This is a powerful meme.

It is the idea that since there are so many poor people in the world, and so much wealth concentrated in the hands of a few rich people, the poor should just take it and redistribute wealth more evenly. However, it is always thwarted because the rich control politics and do everything they can to keep themselves in power. Depending on how much power the people have, the rich can be forced to make some grudging concessions, such as minimum wage in America, or legalized trade unions.

However, in countries where the people don't have as much power, the rich never allow that sort of thing. There, union leaders and civil or human rights activists are usually just killed or disappeared by death squads.

What dictatorship of the proletariat meant to Marx and Engels (someone may argue that at least in their flourishes and festival orations..)?

Engels told us to look at the Paris Commune -- according to him that was exactly dictatorship of the proletariat what was practised there. And what it practically meant?

- There wasn't special army troops but everyone bore a weapon i.e. free arming of the people.
- No representative nor official got more salary than an average worker.
- All the representatives were changeable at any time. There wasn't a certain period of time for leaders to remain in the power but there was a sort of continual election.

But after all, there's no point anymore to masturbate with the theoretical meaning of the term. The catastrophical expirement of the Soviet Union wiped out all other meanings of the term. It should be clear that dictatorship of the proletariat means nothing but the right for the state bureaucracy to exploit proletariat in the name of the proletariat. You're a class enemy, you should be punished.

But afterall, I heard that a couple of years ago when hard core communists in Russia found a new party they chose to name it The Party of Dictatorship of The Proletariat. When asked, they said that the term socialism doesn't get any sympathy in Russia but this term is much more positive. Well, we have seen some people carrying the placards of Stalin (Iosif Vissionaryevich Djugashvili), so...

According to Communist theory, the dictatorship of the proletariat was the final, utopian stage of the Revolution. Massive upheaval would be necessary before this stage could be achieved, but the ends (a "worker's paradise") would justify the means.

The upheaval would be managed, after the initial overthrowing of the pre-existing regime, by a revolutionary elite. This elite would be in charge of, among other things, eliminating counterrevolutionary influences and indoctrinating the proletarian masses so they would be capable of exercising their rights as part of the dictatorship of the proletariat.

The part where this collapsed, as with most utopian systems, is where it assumed that humans were all inherently good, and could be educated to act consistently for the benefit of the entire society and not themselves. In practice, no state-scale Communist system has ever advanced past the revolutionary elite stage, because the elite themselves decided they liked power too much to hand it over to the proletariat.

Perhaps the economic structure of theoretical communism could work in a perfect world. But the world ain't perfect. Instead, all it did was provide a theoretical justification for the atrocities of the power-mad, in the Soviet Union, China, Romania, Cambodia, and many other places.

Perfect-world thinking is dangerous... see gun control in the USA...

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