Marxism-Leninism – Theory of the Working Class Movement for Emancipation

September 26, 2010

The basic program of the Workers Party is to help create the subjective conditions (the consciousness, organization and independent political program of the workers themselves) necessary for the whole working class to rise, gain the political power and carry through its own emancipation. In the immediate period we are working to lay the foundations for turning the Party into a mass Party of the working class. In the course of the work of developing the workers' independent political program, we need to rely on the Party’s theory and program and utilize the instruments we have created to LEAD on a broader, deeper and more all-sided basis to mobilize the workers and people to take an ever more active role in building up their independent political movement. In order to assist this work, “The Worker” will be presenting a series of articles enunciating some of the fundamentals of Marxism-Leninism – the theory of the working class movement for emancipation.

Marxism-Leninism holds that the only thing that exists, in both the natural world as well as society, is matter in motion. Thus society which exists objectively outside the mind and independent of the will of individuals is in a constant state of change, development and motion. Just as the task of physical science is to know the laws of motion of the physical world, so the task of social science is to know the laws of social development. Marxism-Leninism is the science of society.

What is the basis of change, development and motion in society? Marxism-Leninism reveals that the basis of change, development and motion is the contradictions inherent in society. In particular Marxism singles out the contradiction between the productive forces of society and the social relations of production as the decisive factor which pushes society forward.

The term productive forces of society refers to the forces at the disposal of a given society for transforming the natural world in order to secure humans’ needs and wants – such as food, clothing, shelter, etc. Thus the productive forces of society comprise the available tools (including scientific and technological knowledge) as well as the productive class itself – the laboring class. But the productive forces of society are only set in motion through a particular form of social organization – by men and women organized in a definite way. The manner in which people are organized to use the productive forces constitutes the social relations of production.

The decisive aspect of the social relations of production is the question of ownership – what class owns the tools of society. In slave society, feudal society and capitalist society the productive forces are owned privately – that is they are monopolized by a tiny portion of the society, who constitute the propertied class while the great mass of the laboring population are disenfranchised. Thus even though it is the laboring masses who produce the material blessings, it remains the slave-owners, the feudal lords or the present-day capitalists who, based on their ownership of society's tools, are able to expropriate the bulk of the social product. In the socialist society – as it existed in the Soviet Union from 1917 through the mid-1950’s and in Albania from the 1940s through the 1980s – the productive forces of society are owned collectively by all the working people. Hence, under socialism there can be no exploitation of man by man and the entire social product is appropriated – through both individual and social consumption and through reinvestment – by the working people themselves.

In general, society has passed through 5 stages of historical development – primitive society, slave society, feudal society, capitalist society and socialism. Historical development and the transformation of one form of society into another comes about because as new productive forces are continually created and accumulated they come into contradiction with the old social relations of production. The example of capitalism demonstrates this. Capitalism is characterized by large-scale production. As capitalism developed from the stage of small-scale, competitive capitalism to the stage of monopoly capitalism, as entire nations were unified through the creation of a single capitalist market and the ever-broader extension of production, the social character of production has come into sharper and sharper antagonism with the capitalist social relations based on private ownership in the means of production. In the U.S. today the productive forces have become completely socialized – literally tens of millions of workers cooperate to set in motion big-scale modern industry, telecommunications systems, mass transport, etc., etc. While the social productive forces in capitalist America are capable of producing an abundance of products, the working masses continue to live in poverty and misery while the productive forces themselves are wasted and destroyed. Food remains in warehouses or is destroyed while people go hungry. The housing industry has practically ceased production while millions are homeless. Steel and auto factories are shuttered while millions of workers remain unemployed. All these problems reflect the fact that the capitalist private ownership is fettering the productive forces and suppressing social development. Food is destroyed because this proves to be most profitable for the capitalists; factories are closed because the auto magnates cannot profitably sell all the cars that the working class is capable of producing, etc., etc. The real social character of the society is denied and suppressed by the capitalist private ownership. The health care industry is not based on keeping the people healthy but rather on profit for a few. The natural environment is not cared for and protected but rather plundered and pillaged in the pursuit of maximum profit in the shortest period of time. In fact the entire society is being forced to pay to maintain the privileges and rule of the capitalist class. All this shows that the demand for socialism is arising from literally every pore of our society. Socialism, based on the collective ownership of the means of production, will bring the social relations of society into harmony with the productive forces, thus allowing for the all-around development of economic and social life in service of the laboring masses themselves.

The Marxist-Leninist theory of change, development and motion is a powerful weapon in the hands of the working class and the oppressed masses in the struggle against capitalist ideology. Today the capitalist class maintains that all social and historical development has ceased; that capitalism is the "most perfect system" and that it will last forever. This static, metaphysical view itself shows that the capitalists have become a stagnant and decaying force, that capitalism no longer offers the people any future or perspectives. Moreover, precisely because the capitalists want to obscure the fact that they themselves are the source of all the problems plaguing society, capitalist ideology has degenerated to the point of claiming that history is merely a "capricious series of accidents" and that reality itself (both physical and social) is unknowable. These "theories" of the capitalists have definite political and social aims. They are designed to create maximum confusion and pessimism amongst the people, to create the idea that society cannot be changed, that the problems facing the masses cannot be overcome and that it is useless to struggle for progress and social change.

The concentrated expression of all these bourgeois "theories" is the ceaseless attack on Marxism-Leninism itself, which is invariably called a "dead dogma," a "religion," etc. The capitalists are attacking all scientific thought, trying to deny the objective character of society and the laws of social and historical development. Marxism-Leninism as the theoretical expression of the objective processes of social development is the irreplaceable guide for the working class and all progressive mankind in the struggle to know the world and to change it.

The working masses, exploited and oppressed by the capitalist system, always strive to understand the objective laws of society precisely in order to overthrow the conditions which enslave and oppress them, while the capitalists, like all exploiting classes, seek to obscure reality in the hopes of maintaining the status quo. The Marxist-Leninist theory of change – which reveals the progressive direction of human history and demonstrates that the laboring classes themselves are the chief agent of social development – inspires the working and oppressed masses to fight for the overthrow of the old social relations and for the creation of the new socialist society.