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On the Thread of Time
DOGS’ LEGS
"Sul Filo del Tempo - Le gambe ai cani", Battaglia Comunista, n.11‑1952

 
 

1994 Introduction
[1952 Preface]
 
DOGS’ LEGS
Historical Theses and Counter-theses
Economic Theses and Counter-theses
"Philosophical" Theses and Counter-theses
 
 
 
 

1994 Introduction

In the years that followed the Second World War, conditions were hostile to the survival of a revolutionary minority: the defeated Axis countries were occupied by the Allied armies who imposed counter-revolutionary order, and everywhere proletarians were disarmed and defeated. Although a few thousand rallied around the Communist Left in Italy, the great majority of proletarians succumbed to the reformist and Stalinist parties, whose watchword might just as well have been: "prostrate yourselves before the national interest". Under these conditions, there could be no revolutionary upsurge.

The situation, then, was objectively unfavourable to the communist party. Since any possibility of criticism with actual weapons was ruled out, our party devoted its main energy to honing the weapons of criticism. What was needed was to reaffirm the fundamental points of Marxism in relation to the conditions of the time and this meant demonstrating that no "new facts", of any description, would warrant any updating of the principles or programme of communism. Only by reiterating the line of the historic Marxist party would it be possible to re-establish the formal party on a sound basis. Given that the counter-revolution had become entrenched and was unlikely to loosen its grip for the foreseeable future, any recourse to frenzied activism justified by theoretical "novelties" would certainly weaken the party, and actually delay the revolution.

The series of articles "On the Thread of Time", which started to be published in our bi-monthly paper Battaglia Comunista in 1949, was a key element in this work of reconstruction. The series constantly referred to the positions taken by Marx and Engels in situations akin to those faced by our party in the period after World War II. For this reason, the articles were generally divided into two sections, "Yesterday" and "Today".

In the article translated here, however, this format was temporarily abandoned. In its place a range of wrong counter-theses are opposed to theses which are correct. For the most part, the counter-theses had already been expressed by various comrades in the Internationalist Communist Party (the name adopted by the formal party in the fifties). Their views had already been responded to on many occasions, in articles and reports of meetings, in correspondence and discussions, and yet it was still felt, after several years of it, that a summary of the issues which had been raised was required. It was pointed out at the time that erroneous views are all the more dangerous for appearing to be close to Marxism.

Within a few months of the publication of the article the dissenting tendency would leave the party, taking with them the titles of the party’s press. This was quite permissible under bourgeois law, but it was all they could to take with them; Marxism they would leave behind. From that time on the various vicissitudes of this group would be of minimal interest to us.

So, the restatement of Marxist positions contained in the present article was, at least in part, in response to an ephemeral upheaval. Why republish it today? The explanation of the original title provides the answer: "Le Gambe ai Cani" is a contraction of an Italian expression which means literally to straighten the dog’s legs; a metaphor for zealous attempts to redeem the irredeemable; in the present article implying the effort to straighten out misconceptions which will persistently reappear, no matter how often attempts are made to clear them up.

The situation is now more favourable for us than it was back in the fifties. Since the mid-seventies, the capitalist crisis has let up for shorter periods. The system of alliances which dominated the world for four decades has collapsed or is in the process of collapsing. Russia, today even less "equivalent" to the U.S. than it was in 1952, has dropped the organisations in the West which were subservient to it and which are now completely indistinguishable from the rest of the bourgeois mire. We are witnessing a tentative rebirth of class organisations in some parts of the world and the grip of the counter-revolution seems less firm than before.

These changes in the world situation have only confirmed the arguments which were put forward in the present articlee. The activist folly of the fifties doubters has not accelerated the course of history by one iota. Yet just as we can be sure that the confusion and lack of precision countered in this text will crop up again, so we can also be certain that Marxism doesn’t need to be revised or changed. Marxism is a theory applicable in both revolutionary and counter-revolutionary periods, and the article is still a powerful summary of our positions, of use both to party members and to those drawn towards the party tradition.
 

[Editorial Note: we refer above to the titles of the party’s publications being taken by the dissenting tendency and that this was "quite permissable under bourgeois law". But it wasn’t actually a question of ownership in the sense of person(s) putting up money and taking what they considered themselves to be entitled to. Under Italian law publications have to be registered with the State. The named individual becomes responsible for what is printed and can be merely a nominal representative and not necessarily responsible for doing the bulk of the work. By taking the titles of the party’s publications the hardest workers were therefore left without a journal and a review, and the editor of both publications was left sitting at his desk.
Despite the problems all this caused, we steadfastly refused to get bogged down in arguments about assets, money and materials, and we certainly weren’t going to allow bourgeois law to make decisions about our political affairs. For those who went off with our ex-titles, nothing more needs to be said. Up to the time of their departure these titles were ours, and thus they remain. They contain our work and are the product of years of struggle and clarification. No matter what has become of them now (and whether they actually justify the use of paper they are printed on), the early editions of Battaglia Comunista and Prometeo will remain forever untarnished].
 
 
 
 
 



DOGS’ LEGS
 
 

[1952 Preface]
 

At the end of the Second World War, it was easily to conclude that a few weeks would suffice to dispel the noble yet futile illusion that great armed, revolutionary working class movements would emerge, similar to those at the end of the First World War.

There were two principal aspects of this complex development which we will reiterate once again. The victorious armies, instead of resting content with the unconditional surrender of the enemy’s general staff and government powers, completely suppressed the functions of both, occupying the entire territory of the conquered countries and establishing within them an indefinite state of emergency. From this flowed the uselessness in practice of the favourable power relations that existed between proletarian class and state defeated in war, and the impossibility of a rapid transition from support or acceptance of the war to defeatism. The other aspect was the decomposition of the revolutionary movement of the Third International, which, following on from a series of tactical deviations to the right in 1922, around the time of the formation of the Italian party, bit by bit deserted revolutionary positions until finally it ended up resituating itself on the terrain of the traitor movements of the second International and the First World War; indeed becoming even worse than them.

On the other hand these two factors in post Second World War power relations were apparent not only at the beginning of the war, but from the time when totalitarian bourgeois governing parties were being formed in various European countries. Using this historical fact to establish the inviolable prospect of a new type of "ideological war" at the European level, and "interclassist blocs" within the various nations, the deserters from communism who took their lead from Moscow would wallow in this political perspective in the most crass and disgusting way. The fact that having ceased to be classist and communist they remained totalitarian, and that through their politico-military manoevrings abroad they had had a brief love affair with the bourgeois totalitarian Nazis just compounded their betrayal.

The conclusion to be drawn from these premises was that the time the proletarian movement would take to recover, and rid itself of the old opportunist scabies and the new and even more paralysing syphilitic sores, was measurable in decades not years, and that the task of those groups that had stuck to, and defended, the position which 99% of the  communists of 1919 vintage had deserted, would turn out to be a long and difficult one, beginning with the laborious job of drawing up a balance-sheet of the counterrevolutionary catastrophe; which needed to be examined, understood and utilized to effect a complete reorganisation.

It is towards this end that the limited forces available have been working in Italy for the past seven years (forces which are maybe even weaker outside Italy)  recovering historical and informational data and carrying out analytical work which has taken a resolute stand against glib pessimism of the type which maintains that since things have gone so wrong then first principles must - if not entirely, at least for the most part - be abandoned and replaced  The review, Prometeo, and the newspaper, Battaglia Comunista, have worked hard to maintain this essential cornerstione: the continuity of the theory and the method of action of the communists.

Given the nature of the task and the means needed to accomplish it, clearly any noisy impact on "Italian politics", as those in radio, the newspapers and election candidates booming out through their megaphones understand it, would be distinctly lacking. In fact, it was decidedly for the best as crude impatience has only ever made a difficult path even longer. After all, Marxism has toiled for a century to boot out those inclined to such emotions; and when it succeeds, and against the prevailing wind too, then that’s a good result.

This work is founded on an appeal to the movement’s fundamental texts and theses, on its experience and on its history from the time it arose, and on the evaluation of recent historical facts in the light of the original Marxist vision: what has been elaborated can be found distributed in various passages and studies, with constant, untiring reference to the essential quotations.

Put bluntly, this is our position: new facts do not lead us to correct the old positions, nor to supplement or rectify them. Today we interpret the original Marxist texts in the same way as we did in 1921 and even before that; and we interpret later facts in the same way; the old proposals regarding methods of organisation and action remain valid.

This work is neither entrusted to individuals nor committees, much less so to bureaus. In timing and quality, it is part of a unitary operation that has been unfolding for over a century, going well beyond the birth and death of generations. It is not inscribed in anyone’s curriculum vitae, not even of those who have spent an extremely long time coherently elaborating and mulling over the results. In this work of elaboration of key texts, and also of studies interpreting the historical process that surrounds us, the movement prohibits, and has to prohibit, personal, extemporary and contingent initiatives being taken.

The idea that some obliging bloke, with pen and inkwell and an hour or so to spare, starts writing texts from scratch, or else, the Cyrenic, long-suffering "base" is urged to do so by some circular letter or by some ephemeral academic meeting, whether noisily public or in secret, well, it is just childish. The results of such efforts should be disqualified from the outset; especially when such an array of dictates is the work of those who are obsessed with the effect of human intervention in history. Is it men in general, particular men, or a given Man with a capital M who intervenes? It’s an old question. Men make history, it’s just that they have very little idea how and why they make it. As a rule, all the ‘fans’ of human action, and those who mock what they allege to be fatalist automatism, are generally the very people who privately nurture the idea that their own wee bodies contain that predestined Man. And they are the very ones who do not and cannot understand anything at all: they fail to see that whether they sleep like logs, or realize their noble dream of rushing around like men possessed, history will not be affected one iota.

Coldly cynical, and totally lacking in sympathy for any of these super-activist specimens so convinced of their own importance, to them, and to every synedrion of innovators and would-be helmsmen, we repeat: Go back to sleep! You can’t even set an alarm clock.

The task of setting the Theses in order and straightening out all the dogs’ legs veering off on all sides – a task which always arises when least expected – needs considerably more than a short speech or an hour or so at some little congress.

It isn’t easy to compile an index of all the places where it is necessary to plug the holes, a work evidently seen as inglorious by those born to "pass into history", whose style, rather than patching up, is to totally destroy. Still, we think a small index might be useful, even though it obviously won’t be perfect and will contain repetitions and inversions. We will compare correct with erroneous theses: we won’t however call the latter anti-theses since such a term is easily confused with antithesis, which suggests two different theses side by side in opposition. We prefer to use the term counter-theses.

Also, purely for clarity’s sake, we will divide the points we wish to make into three obviously interconnected sections, namely: History, Economy and (in inverted commas) Philosophy. We completely disregard those theses which are blatantly bourgeois and opposed to our own, and whose refutations are well-known, and sometimes we consider as counter-theses notions which are, more than anything, just incorrect formulations, but ones which have nevertheless prevailed as bad habits and given rise to much misunderstanding.
 
 
 


Historical theses and counter-theses
 

Counter-thesis 1. From around the beginning of the nineteenth century, society is divided into two conflicting classes: the bourgeois holders of the means of production, and proletarian wage-workers.

Thesis 1. According to Marx there are three classes in the fully industrial countries:
1 - Industrial, commercial and banking capitalists
2 - Landowners, the designation being entirely apt in the bourgeois world with its free market in agrarian land,
3 - Wage-labourers.
     In all countries, but above all in those whose industry is barely-developed, and during the period in which the bourgeoisie has not yet taken political power, there are other classes present in varying degrees, such as: feudal aristocracy, artisans, peasant proprietors.
     First the bourgeoisie, and then the wage earners, began to have historical importance at various times in various countries: Italy, 15th Century - Low Countries, 16th Century – England, 17th Century – France, 18th Century - Central Europe, America, Australia, etc., 19th Century – Russia, 20th Century - Asia today.
     The result is class struggles composed of different class fronts and in areas which are very different.
 

Counter-thesis 2. Proletarians are, and demonstrate themselves to be, indifferent to the revolutionary struggles of the bourgeoisie against the feudal powers.

Thesis 2. The proletarian masses struggle everywhere on the insurrectionary terrain to overthrow feudal privileges and absolute power. In various countries and at various times, a significant part of the working class ingenuously see in bourgeois democratic demands a real conquest for poor citizens too. Another stratum, which can see that the bourgeois taking power are also exploiters, is influenced by the doctrine of "reactionary socialism" and wants to ally itself, in its hatred for the bosses, with the feudal counter-revolution. The most advanced part holds to the correct position: bosses, and the workers they exploit, can share no common ground in terms of ideological and "civil" demands, but the bourgeois revolution is necessary, both in order to pave the way to the use on a grand scale of associative mass production, which allows an improved standard of living, and greater consumption and satisfaction to the poor part of society, and in order to then make possible the social management, initially by the proletariat, of the new forces. Hence the workers strike out with the big bourgeoisie against the nobility and clergy, and even (Communist Party Manifesto) against the reactionary petty bourgeoisie.
 

Counter-thesis 3. Where counter-revolutions happened after the bourgeois victory (feudal and dynastic restorations) the struggle did not concern the workers, because it took place between two of its enemies.

Thesis 3. In every armed struggle supporting restoration (the anti-French coalitions are examples of this) and against it (for example, the French republican revolutions of 1830 and 1848) the proletariat fought and needed to fight in the trenches and on the barricades alongside the radical bourgeois. The dialectic of class struggles and civil wars has shown that such help was necessary to the property-owning and industrial bourgeoisie in order to win; but immediately after its victory the bourgeoisie would hurl itself ferociously against the proletariat, which wanted power and social advantages. This same pattern is followed in the inevitable succession of all revolutions and counter-revolutions: the historic help given to the bourgeoisie during its insurrection is the condition for one day being able to defeat it, following a series of attempts.
 

Counter-thesis 4. Every war between feudal and bourgeois states, or insurrection for national independence from the foreigner, was a matter of indifference to the working class.

Thesis 4. The formation of national States of more or less uniform race and language is the best condition for replacing Medieval with capitalist production, and every bourgeoisie struggles to achieve that end even before the reactionary nobility is overthrown. This arrangement into national states is a necessary transition for the workers (especially in Europe), since internationalism, immediately affirmed by the very first workers’ movements, cannot be arrived at without overcoming the localism in production, consumption and demand typical of the feudal period. Thus it was in its class interests that the proletariat fought for the liberty of France, Germany, Italy and the Balkan statelets; up until 1870, when this arrangement could be said to have been terminated. During the period when the alliance in the armed struggle was still in place, differentiation of class ideologies developed, and the workers shunned national and patriotic struggles. Of special interest to the proletarian movement’s future were the victories against the Holy Alliance, against Austria in 1859 and 1866, and finally against Napoleon III himself in 1870; victories against Turkey and Russia were always of interest; and conversely defeats were negative conditions (Marx, Engels, in all their work; Lenin’s 1914 theses on war). All these criteria are applicable to the modern "Orient".
 

Counter-thesis 5. From the moment that the bourgeoisie takes power over the whole of the continents in which the white race predominates, wars become wars of imperialist rivalry; not only does no workers’ movement have any interests in common with the government at war, continuing instead to fight the class struggle to the point of defeatism, but the very outcome of the war in one direction or the other has no influence on the future development of the class struggle and proletarian revolution.

Thesis 5. Lenin is right that wars from 1871 onwards, following the period of "peaceful" capitalism, are imperialist, and that ideological acceptance of them is betrayal; and right that in 1914, whether in the countries of the Entente or in those of the Germans, the duty of every revolutionary workers’ party was to work in opposition to the war and transform it into civil war, above all by exploiting military defeat.
     Ruling out any joint armed action with the bourgeois, whether regular or irregular, doesn’t mean that the various effects of military events are no longer worthy of consideration. It is inane to argue that when such immense forces clash the consequences of military reversals are more or less the same. In a general sense it can be said that the victory of the older, richer and politically and socially more stable of the bourgeois States is less favourable to the proletariat and its revolution. There is a direct link between the unfavourable course of the proletarian struggle over the last 150 years - at least thrice the time calculated by Marxism - and the constant success of Great Britain in the wars against Napoleon, and then against Germany. English bourgeois power has now been stable for three centuries. Marx set great store by the American civil war, but the latter did not result in the formation of a power capable of defeating Europe; rather it formed a buttress to English power, and this buttress has gradually become the centre through wars conducted in common and not through direct conflict.
     In 1914, Lenin clearly indicated the most favourable solution to be a military defeat of the Tsar’s armies as it would render the outbreak of the class struggle in Russia possible: and he struggled with all his might against the notion that the worst hypothesis was a German victory over the Anglo-French, while branding with equal force the German social-chauvinists.
 

Counter-thesis 6. The Russian revolution was nothing more than the outbreak of the proletarian revolution at the point where the bourgeois were weakest, and from which the struggle could extend itself to other countries.

Thesis 6. It’s obvious that the proletarian revolution can only win internationally, and that it can and must begin wherever the relation of forces is most favourable. The thesis that the revolution must first commence in the countries with fully developed capitalism, and then in others, is pure defeatism. Against this opportunist position Marxism adopts an approach which is historically very different.
     In 1848, Marx considers that in spite of the violent Chartist struggles the class revolution will not explode into being in industrial England. He regards the French proletariat as able to give battle by grafting itself onto the Republican revolution. But above all he considers the fulcrum to be the double revolution in Germany. Here feudal institutions are still in power and Marx sketches out in precise political terms the Germanic proletariat’s manoeuvrings; first with liberals and bourgeois, then immediately afterwards against them.
     For at least twenty years and especially after 1905, the year in which the Russian proletariat appears on the scene as a class, the Bolsheviks prepare a similar prospect for Russia. It is based on two elements: the decrepitude of feudal institutions which (the Russian bourgeoisie being as cowardly as it is) must be overthrown - and the need for a defeat, like the one inflicted by Japan, which will provide a second opportunity.
     The proletariat and its party, closely linked doctrinally and organisationally with parties in countries which had been bourgeois for some time, identified this as their task: to take on the fight for the liberal revolution against Tsarism, and for the emancipation of the peasants from the boyars; thence on to the seizure of power by the Russian working class.
     Many revolutions in history have been defeated, some through not having managed to take power, others by means of an armed repression which overthrew them (the Paris Commune), others without military repression, but through destruction of the social fabric (Italian bourgeois Communes). In Germany the expected double revolution made the first transition militarily (and socially) but failed at the second. In Russia the double revolution successfully accomplished both the first and second military civil war transitions, made the first socio-economic transition, but failed to make the second, that is, from capitalism to socialism; although due not to an invasion from outside, but as a result of the international proletarian defeat beyond Russia (1918-1923). Today the effort of Russian power is not directed towards socialism, but towards capitalism, in its revolutionary march on Asia.
     The historical turning-point which could have had Germany in 1848 or Russia in 1917 at its centre cannot really be portrayed as an internal national revolution, it being unthinkable that analogous global influence could be exerted by China for example, even though it is already on the way from feudalism to bourgeois-ism.
The weak point for locally initiating the new international revolutionary phase, from that time on, could only come from a war lost in a capitalist country.
 

Counter-thesis 7. Granted that it is clear that the formation of totalitarian systems of government in capitalist countries has nothing to do with the counter-revolutions of the restoration covered in theses 2 and 3, and that it is an expected consequence of the economic and social concentration of forces; and that consequently it is to relapse into betrayal to recognise the need for a proletarian-bourgeois bloc to restore liberalism in the economy and in politics and to adopt the partisan method of struggle. And granted that it would also be a mistaken position, in the event of conflict between bourgeois states, to support the group opposed to the one planning to attack Russia - in order to defend a regime which nevertheless derives from a proletarian victory - no influence on the proletarian class perspective and revolutionary revival must be attributed to the solutions of the second imperialist war.

Thesis 7. The historical problem is not exhausted by acknowledging that all the crusaderist interpretations of the war, as ‘ideological’ conflict between democracy and fascism, are just as bad as those given in 1914, to do with liberty, civilisation and nationality. On both sides, these propaganda aims concealed the aim of the conquest of markets and economic and political power; which is correct, but it is not enough. The ending of capitalism can only be realised as a series of explosions of those unitary systems that are the territorial class states; this is the process which should be identified and, if possible, hastened; and from the time of the appearance of imperialist wars, the possibility that it can be hastened by means of proletarian political and military solidarity is ruled out. But it is no less important to decode this process of the ending of capitalism, and to adapt the strategy of the International of the revolutionary parties accordingly. In place of this principled line, however, Russian policy has substituted the cynical state manoeuvre of a new system of power, and this shows that it is part of the constellation of world capitalism. From here the proletarian class movement must start its difficult recovery. And the first stage is: understanding.
     At the outbreak of war the Moscow State reached an agreement with the Berlin State. There can never be enough criticism of this historic about-face, accompanied as it was by the deployment of Marxist arguments on the imperialist and aggressive nature of London’s and Paris’s war - which the self-styled communist parties in the countries of the two blocs were invited to participate in.
     Two years later the Moscow State allied itself with the London, Paris and Washington governments, and directed all its propaganda toward demonstrating that the war against the Axis was not an imperialist campaign but an ideological crusade for liberty and democracy.
     Not only is it hugely important for the new proletarian movement to establish that in both phases revolutionary directives were abandoned, but also to evaluate the historic fact that in the second phase the Russian State, whilst gaining strength and resources for its internal capitalist advance, also contributed to the conservative solution to the war. It did this by contributing an enormous military force which averted a catastrophe at least in the state centre of London, for the nth time unscathed by the storm of war. If such a catastrophe had occurred it would have been an extremely favourable condition for a collapse of the other bourgeois States, starting with Berlin, and for setting Europe ablaze.
 

Counter-thesis 8. The present antagonism between America and Russia (along with their respective satellites) is between two imperialisms who should both be opposed in the same way. Therefore, whether one or the other gains the upper hand or whether a lasting compromise is established, the conditions under which the revival of the communist movement and the world revolution will be more or less similar.

Thesis 8. Such equations and parallels, when not restricted to condemning support to States in the event of a third world war, to partisan actions on both sides, and to opposing any renunciation of domestic autonomous defeatist actions by the proletariat, forces permitting, are not only inadequate but ridiculous. We can never obtain sight of the path to the world revolution (forecasting it remains a necessity even when history belies the favoured possibilities; without it there is no Marxist party) unless we tackle the question of the absence of a revolutionary class struggle between American capitalists and proletarians, and in England too; places where industrialism is most powerful. The response to this question cannot be separated from the evident success of all the imperialist enterprises and their exploitation of the rest of the world.
     Whereas the systems of power in America and England only need to conserve world capitalism, for which they have become prepared over the course of a long and violent historical movement in that direction; proceeding with measured step towards social and political totalitarianism (another inevitable premise to the final collision of forces), and whereas the bourgeois regime is also very advanced within the satellites of this bloc, in the other bloc, on the other hand, conditions are quite the opposite. Here, in the European and extra-European territories, we find a younger bourgeoisie still engaged in a social and political struggle against feudal remnants, and the state formations are newer and have a less consolidated structure. Meanwhile this bloc is reduced to making use of democratic and class-collaborationist trickery in a merely superficial way, it having used up all the resources of the one-party and totalitarian government, thus abbreviating the cycle. Obviously it will relapse into crisis if there is a collapse of the formidable capitalist system centred in Washington, which controls five-sixths of the economy ripe for socialism, and of the territories where there is a pure wage-working proletariat.
     The revolution will have to include a civil struggle in the United States; which a victory in world war would put off for a period measurable in half-centuries.
     Since today the un-degenerated Marxist movement is minute, it is unable to deploy greater forces to destroy one or the other system from within, although in principle we strive for this. Basically it’s a matter of gathering together those proletarian groups (still very few) which have understood the part Moscow and the pro-Moscow parties have played, through their political collaboration at the highest level for over thirty years, in this consolidation of capitalist power into great organised systems.: first with phoney politics, then with the millions upon millions who fell in battle, it is they who contributed most to ensuring the criminal subjection of the masses to the prospect of welfare and liberty under the capitalist regime and to "Western and Christian civilisation".
     And the way in which the proletariat organised by Moscow fights the latter within the Atlantic countries is this accursed civilisation’s greatest success and best insurance; something unfortunately which also applies to the chances of a possible military attack from the East.
 
 
 
 


Economic theses and counter-theses
 

Counter-thesis 1. The cycle of the capitalist economy’s development is heading towards a continuous depression of the standard of living of workers, who are left with barely enough to maintain life.

Thesis 1. The doctrine of the concentration of wealth into units that are ever-greater in volume and fewer in number still stands. However, this theory of mounting impoverishment doesn’t mean the capitalist system of production hasn’t enormously increased the production of consumer goods, by breaking up small-scale production and consumption within small isolated enclaves, progressively increasing the satisfaction of the needs of all classes. Marxist theory maintains that in the process the anarchy of bourgeois production disperses nine-tenths of this multiplied-a-hundredfold energy. It also pitilessly expropriates all the medium-scale owners of small reserves of useful goods, thus enormously increasing the number of those without reserves, whose remuneration is consumed as soon as it is received. In such a way the majority of humanity is rendered defenceless against economic and social crises and the fearful destruction of war inherent in capitalism; and against the latter’s policy, predicted over a century ago, of exasperated class dictatorship.
 

Counter-thesis 2. Capitalism is overcome if one can assign back the quota of surplus-value taken from the worker (the undiminished fruits of labour).

Thesis 2. Capitalism is overcome when one restores to the working community not the quota of profit on the ten per cent consumed, but on the ninety per cent squandered in economic anarchy. This is not achieved by applying a new accounting system to the values exchanged but by removing from consumer goods their character of commodities, by abolishing money wages, and by means of the central organisation of general productive activity.
 

Counter-thesis 3. Capitalism is overcome in an economy in which groups of producers control and manage single enterprises and trade freely among themselves.

Thesis 3. A system of mercantile exchange between free, internally autonomous enterprises, as propounded by co-operativists, syndicalists and libertarians, has no historical potential and is entirely non-socialist. It is even retrograde in relation to many sectors which were already organised on a general level in bourgeois times, responding to technical advances and the complexities of social life. Socialism, or communism, means society as a whole acting as one, unique association of producers and consumers. Every company based system preserves the internal despotism of the factory and the anarchy of having to adapt expenditure of labour energy to consumption levels, which today are at least ten times more than necessary.
 

Counter-thesis 4. Even if State direction of the economy and State management of productive enterprises isn’t socialism, it nevertheless modifies the character of capitalism as Marx understood it, thus modifying the prospect of its collapse and determining a third unforeseen form of post-capitalism.

Thesis 4. The economic neutrality of the political State has never been anything more than a bourgeois claim laid against the feudal State. Marxism has shown that the modern State represents the dominant capitalist class, not society as a whole; and it has also stated from the very beginning that the State is an economic force in the hands of capital and the entrepreneurial class. Dirigisme and State capitalism are further forms of the subjection of the political State to enterprise capital. They outline the expected final, desperate class conflict, which is not a clash of statistical numbers but of physical forces: the proletariat organised into a revolutionary party against the constituted State.
 

Counter-thesis 5. Given the unforeseen form of economy referred to above, Marxism must, if it is to remain valid, look for a third class which takes power after the bourgeoisie – a now defunct human group of share-holders – but which is not the proletariat. This class, which is the one which governs and has privileges in Russia, is the bureaucracy; or, as is argued for America, the class of managers, to wit, the technical and administrative directors of enterprises.

Thesis 5. Every class regime has had its administrative, judiciary, religious and military bureaucracy, the totality of which is an instrument of the class in power. But the components of this bureaucracy don’t constitute a class in themselves since class is the totality of all those who stand in the same relationship with the means of production and consumption. Since it was unable to feed its own slaves the class of slave-owners had already begun to disband (Communist Party Manifesto) under the reigning imperial bureaucracy, which struggled against the anti-slavery revolution and bloodily repressed it. The aristocrats had long known ruin and the guillotine, yet still the state, military and clerical networks fought to defend the old regime. The bureaucracy in Russia is not definable without arbitrarily separating out a few big fish from the rest: under State capitalism everyone is a bureaucrat. This alleged Russian bureaucracy, in America, managerial class, are instruments without a life and history of their own and are in the service of world capital against the working class. Class antagonisms tend towards outcomes which correspond to the Marxist perspective, which is based on economic, social and political facts, and not to any other outdated idea; and much less to new ideological constructions born out of the present obfuscated atmosphere.
 
 
 
 


"Philosophical" theses and counter‑theses
 

Counter-thesis 1. Since economic interests determine everyone’s opinions, in today’s society the bourgeois party represents the capitalist interest, and that composed of workers socialism. Therefore every problem can be resolved by consultation, not of all citizens, which is an invention of the democratic bourgeoisie, but of all workers, whose similar situation gives rise to similar interests and the majority of whom clearly see what the future holds for it in general terms.

Thesis 1. In every age the dominant opinions, culture, art, religion and philosophy are determined by men’s situation in relation to the productive economy and by the social relations derived from it. Hence in every age, especially at the peak and centre of its cycle, one can see that everyone tends towards opinions which not only don’t derive from eternal truths or spiritual enlightenment, but which are far removed from their actual interests, whether of an individual, professional or job category or class nature, these opinions being in large measure shaped in the interests of the dominant class and its necessary institutions.
     Only after long and painful clashes of interests and needs, after long physical struggles provoked by class conflicts, does the subject class forge a new opinion and doctrine of its own capable of opposing the reasons given in defence of the constituted order and proposing its violent demolition. Even long after the physical victory, the prelude to the long dismantling of traditional influences and lies, still only a minority of the interested class is in a position to securely set itself on the new course.
 

Counter-thesis 2. Class interest determines class consciousness, and consciousness determines revolutionary action. By the reversal of praxis is meant the contrast between the bourgeois doctrine, according to which every citizen must form a political opinion for reasons of ideals or culture, and accordingly act even against his own group interest, and the Marxist doctrine, according to which each person’s individual opinions are dictated by their group or class interests.

Thesis 2. The reversal of praxis, according to the correct vision of Marxist determinism, means that, whereas each individual acts according to environmental determinations (including not only his physiological needs but also all the innumerable influences of the traditional forms of production) and only after having acted tends to have a "consciousness", imperfect in varying degrees, of his action and the reasons he acted; and whereas this is the case also for collective actions, which arise spontaneously and due to material conditions before they become ideological formulations, the class party regroups the advanced elements from within the class and society who possess the doctrine of what lies ahead. The party is therefore the only one which, not arbitrarily or by reason of emotive enthusiasms but by proceeding rationally, is an element of that active intervention which in the language of the professional philosophers would be called "conscious" or "intentional". Conquering class power, the dictatorship, are functions of the party.
 

Counter-thesis 3.  The class party shapes the revolutionary doctrine and in response to new events and situations transforms it according to the new needs and requirements of the class or of tendencies within it.

Thesis 3. A historic revolutionary class struggle, and a party which acts on its behalf, are real facts and not a doctrinaire illusion, inasmuch as the body of the new theory (which is nothing other than a discrimination of future courses of events yet to happen, the conditions and premises for which can nevertheless be identified in the preceding reality) was formed when the class appeared in History within a new disposition of forms of social production. The continuity of the class doctrine and party, across a wide area and over a long period of time, is the proof of the correctness of the revolutionary forecast.
     After every physical defeat of the revolutionary forces there follows a period of disorientation, taking shape as a revision of chapters of the theoretical corpus with new facts and events given as the pretext. The entire revolutionary plan will have been shown to be valid only when, and only if, the goal having been achieved, it can be confirmed that after every lost battle the forces were reconstituted on the same basis and on the same programme established at the time of the "declaration of class war" (1848). Any preparedness to accommodate new, different interpretations of the theory, as demonstrated not by any philosophical or scientific lucubration but from the sum of historical experiences derived from a century of struggle by the modern proletariat, is for Marxists equivalent to a confession of having defected.

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     Further explanations of these synthetic notes are spread through numerous party writings, and in conference and meeting reports.
     Putting a break on dangerous improvisations shouldn’t be considered a task that is a monopoly, or an exclusive right, of anyone in particular.
     There is still room for improvement in the presentation of the arguments; the exposition can be made clearer and more effective. Maybe after another seven years, working seven hours a week, it might have improved a bit.
     And then, if a few whiz-kids do show up, even a whole load of them, it will then be appropriate to say (as we recall the cold Zinoviev once saying) that men of the sort that only appear every five hundred years have arrived; and he was referring to Lenin.
     We expect they’ll be embalmed. We don’t feel we deserve such an honour. F