The State in Revolutionary Periods

Hekmat, Mansoor
Publisher:  Besooy-e-Sosyalism (Towards Socialism)
Year Published:  1985
Resource Type:  Article
Cx Number:  CX10670

The subject of the present discussion is "state in revolutionary periods." Under this heading we are going to deal with an aspect of the Marxist theory of the state, or, in other words, the methodology of Marxism in dealing with the phenomenon of the state -- an issue often overshadowed by stereotyped statements about the state, and therefore neglected.



The dictatorship of the proletariat (or the transition period in general) comprise two important and more or less distinct periods. The first stage is the period of the political establishment of the dictatorship of the proletariat and the second is the period of social transition under the “stabilised” dictatorship of the proletariat.

The first stage is one that begins immediately after the formation of the state of the dictatorship of the proletariat. This is a period in which the workers’ state acts as a revolutionary provisional state of the workers, “a state of the revolutionary period.” The basic task and priority of this state, like any state resulting from the insurrection, is the suppression of the inevitable and to the death resistance of the defeated reaction, i.e. the bourgeoisie, which endeavours for the restoration of its political power. The main characteristic of this period is the continuation of revolutionary crisis, the existence of an organised bourgeois counter-revolution, which would resort to force against the revolution, the objective possibility of the restoration of bourgeois power by political and military means, political instability, lack of confidence in the stabilization of the political power of the proletariat, and so on. To the extent that the state of the dictatorship of the proletariat should succeed in breaking down the resistance of the bourgeoisie, and should secure the political domination of the working class, this period would draw to a close.


The second period corresponds to the political stability of proletarian power. This is a period in which the dictatorship of the proletariat acts as a state in a “non-provisional” sense. Here the well-known Marxist definitions about the dictatorship of the proletariat as the direct organisation of the entire working class as the ruling class and the establishment of the most comprehensive proletarian democracy practically materialize. This is a “state” which has discarded its “crutches,” has wiped out the marks of the process of its birth and inception, and displays in itself the political dominance of a social class in the real sense of the word, and the direct presence of the masses of this class in the process of decision-making and the running of the affairs. Here there is no longer any “provisional” element present in this dictatorship, unless in the general sense of the withering away of the state. This is no longer a “revolutionary provisional state,” but the state corresponding to certain economics and social relations, and should be the direct reflection of these developing relations, and the guarantee for their development and completion.

The phases that we speak of here, in other words, correspond to two periods in the life of the dictatorship of the proletariat. First, the revolutionary period, i.e. the period in which the survival of the proletarian state is politically and militarily at risk, and the suppression of the political and military resistance of the bourgeoisie and the stabilization of the political victory of the revolution has priority. And the second period, the period of stability, in which the dictatorship of the proletariat can engage in transforming the economic foundations of society. In the first period we are faced with the dictatorship of the proletariat as a “state of revolutionary period” and in the second period with the dictatorship of the proletariat in the classic, comprehensive sense of the term, i.e. the dictatorship of the proletariat as the political superstructure of the entire period of transition between capitalism and communism. Obviously these two periods are not separated from each other with mathematical precision, but become distinct by virtue of the priority of different tasks for the dictatorship of the proletariat.

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