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Soviet Democracy, Single Party & Multi Party

Soviet cogitations: 54
Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 19 May 2014, 02:13
Ideology: Marxism-Leninism
Post 04 Sep 2014, 02:20
As to freedom for various political parties, we adhere to somewhat different views. A party is a part of a class, its most advanced part. Several parties, and, consequently, freedom for parties, can exist only in a society in which there are antagonistic classes whose interests are mutually hostile and irreconcilable - in which there are, say, capitalists and workers, landlords and peasants, kulaks and poor peasants, etc. But in the U.S.S.R. there are no longer such classes as the capitalists, the landlords, the kulaks, etc. In the U.S.S.R. there are only two classes, workers and peasants, whose interests - far from being mutually hostile - are, on the contrary, friendly. Hence, there is no ground in the U.S.S.R. for the existence of several parties, and, consequently, for freedom for these parties.

In the U.S.S.R. there is ground only for one party, the Communist Party. In the U.S.S.R. only one party can exist, the Communist Party, which courageously defends the interests of the workers and peasants to the very end. And that it defends the interests of these classes not at all badly, of that there can hardly be any doubt. (Loud applause.) They talk of democracy. But what is democracy?

Democracy in capitalist countries, where there are antagonistic classes, is, in the last analysis, democracy for the strong, democracy for the propertied minority. In the U.S.S.R., on the contrary, democracy is democracy for the working people, i.e., democracy for all. But from this it follows that the principles of democratism are violated, not by the draft of the new Constitution of the U.S.S.R., but by the bourgeois constitutions. That is why I think that the Constitution of the U.S.S.R. is the only thoroughly democratic Constitution in the world." ('On the Draft Constitution of the U.S.S.R' - Report Delivered at the Extraordinary Eighth Congress of Soviets of the U.S.S.R., 25. November 1936)

Everything expressed by Stalin here is completely accurate. I would add that it is entirely possible for to maintain the dictatorship of the proletariat within a multi-party system under the guidance of a Popular Front.Of importance is that this was said in 1936 before the Popular Front was put into practice elsewhere.For Example East Germany was ruled by a "National Front" of all anti-fascist parties and movements within parliament (Socialist Unity Party of Germany, Liberal Party, Farmers' Party, Youth Movement, Trade Union Federation, etc.) Other examples include.

Socialist Republic of Vietnam - the Fatherland Front led by the Communist Party of Vietnam
Lao People's Democratic Republic - the Lao Front for National Construction led by the Lao People's Revolutionary Party
Democratic People's Republic of Korea - the Democratic Front for the Reunification of the Fatherland led by the Workers' Party of Korea (succeeded the United Democratic National Front of 1946-1949)
People's Socialist Republic of Albania - the Democratic Front led by the Albanian Party of Labour (succeeded the National Liberation Front of 1942-1945)
Democratic Republic of Afghanistan - the National Front led by the People's Democratic Party of Afghanistan
People's Republic of Bulgaria - the Fatherland Front led by the Bulgarian Communist Party
Czechoslovak Socialist Republic - the National Front led by the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia
People's Republic of Hungary - the National Independence Front led by the Hungarian Communist Party (replaced in 1949 by the Independent People's Front led by the Hungarian Working People's Party, then replaced by the Patriotic People's Front in 1954, which after 1956 was led by the Hungarian Socialist Workers' Party)
People's Republic of Kampuchea - the Kampuchean United Front for National Salvation led by the Kampuchean People's Revolutionary Party (renamed Kampuchean United Front for National Construction and Defence in 1981)
People's Republic of Poland - the Democratic Bloc led by the Polish United Workers' Party (replaced by the Front of National Unity in 1952 and subsequently by the Patriotic Movement for National Rebirth in 1983)
Socialist Republic of Romania - the People's Democratic Front led by the Romanian Communist Party (replaced in 1968 by the Socialist Unity Front, later renamed the Socialist Democracy and Unity Front)
SFR Yugoslavia - the National Front of Yugoslavia led by the Communist Party of Yugoslavia (replaced by the Socialist Alliance of Working People of Yugoslavia in 1945)

The Soviet Union is unusual in this respect as there was no popular front of multiple parties. This is understandable as the betrayal of the Bolsheviks by the reactionary Menshaviks, "Socialist Revolutionaries" and other parties that aided the White Army were rightly banned for their treason. Trade Unions, Komsomol and other representitive groups of the Soviet people did participate in elections.

Cuba has an interesting systems (as far as I know, unique) in which Members of all political parties are free to put themselves forward at open and public candidate selection ("Town Hall") meetings and, if they command a simple majority of those present, will be entered onto the ballot paper and have their election materials posted. The Communist Party of Cuba is the official state party, and various other political parties have been active in the country since their existence was legalised in 1992. Nevertheless, they, along with the Communist Party of Cuba, are prohibited from campaigning in elections or public political speech. The most important of these are the Christian Democratic Party of Cuba, the Cuban Democratic Socialist Current, the Democratic Social-Revolutionary Party of Cuba, the Democratic Solidarity Party, the Liberal Party of Cuba and the Social Democratic Co-ordination of Cuba.
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Soviet cogitations: 11879
Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 06 Dec 2009, 23:17
Post 04 Sep 2014, 02:36
The promise to give the Soviet people freedom to vote “for those whom they want to elect” is rather a poetic figure than a political formula. The Soviet people will have the right to choose their “representatives” only from among candidates whom the central and local leaders present to them under the flag of the party. To be sure, during the first period of the Soviet era the Bolshevik party also exercised a monopoly. But to identify these two phenomena would be to take appearance for reality. The prohibition of opposition parties was a temporary measure dictated by conditions of civil war, blockade, intervention and famine. The ruling party, representing in that period a genuine organization of the proletarian vanguard, was living a full-blooded inner life. A struggle of groups and factions to a certain degree replaced the struggle of parties. At present, when socialism has conquered “finally and irrevocably,” the formation of factions is punished with concentration camp or firing squad. The prohibition of other parties, from being a temporary evil, has been erected into a principle. The right to occupy themselves with political questions has even been withdrawn from the Communist Youth, and that at the very moment of publication of the new constitution. Moreover, the citizens and citizenesses enjoy the franchise from the age of 18, but the age limit for Communist Youth existing until 1986 (23 years) is now wholly abolished. Politics is thus once for all declared the monopoly of an uncontrolled bureaucracy.

To a question from an American interviewer as to the role of the party in the new constitution, Stalin answered: “Once there are no classes, once the barriers between classes are disappearing [‘there are no classes, the barriers between classes – which are not! – are disappearing’ – L.T.], there remains only something in the nature of a not at all fundamental difference between various little strata of the socialist society. There can be no nourishing soil for the creation of parties struggling among themselves. Where there are not several classes, there cannot be several parties, for a party is part of a class.” Every word is a mistake and some of them two! It appears from this that classes are homogeneous; that the boundaries of classes are outlined sharply and once for all; that the consciousness of a class strictly corresponds to its place in society. The Marxist teaching of the class nature of the party is thus turned into a caricature. The dynamic of political consciousness is excluded from the historical process in the interests of administrative order. In reality classes are heterogeneous; they are torn by inner antagonisms, and arrive at the solution of common problems no otherwise than through an inner struggle of tendencies, groups and parties. It is possible, with certain qualifications, to concede that “a party is part of a class.” But since a class has many “parts” – some look forward and some back – one and the same class may create several parties. For the same reason one party may rest upon parts of different classes. An example of only one party corresponding to one class is not to be found in the whole course of political history – provided, of course, you do not take the police appearance for the reality.

In its social structure, the proletariat is the least heterogeneous class of capitalist society. Nevertheless, the presence of such “little strata” as the workers’ aristocracy and the workers’ bureaucracy is sufficient to give rise to opportunistic parties, which are converted by the course of things into one of the weapons of bourgeois domination. Whether from the standpoint of Stalinist sociology, the difference between the workers’ aristocracy and the proletarian mass is “fundamental” or only “something in the nature of” matters not at all. It is from this difference that the necessity arose in its time for breaking with the Social Democracy and creating the Third International.

Even if in the Soviet society “there are no classes,” nevertheless this society is at least incomparably more heterogeneous and complicated than the proletariat of capitalist countries, and consequently can furnish adequate nourishing soil for several parties. In making this imprudent excursion into the field of theory, Stalin proved a good deal more than he wanted to. From his reasonings it follows not only that there can be no different parties in the Soviet Union, but that there cannot even be one party. For where there are no classes, there is in general no place for politics. Nevertheless, from this law Stalin draws a “sociological” conclusion in favor of the party of which he is the General Secretary.

Bukharin tries to approach the problem from another side. In the Soviet Union, he says, the question where to go – whether back to capitalism or forward to socialism – is no longer subject to discussion. Therefore, “partisans of the hostile liquidated classes organized in parties cannot be permitted.” To say nothing of the fact that in a country of triumphant socialism partisans of capitalism would be merely ludicrous Don Quixotes incapable of creating a party, the existing political differences are far from comprised in the alternative: to socialism or to capitalism. There are other questions: How go toward socialism, with what tempo, etc. The choice of the road is no less important than the choice of the goal. Who is going to choose the road? If the nourishing soil for political parties has really disappeared, then there is no reason to forbid them. On the contrary, it is time, in accordance with the party program, to abolish “all limitations of freedom whatsoever.”

In trying to dispel the natural doubts of his American interviewer, Stalin advanced a new consideration: “Lists of nominees will be presented not only by the Communist Party, but also by all kinds of non-party social organizations. And we have hundreds of them ... Each one of the little strata [of Soviet society] can have its special interests and reflect [express?] them through the existing innumerable social organizations.” This sophism is no better than the others. The Soviet “social” organizations – trade union, co-operative, cultural, etc. do not in the least represent the interests of different “little strata”, for they all have one and the same hierarchical structure. Even in those cases where they apparently represent mass organizations, as in the trade unions and co-operatives, the active role in them is played exclusively by representatives of the upper privileged groups, and the last word remains with the “party” – that is, the bureaucracy. The constitution merely refers the elector from Pontius to Pilate.

The mechanics of this are expressed with complete precision in the very text of the fundamental law. Article 126, which is the axis of the constitution as a political system, “guarantees the right” to all male and female citizens to group themselves in trade unions, co-operatives, youth, sport, defensive, cultural, technical and scientific organizations. As to the party – that is, the concentration of power – there it is not a question of the right of all, but of the privilege of the minority. “... The most active and conscious [so considered, that is, from above – L.T.] citizens from the ranks of the working class and other strata of the toiling masses, are united in the Communist Party ... which constitutes the guiding nucleus of all organizations, both social and governmental.” This astoundingly candid formula, introduced into the text of the constitution itself, reveals the whole fictitiousness of the political role of those “social organizations” – subordinate branches of the bureaucratic firm.

But if there is not to be a struggle of parties, perhaps the different factions within the one party can reveal themselves at these democratic elections? To the question of a French journalist as to the groupings of the ruling party, Molotov answered: “In the party ... attempts have been made to create special factions ... but it is already several years since the situation in this matter has fundamentally changed, and the Communist Party is actually a unit.” This is proven best of all by the continuous purgations and the concentration camps. After the commentary of Molotov, the mechanics of democracy are completely clear. “What remains of the October Revolution,” asks Victor Serge, “if every worker who permits himself to make a demand, or express a critical judgment, is subject to imprisonment? Oh, after that you can establish as many secret ballots as you please!” It is true: even Hitler did not infringe upon the secret ballot.

The reformers have dragged in theoretical arguments about the mutual relations of classes and parties by the hair. It is not a question of sociology, but of material interests. The ruling party which enjoys a monopoly in the Soviet Union is the political machine of the bureaucracy, which in reality has something to lose and nothing more to gain. It wishes to preserve the “nourishing soil” for itself alone. ... htm#ch10-3

Anyway of all those cases you brought here for us only the GDR preserved some semblance of a multi-party system. Almost all of those "fronts" in people's republics were of course not only completely dominated by the communist parties but liquidated in a few years.
Soviet cogitations: 729
Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 01 Mar 2011, 14:10
Ideology: Marxism-Leninism
Post 13 Sep 2014, 15:47
That chapter of Trotsky's work is silly in general. That quoted portion in particular is simply hypocritical: during the 20s the "Left" Opposition never brought up the revival of multiple parties. Only when they were defeated did they come out for a multi-party system, a hallmark of bourgeois democracy.

There is no need for multiple "workers' parties" under socialism. They are incompatible with the role of the vanguard. It is through the party organs, state organs, trade unions, newspapers and other venues that debate and discussion are held involving the whole of society, not just partisans of this or that political party.

Also your comment is erroneous since Poland, Czechoslovakia and Bulgaria also had multiple parties. Under the revisionists these parties were allowed to continue existing even though "socialism" had supposedly been built in their countries.

"After the dictatorship of the proletariat has been established and consolidated, which is achieved under the guidance of the communist party, the existence for a long time of other parties, inside or outside the front, even if they are 'progressive' ones, has no meaning, no 'raison d'être' even formally on account of their alleged traditions. Every progressive tradition is blended with the revolutionary line of the communist party. The revolution overthrows a whole world, let alone a single tradition. As long as the class struggle goes on during the whole period of socialist construction of society and transition to communism, and since political parties uphold the interests of specific classes, it would be absurd and opportunist to have other non-Marxist-Leninist parties existing in the system of the dictatorship of the proletariat, especially when the economic basis of socialism has been laid. This does not affect democracy at all but, on the contrary, strengthens genuine proletarian democracy. The democratic nature of a system is in no way gauged by the number of parties, but is determined by its economic basis, by the class in power, and by the policy and activity of the State and by the fact whether it conforms to the interests of the broad masses of the people, whether it serves them or not.

With a view to achieving their counter-revolutionary aims in the service of the bourgeoisie and imperialism, the modern revisionists are ever more zealously proceeding along the way of degrading the communist parties and socialist regimes. They are liquidating the parties of the working class denying their proletarian class nature and proclaiming them as 'parties of the people as a whole'. In fact they have turned them into bourgeois parties of a new type. The degeneration of the communist parties and socialist order in certain countries, where revisionist cliques hold sway, is bringing about the revival of the system of two or more bourgeois parties under the guise of socialism and on behalf of the alleged development of socialist democracy. The fronts that exist in some of these countries have remained so on paper, they are lifeless and signs are already apparent of the revival and political and organizational activation of parties taking part in these fronts striving to win commanding posts in the socialist state which is continually assuming the features of a bourgeois state. The extreme groupings of modern revisionists, particularly in capitalist countries like France and Italy, are striving to persuade their revisionist colleagues in socialist countries to speedily proceed along this road in order to give a further proof to the western bourgeoisie that they are prepared to put an end to 'Stalinist socialism' and to re-establish a new bourgeois socialism of the social-democratic type and to make the work of revisionists in capitalist countries easier to unite and merge with the bourgeoisie and their parties, in order to join it in setting up such a 'socialist' order in these countries."
(Enver Hoxha. Report on the Role and Tasks of the Democratic Front for the Complete Triumph of Socialism in Albania. Tirana: 8 Nëntori Publishing House. 1974. pp. 44-46.)

Hoxha's words were quite prescient considering that Dubček sought to "regenerate" Czechoslovakia's National Front through increasing the activity of its bourgeois parties. In 1956 Imre Nagy also sought to "regenerate" the work of the front in Hungary through restoring the existence of bourgeois parties. In the 80s Jaruzelski also tried to get the other bourgeois parties within the Polish front to be more active.
Soviet cogitations: 108
Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 14 Feb 2014, 12:33
Post 16 Oct 2014, 10:58
In short, a multi-party system was created in Eastern Bloc (and other states) because these states were not socialist states (like the Soviet Union), but people's democracies (as they were designated by the USSR). A lot was written about this by the Eastern Bloc writers (and by Western writers).
Soviet cogitations: 729
Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 01 Mar 2011, 14:10
Ideology: Marxism-Leninism
Post 20 Oct 2014, 04:37
People's Democracies were a form of the dictatorship of the proletariat, and like any other DOTP were tasked with building socialism. By the early 1960s almost all of them to my knowledge claimed to have achieved socialism in the main. Albania claimed to have reached the technical basis necessary for building socialism by 1960, and actually built socialism in the main by 1971 (hence the 1976 constitution designating Albania a People's Socialist Republic.)

Of course Soviet writers in the Stalin period envisioned that the construction of socialism would necessarily lead to the dissolution of the other parties in these countries, whereas after Stalin Soviet authors changed their minds.
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