeatedly emphasised that consciousness plays 
an active, effective role in social life and pointed out that 
it participates in historical development. History is made 
by people endowed with consciousness which turns into 
an essential and important factor of social life. 

By cognising the laws of social development, people can 
set themselves definite conscious aims on the basis of this 
knowledge and work for their realisation. Ideas, because 
they have appeared and exist in consciousness, express 
definite interests of people; they cannot remain within the 
framework of their ideal existence but strive for reality 
and for embodiment into practice. 

But for ideas to turn into reality there should be ma- 
terial prerequisites which are created in the course of his- 
torical development. In order to be efficient any theory 
must correspond to these real conditions, otherwise it will 
be without foundation and inevitably pass out of the pic- 
ture. The cause of success or failure of one or another 
idea lies not only in the idea itself, but, above all, in the 
prevalent social relations, in their contradictions and in 
the alignment of social forces and interests. 

1 Lenin, Collected Works, Vol. 5, p. 369. 
2 Marx and Engels, Selected Works, Vol. II, p. 393. 


How powerful or effective social ideas are depends on 
the extent to which they are endorsed by the masses. To 
become embodied in reality ideas must grip the masses, 
inspire and arouse them to action. This is possible only 
if they will express definite social interests. Ideas mean 
nothing at all if people are not interested in them. “In 
order to carry out ideas men are needed who dispose of 
a certain practical force.”! People will fight for the reali- 
sation of ideas only if they see that these ideas embody 
their real interests and only provided they are easily 
understood by the masses. 

In a class society, however, there are always two types 
of ideas—the ideas of the ruling and the oppressed classes 
expressing the diverse and opposing social interests of 
these classes. Some ideas are progressive, others reaction- 
ary, but all of them play an active role in social develop- 
ment, even if this activity does develop in opposite direc- 
tions. Reactionary social ideas and theories express the 
interests of the moribund forces of society, of the social 
classes which are on their way out. They are active in the 
negative sense. Such, for instance, are the different ideolog- 
ical theories of modern imperialism, which are aimed at 
checking the onward march of history and hampering the 
objective historical necessity of society’s transition from 
capitalism to socialism. 

In modern capitalist countries the ruling class strives to 
subject the masses to its ideological influence. For this 
purpose it uses all modern means of information and mass 
media (the press, radio, television, etc.). Quite often the 
monopoly bourgeoisie manages to confuse the conscious- 
ness of the people with the result that part of the working 
people beguiled by bourgeois propaganda may act 
contrary to their fundamental objective interests. 

Progressive ideas play a qualitatively different role in the 
life of society. Expressing the urgent needs of society, the 
interests of the progressive social classes, they help pro- 
mote social progress and accelerate and facilitate histori- 
cal development. Historical experience shows that the 
active and transforming role played by progressive ideas 

'K. Marx and F. Engels, The Holy Family or Critique of Critical 
Critique, p. 160. 


was manifested most forcibly in the epoch of social revo- 
lutions when broad masses of people were drawn _ into 
historical activity. Thus, in their time, bourgeois political 
and philosophical theories played a progressive role in 
the fight against feudalism. At that stage the interests of 
the bourgeoisie temporarily coincided with those of the 
working masses. Nevertheless, the progressive significafice 
of the ideology of the rising bourgeoisie was limited 
because of the egoistic class interests of the bourgeois 

The impact of Marxist-Leninist ideology on_ historical 
development is fundamentally different in character. The 
Marxist-Leninist theory gives concentrated expression to 
and generalises material social processes, something not 
even the most progressive theory of the past could do. It: 
grips the minds of broad masses of working people, for 
it corresponds to their basic social interests. Accordingly 
it became a mighty ideological weapon in the revolution- 
ary remaking of society. The profound revolutionary 
transformation of society which had been and is being 
accomplished in the 20th century stems from the fact that 
broad masses of working people on all continents are being 
drawn into vigorous historical activity. Their struggle for 
a new, genuinely just life is illumined by the ideas of 
Marxism-Leninism, which penetrate deep into the con- 
sciousness of millions of people and constitute a great 
social force in the present-day epoch. 

4. Forms and Specific Features 
of Social Consciousness 

The main forms of social consciousness—political ideol- 
ogy, juridical ideology, morality, religion, art, philosophy 
—arose in the process of historical development on the 
basis of definite social requirements. There were no de- 
veloped forms of social consciousness in primitive society, 
and rudiments of ideology in the shape of primitive art, 
morality and early forms of religion existed as undif- 
ferentiated, primitive consciousness, which corresponded to 
the still undeveloped social being with an extremely low 
level of the productive forces. Marx and Engels pointed 


out that in primitive society consciousness was at first 
woven into material activity. It was only after the appear- 
ance and development of class society that social spiritual 
life began differentiating into specific forms. 

Each form of social consciousness is called to life by 
definite social requirements. Political and juridical ideolo- 
gy, for example, arose as a result of the appearance of 
private property, classes and the state. The primitive 
undifferentiated forms of morality, art and religion devel- 
oped into specific ideological forms when the level of so- 
cial development reached a higher stage. In the process 
of historical development of society and its spiritual life 
a definite correlation of forms of social consciousness took 
shape in each socio-economic formation. Some of them 
dominated others and flourished, while some were in a 
state of decline and stagnation. Thus, in the feudal epoch 
religion was the dominating form of ideology which sub- 
jugated all other forms of ideology—philosophy, politics 
and jurisprudence. Under capitalism political and juridic- 
al ideology comes to the forefront. Upon coming to power 
the bourgeoisie brings into play political and juridical 
ideas and strives to fix its economic and political domina- 
tion in juridical forms thus giving it a semblance of 

Subsequently in the process of society’s transition to 
communism, a radical] change takes place not only in the 
content but also in the structure of social consciousness. 
Religion, as a perverted reflection of reality, will finally 
disappear. At the same time society’s requirements will 
engender a more powerful upsurge in science. Political 
and juridical consciousness will wither away and morality, 
which will become the principal regulator of human re- 
lations, will increase its sphere of operation. The condi- 
tions of life in communist society will be conducive to 
the blossoming of art and scientific philosophy. 

Social consciousness has different forms depending on 
the subject and the method of reflecting social being. Each 
form reflects a definite aspect of social being in its own 
way, in a “language” that is peculiar to it. Political ideolo- 
gy reflects the relations between classes, morality reflects 
both the relations between people and man’s attitude to 
the collective or society. There are also different methods 


for reflecting reality. Philosophy and science reflect the 
object in the form of logical concepts, laws and theories, 
while in art this reflection takes the form of artistic images, 
and in morality and law—rules and norms governing 
the behaviour of people. 

It is also possible to ascertain the difference in the 
forms of social consciousness by the functions they per- 
form in social life, by the social role they play. Political 
ideas, for instance, formulate the social tasks of the classes 
and define the activity of political organisations and 
institutions while morality moulds the moral qualities of 
men and with the help of specific moral principles 
regulates human relations, and so forth. 

Ideological forms also differ from one another by the 
character of their connection with the economic basis of 
society. Political and juridical ideologies stand closer to 
the economic basis than any other ideological form. They 
reflect the relations of production more or less directly 
and are shaped under the immediate influence of econ- 
omy. For this reason Engels calls them ideologies of the 
“first order”. Philosophy and art reflect the economic 
basis indirectly through a series of intermediate links and 
primarily through the prism of political ideology, in “po- 
litical attire”. These ideological spheres stand further away 
from the economic basis, and to quote Engels, “‘soar still 
higher in the air”. As regards religion, it “stands furthest 
away from material life and seems to be most alien 
to it”.t 

Thus, the forms of social consciousness differ from each 
other according to the subject and method of reflecting 
social being, to the social functions and the character of 
their interconnections with the economic basis of society. 
But this difference is relative inasmuch as not a single 
form of social consciousness is isolated and all of them 
are in close interconnection and interaction. The con- 
sciousness of each epoch is an integral system of views 
of one or another social class. Each form of social con- 
sciousness to a certain degree influences all other forms 
and in its turn is subjected to their influence. Art influences 
morality and is itself influenced by politics, philosophy 
and morality. Religious ideology, which influenced and 

1 Marx and Engels, Selected Works, Vol. II, p. 397. 

still influences some philosophical trends, is at the same 
time influenced by certain philosophical ideas. The decisive 
role in this interaction is played by political ideology 
as one that is most closely connected with the economy 
of society. 

Let us now study the basic forms of social consciousness 
in greater detail. 

Political Ideology 

Lenin defined politics as a concentrated expression of 
economics, as its epitome and culmination. The politics 
of a particular social class directly express its main and 
decisive class interests. 

The political sphere has its own specific object of 
reflection in social life, namely, the interrelations of 
social classes. Politics reflect economy through the prism 
of class relations which take the form of class struggle in 
antagonistic class formations and of co-operation of work- 
ing classes under socialism. 

Politics embrace the aims and tasks advanced by the 
social classes in the struggle for their interests, and also 
methods and means of expressing and defending these 

The relation of classes to the state and its tasks and 
forms of activity are one of the cornerstones of politics. 
It also covers the relations between nations and _ states. 
Relations between states is the sphere of foreign policy 
which is unseparably bound up with the internal policy 
of the ruling class and is, in effect, its continuation. It 
follows, therefore, that in the broad sense of the word, 
politics are relations between classes, nations and states, 
the struggle of classes for domination in society, for state 
power and for directing its activity. 

In this definition politics are viewed as political rela- 
tions and actions. But in politics an important role is also 
played by political ideology, i.e., definite political theories 
and views, which are the ideological basis of the interests, 
aspirations and aims of a given social class. Political ideol- 
ogy is a system of ideas of a definite social class, which 
express its attitude to other classes, its views of the class 


rr eeeséte 

struggle and revolution, social and state structure, rela- 
tions between nations and states and problems of war 
and peace. Political ideology finds its expression in the 
constitutions of countries, in the programmes and 
slogans of political parties and other political organisa- 

In contemporary historical conditions two _ political 
ideologies directly confront each other—the Marxist- 
Leninist ideology, which expresses the interests of the 
working class and all working people, and the ideology 
of the imperialist bourgeoisie which expresses the interests 
of the exploiters. 

The political ideology of the contemporary imperialist 
bourgeoisie is reactionary and anti-scientific. Its task is 
to justify and substantiate the need to preserve capital- 
ist relations, and to achieve this ideologists of modern 
capitalism are advancing diverse political and economic 
theories: “‘people’s capitalism’, ‘‘welfare society”, “estab- 
lished society”, and so forth. 

They are doing their utmost to justify the foreign policy 
of the imperialist states, which is determined by the class 
interests of monopoly capital and expresses its aggressive 
nature. The modern imperialist bourgeoisie propagandises 
the cold war policy and the arms race, the “positions of 
strength” policy in international relations, the idea of 
“neo-colonialism” aimed at enslaving the peoples of Asia, 
Africa and Latin America and at suppressing the national 
liberation movement of the colonial and dependent coun- 

The political ideology of Marxism-Leninism is scientific 
and consistently revolutionary. Its principles were set forth 
by Marx and Engels in the Manifesto of the Communist 
Party. In contemporary conditions, the chief task of the 
Marxist-Leninist political ideology in the capitalist coun- 
tries is to organise and rally the working class for the 
struggle against the exploiting system and to unite round 
the proletariat broad sections of the working people of 
town and country—the peasants, petty bourgeoisie and 
the progressive intelligentsia, all those oppressed by mono- 
poly capital. Under capitalism and in transitional socie- 
ty there also exists a petty-bourgeois political ideology 
which reflects the interests and views of the petty bour- 


geoisie, peasantry and artisans. It reflects the ambivalent 
position of these social groups. On the one hand, they 
oppose exploitation and support revolutionary action and 
democracy and, on the other, champion private property, 
exhibit uncertainty and are inclined to make concessions 
to reaction. The petty-bourgeois, anti-feudal and _anti- 
capitalist theories, which arise in modern conditions in 
the countries that had broken the chains of colonialism, 
play a relatively progressive part. Therefore, it is the task 
of the revolutionary forces to use the progressive demo- 
cratic content of these theories in the struggle against 
imperialism and neo-colonialism. 

The scientific principles of the political ideology of 
Marxism-Leninism in the contemporary epoch have been 
creatively developed and elaborated in such important 
documents of the world communist movement as_ the 
Declaration and Statement of the Moscow 1957 and 1960 
Meetings, the Programme of the C.P.S.U. and the 
programmes of other fraternal parties. 

One of the fundamental principles of Marxist-Leninist 
political ideology is proletarian internationalism, recogni- 
tion of the equality of all nations and nationalities, and 
national sovereignty and independence of all peoples. The 
Soviet Union and other socialist states steadfastly adhere 
to this principle in their policy; they support the just 
struggle of the peoples for freedom and independence and 
furnish them all-round assistance. 

Juridical Ideology 

Juridical ideology, or consciousness of law, is closely 
related to politics. This relationship is determined firstly 
by the fact that the dominating relations of production 
are directly reflected in legal norms; and that no other 
forms of ideology are as closely connected with society’s 
economic basis as _ politicial and juridical ideologies. 
Secondly, law is forged under the decisive influence of the 
policy of the ruling class. The basic interests of the class 
in power are fixed into a definite system of juridical prin- 
ciples and laws and their obligatory character is sanc- 
tioned by the state. In the Manifesto of the Communist 



Party Marx and Engels define jurisprudence as the will of 
the ruling class elevated to law. 

But law as such should not be identified with juridical 
ideology. Law is a system of mandatory rules of human 
behaviour in society which are fixed in definite laws and 
backed by state compulsion. On the other hand, juridical 
ideology is the sum total of views expressing the attitude of 
a given class to the existing law, to legislation, it is the 
conceptions of what is legal and illegal, mandatory and 
optional. Like other forms of social consciousness juridi- 
cal ideology has a specific character. Consciousness of the 
law reflects society’s economic relations in specific jurid- 
ical notions, in conceptions about the duties of the mem- 
bers of society, about the law and legality. It reflects not 
only economic, but also political and family relations. Yet 
juridical ideology reflects social relations from the stand- 
point of juridical regulation of the behaviour and actions 
of members of society. Engels wrote that “economic facts 
must assume the form of juristic motives in order to 
receive legal sanction’.! Juristic motives and juridical 
norms is the specific “language” which is used to express 
economic and other social relations in the ideological form 
of legal consciousness. Hence, juridical ideology has a 
normative character regulating the behaviour of people in 
society. Its basic categories are rights and duties, law and 
legality, court and justice, crime and punishment, etc. 

Like political theories, juridical theories have a patent 
class character. In an antagonistic society the juridical 
ideas of the ruling class serve to substantiate the legality 
of given social relations based on a definite type of prop- 
erty. The ruling class not only consolidates the relations 
of production in which it is vitally interested through 
juridical laws, but also puts forward specific juridical 
ideology to present its law as the only just one. Thus, 
bourgeois juridical ideology interprets bourgeois law as 
personification of supreme justice, bourgeois democracy 
as the ideal democratic organisation and bourgeois court 
as unbiased. In actual fact, however, bourgeois law defends 
the interests of capitalist property; bourgeois democracy 
provides only formal but not genuine equality before the 

4 Marx and Engels, Selected Works, Vol. II, p. 397. 

law and is only a form of the dictatorship of the 

Socialist law expresses the state will of the working 
people under the leadership of the working class in socie- 
ty and the state. In his work The State and Revolution 
Lenin profoundly substantiated the necessity of law and 
the role it plays in socialist society. During the first phase 
of communism society cannot do without law which is 
necessary “in the capacity of regulator (determining fact- 
or) in the distribution of products and the allotment of 
labour among the members of society”.! Legal rules are 
needed, Lenin pointed out, to teach people to work for 
society without any rules of law, ie., to work the com- 
munist way, giving their abilities to the full. Under so- 
cialism the law expresses the interests of all people, 
strengthens and safeguards social property as the econom- 
ic basis of the new society. The transition of society to 
communism will signify an all-round extension of citizens’ 
rights, of the freedom of the individual. In the process of 
this transition juridical standards will gradually turn into 
moral standards, thus leading to the establishment of the 
principles of communist society. 


The distinguishing feature of morality as a form of 
ideology is that it reflects those aspects of social being 
which are connected with the relation of people to one 
another, the relation of the individual to his class and to 
other classes, to the collective and to society as a whole. 

Morality as a form of social consciousness is the aggre- 
gate of historically established and historically changing 
rules and standards of human behaviour, which are 
common for a given class or for society as a whole. 

The behaviour of men from the viewpoint of morality 
is judged by the moral categories of good and evil, justice 
and injustice, honour and dishonour, conscience, duty, etc. 

Morality has many aspects in common with law, because 
legal relations are also connected with the behaviour of 

! Lenin, Collected Works, Vol. 25, p. 467. 

people in society. But unlike legal standards, which are 
expressed in the form of laws and which are backed by 
the compulsory sanction of the state, morality rests on the 
force of public opinion, man’s inner convictions, habits 
and upbringing. Law is the will of the ruling class elevat- 
ed to slalute, while morality is the will of a class which 
has become its public opinion. 

While the oppressed classes do not have their own law 
because they do not possess state power, they always had 
and do have their revolutionary morality. 

Before Marxism there was no scientific theory of the 
origin and essence of morality. The pre-Marxist ethical 
iheories were under the sway of religious and idealistic 
moral theories. Today, too, idealism characterises 
bourgeois philosophy of morality. 

It was only Marxism that revealed the true sources of 
morality, its class and historical character, its place and 
role in social development. The founders of Marxism ex- 
posed the untenability of the views which attributed mo- 
rality to divine injunctions, the absolute idea, the ‘eternal 
nature” of man, and the like. They proved scientifically 
that the source of moral ideas lies in human society whose 
foundation are economic relations. ‘All moral theories,” 
wrote Engels, “have been hitherto the product, in the last 
analysis, of the economic conditions of society obtaining 
at the time.”! 

Though Marxism says that the economic relations of 
society are the ultimate source of moral views, this does 
not mean that it denies the influence exerted by other 
factors of social life on their formation and development. 
Economic relations act on the moral consciousness of men 
both directly and indirectly through political and legal 
relations, philosophy, religion and art. Moral traditions 
and customs are so powerful that some moral views per- 
sist long after the disappearance of the economic conditions 
which had engendered them. At the same time morality 
is a historical phenomenon. It took shape and developed 
simultaneously with the appearance and development of 
human society. The principles of morality, the standards 
and rules of men’s behaviour, as well as the content of 

1 Frederick Engels, Anti-Diihring, p. 131. 
19-360 289 

the moral conceptions of good and evil, justice and in- 
justice, etc., are neither eternal nor immutable, established 
for all times. They have constantly varied and are 
varying under the influence of changes in production and 
above all in production relations. “The conceptions of good 
and evil,” wrote Engels, “have varied so much from na- 
tion to nation and from age to age that they have often 
been in direct contradiction to each other.”! 

Moral progress in the history of society consisted in the 
perfection of men as moral beings, the development in 
them of the sense of civic and personal dignity and the 
desire to serve the interests of society. The actual bearers 
of moral progress and the supreme moral values of man- 
kind have always been the working people. The most im- 
portant factor of moral progress was the revolutionary 
struggle of the oppressed working people, in which men 
acquired such qualities as hatred of exploitation, courage, 
loyalty to social duty, solidarity, etc. 

Marxism, while recognising the existence of universal 
elements of morality, focusses attention on the class con- 
tent of morality, for in a society divided into antagonistic 
classes there cannot be one morality both for the ruling 
and the exploited classes. In a slave-owning society, the 
dominant morality is that of the slave-owners, in feudal 
society—that of the feudals, and in bourgeois society— 
that of the capitalists. They are opposed by the moral 
standards and principles of the slaves, peasants and 

Bourgeois morality sanctifies private property and ex- 
ploitation, and yet extreme individualism is one of its 
fundamental principles. “Man is to man a wolf”’—this is 
the essence of capitalist practice and of the morality 
reflecting this practice. The morality of the exploiters is 
opposed by the wholesome, life-asserting morality of the 
working class which is the embryo of a new, communist 
morality. “Our morality,’ Lenin wrote, “stems from the 
interests of the class struggle of the proletariat.’’2 

The working class is the bearer of the lofty moral prin- 
ciples of the heroic struggle against violence and oppres- 

! Frederick Engels, Anti-Dahring, p. 130. 
2 Lenin, Collected Works, Vol. 31, p. 291. 


sion, the principles of the fraternity of all peoples and 
lofty humane ideals. By fulfilling its historic mission the 
proletariat is destined to effect a moral revival of mankind, 
assert new social principles that are based on the co- 
operation and mutual support of people and give men the 
fruits of their labour, the happiness of creation and every 
opportunity to develop their talents. In this struggle the 
working class and its Marxist parties are followed by all 
the exploited masses, and the principles of proletarian 
morality in ever greater measure become the morality of 
all working people. 

The present-day revolutionary and national liberation 
struggle of the working people contains many examples 
of devotion to a high moral duty. These include the life 
and work of Maurice Thorez, Palmiro Togliatti, Elizabeth 
Gurley Flynn, Julian Grimau, Nicos Beloyannis, Patrice 
Lumumba, and many others. All nations have their heroes 
whose life is the embodiment of the lofty moral principles 
of selfless service to humanity. 

With the victory of socialism communist morality ac- 
quires all the necessary conditions to develop to the full. 
Characterising the essence and the tasks of the new 
morality Lenin said that it is based on the struggle for 
the consolidation and completion of communism. The 
ethical principles and standards of this new, genuinely 
humane morality are set down in the Programme of the 

The most important principles and features of commu- 
nist morality are devotion to the communist cause, love 
for the socialist motherland, conscientious labour for the 
good of society, a high sense of public duty, revolution- 
ary humanism and socialist internationalism. Communist 
morality presupposes consistent implementation of the 
principles of collectivism, comradely mutual assistance, 
friendship and fraternity of all the peoples of the U.S.S.R., 
uncompromising attitude to all who violate public interests, 
and to the enemies of communism, peace and freedom 
of nations. 

Being an element of the superstructure, communist 
morality is exerting and will continue to exert beneficial 
influence in ever growing measure on all aspects of life 
of the new society, on economy, politics and culture. There- 

19° 291 

fore every step towards communism signifies a further 
expansion of the sphere of operation of the moral factor 
and the enhancement of the role played by the principles 
of communist morality in the life of society. The moral- 
ity of the builder of communism is a new stage in man’s 
moral progress. 


Like the other forms of social consciousness, religion is 
a reflection of social being. But the specific feature of 
this ideological form is that it reflects reality in an 
unreal, illusory light in which, to quote Engels, “the 
terrestrial forces assume the form of supernatural 

Religion is a definite set of ideas and conceptions that 
distort reality, i.e., a system of supernatural conceptions 
and myths. It also includes specific sentiments and actions 
of man and religious rites which constitute religious 
worship. These actions and rites express man’s attitude 
to the supernatural world, to God, and the _ believer’s 
illusory idea that he influences the other world. “Religion,” 
Plekhanov wrote, “can be defined as a more or less har- 
monious system of conceptions, sentiments and actions. 
Conceptions form the mythological element of religion; 
sentiments constitute the field of religious feelings and 
actions relate to the field of religious worship or, in other 
words, cult.’’2 

Being a specific form of social consciousness, religion 
performs a special social function. Lenin called Marx’s 
famous utterance that “religion is opium for the people” 
the cornerstone of Marxism’s world outlook on the ques- 
tion of religion. Claiming to be the sole authority in world 
outlook and morality, religion misguides the believers and 
misinterprets their vital interests and needs. By preaching 
divine predestination it fetters man’s activity subjugating 
it to illusory ideals and aims. 

Despite the idealists’ assertions that religion is eternal, 

! Frederick Engels, Anti-Dahring, p. 435. 
2G. V. Plekhanov, Selected Philosophical Works, Vol. III, p. 330 
(in Russian). 



Marxism-Leninism has shown that religion is an_histori- 
cal phenomenon. It originated at a definite stage of human 
development and will inevitably disappear in the future. 
Initially, fetishism of religion developed in the conscious- 
ness of the primitive man as a reflection of his helpless- 
ness in the struggle against the elements. But with the 
division of society into classes, it were the relations of ex- 
ploitation and social oppression that became the main 
source nurturing religion. Lenin noted that in a bourgeois 
society religion’s principal roots are social. Under condi- 
tions of private property, fear of the blind force of 
capital makes the masses religious. 

As an ideological form, religion possesses a consider- 
able degree of relative independence. It is this that explains 
its exceptional conservatism owing to which religious be- 
liefs and myths continue to live long after the disappear- 
ance of the social conditions that engendered them. Yet 
religion is also subject to changes taking place in history. 
What are called world religions—Christianity, Buddhism 
and Islam—are the product of specific historical condi- 
tions, and change in line with the development of social 

Religion is essentially anti-scientific. It appeals to divine 
revelation and gives a distorted picture of natural and 
social life. That is why a decisive battle is being waged 
between science and religion for many centuries already. 
Great scientists and materialist philosophers had criticised 
religious prejudices. In the course of many centuries the 
Church mercilessly throttled science and persecuted scien- 
tists, prohibited the dissemination of progressive ideas, 
destroyed books by progressive thinkers many of whom 
had died in jail or at the stake. 

Today the Church is compelled to take the new histor- 
ical conditions into account, finding it ever more diffi- 
cult to wage an open struggle against science in view of 
the scientific and technical revolution and the growth of 
education and culture. That is why it propagandises the 
idea of “harmony” between belief and intellect, religion 
and science. The purpose of the efforts to reconcile re- 
ligion with science is to win more room for religious 
belief at the expense of scientific knowledge and to 
subject the achievements of modern science to religion, 


But whatever the extent to which religion modernises 
itself, it remains hostile to scientific progress and 
is directed against the scientific world outlook as a 

Today the lot of religion in the capitalist countries is 
difficult and contradictory, in view of the general decline 
of religiosity, especially among the working class. This 
process flows from the growing influence of socialism, the 
crisis of the world capitalist system, the intensification of 
the class struggle and scientific and technical progress. In 
most capitalist countries religious organisations are for- 
mally separated from the state, and their constitutions 
proclaim freedom of conscience. In actual fact, however, 
the Church is becoming part of the machinery of state, 
and the rising generation is still subjected to religious 
influence. An ever increasing role in the political and 
ideological activity of imperialism is now being played by 
clericalism, which has its own political parties standing 
in power in some capitalist countries. 

The reactionary clericals are striving to split the work- 
ing-class movement, to destroy the unity of the believers 
and the unbelievers in the class struggle. Yet some 
clergymen frequently criticise bourgeois society and talk 
about the difficult condition of the working people. This 
is particularly characteristic of the Left wing of Catholic- 
ism. In view of the fact that some ministers refuse to sup- 
port anti-communism and side with the forces of democ- 
racy and peace, it is not improbable that an agreement 
may be reached with this section of clergy for waging a 
joint political struggle. The Marxist parties welcome these 
changes in the policy of the Church; they enter into po- 
litical dialogue with progressive clergymen and support 
their condemnation of the imperialism’s aggressive policy 
and approval of the policy of peaceful coexislence of 
capitalist and socialist states. 

The Marxist dialectical-materialist world outlook organ- 
ically includes atheism. The Marxist parties’ historical task 
of liberating the working people from all forms of sub- 
jugation also envisages their emancipation from religious 
oppression. To overcome religion it is necessary to eradi- 
cate those social relations of exploitation which breed 
belief in supernatural forces. For this reason the fight 


against religion should necessarily be studied in concrete 
connection with the class struggle of the working people. 
In the matter of surmounting religion Marxism-Leninism 
is opposed both to the Right-wing opportunist trend of re- 
conciling religious and socialist ideologies and to the Left- 
wing sectarian tendency of foisting a “political war against 
religion” on the proletariat. Right-wing opportunism 
in religious matters signifies relinquishment of Marxism’s 
ideological positions, while Left-wing sectarian anarchism 
leads to opposition between the believers and the unbeliev- 
ers, pushes the problem of religion to the forefront and 
transfers the ideological struggle against religion to the 
sphere of political struggle. The Marxist-Leninist parties 
in the capitalist countries are guided by Lenin’s thesis 
about the unity of action of the working people, both 
atheists and believers, in the struggle against imperialism. 
“Unity in this really revolutionary struggle of the oppressed 
class for the creation of a paradise on earth,” Lenin 
wrote, “is more important to us than unity of proletarian 
opinion on paradise in heaven.”! Marxists-Leninists pro- 
ceed from the fact that philosophical and religious dif- 
ferences are not an obstacle to the working people’s joint 
struggle for their common interests. 

The fight against religion is not an end in itself, but 
should be subordinated to the principal task—the struggle 
for peace, democracy and socialism. The interests of po- 
litical struggle must be given priority, for in the final 
count the emancipation of the working people from reli- 
gious prejudices depends on how successful the struggle 
against imperialism is. 

Today tens of millions of people in the colonial and 
dependent countries are rising against imperialism and 
colonialism. In the main they are peasants. That is why 
Marxists-Leninists should take into account the dialectical 
complexity and the contradictory nature of the situation. 
For various reasons—insufficiently high level of class 
consciousness, ignorance of scientific theory, the power 
of traditions of a given country and religious upbringing 
—democratic and national liberation movements may 
assume also a religious form. Lenin wrote: “Political pro- 

1 Lenin, Collected Works, Vol. 10, p. 87. 

tests in religious guise are common to all nations al a 
certain stage of their development... .”! 

Many revolutionary-democratic leaders in the former 
colonies in Asia and Africa, for instance, refer to the 
ideology of Islam. Here, of course, it should be borne in 
mind that the national liberation struggle as such arises 
from social conditions and not religion. It is necessary to 
distinguish between the progressive content of the national 
democratic movements and their religious form. On the 
whole these movements have a progressive, anti-imperial- 
ist character. 

A radical break-through in the solution of the religious 
question comes with the victory of socialist revolution and 
achievement of genuine freedom of conscience. The Great 
October Socialist Revolution created conditions for eman- 
cipating the working people from religious beliefs and 
traditions on a mass scale. Lenin’s Decree on the Sepa- 
ration of the Church from the State and the School from 
the Church promulgated on January 23, 1918, prohibited 
any restriction of the freedom of conscience, established 
equality of all religions and proclaimed the right of citi- 
zens not to profess any religion and to be atheists. Free- 
dom to observe religious rites was guaranteed, provided 
they did not violate public law and order and did not im- 
pair the rights and the health of citizens. The school be- 
came genuinely secular and free of any influence on the 
part of the Church. 

The victory of socialism dealt a decisive blow at 
religion’s social roots and undermined them. 

With the establishment of socialism in the U.S.S.R. and 
the destruction of the class basis of religion, atheistic work 
in the country assumed the form of scientific critique of 
religious ideology, propaganda of scientific knowledge and 
moral education. The principal content of atheistic propa- 
ganda became materialist explanation of natural and social 
phenomena for the purpose of cultivating a progressive 
world outlook. During the years of Soviet power an over- 
whelming majority of people in the U.S.S.R. cast religion 
aside and became firm in their scientific world outlook. 
But a part of Sovict citizens still harbour religious preju- 

' Lenin, Collected Works, Vol. 4, p. 243. 


dices as survivals of the past in their consciousness. They, 
undoubtedly, play a negative role in the building of 
communism. That is why a great deal of attention is 
devoted to scientific atheistic education of the working 
people, which is viewed as a component of communist 

The surmounting of religion is a difficult and protracted 
process which is connected with the further development 
and improvement of socialist social relations, elevation of 
the general educational and cultural level of the whole 
population, all-round spiritual development of the individ- 
ual and betterment of educational work. In communist 
society, Marx wrote in Capital, the religious reflection of 
the real world will disappear completely and the practical 
relations of everyday life will ‘offer to man none but 
perfectly inteHigible and reasonable relations with regard 
to his fellowmen and to Nature”! 

The road to the communist future is one of complete 
emancipation of man from religious beliefs and conceptions, 
of the triumph of reason and science. 


Art differs from other forms of social consciousness in 
both its object and in the way it reflects reality. It is the 
specific feature of art that it deals mainly with the social 
man, his destiny, character and attitude to the surrounding 
life, his spiritual world, his activities, thoughts and senti- 
ments. The peculiarity of art consists in that it reflects 
reality in the form of artistic images and not in the scien- 
tific-logical form. Science and philosophy reflect natural 
and social phenomena in logical categories and abstract 
notions, but art reflects them in the form of artistic 
images. Literary, stage, musical and other artistic images 
disclose the essence of reality, the content of social 
relations and the truth of life through the individual in a 
concrete sensual form. 

Images created by art are individual and concrete. But 
they reflect the common features of a whole group of phe- 

! Karl Marx, Capital, Vol. I, p. 79. 

nomena and artistically generalise reality, disclosing the 
general through the particular, through living images. For 
instance, the character of Pavel Vlasov in Gorky’s Mother 
reflects the typical features of the Russian revolutionary 
proletariat. Through artistic images art cognises reality, 
the nature of social contradictions. It also appraises phe- 
nomena occurring in life, regarding them either as beauti- 
ful or ugly, lofty or base, tragic or comic. The social func- 
tion of art, its influence on social life, is first and foremost 
manifested in its educational significance. Chernyshevsky 
wrote that art is a “textbook of life’. Its ideological-edu- 
cational force lies in the great emotional influence it exerts 
on men’s consciousness. 

Idealist theories of art seek to tear it away from the 
social foundation on which it arises. They view works of 
art either as a manifestation of the eternal, absolute no- 
tion of beauty, or as an expression of the subjective hu- 
man ego independent of social conditions. Art, they say, 
exists only for art’s sake. Despite these assertions, however, 
the history of art shows that its development is insepa- 
rably bound up with social life, that it is a reflection of 
social conditions and the life of society. Like any other 
form of social consciousness, art develops in close con- 
nection with social progress and reflects the changes taking 
place in social being. But compared with other forms of 
ideology, politics and law, for instance, art is more removed 
from the economic basis, and such factors as artistic 
traditions and the state of the political and spiritual life 
of society play a special role in its development. Art reflects 
changes in society’s economy very indirectly. The history 
of art knows many instances when it made rapid headway 
in countries with a relatively backward economy and died 
away in industrially advanced states. This proves that in 
a class society art does not directly reflect the level of pro- 
duction, but the sum total of social conditions, the course 
of the class struggle, and so forth. Continuity plays a big 
role in the development of art. Great classical works of 
world art do not die with the disappearance of the social 
conditions in which they were created, but continue to live 
a new life expressing social human sentiments and moods. 

Genuine art is always popular in character. Literary, 
musical and artistic masterpieces have always expressed 


the thoughts and aspirations of the people. Here is what 
Gorky wrote about people as the creator of art: “The peo- 
ple are not only the force which creates all material va- 
lues, they are the sole and inexhaustible source of spirit- 
ual wealth; the first philosopher and poet in time, beauty 
and creative genius, who have created all the great poems, 
all the tragedies, including the greatest of them—the his- 
tory of world culture.’’4 

In its development professional art was always closely 
bound up with folk art. Pushkin, Gogol, Stendhal, Hugo, 
Dickens, Tolstoi and many other brilliant writers reflected 
in their works, sometimes unwittingly, the sentiments, 
moods and hopes of the lowest social strata. Great artists 
of the past sought their characters in the storehouse of 
folk art, and were inspired by the thoughts and ideas prev- 
alent among the people, and by their faith in the victory 
of good over evil. 

Being a form of ideology, art in a class society is of a 
class character, although it does have certain features com- 
mon to all men. Whether they know it or not writers and 
artists always express the interests of definite social classes, 
their outlook, views and the attitude to the surround- 
ing world. The writer, as Gorky aptly put it, is the eyes, 
ears and voice of his class. In a class society art cannot 
stand in isolation from politics, from the system of class 

Some people endeavour to prove that ideology is alien 
to free art and that it impedes its development. Yet it is 
common knowledge that at all times there can be no gen- 
uine artistic creativity without ideas, and art degenerates 
if it lacks profound ideological content. In modern capi- 
talist countries genuine art is often replaced with pseudo- 
art, with the products of the “mass culture”, which are 
primitive in form and anti-humanistic in content. The leit- 
motif of this “mass” production, as well as of many mod- 
ernistic-decadent works, is dehumanisation of man. Such 
“art” seeks to prove the invariability of man’s nature and 
the impossibility substantially to alter human relations, 
and tries to show that human nature in general is domi- 
nated by primitive instincts and base feelings, egoism and 

1M. Gorky, Collected Works, Vol. 24, p. 26 (in Russian). 

Se ee 

brutality. It justifies and lauds people who trample upon 
moral principles and outrage human dignity. The main 
evil of the anti-realistic, decadent bourgeois art is its refus- 
al truthfully to reflect reality; it destroys the artistic form, 
leads people away from life, draws their attention away 
from burning problems of the day and strives to infuse 
them with pessimism and despair. 

It would be wrong and one-sided, nevertheless, to see 
nothing but signs of degeneration and disintegration in the 
art of modern bourgeois society. The deep-going contradic- 
tions of imperialism are also caused by the growth of the 
progressive, above all the revolutionary forces, that are 
fighting against imperialism, for everything that is new and 
progressive. Truthful art should reflect these contradictions 
and show the life-asserting tendencies. The greater the 
extent to which imperialism exposes itself as an anti-popu- 
lar system, the more emphatically real artists sever their 
ties with it. Theodor Dreiser, George Bernard Shaw, Ro- 
main Rolland, Lion Feuchtwanger, Thomas Mann, Ernest 
Hemingway and many other talented Western writers 
vigorously condemned the anti-humanism of the capitalist 
system. At present a considerable number of writers, pro- 
ducers and actors oppose the decadent trends in literature 
and art. 

Modern capitalism is hostile to true art. It fetters the 
creative activity and restricts the freedom of gifted writers 
and artists. This cannot but evoke protest on the part of 
creative workers and fosters their determination to uphold 
their freedom. But the protest of some modernists assumes 
the character of a one-man rebellion, Contemporary mod- 
ernism is heterogeneous. In addition to artists who reject 
realism and ideas of social progress, modernistic trends 
have their adherents among artists who uphold progres- 
sive social ideas. Some of them strive for socialist ideas. 
In the works of “Left” modernists there are contradictions 
between aesthetic principles and the social problems which 
are posed by the contemporary liberation revolutionary 

With the victory of socialist revolution art is freed of 
the selfish interests of the exploiting classes and acquires 
ample opportunity for development. In these new con- 
ditions the popular essence of art manifests itself with 


particular force. It asserts the ideas of revolutionary hu- 
manism and gives extensive development to the creative 
method known as socialist realism, which cannot be res- 
tricted to the limits of some sort of “ultimate” formal defi- 
nition. Its content is a true, realistic and historically con- 
crete portrayal of reality in its revolutionary development. 


“The purpose of socialist realism,’ Maxim Gorky wrote, 
“is to combat the survivals of the ‘old world’ with its per- 
nicious influence, to eradicate these influences. But its 
principal task is to foster the socialist, revolutionary world 
outlook.”! The art of socialist realism accepts neither pas- 
Sivity nor a contemplatory attitude to reality, nor a 
departure from it; it summons people to an active strug- 
gle for the social remaking of the world. It is this type of 
art, which is distinguished by its profound national char- 
acter, communist party spirit, revolutionary humanism, 
high sense of civic duty, truthfulness, deep understanding 
of reality and uncompromising attitude to bourgeois idcol- 
ogy and morality, that has been formed in the U.S.S.R. 
since the establishment of Soviet rule. 

The method of socialist realism cannot give standard 
recipes for creative work. It is opposed in principle to 
routine and levelling in art, and gives wide scope to the 
personal initiative of the artist, his thoughts and imagina- 
tion, individual abilities and inclinations in choosing artist- 
ic forms and means. For all the unity of its ideological 
conceptions, the art of socialist realism develops in a 
great variety of individual peculiarities and styles of the 

Contributing his share in the building of the new, social- 
ist society the artist attains genuine creative freedom be- 
cause his works and his thoughts do not serve the “upper 
ten thousand” as bourgeois art does, but the “millions and 
tens of millions of working people—the flower of the 
country, its strength and its future”? 

True art serves the aspirations and interests of broad 
masses, of all progressive mankind in its fight for the lofty 
ideals of socialism and communism. 

1M. Gorky, Collected Works, Vol. 30, p. 382. 
2 Lenin, Collected Works, Vol. 10, pp. 48-49. 


5. Science and Its Place in the Life of Society 

Science is an important component of man’s spiritual 
culture. It is an orderly arrangement of man’s increasing 
knowledge of the surrounding world checked and verified 
by practice. Scientific knowledge expresses in precise con- 
cepts and laws the objective processes of natural and 
social development. 

Modern science is an extremely ramified system of sep- 
arate branches of knowledge, whose number increases as 
science progresses. On the whole, however, all sciences 
may be divided into two groups—natural sciences (astron- 
omy, physics, chemistry, biology, etc.), and social sciences 
(history, political economy, jurisprudence, etc.). What 
is common between these two big groups of sciences is 
that they study the same material world, the only dis- 
tinction is that they study different aspects of this world— 
nature or society. 

Science dates back to a very remote period in human 
history, to the slave-owning system when mental labour 
separated from physical labour and special group of people, 
scientists, made its appearance. In this period the existing 
rudiments of scientific knowledge began to shape into sys- 
tems of knowledge under the impact of social practice. In 
the opinion of Engels, however, the beginning of modern 
natural science as opposed to the natural philosophical 
speculations of the ancients, is connected with the emer- 
gence of capitalism. The rapid advance of natural sciences 
in Europe in the 16th-18th centuries was above all fostered 
by the requirements of capitalist production. The require- 
ments of social practice, of material production are the 
mainspring and the chief motive force of the development 
of science. “From the very beginning,’ Engels wrote, ‘‘the 
origin and development of sciences has been determined 
by production.”! But the ties between science and produc- 
tion are mutual in character. On the one hand, science is 
influenced by production and the needs of society, and on 
the other, the level of the productive forces largely depends 
on the state and level of scientific knowledge. 

{ Frederick Engels, Dialectics of Nature, p. 184. 


Being a complex and many-sided social phenomenon, 
science is also connected with a multitude of other phe- 
nomena. Apart from the needs of material production, the 
direction and rates of scientific progress and application 
of scientific achievements are also influenced by such so- 
cial factors as economic relations, social and_ political 
practice and the class struggle, the nature of the domin- 
ant world outlook and the level of spiritual culture as a 
whole, and also by the inner logic of scientific knowledge 

Although the needs of social production are the prin- 
cipal source of scientific progress, it should not be identi- 
fied with production processes. Scientific development 
characterises the progressive and dialectically contradictory 
process of cognition. It is a process of constant change, 
verification, expansion and deepening of the scientific pic- 
ture of the world, its experimental and theoretical substan- 
tiation, criticism and unceasing verification of conclusions. 
Science is the product of the spiritual life of society, the 
result of the mental, creative activity of many generations. 
Marx describes science as the “general spiritual product 
of social development”, a product of “general historical 
development in its abstract form”.! The relative indepen- 
dence of science as a special sphere of spiritual life is 
manifested in that the development of knowledge of the 
world does not and cannot automatically follow in the 
wake of production. Science has its own specific laws 
which differ from the laws of development of material 
production and social relations, and its own internal con- 
tradictions and problems. The tasks which social practice 
sets science can be solved only when knowledge has at- 
tained a definite level of development. Scientific discov- 
eries can be made only on a definite scientific and theo- 
retical basis. Of great importance for science, therefore, 
is continuity in the accumulation of scientific material, 
in which one scientific discovery leads to another and syn- 
thesises theoretical and experimental material accumulated 
in the course of past progress. As a result of this inner 
logic of development science raises new problems and 
makes new discoveries which greatly surpass the existing 

' Marz-Engels Archives, Vol. III (7), pp. 157, 161 (in Russian). 

level of the development of the productive forces and the 
needs of sociely. 

As a complex socia! phenomenon, science has a definite 
relationship with the classes of society and its political 
and ideological superstructure, and is also connected with 
production and economy. Social sciences in contrast to 
natural sciences are more closely linked with the interests 
of classes and consequently their conclusions, particularly 
the application of their achievements in practice, have a 
clearly defined class character. In a class society there 
cannot be non-class_ philosophy, political economy, 
jurisprudence, and so forth. 

The relationship between natural sciences and classes 
is much more difficult to qualify. By themselves natural 
scientific laws and concepts, experimental results and mathe- 
matical formulas obviously have no class content. Various 
classes can apply natural scientific discoveries under diverse 
modes of production to further their own interests. But 
it would be wrong to imagine that natural sciences are not 
subject to political or ideological influence. 

The content of any science is limited neither to the ac- 
cumulated experimental material nor to the particular laws 
and formulas derived, or conclusions drawn from it. By 
cognising the laws of the objective world, science in one 
or another way influences people’s world outlook which 
has a class character in a class society. In this respect 
science is closely bound up with the ideology of society. 
The ideology of different classes and parties makes its way 
into science through philosophy, religion and morality. The 
ideology which dominates a given society is imposed on 
scientists in different ways: through traditions and the 
system of education and by direct ideological and political 
influence. The general trend in scientists’ thinking is 
influenced by the conditions of bourgeois society, by the 
domination of idealism and metaphysics in the modern 
capitalist society. 

Nonetheless, progressive scientists in capitalist countries 
are becoming increasingly aware that the reactionary im- 
perialist ideology hampers scientific progress and that only 
dialectical-materialist philosophy can extricate science from 
ideological impasses. 

The history of science irrefutably proves that the rates 


of scientific progress are steadily increasing. The gradual 
accumulation of facts and discoveries in different fields 
of knowledge leads to a rapid advancement of science, to 
a scientific and technical revolution, as is strikingly evi- 
denced by the contemporary epoch. Twentieth century 
science has made a series of cardinal discoveries many of 
which have radically changed the basis of industrial 
production. Among these achievements special mention 
should be made of the unravelling of the mystery of the 
atomic nucleus, man’s penetration into outer space, and 
cybernetics. “Far more scientific work has been done in the 
last fifty years,’ wrote John Bernal, a distinguished British 
scientist, “than in the whole of previous history. And this 
is no mere quantitative growth; at the same time there has 
been greater advance in the knowledge of the fundamental 
nature of a matter, animate and inanimate, than in any 
comparable period in the past. We may reasonably speak of 
a second scientific revolution in the twentieth century.’’! 

There are about two million scientific workers in the 
world today, and their numerical growth is much faster 
than the natural increase in the population. The volume 
of scientific work doubles almost every decade. 

Science exerts an enormous influence on social progress. 
The swift development of science and the practical im- 
plementation of its achievements, scientific and technical 
and social progress are closely connected with each other. 
Science is playing an ever increasing role in social devel- 
opment. The transformation of science into a direct pro- 
ductive force of which Marx wrote a century ago, is con- 
stantly gathering momentum. Deeply penetrating into the 
production sphere, science makes it possible to automate 
production processes with the help of machines and with- 
out the direct participation of man. The application of 
the latest scientific achievements is a real scientific and 
technical revolution connected with complete automation, 
mechanisation, chemicalisation of production, and so 

The social consequences of scientific and technical prog- 
ress under modern capitalism are wholly different from 
those under socialism. Monopoly capital uses scientific 

1 J. D. Bernal, Science in History, London, 1954, p. 491. 
20-360 305 

research and technological improvements to obtain max- 
imum profit, intensify labour and exploitation of the work- 
ing people. Under state-monopoly capitalism scientific and 
technical discoveries always turn against the working 
people and give rise to unemployment. The imperialists 
use the achievements of human intellect to the detriment 
of man himself. A great calamity for mankind is the mili- 
tarisation of science. The lion’s share of allocations for 
science is spent on military research. Over 50 per cent of 
U.S. scientists and engineers are employed in this sphere. 
The militarisation of science lends its development an in- 
creasingly anti-humanistic, man-hating character. And it 
is not science that is to blame, but imperialism which wants 
to unleash a thermonuclear war on mankind. Progressive 
scientists are gravely alarmed at this trend in the develop- 
ment of science and speak up for peace and _ social 

In bourgeois society scientific financing and planning 
are conducted in the interests of the monopolies. In the 
contemporary epoch scientific research is impossible with- 
out large laboratories, powerful accelerators of nuclear 
particles or other very expensive installations. Research, 
therefore, is either financed by the monopolies or directly 
by the state. Scientists become increasingly dependent on 
state-monopoly capitalism. The majority of U.S. scientists 
work in research centres or universities which are controlled 
either by the state or by giant monopoly corporations. 

Thus, the bourgeoisie strives to turn the scientific and 
technical revolution into a major means for mobilising 
forces to stave off its inevitable historical doom. 

The situation is totally different under socialism. Having 
emancipated science from “filthy capitalist self-interest’, 
to quote Lenin, the socialist social system assigned it gen- 
uinely humane tasks. Under socialism science becomes 
a social force capable of satisfying the fundamental require- 
ments of society. It transforms the nature of man’s 
labour and his entire material and spiritual mode of life. 
Since the establishment of Soviet rule science in Russia 
is enjoying the constant concern of the Party and the 
people. Even in the hardest years the socialist state stinted 
no means to finance the establishment of an extensive net- 
work of scientific research institutions and the training of 


scientific personnel. Today there are more than 700,000 
scientific workers, or 25 per cent of the world’s total, in 
the U.S.S.R. Soviet science has enormously contributed to 
the world’s scientific and technical progress and has made 
outstanding headway in mathematics, physics, chemistry, 
biology, medicine, geology and other branches of knowl- 
edge. The Soviet Union’s great achievements in space 
exploration are a concentrated reflection of the successes 
scored in many fields of modern scientific knowledge. 

Under socialism Marxist-Leninist social science becomes 
a scientific basis for administering society. It studies the 
economic, political and cultural processes in the develop- 
ment of the new social system, the relations between peo- 
ple and man’s spiritual world. The development of social- 
ist society is guided in conformity with the objective laws 
which are studied by social science. As it develops social- 
ism draws on everything advanced and progressive that 
human genius creates. And that is the earnest of socialism’s 

Chapter IX 

Human history is a law-governed process of the devel- 
opment and succession of socio-economic formations, each 
being an integral social organism with its own character- 
istic features. But history is not a simple replacement or 
succession of formations. It is a progressive process in 
which each new phase, arising on the basis of conditions 
prepared by the past, constitutes a higher stage of devel- 

1. The Concept and Criterion of Social Progress 

The concept of social progress in its developed form first 
appeared in modern social philosophy. The slow rate of 
development of the slave-owning and feudal societies pre- 
vented most thinkers of those days, particularly those who 
adhered to reactionary social views, from noticing its on- 
ward movement. In the early stages of history, the kalei- 
doscope of political events (succession of monarchs, wars, 
collapse of empires, etc.), viewed against the background 
of relatively invariable material conditions, usually gave 
rise to scepticism and pessimism about the social devel- 
opment. Most of the ancient writers regarded history either 
as a regression from the ancient “Golden Age” (Hesiod, 
Seneca, later the Christian teaching about “Paradise Lost’’) 
or as a cyclic process with recurring stages (Plato, Aristot- 
le, Polybius). But there were exceptions, Titus Carus Luc- 
retius, for example, who expressed the interests of the 
advanced sections of the slave-owning class and upheld 
historical optimism in his philosophical poem De Natura 
Rerum. The Christian philosophy of history, which 
triumphed in Europe in the epoch of feudalism and which 


was full of grief for the ‘Paradise lost for ever”, was one of 
undisguised pessimism. True, outwardly, this pessimism 
was somewhat moderated by the hopes for the coming of 
the Messiah, but these hopes had nothing in common with 
real history because the ‘Kingdom of God” was promised 
“in another world”. Engels wrote that the Christians, 
“having created a special ‘history of the Kingdom of God’, 
negate the intrinsic significance of real history and recog- 
nise only the significance of their unworldly, abstract and, 
what is more, fictitious history; claiming that mankind 
reaches consummation in their Christ, they attribute to 
history a false end aim, allegedly achieved by Christ; they 
cut history short in midstream and therefore, for the sake 
of consistency, are forced to depict the next eighteen cen- 
turies as wild nonsense and utter nothingness.”! 

The sight of world history causes a Christian philosopher 
merely to regret the vanity and transiency of human activ- 
ities. ‘And so when you see these great empires—I do 
not say kings and emperors—that caused the whole Uni- 
verse to tremble, flash by before your eyes, when you see 
the ancient and new Assyrians, Medians, Persians, Greeks 
and Romans rise and fall one after another before your 
eyes, this horrifying collapse makes you feel that there is 
nothing lasting in the human world and that inconstancy 
and instability are the lot of human activity.’ 

The emergence of the capitalist mode of production and 
the rapid development of science and technology it en- 
tailed caused progressive 17th and 18th century philosoph- 
ers to renounce the theological approach to the history 
of society. The social thought of the ideologists of the ris- 
ing bourgeoisie was permeated with historical optimism; 
it was impregnated with the ardent belief that with the 
development of reason man’s future was bound to be bet- 
ter than his past, that society was progressing, that the 
“Golden Age” and the genuine “realm of Reason” lay ahead 
and not in the past. 

“Man’s ability to improve is boundless indeed,” French 
18th century Enlightener Jean-Antoine Condorcet wrote. 

{ Marx, Engels, Werke, Bd. 1, Dietz Verlag, Berlin, 1958, S. 545. 
2G. V. Plekhanov, Selected Philosophical Works, Vol. II, 
pp. 638-39 (in Russian). 


He was convinced that sooner or later there would come 
“a time when the sun will shine on an earth populated 
only by free people who recognise no master other than 
their reason; when tyrants and slaves, priests and their 
stupid or hypocritical instruments will exist only in_his- 
tory and in theatres.”! Condorcet held that human prog- 
ress was subordinated to certain general laws and that 
their knowledge helped foresee, direct and accelerate social 

The concept of social progress advanced by Enlighteners 
was profoundly revolutionary by nature; it substantiated 
the break-up of feudal relations and heralded the birth 
of a new society; it was on its basis that the numerous 
systems of utopian socialism rose and developed. At the 
same time it contained a whole range of major theoretical 
errors. First, it lacked a historical outlook on things. In 
their criticism of feudalism, the Enlighteners neither could 
nor wanted to explain the medieval phenomena, which they 
hated, from a historical point of view, and wrongly viewed 
them merely as a pause in history, as a period of “whole- 
sale barbarity”. Second, it was impossible to establish an 
objective material criterion of social progress on the basis 
of philosophical idealism that was dominant then. Conse- 
quently, they used as criterion such idealistic factors as 
man’s intellect, culture and_ self-consciousness. Abstract 
arguments about “progress in general” and its idealistic 
motive forces, naturally, were not scientific. The decline of 
revolutionary enthusiasm and disappointment in the “realm 
of Reason” proclaimed by the Enlighteners, on the one 
hand, and the development of positive historical knowledge, 
on the other, were bound to lead to the crisis of their 
concept of progress, which rested on abstract ideals rather 
than on concrete historical knowledge. 

The most profound pre-Marxist theoretical interpreta- 
tion of the problem of progress was given by Hegel, whose 
concept was indissolubly bound up with his dialectics. 
“Development,” he wrote, “is an onward movement from 
the imperfect to the more perfect, and the former should 
not be taken in the abstract merely as something imper- 

' J. A. Condorcet, Esquisse d’un tableau historique des progrés de 
Vesprit humain, Paris, 1822, p. 264. 


fect but as something that at the same time contains its 
opposite, what may be called the perfect as embryo, as 
urge.”! According to Hegel, history is not simple change 
but progress in the consciousness of freedom, in the course 
of which the old serves as an indispensable foundation for 
the new. Each historical people performs a definite mis- 
sion and then gives way to another. But, linking historical 
progress with the self-development of the world spirit, 
Hegel could not explain concretely the transition from one 
stage of social development to another. Why does a new, 
so-called historically progressive people emerge? Because, 
Hegel replies, it gains deeper knowledge of freedom than 
its predecessor. But why does it gain deeper but not the 
whole knowledge? To this question Hegel replies merely 
by referring to the “world spirit”. Moreover, according to 
him, social development reached completion with the Prus- 
sian monarchy, and the Hegelian philosophy of history 
itself turns into theodicy, into justification of God in his- 

The dialectical materialist conception of history, elabor- 
ated by the genius of Marx and Engels and profoundly 
developed by Lenin, has alone been capable of producing 
a genuinely scientific theory of social progress. 

First let us examine the concept of progress. The most 
common category which fixes the general that is inherent 
in any process, showing the existence of differences in one 
and the same volume taken at two points differing in time 
is the concept of change. The concept of development is 
more narrow and therefore fuller in content. It character- 
ises the law-governed and integral change of a_ system, 
a change not of separate elements but of the internal 
structure of the object. Movement, as a change in general, 
is absolute, it embraces all the changes in all systems. The 
concept of development is relative and can be applied to 
a definite system only. 

Still narrower and richer in content is the concept of 
progress which reflects the line of ascent in the develop- 
ment of a system, its movement from lower to higher 
forms. Marx stressed that “the concept of progress should 

4G. Hegel, Philosophie der Weltgeschichte, 1. Halbband, Leipzig, 
1920, S. 137. 


not generally be taken in ordinary abstraction”.! The 
concepts of progress and regress have a definite meaning 
only with regard to the development of a particular sys- 

Human society is an extremely complex, and at the same 
time a very interesting system which includes a multiplicity 
of subsystems (state, family, morality, science, art, etc.). 
Since their development is more or less uneven, it is im- 
possible to arrive at any general conclusions if progress 
or regress is judged on the basis of separate aspects of life. 
One is justified to speak of social progress only if there is 
social advancement in general, in the decisive spheres of 
social life. The most important is the economic sphere, the 
development of the mode of production of material values. 

It should be noted that in addition to studying social 
progress from the integral, general sociological viewpoint 
while presenting an outline of the general theory of his- 
torical materialism, as is done in the given case, it is also 
justifiable to survey progress in moral consciousness, 
science, art, law and other specific spheres of social life. 
Here progress can be scientifically understood only if 
studied together with progress in the general sociological 
sense; at the same time it doubtlessly possesses a high 
degree of relative independence and therefore is the sub- 
ject matter of ethics, history of art, jurisprudence, history 
of science and other special branches of knowledge, on the 
basis of historical materialist methodology. 

Every socio-economic formation—prior to communism— 
is a definite irreversible cycle of development in which 
the line of ascent ends sooner or later. But inasmuch as 
there is a definite law-governed continuity in human his- 
tory as a whole, the material and spiritual values created 
within the framework of a given social structure do not 
disappear with it. New generations start their historical 
creative work where their predecessors had stopped, and 
this imparts to the historical process the character of un- 
interrupted progressive development, and not that of sim- 
ple change or succession of social forms. 

The basis and criterion of social progress should be 

' Karl Marx, Grundrisse der Kritik der politischen Okonomie, 
Moscow, 1939, p. 29. 


sought in the principal laws of historical development, that 
is, in the sphere of material life. Of the two aspects of 
the mode of production, the development of productive 
forces expresses the uninterruptedness of historical devel- 
opment. The progressive development of productive forces 
is characterised primarily by the continued development 
and improvement of the means of labour ensuring the 
growth of labour productivity. 

However, improvement of the means of labour and pro- 
duction processes is organically interconnected with the 
improvement of the human element of productive forces, 
i.e., manpower, whose development imparts a fresh pow- 
erful impetus to the growth of the productivity of social 
labour. The growth of labour productivity, which may be 
expressed quantitatively, is one of the most important gen- 
eral laws governing social development, which operates 
throughout human history. The more material production 
develops, the bigger the role played in it by mental activ- 
ity and the smaller the role of physical strength. The devel- 
opment of technology and productive forces is attended 
by the development of science which, to quote Marx, is 
the spiritual potential of production. 

The historical development and improvement of produc- 
tive forces and man’s growing mastery over nature are an 
absolutely indisputable fact. But the development of pro- 
ductive forces, despite the contradictory nature of this 
process, is accompanied by the development of rela- 
tions of production and other forms of social relations. 
While the level of development of the productive forces 
shows the extent of man’s mastery over nature, the char- 
acter of relations of production makes it possible to gauge 
the degree of maturity of social organisation itself. 

Each historical socio-economic formation had a higher 
type of relations of production than the one before it. In 
this sphere progress was manifested in the fact that the 
new relations of production accelerated the development 
of the productive forces and provided man with slightly 
greater opportunities for development. However much a 
serf may have suffered from the feudal yoke, he, never- 
theless, had more freedom than an ancient slave. He was 
not only a direct productive force, but also the creator 
of an original culture, and when the feudal system neared 


its end, it was the peasant movement that chiefly deter- 
mined the character and scope of bourgeois revolutions. 

However oppressive the capitalist discipline of hunger 
and however false the bourgeois democracy may be, the 
freedom from personal dependence opens before the work- 
ers such prospects about which no serf could have ever 
dreamed. From the point of view of their organisation, 
their spiritual development and the role they play in so- 
ciety, workers in capitalist society are immeasurably su- 
perior to all the former exploited classes. 

The faster social development proceeds, the greater is 
the mass of people taking an active part in historical 
action. “With the thoroughness of the historical action,” 
Marx wrote, “‘the size of the mass whose action it is will 
therefore increase.”! The growth of the role played by 
the masses in the historical process is a decisive aspect and 
a very important indicator of social progress. 

Each socio-economic formation, though itself historic- 
ally limited, represents a new and higher stage than its 
predecessor. But when this new social structure exhausts 
its potentialities and begins to retard the development of 
the productive forces and other aspects of social life, it too 
is rejected by the progressive forces maturing in its bosom. 
Thus historical development, discarding the obsolete 
forms that restrain it, preserves and develops their vital 

The materialist understanding of history allows to give 
a positive answer to the question about the existence of 
the objective criterion of social progress, both in applica- 
tion to different spheres and to human society as a 

Society (or social progress) is all the more progressive 
the more objective possibilities it offers for raising labour 
productivity and development of the productive forces, for 
the unhampered development and independent historical 
creativity of the main productive force and subject of his- 
tory—the working masses, for the growth and satisfaction 
of their material and spiritual needs and for the develop- 
ment and application of their creative abilities. Within the 

4K. Marx and F. Engels, The Holy Family, or Critique of Critical 
Critique, p. 110. 


framework of this criterion special attention must be paid to 
the role played by the productive forces which are steadily 
progressing along the ascendant line and the productiv- 
ity of labour (viewed from the standpoint of its dynamics) 
as general sociological categories which mirror the most 
important aspects of social life, including the level of tech- 
nical development, the state of the production and other 
social relations. 

A generalised criterion of social progress makes it pos- 
sible to draw a strictly scientific and objective distinction 
between the processes and phenomena occurring in society 
from the point of view of their historical progressiveness. 

The Marxist-Leninist theory of progress differs in prin- 
ciple from the bourgeois theories which set the develop- 
ment of technology apart from socio-political conditions. 

It may be noted that Lenin regarded the interests of de- 
velopment of productive forces (and, correspondingly, of 
labour productivity) as the supreme criterion of social 
progress and linked this indicator organically with the 
working masses’ living conditions.1 The same technical 
and economic problems, arising in conditions where the 
level of productive forces is the same, are solved different- 
ly, and, what is especially important, have different social 
consequences in the capitalist and socialist countries. It is 
not so much technological progress that is important as 
the question of who benefits by it and how it influences 
the living conditions of the broad masses. 

An important law of social development in the condi- 
tions of pre-communist formations is the periodical dis- 
ruption of history’s general advance by reverse movements. 
Lenin stresses that “it is undialectical, unscientific and 
theoretically wrong to regard the course of world history 
as smooth and always in a forward direction, without oc- 
cassional gigantic leaps back”, that “history advances by 
zigzags and roundabout ways”.2 The reverse movement, 
regress, may affect both the system as a whole (for instance, 
disintegration of an obsolete socio-economic formation) 
and different elements of a developing system. Taking 
advantage of the contradictory tendencies of social de- 

1 See Lenin, Collected Works, Vol. 13, p. 242; Vol. 29, p. 427. 
2 Lenin, Collected Works, Vol. 22, p. 310. 


velopment, the reactionary classes can for a time prevail 
over the progressive forces and restore the obsolete social 
and political forms (what are called epochs of reaction). 
Moreover, the progressive development of some phenomena 
and elements is often accompanied by the decline and de- 
gradation of others. Reactionary phenomena, however, are 
merely a product of disintegration of obsolete social forms 
and their replacement by new ones which have absorbed 
all the solid and valuable elements of the preceding 

Society’s history is made by people. “History,” Marx 
wrote, “does nothing, it possesses no immense wealth, it 
‘wages no battles’. It is man, real living man, that does all 
that, that possesses and fights; ‘history’ is not a person 
apart, using man as a means for its own particular aims; 
history is nothing but the activity of man pursuing his 
aims.”! It follows, therefore, that it is social man who is 
the creator and vehicle of social progress; not a man in 
general, however, but specific social and class forces of 

The leading role in the struggle for peace and social 
progress in present-day society is played by Marxist-Lenin- 
ist parties which unite all the progressive, revolutionary 
forces. The path of the Communists is thorny and arduous. 
They have many enemies and opponents. Diverse and still 
powerful forces of world reaction, the forces of the enemies 
of social progress, are rallying under the banner of anti- 
communism. Nor does the communist movement itself de- 
velop without very serious contradictions. The influence of 
opportunism of all brands—revisionism, dogmatism, “Left” 
sectarianism and nationalism—at times sways not only 
certain party leaders but whole parties, thus undermining 
the strength and unity of the world communist movement. 

Reaction’s victories, however, can be only partial and 
temporary. The revolutionary movement is invincible, and 
precisely because it is expressive of the progressive ten- 
dency of world social development, of the vital interests of 
the broad working masses, for the sake of which society 
is advancing along the path of progress. 

' K. Marx and F. Engels, The Holy Family, or Critique of Critical 
Critique, p. 125. 


2. Types of Social Progress 

Progress has been going on all through human history. 
But its rates and types differ and depend on the nature 
of the social system. Typical of the primitive-communal, 
slave-owning and feudal societies were slow rates of de- 
velopment, recurrences of one and the same cycle and con- 
siderable periods without anything new appearing in their 
content. Explaining the protracted crisis of the slave- 
owning system, Engels wrote among other things: ““Wher- 
ever slavery is the main form of production it turns labour 
into servile activity, consequently makes it dishonourable 
for freemen. Thus the way out of such a mode of produc- 
tion is barred, while on the other hand slavery is an im- 
pediment to more developed production, which urgently 
requires its removal. This contradiction spells the doom 
of all production based on slavery and of all communities 
based on it. A solution comes about in most cases through 
the forcible subjection of the deteriorating communities by 
other, stronger ones (Greece by Macedonia and later Rome). 
As long as these themselves have slavery as_ their 
foundation there is merely a shifting of the centre and a 
repetition of the process on a higher plane until (Rome) 
finally a people conquers that replaces slavery by another 
form of production.” 

Capitalism vastly accelerates the rates of social devel- 
opment while aggravating the antagonism of social rela- 
tions. It should be borne in mind that internal antagonistic 
development, which manifests itself in its extreme uneven- 
ness, disproportionality and spontaneity, is not a transient, 
fortuitous or particular trait of the exploiting society but 
the basic law of all class-antagonistic formations. “No 
antagonism, no progress,’ Marx wrote about the exploit- 
ing epoch, “This is the law that civilisation has followed 
up to our days.” 

Development in the conditions of all exploiting forma- 
tions is thus typified by antagonisms, unevenness and zig- 
zags. Engels wrote: ‘Since the exploitation of one class 
by another is the basis of civilisation, its whole develop- 

4 Frederick Engels, Anti-Dihring, p. 478. 
2 Karl Marx, The Poverty of Philosophy, p. 61. 


ment moves in a continuous contradiction. Every advance 
in production is at the same time a retrogression in the 
condition of the oppressed class, that is, of the great ma- 
jority. What is a boon for the one is necessarily a bane 
for the other; each new emancipation of one class always 
means a new oppression of another class.”’! 

In antagonistic formations progress in any one respect 
is usually attended by regress in another. The progress of 
technology and the development of social division of la- 
bour enormously increase its productivity. The reverse side 
of progress, however, are man’s transformation into an 
appendage of the machine, dehumanisation of labour, 
increasing social alienation and exploitation. Scientific pro- 
gress leads to the appearance of new means of mass an- 
nihilation. The relatively high living standards in the 
developed capitalist countries have been achieved to a con- 
siderable extent through the ruthless exploitation of dep- 
endent countries. 

Capitalism, on the one hand, creates an unparalleled 
wealth of requirements and forms of human activity, and, 
on the other hand, it dooms the working masses to monot- 
onous, stupefying labour which maims the individual and 
supplants all the physical and spiritual feelings with the 
one crude feeling of possession. This disparity between the 
material wealth of capitalist society and the crisis of its 
spiritual culture, the crisis of the individual, is especially 
evident in the contemporary epoch. 

Under capitalism which has entered a period of general 
crisis, there is an unprecedentedly acute contrast between 
the amazing achievements of the latest scientific and tech- 
nical revolution and the depth of moral degradation of 
the ruling exploiting “elite” (fascism, policy of nuclear- 
rocket intimidation, and so forth). 

The zigzag nature of progress under capitalism finds 
expression in the fact that onward development is period- 
ically interrupted and periods of rise alternate with 
periods of decline and reaction. Wars and economic crises 
destroy part of the accumulated productive forces. ‘“Cap- 
italism is progressive because it destroys the old methods 
of production and develops productive forces,” Lenin 

' Marx and Engels, Selected Works, Vol. 1, p. 325. 

wrote, “yet at the same time, at a certain stage of de- 
velopment, it retards the growth of productive forces. It 
develops, organises, and disciplines the workers—and 
it crushes, oppresses, leads to degeneration, poverty, 

This is particularly true of imperialism, which is a turn 
to reaction all along the line, which seeks to destroy even 
the democratic institutions that had been established 
earlier and breeds reactionary trends in ideology and cul- 
ture. Mankind is now entering the period of unpreced- 
ented scientific and technical revolution—mastery of nu- 
clear energy, space conquest, development of modern 
chemistry and biology, automation of production and other 
major achievements of science and technology. But cap- 
italist relations of production considerably weaken the 
potentialities of the scientific and technical revolution. 
This revolution can be consummated and, what is 
most important, its fruit can be used in the interest of 
the masses only on the basis of new, socialist social 

The antagonistic contradictoriness of historical progress 
that is peculiar to exploiting society is vividly reflected in 
Western sociology. The idea of progress was the most 
popular and exciting idea of the 19th century. Politicians 
swore by progress, scientists wrote of progress, poets waxed 
enthusiastic about progress. But the theories of progress 
of the victorious bourgeoisie differed substantially from 
the conceptions of the revolutionary bourgeoisie. 

The ideologists of the rising bourgeoisie were very crit- 
ical of the state of things at their time and regarded the 
idea of progress as a weapon of asserting the future. Begin- 
ning with the 1830s, the bourgeois theories of progress 
appealed more and more to the present instead of the 
future. But while they saw (and quite rightly) progress in 
the replacement of feudal relations by the capitalist, the 
ideologists of the victorious bourgeoisie no longer saw the 
possibility of further social development. With the victory 
of capitalist relations, with the establishment of capitalist 
“civilisation” history, they held, had done its job and had 
actually come to an end. There was nothing more to be 

1 Lenin, Collected Works, Vol. 16, p. 348. 

done, and all that remained was to admire what had been 
achieved and to embellish it in various ways. While the 
Enlighteners urged to fight for a better future, the “aim of 
history” was now proclaimed achieved. Thus, the idea of 
progress, one-sidedly turned towards the past, gradually 
became an instrument of conformity to the existing system. 

Rejecting the scientific analysis of social processes pro- 
per, the Western bourgeois sociology since the mid-19th 
century preferred to discuss the “laws of evolution” in gen- 
eral, regarding it as an automatic process which people 
are powerless to change. The “law of evolution” proclaimed 
capitalist “free competition” to be the main motive force 
of social development. 

But as the antagonistic contradictions of capitalism grew 
more acute, sociological optimism also weakened and 
Western bourgeois sociology became more and more beset 
by doubts, scepticism and pessimism. 

First the 1848 Revolution and then the Paris Commune 
showed the more astute bourgeois ideologists that the exist- 
ing order was unstable, and filled them with pessimism 
and fear. Although there was still talk about progress, 
especially in view of the tempestuous development and 
the increasing number of discoveries in science and tech- 
nology, the development of capitalist society’s productive 
forces far from eliminating its basic contradictions, on the 
contrary, aggravated them to the extreme. This partly 
explained the disappointment with and then the undisguised 
animosity towards scientific and technical progress 
which penetrated into Western sociology in the last thirty 
years or so of the 19th century and subsequently manifest- 
ed themselves in it in increasing measure. 

Typical of the mood of the bourgeois intellectuals of 
the time was the entry made by the well-known French 
writers, the Goncourt brothers, in their Diary in 1869: 
“They were saying that Berthelot had predicated that a 
hundred years from now, thanks to physical and chemical 
science, man would know of what the atom is constituted, 
that he would be able to moderate the light of the sun 
at will, extinguish and kindle it again.... To all of this we 
raise no objection, but we have a feeling that, when this 
time comes in science, God with his white beard will come 
down to earth, swinging a bunch of keys, and will say to 


humanity, the way they say at 5 o’clock in the Salon: ‘Clos- 
ing time, gentlemen!’ ”! 

With the advent of the era of imperialism and espe- 
cially of the general crisis of capitalism, dismal moods 
began to grip bourgeois philosophers more and more. 
Neitzsche-Spengler pessimism, characteristic of the reac- 
tionary Western ideology of the early 20th century, not 
only expressed the bourgeoisie’s perplexity and fear of the 
future, but also the appearance of new, subtler forms in 
the political and ideological defence of capitalism. 

In the 19th century capitalism was usually portrayed as 
the best social system and the pinnacle of human evolu- 
tion. In the current century, many bourgeois ideologists 
finding it no longer possible to ignore the negative aspects 
of capitalism are even playing them up, claiming at the 
same time that they are characteristic of human being in 
general. To all appearances they want to persuade people 
that the struggle against these evils is doomed to failure 
from the very start and can only bring them new and need- 
less suffering. Life is abominable and terrible, social pes- 
simist philosophers repeat over and over again, and it can- 
not be otherwise; there is no need to fight, nothing to 
strive for, nothing to hope for; the better man knows the 
world, the clearer his own impotence becomes. And the 
only way out is to abandon this world, to seek salvation 
by retreating into oneself, to try to save at least one’s 
own wretched existence in the general catastrophe. 

Such an opinion of society and man leaves no room for 
the concept of progress. It is deleted from textbooks and 
encyclopaedias and is proclaimed an “optimistic illusion” 
contrary to scientific facts and mankind’s historical expe- 

As the French philosopher Michel de Montaigne has 
said, “when hailstones fall on a man’s head, he thinks the 
whole hemisphere is lashed by thunderstorm and tem- 
pest”. Something of the sort is happening to many West- 
ern sociologists. Sensing the instability of capitalist so- 
ciety, which is clearly on the decline, they are trying to 
doubt the very idea of history’s onward march. 

' Journal des Goncourt, Troisitme volume, 1866-70, Paris, 1888, 
pp. 287-88. 

21-360 321 

On the whole there are three basic views on the problem 
of progress characteristic of the modern sociological trends 
that are the most widespread in the capitalist countries. 

1. Complete negation of social progress, especially by 
stressing the antagonistic nature of the historical process 
and absolutising the specific regressive processes of pres- 
ent-day capitalism. 

2. The thesis that it is in principle impossible objective- 
ly, truthfully and scientifically to solve the problem of 
social progress and its criteria, a thesis whose gnoseologic- 
al basis is absolutisation of the relativity of historical know- 

3. Interpretation of social progress as an unlimited pos- 
sibility of improving society within the framework of con- 
temporary capitalism. 

The first of these lines manifests itself most graphically 
in diverse latter-day versions of the theory of historical 

The idea of historical cycle in itself is not new in the 
history of social thought. Italian philosopher Giovanni 
Battista Vico affirmed back in the 18th century that every 
nation passes through three stages in its development: the 
divine—mankind’s childhood, the heroic—mankind’s youth 
and the human—mankind’s maturity. In Vico’s theory, the 
idea of cycles was the first step towards understanding 
the laws of social development, an attempt to find in the 
endless stream of historical phenomena a certain degree 
of order and definite recurrency. 

Utterly different are the contemporary cyclic theories 
of social development, which are designed to prove the 
impossibility of social progress and try to pass off the 
crisis of capitalist civilisation for the crisis of civilisaton 
in general and each forward step made by mankind for 
a step bringing it closer to its doom. 

Thus, from the point of view of Oswald Spengler, a 
reactionary German philosopher whose book Untergang des 
Abendlandes scored a sensational hit with the bourgeois 
intelligentsia and petty bourgeoisie after the First World 
War, history is not a single process but a simple coexist- 
ence of cultures, each of them absolutely unique, original 
and exclusive. Each culture passes through strictly definite 
stages of development, which not only have the same con- 


tent but even the same duration. “Just as the metamor- 
phosis of insect in each given instance lasts a definite num- 
ber of predetermined days,’ he says, so does “each cul- 
ture, each of its initial stages, each rise and fall, each of 
its essential phases have a definite duration of recurrence 
that is always the same and always symbolic.”! This recur- 
rence of cycles and cultures discloses no succession, to say 
nothing of the law of progress. What is more, Western 
civilisation is doomed, according to Spengler, and this, in 
his opinion, means the doom of civilisation in general. 

Arnold Toynbee, a well-known British contemporary 
historian and _ sociologist, preaches something similar, 
though in a more subtle and flexible form, in his twelve- 
volume work A Study of History. His history of mankind 
is divided into a number of local “civilisations”, each of 
which passes through the same stages—genesis, growth, 
breakdown and disintegration. 

Analysing each civilisation as a self-contained exclusive 
whole and regarding the links between civilisations as 
secondary, Toynbee in principle does not negate progress 
in history. Just like a wheel which revolves monotonously 
and thus sets the cart in motion, he says, the cyclic move- 
ment of civilisations reveals certain progress in a definite 
direction. There is progress, he affirms, but only in the 
sense that people are gradually accustoming themselves to 
God. In short, the theoretical invalidity of the picture of 
universal history, drawn by the cyclic theory of social de- 
velopment, consists in the absolutisation of special and even 
separate processes and phenomena in history (collapse of 
concrete social organisms or different cultures) and in the 
neglect of processes which are of general and decisive 
importance in world history (onward development of 
mankind as a single whole from the lowest modes of 
production to the highest). 

The second line is relativistic criticism of the idea of 
progress and is primarily linked with positivist philosophy. 
In 1923 an American sociologist William W. Ogburn intro- 
duced the concept “social change” which soon became 
widely popular. 

1 Q. Spengler, Untergang des Abendlandes, Minchen, 1922, Bd. 1, 
S. 146-47. 

21° 823 

In one of the main theoretical reports delivered at the 
Third World Congress of Sociology, which was held in 
1956 and was especially dedicated to social changes, a well- 
known West German sociologist Leopold von Wiese eu- 
logised the “‘social change” category because it presupposed 
“the more cautious and sceptical evaluation of the vital 
and social variations in human life and of the difference 
between the generations”. Contemporary sociology, he said, 
tends ‘“‘to refrain from any judgement as to better or 
worse ... and to determine merely alternation or change”.! 
The concept ‘change’, echoes American sociologist 
Harry E. Barnes, is more definite and precise than the 
concept “progress” because it does not contain any evaluat- 
ing factor and permits factual] verification. The question 
of whether a given number of changes are progressive or 
regressive, Barnes says, always leads to a dispute concern- 
ing the criterion of the corresponding evaluation, while the 
concept “change” does not requife it. 

These ideas are widespread in Western historiography 

The French historian Maurice Crouzet says that it is 
impossible to compare different civilisations and to speak 
of “progress”, “laws of development”, etc. The task of his- 
torical science, to his mind, is ‘to describe and explain 
and not to judge by comparing historical reality with some 
type of ideal civilisation” .? 

Propounding “historism”, many Western historians res- 
olutely object to regarding the past as an indispensable 
stage in the preparation of the present and declare the 
idea of progress subjective and scientifically groundless. 
Each epoch, in their view, is something individual, unique, 
permitting no comparison with other epochs. Nega- 
tion of progress with the aid of the “social change” con- 
cept is theoretically untenable because its exponents con- 
centrate attention solely on the relative nature of ideas 
and conceptions about social progress (which undoubtedly 
can bear in greater or lesser degree the stamp of subject- 
ivism). They ignore the existence of objectively stable 

1 Transactions of the Third World Congress of Sociology, Vol. 1, 
Amsterdam, 1956, pp. 2-3. 
2 Histoire générale des civilisations, Paris, 1953, Vol. I, p. IX. 


and progressive tendencies in human history which are 
decisive for social development. 

The momentous successes in the spheres of scientific, 
technological, socio-economic, political and cultural de- 
velopment in the U.S.S.R. and in the countries of the social- 
ist system as a whole, and the obvious headway made of 
late by the young developing countries which emerged vic- 
torious from the national liberation struggle, strikingly dis- 
prove the socially pessimistic and sceptical views of the 
prospects of world development. It is this fact that is res- 
ponsible for the appearance of certain new tendencies in 
illuminating the problems of social advancement in the 
social philosophy of the present-day West. 

The ideas of development and progress, as the British 
sociologist Morris Ginsberg, one of the best-known Western 
specialists in the problem of progress, was compelled to 
admit, “are indeed now coming into prominence again as 
a result of the social transformations due to the tremen- 
dous advances in technology and the socialist revolutions 
of our time. The spread of these movements to the Asian 
and African worlds has intensified interest in comparative 
studies and has raised afresh the problem of levels of 

In this situation another, third line in the treatment of 
the problem of social progress has appeared in the West. 
The imperative need of creating a sociological conception 
which would recognise historical progress in principle 
(with definite stages, possibilities of comparing the levels 
of development, etc.), and, at the same time, proclaim the 
boundless possibilities of capitalist progress has been em- 
bodied fully, and in a manner adequately suiting state- 
monopoly capitalism, in the so-called theory of the stages 
of economic growth elaborated by Walt W. Rostow. This 
theory is closely intertwined with such widespread con- 
temporary Western socio-political concepts as ‘“‘welfare 
state”, “income balance”, “democratisation of capital” and 
other ideological theories advertising the bourgeois system. 

Rostow’s theory, outlined chiefly in his book The Stages 
of Economic Growth. A Non-Communist Manifesto (1960), as 

1M. Ginsberg, “Evolution and Progress”, Essays in Sociology and 
Social Philosophy, Vol. 3, Melbourne, London, Toronto, 1961, p. XI. 


well as in other works and public statements, was advanced 
to the fore of contemporary bourgeois sociology at the 
Fifth World Congress of Sociology in Washington in 1962. 

The main theoretical error of Rostow’s theory lies in the 
fact that his stages of growth (or progress) cover chiefly 
diverse technical and economic indices (and sometimes 
formally political ones) while the socio-economic structure 
and relations of production, which determine the essence 
of every society, are practically ignored. There is no 
analysis in his theory of the class content of social de- 
velopment and the role played by social revolutions as turn- 
ing points in transition from old society to a new, more 
progressive one. 

In his classification of the stages of society’s progres- 
sive development, Rostow does not keep to one principle— 
his scheme suffers from eclecticism and lack of inner logic 
and consistency. While the first four stages cover mainly 
technological, economic and scientific indices, the fifth— 
the highest stage, the “epoch of high mass consumption”— 
covers the peculiarities of consumption and services, and 
the suggested sixth stage is linked with the number of 
children in a family. 

Here, the definite simple criterion of social progress in 
fact disappears. 

Rostow’s interpretation of communism as a more or less 
fortuitous “disease of transitional society”, which will 
inevitably be overcome in the highest stage—the stage of 
“high mass consumption”—is highly typical of a bourgeois 
ideologist. Communism, he asserts, does not fit into so- 
ciety’s normal state and movement. Capitalism, on the 
other hand, notably in the United States, is proclaimed a 
society which has allegedly reached the peak of historical 
progress, the “epoch of high mass consumption”, and a 
model to be followed by all the peoples and states of the 
world. The grounds for this claim are the high level of 
production and especially average per capita consumption 
of such goods as automobiles, refrigerators, television sets, 
washing machines, etc. 

Rostow and the other champions of “American prog- 
ress” as an example for all to follow, completely ignore 
the fact that it is in the United States that the rule of 
capitalist monopolies with all its profoundly reactionary 


consequences is most firmly established. For it is the 
United States that is the might, the fire and the sword 
behind all the most reactionary political regimes, the main 
source of the threat of a world nuclear-rocket war, a land 
of mass unemployment and rampant racial discrimination, 
where organised crime has reached unprecedented propor- 
tions and all sorts of social diseases affecting individuals 
are extremely widespread. 

As for the claim about U.S. prosperity even President 
Johnson belied it when he declared that poverty and 
deprivation were still one of the most acute problems fac- 
ing the United States. A book edited by Leon Keyserling, 
a prominent American economist, reveals that two-fifths 
of the U.S. population—77 million people!—suffer from 
poverty and privations and only 7 per cent are relatively 
well off.! This picture of “social progress” with all its 
contradictions and antagonisms is typical of the capitalist 

3. New Type of Social Progress 

More than a century ago Marx wrote that “the bourgeois 
period of history has to create the material basis of the 
new world: on the one hand, the universal intercourse 
founded upon the mutual dependency of mankind and the 
means of that intercourse; on the other hand, the develop- 
ment of the productive powers of man and the transfor- 
mation of material production into a scientific domination 
of natural agencies. Bourgeois industry and commerce 
create these material conditions of a new world in the same 
way as geological revolutions have created the surface of 
the earth. When a great social revolution shall have mas- 
tered the results of the bourgeois epoch, ...then only will 
human progress cease to resemble that hideous pagan 
idol, who would not drink nectar but from the skulls of 
the slain.”2 This means that the victory of socialist revolu- 
tion and establishment of communist formation give rise 
to a new type of social progress. 

1 See Poverty and Deprivation in U.S.A., The Plight of the Two- 
Fifths of a Nation, Conference on Economic Progress, 1962. 

2 Karl Marx and Frederick Engels, On Britain, Moscow, 1962, 
pp. 405-06. 


In analysing the question of communist progress it 
should be borne in mind that the communist socio-eco- 
nomic formation itself goes through two stages of develop- 
ment—socialism and communism proper. 

In principle, the distinctive features of the new commu- 
nist type of social progress, the highest in history, are already 
manifest under socialism, inasmuch as it is based on the 
social ownership of the means of production, precludes 
exploitation of man by man and social antagonisms and 
creates the necessary conditions for the planned develop- 
ment of the economy, swift development of the productive 
forces and steady growth of labour productivity, and great- 
er freedom and social justice for man, for all working 
people. Historically all this has been proved by the mighty 
progressive development of socialist countries. 

At the same time, in socialist conditions, the concrete 
content and forms of progress are naturally influenced by 
the fact that the new formation is not yet fully mature 
economically, socially and spiritually (hence the inequal- 
ity in the material living conditions of different people, in 
their cultural and technical level, in the degree of com- 
munist consciousness, etc.). But all these distinctive fea- 
tures and difficulties of onward development under social- 
ism, on which contemporary bourgeois ideologists often 
base their speculations, cannot refute the indisputable fact 
that under socialism human progress loses its antagonistic 
and contradictory nature and becomes humane in essence 
because it is promoted in the interests of all working 
masses and peoples. 

The humane nature of socialist progress stands out with 
the utmost clarity in the light of the 50 years’ experience 
of the existence and development of the new society in 
the U.S.S.R. Abolition of all exploiting classes, industrial- 
isation, collectivisation, the cultural revolution and the 
creation and consolidation of socialist democracy and 
statehood are all the chief and closely related milestones 
of the progressive development of socialist society, which 
is taking place in the interests of broad working masses. 
This development, based on the accelerated growth of the 
productive forces, has produced a radical change in social 
relations and fostered the social and moral-political unity 
of all social and national groups of Soviet society. All these 


links of the revolutionary remaking of society were not an 
aim in itself; they occasioned fundamental changes in the 
condition of the working people: eradication of capitalist 
oppression, exploitation, social and national antagonisms 
and unemployment. A genuinely democratic society has 
appeared, and favourable conditions for the all-round de- 
velopment of the individual have been created. People’s life 
became incomparably happier. The average life span in 
the world’s first socialist state increased from 32 years 
(before the October Revolution) to 70 years. 

The new type of social progress which is embodied in 
socialism and communism, reflects all the determining 
features of the mode of production typical of this society, 
its basis and superstructure. Under socialism and com- 
munism the rates of social progress are incomparably 
higher than in an antagonistic society. 

The communist formation is more than just a higher 
social organism than capitalism. It means the end of 
mankind’s pre-history, a leap from the realm of necessity 
into the realm of freedom and, consequently, it means the 
appearance of a qualitatively new, higher type of social 
progress. The establishment and development of the new, 
communist social formation substantially changes the 
basic content of social progress. In capitalist society, the 
development of production is merely an aim in itself, and 
man is only a means of this development. Therefore prog- 
ress in the decisive, economic sphere there is attended by 
the growing alienation and self-alienation of the individ- 
ual in diverse manifestations and is consequently anti- 
humane in character. 

Under communism, on the contrary, society comes to a 
point when, as Marx had foreseen, “the development of 
the social individual ... is the main basis of production 
and wealth”.! 

The main content of social progress in a communist 
socio-economic formation, its essence, which manifests 
itself with the maturity of communist society, is the free, 
that is, unrestricted by any forces alien to the social man, 
all-round and unbounded development of the individual, 

{“From the Unpublished Manuscripts of K. Marx”, Bolshevik, 
Nos. 11 and 12, 1939 (in Russian). 


and, consequently, the development of society’s main and 
universal productive force. The C.P.S.U. Programme des- 
cribes the goals and essence of progress in communist 
society in the most lucid and simple terms: communism 
accomplishes the historic mission of delivering all men 
from social inequality, from every form of oppression and 
exploitation, from the horrors of war, and proclaims Peace, 
Labour, Freedom, Equality, Fraternity and Happiness 
for all peoples of the earth. 

Progress in a communist formation differs from that of 
exploiting formations by a range of concrete traits and 
features. Let us enumerate the main ones. 

In the preceding formations, progress had an antagon- 
istic character and was fostered directly in the interest of 
the ruling classes and definite groups of the population at 
the cost of great suffering of the masses. Progress in a 
communist formation is absolutely different in character, 
and onward development is promoted directly and solely 
in the interest of the whole of society, of all its groups 
and members for the sake and benefit of all people and 
each person taken separately. In general this line of 
progressive development reveals itself as a basic law 
in the very first phase of communist society—under 

In the preceding formations, progress was profoundly 
uneven and disproportionate: the rapid development of 
some sides of social life was accompanied by the substan- 
tial lag, stagnation and even relative regression of others. 
In a communist formation progress is accomplished in all 
the spheres of social and private life, and is on the whole 
all-round and harmonious. Progress in one sphere actively 
promotes progress in another. The material, technical and 
socio-economic progress actively stimulates cultural prog- 
ress, while the rise in the level of ideological education 
helps to create the material and technical basis of com- 
munism, form communist social relations and mould a 
new man. 

Under communism harmonious relations between the 
individual and society are asserted on the basis of the 
unity of social and personal interests. 

In the past epochs, the progress of some countries, so- 
cieties and geographical regions was usually accomplished 


at the expense of exploiting others and retarding their 

In the communist epoch, the progress of some countries, 
republics and geographical regions actively promotes prog- 
ress in others on the basis of all-round mutual assistance, 
comradely co-operation and rational division of labour. 
This accelerates the development of the lagging countries 
and regions and leads to the general evening out of their 
levels of development. 

Progress in a communist formation, unlike that in exploit- 
ing society, is all-embracing. It is the only type of prog- 
ress destined to become truly universal, in the sense that 
sooner or later it will draw all countries and all peoples 
into its orbit and will ultimately rule supreme throughout 
the world. 

Prior to the epoch of socialist revolution, economic prog- 
ress in the main lacked conscious guidance and was, as 
a rule, unplanned and spontaneous (or semi-spontaneous). 

Following the victory of socialist relations progress de- 
velops more and more on the basis of people’s conscious 
and purposeful guidance of their own social being, in an 
increasingly planned manner, on the basis of social plan- 
ning and prognostication for longer periods and growing 
accuracy. Lenin wrote in this connection: “We have now 
acquired an opportunity which rarely occurs in history of 
ascertaining the period necessary for bringing about radical 
social changes; we now see clearly what can be done in 
five years and what requires much more time.”! 

Society’s development is guided more and more directly 
by the masses led by the Marxist-Leninist party. In the 
first phase of communism, the masses administer society 
mainly through the socialist state and the special machine 
of public authority, which is called upon to express the 
state will of the working people and is controlled by them. 
Under full communism the masses will administer society 
directly inasmuch as the state as such will wither away 
and the necessary functions will be exercised within the 
framework of social self-government by all the members 
of society. 

In the preceding epoch there could be no_ progress 

1 Lenin, Collected Works, Vol, 33, p. 483. 

without bitter class struggle and social revolutions in which 
the broad masses expended a vast amount of energy and 
strength and lost a great many lives on the indispensable 
destructive activity linked with the abolition of the 
obsolete system. 

In the communist formation the need for class struggle 
or social revolutions to solve the internal contradictions 
of onward development disappears once and for all. The 
negation of the old, which is an important factor in the 
development and solution of contradictions, remains but 
radically alters its character and becomes non-antagonist- 
ic. This non-antagonistic negation testifies to the unparal- 
leled depth and all-embracing character of social progress, 
inasmuch as the entire energy of the people and all the 
values go to further positive, creative and not destructive 

In class-antagonistic formations, society’s general pro- 
gressive development was invariably interrupted by lengthy 
periods of regress and cyclic movement as a result of 
counter-revolutions, wars of aggrandisement and diverse 
crises which inevitably break out in the final phase of 
existence of any exploiting formation. 

A feature of progress in a communist formation is its 
uninterrupted character. Crises, recessions and periods of 
regress are objectively alien to progress in a society deliv- 
ered from exploitation. True, in the lower phase of the 
communist formation—under socialism—there are periods 
when social progress is retarded. But, they are due to the 
influence exerted by forces that are foreign to socialism 
and by the survivals of the past and are of temporary, 
transient nature and are eliminated by the internal forces 
of socialist society in its uninterrupted progressive devel- 

Being gradual in character progress in a communist for- 
mation is at the same time distinguished for its unprece- 
dentedly fast rates. 

The development of the formations preceding commu- 
nism was restricted to certain bounds, and on reaching 
them progressive development within these formations 
exhausted itself. Social ownership of the means of produc- 
tion in the conditions of highly developed economy and 
all-round development of social man himself, opens bound- 


less prospects for the growth of productive forces and the 
comprehensive development of society’s material and spir- 
itual life. This is the objective basis of the most important 
feature of communist progress—its inexhaustibility and 

The end of class society is also the end of man’s pre- 
history and the beginning of his real history. A man freed 
from all social oppression, from the subjugating influence 
of the old division of labour will develop his abilities and 
gifts to the full. The entire development of human society 
will be tremendously accelerated. Steadily taming the 
elements, society will also fully master the laws of its own 
development and its intricate and multiform social rela- 

Communism completely emancipates society from the 
historical narrow-mindedness typical of the preceding 
formations, and opens boundless vistas for human prog- 

The scientific theory of society, historical materialism, 
discloses the fundamental nature of social relations, reveals 
the objective laws of social development and the role 
played by different social factors in the lives of people, 
indicates the actual place and role of man in the social 
process, in the struggle of different social and class forces, 
and thoroughly substantiates the inevitability of the vic- 
tory of socialism and communism. In this lies the great, 
ever-lasting significance of historical materialism. 


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