Editions Programme - Edizioni Il Comunista
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The Fundamentals of Revolutionary Communism
( Brochure A5, 60 pages, November 2010, Price: 2 € ; £ 2 ; $ 2,5 ; 4 CHF )
The fundamentals of revolutionary marxist communism in the doctrine and in the history of the international proletarian struggle
Table of contents
Party and class state, essential forms of the communist revolution
The economic organizations of the proletariat are nothing but substitutes for the revolutionary party
Petty-bourgeois distortions of the characteristics of communist society in the "syndicalist" and "enterprise socialist" conceptions
The “Fundamentals of revolutionary marxist communism...”, text of a report given by Amadeo Bordiga during the general meeting of the party held in Paris June 8th, and 9th 1957, has been out of print for years. A republication of this text, with its power intact after almost a half-century, was essential because it is the demolition of the false alternatives, deformations and revisions which, in the name of “enrichment” or of the “development” of Marxism for supposedly drawing a reckoning of the lessons of history; disavow the fundamental elements of the communist program on the questions of the party, and of the State. Especially since they are often presented under a left appearance, these orientations are catastrophic for the revolutionary perspective and the combat of the proletariat because they deprive it of the weapons without which it is irremediably condemned to defeat.
In reaction to the legalism and reformism of the socialist parties during the period preceding the First World War, there appeared and developed the “revolutionary syndicalist” current, especially in France, Italy and Spain (but also in Germany and in the USA). For the revolutionary syndicalists, the party was by nature a specifically parliamentary and not revolutionary organization, which it was necessary to keep away from the trade unions, while the latter, because they were made up of only workers, were the specific body of proletarian revolutionary struggle which was to culminate in the “expropriating general strike”; the revolutionary syndicalists moreover allotted to the trade unions the function of organizing social production after the revolution thanks to the technical capabilities acquired by their members under capitalism.
In this vision, wrapped in the idealistic fogs of Sorelianism with its theory of violence as a purifying myth, it is not only the “constitution of the proletariat into a class, consequently into a party” but also the “constitution of the proletariat into the dominant class” (the Manifesto) which disappear for the simple reason that the fundamental act of the seizure of political power disappears as the first essential step to begin the economic reorganization conceived and carried out centrally according to the goals of socialism; i.e. goals which are not local but general, not national but global, not of a category but as regards the whole human species. By liquidating the proletarian dictatorship and its organ, the party, to replace them by a phantasmagorical and impotent workers’ democracy, it is ultimately the revolution and as a result, socialism which are liquidated.
And things do not change when it is the factory council which is put in place of the trade union, as in the conception of the Italian Socialist Antonio Gramsci and of his Turinese partisans of “Ordine Nuovo” and all the councilists and proponents of self-management who followed. In a programmatic article in “Ordine Nuovo” entitled “Workers’ Democracy”, Gramsci and Togliatti wrote in 1919: “the socialist State exists already potentially in the institutions of social life characteristic of the exploited laboring class. To connect these institutions with each other, to coordinate them and subordinate them to a hierarchy of capabilities and of power, signifies the creation as of now of a true workers’ democracy, in effective opposition to the bourgeois State, and prepared as of now to replace the bourgeois State in all its essential functions of management and administration of the national patrimony”(1).
And a year later, commenting on the polemics within his group which had lead to the drafting of this article, Gramsci affirmed: “Yes, there is in Italy, in Turin, a germ of workers’ government, a germ of the Soviet; it is the internal commission [organization of the workers in the factory at the base of the local unions]; let us study this workers’ institution, make an investigation, study even the capitalist factory, but not as an organization of material production, because one would need for that a specialized culture that we do not have; let us study the capitalist factory as a form necessary to the working class, like political organization [! ], as the ‘national territory of workers’ self-government’ ” (2).
The German Left which was incarnated in the KAPD (Communist Workers Party of Germany), born in reaction to social-democratic reformism but also to the parliamentarist and legalist tendencies of the young Communist Party (KPD), defended positions which undoubtedly did not always flow from pure anarchism as with the extreme case of Otto Rühle and his partisans, but which nevertheless constituted similar anti-party deviations fundamentally similar to those of the Italian Ordinovists. In its program (where one could find in the preamble this pearl of the purest anarchistic water: “To express the autonomy of its members in all circumstances, is the basic principle of a proletarian party, which is not a party in the traditional sense”), an idealism completely foreign to marxist materialism made the KAPD affirm that the retard of the revolution was caused by subjective and psychological factors: “the ideology of the proletariat is still partly imprisoned by bourgeois and petit-bourgeois representations. The psychology of the German proletariat, in its present aspect, shows only too distinctly the traces of secular militarist slavery (...). The problem of the German revolution is the problem of the development of the self-awareness of the German proletariat
(...) The idea of the Councils during the period of the proletarian struggle for political power is at the center of the revolutionary process”. Declaring its hostility to opportunist methods of struggle, to parliament and the trade unions, the program put the “ Factory organization” at the center of the revolutionary struggle: “It corresponds to the idea of the councils; (...) being born organically in the future, constituting the future, it is the form of expression of a social revolution which tends to the classless society. It is an organization of pure proletarian struggle.
(...) It is necessary that the fight is carried out in the factory. It is there that workers stands side by side as comrades, it is there that all are forced to be equal.. It is there that the mass are the engine of production and are ceasely pushed to take control of production,to unveil its secrets. It is there that the ideological struggle, the revolutionising of consciousness, undergoes a permanent tumult, from man to man, from mass to mass (...) Uninterrupted Propaganda for socialism, factory assemblies, political discussions, etc., all that is part of the tasks [of the Factory organization]; in brief, it is the revolution in the factory”.
Moreover the KAPD located within this organization the “second great goal” (the first being destruction of the traditional trade unions) of preparing under capitalism “the construction of the communist society” (3) as if the organization of the future society were to be copied on the structuring of capitalist society into enterprises , and that the organizations of struggle of the proletarians under capitalism (the trade unions in the case of the revolutionary trade unionists, the “factory organization” in the case of the KAPD, factory councils in the case of the Ordinovists) were to be the germ for it!
It is easy to see that these deviations are all of the same type. The political struggle carried out by the Communist Left of Italy against Ordinovism is also of value against the German Left, because it was not a local and circumstantial polemic, but a fight in defense of the authentic Marxists positions.
The organ of the Communist Left, “Il Soviet” wrote: “To maintain as the comrades of ‘Ordine Nuovo’ of Turin do, that even before the fall of the bourgeoisie, the workers’ councils are already not only organs of political struggle, but also of economico-technical preparation for the communist system, is a pure and simple return to socialist gradualism: this viewpoint, which is called reformism or trade unionism, is defined by the false idea that the proletariat can emancipate itself by gaining ground in economic relations even though capitalism, along with the State, still holds political power.
(...) In conclusion: we do not oppose the constitution of internal factory councils if their personnel or their organizations demand them. But we affirm that the activity of the Communist Party must be directed along a different axis: the struggle for the conquest of political power” (4).
Indeed for the Communist Left “the soviet is not a revolutionary body by essence”; it can very well be “one of the organs of the revolutionary struggle of the proletariat”, but only insofar as it can “constitute, at a certain stage, an adequate terrain for the revolutionary struggle which the party carries out” (5). “At the stage we are at, i.e. when the proletarian State is still a programmatic aspiration, the fundamental problem is that of the conquest of power by the communist proletarians, i.e. by the workers organized in the political class party and determined to realize the historical form of revolutionary power, the dictatorship of the proletariat” (6).
The only organ which is in its essence revolutionary is the proletarian political party – insofar as it is truly communist, i.e. insofar as its program, its organization and its daily action are perfectly coherent and in conformity with the principles of Communism. The goal of the revolutionary struggle cannot be the conquest of power in the factory which is nothing other than a dangerous illusion, but the conquest of the central political power by insurrection and armed struggle, and the establishment of the dictatorship of the proletariat. It is only after having seized power, after having founded its own exclusive class power, lead by its party, that the proletariat will have the means of intervening despotically and in a centralized manner in society to overthrow, the possessing classes, along with all their points of support and to root out capitalism.
Yesterday, at the time of the revolutionary wave after the First World War, it was necessary to point out the forgotten cardinal points of revolutionary communism; since the depth and the length of the counter-revolution have made any trace of the Marxist tradition within the proletarian masses of the world disappear, this politico-programmatic struggle is even more necessary today since it is to be desired that, tomorrow, at the time of the next revolutionary wave, the proletariat does not allow itself to be misled by falsely extremist anti-party currents.
(1) cf “Workers’ democracy”, “L’Ordine Nuovo”, 21/6/1919.
(2) cf “The program of L’Ordine Nuovo”, “L’Ordine Nuovo” 14-28/8/1920. In an article of 5/6/1920, Gramsci had written: “the revolutionary organizations (the political party and the trade-union associations) are in the camp of political liberty, in the camp of bourgeois democracy (...): the revolutionary process develops in the camp of production, in the factory, where the relations are those of oppressor to oppressed, of exploiter to exploited, where freedom does not exist for the worker, where democracy does not exist (...).
The working class affirms that as well as industrial power, that the source of industrial power must return to the factory, to pose the factory anew, from the workers point of view, as the form in which the working class constitutes itself into a specific organic body, like the cell of a State, the workers’ State, as the basis of a new representative system, the system of the councils. The workers’ State, since it is born from a productive configuration [Good-bye Marx, hello Proudhon!], already creates the conditions of its development, of its dissolution as State, to its organic incorporation in a world system, the Communist International”, etc.
(3) cf “Program of the KAPD” in “Not parliament, nor trade unions: for Workers’ Councils! Left communists in the German revolution (1918-1922)” Ed. Les nuits rouges, p. 94-108. Being able to make here only some short allusions to the problems, we return the reader to the chapter of the Storia (History of the communist Left) “The marxist left of Italy and the international communist movement”, PC n° 58.
(4) cf “For the constitution of workers’ councils in Italy”, “Il Soviet”, IIIrd year, n°1 (4/1/1920), Programme Communist n°74, p. 66. “Il Soviet” was the organ of the current of the Communist Left which made its primary objective the foundation of the communist party. For a thorough criticism of the theses of Gramsci and ordinovist current, we return the reader to n° 71, 72 and 74 of “Programme Communist”.
(5) cf “For the constitution...”, “Il Soviet” n° 7, PC n° 74, p. 79.
(6) cf “For the constitution...”, “Il Soviet” n° 4, PC n° 74, p. 72.
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