Two strategic hypotheses
A large part of Bensaïd’s analysis of socialist strategy concerns two broad strategic hypotheses that, in his view, emerged during the experience of twentieth-century revolution. These are the “insurrectional general strike” of the type seen in Paris Commune and the Russian October 1917 revolution, and a “prolonged people’s war” on the model of the Chinese and Vietnamese revolutions.
Noting that these two variants are found in various combinations, Bensaïd provides an insightful survey of revolutionary projects in Latin America from the Cuban to the Nicaraguan experiences. (pp. 76–84)
The concept of an insurrectional general strike, he says, guided most revolutionary movements in developed countries during the 1960s and 1970s, the years of radical upsurge. Such a strike would permit workers’ power to be established through a transitional process of dual power, in which “legitimacy would be transferred to forms of direct or participative democracy.” (p. 84) Bensaïd is referring to soviet-type structures similar to what emerged in Russia in 1905 and 1917. The weakness of such formations, he says, is their possible “corporatist logic, [as] a pyramidal summation of particularist interests – of a locality, factory, or office.” The mediation of a multi-party system is needed “to develop particular viewpoints into global proposals.” (p. 85)
Bensaïd advises dropping the term “dictatorship” as a description for workers’ rule: the word has become a “fetish” that only generates confusion, he says. However, he defends the underlying concept as developed by Marx and Lenin of the need for “a new legal framework, expressing new social relations, which cannot be born from the continuity of the old law.” (p. 89) There will necessarily be a “break in continuity, including with regard to law, between two forms of rule and two legitimacies.” (p. 91) The triumph of the new legal framework can only be achieved by the application of force by the working-class majority.