The Batrachomyomachia (CXV)
To gives back the "the".
In the preceding "Filo" , in order to put in relation the decline of individual functions in history with regard to the field of mental activities as well as with that of economic activities, we have cited Engels' passage where he defines the advent of the fourth and last phase of capitalism: that of the disappearance of the bourgeoisie, which, by entrusting production and exchange to the State, is revealed to be a "superfluous class", whose social functions are "assumed by paid employees".
Engels insists on this fact in different and suggestive passages which relate to no less expressive passages by Marx about the impersonality of capital and the pure and simple character of the capitalist figure.
It is evident that we have cited these passages in order to establish that where the control and the management of enterprises of production by the State, and even where the entire industry has been nationalised, we cannot speak about socialism.
This observation is by no means the only one. We must also draw two elements from these quotations: In the first place, cases of capitalist nationalisation were already realised and known when the Marxist doctrine was being built, and, consequently, these were not new historical facts for Marx and Engels; in the second place, not only had they predicted the systematic diffusion of these forms, as an inevitable consequence of the concentration of capital, but they had based this prediction on the Marxist definition of capital, which opposed its bourgeois definition. Capital is, as soon as it appears, a social form and force of production and not a new personal form of private property.
That is why, precisely, if we hadn't arrived at the nationalisations, and if the modern state had shown itself capable of remaining foreign to the economy, not only would this prediction of Marxism have failed, but the anti-Marxist theory of capitalist production would have sent our own to the carpet.
In other words: since the first appearance of the capital, its attribution to individual private owners does not constitute the essential and discriminating character of the capital.
Its essential characteristics are different: we have recalled them numerous times, but we will return to them patiently.
We prefer the ignorants
Given the evident character of these things, we are astonished that these texts are known in detail (since they use the same quotations) by certain intellectual leaders of groupuscules and movements, whose fault is not to have limited numbers, but to pretend that, with these limited numbers, they could manage dry docks for theories that have sailed through history through the centuries and millions of people.
If such a position were logical, it is obvious that it would be the failure of the Marxist thesis according to which a new historical program cannot appear in the head of an individual author, or worse, in a small cenacle of an existentialist "boutique".
The example we are going to occupy ourselves with is that of the magazine "Socialisme ou Barbarie" and its editor, Chaulieu, who does not seem to us to be the most dense and asinine amongst the a-marxists. Un vero peccato.
Who will refit the refitters? It is a here only a question of clearing away their patchwork, doing so without shedding a tear for some who admire and participate in their work, singling out the pretensions even if it is painful to think that, in the past, rightly or wrongly, they claimed to be the orthodoxy of our school. The big ship traverses better than ever the ocean storms, and, if it were to be kept on the surface by these people, it would have sunk a long time ago.
It is to depersonalise and to delocalise the debate that we will henceforth speak of refitters and patch installers.
The attempt to prove that the shortcomings exist is clear from phrases such as this: "Both the evolution of capitalism and the development of the workers' movement have given rise to new problems, unforeseen and unpredictable factors, previously unsuspected tasks, under the weight of which the workers' movement has bent, to arrive at its current state of demise".
In the dock, therefore, for a small patching up with: "to become aware of those tasks, to respond to those problems". In Rome they would say: you said a prosperous thing!
After a certain reminder of the "Communist Manifesto", which is vaguely acknowledged for having presented some of the first revolutionary intuitions, and discovered this class struggle that Marx himself believed he had not discovered, one turns and turns to come to the conclusion that today's theory must be very different from that of 1848. Obviously we do not want to suggest that it would be necessary to add a few chapters, or even cut some dead branches to graft new ones, but that it is a matter of replacing the entire trunk. It is evident from the silly subtitles mimicking those classic ones from our "Manifesto": bourgeoisie and bureaucracy - bureaucracy and proletariat - proletariat and revolution, instead of the famous bourgeois and proletarian - proletarian and communist. And we will briefly show that, if we accept this central thesis: exit the bourgeoisie, ingredit the bureaucracy , we do not make a partial change but total change, we don't patch up the wooden hull but we show that it is being replaced by a steel one.
These so-called shipwrights are actually only launching small paper boats!
A new protagonist
If you want to know, in short, what was "unpredictable and unsuspected" in 1848 or in 1914 for Marx and his disciples, it is enough to extract it from another central sentence: "Basically, it can be said that the profound difference between the present situation and that of 1848 is due to the emergence of the bureaucracy, as a social layer tending to assume the succession of the traditional bourgeoisie in the period of decline of capitalism". This figure, who is defined as a new character on the scene of history, is not an actor who plays a supporting role, but on the contrary is a main actor. Indeed, it is presented as a social strata, but, quickly, it is elevated to the status of a class: how else would one define the Russian social situation, where the bourgeoisie has disappeared, as an economic and class structure? One class is the proletariat; the other? It is bureaucracy: it is clear.
The definition of bureaucracy as a social class is such a nonsense that, if we admit it for a moment, all the theory that existed at the time of the "Manifesto", and up to Lenin (that fortunately still exists today), shatters, and that no part and no chapter survives. But this would still be a small thing, because it would just be the beginning, next to so many others, of a new demolition of Marxism: they'll break their teeth! But the fact is that the error inherent in this doctrine lies not only in anti-Marxist but also pre-Marxist theses, that Marxism has suspected and anticipated, since it has continually denounced them as already outdated in its time, and crushed them in its classic "passages à tabac" (the type of thorough beating handed out in the commissariats of the police for those unfortunate enough to have been arrested).
We are therefore about to demonstrate that those who would like to play the "refitism" and "patchism" of the left bank style can do so, but that they must declare that they have torn apart, one by one, all the pages of both "Capital" and "The State and the Revolution".
Indeed, the exact opposite of the position of the international Marxist Left can only be better defined with these words: "The programme of proletarian revolution cannot remain as it was before the experience of the Russian revolution and the transformations that took place after the Second World War in all the countries of the Russian zone of influence". Something like this can be said to follow: those who begin to rewrite the program of proletarian revolution are precisely those who clearly prove that they have never learned what it was, what it is, and what it will be.
Our movement has an objective that is the opposite, and we think that we have provided a considerable contribution to this work: "The program of proletarian revolution must remain as it was before the Russian revolution and the First World War, and before the corruption of the Second International". Marx found in the commune of 1871 the program of the "Manifesto" of 1848; and Lenin found this same program in October 1917 and in the situation that followed the First World War. The important fact is that we do not see this programme being carried out in Russia, and that is quite obvious, but not for the reasons given by the "refitters". That is why, it would not be more realised in the event that their postulates were successful: proletarian democracy and control, and reduction of the benefits of the bureaucratic class. Because they can't ask for anything else.
A class born old
A sole consideration would suffice to show us that the discovery of this new planet of the solar system of the historical social classes - the class bureaucracy - lies pitifully outside the weakest understanding of materialistic dialectics, and to repress it in the metaphysical limbo of fully bourgeois thoughts. The parody of the "Manifesto" of 1848, which was recklessly attempted, lacks any explanation, justification or "apology" for this new original class that replaces the old ones. If we have witnessed, as it is claimed, its advent, we have witnessed the formation and victory of a "useless" class, for as soon as it appeared, we thought it deserved only unpleasant words. That this presentation is different from that of the "Manifesto" made by the bourgeois revolution, of the bourgeoisie and its conquest of the world! Are we dealing with a error, a distraction, an abortion of history? Is this Marxism, or is it an idealistic filth of the decadent bourgeoisie?
And why is this abortion with the horrible face of a decrepit old woman, which would only be good to be thrown into a jar full of alcohol, so frightening that it forces a complete change of the "program of revolution", and sends back to school the "midwife of history" to undergo the teaching of these pale surgeons.
This hypothesis, whereby the apparatus of class power - in Marxist language, bureaucracy and the state are only that - holds power not for the defence of one of the class production of production, but that he holds it for himself, for his own benefit, in order to get money from it to go to the cinema or to the brothel, this hypothesis is nothing other than the most vile edition of the most banal of objections to proletarian socialism: even if you place at the summit of society new forces, you will only start again at the beginning, since whoever governs and directs does so only for his own business. And every philistine will know how to tell you: the only recipe against this state of affairs is a moral recipe, that is that governors and governments be honest, and is a liberal recipe (control, heaven forbids!...) in which the one who is selected to lead is the servant of the electorate as, for example, in old England, or in young America! And it is with words of this style that you will teach Karl Marx something that he, the poor thing, hadn't come to suspect? Please. You're not even suited to revealing the truth to cuckolded husbands, which is a more serious job than your trade!
In a strange polemic that is somewhat blurred with Trotsky, to which they are wrong about everything he said was right, and vice versa, they seize on the fly one of his bad literary moments, in the sentence that follows the correct sentence (the certainty that the bureaucracy has no historical future) if the failure of the revolution allowed the bureaucracy to settle into power in a stable manner on a global scale, "it would be a regime of decline which would signify an eclipse of civilisation". The proletariat and Marxism would therefore be ready to trade their class program, if it were demonstrated that progress was declining and that a civilisation, which is common to all classes and which is above class struggles, threatens to pass into darkness? Progress and light of historical civilisation: these terms serve only to fall into what Marx and Engels have denounced unceasingly as being the ideology of bourgeois and petty-bourgeois socialism.
The "refitters" desire to surpass our crude Marxism; well, let them rejoice in this precious confession: if the regimes of decline succeed capitalism, and that the present civilisation (which is, for us, perhaps more tenebrous) is undergoing an eclipse, we will not type a single key of the typewriter or linotype, and we will not light a one of those famous votive candles; in protest: provided that we rid ourselves of the capitalist regime all together, we will let it go to bed in the dark.
But, to demonstrate how the claim to refurbish is, on the contrary, an attempt - albeit futile - to dismantle it piece by piece, a minimum order is necessary: we therefore examine first the question of economic course and then that of political power.
The polemic finds its origin in the desire to contradict the thesis of Trotsky whereby there still exists in Russia a workers state after the victory of the bureaucracy. Trotsky would have said (Trotsky's critical judgments should, in truth, be examined in a more rigorous logical order) that the economy was socialist in production, on the basis of the nationalisation of industry, but not socialist exclusively in the distribution (or better yet the repartition) of the profit (or better of products). But, in the refutation of this position, with the obvious argument that each historical form of production also presents, and in a way inseparably, its own specific characteristics of distribution, one commits a insane confusion of the basic terms and concepts of Marxist economics.
We are in disagreement with Trotsky on the definition and on the recognition of the different stages that have occurred in Russian social development since February 1917, and we consider that he has demonstrated a constant "retarded lag" in the accusations of abandonment of the different revolutionary positions: first in the tactical field, then in the political field, and finally in the economic field. Trotsky would not speak today - as his partner Sedova seems to have stated - neither of tactical maneuver, nor of power, nor of proletarian economics for Russia: it is a certainty.
But the indisputable superiority of Trotsky over his despisers, who, in matters of Marxism, do not reach his ankle, lies in the fact that he situates the development in the succession of historical events, that he understands that the relations between the strategy of manoeuvre and economic policy are defined by looking at the movement of all internal and external factors, and that he knows how to distinguish between the various ways of victory, of stopping and of defeat, of the revolutions in question; even when its particular solution is ill-adapted to the problem.
His critics do not have a historical and dialectical vision, and when they try to explain the international succession of facts, they do so by walking like crayfish, they see everything in a desperately static, statistical way, and, because they use words and phrases they have read in Marx, they believe they have found new and happy solutions. In truth, they do not rise above a flat "analysis" according to which, if you give me an aerial photograph of a country, I will explain to you what was, at the beginning, the position of the relationships of production and distribution, and then I will be able to give you my verdict on the "color" of the "regime".
This dialectical impotence makes it impossible for them to comprehend that there are times when the economy and politics, for example, production and distribution, and even the interests of the dominated class and those of the dominant class, seem to us to adopt a perfectly inverted march, as the history of revolutions and counterrevolutions taught it to Marx before 1848, and as a re-examination of subsequent events confirms that there is no need to hammer the slightest nail into the plates of the hull to cork up a hole.
The relations of production
This primary Marxist concept has not been digested at all, although we fell back on classical formulations. It was even overturned. The objective we want to achieve is to link the relations between production and distribution: this approach is right and we have borrowed correctly with regard to the mercantile characteristics of the Russian economy that demonstrate its capitalist nature, considering the present historical and general political conditions. But at the time of the introduction of the NEP, for example, the conclusion could have been different.
But the gravity of the error consists in the fact that by redefining the relations of production, the Marxist criterion is so deformed that one falls fully into a crass bourgeois anti-deterministic idealism. In spite of a correct starting point, we end up with this kind of thesis, repeated to satiation:"We know (!) that each relation of production is in the first place and immediately (?) organisation of productive forces in view of the productive result".
In this statement of a dozen words, all of which have changed places, we recognise all the bourgeois modes of thought in economics and philosophy.
The point of arrival to which all this tortuous exposition - consciousness and willing - insinuated itself under false appearances in the starting point to the point of making it deformed.
Take care: the theorem wants to define what all the relations of production of history, even the oldest ones, have in common.
The formula is therefore based on an idealistic and voluntarist theses: in the beginning was consciousness, in the beginning was will. Since someone was organising, that someone organised production and the economy according to his plan, that is, his will. And since the someone in question clearly had in view the result, he possessed already the science and awareness of economic laws.
Who the hell is that someone? Those who would answer: the average man, would be the anti-Marxist liberal, correct and loyal. Those who would affirm: the exceptional man, would be the honest disciples of one of the numerous idealistic schools. Those who would say:"the messenger of God," would be consistent supporters of revelation. But for the "refitters", we say to you right away, that someone is the dominant class (and in Russia, therefore, the bureaucracy, which rules over economic laws and productive results). The whole plot is there.
They pretend that they are Marxists because they introduce the class, even when it is not a class (and perhaps only in this case). They read Marx and scrutinised him thoroughly, perhaps they quote him more than we do, and rightly so when he demonstrates the opposite of "organising in view of productive results". It would have been better if they hadn't read him: there exists a method of reading books that is akin to the one used by the burglar to flip through the packs of thousand bills. A comrade of the first hour often has fun remembering the names of those people who knew Marx and his work inside out, but who were nevertheless the worst enemies of Marxism.
Let us repeat that the formula is general, since it concerns all historical relations of production. As if the Indian Maharajah, which receives his weight in gold in the form of tribute, as if the feudal lord who lived for decades on crusade, had never organised the slightest production. But when we think that it is applied to capitalism, we notice a relapse, as in philosophy, in bourgeois science of economics: the hunt for productive results. The movement that irresistibly pushes to produce without limit and without reason, and thus without awareness of results and without organisation, becomes, instead of the contradictory and unstable manifestation that is found in economic determinism, a conscious and desired search for results on the part of the dominant class, which "constructs" ad hoc the "material and personal" relationship. We have arrived at the desired point: everything is a relationship between two people, the boss and the worker. And then, we define in general all historical classes in this fossilised way: a group of people who know, want and direct, and another group of people who passively suffer and execute. So that the struggle between the classes, and above all between the forces that come from the old and new modes of production, is reduced to the ridiculous and verbose dimension of a series of aspects of another eternal conflict: that between the ruler and the performer! Voila, the other key formula of this flawed system.
Only if the formula given above were to define the mode of socialist production could one say: organisation of the productive forces in view of the result. But one should not add productive, an adjective that stinks from miles away of racketeering and capitalist economism, but rather the result of consumption, of usage. This will be realised at the end of a long period of time, in a society without classes, and when we have solved the philistine problem that consists in preventing the ruler from rolling the performer; but, as long as classes remain, the conscious realisation of the result is impossible, for the individuals and for the classes. This is only possible for the Party! That is why they reproach Lenin for having proclaimed this.
Missing the Point
We want to demonstrate that nationalised and state ownership is not socialism: this is right, but the path taken is wrong. They say that relations of production are a different kind of thing than forms of ownership. On the contrary, for Marx, they are both the same thing. That the enterprise belongs to an individual bourgeois or to the State, the form of ownership is the same: to understand it, it is enough to think not of the factory or the machines, but of the relationship between employee and product. The bourgeois form of property is that in which the worker is excluded from any right of appropriation over the product of the enterprise. Naturally, he is also excluded from any right of appropriation over the instruments of production, but this is a consequence of the material fact that he works in an associated way: it would be nice if (even by decision of the autonomous factory council) each worker took with him a brick from the wall or a cog from a machine...
And yet, we rely on the most perfect of Marx's enunciations, surely written on a day when the cursed carbuncle made him wish for death, and when he didn't have ghastly cigars to smoke: that of the 1859 Preface to the "A Contribution to the Critique of Political Economy". We will report it in its entirety, putting between parentheses the parts of sentences that have not been quoted in the text we are criticising:
"In the social production of their existence, men inevitably enter into definite relations, which are independent of their will, (namely relations of production appropriate to a given stage in the development of their material forces of production). The totality of these relations of production constitutes the economic structure of society, the real foundation, on which arises a legal and political superstructure (and to which correspond definite forms of social consciousness. The mode of production of material life conditions the general process of social, political and intellectual life. It is not the consciousness of men that determines their existence, but their social existence that determines their consciousness). At a certain stage of development, the material productive forces of society come into conflict with the existing relations of production or – this merely expresses the same thing in legal terms – with the property relations within the framework of which they have operated hitherto. (From forms of development of the productive forces these relations turn into their fetters. Then begins an era of social revolution. The changes in the economic foundation lead sooner or later to the transformation of the whole immense superstructure.
In studying such transformations) it is always necessary to distinguish between the material transformation of the economic conditions of production, (which can be determined with the precision of natural science), and the legal, political, (religious, artistic or philosophic – in short, ideological forms in which men become conscious of this conflict and fight it out). Just as one does not judge an individual by what he thinks about himself, so one cannot judge such a period of transformation by its consciousness, but, on the contrary, this consciousness must be explained from the contradictions of material life, from the conflict existing between the social forces of production and the relations of production."
The lesson of this text is clear. It is not we who say so, it is the passage you have mutilated that says so. Clear! After having read this text once, and if one is in possession of all his physiological faculties, one can, with a light heart, put to flames the library and snatch from his cerebral matter the circumvolution corresponding to the alphabet. But what is forbidden is to omit passages at random (or worse not randomly at all, but whenever the text places at the head the material condition and at the tail the consciousness: this is sent to a period well behind each revolution, but it constitutes, on the contrary, the landing point of all this ideological clutter which is pitifully a century behind the dazzling beam of light of this quotation). And if then there is someone present who, all proud to have read everything that has been published since 1859, wants to change certain words, then all that remains is the famous hail of kicks in the infrastructure of consciousness.
Let's reread the quote carefully. Social production of existence. It is a relation that absolutely escapes the individual and his balance sheet in "must and have", on which the updates are desperately condemned to bear. Production of food for human groups and biological reproduction of the species, by tomorrow's producers. All this is not planned in a head, or in heads, but determined by the state of material productive forces. Men constitute also a productive force, which evolves, but which cannot break its conditions, which are determined by the technical possibilities: pickaxe or plough, oar or sail, sleigh or wheel, fauna, flora, geology of the ground. That is what material conditions are, not the money in the wallet. The "consciousness" of these turns can manifest itself in legends such as that of Jason , who leads his quest by splitting the breast of Tethys ; that of Enceladus , who, prisoner of Etna, lifts him up; that of Talos , who invents the wheel and the tower, and is killed by his master Daedalus , furious for having invented the aeroplane and not the cart. Behind the gossip of "Socialisme ou Barbarie", it cannot manifest itself except the consciousness of nothingness.
he relations of production are the same as the relations or forms of property: the only thing that differentiates them is that the former are expressed in economic terms, the latter in legal terms. It is therefore unnecessary to try to make different things out of it, and, with the aim of, concealing the passages that establish that law derives from economic relations.
In the system of slavery, the relation of production is that the product of the slave's labour is at the disposal of the master, without being remunerated outside the minimum of consumption of goods, and that the slave cannot go away, or produce for others, or for himself. The property relationship concerns the person and the life of the slave, and it expresses the same thing as the relation of production, but in law.
The productive forces are, in every era, the tools, machines, vehicles of all kinds, raw materials and the resources that nature offers, and of course the working class. The mode of production ("Produktionsweise"), or form of production, is one of the great historical types of productive relations: technical resources and forms of property. According to the periods, it is primitive communism, slavery, feudal servitude or wage labour, which correspond to the culture of the land. For the production of manufactured articles, primitive communism, slavery, free handicrafts, and even wage earning itself at a certain stage, become, progressively, inadequate.
Capitalism is one of the great historical modes of production, and one of the most important forms of property. This form with perfectly defined characteristics does not allow any transgression due to alleged changes: private capitalism, state-capitalism or bourgeois-bureaucracy.
But there's another misunderstanding. The forms of property are legal relationships. The latter can be explained thanks to their determination by the economic fact; but one thing is to explain them, another to deduce the understanding of religious ideology, philosophical ideology, etc.
The property relationship is a material relationship. The state that functions according to a consecrated legal norm is a much more palpable material mechanism than a philosophical system. If the slave escapes, the agents of the state capture him. If the employee takes an object from the factory, or if the industrialist or the manager confines him in the factory, the gendarmes come to arrest or release him. The forms of property are material economic agents and not factors that act only "by mystifying"! I, for example, have a conscience that goes far beyond the commercial mystification, but what I consume, I buy in obedience spontaneously and absolutely to the law of value. That is the question: for these people, there is no concept outside its place!
Metaphysics of exploitation
Let us not abandon the economic theme just yet. The whole conception of class struggles is reduced to an uninterrupted struggle against a unique enemy: exploitation. If the victims in revolt change: slaves, serfs, wage labourers, etc., it is she who is always the monster. We are here in the middle of the "Philosophy of misery" in Proudhon. It is a case that was buried in 1847, and therefore, far from being inconspicuous in 1848.
It is for them to read, but not to understand what the passage means: "the same social relationships that were formerly evolutionary forms of the forces of production are transformed into chains". Indeed, the exploitation of wages, surplus labour and surplus value are only obstacles today, where capitalism is developed. Once capitalism was born, they were forms of development useful to the forces of production. Only the motto: "Liberté, égalité, fraternité" was a mystification (as they recall it quite clearly "in passing"), that is fine; but it is still so when they apply it hypocritically within the proletarian class, forgetting to situate this conscious recipe to a time when, finally, there will be no classes or proletariat. But there was no mystification in the fact that the making of the same object, let's say scissors, realised by wage earners and no longer by a free artisan, allowed the "poor" to have at home a pair of scissors instead of none, or else four instead of one. The artisan expropriated with cruelty, to the extent that precisely because as an unconscious victim of traditional forms, he resists against his subjective interest, will earn a higher standard of living by becoming an wage labourer.
The artisan did not provide, at least directly, surplus labour. But to provide masses of surplus labour for the associated wage labourers in the new enterprises and factories, was the only way to accumulate capital, which from now on is social, and to ensure the development towards the current level of equipment. That there has been exploitation for this purpose is an extra-marxist and stupidly moral objection.
The basic economic error consists in reducing everything to the dispute for the added value that is confused with the inevitable hunger for surplus labour of capital. At its birth, the bourgeois mode of production renders possible a greater social reserve with a lesser amount of living labour: it is therefore not out of stupidity, but due to the deterministic material influence of a modern and future more ardent productive force, that the proletarians lend their help to break the chains of the servitude of the glittering and small production. But, gradually, however, the law of the hunt for surplus labour, which prohibits capital from "organising for an objective", leads to an unfavourable new form. There is therefore not an absolute ethical value, but the passage to a quantitative inversion of social performance. Of course, those who want to patch up Marx, by descending below the level of Lassalle, do not see in this struggle between two historical modes of production that the labour-boss quarrel, or worker-bureaucracy, and they circumscribe it in the limit of the profit margin, which today is low in relation to the rate of surplus-value which, for purely mechanical reasons, is high.
And then, blinded as they are by confining themselves to the field of income distribution, and reading backwards the sentences they quote from the other formidable text, that of Critique of the Gotha Programme, on the sharing of poverty, they are incapable of seeing how it is possible to propose, on the basis of principles, the following thesis: the expenses incurred by state and enterprise bureaucracies do not constitute more than one of the fractions in which profits are shared out at the end of a rapid transition from the semi-Asian parcel economy to a national market and a flourishing industry, the sum drawn by the current Russian bureaucracy, as consumption in and for itself, could represent only the smallest of the inconveniences, on the complex global path that leads to the Marxist improvement of "living working conditions". The discussion they are conducting, based on Trotsky's figures and Stalinist apologists, in what constitutes their allegedly precise and superior analysis, only shows that they have a long way to go before reaching the level of economic science when the modern proletariat erected its own new construction. They quarrel over the reduction of a few cents, they go up on their dewclaws to lower prices like the maid who does the shopping, but they do not see that there is a world to be won.
State and Revolution
After seeing how the mania of improving and updating, as well as the unfortunate snobbery that consists in constantly fearing of being behind the latest contributions of conformist science, have led to disregard, paragraph after paragraph, all our economic texts, let us occupy ourselves with the political course.
What is the State to us? It is an apparatus made up of men who are charged with certain tasks, and especially armed men, which is not an absolutely necessary thing for any human community (and here Lenin also said, the anarchists are right), considering that there have been and will be (justification is found in Engels) societies without a state.
But there can't be no State as long as there are societies divided into classes that struggle with each other. The anarchists could accompany us to this point.
More precisely, the State of a given epoch is a form of property that corresponds to a given economic relationships, which has arisen with them, and which then tends to preserve and defend them, if necessary by force, when they have become "hindrances to the new productive forces", capable of advancing the general welfare.
The State, a collection of armed and unarmed bodies, that is to say a system of bureaucracies (police, troops, judiciary, administration, and even clergy), is not therefore always the absolute evil. After the anti feudal revolution, the French State, with her multitude of functionaries, her permanent army, her national guard, her gendarmes, etc., has the function of fighting against the reaction. We say that it is the expression of the struggle of the new capitalists against the old aristocrats, the landlords. That's not all. The State is explained by the presence of these two classes and, for the moment, it is a tool that breaks the chains and does not put up barriers. And we say, more precisely still, that it is the expression of the struggle between a future mode of production (the capitalist mode) and a past and inferior mode of production (feudalism), a historical and universal struggle. This State expresses, in this historical moment, not only the division into classes of the French population, but also the pressure of all the bourgeois and proletarian class struggle, and it can be said that it represents, in addition to a global network of interests, the potential of something even larger: the irresistible generating power of future material productive forces.
It is in this manner that we must judge the forms and struggles of such a apparatus, and their impressive intertwining is given to us in the three classic Marx texts.
This apparatus transforms its "antiformist" functions into "conformist" functions, following a very complex process that does not develop in an ongoing process, and it sees a class and a force rise up against it whose objective is to slaughter it.
The State is thus this apparatus which is based on a class, which defends and claims a given mode of production and which, after its revolutionary success, resists the return of the old forces and old modes.
It is clear, therefore, that every social revolution that straddles between two major types of forms of production, and in particular the coming revolution of the proletariat, must break the old state, disperse its hierarchies and its personnel. But it is also clear - and here the anarchists do not understand, and the more or less anarchistic groups that wrinkle their noses - that, for the whole period when the old mode of production still has its forces and defenders, not only within the territory but also outside it, it will be necessary to have, in a new form, a State and bodies of armed men and a bureaucracy.
An anarchistic tendency can be seen in this curious phrase: "The power of the armed masses is no longer a state in the usual sense of the term"! Here, over Marxism, liberalism and libertarianism clasp hands in a romantic embrace.
The extinction of bureaucracy
If the formation of the new revolutionary state, the dictatorship of the proletariat, is a necessity for Marx and Lenin, it is due to the fact that while the conquest of political power by revolutionary methods represents a sudden leap, the other elements of the problem do not make it and only gradually dilute over time: the complete replacement of the old mode of production by the new one, the corresponding local disappearance of the class that previously held power and reflected the old mode of production, the influence of external forces that defend the same mode of production and oppose the new, and, more than anything else, the residue of superstructural influences of all kinds that reign over social ideology and psychology. Consequently, the state is not abolished, but a new one is founded by overthrowing the old one. It is only at the end of a long process, whose length depends on the degree of internal development of social forces and international relations of force between classes, that the state is extinguished. All this is well known, and the "refitters" pretend to have made any alterations.
"But, the transformation — either into joint-stock companies and trusts, or into State-ownership — does not do away with the capitalistic nature of the productive forces. In the joint-stock companies and trusts, this is obvious. And the modern State, again, is only the organisation that bourgeois society takes on in order to support the external conditions of the capitalist mode of production against the encroachments as well of the workers as of individual capitalists. The modern state, no matter what its form, is essentially a capitalist machine — the state of the capitalists, the ideal personification of the total national capital."
Here is the crucial point. If, from the dispersed and individual property of the independent labourer, the means of production become capital, whether this transformation is operated by a private financier or by the State, it constitutes a process towards the capitalist mode of production. If, from capital, they become the means of social production, that is to say, if they are used without the wage form of production and without the mercantile form of distribution, then this constitutes the transition from capitalist to socialist mode of production. This second transition cannot be carried out, it is clear, either by private individuals or by the political state of the bourgeois class: it can only be carried out by the new revolutionary state, by the dictatorship of the proletariat.
This is the vainly sought solution in the "income pyramid" and in the scandal of disproportionate treatment in Russia - a disproportion that only a socialist revolution, in the glorious footsteps of the Commune, will be able to fight, on the basis of a developed capitalism.
It must be recognised, however, that the workers state, which is the only one capable of accomplishing these tasks of transformation in the form of production, can also, in periods of not only internal technical evolution and development, but also of international political struggle, be compelled to manage forms of state capitalism in a wage and mercantile environment; in other words, at certain stages - that the Stalinist state of today has surpassed for many years - to remain the political state of the proletariat and of the future socialist mode of world production, while still dealing with the preliminary transformation "of the means of production into capital".
The Russian state, with its inevitable bureaucracy, is today "responsible" for the transformation of the means of production into capital, just like a young capitalist state, and it has become an apparatus that no longer fights for the proletarian mode of production: it is, on the contrary, like all the others, ready to defend the capitalist mode of production.
Do you want to see this theorising bureaucracy disappear without revolutions and wars? If you really admit that the transition to the socialist mode of production is possible, you should know that it will make the market and price fixing disappear, the division between enterprises and wage fixing, the professional division of labour and the difference between town and country, and you will then understand that the ramp of miserable ends of candles that constitute the functionaries of all kinds will extinguish itself, by declining this honour, too great for the indolence of "ronds-de-cuir" , to give their name to a period of history.
The Iliad and Batrachomyomachia
Here is the "other solution", all created over the centuries, which serves to shed light on the problems of "refitters" and on the supposedly ignored facts of Marxism.
To these powerful critical weapons, they substitute the chattering statistics of incomes, they seek to establish, but without succeeding, the distribution of incomes and surplus value, and above all, they do not know how it varies qualitatively: up or down, by verifying the progress of capital diffusion, that they trade against this usual palinodie: increased extortion, lower living standards, and other nonsense.
Given the absence of the Russian bourgeois, and the destruction of the scheme: two classes (at least) and the state in the hands of one of them (thus tearing apart Marx's text on the Commune and Lenin's text on the State), their solution resides in the classification of Soviet citizens between "workers" and "bureaucrats". But if the relations of production were the relationship between worker and state, it would be a unique relationship and there would be no difference or class struggle. This arbitrary and unreal selection constitutes the worst parody of Marxism. It is of the same barrel as the substitution of the shock between two historical forms, which the Iliad describes in a mythical way, by an inter-species struggle between rats and frogs, that Homer himself would have sung in a similarly humorous way in the Batrachomyomachia.
In the Iliad, two ancient civilisations collide violently and determine the history of centuries to come. On the one hand, Asian society, immobile, agrarian, agrarian, satrapic, led by eternal monarchies and theocratic seigneuries, which tributaries are still nomadic peoples and still communist tribes (almost free, as Marx shows, from bureaucracy: a dozen people for each tribe, including the astrologer. Because the gens de plume we deal with in this article have not invented anything, not even on the rhetorical terrain: they should know that between dominant bureaucracy and barbarism, there is no parallel but direct antithesis!) - On the other hand, the Aeolian and Ionian lineage, sailor, merchant, industrial relative to the time, that legal and philosophical superstructures, genius individualism, gets closer to the romantic bourgeoisie of the best modern European times. Two worlds, then, and two really different forms of human organisation, the result of which are determined by the great differences in geographical environment, between the vastness of deserts and inland lands and the whimsical serration of peninsulas and archipelagos, between the cold or scorching climate, depending on the seasons, of the super-continent and the mild and temperate climate of the laughing shores of the Mediterranean, smash when the chariots of Hector and Achilles collide violently.
But with the statistics of the twenty-seventh of the month, the picture becomes empty, as when, distinguishable from each other at first sight, the mice and the frogs come up against each other, repeating loudly the invective of the heroes before the duel, by reproducing the successive ups and downs of the ten-year war between the two continents, and by mimicking, with their laughable sobriquets, the Trojans and the Achaeans.
The clash between the capitalist mode of production and the socialist one lies in these same proportions with the attempted description (impotent to cite a single historical episode or chronicle that fills, let's not say, a Homeric book but a Reuter telegram) of Russian society. It is the proportion between the great epic poem, and the pleasant parody of the fight between mice and frogs.
 Short for "Sul filo del tempo", "On the Thread of Time". The text referenced is called "Carlylean Phantoms", Il programma comunista, No. 9, May 1953.
 As with all bourgeois philosophies, it is always about the individual, the individual existence: It is not given to the human being, but only its possibility, which it may or may not realise. According to the existentialists, man creates his existence: it is his "sketch".
 Bourgeoisie out - bureaucracy in.
 passage à tabac (French): to beat up or thrash somebody.
 Jason: moved out with the Argonauts, named after the ship Argo, to bring the Golden Fleece to Greece. The historical core of the Argonaut saga is the Greek advance to the coasts of the Black Sea.
 Tethys: both a Titan in Greek mythology, as well as an ocean in the east of the supercontinent Pangaea in the history of the earth; remains of the seabed of the Tethys can be found northwest of Australia, in the eastern Mediterranean Sea and in the Black Sea.
 Enceladus: one of the Giants in Greek mythology that drove the gods into flight, except for Zeus, who, after an eventful fight, had to roll Mount Etna on Enceladus. Since then, he has been trapped under Etna, which he makes tremble again and again in his rage as well as spit fire and rock.
 Talos (also Perdix or Calos, depending on the source) invented the saw, the compass and the potter's wheel.
 Daedalus: a great artist and inventor from Athens; In captivity, he made wings for himself and his son Icarus from bird feathers and candle wax, and with this "plane" they were able to escape. But he was also vain and envious, so that he threw his nephew Talos who he feared for his even greater talent, off Athena's castle.
 ronds-de-cuir (French): "round leather", seat cushion; here: Office clerk, bureaucrat.
Il programma comunista, No. 10, May 1953
Translation by Libri Incogniti