Marc, Part 1: From the Revolution of October 1917 to World War II

Printer-friendly versionSend to friendAs readers of our territorial press will know already, our comrade Marc is dead. In the December issue of our French territorial press, we published, as usual, the list of donations; one was accompanied with these words: “In reply to many letters which have touched me deeply, and for a first combat fought and won, this donation for the ICC’s press...” As always, our comrade fought against his disease with lucidity and courage. But in the end, it was the disease - one of the most virulent forms of cancer - that had the upper hand, the 20th December 1990. With Marc’s death, not only has our organisation lost its most experienced militant, and its most fertile mind; the whole world proletariat has lost one of its best fighters.

Marxism has long since shown, against all the ideas of bourgeois individualism, that history is not made by great individuals, but that since the appearance of social classes, “The history of all societies, to this day, has been the history of class struggle”. The same is especially true of the history of the workers’ movement whose main protagonist is precisely that class which more than any other engages in associated labour, and struggles collectively. Within the proletariat, the communist minorities that express its revolutionary nature also act collectively. In this sense, these minorities’ activities are above all anonymous, and can have nothing to do with any cult of personality. Revolutionary militants cannot exist as such, outside the whole that is the communist organisation. Nonetheless, while the organisation must be able to count on all its members, it is evident that they do not all make an equal contribution to its activity. Certain militants’ personal history, experience, or character - as well as particular historical circumstances - lead them to play a special role in the organisations to which they belong, as motive forces in their activity, and especially in the one activity which lies at the heart of their very reason for existing: working out and deepening revolutionary political positions.

Marc was one of these. In particular, he belonged to that tiny minority of militants who survived and resisted the terrible counter-revolution which battened on the working class from the 1920’s to the 60’s: militants like Anton Pannekoek, Henk Canne-Meijer, Amadeo Bordiga, Onorato Damen, Paul Mattick, Jan Appel, or Munis. Moreover, not only did he maintain his untiring loyalty to the communist cause and his complete confidence in the proletariat’s revolutionary capabilities, he was able to pass on his experience to a new generation of militants, and to avoid becoming wrapped up in analyses and positions that had been overtaken by historical events. In this sense, his whole activity as a militant is an example of what marxism means: the living, constantly developing thought of the revolutionary class, which bears with it humanity’s future.

Needless to say, our comrade was a dynamic force in pushing forward the thought and action of the political organisation within the ICC. And this remained true until his final hour. In fact, his whole life as a militant was inspired by the same approach, by the same determination to defend communist principles tooth and nail, while always maintaining a critical spirit capable whenever necessary of calling into question what seemed to many to be untouchable and “invariant” dogma[1]. His life as a militant lasted 70 years; it be­gan in the heat of the revolution itself.

THE COMMITMENT TO THE REVOLUTIONARY STRUGGLE

Marc was born on 13th May 1907 in Kishiniev, the capital of Bessarabia (Moldavia), at a time when the region was still part of the old Tsarist Empire. He was not yet 10 years old when the 1917 revolution began. This is how he described, on his 80th birthday, this tremendous experience, which marked his whole life:

I had the good fortune, while still a child, to live through and experience the Russian Revolution, both in February and October. I lived it intensely. You have to understand what it meant to be a “Gavroche” [2], a child in the streets in a revolutionary period, spending the days in demonstrations, going from one to another, from one meeting to another, spending the nights in clubs full of soldiers and workers, and of discussion, talk and confrontations; a time when on any street corner, suddenly, without any preparation, someone might stand at a window and begin to speak: immediately, a thousand people would gather round and begin to discuss. It was unforgettable, and of course it has marked my whole life. On top of this, I had the luck to have an older brother who was both a soldier and a Bolshevik, the Party secretary in our town, and I ran with him, hand in hand, from one meeting to the next where he defended the positions of the Bolsheviks.

I had the good fortune to be the youngest, the fifth in a family where all, one after the other, became members of the Party until they were either killed or expelled. All this meant that I lived in a house always full of people, of youngsters, where there were always discussions going on, for at first only one was Bolshevik, while the others were more or less socialists. They were in constant debate with their comrades, their workmates... It was an enormous good fortune for a child’s education”.

In 1919 during the civil war, Moldavia was occupied by counter-revolutionary Romanian troops. Marc’s family was under threat from the pogroms (his father was a rabbi), and was forced to flee to Palestine. His brothers and elder sister were among the founders of this country’s Communist Party. Here, in 1921, Marc (still not yet 13 years old) became a militant, entering (or rather helping to found) the Communist Party’s youth organisation. He very quickly came up against the position of the Communist International on the na­tional question: a position that, as he put it, “stuck in his throat”. This disagreement led to his first exclu­sion from the Party in 1923. Already, though still an adolescent, Marc displayed a quality which would re­main with him throughout his life as a militant: an un­failing intransigence in the defence of revolutionary principles, even if this meant opposing “authorities” of the workers’ movement as prestigious as the leaders of the Third International, and especially Lenin and Trot­sky[3]. His complete commitment to the proletarian cause, his militant involvement in the communist or­ganisation, and his deep respect for the great figures of the workers’ movement never made him give up the fight for his own positions, when he felt that those of the organisation went against its principles, or had been overtaken by new historical circumstances. For him, as for all the great revolutionaries like Lenin or Lux­emburg, adherence to marxism, to the proletariat’s revolutionary theory, meant an adherence, not to its letter but to its spirit and method. In fact, our com­rade’s audacious spirit (which, again, he shared with all the great revolutionaries) was the other side of his complete and undying commitment to the cause and programme of the proletariat. Because he was steeped in marxism, he was never paralysed by the fear of abandoning it when he criticised the outdated positions of the workers’ organisations. And he first applied this approach against the support for national liberation struggles, which had become a dogma for both the Second and Third Internationals[4].

THE STRUGGLE AGAINST THE DEGENERATION OF THE THIRD INTERNATIONAL

In 1924, Marc, with one of his brothers, came to live in France. There, he joined the Communist Party’s Jewish section, so becoming once again a member of the same International from which he bad just been excluded. He immediately joined the opposition fight­ing against the degeneration of the CI and its commu­nist parties. With Albert Treint (General Secretary of the French CP from 1923-26) and Suzanne Girault (one-time Party treasurer), he took part in the foundation of Unite Léniniste. When Trotsky’s platform of the Russian opposition was published in France, he de­clared himself in agreement. By contrast, and unlike Treint, he rejected Trotsky’s declaration that he had been wrong in all his disagreements with Lenin prior to 1917. Marc considered this attitude absolutely wrong, first because Trotsky did not really believe what he was saying, and secondly because such a declaration could only trap Trotsky in all the incorrect positions which Lenin had defended in the past (in particular during the 1905 revolution on the “democratic dictator­ship of the proletariat and the peasantry”). Once again, our comrade showed his ability to maintain a critical and lucid attitude towards the “authorities” of the workers’ movement. His adhesion to the International Opposition, after his exclusion from the PCF in 1928, did not mean that he shared all positions of its most important leader, despite the admiration he felt for Trotsky. And it was thanks to this critical spirit that he avoided being dragged into the Trotskyist move­ment’s slide into opportunism at the beginning of the 1930’s. After taking part, with Treint, in the forma­tion of Redressement Communiste, in 1930 he joined the Ligue Communiste (the organisation which repre­sented the Opposition in France), and became (with Treint again) a member of its Executive Commission in October 1931.

However, after defending a minority position against the rise of opportunism, both men left the Ligue in May 1932, and helped to found the Fraction Commu­niste de Gauche (known as the Bagnolet Group). In 1933, this organisation split and Marc broke with Treint, who had begun to defend a position on the USSR similar to the one later developed by Chaulieu and Burnham (“Bureaucratic Socialism”). He then took part in November 1933 in the formation of Union Communiste, along with Chaze (Gaston Davoust, died 1984), with whom he had been closely linked since the early 30’s when the latter was still a member of the PCF (he was excluded in 1932), and one of the leaders of the “l5ème Rayon” (in Paris’ western suburbs) which defended opposition orientations.

THE GREAT STRUGGLES OF THE 1930’S

Marc remained a member of Union Communiste until the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War. This was one of the most tragic periods for the workers’ movement: as Victor Serge put it, this was “midnight in the cen­tury”. And as Marc said himself: “For all the genera­tions which had remained revolutionary, it was a dreadful sadness to live through these years of terrible isolation which saw the French proletariat brandishing the tricolour, the flag of the ‘Versaillais’, and singing the Marseillaise, all in the name of communism”. And this feeling of isolation reached its height in the Span­ish Civil War, when many organisations that had succeeded in remaining firm on class positions were swept away by the wave of “anti-fascism”. This was the case in particular with Union Communiste, which saw the events in Spain as a proletarian revolution, a struggle where the working class held the initiative. To be sure, this organisation did not go so far as to support the “Frente Popular” government. But it did call for enrolment in the anti-fascist militia, and entered into political contact with the left wing of the POUM, an anti-fascist organisation that took part in the gov­ernment of the Catalan “Generalitat”.

Marc was intransigent in the defence of class princi­ples; he could not accept such a capitulation before the ambient anti-fascist ideology, even dressed up as “solidarity with the Spanish proletariat”. He had re­mained in contact with the Fraction of the Italian Left, and when he was unable to turn Union Communiste against its position of support for the war, he left the group at the beginning of 1938, to join the Italian Fraction on an individual basis. The Italian Fraction had been formed in May 1928 in Pantin (a Parisian suburb); in the torment of the Spanish Civil War, and all its betrayals, the Fraction was one of very few groups to remain true to class principles. Its intransi­gent rejection of all the sirens of anti-fascism was based on its analysis of the historic course as one dominated by the counter-revolution. A civil war be­tween, not the bourgeoisie and the working class, but the bourgeois Republic allied to the “democratic” impe­rialist camp, and another bourgeois government allied to the “fascist” imperialist camp, could only end in world war, not revolution. The fact that the Spanish workers took up arms spontaneously against the Franco putsch in July 1936 (a fact which the Fraction wel­comed, of course) opened no revolutionary perspective once they were enrolled in anti-fascist organisations like the PS, the CP, and the anarcho-syndicalist CNT, and gave up the combat on the class terrain to fight as soldiers of the bourgeois Republic led by the “Frente Popular”. And for the Fraction, one of the clearest proofs that the Spanish proletariat was stuck in a tragic dead-end, was the fact that the country wholly lacked a revolutionary party[5].

Marc continued the revolutionary struggle as a militant of the Italian Fraction, exiled in France and Belgium[6]. In particular, he became very close to Vercesi (Ottorino Perrone), who was the Fraction’s main inspi­ration. Many years later, Marc would explain to the young militants of the ICC how much he had learnt from Vercesi, whom he admired greatly. “It was from him that I learnt what it means to be a militant”, he said on several occasions. And indeed, the Fraction’s remarkable firmness was largely thanks to Vercesi, who had fought constantly, first in the PSI (Italian So­cialist Party) at the end of World War I, then in the PCI, for the defence of revolutionary principals against these organisations’ degeneration and opportunism. Unlike Bordiga, who was the PCI’s leading figure at its formation in 1921, and who led the Left in the Party only to abandon militant life after his exclusion from the Party in 1930, Vercesi put all his experience at the service of the continuing struggle against the counter-­revolution. In particular, his contribution was decisive in developing the position on the role of the fraction in a proletarian organisation, especially in periods of re­action and degeneration of the Party[7]. But his con­tribution went much further than this. He understood that the task which falls to revolutionaries after the de­feat of the revolution, and the victory of the counter­-revolution is to draw up a ‘balance-sheet’ (‘bilan’ in French, whence the name of the Italian Fraction’s pub­lication in that language) of past experience, in order to prepare “militants for the new proletarian parties”, and this without “any taboo or ostracism” (Bilan, no 1). On this basis, he inspired within fraction the task of re­flection and theoretical elaboration that made the Italian Fraction one of the most fruitful organisations in the history of the workers’ movement. In particular, although a ‘Leninist’ by training, he was not afraid to adopt Rosa Luxemburg’s analysis of the economic causes of imperialism, and her rejection of national lib­eration struggles. On the former point, he made the most of the debates with the Belgian Ligue des Communistes Internationalistes (an organisation which split from Trotskyism, and moved away from it), whose mi­nority adopted the Fraction’s positions on the Spanish Civil War, to form, with the Fraction in 1937, the In­ternational Communist Left. On the basis of the lessons he drew from the degeneration of the Russian revolution and the role of the Soviet state in the counter-revolution, Vercesi (along with Mitchell of the LCI) worked out the position which rejected any identi­fication between the proletarian dictatorship and the state which emerges after the revolution. Lastly, on the organisational level he gave the example, within the Fraction’s Executive Commission, of how debate should be conducted when serious disagreements emerge. Faced with the minority, which broke all or­ganisational discipline by enrolling in the anti-fascist militia and refusing to pay dues, Vercesi fought the idea of an over-hasty organisational split (although by the Fraction’s rules, the minority’s members could per­fectly well have been expelled) in order to let the de­bate develop with maximum clarity. For Vercesi, as for the Fraction’s majority, political clarity was a vital priority in the role and activity of revolutionary organi­sations.

Many aspects of these lessons corresponded to the po­litical method that Marc had already adopted. He as­similated them fully during the days when he worked alongside Vercesi. And he continued to base himself on the same lessons when Vercesi in his turn began to forget them and turn against marxist positions. Just as the International Communist Left (ICL) was formed, and Bilan gave way to Octobre, Vercesi began to de­velop a theory of the war economy as a definitive anti­dote to the capitalist crisis. Disorientated by the tem­porary success of the economic policies of Nazism and the New Deal, he came to the conclusion that arms production, which does not weigh on the supersatu­rated capitalist market, would allow capitalism to over­come its economic contradictions. He considered that the fantastic rearmament effort engaged by all countries at the end of the 1930’s constituted, not preparations for a future world war, but on the contrary a means of escaping it by eliminating its underlying cause: capi­talism’s economic dead-end. In this context, the vari­ous local wars, and especially the Spanish Civil War, were to be considered, not as dress rehearsals for a future generalised conflict, but as a means for the bourgeoisie to crush the working class, and so put down a rising wave of revolutionary combats. This is why the ICL’s International Bureau called its publica­tion Octobre: because it thought a new revolutionary period had begun. These positions were a sort of posthumous victory for the Fraction’s old minority.

These positions called into question Bilan’s most im­portant lessons, and Marc took up the fight to defend the classic positions of both the Fraction and marxism. This was all the more difficult, because he had to fight against the errors of a militant whom he held in great esteem. But the majority of the Fraction’s members were blinded by their admiration for Vercesi, and fol­lowed him in his mistakes, so that Marc found himself in a minority. In the end, Vercesi’s positions led the Italian and Belgian Fractions into complete paralysis at the outbreak of World War II; Vercesi considered that there was no point in intervening against the war be­cause the proletariat had “disappeared socially”. Marc was unable to take up the fight against this conception immediately, since he had been called up in the French army (despite his “stateless” status)[8]. It was not un­til August 1940, in Marseille in southern France, that he was able to renew his political activity and to re­group the elements of the Italian Fraction living in the same city.

AGAINST THE IMPERIALIST WAR

Most of these militants refused to accept the dissolution of the Fractions that had been proclaimed by their In­ternational Bureau, under Vercesi’s influence. In 1941, they held a conference of the Fraction, reconsti­tuted on the basis of a rejection of the direction taken from 1937 onwards: the theory of the war economy as a means of overcoming the crisis, “localised” wars against the working class, the “social disappearance of the proletariat”, etc. The Fraction also abandoned its old position on the USSR as a “degenerated workers’ state”[9], and recognised its capitalist nature. Throughout the war, in the most difficult conditions of clandestinity, the Fraction was to hold annual confer­ences which brought together militants from Marseille, Toulon, Paris and Lyon; despite the German occupa­tion, it was also able establish links with militants in Belgium. It published an internal discussion bulletin, dealing with all the questions that had led to the col­lapse of 1939. On reading through the bulletin’s vari­ous issues, it is clear that most of the fundamental texts combating the direction taken by Vercesi, or elabo­rating the new positions demanded by the evolution of the situation, are signed ‘Marco’. Our comrade, who had only joined the Italian Fraction in 1938 and was its only “foreign” member, remained its main source of inspiration throughout the war.

At the same time, Marc undertook a series of discus­sions with a group of young militants, mostly from Trotskyism, with whom, in May 1942, he formed the French Nucleus of the Communist Left, on the same positions as the ICL. This group gave itself the objec­tive of forming a French Fraction, but under Marc’s in­fluence it refused any hasty proclamation of a new Fraction, rejecting the “recruitment campaigns” and “entryism” typical of the Trotskyists.

In 1942-43, massive class combats in Italy led to the overthrow of Mussolini (25th July 1943) and the cre­ation of the pro-Allied government of Admiral Badoglio. A text from the Fraction’s Executive Com­mission, signed ‘Marco’, declared that “the revolution­ary revolts which will put an end to the imperialist war will create in Europe a chaotic situation which will be extremely dangerous for the bourgeoisie”; at the same time, it warned against the attempts of the “anglo-americano-russian imperialist bloc” to crush these re­volts from outside, and against the efforts by the left parties to “muzzle revolutionary consciousness”. The Fraction’s conference, held in August 1943 despite Vercesi’s opposition, declared that following the events in Italy, “the Fraction’s transformation into the Party” was on the agenda in Italy itself. However, due to material difficulties, compounded by Vercesi’s inertia since he disagreed with this approach, the Fraction was unable to return to Italy to intervene actively in the combats that had begun to break out. In particular, it was unaware that at the end of 1943, Onorato Damen and Bruno Maffi had formed the “Partito Comunista Internazionalista”, with the help of one-time members of the Fraction.

At the same time, both Fraction and Nucleus had un­dertaken contacts and discussions with other revolu­tionary elements, and especially with German and Austrian refugees, the “Revolutionäre Kommunisten Deutschlands” (RKD), who had emerged from Trot­skyism. With them, the French Nucleus in particular was to conduct direct propaganda against the war ad­dressed to the workers and soldiers of all nationalities, including the German workers in uniform. This activ­ity was obviously extremely dangerous, since it had to confront not only the Gestapo, but also the Resistance. Indeed, it was the latter which proved most dangerous for our comrade. He and his companion were taken prisoner by the FFI (Forces Francaises de l’Interieur), which were stuffed with Stalinists; they escaped from death at the latter’s hands at the last minute. But the end of the war sounded the Fraction’s death-knell. After the “liberation” of Brussels in 1944, Vercesi, in continuity with his aberrant positions, and still turning his back on the principles he had defended in the past, took charge of an “Anti-fascist Coalition”; this latter published L’Italia di Domani, which used its assistance to Italian refugees and prisoners as a cover for a clear support for the Allied war effort. At first, the Fraction did not believe the reports of Vercesi’s activity. When these proved to be true, its EC followed Marc’s lead in expelling Vercesi on 25th January 1945. This decision was not a result of the disagreements on various ana­lytical points that existed between Vercesi and the ma­jority of the Fraction. The policy of the EC, and espe­cially of Marc who adopted Vercesi’s attitude towards the minority of 1936-37, was to conduct the debates with the greatest possible clarity. In 1944-45, how­ever, Vercesi was accused not simply of political dis­agreement but of playing an active, and even a leading, part in a bourgeois organism directly involved in the imperialist war. But this last display of intransigence was no more than the Fraction’s swan-song. At its May 1945 Conference, the Fraction had learned of the PCInt’s existence in Italy, and the majority of its mem­bers decided to dissolve the Fraction and join the new “Party” on an individual basis. Marc fought vigor­ously against what he considered to be a complete negation of the whole approach on which the Fraction had been based. He demanded that the Fraction should be maintained, at least until it had been able to verify the new organisation’s positions, which were still un­clear outside Italy. His caution proved wholly justi­fied, if we consider that the Party in question, joined by elements close to Bordiga who remained in the south of Italy (certain of whom had engaged in entry­ism in the Italian CP), moved towards wholly oppor­tunist positions to the point where it even compromised itself with the anti-fascist partisan movement (see our International Review nos. 32, 34). In protest against this desertion of principles, Marc announced his resig­nation from the EC and left the Conference; the latter also refused to recognise the French Fraction of the Communist Left (FFCL), which had been set up by the French Nucleus at the end of 1944, adopting the basic positions of the International Communist Left. Vercesi, on the other hand, joined the new “Party”, which asked for no account of his role in the Brussels anti-fascist coalition. It was the end of the effort that he had conducted himself for years, to make the Frac­tion a “bridge” between the old party, which had de­serted to the enemy, and the new, which would be re­constituted with the resurgence of the proletarian class struggle. Far from continuing the combat for these po­sitions, he remained ferociously hostile, along with the rest of the PCInt, to the only organisation which had remained faithful to the classic positions of the Italian Fraction and the International Communist Left: the FFCL. He even encouraged a split in the latter, which was to form another FFCL[10]. This group published a paper under the same name as the FFCL’s: L’Etincelle. It welcomed into its ranks the members of Bilan’s old minority, against whom Vercesi had fought at the time, as well as one-time members of Union Communiste. It was this second ‘FFCL’ that the PCInt and the Belgian Fraction (reconstituted after the war around Vercesi in Brussels) were to recognise as the “only representative of the Communist Left”.

Henceforth, Marc remained the only member of the Italian Left to continue with the combat and the posi­tions that had given this organisation its strength and its political clarity. He began this new stage in his po­litical life within the Gauche Communiste de France (French Communist Left), as the FFCL now called it­self

ICC, 199

When it comes to recounting a comrade’s life, and to paying our respects to his commitment, we would have preferred to treat it as a whole and publish this article in full in the International Review. However, because his life was so much a part of this century’s history, and of the revolutionary minorities of the workers’ movement, we have felt it necessary, not just to describe our comrade’s life, but to develop at greater length the most important political questions which he had to confront, and the life of the organisations where he was a member. Given the imperatives of the international situation today, and our limited space, the article has thus been divided into two; the second part will be published in the next issue of this Review.



[1] These are only the best known among those militants who managed to pass through the period of counter-revolution without abandoning their communist convictions. But it should be said that, unlike Marc, most of them did not succeed in founding or maintaining revolutionary organisation. This was the case, for example, with Mattick, Pannekoek, and Canne-Meijer, these leading figures of the “councilist” movement were paralysed by their own conceptions of organisation, or even, in Canne-­Meijer’s case (see the article “Lost Socialism”, in our International Review no. 37) by the idea that capitalism could go on overcoming its crises and so postpone indefinitely any possibility of socialism. Similarly Munis, a courageous militant who came from the Spanish section of the Trotskyist current, was never able to break completely with his original conceptions and remained trapped in a voluntarist vision which rejected the role of the economic crisis in the development of the class struggle; he was thus unable to give the new elements who joined him in the Ferment Ouvrier Révolu­tionnaire (FOR) a theoretical framework which would enable them to maintain the organisation’s activity on any serious level alter the death of its founder. Bordiga and Damen on the other hand, were able to set up or­ganisations that survived their founders (the International and Internation­alist Communist Parties respectively); however, they found it extremely dif­ficult (especially in Bordiga’s case) to go beyond those positions of the Communist International, which had become out-of-date. This has proved a handicap for their organisations, and led to an extremely serious crisis in the PCI at the beginning of the 80’s, or in the PCInt’s case to a constant ambiguity on vital questions like the trade union, parliamentary or national questions (as we saw at the international conferences at the end of the 1970’s). It was also the case, to an extent, with Jan Appel, one of the great names of the KAPD who remained marked by its positions without really being able to adapt them to the present. Nonetheless, when the ICC was formed this comrade identified with our organisation’s general orientation and gave it all the support that his strength allowed. It should be noted that Marc, despite all their sometimes substantial disagreements, held all these militants in great esteem, and felt a great affection for most of them. Nor were these feelings limited to these comrades alone. They extended also to other less well-known militants, who had the immense merit in Marc’s eyes’ of having remained faithful to the revolutionary cause during the worst moments in the proletariat’s history.

[2] Gavroche is a character in Victor Hugo’s great novel Lea Misérables. He is a ten-year-old child, from a poor family, who spends most of his time in the streets. When the June 1832 insurrection breaks out in Paris, he plunges into it, and meets his death on the barricades. Since then, the name has entered the French language as a synonym for street-wise kids with the same kind of character.

[3] Marc enjoyed recalling the episode in the life of Rosa Luxemburg when she dared to stand against all the “authorities” of the Socialist International at its 1896 Congress (she was 26 years old at the time), to attack what seemed to have become an untouchable principle of the workers’ move­ment: the demand for Polish independence.

[4] This approach is completely opposed to Bordiga’s, who considered the proletarian programme “invariant” since 1848. This being said, it clearly has nothing to do either with the approach of “revisionists” like Bernstein, or more recently like Chaulieu [Castoriadis/Cardan], the mentor of the “Socialisme ou Barbarie” group (1949-65). It is also completely different from the approach of the councilist movement which, because the 1917 revolution ended up in a variant of capitalism, considered it no more than a bourgeois revolution, or claimed appartenance to a “new” as opposed to an “old” (i.e. Second and Third Internationals) workers’ movement, which had failed completely.

[5] On the Fraction’s attitude to the events in Spain, see in particular IRs nos. 4, 6, 7.

[6] On the Italian Fraction see our book The Italian Communist Left.

[7] On the question of the relationship between Party and Fraction, see our series of articles in the International Review nos. 59, 61, and 64.

[8] For 15 years, our comrade had no official papers other than an expul­sion order from French territory; every two weeks, he had to ask the police for a “stay of execution” of the order. The very “democratic” government of France - the so-called “land of sanctuary and the rights of man” - thus held a sword of Damocles over his head, since he had to renounce all po­litical activity: needless to say, he failed to respect this promise. When the war broke out, the same government decided that this “undesirable alien” was nonetheless perfectly apt to serve as canon-fodder in defence of the fatherland. He was taken prisoner by the Germans, but managed to escape before the occupying authorities realised that he was Jewish. With his companion Clara, he made his way to Marseille, where the police discov­ered his pre-war status and refused to give him any kind of official identity. Ironically, it was the military authorities who forced the civilians to alter their decision in favour of this “servant of France”, all the more “deserving” in their eyes, in that he was not even French! ­

[9] It should be noted that this analysis, although similar to that of the Trot­skyists, never led the Fraction to call for the “defence of the USSR”. From the beginning of the 1930’s, the Fraction considered the “Soviet” state to be the worst enemy of the working class; the war in Spain perfectly illustrated this position.

[10] We should point out that despite Vercesi’s mistakes, Marc always held him personally in great esteem. This extended, moreover, to all the mem­bers of the Italian Fraction, of whom he always spoke in the warmest terms. One had to listen to Marc speaking of these militants, of Piccino, Tulio, Stefanini... workers almost to a man, to measure the affection he felt for them.

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