The Immediate Revolutionary Program
(General Meeting of Forli, December 28th 1952)
(«Proletarian»;Nr. 11; Winter-Spring 2015)
The meeting of Forli (Italy) the report of which we give here took place after the separation from the «Daménist» current (Onorato Damen was the leader of this tendency)(1) in the Partito Comunista Internazionalista; it is part of a series of meetings aimed to fight against «activism», i.e.the idea according to which, whatever activity which may lead to immediate results is much more important than theory and principle; and to lay the foundations for the patient work of theoretical and programmatic restoration of Marxism which had been completely disfigured by the counter-revolution. This restoration was needed to dispel the confusion prevailing even among the few revolutionary militants, and to restore on sound bases the core of the future class party. It was not a retreat into an ivory tower, a fall into academicism or a refusal of practical intervention in the daily struggles of the working class –accusations hurled against us at the time; our current had understood that it was necessary to devote as much energy to the work of comprehensive restoration of the theory in order to base activity on solid terrain, against all and any deviation suggested by looking for an illusory quick success. As one of our texts states:
The revolutionary class will accomplish its task to the extent that it will act in all its immense struggle according to a stable doctrine and method, equipped with a monolithic program, regardless of the extremely variable number of militants and the success of various phases in the social turmoil.
(1)The Damenist current still exists today in the form of the Internationalist Communist Tendency, of which the main sections are the Communist Workers Organization (Great Britain) and the Partito Comunista Internazionalista (Italy).
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I. Theory and Action
1. In the present situation, in which revolutionary energy has sunk to the lowest level, the party’s practical task is to examine the historical path of the struggle. It is an error to define this study as a literary and intellectual excercise and to contrast it to one form or other of intervention in the struggle of the masses.
2. For those who agree that the current politics of the Stalinistsare totally anti-classist and anti-revolutionary and that the collapse of the 3rd International was more serious than that of the 2nd in 1914, there are two positions from which to choose: they can admit that something in the platform shared by the Italian left, the Comintern at its beginning, Lenin and the Bolsheviks, the October victors has become obsolete, or maintain, as we do, that the only obsolete positions are those that the Italian left has had to combatsince that time, while all those that the Russians subsequently betrayed remain fully legitimate.
3. Faced with thefaltering of the Western revolutionary movement after World War I, the communist movement commited a grave mistake in its vain attempts to force the situation to evolve into an insur-rection and dictatorship of the proletariat by resorting to democratic, legalitarian and workerist measures. This mistake which was widely practised, supposedly at the heart of the working class, at the fringe of contact with the social traitors of the 2nd International, was bound to develop into a new form of social and political collaboration with capitalist forces, both nationally and worldwide, into a new opportunism and betrayal.
4. The influence of enemies and traitors was reinforced under the guise of strengthening the influence of the revolutionary party, with its robusttheoretical and organizational basis. Instead of conquering the majority, as was dreamt, the solid historical core of the party was lost. The lesson learned is to notcarry out the same manoeuvre nor to follow the same method. This is no small lesson.
5. In 1946, at the end of World War II, it was futile to look for a situation as fertile as in 1918, since the counter-revolutionary degeneration was much more serious; there were no large nuclei of proletarians able to remain aloof from the war-time military, political and partisan bloc, and the policy of the victorious countries toward the conquered nations was different from 1918 – they were occupied undera police regime.The situation in 1946 was clearly as unfavorable as the one that followed the great defeats of the Communist League in 1849 and the 1st International in 1871.
6. A sudden return of the masses to effective organization for a revolutionary offensive is unthinkable. In these conditions the best outcome in the next few years would be the reaffirmation of thegenuineproletarian communist goals and demands and the confirmation of the lesson we have learned from history: that improvising tactics for every new situation under the pretext of exploiting unexpected new facts is defeatism.
7. Stupid actualist-activism that adapts its actions and initiatives to the immediate circumstances of the day is true party existentialism. It must be banished to allow a bridge to be built to link the past and the future and so that the guiding principle that the party established once and for all –forbidding members and above all leaders from embarking on all the tendentious research into and discovery of «new paths».
8. This retrograde tendency; especially when it defames and deserts the work of doctrinal and theoretical restoration, as necessary today as it was for Lenin in 1914-18, assuming that action and struggle are everything, leads to the destruction of Marxist dialectics and determinism, substituting the immense historical research ofthe rare moments and crucial points in history on which the communist movement must rely, for a frenzied voluntarism which is the worst and crassest adaptation to the status quo and its miserable immediate perspectives.
9. All the methods of these vulgar practitioners aren’t new forms of an original political method: they only mimic old anti-marxist positions and idealism, in the manner of B. Croce, which states that no scientific law can predict the historical process that «is always right» in its rebellion against every rule and any forecast on the evolution of human society.
10. Thus what must be brought to the fore is the reaffirmation, supported by our classic party texts, of the integral Marxist conception of history, of the revolutions whichhave takenplaceuntil today and, of the nature of those to come, whereby the proletariat will overthrow capitalism and institute new social forms. In the first place, the original positions must be set out again in all their strength, as they have existed for at least a century, thus liquidating all the banalities affirmed even by many people who arenot in the Stalinist swamp, but who pass off bourgeois and popular demands likely to assure their demagogic success –as communist.
11. Such a task is long and difficult, occupying years and years, and on the other hand the reversal of the world relationship of forces will take decades. Stupid haste and the spirit of falsely revolutionary adventurism must be rejected and scorned, as they characterize precisely those that do not know how to hold to a revolutionary position and, as many examples from the history of deviations show, leave the correct road to pursue equivocal alleyways offering illusory immediate success.
II. Immediate Revolutionary Program
1.The giganticrevival of the proletarian movement after WW1, whose potency was manifested on the world scale and which organized itself into a solid party in Italy in 1921, demonstrated clearly that the urgent postulate was the seizure of political power, and that the proletariat cannot do so by legal means but only by armed insurrection, that the best opportunity arises from the military defeat of one’s own country, and that the political form following victory is the dictatorship of the proletariat. Social and economic transformation occurs after, the dictatorship being the primary condition.
2. The Communist Manifesto established that successive social measures that appear as possible or are implemented «despotically» differ – it will be a very long road to full communism– depending on the level of development of the productive forces in the country where the proletariat has won and the speed with which this victory extends to other countries. It indicated the measures that were appropriate for the most advanced European countries in 1848, and emphasized that these did not constitue the whole of the socialist program, rather a number of measures that it qualified as transitional, immediate, variable and, essentially, «contradictory».
3. Subsequently (and this was one of the elements that drove some to claim that Marxist theory was not stable, but had to be continuously redeveloped as a function of history) many of the measures then ascribed to the proletarian revolution were undertaken by the bourgeoisie itself in various countries, such as compulsory education, the State Bank, etc...
But this doesn’t entitle anyone to believe that the precise laws and predictions of Marxism regarding the transition from the capitalist mode of production to socialism and all their economic, social and political forms should be altered. It meant only that in the first post-revolutionary period – the economy of the transition to socialism, preceding the lower stage of socialism, and subsequently the final, higher stage of socialism, or full communism – had changed and become a little less difficult.
4. Classical opportunism claimed to believe that all these measures, from the first to the last, could be applied by the bourgeois democratic state under the pressure of the proletariat or even through the legal conquest of power. But in this case, these «measures» would have been adopted in the interests of bourgeois preservation and to delay the downfall of capitalism, if they were compatible with it, and if they were incompatible, the State would never implement them.
5.Today’s opportunism, with the formula of popular and progressive democracy in the framework of constitutional parliamentarism, fills a historical task that is different and worse still. Firstly, it deludes the proletariat into believing that some of its own measures can be integrated into the program of a multi-party State representing all classes, that is, it manifests the same defeatism as the Social- democrats of yesterday against the class dictatorship. Next and above all, it pushes the organized masses to fight for «popular and progressive»social measures, which are directly opposed to those that the proletarian power has always advocated, since 1848 and the Manifesto.
6. Nothing better shows the ignominy of such an involution than a list of measures that would now be formulated for a Western capitalist country, upon the realization of the seizure of power, to replace (after a century)those of the Manifesto, although its most characteristic measures would still be included.
7. These demands are as follows:
a) «Divestment of capital»; a massive reduction of the part of products composed of means of production, with the target being increasd means of consumption.
b) «Increase of production costs» in order to be able to give higher wages for less work time, as long as salary, the market and money exist.
c) «Draconian reduction of the work day» to at most half or less its present length by absorbing the unemployed and those engaged in anti-social activities.
d) After a reduction of the volume of production by a plan of «under-production», concentrating production in the most necessary areas, «authoritarian control of consumption» to fight the promotion of useless, voluptuary and harmful goods and to abolish activities that propagate a reactionary psychology.
e) «Rapid abolition of the limits of the enterprise» with an authoritarian transfer not of personnel but of means of labor, with a view to a new consumption plan.
f) «Rapid abolition of welfare» of the monetary type to be replaced by social provisions up to an initial minimum for those who cannot work.
g) «A halt to construction» of housing and industry on the outskirts of big and even small cities as a first step towards a more uniform distribution of the population over the surface of the earth. Reduction of congestion, speed and volume of traffic by prohibiting unnecessary travel.
h) «Resolute struggle against professional specialization» and social division of labor through the abolition of careers and titles.
i) Closer to the political domain, obvious immediate measures to subordinate the school, the press, all means of communication and information, as well as all entertainment and leisure networks, to the communist State.
8. It is not surprising that Western communist parties and their equivalents call for precisely the opposite not only in their «institutional» (i.e., legal-political) demands, but also in their «structural» (i.e., socio-economic) demands. This enables them to work in concert with the party that rules the Russian state and its satellites – a party which is horrified only by the fear of a return to medieval feudalism. The social transformation they are undertaking is from pre-capitalism to full capitalism, with the full array of purely bourgeois ideological, political, social and economic demands this implies. The western renegades are a hundred times more loathsome than their eastern counterparts. The feudal danger is still physical and real in Asia, but no longer exists in the West, particularly the capitalist fortress across the Atlantic which, bloated with conceit, crushes the proletarians of the world under the boot of its liberal, UN-sanctioned civilization.
International Communist Party