Communist Program Resumes its Publication
(«Proletarian»; Nr. 19; Autumn 2022)
Our party has always tried to spread internationally its program, its theses, its positions, showing the theoretical and programmatic continuity with the revolutionary communism founded by Marx and Engels, restored at the end of the 19th and the beginning of the 20th century by Lenin, reaffirmed and fiercely defended by the Communist Left of Italy, which was at the origin of the Communist Party of Italy and fought with intransigence against any deviation, anarchist, reformist or «centrist» (« maximalism »), but also and above all against Stalinism.
The Stalinist perspective of «building socialism in one country» meant that Soviet power broke its ties with the international proletarian revolution to devote itself exclusively to the development of the country; in an economically and socially backward Russia reduced to its own forces, this development could only take place in the direction of state capitalism. It was then inevitable that the Communist International, which was de facto led by Moscow, would degenerate completely. This degeneration, which began on the tactical level in 1922, continued on the organizational level, then on the more general political level and finally on the theoretical level, led to the transformation of the International into a mere instrument of the Russian state, which finally decided to dissolve it in 1943 in the middle of the world war. The participation of «Soviet» Russia in the imperialist war of 1939-1945 was the conclusion of the long degeneration of the international communist movement.
The proletarian revolutionary movement could only emerge from this abyss on the basis of the full restoration of the Marxist theory and communist program, which had been disfigured and falsified by the Stalinist movement, the agent of the capitalist counterrevolution in Russia and in the world.
What forces, however infinitesimal, were capable of carrying out this colossal task?
Trotskyism had demonstrated, both on the tactico-political level and on the theoretical level, that it was incapable of restoring Marxism. Sick of democracy and expediency, even if it referred to the great political and theoretical battles of the Trotsky of «Terrorism and Communism», and to his polemics of 1926 to defend Lenin’s positions against the false «Leninists» of Stalin or Bukharin, it never succeeded in raising itself to the best political and theoretical positions of its founder, and even less to those of a Lenin.
It only retained from Trotsky his opportunist and false positions of his last period of struggle, making them even worse: from the defence of bourgeois democracy to the «entryism» in the counter-revolutionary reformist parties, from the support to the so-called socialist state capitalist regimes to the alignment with nationalist organizations in the anti-colonial struggles, etc.
The Communist Left of Italy, of which Amadeo Bordiga was the best representative, demonstrated that it was the only political movement to set and carry out the vital task of restoring integrally the Marxist doctrine and the programmatic line consistent with it.
The struggles it waged in defence of Marxism within the Italian Socialist Party since 1912, before, during and after the First World War, and then within the Communist International founded in 1919, formed the basis for the constitution of the Communist Party of Italy in January 1921. Its theoretical and programmatic intransigence was taken at the time for a formalist mania and reduced too simplistically to anti-parliamentarianism – which was undoubtedly one of the characteristics of the Left.
It is the achievements of its theoretical, programmatic, political, tactical and organizational struggle, from its critique of parliamentarianism in the countries of old democracy, its analysis of fascism, to the conditions of admission to the International, to its fight not only against traditional reformism, but above all against the pseudo-revolutionary maximalism «centrism» and Gramsci’s deviations, that allowed the current of the Communist Left to begin the work of restoring Marxist positions and reconstituting the class party.
It knew that this work would be long and difficult. After the ravages of Stalinism, it was necessary to find in history, in the contradictions of society, in the causes of the defeat of the world revolution, the demonstration of the powerful validity of authentic, non falsified Marxism.
After the reorganization in Italy before the end of the Second World War of the militants who had resisted Stalinism, the elements most coherent with the traditions of the Communist Left succeeded, through discussions, clashes and ruptures, in picking up the thread not only from the programmatic and theoretical point of view, but also from the organizational point of view. In 1952 the Partito Communista Internazionalista-Il Programma Communista was born, and it linked its work, its activity and its perspectives to that thread of time that had been broken by Stalinism. From then on, one of the priority tasks of the party was to disseminate as widely as possible, in the different languages, the results of the theoretical restoration and the definition of the political and tactical lines around which it intended to develop, without forcing the pace with tactical or organizational expedients, but following a propaganda plan; as people of different nationalities came into contact with and integrated into the party, the need and the practical possibility of translating into the different languages theses and texts that, in the great majority of cases, had been written in Italian, emerged.
This is how translations of some texts began, in the form of pamphlets; and when in a given country sympathizers had the capacity to carry out a continuous activity, they organized themselves to publish reviews then papers.
Thanks also to the presence of Italian emigrant militants, this process took place in France, Belgium and Switzerland. In 1957, Programme Communiste, the party’s theoretical review in French, was published, followed in 1963 by the paper Le Prolétaire. Since French is much more widely spoken internationally than Italian, especially in Europe and Africa, but also in the Middle East and elsewhere, it was important to be able to spread the voice of the party in this language. It was also thanks to the emigration from Latin America and Spain to France and Switzerland that the party was able to count on elements from these regions, who had become militants, to organize the activity of sections around a magazine and a newspaper: in 1972 the Spanish-language review El Programa Comunista was published, and in 1974 the periodical El Comunista.
During this period there were many social and political upheavals; in Greece, Spain, Portugal, South America it was not only a post «68» type of agitation as in Germany and the Nordic countries, but real political earthquakes caused by economic and social crises; in some countries they led to brutal dictatorships, as in Greece with the dictatorship of the colonels, in Chile with Pinochet, in Argentina with the dictatorship of Videla, while in Portugal the dictatorship had to give way to a slow democratization, following the national liberation struggles in Angola and Mozambique which became independent in 1975. From 1974 to 1975, the party published a number of pamphlets in Portuguese («Characteristic Theses», «Lessons from the Counter-Revolutions», «The Fundamentals of Revolutionary Communism», etc.) to meet the need for knowledge of our positions in that country. 1974 saw the publication of the first issue of the Greek-language journal Kommunistikò Programa, while from 1969 to 1971 several issues of the Danish/Swedish-language journal Kommunistisk Program were published.
In Germany, the efforts to publish a party press, which had already begun in the early 1960s, took shape in 1974 with the publication of what was to become Kommunistisches Programm. In the same year the first issue of the Swiss supplement to Le Prolétaire was published, while the Belgian supplement was published in 1977. In 1978 El Oumami was published for the proletarians of the Maghreb and El Proletario for Spanish-speaking Latin America. They were followed by the publication in 1981 of a bulletin in Turkish Enternasyonalist Proleter, firstly for immigrant proletarians, and a bulletin in Portuguese Proletário for Brazil...
The Party’s effort responded to the need to provide militants of different nationalities with theoretical and political materials, knowing that this effort could not give short-term results; by attacking the theory, the program, the political, tactical and organizational lines that had constituted the basis of Lenin’s Bolshevik Party and of the Communist International and of the Communist Party of Italy, the Stalinist counter-revolution had destroyed the international communist movement for many decades.
The weak point of this effort was the English-speaking zone (Britain, the United States of America, especially), i.e., the zone where capitalism is the oldest and where imperialism has its strongest world gendarme. With the contribution of a few sympathizers, in the early 1970s texts began to be published in English that combined the balance sheet of the counter-revolution with the foundations of Marxist theory. The first text published was «The Fundamentals of Revolutionary Communism»; the party’s theoretical journal, Programme communiste, also was used to disseminate several texts in English: «The International Communist Party», «The Conditions of Admission to the Communist International», «The Theses on parliamentarism presented by the Communist Abstentionist Fraction of the Italian Socialist Party», and so on..
Finally, the first issue of an English theoretical review, Communist Program, was published in October 1975. The 8th issue of the journal should have been published in September/October 1982, but the internal crisis that occurred between July and October of that year prevented it.
This crisis, the most serious in the history of our party, provoked by the development within it of tendencies that ultimately liquidated the party («contingentist», «movementist», opposed by the academic and wait-and-see tendencies), broke the organization. The underlying theoretical errors – in particular the false evaluation of the historical situation and the erroneous ambition of the party to be a point of reference for the anti-nuclear and workers’ social movements – could only cause the explosion of an organization that had swollen numerically too lightly, relegating theoretical and programmatic assimilation to second or even third place.
After this crisis a small group of militants, conscious of the absolute necessity to make a ruthless assessment of the errors in which the party had fallen, resumed the work of re-establishing the theoretical, programmatic, political, tactical and organizational bases that had always distinguished the Communist Left of Italy and the International Communist Party that represented it at the international level.
Le Prolétaire, then Programme Communiste and El Programa Communista ensured the continuity of this work, especially in France and Switzerland. In Italy, the crisis, at first, did not seem to have hit the organization as hard as in other countries; but from 1982 to 1984, it resulted in the complete fragmentation of what seemed to be the «hard core» of the party. Il Programma Communista, the party’s historic title, ended up in the hands of a group of old comrades who, without even attempting an internal political struggle, appealed to the bourgeois law to take it over – before shutting themselves up behind Italian borders. Another group organized around a new publication, Combat; they defended the thesis of the «original vice» of the Italian Communist Left (an old accusation already formulated by Zinoviev at the beginning of the 1920s), which would be impeccable on the «theoretical» level, but completely deficient on the «political» level (as if it were possible to separate the theory from the political line of the party! ). But most of the comrades, completely disoriented by these events, abandoned political militancy and withdrew into private life. Only a handful of militants, grouped around the paper Il Comunista (which was already a partypaper before the crisis), opposed these deviations; in 1985 the activity of the party was able to reorganize itself in a homogeneous way on an international scale with the militants of Le Prolétaire.
It took years to consolidate the activities of the party overcoming the crisis of 1982-84. In 2002, thanks to supporters in Britain and Canada, the publication of the Proletarian newsletter began, aimed primarily at informing English-speaking readers of the party’s activities.
On the basis of the work of translation of the texts and theses of the party carried out for a long time, we finally have the possibility of publishing again the theoretical review Communist Program. No doubt that it will be a very important tool for the development and international implantation of the party in the period of renewal of proletarian struggles that is coming.
To symbolically underline the continuity with the previous work of the party, it was decided to continue the numbering interrupted almost 40 years ago: the first issue of the new publication is therefore number 8.
International Communist Party