Communist Party of Italy
2nd Congress, Rome, March 1922
THESES ON TACTICS
THESE ON THE AGRARIAN QUESTION
These on Tactics of the Communist Party
I. Organic Nature of the Communist Party
II. The Communist Party’s Process of Development
III. Relations between the Communist Party and the Proletarian Class
IV. Relations between the Communist Party and other Proletarian Political Movements
V. Elements of the Communist Party’s Tactics derived from Study of the Situation
VI. "Indirect" Tactical Activity of the Communist Party
VII. "Direct" Tactical Activity of the Communist Party
VIII. The Italian Communist Party and the Present Moment
I. Organic Nature of the Communist Party
1. The Communist Party, political party of the proletarian class, presents itself in its action as a collectivity operating with a unitary approach. The initial motives which lead the elements and groups of this collectivity to incorporate themselves into an organism with a unitary action are the immediate interests of groups of the working class, arising out of their economic conditions. The essential characteristic of the Communist Party’s function is utilization of the energies incorporated in this way for the attainment of objectives which are common to the entire working class and situated at the culmination of all its struggles; objectives which thus transcend – by integrating them – the interests of single groups, and such immediate and contingent aims as the working class may propose.
2. The integration of all elemental thrusts into a unitary action occurs by virtue of two main factors: one of critical consciousness, from which the party draws its programme; the other of will, expressed in the instrument with which the party acts, its disciplined and centralized organization. It would be erroneous to consider these two factors of consciousness and will as powers that can be obtained by, or are to be expected of, individuals since they are only realisable through the integration of the activity of many individuals into a unitary collective organism.
3. The precise definition of the theoretical and critical consciousness of the communist movement, contained in the programmatic declarations of individual parties and of the Communist International, as well as the organization of the one and the other, was and still is being arrived at through the examination and study of the history of human society and its structure in the present capitalist epoch, carried out on the basis of facts, experience and through active participation in the actual proletarian struggle.
4. The announcement of these programmatic
declarations, and the appointment of the
men to whom are entrusted the various positions
in the party organization,
is formally carried out by means
of a consultation, democratic in form,
of the party’s
representative assemblies, but in
reality they must be understood as a
product of the real process which accumulates elements of experience
the preparation and selection of leaders, thus shaping
both the programmatic content and the hierarchical constitution of
II. The Communist Party’s Process of Development
5. The organization of the proletarian party takes form and develops insofar as there exists – because of the level of maturity to which the social situation has evolved – the possibility of a unitary collective consciousness and action in the direction of the general and ultimate interests of the working class. On the other hand, the proletariat appears and acts as a class in history precisely when the tendency to construct a programme and a common method of action, and hence to organize a party, takes form.
6. The process of formation and development of the proletarian party does not present a continuous and regular course, but is susceptible both nationally and internationally of highly complex phases and periods of general crisis. Many times there has occurred a process of degeneration whereby the action of the proletarian parties has lost, or has moved away from rather than towards, that indispensable character of a unitary activity inspired by the highest revolutionary aims. It has become fragmented in pursuit of the satisfaction of interests of limited groups of workers, or in achieving contingent results (reforms) at the cost of adopting methods which have compromised the work for revolutionary objectives and the preparation of the proletariat for such objectives. Thus the proletarian parties have often ended by extending the frontiers of their organization to the spheres of elements that could not yet place themselves upon the terrain of unitary and maximalist collective action. This process has always been accompanied by a deforming revision of doctrine and programme, and by such a slackening of internal discipline that instead of having a general staff of capable leaders resolute in the struggle, the proletarian movement has been placed in the hands of hidden agents of the bourgeoisie.
7. The path back from a situation of this kind towards the organization of a true class party, under the influence of new situations and new pressures to act exercised by events upon the working masses, takes place in the form of a separation of a part of the party which through debates on the programme, a critique of unfavourable experiences in the struggle, and the formation within the party of a school and an organization with its own hierarchy (fraction) reconstitutes that living continuity of a unitary organism, founded on the possession of a consciousness and a discipline, from which the new party arises. This is the process which, in general, led from the failure of the Second International Parties to the birth of the communist Third International.
8. The development of the Communist Party after the resolution of such a crisis, allowing for the possibility of subsequent critical phases produced by new situations, can to facilitate analysis be defined as "normal" development of the party. By displaying the maximum continuity in upholding a programme, and in the life of its leading hierarchy (apart from individual replacement of disloyal or worn out leaders), the party will also perform the maximum of effective and useful work in winning the proletariat to the cause of revolutionary struggle. This is not simply a question of exerting a didactic effect upon the masses; and even less is it a desire to exhibit an intrinsically pure and perfect party. It is rather a question of achieving the maximum yield in the real process whereby – as will be seen better below – through the systematic work of propaganda, proselytism and above all active participation in social struggles, the action of an ever increasing number of workers is caused to shift from the terrain of partial and immediate interests to the organic and unitary terrain of the struggle for the communist revolution. For only when a similar continuity exists is it possible, not merely to overcome the proletariat’s mistrustful hesitations with respect to the party, but rapidly and effectively to channel and incorporate the new energies gained into a common thought and action, thus creating that unity of movement which is an indispensable revolutionary condition.
9. For all the same reasons, the aggregation to the party of other
or parts detached from parties must be seen as entirely abnormal. A
which up to that moment was distinguished by a different programmatic
and independent organization does not bring with it an ensemble of
that can be effectively assimilated en bloc; on the contrary, it
the solidity of the old party’s political position and internal
so that the increase in overall numbers is far from corresponding to an
increase in the party’s strength and potential – indeed could on
paralyse its work of organizing the masses rather than facilitate it.
It is desirable that as soon as possible it should be declared inadmissible within the world communist organization to depart from two fundamental principles of organization: in each country, there can only be a single communist party; and it is only possible to join the Communist International by individual admission to the communist party of the country in question.
III. Relations between the Communist Party and the Proletarian Class
10. The specification and definition of the characteristics of the class party, which is the basis for its constitutive structure as organ of the most advanced part of the proletarian class, does not mean that the party need not be bound by close relations with the remainder of the proletariat – indeed it demands that it should be.
11. The nature of these relations derives from the dialectical way of viewing the formation of class consciousness and a unitary organization of the class party, which transports a vanguard of the proletariat from the terrain of partial, spontaneous movements provoked by the interests of groups on to the terrain of general proletarian action; and which does not achieve this by rejecting those elemental movements, but accomplishes their integration and transcendence through living experiences, by pushing for their realization, taking active part in them, and following them attentively throughout their development.
12. The work of propagating its ideology and proselytizing for its ranks which the party continuously carries on is thus inseparable from the reality of the proletariat’s activity and movement in all its myriad forms. It is a banal error to see as contradictory: participation in struggles for contingent and limited objectives, and the preparation of the final and general revolutionary struggle. The very existence of the party’s unitary organism, with its indispensable conditions of clarity of programmatic vision and solidity of organizational discipline, gives a guarantee that partial demands will never be accorded the value of ends in themselves, and that the struggle to fulfil them will only be seen as a means of experience and training for useful and effective revolutionary preparation.
13. Hence, the Communist Party participates in the organizational life of all forms of the proletariat’s economic organization open to workers of all political faiths (unions, factory councils, cooperatives, etc.). If the party is to carry out its work effectively, it is a fundamental position to maintain that all organs of this nature must be unitary, in other words must include all those workers who are to be found in a specific economic situation. The party participates in the life of such organs by organizing those of its members who belong to them into groups or cells linked to the party organization. These groups, participating in the front line in the actions of the economic organs to which they belong, draw to themselves – and hence into the ranks of the political party – those elements who become ready for this as the action develops. They aim to win majority support and leading positions in their organizations, thus becoming the natural vehicle for transmitting the party’s slogans. A whole activity is thus carried on, which is one of conquest and organization; this is not limited to propaganda or proselytism or internal electoral campaigns in the proletarian assemblies, but above all involves entering into the thick of struggle and action and helping the workers to derive the most useful experience from them.
14. The entire work and organization of the communist groups is designed to give the party definitive control over the leading bodies of the economic organisms, and first and foremost over national union executives, which seem the most secure mechanism for leading movements of the proletariat not integrated in the ranks of the party. The Communist Party – seeing it as its primary interest to avoid splits in the unions and other economic organs, so long as their leadership remains in the hands of other parties and political currents – will not enjoin its members to comport themselves, in the field of execution of movements led by such organisms, in contrast with the latter’s directives as regards action, though they must express the most open criticism of the action itself and the work of the leaders.
15. Apart from taking part in this way in the life of those proletarian organisms that have arisen naturally through the pressure of real economic interests, and facilitating their extension and reinforcement, the party will strive to bring to the fore through its propaganda those problems of real interest to the workers which, in the evolution of social situations, can give life to new organisms of economic struggle. By all these means, the party expands and strengthens the influence which via a thousand bonds stretches from its organized ranks to the proletariat as a whole, taking advantage of all its manifestations and potential manifestations in social activity.
16. Any conception of the party organism based on the requirement of
perfect critical consciousness and a complete spirit of sacrifice from
the part of each of its members, individually considered, and that
the layer of the masses linked to the party to revolutionary unions of
workers constituted in the economic field by a secessionist criterion
including only those proletarians who accepted given methods of action,
would be totally erroneous.
On the other hand, one cannot insist that by a given time, or on the eve of undertaking general actions, the party must have realized the condition of incorporating under its leadership – or actually in its own ranks – the majority of the proletariat. Such a postulate cannot be put forward aprioristically, abstracting from the real dialectical course of the party’s process of development. And it is quite meaningless, even in the abstract, to compare the number of workers incorporated into the disciplined and unitary organization of the party, or following the latter, with the number of those who are unorganized and dispersed or attached to corporative organisms incapable of linking them together organically. The remainder of the present exposition will be an attempt to define the conditions to which relations between the party and the working class must correspond, in order to render given actions possible and effective, and how those conditions may be established.
IV. Relations between the Communist Party and other Proletarian Political Movements
17. One part of the proletariat is especially resistant to incorporation into the ranks of the Communist Party or into its periphery, because it is organized in other political parties or sympathizes with them. All the bourgeois parties have proletarian supporters, but here we are above all interested in the social-democratic parties and syndicalist and anarchist currents.
18. Faced with these movements, an incessant criticism of their programmes must be carried out, demonstrating their inadequacy for the purposes of proletarian emancipation. This theoretical polemic will be all the more effective if the Communist Party can show that the criticism long made by it of such movements, in accordance with its own programmatic conceptions, are confirmed by proletarian experience. For this reason, in polemics of this kind it is essential not to hide the conflict between our respective methods – including that part which does not apply solely to problems of the moment, but reflects the subsequent developments of the proletariat’s action.
19. Such polemics must, moreover, be reflected in the field of action. Communists taking part in struggles in proletarian economic organisms led by socialists, syndicalists or anarchists will not refuse to follow their actions unless the masses as a whole, in a spontaneous movement, should rebel against it. But they will demonstrate how this action, at a certain point in its development, was rendered impotent or utopian because of the incorrect method of the leaders, whereas with the communist method better results would have been achieved, serving the aims of the general revolutionary movement. In their polemics the communists will always distinguish between leaders and masses, leaving the former all responsibility for their errors and faults; moreover, they will not omit to denounce with equal vigour the activity of those leaders who, albeit with sincere revolutionary feelings, propose dangerous and incorrect tactics.
20. If it is an essential aim of the Communist Party to win ground among the proletariat by increasing its strength and influence at the expense of proletarian political parties and currents with which it disagrees, this aim must be achieved by taking part in the reality of the proletarian struggle upon a terrain which can be simultaneously one of common action and of mutual conflict – always on condition that the programmatic and organizational physiognomy of the party is never compromised.
21. In order to draw to itself those proletarians who support other political movements, the Communist Party cannot follow the method of constituting within them organized groups and fractions of communists or communist sympathizers. In the trade unions, this method is logically applied to carry out penetration work, without any aim of causing the communist groups organized in the unions to leave them; with political movements, a method of this kind would compromise the party’s organic unity, for the reasons already mentioned with respect to the development of the party’s organization.
22. In propaganda and polemics, it is opportune to bear in mind that many workers who are militants in the syndicalist and anarchist ranks were ready to understand the unitary revolutionary struggle, but were set on the wrong path solely through a reaction to the past degeneration of the political parties led by social-democrats. The bitterness of polemics and struggle directed against the socialist parties will be an element of prime importance in bringing these workers back on to the revolutionary terrain.
23. The obvious incompatibility for a member of the Communist Party
with simultaneously being a member of another party extends beyond
parties, to other organisms which, though they do not have the name or
organization of a party, nevertheless have a political character, and
all associations which base their acceptance of members on political
the most important of these is freemasonry.
V. Elements of the Communist Party’s Tactics derived from Study of the Situation
24. With the preceding elements, the general criteria which govern organizational relations between the Communist Party and other proletarian organisms have been established, in accordance with the former’s essential nature. Before coming to the more properly tactical terms of the question, it is necessary to dwell on those elements for resolving any tactical problem that are provided by examination of the momentary situation through which one is passing. The Communist Party’s programme contains the perspective of a series of situations related to a series of actions which in the course of an unfolding process are generally attributed to them. There is, therefore, a close connection between the programmatic directives and the tactical rules. Studying the situation thus appears as an integral part of resolving tactical problems, considering that the party, on the basis of its consciousness and critical experience, has already predicted how various situations might unfold, and hence defined the tactical possibilities corresponding to the actions to be followed in the various phases. Examination of the situation serves as a check on the accuracy of the party’s programmatic positions. On the day that any substantial revision of them should become necessary, the problem will be far more serious than any that could be resolved by means of a simple tactical switch, and the inevitable rectification of programmatic outlook cannot but have serious consequences on the strength and organisation of the party. The latter must therefore strive to forecast how situations might unfold, in order to exercise the maximum possible degree of influence on them; but waiting for situations to arise in order to subject them, in an eclectic and discontinuous manner, to the guidelines and suggestions they have prompted, is a method characteristic of social-democratic opportunism. If communist parties were forced to adapt themselves to this, they would underwrite the ruin of the ideological and militant construction of communism.
25. The Communist Party succeeds in possessing its character of unity, and its tendency to realize a whole programmatic process, only insofar as it assembles in its ranks that part of the proletariat which, by becoming organized, has overcome the tendency to move only under the direct impulses of limited economic situations. The influence of the situation on general movements of the party ceases to be direct and deterministic, becoming a rational and voluntary dependence, insofar as critical consciousness and the initiative of will, which have only the most limited value for individuals, are realized in the organic collectivity of the party. This is all the more true in that the Communist Party presents itself as the forerunner of those forms of human association which will draw from their transcendence of the existing formless economic organization the faculty to direct rationally – instead of passively undergoing – the play of economic facts and their laws.
26. The party, however, cannot utilise its will and its initiative in a capricious way or to an arbitrary degree; the limits which it can and must set to both the one and the other are imposed upon it precisely by its programmatic directives, and by the existing possibilities and opportunities for action, which can be deduced from an examination of the contingent situation.
27. Having examined the situation, an assessment needs to be made of the party forces and the relation between these and those of enemy movements. Above all, it is necessary to take care to assess the degree of support the party could expect from the proletariat if the latter undertook an action or engaged in a struggle. This means forming a precise idea of the repercussions and spontaneous actions which the economic situation produces among the masses, and of the possibility of developing these actions, as a result of the initiatives of the Communist Party and the attitude of the other parties. The forms of influence of the economic situation on the class combativity of the proletariat are very complex, depending on whether we are passing through a period of growing prosperity of the bourgeois economy, or of crisis with sharpening consequences. The effect of these phases on the activity and organizational life of the proletarian organisms is complex, and cannot be considered simply by embarking on an examination of the economic situation at one given moment, and deducing from it the proletariat’s level of combativity. For it is necessary to take account of the influence of the whole course of previous situations, in all their oscillations and variations. For instance, a period of prosperity can produce a powerful trade-union movement, which in a subsequent crisis of immiseration can be rapidly drawn on to revolutionary positions, while preserving the breadth of its mass organization and thus favouring the success of the revolution. Or a period of progressive immiseration can disperse the trade-union movement, in such a way that in a subsequent period of prosperity it finds itself at a stage of construction that does not offer a sufficient framework for revolutionary organization. These examples, which could equally well be reversed, go to prove that "the curves of the economic situation and of class combativity are determined by complex laws, the latter by the former, but do not resemble each other in form”. To the rise (or fall) of the former, there may correspond in given cases indifferently a rise or a fall of the latter.
28. The integrative elements of this study are extremely varied. They consist in examining the real tendencies involved in the constitution and development of the proletariat’s organisations and the reactions – including psychological reactions – produced upon it by, on the one hand, economic conditions, and on the other, by the specific attitudes and social and political initiatives of the ruling class and its parties. Examination of the situation is effected in the political field by examining the positions and forces of the various classes and parties in relation to the power of the State. With respect to this it is possible to classify the situations in which the Communist Party may find itself taking action into fundamental phases; situations which in the normal course of things lead it to grow stronger, by extending its membership, and at the same time define ever more precisely the limits of its tactical field. These phases can be specified as follows: Absolutist feudal power – democratic bourgeois power – social-democratic government – intermediate period of social war in which the bases of the State become unstable – proletarian power in the dictatorship of the Councils. In a certain sense, the question of tactics consists not just in choosing the right course for an effective action, but also in preventing the party’s activity from going beyond the appropriate limits, and falling back upon methods that correspond to past situations – the consequence of which would be to arrest the party’s process of development to the detriment of its revolutionary preparation. The considerations which follow will refer above all to the party’s action in the second and third of the above-mentioned political phases.
29. The Communist Party’s possession of a critical method and a
which lead to the formulation of its programme is a condition of its
life. For that very reason, the party and the Communist International
limit themselves to establishing the greatest liberty and elasticity of
tactics, by entrusting their execution to the relevant leading bodies,
subject to examination of the situation, in their judgement. Since the
party programme cannot be characterised as a straightforward aim to be
achieved by whatever means but rather as a historical perspective of
related pathways and points of arrival, the tactics adopted in
situations must be related to the programme, and thus the general
norms adopted in successive situations need to be clearly specified
not too rigid limits, becoming clear and clearer and fluctuating less
less as the movement gains in strength and approaches the final
Only such a criterion as this can allow us to approach ever closer to
optimum level of genuine centralization within the parties and the
needed to direct action effectively; in such a way that orders
from the centre will be willingly accepted, not just within the
parties but also within the mass movement they have managed to
One mustn’t however forget that, having once accepted the movement’s
organic discipline, there is still the factor of initiative on the part
of individuals and groups which is dependent on how situations develop
and what arises out of them; and on a continual, logical advance in
of experiences, and changes to the course being followed, to discover
most effective way of combating the conditions of life imposed on the
by the existing system. Thus it is incumbent upon the party and the
explain the totality of its general tactical rules in a systematic
manner – since it might eventually call upon those within its own
ranks, and within the strata of the proletariat which have rallied
around them, to put these tactical rules into practice and to make
sacrifices on their behalf – showing how such rules and prospects
for action constitute the inevitable route leading to victory. It is,
therefore, a practical and organisational necessity, and not the desire
to theorise and schematise the complexity of the manoeuvres that the
party may be called upon to undertake, which leads us to establish
the terms and limits of the party’s tactics. And it is for these
entirely concrete reasons that the party must take decisions which
appear to restrict its possibilities for action, but which alone
provide a guarantee of the organic unity of its activity in the
VI. "Indirect" Tactical Activity
of the Communist Party
30. When the conditions are lacking for a tactical
activity that can be
defined as direct, having the character of an assault on bourgeois
power with the forces at the Communist Party’s disposal, and which
will be discussed below, the party can and must – far from
restricting itself to a pure and simple work of proselytism and
propaganda – exert an influence on events through its relations
with and pressures upon other parties and political and social
movements, with the aim of determining developments of the situation
in a direction favourable to its own objectives, and in such a way as
to hasten the moment when resolute revolutionary action will be
The initiatives and attitudes to adopt in such a case constitute a delicate problem, and the basic condition which must be laid down that they must on no account be or appear to be in contradiction with the long‑term requirements of the party’s specific struggle, in accordance with the programme of which it is the sole proponent and for which at the decisive moment the proletariat will need to fight. Any stance which causes or entails the demotion to a secondary level of the complete affirmation of this propaganda, which not only has theoretical value, but is mainly derived from day‑to‑day positions adopted within the actual proletarian struggle, and which continually has to emphasise the need for the proletariat to embrace the communist programme and methods; any stance which made the reaching of given contingent benchmarks appear to be an end in itself rather than a means to proceed further would lead to a weakening of the party structure and its influence in preparing the masses for the revolution.
31. In the historico-political situation which corresponds to democratic bourgeois power there generally takes place a division in the political field into two currents or “blocs” – the left and the right – which vie with each other to run the State. The left bloc is normally supported more or less openly by the social-democratic parties, which favour coalitions on principle. How this contest unfolds is not a matter of indifference to the Communist Party, both because it concerns points and demands which affect the proletarian masses and attract their attention, and because its settlement in a victory of the left really can smooth the path to the proletarian revolution. In examining the problem of the tactical advisability of coalitions with the left political elements – and wanting to avoid all falsely doctrinaire or stupidly sentimental and puritanical apriorism – one must above all bear in mind that the Communist Party enjoys freedom of movement insofar as it is capable of pursuing with continuity its process of organization and preparation, from which it draws that influence upon the masses which permits it to call them to action. It cannot propose a tactic with an occasional and transitory criterion, reckoning that it will be able subsequently, at the moment when such a tactic ceases to be applicable, to execute a sudden switch and change of front, transforming its allies of yesterday into enemies. If one does not wish to compromise one’s links with the masses and their reinforcement at the very moment when it is most essential that these should come to the fore, it will be necessary to pursue in all public and official declarations and attitudes a continuity of method and intention that is strictly consistent with the uninterrupted propaganda and preparation for the final struggle.
32. An essential task of the Communist party, in preparing the proletariat ideologically and practically for the revolutionary struggle for thedictatorship, is to engage in a ruthless criticism of the programme of the bourgeois left and of any programme that seeks to resolve social problems within the framework of bourgeois parliamentary democratic institutions. The substance of the disagreements between the bourgeois right and left for the most part affect the proletariat only insofar as they are demagogic falsifications, which naturally cannot be disarmed purely by theoretical criticism, but must be revealed for what they are in practice, in the thick of struggle. In general the political demands of the left, whose aims certainly do not at all include taking one step up the ladder to some intermediary rung between the economic and political system of capitalism and that of the proletariat, correspond to conditions which give more breathing space to modern capitalism and ensure its more effective defence, as much in their intrinsic value as because they tend to give the masses the impression that the existing institutions can be utilised to achieve their emancipation. This is true of the demands for extension of the suffrage and for other guarantees and improvements of liberalism, as it is of the anti‑clerical struggle and the whole baggage of “masonic” politics. Legislative reforms in the economic or social fields have a similar value: either they will not be carried through, or they will be carried through only insofar as they create an obstacle to the revolutionary dynamic of the masses and with that intention.
33. The advent of a left bourgeois or even a social-democratic government may be seen as a preliminary to the final struggle for the proletarian dictatorship; but not in the sense that their practical activity would create useful preconditions of an economic or political kind, and certainly not in the expectation that they would allow the proletariat greater freedom to organise, prepare and engage in revolutionary action. The Communist Party knows and has the duty to proclaim, by force of critical reason and of bloody experience, that these governments will only respect the freedom of movement of the proletariat when it recognises them and defends them as its own representatives, whereas faced with an assault by the masses against the machinery of the democratic State, they would respond with the most ferocious reaction. It is thus in a very different sense that the advent of such governments may be useful: insofar as, that is, that their activity allows the proletariat to deduce from harsh experience that only the installation of its dictatorship can really defeat capitalism. Clearly the exploitation of such an experience will only be effective to the extent that the Communist Party has denounced the government’s failure in advance, and preserved a strong independent organisation around which the proletariat can regroup, after it is forced to abandon the groups and parties which it would have partly supported in their government experiment.
34. Thus not only would a coalition of the Communist Party with parties of the bourgeois left or of social-democracy damage revolutionary preparation and make it difficult to utilise a left government experiment, but also in practice it would normally postpone the victory of the left over the right bloc. These are rivals for the support of the bourgeois centre, which moves to the left because it is rightly convinced that the left is no less anti‑revolutionary and conservative than the right, proposing concessions that are largely apparent and only minimally effective in order to brake the pressing revolutionary movement against the identical institutions accepted by right and left alike. Thus the presence of the Communist Party in a left coalition would lose the latter more support, above all on the terrain of electoral and parliamentary struggle, than it would bring it through its backing, and the whole experiment would probably be delayed rather than accelerated by such a policy.
35. On the other hand, the Communist Party does not disregard the undeniable fact that the demands around which the left bloc focuses its agitation attract the interest of the masses and, in their formulation, often correspond to their real requirements. The Communist Party will not uphold the superficial thesis that such concessions should be rejected on the grounds that only the final and total revolutionary conquest merits the sacrifices of the proletariat. There would be no sense in proclaiming this since the only result would be that the proletariat would be sure to go behind the democrats and social-democrats and end up enslaved to them. The Communist Party will thus call upon the workers to accept the left’s concessions as an experiment but emphasize in its propaganda its pessimistic forecast as to that experiment’s outcome, and the necessity for the proletariat, if it is not to be ruined by this venture, not to stake its organisational and political independence upon it. The Communist Party will the masses to demand of the social-democratic parties – who guarantee the possibility of the promises of the bourgeois left being achieved – that they honour their commitments, and, with its independent and incessant criticism, it will prepare to reap the harvest of the negative outcome of such experiments by showing how the entire bourgeoisie is in fact arrayed in a united front against the revolutionary proletariat and how those parties which call themselves workers’ parties, but which support the coalition with part of the bourgeoisie, are merely its accomplices and agents.
36. The demands put forward by the left parties, and especially by the social-democrats, are often of a sort that it is appropriate to urge the proletariat to move directly to implement them; since if a struggle did get underway the inadequacy of the means by which the social-democrats proposed to arrive at a programme of benefits for the proletariat would at once become apparent. The Communist Party would then highlight those same demands, making them more specific, and raise them as a banner of struggle for the whole of the proletariat, urging the latter to compel the parties which talk of such demands purely for opportunist reasons to demonstrate their commitment to winning them. Whether these are economic demands or of a political nature, the Communist Party will propose them as the objectives of a coalition of trade-union organisms, shunning the setting up of committees to lead the struggle and agitation in which the Communist Party would be represented and involved alongside other political parties; the aim being always to focus the attention of the masses on the distinctive communist programme, and maintain its own freedom of movement so it can choose the right moment to widen its sphere of activity when it needs to by ousting the other parties who had revealed their impotence and been abandoned by the masses. The trade-union united front, understood in this way, offers the possibility of combined actions by the whole of the working class from which the communist method can only emerge victorious, it being the only method susceptible of lending the unitary movement of the proletariat real substance, free from any co‑responsibility for the activity of parties which express their verbal support for the proletariat’s cause merely out of opportunism, and with counter-revolutionary intentions.
37. The situation which we are considering may take the form of an assault by the bourgeois right upon a democratic or social-democratic government. Even in this case the stance of the Communist Party cannot be one of proclaiming solidarity with governments of this sort since we cannot present to the proletariat as a gain to be defended a political order whose experiment we greeted, and are following, with the intention of accelerating in the proletariat the conviction that it is not one designed in its favour but for counter-revolutionary ends.
38. It may happen that the left government allows the right‑wing organisations, the bourgeois white gangs, to engage in their dramatic exploits against the proletariat and its institutions, and not only does not ask for the proletariat’s support, but insists that the latter has no right to respond by organising armed resistance. In such a case the communists will demonstrate that it can only be actual complicity, indeed a division of functions between liberal government and reactionary irregular forces. The bourgeois is then no longer discussing whether the method of democratic and reformist lullabies or that of violent repression suits it best, but utilises them both at the same time. In this situation, the real and most deadly enemy of revolutionary preparation is the liberal side in government: it tricks the proletariat into taking its side in the name of legality so that it can render it defenceless and disorganised, and so it can defeat it, in full collusion with the whites, on the day the proletariat finds itself forced by events to struggle against the legal apparatus which presides over its exploitation.
39. Another hypothesis is that the government and the left‑wing
invite the proletariat to participate in the armed struggle against a
right‑wing attack. This invitation is inevitably a trap, and the
Communist Party will reply to it by proclaiming that weapons in the
hands of proletarians means advent of the proletarian power and
State, and the disarming of the traditional bureaucratic and military
machinery of the State, since the latter will never follow the orders
of a left government which has attained power by legalitarian means
when it summons the people to armed struggle, and since only the
proletarian dictatorship could lend a stable character to a victory
over the white bands. As a consequence no “loyalism” should be
proclaimed or practiced towards such a government, and, most
important of all, the masses will need to be made aware that the
consolidation of the latter’s power with the help of the
proletariat against a right‑wing rising or attempted coup
would be very dangerous, because it would mean the consolidation of
the very organisation that will oppose the proletariat’s
revolutionary advance when this has become its only way out; if
control of the armed organisation of the State had been left in the
hands of the democratic parties in government, in other words, if the
proletariat had laid down its arms without having used them to
overturn the existing political and state forms, against all the
forces of the bourgeois class.
VII. “Direct” Tactical Activity of the Communist Party
40. In other cases, however, immediate and pressing demands of the working class, whether for conquest or for defence, find the left and social-democratic parties indifferent. Not having at its disposal sufficient forces to call the masses directly to those conquests, because of the influence upon them of the social-democrats, the Communist Party – avoiding offering any alliance to the social-democrats, indeed proclaiming that they betray even the contingent and immediate interests of the workers – in formulating these objectives of proletarian struggle will invoke a proletarian united front realised on the trade union terrain for their attainment. The implementation of this front will find at their posts the communist militants in the unions; but at the same time it will leave the party the possibility of intervening when the struggle takes a further development, against which the social democrats will inevitably come out – and at times the syndicalists and anarchists too. On the other hand, the refusal of the other proletarian parties to implement a trade-union united front for these objectives will be utilised by the Communist Party to strike down their influence – not merely with criticism and propaganda which shows how what is involved is real complicity with the bourgeoisie, but above all by participating in the front line in those partial actions of the proletariat which the situation will not fail to provoke, by doing so on the basis of those precise strong points for which the party had proposed the trade union united front of all local organisations and all categories, and by drawing from this a concrete demonstration that the social-democratic leaders by opposing the extension of activity are preparing its defeat. Naturally, the Communist Party will not limit itself to this task of pinning the responsibility for an incorrect tactic on the other parties; but with extreme caution and tight discipline it will study whether the moment has not arrived to overcome the resistance of the counterrevolutionaries, when in the course of the action a situation is produced among the masses such that they would follow a call to action of the Communist Party against any resistance. An initiative of this kind can only be a central one, and it is never admissible for it to be taken locally by organisms of the Communist Party or trade unions controlled by the communists.
41. The expression "direct" tactics is applied more specially to the activity of the party in a situation which suggests to it that it should take the independent initiative of an attack on bourgeois power, in order to bring it down or to strike it a blow which will gravely weaken it. The party, in order to be able to undertake an action of this kind, must have a solid internal organization at its disposal, which will give absolute certainty of strict discipline to the orders of the central leadership. It must, in addition, be able to count on the same discipline from the union forces which it leads, so as to be sure of the support of a broad segment of the masses. It also needs a military type of organization of a certain degree of efficiency, and all the equipment for illegal activity – above all for communications and forms of contact that cannot be checked by the bourgeois government – that will allow it to preserve its leadership of the movement securely in the predictable situation of being outlawed under emergency provisions. But above all, in taking a decision for offensive action upon which may depend the fate of a whole, extremely long labour of preparation, the Communist Party must base itself on a study of the situation which does not just ensure it the discipline of the forces directly organized and led by it; which does not just encourage it to predict that the links which bind it to the best of the proletarian masses will not break in the struggle; but which gives it confidence that the party’s support among the masses and the breadth of the proletariat’s participation in the movement will grow progressively in the course of the action, since the order for this will serve to awaken and set in operation tendencies naturally diffused in the deepest layers of the masses.
42. It will not always be possible for a general movement initiated by the Communist Party for an attempt to overturn bourgeois power to be announced as having this open objective. The directive to engage the struggle may (other than in the case of an exceptional precipitation of revolutionary situations stirring the proletariat) refer to strong points which are something less than the conquest of proletarian power, but which are in part only to be realized through this supreme victory – even though the masses merely see them as immediate and vital demands: objectives which to a limited extent, insofar as they can be realized by a government which is not yet that of the proletarian dictatorship, leave open the possibility of halting the action at a certain point which leaves the level of organization and combativity of the masses intact, if it appears to be impossible to continue the struggle to the end without compromising, through the outcome, the conditions for resuming it effectively in subsequent situations.
43. It is not even to be excluded that the Communist Party may find it opportune to give the word for an action directly even though it knows that there is no question of arriving at the supreme revolutionary conquest, but only of waging a battle from which the enemy will emerge with his prestige and his organization damaged, and the proletariat materially and morally strengthened. In such a case, the party will call the masses to struggle by formulating a series of objectives which may either be the actual ones to be achieved, or appear more limited than those which the party proposes to achieve if the struggle is crowned with success. Such objectives, above all in the party’s plan of action, must be arranged in progression, so that the attainment of each of them constitutes a position of possible reinforcement through a halt on the path towards successive struggles. It is necessary to avoid as far as possible the desperate tactic of launching oneself into struggle in conditions such that only the supreme triumph of the revolution constitutes the favourable alternative, while in the opposite event there is a certainty of defeat and dispersal of the proletarian forces for a period impossible to foresee. Partial objectives are thus indispensable to maintain safe control over the action, and to formulate them does not conflict with criticism of their specific economic and social content, insofar as the masses might welcome them not as opportunities for struggle which are a means and a preliminary to the final victory, but as ends of intrinsic value with which to be satisfied once they have been won. Naturally, it is always a delicate and terrible problem to fix these goals and limits to action; it is through the exercise of its experience and the selection of its leaders that the party tempers itself for this supreme responsibility.
44. The party must avoid harbouring or spreading the illusion that, in a situation of stagnation of the proletariat’s combativity, it is possible to bring about the awakening of the masses for struggle through the simple effect of the example given by a group of brave men launching themselves into combat, and attempting coups de main against bourgeois institutions. The reasons why the proletariat may lift itself out of a situation of depression are to be sought in the real unfolding of the economic situation; the party’s tactics can and must contribute to this process, but with work that is far more profound and continuous than the dramatic deeds of a vanguard hurled into the attack.
45. The party, however, will use its strength and organization for actions that are properly controlled both in their conception and in their execution, on the part of armed groups, working-class organizations and street-crowds, which have a demonstrative and defensive value in giving the masses concrete proof that it is possible with organization and preparation to confront certain forms of resistance and offensive sallies by the ruling class, whether in the form of terrorist outrages by reactionary armed groups or in the form of police obstruction of given types of proletarian organization and activity. The aim will not be to provoke a general action, but to raise the depressed and demoralized masses up again to the highest level of combativity, with a series of actions designed to reawaken within them sentiments and a need of revolt.
46. The party will absolutely avoid, in such local actions, any infraction of the internal discipline of the trade-union organisms on the part of the local organs and the militants within them who are members of the Communist Party, since these must never be allowed to break with the national executive bodies led by other parties. For as has already been stated, they must serve as indispensable footholds for winning those bodies to the party. The Communist Party and its members will, however, follow the masses actively and offer them all their help when they respond through a spontaneous impulse to bourgeois provocations, even if they go beyond the limits of discipline to the criteria of inaction and passivity of the reformist and opportunist union leaders.
47. In the situation which is characteristic of the moment in which
the power of the State is shaken to its foundations, and is about to
the Communist Party, amid the full unfurling of its forces and of the
of the masses around its banner of maximum demands, will not miss the
of influencing moments of unstable equilibrium in the situation by
advantage of all such forces as may momentarily be acting in harmony
its own independent activity. When it is quite certain that it will win
control of the movement as soon as the traditional State organization
collapsed, it can have recourse to transitory and contingent agreements
with other movements which have forces at their disposal in the field
struggle – but without raising such alliances to themes of propaganda
or slogans addressed by the party to the masses. Success will in any
be the sole yardstick for assessing the correctness of having yielded
such contacts, and for judging what calculations are to be made in this
respect. It is not theoretical preconceptions or ethical and aesthetic
preoccupations that dictate the tactics of the Communist Party; its
entire tactics are dictated solely by the real appropriateness of the
means to the end and to the reality of the historical process,
applying that dialectical synthesis of doctrine and action which is
the patrimony of a movement destined to play the lead role in an
immense social renewal, the commander of the great revolutionary war.
VIII. The Italian Communist Party and the Present Moment
48. The phase, and thus the problem, of the party’s formation has now been completely surmounted in Italy. With the Socialist Congress of Milan – prior to which, the possibility was not definitively excluded of a substantive modification of the constitutive basis of the Italian Communist Party, through fusion with a left faction of the Socialist Party, which would have assumed the significance of an essential and integrative element – with the Milan Congress and its decisions this possibility has vanished entirely. It now seems evident that only the far left faction which split away at Livorno could constitute the party’s creative nucleus. And it is now equally clear that its normal progressive development will, in future, not proceed through a rapprochement with organized groups splitting off from other political formations; instead, it will proceed solely through individuaI recruitment of single persons who, as they enter its ranks designed precisely to receive them, will not introduce disorder or changes, but simply greater strength – in numbers, and hence in action.
49. The Party, therefore, freed from the cares inherent in every period of initiation, must devote itself completely to its work of ever more extensive penetration among the masses, establishing and multiplying the linking organs between them and itself. No field of proletarian activity must remain unknown to the communists: the trade unions, the cooperatives, the savings trusts, must be penetrated ever more deeply – with the establishment of communist groups and their linking together – and won to the Party’s directives. While the various Aid Committees, for political victims, for Russia, etc., must see the communists represented and enjoy their collaboration. This, however, is simply because the party must not remain indifferent to any instrument which will put it in closer contact with the proletariat; and because it must take care to satisfy the latter’s contingent necessities. It is never in order to establish lasting relations with other political parties, even subversive ones.
50. With respect to the latter, the polemics aimed at clarifying their attitude in the eyes of the workers, and at breaking the ambiguity of their programmatic declarations, must continue unflaggingIy. Socialists and libertarians pursue the weakening of the proletarian class in two different ways in Italy today: the former with their tactics of submission and disarmament in the face of capitalism’s attack; the latter with their struggle against the Republic of Soviets and against the principle of dictatorship of the proletariat, to which they counterpose the empty and theoretical apotheosis of an abstract freedom.
The present Italian situation, characterized by the ever vaster and more complete offensive of the bourgeoisie, daily offers a thousand unhappy documents for our polemics against the anarchists and socialdemocrats, who give manifest proof of their lack of understanding of the moment. For this, rather than representing anything exceptional and transitory, is in reality a natural and predictable stage of development of the capitalistic order: a specific manifestation of the function and purposes of the democratic State.
51. Today, in Italy, one can perceive a characteristic involution of the State with respect to its mode of functioning. The constitutive period of the bourgeois State, which marked a progressive centralization of all the functions of rule within the organization of a central authority, finds its counterpart and its negation in the present period, in which the stable unity of all powers – previously removed from the arbitrary decision of individuals – now crumbles and scatters. The powers of the State are once again exercised individually by each private person. And it would no longer even be necessary for the State to place its organs explicitly – though it does so – at the disposal of bourgeois conservation: from the army to the magistrature, from Parliament to the functionaries of the executive power. For each of these, in the person of its practitioners, uses its own powers to the same end, in an autonomous and uncontrollable manner.
In order then to prevent an unexpected halt in this crisis of dissolution from allowing the State to regain any control over the activity of individuals, the bourgeois class proceeds hastily to the establishment of supplementary organs. These, perfectly in agreement with the statutory organs – when these function according to the explicit desires of conservation – instead counterpose themselves to those organs and replace them whenever they show signs of moving away from the most supine acquiescence (Civil Committees, Defence Committees, etc.).
To invoke, as social democrats do, a return to State authority and to respect of the law indicates that they, though stating that the parliamentary democratic State is a class State, don’t get to understand that it is precisely for this reason that it fulfils today its essential duty, by breaking the written laws that were instrumental to its gradual stabilization, but which would today endanger its conservation.
52. The present Italian situation contains synthetically within itself all the constitutive elements of the coup d’état, even though the external probative fact of the military deed has not occurred. The progressive occurrence of episodes of violence which successively annuI the normal conditions of social life for a whole class of citizens; the superposition of the capricious will of groups and individuals over the dispositions of the written law; the immunity guaranteed to such groups and individuals; and the persecution ordained for their enemies – all this has produced the same results as would have been produced by a more grandiose and more violent single act,
which set more numerous forces in motion simultaneously.
The bourgeois class is perfectly aware of this state of affairs, but its interests require that the outward appearance of a formal democracy should not be destroyed; and that the general economy should not be deeply shaken by a violent change which ultimately would not offer any greater safeguard for its privilege than that which it enjoys today. It is thus probable that divided as it is on its evaluation of the necessity for it, and still being powerful enough to break it, the bourgeois class would oppose a disruptive military putsch motivated almost solely by personal ambitions. No new form of government could have more contempt than the present one for freedom; for rights already won and sanctioned; for the lives of the workers. Only in a further perfecting of the democratic State, rendering it more able to conceal the real substance of the bourgeoisie’s dictatorial régime, can it find its goal. This will be achieved with the formation of a social-democratic government.
53. The present Italian situation engenders and brings to fruition precisely this further stage in the martyrdom of the proletariat. Work is proceeding towards this result from two sides: a strong current in the Socialist Party and the left parties of the bourgeoisie are alike testing the ground, in order to find the most favourable spot for a meeting and an alliance. Both, in fact, motivate their actions solely by the necessity of finding and constructing a defence against destructive fascist violence. And on this terrain they seek the assent of all the subversive parties, demanding an end to polemics and mutual attacks.
If a social-democratic government would have the strength to fight and defeat fascism – which we strongly doubt, both through our theoretical convictions and because of the examples of recent history – and it therefore becomes necessary to prepare a terrain favourable to its formation, this will be all the more easily and rapidly constituted insofar as the communists continue their present determined and unflagging polemic against the Socialist Party. The communist attack gives the Socialist Party credit in bourgeois eyes, as a target of revolutionary violence and as an impediment and obstacle to the unfurling of the class struggle, and thus makes more probable an agreement and an alliance between them. For it must not be forgotten that left groups of the bourgeoisie began to present socialist collaboration as attainable in Italy from the time that the Livorno split liberated the Socialist Party from any communist current. A quietening down of the struggle between communists and socialists would restore the latter to the ostensible, though false, position of being favourable to the doctrine and practice of the III International; it would thus impede the reinforcement of that trust which is the precondition for creation of the social-democratic bloc.
Hence, the most absolute intransigence towards the subversive parties should be practised in the field of political struggle, even allowing the perspective – which for us is fallacious – that a change of men in a formally unchanged State could conceivably occur in a sense that would favour the proletariat.
54. As for fascism, the P.C.I., though considering it as an inevitable consequence of the régime’s development, does not draw the conclusion that an attitude of inert passivity should be taken up with respect to it. To combat fascism does not mean to believe that it is possible to annuI one function of bourgeois society without destroying the latter’s existence; nor to delude oneself that fascism can be defeated in itself, as an episode cut off and isolated from the overall offensive activity of capitalism. It aims instead at rendering less serious and painful the damage which enemy violence inflicts upon the combative and unyielding spirit of the working class.
55. The P.C.I. does not exclude but indeed bears in mind the possibility that from the present unstable situation there may arise the opportunity for violent action by a part of the bourgeoisie. Preparing, therefore, a minimum of means necessary to confront and overcome this, it takes up with respect to the problem of direct action an attitude of preparation.
The world crisis of the capitalist economy has had a negative influence on the advance of the proletariat, which has seen its most solid organizations broken. For they had not foreseen the crisis, and hence had not prepared themselves to surmount it victoriously. The party believes that today it is necessary to reconstruct that former solidity, guided by the conviction that in a situation analogous to the one recently traversed, a proletariat solidly organized and led by a revolutionary party could justly go over to the attack. Thus to construct this party and enlarge its influence over the masses; to give its own members coherence, discipline and preparation; to draw behind it ever broader layers of the working class: these are the essential tasks of the Italian Communists, who will accomplish them taking as their norm the theses on the various questions (trade union, agricultural, etc.) which will be approved and discussed by the present Congress.
Theses on the Agrarian Question
I. Agrarian Tasks of the Dictatorship or the Proletariat
II. The C.P. and the Peasants in the Phase of the Struggle for the Conquest of Power
III. How the Agrarian Proletariat Is Organized
IV. Organization of Semi‑Proletarians
V. Organization of Small Farmers
VI. Middle Landowning Farmers
VII. The Property of the Landlords
VIII. The Agrarian Section of the C.P.
I. - Agrarian Tasks of the Dictatorship of the Proletariat
1. Communism wants to organize, systematically, on a world scale, the production and distribution of products, with the aim of fully utilizing the resources of nature, of progressively reducing the work effort necessary for the existence of mankind, and of forming a classless society, in which everyone gives according to his ability and receives according to his needs. From this revolution will benefit mainly the masses of the rural workers of, precisely because in the current capitalist order of society they are at a low level of quality of life.
2. The systematic organization of production requires the maximum division and specialization, both national and international, of labor, and therefore collective labor. But the necessary material and technical conditions for collective work do not exist in all branches of production and cannot exist simultaneously in all branches, as long as capitalism is in force, which, because of its organic way of functioning under the pressure of individual interest and competition, must necessarily lead to the prevalence of some groups of interests to the detriment of others. Therefore, the indispensable condition for the creation, in all branches of production, of the material-technical conditions which will make possible their socialization and organization on a national and international scale is the political and economic overthrow of capitalism and the transfer of power to the proletariat through the proletarian revolution.
3. There is thus a period of transition between capitalism and communism, in which the present ruling class of capitalists disappears through the socialization of big industry, banking, transport, etc., and in its place the direction of society passes to the proletariat of the socialized enterprises. In this period there are still more or less considerable remains of private production, alongside economic forms dating back to even more ancient phases, and therefore there are other classes with an economic-social figure more or less distinct from that of the proletariat. This period of transition is that of the proletarian dictatorship.
4. In its dictatorship, the proletariat, having become the ruling class, uses political power in accordance with its class aims in order to favor the advent, in all fields of production, of the real conditions necessary to pass gradually to the socialization and organization of all production. During this long and laborious process, various forms of transition are determined, in which the archaic economic types undergo continuous modifications until they merge into the general type of the great productive enterprise, organized according to the most perfected technical methods, managed by the entire community and in service of universal human needs. But it’s precisely this progressive modification of the archaic economic stratifications that implies their substantial permanence for a more or less long time.
5. In capitalism, agriculture cannot follow at the same pace as the development of industry. Therefore, among the backward economic forms, which cannot be socialized at the moment of the establishment of the proletarian dictatorship, due to the lack of the necessary technical preconditions, as is the case in Italy, where right besides a small industry, the artisan and the merchant companies, we see the great majority of agricultural companies to the forefront.
6. Therefore the C.P., which has become the government Party with the success of the proletarian dictatorship, can and must proceed towards the immediate expropriation and state management – either directly or through cooperative organizations – of the large agrarian farms of the capitalist type, which are already conducted on the basis of joint work, specialized and equipped with advanced technical equipment; but it must absolutely avoid the absurd and anti‑Marxist attempt to socialize the small farms, mostly family‑run, in which the means of production (land, tools, inventory, etc.) are not separated from work.
7. The immediate step which the dictatorship of the proletariat can and must take towards the introduction of socialism in the countryside as well, is the suppression of land rent not accompanied by work. Therefore the power of the proletariat immediately abolishes all the rights and privileges of the present non‑working landowners, whether they be private or public persons, banks or institutions of any kind, and transfers without any form of compensation the possession and free use of the corresponding land to those who cultivate it today or who will be able to cultivate it personally in the future, exempting them from all obligations towards the former owners for rents, censuses, debts, etc., and in place of these obligations and of the right to the land. In place of these obligations and of the old land tax, the peasants who have thus come into possession of the land will be obliged to hand over a certain percentage of their produce to the proletarian government in order to defend themselves against the inevitable counter-revolutionary attempts of the dispossessed former landowners and to meet the other needs of the proletarian state.
8. The lands thus expropriated, as well as industrial plants and facilities, means of transport and communication, bank capital and any other means of production, are the common property of all the working people of Italy. The proletarian power hands them over to the local peasant councils, which assign them to the various families of peasants, following the general rules established by the proletarian power and aimed primarily at ensuring the continuity and increase of production and possibly leaving the land in the possession of the current farmers.
9. If the local farmers’ councils
consider it opportune, and if their proposal is approved by the upper
technical and economic councils, which will not always submit their
acceptance to the consideration of what will ensure the best and
greatest productivity, even the large estates which are territorially
united and worked by wage earners (i.e. in the economy) can be
subjected to this individual assignment, where, however, the
exploitation of the land is currently carried out with backwards
cultivation techniques, and in the face of that the parceling out of
the land in small individual bourgeois companies would represent
technical progress and would ensure an increase in productivity. It
would also be admissible to detach from the socialized farms those
parts which would be necessary to complete the remaining land
allocation made to the peasants in an equal way, as long as this
detachment does not damage the productive capacity of the farms
The large socialized farms, after having provided for their own needs, and insofar as it is technically possible, must put their machinery, tools, stocks, livestock, technical personnel, etc., at the disposal of the local farmers.
Existing collective farms and other collectivized forms will keep being subjected to technical needs.
II. The C.P. and the Peasants in the Phase of the Struggle for the Conquest of Power
10. The transfer of useful land ownership to the peasants in the ways indicated above is to be considered as the completion of the bourgeois revolution against the conspicuous remnants of the pre‑bourgeois and semi‑feudal order still in force in agrarian relations in large parts of Italy, especially in southern Italy and in the islands; at the same time as it completes the bourgeois revolution, it will also be the first start to the socialist revolution in the countryside as well. The revolution of the peasants, through the abolition of land rent separated from work, is presented throughout the world, and particularly in Italy, as an inescapable necessity, especially after the disaster caused by the war, as the only means to curb and mitigate the rise in the cost of living. In fact, while in the current regime i.e. the predominance of monopoly financial capitalism, most of the wealth derived from the land goes ends up, as land rent, in the pockets of a few tens of thousands of absent landlords and idlers, and from them, is either dissipated in wasteful spending, or deposited in banks and then absorbed by large monopolistic industrial enterprises and armaments of the imperialist state of capitalism. When, on the other hand, the land passes into the free possession of those who personally cultivate it, the part of the produce now confiscated from the worker in the form of a seigniorial rent would stay in the possession of the worker himself, who would use it to improve his living conditions, and naturally also to increase the productivity of the soil, the fruits of which he would now not have to share with anyone except for the part owned to the State. The fact that in Italy the subjective conditions for the peasant revolution exist in a more or less conscious state is proved by how they show their impatience with their own conditions, and which is manifested in the massive wave of emigration that followed the armistice and favored by the bourgeois governments as a safety valve against the discontent of the peasants, despite the obvious need for work towards "economic reconstruction". The intensity of this discontent on the part of the great mass of poor peasants was demonstrated by the great land occupation movement that took place in the second half of 1920.
11. The aspiration of the Italian peasant to freely possess the land can never be satisfied as long as the economic and political leadership of the country remains in the hands of the magnates of financial and industrial capitalism. They will never admit, out of an instinct of class defense, any impairment of the "sacred" right of the present landowners. Furthermore, the top banking-industrial finance is linked to the great landowners by multiple business ties, and is therefore also directly interested in supporting them against the claims of the peasants. Therefore, only the revolution of the proletariat, by overthrowing the capitalist state, can remove the main obstacle to the claims of the peasants. The league between big capitalists and big landowners opposes at one and the same time the emancipation of the workers from the yoke of the entrepreneur and the emancipation of the peasant from the yoke of the landowner: it is natural and inevitable that the two exploited classes will join forces in their turn.
12. On the other hand, the proletarian revolution would be made very difficult, and in any case delayed, if financial and industrial capitalism in its resistance could continue to find the support of the large landowners who have not been affected by their domination of the countryside. Therefore, the close alliance between the movement of the proletariat and that of the peasantry with the aim of wresting power out of the hands of the capitalists and landowners by suppressing the parliamentary, administrative, judicial, military, police, etc. institutions in which bourgeois rule takes shape, and of transferring it to the direct and exclusive representatives of the workers and peasants, is throughout the world, and particularly in Italy, a precondition for the triumph of both the revolution of the industrial and agricultural proletariat and the revolution of the peasantry. The main efforts of the Communist Party must be directed towards implementing and enforcing this alliance.
13. The Communist Party of Italy must fulfill this
task through an assiduous and organic propaganda of its agrarian
program among the rural masses, and through the conquest or creation
of class organizations of rural workers.
III. How the Agrarian Proletariat is Organized
14. Wage earners working in the fields in Italy can
be divided into three main categories:
(a) laborers and workers who work for wages in the large agricultural or land development enterprises of a capitalist type, in conditions very similar to those of the proletarians in industry;
b) salaried workers, hired for the entire agricultural year and for all the work needed on the land, or for a limited time and for special work, by the non‑working owner or his representative, in estates run on an economic basis according to rational systems of individual cultivation:
(c) salaried auxiliary workers, who throughout the agricultural year or for a limited time, work on land belonging to working owners, or on land cultivated by sharecroppers.
The C.P., in organizing this class, must take into account the different conditions of the various categories, formulating their respective programs of action, and, if necessary, creating separate organizations, but under the direction of a single major local organization, which will lead the common fight against the rural bourgeoisie.
15. Category a) almost forms a whole with the industrial proletariat, with which it shares the final communist aims and the immediate aims of improving working conditions, the methods of struggle and the type of organization. The proletarian dictatorship will remove it from the servitude of agrarian capitalism and transform it into a category of workers of the proletarian state, which with the industrial workers will constitute the ruling class and assume the political and economic management of the state. The proletarian state will give these workers conditions of work, remuneration, welfare and social protection, so that their situation will be superior to that of the small independent peasant, who will thus be more easily induced to become part of this category. Nevertheless, this category will have to be kept in the forefront of the distribution of expropriated lands.
16. The proletarian dictatorship, in order to
increase and improve agrarian production, will try to transform even
the large estates which are run in a primitive and backward way into
model state farms, managed with cutting‑edge
techniques, and to which the fact of administrative unity does not
confer greater productive potential. It therefore uses all possible
ways of persuasion and excitement to induce the employees currently
employed in these estates to accept the transformation into state
farms, or at least to associate with each other to manage them in a
In the latter case the proletarian State will help the cooperative organization of production with all available means: capital, improved tools and machines, seeds, fertilizers, drainage and road works, special technicians, etc.. When, however, the wage‑earners, despite everything, prefer to parcel out the estates, excluding always, of course, those conducted with perfected techniques, the proletarian dictatorship, while warning that in this way the peasants, as a great mass, will not achieve a real improvement in their conditions, will not oppose the sharing of the land of the former master, and of all the related equipment, livestock, working capital, etc.. However, in the interest of production, it will reserve the right to monitor and decide which way the allocated land will be used, revoking, if necessary, the allocation against those whose treatment of the land represents a step back compared to the previous conditions. On the other hand, even for those peasants who will prefer to individually cultivate the land assigned to them, the proletarian State will make every possible facility to increase their productivity.
In the present period of struggle for the conquest of power, the claims of category b) coincide substantially with those of the preceding category, so that they can, if necessary, constitute a single organization.
17. - Category c) cannot be promised the
assignment of the land, which remains with the present owner-workers.
It will, however, be at the forefront
of the assignment
of the lands expropriated from the landlords, thus largely
assimilating itself, in terms of its final program and the conditions
which the dictatorship of the proletariat will create for it, into
Furthermore, the proletarian government will make sure to facilitate in every way the stipulation of free agreements between these proletarians and their respective employers, so that the work performed by the wage‑earners will be transformed into a share in the management and profits of the company. Today demands of this type cannot be directed against the immediate employer, but against the capitalist and agrarian bourgeoisie which exploits both worker-owner and the proletarians in category c). Therefore, any conflicts between small owner-workers or sharecroppers and their employees must be resolved by peaceful negotiations between the respective organizations, using mediation, and in case of irreconcilability, compulsory arbitration by the local central organization. The central organization will also see to it that every agitation of small farmers for improvements in farm or sharecropping agreements, etc., is accompanied by the recognition, on the part of the tenants, sharecroppers, etc., of corresponding improvements to their wage earners; and reciprocally, that all union agitation of the latter is integrated and merged with the agitation of the small farmers for the improvement of farm and sharecropping agreements, etc., and that the latter’s agitation is accompanied by the recognition of corresponding improvements to their wage earners.
IV. Organization of Semi‑Proletarians
18. This category includes those peasants who cultivate a few pieces of land rented or owned by them, but the profits are not enough to cover their workforce and to ensure their livelihood, so they are forced to supplement their income by working even for wages.
19. Except in exceptional cases, of which the
local central trade union organization is the judge, it is not
advisable to form separate organizations of this category. Those who
belong to it will join the organization of wage‑earners, or that of
whether the interests of
one or the other prevails in each individual
V. Organization of Small Farmers
20. This category consists of those peasants who can live off the produce of the land that they themselves, alongside their families, cultivated, without having to supplement their income by working elsewhere for wages, and without regularly employing wage labor themselves.
21. To these small farmers the proletarian dictatorship guarantees the peaceful and free possession of the land they presently cultivate, and in addition the participation in the distribution of the large confiscated properties, within the limits constituted by the possibility of cultivating this additional land with their own and their families’ labor power. Moreover, they will enjoy other considerable advantages which the bourgeois regime could never give them; in the economic field, the cancellation of all forms of debt, the abolition of the land tax, the free use of the living and dead inventory of the great socialized estates, and a whole system of financial facilities and public works, especially the large-scale use of electricity: in the political field, the transfer of public power in the countryside from the lords and State authorities and their servants, to the mass of the peasants organized in Peasant Councils to the exclusion of the bourgeoisie, and the real autonomy of these Councils in the administration of local affairs.
22. As long as the bourgeois regime lasts, the small farmers are divided into two categories, with distinct immediate interests: on the one hand, those who already own the land they cultivate, and on the other, those who simply rent it, farm it, share it, etc. For the latter, the immediate program consists in the creation of a new society. For the latter, the immediate program consists in the improvement of current farming agreements, rent, sharecropping, etc., and in the progressive reduction of the part of the product that is now due in money or in kind to the landowner, until this role has been completely suppressed, that is, the expropriation of the old landowner. The first category, having already free possession of the land, has no direct interest in the above-mentioned claims: however, its members also often need to enlarge their present possession and therefore also aspire to the occupation of the landowners’ land. Moreover, both have common interests in defending themselves against the exploitation exercised by the rural and urban bourgeoisie, in the form of state burdens, heavy loans, monopolistic price increases of industrial products, etc. Since there exists between these two categories such a community of immediate interests, and their interests are differentiated but not conflicting, they can both gather in a single organization, distinct from those of the proletarians and semi‑proletarians, but part, alongside them, of the same central organization of the place, the nucleus of the future Council of Peasants.
23. The typical form of organization of the small
landowners is the cooperative of production, of reclamation, of
purchase and use of machinery, fertilizers, etc., of sale of
VI. Middle Landowning Farmers
24. This category is made up of landowners who cultivate the land directly with their own personal labor and that of their families, but who also normally employ additional paid labor. These middle-class landowners, interested as they are in maintaining the possibility of exploiting the rural proletarians and semi‑proletarians, and in speculating on the rise of agricultural products, and threatened by the expropriation of that part of the land which exceeds the possibility of their personal labor, cannot be ideologically conquered by the proletarian revolution. Therefore the revolutionary trade union movement has no interest in organizing them; on the contrary, it must hinder and fight the organizations which they may have formed and fully support against them the struggles of the wage‑earners which they employ, and after the conquest of power, it will normally exclude them from the Peasants’ Councils.
However, it’s not impossible to obtain the neutrality of
this category, or at least of a part of it. Those who belong to it,
generally, are not capitalists, and therefore have no interest in the preservation
of the capitalist regime as such, and in opposing the socialization
of big industry. The dictatorship of the proletariat, as a
transitional phase, will preserve for them the possession of all that
part of the land which they can cultivate themselves, and in certain
cases even of a part which exceeds this possibility, when this is
required by the interests of production, or when there is a free
agreement between them and the wage‑earners, e.g. on the basis of the
transformation of wages into a share in the product. On the other
hand, the proletarian dictatorship will bring the same advantages to
the medium-sized landowners as to the small ones: abolition of the
land tax, of private debts, censuses, mortgages, emphyteutic rents,
etc.; a general policy of the proletarian State
directed towards favoring agricultural production in a special way
and towards helping the farmers to introduce more profitable
agricultural systems, etc. Therefore, a policy of compromises and
agreements between the revolutionary rural organizations and these
average owner-farmers is possible and even
VII. The Property of the Landlords
25. To those among the landowners, who do
nothing but appropriate a part of the products of the land cultivated
by other settlers, tenant farmers, sharecroppers, etc., the
proletarian dictatorship has nothing to offer. If it is a question of
gentlemen who do not personally work in the
countryside in the slightest, and yet
parasitically earn income from it, as well as of capitalist
speculators who rent vast expanses of land and then sublet them to
the peasants, they will certainly be expropriated in full and without
any form of compensation. If they participate personally in the
cultivation of the land, only that portion of the land which they can
exploit with their own direct labor and that of their families will
be exempted from expropriation, except that the expropriation will be
completed at the first hint of resistance and rebellion.
Therefore, this class will be, in the countryside, the fiercest opponent of the Communist Party, and, in the future, of the proletarian dictatorship. Against it, the struggle of the revolutionary organizations of the peasants will be mainly directed; their first objective will be the disarmament of the lords and their dogs (mobsters, dealers, fascists, white guards, in short, every kind of them); this is guaranteed by the fact that they own arms.
VIII. The Agrarian Section of the C.P.
26. In order to engage in the work of propaganda, agitation and organization among the rural masses, as well as for the formation, connection and activity of communist groups in the existing local and central organizations of workers of the land, the Congress resolves that an Agrarian Section be constituted in the E.C. of the Party, composed of one or more members of the E.C. and other comrades, chosen by the E.C. from among those who have the greatest competence in agrarian and organizational questions.
27. The work of the Agrarian Section will be carried out in continuous contact and collaboration with the Trade Union Committee of the C.P.
28. The Agrarian Section is only an executive body that does nothing but implement, in a practical and local way, the political and organizational directives drawn up by the Executive Committee of the Party, on the basis of the decisions of the National and International Congresses. It can also be set up in a different location from that of the Executive Committee, preferably in Southern Italy.
29. Its main functions will be:
a) to organize, unify and discipline the agitation and propaganda work among the peasants, through the creation of Agrarian Committees for each agricultural region, elected by the local organizations of the Party and directly corresponding with the Section; the sending of propagandists and the distribution of pamphlets and newspapers (It is proposed that two weekly and fortnightly newspapers be founded, one for the agricultural proletarians and the other for the small farmers).
b) To direct and unify the work of communist groups in the already existing rural organizations, turning it towards the conquest of these organizations;
c) to promote the creation of new organizations, making them systematically join the existing class organizations (Feder. of Land Workers and Feder. of Cooperatives), although they are still led by reformist and counter-revolutionary elements, with the aim of preventing a split in the rural working class and increasing the influence of revolutionary elements in the existing organizations, thus facilitating their conquest;
d) to maintain the closest local and national connection between the organizations that follow the tactics of the C. P;
e) to give, subjected to the authorization of the E.C. of the Party, the provisions concerning struggles of a local and regional character, and possibly also for those involving the agricultural working mass of the whole country.