The conception of the party held by Cervetto and Lotta Comunista (part one)

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mhou
The conception of the party held by Cervetto and Lotta Comunista (part one)
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The discussion that follows was prompted by the article: The conception of the party held by Cervetto and Lotta Comunista (part one). The discussion was initiated by mhou.
Below is the discussion so far. Feel free to add your own comments!

mhou
Lotta Comunista and the Party

The series of articles on LC are very interesting. Cervetto's conception of the Party is spelled out in his 1964 "Class Struggles and the Revolutionary Party":

Quote:

However, what one may note immediately is that Lenin's conclusion is the perfect demonstration that as far as Marxism, the science, is concerned, economy and politics can't be separated either as a subject of analysis or as a reconstruction as scientific knowledge and therefore action - of the actual social reality. For this reason, Lenin reached, on the one hand, the same conclusion that Marx had reached with his study of the class struggles in France and Germany, and, on the other, made a fundamental contribution to this study that takes all into consideration of the material accumulated over the course of the class struggles during the development of capitalism in new areas (Russia).

Lenin provided us with an analysis on all economic and political levels that is both confirmation and development of Marx's conclusions. It confirms them because he demonstrates that only by assimilating and using Marx's scientific method (the abstraction of production relations) is it possible to produce a strictly scientific analysis of social phenomena. And it develops them because by applying this method Lenin validates the "theory's correctness and conformity to [Russian] reality." Lenin follows Capital’s entire logical pathway to reach the party; that is, he reaches the conclusion that seems voluntaristic to many and which, instead, is the most determinate element in all of Marxist science.

If we cannot understand Marxism's entire process of elaboration and action, we cannot see that the party is already in Marx, that it is somehow "typical" of Marxism. That is, the party is what we may define as an "abstraction," considering the whole socio-economic formation's level of development through its structures and superstructures in a given historical period. While the Leninist concept of the party is the confirmation, the recognition of its "recurrence" on the testing ground of class struggles, and the scientific continuity.

A similar erroneous view, however, is held by those who only see the continuity and typical character of the Marxist concept of the party. These people only see a formal "invariance" and don't recognize, on the contrary, that continuity, invariance, and the typical character of the Marxist concept of the party subsist in Lenin because they are criteria to evaluate the theory's correctness and conformity to reality.

Chapter 1, Cervetto

The ICC's part one of the article on LC and Cervetto asks the question 'why is the party only formed in Italy?'- Cervetto seems to seek continuity with Lenin and the Bolsheviks methods of forming the faction (1903) and party (1912) in one country, before being the vanguard of the next International in 1919; like the German party was for the Second International.

Isn't this one of the lessons of the Bolsheviks which is valid today; that the advanced sections of the communist minority move forward in organizing themselves to be in an advanced position when the class party is necessary? While the organization of the Party (democratic centralism, organic centralism) may be discussed and debated, we do mostly seem to be agree that the Party is necessary at a specific moment in generalized class struggle turned pre-revolutionary situation; is it voluntarism to begin forming the national sections, which may be in advance of other sections of the communist minority of the working-class in different regions/countries? Were the Bolsheviks being voluntarist by forming the RSDLP(b) as a separate party from the Mensheviks in 1912 and becoming the RCP(b) after October and before the formation of the Third International?

In certain circles this part of communist history is being revised by Lars T Lih in his book on What Is To Be Done?- some nominal/self-described communists are putting forward his version of events that the Bolsheviks did not form a separate party in 1912 from the Mensheviks, that there was no split in 1903, 1912, or any time until the revolutions of 1917. I have not read the book, but the number of people who have been defending this line is troubling.

Alf
forming the party

mhou, you are right in saying it's necessary that "the advanced sections of the communist minority move forward in organizing themselves to be in an advanced position when the class party is necessary?"

Easier said than done of course, but the next question, by referring to the example of the Russian party before the first world war or before the formation of the Third International seems not to take into account some important developments that have taken place since then.  So when you ask "is it voluntarism to begin forming the national sections, which may be in advance of other sections of the communist minority of the working-class in different regions/countries?", we have to remember that in the phase of the Third International's degeneration Bordiga argued that henceforward it would be necessary to see the party as by definition a world party (although subsequently, in 1943-45 the Italian left, declaring the 'Internationalist Communist Party' in Italy alone, lost sight of this acquisition).

This is certainly one of the main reasons why the ICC has always seen itself as an international organisation from the beginning. Not because we are the party but because the future party will be based on a prior experience of organising on an international level, not through a federation of autonomous groups, but as a centralised organisation.  

Of course, none of the existing communist groups in any one country are currently in a position to declare themselves as the 'communist party' of this or that country, at least not without falling into total delusion. So the key questions remain: what kind of communist organisation are we trying to construct today?  What is the best way to prepare the ground for the world party of tomorrow?

mhou
Thanks for the response

Thanks for the response Alf.

Quote:
Easier said than done of course, but the next question, by referring to the example of the Russian party before the first world war or before the formation of the Third International seems not to take into account some important developments that have taken place since then.  So when you ask "is it voluntarism to begin forming the national sections, which may be in advance of other sections of the communist minority of the working-class in different regions/countries?", we have to remember that in the phase of the Third International's degeneration Bordiga argued that henceforward it would be necessary to see the party as by definition a world party (although subsequently, in 1943-45 the Italian left, declaring the 'Internationalist Communist Party' in Italy alone, lost sight of this acquisition).

I think that's one of the stumbling blocks of this question- whether or not the change in material conditions (from the time of Bilan to the formation of the ICC, and from then to today) and the class struggle have met the kinds of preconditions for forming the Party that the Italian Left in Exile originally outlined.

The arguments back and forth between the ICC and the International Communist Party are similar to those in the above article (when it comes to forming the party).

The PCI's article mentioned in an old issue of IR ('The Powerful and Compact Party of Tomorrow', Programme Communiste #76; which was a pain to find a decent English translation) admonishes Revolution Internationale/ICC for carrying on the logic of the fraction at a time when the preconditions for forming the party, set by Bilan issue #1, had been met; and that continuing the work of a fraction instead of the party puts the breaks on organizational and theoretical development of communists (for the tasks of the future revolution).

https://sinistra.net/lib/upt/kompro/cipo/cipoffobid.html

https://en.internationalism.org/node/2647

Here's the part of the Programme article (rough translation; it's a German translation of the original French, run through Google Translate to English, so it is a bit difficult to follow at times):

Quote:
So the article "Towards the 2 3/4. International ...? "The number 1 in the magazine" Bilan ", the monthly theoretical organ of the Group, is published (11), basically because he criticized the Trotskyist voluntarism and dialectical words in strongly stressed the need to rebuild the party and the International to be based on a historical balance sheet, a task for which all left currents were not prepared. But then he puts on a second condition for the reconstruction of the party, namely the
"Outbreak of revolutionary movements," because that "would be the class relations that have existed as a result of the victory of opportunism", p knocked over, thus allowing the Group, "again to take over the leadership of the struggle in the direction of the uprising" (19 ). And further states:
"The left factions will be able to transform itself only in a party, if the differences between the degenerate party and the situation of the proletariat, the whole system of class relations that emerged from the victory of the centrist (ie, Stalinism) within the (communist) parties in question "(p. 21).
Such passages are now used as a base for the speculations of groups (such as "Révolution Internationale" (12)) are of the opinion that the party can form only in the future revolutionary wave. According to this group, any attempt to make the class party before the revolutionary wave that inevitably lead to opportunist degeneration of the organization. In perfect harmony with this fundamental view, this group has in the meantime with the complete revision of the founding of the Comintern theses: that lies its "balance" ...

If one wants to deal with the respective positions of the group, one must be between the misconceptions with regard to the events and the time for a renewed outbreak of the proletarian class struggle on the one hand and on the other hand distinguish the errors in the question of the party. The view according to which would cause the price of opportunistic yet formally disbanded (but in fact already dead) Comintern to a reaction within the Communist International, or even within the class in general, and that, consequently, the breach between the existing parties and the proletariat would take place, was, together with the expectation that the outbreak of revolutionary movements to coincide with the disaster of World War II, a pointedly optimistic miscalculation that you look at that explosive situation could hardly escape the way. The real mistake was the emergence of the party and the meeting of party and class together equate the process of formation of the party with that of the conquest of a decisive influence on the proletariat and even with the capture of the leadership of the proletariat in the struggle for power to be confused.

I think the example of groups like RI taking initiative in gathering like minded communists and communist groups into a centralized international organization [i]sounds like[/i] the kind of 'Party Work' the Bordigists admonished RI/ICC for in the 1970's for not doing- so it's a bit confusing.

If we accept that regional or national organizations will by nature of conditions and consciousness be in advance of even other communist groups elsewhere (and thus take the lead in setting out the path toward organizational and theoretical unity), it seems like the next question is:

Have the conditions for the formation of the next International (defined by the Italian Left in Exile) been met since that time (1930's-today)? This is a point that has stuck with me lately (which manifested in the long difficulties of struggle thread months ago here and there).

It looks like all 3 groups starting out from the idea that some local organizations of communists will be in advance of others, and must act first to be the 'vangaurd' of the communist organization (PCI, ICC, LC)- but the 3 part series on LC shows that they never made it out of the rut of being a national organization, so the big question for me is whether or not Bordiga and the PCI (and before them communists like Damen and the PCInt) were right that the preconditions for forming the party had been met after WWII.