Nature, Function and Tactics of the Revolutionary Party of the Working Class
In: "Prometeo", n° 7, May-June 1947
The question relating to the tactics of the party is of fundamental importance and will be clarified in relation to the history of the disagreements in tendency and direction which occurred in the II and III Internationals.
We must not regard the question as being secondary or derivative in nature, in the sense that groups who are in agreement on the doctrine and the program may, without affecting those basics, support and apply different directions in action, albeit with respect to transient episodes.
To pose problems relating to the nature and action of the party signifies moving from the field of critical interpretation of social processes to that of the influence that these processes may exert on a force that is actively engaged. The transition is the most important and delicate point of the whole Marxist system and was framed in the youthful sentences of Marx:
This passage from pure knowledge to active intervention should be understood according to the dialectical materialist method in a manner totally different from that of followers of traditional ideologies. All too often it has been useful to the opponents of communism to exploit the Marxist theoretical background in order to sabotage and disavow the consequences of action and battle, that is, from the opposite perspective, to appear to adhere to the practice of the proletarian party while challenging and rejecting its fundamental principles. In all these cases the deviation was the consequence of anti-classist and counter-revolutionary influences, and expressed itself in crises as what we shall call, for the sake of brevity, opportunism.
Principles and doctrines do not exist for themselves as a fundament that emerges and establishes itself before action; the former and the latter are formed through a parallel process. In practice, competing material interests push social groups into struggle, and the action that arises from such material interests forms the theory that becomes the characteristic inheritance of the party. If the relationships between these interests, the incentives towards action and their practical directions are brushed aside, then the doctrine of the party is brushed aside and deformed.
To think that this might be made sacred and inviolable through its codification in a programmatic text and by means of a strict organizational and disciplinary body of the party organism, and that we can therefore agree to a variety and multiplicity of directions and maneuvers in tactical action, implies not seeing in a Marxist way what is the real problem to be resolved to arrive at the choice of methods of action.
We return to the determinist analysis. Do social events unfold through uncontrollable forces, giving rise to diverse ideologies, theories and opinions among men, or can they be modified according to the more or less conscious wish of men themselves? This question is dealt with by the proletarian party’s own method, with which it radically brushes aside traditional thinking, which always refers to the isolated individual, claiming to resolve the question for the individual and then to deduce from this the solution for society as a whole; whereas on the contrary, you must move the question from the individual to the collectivity. The “collectivity” is always understood by the other metaphysical abstraction to mean the society of all men, whereas in the Marxist sense we must understand collectivity as the concretely defined group of individuals who, in a given historical situation have, through their social relations, that is to say in relation to their position in production and in the economy, parallel interests; groupings that are in fact called classes.
For the many social classes that human history presents, the problem of their ability to understand the process in which they live, or to exercise a certain degree of influence over it, is not resolved in one and the same generic way. Each historical class has had its own party, its own system of opinions and of propaganda; each one has claimed with the same insistence to interpret the meaning of events precisely, and to be able to direct them towards a more or less vaguely conceived objective. Marxism provides the critique and the explanation for all of these approaches and points of view, showing that the various ideological generalizations were the reflection of the conditions and the interests of classes in conflict, expressed through opinions.
In this continuous change, whose engines are material interests, whose protagonists are groupings in class parties and governmental organisms, and whose outward appearances are political and philosophical schools, the modern proletarian class, once the social conditions for its formation have matured, presents itself with new and superior capabilities, whether in terms of its possession of a non-superficial interpretation of historical movement in its entirety, or in terms of the concrete efficacy of its action in social and political struggle in influencing the general unfolding of this movement.
This other fundamental concept was set out
by Marxists with the classic and notable phrases:
“With the proletarian revolution human society emerges from its prehistory”
“The socialist revolution constitutes the world’s passage from necessity to freedom”.
It is, therefore, not to continue to ask, in banal traditional terms, the question of whether man is free in his will or determined by the external environment, if a class and its party are conscious of their historic mission, and derive from this theoretical consciousness the power to implement it with a view to bringing about a general improvement, or are drawn into the struggle, into success or disaster, by higher or unknown forces. You must first ask what classes and what parties they are, what are their relations in the field of productive forces and state powers, what is the historical path already taken, and what is the path that, according to the results of critical analysis, remains to be taken.
According to the doctrine of religious schools, the cause of events lies outside of man, in God the creator, who has decided everything and who has also decided to concede a degree of liberty of action to the individual, for which he must therefore answer in the afterlife. It is well known that Marxist social analysis has completely abandoned such a resolution of the problem of the will and determinism.
But also the solution offered by bourgeois philosophy, with its claims to enlightenment critique and its illusion of having eliminated all arbitrary and revealed premises, remains equally misleading, because the problem of action is always reduced to the relationship between subject and object, and in the ancient and recent versions of the various idealistic systems the point of departure is sought in the individual subject, in the “I”, precisely in which resides the mechanism of his thought and which then translates successively in the interventions of this “I” upon the natural and social environment. From this comes the political and legal lie of the bourgeois system, according to which man is free and, as a citizen, has the right to govern the commonweal according to the opinion born inside his head and therefore also his own interests.
If it has thus thrown out all transcendent influence and every divine revelation, the Marxist interpretation of history and of human action has with no less decisiveness capsized the bourgeois schema of liberty and individual will, showing that it is the individual’s needs and interests that explain his movement and action, and that his opinions and beliefs and what is called his conscience are only determined as the final effect of more complicated influences.
Really, it is when we pass from the metaphysical concept of conscience and the will of the “I” to the real and scientific concept of theoretical conscience and the historical and political action of the class party, that the problem is posed clearly, and we can address the solution.
This solution has an original repercussion for the movement and the party of the modern proletariat, in that for the first time a social class appears which is not only driven to break up old systems and the old political and legal forms that impede the development of productive forces (a revolutionary task which preceding classes also had), but carries out its struggle not in order to set up a new dominant class, but to establish productive relations which allow the elimination of economic pressure and the exploitation of one class by another.
Therefore the proletariat has at its disposal superior historical clarity, and in directing society, exercises more direct influence over events than the classes that preceded it could exercise.
This historical attitude and new faculty of the class party of the proletariat should be followed through the complex process of its manifestation in the sequence of historical events that the proletarian movement has encountered to date.
The revisionism of the Second International, which gave room for opportunism through the collaboration with bourgeois governments in both war and peace, was the manifestation of the influence that the peaceful and apparently progressive phase of the bourgeois world had on the proletariat towards the end of the 19th Century. At the time it seemed that the expansion of capitalism was not leading, as had been set out in Marx’s classic schema, to the inexorable aggravation of class antagonisms and of exploitation and proletarian immiseration. It seemed, when the limits of the capitalist world could still be extended without arousing violent crises, that the standard of living of the working classes could gradually improve within the bourgeois system itself. Theoretically, reformism elaborated a scheme of evolution that would avoid a clash between capitalist and proletarian economic interests; practically, and consistently with the theory, it stated that the proletarian party could exert a positive influence, winning partial advances through the day-to-day trade union, cooperative, administrative and legislative activity, which would in addition expand the number of nuclei of the future socialist system within the body of the current one, which would gradually transform it in its entirety.
The idea of the task of the party was no longer that of a movement that would make everything dependent on the preparation of a final effort to attain the final goals, but was transformed into a substantially voluntarist and pragmatic idea, in the sense that day-to-day work was presented as a solid and definitive fulfillment, and counterposed against the emptiness of the passive expectation of a great future success that should arise from revolutionary struggle.
No less voluntaristic, also for its declared adherence to more recent bourgeois philosophies, was the syndicalist school of thought. Even if it spoke of open class conflict and the removal and abolition of the very bourgeois state mechanism that the reformists wanted to permeate with socialism, in reality, by localizing the struggle and social transformation to individual manufacturing companies, syndicalism also believed that proletarians would be able to successively establish lots of victorious positions within islands of the capitalist world. The theory of factory councils put forward by the Italian movement of Ordine Nuovo, in which the international and historical unity of the class movement and of social transformation is fragmented in a series of positional gains within elements of the productive economy, in the name of a concrete and analytical preparation for action, was really a derivation of the syndicalist concept.
Returning to gradualist revisionism, it is clear that, as the maximum programmatic realization of the party’s action was relegated to a secondary role, while partial and daily conquests were accorded the primary role, so the well-known tactic came to be publicly advocated of alliances and coalitions with groups and political parties that would from time to time consent to supporting the partial demands and reforms put forward by the proletarian party.
Even then, there was the substantial objection to this approach: that the alliance of the party with others, in a front which the political world divided into two on specific issues arising in the actuality of the moment, consequently distorted the party, clouding its theoretical clarity, weakening its organization and impairing its ability to frame the struggle of the proletarian masses in the revolutionary phase of the conquest of power.
The nature of the political struggle is such that the alliance of forces in two camps separated by opposing solutions to a unique contingent problem, polarizing all the actions of groups around this passing interest and this immediate purpose, and overwhelming any programmatic propaganda and any coherence with traditional principles, will determine orientations within militant groups that directly reflect and translate the demand for which they are fighting in an unrefined manner.
The task of the party, which was apparently a peaceful one to the socialists of the classical epoch, should have been to reconcile its intervention on specific issues and contingent victories with the conservation of its programmatic physiognomy and its ability to move on the terrain of its own struggle towards the general and final goal of the proletarian class. In effect, reformist practice not only made proletarians forget their class and revolutionary preparation, but led the very leaders and theoreticians of the movement to exalt it, proclaiming that there was now no longer the need to worry about maximum objectives, that the final revolutionary crisis predicted by Marxism was also itself reducing to utopia, and that what mattered was daily conquests. The common currency of reformists and syndicalists was: “the goal is nothing, the movement is everything”.
The crisis in this method presented itself powerfully with the war. This destroyed the presupposed ever greater historical enduring nature of capitalist dominion, since the accumulated collective resources of the bourgeoisie, in small part handed over to the apparent improvement of the standard of economic life of the masses, were thrown into the furnace of war, so that not only all of the end-effects of reformist improvements vanished in the economic crisis, but the very lives of millions of proletarians were sacrificed. At the same time, while the still healthy section of the socialist movement deceived itself into thinking that such a violent representation of capitalist barbarism would have elicited the return of proletarian groups from a position of collaboration to one of open general struggle on the central question of the destruction of the bourgeois system, on the contrary, it was the crisis and failure of all, or nearly all, international proletarian organization.
The deferment of the agitational front and of immediate action that occurred in the years of reformist practice revealed itself as a fatal weakness, seeing as the class’s maximum objectives ended up being forgotten and incomprehensible for proletarians. The tactical method of accepting the alliance of parties in two opposing coalitions according to country and employing the most diverse variety of slogans (for a greater freedom of organization, for the extension of the right to vote, for the nationalization of some economic sectors etc. etc.) was amply exploited by the dominant class to ill-fated effect, encouraging those political formations within the leadership of the proletariat who represented social-patriotic degeneration.
Cleverly using the popularity accorded to the non-classist propaganda postulates of the Second International’s large parties with their powerful mass organizations, it proved easy to throw their political preparation off course, demonstrating that it was in the interest of the proletariat, and even its road to socialism, to defend other outcomes at the same time, such as German civilization against feudal and theocratic Tsarism, or Western democracy against Teutonic militarism.
As a result of the Russian Revolution, the Third International responded to this disastrous direction for the workers’ movement. It must however be said, that if the restoration of revolutionary values was impressive and complete as far as doctrinal principals, theoretical training and the central question of state power were concerned, the systematic organization of the new International and training in its tactics and that of its member parties was, on the contrary, not similarly complete.
The critique of the opportunists of the Second International was nevertheless absolute and decisive, not only with regard to their total abandonment of Marxist principles, but also with regard to their tactic of coalition and collaboration with bourgeois governments and parties.
It was made abundantly clear that the particularist and temporary direction given to the old socialist parties had not led in the slightest to assuring the workers of small benefits and material improvements in exchange for the renunciation of preparing and carrying out the total attack on bourgeois institutions and power. Instead, by compromising both the minimum and maximum programs it led to an even worse situation, i.e. the use of proletarians’ organizations, forces, combativity, personnel and lives to achieve goals that were not the political and historical goals of their class, but led instead to the strengthening of capitalist imperialism. During the war capitalist imperialism had thus overcome, for at least an entire historical phase, the intrinsic threat posed by the contradictions of its productive mechanism, and had also overcome the political crisis wrought by the war and its repercussions by means of the subjugation to itself of the trade union and political formations of the opposing class, by means of the politics of national coalitions.
This amounted, according to Leninist critique, to a complete distortion of the role and function of the proletarian party, which is not there to save the bourgeois fatherland or the institutions of so-called bourgeois freedom from declared dangers, but to keep the workers’ forces deployed on the movement’s own general line of direction, which must culminate in the total conquest of political power, breaking the bourgeois state.
In the war’s immediate aftermath, when the so-called subjective conditions for the revolution (i.e. the effectiveness of the organization and parties of the proletariat) seemed unfavorable, but the objective conditions appeared to be favorable, as the crisis of the bourgeois world was fully exposed, the task was to improve the subjective conditions through the prompt reorganization of the revolutionary International.
The process was dominated, as it must be, by the great historical reality of the first working class revolutionary victory in Russia, which had made it possible to bring broad communist aims into the clear light of day. But it would draw the tactics of communist parties, which in other countries brought together groups of socialists opposed to the wartime opportunism, into direct imitation of the tactics victoriously applied in Russia by the Bolshevik party in its conquest of power through the historic struggle from February to November 1917.
From the outset this approach gave rise to important debates about the tactical methods of the International, and especially the one called the "united front", consisting of frequent invitations to other proletarian and socialist parties to joint agitation and action, with the goal of highlighting the inadequacy of the method of those parties and moving their traditional influence over the masses to the advantage of the communists.
In fact, despite the open warnings of the Italian Left and other oppositionist groups, the leaders of the International did not realize that this tactic of the united front, by pushing revolutionary organizations alongside social-democratic, social-patriotic and opportunist organizations, from which they were hardly distinguishable as an inflexible opposition, not only would disorient the masses, rendering the advantages that they were expecting from this tactic impossible, but would – which was even more serious – pollute the revolutionary parties themselves. It is true that the revolutionary party is the best and the least constrained factor in history, but it does not cease to be at the same time a product of history, and undergoes mutations and repositionings with every modification of social forces. We cannot think of the tactical problem as the handling of a weapon, which, pointed in whatever direction, stays the same; the tactics of the party influence and change the party itself. If no tactic can be condemned in the name of a priori dogmas, as a precondition every tactic must be analyzed and discussed in the light of a question such as this: in earning an eventual greater influence of the party over the masses, won’t the character of the party be compromised, together with its ability to lead these masses to the final objective?
The adoption of the united front tactic on the part of the Third International meant, in reality, that also the Communist International entered on the path of opportunism that had led the Second International to defeat and liquidation. Characteristic of the opportunist tactic had been the sacrifice of the final and total victory to partial and contingent successes; the tactic of the united front revealed itself as opportunistic, as in reality it sacrificed the primary and irreplaceable guarantee of the total and final victory (the revolutionary potential of the class party) to contingent action that should have assured momentary and partial advantages to the proletariat (increasing the influence of the party over the masses and greater compactness of the proletariat in the struggle for the gradual improvement of its material conditions and for the maintenance of any actual achievements).
In the situation after the First World War, which appeared objectively revolutionary, the leadership of the International became guided by the concern – which was not unfounded – of finding itself unprepared and poorly followed within the masses at the outbreak of a general European movement that could lead to the conquest of power in some of the large capitalist countries. The possibility of a rapid collapse of the capitalist world was so important for the Leninist International, which today we understand as the hope of being able to direct vaster masses in the struggle for the European revolution, that it was too free in the acceptance of the adherence of movements that were not true communist parties and it searched, in the elastic tactic of the united front, to maintain contact with the masses who were outside the hierarchy of parties oscillating between conservatism and revolution.
If the favorable outcome has occurred, the consequences for the politics and the economy of the first proletarian power in Russia would have been sufficiently powerful to allow the very rapid restoration of the national and international organizations of the communist parties.
Given that the less favorable outcome had occurred, i.e. the re-establishment of capitalism, instead of this the revolutionary proletariat had to resume the struggle and the course with a movement which, having sacrificed its own clear political preparation and its own homogeneity of composition and organization, was exposed to new opportunist degenerations.
But the mistake that opened the Third International’s doors to the new and more serious opportunist wave was not just a mistake in calculating the future likelihood of the proletariat becoming revolutionary; it was a mistake of preparation and of historical interpretation consisting in the desire to generalize the experiences and methods of Russian bolshevism, applying them to countries with a much more advanced bourgeois and capitalist civilization. The Russia that existed before February 1917 was still a feudal Russia in which the capitalist productive forces were held back under the weight of old relations of production: it was obvious that in this situation, similar to that of France in 1789 and Germany in 1848, the proletarian party had to fight against Tsarism even if it seemed impossible to avoid the consequence that after its overthrow, a bourgeois capitalist regime would establish itself; and as a consequence it was likewise obvious that the Bolshevik party could accept contacts with other political groupings, contacts made necessary by the struggle against Tsarism. Between February and October 1917, the Bolshevik party observed that the objective conditions were favorable for a much more ambitious project: that of grafting the revolutionary conquest of power by the proletariat on the destruction of Tsarism. It therefore hardened its tactical positions, adopting open and ruthless positions against all the other political formations, from the reactionary advocates of a return to Tsarism and feudalism, to the Socialist Revolutionaries and Mensheviks. But the fact that an effective return of reactionary absolutist and theocratic feudalism could be feared, and the fact that the state and political formations in the hands of, or influenced by, the bourgeoisie no longer had the strength and capacity to attract and absorb autonomous proletarian forces in the extremely fluid and unstable situation, put the Bolshevik Party in a position to be able to accept contacts and provisional accords with other organizations having a proletarian following, as happened during the Kornilov episode.
The Bolshevik Party, in building the united front against Kornilov, was in reality struggling against a return of reactionary feudalism and, moreover, it had nothing to fear in terms of succumbing to the influence of the greater strength of the Menshevik and Socialist Revolutionary organizations, nor in terms of a solid state power benefiting from the contingent alliance with the Bolsheviks in order to then turn against them.
The situation and the balance of forces were completely different in the countries with an advanced bourgeois culture. In these countries one could no longer imagine (and all the more so today) the prospect of a reactionary return to feudalism, and therefore every possible objective of common action with other parties is absent. Moreover, in these countries state power and bourgeois groupings were consolidated in their success and the tradition of dominion to such an extent that you could well predict that the autonomous organizations of the proletariat, if pushed towards frequent and close contacts for the united front tactic, would be exposed to an almost inevitable influence and absorption by those bourgeois forces.
Ignoring this profound difference between the situations, and wanting to apply the Bolsheviks’ tactical methods in the advanced countries, which were adapted to the situation of the nascent bourgeois regime in Russia, led the Communist International into a series of ever greater disasters, and finally to its inglorious liquidation.
The tactic of the united front was driven into making commitments that were different from the party’s program on the problem of the state, supporting the demand for, and realization of, workers’ governments, and therefore of governments formed from mixed delegations of communists and social democrats, who came together in power via the normal parliamentary routes, without violently breaking the bourgeois state apparatus. Such talk of workers’ government was presented at the 5th Congress of the Communist International as the logical and natural corollary of the united front; and it was applied in Germany, resulting in a serious defeat for the German proletariat and its communist party.
With the open and progressive degeneration of the International after the 4th Congress, the watchword of the united front served to introduce the perverse tactic of forming electoral blocs with parties that were not only non-communist, but even non-proletarian, creating popular fronts, supporting bourgeois governments, in other words – and this is where the most recent issue arises – of proclaiming that in situations where the bourgeois fascist counter-offensive had obtained the monopoly of power, the workers’ party, suppressing the struggle for its own specific ends, had to form the left wing of an anti-fascist coalition no longer embracing proletarian parties alone, but also bourgeois and liberal parties with the objective of combating bourgeois totalitarian regimes and putting in place coalition governments of all the bourgeois and proletarian parties opposed to fascism after their fall. Starting with the united front of the proletarian class, we thus arrive at national unity of all the classes, bourgeois and proletarian, dominant and dominated, exploiting and exploited. That is to say, starting from a debatable and contingent tactical movement, having the absolute autonomy of the communist and revolutionary organizations as its declared precondition, we arrive at the effective liquidation of this autonomy and the negation not just of Bolshevik revolutionary intransigence, but also of Marxist class consciousness itself.
This progressive development on the one hand resulted in a gratuitous contrast with the tactical theses of the first congresses of the International themselves and the classical solutions supported by Lenin in Left-wing communism: An infantile disorder, and on the other hand, after the experience of 20-plus years of life of the International, authorized the assertion that the enormous deviation beyond the first aim resulted, in parallel with the adverse sequence of events of the anti-capitalist revolutionary struggle, from the initially inadequate formulation of the tactical tasks of the party.
Today it is possible to conclude, without recalling the totality of the key arguments from the texts of the contemporary discussions, that the balance-sheet of over-elastic and over-manipulated tactics not only had negative results, but was ruinous.
The communist parties under the leadership of the Comintern tried repeatedly and in all countries to use the situations in a revolutionary way with united front maneuvers, and successively opposed themselves to the so-called triumph of the bourgeois right with the tactic of left-wing blocs. The tactic only provoked resounding defeats. From Germany to France, to China and Spain, they not only failed to move the masses away from opportunist parties and from bourgeois or petty-bourgeois influence to revolutionary and communist influence, they also succeeded in turning the game in the interest of anti-communists. The communist parties either became the object, when the coalitions broke down, of ruthless reactionary attacks by their former allies, bringing them the heaviest defeats in their attempt to struggle alone, or were absorbed into coalitions, or degenerated totally, to the extent that they became practically indistinguishable from the opportunist parties.
It is true that, between 1928 and 1934 a phase took place in which the Comintern went back to the slogan of autonomous positions and independent struggle, returning all of a sudden to the polemical and oppositional front against bourgeois leftist and social-democratic currents. But this brusque tactical volte face only produced the most absolute disorientation in the communist parties, and did not offer a single historical success in the annihilation of either the fascist counter-offensive or the joint actions of bourgeois coalitions against the proletariat. The cause of these failures must lie in the fact that successive tactical slogans rained down on the parties and through their cadres with the character of unexpected surprises, without any preparation of communist organization to the various outcomes. In order to foresee the full spectrum of situations and responses, the tactical plans of the party cannot and must not become an esoteric monopoly of supreme hierarchies, but must be rigidly coordinated with theoretical coherence, with the political conscience of militants, in the traditions of the movement’s development, and must permeate the organization in such a way that they are prepared in advance and can foresee what will be the reactions of the unitary structure of the party to the favorable or unfavorable sequence of events in the struggle’s development. To expect something more and different from the party, and to believe that the party will not be smashed by unexpected turns of the helm, is not the same thing as having a more comprehensive and revolutionary concept, but clearly, as demonstrated by concrete historical comparisons, it is the classic process that ends up in opportunism, whereby the revolutionary party either dissolves and is shipwrecked against the defeatist influence of bourgeois politics, or is more easily exposed and disarmed in the face of repressive initiatives.
When the level of development in society and the direction of events lead the proletariat to serve ends that are not its own, consisting of the false revolutions which the bourgeoisie now and again pretends to need, it is opportunism that wins; the class party falls into crisis, its direction passes over to bourgeois influences, and the recovery of the proletarian path cannot happen except with the split away from the old parties, the formation of new nuclei and the national and international reconstruction of proletarian political organization.
In conclusion, the tactic that the international proletarian party will apply, attaining its reconstruction in all countries, will have to be based on the following directives.
Based on the practical experiences of the opportunist crises and the struggles conducted by left Marxist groups against the revisionism of the Second International and against the progressive deviation of the Third International it is clear that it is not possible to maintain the programmatic approach, the political tradition and the organizational solidity of the party intact if the party applies a tactic which, even for formal positions alone, entails attitudes and rallying cries acceptable to opportunist political movements.
Similarly, every uncertainty and ideological tolerance is reflected in an opportunist tactic and action.
The party, therefore, is distinguished from all the others, whether openly hostile or supposedly alike, and also from those that claim to recruit their adherents from within the ranks of the working class, because its practice rejects maneuvers, combinations, alliances and blocs which traditionally form on the basis of contingent postulates and agitational slogans common to several parties.
This party position has an essentially historical validity, which distinguishes it in the tactical sphere from every other, just as it is distinguished by its original vision of the period which capitalist society is undergoing.
The revolutionary class party is the only one to understand that today, the economic, social and political postulates of liberalism and democracy are anti-historical, illusory and reactionary, and that the world is changing, whereby the liberal order in the large countries is disappearing and giving way to the more modern fascist system.
By contrast, at the time when the capitalist class had not yet initiated its liberal period, when it still had to destroy the old feudal power, or still had to run through considerable stages and phases of its own expansion in the major countries, and when it was still laissez-faire in terms of economic processes and democratic in terms of the functioning of the state, a transitory alliance between the communists and parties that were in the first instance openly revolutionary, outside the law and organized for armed struggle, and in the second instance carried out a task which assured useful and genuinely “progressive” conditions, was both understandable and acceptable – because the capitalist regime would accelerate the historical cycle that will lead to its downfall.
The passage of communist tactics between the two historical epochs cannot be broken down into a local and national case history, nor can it be consumed in the analysis of the complex uncertainties that the cycle of capitalist development undoubtedly presents, without giving rise to the practice deprecated by Lenin in One Step Forward, Two Steps Back.
The politics of the proletarian party has been first and foremost international (and this distinguishes it from all others) ever since the first statement of its program and the first appearance of the historic need for effective organization. Supporting every revolutionary movement everywhere that is directed against the present political and social state of affairs, Communists, as the Manifesto states, emphasize and assert, along with the question of ownership, those common interests of the whole proletariat, which are independent of nationality.
The outlook of communist revolutionary strategy, where not misled by Stalinism, is that the international communist tactic seeks to break the bourgeois front in the country in which the greatest opportunities appear, directing all of the movement’s resources to this end.
As a result, the tactic of insurrectionary alliances against the old regimes came to its historic end with the great fact of the Russian Revolution, which eliminated the final imposing military state apparatus of a non-capitalist character.
After this historical phase, the still theoretical possibility of tactical blocs must be considered formally and centrally denounced by the international revolutionary movement.
The excessive importance given, in the first years of the life of the Third International, to the application of the Russian tactical positions to countries with stable bourgeois regimes, and also to extra-European and colonial countries, was the first manifestation of the reappearance of the revisionist danger.
The nature of the second imperialist war and its already apparent consequences is the secure influence in every corner of the world, even the most backward kinds of indigenous societies, not so much of assertive capitalist economic forms, as of the inexorable political and military control on the part of the great imperial centers of capitalism; and for now of their gigantic coalitions, which include the Russian state.
Consequently local tactics can only be aspects of the general revolutionary strategy, whose first task is the restoration of the programmatic clarity of the worldwide proletarian party, followed by the reestablishment of the network of its organization in all countries.
This struggle unfolds within the context of the massive influence of traps and seductions presented by opportunism, which is returning ideologically in propaganda about the revival of liberty against fascism, and, with immediate effect, in the political practice of coalitions, blocs, fusions and illusory demands presented by the colluding hierarchies of innumerable parties, groups and movements.
Only in one way will the proletarian masses understand the necessity for the reconstitution of the revolutionary party, substantially different from all of the others, and that is when it proclaims the rejection of the practice of accords between parties, not as a contingent reaction to the opportunistic saturnalia and the acrobatics of the politicians, but as a fundamental and central directive.
None of the movements in which the party participates must be directed by a supra-party or by an organ superior to and over and above a group of party affiliates, not even in transitory phases.
In the modern historical phase of global politics, the proletarian masses will be able to mobilize in a revolutionary way once again only by realizing their class unity in the action of a party that is unitary and compact in theory, in action, in preparation of the insurrectionary attack and in the management of power.
Such a historical solution must appear to the masses in every manifestation, even limited, of the party as the only possible alternative to the international consolidation of the economic and political domination of the bourgeoisie and its finite, but nevertheless currently increasing capacity to control the contrasts and convulsions that menace the existence of its regime with formidable power.