• The Left Chapter

Daily LIFT #269

Lenin: Marxism on the State, cover, 1972 edition, USSR -- Daily LIFT #269

""One thing especially was proved by the Commune, that 'the working class cannot simply lay hold of the ready-made state machinery, and wield it for its own purposes' " (The Civil War in France, p. 19). This passage, taken by itself, is unclear; it leaves a kind of loophole for opportunism by providing, at first glance, the possibility of interpreting it in the sense that the "ready-made" "state machinery" cannot "simply" be "laid hold of", which means... that no revolutions are needed, one must be cautious with them, and more attention should be paid to the idea, not of the seizure of power but of slow development, the growing into, and so on and so forth...Bernstein quotes this passage three times in a single book of his!!

This interpretation...is utterly wrong. Actually Marx has in mind quite the reverse: the revolution of the proletariat cannot "simply" lay hold of the "ready-made" state machinery; the revolution must smash it, this ready-made machinery, and replace it with a new one."