The alternative structures established by the short-lived Paris Commune illustrated for Marx, Engels, and Lenin the possibilities of the proletarian revolution. Marx and Engels wrote that the Commune demonstrates that the revolutionary working class, instead of taking control of the state, will abolish it, that is, will destroy the bureaucratic machinery of the state. The Commune, for example, replaced the professional army with popular militias of workers and peasants; and it eliminated bureaucratic functionaries of the state, and necessary administrative functions were carried out by the workers. Furthermore, Marx and Engels observed that the institutional transformation pertained to the economic sphere as well, taking into account the efforts of the Commune to establish cooperative manufacturing. In addition, they observed the emergence of structures of workers’ democracy, as the Commune replaced parliamentarianism with an alternative form of representation, characterized by election to popular councils that in turn elected representatives to higher levels of authority. These new understandings formulated by Marx and Engels on the basis of the Paris Commune were subsequently appropriated by Lenin, who observed as well the Russian revolutions of 1905 and 1917, in his reflections on the state under conditions of worker control
Thus, on a foundation of observation of the continually developing proletarian movement, the Marxist-Leninist understanding of the characteristics of socialism emerged: workers’ cooperatives, popular militias, administrative functions carried out by workers, and popular democracy as an alternative to parliamentarianism. In practice, as socialist projects developed in various nations during the twentieth century, they found that bureaucratic structures of government were difficult to eliminate, because of the need to organize persons with technical and administrative skills. In addition, in some contexts, it was more workable to develop structures of state ownership in addition to cooperatives; and to some extent it was necessary to leave space for private property. Nevertheless, workers’ cooperatives, popular militias, and popular democracy and structures of popular power emerged in practice as integral components of socialist projects. They were understood as structures developed by the people and in response to the interests and needs of the people, in contrast to capitalism, which develops structures in accordance with the interests of the bourgeoisie.
Engels, Frederick. 1988. “Introduction” in (Marx and Lenin:1988).
Lenin, V.I. 1997. El Estado y La Revolución. Madrid: Fundación Federico Engels.
Marx, Karl and V.I. Lenin. 1988. The Civil War in France: The Paris Commune, 2nd edition. New York: International Publishers.
Key words: Third World, revolution, colonialism, neocolonialism, imperialism, democracy, national liberation, sovereignty, self-determination, socialism, Marxism, Leninism, Cuba, Latin America, world-system, world-economy, development, underdevelopment, colonial, neocolonial, blog Third World perspective, Marx, Lenin, Paris Commune