Proletarians and Communistsby Karl Marx
Communist Party Versus Labor Parties
What is the relationship between Communists and the proletarians?
The Communist Party is not opposed to the other working-class parties.
- Its interest is that of the proletariat as a whole.
- It has no sectarian principles of its own, by which to shape and mould the proletarian movement.
The Communists are distinguished from the other working-class parties only in:
- The national struggles of the proletarians of the different countries
They point out the common interests of the entire proletariat, independently of nationality.
- The various stages of development of the working class struggle against the capitalists
They always and everywhere represent the interests of the movement as a whole.
The Communist Party:
- is the most advanced and resolute of the working-class parties of every country
- It pushes forward all other working-class parties
- clearly understands the strategy, conditions, and ultimate general results of the proletarian movement
The immediate aim of the Communists is the same as that of all other proletarian parties:
- formation of the proletariat into a class
- overthrow of the capitalist supremacy
- conquest of political power by the proletariat.
The theoretical conclusions of the Communists are in not based on ideas or principles that have been invented or discovered by any would-be universal reformer.
- They merely express, generally, the actual relations arising from the current class struggle as part of historical class struggles.
The abolition of existing property relations is not
The distinctive feature of communism is the abolition of capitalist property, and not of general property.
All property relations have continually changed throughout history.
- The French Revolution abolished feudal property in favour of capitalist property.
We Communists have been reproached for this, since capitalist property is:
- the fruit of a rich man’s own labour
- the basis of all personal freedom, activity and independence of a rich man.
We do not aim to abolish the small property of the proletariat, but the private property of the modern capitalists.
Modern capitalist property is based on the antagonism of capital and wage labour.
Capital is both a personal and a social power.
- When it is converted into common property, into the property of all members of society, personal property is not thereby transformed into social property. It is only the social character of the property that is changed. It loses its class character.
The average price of wage-labour is the minimum wage.
- It is that quantum of the means of subsistence which is absolutely requisite to keep the labourer in bare existence as a labourer.
- Therefore, the wage-labourer appropriates by means of his labour, merely suffices to prolong a bare existence.
We do not intend to abolish this personal appropriation of the products of labour.
All that we want is to do away with the miserable character of this appropriation, under which the labourer:
- lives merely to increase capital, and
- is allowed to live only in so far as the interest of the ruling class requires it.
In capitalist society, labour is just a means to increase private profits.
In Communist society, labour is just a means to enrich and promote the labourer’s existence.
The capitalist say that the abolition of private profits is the abolition of individuality and freedom!
- Yes, we aim to abolish capitalist individuality, capitalist independence, and capitalist freedom.
- The capitalist should work like all other classes, and not be free from having to work
But if selling and buying disappears, then free selling and buying disappears also.
The real difference between the free selling and buying of the capitalist and the selling and buying of Communism is that the latter is regulated by Comunists.
You are horrified at our plan to do away with capitalist property.
- You fail to see that in your society, the capitalist already own 90% of property, depriving the rest.
- Therefore you reproach us from giving property back to the majority of society.
From the moment when labour can no longer be converted into capital, , i.e., from the moment when individual property can no longer be transformed into capitalist property, into capital, from that moment,
You say that individuality vanishes when money, or rent, can no longer be monopolised
- It follows that you define “individual” to be the capitalist, and not the middle-class owner of property.
- The invidiual capitalist must be swept out of the way, and made impossible.
Communism deprives no man of the power to appropriate the products of society.
- All it does is to deprive man of the power to subjugate the labour of others.
People have objected that when capitalist property is abolished, then:
- all work will cease, and
- universal laziness will overtake us.
We answer that if this were true, then capitalist society should have stopped long ago due to the sheer idleness or the rich because:
- those who do productive work get nothing
- those who do nothing productive get everything
Their objection is based on the wrong beilef that wage-labour depends on capital.
This is wrong. It is like saying that the disappearance of a single culture will lead to the disappearance of all cultures. In reality, that loss is not a loss to society.
You have such wrong ideas because you yourself use the current mode of production and form of property. This is the same misconception that the ruling class has.