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/marx/ - Marxism

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I know that this term is pretty central to Marxism and has been in use for over a century now, but does anyone else think that the use of the term DOTP is counterproductive, especially in less class-conscious countries such as the United States? Thinking back to my ignorant conceptions of Marxism before I actually dove into theory, the concept of the DOTP in my mind instantly evoked thoughts of anti-communist propaganda (totalitarian states, mass-killings, etc). Surely my own preconceived notions of the DOTP are not unique to myself and are more common in those ignorant of what Marxism really is at large. Wouldn't a term such as "proletarian democracy" or "worker's democracy" have better results and not have people's brains shut off as soon as they hear dictatorship? I'm not suggesting that the term DOTP is even inaccurate, it obviously means to anyone familiar with Marxism the proletariat organized as the ruling class and not some sort of quasi-fascist totalitarian state like Americans seem to conceive of it as. Thoughts? Are there any benefits of using one term over another when debating or trying to convince people in real life?

Only posting this here because I assume I would get higher quality responses / serious answers


It's an important concept to get across, but I don't know of anyone who interacts with non-communists and uses the term without clarifying what is meant. You're much more likely to hear people speak of proletarian democracy when talking to people about what communists want rather than proletarian dictatorship.

The thing is, both terms are inseparably linked in the context of the state. Every capitalist state is simultaneously a bourgeois democracy and a bourgeois dictatorship. The latter refers to the monopoly on force that the capitalist state has (and agencies such as the police, army, FBI and CIA), and which it employs when it feels sufficiently threatened by rival classes. Hence why it's necessary to explain it to people.


"Proletarian Democracy" Generally is better for optics because the Second the D word drops from the belt your average brainwashed Proles mind goes into lockdown



Exactly, that's the main reason I thought about making this post. As long as the substance of the message is maintained and the term isn't diluted I see no problem of using a term such as "proletarian democracy" in place of the DOTP. This said, the term does have some use as Ismail >>8894 says. For purposes of initially raising consciousness, it's not a good term though we should not discard it completely since it is not inaccurate that we strive for a proletarian dictatorship, a term which, at first sight, is slightly misleading


I agree with this.

You could think of all kinds of names that would sound better today. Even something like "transition period" is basically enough so long as you understand that you're transitioning to socialism.



Either that or we could go back to referring merely to the "lower phase of communism" and the "upper phase of communism". I don't have too much experience arguing these topics in real life, but when I do I generally try to avoid the more mystifying terms of Marxism such as "proletariat" even for more readily understandable words like workers or wage-laborers. Using more common words to discuss Marxism when trying to persuade someone is, in my opinion, more productive than babbling on in arcane-sounding terms such as "dictatorship of the proletariat", "proletariat", etc. If one uses more common terms which are still correct in meaning, it makes discussion and persuasion much more fruitful and likely leads to less misunderstandings and assumptions. Of course, like I've said in other posts ITT, the terms are not inherently bad and people will continue to encounter them if they decide to read any Marxist literature. What I'm discussing is what terminology we should use in debate, how a party or organization should speak to the public, etc.



>You could think of all kinds of names that would sound better today. Even something like "transition period" is basically enough so long as you understand that you're transitioning to socialism.

Yeah but you will have to address the subject of the DOTP sooner or later, and it's good to just explain it as early as possible since it's a major part of the Marxist analysis of the state. "Transition period" and "the lower phase of communism" are their own separate (albeit interconnected) subjects.

I'm reminded of a book on the founding of the first Marxist party in the United States (in 1876):

>There were several proposals concerning a correct name for the new organization. Thus the world "socialist" in the name was objected to on the ground that it would frighten English-speaking workers; instead, either "United Workers of North America" or "Farmers and Workingmen's Party" was suggested. However, one commentator observed shrewdly: "In any case, we will be called communists regardless of what name we adopt." This proved to be an accurate prediction.

When you don't want to use certain concepts because they might scare away workers, you either end up lying to them (whereas Marx and Engels wrote that "Communists disdain to conceal their views and aims") or end up embracing opportunism.

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>When you don't want to use certain concepts because they might scare away workers, you either end up lying to them (whereas Marx and Engels wrote that "Communists disdain to conceal their views and aims") or end up embracing opportunism.

You’re 100% correct, but it’s not a concealment of being a Communist or a Marxist – there’s obviously no shame in either – it’s just a question of what terminology is the most effective and productive for trying to convey our views. A proletarian democracy and the dictatorship of the proletariat are synonymous in every way. How do you usually introduce the concept to lay-people? I would guess most people would first go about defining the state as an instrument of class-rule and how the current state is thus an instrument of bourgeois class-rule for the current conditions and how this state must forcibly be replaced with a proletarian democracy – the dictatorship of the proletariat (perhaps introducing the terms simultaneously) – which will slowly wither away after the revolution.




I just say that the state is an instrument of rule by a certain class. There may be democracy under capitalism, but it is inherently limited and whatever broadening of it occurs is due to struggles by working people, not by the good-heartedness of the capitalists. And at the end of the day, when capitalists feel threatened, they will use the state to carry out repression against the people.

The workers' state also has to have repressive functions to put down attempts at counter-revolution by overthrown classes and foreign imperialists. On the other hand, proletarian democracy is (as Lenin put it) "a million times more democratic than the most democratic bourgeois republic," because it is democracy based upon the vast majority of the population.

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Sorry just talking from my impression here, what is the difference between DOTP and acient Sparta? Besides which social class rules, they have very similar social structure. On the other hand, should DOTP take the blame of failure in real-existed socialism states? The failure of a state could be many reasons, probably more economical and military. I don't see acient Athens' downfall being blamed as "failure of democracy", or the decline of Netherlands Republic as "failure of capitalism"



>Sorry just talking from my impression here, what is the difference between DOTP and acient Sparta? Besides which social class rules, they have very similar social structure.

I don't see the similarities.



My question to you is where do you even see any similarities between Sparta and what Marxists call the DOTP. When I think of ancient Sparta the first thing I think about is the Helot-system, the Helots being those who the Spartans conquered and enslaved to exploit economically and greatly outnumbered the Spartans. These people and the conquered who were not slaves (perioikoi) "those who live round about" still lacked Spartan citizen rights. These Helots were essentially serfs and were defined by ancient commentators as being somewhere "between slave and free" and were collectively owned by Sparta, who annually declared a state of war on the Helots and were legally sanctioned to murder them without fear of reprisal. Not to mention things like Krypteia (more small-scale killings). This forced labor is what allowed the Spartiates to have their peculiar social organization. Now on the topic of the Spartan state, there were the two kings and the council of elders which formulated proposals for all adult male Spartan citizens to vote on. Five overseers (ephors) were elected each year by the adult Spartan males, counterbalancing the power of the oligarchic council and the kings and endowed with extensive judicial powers and punishment. Let's also remember that in Hitler's Zweites Buch Hitler praises Sparta as the first "racial state" for it's infanticide of the deformed and unwanted

I'd be curious to know how, in any way, an ancient Greek slave-society ruled by a council of geriatric oligarchs and two kings with a democratic element shoehorned in is similar in social structure to the proletariat organized as the ruling class in society. On a side-note, it would be very interesting to see a Marxist analysis of class-struggle in Sparta.


Slavery in Ancient Greece by N.R.E. Fisher

Ancient Greece From Prehistoric to Hellenistic Times by Thomas R. Martin



The similarity of social structure you perceived, is due to the "transitional nature" of ancient society and modern socialist society:

Primitive Commune -> Ancient City State -> Medieval Kingdom

Capitalist Nation State -> Socialist Union -> World Communism

In the example of ancient Sparta, it is the dictatorship of free citizens over the slaves. However, because of just advancing from primitive commune era, the political structure of Sparta retained many remnants of "communist past", hence the similarity you perceived.

But one must also notice that the essence of USSR and ancient Sparta were totally different, because USSR general direction was to become more communistic, but Sparta general direction was to become more individualistic, despite the effort of ancient tribal nobility class to keep the superstructure of ancient commune. Plato's Republic was a clear example of this line of struggle, that keeping the "good" superstructure of ancient commune, but with the "benefit" of new economic relation (exploitation of slaves). Needless to say, his ideas was utopian.


if you don't use the term 'dictatorship of the proletariat' because lumpenproletariat will tune you out, you probably don't call yourself a communist either



One term has an almost exclusively negative connotation outside of Marxist circles, the other (depending on where one lives) has a more mixed connotation ranging from neutral to negative. While the term "dictatorship of the proletariat" can be misleading if not properly qualified, it is generally more clear what a communist is, leaving cases of those who think communism means a totalitarian state where no one can own even their own toothbrush and everybody lives off welfare aside. But at the end of the day, my position is and always will be that it is the substance of scientific socialism that matters more than what exactly we call ourselves. I would personally identify myself as a communist or socialist if asked, but there would be nothing wrong, per se, if I called myself something different yet synonymous that would potentially be more clear, not that I can think of a better term than communist or socialist.

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