The ambiguities of the Internationalist Communist Party over the ‘partisans’ in Italy in 1943
Letter from Battaglia Comunista
In the September issue of your paper (Revolution Intenationale, no. 29) we read the following passage:
“To be honest, revolutionaries (‘impotent metaphysicians’ according to the Internationalist Communist Party) aren’t all that surprised to find the Bordigists offering their services to the united front. The ICP was carrying the baggage of anti-fascism with it when it was founded. The first to join its ranks had come out of the Italian ‘Partisans’; it was then joined by people who had been involved in the Brussels Anti-Fascist Committee, then by elements from the old minority of the Italian Left, which had been in favour of ‘real class struggle’ against Franco. In contrast to all this, the Communist Left in France and Belgium had remained intransigently loyal to the principles of the International Communist Left. During World War II, its appeals were not addressed to ‘sincere’ or ‘proletarian’ anti-fascists, but to the world proletariat, calling upon the class to turn the imperialist war into a civil war, excluding in advance any gesture that could be interpreted as critical support for democracy.”
This passage is from the article ‘Honnetes Propositions d’Hymen Frontiste du PCI’, a polemic against another frontist escapade by Programma Communista (Le Proletaire in France).
We don’t want to go into the details of a polemic which doesn’t concern us and about which we have already clearly expressed our position. What we do want is a full rectification of the grave assertions contained in the above passage, assertions which we don’t hesitate in calling entirely and completely false, though we don’t know whether they derive from lack of knowledge or from an irresponsible political attitude.
It is true that Programma Communista (the Bordigists) have put themselves outside the Partito Communista Internazionalista which in Turin “in 1943 held its first convention, which brought together those same comrades who are once again regurgitating the frontist positions (anti-fascist and trade unionist) which were long ago rejected by the revolutionary Left”. But it is also true that the PCI has continued to be the only force in Italy to defend, in a serious and consequential manner, everything that was best in the Left’s work of drawing the lessons and conclusions from the first revolutionary wave opened by the revolution in Russia and closed inside the IIIrd International. The fact that the ‘Programmists’ lay claim to this patrimony of elaboration and struggle while negating it in their political practice only concerns us because of the confusion that it can engender even amongst the most advanced sectors of the working class.
And the PCI, founded in 1943, and which went through the Turin convention, the Florence Congress in 1948, and the Milan Congress of 1952 didn’t start out with no more than an ‘anti-fascist’ baggage. The comrades who came from the Communist Left and who constituted the party were the first both in Italy and outside it to denounce the counter-revolutionary policies of the democratic bloc (including the Stalinist and Trotskyist parties) and were the first and only ones to act inside the workers’ struggles and even in the ranks of the Partisans, calling on the workers to fight against capitalism no matter what kind of regime it was hiding behind.
The comrades who RI calls ‘Resistance fighters’ were revolutionary militants who engaged in the task of penetrating the ranks of the Partisans in order to disseminate the principles and tactics of the revolutionary movement, and who paid for this work with their lives. Must we remind the comrades of RI about Acquaviva and Atti? Well, these two comrades, despicably assassinated on the order of the Stalinist leaders (the ‘democrats’ of today), were cadres of the PCI. Because of their heroic revolutionary behaviour the PCI was and is still able to put all its cards on the table.
Concerning the comrades who, during the war in Spain, decided to abandon the Italian Fraction of the Communist Left and to throw themselves into an adventure which took them outside class positions: let us remember that the events in Spain, which simply confirmed the positions of the Fraction, taught a lesson to these comrades and allowed them to return to the revolutionary Left. The Brussels Anti-Fascist Committee, in the person of Vercesi who thought he had to join the PCI when it was founded, held onto its own bastardized positions until the party, making the sacrifices that clarity demanded, rid itself of the dead leaves of Bordigism.
What we are saying here is confirmed by documents which the comrades of RI have at their disposal, but which they don’t seem to have read. The documents of the period show what the politics of the PCI were, and what kind of ‘frontism’ it stood for (the unity of the workers against the war and its fascist and democratic agents). This was very different from the frontism of organizations which the Programmists defend today.
By asking for this rectification, at a time when RI has declared itself in favour of discussion between revolutionaries and of the international initiative of our party, we hope that all revolutionaries will know how to undertake a serious critical examination of the main political problems confronting the working class today; when dealing with the errors of the past – something which is always necessary – it is precisely up to revolutionaries to document their work in the most serious manner. Communist Greetings.
for the Executive of the Partito Communista Internazionalista.
The ICC’s Reply
We were a little surprised to receive and read your letter, which to say the least is full of righteous indignation. What exactly is at issue here? The matter has arisen over an article published in Revolution Internationale no. 29 (September), an attack on the Bordigist International Communist Party which showed up the profound opportunism of this organization, especially their more and more pronounced tendency towards frontism. Bordigism, which reconstituted itself into a party at the end of World War II, is a striking example of the degeneration of a current which came from the communist left. This degeneration can be seen in relation to all the questions which have been posed to the workers ‘ movement since the decomposition of the IIIrd International: the function of the party, and the historical context in which parties are formed; the nature and function of trade unions today; the problem of transitional demands; electoralism; national liberation; frontism. On all these questions, Bordigism has moved further and further away from communist positions and is moving closer and closer to Trotskyism. This political regression seems to be the only kind of ‘invariance’ in the evolution of Bordigism, and every genuinely revolutionary group has no alternative but to confront this tendency and wage an implacable battle against it. This is what RI was doing in the offending article.
How is it that these attacks on Bordigism have affected Battaglia Communista and impelled it to write this letter of protest? It seems that the bullet has ricocheted in an unfortunate manner. But who has been caught by the ricochet?
In the first place, a considerable part of the problem is caused by the fact that in Italy today there are at least four groups who call themselves the ICP, all of them deriving from the original party, all of them claiming the same continuity, the same ‘invariance’, the same tradition and the same original platform. Each one argues that it is the only true heir of this platform. It’s certainly a pity that, out of amour propre and a concern for authenticity, these groups all hold onto the same name, because this only leads to confusion. This is something which we can only regret. It should be said at this point that, outside Italy, and especially in France, it is the Bordigist group (Programma Communista) which is known as the ICP; and, whatever Battaglia might think, this isn’t entirely illogical. Although it’s not our job to hand out certificates of legitimacy, it seems to us to be going a bit far to consider that Bordigism is a current which simply ‘ran across’ the Italian Left, as this letter would have us believe. However much it has regressed today, no-one can ignore or deny the fact that, over a period of twenty-five years, Bordigism was totally bound up with what is known as the Italian Left. This is not only true for Bordiga’s abstentionist fraction and its paper Il Soviet in the early twenties; it’s also attested by the fact that the platform presented by the Left at the Lyon Congress of 1926, which led to the Left being expelled from the Communist Party, was expressly entitled Platform of the Left (Bordigist).
In any case, no-one could have any doubts about which group our article was addressed to. There was no room for ambiguity because we took the precaution of writing ‘A Frontist ICP (Programme Communiste)’ in our subtitle. As for the passage you cite and which seems to irritate you so much, we can only say that it is not only our right but politically logical to inquire whether the degeneration of Bordigism is a question of pure chance, or whether we should look for the germs of this degeneration in the past, in the very conditions in which the party was set up. What embarrasses you is that the history of the formation of this party is also your own history. Thus you are trying to minimize the unity of responsibility, the unity which existed at the beginning of the party, by making various distinctions which, according to you, were there from the start:
“It is true that Programma Communista (the Bordigists) have put themselves outside the Partito Communista Internazionalista which in Turin ‘in 1943 held its first convention, which brought together those same comrades’ (…)
… until the party, making the sacrifices that clarity demanded, rid itself of the dead leaves of Bordigism.”
In other words: when the ICP was set up, there was us and them. What was good about the party was us, what was bad was them. Even if one was to admit that it was like this, it wouldn’t alter the fact that the ‘bad’ was there, that it was a fundamental element in the constitution of the party, and that at the time no-one raised the slightest criticism of this element. This was because, with everyone rushing together to build the party, no-one took the time to look a bit closer at the people who were taking part in this enterprise and what positions and forms of activity they defended (not to speak of engaging in a serious study of the whole context in which the party was set up). Not seeing or understanding something when it happens might be an explanation, but it can never be a justification, certainly not an a posteriori one. This is why we don’t understand why you are protesting when all we are doing is going over the facts and analyzing their significance.
Battaglia Communista asks us to make “a full rectification of the grave assertions made in the above passage, assertions which we don’t hesitate in calling entirely and completely false”. Rather than making any rectification, we feel obligated to explain what we mean and to elaborate our initial assertions, which are far from being “entirely and completely false” as Battaglia Communista claims. First of all, one thing must be clear: we have never said that the ICP formed in 1943 started out “with no more than an ‘anti-fascist’ baggage”. If that had been our position, we would have said so, and we would follow up the political implications of such a position. We would have purely and simply denounced it, as we do with the Trotskyists. This would be quite different from our attitude of confronting the positions of the party, even though this confrontation is sometimes quite violent. We don’t say that the positions of the ICP were “no more than” anti-fascist. What we do say is that elements were allowed to exist in the party, even in its leadership, who quite openly defended their frontist and anti-fascist experiences. We want to point out that, while affirming some class positions, the ICP allowed all kinds of ambiguities to subsist, whether we are taking about the elements it regrouped with or the formulations it put forward. It was as though it was closing the door while leaving the window half open. It’s no good making us say things we haven’t said; but we do defend everything that we have actually said. We fully endorse what was written in Internationalisme no. 36, July 1948:
“Just as we did after the 1948 Conference, we consider that within the ICP there are a lot of healthy revolutionary militants, and that because of this, this organization cannot be seen as being lost in advance to the proletariat.”
Internationalisme is certainly not talking about a simple anti-fascist group here, but this didn’t alter the “grave assertions” and criticisms which it made concerning the ambiguities and the errors of the ICP, criticisms which were fully vindicated by the subsequent vicissitudes of the party, by all its crises and splits.
These ambiguities and errors can be traced to the very fact that the party was set up in the first place. The party cannot be constituted at any given moment. The Gauche Communiste de France (Internationalisme) was quite right when it made a thorough critique of the formation of the ICP, basing itself on Bilan’s pertinent criticisms of the proclamation of the Trotskyist IVth International. A party set up in a period of reaction, when the working class is defeated, is bound not only to have an artificial and voluntaristic character, but also to contain all kinds of political ambiguities. As far as we know, the ICP (whether or not you alone are its continuatiors) never replied to this criticism; instead, in the excitement of constituting itself, if preferred to ignore this critique with a disdainful silence, while at the same time opening its doors to politically dubious elements.
These ambiguities can be found in the Political Platform of the ICP, published in French in 1946. It hardly needs to be said that, during the war and especially towards the end of the war, the attitudes revolutionaries had towards the war, the partisan resistance, the anti-fascist mystification and other kinds of “liberations” took on a particular importance and demanded the greatest clarity and intransigence. And yet while condemning the Resistance as a whole, the ICP Platform said:
“The effective elements of the clandestine activity which has developed against the fascist regime were and are the informal and spontaneous reaction of proletarian groupings and of a few unselfish intellectuals, as well as being the kind of activity and organization which every state and every army creates and nourishes behind enemy lines.” (ICP, Platform, p. 19, paragraph 7)
The whole of paragraph 7, which deals with the question of the Partisans, is a defence of the idea that this movement had a dual nature – one of proletarian origin, the other emanating from states and armies. And to emphasize its character as an “informal and spontaneous reaction of proletarian groupings”, the Platform even minimizes the importance of the second aspect: “These political big-shots who appeared like flies in the ointment only had a minor influence in this activity.” (Ibid)
Another passage in the same paragraph contains the same ambiguities:
“In reality the network set up by the bourgeois and pseudo-proletarian parties during the period of clandestinity did not at all have as their goal a national-democratic partisan insurrection. What they wanted to do was to create an apparatus capable of immobilizing any revolutionary movement that might arise with the collapse of the fascist and German defences.” (Ibid)
This insistence on distinguishing and showing the opposition between “a national-democratic partisan insurrection” and the attempt at “immobilizing any revolutionary movement” follows on naturally from the original distinction the Platform makes between the dual origins and characteristics of the Partisan movement. And it lead logically to a recognition of the possibility of a sincere, democratic, proletarian anti-fascist movement, in opposition to the false anti-fascism of the bourgeoisie.
This is a thinly-veiled version of the idea that there is a ‘natural’ link between the proletariat and the Partisans. And in another passage, the veil disappears completely:
“These movements (the Partisans), which don’t have a sufficient (sic!) political orientation, still express the tendency of local proletarian groups to organize themselves and to arm themselves in order to seize and maintain control of the situation locally, and thus take power.” (Ibid, p. 2, paragraph 18)
The Partisan movement is no longer denounced for what it is – the mobilization of the workers for imperialist war – but has become a tendency of proletarian groups to take power locally, although it unfortunately doesn’t have sufficient political orientation”.
If this sort of thing can be found in the platform, ie a founding document written with great care by the party’s most responsible members, one can easily imagine the kind of anti-fascist diatribes which appeared in the local press of the PCI, especially in the South which was isolated and cut off from the party centres in the North.
It should come as no surprise that such a definition of the Partisans should lead to a defence of their struggle:
“Concerning the partisan and patriotic struggle against the Germans and the fascists, the party denounces the manoeuvres of the international and national bourgeoisie who, with their propaganda for the rebirth of official state militarism (a propaganda which can have no meaning) (sic), are aiming at the dissolution and liquidation of the voluntary organizations of this struggle. In a number of countries these organizations have already been subject to armed repression.”
We are asked to make “a full rectification of (our) grave assertions”. We are absolutely agreed and convinced that these rectifications are necessary. The only question is: who must rectify what? Is it up to us to rectify a false accusation of anti-fascism? Or is it up to Battaglia to rectify the highly ambiguous postulates and formulations of the ICP Platform?
How could the ICP seek to defend the Partisan organizations from the threat of dissolution by the state? The Partisans were the armed organizations through which the bourgeoisie mobilized the workers behind enemy lines into the imperialist war, in the name of anti-fascism and national liberation. This didn’t seem to be very clear to the ICP, who saw something else in the patriotic, anti-fascist Partisans: a spontaneous reaction of proletarian groupings”. Thus the ICP had an attitude of extreme solicitude towards the Partisans:
“With regard to these tendencies, which constitute an historic reality of the greatest importance, the party affirms that a proletarian tactic demands that the most resolute and combative elements must finally (!) arrive at the political positions and the organizational form which will enable them to at last fight in their own interests, after such a long period of giving their blood in the service of others.” (Ibid)
There can be no doubt about this. The ICP is not talking about workers who have been derailed into a capitalist organization which the proletariat has to destroy, but about a working class organization “an historical reality of the greatest importance”, which doesn’t have “a sufficient political orientation”, which must be defended against the bourgeoisie’s attempts to dissolve it. It is an organization with which one can have a dialogue; it is a fertile soil for the revolution and revolutionaries must enter its ranks in order to bring communist positions to it.
It might appear that our criticism can be answered by the assertion that the militants of the ICP didn’t enter the Partisans in order to do ‘resistance’ work but to “disseminate the principles and tactics of the revolutionary movement”. But revolutionaries don’t make oral or written propaganda by joining a counter-revolutionary organization. This kind of penetration is an ‘entry tactic’ which we don’t subscribe to and which we are happy to leave to the Trotskyists. But this doesn’t explain why the ICP was in favour of penetrating the Partisans, and not, for example, the Socialist or Communist Parties. This would be even closer to the ‘entry’ tactics of the Trotskyists. In any case, these kind of tactics have nothing in common with the revolutionary positions of the Italian Fraction of the Communist Left. Whether it was the decision of its leader or of the party as a whole, the ICP accepted elements who belonged to the Partisans as ‘cadres of the Party’. This is a rather strange ‘tactic’, one which we can only describe as political collaboration. Let’s not forget that the Partisans were a counter-revolutionary organization of the worst kind, created during the war in order to perpetuate the massacre of the workers. It was a military organization based (just like the SS) on voluntary membership. Because of this it did not provide any suitable context for the dissemination of revolutionary principles and tactics. This is in contrast to the army, since the workers are mobilized into the army by force. The fact that this organ of war had a ‘popular’ and ‘anti-fascist’ façade in no way justified the policy of penetration, of a revolutionary party sending its cadres into its ranks. If the ICP did this, it was because it was itself confused. Consumed by activism, it committed an act of terrible irresponsibility by allowing – or worse still, sending – its militants to join this counter-revolutionary military organization in which all they could do was to get themselves murdered. There’s nothing to boast about in such errors.
We don’t know the details of the circumstances in which comrades Acquaviva and Atti were murdered at the behest of the Stalinists. But their tragic end, far from vindicating your policy of participation, only strengthens us in our convictions. Many Trotskyists in France and elsewhere lost their lives in analogous circumstances; this is no way proves that the policy of participation which they followed was a revolutionary one.
After all this, there can be no doubt that the ICP had all kinds of ambiguities on the question of the anti-fascist resistance from the moment it was set up. This was to weigh heavily on the subsequent evolution of the organization. As a confirmation of what we are saying, we only have to cite Danieli’s intervention at the ICP Congress in Florence (6-9 May, 1948).
“One thing must be clear for everyone: the party has suffered gravely from a facile extension of its political influence – the result of an equally facile activism – on a purely superficial level. I must recount a personal experience which will serve as a warning against the danger of the party exerting a facile influence on certain strata of the masses, which is an automatic consequence of the equally facile theoretical formation of its cadres. In the last months of the war I was a party representative in Turin. The Federation was strong numerically; it had a lot of young, activist elements; it organized many meetings, leaflets, the newspaper, a bulletin, contacts with the factories; there were internal discussions which always had an extremist tone when differences on the question of the war in general and the Partisans in particular came up; there were also contacts with deserters. The position on the war was clear: no participation in the war, refusal of military discipline by elements who called themselves internationalists. One might think therefore that no member of the party would have accepted the directives of the ‘Committee of National Liberation’. Now, on the morning of 25 April (the day Turin was ‘liberated’) the whole Turin Federation was in arms, insisting on participating in the crowning of six years of massacre, and some comrades from the provinces – still under military discipline – came to Turin to take part in the whole thing. As for myself, I should have declared the organization dissolved, but I found a way of compromising and got a resolution passed, in which comrades agreed to participate in the movement as individuals. The party no longer existed; it had liquidated itself.”
This public testament of an old and responsible militant, formed by a long experience with the Italian Fraction in exile, is both eloquent and dramatic. We can see that it wasn’t the party which was penetrating the ranks of the Partisans and disseminating revolutionary tactics and principles; it was the spirit of the Partisans which penetrated the party and corrupted its militants. The party has never engaged in a critical discussion of these questions; for reasons of prestige it has taken refuge in silence on this and other questions. This is why all its initial ambiguities have survived and developed in all the groups it has given rise to.
This ambiguity on the question of the Partisans can be found in all the groups emanating from the original ICP, and not only among the Bordigists (Programma) with their support for national liberation movements in the underdeveloped countries. They can be found, for example, in the International Bulletin published in French in the early sixties as a joint effort of News and Letters, Munis, and Battaglia Communista. An article written by an Italian comrade uses the theory of the ‘special case’ to show that the Partisans in Italy were different from other resistances in other countries, and thus had to be treated in a particular manner. Traces of this ambiguous position can still be found in Battaglia Communista’s present letter, where it talks about acting “inside the workers’ struggle and even in the ranks of the Partisans”.
According to Battaglia’s letter, the comrades of the minority of the Italian Fraction went to Spain and passed “outside class positions”, in contrast to the militants of the ICP who “engaged in the task of penetrating the ranks of the Partisans in order to disseminate the principles and tactics of the revolutionary movement”. But do the comrades of Battaglia Communista think that the militants of the minority went to Spain to defend Republican democracy against fascism? Just like those of the ICP who went into the Partisans, they went to Spain to disseminate in the ranks of the militias “the principles and tactics of the revolutionary movements”, to fight for the dictatorship of the proletariat and communism.
Why is it that what the minority did was an “adventure” and what the ICP did was an act of heroism? A simple question, and one that is not answered by the gratuitous assertion that the events in Spain “taught these comrades a lesson and allowed them to return to the revolutionary Left.” The minority excluded from the Fraction in 1936 ended up regrouping with Union Communiste, which defended the same positions, and there they remained until the dispersion of the group during the war. There was no question of these militants going back to the Communist Left until the Fraction was dissolved and its militants integrated into the ICP (at the end of 1945). It was never a question of a ‘lesson’ being learned, or of these militants rejecting their old position and condemning their participation in the anti-fascist war in Spain. It was simply that the euphoria and confusion of setting up the party ‘with Bordiga’ inspired these comrades, including a few French comrades left over from the old Union Communiste, to join the party. And this was done at the direct instigation of Vercesi, who in the meantime had become leader of the party and its representative outside Italy. The party in Italy did not ask these comrades to account for their past activities. This was not because of ignorance – old comrades of the Fraction like Danielis, Lecce, Luciano, Butta, Vercesi and others could hardly be ignorant of a minority which they themselves had expelled nine years before. It was because it was a time to forget ‘old quarrels’: the reconstitution of the party wiped the slate clean. A party which was not very clear about the effect of the Partisan movement on its own militants wasn’t likely to have a very rigorous attitude towards what the minority had been doing some years before. Thus it ‘naturally’ opened its doors to these comrades, quietly making them the nucleus of the French section of the new Party.
If we examine the explanation given in the letter about the Brussels Anti-Fascist Committee and Vercesi’s part in it, it doesn’t fare any better. The letter says that “the Brussels Anti-Fascist Committee, in the person of Vercesi who thought he had to join the Partito Communista Internazionalista when it was founded, held onto his own bastardized positions until the party, making the sacrifices that clarity demanded, rid itself of the dead leaves of Bordigism”. What an elegant way of putting it! He – Vercesi - thought he had to join!!!??? And the party – what did the party think of him? Or is the party a bridge club which anyone can join? Vercesi didn’t come out of nowhere. He was an old militant of the Italian Left in the 1920s, and the main spokesman of the Italian Left in exile. He was the guiding spirit of the Fraction and the main editor of Bilan. His militant contribution and his revolutionary merits were enormous, and his influence was considerable. This is why the struggle within the Fraction on the eve of the war and during the war against his increasingly aberrant positions was so important.
The announcement of the formation of an Italian Anti-Fascist Committee in Brussels in the last months of the war, with Vercesi, in the name of the Fraction at its head, provoked a violent response from revolutionary elements and groups in France. Elements of the Italian Fraction who were in France – with the agreement of the French Group of the Communist Left – reacted by expelling Vercesi from the Fraction, a few months before hearing about the constitution of the party in Italy and proclaiming the dissolution of the Fraction. What makes Vercesi’s political conduct even more serious is the fact that he took with him the Italian comrades in Brussels and the majority of the Belgian Fraction. A few months later Vercesi went to Italy where he was given a leading role in the new party and the task of representing it abroad. The party must have known about all these events because not only had a number of the comrades from the recently dissolved Fraction just arrived in Italy, but even more because the French Group of the Communist Left raised the question publicly in its review Internationalisme and addressed a number of letters and open letters to the ICP and the other fractions of the Communist Left, criticizing and condemning all these activities. But apart from the Belgian Fraction, there was no reply. The ICP shut itself up in silence, and its only response was to recognize as its sole expression in France the Fraction recently set up by Vercesi around the old minority, thus keeping away from Internationalisme and its embarrassing questions. We had to wait until 1948 for the party to break its silence, passing a brief and laconic resolution against the Brussels Anti-Fascist Committee without mentioning by name the man who remained one of its leaders: Vercesi. This policy of silence is one of holding onto ambiguities. And it took another five years for the party to make “the sacrifices that clarity demanded, (and) rid itself of the dead leaves of Bordigism”.
We don’t want to write a history of the ICP here. If we have dwelt at length on the Platform and the question of the Partisans, it’s because this was the crucial question at the time. We didn’t spend a long time discussing the question of the integration of the minority of the Fraction who had fought in Spain, or the issue of the Brussels Anti-Fascist Committee, even though the political implications of these questions are of the greatest importance. This is because what we were interested in doing was not making ad hoc condemnations, but simply corroborating what we said originally about the ICP: that the very basis on which it was set up contained all kinds of ambiguities which meant that the party was a political regression in relation to the positions of the Fraction before the war, the positions of Bilan. While remaining within the proletarian camp in a general sense, the ICP failed to break away from the erroneous positions of the Communist International, for the example on the union question and the question of participating in electoral campaigns. The subsequent evolution of the ICP and its dislocation into a number of groups are proof of its failure. The contribution of the Italian Left is considerable, and its theoretical and political work is part of the heritage of the revolutionary movement of the proletariat. But, as with the German and Dutch Left, the traditional Italian left exhausted itself a long time ago. This is simply an expression of the break in organic continuity in the revolutionary movement. The terrible length and depth of the counter-revolution physically destroyed all that was left of the Communist International. The Fraction wanted to be a bridge between yesterday’s party and the party of the future. But this hope was not realized. The ICP attempted to be the pole of a new revolutionary movement. But the period, plus its own insufficiencies and ambiguities, didn’t allow this either. It failed and today looks more like a survival of the past than a new point of departure.
With the re-emergence of the historic crisis of the capitalist system, and the resurgence of workers’ struggles all over the world, new revolutionary groups are bound to arise, expressing the necessity and possibility of the regroupment of revolutionaries. It’s time to stop claiming a vague and dubious organic continuity, it’s time to stop giving it artificial respiration. What we have to do is apply ourselves seriously to the task of regroupment, to create a pole of revolutionary regroupment. That is the task of the hour.
But if such a regroupment is to fulfill its real function, it must be based on precise political criteria, on a clear and coherent orientation, which springs from the experiences of the workers’ movement and its theoretical principles. This is something that has to be sought after as methodically and as seriously as possible. We must, as Danielis said, guard against a facile attitude, such as convening conferences on the vague basis of denouncing this or that about-turn of the ‘Communist’ parties in Europe. This would be chasing after numbers at the expense of examining the political criteria for a solid revolutionary regroupment. Here again, the experience of the formation of the ICP has an important lesson for us.
Because it is firmly committed to the necessity of contact and regroupment in the revolutionary movement, the ICC will encourage and actively participate in any initiative in this direction. This is why we have responded positively to Battaglia’s suggestion for an international conference of revolutionary groups, even though we have criticized its lack of political criteria which has allowed invitations to be sent to the modernist Trotskyists of Union Ouvriere and Maoist-Trotskyists like Combat Communiste, who have no place in a conference of communists.
We have been asked to make a “rectification”. This is what we have done – a bit long perhaps, but clear enough we hope. Precisely because we are more than ever convinced of the necessity for discussion between groups who defend communist positions, we think that this discussion can only be fruitful when it aims at the highest degree of clarity about political positions, both in the present and in the past. Until we next hear from you.
The International Communist Current
At the moment there are two groups calling themselves Partito Communista Internazionalista (their respective papers being Battaglia Communista and La Rivoluzione Communista) and two groups calling themselves Partito Communista Internazionale (their publications are Programma Communista and Il Partito Communista). There are many other groups who derive from the original ICP: Lotta Communista, Iniziativa Communista, etc.
We know about these papers, but we can’t cite any passages from them as we don’t have any available. The ICP could of course republish them … ?
The Partisans were set up under the direct control of the Allies and locally under the control of the Communist and Socialist Parties.
In general, we aren’t very keen on the bragging tone of the assertion that the comrades who set up the ICP were “the first and only ones to act inside the workers’ struggles and even in the ranks of the Partisans, calling on the workers to fight against capitalism no matter what kind of regime it was hiding behind.” First of all its not hard to be the ‘first’, when you are the ‘only’ one. There were other groups like the American and Dutch council communists, the RKD (Revolutionary Communists of Germany), the Communistes Revolutionaires de France, etc who defended class positions against capitalism and against the war. Thirdly, if we are talking about participation in the ranks of the Partisans, the part of the Italian Left which followed this policy certainly didn’t suffer from isolation, being in good company with all sorts of groups, from Trotskyists to anarchists.
Danielis was an active militant of the Italian Fraction and returned to Italy on the eve of the war.
We only have to recall the total absence of the different groups who come from the ICP during the struggles at FIAT and Pirelli during Italy’s Hot Autumn of 1969; they were taken completely by surprise by these events. Not to mention the ridiculous appeal issued by the Bordigists in May 1968 in France, in the form of a small handwritten poster stuck to the walls of the university, calling upon the twelve million workers on strike to put themselves behind the banner of the Party … .