The question of the dictatorship of the proletariat is the fundamental question of the modern working-class movement in all capitalist countries without exception… Whoever has failed to understand that dictatorship is essential to the victory of any revolutionary class has no understanding of the history of revolutions, or else does not want to know anything in this field.
– Lenin, “A Contribution to the History of the Question of the Dictatorship”, 20 October 1920
The concept of the “dictatorship of the proletariat” is not common in the day-to-day lexicon of Marxists. The word “dictatorship”, combined with popular associations of socialism with Stalin, Mao and other dictators, has led modern socialists to sensibly emphasise that the society they stand for would extend, and not curtail, democracy. Nonetheless, the dictatorship of the proletariat remains of central concern for revolutionary socialists as the form of a post-revolutionary workers’ state. In fact, attachment to the concept marks out genuine Marxists from both reformists, who oppose the overthrow of the capitalist state in a workers’ revolution, and Stalinists, who identify their own models as multi-class “people’s democracies”.
Of modern Marxist examinations of the concept, Hal Draper’s treatment stands out. Draper dedicated an entire volume of his five-volume Karl Marx’s Theory of Revolution (KMTR) to a detailed enquiry into the context of the usage of the word “dictatorship” in Marx’s day, as well as an examination of the context and significance of every time he and Frederick Engels used the phrase “dictatorship of the proletariat”. Draper’s conclusion following this exhaustive review was simple – Marx and Engels used the phrase “dictatorship of the proletariat” to mean nothing more or less than a workers’ state that must be established following a working-class revolution.
The term had no particularly “dictatorial” or “suppressive” meaning according to Draper, and was mostly used as a way to counter popular support among revolutionary socialists in their time for an “educational dictatorship” of the consciously revolutionary minority. These socialists, most significantly adherents of the French socialist Blanqui, believed in a transitional period to communism where a dictatorship of the elect would remake society on behalf of the masses, who required a period of education and re-socialisation before being fit to rule themselves. Marx and Engels encouraged socialists to instead support a dictatorship of an entire class – the working class – as part of “the self-conscious, independent movement of the immense majority, in the interest of the immense majority” as the only way to lay the basis for the dissolution of classes altogether.
As well as this better-known work of Draper’s, he produced a detour from KMTR in the form of a survey of the phrase “dictatorship of the proletariat”. The “Dictatorship of the Proletariat” from Marx to Lenin both summarised Draper’s findings from KMTR Volume 3 and discussed the subsequent evolution of the phrase by Marxists during the second international, among the Russian social democrats and Lenin in particular. Draper also devotes a chapter to the “International Debate on Dictatorship”, which discusses the views of Rosa Luxemburg, the left-wing of the Independent Social-Democratic Party of Germany (USPD), Kautsky and leading Bolsheviks besides Lenin on the subject. In this work Draper concludes that, with the exception of Luxemburg and the left wing of the USPD in Germany, Marx’s successors tended to transform the meaning of the “dictatorship of the proletariat” away from being a synonym of a workers’ state to refer “to specific governmental forms and policies – ‘dictatorial’ ones”. This process started under the Second International (formed in 1889), and according to Draper, by 1900, five years since the death of Engels, “there was not one person using the word ‘dictatorship’ in any combination who showed awareness of the term’s recent past, who even suspected that Marx had used ‘dictatorship’ with a meaning no longer current” [emphasis in original]. In Draper’s account, this “dictatorial” understanding of proletarian dictatorship was subsequently taken up by Lenin and the Third International, justifying authoritarian practices in the Russian Revolution which helped pave the way for Stalin’s counter-revolutionary regime.
This article is primarily concerned to defend Lenin and the early Third International’s conception of the “dictatorship of the proletariat” against Draper’s critique. Contrary to Draper’s perspective, Lenin and the early Comintern substantially built upon Marx and Engels’ own concepts, imbuing them with new life and clarity out of the experience of the international revolutionary wave of 1917–23. The article will focus on three substantive topics in reply to Draper’s work: the nature of dictatorship and the “dictatorship of the proletariat” as Marx understood it, Lenin’s theoretical contribution to an understanding of the issue flowing from his experience of the 1905 and 1917 revolutions, and the debate around the concept in the international socialist movement in the post-1917 period.
In both Volume 3 of KMTR and his summary of Marx and Engels’ view on the “dictatorship of the proletariat” in From Marx to Lenin, Draper outlines that the concept was a synonym for the workers’ state. For Draper this did not imply any particular “dictatorial” elements of that state, rather, a workers’ state would entail a massive expansion of democracy. This conclusion however is at odds with the evidence Draper presents and flies in the face of Marx and Engels’ understanding of the state in class society.
As Draper points out, the word “dictatorship” around the middle of the nineteenth century meant something quite different from its modern usage as supreme power in the hands of an individual or small clique. This was the time when Marx first used the phrase “dictatorship of the proletariat”, in the aftermath of the European revolutions and civil wars of 1848. The context for the usage of the word was its Roman origins, and its revival during the French Revolution of 1789–95, which borrowed freely from the classical period for its symbols and significance. The ancient Roman institution of dictatorship which operated from 501 until 44 BCE, says Draper, is more comparable in the modern world with a period of martial law or emergency powers, than the concept of autocracy. This is because the dictatorship was a provision of the Roman Republic’s constitution intended to defend the legal framework of the state, not to usurp it. It involved a single man, the dictator, assuming emergency powers at the behest of the Roman authorities for a limited period, usually just six months. The Roman dictator wielded greater powers than any other Roman magistrate, but his power was nonetheless limited.
However, while referencing the ancient institution, the usage of “dictatorship” in the French Revolution was not entirely in keeping with its classical meaning. The term was often used as a term of abuse, possibly in reference to the manner that Julius Caesar ultimately transformed the office into an autocracy, as echoed by the titles of many subsequent kings and emperors (Caesar, Tsar, Kaiser, Kaysar). “Dictatorship” in this period, though not losing entirely the meaning of an individual wielding supreme power, was also used to refer to the forceful rule of any group over another. The term dictatorship was applied, usually by the republican right (Girondins) to refer to the rule of the National Convention (ie the elected parliament), the “multitude”, the Paris local government (the commune), and the Jacobins. Jean-Paul Marat was the only leading figure in the French Revolution who actually advocated for any kind of dictatorship, in the sense of the granting of emergency powers to an individual or small group, as a temporary measure to crush counter-revolutionary conspiracy. Thus by the period of the 1848 revolutions and Marx’s day, while the concept of dictatorship was not cognate with its modern connotation, it was a little more rubbery than a straight-up description of the ancient Roman institution. Generally, it was used to refer to any kind of forceful authority, particularly one which acted beyond the existing laws.
Draper tracks in KMTR Volume 3, chapters 3 and 4, the essential usage of “dictatorship” in this way in the mid-nineteenth century. That it was not necessarily associated with the rule of a single person is shown by the conservative fear of the time of the dictatorship of the people, referring to moves to introduce universal suffrage in numerous countries at the time. The speech of the reactionary Spanish politician, Juan Donoso Cortés, delivered on 4 January 1849, sums it up quite well:
It is a question of choosing from the dictatorship from below or the dictatorship from above: I choose the dictatorship from above, since it comes from a purer and loftier realm. It is a question of choosing, finally, between the dictatorship of the dagger and the dictatorship of the sabre: I choose the sabre, because it is nobler.
It was with this contemporary usage in mind that Marx and Engels advocated for a revolutionary dictatorship, as partisans of the radical left during the revolution in Germany. At this time, Marx and Engels saw themselves as the radical left wing of “the Democracy”, a coalition of proletarians, peasants and small-craftsmen, which would push for the most radical revolutionary reforms possible within the bounds of the “bourgeois revolution” which they believed was all that was possible at the time. In this vein, they criticised Camphausen, the prime minister of Prussia, whose appointment arose from the revolutionary movement of March 1848, with shrinking away from “dictatorial measures”. This was not something Marx pulled out of thin air, but reflected the manner in which liberal politicians such as Camphausen counterposed a concern with legality and acting within the existing order to “dictatorship”, which is to say, wielding power outside of the constraints of the existing legal framework. This was not a case of a minority seizing power, but of the first democratically elected parliament in Germany (the Frankfurt Assembly), carrying out a program of democratisation irrespective of the letter of the existing law. Draper quotes Marx in his articles from the Neue Rheinische Zeitung, making it abundantly clear that “dictatorship” meant the democratically elected parliament acting outside of the bounds of the law, in a revolutionary way:
The [National] Assembly in Frankfurt is doing parliamentary school exercises and lets the governments [of the German states] do the acting. Granted that this learned council succeeds after the mature deliberation in working out the best agenda and the best constitution: what is the use of the best agenda and the best constitution if the governments meanwhile have placed bayonets on the agenda?
Instead of wasting time on febrile debates the National Assembly had to take “dictatorial” action:
It only needed to dictatorially oppose the reactionary encroachments of the outlived governments and it would have won over the power of public opinion against which all bayonets and rifle butts would have shattered.
Not only was it a case that this revolution required a dictatorship, ie a revolutionary power unafraid to act in a revolutionary way, but Marx went on to say that:
Every provisional state set up after a revolution requires a dictatorship, and an energetic dictatorship at that. From the beginning we taxed Camphausen with not acting dictatorially, with not immediately smashing and eliminating the remnants of the old institutions. So while Herr Camphausen lulled himself with constitutional dreams, the defeated party strengthened its positions in the bureaucracy and the army – indeed here and there even ventured on open struggle.
Every provisional state set up after a revolution requires a dictatorship, says Marx. Why? Because only a dictatorial state that is not “lulled with constitutional dreams” will not shy away from “smashing and eliminating the remnants of the old institutions”. The tragedy in the case of Germany in 1848 was that the bourgeoisie “leading” the revolution were more afraid of the incipient workers’ movement and shrank from these necessary measures, allowing the aristocratic states to regain the initiative and crush the movement.
Dictatorship, for Marx and Engels, then, was clearly not just a word synonymous with “rule”, and nor does the evidence that Draper presents on its general usage at the time illustrate that. While we can agree with Draper that the dictatorship of the proletariat in Marx and Engels’ view was synonymous with a workers’ state, Marx and Engels understood the state to exist for the purposes of forceful suppression of the oppressed classes. This was famously drawn out by the pair in the Critique of the Gotha Program, written in 1875 as a critique of the proposed program of the newly formed German Social Democratic Party (SPD). Says Engels:
[S]ince the state is merely a transitional institution of which use is made in the struggle, in the revolution, to keep down one’s enemies by force, it is utter nonsense to speak of a free people’s state; so long as the proletariat still makes use of the state, it makes use of it, not for the purpose of freedom, but of keeping down its enemies and, as soon as there can be any question of freedom, the state as such ceases to exist.
In this same critique Marx declared that “between capitalist and communist society there lies the period of the revolutionary transformation of the one into the other…in which the state can be nothing but the revolutionary dictatorship of the proletariat”. [emphasis in original]
Summing up Marx and Engels’ views, a revolutionary state needed to be a “dictatorship” of the working class directed against its oppressors, and which was not afraid to behave in a revolutionary way, to “smash and eliminate” the old institutions.
Draper’s review of Lenin’s thought on the dictatorship of the proletariat and revolutionary dictatorship generally is remarkably hostile. Draper credits Lenin with “[inventing] a unique definition of dictatorship, which as far as I know, came out of his own head”, whereas the evidence he presents shows that Lenin was very aware of Marx and Engels’ writings on the subject. As Draper shows, Lenin began to develop his understanding of dictatorship during and following the 1905 revolution in the Russian empire. At this time Lenin held to the view that a successful revolution should result in the establishment of the “democratic dictatorship” of the workers and peasants, and not a dictatorship of the proletariat. This related to the view, held almost universally by Russian Marxists until 1917, that Russia’s largely feudal society restrained the possibilities of revolutionary outcomes to the setting up of a bourgeois republic rather than the establishment of socialism. Lenin’s discussion of dictatorship in this period relates to his view of the democratic dictatorship and “dictatorship” generally, rather than the dictatorship of the proletariat specifically. Nonetheless, there are useful points to draw out.
In his 1906 pamphlet The Victory of the Cadets and the Tasks of the Workers’ Party, produced originally as a document for a conference of the Bolsheviks, Lenin outlined in some detail a definition of revolutionary dictatorship. This pamphlet was significant in that Lenin reproduced much of the section on dictatorship in 1920 for an article entitled “A Contribution to the History of the Question of the Dictatorship”, where he said that the question of revolutionary dictatorship was “essential to the victory of any revolutionary class”.
Lenin argued that there were three constituent elements of the “dictatorship of the revolutionary elements of the people” which had burst forth in the “revolutionary whirlwind” of 1905. These were:
(1) the seizure by the people of political liberty – its exercise without any rights and laws, and without any limitations (freedom of assembly, even if only in the universities, freedom of the press, freedom of association, the holding of congresses, etc.); (2) the creation of new organs of revolutionary authority – Soviets of Workers’, Soldiers’, Railwaymen’s and Peasants’ Deputies… [thirdly]; the use by the people of force against those who used force against the people. [emphases in original]
Draper highlights Lenin’s condensed definition of dictatorship in the following paragraph: “Authority, unlimited, outside the law, and based on force in the most direct sense of the word – is dictatorship”. He rails against this view of Lenin’s, labelling it a “theoretical disaster, first class”. Draper concedes that this situation might describe the brief period of “pitched battle” before workers can establish their own state, but that
victory in the battle means that workers’ state begins to operate. It must, to be sure, defend itself, suppress counterrevolution, recast the old state institutions, etc… Without any laws whatever? Without rules? Without standards? On the contrary, its operation means that it establishes its own new, class-oriented laws… according to Lenin’s definition, as soon as it does so, the “dictatorship” ceases; according to everyone else, the new workers’ state begins.
Did Lenin really mean that dictatorship meant that a workers’ state would have no laws whatsoever? It seems bizarre that Draper would advance this critique, since he was aware of Marx and Engels’ similar arguments in favour of drastic action against counter-revolutionaries. This is clearly what Lenin himself had in mind, rather than an adolescent scream against all rules. In order to make his point, Lenin draws a simple analogy:
Let us suppose that Avramov is injuring and torturing Spiridonova. On Spiridonova’s side, let us say, are tens and hundreds of unarmed people. On Avramov’s side there is a handful of Cossacks. What would the people do if Spiridonova were being tortured, not in a dungeon, but in public? They would resort to force against Avramov and his body-guard…they would forcibly disarm Avramov and his Cossacks, and in all probability would kill on the spot some of these brutes in human form; and they would clap the rest into some gaol to prevent them from committing any more outrages and to bring them to judgement before the people.
This analogy provides a small example of “the dictatorship of the people, because the people, the mass of the population, unorganised, ‘casually’ assembled at the given spot, itself appears on the scene, exercises justice and metes out justice, exercises power and creates a new, revolutionary law”. Lenin is for “new, revolutionary law” created by the insurgent people. What he labels “dictatorship” is the way this new law and new authority overthrows the existing law and existing authority of the “military and police dictatorship”. This is made clear when he discusses the theoretical opposition to the people’s “dictatorial” behaviour by a liberal, who is likely to “be opposed to rescuing Spiridonova from Avramov by force, thinking it to be against the ‘law’. They would no doubt ask: Is there a ‘law’ that permits the killing of Avramov? Have not some philistine ideologists built up a theory of non-resistance to evil?”
Draper himself seems to be quite close to this view, asking “why a lynch mob is not also a ‘dictatorship of the people’?” He could have asked the same of the murderous pogroms instigated by reactionary mobs and government agents in Russia at this time. Lenin himself makes it very clear what the difference in content is, in a lengthy but fruitful passage:
The [organs of the tsarist state] were the instruments of the rule of the minority over the people, over the masses of workers and peasants. The [soviet] was an instrument of the rule of the people, of the workers and peasants, over the minority, over a handful of police bullies, over a handful of privileged nobles and government officials. Such is the difference between dictatorship over the people and dictatorship of the revolutionary people: mark this well… As the dictatorship of a minority, the old regime was able to maintain itself solely with the aid of police devices, solely by preventing the masses of the people from taking part in the government and from supervising the government. The old authority persistently distrusted the masses, feared the light, maintained itself by deception. As the dictatorship of the overwhelming majority, the new authority maintained itself and could maintain itself solely because it enjoyed the confidence of the vast masses, solely because it, in the freest, widest and most resolute manner, enlisted all the masses in the task of government. It concealed nothing, it had no secrets, no regulations, no formalities.
This underappreciated work illuminates many of the themes Lenin would return to with greater clarity in State and Revolution. The dictatorship of the majority relied not on “the force of bayonets…not the power of the ‘police force’, nor the power of money” but upon the “confidence of the vast masses”. Nonetheless it was a “dictatorship” because it rested upon force against the old authorities. Force was necessary, even for the vast majority, because “the new authority does not drop from the skies, but grows up, arises parallel with, and in opposition to, the old authority, in struggle against it. Unless force is used against tyrants armed with the weapons and instruments of power, the people cannot be liberated from tyrants”. The significance of understanding “dictatorship” as authority recognising no laws and based on force was that it was a revolutionary authority directed against the existing laws and for the use of force by the oppressed classes against the oppressors.
Draper advances one final argument against the “authoritarianism” of Lenin, alleging that Lenin was for a Blanquist-style, minority dictatorship. This is based on a reading of the section of The Victory of the Cadets and the Tasks of the Workers’ Party where Lenin says that the revolutionary dictatorship is administered by the “revolutionary people” and not the whole people. Lenin says this is so because “among the whole people…there are some who are physically cowed and terrified; there are some who are morally degraded by the ‘resist not evil’ theory, for example, or simply degraded not by theory, but by prejudice, habit, routine”. Nonetheless, the revolutionary people “do not shun the whole people, [but] explain to all the people the motive of their actions in all their details, and…willingly enlist the whole people not only in ‘administering’ the state, but in governing it too”.
Draper describes this as “the transmogrification of the class dictatorship into a party dictatorship…exactly what the traditional ‘revolutionary dictatorship’ had meant before Marx”. But where does Lenin say that this is a minority dictatorship or a dictatorship of the “elect”? As we have seen, he said multiple times in the same publication that he was describing the “dictatorship of the overwhelming majority”. In his later works, such as State and Revolution, he talks about the workers’ state in the same manner. Draper is here misunderstanding the fact of uneven and contradictory consciousness among the workers which means that not all workers will agree with the establishment of the proletarian dictatorship, even after the revolution. Nonetheless, it is glaringly apparent from Lenin’s statements during 1917 that a workers’ revolution could only be made once a majority of workers had been won to the necessity of it. This was repeated by Lenin in the first theses passed at the inaugural congress of the Communist International in March 1919, which declared that “winning a communist majority in the soviets is the principal task in all countries”.
Draper struggles to paint Lenin as “dictatorial” even to the extent of disagreeing with Marx. Lenin’s 1905 work, Two Tactics of Social Democracy in the Democratic Revolution, references Franz Mehring’s 1902 book on Marx which cites quotes on “dictatorship” from the Neue Rheinische Zeitung in 1848. Lenin says that only “from the vulgar bourgeois standpoint are the terms dictatorship and democracy mutually exclusive”. Quoting Marx’s views, reviewed above, Lenin boils down “dictatorship” to: “destroy[ing] the remnants of the old institutions… lastly, it follows from these words that Marx castigated bourgeois democrats for entertaining ‘constitutional illusions’ in a period of revolution and open civil war”. Responding to this, Draper says: “But what is ‘dictatorial’ about that, given a democratically based revolution?” What indeed! Draper seems to have fallen prey to his own terminological trap and wants to paint Lenin quoting Marx almost verbatim as devilish heresy.
Lenin was clearly well aware of Marx’s writings on “dictatorship” and did his best to apply them to the revolutionary situation Russia was living through. His writings, far from contradicting the founders of Marxism, further flesh out the meaning of “revolutionary dictatorship” in light of the experience provided by the 1905 revolution. This emphasised that dictatorship implied the use of force by the revolutionary class against its oppressors and was revolutionary in that it ignored the existing laws and erected its own authority in their stead.
Draper’s book deals with Comintern debates on this issue in quite an unsatisfactory way. Though he repeatedly says that the concept of the dictatorship of the proletariat was a centrepiece of the early Comintern, he barely references what early Comintern publications said on the question. Instead he focuses most on the debate between Kautsky and the Bolsheviks on the issue. Nonetheless, this is a welcome topic of discussion that has not received the attention it deserves. But Draper fails to substantially grasp the issues at stake.
A reading of Kautsky’s first two books to critique the Russian Revolution and the Bolsheviks is a fruitful endeavour for Marxists, providing further useful context to Lenin’s State and Revolution and The Proletarian Revolution and the Renegade Kautsky. Kautsky wrote The Dictatorship of the Proletariat in August 1918 and followed it up with Terrorism and Communism in June 1919. Draper correctly identifies major weaknesses of Kautsky’s critique as being his identification of parliamentary democracy in a capitalist society as pure, or abstract democracy, and his inability to perceive the Russian Revolution in its international context. Unfortunately, Draper does not grasp the significance of Kautsky’s critique of “dictatorship”, which he attacks as the essential element of Bolshevism.
In his earliest anti-Bolshevik work, Kautsky attempted to draw a sharp demarcation between the dictatorship of the proletariat as a “political condition” and “a form of government”, arguing that Marx only supported the former, and not the latter. There are two problems with this half-truth from Kautsky. Marx did not conceive of the dictatorship of the proletariat as a form of government because he believed it to be the necessary form of a workers’ state. Kautsky does not want to use the phrase “workers’ state”, which would open up the question of smashing the capitalist state. This is an example of how Kautsky blurs the lines between different forms of state, as Draper usefully points out.
But Draper misses the significance of Kautsky’s rejection of “dictatorial” methods. “Dictatorship [says Kautsky]…means disarming the opposition, by taking from them the franchise, and liberty of the press and combination.” Kautsky rejects dictatorship as the road for socialists either in the situation where “capitalists and their supporters are an insignificant handful” or where they represent a great mass “in a parliament elected on the basis of universal suffrage”. In contrast, he argued for socialists to fight on the terrain of democracy, which meant not just rule by the majority, but importantly, “protection of minorities”, ie the bourgeoisie. Kautsky renounced the idea of violent revolution, arguing that civil war, which was another consequence of dictatorship, was a barrier to the creation of socialism. Instead he argued that socialism would come about by workers’ parties attaining a majority in conditions of universal suffrage in a parliamentary democracy.
Draper seems to misunderstand Lenin’s critique of this central element of Kautsky’s argument. All Draper says of Lenin’s The Proletarian Revolution and the Renegade Kautsky is that Lenin “implicitly repudiates” Kautsky’s support for “majority revolution” by saying that “a dictatorship is needed in order to suppress the bourgeois resistance”. All quotations are Draper’s words, not Lenin’s. As we have seen, Kautsky did not support “majority revolution” at all.
Draper is also wrong to argue that Lenin opposed majority revolution, even implicitly. This can be easily disproved due to Lenin being so forthright and clear in his argumentation. Against Kautsky’s argument that “the majority” should not have to use “dictatorship” against the capitalists, Lenin lays it out clearly:
To assume in a revolution that is at all profound and serious the issue is decided simply by the relation of the majority and the minority…is the deception of the masses, concealing from them a well-established historical truth. This historical truth is that in every profound revolution, the prolonged, stubborn, desperate resistance of the exploiters, who for a number of years enjoy important practical advantages over the exploited, is the rule. Never, except in the sentimental fantasies of the sentimental simpleton Kautsky, will the exploiters submit to the decision of the exploited majority without making use of their advantages in a last desperate battle, or a series of battles.
Polish revolutionary Karl Radek in Proletarian Dictatorship and Terrorism (1920) similarly challenged a formalistic obsession with majorities. Radek does not disavow the concept of “majority revolution”, but says that pegging the workers’ revolution to the “mathematically established” support of the majority of the population is folly, because the capitalists will “suppress the workers’ press, dissolve the workers’ organisations and attempt to provoke the proletariat into premature outbreaks”. In these circumstances “it will scarcely be possible to ascertain, by any kind of elections, which side has the majority”.
This might offend the sensibilities of those who would prefer a pure and orderly revolution, but it is backed up by historical experience. The Finnish Social Democratic Party had just lost its majority in the parliament to the bourgeois parties in fresh elections in November 1917 when it led a (failed) revolutionary general strike. Only a soulless pedant would say that the Finnish workers, because their party had only achieved 45 percent of the popular vote, should have laid down in the snow and accepted the repression being prepared against them without rising in revolt in January 1918. In July 1936, when the Spanish workers defeated the fascist military coup across the majority of Spain, there was no way to test if the workers’ organisations had clear majority support. Indeed, the Popular Front, which was made up primarily of bourgeois liberals, had only won 47 percent of the vote in January, as against 46.5 percent for avowed reactionaries. Yet revolutionaries, including Draper himself, have always insisted that workers should have gone even further in the social revolution already taking place to defeat fascism. In Chile, Salvador Allende’s party only won a maximum of 42 percent of the popular vote during his presidency, but efforts by workers to defend his government and their own organisations from being violently overthrown by the military were far from “Blanquism”.
What Draper seems unable to grasp is the central theoretical disagreement at the heart of Kautksy’s polemic, which rejected “dictatorship” – as in the revolutionary seizure of power by the workers regardless of whether they were the majority of the population or not. Lenin was at pains in The Proletarian Revolution to stress that the question of “dictatorship” was about the necessity of establishing a workers’ state, with all that entails. The form of the workers’ state and how suppressive it would be forced to be in each country was a “specifically national question”. This included whether or not the bourgeoisie would be actively disenfranchised, as had occurred in Russia. The only “necessary condition of dictatorship” was “the forcible suppression of the exploiters as a class, and consequently, the infringement of ‘pure democracy’, ie of equality and freedom for that class”.
This actively contradicts the assertion that Draper makes throughout his book that Lenin and the Communist International saw in the dictatorship of the proletariat a particular form of government, rather than a universal description of the workers’ state. Lenin even spends a couple of pages highlighting that “the dictatorship of the bourgeoisie” may also take different forms, such as republics or monarchies, without changing the capitalist nature of those states. In The Immediate Tasks of the Soviet Government (April 1918), Lenin highlighted the obverse in relation to the dictatorship of the proletariat:
If we are not anarchists, we must admit that the state, that is, coercion, is necessary for the transition from capitalism to socialism. The form of coercion is determined by the degree of development of the given revolutionary class, and also by special circumstances, such as, for example, the legacy of a long and reactionary war and the form of resistance put up by the bourgeoisie and the petty bourgeoisie.
Again, the state, ie the proletarian dictatorship, is necessary for the transition period, echoing Marx, because the fundamental basis of the state, ie the division of society into classes, has not disappeared. The circumstances facing the new workers’ state and the strength of the workers does not determine whether the state is a “dictatorship” or not, but solely the “form of coercion”.
Lenin used the term “proletarian democracy” interchangeably with “proletarian dictatorship” in The Proletarian Revolution. This was part of proving the hollowness of Kautsky’s craven obsequiousness to the capitalist state, which he described as “democratic” compared to the Bolshevik “dictatorship”. Lenin points out that “proletarian democracy is a million times more democratic than any bourgeois democracy” because it provides genuine equality rather than hypocritical formal equality:
Freedom of the press ceases to be hypocrisy, because the printing presses and stocks of paper are taken away from the bourgeoisie. The same thing applies to the best buildings, the palaces, the mansions and manor houses. The Soviet Government [has taken these buildings] and in this way it has made the right of assembly – without which democracy is a fraud – a million times more “democratic”.
The right to elect and to recall soviet representatives at any time, and the abolition of the existing state with its networks of privilege and bureaucracy made the Soviet state the first since the Paris Commune to engage the workers in the task of government. Bukharin in The Program of the World Revolution (May 1918) described well the difference between the workers’ state and the “parliamentary republic [where] every citizen hands his vote once in every four or five years, and there his part in the matter ends”.
The bourgeois State is based on the deception of the masses, keeping them half-awake, by the method of depriving them of any active part in the everyday work of the state, by summoning them once every few years “to vote”, and by deceiving them with their own vote. It is an entirely different thing in a Soviet republic. The Soviet republic, embodying the dictatorship of the masses, cannot even for a minute tear itself away from these masses. Such a republic is the stronger in proportion to the greater activity and energy manifested by the masses… It is not a matter of mere chance, therefore, that the Soviet Government in issuing its decrees addresses the masses with the demand that the workers and poorest peasants themselves should carry these decrees into execution.
Lenin also uses the example of foreign policy, from which the Soviet government “[tore] the veil of mystery”. The period of debate on the Brest Litovsk treaty, which at different points was opposed by the majority of soviets in Russia until eventually being ratified at a Soviet Congress, is ignored by Kautsky. Lenin’s condemnation rings true up to the modern day:
In the present era of predatory wars and secret treaties for the “division of spheres of influences” (ie for the partition of the world among the capitalist bandits), the subject is of cardinal importance, for it is a matter…of life and death for millions of people.
Lenin could also have referenced the right of self-determination that the workers’ revolution had recognised for the oppressed majority nationalities of the Russian empire.
The view that the dictatorship of the proletariat as represented by Soviet power in Russia was more democratic than bourgeois democracy was not an isolated view of Lenin’s but echoed by all of the leading Bolsheviks, such as Trotsky, Radek, Bukharin and Zinoviev. Nonetheless, there was an important point to be made about the dictatorship of the proletariat in contrast to democracy itself.
Draper argues that soon after the October Revolution, Lenin and the Bolsheviks began championing a “specially organised dictatorial regime, dictatorial in the sense that had become increasingly dominant, and increasingly counterposed to abstract democracy…thus facilitating the societal counterrevolution represented by Stalin”. Draper dates the “theoretical disaster” of abstractly counterposing “democracy” to “dictatorship” to a speech by Lenin in January 1918, though he associates any discussion by the Bolsheviks with the “dictatorship of the proletariat” at all with the dissolution of the Constituent Assembly around the same time, in keeping with Kautsky’s erroneous argument from 1918. In fact, as Lenin explained in his Theses on the Constituent Assembly (December 1917), and again in The Proletarian Revolution, the Bolsheviks since April 1917 had consistently highlighted that the soviets were a higher form of proletarian democracy than that of a bourgeois republic and represented an incipient state power of the working class.
So why did Lenin and a number of leading Bolsheviks, while identifying the dictatorship of the proletariat as a higher form of democracy than capitalism, still argue against “democracy”? In The Proletarian Revolution, Lenin describes how bourgeois democracies are a mask for the dictatorship of the capitalists.
The learned Mr Kautsky has “forgotten” – no doubt accidentally – …that the ruling party in a bourgeois democracy extends the protection of minorities only to the other bourgeois party, while on all serious, profound and fundamental issues, the working class get martial law and pogroms, instead of the “protection of minorities”.
Lenin draws out examples of this from the lynching of Black people and Wobblies in the United States, the suppression of the Irish independence struggle by the United Kingdom, and persecution of Jews in France, all crimes committed by so-called “democracies”. Since 1918 we could add to that list countless US and European military interventions in favour of dictators, the persecution of communists in the US and Australia in the mid-twentieth century and more recently the armed suppression of the Black Lives Matter revolt in the USA. All these examples can only scratch the surface of this fundamental truth – that all states are ultimately “dictatorships” of the ruling class.
The “point” of bourgeois democracy, Lenin discusses later in The Proletarian Revolution, is that “while exercising the dictatorship of the bourgeoisie…[it] cannot tell the truth and is compelled to be hypocritical”.
But a state of the Paris Commune type, a Soviet state, openly tells people the truth and declares that it is the dictatorship of the proletariat and the poorest peasantry; and by this truth it rallies to its side scores and scores of millions of new citizens who are kept down under a democratic republic, but who are drawn by the Soviets into political life, into democracy, into the administration of the state.
The defence of “democracy” which Kautsky’s critique embodied was part of a broader anti-revolutionary political position among reformist socialists in reaction to the Russian Revolution. In Russia, it was the Mensheviks and Socialist Revolutionaries who opposed Soviet power on the basis of “democracy”, an argument then taken up by their international co-thinkers. Bukharin directly addressed this slogan, saying it was a necessary camouflage for those who “cannot possibly say frankly and openly, ‘we want the whip and the stick for the workers’”. Clamouring for the enfranchisement of the bourgeoisie and the rejection of the unabashed “dictatorship” of the workers represented an effort “to transform the class government of workers and peasants into a class government of the bourgeoisie under the pretext of admitting all sections”. Engels had predicted that “democracy” would be the last refuge of reactionaries opposing the rule of the workers, and he was right.
So the question of the proletarian dictatorship was that it was the rule of the exploited majority over the exploiters. As the first state genuinely of the workers, it did not need to obscure its true purpose under hypocritical phrases. In this sense it was important to defend its dictatorship rather than concede to “democracy”, which is to say, to enfranchise the capitalists and their political representatives, which could only mean a step away from a workers’ state. At the same time, the workers’ dictatorship was a “higher form of democracy” precisely because it was a state where the workers were genuinely in power and excluded the capitalists.
Draper identifies Luxemburg’s critique of the Bolsheviks in her unpublished pamphlet The Russian Revolution as in keeping with Marx and Engels’ perspective on the dictatorship of the proletariat. The problem with using this pamphlet as a statement of Luxemburg’s final views on the subject was that Luxemburg herself never believed it to be so. She had limited access to Bolshevik texts and as we shall see, changed her views in the process of the revolution in Germany itself.
In The Russian Revolution Luxemburg argues “that the basic error of the Lenin-Trotsky theory is that they too, just like Kautsky, oppose dictatorship to democracy”. The evidence for this statement revolves around the section of Trotsky’s From October to Brest Litovsk where he explains why it was right to dissolve the Constituent Assembly, which had been elected by universal suffrage across much of Russia. Trotsky says:
The open and direct struggle for power enables the labouring masses to acquire in a short time a wealth of political experience and thus rapidly to pass from one stage to another in the process of their mental evolution. The ponderous mechanism of democratic institutions cannot keep pace with this evolution – and this in proportion to the vastness of the country and the imperfection of the technical apparatus at its disposal.
Luxemburg criticises this challenge to “democratic institutions” by highlighting examples of how parliaments in the French and English revolutions were impacted by “the living movement of the masses, their unending pressure”, despite the formal, structural limitations of the elected bodies. Luxemburg goes on to say that “the more democratic the institutions, the livelier and stronger the pulse-beat of the political life of the masses, the more direct and complete is their influence – despite rigid party banners, outgrown tickets (electoral lists) etc”. Luxemburg argued that the dissolution of the Constituent Assembly and the disenfranchisement of the bourgeoisie and their supporters in Russia represented “the elimination of democracy as such, [and] is worse than the disease it is supposed to cure”. Luxemburg, make no mistake, was for the dictatorship of the proletariat:
[B]ut this dictatorship consists in the manner of applying democracy, not in its elimination, in energetic, resolute attacks upon the well-entrenched rights and privileges of bourgeois society, without which a socialist transformation cannot be accomplished. But this dictatorship must be the work of the class and not of a little leading minority in the name of the class – that is, it must proceed step by step out of the active participation of the masses…
What both Trotsky and Luxemburg missed in these works is the perspective clearly outlined by Lenin and other Bolsheviks about the workers’ state and the soviets as a higher form of democracy than parliamentary democracy, and also what class power the different institutions represented. Trotsky discusses the functioning of the soviets only in passing. He also does not describe any other element of workers’ power, such as the factory committees or the trade unions. Luxemburg in her pamphlet only discusses the soviets as bodies that exclude those who do not labour from voting. Luxemburg, who suffered from a lack of information in her prison cell, treats the dissolution of the Constituent Assembly in the same terms as Kautsky, which is to say, representing the annulment of “democracy” in Russia. She does not indicate any appreciation of how precisely it was soviet power which created the most “democratic institutions” enabling “the more direct and complete” influence of the workers, nor does she recognise the most significant thing, which is for which class do they represent state power.
Notably Luxemburg herself would later oppose the right wing of the Independent Social Democratic Party (USPD) in Germany, which, like Kautsky, argued for the co-existence of a bourgeois parliament alongside the workers’ councils. Luxemburg rightly recognised that one or the other must win out as representative of hostile class interests – the dictatorship of the capitalists or of the workers. The program of the Communist Party of Germany (KPD), drafted by Luxemburg in December 1918, was as clear as day on the question of the “dictatorship of the proletariat” and rejected parliamentary democracy as its form:
The imperialist capitalist class, as last offspring of the caste of exploiters, outdoes all its predecessors in brutality, in open cynicism and treachery. It defends its holiest of holies, its profit and its privilege of exploitation, with tooth and nail, with the methods of cold evil which it demonstrated to the world in the entire history of colonial politics and in the recent World War. It will mobilize heaven and hell against the proletariat…it will turn the country into a smoking heap of rubble rather than voluntarily give up wage slavery.
All this resistance must be broken step by step, with an iron fist and ruthless energy. The violence of the bourgeois counterrevolution must be confronted with the revolutionary violence of the proletariat…
Such arming of the solid mass of labouring people with all political power for the tasks of the revolution – that is the dictatorship of the proletariat and therefore true democracy. Not where the wage slave sits next to the capitalist, the rural proletarian next to the Junker in fraudulent equality to engage in parliamentary debate over questions of life or death, but where the million-headed proletarian mass seizes the entire power of the state in its calloused fist – like the god Thor his hammer – using it to smash the head of the ruling classes: that alone is democracy, that alone is not a betrayal of the people. [emphasis added]
This passage outlines the exact same justification for the necessity of the dictatorship of the proletariat as has already been reviewed in Lenin and Marx. The necessity of dictatorship flowed from the necessity of revolution itself, which is the forcible seizure of state power as the only way to overthrow the capitalists, whose resistance must be “broken” with “an iron fist and ruthless energy”.
In discussing the supposedly “democratic” version of Luxemburg’s dictatorship of the proletariat, it is worth looking at what her contemporary, Clara Zetkin, had to say. Zetkin was not imprisoned and seems to have been able to more easily access information on the contemporary debate on the dictatorship of the proletariat. She wrote an article in 1918 that responded to Martov’s and Kautsky’s attacks on the Bolsheviks, entitled Through Dictatorship to Democracy. Zetkin had a better perception of the class significance of the soviets vis-à-vis parliamentary democracy, pointing out that:
Had they accepted parliamentarism, the Bolsheviks would have accepted an institution which, however important, is of very limited value; an institution which even in times of peaceful evolution has proved obviously inadequate to the needs of the proletarian struggle for emancipation… parliament is one of those state institutions which a victorious proletariat cannot simply take over and use for its own purposes. The new revolutionary wine must not be poured into old bottles. From this outlook, “Bolshevism” was assuredly justified in replacing the Constituent Assembly by the soviets, in replacing the activity of a determinative and legislative assembly, by the activity of organisations upon the broadest possible democratic basis, and simultaneously legislative, administrative, and executive.
Zetkin was unequivocal, describing dictatorship as “stark, coercive dominion” and insisted that “who wills the ends must not shrink from the means. A proletarian revolution aiming at socialism cannot be effected without dictatorship”.
In order to make his argument that Lenin and the early Comintern advocated some form of “specifically organised dictatorial regime” Draper ignores the early writings of leading Bolsheviks, which attempted to proselytise the lessons of the Russian Revolution to an international audience. A clear understanding of the dictatorship of the proletariat as the rule of the entire working class, and a massive expansion of democracy whose repression was directed against the capitalists is a clear feature of early Comintern staples like Radek’s Socialism from Science to Action (1918), Bukharin’s Program of the World Revolution (1918), Zinoviev’s To the IWW (1920), and Lenin’s works State and Revolution (1917), The Proletarian Revolution (1918) and Left-Wing Communism (1920). It was also spelt out in detail in Lenin’s theses on Bourgeois Democracy and Proletarian Dictatorship, which were adopted at the founding Congress of the Comintern in March 1919. Lenin’s 1906 observations on revolutionary dictatorship were confirmed: rule over the capitalists based on force, and not on “law”, with the new workers’ state emerging out of “revolutionary seizure from below” which replaced the institutions of the capitalist state. These works did not contradict Marx and Engels’ views on the dictatorship of the proletariat as a synonym for the workers’ state but expanded them with fresh revolutionary experience.
Following the failed Left Socialist Revolutionary revolt against the Brest Litovsk treaty with Germany in July 1918, which coincided with the uprising of the 30,000-strong Czech Legion in Siberia, the Bolsheviks ruled alone and faced off against increasing pressures from within and without. In this increasingly desperate situation, and after several terrorist attacks against their leading members, including Lenin, the Bolsheviks turned towards outright red terror to break any opposition. It was only sometime after establishing their sole rule in fact that the Bolsheviks began to justify it in theory. This is important because it is typically asserted that the Bolsheviks always generalised the measures they were forced into in Russia into universally applicable lessons for the international revolutionary movement. In fact, it’s clear that this warped theorisation of the dictatorship of the proletariat took time to develop under counter-revolutionary pressures, and was not an immediate leap, or a product of inherent problems in the ideology of the Bolsheviks.
Draper ignores the earlier foundational works of the Comintern, instead focusing on Bolshevik replies to Kautsky’s 1919 book Terrorism and Communism. Even here, most of Draper’s critique is based on wilful misinterpretation of what leading Bolsheviks such as Bukharin, Kamenev and Radek actually said. While these writers, most clearly Trotsky, did defend the concept of the dictatorship of the Communist Party in Russia, they did so by eliding the difference between the rule of the party and the entire working class, not by arguing that the working class was incapable of self-emancipation. This was certainly wrong, but indicative of the difficulties the Bolsheviks found themselves in, rather than a case of a “dictatorial” theory coming into full bloom.
Draper’s work on the dictatorship of the proletariat in Marx and Engels is extremely valuable. Volume 3 of KMTR is a masterful collation of the context and circumstances behind every reference made to the phrase “dictatorship of the proletariat”, and indeed dictatorship in general, in their writings. However, his later work, From Marx to Lenin, shows that Draper was fiercely opposed to how the early Comintern, including Lenin, used this concept. Reviewing the concept with reference to Lenin and the early Comintern shows up weaknesses in Draper’s interpretation, not just with respect to the successors of Marx and Engels, but also in his interpretation of “dictatorship” for Marx and Engels.
The “dictatorship of the proletariat” today is perceived by many socialists as a millstone around their necks to be explained away. This article has sought to explain why it was not just a coincidental element of Marxist thought. Rather it fully accorded with an understanding of the state as arising out of indissoluble class conflicts, that exists to maintain the power of the ruling class over the oppressed classes.
Even one hundred years after the Russian Revolution, the same fundamental issues remain. Is it possible for the working class to come to power without an act of “revolutionary seizure” whereby they smash the existing state institutions and replace them with their own, more democratic institutions of workers’ power? Is it possible for such a workers’ state to arise and to hold on without understanding the source of its power as being the force that it wields “dictatorially” against the old oppressors? An overview of the “dictatorship of the proletariat” from the founders of historical materialism to the period of the early Comintern vindicates Lenin’s statement that it remains “essential to the victory of any revolutionary class”.
Bukharin, Nikolai 1920 , Program of the World Revolution, Socialist Labour Press. https://www.marxists.org/archive/bukharin/works/1918/worldrev/index.html
Cliff, Tony 1950, “On the Class Nature of the People’s Democracies”, July. https://www.marxists.org/archive/cliff/works/1950/07/index.htm
Draper, Hal 1987, The “Dictatorship of the Proletariat” from Marx to Lenin, Monthly Review Press.
Draper, Hal 2011, Karl Marx’s Theory of Revolution, Volume 3: The “Dictatorship of the Proletariat”, Aakar Books.
Engels, Frederick 1942 , “Letter to August Bebel”, 11–12 December 1884, in Gesamtausgabe, International Publishers. https://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1884/letters/84_12_11.htm
Engels, Frederick 1947 , “Letter to August Bebel”, March 18–28 1875, in Marx, Critique of the Gotha Program, Foreign Languages Publishing House. https://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1875/letters/75_03_18.htm
Kautsky, Karl 1919 , HJ Stenning (trans.), The Dictatorship of the Proletariat, National Labour Press.
Lenin, Vladimir 1942 , The Proletarian Revolution and the Renegade Kautsky, Lawrence and Wishart. https://www.marxists.org/archive/lenin/works/1918/prrk/
Lenin, Vladimir 1964 , “The Dual Power”, in Lenin Collected Works, Volume 24, pp.38–41, Progress Publishers. https://www.marxists.org/archive/lenin/works/1917/apr/09.htm
Lenin, Vladimir 1965a , “The Victory of the Cadets and the Tasks of the Workers’ Party”, in Collected Works, Volume 10, pp.199–276, Progress Publishers. https://www.marxists.org/archive/lenin/works/1906/victory/digress.htm#v10pp65-242
Lenin, Vladimir 1965b , “A Contribution to the History of the Question of the Dictatorship”, in Collected Works, Volume 31, pp.340–61, Progress Publishers. https://www.marxists.org/archive/lenin/works/1920/oct/20.htm
Lenin, Vladimir 1972 , The Immediate Tasks of Soviet Government, in Collected Works, Volume 27, pages 235-77, Progress Publishers. https://www.marxists.org/archive/lenin/works/1918/mar/x03.htm
Lenin, Vladimir 1977 , Two Tactics of Social Democracy in the Democratic Revolution, in Collected Works, Volume 9, pp.15-140, Progress Publishers. https://www.marxists.org/archive/lenin/works/1905/tactics/index.htm
Luxemburg, Rosa 1961 (1918), The Russian Revolution and Leninism or Marxism?, University of Michigan Press.
Luxemburg, Rosa 1971 , Dick Howard (ed.), Martin Nicolaus [trans.], “What does the Spartacus League Want?”, in Selected Political Writings of Rosa Luxemburg, Monthly Review Press. https://www.marxists.org/archive/luxemburg/1918/12/14.htm
Marx, Karl 1947 , Critique of the Gotha Program, Foreign Languages Publishing House. https://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1875/gotha/
Marx, Karl and Engels, Frederick 1999 , Manifesto of the Communist Party, International Publishers. https://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1848/communist-manifesto/
Radek, Karl 1921 , Patrick Lavin (trans.), Proletarian Dictatorship and Terrorism, Marxian Educational Society. https://www.marxists.org/archive/radek/1920/dictterr/index.htm
Riddell, John 1987 (ed.), Founding the Communist International. Proceedings and Documents of the First Congress, March 1919, Anchor Foundation.
Trotsky, Leon 1919 , History of the Russian Revolution to Brest Litovsk, George Allen and Unwin. https://www.marxists.org/archive/trotsky/1918/hrr/ch03.htm
Trotsky, Leon 2007 , Terrorism and Communism, Verso. https://www.marxists.org/archive/trotsky/1920/terrcomm/index.htm
Zetkin, Clara 1926 , Eden and Cedar Paul (trans.), Through Dictatorship to Democracy, Socialist Labour Press. https://www.marxists.org/archive/zetkin/1919/xx/dictdem.htm
 Lenin 1965b.
 Tony Cliff meticulously broke down the nature of the “people’s democracies” established by the USSR in Eastern Europe following World War II, but no so-called socialist states identified themselves as a “dictatorship of the proletariat” following Khrushchev’s dropping of the term in 1961. See Cliff 1950.
 Draper 2011, p.1.
 Draper 2011, p.212.
 Marx and Engels 1999, p.20.
 Draper 1987, p.44.
 Draper 1987, p.45.
 Draper 1987, p.30.
 Marx first used the phrase in The Class Struggles in France, written in 1850, which assessed one theatre of the revolutionary struggle of 1848.
 Draper 2011, p.11.
 Draper 2011, pp.19–22.
 Draper 2011, p.71.
 Draper 2011, p.62.
 Draper 2011.
 Draper 2011, pp.63–64.
 Engels 1947, p.55.
 Marx 1947, p.39.
 Draper 1987, p.80.
 Lenin 1965a.
 Draper 1987, p.91.
 Lenin 1965a.
 Lenin 1965a.
 Lenin 1965a.
 Draper 1987, p.92.
 Lenin 1965a.
 Lenin 1965a.
 Lenin 1965a.
 Draper 1987, p.92.
 Lenin 1964.
 Riddell 1987, p.163.
 Lenin 1977, p.132.
 Draper 1987, p.89.
 Draper 1987, pp.129, 132.
 Kautsky 1919, p.45.
 Kautsky 1919, pp.75–76.
 Kautsky 1919, p.34.
 Kautsky 1919, p.58.
 Kautsky 1919, p.98.
 Draper 1987, p.134.
 Lenin 1942, p.35.
 Radek 1921, p.56.
 Lenin 1942, pp.37–38.
 Lenin 1942, pp.20–21.
 Lenin 1972, p.34.
 Lenin 1942, p.30.
 Bukharin 1920, p.30.
 Lenin 1942, p.29.
 Draper 1987, pp.104–5.
 Draper 1987, p.102.
 Lenin 1942, p.46.
 Lenin 1942, p.28.
 Lenin 1942, p.81.
 Bukharin 1920, p.31.
 Engels 1942.
 Draper 1987, p.115.
 Luxemburg directly references Trotsky’s short history of the Russia revolution at the start of the section on “The Constituent Assembly” and also “Lenin’s speech on discipline and corruption” later on, but notably not State and Revolution. Luxemburg 1961, pp.57, 72.
 Trotsky 1919.
 Luxemburg 1961, p.62.
 Luxemburg 1961, pp.77–78.
 Luxemburg 1971.
 The article on the Marxists Internet Archive is dated to 1919. Since it is a reply to two articles written by Martov and Kautsky in 1918, and it also speaks of the Left Socialist-Revolutionaries as if they were still part of the Soviet government, I think it is more likely to have been written prior to July 1918.
 Zetkin 1926.
 Draper 1987, pp.137–38.
 Trotsky 2007, p.104.