All power to the Soviets

by Pyotr Malatesta

It is fairly certain that between the capitalist regime and the socialist there will be an intervening period of struggle, during which proletariat revolutionary workers will have to work to uproot the remnants of bourgeois society, and it is fairly certain that they will have to play a leading role in this struggle, relying on the strength of their organisation. On the other hand, revolutionaries and the proletariat in general will need organisation to meet not just the demands of the struggle but also the demands of production and social life, which they cannot postpone.

But if the object of this struggle and this organisation is to free the proletariat from exploitation and state rule, then the role of guide, tutor or director cannot be entrusted to a new state, which would have an interest in pointing the revolution in a completely opposite direction.

The mistake of authoritarian ML’s in this connection is the belief that fighting and organising are impossible without submission to a government; and thus they regard anarchists—in view of their being hostile to any form of government, even a transitional one—as the foes of all organisation and all coordinated struggle. The anarchist-communists, rather, maintain that not only are revolutionary struggle and revolutionary organisation possible outside and in spite of government interference but that, indeed, that is the only really effective way to struggle and organise, for it has the active participation of all members of the collective unit, instead of their passively entrusting themselves to the authority of the supreme leaders.

Any governing body is an impediment to the real organisation of the broad masses, the majority. Where a government exists, then the only really organised people are the minority that make up the government; and, this notwithstanding, if the masses do organise, they do so against it, outside it, or at the very least, independently of it. In ossifying into a government, the revolution as such would fall apart, on account of its awarding that government the monopoly of organisation and of the means of counter-revolutionary struggle.

The outcome would be that a new government—battening on the revolution and acting throughout the more or less extended period of its “provisional” powers—would lay down the bureaucratic, military and economic foundations of a new and lasting state organisation, around which a compact network of interests and privileges would, naturally, be woven. Thus in a short space of time what one would have would not be the state abolished, but a state stronger and more energetic than its predecessor and which would come to exercise those functions proper to it—the ones Marx recognised as being such—“keeping the great majority of producers under the yoke of a numerically small exploiting minority.”

This is the lesson that the history of all revolutions teaches us, from the most ancient down to the most recent; and it is confirmed - by the death of the Russian revolution, after the ML party, took away autonomy of production, from the working class.

The revolutionary cry of "all power to the Soviets!" became, under the counter-revolutionary tutelage of the ML's, "all power to the Party, and none to the Soviets".

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