Chapter III

Submitted by libcom on July 28, 2005

Community and Communism in Russia (III)

Every revolution has a triple character depending on how long ago
it occurred. If one envisages the revolution in a vast historical
cycle, it appears like a natural phenomenon which developed
spontaneously and with irrepressible violence. That is how the
Russian revolution appears when one studies it from the 1825
Decembrists (many of Pestel's positions were re-adopted by the
populists and he himself adopted some of Radishchev's, which were
at least thirty years earlier) to the October revolution.
However, if one examines the revolution at the moment of its
paroxysm, culminating in February to October 1917, it appears
that it only happened because there were people that could be
called 'extraordinary' and that the revolution could only happen
because of their action. Some made Lenin into a messiah, and
Zinoviev said that he was the type of man who appeared only once
in 500 years. Finally, when one studies the revolution in
retrospect, in what it realized, and one compares it with the
pre-revolutionary period, often some doubt its necessity. All
that happened was that the members of the ruling class tended to
make it, so the conviction as to its uselessness is reinforced.
Instead one must know how to reform in time. It is true that the
revolution solved no problems that it itself was to create, but
it resolved those that the previous mode of production had given
rise to and could not solve.

We have analysed the first characteristic, there remain the other
two, which are intimately linked and are determined by the first.
Here it is not a matter of making a justification, but of giving
as realistic an exposition as possible of what had inevitably to
arise from the moment that the discontinuity that we have
mentioned had not been integrated into the theory. We shall only
provide statements because it is impossible to prove adequately
their truth in the bounds of this introduction.

Whatever some critics of bolshevism may say, the Bolsheviks did
not stage a coup d'etat in October 1917, in the sense that it was
a movement to force the situation and to assume a different
course to the one already started. Their seizure of power was an
absolutely vital moment of the revolutionary movement beginning
in February. It allowed the realization of what was already
underway, but which would have been stopped if the old state (an
obstacle to the free development of the revolutionary forces) had
not also been destroyed. Not even a capitalist revolution would
have been able to develop without this act, and Russia would have
evolved like India did.

On the other hand, the Bolsheviks could not make "the bourgeois
revolution in the proletarian manner", despite what Bordiga said.
The Brest-Litovsk peace was not, as Lenin hoped:

"...peace in the interests of the working people, and
not in the interests of the capitalists." [1]

In March 1917 he had written:

"There is only one way to prevent the restoration of
the police, and that is to create a people's militia
and to fuse it with the army (the standing army to be
replaced by the arming of the entire people)." [2]

But the police was re-established and Lenin proclaimed it to be
necessary. As for the Red Army, it was constituted just like the
army of the French revolution, as an amalgam, separated from the

Workers' control had been one of the central points of the
revolutionary programme before October, but it was rapidly
replaced by economic management, the need for competition, and
the Taylor system (which Lenin had previously criticised
violently). Thus there is a mass of facts attesting to the
overgrowth of the revolution, hoped for by Lenin from 1905, and
on which the majority of revolutionaries had counted, being
exhausted in a year due to the delay in international aid. So a
purely capitalist content imposed itself. The Bolsheviks also
rapidly lost the ability to understand all the possible renewals
of this overgrowth, because they were caught up in the state.
They no longer had the receptivity to allow them to avoid losing
all touch with the proletariat and peasantry.

There was some radicalization in 1919 with the revolutionary
movements in the West, allowing the creation of the Third
International, but the retreat reopened the path to economic
integration. The soviet state progressively became a state
stronger than society, but prey to world capital. The Bolsheviks
wished to maintain the state as it had been built. They would
only modify it as they were so constrained and forced. Above all,
they would concede it to the proletariat only after the latter's
reformation, economic re-organization, and the restarting of
industry. This was, as Venturi showed, somewhat similar to the
position of some members of Narodnaya Volya:

"The revolutionary party would not hand over power to
the representatives of the people until the revolution
had been achieved. Until that time they would keep it
firmly in their own hands and resist anyone who tried
to snatch it from them." [3]

Put another way, the Russian proletariat had not succeeded in
constituting itself as the ruling class in the way Marx had
indicated in the Communist Manifesto and Critique of the Gotha
Programme. It had thus foundered just like the western
proletariat in 1848 and 1871. The Kronstadt Commune and its
repression, the great strike in Petrograd, are the most
convincing expressions of this. Parallel to this retreat was the
fact that Lenin spoke more of building socialism in Russia after
1921. The constitution as a ruling class was realized later in a
mystified form (just as in the West) when the last opposition
movements were eliminated.

Leading the "bourgeois revolution", even "in the proletarian
manner" cannot avoid the retention of the conception of the
party, the latter being conceived of institutionally: one must
organize the working class which finally organizes the peasantry,
thus Russian society. The society sank ever deeper into chaos
following the dissolution of the obshchina which made a solidly
structured party necessary: it was the sole element with an
absolute will, inflexibility and the ability to be the
intermediary between the state and the peasants.

Lenin was circumspect over the soviets. (In one way he agreed
with the Mensheviks: the appearance of the soviets was due to the
absence of the party and trade unions.) He praised them: they
were "the embryo of a new revolutionary power", and he mistrusted
them because he feared spontaneist and anarcho-syndicalist
influences. The soviets were a sort of adaptation of an organ of
the obshchina called the skhod. So in finally adopting them in
1917 and to such an extent that they were placed in the front
rank in State and Revolution, Lenin again adopted populist
elements because the revolution in Russia could not avoid having
a populist character. But he could not stop identifying the
soviets with a western phenomenon. He declared that they realized
proletarian democracy while they were beyond democracy from the
start just because of their attempt to recompose the community,
even beyond the geo-social-historic basis of the countryside. The
formation of soviets was the affirmation of the constitution of
the proletarian class as class. But very soon after there was a
break between them and the Communist Party. The soviets were not
powerful enough to encompass it, and the party did not succeed in
achieving a supersession on their basis (a spontaneous movement
against Tsarism and world capital). The impossibility of the
union between them expressed the blocking of the Russian
revolution as a socialist revolution.

The explosion of the soviets as the way of life of the Russian
proletariat in its movement for the destruction of capital allows
the explanation of the following difference: in pre-1914 Germany
the SPD and the trade unions it ran grouped all the workers,
while in Russia a similar party did not exist on the eve of the
revolution. The party in Germany was the expression of the
proletarian movement. It tended to be a society, as some have
remarked. We would say moreover that it tended to form a new
community which also maintained capital's presuppositions, hence
its failure. Its project was realized without the illusory veil
by the Nazi Party when it included the proletariat as producer in
the community of capital. Rosa Luxemburg clearly understood this
and waited right to the end before making the break, i.e. when
the break had already been made by the proletariat. The break did
not pose such a problem for the Russians because the community
that the workers tended to create occurred in forms other than
the party: in the soviets. The party phenomenon as the expression
of the global class opposition could not occur in Russia because
of the non-class dimension to the revolution. We have insisted at
length on the popular-populist aspect of the 1905 revolution
(that is why the historians of the Russian revolution prefer to
deal with it as rapidly as possible) which re-appeared in
February and even October 1917. The soviets thus had to be
reconquered, while in Germany the councils immediately fell under
SPD influence and the revolutionary proletariat had to form

In both cases, Russia and Germany, the wish to use the other as a
model was partly irrelevant. Originally Lenin and the Bolsheviks
(but also the Mensheviks to some extent) dreamt of creating a
party like the SPD. Later the German communists aimed at
bolshevization of their own party.

The various parties all acted as if marginal to the action,
despite all their links with the masses: marginal to the movement
of the proletariat and peasantry. The hiatus could have been
abolished in 1917. It is perhaps because of this discord between
the party and the masses that some have said that the October
revolution was premature. We think that it was an attempt at
unification, more exactly of a party-masses coalescence with the
question of the struggle between the parties as bearers of
different historical perspectives always in suspense, and always
both present and absent was the abandonment of the perspective of
the leap over the CMP, the determining factor in the development
of the revolution. The socialist overgrowth could only be
realized on the basis of this unification.

One of the most controversial measures was the proclamation of
the right of nations to self-determination: certainly a bourgeois
measure, but needed to disorganize the Tsar's empire, so
enfeebling the central power. That is why one already finds it in
the programme of the worker members of the Narodnaya Volya party:

"(3) Peoples who have been annexed to the Russian state
by violence will be free either to abandon the
Pan-Russian federation or to remain within it." [4]

And this had been stated by other populist currents beforehand.
One must not, though, omit the fact that Lenin did not oppose the
members of the proletarian parties of the countries under Russian
domination when they declared that, on the contrary, one must
remain in the Russian zone. But the weakness lay in not having
understood the important mutation in relation to the nineteenth
century. Then a reconstructed Poland played a revolutionary role.
A century later, its re-establishment could only be the creation
of the counter-revolution. Rosa Luxemburg had seen this
intuitively [5].

It is insufficient to attribute the checking of the revolution in
the countries that separated themselves from Russia to the
Bolsheviks' position. It was the product of the weakness of the
whole international movement. The revolution in the countries on
the southern periphery (i.e. Turkey, Iran and India), which had
also been affected by the revolutionary wave, was easily blocked
by world capitalism and clearly the USSR used them from the very
start to diminish the pressure exercised on herself, so
contributing to the congealing of their development.

However, just like those countries, Central Europe too
constituted an axis where revolution and counter-revolution again
met and the two axes were like the fault lines of contemporary
capitalist society. It is no accident that among the most
repressive states in the world are to be found there. The
counter-revolution thus had to block the development by provoking
a balkanization of Central Europe (where it was only
restructured) as in other countries of the Middle East, and
especially with the division of India into India, Pakistan,
Bangladesh, Ceylon and the small Himalayan states. Now however,
the revolution develops from above and the spectre of popular
revolution has not been totally exorcized. Also the 1911 movement
in Ceylon showed a communist dimension.

The Bolsheviks did not succeed in re-imposing communist theory.
Bordiga stated the opposite and always called this theory
marxism. This is, for us, only the ideologization of the theory.
It is true that Bordiga's proposition would be correct, taken
literally, but we maintain our statement, given what we have
said. Actually the Bolsheviks `restored' what they needed for
their immediate struggle, i.e., things on the state, revolution,
party, development of the CMP, the development of human societies

The weakness of the Bolshevik Party appears in this definition of
communism by Lenin:

"What is a communist? Communist is a Latin word.
Communis is Latin for 'common'. Communist society is a
society where all things the land, the factories - are
owned in common and the people work in common. That is
communism." [6]

A restoration no longer imposes itself upon us (even if one
removes everything reactionary from that word) because one has to
do more. One has to supersede Marx's work and that of all those
working with the communist revolution in view. It is the
capitalist movement which imposes itself upon us. It has gone, as
Marx foresaw, beyond its limits and so it is no longer a matter
of, e.g. developing an activity to restructure the working class,
to unite it, but of operating in the movement of the negation of
classes. Thus it is not a question of wishing to impose the
dialectic again, but of thinking of superseding it.

The analysis of what the Russian revolution realized and its
diffusion in the world is more important than the study of the
errors and weaknesses of the Bolsheviks, even though these cannot
be excluded from the lesson. Given the weight of the
communitarian phenomenon, it is totally inadequate to compare the
Russian revolution with the revolutions of 1789-84, 1848-9, or
1871, as Lenin did, following Engels. There are certainly common
traits, but the dimension of the leap over the CMP was always
missing as the perspective and possibility of these revolutions.
This perspective end possibility supported the whole Russian
revolutionary process.

The Russian revolution profited from the capitalist mode of
production, just as the CMP profited from the USSR. This was
already the case of Russia in the last century:

"Russian diplomacy has already survived, not only
undamaged, but with direct profit, so many western
European revolutions, that it was in a position to
greet the outbreak of the February revolution of 1848
as an exceedingly favourable occasion." [7]

Russia had helped England to become the leading capitalist power
in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries and by maintaining the
European status quo, especially after 1848, it aided in the
realization of the formal domination of capital. The USSR became
partner to the US in the twentieth century and contributed to
ensuring the latter's global supremacy. But that simultaneously
facilitated the realization of the real domination of capital
over society [8]. Two great revolutions, in France and China,
momentarily tended to question those evil-intentioned alliances.
Each time the shock could be overcome and now one can say that
China is integrated into the community of capital's domination,
that its real domination is tending to graft itself onto Chinese

Both revolutions were defeated. The defeat was concretized in the
destruction of the German proletariat, so feared by Marx. But it
was not Tsarism, but the young soviet capitalism that did this,
so greatly increasing the realization of the real domination of
capital over society world-wide.

The end result was the rejuvenation of capital because, in the
final analysis, it profited from humanity's youthful forces, i.e.
the countries still not overcome by the development of exchange
value. Capital's own movement has resolved the question Marx
asked Engels in his letter of 1858. But the irruption of the
masses which had barely issued from the community, or were
separating from it, weighed so heavily on the development of
humanity that one again finds the debate between populists and
marxists over the resolution of the questions posed by the
introduction of capital into such areas, while an attempt was
made to avoid the western path. There was certainly a very rapid
development and what emerged twenty years ago has largely been
superseded by capital because capital itself has drawn the
lessons of the development of the western "path". The Japanese
did not destroy their old human relations, and so they could
graft the capitalist mode of production onto feudal society which
has not yet been fully dissolved. So there could be a limitation
to the constitution of the proletariat as a class because the
break with the old presuppositions was not made. Primitive
accumulation by the western method was impossible in China
because the expropriation of the peasants would create utter
chaos due to the enormity of the population. Besides, capital
used the communitarian phenomenon to hinder the autonomization of
the working class. This is the case in South Africa where the
black proletariat is readsorbed into the old community to which
it returns after a few years in the town, the community being the
zone of capital's reserve. Finally there are areas of climatic
difficulty where capital has only been able to implant itself
through the communitarian phenomenon. This is exemplified in
Israel by the kibbutz, but it also occurs in Angola, or did in
Zaire under Belgian rule. Generally capital, having reached the
level of material community, no longer needs totally to dissolve
the old social relations in order to dominate. Moreover,
dissolving them would even remove the possibility for capital to
implant itself because it needs humans, those able to survive,
and the only living and operative behaviour is the communitarian
one in some parts of the world.

Another statement one can make on Russia's rise, and which was
generalized in nearly all the countries undergoing capitalist
revolutions after 1917, is that liberalism and democracy cannot
flourish there. There can be either communist forms or despotism.
Some populists understood this perfectly. In these countries
there can but be inflation of the state, assuming grotesque
aspects in some African states.

Here again we can note the theoretical wandering of Lenin and the
Bolsheviks: their defence of democracy and the wish to establish
a proletarian democracy. The whole debate between them and the
social-democrats (especially Kautsky and Bauer) was a huge quid
pro quo. The latter called the Bolsheviks undemocratic; the
Bolsheviks replied that they were realizing democracy, not pure
democracy, but true democracy: democracy for the vast majority
etc.. But this was impossible in Russia as this country could
either go far beyond democracy, or engender despotism, given the
historico-social character. This aided the social-democrats'
positions given that the dictatorship of the proletariat was
rapidly reduced to that of the party and so that of the state.
The defence of democracy in the west could only be a defence of
capital, but the Bolsheviks could not state that theoretically
and practically as they were enlisted in the glorification of
revolutionary parliamentarianism. Perhaps only Bordiga took a
revolutionary position: total rejection of democracy [9], but his
break was rapidly readsorbed due the position he took on the
Russian revolution and the Communist International. The
revolutionaries acted under the level of historical
potentialities. If "words overflowed the content" in 1848, as
Marx said, after 1917 in the West, words masked the inability to
seize the content.

In short one can say that the 1848-1917 period (one should also
remember the other rejuvenation's, such as the Chinese
revolution, which took place during the period of renewal
indicated above) was when the proletarian revolution in the
period of capital's formal domination over society was mainly
classist as the proletariat had to destroy the bourgeois state on
taking power, constituting itself as the ruling class, but also
because it had to generalize its own condition to allow the
growth of the productive forces, a fundamental condition for
proceeding to communism. One finds here what may be called Marx's
revolutionary reformism and linked to it the characteristic that
once power was won, one went on to reforms of the economic
apparatus and to proclaim laws favouring the proletarian class,
e.g. shortening the working day:

"The shortening of the working day is its (i.e.
socialism's) basic prerequisite.." [10]

This conditioned the existence of post-capitalist phases before
pure communism. Also the indirect tactic had to be applied, given
that a certain development of the productive forces was
necessary, and so too a sufficiently developed proletariat. One
had to struggle against capital's enemies or to pressurize
capital through the intermediary of the state to improve the
proletariat's position, but also to force capital to
develop [11]. When Marx wrote inter alia a phenomenology of
capital, he also wrote defending a theory of growth. Clearly he
wanted to understand the development of capital and not only to
describe the mode of its destruction (Marx's study is a
necrology, as Bordiga said), but also to be able to proceed
without exchange value developing and engendering capital,
especially in countries where the CMP was little developed or was
yet to start. Since the 1848 revolution had not destroyed the old
society, one had to explain capitalist society in order to
understand how the revolution would be able to launch a new
attack on it. Also one had to smash the various utopias like
Proudhon's which desired free credit!

The men who could appear when a new social form emerged or when a
social form had to give over to another (the two moments did not
always coincide) could be revolutionaries, while those having to
live while the new mode of production had to exhaust its content
were often easily absorbed. Marx and Engels saw the great break
of 1848, but they too had to submit to the phase of capital's
development, especially after 1871. Their revolutionary reformism
emerged during this phase. It was not for nothing that Capital
described the movement of the CMP and showed how the proletariat
could fight it, "the serpent of their torments", and described
above all how communism could implant itself on the basis of
capital's formal domination over society. Clearly their position
was difficult when they refused to retreat after the
revolutionary movement was finished to avoid letting themselves
be absorbed by the infamous honesty of bourgeois society. The use
of politics and democracy contained the danger of an integration
even more pernicious if it operated under the cover of a
struggle. Marx, and especially Engels, were recuperated by
democracy in fact. Thus marxism could be created and revisionism
etc. flourish. So for us, living when the content is exhausted
and who can have a really revolutionary and radical position
(although this deserves no special mention), it is Marx's early
works which are compatible with our revolutionary passion because
they are already beyond capital and do not compromize with its
intermediate development, suffered by generations of

Put another way, the revolutionaries of the last century had to
enter deeply into their own negation, not only in thought, but
also in life, i.e. they had to work to reinforce capital while
being in a position to think of their conclusion to this
development in the negative. But, as Hegel said, one risks losing
oneself (total alienation) in such an abandonment. This is also
what happened to the entire workers' movement, as was very
clearly theorized by Bernstein: the movement is all; the goal
nothing. It could see humanity's development only through the
infinite development (the bad, i.e. the indefinite) of the
productive forces, really a development of capital as it was
absorbed by capital which it should have negated. The dichotomy
between minimum and maximum programmes was another expression of
this historical moment and the latter rapidly became the
revolutionary fig-leaf which the smallest gust of social wind
would inevitably carry away.

However, to situate best the 1917 revolution, one must note that
it was definitely a revolution inside a counter-revolution, i.e.
there was not really a revolutionary break world-wide despite the
left currents. This break postulated the final rejection of
democracy. The Russian revolution could not maintain itself at
the level of the overgrowth either, i.e. shorten the capitalist
stage and, in certain sectors, avoid it altogether. It thus
became compatible with the reign of the counter-revolution (i.e.
the development of capital, as we think in terms of communism).
It will be the same with the Chinese and anti-colonial
revolutions. However, if these revolutions immediately
strengthened the counter-revolution, they also finished it as the
counter-revolution reached its conclusion thanks to them and
extinguished the revolutionary potential of 1848. That is the
basis of the papering over of the Russian revolutionary
phenomenon some do.

This shows the fragmentary character of Bordiga's contribution.
He thought out a resistance to capital, but performed a
`restoration' of marxism by returning to the Bolsheviks'
positions (up to and including the Second Congress of the
Communist International), thus holding the movement in the
counter-revolutionary sphere. This affirmation of a possible
resistance to capital can only be understood by allowing for two
statements by Bordiga: 1. marxism is a theoretical
anticipation [12], 2. marxism is also the theory of the
counter-revolution (here he clearly differed from Korsch). Now
that the phase of the counter-revolution is over due to the
emergence of the revolution (1968), Bordiga's theoretical
activity is superseded.

The theory of the dictatorship of the proletariat, rooted in the
Jacobins of the French revolution and in Babeuf, was taken up by
Buonarroti and slightly differently by Flora Tristan, S. Born and
some Chartists, flowered with Blanqui and his disciples (e.g.
Tkachev), existed bright and clear in Marx, determinant as Lenin
said, (Bernstein virulently reproached Marx for not having been
able to overcome his blanquism), was hegemonic in Lenin and the
Bolsheviks and was completed by Bordiga. It postulated that the
despotic intervention of the proletariat in the economic process
could hasten the passage to communism. It was the extolling of
political action which should have shortened the capitalist phase
of development. One cannot avoid a mode of production once it has
been established. Thus the cycle originating in 1848 is now over.

The debate that began then between supporters of a classist
revolution and one that could be called communitarian (populism
began in 1848), was ended by the defeat of both and the triumph
of the capitalist class, of capital, which can only ensure its
victory by the mystification of the proletariat as ruling class.

Until now the communist revolution has developed on the basis of
the formal domination of capital over society, or even more, on
the basis of its transition to real domination. Therefore one has
to state clearly the characteristics of the future revolution, if
only in homage to Bordiga who concluded his study of Russia by
setting its arrival date at 1975. The future, but not distant,
revolution will immediately be conditioned by the following fact:
capital world-wide tends to negate classes. It realizes this by
the generalization of wage-labour, reducing all men to the level
of wage-labourers, functionaries for capital, and so produces a
universal class (in numbers and, potentially, in its goal). One
does not have to restructure the old classes clearly and
precisely, but to push the movement of negation to the end by
destroying the mystification. It is thus that one has been able
to represent momentarily the phenomenon, congealed as it were in
one of its phases, while one did not take into account the
tendency for the state to become society in all class societies.
The capitalist state realizes this tendency with the CMP and the
internalization of capital's domination by men due to everyone
becoming the next one's policeman. Besides, more than ever there
is no absolute break between what is capitalist and its negation,
above all, historically speaking, between the proletarian and
what one might call man. In fact the duality is in each being in
a more or less distinct and acute manner, even in those who
revolt against capital's domination, which has made some say that
the class struggle occurs even on an individual level. It is no
longer a matter of class struggle, but a struggle of men and
women against capital dominating humanity which it has made
hierarchical in terms of its total valorization. The state is
like capital's social incarnation which keeps all men under its
yoke by external force, i.e. coercion exercized by a separate
body (police, army, elements of repression found in each
production unit: and all is production for capital) and by
internal pressure, progressively more intimate acceptance of
capital's representations.

Only humanity can rise up against capital's oppression (the
contradiction is such that it is humanity which favoured
capital's production). There can only be a clash with capital if
this humanity is revolutionized. This will not happen with a
united front of all the present day members of humanity (what are
called the proletariat and the middle classes etc.) because this
would be to rivet all revolutionaries onto the level of the past
class struggles. Today men must surpass their old representations
and no longer perceive themselves in a classist schema, but to
recognize themselves in their common state: slaves to capital,
and thus to discover the place and moment of their liberation.
The unification of humanity can no longer take place only by a
struggle between two elements, men on one side (before one said
proletarians), the capitalist state (previously known as the
ruling class) on the other, but it must also come about in all of
us because every one of us has been capitalized to different
degrees. If the struggle loses its Manicheism and millenarianism,
it will still be necessary and will become harder and more
virulent. The revolution will only be possible if there is
production of revolutionaries. Being revolutionary now is to tend
to pose oneself as a person no longer of the past, but existing
on the state of possibility in society itself. Presently it is
dominated by the pole of capital, the communist pole is really
too weak for there to be an opposition which divides this society
into two camps, but from the moment that the movement of the
autonomization of men regarding capital, thus regarding the state
(seen according to all its characteristics), will assume some
depth, society will also tend to be polarized according to
communism until the moment when the tension will become too
strong and the eruptive phase of the revolution will break out.
The revolution no longer has the immediate goal of building a
state, even a transitory one. There can no longer be the
dictatorship of the proletariat because it is dissolved in the
social whole and, in any case, it can only triumph in negating
itself. The goal is the formation of the new community. In April
1917 Lenin wished to realize a state no longer a state: a state
commune. The situation is now ripe for beginning the entry of the
community able to impose its dictatorship to eradicate capital
and its presuppositions.

Thus if the proletariat in Russia had a romantic task, as Bordiga
said in 1953 (Kibalchich had stated this in 1881) and in 1968 we
wrote that "the proletariat no longer has to accomplish a
romantic task, but a human role", one has to show how it is to be
realized. It is evident that this goes beyond the investigation
of the Russian revolution, but one must show that in huge Russia,
now the USSR, the only solution was and is communism because,
unlike the West, where society as a whole, or at least an
important part, was able to enjoy a more favourable situation
after feudalism, in Russia there was the immediate transfer from
one despotism to another (the impossibility of liberalism and
democracy). The Russians' struggle was to rediscover the
communities and what was a vague recollection in the West was
still tangible reality with them. The populists' project, also
Marx's, was stranded and the CMP was imposed on the country.
However, we are fully convinced that the project will manifest
itself in another form, all the energies cannot be dedicated to
saving something from the past, but to creating a new future. And
there both the West and the USSR will inevitably meet again.

The great revolutionary wave culminating in Paris and Mexico in
1968 seemed to have spared the USSR and there were serious
effects only in the tampon countries. However, the persistence of
the shock was such that in 1970 there was an insurrection in
Poland indicating that the old battle line between communist
revolution and capital was still in motion. Besides, the Asian
countries, either bordering directly on the fault line or more
distant from it, have not yet been domesticated. This means that
we must consider two sets of contradictions on a world scale
derived from the CMP at its highest level of development and
those which arise from the impossibility of realizing its
domination in areas of very strong communitarian activity.

To characterize the coming revolution, one has to state how
capital's domination occurs today, especially in the West.

The process of the anthropomorphosis of capital was accomplished
while that of the capitalization of men was fully developing.
Capital's development has drawn in utility (marginalism and
neo-marginalism) which is why it can foresee the behaviour of men
while they are totally subjugated by capital's laws. By
dominating in the name of the productive worker (Keynes and the
theory of full employment), it realizes the proletarian ruling
class in a mystified form. Thus the 1848 programme (i.e. all bar
communism) has been realized.

Capital has perverted the whole revolution, all demands have been
taken up and denatured, the communitarian movement in the USSR,
the utopian one in the USA and that in Israel (one must not
forget that this country could only be created after the defeat
of the proletariat, Jews emancipated as Jews and not as men,
destruction of the Bund's communitarian project, then that of
Borochov, even if those two projects were less radical than those
of 1848), even the abolition of labour is now the utopia of
capital because it would make humans superfluous, robbing them of
their activity. Similarly the desire to create new relations
between men and women is changed into sexual emancipation and, as
ever, in bourgeois-capitalist society, one has not had the man
and the woman emancipated as man and woman, but as two sexes,
allowing the commercialization of all emotional and sexual

But capital does not content itself with having recomposed and
absorbed all men's past, their unconsciousness becomes mercantile
fodder disputed by the various psychoanalytical sharks. Capital
wants to colonize the future of the species and so remove any
possibility from it of another development, locking it up rigidly
in a totally programmed daily life, thus moving towards absolute
domination over man.

The revolutionary movements remain stuck to the past (the word
revolutionary is thus a stylistic concession here) and in the
rejuvenation of capital (third worldism's triumph). They cannot
make the leap or recognize and accept the discontinuity because
the past weighs like a nightmare on the minds of the living.
Presently one can see the pendulum of history in motion, rise of
the revolutionary movements, repression, stagnation of these
movements, the soaring of capital, at least US capital, during
this period, then another rise etc... The USA and the USSR try to
profit from these oscillations as one can see in Latin America,
but the movement which each time tries to oppose the existing
order hits a wall, returns to the starting point, and sets off
for the obsessional wall... This is the generalized impasse. It
is even worse in some cases: there is a massacre pure and simple,
e.g. that of the Palestinians to which the Arab countries, Israel
and the international `left' contributed directly or indirectly.
The international `left' deluded itself and the Palestinians as
to their power: the `left' that was searching for its
revolutionary event, its new Vietnam!

The present revolutionary movement does not have to struggle
against these perversions, nor to drive the moneylenders from the
temple one has to seize. All that has been perverted is what
could have been realized without a radical revolution. What one
must do is to act in view of the latter. Having reached this
point, one often meets the following objection: capital can
recuperate everything. But this is precisely the attribute of all
social formations which struggle against their limitation, to
attempt to survive by including, so as to say, the antagonistic
social formation, but by doing so it becomes a form full of alien
content which flakes off at the first shock and allows the
shaking of the new social form in an impetuous movement. Capital
has entered the field of revolution to such an extent that some
already talk of a new counter-revolution able to effect
depollution, demographic regulation etc., even while the
revolution has not shown itself effectively. When there is a
revolution, there are effectively only revolutionaries: there is
no one to defend the old world. It is only when the movement
slows down that the counter-revolution organizes. But it is
inadequate not to fear recuperation: one must be able to live in
relation to the discontinuity because the coming revolution
brings out a discontinuity in relation to all previous ones.

What we have given up to now is a non-exhaustive explanation of
the discontinuity with the past. But this explanation does not
indicate it as the present or future movement. Now this latter
clearly manifested itself during the short span of May-June 1968,
which was preceded by a period when it was already possible to
anticipate it and was followed by some movements confirming it
(e.g. Poland 1970, Sri Lanka 1971). The whole ideological
apparatus clearly strives to veil this discontinuity (there is
nothing better than recuperation for this and it matters not
which minister spoke of changing life, of imagination in power!).
All the political gangs denied it as to recognize it would be to
recognize their own death. Some who awoke as revolutionaries in
May 1968 now discover that it was a reformist movement. This was
a deep discontinuity because it reached the very root of man. May
proclaimed the liberation of the gesture, word and imagination.
The first two have already been seized on by capital in the
course of its anthropomorphosis and now it tries to remove the
third, for it is with imagination, by the use of the frontal part
of the brain (neo-cortex) that humans will really be able to be
creators and somehow realize the old dream of humanity: becoming
gods. May also demanded the liberation of the individual. There
again it was a case of a process rooted in the whole evolution of
the human being. It is only with the person that the individual
can emancipate itself and cease being slave to the species. In
both cases the biological revolution can only be accomplished
with a total communist revolution. Thus the cycle originating in
the dissolution of primitive communism (first form of the
realization of humanity) will end and with it all prehistory.
Besides, there will be the achievement of another cycle
(historical arc) with a far greater amplitude which began with
the appearance of the vertebrates, from the freeing of the
forefield (forelimbs and face), liberation of the latter from
prehension and compensation for this loss in the anthropoids
through the development of speech etc., to the flowering of the
biological substrate of imagination [13].

Obviously we shall only note the biological dimension's
importance because describing it would be too long, but we shall
at least foresee an objection. Talking of a biological revolution
does not mean that it must be led by scientists, nor that one
must wait for the whole social world to acquire the required
knowledge for it to happen. On the contrary, we remark on the
fact that the scientists and technicians of various specialities,
by coming to pose the problem of social overthrow, desiring it,
even if they had to provide a recipe for it based on elements of
their speciality, shows that the social group nearest to the
global production process of capital (capital cannot live without
science) is forced to separate itself from the contemporary
Gemeinwesen, as Marx said, indicating that there is already a
revolutionary movement underway. It is not the savants as such
who could lead it because they still think with the
presuppositions of this Gemeinwesen. As ever it will be the group
most ignorant of science which will be able to destroy the CMP
with their action. The May movement also showed this: it was not
the savants who proclaimed in the roads or who wrote liberation
slogans on the walls.

May 1968 and the previous movement in the USA showed above all
another biological dimension: the need to reconcile man and
nature. On the other hand, by exalting action, rejecting the
various ideologies and even refusing theory, the movement showed
another requirement in the desire to affirm life. Western
civilization from the start has transformed all life into
knowledge and one must transform all knowledge into life (as
Nietzsche showed). The society of capital is the rule of death
and it would be easy to show that capital as reified (sachliche),
autonomized form is merely absolute knowledge!

One has to abolish the old cognitive process which implies that
destruction is necessary for knowledge. For that individual man
must be reconciled with himself by the reconciliation of the
brain and the senses, and also to reconcile himself as a species.
The coming revolution will integrate the needs of previous ones.
Communist theory born with the rise of the proletariat in history
is thus not to be rejected, on the contrary, it is now most
verified, but it cannot be effected other than by a radical
revolution, as Marx stated from 1843 on, transforming society and

The revolution will not merely resolve the problem engendered by
the CMP, but all those bracketed during the development of human
societies (e.g. the return to a kind of paganism, a revolt of the
body against the spirit [14] ). In the USSR, the community sought
since the middle of the last century was papered over in the 1917
revolution. It will impose itself again as an irrepressible
requirement and as a positive solution to human development, thus
rejoining the movement in the West and, starting from different
historico-social facts, that of the rest of the world. The huge
community of men and women will not annihilate, but integrate
(and in their own development) all human diversities [15].

Jacques Camatte,
December 1972


[1] The Virtual Armistice in Collected Works Vol. 24, p. 377.

[2] The Tasks of the Proletariat in our Revolution ibid. p. 70.

[3] Venturi op. Cit. P. 675.

[4] ibid. p. 702

[5] Rosa Luxemburg's positions are usually deformed, a process
aided by the non-appearance of her collected works. Her
contribution to the Polish question is remarkable and cannot be
dealt with here. A serious analysis of her position can only
begin with her thesis Die industrielle Entwicklung Polens (The
Industrial Development of Poland) (Leipzig, 1898) where she
demonstrated the fundamental role of Polish capital in Russian
industry and thus the formation of the Russian-Polish
interdependence. The 1917 revolution certainly destroyed this. It
would be interesting to study the many consequences of this for
the later development of the USSR and Poland too, as well as the
latter's present subjugation by soviet despotism.

Marx, and especially Engels, were a bit absurd on Poland. Engels
wrote to Marx (23.5.1851.) "...the more I think over the
business, the clearer it becomes to me that the Poles as a nation
are done for and can only be made use of as an instrument until
Russia herself is swept into the agrarian revolution. From that
moment onwards Poland will have absolutely no more reason for
existence." (Marx Engels Correspondence 1846-95 (London, 1934) p.
37). Before he had remarked "Beside Hungary, Germany has only one
possible ally, Russia, on condition that there is a peasant
revolution in that country." (Werke Vol. 27, p. 266). But after
1869-70 a strong revolutionary movement developed in Russia and,
moreover, Poland was crushed in 1863. Hence Rosa Luxemburg's
position had to emerge.

[6] Rosa Luxemburg's positions are usually deformed, a process
aided by the non-appearance of her collected works. Her
contribution to the Polish question is remarkable and cannot be
dealt with here. A serious analysis of her position can only
begin with her thesis Die industrielle Entwicklung Polens (The
Industrial Development of Poland) (Leipzig, 1898) where she
demonstrated the fundamental role of Polish capital in Russian
industry and thus the formation of the Russian-Polish
interdependence. The 1917 revolution certainly destroyed this. It
would be interesting to study the many consequences of this for
the later development of the USSR and Poland too, as well as the
latter's present subjugation by soviet despotism.

Marx, and especially Engels, were a bit absurd on Poland. Engels
wrote to Marx (23.5.1851.) "...the more I think over the
business, the clearer it becomes to me that the Poles as a nation
are done for and can only be made use of as an instrument until
Russia herself is swept into the agrarian revolution. From that
moment onwards Poland will have absolutely no more reason for
existence." (Marx Engels Correspondence 1846-95 (London, 1934) p.
37). Before he had remarked "Beside Hungary, Germany has only one
possible ally, Russia, on condition that there is a peasant
revolution in that country." (Werke Vol. 27, p. 266). But after
1869-70 a strong revolutionary movement developed in Russia and,
moreover, Poland was crushed in 1863. Hence Rosa Luxemburg's
position had to emerge. 6. The Tasks of the Youth Leagues in
Collected Works Vol. 31, pp. 295-6

[7] Engels The Foreign Policy of Russian Tsarism (1890) in The
Russian Menace to Europe cit. p. 44.

[8] Many authors, including Marx and Tocqueville, have written
studies comparing the evolution of Russia and the USA. The
populists saw some similarities in the rise of the two countries,
the only ones where something new could be done, they thought.
One of the most remarkable common elements was the phenomenon of
the frontier.

[9]il Principio democratico, Rassegna comunista 28.2.22. pp.

[10]Capital Vol. III (Moscow, 1971) p. 820

[11]Capital Vol. I, Chapter 10. `The Working Day'.

[12] Cf. The Historical Invariance of Marxism

[13] Cf. Leroi-Gourhan who shows the phenomenon of the
externalization of gesture and speech in his magnificent book Le
Geste et la Parole and how technique exuded by man becomes his
antagonist; what had become externalized becomes oppressive.
Replacing technique by capital and by showing from which moment
this substitution is necessary, it is possible to understand the
present clash between the biological human needs and the
constraints of capital. We shall return to all that in a later
study. Let us note on the same subject a book by G. Cesarano and
G. Collu called Apocalisse e rivoluzione (Bari, 1973).

[14] Norman O. Brown Life against Death (London, 1959)

[15] We have frequently used P.-P. Poggio's Marx, Engels e la
rivoluzione russa Quaderni di movimento operaio e socialista n. 1
(July, 1974).