This short reflection is a synthesis of ideas common to various comrades, from different areas, with whom we frequently discuss. In fact, some of the considerations here are now becoming an integral and shared perspective beyond that of any one organisation. This gives us hope that in the near future the most politically aware elements will recognise that we are all travelling in the same direction.
For a long time now we have not simply limited ourselves to hoping, but rather have undertaken a complex, slow but fruitful and concrete path of political discussion over what, in our opinion, are the indispensable cornerstones of the political platform for the future revolutionary party.1
The scenarios that open up in the face of this crisis, or rather the latest aggravation of the pre-existing situation of profound economic (but also social and political) crisis that has already been underway for decades, are manifold. This is clear. However – and it is useful to reflect on this – these scenarios all revolve around what the bourgeoisie's response to the crisis will be.
The bourgeoisie is not unfamiliar with having to manage crises due to the absence of valorisation and the consequent slowdown in production, and the current situation sparked by the pandemic fits precisely into an already gloomy economic context. Indeed, we could argue that from birth, with the exception of short periods, capital has lived with these conditions. This crisis will also translate, in fact, into an accelerated process of capitalist concentration, "aided" by the force of an external element (the virulent pandemic). And this will be an advantage from the point of view of the survival of the system itself, which is dragging itself more and more ferociously into its umpteenth structural crisis, whilst preparing to leave many corpses, even among the bourgeoisie themselves, lying around.
What is really new, in our view, is the clearest recognition of the importance (economic and political) of the physical work of producing surplus value. For Marxists of various shades this is obvious, but not so for the mass of proletarians who live in this exploited position, accepting the ideology that underpins it and justifies it, making it seem "inevitable" if not "natural" in their eyes.
The working class is not new to these situations either, but not as the managers of the crisis, or of the system which enslaves them, but rather in terms of its drastic outcome, whose price it will once again be called upon to pay. And that price will be very high indeed, not just in terms of a barbaric and tragic worsening of living and working conditions, but also in the slaughter of approaching imperialist war, which is the ultimate “solution” to the aggravation of the capitalist crisis.
The great concentrations of workers worldwide, the enormous speed by which information, exchange and commodities flow means that – as we have always said – this social system offers the possibility of being transformed onto a higher social level (a communist economy and society). But this can only be brought about by demolishing the current mode of production and its repressive political-administrative and military superstructures.
So we have both the "objective conditions" and the inspiration. What is missing is the class party, that is the "subjective" condition: the party made of flesh, legs and brain, which works actively in the class; which, although a minority, is an element of clarity, a clarity supported and nourished by a historical analysis, a programme, a strategy and a clear platform. In short, what is missing is the political expression of class struggle, which no revolutionary process can do without.
This emergency will come to an end, but crisis after crisis, emergency after emergency, we will have to take every opportunity to strengthen and implant the party or, rather, its embryos, in the class, in order to be able to create a political driving force in the future revolutionary process of social transformation.
The objective conditions are present in the very contradictions of capital. However, the ruling class has its own solutions to these problems. The bourgeoisie will never meekly accept its own disappearance. This makes it necessary for the class party to exist on an international scale. Even as a tiny minority it has to act now, in both theory and practice, to make every phase of the historical path to revolution clear. If it is to be an active agent in the revolutionary process it cannot operate in the ivory towers of abstract knowledge, since a party is made up of flesh and blood, men and women, with all the contradictions present in real life, and not something outside the real world, as some metaphysical visionaries of the party liked (and still like) to support.2
Unfortunately there are no shortcuts to a new society arising from the ashes of decadent capitalism. We are well aware that the communists today are just a drop in a stormy ocean. But we really believe that there is no alternative to the work of building and forming the future political vanguard of the class organised in the international party of the proletariat.
It's a huge task, we know. This is why we have no intention of backing off. Will the fruits of this only be reaped by future generations? Highly likely, of course, but even this cannot exempt us from our present responsibility, let alone justify us in having a wait-and-see attitude or, at the other extreme, push us towards a naive and spontaneous activism.3 All of us can and must – each within their own limits, with their own abilities and possibilities, in the small and large contexts in which we are given the opportunity to intervene and operate – make our contribution by creating the conditions for forming those organised political vanguards which can one day lead the explosions of the struggles that will come. By doing so they will become stronger and more deeply rooted in the class, pointing towards the only possible horizon which for the communists is, and remains, the social revolution for communist society. The real communist one, that is ...
Sunday, April 5, 2020
- 1Our most recent (but certainly not the only) contribution in this direction is the Political Platform of the ICT (Internationalist Communist Tendency), drawn up at the conclusion of a wide discussion within our international organisation. On our website at this address: leftcom.org
- 2For non-Italian readers this is a reference to the various strands of the Bordigist current. Critiques of them are found in footnote 3.
- 3Modes of inaction or action, both devoid of political-revolutionary realism, intelligence and concreteness, and in some ways merely self-consoling and completely ineffective. We have repeatedly addressed and deepened this crucial issue. For those wishing to learn more, we suggest from our English website: Bordiga: Beyond the Myth and The Party Question. For those who read Italian: Il dualismo di sempre: o il nulla da fare, o l'attivismo più sfrenato and Proletari senza rivoluzione o l'eterna infanzia dell'avanguardia.