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Marxist Politics and The Dictatorship of the Proletariat

QUESTION: Marxist Politics – The Dictatorship of the Proletariat


In the transition from capitalism to communism, however, the state remains a necessary evil. The concentration of all the means of production in the hands of the state, termed statism, is the first step in the Marxist formula to abolish all classes. Marx writes, “Between capitalist and communist society lies the period of the revolutionary transformation of the one into the other. Corresponding to this is also a political transition period in which the state can be nothing but the revolutionary dictatorship of the proletariat.”1

Marxists perceive democracy as the propertied classes oppressing those without property or the majority oppressing the minority. They see democracy as similar to a dictatorship in that one class (the majority) dictates government policy and laws to another class (the minority). In capitalism, the bourgeoisie uses the state to oppress the proletariat. In socialism, the opposite is true—the proletariat operates as the powerful authoritarian. In this sense, Marxists use the term “dictatorship of the proletariat.”

Marxist Politics – A Means to an End

Democracy in Marxist terms, then, is simply the means to an end, a necessary tool for maintaining the early stages of socialism. Democracy is useful in establishing the dictatorship of the proletariat, a crucial facet of Marxist political development.

The dictatorship of the proletariat is crucial for two major reasons. First, dictatorship is necessary because it consolidates the means of production in the hands of the state, which in turn leads toward the abolition of classes. Second, dictatorship is necessary because the proletariat, which seized power through revolution, will need the might of the state to thwart bourgeois efforts to reclaim power. Lenin says, “Whoever expects that socialism will be achieved without social revolution and a dictatorship of the proletariat is not a socialist. Dictatorship is state power, based directly upon force.”2


Rendered with permission from the book,Understanding the Times: The Collision of Today’s Competing Worldviews(Rev. 2nd ed), David Noebel, Summit Press, 2006. Compliments of John Stonestreet, David Noebel, and the Christian Worldview Ministry at Summit Ministries. All rights reserved in the original.

1 Karl Marx, Frederick Engels, and V.I. Lenin, On the Dictatorship of the Proletariat(Moscow, USSR: Progress Publishers, 1984), 122.
2 Lenin, “O lozunge razoruzheniia,” October 1916. Cited in Elliot R. Goodman, The Soviet Design for a World State (New York, NY: Columbia University Press, 1968), 287.

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