|International Communist Party|
CHARACTERISTIC THESES OF THE PARTY
Produced at a Party meeting held in Florence, 8-9 December, 1951
The doctrine of the Party is founded on the principles of the historical materialism of the critical communism set out by Marx and Engels in the Communist Manifesto, in the Capital and their other fundamental works and which formed the basis of the Communist International constituted in 1919 and of the Italian Communist Party founded at Leghorn in 1921 (section of the Communist International).
1. In the present capitalist social regime an ever increasing contrast between productive forces and production relations is developing. This contrast reveals itself in the opposing interests and the class struggle between the proletariat and the ruling bourgeoisie.
2. The present production relations are protected by the bourgeois State. Even when democratic elections are used and whatever the form of the representative system may be, it is always the exclusive organ of the capitalist class.
3. The proletariat cannot crush or modify the mechanism of capitalist production relations, source of its exploitation, without wrecking the bourgeois power through violence.
4. The class Party is the indispensable organ for the proletarian revolutionary struggle. The Communist Party consists of the most advanced and resolute part of the proletariat, unites the efforts of the working masses transforming their struggles for group interests and contingent issues into the general struggle for the revolutionary emancipation of the proletariat. Propagating the revolutionary theory among the masses, organising the material means of action, leading the working class all along its struggle, by securing the historical continuity and the international unity of the movement, are duties of the Party.
5. After it has knocked down the power of the capitalist State, the proletariat must completely destroy the old State apparatus in order to organise itself as ruling class and set up its own dictatorship. It will deny all functions and political rights to any individual of the bourgeois class as long as they survive socially, founding the organs of the new regime exclusively on the productive class. Such is the programme which the Communist Party sets itself and which is characteristic of it. It is the Party alone which therefore represents, organises and directs the proletarian dictatorship. The necessary defence of the proletarian State against all counter-revolutionary attempts can only be secured by taking from the bourgeoisie and from all the parties, enemies of proletarian dictatorship, any means of agitation and political propaganda, and by the proletariat’s armed organisation, able to repulse all internal and external attacks.
6. Only the force of the proletarian State will be able to put systematically into effect the necessary measures for intervening in the relations of the social economy, by means of which the collective management of production and distribution will take the place of the capitalist system.
7. This transformation of the economy and consequently of the whole social life will lead to the gradual elimination of the necessity for the political State which will progressively become an apparatus for the rational administration of human activities.
* * *
In the face of the capitalist world and the workers’ movement following the second World War the position of the Party is founded on the following points:
8. In the course of the first half of the
twentieth century the
social system has been developing, in the economic field, by creating
trusts among the employers, and by trying to control and to manage
and exchanges according to control plans with State management of whole
sectors of production. In the political field, there has been an
of the police and army potential of the State, all governments adopting
a more totalitarian form. All these are neither new sorts of social
as a transition from capitalism to socialism, nor revivals of
political regimes. On the contrary, they are definite forms of a more
more direct and exclusive management of power and State by the most
forces of capital.
This course excludes the progressive, pacifist and evolutionist interpretations of the becoming of the bourgeois regime, and confirms the prevision of the concentration and of the antagonistic arraying of the class forces. The proletariat in order to confront its enemies’ growing potential with strengthened revolutionary energy, must repel the illusory revival of democratic liberalism and constitutional guarantees. The Party must not even accept this as a means of agitation: it must historically get rid once and for all, of the practice of alliances, even for transitory issues, with the middle class as well as with the pseudo-proletarian and reformist parties.
9. The world imperialistic wars show that the crisis of disgregation of capitalism is inevitable as it has entered the phase when its expansion, instead of signifying a continual increment of the productive forces, is conditioned by repeated and ever-growing destructions. These wars have caused repeated deep crises in the workers’ world organisation because the dominant classes could impose on them military and national solidarity with one or another of the belligerents. The only historical alternative to be set against such a situation is the awakening of the internal class struggle, until the civil war of the working masses to overthrow the power of all bourgeois states and of world coalitions, with the reconstitution of the International Communist Party as an autonomous force, independent of any organised political or military power.
10. The proletarian State, being its apparatus an instrument and a weapon for the struggle in a transition historical period, does not draw its force from constitutional canons and representative systems. The most complete historical example of such a State is up to the present that of the Soviets (workers’ councils) which were created during the October 1917 Russian revolution, when the working class armed itself under the leadership of the Bolshevik Party alone; during the totalitarian seizure of power, the wiping out of the Constituent Assembly, the struggle to repulse the external attacks of bourgeois governments and to crush the internal rebellion of defeated classes, of middle and petty-bourgeois strata and of opportunist parties, inevitable allies of the counter-revolution at the decisive moment.
11. The integral realisation of socialism
within the limits of one
is inconceivable and the socialist transformation cannot be carried out
without failure and momentary set-backs. The defence of the proletarian
regime against the ever-present dangers of degeneration is possible
if the proletarian State is always co-ordinate with the international
of the working class of each country against its own bourgeoisie, its
and its army; this struggle permits of no respite even in wartime. This
co-ordination can only be secured if the world communist Party controls
the politics and programme of the States where the working class has
II. TASKS OF THE COMMUNIST PARTY
1. The proletariat can only free itself from the capitalist exploitation if it fights under a revolutionary political organ: the Communist Party.
2. The chief aspect of the political struggle in the Marxist sense is the civil war and the armed uprising by which a class overthrows the power of the opposed dominant class and sets up its own power. Such a struggle can only succeed if it is led by the Party organisation.
3. Neither the struggle against the power of the exploiting class nor the successive uprooting of the capitalist economic structures can be achieved without the political revolutionary party: the proletarian dictatorship is indispensable all along the historical period where such tremendous changes will take place and will be exercised openly by the Party.4. The Party defends and propagates the theory of the movement for the socialist revolution; it defends and strengthens its inner organization by propagating the communist theory and programme and by being constantly active in the ranks of the proletariat wherever the latter is forced to fight for its economic interests; such are its tasks before, during and after the struggle of the armed proletariat for State power.
5. The Party is not made up of all members
of the proletariat or
of its majority. It is the organisation of the minority which has,
reached and mastered revolutionary tactics in theory and in practice;
other words, which sees clearly the general objectives of the historic
movement of the proletariat in the whole world and for the whole of the
historical course which separates the period of its formation from that
of its final victory.
The Party is not formed on the basis of individual consciousness: not only is it not possible for each proletarian to become conscious and still less to master the class doctrine in a cultural way, but neither is it possible for each individual militant, not even for the leaders of the Party. Consciousness consists in the organic unity of the Party alone.
In the same way, therefore, that we reject notions based on individual acts or even on mass action when not linked to the party framework, so we must reject any conception of the party as a group of enlightened scholars or conscious individuals. On the contrary, the Party is the organic tissue whose function inside the working class is to carry out its revolutionary task in all its aspects and in all its complex stages.
6. Marxism has always energetically rejected the theory which proposes to the proletariat only trade, industrial or factory associations, theory which considers that these associations can, by themselves, lead the class struggle to its historical end: the conquest of power and the transformation of society. Incapable of facing the immense task of the social revolution on its own, the union is however indispensable to mobilise the proletariat on a political and revolutionary level. This however is possible only if the Communist Party is present and its influence inside the union grows. The party can only work inside entirely proletarian unions where membership is voluntary and where no given political, religious or social opinions are forced on members. This is not the case with confessional unions, with those where membership is compulsory and with those which have become an integrant part of the State system.
7. The Party will never set up economic
associations which exclude
workers who do not accept its principles and leadership. But the Party
recognises without any reserve that not only the situation which
insurrectional struggle but also all phases of substantial growth of
influence amongst the masses cannot arise without the expansion between
the Party and the working class of a series of organisations with short
term economic objectives with a large number of participants. Within
organisations the party will set a network of communist cells and
as well as a communist fraction in the union.
In periods when the working class is passive, the Party must anticipate the forms and promote the constitution of organisations with immediate economic aims. These may be unions grouped according to trade, industry, factory committees or any other known grouping or even quite new organisations. The Party always encourages organisations which favour Contact between workers at different localities and different trades and their common action. It rejects all forms of closed organisations.
8. In any Situation, the Party refuses at
the same time the idealist
and utopian outlook which makes social transformation dependent on a
of ”elected“ apostles and heroes; the libertarian outlook which makes
it dependent on the revolt of individuals or unorganised masses; the
union or economists’ outlook which entrusts it to apolitical
whether they preach the use of violence or not; the voluntaristic and
outlook which does not recognise that class rebellion rises out of a
of collective actions well prior to a clear theoretical consciousness
even to resolute will action, and which, as a result, recommends the
of a small ”elite“ isolated from working class trade unions or, which
comes to the same, leaning on trade unions which exclude non
This last mistake, which has historically characterised the German
and Dutch Tribunists [The members of Kommunistische Arbeiterpartei
(KAPD) in Germany and of the Dutch group of ”Tribune“ review, lead
by Gorter and Pannekoek, that definitely abandoned the C.I. in 1921],
always been fought against by the Marxist Italian Left.
The differences for reasons of strategy and tactics which led our current to break away from the III International cannot be discussed without reference to the different historical phases of the proletarian movement.
III. HISTORICAL WAVES OF
1. It is impossible, unless we want to give way to idealism or to mystical, ethical or aesthetical considerations which are in complete opposition to Marxism, to assert that in all historical phases of the proletarian movement the same intransigence is necessary, that any alliance, any united front, all compromise is to be refused on principle. Quite on the contrary, it is only on a historical basis that questions of class and party strategy and tactics can be solved. For this reason, it is the development of the proletarian class throughout the world between the bourgeois and the socialist revolutions which must be considered, and not particularities of time and place that nourish casuistry politics and which leave practical questions to the whim of groups or steering committees.
2. The proletariat itself is above all the
product of capitalist
and industrialisation; like communism it cannot be born of the
of individuals, brotherhoods or political clubs, but only of the
of the proletarians themselves. In the same way, the irrevocable
of capitalism over those forms which have preceded it historically,
is the victory of the bourgeoisie over the feudal and land-owning
and over the other classes characteristic of the old regime, be it
or European or of other continents, is a condition for communism.
At the time of the Communist Manifesto, modern industrial development was still at its beginnings and present only in a very few countries. In order to speed up the explosion of modern class struggle, the proletariat had to be encouraged to struggle, armed, at the sides of the revolutionary bourgeoisies during the antifeudal insurrections or those of national liberation. In this way the workers’ participation in the great French revolution and its defence against the European coalitions right up to napoleonic times, is part of the history of the workers’ struggle and this in spite of the fact that from the very beginning the bourgeois dictatorship ferociously quelled the first communist inspired social struggles.
Because of the defeat of the bourgeois revolutions of 1848, this strategy of alliance between proletariat and bourgeoisie against the classes of the old regime valid, in the eyes of Marxists, until 1871, in view of the fact that this feudal regime still persists in Russia, in Austria and in Germany and that the national unity of Italy, Germany and the east European countries is a necessary condition of Europe’s industrial development.
3. 1871 is a clear turning-point in
history. The struggle against
III and his dictatorship is in fact directed against a capitalistic and
not a feudal form; it is at the same time the product and proof of the
mobilisation of the two fundamental and enemy classes of modern
Although it sees in Napoleon an obstacle to the bourgeois development
Germany, revolutionary Marxism goes immediately on the side of the
struggle which will be that of all parties of the Commune, first
dictatorship in history. After this date, the proletariat can no longer
choose between contending parties or national armies in so far as any
of pre-bourgeois forms has become socially impossible in two big areas: Europe to the confines of the Ottoman and tsarist empires on the one
hand, and England and North America on the other.
a. Opportunism at the end of the 19th Century
4. If we disregard Bakuninism during the
first, International and
during the second, as they have nothing to do with Marxism, the
revisionism represents the first opportunist wave within the
Marxist movement. Its vision was the following: once victory by the
over the old regime was universally secured, a historical phase without
insurrections and without wars opens up before humanity; socialism
possible by gradual evolution and without violence, on the basis of the
extension of modern industry and due to the numerical increase of
armed with universal suffrage. In this way it was tried (Bernstein) to
empty Marxism of its revolutionary contents, pretending that its
spirit was inherited from the revolutionary bourgeoisie and not
to the proletarian class in itself. At this time, the tactical question
of alliance between advanced bourgeois parties and the proletarian
takes on a different aspect to that of the preceding phase; it is no
a question of helping capitalism to win, but to make socialism derive
it with the help of laws and reform, no longer to fight on the
of the towns and in the country against menaces of restoration; but
to vote together in parliamentary assemblies. That is why the proposal
of alliances and coalition and even the acceptance of ministerial posts
by workers’ representatives is from then on a deviation from the
path. That is also why radical Marxists reprove all electoral
b. Opportunism in 1914
5. The second tremendous opportunist wave
hits the proletarian
when war breaks out in 1914. Most of the parliamentary and trade-union
leaders as well as strong militant groups, and in some countries whole
parties present the conflict between national States as a struggle
might bring back the absolutism of the feudal system and which might
to the destruction of the conquests of the bourgeois civilisation and
of modern productive system. They preach solidarity with the national
at war, the result of which is an alliance between Tsarist Russia and
advanced bourgeoisies of France and England.
The majority of the Second International therefore falls into the war opportunism from which very few parties, one of which is the Italian socialist party, escape. Worse, only advanced groups and fractions accept the position of Lenin who, having defined the war as being a product of capitalism and not a conflict between the latter and less advanced politic-social forms, draws the conclusion that the ”holy union“ must be condemned and that the proletarian party should practise a defeatist revolutionary policy within each country against the belligerent State and army.
6. The Third International arises on a
basis that is both
anti-social democratic and anti-social patriotic.
Not only throughout the whole of the proletarian International are no alliances entered into with other parties to wield parliamentary power; more than that, it is denied that power can be conquered, even in an “intransigent” way, just by the proletarian party through legal means, and the need is reasserted, amidst the ruins of capitalism’s peaceful phase, for armed violence and dictatorship.
Not only are no alliances entered into with governments at war even in the case of “defensive“ wars, and class opposition kept up even during war; more than that, every effort is made, by means of defeatist propaganda at the front, to turn the imperialistic war between States into a civil war between classes.
response to the first wave of opportunism was the formula: no
electoral, parliamentary or ministerial alliances to obtain reforms.
The response to the second wave was another tactical formula: no war alliances (since 1871) with the State and bourgeoisie.
Delayed reactions would prevent the critical turning point of 1914-18 being turned to advantage by engaging in a wide-scale struggle for defeatism in war and for the destruction of the bourgeois State.
8. One great exception is the victory in
Russia in October 1917.
Russia was the only major European State still ruled by a feudal
power where penetration by capitalist forms of production was weak.
In Russia there was a party, not large but with a tradition firmly
anchored in Marxism, which had not only opposed the two consecutive
waves of opportunism in the Second International, but which at the
same time, after the great trials of 1905, was up to posing the
problems of how to graft two revolutions, the bourgeois and the
In February 1917 this party struggles alongside others against Tsarism, then immediately afterwards not only against the bourgeois liberal parties but also against the opportunist proletarian parties, and it defeats them all. What is more, it then becomes the centre of the reconstitution of the revolutionary International.
9. The effect of this formidable event is to be found in irrevocable historical results. In the last European country placed outside of the geo-political area of the West, an uninterrupted fight leads a proletariat, whose social development is far from being complete, to power. Liberal-democratic forms of the western type, set up during the first phase of the revolutions are brushed aside and the proletarian dictatorship faces the immense task of accelerating economic development. This means that the still present feudal forms must be overthrown and that the recent capitalistic forms must be overcome. The realisation of this task calls above all for victory over the gangs of counter-revolutionary insurgents and the intervention of foreign capitalism. It calls not only for the mobilisation of the world proletariat for the defence of soviet power and to direct the assault on the western, bourgeois powers, but for the extension of the revolutionary struggle to continents inhabited by coloured people, in short the mobilisation of all forces able to carry on an armed fight against white capitalist metropolis.
10. In Europe and America strategical
alliance with left bourgeois
against feudal forms of power is no longer possible and has given way
direct struggle by the proletariat for power. But in underdeveloped
the rising proletarian and communist parties will not disdain to
to insurrections of other anti-feudal classes, either against local
dominations or against the white colonisers.
In Lenin’s time, there are two historical alternatives: either the world struggle ends in victory, that is by the downfall of capitalistic power at least in a large advanced part of Europe, and this would permit Russian economy to be transformed at a fast rhythm, ”jumping“ the capitalistic stage and quickly catching up with Western industry, already ripe for socialism, or the big imperialist centres stay put, and in this case the Russian revolutionary power is forced to restrain itself to the economic task of the bourgeois revolution, making the effort of immense productive development, but of a capitalistic, not a socialist character.
11. Evidence of the pressing
need to accelerate the taking of power in Europe, to prevent the
violent collapse of the Soviet State or else its involution into a
capitalistic state in a few years at the very most, appeared as soon
as bourgeois society consolidated after the serious shock of the
First World War. But the communist parties didn’t manage to take
power, except in a few attempts which were rapidly crushed, and this
led them to ask themselves what they could do to counter the fact
that large sections of the proletariat were still prey to social
democratic and opportunistic influences.
There were two conflicting methods: the one which considered the parties of the Second International, which were openly conducting an unremitting struggle both against the communist programme and against revolutionary Russia, as open enemies, and struggled against them as the most dangerous part of the bourgeois front – and the other which relied on expedients to reduce the influence of the social democratic parties over the masses to the advantage of the communist party, using strategic and tactical ”manoeuvres“.
12. To justify the latter method the experiences of the Bolshevik policy in Russia were misapplied, departing from the correct historical line. The offer of alliances with petit-bourgeois and even bourgeois parties was justified historically by the fact that the Tsarist power, by banning all of these movements, forced them to engage in insurrectional struggle. In Europe, on the other hand, the only common actions which were proposed, even as a manoeuvre, were ones respectful of legality, whether within the trade-unions or within parliament. In Russia, the phase of liberal parliamentarism had been very short (in 1905 and a few months in 1917) and it was the same as far as legal recognition of the trade union movement was concerned. In the rest of Europe, meanwhile, half a century of degeneration of the proletarian movement had made these two fields of action propitious terrain on which to dull revolutionary energies and corrupt the workers’ leaders. The guarantee which lay in the Bolshevik Party’s solidity of organisation and principle was not the same as the guarantee offered by the existence of the state power in Moscow, which due to social conditions and international relations was more liable, as history has showed, to succumb to a renunciation of revolutionary principles and policy.
13. The left of the International (to which the great majority of the Communist Party of Italy belonged before it was more or less destroyed by the fascist counter-revolution which was favoured chiefly by the mistake of historical strategy) upheld that in the West all alliances or proposals of alliances with socialist or petit-bourgeois parties should be refused at all costs; in other words that there should be no united political front. It admitted that the communists should widen their influence within the masses by taking part in all local and economic struggles, calling on the workers of all organisations and of all faiths to develop them to the maximum, but it refused that the party’s action should be subordinated to that of political committees of fronts, coalitions or alliances even if this subordination was to restrict itself to public declarations and be compensated by internal instructions to militants or the party and by the subjective intentions of the leaders. Even more strongly it rejected the so-called ”Bolshevik“ tactics when it took the shape of ”workers’ government“, i.e. the launching of the slogan (become in some instances a practical experiment, with ruinous consequences) of coming into the parliamentary power with mixed majorities of communists and socialists of the various shapes. If the Bolshevik party could draw up with no danger the plan of provisional governments of several parties in the revolutionary phase, and if that allowed it to go to the firmest autonomy of action and even to outlaw the former allies, all that was made possible only by the diversity of situation of the historical forces: urgent need of two revolutions, and destructive attitude, by the State in force, towards any coming to power through a parliamentary way. It would have been absurd to transpose such a strategy to a situation in which the bourgeois State has a half a century hold democratic tradition, and parties that accept its constitutionalism.
14. Between 1921 and 1926, increasingly opportunistic versions of the International’s tactical method were imposed at its congresses (third, fourth, fifth and at the Enlarged Executive Committee in 1926). At the root of the method was the simple formula: alter the tactics to fit the circumstances. By means of so-called analyses, every six months or so new stages of capitalism were identified and new manoeuvres proposed to address them. This is essentially revisionism, which has always been ‘voluntarist’; in other words, when it realised its predictions about the advent of socialism hadn’t come true, it decided to force the pace of history with a new praxis; but in so doing it also ceased to struggle for the proletarian and socialist objectives of our maximum programme. Back in 1900 the reformists said that the circumstances ruled out all possibility of insurrection. We shouldn’t expect the impossible, they said, let us work instead to win elections and to change the law, and to make economic gains via the trades unions. And when this method failed it provoked a reaction from the essentially voluntarist anarcho-syndicalist current, who blamed party politics and politics in general, predicting that change would come through the effort of bold minorities in a general strike, led by the trade unions alone. Similarly, the Communist International, once it saw the West-European proletariat wasn’t going to fight for the dictatorship, preferred to rely on substitutes as a way of getting through the impasse. And what came of all this, once capitalist equilibrium had been restored, was that it neither modified the objective situation nor the balance of power, but did weaken and corrupt the workers’ movement; just as had happened when the impatient revisionists of right and left ended up in the service of the bourgeoisie in the war coalitions. All the theoretical preparation and the restoration of revolutionary principles was sabotaged by confusing the communist programme of taking power by revolutionary means with the accession of so-called ‘kindred’ governments by means of support and participation in parliament and bourgeois cabinets by communists; in Saxony and Thuringia it would end in farce, where two policemen were enough to overthrow the government’s communist leader.
15. Internal organisation was subjected to
similar confusion, and the
difficult task of sorting out revolutionary members from opportunist
ones in the various parties and countries would be compromised. It
was believed that new party members, more amenable to co-operating
with the centre, could be procured by wresting away entire left wings
of the old social democratic parties (whereas in fact, once the new
International had gone through its initial period of formation, it
needed to function permanently as the world party and only have new
converts joining its national sections on an individual basis).
Wanting to win over large groups of workers, deals were struck
instead with the leaders and the movement’s cadres were thrown into
disorder, and dissolved and recombined during periods of active
struggle. Recognising Fractions and groups within the opportunist
parties as ‘communist’, they would be absorbed by means of
organisational mergers; thus almost all of the parties, instead of
preparing for the struggle, were kept in a state of permanent crisis.
Lacking continuity of action and with no clear boundaries set between
friend and foe, they would register one failure after another, and on
an international scale. The Left lays claim to organisational
unicity and continuity.
The overthrow of the structure of the parties under the pretext of ”bolshevisation“ was another reason for the Left to differ from the leadership of the International. The territorial organisation of the party was changed for a network of factory cells. This narrowed the political horizon of the members who had the same trade and therefore the same immediate economic interests. In this way, the natural synthesis of the different social impulsions which would have helped to make the struggle a general one, common to all categories, was not achieved. As this synthesis was lacking, the only factor of unity was represented by the top executives whose members became in this way officials with all the negative characteristics of the old socialist party system.
The criticism which the Italian Marxist Left made of this organisation must not be mistaken as claiming the return to ”internal democracy“ and to ”free election“ of the party leaders. It is neither internal democracy nor free elections which give the Party its nature of being the most conscious fraction of the proletariat and its function of revolutionary guide. It is instead the matter of a deep discrepancy of conceptions about the deterministic organicity of the party as a historical body, living in the reality of the class struggle; it is a fundamental deviation in principles, that made the parties unable to foresee and face the opportunist danger.
16. Analogous deviations took place in
Russia where, for the
time in history, the difficult problem of organisation and internal
of the communist party which had come to power and whose membership had
enormously increased, arose. The difficulties met in the internal
for a new economy and revolutionary political struggle outside of
provoked contrasting opinions between Bolsheviks of the Old Guard and
The Party’s leading group had in its hands not only the party apparatus but also the whole State apparatus. Its opinions or those of the majority within it were made good not by means of party doctrine and its national and international tradition of struggle, but by repression of the opposition by means of the State apparatus and by strangling the party in a police like manner. All disobedience towards the central organ of the party was judged as a counter-revolutionary act warranting, besides expulsion, punitive sanctions. The relationship between Party and State was thus completely distorted and the group which controlled both was thus able to enforce a series of surrenders of principles and of the historical line of the party and world revolutionary movement. In reality the party is a unitary organism in its doctrine and its action. To join the party imposes peremptory obligations on Leaders and followers. But joining and leaving is voluntary without any kind of physical compulsion and shall be so before, during and after the conquest of power. The party directs alone and in an autonomous way the struggle of the exploited class to destroy the capitalist State. In the same way, the Party, alone and autonomous, leads the revolutionary proletarian State, and just because the State is, historically, a transitory organ, legal intervention against party members or groups is a pointer to a serious crisis. As soon as such intervention became a practice in Russia, the party became crowded with opportunistic members who sought nothing more than to procure advantages for themselves or at least to benefit from the protection of the Party. Yet they were accepted without hesitation and instead of a weakening of the State there was a dangerous inflation of the Party in power.
This reversal of influences resulted in the opportunists getting the upper hand on the orthodox; the betrayers of revolutionary principles paralysed, immobilised, accused and finally condemned those who defended them in a coherent way, some of whom had understood too late that the party would never again become a revolutionary one.
In fact, it was the government, at grips with the hard reality of internal and external affairs, which solved questions, and imposed its solutions on the Party. The latter, in turn, had an easy time in international congresses to impose these solutions on the other parties which it dominated and handled as it liked. In this way the directive of the Comintern lines became more and more eclectic and conciliatory with respect to world capitalism.
The Italian Left never questioned the revolutionary merits of the party which had lead the first proletarian revolution to victory, but it maintained that the contributions of the parties still openly struggling against their bourgeois regime, were indispensable. The hierarchy which could solve the problems of revolutionary action in the world and in Russia must therefore be the following: the International of the World communist parties – its various sections, including the Russian one – finally the communist government for internal Russian politics but exclusively along party lines. Otherwise the internationalist character of the movement and its revolutionary efficiency could not but be compromised.
Only by respecting this rule could a divergence of interests and objectives between the Russian State and the World revolution be avoided. Lenin himself had many times admitted that if the revolution broke out in Europe or the world, the Russian party would take not second but at least fourth place in the general political and social leadership of the communist revolution.
17. We cannot say exactly when the
opportunistic wave which was to
away the Communist International, originated. This was the third wave,
the first having paralysed the International founded by Marx and the
which had shamefully brought about the fall of the Second
The deviations and political errors discussed in paragraphs 11, 12, 13,
14, 15 and 16 above, threw the world communist movement into total
which could be seen from its attitude towards fascism and totalitarian
governments. These forms appeared after the period of the great
attacks which, in Germany, Italy, Hungary, Bavaria and in the Balkan
followed the end of the First World War. The communist International
them as employers’ offensives with a tendency to lower the standard of
living of the working classes economically, and politically as
aiming at the suppression of democratic liberalism, which it presented,
in a turn of phrase doubtful to Marxists, as being a favourable milieu
for a proletarian offensive, whereas communism has always considered it
as the worst possible atmosphere of revolutionary corruption on the
level. In reality, fascism was the complete proof of the Marxist vision
of history: the economic concentration was not only evidence of the
and international character of capitalist production, but it urged the
latter to unite and the bourgeoisie to declare Social war on the
whose pressure was as yet much weaker than the defence capacity of the
The leaders of the International on the other hand created serious historical confusion with the Kerensky period in Russia, leading not only to a serious mistake in theoretical interpretation, but to an inevitable overthrow of tactics. A strategy for the defence and conservation of existing conditions was outlined for the proletariat and communist Parties, advising them to form a united front with all those bourgeois groups which upheld that certain immediate advantages should be granted to the workers and that the people should not be deprived of their democratic rights. The groups were in this way much less decided and perspicacious than the fascists and thus very feeble allies.
The International did not understand that Fascism or National Socialism had nothing to do with an attempt to return to despotic and feudal forms of government, nor with the victory of the so-called right-wing bourgeois sections in opposition with the more advanced capitalist class from the big industries, nor an attempt to form an autonomous government of the intermediate classes between employers and proletariat. It did not understand either that freeing itself from a hypocritical parliamentarism, fascism inherited on the other hand wholly the pseudo-Marxist reformism, securing for the least fortunate classes not only a living wage but a series of improvements of their welfare by means of a certain number of measures and state interventions taken, of course, in the interest of the State. The Communist International thus launched the slogan ”struggle for freedom“ which was forced upon the Communist Party of Italy by the president of the International from 1926 onwards. Yet nearly all the militants of the party had wanted for four years to lead as autonomous class policy against fascism refusing coalition with all democratic, monarchist and catholic parties in favour of constitutional and parliamentary guarantees. And it was in vain that the Italian Left warned the leaders of the International that the path it had chosen (and which ended finally with the Committees for National Liberation !) would lead to the loss of all revolutionary energies, and demanded that the real meaning of the antifascism of all the bourgeois and petit-bourgeois parties as well as the pseudo-proletarian ones should be openly denounced.
The line of the communist party is by its nature an offensive one and in no case may it struggle for the illusory preservation of conditions peculiar to capitalism. If, before 1871, the working class had to fight side by side with bourgeois forces, this was not in order to hold on to certain advantages, nor to avoid an impossible return to old times but in order to help in the total destruction of all out-grown political and social forms. In everyday economic policy, just as in general politics, the working class had nothing to lose and therefore nothing to defend. Attack and conquest, those are its only tasks.
Consequently, the revolutionary party shall interpret the coming of totalitarian forms of capitalism as the confirmation of its doctrine and therefore its complete ideological victory. It shall take an interest in the effective strength of the proletarian class in relationship to its oppressor in order to get ready for the revolutionary civil war. This relationship has ever been made unfavourable only by opportunism and gradualism. The revolutionary party shall do all in its power to stir up the final attack, and where this is impossible, face up without ever slating a ”Vade retro Satana“, as defeatist as stupid because it comes to begging foolishly for tolerance and pardon from the enemy class.
c. Opportunism after 1926
18. In the Second International,
opportunism took on the form of
philanthropy and pacifism culminating in the repudiation of armed
and insurrection and, what is more, finding justification for legal
between States at war.
During the third opportunist wave deviation and treason of the revolutionary line went as far as armed fighting and civil war. But even when opportunism wants to impose a given government against another in one country by means of an armed struggle aiming at territorial conquests and strategical positions, the revolutionary criticism remains the same as when it organises fronts, blocks and alliances with purely electoral and parliamentary designs. For instance the alliance of the Spanish Civil War and the partisan movement against the Germans or the fascists during the Second World War was without doubt betrayal of the working class and a form of collaboration with capitalism, in spite of the violence which was made use of. In such cases, the communist party’s refusal to subordinate itself to committees made up of heterogeneous parties should be even firmer: when action passes from legal agitation to conspiracy and fighting it is still more criminal to have anything what so ever in common with non proletarian movements. We need not recall that in the case of defeat, such collusions were concluded by the concentration of all the enemy’s forces on the communists, whereas in the case of apparent success, the revolutionary wing was completely disarmed and bourgeois order was consolidated.
19. All demonstrations of opportunism in
the tactics imposed
European parties and carried on inside Russia were crowned during the
World War by the attitude of the Soviet State towards the other
States and by the instructions which Moscow gave to the communist
The latter did not deny their assent to the war, nor did they try to
it in order to organise class action aiming at the destruction of the
State. On the contrary, in a first stage Russia concluded an agreement
with Germany: then while it provided that the German section should do
nothing against the hitlerite power, it dared to dictate self-styled
tactics to French communists who were to declare the war of the French
and English bourgeoisie as being an imperialistic aggressive one, and
these parties lead illegal action against their State and army;
as soon as the Russian State came into military conflict with Germany
its interest lay in the strength of those opposed to the Russian state,
the French, English and other parties concerned received the opposite
instruction and the order to move to the front of national defence just
like the socialists, denounced by Lenin, in 1914. Much more, all
and historical positions of communism were falsified when it was
that the war between the western powers and Germany was not an
one but a crusade for liberty and democracy and that it had been so
the start, from 1939 on, when the pseudo-communist propaganda was
directed against the French and English.
Thus it is clear that the Communist International, which at one time had been formally wiped out in order to give extra guarantees to the imperialist powers, was at no time used to provoke the fall of any capitalist power and not even to speed on the appearance of conditions necessary for the taking over of power by the proletariat. Its only use was to collaborate openly with the German imperialist bloc, the opposite bloc having preferred to do without its help when Russia came over on its side.
It is therefore not a simple question of opportunism but rather a total abandonment of communism, proved by the haste with which the definition of the class structure of the bourgeois powers changed at the same time as did Russia’s allies. Imperialist and plutocrat in 1939-40, France, England and America later became representative of progress, freedom and civilisation, having a common programme with Russia for the reorganisation of the world. This extraordinary turning did not prevent Russia from the moment of the first disagreements in 1946 and from the start of the cold war, to heap the most fiery accusations on the very same States.
It is no wonder therefore that, beginning by simple contacts with the social-betrayers and social-patriots rejected the day before, continuing with united fronts, workers’ governments (renouncing to class dictatorship) and even blocs with petit-bourgeois parties, the Moscow movement fell, during the war, into total enslavement of the policy of the ”democratic powers“. Later it had to admit that these powers were not only imperialist but just as fascist as Germany and Italy had been before. It is therefore no wonder either that the revolutionary parties which had met in Moscow in 1919-1920 had lost any remainder of their communist and proletarian nature.
20. The Third historical wave of
opportunism unites all the
of the two preceding ones in the same measure as present capitalism
all forms of its different stages of development.
After the second imperialist war, the opportunist parties, united with all the bourgeois parties in the Committees of National Liberation take a part in government with them. In Italy, they even partake in monarchist cabinets, postponing the question of the Republic to more ”suitable“ times. Thus they repudiate the use of the revolutionary method for the conquest of political powers by the proletariat, sanctioning a purely legal and parliamentary struggle to which all proletarian pressure is to be sacrificed in view of the conquest of public power by pacific means. In the same way as during the first year of the conflict they did not sabotage fascist governments, nourishing their military strength the supply of first necessity, they postulate the participation in national defence governments sparing all trouble to the governments at war.
Opportunism continues its fatal evolution, sacrificing, even formally, the Third International to the enemy of the working class, to subsequent imperialism, in favour of the subsequent ”reinforcement of the United Front of the allies and other United Nations“. Thus the historical anticipation of the Italian Left made in the first years of the Third International came true. It was ineluctable that the gigantic opportunism which had gained the workers’ movement would lead to the liquidation of all revolutionary instances. Consequently the reconstitution of the class strength of the world proletariat has been very much delayed, made more difficult and will require a greater effort.
21. In the same way as Russia, supported by the opportunist communist parties of other countries, had fought on the side of the imperialists, she joined them in the occupation of the vanquished countries to prevent the exploited masses from rising, and this without losing the parties’ support. On the contrary, this occupation with counter-revolutionary purpose was fully justified by all the so-called socialists and communists during the Yalta and Teheran conferences. Any possibility of a revolutionary attack of the bourgeois powers was reduced to nothing in the countries that had won the war as in those that had lost. This confirms the position of the Italian Left which regarded the second War as imperialist and the occupation of the vanquished countries as counter-revolutionary, and foresaw that the second war could not be followed by a revolutionary revival.
22. In accordance with the
counter-revolutionary past the Russian
affiliated parties have modernised the theory of the permanent
between classes proclaiming the peaceful co-existence and competition
capitalist and socialist States. This position, after the former which
reduced the class struggle to a so-called struggle between socialist
capitalist States, is their final insult to revolutionary Marxism. If a
socialist State does not declare a holy war on capitalist States, it at
least declares and maintains the class war inside the bourgeois
whose proletariat prepares theoretically and practically for the
This is the only position which conforms with the programme of the
parties who do not disdain to show their opinions and their intentions
(Manifesto of 1846) and openly urge on the violent destruction
the bourgeois power.
Hence, States and parties which admit or even assume hypothetically peaceful coexistence and competition between States instead of propagandising the absolute incompatibility among the classes and armed struggle for the emancipation of the proletariat, are capitalist States and counter-revolutionary parties, and their phraseology only masks their non-proletarian character.
The Persistence of such ideologies within the working class movement is a tragical holdback of any class revival and the proletariat must pass beyond them before the class struggle can take place.
23. Another aspect which made the political
opportunism of the third
wave still more shameful than the preceding ones was its shameful
towards pacifism, defence of guerrilla warfare; pacifism again, but
with the anti-capitalist phraseology of the cold war and finally the
total pacifism of coexistence. All these turnings went side by side
the most scandalous variation in the definition of the English and
powers: imperialist in 1939, democratically ”liberating“ the European
proletariat in 1942, imperialist again after the war, pacifist rivals
the competition between capitalism and ”socialism“ today. True Marxists
know, that the American imperialism has taken up since the first World
War from the English ”despot“ the role of principal white guard of
the world, as Lenin and the Third International many times emphasised
the glorious period of revolutionary struggle.
Inseparable from social pacifism, pacifism taken on its own makes the most of the workers’ hatred of imperialist wars. Defence of peace which is a common propaganda of all parties and all States, bourgeois or pseudo-proletarian is however as opportunist as is the defence of the fatherland. Revolutionaries should leave one as the other to U.N.O. who is horror struck at the mention of class struggle, but is itself, like the League of Nations, a league of Robbers.
In putting pacifism higher than any other demand, today’s opportunists show not only that they are outside the revolutionary process and have fallen into total utopia, but that they do not come within reach of the utopists Saint Simon, Owen, Fourier and even Proudhon.
Revolutionary Marxism rejects pacifism as a theory and means of propaganda and subordinates peace to the violent destruction of world imperialism; there will be no peace as long as the proletariat of the world is not free from bourgeois exploitation. It also denounces pacifism as a weapon of the class enemy to disarm the proletariat and withhold them from revolutionary influence.
24. Throwing bridges to the imperialist
parties to set up
of ”national union“ has now become a customary praxis of the
who carry it out on an international scale in a gigantic superstate
U.N.O. The great lie consists in making believe that provided that the
war between States is avoided, class collaboration can not only become
reality but bring its mawkish fruits to the working class, the
and class State becoming a democratic instrument for the public wealth.
Thus in the Peoples’ Democracies, the opportunists have set up national systems in which all social classes are represented, with the pretence that in this way their opposing interests can be harmonised. In China for instance where the four class block is in power, the proletariat, far from having assumed political power, is subjected to the incessant pressure of the young industrial capitalism, having born the cost of ”National Reconstruction“ just like the proletariats of the other countries. The disarmament of the revolutionary forces, which was offered to the bourgeoisie by the social-patriots of 1914 and the ministerialists such as Millerand, Bissolati, Vandervelde, MacDonald and Company who were fustigated and eliminated by Lenin and the Communist International, grows blurred in the face of the scandalous and impudent collaboration of the present social patriots and ministerialists. The Italian Left which already in 1922 was opposed to the ”workers’ and peasant government“ (password which was given the meaning of ”dictatorship of the proletariat“ but which fostered a fatal ambiguity or worse meant something quite different) rejects all the more the open class collaboration which present day opportunists do not hesitate to advocate; the Italian Left claims for the proletariat and its party the unconditional monopoly of the State, the unitary and undivided dictatorship of the proletarian class.
IV. PARTY ACTION
1. Since its birth, capitalism has had an
with alternating periods of crisis and intense economic expansion.
Crises are inseparable from capitalism which will not however cease to grow and to expand so long as the revolutionary forces will not deal it the final blow. In a parallel way, the history of the proletarian movement presents phases of impetuous bounds and phases of withdrawal provoked by brutal defeats or slow degeneracy during which the renewal of revolutionary activity may be decades away. The Paris Commune was violently put down and its defeat opened a period of relatively pacific development of capitalism which gave birth to revisionist or opportunistic theories whose very existence proved the falling back of the revolution. The October revolution was slowly defeated over a period of regression, culminating in the violent suppression of those who had fought for it and survived. Since 1917, the revolution is very much absent and today it does not look as though we are on the threshold of the renewal of revolutionary revival.
2. In spite of such recurrences, the
capitalist mode of production
and prevails in all countries, under its technical and social aspects,
in a more or less continuous way. The alternatives of the clashing
forces are instead connected to the events of the general historical
to the contrast that already existed when bourgeoisie begun its rule on
the feudal and precapitalist classes, and to the evolutive political
of the two historical rival classes, bourgeoisie and proletariat; being
such a process marked by victories and defeats, by errors of tactical
strategical method. The first clashes go back to 1789, arriving,
1848, 1871, 1905 and 1917, to the present day; they gave the
a chance to furbish its arms against the proletariat in the same
as its economy developed.
On the contrary, the proletariat, in the face of the gigantic extension of capitalism, has not always known how to use its class energy with success, falling back, after each defeat, into the net of opportunism and treason, and staying back from the revolution for an ever lengthening period.
3. The cycle of victorious struggles and of
defeats, even the most
ones, and the opportunistic waves during which the revolutionary
is submitted to the influence of the enemy class constitute a vast
of positive experiences where the revolution matures.
After the defeats, the revolutionary comeback is long and difficult; but the movement, although it is not visible on the surface, is not interrupted, it maintains, crystallised in a restricted vanguard, the revolutionary class demands.
The periods of political depression of the revolutionary movement are numerous. From 1848 to 1867, from the Second Paris revolution to the eve of the franco-prussian war, the revolutionary movement is nearly exclusively incarnated in Marx, Engels and a small circle of comrades; from 1872 to 1879, from the defeat of the Commune to the beginning of the colonial wars and the return of the capitalist crisis which leads to the Russian-Japanese war of 1905, and then to the 1914 war, the conscience of the revolution is represented by Marx and Engels. From 1914 to 1918 during the first World War during which the Second International crumbles, it is Lenin with some comrades of few other countries, who represent the continuity and victorious progression of the movement.
1926 introduced a new unfavourable period for the revolution which saw the liquidation of the October victory. Only the Italian Left communist movement has maintained intact the theory of revolutionary Marxism and the promise of a revolutionary come-back can have crystallised in this movement alone. During the second World War the conditions became still worse, the whole proletariat adhering to the imperialist war and the false Stalinist socialism.
Today we are at the bottom of the depression and a come-back of the revolutionary movement cannot be envisaged in the near future. The length of the period of depression which we are experiencing corresponds to the seriousness of the degeneration as well as to the greater concentration of the capitalist forces. The third opportunistic wave unites the worst characteristics of the two preceding ones at the same time as the process of capitalist concentration in which the enemies strength lies is much stronger than after the first World War.
4. Today we are in the depths of the political depression, and although the possibilities of action are considerably reduced, the party, following revolutionary tradition, has no intention of breaking the historical line of preparation for a future large scale resurgence of the class struggle, which will integrate all the results of past experience. Restriction of practical activity does not imply the renunciation of revolutionary objectives. The party recognizes that in certain sectors its activity is quantitatively reduced, but this does not mean that the multi-faceted totality of its activity is altered, and it does not expressly renounce any of them.
5. Today, the principal activity is the
re-establishment of the
of Marxist communism. At present, our arm is still that of criticism:
is why the party will present no new doctrines but will instead
the full validity of the fundamental theses of revolutionary Marxism,
are amply confirmed by facts and falsified and betrayed by opportunism
to cover up retreats and defeats. The Marxist Left denounces and
the Stalinists as revisionists and opportunists just as it has always
all forms of bourgeois influence on the proletariat. The Party bases
action on anti-revisionist positions. From the very moment of its
on the political scene, Lenin fought against Bernstein’s revisionism
restored the original line, demolishing the factors of the two
– social democratic and social patriotic.
The Italian Left denounced from the very start the first tactical deviations inside the Third International as being the first symptoms of a third revision, which has been fully accomplished today, uniting the errors of the first two.
Because the proletariat is the last of the classes to be exploited, and consequently in its turn will exploit no one, the doctrine which arose alongside the class can neither be changed nor reformed. The development of capitalism, from its inception until now, has confirmed and continues to confirm the Marxist theorems set out in the fundamental texts. The alleged “innovations” and “teachings” of the last 30 years have only confirmed that capitalism is still alive and must be overthrown. The central focus point of the actual doctrinal position of our movement is therefore the following: no revision whatsoever of the primary principles of the proletarian revolution.
6. Today, the party registers social
phenomena scientifically in
to confirm the fundamental theses of Marxism. It analyses, confronts
comments on recent and contemporary facts, repudiating the doctrinal
tending to found new theories or to indicate the insufficiency of
as an explanation of the phenomena.
The same work, demolition of opportunism and deviationism as accomplished by Lenin (and defined in What is to be done) is still at the basis of our party activity thus following the example of militants of past periods of setback of the proletarian movement and of reinforcement of opportunist theories, that found in Marx, Engels, Lenin and in the Italian Left, violent and inflexible enemies.
7. Although small in number and having
but few links with the proletarian masses, the party is nevertheless
attached to its theoretical tasks which are of prime importance, and
of this true appreciation of its revolutionary duties in the present
it absolutely refuses to be considered either as a circle of thinkers
search of new truths, or as “renovators” who consider past truths
No movement can triumph in the historical reality without theoretical continuity, which is the condensation of the experience of past struggles. Consequently, party members are not granted personal freedom to elaborate and conjure up new schemes or explanations of the contemporary social world. They are not free as individuals to analyse, criticise and make forecasts, whatever their level of intellectual competence may be. The Party defends the integrity of a theory which is not the product of blind faith, but one whose content is the science of the proletarian class; developed from centuries of historical material, not by thinkers, but under the impulse of material events, and reflected in the historical consciousness of one revolutionary class and crystallized in its party. Material events have only confirmed the doctrine of revolutionary Marxism.
8. In spite of the small number of members which corresponds to the counter-revolutionary conditions, the Party continues its work of proselytism and of oral and written propaganda, it considers the writing and the distribution of its press as its principal activity in the actual phase, being one of the most effective means (in a situation where there are few and far between) to show the masses the political line they are to follow and diffuse systematically and more widely the principles of the revolutionary movement.
9. It is events, and not the desire or the decision of militants, which determine the depth of the Party’s penetration amongst the masses, limiting it today to a small part of its activity. Nevertheless, the Party loses no occasion to intervene in the clashes and vicissitudes of the class struggle, well aware that there can be no revival until this intervention has developed much further and become the main area of Party activity.
10. The acceleration of the process depends not only
on the profound social causes of historical crises, but also on the proselytism
and propaganda of the party, even with the reduced means at its disposal. The
party totally rules out the possibility of stimulating this process by means of
devices, stratagems and manoeuvres aimed at groups, leaders or parties who have
usurped the name “proletarian”, “socialist” or “communist”. These manoeuvres,
which permeated the tactics of the Third International as soon as Lenin withdrew
from political life, only resulted in the disintegration of the Comintern as the
theoretical and organizational force of the movement, ever ready to shed
fragments of the party on the road of “tactical expediency”. These methods were
recalled and re-evaluated by the Trotskyist movement of the Fourth
International, which wrongly considered them to be communist methods.
There are no ready-made recipes that will accelerate the resurgence of the class struggle. No manoeuvres and expedients exist that will get proletarians to listen to the voice of the class; such manoeuvres and expedients would not make the party appear to be what it truly is, but would be a misrepresentation of its function, to the detriment and prejudice of the effective resurgence of the revolutionary movement, which is based on the situation having really matured and the corresponding ability of the party to respond, being fit for this purpose only because of its doctrinaire and political inflexibility.
The Italian Left has always fought against resorting to expedients as a way of keeping its head above water, denouncing this as a deviation from principle which in no way adheres to Marxist determinism.
Along the lines of past experiences, the Party therefore withholds from making and accepting invitations, open letters or agitation slogans aiming to form committees, fronts or agreements with other political organisations whatever their nature.
11. The Party does not hide the fact that when things start moving again this will not only be felt by its own autonomous development, but by the starting up again of mass organisations. Although it could never be free of all enemy influence and has often acted as the vehicle of deep deviations; although it is not specifically a revolutionary instrument, the union cannot remain indifferent to the party who never gives up willingly to work there, which distinguishes it clearly from all other political groups who claim to be of the ”opposition“. The Party acknowledges that today, its work in the unions can be done but sporadically; it does not renounce however to enter into the economic organisations, and even to gain leadership as soon as the numerical relationship between its members and sympathisers on the one hand, the union members or a given branch on the other is suitable, so long as the union in question does not exclude all possibility of autonomous class action.
12. The international current to which we
belong cannot be
by its abstaining from voting, although the ”abstentionist fraction“
of the Italian socialist party played a preponderant part in the
of the Italian section of the III International, whose struggle and
to the Communist International on much more fundamental issues we
The capitalist State taking on a constantly more evident form of class dictatorship which Marxism has denounced since the beginning, parliamentarism loses necessarily all importance. The elected organs and the parliament of the old bourgeois tradition are no more than survivals. They have no content any longer, only the democratic phraseology subsists and this cannot hide the fact that at the moment of social crises, the State dictatorship is the ultimate resource or capitalism, and that the proletarian revolutionary violence must be directed against this State. In these conditions the Party discards all interest in elections of all kinds and develops no activity in this direction.
13. The cult of the individual is a very dangerous aspect of opportunism; it is natural that leaders who have grown old, may go over to the enemy and become conformists, and there have been but few exceptions to the rule. Experience has shown that revolutionary generations succeed each other rapidly. That is why the Party accords maximum attention to the young people and makes the greatest possible effort to recruit young militants and to prepare them for political activity, without any personal ambition or personality cult. In the present historical moment, deeply counter-revolutionary, the forming of young leaders capable of upholding the continuity and revolutionary tradition over a long period is necessary. Without the help of a new revolutionary generation the starting up of the movement is impossible.