Some vacuous agitprop

Some vacuous agitprop for an upcoming election I couldn't care less about:

I'll still be advocating for a different course for America come the first Tuesday of this November; namely, the dictatorship of the proletariat.

"The proletariat, when it seizes power, ... should and must at once undertake socialist measures in the most energetic, unyielding and unhesitant fashion, in other words, exercise a dictatorship, but a dictatorship of the class, not of a party or of a clique -- dictatorship of the class, that means in the broadest possible form on the basis of the most active, unlimited participation of the mass of the people, of unlimited democracy." -- Rosa Luxemburg, The Russian Revolution.

Some non-Marxist (bourgeois and, admittedly, anarchist) commentators have either taken the phrase 'dictatorship of the proletariat' at face value and have shrunk back from them, or have glibly remarked on the unfortunate choice Marx made when he wrote of this so-called "dictatorship."

However, Marx and his followers have been abundantly clear political power in all class societies consists in a dictatorship of the owning classes over the producing class (though in rare cases, they contend, neither class has the faculty to rule). Indeed, as Marx said, "political power is merely the organized power of one class for oppressing another." Proletarian dictatorship, however, in contradistinction to our contemporary bourgeois dictatorships, is radical precisely in that it is a dictatorship of the masses. For the first time since society was 'cleaved' into opposing classes, the masses will be the ones with the power.

Furthermore, and once more in contradistinction to the bourgeois state, which assumes new powers and grows stronger as the struggle between classes continues and intensifies, the proletarian dictatorship (which will certainly not find its expression in the form of the state) aims not at maintaining the current inequitable class divisions, but instead the destruction of class society and its preconditions. As such, and because of its representation of the majority of the population, the proletarian "dictatorship" (and perhaps you now see why this has been a contested word) is inherently and exceedingly democratic.

As Marx and Engels have also said, "freedom consists in converting the state from an organ superimposed upon society into one completely subordinate to it..." However, as hinted at above, I reject the idea the political power will find its expression in what's considered to be a 'state.' In fact, even Engels, that affable authoritarian, said that "the first act by which the state really comes forward as the representative of the whole of society -- the taking possession of the means of production in the name of society -- is also its last independent act as a state." How is this? Well, because Marxist theory has posited that political power takes the form of the state only insomuch as this power "stands above society." For example, political power, which could include influence because politics at its simplest deals with organization, was not yet "above the people" during the historical period about which the following was written of the Dine (Navajo): "... a leader's authority was based solely on his prestige and ability to gain the support of the members of his group. He did not have formal authority, but rather his influence rested on his personality, intelligence, generosity, and ability to persuade others through oratorical skills."

Much the same under socialism. As Pannekoek (who I've quoted far too often in the last few days) wrote, "[T]hough the individuals have to conform to the whole there is no government above the people; people itself is government. Council organisation is the very means by which working mankind, without need of a ruling government, organizes its vital activities."

P.S. This is a very orthodox, mostly Marxist theory of the state. The main ideas are in line with what Lenin wrote in 1917; the quotes from Marx and Engels are from the mid-19th century.

"The workers must put themselves at the command not of the state authority but of the revolutionary community councils which the workers will have managed to get adopted... Arms and ammunition must not be surrendered on any pretext." -- Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, Address to the Central Committee of the Communist League