AWL basic education programme. The state and revolution: sections D1 to D8

Submitted by martin on 10 January, 2008 - 4:40

The state and revolution: sections D1 to D8

D. The state and revolution
D1. The state is "the executive committee of the ruling class."

Why is the present-day British state a capitalist state? How can the state represent the interests of the capitalist minority when everyone has the right to vote?

Socialism and Democracy, Chapter 1: Direct action and democracy, Chapter 2: The appeal to history, Chapter 3: The scarecrow of Stalinism, and Chapter 4: Superstition or struggle?

D2. Reform and revolution

What is class struggle? How are reforms won? Can socialism come through Parliament? Can the workers make a revolution? How?

Why is workers' revolution necessary?, from We Stand For Workers' Liberty

D3. The French Revolution

Where did the slogans of "liberty, equality, fraternity" come from? Why was the French revolution such a tremendous dividing-point in human history?

Sketches of the French Revolution, by Belfort Bax, especially the conclusion.

D4. The Origins of Socialism.

Socialism or communism, as a dream of a better society, is centuries old. As an active political movement, it dates back to the French revolution and the "Conspiracy of Equals" led by Babeuf in 1795-7. Babeuf's tradition was continued by revolutionaries like Auguste Blanqui (whose followers, the "Blanquists", eventually merged into the Marxist movement) and groups like the Communist League (for which Marx and Engels wrote the Communist Manifesto).

Alongside that tradition, there developed in the first half of the 19th century many groups which reacted to the social dislocation created by the rise of industrial capitalism by working out blueprints for a better society and preaching them or trying to put them into practice by setting up model communities. Marx and Engels saw much to learn from these traditions, but developed socialist theory further by (a) linking it to a historical and economic analysis of the development of capitalism, and the contradictions within capitalism that would lead to its downfall; (b) identifying the agency within capitalism that could create socialism, the working class - and the self-organisation of the working class.

Communist Manifesto parts III and IV; Socialism Utopian and Scientific part I.

D5. The English Revolution.

When did England have a revolution? Why? What was the difference between that revolution and the one we want to make now?

Section from the Introduction to Socialism Utopian and Scientific; and excerpt from Christopher Hill, The Century of Revolution 1603-1714

D6. When British workers had a mass revolutionary movement: the Chartists.

Does the British working class have a record of revolutionary struggle? Why were the Chartists defeated? Can the British working class rediscover that revolutionary tradition?

Excerpt from A People's History of England, by A L Morton

D7. The Paris Commune.

The Paris Commune of 1871 was the first workers government. It showed how working-class rule needs, and can create, a democracy much wider than bourgeois democracy, with access to political life for the majority, right of recall, abolition of official privileges, merger of legislature and executive.

The Paris Commune, from We Stand For Workers' Liberty

Articles on the Commune: one, two, and three.

D8. State and revolution.

Why does the state exist? Is it neutral? Whose interests does it represent? What do we do about it? What is a "workers state"?

State and Revolution, especially chapter 1.