To Russian and Ukrainian Proletarians
(«Proletarian»; Nr. 20; Autumn-Winter 2023)
PROLETARIANS OF RUSSIA AND UKRAINE!
For some ten years now you have been bombarded with suffocating nationalist and imperialist propaganda, and therefore words like ours have hardly reached you and can hardly reach you. Nevertheless, we want to continue with this appeal of ours and to send it to your ranks, because sooner or later, in Italian, English, French, Russian… these words will reach you. Let it be a comfort to you to know that outside Russia, outside Ukraine, outside the states supporting this or that belligerent power, there is nevertheless a political grouping with its roots in Marxism, in the glorious October 1917, in Lenin’s formidable Bolshevik Party, which Stalin destroyed, and in the tradition of the current of the Italian Communist Left, which alone in the world, after the historical drama of the theory of “socialism in one country” and the second world imperialist war, worked tirelessly for the restoration of Marxist doctrine and the reconstitution of the international class party; a political grouping that firmly believes, as Marx, Engels and Lenin believed, in the inevitability of the struggle between the classes and in its necessary historical outcome in the proletarian and communist revolution in order to overthrow once and for all capitalism, which today in its putrid imperialist phase continues to destroy the productive forces, the lives of workers and the environment for the sole purpose of capitalist profit, for which proletarians of all ages, sexes and nationalities are systematically exploited, plunged into misery and turned into cannon fodder every time the competitive struggle between capitalists and between states reaches the level of a war conflict.
The war that has been destroying tens of thousands of lives and many Ukrainian cities for a year now, and that has been responsible for ten of millions of refugees, is the war in which each of the imperialist blocs involved directly or indirectly pursues its own interests, sacrificing in doing so the blood of proletarians thrown against each other in defense of territorial, economic, financial and political interests that have nothing to do with the living conditions of the proletarians themselves. Both the Russian and Ukrainian proletarians know that it is they who will emerge dramatically as the losers from the bourgeois-imperialist war, as from every economic and financial crisis. The bourgeois propaganda about democracy, thanks to which the living and working conditions of the proletarians should be improved, as well as the propaganda about a strong and militarized state which, by defending national interests, would also defend the interests of the proletarians, are the instruments by which the bourgeois ruling classes, fighting among themselves, want to make the respective proletariats believe that their main interest is to defend the fatherland, the nation, the sacred national sovereignty, national capitalism, endangered by the aggression of the enemy.
Capital is aggressive by its very nature and the first target of its aggression is precisely the proletariat, the class of wage workers, because it is from their systematic and permanent exploitation that the capitalists extract the famous surplus value, which is then transformed into profit through the mercantile system. Furthermore, it is natural for capitalists to attack competing capitalists because they seek to expand their market to the detriment of their competitors. And it is the principle of mercantile competition that the bourgeoisie in every country transfers directly to the working masses by pitting the wage-laborers against each other, both in the economic and in the social and cultural fields. To accustom the proletarians to compete with each other is to accustom them to wage war against each other, today for the sake of higher wages, for the sake of job security, to differentiate themselves from proletarians of another sex or nationality, tomorrow for the sake of a country that has become a “victim” of foreign commercial or military aggression.
PROLETARIANS HAVE NO COUNTRY!
This is not a mere slogan, it has been a reality for at least two hundred years. All proletarians suffer the same treatment in every company, in every industry, in every country: they are exploited by capitalists – private and state, always capitalists – because of their obligation to work for a wage. If you don’t work, you don’t eat, if you don’t work, you don’t live, but in order to work you have to submit to the existing system, the capitalist system, in which the bourgeois ruling class is the master of everything – the means of production, land, products and capital – and the wage-working class is the master of nothing, not even of its own life. The proletarians, however, can counter the capitalists with an exceptional historical weapon: their productive social power, since as wage labor they allow capitalism to exist. The historical problem, then, is this: either the capitalist mode of production, and hence the dictatorship of the bourgeoisie, will hold, or the dictatorship of the bourgeoisie will be overthrown, and the mode of production will be transformed from capitalism into socialism and ultimately into communism, i.e., into a society in which classes, capital, money, the market, competition, crisis and war no longer exist.
Utopia? No, it is the objective of the communist program, for which the proletarians of Berlin, Vienna, Paris, Milan fought in 1848, the proletarians of the Paris Commune in 1871, the Russian proletarians in October 1917, the Chinese proletarians in 1925 and 1927. These were all battles which the world proletariat ultimately lost, but which left crucial historical lessons indispensable for the battles to come. The bourgeoisie also drew lessons and understood that it is the proletariat, when organized independently and directed by its class party, that is its real historical enemy. Today the Russian bourgeoisie, represented by the oligarchs around Putin, and the Ukrainian bourgeoisie, organized around the oligarchs represented by Zelensky, consider each other as enemies and send their proletarians to slaughter each other to win a war that no proletarian wanted. But history tells us that in the face of a revolutionary proletariat led by the revolutionary communist party they would be close allies, as the Prussians and the French were in 1871 when they waged war against each other, and as the Germans, the Tsarist and very democratic British and French were in 1917–1921, during and immediately after the First World Imperialist War, against the victorious Russian proletarian revolution and its class dictatorship. The proletarians have no fatherland, no borders, they have the whole world to win. In the bourgeois war, their struggle for survival must begin by fraternizing with each other and applying that revolutionary defeatism which forms the basis of a resurgent class upsurge. Their struggle must involve breaking off collaboration with their own bourgeoisie, let alone with the bourgeoisie of other countries, because the goal of the proletarian struggle is internationalist and international.
In the bourgeois imperialist warfare, immediate interests are inevitably intertwined and intermingled with the more general and historical interests of the proletariat, even if the proletarians do not realize it themselves. It is the war policy of the bourgeois state that could elevate the level of class conflict to the general political level. The proletariat is forced by the reality of war to take sides either on the side of the bourgeois front – and is driven into this by the collaborationism of the unions and politicians – or on the terrain of the class struggle, in defense of its immediate and general interests which objectively concern all proletarians directly or indirectly involved in the war – and is impelled into this struggle by the class party.
Today neither the Russian nor the Ukrainian proletarians have the strength to break with their respective bourgeoisies, and even the class party has yet to develop as real force. But the day will come when they will take the path of the class struggle.
February 17th, 2023
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