Jacque Camatte's 2020 preface to The Economic and Social Structure of Russia Today by Amadeo Bordiga
In the 1974 preface to Economic and Social Structure of Russia Today by Amadeo Bordiga,1 I pointed out the importance of this study, in itself and in relation to Marxism, the theory of the proletariat, and that the merit of the latter was "to be able to maintain the pole of the future, communism, even if, at the present time, we conceive of it differently". Since then came the fall of the Berlin Wall, ending Soviet domination over the countries of Eastern Europe, and the dissolution of the Soviet Union, without proletarian intervention on a class basis. Moreover, Bordiga's long-awaited admission (of the capitalist nature of the USSR) did not really happen. The only thing that was in agreement with Bordiga's perspective was that these events were ultimately related to the future of the world market. I will quote in particular a fact that was not noticed at the time: the intervention of Asian countries like Singapore, Hong Kong that completely undermined the industrial exports of East Germany and Czechoslovakia, especially in regards to the production of cameras and other early consumer electronics. The Soviet Union had no economic solution to such a disaster, which led to the break-up of the Eastern bloc.
More importantly, it was in the 1970s that the end of the revolutionary process was imposed, and in the 1980s the proletariat as a class was dissolved, and today capital as such is disappearing, replaced by the autonomization2 of its form, which corresponds to the establishment of virtuality.3
Thus the work of Amadeo Bordiga would no longer have any significance for our future. However, if we approach the study of the Russian question not only in itself but in relation to the development of capital in the West, things look different. At the beginning of the 1950s, there was an international debate on whether the USSR was socialist. Some theorists argued that it was not, but that it was building socialism. Bordiga agreed with this diagnosis, but added: The USSR is developing capitalism, the basis on which socialism can develop. And, generalizing with regard to the West, he said: here too much has been built, it must be destroyed. This was totally consistent with his statement about the possibility of socialism from 1848. This led him to set out a plan of measures to be taken immediately after taking poweR:
1: “De-investment of capital” means of production are assigned a smaller proportion in relation to consumer goods.
2: “Increase of production costs” - so that as long as wages, money and the market still exist - more remuneration is exchanged for less labor time.
3: “Drastic reduction of labor time” - by at least half as unemployment and socially useless and damaging activities will shortly become things of the past.
4: A reduction in the mass of what is produced through an “under-production plan” which is to say the concentration of production on what is necessary as well as an “authoritarian regulation of consumption” by which the promotion of useless, damaging, and luxury consumption goods is combated and activities which propagate a reactionary mentality are violently prohibited.
5: Rapid “dissolution of the boundaries of the enterprise” whereby decisions on production are not assigned to the workforce, but the new consumption plan determines what is to be produced.
6: “Rapid abolition of social services” whereby the charity hand-outs characteristic of commodity production are replaced by a social (initial minimum) provision for those incapable of work.
7: “Construction freeze” on the rings of housing and workplaces around major and small cities in order to spread the population more and more equally throughout the land area of the country. With a ban on unnecessary transportation, limitation of traffic, and speed of transportation.
8: “A decisive struggle against professional specialization” and the social division of labor though the removal of any possibility of making a career or obtaining a title.
9: Immediate politically determined measures to put the schools, the press, all means of communication and information, as well as the entire spectrum of culture and entertainment under the control of the communist state.
Points 1, 2, 3, 4, and 7 are of particular importance here. We can say that by advocating these measures Bordiga initiated a dynamic that I have called inversion, that is to say, "the establishment of a becoming contrary to that which has been carried out up to the present day".4 This assertion is all the more justified because at the same time (the early 1950s) he confronted, with great magnitude, the question of the relationship of the species to nature. For example: The Human Species and the Earth's Crust,5 where the question of urban life is addressed, and Space vs. Cement,6 where the immense mineralization of nature is highlighted. This clearly raises the question of the future of the species.
Thus: fundamentally, the species must no longer take the path of progress, but that of regression, and must not seek in science the path of salvation, for science has in fact become an instrument of repression and justification of this world.7
Inversion concerns not only the species as such but also the behavior of individuals. In the 1960s, the idea became more and more prevalent that it was not necessary to wait for the revolution to change it and thus allow the development of communism, but that its partisans had to reach, even before the revolution, a behavior compatible with the latter. Hence the central affirmation concerning above all the members of the party: it is necessary to behave as if the communist revolution was a fact, and the party, more and more thought of as a community party, is the prefiguration of communist society. The dynamic of behaving "as if" aims at non-dependence on this world. In other words, what prevails is not the data of struggle (not neglected), therefore of enmity, but the attempt to found another affirmation of men and women and, therefore, of the species.
Nowadays, various crises are intermingled with the phenomenon of the coronavirus pandemic whose fundamental causes go back to the rupture in continuity with nature, within the species, to its degeneration linked to its becoming outside nature, with the deployment of enmity that leads within it to the regression of solidarity, from concomitant affectivity to ever more intense isolation between individuals, making them vulnerable to infectious agents such as the coronavirus.8 The spread of these sorts of things depends on the development of enmity within the species and in its relationship with nature.
It is only by carrying out the inversion, which keeps us in continuity with the revolutionary past and thus with Bordiga, that the species will be able to perpetuate its future.
- 1Found here:https://files.libcom.org/files/Jacques%20Camatte-%20Community%20and%20Communism%20in%20Russia.pdf
- 2Camatte defines autonomization in the glossary as: "Process during which the original determinations of a phenomenon become inoperative. An onsicular process aimed at escaping parental dependence and which inevitably tends to re-actualize the separation."
- 3Camatte defines virtuality in the glossary as: "all which is projected by the man, the woman, and which is not seizable, like the virtual image and, at the same time, the result of a whole technical process that results in a simulation. This is totally in line with the ontosis process, which is to make concrete situations imagined and projected. The individual, in so far as he is ontosis, lives in the virtual. He becomes virtual and thus elusive to others; communication becomes impossible. It can often only be perceived following an act of violence that extracts the virtual and actualizes it. In virtuality are included the four anthropomorphoses." A brief overview of the concept of anthropomorphosis can be found here: https://www.ilcovile.it/V3_antropomorfosi_inglese.html
- 4Camatte defines inversion in the glossary as: "The establishment of a future contrary to the one carried out until today, including in particular: leaving nature, repression, refusal, abstraction, riots (uprisings, revolutions) but also war and peace. It is not an expropriation of what was appropriated and is not a return to the moment when this was imposed. No, for it is from the gemeinwesen potential in us here and now and in the community of those who converge and participate, that this will take place. So it is not a question of returning to an earlier phase, to an ancestral behavior, but of accessing something in germ in us, in this case: the deep naturalness that has always been repressed, largely hidden, and the continuity with all living beings, with the cosmos."
- 5Found here: https://libcom.org/library/human-species-earths-crust-amadeo-bordiga.
- 6Found here: http://materialnecessity.org/2020/04/02/space-versus-cement-il-programa-comunista/
- 7Bordiga mostly addresses this subject in his 1967 book The Conquest of Space, which is currently being translated into English. Bordiga's position within this work is best condensed into the quote contained within the sidebar.
- 8Camatte offers a more in-depth analysis of the pandemic here: https://www.ilcovile.it/scritti/COVILE_B_554_Inglese_1_Instaurazione.pdf
Unsure what's going on with
Unsure what's going on with the in-text appearance of footnote 7, if somebody could please fix that up for us. Thanks.
Sorted now I think?
Sorted now I think?
Note 5 could do with some
Note 5 could do with some attention though.
New translation, with
New translation, with potential additions from the author, coming soon. Please note that the RR translation of The Economic and Social Structure of Russia Today has been canceled and apparently the remainder of the ICP is working on its own.