This short text is an attempt to synthetize the general features of today's struggles, without going into specific details. Although it cannot be applied to every moment of struggle, this kind of outline is very useful as a base for the international rules which orientate the actions of the proletariat's vanguard minorities.
In talking about these things we don't just want to refer to partial work stoppages for which prior notice is given and a fixed period of time is specified, something which can only delight the bosses. We want to talk just as much about "strikes" (4) which are organised by the unions with some degree of radicality (even to the point of violent action, often considered to be the action of "combative" trade-unionists) but which, in general, fail to break fundamentally with social peace as a result of their corporatism, localism and the fact that they are confined to a particular social category, placing particular demands on such and such a boss or municipal or national authority. This is generally expressed by the decision of "all the workers" to prevent those from outside the workplace from becoming involved. In other words, it is expressed by the unopposed right which the unions have to run a "struggle" which cannot be a proletarian struggle against Capital, but simply an expression of particularism and, on a global level, an expression of bourgeois competition. On the other hand, the force of the Proletariat finds itself channelled into demands which do not fundamentally attack the rate of exploitation (they conduct themselves in a responsible way with regard to "the needs of the national economy") and/or they put up barriers between the workers from such and such a sector and those from others. Obviously, in countries where capitalist competition develops on the basis of separatist, nationalist or even racist struggles these cards are played in augmenting divisions between proletarians.
As for demonstrations, the principle is the same. Even though such and such a radical expression is allowed, well-controlled peaceful marches for pacifying demands and which generally benefit from the complacency of the forces of order have no other function than making a fake protest or diverting and wasting the workers' energy (5).
With the development of Capital this type of practice became solidified, acquiring a veritable certificate of citizenship in all the capitalist organisations which are more or less stable. Very early on, from the birth of the proletariat, trade-unions and other apparatuses of the State appeared along with workers' associations (as a recuperation of these associations or as direct creations of the bourgeoisie). They varied enormously between countries but they all had the task of limiting "by the workers themselves" struggles in order to transform them into their opposite (6). In time, all the mass permanent workers' associations were recuperated and transformed into apparatuses of state domination. This is a tangible manifestation of the impossibility of peaceful coexistence between the interests of capital and those of proletarians. Contrary to what is affirmed by all the trade-unionists and social democrats in general (including the Maoists, the Trotskyists and the Guevarists who support the unions, not as struggling for the historic interest of socialism but because they defend the immediate interests of proletarians), even the immediate interests of the proletariat cannot be defended without confronting Capital and therefore the State.
While the unions consolidated their place on the side of the police and the army in their function as an apparatus for wiping out our struggles, the same practices which drive these organisations, that is to say assemblism, partial work stoppages and controlled "strikes", peaceful demonstrations... made themselves into an indispensable practice for the maintenance of bourgeois order.
What are the consequences of this process from the point of view of the two antagonistic classes? From the point of view of Capital, is there anything more normal? It is the very process in which Capital affirms and demonstrates its omnipotence and its pretention to being everlasting, recuperating everything which yesterday was opposed to it, coopting the people, the apparatuses, the organisations, the orders, the forms of struggle in order to put them at its service.
And from the point of view of the proletariat?
If before, when they heard the word "strike", almost all the proletarians felt concerned, if, in whichever town, village, factory or district, proletarians got together because life itself was the collective life of the class, if, during a few decades therefore, the life of the exploited contained everyday discussions about conditions of life, of struggle, if everywhere and however heterogeneous the class consciousness might have been, they discussed the evils of this society, the necessity of destroying capitalism, attacking the state, constructing a society without exploited and exploiters... it is undeniable that over the course of the last few decades all this has disappeared. The proletariat itself seems to no longer exist on a world level (7). In everyday life, the only things which seem to exist are individuals, the rich, the poor, the ministers, the unemployed, the delinquents, the nationalists, the terrorists, the citizens, the peasants, the intellectuals, the feminists, the students, the voters, the ecologists... The intellectuals in the service of the dominant class and/or of the old stupid ideology of the petty bourgeoisie, who speak about the disappearance of the proletariat, are not just telling lies to delight the world bourgeoisie, they are also expressing a partial aspect of a reality to which we, proletarians, are subjected.
The proletarians themselves do not feel that they are proletarians. This lack of consciousness is that of not even knowing that they are part of the same class. This one believes that he is superior to the proletarians because he wears a tie and works in a bank. This one believes himself to be a poor peasant and this other unemployed. This one believes that her mission in life is to struggle for feminism, others involve themselves, on various levels, in capitalist struggles which are racist (including the anti-racists), nationalist, anti-imperialist... And, finally, they are not even gathering, talking about life, about the world as proletarians. In the cafes, people only talk about football... and the majority of proletarians don't even go to the cafes any more. Proletarians are almost completely wiped out as human beings, and during the few hours left from wage-slavery they remain just as spectators. The combination of TV and video has completed the historic work of the state in putting on an even higher plane the liquidation of the proletariat and its dilution into individuals and families. After eight hours imprisoned at work and eight hours passed in sleeping to recover his strength to return to work, the proletarian is equally today a prisoner in the eight hours that remain.
Capital does everything that it can to attain the ideal apogee of this process by achieving a society where it is no longer menaced by its historic enemy, where the only people living are producers/good-citizens and, where possible, humanoids, useful idiots for reproducing society without asking any questions. All sectors of economic activity and research work for the realisation of this idealist goal. At the factory and in the office they replace people by assembly-line workers and then by machines. Computers and robots ideally tend towards a world where all human life has been replaced by artificial equipment. And biology, genetics and insemination research have the same objective: the creation of a "person" who isn't one, a "person" who has been programmed for this society that is to say for Capital.
As long as this humanoid doesn't leave the laboratory, as long as they are not able to produce a human body which creates value without ever protesting (8), a genetic body whose capacity for revolt has been completely removed, they will try to approach this with the greatest possible help of instruments of collective cretinisation which are video, TV, computer games, elections, drugs... and for all those who refuse there are all those psychiatric wards, prisons, asylums, tranquillizers, wars, viruses, nuclear accidents etc... And, as if this dehumanisation of the human being is not enough, they promise that soon there will be games with virtual images in which you can "really enjoy yourself" (9) with a "virtual partner", "travel around the world", "fight face to face with someone from another continent"... and all always without leaving your four walls.
It is certainly true that the successes of our enemies are considerable. Subordination is very deep, confusion is general, there is collective cretinisation and more of these than ever before. And nevertheless, the proletariat is not dead.
It is also certain that it doesn't manifest itself like in the past, on an everyday level, with hundreds of permanent associations, with networks of solidarity, with international and internationalist groups, with a workers' press linking proletarians on all continents... But, when it expresses itself, it does so in a way which is directly violent and generalized.
In effect, while strikes organised by the unions are no longer credible, while the national political system and its electoral games are no longer attractive like they were in the past (in times when people still believed that a parliamentary party or a government could change the situation), while peaceful demos and other strolls for such and such a partial demand have lost their charm... while the old state mediations have lost their capacity to act as safety valves,... the proletariat, which is supposed to be dead and buried, surges forwards ever more explosively, without accepting mediations, without being stopped by little strikes, peaceful demos, or promises of elections.
The more the non-existence of structures of containment of the proletariat is clearly affirmed, the more they take it as given that the proletariat has disappeared for ever, the greater is the surprise when generalised revolts develop in one or several or all the towns of one or several countries. To mention only the most important revolts, we can cite Venezuela, Algeria, Morocco, Romania, Argentina, Los Angeles...
It is clear that these examples differ greatly in depth and duration of the challenge to bourgeois order. We have already had occasion to analyse this in our publications, but this text is not supposed to deal with the analysis of these differences nor with the comparison of these situations but, on the contrary, with the description of their common traits.
So, for example, in our enumeration we don't cite the case of Iraq. This is not because we are not able to see the aspects of force which you can see in the majority of proletarian revolts today but, on the contrary, because in the course of the last ten years that country has known a real continuity of proletarian associationism, the action of communist groups and the presence of proletarian banners. This continuity which is exceptional and against the current of the period, creates a situation of class struggle in this country largely beyond the general schema that we are trying to draw up in this article. Without being able to see in advance to what level the situation in Iraq can contribute to a generalized and global supersession of the current level of class struggle, we can affirm that this supersession needs certain elementary conditions for it to happen. The principal condition is the receptivity of the world proletariat to things which happen in parts of the world where fundamental class battles are developing. In relation to this, we can see an enormous weakness of the proletariat which also translates into enormous difficulties for it to make its struggle known, to push other sectors of the world proletariat to take action about this situation. These difficulties also find a particular expression in the immense difficulty for us, internationalist proletarians, to centralize international direct action in this direction (10).
These explosions are characterized by the firm and violent action of the proletariat which occupies the streets and violently confronts the whole state apparatus. In a streak of lightning, the streets are swarming with people, and the action is generalized in a flash. The direct occupation of the streets tends to break violently with all the categories into which capital divides proletarians : the narrow confines of the factories, mines or offices smash into pieces. Unemployed, women condemned to housework by capital, elderly people, children... are unified in direct action.
These revolts generally break out without precise and explicit aims and rarely put forward anything positive. Most of the time, they start with a general claim: "We can't bear anything more!" which expresses at the same time economic, political and social needs. "We can't bear any more repression and police control", "No, this price rise is uncalled-for", "Against the police state and the government party", "We want to eat", "We can't continue to tighten our belts to live", "We refuse the rise in the cost of such and such bare necessities"... are broadly the elements which reassemble the unified proletarian action. This is not a particular feature of the present period. In the whole history of our class, massive and violent revolts concentrate these collective negations of such and such an action of Capital and state. The fact which might characterise the present period is that there is no visible quantitative progression before the explosion, that before the saturation point of the proletarians' discontent is reached there is not a whole set of important partial struggles. On the contrary, the present period is precisely characterized by this reaffirmation of the existence of the proletariat, so fleeting that, beyond these moments, it seems that the proletariat is ready to accept everything, and that capital itself is surprised by the lack of resistance aroused by its criminal austerity measures (12).
By the very fact of the absence of daily reaction to the different attacks of capitalism, the latter is encouraged to go further and it effectively puts the proletariat in a desperate situation. Never has the international proletariat been so roughly treated, so subjugated to such unbearable conditions, so stuck in an impasse... Never has it been in such dire straits. This is another important characteristic of today's struggles which leads to a real explosion of anger because the proletariat is really put in a desperate, unbearable position.
The economy has always sacrificed human beings, as Marx pointed out. But never before have the needs of human beings been renounced so flagrantly in the name of business interests and national competitiveness. Never in history has there been so little protestation as nowadays against the absolute power of the state. Never have such clear and open demonstrations of the inhumanity which runs this society engendered so little indignation. This is the same logic which now leads to explosive situations : the proletariat bears much more than the unbearable, much more than all that we could imagine until now, and then inevitably it comes to a point where we can't objectively stand it any more whatever the lies and tales they try to spin us... Consequently the explosion is inevitable.
The very fact that the struggle takes the form of an unstoppable conflagration determines an important element of force: the surprise effect. This paralyses the enemy which has not the slightest idea of how to react (13). The old reformist social democrat has no effect on the violent and decisive action of the proletariat. Trade-unionism itself is absolutely unable to answer and to take control of the generalization of proletarian violence. The different regional structures or the divisions in districts, social services and the different state services of social mediation find themselves totally overwhelmed. The absence of concrete demands makes their reformist and liquidating task towards the movement much more arduous. If they stand in front of the proletariat, it -literally- runs over them. This absence of positive demands and the participation of the proletariat as a class, not as one or several categories, are precisely the elements of strength of the movement: the opposition to everything which comes from the state, the negation of everything which belongs to this dominated existence (this aspect has always been criticised by the left wing of the bourgeoisie), vindicates, in fact, the communist revolution.
The protagonists themselves take advantage of this unexpected effect. The generalized non-communication which normally dominates during periods of social peace, the supreme individualism which governs daily life, the "everyone does what he likes in his own home" will be smashed into pieces by the direct action in the streets (even if this is only true among an avant-garde minority and if it only happens in moments of open struggle). All those who take part in these movements discover a solidarity unknown until then, and they are surprised by the unselfishness which reigns over the barricades and also by the extraordinary efficiency that structures action. Moreover, they discover in this neighbour whom they never greeted, in this colleague whom they all regarded as an idiot, in this friend who could only talk about football... a comrade who fights side by side with them.
Each time the police stations, the HQs of government parties, the unions and other state apparatuses (supplies offices, official administrative HQ, Courts...) are attacked and burnt. Direct action is used against the government representatives and the more or less covert collaborationists are chased away. In some cases, prisons are attacked and prisoners liberated. Regardless of the more or less diffuse class consciousness of the protagonists, this demonstrates not only the reconstitution, the existence, of our class but also the general antagonism between the proletariat and the bourgeois state as a whole.
There is indisputably another element of strength in these proletarian revolts: the expropriation of bourgeois property which is more or less organised by avant-garde groups. By sweeping away the ancestral prejudices and challenging state terrorism (14), proletarians take what they need and try thus to destroy all the mediations which they are condemned to by capital: money, wages, work, etc... For the first time, many of them really eat what they like and most of those who take part in the revolts eventually treat themselves to what they always dreamed of without having to pay for it: a TV set, a heater, an eiderdown or a silk suit. For once they celebrate, they drink without restriction (and the drinks are less spoiled than usual when they can't afford them because of their prohibitory prices), they eat what they like leaving previous daily deprivation aside, they dance, they sing, everyone's celebrating !
While this elementary affirmation of proletarian interests against bourgeois property takes place -a fleeting affirmation of human life announcing that the Dictatorship of the Proletariat against this society of deprivation, war, and death is possible and necessary- the first organizational problems arise. On the barricades, in the districts where the police dare not enter, action groups organise themselves (15) and the criteria come up for discussion: criteria for action, criteria for sharing out, for using violence, for selecting the shops to break open, the forms of self-defence to use...
All these protests, these struggles, these lootings... express a real tendency to assume, in an embryonic way, the civil war towards which capital pushes us. Very often the soldiers and/or policemen sent to establish the morbid order of capital refuse to shoot and join the struggling proletarians.
Once the bourgeoisie gets over the surprise produced by the violent extension of the movement, it prepares its counter-offensive whose key note is always the same: to separate the majority of the proletarians from their vanguard. That division relies on the real limits of the movement, on the real division that takes place in the midst of the proletariat between those who are actively involved in the struggle and those who are opposed to it. The power of bourgeois ideology is so strong that even in those intense and acute moments only a minority will participate in direct action. Proletarian sectors, more dominated by trade-unions or political bourgeois parties, not only refuse to participate but also oppose themselves to those practices and are ready to accept the official version of the events (or the version of the parliamentary opposition which always corresponds to the previous one when it is the matter of confronting the proletariat in struggle).
Based on this principle, all apparatuses of fabrication of public opinion then play their decisive role in the institutionalisation of lies: only what is convenient to the police is broadcast (16). The more decisive acts are discredited and imputed to provocateurs, agents from abroad, terrorists, international subversion... If moreover the local bourgeoisie can rely on such or such local, racial, national, ideological... division, all the means of broadcasting will make the most of this opportunity: "unrest is spread by foreigners", "it is a fight between Blacks and Koreans", the trouble-makers come from "the favellas", "are Kurds", "it is a fundamentalist uprising", etc. These are different ways to express a series of attempts to negate the proletariat. And of course, those attacks against our class are echoed, magnified and multiplied by all the international means of communication. Their most important point will be to hide at all costs, to prevent by all means anyone from recognising in these revolts general or universal causes. Proletarians all around the world must never realise that other proletarians revolt as proletarians; for the media (which are supposed to inform us) the revolts are never proletarian but "fundamentalist", "Palestinian", "anti-dictatorship", they are revolts of "immigrants", "starving people", "Arabs", revolts "typical of the Third World"...
The bourgeois counter-offensive structures itself by organising the separation between "the good and honest citizen" and "the provocateur", between the nationals and the foreigners, between the good workers and the lazy ones, between the normal citizens and the marginal ones, reserving for the first ones the carrot and for the second ones the club.
Then comes the moment for concessions: such or such minister or chairman is dismissed, there are measures against poverty or charity measures, the price rise that started the uprising is quashed, state shops are resupplied... And, at the same time, a violent repression as selective as possible falls on the proletarians. Indeed all handbooks of counter-insurrection insist on the selectivity of repression, saying that "to avoid the population being favourable to the subversives, repression must be selective and must not repress in an indiscriminate way". The intensive work of the official state apparatuses that apply in the streets active repression against the most openly combative sectors is not sufficient; that's the reason why, long before any trouble so-called unofficial apparatuses (paramilitary groups, half syndicalist/half mafia crime specialists, death squads...) are preparing themselves.
Disinformation is total: what really happens in the streets is never told, scenes or photos of "barbarism", of proletarian expropriations, of fires are mixed up with images of repression, discourses of well-informed politicians explaining "the reasons for the troubles" and reassuring us on behalf of the State, Order and Security. And to cap it all, the touch that will make all those lies so spectacularly true: the camera lingers on that poor guy whose shop, that was just big enough to make a living for him, has just been looted and burned (17). Then, progressively and cunningly what happens in the street is abandoned and we are more and more bombarded with soothing political discourse heralding the return to a state of calm, the reappraisal of this measure, the resignation of this minister, new elections... These discourses express, with the deepest commiseration, that it is obvious, understood and clear that the situation of misery is unbearable but that it does not justify such and such an action and that the movement was in fact manipulated by professional agitators etc. In those delicate moments when the relation of forces is at stake in the street, all the State agents collaborate in seeking for political solutions: police, journalists, priests, sociologists, ecologists, right and left wing parties...
But let's not be foolish, it does not last long. Within an few days Capital imposes its terrorist order. Often, if not in almost all cases, the massacre is enormous, the cost in human life and injuries is very high. Our best comrades are put on file and imprisoned. State terror is terrible. In Venezuela, Algeria or Los Angeles for instance, after the short-lived victory that consists in occupying the streets for a while, follows a deep defeat and we know that many years will be necessary to overturn it.
That is the reason why it would be criminal to close our eyes to this reality and to praise these sort of revolts, presenting them as "the finally found form of the revolutionary struggle" (18). And if we can't prevent different immediatists and other modernists from praising this kind of movement, our task, the task of revolutionaries is to make a militant criticism of these actions of our class.
It is very serious, it is tragic that we are powerless to prevent the massacre of our comrades. It is sad to see the strength we expressed for a few days break into pieces in the wink of an eye and to see that overnight we are again as lonely as before (19). Practical solidarity we have lived during those days disappears as quickly as it was born. It is terrible to see that we are unable to get our comrades out of jail. It is really heart-breaking to see that "everyone for himself" resurfaces as soon as we quit the streets and that individualism, selfishness and the powerless citizen again take their central place on the historic stage. Even worse: the proper story of what we have been living is negated by the dominant versions of events and the lapses of our own memory submitted to the lies of the latter.
Today's world is characterised by the consequences of the tragic lack of permanent association of the proletariat: no permanent nucleus, no meeting centre, no massive classist press, no international organisation of the proletariat able to gather the vanguard of this community of struggle that shows up here and there. Therefore, the importance of permanent militant activity, of directly internationalist communist action centred on a revolutionary program of action, of organisation, of perspectives such as the one developed by our little group of militants - in spite of our very weak forces, becomes clear.
The lack of this general form of organisation materializes itself in decisive moments of action by the lack of clear orders, perspectives and direction. If class instinct is enough to recognize where to expropriate and who to attack (generally the cops and other corps of open repression), as soon as the struggle comes to a more decisive step and the bourgeoisie shows more subtle faces, as soon as sectors of bourgeois opposition try to transform the classist content into a particular content... the struggle against capitalism is transformed into a particular political struggle. It becomes a struggle against dictatorship, against that government, this minister, against that unpopular measure or even worse: for democracy, for the autonomy of the area or for Islam...
But all this is also the result of the fact that, even when the struggle is at its peak, the lies and tales the bourgeoisie always tells have deeply penetrated our class. Nationalism, Islamist mobilisations, struggle against such or such dictatorship... are unfortunately not only bourgeois discourses, they transform themselves into a material force of disorganisation of our struggle because tens of thousands of proletarians are led into and mobilized for the defence of these ideologies. Populism, the renewal of religions and sects, racism and so-called anti-racism as political movements have developed a great deal and not only weigh down on us during the endless periods of social peace but also weigh heavily on and disorganize big battles of the worldwide proletariat. Many times the bourgeoisie succeeds in deviating the struggle from its objectives; moreover, in many circumstances it succeeds in mobilizing a part of the proletariat against another, which is a decisive step towards the transformation of the social war into an imperialist war inside a country (20). Without necessarily going as far as the case of Yugoslavia in which proletarian struggles gave way to a fratricidal war for bourgeois interests (which is, beyond the qualities of such and such a local or national faction, a true victory for world capital), in many cases what is searched for and often reached is the confrontation of one proletarian sector against another; as in Argentina amongst those who participated in the "saqueos" (looting), as in the United States where everything was done to transform the proletarian revolt of Los Angeles into a struggle between racial communities (although without much success).
To synthesize, we can say today that there has never been such a big difference between the strength of proletarian action and the lack of proletarian consciousness of this action; between the classist practice against Capital and the State and the general ignorance of the determinations of this practice and its aims; between the homogeneity of the proletariat's conditions and struggles and the total and international ignorance of belonging to the same class and of struggling for the same aims; between the practical and radical questioning of private property and the social ignorance of the communist project. It is precisely the lack of permanent mass proletarian organisations and the corresponding lack of a safety valve that make all those contradictions much more violent than in the past. This typifies the framework of the present days' struggles, their strengths as well as their weaknesses. The latter appear through the capacity of capital to transform our struggles into inter-bourgeois, inter-imperialist struggles and eventually into a conflict opposed to the subconscious project of the proletarian struggles (communist revolution), through its capacity to affirm Capital's project: imperialist war (that is to say renovation of bourgeois society by a new cycle of war, reconstruction, expansion...).
And us? What the fuck are we doing to be ready? Not much really!
This sad reality cannot be changed just by revolutionary will and consciousness of such and such a group. Meanwhile the rest of the class is not receptive and contents itself with the world of misery it is submitted to. The minority organisation of a handful of communists, whatever their will, whatever their action and however important their function may be, cannot replace this immense lack of collective preparation. The disorganisation of our class, the lack of permanent structures of diffusion, discussion, exchange, coordination, organisation... cannot be replaced by the insignificant activity of small groups.
That is the reason why, in the short and medium term, these kind of revolts will carry on with all their strengths and, above all, unfortunately, all their weaknesses. We will not be able to prevent the future revolts, in the short term, from ending in heavy losses for our class. Disorganisation, dispersion provoked in our ranks by the enemy as soon as it reorganises massive repression and begins to shoot at us, the fact that the proletariat can't even rely on groups being able to reply to State terrorism by the elementary selective terrorism of our class, the absence of structures of international solidarity, the quasi-non-existence of proletarian structures able to diffuse what's going on in other parts of the world and, generally, the disorganisation of the proletariat as a class will allow again and again in many places the bourgeoisie to take revenge for our revolts by arresting, brutalising, torturing, killing or allowing to die in their jails elements of the proletarian avant-garde.
Even worse, the bourgeoisie will carry on hiding the class character of future revolts. It will carry on writing that these revolts belong to particular causes and the majority of the proletarians will remain indifferent, sure that these are "Islamist" revolts or revolts "against dictatorship" or "corruption". As in the past, this false interpretation will be part of reality (as a philosopher said a long time ago: "The false is a moment of the true") and Capital will do everything to transform it into the one and only truth, in order to transform class struggle into inter-bourgeois, inter-imperialist struggle.
But this situation will not last long, on the one hand because of the ever more general homogenisation of capitalism which will hinder the attempts to hide the uniformity of the conditions of struggle of the proletariat, and on the other hand because of the unavoidable awakening that will ensue from the multiplication of that kind of revolt and the defeats which follow.
Crisis homogenizes the general condition of Capital's development. Not only are capitalists' problems always the same, not only is there unavoidably more and more famine, poverty, unemployment... but, moreover, the economic politics of governments around the world become more similar every day. Besides, the room to manoeuvre is shrinking and the discourses do not change. They all accept what they call "realism" and "pragmatism" and that is nothing other than the open recognition of their own submission to the diktats of the economy. What is new is not this submission as such, it has always been like that, but the generalised admission of that submission. If the discourses of the right and left wings, from the North to the South, of imperialists as well as so-called "anti-imperialists", of nationalists and Islamists look more and more like each other, it is not because these factions are becoming more capitalist than before, nor because the kind of capitalist management called "Communism" has disappeared, but because in a period of expansion Capital can allow different forms of management while in a period of crisis, world Capital develops one sole dictatorial direction: to tighten one's belt. While in certain epochs, on the basis of a maintained increase of the real wage, Capital is able to manage the labour force in a popular way while hiding the permanent increase of the rate of exploitation (which leads to different economic politics more or less populist, state controlled, protectionist...), in periods of crisis, and above all in periods of deep and generalized crisis such as the one we are living now, the law of value violently imposes itself and forces all the bourgeois factions to fight against their own proletariat and against their competitors (21) to maintain the process of valorization. The "normal" growth of the rate of exploitation giving insufficient results, the struggle against the proletariat requires (in almost all cases) to impose a decreasing of the real wage.
The unavoidable and universal enforcement of the same economic politics against the same social class, the repetition of the same type of discourse all over the world to justify this politics ("sacrifices are unavoidable", "we must produce more and in a more profitable way", "let's defend the competitiveness of our country"...) tend in the end to unify the reaction of the enemy... and to unify the enemy itself, in spite of all the ideological efforts made to prevent that unification. The latter is, first of all, the more or less automatic and pre-conscious result of the unavoidable reaction unified in time and space. Its reproduction, the coincidence in different places of the world of this kind of revolt will for sure complicate the role of those ideologues and journalists (i.e. to hide the common causes of the revolts) which opens the possibilities of a process of effective realization for the constitution of one class against one enemy.
At the same time, the qualitative and quantitative intensification of these revolts, the repetition of the defeats will open the eyes, the ears, the spirit... of the proletariat who will compare its own experience, who will hear the experience of its neighbours, who will search for that of other regions, other epochs. In the beginning those who will begin this process will be few but, in one way or another, each of us, as militants, are the product of this kind of forced opening, of this kind of post-action thinking, of the essential supersession of the barriers which held back the previous struggle, of the balance-sheet of a wave of struggle that did not end where we wished it would end. Revolutionaries, those who really lead the class forward, those who at every concrete moment of the movement represent the interests of the whole, the internationalist and historical interests of communism... the revolutionaries do not train themselves through books, they are the complex product of concrete experiences, of attempts to generalise these experiences, of militant efforts of abstraction. They put to the test their embryonic conclusions and compare them to those reached in other places and other circumstances. It is in this context that militant books and writings have their true significance, which is to transmit experiences, to recover the historic memory of our class, to draw a balance-sheet of defeats in order to organise the perspective of victory, to develop and affirm the communist program. The process is long, hard and difficult... but there is no other way!
Contrary to the social democratic vision of a party of bourgeois intellectuals who know everything and teach it to the passive and ignorant masses, social reality is quite different. The proletariat engenders factions, groups able to synthesise the historical experience it has accumulated, and that's the only way to break from idealism, to avoid making the same mistakes again and again in different times and places.
But those revolutionary groups, more isolated today than ever in the past, will only be able to assume their task of revolutionary leadership when the future struggles push more and more sectors of the proletariat to break from the ideologies that imprison them today, when minorities will begin to be clearly seen, when their preoccupations, the preoccupations of communists, will be put forward: revolution, the struggle against capitalism in all its forms.
Only then will our enemies flying on this idyllic and soporific cloud where communism has been buried once and for all, where the conviction that the proletariat is dead reigns, where they can sleep soundly since no one will ever shout LONG LIVE THE SOCIAL REVOLUTION, suddenly feel the greatest fear of the century. They will wake up from this marvellous and stupid dream to which the society they represent keeps them submitted. The harder they fall!
4. If we put "strike" between inverted commas it is because a real strike, for us, is a battle between proletarians and capital whose content as well as its form will tend to express this reality in thousands of different ways: absence of precise demands relating to such and such a category of workers, tendency to be generalized, indefinite duration, sabotage of production, confrontation with the scabs, appearance of "uncontrolled" minority groups...). Here, on the contrary, we are talking about a trade union action (that is to say the action of an apparatus of the capitalist state) having the aim of channelling, and therefore liquidating proletarian energy.
5. In certain cases, the division of labour between the apparatuses of the bourgeois state (for example between unions and the forces of order) allows even a certain dose of minoritarian violence, which of course never attacks the bourgeois order. Thus as long as the majority of the demonstration is peacefully contained by interminable union speeches, they tolerate or even promote a radical part of the demonstrators breaking away and throwing themselves at the special forces of the police who are specially prepared for this to happen. The bourgeoisie and its property remain well protected and it takes advantage of the situation to arrest radical proletarians and to put possible activists on file. Each state force carries out its function, one using truncheons, the other using diversion (which is obviously not to say that the unions don't use overt repression as well). So the force of the proletariat, incapable of leading itself towards its own goal and using minoritarian violence against its real class enemies, is squandered without calling capital into question.
6. In opposition to the decadentist myth which says that unions corresponded to the interests of the proletariat until 1914, we will take the opportunity in this footnote to remind you that since their origin, in particular during the whole of the 19th century, there were unions whose objective was identical to that of the unions today: class conciliation betraying the immediate interests of the workers... Already in 1890, the Catholic Church in France recommended the creation of unions against the proletarian struggle. We would draw the attention of the reader to the article "Mouvement communiste et syndicalisme" in issues No.4 and 6 of Le Communiste.
7. This disappearance of the proletariat is only apparent because, in the last instance, the very existence of bourgeois society has its foundation and its source of reproduction (expansion) in the proletariat itself. But it is true that the proletariat as a class, as a force, as a power opposed to capital, is negated. And this reality can only be totally put into question in practice. That is to say that it is useless, in a period like the one we are going through today, just to say: "The proletariat exists". The proletariat will only fully exist when it constitutes itself anew as a force of social opposition against the existing bourgeois order. Of course, to complete this statement, we must add that materially the possibility and the necessity of this reconstitution of the proletariat as a class, and therefore as a party, is based on the permanent antagonism of this society, an antagonism which the bourgeoisie cannot abolish, not even in the golden ages of total domination. The hundreds of sporadic and discontinuous battles which we are trying to schematize in this text already carry in themselves the development of this movement of reconstitution of the proletariat.
8. Our attention will be drawn, with good reason, to the fact that, as long as value essentially comes from human labour, a humanoid will not create value and that, for capital as a whole, this limit will be its own death. Nevertheless it is not capital as a whole which runs this world, but the life and death struggle between all the multiple particular capitals; a struggle in which each of these capitals obtains extra surplus value from each move in the direction of this humanoid and is therefore interested in the development of productive forces in this direction. To suppose that capital is able to stop its own suicide and/or the suicide of humanity is to attribute to it virtues of planning which objectively it doesn't have.
10. On this subject see the article "Direct action and internationalism" in Communism No.8 (july 1993).
11. Explosions of this type which, in some cases, only affect an area of a town, in other cases a whole town or a whole country or even extend beyond the borders, are obviously not the only forms of struggle today, but we consider that they are the most characteristic forms of present day struggles. The proletariat also demonstrates its existence and its antagonism to the world order when it refuses to be enlisted or when it deserts, but, except for Iraq, these ways in which it expresses itself are not the determining ones today. We could also mention a unionist strike overwhelmed by proletarians who leave their factory to generalize their struggle; but considering that the proletariat expresses itself in that form more rarely and with less importance than in the past, this is not worthy of our attention, least of all in this general outline of present class struggles.
12. The experts of the World Bank and of the International Monetary Fund go to the point of congratulating themselves on the lack of opposition of populations to the measures which they recommend, and this becomes for them a strong argument to convince governments and political parties to put these measures into practice.
13. We refer of course to the social mass of the bourgeoisie and of the classical state apparatuses. It is clear that for a long time the state has had its special corps (for direct as well as ideological repression) ready to carry out manipulation of information, selective repression etc... as we'll schematically explain in the next chapter.
14. If it is clear that it is not the state which creates property but that the opposite is true, because the State is nothing else but property fortified to reproduce itself, we can't forget that the human being respects private property and even goes to the point of starving to death, because he is deprived of the property of what is most essential, while on the other hand there is a tremendous amount of waste. And this only by the pressure brought on him by centuries and centuries of state terrorism, by the ideology of respect for property which this terrorism has managed to impose and reproduce through its ancient work.
16. Just asserting that journalism is at the service of the State would mean that we are too condescending to journalists. In reality, journalism is one of the components of the State and contributes to drawing up its politics. On the other hand, it would be false and partial to consider that it is this state apparatus (or any other means of communication) that leads all the others. That conception, quite fashionable for some modernists or ex-ultra-left militants, is nothing but an idealist interpretation of the thesis of "the society of spectacle" which forgets the fundamental determinations of Capital. If journalism can, in certain circumstances, "lead" the police, the government, the army... it is itself more often "led" by the police, the government or the army, and we cannot forget that, fundamentally, the motor of this component remains value valorising itself and that any structure of the State is submitted to the central determination of the State: to reproduce Capital, to reproduce the domination of the bourgeoisie, to reproduce the exploited as exploited. To pretend that the journalistic spectacle leads the world is nothing but a spectacular submission to the world of spectacle.
17. In these revolts there can be unfair, incorrect expropriations, individualistic and selfish acts of little chiefs. There can also be participants acting as provocateurs to denigrate the movement. But contrary to the police and journalists' version it is never the essence of this kind of movement. It would be absurd to pretend that such problems do not exist. The transformation of the individualistic and selfish mass on which Capital is based into a compact and revolutionary class is a long process that is only (re)beginning with these revolts.
18. During the 1917-23 wave, this formula referred to the councils and the soviets (useful structures for the organisation of proletarians) considered as the form that would eternally guarantee the revolution. But no organisational form can guarantee a revolutionary content, and councils as well as soviets ended up everywhere (and clearly in Russia and Germany) in guaranteeing the functioning of Capital. The uncritical praise of these forms (councilism) was the best ally of the capitalists in the process of reorganisation.
19. Of course some contacts, some relationships produced from the movement are indestructible, and develop themselves in the preparation of new struggles. But seeing the present world wide situation, we may say that these are much too rare exceptions to characterise this period.
20. The clearest example of this kind of liquidation of a proletarian struggle is the 1930s in Spain where World Capital succeeded in transforming the revolutionary struggle of the proletariat against capital and the State into an inter-bourgeois struggle, an imperialist struggle between fascism and anti-fascism, which constituted a decisive step towards the so-called "Second World War".
21. About the unavoidable exacerbation of the war of the proletariat against inter-bourgeois war, see the text "The capitalist catastrophe" in this review.
"Above all, during and immediatly after the struggle, the workers as far as it is possible, must oppose bourgeois attempts at pacification (...).
Far from opposing so-called excesses -instances of popular vengeance against hated individuals or against public buldings with which hateful memories are associated- the workers' party must not only tolerate these actions but must even give a them direction."
Address of the Central Committee (March 1850)