Revolutionary General Strike or Political Adventure in the Service of Capitalism?
(from Prometeo, issue 6 of 1944)
The war that has been devouring your blood and your exhausted energies for four years, this war whose swift end has been promised and continues to be promised to you, has today reached a dead end, which no military engagement is capable of overcoming. While Italy is using the weapons of threat and terror to rebuild its army and restore the State’s defenses, while Germany is trying to overcome the crisis by raising the specter of Bolshevik danger in the eyes of the bourgeoisie all over the world, on the Italian front the Anglo-Saxon war effort is exhausted in local actions and on the eastern front the Soviet advance has not yet succeeded in provoking the final collapse of German resistance. On both sides of the barricade, a wave of anxiety and pessimism blows through the leaders’ speeches.
In the meantime, workers, each new day exacerbates a situation of misery, of hunger and terror that no economic agitation will ever be able to heal. Suffocated in the first years of the war, the class struggle is rekindled, illuminating the world’s bloody scene with the first flashes of proletarian redemption. Troubled by unprecedented suffering, the working class desperately seeks a way out of the blind alley into which the war and the capitalist regime had thrown it.
It is precisely because they realize the impotence of solving on a military level this crisis of social unrest that is spreading in the city and in the countryside, that the belligerents bet their decisive card on the home front. While the Axis tries to give a new whiplash to the now weakened energies of the workers by promising a new social justice in exchange for the mobilization of the forces of labor in favor of its war, the democratic powers seek compensation for the disappointment of the military initiatives in intensified aerial bombardments of the industrial cities and, through the propaganda of the various coalition parties, throw the proletariat to certain defeat in an unequal struggle so that the terrible machine of war could pass over the torn bodies of the workers, as on a great open road.
That is why, workers, you see today those same parties which, until yesterday, called you to agitations of a purely economic character (as if a crumb snatched from the great booty of your masters could change the shape and color of the tragedy of a conflict which is fed entirely by your flesh), today you see those same parties calling you to a political general strike and to armed insurrection, not so that the war may end, but so that you may become an active weapon of war, not so that the proletariat may finally climb to power and, with the bourgeois regime, kill the very possibility of new conflicts, but so that it may pave the way with its blood to a new form of class domination.
You find yourselves today between the anvil of the fascist war and the hammer of the democratic war. Throwing yourselves into the adventure of armed insurrection with the same carelessness with which the superior officer sends his troops to the slaughter, the democracies are trying to achieve the same goal that fascism expects from your mobilization in the factories and on the battlefields: to exploit you as cannon fodder to fuel with new energies a war that finds no way out, to divert from their historical objectives the social forces that war inevitably unleashes, and to exhaust your energies in fruitless agitations, before you can launch them into the final battle for communist revolution. Enemies on the war fronts, the two bourgeois blocs find themselves united against you, the common enemy of both: fascism raises the axe, the democracies push the proletariat under it and, in order for the maneuver to take place with the appearance of democratic legality, they entrust to socialist and Stalinist opportunism the delicate but essential task of blindfolding you. What does it matter to them what massacre the masses will vote for, if it serves to throw on the scales of war a battle that has been won, to exacerbate national hatreds in the occupied lands and, finally, to execute a massacre on the whole of the working class, from which it will have no time to recover when the hour of the great crisis comes?
The general strike and armed insurrection are not weapons to be trifled with. They are used when the enemy is hit in his vital organs, not when he still has sufficient strength to crush the opponent: they are the final blow, the decisive weapons of the battle for the seizure of power, not the occasional weapons of war and bourgeois war policy.
The struggle of the proletariat is a historical struggle that has its necessary stages in the daily class battles and its ultimate end in the revolutionary assault. Woe to those who exploit this violence for ends that are alien to it (the “national war”, the “anti-German struggle”, the establishment of coalition governments, etc., etc.) and consume it before its hour has come! For too long, workers, you have been pawns in the skillful hands of the enemy: your flesh is sacred.
The proletarian path is very different. It is a question in this decisive hour, against all the political formations that falsely appeal to your interests, of cementing all the workers’ forces around a single objective, which has the name of THE STRUGGLE AGAINST WAR. This struggle is expressed in active and passive resistance to the war, in the deepening of class conflicts, in the strengthening of the workers’ defense against reaction, in the establishment of mass organizations which coordinate the efforts of the proletariat against the most ruthless form of bourgeois domination, and which become, in the course of this battle, the levers of the proletarian revolution. That is why we have launched, against the demagogy of adventurist insurrection of the six parties, the word of the proletarian united front against the war. That is why we denounce today the maneuver of your class enemy, and we point out to you the right path, the only one that the self-styled workers’ parties refuse to point out to you, the path of conscious, methodical and sure preparation of the proletarian revolution.
We will continue to point out this same path to you, alongside and among you, with untiring energy, the day that, despite our efforts to keep it in time on the edge of the abyss, the proletariat lets itself be dragged into a struggle which we consider insane for the ends it serves and for the prospects it offers. Because, workers, our place is wherever the working masses engage in their struggle, in order to restore to them their unmistakable class imprint and to counterpose the chauvinist and warmongering slogans of Stalinist and social-democratic opportunism with the classist and internationalist slogans of the proletarian struggle for power. A class party does not hesitate to assume its responsibilities. We, who are this party, will not desert it.
DOWN WITH WAR!
LONG LIVE THE PROLETARIAN REVOLUTION!
The Internationalist Communist Party