People's Democratic Revolution

People’s Democratic Revolution


an anti-imperialist, anti-feudal, democratic revolution that developed in a number of European and Asian countries during World War II and the postwar period and that was the prologue to socialist transformations in these countries. Other terms meaning “people’s democratic revolution” include “national democratic revolution” (Czechoslovakia), “democratic revolution” (Hungary), and “the new democratic revolution” (China). In Bulgaria the phrase “people’s democratic revolution” is used in a different sense: “in terms of its form, the people’s democratic revolution in our country . . . has been socialist in character from the very beginning” (T. Zhivkov, Izbr. stat’i i rechi, vol. 1, 1965, p. 420).

As anti-imperialist and antifeudal revolutions, the people’s democratic revolutions took place under conditions of the general crisis of capitalism in countries at very different levels of socioeconomic development (for example, Czechoslovakia and Hungary; Rumania and China). The analogous though by no means identical socioeconomic content of the revolutions of the 1940’s was determined by the fact that the countries in which they took place were in semicolonial dependence on foreign imperialism (German, Italian, and Japanese). Thus, the peoples of these countries were confronted with the immediate task of revolutionary struggle against fascism and for national independence and democracy. Semicolonial dependence on foreign imperialism also caused the course of initial revolutionary development in these countries to follow essentially the same pattern. After German and Italian fascism and Japanese militarism had been destroyed with the decisive participation of the USSR and after a number of countries in Europe and Asia had been liberated by the Soviet Army, conditions favorable to the victory of the people’s democratic revolution took shape in the liberated countries and in the international arena. As a result of the struggle of domestic democratic revolutionary forces led by the Communists, a new people’s democratic system developed.

In terms of its objective foundations, motive forces, the class character of the power it establishes, and the socioeconomic transformations it carries out, the people’s democratic revolution is not a socialist revolution, nor is it a bourgeois democratic one.

The economic basis of a bourgeois democratic revolution of the old type is the contradiction between the productive forces and feudal or semifeudal production relations. A socialist revolution is engendered by the contradiction between the development of productive forces and obsolete capitalist production relations. By contrast, the basis for the people’s democratic revolutions in the countries of Europe and Asia generally involved two distinct contradictions. The first of these was between the development of productive forces and obsolete feudal or semifeudal production relations. (This contradiction, however, was not of fundamental importance in Czechoslovakia.) The second of the contradictions was between the interests of national economic development and the hegemony of foreign capital and the local capital associated with it. The abolition of the vestiges of feudal, serf-owning systems was impossible without a revolutionary struggle against imperialism and without the crushing defeat of fascism. For precisely this reason, people’s democratic revolutions are not simply antifeudal (bourgeois) and not as yet an-ticapitalist (socialist) revolutions but a new kind of anti-imperialist, antifeudal, antifascist, national liberation, democratic revolution.

The distinguishing characteristic of a people’s democratic revolution is the composition of its motive forces. The motive forces of a bourgeois democratic revolution of the old type were classes headed by the bourgeoisie, and the motive force of a socialist revolution is the alliance of the proletariat with all the working people and the exploited under the leadership of the proletariat. The people’s democratic revolutions are different in this respect. Their motive force is the broad popular front of the proletariat, the peasantry, the petite bourgeoisie, and various strata from different classes (for example, the middle or national bourgeoisie). The broad popular front is based on an alliance between the proletariat and the peasantry and is led by the proletariat headed by a Marxist-Leninist party. The people’s democratic revolution is distinguished from the socialist revolution not only by the general composition of its motive forces but also by the aims of their struggle and the character of their union. Nonetheless, in many respects the people’s democratic revolution strongly resembles a socialist revolution. The hegemony of the proletariat, which heads the alliance of revolutionary forces, ensures the radical character of the people’s democratic revolution and enables it to take steps in the direction of socialism.

The most important distinguishing feature of a people’s democratic revolution is the character of the state power it establishes: a revolutionary democratic dictatorship of the revolutionary classes led by the proletariat. This power is primarily charged with implementing democratic transformations, while preserving to a certain extent the private capitalist ownership of the means of production. Unlike the bourgeois democracy, which is a government of the minority, the revolutionary democratic dictatorship of the revolutionary classes is the government of the overwhelming majority, in whose interests it carries out profound socioeconomic transformations.

In all of the countries in which people’s democratic revolutions have taken place, the governments and bodies of state power of a broad popular front were created (for example, the National Front in Czechoslovakia, the Democratic Bloc in Poland, and the National Democratic Front in Rumania). This front included the proletariat, the peasantry, the petite bourgeoisie, and representatives of the bourgeoisie (for example, S. Mikolajczyk in Poland, F. Nagy in Hungary, G. Tatarescu in Rumania, and E. Beneš in Czechoslovakia). Socioeconomic transformations were carried out in the course of an acute class struggle. In most of the countries there were a number of parties: for example, the Polish Workers’ Party, the Polish Socialist Party, and the Polish People’s Party; and in Hungary, the Communist, Social Democratic, and National Peasant parties, as well as the Smallholders’ Party.

The people’s power established as a direct result of a people’s democratic revolution differs from a dictatorship of the proletariat in its class character. However, the hegemony of the proletariat and its Marxist-Leninist party is, within the framework of this democratic regime, the embryo of a dictatorship of the proletariat. To consolidate the dictatorship of the proletariat, it is necessary to purge the government of exploitative elements opposed to further democratic and socialist transformations and reorganize the government in order to solve socialist tasks.

The aim of a people’s democratic revolution is to create a new democratic system that will ensure optimal conditions for the revolutionary transition to socialism. The new democratic system created as the result of a people’s democratic revolution is not a definite socioeconomic formation but a transitional system that corresponds to the character of the objective economic contradictions being resolved. The antifeudal, anti-imperialist character of the revolution predetermines the dual, contradictory character of its economic results. On the one hand, antifeudal transformations in the countryside create not a socialist but a petit bourgeois system. On the other hand, anti-imperialist transformations and the nationalization of industry and trade give rise to state ownership, on the basis of which socialist-type production relations take shape.

A people’s democratic revolution is the immediate stage or approach in the transition to socialist transformations. It completely solves the tasks of the bourgeois democratic revolution while at the same time creating a basically socialist type structure and a new people’s state led by the proletariat. All this alters the tasks and forms of development of the socialist revolution, which immediately follows a people’s democratic revolution, and creates peaceful conditions for the transition to socialism.


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