After reading this article you will learn about of Socialist Revolution:- 1. Meaning and Essence of Socialist Revolution 2. Concept of Socialist Revolution 3. Development.
Meaning and Essence of Socialist Revolution:
“The principal conclusion of the materialist theory of the laws of social development is that of the historical necessity of the socialist revolution.”
So it is historical necessity that the socialist revolution will appear at a definite stage of social progress.
It is generally maintained that the socialist revolution is the most radical social revolution in the history of class society, a mode of transition from the capitalist socio-economic foundation to the communist foundation. The socialist revolution is, therefore, a great leap forward from capitalism to socialism. It is also a qualitative leap.
The meaning of these two adjectives is that socialism in all respects is different from capitalism. The society as a result of socialist revolution changes and changes qualitatively. Moreover, these qualitative changes are decisive.
Some Marxists call the socialist revolution a gigantic leap. It surpasses all past record of social changes. It does not envisage a simple change of political power. The whole state machinery is overhauled.
Concept of Socialist Revolution:
Marx’s concept of revolution is completely different from the bourgeois revolution. The latter aims at the change of government while both the base and superstructure remain unchanged.
Marxian revolution envisages a radical change of society. In The German Ideology Marx and Engels have said:
“In all previous revolutions the mode of activity always remained unchanged and it was only a question of different distribution of this activity, a new distribution of labour to other persons, while communist revolution is directed against the hitherto existing mode of activity, does away with labour and abolishes the rule of all classes with the classes themselves, because it is carried through the class which no longer counts as a class in society, is not recognized as a class, and is in itself the expression of the dissolution of all classes, nationalities etc. within present society”.
Marx and Engels have called the non-socialist revolutions or bourgeois revolutions as the revolutions of minorities. These were conducted by the capitalists or other petty bourgeois groups with the sole purpose of achieving limited and class objectives. The workers or peasants never participated in all these revolutions. A minority revolution cannot bring about general welfare of the society and in that sense the early or previous revolutions were always incomplete.
The pertinent question which may be raised at this stage of analysis is why did not the proletarians participate in revolutions? Marx’s answer is they were not organized and prepared for a revolution. For that reason the bourgeois revolutions of earlier epochs achieved success.
The workers were divided and the necessity of a revolution was not fully realized by them. Moreover, the bourgeoisie controlled both the base and superstructure and used the media for the propagation of their own ideology.
The proletarians were deprived of it. It was also a factor of the success. Above all, the state as an instrument of exploitation was always in favour of the bourgeoisie.
Engels wrote a long Introduction for Marx’s Class Struggle in France just before his death, i.e., in 1895. This Introduction is important for several reasons. A part of the Introduction deals with the nature of bourgeois revolution Engels wrote, “All revolutions up to present day have resulted in the displacement of one definite class rule by another, but all ruling classes up to now have been only minorities in relation to the ruled class. One ruling minority was thus overthrown; another minority seized the helm of state in its stead and refashioned the state institutions to suit its own interests.”
Lenin was also quite aware of the difference between bourgeois revolution and socialist revolution. According to Lenin, one of the fundamental differences between bourgeoisie revolution and socialist revolution is that, for the bourgeois revolution, which arises out of feudalism, the new economic organizations are gradually created in the womb of the old order, gradually changing all the aspects of society.
The bourgeois revolution faced only one task—to sweep away, to cast aside, to destroy all fetters of preceding social order. The socialist revolution, according to Lenin, is quite different. The task of the socialist revolution is to set up new organisations and organisational relationships. It must perform certain complicated positive or constructive work for setting up of a new society.
Since socialist revolution does not aim at a simple change of government, its actions are far-reaching. It has to face the resistance from reactionary elements and counter-revolutionary force.
Analysing from this angle Lenin had said that all the previous bourgeois revolutions were very easy. The feudal lords or nobles were in decaying conditions.
They had not enough capacity to resist the attack of the bourgeoisie or to check its growth On the contrary; the position of the proletariat is different. The fight of the proletarians is a fight against the bourgeoisie, against the state which is an ally of the bourgeoisie and all other allies. At a single revolution all these cannot be annihilated. Revolution, that is why, is permanent.
There are also other differences. For example, when the bourgeois revolution began to emerge there was a feudal society; but in the womb of that society then arose a powerful capitalism with all its potentialities.
So the bourgeoisie got a ready- made form prior to revolution. On the contrary, the socialist revolution started its task with a clean slate. The superstructure was under the domination of the capitalists. So a favourable condition for socialist’s revolution was either absent or almost absent.
Still another difference is that the purpose of the previous revolutions was never to destroy the antagonistic class relations, but simply the replacement of one class by another. Whereas the socialist revolution proceeds with the avowed purpose to destroy all class antagonisms and the exploiters.
The old state machinery is not completely smashed, it is kept temporarily and subsequently it is replaced by a new one and, finally the state withers away. Here is an important aspect of difference.
After every bourgeois revolution the state becomes more and more powerful, the socialist revolution makes its annihilation precipitated. But it takes time. For this reason the socialist revolution is permanent, the bourgeois revolution is temporary.
Development of Socialist Revolution:
It has been observed by Sheptulin that a socialist revolution does not limit itself of the destruction of the old, historically out-dated order; its mission is to create new forms of property and new production relations that could not arise within the old society based on private property. Hence the destruction and construction both are simultaneously performed by the socialist revolution.
This construction is of a new or better society. Socialist revolution signifies a new social order where there shall be no classes and class antagonisms. Unlike preceding revolution, the socialist revolution does not view itself as being the last. It envisages dynamism and change change towards better and better society or social system.
As a first step towards better society or developed social order, the socialist revolution proceeds assertively to destroy elitism and all its manifestations. In every capitalist society few elites rule the nation and control the economy in the name of the majority.
The socialist revolution’s first attack falls upon the elites. They are dislodged from power. The adherents of socialist revolution deny that few have the exceptional ability which the majority claims. Aptheker says, “This denial of elitism will apply also to varying endowments of talents or capacity.”
The post-revolutionary society is opposed to elitism as well as racism. Racist tendencies, ideologies and activities have no place in a society created by revolution. Racism is outlawed in all socialist societies. Revolution does not recognize groups based on race. Socialist revolution abolishes all classes and groups.
There shall be only one class in a socialist society and that is the proletariat. Racist groups are outlawed. The protagonists of socialist revolution say that racist feeling is a product of capitalism. Capitalism in the name of democracy also creates small national groups.
The ulterior motive of capitalism is to divide society into small groups and to encourage the in-fighting. Lack of consolidation and strength enables the capitalists to harvest benefit. The golden rule of capitalist society is divide and rule.
Developed society created by socialist revolution does away with the so-called golden rule. It is a better society based on the principles of brotherhood, goodwill and co-operation. Spontaneity dominates everything.
The better society a product of socialist revolution is full of promises. It has released all the productive forces from the grip of capitalists. Larger amount of goods and commodities flood the society.
Scarcity and poverty are banished. In capitalism profit motive always worked behind the production of commodities. Welfare of the people was scantily treated. In capitalism there was always an apprehension about the availability of necessary articles. The better society removes that apprehension root and branch.
Aptheker says; “The socialist revolution has torn from the grasp of imperialism large area of the “backward” world and has in a matter of few decades transformed them into remarkably productive areas, challenging the advanced capitalist nations for productive supremacy.”
Frequent crises and contradictions are the characteristic feature of capitalism Socialist revolution removes all these contradictions and crises and ensures an uninterrupted growth of economy.
It also frees society from fear of war. The capitalists select war as the only way of setting disputes. War, in fact, is inevitable in capitalist system. For the sale of commodities the capitalists subjugate foreign territories and this creates attrition between the capitalist countries.
The war, therefore, is a natural consequence. Socialist revolution by abolishing classes and class antagonisms draws a final curtain over colonialism and also on war. Along with the possibility of a war-free society the wastage of scarce resources resulting from unhealthy competition is stopped.
People’s consciousness about the destructive society, with consequences of war, reaches a highmark.
“In place of old bourgeois, its classes and class antagonisms, we shall have an association in which the free development of each is the condition for the free development of all” say Marx and Engels in the Manifesto.