These programmatical theses constitute a document on which our group has been working for many years, even before the “official” birth of ICG in June 1979. They represent a synthesis of work on a permanent level of international discussion, criticism, increasing depth and elaboration, realised historically by revolutionary militants. It is this activity which permits an ever more precise delimitation of the programmatical theses of our movement, communism.1
On this question, as on all others, we totally and simultaneously reject the ideology of formal invariance (the orthodoxy of form) as well as that of all kinds of revisionist innovators (the heterodoxy of content). As our theses indicate, we oppose them with a constantly deepening and ever more precise determination of the programmatical implications invariably contained in the communist struggle.
This is why these theses are neither the umpteenth version of some sacred text nor a conglomeration of ideas susceptible to being changed, in total or in part, according to the will of some or other militants (even if in the majority). They are rather an expression, a “snapshot” of a moment of permanent collective activity of programmatical restoration, of which there were formulations in the past and certainly will be in the future, but which are all present on the historical line seeking to express theoretically the communist practice of rupture from the whole capitalist society.
As far as this eminently practical theoretical activity is concerned, the work of communist factions is always the same: To perceive and express, against all ideologies, what in the immediate reality announces the historical future, what within and against capitalism constitutes its negation and announces communism, to synthesize the experience accumulated in the development of revolution and counterrevolution. It is concerned with an indispensable part of communist action, not only in the sense that communist factions constitute a part of and a coherent organic expression of the movement of destruction of the present society, but also because it is through them that the proletariat condenses its experiences and transforms them into directives for future action or, better said, COMMUNISM THUS ENGENDERS ITS HISTORICAL DIRECTION.2
So for us the problem is neither to invent “new theories” (which always implies repeating the same old crap in a new form) nor to discover new “historical subjects”, nor to promote “new practices”. On the contrary, we have to continue to demonstrate the invariable consequences of the contradiction between capitalism and communism, present ever since Capital conquered production and subsumed the whole of humanity in its being.
The advantage of such a document is that it allows us to set out in a very synthesized and global manner the whole of the fundamental positions that direct our activity and it can serve as an explicit reference of the programmatical framework within which our militancy develops. At the same time this kind of text has the disadvantage of being easily considered by fetishists of form as being an A to Z of revolutionary theory, who consider that, once formulated, it would be able to solve all the problems with which the communist movement will be confronted, however embryonic and dispersed it may be today. On our part, we consider these theses to be an acquired base, the result of several years of militant activity and which will serve to direct and demarcate our future militancy.
The theses of communists are not and never have been “theorizations” about how the world should be reformed, inventions or ideological nonsense. On the contrary, they are the theoretical expression of the real movement of abolition of the existing order. As such, they synthesize the real and practical determinations of the proletariat in its subversive movement, forming at the same time a decisive and indispensable part in the practice of this movement in its struggle to give itself a revolutionary direction and to constitute itself as a worldwide historical force.
Throughout the centuries-old history of the Communist Party, the theses of communists have been asserted, developed themselves and become more and more precise along with the very development of the revolutionary movement (including the lessons learnt from its successive defeats). However, this does not mean that the successive formulations of these theses can be left to be freely interpreted nor that they lend themselves to any of many boasting innovations. As theoretical expressions of the invariant antagonism between capitalism and communism, these successive formulations are necessarily imperfect and unfinished. We can assert that all formal manifestos produced throughout the history of the party and up to the total victory of communist revolution contain and will continue to contain various erroneous positions or even positions alien to the interests of the proletariat. Nevertheless, each one of these successive formulations, insofar as they are real concretisations of the communist direction of the movement, reaffirms – on a different level of abstraction – the invariant foundations of this movement. This is why each generation of revolutionaries does not start again from scratch but, on the contrary, its practical activity is directed by invariant foundations that must not be revised, but must be developed and pushed forward to their ultimate consequences.
In opposition to this revolutionary activity, counter-revolution, especially social-democracy as the general party of formal pseudo-continuity and real programmatical revision, does exactly the opposite. Even when it claims it is the heir to proletarian leaders from the past, it uses only isolated quotes, taken out of context in the name of formal orthodoxy, yet always attacks the very foundations of the invariant antagonism. The whole revisionist production is based on a general reinterpretation of capitalism, on a supposed change in the nature of capitalism and consequently of the proletarian struggle in order to define its invariant counter-revolutionary programme.
It seems indispensable here to give an example of what we’ve just stated which will clarify the reading and general meaning of our theses.
“THE PROLETARIAT HAS NO HOMELAND” is a central and invariant thesis of our party all along its history. It contains and determines a whole series of fundamental practical orientations. But what is the origin of this assertion and what are its implications? Contrary to what bourgeois Marxism pretends, this decisive thesis is not the invention of some brilliant theoretician, but expresses the reality, the very life of the proletariat.
In this way, in the first Manifesto of the Communist Party (deserving of this name, in the full sense of the word) Marx and Engels formulated a reality that up until then, in different forms, had been part of this ABC of the communist movement and which all subsequent formulations of the Programme have taken up since.
But the reality of the proletariat having no homeland is not a contingent reality, nor a reality that can be given dates of a beginning or an end, nor should it be confused with its first theoretical formulation. It is, on the contrary, an essential and permanent reality of the proletariat as an historical being, determining it in opposition to the whole bourgeois system. As the negation of this bourgeois society, it contains decisive definitions of the society to come (the abolition of all nationality, of all borders, etc.).
Put differently, before Marx and Engels ever formulated it, this invariant reality of the communist movement in opposition to any country was already a reality: the proletariat never had and never will have a homeland. Its own existence contains the abolition of all nationality .3
So we shouldn’t be surprised that other more or less clear expressions of this central aspect of the communist programme have also been formulated in other parts of the world, before or after this Manifesto, by other communist militants who didn’t even know about Marx or Engels – because they are merely expressions of the life and practice of our class.
The theoretical assertion of this extremely explicit thesis in the Manifesto, marks a decisive and irreversible forward step of the party itself. It became an essential basis for all subsequent formulations from which there is no going back and it constituted itself as a war cry for the proletariat in struggle.
This is not the place to detail the progression that led militants like Marx and Engels to formulate this thesis. But it is important to stress that this thesis is not only a negation in its form, but also in its content, inasmuch as the real movement of the proletariat is the negation of the homeland – essential in order to understand the methodology of the theses that we are presenting below.
The general method of the exposition – the opposition communism/capitalism and, during capitalism, communism as its practical negation – is founded on the fact that all positive programmatical determinations are contained negatively within Capital itself (including counter-revolutionary experiences). Better said, under the reign of capitalism, communism, as the revolutionary movement, is this negation.
It is not possible to go through all the theses that are indissociably linked to the central assertion that “the proletariat has no homeland”, nor can we mention all the conclusions and implications that Marx and Engels deduced from it. However, we want to stress that it is based on a certain level of perception of Capital as a worldwide reality, of communism as a universal movement and of internationalism as a decisive element in the practice of the proletariat. Without these invariant bases, the cry of “Proletarians of all countries, unite”, as well as the directly internationalist conception of the party and of the programme (the Manifesto itself does not have a homeland!!!) would have been no more than empty phrases. What is decisive in the historical line of the party is the continuity from generation to generation of revolutionaries, which is not about inventing or revising anything but developing in their own revolutionary practice the determinations contained within the real subversive existing movement.
Revisionism does exactly the opposite. It may or may not use quotations from Marx or Engels or any other revolutionary leader, but its invariant characteristic will always be to question the very foundations of the practical determinations of the proletariat. For this purpose, it will always, absolutely always, start by saying that the society has changed, that capitalism is not the same as before, that the workers’ struggle has changed as well… and then it ends up defending anything, even the homeland. On this question, let’s look at what Bernstein wrote:
“But has social democracy, as the party of the working class and peace, an interest in keeping the proletariat defensive of the nation? There are various reasons which would push one towards a negative response, above all if one takes as the starting point the assertion of the Communist Manifesto: The proletariat has no homeland. Yet this assertion may be a lot more valid for the workers in the forties 4 who lacked political rights and access to public life; but currently it has already lost a great deal of its veracity… and will continue to lose it more and more as the worker ceases to be a proletarian and is transformed into a citizen.
The worker who, in the state, in the municipalities… is an elector having the same rights and participating for the common good of the nation; the worker whose children are educated and whose health is protected by the community, in the same way that it guarantees him security against misfortunes… this worker will before long have a fatherland by the very fact of being a citizen of the world; in the same way that nations become closer together without losing their own individuality…
Currently there is a lot of talk about the conquest of political power by social democracy and in any case, judging by the strength which it has achieved in Germany, it is not impossible that a series of political events could lead it in a short period of time to assume a decisive role in this country. But precisely because of such an eventuality and taking into account the distance which separates the neighbouring peoples from this objective, social democracy must assume a national character…
This is an indispensable condition for maintaining its power. It must prove its aptitude as the ruling party and a ruling class, in being up to the task of safeguarding, with the same firmness, class interests and the interests of the nation.” - Bernstein, The Premises of Socialism and the Tasks of Social Democracy, Ch. IV, Texts and Possibilities of Social Democracy.
There is no need for us to stress any further the very clear political consequences of such a methodology of revision. However, in general, things are far more complicated. Indeed, Marx and Engels themselves did not draw all the inferences from this essential thesis of the communist programme, in the same way, for example, that the generation of revolutionaries of 1917 did not manage to assume the implications of other central theses of the programme, such as “destruction of the bourgeois state” or “abolition of wage labour”, etc. On the basis of an un-finished reappropriation of this reality of the proletariat “that has no homeland”, Marx and Engels oscillated between different positions on the national question, defended some totally contradictory positions, many times directly antagonistic to proletarian internationalism. The ambiguities of Marx and Engels on social-democracy (the very basis of the constitution of which was antagonistic to this thesis, i.e. national parties for the defence of democracy!!!) were also related to this only partial programmatical reappropriation; and so was the fact that Engels completely revised this central thesis to demand German national defence and participation in imperialist war. Indeed, between the thesis that asserts that “the proletariat has no homeland” with its immediate consequences (internationalism, directly international organisation of the proletariat, opposition to the nationalism of one’s “own” bourgeoisie, consequences which all arise from the very life of the proletariat fighting against its direct exploiters and thus develop an internationalist practice) and Engels’ nationalist, bourgeois, imperialist position of 1891, when the outbreak of war between the German state and the Russian and French states appeared imminent, there lies an abyss, a very profound programmatical rupture, a complete revision.
Remember that Engels stated that if Germany were attacked “all means of defence would be good; we would have to launch attacks on the Russians and their allies, whoever they may be” and he even suggested that in those circumstances “we might perhaps be the sole truly warmongering and determined party”! 5 As is well-known, this is exactly the pro-imperialist position that social-democracy went on to develop.
This example allows us to show clearly why counter-revolution and revisionism could, and still can, in many cases, play at orthodoxy (the general practice of the “Marxist” wing of social-democracy whose great ideologue was Kautsky) either because Marx and Engels themselves developed the implications of this thesis only halfway, or because Engels himself revised this thesis completely, under the pretext – as always – of particular conditions of capitalism at that moment.
To this, we oppose the historical attitude of communists. For us, it is not a matter of modifying this central thesis, nor putting it on the same level as a whole of contingent and confused sentences that go along with it (like stating that the struggle of the proletariat will be international only in its contents but not in its form.6 Neither do we want to follow Marx or Engels throughout their full or partial renunciations. Without doubt, the issue must be to develop all the consequences of this thesis. However, such a development is neither ideological nor invented. It is not a question of sitting at a desk and trying to invent further clarifications. No, for us it was struggle itself, the gigantic opposition between revolution and counter-revolution that clearly marked the frontier between participation in the wars of national liberation or any other imperialist wars on the one hand and revolutionary defeatism on the other; this permitted a theoretical and everlasting understanding of the other implications that Marx and Engels had not yet assumed. Since then, revolutionary defeatism and internationalism have constituted a truly appropriated basis, a fundamental starting-point for successive generations of revolutionaries. It is in this manner, through successive programmatical reappropriation, that the whole of the theses of communism develop and assert themselves!
This permits a clarification of the real contradiction between the invariant programme and the constantly developing theoretical theses of communists. It is this contradiction that all formalists (who defend the invariance of the theoretical programme of Marx and Engels), all revisionists and all “innovators” come up against.
The proletariat does not have a homeland and never did have one. In reality, the proletariat acts as such only when it is struggling against exploitation, against “its” own bourgeois and against “its” own state. Such practice is part of the true community of international and internationalist struggle that the communist vanguard struggles to centralise effectively: this is and always has been a central axis of communism.
Marx did not invent the communist programme: he only expressed a level of its appropriation. In the beginning of the century and all over the world, the communist left did not invent anything either during its fight against imperialist war, but synthesized, by means of theses, central slogans and precise directives, the reality of the communist movement.
Our task is exactly the same. These theses 7 reflect one further step in the collective, impersonal, international effort of the communist programme asserting itself generation after generation.
Consequently these theses, that guide and will guide the conscious and organised activity of our small group, are not our property (we do not claim their paternity). They are a synthetic expression of the sum of experiences of our class and of our party throughout history and, as such, belong to them only.
Different texts have been published in our central and agitative reviews (in Spanish, French, English, Arabic, Portuguese, German, Turkish, Hungarian, Kurdish…) that develop and explain these theses and constitute the basis of the process of their historical appropriation, which is why we’ve published a summary of the main texts that have been published in French and Spanish so far, as an annexe to these theses. It is important to note that if, on some subjects, the texts are elaborated in far greater depth than the few lines on that subject in the relevant thesis this is because, for a large number of them, the task remains embryonic and an enormous amount remains to be done (this revolutionary task can only be completely achieved by the very realisation of social revolution). These theses are not some mythical point of arrival but are working theses, a synthesis of our practice on the basis of which we continue our activities. We leave the belief that any text could guarantee against deviations, betrayals, splits, etc to political paranoiacs. The only guarantee that we have comes from the globality of our implication, resides in our adhesion not to a group, to a party or to a leader, but to communism, to the real movement of abolition of everything that separates us from ourselves. But, dialectically, this movement only exists when it centralises itself, organises itself, directs itself, i.e. when it constitutes itself as party.
The organisation, preparation, structuring and leadership of this party is the impersonal production of factions, groups, militants who have forever assumed the task of the international formation of revolutionary cadres and of the preparation of the worldwide leadership of the communist revolution.
Our central preoccupation, since the formation of the ICG, has been and is to assume, according to our limited forces and the present state of the communist movement, all the tasks and necessities of the movement. What characterizes communists practically is not their assuming one or other task according to the period, as the only one that can be realised (tasks which for some may be “theoretical”, for others “propagandist” and for others “military”). If this were the case, then communists would differentiate themselves from the rest of the proletariat by entirely partial determinations, taking on a number of minor tasks compared to the rest of the proletarian movement.
On the contrary, the essence of revolutionary praxis is to assume all tasks and necessities of the movement whilst, of course, taking into account the balance of forces and the priorities that it determines. All these tasks must be assumed while always putting forward the historical and worldwide interests of the movement; these determine themselves not in relation to immediate or contingent situations, but always in relation to the totality, to communism. This and only this, is the historical line of the reconstitution of the PARTY.
If the written expressions of life and of the struggle have always been criticised by militants (a logical expression of the dynamics of life regarding things that are set in writing and thus fixed), we must also remember that language itself is a veil produced by the domination of Capital, through which it is extremely difficult to communicate any content escaping this domination: the same contradiction is ever-present when we express a movement through language that only allows for set categories. Similarly, a concept may express a different content in different languages, according to different realities lived by the proletariat.
To fill these gaps and to lessen the burden of these weaknesses which we know are unavoidable, we have tried to work on these theses in four different languages so as to unify the expressions of the reality we want to transmit. The result of this is a rather “impure” and “heavy” language. On top of this, the content of concepts that have been historically and socially defined does not have the same meaning for us as for the citizen, not even the most politicised amongst them. This is the case, for instance, for expressions like “party”, “proletariat”, “class”, “democracy”, “Capital”; on these points it is necessary to take the contributions that we’ve produced on these various subjects as a reference.
The translation of our main contributions into different languages, reflects this effort for centralisation and homogenization in our central reviews. To stress this tendency towards homogenization, and because we feel it is more appropriate, we’ve decided to call all our central reviews “Communism” (our French central review used to be called “The Communist”). With respect to continuity between our publications the following statement by Bordiga in 1953 is clear enough:
“To follow the continuity of our contributions, our readers should not feel bothered by the changes of the titles of our reviews, changes that occur because of different episodes of minor events. Our contributions can easily be recognised through their indivisible organicity. It is typical of the bourgeois to put a label on each commodity produced, to put the name of an intellectual on each idea, to define each party through its leader… but on the proletarian side it is clear that when the mode of exposition examines the objective relationship of reality, this can never be reduced to the personal opinions of stupid competitors, to the praise or insults for heavyweights or featherweights. In this case, the judgment is not defined by contents but by the good or bad faith of the person who’s pleading. Our task is hard and difficult but it will only achieve its aims while respecting its own nature and without using the artifices of bourgeois publicity techniques, without using the dirty tendency to worship men.” - (“Fil du Temps” - 1953)
This is why our “Programmatical Theses” are not some “platform” in the reduced, conformist and showy sense in which various sects define themselves as the centre of the earth. The communist programme is not a biblical text guaranteeing against all possible deviations, a tablet of stone to cling to in order to safeguard virginal purity. In this way the term platform has been mystified with the intention of making it pass for a synonym of communist programme (as if it were possible to reduce the communist programme to any text, whichever it was!). Counter-revolution claims such a platform will be a formal guarantee for the future. Moreover, pretension of pretensions, it also claims that it contains the answers to all questions raised by proletarian struggles. It was against such fetishism of “platforms”, of “programmes”, that Marx asserted, more than a century ago, that one forward step of the real movement was worth more than a dozen programmes.
To all fetishists of platforms and of ideal parties, to all militants of formalistic invariance who believe they will not deviate an inch because they trot out a platform or recite phrases by some or other proletarian leader, we can easily recall their readiness to adopt new phrases, new platforms, a new group, new practices and to insult their former comrades… Finally, to all those who hide their miserable individualism, their sectarianism and federalism behind fine words on the ideal “party” or the perfection of “revolutionary cadres”, basing themselves on quotations of the leaders of the past, we counter them with something we wrote some time ago in our central French review (Intro, “Le Communiste” No. 6):
“For us communists, what really matters is not some or other quotation from Marx, Lenin or Bordiga, nor some or other position taken up at a certain moment. What really matters is to grasp the invariant content, beyond its more or less clear expressions, to grasp the red thread linking the communist practice of always, to be on the side of the proletarian struggle against all capitalist barriers. Beyond the understanding at a particular moment, beyond formal expressions, beyond consciousness expressed by proletarian banners or texts the real immediate struggle of the working class against exploitation, has always been – yesterday, today and tomorrow – anti-frontist, antidemocratic, anti-national.”
Our enemy, the capitalist social relationship personified by the bourgeois class, has always been the same. Our necessities and demands will also always be the same: the struggle against exploitation, against the intensity and extension of labour… Our methods of struggle, direct action (revolutionary violence and terrorism), organisation outside and against all structures of the bourgeois state, armed insurrection, the worldwide dictatorship of the proletariat for the abolition of wage labour… have always been the same. It is to this real invariance, to this real organic continuity between the communist factions of yesterday and today, that we want to contribute by means of these programmatical theses.
– Internationalist Communist Group, 1989
1: The huge problems facing humanity today – exploitation, misery, war, famine, alienated and estranged labour, mass unemployment, … – are inherent to, and the necessary products of, capitalist progress and barbarity. They can only be properly confronted (and understood) if, instead of being seen in isolation, they are tackled in the context of their driving force – the capitalist system, history’s last class society, in other words, a transitory society which is at the same time a moment of an historical arch spanning from primitive communities to communism, and a moment of the process of creating the material conditions for the institution of worldwide communist society. Communism will not mean the end of human history. Communism, the formation of a universal community of human beings will, on the contrary, signal the genesis of truly human history, resulting from the abolition of private property, social classes, the state, etc.
2: The primitive community was destroyed by its own limits. Human beings, in producing the conditions for their own survival (expanded reproduction), developed their needs and exploded the narrow framework of this limited community. Exchange between communities (communities ended where exchange of commodities began) gradually subsumed and revolutionised their internal reality, thus bringing about the split between the use of objects for immediate needs – use value – and their use as objects by way of which others can be procured through exchange – the basis of exchange value. This brought about the historical dissolution of these communities and the beginning of the cycle of value.
3: If we consider the immediate result of this process, the world seems to have been divided into innumerable different societies, each one with a different mode of immediate production: proslavery, Germanic, Asiatic, etc. If, however, we consider the process from the point of view of its higher outcome: the development of money up to its transformation into world capital – a necessary condition for the institution of communism – the existence of itinerant trade and usurious capitalism can be found very early on in the ancient world (pre-capitalist in the strictest sense of the word, that is pre-existing capitalism), their expansion already containing all the antecedents of world capitalism as well as the subsumption of all immediate modes of preexisting production.
4: In all pre-capitalist social formations, despite the limited character of political, national and religious, … etc. determinations, man always saw himself as the aim of production: exchange was no more than a means to an end. In generalized commodity production, in opposition to all pre-capitalist societies, self-enrichment became the supreme goal and money the be all and end all. Its accumulation became the determining factor above all others (money as a means of exchange, circulation…) and thus, as a result of a vast process, money imposed itself as the only being human beings have in common, as the only community that unifies them. The development of exchange compelled Capital to conquer production, making production man’s aim and self-enrichment the objective of production.
5: This historic process of the transformation of money into capital is a process of concentration and international centralisation of capital and, at the same time, a process of separating the producer from his objective conditions of production (the creation of the free worker by way of state terrorism). Put another way, it is a process of violent expropriation of all producers who, deprived of the means of life, are forced to become wage slaves. By globally subsuming all previous modes of production and developing the material conditions for its own destruction, capitalism became a system which is no more than a mere transitional form towards a classless society for all humanity, that is the last phase of the cycle of class societies. It is in this sense that its destruction will mark the end of the prehistory of humanity.
6: Capitalism is differentiated from all previous modes of production by its universal essence – a condition for the unification of the whole of humanity – and also by the simplification/exacerbation of class contradiction: society is divided into two great enemy camps, two classes in direct confrontation, the bourgeoisie and the proletariat.
Through its development, capitalism creates the conditions for its own suppression, not only by creating the arms which will wipe it off the planet, but also and above all, by producing and concentrating those who will take up the arms: the proletariat.
7: The proletariat is the inheritor of all previous exploited classes because its conditions of survival bring the inhumanity of the living conditions of all past exploited classes to crisis point and because all the most profound objectives of their previous struggles are concentrated within it. Nevertheless, the proletariat is distinguished from the exploited classes of the past in that those classes did not have a social project of their own and it was materially impossible for their struggles to go beyond the framework of simple reactions attempting to reconstitute the lost old community in an a-historical and utopian way.
With the proletariat, the age-old struggle against exploitation, dehumanisation and the subordination of human life to the dictatorship of value, is assumed for the first time in history by a revolutionary subject, that is to say a subject with its own social project, valid for the whole of humanity and in complete rupture with the civilisation brought by progress: the destruction of capital (and by this, classes), exploitation, private property, all states… and thus the bringing about of communism.
This struggle is therefore not only the reaction of an exploited class, but also and above all, the action of a revolutionary class historically forced to assume its programme and to constitute itself into the worldwide communist party (the overturning of praxis in the most global sense of this concept).
8: Classes do not exist initially “in themselves” (as themselves, defined by production or by the economy) and subsequently “in struggle” (involved in politics). They only exist as opposed and antagonistic organic forces. They therefore define themselves in practice by their movement of opposition and struggle inherent in the relations of “production” and in the antagonistic interests which they imply. Not “production” in the immediate sense of referring exclusively to the production of things, but in the global sense, as the reproduction of the species, reproduction of exploitation, reproduction of two irreconcilable camps: exploited and exploiters, the reproduction of private property and an ever-growing mass of beings deprived by the property of others, deprived of all necessary means of ensuring their conditions of life… and, finally, the ever more intense reproduction of the antagonism between property owners (defenders of the world of private property) and those whose very existence opposes itself to them in the totality of their practical life in this world.
Therefore proletariat and bourgeoisie are defined by their mutual antagonism: the bourgeoisie as the personification of the capitalist relations of production, as the party of conservation, as a reactionary force; the proletariat as the negation of the whole of present society, as the party of destruction, bearer of communism.
9: The contradiction particular to bourgeois society is present at the very heart of Capital, which has subsumed the whole of humanity. Capital can only realise its own essence – as value which valorises itself – by developing and revolutionising the productive forces. This has the consequence of reducing the socially necessary labour time for the production of all commodities or, to put it another way, this produces a general devalorisation of all products, of labour power and of all productive capital. That is to say that both the starting point and the goal of production - the self-valorisation of capital – enters into an insurmountable contradiction with the very means which it has put into action: revolutionising productive forces = devalorisation. This appears in every crisis with the massive destruction of productive forces which makes the invariably reactionary character of the capitalist relations of production evident and causes the contradiction with the productive forces to explode – contradiction that only the revolutionary proletariat can push to its ultimate consequences.
10: Capital is just as incapable of abolishing economic anarchy (its own law!) as it is of abolishing the proletariat (bearer of communism!), the sole producer of value, value without which capital cannot exist. Capital tries to increase the valorisation of particular capitals but only realises itself by slowing down the rhythm of valorisation in general, which translates into increasingly powerful phases of expansion, inescapably concluded by crises, each one deeper and more brutal than the last, challenging the very existence of the whole capitalist social system economically, socially, ideologically and politically.
11: Democracy was born of the dissolution of the primitive community, the development of exchange, the commodity, private property, class society, the historic creation of the individual, of the separation of human beings from themselves in the production of their lives. Its development is the development of the dictatorship of value over human need, the development of state terrorism against the exploited classes. With the total domination of value valorising itself and the total domination of the fetishistic character of the commodity – capitalist terrorism – democracy reaches its peak. This does not concern a particular sphere or a simple form of domination, but rather the invariant essence which perpetuates capital’s society – by atomising and unifying on a fictive basis. By subsuming all aspects of life, democracy practically denies the existence of classes with irreparably antagonistic interests in order to affirm the only community which belongs to it: the community of money. This reproduces the free individual-citizen, national competing-being, whose corollary is the people – all within the framework of the structures of parties and unions which make up the state.
12: Democratic rights and liberties are nothing else but the juridical codification of capitalist social relationships. They relate men as buyers and sellers of commodities and particularly as the buyers and sellers of the labour-force commodity. This codification is thus the practical negation of the proletariat as a class. The owners of commodities meet as juridically free and equal subjects. But this relationship of freedom and equality between owners is no more than the reified relationship between bourgeoisie and proletariat, the relationship between the former as exclusive owners of the means of production, and the latter as dispossessed of everything except their own labour-force. The kingdom of private property for the bourgeoisie signifies the kingdom of total dispossession for the proletariat.
Democratic rights and liberties, as ideological mechanisms that ensure and really assert the atomisation of the proletariat as citizens free to sell their labour force, only able to find a buyer if capital needs it for its valorisation, are instruments of coercion, violence and despotism, in that they impose free and mutual competition between proletarians forced to produce ever more value or to starve to death, and therefore constitute a decisive weapon of democracy, that is of bourgeois domination.
13: The bourgeois ideologies – expressions of the limited understanding of the bourgeoisie, whose point of view does not go beyond the horizon of its own system of exploitation – permanently conceal the real dimension of the polarisation of society between bourgeoisie and proletariat. The bourgeoisie therefore explains democracy from its own democratic point of view; it starts out from its own immediatist and a-historical point of view to explain society, thus concealing the transitional character of its mode of production. More particularly, the bourgeoisie conceals the revolutionary force, the only force capable of wiping out this society: the proletariat. The proletariat, as opposed to the bourgeoisie, does not fear historical evolution and consequently does not resort to nor require any ideology whatsoever. It affirms its class dictatorship as the negation of all classes and as the process of its self-negation. Its own being is the negation of capitalist society. The catastrophic nature of capital forces the proletariat to constitute itself as an international force to sweep away the whole of the social system and all its ideologies.
14: The very development of democracy sees to it that the present importance of the simplification/exacerbation of the contradictions of capitalism is being concealed by the permanent obliteration of class frontiers. This is affirmed by specific ideological forms which develop total confusion in this respect, mainly those based on a complicated set of juridical and formal statutes that supposedly divide society – not into two antagonistic classes – but into an indeterminate number of more or less vague and elastic categories.
This is how, for instance, at one pole of society, a whole of juridical forms conferring pseudo-waged status tends to camouflage the bourgeois nature of entire structures of the state. This is the case, for instance, for army and police officers or for high level officials in administration or in industry, for bureaucrats of all kinds… who, under this cover, are classified as neutral categories, without any class-belonging, or worse still, are assimilated into “working class social groups”.
At the other pole of society the same is happening: a whole of juridical forms of pseudo-owners – “peasant” cooperatives, agrarian reforms, artisans, … – which objectively camouflage the existence of huge masses of proletarians, associated by capital for the production of surplus-value (the wage character disguised). This and other ideological mechanisms tend to present us as being opposed to each other and as having different interests from those of other sections of the proletariat: urban/agricultural, active/unemployed, men/women, “workers”/employees, manual/intellectual workers, …
This complicated ideological process contributes to maintaining the regime of bourgeois exploitation and oppression, concealing our enemy and making it diffuse and presenting our class as divided and numerically weak. The whole secret of the perpetuation of bourgeois domination can be summed up as being due to the proletariat’s difficulty in recognizing itself for what it really is, in recognizing its own struggle in the struggle of its class brothers (in whatever part of the world, and whatever categories the bourgeoisie might be using to divide it). This recognition is an indispensable condition for its constitution as an historical force.
In its turn this infernal cycle is broken in successive expressions of the catastrophe of the system, by the struggles of the proletariat, by their generalization and tendency to coincide in time, thus unveiling, each time more strongly, the affirmation of the same negation of capitalist society as a totality. This negation is determined, beyond its protagonists’ consciousness (always limited to communist minorities), by the same interests and the same historical project.
15: In periods of revolutionary crisis, the two classes unite against each other on the basis of their reciprocal antagonism.
On the side of the bourgeoisie, despite the tireless struggles between its different fractions to assert their particular interests in the distribution of the means of production and markets, as soon as the armed proletariat appears and the spectre of communism rises up, all inter-bourgeois rivalry becomes of secondary importance to make way for the worldwide bourgeoisie, assembled around the most coherent, strongest and most determined faction, the one best able to face class war. Although the counter-revolution generally confronts its historical enemy in this way, it is obviously not prevented from combining in other special ways: one of which is the repolarisation of society into two inter-bourgeois groups, both of which attempt to contain the proletariat.
In fact, successive counter-revolutions confirm the flexibility with which the bourgeoisie is able not only to alternate unification with internal polarisation, but also to unite in the defence of an inter-bourgeois polarisation to confront the revolution (a false polarisation relative to that of class against class).
On the side of the proletariat, as soon as it breaks the chains of competition and joins together in its struggle against its historical enemy, it asserts itself as a force and as a party by centralising itself around the most coherent, strongest and most determined factions, the ones best able to confront capital. In this sense, it is without doubt that there are sectors of the proletariat that are strategically important because of their ability to paralyse the decisive centres of accumulation of capital (major industries, mines, transport, communication, etc.). These sectors are not always the most determined, nor those who best guarantee the generalisation of the revolution. There are other sectors, such as those without a job in general or young proletarians in particular who have not yet found (or know that they will never be able to find) a buyer for their labour power – sectors which are often camouflaged by a-classist denominations such as “youths”, “students” or “school-kids”. These sectors can play a decisive role in the qualitative step of the movement that always implies rupture from the narrow framework of the factory, by taking to and occupying the streets, by the effective generalisation of the struggle and by the transition to territorial associationism in the face of which the bourgeoisie can no longer offer reforms, be they partial or sectional, thus raising the general issue of power in society. This formidable revolutionary energy cannot be a force, in the historical sense of the word, without constituting itself as a centralised party. (Without this, it will be wasted, possibly even turned to the counter-revolution’s advantage.) However, this movement cannot form a centralised party unless it puts forward an entirely communist programme and gives itself a revolutionary direction. The communist programme and direction themselves are not the immediate result of the movement, however much revolutionary energy it may have, but rather the result of all accumulated prior experience, transformed into a living force, into an organ of direction of the party and the revolution by a long and hard, conscious and voluntary historic struggle assumed by the communist factions.
16: The development of capitalism engenders the development of its historic gravedigger and at the same time determines the latter’s essential conditions of struggle. This does not mean that proletarian struggle is somehow similar or equal to that of the bourgeoisie, but rather that it engenders the very conditions in which this struggle develops and determines it as antagonistic to capital, making the proletarian revolution unique and distinct from all those that have gone before it.
17: It is in this way that capitalism engenders a revolutionary class which is an exploited class at the same time, thus creating a reality with no historical precedent. No revolutionary class in the past, that is to say a class with its own social project, was an exploited class at the same time.
18: Bourgeois society thus develops a particular sphere – the proletariat – which is the negation of all particular spheres. Capitalist society thus gives rise to a class determined to constitute itself as such and to transform itself into the dominant class to abolish all classes. Therefore, the proletariat is a being whose full realisation lies in its own abolition. Revolutionary classes of the past asserted themselves as a power and as a particular sphere, in order to set up a different type of domination, in whose defence they consolidated themselves as reactionary forces. The proletariat, on the contrary, asserts itself as a class to eliminate all domination, all exploitation and all states.
19: This is how the worldwide character of capitalism engenders the proletariat as a worldwide class, without any regional, sectorial or national interests to defend.
On the contrary, the bourgeoisie not only realised its revolution by asserting its particular interests, but its own essence (competition) permanently forces the bourgeois to oppose each other brutally and to confront each other at all levels over the distribution of the means of production and markets. Unity among bourgeois (limited companies, agreements between monopolies, national states, constellations of states, … the world state) is always realised to ensure that commercial war and/or class war are confronted under the best possible conditions. This unity may explode at any moment into its various particular fractions. That’s why, however unified and generalised the action of the bourgeoisie, it always contains division; that’s why all peace is a phase of a war to come, whilst any action of the proletariat, however partial it may be, contains universality, that is to say: however regionally or sectorially limited an action of this class against capital may be, it contains the affirmation of the unique interests of the proletariat in every part of the world and the struggle for universal social revolution.
20: These fundamental and inseparable elements, which we only present separately here for the sake of clarity, constitute the essence of the proletariat’s revolutionary struggle and determine the totality of the content of its action. It is on this basis that the most determined elements of the class organise and resolve the enormous problems that the struggle has posed, poses and will continue to pose. It is imperative that every tactical decision ensues from this invariant strategic whole, as the indissociable unity of the totality of the movement, of its goals and its means. Any tactic which strays from this basis is, at best, an error made by the working class, although in the majority of cases it is a vehicle of Capital’s counter-revolutionary politics.
21: The communist programme is nothing other than the whole of practical consequences of these determinations of social antagonism and of their development up to worldwide proletarian revolution, and the institution of communism as a society. Nevertheless, reality precedes human consciousness of it, which is why the formalisation of this programme, far from being reached in a single historical moment, is the successive result of a whole of social upheavals. Each phase of revolution and counter-revolution (each one more profound until worldwide revolution) allows a better understanding of the consequences of the essential determinations of revolutionary struggle, in other words, each phase permits theoretical clarification, in an increasingly thorough and precise form, of the implications already practically contained within these invariant determinations.
The rest of our account will be developed on this basis. That is to say it will first take up the most general formulations of our programme and then, on the basis of the necessary lessons drawn from the highest levels of the phases of revolution and counter-revolution, will actualise, concretise and clarify their true present and future significance.
22: The objective of the proletariat, and thus of communists, is (as already formulated by the League of Communists’ statute 1847): “The overthrow of the bourgeoisie, the domination of the proletariat, the abolition of the old bourgeois society based on class antagonisms and the institution of a new society, without class and private property”. Or, as Engels confirmed: “the programme of our party… is not only socialist in general, but directly communist, that is to say a party whose final goal is the suppression of all states and thus of democracy.”
23: This necessarily implies the constitution of the proletariat as a class and thus as a worldwide party, in other words, into an organic and centralised force, opposed to the whole existing social order.
The organisation of the proletariat as a class tends to be constantly undermined by the competition between proletarians as free and equal sellers of the labour force commodity. A whole of ideological, political and military forces cements this atomisation upon which social peace and bourgeois order are based. In such conditions, and despite the fact that the proletariat is, in its own essence, an irreconcilable adversary and a permanent threat to the bourgeoisie, the proletariat maintains no more than a vague impression of its social antagonism to capitalist order. It tends to transform itself into a political appendage of capitalist society by its dissolution/destruction into the people. Democratic fronts, national unity, popular fronts, fronts of national liberation, national-socialism or social nationalism… flourish in this climate, as do all expressions of the bourgeoisie’s negation of the proletariat as a class, which on a higher level, culminates in massacre in capitalist war.
24: But class antagonisms inevitably start to reappear. The proletariat emerges as a class, as a party, stronger, firmer, more decided, showing by its very essence that its existence is only possible by excluding all fronts, all class alliances. Even at the time of the so-called bourgeois revolution, the proletariat asserted itself as a class by trying to organise its revolutionary terror and class dictatorship. In the face of this programme the bourgeoisie, including its most “progressive” fractions, retreated terrified, resorting to the most “reactionary” sectors of society to enforce the cannibalism, the terror, of the counter-revolution together.
It is certainly true that, more than once, proletarian struggle may have coincided in time and space with some fraction of the bourgeoisie in its confrontation with the same enemy (struggle against the enemies of one’s enemies, as Marx called it) but only as a partial, limited and political coincidence, given that the proletariat’s social antagonism against its own exploiters is permanent. This is why this struggle inevitably leads the proletariat to assert itself as an autonomous force which threatens the bourgeoisie as a whole, all its fractions taking on a single and identical policy of counter-revolutionary terrorism.
25: Capitalism, as a worldwide system, in developing the proletariat as a worldwide class, makes communism possible across the globe. At the same time, it determines the programmatical aspects essential for the extension of the revolution and the character of the organs of the proletariat.
Communist revolution (its first insurrectional triumphs inevitably taking place in certain parts of the world) is necessarily worldwide: either it spreads or it dies!
The proletariat cannot reach its objectives at any other level, whether at that of the factory, the region, the country or even a group of countries. No kind of what is historically termed “workers’ control”, “self-managed production” of one or all the companies in a country leads to the destruction of the capitalist production relationship nor is it, in any way, the path towards this destruction. Communism, as a movement, opposes and excludes, at its origin, homeland, nation and national struggle. The abolition of all borders and nations is inherent in its development.
The constitution of the proletariat into a single body acting on a worldwide level implies organic centralism. Organic centralism guarantees the general interests of the movement against all particularism, localism, immediatism and it also struggles against corporatist, federalist and self-managementist ideologies which are only of benefit to the counter-revolution. This is obviously the case for all class organisations – associations, formal parties, state…. – and during all phases of the struggle, whether the proletariat is a dominated or dominating class.
26: The workers have no homeland and one cannot take away from them what they don’t possess. Any form of defence of the nation, whatever the pretext, is in reality an attack on the whole worldwide working class. Under the reign of the bourgeoisie, all wars are imperialist wars, with two or more opposing fractions or groups whose interests are world capital. The proletariat wages and demands only one war: social war against the whole bourgeoisie. Independent of the immediate intentions of the protagonists, the essential function of wars is to assert Capital and to objectively and subjectively smash the subversive class at the heart of this society. Therefore, far from being “simple” wars between national states, between the forces of “national liberation” and “imperialist” forces or “inter-imperialist wars”, they are, in their essence, wars of capital against communism.
In the face of all the inter-bourgeois antagonisms between “progressive” and “reactionary”, “fascist” and “anti-fascist”, “left wing” and “right wing” fractions (the logical continuation of which is imperialist war) the proletariat has only one possible response: intransigent struggle for its own class interests, against all sacrifices, against every truce and national solidarity, that is revolutionary defeatism, turning its weapons against its “own” exploiters and immediate oppressors. The proletariat’s aim is to transform capitalist war into revolutionary war against the worldwide bourgeoisie, by way of the international centralisation of this community of struggle against Capital.
27: The division of the world into three worlds – “capitalist”, “socialist” and “under-developed or third-world” – is a product of the proletariat’s defeat, aiming to consolidate and perpetuate this division in order to destroy the organic unity of interests and objectives of the international proletariat.
Even when this ideology is used “innocently” as “a simple description of reality” it contains within it the destruction of the worldwide proletariat because all such forms of ideology presuppose that the proletariat should take on different tasks in each one of the “different worlds”.
Over and above what those ideologists support consistently or otherwise, all ideologies such as the need to deepen democracy or to fight for socialism in the “first world” alone, the need for political reforms (or for “political revolution”) in the “second world”, the need for bourgeois democratic tasks and national liberation in the “third world” lead irrevocably to the proletariat’s self-negation as an international class and this means, in practice, that proletarians are made to participate in various inter-fractional fights and capitalist wars, in permanent capitalist wars for dividing up the world.
28: National liberation struggles, popular anti-imperialist wars… are specific expressions of the ideology which uses workers as cannon fodder in capitalist war. Imperialism is not a phenomenon particular to any one power or state. It is an inherent and invariant phenomenon of Capital itself: each atom of value valorising itself contains all the conditions of imperialist terrorism. This is why all the bourgeoisie is imperialist and, in practice, is inextricably linked with the most powerful fractions of world capital, not only by way of its direct participation in Limited Companies and international financial capital, but also through thousands of implicit or explicit deals.
The proletariat leads its own fight against its exploiters in the face of imperialist wars. In doing so it is considered indifferentist or a saboteur, but this is only a reflection of the coherence of world capital. The proletariat can never be indifferent to its own exploitation, nor can it ever accept a truce with its own exploiters under any pretext. On the contrary, the continuity and development of this fight against all oppressors lead it to gather in action with its class brothers over the whole planet as one single community of struggle against worldwide capital, a community upon which the international and internationalist organisation of the proletariat is based.
29: As revealed in thesis 11, communism, throughout its historical development as well as in its objective, is the living contradiction of democracy (of its rights, its citizens, its organizations, …). The realisation of communism presupposes the elimination of all divisions originating from commodity production, upon which democracy is based and therefore the destruction of all democracy.
An essential lesson for the proletariat follows on from this thesis. Whatever the stage of the struggle it is involved in, by accepting democracy, whether as a front (e.g. as an alliance with a fraction that is considered more “democratic”, “antifascist” or “anti-imperialist”), as part of a transient objective (e.g., the fight for democratic rights), as a principle within its own organisation (the search for political guarantees in elections, assemblies, majorities, congress, …) or as a final objective (“the formation of a truly democratic society”) the proletariat does not only objectively and totally renounce its goals and its own formation into party, the prefiguration of the worldwide human community, but also (and inseparably) renounces its own formation as proletariat, its interests and thus its own being.
In all these cases it denies itself as a class, reinforces its oppressors and excludes itself (the only assertion of its being) as a force antagonistic to existing social order by dissolving itself in the classless world of citizens:
In the case of the democratic front, the proletariat drowns in the majority, in the world of the citizen, in “antifascist resistance”, contributing to the abolition of its own class autonomy and, for the future, legitimises the “spectacle of renewal” of the face of the state.
In the case of the fight for democratic rights the proletariat, if it takes part, will only reinforce the weaponry of the state, of its own enemy.
In the case of democratic centralism, the proletariat commits suicide by attributing a character of principle to types of organisation which actually embody the separations between individuals (separations between theory and practice, decision and action, legislative and executive, individual and society) and which will disappear with them.
Finally, the proletariat makes itself ideologically bourgeois by considering what is really capitalist society’s ideal (pure democracy) to be its own objective.
30: “Workers’” democracy (that is to say: “the government of working people”) maintains all the mediations between politics and economics and between man and society which are specific to capital. It substitutes the cult of parliament and the freedom of atomised individuals for that of “democratic soviets”, “free unions”, “sovereign general assemblies” and the “free worker”, which, from the point of view of content, are exactly the same: in both cases the subject is not a subversive class, with a revolutionary programme and direction, but a free individual, whether “a worker” or not. To the bourgeois democratic version of the a-classist myth of the citizen, the people, the Nation corresponds this other version of workers democracy (just as a-classist and bourgeois) of “the workers”, “the proletarian masses” (defined sociologically) and the “exploited majority”. Once again, the terminology “worker” serves to hide and to pass off democracy, the foundation stone of capitalist society, as a workers’ victory.
31: The social democratic separation between “economic struggle” and “political struggle”, “trade union struggle” and “revolutionary struggle”, “immediate struggle” and “historic struggle”… is the already classical bourgeois method for fragmenting and liquidating workers’ struggles. A workers’ organisation which adopts this false distinction sows confusion in the proletarian ranks and thus contributes – whether it wants to or not – to the maintenance of the disorganisation and disorientation of the movement and to the alteration of the all-encompassing substance of the class war. It is criminal to confuse the social movement with the banner flying above the heads of its protagonists, to confuse Capital’s reformist proposals with the affirmation of the proletariat’s interests and demands. To do so means accepting the translation of class struggle into bourgeois terms, just as trade unionists and other social democrats have always done throughout the history of the proletariat.
Even if a proletarian struggle starts off on the basis of still partial denials, such as the struggle against price rises, against the extension and/or intensification of work, against measures which leave masses of proletarians out of work or against whatever economic or repressive measure of the state, it is, in its content, a struggle against the rise of exploitation itself (rate of surplus value) and against exploitation itself, struggles that are indissociable for the proletariat as the exploited and revolutionary class. The indissociability of struggles of the proletariat comes out into the open when, in situations of crisis, the most minimal economic proletarian demand implies a direct attack on the rates of exploitation and profit for Capital, an attack on the sacrosanct competitiveness of the national economy. Confrontation between the capitalists associated as state and the proletariat, then becomes inevitable.
The fact that whichever bourgeois banner flies over the movement or whichever reform of Capital appears as the objective of the struggle, is not just a bourgeois lie; although it sometimes is, above all when proletarians receive information in one part of the world concerning struggle in another, filtered by the mass media. If we were to accept what was said we would have to believe that class struggle has disappeared and that there is nothing but national, religious, racial or democratic struggles. But the use of a bourgeois banner as the movement’s standard is also an objective force which, as a real weakness of the movement, helps to crush it.
Failing to recognize this reality and not developing a consequent struggle against this objective weakness of our class, is to fail to recognise that the dominant ideology is that of the dominant class. It is to fail to recognize that the subversive movement of this society can only express itself for what it really is, on the basis of its vanguard factions, which are necessarily minoritarian during the whole of the pre-insurrectional process and, in all certainty, immediately afterwards. Expressing itself for what it really is signifies rising up with slogans which explicitly negate present-day society, such as for the abolition of wage labour.
32: There also exist other social democratic dichotomies such as “economics versus politics” and “theory versus practice” that in every case divide up the revolutionary process in order to liquidate and destroy its subversive unity. One particularly notable case of such a conception is the one according to which the capitalist mode of production is divided into periods: a period/phase which is “ascendant”, “progressive” or based on “formal domination”… and another, defined as “decadent”, “reactionary”, “imperialist” or based on “real domination”.
Capital’s own development is always its greatest reform, its constant transformations and its necessary quantitative as well as qualitative changes (value must permanently valorise itself) are marked, not by two antinomic phases (ascendance/decadence) but by a succession of levels (the only basis for a periodisation of capitalism) in which all contradictions (the most basic of which is valorisation/devalorisation) appear in an increasingly exacerbated form each time.
All theories of decadence destroy the universality of the capitalist mode of production (in time and/or in space). They lead inevitably to the liquidation of the invariance of the interests and needs of the revolutionary proletariat, thus ultimately negating the one and only gravedigger of the old world, the active agent in the catastrophic fall of the system. These theories lead the decadentists inescapably into the arms of immediatism, gradualism, evolutionism, fatalism … deadly traps for classist militancy. All the decadentist theories (quite apart from the fact that they are no more than simple economic, that is to say bourgeois, theories) lead to this result, whatever the type of argument used.
The reformist practices inferred by all the decadentist theories are also expressed systematically justifying/demanding a posteriori the whole counter-revolutionary practice of social democracy (thus as an historic totality that also includes official anarchism). This is realised by way of the fallacious pretext that during the so-called “ascendant” period, the proletariat would not have had communism as its objective, but rather the struggle for reforms (essentially bourgeois struggle), for its integration as an economic object in the system (“class” for capital).
All theories of decadence are based on the idea that the bourgeoisie has of itself: that of progress, evolution, civilisation, … as if they could be neutral and a-classist, as if progress under the bourgeoisie could be something other than bourgeois progress (the greatest bourgeois progress is always bourgeois war!), as if evolution under the bourgeoisie could be anything other than the evolution of bourgeois exploitation. The decadentists see progress, evolution and civilisation developing up to a certain date (and, for the most consistent, in certain geo-political areas) and then reaching a fateful watershed, justified in various ways depending on the school involved (Stalinist, Trotskyist, Luxemburgist or whatever), after which it begins to decline, to “objectively” collapse. All this will inevitably be accompanied by “moral”, artistic, … decadence (something which all these currents have in common with the numerous religious and fascistoid sects). All this is just counter-revolutionary ideology that the proletariat in struggle will destroy.
33: Social democratic dualism and the ideology of decadence which denies Capital as an organic totality inevitably leads to the ideological creation of an ensemble of categories into which the heirs of social democracy imagine the world to be divided. However, these ideological categories, in so far as they have become dominant conceptions, have become powerful weapons for dividing the proletariat. Thus, added to the most classic bourgeois forms of categorising and dividing into countries, such as the division of the world into three as we have already mentioned, or the division of countries into “developed” and “under-developed”, “central” and “Third World”, are other more subtle divisions, which fulfil the same function – to sow confusion as to the unified nature of world capital, to disperse and disorganise the proletariat by presenting it with different projects or objectives according to region. In this regard, the ideology of “state capitalism” is particularly pernicious. According to this ideology there exists, in the “best” cases, different types of capitalism and in the “worst”, kind of half-and-half societies, “neither truly capitalist nor truly socialist”, in which “state capitalism” becomes a phase in the revolution. All these ideologies, which constitute distinct varieties of Kautskyism, Leninism, etc. are nothing other than the old Stalino-Trotskyist myth of “Russian specificity” generalised to the whole world. Their central objective is the negation, camouflage and covering up of the real antagonism between the world capitalist state and the internationalist proletariat.
34: The force of counter-revolution bases itself today on the exploitation of all the weaknesses of the great international revolutionary wave of the years 1917-1923, made possible by the political and organisational destruction of the communist factions who began to draw up a balance sheet of this period.
The counter-revolution erected the myth of the “workers’ state in one country” over the dead body of the revolutionary proletariat (the myth of “socialism in one country” is merely its right-wing variant), which served to use millions of proletarians as cannon fodder in capitalist war. This so-called “Workers’ State”, just like all the others which adopted this or other similar denominations (Eastern Europe, Cuba, China, Angola, Vietnam, Algeria, Mozambique, Nicaragua…), is no more nor less than a capitalist state whose ideology has expressly usurped some Marxist phrases to better hide its bourgeois character. The whole planet is capitalist. The communist revolution will be worldwide or it will not be.
35: All currents which support, be it in a “critical” way or not, any state or government existing in the world today (Stalinist, Trotskyist, Maoist, Third-Worldist, “anarchist”…) are nothing other than reactualised forms of bourgeois socialism, born from the womb of social democracy as an historic force. In practice, in addition to supporting the apparatuses of the bourgeois state (governments, unions, parliaments…) and contributing to capitalist wars, these forces are decisive in the transformation of proletarian needs into capital’s reforms. This inevitably leads them to always act as the shock troops of capital for maintaining bourgeois order.
36: From Proudhon to Kautsky, from Hitler to Castro, from Stalin to Mussolini, from Bernstein to Peron, from Mao to Khomeini, from Arafat to Gorbachev … and other reformers there have always existed progressist bourgeois fractions, partisans of great reforms, of populist discourse, workerists, “against the rich”, “against monopolies”, “against oligarchy”, “against the few families who own the country”, “against plutocracy”… in favour of “social” institutions. These fractions correspond to the permanent historic tendency of capital to self-reform and to constantly revolutionise its productive base and social structure while maintaining, of course, the essential: wage labour, exploitation of man by man. Their specific function is to present themselves as alternatives to the classic forms of domination (a decisive function for polarising society into two bourgeois poles), to present reforms as the objective of all struggle and, in the inter-capitalist struggle, to appear as the radicalising sectors of society. Their relative importance, according to the epoch or the country, stems from the credibility that they have in the eyes of proletarians, that is to say from their capacity to control the workers and to wipe out all class autonomy by means of reforms (or by the promise of reforms) aiming to render wage slavery less visible and real poverty more “viable” and which, in fact, consolidate the social dictatorship of Capital. Whatever its brand of reformism, the bourgeoisie is the irreconcilable enemy of the proletariat and, whatever its rhetoric, all its fractions systematically resort to open terror against the proletariat – not just the privilege of the Right or of the fascists – whenever the preservation of the system demands it. In the face of these fractions, the programme of the proletariat does not change one iota: the proletariat is obliged to organise itself as a force to crush and liquidate all types of critical support for reform, along with all the other fractions.
37: The objective of the bourgeois state, the democratic state, is to keep the proletariat disorganised, denied as a class or, better still, contained and mobilised in the service of the bourgeoisie. What is essential to all democratic mechanisms is the destruction of the organic unity of the proletariat, its interests and its “organisation” into partial “interests” which correspond to the individual, the citizen (homo economicus), buyer and seller of commodities. Unions are vital organs of the bourgeois state which fulfil this function. In effect, they represent the “world of work” within Capital, that is to say the proletariat liquidated as a class, divided into sectors, negotiating (like any other individual in mercantile society) the selling price of their commodity – labour power – which, in turn, assures a “reasonable” rate of profit and guarantees social peace. In the face of this type of organisation, the proletariat struggles to organise itself outside and against the unions which, as obstacles to communist revolution, must be completely destroyed. This is why all ideologies which recommend reform of the unions, their reconquest or working within them (even if they say they are doing so to destroy them) sow the seeds of confusion. They keep proletarians, who intuitively sense the reactionary role of the unions, trapped in these organs of the state (which also happens to help improve their credibility). They serve reaction. The fact that, in numerous cases, we find real workers’ organisations at the origins of these organisations merely confirms the capacity of the bourgeoisie to recuperate organisational forms created by the proletariat and to use them for its own ends.
The “trade union issue” is not a question of denomination, but rather of social practice. The real antagonism is not, as some would have us believe, between economic and political interests nor between immediate and historical interests, because the unions, as state apparatuses, do not even defend the “economic” and “immediate” interests of the workers (which, as we have already said, are inseparable from the revolutionary affirmation of the proletariat). The real antagonism is between workers’ associationism, the organic reconstitution of the struggle, the interests of the proletariat and the apparatus of the democratic state for mercantile negotiations. This is the case, whatever they call themselves. In the same way, if the denomination “union” came to globally and solely refer to these state apparatuses (which would make it rather unlikely that real class associations would give themselves this name) other more radical denominations (workers’ councils, soviets…) could also be used to hide state apparatuses outside and against which workers’ associationism will also necessarily develop.
37a: The revolution is not a question of organisational form. On the contrary, the problem is its real social content and, ultimately, concerns either organs of workers’ struggle against Capital or organs of the bourgeois state for the destruction of the revolutionary force. In the case of the latter, the name or ideological cover adopted to better assure their counter-revolutionary function does not change their bourgeois character at all.
It is obvious, however, that in the real process of growing workers’ associationism the proletariat is developing more and more global forms of organisation, corresponding to its own development as a class. Thus, for example, forms still marked by corporatism and sectional aspects will be surpassed by the organisation of struggle on the basis of places of work and by branches of production. In turn these forms will be surpassed by territorial organisations in which the whole of the proletariat (unemployed and workers, young and old…) can participate and centralise themselves. This will represent a decisive spring-board, the proletariat giving itself international forms which will fight against the respective nations that the bourgeoisie uses to divide its historic enemy. This process, within which different forms of workers’ associationism succeed one another according to their different levels of consciousness and confrontation with Capital, is not a linear and gradual process. On the contrary, it is a process marked by qualitative jumps, advances and also setbacks… whose totality is determined by the balance of forces between proletariat and bourgeoisie.
Workers’ councils, soviets, industrial pickets, class organisations organised on the level of a country, etc. are all forms corresponding to this real process of development of the proletariat, going beyond the divisions imposed by Capital, above all by surpassing the struggle for categories or workplace (although councils, soviets, combinations, etc. could still be based on association by category). This process corresponds to epochs of open social and political crisis, in which the proletariat can no longer believe in partial and particular solutions.
However, even in the midst of this process of associationism, it is never the forms in themselves which can guarantee (as the councilists believe) the interests of the proletariat (nor any other type of formal guarantee that the apologists of workers’ democracy would like to establish, such as sovereign assemblies, elected delegates, revocable at any moment…). Within the real process of organisation of the proletariat as a force everything will depend on the real practice of these organisations and, therefore, on their effective leadership. What is decisive is the class struggle on the inside of such organisations, in which counter-revolution will continue to be present and organised, acting to transform such associations into organs of the bourgeois state. The sole guarantee against this is the decisive action of vanguard factions of the proletariat who will not submit to any of the democratic mechanisms which the counter-revolution tries to impose. With all their strength, organised communists oppose any ideology tending to dissolve this genuine leadership of the proletariat in formation into the midst of the whole of the workers in struggle (or worse still, in the whole of workers as a sociological category). They will not accept, under any pretext, the discipline of these mass organisations which contradict every element of the historical programme of the proletariat. By all means and to the bitter end, they will lead the struggle against any attempt to give these organisations a counter-revolutionary leadership to impose a genuine revolutionary leadership on the movement.
38: Parliament and elections are the particular forms in which democracy is concretised. They express the same bourgeois need to dilute the proletariat into the mass of citizens, to practically deny the existence of a class which is antagonistic to the whole of the established order, thus reaffirming its own domination. Their specific function is to divert workers from their everyday struggles against Capital and to develop and reproduce the illusion of a peaceful change in the proletariat’s situation just by virtue of the ballot box (the highest expression of which is of a peaceful passage to socialism). Elections serve to distinguish between the different fractions and representatives of the bourgeoisie, those which are directly charged with taking the top position in the executive and directing the repression against proletarian struggles. Parliamentarianism and electoralism inevitably turn their back on the methods and objectives of the workers’ struggle and cannot, in any form, be used by proletarians in struggle. Adding the qualifier “revolutionary” to parliamentarianism and claiming to use it to denounce bourgeois domination only (as has been shown historically) serves to increase confusion in the proletarian ranks. In fact it constitutes a powerful element for liquidating (through its legalism, leadership politics, cult of personality) all activity aiming to constitute the party of the class and it only serves the counter-revolution.
The only proletarian response to the regular unleashing of these bourgeois attacks known as elections is the rejection of any electoral truce, the pursuit of struggle for exclusively proletarian interests, the denunciation of elections and, wherever possible (as determined by the balance of class forces) sabotage by direct action.
39: Racial oppression, sexual oppression, the destruction of the environment… are inherent to all class societies, but no other society has attained a level of atrocity as gigantic and as systematic as under the reign of capitalism and more particularly, under the dictatorship of the progress of capitalist civilisation, in its current development. Only a global struggle can destroy the real basis of the alienation – estrangement – of Man and all the inhuman manifestations and atrocities proper to capitalist social relations. Only one social class – the proletariat – contains in its being this project and its realisation, the communist revolution.
Contrary to this project, the liquidation of the struggle by way of its fragmentation and the creation of specific movements (feminism, anti-racism, environmentalism) tend to reduce and to resolve each of these problems into a separate sphere, thus preventing any attack on their profound and common cause. They are therefore irremediable additional attempts to adapt, ameliorate and repair (plaster over) the system and, by these means, to reinforce the dictatorship of Capital. Practically, these types of movement have served and can only serve to divert the revolutionary energy of the proletariat, to improve the mechanisms of domination and oppression as well as to increase the rate of exploitation of the proletariat.
39a: For the first time, the universal exploitation of a class containing all races and every possible racial mix and combination, gives the concept of the human species the whole of its meaning and validity. The only human and definitive solution to racial oppression and racism lies within this universal exploitation, within the unique interests of the proletariat and within the struggle it is forced to develop to impose its universal social revolution. On the other side of the barricades are the exploiters, the defenders and representatives of the system of social production which, although they themselves are of every colour, act in a unified way through the racist/antiracist discourse.
This said, racism (and/or antiracism) is more than just an ideological problem. The fact that Capital buys the labour power of one race for less than another’s, the fact that the conditions of exploitation and the living conditions of one part of the proletariat are worse than another’s, reflect that in Capital’s reality a human being’s production, as a wage slave, is of absolutely no interest as a human being, but is solely determined (as with all other commodities) by the amount of social labour incorporated into him. This racist reality of Capital determines that, in the same way that the value of labour power of a qualified worker is greater than that of an ordinary worker, the value of the labour power of a “native” worker, for example, is greater than that of an “immigrant” worker (presupposing that the former contains more work of integration, socialisation, nationalisation and unionisation than the other).
In the international organisation of worldwide bourgeois domination, racism is only able to present itself very marginally compared to what it really is (overtly racist speeches by one or other government or bourgeois party are relatively rare). In most cases racism develops on the basis of antiracism. Antiracism thus constitutes an ideological force which is becoming more and more decisive in the reproduction of exploitation and of this racist society.
Any struggle against the racism of this society which fails to attack capitalist society (that is to say the foundations of racism), any struggle which, therefore, is not a struggle of the international proletariat against the worldwide bourgeoisie transforms itself into an additional ideological element of the state and of bourgeois oppression. The most advanced expression of this antiracism could be found in the triumphant bourgeoisie of the so-called Second World War and still constitutes a decisive ideological element of all current great world powers. Antiracism is thus the most refined form of reproduction of racist society: the state of Israel was constituted on the basis of a fictional community of Jewish antiracist struggle and is a particularly illustrative example of how antiracism serves racist capitalist exploitation to take on its maximal expression in the exploitation camps of the proletariat of that region.
39b: The division of labour by sex (or age) is an objective element of the capitalist division of the proletariat which will only be abolished through the liquidation of Capital and the auto-suppression of the proletariat. Men, women, young, old… all proletarians, reproduce their lives as labour power of Capital, for Capital. The direct production of surplus value in Capital’s centres of labour (factories, mines, fields, offices, …) cannot be guaranteed if labour power is not itself produced. Capital, inheritor of the patriarchal society, has developed this labour power and whenever it has needed to it has used and still uses men and women of all ages for the direct production of surplus value. However, it has particularly condemned proletarian women to be the principal agent of domestic production of labour power (production which is part of the global production of the labour power commodity).
Even if Capital, when it buys labour power, pays for the whole value of this commodity, that is to say all the work necessary for its production (domestic, educational, repressive, etc.) the one who receives the wage is the direct producer of surplus value and not the one who carries out this domestic labour.
This element, in addition to others, constitutes a decisive factor in the particular submission and oppression of proletarian women by Capital.
Feminism is the bourgeois response to this particular situation. Its starting point is to turn anything particular to the exploitation of the proletarian woman by Capital into the global condition of Woman in general. It thus transforms the proletarian revolt of men and women into an interclassist movement whose rallying cry is that “men in general exploit women in general”. In addition to feminism’s global counter-revolutionary work as a force of fragmentation, of diversion and of concealment of the real contradictions and solutions of the struggle of classes, feminism has also been a decisive instrument of Capital for gearing up proletarian exploitation. Thanks to equal rights, feminism now leads the proletarian woman to take on a more active role in the direct production of surplus value and to participate, side by side with men, each time more directly, in imperialist war. From the struggle for work for women to the demand for the right to vote via all the campaigns for women’s participation in the active life of the nation, feminism has always been a force asserting Capital against the proletariat, a force whose greatest achievements are female cops, the massive incorporation of women into patriotic armies (a necessity for Capital in order to make the whole of the civil population participate more and more directly in its war), female MPs, generals, Prime Ministers…
39c: The fragmenting ideologies of world capitalism such as antiracism or feminism aim to prevent the unification of the international proletariat. The importance of these ideologies can only be understood by taking into account that each one of these movements of pro-state mobilisation tries to suck in the majority of the planet’s proletarian population so as to divert it from its class and revolutionary objectives. The most radical feminists never forget to mention that their demands concern women, who make up the majority on the planet. Radical antiracism has the same pretensions: the proletarian whose dark skin or characterisation as an immigrant or as the son of immigrants determines particularly atrocious forms of exploitation by capital, represents by far the great majority of the world proletariat. Here also we see the importance of the revolutionary critique of such ideologies which will be swept away by the unifying struggle of the proletariat of all colours, of both sexes, of all ages, from all over the world and from all sides… against world capital. It is in this community of real struggle today and in its development that racism and antiracism are being destroyed and will be destroyed. It is the same for the so-called “woman question” and feminism, etc.
39d: Capitalist development with its consequent tyranny of the rate of profit against the environment necessary for human life has attained such levels that not only are ever-growing parts of humanity subjected to permanent hunger caused by desertification (or all other causes also “naturally” produced by the valorisation of capital) but also the permanence itself of the present civilisation has become incompatible with life on earth in the medium term. This is occurring through the capitalist destruction of the atmosphere and of sources of drinking water… without even mentioning other “small details” such as the potential for generalised nuclear destruction, universal air and water pollution (the increasing accumulation of heavy metals such as lead and mercury in the environment, the destruction of the ozone layer indispensable for life, the accumulation of CO2 causing the greenhouse effect, the melting of ice caps and therefore the risk of flooding of inhabited land etc.), more and more frequent industrial, chemical and nuclear “accidents”, with more and more serious consequences, total inviability, in the fullest sense of the term, in that life will be impossible in the major urban centres of the planet.
The proletarian communist revolution constitutes the only valid alternative to the barbarism of existing civilisation, in so far as it can liquidate the basis of generalised contamination and the causes of the destruction of all the environments necessary to the real human life of the species.
The environmental movement is the bourgeois answer to the generalised degradation of all the conditions of life. Be it parliamentarianist or anti-parliamentarianist, openly or secretly reformist, environmentalism attacks the consequences and not the foundations of generalised contamination. Its most important social function is to divert the struggle waged by the proletariat against the brutal worsening of all conditions of reproduction of its life. Consciously or not, the proletariat attacks the basis of the whole society (the rate of exploitation, the rate of profit, the competitiveness of companies, the economy, …). Environmentalists aim to transform this into a mere struggle against the excesses of a system whose basis they defend.
Organised environmentalists, with their return to nature, their proposals for purification stations, for state control of contamination, etc. not only defend the general basis of the generalised commodity system (the source of all contamination) but also irremediably give their support to austerity campaigns led by the state against the proletariat. As if the proletariat wasn’t impoverished enough, environmentalists propose more austerity, to be more “natural”: they are the best commercial agents of the sale of “nature” and put forward programmes of austerity and increased exploitation to the proletariat that no other sector of the bourgeoisie would dare to promote. For the environmentalists it would be better if it were possible to feed the proletariat on grass instead of meat. Basing themselves on the huge myth that this society is a society of consumption (while in reality it is determined by the production of value), the environmentalists are the most cynical defenders of austerity, of belt tightening.
In an epoch in which the devastating effects of commodity production leads to an ever-increasing mortality from desertification, at a time in which capitalist development engenders irremediable physical malformations and ever more numerous and incurable illnesses due to atmospheric contamination, the revolt of the proletariat against the system continues and in its development will face environmentalists of all kinds, further obstacles that will have to be swept away to impose revolution.
39e: Capital only reproduces proletarian humanity in so far as it is an instrument of work and a source of valorisation. The “factories” where the proletariat reproduces itself as proletarians, in which the species reproduces itself as simple labour power for Capital are the family, schools, hospitals, churches, institutions of social security, prisons, etc. All these institutions are, from top to bottom, determined by the reproduction not of human beings but of wage slavery. They will be abolished by the communist revolution along with the society from which they emerged.
Faced with the impossibility of denying the obvious antagonism between social revolution and the reproduction of all institutions reproducing private property and the society of Capital, the classical approach of revisionism, social democracy, is to recognize in its maximum programme for after the revolution the existence of this antagonism in a camouflaged form. In doing so it sabotages all practical and concrete struggle against those institutions even to the point of being sufficiently insolent to go as far as defending the existence of the “proletarian family” or schools purified of all excesses… under full socialism! However, all real struggles by the proletariat have confronted these institutions and, in various forms, have fought against them. In all deep proletarian revolts an irreconcilable opposition appears not only to institutions such as churches and prisons, but also to the family and schools, etc. The essence of all these institutions (family and schools included) is the reproduction of private property and the state, whose very structure reproduces the individual producer of surplus value, the “prole” as familial property, reproduces sex or age based division of labour necessary for the reproduction of Capital’s labour forces and reproduces the discipline necessary to maintain wage exploitation, etc.
The struggle against the family, school, just as the struggle against prisons, churches, social service institutions or any other type of capitalist institution is a fundamental struggle which is inseparable from all communist struggle against this society. Just as one cannot put a problem as important as trade unionism to one side until after the insurrection (given that we are confronted by it in every major struggle), it is counter-revolutionary to postpone the struggle against schools, the family, etc. until after the insurrection.
39f: Only the proletarian struggle can take up this type of struggle. It is only within the real community of struggle that proletarians can forge the bases of the destruction, of the communist critique of the family, school and assert their own project. Any search for positive alternatives within capitalist society falls inevitably into reformism and bourgeois socialism because the real alternative to all these social structures can only arise from this developing negation, that is to say from the assertion of communism as a general movement of negation of the whole of existing society.
In this negation in action, it is clear that communists develop this concrete negation of the family, school, etc, with all their forces but cannot, for one moment, have any illusions that they will abolish those institutions without abolishing the real private property from which they emerged. Communists have the advantage over other proletarians of a global vision of the movement and its goals and of situating themselves, in all practical aspects of the struggle, at the head of the proletariat.
In the same way that feminism is the bourgeois response to the “woman question”, antiracism the bourgeois response to the racial question and environmentalism the bourgeois response to the question of the destruction of the conditions of human life, there is a whole complex collection of bourgeois responses to the issues of the family and school. Amongst these, we could mention the ideologies of the alternative family, of living communities, “free love”, the revolution of everyday life, “free” or alternative schools, etc. It is not only a question of the simple fragmentation of proletarian struggle, as in the other cases, but of its effective liquidation on the basis of a whole of reformist projects and ideologies which all have the reform and the reproduction of life necessary to maintain wage labour in common.
Only the constitution of the proletariat as a class and therefore a party, as a human community opposed to all established order, contains the negation of the family, of school, of paternalism and of the privatisation of relations in its embryo, in its development and in the human relations which are forged in the common struggle. The effective development of this negation will find an obstacle in all reformist projects concerning school and family which must be destroyed in order to impose its revolution to abolish them forever, in the same process as the abolition of private property.
40: Work is the living negation of human activity, life, satisfaction and enjoyment. Work makes man a stranger to himself, to what he produces, to his own activity and to the human species. Work is nothing other than human activity imprisoned in the framework of class societies and the concretisation of the necessity for the dominant classes to appropriate surplus production by exploiting and crushing the other classes. Capitalism, in liberating (in separating) the exploited from their means of life and production and in destroying old forms of production, has imposed wage labour and generalised free work on the whole of the planet. It has thus reduced man, everywhere, to the condition of labourer, a tortured person (“travail” is derived etymologically from the Latin “traepalium” meaning “instrument of torture”).
In work, the proletariat is universally dispossessed of its product, estranged, lost to itself, denied its essence, its life and its enjoyment and rendered a stranger to the product of its own activity.
As well as pouring its sweat, its blood, its life into an activity in which absurdity competes with stupefaction, it is separated from all immediate links with other people as human beings and is thus separated from its own generic life, from the human species.
It is only in the struggle against work, against the activity that they are forced to carry out and against those who make them do it, in the generalisation of this struggle and the consequent calling into question of the totality of society that proletarians reemerge as human beings and take the first steps towards a communist society where the activity of people will finally become human, for the human being.
40a: Capital has made work the most important activity to which everyone is subordinated, man’s essential activity. (We are not considered for who we are but for “what we do in life”, which in this society means “profession”, “job”). It thus couldn’t be more coherent that all the ideologies of bourgeois society make work the essence of the human being and that this ideology is reproduced and supported by the hundreds of millions of citizens who waste their lives every day to “make a living”.
Consistent with this, all the ideologies of Capital are based on sacrifice, renunciation, the internalisation of emotions, feelings, sensations… To work corresponds sacrifice, and to sacrifice, religion (including the Marxist-Leninist religion of the state!) as justification for the repression of every manifestation of passions and human, physical and bodily enjoyment.
From the apologies of the left and miserabilists of the poor proletarian to the dogmas of priests of every kind, they all offer us “the afterlife”, “the society to come” and death as the recompense and place of realisation for men who, in the “present life”, must live in sacrifice, renounce all enjoyment and repress all pleasure.
41: Under Capital, everything that is vital must be sacrificed and life is nothing but a sacrifice. The human being has been separated from its body, its pleasure, its sex, its vital energy.
Flesh and blood has been permeated by centuries and centuries of what is called civilisation.
Work, the police, the family, religion, school, television, prison, psychiatric hospitals, in short, the state, are much more than just the context in which that which pretends to be human is reproduced, deformed, dehumanised. They also shape (and are part of) these bodies which are repressed, separated, in confrontation with each other. Under Capital, human beings are incapable of loving the human being, are transformed into enemies of each other, even to the point of repressing their own humanity, their own drives, their own energy.
In commodity society people only relate to each other through the mediation of things and as private owners of things. Universally alienated sexuality and generalised orgasmic impotence are the palpable concrete expression of the absence of truly human relations, as bodies, as totality.
Human beings do not live their sexuality directly through their life and their energy, but rather through all those embodied mediations of things and their spectacular images imposed by society. Better put, they make these mediations the body’s weapons and armour, so that humans become no more than wolves for each other.
Bourgeois society itself has developed its response to this castration inherent to being a citizen, to this repression which permanently destroys vital energy. It consists of making a commodity out of everything which is sexual – they sell women, men, children, they sell images of pleasure, penises, vaginas, women and men made of rubber.
During every revolutionary emergence of the proletariat, at the same time as calling into question and shaking the entire edifice of the bourgeois state, all human relations start to revolutionise themselves and a real practical critique of generalised anti-pleasure (the anti-pleasure so indispensable to the functioning of this society) begins. Conversely, individualism and anti-pleasure return to make themselves omnipresent in every triumphant counter-revolution or phase of descendant revolution.
As with any other central aspect of the communist revolution, the central enemy of the revolution is reformism, all the small reparations made so that the essential can continue as it is. Thus, the ideologies of free love, of freedom of sexual exchange, of the realisation of pleasure in the midst of capitalist society, even when used as more than just simple methods of propaganda to sell an object or a service… have as their central objective the canalisation, diversion and destruction of the revolutionary energy of the proletariat.
Truly human enjoyment has nothing to do with such mercantile caricatures.
Communism, in its historical affirmation, will free all potential for enjoyment in the human species and, by destroying all slavery, will bring about a society in which physical and sexual pleasure, bodily and orgasmic pleasure will develop human relations, the humanity of the human being, the human species itself to levels that are unimaginable today.
42: The development of exchange has brought about fractures and separations of greater and greater importance in human activity and, consequently, has brought each aspect of this activity into the grip of the more and more omnipotent Law of Value. Capital has perfected this process by subsuming every area of human praxis and by appropriating and deviating all of man’s creative activity towards the realisation of its own needs of accumulation. By definitively separating creativity from the rest of human activity it defines Art as the only field for expression and creation, as the place and moment of all possible meaning, precisely because life itself has lost all meaning. Art serves as an outlet, as a ghetto, as an open wound of the capitalist system where its putrefaction can fester. Capital encourages any writing, speaking and drawing as long as these artistic products remain in the domain of representation of what is lived, of the spectacle, without ever breaking through the barriers towards the transformation of life. Within these limits, these products are no more than commodities like any other.
Popular art, anarcho art, “proletarian” art and its “worker” miserabilism… are merely different reformist and democratic proposals which aim to sublimate the most spectacular aspects of the misery of the proletarian condition by failing to see and to show anything but misery in misery, in an attempt to keep the proletariat happy in its condition of exploited class.
Contrary to what all radical reformists defend, the alienation of art does not reside in the fact that art makes an abstraction of misery (given that leftist artists fill this void!) but rather in the fact that it is creativity alienated, the alienation of all creativity, element of the bourgeois state which reinforces and reproduces capitalist society.
The communist revolution will destroy Art (including “proletarian” art) as a product of class societies, as an activity of human beings that is fragmented and divided under Capital. The communist revolution will realise the creative aspirations of Man, which art pretends to respond to in an alienated form.
This proletarian destruction of Art and, more globally, of the partitioning of different activities under Capital, can be found even today (and it’s an old workers’ tradition!) in embryonic form in the inventive sabotage of means of bourgeois domination and terror, in the sabotage of machines, in the turning around of their weapons, in the methods developed for escaping from or outwitting state control, in using the bosses’ equipment for our own purposes, in absenteeism… and more generally in all the imagination and creativity shown by our class in its struggle to subvert this world.
Generalised insurrection will be a profoundly creative act, “artistic” even, and a crucial step in the revolutionary destruction of Art.
43: The proletariat is the bearer of a society which is classless and without the violence inherent to class societies. The society from which it emerges is based on bourgeois terrorism, independent of the more or less open form, with which the bourgeoisie exercises its dictatorship. The cannibalism of the counter-revolution, the state or “para-state” white terror obliges (and determines) the proletariat to respond to this terror by means of revolutionary violence, by red terror.
The organisation of this violence which surges forward spontaneously from the very soil of this terrorist society and the decisions regarding its application, are decisive elements for preventing generalised slaughter, for diminishing and shortening the birth pains of the new society. This is why communists are not only not opposed to this violence but, on the contrary, place themselves at its head in order to lead it. Pacifism (and anti-terrorism in general), as well as the social-democratic distinction between the violence of the working class “as a whole” and violent “individual” actions or between “violence” and “terrorism”, have never been – and can never be – anything other than a cynical manifestation of counter-revolutionary ideology.
43a: However, if it is true that the general condemnation of terrorism or of workers’ violence (necessarily minoritarian in its early stages) is the general practice of reformism and of counter-revolution, to deduce from this that violence or armed action is in itself revolutionary is an ideological absurdity whose principal objective is to contain and liquidate the combative sectors of the proletariat by making them serve a reformist and bourgeois project. It is a moral point of view to consider that armed struggle contains in itself either revolutionary virtues or “human perversion”, that terror is intrinsically good or bad, independent of the class programme that it develops and independent of the social project carried by this class, which is what will inevitably determine the form and the real content of this violence. It is the point of view of priests, idealists and voluntarists of all types, diametrically opposed to the materialist conception of history and constitutes an obstacle to revolutionary practice. It is certain that the social revolution will be necessarily violent but it is completely wrong to pretend that violence necessarily leads to revolution. Reform and revolution are not distinguished by whether or not they use violence, but rather by the global social practice in the service of or against the reformed reproduction of the system. The bourgeoisie also uses armed struggle in its war. Opposition fractions, reformists, nationalists of all kinds… have always resorted to violence and to armed struggle to defend their own interests in occupying or participating in the leadership of the state, to change its form, to impose some variation in the form or type of capitalist accumulation that will guarantee them a greater part of the increase in surplus value… Well armed though they may be, “revolutionary” as their leaders may claim they are… these struggles are nothing to do with affirming revolution against reform. On the contrary, they are the affirmation of reform and capitalist war against the proletariat and the revolution.
43b: From the proletarian point of view it is as absurd to try to socially characterise a struggle by its use of arms as it is to characterise it by its diffusion of texts and leaflets or whether or not its protagonists hold meetings or edit periodicals. Yet this confusion exists at the heart of the proletariat and plays an important role every time the proletariat reappears on the historical scene. The proletariat’s rejection of reformism and pacifism is not crystallised in a real revolutionary direction and thus tends to assimilate all that is armed and violent to that which is revolutionary. This is then exploited by reformism (armed or not). As long as the proletariat and its vanguard are unable to achieve the centralisation of their force and to develop their action, their perspective, their insurrectionary solution to the military question, this type of confusion and this exploitation will remain possible.
Moreover, given the heterogeneity of the conditions of exploitation, of struggle, of consciousness… given the enormous organic and theoretical ruptures that the proletariat has known in its own history (ruptures produced by uninterrupted decades of triumphant counter-revolution), and given the action of Capital which looks to attack and defeat the proletariat bit by bit, it is clear that during periods of proletarian affirmation it is extremely heterogeneous and discordant minorities, carrying enormous ideological weaknesses which, in spite of all weaknesses, assume a whole ensemble of violent actions and trace the perspectives of development and extension of the future proletarian struggle. In the face of this, state apparatuses and armed reformist groups (whether manipulated or not) exploit the lack of centralisation, leadership and ideological weaknesses present within these minorities, looking (and in many cases succeeding) to separate them from the proletariat by imposing a war of “apparatus against apparatus”. Ideologies typical of militarism (like the myth of “exemplary” action, the cult of “violence in itself”, of the “invulnerability of conspirators as opposed to the vulnerability of the masses”, “armed propaganda”) separate these minorities from the proletariat, its interests and its struggles. They lead to the containment of these minorities in and by capitalist war, on the basis of conceptions (such as “prolonged people’s war”) which are evidently the total and complete renunciation of the insurrectional programme of the proletariat.
43c: This liquidation of proletarian minorities, this utilisation and diversion of energy surging from capitalist society’s catastrophic decomposition, in the benefit of the maintenance of Capital and its local wars, transforms the proletariat into the cannon fodder of reformism of all types or into passive spectators, the public opinion of a war of apparatus against apparatus. All this is rendered possible by the historical period of counter-revolution, by the non-existence of a centralised leadership based on the whole communist experience and programme and which concentrates and centralises these reemergent forces, these proletarian minorities, against the whole of Capital.
With the development of crisis, and despite its tactical interest in defeating the proletariat section by section, Capital is obliged to homogenise its policies (there is only one crisis policy: increasing the rate of exploitation and completely repressing all those who resist) and this produces objective conditions of international homogenisation of the workers’ response. This situation is a necessary and indispensable condition but not sufficient for its triumph.
To triumph, this proletarian force must be centralised, it must equip itself with a leadership which can practically and adequately combine the arms of criticism with the critique of arms, which confronts pacifism on all terrains and reformism in all its forms. This leadership will thus build itself, not only against pacifism and anti-terrorism in general, but also against reformism in all its forms and particularly against armed reformism, given that as a very “radical” alternative it is specifically charged with recuperating and liquidating the most radical proletarians who are breaking from the parties and forces which traditionally control them.
44: The real communist movement, as a conscious being, as party, has been distinguished in its long historical struggle from all the forces and ideologies of counter-revolution by affirming, each time more clearly, the indissociable unity between the dictatorship of the proletariat and the abolition of wage labour. The destruction of the relations of capitalist production is necessarily a despotic activity (the despotism of human needs against the law of value) by the organised and centralised force of the proletariat imposing its class domination: the worldwide proletarian state. This state is neither free nor popular, because it does not unite different classes or strata of people. It is exclusively the proletariat organised as party and is not constructed in the interests of freedom, but on the basis of the need to repress all the forces of reaction by revolutionary terror. The various currents who, in the name of anti-authoritarianism, deny the need for any state or claim to make the state of transition “free”, “popular”, “democratic”, or in which non-proletarian forces would participate, are not only contributing to sowing confusion amongst proletarians but are objectively serving the counter-revolution.
45: The proletarian state has nothing to do with the existing bourgeois state or with a “workers’” government. The objective of the proletariat’s struggle is not to “take the political power of the state and put it to its service”, as the bourgeois state (whoever may be leading it) will continue unstoppably to reproduce Capital. Any attempt to use the bourgeois state in the service of the proletariat is a reactionary utopia and is one of the best methods of the counter-revolution for diverting the devastating effects of a workers’ insurrection against the bourgeois state and against the tyranny of value valorising itself. The struggle of the proletariat has, on the contrary, the objective of the destruction, the demolition from top to bottom of the bourgeois state and of its socio-economic power. The bourgeois state will never whither away. It is necessary to suppress and demolish it by means of violence, at the same time as suppressing the mercantile and democratic dictatorship from which it emerged and which it reproduces. On the contrary, the only state which will whither away is that of the proletariat (the “semi-state”) which, in the course of its development, consolidation and extension, abolishes itself in the very process of liquidating Capital.
46: The proletarian revolution has therefore nothing to do with taking over the leadership of the state with the aim of bringing about “social reforms”. By contrast, from its starting point to its final objective, it is a social revolution, coming from the social need to completely destroy the total power of bourgeois society (military, economic, ideological, political…) and has communist society as its objective. The revolution emerges from the separation of real human beings from their collective being (Gemeinwesen) and its objective is the constitution of Man’s true Gemeinwesen: the human being. It is obvious that this social revolution, in the sense that it requires the overthrow of the existing power and contains the need for destruction and dissolution, includes political struggle. However, when its organised social activity begins and its own objective and content arise, communism rejects its political envelope.
For this reason, proletarian revolution cannot be reduced to an economic question of management of production, of workers’ control, etc. In order to realise the organised activity of society up to the achievement of communism, proletarian revolution needs to violently destroy all the institutions and apparatuses of the counter-revolution which assure and maintain the dictatorship of value against human needs.
47: The politicist deviation according to which the proletariat is supposed to take over capitalist society’s state in order to reform society and the economist deviation according to which the problem is reduced to taking over, controlling and running production and distribution are almost always combined into one and the same “theory”. They constitute fundamentally counter-revolutionary ideologies which have, in crucial moments, served as ultimate barriers for the maintenance of capitalist society. This is why the proletariat must confront them, suppress them and bury them.
48: Obviously, before and during the whole phase of insurrection, the proletariat will take over the means of production (factories, communication centres, mines, fields…). All this activity will have to have the internationally generalised triumph of the insurrection as its central objective, firmly rejecting any illusions of managing society without the destruction of the organised counter-revolution. To this end, it is indispensable to achieve centralisation as well as the most developed organisation of the proletariat into party as possible. Only the Communist Party, solidly welded to its historic programme, can develop a centralised and centralising action which can prevent localist dispersion, self-managementist illusions, democratic federalism and exchange between independent units of production (a source of private labour opposed to social labour and therefore of mercantile reorganisation). Only the Communist Party and its centralising action can give a single direction to all proletarians and guarantee a maximum concentration of forces for the social, economic and political crushing of the counter-revolution.
49: Armed insurrection constitutes a qualitative leap in the struggle but this leap is not irreversible. Armed insurrection does not destroy the bourgeois state. This will only really be destroyed by the liquidation of all the bases which underpin it and this is not possible in one country or even a group of countries. This is why, in the proletarian bastions where the insurrection has triumphed, the proletariat will have to use the power it possesses over that part of world capitalist society to expropriate and attack Capital on every terrain (politico-military, propagandist, economic, etc.), directly taking every possible means in hand to orientate production and distribution in accordance with its needs and interests (that is the needs and interests of humanity). This implies the destruction of commodity society and wage labour. However, all these measures must be strictly subordinated to a central objective: extending the revolution on a worldwide level. Every illusion concerning the possibility of constructing a “workers’ state” (or several of them!) in the midst of the worldwide commodity-producing economy must be rejected as must, even more so, the illusion of constructing socialism in one country or group of countries. This is why it is indispensable that the centralisation and the effective leadership of the communist movement should be unique and global and that every regionalist and nationalist interest (always bourgeois) should be firmly combated, each part being subordinated to the general interests of the movement. Only the compact and organic centralisation of the world proletariat, constituted as party and fortified programmatically, numerically, organisationally and militarily in insurrectional battles, will be able to confront all attempts at capitalist restoration.
50: The proletarian revolution has nothing in common with the political “revolutions” of the bourgeoisie – neither in its objectives nor in its intermediate phases, except when it comes to the use of arms and to the overthrow of the existing power.
Bourgeois “revolutions” try to change the personnel of the government or one form of national state for another. Proletarian revolution, on the other hand, has to destroy the national state and liquidate every nation or country.
Bourgeois “revolutions” are made in the name of the well-being of the people and reproduce wage slavery for most of society. They use social terminology to better pursue their limited political ends, using universal discourse to assert the particular interests of specific minorities. Proletarian revolution, by contrast, however regional its starting point may be, however minoritarian the faction which first throws itself into struggle, however poor and politically limited its phrases may be… possesses in itself a universal social content.
Bourgeois “revolutions” are based on democracy and citizens’ rights: they start out from the necessity for one bourgeois fraction to no longer be separated from the collective being of Capital, the state and they aspire either to control or to divide up political power in the very bosom of democracy. Proletarian revolution starts out from an entirely different reality, because the collective being from which the worker is separated is a collective being with a reality and content quite distinct from the political community. This collective being, this community from which they are separated by their own work, is life itself – physical and intellectual life, human activity, human pleasure, being human. The proletarian revolution does not therefore aspire to democratically divide up power but, on the contrary, arises from the imperious necessity to liquidate this power, this democracy and everything which separates the proletariat from its humanity, from its Gemeinwesen. “The human being is the veritable Gemeinwesen of Man”.
51: To finish off, it seems indispensable to us to underline the decisive importance of the Communist Party. The proletariat cannot exist as a class or as a historical force without its constitution as party.
Calling for the party today signifies a reclaiming and reappropriation of its invariant conception at the same time as separating ourselves from all the democrats, by insisting that this central issue of the Programme is not “a problem apart”. Class and party are not two different historic entities which should be separately defined only to form a relationship later. On the contrary, they are the distinct expressions of one and the same historic being: Communism.
The essential determinations of the party cannot therefore be understood from contingent realities or one-off necessities without falling inevitably into immediatist conceptions (Leninist or anti-Leninist). These invariably define “Class” on one side (as if it were possible for this to be defined without its constitution into party) and on the other side “party” (in general defined in terms of an historic ideal) so as to later try to reconcile the two concepts, that is to “link” what they have separated ideologically. The polarisations within this immediatist democratic conception take place subsequently in the search for definitions of the “relationship” between “Class” and “Party”. In the same way, the fundamental historical determinations of the party have nothing in common either with the existence of some or other self-proclaimed “parties”, little groups which pretend to possess “consciousness”, nor with the socio-economic adding up of proletarians.
On the contrary, for us the party is communism constituted as a centralised international force. It is the indispensable condition for establishing communist society and its living prefiguration.
52: The Communist Party is therefore the organisation of the revolutionary class which will bring about communism. Its essential determinations are those which make the proletariat into a class: organicity, centralisation and a single historic leadership. Without affirming the party, even in any embryonic form, the proletariat does not exist. (“The working class is revolutionary or it is nothing”.) However, the whole process of organising into party is impossible without the long and indispensable militant work of programmatical affirmation, of consequent practice and of revolutionary preparation undertaken by communists. It is clear that the party (just like revolutions) is not invented nor created by revolutionaries. It is the necessary and spontaneous product of capitalist society itself. However, this historical necessity does not concretise itself from one day to the next into the full and complete existence of the worldwide party. The party arises spontaneously, in that it develops inevitably on the basis of a community of interests and perspectives, a real community of proletarian struggle. This inevitable fact can only concretise itself when, at the heart of this community, communism is simultaneously affirmed as its programme and leadership, prefiguring the international organ of revolutionary leadership. That is, when this historical determination specifically concretises itself in a conscious, wilful and organised action, when a compact minority of solidly organised revolutionary cadres (“the Communists”, as they are referred to in the Communist Manifesto) affirms the historical programme of the proletariat and assumes the indispensable task of leadership, not only concerning the objectives of the movement (as the “life plan” for the human species) but also concerning the strategic and tactical means for its triumph.
Revolutions and the party cannot be created. The function of revolutionaries is to lead revolutions and the party. This minority of communists is a necessary and spontaneous (in the historic and not immediate sense of the word) product of the organisation of the proletariat as a single and centralised force and is also the axis around which it realises the inversion of praxis, permitting its passage from a simple object of this spontaneity to a conscious subject of the revolution to come.
53: Communists do not, therefore, form a party separate from and opposed to other proletarian associations or, even less, to the organisation of the proletariat. They do not have specific interests which separate them from the whole of the proletariat. They do not proclaim particular principles to which they must submit the proletarian movement. Communists only distinguish themselves from other proletarians in the community of struggle of which they are a part. In the various struggles they highlight and assert interests common to the whole proletariat, independent of nationality (“the history of the International has been a continuous struggle of the General Council against… the national sections”). They always represent the interests of the communist movement as a whole during the different phases through which the struggle between proletariat and bourgeoisie passes. Practically, the communists are the most resolute faction within the proletarian struggle in all countries. They are the organ which always pushes and carries the other sectors forward. Theoretically, they have the advantage over the rest of the proletariat of having a clear understanding of the conditions, the course and the general results of the proletarian movement.
The specific organisation of communists has nothing to do with the constitution of a separate party but, on the contrary, it practically affirms the general tendency for the proletariat to constitute itself into party, to equip itself with a central organ.
It is evident that this conception of the party and of the activity of communists opposes itself radically and totally to all the democratic ideologies, some of which are worth summarising here:
The theory of communists as repositories and bearers of consciousness.
The “anti-substitutionist” theory according to which communists must not assume practical tasks within the movement (organisation and direction of action).
Finally, all the theories which advocate, in one way or another, the dissolution of the specific organisation of communists into workers’ assemblies or councils.
54: The present epoch (as well as future epochs) is one of growing socio-economic and political crisis of Capital on the international level and of irregular and difficult reemergences of the proletariat on the worldwide level. The present epoch affirms the tendency to the worldwide organisation of the proletariat, albeit with enormous difficulties given the decades of uninterrupted counter-revolution, the cracks only appearing with the great social explosions which are becoming more and more frequent. It is also an epoch in which groups organised consciously and determinedly on the basis of the affirmation of the communist programme are a tiny minority. It is a period in which the fundamental characteristics of the sectarian phases which precede all phases of real proletarian affirmation are being repeated, an epoch in which the developing community of struggle of the proletariat on a world level against Capital is only conscious of its objectives in the activity developed by a few nuclei of communist militants scattered across the globe. The activity of organising and centralising this community is and will be decisive. On the international level, the activity of the class’s real vanguard to enable this community of struggle to become conscious of its own strength, objectives and perspectives is and will be central.
This tendency towards the worldwide organisation of the proletariat, towards its programmatical affirmation and its organic centralisation confronts, and will do so each time more violently, all the forces and ideologies of the counter-revolution as described in these Theses on a partial level (although care has always been taken to expose their common essence). This tendency particularly confronts all the “bearers of consciousness for the class”, all the builders of parties and internationals who consider that the “objective conditions” are ripe and that having “consciousness and will” is enough to create the party”, the “International” and who, in practice, are acting in flagrant opposition to the community of action of the revolutionary proletariat.
55: In spite of the fact that we are living through an embryonic phase of reconstitution of the proletariat (a sectarian phase par excellence), in spite of the deficiencies, weaknesses, partial experiences and general ignorance of the activity undertaken by communist factions, the need for international centralisation, the need to build a single internationalist and communist leadership is making itself felt all over the world today, albeit in an embryonic form.
Ranged against this development are a collection of ideologies which, once again constitute the main obstacle to this tendency. In the first place, it is important to point out all the ideologies which suppose that the future “International” will arise by a simple addition of already constituted national parties. Along the same lines, there is a whole series of “creators of internationals” who, in general, have almost nothing to do with the international proletariat’s real community of life and struggle and who, through interminable theoreticist debates come up with a collection of formal principles to which they intend to make the movement adhere. They even manage to dream up a collection of ideological norms (declaration of principles) which, according to them, will guarantee against deviations.
No organisation, no product of the working class serving the social revolution, has ever been organised on such a basis. This is the classic schema for Capital’s ideological organisations, from churches to the bourgeois political parties.
In particular, all these builders of internationals are following the historical line of the Second International and its formal centre.
The international organisation of the proletariat will be the historic (and not immediate) product of the organisation and centralisation of the community of struggle against Capital, which develops practically and as such will be, once again, outside and against all those who claim to mould the movement by proclaiming a collection of ideological principles from the heights of their pedestals.
The effective prefiguration of tomorrow’s international party already exists today in the real action of a whole of not yet centralised proletarian minorities who, in the real struggle and through their successive ruptures, join the historical line of the invariant programme and the party.
56: Our little group is an expression of this community of struggle of the proletariat and emanates from its tendency towards programmatical reappropriation of all of the age-old experience accumulated by the world proletariat, a manifestation of its international reconstruction and its global centralisation.
In concrete terms, our group is the product of the centralisation of a whole of negations, ruptures, experiences of struggle and balance-sheets of defeats. This centralisation is undertaken by various comrades at various latitudes and is transformed on the basis of communist theory, the accumulated experience of generations of revolutionaries throughout the world, as well as of organized and conscious collective efforts, into a living and active force for the international centralisation of the proletariat. Thus the Internationalist Communist Group acts in a conscious and determined way on the basis of the invariant communist programme (of which these Theses are one expression) to lead the process of the constitution of the World Communist Party and the Communist Revolution.
This gigantic, age-old and invariant task of consciously and determinedly assuming the material determinations which push forward the development of the community of struggle of the proletariat will be achieved through the collective work of thousands of revolutionary cadres. It constitutes the indispensable premise for the party and the Revolution of tomorrow and is already assumed today by revolutionary groups and militants in different parts of the world.
Given the conditions from which this community of revolutionary action emerges, following decades of counter-revolution, it is now more evident than ever that this community is a practical community of proletarian needs and interests, asserted and produced in the confrontation against Capital and crystallised in the action of vanguard minorities well before it becomes a community of consciousness (even as far as the minorities are concerned). Thus, the organisation and centralisation of this community will assert itself on the basis of coordinated action against Capital (action that is already developing today in non-organised forms), necessarily opposing all kinds of criteria of ideological demarcation. Its organisation and centralisation will have an eminently practical demarcation, through struggle. Theoretical differences and discrepancies, even major ones, are (and will continue to be) inevitable at the heart of this developing community, within every group of militants who are acting to lead this process (including our own Group). The only way to resolve them will be within this community, the unique political space where discussion takes place amongst comrades.
57: To be situated today in the historic line of the party (as far as our feeble forces permit) signifies acting as the most resolute elements, those who push forward the rest of the proletariat.
To be situated today in the historic line of the party signifies acting, in the most consistent way possible, within the real community of struggle against Capital, to try to make it conscious of its own existence, of its strength, of its perspectives, to organise it and to direct it.
To be situated today in the historic line of the party signifies, with the same emphatic firmness with which we confront the enemy in all its variants (including opportunism and centrism), being comrades in solidarity with all proletarians in struggle against Capital throughout the world.
To be situated today in the historic line of the party means passionately continuing the historic work begun by communist factions to draw up balance sheets of past experiences and defeats. It means working tirelessly towards the formation of revolutionary cadres.
To be situated today in the historic line of the party is to take on board the fact that our group, like any other group of revolutionaries in the world, is a necessary and indispensable expression and structure for the constitution of the party. But this expression is not the party itself. In the development of the party, in terms of the historical arc, our group, like the others, is no more than an ephemeral episode in the life of the party and its attempts to constitute an organ of international leadership.
In the same way that the League of Communists and the International were only an episode (albeit indispensable) in the life of the party, our action and our will are explicitly and consciously led in the direction of superseding the present “small-group form”, even if it is, without doubt, an indispensable mediation for bringing about this supersession. It is idealist and reactionary to speak of the historical party without being consistent and taking on practical activity that is necessarily in the small-group form. However, it is fundamental and demarcatory to be clear that such a group is not an end in itself but rather a mediation to supersede itself.
58: On the basis of these Theses we call on all militants and revolutionary groups to centralise their efforts with our own in the struggle for the dictatorship of the proletariat for the abolition of wage labour. Within the community of struggle of which we are a part, it is not a question of totting up ideological points of divergence and convergence, but rather of effectively coordinating the common practice that we are already undertaking and which will be reinforced by this coordination. Nor is it a question of resolving the insufficiencies and weaknesses which we all carry, each for his own and on his own patch – this is impossible. On the contrary, the issue is to structure and centralise the common practice which unites us and which constitutes the adequate framework for militant discussion, to resolve the enormous problems that face us. Comrades, the necessary revolutionary leadership will clarify itself by consistent revolutionary practice in response to all levels and all plans of attack by Capital. Up until now, all so-called “revolutions” have been made in the name of science and reason and, correspondingly, their ideologists have always elaborated a list of principles with which they tried to mould the movement. This has nothing in common with the revolution that we have before us. The Communist revolution will surge from the more real and deeper necessity of real concrete human beings, the proletariat asserting its interests for a truly human life. As such, the revolution for which we struggle is and will be in complete rupture with all ideology, all science, all reason and the very idea of progress.
Comrades, let’s realise what we really are and that for which we have risen up. Let’s realise the consistent and revolutionary practice of Communism, the Communist Party.
We have to mention here that we are applying this general statement, above all, to ourselves and to the task of writing these theses. Thus, this difficult international collective work that we continue and will continue to assume has permitted, within our small group, the international centralisation of polemics and the crystallization of a whole of decisive divergences which, on several occasions, ended in resignations, exclusions, etc. Despite the sometimes virulent polemics and internal/public confrontations between various positions, the centralisation of these polemics by way of a whole of internal international structures, has permitted not only a programmatical advance for our group, but also a much sharper demarcation from the heirs of the left of social democracy. In this sense and despite the exhaustion of militant energy these polemics entailed, we consider it to be indispensable and fruitful not only for our formation as militants but also for an increasingly precise delimitation of our movement in the face of all the bourgeois parties and ideologies created against the proletariat.↩︎
Despite all the difficulties presented by formal-logical and bourgeois language, we are trying to express, in the most precise possible way, the subject of revolution at the same time as our concept of communism. For us the concept of communism is not an ideal to be applied, but the movement of destruction of the society of capital and the society resulting from this practical negation.
Contrary to what idealists believe, the true subject of the revolution is not an inspired individual wearing his conscience and his will on his sleeve. Nor is it a group of militants, even if its action in terms of historical leadership is decisive. Nor is it the whole of the proletariat seen as a group of workers. The real subject of the revolution is only the proletariat as a force constituted as a party, as a communist organic centrality that abolishes established order. Despite what social democracy may think, it is not the leadership which transforms the “trade unionist” proletariat into a revolutionary force. On the contrary, it is the proletariat as a revolutionary force which determines the creation of a revolutionary direction (not from an immediatist, contingent and localist point of view, but from a historical, general and international one).
Against the current of dominant ideology and at the risk of shocking, we can state, if we put ourselves at a higher level of abstraction, that it is not communists or the proletariat which turn social movement into communist movement but, on the contrary, it is communism as a historical movement which, for the first time in history, finds in the proletariat a truly revolutionary class capable of imposing communism as an effective negation. It is communism which co-opts the most historically decisive elements of the class, those which always put forward the interests of the whole of the proletariat as the leadership of the party and the Revolution to come.↩︎
“And finally, while the bourgeoisie of each country maintains particular national interests, big industry creates a class for whom its interests are the same in all countries and for whom nationality has already been abolished.” - Marx and Engels, The German ideology.↩︎
Notice that every time Bernstein (revisionist par excellence) comes across an argument for it, he prefers to say that it is society that has changed and that it is not Marx who was wrong.↩︎
MEW, vol. 38, pages 176 and 188.↩︎
A large number of Marxist-Leninist organisations operate such a revision, stressing such phrases as being the most essential. This allows them to “cheat” with theory up to the point of justifying nationalism.↩︎
The same kind of arguments could be developed for each of the central theses of the communist programme (negation of the bourgeois state, of democracy, of value, of frontism) by pointing out the opposition between the attitude of communists with their successive theses and the attitude of revisionism directed against them, be it shameless or not.↩︎