Bilan’: Lessons of Spain 1936 and the Crisis in the Fraction
In the fourth number of the International Review we published the first in a series of articles taken from Bilan, covering the period from the fall of the Primo de Rivera regime and the monarchy to the events of 1936. In these articles, Bilan attempted to show that the fall of the old regime was due to its anachronistic features, which made it absolutely incapable of dealing with the problems posed to Spanish capitalism by the general crisis of world capital. Only by beginning from this global historical context could the development of the situation in Spain be understood. The stance adopted by the Communist Left, led by the Italian Fraction, was radically opposed to Trotsky’s and that of other groups born out of the degeneration of the Communist International. They began by fixating on all the specific characteristics of Spain which led them into all manner of aberrations, the most noteworthy of which was to see in the advent of the Republic the triumph of some kind of ‘progressive’ bourgeois-democratic revolution over the old ‘feudal’ order. Bilan, of course, never ignored the backward characteristics of Spanish capital, but insisted on that point. However, it energetically rejected the deviation of defining backward Spain as a feudal society about to give birth to a bourgeois-democratic revolution and all that that implied. In general Bilan categorically rejected any idea of the possibility of bourgeois-democratic revolutions taking place in the present period of the decline of capitalism.
In this historical epoch the only alternative facing society is proletarian revolution or imperialist war, socialism or barbarism.1
The great majority of groups on the left, even if they did not talk about an ‘anti-feudal revolution’, still saw the events in Spain as a movement of continual advance for the working class, a movement which was forcing the bourgeoisie to retreat. This was how they interpreted any strengthening of the Republic and the left-wing parties inside it. The development of ‘democracy’ was seen by such groups as the expression of the proletariat’s advance, as a strengthening of its class positions. The reinforcement of the ‘democratic’ state and its apparatus, in however violent and repressive a manner, was seen as an indication of the weakness of the bourgeoisie and synonymous with the advance of the proletariat.
Bilan’s interpretation was in diametrical opposition to this analysis. It saw in the formation of the democratic Republic, the state structure best adapted to divert the proletariat from its own class terrain in order to fragment it politically while controlling it physically. At that time capitalism - of which Spanish capitalism was an integral part - was moving faster and faster towards the only answer it had to the world crisis: imperialist war. Moreover, capitalism had managed to completely dominate and master the only alternative, the only barrier to war: the class struggle of the proletariat. Having suffered a multitude of defeats, having seen the triumph of Stalinism, fascism, Hitlerism, and the Popular Fronts, the working class in the most important countries was in a profoundly demoralized and powerless position. Only in the Iberian region was there a section of the proletariat which had maintained a tremendous combative potential. In such circumstances such combativity was absolutely intolerable to capitalism; it not only had to break apart such resistance, but also make use of it - to turn Spain into an immense bloodbath that would help mobilize the workers of the entire world for the imperialist massacre. This was the real meaning of the rise to power of the democratic Republic and the triumph of the Popular Front in Spain. Such a radically different analysis led the Italian Fraction to be increasingly isolated from other groups who had survived the degeneration of the Communist International. Bilan’s warnings against the imminent catastrophe that was being prepared for the proletariat in Spain received no echo. And all Bilan could do was sadly recognize the blindness which had struck these groups, their gradual tendency to go astray, which made them at once the victims and the accomplices of the ‘antifascist’ massacre in Spain.
The development of events quickly sealed the fate of these groups. Not one of them had the strength to avoid being dragged into support for the imperialist war which followed on from Franco’s military uprising. The magnificent spontaneous response of the proletariat, which by staying on its class terrain rapidly got the better of the army in the main working class centres in Spain, was soon broken by the contortions and manoeuvrings of the Republican state. All the political forces organized within and against the working class - the Communist Party, the Socialist Party, the anarchists, trade unionists of the UGT and CNT - managed to deprive the workers of their victory over the army by turning their class victory into a battle for the defence of democracy, the Republican state, and capitalist ‘order’. Class lines were blurred; class frontiers obliterated. The class struggle of the proletariat against capitalism was replaced by the struggle against fascism, by the union of all the democratic forces of the bourgeoisie - the characteristic line-up of capitalist rule. Spain was a general rehearsal for the whole campaign of mystification that would be used to march the proletariat off under the banners of democracy against fascism to fight in the second imperialist world war.
The trap was snapped shut, tragically confirming Bilan’s position on the function of democracy generally in capitalism and in Spain in particular. Far from being a sign of the proletariat strengthening itself, and far from representing a step towards new conquests by the proletariat as the various groups on the left claimed, the struggle for democracy was actually a sign of the derailment and defeat of the working class. The function of democracy was to lead the class into an imperialist war. Not only was Bilan’s position fully confirmed by events, but this revolutionary marxist thesis enabled it to remain loyal to the principles of the class, and to resist being drawn into the nauseous cess-pit of the ‘anti-fascist’ imperialist war. And this was to its lasting honour and credit.
Very different was the fate of the great majority of other groups, even communist ones. Without wasting words on the riffraff of the socialist left like Pivert and Co., all the groups of the Trotskyist opposition, the POUM, the revolutionary-syndicalists of Revolution Proletarienne, up to an including groups like L’Union Communiste in France and the internationalist group in Belgium, all plunged miserably into the anti-fascist mire. Some with enthusiasm, others with doubts and breast-beating, but all of them caught up in the antifascist web they themselves had woven, and there they ended their days in lamentable debates and hagglings. The most radical groups denounced the Popular Front and participation in the Republican government, but still considered it absolutely necessary to participate in the war against Franco, arguing that a military victory over fascism was the precondition for the success of the revolution. Or else they tried to link the ‘external’ war at the Front against Franco with the ‘internal’ class struggle against the bourgeois Republican government.
In the International Review no.6 we reproduced a series of articles in which Bilan exposed this whole tissue of lies and sophisms whose only function was to justify participation in an imperialist war under the guise of proletarian anti-fascism. The war in Spain led directly to World War II. The radical groups, caught in their own trap, could do nothing then but fall apart and disappear; as for others, like the Trotskyists, they simply passed once and for all into the camp of the class enemy by fully participating in the generalized imperialist war.
The events in Spain reaffirmed a fundamental lesson for revolutionaries: a proletarian group cannot stick its finger into the wheels of capitalism with impunity. At a given moment, in one of those sudden convulsions which occur in history, it can become irremediably caught within those wheels and dashed to pieces. If the proletariat, deluded and crushed, is unable to spring back into struggle, its revolutionary organizations will be likewise hamstrung since they are simply the organizations and instruments of the class. The working class as a class is and remains the subject of history. Caught up in the spokes of the class enemy’s machine, revolutionary groups are irretrievably lost and destroyed, and then there is nothing for it but for the class to engender new organizations. Revolutionary organizations are thus constantly exposed to the danger of corruption by the class enemy. There is no absolute guarantee against this danger. Only loyalty to principles and a constant political vigilance can offer the revolutionary organization some assurance against the corrosive penetration of bourgeois ideology. And even then there can be no total security.
In no.6 of the International Review we terminated the series of articles from Bilan with an article entitled ‘The Isolation of our Fraction in the Face of the Spanish Events’. Here Bilan wrote: “Our isolation is not fortuitous. It is the consequence of a profound victory by world capitalism which has managed to infect with gangrene even the groups of the Communist Left.” Not only did the Italian Fraction find itself isolated as other communist groups became infected with the gangrene of world capitalism, the Fraction itself did not succeed in escaping from such contamination, despite all its vigilance. It, in turn, found this gangrene in its own midst in the form of a minority calling for the support of the ‘anti-fascist’ war in Spain. We know that when World War I was declared, a large part of the Parisian section of the Bolshevik Party gave its support to the ‘defensive’ war of the ‘democratic’ allies against Prussian imperialist militarism. With the experience of the minority of the Italian Fraction we can see once again that no absolute immunity exists against the penetration of capitalist gangrene into the body of a revolutionary organization. But once more, as was the case with the Bolshevik Party, the robust health of the organization allowed it to get the better of the gangrene without too much damage being done to itself.
We considered it absolutely necessary to publish all the texts and declarations, both of the minority and the majority, concerning the debates and crisis provoked by the events in Spain in the Italian Fraction of the Communist Left. This was done for several reasons, not least because to have done otherwise would have meant failing in that elementary duty of providing other revolutionaries with all the information. Reading these texts is a highly edifying experience and gives some idea of the breadth, content, and seriousness of these discussions, as well as a more precise picture of the political life of the Fraction. The arguments of the minority, which were more the result of a sentimental reaction to the events in Spain than anything else, were not especially different from those of other radical groups who had fallen into the same mystifications and errors. Their main argument boiled down to saying that non-intervention would be to assume an aloof attitude of intolerable indifference to what was happening in Spain. Accusations of this sort often act as a cover for thoughtless, ill-considered, and rash actions.2 The minority’s own sad experience attests to this. It is striking to find this same accusation of indifference thrown at us today by the Bordigists as a justification for their support for national liberation struggles (read massacres).
It came as no surprise that after their misadventures in the anti-fascist militia of the POUM following its dissolution and incorporation into the army, the minority returned from Spain and plunged straightaway into the swamps of L’Union Communiste. A natural home for them! Neither was it surprising that at the end of the war, it was the minority who were the most enthusiastic participants in the formation of the Bordigist’s International Communist Party; the French section of the Party was virtually constituted by the minority. That Party was also a perfect home for them. What an ironic revenge. And it was precisely the positions of the minority which really, if not formally, triumphed within the ICP. If the ICP does not recognize its origins in the Italian Fraction and Bilan it should at least see its roots in the political positions of the minority of the Italian Fraction of the Communist Left and give them the honour they deserve.
Finally, it is extremely interesting and significant to see how the Fraction conducted these discussions, to see how patiently it put up with all the organizational infringements of the minority by making all kinds of organizational concessions to them. This was done not in order to hang on to the minority whose political positions were considered absolutely incompatible with those of the Fraction, nor to prevent the inevitable split from happening, but to clarify political differences as far as possible so that the split would strengthen the consciousness and cohesion of the revolutionary organization. In this the Italian Fraction of the Communist Left has given us an extremely rare and valuable lesson. Today, with the tendency towards the reconstitution of the revolutionary movement, the young groups springing up must reflect carefully on this lesson in order to fully assimilate it and make it an added weapon in the regroupment of revolutionaries.
To conclude, we are publishing the Appeal of the Communist Left issued in response to the massacres of May 1937 which finally settled the debate with the minority on the meaning of the anti-fascist Republican coalition and the events in Spain. Those who claim to be able to draw other positive lessons from these events (the collectivizations in the countryside or the syndicalization of industry are often presented as new or higher forms of working class autonomy) are allowing themselves to be mystified by an appearance which they take for reality.
The one tragic reality was the transformation of Spain into an immense field of massacre on which hundreds of thousands of Spanish workers were executed in the name of defending democracy and in preparation for the second imperialist war. This and this alone is the lesson of Spain that the workers of the world must never forget.The communiqué of the Executive Commission
The events in Spain have caused a grave crisis within our organization. The present situation has not made it possible for us to embark upon a thorough going discussion of the divergences, especially because some of our comrades are unable at the present time to clarify their position.
In this situation, the Executive Commission of our organization has only been able to record the initial attempts of these comrades to put forward their political positions, while at the same time insisting that those positions inevitably pose the question of a split in our organization. This split will obviously be ideological and not simply organizational, provided the differences over the fundamental problems are presented with complete clarity.
Beside the position publically defended by our Fraction (which needs no further explanation here), other opinions have been put forward which, as we have said, have not yet coalesced into a general position. Neither have the comrades who hold these opinions been able to define precisely the respective arguments they agree on. The central idea of those comrades who do not share the opinion of what is today the majority of the organization is, however, that they consider it possible to defend the autonomy of the working class, especially in Catalonia, without the whole situation in Spain first undergoing a radical transformation and without posing the front of the class struggle in the towns and countryside, against the present (territorial) fronts in Spain, which we consider to be of an imperialist nature.
The Executive Commission has decided the discussion should not be carried on in a hurried manner so that the organization can benefit from the contribution of the comrades who are unable at the moment to intervene actively in the debate, and also because the further evolution of the situation in Spain will allow for a more complete clarification of the fundamental differences which have emerged.
With these considerations in mind, it is clear that the comrades of the present minority have, as much as anyone else, the possibility of publically setting apart their responsibilities from those of the Fraction and, while still claiming membership in the Fraction, carrying on the struggle in Spain on the basis of their positions (ie of seeking to establish the autonomy of the working class within the framework of the present situation in Spain).
In the next issue of Bilan we intend to publish all the documents relevant to the divergences which have emerged in our organization.
no.34, August-September, 1936)
The crisis in the Fraction: The communiqué of the Executive Commission
The crisis which has developed in the Fraction as a consequence of the events in Spain has now reached a decisive point in its evolution. The fundamental divergences which we mentioned in our first communiqué have come up once again during the course of discussions which have taken place within the organization. The discussions have not yet led to a clarification of the fundamental points of difference; this is mainly because the minority has not yet found it possible to elaborate an analysis of the recent events in Spain which could serve as a confirmation of the central positions they defend.
Faced with major disagreements that not only make collective discipline impossible but turn such discipline into an obstacle to the expression and development of the two political positions, the Executive Commission, on the basis of the programmatic conceptions it defends concerning the construction of the party, considers it necessary to work towards a separation on the organizational level. This separation must be as clear as the one which already exists on the political level, where the two conceptions are in reality an echo of the opposition between capitalism and the proletariat.
The Executive Commission is aware that the minority, having set up a ‘Co-ordinating Committee’, is moving in a similar direction. This Committee has taken a series of decisions which the Executive Commission has limited itself to recording, while refraining from criticism and taking every measure to ensure that the minority has every possibility of carrying on its activity. However, the Executive Commission believes that it cannot accept the minority’s demand for the recognition of the Barcelona Federation, since the latter was founded on the basis of enlistment in the militias, which have more and more become appendices of the capitalist state. The disagreement with members of the minority itself on the question of the militias can still be submitted for discussion at the next Congress of our Fraction, because this difference has arisen on the basis of a solidarity affirmed in the fundamental documents of the organization. It quite another thing for those who want to join the organization on the political basis of enlistment in the militias; the question of whether this is compatible with the programmatic documents of the Fraction can only be decided by the Congress. For these reasons, the Executive Commission has decided not to recognise the Barcelona Federation and to count the votes of comrades who are now part of it as votes coming from the groups that they belonged to prior to joining the Federation.
The Executive Commission reaffirms that the unity of the Fraction, which has been broken by the events in Spain, can only be rebuilt on the basis of excluding political positions which, far from being able to express any solidarity with the Spanish proletariat, can only serve to justify in the eyes of the masses those forces profoundly hostile to the proletariat, which capitalism is using to exterminate the working class in Spain and all over the world.
See below: ‘Communique of the Coordinating Committee’.
(Bilan, no.35, September-October, 1936)The Spanish Revolution
This article, by a comrade in the minority of the Fraction, was written on 8 August at a time when the extreme scarcity of news hardly permitted an analysis of the events to be made. It has not been possible for the author to revise his text in order to take certain necessary corrections to statements of fact contained in it. The reader should bear this in mind.
The fall of the monarchy, although it happened in a peaceful even chivalrous manner - in an atmosphere of rejoicing and not struggle - opened up the revolutionary crisis in Spain. The dictatorship of Primo de Rivera was also a symptom of this crisis.
The political and economic structure of Spain was entirely built upon the feudal scaffolding of a state that existed parasitically for four centuries through the exploitation of its immense colonial empire, a source of inexhaustible wealth. At the end of the nineteenth century when it lost its last colonial possessions, Spain was reduced to a third-rate power, surviving on the basis of its agricultural exports. The world crisis following the war considerably reduced its markets and bit into the reserves of capital accumulated during the war thanks to Spain’s policy of neutrality. The crisis also posed the question of the economic transformation of the country. The attempt to stimulate Spain’s productive forces by creating a modern industrial apparatus and an internal market for industrial production by transforming the system of production in the countryside came up against the conservative spirit of the old privileged feudal castes.
Five years of successive right- and left-wing governments did not even solve the political problem of the constitutional form of the regime. The existence of the Republic itself was threatened by a determined monarchist party. Still less was any solution found to the economic problem which can only finally be resolved by a violent transformation of social relations in the countryside. The agrarian question is of fundamental importance. It cannot be solved within a framework of bourgeois institutions, but only by revolutionary methods - the expropriation without compensation of the latifundia and the seigneurial estates.
Of the million square kilometres which constitute Spain, two-thirds of the land belongs to 20,000 landowners. The remaining fragments are left to the twenty million human beings who live out their misery in brutish time-honoured ignorance.
Azana’s attempt at agrarian reform had to have a negative outcome. The confiscation of the land, with indemnity being paid to the landowners, was followed by a dividing up of the land. This put a heavy burden on the peasant who now not only had to cultivate land which was often arid and neglected but started off doing so with debts and without any circulating capital. In places where the land was divided up, discontent grew among the peasants who were unable to derive any advantage from their own possession of the land. This situation of discontent explains why in some agrarian provinces the ‘rebels’ found support among the local population.
After two years of right-wing dominated governments, the threat of a thorough-going attack led to the formation of a coalition of Republican and workers’ parties, and ultimately to the electoral victory of 16 February. The mass pressure leading to the release of 30,000 political prisoners even before the amnesty decree was proclaimed shifted the balance of forces. But the hopes of the masses were dashed. During the five months in which the Popular Front governed the country, there was no real, change in the situation. Meanwhile, the economic situation continued to be extremely serious. Nothing was done to find a lasting solution to the crisis, since the bourgeois character of the new government limited it to taking up a defensive position towards the monarchist party. It simply dispatched to Morocco a large number of officers disloyal to the Republican regime. This explains why Morocco was the guiding centre of the military rebellion, capable of mustering within a few days an army of 40,000 fully-equipped troops and completely shielded from any repressive measures. The Foreign Legion, ‘La Bandera’, which formed the basis of this army only had a few foreigners in its midst (10-15%). In the main it was made up of Spaniards -- unemployed, declassed, or criminal elements -- in other words, real mercenaries easily tempted by the mirage of a soldier’s pay.
The murder of the socialist Lieutenant de Castillo, followed the next day by the murder of the monarchist leader, Carlos Sotelo in reprisal (July 9 and 10), caused the Right to decide on action. The insurrection began on 17 July. It did not have the character of a typical military pronunciamento, which is based on surprise, speed, and limited goals and objectives; in short, a change of governmental personnel. The length and intensity of the struggle shows that we are dealing with a vast social movement in the process of transforming Spanish society down to its roots. The proof of this lies in the fact that the democratic government, itself altered twice within the space of a few hours, instead of folding up or rushing to make a compromise with the insurgent military leaders, chose to ally itself with the workers’ organizations and to hand out arms to the proletariat.
This event is tremendously important. Although the struggle is formally situated within the framework of a conflict between two bourgeois groups, and although its pretext is the defence of the democratic Republic against the threat of fascist dictatorship, it has today a much wider meaning, a profound importance for the class. It has become the lever, the motor force of a genuine social war.
The authority of the government is in pieces. In a few days the control of military operations had passed into the hands of the ‘workers’ militias; logistical services, the general direction of all matters related to the war effort, circulation, production, distribution, all this has fallen under the control of the workers’ organizations.
The de facto government is the workers’ organizations; the legal government is an empty shell, a facade, a prisoner of the situation.
The burning of all the churches, the confiscation of goods, the occupation of houses and other properties, the requisitioning of newspapers, summary trials and executions -- even of foreigners -- all these are formidable passionate plebian expressions of this profound transformation of class forces which the bourgeois government can no longer prevent. In the meantime the government intervenes not to wipe out these ‘arbitrary’ measures, but simply to legalize them. It takes over banks and factories abandoned by their owners, and nationalize the factories engaged in war production. Social measures have been taken: the forty hour week, 15% increases in wages and a 50% reduction in rents.
On 6 August a ministerial shake-up took place in Catalonia as a result of pressure exerted by the CNT. It appears that Companys, President of the Generalidad, was forced by the workers’ organizations to stay at his post in order to avoid any international complications that cannot but fail to arise in the course of such events.
The bourgeois government remains standing. Without any doubt, once the danger passes, it will make a desperate attempt to regain its lost authority. Then a new stage of struggle will begin for the working class.
It is undeniable that the struggle has been set in motion by the conflict between two bourgeois factions. The working class has ranged itself alongside the one dominated by the ideology of the Popular Front. The democratic government is arming the proletariat as a last-ditch defensive measure. But the state of decomposition of the bourgeois economy is making any re-adjustment in the situation an impossibility, no matter whether fascism or democracy is victorious. Only the autonomous intervention of the proletariat can solve the political crisis of Spanish society. But the result of that intervention is dependent on the international situation. The Spanish revolution is intimately linked to the problem of the world revolution.
The victory of either the one faction or the other cannot resolve the basic problem. It can only be decided by a change in the balance of class forces on an international scale and by the demystification of the masses, hypnotized by the serpent of the Popular Front. However, the victory of the one group rather than the other will have political and psychological repercussions which have to be borne in mind in any analysis of the situation. The victory of the army would not only be a defeat for bourgeois democracy; it would also signal a brutal and merciless defeat for the working class since it has thrown itself wholeheartedly into the fray. The working class would be nailed to the cross of its defeat in an irremedial and total manner, just as it was in Italy and Germany. Moreover, the entire international situation would be modeled on the victory of Spanish fascism. A storm of violent repression would descend upon the working class throughout the whole world.
We will not even bother to discuss the conception which holds that the proletariat would be able to develop a firmer class consciousness after the victory of the reactionaries.
A victory for the government, by giving encouragement and consciousness to the proletariat of other countries, would lead to extremely important changes in the international situation. Without doubt these advantages would be partially neutralized by the nefarious influence of intensive nationalist, anti-fascist, warmongering propaganda on the part of the parties of the Popular Front and first and foremost among them the Communist Party.
It is doubtful whether a defeat of the army would inevitably lead to a strengthening of the democratic government. On the other hand, it is certain that the masses, still armed, proud of their painfully-acquired victory and strengthened by the experience of war, would demand their dues from this government. The ideological powder used by the Popular Front to confuse the masses could explode in the hands of the bourgeois state.
Only an extreme distrust in the class instincts of the masses could lead one to think that the demobilization of millions of workers who had already gone through a long hard struggle could be carried out without confrontations and upheavals ensuing.
But, even given the validity of the supposition that the victory of the government would be followed by a material and spiritual disarmament of the proletariat -- without any friction occurring -- this would still not mean that the whole balance of class forces had changed. New and powerful energies could arise out of such a vast social conflagration and the movement towards the formation of the class party would thereby be accelerated.
The class struggle is not made of soft wax that we can mould according to our schemas and our preferences. It evolves in a dialectical manner. In politics, prediction can only be an approximation of reality. To close one’s eyes in the face of reality, simply because it does not correspond to the mental schema we have constructed, is to withdraw from the real movement by completely removing oneself from the dynamics of the situation.
The ideological poison of the Popular Front and the lack of a class party are two negative elements of overwhelming importance. But it is precisely because of this that we must place all our efforts on the side of the Spanish workers.
To say to them that this danger exists and then not intervene ourselves to fight this danger is an expression of insensibility and dilettantism.
Our abstentionism over the Spanish question signifies the liquidation of our Fraction, a sort of suicide resulting from an indigestion of doctrinaire formulae.
Obsessed with ourselves, like Narcissus, we drown in the waters of abstraction, while the beautiful nymph Echo dies of langour out of love for us.
(Bilan, no.35, September-October, 1936)The crisis in the Fraction: Communiqué of the ‘Coordinating Committee’
The minority of the Italian Fraction of the Communist Left, after examining the Spanish events and hearing the verbal report of a delegate who was sent to Spain:
-- Denies any solidarity with and responsibility for the positions taken by the majority of the Fraction in its press (Bilan, Prometeo, manifestos, etc);
-- Approves the attitude taken by the group of comrades who, against the veto of the Executive Commission, have gone to Spain to defend, arms in hand, the Spanish revolution -- even on the military front;
-- Considers that the conditions for a split already exist, but that the absence of the comrades who have gone to the Front would remove from the present discussion an indispensable political and moral element of clarification;
-- Accepts the proposal to wait for the next Congress to come to a definitive solution to our disagreements;
-- Remains, therefore, from the organizational point of view -- if no longer from the ideological point of view -- in the ranks of the Fraction on the condition that the thought of the minority will be guaranteed free expression both in the Fraction’s press and its public meetings.
-- To send one of its delegates to Spain immediately to be followed, if necessary, by a group of comrades in order to embark upon an effective activity within and in agreement with the spirit of the vanguard of the Spanish proletariat wherever it is to be found so as to accelerate the political evolution of the proletariat in struggle until it has completely emancipated itself from all capitalist influences and from any illusion in class collaboration. This political work will be done, when it becomes possible, in association with the comrades who are now at the Front;
-- To nominate a Coordinating Committee which will take charge of relations between the comrades, the Barcelona Federation (recognition of which we demand immediately) and the comrades of other countries, in order to define the relations which the minority will have with the Executive Commission;
-- To authorize the comrades of the minority to fight against the positions of the majority and to refrain from distributing the press and other documents based on the official positions of the Fraction;
-- To demand that this resolution is published in the next issue of Prometeo and Bilan;
-- Concludes by sending a fraternal greeting to the Spanish proletariat which is defending the world revolution within its workers’ militias.
The Minority of the Italian Fraction of the Communist Left
(Bilan, no.35, September-October, 1936)The crisis in the Fraction: Communiqué of the Executive Commission
The Executive Commission remains firmly bound to the principle that a split within the fundamental organ of the proletariat disturbs and arrests the delicate living process of that organ when such a split is not the result of programmatic differences which express or tend to express the historic demands, not of a tendency, but of the class as a whole.
The Executive Commission is of the opinion that the minority is basing itself on different criteria and is threatening to split not only before the Congress, but even before the discussion has begun; and this on the controversial issue of the recognition or non-recognition of the Barcelona group. Despite the minority’s injunction, the Executive Commission reaffirms the necessity of resolving the crisis within the Fraction at the Congress.
The Executive Commission has ratified the position taken by one of its representatives who was charged with taking down all the decisions of the Coordinating Committee. But the Committee restricted itself to demanding the recognition of the Barcelona group which was therefore not a decision but a request to the Executive Commission, which remained free to make its own decision. It is thus inaccurate to talk about any undertakings not having been met.
The Executive Commission based its decision on an elementary criterion and a principle the organization was founded upon when it decided not to recognize the Barcelona group. This decision was taken on the basis of considerations which were not even discussed by the Coordinating Committee and which were published in our previous communiqué. It was decided that no member of the minority was to be expelled and thus the decision of the Coordinating Committee in considering the whole minority expelled if the Barcelona group was not recognized, is quite incomprehensible.
The Executive Commission, faced with today’s situation wherein there are no perfectly defined norms to regulate the life of an organization that is going through a period of crisis, although convinced that its previous decision was correct, has decided, in order to guide the whole Fraction towards a programmatic discussion and faced with the ultimatum of the Coordinating Committee, to redress its former decision and recognize the Barcelona group.
The Executive Commission has also raised certain political considerations concerning the impossibility of recruiting new militants in a period of crisis which must -- in the shared opinion of both tendencies -- lead to a split, since the new elements who came into the organization on the basis of disputed programmatic principles would find it quite impossible to resolve the fundamental issue. This fundamental issue revolves around the problem of the programme. It can only be resolved by those who were part of the organization before the crisis broke out and who joined on the basis of the programmatic documents of the Fraction.
The Coordinating Committee is pursuing a path which can offer nothing positive to the proletarian cause, while at the same time claiming that the Executive Commission has been led to act as it has done out of fear of becoming a minority within the organization. The Coordinating Committee knows just as well as the Executive Commission that even if the absurd idea of counting the votes of the workers who joined the Fraction in Barcelona were taken up, the present balance of forces would not be overturned.
The Executive Commission urges all the comrades to recognize the gravity of the situation and to restrain from any impulsive reactions, in order chat a discussion may be initiated whose aim will not be a victory for one tendency or the other but will allow the Fraction to be able to live up to the cause of the revolutionary proletariat by ridding itself of any ideology which, during the course of the Spanish events, will have shown itself to be injurious to the needs of the proletarian class struggle.Documents of the minority Communiqué of the minority
The Coordinating Committee, in the name of the Italian Fraction of the Communist Left:
Is of the opinion that the Executive Commission has not kept the promise given by its representative to the Coordinating Committee, that it would accept the resolution presented by the minority in which, among other things, the recognition of the Barcelona group was demanded;
In view of the communiqué of the Executive Commission which appeared in Prometeo where it declared that it did not want to recognize the Barcelona group, using as a pretext the claim that the basis for the constitution of this group was participation in the military struggle;
Considering that the basis for the constitution of this group is the same as for the whole of the minority;
Has decided that, if the Executive Commission persists in this position, the minority can only consider this position as signifying the expulsion of the whole minority of the Fraction.
For the minority,
The Coordinating Committee
Postscript: Since the decision of the Executive Commission dated 23 October, not to recognize the Barcelona group is based on the fact that the minority could become the majority, the Coordinating Committee declares that it is prepared not to count the votes of the new members in Barcelona and that the Executive Commission can consider as valid only the votes of the comrades who were part of the organization before going to Spain. For its part the minority considers the new recruits as members of the Fraction.
24 October 1936
Motion (address) adopted at the meeting of the Barcelona group of the Italian Fraction of the 'Communist Left (taken before their departure to the Front).
Barcelona, 23 August 1936
The comrades of the Italian Fraction of the Communist Left have entered the ranks of the workers' militias in order to support the Spanish proletariat in its great struggle against the bourgeoisie. We are at the side of the workers ready to make any sacrifice for the victory of the revolution.
During the long years of militant activity, of struggle and exile, we have had a dual experiences that of fascist reaction which has hurled the Italian proletariat into a desperate situation, and the degeneration of the Communist Party which has ideologically crucified the masses. However, the problem of the revolution can find no solution if the masses do not disengage themselves from the influence of the IInd and IIIrd Internationals and reconstruct a genuine class party capable of guiding it to victory.
We hope that the dynamic development of the present events can create in Spain and elsewhere the party of the revolution. The present vanguard in the POUM has in front of it a great task and a profound responsibility.
We are going off to the battle front within the International Column of the POUM’s militias, inspired by a political ideal which is held by all those heroic and magnificent Spanish workers: the ideal of fighting to the end, not to save the debris of the bourgeoisie, but to uproot and hurl down all forms of bourgeois power and to assist in the victory of the proletarian revolution. So that the efforts of all of us will not be in vain, the revolutionary vanguard of the POUM must succeed in conquering its last hesitations and resolutely place itself on the path leading to the Spanish October. Today it must choose between giving either direct or involuntary support to the bourgeoisie, and allying itself with the revolutionary workers of the whole world.
The destiny of the workers of the world depends on the character of political activity undertaken in the present social conflagration in Spain.
Long live the workers’ militia!
Long live the revolution!
(Blonde’s motion and the most recent resolution of the minority will appear in the next issue -- The Editors.)
(Bilan, no. 36, October-November, 1936)Resolution voted by the Executive Commission (29 November 1936) on the relationship between the Fraction and the members of the organization who accept the positions contained in the letter of the Coordinating Committee
25 December 1936
Throughout the development of the crisis within the Fraction, the Executive Commission has been guided by a dual principle: to avoid disciplinary measures so that the comrades of the minority could co-ordinate their activities in order to form a current within the organization whose aim would be to show that the other current had broken with the fundamental principles of the organization while it alone remained the real and faithful defender of these principles. This polemical confrontation could only take place at the Congress.
Following the meeting of the Parisian Federation of 27 September, at which the Coordinating Committee was born, the Executive Commission urged the Fraction to put up with a situation in which the minority enjoyed a privileged position. It was not participating in the financial effort necessary to keep our press alive, while at the same time it could write for that press. The Executive Commission did this solely to prevent a split taking place over a question of procedure.
Immediately after this came the threat of a split if the Executive Commission did not recognize the Barcelona group. The Executive Commission while still basing itself on the same principle -- that splits must take place over questions of principle and not over questions particular to a tendency and still less over organizational questions -- then decided to recognize the Barcelona group.
Finally, when the Executive Commission was forced to assert that the minority’s refusal to exchange with the other current documents relating to its political life would split the organization (but despite this the Executive Commission still defended the necessity for the Congress); the minority, through a ‘verbal’ communication of comrade Candiani, informed us that it would immediately break with the organization. The last appeal of the Executive Commission (25 November) received a response which must undermine any possibility of the minority attending the Congress.
In these circumstances, the Executive Commission is of the opinion that the evolution of the minority is clear proof that it can no longer be considered as a tendency of the organization but as a reflection of the manoeuvres of the Popular Front within the Fraction. Consequently there can be no problem of a political split in the organization.
Considering, moreover, that the minority is flirting with obvious counter-revolutionary enemies of the Fraction (in the shape of Ginestizia e Liberta, debris of maximalist Trotskyism while at the same time declaring any discussion with the Fraction to be useless, the Executive Commission has decided to expel for political unworthiness all the comrades who are in solidarity with the Coordinating Committee’s letter of 25 November 1936, and it will allow fifteen days for the comrades of the minority to come to a collective decision. These comrades are invited to give their individual responses by 13 December. An exception will be made for the comrades who are living in Barcelona; we will wait for their return so that they can be put fully in the picture. These reservations do not concern comrade Candiani who, before going back, had every opportunity of finding out about the situation.Documents of the minority (cont’d)
(After their return from the Front and after they had been in contact with the official delegate of the Fraction)
Spain today is the key to the whole international situation. The situation in Europe depends on the victory of one side or the other. A victory for Franco would mean the strengthening of the military bloc between Italy and Germany. A victory for the Popular Front would mean the strengthening of the anti-fascist military bloc (both outcomes leading towards an imperialist war); while victory for the proletariat would be the point of departure for a world-wide reawakening of the proletarian revolution.
In Spain we are confronted with an objectively revolutionary situation.
The February elections which ended in a victory for the Popular Front acted as a cushion, a safety valve, functioning to prevent the violent explosion of class antagonisms. The big strikes and demonstrations following the elections prove this.
The revolutionary menace of the proletariat forced the bourgeoisie to steal a march on events. This enabled us to conclude that the struggle was not between two factions of the bourgeoisie, but between the bourgeoisie and the proletariat; and that the proletariat was taking up arms to defend its living conditions and its organizations from attack by the reactionaries. For the same reasons that the Russian proletariat took up arms against Kornilov, the Spanish workers took up arms against Franco. It is not a question of democracy versus fascism, but of capitalism versus the proletariat. And if the bourgeoisie is still more or less in power, if the relations of production have not undergone a profound transformation, the cause must be sought in the fact that the proletariat is not ideologically armed. It does not possess a class party.
The existence of a class party would have settled the issue in the proletariat’s favour from the first days of the struggle. The Spanish Revolution has not yet entered into decline and the possibility of a victory for the proletariat cannot be categorically excluded.
Against capitalism fighting on two fronts, the proletariat must also fight on two fronts: both the social and the military. On the military front the proletariat is fighting to defend what it has conquered after decades of struggle; on the social front, the proletariat must accelerate the decomposition of the capitalist state, forge its own class party and the organs of proletarian government that will allow it to mount an attack on the capitalist power. On the military front the proletariat is today moving towards the creation of a future red army. Within the zones the militias have occupied, in one after another, we have seen the immediate foundation of peasant committees and the collectivization of the land happening under the very noses of the Madrid and Barcelona governments.
The group set up in Spain considers that it has not broken with the principles of the Fraction and for this reason it should not go unrecognized. We have been asked to break off all contact with the POUM: such contact never existed. To dissolve the Column is not in our power because it was not us who set it up. As for dispersing ourselves among the proletariat in its place of work, this will be done as far as possible.
(This document should be considered as a response to the Executive Commission resolution of 27 August 1936 and must have been written at the end of September.)
A group of comrades in the minority of the Italian Fraction of the Communist Left, disapproving of the official attitude taken by the Fraction towards the Spanish Revolution, has broken abruptly all disciplinary and formalistic links with that organization and has put itself at the service of the Revolution, up to and including participating in the workers’ militias and going off to the Front.
Today a new situation is emerging full of unknown perils for the working class. The dissolution of the Central Committee of the Anti-fascist Militias, an organ arising out of the revolution and guaranteeing the class nature of the militias, and their re-organization into a regular army dependent on the Council of Defence, violates the principle of a voluntary workers’ militia.
The necessities imposed by the historic moment in which we are living demand an extreme vigilance on the part of the vanguard of the proletariat. This vigilance is crucial in order to prevent the new military structure in which the masses are now being organized from becoming an instrument of the bourgeoisie which in the future could be used against the interests of the working class. The work of vigilance will be all the more effective if the class organizations become conscious of their interests and engage in a wholly proletarian course of political action.
Political work in these organizations assumes a primordial importance and is no less crucial than the military tasks at the Front.
These same comrades, while holding firmly to the principle of the necessity for armed struggle at the Front, have not agreed to be part of a regular army which is not an expression of proletarian power and within which it would be impossible to carry out direct political activity. On the other hand they can make a more effective contri button to the cause of the Spanish proletariat today through political and social activity, which is indispensable for preserving and strengthening the revolutionary ideology of the workers’ organizations. These organizations must re-appropriate on the political and social terrain the influence which in the new conditions, has been weakened at the level of military leadership.
These same comrades, while abandoning their posts as militiamen in the Lenin International Column, are still mobilized in the services of the revolutionary proletariat of Spain, and have decided to continue to dedicate their activity and their experience on another terrain, until the definitive victory of the proletariat over all forms of capitalist rule.
Barcelona, October 22 1936
(Bilan, no.37, November-December 1936)Bullets, machine guns, prisons: this is the reply of the Popular Front to the workers of Barcelona who dared to resist the capitalist offensive
July 19th 1936 -- the workers of Barcelona, barehanded, crushed the attack of Franco’s battalions which were fully armed to the teeth.
May 4th 1937 -- the same workers, now equipped with arms, left many more dead on the streets than in July when they had to fight back against Franco. This time it is the anti-fascist government -- including the anarchists and receiving the indirect solidarity of the POUM -- which unleashes the scum of the forces of repression against the workers.
On 19 July the workers of Barcelona were an invincible force. Their class struggle, free from any ties with the bourgeois state, echoed inside Franco’s regiments and caused them to decompose by awakening the soldiers’ class instincts. It was the strike that snatched the rifles and cannons from Franco and shattered his offensive.
History only records a few brief moments during which the proletariat can become completely autonomous from the capitalist state. A few days after 19 July, the Catalan proletariat reached the cross-roads. Either it would enter into a higher stage of struggle and destroy the bourgeois state, or capitalism would reforge the links in its chain of power. At this stage in the struggle, when class instinct is not enough and consciousness becomes the decisive factor, the proletariat can only win through if it has at its disposal theoretical capital accumulated patiently by its left fractions, transformed by the explosion of events into parties. If the Spanish proletariat today is living through such a stark tragedy, this is the result of its lack of maturity in being unable to forge its class party: the brain which, alone, can give life to the class.
From 19 July in Catalonia the workers created, spontaneously and on their own class terrain, the autonomous organs of their struggle. But immediately the anguishing dilemma arose: either fight to the end the political battle for the total destruction of the capitalist state and thus bring to perfection the economic and military successes, or leave the enemy’s machinery of oppression standing and thereby allow it to deform and liquidate the workers’ other conquests.
Classes struggle with the means imposed on them by the situation and by the level of social tension. Confronted with class conflagration, capitalism cannot even dream of resorting to the classical methods of legality. What threatens capitalism is the independence of the proletarian struggle, since that provides the condition for the class to go on to the revolutionary stage of posing the question of destroying bourgeois power. Capitalism must therefore renew the bonds of its control over the exploited masses. These bonds, previously represented by the magistrates, the police, and prisons, have in the extreme conditions which reign in Barcelona taken the form of the Committee of Militias, the socialized industries, the workers’ unions managing the key sectors of the economy, the vigilante patrols, etc.
And so in Spain today, history once again poses the problem resolved in Italy and Germany by the crushing of the proletariat: the workers manage to keep their own class weapons that they have themselves created in the heat of struggle, only as long as they use them against the bourgeois state. The workers arm their future executioners if, lacking the strength to smash their class enemy, they allow themselves to be caught in the net of the bourgeoisie’s apparatus of power.
The workers’ militia of 19 July was an organ of the proletariat. The ‘proletarian militia’ of the following week was a capitalist organ adapted to the needs of the moment. And in the implementation of its counterrevolutionary strategy, the bourgeoisie was able to call upon the centrists (the Stalinists), the CNT, the FAI, and the POUM to convince the workers that the state changes its nature when it’s managing personnel changes colour. Disguising itself behind a red flag, capitalism patiently set about sharpening the sword of its repression which by May 4 was made ready for use by the forces who had since 19 July broken the class backbone of the Spanish proletariat.
The son of Noske and the Weimar Constitution was Hitler; the son of Giolitti and ‘workers’ control’ was Mussolini; the son of the Spanish anti-fascist Front, the ‘socializations’, and the ‘proletarian’ militias was the carnage in Barcelona on 4 May 1937.And only the Russian proletariat responded to the fall of Czarism with October 1917 because it alone had managed to build its class party through the work of the left fractions.
Franco was able to prepare his attack under the wing of the Popular Front government. In a spirit of conciliation Barrio tried to form on 19 July a united government capable of carrying out the programme of Spanish capitalism as a whole, either under the leadership of Franco, or under the mixed leadership of a fraternally united left and right. But the workers’ revolts in Barcelona, Madrid, and the Asturias forced capitalism to divide its government in half, to share out the tasks between its Republican and military agents, who were joined together by an indivisible class solidarity.
Where Franco was unable to achieve an immediate victory, capitalism called the workers into its services in order to ‘fight fascism’. This was a bloody trap in which thousands of workers died, believing that under the leadership of the Republican government they could crush the legitimate heir of capitalism - fascism. And so they went off to the passes of Aragon, to the mountains of Guadarrama, to the Asturias, to fight for the victory of the anti-fascist war.
Once again, as in 1914, history has underlined in blood, over the mass graves of the workers, the irreconcilable opposition existing between the bourgeoisie and the proletariat.
Are the military fronts a necessity imposed by the current situation? No! They are a necessity for capitalism if it is to contain and crush the workers! May 4 1937 is stark proof of the fact that after July 19 1936 the proletariat had to fight Companys and Giral just as much as Franco. The military fronts can only dig a grave for the workers because they represent the fronts of capitalism’s war against the proletariat. The only answer the Spanish workers can give to this war is the one given by their Russian brothers in 1917: revolutionary defeatism in both camps of the bourgeoisie, the Republican as well as the ‘fascist’; the transformation of the capitalist war into a civil war for the total destruction of the bourgeois state.
The Italian Left Fraction has solely been supported in its tragic isolation by the solidarity of a current of the International Communist League in Belgium, which has just founded the Belgian Fraction of the International Communist Left. These two currents alone have rung the alarm bells while everyone else has been proclaiming the necessity to safeguard the conquests of the revolution, to smash Franco so as to be able to smash Caballero thereafter.
The recent events in Barcelona are a gloomy confirmation of our initial thesis. They showed how the Popular Front, flanked by the anarchists and the POUM, turned on the insurgent workers on the 4th of May with a cruelty equal to that of Franco.
The vicissitudes of the military battles were so many occasions for the Republican government to regain its grip over the masses. In the absence of a proletarian policy of revolutionary defeatism, both the military successes and failures of the Republican army were simply steps in the bloody defeat of the working class. At Badajoz, Irun, and San Sebastian, the Popular Front contributed to the deliberate massacre of the proletariat while strengthening the bonds of the Union Sacree, since in order to win the anti-fascist war, there had to be a disciplined and centralized army. The resistance in Madrid, on the other hand, facilitated the offensive of the Popular Front which could now rid itself of its former lackey, the POUM, and prepare the attack of 4 May. The fall of Malaga reforged the bloody chains of the Union Sacree, while the military victory at Guadalajara opened the period which culminated in the massacre in Barcelona. The attack of 4 May thus germinated and blossomed in an atmosphere of war fever.
Parallel to this, all over the world, Spanish capital’s war of extermination gave life to the forces of international bourgeois repression: the fascist and ‘anti-fascist’ deaths in Spain were accompanied by the murders in Moscow and the machine-gunnings in Clichy. And it was on the bloody altar of anti-fascism that the traitors mobilized the workers of Brussels around the democratic wing of Belgian capitalism in the elections of April 11 1937. ‘Arms for Spain’: this was the great slogan drummed into the ears of the workers. And these arms have been used to shoot their brothers in Barcelona. Soviet Russia, by co-operating in the arming of the antifascist war, has also demonstrated itself to be part of the capitalist system in this carnage. On the order of Stalin -- who exposed his anti-communist violence on 3 March 1937 -- the PSUC of Catalonia took the initiative in the massacre.
Once again, as in 1914, the workers are using their arms to kill each other instead of using them to destroy the regime of capitalist oppression.Workers!
On May 4 1937 the workers of Barcelona returned to the path they had taken up on 19 July. The path capitalism had been able to divert them from with the help of all the forces composing the Popular Front. By launching the general strike, even within the sectors presented as conquest of the revolution, they formed a class front against the Republican-Fascist bloc of capital. And the Republican government responded with the same savagery that Franco displayed at Badajoz and Irun. If the Salamanca government did not take advantage of this conflagration behind the Aragon Front to go onto the offensive, it was merely because it knew that its accomplices on the left would admirably carry out their role as executioners of the proletariat.
Exhausted by ten months of war, by class collaboration by the CNT, by the FAI, and by the POUM, the Catalan proletariat just suffered a terrible defeat. But this defeat is also a step towards the victory of tomorrow, a moment in the emancipation of the proletariat, because it signifies the death of all those ideologies which enabled capitalism to maintain its rule in spite of the gigantic shock of 19 July.
No, the proletarians who fell on 4 May cannot be laid claim to by any of the political currents who on 19 July led them off their own class terrain into the jaws of anti-fascism. The fallen workers belong to the proletariat and to the proletariat alone. They represent the raw stuff of the brain of the world working class: the class party of the communist revolution.
The workers of the whole world bow before all the dead and lay claim to their corpses against all the traitors: the traitors of yesterday and of today. The proletariat of the whole world salutes Berneri as one of its own, and his martyrdom for the ideal of anarchism is yet another protest against a political school which has met its downfall during these events in Spain. It was under the direction of a government in which the anarchists participated that the police have done to the body of Berneri what Mussolini did to the body of Matteotti!Workers!
The carnage of Barcelona is the harbinger of even more bloody repression against the workers of Spain and the rest of the world. But it is even more a fore-runner of the social tempests which, tomorrow, will sweep across the capitalist world.
In a mere ten months capitalism has had to use up all the political resources it had been hoping to use in order to demolish the proletariat, in order to prevent the class from completing the task of forming the party, the weapon of its emancipation, and creating the communist society. Centrism and anarchism, by rejoining the ranks of Social Democracy, have reached in Spain the end of their evolution, as was the case in 1914 when the war reduced the IInd International to a corpse. In Spain capitalism has unleashed a battle of international importance: the battle between fascism and anti-fascism. In the extreme form of armed confrontation, it demonstrates the acute tension between the classes on the international arena.
The deaths in Barcelona have cleared the ground for the construction of the party of the working class. All those political forces who called upon the workers to fight for the revolution while mobilizing them into a capitalist war have passed to the other side of the barricade. Before the workers of the whole world a bright horizon is opening up: a horizon in which the workers of Barcelona have emblazoned with their own blood the class lessons already sketched in the blood of the dead of 1914-18. The workers’ struggle is a proletarian struggle only if it is directed against capitalism and its state: it serves the interests of the enemy if it is not directed against both, at every instant, in every sphere, in all the proletarian organizations the situation engenders.
The world proletariat must fight against capitalism even when the latter begins to repress its erstwhile lackeys. It is the working class, not its class enemies, which has the responsibility of settling its debts with those forces which were once part of its own development as a class, which were a moment in its struggle for emancipation from capitalist slavery.
The international battle which Spanish capitalism has launched against the proletariat has opened up a new chapter in the life of the fractions in different countries. The world proletariat, which must continue to fight against the ‘builders’ of artificial Internationals, knows that it can only build the proletarian International in a situation where a profound transformation of class forces on a world scale has opened up the way to the communist revolution. In the face of the war in Spain, itself a sign of the development of revolutionary ferment in other countries, the world proletariat feels that the time has come to forge the first international links between the fractions of the communist left.Workers of the world!
Your class is invincible; it is the motor force of historical evolution. The events in Spain are proof of this, because it is your class alone which is the stake in the battle shaking the whole world!
This defeat must not discourage you; you must draw from this defeat the lessons for tomorrow’s victory!
On your own class basis, reforge your class unity, beyond all frontiers, against all the mystifications of the capitalist enemy!
In Spain, against any attempt at a compromise aimed at the establishment of peace based on capitalist exploitation, fight back with fraternization between the exploited of both armies and a simultaneous struggle against capitalism!
On your feet for the revolutionary struggle in all countries!
Long live the workers of Barcelona who have turned a new and bloody page in the history of the world revolution!
Forward to the construction of an International Bureau to accelerate the formation of left fractions in every country!
Let us raise the standard of the communist revolution which the fascist and anti-fascist murderers are preventing the defeated workers from passing on to their class heirs.
Let us be worthy of our brothers who have fallen!
Long live the world communist revolution!
The Belgian and Italian Fractions of the International Communist Left
(Bilan, no.41, June 1937
1 One can measure the enormous distance separating the Bordigist Party (Programa Communiste) from the Italian Fraction by noting the fundamental difference contained in the notion of the historic era which was at the centre of all the analyses made by the Fraction, and the idea of geographic areas (‘progressive’ and ‘non-progressive’) which is the theoretical foundation stone forty years later of the Bordigist Party. It is therefore possible to understand quite easily why this Party cannot claim any continuity with the work of the Fraction nor with Bilan. Not only has this Party situated itself outside the framework of positions defended by Bilan; it is also operates outside the fundamental positions of the IIIrd International and even outside the framework around which it was constituted.
2 Today we can see a specimen of the ‘anti-wait-and-seeism’ school in group like Pour Une Intervention Communiste. The PIC is forever throwing itself into ‘actions’, ‘campaigns’, and participation in ephemeral committees including all kinds of different people in an effort to prove itself much more influenced by pure excitement than by a desire for considered activity. It is true, however, that in contrast to the PIC whose intervention is above all verbal, the members of the minority of the Italian Fraction took their lack of reflection to its final conclusion and joined the militias and fought at the front.