The I.C.G. bases its principal positions on the historical experiences of the workers' movement:
Within the course of a year South Africa has been shaken all over by this one movement that not only affected big industrial cities but also remote bantoustans, dormitory-suburbs and most of the huge mining areas. Workers' massive revolt against sacrifices has become the main axis around which struggles develop. These struggles that the bourgeoisie can no longer control are an extension as well as an advancement of the so-called Soweto-riots (savagely put down - 6000 killed - by the State in '76). Today the bourgeois security is irremediably endangered by the violent rupture of social peace.
Confronted with proletarians' rejection of their miserable conditions of life and their revolt against poverty the South African bourgeoisie has no other choice but to repress these struggles violently while at the same time calling upon people to fight for "more freedom", "more democracy", "for the freedom of press", "of association", etc. This way the bourgeoisie manages to present the proletarian struggle as a reaction to the racist attitude of the South-African State. Such polarization assumes the shape of apartheid or anti-apartheid, that are nothing else but two expressions of one and the same reality, of one and the same bourgeois alternative.
In order to take advantage of the struggles, the bourgeoisie mobilises the proletarians on the issue of "Black Consciousness", of "Black people's liberation", of anti-apartheid,...
The cohesion with which world capitalism strives to establish a regime of anti-apartheid is only being equalled by the eagerness each imperialistic constellation display to restore order and stop proletarian struggle.
While miners get surrounded by the army, while workers' living areas get patrolled by the police, the "Black" leaders of the A.N.C., of the U.D.F.,... negotiate with bosses and government representatives in order to put an end to "all that violence". Proletarian blood is being sold by these so-called revolutionary leaders. The crisis of the State in South Africa is only a symptom of the difficulties world capitalism experiences in enrolling proletarians behind measures of austerity and always worsening conditions of survival.
South Africa occupies a strategic position at the meeting point of three oceans. Its industrial power, mainly concentrated in mines and agriculture, equals that of the rest of the African continent. It is the first producer of precious ores and a pole of the world market where capital has been concentrated to an impressive extend. All these conditions have determined the development of an extremely powerful and militarized State. The stability of world capitalism has imposed a state of apartheid in South Africa (it is not by accident that this racist State was accepted as a constitutional regime just after the war in 1948) as the only way - thanks to social peace that this way was achieved at little expense - of facing the strategic battles that continually opposed imperialist powers. Anyway, the Allied forces have never been embarrassed to help create a "racial state)" - what they all are - and other concentration camps after having "freed the world from barbarity" (sic).
If capital backs apartheid or fascist regimes, it is mainly because such regimes allow for a more important valorization (cheaper workforce): this is its major care. At the same time capital never stops trying to show its purity by defending the "world community of democratic interests" (an ideology aimed at cementing the whole of society in order to prevent a real understanding of our class interests). In fact, in South Africa capital's interests are double: on the one hand capital requires an unceasing increase in surplus value and on the other hand it must imperatively move towards a State of anti-apartheid to try to restore law and order amongst proletarians. This brings about dissensions between the various bourgeois fractions in the world.
Counter-revolution takes the shape of polarization not only as a cover for the struggles between fractional interests that shake world capitalism but also and in the first place as a means to stop the more and more threatening waves of proletarian struggles. This polarization is based on always the same obstacles continually faced by proletarians: racism, forced immigration, police control, discriminations, persecutions,... When fighting against pass-control, against deportations to the home-lands, against confinement in town-ships, real concentration camps, or when squatting living places that are forbidden for black people, the proletariat fights against the social misery of this rotten society. Today's struggles are not engendered by the need for "Black liberation" nor by racial antagonism but by the need for liberation from the links that enchain proletarians to the mercy of capital's needs.
The fact that these struggles get a strong echo amongst clandestine immigrants, unemployed and even amongst young whites, illustrates the force of the movement which, instead of being limited to factories, has touched all categories of proletarians and all places of capital reproduction, expressing the general willingness of the proletariat movement to refuse all separations and to keep united in spite of the anti-apartheid movement that tries to hide this reality and to break it down. By claiming the "law of the majority", universal suffrage, the anti-apartheid leaders invite proletarians to give up social struggle and to join them in the "paradise" of democratic rights (for more details on this subject see "Against the myth of democratic rights and liberties", Communism n?1). With their universal suffrage they try to impose black nationalism claiming for a government by African! They use all the power of their organizations, supported by different world capitalist fractions, to try to restrain revolutionary agitation (that attacks all defenders of order, black and white) and to lock it up in the prisons of African nationalism!
The A.N.C. and U.D.F. militants, the union leaders, the Nobel prize of social peace,... they all display their terrorist arsenal against "refractory" proletarians and other "provokers" who threaten the peaceful development of the negotiations for conciliation, for "opening" towards the government and the bosses representatives.
Trade-unions may state their regrets about the outcome of the miners' strike at the end of last August at a time when they actively prepared together with the government the army's demonstration of intimidation against strikers as the only "glorious" outcome possible to make proletarians accept the successive refusals of their claims -amongst which some concerned a rise in wages judged "unrealistic" by the unions as well as the re-engagement of proletarians sacked because of their sabotage actions anti-scab violence-. The anti-white radicalism of certain A.N.C. branches such like the P.A.C., as well as the democretinism of trade-unions and pacifists, is just another way of sabotaging the rising class-movement by trying to link proletarians to a patriotic army, organ of promotion for imperialistic war and massacres (bourgeois attempt to get rid of class contradictions). The pious calls for justice and for "black people's right" (approved by all right-thinking humanitarians) express the pacifist ideology, the violence and the "whites" terror with which the South African bourgeoisie represses the revolutionary vanguard minorities and tries to counter the extension and the organization of different struggle practices that constitute the only alternative for the proletariat.
Apartheid and anti-apartheid both reinforce the South African bourgeoisie; they bring about divisions, isolation and weakening amongst the worlds proletariat.
In order to be able to grant to the South African state the help of international capitalism, the bourgeoisie with its press, its lawyers, its churches of all religions, its many friends of man and earth, accomplishes its dirty job of turning proletarians away from the struggles of their class brothers: this is the only way for the bourgeoisie to stop the revolutionary blaze that is threatening them.
The corollary of this polarization is the organization and social function not only of anti-apartheid campaigns but also of pacifism itself with such masquerades as the "Band Aid" that only serve the purpose of concealing our real class interests so as to strengthen social peace. The anti-apartheid campaigns make the proletariat all over the world believe that those "poor blacks" just have to fight against one "type of regime" and not against world capital.
By presenting these social struggles as specific to Africans, the world state manages to prevent all real class solidarity from coming up and all proletarian internationalism to develop. The proletariat, struggling for its own interests and against austerity, rejects all national solidarity and all cross-class unity. In South Africa, through their hard and violent struggles proletarians try to break the nationalist frontiers. Even though their movement is still marked by weakness mainly due to their isolation, they sabotage the national economy and attack law and order for the sake of their own class interests. To the boycott of elections by anti-apartheid reformists, proletarians have answered by sabotaging the electoral truce and by direct action against the state. With its strikes and never ending riots the proletariat hasn't tried to "overthrow a government" but has shaken the social domination of capital and has denied all bourgeois fractions the capacity of ruling. To the violent police interventions and to the pacific "framing" of the movement by unions and churches, the proletariat has answered with the vital necessity of revolutionary violence to protect the workers' demonstrations from repression, to counter the action of scabs and informers and to prevent mass lock-out and dismissals (1700 miners are threatened with sacking for having been on strike; others have been dismissed for sabotage actions).
Our comrades' struggle in South Africa aims at destroying the frontiers, ideologies, racism,... that are continually used by the state in order to separate us. Their struggles show our common class interests as opposed to sacrifices and austerity. It is our duty to develop here the only real solidarity with this struggle: the merciless fight against austerity, against misery and against social peace. In other words, let's fight here and everywhere for the same interests as those for which our comrades in South Africa attack the world capitalist state!
in spite of and against everybody
The palm of these hypocritically recuperative policies nevertheless comes to all regimes (two thirds of this rotten humanity) who call themselves "Marxists", "Marxist-Leninists", "Socialists" indeed "Communists" all who with the centenary of the death of Marx (1883) stage one more morbid spectacle for the glory of capitalism, for the glory of what Marx fought against all his life.
In the same way that capital defines itself by the ruthless dictatorship of dead, objectified labour on living labour, by the vampire-like process that can only survive by sucking human life for the sake of value valorizing itself, the capitalist social relationship also expresses itself at a superstructural level by the infamous dictatorship of mummified walking corpses, inoffensive icons presented to the eyes of the masses in order to cynically exorcize their non-life, to stuck them still a little bit more to the rock of capitalist exploitation.
The more capitalism sinks (and the more it develops itself) in its mortal contradictions, the more it represents itself in caricature, affirming its "working", "communist" image,... which is in fact only the transformation in mits contrary of communism, the movement of which tears out the entrails of capital more and more, menacing capitalist society always more mortally. If at the beginning of its reign, the simple word of "communism" made capital tremble with fear, in the course of its development capital has exorcized that fear by representing itself as being not only the incarnated happiness, the freedom in act,... but also the "finally human society", "realised communism".
The supreme myth of capital is its pretension to have achieved communism through its fictitious community: democracy. This myth is subtended by the fact that it's capital itself that has integrally socialized the production (and consequently the reproduction of immediate living) and therefore has realised the programme of bourgeois socialism, in any kind of form, fascist, stalinist or parliamentary (1).
It is this always more developed, more contradictory world-wide capitalist system that generates communism each time as a more ineluctable, historical necessity, as an already accomplished fact. The movement of capital would like to achieve communism (just like the exchange-value "would like" to autonomise itself totally from the use-value) without destroying itself: that is its utopia. Only the proletariat organised as a class, hence as a party, is able to impose communism to humanity by destroying capital totally, and by negating itself as an exploited class: such is the realised utopia, and such is the programme of revolutionary communism.
Only the proletariat constituted as an autonomous class, thus organised and directed through its party is able to kick out putrefied capitalism which corrupts more and more all that is human in man and is able to achieve the human global community (negation of the negation). Consequently, the utopia of capital is to exist without any contradictions, thus only existing as a positive pole, without the party of its destruction, without the proletarian party (2). It's in the name of this utopia that capital goes to the extend of privatively appropriating the corpse of Marx, which for a long time already is being nibbled by the worms of social reformism. In the cabaret of capital, the mummified Marx finds himself on the same alter as Jesus Christ or Gandhi.
As in China where on innumerable posters Marx has been depicted slant-eyed, the universal bourgeoisie only represents Marx as just another tentative to reform the world, this is to say that he is made at the same time more inhuman and more acceptable in the eyes of the exploited. Against this Marx, posthumous super-start well placed in the hit-parade of ideologies, we oppose the militant Marx, Marx as the genious and modest incarnation of the revolutionary programme existing impersonally as much before as after his death.
"Communism is a social material force which subjugates our intelligence, captivates our feelings and achieves the union of our conscience and our reason. It's a chain from which nobody can free us without breaking our hearts. It's a demon from which man can only triumph by submitting himself to it." (Marx)
All the devotees of the capitalist cause will always present the "individual" Marx as a "thinker" more or less intelligent, as a "philosopher", a "sociologist",... and put him in one or another of these narrow-minded categories of these so-called sciences. For us, Marx is first of all a militant worker, an eager combatant defending the cause of the liberation of humanity. Even if at the beginning of his action, Marx passed through democratic liberalism (period of the "Rheinische Zeitung" 1842-43) and through the groups of the hegelian left (B.Bauer and consorts), he broke very soon with all these currents of the radical bourgeoisie to fully adhere to the cause of communism, to the cause of the complete destruction of the "civil society", of bourgeois society. It's through the fundamental texts such as "The Jewish question" and "The Manuscripts of 1844" that Marx breaks definitely with the bourgeois point of view of democracy and takes up the fully proletarian point of view of communism (3).
"Indeed the perfect Christian state is not the so-called Christian state which recognizes Christianity as its foundation, as the state religion, and which therefore excludes other religions. The perfect state is rather the atheist state, the democratic state, the state which relegates religion to the level of the other elements of civil society..." "Political democracy is Christian in as much as it regards man - not just one man but all men - as a sovereign and supreme being; but maan in his uncultivated, unsocial aspect, man in his contingent existence, man just as he is, man as he has been corrupted, lost to himself, sold, and exposed to the rule of inhuman conditions and elements by the enthe organization of our society - in a word, man who is not yet a true species-being. The sovereignty of man - but of a man as an alien being distinct from actual man - is the fantasy, the dream, the postulate of Christianity, whereas in democracy it is a present an material reality, a secular maxim." "Hence man was not freed from religion - he received the freedom of religion. He was not freed from property - he received the freedom of property. He was not freed from egoism of trade - he received the freedom to engage in trade." (Marx - "The Jewish question")
It's in this text that Marx authoritatively threw, polemizing against Bauer, the programmatic bases of the fight to death against the bourgeois state, thus against democracy, a position which he and Engels maintained during their whole life-times: "Our final objective is the suppression of all states, and consequently of democracy." (Engels - 1894)
And in a concomitant way to those anti-state and anti-democratic aphorisms, Marx defined the solution of human alienation (extraenization) (4), the solution of all contradictions which shake the world in which we are living: communism.
"...it is the genuine resolution of the conflict between man and nature and between man and man, the true resolution of the strife between existence and essence, between objectification and self-confirmation, between freedom and necessity, between the individual and the species. Communism is the riddle of history solved, and it knows itself to be this solution." (Marx - "Manuscripts of 1844")
From the very moment of this adhesion to the communist point of view, the masterwork of Marx will always affirm itself as a totality, as a critical whole where, if it develops such or such a question, at such or such a level of abstraction, it remains always from the point of view of the totality (for which Marx drew up multiple plans, but as we know he only managed to produce one tiny part of what he'd intended). The point of view and the method are the central axis that Marx maintained throughout his whole existence. The whole power of his masterwork resides in this totality, in the invariance of his critical method of investigation (5) always put at the service of the denunciation of the transitory character of capitalism and consequently of the ineluctable advent of communism.
So it's not by mere "chance" that all stalinists, democrats or other shitheads have always tried to scientifically destroy the totality of the masterwork of Marx, and tried to find contradictions where there were only different levels of abstraction merely opposing certain passages extracted from their context with the totality of Marx's militant activity. Such is amongst others, the "famous" and false "contradiction" between the theory of value especially developed in the first volume of "Capital" and the theory of "prices of production" in "Capital" - Vol 3 (which all things considered was published by Engels/Kautsky). Even more famous is the polemic on the pseudo "epistomologic cut" between the young hegelian utopian Marx and the mature, serious, scientific and non-revolutionary Marx (!), the putrid theory which gave such notoriety to the neo-stalinist Althusser and all his staff of marxologues who were paid especially to cut Marx up like a vulgar sausage, and to get rid of all the subversive contents of his masterwork, leaving only the "scientific and objective" and consequently bourgeois analyses (cf. the Poulantzas, Mandel, Harnecker, Ellenstein,...)(6).
The masterwork of Marx can only be understood as an attack, a criticism of the whole bourgeois society, or as Marx stated it himself about the publication of "Capital": "The most terrible missile ever to be launched in the face of the bourgeoisie" (Marx to J.P.H. Becker - 1867). And when Marx taken so fully the side of communism it's also by socially defining the people who are the only ones able to achieve it: the modern proletarians.
Thus it's not by conceiving communism as an ideal to aim at, but by conceiving it as the movement of dissolution of the established order, movement that is proceeding in front of our eyes; as well as by determining the people who are forced to impose it, that Marx accomplishes the rupture with the utopian socialists (Fourier, Owen), inventors of systems who could not see communism as a real movement, as a social, acting force proceeding in reality. It is not in philosophy, neither in science and even less in economy that Marx looks for the essential definition of the people historically determined to impose communism by the violence of their class; Marx defines the proletariat by its historical function; he defines the proletariat as the gravedigger of the old world, as the class which has nothing to lose and everything to gain or win. In opposition to the delirium of "workerists" Marx defines the revolutionary class as the one which, in reality is the dissolution of established order, the one which by its increasing force in confrontation against the bourgeois state, always re-affirms more clearly its subversive and revolutionary character.
"...a class with radical chains, a class of civil society which is not a class of civil society, a class which is the dissolution of all classes, a sphere which has a universal character because of its universal suffering and which lays claim to no particular right because the wrong it suffers is not a particular wrong but wrong in general, a sphere of society which can no longer lay claim to a historical title but merely to a human one, which does not stand in one-sided opposition to the premise of the state, and finally a sphere which cannot emancipate itself without emancipating itself from - and thereby emancipating - all the other spheres of society, which is, in a word, a total loss of humanity and can therefore redeem itself only through the total redemption of humanity. This dissolution of society as a particular class is the proletariat." (Marx - Critique of Hegel's philosophy of right)
The adhesion of Marx to communism is consequently in no way an adhesion to a new school of thought, philosophy, religion or sect. When he is adopting the communist point of view, and this until his death, it's by understanding in which way communism is an already existing movement carried by the revolutionary proletariat (episode of the Silesian workers' revolt), a movement that he'll always strife to direct, to organise, to make stronger as much organizationally as programmatically.
In that sense the masterwork of Marx is before anything a work of the party, work of the impersonal collectivity that will impose communism. Once he's clearly situated in the proletarian camp, Marx will work to always make his basic thesis more precise, solid and operational and that, by pitilessly criticizing all the elements which were impeding the understanding of the world from the communist point of view, and firstly, the many ideologies that the bourgeoisie forged for itself to justify its class domination, ideologies that call themselves philosophy, religion, history, economy,... So Marx didn't become a communist because he would have studied "scientifically and objectively" the different aspects of human knowledge, but quite to the contrary, it's because he was already a communist that he succeeded in totally demolishing all different bourgeois sciences, and that he managed, by demonstrating their narrow-minded and transitory character, to anticipate the coming of a world without any classes, any state, any money,...
"Each method is necessarily linked to the being of its corresponding class." (Lukacs)
"The coincidence of the change of circumstances and of human activity or of self-transformation can only be rationally understood as a revolutionary practice."
In the same way, the life and work of Marx can only be understood as a revolutionary practice. And this understanding can only be the work of groups, individuals,... placing themselves on the same path as Marx: the path of communism, the path of the communist party.
It is during this same period, after having constituted together with some comrades a "committee of communist correspondence" (1846), that Marx and Engels are joining the "Communist League". This adhesion is also a fight against all the archaic forms of communism (Weitling) and against the influences of the bourgeois-socialists. Marx very soon will assume a role of direction of the League and he'll be in charge of completely reorganising it. He'll draw up its statutes, as well as a new platform. The first article of these new statutes affirms clearly the aim of communists: "the aim of the League is the overthrow of the bourgeoisie, the domination of the proletariat, the abolition of old bourgeois society based on class antagonisms and the instauration of a new society without classes and without private property."
The second article specifies the militant requirements:
"Joining conditions are as follows:
- a kind of life and activity according to that aim;
- revolutionary vigour and ardour for propaganda;
- to make profession of communism."
Within the League and later on within the International Workingmen's Association, Marx work will be to transform this "contingent and limited organization" into a real world-wide organization; this implied a break with the utopian conceptions that still existed to a large extend within the workers' movement. In order to carry out these tasks and after a first project by Engels (see the profession of faith in communism drawn up by Engels and that still bore to a large extend the mark of old utopian formulas) Marx accepts to draw up a new platform for the League, giving it immediately historical contents. The importance of this text is such that it will not be called the "Manifesto of the League" but will be given the much more fundamental title of "The Manifesto of the Communist Party" (drawn up in 1847 and published in 1848).
Indeed, as we already stated in another article (7), the Manifesto and other texts by Marx-Engels are directly texts of the party, essential expressions of the communist programme.
This programme of the revolutionary class cannot be reduced to one text or another, still less to the platform of some formal organization. On the contrary, the communist programme affirms itself as a "PRAXIS", as a movement of confrontation with the bourgeois state, and some texts of it express more synthetically in a more global way the communist aim and movement. The programme is an invariant enthety that cannot be identified with one of its written or theoretical expressions. It is a totality that cannot be dissociated and that can only be understood as such. In this sense, the Manifesto of the Communist Party is a brilliant example, because it affirms itself beyond all temporal and geographical contingencies; it is directly in its enthety, one of the clearest synthesis of the invariant programme of the workers' movement. Nobody, except idiots, would dare to limit the expressions of the revolutionary programme to the Manifesto of 1847 only. Once more here we can oppose the "praxis" of Marx to all his would-be followers for whom the communist movement and its organization into party could not possibly exist without a text called "programme" or "platform". Of the three fundamental texts: "The Manifesto", "Capital" and "Grundrisse", there is none which could be a better or more complete expression of the communist programme. Each of these texts, like all other communist texts passed and still to come, express a certain level of abstraction, a certain level of understanding of the programmatic enthety and are more or less developed expressions of the invariant programme. These texts that are impersonal achievements of the party, have indeed different functions: "The Manifesto" is more a summary of the fundamental positions of communists in front of the bourgeoisie, while "Capital" is since the implacable demonstration of the catastrophic end of the capitalist mode of production and therefore of the inevitable coining of communism, but both of them are essential expressions of a same and single programme: communism.
The whole history of the communist movement shows us that some texts, some individuals, or some actions,... that are often considered by "Marxists" and other academics of less importance, or even as being insignificant, in fact express superior levels of synthesis and conception; and often the production of texts supposedly expressing the summary, a definite codification of communism, represented in fact a set-back of the workers' movement and the crystallization of counterrevolutionary positions. It was Kautsky (and his followers Plekhanov,...) who was considered as an "orthodox Marxist", as the only depository of "Marxist truth" while all the authentic revolutionary expressions were distorted and rejected as "radicalism", "anarchism",... (e.g. Domela Nieuwenhuis who denounces in his book "Socialism in danger" the Second International). More clear still is the complete black-out on the experiences and the history of left communists, as well German, Italian as Belgian, Mexican or Hindu or still the lies and filth poured on communist militants, on such revolutionaries as Blanqui, Gorter, Miasnikov, Vercesi or Korsch. Who would dare to pretend that the Third Communist International didn't exist before 1928!? But it was only on the VIth world congress on September 1sr, 1928 that the C.I. finally adopted its programme, written by Boukharine; by that rime the C.I. had become nothing else but the formalization of the whole process of degeneration, the crystallization of the counter-revolutionary positions that had affirmed themselves always more clearly after each congress. Our care here is not to disparage the efforts to produce, at certain moments, documents that would state "the fundamental positions of communists" or that would outline the general political orientations, quite to the contrary, we want to denounce the very widespread myth according to which a communist organization wouldn't exist, wouldn't have a coherence and wouldn't be in the historical line of the party if it hadn't a sacred text called "platform" or "programme", pretending at the same time to compare, voluntary or not, these organizational positions to the historical programme of the proletariat. We, communists, don't refer exclusively to this or that sacred or pretended so, text, be it the Manifesto, the Rome thesis or another platform of any formal group, in front of which the revolutionary proletariat would have to fall on its knees. We refer to an organic totality where each expression of the communist movement finds its place insofar that it manages to represent the best it can the historical arch from the natural community to full communism and this, independently of all immediatist, contingent or limited vision. It's because they really are texts of the party, that the works of Marx, with the Manifesto, are always more a guide for our action. But already Engels warned the readers against the insufficiencies of the Manifesto and it is well known that Marx, after the experience of the Paris' Commune indicated the necessity to change the formula "to conquer the democratic state" by the need of destroying it from top to bottom.
"One thing especially was proved by the Commune, that the working class cannot simply lay hold of the ready-made state machinery and wield it for its own purpose. Also if the remarks on the relation of the communists to the various opposition parties although in principle are still correct, yet in practice are antiquated, because the political situation has been enthely changed and the progress of history has swept from off the earth the greater portion of the political parties there enumerated. But the Manifesto still is a historical document which we have no longer any right to alter." (Engels - Preface to the English edition of the Manifesto - 1888)
So for the first time, with the Manifesto, the fundamental positions of communists were explained in a very explicit and synthetic way. Marx and Engels, during their whole life-times not only developed, improved and clarified the main positions enunciated in this text, but at every moment, they'll try to direct the forces that are historically determined to realise the communist revolution. As the Manifesto stated:
"It is high time that the communists explain to the whole world their conceptions, their aims, their tendencies and that they oppose against the legends of the communist spectre a Manifesto of the party itself."
Each time that a revolutionary period arrived, Marx tried to organise, to direct the movement, as well during the movements of 1848 (see "the class-struggles in France") when several times Marx risked his own skin, as later on during the foundation (1864) of the International Workingmen's Association, better known as the First International that took up as its main countersign the famous phrase of the Manifesto: "Workingmen of all countries, unite!" and which was rightly considered as the instigator, as the real political direction of the Paris Commune - 1871 (while the formal direction - the Central Committee of the Commune oscillated between the workers' interests and capitulation in front of the enemy). On the other hand, Marx took advantage of each period of withdrawal, of each period when counter-revolution completely dominated (e.g. from 1850 to 1864) to go deeply into the programmatical basis of the movement even if this meant being at counter-current of the still existing formal organizations. It is this position, at counter-current, that Engels vehemently expresses in a letter to Marx:
"How could we possibly be "a party" while we run away from all official nominations? Do we care about a party while we spit on popularity, while we doubt of ourselves as soon as we begin to become popular? Do we care about "a party" i.e. a flock of donkeys who believe in us because they think we belong to their species? It won't be a loss, indeed, when they will cease to consider us as the 'true expression' of that bunch of narrow-minds to which we have been associated for the last couple of years." (Engels)
What a sane vigour of class interest this excerpt expresses, it's a slash in the face of all those pseudo-partyists, guardians above all of the fetishism of formal organizations! What a clear affirmation of the necessary work of the party, obscure and unpopular work, mostly heaped with calumnies and abuse by all these gentlemen preoccupied above all with their own future! The fundamental understanding of the tasks communists have to assume permanently is clearly included in Marx' practice: at one and the same time the tasks of affirmation and deepening of the revolutionary programme and also, when the material conditions allow for it, the tasks of organization, of direction of the movements taking place in front of our eyes. That's why, when the movement was beaten and counter-revolution reigned, Marx, each time, without ever abandoning the work of the party, was the prime mover of the dissolution of the formal organization (the league, the I.W.A.) before these would pass to the counter-revolution. But each time a wave of revolution flared up, Marx tried to give a direction to this movement, to organise it in the perspective of its international unification, in the perspective of communism. That's why, independently of his adhesion to this or that group, Marx has always worked in the historical line of the party, was always a militant of the communist party.
"Above all, Marx was a revolutionary." (Engels - March 17th, 1883 - oration on Marx's tomb.)
"The path of consciousness in the historical process does not become smoother quite to the contrary, it becomes more and more arduous and requires an always bigger responsibility. The function of orthodox Marxism - beyond revisionism and utopism - is not the liquidation, once and for all, of all false tendencies; it is the incessant struggle always renewed against the perverted influences of the forms of bourgeois thought on the thought of the proletariat. This orthodoxy is not the guardian of traditions but the messenger always on alert of the relation between the present instant and its tasks in keeping with the totality of the historic process." (Lukacs - "What is orthodox Marxism" - 1919. Our ttranslation)
This fundamental question of real invariance can he exemplified through all of the communist positions. The Manifesto of the communist party declares: "the communists are further reproached with desiring to abolish countries and nationality. The workingmen have no country. We cannot take from them what they have not got." Such is the affirmation of the real invariance of the workers' movement: never, the revolutionary proletariat has a home-country, a nationality. Its internationalist character is directly contained in its very essence itself. The proletariat constitutes itself as a class, that is to say, as an historical and world-wide totality - organic centralism, centralization in time and space.
And when workers fight for their country, for a nationality, it means essentially that the proletariat does not exist as a class anymore (e.g. situations of imperialist war during their first stage), it means that if atomized proletarians do have a country, it can only be as citizens, as members of bourgeois society, and not as grave-diggers of the old world. The point of view of communism is invariant: either the proletariat, by its tendential constitution as a class, and therefore as a party, realizes its universal and internationalist essence - the workingmen have no country -; or the proletariat is beaten by counterr-revolution and cannot exist as a class anymore; what will be left are atomized individuals totally submitted to the bourgeois ideology of the nation, the country (8). To this, all "orthodox", all "invariants",... will, while formally maintaining the aphorism: "the workingmen have no country", will deny this immediately after by introducing a multitude of restrictions: "the period", "the particular case", "the specific conditions", that invalidate the communist affirmation. Nevertheless they'll all pretend to have respected word for word a text that this way has become sacred and sanctified.
This process of "aspiration" of the subversive contents so as to retain only the revolutionary phrase, finds a material base in the texts and confusions of Marx himself. That's why, after stating that the proletariat does not have a home-country, all his would-be disciples will largely dissert about the following sentence: "Since the proletariat must first of all acquire political supremacy, must rise to be the leading class of the nation, must constitute itself the nation, it is, so far, itself national, though not in the bourgeois sense of the word." Obviously this sentence is in contradiction with the programmatic affirmation preceding it, likewise it reflects the confused comprehension of the "conquest of political power" (acquire political supremacy) that later on was to be replaced by Marx himself with the vision of the necessary destruction of the bourgeois state. Therefore two wrong attitudes will be developed on the base of this contradiction of Marx: on the one hand the modernist, innovative attitude of rejection of all programmatical expressions on pretext that some formulations are confused (or totally wrong) and are still marked by the visions of the enemy; on the other hand, the approval of all the sentences signifying the adding up of contradictory positions, which comes down to adopting the counter-revolutionary position. After having thrown out nationalism through the door, they let it in again through the window! This is how even the Manifesto has been used and probably still will be used to justify capitalist war and the worst nationalist and patriotic delirium.
However, the whole history of our class (1789, 1848, 1871, 1905, 1917, 1927, 1936,... 1983,...) proves each time more clearly, since its beginning until today, the validity of the only internationalist, anti-nationalistic and anti-patriotic principled position.
"It follows from this disastrous experience that when the proletariat starts defending "its country", "the oppressed nation", it obtains only one goal, i.e. the reinforcement of its own bourgeoisie (...) The proletariat develops its movement, makes its revolution as a class. Not as a nation." ("L'ouvrier communiste" No 2/3 October 1929.)
Once again, this historical position of communists had already been clearly affirmed by Marx (even though once again our "orthodox", "invariants",... will use still other sentences or texts by Marx that occasionally affirm the contrary):
"The nationality of the worker is not French, nor English neither German, it is work, free slavery, the bargaining of oneself. His government is not French, nor English neither German, it is capital. His native atmosphere is not French, nor English neither German. It is the atmosphere of the factory. The soil that belongs to him is not French soil, nor English and neither German, it is some feet under the earth." (Marx - Critique of national economy - 1845. Our translation)
Marx' work (and that's why we're interested in it) is a fantastic synthesis of the positions that, historically, differentiate the proletariat from the bourgeoisie. This synthesis, on most questions, remains unequalled, Marx having once and for all outlined the main positions of the communist programme. We've seen how the international and internationalist character of the proletariat clearly affirmed itself which constitutes the very base for the comprehension of the revolution to be a world-wide process. In the same way we can take each one of the fundamental questions of the revolutionary programme, each question that still today constitutes the frontier between the interests of the proletariat and those of the bourgeoisie, and we can see how Marx has magnificently defined the "line and march, the conditions and the ultimate general results of the proletarian movement" (the Manifesto).
On the central question of the state. Marx, as his friend Engels, has defined in the most clear way, the imperious necessity of the destruction from top to bottom of the bourgeois state, and the rejection of the deadly illusion of conquering or occupying it (cf. "The State and Revolution" by Lenin). Once this destruction of the bourgeois state accomplished, there will be period of transition when the proletariat organised as the ruling class imposes its class-dictatorship for the abolition of wage labour.
"Between capitalist and communist society stands a period of revolutionary transformation of the first one into the second. To this corresponds a period of political transition when the state can be nothing else but the revolutionary dictatorship of the proletariat". (Marx - "Critique of the Gotha-programme" - 1875. Our translation)
It is on the contrary the Lassallean tradition (also partially used by Kautsky and social-democracy) that insists, while being wrongly assimilated to Marx's position, insists on the eternal necessity of the state, on its conquest, on the divine reign of democracy and therefore of the bourgeoisie:
"Besides, the whole programme is through and through infected by the servile belief of the lassallean sect in the state, or, which isn't any better, by the belief in the democratic miracle; or indeed, it is a compromise between these two kinds of faith or miracle, equally remote from socialism". (Marx - "Critique of the Gotha-programme" - 1875. Our translation)
So the polemic separating "Marxists" from "anarchists" within the I.W.A. is not to know whether or not we must destroy the state (at this period both currents agreed about the destructive tasks of the revolution) but it is to know if, once the bourgeois state having been destroyed, if a society without classes and without state could immediately and automatically emerge. The essential difference between the Bakuninist current (9) and Marx's positions is not the fight to death against the state, nor even the question of organization (reformists have always reproached Lenin with taking up Bakunin's position on the party: dictatorship of the party of anarchy!) but the essential comprehension of the period of transition, of this phase when the proletariat, organised as a ruling class which means as a state, imposes by the force of arms the destruction of value, the destruction of classes which means also its own negation as "state". This is why Marx always said about the workers' state that it was a semi-state, a state in process of extinction.
"It would be advisable to abandon all this gossip about the state, particularly after the Commune which wasn't really a state in the true sense of the word. Anarchists already talked enough about their popular state, though Marx' pamphlet against Proudhon and then also the Manifesto clearly state that with the instauration of a socialist social regime, the state dissolves itself and disappears. The state being only a temporary institution that we are forced to use in our struggle, in the revolution to repress by force its enemies, it is therefore perfectly absurd to talk about a free and popular state: as long as the proletariat still needs the state, it is not for the sake of freedom but to repress its enemies. And when it becomes possible to talk about freedom, the state ceases to exist as such. So we propose to replace everywhere the word "state" by the excellent old German word "Gemeinwesen" corresponding to the French word "commune"." (Engels - Letter to Bebel - 1875. Our translation))
So Marx's position is clearly against the state.
"The abolition of the state makes sense to communists only as the necessary result of the suppression of classes the disappearance of which automatically implies the disappearance of the need for an organized power by one class for the oppression of another class." (Marx - La Nouvelle Gazette Rhenane - 1850. Our translation)
The very affirmation of the dictatorship of the proletariat as "transition towards the abolition of all classes" (cf. letter to Weydemeyer - 1852) implies the understanding of the necessity of revolutionary terrorism:
"The massacres without any results since the days of June and October, the dull feast of expiation since February and March, the cannibalism of counter-revolution itself will convince the people that in order to shorten, to simplify and to concentrate the murderous death agony of the old society, there is only one way: revolutionary terrorism". (Marx - La Nouvelle Gazette Rhenane - 1850. Our translation)
And it was in this same perspective that Marx strongly criticized the Commune for not having taken the initiative in the struggle, for not having carried out terrorist acts aimed at saving workers' lives even if this entailed the killing of some generals and priests.
"Still the shooting of prisoners was suspended for a time. Hardly however, had Thiers and his decembrist generals become aware that the communal decree of reprisals was only an empty threat, that even their spies caught in Paris under the disguise of National Guards, that even the sergents de ville, taken with incendiary strolls upon them, were spared, then the wholesale shooting of prisoners was resumed and carried on uninterruptedly to the end." (Marx - The civil war in France - 1871)
And if Marx' positions on this question is relatively well known, their connection with the destruction of all alienation/extraenisation (4) is often hidden. Indeed, the bourgeoisie, except for its pacifist sheep, in its fright recognizes itself that Marx' positions involve a violent revolution (didn't it call Marx the "red terror doctor"!), involve a terrorist and then anti-democratic proletarian dictatorship, understood as being the force destroying the extraenisation of men, the force destroying wage-slavery and therefore labour. Even the bourgeois "Marxist" currents - Stalinists, Trotskyists - maintain this violent and dictatorial aspect. What fundamentally differentiates them from Marx' positions is not their anti-violence or their anti-terrorism, but the fact that this violence, this terror is directed against the revolutionary proletariat and not against the counter-revolutionary bourgeoisie. In front of these pseudo-Marxist rabbles, we do not discuss about the opportunity of the use of violence; against them, because they defend wage-slavery, we turn our arms. The problem is not to know whether one should use terror, but to know against who to direct our class violence so as to impose our class dictatorship. What decides of the class nature of violence is the ultimate goal terror is serving, are the historical class interests terror is defending. Any other debate immediately falls back into metaphysics, into philosophy,... putting the question of "violence", "terror", "the state" in itself, exterior to class struggle, a method Engels already demolished a long time ago in his Anti-During.
The really important thing for us is to replace back into the centre of the whole Marxist comprehension the essential question of the workers' struggle for the abolition of wage-labour and consequently of all labour. It is to impose its revolutionary claim "the abolition of wage-labour" (Marx) that the proletariat fights and will be victorious. It is Marx more than anyone else who has put forward this essential question of the abolition of wage- labour, who's defended the first our central watchword: "Death to work, long live communism!".
"We must not only attack private property as a "state of things" but attack it as activity, as labour if we really want to strike it a deadly blow. One of the most important mistakes is to talk about social, human, free labour, to talk about labour without private property. Labour - by essence - is not free, non-human, anti-social activity conditioned by private property and creating it in its turn. The abolition of private property will only become reality if it is conceived as the abolition of labour." (Marx - Critique of the National Economy - 1845. Our translation)
The proletarian struggle against capital can only be conceived as a struggle against wage-labour (the form labour is taking under capitalism, which means alienated, non-human activity) implying the abolition of all labour.
"In his labour the worker does not affirm himself, he denies himself; he does not feel at ease, he feels unhappy; he does not spread out a free physical and intellectual activity, but he mortifies his body and ruins his spirit. The problem is not to set labour free, but to suppress it!" (Marx - The German Ideology - 1845. Our translation)
Still many other questions could be subject of a reaffirmation of the fundamental positions of Marx, settling radically with what is being said of his positions (what is being said by the class enemy), with what is generally being designated by the term "Marxism". We insisted many times already on the fact that the whole vocabulary expressing the communist project, the revolutionary programme, has been completely plundered, opposing it now to its original meaning, to the meaning it had clearly at the origins of the workers' movement. If in Marx' time the quality of communist referred immediately to an irreducible opposition to the bourgeois state, today, for most proletarians the same word refers to the sad reality of wage-slavery in Eastern countries, in China or in Cuba or still the sinister grimaces of Marchais the clown.
In front of these deformations there can be no question of capitulating, of leaving these expressions full of history to the enemy by reinventing all these concepts, by reinventing a new "proletarian" language (that the bourgeoisie would soon recuperate also). To the contrary, it's important to give back to these words their original meaning, to recall to the collective memory of our class the fundamental experiences that gave real life to these expressions; it is essential to make the bourgeoisie tremble again just by the mere evocation of the "spectre of communism". The same goes for the term "Marxist" generalized by Engels after Marx' death, favouring this way the stupid cult of the "brilliant personality" to the detriment of the appropriation of the programme. Insofar as the term "Marxist" has the same meaning as the word "communist", we totally claim ourselves of this Marxism, of revolutionary communism, knowing that we must always insist more and more on the anonymous and impersonal character of our programme.
"The revolution will reveal itself terrible but anonymous." (Fantomes a la caryle - Il Programma Communista - 1953.)
This way Marx' sentence finds its fully Marxist comprehension: "The only thing I know is that me, I'm not Marxist!" (Marx) It is only from within the communist movement that we can understand why Marx was not Marxist. Here no more than anywhere else, the question is not to "go beyond" or to reject Marxists; what matters is to reaffirm the invariance of the subversion, the invariance of communism and therefore of Marxism as violent negation of the established order.
"In all these writings, I never qualify myself as a social-democrat but as a communist. To Marx as to myself it is absolutely impossible to use such an elastic expression to designate our own conception". (Engels - Preface to the pamphlet of Volksstaat off 1871-75. Our translation)
"You, you flatter in the most vulgar way the national feelings and the corporative prejudices of the German craftsmen, which, of course, is much more popular. In the same way the democrats made a sacred formula of the word "people", you, you are making a sacred formula of the word "proletariat". Just like the democrats you are substituting revolutionary phraseology to the revolutionary development". (Marx - Minutes of the Central Council of London - 1850. Our translation)
2. On this question we refer our readers to the text "Contribution to the so-called question of the party" published in Communism No 2.
3. Some texts as fundamental as "The Jewish question", "The German Ideology", "The thesis on Feuerbach", "The Grundrisse", "The sixth chapter",... had to wait decades before being published and even then they were published only partially or were completely distorted. Revolutionaries had to wait for the important work of integral republication of the masterworks of Marx by Riazanov to see the appearance of those essential texts (work that gave Riazanov the "privilege" of disappearing in the thirties, eliminated by Staline). For example the "Grundrisse", that had to wait until 1939 to be published is German, revealed in an irrefutable way that the masterwork of Marx constitutes an indissociable totality, while all Marxologues of yesterday and today work desperately hard to dislocate it, to cut it up, to oppose one part of it against another.
4. On this question we refer our readers to the text which replaces the Marxist problematic of alienation back to the centre of the revolutionary programme: "From the alienation of man to the human community" that appeared is our French-language review "Le Communiste" (No 14) and that we hope to publish soon in Communism.
5. On this essential question of method, we refer our readers to our text (so far only available in French) "Critical notes on dialectical materialism" published in "Le Communiste" No 13.
6. The numerous works published or republished and that pretend representing
the life and work of Karl Marx are mostly popularizations, distortions,
falsifications and even plagiarisms for the sake of one or another bourgeois
current. However, we would like to mention the following books that distinguish
themselves from the mainstream of these bourgeois ideological productions:
- "Karl Marx" by Karl Korsh
- "Marx and Engels" by D. Riazanov
- "Karl Marx" an essay of intellectual biography by Maximilien Rubel
- "Karl Marx - the history of his life" by Franz Mehring. But nothing can compare with the unwearying study of the complete works of Marx and Engels of such intrinsic value that no "summary", no "synthesis" can possibly restore the totality of the Marxist conception of this world. We therefore stress the very importance of the regular militant study of the works of Marx, each day more operational, more alive in our struggle against capital.
7. "In the same way, Marx and Engels magnificently synthetised the communist programme in the famous Manifesto of l848, which, even if it had been ordered by a formal "party" - the Communist League - has a validity, a contents that bypasses the narrow framework of this little group of communist militants to such extend that today nobody would ever think of restricting the universal significance of he Manifesto to the simple programme of the League. The Manifesto is a direct achievement of the party in its large historical acceptation." Cited from "Contribution to the so-called question of the party" - Communism No 2.
8. Of course, both terms of this contradiction class non-class should not be conceived as pure abstractions excluding one another automatically, but as a tendential movement of confrontation until victory - solution of the contradiction through the affirmation of the revolutionary pole - i.e. affirmation of the revolutionary cllass as the dominant class and negation of the proletariat - negation of the negation.
9. Bakunin and his friends in the I.W.A. (James Guillaume,...) do not have anything to do with the "anarchists" we know today in Europe. From the French Anarchist Federation (i.e. French freemasonry) to the governmental CNT in Spain: from the "anarchist" Babar in Belgium supporting the papal trade-union Solidarnosc to the green pacifists everywhere, all this libertarian shit is as remote from Bakunin as Stalinist Marxist-leninists are from Marx. If Bakunin developed wrong positions especially as far as the dictatorship of the proletariat is concerned, this was undeniably from the proletarian and revolutionary point of view, while today his many 'grandsons' flounder openly in counter-revolution.
"And now as to myself, no credit is due to me for discovering the existence of classes in modern society or struggles between them. Long before me bourgeois historians had described the historical development of this class struggle and bourgeois economists the economic anatomy of the classes. What I did was to prove that 1) the existence of classes is only bound up with particular historical phases in the development of production 2) that the class struggle necessarily leads to the dictatorship of the proletariat 3) that the dictatorship itself only constitutes the transition to the abolition of all classes and to a classless society..." (Marx)
The text below is reprinted from our French review "Parti de Classe" No 6. It was leafleted in Paris by comrades during an anti-racist demonstration.
The people who organized last year's march could rely from the very beginning on the help and the support of the French State, of the democrats, of humanist and religious associations, of the Trotskyist Communist Revolutionary League as well as still other nationalists. They pretend that they don't act with a precise political goal, but simply "want to show what happens in the social ghettos, how people from all horizons live there and express their hopes". The slogans of the march were: "For a multicultural France", "Together for equality", "Neither rejections nor assimilation, for a new citizenship".
As for "S.O.S. Racism" with the badge "Touche pas a mon pote", they hold on to a more simple discourse, they claim to be against all racism and their actions are limited to press-conferences, investigations and counter- investigations, legal proceedings and other mobilisations of sensibilization.
All these initiatives are part of the sinister attacks capital leads against our class.
Since the Socialist Party was democratically elected into government in 1981, all workers have "benefited" from governmental action: increase of unemployment (of which no single bourgeois no longer contests the need), expulsion of all "irregular" immigrants, reinforcement of the democratic forces of law and order (new crusade of Pierre Joxe - the French home secretary -, to modernize the repressive system), reestructurations (=intensifying exploitation) without forgetting the action of Badinter - the minister of justice - who grants particular care (as witnessed by the mutinies in prisons) to the black sheeps of socialist France.
Today, with "S.O.S. Racism" as yesterday with "Convergence", the State receives a new support to actively repress the proletarian movement, particularly concerning the explosive sector of young immigrants.
In France it was mainly during the summer of 1981 that those young proletarians of the suburbs of Lyon and Marseille, rebelled against the boredom and the misery of their lives. It was not an isolated rebellion: at the same time, the Brixton riots, where whites and blacks, men and women, young and old were united to fight the cops and to burn down and ransack, followed within a few months by new rebellions in twelve other English cities, showed that this struggle is the struggle of all exploited.
The bourgeoisie has not invented racism, it is the product of the division of society in classes. Capital, in its wild race for profit, always gives birth to categorial differences between workers, the most important being the one between national workers and immigrants. By exploiting those differences the bourgeoisie develops and generalizes the racist ideology and turns it into a material force of its preservation: racism permits to avoid the polarisation of society into two antagonistic classes.
But the indispensable complement to racism is anti-racism. Anti-racist wants to maintain a society where harmony reigns between all citizens who, despite their differences of culture and colour, should be able to benefit from the same rights. But what rights do workers have?
Yesterday, when the immigrant was valorizing capital, was sweating value, he represented no problem to society; on the contrary, society used to welcome immigrants with open arms (which is a formula, because when it wasn't hunger that forced them to travel thousands of miles to find work, it was directly the State who, under the threat of guns forced them to exile!).
But today, it's the crisis, there are too many proletarians so it has become necessary to eliminate part of them: the bourgeoisie "discovers" it has an "immigration problem". And our anti-racists shout: "Beware, no racism! Equal rights for all!".
As long as proletarians behave as honest and responsible citizens, if they accept to participate to the national effort to save the economy, if they accept to participate to the elections, to the unions if they accept everything, including loss of jobs, evictions and even the sacrifice of their lives in always more deadly extermination wars, then they can benefit from all imaginable rights (which in certain countries are duties!): vote, self-expression, associations,...
But if workers, and no matter what colour they are, don't respect capitalist logic (or if their mere presence hinders this logic), if they say no to sacrifices, shit to national economy, if they struggle against wage decreases, if they organize themselves against expulsions and bullying, then immediately, in the name of these same rights and of democracy, in the name of civilisation, a flood of repression pounces upon them. These proletarians, who break social peace and organize themselves against society to obtain by force the satisfaction of their needs, are nothing but provocateurs, rioters, enemies of democracy!
By claiming "equal rights for all", anti-racists do nothing else but submitting proletarians a little more to the "laws of French people". These laws regulate as everywhere else, the relationship between buyers and sellers of goods, they do nothing else but submitting the workers to the necessity to get rid of the surplus of this commodity, labour power, when it exceeds the needs of valorization of capital. To claim "equal rights for all" means submitting the workers to the legal repression by the State, to all anti-workers measures,... that are very democratically decided by the elected parliament of the nation! Need we recall the "legalisation of all immigrant workers without working permits" that allowed the French State, supported by all leftists, to expulse ten of thousands of immigrant workers!!! Those are the kind of perspectives anti-racists propose.
To Impede wage decreases, lay-offs, police repression, expulsions, evictions, fascist aggressions, we don't need neither pity nor charity, but our own class force organized beyond all divisions.
Organizations such as "S.O.S. Racism" only prepare the denunciation and isolation of combative workers who, to defend themselves against expulsions, beatings,... use direct action against all the forces of law and order: police, fascists, unions,... without justifying themselves as good citizens would. Only the struggle on the ground of class war against bourgeois legality represents the common interest of all workers.
The repression of part of the workers is a defeat for the whole working class: against the anti-racist priests, we must organize against all sacrifices, towards active solidarity with all the struggling proletarians!!
The only school we learn at, is history; i.e. not the different representations of history that society may have produced, but the history made and lived by our class and by the exploited classes from the past - the history of their heroic, vital but also limited struggles that the proletariat will be finally capable of bringing to their ultimate term: communism.
Communism for us isn't a condition that has to be created, nor an ideal to which reality should conform. We call communism the real movement of abolition of the present situation. The conditions of this movement result from the premises that already exist in today's society.
This means that today's proletarian struggles are directly linked, in their very substance, in their determinations, to the struggles our class waged throughout the past. Moreso, one of the premises of today's struggle is the struggle of the past: it is only because of today's struggles that the proletariat can "exhume" the many experiences - of incommensurate value - of the elder generations of proletarian militants; and it is only owing to these experiences that today we can go beyond the limits that locked up and defeated the movement yesterday. Our class struggles (and we refuse to mystify that class knowing how it were real men and women who fought to give strength, to give body to our class!) made possible for all the fundamental determinations of the communist movement to become clear: it is through the sweat and blood of millions of anonymous militant workers that our class experienced how we got defeated each time we abandoned our autonomy to engage in compromises, in policies, in fronts with our class enemy; how we got defeated each time we submitted ourselves to the forces of democracy and nationalism!
In order to "exhume" the revolutionary struggles of the past, it is important not to confound or identify the very essence of these struggles, their intrinsic subversive character (antagonistic to capital) with the different formalisations that were produced by this movement in an attempt to centralise it, to built it up into a force capable of acting organically as a whole so as to kill the capitalist monster. The history of the revolutionary uprisings of our class throughout the years 1917-1923 is not just the history of the Third International!
We musn't neglect the many efforts made by the bourgeoisie to ignore, to falsify the history of society by concealing all signs of communist struggles. It is only normal that the bourgeoisie falsifies and hides the historical process where the proletariat acts as an autonomous force of the destruction of capital: this way the bourgeoisie expresses the terror it feels when it's getting confronted once more with the terrible forces created by its own domination and by its system of misery. The lies and filth poured on our struggles are not just the result of the bourgeoisie's machiavellian conspiracy against the communist movement, but first of all they are the result of the class interests of the bourgeoisie that make it incapable to see or understand a reality that is going beyond its proper system of commodity-production, that is antagonistic to its proper logic of profit and value.
Lies and filth on the miners' strike; lies and filth on the proletarian struggles in South-Africa; lies and filth on struggles in Perou, in Argentina,... In the same way all informations on struggles from the past are systematically deformed, hidden, falsified! Deformed the positions of the KAPD, hidden the revolutionary struggles of our class in Patagonia, falsified fundamental texts by Marx, Engels and other revolutionaries... not to mention the documents that remain locked up in Moscow until... the year 2000, by what time the Kremlin promises to publish the complete works by Marx and Engels!
This way the communist movement gets travestied as a movement for democracy, for peace, for progress! Never will the bourgeois show how communism destroys democracy, destroys progress, destroys frontiers while building up its own community according to its proper needs - today's only need being to fight for the destruction of what is destroying us! -
Republishing texts, criticizing struggles from the past like we start doing here in this new heading, is part of this fight.
In this article, as a first contribution, we'll try to outline the main landmarks in the development of the Pankhurst group, followed by the reprint of "Communist Party: Provisional Resolutions towards a Programme" published in the 3rd of July, 1920 issue of the ''Workers' Dreadnought".
Sylvia Pankhurst if often remembered for her part in the campaign for Universal Suffrage. Her group, uptill 1917, was called "The Workers' Suffrage Federation" which published a paper: the "Women's Dreadnought". This group stemmed from radical feminism. Under the influence of the deepening sufferings caused by the war and of the struggles that responded to this, Pankhurst soon became interested in the "social" question and the group started participating in different strike movements.
It was only at its annual conference in May 1917 that the Workers' Suffrage Federation decided to change the name of its newspaper to the "Workers' Dreadnought". But even so, in spite of this new name and in spite of the adoption by the conference of a programme referring more explicitly to the cause of "socialism", the group remains clearly on social-democratic and pacifist positions: "Peace! Socialism! Votes for all! Stop the Hideous slaughter by ending war! Down with profiteering! Secure food and necessaries for all! Not votes for some but Adult Suffrage! Down with the House of Lords!"
At this stage the "Workers' Dreadnought" is merely a radical appendix of the left fraction of the bourgeoisie: in an editorial on the Labour Party, the W.D. calls upon this party to become "an out-and-out Socialist Party, with a vigorous policy of attack on the present system..."
It'll be only later on, mainly through the radicalization of events in Russia, in Germany and likewise in most other countries (2) and because of the W.D.'s capacities to remain attentive to the real developments of the proletarian struggle, that the W.D. manages to turn its back to its own past, to the policy of reform of the capitalist world and move from a critical point of view on the question of parliament and the Labour Party, to a subversive position on these issues. Leftists prefer to obscure this evolution and its importance for the revolutionary movement (in Britain, but also internationally); they praise Pankhurst only as a reformer, refusing to admit how she broke with her original feminist and reformist engagement, adopting a line of principled struggle against reform and reformists.
We can witness the first weak signs of this evolution from 1918 onward. In an editorial of January, 26th 1918 Sylvia Pankhurst, who had been one of the very first in Britain to hail the events in Russia, defends the Soviet system and supports the dissolution of the Constituent Assembly by the Bolsheviks (3). She argues that the parliamentary system would be unable to cope with the task of establishing socialism, and that the Soviet system is far more democratic than any parliament. This very ambiguous position on the role of parliament and on the real meaning and function of democracy (and the non-understanding of communism as being the negation of democracy) continues to coexist with the "Votes for all" slogan on the front page of the paper untill July 1918 when "Socialism Internationalism, Votes for all!" was dropped and replaced by "For International Socialism" and when at the same time the annual conference voted to change the name of the organization to "Workers' Socialist Federation" (W.So.F.).
The next important step was made in an article of November, 2nd 1918 on the Labour Party and parliament. Sylvia Pankhurst states in a much more radical tone that "the expected general election interests us only so far as it can be made a sounding board for the policy of replacing capitalism by socialism and parliament by the workers' councils" and as a matter of fact in December of the same year, Pankhurst turns down the offer of a parliamentary candidature for the Hallam division of Sheffield and campaigned instead for the abolition of capitalist parliaments and the establishment of councils of workers' delegates. From now on the "Workers' Dreadnought" will start taking a clear and definite stand on parliament, on parliamentarism as well as on the Labour Party, positions on which it will find itself soon in contradiction with Lenin and the Third Communist International. This, in return, will force the "Workers' Dreadnought" to take more and more its responsibilities in view of the development of the communist movement, and the subsequent tasks that devolve upon its militants. As a matter of fact, untill then, one of the main characteristics of the Pankhurst Group was that the group based itself on its own direct experience, without really trying to analyse more thoroughly the very foundations of the communist movement (nor of capitalist society), and without really trying to link up with other expressions of the communist movement, from the past as well as from other origins or countries (4); untill then the W.So.F. had mainly been a simple group of activists, correspondents, readers,... around a newspaper, this paper being a mere reflection of the workers struggles of that time.
These negotiations will continue for one year. During this year the W.D. gives a more international dimension to its debates and Pankhurst's activities themselves got more and more determined by as well the need for clarification of her own programmatical positions and at the same time the need for an international centre of struggle: this all led up to her moving closer to the left fractions of the communist movement.
Pankhurst assisted the Conference of the Italian Socialist Party. In W.D. of November, 8th 1919 we find a report on the Congress of the Italian SP, which mentions the Abstentionist Fraction, followed by a discussion with Bordiga (the official spokesman of the Italian Abstentionist Fraction) regarding his position on the relationship between Party and Soviets. Against Bordiga, who underlines the importance of the party as a safeguard of the positions and historical interests of the proletariat, the W.D. takes a more "educationist" stand in favour of workers learning through the soviet experience. We haven't got this article in our possession, so we can't really criticize it: nevertheless we want to stress the reactionary illusion that lays behind all "educationist" theories. This theory, according to which communists should "educate" workers i.e. make them see and understand their class situation and consequently the need for communism, is just another variety of the democratic theory of councilism: the conception of the conquest of consciousness of a large majority of workers (through councils) as a determinant condition for revolution. Historically this theory has always served to never understand a revolutionary situation nor the particular tasks that derive from such situation, has always served to... wait, to delay,... to stop the movement pretending that the masses are not ready yet for revolution, that the masses won't understand,... in fact, the REFUSAL of violent struggle, the REFUSAL of armed insurrection, the REFUSAL of a communist revolution and the triumph of democracy! As far as the "Italian" position on the question of the party is concerned, we just want to mention that Bordiga, as one of the most reputable spokesmen of the Italian left, SUBMITTED his action, somewhat against his own formal positions on the question of the party, but for the sake of (formal!) discipline, to the orientations of the Third International.
Straight after having assisted to this conference, Pankhurst travelled to Berlin to attend the meeting that set up the West European Secretariat of the Comintern (February 1920); she then travelled to Amsterdam for the first meeting of the West European Sub-bureau of the Third Communist International. This sub-bureau played a most important role in the struggle of the left fractions against the social-democratic positions that to a large extend characterised the Third International from the very beginning and that were to draw it irresistibly towards the reformist quicksands and to make it an instrument, from the 2nd Congress onward, in the hands of counter-revolution (5). The Amsterdam Conference of the bureau committed those present to "no compromise with the bourgeoisie or social patriotic parties, with parties of the Second International or with agents of capital within the labour movement." On Pankhurst's initiative the Bureau voted a resolution that recommended the preparation of the proletariat to a general strike in case a revolution should come about in one country. The bureau declared itself against working in parliament or trade-unions. Just before its closing down, the bureau issued a statement against affiliation to the Labour Party. It was for all these reasons that Moscow disavowed the Amsterdam bureau it had set up six months earlier in an attempt to break russian isolation by preparing a conference of West European communist parties. The suppression of the bureau was announced on May, 15th 1920. Its activities were transferred to Berlin, where the KPD was powerful enough to control the orientations of the bureau.
If the South Wales Socialist Society agreed with the W.So.F. on the matter of parliament and affiliation to the Labour Party, the other two main participants to the unity talks, the Socialist Labour Party and even more so the British Socialist Party, by far the most important group, rejected the W.So.F.'s programme, favouring parliamentary action and, as far as the British Socialist Party was concerned, affiliation to the Labour Party.
On June, 26th of the same year, the W.D. announces the foundation of the Communist Party around the W.So.F.'s programme, i.e. against parliamentarism and against affiliation to the Labour Party. What had happened is that Pankhurst preferred to initiate the formation of a communist party, be it a small one, on a principles basis (6) rather than sacrificing these principles for the sake of the ephemeral immediat succes brought by the foundation of a much larger, but unprincipled and in fact submitted to capital's needs, "communist" party. Already on February, 21st 1920 in an article on the problems of regroupment in Britain "Towards a Communist Party" Pankhurst stated that she was ready to go ahead to form a "left-wing" communist party if no principled regroupment with other parties could take place! Now, nevertheless, apart from the W.So.F. seven other small communist groups supported the formation of the new Communist Party, that declared itself the British Section of the Third International (BSTI) at a conference in London on June, 19th 1920.
So the "Workers' Dreadnought" now became the "organ of the Communist Party" and started publishing the Party's provisional programme. It are these provisional resolutions that we're publishing. It is obvious to us that, except from the position on parliament and affiliation to the Labour Party, that the "Workers' Dreadnought" as far as all other questions are concerned (workers' democracy, councils, nationalizations, unions, judges in communist courts (!)) remains locked up in a social-democratic vision of the communist movement. On other occasions we will criticise these positions; here we just want to show how in spite of these many social-democratic positions, that to a large extend reflect the still dominant influence at that time of social-democracy on important fractions of the proletariat, namely in Britain, that the "Workers' Dreadnought" nevertheless moved dynamically towards a more and more internationalist practice of rupture with these forces of conservation of the capitalist system. This evolution of the "Workers' Dreadnought" itself is a clear disavowal of its own pretention as communists to be the "licensed" holder of "the knowledge", "the consciousness", "the communist ideology or science" without which the proletariat, the real movement could not get anywhere!!!
Five weeks later, on the first of August, 1920, the British Socialist Party, together with part of the Socialist Labour Party formed the Communist Party of Great Britain (already in the denomination itself we can distinguish Pankhurst's internationalist orientation from the nationalist position of the official communist party, the CPGB): they adopted a programme of affiliation to Labour and of parliamentary action.
At this same time, the Comintern declared itself openly in favour of tactical "devices" always more clearly in opposition to the general principles of communism. In April, 1920 Lenin had completed his pamphlet "Left-wing communism, an infantile disorder" (as a preparatory text for the second Congress) that laid down the tactics of affiliation and parliamentarism as the right policies for british communists to bring about the revolution. In his pamphlet, Lenin tried to justify and explain, very dialecticaly, how it is right for the proletariat to vote into government its future butchers, the british Noske! Pankhurst's position was that "as social-patriotic organisations of other countries, the Labour Party will inevitably come to power through the natural course of development of society. The task of communists is to organise the forces that will overthrow the social-patriots, and we musn't delay this action in our country, nor hesitate. We musn't waste our energy by increasing the strength of the Labour Party: its rise to power is inevitable. We have to use our forces to create a communist movement that will defeat this party. The Labour party will soon be forming a government. The revolutionary opposition must make ready to attack it." (Quoted from Lenin's "Left-wing Communism").
Pankhurst went to Moscow to defend the communist positions at the second Congress of the C.I. (July/August 1920). She didn't stand alone: delegates from different other countries also defended the same programme of intransigent struggle against capital. We know the left positions got defeated at this congress: to the contrary, the infamous 21 conditions that, amongst other things enjoined trade-union work and parliamentary activity as conditions for membership of the C.I. were adopted (7).
Just like left groups in other countries, the CP (BSTI) now faced a choice: maintaining its communist principles at the risk of returning to a state of relative isolation, or abandoning these principles for the sake of remaining in the mainstream of the international proletarian movement, knowing that this movement, and its main formal organ, the Third International, instead of clearly defining and fighting the class enemy, started to compromise, to negotiate, to trade,... with it. In the face of the prestige of Lenin, of the Third International and also because in the end the "Workers' Dreadnought" group surely reckoned that all thing considered, that the points of agreement between itself and the Third International, that the positive positions of the C.I. prevailed over the points of disagreement - and after much internal acrimony (1/3 of its members resigned!) - the CP (BSTI) at the Leeds Unity Convention on January 1921 decided to abandon its principles on parliamentarism and on the question of affiliation, and to enter the CPGB. On January, 22nd the "Workers' Dreadnought" announces that is is no longer the "organ of the Communist Party" now that the united CP has been formed. Pankhurst, who at that time was in jail on a charge of sedition, did not take part in these final unity negotiations: from prison she recommended that the CP (BSTI) enter the CPGB as an opposition group. And as a matter of fact, the "Dreadnought" declared itself to be an independant organ, giving an independant support to the Party from a left wing point of view. Released from prison in May 1921, Pankhurst apparently pursued this struggle without compromises, since she got expelled from the party only four months later (on September 1921) following her repeated forthright condemnations of CPGB and Comintern policies. But starting from then, the "Workers' Dreadnought" didn't succeed in maintaining its activities, became less and less influential to finally disappear in 1924.
2. Indeed, it was an international wave of revolutionary action that was challenging the old world - important class movements took place in Patagonia, in Mexico, in India, in China, in the Middle East,...
3. We don't know exactly what informations communists in England or elsewhere got on the events in Russia. The need for the bourgeoisie to destroy and falsify all historical process where the proletariat acts as the real subject of history (and no longer as pure object) and the isolation which confined most revolutionary action to national boundaries (i.e. the inexistence of an international center of struggle) explain the ignorance that often prevailed as to what was really happening in Russia and everywhere else. Often revolutionary action is taken in solidarity with what is supposed to be happening elsewhere, proletarians referring in an enthusiastic way to what they want to happen, to what they can see as a necessity!As far as the Constituent Assembly goes, it seems that the Bolsheviks only dissolved it in January 1918, after having organised elections for it (elections after the victorious October insurrection!!!) when this assembly started organising openly the counter-revolution. Even so, the Bolsheviks only decided to dissolve this assembly because they were being forced to by more radical fractions of the proletariat. (On this subject, see L. Shapiro: "The Bolcheviks and their opposition 1917-1922").
4. This also explains the preponderant influence of Sylvia Pankhurst on the evolution of the group: she - just like the group - "came" to communism when communism was strong enough to impose itself, but moved away from it again as the communist movement got defeated.
5. We cannot analyse in this introduction the very complex process of degeneration of the CI. The CI, founded very late (the first congress took place in March, 1919) as an attempt to break the isolation of Soviet Russia, soon revealed itself to be nothing else but a centre for the defence of the interests of the russian bourgeois state abroad. This was the result, not of some betrayal, but in the first place of the many weaknesses - i.e. the social-democratic orientations that persisted and that had never been criticized but on a formal basis - that characterized the Third International from the very start. This situation materialised the weaknesses of the whole communist movement of that period. If we insist on the revolutionary contribution of the left fractions (that emerged in most countries: Bulgaria, Mexico, Italy, Spain, Luxembourg, England, Belgium, United States, India, South-Africa, Poland, Germany,...) it is precisely because of their efforts to denounce and clarify the counter-revolutionary nature of the very fundamentals of social-democracy, of the Second International as an organ, from its very origins, for the reform of capital. In this introduction we just mention some of the facts that illustrate the process of degeneration of the CI.
6. We can draw a parallel here with what happened in France with the first and ephemeral Communist Party founded in May 1919 by Péricat and Lepetit but that soon disappeared at the end of the same year.
7. It was the Italian left that insisted that another condition be added to the 20 already existing conditions, which stipulated that no party could claim membership to the Third International if it didn't accept these conditions! Pretending fighting this way against centrist and right-wing parties, reality has shown that these conditions were actually used against the left positions. As a matter of fact, these conditions stated clearly that to be a communist, one had to vote, to agree to parliamentary and union activity, to support "all movements of emancipation in the colonies'',...
The Communist Party bases its conditions of membership on the acceptance of the following cardinal principles:
1. The complete overthrow of capitalism and
the establishment of Communism.
2. The class struggle.
3. The dictatorship of the proletariat.
4. The Soviet or Revolutionary Workers' Council system.
5. Affiliation to the Third International.
6. Refusal to engage in Parliamentary action.
7. Non-affiliation to the Labour Party.
Therefore the Communist Party believes that the dictatorship of the proletariat must be vigorously applied until the transition period from Capitalism to Communism has been safely passed and the counter-revolution completely suppressed.
The Party aims therefore at the disarming of the Army, Navy and police force created under capitalism, and the creation of a workers' Red Army and Navy, and the arming of all trusted workers. All workers shall be trained to flight in defence of the workers' revolution. The military instruction of the Red Army shall be accompanied by the teaching of Communism and class solidarity. Trusted Communists, elected by Soviets, shall work in conjunction with the Military experts.
When the transition period is entirely over, and the world federation of Soviets republics is established, the need for Red Armies and navies will have disappeared.
The proletarian dictatorship will not misinterpret the principle of the freedom of the press into allowing newspapers and other publications to advocate the return of a state of society that was based upon class exploitation. With this limitation only, the discussion of ethical and economic ideals and principles of administration and social organisation will be unrestricted, and the press will be entirely free.
The proletarian dictatorship will deprive of political power all those who attempt to perpetuate or re-introduce capitalist exploitation, and who refuse to do socially useful work.
a. to seize control of production;
b. to win the allegiance of the Army and Navy to the cause of the workers, as opposed to that of the Capitalist State, in preparation for the revolutionary struggle, and the creation of a Red Army.
The old Trade Unionism is already in process of transformation. In some industries existing organisations are being adapted towards Sovietism by the force of rank and file effort, in others new industrial organizations are formed, in others unofficial rank and file organisms challenge the official institutions. When the revolutionary seizure of power has been accomplished, this process will be accelerated. The existing organisations will either be socialised with comparative rapidity or they will be superseded altogether.
After the crisis is passed, the existing unions may be converted for Communist administration, but experience teaches that in the hour of crisis no official revolutionary action can be expected from the general body of Trade Unions. The policy of the Communist Party will therefore be:
a. To form a revolutionary Communist group
in every workshop and Trade Union branch.
b. To promote the organization of unofficial industrial organizations.
c. To support all strikes, and to endeavour to give them a revolutionary trend, exposing the futility of efforts to secure mere increases of land-workers is an urgent necessity.
The propagation of Communist ideas amongst the land-workers is an important part of Communist work.
The Communist Party refuses all compromise with Right and Centrist Socialism. The British Labour Party is dominated by Opportunist Reformists, Social Patriots, and Trade Union Bureaucrats, who have already allied themselves with capitalism against the workers' revolution at home and abroad. The construction and constitution of the British Labour Party is such that the working masses cannot express themselves through it. It is affiliated and will remain affiliated to the Second International, so long as that so-called International shall exist.
The Soviet delegate must be instructed by, and report to, those whom they represent, and shall be subject to recall at any time.
No person may vote, or be elected to the Soviet who refuses to work for the community, who employes others for private gain, engages private trading, or lives on accumulated wealth. In the Soviet community such person will soon cease to exist.
The Soviets will also make arrangements for the maintenance by the whole community, of the old and the sick, and assure to them the unquestioned right to the full satisfaction of their needs. Hospitals, maternity and convalescent homes, and sanatoria shall be socialised.
There will be generous provision of free schools of elementary, secondary, higher and vocational education, universities and colleges of arts and sciences Books and apparatus for study and wide opportunities of recreation will be at the disposal of all.
The period of universal education and freedom from productive work, unless such work be undertaken with a purely educational motive, shall extend to at least 20 years of age. All educational institutions for people of all ages shall be free.
Education will be co-ordinated by the establishment of teachers' Soviets, pupils' Soviets, parents' and teachers' Soviets, and councils of education formed of delegates from these bodies and from the Soviets. The maintenance of children and young persons shall be entirely free.
Under Communism, courts of Justice will speedily become unnecessary, since most of what is called crime has its origin in economic need and in the evils and conventions of capitalist society.
Landlords and capitalists whose property has been socialised shall receive no special compensation; they will be offered work or maintenance on the same level as the rest of the community.
The introduction of machinery, the spread of scientific knowledge, the growth of large-scale production, make possible the emancipation of labour, and the establishment of a Communist Society in which there shall be no need to maintain either rationing or the wages system, to limit the free use by the workers of the products of the community. But there will be a transition period between Capitalism and Communism, during which wages and other survivals of Capitalism will gradually disappear. Throughout the transition period the Communist Party will be guided by the determination to secure complete political and economic equality for all workers.
When the working class seize power, banks must be confiscated and all private banking stopped. For the period in which money and trading still continue, local and national Soviet banks shall be set up and shall be the only banks.
Until the wage system has been altogether abolished, wages shall be equal for all industries and professions, and for all adults men and women in each industry and profession, from the principal manager downwards. Managers, foremen and other occupying organizing and directive posts shall be elected by the workers under them, or by the Soviets. All Soviet officials and delegates shall receive the standard wage during the time they are employed on Soviet work.
The standard wage shall be paid during illness, and unemployment. Mothers who are wage-earners shall also be paid the standard wage when incapacitated from following their employment. Moreover, they shall be provided with skilled household help during illness, or if they are employed outside the home.
Even before the wages system is abolished the people shall be spared from all fear of want by the free provision of all staple necessaries, essential food, clothing, housing accomodation, furniture, fuel, transport, light, and medical aid; whilst education and full maintenance shall be free to the children. Scarce commodities shall be equally rationed, and housing provided on the principle that before anyone may have two rooms everyone must have one.
The members of the Communist Party (British Section of the Third International), will constitute a body of volunteers, disciplined now for the coming struggle; a body of men and women who have made up their minds to achieve the revolution by working through self-discipline to freedom.