In this article, we return to the work of the Italian communist left, which before the war, in the shape of the Fraction in exile, had made such an irreplaceable contribution to our understanding of the problems of the transition from capitalism to communism, and to the inter-action, and often the opposition, of two leading militants of this current – Onorato Damen and Amadeo Bordiga.
We are re-publishing here the first part of an article written in 1998 for the Russian journal 'Proletarian Tribune', the aim of which was to give a brief history of the Communist Left for those who may not be well acquanted with the political tradition the ICC draws its heritage from.
Marxism, an indispensable weapon for the
Internationalism, as part of the communist left, has never hidden
its belonging to the political milieu which claim its adherence to marxism, the communist
theory that has historically best expressed the movement of the working class towards its
political and economic emancipation. Marxism has demonstrated its superiority over all
other social theories by being able to offer a global understanding of the movement of
human history and to predict the broad lines of its future evolution. Moreover marxism as
the theoretical viewpoint of the revolutionary class in capitalism , is the most advanced
point of human thinking about social reality. At the same time marxism is not a kind of
neutral science that can be learned in the unie that can be learned in the universities for the sake of learning. Marxism
is over all a weapon of combat of the working class in its revolutionary struggle against
capitalism, a tool for the advance of proletarian consciousness through the exposure of
bourgeoisie mystifcations and the expelling of all bourgeoisie’s ideological
influences from the working class. For us only those political organizations which base
themselves in Marxism can be truly meaningful in the struggle to overthrow capitalism by
the working class.
In Discussion Bulletin #103, the group called New
Democracy, contrary to its usual habit of ignoring political criticism, has done us the
honor of responding to our denunciation of their bourgeois character and
counter-revolutionary politics. In its reply ND, behind a renewed attack on Marxism, has
tried hard to defend its supposed revolutionary intentions, but perhaps unknowingly what
it really has done is to corroborate our charge that they are a bourgeois organization. By
ND’s own account its two founding members are ex-militants of a now defunct maoist
leftist organization, the Progressive Labor Party, who split from this organization to
form another "Party" and later on ND. These individuals, whatever their
intentions, instead of breaking with their political past in counter-revolutionary
Stalinism, have simply moved from the defense of leftist bourgeois ideology to the
forefront of the bourgeois attacks on Marxism, with the addition of a sort of democratic
bourgeois rubbish developed by their guru David Stratman, the main ideologue of ND.
Since the collapse of the eastern bloc in 1989, the anti-communist propaganda of the bourgeoisie - based on the 'greatest lie of the 20th century' that claims Stalinism was the inevitable outcome of Marxism - has obtained heights never before imaginable. But moreover, the influence of the classical theses of anarchism - this 'radical' petty bourgeois critique of Marxism-has itself widened, touching even those political circles that seek to link themselves up with Marxism once again. The bourgeois critique, like the anarchist criticism of Marxism, affirms - even in the case where Marx is not relegated to the same ranks as Stalin - that certain fundamental theses of Marxism, supposedly false, prefigured the rise of Stalinism. Notably, the Marxist conception according to which the proletariat has an historic task, a mission to complete, is considered a residue of idealism and even as a religious deformation of the scientific spirit. One finds such anarchist influences even among the declared partisans of historical materialism, for example the review Soziale Befreiung (SB), written by the Unabh�ngige R�tekommunisten (independent council communists) in Germany. This influence does not surprise us since SB declares itself partisan of a "post-Marxist communism" in its new brochure The Terror of Capital (vol. 1).
The range of issues raised at each 'anti-capitalist' demonstration is wide. The state of the environment, climate change, free trade, the role of big corporations, privatisation, Third World debt, economic policies of the G8, the role of the World Trade Organisation, the structural adjustment programmes of the IMF and the World Bank - these are all targets of the leftists, anarchists, greens, religious groups and non-governmental organisations that turn out for the 'anti-globalisation' protests.
Introduction - Parliament is alien to the working class
Faced with another general election, and the calls by any number of so-called ‘socialists’ for the working class to chose between the capitalist parties standing for parliament, genuine communists have to reaffirm their total rejection of the whole ‘democratic’ circus.
Through his exposes and his contributions to the discussions, Cajo Brendel proved, in our opinion, that the 'classic' positions of the German-Dutch left have lost none of their relevance even if, as Brendel asserted, along with Marx, "our theory is not a dogma but a guide to action". As has long been the case with, what can be called "the Dutch can be called "the Dutch school of marxism", which was animated by, among others, Anton Pannekoek and Hermann Gorter, comrade Brendel denounced the bourgeois character of parliamentarism, the trade unions, and social democracy, and the state capitalist nature of the former eastern bloc. And while the state capitalist currents like Stalinism and Trotskyism have welcomed the new "Red-Green" government in Germany as a step forward for the working class, Brendel showed the profoundly anti-working class nature of this government.
In the “Theses on
Decomposition” (published for the first time in International
Review no 62 and republished in International
Review no107) as well as in the article “The
decomposition of capitalism” (published in the International
Review no57) we argued that capitalism had entered
into a new and final stage of its decadence, that of its
decomposition, a phase characterised by the aggravation and
culmination of all the contradictions of the system.
In the previous article in this series (IR73) we saw that Marx and his tendency, having come to terms with the defeat of the 1848 revolutions and the onset of a new period of capitalist growth, embarked upon a project of deep theoretical research aimed at uncovering the real dynamic of the capitalist mode of production, and thus the real basis for its eventual replacement by a communist social order.
Having examined the various facets of man's alienation, the next task Marx took up in the Economic and Philosophical Manuscripts was to criticize the crude and inadequate conceptions of communism which predominated in the proletarian movement of his time. As we showed in the first article in this series, Marx rejected the conceptions inherited from Babeuf and still propagated by the followers of Blanqui because they tended to present communism as a general leveling-down, as a negation of culture in which "the category of worker is not abolished but extended to all men"
"The theoretical conclusions of the communists are in no way based on ideas or principles that have been invented, or discovered, by this or that would-be universal reformer. They merely express, in general terms, actual relations springing from an existing class struggle, from a historical movement going on under our very eyes." (Communist Manifesto)