I. “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.” (Marx & Engels, The Communist Manifesto, 1847)
II. The last fifty years have been ravaged by the counter-revolution which has systematically masked and falsified all theoretical expressions defending the historic interests of the proletariat. This veil of distortion has naturally kept buried all the central questions of marxism as the theory of the historic development of the working class. The question which is fundamental for revolutionaries (the nature of the movement which drives the class and party forward - the party being the organization of revolutionaries defending class positions) has been caricatured and perverted as much by the Leninist version as by the anti-Leninists - both of whom ignore the very essence of the class/party relationship, which is the development of consciousness.
III. The understanding of ‘how the working class becomes conscious of its historical task’ (how the proletariat constitutes itself as a united class) is the very heart of an understanding of the role of revolutionaries.
IV. For us, as marxists, the consciousness of the proletariat is the consciousness of what it is within the mode of production and therefore what it will be forced to carry out: the communist revolution. This consciousness of ‘what it is’ can only be achieved by itself, through its daily class struggle, through its praxis.
V. It is by virtue of its role as creator of new value in the capitalist process of production that the proletariat alone is able to have a collective (that is class) consciousness of its interests and its future. “It is not the consciousness of men that determines their being, but on the contrary, their social being determines their consciousness.” (Marx, Preface to the Critique of Political Economy, 1859)
VI. The process whereby consciousness develops in the working class - the passage from its being a class-in-itself to a class-for-itself - is necessarily a collective process because the working class carries out associated work in capitalist production which necessitates collective participation by the workers. The workers can only defend their interests collectively because they only have collective interests.
VII. The communist revolution, as distinct from all previous revolutions, can only be accomplished by a class highly conscious of its historic task, since the working class has no economic base in capitalist society to aid it in making its revolution. Its only weapons are its class consciousness and the organization it creates to realize its aims.
VIII. The constitution of the proletariat into a conscious and united class takes place at the conjuncture of a certain number of objective factors which act as catalysts. Among these factors economic pressure is indeed an indispensable, but still insufficient condition for the development of consciousness, The whole history of the workers’ movement has indicated that, while such economic pressure is necessary, it can only be really effective within the decadence of the system, that is in that period when the system can be materially destroyed.
IX. The intervention of revolutionaries (organized at first internationally as a fraction and later as a world party) has the role of diffusing the past experiences of the working class and of foreseeing future perspectives for the class struggle (based on the past experiences of the class and a socio-economic analysis). Because of this role, the intervention of revolutionaries is also an active factor in the impetus within the class towards the development of consciousness by and for the class, as well as in its generalization. (This is a necessary task as the consciousness of the class is never a homogeneous phenomenon.)
X. The communist fractions organize themselves on the basis of agreeing, both theoretically and practically, with the class positions (the communist programme), and they have the responsibility to the proletariat of organizing themselves in the same international, unified and centralized manner as the working class, in order to constitute a coherent revolutionary pole (fraction or international communist current).
XI. Once this revolutionary pole has been constituted, then it must be transformed into a world communist party. This transformation can certainly only take place in a period of mounting class struggle internationally and at a time when the international fraction has an effective influence within the working class.
XII. The party is a political expression secreted by the very experience of the class (the revolutionary theory defended by the party), which acts on the class by encouraging the unleashing and generalization of class consciousness, produced by and for the proletariat itself. There is, therefore, a dialectical relationship between the class and the party based on the fact that the party, produced by the class, becomes at the same time an active factor within the class.
XIII. The conception defended by Lenin in What is to be Done? (1902), asserts that the constitution of the proletariat as a unified class is not a product of the daily struggles of the class but is a product of a ‘socialist consciousness’ imported from outside the class. This theory creates an ideological split between being and consciousness; between the brutal, dirty being, the worker, and the ‘pure-as-the-driven-snow’ consciousness of the bourgeois intellectuals who deign to bring this consciousness to the masses. This dichotomy between matter and the idea which stands above matter, is an expression of an all pervasive idealism that claims that a higher idea pre-exists matter and that only a mediator (such as religion, philosophy, the Leninist Party, etc) can unite the idea and matter together.
The proletarian movement is basically a natural series of historic phenomena subject to laws which are not only independent of the will, of the consciousness and intentions of the proletariat, but which, on the contrary, determine the workers’ will, their consciousness and their intentions; “For me the movement of thought is only a reflection of the real movement, transported and transposed into man’s brain.” (Marx, Capital)
XIV. Similarly, the so-called ‘councilist’ conception, which adopts the opposite point of view to What is to be Done?, ends up with the same idealist deformation, but the other way round. For ‘councilism’ consciousness can only come from the class itself; any theoretical expression of the interests of the class by a revolutionary group cannot help but be a substitution for the real movement. And these individuals, guilt-ridden by Lenin’s errors, refuse to intervene at all, thereby denying that the revolutionary theory diffused within the working class is, as we have seen an active factor in the process of the development of consciousness. Refusing to carry out their responsibilities to the class, they accept the Leninist dichotomy between being and consciousness, but more sheepishly.
XV. “However, the effort of the class to develop its consciousness has existed at all times since its origins and will exist until its dissolution into communist society. This is why communist minorities have existed in every period as an expression of this constant effort.” (Platform of the ICC, International Review, no. 5)