“In consonance with the topic of your conference, ‘Class analysis in the modern communist movement’, allow us to state our views. We appreciate the position that the definition of the class concept of the proletariat as a revolutionary class is crucial to the formation of the Marxist-Leninist revolutionary party, in the face of the unceasing attempts of the Brezhnevites and the neo-Brezhnevites to revise the concept.
It is our view that the definition first put forward by Marx and further developed by Lenin in ‘A Great Beginning’ remains valid, historically and currently. It is a definition that is grounded on the mode of production in accordance with historical materialism. Upon the material conditions of large-scale industrial production, the working class arises and grows in contradictions with the dominant capitalist class in capitalist society. Consequently, it becomes the dominant class in socialist society after the overthrow of the bourgeoisie and continues to wage class struggle until classes are abolished.
Lenin taught us; ‘Classes are large groups of people differing from each other by the place they occupy in a historically determined system of social production, by their relation (in most cases fixed and formulated in law) to the means of production, by their role in the social organization of labor, and, consequently, by the dimensions of the share of social wealth of which they dispose and the mode of acquiring it.’ He said further that classes are groups of people one of which can appropriate the labor of another owing to the different places they occupy in a definite system of social economy.
He pointed out, ‘Clearly, in order to abolish classes completely, it is not enough to overthrow the exploiters, the landowners and capitalists, not enough to abolish their rights of ownership; it is necessary also to abolish all private ownership of the means of production, it is necessary to abolish the distinction between town and country, as well as the distinction between manual and mental workers. This requires a very long period of time.’
He added, ‘In order to achieve this, an enormous step must be taken in developing the productive forces; it is necessary to overcome the resistance (frequently passive, which is particularly stubborn and particularly difficult to overcome) of the numerous survivals of small scale production; it is necessary to overcome the enormous force of habit and conservatism which are connected with these survivals.’
As a dialectical materialist, Lenin recognized first that the classes and class struggle arise in the mode of production and he proceeded to look at the interaction of the superstructure and the mode of production in the course of class struggle. He did not confine classes and class struggle to the mode of production and the development of the productive forces.
He combated the attempts to expand and vulgarize the meaning of proletariat as to include all toilers and the petty bourgeoisie. He also combated the confabulations of the petty bourgeoisie (Kautsky, Martov and the like) about liberty, equality, democracy in general, equality of labor democracy, etc., as the supposed way to solve the problems in the transition from capitalism to socialism. At the same time, he called for the alliance of the proletariat with the peasantry and other revolutionary forces.
The proletariat cannot build socialism by confining itself to economic struggle in the mode of production and without developing its revolutionary theory as guide to its revolutionary movement, without smashing the bourgeois class dictatorship and replacing it with the proletarian class dictatorship and without supplanting the bourgeoise and other antiquated culture with the proletarian-socialist culture.
In the course of socialist revolution and construction, the exploiting classes can be abolished in the economic and legal spheres. Although basically required, socialist economic construction alone cannot automatically create a proletarian-socialist superstructure that can extirpate the vestiges or new shoots of the bourgeoisie in the superstructure. The revolutionary proletariat must make a conscious and deliberate effort to extend and win the class struggle in the superstructure.
In the historical experience of both the Soviet Union and China, the old bourgeoisie and the landlord class took their last line of resistance in the superstructure under many pretenses and eventually a new petty bourgeoisie arose from the new intelligentsia and bureaucracy as a result of uneven development and the errors and shortcomings of the revolutionary party of the proletariat in the conduct of the two-line struggle with the bourgeoisie. Mao observed and fought the new petty bourgeoisie and won against it in his lifetime but his line would still be defeated after his death. ”