International Communist Party List of English language press

Marking out the Foundations
"Tracciato d’impostazione" appeared in July 1946 as the introductory article in the first edition of our review Prometeo


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Marxism is not a matter of choice between conflicting opinions – How Marxists are connected with a historic tradition – Setting out the dialectical method of Marxism – The contradiction between the productive forces and social forms – Class, class struggle, party – Conformism, reformism, antiformism – Interpretation of the characteristics of the present historic period; dialectical criteria for evaluating past and present institutions and social organizations – Dialectical evaluation of historic forms – Economic example: mercantilism – Social example: the family – Political example: monarchy and republic – Ideological example: Christian religion – The capitalist cycle: revolutionary phase; evolutionary and democratic phase; fascist and imperialist phase – Proletarian strategy during the period of bourgeois revolutions – Socialist tendencies during the democratic-pacifist stage – Proletarian strategy during capitalism’s imperialist and fascist phases. The Russian Revolution; errors and deviations of the Third International; retrogression of the proletarian regime in Russia – The current approach to the problem of proletarian strategy. Definitive historic rejection of any kind of support for liberal-democratic demands. Decisive rejection of the idea of supporting the ’progressive’ forces taking capitalism into its most modern phase, monopolist on the economic plane, and totalitarian and fascist in the political domain.

    This writing, for obvious reasons, doesn’t contain within itself the proof of what it asserts. It sets itself the task of establishing, as clearly as possible, the political tendency of the publication within which it appears. It is a declaration of cardinal principles which aims to prevent confusion and misunderstandings, whether involuntary or intentional.
    Before convincing the reader, it is matter of getting him to understand our basic positions first. Persuasion, propaganda and proselytising come later.
    According to the method we keep to here, opinions do not become established as a result of the deeds of prophets, apostles and thinkers whose brains have given birth to new truths and earned them hordes of followers.
    The process is very different. It is the impersonal work of a social vanguard explaining and clarifying the theoretical positions towards which they are drawn as individuals – well before becoming conscious of them – by the real shared conditions under which they live. The method is therefore anti-scholastic, anti-cultural and anti-enlightenment.
    In the present phase of theoretical confusion – a reflection of the existing practical disorganisation – it is not really surprising if potential adherents are alienated, rather than attracted, by the presentation of our distinctive approach, and nor should we complain about it.
    When presenting their programmes, all political movements stake a claim to historical precedents, and in a certain sense to traditions; whether of the recent or distant past, national or international.
    The movement of which this magazine is the theoretical organ stakes its claim to clearly defined origins, too. However, as opposed to other movements, it does not set out from a revealed word which is attributed to super-human sources; it does not recognise the authority of unchangeable texts, and nor does it recognise that, in order to understand an issue, one needs resort to moral, philosophical, or legal canons since it rejects the notion that these are somehow innate or immanent in the way man thinks and feels.
    It is acceptable to denominate this orientation with the terms Marxism, socialism, communism or the political movement of the working class; the problem is that these terms are abused. In 1917, Lenin thought changing the name of party, going back to the ’Communist’ of the 1848 Manifesto, was a fundamental requirement. Today, the immense abuse of the word ’Communist’, by parties which are way off any revolutionary class line, still creates major confusion. Movements which are open defenders of bourgeois institutions have the nerve to call themselves proletarian parties, and the term ’Marxist’ is used to define the most absurd agglomerations of parties, such as those collected under the banner of Spanish anti-Francoism.
    The historic line to which we are here making reference is the following: the Communist Manifesto of 1848 (also more properly named Manifesto of the Communist Party, without the addition of any country name); the fundamental works of Marx and Engels; the classic restoration of revolutionary Marxism against all opportunist revisionisms which accompanied the revolutionary victory in Russia, 1917, and the fundamental works of Lenin; the founding declarations of the Third International made at the First and Second Congresses; the positions held by the Left at successive Congresses from 1922 onwards.
    This historic line is connected In Italy with the Left current of the Socialist Party during the 1914-1918 war; with the founding of the Communist Party of Italy at Leghorn (Livorno) in January 1921; its Rome Congress in 1922; the activity of its left-wing which predominated in the party until the 1926 Congress, and since then, outside the Party and the Comintern organising abroad instead.
    This line does not coincide with the line of the trotskist movement of the Fourth International. Only very belatedly did Trotski, and even more belatedly Zinoviev, Kamenev, Bukharin and the other Russian groups of the Bolshevik tradition, revolt against the wrong tactics which up to 1924 they had supported; only very belatedly would they recognise that the deviation had reached the stage of corrupting the fundamental political principles of the movement. Today’s trotskists are for the restoration of these principles, but they cling on to the destructive tactic of “manoeuvring”, incorrectly defined as Bolshevik and Leninist.
    Any investigation must be based on a consideration of the entire historical process up to the present and on an objective examination of contemporary social phenomena.
    It is a method which although stated often, has been corrupted often in the course of its application.
    The basis of the investigation must be the material means by which human groupings satisfy their needs, their productive technique, therefore, and in the course of its development the economic relations that arise.
    These factors determine the superstructure of the legal, political and military institutions of the different historical periods and the characteristics of the dominant ideologies.
    This method is aptly defined by the expressions: historical materialism, dialectical materialism, economic determinism, scientific socialism and critical communism.
    The important thing is always to rely on real, factual outcomes: myths and divinities are not required to portray and explain human activity, and neither are principles based on "rights", or natural "morality", such as Justice, Equality, Fraternity and similar empty abstractions. Given the irresistible influence which the dominant ideology exerts, it is most important not to give in to such illusory postulates inadvertently, or without admitting it, especially at those crucial moments when decisive action is required.
    The dialectic method is the only method capable of overcoming, on the one hand, the current contradiction between rigorous continuity and theoretical coherence, and on the other the ability to tackle critically any of the old conclusions which have been established in formal terms.
    Accepting it isn’t like adopting a faith, or becoming a fanatical adherent of a school or party.
    The productive forces, which consist principally of the men assigned to production and the way in which they are grouped together, as well as the tools and mechanical means they are able to utilise, operate within the framework of forms of production.
    By forms we mean the arrangement, the relationships of dependence within which is developed productive and social activity. Such forms include all the established hierarchies (family, military, theocratical, political), the State and all its organisms, the law and the courts which apply the law, and all the rules and dispositions – of an economic and legal character – which are in place to counter any transgression.
    A given type of society survives as long as the productive forces maintain themselves within the framework of its forms of production. At a given moment in history, this equilibrium tends to be broken. For various reasons, amongst which advances in technology, population growth and improved communications, the productive forces expand. These forces come into conflict with the traditional forms, try and break down the barriers, and when successful, you have a revolution: the community organises itself into new economic, social and legal relationships. New forms take the place of old.
    The Marxist dialectical method discovers and applies its solutions, and sees them confirmed, on the level of large-scale collective phenomena using the scientific and experimental method (the very same method, that is, which the thinkers of the bourgeois epoch applied to the natural world, in the course of an ideological struggle which was a reflection of the revolutionary social struggle of their class against the theocratic and absolutist regimes, but which they could not dare to extend into the social domain). From the results it acquires on this collective plane it deduces solutions to the question of individual conduct, whereas all the rival religious, legal, philosophic and economic schools instead proceed in exactly the opposite direction: building, that is, their standards of collective conduct on the inconsistent basis of this myth of the individual, whether portrayed as an individual immortal spirit, a citizen subject to the rule of law, or conceived of as an immutable unit of economic policy, and so on and so forth. Meanwhile, science has gone beyond its various hypotheses about indivisible, material individuals: rather than defining atoms as incorruptible, monad-type units, they define them instead as rich complexes, as meeting points of the radiant dynamics issuing from the external energy field; thus today one can schematically say that the cosmos is not the function of units, but every unit is the function of the cosmos.
    Whoever believes in the individual, and talks of personality, dignity, liberty, and of ones duties as a man and a citizen, is not employing Marxist thinking. People are not set in motion by opinions or beliefs or faiths. It is not any wondrous quality of so-called thought which inspires their will or their actions. What prompts them to act is their needs, which when the same material requirements simultaneously affect entire groups take on the character of interests. They clash with the limitations which the surrounding social structure opposes on the satisfaction of these needs. And they react individually, and collectively, in a way which, on average, is necessarily determined before the play of stimuli and reactions cause sentiments, thoughts and judgements to arise in their brains.
    The phenomenon is obviously of extreme complexity and can, in individual cases, contradict the general law, which nevertheless it is still justifiable to consider as established.
    Be that as it may, whoever maintains that the motor cause of social and historic events is individual consciousness, moral principles, and the opinions and decisions of the individual or citizen, has no right to be called a Marxist.
    The contradiction between productive forces and social forms is manifested as a struggle between classes defending opposed economic interests. In the final stages, this struggle becomes the armed struggle for the conquest of power.
    Class is not seen by Marxism as cold, statistical data, but as an active organic force, and it appears when the mere combination of economic conditions and interests leads on to action and to a common struggle.
    In these situations the movement is driven by groupings and organisations of the vanguard, whose modern and developed form is the class political party. The collectivity, whose action culminates in the action of a party, operates in history with an efficiency and a real dynamic which cannot be obtained on the limited scale of individual action.
    It is the party which arrives at a theoretical consciousness of the development of events, and a consequent influence on how they turn out, in a way determined by the productive forces and by the relations among them.
    In spite of the great difficulty and complexity of the issues, one cannot clarify principles and directives without simplification. With this in mind, we draw attention to three historical types of political movement into which they can all be classified.
    Conformist: movements which fight to preserve the existing forms and institutions, prohibiting all change, and appealing to immutable principles; be they presented in religious, philosophic or legal guises.
    Reformist: though not calling for a sharp and violent overthrow of traditional institutions, these movements realise that the productive forces are exerting strong pressure. They therefore propose gradual and partial changes of the existing order.
    Revolutionary: (here we adopt the provisional term Antiformist); movements which proclaim, and put into practice, the attack on old forms, and which, even before knowing how to theorise about the character of the new regime, tend to crush the old, provoking the irresistible birth of new forms.
    Conformism – Reformism – Antiformism.
    Any schematisation involves the risk of errors. One could ask whether the Marxist dialectic doesn’t also lead to the construction of an artificial and generalised model of historical events, by reducing all development to a succession of class dominations which start off revolutionary, become reformist, and end up conservative. The evocative conclusion to this sequence of events, achieved by the revolutionary victory of the proletariat and with the advent of the classless society (which Marx referred to as, "the end of human pre-history") might seem to be a finalistic construct, and therefore metaphysical like those false philosophies of the past. Hegel was denounced by Marx for reducing his dialectic system to an absolute construction, for falling unconsciously into a metaphysic which he had managed to overcome in the destructive part of his critique (philosophical reflection of the bourgeois revolutionary struggle).
    As a culmination of the classic philosophy of German idealism, and of bourgeois thought, Hegel put forward the absurd thesis that the history of action, and of thought, must finally crystallise into his perfect system, in the conquest of the Absolute. Such a static conclusion is ruled out by the Marxist dialectic.
    Nevertheless, in his classic exposition of scientific socialism, (as contrasted with Utopianism, which believed that social renewal could be accomplished simply by campaigning for the adoption of a projected better society as conceived by a writer or a sect) Engels seems to be allowing that there is a general rule or law of historic movement when he uses expressions like "there is progression forward", "the world progresses”. However, the use of such vigorous slogans for propaganda purposes should not lead one to believe that a recipe has been discovered which encompasses all the infinite possible directions in which human society may develop, that is, a recipe which could just as easily replace the familiar bourgeois abstractions of evolution, civilisation, progress, and the like.
    The marvellous advantage of the dialectic method of investigation is that it is revolutionary in its very essence: it is expressed in the implacable destruction of innumerable theoretical systems which time after time conceal the domination of the privileged classes. For this cemetery of broken idols we need not substitute a new myth, a new sentiment, nor a new credo, but just the realistic expression of a series of relationships which exist between factual conditions and their most foreseeable developments.
    For example, the correct Marxist formulation is not, "one day the proletariat will take political power, destroy the capitalist system and construct the communist economy"; instead it is: “only by its organisation as a class, and therefore in a political party, and by the armed installation of its dictatorship, will the proletariat be able to destroy the power of the capitalist economy and render possible a non-capitalist, non-commercial economy”.
    From the scientific point of view, one cannot exclude capitalism ending in a different way, such as a return to barbarism, a world catastrophe due to weapons of war having for example the character of a pathological degeneration of the human race (those blinded and condemned to a disintegration of their radio-active tissue at Hiroshima and Nagasaki serve as a warning ) or other forms of destruction that cannot be foreseen at present.
    The revolutionary Communist movement of this convulsive period must be characterised not only by its theoretical destruction of every conformism with, and reformism of, the present world, but also by its practical and tactical position: by the fact that it can have no common road with any movement whatsoever, whether conformist or reformist, not even for limited periods in particular sectors.
    It must be based, above all, on the historically acquired and irrevocable knowledge that capitalism has exhausted its initial antiformism, that is to say, it no longer has the historic task of destroying pre-capitalist forms and resisting the threat of their possible restoration.
    This means that we do not deny that, for as long as the powerful forces of capitalist development, which have accelerated the transformation of the world to an unprecedented degree, were acting on such production relations, the proletarian class could, and should, dialectically, condemn it from a doctrinal viewpoint whilst supporting it in practice.
    An essential difference between the metaphysical method and the dialectical method in its application to History lies in this latter point.
    Any given type of political and social institution or organisation is not good or bad in itself; it cannot be accepted or rejected on the basis of an examination of its characteristics according to a set of general principles or rules.
    Every institution, according to the dialectical interpretation of history, has, in successive situations, had a role and influence which is revolutionary to begin with, then progressive, and finally conservative.
    For each problem which arises, it is a matter of putting the productive forces and the social factors in their right context and deducing the meaning of the political conflict which they express.
    It is being metaphysical to declare oneself, on principle, as authoritarian or libertarian, royalist or republican, aristocrat or democrat, and to refer in the arguments to canons outside their historic context. Even Plato, in later life, in the first systematic attempt at political science, went beyond the mystical absolutism of principles, and Aristotle followed him in distinguishing three political types – the power of one, of the few, and of the many – the good forms and the bad: monarchy and tyranny – aristocracy and oligarchy – democracy and demagogy.
    The modern analysis, mainly dating from Marx, goes much further.
    In the present historical phase, nearly every political enunciation and propaganda statement is reliant on the very worst traditional motifs derived from religious, legal, and philosophical superstitions of every kind.
    What has to be opposed to this chaos of ideas – the reflection in the minds of men of the chaos of interest relations in a decaying society – is the dialectical analysis of the actual, real forces in play.
    In order to introduce this analysis, it is necessary to proceed to an analogous evaluation of the well-known relationships which existed in earlier historical epochs.
    Starting with economic forms, it makes no sense to declare general support for an economy which is communist or private, liberal or monopolist, individual or collective, or to judge the merits of each system according to the general well-being: doing so one falls into Utopianism, which is the exact reverse of the Marxist dialectic.
    We know Engels’ classic description of communism as “the negation of the negation”. The first forms of human production were communist, thence arose private property, a system which was much more complex and efficient. From there, human society returns to Communism.
    This modern communism would be unrealisable if primitive communism had not been superseded, conquered and destroyed by the system of private property. The Marxist considers as an advantage, and not as a misfortune, this initial transformation. What we say of communism applies as well to all other economic forms such as slavery, serfdom, manufacturing, industrial and monopolist capitalism, and so on.
    The mercantile economy, in which objects satisfying human needs ceased, at the end of the period of barbarism, to be directly acquired and consumed by the occupying force or the primitive producer, and became objects of exchange, initially through barter, and later by means of a common monetary equivalent; this economy represented a great social revolution.
    It made possible the assignment of different individuals to different types of productive work (division of labour), enlarging and differentiating enormously the character of social life. One can at the same time recognise that there has been a transition, and assert that, following a series of types of economic organisation all based on the common principle of mercantilism (slavery, feudalism, capitalism) the trend, today, is towards a non-mercantile economy. Furthermore, one can state that the thesis which maintains that production is impossible outside the mechanism of the monetary exchange of merchandise is nowadays a principle which is conformist and reactionary.
    The abolition of mercantilism is a viable argument today, and only today, because the development of associated labour and the concentration of productive forces, which capitalism, last of the mercantile economies, has achieved, makes it possible to break down those boundaries within which all use-values circulate as commodities, and within which human work itself is treated as such.
    A century before this stage it would have been sheer folly to criticise the mercantile system based on general arguments of a philosophical, legal or moral nature
    The various types of social aggregations which have succeeded one another have been the means whereby collective life has differentiated itself from primitive, animal individualism: passing through an immense cycle, which has made the relations within which the individual lives and moves increasingly complicated, these forms of society cannot, taken individually, be judged as favourable or unfavourable; they must be considered in relation to historical development, which has given them a changing role within a succession of transformations and revolutions.
    Each of these institutions arises as a revolutionary conquest, develops and reforms in long historic cycles, until finally it becomes a reactionary and conformist obstacle.
    The institution of the family appears as primal social form when, within the human species, the bond between parents and offspring prolongs itself well beyond the period that is physiologically necessary. The first form of authority is born, which the mother, then the father, exerts over their descendants even when the latter are strong and physically mature individuals. We are witnessing a revolution also at this stage, since there appears the first possibility of a collectively organised life, establishing the basis for those further developments which lead ultimately to the first forms of organised society and the State.
    Over the course of vast periods of time social life becomes ever more complex, and the mutual involvement of men, and the authority of one over another, increasingly extends beyond the bounds of kinship and blood. The new, broader, social aggregation contains and disciplines the institution of the family. This occurs in the first cities, States, and aristocratic regimes, and later under the bourgeois regime. All are based on the fetish/institution of inheritance.
    There then appears the necessity of an economy which supersedes the play of individual interests. The institution of the family, far too restricted, becomes an obstacle and a reactionary element in society.
    Without denying its historic role, the modern communist, after observing that the capitalist system has already deformed and dissolved the alleged “sanctity” of the family institution, fights it openly and acts to supplant it.
    The different forms of the State, such as monarchy and republic, alternate in the course of history in a complex manner, and can represent a revolutionary, progressive, or conservative force, depending on the historic situation. Although we may admit in a general sense that the capitalist regime will probably manage, before its collapse, to liquidate any remaining dynastic regimes, still, even on this question, one must not proceed according to absolute criteria situated outside of time and space.
    The first monarchies appeared as the political expression of a division of material tasks: whilst certain elements within the family unit or the primitive tribe took to hunting, fishing, agriculture or the first handicrafts, others were assigned to armed defence, or indeed to the armed plundering of other groups and peoples; and so the first warriors and kings attained the privilege of power at major risk to themselves. Yet there still appeared social forms, of a most developed and complex nature, which would previously have been impossible, and which therefore represented the road toward a revolution in social relationships.
    The institution of monarchy would mean that in later phases the establishment and development of vast national State organisations was made possible which could be directed against the federations of principalities and small nobility. It had an innovatory and reformist function. Dante is the great monarchical reformist of early Modern Times.
    More recently, the monarchy (and indeed the republic) has served in many countries to cloak the stricter forms of class power of the bourgeoisie.
    In the past it has been possible for Republican movements or parties to be revolutionary, reformist, or even markedly conservative.
    If we just refer to a few accessible and simplified examples: the Brutus “who expelled Tarquin” was revolutionary; the Gracchi, who sought to give to the aristocratic republic a content conforming to the interests of the plebeians, were reformists; the traditional republicans, such as Cato and Cicero, who struggled against the grandiose historic evolution represented by the expansion of the Roman Empire, along with its legal and social forms, throughout the ancient world, were reactionary and conformist. However the question is completely falsified when one resorts to platitudes about Caesarism, tyranny, or, at the other extreme, sacred principles of republican liberty and other such rhetorical–literary motifs.
    Among modern examples, it suffices to point out as being respectively antiformist, reformist and conformist, the three French republics of 1793, 1848, and 1871.
    Crises within economic forms are reflected not only in political and social institutions, but also in religious beliefs and philosophical opinions.
    Every legal, religious and philosophical stance must be considered in relation to historic situations and social crises, since each appears, in its turn, under the revolutionary, the reformist, and the conformist banners.
    The movement which bears Christ’s name was once the antiformist and revolutionary movement par excellence.
    To declare that in all men there exists a soul of divine origin which is destined to immortality, irrespective of social position or caste, was tantamount to a revolutionary rebellion against the oppression and slavery of the ancient Orient. As long as the law allowed the human person to be considered as a commodity, to be bought and sold like an animal, with all legal prerogatives of free men and citizens thus becoming the monopoly of only one class, the affirmation that all believers were equal was a call to battle against the implacable resistance of the theocratic organisation of the Jews, and the aristocratic and military hierarchies which existed in the ancient world.
    Long historical phases follow, and after the abolition of slavery, Christianity becomes official religion and pillar of the State.
It goes through its reformist period in Modern Europe, expressing a struggle against the excessive loyalty of the Church to the most privileged and oppressive layers of society.
    Today, there is no ideology more conformist than Christianity, and already at the time of the bourgeois revolution it was the most powerful doctrinal and organisational arm of resistance used by the old regimes.
    Today, the Church’s powerful network and its religious influence, entirely reconciled and harmonised with the Capitalist Regime, is employed as a fundamental bulwark against the danger of proletarian revolution.
    In regard to social relationships today – which, building on old bourgeois conquests, have long since seen each individual turned into an economic enterprise, each theoretically susceptible of assets and liabilities – the superstition which sees each individual enclosed within the circle of a moral reckoning of his acts, with this reckoning projected into the illusion of a life after death, is nothing but the reflection in the brain of man of the present bourgeois society founded on private economy.
    It is impossible to lead a struggle, which aims to break through the framework of an economy based on private enterprise and individual balance sheets, without taking up a position which is openly anti-religious and anti-Christian.
    In the major countries, the modern capitalist bourgeoisie has already gone through three characteristic historical stages.
    The bourgeoisie comes into view as an openly revolutionary class and leads an armed struggle to break the chains of feudal and clerical absolutism, which tie the productive forces of peasants to the land and the artisans to medieval corporations (guilds).
    The requirement of liberation from these chains coincides with the development of the productive forces which, with the resources of modern technology, tends to concentrate the workers into great masses.
In order that these new economic forms may develop freely, the traditional regimes need to be forcibly overthrown.
    The bourgeois class not only leads the insurrectionary struggle, but after its initial victory installs an iron dictatorship to prevent any counter-attack on the part of the monarchies, feudal lords, and ecclesiastical hierarchies.
    The capitalist class appears in history as an antiformist force using its immense repressed energy to destroy all material and ideological obstacles lying in its path. Old beliefs and old canons are overturned by its thinkers in the most radical manner.
    The theories of authority as a divine right are substituted by those of equality and political liberty, of popular sovereignty. The necessity of representative institutions is proclaimed, and thanks to the latter, it is said, power will be the expression of a freely manifested collective will.
    The liberal and democratic principle is clearly revolutionary and antiformist in this phase, all the more so since it is achieved not by pacifist or legal methods but by means of violence and revolutionary terror, and is defended against any attempts at reactionary restorations by the dictatorship of the conquering class.
    In the second phase, after the capitalist regime has become established, the bourgeoisie declares itself the representative of the higher development and welfare of the social collectivity as a whole, and goes through a relatively tranquil phase in which there is a development of the productive forces, integration of the entire inhabited world into its system, and intensification of the economic rhythm as a whole. This is the progressive and reformist phase of the capitalist cycle.
    In this second bourgeois phase, the mechanism of parliamentary democracy runs parallel to the reformist trend. The dominant class is interested in making its system appear susceptible to representing and reflecting the interests and demands of the working class. Its government claims to satisfy them with economic and legislative measures which nevertheless allow the legal norms of the bourgeois system to be maintained. Parliamentarism and democracy no longer feature as revolutionary slogans but rather take on a reformist content, guaranteeing the development of the capitalist system by warding off the violent clashes and explosions of the class struggle.
    The third phase is that of modern imperialism, characterised by the monopolist concentration of the economy, by the formation of capitalist trusts and syndicates, and by large-scale State planning. The bourgeois economy is transformed and loses those characteristics of classic liberalism, in which each business enterprise was autonomous in relation to its economic decisions and relations of exchange. An increasingly strict discipline is imposed on production and distribution. The economic indices of production and distribution no longer the result of the free play of competition but due to the influence of associations of capitalists, then to the concentration brought about by banking and financial organs, and finally directly to the State. Their political State, which in Marxist parlance is the executive committee of the bourgeoisie, guards the latter’s interests as government organ and police protector and asserts itself more and more as the organ of control, and even of administration, of the economy.
    This concentration of economic power in the hands of the State is not to be interpreted as a step from private economy to a collective economy. Indeed, it can only be passed off as such by ignoring the fact that the contemporary State merely expresses the interests of a minority, and that all nationalisation realised within the framework of commodity exchange leads to a capitalist concentration which strengthens, rather than weakens, the capitalist character of the economy. The political development of the parties of the bourgeoisie in this contemporary phase (as Lenin clearly proved in his critique of modern imperialism) lends itself to the most narrow forms of oppression, and this has been manifested by the advent of regimes defined as totalitarian and fascist. These regimes constitute the most modern political type of bourgeois society, as they spread throughout the entire world the process by which this happens will become abundantly clear. A concomitant aspect of this political concentration resides in the absolute predominance of a few great States at the expense of the autonomy of the intermediate and smaller States.
    Since this phase is accompanied by an absolutely astronomical increase in the pace of industry and finance, previously ignored both in terms of quality and quantity in the pre-bourgeois world, the appearance of this third capitalist phase is not to be confused with the return of pre-capitalist institutions and forms. Capitalism thus effectively repudiates the democratic and representative apparatus and establishes centres of government which are absolutely despotic.
It has already theorised and proclaimed the formation of the one, totalitarian party, and hierarchical centralisation in some countries. In other countries it continues to employ democratic slogans which are henceforth without content. Everywhere it is proceeding inexorably in the same direction.
    For a correct evaluation of the contemporary historical process, the correct position is as follows: the period of liberalism and democracy is over, and the democratic demands which were formerly revolutionary, and later on of a progressive and reformist character, are today anachronistic and clearly conformist.
    Corresponding to the cycle of the capitalist world we have the cycle of the proletarian movement.
Right from its inception, the great industrial proletariat starts to construct a critique of the economic, juridical and political formulations of the bourgeoisie. It is discovered, and the discovery is theorised, that the bourgeois class neither liberates nor emancipates humanity, but substitutes its own class domination, and its own system of exploitation, to that of the classes which preceded it.
    Nevertheless, the workers of all countries cannot avoid fighting side by side with the bourgeoisie in order to overthrow feudal institutions. It also cannot avoid falling under the influence of reactionary socialism, which, brandishing the spectre of a new, merciless capitalist master, calls upon the workers to ally themselves with the leading monarchical and agrarian classes.
    Even in the struggles led by the young capitalist regimes to prevent reactionary restorations, the proletariat cannot refuse support to the bourgeoisie.
    The first outline of a class strategy by the nascent proletariat involves the prospect of realizing anti-bourgeois movements under the impetus of the very insurrectional struggle it is fighting alongside the bourgeoisie, arriving immediately at a simultaneous liberation from feudal oppression and capitalist exploitation.
    An embryonic manifestation of this is to be found during the great French Revolution with Babeuf’s "Conspiracy of the Equals". In a theoretical sense the movement is completely immature, but the implacable repression which the victorious bourgeoisie brings down on the very workers who had fought alongside them, and for their interests, remains a significant historic lesson.
    On the eve of the bourgeois and national revolutionary wave of 1848, the theory of the class struggle is already completely elaborated: the true relations existing between bourgeois and proletarians, on the European and world scale, have by this time become very clear.
    In the Communist Manifesto, Marx projects at the same time an alliance with the bourgeoisie against the parties of monarchical restoration in France and against Prussian conservatism, and an immediate move towards a revolution which aims for a conquest of power on the part of the working class. In this historical phase any attempt at workers’ revolt is still mercilessly repressed, but the doctrine and strategy of the class corresponding to this phase confirms itself as on the historic road of the Marxist method.
    The same circumstances and same evaluations are associated with the Paris Commune; that great bid for power, in which the French proletariat, after having overthrown Napoleon III and assured the victory of the Bourgeois Republic, attempted to conquer power again, giving us, even if only for a few months, the first historic example of class government.
    What is most significant and suggestive in this episode is the unconditional anti-proletarian alliance of the democratic bourgeoisie with the conservatives, and even with the victorious Prussian Army, in order to crush the first attempt at the dictatorship of the proletariat.
    In the second phase, in which reformism within the framework of the bourgeois economy is associated with the widest use of representative and parliamentary systems, the proletariat is confronted with alternatives of epoch-making significance.
    On the theoretical side, a question of interpretation arises as regards the revolutionary doctrine, considered, that is, as a critique of bourgeois institutions and the ideologies which defend it: the collapse of capitalist domination and the substitution of a new economic order, will it come about by means of a violent conflict, or can it be achieved with gradual changes and using the legalitarian mechanism of parliament?
    On the practical side, the question is no longer whether the party of the working class should join with the bourgeoisie against the forces of pre-capitalist regimes, by now disappeared, but whether it should ally itself with an advanced and progressive section of the bourgeoisie which is better disposed to reform capitalism.
    The idyllic, intermediate phase of capitalism (1871-1914) witnesses the growth of the revisionist currents of Marxism. The Marxist approach is distorted and the fundamental texts falsified. A new strategy is established, according to which vast economic and political organisations of the working class penetrate and conquer the political institutions by using legal means, preparing for a gradual transformation of the entire capitalist economic machine.
    The polemics which characterise this phase split the proletarian movement into opposing tendencies. Although in general the programme of insurrectionary assault to break the bourgeois power is not posed, the left Marxists vigorously resist the excesses of the collaborationist tactic on the trade-union and Parliamentary plane, and the intent of supporting bourgeois governments and having socialist parties participate in ministerial coalitions.
    At this point the acute crisis in the world socialist movement begins. The cause of it is the outbreak of the 1914 war and the passing of the greater part of the trade-union and parliamentary leaders to the politics of national collaboration and war.
    In its third phase – due to capitalism’s need to continue developing the mass of productive forces whilst at the same time keeping them from destroying the equilibrium of its organisation – it is compelled to abandon liberal and democratic methods, leading to concentration not only of the political sphere in the hands of powerful State organs, but of economic life as well which is subjected to strict controls. In this phase the workers’ movement is again confronted with two alternatives.
    On the theoretical side, it is necessary to affirm that these narrower, stricter forms of domination by the capitalist class constitute the necessary, most developed, and modern phase that capitalism can achieve, in order to finally arrive at the end of its cycle having exhausted its historical possibilities. They do not, therefore, represent a merely temporary worsening of political and policing methodology, after which a return to an alleged liberal tolerance is to be expected.
    On the tactical side, it is wrong to ask the proletariat to fight for a capitalism able to make liberal and democratic concessions since the climate of democratic politics is no longer required to further the growth of capitalist productive energies; an indispensable premise for the socialist economy.
    Such a question, in the first, revolutionary, bourgeois phase, was not only posed by history, but found a solution in the joint struggle of the Third and Fourth Estates, and the alliance between the two classes was an indispensable step on the road toward socialism.
    In the second phase, the question is legitimately posed of a concomitant action between democratic reformism and the proletarian socialist parties. If History has since agreed with the rejection of this solution, a rejection defended by the revolutionary Marxist left against the revisionist and reformist right wing, the latter cannot be considered conformist before the fatal degeneration of 1914-1918. They might have believed that the wheels of history turned at a slow rhythm, they didn’t attempt (not yet) to turn the wheels back. It is necessary to render this justice to Bebel, Jaures and Turati.
    In the present phase of rapacious Imperialism and savage world wars, the possibility of a parallel action between the proletariat and the democratic bourgeoisie is no longer posed in a historical sense. Those who have adopted the opposite view no longer represent an alternative version, or tendency, of the workers’ movement, but have gone over totally to conservative conformism.
    The only alternative to be posed, and resolved, today is altogether different. Given that the world capitalist regime is developing in a centralist, totalitarian, and "fascist” direction, should not the working class join forces with this movement since it is the only reformist aspect of the bourgeois order which now remains? Can there be a dawning of Socialism installed within this inexorable advance of State Capitalism, helping it to disperse the last traditional resistance of the free-enterprisers, liberals, and bourgeois conformists of the first period?
    Or, should not the proletarian movement, lacking in unity and badly affected by its inability during the two world wars to break with the practice of class-collaboration, reconstruct itself by rejecting such a method, by rejecting the illusion that pacifist forms of bourgeois organisation will reappear and be susceptible of legal penetration, or at any rate vulnerable to pressure from the masses (two forms, these, equally dangerous due to their defeatism to any revolutionary movement)?
    The Marxist dialectical method replies in the negative to the question about whether there should be an alliance with the new, modern bourgeois forms, and the reasons are the same as the ones used previously against the alliance with reformism during the democratic and pacifist phase.
    Capitalism, dialectical premise of socialism, no longer needs to be assisted during its birth pangs (affirming its revolutionary dictatorship) nor to develop (in its liberal and democratic phase).
    In the modern phase it must inevitably concentrate its economic and political forms into monstrous units.
    Its transformism and its reformism assure its development at the same time as its conservatism is defended.
    The movement of the working class will only avoid succumbing to bourgeois domination if it refuses to offer assistance to capitalism during its latter stages of development, even if these stages are inevitable. If it is to reorganise its forces, the working class must reject these antiquated perspectives. It must free itself from the burden of old traditions and denounce – already a whole historical stage late – any tactical settlement with any form of reformism.
    At the end of the 1st world war, the most burning issue of contemporary history crosses over into the present period – the crisis of the Tsarist regime; a feudal State structure surviving alongside a rapidly developing capitalism.
    For some decades, the position of the Marxist Left (Lenin, Bolsheviks) had been settled upon the strategic perspective of fighting for the dictatorship of the proletariat at the same time as the entire forces of anti-absolutism were fighting to overthrow the feudal empire.
    The war permitted the realisation of this great goal, and in the brief span of nine months there was concentrated the passage of power from the dynasty, from the aristocracy, and from the clergy, via an interlude of government by the bourgeois democratic parties, to the dictatorship of the proletariat.
    Questions about, and the realignment of forces, relative to the class struggle, the war for power and the strategy of proletarian revolution were given an enormous boost by this great event.
    In this brief period, the strategy and tactics of the revolutionary party passes through each one of its phases: struggle by the side of the bourgeoisie against the old regime; struggle against the bourgeoisie who on the downfall of the old feudal State immediately tries to set up its own regime; split with, and struggle against, the reformist and gradualist parties within the workers’ movement, arriving finally at an exclusive monopoly of power in the hands of the working class and the Communist Party. The effect of the latter on the workers’ movement took the form of a crushing defeat for the revisionist and collaborationist tendencies, and in every country the proletarian parties were propelled onto the terrain of the armed struggle for power.
    But there would be many erroneous interpretations when it came to applying Russian tactics and strategy to other countries, where the installation of Kerensky-type regimes was seen as desirable, to be achieved by applying a politics of coalition in order to deal the death blow at the decisive moment.
    Thus it was forgotten that in Russia that succession of events was strictly related to the late formation of a characteristically capitalist political State, whereas such a State had become firmly rooted in the other European countries for decades, or even centuries, and was much stronger insofar as its legal structure was democratic and parliamentary.
    It wasn’t seen that the alliances in the insurrectionary battles between the Bolsheviks and non-Bolsheviks, and also on those occasions when an attempted feudal restoration needed to be prevented, represented historically the last possible examples of such a relation of political forces. For example, in Germany, the proletarian revolution would have followed the same tactical line as in the Russian Revolution, if it had emerged, as Marx hoped, from the crisis of 1848. However, in 1918-1919, the revolution could only have been successful if the revolutionary communist party had had sufficient forces to sweep away the coalition of Kaiserists, bourgeoisie, and social-democrats which held power in the Weimar Republic.
    When, with fascism, we had the first example of the totalitarian type of bourgeois government appearing in Italy, the International Communist movement adopted a fundamentally wrong approach and showed that it had completely moved away from the correct revolutionary strategy when it consigned the proletariat to struggling for liberty and constitutional guarantees within an anti-fascist coalition.
    To confuse Hitler and Mussolini, reformers of the capitalist regime in the most modern sense, with Kornilov, or with the forces of the restoration and the Holy Alliance of 1815, was the greatest and most ruinous error of judgement and it signified the total abandonment of the revolutionary method.
    The imperialist phase, economically mature in every modern country, is installed in its fascist political form in a way determined by the contingent relations of forces between State and State, and class and class, in the various countries of the world.
    This phase could have been considered as a new opportunity for a revolutionary assault by the proletariat; not, however, in the sense of deploying the forces of the communist vanguard merely to waste them in pursuit of the illusory objective of stopping the bourgeoisie from abandoning its legality, by demanding the restoration of constitutional guarantees and the parliamentary system. On the contrary, the proletariat could, and should, have accepted the historic end of this instrument of bourgeois oppression and accepted the challenge to struggle outside legality; in order to attempt to smash the rest of the apparatus – police, military, bureaucracy, and juridical – attached to the capitalist power and its State.
    The adoption by the Communist Parties of the strategy of the great anti-fascist bloc – exasperated by the slogans of national collaboration in the anti-German war of 1939, the partisan movements, the committees of national liberation, and most shamefully of all by the collaboration in ministerial coalitions – marks the second disastrous defeat of the world revolutionary movement.
    The proletarian revolutionary movement can only be rebuilt, in a theoretical and organisational sense, and in terms of what action it takes, if it rids itself of, and struggles against, politics of this kind; a politics which today unites the socialist and communist parties inspired by Moscow. The new movement must base itself on a political line which completely opposes the slogans spread about by these opportunist movements, whose anti-fascism – as a dialectical approach clearly reveals – places them completely in line – in deeds if not in words – with the fascist evolution of social organisation.

    The new revolutionary movement of the proletariat, characteristic of the imperialist and fascist stage, bases itself on the following general positions:
    1) Rejection of the view that, after the defeat of Italy, Germany and Japan, a phase has begun in which there is a general return to democracy; assertion of the opposite view, according to which the end of the war is accompanied by a conversion, on the part of the bourgeois governments in the victor countries, to the methods and programmes of fascism, even, and indeed particularly, when reformist and labourite parties participate in government. Refusal to take up the cause of a return to liberal forms – an illusory demand which is not in the interests of the proletariat.
    2) Declaration that the present Russian regime has lost its proletarian character, and that this occurred in parallel with the abandonment of revolutionary politics by the Third International. A progressive involution has led the political, economic and social forms in Russia to take on bourgeois characteristics once again. This process should not be seen as a return to praetorian forms of autocratic tyranny, or pre-bourgeois forms, but as the advent, by a different historic road, of the same type of advanced social organisation presented by the State Capitalisms of those countries with a totalitarian regime: regimes in which State planning opens the way to imposing developments and provides an enhanced potential to pursue an imperialist line. Faced with such a situation, we do not call on Russia to return to parliamentary democratic forms, which is in decay in all modern States in any case; instead we work for the reestablishment, in Russia too, of the totalitarian revolutionary communist party.
    3) Rejection of all invitations to participate in any kind of national solidarity of classes and parties; a solidarity evoked not long ago in order to over-throw the so-called totalitarian regimes and to fight the Axis States, whilst now it is required in order to reconstruct, by way of legal methods, the war-damaged capitalist world.
    4) Rejection of manoeuvre and tactic of the united front, that is, of inviting the so-called socialist and Communist parties, which by now have nothing proletarian about them, to abandon their government coalitions and create a so-called proletarian unity.
    5) Determined struggle against all ideological crusades which attempt to mobilise the working classes of the various countries onto patriotic fronts for a new Imperialist War; whether they are called on to fight for ’Red’ Russia against Anglo-Saxon Imperialism or, in a war presented as anti-fascist, to support Western democracy against Stalinist totalitarianism.