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.

A hundred years after the foundation in Leghorn of the Communist Party of Italy. A Section of the Communist International.

The war for revolution and a class dictatorship continues without respite.

Work on organizing the party of the international communist revolution proceeds incessantly

Of that far-off and fatal January 1921 we shall read, see, hear accounts, reconstructions, judgements, every shade of opinion of every sort.  They all share the unconfessed and unconfessable fear that on the scenario of contemporary and future events, we may see the reappearance of the economic, social and political conditions that made it necessary to organize our class into that Party of the World Communist Revolution, of which the party founded in Leghorn was the Italian section.

We shall not add our voice to the mummified psalm singers with a nostalgia for heroic past times, made exceptional and therefore collocated forever in collections of opportunities irretrievably lost.  We are not interested in commemorating; we are not interested in re-evoking.

Our war, today’s war, that is being prepared and prepares to fight the battles of tomorrow, does also pass through the coming up again, in the now century-old history of the proletarian movement, of the decisive role played as an organized, pugnacious force by the comrades who preceded us.  And for a detailed knowledge of the struggle of those years, we refer the reader to the volumes of our Storia della Sinistra Comunista (History of the Communist Left). Our, we repeat and insist, because we have learnt, at the cost of the lives of those who fell in the Proletarian Revolution, that if there may exist a “neutral” analytical account of the temporal chain of events or a “hagiography” of the figures who experienced them, the political use made of history for the militant preparation of the cadres of the revolutionary class organ also passes through the appropriation of the collective and purposely anonymous experience of those, before and like us, who declared war (permanent up until victory) on the horrendous world of Capital.

Our history is not and never will be the hypocritical neutrality of the academic. Instead, it is a vital part of restoring the revolutionary class organ, which comes about through sharing the experiences of those who, by accompanying and guiding our class in the historical battle between revolution and counter-revolution, have managed to profit from the (up to now!) scarce victories and not surrender in the dramatic (but momentary!) defeats. 

For us communists working on the hard job of restoring the doctrine of the revolutionary organ in contact with the working class, outside any personal and electoral politicking, Leghorn 1921 (just as the organization two years previously of the Communist International, where those tenacious comrades, then only in their early thirties, were not simple spectators but enthusiastic and keenly aware participants) is not an anniversary, but a stage in the revolutionary process.

A point of arrival that verifies and confirms the capacity and validity of historical materialism as a science of the social becoming in which humanity is an un/aware protagonist, and at the same time a point of departure for completing and organizing with increasing efficiency the work of directing and developing the social becoming that weighs on the shoulders of our class.

As materialists, called upon today to pursue that work so harshly put to the test by the defeat of the revolutionary wave which, in the early years of the nineteen hundreds seemed about to finally overcome bourgeois order, we have fully understood that to make the recovery of the revolutionary effort operational, it is necessary to keep well away from the illusion that it is sufficient to memorize, repeat, reproduce pieces of text and programmes as if they were mantras, “surahs  of the Qur'an” or spiritual exercises.

Thus, in the following, we suggest once again the ten points on the basis of which the Communist Party of Italy – Section of the Communist International was born in Leghorn, as a weapon and guide for the battle that our class will be called upon to fight in different, and far more difficult conditions.  Conditions and difficulties that will allow the revolutionaries of tomorrow to render operational the full, international communist programme that we have promoted and defended up to now beneath the blows of the counter-revolution.

“1- In the present capitalist régime a growing contrast develops between the productive forces and the relations of production, giving rise to an antithesis of interests and the class war between the proletariat and the ruling bourgeoisie.”

This is the incipit that opens the programme of the Communist Party of Italy – Section of the Communist International, a statement that takes up and defends the basis of the materialistic concept of history: “In the social production of their existence, men enter into determined, necessary relations independent of their will, namely into relations of production which correspond to a determined degree of development of the material productive forces.” (K.Marx, “Preface to 1859” in A Contribution to the Critique of Political Economy).

Relations of production. Relations between human beings – members of a species of mammals, animals ethologically grouped in packs, in which the conditions of survival and reproduction of each are the cause and effect of the capacity of them all to collaborate on the solution of problems that the surrounding world poses for the satisfaction of the needs of each of them.  Relations which, in the framework of the capitalist mode of production, express themselves in the conflict between the two main classes: the bourgeoisie, which has a private monopoly of the ownership of the forces of production (including the human labour force) and the product of their use in modern associative, social work, and the proletariat, i.e. the immense mass deprived of any factor of production apart from its own pyscho-physical individual labour which, precisely because of its associative use in the production process, is the origin of all “wealth.”

But what is this conflict? Of course its origin is evident in this age when, with everyone reduced to an individual, the difference between living and dying is mediated by money: the survival of the great majority lies in the elementary need to wrest a price for labour that is increasingly adequate for the purchase of everything needed.

Yet the modern class struggle expresses another objective that starts out from the need for a fairer division of the wealth produced by associative work in order to break the monopoly on the ownership of the productive forces and their product.

As the “wealth” derives from associative, social production, the objective is a mode of production in which its division, distribution and consumption may also be social and associative: communism

“2- The present production relations are protected and defended by the power of the bourgeois State which, founded on the representative system of democracy, constitutes the organ for defending the interests of the capitalist class.”

The modern world of capitalist production, as we know it in its fully imperialist phase, is the outcome of a long and violent process, sustained by the bourgeoisie, which, using the progressive power of the productive forces it gradually instigated, invented, applied, upset the relations of production existing up to then (given its European, above all “feudal” origins), replacing them with those that now imprison us:  salaried work, the organization of production units into companies, free commerce and the ownership and complete transferability of property by means of money…and all the rest.  

To defend them, give them unending guarantees and narrate them as the natural expression and extension of the “human essence”, it then set itself up as the ruling class, organizing the contemporary bourgeois State.

As for all States (tools of the classes that have in turn ruled the scene in known history), the main function of ruling is the monopoly of violence, which is exercised by means of a permanent army and police force. The latter is also a tool of another monopoly, that of justice, held by the “judiciary power” which takes upon itself the task of ensuring that the laws are applied, of sanctioning any breaches and justifying “equality before the law”...  Rule is exercised moreover, and better, by forms and institutions that contrast and try to prevent economic and social conflict, or maintain them within the limits of political clashes compatible with the existing order of things: whilst the police forces oversee and are let loose ferociously and with impunity in the squares and the streets, the bureaucracy of the police headquarters and prefectures, those of local authorities, party officials and (above all) the officially recognized trade unions present themselves as the organs of mediation, arbitrators and guarantors of the respect for rules that is supposed to guarantee the “common good”.   

To exercise and disguise its class rule, the bourgeoisie narrates itself as the source and guarantee of well-bring for everyone, as the “general class”: significantly, one of its main reference texts is entitled The Wealth of Nations.  The organization of this class rule is rooted in the constitution of the national State: it mystifies the stratification of (and amongst) the classes by inventing the “citizen”, who is an individual undertaking, the owner of that political right and, as such, “free” to take it into the marketplace of democratic representation.  But just like the “free market” that Business and Economy graduates fantasize about, it is a mystification of the monopoly of bourgeois ownership of money, land, machines, raw materials, goods and services (that same ownership that imposes the sale of our labour to a single buyer), as democratic representation, too, is a mystification of the bourgeois monopoly on the exercise of political power.  And just as the “free” worker enjoys the “freedom” to sell his labour to the organization of Capital that will make use of him at its will (otherwise he remains “free” to die of hunger under the stars or live off charity), so in his guise of “free” citizen, he enjoys the freedom to delegate his potential political ability to the institutions of bourgeois representation.  In both cases, reduced to an isolated individual, he is bound to lose, to hand over to others, to alienate himself from two of the aptitudes that characterize us as human beings: work, or the ability to produce and re-produce by acting on the resources given by the natural world, and sociality, or the possibility to find joint solutions to the problems posed by the natural world and by associative life.

“3- The proletariat cannot break or modify the system of capitalist relations of production that its exploitation derives from, without the violent overthrowing of bourgeois power.”

The modern class struggle is not an invention of rowdy good-for-nothings, envious of other people’s goods.  The antithesis between capital and labour is a proven, scientific fact that is also acknowledged precisely by the bourgeois class, which spends 99% of its political and ideological energies (the structure of rule, indeed) on maintaining it and containing it within the confines of its own survival.  Acknowledging it just means recording the bare fact of what the proletariat is in this society: a class in itself, indeed a mass of individuals, a tool of the capitalist mode of production.

But this antagonism is also something else and more powerful, if, beyond being acknowledged, it is analysed and taken to the extreme.  It is the cause that obliges and determines our class to free itself from exploitation: to become a class of its own, i.e. the army for the violent destruction of bourgeois state power. 

This third point announces and reiterates the condemnation of the enemy, which, having sown and reaped artfully in the rank and file of our class, rises up every time the most intelligent part of the bourgeoisie cultivates the illusion that it is possible to limit the antagonism between capital and labour with a fairer re-distribution of wealth and an improvement in living and working conditions or cultural advance: reformism.  Reformism that was raised and fattened in the parties of the “Second” (socialist?) International, on the basis of the apparent, unstoppable economic expansion of the passage from Capital’s as yet liberal/liberist phase to the fully monopolist/imperialist one. The very reformism responsible, in 1914, for the sacrifice of the proletariat on the altar of the Fatherland/Nation, in chains, as a class in itself, in the butchery of the inter-imperialist world war.  The very reformism that, when the revolutionary rebellion exploded, proved to be a perfect tool of bourgeois reaction and conservatism, of the reinforcement of bourgeois power and the consolidation of the bourgeois State.

“4- The essential organ of the proletariat’s revolutionary struggle is the political class party. The communist party, by uniting within it the most advanced and aware part of the proletariat, unites the efforts of the working-class masses, turning them from the fight for their group interests and contingent results, towards the fight for the revolutionary emancipation of the proletariat.  The party has the task of spreading revolutionary consciousness in the masses, of organizing the material means of action and directing the proletariat in carrying forward the fight.”

It is material conditions that oblige the proletariat to fight: objective conditions that are not always the same but dynamic variables, like any natural phenomenon. Conditions that express relations, the outcome of which depends on the ability to understand and direct them.

Through its experiences of clashes with the ruling class and its apparatus, our class changes from a bunch of individuals to becoming the subject of political action when a significant quota organizes itself into a Party.

Not, however, any party, any old apparatus representing the interests of the workers in the framework of the existing order or a workers’ party which, by acknowledging the relations of Capital as natural and exalting the function of “productive work”, makes the “working class condition” eternal: those cursed reformist parties that exploit and imprison proletarian needs and energies, perpetuating bourgeois rule.

The party that is needed is the revolutionary party.  The party that brings together and organizes our class’s best energies.  The party founded with the Communist Party Manifesto of 1848, whose reason for being will not come to an end until the historical path of our proletarian and communist revolution has been concluded:  i.e. the party of those who “fight to achieve the aims and immediate interests of the working class but in the present movement simultaneously represent the future of the movement itself,” and who “distinguish themselves by the fact that, on the one hand, in the various national battles, they bring to the limelight and stress the common interests of the entire proletariat independently of nationality and who, on the other hand, in the various stages of development that the struggle between the proletariat and the bourgeoisie goes through, always represent the interests of the movement as a whole.”

What is indicated by Leghorn 1921, confirmed by and in the experience of those years of international struggle, is that this party cannot be improvised on the barricades of an ongoing proletarian rebellion, precisely because its guiding function is not the fruit of metaphysical mechanics in the inevitable course of history.

Organization into the form of a revolutionary party is necessary because, even in periods when our class passively undergoes bourgeois rule, its function is to prepare it for revolution, so that it can then be directed and guided once the revolutionary process has been engaged.

Communists don’t make the revolution, the proletarian class makes the revolution. The Communist Party can direct the class in the revolutionary process only if it has prepared the class for the revolution day by day, in the daily contact with and in its struggles, in the years and decades before the revolution, outside and against the demagogic political rot).

Communist militants can’t allow themselves the luxury of waiting for the party to fall out of the heavens or, worse, emerge from the guts of the class struggle.  Communists must struggle, fight, act: work to defend, develop and apply communist theory, the communist principles, the communist programme with tactics and an organization that are as clear and well defined as possible.

“5- World war, caused by the irremediable inner contradictions of the capitalist system, which have produced modern imperialism, has opened up a crisis of disaggregation of capitalism, in which class war can only be resolved by armed conflict between the working-class masses and the power of the bourgeois States.”

Through its “cultural operators” (from teachers at all levels of education to writers of literature, passing through ministers of all cults, technicians, scientists, graduates in Business and Economy, right up to all those working in the world of mass communications), the bourgeoisie narrates its world as being “the only possible world”: perhaps not yet “the best of all possible worlds” in view of the constant effort to “reform it”, but in any case a world where market dynamics generate “overall balance between the needs” (progressively satisfied  by the plethora of goods produced) of everyone (money permitting), and the organization of the State guarantees “the good of the national community”.

During periods of economic expansion, as after 1871 or the one experienced between 1945 and the second half of the Nineteen Seventies, this was a plausible mystification: but the very dynamics of the Capital’s functioning and its private way of dividing out and distributing the products of associative work inexorably unmask it.  The organization of industry, the plethora of goods, state organization generate the need to procure raw materials, place products, win and create markets … and, naturally, reduce the cost of labour to the minimum.

There is no peaceful equilibrium, but instead a dynamic of trade wars, diplomatic agreements, wars between States.  Increasingly ferocious wars which, like the one that broke out in 1914, are even able to unmask the mystification of the national community and reveal its real function as a machine of violent control by the bourgeois State; wars that, before resolving themselves into the mass destruction of people and things, from which the cycle of accumulation of capital can then start again, may set the conditions for a military crisis (defeats and victories paid for by gallons of proletarian blood), which in turn can evolve into a social and political crisis into which the class war penetrates right up to the point where the proletariat is forced into revolution.

These are the “historical turning points”, which and for which the Communist Party has been organizing, preparing and fighting for some time.  In the awareness that there is no guarantee of victory, since the revolution opens with a day’s uprising but proceeds through battles in a war that goes on for years.

“6- After overthrowing bourgeois power, the proletariat can only organize itself into a ruling class with the destruction of the bourgeois state apparatus and the establishment of its own dictatorship, that is by grounding State representations upon the productive bases and excluding the bourgeois class from any political rights.”

“7- In the proletarian State the form of political representation is the system of workers’ (workers’ and agricultural labourers’) Councils, already formed in the Russian Revolution, the beginning of the world proletarian Revolution and the first stable realization of the dictatorship of the proletariat.”

These two points unequivocally define the objective of the revolutionary process: the overthrowing of bourgeois power.  They reaffirm the need to eliminate the political rule of the bourgeoisie without the ambiguity of the parties of the Second International, which “confused” the overthrowing of power with “the winning of power”, i.e. of public powers.  This confusion turns into, first, complicity with the personal politics of the parties which, in the mediation of representative democracy, represent the interests of various factions of the bourgeoisie, and then conservation, the reactionary replacement of those political figures in the same institutes (naturally without moving even one official in the whole bureaucratic, administrative, military and judicial “machinery”…) Confusion, ambiguity, complicity that will from then on characterize every enemy of our class, also and above all when they claims to interpret, represent, defend our interests, even in a conflictual manner, in the framework of the national State.

On the contrary, overthrowing the institutions of bourgeois power and setting up the dictatorship of our class means eliminating the bourgeoisie and removing any of its “rights”, both as a social class and as a sum of individuals and functions.

The Leghorn programme is extremely clear here.  The new “representations” are not to be based on the interests of a generic citizen, but on those of the people who are part of the production base: i.e. who take part in associative work.  To avoid any misunderstanding or stupid accusations of male chauvinism, we repeat that for us all proletarian women are a full and integral part of associative work, also, and particularly, those whom the bourgeois division of labour has forced into domestic work or the work of care.

During this revolutionary moment the party directs the class, organizing and giving content to the workers’ Councils, the basic institution for our class rule, the dictatorship of the proletariat: an experience matured and modified by the revolution in Russia, acclaimed as the beginning of the world revolution.

The lesson of 1921 is quite clear: the revolution overthrows the institutions that characterize the bourgeois State as a national community and organizes itself into institutions that spark off freedom from national confinement, even if, for the moment, they limit themselves to controlling a particular territory.

The system of workers’ Councils during the revolution in Russia was not some strange form of “socialism in salse tartare” but the first experiment in the universal form of transition to communism (first lower and then higher) by a new humanity freed from the prisons of the bourgeois nations.

“8- The necessary defence of the proletarian State against all counter-revolutionary attempts can only be ensured by taking all means of agitation or political propaganda away from the bourgeoisie and by the armed organization of the proletariat in order to resist internal and external attacks.”

In order to avoid misunderstandings, at this point the characteristics and function of the proletarian State are established, as it becomes a tool with which the proletariat pursues the work of destroying bourgeois relations of production, starting necessarily by reinforcing the new military and political institutions.

Just as, before the insurrection, the party prepares the class for revolutionary uprising and, while the process of insurrection is going on, guides it towards the revolutionary seizing of power, in both cases qualifying itself as the only organ able to constitute it as a class in its own right, in the same way it leads it in the exercising of power, as the only organ to direct the institutes it dominates.

The State of the dictatorship of the proletariat will equip itself with means of political control that will prevent the inevitable resistance of the apparatus spreading bourgeois practices, ideologies and forms of organization.  Of course, intuitively the need to eliminate the “remains of the past” can be understood but it is more difficult, especially for those who have not grasped and do not wish to grasp the material basis for human relations, to understand that the dictatorship will have to keep a firm vigil to stop new nuclei from causing the eternal principles of the bourgeois ideology to re-appear in the fabric of the productive forces.

And so strictly controlled means of repression will be needed, re-organized by trustworthy elements, sufficiently well prepared and aware of the necessary action.

The same experience of those years in which, under the direction of the Bolshevik Party in Russia, the ingenuity and uncertainty of the Paris Commune was being overcome, demonstrated the need for those tools: from October 1917 right up to 1922, the first State guided by the proletariat found itself attacked and besieged by all the powers that had been at war with one another up until then, while it was still defending itself from the armies of bourgeois and petit-bourgeois Tsarist resistance.

Today, having experienced the drama of the defeat and fighting the backlashes of counter-revolution, we can and must add something more.  The next State guided by the proletariat must be a tool of the international battle of the proletariat.

The party that directs the institutions, from the workers’ Councils to the Red Army, must be an international class organ: a World Communist Party which organizes, centralizes, directs every national segment in which the bourgeoisie has always imprisoned our class brothers and sisters.

From a technically military point of view, the Red Army will not limit itself to defending the first proletarian fortresses, but as an advance unit of the proletarian army, will and must be able to “leave the fortress” at the right moment and under the most appropriate conditions, to back up the international revolutionary class war.

“9- Only the proletarian State can systematically actuate all the successive measures for intervening in the relations of social economy through which the capitalist system will be replaced by the collective management of production and distribution.”

“10- As an effect of this economic transformation and the consequent transformations of all activity pertaining to social life, once the class divisions of society have been eliminated, the need for the political State will also start to disappear and its mechanisms will be reduced to the rational administration of human activity.”

These two last points in the Leghorn Programme sum up and point to the tasks of economic transformation of the State institutions in the dictatorship of the proletariat, guided and directed by the World Communist Party.

There is no trace of Utopia in the communist perspective indicated by dialectic materialism.  The measures gradually proposed by the party and realized by the proletariat acting in the State institutions of their dictatorship will not “build” communism according to a “plan” conceived and safeguarded by a clique of mystic intellectuals, technicians or scientists…. The proletarian energies and capacities gathered by and in the science of the social revolution in the Communist Party have the sole task of guiding and putting into practice the “guidelines” which, by dismantling the bourgeois relations of production, may calibrate the forces of production, organizing them in the best possible way for satisfying the material needs and those relating to the associative life of our species.

Having secured the victory of our class and the control of the proletarian State in a more than significant part of the planet, the time will come to give the first rules of a more political than economic nature in the strict sense of the terms.  “The proletariat will use its political dominion to remove all capital from the bourgeoisie, to centre all the tools of production in the hands of the State, i.e. of the proletariat organized as the ruling class, and in order to multiply as quickly as possible the forces of production.”  This is what was emphasized by the 1848 Manifesto, when the forces of production were still “scarce and scattered” and the dominion of “dead capital” (mechanisation, plethora of goods, exploitation of the land and the subsoil, money “crystalized” as financial capital…) over “live capital” (the workforce and thus the general living conditions of the proletariat) had not yet reached the destructive, planetary dimensions they have today.

Precisely because we are not “the caretakers of Marxism” but the perpetrators of dialectic historical materialism, we know that the day after the next proletarian victory, centralization will be less of an effort and quicker and, instead of multiplying the forces of production, it will be a matter of re-ordering and re-dimensioning them.  In fact our Party, in a head-on clash with Stalinism in 1952 (the Forlì Meeting, reported in the first 1953 issue of our Italian journal “Il Programma Comunista”) stated: “But also with respect to what is to be done in the economy after an “effective” political revolution that activates the dictatorship of the proletariat in countries that have already exhausted the formation of industrial capitalism, an antithesis is established between the inane agitation of all activists and what the newly victorious proletariat must achieve.  It is impossible to sum up this somehow new achievement in a few lines, but with a copy of quotations from the Marxist texts, it was famously demonstrated, coherently with party doctrine, that the usual Soviet-style plans for the development of the economy and national production, or those that are in reality capitalist despite being proletarian by name, are countered by an original “plan for the destruction of capitalism in production and distribution,” describing the interventions for modifying capitalist economy that are not yet a construction of socialism or communism, since we are still in the first of the three stages of society, that of transition, to be followed by inferior and later superior communism.”

With this “clarification”, the indication in the Manifesto acquires greater vigour: “Of course this may only happen, at first, through despotic intervention in property rights and in the bourgeois relations of production, i.e. through measures that appear to be insufficient and scarcely consistent from an economic point of view; but as movement occurs they reach beyond their own limits and are inevitable as the means for upturning the production system as a whole.

In directing proletarians in the institutions of their dictatorship, the communist Party will have the hard and difficult task of indicating for the first time in the “pre-history” of the class society, the objectives, means and methods that progressively and as swiftly as possible may eliminate any “argument” regarding the social division of “productive and reproductive” work; it will have the task of making class rule by any class useless and superfluous, since there will no longer be any need for classes to exist.

The extinction of the proletariat, the extinction of the State, the extinction of the Party.  Once again the Manifesto: “When the class differences have disappeared in the course of evolution, and all production is concentrated in the hands of associated individuals, what is public loses its political nature.  In a strict sense, political power is the power of one class organized to oppress another.  By necessarily uniting as a class in the battle against the bourgeoisie, becoming the ruling class by means of a revolution and, as the ruling class, forcefully abolishing the old relations of production, at the same time it abolishes the conditions for the existence of classes in general and its own dominion as a class.  The old bourgeois society with its classes and antagonism between classes is replaced by an association in which the free development of each individual is a condition for the free development of everyone.”

In other words:

“In a higher phase of communist society, after the servile subordination of individuals to the division of labor has disappeared, and therefore also the contrast between intellectual and physical labor; after work has become not only a means of life, but also the first need of life; after the productive forces have also grown with the general development of individuals and all the sources of social wealth flow in all their fullness – only then can the narrow bourgeois juridical horizon be overcome and society can write on its flags: FROM EACH ACCORDING TO HIS ABILITY, TO EACH ACCORDING TO HIS NEEDS" (Marx, Critique of the Gotha Program, 1875).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             January 2021


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