The offensive the ruling class has launched against communism and against the dispersed revolutionary minorities which are around today is a question of life or death. The survival of a system that is prey to even more profound internal convulsions depends on the elimination of any possibility of a revolutionary movement maturing out of the revival of proletarian struggles - a movement consciously aimed at destroying this system and establishing a communist society. In order to attain this objective, the bourgeoisie has to discredit, isolate and thus politically, if not physically, annihilate the revolutionary vanguards which are so indispensable to the success of the proletariat's mission.
At this level, there have been in the last few months some important and significant advances made by different political formations. We will only cite two of them as examples, ones already mentioned in our press:
- the denunciation by all the main components of the proletarian milieu of the bourgeoisie's campaign of mystification against the International Communist Party's pamphlet Auschwitz or the Great Alibi, which is accused of denying the reality of the Nazi gas chambers, whereas in fact this pamphlet denounces both democracy and Nazism as two sides of the same coin;
- the common defence of the Russian revolution and its lessons in the public meeting held jointly by the Communist Workers Organisation and the ICC in November 1997.
Even if the groups who claim continuity with the work of Amadeo Bordiga, and whom we refer to as Bordigists, don't recognise the existence of a proletarian political milieu - though they do sometimes in an implicit way - they are an important part of it because of the tradition they come from. This part of the revolutionary camp, the major part up until the beginning of the 1980s, was hit in 1982 by an explosion unprecedented in the history of the workers' movement, giving rise to new Bordigist formations alongside the splits that already existed, all of them claiming to be the true heirs and most of them calling themselves the International Communist Party. This situation, the result of the fact that the various groups who came out of the explosion have never made a serious re-examination of the causes of the crisis of 1982, has represented an important weakness for the whole proletarian milieu.
In this article, we will not be entering into all the elements of a debate which promises to be rich and interesting, and which even includes a group outside the Bordigist milieu like the Partito Comunista Internazionalista (Battaglia Comunista) to the extent that such a debate goes back to the very formations of the party in 1943-5, i.e. before the 1952 split between the Bordigist wing and the group led by Onorato Damen which has kept the name of their publication Battaglia Comunista to this day. It is however important to point to certain elements which confer such value to this debate.
The first aspect is that the organisational question is at the heart of the discussion: if one reads the different articles of the groups involved, one can see how much this concern runs through them. Leaving aside for the moment the basic polemic between II Comunista, Le Proletaire and Programma Comunista, which to be honest we are not at this stage in a position to make any categorical statements about, the two groups, when they talk about what happened in the old Programme Communiste before 1982, both analyse a confrontation between an immediatist and voluntarist component on the one hand, and, on the other hand, a component more connected to the long term maturation of the class struggle. And both also show the central importance of the question of organisation: of a "partyist" type organisation against any "movementist" idea that the movement of the class is in itself sufficient for a successful revolution.
In its January 1997 issue, Programma Comunista refers to the necessity to understand the importance of patience, of not being immediatist, a general principle which we can but share.
The second aspect which gives value to this debate is the tendency to finally confront the question of the political roots of the crisis:
"We have to get down to work on the balance sheet of the crisis of the party, to draw up a balance sheet of all the questions which the last explosive crisis left unresolved: we will list them - the union question, the national question, the question of the party and its relations with other political regroupments as well as with the class, the question of the internal organisation of the party, the question of terrorism, the question of the revival of the class struggle and the immediate organisations of the proletariat ... the question of the course of imperialism" (Ibid.).
On this level, the group Le Proletaire-Il Comunista, in an article on the Kurdish question published in the French theoretical review Programme Communiste, devotes a long article to the critique of Programma Comunista (the Italian group) concerning an article the latter had written in 1994 which gives critical support to the PKK: "This fantasy recalls the illusions into which numerous comrades fell, including the international centre of the party, at the time of the invasion of Lebanon in 1982 and which led to the outbreak of the crisis which blew our organisation apart ... Programma thus manages to fall into the same error committed yesterday by the liquidators of our party, EI Oumami and Combat. Perhaps if it had agreed to draw a serious balance sheet of the crisis of the party and its causes, instead of taking flight into beliefs about always being right, Programma would have been able to make a real qualitative leap and overcome its theoretical, political and practical disorientation, to find the correct orientation so that such a misadventure would not have happened to it" (Programme Comuniste 95).
This polemic is particularly important because beyond the fact that it represents a clear position on national liberation struggles, it seems to have finally recognised that this question was at the basis of the explosion of Programme Communiste in 1982. This recognition augurs well for the future because as the nature of the debate shows, it will no longer be possible for Bordigism to begin again as if nothing had happened: the lessons of the past will have to be drawn. And this past can't be arbitrarily fixed at a given period.
We have already made allusion to the fact that, in the polemic, the different groups have gone all the way back to the constitution of the first organisation in the years 1943-45. Thus, Programme Communiste 94 raised the question as follows: "the reconstituted party ... did not remain immune from the influence of the positions of the anti-fascist Resistance and of a rebellious anti-Stalinism ... these weaknesses were to lead to the split of 1951-2, but this was a beneficial crisis, a crisis of political and theoretical maturation". We can find this kind of criticism of the party of the 1950s within the other branch of the split, i.e. Battaglia Comunista (see our article on the history of Battaglia in International Review 91).
In the same issue, Programme Communiste also makes a reference to the difficulties encountered by this group after May 1968:
"the negative effects of post-68 touched our party ... to the point of leading to its break-up ... The party was assaulted by positions which were a melange of workerism, guerrillarism, voluntarism, activism ... There was a widespread illusion that, after 1975, Bordiga's predicted date of a 'revolutionary crisis, the party would soon emerge from its isolation and acquire a certain influence ".
Programma Comunista goes further, and in a remarkable effort of reflection on its past difficulties, it goes back over the same period: "The more the party found itself facing political and practical problems that varied in their nature, their dimension and their urgency (such as the woman question, questions like housing, unemployment, the appearance of new organisations outside the big traditional unions or the problems raised by the weight of national factors in certain countries), the more there was a tendency to entrench oneself in a fixed declaration of principles, to stiffen ideologically".
This observation has to be welcomed: it is a sign of political and revolutionary vitality to try to find answers to new problems posed by the class struggle. This reflection on the past of the old International Communist Party, and notably on the organisation question, by comrades who have maintained an activity after the explosion of the early 80s, is very important for the communist left.
We won't take things any further in this article. We simply want to welcome and underline the importance of this debate developing in the Bordigist camp. In previous articles we have tried to analyse the origins of the political currents which constitute the present proletarian political milieu, by raising two fundamental questions - 'The Italian Fraction and the Communist Left of France' (IR 90) and 'The formation of the Partito Comunista Internazionalista' (IR 91). We are convinced that the whole political milieu must go into these historical questions and come out of the retreat imposed by the counter-revolution in the 1950s, the future of the construction of the class party, of the revolution itself, depends strongly on this.
 See for example 'Bourgeois attacks against the communist left: we support the response of the Parti Communiste Internationale (Le Proletaire) in World Revolution 200 and Internationalism 97.
 See 'Joint public meeting of the communist left: In defence of the October revolution', in WR 209, Internationalism 102 and in the CWO's own publication Revolutionary Perspectives 9.
 The main Bordigist formations which exist today and to whom we refer in this article are, with their publications: the International Communist Party which published Le Proletaire and Programme Communiste in France; and Il Comunista in Italy; the International Communist Party which publishes Programma Comunista in Italy, Cahiers Internationalistes in France and Internationalist Papers in English; the International Communist Party which publishes Il Partito Comunista in Italy and Communist Left in Britain.
 Programme Communiste 95 for example takes the defence of the communist left against the criticisms of our book The Italian Communist Left by a British Trotskyist journal Revolutionary History (vol. 5 no. 4).
 There is a pamphlet by Battaglia on the 1952 split and a more recent one called Among the shadows of Bordigism and its epigones which intervenes explicitly in the recent debate between Bordigist groups.
 Two of these groups which were to some extent representative of this component of the old Programme Communiste ended up in leftism - in Italy Combat and in France EI Oumami - and both have happily disappeared from the social and political scene.
 See the articles we devoted to the crisis of Programme Communiste in 1982 and which the ICC analysed as the expression of a more general crisis in the proletarian political milieu, in particular the articles in IRs 32-36.
 Programme Communiste 94 'In memory of a comrade of the old guard, Ricardo Salvador'.