History, Evolution, and The Darwin Debate

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Dictatorship of the proletariat // dictatorship of the Virginia-‘crats’

April 18th, 2015 · No Comments

Some of these multiple posts on ‘communism 2.0’ are like batting practice and here the reference to the ‘dictatorship of the proletariat’ is just ‘ball in the air, swing’. That term is formally ‘notorious’ and hardly open to use anymore. Hal Draper has good book on the history of the term and its history at the dawn of bolshevism is extensive with acrimonious debate.

I sort of assumed wrongly in my usage that this history was well known and commented somewhat cavierly that the term could still be used. It can, but it is important to consider other terms, and then to see that the term points to something that we miss in discussions of democracy and communism.
The idea of the dictatorship of the proletariat, beyond the confusion, refers to the way that a revolutionary transition is passing through the dangerous terrain of anarchism/dictatorship. Taking the case of the American revolution we could say that there a dictatorship of Virginia-‘crats’, Washington, Jefferson, et al. Or a group of elite Americans north/south. The point is hard to refute if the Constitution was so far delayed after the period of the revolutionary war.
In general we need a new term, and an awareness of the history of the old. But the issue is important to consider: if the Leninists had held a constitutional convention of communists to iron out a form of communist society, and that done in the open, the whole legacy of bolshevism might has taken a different course. Once it is clear in the general public that the term ‘democracy’ is being used as stealth anti-democracy, the elements of the new consensus are essentially in place. This may be called naive: reactionaries and counterrevolutionaries will exploit such a moment. But the fact remains, as with the American Revolution, that a foundational moment is a formal starting point not inside its own outcome. We need to be lucky with wise men.
We have a founational myth of the wise founding fathers, but they compromised on slavery, so the point is ambiguous. We never took a vote there, and that was because the dictatorship of the Virginia-‘crats’ decided otherwise.

In any case, a communist revolution, as an idea, now suffers a great deal of skepticism, and the consensus we spoke of yesterday (an ironic version of the idea of the ‘general will’, almost) is, in frustrating fashion, there, because people see the catch in fake democracy, but still the transition beyond it evokes a kind of terror at the prospect of some kind antidemocracy coming into existence. The whole debate has been confused by the loose language of ‘democracy’ but the transition to postcapitalism can be understood better if we can assume that the revolutionary transition will be explicit about its outcome. This confusion plays into the hands of the capitalist elite: they can exploit, and then invoke democracy to defend antidemocracy.
That consensus, thus, is coming, but is garbled by the confusions of terms, not the least the ‘down the drainpipe’ term, dictatorship of the proletariat.

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