On the New Edition of Marx’s Critique of the Gotha Program: Voice of a Worker from India

Lalan Kishor Singh

Summary: Remarks by a worker activist from Nagpur, India at the March 18, 2023 conference on the new edition Marx’s Critique of the Gotha Program, sponsored by the International Marxist-Humanist Organization. Translated from the Hindi – Editors

Today, as we are participating in this discussion, is the anniversary of the Paris Commune. Therefore, we first of all extend revolutionary greetings to all those martyred working comrades of the Paris Commune, as well as those in the IMHO. Let’s also congratulate our colleagues for choosing today for the discussion. The workers of the Paris Commune are definitely giving this message to the workers of the world: change in the world is possible only if the struggle for change is started honestly.

The workers of Paris realized that exploitation, profit, and surplus value would end in society only when the state was completely abolished. Because of this, there used to be a deep discussion among the laborers before any decision was taken. It was an internal decision of the workers. There was no decision from outside. This is what the workers of the Paris Commune are teaching the workers of the world. Change in the world is possible only through the decision of the workers and their own organization, in which the destruction of the state is absolutely necessary for communism and socialism.

In the philosophy of Karl Marx, the destruction of the state is something special, in which he (Marx) has not been stingy to criticize. For example, the criticism of Proudhon and Hegel is based on argumentative strategy characteristic of Karl Marx: Let’s find the disease by going to its root. So, Marx goes to the root of the disease. Investigate and then criticize. This was his specialty, criticizing mercilessly and vehemently. This is what Marx also does in his Critique of the Gotha Program. On one hand, he criticizes the Gotha program and on the other hand, he talks about useful labor, while nature is not ignored, but also linked to human labor.

This new edition of the Critique of the Gotha Program has been brought out on behalf of the International Marxist Humanist Organization, in which many things have been clearly laid out. Even after the publication of the book, our question remains the same as the one we asked Marx before (Lalan, “Let’s Ask Karl Marx! A Few questions on Marx’s Critique of the Gotha Program,” International Marxist-Humanist, Sept. 24, 2022 https://imhojournal.org/articles/lets-ask-karl-marx-a-few-questions-on-marxs-critique-of-the-gotha-program/ ) Maybe you guys are aware of our main question.

Now, without going into his criticisms in detail, here are the points that were lacking in the Gotha Program, and on which Marx focused his Critique:

(a) The Gotha program is not focused on the situation of the class but on the situation within the nation.

(b) Not a word is mentioned about the international responsibility of the working class.

(c) International trade unions, it says, cannot attempt such activities to build power.

(d) The statement on the abolition of all social and political inequalities is not clear.

(e) Lack of an economic and social philosophy. Socialism has been kept in the form of a cap that can be used and worn as needed.

(f) It does not see the preceding work of the First International, especially on the abolition of the class system.

(g) Our work, our declaration that communist politics, is the only thing that will work.

Summing up, what is the gist of Marx’s Critique of the Gotha Program?

1) The abolition of private ownership of the means of production, which existed for thousands of years. It has been the basis of conflict between social classes.

(2) The internal contradictions of capitalism have been highlighted, and the elements leading to its destruction have been identified.

(3) Labor cannot be understood without analyzing the price of labor power, considering the value added to the price.

(4) The attainment of political democracy will not lead to the liberation of humanity.

(5) There should be an independent movement of the working class that has an international outlook.

(6) The conservatives involved in the Gotha Program advocated a form of socialism opposed to the Marxist approach. Instead, the Program took a confused liberal approach.

(7) Human beings will take from society according to their needs and will give to society according to the needs of the society. In this way everything will be transparent and nothing will belong to anyone either as personal property or as capital goods.

Back to the current situation: Politics is unfolding all over the world as a quest for power. This power works for the capitalist system. The system looks after the interests of capital. Capital gains are based on the market. Capital today has become a parasite, making the whole world sit on a pile of gunpowder to capture the market. The direct proof of this is seen in situations like the Russia-Ukraine war or the India-Pakistan enmity. China prepares to attack Taiwan and North Korea flexes its nuclear weaponry.

At the time that Marx was criticizing the Gotha Program, he was not faced with the troubles and problems that we are all facing today. Capital has taken the form of a monster that swallows humanity and human labor, something on which scientist Stephen Hawking has also expressed his opinion. Along with the Critique of the Gotha Program, we also have to pay attention to those points that are correct in the interest of humanity and from the Marxist point of view, in which living labor is considered its strength. We need to keep technological progress under control so that the dead labor that takes the form of capital can be prevented from taking over in destructive fashion. Here are some key points: (1) extraction of value, (2) nature in danger; (3) artificial intelligence, (4) destruction of the universe, (5) competition over communications in space, etc. To keep humanity alive, the workers of the world should consider the formation of an international workers organization based on the kind of internationalist approach that emerges from the essence of Marx’s Critique of the Gotha Program.


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