The fact that it is necessary to strengthen and develop the socialist state does not mean that it will exist for ever. As socialist statehood develops, […] it will gradually become communist self-government of the people which will embrace the Soviets, trade unions, cooperatives, and other mass organisations of the people.Needless to say, public functions similar to those performed by the state today in the sphere of economic and cultural management will be preserved under communism. They will be modified and perfected as society develops. But their character and the ways in which they are carried out will be different from those under socialism. The state bodies lose their political character as society moves towards communism. With time they will merge with society and become organs of public self-government through which all members of society will participate in economic and cultural management. The state will wither away.
It would be incorrect, however, to imagine that the withering away of the state and the transformation of state administration into public self-government under communism will take place suddenly and all at once. The withering away of the state is a long, gradual process covering an entire historical epoch. For a certain period elements of state administration and public self-government will coexist and intertwine, and the need for the state will disappear only when society becomes fully mature for self– government, i.e., under developed communism. “The state will be able to wither away completely when society adopts the rule: ’From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs’, Le., when people have become so accustomed to observing the fundamental rules of social intercourse and when their labour has become so productive that they will voluntarily work according to their ability.
”The internal condition for the withering away of the state is the building of developed communist society. But there have to be external conditions too for the state to wither away, namely the victory and consolidation of socialism on the international scene. When speaking about the withering away of the state it is necessary to take the international situation into account. If communism triumphs in one or another country or a group of countries, but armed imperialist predators continue to exist in the world, then the communist society will definitely retain the state function of defending the country. This function will become obsolete only when the threat of an attack by reactionary imperialist forces disappears for ever.
As stated, it will take an entire historical epoch for the transition from socialism to a communist society, whereby the structure of society will change with the development of a much higher stage, in the development of mans’ consciousnesses that must and will take place. Certainly the developed stage of communism will not be achieved until the revolution has succeeded worldwide. The previous socialist states never had this luxury. Thus the withering away of the state will not be achieved before this process unfolds.