We don't want to wipe out the past and pretend starting from scratch again. On the contrary, our aim is to try to synthetize the ten years of life and activities of our little group of militants by drawing lessons, political conclusions and directives.
A communist organisation is not a little communist society within capitalist society. It is neither an oasis of perfection in the andst of capitalism even though in its bosom the real proletarian vanguard might cristallize itself. A communist group is a living expression of the contradiction that makes the proletariat go always further by moving from breakings to breakings (the communist struggle is a permanent movement of negations, breakings, overtakings,...) but it is clear that there are always and there always will be different expressions and materialisations of the lack of breaking with capitalist society.
Vulgar materialism or idealism (usually both combined together) are constant deviations, existing in every communist organisation ever since the first attempts of struggle against Capital and the State. Expressions of this kind of deviations (alterations) can be found in different ranges of revolutionary action and more specifically in communist publications. Our group is convinced that only permanent criticism and self-criticism, as well as the biggest attention we pay to the criticism from our contacts, correspondents, and the proletarians in general, can help us fight such deviations. And the whole of these criticisms must be centralised through the internal and international polemics we have always had. It is these permanent criticisms assumed by all militants and centralized also through a series of organisational mechanisms that help us going forward.
A little time ago, our group announced through its press the publication of a criticism of some previous articles (1) such as "Pour un front de classe" (in "Le Communiste" No3) and "La nature catastrophique du capitalisme" (2) (in "Le Communiste" No7). These criticisms materialized for us a new step forward that allowed us to break more clearly from political economy and from the politics of the Social-democratic left. This, at that time (1982) resulted in the split of some comrades who later on constituted a grouping without perspectives (it was to disappear a few years later) called "The Internationalist Communist Fraction". During the recent phase lived by the ICG, the same tendency, characterized by idealism and dualism proper to social-democracy, reappeared and materialized through different practices and expressions which have led us to a phase of clarification also ending up in exclusions.
The central problem of the article "Pour un front de classe" was to see in the proletariat, before anything else, its heterogeneity, and to relegate to a position of secondary importance the community of interests, of perspectives, the social project, the programme: and so all this to the detriment of the essential determinations that make up a social class. The same deviation is also present in the idealist line against which we recently had to fight, but of course this only is an example. We will talk about the characteristics proper to both expressions of idealism later on in this text. Nevertheless, this idealist line has expressed itself in different articles of our reviews and even some texts that we still consider to be globally correct and that orientate our activities are impregnated with expressions reflecting an idealist conception. For example, "Les tâches des communistes" (in "Le Communiste" No21) where one can read: "And once more, even if this might make the new philosophers of the democratic ultra-left roar, the difference between the proletariat and the bourgeoisie is the will to struggle (sic) against alienation and all the capitalist shit" (3).
The same deviation expresses itself in the article "L'Europe des Versaillais" (in "Le Communiste" No25) - see the self-criticism below. Also the pamphlet on "Spain - May '37" published together with the group RAIA contains as well big problems always in relation to this idealist line we are criticizing. Here also, the party is presented as an external being, foreign to the proletarians who are fighting; the "lack" of the Party is not expressed as the real weakness of a worldwide balance of forces, nor as the weakness of the level of preparation and centralization of the struggles, but as the immediate absence of an organization, genius but not existing (the "Rambo" party, possessor of lessons, positions,... to be given to the proletarians, but this party never existed and of course never will exist!). This way, the internationalist and historical dimension of the party is wiped out. For us, even in these moments of defeat (the thirties) there exist militants organised in the historical line of the party (like for example the Italian Fraction of the Communist Left in France and Belgium regrouped around "Bilan", or still the Communist Left of Mexico that published "Comunismo") and although they may be very clear, they cannot possibly avoid the deep defeat of THEIR PARTY in Spain. In the same way, Marx's lucidity about the Paris Commune (after its foundation, because before it, Marx position was oscillating) did not prevent its failure. And Trotsky's position about "the lack of the Party" during the Commune is ridiculous because insurrectional struggles of our class always are expressions of our Party.
"Be that as it may, the Paris insurrection, even if it comes to be defeated by the wolves, the pigs and the dogs of the old society, is the most glorious achievement of our party since the insurrection of Paris in June" (Marx to Kugelmann - 12/4/1871).
Of course in spite of this affirmation we do not give up anything from our specific organisation as communists. This specific organisation does not accept the discipline of the workers in general, does not dissolve itself in any consultative democracy. Every fundamental struggle of our class is our struggle. Therefore we see in every weakness, in every lack of centralization, of leadership,... the problems of our own Party; and this leads us to the total rejection of pompuous groups and positions that instead of recognizing our class' weaknesses as their own and fighting against them, imagine that what's missing for the class to realize the insurrection, are their advices, and this is what they call "the Party". In their analyses of history, they claim that the proletarians can do nothing without these infaillible advisers they call "the Party" but who in reality only correspond to the idyllic image of the bourgeois intellectual sitting near his book and judging the past through his own little brain.
These examples are not restrictive! Our group has constantly fought and will keep on fighting inside as well as outside of the organisation against the multiple expressions of the idealistic line that is rottening the whole of the workers' movement. Against those who mix up the flag and the movement, who think and claim the historical party not as the party in history but as an ideal to be reached, who think that the transformation of the world essentially depends on their voluntary activity and who activate themselves to create any kind of committee under any kind of pretext and without any perspectives; against those who theorize the abolition of the family in capitalist society, who identify dialectic materialism with a method of knowledge, who believe that communism develops itself independently from the contradictions of capitalist society, who do not define the proletariat by its real practice as an "exploited and revolutionary class" but only by what they would like it to be, i.e. exclusively "revolutionary"; against those who see the communists' organised actions as actions of incitement, of stimulation, of creation (!) of the movement instead of as actions of leadership of the movement rising spontaneously from the putrefaction of this society; finally, against those who mix up the communist organisation with a school of thought, who identify concepts with reality, the communist programme with the Consciousness or with an ideal... in brief, against the whole of these political deviations of genuine idealism we affirm practical materialism, communist materialism (4). Idealism always explains history from the individual, from his will and ideas; historical materialism on the contrary explains how the social material conditions produce the individual, his will and his ideas. Ideology itself always is a practice, a social and material product as such, a material force. Ideology is matter. As materialists we never start from the ideas one may have about the world but we always start from social life, from the historical arch that relates primitive society to integral communism... in brief, from real life.
But like we've said before, a communist organisation is never completely impervious to this kind or deviations proper to the world of Reason imposed by the bourgeoisie. Therefore it is useless to try to find guarantees so that these deviations should not express themselves anymore in our group. Such guarantees do not exist; neither in organisational mechanisms nor in the purety of the Idea. For us criticism and self-criticism is a very important part of our activity and we haven't any other "guarantee" for the development of our struggle but centralized discussions and fraternal criticism. History of class struggle is full with mistakes, attempts, set-backs,... To transform those weaknesses into strength through criticism and self-criticism, such has always been the invariant practice of the most determined elements of the Party; today it is our practice.
Wherever the proletariat had been more radical, struggling for its own dictatorship, the flowing back of the struggle during the seventies materialized itself in a dreadful defeat, in a phase of open terror from the State; and in those areas where there had only been less significant struggles, without much perspectives of generalisation, the seventies re-imposed social peace with all its awful characteristics: competition, sectarism, anti-organisationalism, individualism,...
Today the few breaches opened up in the wall of social peace aren't large enough for the historical and international reappearance of the proletariat. And although the fact of plunging always deeper into the crisis does not give credit to the bourgeois perspectives, neither does it lead to the revolutionary transformation of this old world.
In this climate of general defeat, when everyone tries to save himself above all, the gap between the minority of the proletarians in struggle and the majority of the working-class that keeps its mouth shut and continues to accept all sacrifices, is more spectacular than ever. This reality, proper to the counter-revolution and generally produced by the defeat of an important wave of struggles, expresses itself ideologically in the idealistic conception that considers the proletariat as an object on which one must intervene through a small group of intellectuals who see themselves as "subjects" because they have the "will" and/or the "consciousness" of the revolution. Here as well counter-revolution produces counter-revolution: the whole lot of theories splitting up the communist movement by putting on one side "workers" and on the other side "the revolutionary intellectual" only are the monstruous reflection of today's reality which, just like a photography, i.e. in a non-dynamic way shows on one side the atomized worker and on the other side the small groups that are theorizing.
But we know that a photography of reality is just like the tree that's hiding the forest: to limit reality to what one can see here and now, means to hide the whole dynamic or a being (communism) which can only express itself through all the richness of its historical affirmation - yesterday - today -tomorrow. To give up this point oof view implies the projection - in a mechanical-like manner - of today'ss weaknesses of the proletariat onto the future. For us, classless society means the existence of a collective unitarian being - the Gemeinwesen - which is being univocally expressed during each wave of proletarian struggle by the tendency towards the setting up of a unique worldwide centralization, clarifying and determining our struggle against these divisions. The latter (once more: produced by counter-revolution, imposed by democracy and State-terrorism) tend to dissociate, to atomize proletarians and to turn them into free individuals, far away from the "communists", also transformed here into free individuals, "importers of consciousness"!
Within our group, we have suffered from this idealistic, dualistic, social-democratic illness that consists (by refusing to take into consideration the social and material determinations of the community of struggle, interests, programme, needs, revolutionary perspectives,... of which our group is an historical product and factor; community of struggle invariably cristallized during each period of struggle, in the ineluctable tendency of the proletariat to constitute itself into a class and to centralize as a party) consists in theorizing on one side the class as being determined by the "here and now", the heterogeneity, the contengencies, by immediacy, conformism, by the will to struggle... just for a fair place in this society, by the lack of consciousness, etc. and on the other side, the party as being determined by the "yesterday-today-tomorrow", by homogeneity, by the globality, the will, the consciousness,...
The ICG isn't an island of communism right in the andst of capitalism; in a social context where competition and individualism are at their height and despite the fact that the ICG is a pole of struggle against this shit, it is impossible for our group not to reflect within itself some of today's weaknesses the proletariat undergoes in the difficult process of constituting itself as a class.
For several years and in spite or the overwhelming weaknesses of this particular period, we have been assuming what we really exist for as a revolutionary group: developing internationalism, drawing lessons from the defeats of our class all throughout history, fighting for the international organisation of our class by impelling the regrouping of revolutionaries all throughout the world (this got nothing to do with certain debates in the anglo-french "revolutionary milieu"!). But all our efforts to assume these invariant tasks, do not cure us from the determinations described above: anti-organisationalism and individualism are poisons that we must fight against including within our our own group. The idealistic tendency that we've been fighting against all throughout the passed few years, and against which only today we can clearly delimit the class-frontiers that separate us from it, was aimed at liquidating our community of struggle because of its anti-party contents.
Like always our old enemy never stops reappearing in some new disguise, but idealism betrays itself because it always ends up in considering the "party", the "communists" as something pure, external to all social determinations.
The invariable point of view of idealism is as follows: on one side you've got the workers, atomised, plunged into the shit of this society, and, on the other side you've got the "party", pure thing being strictly determined by the efforts to revolt, the will to fight and/or the facts of consciousness and will. This sometimes leads to the rejection of all practical activity for the sake of only intellectualism, and at other times to the apology of every single struggle no matter what the perspectives may be. In fact, in most cases, it's a permanent and practical oscillation between activism and theoricism. Indeed, those who see the party as a divine perfection, sole possessor of the theory that will save the proletariat, fall into activism much more often than one would imagine.
Every single struggle becomes the object of a race in order to make the idea of communism that supposedly is lacking for the struggle to be revolutionary, become "real". Idealism invariably drifts towards immediatism and ouvrierism. Like all bourgeois ideology, idealism is not just a conglomerate of ideas, it is practise, a practise of sabotage of our efforts to constitute a common organizational framework; it is an individualistic practise!
The theory of the "communist" individual is the starting-point of this deviation that negates the proletariat as the real subject of history. This ideology comes from the disappointment minorities feel in the face of the weaknesses of the proletariat. To get over their disillusion of a revolution that is not "coming", those minorities think they can substitute simple facts of will and consciousness to the historical weaknesses of the proletariat and they believe that an association of rebels or theoricians who call themselves revolutionaries can change the world. As communists we know that in spite of our will and consciousness, the balance of forces goes beyond our will-power and can never be reduced to the mere existence or non-existence of such or such a group. When the proletariat doesn't express in its struggles its ineluctable tendency to organize itself into a force, to centralize itself as a party, the international organization of the existing revolutionary forces feels the effects of this and becomes even more difficult.
Today's phase is a sectarian one, it reflects the increase of general competition endured by the proletariat and corresponds to a discontinuous phase of ups and downs historically linked up with the periods of embryonic reconstitution of the proletariat. We try as hard as we can, with all our will and all our consciousness, to fight against sectarism proper to today's phase but we never forget that communism will loom up from the guts of capitalism, from the shit of this world. All the consciousness and all the will-power of revolutionary minorities isolated in the andst of an ocean of social peace will never be sufficient to destroy capital.
The limits of today's revolutionaries - those revolutionaries for whom internationalism isn't an empty word and who really practically try to organize a community or struggle and action against all frontiers, all nations,... are the limits proper to this period. All those non- materialist (in the sense that they deny the material power of the relationship between classes) who think they'll be able to substitute facts of consciousness and will to the real balance of forces in this world, are building up sects that are each time "purer" than the previous ones, dreaming that they are constructing with their brains the bed of the revolution where the proletariat will just have to lie down in order to realize communism. And logically, they'll blame the proletarians for not applying their ready-made recipes to change the world. Whatever the form of this deviation, those who want to substitute their personal consciousness and/or revolt to the real movement of abolition of the established order, always sink into the apology of the individual. This has been materialized in our group by a series of individualistic practices, all tending more or less to gather the proletariat aroundd their own clique, making impossible any kind of work or discussion in common (cfr. their fury to defend their "freedom of thought" in the group that has led them to a practice of sect whose idealistic and tautological starting-point was: "Anyone who's not on my side, is against me!"). This means more than just disorganizing the group, it is the reinforcement, within our group, of individualistic competition!
"Competition isolates individuals from each other; not only the bourgeois but even more so the proletarians... Isolated individuals only form a class through their fight against another class; otherwise they are just enemies competing with one another." (Marx: "German ideology")
The political struggle within the ICG against this deviation isn't new and certainly isn't finished. Since 1979, date of birth of our organization, this struggle has been materialized by different organisational splits that have all led either to indifferentism or to activism, when it wasn't just to the renunciation of all militant activity. Each time we've seen that the "big programmatical disagreements" put forward, were only the ideological screen behing which to hide the real discouragement in front of the necessity to carry on the hard struggle against the current within a group with many different experiences, origins, cultures and histories; to hide an irresponsible and individualistic practice, an incapability to assume the militant tasks; to conceal a real break with the organizational framework. These "big programmatical disagreements" only are a screen to cover up a series of successive disappointments in the face of immediate activity and this has become clear by the incapability of these comrades to maintain the priorities centrally decided by our group. The outcome of such kind of split from the community of struggle and from organic centralism, always is the individual. He then settles his own priorities, day by day, calling into question every centralized activity; one day proposing the exclusion of comrades who didn't assume such or such task and the other day trying to form with them an organization in the organization; developing one day the illusion of the immediate abolition of the family, and coming back the next day to the worst social-democratic caricatures about the dualism between militant life and private life, when everyone decides for his own private life, with its inevitable complement: political officialdom!; at last, deciding (always individually) to stop assuming the tasks decided collectively and centrally, because the individual - this opportunist -submitted to his humour of the day, suddenly considers that there are other -much more inportant - things to do.
For our group, all this expressed itself, for example, in the non-assumation of a central review in Italian, as had been decided centrally (5), in our weak interventions (i.e. with lesser forces than we would and should have invested) in the railway strike in France, in the slowing down, if not in the complete paralysis of some of the central tasks (amongst which the elaboration of our "thesis of orientation", etc.).
In the face of these ruptures with the organic discipline of our group, our organization could only sanction this situation where the individual had already - de facto - "recovered" his sacred freedom of thought and action.
We don't wish that the militants who've been excluded from our group, will end the same way as those who split away from us before, but we want to warn them about the fact that the sectarian and individual practices that provoked this split, can only lead to the reproduction of the same deviations within their own group. The countless problems we meet while trying to set up an international community of struggle right in the andst of a period of counter-revolution, cannot be resolved by a split based on the first ideological argument one can think of. Sooner or later, this incapability to assume together with us the inevitable and essential debates linked to communist action, will lead to a practice of sect (6).
There is one more thing we have to say to express the entirety of our criticisms: we do not of course deny that there exist also real programmatical disagreements, but most of the time they are not expressed by those who pretend they are developing them. Indeed, it is not ideas that determine their practice; but it is their practice that determines their ideas. That's why, for example, the worst activism without principles can be covered up by an ideological discourse theorizing the "purest" ideal about the party. This has been confirmed by the experience of our class as well as by our own experience. Organizational liquidationism always hides behind the idealization of the party and/or of the communist society to be: from this point of view, the perfection and the purification to be reached, always makes today's organizative activity of seconday importance, the same way as the idealization of the perfect "revolutionary" systematically leads to the despise of today's comrades. In this sense, the ideology of individualists, sectarians and liquidationists is important and has to be analysed because it can cement their activity and therefore reinforces their practice. But ideology can never be the starting-point of our explanation and understanding... nor of our actions.
The real true starting-point of the whole of these practices (sectarism,...) is bourgeois society, competition between proletarians. And as for all ideologies, their ideology as well cannot be considered as the key to the understanding of their actions (cfr. national ideology: capital and its war produce national ideology, but without it there would be no possibility to send proletarians to be slaughtered and thus there would be no war. So, as ideology, it becomes a material element of cohesion whose consideration is essential on a second level of abstraction).
But let's stop talking now about problems of responsibility that involve more specifically the internal organisation of our militant activities and let's concentrate ourselves on the decisive questions raised by this editorial. Because, if we've been able to save to our readers in spanish, arabic or english the lecture of an article that we consider as erroneous, and although a detailed criticism of "l'Europe des Versaillais" has since been published in "Le Communiste", we still think that an explanation in the other languages is important (7).
Let's start with some significant quotes from "l'Europe des Versaillais":
"The crisis of their world (that leftists consider to be an agent of revolution) proves to be the most powerful weapon of counter-revolution: Europe isn't at the moment a centre of class struggle. We've often said that the force of the State in Europe today isn't imposed by the force of the bayonets, even so when the murder of terrorists or delinquent proletarians, the raids against revolutionaries in the early morning hours, the thousands of years of prison distributed by judges,... are the normal way of life of the terrorists who govern us! The strenght of the State neither resides in the massive recruitment of proletarians in popular or patriotic fronts like this was the case during the black years before the second world-war. Even if the State in Europe doesn't skimp the means to mobilize this big whore called public opinion against Kadhafi, even if the leftists and sionist rackets carry on mobilizing for peace, for the Nicaraguan revolution... or for the next elections, nevertheless all these classical ways of governing begin to smell musty. The smell of politicians and other democrats has become so strong and repulsive that even the show-business of electoral campaigns, of anti-racist and anti-apartheid concerts do not mobilise anymore.
"Of course we do not deny that all these demonstrations, to which we can add religion, cretinization through television and other medias, through leisure, continue to exist and reappear permanently. But the spearhead of submission today, in Europe, is the submission to national economy and to economy as such. Workers' associationism today still is an exception, the competition in order to survive remains the rule. Above all, what really seems to matter today, is to make one's existence depend on the existence of production, to make one's survival depend on the survival of our exploiters, i.e. what is dominating today is the supposed community of interest between each individual proletarian and capitalist economy. This is were State terror is the strongest: "You'll be richer if your boss is richer, you'll eat more if you're factory doesn't close down because of strikes, you'll eat more if only the workers of other factories eat less,... In this Europe of sacrifices, to struggle costs more, a lot more than the individual immediate interest within the realm of the economical and political competition between proletarians. Today, this individualism is the main force of non-struggle dominating proletarians. While waiting till those who are married with the economy will make up their mind and will start making their counts, calculating in terms of life the price of sacrifices, we address ourselves to those who do not accept this jungle, those frozen waters of selfish calculation. We intend our activities for those who, in the face of the terrorist blackmail by the State, refuse to pay the ransom. The strenght of non-struggle is important, that's why we must, more than ever, join our forces, associate ourselves, centralize ourselves. Not to weep about the difficult period or about the terrible blows we're receiving from our enemy, nor to put together our "realism" - eternal source of opportunism and anti-communism. In the face of this real capitalist force, words cannot change much, neither can explanations or reason (all proletarians know what life is about!). Only the association of minorities of internationalist communist militants, reinforcing communism wherever it exists, or more precisely, clearing the way for communism, is useful. In brief, the association of those who consider it costs less to "change the world" than to be changed by it." (end of the quote from "l'Europe des Versaillais" Le Communiste No25 pp.3 and 4).
One can easily detect in this text a very strong reasoning in which there's a mixture of true elements about the lack of constitution of the proletariat into a class, and a whole series of interpretations that ignore and deny the material determinations that push the workers (that "compel" them, that "force" them, according to Marx) to constitute themselves into a force. Once this determinism has been eliminated, the text despises the revolutionary potentiality of the proletariat (which is logic) and sees the revolution only within the "communist militant minorities"! Let's put it this way: we do not deny or ignore (if anything) the decisive role of internationalist communist militant minorities (but even this can only be understood as a product of the material determinations of this society; human beings with their consciousness, their will, make history but only as far as they themselves are produced by the material conditions that are their presuppositions and that they cannot decide upon nor change through their will-power!). So once more, what we are really criticizing, is the old social-democratic dualism that separates our class into on the one hand the workers, on the other hand, bourgeois intellectuals who possess the consciousness. The editorial reproduces the same dualism, but, of course, in a more modern and radicalized version. This kind of separations lead to an idealistic and voluntary conception, seeing the revolution as a product of the will and consciouness of "revolutionaries" and/or of the "party". We do not deny the terrible situation of the proletariat. Of course we agree that "workers' associationism today still is an exception", that "the competition in order to survive remains the rule"... and only euro-centrists will deny that Europe "is not at the moment a centre of class struggle". But we cannot admit, under any circumstances, the liquidation of the whole of social determinations that constitute the fundamental motor of revolution, while substituting to this, the voluntary activities of such or such "revolutionaries". We cannot accept the ignorance of the dialectic of the communist movement (8) and its substitution by idealism for which the world is "revolutionized" by "revolutionaries". If reality really went that way, there wouldn't exist any revolutionary possibility; if revolution depended really only on "revolutionaries", then how can one possibly explain that will, consciousness, perseverance, attitudes, steadfastness,... (all elements that are very relative and that are so difficult for one or several groups to maintain during long periods of counter-revolution, as proved by history) of those "revolutionaries" will change the balance of forces as it exists today, in the way we described before. For us, things are clear: the development of capital (and this of course includes the development of counter-revolution) means the development of all its contradictions: the limit of capital, is capital itself, and its development necessarily implies the development of its own limits and antagonisms, and it is all those material facts, and only them, that create also the objective conditions allowing for man to change reality.
This brings us back to the question or the "crisis". Without going into any considerations about the meanings of the word all throughout the history or communism and Marx's work, we can see that the editorial, instead of taking this term in the contradictory sense we give it - the sharpening of the contradictions and of the material determinations - simply refers to this term in the way it is used by leftists and stalinists: in the sense of increased misery that provokes revolution.
The editorial's criticism of such vulgar and linear materialism, by affirming that the crisis develops competition between proletarians and this counter-revolution, was made from the same unilateral point of view and only in terms of mere antithesis: as if capital had no limits, as if the crisis didn't worsen the conditions for bourgeois domination (a ruling class can maintain its rule only if it can present its project as the only one, as the one that coincides with the interests of the whole of society!), as if the crisis didn't turn every worker into a potential unemployed, as if it didn't increase day after day the general discontent, as if it didn't exarcebate the whole contradictory development of life.
If we call "crisis" the sharpening of all the contradictions of capital after the end of a phase of expansion that follows war (9) and if the "crisis" each time more explosive during its cycles that always repeat and develop themselves until covering all countries, we can see the absurdity of the central thesis of "l'Europe des Versaillais": crisis is neither an automatic weapon of revolution nor of counter-revolution, as claims the editorial. It was the sharpening of all social contradictions that provoked the wave of struggles of the second half of the sixties, but at the same time this has produced an increase in competition to which the article refers in a unilateral manner. The development of the pole of revolution and the pole of counter-revolution, not only simultaneously but also, sometimes, in a cyclical way (one after the other) or even successively, is proper to the crisis (10).
The best explanation of all this, is war. War is the most important concretisation of the crisis of capital (11). War materializes all the contradictions of capitalist society because it means the progression of counter-revolution (that is only possible through war) but, at the same time, as we've witnessed all throughout the revolutionary history of our class, war produces revolution. The most important revolutionary proletarian struggles of history up until now have been struggles against capital at war. That is to say that the affirmations in the editorial about the crisis not only fall in the idealistic antithesis of mecanist materialism, but also ignore the abc of dialectics: contradiction within unity, the being creating its own negation. Even more so, once the social determinism has been ignored and once the transformation of society is imagined according to the ideas of "revolutionaries", they then "return to society" and blame the proletariat for its condition as an exploited class. "Above all, what really seems to matter today, is to make one's existence depend on the existence of production, to make one's survival depend on the survival of our exploiters, i.e. what is dominating today is the supposed community of interest between each individual proletarian and capitalist economy." Who could this phrase refer to if not to the proletariat itself. Here the cult of the individual reaches the extreme: it talks about the proletarians who "make their existence depend on the existence of production, their survival on the survival or their exploiters", as if this was a voluntary option amongst others, and not - as it is in reality - the central social determination of the proletariat as a class. This determinatlon can only be destroyed through the self-destruction of the proletariat, through social revolution. The point is not that such or such individual "makes his existence depend on the existence of his exploiters" (which is always true in this society), even so for revolted individual: but the point is that up to its self-suppression, the proletariat will only survive on the basis of the enlarged reproduction of capital (what else is alienation about!).
To conclude, we can see why the editorial of our previous review in french is a perfect little recipe to make a good idealistic soup. In crisis, it only sees counter-revolution; the proletariat is only defined by the pole of non-struggle; the communist minorities are the only carriers of communism; class struggle doesn't exist anymore (in Europe). So then, we just have to leave it up to those who have "understood" (consciousness) and/or those who "want" another world. This way the party defined by these pure categories of thought, becomes just a structure to be constructed brick after brick and that will turn up like a new messiah whenever, at last, workers will decide to start moving!
Negating the determinations that make this centralising unique and worldwide force surge up "from the soil of modern society" (Marx) and reducing all this to facts of will and consciousness, leads in one way or another, to the idea of a party to be built up and where the individual presents himself as the only guarantee of the revolution. One of the characteristics of the counter-revolution is to present the individual as the unique guarantee of the truth.
"It's in those moments... that the old and lifeless molecule called "individual" covers itself with a kind of crust called consciousness and begins to chatter claiming it will go wherever and whenever it wants to go, raising its immeasurable stupidity to become the supposed motive power, the causal subject of history". (Bordiga)
In the face of an error such as the publication of the editorial criticized here, there can only be one kind of proletarian answer that expresses the solidarity of the comrades who see in such weakness also the weakness of the class, the weakness of the present theoretical expression of the struggle, as well as of the modest attemps of international centralisation.
Let's now get to the centre of the problem: about the passed, present and future guarantees. We've said it many times: no statutes, no formal rules, no administrative procedures, no leaders as genius as they may be, can possibly constitute a guarantee against errors. The guarantee can only be found in our programmatical coherence. But such a fundamental affirmation is not sufficient, f.i. it does not allow us to decide which text to publish, and whether to publish it.
There are two ways to never criticize oneself, to never criticize a text: to approuve unanimously everything to be published and thus to never put back into question something that has already been published, because it has become sacred. The other way, more caricatural, which is "Programme"'s formula (Parti Communiste International) who explains the change in positions by... a mistake by the reader (cfr. "The reader might have understood that... but in fact we meant that..."). In all these cases, we are in the andst of democracy!
Against this, we've organised, within the group, the centralised discussion and criticism of all the published material. And we are not talking here about formal criticisms that would consist in defining praisingly "the big step forward made by our group" but we talk about discussions, criticisms that aim at finding the weaknesses, recognising them and above all, rectifying them!
We try of course to improve as much as possible the quality of our publications and to reinforce our activities. To do this, the only solution we have found is our programmatical reinforcement, the international and theoretical discussion and homogeneisation within the precise framework and limits decided by the international central structures of our group and applied in each case and in each publication by a "responsible dictator". And we want to stress here that for us such a "responsible dictator" never is a simple delegate of the rank and file or of a local group as this is the case for federalist and democratic groups, but on the contrary, he is responsible for the central coherence and for the communist orientations. Concerning this "responsible dictator" we have strongly been influenced by the explicit and openly assumed dictatorship claimed by Marx and Engels as the only way to run a journal. "The editing was organised by Marx. A big daily paper that must be finished at a set time cannot ensure the continuation and consistency of positions without such an organisation. But more than this, in our case, Marx' dictatorship imposed itself incontestably and it was willingly recognised by all of us." (Engels)
It is true that publishing our central reviews doesn't imply the same requirements as for a daily paper; our group publishes reviews in different languages, written by comrades in several countries between which communication is slow and difficult. Anyway, we consider that there is only one way of assuming such a task: to never leave any uncertainty about the fact that, in the end, the responsibility of the decision must be CONCENTRATED AND CENTRALISED.
Maybe the word "dictatorial" will seem repellent. But we must never forget that it is the most powerful and bloodthirsty force of the dictatorship of capital (democracy, commodity production, value, money) that always presents itself as the expression of man's will. "Dictatorship", "dictatorial",... are words rejected by bourgeois humanism to better disguise the essence of its class-domination. This domination is clearly based on the dictatorial law that implies that whoever is not working, must starve! For us anyway, independently from the humanitarian titles it takes to better hide its worldwide bourgeois character, the capitalist dictatorship recovers the bloodthirsty domination of money which, as a commodity, exerts itself violently against our class.
We ourselves, just like Marx and Engels, prefer to call things by their rightful name. The dictatorship of the proletariat cannot be exerted without contradictions and this also implies the possibility to come in contradiction with the wishes or the will of other proletarians. There exist no other "communist" form of centrality but the organic one in which the organicity of the whole imposes itself (through its corresponding concretizations) against the free will of each particularity (12).
So, when we refer to such or such a comrade as a "responsible dictator" for such or such a task, we do not refer to some kind of bourgeois "leader" who must be feared and respected to avoid his terrible fits of anger, but we refer to comrades who are permanently showing their capacities in the struggle we lead against this society, and as such, they have won our confidence in their ability to guarantee the appropriateness of such or such action, publication, decision,... and this way they also express the results of our activities, of our struggle. All this has nothing to do with the adulation of some "remarkable proletarian chief" nor with the sanctification of such or such a text. Quite to the contrary, the capacity to be at the "avant-garde" of the proletariat expresses itself also through the fact of being able to call back into question the way things have been expressed before, expressions that often remain marked with concessions to bourgeois ideology. The whole strenght of Marx was to question what he had stated about the "progressive" bourgeoisie in 1848; and it was the strength of Lenin to reject what he had defended about the possibility of a pacific revolution in september 1917.
The fact that the editorial called "l'Europe des Versaillais" has been published in our review, is related to our way of organisation in the group, based on confidence and responsibility. If we have developped our criticisms of the editorial inside our group before making them public, this is due to the fact that we always push all our comrades and contacts to criticize everything we publish, and we then centralize these criticisms: this way we put these criticisms in the service of the revolutionary struggle. We proceed exactly in the same way when we criticize the weaknesses of working-class struggles because these weaknesses necessarily hinder our constitution into force. Our reviews are part of the centralisation of our activities, and such centralisation cannot be paralysed by the stupid democratism proper to leftist groups and to the centrist organisations of the so-called "revolutionary milieu". Their democratic centralism gives the illusion that all militants participate in the decision-making (and old social-democratic myth, that is nothing else but a "workers"' version of the bourgeois principle of popular sovereignty and of universal suffrage!) while in fact the real decisions are taken in small committees end behind the back of those who're stupid enough to consent to such masquerades! (13)
Our centralism is organic, i.e. the necessity of the struggle, of our programme, of workers' associationism implies a high level of confidence between revolutionaries, which is not based on the faith in some "genius leader", but only on the militant practice that we all have in common and that is continuously being reinforced through permanent criticism.
Within a revolutionary group, to decide means and implies responsibilities, in the most direct sense of the word: responsibilities in the face of comrades, in the face of the class, and it is on the basis of this responsibility and of mutual confidence at all levels - from the writing of a single text (that tries to express the clearest level of abstraction, and this is the result of our collective experience) up to the dictatorial responsibility for each one of our publications - that the historical and international centralisation of our activities organises itself without any bureaucratic control.
Each time a comrade writes a text - result and synthesis of the discussions inside the group - we do not bring it before a democratic court gathering all our comrades! NO!! We have confidence in the comrade's ability to synthesize the experience drawn from discussions and from the whole of the group's activity and we leave him the care to decide whether and how an article must be published (15). If the latter publishes a text that's going against our programmatical experiences, he will of course be criticized or even sanctionned; this was the case with the editorial of "Le Communiste" No25. We're aiming at the fact that more and more all militants recognize themselves in the centralised initiatives of other comrades and this may imply the need for very hard decisions against those who break with this confidence by their irresponsabilities. Of course, our practice, that aims at organic centralism, sometimes complicates our organisational efforts and "explains" such mistakes as the one we're criticizing here (16). It would be much easier to reduce our activity to a translation of texts of some "leader" and so, to play the show of an internationalist organisation, just like stalinist groups do. We prefer the "risk" of organicity, but not so because we might have some kind of choice between different kind of conception of the struggle, but because the communist movement, its aims, its programme, its means, its methods,... imply relationships between men that are not based on servile obedience to chiefs, on monkeys following the director of the circus like little dogs, or on the division of the work between those who think and those who write or translate, between intellectuals and manual workers, etc. In our group each militant must become the carrier of the totality, this means at the same time tending to be able to assume all tasks, and, on the other hand - knowing it is impossible to do everything - that each moment of his activity containns the totality of the project of the abolition of classes.
This is how the terrible contradiction that the bourgeoisie never ceases to put forward (in its efforts to "reason" the world - that-is to say, to impose and submit it to its Reason! can be and tends to be resolved: we are talking about the contradiction between "freedom" and "necessity" whose score has been settled for good by Marx who opposed to the "free" individual with its golden chains, the proletariat as it has, is and will always be historically constrained to act according to its being. Our decisions derive neither from democratic consultations nor from blind obedience; they derive from the history of our class and from our own experience within this history.
Therefore we can only insist on the necessity to understand that the sole and unique way to concretize our programmatical coherence is through the permanent care for criticism and the centralisation of this criticism. In a famous text against religion Marx defined the power of the critical attitude and activity. But those who think that this definition of criticism applies itself only to churches and priests, forget that everything that is tending to stop moving, to congeal... transforms itself into religion. It is normal that groups like the International Communist Party or the ICC transform themselves into sects, the former's activity for years has been defined from the fateful date of 1975 that should have sounded the knell of worldwide revolution, while the latter masturbates itself about the confirmation of "the right line developed by the Xth Congress" concerning the fourth wave of struggle etc.
May the proletarians, deceived by those group's easy stories and impressed by their scientific nonsense, look in a critical way into reality and they'll soon realize that beyond the difficulty of destroying the illusions of the idea of revolution with which those centrists recruit workers, the biggest social deflagration the world has ever known is preparing itself. We don't need all those who never stop talking about their "idea" of communism. We need revolutionaries hardened in the heat of criticism, able to maintain, against the current, the organisation of all expressions of struggle against this world, and hence, also able to criticize themselves.
"Criticism has plucked the imaginary flowers on the chain not in order that man shall continue to bear that chain without fantasy or consolation but so that he shall throw off the chain and pluck the living flowers." (Marx -Critique of Hegel's Philosophy of Right).
Permanent criticism and self-criticism are demonstrations of our class' force. They do not aim at opposing some arguments against others. Criticism is the genuine movement of destruction of the old world. Therefore it has nothing to do whatsoever with the various debates of ideas proposed by well respected leftists. The whole history of the proletariat is based on the lessons it has been able to draw from the errors of the past; communist criticism isn't based on the idea that there would be a world to convince with a load of "communist" arguments, but only on the destruction of capital through organisation of the movement of the abolition of classes "like it is really happening before our eyes".
"Criticism is not a passion of the head but the head of passion. It is not a scalpel but a weapon. Its object is its enemy, which it aims not to refute but to destroy" (Marx - Ibid.).
To conclude, we call upon the comrades who read us to help us improve our publications, to participate in the real criticisms between members of the same class, propulsed by the same movement to destroy this old world. On several occasions we have received such criticism from proletarians who really care to help our group to go forward. We insist to receive other contributions. These comrades who send their excellent criticisms, are the living expression that our publications are not "private" but, on the contrary, are the collective product of a class that is living and struggling, and of whom the Internationalist Communist Group is only an organ of centralisation.
Idealism is incapable of discerning the limits of capital in capital itself. That's why, according to all those reformers of the old world, they have to define the pure redeeming being that from the outside of the real world, from the outside of capitalist putrefaction, will come to the rescue of workers by telling them what to do! According to Lenin it is bourgeois intellectuals that constitute the force - the Party - that will import consciousness from the outside into our class.
The idealist deviation of "blanquism" was expressed by the fact that they also conceived their activities as an outward intervention by a group, a nucleus of very determined combattants carrying out revolution on behalf of the proletariat.
In the editorial that we've just criticised in the previous chapter, we can find these same saviours of the working class, those men who define themselves as "pure" communists, the unique origin of revolution. So whatever form they may take, idealists (making revolution rise from the outside of the movement of putrefaction and decomposition of capitalist society) always conceive and define the tasks of communists as being determined only by their own will and consciousness. But since - according to idealists - communists must be related in one way orr another to the working-class (since the working-class has to be educated, has to be convinced of the need for revolution) so they create the forms of organization "for the masses", they make speeches according to what the workers are ready to accept, they publish "open letters" for those who are not yet ready to follow them, they create different structures wherever they can find proletarians so as to stimulate their consciousness... and, in the end, they only reform society. It is logical, from the point of view of those for whom the proletariat does not exist any longer as the class historically determined to violently impose communism, that for them the only subject of revolution would be those pure beings, defined through their consciousness and their will, and who act in order "to show the road to revolution" or still "to reinforce - progressively - communism wherever it allready exists!" In this understanding, communist militants are identified with the class and have become themselves the movement. But the reduction of the class to only those who are willing to fight (consciousness!) betrays an individualist - anti-social, anti-historical - conception of class-struggle. Since the very beginning of our group's existence, we've always affirmed that a class can neither be defined "statically" (without movement) or "sociologically" through the place individual workers take up in the immediate process of production, nor by the idea individuals may have about themselves, by what they are thinking or imagining... but can only be defined by the social and historical conditions that determine the proletariat to impose its own social project.
The proletariat, while being completely excluded from society where it only has its labour-force to cash in on, finds itself at the center of all material production in society, and it is this contradictory situation that pushes it to become the acting negator of the capitalist social relationship. It is in the proletarian condition that both, the complete capitalist dehumanization as well as the revolutionary struggle against this dehumanization, exist. The being that bears this tremendous historical and social determination, is the proletariat. For the proletariat, the necessity and the possibility to overthrow this system and to establish a human communist society, are one and the same!
On this subject also, our position differs radically as well from those who defend the workers-condition as from those who, although they criticize workerism, nevertheless reproduce the same shit by adopting its pure anti-thesisk, i.e. the defence of the abstract individual ("the fighter", "the communist") and his freedom, his choices, where all references to the historical and material conditions that determine our class to revolt itself, will have disappeared.
Even if the more "revolted" and more "voluntary" individuals (as they are defined by classical idealism) are also part of the revolutionary class, nevertheless they are only part of it, a contingent and immediate expression of it, and they do not represent the proletariat constituted as a revolutionary class. Of course, revolt, the refusal of submission, are at the basis of all struggle, but it is wrong to restrict the communist movement to a simple "revolt" (or even more so to "moral" revolt!). As we've already stated, communism is a movement of which the determinations go far back in time, in the histoy of class-societies. And these historical determinations (f.i. the attitude in front of the State) are much larger than the narrow framework (and the narrow perspectives that derive from this) of individual revolt against the ignominy of our situation as an "immediate class".
Communists organise themselves and direct their class and their struggles not to defend the partial interests of certain fringes of the proletariat, but to defend its general interests, the general aim of its movement. All their activities (and therefore those who they appeal to) are determined according to this goal. Such activities require a voluntary, conscient, organised, practical break with all immediatism, with all voluntarism... "to make the proletariat move"... "to organise oneself at all costs, no matter the perspectives"...!!! In this effect, our activities have nothing to do neither with those "who know" or "who wait" nor with those "who refuse". Because what we have here, is a very voluntary appreciation (only those who have the cultural, intellectual, material means to "refuse" can do so during a period of social peace f.i.) and this, as such, does not constitute a social force. "Refusal" is contingent, linked up above all to the particular nature of individuals and not to the essential universality of the proletarian condition.
The class situation of the proletariat is a contradictory situation that pushes it, often in spite of itself and in spite of the immediate consciousness it may have about the struggle it is launching (that's also why the organised, conscious, voluntary activities of direction assumed by communist minorities struggling for the internationalist centralization of the struggle, are so important!) to revolt itself against its condition as an exploited class. This struggle is a first step towards a reversal of the situation, towards a negation of the contradictory conditions that determine the proletariat. But such a reversal is dialectical and not statical or gradual. The positivist conception sees communism as a positive out-growth that already throws out its roots in the capitalist mode of production, developing itself within its bosom, and finally superseding it.
It is the whole question of reification, of the dynamic of the struggle, of the reversal of praxis and therefore also the whole question of the party that is being dodged by this "theory" of revolt. It is the anarchist ideology with its logic of individual struggle (cfr. Bonnot, Ravachol,...) that corresponds to this worship of revolt. For communists, even when there exist no open revolts, when the proletarians have abandonned the struggle and return back within the realm of democracy, nevertheless the fundamental antagonisms of capital do not disappear. We do not send back to back the proletarians (even when atomised) and the State, we do not send back to back for instance the workers in Poland when they returned to work and Walesa, or the english miners and Scargill!
The whole militant activity of the Party-Marx (against Proudhon, against Lasalle, against Bakounin) in order to bring to light the "real social condition of the proletariat", the "fundamental causes that have provoked the misery and the exploitation of the proletariat", the whole criticism of political economy that has allowed for our Party to practically show "that the class struggle necessarily leads to the dictatorship of the proletariat, and that this dictatorship itself is only a transition toward the suppression of all classes" is being denied by the anarchist and individualist conception that places the individual - and not a social class - at the centre of the struggle against this society. We are here at the heart of the marxist critique of capitalist society, as it opposes itself historically to the "utopian" and idealist currents.
Individualism is much more than just a theoretical poison produced by today's situation of proletarian withdrawal. Individualism is a practice. And this counter-revolutionary practice also attacks the communist movement. Revolutionary organizations are not save from this terrible reality. Actually, it would be more right to say that a revolutionary organization means the permanent struggle against the narrow-minded trust each one puts in himself just too easily. More than once, we've met comrades who just could not accept a real contradictory debate and who, in the face of criticisms, preferred to break with the organization so as to recover their sacred liberty of thought and action. Of course, these breaks were always justified because of "programmatical disagreements" but what really prevailed each time was the refusal of the contradiction and the will to be all alone with ones consciousness without having to render any account to anybody except oneself or to some monkeys that accept to play the game.
One can find the ideology of the individual in the Bakouninist theory of the organization within the organization (20). We ourselves have suffered from such disorganizing practices within the ICG. Its theory bases itself on the idea that the struggle for the Party, the struggle for the internationalist centralization of our forces, would be a permanent struggle of "fractions". But a confusion is being introduced here between the historical activities of the communist left fractions in order to break with counter-revolutionary organizations... and a practice of sect that consists, within a communist organization, in the gathering of the "masses" around oneself, on the basis of ones' own ideas!
The heart of the contradiction that, from rupture to rupture, allows for a communist organization to move forward, is not - in the end - the debate of ideas; it really is the clash between practical differences. Therefore one cannot on the one hand claim organic centralism and on the other hand create an organization within the organization so as to fight against the different decisions of the organization, while pretending that this is part of the historical practice of the communist fractions.
We have to denounce very clearly this practice of the organization within the organization (theorized by Bakounin) against which Marx has always fought. The tactics of the organization within the organization, of occult direction, of hidden authoritarianism... leads directly to federalism as a political conception. Marx has always denounced this classical idealist pretention to establish beforehand a formal elite supposedly guaranteeing the revolution. One can easily find this kind of conception with Kautsky, with Lenin, and even more so, with Stalin, Zinoviev and Bordiga. The individualist postulate that starts off from the idea that ones' own ideas are right, and therefore that all means (fractionism, federalism, lies,...) are also right in order to impose these ideas, is a reactionary postulate, a postulate of sectarism.
This has nothing to do with organic centralism! And only our practical attitudes, our practical activities allow us to check the ideas one may claim to have about organic centralism. Against all individualists, we reaffirm here that in communist organizations there is not any more liberty for fractionism than there is for the circulation of ideas. The constitution of a fraction within an organization and that leads necessarily to a break with this organization and to the constitution of another organization, is not a question of liberty, but of necessity, and such a necessity can only be justified in the case of a break with counter-revolution. But the aim of fractionism, of anti-organizational practices, or federalism, of the organization within the organization... and all this within a communist group, is not to clarify the contradictions and debates, but rather to drown them, to hide and to obscure the opposed practices behind debates about ideas!
So, what's really at stake here is not the struggle against counter-revolution but the struggle against revolution! Such sectarian and individualist logic that manages to scuttle so many of the real efforts to centralise the revolutionary forces today, can only result in the myth of the man of genius!
Its logic is quite simple: since - according to this theory - the invariant task of communists is to guarantee the communist positions by way of the fraction inside the organization, so one soon arrives at the need for the fraction inside the fraction... and in the end one arrives at the individual, the leader! It is clear to us that in reality this kind of logic can only lead to one thing: the reproduction of democracy with behind it its whole load of bureaucrats and followers. Since the real starting point here is the individual with his brains... so their can be no doubt about the means that will be used to impose his views: any means will do, including lies,...
It is clear to communist militants that only collective activity, the organization and the respect of programmatical discipline that materialize itself also in organizational discipline (21), the permanent confrontation in struggle... are the only ways that allow us to check constantly the progress in our fight against this society of the bourgeois individual with his bourgeois freedom! Sectarianism and individualism within a revolutionary organization must be firmly opposed because they destroy the confidence between militants, and this confidence can only result from the fraternal critique of the activities we have in common. Of course it's always much easier to put forward just any disagreement and to try to assemble some followers! (If a fraction had to be constituted for each disagreement that exists, necessarily, in a group, for sure there would at least exist 10 fractions for each militant!).
Sectarianism inside an organization necessarily reproduces free thought, the individual, division of labour (between those who've understood and the others),... reproduces democracy! It is much more difficult, but also much more passionate, to affirm our contradictions while putting forward what is really uniting us as members of the same community of struggle against the State. Revolutionaries are not philosophers that compete for a prize. Communism surges up from the real historical and material determinations; consciousness can only be the necessary product of a movement, of a force that rises spontaneously from and within history, from the soil of modern capitalist society. Consciousness is not the motorforce of history, with all due deference to idealists! Only the proletariat, while confronting its enemy, while organising itself as an international and centralised force, while constituting itself as a party, is the real subject of history!
Once more we want to ecpress our hatred of the democratic individual. Once more we want to express our hatred in front of this miserable bourgeois chimera with its scientist pretentions that always and everywhere rises up again to destroy the real links of class' interests that unite revolutionaries all over the world!
To the individualists and to the worshippers of consciousness, we oppose our certitudes about the revolution, our determination to struggle and our efforts to act for the affirmation of what is uniting us, proletarians, who try to constitute an organ of struggle that is an integral part of the historical communist movement that incorporates us and transcends us!
Free of everything, i.e. not possessing anything, free even to believe that he can do whatever he wants to, the individual, in the end, is nothing else but a commodity that sublimates itself by presenting the laws of free circulation that govern him, as the result of his own free and personal choices. He refuses to see that these laws have been imposed on him by the bourgeois in order to create the market or labour-forces. Free to be exploited by whoever he wants to, the individual simply "forgets" that this liberty is synonymous of his own exploitation and nothing else!
For us proletarians who know that we have nothing to win from this world of commodities, the individual is and always will be a traitor to our class, a scab, an enemy!
There can be no 2 programmes, one for communists and another one for proletarians! We do not cooperate with our enemies, and of course those are our enemies who on the one hand spit on the thousands of proletarians that Capital is keeping as hostages in its sinister cages, while proposing on the other hand the common resistence of "communist militants" against the State. Misery of idealism! This means that those groups are ready "to offer" their miserable solidarity only to those who they consider to be "communists". To put forward such ideological categories, stands in opposition to the invariant attitude of communists that has always been, for instance in the case of the communist left in Italiy, to manifest their solidarity with all those who fight against the State. That's how the italian left used to proclaim its solidarity with persecuted anarchists and "terrorists".
As we've been trying to show all along this article, it is idealism that is at the basis of all the distorsions of our positions operated by our detractors, whether they once belonged to our group or not. Idealism considers "the idea", "consciousness" to be the first determinations of action; it makes the idea of communism dominate on the real communist movement. And this is not justa mistake, a theoretical error, but it is first of all a practice, a totality that is entirely in contradiction with our militant activities! The idealist conception that is at the basis of all the deviations that we've mentioned, reinforces the anti-organisational practices. And it is those practices, those anti-militant forces, transcending the reality of our own existence as a group, that we have to fight without respite. This editorial constitutes another link of this struggle.
The internal fights against the whole of these anti-militant practices have seriously delayed the activities of our group. During the last year especially, we've lived a real phase of difficulties concerning he centralisation of our main tasks. For more than a year, we've had to fight against this stupid practice that takes the idea of communism, the idea of the party as the real starting point!
This is why as well the general "thesis of orientation" that we intended to publish, as the publication in different languages of our central reviews, have seriously been delayed. This real decentralisation of our activities constitute a weakness that we must now transform: to do this we'll use - by the publication of different texts - the lessons we draw from the struggles and debates that have animated the life of our group for the last few years.
For us, in any case, the struggle continues, and the idealist line whose promoters have now been excluded from our group, will at least have allowed us to make another step in the clear derinition and the necessary breaking from centrism, this counter-revolutionary force that appears in the guise of communism, but that in reality is just another attempt to destroy from the inside through anti-party activism - the necessary revolutionary centralisation!
An expression of the idealist line excluded from our organisation materialized itself through the publication of the article "L'Europe des Versaillais" in "Le Communiste" No25 and that we've criticized in this editorial. One can find another expression of this same idealist line in a pamphlet "Split with the ICG" that is being published, with our material help, by some other militants excluded from our group. We strongly recommend the lecture of this pamphlet because it expresses wonderfully well the idealist deviation we're criticizing. The first ones say we're bureaucrats and leninists, the latter say we're modernists and anarchists. We can only propose them to go and play their game of ideological ping-pong together. For sure, lots of tables remain vacant in the "revolutionary milieu".
- insufficient breaking off from this society in general and from what in Europe claims itself to be the "revolutionary milieu" in particular. This expressed itself particularly through the publication of texts that did not convey the general level of agreement developped by the group against this "milieu" as against its predecessor: social democracy! These texts only were shy criticisms of such centrist groups as the International Communist Party, the Internationalist Communist Current, and so on.
- real difficulties of these comrades to forge and assume our collective discipline.
(2) An explanation of this is the publication of those texts in which, far from trying to reflect the group's positions, the responsible comrade published his own positions and to do this, he used dupery and swindle!
(3) Internal discussions have allowed us to criticize this position and to centrally decide a change that expresses itself by the fact that the spanish version doesn't contain such an aberration: thus we affirm once more that what really makes the difference between proletariat and bourgeoisie, is the necessity of struggle against alienation and against all of capitalist domination. (cfr. "Comunismo" No22, p.18)
(4) Here it seems important to stress the same expressions Marx uses against the most subtile and developed theorizations of idealism: the humanist "materialism" or the young hegelians. It still is today the most developed philosophical expression (conscious or not) of the apology of the human being and of the individual.
(5) We won't be able to respect this decision in a near future because the comrades who could carry it through, do no longer belong to our group for the reasons explained in this text.
(6) We use the word "sectarian" not in the sense of the total opposition and the entire independence of the proletariat to this society, but on the contrary, in reference to the traditional meaning of the word as it refers to religious sects. Sectarian is the practice of groups that base their activities on "the politics of differences" and that have no other activities but to defend the social system they've builded up in their mind.
(7) The readers who understand french, can ask us and we'll send them "Le Communiste" No25 and 26.
(8) In this sense the editorial of "Le Communiste" No25 is in total contradiction with the quote published on the front page of the review: "For us communism isn't a state that has to be created nor an ideal according to which reality should adapt itself; we call communism the real movement that abolishes the established order. The conditions of this movement result from factors existing today." (Marx - German ldeology)
(9) In opposition to this use, the word "crisis" can be used in a much more generic and abstract and/or much more specific sense. Indeed, even if today the crisis is referred to mostly in the economic sense of the word (in opposition to the "political" crisis - i.e. in the sense of the crisis of domination of one bourgeois fraction or of the whole bourgeoisie - or in opposition to the "social" crisis - i.e. in the sense of the crisis of a social system as a whole - or still in opposition to the "revolutionary" crisis in the sense of a social and/or political crisis with the possibility for the revolutionary class to resolve this crisis in a revolutionary way) we must stress that for Marx the word "crisis" recovers different things: from the general contradictions of Capital itself (- and in this sense Capital is, right from its birth and until its death, in a state of permanent crisis -) till the end of a cycle of expansion that ends in a depression and, in this sense, the word "crisis" has a much more contingent meaning (short cycle of 8 or 10 years that coincides with the rotation of fixed capital).
(10) A good example is the period preceeding the insurrection of 1917.
(11) It is in the most extreme situations that the contradictions within the unity (one being) become the clearest.
(12) Despite all the problems and risks contained by the following parallelism, we'll take an example in the sphere of biology: the necessity of the organic body to be fed which is imposed by the digestive system without any democratic consultation between your big toe and your right ear! The necessities of the whole (our organic body) are never represented by the addition of its different atoms!
(13) A typical example of this are the huge congresses of workers' associations where hundreds and thousands of delegates talk about everything and nothing... to applaud in the end, as a great resolution, something that had been decided a long time before by... some leaders!
(14) Contrary to democratic centralism where each decision taken by a majority also means an approbation for those who are right - as if having the majority could be a valuable criteria! In communist centralism, a decision and its execution never imply in any way a judgment on the contents of the discussions. If there exist disagreements, the discussions will continue (in spite of the decision taken!) and develop themselves and the duty of the central structures of the organisation will be to stimulate this. Only further discussions and their centralisation will allow to check the decision and, if necessary, to criticize and change it.
(15) We cannot see any other way to set up an international proletarian structure and to have it assume the programmatical centralisation in spite of the necessity for a real geographical decentralisation, for an increase in publications in different languages and countries, and with the impossibility for easy communication and therefore in the absence of regular international discussions!
(16) Many times our enemies have reproached us the differences of position existing between our central reviews. Obviously this kind of problem doesn't exist in social democratic or stalinist organisations that only recognize a formal centre and where the different sections limit their activities to the translation of the already existing articles while they themselves only write articles about local problems. To us it seems unavoidable - in view of the general state of weak centralization that characterizes today's struggles -that all vanguard forces should reproduce, in one way or another, these same problems of international centralization. Those who think they are so superior to us and to the proletariat in general (indeed, do they not pretend to have solved already in their heads what the proletariat hasn't managed to solve yet in reality!) only sow confusion and serve the counter-revolution.
(17) As we've already stated, idealism is the perfect complement of vulgar materialism: for example, the idea of the external saviour, the party of bourgeois intellectuals,... is complementary to the social-economic and anti-party understanding of the proletarian class.
(19) We use the word "individual" in reference to the atom-citizen of bourgeois society, essential component of democracy! We use this term in the sense of the contingent individual, as it is subsumed by a class of society... and as it is historically opposed to the personal individual, the human being, component of a real community of struggle and of needs.
(20) cfr. the "Programme of international brotherhood" that was written in 1872 by Bakounin. It is one of the texts in which Bakounin defined his federalist strategy of the "organisation within the organisation": occult direction, construction of the Party from the top, hidden authoritarianism, different speeches in public and in private, different tactics inside the organisation, internationalism assumed only by the top of the pyramid,...
(21) We want to insist here on the organizational materializations of this discipline, because today, while all anti-organizational theories are more than ever in fashion, the anti-organizational practices also find their ideological justification in some kind of mystical discipline towards the "historical programme" and such an "historical framework" of course never takes a concrete and practical form but always remains locked up in the realm of the idea, of hegelian speculative philosophy.
They do not describe as terrorism:
Nothing is more "natural" for this system than millions of people terrorised into starvation by forces of repression, deprived of the power to get their hands on the means of subsistence. Nothing is more "natural" for this terrorist society than the fact that the cannibalistic application of human rights to combative proletarians is so effective that the number of "disappeared ones" in Latin America alone approaches one hundred thousand and the number of tortured and imprisoned people in the world can be counted in their millions. Nothing is more "natural" for capital than the fact that the main industry of the planet is the production of the means of collective terrorism, death and destruction, while the majority of its population have nothing to live on. Nothing is more "natural" for official democratic terrorism which exists everywhere than that defending its laws implies years in prison, torture or death for those who lake attempts against its sacred private property or its national economy by grabbing what they need, by paralysing production or organising against the right to work, for example by organising pickets and attacking scabs.
The citizen, receptacle and producer of this social "naturalness", defender of the laws and democracy of the national economy, is therefore prepared to lake one more step along the inevitable path followed by modern society. To be a citizen leads to participating in national mobilisation for the defence of state terrorism, collaboration and informing, and capitalist war.
During the capitalist epoch, numerous ideological forms have been used to strengthen the State's main advances towards generalised terrorism: the defence of civilisation, the fight for socialism of democracy, against fascism or communism, against chaos and disorder... But the best, the most appropriate form, for the principle of the democratic state's monopoly of violence, is direct attack on any questioning of this monopoly, any violent opposition to slate terrorism. The pinnacle and purest form of democracy is its total political monopoly, the state free of all ils enemies. This is the key to the whole social democratic program (1).
That's why anti-terrorism is the ideology par excellence of the terrorist state, though nonetheless it has to be served tip mixed with other values appropriate to all states (democracy), or particular to each, such as the defence of the Islamic revolution, of the free world, of socialism or of national liberation. Every anti-terrorist campaign, no matter who originates it. serves to maintain and reinforce State terrorism and transforms its instigators, regardless of their intention, into objective agents of state terrorism.
1. A general tendency, especially among the major powers, to terrorise their populations with a vague, monstrous enemy; "International Terrorism". Behind this terroristic tendency hides an attempt to dragoon and mobilise the population into local wars in which "their" state is involved. This is concretely expressed in:
3. Two things work alongside each other: the conditioning of public opinion, and political repression: to create an amalgam of guerilla actions against the population that they provoke themselves, and acts of proletarian resistance, with the aim not only of isolating combative proletarians but of gaining the active support of the population against any beginnings or the reemergence of the proletariat as a class.
This is to say that along with the state's anti-terrorist campaign, they try:
As we've often said, against this terrorist society, against generalised state terrorism, the liberating violence of the proletariat is not one option among others but a necessity. And not only in the sense that without it, the barbarism of this society would have no limits, nor in the sense that it is the only way of ending this endless barbarism, but also in that it is inevitable, that the violence of the oppressor predetermines and pushes the development of revolutionary violence (3).
It is this last point that totally contrasts our viewpoint to that of reformism.
In fact the "terrorists" of Lenin's or Plekhanov's terminology (4), expressions of the left wing of social democracy, also recognised the necessity of a violent struggle against the state. But for these two, violent proletarian struggle against the state was not an inevitable product of society and the day-to-day working class struggle against capital, but something that had to be introduced from outside. For social democracy the key problem is consciousness, for terrorist ideology, the question of examplary action. In both cases it is a matter of introducing from outside by means of an act of willpower, the need for a violent political fight against the state. For us, this is idealism, voluntarism.
As far as we're concerned, proletarian terrorism, the terrorism of the oppressed, is not the result of any external will. consciousness introduced into the class from outside, or of any kind of conspiracy, outside agent, instigator or manipulator. In other words, of any ideal (in the sense of made of ideas) mediation. On the contrary, it is the inevitable material reaction against exploitation and oppression; the dictatorship of the bourgeoisie. Between these two analyses of social reality there is a class line. The social democratic/terrorist explanation is unavoidably idealist and voluntarist; ours is based on the dialectical materialist evolution of society.
More than this: revolution contains neither violence nor terrorism but their abolition; not the elimination of this or that agent of violence, but the foundations of a society based on violence and terrorism. If the proletariat is driven to take up the use of violence against this society and all its agents, it is not because it is a positive expression of violence, but rather, because it is the negative pole of this society, against which, in the last instance, all violence is directed. As the destructive pole of the whole of society, the active negation, it cannot help but oppose generalised. institutional violence. Its centralisation into a violent force toward the end of establishing its class dictatorship is nothing but the development of this active negation, in which all the conditions for and forms of violence are negatively determined, and as negations, by the violence of this society (5). Therefore, nothing is more absurd than to pretend that class violence comes from revolutionaries or that their function is to create or import it. Revolutionaries don't "make" violence just as they don't "build" the revolutionary party. They don't "make" revolutions.
On the contrary, their function is to act as the most determined elements in this inevitable process which this society spontaneously engenders, in other words to take over in practice the leadership of the Party and the revolution.
To say it again, clearly and explicitly; the communists' acts of will do not aim to bring violence to the class, but to lead class violence towards the movement's correct objectives. This is the only way of shortening the interminable death agonies of this society and the birth pangs of the next. They act precisely so that the tremendous revolutionary energy that this society generates in the proletariat will not be squandered in thousands of more or less separate acts of individual terrorism, without a concerted strategy, some of which even weaken the movement. They act in this way to organise red terrorism in a single direction towards the insurrection and the class dictatorship, in order to prevent the continuous massacre which results from a war without leadership.
We take the opportunity here to make clear that there is no question of making concessions to the social democratic "movementist" ideology which leads towards classifying violence into, on the one hand. minority or individual violence, and on the other hand, and opposed to it, collective class violence. Individual violence is also class violence, and there is not one act in this society that is not stained with class. The murder of a boss, a wildcat strike, a picket that fights scabs, - all terrorist acts par excellence - (6) can be distinguished from and opposeed to all acts of state or para-state terrorism (reformist groups with a "terrorist" ideology).
Many of these acts may not correspond to the general interests of the movement, may be tactically inappropriate or lead to a dead end. This is unavoidable because of the circumstances in which the proletariat is forced to develop its violence. In most cases, the exploited is pushed around, cornered, and oppressed beyond endurance... and the anger of liberation generally expresses itself without tactical considerations. For this reason revolutionaries do not carry out, support or promote any individual act. even if they recognise them as belonging to their class. Revolutionaries may be for or totally against the advisibility and the meaning of an action. But thought they neither condemn an action nor applaud repression, it is not that they are indifferent. They offer active solidarity against state repression, and in parallel they defend the general objectives of the movement by attempting to concentrate all these forces exploding through the holes in the system, sometimes foolishly and irrationally, to lead them towards their real objectives: the struggle against capital and the capitalist state.
This position is from start to finish coherent with the voluntarist vision, and in the last analysis, police vision, common to the whole bourgeoisie and all slates, who are unable to understand the inevitable upsurges of uncontrollable expressions of proletarian violence and therefore are always trying to find the "agitators" behind them.
The reality is much more complex, precisely because proletarian violence in its elementary forms, prior to being organised and structured, "expresses itself" in all manner of forms, and explodes in multiple locations. Marx and Engels (who were never supporters of or apologists for revenge, individual murders, planting bombs in public places, etc.) recognised in these kinds of things class war. For example Engels, after listing a series of acts of this kind, said:
"Six attacks have been made in four months, and all have as their common cause workers' rage against the exploiters. What is the nature of the social relations that produce these events? I hardly need say it. These acts of violence show that class war is declared and that the fight is taking place openly and in public."
In today's world, there are thousands of examples of this kind of desperate elementary struggle against capital with no coordinating strategy (like a strike which does not attempt to generalise and whose participants are not conscious that it is a confrontation with the whole state). And although these actions in both content and form are proletarian and clearly opposed to those of the state or its agents, the proletariat doesn't recognise them as such and fails to make the distinction between them and individual terrorist actions carried out by different groups or agents of the bourgeoisie.
This objective and inevitable aspect of the current period, when the proletariat is atomised and unable to see itself as in international class and consequently unable to constitute itself as such, greatly facilitates the state's politics of "amalgam" and the consolidation of its terrorist anti-terrorist campaign.
However, we make clear that we do not say that terrorist actions of individual proletarians or groups permit the strengthening of the state like all the pseudo-working class pacifist groups do. On the contrary, WE SAY that the generalised decay of society and the explosive development of all its contradictions, which inevitably leads to the terrorist reinforcement of the state, continues to progress because the proletariat does not act as a revolutionary force (the only real limit to this tendency), and the expression of this general confusion in the proletariat prevents it from seeing the difference between its violence and its enemy's. and allows the slate to utilise its amalgam technique and reinforce its anti-terrorist campaign with the applause and collaboration of crowds of atomised proletarians (8).
In relation to this, it is not enough to talk about unavoidable material conditions, or of factual coincidences which make anti-terrorist politics possible and credible. It is necessary to discuss those deliberate, conscious, state police actions which have the aim of materialising this amalgam. Although we do not have a police vision of history, we know that the police participate in history. We would be blind if we didn't recognise the conscious, deliberate acts of manipulation, the direct interventions made by the state to give credibility to its general strategy of repression, confusion and amalgam. More than this, it is obvious that where the general interests of the bourgeoisie are involved, and taking into account all the historical lessons it has drawn from its experience, it acts in a more centralised, conscious, police fashion than one might have thought. For example the "death squads", wherever they work or have worked, are a general requirement of the state and would have been created in any case by some faction of capital. Nevertheless, it is important to remember that this general need has been consciously and overtly satisfied by the central apparatus of the state. Though we must avoid the danger of falling into a police vision of history, we should also not succumb to the idea that the "death squads" were organised by uncontrolled, autonomous bodies or by the famous "extreme right". In fact, in every case, they were organised by the whole of the State and in particular by the government, ministers, generals and top brass.
Knowing the general weakness of the proletariat in acting as a class, an independent force, the first thing that helps the state's amalgam technique is the formal coincidence between what the proletariat more or less confusedly sees as its enemies, and sometimes attacks, individually or in small groups, and the targets of nationalist groups, Stalinists, foquists. pseudo-revolutionaries and pseudo-communists (9): some parts of the slate, factories or other establishments, some particularly unpopular bosses. If we leave aside the fact that in most cases these actions, far from contributing to the movement, disorganise it (the aim of this article is not to demonstrate the disorganisation and passivity that is produced by spectacular exemplary activism), it is quite clear that it is these kind of actions, which try to get proletarians to become cannon fodder for imperialist wars, permit the central organs of the state (10) (and we repeat, seeing the general inability of the proletariat to put forward in the view of the whole population a clearly autonomous political line) to amalgamate any acts of proletarian resistance with the actions of bourgeois groups. The repression which follows, based on this amalgam, not only allows the state to present its viewpoint in general and equally in almost every case, but also liquidates the little bits of proletarian autonomy that were emerging: physical elimination, imprisonment... and those who escape are isolated, and have great difficulty avoiding the swamp of opposition nationalism (11).
When we take into account the total absence of any difference between the programmes of nationalists and their governments, we can see how easy it is to infiltrate and manipulate them towards the most central aims of the state, and towards the idea of oven collaboration with it (12). In some cases, the central repressive forces can even permit them to work in the general interests of the state against tendencies towards proletarian autonomy (13). But sometimes all this does not satisfy the central apparatus of the state, the bourgeois fraction that controls the government. Their particular factional interests and their general class interests drive them not only to finance, support and give logistic aid to this or that terrorist group, but even to organise "terrorist" actions (14) against another bourgeois fraction or, more likely, against the proletariat to terrorise it into supporting its general policy of repression. It is known, but not widely enough in our opinion, that the secret services of the major powers - like the CIA and the KGB - systematically participate not only in the creation of pseudo-para-police organisations, but also in direct outrages and armed actions against the imperialist class enemy. We don't lose any sleep over the successive attempts of the CIA to get rid of Fidel Castro or the systematic series of accidents which dispose of people like Torrijos or Samora Machel. That's their problem. In the same way, we don't believe the story they tell that the first world war began because of the Sarajevo assassination.
What's important for us are the direct attacks which are launched against our class, and what our enemies succeed in doing: mobilising our class for interests that are not its own on the basis of an endless succession of outrages centrally organised by the various national expressions of the international state.
Today's news is full of revelations about the direct complicity of the state's central apparatus in terrorist actions throughout the world. It is impossible to fully enumerate these. On top of this, we don't have, and don't need, all the details about the complicity of the legalised criminal conspiracies that all governments are made of. But we can give some examples. The anti-terrorist Mitterand, and the whole socialist government, planned the attack on Greenpeace down to the last detail. There is no doubt about it. The anti-terrorist Reagan was not content to give logistic and financial support to Nicaraguan guerillas, he also sponsored the perfect little saboteur's handbook produced by hit enemies. The fact that this man organised the bombing of Libya's two major towns is quite coherent with his defence of anti-terrorism. Israel preceded Reagan on this terrain. The bombing of a town is not considered a fact or war by that son of a bitch, Western public opinion, but merely an anti-terrorist action. The bombing of some PLO positions in Tunis (and who can say they only bombed the PLO?) was carried out with everyone's blessing. A bomb that killed a handful of soldiers guarding the military presence and the power of the US imperialist bloc is terrorism - the bombing of a town in response isn't, it's anti-terrorism. All the international channels of disinformation bombard us with this nonsense. And of course, in the other bloc, it's the same message but the other way round! It's so crass and absurd it seems impossible that anyone could believe it, but they do! The media is incredibly good at its job: they say what they're told to. In the West they say the occult figures behind terrorism are the Libyan, Iranian and Syrian governments. But today, none can deny that the Iranian terrorist leaders are unofficially armed by the USA, the leaders of Western Christian anti-terrorism, on the express orders of Ronald Reagan. But at the same time, although the heads of Syrian terrorism are armed by the French state (there are enough economic interests involved), the latter cannot accept the British state's view. And it doesn't Mop there. The French government leader, who was in charge during the second leg of the anti-terrorism campaign (the first being initialed by Mitterand at the beginning of his term in office), wasted no effort, and used every trick in the book of political amalgam, with the support of specific laws.
For example, he began his mandate with a general policy of challenges, detention and interrogation of proletarian militants - specifically directed against our group - justified by a so-called "outrage" that never even happened, but that the media treated as an established fact. He tenaciously defended military and commercial relations with Syria and the other Middle Eastern states, and then, after a lot of speculation about the latest wave of exceptional criminal outrages, he announced that it had been organised by the Israeli secret service. We do not doubt that this is possible, and we do not doubt that behind these outrages are the French secret service and/or their successive alliances and bust-ups with the other secret services of the Middle Eastern states.
In reality, we're not interested in who is behind each outrage. The interwoven economic interest that determine them in the last instance are too complex. This brief and by no means exhaustive survey only serves to put forward the point that behind all the anti-terrorist campaigns, the state openly pulls the strings, by stirring up or organising "terrorist" actions to achieve the objectives we've already mentioned and to reinforce general state terrorism, to make it quite clear that there is complete and total coherence between this terrorism and state anti-terrorism, and that all this is against proletarian violence, which is the only real and final brake on the generalised terrorism of today's society.
Faced with the omnipresent terrorism of the state. with the terrorism of all existing states, the dominant reality amongst the proletariat continues to be atomisation, passive contemplation of our enemies' inter-terrorist spectacle, in all its morbid and macabre detail, organised by the international channels of communication and cretinisation. Of course there are heroic proletarian acts that give rise to here a battle, there a strike which goes beyond all expectations and terrorises capital, there are various violent demonstrations which attack the centres of the state (as these lines were being written, there was a major new upsurge of proletarian struggle in many Algerian towns) etc... But these actions have no continuity, no common perspective, no coordinating plan. More than this, the different sectors of the international proletariat which engage in battle one after the other, don't yet feel that they develop one war for the same interests and against the same enemies (15) (we are not even talking of a class conscious of its universal project), and after a struggle, they return to the usual state of atomisation and powerlessness against capitalist barbarism. We have no doubt that these explosions will get bigger and become more important in the near future. But the problem is, how this intermittent community of actions and struggles which occasionally coincide, will transform itself quantitatively and qualitatively into a community of action and leadership with international perspectives, how it will coordinate and centralise itself, bow one can ensure its continuity, how it will give birth to the indispensible leadership, without which we will be on course for another defeat for the movement. The task of revolutionary militants is to answer adequately and practically to this gigantic historical challenge (16).
2. The so-called sanctions imposed on states which are accused of supporting terrorism, the ludicrous measures taken in the name of human rights "against" the South African state, the juridicial spectacle of the trial of those guilty of "excesses" in Argentina, are of course completely coherent with this state policy.
3. One should not look at this statement in a linear fashion. We are not supporters of the ideology that applauds state terrorism in order to "sharpen the contradictions" (this is vulgar materialism) because it is clear to us that counter-revolutionary terrorism can wipe out the proletariat as a class, by means of the accumulation of class defeats, though inevitably it will reemerge after a long period.
4. We reject the terminology which defends the existence of terrorism or terrorists in general. For us terrorism always has and always will belong to a class: there is revolutionary and counter revolutionary terrorism.
Nevertheless, there is an ideology posing as "revolutionary theory" which apologises for certain terrorist activity. This ideology is always linked to populism and reformism, and is still the basis of numerous pseudo-revolutionary groups around the world (most of which are clearly bourgeois and linked to a national state project). It was skillfully identified and criticised by Lenin in "Revolutionary Adventurism" (Works, vol. 6). The invariant characteristics of this voluntarist, idealist and mechanical argument are: the ideology of the "transfer of forces" according to which each terrorist act "sucks" energy from the state into the militants, the ideology which justifies the "invisible", "invincible", "elusive" individual as against the vulnerability of the "mass", the ideology of incitement and exemplary action... in the end a vision of history which substitutes the struggle between individuals, some of whom personify the state (the theory about which "contraption" will be the "heart of the state"), others personifying heroes, "revolutionaries", that is to say the struggle of organisation against organisation, where the proletariat is reduced to a mere mass of spectators, for the contradictions of capitalist society and the inexorable accentuation of class struggle (See our text in Le Communiste Nos. 17 and 19: "Critique du réformisme armé"). In Latin America, rural and urban foquism are obvious examples of this reformist, bourgeois ideology.
5. All determinations of proletarian struggle and, in the same way, its programme, are the practical negation of the system.
6. We take this opportunity to combat the ideology that associates terrorism with bombs and assassinations; the bourgeoisie is terrorised by all class actions that really show the emergence of the proletariat as a force.
7. The position of the real communist left was of course totally different. See "Bilan, A propos de l'affaire van der Lubbe", in Le Communiste No. 22.
8. Atomised "proletarians" who collaborate with the state. The attentive reader will notice an incoherence with our usual terminology. We wanted to describe a particular section of society (who have nothing to lose, and who do have an objective interest in social revolution) and this is why we didn't say citizen, people and population, like we usually do. We could also use the term "anti-proletarian", the most complete expression of which is proletarians killing each other in imperialist wars. It is the proletariat's capitalist negation, is against its revolutionary negation: the destruction of all social classes, and the communist self-abolition of the proletariat.
9. Like for example: the Colombian Revolutionary Armed Front or M19, the Sandinistas in the past in Nicaragua, the Montoneros and Tupamaros in the past in Argentina and Uruguay, ETA in Spain, the Red Brigades in Italy, the PLO everywhere, etc...
10. For us all these groups are an integrated part of the world capitalist state. We call the heart of the state in particular the government and the current heads of the repressive forces (which often change hands, e.g. the Sandinistas).
11. See "Exil, révolution et contre-révolulion" in Le Communiste No. 25.
12. For example, the endless nuances put forward by the Red Brigades: from the open collaborators to the "real" fighters, including the repentant, the disassociated, etc... See also the result of the arrangement between the military, the Montoneros and the Tupamaros who came to an agreement to right in common cause against "those who rob the nation" etc., "against economic inequality", or for a program of national "well-being", or again, the work of mobilisation for war carried out by the Montoneros during the Falkland war.
13. A good contribution on this theme and in particular about the Italian example can be found in the pamphlet "Prolétaires, si vous saviez - Le laboratoire de la contre-révollulion - ltalie 79/80".
14. As we explained at the beginning, for us every state action is terrorist: this is why we put sporadic and irregular terrorist action in inverted commas. Not to do this would be a concession to what we denounced at the beginning.
15. A sentiment that existed clearly and universally at the beginning of the century, in 1917-21, and to a lesser extent between 1967 and 73.
16. See the "Propuesta Internationale" in Communism No. 4, which is a contribution toward this aim.
"The point is not to free labour, but to abolish it."
- Karl Marx -
The word "labour" is the perfect, total example of the falsification of the human consciousness. Whereas man always defined, expressed, realized himself through his vital activity (what is life if not activity?), whereas man's realization can be achieved only through the materialization of his vital activity (creation of objects, ideas,...), the commodity system has confined this activity to its "labour" form. Capital has universalized this form and, as wage labour, it dominates the planet. Hence today, while labour has become the only way of survival for the vast majority, the only way for the proletariat to exist, the "labour" form becomes man's central vital activity, the universal activity around which everything evolves. As labour has become man's essential activity, the bourgeoisie teaches us that man's very essence is labour.
That is why the word "labour" (1) -which actually designates one particular form of human activity- now sounds like a perfect synonym for "activity", since for most people labour has really become the totality of their activity. Thus, "acting" means "working", while "being active" stands for "being hard-working", that is very efficient. The cynicism and hypocrisy of the bourgeois language is at its highest in phrases like "making money work", which suggest an hermaphroditic wealth that begets itself as if it were not the sweat and blood of those from whom surplus-value is extracted, the only source of enrichment for the capitalists that "make money work".
So when talking of "labour", it should be clear that using this term determines a category, a well-defined form of production of human activity, intrinsically linked to the commodity system; labour must be understood as the production of human activity, as an activity alien to man, to the manifestation of his life, and to the consciousness he has of his life; it is man confined to his situation of worker.
But the proletarian has not only become alien to the object of his activity, he has also become alien to his activity itself. Labour is indeed external to worker, and yet, since it is the only activity that provides him his means of subsistence in the capitalist system, he is forced to submit to it. Thus labour is par excellence unfree activity, it can only be forced and imposed.
"The alien character of labour emerges clearly in the fact that as soon as no physical of other compulsion exists, labour is shunned like the plague."So when he works, the worker does not affirm his own essence, but rather negates it. In the same way that he puts his life into the object and gets deprived of it, so he surrender his existence to the activity of production of this object.
(Marx - Economic and Philosophical Manuscripts of 1844)
"If then the product of labour is alienation, production itself must be active alienation, the alienation of activity, the activity of alienation. In the estrangement of the object of labour is merely summarized the estrangement of labour itself."Labour, the act of production in the capitalist system, thus transforms the worker's activity into passivity, his strength into powerlessness; eight hours a day of absurd activity directed against human essence and senses; self-alienation as the above-mentioned alienation of the object.
(Marx - Economic and Philosophical Manuscripts of 1844)
Loss of himself, loss of the object, and now loss of fellow men. Alienated labour makes man alien to the species (3). It alienates individual life from the species-life. The difference between man and animal lies in the fact that the latter identifies directly with its vital activity, "it is this activity". But man makes his vital activity itself an object of his will and consciousness. He has a conscious vital activity." (Marx - Economic and Philosophical Manuscripts oof 1844). As man's vital activity becomes alienated labour in the commodity system, the relation is reversed: the worker is now forced to make of his conscious vital activity -a mere means of subsistence- a means of existence!! Whereas the conscious vital activity should be man's expression of the realization of an objective world in which he sees his own reflection -this production being his active species-life, and a relationship between humans- alienated labour turns man's life activity into a mere production of riches.
"The consciousness which man has of his species is thus transformed by estrangement in such a way that species (life) becomes for him a means."Labour alienates man from himself, from his species-being and so from the other man confronting him.
(Marx - Economic and Philosophical Manuscripts of 1844)
"What applies to a man's relation to his work, to the product of his labour and to himself, also holds of a man's relation to the other man, and to the other man's labour and object of labour. In fact, the proposition that man's species-nature is estranged from him means that one man is estranged from the other, as each of them is from man's essential nature."This consciousness of human species of fellow man is shattered by capital. The expressions of class solidarity help draw the sketch of man's species consciousness: the man understanding that his own interests fit in with those of the community, the human being seeking to satisfy his needs and desires through the enjoyment of the collective being.
(Marx - Economic and Philosophical Manuscripts of 1844)
There is no reason at all why activity should be confined, alienated, externalized in the "labour" form, -no reason but one: the interest of the dominant class. The profit that the bourgeoisie gets from its domination keeps it from seeing further than its own egoistic interests. The social class that will set humanity free from alienated labour can only be the one that suffers the most from it. The universal emancipation of man depends on the emancipation of the proletariat, for in its relation to production, this class encompasses the whole boundage of humanity.
"A class with radical chains, a class in civil society that is not of the civil society, a class that is the dissolution of all classes, a sphere of society having a universal character because of its universal suffering and claiming no particular right because no particular wrong but unqualified wrong is perpetrated on it; a sphere that can claim no traditional title but only a human title; a sphere that does not stand partially opposed to the consequences, but totally opposed to the premises of the German political system; a sphere, finally, that cannot emancipate itself without emancipating itself from all the other spheres of society, thereby emancipating them; a sphere, in short, that is the complete loss of humanity and can only redeem itself through the total redemption of humanity. This dissolution of society existing as a particular class is the proletariat."This historical task of freeing humanity from labour, of resolving, once and for all, all antagonisms between man and nature, among men, between man's activity and his enjoyment, between the individual and the species therefore rests with the proletariat organized as a class, hence as a party.
(Marx - Critique of Hegel's philosophy of right)
"Labour itself, not only in present conditions but universally insofar as its purpose is merely the increase of wealth, is harmful and deleterious."Instead of the reactionary watch-word "an equal pay for an equal working-day", Marx was already impelling us to inscribe the revolutionary watch-word: "Abolition of wage labour". In the same way, instead of claims "work for all", we put forward the invariant watch-word from the communist program: "Down with labour!!"
(Marx - Economic and Philosophical Manuscripts of 1844)
"In all revolutions up till now, the mode of activity always remained unscathed and it was only a question of a different distribution of this activity, a new distribution of labour to other persons, whilst the communist revolution is directed against the preceding mode of activity, does away with labour and abolishes the rule of all classes with the classes themselves."Communism destroys the mode of activity specific to the capitalist system: labour, the essence of private property. And while it abolishes labour, it abolishes the organization of leisure as an indispensable complement of alienated labour. By leisure, we mean the time given to the proletarian for the reproduction of his labour-power. Just as wages represent the maintenance of the worker and must be considered only as the necessary "greasing" for the pistons to function, so leisure has only one utility, as an outlet for the tensions accumulated during the labour-activity. Leisure has nothing to do with free time, since for the worker the point is to prepare his forces to be more efficient to allow ever more intensifying exploitation. Leisure corresponds to the necessity for the worker to be in fine fettle on Monday mornings. Because of his work, man no longer knows the true sense of his vital activity and during his "lost" hours he will only reproduce an activity "mirroring" alienated labour, so that this part of his time, of his so-called "free" activity, does not contradict the "working" part. Externalized inactivity can only correspond to externalized activity; externalized leisure to externalized labour. Capital matches working time against leisure time, it separates the two activities but also renders them complementary. Schooltime already prepares for this separation: "You should work hard and play hard, but never do both at the same time!" But human activity is a totality. In this sense, the communist society has nothing to do with any sort of leisure society, the idealization of the "positive" pole of bourgeois society. To the separation labour/leisure, communism opposes vital activity as enjoyment, enjoyment as activity.
(Marx - The German Ideology)
"Activity and enjoyment are social in their content as well as in their origin; they are social activity and social enjoyment."In primitive communism, the same term was used for "work" and "play". In the same way, communism abolishes oppositions between working time and leisure time, between production and apprenticeship, between living and experiencing. This description does not come from any idyllic anticipation, from any idealistic vision of the future, but it does result from the very movement of history and of the world. This movement is in no way subjectal to chance; it is the fantastic development of the productive forces that makes communism a possibility, a necessity for today.
(Marx - Economic and Philosophical Manuscripts of 1844)
The abolition of labour as externalized human activity is an essential part of the communist programme and the proletariat will accomplish this human task through its affirmation as the dominant class so as to negate all classes. It is against the 40 hours working week, the torturing alarmclock, the distressing search for a job, the redundancies, the time spend packed like sardines in the underground, the hellish pace of work, private property, the exploitation of man by man,... that we will use our strength, our knowledge and our determination for the building of a labour-free society, a communist society affording the community the free disposal of its time for the realization of Human activity.
"Another source of demoralization among the workers is their being condemned to work. As voluntary, productive activity is the highest enjoyment known to us, as is compulsory toil the most cruel, degrading punishment. Nothing is more terrible than being constrained to do some one thing every day from morning until night against one's will. And the more a man the worker feels himself, the more hateful must his work be to him, because he feels the constrain, the aimlessness of it for himself."
(Engels - The condition of the working-class in England - 1854)
2. For the definition of "externalization", see the article: "From man's alienation to human community".
3. The species should be understood as man understanding himself as man, the consciousness that the human individual has of the human species.