Partito Comunista Internazionale Stampa in lingua italiana
Revolution and Counter-Revolution in Russia
1975 Introduction

The articles we are publishing here have all appeared in our party press before. The first two appeared in our publications, namely: ’Why Russia isn’t Socialist’ (Le Prolétaire, nn. 75-84, 1970), and ’Marxism and Russia - Forty Years of Organic Evaluation of International, Social and Historical Developments in Russia’, (Programma Comunista, November 1957). There follows the ’Eight Supplementary Theses on Russia’ which is an extract from our party text Dialogue with Stalin (1953). It serves today, just as when it first appeared, as both a conclusion and a resume of our Marxist interpretation (there is only one) of the events in Russia; it serves, in other words, to clearly demarcate us from those critics who move under the impulse of variegated democratic sentiments - even if some of these do happen to declare themselves as belonging within our proletarian and revolutionary camp. In the final article, and continuing a long-standing party tradition, we publish a brief economic analysis which gives empirical data derived from the development of Soviet production; how totally capitalist Russia in fact is, is proved by comparing this data with the development of other large global centres of capitalist accumulation.

The movement publishing these texts traces its origins back to the battle fought by the left current of the Italian Socialist Party (PSI) at the beginning of this century; a battle which started within the PSI and went on to be fought out within the executive of the Italian Communist Party (PCI) against the onslaught of the latest counter-revolutionary wave. This wave, which would eventually overwhelm us, we would brand with the name Stalinism. Later on, clandestinely organized as a fraction abroad in the post-war period, a clear and homogeneous doctrinal and organizational form would emerge which we still retain to this day. During this time a number of periodicals were published, which, through a natural process of selection were called respectively: ’Prometeo’, ’Battaglia Comunista’, ’Programma Comunista’ and today, ’Il Partito Comunista.’

The party still defines itself today by the store of critical vision it has inherited from classical Marxism. This heritage is validated, and is clarified ever more rigorously, at every stage in Marxism’s victorious battle against those periodic involutional tendencies which affect the class struggle and the conscious organization of the proletariat; known as Anarchism, Reformism and latterly, Stalinism.

The principal merit of the Left consists in having continued, in a coherent way, the work initiated by Lenin against both reformism and participation in the imperialist war; that is, those classical Marxist theses wherein the nature of the State, the role of violence in class relations, and the relations between the party and the spontaneous movement of the proletariat are defined. This ’doctrinal restoration’ was rendered an urgent necessity by the progressive disintegration of the class politics of the 3rd International; which would eventually drag down with it not only the proletarian power in Russia, but also the entire world movement behind the threadbare banner of democracy, national defence, peaceful coexistence, and finally competition amongst alleged different regimes.

As one of the sections within the International, the ’Left’, then at the head of the Communist Party of Italy, set out by putting its full organizational weight behind the international movement, which, in line with the positions of the Zimmerwald and Kienthal opposition, grew steadily and enthusiastically under the impulse of the victory in Russia. In a second phase, the Left opposed from inside the International those tactfully dangerous manoeuvres which were not wholly in accord with communist principles, i.e., the political United Front with the reformist parties. As far as the question of participation in elections went, the Left’s proposal was the abstentionist solution; considering that within the countries of old bourgeois parliamentarianism, grave misunderstandings would result from any attempt to use parliament for propaganda purposes. Events would confirm how well-founded this analysis was _ to the extent indeed that now abstentionism is an irrevocable position of the party applied to the Western countries.

In the years that followed the death of Lenin, our current was banished from the leadership of the PCI and its task became that of denouncing, in ever stronger terms, the degenerating politics of both the party in Russia installed in the palaces of Moscow and all its foreign hangers on; and denying that there was one iota of socialism in the economy, or anything remotely ’red’ or ’proletarian’ in the State power.

Following in the wake of the enormous toil of Marx’s and Lenin’s work, it was our task then, as now, to unmask before the working class the phoney short-cuts to socialism doled out to it in this latest, and worst, wave of opportunism.

The triumph of the proletariat and Marxism in Russia was attained by clearly distinguishing and separating the interests, activity and political leadership and organisation of the working class from other social strata, i.e., from those peasants who were also ‘labourers’ or who were ’exploited’, or worse still, petty bourgeois artisans, entrepreneurs and intellectuals. Today, however, a sorry picture presents itself of the Russian ’communist’ party rambling on about a classless ’people’ - just like in any other bourgeois republic.

With the sole revolutionary class at its head, the use of violence finally culminated in the dictatorship represented by the one communist party; all democratic illusions or uncertainties were rejected and seen as expressing, consciously or otherwise, the submission of the immediate and the ultimate interests of the proletariat to the sterile and restricted aims of the middle and other classes; which for us by then were definitively counter-revolutionary. In Russia the party would lead a violent revolution. Impelled, however, by the demand of the immense peasant masses for land, and with the objective maturation of the worker’s revolution in Europe, the party and the Russian communist proletariat were propelled into the front lines of a civil war. At first, in alliance with the peasants, the proletariat will fight against the Tsar under a hail of cannon shot, then, alone, it will take power through force of arms. In the West, the same attempt was made and was unsuccessful.

From the very moment that the International abandons the prospect of the revolutionary path, the bourgeois myths of democracy, and of ’evolutionary’, parliamentary, and partisan paths, become the only reference points for proletarian activity and doctrine; instead of classes with irreconcilable interests mustering on the battlefield for an all-out revolutionary confrontation, they tell us there is an allegedly classless ’people’.

We define Internationalism as the strategy, carried out by one single world party, of a class that is destined from its very inception to overcome the nationalist inheritance of the bourgeoisie; rather different from attempting to breath new life into the conception of nationhood as happens in the laughably named ’Socialist countries’. After all, that ’The workers have no country’ is clear for all to see in the Manifesto. Having said that, we wouldn’t deny for one minute that we must take power in Russia again - as well.

Even before the outcome of the revolution in Germany was known, our doctrine assured us, if the dictatorship of the proletariat occurred in a situation when a simultaneous victory in all other countries wasn’t probable, that for historical and military reasons we would have to organize and attack from the inside of those territories where the bourgeoisie had been overthrown. On the other hand, as long as States continue to exist, and even though the supremacy of the proletariat will cause national separation and antagonisms to vanish, the proletariat will have jurisdiction and exercise power over a given territory, defined by borders and the populations that are resident there: ’Since the proletariat must first of all acquire political supremacy, must rise to be the leading class of the nation, must constitute itself the nation, it is, so far, itself national, though not in the bourgeois sense of the word’ (Manifesto). We applaud the successes of the Red Army and never held it impossible that the proletarian power could hang onto power in Greater Russia ’even for fifty years’. In fact, the collapse that occurred was neither because of defeats on the battlefield, nor for want of heroism on the part of the international communist movement, which reacted in the wrong way, and too late, to the national-bourgeois involution of the Russian Party. Those comrades who didn’t betray the principles of communism would pay with their lives.

Our main objection, firstly, was that the politics of communism, both within and outside Russia, were being submitted to the needs of the conservation of the Russian economy and State, exchanging thereby the final outcome - the international, historic defeat of capitalism - with a means, an instrument, that is, the proletarian State in one country. Let us recall that ’one of the primary conditions of the emancipation of the proletariat is UNITED ACTION, at least in civilized countries’, let us therefore condemn both the excessive and inopportune power of the Russian apparatus with its facile administrative pressures on the entire International, and the party that ordained those actions within the ’civilized’ countries. Secondly, after the idea of building Socialism in one country’ had been hastily cobbled together, we declared that even to moot the idea in the first place, let alone to put it into effect, was a ’masterpiece of counter -revolutionary fraud’. The ’new’ idea was an obsolete and totally false doctrine; neither Marx nor Lenin ever foresaw that new productive relations could be stabilized except on the International scale at least in the most materially developed countries. By jumbling up together the art of State power and the productive super-structure they ’forgot’ all the writings of Lenin in which even postrevolutionary Russian economy is described as at a stage that, For the most part, had not attained the level of capitalism.

This notorious theory of ’Socialism in one country’ was custom built for all later national, anti-imperialist, anti-feudal and democratic revolutions, i.e. bourgeois revolutions, and set free all the repressed forces of capitalist production. Such would be the case in China and in the third-world countries in general (there are ample party texts to testify to this), and, in the light of Marxism, this can be interpreted as nothing other than national capitalism constructing itself on the backs of a betrayed and disillusioned proletariat. In Russia, it meant along with the abandonment of any prospect of workers’ revolutions abroad, that the struggle of the already proletarianized State power to oversee and control the nascent productive forces - that historically always show a taste for liberty, markets and wage labourers - was also defeated.

These are the lessons we can draw from the Bolshevik - and our - victory, and they are tragically confirmed by the consequences for international communism when it attempted to ’go against the grain’. The revolution that will occur in the major modern industrialized countries, where capitalism is worn out and decrepit, will be ’like in Russia’ international, and led by the one and only Communist Party that is the inheritor of the most inspired traditions of the 3rd Communist International. It will use, once again, as in Russia, the methods of direct action and its own State violence organised against the White resistance. No partisan ’intermediate objectives’ between bourgeois dictatorship and proletarian dictatorship are forecast or anticipated.

For nigh on fifty years we have had accusations of theoreticism heaped on us by the opportunist parties, the very ones indeed which disguise their betrayals of the working class with ’flexibility’ of principles and tactical manoeuvrism. Because of this accusation of ’theoreticism’, we feel bound to repeat that the entire vast and important work of materialist and dialectical explanation of the historical process - running from Red October and Lenin to the present dismal state of dispersal of the class in all countries led by the reactionary parties - is not just abstract theory but is party work. The aim of reproposing the revolutionary doctrine in its entirety is party work (despite it being a small nucleus at the present time) in that it prepares the only compass that will enable us tomorrow to guide the revived and powerful communist party through the social cataclysms and the material conditions of whatever economic crises may present themselves on the horizon; we leave it to the paid hirelings of academia to busy themselves with historiographical contests. It is an unfortunate fact that at present our duty to outline the revolutionary path can only be embryonic and minimal, enabling us in this brief pamphlet only to show in barest outline those general issues which affect all aspects of our social life.

Only with the same revolutionary programme as before, the same manifesto of the communists, the Bolsheviks, and later of the Left alone, will the party be able to attract the proletariat, disappointed and dispersed, back to its tradition of assaults on the entire world of its enemies. Having determined to follow this path, which wasn’t chosen by us, we, like Marx and Lenin, will never seek to measure its validity in terms of days or half-centuries or indeed in terms of an isolated Russia. We refuse to sacrifice on the false altar of the ’here and now’ even one aspect of an identity which we derive from the same old deeds of the past. Our tendency has always been to re-stabilize those frail and fleeting links with the class which social reality allows: whenever the slightest crack appears in the capitalist facade which allows us to launch an attack, however small, we struggle beside the workers against the bosses and opportunists manoeuvrings in the ranks of the workers.

We make no apologies for retaining above everything else an absolutely clear demarcation, both organizational and tactical, between ourselves and any other movement, grouplet, or partylet which confusingly declares itself to stem from the workers or from the ’Left’. And the very worst amongst them are those who stake claims to our tradition, when in fact, they are totally outside it. The fact of the matter is that for a long time now the western proletariat has been revolutionary only on one condition: if and when it has been led by the single integrated programme of communism, and the party which represents it. This means to the exclusion of other programmes and all other parties.
On this road, as always, we stubbornly continue to work.






1991 Introduction

The present publication contains translations into English of some of the many texts that have appeared in our party press dedicated to "The Russian Question". They were first published together in 1975, as they appear here, in the Italian language under the title "Why Russia isn’t Socialist". We have changed only the title and added one more short artide "Communism is Dead - Long Live Communism!" which was written in the light of the final, and complete, confession of capitalism by the Russian ruling classes (who now talk of selling Lenin’s corpse!). Apart from that, nothing has been changed apart from slight alterations to ‘The Party’s Work of Economic Research into the Historical Cycle of Capitalism" which has been updated in order to include statistical information up to 1987.

Our main intention in presenting this work is to accelerate the dismantling of the widespread myth of Russian socialism. The collapse of this myth has often been indicated by the party as one of the necessary conditions for the re-affirmation of the Communist revolutionary program, and thus, a retrenchment of the proletarian International on positions of revolutionary class struggle. Today the myth is being dismantled by the Russian government itself, but this does not prevent the bourgeoisie from launching a huge counter-revolutionary propaganda campaign: basing its conjectures on Stalinist and post-Stalinist falsifications, it gloats about the historical failure of Communism, when in reality the failure of Stalinism means neither the failure of Marxism as a scientific doctrine, nor the failure of the keystone of Marxism - the domination of the State by the proletarian class. The fact of the matter is that within Russia and its satellites the only thing that has really failed is the falsified versions of the Marxist doctrine, and the lie that would have us believe that proletarian State domination is impossible: it is only the myth of the possibility of a centralized, rational and socialized regulation of the capitalist mode of production that has really been exploded.

The real crisis exists for that poisonous dogma, whether it appears in the guise of social-democracy, fascism and Stalinism, which would have us believe that State capitalism, or State control of capitalism, is something fundamentally economically different from... capitalism: that rotten, catastrophic and ubiquitous economic system that underlies all those forms of administering it.
This is the economic structure in Russia as it stands:
     Large-Scale industry: – State-owned, with production ordained, along with price regulation and an absence of free competition but not exchange-values; salaries are related to either production or hours; profits are kept.
     Small-Scale Industry: – Whether co-operatively or individually owned, both are de facto privately owned; buying and selling takes pIace freely in the marketpIace; wages are paid; profits are kept.
     Agrlculture and the Kolhozian Hybrld: – within this sector we find the real nucleus of the reproduction of mercantile relations and the accumulation of capitals.
     Commerce: – Partly conducted by State businesses using wage-Iabor, but for the most part by privately owned co-operative societies.

The Russian type of economy is distinguishable from that found in the West in terms of quantity, but not by economic category or social relations. For instance, the practice of administering prices and production quotas for large-scale industry, i.e. steel and grain, occurs throughout the western world. Monopoly in the West exists under the two aspects of concentration of finance and as attempted central planning. Planned capitalism isn’t socialism though and socialism isn’t State organization of mercantilism and sale of labor power; and nor is socialism to do with co-ordinating different businesses, all with their own profit and loss accounts, and acting as a go-between between them and the State.

So why then all the fuss about changing this system? The fact is that capitalism requires and aspires to a maxirnum concentration and centralization of different capitals, whilst, meanwhile, it rebels against the required unitary discipline. Capitalism requires not only competition, but also the most unbridled struggle to select not its best, and/or most technically efficient parts, but rather the worst. Therefore Russia suffers, if that’s the right word, from a capitalism which is so close to the ideal capitalist structure that it can’t function: in order to exploit the proletariat with sufficient ruthlessness, Russian capital requires unemployment and the suppression of businesses which don’t treat their employees like slaves etc, etc.

Perestroika effectively means more freedom for capital, and therefore for individual capitalists, to bring the State into total subjection to their needs, just as happens in the West.

Whilst on the one hand Stalinism has been able to assume the modern form of bourgeois government, that is open dictatorship, on the other, post-Stalinism - post-fascism in the west, - certainly doesn’t mark a return to pre-fascist democracy or to February 1917. It presents us rather with incontrovertible proof of the irreversible triumph of fascism; a fascism moreover which subordinates to itself the same old familiar democratic forms (like the center parties) and the same old parties and unions of the working class - all under the banner of one and the same nationalist and capitalist program. Finally, we find parliamentary cretinism with liberal doses of self-seeking individualism dressed up as politics.

Over the last few months, the evolution of the Russian economy confirms our diagnosis of it having ’come of age’ as another decrepit modern capital with all its attendant crises, e.g., with production increasing at a rate that runs in inverse proportion to the increasing misery of the proletariat - a canonical capitalist law - we find already a million unemployed Uzbeks.

The difficulties that are being encountered by the various economic reforms of businesses, property, and land management, find their explanation in Russia society itself, within the latent opposition and open struggle of the Russian proletariat. The fact that grocery shops managed by the State are empty, whilst the market stalls of the kolkhozians groan under the weight of produce, set at prices, moreover that are out of reach for families or workers, represents a flashpoint of class struggle which the State is loath to confront openly. The groundswell of class struggle is confirmed both by references in the press to continual strikes, which resulted in 7.5 million working days lost in the first eleven months of 1989, and also by the existence of ‘The United Workers Front" about which we only know that it has declared itself for a long time ’an enemy of Perostroika’.

What is lacking in fact in the Russian bourgeoisie’s power structure are secular structures for the parties and opportunist unions; all the better for them to be able to declare themselves formally opposed to the State whilst in reality they are dedicated to democracy and the defense of the regime. Unlike the outcome for the Polish bourgeoisie, helped as they were by intellectuals and priests, we are not sure how much the Russian proletariat instinctively mistrusts the democracy of the reformers and middle classes. The central problem posed for the Russian government remains, i.e., to subdue the proletariat, and as yet it hasn’t succeeded.

All that remains of the debate on economy is the inevitability of the arrival in Russia, as in the rest of the world, of a plurality of property forms; with the State and big banks rigging prices; with the treasury, credit and investment neither projecting or planning for the future. All that remains, in other words, is the permanent crisis within a system that is no longer any use to the human race as a whole. A system which will have to be destroyed in Russia just as everywhere else.

October 1991