Theses on the Historical Task, Action and Structure of the World Communist Party, according to the positions that have been the historical patrimony of the Communist Left for over half a century (Theses of Naples, 1965)
( «Il Programma Comunista», N° 14, 1965. Theses presented at the General Meeting of July 17-18 at Naples. Published in French in the brochure «Défense de la continuité du programme communiste», 1973)
1. The historically formulated positions regarding the party's ideology and theory, its action in successive historical situations, and hence its program, tactics and organizational structure, must be considered as a unified whole. On many occasions in the course of its struggle the Left has reorganized and reiterated these positions without ever changing them. The party's press will reproduce the texts on these questions, the more fundamental ones being:
a) All the theses of the Italian Communist Abstentionist Fraction from 1919;
b) Rome Theses, i.e. the theses of the 2nd Congress of the Communist Party of Italy in 1922;
c) Positions defended by the Communist Left at the International's congresses in 1922 to 1924 and at the 1926 Enlarged Executive;
d) Theses of the Left at the illegal conference of the Communist Party of Italy in May, 1924;
e) Theses presented by the Left at the 3rd congress of the Communist Party of Italy, Lyon, 1926.2.
2. In these texts, as well as in numerous other texts we will be using, and which will be published in volumes of our History of the Communist Left, we have defended and reaffirmed, with perfect continuity, certain historical results which form the patrimony of revolutionary Marxism, basing ourselves on classic programmatic texts such as the Manifesto of the Communist Party and the Statutes of the 1st International from 1864.
We also lay claim to the programmatic foundations of the 1st and 2nd congresses of the 3rd International, founded in 1919, as well as Lenin's earlier theses on the imperialist war and Russian revolution. At the same time, taking a clear position on the major crises faced by the proletarian movement, the Left claims the historical and programmatic lessons drawn from these, including the theory of counter-revolutions and the theory of the struggle against the ever recurring danger of opportunism. Among these historical lessons, products both of a healthy theoretical vision and of great mass struggles, should be noted:
a) The liquidation of petty-bourgeois and anarchist currents, sought by Marx to restore the fundamental principle of centralization and discipline toward the center of the organization, and to definitively condemn harmful conceptions such as autonomy of local sections and federalism for different sections of the world party; these conceptions lay at the root of the ignoble collapse of the 2nd International, which had been founded in 1889 and wrecked on the advent of the war in 1914.
b) The lessons of the heroic experience of the Paris Commune in texts written by Marx for the International, sanctioning the surpassing of parliamentary methods and applauding the insurrectional, terrorist vigor of the great Parisian movement.
c) The condemnation issued by the true revolutionary Marxist Left on the eve of the First World War, of both revisionist, evolutionist reformism, which had contaminated the whole International and sought to dismantle the Marxist perspective of revolutionary catastrophe, and of “revolutionary syndicalism” of Sorel and others which might pass for a proletarian reaction to reformism, though it was actually only a "workerist" reaction and consequently converged with extreme right "Labourism"; on the pretext of returning to direct, violent action, “revolutionary syndicalism” in fact rejected the fundamental position of Marxism which affirms the necessity of a centralized revolutionary party and a dictatorial, terrorist proletarian state, the only instruments capable of leading the class insurrection to victory and smashing the bourgeois counter-offensive's attempts at reaction and corruption, and laying the foundations of the classless, stateless communist society, which will crown the proletarian victory in the whole world.
d) The merciless critique and demolition, by Lenin and the Left in all countries, of the shameless betrayal of 1914, the most mortal and ruinous aspect of which was not just the rallying to the banners of state and nation, but a relapse into deviations that were born at the same time as Marxist communism, and which claim to imprison the program and action of the working class within bourgeois principles of freedom and parliamentary democracy, celebrating them as the eternal conquests of the young bourgeoisie.
3. During the period of the new International the unforgettable heritage of the Communist Left is its correct historical diagnosis of the opportunist dangers that took shape in the first years of the International. The historical method enables us to explain this point without an unwieldy theoretical development. The first manifestations of opportunism denounced and combated by the Left appeared in tactics involving relations with the old socialist parties of the 2nd International, from which communists had separated organizationally by means of splits; these tendencies subsequently also appeared in the form of incorrect organizational measures.
From 1921 it was apparent that the great post-war revolutionary wave was weakening, and that capitalism would attempt an economic and political counter-offensive. The 3rd congress correctly observed that it was not enough to have formed communist parties firmly oriented on the program of violent action, the proletarian dictatorship and the communist state, if a large fraction of the proletarian masses remained accessible to the influence of opportunist parties, which all communists then considered to be the most lethal instruments of bourgeois counter-revolution, and which had the blood of Karl Liebkneckt and Rosa Luxemburg on their hands. But the Communist Left did not accept the formula according to which the condition for revolutionary action (blameworthy when it was the Blanquist initiatives of small parties) was the conquest of the "majority" of the proletariat (it was never possible to say whether this meant a majority of the real proletarian wage-earners or of the “people”, including small landowners farmers, petty capitalists, craftsmen and all sorts of other petty-bourgeois strata).This majority formula, with its democratic allure, raised a new danger which was unfortunately confirmed by history: that opportunism could be reborn in the new International in the usual form of a worship of the deadly notions of democracy and electoral consultation.
The 4th congress (held at the end of 1922) and subsequent congresses confirmed the Left's pessimistic forecasts. The Left continued its vigorous fight and denunciation of dangerous tactics (united front between communist and socialist parties, the "workers government" slogan) and organizational mistakes (attempts to increase membership in the communist parties, not only by integrating proletarians who streamed towards them having abandoned other parties with social-democratic programs, action and structures, but through fusions with entire parties or fractions of parties after negotiations with their leadership or, worse yet, through admitting so-called "sympathizing" parties as national sections of the Comintern, which obviously amounted to a federalist error).
The third point, at which the Left's criticism was directed involved working methods within the International. Very early it began to denounce – and continued to do so more strenuously in subsequent years – the growing danger of opportunism implied by the Centre’s (i.e., the Moscow Executive's) use of not only "ideological terror" but above all of organizational pressure on parties or even sections of parties that might have made political mistakes. This method represented an incorrect application and subsequently, a total falsification – of the correct principles of centralization and discipline without exception. This method was used increasingly in all countries, and especially after 1923 in Italy, where the Left, followed by the whole party gave an exemplary demonstration of discipline by relinquishing its leadership to right and center comrades designated by Moscow. For the sole purpose of perpetuating dangerous centrist errors in the party's practice, the spectre of "factionalism" was continuously paraded out, and the left current was threatened with expulsion on the deceitful pretext that it was preparing a split. This third vital point was thoroughly discussed in the International congresses and in Italy, and it is just as important as the condemnation of opportunist tactics and federalist organizational formulae. In Italy, for example, the centrist leadership, while accusing the Left leadership of 1921-22 of having imposed a dictatorship on the party (although it has showed its total agreement with the Left on many occasions), brandished the threat of orders from Moscow, and even dared to exploit the formula "international communist party" as Palmiro Togliatti, a true champion of the liquidation of the Communist International, did in 1925 in the polemics that preceded the Lyon congress.
4. When the Left spoke out against the signals that prefigured a mortal crisis, it was at that time only too easy to accuse it of having purely doctrinal concerns. It is thus important to show that history has provided confirmations of its criticisms and diagnosis.
With regard to tactical questions, it is enough to recall that the united front was originally proposed as a means for "ruining" the socialist parties and depriving their leaderships of a mass following, which was supposed to come over to our side. The history of this tactic confirmed that it involved a danger of betrayal and an abandoning of our revolutionary class foundations and program. The historical heirs of the 1922 united front are well known to everyone today: they are the popular fronts set up to support the Second World War of democratic capitalism, the anti-fascist "liberation fronts" which led to the broadest class collaboration, extended to overtly bourgeois parties; they were the monstrous fruit of the last wave of opportunism that unfurled over the corpse of the 3rd International. The first organizational maneuvers – the 1922 mergers – laid the foundations for today's total confusion, in which parliamentarism and democratism are the common ground of all parties including the communist party, which has completely renounced Lenin's 2nd congress thesis on parliamentarism. Sacrificing the unity of the world organization to admit various socialist, workers’ and even populist parties in a number of countries, the 20th congress of the Russian party in 1956 finally did exactly what the Left had predicted it would: it also abandoned the program of the dictatorship of the proletariat, presenting it as an exclusively Russian phenomenon and introducing "national" and "democratic" roads to socialism. This can only signify a relapse into the same despicable opportunism of 1914 – or rather, into an even viler and more disgusting opportunism as it dares to hide behind Lenin's name.
The third point concerns the fierce Stalinist terror which has given historical confirmation that the Left was correct to speak out against the International's working methods and the harmful pressures brought to bear from above. In fact, the object of the Stalinist terror was to demolish the party from within, by using state power to carry out tens of thousands of assassinations and smash a resistance waged in the name of a return to revolutionary Marxism and the great Leninist and Bolshevik traditions of the October revolution. The Left, which had correctly rejected a fallacious offer by the “centrists” of "a bit more democracy in the party and the International" in 1926, and remained in opposition (though right up until that time – 1926 –never talking of leaving the International or bringing about a split), had predicted the further course of events precisely in all respects: the relationship of forces unfortunately did not allow it to prevent the disgraceful third opportunist wave from engulfing everything.
The Left had indicated in good time the correct path to follow in relations between the parties and the International, on the one hand, and between the Russian party and state, on the other hand. Historically, the inversion of these positions is connected to the question of relations between the policy of the Russian state and the policy of the proletariat in other countries. At the Enlarged Executive of the International in the fall of 1926, when Stalin showed his hand, it was declared that the Russian state would no longer subordinate its future to a general class confrontation capable of overthrowing capitalist power in all other countries, and that from then on, its internal social economy would be aimed at "building socialism" – which for Lenin could only mean building capitalism. Thereafter it was easy to predict the sequence of events, marked by the bloody conflict in which the opposition, which appeared too late in Russia, was quickly crushed under the disgusting accusation of factionalism, and finally exterminated.
This question leads to a delicate problem: in the name of a fraudulent centralism, a suffocating apparatus was imposed on all parties in which ardent revolutionaries were active, by resorting less to the prestige of Bolshevism, Lenin and Red October than to a vulgar economic relationship – the state in Moscow possessed the means with which to pay the officials of the International.
The Left faced this disgrace with a heroic silence, because it knew there was another terrible danger of a petty-bourgeois, anarchist deviation from which it risked eliciting the usual lamentations: "You see, this is what always happens; whenever there is a state, whenever there is a power, whenever there is a party, there is corruption, and if the proletariat wants to emancipate itself it will have to do so without authoritarian parties or states". We were too well aware that if Stalin's orientation after 1926 amounted to yielding the victory to the bourgeois enemy, these aberrations of petty-bourgeois intellectuals are always (and have for a century) provided the best guarantee of the survival of odious capitalism, since they deprive its grave diggers of the only weapon that can defeat it.
Combined with the degrading influence of money – which will disappear in communist society, but only after a series of events of which the creation of the proletarian dictatorship is only the first act – was the use within the International of a weapon which the Left openly denounced as worthy of parliaments and bourgeois diplomacy, or of the very bourgeois League of Nations: the careerism and vain personal ambitions of the little chieftains that abounded in the ranks of the movement were encouraged and flaunted such that each individual found himself faced with the alternative of immediate and comfortable notoriety if he quietly accepted the theses of the omnipotent Center, or an irremediable anonymity and possible poverty if he wished to defend the correct revolutionary theses from which the Center had deviated.
Today it is an obvious historical fact that the international and national Centers were on the road to deviation and betrayal; according to what the Left has always asserted, this is why they have no right to demand the blind obedience of the rank-and-file in the name of a hypocritical discipline.
5. The work done to rebuild the class party after the end of the Second World War has come up against an extremely unfavorable situation. The international social events of this terrible epoch have enabled opportunism to obscure all the terms of the class conflict and to convince a blinded proletariat of the need to help in rebuilding parliamentary and democratic constitutional regimes all over the world.
Our movement, which inevitably found itself going against the stream, especially when the broad proletarian masses had hurled themselves body and soul into the mortal practice of electoralism (for which fake revolutionaries were pronouncing apologies a thousand times more shameless than those of the revisionists fifty years earlier), could only answer by basing itself on the entire heritage that it had defended during this long unfavorable period. Applying the classic Marxist method, which seeks to retie the "thread of time", our movement worked to remind the proletariat of the value of the historical lessons learned throughout its painful retreat. This did not mean limiting ourselves to a function of disseminating culture or propaganda of petty doctrines of sects; it meant demonstrating that theory and action are dialectically inseparable elements and that the lessons of history are not pedantry or merely academic, but result from (to avoid the expression "experiences", which to-day is the predilection of all philistines) the dynamic balance sheets we have drawn from confrontations that have taken place between enormous real forces on a large scale, using even cases in which revolutionary forces were finally defeated. This is what we have called the "lessons of counter-revolutions", according to a classic Marxist criterion.
6. In its efforts to organize itself on its own foundations, our movement encountered other difficulties resulting from excessively optimistic forecasts. Some felt that, just as the end of the First World War had engendered an immense revolutionary wave and the condemnation of the opportunist plague thanks to the action of the Bolsheviks, Lenin and the revolutionary victory in Russia, so the end of the Second World War in 1945 would also produce a rapid constituting of the revolutionary party in line with the great traditions.
This perspective may have been generous, but it nonetheless represented a serious mistake, because it did not take into account the "hunger for democracy" that had been created in the proletariat not so much by the more or less ferocious exploits of Italian and German fascism, as by the disgusting illusion that with the recovery of democracy, everything would return quite naturally on the revolutionary lines.
On the contrary, what constitutes one of the fundamental points of the Left’s patrimony is the consciousness that the greatest dangers are populist and social-democratic illusions, which cannot be the basis of a revolution once again making the leap from Kerensky to Lenin, but instead are at the root of opportunism, which is the most powerful counter-revolutionary force.
For the Left, opportunism is not a moral phenomenon caused by the corruption of individuals, but a social and historical phenomenon which leads to the fact that, instead of combating the reactionary front of the bourgeoisie and the petty-bourgeois strata (the latter more conservative than the former) the proletarian vanguard tends to establish a weld between the proletariat and the middle classes. In this the social phenomenon of opportunism is no different from fascism, since the proletariat is subordinated in both cases to petty-bourgeois strata (the "intellectuals", the so-called "political class" and the bureaucratic administrative class) which in reality are not classes endowed with their own historical vitality, but entirely contemptible marginal and parasitic strata. These are not the deserters from the bourgeoisie whose fatal passage to the camp of the revolution Marx describes, but, on the contrary, the best servants and defenders of capitalist preservation who live off surplus value extorted from proletarians.
The new movement almost succumbed to the illusion that there was still something to be done in bourgeois parliaments, trying to implement anew the perspective of Lenin's famous theses, without understanding that an irrevocable historical balance sheet has shown that this tactic was of no use, no matter how great and noble the revolutionary perspectives for the overthrow of parliaments from within might have been in 1920, at a time when all of history seemed on the verge of an eruption: the whole thing was instead reduced to a trivial revenge against fascism as in Modigliani's exclamation: "Long live parliament!".
7. The problem was to transmit the historical experience of the generation that had lived through the glorious struggles of the first post-war period and the Livorno split, to the new generation of proletarians who had to be freed from the senseless enthusiasm generated by the fall of fascism and brought back to the understanding of the need for an autonomous action by the revolutionary party against all other parties, particularly against the social-democratic party, in order to reconstitute forces determined to fight for the dictatorship of the proletariat and proletarian terror against the big bourgeoisie and all its disgusting lackeys. To accomplish this task, the new movement organically and spontaneously found a structural form of activity which has proved itself in the past fifteen years. The party has accomplished aspirations which were already present in the Communist Left at the time of the 2nd International, and subsequently during its theoretical struggle against the first manifestations of opportunist danger in the 3rd International. This age-old aspiration is the struggle against democracy and any influence by this repugnant bourgeois myth; its roots are in the Marxist critique, in the fundamental texts and documents of the first proletarian organizations, starting from the Manifesto of the Communist Party.
The history of mankind cannot be explained by the influence of exceptional individuals, by their strength and physical or even intellectual and moral value. It would be incorrect and anti-Marxist to consider the political struggle as a process of selection of such exceptional personalities, and democratism, which claims to accomplish this selection by counting the votes of all members of society, is even more alien to us than the ancient doctrines that reduce it to the work of the divinity or the prerogative of a social aristocracy. History is rather the history of the class struggles. It can only be deciphered and its lessons applied to battles that are not just theoretical and critical but also violent and armed, between different opposing classes, if one lays bare the economic relationships which, in given forms of production, are established between classes. This fundamental theorem had been confirmed by the sacrifices of innumerable militants who have fallen under the blows of Capital, and whose generous efforts had been broken by the democratic mystification. The communist Left elaborated its revolutionary patrimony on this balance sheet of oppression, exploitation and treason. It was therefore clear that the only path to follow was the one that would free us even more from the fatal democratic mechanism, not only in society and its various institutions, but in the revolutionary class itself, and especially in its political party. This Left's aspiration is not due to a miraculous intuition or to the illumination of some thinkers, but results directly from a series of real, violent, bloody merciless struggles, even when they ended with the defeat of the revolutionary forces. There are historical traces of this in all the manifestations of the Left, whether at the time it fought against electoral blocs and the influence of Masonic ideology, against colonial wars and the monstrous first European war, which triumphed over the proletarian aspiration to desert from the army and to turn one’s weapons against one's own bourgeoisie, primarily by means of a vile propaganda about the conquest of freedom and democracy; or at the time when, in all the countries of Europe and under the leadership of the Russian revolutionary proletariat the Left hurled itself into the struggle to destroy its first and direct target, the enemy which defended the very center of the capitalist bourgeoisie, the social-democratic right-wing, and the even more despicable centrism, which, slandering us as it had slandered Bolshevism, Leninism and the Russian soviet dictatorship, made every effort to rebuild a bridge – for us it was a trap – between the proletariat in motion and criminal democratic illusions. Alongside this, the desire to rid ourselves of all influence from democracy even in our vocabulary, can be found in countless texts of the Left, some of which were enumerated at the beginning of these theses.
8. The scope, difficulty and historical duration of the work to be done by the new movement could never attract doubtful elements desirous of rapidly achieving a career, because rather than promise short-term historical success, they exclude such a possibility. Work has been organized on the basis of frequent meetings between delegates of the entire organization, in which there have been neither polemical debts nor disputes between opposed theses, nor for that matter the slightest sporadic manifestation of nostalgia for the sickness of democratic anti-fascism. In these meetings, there has been nothing to vote on or to deliberate, since their goal was only to organically pursue the important task of transmitting the fertile lessons of the past through history to the present and future generations, to new vanguards who will emerge from the proletarian masses. Beaten, tricked and deceived a hundred times, the masses will rise in insurrection against the suffering imposed on them by the purulent decomposition of capitalist society, and will sense in their very quick how the most extreme and most poisonous enemy are the ranks of populist opportunism, of the bureaucrats of big unions and parties, and of the ridiculous coteries of allegedly "engaged" intellectuals and artists, hired as lackeys earning a living through their harmful activity, prostituting themselves to the rich classes by the intermediary of the traitor parties and who are animated by the worst bourgeois and capitalist spirit, that of the intermediate and so-called "popular" classes.
This work and this dynamic are inspired by the classic teachings of Marx and Lenin, who gave the form of theses to their exposition of the great historical revolutionary truths. These reports and theses faithful to the great Marxist tradition, now over a century old, were transmitted by all those present – and also by the reports of our press – at the local and regional peripheral meetings, where this historic material was communicated to the whole party. It would be nonsense to say that they are perfect texts, irrevocable and unchangeable, because over the years we have always said that it was material under continuous elaboration, destined to assume an ever-better and more complete form; moreover, we have always noted increasingly frequent and excellent contributions, in perfect agreement with the classic positions of the Left, coming from the whole party and even from very young comrades.
It’s only by developing our work in this direction, that we expect the quantitative growth in our membership and the spontaneous adhesions to the party, who one day will make it into a more important social force
9. Before we leave the question of the formation of the party after the Second World War, it’s worth reasserting some results which today constitute characteristic theses for the party because, since they are historical results, despite the small numbers of our movement, and not inventions by fruitless geniuses or solemn resolutions by "sovereign" congresses.
The party very quickly recognized that, even in an extremely unfavorable situation and even in the countries where it is the worst, we must avoid the mistake of regarding the movement as a pure activity of press propaganda and political proselytism. Everywhere, always and without exception, the life of the party must be integrated into an incessant effort to insert itself into the life of the masses, even when its manifestations are influenced by directives opposed to ours. It is an old thesis of left Marxism that we must accept working in right-wing unions in which the workers are to be found; the party rejects the individualist attitude of those who disdain to set foot in them and even end up theorizing sabotage of the rare and timid strikes the present unions may risk. In many regions, the party has already conducted a noticeable activity in this direction, even though it always comes up against serious difficulties and opposed forces that are superior to its own, at least numerically. It is important to specify that even where this work has not already shown significant results, we must reject the conception that would reduce the small party to closed circles without any link to the outside, or limiting itself to seeking new members in the world of opinions alone, which, in the eyes of Marxists is a false world as long as it is not treated as a superstructure of the world of economic conflicts. It would equally be wrong to subdivide the party or its local sections into watertight compartments, each one devoting itself exclusively to theory, study, historical research, propaganda, proselytism or union activity: in the spirit of our theory and our history these domains are absolutely inseparable and, in principle, accessible to any and all militants.
Another point that constitutes an historical gain the party can never renounce is the absolute refusal of any proposal to increase membership and enlarge its basis by convening constitutive congresses together with the numerous circles and grouplets that have been springing up everywhere since the end of the war, which elaborate incoherent and absurd theses, or have no other basis than the condemnation of Russian Stalinism and all its local derivatives.
10. Returning to the history of the first years of the Communist International, we will recall that the Russian leaders, who had behind them not only a profound knowledge of the doctrine and history of Marxism, but also the grandiose result of the October revolutionary victory, conceived the theses, such as Lenin's, as material that all militants had to accept, while acknowledging that in the life of the international party, they would be further elaborated. They never asked for them to be put to vote, because all the theses had to be accepted by unanimous consent, spontaneously confirmed by the entire periphery of the organization which, in those glorious years, lived in an atmosphere of enthusiasm and even of triumph.
The Left shared these generous aspirations, but it believed that, in order to achieve the results we all sought, some measures for the organization and formation of the unique communist party would have to be made more rigorous and more rigid, and all tactical norms would have to be made more precise in the same sense.
When it appeared that a certain laxity – which we had denounced to Lenin himself – in these fundamental areas was beginning to have harmful effects, we were obliged to oppose our counter-reports to those of the Executive, and our counter-theses to its theses.
Unlike other opposition groups, including groups that had formed in Russia, including the Trotskyist current, we always carefully avoided giving our work in the International the form of a demand for democratic and electoral consultations of the whole rank-and-file, or demanding general elections for leadership committees.
The Left hoped to save the International and its healthy and vital trunk of great traditions without initiating splits, and it always rejected the accusation that it had organized or wanted to organize a faction or party within the party. Even when manifestations of a growing opportunism became increasingly obvious, it neither encouraged nor approved the practice of individual resignations from the party or the International.
However, a hundred passages from the above-mentioned texts show that the fundamental thinking of the Left always was that the path leading to the suppression of elections of comrades or votes on general theses would also lead to the abolition of suspensions, expulsions and the dissolving of local groups, another shameless practice of careerist democratism. On many occasions we spelled out the thesis that such disciplinary procedures would have to become more and more exceptional and gradually disappear.
If the opposite comes about, and, worse yet, if these disciplinary questions serve to impose the conscious or unconscious positions of a nascent opportunism – as was the case in 1924, 1925 and 1926 – rather than help to save healthy revolutionary positions, this only means that the Center has not fulfilled its duties correctly, that this has caused it to lose all real influence over the rank-and-file, and that it is less able to achieve discipline the louder it sings the praises of a perfectly artificial disciplinary rigor.
In the early years, the Left hoped that the concessions being made with regard to organization and tactics might be explained by the potential of that historical moment, and that they would only be temporary, since they were tied to Lenin's perspective of major revolutions in Central and, perhaps, Western Europe, and that we would return to a clear line of conduct in total conformity with our central principles. But this hope gradually gave way to a certainty that the International was going to ruin, and that the new opportunism could not fail to assume the classic form of a glorification and exultation of democratic and electoral intrigue. The Left thus continued its historical fight in defense of communism, without ever relinquishing its contempt for the democratic mechanism, even when some people might have believed it would be forced to do so against its will by veritable operations of electoral trickery within parties. When fascism falsified elections, it was correct to welcome this fact since it gave the proletariat the understanding of the need to meet the challenge arms in hand. But when these practices were adopted within communist parties, impudently perpetrated by the fathers of the new opportunism that was doing its utmost to reconquer the parties and the International, it was necessary to denounce them openly. Even though we could theoretically feel a certain ironic satisfaction at hearing them say "we are ten and we want you who are thousand to submit", we were only too sure that they would perfect their repugnant course by stealing votes from workers by the million.
11.The Left's position has nonetheless always been firm and consistent: if disciplinary crises multiply to the point that they become the rule, this means that something is not right in the general running of the party, and that the problem has to be studied. Naturally, we will not renounce our own principles by committing the folly of believing that salvation lies in a search for more capable individuals and a replacement of leaders and party cadres, because this is nothing other than the typical positions of the historical antagonist of revolutionary left Marxism, opportunism.
Another of Marx's and Lenin's theses on which the Left is extremely firm is that the remedy for the problems and historical crises to which the proletarian party is necessarily exposed is not to be found in a constitutional or organizational formula that has the magic virtue of being able to prevent it from degenerating. This illusion originates in petty-bourgeois conceptions that go back to Proudhon and, through a long development, culminate in Italian Ordinovism, i.e., the conception that the social problem can be solved by a formula of the organization of the producers. Undeniably in the evolution of parties, it is possible to oppose the ascending curve of the historical party and the tormented line of formal parties with its zig zags, its ups and downs, and even its brutal descents. Left Marxists, in fact, endeavor to act on the broken line of contingent parties to bring it back onto the continuous, harmonious curve of the historical party. This is a principled position, but it would be puerile to try to transform it into an organizational recipe. According to our historical line, we utilize not only the knowledge of humanity's past and present, but also a direct and sure knowledge of the future of society and humanity, as our doctrine predicts it with certainty, viz. the classless and stateless society, which in a sense may be a party-less society, unless one understands a party to be an organ that does not struggle against other parties, but ensures the defense of the human species against the dangers of physical nature and its evolutionary and undoubtedly also catastrophic processes.
The Communist Left has always considered that it waged its long struggle against the unfortunate contingent vicissitudes of the formal parties of the proletariat by stating positions that flow continuously and harmoniously in the luminous stream of the historical party, which stretches across years and centuries without interruption, from the first formulations of the nascent proletarian doctrine to the future society, which we know well, to the extent we have learned well how to recognize the tissues and the nerve centers of this odious society, which the revolution will have to destroy.
Engels’ proposal to adopt the excellent old German word Gemeinwesen (common being, i.e., social community) instead of the word State, was connected to Marx's analysis that the Paris Commune was no longer a State precisely because it was no longer a democratic corporation. Since Lenin, this question has needed no further theoretical clarification, and there is no contradiction in the inspired observation that, in appearance, Marx was much more statist than Engels, insofar as it was Marx who noted more clearly that the dictatorship is a real State endowed with armed forces, a repressive police and political judiciary applying the terror without letting itself be hemmed in by legal scruples. The question is also related to Marx's and Engels' condemnation of the revisionist idealization that characterizes the German socialists' stupid formula of "free people’s State": this formula reeks not only of bourgeois democratism, but it also destroys the whole notion of the irresistible struggle between classes with the destruction of the historical State of the bourgeoisie and the erecting on its ruins of the destructive and more merciless proletarian State, although it does not lay claim to eternal constitutions.
The point was not to find a "model" of the future State in constitutional or organizational provisions, which is as stupid as trying to build a model for socialist states and societies for other countries in the first country conquered by the dictatorship of the proletariat.
But the idea of constructing a model of a perfect party would be just as vain, and perhaps even more so. Such an idea reflects the weaknesses of the decadent bourgeoisie which, powerless to defend its power, to preserve its economic system as it goes to pieces, and even to master its doctrinal thought, takes refuge in absurd robotized technologies, seeking a guarantee of survival in these stupid automatic formal models in order to escape from the scientific certainty which enabled us to pronounce an infallible sentence on the bourgeois epoch and its "civilization": death!
12. Among the doctrinal formulations that we will provisionally call "philosophical", and which are part of the tasks of the Communist Left and its international movement, we should mention a thesis on which we have already made numerous clarifications, showing that it is entirely in conformity with the classical positions of Marx, Engels and Lenin.
The first truth that man can master is the notion of the future communist society. This notion makes no borrowings from this repugnant capitalist democratic or Christian society, and it absolutely does not seek a human heritage on which to base itself in the so-called positive science elaborated by the bourgeois revolution: for us it is a class science which has to be destroyed and replaced in its entirety, like the religions and scholastic creeds of previous production forms. With regard to the theory of economic transformations enabling us to go from capitalism – the structure of which we know quite well, whereas the official economists are incapable of understanding it – to communism, we can also do without the contributions of bourgeois science, and we have a similar contempt for bourgeois technique and technology, which everyone, driveling opportunist traitors foremost, proclaims to be headed for great discoveries. We have built the science of society, its current existence and future development, in an absolutely revolutionary way. When this work of the human mind is complete – and it cannot be until after the demise of capitalism, of its civilization, its useless schools, science and its gangster technology – man will also, for the first time, write the science and history of physical nature and solve the great problems of the life of the Universe from its origins (which scientists reconciled with teleological dogma continue to call "creation") to its developments on the infinitely large and infinitely small scales in the most distant and today undecipherable future.
13. These, and still other problems are a domain of the party's action which we maintain physically alive and which are not unworthy of being included in the line of the great historical party. But these elevated theoretical notions are not expedients allowing us to resolve the petty human quarrels and uncertainties which, unfortunately, will persist as long as there are among us individuals surrounded and dominated by the barbaric milieu of capitalist civilization. Therefore these developments cannot serve to define the mode of existence characteristic of a party free from opportunism: contained in the notion of organic centralism, this mode of existence asserts itself gradually, and cannot arise from a "revelation".
This obvious Marxist thesis belongs to the patrimony of the Left, and it can be found in all the polemics it directed against the degenerating Moscow Center. The party is both a factor and a product of the historical development of situations and, barring a relapse into a new utopianism even more lamentable then the previous one, it can never be considered an external, abstract element capable of dominating the world around it.
That it is possible to work in the party to create a fiercely anti-bourgeois milieu which – to a great extent anticipates the features of communist society – was stated long ago, for example by the young Italian communists in 1912.
But this just aspiration must not induce us to regard the ideal party as a monastic "phalanastery" surrounded by impenetrable walls.
In our conception of organic centralism, we have always stated, in opposition to the Moscow centrists, that there is only one guarantee in the selection of party members. The party must tirelessly continue to express more clearly the guiding principles of its doctrine, its action and its tactics on the basis of a method unified in space and in time. Anyone who feels uneasy with these positions has the obvious option of leaving the party. Even after the conquest of power it is not possible to conceive of forced membership in the party. This is why disciplinary terrorism is alien to the correct understanding of organic centralism: such measures only copy (even in their vocabulary) the constitutional practices the bourgeoisie has already used to excess, such as the ability of the executive power to dissolve and reconstitute elected assemblies – forms that have long been considered obsolete not only for the proletarian party but even for the historically transitory revolutionary State of the victorious proletariat. For anyone who wants to join the party does not have to work out constitutional and legal blueprints of the future society, since such forms are characteristic only of class societies. Anyone who, seeing the party advance along this clear, definite path which we have attempted to summarize in these theses for the Naples general meeting in July 1965, does not yet feel able to rise to this historical task, knows perfectly well he can adopt any other path different from ours. We have no other measure to take in the matter.
International Communist Party