MANIFESTO-PROGRAM OF THE PARTY LEFT
A meeting in Milan to prepare the Florence Congress:
Days ago, in Milan, a meeting has taken place of a small number of comrades representing the extremist fractions and tendencies within the Italian Socialist Party. From this meeting the program-manifesto we are now publishing has been produced; it does not need any comment.
We merely notice that the participation of abstentionists to this movement cannot be a surprise for anyone. Back at the Bologna Congress a meeting of our fraction deliberated to propose an agreement to electionist communists, according to which they, apart from the electoral issue, accepted two other strongholds of our motion: the change of Party name and the expulsion of the social-democratic right. This step did not have a favourable outcome, because, as is well known, nobody wanted to give up the prejudice of Party unity, with the exception of us abstentionists.
Today, after the known events and after the International Communist Congress, the logical development of our action leads us to a loyal agreement with the Party’s revolutionary elements; with them, without difficulties and with no disagreement whatsoever, the project of common action that is today presented to all Italian comrades was drawn.
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TO THE COMRADES AND TO THE SECTIONS OF THE ITALIAN SOCIALIST PARTY
The crisis that for a long time has been afflicting our Party has received additional attention thanks to both the recent events in Italy and to the resolutions of the 2nd congress of the IIIrd International; it is therefore necessary and urgent, as the date of the National Party Congress is getting close, for the left elements of the Party itself to make a joint effort to abandon an intolerable situation, which is in contrast with the needs of the revolutionary struggle of the Italian proletariat.
All this induced us to become the promoters of a movement aimed at preparing the Congress and for an agreed understanding among all those comrades who veritably feel the need that the Congress indicates a definitive and strong solution for the serious problem.
We are not going to dwell in recalling the situation of our country. The conditions in which it participated to, and came out of the great world war, and the episodes of this troubled post war period, demonstrate even to our enemies the multiple symptoms of the irreparable disorganization of the present regime, and its incapability to fight the revolutionary consequences of its internal decomposition.
On the other hand the murmur, the feeling, the rebel impulse of the masses of all proletarian layers grow day by day, and manifest themselves in the continual agitations, in the fervour of the class battles; which are carried on with the aspiration, albeit merely instinctive, that such battles will in the end result in the final victory of the proletarian revolution.
The bourgeoisie, although conscious of its impotence to face the undoing of its social regime, concentrates its last energies in a defense against this advance of the revolutionary masses. On the one hand it organizes regular and irregular corps for the armed repression of workers risings, on the other it develops a shrewd policy of apparent concessions and fake benevolence towards the aspirations of the masses.
The organisms which lead the proletarian action, and whose duty is to develop a victorious opposition to this policy of bourgeois conservation, have several times unmistakably shown their inadequacy.
The union organization takes in large numbers of workers, that increase day by day, but while the latter in their struggles and strikes demonstrate that they feel the need to widen the battlefield and to move towards revolutionary conquests, the leading bureaucracy of the unions gives to the whole activity the traditional character of corporative struggles, restricting action within the boundaries of the pursuit of gradual improvements of the proletariat’s conditions of living.
As concerns the political party of the working class, the Socialist Party, which is supposed to sum up in itself the vanguard revolutionary energies, to impress a new character and a new direction to the struggle methods for the achievements of the maximum objectives of communism, it too manifests itself unsuited to the task.
It is certainly true that the majority of the Party, by adopting in Bologna the new maximalist program, and by giving its adhesion to Moscow’s International, believed to have responded to the requirements of the historical problem emerged after the end of the great war. This had everywhere set one against the other, the two antithetical conceptions of the proletarian struggle: the social-democratic one, dishonored by the failure of the IInd International and by its complicity with the bourgeoisies; and the communist one, which avails itself of the original Marxist statements and of the glorious experience of the Russian revolution which, organized in the new International, launched to the proletariat its revolutionary watchwords: violent struggle for the destruction of bourgeois power, for the proletarian dictatorship, for the regime of the workers’ councils.
As a matter of fact the Party, maybe deluded by the legitimate satisfaction for having kept during the war a quite different demeanour if compared to the other parties of the IInd International, did not understand that a formal program change had to be followed by a profound renewal of its structure and functions.
The events that followed demonstrated, thanks to circumstances that it is superfluous to recall, that the Party was far from being equal to the revolutionary task the historical situation was assigning to it.
It did not significantly modify the criteria of its politics; its mainly parliamentary action, by relying in the traditional pre-war methods, has often played the bourgeois government’s game.
In the moments when crucial decision had to be taken, old fashioned persons were left arbiters of the situation; the party was not able to take back from them the leadership of the union and parliamentary action, and we relapsed into the old methods of agreements and compromises. The disappointed proletarian masses are then in part turning to other revolutionary currents that militate outside the party, like syndicalists and anarchists, whose conceptions of the revolutionary process cannot agree with those of communists; and correctly criticize such a behavior, which is in deep contrast with the revolutionary necessities and with the revolutionary language of the same party leaders.
It is for the reasons given above, and for all other reasons that in several instances have been more extensively expounded by its left wing elements, that the Italian Socialist Party proved to be unsuited to his task; it is for these reasons that the International Moscow Congress, by accepting the requests of the Italian comrades who belong to a more advanced tendency, resolved to face clearly and firmly the issue of our party’s renewal, and has set the foundations on which our next congress will have to work to achieve such tasks.
Which are therefore the tasks of the next Congress? Which are the objectives we must give ourselves so that it bravely faces the disease and utilizes the most radical remedies, rather than wasting time in vain verbal skirmishes and shrewd lobbying? We believe that these objectives and intentions could and should be present in all comrades who share, together with the fundamental principles of communism, the desire to apply in the most determined way all Moscow’s resolutions to our party’s formation and activity.
These resolutions will be the common platform of action for those left wing groups and currents which, although separated over particular conceptions of certain issues of doctrine and tactics, share the criticisms moved, from a revolutionary point of view, to the insufficiency of Party action.
The program of common action we are suggesting in view of the Congress
can, in our opinion, be synthesized in the following main points:
1. Change of Party name into that of Communist Party of Italy (section of the Communist International).
2. Revision of the program voted in Bologna, some particular statements of which must be made more consistent with the principles of the Third International, so as to oppose it once more to the social-democratic program favored by the party right.
3. Consequent and formal exclusion from the Party of all members and organisms which have proclaimed, or will proclaim themselves, against the communist program through sections or Congress vote, or by means of any other type of expression.
4. Modification of internal party statutes to introduce into them the criteria of homogeneity as to centralization and discipline which are the indispensable basis of Communist Party structure; this by adopting innovations, such as a minimum waiting period for new party membership applications, and periodical membership reviews, the first to be made soon after the Congress.
5. Obligation for all Party members of total discipline of action towards all tactical decisions of both the International and the National Congress, the fulfilment of which will be the responsibility of the Central Committee, given full powers, as nominated by the Congress.
The guidelines of Party activity will be inspired by the enforcement of the criteria established by Moscow’s Congress, and in short will be the following:
a) Preparation of proletarian insurrectional action by exploiting all legal propaganda instruments, and by organizing at the same time on a broad basis illegal work, to create all indispensable conditions for action, and provide all necessary material means.
b) Organization, within all unions, leagues, cooperatives, factories, firms, etc., of communist groups, connected to party organization, for the propaganda in, and the conquest of, such organisms, and for the revolutionary preparation.
c) Action within the economic organizations to bring their leadership to the Communist Party. Appeal to revolutionary proletarian organizations which are outside the Confederazione Generale del Lavoro to return to support the struggle of communists against its present orientation and its present leaders. Rejection of the alliance agreement between Party and Confederation, which is inspired by the social-democratic criterium of parity of rights between party and trade union, to replace it with the actual control of the action of the proletarian economic organizations by the Communist Party through the discipline of communists who work inside the unions to the directions of the Communist Party. Separation of the Confederation, as soon as it is conquered to the Communist Party’s directions, from Amsterdam’s secretariat, and its joining the union section of the Communist International, according to the rules that are in the latter’s Statute.
d) Struggle to win over to the Communist Party the leadership of the movement of cooperative organization, to rid it from the present bourgeois and petty bourgeois influences and make it supportive of the proletarian revolutionary class movement.
e) Participation to political and administrative elections in a way
that is completely opposed to the old social-democratic practice, with
the objective of waging revolutionary propaganda and agitation, of hastening
the break-up of the bourgeois organs of representative democracy.
Revision, by the party organs, and under the direction of the Central Committee, of the composition of all party elective representations in municipalities, provinces and parliament, with the faculty of dissolving them. Control and permanent direction by the Central Committee of those that will be kept. The parliamentary group will be considered as the organ with the duty of carrying out a specific tactical function under the guidance of the party central. It will not have the faculty to express its opinion, as a separate body, on issues involving party’s general politics.
f) Control of all propaganda activity by the central organs, and in particular disciplining of all party press organs, the managing committees of which will be nominated or confirmed by the Central Committee, which will control their activity in accordance with the political directions of congresses.
g) Close contact with the youth movement, according to the guidelines
provided by the statute of the Communist International; intensification
of propaganda and organization among women.
We believe that these general guidelines of the program for common action will receive the approval of all communists, which will actively contribute to assure its triumph in the coming party meetings through a broad agitation and the organization of all forces that will move to this ground.
To work then, comrades, beyond false unitarian sentimentalism, beyond
miserable personal issues, for the cause of communist revolution to triumph
Milano, October 1920.