Pacifism and Communism
(from Battaglia Comunista, issue 13 of 1949)
In the tradition of revolutionary Marxists there is a very solid opposition to nationalism and militarism, to all warmongering based on workers’ solidarity with the bourgeois State at war for the famous three fraudulent reasons: defense against the aggressor – liberation of peoples governed by other nations – defense of liberal and democratic civilization.
But a no less solid tradition of Marxist doctrine and struggle is the opposition to pacifism, an idea and program which can hardly be defined, but which, when it is not the hypocritical mask of those preparing the war, presents itself as a foolish illusion, according to which, irrespective of the definition and development of social contrasts and class struggles, one must, from opposite sides of class opinions and alignments, agree on the objective of the “abolition of war” and of “universal peace”.
Socialists have always argued that capitalism inevitably causes wars, both in the historical phase in which the bourgeoisie establishes its dominance by building centralized nation-states, and in the modern imperialist phase in which it turns to the conquest of less developed continents and the various historical States compete for dominance. Whoever wants to abolish war must abolish capitalism, and therefore if there are non-socialist pacifists, we must consider them as enemies, because whether they are in good or bad faith (and the former are worse in all these issues of our movement and behavior) they would induce us to slow down our systematic class-based action and the struggle against capitalism, without reaching the illusory objective of a capitalist period without wars, which isn’t our objective anyway.
To put it briefly: it will be useful, however, to establish that the Marxist analysis of wars between States has never been reduced (see Marx, Engels, Lenin) to simplistic sayings about how there are no substantial repercussions of the course and outcome of wars on the developments and possibilities of revolutionary socialism, and if we refer to the present very modern capitalist phase, a complete analysis does not lead us at all to discard the possibility, after further developments, of a capitalist system organized throughout the world in a unitary complex, be it a superstate or federation, capable of maintaining peace everywhere. This appears more and more today as the ideal of the super-buccaneer groups of capital and their kepties such as Truman, Churchill and smaller janizaries. We do not exclude this eventuality of bourgeois peace, which before 1914 was painted by the various Norman Angels with idyllic colors, but if we admit it we consider it a worse eventuality than that of capitalism, which generates wars in series until its final collapse; we see in it the most counter-revolutionary and anti-proletarian expression, the one, which is not surprising at all for the Marxist theoretical vision, which best concentrates at the service of capitalist oppression, in a world-wide iron police force with a single command and a monopoly on all the means of destruction and offense, the means to suppress any insurrection of the exploited.
Pacifism as a generic renunciation of the use of violent means from State to State, from people to people and from man to man, is just one of the many empty ideologies without historical foundation which Marxism has destroyed. The doctrines of non-resistance to evil, besides being simply false and without historical examples, can only serve to destroy within the working class the preparations for insurrection with the use of force to overthrow the bourgeois regime (which Marxists do not admit could fall in any other way); they are therefore anti-revolutionary doctrines.
Christianity itself, today the main means of putting the oppressed to sleep and of accepting social injustice with its horror of violence, which hypocritically does not forbid priests of all churches from blessing wars and police repressions, as a historical fact was one of struggle, and even Christ himself said he did not come to bring peace but war.
The thesis that war was inevitable in ancient and medieval societies but that once the bourgeois and liberal revolution was established everywhere it would be possible to settle conflicts between States by bloodless means, has always been considered by the founders of Marxism as one of the dirtiest and most foolish apologies for the capitalist system. Karl Marx, who always had to deal with these out-of-touch ideologues of bourgeois civism, did not conceal his infinite annoyance at this nonsense and ended up by wielding his infallible lash over their gibberish; and in breaking up with the false anarchist revolutionism of Bakunin, one of the matters of principle was the fact that anarchists were hanging around with these Swiss and Quakerish circles.
The whole mighty campaign against the social-patriots of 1914, which cannot be recalled and illustrated enough in the hard work to bring the proletarian movement back on the right path, branded them at the same time as renegades, servants of militarism, and as servants of the correlative bourgeois direction of international and Genevan juridical solidarism, in which consisted for Lenin the true capitalist International for the counter-revolution
On the eve of every war the recruitment of militias is done today by more complex means than in past centuries. In Greco-Roman societies free citizens fought and slaves stayed at home. In feudal times the aristocracy had war as its function and completed its armies with volunteers: volunteer and mercenary is the same thing, as he who decides on his own initiative to be a soldier learns military art and seeks a job. The capitalist bourgeoisie introduced war by force; claiming to have given everyone civic freedom, it abolished the freedom not to go and get killed; on the contrary, it wanted people to do it for free or just for the soup. An old melodrama sang in absolutist times: he sold his freedom, he became a soldier. The censor was alarmed by the terrible word freedom and wanted it changed to loyalty. However, the new bourgeois regime considered personal freedom too noble to pay for it, and took it without reward.
The State now has mercenaries, volunteers and conscripted soldiers at its disposal, but war has become such a big thing that all this is still not enough. The effects of war can arouse the discontent of the entire military population, or almost, and in order to curb it, in addition to the various gendarmeries of the external and internal front, an entire propaganda mobilization in favor of war must be carried out, a colossal barking out of lies that the history of the last decades makes us witness in waves, and that has rehabilitated all types of fibtellers who record the lives of peoples, from the tribal witch doctor, to the Roman augur, to the catholic priest, to the parliamentary candidate.
Now, in this preparation for the massacre, in this factory of enthusiasm for the general slaughter, a well-known character is at the head of the whole macabre carnival, the great Idea, the noble Cause of Peace, the white dove reduced to a plucked “segnorina”.
In the junk shop of bourgeois ideology, the traitorous leaders have led the world’s working class to gather everything, and they have led it astray behind all these puppets, handing it over, lost and passive, to the will of its class enemies.
They have given it the word to fight for all the aims of its oppressors, they have made the working class available for the fatherland, for the nation, for democracy, for progress, for civilization, in short, for everything but the socialist revolution. They are capable of making it available for turmoils, insurrections and revolutions, but only when they are the revolutions of others.
When in Russia there were still two revolutions to be had, and as according to the Marxist view it was not possible to make only one, two types of opportunists had to be fought (the same ones beaten by Marx in the European 1848 revolutionary wave): those who wanted to implant a socialist economy in the backwards Tsarist regime and those who wanted to use the workers for a bourgeois revolution, arguing that it was necessary to let the capitalist regime live for a long enough time so it could develop properly. Lenin sculpted the revolutionary position in a very simple sentence: the revolution must serve the proletariat, not the proletariat the revolution. That is to say: we are not here to put the workers’ movement which refers to our party at the service of demands or even revolutions of other classes, but we want to send it to the struggle for the independent and autonomous objectives of our class and of it alone.
The present movement of the so-called communist parties only organizes the workers in order to send them behind all the puppets of the bourgeois regime, in order to burn their energies at the service of every single non-proletarian, non-class aims.
The campaign for democracy and parliamentary and bourgeois liberalism threatened by fascism, the struggle for the shameful words of national resurgence, the new democratic revolution, words a hundred times more senseless than those given by the anti-Bolsheviks in Tsarist times, is now followed by a new and more ignoble phase of world-wide patter: the struggle with the watchword of pacifism.
This is a new and greater chapter in the repudiation and abjuration of Marxist communism. The crusade against the imperialist capitalism of America and of the West would be a proletarian word, but in that case – besides not being possible that it is given by those who have laid down the bridges for disembarkation, then collecting the relative salaries – it would be a word not of peace but of war, class war, in all countries.
The peace campaign and the congresses that invite all non-communist thinkers, not only represent defeatism towards the class approach of the workers’ movement, which worthily crowns all others, not only are they a first-rate service rendered to capitalism in general, but they will lead, like the great democratic crusade carried out in a dirty way from 1941 to 1945, to strengthen the great Atlantic State structures, which will collapse only when the bourgeois system is openly confronted by the shaming of its false flags of Freedom and Peace, in order to crush it openly with the proletarian dictatorship and class warfare.