You Can Trust the Communists (to be Communists)
Chapter 10 - The Difficult, Devious and Dangerous Dialectic
The Difficult, Devious, And Dangerous Dialectic
The dialectical philosophy is the most difficult, the least understood, and possibly the most important aspect of Communism. It is this philosophy which directs the apparently unpredictable and constantly changing Communist course. Most people are very practical. They believe the evidence of their senses. They look for an enemy which is obvious and tangible. They say, "I am interested in the Communists, and concerned by their actions. Tell me who they are and show me where they are and I will know how to act." Or they may say, "I am interested in Communist economic theory, in their military power and in their subversive organization, but don't talk to me about philosophy. That is too deep for me. Talking about their philosophy only confuses me." Such people are interested in the superficial manifestations of Communist organization, but they are not interested in the philosophic credo from which they draw their motivating forces, their basic strategy, and their confidence in the future. They are reminiscent of dairy farmers who are interested in milk, but not in cows, orchardists who are interested in fruit, but not it trees, or apiarists who are interested in honey but not in bees. The superficial manifestations of Communism are inseparably related to its underlying philosophic concept.
As I have travelled throughout this country addressing civic clubs, patriotic groups, churches and schools, I have frequently asked three simple questions. The first is that all those present who have heard of Communism and who know that it exists should raise their hands. All hands are immediately raised. The second request is that all those present who are opposed to Communism and not ashamed to say so should raise their hands. Again all the hands shoot into the air. The vast majority of people readily affirm their opposition to Communism.
The third question I preface by the following remarks: "Be careful how you answer this question, for if you answer it in the affirmative, I will test you out by asking one further question. It will not be a difficult question, but if you cannot answer it, you have no right to answer this question in the affirmative. The third question is: Will those who know what Communism is please raise their hands?" One or two hands creep hesitantly and tentatively into the air. I then say, "Communism has a system of philosophic thought, an interpretation of being, a book of fundamental rules known as its philosophy. To the founders of Communism, this was the most important feature of their entire program. It underlies, unifies, integrates, and directs the apparently contradictory phenomena of Communist conduct and unites them into a purposeful whole. It is the major subject in every Communist school in the world. From it they derive their definitions of such terms as peace, truth, righteousness, justice, and democracy. If you do not understand something about the philosophy of Communism, you understand little about Communism itself. What is the name of the philosophy of Communism?"
This question elicits a considerable range of answers but seldom the right one. The answer is, of course, Dialectical Materialism. The Communists have made no secret of this. They have written it down, they have announced it to all the world, they teach it in every school that they control. Yet it is a somber fact that many anti-Communists have never even heard the name. Until recently, it was most unusual to find individuals in most groups who could so much as name their philosophy. Even today, the number of those who have any understanding of Dialectical Materialism is very small indeed.
One Sunday afternoon, by a peculiar accumulation of circumstances, I found myself speaking from the Communist platform in the Domain in Sydney, Australia. The Sydney Domain, a lovely park adjacent to the Sydney harbor, is possibly the world's greatest open forum. To this park each Sunday afternoon come all those with a message, real or imaginary, and there they harangue the passing throng. People gather in the thousands. The Communists always have a large, well organized meeting. As I spoke from the Communist platform, I mentioned Dialectical Materialism, whereupon the Communists leader challenged me. "What is Dialectical Materialism?" he asked. I replied, "Dialectical Materialism is the philosophy of Karl Marx that he formulated by taking the dialectic of Hegel, marrying it to the materialism of Feuerbach, abstracting from it the concept of progress in terms of the conflict of contradictory, interacting forces called the Thesis and the Antithesis culminating at a critical nodal point where one overthrows the other, giving rise to the Synthesis, applying it to the history of social development, and deriving therefrom an essentially revolutionary concept of social change." The questioner looked at me with wide-open eyes. I added, "Don't blame me. It is your philosophy, not mine. You are the one who believes it."
If we examine the philosophy of Dialectical Materialism in more detail, we see that there are two elements in it. There is the dialectical portion, and there is the materialist portion. Let us first consider briefly the materialism. The Communists are materialists. They affirm confidently, arrogantly, and repeatedly that there is nothing in the world except matter in motion. The precise form of their materialism was taken from the German philosopher, Feuerbach, a renegade theologian who forsook Theism and embraced materialism. His basic slogan was: "Man is what he eats. We are matter in motion, nothing more."
The argument between the materialist and the idealist is as old as the history of human thought. Into the two categories, realists and idealists, the philosophers of the world have been divided. The realists or materialists contend that matter is the ultimate reality, and that thought is a secondary manifestation of matter. On the other hand, the idealists contend that matter is known only through thought. Take away thought and matter would be non-existent. The basic reality, therefore, is thought.
The following simple question is quite an effective instrument for distinguishing realists from idealists. The question is: Do the wild waves beating on the shore make a noise when no one is there to hear them? Those who believe that the wild waves do make a noise whether anyone is there or not are realists; those who believe that the wild waves make no noise unless someone is there to hear them are idealists. The realists believe that the noise is in the movement of the water itself; the idealists believe that it is a concept in some mind following the sensory mechanisms of perception. To the idealists, the noise is actually a manifestation of the mind. It is interesting to note that when this question is put to audiences, the realists or materialists usually outnumber the idealists by three to one.
It is to be noted that the word "idealism" bears no moral connotation. Since this word is associated in many minds with moral issues, it is difficult for those minds to divest the term of its moral attributes. In this sense the terms "idealist" and "materialist" refer merely to concepts of ultimate reality.
The Communists have no doubt as to where they stand. They are matierialists. As far as Karl Marx was concerned, the idealist philosophers were simply the instruments of clerical reaction, servants of the clergy in their basic purpose of oppressing the working class in the interests of the Capitalist reactionaries. That disciple of Marx, Mao Tse-tung, expresses it thus: "There is nothing in the world except matter in motion."(1)
Most of the materialistic philosophers of Marx's day were mechanists. They believed that materialism allowed no room for individual, volitional action. Their view was that all nature was automatic, that all actions were compulsory because of the forces that operated on the individual. Each man's destiny was beyond his control. Materialist philosophy thus resulted in nihilism in action and conduct. This philosophy is very well expressed by James Thomson in his poem, "The City of Dreadful Night," where he portrays a man as the helpless plaything of the forces of nature.
If one is born a certain day on earth,
All times and forces tended to that birth,
Not all the world could change or hinder it.
In marrying materialism to the Hegelian dialectic, Marx performed a remarkable operation. He brought into materialism an element of devotion, sacrifice, initiative, and purpose. He enunciated a deternimistic, materialistic philosophy and, at the same time, brought into being intense, passionate dedication to make the inevitable come to pass. This is a truly remarkable Marxist achievement. If a group of people are utterly convinced that the sun is going to rise at 5:30 a.m. it should be a very difficult task to persuade these same people to awaken an hour early and work like slaves to make the sun do what they know it is going to do. Marx's achievement was somewhat similar to this. He took materialistic philosophy which taught that the force of history had decreed that certain things must inevitably happen, and married this philosophy to an intense personal, sacrificial dedication to make these things come to pass. He did this by introducing a mystical element from the Hegelian dialectical.
The German philosopher, Hegel, was the great philosopher of the early nineteenth century. His were the works and ideas which were discussed by the young intellectuals in the universities of that day. Hegel was an idealist, believing in the primacy of thought rather than of matter. Within the framework of his idealistic philosophy, he developed the dialectic. Hegel's philosophic thought is very difficult to understand. Hegel himself is reported to have said, "Only one man has understood me, and even he has not!" Marx contended that he was the one man who understood Hegel, and claimed that Hegel did not understand himself. Marx took the dialectical portion of Hegelian philosophy, married it to the materialism of Feuerbach, and produced dialectical materialism. Closely associated with him in his work was Frederick Engels who became his lifelong collaborator, co-worker, supporter, and interpreter. Together Marx and Engels built the philosophic basis of Communist practice.
Features of the Dialectic
The first feature of the dialectic is the axiom that progress is inherent in change. The dialectic is a dynamic philosophy. It says that nothing is, that everything is in a state of flux or development. The dialectic would teach, for example, that no man can stand twice on the bank of the same river, for the second time it is a totally different river. In a similar way, everything is in process of development and change. Around us is a vast panorama of changing circumstances and conditions. Within the vastness of this change, there is a principle of developing organization, there is movement from lower to higher. Hidden within the diversity and apparent purposelessness of change there is a principle of progress. The Communists make no attempt to prove that progress is at the heart of change. It is one of their axioms. They accept it by faith. In this sense, it is a pseudo-religious belief.
The word "progressive" has become one of their basic words. The Communist bookstore in Los Angeles is called the "Progressive" Bookstore. The last major political assault the Communists made on the presidency of the United States was through the "Progressive" Party. The Communists in labor unions always refer to themselves either as the "Militants" or the "Progressives."
The Communists apply this principle of progress in change to their own status within society. Liu Shao-chi writes:
. . . the question arises: Can Communist society be brought about? Our answer is "yes." About this the whole theory of Marxism-Leninism offers a scientific explanation that leaves no room for doubt. It further explains that as the ultimate result of the class struggle of mankind, such a society will inevitably be brought about.(2)
They are the wave of the future. Their victory is as certain as the rising of the sun because the same material law that causes the sun to rise in the morning has ordained that they shall conquer and rule the world. Of this they have no vestige of doubt.
Since they believe this completely, their convictions are undisturbed by any evidence to the contrary that may appear day by day. They stand above the changing scene of daily ebb and flow and see the currents and tides of history. The idea that their faith can be shattered by anything they see at present is naive to the point of imbalance. Just how how widespread the ignorance of this is was revealed by many of the reasons advanced in support of Khrushchev's visit to the United States in September, 1959. An argument frequently put forward was: Let us show Khrushchev how the people of America live; let him see their fine homes, their modern automobiles, their open churches. When he sees all this he will be impressed and will realize the error of his previous viewpoint. Such an argument as this displays gross ignorance of Khrushchev's dialectical faith. In the first place, Khrushchev's espionage system is such that he was able to discover the most intimate secrets of American atomic science. To imagine that he needed to come to America to discover how the American people lived, in what kind of houses they lived and how many cars they had is utterly infantile. He was equally well aware of the power and preparedness of America's military might. But even if this were not so, even Khrushchev's tour of America had revealed to him many unsuspected facts about the American way of life, none of these could have changed him fundamentally. For present conditions and circumstances have little authority to him. Khrushchev is a Communist, not because of the present, but because of the future. His life is governed by a vision of the future. The future belongs to the Communists. They will inevitably conquer the world. You do not judge a building by the temporary scaffolding on which its builders walk. You see the vision in the mind of the architect.
An analogy may be drawn from the production of steel. The manufacturer promises a beautiful, burnished steel. In order to obtain this end product, the metal must go through certain dirty unattractive stages. At one stage it is treated in the searing, flaming heat of the furnace. Were you to go to the manufacturer at this particular stage and say, "You have not kept your word. This is not steel. It is merely flame and heat. I can't use this!" he would look at you in utter amazement.
When the Communists listen to our arguments based on present circumstances and conditions, they must certainly be amazed, for their whole program rests on the future. Khrushchev was well aware of America's present wealth and power. He is reported as having said, "Anyone who does not know that America is rich and strong is unbelievably stupid." This realization merely confirms his faith in the greater glory of the future Communist state.
It is this future in which he is interested and in which he firmly believes. In the last analysis, he believes in the inevitable triumph of Communism not because of the evidence, but because of his faith in the dialectic. As a true believer he has lived and labored during forty years of sacrifice, danger and brutality.
2. The Dialectic Nature of Progress
The second feature of the dialectic is the nature of progress. Dialectical progress takes place in a certain pattern. The Communist slogan is: "Nature acts dialectically." Wishing to advance dialectically in a room full of people, I do not walk through the aisle and straight toward my goal. Nor do I move slowly through the crowd shaking hands with friends and acquaintances, discussing points of interest, gradually nearing the objective. The dialectical pathway is different. It consists of a resolute forward advance followed by an abrupt turn and retreat. Having retreated a distance there is another turn and advance. Through a series of forward-backward steps the goal is approached. To advance thus is to advance dialectically.
The Communist goal is fixed and changeless, but their direction of advance reverses itself from time to time. They approach their goal by going directly away from it a considerable portion of the time. Lenin wrote the textbook, One Step Forward, Two Steps Back. Chinese Communist schoolchildren are taught to do the dialectical march taking three steps forward and two steps back. If we judge where the Communists are going by the direction in which they are moving, we will obviously be deceived.
The Communist method of advance may be likened to the hammering of a nail. It is a very foolish person who brinks the hammer down with a crashing, resounding blow and then keeps pushing. When the first blow has spent itself, back must go the hammer in preparation for the next blow. A person seeing the reverse movement of the hammer as an isolated act in time and not understanding the process of which this was a part, might find it difficult to believe that this hammer was driving in the nail. When he sees the backward swing as portion of a complete process, he realizes that the withdrawal is as important as the downward thrust to the realization of the objective.
For those not trained in dialectical thinking, it is very difficult to understand that the Communists have a fixed and changeless goal, but that their method of approach reverses itself all the time. The tendency is to judge where they are going by the direction in which they are moving. Many colleges taught, for example, that Communism as practised in Russia by Lenin and Stalin was a departure from Marx. They claimed that Marx's teaching had many good features about it, but that Lenin and Stalin put into practice something entirely different. Superficially the argument is reasonable. Take, for example, Marx's teaching concerning marriage and what is practiced in Russia with regard to marriage. Marx taught the abolition of marriage. The Communist Manifesto says:
On what foundation is the present family, the bourgeois family, based? On capital, on private gain. In its completely developed form this family exists only among the bourgeoisie. But this state of things finds its complement in the practical absence of the family among the proletarians, and in public prostitution. The bourgeois family will vanish as a matter of course when its complement vanishes, and both will vanish with the vanishing of capital.(3)
In the light of this teaching, it might be expected that in Russia they would be weakening the family prior to its abolition. The truth is that they are presently strengthening the family. Divorce is discouraged; puritanic morals are encouraged; rewards are offered to those who have large families. They are strengthening the family in every way. Logically it would seem that since they are strengthening the family in Russia, they must have forsaken Marxism. The Communists, however, think and act dialectically. They realize that it is dialectical to approach their goal by going directly away from it. Their ultimate goal is to abolish the family. But they cannon abolish the family until they have changed human nature; they cannot change human nature till they control completely the environment that generates human nature; they cannot totally control the environment until they have conquered the world and destroyed the present environment; and they cannot conquer the world unless they develop a more courageous, more patriotic, more nationalistic people than their enemy. They have found by experience that they cannot develop a strong, nationalistic, patriotic people without encouraging a firm family base. They must therefore strengthen the family to develop the patriotism and courage of the people to increase the power of the Communist State so that they may conquer the world, establish a Communist dictatorship, and regenerate mankind. They will then abolish the family. By strengthening the family, they are dialectically abolishing it. There is no inconsistency here. They are applying dynamic Marxism.
The same thing applies in the realm of religion. The ultimate goal of Communism is the abolition of all religion. Lenin says, "Atheism is a natural and inseparable portion of Marxism, of the theory and practice of scientific socialism. Our propaganda necessarily includes propaganda for atheism." It would be logical, therefore, to expect the persecution of religion wherever Communism is in power. In many places this is happening, but not in all. In some states under Communist rule, religion is being patronized and encouraged.
Religion constitutes a force that moves to action a certain segment of the Community. Communism utilizes existing forces. Religion, therefore, must be utilized to advance the final goal of Communism which is world conquest and thus contribute to its own destruction.
There are various ways in which religion may be used. They may instruct various members of the Party to join various religious faiths; for while it is quite impossible for a Christian to be a Communist, there is no inconsistency whatever in a Communist's professing Christianity to aid the triumph of Communism. As Khrushchev said to the French Socialists: "Some of our comrades are atheists in the Party and believers at home." One Communist, then, may be instructed to join the Catholic Church. He is told to be baptized, to believe everything he has to believe, to be the very finest Catholic imaginable and to secure influence in Catholic organizations. He will then have opportunity to influence Catholic organizations in a program which may appear to be completely unrelated to Communism but which may be important to their dialectical advance. Similarly, Communists are told to join various Protestant churches. Again they are to be fervently Protestant, orthodox to the core, ardent in spirit, and industrious in the program of that church. At the appropriate time, they too will be able to influence various church members and organizations for the Communist cause. Since to the Communists none of these religious systems has any ultimate validity, but all of them constitute social forces which exist at present, there is nothing inconsistent in an atheistic Communist's being an apparently fervent religionist in the interests of the final Communist objective.
An Australian Episcopal delegation to Communist China found well-filled churches, and heard good sermons from apparently well-paid and contented preachers. Many reported that Christianity was flourishing in China. This report given by anti-Communists who were unaware of the Communist dialectic greatly helped the Communist cause. The Communist program for the church is three-fold: to enslave, to utilize, and finally to destroy. The members of the delegation observed the phase of utilization. The initial stage of enslavement was brought about by extreme persecution. Genuine church leaders who were devoted to Christ were arrested, brainwashed, tried, and destroyed. The church buildings became halls in which accusation meetings were held rather than houses for the worship of God. When the church was thoroughly cowed and leaderless, a dialectical reverse took place and the persecution suddenly ceased. The Communists united all the non-Catholic churches into one organization which they called the Three Self Movement. They appointed a pro-Communist leader to formulate the policy of this organization; they appointed a Communist Commissar of Religion; and they paid the salaries of the preachers. Communist pressure was exerted to force everyone registered as a Christian to attend church. The preachers were obliged to meet twice a week with the godless Commissar of Religion to get the political line that they must proclaim on the following Sunday. One of the goals of the Three Self Movement is the liberation of Formosa. A certain Sunday could be designated "Liberate Formosa Sunday." The preachers, meeting with the political commissar would be given stories of the dreadful American persecution of their Chinese brethren in Formosa. They hear the tear-drenched pleas of the Formosan people for their Chinese Communist brethren to come and liberate them. They are instructed to pass on this information to their congregations, and to offer prayers for the liberation of Formosa. The preachers have no way of knowing that these stories are not true. They live in a closed environment. All media of information are controlled by the Communist Party. Provided they obey instructions and follow the right political line, they may preach what they like. Visitors to China, therefore, see filled churches hear good sermons by preachers who are well-paid and who are certainly not going to tell them anything that might bring back the previous period of persecution. If they are uninformed and unaware of the subtleties of the Communist dialectic, they will report that Christianity is flourishing in China.
The dialectic gives the Communists complete moral maneuverability. They may wear any garments. They may accept any faith. They may work to advance the self-interest of any nationalist or economic grouping. Their strategic mobility is effective indeed. Christians are prevented from following many courses of action by certain absolute standards. A Christian may not, for example, accept the Muslim faith, rise in the Moslem ranks, and then use his position to subvert Moslem customs and introduce Christianity. The Communists, however, have no absolutes. Their dialectical relativity gives them a total strategic mobility. They may adopt the coloring, the shape, the ideology, the morality, or the religious faith of any group. They become all things to all men that by all means they may enslave all.
The third feature of the dialectic is the role of conflict in the process of change. According to the dialectic, the driving force in any situation is the conflict of two opposing forces. There is the established force called the thesis and there is the conflicting force called the antithesis. The conflict between these two forces is the dynamic of progress. In dialectic language, everything is interpenetrated by its opposite. Nothing exists in isolation. You cannot have up without down; you cannot have plus without minus; you cannot have beauty without ugliness; you cannot have life without death. To every action there is an equal but opposite reaction. Everything exists in a state of conflict with its opposite. This conflict is the dynamic of being.
Initially this conflict gives a period of slow, relatively stable progress, a period of gradual change. This slow change never continues indefinitely. As change continues, a critical point is reached. At this point, certain things happen. Slow, gradual change gives way to rapid, fundamental change. In dialectical terminology, the antithesis negates the thesis; there is a transformation of quantity into quality and the emergence of a totally new direction of progress known as the synthesis. The synthesis now becomes the new thesis. The new thesis generates a new antithesis, and the new conflict between thesis and antithesis becomes the dynamic of the next stage of progress. Again a critical nodal point is reached. The new antithesis negates the new thesis and there is another transformation of quantity into quality. This is termed the Negation of the Negation and results in the emergence of a direction of progress parallel to the original one, but different in quantity and quality.
The Communists believe that this dialectical conflict or contradiction is universal in being. Mao Tse-tung writes in the introduction to his textbook on dialectics entitled On Contradiction: "The law of contradiction in things, that is, the law of the unity of opposites, is the most basic law in materialist dialectics."(4) Lenin said, "In its proper meaning, dialectics is the study of the contradiction within the very essence of things."(5)
The dialectic is very valuable to the Communists. It can be used to express in pseudo-logical form a conclusion empirically reached. It is a very valuable tool for deceiving the intellectuals and clothing with a pseudo-logic the edicts of the top Communist authority.
It was from the dialectic that Marx derived the doctrine of the inevitability of revolution as the climax of the class war. Surveying Capitalist society he said that the dynamic of Capitalism was a perfect illustration of the dialectic. Within Capitalism there are two conflicting forces: the bourgeoisie, consisting of the Capitalists who own the means of production, and the proletariat consisting of the workers in industry who labor for wages. Between these two forces there is a state of absolute, truceless conflict. The owners of the means of production want profit, while those who work for them want higher wages. If wages go up, profits come down. Thus there is a fundamental conflict between these two groups, which Marx called the Class War. According to the dialectic, this state of conflict between Capital and Labor gives a period of slow, gradual change, but, inevitably, a critical point is reached. At this point, the slow, gradual nature of change disappears. It becomes rapid and violent. Revolution breaks out. Capitalist society is negated. There is a transformation of quantity into quality and the emergence of a new synthesis called Socialism.
The Communists are proudly revolutionary in theory and practice. The term "reformist" is to them a synonym for one who is ignorant of, and treacherous to, historic reality. A reformist is so ignorant that he believes that fundamental changes in society can come about by slow, gradual means. The Communists are convinced that this cannot be, for they believe that history and nature declare that change must be wrought by revolution. To the Communists, the revolution is the golden experience of the future towards which they look with longing. As the bride looks forward to the day of her adorning, as the expectant mother looks forward to the day of her deliverance, so, with flashing eye and bated breath, with leaping pulse and exultant heart, the true Communist looks forward to the coming, glorious day of the revolution.
Communist belief in the inevitability of revolution is derived from the dialectic. Unless we understand the dialectic, we will be deceived on every hand. Unless we understand the dialectic, we cannot intelligently counter-act Communism. When we do understand it, we are in a position to anticipate their actions and to take defense against them.
The most serious accusation that can be made against a Communists theorist is that he does not understand dialectics. With this accusation Stalin helped to destroy Bukharin. In Russia in 1928-29 there developed what Stalin termed the "Right Deviation" led by Bukharin. Bukharin was a brilliant Communist intellectual. Before the revolution, he had been a theorist comparable with Lenin himself. After the revolution, he occupied many important posts culminating in the leadership of the Communist International known as the Comintern. He was the author of the ABC of Communism and most authorities agree that he was the principal framer of "The Stalinist Constitution." His prestige and popularity among Communists were tremendous. It was thought by most people that he would emerge supreme in the struggle for power in 1928-29. When the climax of the struggle was reached, however, it was Stalin who had the votes. Finally Bukharin received the reward Stalin gave to most of his old comrades-a bullet in the back of the head.
Stalin had to find some justification for the ideological destruction of Bukjarin. In the peculiar fashion of Communist theoretical debate, some quotation had to be found in the works or Marx, Engels, or Lenin that could be used against Bukharin. Stalin found his justification in a statement by Lenin. Stalin writes:
Reference is made to a letter in which Comrade Lenin speaks of Bukharin as a theoretician. Let us read the letter. "Of the younger members of the Central Committee," says Lenin, "I should like to say a few words about Bukharin and Pyatakov. In my opinion, they are the most outstanding people (of the youngest forces), and regarding them the following should be borne in mind: Bukharin is not only a very valuable and important theoretician in our Party, he is also legitimately regarded as the favourite of the whole Party; but it is very doubtful whether his theoretical views can be classed as fully Marxian, for there is something scholastic in him (he has never studied, and, I think he has never fully understood dialectics)." Thus, he is a theoretician without dialectics. A scholastic theoretician. A theoretician about whom is was said: "It is very doubtful whether his theoretical views can be classed as fully Marxian." This is how Lenin charaterized Bukharin's theoretical complexion.
You can well understand, comrades, that such a theoretician has still much to learn. And, if Bukharin understood that he is not yet a full-fledged theoretician, that he still has much to learn, that he is a theoretician who has not yet assimilated dialectics-and dialectics is the soul of Marxism.(6)
Upon this statement of Lenin, Stalin based his condemnation of Bukharin. Since Bukharin did not understand dialectics, he was second rate and could safely be destroyed.
The proof that Bukharin was not dialectical was to be found, according to Stalin, in his attitude towards the State. Communist theory taught that in the establishment of Communism, certain steps were necessary. A revolutionary situation had to be created, a violent revolution had to take place, and the bourgeois state had to be destroyed. The Communists had then to establish the dictatorship of the proletariat and to eliminate the residue of the bourgeoisie. When they had eliminated all possible counter-revolutionary elements of the old regime, the dictatorship could become less rigid and more benign, and begin to wither away. With the change of human nature, the dictatorship would become unnecessary and Socialism would turn into Communism.
Bukharin wanted to know why events in Russia were not following this pattern. He contended that in the eleven years since the revolution, they had consolidated their power, that they had liquidated all remaining members of the bourgeoisie, and that it was time that the powers of the dictatorship became a little less centralized and showed some signs of beginning to wither.
Stalin seized upon these views of Bukharin's as proof that Lenin had been right, that Bukharin was a scholastic who did not understand dialectics. Bukharin thought that the State was not withering away because it was growing stronger whereas, according to Stalin, the fact that the State was growing stronger was the dialectical proof that it was withering away. Contradiction is the core of dialectics and dialectics is the heart of Marxism. When a baby is born, it immediately begins to wither, but the process of withering demands growth to maximum strength. The growth in strength of the Communist dictatorship was dialectical proof that is was "withering away."
Communist theory contains some strange dialectical anomalies. It teaches that Capitalism must change into Socialism by a "revolutionary" or dialectical process. Socialism will then evolve into Communism by a slow, non-violent, non-dialectical development. I have asked numerous Communist theorists the following question: "If Capitalism MUST change into Socialism by dialectical process, why MUST Socialism turn into Communism by a non-dialectical process?" I have always been referred to some comrade of higher theoretical statue. I am still seeking the Communist theorist who can provide the answer.
The difficult, devious, and dangerous dialectic became the tool with which Stalin justified the murder of millions. Unless we understand it, it is probable that it may be used historically to justify the demise of all free peoples.
- Mao-Tse-tung, On Contradiction (Peking: Foreign Languages Press, 1956), p.16.
- Liu Shao-chi, How to be a Good Communist, p. 38.
- Karl Marx and Frederick Engels, Manifesto of the Communist Party (Moscow: Foreign Languages Publishing House, 1957), pp. 79-80
- Mao Tse-tung, On Contradiction, p. 1.
- Lenin, History of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (B), Short Course, English Ed. (Moscow: 1950), p. 133.
- Joseph Stalin, Problems of Leninism (Moscow: Foreign Languages Publishing House, 1953), pp. 342-3.