Among the most significant of recent development within the European reformist left has been the explicit abandonment by the French Communist Party (P.C.F.), at its Twenty-Second Congress in January/February 1976, of the Marxist concept of the dictatorship of the proletariat. This theoretical rupture clearly corresponds to the political practice of the P.C.F. and its sister parties, geared as they are to the progressive transformation of the bourgeois state through the election of successive ‘left’ government, supported from below by the ‘mass pressure’ of an amorphous and undefined popular movement. Eurocommunism’s Fabian strategy, and its repudiation of the conception most central to the theoretical practice of Marx, Engels, and Lenin, are, however, indissolubly bound up with what has for decades constituted the major obstacle to socialist revolution in the West: the existence of societies which, while formally proclaiming their incarnation of socialism, are characterised by signal inequality, an absence of any effective democracy, and continuing deficiencies in the supply and quality of many basic consumption goods.1 Any attempt to comprehend and transcend this conjuncture must necessarily start from an analysis of the Soviet Union itself, as the first social formation in which capitalism was overthrown, and in whose deformed, and deforming shadow all subsequent anti-capitalist upheavals have inevitably occurred: this is the object of the book.
KeywordsHistorical Materialism Political Practice Socialist Revolution Progressive Transformation External Milieu
- 1.It is suggested that the political practice of the C.P.s is determined by, and can be understood in terms of, their supposed allegiance to the U.S.S.R. as a bureaucratised workers’ state. It is rather the case, as Dornhorst has emphasised, that ‘The Communist Parties of advanced countries are reformist parties, and have been so for more than thirty years’: see Robert Dornhorst, ‘The Communist Parties of Western Europe: The Origin of the National Roads to Socialism’, Revolutionary Communist, no. 6, (April 1977), pp. 5–22. The ‘special relationship’ which nevertheless exists between these parties and the Soviet Union has a continuing significance, however, one aspect of which is expressed in the way in which it conditions political dissent in the U.S.S.R. itself: see, on thisGoogle Scholar
- Ernest Mandel, ‘Three Facets of “Eurocommunism”’, Inprecor, no. 5 new series (April 1977), pp. 3–8.Google Scholar
- 2.Because a theory constitutes its own objects it follows that the ‘empirical’ verification of its postulates takes place within theory: see Ernesto Laclau, ‘The Specificity of the Political: The Poulantzas-Miliband Debate’, Economy and Society, vol. IV (1975), pp. 87–111.Google Scholar
- 3.For an illustration of this, with reference to a group which has abandoned Trotsky’s analysis in favour of a ‘state capitalist’ characterisation of the U.S.S.R., see John Marshall, ‘The Politics of I.S.’, Red Mole, 29 November 1971, p. 10, and Brian Grogan, ‘Further Developments (?) in State Capitalism’ International, vol. I, no. 6 (September–October 1971), pp. 29–40.Google Scholar