International Communist Party Back to C.L. index - No.4 - No.6
"COMMUNIST LEFT" No.5
January - June 1992
– Editorial: U.S. Riots - American dream under fire
– YUGOSLAVIA: Not ethnic war but global imperialist conflict - Serbia another Sarajevo?
RUSSIA: Liquidators liquidated
– NATURE AND COMMUNIST REVOLUTION: 1. The "ruin of all classes" - 2. The fetish character of the commodity - 3. Mystical Body - 4. Communist mysticism - 5. From the truly great economy to the truly great ecology
AN HISTORICAL OUTLINE OF THE UNION MOVEMENT IN ARGENTINA
THE ITALIAN LEFT AND THE COMMUNIST INTERNATIONAL ( part.2 ) 1919-1926  
THREE TEXSTS OF THE ITALIAN LEFT ON ANARCHISM
     - Socialism_and_anarchy, Il Soviet, no. 13, 16-3-1919
     - Socialists and anarchists, Il Soviet, no. 2, 11-1-1920
     - Bolshevism defamed by the anarchists, Il Soviet, no. 15, 23-5-1920
REUNION REPORT:
   - 1991, A successful general reunion of the party in Turin
– Current events:
   - London Undergroun Strike - Underground tremors hit capital
   - Leaflet On The Election In The U.K. - Ignore the elections, continue the struggles




Editorial
US Riots
American dream under fire

At the end of April, riots broke out in Los Angeles which for three days threatened to destabilize the American Government, bringing the social system in the United States into sharp relief. As the economic crisis deepens, the appalling consequence of bourgeois rule and their accursed market system, riots are becoming neither unusual, nor confined to America, The Land of The Free and The Home of the Brave? Perhaps the looters took the above phrase literally and indulged in their own form of free shopping sprees. The initial anger at the results of a trial of policemen turned quickly into social disorder, mounting despair erupting into a social earthquake of mega proportions. California is famous for its geological fault lines which produce physical tremors aid earthquakes; evidently, the economic fault lines with social tremors and quakes are no less destructive. Not only were National Guards put on to the streets (generally speaking the Middle Class under arms) but also combat troops were rushed in. Troops who had been deployed in the Middle East during the Gulf War found themselves where they never thought they would be sent – to quell disorder in an American city. As the British newspaper, the Observer, put it in its banner headline – Superpower retakes gutted second city,

The flash point which sparked off the riots was the trial clearing four L.A. policemen of assaulting a black motorist – it is worth adding that the motorist, Rodney King, was not ’merely’ black but also a working class person, the type of person who is fair game for police violence in cities the world over. The trial of these four cops, whose violent attacks and brutal beatings were caught on video tape and showed to the court, was moved to Simi Valley to be ’fair’ to the defence. This Simi Valley is the area where the majority of police live (surprise, surprise!), it is also the location for the Ronald Reagan Memorial Library and the venue for Michael Gorbachev’s speech asking for money for the Gorbachev Institutes – a veritable bastion of Law and Order.

The sheer outrage at the clearing of these four police is understandable: if they had been black or strikers, and had the same type of evidence brought against them, they would have gone down for a long time. It demonstrates what the state and legal system is there for, to dispense law and order rather than justice. The intensity of the explosion was no doubt due to two factors – the poverty of the lives of people in the Watts area of L A, and perhaps more significantly the ’failure’ of Justice as espoused by the equal rights lobbies. After months of ’give Justice a chance’, especially from those who have been working their way into the state system (remember that the mayor of L.A. is black), the whole strategy of equal rights lies in tatters. What other recourse was there but for anger to take to the streets?

The anger was first of all, taken out on the police, then on property and other symbols of wealth, then finally on the super-markets, which were loaded up to the ceiling with goods which the poor could not afford. There are certain areas which the state can allow to burn (like down-town Watts) in order to contain the inferno, but when it spreads to Hollywood, the glittering centre of the Dream Factory, this is too much for the capitalists. The very Temples of Wealth are being desecrated. The American Dream is being torn asunder revealing the living night-mare which is American society. This particular riot, unlike so many in the past in U.S. cities, was far too close for comfort. The poor and dispossessed may be invading the mansions of the film stars next time round. That is a thought that is sending shivers down the collective spines of the American ruling class.

Besides the cleared-out stores, over forty were killed, thousands arrested and half a billion dollars worth of damage to property was estimated. Courts were held instantly, in order to dish out summary ’Justice’ to those arrested for looting. Respect for property (other people’s) needed to be upheld. For many who appeared before the courts it is just a way of life. Before these riots a third of the young black males in Watts were either in gaol, awaiting trial or on ball. Now that percentage will be much higher.

At first the media was tried to present these riots as Race Riots, black against white. This soon had to be abandoned when it was shown that black and white people were jointly looting, but more importantly Asian shop-keepers were organising their own vigilantee patrols against looters. How many of the latter were killed, or rather murdered, by shopkeepers will perhaps never be known. The brutality, the racial slurs (lazy black people) and sheer vindictiveness would probably put the Ku Klux Klan in the shade. In order to finally dispense the notion of ’race riots’ it is worth pointing out that black businesses were cleared out as well. It was clearly an uprising of the poor and dispossessed protesting at their appalling conditions and lack of hope, it would be a mistake to make too much out of this event and to see it a revolutionary explosion; that would mean and depend upon class organisation which is lacking at the moment.

The exponents of the ’American Dream’ blame the poor for their own situation. They say that those who want to be rich can make it by hard work and determination. Those who don’t make it are those who don’t want to put in the work – so it’s all their own fault. This is where the racial and class slurs come in – blacks are lazy, Portoricans and latinos can never work hard enough, etc., etc. It all has a very familiar ring. The poor bring it upon themselves proclaim the bourgeoisie in chorus. They praise the market system as the way to solve all the problems of production and consumption. Well, it’s alright for those who have money and can afford to pay for the products they want (or can be induced to needlessly consume whether they like it or not). But for the poor who can not afford it, what are their prospects? They stand outside this fancy world, internal exiles (economically speaking) boxed out of consumption by a financial curfew. But those who parade the glories of the market system only talk about buying and selling in the shops. They don’t talk about the most important market of all – the labour market. It is the desire, the necessity to keep down the wage levels of the working class which keeps profitability high. It is the need to keep the expenditure on wage labour low which keeps unemployment high and part-time employment as the preferred option for the boss class. It is this labour market which leads to massive amounts of wealth piled up in one place while massive poverty is spread throughout whole areas. It is precisely for this that the overwhelming majority of the population can never make it in the ’American Dream’. It is a Dream for keeping the majority quiet in the belief, the hope, the desire of making it and walking over the poor and dispossessed in due course. It is this impossibility for the majority to make it in the market system which poses the alternative of the destruction of the market system.

Against those who defend the market system we say that the amassing of the disgusting levels of wealth on the one hand and the massive levels of poverty and dispossession IS THE MARKET SYSTEM WORKING ITS WAY OUT! There are no ways of tinkering with the market in order to redistribute the wealth more evenly. The looters came forward with their own proposals for the redistribution of wealth. We communists have our own programme for the redistribution of the means of living, stripped of all the garbage about money value.

It is this fundamental antagonism which needs to be brought to the fore against the notions of modifying the market system. There are of course the equal rights lobbies who point out that sections of the population have less chance of ’making it’, whether because of the racial origin or sex. To clarify the situation we would point out that this only makes clear the appalling levels of oppression, of exploitation which prevents the overwhelming majority from getting to the top. The very process of ’making it’ means there has to be a corresponding mass of people below, upon which to base the accumulation, of wealth. The rich literally take the bread out of the mouths of the poor, not personally but through the accursed market system.

There are others, like Galbraith, who issue warnings to the ruling class that if they don’t make changes to the political system in order to accommodate political aspirations, social explosions can not be avoided. Galbraith’s notions of a society propped up by contented majority are a final defence of capitalism, a warning to the ruling class that if too many people get discontented the final barriers to social revolution may fall. With the increasing crises of capitalism we will see whether this contented majority will be so ready to continue defending this crazy anarchic system, especially as more and more will be forced down amongst these those who never made it. Now that will make up an even more potentially explosive cocktail.


 

 



Yugoslavia
Not ethnic war but global imperialist conflict

Serbia, Another Sarejevo?

With the Yalta pact equilibrium redundant (our party has examined the reasons for that in detail elsewhere), with the mask of alleged ‘Russian communism’ fast drooping away, the assets of the national states, and the states without nations, are up for grabs once again. Such is the grim legacy left by 45 years of a status-quo guaranteed by the phoney ideological glue of Stalinism.

     The threat of the balkanisation of relations between capitalist states, throughout Europe and parts of Asia, can no longer be said to be just one of our inventions and we must deepen our understanding of the causes of the present political ’instability’. In essence, we remain firmly of the idea that conflicts between states are fundamentally conflicts between classes; in other words, we aren’t so naive as to believe that the class struggle for Socialism will happen exactly as we would like, that is, just to suit us and keep us happy.

None of the bourgeois rags have failed to draw a parallel between the events in Yugoslavia and Sarajevo. Anyone who has read a single history book will recall that the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Hapsburg initiated the 1st World War, which even then we called imperialist - though many in Italy, even today, persist in calling it the 4th war of Italian Independence.

     Since Billions of proletarians are still incapacitated by opportunist dope (nevertheless there are stirrings), since no political leadership has been provided by those parties that like to appeal to the working class, it seems incumbent on us to emphasize that the factors which led to the 1st World War were very different from those which led to the one now taking place in Yugoslavia: .

1) Though it is true that class struggles determine the outcome of struggles between states, the situation now is different from 1914. Europe has become a definitively global power, and though it remains the epicentre of crises, and their acceleration, it has a proletariat that has borne the consequences of 70 years of counter-revolution; in view of which the application of the term thermidorian to this phase, as analogous to bourgeois history, is really bit of a joke.

2) The Western workers, during the historical period in question, would be slaughtered in their millions due to their lack of revolutionary response to the Russian 1917. This bitter defeat would eventually be sealed by the betrayal of stalinism, then a second tragic bloodletting would follow the 2nd imperialist conflict when the proletariat would fight on national fronts rather than on its own class terrain. The grave disorientation which was the result has certainly not dispelled by the dismantlement of the Berlin Wall, nor by the events in Moscow in 1991 which have been laughably described as the ’revolutionary’ August.

3) The upshot is, the menace of the balkanisation of Europe, presently underway, finds workers’ organisations (and this is an objective fact) at their lowest ebb both from a statistical and political point of view. There remains only the barely discernible voice of our party, to which is entrusted (you either accept or not) the red thread of the communist revolution.

4) If we briefly refer here to the conditions which Lenin so accurately held to be necessary for communist revolution, we must emphasize that whilst some of the factors have been around for some time, others are at present completely non-existent. Thus:

a) The ruling bourgeois class must be experiencing a profound crisis rendering it incapable of long-term perspectives. We need only consider the much reduced profit-margins in our own economy, which are only to be expected from this mode of production. It is suffering from a senile asphyxia which no injection can cure or rejuvenate; and this despite the great promises, which are still just promises, of an unlimited market in the Russian El Dorado. In fact exaggerated and facile optimism has been honed to a fine art in the present intoxicated climate. A crisis for the bourgeoisie, then, undoubtedly exists, but we must take account of the fact that they can tolerate a certain margin of discomfort as long as they avoid a head-on clash with their historic enemy. But the proletariat is currently all wrapped up in organisations, including both political parties and nationalist unions, that are linked to the bourgeois state. This fact is due in no small measure to the reformist politics of opportunism.

b) The western working-class, after its genuine but confused stirrings in 1969, has fully borne the brunt of the normalizing manoevres of the various states. Since then, only in only very few regions have real fights broken out and even there these were restricted to economic terrain, and/or creating a national network. In fact we are thinking of the events in Poland, despite the inevitable political outcome which everyone knows, nor should we forget the recent strike actions of the Russian miners, whose role in recent certainly events merits further investigation.

c) The great Workers’ battalions have gone to ground at the moment, diving for cover to avoid the daily bombshells dropped on their heads by the fake workers’ parties: parties which are now ashamed to be designated as such, and are falling over themselves to change their names to ’democratic’ as quickly as possible.

d) The historical party of the revolution is unfortunately reduced to minimal proportions, but, even so, we shouldn’t delude ourselves (we haven’t so far) that we can ’bridge the chasm’ between party and class with subjectivism and pubroom plotting as some foolishly assert.

     Right now, we who were accused in the twenties of ’revolutionary nihilism’ might be accused of the same thing again. It wouldn’t surprise us, but we should say that at present there is all the more reason for not creating, in our heads, historically favourable situations for revolution: it would be a funny kind of materialism if we did – even if it were dialectical!

     We contend that the balkanisation of states (and classes…) is a side-effect of a profound, drug-addicted social crisis, and that the extension of the struggle between opposed regionalisms corresponds to the nowadays armed attempts to corner the sources of finance for the development of capital in the respective areas.

     The working class, which is bound to suffer most from this conflict, will be forced into forming, once again, its own, autonomous, class organisations until finally it re-establishes organic links with its historical party.

     Are we sermonising? talking of utopias? We are not afraid to say that we base our convictions on our theorems, and that these take into account the collapse of fake socialism. This view, for many, is too catastrophic to contemplate. The Revolution is a practical question that only those equipped with the fundamental theorems will be able to lead. For us though, leadership is a historical phenomenon and not simply to do with leaders per se, and neither is it to do with battles between great persons, or for that matter between all the various movements.

     Whatever the circumstances, we do our bit and carry out our function without harbouring the vain illusion that statues will be put up to commemorate us. Luckily such statues wouldn’t last long anyway before being toppled if the current wave of statue demolishing is anything to go by; hopefully though, in the future, it will be the working class doing the demolishing and not manic bourgeois democrats. Those who don’t attain that level of revolutionary maturity - as we said in 1966 a propos organic centralism and the life of the internal modules of the party - end up settling for the milk and honey of market anarchy, with all its by-products.

 

 

 


Russia

The liquidators liquidated

Despite the much heralded change of government in Russia after 70 years of one party rule, and the much delayed confession of capitalism, still we say there is neither revolution or counter-revolution in Russia. In fact the whole affair has been so farcical that even the democrats themselves were probably rather embarrassed about it. The vulgarity of the dismissed national communists and those of unknown denomination who have replaced them has given a distinctly bourgeois flavour to the whole mise-en-scene of this ’failed putsch’; there is Gorbachev-the-Good, who spends a week at the seaside; then the main representatives of the state who organise a palace coup without arresting a single opponent or cutting a single telephone line; and there are the democrats, who neither wish to nor can really get rid of the old personnel, or indeed really change the old administered economy either – and they are patently unable to mobilise the working class since all they can muster are a few Moscow intellectuals. Meanwhile, the pope of liberty himself, George Bush, gives his blessings to the proceedings and promises his continued support. No doubt next thing there will be a big rock festival in the government square.

But underneath it all, certain things carry on as usual: namely the state, the police, the army and the banks, who have never for one minute lost their control over the subjected orders and classes – despite the fact that democratic behinds have succeeded to the armchairs of the bureaucrats.

Russian capital, which is a network of financial interests on a continental scale, is being strangled by the fall in the rate of profit, agreed, but no longer by its ’rich’ western and oriental rivals. Incarnated in a thriving bourgeois class of contractors, rentiers and commercial sector, now fully developed and emancipated from the protection of the state that constructed and accumulated on its behalf, Russian capital is giving its notices of dismissal to the huge caste of functionaries reared within the confines of the CPSU, bloated and inefficient. The Russian bourgeoisie wishes to free itself from the ’conservative’ party-state which until so very recently provided the required economic, political and ideological backbone needed to keep the empire in their hands both within and outside Russia. This apparatus now represents a net loss. First it loses the Afghan war, then its European territory, next the Iraqi ally is abandoned. Meanwhile within Russia, it retains its hold over the factory management committees, the Kolkhozes and Sovkhozes, and resists the actuation of restructuring, which would affects its hierarchy and various tinpot leaders. But the proposed expropriation of the personal property and real estate of the PCUS would certainly have effects on vested interests which go way beyond the mere dismissal of the highly paid functionaries, perks included.

At the end of the day, the democrats, all ex-national-communists in fact, can only make the most superficial changes: Russia isn’t just Moscow and Leningrad (now St. Petersburg... again), and it will be far easier to take back the Smolny than to change the directors of the kolkhozes... Kolkhozes and sovkhozes will only be taken by a revolution... a real revolution. The bourgeoisie can only expel them from without, starve them out with the low prices of the reformed market, but that in itself will need tens of years and a veritable social earthquake when we consider that fully a fifth of the population is still engaged in agriculture.

As to the rest, the change of personnel in the corridors of the Kremlin, in the republican parliaments, the changing colours of the flags, it won’t prevent the belated Russian capitalist crisis from going into a nose dive as it is just part of a generalised global end of the century crisis. Their problem is not one of finding a reform programme of liberal stamp, as a matter of fact all the parties have that in common, but putting it into effect. The shipyard workers of Gdansk know you can’t eat democracy, and probably the miners of Donbass already know it too, even if they do have more vodka to drown their sorrows with.

The various nationalisms themselves, whether great Russia or the independence movements, don’t, despite appearances, point to the breaking up of the Empire, they are rather a demagogic sop to the perennially nauseating petty-bourgeoisie, incapable of knowing any other ideals. The bourgeoisie now has one historic project alone – reaction – causing it to vigorously deny its own nationalist past. Only an imperialist war will significantly change the present borders, despite the reunification of Germany. But although the current lay-out of the world imperialist powers is certainly charged with enormous tensions ready to explode the old set-up, there are numerous conflicting interests which prevent this at present. The new Russian-American bloc serves primarily the interests of the USA, and secondly Russia, against their real competitors Germany and Japan. As for the Baltic republics – with two, three or four million inhabitants – they will never be really independent like the Ukrainians, the White Russians and the Asians, they are part of the same economic web and within range of the same nuclear arsenal of the same army.

At the end of the day the real problem for Russian imperialism is finding its bearings in the world of polygon of diplomatic and military forces, and the Russian bear might quite conceivably change its mind about lapping up the honey of American liberty, or being ’looked after’ in the ’common European homeland’; it could suddenly decide it would be better accommodated by sharing a ’common home’ with Asia...

Much as we deny that communism – the swindle of national communism that is – can ever be resuscitated to express proletarian interests, we equally deny that democracy has won the day: in the chromosomes of capital the peaceable democratic gene is recessive, whilst the bellicose fascist one is dominant. Who the next fascist Duce may happen to be, some ham-actor or other, is not of the slightest importance, but suffice it to say that it wasn’t peace and liberty which was established in Moscow this August, rather it marked the first stage in the moves toward war and oppression between states.

The ghastly hymns to the death of communism being sung by the bourgeoisie are directed against the proletariat alone. The bourgeois classes seem to think that by getting the lumpen-proletariat of the Russian metropoli to demolish statues of Lenin and Marx (a good thing too, one falsehood less), they have destroyed communism. As for real communism, remembered and understood by the exploited of the whole world (including Russia, where they instinctively didn’t line up on either of the bourgeois fronts) yes, our communism was defeated, not today, but in the middle of the 1920’s. It will go better next time. And there certainly will be a next time.
 
 
 

 



Nature and communist revolution

1. The "ruin of all classes"

The revolutionary communist uses the hypothesis of the revolution not the negative assumption, of which even Marx spoke, of the "ruin of all classes".

This does not mean to say that we deny such a possibility out of hand, it is just, and surely this much is obvious, we can’t count on just a simple negation. This is especially so as we are in a phase of history in which bourgeois thinking does everything possible to portray reality as resolvable into ’nothingness’: this negation is one of hatred towards life in general, a denigration, with nothing but the crises in life represented.

We have always refused to play the role of mere analysts, or that of aspiring grave diggers or ’decadence’. The attitude of the revolutionary is not to see things in black and white, nor indeed in black alone as occurs among the unhinged ideologies of the contemporary ’strong’ and ’weak’ schools of thought. The recognition of the dialectical nature of reality excludes sophistical dialectics in that the latter is openly eristic and rhetorical.

The theoreticians of Entropy like to represent natural and social reality as a closed system for conveniences sake, whilst the supporters of ’neutral’ science do so supposedly unencumbered by any debt to so-called ’subjectivist intrusions’. In the present work, we still show why we are convinced that it is not a closed system, but is instead a reality which is open and infinite, before which official science is impotent because of its preference for the comfort of the secondary, artificial nature of the laboratory; in other words, nature’s negation.

Regarding physiology for instance: it is hunger which sharpens the mind! The spirit depresses it. It is the hungry classes putting pressure on the well-fed which is the motor of history; though this doesn’t have to mean that the hungry automatically overthrow the state of the sated ones.

The latter notion is in fact a simplification made by the priests, a banner unfurled from the exalted heights of their millenary experience aiming to put the dominant classes on their guard about the possible dangers! But, precisely because hunger does sharpen the intelligence, the latter cannot then be a natural, spontaneous product. Historical and social experience shows that intelligence, (theory), is equivalent to the mind and brain, that is, dialectically accumulated experience with all its attendant highs and lows. Such accumulation requires an explanation, and we make the assertion that this process is explained by the history of the struggle of classes as outlined by historical and dialectical materialism.

Even when bourgeois ideology, with its more passable geniuses like Nietzsche, discloses the value of physiology and the poverty of the spirit and philosophy, it never moves beyond the individual hero, thereby ending up merely providing a figure who can easily be mystified by shopkeepers unable to understand such acrobatic capers which only a dancer like Nietzsche could achieve... though not without breaking his neck in the process!

Only the historical and dialectical materialism of revolutionary communism can propose the advent of a really profound physiology on a social level, that is, the unitary, non-verbal, spiritual reality which we call Gemeinwesen. "The true human nature is the true Community (Gemeinwesen) of the human being", Marx.
 

2. The fetish character of the commodity

As far as psychoanalysis is concerned, fetishism is a neurotic pathology which derives from the child’s exasperation at being attached to its mother’s skirts. In that case then, in what does the fetish character of the commodity consist? To whose skirts has the bourgeoisie been over-attached since childhood? Yes, its plain! those of Mother Nature, not seen in her dialectical expression though, but in her metaphysical and abstract expression.

Thus we have the allegedly natural economic laws of the classical economists (though not the feeble economics of the epigones!) which, despite all evidence to the contrary, sees laws as fundamentally static and insuperable.

The commodity becomes a fetish because the bourgeoisie hypostatizes the "Great Mother", and every time it sees her degraded and caused offence (by its own hand) it claims that to violate her is an impossibility (the immaculate conception). It is as if to say: the commodity is sacred, there is no other alternative.

We have hinted at the pathological and unhealthily neurotic nature of such an attitude, but we must also underline the phenomenological aspects of this state of affairs: in what way exactly does the bourgeoisie hang onto the petticoats of the commodity fetish? We answer that it is in considering the market regime as the boundary and the one instrument for the stabilization of social energies: In actual fact though, because of its congenital incapacity, the market is the negation of the species economy, and the bourgeoisie is incapable of founding a truly great economy that is equivalent to arriving at a genuine physiology – a knowledge of the body – because it renounces the theory of ’corporeality’ as they consider it an abstraction. The true knowledge of the body lies in resolving the interchange between mankind-nature according to a reciprocal integration that is equivalent to, in material terms, the "naturalization of man and the humanisation of nature".
 

3. Mystical Body

On the other hand, past prefigurations of communist societies (classist ones that is!) are ideologically inverted expressions of the need for communism. The allusion to the ’mystical body’ (leaving aside the spiritist interpretations of the dominant classes) indicates the requirement, remaining ever unsatisfied, of the species to provide for itself together according to the communist formula "to each according to his needs, from each according to his abilities".

Only communism manages to perceive in the dialectical process of class struggle the necessary lever for the attainment of the regime of social species; a regime in which individual and society form a coherent unity without all the contradictions of bourgeois society and indeed of all class societies. In class societies, the most we can expect is a symbolic communal meal, but not a genuine physiological reality of the mystical body, meaning literally a body which sees without eyes like the Greek Mistes, the soothsayer who sees better than ordinary sighted mortals.
 

4. Communist mysticism

It follows from this that the one society capable of mysticism is communism.

But far from the jaded interpretation dreamed up by the schools of bourgeois analytical thought, this doesn’t signify confusion or undifferentiation, but rather Gemeinwesen, namely order existing in fact (i.e. not abstract order). That is to say, the reality of the species, realised and still expanding, in which life is really capable of producing and reproducing itself according to a plan, not as and end in itself but as an actual way of living. The species is mystical because it is able to see itself without finding a contradiction between the hic et nunc, though more often than not this is taken as meaning the survival of class society and its future as the ’natural’ development of its premises, rather than the sun which is yet to rise.

We have always claimed that the one reality which can live this projected kind of life (and tries it out) during the domination of class society, is the party.

Therefore it is in this sense that the party has its own "mysticism" understood in the sense of the ability to see... with closed eyes; its ability to see more than the individual eye of single militants, to live out this way of life in its internal relations.

The party has the advantage of a general and total vision, the party is communism unfolding before our eyes.
 

5. From the truly great economy to the truly great ecology

From the differentiation of the laws of development of bourgeois society to socialism.

Capitalist society has shown itself incapable of conceiving of a really great economy, it can neither make it happen nor can it locate its dialectical laws, and it is a blasphemy when it claims to be tracing out a plan for a large-scale ecology with the imagery of an alleged ’breath’, of a great rhythmical breath that allegedly corresponds to the Sanskrit: to be = to breath = living being which breaths to its fullest extent. Only in communism does high philosophy and being converge into an organic circuit that connects eating (today considered trivial and unworthy of the spirit) with the breath of spirit, conceived sublimely as truly worth of the complete being, that is God.

It is not for nothing that the word God in Italian, ’Dio’, is equivalent in etymological terms to living being or one who breathes eternally.

 

 

 



An historical outline of the union movement in Argentina

1. At the time of the fall of president Irigoyen, trade-unionism was still dominated by - social-democrats, anarchists, Stalinists and revolutionary syndicalists. This same Government-, the first democratic one in Argentina, had been involved in negotiations with the various trade-union currents, initiating a ’new type’ of relationship with the working class. The provisional Government, of General Uriburu which followed expressed an openly corporative regime, which, through an Office for Labour Relations, tried out a type of reformism in which trade-unions as such were prohibited.

     With the "patriotic front" of General Justo the unions turn to legality, although maintaining distinct political positions. A movement towards unification gets underway eventually leading to the formation of the Confederazione Generale del Lavoro (CGT) which will come under the sway of socialists and Stalinists. In this period Trotskyism makes its influence felt.

     Socialism, from the 21st Congress on, tales up positions remarkably akin to nationalism, proposing barriers against foreign capital, and adopting a ’national way’ as its politics.

     In 1938 the Government renews the prohibitions of 1935 on the Unions displaying the Bed flag or any other devices that symbolise political ideology in the unions.

     It is from this period that the distinguishing features of Argentinian trade-unionism emerge, with the help of the revolutionary syndicalists: nationalism, which though ’left-wing’, is anti-imperialist, conciliatory, reformist, pledging itself to remaining within the strictures of the economy. The more right-wing sectors have already begun to allow that the interests of capitalism coincide with the workers’ interests. . .

2. The provisional Government which emerges from the Coup of 1943 will found the Secretariat of Labour and Social Security which will be entrusted to the then Colonel Peron who will set about centralizing the unions. A product of this period is a refounding of the old unions and the foundation of new ones, but all under the direction of the State.

     Finally the tendency towards centralization in the unions will lead to official state control. These same unions will have a fundamental role in the elections of October 17th 1945 which carry Peron to presidential office.

     In the process of becoming organs of the State, with officials nominated from above, the statutes are modified and at the CGT congress of 1950 there is the denunciation of communists arid marxists, with article 4 of the CGT constitution forbidding them from militating in the unions.

     On May 1st of the following year, during the official CGT demonstration the secretary general, Espejo, will be challenged by the crowd and greeted with hissing and booing.

     In the same year the Feronist government held its "productivity congresses", but the working class is otherwise engaged, preoccupied with a new wave of struggles: the main battles are conducted by the railway workers, which has to operate within a network militarised by the government; the other important battle is fought by the bank workers.

     The class struggle spreads and extends faster and faster but is interrupted by the coup of September 1955 (see our press of the time: Programme Comunista, no. 17 of 1955). The CGT is taken to court and its funds sequestrated, most of its leaders go into hiding, into exile, or are imprisoned.

3. Under the provisional governments firstly of general Lonardi, and then of general Aramburu (1955), the stance of the CGT leadership is to negotiate. In a certain way they had succeeded with this approach under Peron, although the equipment and the funds of the unions weren’t restored. Peronism, which is forbidden under Law 4161 (affecting Peron and some members of his government) proceeds to form an electoral agreement with a wing of the "radicals", that led by Dr. Frondizi. The latter promises Peron and the Trade-union leadership that it will maintain the integrity of the CGT and restore all the funds confiscated from the bureaucracy. When Frondizi arrives in Government there occurs the so-called "integracion": the union wealth is restored to the union leadership, which thereupon returns to its previous stance of not opposing government actions.

     Frondizi is overthrown on 29/3/62 and things change again. There follows the historical period known as the "Peronist resistance". During this time certain proletarian groups influenced by class politics arise, whilst the union leadership operates in its own, and the bourgeoisie’s, interests.

     Next the CGT leaders oppose Illia’s "radical" government, which had indicated its wish to “democratise" the unions, thereby clashing with Peron.

     It is in this period that Augusto Vandor, who starts out as a delegate from the "Philips" factories, becomes the greatest leader of the metalworkers. Opposing Peron, his proposal is for a Peronism without Peron, for fully integrated unions separated from the state power.

4. When on 24 March I966 the Illia government is overthrown, August Vandor and his friends are there at the installation ceremony of the latest dictator, general Ongania, signaling their future support. The CGT now splits, out of which emerges the CGTA (Argentinian CGT). This organisation claims to be more ’left-wing’ since it represents ’all’ workers plus ’the people’. It is directed by the social-democrat Ongaro and social democrats predominate over other tendencies: in fact, given its declared aims it might just as well have been a labourist party instead.

     What is important about this period is that intermediate tendencies arise breaking with the past which start to talk of socialism; even if Russia, Cuba, and Algeria etc. are often considered socialist as such. The whole of this epoch is accompanied by the hegemony of the "Montoneros", a pseudo-revolutionary Peronist grouping, and the PRT-ERP which bases itself on military action.

     This whole process leads to the popular rebellions known as "Cordobazo", "Rosariazo" etc..: taking place between 1968 and 1970, they are named after the towns which become the epicentres of revolt, provincial capitals with large concentrations of workers, and prompting the military and bourgeoisie to return to the democratic scene. This return involves the union bureaucracy sharing power with the Peronist government: firstly with the Campora government, then with Peron himself, and then with his wife "Isabelita". The bureaucracy become totally immersed in signing and implementing ‘social pacts’. Nevertheless, during a period of heightened class struggles, the workers and the intermediate union leaderships go over their heads, ignoring them. The most important moments are the general strikes of June 1974 and July 1975. Those involved in the coup of 24 March 1976 are decided in crushing all those looking toward a new way forward in the class struggle.

5. Trade-unionism during the latest dictatorship has for the most part collaborated and it is only when the bourgeoisie starts to go against its interests, with the so-called "multiparticita" that it starts to organise an apposition trade-unionism; a trend which is accelerated by the defeat in the Falklands/Malvinas War.

     Trade-unionism is reduced to being a bourgeois snake in the bosom of the working class betraying both the immediate and historical interests of the class; this it has clearly demonstrated during both the last dictatorship and during the democracy which followed. There is a clear necessity for a new trade-union organisation which doesn’t genuflect before the flag. A red, class trade-unionism is needed, as the latest struggles show.

      For this to happen, communist revolutionaries must form groups in the workplace in order to speed up the work of clarification and organisation.

 

 

 



The italian Left and the International - 1919-26

 

Part 2 - introduction

     We saw in the last issue that there was no representative from any current of the Italian Socialist Party at the founding congress of the IIIrd International in Moscow in March 1919. As regards the Left of the party, this was certainly because of material obstacles, and not because it disagreed about the necessity of organising the organ of proletarian emancipation on an international scale.

     In May 1918, that is a year before the Moscow conference, the Italian Left had already posed the problem very clearly in an article entitled:  ”Le direttive Marxiste della Nuova Internazionale”. This article, though heavily distorted by the censor, asserted that it was necessary to reconstitute the proletarian international, excluding the moldering parties of the IInd International, and found the new International on the theoretical and programmatic basis of revolutionary Marxism and the Communist Manifesto. " We are and we remain marxists in the highest and most all-encompassing sense of the word, holding the modern socialist proletariat to be the continuer of the critical work started by the first communists founded on the 1847 manifesto".

     The revisionist distinction between the "maximum" and “minimum" programme is abolished; repeatedly we find the principle of the violent conquest of power reasserted and the anarchist objection against dictatorship of the communist state refuted; there is the demand for a strongly centralised and disciplined party: “The new international will be a great collective force, perfectly placed within the social field and the historical epoch through which we are passing, the sole purpose being to replace capitalist society with communist society, by means of proletarian class action (…). The international will dedicate itself to organising the forces specifically capable of bringing about the great ’step’ that humanity will have to take (…) The new international will therefore be the world socialist political party, the collective organisation of the labouring class for conquering and exercising power, in order to transform the capitalist economy into a collective one. Such a party aspires to a collective and conscious ’discipline’, and it will be the proper sphere for the future universal proletarian administration“. -

     The article concludes as follows: "A corollary of the principle of class struggle is absolute tactical intransigence and the exclusion of any pact, even temporary, with the bourgeois classes and parties, no matter what the objective may be. In other words we condemn coalitionism. Another corollary is the absolute rejection of every war [text censored here]. In other words, the condemnation of power is not to be confused with over estimation of parliamentary action (…). The positive foundations on which we must base the New International, we can sum up in a final synthesis as follows: doctrine; marxist interpretation of history and society; programme; violent conquest and exercise of power in order to actuate the socialisation of the means of production; method; intransigent political class action under a collective discipline" (L’Avanguardia, 26/5/1918).

     If the Italian Left had taken part in the Moscow conference, there is no doubt that it would have made itself heard on the necessity, first of all, of defining very clearly who was and who wasn’t in the revolutionary camp. This in its turn would have curbed the enthusiasm (based on the Russian revolutionary wave and the all too vague information filtering through from the West) which would lead to the formal constitution of the IIIrd International at a time before real communist parties existed.

     As a matter of fact, in the article we have already quoted it was stated that the International shouldn’t “be a shapeless jumble of groups and conflicting methods out a homogeneous union of forces directed towards the one main goal, using precisely established and circumscribed methods (…) We can show by various examples, with episodes drawn from the Russian Revolution, and from the life of our own party in Italy, how every deliberation that has led to a ’restriction’ of the field of socialist tactics has given rise to a considerable reblossoming of the movement”.

    Our current decided to opt, then as now, for greater strictures on the criteria of admission to the International and was also of the opinion that only those parties holding to unequivocal communist positions should be admitted to the New International. It therefore found itself expressing reservations about the Bolsheviks ‘own formula of the “coalition with the elements of the revolutionary workers’ movement and those who, though not past members of the socialist parties, are now placed completely on the terrain of the proletarian dictatorship in its soviet form, that is with the elements corresponding to syndicalism".

     Even if the Ialian Left did not entirely agree, the Bolsheviks’ hopes were certainly not lacking in a firm logical basis: their hope ms that in the wake of the victorious revolution, elements which weren’t completely Marxist could be integrated in the melting-pot of a new October, and that their influence could be the determining factor against the inauspicious influence of all the Johnny-come-lately communists who had suddenly converted to communism after long careers dedicated to reforms and compromises.

     Having said that, by far the most important thing is that the Italian Left had recognised, in all the documents, theses, platforms and resolutions emerging from the Ist Congress of the new born International, the entire heritage of programmatic and tactical positions of revolutionary Marxism common to both the Bolsheviks and the Italian fraction of the extreme left.

We take up now from where we left off in the last issue.

 

The founding congress (cont’d)

b) The Daily Sessions

     The 2nd March I9I9 (day 1) commenced with Lenin’s opening speech, in which he declared that “Our meeting has great, world-historical significance (...) the international world revolution is beginning and gaining strength in all countries (...) The proletariat is now in a position to make practical use of its dominion".

     A congressional bureau was elected, including Lenin, Eberlein and Platten, with Klinger as its permanent secretary (German leader of the Russian party). The assembly decided to support the proposal of the German communists, that it commence sitting as the "International Communist Conference” and so not to formally establish the III International, as the Central Committee of the Russian party and the Finnish delegates had hoped, Lenin proposed the following agenda: I) Constitution; II) Reading of reports; III) Platform of the International Communist Conference (speakers: Albert or Eberlein, Bukharin); IV) Bourgeois democracy and proletarian dictatorship (Lenin’s theses); V) The Berne Conference and the stance towards the socialist currents (Platten and Zinoviev); VI) The international situation and the policy of the Entente; VII) Trotsky’s Communist International Manifesto; VIII) The White terror; IX) Election of the bureau.

     The delegates’ reports were then given: that of Albert (Eberlein) for Germany, Platten for Switzerland, Zinoviev for Russia, Sirola for Finland, Stange for Norway, Reinstein for the USA, Rudnyansky for Hungary, Katscher for Switzerland, Trotsky for Russia, Rutgers for Holland.

     On the 3rd March 1919 (day 2) the session began with the report by the Ukrainian comrade Rakovsky (Balkan Revolutionary Federation), followed by a report by Shrypnik (representing the Ukrainian CP), who described the revolutionary situation of the Ukrainian masses, Sadoul, a member of the French communist group in Russia, commented on the situation in France, Feinberg, in Russia since June 1918, spoke of the situation in England.

     Afterwards, the debates began on the "Platform of the International Communist Conference" with Albert and Bukharin as its presenters. This platform aimed to clearly and distinctly express the tasks, goals and methods of the proletariat. It consisted firstly of a preface which characterised the bourgeoisie, capitalism and its antagonisms. Then it divided into four parts: 1, The conquest of political power by the proletariat, through the destruction of the bourgeois state apparatus and the creation of the proletarian state apparatus. 2, Democracy and dictatorship: the dictatorship of the proletariat will be a transitory situation preceding the disappearance of classes, bourgeois democracy being no more than disguised dictatorship; by contrast, the soviet system links the masses to the organs of administration. 3, The expropriation of the bourgeoisie and the socialisation of the means of production. 4, The path to victory; all means, such as the revolutionary use of bourgeois parliamentarism must be subordinated to the war declared on the bourgeois governmental machine. The preliminary conditions for the victorious struggle of the proletariat are the break with the social democrats, of both right and centre. The day ended with the report by the Austrian CP’s representative, Gruber, who gave an enthusiastic description of the revolution in central Europe.

     The 4th March 1919 (day 3) saw the continuation of the debate on the platform, which was adopted near-unanimously, with one abstention (that of the Norwegian CP). Lenin then read his 22 Theses on Bourgeois Democracy and the Dictatorship of the Proletariat. This was a denunciation of the hypocrisy of bourgeois democracy. Thus thesis 9 declared: "The history of the 19th and 20th centuries has shown us since before the war what the famous ’pure democracy’ is under capitalism. Marxists have always said that the more evolved ‘pure’ democracy is, and the more tormented, fierce and openly-declared the class struggle becomes, the more the yoke of capital and the dictatorship of the bourgeoisie are revealed in all their ‘purity’ (…) even in the most democratic republics, in reality we see the rule of terror and dictatorship of the bourgeoisie, which shows itself overtly every time that it seems to the exploiters that capital’s power is spent. "

     Hence these theses emphasize that the dictatorship of the proletariat is the only defence against the dictatorship of the bourgeoisie, and that there can be no half-measures. But they also snow that these dictatorships are fundamentally distinguished by the fact that the dictatorship of the bourgeoisie is the repression of the immense majority of the population, that is the workers, while the dictatorship of the proletariat is the suppression of a tiny majority of the population, that is, the exploiters. The form of the dictatorship is that of the power of the soviets in which the power of the whole state, the whole state apparatus, has for its permanent and only foundation the organisation of classes who were oppressed by capitalism, that is the workers and semi-proletarians (peasants who don’t exploit the labour of others).

     The resolution concerning these theses affirms that the principal tasks of the communist parties, in all countries where soviet power doesn’t exist, consists in:
 1. Explaining to the broad masses of the working class the considerable importance of the political and historical need for the new democracy, of proletarian democracy, which must be substituted for bourgeois democracy parliamentarism.
 2. Spreading and organising the soviets among the workers in all branches of industry, among the soldiers and sailors, and among labourers and poor peasants.
 3. Creating a solid communist majority in the soviets.

     Next, the proposal for proceeding to the foundation of the III International was discussed. Since the previous evening, and after Gruber’s description of the revolution in central Europe, the supporters of the immediate proclamation of the IIIrd International had counter-attacked. The decision to consider itself as a simple preparatory conference had been taken on the first day, in the absence of many delegates, notably Rakovsky. The latter had insisted the evening before that the vote be taken again. The proposal was put forward by the representatives of the CP of Austria (Gruber), of the Swedish Left Social Democratic Party (Grimlund), of the Revolutionary Social Democratic Workers’ Federation of the Balkans (Rakovsky) and the Hungarian CP (Rudnyansky). Albert intervened to oppose the proposal, by arguing on the basis that true CPs only existed in a few countries, and that one couldn’t know who would associate themselves with the new international since the parties of the major western countries weren’t represented at the conference. Zinoviev responded by repeating that from the start of the meeting the Russian CP was for the immediate foundation of the IIIrd international, but that the German comrades had insisted on putting off this foundation.

For him, the victorious advance of revolution was worth such more than the formal creation of CPs that the Germans required for the foundation of the IIIrd international. The proposal was adopted unanimously, except for 5 abstentions including that of the German CP.

     The work and discussions were thus conducted by the assembly as a congress of the Communist International. Eberlein declared that after his return to Germany he would strive to convince his comrades, in fact, he would not meet any opposition to the decision taken in Moscow (which ran counter to the mandate he’d received from the Centre) because the revolutionary upsurge had already changed people’s minds in Germany.

     The day ended with the declaration of those who had attended the Zimmerwald conference that, following the dissolution of the Zimmerwald organisation, the bureau of the Zimmerwald conference would be asked to send all its documents to the Executive Committee of the IIIrd International (signed by Zinoviev, Rakovsky, Trotsky, Lenin, Platten). The resolution on dissolving the Zimmerwald grouping was adopted unanimously.

     On the 5th March 1919 (day 4), the question dealt with was to do with “the Berne Conference and the position to be taken towards the socialist currents”, whose presenters were Platten and Zinoviev. The resolution passed affirmed that the Berne conference in February 1919 was an attempt to re-animate the corpse of the IIInd International. The servile attitude of the conference showed that the social patriots had consciously declared themselves in favour of the maintenance of capitalist wage-slavery, and were ready to fool the working class by means of hollow reforms. The C.I. Congress saw that the International which the Berne conference was trying to reconstruct was a yellow, strikebreakers’ international which was, and could only continue to be, an instrument of the bourgeoisie.

     Lao Chi-Tao, president of the Central Committee of the Union of Chinese Workers in Russia, then reported on the situation in China. And the day finished on point 7 of the agenda: "The international situation and the Entente’s policy”.

     On the 6th March 1919 (day 5), Trotsky read his ’’Manifesto of the C. I. to the proletarians of the World”. This was a magnificent analysis of the class struggle and bourgeois society from the time of the first manifesto. The following is an extract:

     «Conscious of the world-historic character of their tasks, advanced workers have striven for an international association since their first steps t-o organise the socialist movement. The cornerstone was laid in 1864 in London with the founding of the First International. The Franco-Prussian War, out of which Hohenzollern Germany emerged, cut the ground from under the First International while at the same time giving impetus to the development of national workers’ parties. Already in 1889, these parties came together at the Paris congress and created the organisation of the Second International. But in that period, the center of gravity of the workers’ movement remained entirely on national soil, within the framework of the national state, based on national industry, and working within national parliamentarism. Decades of organisational and reform work created a generation of leaders who in their majority verbally acknowledged the programme of social revolution, but renounced it in reality and became mired in reformism and in adaptation to the bourgeois state. The opportunist character of the Second International’s leading parties was completely exposed and caused the greatest debacle in world history at the moment when the course of events alled for revolutionary methods of struggle by the workers’ parties. If the war of 1870 dealt a blow to the First International by revealing that the power of the united masses did not yet stand behind its revolutionary socialist programs, so too the war of 1914 killed the Second International by revealing that above the solidly welded masses stood parties that had become servile organs of the bourgeois state.

     «This does not apply only to the socialpatriots, who today have openly gone over to the camp of the bourgeoisie and who have become its trusted and preferred agents and the reliable executioners of the working class. It also applies to the amorphous, unstable Socialist center, which is now busy trying to revive the Second International, that is, to revive the narrow-mindedness, opportunism, and revolutionary helplessness of its leading elite. Groups such as the Independent Social Democratic of Germany, the current Socialist Party majority in France, the Menshevik group in Russia, the Independent Labour Party in Britain, and others are actually trying to take the place occupied before the war by the old official parties of the Second International, as before, they are coming forward with ideas of compromise and unity and thus are doing everything possible to paralyse the proletariat’s energy, prolong the crisis, and thereby intensify Europe’s suffering. The struggle against the Socialist centre is a necessary precondition for a successful struggle against imperialism.

     «Rejecting the vacillation, lies, and rottenness of the outlived official socialist parties, we communists, united in the Third International, consider ourselves the direct continuators of the heroic endeavours and martyrdom of a long succession of revolutionary generations, from Babeuf to Karl Liebknecht and Rosa Luxemburg.

     «If the First International foresaw the road that lay ahead and indicated its direction; if the Second International assembled and organised millions of proletarians; then the third international is the international of open mass action, the international of revolutionary realization, the International of the deed.

     «Socialist criticism has sufficiently denounced the bourgeois world order. The task of the international Communist Party is to overthrow this system and construct in its place the socialist order.

     «We call upon working men and women of all countries to unite behind the communist banner, under which the first great victories have already been won.

     «Workers of the world: in struggle against imperialist barbarism, against monarchy, against the privileged classes, against the bourgeois state and bourgeois property, and against all forms and kinds of social and national oppression - unite!»

     Next came the question of the C.I.’s organization. In order to get under way without slowing down its activity, the Congress immediately elected the necessary bodies, the idea being that the statutory constitution of the C.I. be deferred to the next Congress on the bureau’s proposal. The leadership of the C.I. was vested in an executive committee composed of a representative of each CP of the most important countries. Until the arrival of foreign representatives, the comrades of the country where the E.C. had its base, were entrusted with organising the work. The E.C. elected a bureau of 5 people: Lenin, Trotsky, Zinoviev, Rakovsky, Platten.

     Finally, Lenin brought the Congress to a close with a speech which affirmed that the congress delegates had only “had to register what the masses have already won in their revolutionary struggle”. The little conference of March 1919 had the formidable historical task of raising the standard behind which the working class of the entire world must rally: not, as in Paris in 1871, in order to storm heaven, but to storm bourgeois society as a whole!

(To be continued)

 

 

 




Three texsts of the Italian Left on anarchism

                          - Socialism and anarchy, Il Soviet, no. 13, 16-3-1919.
                          - Socialists and anarchists, Il Soviet, no. 2, 11-1-1920.
                          - Bolshevism defamed by the anarchists, Il Soviet, no. 15, 23-5-1920.
 
 


Socialism and anarchy

 The following article from March 1919 was written to clarify the position of the abstentionist Communists in the PSI (Italian Socialist Party), a tendency variously is represented by reformists inside the Party and anarchists outside it, as inclined towards anarchism. Elections were called by the Italian bourgeoisie at a time when violent working-class struggles were beginning to break out, in the aftermath of the First World War. Abstentionism was a tactic employed by the Communist Left of the Party from December l9l8 to avoid the dissipation of revolutionary energies that electioneering implied. The advocacy of this tactic had nothing to do with the abstentionism on principle of the anarchists, or of the later left-communists of the K.A.P.D. (Communist Workers’ Party of Germany).

The text contains, in a nutshell, the broad programmatic conceptions of revolutionary marxism in opposition to the ideas cf anarchism. The targets for this reiteration of fundamentals were not just a few right-wing reformists in the Party, but a great number of those who would have defined themselves as maximalists. It’s worth pointing out that the term "maximalist", while denoting those who demanded the implementation of the maximum programme, in fact covered a wide range of viewpoints in the Party: from the intransigent revolutionaries like Boero who wanted to expel the reformists from the PSI, to people like Serrati whose radicalism was largely verbal, and who wanted unity at any price.
 
 
 

Il Soviet, no. 13, 16-3-1919

In initiating our campaign against participation in the elections, we were expecting an objection which has no other function than to be obvious and give cause far some useful explanations: you are anarchists!

It has in fact come from various quarters: and even "Avanti" responding to an opportune work of comrade Boero who certainly reflects the opinion of the maximalist comrades of Turin - speaks of anarchist abstentionism.

For its part "Libertario", while it opportunely confirms the difference between its anarchist and our socialist thought, affects to depict us as people on the path of repentance, and imagines that we re for "conceding points" to the anarchists, and that by completing other steps, we’ll end up recognising that... Marx has been vanquished by Bakunin.

Now it will be good to establish in front of everybody that we are and will remain socialists and marxists.

On the relationship between socialism and anarchy much is very often misunderstood. One frequently hears it repeated that the sole difference between the two schools is in the electionist and parliamentary tactic. It’s said by many, even socialists, that in them the final goal, the vision of the future society, and also the vision of the revolutionary historical process are identical.

Finally not a few socialists thoughtlessly admit that in anarchism there is a method, a conception, more perfect, more pure, higher, on which it’s logical to reflect every so often in order to see – if only through the judgements expressed by the followers of anarchy – whether we socialists are less than good and true revolutionaries.

For us, whatever is said of our aversion for elections, socialism and anarchism are different methods, and this second method is in itself erroneous, is based on an incorrect interpretation of society and history, does not identify itself with the real development of the revolution; and for this very reason is not the true revolutionary method, and the less can it be called "more revolutionary" than the socialist method, as many ingenuously believe.

The conception and tactics that alone correspond to the process of the class struggle and triumph of the proletariat over the bourgeoisie, are contained in marxism, and contemporary events are confirming this against all the forecasts, against Bakunin, Kropotkin, Sorel, as against Bernstein and the reformists from all sides.

The constitution of the proletariat into a class party, the conquest of political power, the dictatorship of the proletariat, that is the formation of a government, and the expropriation of capital completed systematically by this central power, representing the necessary process of revolution.

The order of the new communist society, reached in a far from brief period, will be characterised by the disappearance of class differences, and thus by the exercise of an out and out political power, with a system of production founded on the co-ordination and the disciplining of the activity of the producers and the distribution of the products by central organisms representing the collectivity.

All of these postulates, one by one, are rejected and criticised by anarchism.

This sees in the revolution not only the demolition of the bourgeois state, but of every political power; in the transformation of the economy, a spontaneous phenomenon subsequent to the suppression of the state, which will determine almost automatically the expropriation of the capitalists; in the order of the new society the autonomous movement of free groups of producers, from which would emerge a better distribution of products.

It would be interesting to discuss these substantial differences, to show, according to our point of view, the inferiority of the anarchist system compared to the socialist one.

However from now on it remains clear that the discussion which we engage in is a discussion by socialists and between socialists. The party must therefore establish whether the proletariat has to arrive at the political conquest of power by revolutionary or legalistic means; and whether intervention in the elections, even with many reservations and only with the intention of making maximalist propaganda, is not a condition for the failure of revolutionary action, an innocuous outlet of proletarian energies that the bourgeoisie wants to provoke in order to save its institutions from definitive collapse.
 
 
 
 
 
 


Socialists and anarchists

The period following March 1919, which saw the founding of the new Communist International and a rising revolutionary movement in many lands, were real "days of hope" for the communist left. Increasing costs of living were met by the Italian working class with massive struggles, which took the form of strike waves and real street battles. This was the period when the revolutionary initiative should have been taken; however, the communist left was too small to accomplish the task by itself, and the bulk of the PSI wasn’t up to the job. The History of the Communist Left expresses the situation clearly: «The will cannot make revolutions nor can the party create then, it can and must favour them with its conscious action by barring in time the false directions in which opportunism draws the generous multitude, and force, of proletarians. The resource that history offered then and which the party let slip from its grasp, was to block the way to the manoeuvre of the enemy, which knew that by opening the flow of the urns it could avert the impact cf the revolutionary flood. If the proletariat, freeing itself from the democratic illusions, had left the parliamentary vessel burning behind it, the struggle would have finished quite differently. The revolutionary party had the duty of trying for this great outcome, by throwing itself athwart the other. But revolutionary, the party was not» (Vol. I, p.175).

At the time the following text was written, the PSI was under increasing stress: the events of the previous year had made it obvious that a split was only a matter of time, Communist groups including the abstentionist fraction were still hammering out their differences. Among these was the "Ordine Nuovo" group of Turin, led by Antonio Gramsci. This tendency, which was later hammered into shape sufficiently to contribute to the formation of the Communist Party of Italy, actually shared many of the confusions of the anarchists on the question of the state and the conception of the economic transition to socialism. The ordinovists thought of the soviets as organs of economic management based upon the factory. In other words, they saw factory councils as the basis of the communist state, This conception confused economic and political organisation of the proletariat, in a manner reminiscent of Proudhon. Modern leftists naturally regard Gramsci as the paragon of marxism (conceived of as a "flexible doctrine"), imagining that workers’ management of production through factory councils is a very progressive step. In reality, as the article below points out, the communist programme aims at a far more radical goal: suppression of the "freedom of production".
 
 
  Il Soviet, no. 13, 16-3-1919

We’re resuming an – unhurried! – polemic with "Volontà" of Ancona, which from the 1st November has devoted a sesquipedal article to polemicising with us.

The anarchist columnist digresses first, then excuses himself in order to revolve a bit around his phobia for the state; and finally comes to the point that we have defined as essential.

The anarchists – we said – think that the economic expropriation of the bourgeoisie will be instantaneous, and simultaneous with the proletarian insurrection which will knock dawn the bourgeois power.

On this premise – which is simply fictitious – they construct their other illusion en the uselessness of every form of power, of state, of proletarian government.

This goes at the same time with the fallacy of the anarchist economic conception, based on the liberty of producers’ and consumers’ groups in the field of the production and distribution of goods – a conception that while superseding the bourgeois system of private enterprise, or that of Mazzinian associations a, remains well below the formidable original content of the communist economic concept: suppression of the "freedom of production".

Not understanding this gigantic task of the communist revolution, all convinced that it will suffice to kill off this cursed State (metaphysically thought of as immanent, independent of capitalism, the same whatever class possesses it!) because everything goes into place by itself – the anarchists imagine possible the instantaneous substitution of the socialist economy for the bourgeois one.

That we’ve hit the right key, is demonstrated by the polemical enormities which ’’Volontà" resorts to in the face of our approach to the question.

To hold that after the political revolution there will continue to be bourgeois who aren’t yet expropriated is, according to our anarchist friends, utopian socialism!

Engels, if he were to live again, would chase us back into the prehistory of socialism! Poor us... and poor Engels!

What if precisely utopianism used to dream of the new society without being conscious of the historical process which leads to it! What if precisely Marx and Engels indicated the necessary means of this process, fixing the exact criteria of which we are modest but dogged supporters! But let the columnist of "Volontà" reread; not only the constitution of the Russian Republic and the other documents of the Third International which we’ve recorded at another time, but precisely the last two pages the chapter "proletarians and Communists" of the Communist Manifesto. There he will see discussed the gradual process of expropriation after the conquest of power.

The whole problem of Dictatorship, which the anarchist journal has discussed chaotically, is right here. It’s in the existence or not of the period;and some socialists die if they don’t immediately add transitory) or gradual expropriation of the bourgeois by the proletariat organised as dominant class.

We’ve written before in polemic with the anarchists that this period (of transition, its true, since there can’t be a period that isn’t transitional, if it has a beginning and an end) would last at least a generation.

Well then, in the work of comrade Radek published in "Comunismo" on the "Evolution of Socialism from science to action" and inspired directly by the doctrines of classical marxism, are these very clear propositions:
    «Dictatorship is the form of rule, in which one class dictates its will bluntly to the other classes».
    «The socialist revolution is a long process, which commences with the dethroning of the capitalist class but it ends only with the transformation of the capitalist economy into the socialist economy, in the workers’ "cooperative" republic. This process will require at East a generation in every country, and this period of time Is exactly the period of the proletarian dictatorship, the period in which the proletariat with one hand must incessantly repress the capitalist class, while on the other which remains free, it can work for socialist reconstruction».

"Volontà" puts on our conscience an "opposition to the expropriating function of the revolution"!!

As if it was due to our caprice that the revolutionary process will be so complex, as Marx saw it and the above words of the... counter-revolutionary Radek described it.

The reasoning of "Volontà" is specious. Instead of dealing with the historical; social and technical possibility of its expropiation-insurrection, it devotes itself to showing that, if the management of socialisation is entrusted to a State the revolution will fail; even more if economic privilege is allowed to exist for a bit.

In possession of this magnificent sophism, our contradictor can become a good bourgeois again, presenting it to the capitalist world as a life insurance policy!

"Volontà" calls conservation of economic privilege the performance of that programme which according to us is the most rapid process of eradication of economic privilege.

We would wish – certainly – a more rapid one, as long as it could be developed on the surface of the planet that we inhabit, rather than among the wild fancies of anarchism.

But, to support the absurd concept of instantaneous socialisation, a marxism played by ear is invoked, and it’s objected: there’s economic privilege? It will determine political privilege. The state which you want to conserve, between the two classes of which you, socialists, want to conserve the privileged one, will choose to support the bosses’ class.

But this is marxism fossilized into metaphysics! In the concept af the marxist dialectic the state doesn’t have permanent characteristics and functions in history: every class state follows the evolution of that class: it’s first a revolutionary motor, then an instrument of conservation. Thus the bourgeois state smashes feudal privileges in a colossal struggle, and afterwards struggles for the defence of those of the bourgeoisie against the proletariat.

But the coming to power of the proletariat (we paraphrase with our poor words the immortal thought of the Master) transcends the meaning of the accession of a new dominant class. The proletariat has – first in the lifetime of humanity – the consciousness of the laws of the economy; and of history, "in the triumph of its revolution human prehistory comes to a close".

The proletarian state breaks the bonds of the capitalist system to substitute it with a rational system of exercise of men’s activity in the universal interests of humanity. The proletarian state remains standing during the period of elimination of the capitalist class, but doesn’t create any other dominated class. Its historical task is the elimination of classes, with which will be eliminated the very necessity of the political power of the state.

This does not mean to say that future society will not have "representatives" and will not have central administration.

It only means that this will not have a political! function, because it will not have to act any more for one class of men against another class – it will only have economic and technical functions because it will usefully and rationally harmonise the action of all men against hostile nature.
 
 
 
  


Bolshevism defamed by the anarchists

The last text presented here defends the Bolsheviks’ policies against their contemporary anarchist critics. It’s clear from the summaries of anarchist arguments in the article just how little the types of accusations hurled against the party of Lenin and Trotsky have changed in the last seventy years: the idea that the Bolsheviks were duplicitous in their statements about the soviets seems an "invariant" characteristic of anarchism. The article shows why there is no contradiction in marxist theory between the affirmations "all power to the soviets and " rule by the communist party". Anarchists consistently fail to comprehend that, had the Russian communists leading the proletariat not seized power. and resolved to hold on to it until assistance came from new revolutionary communist states in the industrialized lands, there could only have been one result: an ignominious death for the soviets. Those who admire the programme of the Kronstadt rebels or the Makhnovists so much should realise that "free Soviets’’, that is, a working class and peasantry not led by the communist party; would have inevitably made the soviets into a playground for various bourgeois tendencies which had not the slightest interest in world revolution and the latter was the only possible opening to the development of a genuinely communist society and economy in Russia (and everywhere else: for that matter).

«For as, October was socialist. But in the absence of a military victory of the counter-revolution, two possibilities, not one, remained open: either the apparatus of power (the state and the party) would degenerate from within and adapt itself to the administration of capitalist forms who openly renouncing its wait for the world revolution (this is what actually happened); or the marxist party would maintain itself in power for a long period; devoting itself expressly to supporting the revolutionary proletarian struggle in aIl foreign countries and declaring with the same courage as Lenin that the social forms remained largely capitalist (and even pre­capitalist in Russia» ("Forty years of organic evaluation of the Russian events in the dramatic international, historical and social development", "Il Programma Comunista", n. 21/1957).

It was the second possibility that the communist left of Italy struggled to realise from within the International until 1926.

Finally, it should be pointed out that the "undersigned" mentioned at the end of this text was Amadeo Bordiga. This is only by way of explanation. not because its necessary to establish the proprietary rights of authors to their texts. The writings of the communist left are distinguished by the continuity in the arguments they employ, not by the mark of this or that specific author.
 
 
 

Il Soviet, no. 15, 23-5-1920
 

The readers will recall how a sharp polemic has begun between us and the "’Avvenire Anarchico" of Pisa, a journal which seems totally dedicated to the denigration of communism and of the Russian communist comrades.

The assertions of the little paper in question – as far as one can be reconstructed from its epileptic prose, crammed with a simulacrum of documentation – consist in the stupid insinuation that the Russian Bolsheviks were, up to the revolution of October 1917 and even afterwards, stubborn social-democrats and that only the force of events and revolutionary pressure of the masses has induced them to transform themselves into upholders of soviet power, channelling into an authoritarian path for their own purposes the spontaneous formation of the Soviets, libertarian organs of the masses.

The absurdity of such a thesis is so obvious that it isn’t even necessary to hesitate to refute it.

The masses were supposed to have drawn the Bolsheviks from the terrain of social-democracy to that of soviet power – «while the Bolsheviks were still for the Constituent Assembly, the workers demonstrated united by the cry: power to the Soviets!» – and thus the Bolsheviks were supposed to be transformed dextrously into communists; but then the same masses: anarchist by definition, weren’t able to prevent the Bolsheviks from imposing their devilishly "statist" programme on them.

But leaving aside the very obvious contradiction existing in the plot of this novelette, we claim for the Russian communist party the entire merit of having responded marvellously to its task of vanguard of the revolutionary proletariat, foreseeing and tracing the paths af the revolution, and bringing the propaganda of the postulates that this had to realise among the masses which weren’t yet aware af them.

It’s asserted that the Bolsheviks, that same Lenin, in their programme of 1905 and 1915 were for the democratic constituent assembly, this is in part true. But while waiting to be able to devote greater study, and above aIl greater space, to the argument, there is a position to make clear in a general way.

The Russian Bolsheviks, in the front line among the marxist and radical left of the international socialist movement before the war, have always thought and argued that the revolution of the proletariat against capitalism could have no other aspect than that of the armed struggle for the conquest of power, by denying that parliamentarism could serve as a road to proletarian power and by supporting Marx’s statement that in the period of passage from capitalism to communism political power could have no other form than that of the dictatorship of the proletariat.

This thesis being quite clear, another and quite different question was presented to the Russian comrades.

How could the passage from the feudal regime, still in force in Russia: to communism appear? Would a period of capitalist democracy have to come between the fall of Czarism and the victory of the proletariat?

Without going into details, until the European war the Bolsheviks held such a period to be inevitable, while arguing that during it their movement would’ve continued an intransigent work of propaganda for the conquest of power by the proletariat, for the second revolution.

But already during the first years of the war the conviction grew in the Bolsheviks that the Russian revolutionary process could speed up, if the armies of the Czar were defeated, and they maintained it was necessary to provoke such a denouement, thus putting themselves in disagreement with the majority at Kienthal.

As soon as the first revolution broke out in February 1917 the Bolshevik leaders returned to Russia, the forces of their party increased, and the struggle began. We’ll show that right from the first moment the programme of this struggle – omitted any distinction between maximum and minimum programme – was the dictatorship of the proletariat.

The different phases of the struggle and the different situations which presented themselves required different tactical measures, and its known that we in a certain sense disagree with certain tactical solutions, like that of participation in the elections for the Constituent Assembly.

We don’t hope that the anarchists can understand the relationship between programme and tactics. The programme represents the objective to realise, the opposing position to assail - tactics deduces, in a certain moment, from the proportion of one’s own forces to those of the adversary, the possibility of launching the attack, of waiting, or of making simple shows of force. If tactical considerations should lead to changing the final objective, to amending the programme, then certainly it would fall into error, and into reformist betrayal.

But if it affirms at every moment that this is without doubt the moment of onslaught it’s mistaken and betrays even the identical result; of leaving to the adversary the position that it holds.

What Lenin’s programme was from his arrival in Russia we documented precisely with the publication in no, 6 of "I1 Soviet", of the Theses presented by him at the conclusion of a speech given by him at on the 16th April 1917 in Petrograd. The 5th thesis is explicit:
     «Not a parliamentary republic – a return to this from the Workers’ would be a step backwards – but a republic of workers’ and peasants’ councils in the whole country and from top to bottom».

On the 23-4-1917 Lenin repeats his exposition to the Bolshevik Congress. In point 11 of his programmatic discourse he affirms that the Soviets of Workers, Peasants and Soldiers are the new type of State, but that they don’t yet have the consciousness of it.

The conclusions of Lenin – says a note to the Russian edition of the speech, which could have been printed only weeks afterward - were approved by the majority of the congress, with the exception of the one point relating to the separation from Zimmerwald (see the 10th of the aforesaid theses).

A speech given by Zinoviev after the attempt on Lenin’s life, and published in instalments by "La Vie Ouvriere" affirms that from the first moment of the revolution Lenin had the unshakeable persuasion that its outlet would be the coming to power of the Russian proletariat. He immediately saw in the Soviets the organs of the new power, on condition that the communists would succeed in conquering the majority of them. But when in a certain epoch it seemed that even in the Soviets social-democratic opportunism had taken a definitive position, Lenin didn’t hesitate to give the watchword: to power even without the Soviets. Anything but libertarian legends.

In July 1917 the onrush of the masses led Lenin and the Bolshevik Central Committee to anticipate the eventuality of unleashing the final attack.

But the conditions were not yet mature, and it was decided to wait.

All of the later tactical and polemical play against the policy of Kerensky’s government and in regard to the convocation of the Constituent Assembly didn’t impair the guiding programmatic line tending towards the final struggle for the proletarian dictatorship.

In an article by Lenin of September 1917, dedicated to supporting the thesis "all power to the Soviets" he wrote: «Two paths can be foreseen for the Soviets – either let them die by ignominious death, or give all power to the Soviets – this I proclaimed before the Pan-Russian Congress of Soviets in June 1917».

Further on Lenin makes it clear that the formula: power to the Soviets, doesn’t mean the formation of a Ministry among the parties of the majority of the Soviets, rather it implies the destruction of the old bureaucratic, military and parliamentary apparatus of the State, the carrying out of the communists’ political programme.

The stupid thesis of "Avvenire Anarchico" rests – very weakly – only on the text of a Bolshevik programme whose source is Guilbeaux’s review "Demain". We’ll speak of the authenticity of this text another time.

No more acceptable is the speculation of some letters written by Sadoul in the moments of the November struggle, whose very manner shows how the author hadn’t then digested the Bolshevik programme or understood the situation. He declares that he’d only made the acquaintance of Lenin and Trotsky to whom he attributes obviously fantastic opinions and declarations, speaking of the formation of a Ministry in eventual collaboration with the Mensheviks! While precisely the 26th October - 7th November the Council of Commissars of the People was nominated by the Soviet Congress. Trotsky in his noted pamphlet (no. 2 of the documents of "Avanti!", p. 56) says: «The C.C. of our party made the attempt to come to an agreement with the Left Social-Revolutionaries.., while the Mensheviks and Right S.R.s had broken any connection with the Congress of Soviets, because they thought a coalition of anti-soviet parties was necessary».

The lies of A.A. therefore don’t ring any truer even with the aid of... the clangers of Sadoul.

In any case from the elements expounded, and from many others previously devoted to the question, it becomes clear what is the significance of the historical development of the Russian revolution and of the task, in it, of the Bolsheviks, who were precisely the opposite of what the anarchists say, and even of what is said by some others, who believe more in the revolutionary efficiency of the soviet form than in that of the work of propaganda and struggle carried out by the communist party.

To put matters in a prosaic form, it’s certain that the Bolsheviks wanted all power to go to the Soviets, when the Soviets themselves, being in the majority Menshevik and counter-revolutionary, wanted nothing to do with taking it.

Not even the tall story of the local and libertarian action of the Soviets against the central state power can hold water. The Soviets, in the first period, made an article of faith of the democratic regime and of the parliamentary state, exactly because they were dominated by the Mensheviks and S.R.s.

The work of the anarchists can be seen even more in certain forms of local expropriation brought about in revolutionary moments, and which, as we’ve said many times, not only don’t open the true process of realisation of communism, but were a source of initial obstacles to it.

In an article in "Comunismo" the statistics of the increase of Bolshevik mandates in the Soviet central organs have appeared. These statistics are the true diagram of the revolution, as the communist political party is the true historical precursor of the revolution.

It doesn’t have the anarchists on the extreme left, as "Avvenire" yells. It only, sometimes, finds them under its feet - see, among other things, the true story of the famous Makhno, in no. 43 of "Ordine Nuovo".

What remains of all the anecdotes of the anarchist sheet? The stupid pretence of showing that authoritarian and statist communism is not in direct line of descent from classical marxism, but has been improvised by the Bolsheviks to exploit the Soviet revolution.

We libertarians - they cry - are the true communists!

Old Engels remarked justly; if you discuss with the anarchists, first agree on the meaning of words. As it’s changed several times, and as today a return is made to the words and polemical positions of the classical debate between marxists and anarchists, a passage of their own Bakunin can demonstrate it to those of A.A. (see "Cronaca Sovversiva", 20th March).
    «Here they separate principally into revolutionary socialists (sic) and authoritarian communists...»
     «...the communists imagine they’ll reach it with the development and with the organisation of the political power of the working classes, while the revolutionaries think to the contrary that such an end can only arrive at with the development not of he political but of the social, and in consequence (the consequence lies wholly in the consciousness of papa Bakunin) antipolitical power of the masses».

So isn’t it obvious that the columnist specialising in anti-Bolshevism spreads them on too thick?

And now for a personal coda. The bilious writer of A.A. boasts of having contradicted in 1915 in the Vicaria circle in Naples the undersigned who was supporting parliamentarism. Go on! The undersigned then fought the nascent anarcho-syndicaIism middle, by defending proletarian political action and explaining to the contradictors how political doesn’t only mean electoral action but signifies for marxists revolutionary conflict between the classes for the coming to power of the proletariat, driven on and led by a class party. It would be silly to close here by showing with citations that the undersigned has always negated the parliamentary conquest of power.

The marxist left has never believed in this. It has allowed for the tactical utilisation of parliamentary activity, which some of ours support even in this historical period. But the fulcrum of the marxist programme has always been the "proletarian dictatorship" – the historical key to the revolutionary problem, which burns the fingers of the semi-bourgeois followers of legalitarian reformism or of anarchist hysteria, closer in kin than they think and wish or than they – sometimes – have reason to hide.

I think that A.A. has served its purpose.


 

 



A successful general reunion of the party in Turin

 

On June 1st and 2nd, 1991, our regular general meeting took place in Turin, the first one there for many years. Our local comrades there had obviously taken great pains to ensure that the meeting place would be in congenial surroundings and that there were good seating arrangements and a generally hospitable atmosphere. Those who attended were met on arrival at the station and were put up with comrades or sympathisers.

     Attending were comrades from France, Switzerland and Britain as well as the main contingent from Italy.

     On the Saturday morning, we discussed organisational and liason problems in an initial meeting. This tends to be small {without formally excluding anybody) and includes those comrades who perform most of the long-term collective work of the party. Here ongoing tasks, and new tasks, are discussed, reaffirmed and the work divided up. We also prioritise topics that will have to be covered at the next meeting and in the party press.

     In the afternoon more of us were gathered and we heard the first of the reports. Almost the entire complement of our militants were gathered together along with certain long-term sympathisers, that is those who have shown that they are interested in the party not just out of idle curiosity or as something to gossip about.

     A subject that we are always keen to keep alive at our conventions is the "History of the Left"; this was the theme of our first report which took off from where we had left off dealing with the German question at the last reunion. This time, the years 1931-2 were examined; or more precisely, up to January 1933, when Hindenburg on the advice of the outgoing chancellor, "social" general Von Schleicher, nominated Hitler chancellor of the Reich.

     It is an indubitable fact that the Italian fraction abroad was the only political formation that understood the full import of the dramatic events taking place in Germany. It saw that the victory of the German counter-revolution would mean slavery for the national proletariat and its unconditional subjection to the rule of capital. That in itself though was only one side of the tragedy. A thousand times more serious was the fact that the fate of the international proletariat, of the revolution itself was being played out. The defeat of the German proletariat would mean the global victory of international capitalist reaction; it would enable capital to make preparations for, and launch, the next war; it would mean (and this was predicted by the Left as well) an alliance, aiming at the definitive suffocation of proletarian energies, between the two major counter-revolutionary regimes: the national socialism of Hitler and the socialist nationalism of Stalin.

     "Far from breaking off with soviet Russia, there is nothing that excludes Hitler - given the highly tentative and indecisive moves thus far - from strenghtening ties with them in order to benefit German imperialism by buttressing up its defences. And as for the policy of socialism in one country, no one can predict what that will do - though we can see where it will lead in the end" (Prometeo, No. 54 - February 1933).

     The anti-proletarian united front was most effective of all in Germany, The national bourgeoisie, seeing how urgently matters stood, and informed by the Italian experience, decided to get rid of the traditional bourgeois-democratic parties in order to concentrate their energy into another party; the one headed by the Austrian house-painter, until then spurned by virtually everybody. International capitalism, with democratic France and hyperdemocratic America at its head, would go along with the nazi solution to the German crisis. The chorus of enthusiasm from profane capital was bound to be, and indeed was, sanctified by the Vatican; in fact not only would an official nihil obstat be forthcoming, but also an outright benediction from future pope Pius XII.

     There was also the reactionary and traitorous character of the Stalinist inspired politics of the German communist party. To demonstrate how far this was so, the speaker read a number of passages from the several contemporary articles and studies on the German situation which appeared in our fraction’s press. We saw how the German party, as well as having joined forces with nazism on more than one occasion (in a common front against the social-democratic parties), ended up hoping that Hitler would triumph - as this apparently would help stir things up and give rise to... revolution.

     The so-called left opposition, thrashing about completely in the dark, was no less absurd and identified a choice between basing the proletariat’s salvation on the united front with social-democracy, or on the revolutionary potential of the stalinist party. Unable to decide, it would switch back and forth between the two.

     The proletariat, then, received no clear revolutionary class directives from any quarter in Germany, and the result would be a defeat of truly tragic proportions. Indeed the dire repercussions this defeat would have on the Russian proletariat and on the working class of the entire world had been predicted already by the comrades of the Italian exile.

     The next report was an in-depth examination of the economic crisis in Russia. It was based on the party position which sees this crisis not as a result of capitalist underdevelopment, or general social backwardness, but as a typical crisis of overproduction of commodities and capital with concomitant surplus labour. The report dealt in particular with the undeniable developments in animal husbandry which have taken place there in the post-war years. Statistical data relating to production and consumption per head showed how Russia now ranks alongside the older capitalist countries in this respect. It was brought to our attention that this has come about despite the enormous destruction of cattle, both in war and ’peace’, that occurred in Russia.

     Data was provided on the production and consumption of milk and eggs and these too were on a par with the western countries. Currently there is much ado about the Russian prices for basic foodstuffs and commodities - even in Russia - which are seen as too high. But this is due not to the system of production, but to the system of distribution with its fixed price system. For although it redistributes some surplus-value, the mode of production based on exchange-value itself is left unharmed. The shops are empty for anyone who can’t pay, the worst-paid proletarians, but not for the bourgeoisie who buy on the black market. Some kind of ’price reform’ along Polish lines is therefore anticipated. But the problem consists, as already seen in connection with products directly of the earth, in the extremely low productivity of agricultural labour. Dramatic confirmation of this is found in the livestock sector. In Russia not only the ousted proletarian power but even big state capital has yet to ’settle accounts’ with the peasantry, dug into the kolkhozes as though they were veritable fortresses of resistance. In large measure they are protected from external competition, and can cloak their inertia within the rhetoric of phoney socialism and national planning. But the pundits of perestroika know that if they wish to ’crack’ the world market they will have to able to feed the city proletariat at lower cost, and that means they will have to storm the fortresses of ’kolkhozian socialism’ and remove yet more young workers from rural cooperativism and turn them into bona fida proletarians.

     We were next informed how even in the Sovkozes the level of labour productivity is only little above that in the kolkhozes. The last statistical table expanded on the theme and showed, surprisingly, that even in the sovkhozes around half of all families possess a small livestock capital, and often of very good quality living in stalls adjacent to the house. The sovkhoz therefore falls way short of the theoretical model of the ’state factory on the land’; and the sovkhoz personnel still resemble the poor peasantry with little or no land which is forced to sell its labour on a day to day basis for a large part of the year.

     Our next report was in response to the reunification of Germany, now a fait accompli. A connection was shown to exist between the assessments and predictions made by the party - in the postwar period and then during the crises of 1958 and 1959 - and the state of the world economic crisis in which East and West Germany came finally to be reincorporated. Ample citations from party texts were quoted to back this up. The speaker stressed the gravity of the recession which has hit the Eastern districts, which are easy prey for the gigantic financial pirates of Bonn. The main victim is the proletariat, paying with a rate of unemployment already running at 40%. Meanwhile wages are kept low, at 60% of the western rate just like in a colony. However, the greater ease with which reunification of the class struggle will take place in a united Germany (though the regime backed unions are doing everything to obstruct this) is, for us, the positive outcome.

     During the final evening session, we were brought up to date on how the planned republication of the study we have entitled ’the Course of World Capitalism’ is progressing. The comrades involved in this work told us about the latest new and updated statistical tables that’ll be included, in particular those pertaining to the course of the steel industry in the capitalist epoch. These final modifications, which will be very important for future investigations by the party into economic matters, mean that the date of publication will be delayed and the final tome bulkier than we expected.

     We then adjourned for our traditional ’nosh-up’ to a restaurant adjoining our meeting place and thereby avoided getting too dispersed and wasting too much time. .

     The first report of the following day continued the ongoing study on the dynamic between the party and the proletarian class struggle; a matter of considerable importance for marxism as it clearly defines the function of the party. The speaker started by referring to the transcendentalist schema, appropriate to scholasticism, characterising it as starting from preliminary concepts in order to deduce physical consequences; a logical and authoritarian hierarchy, from high to low. This was the philosophical model which would be turned on its head during the bourgeois revolution when the demoliberal schema would replace empirical experience, testable by anyone, with absolute and unchanging premisses. The inversion of the old method places the individual, and his senses, at the summit of the pyramid instead of the autocrat and revelation.

     The theoretical separation still remains, however, both on the conceptual and social level. Marxism has resolved this dilemma with the reality of class struggle, and manifested itself historically in a party which is organ both of knowledge (impersonal, doctrine) and social battle against the parties of enemy classes.

     The party of the proletariat, which arises before Marx with the proletariat itself, isn’t the doctrine of communism (as a theory) becoming action, but is rather a result of historical experience refining the means necessary to achieving the communism; a communism which is felt as a need. In point of fact we have always said that those who adhere to the party do not do so because they have passed exams in marxism, but because they have been propelled by their instincts to line-up on certain positions. Nowadays the bourgeoisie has even turned its back on its own ’scientific’ viewpoint, as far as human society is concerned anyway. Today the demoliberal model has triumphed everywhere, from East.to West. It is a model in which (and this is no accident) physical life is seen as least important of all. -

     Next came a report on our history of the workers’ movement in the British Isles which told of the birth of the doltish and ineffective ’English socialism’ so-called, at the beginning of the century.

     After a short break we reconvened and considered some diagrams and tables which clearly showed the scale of the incipient recession in the United States and the slowing up taking place in the economies of the European countries and Japan. Of particular interest was the diagram pertaining to industrial production in America. It showed a small, but nevertheless definate, rise in the otherwise downward curve on the graph which exactly corresponded to the month when the American mobilization took place in the Gulf. Unfortunately this has merely whetted the appetite for imperialist war and the war in the Gulf hasn’t yet ’cleared the shelves’; hasn’t yet got rid of the huge backlog of surplus commodities, nor has it resolved the general crisis of the capitalist system which both they and we see as bound to come to a head in the future.

     The last report concerned our intervention in the breakaway unions in the schools; the COBAS, and we were given an account of discussions and struggles that have taken place over the last few months. As regards the struggles over the strike against the war, we were told how part of the school sector, and of the COBAS, would have liked to respond immediately, but due to the vacillations and sabotage of the leftists - who are ever present diverting workers’ struggles into safe channels, and who procrastinated through endless meetings - action was delayed until February 22nd. 12% per cent of school workers participated in the strike.

     Next we were told about the Italian government’s attacks against public employees; the logical outcome of the defeat of workers in the private sector over contracts. The government wants to ignore the expiry date of contracts, when they come up for renewal, also revise the system of calculating pensions, and reconsider so-called ’privatisation’, which, apart from fashionable ideological considerations, would mean withdrawing the right to strike in schools, all-out strikes without notification that is. Against these worsenings the COBAS went ahead and organised, in a highly dubious unity with two other unions not belonging one of the official Labour confederations, the strike on May 25th with a national demonstration in Rome (dubious because one of these organisations was the result of a right-wing split in the COBAS and the other one ‘autonomous’ for reasons, we suspect, rather akin to the UDM in Britain). The federationists responded by declaring a farcical strike on the last day of the school term, which, as foreseen by the speaker, would end up being cancelled the day before on the strength of vague ministerial promises.

     The reunion drew to a close in the early hours of the afternoon with discussions about our future commitments. We talked of subjects we need to cover, articles we need to publish, and when, and discussed possible dates and venues for our next reunion.


 



New Publication:

Our party is pleased to announce the publication of

IL CORSO DEL CAPITALISMO MONDIALE NELLA ESPERIENZA STORICA E NELLA DOTTRINA DI MARX, 1750-1990
(The course of world capitalism: historical experience and Marx’s teaching)

Number 8 in our Italian series of the texts of the Communist Left, this massive volume is a comprehensive study of the development of the world capitalist economy. It shows conclusively how vacuous the bourgeois economists are when they claim that capitalism has changed its spots. Here we see documented how the "man-eater" Capital has continued to hunt and feed on its human victims, through incessant cycles of crises and wars.

The statistical tables detailing Capital’s global development have been updated from the original versions published in 1957-59, to include data from the last few decades. Lest the reader fear that the book is mere "number-crunching", we give this assurance: far from presenting a sterile image of capitalist growth, the work shows why the negation of this bourgeois economy and society must come

about; furthermore, the characteristics of the; communist society that will replace it are underlined. In short, communism is described on the materialist basis of the capitalist characteristics to be negated. A confirmation of Marx’s work, then, both in its analysis of the course of Capital’s development, and in its prevision of communism - and that’s what keeps our party going.

"Just as the revolutionary Prometheus stole the secret of fire from Zeus, so the party of the modern proletariat stole the knowledge of the characteristics of communist society; this is its first weapon, not a sterile analysis of the nature of the society dominated by Capital, and of its disgusting day-today activities". (p.294)

Those interested in obtaining a copy of this work should write to one of the party’s addresses listed in this issue of our review.


 

 



Underground tremors hit capital

At 07:00 hrs. on 24th October 1991, London Underground services were severely disrupted by strike action.

     Seven stations were completely closed, and up to fifteen affected by the unofficial action of station foremen and women. To evade the draconian penalties that the bosses have in store for wildcat strikers these days, the station staff simply rang in sick, or turned up late for duty.

     What sparked off this dispute? After the Kings Cross fire some years ago, station staff were asked to take on more safety-related responsibilities. It comes as no surprise that the L.U. management expected the workers to deal with the problems created by bourgeois penny-pinching; nor is it surprising that they wouldn’t match an increase in Workers’ responsibilities with an increase in wages. Both of these attitudes have the same origin: the "financial constraints" imposed by capital. Such constraints - the strait-jacket of this deranged economy - are never admitted as the cause of the low safety standards that kill workers; but they’re always openly invoked when it comes to requests for pay increases.

     The Rail, Maritime and Transport Union has done nothing to help the workers it purports to represent; instead it accepts the bosses’ arguments, though with some added mutterings about "Tory government".

     Hence the message of the "wildcats" was directed against both the London Underground management and the RMT: "We are determined to succeed with our demand, and we shall not be found wanting should further action be required". The co-ordinating group, ignoring "their" union’s hostility, said that the strike was "just a warning. There could be more to come".

     The union apparatuses, long subdued and trained by government legislation and a multitude of less formal controls, "bribes" etc, are today mere gangs protecting their own interests on a traditional "patch"; that of labour representation. Apart from that, they can be distinguished in no material way from the rest of the ruling class. The function of the unions is to facilitate capital’s projects for restructuring, and to undermine any tendency the working class may show towards unifying and co-ordinating its struggles.

     Earlier in the year, London Underground announced 1,000 job losses. On the 26th November, they announced that 5,000 more jobs will be axed over the next three years. Warning had come of industrial action by the RMT, ASLEF and the white-collar union TSSA; but even if any official action does eventuate over the redundancies, it will be of the limited pecemeal type.

     Such official actions are intended only to relieve the pressure on capital, the upper crust. To defend themselves, workers will have to by-pass the unions, and organise independently to fight the bourgeoisie. The strike of the station staff on London Underground is a model that needs to be extended to wider and wider categories of workers, with the various struggles eventually being linked up and co-ordinated. Let’s hope the recent tremors on the Underground portend a revolutionary quake of force 10 in the not-so-distant future.




Ignore the elections - continue the struggles

Text of leaflet distributed at the time of the election

Election fever has broken out in the Media - the country is supposed to be in the grip of a great debate over the nation’s future. The out-going Members of Parliament are busily denouncing the others for almost every kind of insults that can be imagined. And all this is supposed to constitute politics. If that was all there is to politics then those who dismiss it all, and especially politicians, can be forgiven for having a healthy scepticism for such matters. A disgust for all the antics in parliament could well be the beginning of wisdom - it is not in itself an answer to the problem but at least is a first step towards an understanding.

The Media offensive (certainly an offensive Media!) to stir up an interest in the election is underway. Everybody is being bombarded by every gimmick and insult to bring their attention to "the great debates" about the future for the economy, country, tax system and even the ecology, as if the parties concerned genuinely cared about the issues. And the purpose of all this, well they have a personal stake! They are politicians on the make - they are after another five years on the Parliamentary gravy-train. Those who are not on the gravy-train yet are after somebody else’s seat, so that is why the in-fighting gets really dirty.

Just in case people haven’t noticed that an election campaign is underway the programmes on TV are rearranged (would they really consult the people over whether they really want to watch all this rubbish?). In order to bombard everyone whole rain-forests are cut down in order to churn out election leaflets a good proportion of the population would rather do without. And the purpose of all this is to give creditability to a rather discreditable bunch who would be the Government. Usually a majority party forms the Government, if there isn’t a clear majority then some sort of deal will be done and a form of Government cobbled together from people who were tearing each other to pieces a few days before! No wonder the word of politicians is so distrusted. But now, with the possibility of no party having an over-all majority, commentators are talking of a Hung Parliament - there is a fairly ’treasonable’ thought in there somewhere.

The Purpose behind these Elections

At least every five years a General Election has to be called. Its official reason is to consult the electors and have a new Parliament elected. Besides the trappings of democracy, which gives these MPs their reason for being involved in getting a Government formed, there the process of democracy ends. From then on Parliament and the state then tells the over-whelming majority of the population, particularly the working class, how we are to be taxed and governed. The election is for the ruling class to decide which of the contending parties, busily involved in their own beauty parade, will meet the needs of keeping the country in one piece and keeping us workers "in our place". The role of the Media in examining the policies of each of the candidates and parties is in reality a process of bringing the population on to ground which is very safe for the capitalist class. Why else the detailed examination of what will be done over taxes, public expenditure, investment, involvement in Europe - there certainly aren’t any demands for policies to eliminate unemployment, real living wages for workers and unemployed, lifting the burdens of high interest rates on the working class: that would be far too much for the bourgeoisie to tolerate. Much too investigative for the bosses, indeed.

The ruling class are well aware of the distrust of politicians amongst some of the working class. A healthy disinterest, and in some cases down-right hostility or opposition, to the requirements of the boss class by whole sections of the working class is another reason why this election is taking place. The ruling class is desperate in trying to involve the working class in all the debates on the future of the economy and the capitalist system as a whole. All the issues of public investment and/or tax cuts, how to get the economy going (while keeping the worker’s wages in line), future inside/outside Europe and the possibility of floods of refugees from unspecified corners of the world [dying to pay their whack of the Poll Tax?]. Even better if they can get the working class to passionately take up some of the issues against other sections of their own class. It is the old strategy of divide and conquer. And if they can disorientate whole sections of workers by getting them to demand policies which are in the interests of sections of the ruling class well that is a real bonus for the bosses. It also plays the role of confusing and disorienting workers after the elections. That is why the elections are important for the ruling class at this time.

Should there be a significant section of workers who can hold out from being intimidated into participating in the election issues, then this will be viewed by the ruling class as a threat. That is why all the fuss and efforts to pull everybody into the election. Not only are millions still resisting the Poll Tax, if this is coupled with large-scale abstentions in the elections, this will represent a significant refusal by parts of the working class and sections of other classes to cooperate in the grand scheme of things. While not glorifying this resistance as anything more than it is, a desperate refusal to collaborate in the process of their own political strangulation, it does show a determined opposition not to fall for all the same old tricks.

Keep up the Resistance!

As we have pointed out millions have been refusing, even in a limited form, to cooperate with the Poll Tax. At least it got rid of the Thatcher wing of the Tory Party - which was more than all sorts of elections achieved! Already at least a million people have disappeared off the electoral register, because registering invites a Poll Tax demand. The likes of the Labour Party condemn this as disenfranchising themselves by not claiming their vote. Indeed it is Roy Hattersley of the Labour Party who points out that it is the Labour Councils who are tougher on Poll Tax defaulters than Tory Councils (as if we didn’t know already the class role of these characters). It is the role of the Labour Party to identify Poll Tax resisters and to make sure they come before the Courts at the earliest possible time. They are certainly a bosses’ party through and through.

We well understand this process and not only refuse to condemn anyone for this but are inclined to defend them for their actions. It does not in itself provide a class solution, but represents a first stage in which people will / must go through with (re)building class wide organisations. To successfully fight back against the ruling class the workers need to form themselves as an organised class, united in action in defending their own interests. In a limited way what has been achieved by all this individual resistance is that there is a wealth of determination, a potential understanding (even though at this stage very fragmented) and a dogged determination that shows that the workers are still not prepared to lie down and be walked all over. And this determined resistance has led to members of other classes joining in. It does show in a very limited way the capacity of the workers to lead other classes in society in struggle against the ruling class. No wonder the desire of the ruling class to stamp on this movement as much as they can. If that is all that can be achieved at this stage, then so be it. That is why we defend those sections of workers and individuals who continue to resist, and especially who refuse to join the alleged stampede to the polling booths.

Keep up the resistance - Ignore the elections