Communism and its Tactics : Part 1, Chapter 3 : December 10 1921

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(1882 - 1960)
Estelle Sylvia Pankhurst (born 5 May 1882 in Manchester – died 27 September 1960 in Addis Ababa) was an English campaigner for the suffrage and suffragette movement, a socialist and later a prominent left communist and activist in the cause of anti-fascism and the international auxiliary language movement. She spent much of her later life campaigning on behalf of Ethiopia, where she eventually moved. (From :


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Part 1, Chapter 3

Workers Dreadnought December 10 1921

In Russia all this was done, and over vast districts, under the spur of need without preliminary thought or organization.

In this country the workers cannot leave things to chance. Capitalism is highly organized here and will defeat the workers’ revolution again and again, unless the workers are organized efficiently. Moreover, in London and in the vast chains of towns which form our industrial districts we are so closely massed on the ground, so absolutely dependent on food brought in from outside, and upon the collective service of the whole industrial community, that unless production and distribution is well organized we must speedily starve.

It will go hard with us if we have not created the machinery before the hour of revolution strikes.

The machinery of the Soviets must obviously follow, and does so far as it is successful, the lines of need. Each workshop has its meetings and elects its delegates to a factory committee. The factory will also have its mass meetings of all workers on occasion. Every factory will be united to the factories of the same industry in the district through its committee of delegates, and in the same way will be co-ordinated with every factory in the same industry in the country. These are the bodies which will meet and discuss what concerns the industry, but for matters which concern the district in which the workers live and work they will go to mass meetings or send delegates to committees from all the industries in the district. The housekeepers will have their own meetings also, and they, too, will go to mass meetings or send delegates to the producing industries when arrangements are to be made between them.

All this will be done purely by way of managing affairs so that all may be, as far as possible, satisfied that the needs of all may be explained and understood by those who have to supply them.

But there should be no compulsion; some people may say: “What the majority decide is good enough for me.” Others will say: “I like to have a voice in it.” As a rule, when things affecting a group of people who are working together come up for decision everyone of the group will join in and give his or her opinion, and generally the thing will be decided by mutual agreement.

The Dictatorship of the Proletariat

The dictatorship of the proletariat is a much misused phrase; when Communism is in being there will be no proletariat, as we understand the term today, and no dictatorship.

The dictatorship, so far as it is genuine and defensible, is the suppression by Workers’ Soviets of capitalism and the attempt to reestablish it. This should be a temporary state of war. Such a period will inevitably occur, we believe, because we do not believe that the possessors of wealth will submit to the overthrow of capitalism without resistance. On the contrary, [we] believe the owners will fight to preserve capitalism by every means in their power.

Whilst the capitalists are openly fighting the workers who have seized the power, fighting them openly and secretly in armed battalions in guerrilla bands, by ambush assasination bombs, sabotage, spies; then the proletariat must maintain a vigilant war service and dictatorship. The situation in Ireland before the truce is a little like what a proletarian dictatorship may have to cope with.

Once, however, the war is over, once the capitalist and his allies have given up any serious attempt to reestablish capitalism, then away with dictatorship; away with compulsion.

Compulsion of any kind is repugnant to the Communist ideal. No-one may make a wage-slave of another; no-one may hoard up goods for himself that he does not require and cannot use; but the only way to prevent such practices is not by making them punishable; it is by creating a society in which no-one needs to become a wage slave, and no-one cares to be cumbered with a private hoard of goods when all that he needs is readily supplied as he needs it from the common storehouse.

Compulsory education for children has been a protection for children in this capitalist society when parents are poor and grasping enough to desire the earnings of their children or to suffer from the burden of their maintenance, but when all things that nature and mankind produce are free in abundance for the asking what parents would deny education to their children; what children would submit with the school-door freely open?

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March 04, 2021 16:28:04 :
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