It is the … building of a new collective consciousness by attacking, through ideological-cultural struggle and political action, all of the ‘intellectual-moral’ foundations of bourgeois society. This means … a thoroughgoing cultural revolution….Carl Boggs
Gramsci’s Marxism, pp. 121-123
According to a history of the Soviet State Security “organs,” published in 1977, politically “unstable” Soviet citizens were kept track of and “managed” by the KGB. As it happened, such management required a special kind of “prophylactic” work. The key was to persuade the Soviet citizen in question to recognize the “political harm” of “indiscretions committed … [so they could] get back on the right path.” If this “persuasion” was successful, it would prevent criminal breaches of the Soviet security system and social structure.
A similar process of “prophylactic” correction has been set up today, in the United States. Only it has been done without reference to state security organs or the police. If you are a professional in almost any field, you have probably been compelled to accept politically correct dogmas or programs. For example, your employment or career might suffer if you were overheard saying marriage is the union of man and woman. Or your grades might suffer in a college course if you questioned the “settled science” of anthropogenic global warming. Worse yet, you could be attacked and beaten in the street for saying, “All lives matter.”
Our emerging system of cultural control anticipates a future system of police control. Anti-socialist elements are routinely identified and demonized (as seen in the case of President Donald Trump or his followers). A vast indoctrination, utilizing peer group pressure and career incentives, has long been under construction in America. Citizens in all walks of life are judged as “responsible” or “irresponsible,” based on their willingness to cooperate with the agitation-propaganda of the socialist camp. Those who oppose socialism are deemed “reactionary.” Those who waver, and attempt to adopt independent thinking, are labeled “immature.” It is not a matter of being arrested. The system works by propagating social and administrative consequences — enforced by managers, teachers and colleagues. It has progressed slowly, imperceptible, using code words that avoid direct socialist declarations. Always, in this process, the socialist camp advances under cover, using environmentalism, anti-racism and concern for the poor.
The whole thing is a cynical swindle. Those who see through it are targeted for ostracism. This is especially true for those attempting to expose the subversive activities of the socialist camp. Such people are denigrated. They are made to feel like kooks, driven from respectable society into the fringes; fired from their academic or government jobs, forced into retirement or worse.
This process has had many victims. Naturally, in a free society, those who are pushed out of jobs in teaching or government or the media can try a new profession. They can find employment as dishwashers, baristas or night janitors. They do not get thrown in prison or executed, as would happen in China, Cuba or North Korea; so one might ask why there should be any talk of victims at all. The soft tyranny of the American left thinks of itself as humane. Yet a society that believes a lie and muzzles truth-tellers will not stay humane for long.
What has been happening in America, for many years, is a cultural revolution which prepares the way for a more violent kind of uprising. As Carl Boggs explained in his book on Gramsci’s Marxism, we are talking about “a thoroughgoing cultural revolution that sets out to transform all dimensions of everyday life and establish the social psychological underpinnings of socialism before the question of organized state power is resolved.”
Here is an approach advocated by the Italian communist, Antonio Gramsci. It is an amendment to Lenin’s revolutionary theory, offering the prospect of cultural changes that will facilitate the revolutionary seizure of power in an advanced capitalist country (like the United States).
To understand Gramsci’s contribution to Leninist theory, it is worth examining the Leninist concept of the “dictatorship of the proletariat [i.e., the working class].” According to Marx the state is a machine of class oppression. Therefore, the present form of government in the United States is called by Marxists “the Dictatorship of the Bourgeoisie [i.e., the dictatorship of those who own businesses].” It is, according to the Marxists, a form of government in which the rich employ democracy and the free market to rob the poor. The objective of the Marxist-Leninist revolution is to overthrow the dictatorship of the bourgeoisie in favor of the dictatorship of the proletariat.
What, then, is the dictatorship of the proletariat? First, it is “the instrument of the proletariat revolution.” Second, it signifies “rule over the bourgeoisie.” As such, it is concerned with political power. But the seizure of power is not the final objective. According to J.V. Stalin, in his Foundations of Leninism, “The seizure of power is only the beginning.” Why? Because the power of the bourgeoisie is not broken by taking over the government. In many cases, the bourgeoisie can take the government back. The question is how to prevent this. According to Stalin, “the whole point is to retain power, to consolidate it, to make it invincible.”
The consolidation of power in a federal system, subjected to checks and balances, with state governments and a national government operating separately, is not easy. It requires decades of painstaking work. (Here is why Gramsci is so useful!) We see how the Marxists in the United States have always sought the centralization of power in a way that no mechanism of law — no checks and balances — could effectively oppose. Their control of the bureaucratic levers is the essence of the “deep state.” It refuses to obey checks and balances, legal procedures and legal orders from elected magistrates. It will only obey when a president of the socialist camp enters the White House.
To attain invincibility in the consolidation of power, noted Stalin, three main tasks must be carried out. First, to break the resistance of landlords and capitalists, “to liquidate every attempt on their part to restore the power of capital.” Second, to prepare the elimination of the middle and upper classes. Third, “to arm the revolution, to organize the army of the revolution….”
Resistance can be broken, for example, by defunding the police, by widespread looting, by collapsing the currency. At the same time, Marxist infiltration of big business can be used to stage provocations which underscore the wickedness of the capitalists. It is important, from the point of view of the revolution, that the capitalists are always blamed.
Psychologically, the expropriation of the rich needs to happen suddenly. It must be ruthless and thorough. It is facilitated by the fact that the rich are numerically insignificant and the government can be turned against them. If, at the same time, the masses are rioting and looting, the rich will find themselves in a hopeless position.
In terms of establishing a socialist society, the hardest thing to accomplish, in all of this, is the expropriation of the small business owners. These people are quite numerous. They are independent in their thinking. Wherever they exist, capitalism continues. To make the new dictatorship secure, according to Lenin, “the abolition of classes means not only driving out the landlords and capitalists” which is accomplished with comparative ease. It means “abolishing the small commodity producers….”
Yes, it means that all small businesses must go. They cannot be allowed to exist. Naturally, their resistance may become violent. Thus, Lenin explained, “The dictatorship of the proletariat is a … ruthless war waged … against a more powerful enemy, the bourgeoisie, whose resistance is increased tenfold by its overthrow.”
Revolutionary theory anticipates a very violent bourgeois reaction. The counterrevolution which follows the establishment of “the dictatorship of the proletariat” will require the Marxists to use bloody and bloodless forms of struggle. It will involve violent and peaceful means of persuasion. It will rely on educational, economic and administrative weapons to smash “the forces and traditions of the old society,” noted Lenin.
About this process, Karl Marx said to the workers: “You will have to go through fifteen, twenty, fifty years of civil wars and international conflicts … not only to change existing conditions, but also to change yourselves and to make yourselves capable of wielding political power….”
Lenin wrote: “It will be necessary under the dictatorship of the proletariat to re-educate millions of … small proprietors, hundreds of thousands of office employees, officials and bourgeois intellectuals, to subordinate them all to the proletarian state and to proletarian leadership, to overcome their bourgeois habits and traditions….”
Lenin joked that the workers would not easily give up their “bourgeois prejudices at one stroke, by a miracle, at the bidding of the Virgin Mary….” It would only happen, he said, “in the course of a long and difficult mass struggle against the mass petty-bourgeois influences” of tradition.
The struggle that Lenin described will involve slogans and stratagems; but it will also involve the violent breakup of the old order in all its particulars. The dictatorship of the proletariat, as a new form of government, said Stalin, “is a revolutionary power based on the use of force against the bourgeoisie.”
Perhaps the most important note that Stalin attaches to his summary of Leninist teachings on the dictatorship of the proletariat, is that this dictatorship “cannot arise as the result of the peaceful development of bourgeois society and of bourgeois democracy….” This dictatorship, which the communists seek to establish at all costs, “can arise only as the result of the smashing of the bourgeois state machine, the bourgeois army, the bourgeois bureaucratic apparatus, the bourgeois police.”
One shudders to imagine the “smashing” of so many institutions, the destruction of the capitalist system itself, and the advent of a full-blown socialist dictatorship. Ask yourself: Would America’s nuclear deterrent survive such a process? Surely, Beijing would applaud the advent of a communist regime in Washington, if only because Chinese world dominance would be assured.
Notes and Links
Chinese defense spending may be higher than U.S. spending in real terms — https://www.washingtonexaminer.com/opinion/chinese-and-russian-military-spending-could-actually-exceed-the-us