The Goals of the Communists
(«Proletarian»; Nr. 13; Autumn - Winter 2016)
This article appeared on February 29, 1920 in the columns of «Il Soviet» organ of the «Communist Abstentionist fraction» of the Italian Socialist Party. At that time the PSI, which had joined the Communist International, was led by a left wing calling itself «maximalist». Traditionally in the social democratic parties the «maximum» program was that of the final goal; socialism, it was reserved for Sundays and holiday speechifying while there was a «minimum» program bearing on improvements and reforms. Compatible with capitalism, this minimum program constituted the real program for action of these reformist parties. And although it said it wanted to fight for the maximum program, in reality the majority tendency in the SocialistParty remained on the terrain of the struggle for reforms: it belonged to that particular variety of reformism that the Bolsheviks called «centrism» – revolutionary in words, reformers in fact. To go towards the birth of a true communist party, the Communist Left was organized as a fraction leading the struggle against the theoretical and political confusion reigning in the PSI.
The fundamental perspectives that the article brings to our attention have not changed after 90 years, and they indicate an invariant line which cannot be modified despite all the “innovators”, all the proponents of a “socialism of the twenty-first century” who claim to discover new ways when they are merely following the old beaten track of the eternal revisionists and traitors, the “centrists” of yesterday and today.
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The socialist revolution takes place when, in capitalist society, the conflict between producers and the productive relations has become intolerable and there are forces tending to establish a new system of relations.
This revolutionary tendency runs up against armed force, of which political institutions centralized in the bourgeois state regulate the organization and the operation, and by which the dominant class prevents the existing relations – that it finds beneficial to preserve – from being modified.
For the revolution to accomplish its economic task, it is first necessary to destroy the political system that centralizes power, the only means available to the oppressed class for this is to organize and to unify itself in a political party.
The historic goal of Communists is precisely the formation of this party and the struggle for the revolutionary conquest of power.
This will release latent forces capable of generating a new economic system based on technical advances by productive forces which are now squeezed by the political structure of capitalism.
The task which is the purpose of the Communist Party is therefore characterized by two basic principles:
1) universality, because it contains the largest possible number of proletarians and acts on behalf of the class and not for vested interests and local groups of workers;
2) attachment to the final goal, the maximum program, because it is a result that is not immediate and cannot be achieved gradually.
Without doubt during its evolution bourgeoisie society provides partial solutions to specific problems, but they have nothing to do with the full and final solution pursued by the Communist Party.
Even the interests of the proletariat, where the interest is contingent and limited to more or less extensive groups, may, to some extent, be satisfied within the bourgeois world.
The conquest of these particular solutions is not the concern of the Communists. It is a task which is spontaneously allocated to from other organizations of the proletariat, such as unions, cooperatives, etc. ...
The communist party intervenes in these partial conquests to focus the attention of the masses on the general problem of the final conquest of power. As the “Manifesto of the Communist Party” states, “The real fruit of their battles lies, not in the immediate result, but in the ever expanding union of the workers.”
After the revolutionary conquest of power, the productive forces latent in the stifling yoke of the capitalist system will be liberated.
Even then, the main concern of the Party will not be a task of economic construction, to which the extraordinary explosion of organisms will spontaneously contribute: the bearers of the energy of a new world which was already in force in the conflict between producers and forms of production and which the political revolution does nothing other than allow it to grow. The real task of the Party will still be the political struggle against the bourgeoisie; vanquished, but still seeking to regain power; and the struggle for the unification of the proletariat beyond selfish and corporatist interests.
This second activity will take on increasingly greater importance during this period.
Today the existence of a common enemy, the power centralized in the state, the omnipresent capitalist in the factory, naturally cement proletarian solidarity that stands up against the formidable organized solidarity of the owners.
Tomorrow, when the workers of a factory, a city, an occupational group have been freed from the menace of the capitalist exploiter by the force of proletarian power, it is possible that local interests will take on more power and virulence until all acquire communist political consciousness in its universality.
This is perhaps the reason for the action taken by the Russian Soviet State and which the bourgeois press has announced as the dissolution of the factory committees.
The most difficult problem of the communist tactic has always been to adhere closely to these characteristics of finality and generality which we talked about earlier.
Instead of focusing all their strength and despite all the difficulties in the implacable Marxist dialectic of the revolutionary process, the Communists have often yielded to deviations where their action is lost and crumbled in so-called concrete achievements and an overestimation of certain institutions, which seem to constitute an easier bridge across to communism than the terrifying leap into the abyss of the Revolution, the “Marxist catastrophe from which will arise the renewal of humanity.”
Reformism, revolutionary syndicalism, the cooperative movement are this and nothing else.
Some current maximalist trends which, faced the difficulties of the violent destruction of bourgeois power, search for a terrain to achieve and to concretize their activity, to render it possible technically, as well as initiatives that overestimate the anticipated creation of organs of the future economy such as factory committees, fall into the same mistakes.
Maximalism will only experience its first victory with the conquest of all power by the proletariat. Before that, it has nothing else to propose that the ever more vast, ever more conscious organization of the proletarian class on the political terrain.
International Communist Party