Published in French as "De l'organisation" in 'Invariance', Anne V, serie II, no. 2. This translation published by Autonomedia, 1995, in This world we must leave, and other essays. Note: a different translation of this work by David Brown titled "About the Organisation" was included as an appendix in the edition of Capital and community published by Unpopular books. Translated by Edizioni International, Savona, Italy. Transcription/markup taken from http://www.riff-raff.se. Minor alterations by Rob Lucas, 2006.
The following letter (dated 04.09.69)
led to the dissolution of the group that had begun to form on the basis of the
positions set forth in Invariance. The letter opened an important area
of reflection and debate that has gone on since, certain conclusions of which
have already been discussed in "Transition", no. 8, série 1.
Although certain points raised by the
letters have been partially dealt with, others have hardly been touched upon.
That's why it's necessary-given the importance of making a more clean break
with the past-to publish it now. Our publishing it should enable the reader to
appreciate the work accomplished thus far, and what still remains to be done.
Since it is simultaneously a break (and
thus a conclusion) and a point of departure, the letter contains a certain
number of imprecisions, seeds of possible errors. We shall indicate the most
important ones in a note. In addition, since it was possible for us then, once
we had rejected the group method, to outline "concretely" how to be
revolutionaries, our rejection of the small group could have been interpreted
as a return to a more or less Stirnerian individualism. As if the only
guarantee from now on was going to be the subjectivity cultivated by each
individual revolutionary! Not at all. It was necessary to publicly reject a
certain perception of social reality and the practice connected with it, since
they were a point of departure for the process of racketization. If we
therefore withdrew totally from the groupuscule movement, it was to be able
simultaneously to enter into liaison with other revolutionaries who had made an
analogous break. Now there is a direct production of revolutionaries who
supersede almost immediately the point we were at when we had to make our break.
Thus, there is a potential "union" that would be considered if we
were not to carry the break with the political point of view to the depths of
our individual consciousnesses. Since the essence of politics is fundamentally
representation, each group is forever trying to project an impressive image on
the social screen. The groups are always explaining how they represent
themselves in order to be recognized by certain people as the vanguard for
representing others, the class. This is revealed in the famous "what
distinguishes us" of various small groups in search of recognition. All
delimitation is limitation and often leads rather rapidly to reducing the
delimitation to some representative slogans for racketeerist marketing. All
political representation is a screen and therefore an obstacle to a fusion of
forces. Since representation can occur on the individual as well as the group
level, recourse to the former level would be, for us, a repetition of the past.
us scoff at being popular. Among other things our disgust at any personality
cult is evidence of this. I have never permitted anyone to make publicity out
of the numerous testimonials of admiration with which they've overwhelmed me in
various countries... When Engels and I first joined the secret society of
communists, we did it on the condition sine qua non that they repeal all
statutes that would be favorable to a cult of authority."Marx to Blos - 10.11.1877, MEW 34, p. 308.
possible to avoid the dirt in bourgeois intercourse or in its trade? Dirt is
its natural element.... The honest infamy or the infamous honesty of the
solvent morality appear to me not a bit superior to the unrespectable infamy
which neither the first Christian communities nor the Jacobin club, nor our own
deceased League could free themselves of entirely. In bourgeois intercourse,
however, you get used to the fact that you lose your sense of respectable
infamy or of infamous respectability."Marx to Freiligrath - 29.02.1860, MEW 30, p. 492.
The establishment of capital within
material existence and therefore within the social community is accompanied by
the disappearance of the traditional personal capitalist, the relative, and
sometimes absolute, diminution of the proletariat, and the growth of new middle
classes. Each human community, no matter how small, is conditioned by the mode
of existence of the material community. The present mode of existence derives
from the fact that capital is able to valorize itself, therefore exist and
develop, only if a particle of it, at the same time that it becomes autonomous,
confronts the social ensemble and places itself in relation to the total
socialized equivalent, capital. It needs this confrontation (competition,
rivalry); it exists only by differentiation. From this point, a social fabric
forms based on the competition of rival "organizations" (rackets).
"It reproduces a new financial aristocracy, a new variety of parasites in the shape
of promoters, speculators and simply nominal directors; a whole system of
swindling and cheating by means of corporation promotion, stock issuance, and
stock speculation. It is private production without the control of private
property."Capital (International Publishers), Vol. III, p. 438].
extends here from the direct producers to the smaller and the medium-sized
capitalists themselves. It is the point of departure for the capitalist mode of
production; its accomplishment is the goal of this production. In the last
instance it aims at the expropriation of the means of production from all
individuals. With the development of social production, the means of production
ceases to be means of private production and products of private production,
and can thereafter be only means of production in the hands of associated
producers, i.e. the latter's social property, much as they are their social
products. However, this expropriation appears within the capitalist system in a
contradictory form, as appropriation of social property by a few; credit lends
the latter more and more the aspect of pure adventurers".Ibid., pp. 439-440.
As home of the production process (the
creation of value), the business enterprise restrains the movement of capital,
fixes it at a particular location. It therefore must overcome this stabilization,
lose this fixed character. So the propertyless enterprise arises, which still
allows for a mystified yield form of surplus value. Here the constant capital
is equal to zero, so only a small advance of capital is necessary to get the
"business" rolling. Finally, there are even fictitious enterprises,
thanks to which the most unchecked speculation develops.
capital constantly appears in the form of an "organization." Behind
this word-synonymous, in the glorious days of labor conflicts, with brotherhood
in an open struggle, but now merely a hypocritical fiction about common
interest among businessmen, administrators, technicians, unskilled workers,
robots and watchdogs-behind the inexpressive and anti-mnemonic trademarks of
the companies, behind the terms "elements of production" and
"stimulation of national revenue, "capital still fulfills its old
repulsive function; a function far more unworthy than that of the entrepreneur
who personally contributed his intelligence, courage and true pioneering spirit
at the dawn of bourgeois society.
The organization is not only the modern depersonalized capitalist, but also the capitalist
without capital because it doesn't need any...
organization has its own plan. It doesn't establish a reliable business firm
with assets but a "corporate front" with a fictitious capital.1 If
anything is paid in advance, it is merely to gain the sympathy of the
government agencies which examine bids, proposals, and contracts.
the falseness of the stupid doctrine that the state or party bureaucracy
constitutes a new ruling class which screws proletarians and capitalists alike,
a ridiculous hypothesis, easily rejected from a Marxist viewpoint. Today the
"specialist" is a beast of prey, the bureaucrat a miserable
organization differs from the worker commune (a libertarian illusion which
cannot be found within any defined boundaries) in that, in each form, rather
than equality of performance in a common work, there is a hierarchy of
functions and benefits. It can't be otherwise when the firm has autonomy in the
market and must present a profitable balance sheet.
reports from Russia concerning the regional decentralization and enlarged
independence of particular concerns show that the trend is towards an explosive
extension of the contract system, by which the state hires itself out to
organizations in all sectors of the economy, organizations which are actual
business gangs, with a changing and elusive personnel composition. This is
similar to the various greedy forms which characterize the modern construction
industry in all contemporary capitalist systems."A. Bordiga, "The Economic and Social Structure in Russia Today" in il programma
comunista, no. 7, 1957. Edition de L'oubli 1975, pp. 230-31.
Not only does the state hire itself out
to gangs, but it becomes a gang (racket) itself. Nevertheless, it still plays
the role of mediator.
monarchy (which itself is already a product of the growing bourgeois wealth and
develops to a point where it becomes incompatible with the old feudal
relations) necessitates in a determinate way a general power that affirms
itself through egalitarian forms. The absolute monarchy must be able to
exercise this power on all points of the periphery; it needs this power as the
material lever of the general equivalent; of the wealth that becomes
increasingly effective and powerful in its forms and increasingly independent
from all special, local, natural, individual relations."K. Marx, Grundrisse
der Kritik der politischen Ökonomie (Europaische Verlaganstalt, Frankfurt)
The state appeared in its pure form,
with the power of the general equivalent, at the time of the growth of the law
of value in the period of simple commodity production. In the phase of formal
domination of capital, when capital had not yet dominated the law of value, the
state was a mediator between capital and [...]2 both remained of prior modes of
production and the proletariat itself. The credit system was still undeveloped
and had not yet given rise, on a large scale, to fictitious capital. Capital
still needed a rigid gold standard. With the passage to real domination,
capital created its own general equivalent, which couldn't be as rigid as it
had been in the period of simple circulation. The state itself had to lose its
rigidity and become a gang mediating between different gangs and between the
total capital and particular capitals.
We can see the same sort of
transformation in the political sphere. The central committee of a party or the
center of any sort of regroupment plays the same role as the state. Democratic
centralism only managed to mimic the parliamentary form characteristic of
formal domination. And organic centralism, affirmed merely in a negative
fashion, as refusal of democracy and its form (subjugation of the minority to
the majority, votes, congresses, etc.) actually just gets trapped again in the
more modern forms. This results in the mystique of organization (as with
fascism). This was how the PCI (International Communist Party) evolved into a
The proletariat having been destroyed,
this tendency of capital encounters no real opposition in society and so can
produce itself all the more efficiently. The proletariat's real essence has
been denied and it exists only as an object of capital. Similarly, the theory
of the proletariat, Marxism, has been destroyed, Kautsky first revising it and
then Bernstein liquidating it. This occurred in a definitive manner, for no
assault of the proletariat has succeeded since then in reestablishing Marxism.
This is only another way of saying that capital has succeeded in establishing
its real domination. To accomplish this, capital had to absorb the movement
that negates it, the proletariat, and establish a unity in which the
proletariat is merely an object of capital. This unity can be destroyed only by
a crisis, such as those described by Marx. It follows that all forms of
working-class political organization have disappeared. In their place, gangs
confront one another in an obscene competition, veritable rackets rivaling each
other in what they peddle but identical in their essence.
The existence of the gangs derives
therefore from the tendency of capital to absorb its contradictions, from its
movement of negation and from its reproduction in a fictitious form. Capital
denies, or tends to deny, the basic principles on which it erects itself; but,
in reality, it revives them under a fictitious form. The gang is a clear
expression of this duality:
the boss who
commands = caricature of the
traditional individual (and his clique)
the collective form = caricature of community
based on common interests
The movement of negation is thus
reabsorbed in the gang, which is the realization of appearance. The gang also
fulfills another requirement of capital: it replaces all natural or human
presuppositions with presuppositions determined by capital.
In its external relations, the political
gang tends to mask the existence of the clique, since it must seduce in order
to recruit. It adorns itself in a veil of modesty so as to increase its power.
When the gang appeals to external elements through journals, reviews, and
leaflets, it thinks that it has to speak on the level of the mass in order to
be understood. It talks about the immediate because it wants to mediate.
Considering everyone outside the gang an imbecile, it feels obliged to publish
banalities and bullshit so as to successfully seduce them. In the end, it
seduces itself by its own bullshit and it is thereby absorbed by the
surrounding milieu. However, another gang will take its place, and its first
theoretical wailings will consist of attributing every misdeed and mistake to
those who have preceded it, looking in this way for a new language so as to
begin again the grand practice of seduction; in order to seduce, it has to
appear to be different from the others.
Once within the gang (or any type of
business) the individual is tied to it by all the psychological dependencies of
capitalist society. If he shows any capacities they are exploited immediately
without the individual having had a chance to master the "theory"
that he has accepted. In exchange, he is given a position in the ruling clique,
he is made a petty leader. If he fails to show capacities, an exchange takes
place all the same; between his admission to the gang and his duty to diffuse
its position. Even in those groups that want to escape the social givens, the
gang mechanism nevertheless tends to prevail because of the different degrees
of theoretical development among the members who make up the grouping. The
inability to confront theoretical questions independently leads the individual
to take refuge behind the authority of another member, who becomes,
objectively, a leader, or behind the group entity, which becomes a gang. In his
relations with people outside the group the individual uses his membership to
exclude others and to differentiate himself from them, if only – in the final
analysis – so as to guard himself against recognition of his own theoretical
weaknesses. To belong in order to exclude, that is the internal dynamic of the
gang; which is founded on an opposition, admitted or not, between the exterior
and the interior of the group. Even an informal group deteriorates into a
political racket, the classic case of theory becoming ideology.
The desire to belong to a gang comes
from the wish to be identified with a group that embodies a certain degree of
prestige, theoretical prestige for intellectuals and organizational prestige
for so-called practical men. Commercial logic also enters into
"theoretical" formation. With a growing mass of ideological
commodity-capital to realize, it becomes necessary to create a deep motivation
so people will buy commodities. For this the best motivation is: learn more,
read more, in order to be above, in order to be different from the mass.
Prestige and exclusion are the signs of competition in all its forms; and so
also among these gangs, which must vaunt their originality, their prestige, in
order to attract notice. This is why the cult of the organization and the
glorification of the peculiarities of the gang develop. From that point on,
it's no longer a question of defending a "theory," but of preserving
an organizational tradition (cf. the PCI and its idolatry of the Italian
Theory is also often acquired for use in
political maneuvering, for example, for supporting one's attempt to gain a
leadership position or for justifying the removal of a current leader.
The interior-exterior opposition and the
gang structure develop the spirit of competition to the maximum. Given the
differences of theoretical knowledge among the members, the acquisition of
theory becomes, in effect, an element of political natural selection, a
euphemism for division of labor. While one is, on the one hand, theorizing
about existing society, on the other, within the group, under the pretext of
negating it, an unbridled emulation is introduced that ends up in a
hierarchization even more extreme than in society-at-large; especially as the
interior-exterior opposition is reproduced internally in the division between
the center of the gang and the mass of militants.
The political gang attains its
perfection in those groups that claim to want to supersede existing social
forms (forms such as the cult of the individual, of the leader, and of
democracy). In practice, anonymity – understood simply as anti-individualism -
means unbridled exploitation of the gang members to the profit of the direction
clique, which gains prestige from everything the gang produces. And organic
centralism becomes the practice of hypocrisy, since the double-dealing that one
finds in those groups that lay claim to democratic centralism occurs anyway, in
spite of the denial that it's going on.
What maintains an apparent unity in the
bosom of the gang is the threat of exclusion. Those who do not respect the
norms are rejected with calumny; and even if they quit, the effect is the same.
This threat also serves as psychological blackmail for those who remain. This
same process appears in different ways in different types of gangs.
In the business gang, modern form of the
enterprise, the individual is kicked out and finds himself in the streets.
In the youth gang, the individual is
beaten up or killed. Here, where we find revolt in its raw form, delinquency;
the lone individual is weak, lacks protection, and so is forced to join a gang.
In the political gang, the individual is
rejected with calumny, which is nothing but the sublimation of assassination.
The calumny justifies his exclusion, or is used to force him to leave "of
his own free will."
In reality, of course, the different
methods cross from one type of gang to another. There are murders linked to
business deals just as there are settlements of account that result in murder.
Thus, capitalism is the triumph of the
organization, and the form the organization takes is the gang. This is the
triumph of fascism. In the United States the racket is found at all levels of
society. It's the same in USSR. The theory of hierarchical bureaucratic
capitalism, in the formal sense, is an absurdity, since the gang is an informal
An alternative at the theoretical level
is the exaltation of discipline, the demand for the purity of the militant (cf.
the group "Rivoluzione comunista," which broke with the PCI in 1964
on the question of the creation of a true elite of militants who would do
nothing but bring back to life the positions of "ultrabolshevism"
that Lukacs saw as the alternative to the opportunist mass party, which the
German Communist Party had become in the space of two years (cf. "Towards
a Methodology of the Problem of Organization" in History and Class
Consciousness). This is like saying that on the level of sexual life the
alternative to the decay of values is asceticism. Besides, in abstracting
itself from reality, this view creates a gulf between theory and practice.
All this expresses the growing
separation of the individual from the human community, poverty in Marx's sense.
The formation of the gang is the constitution of an illusory community. In the
case of the youth gang, it is the result of fixation on the elementary instinct
of revolt in its immediate form. The political gang, on the contrary, wants to
hold up its illusory community as a model for the whole society. This is
utopian behavior without any real base. The utopians hoped that through
emulation all humanity would eventually be included in the communities they
created but these communities were all absorbed by capital. So this line from
the inaugural address of the First International is more valid than ever:
"The emancipation of the workers must be the task of the workers
At the present time the proletariat
either prefigures communist society and realizes communist theory or it remains
part of existing society. The May movement was the beginning of this
prefiguration. It follows from what has been said that the proletariat can in no
way recognize itself in any organization since it already suffers them in other
forms. The May movement clearly demonstrates this.
With the proletariat broken, its
immediate form of existence is the process of capital itself. The workers'
parties in Marx's time were produced by the immediate movement of the
proletariat of that period. Their fate was to play the bourgeois parliamentary
game. Today, now that the apparent community-in-the-sky of politic constituted
by parliaments and their parties has been effaced by capital's development, the
"organizations" that claim to be proletarian are simply gangs or
cliques which, through the mediation of the state, play the same role as all
the other groups that are directly in the service of capital. This is the groupuscule
phase. In Marx's time the supersession of the sects was to be found in the
unity of the workers' movement. Today, the parties, these groupuscules,
manifest not merely a lack of unity but the absence of class struggle. They
argue over the remains of the proletariat. They theorize about the proletariat
in the immediate reality and oppose themselves to its movement. In this sense
they realize the stabilization requirements of capital. The proletariat,
therefore, instead of having to supersede them, needs to destroy them.
The critique of capital ought to be,
therefore, a critique of the racket in all its forms, of capital as social
organism; capital becomes the real life of the individual and his mode of being
with others (cf. on this subject: Marcuse, One Dimensional Man and
Galbraith, The New Industrial State). The theory which criticizes the
racket cannot reproduce it. The consequence of this is refusal of all group
life; it's either this or the illusion of community. On this subject, we can
take up again Engels's critique given at the congress of Sonvillers. What he
said at the time about the International applies today to a group. It can be
summed up as follows: In Marx's time the proletariat couldn't go as far as
negating itself-in the sense that during the course of the revolution it had to
set itself up as the dominant class: 1848, 1871, 1917. There was a definitive
separation between the formal party and the historic party. Today the party can
only be the historic party. Any formal movement is the reproduction of this
society, and the proletariat is essentially outside of it. A group can
in no way pretend to realize community without taking the place of the
proletariat, which alone can do it. Such an attempt introduces a distortion
that engenders theoretical ambiguity and practical hypocrisy. It is not enough
to develop the critique of capital, nor even to affirm that there are no
organizational links; it's necessary to avoid reproducing the gang structure,
since it is the spontaneous product of the society. This ought to be the basis
of the critique of the Italian left and of our mode of existence since the
break with the PCI.
The revolutionary must not identify
himself with a group but recognize himself in a theory that does not depend on
a group or on a review, because it is the expression of an existing class
struggle. This is actually the correct sense in which anonymity is posed rather
than as the negation of the individual (which capitalist society itself brings
about). Accord, therefore, is around a work that is in process and needs to be
developed. This is why theoretical knowledge and the desire for theoretical
development are absolutely necessary if the professor-student relation -
another form of the mind-matter, leader-mass contradiction – is not to be
repeated and revive the practice of following. Moreover, the desire for
theoretical development must realize itself in an autonomous and personal
fashion and not by way of a group that sets itself up as a kind of diaphragm
between the individual and the theory.
It is necessary to return to Marx's
attitude toward all groups in order to understand why the break with the gang
practice ought to be made:
- refuse to
reconstitute a group, even an informal one (cf. The Marx-Engels correspondence,
various works on the revolution of 1848, and pamphlets such as "The Great
Men of Exile," 1852).
- maintain a
network of personal contacts with people having realized (or in the process of
doing so) the highest degree of theoretical knowledge: antifollowerism,
antipedagogy; the party in its historical sense is not a school.4
of all organization is not a simple anti organizational position. To leave it at
that would be to again manifest a desire for originality, to try to set oneself
up as different and thereby reach a position from which to attract people. From
there the movement of racketization would begin all over again.
on the dissolution of groups derives from the study of the becoming of the
capitalist mode of production on one hand, and our characterization of the May
movement on the other. We are deeply convinced that the revolutionary
phenomenon is in motion and that, as always, consciousness follows action. This
means that in the vast movement of rebellion against capital, revolutionaries
are going to adopt a definite behavior – which will not be acquired all at once
- compatible with the decisive and determinative struggle against capital.
preview the content of such an "organization." It will combine the
aspiration to human community and to individual affirmation, which is the
distinguishing feature of the current revolution ary phase. It will aim toward
the reconciliation of man with nature, the communist revolution being also a
revolt of nature (i.e., against capital; moreover, it is only through a new
relation with nature) that we will be able to survive, and avert the second of
the two alternatives we face today: communism or the destruction of the human
In order to
better understand this becoming organizational, so as to facilitate it without
inhibiting whatever it may be, it is important to reject all old forms and to
enter, without a priori principles, the vast movement of our liberation,
which develops on a world scale. It is necessary to eliminate anything that
could be an obstacle to the revolutionary movement. In given circumstances and
in the course of specific actions, the revolutionary current will be structured
and will structure itself not only passively, spontaneously, but by always
directing the effort toward how to realize the true Gemeinwesen (human
essence) and the social man, which implies the reconciliation of men with
nature (Camatte, 1972).
Marx's activity was always that of
revealing the real movement that leads to communism and of defending the gains
of the proletariat in its struggle against capital. Hence, Marx's position in
1871 in revealing the "impossible action" of the Paris Commune or
declaring that the First International was not the child of either a theory or
a sect. It is necessary to do the same now. Those who wish to enter in liaison
with the work set forth in this review in order to develop it and ensure a more
detailed, precise, and lucid exposition, ought to direct their relations along
the lines indicated above in the discussion of Marx's work. Failing to do this,
they will relapse into the gang practice.
It follows from this that it is also
necessary to develop a critique of the Italian communist left's conception of
"program." That this notion of "communist program" has
never been sufficiently clarified is demonstrated by the fact that, at a
certain point, the Martov-Lenin debate resurfaced at the heart of the left. The
polemic was already the result of the fact that Marx's conception of
revolutionary theory had been destroyed, and it reflected a complete separation
between the concepts of theory and practice. For the proletariat, in Marx's
sense, the class struggle is simultaneously production and radicalization of
consciousness. The critique of capital expresses a consciousness already
produced by the class struggle and anticipates its future. For Marx and Engels,
proletarian movement = theory = communism.
"Mr. Heinzen imagines communism to be a certain doctrine which springs from a
definite theoretical principle as its nucleus and draws further
consequences from it. Mr. Heinzen is very wrong. Communism is not a doctrine
but a movement springing from facts rather than principles. Communists
presuppose not such and such a philosophy but all past history and, above all,
its actual and effective results in the civilized countries.... In so far as
communism is a theory, it is the theoretical expression of the situation of the
proletariat in its struggle and the theoretical summary of the conditions of
the liberation of the proletariat".F. Engels, "The communists and
Karl Heinzen" Article 2, MEW 4, pp. 321-322.
Actually, the problem of consciousness
coming from the outside did not exist for Marx. There wasn't any question of
the development of militants, of activism or of academicism. Likewise, the
problematic of the self-education of the masses, in the sense of the council
communists (false disciples of R. Luxemburg and authentic disciples of
pedagogic reformism) did not arise for Marx. R. Luxemburg's theory of the class
movement, which from the start of the struggle finds within itself the
conditions for its radicalization, is closest to Marx's position (cf. her
position on the "creativity of the masses," beyond its immediate
This shows the necessity of superseding
the bourgeois form of perceiving and conceiving social reality and taking up
again, as Marx did, Hegel's demonstration of the mediate character of any form
of immediacy. For it is characteristic of "scientific" thought to
accept the immediate fact as the real object of knowledge without perceiving
and conceiving the mediation that underlies it. It is on the basis of such
gnoseology that in capitalist society social appearance becomes reality and
vice-versa. The real being of the proletariat is hidden and the class is
perceived in its apparent form of life. This is what gives to the problem of
consciousness coming from the outside and the fact that when the proletariat
manifests its true being (1905-1917), everyone is left stupefied, dumbfounded.
The Italian communist left, in spite of its more acute capacities in the domain
of the theory of the proletariat, did not in 1950 make a definitive break with
its past (1919-1926). Its critique of Trotskyism, of council communism, etc.,
did not achieve the integral restoration of Marx's notions of the party and of
the proletariat. Because of this, its official position and its real essence
oscillated between a conception of program as a "Marxist school" and
a Trotskyist-brand petty activism. This second aspect became dominant after
1960 due to the fact that a clique of gangsters totally foreign to the theory
and to the proletariat took possession of the "school," thanks above
all to its continuing ambiguity on some problems of vital importance: the union
question and the notion of "vanguard of proletariat," which was
actually rejected in acts and in official discussion but which persisted in the
official canon of the party. It was then that the Martov-Lenin debate on the
question of organization was resurrected, which demonstrated that this current
was definitely dead, and led to its third-class funeral during May '68.
It should be noted that since we left
the PCI we have tried to remove the ambiguity discussed by our doing our best
to reveal the positive aspects of the left. This only resulted in our
cultivating the left and becoming its most extreme expression (cf. the articles
of Invariance). And this led us to fall back into a group practice.
Although we considered our group "informal," it carried with it the
inevitable tendency of substituting itself for the proletariat. It is no longer
a question of arguing about accommodation in the heart of the left but of recognizing
that if there has been accommodation, it is because even from the start the
theory wasn't integrally a theory of the proletariat. Thus it is no longer
adequate to say that the creation of the party in 1943 was premature; it's
necessary to say that it was an absurdity. Accordingly, it's necessary to break
with our past and return to Marx's position.
This letter has been written not so much
as a definitive and exhaustive treatment of the theme discussed; it is intended
as a break with the "whole" group past. The signatures that follow
are intended to emphasize this break and do not indicate that we have dropped
our previous position on the subject of anonymity.
- 1"Fictitious" is from finto in the original Italian, which does
not correspond to the term "fictitious" in Capital but is
close to it (Translator's note).
- 2unclear in original copy of translation.
- 3Amadeo Bordiga and the theoreticians close to him were known as the Italian communist
left. More precisely, "the Italian left" refers to the Italian
left-communist tradition: the left opposition in the Italian Socialist Party
(1910/12, 1921), the direction of the Communist Party of Italy (1921-24), the
left opposition in the Communist Party of Italy (1924-26), the left-communist
fraction in Belgium and France (Bilan and Prometeo: 1926-43), the
reconstruction of Italian left communism (Battaglia Comunista, Prometeo 1944-52), and the International Communist Party (il programma comunista: 1952-70; Bordiga died in 1970). (Translator's note)
- 4To talk of
reassuming again an attitude adopted by Marx at a certain moment of his
revolutionary activity resulted from a profound failure to understand that the
phase of capital's formal domination has been completed. Marx had to take a
position only valid for that period. Furthermore, his theoretical position on
the subject of the party is not as rigid as the letter indicates here. What is
even less acceptable in the above assertions is that they could lead to a new
theory of consciousness coming from the outside by way of an elitist theory of
the development of the revolutionary movement.