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Maoist Debate: Free Speech under Socialism (english)
09 Oct 2003
Modified: 05:22:47 PM
The following exchange was taken from the 2changetheworld.info website over the question of Freedom of speech after revolution.
The following exchange was taken from the 2changetheworld.info
website over the question of Freedom of speech after revolution.
What about Freedom of Speech?
Freedom of speech, That's a tough one. I think it is an innate human right,
but the bourgeoisie owns the airwaves and it would be poisonous to The
Revolution if they harnessed that and used it against the proletariat.
i definitely think after The Revolution there should be a bill of rights and
they should be upheld and freedom of speech should be among them but possibly
during The Revolution poisonous thoughts should be suppressed that is not to say
that revolutionary criticism should be suppressed it is a necessary part of The
And when would the proletariat end?
In history I think there are no examples of communist states that ended it.
It continued and resulted in a totalitarian system. I more hang towards
anarchosyndicalism where this stage is completely skipped. Why is a proletariat
Why should, even during revolt freedom of speech be limited? Wouldn't this
lead to just another repressive government form? How can you prevent abuse of
total power during and after a revolution? Isn't a revolution only gonna work if
the people back it up? If they do then you don't need censorship and centralized
power, then the people will act and make it happen.
The Draft Programme itself contains in a living and practical way many
answers to the questions you all are asking! The RCP has summed up some
hard-learned, lessons to develop this section of the Draft Programme ,
and it is really worth looking at, reading, and digging into. So, I'm going to
make links to the different (short) sections of that appendix for those
The appendix starts by saying:
"Having seized power through a wrenching process of struggle,
involving tremendous heroism and sacrifice on the part of millions of people,
the proletariat will suppress any attempts by the overthrown bourgeoisie and
counter-revolutionary forces to restore the old society, with all its horrors
for the masses of people. Not to do so would be a monumental betrayal of the
masses of people, not just in the particular country but worldwide, and of the
proletariat's historic revolutionary mission. And the exercise of this
dictatorship by the proletariat over the bourgeoisie is absolutely essential for
and makes possible the carrying out of radical changes in society which
represent the highest interests of the masses of people and ultimately of all
In my opinion...
When the dictatorship of the proletariat has come to exist, the people will
certainly have the right to freedom of speech assembly etc., the oppressors and
reactionaries who despise the people and their rule will not. That is to say,
oppressors from the old society, white supremacists and other reactionary
criminals will not have these rights. The proletariat will exercise democracy
amongst themselves and dictatorship over the reactionary classes to prevent
their re-asserting their power.
As for the idea that we can "skip" socialism, this is a pipe dream.
The walls that have been built by the capitalists inside our own hearts and
minds will not die without a massive struggle, we have to be practical here. The
solution to the workers' problems is not the expansion of our bourgeois-
democratic individual "rights" but building a new society on the new
proletarian way, as for the reactionaries who want to spit poison... fuck em!
The right to try to fool and hoodwink the masses isn't a right, it's a privilege
the reactionaries will want and the masses should never give.
I agree wholehearted with what Lil Timmy said:
"When the dictatorship of the proletariat has come to exist, the
people will certainly have the right to freedom of speech assembly etc., the
oppressors and reactionaries who despise the people and their rule will not....
the solution to the workers' problems is not the expansion of our bourgeois-
democratic individual "rights" but building a new society on the new
proletarian way, as for the reactionaries who want to spit poison.. fuck em! The
right to try to fool and hoodwink the masses isn't a right."
Several people posting in this discussion raise the idea of an absolute right
to "freedom of speech." I think that is naive and wrong: in a civil
war, and especially under situation where the overthrown enemy inevitably has
much more strength than the new born revolutionary forces, it is wrong to allow
the hated reactionaries to organize and raise their heads.
Let's put it like this: If the Klan is still free to organize lynching, will
Black people feel that something deep has changed in society? Will the oppressed
feel empowered to fully act in the next stages of the revolution? If these swine
(and the Oliver Norths and the Rush Limbaughs, etc.) are still speaking over
radio waves, then how can people feel anything has changed? That their
sacrifices, past and future, are worth it?
Some people in this discussion essentially don't want a dictatorship of the
proletariat, and even suggest that if the workers can't hold onto power without
exercising it that way, then they should give it up.
We already have examples of that.... like in Nicaragua, where revisionist
forces, the Sandinistas, (for their own purposes) allowed the U.S. imperialists
to fund "opposition newspapers" and then spend millions on the
election of their "opposition" candidate. What a betrayal of the
people to allow millions to enter a small country to bring back an openly
conservative pro-U.S. regime!
However, what i think is worth thinking through is how the limits are drawn.
Tim says fuck the reactionaries who want to spit poison. Well sure. But the
enemy won't always show up in a brooks brother suit and a top hat. It isn't
always obvious. What if a former reactionary activist raises a true criticism
about how a university is being run? What if a foreign ministry official argues
for establishing major trade with a remaining imperialist power? What if someone
argues for wider wage gaps during a period of economic hardship, or for
abolishing them all at once? What if a seemingly honest person raises seemingly
reactionary things? (Like a special cafeteria for surgeons and top
administrators in hospitals, or something major, like bringing back SATs and
ending the system of picking college students by consulting workers in
What I am trying to say is that the world is not so simple--where over here
are the proletarian revolutionaries saying revolutionary things, and over there
the reactionaries and oppressors saying reactionary things.
The enemy will come in new guises--they will couch their arguments in
language and plans that sound attractive to sections of the masses (and even
sections of the revolutionaries). They won't appear dressed in Klan hoods and
skinhead costumes--but will find for a spokesperson someone with real
credentials in the revolutionary struggle.
And this complexity means that there has to be a big arena where things
(within and under the dictatorship of the proletariat) are debated out, broadly
and openly. Where wrong ideas are tested and contested. Where sections of the
people who are influenced by reactionary plans are won over to a more
Yes, we need a dictatorship of the proletariat. Yes, ultimately and
fundamentally, those working for a restoration of our oppression need to be
identified, exposed and thwarted in their attempts at a return to power.
But let's understand that this will not be simple--especially once the
obvious reactionaries are defeated and broken up. The process of differentiating
between revolution and counterrevolution, between Marxism and revisionism,
between the paths forward and the path backward--is a complex process. And it is
not mainly a "police process"--of forbidding certain kinds of politics
and enforcing that ban with the new revolutionary organs of power. The
differences between revolution and restoration have to be clear to millions, not
just to the most advanced within the party and the new government. Otherwise,
history shows, the dictatorship of the proletariat can't be expanded in an
"all-round" way. In fact, it can't even survive.
The question here is not whether the proletariat
should exercise dictatorship, but how it should exercise
it. The proletariat, with the leadership of the Party, must control the economy,
as well as politics, the media, culture, and so on. But dictatorship and control
by the proletariat need not mean, and should not mean, that no opposition is
allowed. On the contrary, socialism can only advance to communism in an
atmosphere characterized by vigorous and free-flowing debate and contention,
which will greatly contribute to the identification, analysis, and resolution of
contradictions on an ever higher level.
RCP Draft Programme p. 83
Ludicrous Discussion (english)
by West Coast Socialist
(No verified email address)
09 Oct 2003
Discussions like this make the left look ridiculous and only provide ammunition to right wingers who want to equate socialism with Stalinsim, mass executions, prison camps, mindless bureaucracy, and tyranny. Maoism and Stalinism have both been repudiated by most left groups all over the world. And rightly so. They do not represent a significant current in socialist thought today and promoting a debate over how much freedom Stalinist bureaucrats of Maoist fanatics should allow to the masses gives a false impression of what socialism and the left are all about. How anyone but a provocateur or FBI agent could support or actually join one of these Maoist/Stalinsit cults today is beyond me. If Maoism did not exist the CIA and the FBI would have to invent it.