|Last update on 11 March 2020|
|WHAT DISTINGUISHES OUR PARTY – The line running from Marx to Lenin to the foundation of the Third International and the birth of the Communist Party of Italy in Leghorn (Livorno) 1921, and from there to the struggle of the Italian Communist Left against the degeneration in Moscow and to the rejection of popular fronts and coalition of resistance groups – The tough work of restoring the revolutionary doctrine and the party organ, in contact with the working class, outside the realm of personal politics and electoralist manoevrings|
Peace is impossible in capitalism because war is a product of its irreformable economic laws.
On the one hand, war is the military continuation of economic competition. In times of economic growth this competition is predominantly contained in the commercial sphere. In times of crisis, it becomes so bitter as to lead States, the defenders of the general interests of all national capitalisms, into the clash of war. Hints of this epilogue are economic protectionism, accompanied by nationalism – both right and "left" – in the political field, all of which are well present today.
But war is the only solution that capitalism, as a whole, has to the devastating crisis of overproduction in its economy. This solution comes before and beyond any means of dividing the world market among the bourgeoisie of every country. This immense destruction of goods already produced – infrastructure, industries, cities and "labor force" – prevents a further valorization of capital (vulgarly called "growth"). War comes to save all national capitalisms, winners and losers, offering a bath of youth to a dying and anti‑historical way of production.
Capitalism thus offers both the greatest progress and the greatest barbarity that human history has ever experienced. The so‑called "economic miracle" after World War II was only possible because of the immense destruction and deaths of over 50 million people during the war; almost all of which were proletarians and poor farmers in the metropolises and colonies. After which, the brutal exploitation of the working class intensified in the name of "national reconstruction".
It was the World War – by the admission of the bourgeois economists themselves – which solved the economic crisis in which capitalism sank in the first half of the 20th century. The policies of State intervention in the economy create no solutions to the crisis. These policies had been applied indifferently by all bourgeois regimes, democratic and Nazi‑Fascist alike, before the World War. They are now invoked by the reformist Left as an alternative to so‑called "neo‑liberalism". The national ways out of the crisis brings war, not socialism, closer.
All the bourgeois States, even in times of peace, never stop maneuvering with anticipation of the general clash to come. They are aware that any lost position is granted to the "enemy". Hence the hundreds of unceasing local wars, with millions of victims, have characterized the "peace" that followed the Second World War. These are conducted by stirring up national, ethnic and religious hatred with terrorist massacres. Such as is happening in recent weeks in northern Syria, where the clash between the regional imperialism of Syria and Turkey is consuming the skin of more than three million civilians unable to escape.
Just as contemporary war has a deeper function than the division of the world market – to save the whole of capitalism from its crisis – so too are all national bourgeoisies united in having an enemy superior to that which each of them faces militarily: the working class of all countries. Every national bourgeoisie always has two fronts and two enemies to fight: one external and one internal.
Faced with the inevitable twisting of the economic crisis that crushes the workers into misery. In the increases of exploitation of the employed and the army of the unemployed, war is a means of hindering the social revolt which, if led by the Communist Party, becomes revolution. A part of the working class is removed from the cities and led to the front to the fratricidal massacre against workers in another uniform. The bombardments on the cities further decimate the working class and reduce its strength.
This is the only solution available to the bourgeois regimes. But it is always very risky for them because it involves arming the workers. If strikes in factories and city riots break out during the war – for example in Russia in 1917, Germany in 1918, Italy in 1943, Iraq in 1991 – the internal front can collapse and rebellion can easily infect the army.
For this reason, war cannot be explained to the workers of every country by every national bourgeois regime for its authentic reasons of cowardly economic order. Nor can it be explained as an inevitable product of the economic course of the whole of capitalism. War must always be justified as a product of the will of a political party and of particularly reactionary, evil, warmongering nations, which oppress that people and nation. This is employed so as to convince the proletarian masses to support the war effort and not to rebel against the terrible living conditions it entails.
To this end, the bourgeoisie welcomes the false
workers’ parties within each country. All of which are always ready
for the "less worse" policy – which the bourgeoisie punctually prepares
"the worst" – to set up "single political fronts" in defense of democracy
and "against the right". This is never to fight against all
the bourgeois parties, right and left, for the revolutionary conquest of
power. So on the international level and in the face of the dangers of war
they always identify an alliance with the "less worse" capitalist States
for which to lead the workers to be slaughtered.
WAR ON WAR is not a slogan of generic opposition to the militarist violence of capitalism. It is the practical indication with which the Bolshevik party in Russia, the Spartachists in Germany, and the Communist Left in Italy, proclaimed to the workers in the First World War. To "transform the war between States into war between the classes", to apply "revolutionary defeatism" against one’s own country at war. Rather than shoot at the class brothers of other countries, turn the gun 180° to overthrow the regime of one’s own national ruling class.
The Bolshevik party, by virtue of this address, was the only one in the history of capitalism to stop the imperialist war; even when the pacifist bleating of the bourgeois left never succeeded. They did so at the price of enormous territorial losses for Russia, thus following a deeply anti‑national conduct. However the objective was the international proletarian revolution, not the struggle to "defend one’s own country".
The inability to recognize the Stalinist counter-revolution and the capitalist nature of the USSR led the false workers’ parties to deny this direction. They instead deployed the proletariat on one of the two imperialist fronts in World War II, just as Social Democracy had done in the first. In more recent examples, support has been thrown to bourgeois regimes that oppressed and massacred poor workers and peasants like that of Serbia, Iraq, Syria, Nicaragua, Venezuela or that of Moscow in the war in the Donbass (Ukraine).
This inability to understand how the contemporary world has for decades been entirely capitalist. In not recognizing how the fight against imperialism and fascism cannot mean the fight against capitalism as a whole. Leads these false workers’ parties to fall into the ideological traps with which the national bourgeoisies try to lead the workers to war.
Only the working class has the strength to prevent or
stop the war. This can be done by striking the economy of the nation at
war in the factories and at the front by laying down arms and fraternizing
with the workers of other countries. In so doing, conveying social revolt
over national borders.
It is necessary to fight so that all the conflictual trade unionism – that is, the rank and file trade unions and the opposition in CGIL – gives unitary and practical support to these initiatives, both by participating in the garrisons and the pickets and by proclaiming the strike.
It is necessary to fight for the unmasking and defeat
in the workers’ movement of those opportunist parties that bend
proletarian anti‑militarism and internationalism to partial political
objectives. These objectives being completely compatible with those of
national and international bourgeoisie fractions. This includes the exit
from NATO and the closure of its bases in Italy. They are clearly implicit
in putting these objectives before the conquest of political power by the
working class. But this is the only revolutionary political objective for
the working class. In abandoning it they only lend their support to that
part of the national bourgeoisie eager to throw off its subjection
to American imperialism and move on to Russian and, above all, Chinese
imperialism. This has the disastrous result of favoring the deployment of
the workers on one of the imperialist fronts, once again betraying
For the international unity of the workers!
Against every front of the imperialist war!
Against every military mission of the bourgeoisie!
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On February 5, after three years of breathless anticipation from the
Democrats, President Donald Trump was acquitted by the U.S. Senate in his
impeachment trial. The acquittal on the charges of abuse of power and
obstruction of Congress allows him to remain in office until at least the
end of his current term. The Republicans could hardly contain their
excitement. At the same time the Democratic Party primary election process
began with the catastrophic failure of the election system in Iowa.
Senator Bernie Sanders, who calls himself a democratic socialist, has
emerged as the leader in the Democratic field, having come in second in
Iowa and South Carolina, and first in New Hampshire and Nevada. For his
followers, Sanders is the face of “resistance” to the Trump presidency,
the savior of democracy in the United States. In truth, the democratic
system can only reinforce the rule of the bourgeoisie, whether a
false reformist or a open reactionary holds office.
The impeachment of Donald Trump was a show trial in reverse. The defendant’s acquittal was certain from the beginning, and the rest only existed to keep up the act. The Republicans pretended to stand for due process; the Democrats pretended to prosecute. In their own ways, both parties acted as propagandists for the bourgeois State and its system of justice. For the Democrats, impeachment would be the triumph of the separation of powers, of civic duty separated from personal interest, of the sovereignty of the people in the abstract. The Republicans, for their part, would show their dedication to a patronizing form of order, one predicated on a single untouchable personality. Trump’s sovereignty depends on him being untouchable (this is the man who declared in 2016, “I could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody, and I wouldn’t lose any voters”). The defenders of the bourgeois State are always innocent, while workers who defend themselves are always guilty. The financial burden of going to trial causes most criminal defendants to plead guilty, while the billionaire head of State does not even have to argue his innocence. Such is bourgeois justice!
The charges against the president provide further evidence of the reactionary nature of the whole impeachment act. Trump’s crime was to modify the United States’ existing imperialist strategy in Ukraine. The “abuse of power” that offended the Democrats was to put military aid to the Ukrainian government on hold until the country would announce a criminal investigation into business dealings by Joe Biden’s son, which Trump presumably hoped would hurt Biden in the 2020 election. The crime was not aiding the rightist government of Ukraine, which the Democrats fully and enthusiastically support, but using that aid for personal ends.
Bernie Sanders and his supporters believe that they are bringing about a “political revolution” in the United States. Very well. When will this revolution occur, and what will change? What will they due to ensure that it happens in the face of massive opposition?
Every revolution has faced questions like these. The uprising in Russia succeeded in 1917 because the Communist Party had the right answers, a party prepared and hardened for many years, on the basis of the intransigent program of revolutionary Marxism. The insurrection would occur around the Second All‑Russian Congress of Soviets, when the political base of support for the party would be gathered together. It would establish a dictatorship of the proletariat based on the soviet system of representation. The Military-Revolutionary Committees and the Red Guards would support the revolution by force of arms.
So what of Sanders and the democratic socialists in the United States? Their supposed revolution is either coming soon or already occurring, depending on the campaign speech one listens to. First and foremost it will make Bernie president, and then perhaps install the kind of welfare State that is disintegrating before our eyes in other countries. And what will support these very moderate demands? The military and the police hate them bitterly, and will not hesitate to do the bidding of the bourgeoisie. Civilian reactionaries despise them and are heavily armed. So do they form militias of their own? Quite the opposite, they demand that all arms should be in the hands of the bourgeois State!
There are only two options for this political revolution. It will fail completely against opposition that its own forces cannot match, or it will restrict itself so severely that it will become a liberal civic movement, no different from the Democratic Party we have long been familiar with. In either case, its petty-bourgeois idealist character will be readily apparent.
A revolution is a fight for the real liberation of an oppressed class, the proletariat these days. When capitalism is becoming economically impossible, than the proletariat can free itself. This is what Marx and Engels meant when they called communism “the real movement which abolishes the present State of things”, that is, which completely uproots capitalism and free the society which is ripe inside it.
Political Revolutions are not made through the will of politicians and activists. Only classes, directed by a revolutionary class party, make revolutions. Marx and Engels wrote that “every class struggle is a political struggle”.
Sanders, the Democrats, and U.S. brand of democratic socialism cannot abolish the present society, and so they will never open the way to the next one, even if they wished to. Only the communist party, as the most aware and militant representative of the international proletariat, can accomplish those tasks.
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The massive destruction and massacres of the Second World War allowed world capitalism to emerge from the crisis of 1929 and start a new cycle of capital accumulation, almost without a crisis of overproduction: the famous “Glorious Thirty” [the French economic boom of 1945‑75] of economists and journalists. But this cycle ended definitively with the first crisis of international overproduction in 1974‑1975. Since then, following a cycle of 7 to 10 years as in Marx’s time, capitalism has experienced, after a phase of growth, an international crisis of overproduction: international and national trade plummet, bankruptcies of commercial and industrial enterprises explode, the national and international markets are engorged with goods which are difficult to buy. Bankruptcies lead to mass unemployment and restructuring. As arrears accumulate, the banks themselves go bankrupt and bond and share prices fall in turn, capital enters a deflationary spiral.
Faced with a crisis of the economic system which guarantees it immense privileges, the bourgeoisie, both industrial and financial, responds by systematically resorting to subcontracting, outsourcing, and making workers ever more precarious. Monopolies, which are the multinationals, respond with massive offshoring to countries where cheap labor can be exploited without restraint, such as in China. This “globalization”, as economists in the service of the bourgeoisie call it, has given world capitalism about thirty years of security.
To this is added frenzied speculation in all areas: on raw materials (like oil and gas), cereals, housing, etc. This is accompanied by general deregulation and the destruction of public services that capitalism is no longer capable of providing. This is all good for profits. The bourgeoisie does not care about the suffering it inflicts on workers through its policies. What worries the bourgeoisie and its governments are the social outbursts caused by its worldwide economic policy, and the general crisis of capitalism.
But the economic policy led by the bourgeoisie and its governments does not solve anything! On the contrary, from crisis to crisis, the situation worsens: from cycle to cycle, growth only slows down, while the debts of companies, families and States become so gigantic that they jeopardize the system itself. Even the central banks themselves hold trillions in debt in the form of bonds, many of which will never be repaid, bringing the crisis to the heart of the financial system.
However, a solution exists: capitalism, by socializing the productive forces, has developed on a considerable scale the economic bases of communist society – this is its great historical role. The crisis of capitalism exposes the need to transition to a communist society: a classless society, communal and without commodity production, where the goal of production will be the satisfaction of human needs. The goal of production under capitalism is only the accumulation of capital.
Capitalism – and the bourgeoisie with it – has become a parasitic organism that hampers the development of humanity, drawing it into pointless wars and inflicting excruciating pain on a large portion of humanity, while destroying nature in the process.
The monstrous course of this economic system cannot be stopped peacefully. The transition to communism requires the overthrow of the bourgeoisie, its expropriation, and the abolition of wage labor and capital, by replacing the management of production and distribution for profit with a communist management, that is to say, a management that is based on physical and not monetary accounting and on human needs, while taking into account the protection of nature.
Below we’re publishing the flyer that
the ICP distributed at a strike march on Saturday, January 18 in Prato. It
was also translated into English.
The rally, called by the SI Cobas, was successful, with about 2 thousand demonstrators, mostly workers, participating. The citizens of Prato had certainly not seen such a workers’ parade for years. And never on the initiative of a rank and file trade union.
This must have worried the petit-bourgeoisie, the bosses and the local authorities. Equally, it certainly gave energy and courage to the workers who had joined SI Cobas and to those who still did not have the courage to join the fight, for fear of company retaliation, in this important textile district.
Another positive fact was the adherence of almost of the fighting unions, albeit mostly with limited representation. In addition to SI Cobas members, who made up the majority of the march, there were members of the CGIL opposition, with factory groups such as the GKN of Florence and the Piaggio of Pontedera, the Cobas Confederation as well as smaller groups from the CUB and the USB. The ADL Cobas, acting with SI Cobas, was the only other able to form a significant part of the strike march. The Coordination of Workers for Class Unity (CLA) was also present, with a banner, about twenty marchers and distributed a flyer.
In short, it was a small example of the united action of fighting trade unionism, the slogan that our party acts within the trade union movement and to which the CLA Coordination is inspired by. But there is still a long way to go for it to assert itself, and it needs such episodes of struggle to multiply and not remain occasional. At the same time, the activity of the Coordination must continue in the awareness of how far and uphill the road taken is the right one. The shortcuts are political and trade union opportunism.
The fines for "roadblocks" placed on the Superlativa Laundry workers and student supporters in Prato, for a picket cleared by force by the police. Both the fines and police actions are part of a repressive framework aimed at preventing the return to the struggle of the working class.
Hundreds of expulsion orders, injunctions and legal complaints have now been handed out. In the last few days alone, in Genoa alone, 19 injunctions with fines of €5,000 each have been imposed for "On‑the‑Job Violence" and in Desenzano sul Garda (Brescia), for "extortion", again for striking and organizing pickets.
When SI Cobas organizes in a workplace, company repression begins with the threats, discrimination and dismissals. If this doesn’t work, the comapany is rescued by the State. The police and carabinieri are sent in to clear picket lines, with clubs and gas if necessary. This has happened dozens of times. If even this does not stop the struggle, the courts take over. The legal system, using methods which the bourgeois political regime has developed to protect companies against workers struggles. These measures have been historically continuous, alternating between democratic to fascist and back to democratic regimes. The most recent measures being these so‑called "security decrees".
The police, courts and government are all cogs of the bourgeois State machine whose aim is to keep the working class oppressed and exploited.
Today, repression by employers is focused on SI Cobas because it is the union which has successfully organized workers’ struggle in recent years. The bosses try to prevent the struggles of the SI Cobas and its methods of unionism, from contagiously affecting the rest of the working class. The working class currently remains largely passive, a victim of individualism, resignation, distrust in collective action. This distrust, caused by decades of class collaborationist unionism by Cgil, Cisl and Uil, which led workers from defeat to defeat, losing many of the conquests made in the three decades after the Second World War.
Repression is also increasingly affecting the other grassroots trade unions and as well as the opposition in Cgil – with disciplinary measures and dismissals against their members and supporters. Often militant unionists find themselves isolated, in jobs where the threat of company retaliation and the intrigues of class collaborationist unions on the other, prevents real solidarity to develop and therefore calls for a fight in their defence.
In order to break the power of companies, bourgeois State and regime trade unionism, it is necessary to pursue unity of action by militant unions.
Today’s action in Prato, where a majority of the local grassroots union federations as well as the Cgil opposition, various Rsu and factory collectives and the Workers’ Coordination for the Unity of the Class have unified to support today’s demonstration. The latter organization was set up specifically with the aim of coordinating the efforts of all those who want to fight for unity of action within the Base Unions.
We need to fight so today’s protest is not unique. Such shows of unity in action need to become the goal which the rank and file unions as well as the Cgil opposition. Such actions should be constantly and increasingly unified.
Only the formation of a United Class Union Front will we be able to offer workers a credible and strong alternative to the regime trade unions (Cgil, CISL, UIL, UGL). Such a front will also be able to fight the dominant trade union opportunism within rank and file unions.
Mixed fronts between unions and parties need to be rejected. Despite proclamations in favour of unity of action by workers, they can only generate more and more economic fronts divided between parties. Each front in competition with each other. Each with its share of union bodies or currents under its control. They are therefore organizations which divide rather than unify an establishment of a constant and organic unity of class unionist action.
Fight today for unity of action of militant unionism. It’s objective being building a United Class Union Front, with its goal being the formation of a single Class Union. By doing this, the working class can be brought back into the struggle with the most favorable conditions of strength. This is the only material basis that will allow a sufficiently active part of it to return to its revolutionary positions, linking it to the authentic communist party willing to lead it to the conquest of political power.
The first meeting of the Common Front
of the Base will take place on SATURDAY, MARCH 14, from 13:00 to
17:00 at UQAM (Local A‑2830).
The meeting’s goals are:
- Share news on the ongoing workplace and industrial negotiations;
- Exchange on experiences of mobilization and union organization;
- Promoting the co‑development of tools allowing mobilization by the rank and file.
Workers involved in their workplace, willing
to share information and analysis related to public sector negotiations
and wishing to contribute to the development of a united rank and file
mobilization are invited to participate, as persons directly involved or
as allies. We encourage you to organize your workplace to ensure the
presence of the greatest number of workplaces at the meeting.
Szczecin, Poland: An Omani loaded with a cargo of zinc has been refused work for several weeks by Dockworkers who refused to offload the bulk carrier fearing an explosion (Dec 18, 2019).
Louisville, Kentucky, USA: Gov. Andy Beshear’s Labor Cabinet has reversed a determination by the previous administration that more than 1,000 teachers broke State law by participating in “sick outs” this year (Dec 2019).
Weyburn, Saskatchewan, Canada: Unifor brought their strike at the Co‑op Refinery in Regina to Weyburn on Monday morning, as they blockaded off the Crossroads location at the intersection of Highways 39 and 13. The picket was taken down in the afternoon and Prairie Sky Co‑op and Main Track Cafe were able to resume their business.
The strikers put up a fence around the entire perimeter of the property with large rented trucks blocking every entrance. This cut off the Main Track restaurant, C‑store and gas bar, and access to the cardlock for truckers. (Jan 2020)
Iran: "They are lying that our enemy is America, our enemy is right here", protesters chanted during the demonstrations, Al Jazeera reported. On Saturday, Iranians had staged similar protests, chanting "death to the dictator", referring to Khamenei (Jan 2020).
Binola, Haryana, India: In a move that can be seen as taking inspiration from the ongoing industrial conflict at Honda, workers of Shivam Auto Tech Limited (SATL) occupied their factory. The permanent staff conducted a sit‑in on January 7 inside the plant in the Binola Industrial Area.
Freemantle, WA, Australia: "Two hundred wharfies at the Dubai Ports container terminal in Fremantle, Australia, have stopped work for 24 hours, accusing the company of failing to bargain in good faith as negotiations for a new workplace agreement have been underway for over 15 months. The Maritime Union of Australia said workers at DP World Australia, the country’s largest stevedore, had been left with no choice but to take industrial action in a bid to finalize a new workplace agreement that addresses important issues around job security and locks in workplace conditions such as parental leave and domestic violence leave" (Jan 13, 2020).
Trois-Rivieres, Quebec, Canada: Sixteen nurses conducted a sit‑in against mandatory overtime imposed on them by holding a sit‑in late Saturday afternoon at the Centre hospitalier affiliéré universitaire régional de Trois-Rivières (CHAUR). According to a participant in the sit‑in, nurses and nursing assistants from two different floors took part in the demonstration. The sit‑in took place from 4:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m.
Similar actions were carried out several times during 2018 by nurses who realized, upon arriving at work, that they would have to work at reduced staffing levels due to a lack of personnel. In May 2018, ICSUSS MCQ responded by issuing a disciplinary notice to some twenty nurses who had taken a sit‑in about ten days earlier (Jan 18, 2020).
Carseland, Alberta, Canada: The labour action was the latest in a series of escalations that took place this week in a dispute between workers at the Regina refinery and their employer FCL, the wholesaler that provides fuel and food to member co‑ops across Western Canada. (Calgary Co‑op is one of those members, though the retailer has announced plans to source its groceries – but not its fuel – from another supplier as of April of this year).
On Monday in Regina, where Unifor members have erected a barricade around the refinery and have been preventing fuel and chemical trucks from accessing the facility for two weeks, 13 picketers were arrested and charged with mischief. A judge had previously fined the union $100,000 for violating a court injunction limiting how long the picketers can hold up traffic in and out of the facility.
FCL locked out more than 700 refinery workers in early December after they voted overwhelmingly in favour of a strike. The main issue is pension plan changes the company wants to make.
The company has said it will not return to the bargaining table as long as Unifor maintains a blockade at the refinery or any other Co‑op location. Vic Huard, executive vice‑president of FCL, said the Carseland demonstration marks the first time the union has extended its direct job action to a location outside of Saskatchewan (Jan 25, 2020).
English public elementary schools across the province are closed today
as the Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario (ETFO) holds a
province-wide strike, and many teachers have been marching outside the
Ministry of Education offices on Front Street.
Over 1,000 striking teachers picketed the Ministry of Education in downtown Toronto today, holding signs with sayings such as "Elementary education needs funding not cuts," "Education cuts hurt kids," and "Standing up for quality education".
A total of 83,000 ETFO members are on strike today across the province, and close to one million kids are out of school (Feb 6, 2020).
London, UK: RMT union bosses today ordered two 24‑hour walkouts on the Bakerloo line
in an escalating dispute over timetable changes.
The line, used by more than 300,000 passengers a day,
is an RMT stronghold and major disruption is forecast.
Two 24‑hour walkouts by RMT train drivers will take place starting from 11.59 on Friday 21 February lasting until the same time on Saturday 22 February; then again from 11.59 on Sunday 23 February until the same time on Monday, 24 February. The timing has been deliberately chosen to hit service on the line which runs between Elephant & Castle via Oxford Circus to Stanmore over four days at the expense of only two days lost pay.
Drivers from the rival union Aslef could also refuse to cross picket lines adding to the disruption.
The union say the new timetable changes are “unworkable” and putting drivers under “intolerable levels of personal stress". It has refused to rule over further strikes if the dispute is not settled. In a ballot driver members voted 95 per cent for action (Feb 8, 2020).
Prince George, BC, Canada - After targeting Carseland, Winnipeg, and Moose
Jaw, Unifor’s fight to defend pensions under attack from Federated
Co‑operatives Limited (FCL) has extended to secondary pickets at a
Northern B.C. oil refinery.
"As long as Unifor members are under attack, it will
not be business as usual for FCL. A business that profits $3 million per
day can easily afford to end this dispute with a fair contract for
workers," said Jerry Dias, Unifor National President. "We are bringing
this fight to every part of Canada where Co‑op operates".
The Prince George Refinery has been supplying Co‑op properties in British Columbia with increased amounts of gasoline and diesel fuel during the lockout of Unifor members at the Co‑op Refinery in Regina. (Feb 13, 2020)
This is a new translation of the opening passage from our retrospective of the October Revolution, “Bilan d’une revolution”, first published in French for the fiftieth anniversary of the uprising.
“What is now happening to Marx’s theory has, in the course of history, happened repeatedly to the theories of revolutionary thinkers and leaders of oppressed classes fighting for emancipation. During the lifetime of great revolutionaries, the oppressing classes constantly hounded them, received their theories with the most savage malice, the most furious hatred and the most unscrupulous campaigns of lies and slander. After their death, attempts are made to convert them into harmless icons, to canonize them, so to say, and to hallow their names to a certain extent for the ‘consolation’ of the oppressed classes and with the object of duping the latter, while at the same time robbing the revolutionary theory of its substance, blunting its revolutionary edge and vulgarizing it.” When he wrote these lines at the beginning of the State and the Revolution, Lenin certainly did not think that the same “destiny” would be reserved for “his thought” and, even more so, for this brilliant Red October to which he would soon indissolubly attach his “name”.
It was with the “wildest fury” that the armies of the international bourgeoisie threw themselves upon the communist dictatorship of Russia, the centre of this world proletarian revolution, whose first fortress and torch they proclaimed themselves, and whose fate they would never have thought to separate from their own. For years, the guards of Capital have maintained, all around the Russian powder keg, the cordon sanitaire of military intervention and political counter-attack. There is nothing that the bourgeois counterrevolution has not attempted to prevent the October revolutionary flame from spreading to the citadels of the capitalist West and destroying them in the fire of the Socialist Revolution. Where weapons were not enough (and they were not enough!) the heavy artillery of lies and slander was mobilized; and even so, the servile army of opportunism launched an assault behind the barrage of Capital. And for good reason. The bourgeoisie knew better than any other class than October was a living example, a vivid “lesson”; that it was not a local or national event, that there, in Russia, a ring of the unique chain of its world domination had just been broken. Since then, fifty years have passed, the bourgeoisie of all countries has forgotten its terror of the time and, for it, October has gone down in history; it is a museum piece, a body without a “soul”, a weapon with a blunt edge. Nothing prevents the commemoration anymore: October is dead. At least we believe so.
The heirs and successors of the worst adversaries of the Bolsheviks of those distant years can sing his praises with impunity; the heirs and successors of this Stalinism, which began its career so well by mummifying Lenin’s body and sanctifying his “name” after having distorted the “content” of his doctrine, can commemorate him at their ease, just as the leaders of the classical bourgeois powers, they have put October in the archives. From a crucial moment in the tragic history of the world class struggle, have they not made the birth date of the modern State of all Russia? Have they not made this flag, this torch of world proletarian revolution, the rallying point for strictly national interests? October belonged to the international proletariat: they made it the thing of Capital that accumulates behind the well defended borders of Russia. This fiery teaching to the new generations of the oppressed class, they transformed into a miserable catechism for the “young lions” of one country among many others. For them, October’s origins are Russian, exclusively Russian, and the same goes for its historical results. October is fifty years old: they go to the mausoleum because they have acquired consciousness, they don’t go there to remember and learn. October is dead. May she rest in peace.
In 1918, Lenin exclaimed: “The Russian revolution is only one example, a first step in a series of revolutions.” And in 1919: “In essence, the Russian revolution was a dress rehearsal... of world proletarian revolution.” For the band of mystifiers whose arid “collegial” brain gave birth to their Theses for the fiftieth anniversary of the great October Socialist Revolution, this one is, on the contrary, only an exception to the rule, a unique historical phenomenon that will never be repeated. Also, once its roots, which resided in the global antagonism between the bourgeoisie and the proletariat, had been cut off, the accountant-archivist on duty could well say, with a “expert” coldness, that October “exercised a very profound influence on the whole successive course of world history” (world history is no longer the history of the classes, but the history of all, priests and henchmen included). It is exactly in the same way that they could say that a rock detached from the mountain has set others in motion, mechanically, by simple force of inertia, without imposing a determined direction on them, leaving them “free” to follow their own national, exclusive, inimitable path towards a goal that they ignore since it is up to the mysterious national genius, the national history with all its traditions and its Pantheon, to define it. With its origins, its nature as the collective heritage of a single class, its international perspectives thus classified in the museum of a false and frozen history, October is dead, and well dead. At least they believe so. But it would only take Lenin’s two sentences above to remind us that this is not how the Marxists fought the gigantic October battle or how they commemorated it year after year, not how the Bolsheviks thought and felt. Marxism would not be a “guide to action”, as is repeated ad nauseum, reversing the meaning of the formula, if it were not a general and complete conception of the movement for the emancipation of the working class (“the proletariat has no country”, let alone a program!), and if it did not seek, in the great periods of upheaval when the classes are grabbing arms for a merciless struggle, to verify its forecasts, drawing from the facts themselves the momentum that will give more prominence to these forecasts, that will endow them with flesh and blood and, thanks to the persuasive force of historical facts, will make them irrevocable. In 1848‑49 and 1871, it was through contact with real class battles that Marx and Engels sharpened the weapons of criticism, battles whose outcome did not concern the French or German proletariat, but the world proletariat. With his gaze fixed on Petrograd, which was not only Petrograd, but London, Berlin or Paris, Lenin returned in The State and the Revolution to these brilliant checks of doctrine and, as in the whole period from 1905 to 1917, he foresaw their translation into the real events of history, not only Russian, but worldwide, to the grandiose sketch drawn in 1850 by the Address of the Central Committee of the Communist League, from which Trotsky had borrowed the famous battle cry of “Permanent Revolution”. After a century and a half of assaults from heaven and fallout from hell, which Marxists have exalted and cursed, it is always the definitive confirmation of a universal doctrine and program that we have sought, and what we have drawn from it is a certainty of the future, caring less about commemorating the past than it is about another way to bury it.
Let them all imagine, then, that October is dead, that they killed it. It is up to the revolutionary proletariat to rediscover it and throw it in the face of all our enemies!