Full Communism - The Ultimate Goal

Full Communism - The Ultimate Goal

The transition from capitalism to the ideal society does not end with the ownership and operation of industry by a proletarian state—that is, with socialism. Marx referred to and Lenin developed the details of a full communistic society that was expected to evolve out of the socialistic dictatorship of the proletariat. Apparently Marx and Engels envisioned such a society when they wrote in the "Communist Manifesto" that if the proletariat successfully "sweeps away by force the old conditions of production, then it will, along with those conditions, have swept away the conditions for the existence of class antagonisms and of classes generally, and will thereby have abolished its own supremacy as a class. In place of the aid bourgeois society, with its classes and class antagonisms, we shall have an association in which the free development of each is the condition for the free development of all." More specifically, Marx has described this full communism as follows:


In a higher phase of communist society, when the enslaving subordination of individuals in the division of labor has disappeared, and with it also the antagonism, between mental and physical labor; when labor has become not only a means of living, but itself the first necessity of life; when, along with the all-around development of individuals, the productive forces too have grown, and all the springs of social wealth are flowing more freely—it is only at that stage that it will be possible to pass completely beyond the horizon of bourgeois rights, and for society to inscribe on its banners: from each according to his ability: to each according to his needs!
However, the transition from socialism to full communism is not inevitable in the same way that the internal contradictions of the capitalist system lead to its inevitable destruction. Referring to critics who held full communism to be an unobtainable Utopia, Lenin pointed out that their position was one of "ignorance—for it has never entered the head of any socialist to 'promise' that the highest phase of communism will arrive. . . ," He further pointed out that full communism cannot be "introduced" and that "by what stages, by means of what practical measures humanity will proceed to this higher aim—this we do not and cannot know."

Conditions Necessary to Attainment of Full Communism


Only if the proletariat is prepared to accept its responsibilities under the socialistic dictatorship of the proletariat and to use its power to develop the objective and psychological conditions essential to full communism will the highest stage of communism be ushered in. Marx hinted at the nature of these conditions in the statement just quoted. Lenin summarized them as being "both a productivity of labor unlike the present and a person not like the present man in the street, capable of spoiling without reflection . . . the stores of social wealth, and of demanding the impossible." He contended that when we note how "incredibly" capitalism retards productive forces, "we have a right to say, with the fullest confidence, that the expropriation of the capitalists will inevitably result in a gigantic development of the productive forces of human society."

Thus the organized proletariat after the downfall of the capitalist system was to work for the establishment of state-owned and operated industry, the tremendous expansion of production by freeing it from capitalist restrictions, and the creation of a new psychology in which each would want to perform his social function. All capitalist ideology would be crushed, and all antagonistic differentiation between manual and mental labor (and therefore between town and country and between degrees of skill) would cease.

As the proletariat gradually accomplishes these goals, the state—the political weapon of the proletariat during its dictatorship—correspondingly ceases to exist; it "withers away." Since the Marxian theory of the state holds it to be merely an agency of class oppression, as class distinctions and antagonisms disappear there gradually come to be fewer and fewer functions for the state to perform, and it therefore atrophies.35 The state is not "abolished"; it disappears by the operation of processes that are entirely automatic, since they are generated by changes in the mode of production.

As these forces work to their ultimate conclusion, which "must obviously be a rather lengthy process." the state ceases to exist in any degree. Classes have entirely disappeared; there is no class to be oppressed and consequently no function for a political state. Whatever economic functions of control the state formerly performed will have been absorbed either by the operation of the individuals' communized psychologies, which now direct them to do what the proletarian state has previously ordered them to do, or by voluntary cooperative agreements among citizen workers (as, for instance, on the length of the workday). Lenin has pictured this political aspect of the highest phase of communism in several remarkable passages.
Only in communist society, when the resistance of the capitalists has been completely broken, when the capitalists have disappeared, when there are no classes (i.e., there is no difference between the members of society in their relation to the social means of production), only then "the state ceases to exist," and "/'( becomes possible to speak of freedom." Only then a really full democracy, a democracy without any exceptions, will be possible and will be realized. And only then will democracy itself begin to wither away due to the simple fact that, freed from capitalist slavery, from the untold horrors, savagery, absurdities and infamies of capitalist exploitation, people will gradually become accustomed to the observation of the elementary rules of social life that have been known for centuries and repeated for thousands of years in all school books; they will become accustomed to observing them without force, without compulsion, without subordination, without the special apparatus for compulsion which is called the state.


Finally, only communism renders the state absolutely unnecessary, for there is no one to be suppressed—"no one" in the sense of a class, in the sense of a systematic struggle with a definite section of the population. We are not Utopians, and we do not in the least deny the possibility and inevitability of excesses on the part of individual persons, nor the need to suppress such excesses. But, in the first place, no special machinery, no special apparatus or repression is needed for this; this will be done by the armed people itself, as simply and as readily as any crowd of civilized people, even in modern society, parts a pair of combatants or does not allow a woman to be outraged. And, secondly, we know that the fundamental social cause of excesses which consists in violating the rules of social life is the exploitation of the masses, their want and their poverty. With the removal of this chief cause, excesses will inevitably begin to "wither away." We do not know how quickly and in what succession, but we know that they will wither away. With their withering away, the state will also wither away.

Economic Aspects of Full Communism

The chief economic features of full communism may be summarized briefly. Society, now composed entirely of workers except for those who are physically or mentally incapacitated, owns in common the natural and man-made instruments of production. Although differences in personal tastes and many individual idiosyncrasies remain, society is classless because the former owning class has been partly destroyed and partly absorbed into the working class. With surplus value no longer received by anyone, the workers possess the entire product they, assisted by nature and man-made implements, turn out. The more labor produces, the more labor has. Consequently, each is motivated to perform his part in the cooperative undertakings of production in accordance with his full abilities. The increased productivity of society assures each member of getting what he needs, and each therefore consumes in accordance with these needs. The citizen of such a society is unable to store up private possessions in the form of capital or capital funds and finds it unnecessary to store up private possessions of consumer goods.
Paradoxically, economic life assumes at once both fullness and simplicity, on the one hand affording the material basis for higher forms of pleasure and culture and, on the other, permitting leisure and freedom from economic worries, thereby encouraging the pursuit of higher pleasures. "As soon as this cherished system arrives, antitheses having nothing to feed on, the antagonisms allay and the dialectic ceases in its travail." Truly, this is a new society to its very philosophical foundations.