|International Communist Party|
CONSIDERATIONS ON THE ORGANIC ACTIVITY OF THE PARTY WHEN THE GENERAL SITUATION IS HISTORICALLY UNFAVOURABLE
1. The so-called question of the party’s internal organisation has always been a subject in the positions of traditional Marxists and of the present Communist Left, born as opposition to the errors of the Moscow International. Naturally, such a topic is not to be isolated in a watertight compartment, but it is instead inseparable from the general framework of our positions.
2. What is part of the doctrine, of the party’s general theory, can be found in the classical texts; it is also exhaustively summarised in more recent works, in Italian texts such as the Rome and Lyon theses, and in many others with which the Left made known its prediction on the Third International’s ruin; as the phenomena the latter showed, were not smaller in gravity in respect to those of the Second. Such literature is partly being used still now, in the study on organisation (meant in its narrow sense as party organisation and not in the broad sense of proletarian organisation, in its varying historical and social forms) and we are not trying to summarise it here, referring the reader to the above mentioned texts and to the vast work in progress of the «Storia della Sinistra», of which the second volume is being prepared.
3. Anything concerning the party’s ideology and nature, being common to us all and beyond dispute, is left to the pure theory; and the same is for the relations between the party and its own proletarian class, that can be condensed in the obvious inference that only with the party and with the party action the proletariat becomes class for itself and for the revolution.
4. We are used to call questions of tactics – though we repeat that autonomous chapters or sections do not exist – those historically arising and going on in the relations between proletariat and other classes; between proletarian party and other proletarian organisations; and between the party and other bourgeois and non-proletarian parties.
5. The relation that exists between tactical solutions, such as not to
be condemned by doctrinal and theoretical principles, and the
multi-faceted development of objective situations, which are, in a
certain sense, external to the party, is undoubtedly very mutable;
but the Left has asserted that the party must master and anticipate
such relations in advance, as developed in the Rome Theses on
tactics, which was intended as a proposal for tactics at the
There are, synthesizing to the extreme, periods of objective favourable conditions, together with unfavourable conditions of the party as subject; there may be the opposite case; and there have been rare but suggestive examples of a well prepared party and of a social situation with the masses thrown towards the revolution; and towards the party which foresaw and described it in advance, as Lenin vindicated for Russia’s Bolsheviks.
6. By avoiding pedantic distinctions, we may wonder in which objective situation is today’s society. Certainly the answer is that it is the worst possible situation, and that a large part of proletariat is controlled by parties – hired by bourgeoisie – that prevent the proletariat itself from any class revolutionary movement; which is even worse than the crushing directly operated by bourgeoisie. It is not therefore possible to foresee how long it will take before – in this dead and shapeless situation – what we already termed as «polarisation» or «ionisation» of social molecules, takes place, preceding the outburst of the great class antagonism.
7. What are, in this unfavourable period, the
on the party’s internal organic dynamics? We always said, in all above
mentioned texts, that the party cannot avoid being influenced by the
of the real situation surrounding it. Therefore the big existing
parties are – necessarily and avowedly – opportunist.
It is a fundamental thesis of the Left, that our party must not abstain from resisting in such a situation; it must instead survive and hand down the flame, along the historical «thread of time». It will be a small party, not owing to our will or choice, but to ineluctable necessity. While thinking of the structure of this party, even in the Third International’s epoch of decadence, and in countless polemics, we rejected – with arguments that is now unnecessary recalling – several accusations. We don’t want a secret sect or élite party, refusing any contact with the outside, owing to a purity mania. We reject any formula of workerist or labour party excluding all non-proletarians; as it is a formula belonging to all historical opportunists. We don’t want to reduce the party to an organisation of a cultural, intellectual and scholastic type, as from polemics more than half a century old; neither do we believe, as certain anarchists and blanquists do, being imaginable a party involved in conspirative armed action and in hatching plots.
8. Given that the degenerating social complex
is focused on falsifying and destroying theory and sound doctrine,
the predominant task of today’s small party is the restoration of
with doctrinal value, although unfortunately the favourable setting in
which Lenin worked after the disaster of the First World War is
But this does not mean we should erect a barrier between theory and
action; beyond a certain limit that would destroy us along with our
principles. We thus lay claim to all forms of activity peculiar to the
favourable periods insofar as the real balance of forces render them
9. We should go into all this in a lot more depth, but we can still reach a conclusion about the party’s organizational structure during such a difficult transition. It would be a fatal error to consider the party as divisible into two groups, one dedicated to study and the other to action, because such a distinction is deadly not only for the party as a whole, but for the individual militant too. The underlying meaning of unitarism and of organic centralism is that the party develops within itself the organs suited to its various functions, called by us propaganda, proselytism, proletarian organization, union work, etc., until, in the future, there is the need for the armed organization; but nothing can be inferred from the number of comrades assigned to each function, since no comrade, as a matter of principle, should be uninvolved with any of them.
The fact that in the current phase the amount of comrades devoted to theory and the movement’s history may seem too many, and those ready for action too few, is historically fortuitous. It would be totally pointless to investigate how many are dedicated to each of these manifestations of energy. As we all know, when the situation becomes radicalized huge numbers of people, acting instinctively and unencumbered by the need to ape academia and get qualifications, will immediately take our side.
10. We know very well that the opportunist danger, ever
since Marx fought against Bakunin, Proudhon, Lassalle, and during all
further phases of the opportunist disease, has always been tied to the
influence on the proletariat of petty-bourgeois false allies.
Our infinite diffidence towards the contribution of these social strata cannot, and must not, prevent us from utilising – according to history’s mighty lessons – exceptional elements coming from them; the party will destine such elements to the work of setting the theory to order; the lack of such a work would only mean death, while in the future its plan of propagation will have to identify it with the immense extension of revolutionary masses.
11 - The violent sparks flashing between the rheophores of our dialectics have taught us that a revolutionary and militant communist comrade is one who has managed to forget, to renounce, to wrench from his heart and his mind the classification under which he has been inscribed in the registry of this putrefying society; one who can see and immerse himself in the entire millenary trajectory linking the ancestral tribal man, struggling with wild beasts, to the member of the future community, fraternal in the joyous harmony of the social man.
12. Historical party and formal party.
This distinction is in Marx and Engels and they had the right to deduce
from it that, being with their work on the line of the historical
they disdained to be members of any formal party. But no one of today’s
militants can infer from it he has the right to a choice: that is of
in the clear with the «historical party», and to care
nothing about the
formal party. Thus it is, owing to the sound intelligence of that
of Marx and Engels, which has a dialectical and historical sense – and
not because they were supermen of a very special type of race.
Marx says: party in its historical meaning, in the historical sense, and formal, or ephemeral, party. In the first concept lies the continuity, and from it we derived our characteristic thesis of the invariance of doctrine since its formulation made by Marx; not as invention of a genius, but as discovery of a result of human evolution. But the two concepts are not metaphysically opposite, and it would be silly to express them by the poor doctrine: I turn my back on the formal party, as I go towards the historical one.
When we infer from the invariant doctrine that the revolutionary victory of the working class can be achieved only by the class party and its dictatorship, and then go on to affirm, supported by Marx’s writings, that the pre revolutionary and communist party proletariat may be a class as far as bourgeois science is concerned, but isn’t by Marx or ourselves, then the conclusion to be deduced is that for victory to be achieved it will be necessary to have a party worthy of being described both as the historical and as the formal party, i.e., a party which has resolved within active historical reality the apparent contradiction – cause of so many problems in the past – between the historical party, and therefore as regards content (historical, invariant programme), and the contingent party, concerning its form, which acts as the force and physical praxis of a decisive part of the proletariat in struggle.
This synthetic clarification of the doctrinal question must also be quickly related to the historical transitions lying behind us.
13. The first transition from a body of small
and leagues – through which the workers’ struggle came out – to the
International party foreseen by doctrine, takes place when the First
is founded in 1864. There is no point now in reconstructing the process
leading to the crisis of such organisation, that under Marx’s direction
was defended to the last from infiltration of petty-bourgeois
such as those of libertarians.
In 1889 the Second International is built, after Marx’s death, but under Engels’s control, though his directions are not followed. For a moment there is the tendency to have again in the formal party the continuation of the historical one, but all that is broken up in the following years by the federalist and non-centralist type of party; by the influences of parliamentary practice and by the cult of democracy; by the nationalist outlook on individual sections, no longer conceived as armies at war against their own state, as wanted by the 1848 Manifesto; rises the open revisionism disparaging the historical end and exalting the contingent and formal movement.
The rising of Third International, after the 1914 disastrous failure of almost all sections into pure democratism and nationalism, was seen by us – in the first years after 1919 – as the complete reconnection of historical party and formal party. The new International rose declaredly centralist and anti-democratic, but the historical praxis of the entrance into it of the sections federate to the failed International was particularly difficult, and made too hurried by the expectation that the transition, from the seizure of power in Russia to that in other European countries, would be immediate.
If the section arisen in Italy from the ruins of the old party of the Second International was particularly prone, not by virtue of particular persons certainly, but for historical reasons, to feeling the necessity of welding the historical movement to its present form, this was due to the hard struggles it had waged against degenerated forms and its consequent refusal to tolerate infiltrations; which were attempted not only by forces dominated by nationalist, parliamentary and democratic type positions, but also by those (in Italy, maximalism) influenced by anarcho-syndicalist, petty-bourgeois revolutionism. This left-wing current fought in particular to establish more rigid membership conditions (construction of the new formal structure), and it applied them fully in Italy; and when they gave imperfect results in France, Germany etc., it was the first to sense the danger to the International as a whole.
The historical situation, in which the proletarian State had only been formed in one country, whilst the conquest of power had not been achieved in any of the others, rendered the clear organic solution, that of leaving the helm of the world organisation in the hands of the Russian section, highly problematic.
The Left was the first to notice that whenever there were deviations in the conduct of the Russian State, both in relation to domestic economy and international relations, a discrepancy would arise between the policies of the historical party, i.e. of all revolutionary communists throughout the world, and those of the formal party, which was defending the interests of the contingent Russian State.
14. Since then the abyss has deepened to the extent that the “apparent” sections, which are dependent on the Russian leader-party, are now involved, in the ephemeral sense, in a vulgar policy of collaboration with the bourgeoisie that is no better than the traditional collaboration of the corrupted parties of the Second International.
This has produced a situation in which the groups derived from the struggle of the Italian Left against Moscow’s degeneration have been given the chance (we don’t say the right) to better understand the road which the real, active (and therefore formal) party must follow in order to remain faithful to those features which distinguish the revolutionary, historical party; a party which has existed, at least in a potential sense, since 1847, whilst from a practical point of view it has established itself in key historical events as a participant in the tragic series of revolutionary defeats.
The transmission of this un-deformed tradition into efforts to form a new international party organisation without any historic breaks, may not, in an organisational sense, be based on men chosen because they would be best at it or most knowledgeable about the historical doctrine, and yet, in an organic sense, such a transmission nevertheless has to remain totally faithful to the line connecting the actions of the group which first gave expression to it forty years ago to the line as is exists today. The new movement should expect neither supermen nor messiahs, but must be based on a rekindling of as much as it has been possible to preserve over the long intervening period, and the preservation cannot be restricted to just theses and documents but must also include the living instruments who constitute the old guard, entrusted with the task of handing on the uncorrupted and powerful party tradition to the young guard. The latter rushes off towards new revolutions, that might have to wait not more than a decade from now the action on the foreground of historical scene; the party and the revolution having no concern at all for the names of the former and the latter.
The correct transmission of that tradition beyond generations – and also for this beyond names of dead or living men – cannot be restricted to that of critical texts, nor only to the method of utilising the communist party’s doctrine by being close and faithful to classical texts; it must be related to the class battle that the Marxist Left – we don’t want to limit the revival only to the Italian region – set out and carried out in the most inflamed real struggle during the years after 1919, and that was broken, more than by the force relations with respect to the enemy class, by the dependence on the centre, degenerating from centre of the historical world party to that of an ephemeral party, destroyed by opportunist pathology, until such dependence was, historically and de facto, broken.
The Left actually tried, without breaking from the principle of globally centralised discipline, to wage a revolutionary defensive war by keeping the vanguard proletariat immunised against the collusion of the middle classes, their parties and their doomed-to-defeat ideologies. Since this historic chance of saving if not the revolution at least the core of its historical party was also missed, today it has started again in a situation which is objectively torpid and indifferent, in the midst of a proletariat riddled with petty-bourgeois democratism; but the nascent organisation, using its entire doctrinal tradition and praxis, verified historically by its timely predictions, also applies it in its everyday activity too, through its efforts to re-establish ever wider contact with the exploited masses; and it also eliminates from its own structure one of the parting errors of the Moscow International, by getting rid of the thesis of democratic centralism and the application of any voting mechanism, just as it has eliminated from the thought processes of every last one of its members any concession to democratic, pacifist, autonomist or libertarian tendencies.
It is in this sense that we attempt to take further steps, by using the many long years of bitter experience to head off further attacks on the historical party’s political line, by obliterating all the misery and pettiness we have seen in the comings and goings of the many, unfortunate, formal parties. By doing so, we are also heeding the warnings of the first, great masters about the difficulties of combating those influences emanating from the bourgeois commercial environment, such as personal adulation, and a vulgar chasing after supremacy and a dunce’s popularity, which so often bring to mind those who, with serene indignation, Marx and Engels budged aside to stop them fouling their path.