Joti Brar and Garland Nixon: The state and revolution, episode 3

Lenin’s lessons on the nature of the state continue to bring valuable truths to workers the world over.

In the third instalment of their regular series, Joti Brar and Garland Nixon discuss Lenin’s essential work, The State and Revolution, and how its lessons can be applied to understanding modern events.

Garland begins by describing how people in the United States of America generally understand that the government doesn’t represent them: it represents the “elite ruling class”.

Affirming that bourgeois democracy does not work for the masses, Comrade Joti questions the nature of state power. What would happen if you voted communists into office? Would that deliver the economic justice so desperately needed by the working masses? Naturally, it isn’t that simple. In reality, there is no way to beat the capitalist class by trying to ‘beat them at their own game’. The masses don’t have any meaningful input into the debate or into the decision-making process in a capitalist ‘democracy’, despite the fact that we have a vote at election time.

This is because it isn’t the elected government that runs the capitalist state machinery, it’s the monopoly capitalist class, the imperialists. Owing to their financial dominance, the members of this ruling elite are able to issue instructions to those nominally in power. When they do so, they are acting as the physical embodiment of their capital – ie, every instruction is aimed at building up higher and higher the mountain of wealth on which they sit. This phenomenon is explained fully in Lenin’s seminal work Imperialism, the Highest Stage of Capitalism.

Donald Trump is a good example of how elections are controlled in an imperialist country. A large section of the US bourgeoisie is pursuing all sorts of legal avenues in order to keep him off the ballot paper because it sees him as a loose cannon. The monopolists at the top of the US imperialist system do not consider Donald Trump to be such a safe pair of hands as Joe Biden – an establishment figure with decades of loyal service. Trump, whilst being exceptionally rich, doesn’t follow the rules of the political game. (See The rise of Donald Trump: a revolt against the establishment, Lalkar, 1 April 2016)

Thinking about the Capitol Hill riot of 6 January 2021 and how it is presented in the media, Joti points out the failure of the left to identify the nature of the event, going so far to label it a ‘fascist uprising’. (See Who are the Capitol rioters?, Proletarian, 3 August 2021)

Garland suggests that most of the people who turned up on 6 January were there to protest about the state of American democracy: working-class people who no longer trust the government or the electoral process. Whilst they were not entirely disillusioned with the notion of ‘democracy’ in the USA, they did feel that it was under serious attack. A priority of communists in the United States ought to be to reach out to these workers and help them overcome the fierce anticommunism with which they have been indoctrinated, and which keeps them from finding the real solutions to the problems they face.

Drawing a comparison with the recent wave of Palestine solidarity demonstrations, Joti points out how the media have mischaracterised these protesters, too. For months, the papers have condemned Palestine solidarity as “hate speech”, conflating anti-zionism and antisemitism, and have dismissed the protests as being made up mainly of muslims. Much of the media’s coverage of these protests has chosen to focus on the tiny number of counter-protesters waving union jacks and Israeli flags who have turned up in the hope of making trouble, despite the fact that they have been outnumbered 10,000 or more to one.

The aim of such a narrative is clear: our rulers want the wider public to dismiss the issue of Palestine on the basis that it is not a ‘British’ concern. They want us to ignore it and to stay away from an anti-imperialist struggle that has the potential to raise the class-consciousness of workers back home.

But the lies can’t hold up forever.

Comparing the overwhelming levels of support enjoyed by the ruling governments of China, Russia, Nicaragua and Venezuela by their people, Garland draws a comparison with the governments of imperialist countries. German chancellor Olaf Scholz, for example, has an ‘approval’ rating that currently sits at a dire 14 percent, while President Biden’s is less than 30 percent and sinking daily.

The imperialist countries’ leaders are ever more despised by their people, yet they still have the gall to pretend that their objection to governments they want to remove for reasons of domination and profit is not their independence and sovereignty but a ‘lack of democracy’.

These lies are becoming more apparent to the masses with every day that passes, and this is something that scares our rulers immensely.