Bourgeois attempts of channeling proletarian struggles on an international scale and
Invariant struggle for the proletarian rupture
AGAINST SUMMITS AND ANTI-SUMMITS
Here is a first translation as a draft and partial in version of our text already published in Spanish and in French. Use it, criticize it...
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Summits, counter-summits and proletarian struggle
Probably one mystifies the importance of these summits and counter-summits, insofar as, for its good working the capital does need neither international conferences, nor summit meetings. The keystone of homogeneity in the decision making of the capital is more essentially based on the fact that the dictatorship of the rate of profit exists everywhere, that it is the origin of any decision, the essence of each economic directive, the reason of living of the capitalism, always and everywhere in the world. The World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, the multinationals and governments, the parliaments and local administrations, the associations of states and consortiums, the trusts and the small concerns, they all put into effect, whatever is the importance of the decision to take, the criteria of profitability of the capital (their own capital as well as the one under their administration); and in the same way, within the concerns, from the highest leader to the last worker, they all are forced to apply these criteria if they want to keep their post, and this apart from the fact that this situation is pleasant for some, whereas it is about a suffering and the daily alienation of life, for others. Capital is precisely characterized by its democracy, by its capacity to co-opt those who, among its subjects, will be unscrupulous to satisfy its appetite for profit, those who will be the best capable to impose its despotism without mercy, whether they are leaders, governors, international civil servants, local administrators, trade-union chiefs, or torturers,... One only has to recall the workers' leaders who, at all time, were co-opted by the government of capital, from Noske and Walesa to Lula! The other face of this democracy thanks to which one co-opts the workers' leaders to serve the capital is the daily despotism, which imposes the value in process, against human life. Moreover this all-powerful dictatorship of the rate of profit develops competition between proletarians and pushes to the struggle of all against all, always in the service of this imposition of the biggest possible rate of accumulation.
But beyond the mystification existing around the importance of the formal centralism with which the capital can endow itself, it is clear that capitalism has centers of decisions (meetings, institutions, places, organisms, people...) at its disposal which, at the moment required, centralize some global decisions, obeying this omnipresent dictatorship of the rate of profit. It is generally within these centers that the measures are announced which attack the standard of living of proletarians; at the same time, agreements between the more decisive fractions of the bourgeoisie are also signed there. When these summit meetings of the capitalistic power are publicly announced in the media, it is because they try to win a certain support of the population towards the leaders of the capital and measures which emerge from there. And naturally, these meetings also obey the hazards of negotiations between the different fractions of the capital, as well as the necessity to constitute constellations and alliances which try to improve their balance of forces facing the others, as it is the case for the regional common markets. These summits and anti-summits have moreover for function to make a show about the importance of these bourgeois polarizations, which the capital needs to channel any proletarian protest.
Therefore, although the decision-making importance of these summits is mystified, and even though their spectacularization and their pseudo protest constitutes a necessity of the reproduction of the bourgeois domination, it is normal that the proletariat has considered them since ever as an attack against its own life, and this, whether these meetings take place in only one country or whether they gather the bourgeoisie of various countries, whether they are governmental, organized by political parties, trade-unions, or whether they come from the structuring of these forces at an international scale. Whatever is the time, these summits ever caused great movements of protest, violent demonstrations, street fighting, bombing, and intense confrontations, often armed. Against the myth that tries to present as a novelty the confrontations that break out nowadays almost everywhere in the world at the time of these summits (the manipulation of the public opinion always requires to make new things out of old), we could mention many examples, on the five continents, that would demonstrate the opposite. One only has to think about the great street battles of the years '60 and '70, triggered off by the proletariat in America against the various international summits organized on this continent, against the meetings of the OAS, of the Alliance for Progress, the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund and the GATT, or still against Conferences of Presidents,... One has only to remember the concerns set on fire, factories and campuses occupied, the violent demonstrations, bomb attacks against state sites, the strikes, the confrontations with the police, with special corps of repression, and in good number of countries, with the army,...
In regard to current events, the class confrontations get more and more obvious: Davos, Seattle, Nice, Prague, Gothenburg, Naples, Genoa... [(16)] are an expression of this. Once more, the proletariat reemerges at the right place where the different fractions of the international capital meet to know how they will increasingly exploit the proletarians from all over the world. On one hand, one finds the official summits and the social democrat counter-summits, the conferences in the official lounges and the carnivalesque processions dominated by social democracy, in other words: the official pseudo protest. On the other hand, the proletariat emerges, outflanking the processions, trying to impose its direct action (17), smashing shop windows and expropriating everything that can be, attacking official buildings and bourgeois property in general, firing everything that can represent the state, criticizing and denouncing aloud, through leaflets, pamphlets and reviews the NGO, Attac, parties and trade-unions.
As one can see, including in these bourgeois' dens and despite the presence of a lot of recuperation forces, once more the both classes of society confront each other, bourgeoisie against proletariat, conservation of the bourgeois social order against its global calling into question. Right- and left-wing can stage all the shows of struggle they want, the media can well take charge of validate the options "globalization" and "anti-globalization", but inevitably, the criticism of capitalism carried by the proletarians who are present there, pushes them to break the containment; and then inevitably the two antagonistic social projects reemerge: perpetuation of the capitalistic catastrophe or social revolution.
Apart from the discussion that we will approach farther and which develops nowadays within our class about how the proletariat has to stand, about its involvement or not to these processions, about the significance of the watchword "to stand outside and against conferences and anti-conferences" (which is our position!), about the assessment of this direct action (does it correctly express the unification and the development of the international force against the capital or on the contrary, does it presuppose a submission to a show that takes away from the real direct action?); apart then from this discussion, there is no doubt on the fact that these explosions express the rage of our class facing the bourgeois gathered there in order to "decide the fate of the planet" (18). In this way the process of proletarian autonomization outlined by our class at the time of the summits and counter-summits proves to be extremely encouraging. It materializes through a rupture with the trade-unionist containment, through important expressions of violence against this latter, against private property, against the different state-controlled structures in presence; and all this more and more underlines the fact that the real opposition does not stand between Davos and Porto Alegre, between the World Trade Organization, the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank and Attac... but well, as ever, between the capital (right- as well as left-wing) and the proletariat.
Although the autonomy of the proletariat still remains very relative at the time of these struggles, these nevertheless express the class war and therefore the ever growing antagonism between humankind and capitalism, and allow to put back on the agenda, within the community of struggle that develops - particularly within the vanguard minorities - some central questions of which the proletarian internationalism, the international necessity to get constituted in force, the question of the international struggle against the power of capital and the world state. Of course, from the social viewpoint, solutions are still far to be found. But the fact that thousands of militants through the world start again to think and to discuss the central questions of social revolution constitutes a decidedly encouraging fact. If one adds to this the continuity of repeating explosions in different places of the world, one can say that it is about an important step for the revolutionary movement.
Role of the proletariat in the circus of summits and its drifts: question of the proletarian autonomy
All this production of summits and anti-summits aims to present the protests of Davos, Seattle, Prague, and Genoa... as the real alternative to the present world. Even outside the overtly social democrat fractions, it is in good taste to consider the days when summits, street battles... are held, as the very essence of the struggle that would oppose the present development of capitalism, as the quintessence of the proletarian internationalism, finally found. In this chapter we will therefore focus on the role currently assigned to the action of the proletariat within these summits, with the aim to specify our interests and to define the proletarian policy to adopt facing this big circus.
In order to deepen this question, it is essential to wonder about the difference existing between the way the struggle of our class expresses itself against the summits and anti-summits, and the proletarian struggles that, as we said, are currently characterized by lightning qualitative jumps (although sporadic and without continuity), by extremely violent struggles that attack the whole political spectrum and that develop out of any mediation, as it happened these last years in Romania, Venezuela, Albania, Algeria,... or more recently, in Indonesia, Ecuador,... It is necessary to wonder about the existing interaction between each of these struggles or proletarian ways of expression.
As an example, and to make the global understanding easier, let's compare the struggles that took place in Seattle, with those that occurred, in the early year 2000, in Ecuador (25). In both cases entire fractions of the proletariat confront the capital, thousands of proletarians oppose the different national and international structures of the world capitalistic state. In both cases they confront the repressive corps that protect private property, as well as the centers of decisions of the capital. In both cases they fight the local leaders as well as the international leaders of the capital.
Let's now pursue while lingering over the differences (26). Although we make this comparison in order to fight some subtler conceptions, we start by underlining the most stupid and limited prejudices being derived from the social democrat ideology. According to the vision of Attac and Co, the struggles in each country cannot go farther since the centers of decision of the capital, or better said of the financial capital, are the World Bank and the IMF and that it is at the time of summit meetings that these institutions decide the fate of the planet. Attac and Co don't therefore recognize that the proletarian movement is the same in Seattle and in Ecuador; but even if they would accept this idea they would pretend that in Seattle the movement is international and decisive, whereas in Ecuador it is local, indigenous, economicist and without great impact. Concretely, they would affirm that it is thanks to the protests in Seattle, Davos, and Washington which attack the center of the system, that the capitalism encounters difficulties to impose the measures recommended by the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund.
We will answer to this that in Ecuador proletarians confronted not only the local bourgeoisie, but also the international bourgeoisie. Through its action the proletariat opposed the plans of austerity sponsored by these famous institutions like the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank. The generalization of this movement would have allowed to impose an international balance of forces calling into question any increase of the rate of exploitation; its qualitative development would have called into question the exploitation itself. On the other hand, the only thing that one can expect from the proletarian movement that fights against the summits and counter-summits, against the plans of the IMF, etc., it is that these meetings don't take place, that the delegates to these congresses, or more generally the representatives of the world capitalism, are terrorized in their decision makings. But it won't prevent that decisions are taken. This will be done discreetly, without fanfare, into secret alcoves or through "confidential" inter-bourgeois contacts... but one way or another, the decisions will be taken!
Although the actions such like the ones that took place in Ecuador are geographically limited, they are capable (a large number of historic examples testifies this) to impose an international balance of forces against the capital, to freeze the measures attacking the proletariat (as in Bolivia where the measures about the running water that the national and international capital wanted to impose have been withdrawn).
On the other hand, the action in Seattle, although more general and certainly more spectacular, is nevertheless incapable to impose a balance of forces allowing, for example, to prevent an increase of the rate of exploitation.
The suspension of the meeting of the World Bank in Barcelona, planned for June 2001, incited our enemies to talk about a triumph. As far as we are concerned, we consider that even though one succeeds in eliminating all the conferences on the surface of the earth, even though one destroys the whole of the buildings housing the meetings of these international organisms, one would not succeed in preventing the application of the measures, country by country. It is necessary to clearly affirm it in order to challenge the opposite myth. This does not at all depreciate the struggle of the proletarians against the summits and anti-summits, struggle that inspires the delegates to these congresses, the cops, the governments and the social democrats with a real panic. As we will see later, these sectors of the proletariat could play a decisive role in the generalization of the struggle, in the consciousness and the international direction of the movement.
Let's therefore pursue our comparison. In Ecuador this movement results from a set of partial struggles, led by different sectors of the proletariat in order to defend their interests, against "their own bourgeoisie", "their own" trade unionists, "their own" social democrat parties... In the beginning, the requirements were different, and then the discontent grew and spread. The proletarian struggle occupied the street and the particular claiming became widespread (27). Decision-making centers of the state (parliament, judicial power, presidency, places of meetings for political parties...) have been attacked.
In Seattle the movement is composed of those who want to attack what they consider as the centers of decisions of the capital and the world state. And this is real valid for the proletarians who walk like good little sheep in social democrat processions as well as for those who outflank them and who are going to confront social democracy, getting organized outside this latter, and even often against it. The starting point of the proletarians who goes in Seattle is apparently more global, more politicized (28) and more determined by the political will than by the immediate interest, the social interest. They start from their positions, from their revolutionary ideas, even though these latter are, in their turn, the result of the consciousness of the generalized immediate interests of the proletariat.
Through its opposition towards the expressions of the capital and the state it confronts, the movement in Ecuador, social product of the proletarian interests becoming widespread, directly contains, represents and assumes the interests of the international proletariat against the capital and the world state. The consequent struggle for their interests leads the proletarians to practically oppose the tentative of social democrat containment, and this, independently of what the protagonists are thinking about. In Ecuador, the proletarian movement, whose interests emerged and developed during this movement, is urged to the rupture with all type of social democrat containment. In Seattle, on the contrary, only the political positions and the programmatical clarity allow to develop and to deepen the rupture with social democracy.
In Ecuador the proletariat can defend the interests for which the movement started only while breaking with the social democrat containment and while assuming its class autonomy. When it decides to go to Quito that it considers to be a decision-making center of the capital, this is because it's utterly exhausted, because it wants to finish with those who starve it. It is about an attack! Because at this moment everybody recommends to be quiet and "to return at home". Nobody invited these proletarians to Quito, and there is neither a summit, nor an anti-summit to "welcome" them. Only the police will be there and will first do its best to prevent them from reaching the capital city. And in spite of this the proletariat will impose its determination. The trade-union containment and the bourgeois left will try to take the moving train well, but they only just will succeed in following it.
On the other hand, in Seattle, the summits are the initial reason of the movement. It is according to the summits that the places and dates of gathering are determined. This is not a proletarian force, which decides to go to Seattle; proletarians are invited to participate like a submissive herd in processions according to the diary of the meetings. Beside these processions, and to a certain extent outside and against them, one finds groups of proletarians ready to fight against this containment. Of course, those are not invited... one rather fears them. It is against them that the repressive forces get organized. It is against them that the checking at the borders is reinforced. These proletarian fractions in rupture go to Seattle because of their programmatical positions; they are going there to mark and to develop their rupture with the capital in its whole. Only the perception of the interests of the international proletariat, transformed into class-consciousness and into positions (filtered through the bourgeois ideology, in spite of a struggle against this), will allow them to oppose social democracy and to develop the proletarian autonomy. Moreover, the majorities of the proletarians who go to Seattle in order to develop the proletarian struggle belongs to an organization, a network (very fashionable expression nowadays), a movement, a group, or are considered as being part of their organized periphery.
This makes a considerable distinction between the both examples that we compared. The rupture in Ecuador is determined by the unavoidable development of antagonistic interests. In Seattle it depends almost exclusively on the programs and flags of the groups in presence. This determines that, at the time of performances like in Seattle, the political discussion with groups and the participating organizations acquire a great importance. In the same way, the programmatical criticism of the organizations which pretend to develop and to impulse a proletarian rupture becomes decisive as well as the denunciation of all centrist ideologies that prevent the rupture and/or that want, in the name of the limits of the proletarian consciousness, to push forward the proletariat while giving a more violent character to the protest of the bourgeois left. As we will see farther, the fact to make more violent the protest of the bourgeois left cannot constitute on no account the action program of the proletariat.
The comradely criticism we have for these expressions is part and parcel of the rupture movement that currently develops, whether it is in Seattle, in Ecuador or in any place in the world. In spite of the differences that we underlined in one or the other case, it is yet a question here of one only and same movement, of which we assume the practice. This is our movement, the one of our world fight against the capital. But when from inside we try to make a critical assessment of the forces and weaknesses of a movement like the one, which started in Ecuador, we feel that the most important aspect lies in its practical dynamics and not in the analysis of flags, groups and positions, what we consider in this case as secondary. On the other hand, in Seattle, as the political positions are the starting point of the regrouping of forces, their analysis and their criticism must be firstly taken into consideration, without forgetting however that, also there, what is going to be decided, it is the autonomous struggle of the international proletariat against the bourgeois society and all the retraining proposed by the left. In the following chapters we will analyze how, at the time of these summits, the struggle for the autonomy of the proletariat tries to take shape and we will give priority to the political positions of the protagonists towards their autonomy in any street demonstration.
However, before starting this analysis, it seems for us imperative to specify that the autonomy in the street is extremely important, and this is why the watchword "outside and against the summits and anti-summits" as well as the criticism of proletarians kidding themselves like good little sheep is fundamental. The Internationalist Communist Group, through several leaflets and propaganda actions, clearly expressed this position during these struggles.
It is just as fundamental (and we assume this to the extent of our forces) to criticize the practice of the radical columns of these demonstrations, in order to urge them to not participate anymore in these social democrat processions, even to "outflank the demonstration" or to "radicalize it". Seeing that in such circumstances the proletarian rupture can takes place only through the programmatical rupture, through the programmatical and organisative advance of the most radical fractions, we are going now to focus on the programmatical positions expressed at the time of these demonstrations.
Class violence: revolutionaries or activists and opportunists?
Let's now deepen the ground of the classist rupture. Let's leave the bleating sheep and let's concentrate ourselves on the radical proletarian fringes that interest us, on the militants or groups of militants that are the closest to ours, those who go to these demonstrations to confront the capital and the state, those who consider that it is decisive to attack social democracy, those who claim themselves as revolutionaries and are present to develop the revolutionary struggle.
It is clear that to consider to be a revolutionary expresses a real jump of quality: this means to assume in a voluntary, organized and conscious way an activity aimed to the destruction of capitalism and the state. About this we have to point out, in order to come back to the previous comparison, that when the movement in Ecuador decreases, there only remains, in the best case, a few small cores of revolutionary militants who try to draw the lessons and to get in touch with other revolutionaries through the world. In Seattle on the contrary, minorities already exist that get themselves organized in a permanent way and that will give a continuity to their organization apart from the summits, what constitutes an extremely important affirmation of the tendency of the proletariat to organize itself in force and a historic affirmation of the revolutionary militancy. We are part of this process and within this one it seems for us essential to practice the comrade criticism.
One doesn't become revolutionary by a single act of will, but according to the social practice, to the practical role one plays, to what one defends in the practice. This is valid for the militants as well as for the political organizations. It is the social practice, the real social project that places a group, a militant, on one side or the other of the barricade.
History is full of examples of organizations that on behalf of revolution defended counterrevolution, of national and international political structures that on behalf of socialism, communism and/or anarchism defended precisely the opposite: capitalism and its State. At the root of all opportunisms, of all renouncements to the program of revolution, one always finds, as decisive factor of the treason, the ideology of the lesser evil, the "realistic" politics, "don't frighten the proletariat with radical propositions", "the masses would not understand", it is necessary to proceed "stage by stage", to dissolve the revolutionary program "to go where the masses are", and finally, to replace the communist program by a set of partial reforms or bridge-programs that always lead to the defense of capital. In order to impose itself, the counterrevolution always uses the same artifices, and these are not very numerous. This is the reason why it is important to analyze the struggles of the past and to draw lessons from them.
Within the organizations and groups present in Davos, Seattle, Prague... in the pamphlets, leaflets and publications as well as in the discussions, what we firstly see is that, for those who pretend to be revolutionaries, the main unifying and demarcating element is to assume and claim class violence, and naturally, organized violence of the class minorities (29). Against the ideology of "non-violence", so widespread in the official processions and that makes the work of the cops easier since it allows the police to put on files, to gas, to humiliate and to give thousands of human beings a beating without provoking any reaction from their own, it is logical and very important that groups claiming the revolution assume and exhort to the revolutionary violence. It is about an invariant necessity, a basic element of the rupture with the social democrat ideology and, at an international level, it is about an objective affirmation of the proletarian tendency to break with theoricism and armchair ideologists.
The fact to socially assume violence, as elementary phenomenon, as indispensable human necessity against the society of capital, reappears on the agenda in all movements of the proletariat. It is obvious that one internationally becomes aware of the necessity of class minority violence against the social democrat pacifist ideology. This awareness is and will be decisive for the structuring of the proletariat in world strength. This present tendency is determined by the exacerbation of all the contradictions of capital, but also by the action and the denunciation that we put forward since decades as for so many other revolutionary minorities. We insist to underline this because it is about a strong point of the movement and its vanguard expressions that we find in Seattle, in Ecuador, in Paris, in Moscow...
Today as yesterday, any group or organization that is opposed to the proletarian minorities' violence while putting forward antisubstitutionism, antiterrorism, the mythical "class violence in its whole", belongs in fact to social democracy and to the bourgeois State.
However, the violence alone cannot be considered as the sufficient element of a rupture. Considered separately, in itself, it doesn't allow drawing a demarcating line between reform and revolution, as bourgeois leftism tries to make us believe. Between reform (that also uses violence to defend the system) and revolution, there is a class abyss about social project and program. The proletariat has to practically organize itself outside and against social democracy, to delimit the more clearly possible the opposing camps. The practical affirmation of the proletariat as independent class simultaneously implies the theoretical definition of demarcating methods and objectives towards the bourgeois strengths. To believe that this demarcation can exclusively occur on the basis of the opposition between violence and non-violence, is absolutely insufficient and develops confusion.
However, within the movement against the summits, one notes a great disregard for the revolutionary theory, for the program of the destruction of capitalism, for the struggle in favor of precise programmatical agreements, for the question of the party, for the question of the power. Thus, in the shade of social democracy and as violent expression of its being, an ideology has grown that deny or minimize the importance of these questions on behalf of liberty or the "libertarian", of "direct action" and the "revolutionary practice". This conception is based on "activity", "the practical", and unity coming through "the struggles in the street". We mercilessly criticize this conception because, since ever, it leads towards opportunism.
Firstly, denying the importance of revolutionary theory and programmatical discussion obviously constitutes a very precise "revolutionary" theory, even if its partisans deny this. The refusal to define the revolutionary program of the proletariat, combined with the apology of "direct action" in the immediate activity and the "libertarian" in the political sphere, is a very concrete program that has nothing new. Opportunists of 19th and early 20th century, starting with Bernstein himself, already based their conception on this maxim: "the goal is nothing, the movement is all".
Still more serious, this movementism, this empiricism feels strong because it is capable to bring masses to the action, without frightening them with positions such the one of the necessary dictatorship of the proletariat for the abolition of wage labor. However, from the point of view of the proletariat, this lack of direction, of program and perspective, of permanent organization and assumation of the necessity to get centralized, constitutes a great historic weakness allowing, once more, one to carry on with manipulating us. From the point of view of the groups that develop and give a boost to this empiric and antiprogrammatical practice, it means leaving the door wide open to opportunism, frontism, to the ideology of the lesser evil, and in general, to the transition into the camp of social democracy, of counterrevolution.
Considering the characteristics of the proletarian struggles today in the world, what precisely the movement lacks is perspective, continuity, revolutionary direction, insurrectionary preparation, that is to say the affirmation of a strength that knows where to go, that fights to endow itself with a centralization and a direction. The proletariat affirms itself as a class only when it violently and in a lightning way reappears in the struggle, what is geographically today very limited. At the present time, this is the great weakness of our class: it is incapable to recognize itself in the struggles that take place at the other end of the planet. It is as if, at any time, the movement starts from scratch again, without having accumulated any historic experience. To not discern itself as a world class, to not recognize its own past, generate the inability to affirm (and, still worse, to know) the program of destruction of capitalism. It is therefore that the whole libertarian, practicist, movementist... ideologies, which opposes "direct action" to the revolutionary program, are today more harmful than ever. They act again the role of the lifelong opportunists: to prevent the revolutionary rupture with social democracy.
The fact that these groups and organizations consider themselves as revolutionaries is not enough to rank them in the camp of revolution. Indeed, their real practice precisely consists in defending this empirical ideology, this revolutionary anti-theory that always goes hand in hand with the activist practice.
Most of these militants who pretend to be revolutionaries consider that the central activity of the revolution consists in agitating, activating, giving rise to the struggle of the proletariat, leading some permanent campaigns against such or such multinational or institution of the capital and of course against the bourgeois summits. We don't criticize the fact that these activists consider themselves as professionals of revolution, that they organize themselves and try with all their heart to develop it; we criticize the fact that, according to them, revolution would result, not from the historic struggles of a social class, but from the generalization of their actions, from this activism (30). This ideology based on the specificity of the agitation action, of the recruitment in its favor and on the illusion to be able to destroy capitalism thanks to the generalization of activism (some are even going until linking victory with the number of busses that will go to the next summit), underscores an ignorance and an objective contempt not only about the historic movement to which these groups belong, but especially about the existing relationship between the struggles they lead and of other present or past proletarian struggles, that is to say about the revolutionary program. Activism thus closes its eyes to the historic arch of the communist struggle against capital; it defends "activity" against revolutionary theory, "direct action" against the necessity to get organized as a political force, as a revolutionary party, as a centralized force for the abolition of the capitalistic social order. Even when it speaks about organization, activism never considers constituting itself as a worldwide force, developing permanency and centralization, the worldwide party. It refers on the contrary to informal networks, to unity through action, to agreements on such or such campaigns. While repeating the old social democrat separation between practice and theory, while depreciating theory and pretending to act on behalf of the masses, of the will of those who struggle, of workers' democracy... activism always leads to the degeneration of political groups. These worshippers of immediatism end up running behind the masses and sacrificing the bulk of the revolutionary program.
[As Amadeo Bordiga said: "A banal deviation that one finds at the origin of the worse episodes of the degeneration of the movement, is the fact to underestimate the clarity and the continuity of principles (31) and to incite "the political being" to plunge into the activity of the movement that will show the way. It is not stopping to decide, while referring to the texts, going through them with a fine-tooth comb of the previous experience, but continuing without stopping in the heart of the action... Never a traitor or a Judas to the ruling class had deserted the movement, without having argued, firstly that he was the best and the most active "practical" defender of the workers' interests, and secondly that he acted thus because of the obvious will of the mass of his disciples..." (32).]
Revolutionary International? Activist lie!
Activism starts from the conception according to which the revolutionary international forms itself on the basis of immediate action. Nowadays, different groups calling into question the classic social democrat positions, participate in the circus of summits and anti-summits, in their propaganda; they support that it is about a confrontation between the capitalist international and the revolutionary international. [...]
In spite of the power of certain confrontations of our class against the summits and anti-summits, in spite of the violence of outflanking, confrontations against the police, in spite of the broken shop windows, etc. it is quite inadequate for us to speak about a revolutionary international. A revolutionary international, it is much more than all this, not only in quantitative terms, relative to expressions of violence, but also in qualitative terms. To glorify these proletarian actions and to identify them with a revolutionary international constitutes a gross distortion of facts and proposes a completely false picture of what a revolutionary international must be; and this, for different reasons.
The first is that the degree of autonomy of the proletariat remains very relative. Above all because the places, dates and methods... of the confrontations are not determined by the proletariat; they are imposed to it by the class enemy (33) and settled at the time of the summits and/or the parallel summits. And even though trying to prevent their realization or demonstrating against them is a part of our protest, we cannot speak about autonomy of action if we entirely depend on these summits to appear and demonstrate.
And indeed, several groups and militants draw the following lessons from Seattle: "it is not necessary to throw oneself into the lion's jaws", "it is our turn to decide where, when and how we will demonstrate" (34). The consciousness of this reality constitutes one of the strongest aspects, developed by the minorities, which impulse the violent action, and several organizations and groups show the necessity to get organized apart from the circus of the summits and anti-summits. Different associations, networks and assemblies begin to claim this objective, shaping thus the embryo of a community of struggle that could be decisive in the future and prefigure, through its practice, the direction the proletariat needs.
However, and it is necessary to affirm this very clearly, at the time of these summits, even though class violence develops, the degree of autonomy of the proletariat remains weak, extremely weak. This greatly relieves the cops in their work of preparation and knowledge of the ground in case of "fight" as well as in order to arrange cameras, to film, to put on file and to identify "the more dangerous elements".
The bourgeoisie already achieved important successes at the time of such operations. We have to state the fact that an excellent division of work has been realized, in order to channel, to scatter and to repress the proletariat: a maximum of people are invited, one puts the great majority among them to sleep through "sheeplike" walks and ballads behind the inevitable pacifist groups; and one makes sure that ["those who are dead keen"???] ["those who have some intentions"???] form processions aside or with different colors, with the declared objective to violently express themselves and to smash shop windows, what obviously makes the police's action easier. Sleep therapy for the great majority, truncheons and filings for those who look for confrontation, this is how our enemies work in order to divide the proletariat. This is as if they filtered the movement, selecting and identifying perfectly those it is necessary to put on file, those it is necessary to arrest.
The predominant ideology in any number of these activist groups makes this division of work easier. The fact that they don't define themselves outside and against the official processions of protests and any number agrees to form other columns within these processions contributes to the work of the state. Moreover, in some cases, those who take the head of the outflanking are nothing but the "youth sections" of leftist groups or fractions of social democracy (Maoist, Trotskyites, guerrillerists...) who obviously not stand against social democracy, against the propositions aiming to humanize capitalism, but which through their so-called "radical" actions (spectacular, in fact) give a greater credibility to social democracy (35).
It would be different if the most determined sectors of the proletariat acted to prevent this division of work, if they rejected the separation between those who gently parade and the demonstrators who smash property, if they organized violence in order to fight processions and official protests and to bring thus the whole of the proletarians to violently protest and confront not only the official police, but also the trade-union and left cops who, in collaboration with the first, guarantee the division of work and state terrorism.
One may retort us that we don't have the balance of forces in our favor to face the left bourgeoisie, that shock troops of the left and the trade-union cops always assure the pacific order of their demonstrations, but these affirmations do nothing but confirm the lack of autonomy we spoke about above.
This shows that the ideology which is dominant in this milieu is the one of the lesser evil; that, because of this ideology, the organization of the proletarian violence never overtly expresses itself against social democracy and the anti-summits but always against the right wing and the official summits; that, because of this ideology, the organization of the proletarian violence forms itself on the ground of social democracy (as if the proletariat could conquer this way its autonomy!) and that it breaks out not against social democracy (that on the whole gets out of trouble rather well, in spite of the verbal criticism blaming it for "pacifism and other deviations"), but against the rampart which protects the bourgeoisie: the official police (36).
All this is a matter for the bourgeois leftism and clearly aims to divert the proletariat from its criticism of the society. A revolutionary direction must fight for the opposite, to prevent that the division of work carried out by the bourgeoisie between anesthetizing speeches and processions, between sticks and putting on file, were to be crowned with success. Rather than confronting super-trained policemen who are only waiting this, it would be more judicious to attack social democrats by surprise, clearly lesser prepared, or to fight policemen when they are not waiting for and when we decide it. To walk besides social democracy or into different colors columns, but always in its wake, as this would radicalize these demonstrations, all this means a catastrophic result for the proletariat. It is necessary to get organized outside and against these social democrat processions, to constitute oneself in force to stand in the way of it, and to prevent them to achieve their forums like in Porto Alegre. To structure the proletarian force, to decide our own objectives, to stop considering, like Attac, the forum of Porto Alegre etc., that the enemy is the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, this is what will be decisive for the future.
To confront the same objectives with social democracy, even in a violent and radical way, this is falling in the ideology of the lesser evil and accepting the principle of frontism, principle that, in the name of antifascism, led the Marxists-Leninists as well as the trade-unionist anarchists and the Trotskyites, to stand towards the bourgeois state against the revolution (firstly in 1936/37 in Spain, and then everywhere in the world).
Until now, it is a matter of only one thing: it is to prevent, through violence, the meetings of the International Monetary Fund, of the World Bank... one never speaks about those of Attac, neither the Socialist International or the Social Forums..., what brings to light the weakness of our class and, especially, the predominance of centrism, even in the most radical demonstrations of the proletariat.
In these demonstrations, and in spite of the presence of columns and different colors, the proletariat associates to social democracy and marches alone against the enemies of this latter, revealing then that we are always at the beginning of the class autonomy. The proletariat, in order to autonomize itself, must also break with the so-called "autonomists" who lead it in these processions and citizen Masses, organized by the social democrats (even though it is to radicalize them) and who prevent our class thus to achieve to a real autonomy.
Urban guerrilla warfare? Insurrection?
Some people also pretend that this type of confrontation would correspond to a certain extent to an "urban guerrilla warfare, a kind of insurrection or insurrectionary practice". This conception could be interesting if really it gets organized on its own bases, what is currently not the case. The real insurrectionary revolutionary struggle cannot depend neither on the fact to go where we are long awaited to be given a beating there, nor on the confrontation with an over-prepared enemy who is just waiting for this. It's always the same old ritual: the bourgeoisie and the chiefs of the repression send a troop of over trained mercenaries against which we come a cropper while they stay hided and are under cover. What can they want besides than to see our strength banging against shields, which protect them while they come out unscathed?
Moreover, the laws of insurrection are precisely the opposite of this ritual: concentration of proletarian forces against an enemy who doesn't expect it; choice of the place and the moment according to the objectives, and attack where and when we are the less long-awaited; refusal to fight in a military way when the enemy is superior to us; spreading of a date for the attack, and taking action before, when the enemy doesn't expect it, or after, when he is tired to wait; to avoid to become fixed into a resistance based upon permanent points; to disperse facing an enemy who is advancing and to gather only for a surprise attack; to make barracks unusable as well as places where the troops are confined, where they are concentrated in order to get them obey; to hit at home the capitalists, those in power and the head of the repression, to prevent them from directing the repressive terrorist operations either while capturing them, either while isolating them, or still while removing them from any possibility to direct their troops...
Let's go still farther: from the point of view of the insurrection we don't have any interest to confront and destroy policemen generally (even though we need to be pitiless with all the agents of law and order who practice terror!), what is necessary is to destroy the coherence of repression corps (call for not shooting against one's own people but against the officers); to confront as a whole the forces that the bourgeoisie uses as a defense does nothing but encouraging this famous esprit de corps.
This is why the "guerrillerist conception" that is nowadays so much fashionable requires all our criticism. This conception makes a caricature of the guerrilla warfare while inciting to the struggle apparatus against apparatus, that always favors the state. It would seem that the "leadership of the insurrectionary operations" - may be through lack of revolutionary perspectives - is proud of the quantity of wounded policemen as well as the number of people injured and put on file in our ranks. Reports from leftist bourgeois that is handed round on internet and under form of videos, count and glorify the number of injured and the spectacular pictures of confrontations, letting believe that this would further the social revolution. One only has to consult sites like Indymedia to have an idea about the craze for the trading of "action" and "revolt" pictures that seized activists, and about the way of which they undertake this work that, finally, can only be useful for the spectacle and the police.
The revolutionary struggle will make injured, prisoners and deaths among proletarians, but our interest is that they are the least numerous possible. We already have too many victims! All historic examples demonstrate that when a proletarian insurrection develops, there are very few victims, and that when one attacks the chiefs of the repression and the bourgeois state, the number of comrades who falls is limited. Inversely, the number of victims rises as soon as one calls to resist or to demonstrate against the repressive power of the state (37).
Historically, the proletariat always opposed direct action facing social democracy, this fundamental force of containment and of channeling the proletarian struggle whose strategy relies on the representation and the mediation in trade unions, parliaments, elections, the support towards delegates and political leaders... Direct action means an action without mediator nor delegate, assumed by all, strike and demonstration, occupation of the street, revolutionary violence, insurrection, revolutionary dictatorship, the action that doesn't require any mediation, no delegation and that, in this way, historically constitutes the contrary of the democratic action, of the citizen life.
Nowadays, in Davos, Seattle, Prague, Gothenburg, Naples, Genoa,... some groups of militants revel in words like direct action they merely assimilate with violent action in the street. However, if violence is well one of the components of direct action, it is not enough to define it.
Direct action of the proletariat against parliamentarianism, trade-unionism, electoralism... of social democracy doesn't need neither mediation, nor delegation, nor representative elections, it is everywhere generalizable, reproducible and by all.
It means that to be direct, in the historic sense of the word, violent action cannot rest on delegations and must be feasible by proletarians wherever they may be. The key of direct action, which we oppose to social democracy, precisely lies in the fact that any proletarian group can assume it where it is, and, through this practice, oppose the delegation, the mediation which are determining elements of democracy and therefore of any bourgeois political domination.
Direct action claimed in Seattle, Prague, Davos, Gothenburg, Naples, and Genoa... is not of this order. Indeed, violence is fooled there because it is useful like synonym of direct action, whereas in the practice, to be able to act, one sends delegates in what one defines as the center where direct action is supposed to develop par excellence.
This doesn't mean that the action led against the circus of summits and anti-summits is not a part of the proletariat's direct action. What we criticize is that the present organizations don't push to daily fight, there where one is (the capital is everywhere), but magnify their own activism and present their "direct action" like the most valid.
The mystification that consists in considering Davos, Seattle, Prague, Gothenburg, Naples, Genoa... as decision-making centers of the capital, and the fact that they assign to confrontations semi-insurrectional characteristics they don't possess, makes that these groups consider that "direct action" consists par excellence in going to fight against capitalism according to the timetable of bourgeois congresses, as if any other struggle only had a local significance and therefore of least importance. They forget that apart proletarians who live in cities where summits and counter-summits are held and who obviously take to the street, alone a handful of militants, delegates of the proletariat of different countries can go to the conferences in order to develop there "direct action", and in that way the principle of delegation is maintained. Whether these delegates throw more stones and molotov cocktails won't change anything to the fact that it is about a mediation through which the majority of the proletariat should feel represented. [...]
It is obviously encouraging to see that in any country where summits take place, the proletariat aggressively denounces these capitalistic celebrations and takes to the street, it is stimulating to see that groups of proletarians coming from other countries collaborate to the organization of these actions, and moreover, that they also organize them (and/or coordinate and centralize the organization) in other countries. This is not what we criticize; the coordination and the organization beyond borders are fundamental for the affirmation and the strengthening of the community of struggle that will destroy the capital.
What we affirm is that the majority of proletarians from other countries are not able, and don't have any interest besides, to go where these events take place. Contrary to what centrists of all kinds publish, who estimate the next "triumphs" according to the fact that thousands of activists or hundreds of busses will go to the next summit, this cannot be our perspective.
[...] In some cases, hundreds of proletarians and revolutionary militants make a huge effort to send dozens of militants to these capitalistic high masses, but it is obvious that in general only the trade-union apparatuses and the political parties, designed for functioning through delegation, can allow this type of travel in a regular way. It is not necessary from then on to wonder if in addition to the police and the secret services of several countries, political and trade union delegates swarm in the streets of the cities that welcome summits and anti-summits.
No, one thousand times no, from the point of view of the proletariat the real direct action is first and foremost the action led every day against the boss, against the bourgeoisie facing us, against parties and trade-unions that want to frame us. It is necessary to generalize it, to make it world-wide; it is necessary to coordinate it, to encourage the militant exchanges between countries; it is necessary to fight together everywhere against the world capital, but it is absurd to imagine that the most numerous we will be in one place the best it will be. At the time of the insurrection, the world proletariat won't be concentrated in one place, because it won't be about destroying commodity in such city or such country, but on the whole planet and, for this it won't be necessary to confront neither a local police force nor a national one, but to destroy the bourgeois power as a whole and all over the world.
To believe that proletarians are going to gather and express themselves more and more massively against conferences until capitalism blows up is not only harmful and counterproductive for the movement, but comes under stupid illusion and distort the very concept of direct action. Even though it is invited to do like this, the combative proletariat won't take part to these bourgeois demonstrations. At the very most, some groups that represent it will go there, as well as trade-union delegates who would like to speak in their name. Anyway, the interest of the revolutionary groups which would decide to go there is not to make the apology of "direct action" these representatives develop, but rather to centralize direct action of the proletariat that we have to impulse everywhere.
17. Farther, the reader will understand why we specify "trying to impose its direct action" and not "assuming its direct action".
18. We already specified that it is a myth to believe that the future of the worldwide capital can be decided in this kind of conferences. This said, the bourgeois are also obliged to formally centralize themselves in order to pass agreements, to try to draw perspectives and impose more similar economic policies, such those that characterize the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund. Anyway the bourgeoisie of each country uses more and more the negotiations and the requirements of these institutions in order to justify their own policy of austerity. Hence this "natural" proletarian rage against all this, and the fact that in each country, one also confronts the missions of these organisms and the measures they want to add.
25. As far as the movement of the proletariat in Ecuador is concerned, we refer to the reading of "We underline: Latin America: Against the myth of invincibility of the repressive forces" in Comunismo No.45 (in Spanish), Comunismo No.4 (in Portuguese) and Communisme No.51 (in French). The comparison we propose here could apply to any great proletarian revolt, as in Venezuela, Albania, Iraq...
26. We don't have any interest to separate these movements. What we want is to stress on the unique content of the movement of the proletariat and on the necessity of its revolutionary centralization. However, the fact that for the present the separation and the distinction exist, the fact that, in the both examples, the protagonists themselves ignore that it is about only one movement, this incited us to dwell upon the differences, to push the tendencies in presence until their extreme expressions (even if it means presenting the differences in a much more pure way than they actually are), in order to analyze them. Indeed, to analyze the most extreme differences allows to develop a precise comradely criticism for each of these expressions; and at the same time, to show that we are facing one and only movement. The following caricature allows to understand our methodology: let's admit that the movement in Ecuador starts with the economic misery and the one of Seattle, with the political consciousness, it appears then obvious that this separation is a caricature, but this can help us to clarify the different actions peculiar to each of the cases and to understand, or better said, to assume that it is about, as we reaffirm at the end of the text, one and only movement, the social movement for the abolition of capital. If we only would stress on the fact that any struggle is a part of only one movement, that everything is the same, what is ultimately true, it would be nearly impossible to express an explanation based on the comparison, as we make here.
27. Social democracy, Marxism-Leninism, anarcho-syndicalism talks about the transition of the economics towards the politics, or about the transformation of the immediate struggles into historic struggles, as if they were of different nature. They assign this change in general to the contribution of consciousness, or to the political action of the party. As far we are concerned, we who refuse this separation (see the Theses of programmatical orientation, ICG, numbers 15, 31, 32 and 33), we prefer to talk about the generalization of immediate claiming. The class contradictions contain in themselves their generalization, what implies that any struggle against the concrete conditions of exploitation, against the bourgeois measures of austerity (increase of the rate of profit), even though it only develops in a geographically limited way, any struggle then contains the struggle against this society of exploitation as a whole. What determines the transition towards the generalization is not the political action of the vanguard elements but, on the contrary, the development of the interests of the proletariat that no particular struggle can lead towards victory, that no particular claiming can satisfy and that tends (including against the intervention of political activists), to generalize into struggle against the capital and the state. In general, as we mention in the thesis No.15, the qualitative jump materializes by the overtaking of the organizations expressing some partial claiming (organizations of workers, classist associations, factory committees...) and by the transition towards territorial organizations where all the proletarians gather - women and men, workers and unemployed, old people and children... -, as the workers' councils, supplies committees, assemblies of one or several cities.
28. In the middle of the 19th century, Marx already criticized the pretension aiming to estimate that a movement would be more global by the fact that it would be more political and thus to take the revolutionary political will as a basis. Marx demonstrated on the contrary that the proletarian rebellion, even though it only takes place in only one region, contains in itself the totality. See about this discussion with Ruge: Critical notes on the article "The King of Prussia and social reform. By a Prussian", Karl Marx.
29. Whether they are aware about or not, proletarians who assume and claim violent minority action break with democracy, even though it is called "workers' democracy". They assume the fact that revolutionary action has nothing to do with democratic referenda and conferences, that the proletariat can constitute itself as a force only while coordinating and centralizing the different expressions that assume, without previous consultation, the different revolutionary tasks. It is through this process, through this affirmation of the community of interests and struggle, that the proletariat reconstitutes itself as a class and therefore organizes itself as a party opposed to all existing parties.
30. One can read a criticism of this ideology and how it looks today in the text "Give up activism", published in "Reflections on June 18. Contribution on the politics behind the events that occurred in the city of London on June 18, 1999" [???], Collective Edition, October 1999. This text collects several interesting contributions, but it is necessary to point out two things however. First of all, it is the ideological and intellectualist conception of the authors. These last don't analyze activism neither as being part of the social practice of the international proletariat, of its strengths, of its weaknesses (and therefore of relation of forces with regard towards capital), nor as an objective product of the movement. They consider it as the exclusive subjective product of "activists". It is also necessary to point out the lack of revolutionary counterproposal, of claiming of the specific revolutionary activity that since ever characterized the most decided fractions of the proletariat, the internationalist revolutionary activity.
31. We never use the word "principle" to define our historic movement because this one doesn't go out from principles. Let's remember that the first formulation of what will be later the "Manifesto of the Communist Party" in 1847, released by Engels, was titled "The Principles of Communism", and that Marx and Engels considering this inadequate formulation, decided to change it.
32. Cf.: "False recourse to activism", in Invariance, number 3. [our own translation]
33. One could retort us that the exploited class always acts according to determinations of the ruling class, that the capital is the subject of this society and that the proletariat can only emerge as negation. This is right but, in this precise case, it is not about a spontaneous and generalized reaction of the proletariat facing a bourgeois attack that, even though it also determines the action of the proletariat by its aggression, cannot foresee how it will react, when it will decide to take action, nor which action it will develop. In the case of the summits and anti-summits, it is the opposite; the action of the proletariat is completely determined and publicly known in advance.
34. Excerpts from comrades' leaflets, conversations and letters.
35. For the majority of these groups (pseudo-radical in fact) that use it in an immediate and erroneous sense, the term "to radicalize" means to give a violent character to the social democrat procession, to outflank Attac's masses through "direct action" (see farther the criticism of the use of the term "direct action"), what basically opposes the only policy the proletariat is interested in, and which consists in standing outside and against these counterrevolutionary demonstrations. For us, to radicalize means to go to the root, to fight in order to destroy the very roots of the bourgeois society, in other words to destroy its foundations, value, wage labor... all these programmatical "little details" all these groups never mention.
36. And this is one of the major problems of the proletariat. Social democracy must not be criticized for its deviations, but because it is a part of the capital; it is not necessary to denounce its pacifism, but to confront it through revolutionary violence, because this pacifism is only an ideological element that allows it to better impose us its counterrevolutionary violence (let's remember that social democracy used since ever violence... against the revolution!).
37. Let's recall that this article has been written before the meeting of the G8 in Genoa. Demonstrations, which took place on this occasion, show adequately what we denounce here: one dead, hundreds of injured in our ranks and the impunity for the repressive corps.