THE PROLETARIAN CLASS PARTY AND THE CURRENT ECONOMIC CRISIS OF GLOBAL CAPITALISM
(«Proletarian»; Nr. 6; October 2010)
The solid and monolithic perspective of the historic revolutionary struggle of the proletariat of the world under the leadership of the class party, for the conquest of political power, the destruction of the bourgeois state and the transformation of the capitalist economy into a socialist economy, is the only one which can put an end to a society entirely oriented towards the production and reproduction of capital through systematic extortion of surplus value by the ever-increasing exploitation of wage labor in every country.
1. Like all the most important financial crises of recent decades, the current financial crisis has touched the entire world: starting from the United States in July-August 2007, it then spread to Europe and Asia until violently striking the international financial system in October 2008. Its ravages have not yet finished, especially since the first serious problems in the productive economy began to appear in July (2008?). All the bourgeois experts then began to note the economic recession dreaded – by them – namely, the decline in overall production in general and industrial production in particular.
Unlike previous crises, the present crisis has been characterized so far by a slow but inexorable evolution. To take just the last twenty years, the crash of 1987 circled the world in 24 hours, and less severe crises such as the collapse of the Tech bubble in 2001 or that caused by the collapse of the Moscow stock exchange or that of the “Asian dragons” in the late 90’s developed rapidly.
Because of the importance of Wall Street to international finance, it is understandable that a crisis which breaks out in New York will have repercussions around the world, but this is not always the case: some financial crises have remained confined to the United States, such as the Savings and Loan crisis in the Reagan years or that issuing from the bankruptcy of a hedge fund (Long Term Capital Management) in 1998.
The slowness with which the current financial crisis developed is well described by the following series of events: the first big tremor occurred in the United States in the summer of 2007 with the famous subprime loan bubble that had been sold to the world’s banks, secondly that autumn in Great Britain with the collapse of Northern Rock bank (causing the first bank run in England for 80 years!) and in Germany, and then in early 2008 there was a collapse of stock markets at the same time as heavy losses of the French Société Générale as a result of speculation on the German market in February and March, the U.S.. financial problems culminated in the collapse of Bear Sterns bank before experiencing the bankruptcy of Lehman Brothers in the summer of 2008 and the rescue in extremis of various institutions.
The central banks and governments have intervened repeatedly at all the “stages” of this crisis to limit its severity and stop its spread. If they failed to prevent its development, however, they could delay it to cushion its most devastating effects on the productive economy (the so-called “real economy”) for a year now the recession has remained contained still.
From September to October there have been state interventions unprecedented in their importance and frequency in the United States, Great Britain, Ireland, Germany, Holland, Belgium and France. As always supporters of government intervention are countered by representatives of the international financial world who oppose it in the name of free enterprise and the market, many commentators and “experts” have gone on to speak of the end of capitalism or market economy and to call for a “refounded capitalism”. The protagonists of the crisis are almost unanimous in their emphasis on the need for tougher and better observed rules to prevent the deregulation which they said was the cause of current problems. But such remedies were of no avail in the great crises of the past (neither 1929, 1975 nor 1987) and they will not be any more useful today because the cause of capitalist crises is not the greed of financiers or noncompliance with regulations: the cause of crises lies in capitalism itself, in its need for self-valorization by developing production for profit.
One fact demonstrates the depth of the current crisis: the banks in difficulty are too large for the various States to allow them to fail, but they are to large for these States to be able to save them! Many of the largest banking groups in fact have a turnover higher than the Gross Domestic Production of their own country...
State intervention to rescue banks by increasing its own debt, in fact mean that banks are intervening in the State and not the reverse: the networks of interests represented by the most powerful banking groups thus use their power based on the pooling of national resources to defend themselves against the crisis.
2. In fact, the most serious consequences of the crisis have not yet completely become apparent, not only because it has not rocked the productive economy (official figures today do still provide for a recession in Western countries of 0.3 to 0.5% in 2008 and from -1 to -1.5% for 2009), but because the massive injections of capital which the states have and continue to carry out to safeguard the vitality of the capitalist system, are exerted on organizations already frayed by thirty years of “the credit economy” which has enabled the production rates of the so-called “emerging markets” like China, India, Brazil or Russia to grow at full steam but inevitably exacerbated the economic conditions of the old capitalism of countries like the United States, Western Europe and Japan.
The fear of a new 1929 that assails the capitalists with every major economic crisis of their system has material causes. Do not forget that the crises in the era of imperialism, that is to say in the era of the domination of finance capital are all crises of overproduction.
It is overproduction which throws the market into crisis, whether it is the market for consumer goods or capital markets (stock exchanges). The financial crisis is not a bubble in itself: it is the translation in terms of credit and capital valorization, from a crisis of overproduction; and its severity depends on the degree of market saturation and the drastic reduction of production: if commodities do not sell, the capital that has been invested in them cannot be valorized. All the circulation of capital in the financial system cannot lead to its valorization without the sale of commodities.
Can capitalism grow without experiencing overproduction? No, because the capitalist anarchy that continues to push the superabundant production of goods crashes up against the limits of the market where they must be sold.
The crisis of 1929-1932 was marked by several characteristics whose severity and concomitance signalled a steep decline in industrial production (-44% over the period, -17.5% per year), huge unemployment ( 23.5% corresponding to an increase of 8% per year), significant deflation in the producer price (-12% per year) and for consumer prices, heavy wages decreases (-56% decrease in weekly wages in industry), falling profits (-37.5% per year). It is these factors which define the catastrophic crisis of overproduction that led to World War II in which the major powers fought for a repartition of the world (1)
The current crisis has, for now at least, very different characteristics from that of 1929-1932. If from the stock market viewpoint there is little doubt that it is more serious than that at that time, this is not true for other criteria, while industrial production has experienced only small decreases (from -1.5% United States to -4.2% in Japan in August 2008 compared to August 2007), moderate increases in unemployment (6.1% United States 7.5% in the euro area, 4.2% in Japan), declining profits in the U.S. at a 3.8% annual rate in the second quarter, average wages are only 10% lower than at the outset of the crisis. This does not mean that the general economic conditions such as those of the proletarian masses are not going to be increasingly degraded, but it means that the combination of decisive factors of a catastrophic crisis, paving the way for a general war, have not yet formed.
3. In the age of imperialism, it is finance capital which dominates society and guides the economic activity of production and distribution in all countries. Finance capital is the supreme expression of the development of the capitalist mode of production: capital and its self-valorization are the starting point and end point, the beginning and end of production (Marx, Capital ). Production is only production for capital, which is formed in the organic composition of fixed capital or dead labor (facilities, machinery, raw materials, etc..) and variable capital or living labor (wages plus surplus value). In capitalism dead labor suffocates living labor, capital and its valorization take precedence over everything.
During its development and the formation of the worldwide market, Capitalism regularly leads to the overproduction of goods and capital; the market can no longer absorb all the commodities produced and the available capital.
It then enters into crisis, causing destruction of capital and goods, enterprises close, workers are thrown into the street. As wealth accumulates and increases at one pole of society, the wealthy bourgeois class, poverty accumulates at the other pole, the non-propertied proletarian class. The Marxist theory of increasing poverty is historically verified with every capitalist crisis. If you look at the world, it is impossible not to note that the ruling classes of the richest countries live off the backs – not only of their own proletariat – but also the proletariats of the poorest countries.
Erupting first in the financial sphere, the crisis affects the productive economy – the so-called “real economy” – which depends more and more on the extension of credit, causing the transformation of the current crisis into a general social crisis that promises to be of long duration. The breadth and depth of this process are determined by the extent of overproduction that has been accumulating for a long time in the major imperialist world centers. Directly or indirectly, all countries in the world are affected, none can escape. Bourgeois economists themselves admit that the current crisis is the “defeat of the market”, the “implosion” of the international financial system. They are right, not from the perspective of capitalism, but from the Marxist point of view. The market has never been the regulator of capitalist contradictions, competition has never been solely the jurisdiction of capitalist progress, it has always been the vehicle of crises.
Whatever the regulations with which the bourgeois are trying to regulate market forces and competition and to prevent the congenital contradictions of the capitalist mode of production, ultimately it is the laws of the market in periods of expansion which overthrow all these attempts and impose deregulation, that is to say the absolute freedom of capital concentrations and international financiers to maximize the valorization of capital regardless of future consequences. In fact this freedom inevitably encounters obstacles inherent in the capitalist mode of production itself: the volcano of production is confronted with the limits of the market, which despite the use of credit cannot expand as rapidly and the overproduction which results provokes the arresting of the self-valorization of capital which then enters into crisis.
4. The State intervention desired by the bourgeoisies of all countries to deal with financial and economic damage, only serves the interests of the ruling class. The State resources are used primarily to save the banks, modern temples of credit and usury, large industries and finally with the means that eventually remain, medium and small businesses.
The proletariat, for whom is reserved on the contrary a steady deterioration of living and working conditions, finds itself in the last rank.
y taking over the debts of major banks and financial institutions and causing them to fall on the general population, predominantly proletarian, it thus forces it into debt in order to restart production and capital valorization.
The U.S. central government has intervened in the current crisis as it has done only rarely in its history (e.g. 1929) and now an important part of the billions of dollars allocated to avert the crisis are used for nationalization or semi-nationalization of the largest U.S. banking groups.
It began in March with the assumption of the debt of Bear Stearns in July and continued with the two giants of housing finance, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, and then with the largest insurance company in the world, AIG.
But the “Black October” on the stock exchanges has forced the U.S. to follow the policy of nationalization already implemented in Great Britain and the rest of Europe, albeit with clenched teeth, to defend the national interests of the respective countries. This proves once again that the tendency towards concentration and centralization of the state economy in the early twenties by Italian fascism and developed in the thirties by German Nazism is an irreversible historical trend of capitalist development. Stalinism and Maoism in Russia and China have also followed the same path to accelerate the development of capitalism in their two major geo-historical areas.
The Communist Left was right in the twenties and at the end of World War II, when it said that democracy no longer had anything to do with the old liberal democracy, but is increasingly marked by economic and financial totalitarianism camouflaged with democratic trappings for the sole purpose of deceiving the proletariat for the past decades. This has been successful up until now.
5. The capitalist crisis pushes the world’s major financial groups and therefore the States that defend them, to develop joint measures to avert the crash of the international financial system and to combat the mistrust that usually spreads among investors who speculate in the stock market, but also among savings investors who deposit in banks where fresh money is sought. Supranational institutions, meetings and summits between top leaders of finance, central bank governors, ministers and other leaders of the major imperialist countries have worked to coordinate interventions in the financial markets so that the money continues to flow in international banking networks. Although it is serious and even though they are unaware of how long it will last, for the bourgeoisie the current crisis is a “hiccup” that can be solved by large injections of capital, and the restoration of “confidence” of investors, the crisis cannot modify the functioning of capitalism, the production and reproduction of capital. The search for solutions, even when internationally coordinated at the highest level, can never lead to more than a lull before the next crisis; as shown by the history of capitalism: 1929-1932 (the Great Depression) 1939-1945 ( the Second World War), 1973-75 (the so-called Great “Oil” Depression), 1981, 1987-89, 1991, 2001, etc... Beyond calls for calm and not panic, the haste of left and right-wing governments to repeat State intervention is an admission by the bourgeois themselves that this crisis will be long and it will have serious consequences on the lives of the majority of the population. Blood, tears and sacrifices are the order of the day for the bourgeois who lose their money to the profit of other bourgeois, and for the huge proletarian masses being crushed by debts they cannot repay – insufficient wages, insecurity and rising unemployment!
6. With its characteristic effrontery the ruling class demands a general increase in sacrifices of the proletariat whenever the bourgeois financial and economic system is in crisis; and plans to obtain these sacrifices in different ways: increased cost of living, reduced purchasing power of wages and falling wages, increased working hours, increased intensity of work, increased productivity of each moment of the production process. All this leads to a growing insecurity of life and labor, competition and increased discrimination amongst the proletariat (between recent immigrants and long time residents, men and women, etc..), and increases in workplace accidents. The crisis is used to destroy the proletariat’s ability to react to the deterioration of its living and working conditions and is used to justify anti-proletarian measures at all levels, both economic and social ( from schools to health services and general public services, to the role of unions in methods of social negotiation, all seasoned with a weighty cultural and religious obscurantism). The future of capitalism blocks any future prospect for the proletariat!
7. However, its long experience at political domination has taught the bourgeoisie that the proletariat cannot indefinitely put up with the increasing pressure on their lives and work. It envisions a mobilization of the proletariat that could explode into episodes of open social violence and therefore, alongside the increasingly prevalent factory despotism and social despotism, the bourgeoisie will continue to maintain, even if it is in a reduced way compared to the periods of economic expansion, a series of social welfare measures to calm the needs of a part of the working class (which contribute to divide it still more); as tools of consensus and social peace it will use the reformist parties and trade unions, volunteer organizations, and the religious structures which are always ready to divert the indignation and the reactions of the proletariat towards activities conceived so as to dissipate accumulated tensions and to offer up proletarians wrapped up in their own problems and mired in petit-bourgeois prejudices to the rapacity of capital . However the ruling class will never hesitate “to change horses” if the traditional parties and trade unions are not up to the task, as they have been up until now, of bending the proletariat to the changing requirements of Its Majesty: Capital.
8. The depth of the crisis reveals a strong tendencial falling rate of profit against which the bourgeoisie has only one decisive weapon: the increase in the rate of exploitation of surplus value from wage labor.
What the proletariat must expect, therefore, is an increase in the pressure of capitalism on everyday life and at the workplace, while the living and working conditions of proletarians will deteriorate still further, the precariousness and insecurity of their lives augmenting proportionately: moonlighting, underemployment, unemployment, low wages, job harassment and abuses are becoming more and more the rule! Competition amongst proletarians will rise even more, fueled by blackmail over employment and wages, exercised by the all-powerful bourgeoisie on the weakest sectors of the proletariat, immigrants, youth, women, and unorganized proletarians. The isolation of the proletariat will increase, led by the criminal policy of opportunism which require the compatibility of any workers’ demands with the requirements of the employer’s enterprise or the nation. The proletarians of the rich countries have been able to benefit up until now, even if it’s partly unconsciously, from the brutal exploitation inflicted by their greasy bourgeoisie on the hundreds of millions of proletarians of the so-called underdeveloped countries, looting entire continents. Thanks in part to the enormous profits earned by the exploitation of human and natural resources around the world, the bourgeoisie of the imperialist countries have managed to operate this system of social shock absorbers which formed the solid material basis of social consensus and the enslavement of proletariat to capitalism. Before any other proletariat, the proletariat of the rich countries has the task of breaking with the collaborationist practice to which the reformist parties and trade unions have been habituated, this is the precondition for finding the historical perspective that belongs to its class, the historical perspective where the class struggle is the focus of any action of immediate economic defense and independent political initiative.
9. After decades of postwar capitalist development, after other large countries like China, India, Brazil or post-’Soviet’ Russia have experienced growth accelerated to the point of representing not only markets coveted by the older imperialist countries, but even a hope of financial rescue, after the old European capitalist powers have formed a close economic and political alliance (EU) to compete with what is still the world’s greatest imperialist power (US) as well as the more aggressive young emerging countries (with China leading the first rank), the ruling classes face a period of crisis of at least twenty years which, in the absence of the outburst of a revolutionary social crisis, can only end in a third world war. Today the working class in rich countries is starting to realize that the near future will no longer be one of well-being and that the period of rising living standards will not return. They begin to realize that their destiny is looking more and more like the hundreds of millions of disinherited in the underprivileged countries of the periphery of imperialism who flee their country (ravaged by war, deprivation, poverty and hunger) to look elsewhere for opportunities for survival, even risking their lives in the journey. The proletarians of the rich countries are losing a whole series of “benefits” and “guarantees” that the democracies granted them after the victory over Nazism. These benefits, these guarantees were the price paid by the bourgeoisie to bribe the broad masses of the developed capitalist countries, but this price was paid in the blood of the workers of the world, in world wars and the imperial peace, in local wars and in ever more acute rivalries between capitalist countries: the millions of proletarians who fell during the last world slaughter, have joined the millions who died in local wars, in repressions, in famines, in exploitation.
10. The future which imperialist capitalism offers to the proletariat – the inevitable degradation of living and working conditions – will not be brief, but rather a long period of suffering and horror like entire populations in Africa, the Near, Middle and Far East or Latin America have already experienced . Until now the ruling classes of the most powerful countries have followed a method of management of the economy that gave them a huge advantage over the proletariat.
“The new method introducing planning in the management of capitalist economy – which in relation to the antiquated unlimited classical liberalism of the past constitutes a form of self-limitation of capitalism – leads to a levelling of the extortion of surplus value around an average” said our party text “Force, violence and dictatorship in the class struggle”, in 1946. The purpose of this form of self-limitation is not to reach a lower accumulation of capitalist profits in order to increase workers’ wages, if one side has tended to mitigate the most severe outbreaks of exploitation by employers by establishing forms of social assistance (the famous Welfare State, the State as beneficent provider), on the other, it allowed the bourgeoisie, especially in the richest countries, to plunder all the riches possible with some of these social welfare schemes being funded by the most brutal exploitation of the proletarians of the less developed countries.
The opulence of the West has always been an illusory goal for the proletarians of the peripheral countries, which during the sixties began to move in always growing numbers to the U.S. and Europe. The social shock absorbers were not extended to those proletarians who received a salary considered impoverished by the indigenous proletariat, but which, given the misery from which they came, appeared as a “privilege”. The competition between the proletarians of rich countries and proletarians of poor countries which formerly applied at a distance, is now taking place in the same cities, in the same factories, in the same shipyards.
And with increased competition between the proletarians, the more the self-limitation of the extortion of surplus value in capitalism becomes diminished, because if the proletariat is no longer an actual danger to the power of the bourgeoisie, it removes the brakes that were imposed on it and, racked by competition, launches into the frenetic quest for profit as quickly as possible, as has been the case during the last 15 years of financial “deregulation”.
11. In the period of capitalist expansion that followed World War ll, the common goal was that each national bourgeoisie, as a function of its actual forces at the end of the war, was to obtain a share of the wealth produced worldwide, thus contributing to the general development of capitalism. The two central poles of international capitalist conservation, the United States and Russia, have divided up two respective zones of influence, forming a veritable “Russo-American condominium of the world”. This helped boost the productive machine to a far higher rate than before the war, including in the countries which they had dominated, Germany and Japan (and Italy) have been the most striking example in the Western camp, as well as Poland or Czechoslovakia or China in the Soviet camp, not to mention a state like Israel implanted into a strategic region by imperialism. Throughout the postwar period which extends up until the general economic crisis of 1975, this “planned” method of management of the economy, on both sides of the iron curtain, functioned perfectly, with the differences due to the real capacities in the reproduction of the capital of the various countries.
But the crisis of 1975 marked a turning point: the economic boom was over, giving way to a period of ever-increasing crises encompassing more and more countries. At the same time the ruling class began attacking the ameliorations of its conditions which the proletariat had obtained in the previous period, including those resulting from its struggles.
From this moment the slow but systematic erosion of the social shock absorbers which benefited the vast majority of the proletariat begins. The task of political and trade union opportunism changed its sign, but not direction, instead of being the defender of workers’ demands – within the stricture of not obstructing capital – it became the defender of the requirements of capital within which it tried to warp proletarian aspirations. A great part of the old wage and social improvements of the era of economic expansion began to be cut away, and the process is still underway in the developed capitalist countries. These are not yet on the brink, but they are close.
The current economic downturn, when added to a terrible financial crisis that has not finished producing all its effects, strikes harder and harder at the so-called emerging countries. Overproduction is beginning to emerge even in these countries, removing the oxygen mask on which the Western economies had counted over the past fifteen years.
Trade and financial wars between the world’s imperialist giants increasingly assert themselves and sooner or later will be transformed into open wars, not because the American president, the Japanese emperor, the new Russian czar or the future German Kaiser “choose” to attack this or that enemy imperialist coalition, but because there will be no other solution to escape from the engorgement of the world market which asphyxiates their economies.
To overcome its crisis of overproduction, in order to restart a new cycle of capitalist accumulation, the bourgeoisie has no other solution than the destruction of goods, capital, surplus productive forces. And among these productive forces are the proletarians who are called upon to serve as cannon fodder, and to be destroyed at the same time as the commodities and means of production that saturate the world market.
The bourgeois ruling class sends the proletarians to be massacred in order to recommence the production of profits. All ideological motivations – patriotic, racial, religious – used by the bourgeoisie during its wars are only lies thrown up to dupe the proletarian masses. The proletarians are thus deceived twice: first on the terrain of capitalist productive relations where they appear to be free sellers of their labor power, then on the terrain of political relations between classes where they seem to be most interested in defending national interests and the homeland.
All social and political forces which contribute to the maintenance of these deceptions, especially when they pose as socialists or communists, represent a serious obstacle to the proletarian struggle for emancipation.
12. For decades the world proletariat has suffered from the ruinous impact of all the organizations which originally fought to defend its interests, but yielding to pressure from the bourgeoisie, have betrayed the proletarian cause both in the struggle for immediate defense and on the broader and decisive struggle for political power. The proletarian class struggle, which inevitably gives rise to the contradictions of bourgeois society, needs economic defense organizations comprised of the broad masses of workers, if they are influenced and directed by the class party these organizations represent a great danger to bourgeois power. That is why the ruling classes have always tried to corrupt and hamstring them, transforming them into a transmission belt of class collaboration, as opposed to their being transmission belts for revolutionary struggle directed by the class party. The biggest obstacle faced by the proletariat on the road to the reprise of the class struggle is precisely constituted by these organizations, of a political or trade union character, which act to maintain class collaboration. Political parties of the proletariat which had a broader purpose than the immediate struggle suffered the same outcome. Bowing to bourgeois corruption on the economic, political and ideological planes, they are transformed into the most insidious vehicles of the counterrevolution, helping (sometimes with the direct action of the state, as in Russia) to plunge the proletariat into total confusion, leaving it to become the helpless prey of the individualistic, nationalist, racist or religious prejudice characteristic of the bourgeois and petit-bourgeois classes.
Only on rare historic opportunities, as in Europe of 1848, 1871 in Paris or the revolutionary wave that followed Red October of 1917, was the proletariat able to raise its head and confront bourgeois power frontally. History has decreed that these opportunities would ultimately end in defeats. But the proletarian class party, even if reduced to a handful of militants, has drawn the powerful lessons from those defeats to serve as a resource for future struggles.
If the bourgeoisie seems invincible, despite the economic crises and wars that regularly ravage the entire world, if the obstacles presented by nationalist and protectionist trade unions and the bourgeois workers’ parties seem insurmountable, the proletariat will find the road to recuperation of the class struggle because the contradictions, the social and political factors of the economic crisis, consequences still more disastrous to the civilization of capital can do nothing else but demonstrate the impossibility that the ruling classes will be able to solve the increasingly explosive contradictions of bourgeois society.
13. The proletariat will regain the strength to fight on the terrain of open antagonism with the bourgeoisie when it realizes it can no longer defend its immediate and future interests on the terrain of social peace, of conciliation between the classes, and when it accepts the fact that it is not enough for the bourgeoisie to exploit the power of wage labor to the maximum, but it still needs to mobilize it for its wars for global market share, and when it recognizes that organizations claiming to be workers’ organizations but which profess faith in bourgeois democracy and class collaboration are saboteurs of the workers’ struggles with no other purpose than to imprison outbreaks of struggle in the chains of bourgeois legality and respect for the established order.
The bourgeoisie wages its ongoing struggle against proletarian interests without being paralyzed by the laws and regulations which it itself has enacted, it wages it in legality and illegality as evidenced by workplace accidents, the use of criminal gangs (such as the mafia) to control sections of the proletariat, the dissemination of all types of drugs to young people or the corruption inherent in any type of activity, whether commercial, banking, industrial or political.
Marxists do not believe in the redemptive power of human suffering, of the “conscious realization” by the great masses of the proletariat of the correctness of the Communist perspective which convince it to enter into struggle against capitalism and the bourgeoisie which its social and political bulwark.
In fact it is class antagonisms, in the very development of capitalist society, which are destined materially, physically, to lead the massive social forces that express these differences into confrontation. In this confrontation between proletariat and bourgeoisie, in the end it is the class which carries within itself the emancipation of all oppressed classes, the class which has nothing to defend in today’s society, the class that has to lose but its chains, the proletariat, which is destined to be victorious.
The historical course of evolution of human societies shows that this trend is not linear, purely and simply progressive, but takes an uneven course, made up of advances and retreats, punctuated by great achievements and painful losses, but ultimately, the radical changing of the mode of production imposes itself objectively and dialectically. Because it is the class that produces social wealth by its work and carries within itself the prospect of a classless society where antagonisms have given way to the harmonious development of society for all mankind, the proletariat is potentially the only revolutionary class in our epoch; it is the only class able to take on the struggle for emancipation from oppression and exploitation which will release mankind from the fetters of private property, from the private appropriation of social wealth.
Not every individual proletarian can be aware of this historic task, but only the revolutionary class party, the Communist party which since its Manifesto of 1848 represents in this capitalist present, the prospect of revolutionary struggle for the future emancipation of the proletariat and with it, all of humanity, from all class oppression.
14. The proletariat has demonstrated through the course of its history that it was the only revolutionary class in modern society, the only class that expressed in the struggle against the old feudal and aristocratic classes and against the new bourgeoisie that it was the true bearer of the historical perspective of a classless society. Marxism is the revolutionary theory of the proletarian movement, the irrevocable basis of the communist party – anticapitalist, antibourgeois and therefore antidemocratic.
The proletariat has suffered, still suffers and will continue to suffer the dire consequences of the capitalist crises that erupt in the field of production, trade or finance. Insofar as it is forced to remain in the state of being a class for capital , that is to say a set of individuals totally subservient to the capitalist mode of production and the political domination of the bourgeoisie, the proletariat has no possibility of fighting for its emancipation or even to successfully wage defensive immediate struggles.
As long as the proletariat is influenced, organized, controlled and directed by the forces of conservation and bourgeois interclassist collaborationism, it has no possibility of obtaining a real and lasting improvement of living and working conditions, except in periods of economic expansion, and that only at the cost of abandoning all hope of liberation from capitalist exploitation.
15. The crises of the capitalist economy have shown a series of stages in the deterioration of the proletariat, of the abolition of concessions previously obtained from the bourgeoisie. This fact demonstrates that its most profound objective is to extract still more surplus value from the working class, to render its domination over wage labor still more oppressive, increasing insecurity and increasing competition among the proletarians. The crisis pressured and continues to pressure the bourgeoisie to not only aggravate capitalist exploitation in all countries, but also to forge international alliances to better resist these crises; commercial, industrial and financial alliances, tend to become closer at the time of crisis because the clashes between the imperialist powers are destined to increase. The bourgeoisie of various countries know that the economic and financial crises inevitably lead sooner or later to military clashes between competitors, to open warfare. And no bourgeoisie can conduct war without mobilizing the proletariat to service its interests.
That is why, in times of peace, each national bourgeoisie will have not only its State institutions corresponding to an eventual war, but it carries a permanent and capillary ideological propaganda amongst the proletariat, notably by the intermediary of collaborationism while battering the most rebellious proletarian layers with the forces of state repression – legal or illegal.
The class struggle waged by the bourgeoisie against the proletariat is permanent, it knows no truce and will not be deterred by any scruples, it uses all possible levers of social conservatism (especially effective if they are “left” or supposedly “workers’” forces) to divide, isolate, demoralize the proletariat in order to intimidate the most rebellious layers and to paralyze the masses.
At the end of the First World War the European bourgeoisie was faced with a proletariat in full revolutionary upheaval. The most threatened ruling classes reacted with the triple prongs of massive repression of the proletarian vanguard (combination of legal repression and illegal fascist bands), use of social measures to meet the needs of the working class and to blunt the urge to struggle (the social shock absorbers), and the maximum centralization of political and economic power around the State (fascism with its single party and single union combining owners and workers). After the military victory of the “democracies” in the Second World War, they reprised the essential fascist methods of government, while hiding behind the Parliamentary screen to continue to deviate those pushed into struggle onto the democratic terrain, which is that of interclassism and collaboration with institutions of the bourgeois State. During this process of integration into the bourgeois State, social-democratic opportunism passed on to Stalinism the main hand in betraying the goals, methods and means of the international communist movement, which permitted the victory of the most ferocious counterrevolution in history.
16. The proletariat of the dominant imperialist countries like that of the peripheral countries still pays the dramatic consequences of this victory of the counterrevolution. The destruction of the revolutionary party of the proletariat, starting with that of Lenin through the annihilation of the party in Germany, Italy and finally China has shown conclusively this historical truth: without the strong and uncompromising leadership of its class party, the proletariat is doomed to defeat, regardless of its strength and heroism. And the defeat was all the more profound the closer it was to victory over the bourgeois power.
The bourgeoisie has never had any humanitarian scruples, it has never conceded military honors to the defeated proletariat. The thirty thousand Communards killed in 1871 during the bloody week by the troops of the butcher Thiers were echoed by the hundreds of thousands of proletarians who fell during the revolutionary attempts in the decades that followed, not to mention the millions killed in wars that the bourgeoisies have continued to carry out.
The revolutionary proletarian party is the only force capable of placing the lessons of its past struggles at the service of the emancipation of the proletariat, it represents the future of the proletarian class, the future of its global anticapitalist revolution, the only means to put an end to capitalism.
17. The periodic crises of capitalism anticipate the great general crisis of the system. The reaction of bourgeois forces of all countries to this crisis will inevitably lead to greater centralization of political and economic power (government intervention in the economy) and therefore more social despotism which exacerbates the conditions of the proletariat. Intoxicated for decades by the politics and practices of political and union collaborationism, repressed in a thousand ways, massacred, the proletariat remains the only source of profit, without which the bourgeoisie cannot continue to function and without which capitalism cannot exist.
“The essential conditions for the existence and dominance of the bourgeois class is the accumulation of wealth in private hands, formation and augmentation of capital; the condition for capital is wage-labor. Wage-labour rests exclusively on competition between the laborers. The advance of industry, whose involuntary promoter is the bourgeoisie, replaces the isolation of the laborers, due to competition, by the revolutionary combination, due to association. The development of Modern Industry, therefore, cuts from under its feet the very foundation on which the bourgeoisie produces and appropriates products. What the bourgeoisie therefore produces, above all, are its own grave-diggers. Its fall and the victory of the proletariat are equally inevitable” (Marx, Engels, Manifesto of the Communist Party).
The analysis of the Manifesto has been confirmed by subsequent historical events. Precisely because the development of heavy industry tends to overcome the isolation in which competition places the workers, the bourgeoisie is always and everywhere trying to foster this competition in a thousand ways. Therefore the workers must have as their central objective the fight against competition, to create the power to unite themselves across differences of class, sector, region, age, sex or nationality, and to unite across borders and differences in economic development between countries.
18. The struggles of the proletariat in the decades that followed the defeat of the communist movement in Russia and around the world have generally been conditioned on the ideological level by the theories of socialism in one country, on the political level by the rallying of all the parties of the Third International to bourgeois preservation and on the economic and trade union level by a reinforced bondage to the requirements of the capitalist economy. But despite bourgeois rule and the overwhelming influence of opportunism, outbreaks of class struggle have continued to erupt, albeit sporadically: the struggles of the immediate postwar period in Western Europe, riots in Berlin in ‘53, the struggles of the sixties and seventies in Western and Eastern Europe and the United States, in the great movement in the shipyards in Poland in the early ’80s, the struggles of miners in Britain with that of miners in Russia, the first major strikes in Brazil and those in India and Bangladesh in the last period, to name just a few highlights.
In addition to these workers’ struggles; throughout the period from the end of World War until the mid-70s, there were the national liberation movements in colonial countries. The absence of the Communist International because of the victory of the Stalinist counterrevolution, did not allow a combination of these struggles, which under its direction, could have developed into a powerful assault against global capitalism. Today all countries in the world are much more closely bound up than when Marx and Engels wrote the famous battle-cry in the Manifesto: “Workers of all countries, unite!” Unite for anticapitalist revolution, not to save capitalism! The current financial and economic crisis, like those that preceded it, amply demonstrates that the world is dominated by capitalism everywhere. In the China of the Chinese Communist Party, in the Great Britain of Queen Elizabeth, in Bush’s America as in the UAE or Putin’s Russia, despite the differences in political organization, the dominant class is the bourgeoisie.
19. Paradoxically, although the bourgeois ruling classes of various countries have tried to build their national borders by raising up barriers of all types, the development of industry and finance have knocked them down. The exportation of commodities and capital has the goal of conquering new markets by tearing away the capital already present; the emigration of proletarians, especially in less developed countries, to those which are more developed is in large part a response to the imperatives of survival; it is an expression of the weakness of the world proletariat which is not yet able to fight against the causes of its oppression and misery and which has no choice but to try to sell its labor power where there is a possibility of finding buyers, that is to say, in the capitalist metropolises. There is no other way to end this condition of modern slavery than the struggle against the bourgeois power that defends and keeps alive the capitalist system of production.
The forced migration of workers can be transformed into a force provided that immigrant and native proletarians unite in the same fight, in the same defense of their lives and work. This unitary struggle is necessary in order for the proletariat to defend itself against employer exploitation, against workplace accidents, which strike at immigrants and natives equally. It is only by their united struggle that they can face all the problems inherent in their social condition.
As recalled by the Manifesto, competition between workers is the central question: where they manage to overcome it they can organize an effective defensive struggle against the capitalists; where they accept it, they are delivered bound hand and foot over to capitalist exploitation, believing that they have saved themselves, which is the best situation for bourgeois dominance not only in business but in society as a whole, since it means the dissolution of the collective strength of the proletariat.
The proletariat must draw important lessons from the current financial and economic crisis.
20. The bourgeois class has interests completely antagonistic to those of the proletariat in all countries, in all situations, in peacetime as in war. It causes all the weight of its crises whether economic, political or military to fall upon the proletariat; by intensifying exploitation, through falling wages, rising unemployment and general misery, until it is massacred in wars. The bourgeois class is permanently seeking to divide the proletarians by fueling competition between them, but this pressure grows all the more with the breadth and depth of the crisis.
In all countries the ruling class is preparing to face the most acute crises, wars between the great imperialist powers, to participate in the repartition of the global market; with this outlook it accentuates the process of centralization and concentration already underway in the most developed capitalist countries. The State becomes ever more the decisive pillar for the reinforcement of bourgeois power to face the social tensions inevitably caused by crises, as well as with a view for war alliances with competing capitalist countries, these do not necessarily correspond to business, economic or political alliances in times of peace.
The ruling class increases the despotism and social pressure on all segments of society to mobilize all resources to defend the priority of the national capitalism at the cost of crushing the interests of the petit-bourgeoisie and certain factions of the bourgeoisie. It tends to use all the means of domination at its disposal on all fronts, economic, political, social and military; at the same time it tends to intensify propaganda for the defense of the homeland, of the family, of the Church and to multiply the divisions between proletarians. It will redouble its efforts to place national proletarians in opposition to foreign proletarians; young in opposition to old, men to women, permanent workers to temporary workers, between those who slavishly follow the dictates of employers and the law and those who oppose them, between the violent and the peaceful, etc..
The ruling class bourgeoisie will become increasingly reluctant to employ democratic practices that hinder repression against any potentially subversive activity, but which also interfere with its social and economic activity. The democratic veil that hides the totalitarian capitalist society will become thinner, as the Italian Communist Left had predicted in the late twenties.
The bourgeoisie will continue to maintain opportunist forces, which have shown that their action is essential to social conservation whether this is in periods of democratic government or in periods of dictatorial government. The role of opportunism cannot disappear in a capitalist society; it can experience erosion, but only to be reborn in another form. Thus Stalinism has taken the place of the old used-up social-democracy, and tomorrow there are forms of “revolutionary syndicalism” and left democratic radicalism – absolutely anti-proletarian and anticommunist– which will undertake the relief of a moribund post-Stalinist opportunism.
21. The proletarian class is still completely embedded in political and trade union democratism implemented by the forces which have long repudiated their origins to embrace the defense of capitalism. Immersed for at least eighty years in the interclassist magma, proletarians can still find the only terrain where it is possible to conduct an effective defensive struggle and lay the foundations of class solidarity. They spend their energy, social force for the exclusive benefit of capital, thus strengthening the chains that subjugate them to the exploiting class. The proletarians of the most developed capitalist countries still fall prey to all the consequences of the social shock absorbers instituted throughout the decades of economic expansion. But the succession of economic crises starts to resound more and more brutally on their conditions, tending to approach those of the poor countries, where the immigrant proletarians come from.
22. The class interests of the proletariat are irreconcilable with those of the bourgeois and petit-bourgeois because the latter can only be defended by attacking the living and working conditions of the proletarians. The defense of proletarian interests implies the recognition of this fundamental antagonism, the recognition of the war between classes. The struggle involves a combination of immediate defense of the proletariat on a platform of common struggle, including the use of force in the struggle, class solidarity between workers of different categories, sectors and nationalities above and beyond individual political and religious differences. The bourgeois also have recourse to these principles, available in private owners organizations and in the central State with its laws, its institutions, its police, its army, constitute the real supreme defense committee of the bourgeoisie; the proletariat must apply the broadest possible workers’ associationism dedicated to the defense of proletarian class interests and theirs alone.
The first defense of the class struggle is precisely to ensure that the objectives, methods and means respond exclusively to the interests that bring the proletarians together as such, and oppose them to bourgeois interests.
As long as they have not launched themselves into the open class struggle, the proletariat will remain hostages of the bourgeois class and its political agents which thrive in its ranks. It is the economic and social contradictions of capitalism, fueled by crises, which inevitably push proletarian layers to break with the mesh of class collaboration and social peace. It is the economic and social contradictions of bourgeois society, the intolerable degradation of the living conditions of the proletariat, which will push elements and groups of workers to organize their struggle outside of the collaborationist apparatuses.
The class organization of the workers will be accompanied by painful divisions within the proletariat as it goes through the struggle against the layers and elements attached to the defense of emoluments or of privileges that set them apart from the proletarian masses they are entrusted to control.
23. In favorable objective conditions, the proletariat can become a powerful opposition force to the bourgeois power. But it is only under the direction of the revolutionary communist party that it can engage successfully in the struggle to overthrow the government. Due to the disappearance of classist tradition among the masses, classist organization of the proletariat, including the field of immediate struggles, will only be possible through the work of vanguard militants and especially of the true communist party at the same time and along with the proletarian struggle.
The current financial and economic crisis will be used as a pretext to impose new sacrifices of the proletariat in order to save the ailing national capitalism, with the promise that their sacrifices will only be temporary.
But except perhaps for the labor aristocracy, this insidious agent of bourgeois influence among the proletariat, the deterioration of the conditions of the proletarian will not cease. And it is the need to struggle in order not to die of exhaustion, poverty, repression and war, which will inevitably push the proletarian masses to smash the social peace, to tear down the barriers that paralyze them, to break with all the anesthetic forces of bourgeois democracy.
This extraordinary power still hidden in the entrails of society will then emerge with volcanic force and will spread itself over the world. The need for an organ of leadership, the necessity of the revolutionary class party, will appear more obvious than ever to conquer political power, to overthrow the bourgeois state, the proletariat as a class for capital, will constitute itself into a class for itself, conscious of its own goals and ready to constitute the ruling class after the victory of the international communist revolution.
“If the proletariat during its contest with the bourgeoisie is compelled, by the force of circumstances, to organize itself as a class, if, by means of a revolution, it makes itself the ruling class, and, as such, sweeps away by force the old conditions of production, then it will, along with these conditions, have swept away the conditions for the existence of class antagonisms and of classes generally, and will thereby have abolished its own supremacy as a class.
In place of the old bourgeois society, with its classes and class antagonisms, we shall have an association, in which the free development of each is the condition for the free development of all. (Manifesto of the Communist Party)
Such is the perspective for which communists fight, such is the necessary outcome of the struggle between classes.
The class party, the communist party, works for this perspective, or it is not the class party of the proletariat.
(1) The party has made a number of studies on the issue of crises. The reader can refer in particular to the series of articles on the Course of World Imperialism. From an article from 1958, we can mention briefly the following conclusion: “The salient phenomena of a crisis in the traditional sense, are undoubtedly first the decline in output and the unemployment of workers.
But there is also the decline in production prices (wholesale prices), even if in future there may not be a corresponding decline in consumer prices. The basic phenomena that must precede the crisis is anarchy in stock quotations (despite all the measures of state intervention), the fall of capitalist profits and bankruptcy first of small businesses, then of large. “
See “Sfregio e bestemmia di principi comunisti nella rivelatrice diatriba tra i partiti dei rinnegati”, «il programma comunista» No. 13/1958.