1958 Introduction to Facing Reality

From Facing Reality, by C.L.R. James, Grace C. Lee, Pierre Chaulieu [pseudonym of Cornelius Castoriadis] (Detroit: Bewick/Ed, 1974, orig. 1958), pp. 5-6. The CLR James Institute.

The whole world today lives in the shadow of the state power. This state power is an ever‑present self‑perpetuating body over and above society. It transforms the human personality into a mass of economic needs to be satisfied by decimal points of economic progress. It robs everyone of initiative and clogs the free development of society. This state power, by whatever name it is called, One‑Party State or Welfare State, destroys all pretense of government by the people, of the people. All that remains is government for the people.

Against this monster, people all over the world, and particularly ordinary working people in factories, mines, fields, and offices, are rebelling every day in ways of their own invention. Sometimes their struggles are on a small personal scale. More effectively, they are the actions of groups, formal or informal, but always unofficial, organized around their work and their place of work. Always the aim is to regain control over their own conditions of life and their relations with one another. Their strivings, their struggles, their methods have few chroniclers. They themselves are constantly attempting various forms of organization, uncertain of where the struggle is going to end. Nevertheless, they are imbued with one fundamental certainty, that they have to destroy the continuously mounting bureaucratic mass or be themselves destroyed by it.

For some years after the war it seemed that the totalitarian state, by its control of every aspect of human life, had crushed forever all hopes for freedom, for liberty and socialism. Men struggled, but under the belief that the Welfare State was in reality only a half­way house to the ultimate totalitarian domination. A symbolical date was even fixed when this would be achieved all over the world, 1984.

Now, however, the Hungarian Revolution has uncovered, for the whole world to see, the goal to which the struggles against bureaucracy are moving. The Hungarian people have restored the belief of the Nineteenth Century in progress. They have restored to the revolutionary socialist movement the conviction that the future lies with the power of the working class and the great masses of the people.

It must never be forgotten that the Hungarian Revolution was successful as no other revolution in history was successful. The totalitarian state was not merely defeated. It was totally destroyed and the counter‑revolution crushed. It is the totality of the success which enabled the workers to do so much before the revolution was robbed of its victory by Russian tanks from outside. What then was the great achievement of the revolution?

By the total uprising of a people, the Hungarian Revolution has disclosed the political form which not only destroys the bureaucratic state power, but substitutes in its place a socialist democracy, based not on the control of people but on the mastery of things. This political form is the Workers Councils, embracing the whole of the working population from bottom to top, organized at the source of all power, the place of work, making all decisions in the shop or in the office.

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