20-Totalitarianism - 020_Totalitarianism READINGS...

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020_Totalitarianism.doc READINGS: TOTALITARIANISM Lenin, State and Revolution Mussolini, What is Fascism? Hitler, Mein Kampf Koestler, An Intellectual’s Conversion Vladimir Illyich Lenin: State and Revolution, 1918 In State and Revolution , Lenin addresses the Marxist notion that the state will whither away. He somewhat reinterprets the idea, and makes prominent the idea of the "dictatorship of the proletariat". CHAPTER I Class Society and the State 4. The "Withering Away" of the State and Violent Revolution. Engels' words regarding the "withering away" of the state enjoy such popularity, they are so often quoted, and they show so clearly the essence of the usual adulteration by means of which Marxism is made to look like opportunism, that we must dwell on them in detail. Let us quote the whole passage from which they are taken. The proletariat seizes state power, and then transforms the means of production into state property. But in doing this, it puts an end to itself as the proletariat, it puts an end to all class differences and class antagonisms, it puts an end also to the state as the state. Former society, moving in class antagonisms, had need of the state, that is, an organisation of the exploiting class at each period for the maintenance of its external conditions of production; therefore, in particular, for the forcible holding down of the exploited class in the conditions of oppression (slavery, bondage or serfdom, wage-labour) determined by the existing mode of production. The state was the official representative of society as a whole, its embodiment in a visible corporate body; but it was this only in so far as it was the state of that class which itself in its epoch, represented society as a whole: in ancient times, the state of the slave-owning citizens; in the Middle Ages, of the feudal nobility; in our epoch, of the bourgeoisie. When ultimately it becomes really representative of society as a whole, it makes itself superfluous. As soon as there is no longer any class of society to be held in subjection; as soon as, along with class domination and the struggle for individual existence based on the former anarchy of production, the collisions and excesses arising from these have also been abolished, there is nothing more to be repressed, and a special repressive force, a state, is no longer necessary. The first act in which the state really comes forward as the representative of society as a whole-the seizure of the means of production in the name of society-is at the same time its last independent act as a state. The interference of a state power in social relations becomes superfluous in one sphere after another, and then becomes dormant of itself Government over persons is replaced by the administration of things and the direction of the processes of production. The state is not "abolished," it withers away. It is from this standpoint that we must appraise the phrase "people's free state"-both its justification at times for agitational purposes, and its ultimate scientific inadequacy-and also the demand of the so-called Anarchists that the state should be abolished overnight.
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This note was uploaded on 02/15/2011 for the course HISTORY 106 taught by Professor Dennis during the Spring '11 term at Loyola Chicago.

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20-Totalitarianism - 020_Totalitarianism READINGS...

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