On the Thread of Time
The Inflation of the State
Battaglia Comunista, no.38 of 1949
Such a clear and solid conquest in the theoretical and political field as the arrangement of the question of the State in Marx, Engels and Lenin – so that in the first post-war period it seemed that the revolutionary communist movement had to work on questions of organization and tactics, but never again on questions of program – is seriously compromised when one calls oneself an exponent of Marxist and Leninist parties who prospect and propose in the national field a programmatic agreement with the bourgeois parties on “constitutional” grounds; at the international level, a historical and social collaboration between “proletarian” and capitalist States.
Our basic texts first of all do justice to the vision of the State typical of theocratic and authoritarian conceptions, as well as those of the bourgeois-democratic immanentist concepts.
Both systems set as the goal of the whole course of thought and of history the construction of the perfect and eternal State.
In the Old Testament, as it is still dogmatically accepted by the prevailing churches in most of the advanced world, the Eternal Father himself is mobilized to dictate to Moses a true and proper Constitution for the chosen people in all its details. In the organicity of this system, church, justice, State and army form a holistic whole; statistics and the administrative division of the geographically defined territory are even traced out, as well as the rules for making the old occupiers leave by means of the sword if they refuse to evacuate it. Later on, Christianity will extend the boundaries of the chosen people to all mankind, distinguishing the city of God from the city of Caesar, the priestly hierarchy from the military hierarchy, taking care, however, not to deny the rules of authority of domination and extermination of the first and greatest of the prophets.
In the new systems of modern critical bourgeois thought, dogma and the authority of revelation are shaken, but among the many myths, that of the State remains intact and stronger than ever. From Luther to Hegel to Hobbes to Robespierre, the definitions of the new Leviathan rise up, which Marx-Engels- Lenin will criticize, show for what it is and finally demolish it: “reality of the moral idea” – “image and reality of reason” – “realization of the Idea”, phrases that Lenin assimilates to that of "Kingdom of God on Earth" in his repeated violent attacks on the ignoble “superstition of the State”.
“The State is a product of Society at a certain stage of its development” (Engels). The State appears when society divides into economically antagonistic classes, when the class struggle appears. “The State is nothing but a machine for the oppression of one class by another” (Marx).
In all capitalist countries, in any part of the world and in any period of their history, since there cannot be capitalism without class struggle, this machine is present, and has the same function of exercising the “dictatorship of the bourgeoisie” (Lenin) as much in the monarchy as in the most democratic of republics (Marx).
Let us say once again that the capitalist bourgeois State will not be the last State machine in history (as the anarchists think). The working class cannot "use it" (as all reformists and opportunists claim), it must "destroy it", and it must build a new State – the revolutionary dictatorship of the proletariat.
This workers’ State, dialectically opposed to the capitalist State, will, in the course of the construction of the communist economy, dissolve, deflate, fade away, until it finally disappears.
Let us now return to the historical process that developed into the contemporary concrete capitalist State in order to see its historical course, while waiting for the consummation of the Marxist vision of its destruction, and later also the dumping of the State in general.
The capitalist State, before our eyes of a generation torn apart by three bourgeois peaceful periods over two universal imperialist wars, is frighteningly bloated, it assumes the proportions of the Moloch devouring immolated victims, of Leviathan with its belly full of treasures crushing billions of living people. If it were really possible, as in the exercises of philosophical speculation, to personalize the Individual, Society, Humanity, the whole horizon of the dreams of these innocent beings would be covered by the statist nightmare.
Of this fearful Monster we (who foresee the gradual dissolution of our revolutionary State, its Auflösung), from storm to storm, await instead the Sprengung calculated by Marx, the fearful but luminous Explosion.
Our claim is therefore not to ask it to mellow and thin out, and return to some human "line", but to hasten, under the pressure of its inexorable internal laws, and of their class hatred, its horrible bloating.
In our very modern world, State inflation has two directions, the social and the geographical, territorial. They are intimately connected. The second one is essential, as the State and its territory were born together. In his The Origin of the Family, Private Property and the State, Engels says, in fact: The State is at first distinguished before the ancient organization of the gens of the tribe or clan, by the distribution of the population according to territory.
This applies to the ancient State, to the feudal State, and to the modern State. If Moses dictatorially gave to each of the twelve tribes a precise and boundless province of the promised land of Israel, if Popes and Emperors invested the medieval lords with lands and vassals, the modern civilized and democratic States of today sort through the territories of concentrated populations like herds of animals of burden, with crowds of prisoners of war, political internees, refugees from invasions, landless refugees, proletarian emigrants handled as shipments of goods; the liberty altar on which they burn incense is now woven with barbed wire.
As for the extension of the territory, the ancient world presents us with small State units the size of a city and large empires that came out of military conquests, the Middle Ages shows us small autonomous municipalities and large State complexes. The capitalist world, on the other hand, offers the decisive uninterrupted concentration of State units on immense extensions, and the increasingly total domination of the large States over the smaller ones.
This process is completely parallel to the increasing interference of the State machine in all aspects of life of the populations it subjugates, to the spreading of this influence from the political, police and juridical field, more and more explicitly and suffocatingly to the social, economic and physical one.
Already in State and Revolution (Chapter II, Paragraph 2) Lenin gives a decisive analysis of this internal process referred to all the countries of Europe and America, and especially to the most parliamentary and republican ones.
"Imperialism – the era of bank capital, the era of gigantic capitalist monopolies, of the development of monopoly capitalism into State-monopoly capitalism--has clearly shown an unprecedented growth in its bureaucratic and military apparatus in connection with the intensification of repressive measures against the proletariat both in the monarchical and in the freest, republican countries".
Words written in 1917.
The substantial lie of the juridical and political construction proper to the dominant bourgeoisie can only be pointed out by remembering that both world wars were presented as struggles for the claims of autonomy and freedom of individuals, of ethnic and national groups, of small States in their unlimited sovereignty. Instead, they were gigantic and bloody stages in the concentration of State power and capitalist domination.
In the theory of bourgeois law, how are saved to the single individual a series of illusory prerogatives before the public power in thinking, speaking, writing, associating, voting, in any direction – but not in eating! The hungry could choose that of the table at which sits the disinterested body of Solons! – thus it is affirmed that within its own territorial boundaries, whether they are ten or ten thousand kilometers, each State is sovereign and can administer itself as it wishes.
But already in the rosy and pearly picture of the late nineteenth century it distinguished between Great and Small Powers. Leaving aside America, which "did not have a foreign policy", there were six in Europe: England, splendidly alone, Russia and France in the Dual Alliance, Germany, Austria-Hungary and Italy in the Triple Alliance. In the East, the strength of Japan was growing, aspiring to control Asia, just as the false Malthusian North America was spreading its hegemony over Central and South America. Time after time history had already reduced Sweden, Spain, Portugal, Holland, Turkey... to the rank of former powers.
All the talk about how war broke out not because the strongest capitalist States were hungry for larger empires and markets, but because the sovereignty of a small free State, Serbia, had been offended by the arrogance of the despotic empire of Vienna, is nothing but chatter.
The defeat of the Germans eliminated two world powers and the Russian Revolution put a third one out of action in settling the peace. Liberal lies went spreading around the self-determination of small nationalities and the liberation of oppressed peoples. The five great victorious military States allowed the birth, in appearance, of small new powers, more or less historical, in the old Europe, but not giving up a square kilometer of their own empires on people of the most varied language and color. Poland, Czechoslovakia, Croatia and Slovenia (united with Serbia), Albania, Finland, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania were all constituted into "sovereign" States.
In fact, all these small States, together with the traditional ones, due to the reasons and the characteristics of the modern world with its productive and mercantile mode of production, served only to form constellations of satellites for the hegemonies that tried to arise. France and England made their trials in this field by dividing Central and Eastern Europe into spheres of influence, but they were united in their attacks against proletarian Russia at the time; Italy itself entered this field with well-known success, while the United States in the West and Japan in the East continued to expand the visible and invisible limits of their domination.Today
On the eve of the second world war, it was already clear, both because of the further monopolistic evolution of great capitalism and because of military technology, which increasingly require immense formidable economic means, that every State with only a few million inhabitants could not exercise any economic, diplomatic or military autonomy and had to place itself in the orbit and subjection of a larger one. In the meantime, Germany resurrected and following the general historical law – not inventing it as the fools were led to believe – reabsorbed the remaining pieces of the dissolved Austro-Hungarian Empire (which, incidentally, if it had the worst literature also had the best, most serious and most honest administration of the time). Russia, carrying out a historical cycle of the utmost interest, starting from the claim of national autonomy in the midst of the struggle between the old and the new regime, was in turn becoming a powerful unitary State complex.
It was thus evident that in the new diplomatic and military game only the big State behemoths really mattered, as the only ones that could conjure up significant forces in the war, above all in the seas and in the air, long, cumbersome, expensive to prepare, requiring besides immense capital great geographical distances between bases and political borders. Countries with a dense population know something about it, i.e. they also have, with a large population and perhaps wealth, relatively little extension. Even among the "great powers" of yesterday, Germany England France Italy Japan, with various political outcomes, had to suffer tremendous military beatings.
Even this war of the fiercest domination and concentration of destructive power was presented as a vindication of freedom and sovereignty of the "little ones" of history which had to be defended from the bullies. It was started to prevent Hitler from overwhelming free Poland, still fresh from the reattachment with democratic glue of the three historical pieces. It was immediately broken in two and divided between the two giants that flanked it. Once one of the two had disappeared, it was once again in one piece at the service of a single master. The worst fate for a romantic, generous, civil and free Nation with a capital N is this of today, the "partition in one".
The truly surviving States are those that have won in the unrestrained race for Territorial Inflation. They soon began, without renouncing to the daily litany to freedom, to speak of Greats. How many so called “greats”, three, four, two or five? It barely matters. There were at least eight at the start of the war.
The true Great Powers are those who, due to the vastness of their own territory and to their large population (for the sake of this analysis, China should also be followed, should a great modern capitalist State arise there, despite the deep social hybridism), add a vast constellation of satellites, left to play with the fiction of sovereignty, while their managerial staff is increasingly drunk, corrupt and bought in the tea and cocaine houses that are the great international political conferences and councils.
Once Italy has been degraded into being the most vile satellite, Great Britain and France will see if they will be content with the place of first Lord and first Lady in the American Constellation. There remains on the other side the Russian Constellation, struggling with some unruly little planets that would like to jump out of the primitive sphere of attraction.
The Great Monsters are thus reduced to only two in actuality. Will they go towards unification by Peace or by War? In both cases it will be tremendous. But it will be just as terrible that for the third time, after having each devoured half of the large and small zoological species of the political map of the earth, they will attack each other accusing themselves of wanting to devour the sacred freedom of the last little mouse.