Down with the Bourgeois Republic! Down with Its Constitution! – Amadeo Bordiga

Down with the Bourgeois Republic! Down with Its Constitution! – Amadeo Bordiga

An article from 1947 by Amadeo Bordiga in which he discusses the debate over the constitution of the new Italian republic, the role of religion and secularism in Italian history, the opportunism of the Communist Party, “conformism” in Italian politics, the incompatibility of religion and socialism, the idolatry of the “sacred and inviolable” rights of the “Individual”, the fraud of political decentralization (which he correctly saw as opening the door of politics to the Mafia), the “demagogic appeal to labor” in modern “totalitarian” ideologies (the goal of the workers movement is “a society founded not on labor, but on consumption”), the illusion of self-management, etc.

Down with the Bourgeois Republic! Down with Its Constitution! – Amadeo Bordiga

Introductory Note

The following text was written by Amadeo Bordiga and was first published anonymously in Prometeo, the newspaper of the International Communist Party, in 1947. It was originally written in response to the debate over the form of the constitution and the legislature in Italy after the fall of fascism and the proclamation of the Republic and Italian democracy. We think it is a very interesting text for many reasons. One analogy with our situation, in the light of 15M and the crisis of the regime that was born in 1978 in Spain, is the rise of illusions concerning proposals oriented around a “constituent assembly” and “an assault on the institutions”. With his usual mastery Bordiga demolishes the idea that we, the exploited and oppressed, must beg for a place and recognition in the institutions of the oppressors, the bourgeoisie and capital. With respect to this question, see his analysis of Article 1 of the Italian Constitution—“Italy is a democratic republic based on labor”—which is simply masterful; we are inspired as we follow with rapt attention the reasoning and the logic of the Neapolitan communist. Another aspect of his analysis is directly associated with the specific objective that we have as proletarians in the struggle for our liberation: our negation as an exploited class, the negation of class society. And we are also interested in the indivisible unity that Bordiga establishes between principles and practice for those of us who aspire to radically transform this decomposing world. For us, unlike bourgeois politicians and the monks and priests of all religions, a dualistic split between theory and practice, between dogma and life, is not permitted. And we are also interested in his reflections on secularism and the religious question, which are so strikingly pertinent if we consider the current wave of Islamophobia or the recent debates raging around the hijab worn by Moslem women in public places in France. At a time when it would appear that the defense of the principles of secularism of the bourgeois revolutions is the most radical demand that can be expressed, we uphold the really up-to-date idea of communism.

Colectivo Germinal

***

Down with the Bourgeois Republic! Down with Its Constitution! 1

The debate on the Constitution of the Italian Republic has been defined as a compromise between different, opposed ideologies. Nitti,2 with his subtle malignance, has distributed among the majority of his comrades, many of whom are much younger than he is, an authoritative license of stupidity, clowning around with a combination of Christian morality and Marxist dialectic. Obviously we are always being told that politics is only the art of compromise, that the problem today is nothing but politics—politics d’abord3—and that questions of principle were fashionable thirty years ago, but today all those who make politics their profession consider such questions to be old-fashioned, and we constantly hear the old left-wing militants ask with long faces: Won’t you consider debating questions of theory among the masses?

Let us set doctrinal matters, and the clear-cut position that religious doctrine and socialist doctrine are incompatible, aside for the moment. We shall mention only one factor that indisputably constitutes an advantage for the Christians and the believers, which they can throw in the faces of the obstinate Marxists. Anyone who follows a religious system is a dualist, that is, he puts things of the spirit and things of the material world on two different planes and two different worlds. He does not allow any compromises with respect to the dogmas that are the object of his faith, and he is perfectly capable of keeping them safe in a spiritual and theoretical domain, while he traffics in the ordinary realm of practical actions, facts and material interests. This advantage is one of the foundations of the great historical power of the Church, which is adaptable and mercurial in its policies and its social activity, but absolutely rigid when it comes to the cornerstones of theology. Hence the Christian, who, as a political militant, mixes up contradictory directives in questions of the terrestrial State and relations between classes and parties, does not betray his principles, or at least is not obliged to admit that he has subordinated his respect to matters that are hardly appropriate.

But such is not the case for Marxists, whose system is based on the direct derivation of ideologies from the very same material world in which the facts, and the relations of interests that become real forces, arise. They do not possess a convenient vault where their doctrine can be preserved intact, while they traffic in practical affairs with their enemies in the real world. But when the delegates of opposed parties and of opposed classes chaffer among themselves and converge on compromise agreements between their party positions, anyone who follows or says he follows historical materialism has no right to contest the fact that the “compromise of principles” that Marx and Engels accused the social democratic programs of engaging in is actually happening now, since practice, in the effective mechanism of collaboration, can only correspond in the minds of men with an equal contamination and mixture of opinions.

***

Let us now examine some of the most noteworthy questions that are being debated with regard to the new constitution, without adding anything new to what is being said in the texts emitted from the ongoing compromise negotiations, or more accurately, the maneuvers, which are now from the theoretical point of view simply pious wishes in substance as well as in form; let us therefore attend to the concrete relations and to the play of historical forces.

Let us first address the question of the secular nature of the State, which has been reduced to the subtle but fallacious argument over whether or not the Pact between Italy and the Pope engineered by Mussolini will be mentioned in the Constitution,4 although everyone agrees that it will be respected.

Nothing is more correct than to consider the Roman Question to be historically defunct, and nothing is more vain and sterile than to want to use this stale issue to resuscitate the old battle between the anti-clerical blocs, a practice that the Marxist socialists had already liquidated before 1914 by breaking with the ideologies and politics of the Masonic bourgeoisie. In this sense, both socialist parties5 have demonstrated the same vacuity and the same authentically reactionary, extremely right-wing, content of this position, which they share with the little republican groups and their ilk, and with one or another liberal cadaver.

The question has been historically superseded on a social scale, if one considers the general evolution of capitalism and of Church policy; and especially if we consider the vicissitudes of the Italian State.

The bourgeois revolution which first established the democracy encountered in the Church an obstacle and an adversary of the first order, given its organization, its hierarchical regimentation, and its wide-ranging economic function due to the fact that it constituted a united bloc with the aristocratic feudal regime. The bitter economic and social struggle between these forces was reflected in an ideological struggle, since bourgeois philosophy was anti-religious and the politics of the victorious young capitalist class was anti-clerical. Attempts to restore the old regime enjoyed the support of the Church, and this is why all the measures implemented by the bourgeoisie to reinforce their own class conquests were resolutely anti-clerical. However, when the clergy understood that it was no longer socially possible to prevent the victory of capitalism, it stopped excommunicating its partisans and accommodated itself, in a more or less complicated process with respect to the details, with the new privileged order. The theoretical contrast between religion and the foundations of bourgeois economics and politics was at first a somewhat disturbing factor but later disappeared, as a reflection of the alliance between the general staffs of capital and the Church. But this is not the place for an in-depth demonstration of the fact that there is no contradiction at all between capitalist right and ethics and a religious view of these matters.

The working class, the revolutionary ally of the nascent bourgeoisie, yielded for many years to the temptation to indulge in literary and rhetorical Jacobinism, and the essence of the policy of the Freemasons was to use this anti-clerical obsession to lead the proletarian movement astray from the class struggle and to obscure the real goal of proletarian politics, once the proletariat had emerged from its childhood and acquired a historically independent movement, which consisted in the principle of the crushing of economic and social privilege.

In Italy this process unfolded in the ways with which we are all familiar. The national State was not formed in the pre-bourgeois period, and among the causes for this one must mention the fact that Italy was where the Church with the most extensive worldwide reach had its headquarters. The young united bourgeoisie was tremendously anti-papal and anti-Catholic: in 1848 it had no qualms about expelling the Pope from Rome and in 1870 it did what everyone knows.6

The Catholic Church in Italy was therefore obliged to scale back the pace of its general historical maneuver of blessing the advent of the capitalist regime and coming to terms with it. From Cavour to Mussolini, however, the process finally concluded in just the same way it concluded everywhere else.

The nature of the Catholic method was illustrated yet again. Fascism, with its dubious ideological characteristics was unacceptable for Catholic doctrine because of its attempt to replace religious values with new myths, with its mysticism of the nation and the State, a project that was carried out much more radically in Germany. But the practical policy of fascism offered an opportunity to consolidate the influence of ecclesiastical regimentation and the Church rapidly took advantage of the new regime. The mechanisms of fascism and the Catholic Church in the social-economic order converged in a single conservative praxis, and this was what really mattered.

This status is not at all disturbing for today’s little republic, whose reformism and progressivism actually began their history by following the same road.

But how could today’s Italian government, without any effective sovereignty and entirely lacking material force, more or less delegated or tolerated by the great powers of the world, be permitted to introduce novelties and engage in initiatives on this terrain? Evidently, in the new historical climate following the two world wars, in which the ruling institutions of the Italian bourgeoisie were confronted with the prospect of seeing their goose cooked for good, it was not long before Italy had an international Law of Guarantees, similar to the national law of 1871 that arose from the joint regulation of relations between the various Catholic States and regions of the Peninsula and the Vatican. The latter only asserted its rights as an equal party in a contract with Italy, as in the puerile fiction of the famous Article 7,7 but on a higher level.

In the modern, totalitarian phase of capitalism it is easy to predict that there will be worldwide planned regulation, and that it will include the religious factor. Alongside the UN we will probably see a UC (United Churches).

The Church of Rome does not control the majority of the believers in the most powerful nations of the world: the United States, England, Russia. It can only aspire to a unitary Christian function. In its political action it takes the form of parties with names like “Christian Democrats”, “Social Christians”, “People’s”, but never “Catholic”. It does not thereby compromise its doctrine, since the Reformation was a question of dogma and rituals, but the social ethic can be the same for all Christians, even for all religious peoples, when the attempts that took place after the previous war in favor of a united Church were repeated in a new form. Now there is talk of a Christian International. A major country with a predominantly Catholic population, France, which would seem to have been won over to militant atheism for decades, has seen a powerful Catholic party rise from out of nowhere.8

In our Marxist view we consider that the reformed churches arose in conformance with an anticipated adherence to the belief system of the nascent bourgeois world, and today the Roman Church, reconciling itself with the world regime of Capital, has placed itself on the same level as its predecessors in this regard. The latest episode of this historical about-face was the Lateran Accords. It would be naive to express surprise that the Statute of the Republic should be bound to the Vatican even more closely than in the case of the Monarchy. The question is idle, and in this respect Togliatti is right.9

The liberal slogan of secularism is a joke. One may speak of secular individuals when all of society was controlled by a religious hierarchy and the clergy were in power, not only exercising censorship over political and juridical decisions but also scholastic and cultural matters, monopolizing these functions through a stable and crystallized formal organization. By trying to act outside of these rigid frameworks and overcoming their ferocious conformism, figures like Dante, the humanists of the Renaissance, Galileo, Vico, Bruno, Telesio and Campanella performed truly secular tasks, even though some of them were monks. The first secular figure in the Western World was Christ, who opposed the priestly cabals of the scribes and the Pharisees. Cavour and the Albertine State had to be secular,10 since they had no choice but to fight to break the resistance of the powers of divine right on the peninsula, the investitures of Rome and the landed estates in “dead hands”.

Now that the Syllabus11 is no longer strictly applied to the official capitalist economy and Napoleonic-Roman law, all those who, even if they boast of their vague reformist and progressive initiatives, do not take a stand in an institutional struggle from the outside to assault and overthrow the authorities and hierarchies of the established order, all huddle under the same umbrella.

The very fact that one hundred deputies could draft a constitution is a symptom of this stage of conformism. When, historically, constitutions had a purpose and a content, they followed in the wake of revolutionary struggles and were their reflections, and they were written in haste, impelled by the flames of action. They endorsed in the form of handbills the declarations of a new victorious class, whose principles stood in stark contrast with the past, and a homogeneous group affirmed them and proclaimed them in the form of ideologies with distinct contours. In a subsequent epoch the constitutions that made concessions with respect to principles merely recognized irrevocable revolutionary situations, even when the struggles were not as clear-cut or even victorious.

Today, all the signori of Montecitorio12 are equally conformist: priests one and all. None of them are voices of “secularism” in the historical sense. A complicity worthy of a religious conclave binds them together, amidst all their conflicts, intrigues and plots.

The worst thing about the attitude of the “communists” in the Constituent assembly is therefore not the fact that they have discarded the thesis according to which a bourgeois and democratic-parliamentary State like this poor Italietta13 might one day find itself under the wings of the Church, a historical confirmation of the bridge created between the capitalist regime and religion. The worst thing is their claim to have created a somewhat different kind of bridge that connects the socialist proletarian regimes and religious belief. In this respect their disavowal of Marxism is repeated and once again confirmed.

We shall provide just one historical example, Russia. Not only has it allowed Freedom of religious conscience14 (what place is occupied in dialectical materialism by terms like “freedom”, “conscience” and their correlates?), but the Church itself, having renounced the defense of the old Czarist regime with which it was allied, is today recognized by the State, and its propagandists collaborated with the national propaganda program during the war, and helped to drive the masses of soldiers to the battlefield.15

The question is of an impressive scope. It begs two conclusions: either Togliatti’s, that religion and socialism are not antithetical, or the other, that we are in the presence of yet another proof of the fact that the Moscow regime no longer has a socialist and proletarian character. Another placid truth is the fact that in order to drive millions of human beings to the slaughterhouse of war, a faith in the beyond is a precious factor.

Since all the politicians and journalists are asking themselves what the leader of the Italian communists is thinking when they are caught off-guard—which is not at all rare—by his shifting positions and theses, we shall try to enlighten them by saying that he will in the future investigate his concrete mind,16 and he will ask himself if the ecumenical world church of the future will or will not be a monopoly and a powerful advocate of the western bloc. The present competition, along with the utilization of the wave of hatred directed against fascism and Nazism, is now combined with another kind of competition, as old as human history, the competition for the popularity of the good God. Who will be most capable of using this weapon for the benefit of their flag and their commerce? Unfortunately, the storehouse of wisdom of the Roman Curia and the tenacity of the pestilent Anglo-Saxon Puritanism lead us to perceive that the balance is tipping in favor of the side opposed to palmiresco.17 Togliatti is compelled to concede something to belief in God, and de Gasperi18 endorses this change, but with the casual reservatio mentalis that God does not pay for work on the Sabbath…. There will always be some dumb hick who thinks that his stupidity was caused by the cure.

***

The numerous, badly organized Articles of the proposed constitution, and the touch-ups applied to them with the parliamentary method, offer us too many targets for critique, and more than ever before have demonstrated their putrescence.

An attempt was made to give all the groups of the current political scene, derived, as they seek to persuade the public, from the defeat of fascism, a common content by finding a note, at least one note, that is acceptable to all of them. If we are to proceed in a sense contrary to the fascist idolatry of the state, we have no recourse but to begin with the Individual, and the sacred and inviolable dignity of the human person. And furthermore, to more effectively provide a semblance of bureaucratic decentralization with the creation of other parasitic and confusionist—if not camorrista19—institutions of the kind that the regional governments will be. All of these themes lend themselves to suggestive illustrations.

Let us put theory aside for a moment. In the meantime, the most outstanding characteristic of present day reality resides more than ever before in the entrapment and suffocation of the poor individual, that wretched person, in the narrow hallways of government offices, and the less important States are losing in every domain any remnant of independent function, as a consequence of the pressures and brutal interventions of the most powerful state leviathans (see the latest episode that took place in Greece and Turkey);20 this is why we laugh at attempts to engage in reconstruction based on the role of the lacerated freedom of the individual and the region.

On these “sacred and inviolable” principles, in the nirvana of conformism, all the multi-colored ideologies converge in Montecitorio: transcendentalists for whom it is a matter of fundamental importance to concede free will to the individual (because otherwise how can he go to hell after he dies?); immanentists who, based on the freedom of the EGO that is realized in the ethical nature of the State, must derive the faculty of having disposal over either one’s own patrimony or one’s own labor, that is, the freedom to buy or sell human time; and materialists and positivists who, having once and for all perfected a shapeless pastiche of Marxism, on the one hand with the most vulgar cynicism, and on the other with the most sentimental philanthropy, are unfamiliar with the manifold uses of the word freedom, which might lead their readers to make the stupid mistake of designating them as the replacements for Mussolini’s hierarchy.

When something becomes “sacred and inviolable” for everyone, since more than four hundred speeches will endorse it, yet not one will attempt to challenge it, this is indisputable proof that everyone is laughing at it just as unanimously. It finally provides some comfort to the citizen, the voter who is paying, at black market prices, for the compilation of the constitutional charter.

***

Now we come to the main course of the economic and social content of the republican constitution. We thus note the bold step of mentioning here and there, along with the citizen, the worker as well. Do we have a republic founded on labor and on the workers? Both, since all the bourgeois States of our time are based on the exploitation of labor, and the exploitation of workers by capital. Just as the foundations support the weight of a building, the Italian workers bear on their shoulders the weight of this failed republic.

The expressions are felicitous. The most convenient one was unfortunately already exploited by the fascists: “Italy is a social republic.”21

This evolution of attitudes is perfectly consistent with the whole development of the bourgeois cycle. In its early days the democratic mentality and order did not tolerate any talk of workers rather than citizens, of a social rather than a political question. The citizen may believe that he is equal to all the other citizens; the worker understands that he is a slave. The politics of Capital is equality of rights, its sociology is exploitation.

For the last century, however, the bourgeoisie, now that it has had to fight a defensive battle, has had the merit of changing its polemical targets. First, reformism, then fascism brought social measures and labor to the social stage: this is not the place to prove this, a task which is central for us as research and analysis.

The pure liberal and the pure Jacobin no longer exist. The economic trade union, prohibited in the initial praxis of the bourgeois revolution, was later allowed to exist, then it was corrected, and later regimented within the State. The free play of economic initiatives that initially was a sacred canon (the real-world version of the hollow inviolability of the person), without any external control, is undergoing increasingly more crude and direct interventions on the part of political power in the name of the social interest!

But in opposition to this purely social-interventionist liberal bourgeois world, can we, as committed socialists, put forward an ideal, a myth, a demagogic appeal to labor and the worker? Never! This is another point that deserves clarification and liberation from stubborn incrustations.

When slaves fight to emancipate themselves, do they propose to create a republic of slaves or a republic without slaves? Today’s workers are fighting for a society without wage workers!

We would be philosophizing if we were to define labor as general human activity affecting nature without immediately deducing from this postulate the analysis of the different social relations within which labor is embedded. The proletarian struggle does not tend towards the exaltation, but rather the diminution of the expenditure of labor, and it is based on the enormous resources of contemporary technology in its advance towards a society without imposed labor, in which the contribution of each person will be made in the same way as any other activity is explained, gradually eroding the barrier between production and consumption, between toil and enjoyment.

It is not by chance that the fascist regimes were always talking about labor and that the Charter of the Mussolini regime was called the Charter of Labor. The same false demagogy guides the “social” praxis of the most modern regimes. Where all of them write social demands, we read: bourgeois class demands.

The working class cannot consider the announcement of the entry of workers into these institutions as its own victory.

The transitional program of the communists between the capitalist epoch and the socialist epoch is not a republic in which the bourgeoisie allow the workers to participate, but a republic from which the workers expel the bourgeoisie, while they await their own expulsion from society itself in order to create a society founded not on labor, but on consumption.22

The political postulate of the working class does not consist in finding its place in the current constitutional State, since those positions are not for them, for “the oppressed are allowed once every few years to decide which particular representatives of the oppressing class are to represent and repress them.” (Marx).

Nor is its social postulate to find a place in the management of the enterprise. Not even the factory is the ideal towards which the conquest of socialism tends. Whereas Fourier called the capitalist factories “mitigated prisons”, Marx, discussing the English “houses of terror” for the poor, says that this ideal was actually realized during the period of bourgeois manufacture: and its name was the factory! All modern reformism concerning productive technique always has as its object the product rather than the worker; perhaps not everyone has heard that the most modern automobile factories in the United States are being built without windows because atmospheric dust interferes with mechanical processes that require precision, as is also the case in an environment affected by the ambient temperature, humidity, etc. From the mitigated prison to the tomb.

As for the Russian methods of piecework, we are reminded of a passage from Marx:

“… in the Engineering Trade of London, a customary trick is ‘the selecting of a man who possesses superior physical strength and quickness, as the principal of several workmen, and paying him an additional rate, by the quarter or otherwise, with the understanding that he is to exert himself to the utmost to induce the others, who are only paid the ordinary wages, to keep up to him….’” (Capital, Vol. I, Part 6, Chapter 21, footnote 8).

Enough already with squeezing the workers, inciting the masses with methods derived from those that were applied to slaves, if not those characteristically applied to cattle being driven to the slaughterhouse; in any event, no one is obliged by this constitution to believe oneself sacred and inviolable, any more than one is obliged to believe that one will come back to life after being eaten.

Amadeo Bordiga
1947

***

Translated from the Spanish translation of Colectivo Germinal in October 2017.

Source of the Spanish translation: http://colectivogerminal.org/727-2/.

The original text in Italian, “Abbasso la repubblica borghese, abbasso la sua costituzione”, is available online at: http://www.sinistra.net/lib/bas/promet/veji/vejidcebei.html.

  • 1. Prometeo, No. 6, March-April 1947.
  • 2. Francesco Saverio Nitti (1868-1953) was an Italian politician, a member of the Radical Party, and Prime Minister for almost exactly one year (June 1919 to June 1920), during the decisive period of the biennio rosso, characterized by the rise of the proletariat in the context of the world revolutionary wave unleashed in 1917. His political savvy, together with that of the liberal Giolitti, was decisive in the democratic subversion of the struggle, confining it to the factories and the national legislature (by way of the elections that were won by the Italian Socialist Party) [Spanish translators’ note].
  • 3. “Politics above all”. The original expression is in French [Note of the Spanish translators].
  • 4. A reference to the Lateran Accords signed by the Papacy and Mussolini (1929), which put an end to the so-called Roman Question; until then, ever since 1870, when Rome was conquered by the Kingdom of Italy based in the Piedmont, the Popes had considered themselves to be “prisoners in the Vatican” [Note of the Spanish translators].
  • 5. Bordiga is referring to the existence of two socialist parties in 1947, the historic Italian Socialist Party led by Pietro Nenni, and the Italian Social Democratic Party of Giuseppe Sagarat, which split from the PSI in protest against the latter’s decision to join the Italian Communist Party in a Popular Front electoral slate in the 1948 elections. The Italian Social Democratic Party was a regular partner in the various governments of Italian Democracy during the First Republic [Spanish translators’ note].
  • 6. Bordiga is referring to the Roman Republic that was established in 1849 after the flight of Pius IX, in the context of the European revolutions of 1848. The Republic was destroyed by the intervention of the French Republic under an army commanded by Louis Bonaparte, the future Napoleon III. With respect to the events of 1870, Bordiga is referring to Italian unification and the Roman Question mentioned in Note 4 above [Note of the Spanish translators].
  • 7. Bordiga is referring to the Article of the Italian Constitution that reads as follows: “The State and the Church are, each in its own order, independent and sovereign. Their relations are regulated by the Lateran Accords. Modifications of these Accords, if they are accepted by both parties, do not require Constitutional proceedings for their ratification.” [Note of the Spanish translators.]
  • 8. A reference to the Popular Republican Movement (MRP) of the French Fourth Republic. One of its leaders was one of the founders of the European Economic Community (the Common Market), Robert Schuman [Note of the Spanish translators].
  • 9. The position of the PCI, led by Togliatti, was to approve Article 7 of the Italian Constitution: “This policy is the one that corresponds best to the Italian nation”, he would say in its parliamentary defense of the national-communist vote in favor of the constitutional recognition of the Lateran Accords. [Note of the Spanish translators.]
  • 10. A reference to the Piedmontese king Carlo Alberto of Savoy who would proclaim the Albertine Statute in the context of the revolutions of 1848, which would provide the constitutional framework for the rule of the Piedmontese monarchy. Cavour was the Piedmontese politician who led the movement for Italian unification until his death in 1861. [Note of the Spanish translators.]
  • 11. The 80 Theses drafted by Pope Pius IX in opposition to liberalism, civil marriage, atheism, communism, etc. [Note of the Spanish translators.]
  • 12. The site of the office complex of the Congress of Deputies in Italy. [Note of the Spanish translators.]
  • 13. We retain the original Italian term, which implies that Italy is a provincial and ignorant country. [Note of the Spanish translators.]
  • 14. We retain the capital letter “F” as in the original. [Note of the Spanish translator.]
  • 15. During the Second World War the Orthodox Church supported the Stalinist regime, and its bishops and priests were authorized to bless the flags of the military units on their way to the front. In 1943, the Holy Synod of Moscow and the Patriarchate were reestablished. This arrangement would survive until the end of Stalin’s “mandate”. [Note of the Spanish translators.]
  • 16. Bordiga is engaging in irony with reference to Togliatti’s concretism. [Note of the Spanish translators.]
  • 17. Palmiro Togliatti [Note of the Spanish translator].
  • 18. Alcide de Gasperi (1881-1954), leader and founder of the Christian Democratic Party, was the Prime Minister of the Italian Republic from 1945 to 1953 [Note of the Spanish translators].
  • 19. This prophetic statement by Bordiga is very interesting for all those who are aware of the profound symbiosis between the mafia and the regional administrative governments, especially in southern Italy, during the First Republic [Note of the Spanish translators].
  • 20. A reference to Truman’s speech of March 12, 1947 in which he unveiled his Doctrine of Containment and thus initiated the Cold War. In this speech, Truman promised 400 million dollars to Greece and Turkey (recall that this was during the Greek civil war between “democrats” and the national-communists of the KKE—the Greek Communist Party). [Note of the Spanish Translators].
  • 21. Bordiga is referring to the “Repubblica Sociale di Salò” (1943-1945) [Note of the Spanish Translators].
  • 22. Here, Bordiga is referring to direct access to wealth, without mercantile and monetary mediation, on the part of the human community, and to the liberation of use value from value [Note of the Spanish translators].

Comments

Anarcho
Nov 10 2017 18:29

What next, articles by Mao and Stalin, Trotsky and Lenin?

I thought this site was about libertarian communism -- Bordiga was just as authoritarian as Lenin, the difference being he never managed to seize State power.

comrade_emma
Nov 11 2017 00:26
Quote:
I thought this site was about libertarian communism -- Bordiga was just as authoritarian as Lenin, the difference being he never managed to seize State power.

Bordiga didn't seek to break with Leninism though so of course he would be as "authoritarian". But it is some pretty bad great man theory to say that it was Lenin who "seized state power". Do you really believe that it was Lenin himself that took over the state?

I think it is also worth noting that Bordiga struggled against the overtake of all communist parties by the USSR and the "socialism in one country"-line. He put a huge focus on internationalism and put forward a motion in the 1926 third international congress for the international being over the party.

wimpled off
Nov 11 2017 10:10

Its certainly odd that Bordiga is on this site. However thanks Alias Recluse for this and other translations.

Dannny
Nov 12 2017 22:31

Anarcho, as someone who's interested in anarchist history, do you not think the occasional translation of left communists is a price worth paying for the enormous quantity of hard to find, high quality and impeccably libertarian translations that Alias Recluse has contributed to this site? Do you not feel any need to acknowledge the vast amount of work that this must have entailed before complaining about those contributions that don't interest you?

spacious
Nov 13 2017 14:40

It's a very faint argument saying that "it is odd" that Bordiga is on here.

The reason libcom is an interesting place is that there is a broader spectrum of opinions and positions than in many other places, where certain points of view become so 'agreed-upon' that others are excluded. Very often the basis of that agreement is shoddy.

You appear to be pretending that Bordiga is part of the canon of statist socialism. I would say the opposite is the case. I'm curious to hear why you would think so, based on Bordiga's writing.

The current that Bordiga is included among, so-called "left communism", was a product of struggle against the crisis of working class internationalism in the 1920s, fighting to preserve its outlook against early Stalinism and (already older) social democracy, which together were swallowing up if not outright crushing independent working class activity in their era. Neither Stalinism or social democracy were breaking with capitalist social relations, but were in fact part of counterrevolution, as their actions in relation to working class struggles show.

The Italian communist left rejected them, so it's actually currents like the one Bordiga was part of, which help to clarify that, and to see that there were in fact dissident strains of internationalism and revolutionary struggle, standing on the ground of both Marx's communism and working class self-organisation. Their analyses can be used to better understand libertarian communism in opposition to (nation-)statist/authoritarian conceptions. Even if you disagree with Bordiga's Leninism (the extent and what this consists of would be an interesting topic of further discussion), there might be something to learn.

It might be too much for some, ie. any anarchists who don't like Marx or anything deriving from Marx's communism, which is often seen as having an unproblematic expression in statist (so-called) socialism... Or you might find the flavor of Bordiga's writing occasionally irksome (which I can get into). But I'd be wary if libcom decided that his viewpoint doesn't fit here.

Juan Conatz
Nov 13 2017 14:59

“Why is [other far left author/group/text] in the libcom library?” is the most fucking boring thing to ask or say.

There are lots of texts from various people and groups who would not fall under the libertarian communist banner. The sole purpose of the libcom library is not to narrowly promote materials that only come from libertarian communists, it is also to host material that may be of a political or historical interest to radical workers and libertarian communists.

Whatever you think of Bordiga, he is a point of reference in many left communist thinkers and groups, some which have informed the politics of this site and its users. We’ve had texts by Bordiga for around 12 years now.

Craftwork
Nov 13 2017 21:20

grin

wimpled off
Nov 15 2017 22:41
spacious wrote:
It's a very faint argument saying that "it is odd" that Bordiga is on here.

If you are referring to my comment that "Its certainly odd that Bordiga is on this site. However thanks Alias Recluse for this and other translations." then you have misunderstood me. It's an observation and not an argument that they should not be here. Most of my few postings on this site have been directly in relation to and in support of the international communist left.

Edited.

bastarx
Nov 16 2017 11:34

Best just to ignore Anarcho, he's the very epitome of a boring capital-A anarchist (it's even in the name he chose for himself).

He must be mellowing in his old age though as he didn't quote himself via his tedious anarchist FAQ this time.

spacious
Nov 17 2017 01:51
wimpled off wrote:
spacious wrote:
It's a very faint argument saying that "it is odd" that Bordiga is on here.

If you are referring to my comment that "Its certainly odd that Bordiga is on this site. However thanks Alias Recluse for this and other translations." then you have misunderstood me. It's an observation and not an argument that they should not be here. Most of my few postings on this site have been directly in relation to and in support of the international communist left.

Edited.

'scuse me, my fault, I did take that as being in agreement with Anarcho, to whom I was primarily responding. Sorry for conflating the two of you.

doug
Nov 17 2017 13:35

I think it's fine and useful for texts by Bordiga (and similar figures) to be made available on libcom.

...but Anarcho is also right to criticise him. He had an incredibly vanguardist approach to politics and often a stodgy, mechanical understanding of communist theory. Which isn't to say he isn't sometimes illuminating, e.g. in the debates on the Italian council movement and the early PCd'I. I don't have time to read this article but will get round to it later.

Again not without flaws, Phillipe Bourrinet's history of the 'Bordigist Current' is an interesting account of the criticisms made by left communists themselves of Bordiga, as well as the parrallels and co-operation between them and internationalist anarchists.

Take the good stuff, ditch the rest.