Communism is the economic and political system based on the principle:
"From each according to his ability,
to each according to his need".
Under communism, there will be no money, wages, commodities or capital.
Under communism, there will be no the rule of the market, elected representatives or all-powerful central planners.
Under communism, there will be no exploitation or classes
based on the ownership or control of the means of production.
Under communism the prime want in life
will be interesting and useful work
which fully taps the immense creative potential
of the human mind, body and spirit
and which serves the collective interests of all humanity.
(for a much more detailed description of the functioning of a
communist economic and political system in the modern world, check out:
The Self-Organizing Moneyless Economy (S.O.M.E.) Hypothesis)
Capitalism is the economic and political system based on the production
of goods and services for exchange rather than use.
Anything produced for exchange is called a "commodity" and
the universal commodity which facilitates exchange is called "money".
Capitalism corresponds to the class rule of the bourgeoisie, which runs
and dominates all spheres of society and controls
(to a very large extent anyhow) the ideology and culture that dominates
the mass media and the thinking of the masses.
Socialism is the scientific name for the economic and political system
of a society in which the working class has become the ruling class
and which is in the process of making a step-by-step transformation
to a communist economic and political system.
I am holding this word "hostage".
I refuse to use it at the present because many misinformed people insist
that socialism can be defined as if it were a fixed system or set
of principles rather than a series of transition steps between the stages
of capitalist and communist organization of society.
Therefore, instead of using the word "socialism", I will use the term
dictatorship of the proletariat
The "D of P" represents the rule of the working class during
the transition period, in which it has not yet been learned how
to organize the economy and political life
along fully communist principles.
During this period, a great number of the former capitalists
will still enjoy immense privileges because they will have knowledge
of how to run the economy--and the workers' state will find it necessary
to bribe them (coercion alone will not suffice) into cooperation.
For this reason, and because of all the resources
(assets, know-how, networks of connections and the persistence everywhere
of huge pockets of bourgeois ideology) which the former bourgeoisie
will be able to command--the workers state will find it necessary
to impose restrictions on the former bourgeoisie to thwart
their inevitable attempts to organize the disruption of society
and the restoration of their class rule and former "paradise".
This system of restrictions imposed on the former bourgeoisie
by the workers' state will be determined by what is necessary at the time.
The 1917 revolution imposed restrictions on the former bourgeoisie--but
the harshness of the conditions at that time made it difficult
to do this without also
imposing extremely dangerous restrictions on the proletariat
also--and this led
to the eventual suffocation of the revolution in the 1920's
and the creation of a new privileged class.
In a modern society (with a developed communications infrastructure)
the dictatorship of the proletariat will find methods of suppressing
the resistance (and attempts at restoration) of the bourgeoisie
without restricting the political activity of workers
(and their independent organizations) to criticize, harass or
whatsoever they consider to be corruption, hypocrisy or
misuse of power by
any or all institutions of the workers' state.
A workers' state in the modern world would resemble the dictatorship
led by Lenin about as much as conditions of 1921 Russia resemble conditions
in a modern society. One concrete example of this would be the attitude
of the workers' state towards the mass media and the internet
(which is rapidly evolving into a mass medium).
The workers' state would not need or want
to prohibit or censor use of
the internet by either individuals or volunteer organizations
without financial ties to the bourgeoisie.
(On the contrary, it would take the most energetic and practical steps
to bring the great bulk of the population online as rapidly as possible.)
But the workers' state would most certainly find ways
to smash up the inevitable attempts by bourgeois formations to buy
and assemble their armies of flacks and slick propaganda machines
that would advertize greasy food and greasier politics.(See The Digital Fire
for more discussion of this.)
(soon to have its very own home page)
Opportunism usually refers to a person or group betraying the
fundamental principles necessary for the long-term success of the
working-class and popular movement.
Often this is done out of a perception that the short term interests
of the movement will be served, or that some immediate gain will
But opportunism generally hurts the short term interest of movement
as well and undermines the struggle for various reforms.
Opportunism often is conducted "out in the open" but just as often
consists of manuevers conducted in a hidden or disguised way.
Often the primary damage caused by opportunism consists of the
arrangement of events such that the consciousness of the masses is
not given an opportunity to grasp the essential laws of motion
which push things forward.
The term "opportunism" is also used to indicate the practice of selling
out the movement or its principles for either personal gain or the gain
of one's favored group, trend, objective or hidden agenda.
reformism are the principal forms
of opportunism and
they can be considered to represent vicious,
aggressive and debilitating
diseases which attack the workers' movement like
Sectarianism is the
refusal to engage in principled cooperation
with other political trends in ways that would benefit
the struggle of the masses.
Sectarianism can also be regarded as
unprincipled (as opposed to principled)
between political trends.
Sectarianism involves the promotion of the interest
of a particular organization in such a way that
the fundamental interests
of the working class movement are "forgotten".
Under the influence of sectarianism, some activists may consider their
own organization to be "white hats" (ie: 100% correct on all issues)
while rival organizations are "black hats" (ie: the "bad guys")
worthy only of being spit on.
Sectarianism can be a manifestation of denial
but usually has a more well-defined material basis than this,
such as the competition between trends for the "warm, living bodies"
of activists whose allegiance and financial support is required
for the survival and growth of each trend as well as
the maintenance of a paid staff (for a newspaper
or other supposedly "indispensable" features of an organization).
Reformism is the belief that
the domination of society by the bourgeosie can be broken,
and the rule of the working class can be established,
via a series of achievable reforms.
Reformism often results from unprincipled (as opposed to principled)
cooperation with political trends such that violations of
fundamental principle are not openly confronted and openly opposed.
Such practice, in modern society, inevitably leads to the domination
of bourgeois politics and ideology in the workers movement and reduces
the movement to a plaything in the hands of the bourgeoisie.
NOT the struggle for reforms or partial demands.
To the contrary, historical experience shows that
revolutionary methods of struggle
are more effective in achieving reforms than
reformist methods of struggle.
Revolutionary methods of struggle center around working to
mobilize the masses into action and
raising the consciousness
of the masses about the class nature of society. Reformist methods of struggle involve
restricting activity to methods which
do not directly threaten
(or raise the consciousness of the masses about)
the fundamental underpinings of bourgeois class rule.
The bourgeoisie, particularly in periods of mass revolutionary upsurge, give decisive support to the political trends which preach reformism and carries out a
defacto alliance with such trends in order to
divert the masses from the path of revolutionary struggle.
Reformism does NOT refer to the struggle for worthwhile reforms.
Reformism represents an ideology in which all struggles for reforms
and progress must be conducted according to what is acceptable
(ie: "responsible" and "respectable") to the bourgeoisie.
Inevitably this means within the limits of what will not directly threaten
fundamental bourgeois class interests.
Most fundamentally, reformism is a struggle for political progress
that confines itself to what is possible within the confines of
the capitalist system and the class rule of the bourgeoisie.
Reformism in particular tends to avoid forms of struggle oriented around
raising the consciousness of the masses
(something generally unacceptable to the bourgeoisie)
such as mass actions and mass struggle.
Reformism will sometimes use mass sentiment and the threat of mass actions
as a "bargaining chip" in negotiations over reforms
with bourgeois representatives--but will view and use such mass actions
as a last resort in the face of bourgeois intransigence instead of
as the pivot of all development.
Reformism (as a struggle for progress limited by those methods and goals
which are acceptable to--and do not challenge the class interests of--the
bourgeoisie) is also, for historical reasons,
often called social-democracy.
Reformism is maintained thru a vast system of carrots and sticks
at one end (of a highly complex system of tranmission belts)--by the
bourgeoisie, which doles out favors (ie: support, assistance,
media attention) to those political trends which it regards as behaving
in a "responsible" or "respectable" manner or which promote ideologies or
conceptions which urge the masses to rely on the "powers that be"
and remain passive.
The reformist ideology is extremely widespread (in fact nearly universal)
in capitalist society
because reformism presents itself (and is seen) as the alternative to the
misery, injustice, racism, militarism, etc. that exist nearly everywhere.
Communist tactics towards reformist trends often may involve common work
towards clearly defined objectives but also involve a complex struggle
to raise the consciousness of activists about the necessity for tactics
oriented around drawing the masses into struggle and fighting for
independence from bourgeois tactics, ideology and politics.
Communist tactics towards individuals under the influence
of reformist ideology involve working to win such people to break
with reformism. In periods of ebb in the class struggle
(such as currently) the bankruptcy of reformist tactics often does not
make itself very clear except over an extended period of time.
Communists, being materialists, also recognize that certain individuals
have a materialist basis (ie: a job or social position)
that locks them
into permanent orbit around bourgeois politics.
When the influence of reformist politics and ideology are broken,
the bourgeoisie will be left standing, naked and defenseless,
before the power and the determination of a united working class.
Revisionism represents the distortion of Marxist theory such that
it becomes harmless to bourgeois class interests.
Usually this involves converting Marxism to reformism.
Revisionism also refers to the distortions of Marxism practiced by
the ruling class in the Soviet Union as the 1917 revolution of
comrade Lenin was suffocated.
The term "transparency" originated in financial markets to describe
conditions whereby investors had access to fundamental financial
information about the performance of companies in whose stock they were
investing. Transparency, in more modern terms,
represents the conditions,
brought on by the revolution in many-to-many communications, whereby all
the fundamental principles governing what really goes on
in society can
no longer be hidden from the workers and the masses.
The most fundamental of all the hidden "secrets" is the nature of
the class rule of the bourgeoisie and how it is that
the capitalist system of production has become the main
holding back the development of a high-synergy society.
The bourgeosie defines "information war" as being oriented
around the sabotage and destruction of computer-based
communications systems. According to the bourgeoisie--the
use of digital communications as part of a struggle to
bring the truth to the masses--is a minor component of
"information war"--a component called "psychological
warfare". The proletariat defines "information war"
differently. The proletariat defines "information war"--
--not as being aimed at breaking down computer systems so
that they are not working--but as what happens when all
systems are fully functioning--and are being used to
bring consciousness to the masses:
Information war is the struggle for consciousness
and the struggle for the recognition of key political
principles--waged in cyberspace and in the real world.
Consciousness in information war is both active and passive,
subject and object. Bourgeois conceptions of information war tend
to concentrate more on the passive aspect of consciousness while
proletarian conceptions focus more on the active aspect.
Consciousness is contested terrain (to be captured as an object)
and resource (to be mobilized as the subject) in information war.
Victory in information war consists of the capture and
mobilization of consciousness by principles.
(Click here for the cyberLeninist
perspective on information war.)
The most undefinable of all phenomena to be found in nature,
consciousness represents the only means
by which the future can affect
the present. We can define it, for our purposes, as
and grasp of principles with the power to transform.
Or, in other words, consciousness is the process of collecting,
concentrating and refining information for the purpose
of transforming it into a guide to action.
Theory is the concentrated expression of experience--a
set of principles which embody and explain the lessons of
practical experience and scientific experiment.
Theory is created by practice and
in turn guides practice.
Genuine communist theory represents the principles by which
proletarian organizations can conduct their work in such a way
as to maintain their independence from bourgeois politics.
(see also "competition and cooperation")
Unprincipled (as opposed to principled) competition between trends
leads to sectarianism, in which the interests of a particular trend
are pursued in a way that undermines the movement of the workers
Under capitalism, competition between companies is a powerful force
to discover and wipe out inefficency but also leads to cracking
the whip on workers and driving them into the ground by forcing them
to compete against one another for
the lowest wages and worst conditions.
Under communism, competition between
economic, cultural and political units will exist at all levels.
But this competition will not threaten the survival
(or basic conditions of life) of any worker--because
all the necessities (and conveniences) will be provided to everyone
as a birthright, whether their work unit "wins" or "loses",
or whether they decide to work or do nothing at all.
(see also "competition and cooperation")
Unprincipled (as opposed to principled) cooperation leads
to reformism--or a struggle for progress limited by those
methods and goals which are acceptable to
(and do not challenge the class interests of) the bourgeoisie.
competition and cooperation
These two principles, taken together, form, in a manner of speaking,
the basis for
the development of all complex adaptive systems.
Cooperation enables any system of things to exploit "synergy"
such that "the whole is greater than
the sum of its parts".
Competition weeds out what is weak and inefficient and discovers
what is strong and robust.
Principled competition and cooperation between workers' organizations
will be the basis for their ability to unite as a single fist
when necessary and to criticise and oppose one another
when necessary in order to defeat wrong views or opportunism.
"Denial", the old saying goes,
"is not a river in Egypt."
It represents a system of thought which has developed to protect
one or another kind of addiction or unheathy practice.
Under the influence of denial an alcoholic can claim (and believe)
he has not had a drink in years while he is holding an open can of beer.
The term "denial" originated in work with people suffering
from substance abuse (alcohol, narcotics, etc)
and has been working its way into other realms.
In politics, denial comes up to protect opportunist practices
such as sectarianism and reformism.
Any political organization of the working class
which intends to represent a serious threat to bourgeois rule--must
develop the "human technology" to bust denial.
"Human technology" is a term I would like to popularize
for sets of specific skills and methods
to systematically deal with specific dysfunctions
that come up to block healthy change and emotional growth
in a way that impacts the development of productive work
among revolutionary activists.
Some (not all) of the methods used in "12 step" programs
such as "Alcoholics Anonymous"
can serve as a useful model for dealing with commonplace problems
that block revolutionary work. These methods can be thought of
as methods to "debug" the "human software" (ie: "programs") which
exist in our thinking and guide our behavior.
One example of "human technology" might be the concept of maintaining
a large emotional bank account.
Another example of such a method might be to confront denial
in an organized way. My thinking is not very developed
in this area but I have attended AA meetings to accompany
friends--and I am fairly impressed with the use of
systematic and easily-learned
principles that can guide individuals who recognize the need
to change one or another aspect of their behavior and thinking.
"emotional bank account"
This term is being popularized by Stephen Covey (the "7 Habits" guy)
and I believe it could be very useful to anyone who is having difficulty
"connecting" to others in cyberspace forums dominated
by self-centered behavior and flame wars.
Having healthy "people skills" is no substitute
for having healthy politics--but it helps in keeping
level heads and in keeping conflicts clearly focused
on the political differences at issue.
Here is Stephen Covey on "emotional bank accounts":
Deposits are made in the form of courtesy, respect,
kindness, patience, service and honesty.
come in the form of overreactions, ego-trips,
an absense of apologies for mistakes, and neglect of the human relationship.
Our motives for making deposits should be
or others will feel manipulated and grow cynical and distrustful.
By maintaining a large Emotional Bank Account,
we will operate from a high level of trust with
our family, friends and associates.