The sickening ceremonies of commemoration of the "Liberation" followed the same strategy. These campaigns of promotion of democracy addressed themselves directly to isolated individuals, the basic kernel of this society, in order to integrate them, to fuse them together, to gather them behind the defence of the State. Even if today the gigantic media shows, organising lasers and noise in the street or in a packed stadium, have replaced the great Nazi masses of yesteryear, like the Nuremburg rallies and torch-lit marches with their compact, disciplined crowds in orderly ranks... all these mobilisations contribute very well and in an identical fashion to the same irrational and collective communion of adhesion to the fictive community of capital. Did not Hitler affirm, in his megalomaniac pretensions, just like "our" experts and economists today, that he had put an end to the existence of classes for at least a thousand years? In the manipulation of crowds and their irrational emotions, anti-fascism plays on the same scale as fascism. During the great collective masses, the bourgeois project affirms itself openly as was it is: a logic of the market tempered in steel, excluding any other approach to the future of humanity apart from that of the capitalist mode of production. Obtaining the adhesion of the isolated individual to the Nation, to the Community of citizens requires that the war which can be seen every day between those who possess everything and those who have nothing but their labour power must be definitively hidden. So every critique is banished, every calling into question of the official historiography is equivalent to "revisionism". Here we can see how the fascist and anti-fascist myths have as their principal function the gathering of citizens into a fraternisation with the State and must serve as an outlet to reassure each person as to their future and above all the war-like future which capital is preparing.
Concealed behind this unanimous concert, the real causes and objectives of the war, which put the planet to fire and blood from 1939 to 1945, along with the causes of all the other wars, are more than ever hidden by a vast media campaign which promotes "the horror of the camps", "Nazi cruelty", "the excesses of war"... On one side the "goodies", on the other the "baddies". Apart from this truth there is nothing! The "anti-fascists" (2) quickly wash away their own massacres in the foul-smelling waters of the horrors of their fascist competitors. The bourgeois polarisation of fascism/anti-fascism functions as the two jaws of the same vice in organising the conscription of proletarians into two enemy camps, ending up inexorably in the preparation of a new "final solution" to social antagonisms: WAR!
In this struggle between the anti-fascist and fascist camps no one had the monopoly in the domain of "horror" and "barbarism". The two competitors, thirsting in the frantic search for new possibilities of profits, both responded to the same necessities imposed by capital to take destruction and death to a level never seen before. The totalitarian reign of democracy, the highest expression of capitalist civilisation, is thus crystallised in these moments of human prehistory that constitute the concentration camps, nuclear bombs, battle-fields, massive bombardments, war taken to extremes. It is under these terms that there materialised, to a degree unknown until then, a complete negation of the human species by class societies. We shall see here that, concerning this atrocious war which flaunted itself from 1939 to 1945, the British, American, Russian, "allied", anti-fascist bourgeois really had nothing to envy the fascists for in their capacity to plan death.
The first is that, above all, the bourgeoisie realises its class objectives and subjective expressions of the capitalist social system by seeking to liquidate its immediate enemy in war: by destroying its infrastructure, logistics and by the liquidation and demoralisation of its troops and working population, so indispensible on the productive front.
Secondly, the worldwide bourgeoisie has drawn lessons from past wars and revolutions and every bourgeois fraction is haunted by the spectre of Russia in 1917. Whilst revolutionaries at that time were hoping for a resurgence of the class out of the catastrophe of the war, all capital's military and civilian strategists knew that what they had to fear most was proletarian revolt in capital's most disorganised cities, in particular in countries such as Italy and Germany in which the army was disintegrating (as was also the case in Russia, despite the fact that this state was on the "winning" side of the war).
Lastly, although certain bourgeois fractions have always been aware that their system needs imperialist war, particularly the destruction of large sections of the proletariat in order to impose a cycle of successful accumulation, the bourgeoisie cannot voluntarily change the course of history. The bourgeoisie is not the subject of history, but always and necessarily a puppet of capital carrying out its determinations independently of consciousness, always relative, by one or another protagonist.
In summary, the bourgoisie as a class does not do what it wants, but what its social system historically obliges it to do. This does not imply that we are ignoring that certain fractions of the dominant class act with consciousness and determination to maintain their social system. They always bear it in mind that, beyond their immediate enemy (the opposite side in imperialist war), it is a trap for their historical enemy (the proletariat) and these fractions do not spare any effort in their machiavellian preparation for its massacre.
"An offensive of extensive bombing could sap the morale of the enemy provided they are directed against the workers' districts [our emphasis] of 58 German towns, each one having a population of 100,000 inhabitants. Between March 1942 and the middle of 1943, it should be possible to make a third of the total population of Germany homeless."
(Final Report of Professor Lindemann from 30 March 1942 at the request of Bomber Command)While the bourgeoisie has the advantage of being so clear amongst themselves, a second discourse was very rapidly put into place with a view to reinforcing, amongst the citizens of the "free world", the belief that the anti-fascist camp was organising the war in a humanitarian way. It was obviously a question of presenting "barbarism" and cruelty as being the unique prerogative of the opposing camp. Mystification feeds off itself - it turned out to be necessary to reinforce its impact amongst the crowds submitted to the war project of the bourgeoisie in their confiding that:
"... Bomber Command only bombs for purely military purposes and only aims at achieving military objectives, any suggestions of attacks on working class or residential areas we reject as absurd and an attack on the honour of the airmen who sacrifice their lives for their country..."However, despite all the lies intended to camouflage the sinister reality, nothing was going to stop the bourgeoisie, with all its characteristic cynicism, from specifying more precisely the aim of these bombings: systematic carnage.
"... it is clear that the aiming points are to be the built-up areas, not, for instance, the dockyards or aircraft factories... This must be made quite clear if it is not already understood."
(Report of the Chief of Air Staff Sir Charles Portal, 14 February 1942)After three years of putting in place various bombing strategies, the degree of precision of terror reached a very appreciable level of effectiveness. At this point, more than a hundred four-engined aircraft would take part in successive waves of bombing of a single town. The first highly bloody illustration of this reality was the bombing of Wuppertal in May 1943, where the military objectives concentrated in the Elberfeld district were at first systematically avoided in favour of the workers' residential districts of Barmen.
But the anti-fascist pole, like its fascist competitor, came to surpass itself in the organisation of horror. Capital, suffering from devalorisation as if from a cancer, couldn't find provisory relief in any other remedy than the growth of its destructive capacity. It is in effect during war and by war that this dying system reaches the high point of the overturning and complete revolutionising of its productive base, permitting it thus to create new conditions for assuring a new phase of valorisation. Physical destruction pure and simple of the means of production is only at bottom the pursuit of the commercial war that the various competitors abandon themselves to even more than usual. For open war earns its keep not only in the area of development of the productive forces, but also in its extension in the military economy. It should not be surprising therefore that that epoch was one in which new inventions, new technologies, new concepts saw the light of day. It is still and always in death that the white-coated worshippers of Mammon surpass themselves. While the V1 rocket was being patiently elaborated on the fascist side, in July 1943 the bombardment of Hamburg by anti-fascist aircraft marked the inauguration of the era of fire-storms. It was by the massive utilisation of incendiary bombs that the death of more than 50,000 people was to be caused, along with 40,000 wounded on the same occasion. The centre of the town was entirely destroyed and, in three nights, the total number of victims in Hamburg reached, without entering here into a polemic of macabre figures, the number killed on the British side during the whole duration of the war. After this it was the turn of Kassel where, in October 1943, 10,000 civilians would perish as if in a giant brasier. The fire-storms materialised the capacity of Capital to refine and rationalise death to an ever greater extent:
"... the sudden linking of a great number of fires, the air above was heated to such an extent that a violent updraught occurred which, in turn, caused the surrounding fresh air to be sucked in from all sides to the centre of the fire area. This tremendous suction caused movements of air of far greater force than normal winds. In meteorology the differences of temperature involved are of the order of 20° to 30°C. In this fire-storm they were of the order of 600°, 800° or even 1000°C. This explained the colossal force of the fire-storm winds... No sort of civilian protection measure can ever contain a fire-storm once it has emerged. They are clearly monsters created by man [sic, we would say Capital!]which no man can ever tame."
(Report of the Police President of Hamburg of the bombing of July 1943)The only response to this unprecedented human genocide was to be found in the concrete shelters where the inhabitants crammed themselves, like frightened animals, in the hope of escaping the explosions and flames. But in these bunkers, transformed into gigantic pressure cookers, men, women, children... were done in inexorably by lack of oxygen or by being cooked, literally like meat on a grill.
"When the rescue teams finally, at the end of several weeks, forced their way into the bunkers and the hermetically sealed houses, the heat created inside had been so intense that there was nothing left of their occupants: they found only a fine layer of undulating grey dust in one bunker, they could only estimate the number of victims as being between 250 and 300 (...) The abnormal temperatures in these bunkers were also attested to by the pools of melted metal which were originally the pots, pans and cooking utensils kept in the houses." (3)Faced with the scale of damage caused to civilian populations, questions began to be asked. It was impossible to unload all those bombs without causing horrifying damage to civilians. Invariably the anti-fascist British government responded to this with the same assurance and the same arrogance:
"... no instruction has been given to destroy dwelling houses ... the targets of Bomber Command are always military."
(Secretary of State for the Air Sir Archibald Sinclair, 31 March 1943)Then, in the world of lies erected into a system of a single permitted thought, the useful idiot of capital continues to swallow and reproduce the dominant discourse. The infernal round of bombers, carrying in their holds the future promise of good business, once more carried out the aim of foretold carnage, and returned again. During 1944, perfecting their technique to the point where not a single square meter of an inhabited area could escape the incendiary bombs, raids on Königsberg (end of August), Darmstadt (September), Braunschweig (October), Heilbronn (December), Bremerhaven etc. claimed many tens of thousands of victims, caught in the jaws of gigantic brasiers. Ideological misinformation remained total and, day after day, hundreds of bombers, dropping thousands and thousands of bombs, took off from Britain for Germany. For the man in the street this represented the adequate response to the horrors of the other camp.
While public opinion mumbled the stupidities that its masters concocted for it, on both sides of the front, others arranged to remove all traces of the desired carnage, thought out and organised with full knowledge of what would happen. Thus, the American General Eaker declared at the same time:
"We should never allow the history of this war to convict us of throwing the strategic bomber at the man in the street."All the same, fifteen days before this declaration, a raid carried out by American bombers on Berlin had caused the death of 25,000 people, something that this brass-hatted jackal did not ignore. You can't help thinking again about the lies and cynicism which prevailed during the whole of the Gulf War (4), and discovering there a long and solid tradition, not only in the US Army, but equally in all of the bourgeoisie past and future. Lies which have no other aim than to mask the gigantic effort which leads this capitalist society to perfect its arsenal of terror and destruction. War represents for it a gigantic living laboratory of technological experiments and above all a gigantic source of profits.
If the fascist camp came to profit from putting in place a great number of scientific discoveries such as the V1 and V2 rockets, thanks to the concentration camp slaves, what can be said about their direct competitors? Bombs which were always bigger, always more powerful and still more destructive were systematically developed. Thus, faced with the ineffectiveness of traditional bombs, which rarely hit their target, armour-piercing bombs were developed, so that a maximum number of proletarians could be massacred. They must have known that during bombardments, when proletarians buried themselves in subterranean dwellings or cellars, the explosion of a classic bomb on impact with a building would only take place most of the time at the highest part of the building. The genius of the bourgeoisie therefore came to struggle to get the better of the bomb fodder, who were not allowing themselves to be massacred so easily. Consequently, the scientific scum, who never miss a dirty trick, invented an armament capable of finding the human flesh where it had hidden itself. It is logical that the bombs should explode in the deepest rat holes. So, during the first impact, the new bomb doesn't explode. It goes through the roof, penetrates the floorboards and only explodes once its real objective is reached: the reinforced cellars.
Dresden did not have any strategically vital industry, nor any important military installation. And it is, moreover, for this reason that the town constituted a refuge for hundreds of thousands of people fleeing the bombings and the advance of the Soviet army, another joyous army of massacrers. Blinded by the propaganda of the Allies, persuaded that Dresden would never be bombed, all these refugees crammed themselves into the numerous hospitals of the town and stormed the schools, the railway stations and so on. The British government did not ignore these facts, and this is true up to a point that some military chiefs of Bomber Command expressed serious reservations as to the military validity of such an objective. In effect it was something difficult to swallow, even for the pilots, that a few weeks before the end of the war, when on all fronts the German troops were in open retreat and disarray, that there could exist any military objective in the organisation of the biggest massacre of the whole war. To this, it was drily replied that Dresden constituted a priority objective: in the midst of the Yalta conference, it was a question of putting themselves in a position of strength, thanks to the bombings, in the face of the rapid advance of Russian troops.
The bombing of the town took place on 13 and 14 February 1945. The bourgeoisie wasn't unaware that there were close to a million and a half people, of which a great number were refugees from the province of Silesia, many injured, prisoners of war, labour deportees... The greatest tonnage of bombs ever used was thus unloaded over two nights: close to 3000 tonnes, 650,000 incendiary bombs fell on the town, producing the biggest fire-storm of the whole war. The fire winds which consumed the town travelled at from 200 to 300km per hour. Dresden would burn for eight days during which the glow of the fire would be visible from 300 kilometres! Some parts of the town burned so strongly that it would only be several weeks later that the cellars could be entered. The whole panoply of the most murderous bombs was used: phosphorus, napalm... People, veritable human torches, threw themselves into the Elbe where they continued to burn, the flow of fire which descended from the centre of the town towards the Elbe reached the river and continued to destroy. Decapitated corpses, victims of "anti-personnel" fragmentation bombs, littered the streets. Of 35,000 inhabited buildings, only 7,000 remained standing. The whole centre of the town disappeared over an area of 18km². Most of the hospitals were destroyed, while the railways were hardly touched and neither the military airfield nor the various factories round about were targeted.
The intervention was carried out in a methodical fashion: those who conceived it had even taken account of the wind so that the fire could develop with a horrifying rapidity. On the night of 13 and 14 February 1945, more than a thousand British bombers came to sow terror. The next day, 450 American Flying Fortresses took up the relay in unloading 771 tonnes of incendiaries, of which a great number were delayed action. This "novelty" allowed Bomber Command to assure for itself an even more impressive bag. These bombs, which didn't explode until several hours after the aeroplanes had passed, would kill not only those who tried to put out the fires, but all those careless enough to flee from the burning town. The balance sheet which was without contest one of the highest expressions of Civilisation and Progress surpassed the figure of 250,000 dead, almost all civilians, to say nothing of the tens of thousands of wounded, burned, dying, maimed, insane...
"... ten days after the bombing, a group of prisoners had cleared the steps leading into a basement, but they refused to go in. Something out of the ordinary had happened inside. The men stood sullenly around round the basement entrance, as the civilian Director, wishing to set an example, marched down the steps to the cellar, an acetylene lamp in his hand. He was reassured by the lack of the usual smell of decay. The bottom steps were slippery. The cellar floor was covered by a twenty centimetre deep liquid mixture of blood, flesh and bone; a small high-explosive bomb had penetrated four floors of the building and exploded in the basement. (...) They learned from the caretaker of the block that there must have been 200 to 300 people in the cellar on the night."
(Hans Voigt, director of "Abteilung Tote", the "dead person's bureau" charged with cleaning the city of corpses)Because of the risk of an epidemic the centre of town was declared to be off-limits. Each day thousands of bodies, or at least what was left of them, were dragged into the central square of the town, to be, after a last attempt at identification, crammed onto pyres of 400 to 500 corpses to be burnt. Close to 70,000 victims were thus incinerated on the Altmarkt as a protective measure. For the first time in the history of the war the survivors were not numerous enough to bury the dead. The apocalypse hit this region like a thunderbolt. For several weeks a horrible smell of putrefaction mixed with that of charred human flesh hung over the ruins and the surrounding area. Packs of dogs roamed the rubble looking for corpses. Ten of thousands of ghostly figures wandered the roads in search of refuge, with haggard eyes and in rags, the veritable living dead. It is almost impossible with these words, or with figures, to be able to describe in its deepest reality this veritable apocalypse. The vocabulary which we use to communicate today is too poor to express the disgust, the hatred that is inspired in us by such a systematic, methodical, scientific organisation of terror, of death! And the disgust which we feel towards these greatest acts of the anti-fascist bourgeoisie is all the deeper because of the way that they bury all critique against themselves by denouncing precisely... the systematic, methodical, scientific organisation of terror as being the monopoly of their competitors. Here capital has hit hard, very hard.
But the horror that the bourgeoisie is capable of deploying is without limit. The Allied hunters went on to machine-gun the columns of refugees who were fleeing from the town put to fire and blood, just as help was arriving from the neighbouring areas. Ordering the bombing of Chemnitz in the days following, the Allied commander didn't mince words, declaring to the pilots:
"The reason you are going there tonight is to finish off the refugees who managed to escape from Dresden."Like a pack intoxicated by the smell of blood, these guard dogs of capitalism cried out for new orgies of blood-letting to assuage their hunger for more corpses. The anti-fascist alliance had decidedly nothing to learn from the fascist coalition when it comes to the refinement with which they assured the survival of this moribund civilisation. In 18 months of bombings, 45 of the 60 principal German towns had been completely destroyed, razed, crushed. At the very least, 650,000 proletarians, the majority civilians, were to perish in the course of the terror raids, without even mentioning those who, having escaped this hell, would spend the rest of their lives in hospitals and lunatic asylums. It is truly on mounds of corpses that the victory of the anti-fascist camp would be celebrated on 8 May 1945.
A beautiful "Victory" indeed, that of having hidden their own crimes under the mattress of the horrors of the competitor. A beautiful "Victory" celebrated with lanterns on a field of corpses!
It is a matter of fact that this society cannot live without war. To express it very schematically here (5), the reason is that the mass of capital grows more rapidly than the possibilities of its valorisation. Thus, cyclically, an overproduction of capital occurs, having as a consequence that the valorisation of one part of social capital excludes the valorisation of another part of the same world social capital. The closure of factories, or the scrapping of other fixed capitals, is never enough to re-stabilise the situation. A generalised depression regularly occurs, leading inevitably to a general devalorisation of all existing capital. When Capital encounters no possibility of profitability, it must "normally" lead to the generalised bankruptcy of the less profitable capitals. These, like all the others, organise themselves to resist this inexorable law of capital. The organisation of some or other of them, at various levels of centralisation, with the aim of carrying out this war in the best possible circumstances (associations, cartels, national states, blocs or constellations of states) renders war periodically effective: it presents itself as a partial solution to the problems of world capital. In destroying an important part of capital, and therefore in preventing the functioning of it, war ameliorates the general conditions of the whole of world social capital. War thus permits it to relaunch, on a new basis, a new cycle of valorisation. On the other hand, this solution only makes the problem even more insoluble for the capitalists to come. A new phase of overproduction of capital, even more important than the preceding one, intervenes, making necessary the violent devalorisation - by destruction - of always more means of production.
The so-called "Second World War" does not escape from these invariable laws of capitalism. It is not in the head of some Hitler, any more than in the head of a Stalin or a Truman, that we can find an explanation for this gigantic carnage, but only in the entrails of this society that many, above all amongst the proletariat today, find it difficult to recognise for what it is: a class society. In place of this evidence, the bourgeoisie presses to reinforce the stupidities that it fabricates for its public opinion, showering the brave citizen, that sinister homo democraticus, with commemorations, military parades, stories recounting the psychology of such and such an idiot useful to capital, with the aim of making him accept the unacceptable: participation in war to save its moribund system.
As we have seen already, far from being limited to a question of interbourgeois competition, the war strategy of extermination aims to massively liquidate a maximum of excess productive forces for the valorisation needs of this society of death. But we cannot limit our analysis to this single aspect of the question. The elimination of battalions of proletarians, those thousands of tonnes of bombs dropped on working class areas, materialise the capacity of our class enemy to preemptively hit every area of proletarian tension. If the proletariat of the years 1939-45, atomised within the inter-bourgeois polarisations, failed more or less to recognise itself as the proletariat, the bourgeoisie, for its part, was able, beyond its ideological divergences, to hit it wherever the danger appeared, in the impersonal interests of its World State.
It was also therefore so as not to see a replay of the preceding insurrectional wave, that the Allied aircraft had as their mission the bombardment, during the terrorist raids, of not only the German industrial centres, but also the biggest population centres, massacring and terrorising always more proletarians. Far from being blind, these bombings were on the contrary very selective: it was above all working class areas which were the targets of Allied carpet bombing.
This annihilation was "justified" all the more urgently from the beginning of 1943, when, amongst concentrations of proletarians in Europe, struggle and resistance to exploitation once more appeared. Numerous bourgeois myths perpetuated the idea that the social situation at the end of the war was peaceful, or at least it was bathed in the consensus of "liberation from fascism". We want to affirm against the current that, in the whole of Europe at that time, under the blows of material necessity, threats of proletarian conflagrations caused the spectre of social revolution to reappear. A real movement seemed to reemerge, putting forward everywhere the satisfaction of our needs.
To be sure, 1945 was not 1918!... and most of the few nuclei of revolutionary militants of the period, who managed to maintain a classist course in the storm of counter-revolution, had to a large extent overestimated the perspective for struggle, concluding in a mechanical way that a proletarian uprising was imminent in Germany as in 1918. The sites of struggle which did appear were rather feeble and above all were marked by more than 25 years of counter-revolutionary terror: 25 years in which the communist avant-garde had been liquidated. Over more than two decades the bourgeoisie had perfected its cycle of counter-revolution and a good number of militants of the wave of 1917-21 had disappeared into the concentration camps, had been massacred on the fields of horror, or had even been enroled into the Stalinist parties and ground down by the "Party of Order".
The world bourgeoisie, taking some lessons from the revolutionary wave, had given itself such material means so that it no longer had to confront a disintegrating army, a defeatist proletariat which was turning its arms against its own generals, against its own bourgeoisie, able to transform itself into new battalions of revolution. Thanks to the means of destruction qualitatively and quantitatively superior to the previous phase of this class war, the bourgeoisie made it their duty to take on class liquidation, class "genocide", not merely of millions of proletarians in uniform but also hundreds of thousands of "civilian" proletarians.
It is not by chance either that the terror bombings were systematised at the moment when important strikes broke out in Germany (and also in Italy, France, etc. (6)) and when desertions in the German army began to increase. This is an expression of the complementarity of the "rival" fractions of the bourgeoisie in anti-proletarian repression. The working class was caught between the frying pan and the fire: on one side the terror coming from the sky and, on the other, the firing squads who force the strikers to continue "war production" for the "final victory".
At the end of the so-called "Second World War" the bourgeoisie closed off a cycle of war by the temporary neutralisation of the proletariat. The two world wars were two moments of a gigantic anti-proletarian massacre extending from 1914 to 1945 and interrupted in 1917-18 by the proletariat in struggle. It is only on this level of abstraction of the reality of capital that we can make sense of events which, for bourgeois historians, prove to be incomprehensible, to be the malicious work of an "evil genius": Hitler, Stalin, Roosevelt, Churchill or some other... This is the idealist personification of history which obscures the real, open, anti-proletarian significance of all wars, whether they are anti-fascist, "for national liberation", "for the defence of socialism" or some other anti-human justification.
The end of the war therefore came to be a field of extraordinary experiments for the bourgeoisie. They applied a number of lessons learnt from the preceding struggles undertaken against the proletariat. More precisely, it was so as to prevent the renewal of the revolutionary situation which had marked Germany at the end of the so-called "First World War" (1914-18), it was to preventatively suppress any proletarian uprising, that the bourgeoisie came to orient its activity around three principal axes in 1945:
"Workers have no homeland, one cannot take away from them what doesn't belong to them. Any form of defence of the nation, under whatever pretext is an attack on the worldwide working class. Under the reign of the bourgeoisie, all wars are imperialist wars with two or more opposing factions or groups whose interests are world capital. Proletariat wages and claims only one war: social war against the whole bourgeoisie. Independently of the direct intentions of the protagonists, the essential role of wars is to affirm Capital and to smash objectively and subjectively the subversive class within this society. In this sense, wars are never merely wars between National States, between the forces of "national liberation" and the "imperialist" forces, or wars between "imperialists", they are essentially wars of Capital against communism.
Against all interbourgeois antagonisms between "progressive" and "reactionary" factions, "fascist" and "anti-fascist" factions, "left wing" and "right wing" factions,... the logical continuity of which are imperialist wars, the proletariat has no other solution but the intransigent struggle for its own class interests against all sacrifices, against all truce, all national solidarity: revolutionary defeatism, turning its weapons against its "own" direct exploiters, against its "own" direct oppressors. The proletariat's aim is to transform through the international centralisation of this community of struggle against Capital) capitalist war into a revolutionary war of the world proletariat against the world bourgeoisie."It is this long thesis that we are reaffirming in conclusion of this text by recalling that, from Dresden to Rotterdam, from Hiroshima to London, from Stalingrad to Warsaw, the only "Victory" which mattered in 1945 was, definitively, that of the bourgeoisie. In 1945 capitalist exploitation was able to endure on the basis of the crushing of the proletariat. A moment of the perpetuation of this defeat was concentrated in the credit accorded to the "Allied", "anti-fascist" crimes, under cover of the publicity given only to the crimes of the other camp. It is good to remember that: fascist or anti-fascist, the dictatorship of Capital is democracy.
We call on our readers not to remain passive but to struggle with us against the amnesia with which the bourgeoisie attack us. We ask them not only to criticise this text, but also to make material available to us which allows us to better understand the history of our class and its struggle in the years 1939-45. We shall return to all this in succeeding issues.
2. We consider as definitive that the only real enemy of fascism, or of any other Bonapartist attempt put in place by the bourgeoisie to crush our class, is the revolutionary proletariat. But the revolutionary struggle against fascism cannot be separated from the struggle against all the other fractions of the bourgeoisie, including those claiming to be anti-fascist, who show nothing more than a desire to maintain capitalist exploitation under another form and under the dictatorship of other managers. In this sense, "anti-fascism", proclaimed by these factions, is most of the time only the facade of anti-fascism which only makes use of this terminology from opportunism with the aim of more easily confronting a capitalist competitor. Its "anti-fascism" is a banner under which it is occasionally easier to regroup its forces for its war. We only have to recall that Stalin started off choosing an alliance with Hitler and fascism, before taking up an alliance with Churchill and Roosevelt. The bourgeoisie is no more the enemy of fascism than any other form of capitalist management: the proletariat constitutes the only real grave-digger of the capitalist dictatorship, whether its attire is fascist, anti-fascist, popular, republican, anti-imperialist or Bonapartist.
3. This quotation is taken from the book by David Irving, "The Destruction of Dresden", PAPERMAC, 1985.
4. See our text "War or Revolution" in Communism No.7, April 1992.
5. For a more important development of the question, we refer our readers to our texts "Capital: totalité et guerre impérialiste" in Communisme No.33, May 1991, and "Contre la guerre impérialiste: la révolution communiste mondiale" published in our central review then called Le Communiste No.14, July 1982.
6. We can recall, as we have already done in our review Communisme No.41 of December 1994 ("Nous soulignons: '50 ans de paix... cela se fête!'") that the important class struggles developed not only - as is better known - in Northern Italy ((43-45) and in Greece, but also in Germany, in Belgium, in France, in Yugoslavia, even in Russia. And as if by chance, while the concentrations of workers in places such as Milan, Turin and Rome had never been bombed during the war, it was when Italy fell into the Allied camp, and particularly during the outbreak of strikes, that the Allied air forces felt the necessity to bomb these regions, to restore social peace through terror.
7. Is it really necessary to point out here that we are talking about measures only taken against proletarians? As for the generals, the Nazi officers, the industrialists, the scientists... apart from some odd scumbags who were liquidated during the great spectacle of the Nuremburg trials, most of the German bourgeoisie would be promoted to high positions in the opposing camp (scientists like Von Braun, for example), would be imprisoned for a while (which would in any case be less unpleasant than being subjected to forced labour like most of the soldiers), then released to set out on a capitalist career in the "new" Germany. So, when H. M. Schleyer was executed by the Red Army Faction, we learned that this boss of German bosses had in fact been an old Nazi dignitary.
But how was such a massacre explained at the time?Reading Le Soir, the big official Belgian daily paper, is edifying. The information about the bombing of Dresden was given two days later, in a little box coincidentally between the obituaries and the list of the day's shows. There we can read that 1,400 RAF bombers have attacked Dresden with the petrol refinery of Bohlen as their target (we should recall that this refinery remained intact). On the first page there's not a single trace of the 250,000 dead of Dresden. They are crushed under information about... the Yalta peace agreements. A little lower down, by contrast, a little commentary concludes: "also it is only by the brutal force of arms that they will finish off that race of fanatics"! The demonisation of the enemy and the discourse of peace. On one side, purely and simply covering up the crimes of the victors, on the other side: the methods of disinformation of the "Allies" hardly differ from those of the "Nazis", no more than the methods still used today to justify the Gulf War or to hide the attendant proletarian insurrections, for example. In all cases the disinformation has the same function: to chain proletarians to a nation and deny the identity of interests of the proletariat across all frontiers and all nations.
"It is of greatest importance to fight against the lies justifying the '39-'45 war, as stressed by the article on the bombing of Dresden. However, it seemed to me that the article had omitted certain details which could be very useful in showing that the barbarity was in no way confined to one side.
The bomb attacks on Hamburg, Kassel, Darmstadt and Brunswick had not been specifically designed to provoke storms of fire, which had been an unexpected outcome of the bombing. However, in Dresden, firestorms were the aim. This is evidenced by the choice of bombs and the way in which they were used: explosive bombs were dropped first, smashing windows and roofs and then incendiary bombs (which made up 75% of the bombs carried by the first wave bombers), spreading fire throughout the whole city, which, by then, had airstreams blowing violently across it.
The second wave aimed at destroying the rescue brigades that were trying to save any that could be saved, the fire brigades trying to put out the fire and the convoys of trucks bringing aid. The rescuers were not only the target of the fighter-bombers, but of a whole wave of bombers who had been given specific official orders to destroy them. The fighters' official mission was to go in and `finish the job' after the bombers had completed their attack.
(...) The Dresden-Klotzsche aerodrome (where hundreds of planes remained firmly on the ground during the whole bombing) (...) was totally spared by the bombers flying over it. Thus a military objective, easily within reach of the bombers that were supposed to attack only military targets, was left intact.
During the Nuremberg trial (and while denouncing the Nazies' horrors), the US government (instigators of the trial) integrated some Japanese scientists into their research teams on bacteriological and chemical weapons. These scientists had already acted extremely ruthlessly in occupied Chinese territory, carrying out experiments in their research units on prisoners-of-war and on the Chinese population on a large scale. They had tested the limits of human resistance to cold and heat, means of spreading diseases amongst civilians (provoking a plague epidemic in the region of Nankin by dropping containers full of contaminated fleas) and other similar experiments. When Japan surrendered, the Americans (who were lagging behind Russia in the field of bacteriological and chemical warfare research) camouflaged their rehabilitation of these criminals by sacrificing their Nazi alter-egos, who were less advanced in such research. Therefore, the Nazi scientists were not made to pay for the horror of the experiments they carried out, but for the fact that they had failed to produce enough results!"
From capital's point of view, the colonisation of America represented extraordinary progress, as did the generalisation of slavery. The same goes for the war economy, the accumulation of value, technological development and the militarisation and effective control of the population. The World Wars, or more recently the Vietnam and Gulf wars, were yet further milestones on the road of capitalist progress and barbarity.
At the same time, the State - that is capital concentrated into a force of oppression and domination - has also made much progress, such as the generalisation of the vote, the massive development of prisons, police control of whole populations, the unionisation of the working class, the widespread obligation to carry an I.D. card and the scientific analysis of fingerprints... In the same way, the State has reinforced its role not only by deepening the historical separation between producers and their means of production - so that every being depends on the sale of his labour force, to an ever-increasing extent - but also by controlling and officialising a large number of activities that were previously performed in a particular way. The progress of capital and the State cannot be summarised by the fact that the inhabitants of the tropics today consume Coca-Cola rather than coconut milk or that they eat rice rather than fish: that the common run of people give birth in hospital, are forced to register their children, feel obliged to have a church or a civil wedding and can no longer even bring up their own children as, in order to be able to go to work, they have to leave them in a nursery.
All these types of progress have a mutual influence on each other. The more capital develops, the more it opposes humanity and the more necessary oppression and dictatorship become. Throughout antiquitity there has never been any king, any tyrant who had such vast control over his subjects or such an enormous repressive apparatus as does any "small" State today (1). To believe that modern society could ever manage with less police or less prisons, or that one day everyone might work of their own free will, is an incredible delusion that has been refuted by reality a thousand times over. On the contrary, the more this society of exploitation and oppression progresses, the more indispensable direct mechanisms of repression and oppression become to maintain humanity as a labour force for capital.
Slavery was never wiped out, but merely disguised. Forced labour has been developed on the basis of other, more modern, mechanisms such as the generalisation of wage labour, but without abandoning forced labour itself. The big concentration camps organised by capital proved to have far greater potential than was ever developed by the mode of production exclusively based on slavery. Moreover, slavery itself (at the same time as wage labour) continues to be a reality in this world, in all its modernity, in numerous countries, including certain areas of the US (2) and in all prisons across the world.
The progress of capital is such that all prisons and every police force in the world are no longer sufficient for its purposes. The more capital progresses, the more its opulence and misery grow, the more its wastefulness develops and even the most basic needs fail to be met... so the police, courts and prisons become more and more indispensable.
In this article we want to highlight some remarkable advances made more recently by capital and the State, which are clear confirmation of what capital holds in store for us - more repression and barbarity - because they represent appreciable progress in the usual mechanisms of repression.
For instance, according to the Ansa news agency: "The state of Alabama has reestablished the use of chains for its prisoners, reintroducing a method that had not been used for over 30 years (only!!!) in the US. The new prison chief, Ron Jones, declared that "to see the prisoners in chains will make our young people think and will convince them that crime does not pay!"
Even before the television screens of the whole world had transmitted this sordid show of chained prisoners escorted by police and being submitted to forced labour, the Ansa agency had reported: "During the coming weeks, 400 prisoners will be forced to work on the roads and fields outside the prison, and one will again witness the spectacle of prisoners being chained together five by five, just like in some old films."
In another state of the USA, during the same period (February-April 95), fierce argument was raging as to whether those who had committed "serious sexual crimes" should be castrated or not.
In an international telegram dated March 29th 1995, Ansa reported: "A proposal to castrate those found guilty of serious sexual crimes provoked fervent debate even before becoming law in the state of Texas. The bill, approved by a large majority of the Senate of this state, offers such prisoners the choice between castration or prison."
Senator Royce West (Democrats) became indignant, describing it as barbarity: "What will be the next step? To cut off thieves' hands?" And "why not?" we ask. Are there not "other States" supported by these same capitalist factions that practise precisely such methods? Do not torturers and killers in the pay of the police across half of the planet receive instruction and training from the same police forces that the Democrats and Republicans applaud in the USA? And is the State that chops off hands in some parts of the world not the same, in the end, as the one that is planning to cut off balls in the US?
Let's listen to the arguments of the republicans in Texas. This is what the Republican Senator Teel Bivins had to say when referring to those who, according to his judgment, should be castrated: "Such persons often fall victim of uncontrollable instincts, several have asked for surgery voluntarily so as to put an end to their sexual appetite and start living a normal life at last."
"A normal life" !!!? "A normal life" ???!!!
We sincerely hope that the proletariat will not delay in inflicting, in public, this kind of "normal life" on him!
But let's return to his argument. Mr.Bivins maintains that this new proposal will leave criminals the liberty to choose whether to be castrated or not: "The decision to amputate the testicles will be totally voluntary." As always, behind freedom of choice, lies the stick; and in this case, moreover, blackmail. As far as the revolutionary proletariat is concerned, it will not stoop to the level of blackmailing the honourable Mr.Bivins, but will definitely not leave him the "right to choose"!
Mr. Bivins adds further that he has "carefully evaluated studies on castration in certain European countries, which show that castration enormously reduces the chances of repeating sexual crimes."
It is important to realise that this bill has already been approved by the Senate, which shows to what extent this way of reasoning and acting, more often attributed to the Middle Ages, is coming back into fashion, corresponding to increasingly modern and necessary forms of State oppression, not only to the barbarity of "Islamic States", as Western democrats are fond of repeating.
The Ansa news agency ends its report by commenting that for the bill to become law it has to be approved by the Texan Lower Chamber, and then signed by the Governor...
Even if this may be upsetting to many progressivists, we assert that this constitutes major progress for capital, for State control of life, an impressive development of the mechanisms of repression on which our enemies can count from now on.
"The promoters of this project regard it to be the most revolutionary tool at the disposal of the police since the introduction of fingerprinting, nearly a century ago (3). The Home Office has welcomed this exciting development that puts Britain at the forefront of the struggle against crime."According to this news report, it will take only 7 days to compare the information in the file with any evidence found at the scene of a crime and to establish who's guilty (providing that person has already been put on file). The margin of error will be less than one in several million. The cost of such an operation, sample analysis and comparison with the file, will be extremely cheap, around 65 dollars.
"The file... is located in Birmingham (centre of England) and its access is under strict security controls. It registers the DNA-code of people who have already been convicted or of those simply questioned during an investigation by analysing some saliva or a strand of hair."
"Since last year, the law has allowed such genetic samples to be taken from all suspects, even without their agreement. The police's aim is to put 135 000 British men and women on file in the first year, mainly in cases of murder, sexual assault and violent robbery. Ultimately, 5 million files will be stored, ie. 10% of the British population. Sixty full-time police officers and scientists will be taken on to manage the files."
Even the most appalling Orwellian predictions have become trivial compared to the progress of this marvellous world we live in. Here are two more examples of the progress made by the State in Great Britain.
During the same period, we realised, while reading Belgian newspapers, that the English State is not as much at the avant-garde of repression as we might have been led to believe. The newspaper Le Soir wrote: "In Belgium, filing is also in full swing. After encoding fingerprints and photographs of suspects and detainees, genetic fingerprints are being entered into the National Institute of Criminology's (INC) computers. This is a slow and progressive process that is being carried out under the watchful eye of the December 1992 law concerning the protection of private life." All this comes complete with their guarantees for the protection of democratic rights!
on the 10th of April 1995, the same day that the genetic file became operational, a new provision of the penal code was approved, which scraps "... the sacred right to remain silent, which is supposed to have benefitted all those taken into custody. Henceforth, any refusal to answer police questions will be held against the accused during a future trial."
Le Soir continues: "This filing is authorised by a royal decree determining the INC's tasks. The computer system was installed recently and about a month and a half ago they started to encode the results of genetic reports provided by several official laboratories" ... "The genetic fingerprints come from analysis of blood, sperm or human tissue samples (skin, hair...). These allow a genetic fingerprint to be determined specific to each individual and partially similar to one's parents. This technique often used in cases of murder or rape, when it is possible to find some sperm or blood originating from the presumed perpetrator. These samples will allow, by way of the file, to establish a link with other cases in which the accused's guilt has already been established. But only a magistrate -the director of the file- will be allowedd access to make any link between a print and a person. (This is where they tell us that we don't need to worry, that we are protected by law!) This protection stems from the law of 8.12.92 on the protection of private life. This law authorises the constitution of files (the individual does not own the information concerning him and cannot oppose it) but imposes some restrictions on files allowing personal identification... Nevertheless, the law is more permissive where judicial or administrative police enquiries are concerned." (This should come as no surprise to us!)
And as if this wasn't enough, Le Soir also informs us that not only judges and police are interested in the files, but bosses as well: "If genetics can be useful to judges, it could be that it will soon be exploited... by employers. Researchers from the School of the Sociology of Health at the Universite Libre de Bruxelles (ULB), have started a study polling bosses and unions in order to find out their opinion... Will bosses soon discard a CV if a perfect health certificate does not accompany it?"
And we will still be told that it is not science itself that is bad, but the way it is used to oppress; that we shouldn't challenge genetics just because it is being used by the police. This point of view is common to all "progressivists", as much to the bourgeois right as to Stalinism, Trotskyism or more generally, the whole of social-democracy. This ideology is just a particular application of a much more general conception that considers productive forces to be neutral, at the service of either barbarity, or humanity, according to who is using them and how they are being used.
But what is forgotten in this conception, is that it is capital that conceives the productive forces; the rate of profit determines what science researches or produces. It is not the neutrality of research but the market that directs genetics or science; it is money that rules laboratories and "inspires" scientists, it is subsidy, and therefore the central State apparatus, that have the last word in what type of research is to be undertaken. And so the cycle is completed: not only does the police use science, but science itself is entirely conceived as an agent of the State, as a police department.
And since bullets are not enough, they use other means: progress of course, but also the drug mafia, religious sects, new social services,... This is how, following the wave of struggle of 1989, they set up police stations and aid centres in different areas of Caracas to control the population, to detect and chanel sources of rebellion and more generally, to get the population used to repression. In the same way, all over the world, children are put into files starting from school, even from nursery school. In these institutions, different kind of social assistants operate: it is their job to investigate and, in general, are efficient agents for prevention and policing on behalf of the State. Lately, we have learned that in different countries of Latin and non-Latin America (and we presume that it is the same on other continents), humanitarian organisations, always so preoccupied with health problems, are freely distributing Valium and other diazepam-derived hypnotics in the hospitals they set up or run. Even worse, in certain shanty-towns more than half the population are dependent upon these hard drugs... and comrades who live in these areas consider this to be one of the main causes for the general mood of passivity.
But one cannot stop progress! All of this is no longer sufficient. In the US they are preparing a law to make the use of neuroleptics (4) compulsory for the "homeless".
In concrete terms, Senator Nancy Kassebaum, elected by the State of Kansas and president of the Labour and Human Resources Committee, has worked out a draft law that, according to David Oaks (5), proposes "to apply the status of IOC ("Involuntary Outpatient Commitment") to the homeless". This report explains that the IOC are patients allowed to leave psychiatric hospital on the condition that they attend on a regular basis to be given injections of neuroleptics that keep them permanently drugged.
"I.O.C now exists in more than half of the U.S. States. It usually amounts to this: people living out of their community, not at that time violating any law or hurting anyone, must report regularly to their community mental health facility for injections of long-acting neuroleptic drugs, such as Haldol or Proxilin. They can be locked up simply for refusing this chemical. The effect of this "depot injection" in the butt lasts weeks! ... When your name comes up on the computer, and you didn't report for your injection, sometimes a "mobile aggressive treatment team" is sent out to find you and inject you on the spot. These goon squads are known by some on the streets as "needles on wheels".....Pharmaceutical fundamentalists have embarked on a chemical crusade to forcibly inject us -especially homeless Americans- with powerful neurotoxins, sometimes for life, wasting taxpayer millions to create dependent people... our country is on the brink of accepting a Brave New World "final solution" to poverty."The same organisation DENDRITE denounces a collection of "side effects" of such drugs:
"The following item was in today's newspaper, 19th July 1995, via the Associated Press of Chicago, concerning the heatwave just experienced by much of the USA: "In Milwaukee, officials said the heatwave caused or contributed to 60 deaths. Among them were about 18 people who were taking anti-psychotic drugs which block the body's ability to release heat, said Medical Expert Jeffrey Jentzen. "Before seeing this, just yesterday, I had posted some letters giving seven arguments against forced "outpatient" psychiatric drugging (Involuntary Outpatient Commitment or I.O.C.). The first argument I gave was that during heatwaves, forced neuroleptics can kill..."
2. See the article in our central review in Spanish ComunismoNo.7, June 1981: "The capitalist mode of production is still developing slavery as one of its subsidiary forms today: an example of the USA".
3. All these quotes in inverted commas come from European newspapers, dated 11-12 April 1995.
4. For several decades tranquillisers have been divided into two groups:
a/ Anxiolytic agents or "minor" tranquillisers, subdivided into barbiturates, benzodiazepines and others (chloral hydrate, meprobamate...).
b/ Anti-psychotic, neuroleptic or "major" tranquillisers which are subdivided into phenothiazines (piperazines), butyrophenones, diphenylbutylpiperidines, thioxanthenes and substituted bezamides... Note that the classification between "major" and "minor" tranquillisers cannot be all that clear, because these terms are put in inverted commas even in scientific books on the subject.
5. The information that we publish here, comes from the CHRP-internet - David Oaks, 18th July 1995, address: <t;firstname.lastname@example.org> that also produces information on a group called Dendrite ("No forced drugging of homeless people"). Their address is as follows: <email@example.com>.
6. The situation has reached such a worrying stage in Europe that, on several occasions during recent summers, the authorities have advised against physical exertion outdoors and have limited traffic in certain towns as the levels of ozone considered to be breathable have been way surpassed.
The ICC has never split from social-democratic and pacifist conceptions, nor ceased to assert its europeist and euroracist conception of the world. In concrete terms, it specializes in denigrating proletarian struggles in the Middle-East (1), America, Africa, whilst vindicating many strikes and pacifist demonstrations (usually trade unionist) that take place in Western Europe, especially in France (2).
Wherever the place, the ICC always knows which side to choose. In Europe, it opposes every attempt at class rupture and denounces all violent action by the proletariat, labelling it as provocation. Everywhere else, armed with this good old eurocentrist social-democratic ideology, it denies the class character of the revolutionary social movement, as well as the class groups defending it.
"It is obvious that the first brawls, if not directly fomented by the police, were widely furthered by them..."Note that this is exactly the same argument used by social-democracy against proletarian groups all over the world, identical to that used by opportunists and reformists against all those who won the revolutionary autonomy of the proletariat on the streets in 1917-23. Those who opt for direct action and do not accept social peace are accused of serving the enemy and giving the bourgeoisie a pretext to harden State terror. As if repression ever needed a pretext!
"Furthermore, these provocations were a good way for the bourgeoisie to seek to intimidate the workers by the deployment of its repressive arsenal, to make them believe that they had no way of imposing a balance of power to their own advantage in the face of the State..."
"As for the "explosive actions" based on terrorism, not only have they nothing to do with the proletarian struggle, but they feature increasingly in the methods used by the bourgeoisie to perpetuate its class terror. At best, they represent desperate reactions of the rebellious petite bourgeoisie without a future and, at worse (in most cases), actions by small groups manipulated by the State and its secret services..."
The comrades of the Collectif conclude that "a time will come when those who write such things will have to take cover"... and they are right!
Let's remember that these are the same social-democratic arguments used by Domingo Arango and others such as Abad de Santillan against the violent actions of revolutionary militants such as Di Giovani or Rocigna in Argentina in the 20's. This sort of slander, its usefulness for the State very real in this instance, led to Domingo Arango receiving a bullet in the head, and we can only lament that Abad de Santillan did not share the same fate. He went on, in Spain in '36-'37, to play a leading role in the liquidation and republican disarmament of the proletariat following its triumph in the insurrection.
As we said previously, we cannot stop at each falsification and every lie, but will denounce the general method of falsification. As an example, throughout the whole of their article the writers make out that they are quoting from our texts by putting half-sentences in quotation marks when, in reality, they are constructions of the ICC's mind, which bear no relation to our assertions.
Starting with the title itself: "The ICG and its support for the 'Zapatist movement'". Our group has never supported any "Zapatist movement" but rather the movement of the proletariat against the bourgeoisie in Mexico.
Another example: "There is its 'critical' support for Shining Path in Peru". Here, in addition to a perfect falsification, we find a true collaboration with the policy of amalgam carried out by the police. We have never formulated any critical or non-critical support for Shining Path. We globally denounced the group as a danger to the autonomy of the proletariat in the region. Furthermore, we consider its positions on the peasants' war and the fight for democracy to be counterrevolutionary and doomed to deadlock. What we have done, and will continue to do, is support the struggle of the proletariat in Peru, including the struggle of proletarian prisoners, even if some, or even a large number of them, carry the flag of Shining Path.
And while this bunch of bastards that constitute the ICC were declaring that there were no proletarian "political prisoners" in Latin America, we were fighting to free imprisoned proletarians. The ICC remained indifferent -and therefore became accomplices- to the huge massacre of proletarian prisoners orchestrated by social democracy in Peru, under the pretext that they belonged to one or other organization, whilst our group openly defined itself as being on the side of the prisoners and called for the denunciation of the massacre and for international proletarian struggle (3). In reality, for the ICC as for the bourgeois State, and in particular for the Peruvian police, to stand on the side of the oppressed is to support Shining Path. That is infact the basis of the whole police strategy in Peru, which consists of repressing anybody by accusing him or her of collaborating with or supporting Shining Path. It's precisely on the basis of this amalgam that many comrades (internationalist or self-defined anarchist) are repressed. As we said at the time:
"Anyway, we believe that to fail to show solidarity with those repressed, on the pretext that they are Stalinists, Maoists or other, is to become accomplices of the State and the whole international press which identifies Shining Path and its ideology with the proletariat crushed in blood in Peru today."But clearly taking sides with the proletariat by confronting and denouncing State terrorism has nothing to do with the critical support of this or that formal organization, in the same way that, for example, support for the proletarian revolution in Russia must not be amalgamated with support for the policies of the formal Bolshevik organization. Moreover, the latter did not demarcate itself from the terrain of left-wing social-democracy, which is why it oscillated between insurrection and support for democratic bourgeois government, between direct action and parliamentarism, between confrontation with Capital and the economic policies for its development (strengthening of "State capitalism", taylorism, NEP,...). In the workers' camp, we have always considered those who contribute to this type of police amalgam to be cops and informers, including those who "confuse" determined direct action against the State with whichever formal organization that is in hiding and being hounded by the police. As can be seen from the example of the policies of the State in Italy over recent years, this policy of amalgam is fundamental to State repression.
Throughout ICC's article the passages in quotations marks are supposed to contitute statements made by our group, but are actually nothing but lies and slander. Thus, we learn that the ICG presents itself as the "continuator of the Bordigist tradition" (ICC's quotations marks!). If you were to read the thousands of pages we have written in all our published languages, you would never come across any such absurdity. This is pure ideology from the ICC. Neither our group, nor Bilan, nor Prometeo,... have ever presented themselves as Bordigists and even less as continuators of the Bordiguist tradition. The same applies when they quote us as calling for the "Mexican revolution" or that we consider that "the movement of Emiliano Zapata was influenced by the proletariat". The ICC is just spouting loads of bullshit whose only basis is its own social-democratic ideology which makes a distinction between the "peasants" and the "proletariat"; this has definitely nothing to do with our positions.
What is important in all this is not to denounce particular insults aimed at us, but to disclose the methods used by the counterrevolution: inaccurate quotations, falsifications, amalgams,... As if it were a trial, the aim is to discredit us and, if possible, hand us over to the cops.
"What are the 'majority of the proletariat in arms'? A handful of peasants whose desperate misery served the purposes of the organizers of this movement" ... "a few peasants who dream of a kind of autonomy for ethnic groups, who do not look for the abolition of private property, but for the 'restitution of land'... in fact, their aim doesn't go further than the established order, they long for nothing else but to 'make exploitation more humane and fair'"Note that they haven't recovered from their mania of putting statements of their own in quotation marks and attributing them to their opponents (the proletarians in Mexico). Note particularly the vulgar manoeuvre in which they put the words "make exploitation more human and fair" in quotation marks, as if their contradictors had actually declared a such thing, thus disparaging the struggle of the proletariat by inventing sentences that only they assert!
As is commonplace in social-democracy, they discredit the proletariat, try to divide it, label proletarians as peasants simply because they live in the countryside and, similarly, if they live in towns, try to dissolve them into townsmen, citizens. Indeed, the ICC knows as well as everybody that this is not a question of the "small-holding (Parzellen) peasants" referred to by Marx in "The 18th Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte", not a question of small landowners but, on the contrary, of agricultural workers dispossessed of everything (4), proletarians who have nothing to sell but their labour force and whose only possessions are their "proles" (that is to say, their descendants) and whom, as such, are objectively opposed to the world of private property. In our opinion, this opposition does not arise from any particular idea, expression or ideological declaration but, on the contrary, from the life of the proletarians itself, from their total deprivation of the means of survival, from the only class whose social and material existence opposes private ownership of the means of life (and production). Attributing any objectives other than social revolution to proletarians (whether agricultural or not) is purely and simply taking sides with the counterrevolution, just as social-democracy has always done.
By attributing different interests from the rest of the proletariat to those who are dying of starvation, the ICC are making the same assertions that have always been made by the counter-revolution. Whilst the Maderos, the Carranzas,... social-democracy, the ICC in Mexico and the EZLN have designated reform and the defence of private property as being the aim of the agricultural proletariat in that country, revolutionaries of the past and of always, from Zalacosta to Julio Chavez Lopez, from Librado Rivera to Flores Magon... to the revolutionaries of today have their objectives firmly set on the abolition of private property and the destruction of the State.
"The war in Mexico from 1910 to 1920 was not in the first instance a proletarian revolution. The young and dispersed industrial proletariat (5) did not constitute a decisive force during the war. In fact, its most important attempts at rebellion, the wave of strikes at the beginning of the century, had been completely crushed on the eve of war. In as far as certain proletarian sectors did participate in the war, they did so as carriages pulled along behind bourgeois fractions. As for the agricultural proletariat, without his industrial brother as a guide and still very attached to the land, he remained very integrated in peasant war... But what is called the 'Mexican revolution' has not exhausted its content in internal social conflict. It also remains fully within the framework of the imperialist conflicts which shook the world at the beginning of the century and which led on to the First World War... and to a change in the hegemony of the major powers." (6)As soon as the proletariat goes from a wave of strikes to armed struggle, severs the bourgeoisie's head and expropriates, social-democracy can no longer hide its repugnance and refuses to grant it the certificate of proletarian struggle, accusing it of being "terrorist" etc.
In our eyes it is normal that the ICC does not recognise the revolutionary character of the proletariat's struggle and we have nothing more to add to the basis of this question. We will leave it to the texts we have presented, and continue to present, on revolution and counter-revolution in Mexico. Eighty years ago, the comrade Flores Magon replied to these same slanders, putting their authors in the place they deserved. At that time, social-democracy and the sectors of social-democratic "anarchism" (such as Grave or Galleani) also denied the proletarian, the communist character of these struggles; but in this period also, the barricade only had two sides: either the side of the proletariat and its struggle or against it.
"Who are those who doubt that there is a revolutionary movement in Mexico, and that this movement has the immediate aim, not to bring a new president into power, but to appropriate the land and the machinery of production?As for the reactionary invention which consists of saying that this struggle was within the framework of imperialist war, we can only add that only those who confuse revolution with counter-revolution could make such an assertion, because it was only when the counter-revolution had triumphed, when the extraordinary revolutionary movement of our comrades had been liquidated, that the proletariat was transformed into cannon fodder for the interbourgeois war. And this is not particular to Mexico. In all other major revolutionary attempts of this century, as in Russia, Germany or, later still in Spain, it was only once counter-revolution had triumphed (whether under the flag of the revolution or not) that they managed to mobilise the workers as the people and make cannon fodder out of them for the various bourgeois fractions who were fighting over the leadership of the State, culminating in the gigantic imperialist butchery which public opinion and its ideological defenders still insist on calling the "second world war".
Just a few rascals who by their silence or their attacks, help the bourgeoisie and authority, taking the moral and material force away from those who rose up in arms brandishing the Red Flag of the worldwide proletariat."
Ricardo Flores Magon
in "Class War"
Regeneracion, 6th April 1912
Over and above the denunciation of this social-democratic organisation, what interests us is to expose the methodology, the essence of the reasoning behind it.
As was exposed by Marx and the comrade Flores Magon (see our revue in Spanish, Comunismo No.35), proletarian revolt is born from the needs of the proletariat. In the same way, the socialist and communist content of its struggle lies within its very life, within its opposition, which is international and, as it were, pre-conscious of capital. Formal communist, revolutionary programmes do not emanate from any particular individual, but are contained within this reality. This does not in any way signify a denial of the importance of clarifying the movement and therefore organisational, conscious and disciplined action, the party's revolutionary action, in the struggle for communist society.
For social-democracy it is quite the opposite. As was developed by Kautsky, Lenin and many others, the workers do not fight for their historical interests, but exlusively for their immediate ones. According to them, socialism, or the ideas of socialism, must come from outside the class.
Here follows the famous explanation by Kautsky on the socialist consciousness which comes from the exterior:
"...But socialism and the class struggle arise in parallel and do not engender each other: they arise from different premises. Today's socialist consciousness can only arise on the basis of deep scientific knowledge. In fact, contemporary economic science is as much a condition of socialist production as is, for example, modern technology and, despite all its wishes, the proletariat cannot create either one or the other: both of them arise out of the contemporary social process. Thus, the bearer of science is not the proletariat, but bourgeois intellectuals (underlined by Karl Kautsky): contemporary socialism was, in effect, born from the brains of certain individuals of that category and was communicated by them to the most intellectually evolved proletarians, who went on to introduce it into the class struggle of the proletariat where conditions allowed it. In this way, therefore, socialist consciousness is an element imported from the outside (von Aussen Hineingetragenes) into the class struggle of the proletariat and not something that arises spontaneously. Also the old programme of Heinfeld said very rightly that the task of social-democracy is to introduce into the proletariat (literally: to fill the proletariat up with) the consciousness of its situation and the consciousness of its mission."This thesis is taken up by Kautsky's disciple Lenin, who brings this ideology to its maximum expression in "What is to be done?"
"Social-democratic consciousness... could only come from the outside. The history of all countries testifies that, by its own forces alone, the working class can only reach trade-unionist consciousness... As for socialist doctrine, this was born from philosophical, historical, economic theories elaborated by representatives instructed by the owning classes, by intellectuals."Social-democracy, in the Mexican version of the ICC, goes even further than this in this negation of the proletariat, its struggle, its objectives, its consciousness. It adds all of its europeist racist ideology to its basic Kautskist conception. For the ICC, socialism not only comes from the outside of the proletariat, the outside of Mexico but, worse still, it stems directly from the contributions of the white European race. On page 16 of the Mexican review that we have been commenting on, in an article on unions in Mexico, we found the following gem.
"Strikes were extremely rare before 1870, starting to generalise from that decade onwards. This transformation was not a 'spontaneous' acquisition of the proletariat that was born in Mexico; on the contrary, it was the result of the influence of organisations which were developing in Europe."That is to say, according to the ICC, not even the generalisation of strikes (the need for which is felt during every strike) could arise in the struggle of the Mexican proletariat. The poor Mexican workers are not even credited with a brain to manage that... probably because they are Indians, because they do not belong to the European white race!
The Mexican version of the ICC explains it like this:
"In general, there was less knowledge about the development of socialism in Mexico than in many other Latin American countries. It emanated, almost in its entirety from the activities and writings of a few workers and immigrant intellectuals; Nevertheless, immigration did not play such a substantial role in the formation of the proletariat in Mexico. In 1910 foreigners made up 59.4% in Argentina, 32.2% in Brasil, whilst in Mexico they only reached 0.77%, of those only 4.2% being workers. Added to this is the immaturity of the proletariat in Mexico which saw to it that those who reappropriated the organisational experiences of the European proletariat were rich artisans."This is the ICC's version of the Kautsko-leninist theory of consciousness coming from the outside: for them, it doesn't just come from outside the class, but from outside the country and is clearly a creation of the European white race.
This is not just a negation of the fundamental basis of materialist historical determinism, but much more globally communism as a universal being, a human community in historical opposition to the community of commodities and money. The historical arc of communism is ignored, the centuries and centuries of struggle by exploited against exploiters, the struggle of the human race against property, against value in process,... and to put the icing on the cake, communism is reduced to an ideology paticularly invented in Europe. One can therefore see perfectly, even if it is sometimes possible to think the opposite, that social-democracy does not go beyond the judeo-christian conception of the world.
So let's leave Kautsky's modern emulators here. We have no more space to mention dozens of examples of practical, historical ways in which the proletariat in Mexico, in its own struggle, opposed bourgeois society and asserted its revolutionary, communist character, not only since 1910, but well before. In any case, our class's revolutionary struggle has never waited for the ICC to come with its ideological wild imaginings in order to develop. Our class has no need to undertake theoretical investigations, to import ideas to fight for its needs, for communist revolution and to finish off its enemies.
As Marx said in "The Class Struggles in France":
"As soon as it has risen up, a class in which the revolutionary interests of society are concentrated finds the content and the material for its revolutionary activity directly in its own situation: foes to be laid low, measures dictated by the needs of the struggle to be taken; the consequences of its own deeds to drive it on. It makes no theoretical inquiries into its own task."
2. During the recent movement of struggle in November/December '95, the ICC suddenly took an opposite course to this position (without departing from its everlasting attitude of truncating reality to make it conform it to their own positions). So, without, of course, ever referring to the few violent ruptures expressed in this movement, the working class (as seen by the ICC), up until yesterday guardian of class consciousness, suddenly became a simple mass of trade union manoeuvres, incapable of affirming its class interests. This reversed unilateral position probably resulted from an nth modification of its biased ideology, decided during an nth general congress. Disgusting egocentrism!
3. On this topic, see our article "Large-scale massacre of prisoners in Peru" in Communism No.6.
4. Besides, on the American continent, where capitalism was despotically imposed by the conquest and where feudalism never existed, the "small-holding peasants", the petit bourgeois, never existed as a force and never played an important role. In North, South and Central America the class polarisation (bourgeoisie/proletariat) has always been the unique reality. The large masses in the countryside do not possess any property (and when, exceptionally, they own property on a legally formal basis, it is only a trick, any real economic property remaining absent). They are part of the proletariat in the sense that revolutionaries have always given to this word. The search for "small-holding peasants" by sociologists and bourgeois left-wing militants in America clearly shows their cultural alienation, making them apply the European model of passing "from feudalism to capitalism" in a mechanical way. It is not by chance that those who talk about the existence of peasants in America also talk about feudal society or feudal reminiscence and the need for bourgeois democratic revolution.
5. We do not want to enter into comparisons between countries, as this is not our terrain but, given that it constitutes the basis of the whole ideology of the ICC (see their emphasis on this question in what follows) we will at least say that this description is completely wrong. The "industrial" sector of the proletariat in Mexico in the last century is comparable in terms of quantity and concentration with that of continental Europe in the same period and, more important, in terms of struggle, associationism, strikes (since 1850 in Tarel, Guadalajara), programmes, communist organisations (the first Communist Party that we know by this name was founded in Mexico in 1878) was one of the most precocious sectors of the proletariat in the world. Put simply, arguments of the supposed weakness of the proletariat have always been used by the counter-revolution.
6. Quotation taken from Revue Internationale No.77, published in France by ICC and also used by the Mexican ICC.
Italy, major laboratory of counterrevolution, model of repression, international "example" of the technique of amalgam, factory of repentant and dissociated people, of collaborateurs... has made a further qualitative step.
A few years ago, the State in Italy came to the forefront of the international scene through its profound exploitation of the tactic of amalgam. In short, this consisted of lumping together and denouncing as terrorists whole sectors of the proletarian movement, which could not otherwise be officially accused of any specific offence. This repressive stroke of inspiration consisted of making bombs, which were then placed by the State's own police force (or sectors manipulated by it) in order to produce fear amongst the population and legitimize the State's terrorist action. The State in Italy has been combining terrorist action characteristic of any State (mostly physical and psychological torture) with legislation favouring denouncement, informing, collaboration, etc... for over fifteen years; little by little, this practice has become an international legal model used as an example by the police and legal forces of an ever-increasing number of countries.
Today, on the basis of vague statements made by a repentant (1) and following some raids in which some weapons were discovered and an "anarchist" charged, the State investigators, represented by the roman judge Antonio Marini, have launched a campaign against different groups and militants calling themselves "anarchist" and are accusing them of forming an "armed gang". It is clear that the cops are not looking for any culprit in particular, but want to declare illegal the whole, very contradictory movement articulated around different structures and positions, whose only point in common is that they call themselves "anarchist" (2).
It is clear that this kind of attack is not really directed against "anarchists" in general, given that some of them defend, in Italy just as elsewhere, clearly reformist and pacifist politics, providing an excellent service to the State. Moreover, as in the past, the State's tactic aims to put pressure on the different sectors it has amalgamated, so that they try to dissociate and exonerate themselves, etc., this course of action having been shown to produce excellent results. The proof of this can be seen from the time of the "Red Brigades" or "Prima Linea", when such pressure provoked a stream of declarations of dissociation. Certain sectors of official anarchism such as the "Circulo Berneri" or the "Italian Anarchist Federation", didn't hesitate to openly dissociate themselves from the accused, by way of communiques in which they declared that those charged had nothing to do with anarchists, are provocateurs and that anarchists would never carry out armed action.
Agents of repression generally leave official "anarchists" alone, trying to identify and strike hard at those whom they consider to be the real enemies of the State. But, as judges and cops are unable to consider subversion as a "natural" and inevitable product of misery and oppression, limiting their imagination to a group of conspirators, numerous mistakes are made which lead to the sentencing of militants or of whole sectors that are not even developing any revolutionary activity (and vice-versa).
From the end of 1995, and throughout 1996, a whole series of trials, raids, arrests, prosecutions, amalgams, statements, campaigns,... followed one after the other, climaxing on 17th September 1996 in a raid on some 60 houses and apartments in different towns in Italy and the arrest of dozens of militants, pushing even more militants into hiding in its wake. Some of the arrested militants have been accused of murder and bank robberies, but the great majority are accused, with no evidence, of belonging to the same "armed gang" (an organisation supposedly called "Organizzazione Rivoluzionaria Anarchista Insurrezionalista") and charged with: being an "armed gang", having "subversive associations", "possessing weapons and explosives" and committing "crimes against public utilities".
The reason why we are highlighting this amalgam of militants against which there is no proof of armed action or use of arms is not because we want to show solidarity with "innocents", as opposed to those who have carried out armed actions against private property and the State. This is the line always taken by reformist and opportunist political organisations. We consider that the "guilty" will always be an integral part of our movement, just as revolutionaries at the time of Marx and Bakunin or Flores Magon and Rodolfo Gonzáles Pacheco always claimed. The reason why we are drawing attention to amalgam is because we think it is fundamental to denounce the fact that the State not only wants to repress those who committed whatever "crime", but actually all those who represent any kind of danger to the State, whether or not they have done anything illegal and whether or not they fit their criteria for charges to be made against them. In short, it is essential to denounce the State's tactic of amalgam (the creation of informers, collaborateurs,...) as a method of repression of an extremely wide social movement, a method that aims to ensure and reproduce class domination. Let us add that the accused have formally denied belonging any such clandestine organisation. They explain that, ideologically, an "anarchist revolutionary organisation for insurrection", as a separate and specific structure, would be a nonsense for anyone calling himself "anarchist" and that the very concept of such a thing would actually be that of a leninist organisation and thus contrary to their positions:
"Judges know perfectly well that the anarchist organisation they talk about does not exist. They know that the model of an armed gang -a mirror image of their own model- cannott be applied to the real relationships between anarchists. Individuals who meet on the basis of affinity, ie. according their own differences, and develop initiatives without formalising any particular points of unity, individuals who do organise, it's true, but never in a rigid manner, cannot be an armed gang. This is not only because they refuse clandestinity (a refusal that is of significance in itself), but because they cannot accept to enrol -neither as a name nor as a programme- in a structure that makes armed encounters a reality separated from the subversive totality. And if an anarchist, individually and assuming all his responsibilities, decides to use weapons, nothing of this reality is changed. Even if, letting our imagination run riot, all the accused or even every anarchist in the world, in addition to writing, discussing, making love, circulating leaflets, insulting bosses, deserting work, occupying buildings and recuperating commodities were to use weapons, it still would not make them an armed gang. Those in power need to invent the gang... The judges want to impose the illusion that, apart from survival and waiting, there is only armed organisation... Happily, insurrection is not really what the repressive organs want it to be..."Here are some addresses to obtain information about the victims of repression or to improve the solidarity network with them:
Casella Postale 4120
Teléfono y Fax: 055/631413
via Passo Buole 47
Tel: 011-317 41 07
2. One of the militants arrested is Alfredo M. Bonano. He is accused of being "the brains of an underground armed gang". Beyond the political divergencies he may have with our positions, this comrade has produced excellent material (a denunciation of amnesty in Italy, for instance) and has republished and distributed a collection of historical texts by communists (the so-called "international communist Left") via the publishing house "Anarchismo Editions".
The following text was first published in Communism No.2 in 1985. At that time we were faced with language difficulties that made our texts in English quite obscure for our readers. Now, thanks to the effort of more and more English-speaking comrades, the texts published in Communism are far easier to read. This is one reason why we are republishing this text. Another more important reason is that fighting to reduce working time is a moment of the revolutionary struggle against work. In 1985, we wanted to denounce the ideology of trade-unions and Leftists; at the end of the 90's, this denunciation is just as valid. There is continual talk about reducing working time: left and right, Labour and Tories, "CP", Trotskyists, Maoists, nationalists, fascists,... it has become a universal recipe for unemployment, the solution to capitalist crisis.
In their continuous search for extraordinary surplus value, capitalists are obliged to constantly update and modernise their means of production in order to increase productivity. Increases in productivity result, above all, from an ever more continuous, methodical and intense use of productive forces, the most important of which is labour power. As capital changes its methods of work, it also transforms labour power and men themselves, since it changes the relation of men to work. For proletarians, this always means an increase in the rate of exploitation; first, because wages do not depend upon the production of wealth and second, because any growth in productivity implies an increase in the intensity of work. Under capital, the installation of new machines always gives rise to an accentuation of the division of work, to the more rigorous, more scientific and more rational organisation of working time, submitting proletarians to stricter rules, regulations and obligations. This is the hunt for 'dead time', the struggle against absenteeism, the development of mobility of the workforce, continuous surveillance, stepping up the pace...
Faced with this perpetual reinforcement of exploitation, one of the working class's constant demands has been, and still is, the reduction in working time. The bourgeoisie is therefore trying to identify this proletarian demand with a "legal limit on the working day" (without which social labour could not be intensified and rendered more productive of surplus-value) in order to make the "workers' movement" the linchpin of reformism, of capital's permanent reform.
The "legal reduction in working time" has nothing to do with a reappropriation of time by the workers and is just a formal reduction in working time, only measured quantitatively by the chronometer without any regard for its quality (intensity, density). This measure, far from being a step towards the emancipation of the proletariat, only aims to adapt the labour power, the living labour, to the new conditions of exploitation, to make them accept the increasing dependence of the worker on capitalist machines, to reinforce the division and programming of their lives according to the needs of capitalist production, making them, at work as in their leisure time, simple reproducers of surplus-value.
The reduction in working time as an expression of the proletariat's emancipation from its secular enslavement to work can only be real in the context of intense struggle between proletariat and bourgeoisie, in which the class imposes its demands, antagonistic to the capitalist mode of production, by force.
It is therefore necessary to distinguish between increase in productivity and intensification of work. Under capital, both concepts are closely linked because productivity cannot be increased without reinforcing the intensity of work and the exploitation of the proletariat. Under proletarian dictatorship, however, any increase in productivity will lessen the intensity of work and reduce the exploitation of the proletariat. Communism, because it responds to human needs rather than the need to accumulate capital, because it will free the development of productive forces from the shackles of the capitalist production relationship, will achieve (for example by generalised automation) a far greater productivity at the same time as abolishing all work.
"The private works of isolated individuals do not acquire the character of social labour in the concrete form in which they were used in the process of production, but can only acquire it through exchange, which represents an abstraction of particular objects and of specific forms of work."In the capitalist mode of production, all commodities (including labour power) must be made equal, reduced to a common denominator, in order to be able to be exchanged: value or abstract work, whose measure is the social working time crystallized within it necessary for their reproduction. Every commodity is therefore sold at its value (the law of supply and demand making the prices oscillate around this average). So, the worker sells his labour power by the day while, for example, one hour of work would be enough to produce the value necessary to reproduce his own force. By working one hour a day, the worker would have produced enough wealth to exchange for his means of subsistence (food, clothes, lodging...) The wage is the payment for this necessary work, without which the proletarian would not be able to maintain nor reproduce himself. So, by paying the labour power at its value, the capitalist can appropriate the work done during the remaining hours of the day without owing anything to the proletarian, since the contract and the principle that each merchandise is bought at its value have been respected. We call this part of the work which is appropriated by the bourgeoisie surplus-labour. The value created during this surplus-labour is called surplus-value. The relation between necessary labour and surplus-labour or between wages and surplus-value is the rate of exploitation.
(I.I. Rubin, "Essays on Marx's Theory of Value").
We have just seen that the working day can be broken down into two parts: necessary labour and surplus-labour. The capitalist mode of production can only develop by continually reducing necessary labour and increasing surplus-labour. For marxists, this relation between necessary and surplus labour is fundamental - not only is the reduction in daily working time compatible with the extension of surplus-labour but it is one of the forces permitting the extension of this free labour.
One possibility for the capitalists to increase surplus-labour is to lengthen the working day, however the struggle of the working class to reduce working time has been one of the elements that has pushed capitalists to increase surplus-labour by reducing necessary labour (1).
"But when the surplus-value has to be produced by the conversion of necessary labour into surplus-labour, it by no means suffices for capital to take the labour process in the form under which it has heen historically handed down, and then simply to prolong the duration of that process. The technical and social conditions of the process, and consequently the very mode of production must be revolutionised, before the productiveness of labour can be increased. By that means only can the value of labour power be made to sink, and the portion of working day necessary for the reproduction of that value be shortened."If a capital A can produce, using new production techniques, a greater amount of goods with less workers than its rivals, it will be able to sell its products at a lower price than its rivals (and will even be forced to if it wants to move the greatest number of goods), but at a higher price than their cost of production (less living work is crystallised in them and, therefore, less wages and more profit) until the value of identical commodities on the market decreases as a consequence of the generalisation of the production process and extraordinary surplus-value thus disappears. It is through this incessant process that every capitalist is continually on the look-out for technical innovations, as it is only by conquering rival markets that he can gain this extraordinary surplus-value.
Forced to increase surplus-labour by reducing necessary-labour, every capitalist is therefore pushed to increase productivity which decreeases the social labour time crystallised in each commodity and, in this way, gives rise to a fall in their value. This drop in value also applies to the labour-power commodity, signifying a reduction in necessary labour. Temporarily, this decrease in the value of labour power makes it possible to realise extraordinary surplus-value. But within this need to reduce necessary Iabour lies capitalism's fundamental contradiction, between the process of permanent valorisation and devalorisation. Although the only source of profit, surplus-value, is just the living labour contained within each commodity, the growth in productiveness (or increase in the organic component of capital) always signifies an increase in dead labour (technological development) compared to living labour (development of labour power). The realisation of extraordinary surplus-value thus accentuates the decline in the rate of profit.
One can therefore understand that the costs of investment are continuously rising tend to lower the rate of profit (relation between profit realised and the sum of invested capital). At the same time, the constant fall in the value of commodities gives rise to an accelerated devalorisation of fixed capital (buildings, machines, tools). The cost of these machines has to write itself off in a shorter and shorter time, requiring the workforce to achieve maximum profitability: the machines must be operated day and night in order to extract enough surplus-value and decrease the cost of the labour power. This is why, under capitalist production, any increase in productivity means an increase in proletarians' enslavement to machines, to dead labour.
Productivity today is capital's productivity. Capital is not concerned with producing two goods instead of one in order to halve man's suffering - on the contrary, it is concerned, above all else, that a greater surplus-value be realised in these two goods in order to compensate for the devalorisation of commodities produced with less and less living labour. Every increase in productivity is therefore accompanied by a relative decrease in wages (relative to the quantity of wealth produced), a decrease in necessary labour and an increase in surplus labour. It is a fundamental reality of Marxism that the degree of exploitation is relative because it is social and historical that enables us to understand the growing antagonism between proletariat and bourgeoisie and to demystify all the "social gains", the "increases buying power", the "reduction in working time".
In Belgium, for example, statistics from the "Université Catholique de Louvain" show that there was an 11% cut in working hours between 1960 and 1973. But what the bourgeoisie does not reveal is that this "progress" is due to the extraordinary rise in work productivity, enabling the workers to produce the same amount of goods in 1973 as in 1960, in only 43% of the working time. If this rise in work productivity had entirely been in the workers' favour and had been used to reduce working time, it could have been reduced not by 11% but by 57%, which would have meant working less than 20 hours a week! (See the article "Le 'Maintien du pouvoir d'achat', un mot d'ordre reactionnaire" in Le Communiste No.4)
To limit the cost of new investments as much as possible, the capitalist is obliged to slow down the development of fixed capital. To increase productivity, he will centre the modernisation of his productive apparatus on the search for better ways of intensifying the work of proletarians. It is this need to increase the intensity of work that forces capital to reduce the length of the working day, not in order to reduce work, but to increase it.
"Given that any animal force's capacity for action is inversely proportionate to the time during which it is active, at certain limits one gains in efficiency what one loses in duration (...) The enormous impulse that the shortening of the working day gives to the development of mechanical systems and to cost-cutting obliges the worker also, by making more of an effort, to provide greater activity over the same period and thus to condense the work to a degree that he would never have been able to reach without this shortening."
"There is no doubt that the tendancy of capital to save itself by the systematic intensification of labour and to transform every perfectioning of the mechanical system into a new means of exploitation must lead to the point where a further reduction in working hours becomes inevitable."
All the bourgeois who know a little about history admit the truth of these facts but do not see the irreversible class antagonism indicated by them. On the contrary, they only see them as past excesses that progress has left behind, a bygone period. One of their most effective arguments is to highlight the reduction in the working day (16, 14, 12, 10, 8... hours). These are facts that the workers cannot refute, that can be used to convince them that capitalism is not such an inhuman system and that enable the bourgeoisie to paint the "leisure society", the "era of free time" in glowing colours, to present it as a just reward for so many years of effort and work for capital, for all the services rendered to society. But these are just pipedreams, confirmation of the narrow-mindedness of the bourgeois, who substitute their ideal vision of their own class situation, of their society, for the reality of the world.
In the historical centres of accumulation and concentration of capital, the big cities of South America, North America, Europe, Africa, where millions have been put to work, the legal duration of the working day is on the decrease. However, this is soley due to the fantastic development of productivity, which has allowed capital to stabilize social turmoil and to impose social peace by granting "advantages" to certain categories of proletarians, whilst at the same time increasing the extraction of surplus-value, the rate of exploitation. Similarly, the only way of achieving capitalist valorisation in poorly populated, deserted areas is to maintain extremely long working days to compensate for the weak organic composition of capital, making the working conditions of these workers similar to "historically outmoded" social relations.
In some parts of the U.S.A., for example, (the symbol of "developed society"), the extraction of surplus value takes the form of slavery (see the article in Comunismo No.7 on the working conditions of the clandestine immigrants in Texas, Florida, Virginia...). The flourishing multinational food company "Gulf and Western" has its offices in ultra-modern buildings in New York, where its employees work according to the U.S. company legal standards. However, it obtains its raw materials in Haiti where it is public knowledge that the sugar piantations are real slave-camps (work with practically no rest, miserable wages, permanent military surveillance of the agricultural workers...). But it is not only in America that wage labour can be seen to be no more than a life sentence of forced labour. There are the Siberian labour camps, those in South Africa, Mauritania, Mali, as well as the concentration "communities" in Cambodia, China, Haiti... Where is the industrial centre in which "black work" is not a major, or even an essential, factor for the economy? New York, Chicago, Hong-Kong, they all have their "sweatshops" and masses of home-workers:
"after eight or nine hours in workshops, the employees take their piece of work home where they continue for another five or six hours...the working conditions in the sweatshops are barely imaginable, it is not rare to see thirty sewing machines crammed into a small room with no ventilation, window, nor door other than the front door."The "clandestine" dress-making workshops of Paris are well known and factories for children in Naples and Bangkok no longer surprise the bourgeois press.
(Le Monde Diplomatique, March 1982)
"The number of children and teenagers less than 15 years old who work throughout the world has increased again over the last two years. Today we calculate at least 55 million, but experts state that this figure grossly underestimates the true extent of the phenomenon."By portraying these facts as excesses of the capitalist system, or as left-overs from pre-capitalist social relations, the bourgeoisie does not only conceal their true extent, but also gives credibility to "normal", "legal" work. But whether produced in "clandestine" workshops or in recognised factories, commodities are the same, produced to valorise capital, in both places the proletarian selling his labour power in order to survive. The needs of proletarians working there are never satisfied: unemployment, for example, mainly affects workers in "official" companies but the black markets and industrial penal-colonies feed off the misery emanating from society. For us, there is no real difference between proletarian labour in New York, Haiti and the Siberian mines and we think it is vital to assert the similarity of wage-slavery all over the world (see the article on worker-aristocracy in Le Communiste No.10/11).
(Le Monde, 10-11/5/1981, from an investigation by the International Labour Bureau)
"Industrial subcontracting drains sections of workers from major metropolitan industry everywhere... In Italy, small businesses, revived by the crisis, functioning on the edge of legality and clandestinity, are often considered to be the basis of the 'second Italian miracle'. In Japan, recent investigations have shown that subcontracting is an essential key to the present success of Japanese products on the world market... Forms of working at home, subcontracting techniques and the "sweating systems", thought to have all but disappeared in the West, have taken on a new lease of life as sectors controlled by major industry. Thus, the dispersed factory (or, as the Italians call it, "diffuse industry") has to be regarded as one of the particularities of the new organisation of productive space."
(Le Monde Diplomatique, January 1982)
Some bourgeois claim that the "historical" reduction in working time is a materialization of the gains of the workers' movement, proof that capitalism and socialism can coexist and that there can be a progressive and peaceful transition from one to the other. It is always dangerous for the bourgeoisie to reverse reductions in working time that were give up under the pressure of workers' struggles without compromising the credibility of its social system (for example, the 40 hours in France in 1936, the 8 hour day in "Soviet" Russia and in Germany following the revolutionary struggles of 1917-1923). After crushing the revolutionary wave of the 1920's, in the name of the workers' well-being, the bourgeoisie was obliged to increase productivity fast, in order to increase the rate of exploitation. The resulting deep and violent changes in the organic composition of capital (increase in constant capital compared to variable capital) led to an exacerbation of competition and conflicts between the different centres of capitalist concentration. The valorisation of capital forced the appropriation and/or destruction of rival productive forces. This mutual destruction, especially of labour power and the generalisation of forced and militarised labour-camps across the planet, represent the supposed "gains" of the working class movement.
In 1848, when the English parliament voted the first laws limiting the length of the working day (the Factory Act), it was to put an end to workers' agitation that was threatening to turn into civil war. After the legislation ruling a 10 hour day (which was accompanied by a wage-cut of 25 %) the "working class, declared criminal, was struck by prohibition and put under the law of suspects" (Marx, "Capital"). In the same way, in France, reforms promulgated after February 1848 "enforced the same limit to the working day on all workshops and factories, without distinction, (...) declaring as a principle what had been gained in England in the name of women, children and miners only." (Marx, "Capital"). However, they were soon followed by the bloody crushing of the June insurrection in Paris. The bourgeois used this link between "the constant pressure of the workers' agitating from the outside" and legislative intervention, to rapidly transform working-class struggle into a fight for rights and social laws passed by the State to reform its own system for "social gains".
It was under the threat of proletarian revolt and brewing civil war that the bourgeois class disciplined and unified itself, in spite of many obstacles, at the heart of the State, defender of the general interests of the bourgeois class. Laws limiting the length of the working day supervened when the interdependence of companies had been sufficiently developed by the division of labour and it had become vital for the bourgeoisie to avoid social unrest -caused by the excesses of some capitalists who were "behind the times"- unrest which could compomise the whole of capital. In the same way it became necessary for social reproduction to adapt the workers to their continuously transforming tools and new living conditions. This is why the State passed laws limiting women's labour time and banning child labour, yet at the same time introducing obligatory schooling and a family code (the obligation of domestic work at home).
But despite the reduction in labour time, the proletarian's time is increasingly submitted to capital's needs, be it in his working time, the time taken to travel between home and workplace, the time needed to sort out all the administration imposed upon him - police, union, social security business, etc., the time taken for professional training, the time he needs to treat his work-induced ailments, the time to reproduce his labour power... all this social time belongs to capital.
Social laws only materialise the bourgeois pretention to manage a system of production based on enslavement to labour, whilst conferring it with some scientific and humanitarian legitimacy. They are no more than the formalisation of the bourgeoisie's humanist and progressist principles that "the worker sells his labour power in order to reproduce it, not to destroy it" and that "even the interests of capital demand a normal working day of him."
"Their fantastic development (that of the major branches of industry in which the 10 hour law had been applied) from 1853 to 1860, hand in hand with the physical and moral renaissance of the workers, even struck the least perceptive. The manufacturers themselves, from whom the legal limitation and laws on the working day had been torn limb by limb by half a century's civil war, made the contrast that existed between the still "free" branches of exploitation and the establishments that had submitted to the law stand out ostentatiously."At the time, Marx was already concluding that, far from being the product of a revolutionary transformation of society, "the minutely detailed edicts which ruled the period militarily and precisely, the limits and the breaks in work (...) were born from the circumstances and developed bit by bit as natural laws of the modern mode of production."
All capital needs is to render labour power more and more submissive and available in order to control its use and its cost, according to the demands of valorisation, restructuration and concentration. By trying to pass off any increase in productivity as the result of mechanical advances, without recognizing the inevitable intensification of work that it entrains for proletarians, socialist governments make a purely capitalist measure look like a "workers' victory", thus pushing the workers to consider their interests and those of the national economy to be one and the same. Sacrifices, austerity measures, discipline and work are the very principles of the "solidarity" referred to so often by the government. The same principle and reality exists behind any so-called alternatives such as unemployment or a distribution of work that would permit a reduction in working time: an absolute reduction in wages, a supplementary measure aiming to totally submit the proletariat to the bourgeois state.
The "historic" shift from the 40 to the 39 hour week in France must be seen in the context of the general tendency of all governments, whatever their political "colour", to reduce the legal working time. The official length of the working week in manufacturing industry was changed between 1970 and 1979 from 44.9 to 43.22 in Great Britain, 43.3 to 40.6 in Japan and 39.9 to 35.4 in Belgium. Between 1974 and 1980 the greatest reductions were seen in Norway and Israel, being at least 4 hours. While the working week was 40.6 hours in France in 1980, it was 39.7 in the USA, 39.1 in Australia, 37.7 in Austria, 33.4 in Belgium and 32.9 in Denmark... (Le Monde, 16.2.82).
The whole agreement on "the reduction in working time" signed by the bosses and trade unions in France was guided by the aim to make their industry more competitive, thanks to a more systematic use of fixed capital (the duration of use of equipment in the automobile industry reached 6150 hours in the USA, 4000 to 4600 hours in Japan and 3700 to 4000 hours in France) and a greater flexibility of the work timetable (in the USA as in Japan, timetables are well adapted to the needs of the market and overtime is practiced on a large scale, between 10 and 15% in Japan).
"Investments in industrial equipment decrease by 12% in 1981" said a headline in Le Monde on 9 June 1982. According to the Libération on 14 September 1981, "since 1975 all increases in wealth are the result of efficiency improvements in production". In order compensate for lack of investment, the bourgeoisie strives to maximise the profitability of its machines by having them operated day and night, by a more mobile, flexible and less expensive mass of proletarians.
With the deepening of the crisis, teamwork and shiftwork has become generalised. Shiftwork is standard for a third of the workers and half of these work on night-shifts. The steel, textile and paper industries and the mines traditionally had the greatest numbers of shift workers, up to 85%. Over the past few years, this mode of work has extended to the food industry and the service sector. The percentage of workers on shifts in processing industry more than doubled between 1957 and 1977. This increase in shift work has to be seen in relation to the record growth in productivity: the quantity of goods produced in one hour by Belgian industry almost tripled over the same period.
The French Prime minister can say what he likes, that "reforms will make the machines sweat instead of men, that they will improve the relationship between man and his work and that this will create new and more skilled jobs", but a simple run-down of the application of their measures refutes these promises:
These working conditions plan the life of workers to the rhythm and demands of capitalist valorisation. Frequently changing timetables disorganise the rhythm of life of the workers, many of whom are exhausted, with disturbed sleep and eating patterns. Experiments have shown that night work requires more physical and nervous energy to achieve the same production and that morbidity of shift workers is higher than the average. Consequently, the "socialist government's 39 hour week" is actually aiming to generalise an increase in the intensity of work and of the exploitation of proletarians. It is this that Prime Minister Mauroy called "the improvement of the relationship between man and his work" (2). For him, as for Stalin and all capitalists: "Man is the most precious capital".
There was no need to wait for Raymond Barre to congratulate the Socialist government to understand that the agreements on the "reduction in working time" were the beginning of a major attack on the working class. Just a few months after the legislation was passed the Socialist government established what was referred to as "pecuniary compensation", which turned out to be nothing but a direct attack on wages. New "solidarity taxes" were leeched from civil servants and "solidarity" contracts drawn up between unions and bosses (wage-cuts from 1,6 % at Gervais-Danone and B.S.N. to 20% at Fleury-Michon). The left-wing government made generalised wage-cuts obligatory. It was the rises in V.A.T. on manufactured goods and services, devaluation, wage freezes, decreases in unemployment benefits -all attacks on proletarians' real wages- that served to finance the aid to industry agreed upon in the "solidarity contracts" ("the companies which succeed in reducing working time to 36 hours a week by September 1983 will be free from social security subscriptions for any extra job vacancies arising from the reduction in working time").
The constant increase in unemployment (now more than 2 million under the Socialist government) refutes the "socialist solutions" to unemployment in practice. While Minister Delors admitted that "the shift from 40 to 39 hours has not created new jobs", the so-called reduction in working time, presented as the spearhead of the fight against unemployment, revealed its true aim: a systematic attack on the working class. The French Socialists' employment plans only signify attacks on the "longterm unemployed", cuts in unemployment benefit, increases in the intensity of work and general wage-cuts. The Mauroy plans are merely a repetition of those implemented by the bourgeoisie throughout the world.
In this way, the left not only brings in permanent cuts in relative wages, as every reduction in hours must be accompanied by an increase in productivity (of 10% at Gervais-Danone) and therefore of the intensity of work, but they also plan a drop in real wages (buying power). Yet Mauroy still declared that "the excessive rises in nominal revenue and wages are preventing our economy from creating jobs. The government has decided to act!" When can we expect a general drop in nominal wages?
The French government, like all governments, tries to promote the distribution of work, that is to say varying timtetables throughout the year in order to, in the words of the president of Air-France, "compensate for the rigidity of the organisation of working time, which leads to the often insufficient yearly use of more and more sophisticated equipment, thus inhibiting the development of the productivity of such equipment." The principle guiding the limitation of working time is therefore that of rationalisation, economy with the cost of labour power, whilst increasing capital's productivity and thus the intensity of work.
2. "Work kills and/or wounds 160 000 people everday throughout the world, but it creates even more mental illnesses. 1,2 million people today suffer from serious mental disturbances." (B.I.T., Report for the International Year of the Handicapped)
|In this text we have shown that capital
always tries to recuperate working class struggles, workers' demands always
expressing proletarians' permanent interest to work less. The formal reduction
in working time (the government's 35 hour week) corresponds to an important
increase in the rate of exploitation and in the rate of surplus value extracted
from the proletarians. In fact, the reduction in working time, from the
capitalist point of view (which includes all demands/promises made by governments,
unions, leftists...) always corresponds to a decrease in necessary work
so as to increase the proportion of surplus work, even if this is
occurs in a day of 7 instead of 8 hours. From this point of view, if the
working day is reduced in length, there must be an increase in its intensity,
an increase in exploitation.
The proletarian point of view is obviously completely opposed to this increase in exploitation. Workers' struggle always tries to limit exploitation as much as possible, in its intensity as well as its duration. It is always the proletarians' interest to work less, i.e. to create less surplus value and obtain wage rises. True workers' struggle, real proletarian demands, correspond to this historical perspective alone and therefore turn their backs on bourgeois demands, on pseudo-strikes for the "government's 35 hours week", on the "maintenance of buying power"... all of which amount to nothing else but the restructuration of capital (camouflaging unemployment with part-time work, for example) and increased exploitation (campaign against "dead time", increased work pace, wage cuts). As long as there has been proletariat and bourgeoisie, workers' struggle has expressed, even at the most basic level, the tendency to reduce working time and to increase wages, be it by sabotage, by theft or by striking, imposing, albeit on a temporary basis, decreased working time and/or higher wages. It goes without saying that in certain struggles, the demand for a 40 hour week really corresponds to the workers' struggle, whereas in others this same concretisation actually signifies the liquidation of the struggle. However, what is crucial is that the character of these demands is directly antagonistic to capital's logic, to the production of surplus value.
Capital aims to strip any concretisation of proletarian interests of its class content, by legalising it and turning it into a "workers' victory", implementing its capitalist content -increasing exploitation. The class difference between, for example, the 1st of May as an international day of struggle and its legalisation/transformation into a holiday for the glorification of alienated labour is the same as that between the reduction in working time seen from the perspective of the abolition of wage labour, of all work and its legalisation/transformation into capitalist restructuration. In the conflict between the reduction in working time corresponding to the interests of the proletariat and the same formula corresponding to the interests of capital, lies the whole antagonism separating the revolutionary proletariat from the bourgeoisie.
|"Capital is contradiction in actuality:
it tries to reduce working time to a minimum, whilst making it the sole
source and measure of wealth. It reduces it in its necessary form in order
to increase it in its unnecessary form, making the time of surplus labour
the condition - a question of life or death - of necessary labour time."
"But all methods for the production of surplus-value are at the same time methods of accumulation, and every extension of accumulation becomes, conversely, a means for the development of those methods. It follows therefore that in proportion as capital accumulates the situation of the worker, be his payement high or low, must grow worse.
Finally, the law which always holds the relative surplus population or industrial reserve army in equilibrium with the extent and energy of accumulation rivets the worker to capital more firmly than the wedges of Hephaestus held Prometheus to the rock. It makes an accumulation of misery a necessary condition, corresponding to the accumulation of wealth. Accumulation of wealth at one pole is, therefore, at the same time accumulation of misery, the torment of labour, slavery, ignorance, brutalization and moral degradation at the opposite pole, i.e. on the side of the class that produces its own product as capital."
The reason we are returning to the subject today is that every day current events confirm our arguments further and reveal the ocean of lies and confusion upon which Science sails.
To recap briefly, in the text we assert that AIDS had its origin in the early '70's, a direct product of the new commercial possibilities opened up by molecular biology at that time. In order to distance its scientific origin from the appearance of AIDS, all scientists, researchers,... worked furiously to separate the date of the illness's appearance from the period in which material conditions made laboratory fabrication of the retrovirus possible.
"... to distance the date of the appearance of HIV from the period in which material conditions meant that it could be produced in laboratories -as early as 1971 -, the researchers (of lies!) simply "discovered" a few cases of AIDS plump in the middle of the 50's and 60's in Africa. But it rapidly became apparent that tests supposedly demonstrating antibodies to the deadly virus in those old test tubes were invalid. In the end it was decided to diagnose it retrospectively on the basis of a vague resemblance to symptoms described in the files of the patients whose blood had been taken!!! To prove the truth of a premise, what better way than to invent it?"Since then, in order to persuade everybody that AIDS existed well before 1971, most of the "specialists" have based their justifications on tissue analysis from a man who died in 1959. Hundreds of pages have been written about this case in many scientific papers. At last Science had found proof dating the origin of AIDS to long before the birth of molecular biology! Here is what a journalist said in 1992:
"There are numerous scientists who think that AIDS first appeared in Equatorial Africa. The first proof of its presence on the African continent dated from a blood test taken in 1959 in what was then called Leopoldville (Belgian Congo) now known as Kinshasa (Zaire)."After the barrage of lies published by the press for so many years, people have placed the responsibility for AIDS far away from Science. AIDS ? - not Science's fault but Africa's!
-Extract from "Rolling Stone" in El Clarin (Argentina), 22/03/92-
And now that there is no longer any interest in the origin of AIDS, the AFP, creeping quietly on tiptoes, published these few lines:
"The case of AIDS of 1959 has been shown to be false. Analysed again, the man's tissues contain a virus dating from 1990. The first man recognized as dying of AIDS did not have that illness (...). Tissues that had enabled this diagnosis to be reached had not come from his body (...) Two hypotheses: either an accidental mix up of tissue in the laboratories, which is inconceivable (sic!), or a deliberate swapping of test tubes."
-A.F.P. in Le Nouveau Quotidien (Switzerland), 27/03/95-