International Communist Party Against Capitalist Wars

The Proletariat and the Second World War

(From Battaglia Comunista, issues 28, 29, 31, 32 / 1947, 2, 5, 11 / 1948)


On September 1, 1939, after a decade of continuous political, economic and social crises, the second imperialist war broke out, from which the world proletariat, in spite of all its efforts, came out pulverized as a revolutionary class and was bound with heavy chains to the cart of imperialism.

The scientific critique of Marxism has highlighted very well the disintegrating degeneration of capitalist society (irremediable contrast between the productive forces and relations of production) characterized, in addition to the continuous struggles of the antagonistic social strata, by the conflicts and the formidable shocks that unbridled capitalist competition for the conquest of markets of sale and exploitation, the whirling motion centralizing the means of production and their elephantine development, have first implemented on a national scale and now, in the era of large super-State blocs, tragically pose on an intercontinental scale. Studying this antithesis, in a truly Marxist way, the prediction of the inevitability of a third world conflict arises if the proletariat does not return to have full awareness of its interests and of the revolutionary task that history has entrusted to it. Only a decisive class action will be able to divert the swirling river of the historical becoming towards an opposite mouth.

No more than two years have passed since the formal cessation of hostilities, and already deep contrasts between the victors allow us to foresee new frightening military shocks. We are already witnessing the ideological mobilization of peoples, and new holy crusades are being waged in the name of a thousand false “democratic” or “socialist” ideals. The working class is once again presented with the possibility of saving itself from a terrible altercation and from capitalism, to the extent that, benefiting from recent historical experiences, it will once again openly take part in the struggle for the construction of its international bodies of struggle and against the rising tide of reaction. If these prospects prove to be fallacious, if the pulverization and drowsiness of the proletariat allow "democratic" or (don’t laugh) "socialist" capitalism to unleash a new conflict, we will witness instead a frightful bleeding of the working classes and a more ferocious oppression raised on the backs of the workers by the ferocity of the bosses. All this has already happened in the 39-45 war. We want now, eight years later, to remind the workers of it.

* * *

In the first months of 1938, in Spain the “resistance” to Falangism was gasping its last breaths. What did the Spanish lesson represent for the proletarians? In 1936 the acute economic crisis that had been plaguing Spain since the First World War and that had become more acute after 1931, led to riots and disorderly revolts by the Iberian workers, instinctively determined to sweep away the capitalist class in a radical way. The social forces of leadership of the proletariat were represented, in addition to the traditional Stalinist and Social Democratic parties, by strong anarchy-syndicalist groups supported by a large trade union organization. Having gained a formal freedom of action, the masses of workers and peasants led by anarchist formations began a chaotic process of collectivization of large and small businesses, public services and agriculture. It was a spontaneous and enthusiastic proceeding, led in a totally inadequate way by adventuristically insurrectionary elements and therefore lacking in solid and clear political views.

The stock exchange was closed and the building sacked, but the whole bureaucratic apparatus was left standing, political power made vacant, the bourgeois organs set aside but not destroyed. A few weeks later, the political parties of the “left” and the “right”, pawns more or less linked to foreign imperialism or without a clear class physiognomy, taking advantage of the lack of a solid revolutionary organization, strangled the newly born and confused workers’ movement, they ensnared the masses in the bed of a war which, having abandoned the (barely delineated) forms and essence of a civil struggle, was being transformed into an imperialist dispute, while the country became the first “testing ground” for the opposing capitalisms to test their forces and their means of warfare. The experience of Spain has clearly proved the impossibility of an anarchist leadership ever leading the proletariat to a complete class victory. In fact, anarchism is the result of the instinctive revolt of the social body caused by the brutally material hardships that create intolerance and blind violence against any obstacle. In the anarchist insurrection predominates a rudimentary form of negative consciousness tending simply to destroy without choice of means, proceeding against everything and everyone, not considering their possibilities, not sparing blows to what could perhaps benefit, leaving what should be radically destroyed. Thus in Spain the anarchists did not direct the proletariat in the slightest towards the conquest of political power and the destruction of the apparatus of bourgeois repression, contenting themselves with dismantling the most conspicuous superstructures and proceeding chaotically to collectivization. The “most radical” deniers of the State actually proved to be its most strenuous and naive defenders, disregarding and neglecting it first, then assisting in its strengthening, through... “libertarian ministers”. This attitude allowed the social-democrat and Stalinist leftists to gain power, to hinder or stifle any return to the real class struggle by neglecting or taking an unfavorable position towards the collectivist attempts in progress. Those who study the economic legislation enacted by the republican government during the civil war, will note with amazement the complete absence of any radical social measure in favor of the working classes, a deficiency to which was added the open sabotage from the old State bureaucracy, the master as never before.

The Spanish “communists” gave their conditional support to this typically bourgeois government. Fernandez, secretary of the Communist Party of Spain, expressed himself on the program that he would have defended: “The anti-fascist democratic bloc will have to gather around it all the sincere republicans of every religious and political faith (...) We communists are decidedly opposed to collectivizations because we sincerely believe that private industrial property must have the possibility of new developments. The problem of socialism is not yet posed, but rather the victory of democracy”. The Iberian workers were not fighting for their own interests; for socialism, because bourgeois democracy and the regime of private property and exploitation had to be saved.

Nor could it be otherwise. As early as 35 the Seventh Congress of the International had launched the word of the indiscriminate anti-fascist bloc. The first harsh experiences were reserved for Spain. The union with the bourgeois, social-democratic and even catholic strata transformed in a few days the class struggle into an international clash, and because of this the proletariat found itself powerless to oppose fascism. Tragic in those years was the lack of a revolutionary party, hundreds of thousands of workers fell in a war that was not theirs, deluded, betrayed even when all resistance proved useless and the people were reluctant to continue the sterile struggle; sacrificed and pushed to fight by force by the Stalinists (Madrid 1938) because the Russian State was still for the anti-fascist bloc, even if devoid of sense and hope.

* * *

The Russian-German pact burst suddenly on the international political horizon. In France, in Poland, in England, the Social Democrats persevered in their chauvinist and warmongering Union Sacrée position with capitalism for the salvation of the Fatherland. Old Blum continued to preach and bless the anti-totalitarian crusade, Laborism supported the conservative government, while Polish Socialism tied itself closely to the reactionary regime of the “colonels”. And the Stalinist parties? The USSR’s abrupt and cynical change of front imposed on them a “flip”, a tactic of the most surprising kind. The anti-fascist bloc and the war against fascism were now the question of the day. In Poland the “communist” proletariat did not oppose the German-Russian advance, in France the situation for Stalinism was the most critical. Its entire nationalist campaign, tending to get closer to the radical and warmongering right, collapses like a house of cards, the party is forced to live in semi-legality, and the illogicality, the lack of clarity, the counterrevolutionary character of its political line cause not only the mass resignation of many militants, but also the complete disorientation of the working class that, unguided, confused, does not oppose in the least the unleashing of the war. Thus, on the one hand the fascist regimes and on the other hand the democratic bourgeoisie and the workers’ parties played the same role of gravediggers of the proletariat, which was supinely led to the slaughter.

* * *

Maurice Thorez on November 21, 1938 at a meeting of the Central Committee of the PCF said: “The dictators of Rome and Berlin want to isolate our fatherland to destroy it. Those who cry “rather revolution than war... or general strike and not general mobilization” are completely outside Marxism. In the present conditions of Hitler’s threat these phrases represent a crime against the working class.... With what impudence are armed the trotskist spies who claim to echo Liebknecht’s slogan ‘the enemy is in our country’! We must denounce as direct support for fascism the slanders against the Soviet Union and the trotskist lie that all imperialisms are equivalent, thus putting the fascist dictatorship and the peace-loving Western democracies on the same level”.

The nationalist Thorez and the PCF had in the following months taken positions more and more decisive even echoing the concepts of Union Sacrée and the old fin de siècle révanche.

Suddenly all this ideological paraphernalia fell to pieces. The PCF discovered (at last) that the war was nothing but an imperialistic struggle and launched its anathemas against the “western democracies”. Thorez’s 1939 issue actually denied all his previous statements, thus covering himself with ridicule and shame. And he was led to formally act on a level very close to that of the... “trotskist spies”.

The Daladier government, to which the hopes of Stalinism had often gone, responded with the most ferocious repression. A few months later, the French proletariat, tired of the continuous betrayals perpetrated against it by the “workers’” parties, refused to stuggle, and, due to the lack of a strong revolutionary leadership, acquiesced in a disconcerting passivity or gave life to spontaneous and unconnected revolts. France was easily occupied by German divisions.

The French example showed once again that if the proletariat refuses to fight for its “Fatherland” the bourgeoisie collapses without offering any resistance to external blows.... The great industrialists, the landowners, the generals, “custodians of military honor” of the Third Republic, faced with the passive resistance of the working class, struggled helplessly: the socialist warmonger Blum later declared: “There were horrible moments. There were many strikers. The strikes extended from one locality to another...” Nor is this enough. Soldiers no longer wanted to sacrifice themselves and die under often inhumane discipline for interests that were not those of their class. The disordered economic movements did not reach, of course, concrete results, while the bourgeoisie, strengthened by the regime of military dictatorship established in the country, hastened to abolish definitively with a stroke of the pen the few economic concessions wrested from the workers during decades of union struggles. The ephemeral character of the gradual conquests was thus once again proved, as well as the substantially anti-worker role played by the vacuous reformism of all shapes.

If, on the contrary, a revolutionary movement had existed in the country, its action would have been conducted on the terrain of the most decisive and intransigent internal class struggle against the bourgeois government first, and then on the basis of revolutionary defeatism and the destruction of the occupying army. What instead was the attitude of the “leftist” parties after the occupation? The social chauvinist currents continued to blandly and illegally preach the struggle for national defense in union with England, where the Union Sacrée of labor and conservatives celebrated its sabbath after the fall of Chamberlain’s cabinet. At the same time, a strong socialist political tendency was developing in France towards the most extreme pacifism and even collaboration with Nazism. This social-fascism, which was headed by the “Midi Socialiste” considered possible the gradual “struggle” for the economic interests of the working class and for certain structural reforms within the modern totalitarian State. This was the most consequent form of social-reformism whose historical error was essentially that of not having identified itself with the reformist movements of Fascism. And the French Communist Party? In Nazi-occupied Paris, during the first period of the occupation, the PCF was tolerated by the German command, and L’Humanité was sold in the streets of the capital with the tacit consent of the “Kommandantur” at which negotiations were underway for the legalization of the newspaper. Communist editors collaborated with the collaborationist unionist weekly “France au Travail”.

This conditional freedom of Stalinism was due both to the close ties that then united the Soviet Union to the Third Reich, and to the political line of the party, which had abandoned all its anti-Nazi slogans. In essence, the attitude of the L’Humanité in those years was clearly opposed to the Pétain government on the one hand; to De Gaulle, to emigration, and to British imperialism on the other. Very few and generic criticisms of fascist regimes. “Ni Pétain, ni De Gaulle”... but not even revolutionary defeatism against Hitler’s armies, not sabotage of production, not a return to the class struggle. The PCF would often passively witness the first mass deportations of workers to Germany.

It seemed to some that the new “intransigent” attitude of Stalinism was a prelude to a substantial return to the class struggle and to Leninist action. In reality, in order to fully understand the political line of national-communism, one must absolutely not disregard a thorough analysis of the Russian State that inspires the Stalinist parties of the world. It is only by convincing oneself of the non-socialist character of the Soviet Union and of its consequent imperialist position that it will be possible not to feed dangerous illusions and vain hopes. On the other hand, the “tactics” of a party do not present themselves as something empirical, unconnected and inconsistent. In other words, the attitudes of Stalinism in 1940-41 has to be analyzed above all in the light of its entire collaborationist policy, and it was thus easy to judge the slogans that events had imposed bon grè mal gré as delusionally maximalist and anti-worker. In the Netherlands the situation was evolving in the same direction: very strong were also here some socialist currents that defended a petit-bourgeois pacifism of supine acquiescence to oppression. In the Balkans, after the rapid victory of the Axis in Yugoslavia, the communists did not initiate any class action; instead, it was the gangs of the reactionary Mihailović who began the “fight against the invader”, calling the workers together in the name, of course, of the Monarchy and the old autocratic state. Thus throughout Europe, until 1942, on the one hand fascist regimes regimented the masses and ruthlessly led them to the slaughter by subjecting workers and peasants to the most horriblestandard of living through the State unions and corporatism, on the other hand the “democratic” capitalists and their minions of the Second International launched the almost unarmed proletariat against the Nazi armored divisions, while Stalinism cynically sacrificed during its tactical turns tens of thousands of militants.

In the occupied countries, deportations and roundups followed one another uninterruptedly; the proletariat was overwhelmed on all sides. While the reaction raged throughout the world against all the working classes, Leon Trotski was assassinated in Mexico by a Stalinist agent. They wanted to strike in him one of the most representative figures (even if one of the most controversial and questionable) of the conscious vanguard of the proletariat, who, amidst immense difficulties, despite the passivity and hostility of the great masses, were already submitting the terrible experiences of the conflict to the scrutiny of the Marxist criticism.

Thorez and Duclos, the undoubted champions of anti-fascism, spoke from the Nazi radio in Stuttgart to the French workers while their assassins, tacitly backed by world capitalism, murdered “the provocateur” Trotski, a “Nazi spy”.

Murder and lies are the weapons of choice of the exploiters and oppressors.” We are not the writers of those lines – it was the Stalinist Maurice Thorez that wrote them.

* * *

While the European continent, conquered in less than two years by the Nazi armies, was being framed in the productive organization of the German “living space” and the confused and oppressed proletariat was struggling wearily, in England and in the USA the workers’ movement, faced with the stark reality of a new imperialist war, did not find the strength to oppose its reactionary governments, while its official parties adhered "toto corde" to the “democratic war against totalitarianism”.

None of this could be surprising.

In fact, in England, after Chartism, a revolutionary phenomenon of a small proletariat (and therefore not yet aware of its interests and of the profoundly renewing task that historical necessity assigned to it), no revolutionary organizations arose or at least took on considerable importance. Indeed, the typically bourgeois-democratic reformist Labourism is firmly rooted in the social soil of the British nation, while the miniscule Communist Party has never represented, not even in the golden age of the 3rd International, a real force.

Great Britain belongs to that small circle of States which, thanks to their economic power, constitute the gigantic pillars of imperialism to which the small nations with little developed industrial potential are strictly subject, ruthlessly pushed by historical process to the rank of exploitation lands of colonial countries. The gigantic wealth of the great imperialist countries (obtained by means of monopolies and colonialism) allows the capitalists to give a few crumbs to the less revolutionary strata of the working class, thus creating privileged categories which become divided and differentiated from the great mass of the proletariat.

This split reinforces opportunism, provokes a stagnation of the workers’ movement, allows the consolidation of the bourgeois State, drags large strata of the exploited class towards a united front which sanctions the mercenary policy of its own bourgeoisie, thus loosening the bonds of international solidarity which bind the proletarians of all countries. Especially in periods of economic prosperity, the class chooses as its leaders the agents and political organizations linked to imperialist capitalism. In England, this is the case of the “Labour Party” which, on the eve of the past conflict, moved to leftist words, having in Harold Laski its greatest exponent. Nationalization of banks, insurance companies, construction, a few iron and steel industries, control and State intervention in foreign trade and in part of internal trade; this was the economic program of “progressive socialism”.

Unity (indiscriminate) of the working class with the intellectual petty-bourgeois strata and, of course, with certain currents of the bourgeoisie; political action that takes into account the imperial tradition of Great Britain, such are the political guidelines of the march advocated by Laski and followed by numerous currents of English social democracy. Control and planning, unity of vast strata of the population on a common plan of action, consequent increase of State intervention; all this is labeled as “socialist” action, but such, we might add, is the social program of almost all the multiform political currents in the present critical phase of capitalism. It could not be otherwise: the recent development of capitalism, having reached the “intermediate” stage of the private monopoly, due to the internal necessities of preservation of bourgeois society, is moving all over the world in great steps towards the complete Statization of the means of production. This process of searching for more modern forms of reaction brought class contrasts to the point of paroxysm, imposing on the parties that did not set as their objective the overthrow of the capitalist social system, political goals that were essentially identical in all countries, while the means of material and ideological coercion used to reach these goals could vary according to the evolution of the situation and the relations of force between the classes in each country.

In America, in England, in Germany, and in Russia itself, the bourgeois economists, by enunciating during the past war aims and programs for the future, showed in the opposite camps a truly moving identity of views united with a will (worthy of a better cause) to harness the working masses by reining them into the meshes of the new super-State complexes that would arise after the conflict. Even in the field of propaganda, the bourgeoisie, under the pressure of historical development, has created new colorful labels used indifferently by fascists and Stalinists, democrats and reactionaries: slogans about full individual freedom are progressively thrown overboard and replaced by new formulas of the State which, being “the maximum expression of the people", interpreted their interests and desires (as it likes). Free initiative is undermined and nationalisation is discussed. The principle of nationality and the national State, which philosophers and poets had surrounded with a halo of mysticism and metaphysical ethics, was replaced by the “theories” of the great continental blocs (Europeanism, Germanism, Americanism), driven by unavoidable political necessities.

The binomial “duty and work” is proclaimed to the four winds and the word “socialism” (only the word... of course) is written in large letters on the flags of the opposing imperialisms.

* * *

The trust placed in the above-mentioned miraculous recipes and formulas and in the traditional political organizations also led the English proletariat to an appalling war accepted with often unlimited enthusiasm.

After the first reverses in Poland, Labour decidedly rallied around the conservative government, placing itself in the workshops and fields at the head of the proletariat, creating in it an unprecedented war psychosis. Nor was this enough. At the time of the German invasion in the West, when unprecedented economic and blood sacrifices were required of the working class, the great financial capital of London was forced to invoke “socialist” help. Attlee and Greenwood entered the Ministry of the Union Sacrée without directing key departments or making their collaboration conditional on requests for structural reforms in the industrial and agricultural fields. A truce that extended even to the economic unrest was accepted by English “socialism”. In fact, it was the Labour ministers who were the fiercest opponents of the mining and industrial strikes that took place in the country during the conflict. During the war, no political differences separated the conservatives from their left-wing colleagues, while identifying the proletariat and the whole German people with Nazism, the government and the socialist stooges proclaimed the necessity of the dismemberment of Germany, the destruction of its industrial complexes, its maritime installations, unintentionally revealing the imperialist aims of the second world conflagration. Hundreds of workers and revolutionary organizers were thrown into concentration camps by Her Majesty’s government, while British financial capital, despite the harsh blows inflicted by fascism, consolidated its positions of privilege towards the working class with the valuable help of the Trade Unions, whose leaders proved to be the most energetic saboteurs of the strikes, playing a role that completely favorable to the bosses.

On the other hand, the factory committees that arose during the conflict throughout the country, with rare exceptions, slavishly followed the collaborationist policy of national unity. All this while prices reached extremely high levels and the food crisis and the external attack subjected the class to unprecedented sacrifices. More than a million dead and wounded due to hardship and air raids, millions of homeless, entire towns and working-class neighborhoods destroyed. Such were the sacrifices endured by British workers during a war that was not theirs....

In the United States of America, after the re-election of FDR to the presidency of the Republic in 1940 and the new impetus given to the New Deal, the warlike policy of the financial circles had the complete support of the traditional American trade unions, with the exception of the splinter current of J. Lewis, which gave life to the “New Deal” during the conflict. Lewis, who during the conflict gave life to large mining strikes against government prohibitions made in the name of national unity and the “defense of civilization” while maintaining the struggle on an exclusively reformist ground and reconciling himself with the government: Lewis was, in essence, the valve left open to the boiling of the working class. As for the Communist Party, which today hurls thunderbolts at American imperialism, it was dissolved to take on the peaceful appearance of a cultural association and collaborate in agreement to the end with the Wall Street government, liquidating the timid resistance of some nostalgics.

* * *

On June 20, 1941 the Nazi armies crossed the eastern border from the far north of Finland to the Black Sea, beginning the war against Russia.

After the German-Russian pact (Moscow 1939: Ribbentrop-Molotov) the relations between the two powers had remained friendly despite the slow march westward of Stalin’s armies (occupation of Latvia, Estonia, Lithuania, strategic Finnish regions, Bessarabia and Romanian Bukovina) and the Third Reich had received from the USSR, according to the stipulated trade treaty, large quantities of goods needed for its economy, which was harshly engaged in the war. But the interests of the two gigantic State monsters, despite the deep collusion, could not stay out of conflict with each other in the long run.

For Russian state capitalism the oil fields of Romania, the mines of Petsamo, the products and the Bulgarian naval bases, were all of vital importance, as a springboard for the march towards the West. The iron logic of history often takes on a character of tragic irony. The feudal-bourgeois empire of the Tsars, during the First World War, fought for the same objectives, for the same conquests, which 25 years later were to be the goal of a “socialist” regime that boasts of being the direct heir of a revolution (this one, truly socialist and proletarian) established in clear antithesis to the mercenary policy of all nations.

Even Germany didn’t make a secret of its imperialistic aims towards the Baltics and the Black Sea, having Hitler himself explicitly declared in Mein Kampf that the Ukrainian deposits and soil represented vital necessities for the industries and the German super-population.

Diplomatic precedents shed clear light on the nature of the German-Russian conflict. During Molotov’s last trip to Berlin, it was clear that Russia was ready to cooperate very closely with the Axis powers, and especially with Germany, if some of its basic demands were met.

Molotov declared: “Russia feels threatened by Finland again. We are determined not to tolerate this. Moreover, is Germany willing to allow Russia to send Soviet troops to Bulgaria and Romania, with the explicit guarantee that these forces will not dethrone the king and will not change the internal regime of the country? Russia needs to occupy important bases in the Dardanelles and on the Bosporus. Does Germany agree?

The Nazi brigand certainly could not “agree” in the face of such massive demands. Molotov’s sentences prove the nature of the war unleashed in the East. The USSR, as its foreign minister explicitly declared, would not have changed the States and governments of the occupied nations... Its march was revolutionary, but imperialist.

If an agreement had been possible, we would have seen international Stalinism accentuate its campaign of disintegration and betrayal among the working class in favor of the Axis and the Tripartite pact! On the level of imperialist conflicts came the war coercion. War, this crude necessity of bourgeois society, devoured other countries and other peoples.

* * *

The extraordinarily rapid development of Soviet industry during the five-year plans had proletarianized much of the population at a dizzying pace. On the eve of 1939 the working class in the USSR numbered about 30 million industrial workers, to which were to be added the great agricultural masses of the collective farms. What were the living conditions of this immense army of workers? The differentiation of wages was terrifying at the beginning of the second imperialist war. The salary of an unskilled worker was 20 to 23 times lower than that of the managers of the industries, of the highest-ranking technicians of the bureaucratic, State, military and party hierarchies. Nor did the profound differences in salaries end during the conflict. Instead, the opposite happened.

This state of affairs was officially sanctioned by Stalin himself, who in 1938 stated: “The secret of the efficiency of industries lies in a gap in rewards. Wages must be paid according to the work done and not according to the needs of the worker”. And again, “Equality of remuneration is presented as an index of bourgeois reactionarism and capitalist degeneration”.

It is therefore not strange that Professor Mitin of the Academy of Sciences in Moscow summarizes the Stalinist “theories” in the formula “socialism is inequality”. Moreover, the truly scientific exploitation of labor by means of Stakhanovism, economic sanctions, progressive piecework, demonstrated the real relations of force between the social strata which, after 1925, had been developing in that country.

It was natural that the war propaganda of the press, radio, and the party reflected the evolution of existing social relations in Russia.

The ideological motives of the conflict echoed, along the lines of bourgeois ideologies, the concepts of “defense of the Fatherland”, “of the holy Russian land”. “The great glorious traditions” of the Tsars, of the generals, were propounded as ideological opium to the working masses. The “imperial past of the Fatherland” was exalted to increase the nationalist spirit of the people. The German proletarians, who were also victims of the war, were placed on the same level with the great industrialists, bankers and Nazi politicians. It is therefore not surprising that the greatest Russian writer Ilya Ehrenburg launched in those years the terrible watchword: “Kill every German without scruple... there are no good Germans except those already killed.”

And Pravda followed suit: “Kill without mercy to make the last representative of this cursed people disappear from the earth”. The fight against the invader was then presented as a race war, thus trying to awaken the deepest and most savage feelings of hatred. These were the ideological battle flags of the “socialist State”!

Recently, attempts have been made to justify such propaganda formulas in various ways. Vain justification... During the revolution and in the heroic years of the civil war, the workers and peasants of Russia needed only revolutionary and internationalist slogans to fight against all capitalist States and internal enemies. All this, after a war lost because of the unwillingness to fight. Pravda in 1917 was not pleased with the massacre of German proletarians in uniform, but exhorted the Russian proletarians: “Peasants and worker-soldiers, enough with the war, fraternize with your German comrades above the borders against all the bourgeoisies”.

But a lot of water had passed under the bridges of the Neva since the heroic years of the revolution: the sailors of Kronstadt the Red dispersed, the red guards of the workshops dispersed, the old Leninist guard was repressed and dispersed, the International, once a terrible offensive weapon in the hands of the proletariat, was reduced to a macabre and impotent puppet. The substantial abandonment of Marx and Lenin only sanctions a new incontrovertible reality: the degeneration of Stalinist Russia. The Leninist principles could not and should not be used for the struggle of a State that was socialist in name only.

* * *

The war in the East provoked, as was predictable, profound political changes throughout Europe.

In France, the initiative of the “Resistance”, after the defeat of June, was taken by General De Gaulle, who was enthusiastically joined by the Social-Chauvinists. The Gaullist movement was joined by part of the middle classes, officers and the most reactionary and nationalist bourgeois strata. The French proletariat, on the contrary, despite a thousand uncertainties, did not place any hope in the expectation of a self-styled Gaullist liberation, while the correct conviction that only through the struggle against all imperialisms would the vital problems of the workers reach a concrete solution was slowly making its way.

The PCF itself contributed in those months in no small way to the creation of a psychosis against De Gaulle. In reality, the function of Gaullism was undoubtedly one of the shadiest and most mercenary, presenting itself as the parallel of the Pétain-Laval government of the so-called “France Libre”. The reasons that divided De Gaulle from the “Cagoule” (French fascism) did not concern questions of program and method, since the function of the two political forces was essentially the same. Only the evaluations regarding the means to achieve the goal were different. All this was recognized by De Gaulle himself who in London explicitly declared to some of his collaborators: “The national reaction is an excellent thing. What I reproach Pétain for is having relied on German bayonets to achieve it.... That, on the other hand, is the best means to make it fail...” The sentence, absolutely authentic, demonstrates, if there was any need, the reactionary role of the “Resistance” and of the “great democrat”.

Pawn in the hands of Western imperialism, gravedigger of the French people, the “general”, despite all his efforts, had failed to mobilize the working class for the guerrilla war. Stalinism had launched a violent campaign against him since August 1940.

Two days before the German attack on the USSR, L’Humanité in a three-column article vehemently lashed out against De Gaulle: “We hear people say that Vichy is killing Frenchmen for Germany, but what about De Gaulle, the servant De Gaulle, who has led thousands of our brothers to slaughter for Great Britain?” The proletariat by nature distrustful of military elites, did not care about the overseas general. It was the cannon shots that resounded in the East that favored the Gaullist reaction in France, and the military elites in Belgium. Indispensable accomplices were the Stalinists...of course.

* * *

In June 1941 the “internationalist” and “class struggle” political line of the nationalists became apparent as a tactic accepted bureaucratically and without conviction. Forty-eight hours after the German attack on the USSR, French Stalinism launched, out of the blue, new slogans imposed from above which starkly contradicted all the previous statements: “Long live England...” and again: “the French working class will draw strength from the glorious traditions of the Fatherland for the struggle against the German people...” Was not England branded with fire until a few weeks before as a warmongering and imperialist power? Were not the columns of L’Humanité preaching the overcoming of the concept of fatherland? Nor is this enough: “The workers and peasants will achieve the national unity of all anti-fascist forces. The union of De Gaulle and the communists represents a vital necessity for the victory of the Fatherland”.

The gravedigger of the French people, the militarist De Gaulle, was elevated to the top of the shield by the “communists” whose clandestine papers simultaneously blew the horn in honor of “the democratic nations of the West”, of America (“cradle of liberty”), of the most representative men of that country, Roosevelt and Truman, of the systems of social life existing in the USA and in England. Hadn’t the war been classified by the national-communists themselves as a mercenary war between imperialisms? Had not the French bourgeoisie been thoroughly accused of its chauvinism?

Suddenly this ideological weapon also fell apart. In fact, a united front was advocated with all forces while the proletariat was urged by all means to come to the aid of that bourgeoisie once classified as the “most reactionary and backward”.

On June 20, 1941, De Gaulle was still a traitor; two days later, the editors of L’Humanité coined him with the title of “great democrat”.

Only now, three years after the end of the war, does Stalinism launch fireballs against Gaullism and Cagoulle because the two political movements are fighting in the opposite trenches of international imperialism. However, the conscious proletarians of France and the world have not forgotten the enthusiastic and unconditional support given to De Gaulle during the war and after the armistice by the French left.

The immediate consequence of the Stalinist turn of events was the escalation of the guerrilla war to the extreme, while the “country of socialism” (towards which the French bourgeoisie had looked with less and less acute apprehension) was suddenly elevated to the stars even by the Catholic and nationalist forces. A deceptive propaganda orgy descended on France in those years. An unprecedented barricade psychosis was created, people fought for democracy, for the Fatherland and, why the hell not, for “socialism” too. The few rifts that opened in the ranks of the “Resistance” were soon healed, and as soon as the new political alignment was completed, the clandestine struggle reached the height of violence.

On what basis and with what intentions were the actions of the “maquis” carried out? We have briefly touched upon the propaganda motives of Stalinism, and now we would like to point out that in those months even the Gaullist gazettes let themselves be carried away by the enthusiasm and the spirit of the embrasson-nous, bragging about nationalizations and planning, while the venerable Populaire (socialist) loved to rant about the “United States of Europe” founded on a socialism... “profoundly renewed and renewing”!!! The insipidity, the irrationality of such arguments are very evident and contribute to reveal the substantially anti-worker role of the politics of “resistance”. The “maquis” have dragged the French proletariat into the mud of a dispute between bourgeois States, and has managed not only to exploit the same class movements as weapons in the great imperialist slaughter but, by diverting them from their natural terrain and their real objective, has contributed decisively to the consolidation of the capitalist regime. This double function reserved by the Western bourgeoisie to the clandestine forces was carried out with conviction and ardor; thus the betrayal perpetrated by the “extremists” towards the class was twofold. Dozens of strikes, symptoms of the revolutionary vitality of the French working masses, were transformed into vacuous and dull episodes of “the war on the German people” while through perverse propaganda the proletariat was convinced that it had to fight hard not for its most urgent and vital problems but for the triumph of the United Nations. The struggle thus developed on a nationalistic level according to the desires and interests of the bourgeoisie, which saw with satisfaction the polarization of the discontent and class instinct of the workers towards non-revolutionary objectives favorable to it.

Thus it happened in France, Belgium, Holland and Scandinavia.

The role played by Stalinists and social democrats in favor of this reactionary maneuver was of primary importance because the working class trusted them and without them capitalism would not have been able to capture the proletariat.

In Yugoslavia the National-Communists took part in the clandestine struggle immediately after the beginning of the Russian-German conflict. Recently (first Cominform conference) Kardelj stated that only difficulties of practical organization (and not reasons of international political character) prevented the immediate beginning of the partisan war. While wishing to overlook the strange coincidence that the war in the East and the Balkan insurgency began at the same time, we must note that not only in Yugoslavia but (as we have seen) in all countries Stalinism, until June 1941, did not take any offensive action against the Nazi reaction. The fight was bloody, favored by the accidental nature of the terrain, by the proverbial Slavic animosity, and by the lively social ferment that reigned in the country: Tito and his general staff, despite the opposition of some left-wing fractions, succeeded in imposing their political line on the party and on the Liberation Front, even though they were forced by the revolutionary instinct of the masses to use a language that was often intransigent and to promulgate “radical” measures that, however, remained a dead letter and lacked content.

So this was all in Europe. Across the Atlantic, in the USA, national-communism, wishing to prove its loyalty to the United Nations, even went so far as to voluntarily disband its organizations, turning itself into a seraphic cultural association. “To this end we unhesitatingly sacrificed our electoral rights in this campaign, by refraining from putting forward our own candidates; we went to the length of dissolving the Communist Party itself for an indefinite period in the future; we declared our readiness to loyally support the existing system of private enterprise which is accepted by the overwhelming majority of Americans, and to raise no proposals for any fundamental changes which could in any way endanger the national unity; we went out into the trade unions and the masses of the people, straightforwardly and frankly using all our influence to firmly establish this policy of national unity; we helped with all our strength to restrain all impulses toward strike movements among the workers, and to prepare the workers for a continuation of national unity after the war…”.

These are the defenders of the American and international proletariat: the workers should not in any way conquer socialism!!! The bourgeoisie of all countries could quietly, thanks to the Stalinist saboteurs, continue the war and prepare (as in fact happened) the most sinister reaction after the conflict.

Even recently Browder, exponent of national-communism in America, has printed a volume exalting the collaborationist policy between the US and the Soviet Union and class pacification.

If in these months the proletarians of Europe and America feel heavy on their backs the mercenary domination of the US they must remember that the accomplices of Wall Street were those same Stalinists who today timidly promote a... pacifist and... interclass crusade (of course) against American fascism, consolidated all over the world thanks to their precious help!

While in America they were celebrating (under the auspices of national-communism) pacification, class collaboration and “unity in the struggle for civilization”, the same US capitalists supplied Hitler with oil and precious raw materials until 1944 through complacent fascist Spain. Once again the duplicity of imperialism and the true nature of the conflict unleashed only for the profits of big capital was thus proved.

* * *

In July 1943, with a stroke of the pen, the Soviet bureaucracy dissolved the Third International founded by Lenin for the overthrow of capitalism in all countries. An attempt was made to bury under the weight of national unity and of the ”artisan resistance” the revolutionary aspirations of workers all over the world.

In fact, the Comintern, after the first reverses following Lenin’s death, had turned into the International of defeat and betrayals perpetrated against the proletariat (Germany, China, France, Spain). But by decreeing its death, the Stalinist bureaucracy also permanently severed the last formal link that still bound it to October.

The International had died poisoned by opportunism; in Italy, in France, in America the small groups of the Communist Left were already working on its rebirth.

* * *

During the last months of the conflict, when the victory of the democracies could be considered acquired, the new governments of the “Resistance” were formed in the “liberated” countries. To the triumphant bourgeoisie, once the imperialist contrasts were overcome, it was urgent to face with decision the possible revolutionary movements that the serious social crisis allowed to foresee. In 1919 the socialist parties, poisoned by opportunism, through their government action, revealed themselves as the most daring and valuable defenders of the capitalist economic regime and of the state. The experience of the first post-war period, although having a very favorable outcome, suffered, under the pressure of events, improvisations, errors and dissonances. In 1945, on the contrary, the tactics of the bourgeoisie were generalized and completely perfected. At the end of the war, the democratic coalition governments of which Stalinists and social-chauvinists were the magna pars were in full operation. The impetus of the masses was diverted from its natural objectives through an illusory whirlwind of slogans devoid of meaning and content, while the “comrade ministers” in Italy, France, Belgium... through the interior ministries activelyreinforced the armed forces and the police, violently repressing the demonstrations of the proletariat. In the name of “national reconstruction” and “unity” gigantic strikes were boycotted by all means (legal and extra-legal).

The masses, misled by false propaganda, deluded by the crushing electoral victories of the “lefts”, trusting in the poisonous myth of the “socialist State”, allowed the reinforcement of the defensive pillars of capitalism and the partial strengthening of its productive apparatus. In the midst of the conflict, the class had fought on a ground of substantial defense of the bourgeoisie, and at the end of the armistice had continued to work for the economic and political reconstruction of bourgeois society. Fervent apostles of these defeats, which would profoundly affect the historical course of the coming years, were the Thorez and Togliatti, ad oltranza defenders of the “unity of all forces of all religious and political faiths for the rebirth of the Fatherland...”.

Their reformist policy of gradual progress fully corresponded to the real needs of capitalism, which in certain critical periods is forced to use an elastic tactic of conciliation and partial concessions in order to have time to rebuild (through the foolish servants of the Left) its offensive means of coercion.

* * *

War is the most terrible phenomenon, the most frightening blight of bourgeois society; it presents itself as the irreducible enemy of the weak and undecided, as the implacable destroyer of States and empires of long tradition and of parties, workers’ organizations and trade unions. The armed crises of the last thirty years have in fact caused the death of two internationals.

In fact, capitalism generates the war conflict when it sees itself unable to resist the class pressure with the defensive means normally available. It is therefore understandable that one of the objectives of every military dispute is the pulverization of the international and national organizations of struggle of the proletariat or (at least) their perversion for counterrevolutionary purposes.

Only a proletarian political force animated by an unshakable will to fight, guided by a realistic tactical approach connected to a firm intransigence, is in a position to overcome the fearful military storms without failing in its postulates and its revolutionary character. The Bolshevik-Leninist fraction of 1915 gives us the classic example. We cannot say the same of the trotskist Fourth International.

In France, after the Nazi occupation, the first newspaper printed in secret was the organ of the trotskists: La Verité. In the first months of the struggle, until June 1941, trotskism, while abusing illusory slogans (a united front with Stalinism while the collusion of the PCF with the Nazi occupier was already known; the workers’ and peasants’ government, a formula mechanically transplanted from the particular Russian social environment of the early 1900s in a country of great capitalist development and in the midst of military strife) fought decisively against the mass deportations of French workers, leading the economic strikes that broke out continuously in the country. Against the collaborationist and pro-German attitude of Stalinism, La Verité claimed the internationalist and revolutionary character of the proletariat, explaining to the workers their task of class struggle against all imperialisms. But the opportunistic defects of the Fourth International didn’t take long to show themselves. The centrist, confused, indecisive nature of the trotskist political line, if it is detrimental in periods of social stagnation takes on characters of tragic opportunism in critical phases or war conflict. On June 21, 1941 (German attack on the USSR) while there was a profound reversal of Stalinist positions, the Fourth International, starting from an erroneous and superficial analysis of the Russian State, slipped on the slippery slope of defencism and substantial collaboration.

In the face of the new national-communist deviation, the need arose to launch a clarifying message to the working class, working with all means against the bourgeois maneuver aimed at dragging the proletariat into the conflict. The trotskist press, on the other hand, called for the “unconditional defense of the USSR”, replacing revolutionary defeatism with new formulas of support for the workers’ state (even if degenerated) and for the alleged “socialist” (sic!) characteristics of the Russian economy. While in the first months of the war there were numerous exhortations to the proletarians of England and the US to sabotage war production and to strike against the employers, after June 1941 the trotskist propaganda pushed the workers of those countries to intensify production to the extreme possibilities. “Arms for the Red Army!” so urged La Verité, in this case opportunist and defencist.

We do not deny, however, that the propaganda of the Fourth International sometimes diverged profoundly from the warmongering propaganda of L’Humanité. The trotskist papers never called the French proletariat to hate the German people; on the contrary, through dangerous efforts, often paid with great sacrifices, they began a work of fraternization with German soldiers and sailors. We will thus see trotskism gradually take on contradictory attitudes despite the revolutionary honesty of its militants; La Verité exhorts the working class to participate in the bourgeois war while not sparing criticism of all imperialisms; trotskism defends the Russian State with “all means” (including bourgeois) while often emphasizing the need for a revolutionary policy and urging workers to defend their interests and not those of the bourgeoisie. The Fourth International continued to zig-zag for years, undecided whether to fit into the defencist meshes of capitalism or to resume the banner of struggle against it. This vagueness, aggravated by the death of Trotski, turned the Fourth International into the rearguard of an army surrendered at discretion in the face of the enemy.

The danger of turning into the left wing of social democracy and Stalinism looms over trotskism. Only a deep ideological crisis, a renewal of their tactical weapons and a re-evaluation of the organizational methods could save the Fourth International from failure before the tribunal of history: but this would mean breaking up as a consolidated organism and being reborn on a totally different basis. This may be a dream, but it cannot be reality.

* * *

If the degeneration of the Russian State has had a decisive influence on the ideological and political defeat of the proletariat, we must not, however, forget another main factor of the crisis: fascism.

The fascist movement has not only beaten the defensive and offensive political apparatus of the class into the ground over and over again, but it has reflexively often dismantled and always disoriented its ideological hinges. The same communist parties of the Third International were forced since 1922 to suffer the harsh blows of the fascist reaction and proved to be disoriented and indecisive in the interpretative analysis of this new political force and in the search for appropriate tactical means to combat it. In Italy too, strong currents of the party failed to fully understand the role and nature of the fascist movement, and because of the wrong analytical approach, they operated on the tactical level through a policy of united fronts with those same movements that had represented the best environment in which fascism had arisen and developed, and from which it had drawn strength, vigor and support for its rise to power. The non-class approach of the Aventine brought the Communist Party on the same level as the falsely anti-fascist bourgeois political parties that “believed” (?) they could solve the reactionary crisis not by mobilizing the proletariat through strikes and insurrection, but with the intervention of the “Crown”, of the press and of... Parliament. The disastrous outcome of this struggle proved the analysis of the Italian Left right, an analysis that showed how fascism, far from imposing on the class a return to the forms of struggle for “democratic freedoms”, actually represented a historical overcoming of democracy, so that the war against it should take on increasingly revolutionary and intransigent aspects. The Lyon congress of 1926, the exit of the Italian left from the Party, which was autonomously constituted in Pantin, were the results of a long ideological worki during which the most burning problems that the political dynamics presented to the consequent criticism of the Marxists were deeply dissected. The role of the Russian State, Fascism and its relationship with democracy, the crisis of the Third International, the negation of erroneous tactical principles, the critical reaffirmation of organizational schemes, were all problems that the Italian left in France tackled decisively and in part resolved.

The outbreak of World War II, even though it swept away, as was foreseeable, the meagre organizational framework of the fraction, could not prevent its ideological germs, favored by the war crisis, from developing not only in France and Belgium and elsewhere, but also in our country where the situation was precipitating both militarily and socially. In 1942 in fact, the communist left in Italy, even under the weight of the harsh blows inflicted by fascism, began its new political activity amid the continuous persecution of the police and paramilitary.

* * *

There exists in Italy an “official” historiography on the events that led to the fall of Fascism and to the “war of liberation”, a historiography of dubious value, remarkably shallow and superficial, apologetic in its conclusions. In reality, the most conspicuous superstructures of the old State collapsed not because of the activity of a generic “democratic anti-fascism”, but because of the brutal blows it received in the military field, and under the danger of a violent accentuation of class pressure which saw significant premonitions in the strikes that broke out in Northern Italy in March 1943. The Italian bourgeoisie, recklessly venturing into an intercontinental conflict of gigantic proportions, seeing that it had militarily lost, fearful of a vigorous awakening of the class struggle, was forced to abandon the blackshirt, now torn and unserviceable for an extreme attempt at salvation. With the armistice of 1943, thanks to a rapid and “Machiavellian” about-turn, Italian capitalism made a last attempt to safeguard (at least in part) its interests in the field of disputes between bourgeois states, siding with the victors’ bloc in co-belligerence. Nor was this enough. The Italian capitalist and financial circles understood perfectly that only if they were backed and protected by the triumphant imperialisms would they be able to rapidly resist any revolutionary movements, either by force or by polarizing the discontent of the class towards the German occupier and the remaining fascist organizations and promoting a self-described war of liberation, during which it was very easy for them to regain a “democratic” virginity after more than twenty years of union with totalitarianism.

The proletariat, which lacked a politically aware conscience, did not understand the bourgeois maneuver and the intrigue that capitalism was hatching against it, throwing it into the struggle for “liberation”. Workers engaged in the partisan guerrilla war must be considered as the instinctive and confused attempt of the workers to return to the terrain of a consequent class struggle through a manifestation of revolutionary forces tending to crush the bourgeois enemy.

These generous outbursts, dictated also by the precarious living conditions of the class, were not the result of a thorough and realistic analysis of the national and international historical situation, an analysis that was carried out only by scattered revolutionary Marxist groups generally detached from the masses because of the deep political crisis of the Third International and the stagnant reactionary situation that was only then slowly evolving. Partisanism was thus exploited and empowered by the ruling class “offering the workers a plausible reason to forget in the drunkenness of the Union Sacrée the high road to the conquest of power, to fraternize with the class enemy, to pave the way for the reconstruction of a new bourgeois State and for the victory of one imperialism over the other”. Despite its maneuvers and propaganda efforts, capitalism would not have had a chance to save itself and consolidate if it had not received the enthusiastic and unconditional support of the parties of opportunism and betrayal.

In the South, the first communist nuclei that were emerging after July and September, moved, albeit confusedly, on a ground of instinctive intransigence and a thorough fight against the old ruling classes. It was only the arrival of the gurus of Stalinism from Moscow and the bureaucratic reinforcement of the “apparatus” that first compressed and then definitively drowned in the mare magnum of “tactics” the non-conformist grassroots efforts. The great political influence played in that period by the “democratic left” was in accordance with the real interests of the bourgeoisie that could be defended only by those parties in which the proletariat gave full confidence.

National-communism, in fact, imposed to the agricultural masses of the South and to the workers of the North to subordinate all their needs and necessities to the armed struggle, side by side with the American fascism. At the Bari congress of the anti-fascist parties, Stalinists and social democrats promoted the establishment of the CNL throughout Italy, organs of class collaboration with the exponents and the most backward strata of Catholicism, radicalism and decrepit liberalism. We believe it is useless to recall attitudes, slogans, and declarations of the exponents of the “workers’” parties in that period, all informed by the spirit of the embrasson-nuos. “We fight in agreement with the Christian Right, the democratic organization of the Catholic progressive classes and with the glorious forces of liberalism that created Italy” - Togliatti. “There are good monarchists, together with them we can go a long way” - Togliatti. “The government formed in Rome thanks the great American and English democracies for their precious support” - Togliatti.

Immediately after the armistice, the Savoy monarchy, having lost all legitimacy in the eyes of the occupier and of the Italian people, would in no way have had the chance to remain as an institutional form at the top of the State. No bourgeois political organization could have dared to collaborate with it, it was only the collaborationist attitude of the leading spheres of the PCI that safeguarded the Crown for a couple years. “No prejudice of monarchy or republic; our task is one: the unity of the Italians” (L’Unità).

If national-communism, and on its behalf Togliatti, had avoided taking such positions, the institutional question would never have arisen and the monarchy would have automatically collapsed. However, all this did not respond to the strategic aims of capitalism, which, once the conflict was over, was able to channel proletarian passions and consciences into the struggle for the institutional form of the State, gaining precious time for the strengthening of its oppressive means, and enlisting the popular masses in the defense of the new republic (graciously granted) through the colossal electoral mystification of June 2. The promoters of this maneuver were Stalinism and social democracy.

The counterrevolutionary political framework had to be followed by the trade union one. In the current extreme phase of imperialism, trade unions are necessarily pushed into being the defensive apparatus of bourgeois society, as precious and indispensable tools to safeguard the interests of the ruling classes; side by side with the judiciary, the clergy, the police.

The Rome treaty sanctioned the union unity in the name of war and national reconstruction. The trade unions obeyed and still obey these principles. Who doesn’t remember the policy and the union’s demands of increasing production at any cost in the name of the reconstruction of the country? All this gave rise to the traditional parties of the bourgeois right to strengthen themselves in anticipation of resuming the leading role in the State apparatus.

The war mobilization of central-southern Italy was carried out thanks to an unprecedented propaganda, exploiting nationalistic motifs of the most hackneyed Risorgimento rhetoric, proposing to the proletariat a series of Mussolini-esque slogans. “Constituent, industrial and agrarian reform” croaked the megaphones of democratic anti-fascism.... “Social Republic, socialization, defense of the Fatherland...” replied from the North the last macabre puppets in black shirts.... Both were fighting in the name of the same formal principles and for the same substantial objective: to drag the working masses into their war in order to bleed them dry and to bring about the spontaneous movements of class struggle.

The bourgeois game lent itself (do we even need to say it?) even... the terrible champions of... more “uncompromising” revolutionism: the anarchists. The non-historical but vulgarly voluntaristic character of their doctrine, the particular passionate, confused, often illogical forma mentis, the shallowness of their analyses, brought these “rebels”... knights of the ideal, in the ranks of the CNL side by side (o, Bakunin’s thunderbolts!) with priests, Mazzinians and bourgeois. The candid minds of the anarchists were not the least bit touched by the doubt that the war they were fighting was part of the imperialist contests, adhering to the CNL: the “most radical deniers of all forms of government” did not suspect in the least that they were giving their support to the new bodies of the bourgeois State that they “demolish permanently”... in theory, and consolidate in practice by all means, except the confusion of their poor minds in full... intellectual “anarchy” and their practice of abstract denial.

A sad historical nemesis has wanted that the first and last act of the tragedy of war (Spain and Italy) saw the anarchists come to terms (ministers, liberators, CLN) with capitalism, helping to make truly totalitarian defeat of the working class.

* * *

In November 1943, in the aftermath of the tragic days of the armistice, the Italian Communist Left, constituted as a party, launched to the proletariat the slogans of the reconstruction of its traditional bodies of struggle and above all the Revolutionary Party. The war that in its ruins was overwhelming the spirits and consciences of the proletarians, confusing and perverting them, found in the Party its most implacable and determined enemy.

To the imperialist war the party must oppose the firm will to achieve its historical objectives”. The internationalist communists were the only ones to fight the harsh and difficult class battle against fascism turned into “national socialism” and against the six parties of the democratic coalition. In parallel with the struggle against the war, the work of ideological clarification among the working masses proceeded.

The Russian question, the essence and forms of imperialist war, and the nature of mass organizations were all issues debated and publicized by the Party’s underground sheets. Nor could it be otherwise. Every political movement that wants to react in an anti-formist way to opportunism and betrayal, must necessarily submit to a profound revaluation and affirmation the theoretical principles perverted and blunted by reformism, discovering and denouncing at the same time the political and social reasons that determined the abandonment or misunderstanding of the revolutionary cornerstones of the theory. In the years of the First World War, this task was taken up by the Bolshevik fraction of which we still have, a very precious heritage, the writings on monopoly imperialism, The State and Revolution, on the necessity for Marxists to proceed “against the current” that is, against the Union Sacrée and chauvinism. “Advocacy of class collaboration; abandonment of the idea of socialist revolution and revolutionary methods of struggle; adaptation to bourgeois nationalism; losing sight of the fact that the borderlines of nationality and coun- try are historically transient; making a fetish of bourgeois legality; renunciation of the class viewpoint and the class struggle, for fear of repelling the “broad masses of the popu- lation” (meaning the petty bourgeoisie)such, doubtlessly, are the ideological foundations of opportunism (...) The war has clearly proved that at a moment of crisis (and the imperialist era will undoubtedly be one of all kinds of crises) a sizable mass of opportunists, supported and often directly guided by the bourgeoisie (this is of particular importance!), go over to the latter’s camp, betray socialism, damage the workers’ cause, and attempt to ruin it. (...) The opportunists are bourgeois enemies of the proletarian revolution, who in peaceful times carry on their bourgeois work in secret, concealing themselves within the workers’ parties, while in times of crisis they immediately prove to be open allies of the entire united bourgeoisie, from the conservative to the most radical and democratic part of the latter, from the free thinkers, to the religious and clerical sections. Anyone who has failed to understand this truth after the events we have gone through is hopelessly deceiving both himself and the workers”. (Lenin).

These principles led to the victory of October and to the birth of the Third International. Thirty years later, the International Communist Party resumed the same principles in the struggle against the new deviations. Pitilessly and decisively, the underground Prometeo dealt with the Russian question and, on the strength of old and recent experiences, denounced to the Italian working class the failure and the imperialist policy of the Soviet Union, while claiming the formidable historical value of that experience, and making its own the vital teachings of the revolution of 1917: “The Russia that we love and defend on the level of revolutionary achievements is that of the proletariat and the poor peasantry who, under the leadership of Lenin, dared to break the scaffolding of feudalism and capitalism and set up their own class dictatorship, a transitory experience of proletarian power over the State, whose goal should have been the destruction of the same State and class. The Russia we love and defend is the one that has given to its proletariat and to the international proletariat the consciousness of its strength and its revolutionary role, the organic demonstration of the new world of work that has its creative fulcrum in the “Soviet”. This is not the Russia dear to the heart of all international radicalism, but it is the Russia of our anti-bourgeois battle, of our unchanged revolutionary passion” (clandestine Prometeo, no.2).

Our clandestine publications also stressed the need to build a new international, even though they stated that this would certainly not be the result of the will of individuals or of magical virtues, but would arise from the accumulation of new experiences in the most conscious layers of the working class, from the return to the class struggle, from a process of ideological clarification. In contrast to the superficial analyses of Stalinism, the intimate essence of fascism and democracy was also unmasked, pointing out their substantial collusions, and making it clear that fascism, as a historical reality, must be fought en bloc from its social foundations to its political superstructures.

Capitalism, due to its evolution towards totalitarian State forms in the economy, abandons the "democratic" principles of the 19th century on the political field and assumes an increasingly openly fascist content. It is only by fighting bourgeois society in its very economic veins that we will be able to defend ourselves, first of all, against the capital that has given body and soul to fascism, has infused it with all the hatred that the insane fear of the loss of privilege can inspire, and has armed its hand to make it the blind, bestial executor of its revenges...

The Party’s work in the hard years of the underground was not limited to the ideological field. Against barricade adventurism and petit-bourgeois partisanism that drove hundreds of young workers into the mountains, the internationalist communists affirmed the need for the proletariat to fight its battle against the capitalist enemy in the factories. The strikes that punctuated that troubled period of history saw the Party very active in the workshops of Turin, Milan, and northern Italy, leading the movement and reminding the workers that their economic problems could only be radically resolved by pivoting the struggle on the political terrain in antithesis to imperialism and the war for revolution.

The capitalists and the Fascist government, responsible for the conflict, are incapable of solving the nation’s economic crisis, of feeding the workers and their families by still forcing them to manufacture cannons. Workers, only by uniting against the war, against capital, against the exploiters, only by moving your action from the economic to the political field will you succeed in breaking the chains that still imprison you…". These words of order were spread by all means even among the partisan groupings, despite the objective difficulties.

The Party, organizationally slender, was forced to move between a thousand difficulties fighting with courage but with scarce means the two political blocs.

Against fascism, which wants the continuation of the German war, and against the United Front of the six parties, which are for the democratic slaughter, the workers organize themselves in the workplace in a united proletarian front to defend their own interests and for the decisive struggle against the war.” The new watchword categorically refuted the accusations of sectarianism and abstract intransigence hurled by many at the political orientation of the International Communist Party. The internationalist communists were for a united front that did not start from the top, that was not agreed upon by the party executives in the name of war; The internationalist communists were for the united front in the factories, in the workplaces, they were for a vast spontaneous movement which, putting in the background some marginal differences of interpretation, would bring together workers and peasants “of all political currents and without party” against the two bourgeois fronts, against the “theory” of the lesser evil, against barricade adventurism, in order to link economic agitation to class wars. On this basis, the workers should have organized themselves in their workplaces in order to increase and magnify a hundredfold the forces destined to fight on the workers’ barricades against the war. Because of the war propaganda that had intoxicated the workers’ circles, this watchword only obtained scarce results, also because the Party let it fall and did not fight desperately and tenaciously for it, in the name of a rigidly deterministic evaluation of the political moment.

During the days of April, the internationalist communists were hit by the new reaction of the CNL, a reaction that did not break up the Party in the least, but rather strengthened its militants’ will to fight. The end of the war allowed the reunification of the Party with the groups of the left wing Communists and Socialists who, in the south were moving on a substantially identical plan. With the “peace” another period in the history of the workers’ movement began, a period that has not yet ended and that all of us communists live under intensely.

With our articles we wanted to bring to the attention of proletarians the vicissitudes of the workers’ movement during the Second World War. Only three years after the end of the conflict and the danger of war is looming again. The political struggle in Italy is only a reflection of the contention of the Eastern and Western blocs, which will sooner or later lead to a new conflict. However, we are firmly convinced that the class, strengthened by recent historical experiences, will not let itself be deceived again and sheepishly. Today, as four years ago, we communists shout to the workers: “sabotage and desert the war: sabotage and desert it under whatever disguise it may present itself to you”.

Against the popular or national fronts, against the bourgeois fronts of right and left, the workers have only one weapon of struggle: the revolutionary front in the workshops and fields against the war, under the leadership of the class party.