Friday, 29 September 2023

WHAT DISTINGUISHES OUR PARTY: The political continuity which goes from Marx to Lenin, to the foundation of the Communist Party of Italy (Livorno, 1921); the struggle of the Communist Left against the degeneration of the Communist International, against the theory of „socialism in one country“, against the Stalinist counter-revolution; the rejection of the Popular Fronts and the Resistance Blocs; the difficult task of restoring the revolutionary doctrine and organization in close interrelationship with the working class, against all personal and electoral politics.

The question of power

It is still too soon to tell whether autumn 2021 will indeed bring with it a real return of proletarian struggles that amount to something more than the desperate cry of political impotence and solitude.

The economic crisis, which precedes the pandemic and health crisis and, if anything, has been made keener and aggravated by it, continues to strike harsh blows:  factories shut down, displacements, layoffs, violent aggression by the bosses and by the State… But around the world there is no lack of episodes of intolerance and even insubordination against institutions and repressive anti-proletarian measures of various sorts and with various objectives, some of which introduced using the pretext of the pandemic.

We have dealt with this topic several times and pointed out the episodes, in Italy and elsewhere, which seem most significant to us, so we shall not repeat them here.

What we wish to emphasize is something different.

We are (and shall be for some time) facing intermittent outbreaks, followed by pauses and retreats:  whoever is under the illusion or gives the illusion that there may be a gradual, slow but constant return to radical economic and social antagonism at the best creates confusion and at the worst disarms and boycotts any revival of a real, authentic political struggle.

There are many reasons for these stop and start dynamics. The main one, however, is that the iron heel of almost a century of counter-revolution continues to make its weight felt on the world proletariat, i.e. the unchallenged rule of the bourgeoisie, in its intersecting and interchangeable forms (democratic, nazi-fascist and Stalinist) - a counter-revolution which, well beyond the organised presence on the world stage of certain “actors” or others, has spread and cultivated theoretical, political and organisational disaggregation in the working class movement.  

As a result, faced with the systemic crisis that has been dragging on since the mid-nineteen-seventies, the international proletariat is still flailing around, mistrustful and disconcerted, in search of reference points other than those that have deluded, betrayed and abandoned it throughout this period.

Secondly, it is dramatically evident from the mass protest movements that have nevertheless occurred over these years (we are thinking mainly of the so-called “Arab springs”, clearly arising from the proletariat and then channelled into the various culs de sac of democratic-bourgeois politics by vociferous, more or less proletarianised half-classes, eternally terrified by the possibility that our class might return to the path of “self emancipation”), it is evident that the economic struggle of defence against the attack by the bosses and the State and the claim for better living and working conditions is not sufficient in itself to ripen into a revolutionary political struggle.

During the peaks and dips of social dynamics it is therefore imperative that the content and forms of the struggle should avoid slipping into obtuse demagogic maximalism, into a miserable, radical-style reformism destined to exhaust and disappoint the generous struggles of the proletariat.

In a letter dated 1852 to comrade Joseph Weydemeyer, Marx declared: “As far as I am concerned, the merit of having discovered the existence of classes and their reciprocal struggles in modern society is not mine.  Far before my time, bourgeois historians described the historical development of this class war and bourgeois economists the economic anatomy of it.  The new thing I have done is:  1. to demonstrate that the existence of classes is bound purely to determined historical phases in the development of production; 2. that the class war necessarily leads to the dictatorship of the proletariat; 3. that this same dictatorship merely constitutes a transition towards the abolition of all classes and a classless society.”

The class war necessarily leads to the dictatorship of the proletariat, not because this was set down by the red terror doctor, but because, when it breaks out, even just locally and for circumscribed and partial reasons, and when it clashes with the obtuse conservatism and limits of the institutions of bourgeois rule, it obliges the classes engaged in it to tackle the question of power

For our enemy and for the half classes that live off the wealth produced by the exploitation of salaried work, power is safe and sound and rooted in the consolidated government institutions in their thousand and one forms, in the monopoly of juridical power with the thousand and one nuances of law and above all in the monopoly of the violence exerted by their States.  Consequently, it is more difficult for our class, and doubtless more painful, to realise that without the prospect of totally upturning the balance of power, we shall continue to remain a group of poor souls, disunited and competing with one another in order to obtain the charity of a salary that makes it possible for us to survive. 

It is difficult if not impossible to understand that either the working class is revolutionary or it is nothing.  Yet, to carry the fight to the end, the rule of the bourgeoisie must be challenged, its institutions fought against and the fight organised to obtain new institutions, through which our class power may be exerted. 

We must be organised in a party:  not in any old workers’ party, capable merely of playing the part of slaves to the bourgeois institutions, but in the communist party, the party of those who distinguish themselves “from other proletarian parties by the mere fact of putting in first place and giving value to the common interests, independently of nationality, of the whole proletariat in the various national proletarian struggles: and on the other hand by the fact that they constantly uphold the interests of the whole movement, through the various phases of development it goes through in the struggle between the proletariat and the bourgeoisie” (Manifesto of the Communist Party, 1848).  Thus, the party that has managed to maintain revolutionary determination and hatred for any display of bourgeois dominion, with evidence of a constant struggle against all forms of counter-revolution; the party which, with its unity of theory, principles, programme, tactics and organisation, does not take the place of the whole body of the proletariat, but constitutes its militant organ.    

This objective of winning and managing power, which is certainly not immediate (it would be crazy and utopian, as well as demagogic to believe this or have it believed!), but which must be translated, starting right away,  into a fighting spirit that stops us from running into the blind allies of a vision and practice of pure and cowardly reformism, demonstrating to our class that any intermediate phase that is not directed towards this aim, but on the contrary rests content with more or less pitiful claims (or more or less arrogant and demagogic ones) addressed to the ruling classes and the bourgeois State, merely represents ominous anti-proletarian reformism, even when presented with the words and posture of menacing fighters.

The militant proletariat must feel that the achievement of objectives, however minimal (but necessary for survival) can only come as a consequence of a favourable balance of power to be established and defended in the course of daily struggles which (outside and against the bourgeois State’s organs of mediation) see it opposing the world of capital; and that the (temporary, limited, circumscribed) “power” deriving from this can lead to more drastic and definitive social change only if it is inspired by and directed towards a necessary conquest of real power that the whole of society is made to feel - that dictatorship of the proletariat of which Marx writes, the necessary point of arrival of an authentic and widespread class struggle. 

Without this, proletarians will continue to pay in blood for the generosity they demonstrate every day, in their smaller and greater fights for survival.

                                                                                                                                 September 2021


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