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For May Day to once again become the international day of the proletariat in struggle for its class emancipation!



The great and fundamental historical objective of the class struggle of the proletariat is its emancipation from wage labour, from the bourgeois oppression which forces it to suffer the exploitation of its labour-power for the exclusive benefit of the bourgeois ruling class, for the exclusive benefit of the preservation of the capitalist mode of production and the bourgeois society which rests on it.

The proletarian class is the class that produces all the wealth of society, but it has no control over it, no power to decide what is to be produced, how it is to be produced, how much is to be produced and how production is to be distributed to satisfy the living needs of the whole human species. Its social position as wage-labourers imposes on it the obligation to submit to the capitalist law, according to which it is the capitalist class, the ruling class, which appropriates all production resulting from the application of the labour power of the proletarian class to the means of production. This private appropriation – that is, the deprivation of the majority of the human population of the possibility of disposing of production in accordance with its own needs – is, together with the private ownership of the means of production, the characteristics of capitalism.

“The essential conditions for the existence and for the sway of the bourgeois class is the formation and augmentation of capital; the condition for capital is wage labor”. reads the Manifesto of Marx and Engels, written one hundred and seventy-six years ago. So capitalism would not exist if there were no wage labour; wage labour would not exist if there were no capitalism: these are the two pillars on which capitalist society stands.

What must the proletariat, i.e. the wage-labouring class, emancipate itself from? Precisely from its position as the wage-earning class, which, to live, is obliged to be exploited by capital according to its laws, which condition its formation, expansion and concentration. If the proletarians do not work, they do not get a wage and therefore have nothing to eat. Capital exploits the class of wage workers through the daily work of the proletarians, organises it and decides the daily working hours, the timing and rhythm of each part of the total work to be done by each worker, the quantity of workers needed for production, etc. Capital has an interest in the maximum exploitation of the daily labour power it employs in the production of commodities, and against this maximum exploitation the proletarians, from the very first factories and manufactories, have begun to struggle to reduce the heavy oppression to which they are subjected. The workers' struggle inevitably springs from the immediate aspects of capitalist exploitation and tends to unite the workers of the same factory to achieve a less burdensome oppression.

With the development of capitalism and the constant enlargement of the proletarianised masses, and consequently of the wage workers, capital has the advantage of being able to staff its factories, its enterprises, with a selection of workers whom it deems most suitable for the particular productive needs of each enterprise,  drawing them from the much larger mass of workers than can be employed in the various enterprises. The development of capitalist production of commodities also entails the application of new techniques for the processing of raw materials, innovations that result in an ever-decreasing number of workers compared to previous production; thus the masses of proletarians employed in production and distribution are countered, on the other side, by a mass of unused, unemployed proletarians who are forced to survive on the margins of society. Thus, in addition to the technical innovations applied to the various production processes, which employ fewer proletarians than before, the mass of unemployed – the famous industrial reserve army, as Marx-Engels called it – inevitably puts pressure on the employed wage workers, simply because every proletarian, to live, must receive a wage. This creates competition between proletarians, fuelled, of course, by the bourgeois, for whom this competition has two important results: keeping the average wage at a generally low level and keeping the daily working hours at a much higher level than would be consistent with technical innovation; pitting proletarians against each other, dividing them and making it much more difficult for them to unite on the class basis.

The wage, in short, is the monetary value of the proletarian's working time, which corresponds to the value of the basic living necessities that can be obtained on the market and that are necessary for the daily reproduction of the labour power of each wage worker. Capitalist exploitation consists essentially in the capitalists accumulating an ever greater proportion of that part of the daily working time which does not correspond to the value of the goods necessary for life, that is, the surplus labour which is not paid to the proletarian and which is transformed under capitalism into surplus value, from which in turn capitalist profit is derived. Therefore, as long as there is the wage labour regime, there will be capitalism with all its contradictions, crises, catastrophes and massacres.

The historical struggle of the proletariat is necessarily aimed at the elimination of its specific oppression – wage labour – and therefore at the elimination of capital, whereby this regime of exploitation of man by man will be replaced by a society of producers, finally freed from all oppression thanks to the rational planning of the production, distribution and use of human labour, which will be able to express itself voluntarily and collectively without restriction, but only because it will be a social need involving all human beings. This historical goal is not only related to the disappearance of the ruling class, but of all classes, including the proletariat. In fact, the historical qualitative leap consists in the transition from a society divided into classes to a society in which classes will no longer exist and there will be no force of organised oppression in the form of the state, a military force useful only for the defence of capital, moreover of monetary wealth, which will no longer exist.

The path to this historical goal, that is, to a classless society, is of course long, arduous and full of obstacles and pitfalls of all kinds. The bourgeois society has organised itself not only so that it can exploit wage labour to the maximum in all corners of the world, but also so that it can defend its regime against any possible attack from the only social class whose revolutionary struggle it fears: that is, the proletariat, i.e. the class which has an interest in putting an end to the capitalist exploitative regime, since it is the class which undergoes the greatest sufferings.

The bourgeoisie cannot do without the proletariat because it only extracts surplus value from its exploitation and thus obtains capitalist profit; whereas the proletariat can do without the bourgeoisie because its labour produces everything that human society needs to live and develop.

The bourgeoisie cannot but oppress the lower classes precisely because of the exploitation to which they are subjected and against which they rebel. Nor can it do otherwise but compete in the market with the other bourgeoisies to defend or expand its market shares, of course to the detriment of its competitors; and in this competitive war it inevitably comes to the point where, when the markets are saturated with commodities, it uses military force and war to advance its own particular interests. The bourgeois state therefore serves both to keep the working class oppressed and to act against other bourgeois states in the international market. As long as capitalism and the bourgeoisie exist, there will be oppression, unrestrained competition and wars.

The proletariat will not be able for its revolution to rely on, as the bourgeoisie could do under feudalism, a mode of production already developing within capitalist and bourgeois social forms. But its social power as producer of all social wealth is sufficient for it to base its political revolution on it, through which it will have to overthrow the bourgeois political power, its state, its political, social, institutional and administrative apparatus, in short, the class dictatorship of the bourgeoisie; and replace it with the class dictatorship of the proletariat, through which it will be able to intervene with all its force and violence to prevent the bourgeois class from regaining its power, and to intervene in the economic system by initiating the liquidation of the structure of the economy based on individual enterprises and the wage labour regime in all areas in which the transformation of the capitalist economy into the socialist economy will be actually possible. It has always been clear to Marxists that this revolutionary transformation of society will not take place in a few days or weeks, but will take a very long time because the bourgeoisies in countries where the proletarian revolution has not yet triumphed will unite against the revolutionary proletariat, which has established its class dictatorship, to overthrow it and re-establish bourgeois power.

Furthermore, it has also always been obvious to Marxists that the proletarian revolution can begin even in a country which represents the weakest link in the international imperialist alliance, but indubitably at a time when capitalism at the world level has reached a crisis and when the bourgeois political forces, not only due to the instability brought about by the crisis and the war, but also due to the presence of the class struggle of the proletariat and the influence which the class party has gained over it, have not yet had time to reorganise themselves in a stable way.

In the face of such a historical scenario, only the class party, firmly anchored in Marxist theory and the dynamic balance sheets of revolutions and counter-revolutions, is capable of holding the course that will lead the proletariat to revolution, despite the fact that the bourgeoisie, with the help of all the forces of opportunism and social preservation, has succeeded in subjugating the proletarians in all countries in the decades following the end of the Second World Imperialist War; in the more advanced and richer capitalist countries, it compelled them to class collaboration, facilitated by democratic regimes, and in the less advanced and less rich countries used the harshest repression.

In 1921, the Communist Party of Italy (PCd'I) wrote in its May Day manifesto:

“The proletariat, whose future depends on its ability to break up the absurd and iniquitous bourgeois economic system, must regard the political institutions of the bourgeoisie, even where they are most concealed by democratic and parliamentary forms, as a machine constructed to oppress it and to defend the privileges of the exploiters. The revolutionary proletariat cannot find the path to its emancipation in the electoral institutions of the present regime, in the conquest of the bourgeois parliaments: it must strive, even though it sends representatives to them, to destroy them, together with the whole tangle of the state apparatus, with its bureaucratic, police and military organs, in order to realise the effective power of the productive class, of the productive class alone, in the dictatorship of the proletariat, in the republic of the proletarian councils”.

At that time, the general situation in Italy and Germany was indeed still revolutionary, and in Russia, the revolutionary victory of the proletariat supported the revolutionary struggle on the international level.

At that time, the class party not only existed, but had a tradition of political struggle that was intertwined with proletarian classist struggles, struggles that expressed a hitherto pristine revolutionary potential. However, the democratic and social-democratic blight attacked with such force and success not only the economic defence organisations (trade unions, leagues, cooperatives, etc.) but also the workers' parties that it inhibited and succeeded in preventing the maturation of revolutionary Marxism precisely within those communist parties which had joined the Communist International, and finally undermined the solid Bolshevik Party. We are still paying the consequences of the huge defeat of the proletarian revolution in Europe and then in Russia, not only in the form of the democratic degeneration of all workers' parties – even if they call themselves socialist or communist – but also in the form of anti-party attitudes and so-called anti-politics.

However, the very development of capitalism in its imperialist phase has exacerbated the contradictions of the bourgeois system and brought social contradictions to the fore once again, so much so that it has pushed even those Western democracies that for decades prided themselves on it, as an example of civilisation for all other countries, to slowly shed their masks and expose their true dictatorial, repressive and criminal character, as the most recent wars in Ukraine, Gaza and the Middle East have demonstrated.

For May Day to once again become the day of international struggle, the proletariat must decisively break with class collaboration, with the blunt means and methods of struggle put forward and recommended by the collaborationist trade unions and no less degenerate parties, which are directly dependent on the smooth running of the economy of the enterprises and the national economy; they must break with “strikes” in the form of impotent processions, with strikes which cause no damage to the bosses and which, on the contrary, are only economically detrimental to the strikers; it must break with the illusions of bourgeois democracy, which for more than a century has confused and deviated the class forces of the proletariat into the blind alleys of the supposed sovereignty of the people; it must reconquer the terrain of classist struggle, on which alone class solidarity can be reborn, with which every proletarian, regardless of age, sex, nationality, occupation, can feel part of a unitary international movement.

The strike must once again become a real weapon of the workers' struggle: it must once again be proclaimed with all its strength, and bargaining with the bosses must take place without interruption of the strike; the proletarian classist organisation must once again be completely independent of the bosses and the bourgeois institutions, and must consist exclusively of proletarians, wage workers, employed and unemployed. The objectives of the immediate defensive struggle must once again begin to focus on the drastic reduction of the working day, the rejection of overtime and piece work, of permanent employment for all, and the rejection of self-employment, which is in fact wage labour, on real wage increases, which must be more significant for the lowest paid categories, on the fight against harmful working environments and inadequate safety measures at work, on the fight for equal pay for women and men, native and immigrant workers; it must include the fight against the criminalisation of immigrants and the fight for their immediate legalisation and thus the improvement of their housing situation, which certainly does not rest in temporary stay facilities and deportation centres, which are real concentration camps.

Only then will those beautiful words about the emancipation of the proletariat finally have a real, historically bearing meaning and represent a goal that must be reached through partial struggles, which, however, are aimed at the same goal. Outside this line, the proletarian struggles will only show their impotence, they will not frighten anyone; on the contrary, they will contribute to the demoralisation and isolation of the proletarians and will more easily put them in a position where they will be more and more wage slaves for today and cannon fodder for tomorrow.


April, 15th 2024



International Communist Party

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