The immediate program of the revolution - Amadeo Bordiga

A short article on revolutionary demands, by Amadeo Bordiga, from 'Sul filo del tempo', May 1953.

  1. With the resurgence of the movement which occurred on a world scale after the First World War and which was expressed in Italy by the founding of the PCI, it became clear that the most pressing question was the seizure of political power, which the proletariat could not accomplish by legal means but through violence, that the best opportunity for reaching that end was the military defeat of one’s own country, and that the political form after victory was to be the dictatorship of the proletariat, which in turn is the first precondition for the following task of socio-economic overthrow.

  2. The “Communist Manifesto” clearly pointed out the different measures are to be grasped as gradually possible and "despotic" - because the road to complete communism is very long - in dependence upon the level of development of the productive forces in the country in which the proletariat first attains victory and in accordance with how quickly this victory spreads to other countries. It designates the measures which in 1848 were the order of the day for the advanced countries and it emphasizes that they are not to be treated as complete socialism but as steps which are to be identified as preliminary, immediate and essentially “contradictory”.

  3. Later in some countries many of the measures at that time considered to be those of the proletarian dictatorship were implemented by the bourgeoisie itself: i.e. free public education, a national bank etc.

    This was one of the aspects which deceived those who did not follow a fixed theory, but believed it required perpetual further development as a result of historical change.

    That the bourgeoisie itself took these specific measures does not mean that the exact laws and predictions on the transition from the capitalist to the socialist mode of production have to be changed in their entire economic, political and social configuration; It only means that the first post-revolutionary, the lower and final higher stages of socialism (or total communism) are still antecedent periods, which is to say that the economics of transition will be somewhat easier.

  4. The distinguishing mark of classical opportunism was to make believe that the bourgeois democratic state could accomplish all these measures from first to last if only the proletariat brought enough pressure to bear, and that it was even possible to accomplish this in a legal manner. However these various “corrections” - insofar as they were compatible with the capitalist mode of production - were in that case in the interest of the survival of capitalism and their implementation served to postpone its collapse, while those which were not compatible were naturally not applied.

  5. With its formula of an always more widely developed popular democracy within the context of the parliamentary constitution contemporary opportunism has taken up a different and more evil duty.

    Not only does it make the proletariat think that a state standing over classes and parties is capable of carrying out some of its own fundamental tasks (which is to say it diffuses defeatism with regards to dictatorship - like social democracy before it), it deploys the masses it organizes in struggles for “democratic and progressive” social arrangements in diametrical opposition to those which proletarian power has set as its goal since 1848 and the “Manifesto”.

  6. Nothing better illustrates the full magnitude of this retrogression then a listing of the measures to take after the seizure of power in a country of the capitalist West. After a century these “corrections” are different from those enumerated in the “Manifesto”, however their characteristics are the same.

  7. A listing of these demands looks like this:

    1. “De-investment of capital” means of production are assigned a smaller proportion in relation to consumer goods.

    2. “Increase of production costs” - so that as long as wages, money and the market still exist - more remuneration is exchanged for less labor time.

    3. “Drastic reduction of labor time” - by at least half as unemployment and socially useless and damaging activities will shortly become things of the past.

    4. A reduction in the mass of what is produced through an “under-production plan” which is to say the concentration of production on what is necessary as well as an “authoritarian regulation of consumption” by which the promotion of useless, damaging and luxury consumption goods is combated and activities which propagate a reactionary mentality are violently prohibited.

    5. Rapid “dissolution of the boundaries of the enterprise” whereby decisions on production are not assigned to the workforce, but the new consumption plan determines what is to be produced.

    6. “Rapid abolition of social services” whereby the charity hand-outs characteristic of commodity production are replaced by a social (initial minimum) provision for those incapable of work.

    7. “Construction freeze” on the rings of housing and workplaces around major and small cities in order to spread the population more and more equally throughout the land area of the country. With a ban on unnecessary transportation, limitation of traffic and speed of transportation.

    8. “A decisive struggle against professional specialization” and the social division of labor though the removal of any possibility of making a career or obtaining a title.

    9. Immediate politically determined measures to put the schools, the press, all means of communication and information, as well as the entire spectrum of culture and entertainment under the control of the communist state.

  8. It is not surprising that the Stalinists and those akin to them, together with their parties in the West today demand precisely the reverse - not only in terms of the “institutional” and also political-legal objectives, but even in terms of the “structural” which is to say socio-economic objectives.

    The cause of this is their coordination with the party which presides over the Russian state and its fraternal countries, where the task of social transformation remains that of transition from pre-capitalist forms to capitalism: With all the corresponding ideological, political, social, and economic demands and pretensions in their baggage aiming towards a bourgeois zenith - they turn away with horror only from a medieval nadir.

    Their Western cronies remain nauseating renegades insofar as the feudal danger (which is still material and real in insurgent areas of Asia) is non-existent and false with regards to the bloated super-capitalism across the Atlantic and for the proletarians who stagnate under its civilized, liberal and nationalist knout it is a lie.

Posted By

Craftwork
Jun 6 2016 22:22

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Fred2014
Apr 12 2018 03:52

Thanks for the English Translation.

In sinistra the source is mentioned as: «Il Programma Comunista», Nr.1, 1953

spacious
Apr 17 2018 23:17

Thanks for this, Craftwork.

Looking at the Italian, I thought the beginning of the second point could be more precisely translated.
If you mind I'd suggest something like:
"The 'Communist Manifesto' clearly pointed out that the successive social measures which render themselves gradually possible or are brought about 'despotically' - the road to complete communism being very long - are different according to the degree of development of productive forces in the countries in which the proletariat first attains victory, and according to the pace with which this victory extends itself to other countries."

Noteworthy that this transitional programme - quite the opposite of Bolshevik productivism or so-called 'socialist accumulation' - has a lot in common with Loren Goldner's sketch of a similar thing, here:
https://libcom.org/library/fictitious-capital-loren-goldner (under 'Program' and 'Tentative final remarks')