And When the Emergency is Over?

The measures adopted (or not adopted) by all governments in the face of the spreading Covid-19 pandemic have unmasked for the umpteenth time the true reality of the capitalist mode of production.  This pandemic, just like those that have preceded it over time, has its origins in a class structure, with all the imbalances, devastation and tragedies that this involves and continues to produce and reproduce – in the economy, the environment, in relations between individuals and in social and everyday life. Faced with such events, produced by the society of capital and profit itself, this same society then proves incapable of managing them, of guaranteeing health and security to populations who pay the price, first and foremost the proletarian population, already exploited and massacred in so many ways:  in all countries, obvious and eloquent is the case of national health services at tipping point because of violent cuts to what are unproductive expenses for capital, already in deep trouble.  Lastly, it is evident that the way “emergency" measures are, and will continue to be, applied responds to precise class interests: production and profit above all! 

 

We have already written about all this [1]. Here, we are more interested in stressing and attacking the violent anti-proletarian measures that are (and above all will be) introduced, under the guise of “emergency measures in the interests of everyone”.  But “the interests of everyone” in a society divided into classes, based on the laws of profit and competition, DO NOT EXIST!  Suffice it to think of the miserable resistance and criminal manoeuvres by which bosses and governments have wriggled away and continue to do so when faced by the determined claims of workers who have spontaneously come out on strike more or less everywhere in the world demanding that factories and workplaces be closed, in order to safeguard the health of the people who work in them.  Class interests, then: the capitalist economy first and foremost, profit first and foremost!  This is the true, repulsive class violence – everyday, hypocritical, pitiless –, which the struggling proletariat will have to sweep away once and for all, seizing power, wrenching it from a fierce and murderous ruling class, which is by now parasitical and historically superfluous.

This is not all.  It must be clear that the “emergency measures” introduced over the past few weeks will leave their mark even after the “end of the emergency”.  In a class-divided society, the ruling class learns from its experiences and will never turn back.  Precisely as it shifts from a liberal régime to a fascist one when it becomes necessary to stop the proletarian “assault on heaven” and then again, when convenient, shifts to a formally democratic one, which has actually inherited the substance of the fascist experience, so will it move from pre-emergency, to post-emergency, bringing with it all the ideology and practice of emergency: surveillance, suspicion, the stinking petty patriotism and revolting nationalistic appeal, the appeal to unity and the mobilization of  “all good citizens”, military control of the territory and the repression of dissent… And it will do so with the active, propositional and enthusiastic contribution of both the right- and “left-wing” parties, and those anti-proletarian guard dogs that are the régime’s trade unions, scared that “anger may spread” [2].

The cycle of structural economic crises that began in the mid 1970s, closing the expansive post-war cycle, has continued to affect the international proletariat for all of the subsequent decades, above and beyond the illusory, momentary and laughable little “recoveries”.  The “formulae” adopted by capitalism over these past decades (financialization of the economy to by-pass a production which, from the point of view of the average profit rate, proved to be increasingly feeble; the increasingly bulimic public debt) have merely served to swell speculative bubbles destined to burst in their turn and cause further social slaughter.  The most recent economic crisis, which opened in 2008-9, never really ended: well before the pandemic spread, in many countries recession was not a threat but a reality and it was not only us communists who were saying so but the bourgeois economists themselves, and they were saying it with open and tell-tale concern [3]. 

The capitalist mode of production is not holding together.  It can only survive by exasperating its own contradictions and preparing a new bloodbath, a new world war: the only final solution it knows for exiting (if it exits!) such a crisis and resuming a new, infernal cycle of accumulation at an even higher level and with an even greater incidence of destruction.  The pandemic has come as the recession was already ongoing in countries like Italy, France and Germany, and dealt a terrible blow to a world economy that was already staggering and fragile and whose extension and interconnections mean that a slowdown, a halt, is reverberating more or less immediately, all over the globe. When the pandemic is over, all that will be left are ruins, as after a war: never has military language become the daily bread of politicians, economists, scientists and journalists to the extent it has on this occasion!  And so we must rebuild!  And anti-proletarian politics will echo (but, of course, with even more ferocious intensity) that “rebuilding the nation” of the European 1950s and 1960s.  With the precise difference that at that time the economy was recovering after the destruction of the war years: here, instead, there is an economy that has been gasping for breath for years now.

Many firms will thus have to close and/or “restructure” drastically: consequently unemployment will soar and with it work will become more and more precarious in all sectors of production – quite far from the gig economy, that so much has been embroidered by press and politics in recent times!  Everywhere the pace of work will be increased, because “we have to catch up, in everyone’s interests”, and, with this, control too will increase, because “efficiency and productivity must come first” in post-emergency times.  The “factory régime” (in a broad sense: i.e. the rate of exploitation) cannot help but grow in what has already been defined as a “war economy”: sacrifices “for everyone”, in the sights of the “forces of law and order” and the unforgiving eye of the drones.  Repression, extended control, bans on assemblies, marches, strikes, pickets and dissent will spread and become everyday reality for millions and millions of workers.  With them, manipulation and nationalistic rallying will grow: the “We are at war!” that resounds daily now will take on new connotations – ultra-patriotic, ultra-chauvinistic, ultra-populist.  Moreover the competition of “all against all” will thus be fuelled, right up to the “war amongst the poor”, for the crust of dry bread capital will be gracious enough to leave the starving masses. And thus, in the daily routine of induced reactions, of individual and social relations, preparations for the new world conflict will intensify.  The unraveling of “historical alliances”, the inane nonentity of structures like the phantasmagoric Europe, the re-drafting of borders that bourgeois and petit-bourgeois rhetoric has presented as stable or else as now outdated, will merely accompany this relentless process. 

All this will hit anyone who fails to give in to the new emergency of recovery: proletarians increasingly in chains, the avant-garde of struggles, communists.  The bulletproofing of democracy (its substantially dictatorial nature, beneath the deceptive mask of democracy) will proceed by giant steps after the decisive ones taken in these few days and weeks, these months and years and decades: steps that, according to the logic and practice of capital, cannot acknowledge any slowdowns or turnarounds [4].

Faced with all this what becomes increasingly urgent is the real need for the revival of territorial grass-roots organizations of proletarian struggle and defense, that take responsibility for all aspects of life and work in the society of capital: living and working conditions in the broadest sense of the terms, from the pace of work and health hazards in factories and in building yards, on the streets, in the fields, to the burning, and ever-open “housing issue”, from rises in wages to the claim for a full wage paid by the state and/or entrepreneurs for anyone who is already out of work or has lost a job, from opposition to the increase in bills to that to increases in the cost of public transport...  These should be organisms that take responsibility for everything, without discriminations or hierarchies based on age, gender, origin, religion, social or political belonging and which, because of their extension and rootedness in the class (not only in one sector or another), are truly able to contrast the work of dividing the proletariat and sustaining the national economy carried out over all these decades by the régime’s trade unions.  And this is to be done by assuming all the practical and organizational responsibilities of true fighting organisms, without wasting precious proletarian energy in useless, theoretical-political pseudo-debates or – worse still – in the destructive delusion of a “union-which-is-also-a-political-party” or of a “true class union” drawn up at a desk – umpteenth revival of the foul in-between-groups typical of the ‘70s.  The progress of the economic crisis itself, the contradictions it opens up, the consequent social drifts, could inexorably push workers in all imperialist states back onto this battlefield, forcing them to equip themselves once again with stable defense structures, which in turn will constitute one of the grounds on which the battle is fought between communists and the variegated front of the reformist and bourgeois enemy [5].

But this is obviously not enough.  Over the span of a couple of centuries now, experiences of economic-social struggle have in fact demonstrated the limits of their action where they are managed in the solitude of the workers’ spontaneity:  alone, without the intervention of the communist party, not only will proletarians never manage to attain to political action (i.e. acting as a class for itself, with their own historical and political objectives), but even remaining in this context (i.e. as a class in itself, or as a mere labour force for the capitalist system), they will easily fall prey to reformism, which sacrifices them one after the other on the altar of capital, to the general detriment of their overall condition.

The need for the revival of these grassroots organisms is thus accompanied by the other urgent and dramatic need: the need for the reinforcement and establishment of international roots for the revolutionary party.  It is in the very facts of capitalism’s development, so tragically revealed in these moments of emergency, that this need makes itself felt: the need for a pole, or an organizational point of reference, able to pull it out of the quicksand both of rotten bourgeois “politics” and the social system it represents, as well as petit-bourgeois reformism imbued with utopia, illusion, smokescreens and hypocrisy.

But to “feel” the urgency of this need is not enough.  Too many believe that the (relative) absence of a revolutionary party on the present political scene can be obviated by “building it”, as if from a box of Lego: periodically gathering around a table with other groups and formations, elaborating “platforms” and “congress papers” on which to “converge”, coordinating with one mini-party or the other in a new version of the political-unionist “inter-groups” of time ago, creating phantom (popular?) fronts or bureaux or liaison offices or “tendencies”, reanimating old names or inventing new ones, believing and having it believed that the party can arise from and within the struggles, directly from grassroots organisms on which a… political-educational function is conferred.  Briefly, a do-it-yourself party, to which everyone contributes what they can: all of this, with a complete disdain for homogeneity in theory, principles and programme and above all totally indifferent to the merciless balance sheet of the past century’s history of the working-class and communist movement – the one true basis from which to depart for even starting to pose the problem of the party, as the Communist Left did in 1926, at the dawn of the most ferocious wave of counter-revolution, handing down to future generations the balance sheet of past struggles, triumphs and defeats in its “Lyon Theses” – the necessary bridge towards the future [6].  The party is not “built”, just as socialism is not “built”:  all that can be done is to enter a tradition that is fully present in the history of the communist movement, and carry on its battle, obstinately and inconveniently against the current – and that tradition is our tradition.  But, we all know: “These are mere trifles!  The crisis is pressing, we must hurry: let’s build the party without bothering about what has already been!  ‘Scurdammoce 'o passato’”, “Let’s forget the past”, as the Neapolitan folk song says.

And if the party cannot “be built”, neither can it be improvised, nor can its (dialectic) connection to the class and its struggles be improvised.  It cannot be improvised because party means first and foremost the theoretical and practical continuity of an organization, and if work on this continuity ceases, if it is not defended tooth and claw, if it is not secured for future generations (and not as a “study group”, a “handful of windbag intellectuals”, or of self-styled “free-thinkers”), that continuity is broken, wanes and is no longer of any use – there remains just the dictatorship of the ruling ideology and bourgeois state repression. The party cannot be improvised, because the only guarantee of its being able to guide the class towards seizing power and managing the dictatorship of the proletariat as the necessary bridge towards a classless society lies precisely in the formation of militant cadres, in its participation in proletarian struggles with a function that aims to be critical, directive and organizational and in the constant and profound analysis of economic and social factors (not out of an intellectual whim or for personal show or gain).  The party cannot be improvised, because the class will be able to recognize it and recognize its guidance (and thus recognize itself as a historical element and no longer just as an oppressed class), only if the party has been alongside the class in its fights, in its burning defeats or partial victories, only if it has been able to draw lessons from those fights, those defeats and those victories – only if the class has been able to identify in its militants those best suited to act as guides, in the situation of the moment and in a future perspective.  Tomorrow it will be too late: and historical experience, with its tragedies linked to the absence or delayed presence of a revolutionary party has taught us this all too keenly and dramatically.

To work, then, faced as we are with a post-emergency that promises to become a constant emergency – right up to its peak: the new world conflict that is being prepared!

6/4/2020

 

 

[1] “The Social Use of the Epidemic”,  https://www.internationalcommunistparty.org/index.php/en/2698-the-social-use-of-the-epidemic.

[2] The secretary of the Italian CGIL (the supposedly left-wing trade-union!), Maurizio Landini, recently said: “We cannot risk fear changing into anger when contagion is also spreading to the workplace”. https://www.adnkronos.com/soldi/economia/2020/03/23/coronavirus-landini-maglie-decreto-allargate-aperti-settori-non-essenziali_v1yux8JA4kf5RYT62Vm8lN.html

[3] See the articles “Note sugli effetti pratici e visibili della crisi economica in atto” and “Il virus della crisi”, on our website www.internationalcommunistparty.org.

[4] In this regard we refer to just one of our texts, amongst many: “Force, violence, dictatorship in class struggle” (1946), https://www.internationalcommunistparty.org/index.php/en/.

[5] See our pamphlets Partito di classe e questione sindacale e Per la difesa intransigente delle condizioni di vita e di lavoro dei proletari. Forme di organizzazione, metodi e obiettivi di lotta, both of which can be consulted on our website.

[6] The “Lyon theses” were presented by the Left at the III Congress of the Communist Party of Italy – Section of the Third International, in opposition to the Gramsci-Togliatti ones. They can be read on our website: https://www.internationalcommunistparty.org/images/pdf/ip/IP-14-2009.pdf.

 

International Communist Party

Informativa 

Questo sito o gli strumenti terzi da questo utilizzati si avvalgono di cookie necessari al funzionamento ed utili alle finalità illustrate nella pagina di policy & privacy. Chiudendo questo banner, scorrendo questa pagina, cliccando su un link o proseguendo la navigazione in altra maniera, acconsenti all’uso dei cookie.  Per saperne di piu'