The Immediate Programme of the Revolution?

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The Immediate Programme of the Revolution?
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  • Bordiga We refer to the text written by Amadeo Bordiga in 1953 and published in Sul Filo del Tempo, “The immediate programme of the revolution”

A listing of these demands looks like this:

  1. “De-investment of capital”: means of production are assigned a smaller proportion in relation to consumer goods.

  2. “Increase of production costs” - so that as long as wages, money and the market still exist - more remuneration is exchanged for less labour time.

  3. “Drastic reduction of labour time” - by at least half as unemployment and socially useless and damaging activities will shortly become things of the past.

  4. A reduction in the mass of what is produced through an “under-production plan” which is to say the concentration of production on what is necessary as well as an “authoritarian regulation of consumption” by which the promotion of useless, damaging and luxury consumption goods is combated and activities which propagate a reactionary mentality are violently prohibited.

  5. Rapid “dissolution of the boundaries of the enterprise” whereby decisions on production are not assigned to the workforce, but the new consumption plan determines what is to be produced.

  6. “Rapid abolition of social services” whereby the charity hand-outs characteristic of commodity production are replaced by a social (initial minimum) provision for those incapable of work.

  7. “Construction freeze” on the rings of housing and workplaces around major and small cities in order to spread the population more and more equally throughout the land area of the country. With a ban on unnecessary transportation, limitation of traffic and speed of transportation.

  8. “A decisive struggle against professional specialization” and the social division of labour though the removal of any possibility of making a career or obtaining a title.

  9. Immediate politically determined measures to put the schools, the press, all means of communication and information, as well as the entire spectrum of culture and entertainment under the control of the communist state.

I was very interested in this 'immediate programme' by Bordiga which appeared in a recent article by the ICC and by LTs comments on it in Breath and Light.  Particularly because after the series of meetings by the ICC and the CWO on the Russian and Germany revolutions and the formation of the International I had suggested the next topic logically should be the Period of Transition. Members of both organisations rejected this idea probably thinking I was simply meaning to dredge up the old discussions on the state and the argument about what is marxist/non marxist.  I am therefore putting up the same contribution on both ICC and CWO forums.

Its this idea of an immediate set of tasks that really takes my interest, primarily because of the discussion on Germany 1918 where nobody, not even the Spartacists, seemed to have an idea of what to do when the old state collapsed and the wc were able to take power. The consequence of this was that the left wing of the social democrats were left in charge and everyone became victim to its 'right wing'.

We are now 100 years on and the world is a very different place. In this period of quiescence by the working class, then should we not be discussing, dare I say it, ‘what is to be done’ in the event of a revolution.

Bordiga’s comments/proposals are relevant but now outdated even where they are right. So what I want to do is not offer a completed programme but maybe to provoke some ideas and discussion about ‘what is to be done’.

What are the practical issues in society that the wc will have to address in the early phase of power?

The general tasks worldwide

  • Working class organisation worldwide, regionally and locally – assemblies/councils but will commissions be used and if so how to be controlled or managed?

  • Role of the Party as advisory. Should it increase in size? Should its role be purely advisory? Will it be needed in full communism?

  • Drawing all of society into working class

  • Policing the middle and upper classes.

  • Redressing the environmental damage done by capitalism

  • Poverty and Famine across the world.

  • Migration (wont just go stop, in fact could get worse if the wc doesnt pay enough attention to the development of 3rd world)

  • Work and the age old discussion of labour time vouchers

Specific tasks of management and reorganisation regionally and locally (maybe an artificial distinction as these problems exist worldwide

  • Debt - at the top of the list as it is a major burden on the wc. Immediately write off all debts, household, business and national.

  • Housing – Empty houses, (of the wealthy and 2nd home owners), empty offices, armed forces locations, country houses, palaces must be taken over and used for something useful eg homeless, childcare, health care, education. Payments for rent and mortgages should be stopped immediately.

  • Private property – Industry should be managed by the workers and products provided to support social needs. Financial industries and finance that need expropriating. Family housing and personal possessions shouldn’t be at risk as that would be a fear for many.

  • Homelessness & Poverty - empty offices, religious buildings can be used temporarily to start providing support in terms of shelter food and clothing. Unused housing could be made ready to be used in medium term.

  • Harmful and Waste industries – need to be run down quickly and the resources converted to constructive use, probably social welfare resources.

  • Prisons – release everybody or select inmates for release dependant on crime. All political prisoners to be released? Use the prisons for those who fight back against workers’ power.

  • Food supply – Agriculture will need regional planning to maintain supply, distribution networks need to be maintained and workers in these industries need to be supported with tools and resources as well as personal subsistence.

  • Family – How will the nuclear family change? Initially widespread creches will be need to be provided for all if all men and women are expected to work at least part of the week. Local childcare workers may have a big role in family and educational support and will probably need expansion at least in early phases. In fact family support may be basis of new area of work long term. Again tools resources and personal subsistence is needed.

  • Education - 2 issues here are resources and subjects will need revision. A programme of indoctrination is not wanted, but initially some subjects can be dropped in favour of a programme of discussion, social review and above all practical social participation. Resources will have to be locally determined initially

  • Health Care – Again I think this starts with regional planning re social need. Pharmaceutical companies need redirecting into social care research and changing to non-profit structures asap. Health care ikely to need expansion of systems worldwide. Hospitals and doctors need resources and equipment and supply must be maintained.

  • Childcare and OAP care - Creches will be needed. Services by health visitors and social welfare workers will need to be maintained at least initially to help new systems develops.

  • State institutions. Some could be useful – scientific research, social services, health, education and will need support and restructuring rather than dismantling

  • Industrial planning – Im not convinced this can start at a global level. Regional needs vary and planning could be integrated eventually.

  • Maintaining services that the world needs eg energy, communications. Plan the complete conversion to renewable energies asap

  • Find ways to redress the degradation of the environment that capitalism has caused. This means changing our diet, returning land to the wild, increasing forestry esp rainforests. I suspect it now too late to allow cities to spread out as per Bordiga’s suggestion. Stop using plastics. We cant allow a system run by the wc to sustain pollution levels.

  • Plan to stop the increase in world population – perhaps same task as eliminating poverty?

  • gangs and crime - Would these waste away with the an improved supply of social needs

  • Drugs – Stopping production of illegal drugs may be easier in a world without money?

  • Religion – Ive been told religion is a personal matter that cant be eliminated immediately and hence religious buildings cannot just be expropriated. They could however be given responsibilities to perform socially necessary tasks such as food distribution, temporary accommodation

  • Transportation systems including car traffic. Id say transportation systems will be more of a priority in 3rd world countries.

  • Discrimination and Prejudice - current issues of racism, sexism, prejudice means this issues will be raised quickly and so a step by step strategy will be needed to compliment social changes being implemented.

Im sure this is not an exhaustive list but one thing that strikes me in writing it, is that worldwide (we’ll have to stop saying internationally) is that priorities will vary significantly and my list is probably euro-centric. Parts of Africa & Asia and South America will have very specific problems relating to their existing living conditions so superstructural projects and food supply to raise the level of social development will be a priority and may well draw resources away from more developed regions.

How can all this be made to happen? The party members will not be specialists but the workers and technicians and academics will have to be tasked with planning and redirection of systems.

 

Tagore2
I am amazed at Bordiga's

I am amazed at Bordiga's "immediate" program. In my opinion the immediate program consists in materially establishing the dictatorship of the proletariat in a very concrete way.

Constitution of the Red Army. All capable proletarians must be integrated into the Red Army under the leadership of a staff elected by the Soviet. Initially, this constitution will be very primitive: the army will first consist of Red Guards with elected commanders, spontaneous militias of workers' self-defenses, soldiers who have overthrown their officers. But gradually, all these armed units must be united in a single army commanded by the elected representatives of the Soviets. The revolutionary military committee of the soviet must order the seizure of all arms and all units held in whatever capacity, directly or indirectly, by the bourgeoisie, and in priority the arms of the bourgeois state, and in priority the heavy armament: nuclear missiles, nuclear submarines, nuclear aircraft carriers, nuclear fighter-bombers. Forgive me for stressing this point, but without nuclear weapons, we are flies that the bourgeoisie can atomize and which it will necessarily atomize if the revolution seriously threatens it.

Sends political commissars appointed by the Soviets to all administrations and all major enterprises to ensure their full submission to the Soviets, and, if they refuse, remove and replace the leaders. Organization, if not already done, of general assemblies in all enterprises and administrations in order to send their representatives to the soviets and to elect local committees which will participate at the enterprise direction, in association with the soviet. Progressive organization of the global economic plan through elected committees and Soviets.

Organization of prisons. There too, this is a subject that we cannot ignore: during the Petrograd uprising, the Bolsheviks did not foresee the prisoners, they released them all and many of them went to found or participated to the White Guards all over Soviet Russia. Providing for their imprisonment, under good sanitary conditions, will literally prevent millions of deaths, and greatly diminish the strength of the White Guards. At the same time, the prisoners must be treated well, not out of leniency, but because if we slaughter the prisoners, the White Guards will fight to the death. We must also separate war prisoners, who are destined for a more or less early release depending on the circumstances, from war criminals who must be tried. Here again, sorting and organization will be done gradually, according to the needs and interests of the proletariat.

In my opinion, the soviet or council must be the center of the organization at all scales, it must manage everything, and manage through the representatives, commissioners, technicians and directly through the masses themselves. You have to leave a lot of room for initiatives, and at the same time centralize all these initiatives in a single organization, in a process of continuous improvement, because at the beginning, the organization will be very primitive and very imperfect.

The points proposed by Bordiga sometimes seem odd to me, because their execution depends enormously on the circumstances created by the civil war. 1. and 2. are exactly the same. 3. is an essential goal, but the material destruction of the civil war is likely to make it necessary to increase working hours and reduce consumption, as happened during the Russian Civil War. 4. obviously. 5. OK. 6. OK. 7. it depends on the town planning. Better to leave this decision to the soviet, which will have other things to do anyway than to deal in depth with town planning. 8. Absolutely! Down with corporatism, down with the titles of professional nobility! 9. OK.

But we see that this program lacks all the military, police and prison questions, which are nevertheless fundamental in a revolution and a civil war, as well as a certain number of means of economic, political and organizational controls, such as the soviets, political commissars, committees, experts, etc.

Revolutionaries, be pragmatic!

--

Migration is good !!! Workers, come to the Red Army, come to the Red Industry, come in the soviets ! The world is your, go everywhere you want ; organize et take the world !

jk1921
How about a strategy for

How about a strategy for dealing with a respiratory virus pandemic? Do we have one or do we just say we will "listen to the scientists"? Essentially, the issue Link is raising is similar in a sense to the dissonance I have been experiencing over the intervention on the pandemic. These social problems simply won't just go away when the bourgeoisie is overthrown and even if the workers' power is not synonomous with the (semi)state in the period of transition, it still seems as if it will be necessary for it (and communists) to take both a political and a policy position on the pressing social issues that will continue into that period. The extent to which that can be informed by "expert opinion" seems unclear.

Tagore2
I do not see why you are

I do not see why you are bringing the subject of the epidemic back to the table when it is not the point. If you want my opinion again, I say that there is no major public health problem so no special strategy to adopt. I say that the Communists must lock up the panic-stricken at the bottom of the hold and never allow them to get back on deck, and especially not let them steer the boat. You can manage epidemics: you take the bravest and most competent people (they are often the same) and you give them the responsibilities of their specialty.

We are surrounded so much by fools and cowards and corrupt people that people don't realize it's not normal. The sabotage of the work of the world's best infectologists to promote remdesivir which is an ineffective and toxic product at 2000 € is a grotesque show, and if you do not realize it, excuse me, it's because you are part of the show.

Read the real experts, not the communicators, there is no doubt about the effectiveness of the Raoult protocol, and the € 1 billion purchase of remdesivir by the European Union just some days before the WHO declares it is ineffective is just another Panama scandal, like capitalism regularly produces.

Tagore2
How did we deal with the

How did we deal with the Asian flu in 1957 (1,1 million dead) and the Hong Kong flu in 1968 (1 million)? Society was less medically prepared, but socially stronger. Today, states around the world, with a few ready exceptions, have shown their weakness. And the Communists are so weak that they are unable to take advantage of it! No opposition to confinement, to the mask outdoors, to the suppression of the freedoms of movement, assembly, demonstration and prescription, and to the promotion for lucrative reasons of toxic and ineffective treatments! You twiddle your thumbs!

Since you are so weak and helpless during this crisis, it is no wonder that you doubt your ability to deal with this type of problem in a communist society!

jk1921
Tagore2 wrote:

Tagore2 wrote:

How did we deal with the Asian flu in 1957 (1,1 million dead) and the Hong Kong flu in 1968 (1 million)? Society was less medically prepared, but socially stronger. Today, states around the world, with a few ready exceptions, have shown their weakness. And the Communists are so weak that they are unable to take advantage of it! No opposition to confinement, to the mask outdoors, to the suppression of the freedoms of movement, assembly, demonstration and prescription, and to the promotion for lucrative reasons of toxic and ineffective treatments! You twiddle your thumbs!

Since you are so weak and helpless during this crisis, it is no wonder that you doubt your ability to deal with this type of problem in a communist society!

Your contrarian bravado is interesting at times Tagore; I agree that there is a contrast to be made with how society reacted to previous pandemics, but are you now making personal attacks? If this is directed at me then you haven't been paying much attention to the overall debate here on the pandemic, where I have often found myself on the wrong side of the dominant opinion. The point I am making is that these problems cannot be reduced to a scientific/medical question and that there is a responsibility for communists to formulate a political response, and that goes for many of the other social problems that will inevitably continue into the period of transition as raised by Link, like racism.

Racism will not just disappear the moment the bourgeoisie is overthrown. If the Marxist analysis of racism locates its origins in the social conditions of class society and argues that it will not disappear until the conditions that produce it wither away with the transition to communism; it is nonetheless the case that there will be political pressure to do something about it during the period of transition. And that political pressure won't just come from well-meaning people who mistakenly believe racism can be nulified by an act of the state, it will also come from reactionary petty-bourgeois elements who will use it to discredit the leadership of the working class. The thrust of anti-rascist activism today emanates from a professional class who use the language of "white supremacy" and "white privilege" as a way to advance their own class interests and there is no reason to believe that will magically stop when the bourgeois state in overthrown. Already, this language is used as a critique of "class essentialism."

So, to suggest that the issue of the pandemic can just be waved away in such a cavalier fashion as not a real problem is not particularly convincing. When people are dying, there is going to be a political demand to do something about it; and if during the period of transition, the proletariat takes your advice to basically ignore it, that will be capitalized on by opposing forces, who will undoubtedly politicize the issue: "The workers, under the advice of the communists to be brave, are letting people die!" (Is there not an odd echo of Trump there? "Don't be afraid of Covid!") Also, HCQ as the panacea for Covid is just another way of medicalizing the problem away by depoliticizing it and abdicating the resposibility for formulating an overall vision of what a good and just policy would be to the experts. Surely, even if it does work, its not so effective that it would make the virus entirely benign.

If you want to get away from the pandemic in this thread then fine, it is the issue of the day, and it would seem to me to pose a very concrete example of the dilemnas posed by the period of transition--society will need a direction given to it by the working class and it is the task of communists to help propose what it is.Y ou are right that the bourgeoisie does not have much leadership to offer right now: lockdowns (but to what end?); "herd immunity" (but what about the moral catastrophe of those hurt along the way there?); sit tight and wait for deliverance from medical technology (OK, but what if that doesn't work?). These seem to be the options offered to us by the ruling class. Do we have an alternative?

Tagore2
> but are you now making

> but are you now making personal attacks?

No, "you" refers to ICC, not you personally. I apologize because my wording was indeed confusing. I despair of seeing the Communists sink into cowardice as in 1914, supporting state measures because they are afraid. But you are not the only ones! Almost all Trotskyists support state measures with some reservations, either because they are too harsh or, on the contrary, because they are not harsh enough.

You could ignore the epidemiology in March, but if you still have not learned anything in October and you have contented yourself with repeating the government measures, adapting them to the “communist” sauce, then there is a problem.

For example, medically speaking, there is not a second wave, but a new epidemic, because the virus is a new variant, not the original strain. Are you aware that the original strain, coming from Wuhan, has disappeared in France, and probably in the world? See 9:34 and further of video, for the % of diverse variants as a function of time. Like the flu, the virus mutates and it is a new epidemic that we are dealing with today. Are we saying that there has been only one influenza epidemic in history, and that the annual outbreaks of contagion are a new wave of this single epidemic? No, we are saying there is a new epidemic.

-

As far as politic are concerned, capitalist society currently has enormous recruitment problems, due to the culmination of some of its contradictions.

  1. conflict of interest: almost all state experts have conflicts of interest with the pharmaceutical industry, with the consequence that they advise the government in the interest of these companies, and not in the interest of society as a whole, not even in the interests of the capitalist class as a whole. The state is too corrupt to take action in its own interest, in the same way that the Russian imperialists precipitated the collapse of the state by launching the great offensive of August 1917. At some point in the degeneration of the state capitalism, the state must be irrational, in the sense that it is socially, economically determined to be.
  2. slippers officials: the mandarins at the top of the state do not want to be held responsible for anything: they are not interested in the interest of the state, but for their own benefit and their own peace. Under these conditions they must "do something" to respond to the public, so that they cannot be accused of anything, and especially not "do nothing". These measures need not be useful, since their purpose is self-justification, if necessary with arbitrary and absurd measures, such as banning Breton beaches at night in autumn.
  3. incompetent officials: they have been placed there in times of peace but are not able to handle a crisis situation, and the capitalists find themselves with a bunch of incompetents to lead them, whom they cannot easily change precisely because of the crisis situation. They are forced to unite around their incompetent politicians and officials, because any rebellion in a crisis situation risks giving the signal for a revolt from the lower classes of society, that is to say from the proletariat. And this is much worse than any epidemic, any drop in GDP of 10% or more.

The capitalist state is caught up in many similar contradictions which prevent it from acting rationally, and which could even, if these contradictions are carried to the end, lead to a situation of revolutionary vulnerability of the state (as after the August 1917 offensive in Russia).

All these contradictions do not exist under the dictatorship of the proletariat, nor in communist society, nor even in a less developed capitalist state suffering from fewer contradictions (as in Africa or China). Is it a coincidence that it is the most advanced capitalist states that have managed the crisis the worst? All these contradictions and all these problems do not concern the workers state and even less the communist society.

During the Russian Civil War there were epidemics and famines. The state held on. The proletariat held on. Although the workers' state is also a contradictory state, these are not the same contradictions as the capitalist state, they are not the same problems. Recruitment is different, the hierarchical structure is different, the class origin is different, the mentality is different. This is why I say with so much confidence that the dictatorship of the proletariat would never have failed in the face of such an epidemic, would not have proposed such absurd and silly measures as confinement or the outdoors wearing of masks, although the dictatorship would have had other contradictions and other problems that do not exist in the capitalist state, such as a civil war to the death.

To develop, I would say that under the dictatorship of the proletariat, we have at the head of the state war dogs, determined and courageous people grappling with the worst calamities in history with cataclysmic reach: the civil war, famines and holocaust epidemics. They don't have the right to be irrational, they don't have the right to fail at the risk of taking down all of society with them. Moreover, there is no conflict between them and the oppressed classes, on the contrary, they are its emanation, head and direction; therefore they do not need to oppose the masses to stay in power, on the contrary. All the vicious and corrupt officials are hunted down and imprisoned, there is a great purification of skills and only the smartest, most capable and brave men remain.

The working-class state in motion, especially at the top of the state, is pure, as pure as a state can be. It is after the revolution that it can degenerate, if it has failed to resolve the contradictions of humanity. The workers state in revolution is flexible, mobile, changeable, adaptive, it can make mistakes but it corrects them soon because it is in the direction of history. On the contrary, the capitalist state accumulates error after error because it goes against history, against logic, because it succumbs to its contradictions, and we get rid of it in order to found a rational society, by means of a state which, if it is not free from contradictions, all the same has much less.

Revolutionarily removing conflicts of interest and apparatchiks, incompetent civil servants, that already makes you one hell of a selection within the state! During the dissolution of the workers' state, the communist society recruits its executives and specialists in the same way, with the difference that there is a great circulation of personnel between the tasks of execution and of command (termination of the social division of work). But we do not want the recruitment to be lower quality than that of the workers' state! Certain recruiting principles are retained, such as composure, absence of taking interest and competence. By removing the contradictions which are peculiar to a degenerating capitalist society, you are also removing the problems which are peculiar to it.