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The Question of Equality
Equality is the fundamental demand of the rebellion of the poor: it should be the ideological force behind the new society. How this egalitarian demand is understood is crucial to the distinction between the Democratic Revolution and the Marxist-Jacobin Revolution.
The Marxist answer to the egalitarian demand is the dictatorship of the proletariat, which Maurice Duverger shrewdly describes as an accurate continuation of the Jacobin theory of terror:
". . .Man is born but capitalism corrupts him: In order to destroy the system of oppression, exploitation and alienation development by capitalism, violence must be used. Violence against the state, in the first palace, so long as it is in the hands of the exploiting classes: This means revolution. Next, when the working class has taken power, the force of the state is directed against the exploiters and used to destroy every trace of exploitation: this stage is the dictatorship of the proletariat."
In a society such as ours, in which the rich are too few and the poor too many, the Marxist-Jacobinist approach has a ringing appeal. With the term proletariat, one simply substitutes the poor. By "expropriating the expropriators," or eradicating the rich, equality is achieved with one bold stroke.
The trouble with this formulation, however, is that the dictator-proletariat is itself dictated upon by an all-powerful Party, while even among the poor there is a hierarchy of classes, beginning with the "advanced" proletariat, followed by the peasantry, the intellectuals and the petite bourgeoise. Moreover, there is a contemptible class, the lumpenproletariat, a term reserved for "the scum of the earth."
Stated, therefore, in Marxist-Jacobinist terms, the rebellion of the poor is self-contradictory: it is unable to approximate the egalitarian idea.
The reason for this lies in the heart of Marxism itself equality is exclusively regarded as a relation between social classes, hence, the solution to bourgeoise domination is proletarian dictatorship. In sum, while the domination is proletarian dictatorship. In sum, while the domination of one class is oppressive, the domination of another is not. But the egalitarian principle states that all men are equal, however their class, color, or creed; it is thus a condition of each and every individual in society. A man is not just a worker, a farmer, a teacher, or a capitalist: he deserves to be treated justly and equally as the rest not because of these social functions but because and simply because he is an individual human being. But the Marxist-Jacobinist equality depends on class, on status, which is contrary to the human concept of equality. It is for the reason that man in a totalitarian state is defined arbitrarily and persecuted arbitrarily by assigning him to a social class.
How could this logical practical contradiction gain so much power and appeal? Partly because of coercion and pertly because of the fascistic tendencies of capitalism in underdeveloped societies. Communism was the only honest alternative in Tsarist Russia and feudal-warlord-colonial China. The democratic revolutionaries in these countries were neither sufficient nor strong enough; there was no sense of democratic revolution.
Democratic institutions, no matter how weak or corrupted by the social system, are a pre-condition for a democratic revolution, or what is called, "revolution from the center." Its central problem, like that of the rebellion of the poor, is equality. Equality, moreover, that is necessary initiated in the political realm.
Obviously, then, the fundamental task of drastic political reform it to democratize the entire political system. The high cost of election, for example, works against the egalitarian principle, for the rich man or the instrument of the oligarchic rich, have an edge against the poor. The literacy test discriminates against the illiterate, who, in the present-day state of mass communications, need not necessarily be less qualified than the literate. The minimum voting age is 21 discriminates against the 18-years olds, who are considered old enough to fight and die for their country. The oligarchic clutch on the political authority makes democratic rights the exclusive benefits of a controlling class.
The Marxist-Jacobinist claims that political reconstruction is impossible without social revolution. On the contrary, political reconstruction can change society, as we are now changing society through a reorientation of our political authority.
Political structure forms is by no means minor: it is, in the context of our experience, quite revolutionary. The
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Socialism, Communism, Economic ideologies, Political ideologies, Marxism, Dictatorship of the proletariat, Proletariat, Democracy, Ideology of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union
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