Italian Left

The Italian Left was formed by the groups expelled from the Third International, and therefore from the Italian Communist Party, during the 1920s. Remaining true to the tradition of proletarian internationalism, the Italian Left (notably around the review Bilan) had two great strengths: its insistence on theoretical clarity and rigour, and on the importance of the organisational question. The ICC is the most important heir to the Italian Left today

Doctor Bourrinet, fraud and self-proclaimed historian

Philippe Bourrinet has the misfortune of being peculiarly misunderstood. Among those who are interested in or claim to belong to the Communist Left, he passes for a serious and honest historian. Among historians, he passes for a defender of the Communist Left’s ideas (...) we desire to protest against this double error.

In the aftermath of World War Two: debates on how the workers will hold power after the revolution

In the continuing series on the nature of communism, we are publishing the "Theses on the nature of the state and the proletarian revolution" written by the French Communist Left in the aftermath of World War II, with a brief introduction to put the Theses into the historical context of the positions of Bordiga and Pannekoek on the subject.

Bilan, the Dutch left, and the transition to communism (ii)

While it lacks the immediacy of the class struggle, the question of the transitional period towards communism following the revolution, and of the nature of communist society itself, has always been hotly debated in the workers' movement. One major effort to systematise an understanding the issue was the publication of the Dutch councilist group GIC in the 1930s: Grundprinzipien Kommunistischer Produktion und Veiteilung. We publish here an account of the Italian Left's critique of the Grundprinzipien.

Notes on the subterranean maturation of consciousness

We are publishing a contribution to the discussion about the development of class consciousness by comrade mhou who regularly contributes to our internet forum. We agree with its approach but welcome further contributions, either as articles or on the forum.

Communism is not a 'nice idea', Vol. 3 Part 10, Bilan, the Dutch left, and the transition to communism

After a delay which has been much longer than we originally intended, we are resuming the third volume of the series on communism.

Formation of the Partito Comunista Internazionalista

The Italian Fraction and the French Communist Left

In the previous issue of this Review,

The Chinese question (1920-40): The communist left against the treason degenerated Communist International

We have already published in our Review a series of articles on so-called Communist China, in which we showed the counter-revolutionary nature of Maoism. If we return here to the fight waged by the Chinese proletariat during the 1920s, up until the terrible defeat it suffered in Shanghai and Canton, it is not only because this was a significant expression of the balance of forces between bourgeois and proletariat at the international level, but also because it played an important role in the revolutionary movement itself, owing to the decisive political battles which it engendered.

The Italian Communist Left: On the pamphlet "Among the shades of Bordigism and its epigones" (Battaglia Comunista)

Those who are today posing questions about the revolutionary perspectives of the working class come across a proletarian political milieu which is considerably disperse

Bilan no. 16, March 1935: The crushing defeat of the German proletariat and the rise of fascism

The relevance of Bilan's method

The Second Congress of the Internationalist Communist Party

The text from Internationalisme no.36 (July 1948) published here is a critique of the political and organizational weaknesses of the Internationalist Communist Party in its begin

Republication: Current problems of the workers' movement - Internationalisme (August 1947)

Battaglia Comunista: On the origins of the International Communist Party

Italian Left 1936: Problems of the period of transition

The following article was originally published in the November-December 1936 edition of Bilan (n°37), the theoretical journal of the Italian Fraction of the Communist Left. It is the fourth article in the series "Problems of the Period of Transition" by the Belgian comrade who signed his contributions "Mitchell". The previous three have been published in the last three issues of the International Review.

May 1937, 'Manifesto of the International Communist Left'

What was the ‘Spanish civil war’ of 1936-39? Most official histories, excluding those of the extreme right, present the Spanish civil war as a heroic defence of a democratically elected government against the mounting threat of fascism. More critical versions, such as those by the Trotskyists, argue that the Civil War was in fact the Spanish Revolution...

Against the concept of the "brilliant leader"

In politics, there’s nothing new in a group radi­cally changing its way of seeing and acting once it has become a big organisation, a mass party. One could cite several examples of such metamorphoses. One could to some extent apply it to the Bolshevik party after the revolution. But what’s striking about the International Communist Party of Italy is the surprising rapidity with which its main leaders have undergone such a change. And this is all the more surprising in that the Italian Party, both numerically and functionally, is in essence an enlarged fraction.

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

As 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.

Communism Vol. 3, Part 4 - The 1930s: debate on the period of transition

An in-depth article dealing with the question of the Period of Transition from capitalism to communism, as it was posed by the Italian Left in the aftermath of the defeat of the Russian revolution of 1917.

30 years of the ICC: Learning from the past to build the future

The ICC held its 16th Congress in the 30th year of its existence. In this article we therefore intend, as we did on the 10th and 20th anniversaries of the ICC, to draw up a balance sheet of our organisation's experience. This is not a sign of narcissism: communist organisations do not exist by or for themselves; they are instruments of the working class, to which their experience belongs. This article thus aims, as one might say, to return our organisation's mandate for its 30 years of existence to the class. And as always in returning a mandate, we must determine whether our organisation has been able to live up to the responsibilities that it took on when it was formed. We will therefore begin by asking what were the responsibilities of revolutionaries in the situation of 30 years ago, and how they have changed since then, as the situation itself has changed.

The International Conferences of the Communist Left (1976-80)

Twenty-five years ago, in May 1980, the cycle of international conferences of the communist left, initiated by the Internationalist Communist Party (PCInt, Battaglia Comunista) some four years earlier, ended in disarray and confusion. A brief glance at the sorry state of the proletarian political milieu today shows that we are still living with the consequences of this failure to create an organised framework for fraternal debate and political clarification among the groups of the left communist tradition.

In memory of comrade Mauro

We recently learned of the death after a long illness of Mauro Stefanini, one of the oldest and most dedicated militants of Battaglia Comunista, and himself the son of an old militant of the Italian left. We are publishing here extracts from the letter of solidarity which the ICC sent to the militants of the IBRP and from the letter of thanks written in reply by a militant of the IBRP in the name of his organisation.

Marxism and opportunism in the construction of the revolutionary organisation

Over the last monthsthe IBRPhas published articles in its press on the need for theregroupment between revolutionary forces with a view to theconstruction of the international communist party of the future.One of these, "Revolutionaries, internationalists in the faceof the perspective of war and the situation of the proletariat"is a document produced in the period following last year's war inKosovo:

How to deal with the Russian enigma?

We are publishing below a reply to one of our contacts, who wrote to defend what the comrade called "the councilist balance-sheet of the Russian revolution". There no longer exists - since the disappearance of the Dutch group Daad en Gedachte - any organised expression of the councilist current within the proletarian movement. The councilist position nonetheless continues to enjoy a strong influence within the present revolutionary movement.

The Russian Revolution and the Italian Left 1933-46

The "communist left" is to a very large extent the product of those sections of the world proletariat who posed the greatest threat to capitalism during the international revolutionary wave that followed the 1914-18 war: the Russian, the German, and the Italian. It was these "national" sections which made the most telling contribution to the enrichment of marxism in the context of the new epoch of capitalist decline inaugurated by the war. But those who rose the highest also fell the lowest. We saw in previous articles in this series how the left currents of the Bolshevik party, after their first heroic attempts to understand and to resist the onset of the Stalinist counter-revolution, were almost completely wiped out by the latter, leaving the left groupings outside Russia to carry on the work of analysing what had gone wrong with the revolution in Russia and of defining the nature of the regime which had usurped its name. Here again, the German and Italian fractions of the communist left played an absolutely key role, even if they were not unique (the previous article in this series, for example, looked at the emergence of a left communist current in France in the 1920s-30s, and its contribution to understanding the Russian question). But while the proletariat in both Italy and Germany had suffered important defeats, the proletariat in Germany - which had effectively held the fate of the world revolution in its hands in 1918-19 - had certainly been crushed more brutally and bloodily by the interlocking efforts of social democracy, Stalinism and Nazism. It was this tragic fact, together with certain vital theoretical and organisational weaknesses that went back to the revolutionary wave and even before, which contributed to a process of dissolution hardly less devastating than that which had befallen the communist movement in Russia.

Spain 1936 and the Friends of Durruti

Presentation

Anarchism today has the wind in its sails. Anarchist ideas, in the form both of the emergence and strengthening of anarcho-syndicalism, and of the appearance of numerous small libertarian groups, are getting off the ground in several countries (and are getting more and more attention from the capitalist media). This is perfectly explicable inperfectly explicable in the present historic period.

Problems of the period of transition

It is always with the greatest caution that revolutionaries have raised the question of the period of transition. The number, the complex­ity, and above all, the newness of the problems the proletariat must solve prevent any elabora­tion of detailed plans of the future society; any attempt to do so risks being turned into a strait-jacket which will stifle the revo­lutionary activity of the class. Marx, for example, always refused to give "recipes for the dishes of the future". Rosa Luxemburg insisted on the fact that with respect to the transi­tional society we only have "sign posts and those of an essentially negative character".

Understanding Kronstadt

Eighty years ago in March 1921, four years after the successful seizure of power by the working class in the October Revolution in Russia in 1917, the Bolshevik Party forcibly suppressed an insurrection at the Kronstadt garri­son of the Baltic Fleet on the small island of Kotlin in the Gulf of Finland 30 kilometres from Petrograd.

Correspondance between Bordiga and Trotsky

The letters from Bordiga and Trotsky: presentation

In International Review n°s 98 and 99 we dealt with the defeat of the German revolution as a sign of the defeat of the world revolution; we now return to this question through the debates and srough the debates and struggles that took place within the Communist International at the time. The German question and the defeat suffered by the workers’ movement in Germany in 1923 were key questions of the day for the international working class. The eclecticism and tactical oscillations of the CI produced a disaster in Germany. This put an end to the revolutionary wave of the 20s and prepared the ground for the defeats that followed: in China (a situation we have already examined in this Review) and in Britain (the Anglo-Russian Committee and the General Strike). In the end it led to the irrecoverable loss of the International when it adopted the thesis of ‘socialism in one country’ and to the crisis of the Communist Parties which were sucked into the counter-revolution and the second imperialist war.

2 - The theory of decadence at the heart of historical materialism, part ii

In the previous issue of the International Review (n°118), we recalled at length, and with the support of passages from their major writings, how Marx and Engels defined the notions of the ascendance and decadence of a mode of production. We saw that the notion of decadence lies at the very heart of historical materialism in the analysis of the succession of different modes of production. In a forthcoming article, we will also demonstrate that this concept was central to the political programmes of the 2nd and 3rd Internationals, and of the marxist left that emerged from them, in which the groups of the Communist Left today have their origins.

Unravelling the Russian enigma: 1926-36

Understanding the nature of the Stalinist system is a key aspect of the communist programme: without such an understanding, it would be impossible for communists to outline clearly what kind of society they are fighting for, to describe what socialism is and what it is not. But the clarity that communists have today about the nature of the USSR was not easily attained...

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