There corresponds to this also a political transition period in which the state can be nothing but the revolutionary dictatorship of the proletariat." The overall character of this period is supplied by Marx's statement that "What we have to deal with here is a communist society, not as it has developed on its own foundations, but on the contrary, just as it emerges from capitalist society: which is thus in every respect still stamped with the birthmarks of the old society from whose womb it emerges." This first stage is the necessary gestation period for full communism: is it as time when the people who have destroyed capitalism are engaged in the task of total reconstruction.
As a way of life and organization it has traits in common with both capitalism and full communism and Marx never indicates how long this may takethe first stage gives way gradually almost imperceptibly to the second.
Whether describing communism can help raise proletarian class consciousness is a more difficult question.
There is no doubt in my mind that getting works to understand their exploitation as a fundamental and necessary fact of the capitalist system, the avowed aim of most of Marx's writings is the "high road" to class consciousness.
Still general and incomplete, the secret of the future revealed in Marx's masterly analysis of capitalist society is a secret whose time has come, and publicizing it has become another means of bringing the human fulfillment it portrays into existence.
Marx divides the communist future into halves, a first stage generally referred to as the "dictatorship of the proletariat" and a second stage usually called "full communism." The historical boundaries of the first stage are set in the claim that: "Between capitalist and communist society lies the period of the revolutionary transformation of the one into the other.Our main sources of Marx's views on the dictatorship of the proletariat are the Communist Manifesto, the "Critique of the Gotha Program," and "Civil War in France," in which he discusses the reforms of the Paris Commune.In the Communist Manifesto, there are ten measures that workers' parties are urged to put into effect immediately after their victory over the capitalists.It is a picture in which many pieces are missing and other so vague as to be practically undecipherable.Yet, what is left is a more complete and coherent whole than most people have thought to exist.Despite some serious temptations, I have not gone beyond Marx's actual words in piecing together the components of the communist society. On occasion, however, when all the evidence points to a particular conclusion, I am not averse to stating it.It is this effort to reconstruct Marx's vision of the future open to the same criticism that kept Marx from presenting his own views on this subject in a more organized manner? No one today is likely to confuse Marxism, even with the addition of an explicit conception of communism, with other socialist schools whose very names are difficult to recall.Marx's communist society is in the anomalous position of being, at one and the same time, the most famous of utopias and among the least known.And, while no one disputes the importance of Marx's vision of communism to Marxism, the vision itself remains clouded and unclear.As for only being able to know the broad outlines of communism, this is as true now as it was in Marx's time.But whereas presenting this outline then could only reflect negatively on Marxism as a whole, this is no longer the case, for the intervening century had brought pieces of Marx's horizon underfoot and made the most of the restas I have indicatedeasier to see and comprehend.