About the Russian-Ukrainian War
Against the War, on Both Sides, while the War Goes On
(«communist program»; Nr. 9; May 2023)
The position of the revolutionary communists regarding imperialist wars – whether they are fought locally or globally – has never changed: the interests of the proletarians of all countries involved in a war are first and foremost anti-bourgeois, i.e. in clear opposition to the interests of the national bourgeoisie of each country, and therefore anti-imperialist, i.e. against any interest of domination by their own or foreign imperialism. However, it is neither a pacifist position, nor one calling for general disarmament, nor a neutral position; and it holds for both revolutionary communists and conscious proletarians of countries which, because of specific interests of their bourgeois ruling class, do not actively engage in the conflict and do not support one side or the other in the war.
In every country the proletarian class is the class against which a relentless daily struggle is waged on the part of the bourgeoisie to subordinate it and keep it subjugated, exploited and enslaved. The reason is simple: it is only from the exploitation of wage labor that the bourgeoisie in every country extracts surplus value, i.e. the real valorization of every capital invested, which the capitalists’ pocket in full and then divide into profits and rents. Just as each bourgeoisie cannot do without the extensive and intensive exploitation of wage labor and the sacrifice of ever larger masses of proletarians to the god of profit, so it cannot do without the sacrifice of ever larger masses of proletarians in the military conflicts to which each bourgeoisie is driven by international competition. The imperialist development of capitalism does not mitigate its contradictions, but increases their explosive economic and social potential. Since the outbreak of the First World Imperialist War, capitalism has entered its final stage of development: it can no longer stop, it can no longer go back, it must become ever more concentrated and centralized. And in this process of development, war – that is, foreign policy pursued by other means, namely military means – becomes inevitable. Just as economic and financial crises are part of the historical course of capitalism, so is war, which is no more than the culmination, in certain historical situations, of the socio-economic crisis of the most developed capitalisms. Just as the bourgeoisie seeks to resolve the crisis of its economic structure by adopting economic and political factors which inevitably counteract the interests of the competing bourgeoisies (conquest of new markets, more intensive exploitation of existing markets, ever more intense exploitation of its own proletariat and the proletariat of weaker countries), so it seeks to “resolve” the war conflict by establishing a peace which is nothing more than an interlude between one war and another.
Every bourgeoisie has always been aware of this, and has been preparing itself for the inevitable outcome into a military confrontation with the bourgeoisie that opposes it. That is why, in addition to the ever-increasing development of armaments and military technology and the strengthening of existing alliances or establishing new ones, it is unleashing a massive nationalist campaign to involve (in one way or another) the proletarian masses in the defense of the national economy, the fatherland and, hear, hear!, peace!
It is precisely this involvement that the proletarians must oppose; they must fight not for the interests of the national economy or of a fatherland that was never theirs, but for their own class interests, which are antagonistic to those of their own bourgeoisie as much as to those of any other bourgeoisie.
The class interests of the proletariat are extremely concrete and form the material basis of its struggle and class solidarity. When the bourgeois declare that they have “common” interests with those of the proletarians (such as saving the enterprise from competition, saving the national economy, saving the fatherland), they are not only declaring an untruth, they are not only trying to deceive the workers in order to subordinate them even more to the demands of capital and capitalist profit; they set up an ideological construct based on the fundamental blackmail which is the basis of the capitalist relation of production: it is the capitalist who “gives work” to the proletarian – that is why he calls himself “employer” – and the proletarian either works for this or that capitalist or starves to death. The capitalist is the owner of the means of production and of production itself; the proletarian is the owner of nothing but his own physical labor-power. The social force of capital has subordinated labor-power to its own laws and is interested in maintaining this domination. But labor force can only transform itself into social force if it struggles against the social force represented by capital, i.e. against the capitalists, and only if it unites its own physical labor-power with the physical labor-power of all other proletarians. Such a union has a very concrete material basis: the conditions of the workers subject to wage labor, i.e. to a work provided or not provided in this society only by the capitalists. The struggle for better working and living conditions was and is part of the day-to-day life of every proletarian. If the interests of the capitalist and the proletarian were truly “common”, i.e., if the interests they both would share equally consisted in having the same opportunities to live, to laze, to travel, to learn, the same opportunities to follow their inclinations and desires, the class division of society would be meaningless; there would be no capitalist owning everything and no proletarian owning nothing. In fact, bourgeois society has never been and will never be a society where liberty, equality and fraternity are finally a fulfilled reality. Bourgeois society is the opposite of a society of equals; it is the society in which social inequalities have reached levels that previous societies never reached. Bourgeois society is based on relations of production and property which both express and reinforce the domination of the bourgeois class over the other classes, particularly the proletariat. And it is precisely these bourgeois relations of production and property that create the antagonism between the bourgeois and proletarian interests. An antagonism which benefit the bourgeois class only insofar as the class of the proletariat does not recognize that it form an unbridgeable gulf between the two main classes of today’s society.
One of the advantages, and not a secondary one, which the bourgeois class has acquired – thanks to the tireless work of the most shameful opportunism of the self-proclaimed representatives of the proletariat, both in the trade union field and in the political field – is precisely that it has induced the proletarian masses to sacrifice their lives in peace and in war in favor of capitalist and bourgeois domination over society, thereby strengthening the shackles which bind them to the fate of capitalism.
To break these shackles means to recognize oneself as a social class that is independent of and antagonistic to the bourgeois class, as a social class that has its own objectives, not only immediate (unity of proletarian forces, class solidarity and better living conditions in this society) but also historical (emancipation from wage labor, i.e. from capitalism, and thus from the class divided society). The proletariat, as Marx and Engels’ Manifesto declared one hundred and seventy-four years ago, has a whole world to win. But it cannot achieve this as long as its struggle is paralyzed by opportunism and inter-class collaborationism, as long as its struggle does not break with social peace and put the class struggle at the forefront of its demands, accepting the same terrain of struggle on which the bourgeoisie is forced to set out to defend its class interests by all means.
The proletarians have the potential strength to oppose the bourgeois war as a class; but as long as they remain under the influence of the collaborationist, nationalist and social-chauvinist policies that led them to shed blood in the first and second world imperialist wars and in all the wars the bourgeoisie has waged since then, they will never escape the fate of being cannon fodder in peace as in war.
And the current Russo-Ukrainian war proves this for the umpteenth time, all the more so because it is not a local war, notwithstanding the geographical fact that it is so far confined to Ukraine, but a war in which the Euro-American and Russian imperialist powers are clashing on the Ukrainian theatre of war with the aim of establishing a new order on the continent and with a view to a future new world order that will inevitably require a world war, the third one.
The proletariat not only of the Ukraine and Russia, but of all countries, and in particular of Europe and America, has for the umpteenth time before it the prospect of whether it will continue to allow itself to be slaughtered by labor and toil, as well as on the war fronts, or whether it will finally rise up and take its fate into its own hands by declaring class war against the imperialist war.
RUSSIA’S BANDITRY AGAINST EURO-AMERICAN BANDITRY AND ITS UKRAINIAN VASSAL
The “special military operation” that Russia had claimed to “demilitarize” and “denazify” Ukraine (in reality, to prevent Ukraine from joining NATO, to annex Donbas after doing so with Crimea, and to subordinate Ukraine to its imperialist interests), which was supposed to take place within a few months according to Russian intentions, turned out to be a long-term war. The duration of the war is mainly determined by the fact that Great Britain, Germany, Italy… and European Union and, above all, the United States are supplying Kiev with arms and billions to continue the war, supporting Zelensky’s propaganda under the slogan “let’s fight until we get back Donbas and Crimea”, and the European/US propaganda of economic sanctions that will “put Russia down for a long time”. The anti-Russian sanctions have undoubtedly plunged the Russian economy into a crisis, which, if prolonged, could have political repercussions on the stability of Putin’s government and could even cause social tensions. However, given the real dependence of the German, Italian and, in general, European economies on Russia for gas, oil and other raw materials, Germany, Poland and, to some extent, Italy, as well as Bulgaria and the Baltic States, have also begun to fall into economic crisis. The Netherlands and Denmark appear to be approaching zero Russian gas supplies as well. In fact, the dependence of the European economy, particularly on Russian gas, has put Europe in a state of unprecedented vulnerability, all the more so as winter approaches (a period that normally requires twice the average consumption; in fact, according to the latest figures, the EU’s average consumption from April to September is 130 billion cubic meters and from October to March 270 billion cubic meters). The problem for the Europeans is that they are unable to replace Russian gas supplies, as they pompously proclaimed, except within a few years; in the meantime, gas has become enormously more expensive, giving speculators an unexpected advantage and giving Russia itself a boost, which for its part has secured supplies, albeit at low prices, to China, India and Turkey. It has to be said that Russia has not cut off gas supplies going to Ukraine – it has retained this weapon as a potential final “coup de grâce” – and is making the Kiev treasury pay a fortune for it, while it in turn is being fed with Euro/US billions… On the other hand, resorting to coal again, as Germany and to a lesser extent Italy have done, notwithstanding the denial of all promises to decarbonize industry in favor of renewables, does not solve the energy problem of the super-industrialized European countries; nor does the resort to liquefied natural gas (of which the United States immediately turned out to be the most important supplier) solve much, since, in addition to being much more expensive than gas supplied through pipelines, it requires an extensive network of regasification plants to convert it back into a gaseous state, which does not yet exist in Europe. It is obvious that the general economic difficulties are leading European countries to pass the costs on to the proletarian masses, as they have always done; except that it is happening after two years of pandemic and economic recession; moreover, for this very reason the factors of contrasts between European countries themselves will intensify and sharpen. The case of Orbán’s Hungary may not be an isolated one, all the more so if we connect it with the case of Erdogan’s Turkey, which for its own state reasons continues to balance itself between NATO/US and Russia with the aim of becoming an indispensable strategic partner in the inter-imperialist relations between the NATO powers and Russia, Iran and other medium-sized powers of the Middle East. The Russia-Ukraine war has caused enormous destruction and will cause much more, as it will plunge Ukraine into an unprecedented economic and social crisis in a short time. It has prompted almost 10 million Ukrainians to leave their towns and homes, and their flight could go nowhere but to Western European countries. Notwithstanding the hypocritical humanitarian propaganda of European governments, it is partly inevitable that this huge influx of people will sooner or later cause social problems in coexistence, especially with the native working masses and the masses of legal or illegal immigrants from African and Asian countries, thereby increasing rivalry between them (deliberately, by local state policies). While immigration from African and Asian countries has long been and still is made up primarily of men and boys, the Ukrainian refugee population is overwhelmingly made up of women and minors, as adult males have been forbidden to leave the country, forcing them to fight to “defend the fatherland”. For this reason, and also because of the humanitarian propaganda that Western European countries are skillfully spreading, Ukrainian women and their children are much better received than immigrants from Africa and Asia were and are: Ukrainian refugees are not forced to cross deserts, forests or barbed wire barriers, as migrants in Europe or the United States have had to do up to now, and they do not have to experience the martyrdom and violence of concentration camps like those in Libya before crossing the sea in the hope of landing in Italy or Spain.
As for destruction, for capitalism, it represents an enormous business for all companies, both domestic and foreign, which are eager to take a bite out of the profits that foreign capitalists are now pocketing, mainly from the arms industries and their allied sectors.
NATIONALISM, DEMOCRACY AND WAR ARE ALWAYS INEXTRICABLY LINKED
As we have already written in our articles in the press, the great problems of the Ukrainian and Russian proletariat – and consequently also of the proletariat of the countries which have lined up in support of the two war fronts – revolve around nationalism, which serves as a binder of the class collaboration, that is the policy systematically applied by all capitalist states. After the fall of the Berlin Wall, the collapse of the Russian empire and the bloody wars in Yugoslavia, the propaganda of false socialism in the variants of “people’s democracy”, “self-management” and “economic planning” has completely lost its effectiveness. It has moved more and more towards the propagandistic juxtaposition of “democracy” and “totalitarianism” (or “fascism”), while constantly at various junctures harping on the usual mix of “freedom” and “authoritarianism”, “defense of sacred borders” and “legitimate response to external aggression”.
The fact that socialism is no longer brought up, as it was in the days of Stalin and post-Stalinism, to cover up capitalist reality and bourgeois class interests is objectively positive. It does not in itself clear the terrain of bourgeois mystifications which, no matter how much bourgeois propagandists or those paid by the bourgeoisie try to “innovate”, always revolve around the same ideological concepts: democracy–totalitarianism, freedom–authoritarianism.
In the “Prospettive del dopoguerra” of 1946, we wrote:
«Although Western democracies progressively evolve towards totalitarian and fascist forms, they will be able for many reasons, which are a direct consequence of their social base and position in the world (especially the United States), to play comedy for the defense of all freedoms for a long time to come. [… ] That there is nothing of formal democracy in Russia (the one, as a matter of fact, is everywhere a chimera) and of a representative system of liberal stamp, has always been known, but it was convenient for the anti Hitler propaganda for many years to pretend its belief in the democratization of the Russian regime. We are seeing and shall see how this thesis is step by step transforming into the opposite one, and how the oligarchic and oppressive character and the overbearing and cruel methods which have hitherto been reproached to the Nazi beasts by these lambs of the parliamentary democracies are being reproached to the Russian governmental apparatus.”
We are well aware that Stalin’s Soviet regime and the regime after Stalin were considered by the lambs of parliamentary democracies to be no different from fascism, so much so that they equated fascism and communism. After the collapse of the USSR, the world media hailed the fall of “communism” and the victory of “democracy”, but the very evolution of Western democracies has amply demonstrated our 1946 thesis: totalitarian and fascist forms – albeit disguised to some extent by “formal democracy” – have increasingly characterized the bourgeois regimes of the industrial countries, that is, not only America and Europe, but also Russia and China, the last imperialist power to appear on the world stage in time, which for reasons of the convenience of its propaganda insists on presenting its regime as one ruled by the “Communist Party”. It will probably not be long before China is labeled as the new “fascism” to be fought against; Tibet, Hong Kong and Taiwan constitute stages on the road to annexation (or to the restoration of national unity, as the Chinese claim), which China has been pursuing for a long time.
The increasingly acute economic and financial competition in the bourgeois world commands that the two great opposing myths should once again manifest themselves: democracy versus totalitarianism, democracy versus fascism. Hence the ever more pressing campaign for the defense of the national economy by each state needs to be “ennobled” through a revived and ever more vigorous nationalism and the assertion of the “values” of its own “history”, its own “culture”, its own “civilization”. The bourgeoisie in each country, in the development of its political and social domination, has destroyed the “values” of its own country’s previous history, culture and civilization in order to impose the values of the new capitalist economy, the new bourgeois power, the new religion of capitalist profit, in order to influence more powerfully the dominated masses – the proletarians, the peasants, the petty bourgeoisie – and thus prepare them to sacrifice themselves in local wars, and even more so in the world war; and has no choice but to combine its oppressive and repressive methods with what it proclaimed itself in the course of its development to be “expired commodity”, “a commodity of no value”: the culture, civilization and history of previous societies, and repackages them again, presenting them as a “commodity” of such high value that it demands, for its “defense”, the very lives of the dominated masses. The means of propaganda in the hands of the bourgeoisie, however, can only be the product of its own society, in which mercantile relations prevail, in which everything is a commodity, including the life of every human being, and in which the prospect of the future is nothing but a re-edition, moreover a worsened one, of the present oppressive and repressive society.
FALSE ALTERNATIVES: DEMOCRACY OR TOTALITARIANISM
World imperialism has its roots in capitalism itself, thus in the laws of economic, financial, political and military competition, just like any national capitalism; alliances, “unions” and the various “pacts of cooperation” between states are nothing more than a manifestation of the fact that every national capitalism must equip itself as best it can at the highest and state level in order to defeat the competition on a market that has long been global and which, precisely because of this – as between local and national firms – must be countered with more force, with more weapons at its disposal. Capitalist concentration, monopoly, trusts arise out of capitalist development itself, out of the need to extend the scope of intervention in markets, and thus to secure and widen the sources of profit. Economic warfare is an inherent part of the very DNA of capitalism, and it entails political organization in order to control the productive forces from which surplus value is extracted, and hence profit; it entails the strengthening of the central organs of the state in order to impose social control, through which capitalists protect themselves against the economic crises of their economic system and the social tensions that the exploitation of the proletariat inevitably provokes. Alliances between states are necessary to counter the action and aggression of other states (and the capitalists they represent) on the world market. Of course, like any contract between merchants and between robbers, any alliance can last for a longer or shorter period of time depending on the actual benefits to the members of such alliance. And Italy has been a master at breaking the alliances to which it belongs. In fact, every state, every bourgeois regime – no matter whether “democratic” or “totalitarian” – cannot limit itself to repressive means in order to mobilize the masses to defend the national economy and to defend the regime itself; it must motivate them ideologically, as well as economically and socially, so that they take an active part in that defense.
At the time of the First World Imperialist War, the mobilization of democratic regimes was motivated by defense against the aggression of autocratic regimes, the Central Powers; autocratic regimes mobilized their masses to defend their history, their civilization, their order against democratic regimes that would invade the markets and destroy the existing world order. At the time of the Second Imperialist World War, democratic regimes mobilized their masses in defense of freedom, democracy and civil rights against the totalitarianism represented by fascism, Nazism and the “modern” Asian despotism represented by Hirohito’s Japan. After the end of the First World War and the Second World War, the world, finally “brought to peace” – according to bourgeois propaganda – was to develop without further wars and, thanks to the extraordinary development of technical and technological innovation and the victory over Nazism Fascism, to distribute economic and social wealth among all the peoples of the world. But already with the Korean War in 1950, the possibility of a third world war loomed on the horizon, bringing about a conflict between two opposing imperialist blocs whose superpowers had been allies in the war against Nazi-Fascism only a few years before. After the military defeat of Nazi-Fascism, the victorious powers inherited from fascism one of the most effective social policies ever adopted by the bourgeoisie, thanks also to the decisive contribution of the opportunist forces of false socialism and the deceptive representation of the immediate interests of the proletariat: the institutionalization of collaboration between the classes. However, peace between states, and therefore between nations, was not and could not be the result of the policy of class collaboration, because such a policy always and in every case corresponds to the interests of individual national capitalisms and does not eliminate the fundamental antagonism between wage labor and capital. The post-war peace has served the bourgeoisie in all countries, victorious and defeated, to rebuild, to put the whole capitalist mechanism of production back into operation, to consolidate the dominant positions won by victory in the war, and to once again weave the network of national capitalist interests in the countries that emerged defeated from the war. Peace, as Lenin repeatedly emphasized, is but an interlude between imperialist wars, whether at the world or regional level.
The bourgeois relations of production and property have not altered with the change from fascist to democratic regimes, just as they did not alter before with the change from democratic to fascist regimes: they are the backbone of the entire capitalist economy, whatever the bourgeois regime. Thus, if on the one hand bourgeois relations of production and ownership, imposed all over the world, form the basis of the economy of every country, on the other hand they reassert the laws of capitalism, which provoke ever deeper, sharper and more extensive contrasts, but without contradicting the general historical trajectory of capitalism which leads to open centralization and open totalitarianism.
For our part, we acknowledged the characteristics of capitalism, not socialism, in the economic and social structure of Stalin’s Russia, and so we reaffirmed that in the historical phase that emerged from the Second World Imperialist War, «the Russian regime is not a proletarian regime and the Moscow state has become one of the components of capitalist imperialism”; yet we went on to say that «its centralized and totalitarian form appears to be more modern than the obsolete and moribund form of parliamentary democracy» (still from “Le prospettive del dopoguerra”, 1946). And it is precisely thanks to this centralization and totalitarianism (in fact, inherited from the proletarian Soviet regime established with the October Revolution and after that regime was destroyed) that capitalist Russia (i.e., the USSR) for a little more than sixty years blazed the trail of capitalist/imperialist development. Which, albeit with not proletarian but bourgeois revolutionary upheaval, was also undertaken in China during the 1950s.
THE PROLETARIAT EITHER FIGHTS FOR ITSELF OR REMAINS SLAVE OF THE BOURGEOISIE IN TIMES OF PEACE AS IN TIMES OF WAR
And so the dilemma facing the proletariat at that time with respect to a possible Third World War – to fight alongside the United States and its allied powers in defense of “democracy against totalitarianism”, or to fight alongside Russia and its satellites “for socialism against capitalism” – was resolved by our party by following the classical Marxist line: Neither with Truman nor with Stalin; this is how our position of revolutionary defeatism towards both imperialist blocs was succinctly summed up. Today it is no longer enough to say neither with Biden nor with Putin, because many other actors have appeared on the stage, in the first line as Xi Jinping, in the second as Macron and Scholtz, or in the third as Draghi. The substance, however, does not change: against any national bourgeoisie, whether or not it is involved in a war conflict.
The link with the positions of Marx and Engels can be found in the “Manifesto of the Communist Party” itself: the proletariat fights its own bourgeoisie at first, and in order to make itself the ruling class, as did the Paris Commune, it fights for the conquest of political power against all its adversaries, even if these adversaries wage war against each other. In what else did Lenin’s revolutionary defeatism consist before, during and after the October Revolution if not in the uncompromising application of this Marxist directive? And it was not only with the defeatist interventions within the army during the war; it was also the case in the aftermath of the seizure of power, in the case of the Brest-Litovsk peace, when the main objective of the proletarian and communist power was to end the imperialist war, even at the cost of paying a high price in terms of territorial losses, as indeed it did, and to prepare with its own proletarian army to defend the conquered power against both the domestic White Guard forces and the imperialist powers attacking from outside.
Revolutionary defeatism does not mean disarmament, but it means the disorganization of the war production and military forces of the bourgeoisie in order to weaken it, to show the other strata of the common people that we are against imperialist war and its tragic consequences, to show the proletarians of the other belligerent powers that we do not want to participate in their massacres, perpetrated by the bourgeois powers, and to prepare and organize in the meantime (in the army and in society) the own proletarian armed forces, both in view of the inevitable repression by the bourgeois state and in view of the inevitable attack by the existing imperialist states once the revolution has won. Revolutionary defeatism is part of the tactics of the programme of the revolutionary communist party, applied particularly in the pre-war and war period, i.e. in the period when it assumes the role of a decisive tactic.
Yet none of this happened before, nor is it happening during the Russian-Ukrainian war itself. Russian and Ukrainian proletarians did not express any class opposition to the war. But a class opposition to war is not born overnight; it is the result of a social opposition that is born over a long period of time, out of the classist struggle in which the proletarians gain experience of struggle, of organization, verify the strength and weakness of their own claims and their class solidarity and the strength of the bourgeoisie, get to know those who act in support of their struggle and those who obstruct it, sabotage it or openly oppose it by working alongside and in favor of the bourgeois forces. As, indeed, the German ruling Social Democracy did during the 1918–1919 revolution, and as the forces of “people’s democracy” did before, during and after the Second Imperialist World War, and which even today succeed in paralyzing the proletariat. It is clear, therefore, that if there has been any resistance at all by the proletarians in Russia and Ukraine so far to the Russo Ukrainian war, it has not been on the fertile soil of the class struggle, but out of a more than justified fear of going to die for a cause they do not share, or out of an immediate interest in saving their families; motives which are more than “natural”, but far from being vehicles for the revival of the class. Of course, the more the general conditions of the proletarians in the industrial countries deteriorate, the more the factors of social crisis accumulate, and the more easily anger and struggles can erupt, out of which can arise concrete experiences and needs for a orientation that is more solid and classist, for future struggles. And it is in these situations that the party, if it is present with its militants, can intervene, can be recognized as a useful if not indispensable subject for the establishment of the class orientation necessary to ensure that the lessons and experiences of the struggles, once over, are not dissipated and forgotten, but may form a basis for classist connection with struggles in other parts of the country or in other countries.
What has been happening for some time now is the accumulation of not insignificant crisis factors that trigger explosions of social anger and struggles, most easily in countries on the periphery of imperialism, as recently in Sri Lanka or as at the time of the “Arab Spring” (2010–2014). Struggles which, because they cannot count on an organized proletariat on the class terrain, are inevitably influenced and directed by the forces of inter-class collaboration and are doomed to exhaust their energies in the fetid labyrinths of collaborationism.
This in no way detracts from our task of reiterating and disseminating, however little our means of propaganda are listened to, concrete assessments of the situation, and thus indicating the class line which the proletariat will have to adopt – even in times that are not imminent – in order to become once again a social force with its own objectives, its own watchwords, its own criteria of organization. Our primary task today is still that which the comrades of the Communist Left set themselves after the Second imperialist World War: to assimilate Marxist theory, to revive the lessons of the counter-revolutions, to adhere firmly to the programmatic and political foundations laid down by the party at that time, and to do so, if possible, with even greater intransigence than that which characterized the entire course of the Italian Communist Left.
As a result of the tenacious and brutal work of opportunism and collaborationism in their various variants, today’s (and future) proletarian generations have been deprived of the living, material connection that the comrades of the Communist Left during the forties and fifties still maintained with the class struggles of the Communist Party of Italy and the international communism of the 1920s, and which they sought to pass on to younger generations of proletarians.
This physical, material connection, which the proletariat in every country has lost, actually lives on in the party we represent, even if only embryonically; the viability and continuity of the party depends on the firmness with which we can maintain the political line that the party has set out from 1945–1946 onwards, and on the profound conviction of the historical course on which our activity is based, an activity which, even in the few elements that we are today, could and can only come from the real confirmations of Marxism.
The economic and social contradictions that permeate capitalism are historically destined to erupt periodically, sometimes locally, sometimes globally, unleashing social forces in the inevitable clash of class struggle. The problem is that the class struggle, for the time being, has only one protagonist: the bourgeois ruling class, which never ceases to wage its struggle against the proletariat in all spheres, from the economic and social to the ideological-political, cultural and religious, attacks against which the proletarians have usually so far presented themselves as defenseless.
The certainty of the resumption of the class struggle by the proletariat – even if not in the immediate future – lies, according to the perspective already defined by Marxism, precisely in the historical course of capitalism and its contradictions. It was this certainty that has provided the comrades of the Communist Left of Italy with the strength not to succumb in time, despite their modest numbers and the fact that they found themselves alone in the world fighting against the giant oppressive and repressive machinery of the bourgeoisie and Stalinism, united above all against the world proletariat and, of course, against the indomitable representatives of revolutionary Marxism, the tenacious defenders of the political line followed by Lenin and the Communist Left of Italy.
We today are not the heirs of those magnificent class battles; we have not been given a “natural” right, much less a “legal and administrative” right, to the theoretical and political, tactical and organizational heritage of the party of yesterday. After the counter-revolution had pronounced its verdict on the Bolshevik Party of Lenin, on the Communist International, on the Communist Party of Italy, it tried in every possible way to do away with the International Communist Party, which had been reconstituting itself between 1945 and 1952 and had been functioning as a homogeneous organization since 1952; however, with the explosive crisis of 1982–1984, the counter-revolution succeeded in its intent: that party no longer exists.
Since 1985, we have undertaken the task of reconstituting the party organization that could become the International Communist Party of 1952, if it would develop without succumbing to the influences of various variants of opportunism. But the party, as we have always understood it, is a living, acting organism that for a very long time struggles against forces and tendencies based on powerful economic and material forces that the counter-revolution has intensified over time. It was therefore conceivable that our “yesterday’s” party would degenerate, just as the Communist International and its member parties degenerated.
But what the counter-revolution could not and cannot do away with are the material contradictions of capitalism, in which a volcanic magma is formed that after reaching a very high social temperature inexorably pushes with unstoppable force against the social bulwarks – the bourgeois forms of production and exchange – until it unleashes that fiery mass constituted by the social power of the proletariat, which historically has an alternative:
– either to burst into social reality without defined historical perspectives and, with the passing of the powerful outburst of that true “natural” force which is the productive forces, to forfeit its strength and vitality, to exhaust itself, to cool down and return to being only class for capital;
– or under the leadership of the class party – which is the only political organ that has a clear knowledge of the historical movement of the proletarian class struggle – get organized and directed towards the historical goals set out by Marxism, both on the pre-revolutionary terrain of the class struggle and on the revolutionary terrain of the conquest of political power, or on the terrain of the already conquered political power establishing the class dictatorship exercised by the party.
In order to be such class party, it is necessary to work politically in the long term on the line already laid down by our yesterday’party and which we have the task not only of reaffirming – the bare minimum for revolutionary communists – but also of bringing it to life by consistent and continuous party activity, while maintaining a close link with the theory from which every possible step forward in the direction of future victory derives.
We have said it many times, and it is worth emphasizing again: «For us Marxists, that knowledge is there before the process is enough; but not universally so, not in the masses, not in the majority (a term without a deterministic meaning) of the class, but in even a small minority of it, at a certain point even in a tiny group, and even – be scandalized, activists! – in a momentarily forgotten writings. But groups, schools, movements, texts, theses form a continuum in the long course of time that is nothing but the party, impersonal, organic, unique precisely because of this pre-existing knowledge of revolutionary development» (“Sul filo del tempo: Danza di fantocci, dalla coscienza alla cultura”, 1953).
Our activity is part of this continuity, which has been formed in the long course of time by groups, schools, movements, texts, theses, and which is nothing but the party, impersonal, organic, unique precisely because of this pre-existing knowledge of revolutionary development.
What kind of epoch are we living in?
In 1953 the same article from the “Sul filo del tempo” (“on the thread of times”) series read: «The epoch under way is unfavorable for the proletarian class, the revolution and the revolutionary party. But when the time comes, all three will rise again together».
What is the difference between this epoch and ours?
There is no doubt that it is still unfavorable, but today there is a positive political reality: the counter-revolutionary grip of the false socialism represented by Stalinism – and post-Stalinism – has come to an end. The bourgeois counter-revolution is increasingly presenting itself with the face of democracy; the “great confession” that we were expecting from the Stalinists regarding the economic and social structure of Russia took place first on the economic and social level, then, with gnashing of teeth, on the ideological-political level.
This does not mean that the task of the revolutionaries is easier today than yesterday, because opportunism, which found its greatest anti-proletarian force in Stalinism and post-Stalinism, will renew itself in other guises simply because capitalism, bourgeois society, provides it with its material base, and as long as capitalism and the bourgeoisie are on their feet, opportunism will always have fertile ground in which to take root. Therefore, the struggle against opportunism, which we can historically relate to through the texts, theses and works of Lenin and the Communist Left of Italy, is a struggle that must never cease. Our political task is therefore also to recognize opportunist tendencies early on.
In fact there is no better way to create political antidotes then by drawing on the struggles against various forms of opportunism waged by our great predecessors, starting with Marx, Engels and Lenin.
Il comunista - le prolétaire - el proletario - proletarian - programme communiste - el programa comunista - Communist Program