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Maoist Debate: Free Speech under Socialism

by rosa Friday, Oct. 10, 2003 at 3:17 AM

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?

  From RedRebel

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 Revolution.


From oki

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 necessary anyway?

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.


From Mariposa

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 interested below.

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 humanity."


From LittleTimmyAK47

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.


From naxalite

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 factories.)

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 revolutionary path.

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


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LATEST COMMENTS ABOUT THIS ARTICLE
Listed below are the 10 latest comments of 43 posted about this article.
These comments are anonymously submitted by the website visitors.
TITLE AUTHOR DATE
Sieg Heil! Sieg Heil! a better world? Friday, Oct. 10, 2003 at 5:09 AM
Moot point. nonanarchist Friday, Oct. 10, 2003 at 5:14 AM
Lest We Forget krankyman Friday, Oct. 10, 2003 at 6:09 AM
Maoism and Socialism Meyer London Friday, Oct. 10, 2003 at 6:09 AM
IMCers love RCP citizen Friday, Oct. 10, 2003 at 6:29 AM
RCP reflects what IMCers would like to impose Meyer London Friday, Oct. 10, 2003 at 7:07 AM
Stalinism/Maoism IS socialism dress it up Friday, Oct. 10, 2003 at 7:11 AM
Oh C'mon Meyer fresca Friday, Oct. 10, 2003 at 7:13 AM
To Dressy Meyer London Friday, Oct. 10, 2003 at 7:16 AM
ML antisocialist Friday, Oct. 10, 2003 at 7:24 AM
Socialism ignores human nature. Meyer London Friday, Oct. 10, 2003 at 7:24 AM
I am a murderer. Or potential murderer. Meyer London Friday, Oct. 10, 2003 at 7:28 AM
Socialism is Death antircp Friday, Oct. 10, 2003 at 7:30 AM
because fresca Friday, Oct. 10, 2003 at 7:38 AM
socialists and movements for freedom and justice Meyer London Friday, Oct. 10, 2003 at 7:48 AM
ML TY Friday, Oct. 10, 2003 at 7:50 AM
Soviet Union a hoot. Meyer London Friday, Oct. 10, 2003 at 8:09 AM
What a man kranky is Krusty Friday, Oct. 10, 2003 at 8:14 AM
ML beentheredonethat Friday, Oct. 10, 2003 at 8:26 AM
Expert on socialism Meyer London Friday, Oct. 10, 2003 at 8:33 AM
ML s Friday, Oct. 10, 2003 at 8:41 AM
so what fresca Friday, Oct. 10, 2003 at 8:45 AM
s has seen how it works Meyer London Friday, Oct. 10, 2003 at 8:56 AM
people from all sorts of groups participated Meyer London Friday, Oct. 10, 2003 at 8:58 AM
No To Socialism anti-socialist Friday, Oct. 10, 2003 at 9:04 AM
Oscar Meyer's problem Randolph Friday, Oct. 10, 2003 at 9:30 AM
No to Marxist/Leninists 000 Friday, Oct. 10, 2003 at 10:09 AM
Nonsense fresca Friday, Oct. 10, 2003 at 10:10 AM
resisting Maoists Meyer London Friday, Oct. 10, 2003 at 10:11 AM
Maoists/Socialist free Friday, Oct. 10, 2003 at 10:16 AM
Maoists/Socialist Meyer London Friday, Oct. 10, 2003 at 11:04 AM
Prove It Right Wing Nutso's krankyman Saturday, Oct. 11, 2003 at 5:23 AM
Calm down kranky Krusty Saturday, Oct. 11, 2003 at 7:00 AM
I Will Explain It Again. krankyman Saturday, Oct. 11, 2003 at 2:09 PM
Definitions of capitalism insomniac Monday, Oct. 13, 2003 at 3:11 AM
profits insomniac Monday, Oct. 13, 2003 at 3:25 AM
NYC IMC already implemented Maoist thought free-speech Monday, Oct. 13, 2003 at 3:42 PM
Try the Real World krankyman Tuesday, Oct. 14, 2003 at 7:04 AM
insomniac and kranky Krusty Wednesday, Oct. 15, 2003 at 3:39 AM
Capitalish vs. Socialism Future College Student Wednesday, Oct. 15, 2003 at 4:05 AM
Capitalish vs. Socialism Future College Student Wednesday, Oct. 15, 2003 at 4:05 AM
Not the only choices. Meyer London Wednesday, Oct. 15, 2003 at 7:20 AM
Tell it to the dead bbsouter Tuesday, Mar. 30, 2004 at 11:14 PM

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