Marxist-Leninist Communist Party of Venezuela (PCMLV)

The lessons of the Third International

On March 2, 1919, the First Congress of the Communist International, known as the Third International, was opened in Russia. In this event of great world historical significance, Lenin gave the opening speech in which he masterfully described the tactics of the Communist Parties to achieve victory and the establishment of the dictatorship of the proletariat.

In such an important event, besides the opening remarks Lenin put forward the “Theses and Report on Bourgeois Democracy and the Dictatorship of the Proletariat.” In these he provided clearly and precisely the points of view that Marxist-Leninists must take up to be consistent with the course of action that gives continuity to the Third International.

Lenin said in these theses: “1. Faced with the growth of the revolutionary workers’ movement in every country, the bourgeoisie and their agents in the workers’ organizations are making desperate attempts to find ideological and political arguments in defense of the rule of the exploiters.” He denounced the use of falsehoods and hypocrisy in condemning dictatorship and defending democracy without taking into account their class character, using the concepts of “democracy in general” and “dictatorship in general,” about which he talks in the following thesis: “This non-class or above-class presentation, which supposedly is popular, is an outright travesty of the basic tenet of socialism, namely, its theory of class struggle, which socialists who have sided with the bourgeoisie recognize in words but disregard in practice. For in no civilized capitalist country does ‘democracy in general’ exist; all that exists is bourgeois democracy” Lenin settled scores with the traitors of the Second International, denouncing their nature as serving capitalism on a fundamental issue in which social democracy serves as shield-bearer of the bourgeoisie in denying the dictatorship of the proletariat and defending counter-revolutionary criteria, hiding the class character of the State and its forms of government, defending a “democracy in general” that never existed anywhere, nor could it exist.

Furthermore, the third thesis explains the historical necessity of the dictatorship of the proletariat: “History teaches us that no oppressed class ever did, or could, achieve power without going through a period of dictatorship, i.e., the conquest of political power and forcible suppression of the resistance always offered by the exploiters – a resistance that is most desperate, most furious, and that stops at nothing.” This important reflection is central for us revolutionaries today to understand that despite the whole offensive of social democracy to justify bourgeois rule and its attacks on Marx, Engels, Lenin and Stalin for their position on the need for the dictatorship of the proletariat, there are clear arguments that allow the exploited and the people to understand the underlying reasons for the utilization of revolutionary violence to ensure the proletarian control and its necessary dictatorship as the only way to advance towards the real building of socialism, discarding the petty bourgeois “democratic” deceptions.

In his arguments V.I. Lenin went into detail with clear and accurate examples: “The history of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries demonstrated, even before the war, what this celebrated ‘pure democracy’ really is under capitalism. Marxists have always maintained that the more developed, the ‘purer’ democracy is, the more naked, acute and merciless the class struggle becomes, and the ‘purer’ the capitalist oppression and bourgeois dictatorship/1 In this thesis he contrasts democracy and dictatorship, as well as the dictatorship of the proletariat and the dictatorship of the bourgeoisie, clarifying the role of the social-democrats: “The main thing that socialists fail to understand and that constitutes their short-sightedness in matters of theory, their subservience to bourgeois prejudices and their political betrayal of the proletariat is that in capitalist society, whenever there is any serious aggravation of the class struggle intrinsic to that society, there can be no alternative but the dictatorship of the bourgeoisie or the dictatorship of the proletariat. Dreams of some third way are reactionary, petty-bourgeois lamentations.... This is also borne out by the whole science of political economy, by the entire content of Marxism, which reveals the economic inevitability, wherever commodity economy prevails, of the dictatorship of the bourgeoisie that can only be replaced by the class which the very growth of capitalism develops, multiplies, welds together and strengthens, that is, the proletarian class.” The Third International took these proposals of the great leader of the proletariat and adopted them as theses of the real Communists, among other elements of great theoretical profundity that today help revolutionaries to clarify the way forward; these principles are also taken up by our International Conference of Marxist-Leninist Parties and Organizations (ICMLPO), which in 2014 marked 20 years of its existence fighting to consolidate an international reference point of the Marxist-Leninist Communists, of the Revolutionary Communists, who denounce the bourgeoisie, the social democrats and reformists from whom we differentiate ourselves in practice and in theory.

The world today is marked by a full imperialist offensive to achieve a new re-division of the world. In this the confrontation between the great powers on the one hand, their offensive against the dependent countries to secure sources of raw materials and markets on the other hand, as well as the contradiction between capital and labor within each country, whether imperialist or dependent, mark the big contradictions of this stage. The reference points established by the Third International, especially Lenin’s proposals, play an important role in defining the actions of our parties.

The thesis adopted at the First Congress of the Third International make clear to us why the dictatorship of the proletariat is necessary as a means to overthrow the exploiters and the only defence against the war of capital, which is expressed in the dictatorship of the bourgeoisie, which in the world today has brought violence to higher levels as an expression of finance capital in the form of fascism.

Just as the form of bourgeois dictatorship changes, the form of the proletarian democracy also changes: “It follows that proletarian dictatorship must inevitably entail not only a change in democratic forms and institutions, generally speaking, but precisely such a change as provides an unparalleled extension of the actual enjoyment of democracy by those oppressed by capitalism – the toiling classes.”

CC of the PCMLV

Caracas, April 2014

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