WHAT DISTINGUISHES OUR PARTY: The political continuity which goes from Marx to Lenin, to the foundation of the Communist Party of Italy (Livorno, 1921); the struggle of the Communist Left against the degeneration of the Communist International, against the theory of „socialism in one country“, against the Stalinist counter-revolution; the rejection of the Popular Fronts and the Resistance Blocs; the difficult task of restoring the revolutionary doctrine and organization in close interrelationship with the working class, against all personal and electoral politics.

Reformists of every kind (all “ex” or “post” today, seeing as Stalinism has done with its deceit and has at last come clean as to its democratic vocation for bourgeois preservation, coalescing not only with the social democrats but with all those political corporations looking to fill the capitalist mode of production with “humanity”) have always delighted in presenting the revolutionary as being rather edgy, violent in nature, hot under the collar and leaning towards impatience. They concord that the revolutionary party is a “shotgun” organization whose members – lacking anything resembling a theory, a clear cut programme or tactics – are simply intent on “destroying everything”, “burning it all up” and so on and so forth.

And by offering this ignorant, stupid vision of revolutionary communism’s duties and objectives on the proletariat (i.e., on all those forced to sell their physical or mental labour), the reformists exploited in earlier times the presence of anarchist groups in the proletarian ranks and, today, mixed bags of a much more comical bent, whose scope has essentially been to create confusion by advancing ostensibly ultra-radical requests, capriciously antagonistic arguments and even by resorting to occasionally irresponsible terroristic militarism or armed vendetta.

So the expedient employed to pass off the revolutionary communist as an “anarchist”, a “visionary” or a “terrorist” is as old as the hills. Lenin and his Bolshevik party were labelled “anarchists” by social democrats of the time. And that is what today’s social democrats and assorted reformists are trying to pass us off as too. In reality, communism is revolutionary for altogether different reasons – reasons that instil sacrosanct terror in democratic (or fascist, it matters not) supporters of the capitalist mode of production. Underlying the Communist Party’s commitment to the need for a violent class struggle and the dictatorship of the proletariat is a scientific vision of social reality; and it is the self-same scientific vision that qualifies the reformist as an agent of the ruling class among the ranks of the proletarian movement.

The Communist Party Manifesto of 1948 begins by declaring that history is “the history of class struggles” and that, up until that time, this struggle had always ended “either in a revolutionary re-constitution of society at large or in the common ruin of the contending classes”. For real communists this is a fundamental concept: the development of the productive forces determines the division of society into classes that cannot help but be in conflict with one another because their material interests are irreconcilable. More than simply failing to eliminate the division of society into classes, the capitalist mode of production actually takes this division to its extreme: society is divided into two opposing factions. On one side the proletarians, deprived of the means of production and possessing only their labour power – the mental or physical ability to work, as we never tire of stating; on the other, the bourgeoisie, that possesses the means of production, i.e., the monopoly of property belonging to companies, be they individual, joint stock companies, or trusts (multinationals), cooperatives or even state run companies. Hence the ease with which the bourgeoisie manages to exploit members of the proletariat: it extorts extra work from them (i.e., unpaid work: everything that exceeds the costs incurred by the maintenance and social reproduction of the proletarian class, understood simply as economic data), and this is called profit, which serves not only to “reproduce” capital itself, but also (as becomes increasingly evident in the imperialist age) to maintain those who do nothing productive in terms of work and who fill the plethora of the half classes.

Put simply, in order to survive, one part of society is obliged to sell its labour power to the other, which lives with the extra work it extorts from the first. Clearly, the interests of the two classes are incompatible: those who work and those who live off the work of the others can share no common interest. Far from being unique to capitalist society, this situation is common to all social formations that preceded it (or at least after the phase of primitive communism, when private property and the division of society into classes were unknown).

Division of society into classes

At the time of primitive communism, society wasn’t divided into classes. Human work wasn’t highly productive (hunting, fishing and harvesting) so all able members of a given community had to work in the area of immediate production. Children worked, the elderly worked (men and women were entrusted with “cultural” and “educative” functions, i.e., the transmission of the productive and reproductive experiences of the group to new generations; and, in many cases, those with greater expertise would be charged with taking decisions of a more general nature) and women worked, as their lives were not – contrary to popularly held opinion – simply subordinated to and boundaried by reproduction. Work, then, was carried out by all members of the group according to their natural abilities and possibilities; similarly, all other tasks were performed by those most suited.

As far as the work product was concerned, it belonged to the entire social group, and every individual consumed according to their needs and the overall availability. When conflict arose with another group over the use of a harvesting ground (in a broad sense), those belonging to the defeated group were either killed or absorbed by their victors: everything depended on the immediate availability of the products.

The revolutionary discovery of agriculture (soon followed by the domestication of certain animal species) saw human work now capable of producing more than whatever had served immediate consumption, and class divisions started to appear. On the one hand, the greater availability of products meant that members of other tribes defeated in war could be absorbed within the social group. Instead of killing their captives, victors assigned them productive work to do in their place (and indeed, relative technical progress meant they were able to produce enough not only for their own survival, but also to maintain their masters). On the other hand, general functions that had once been communal became the prerogative of only a part of the group. For example, it’s obvious that while those defeated are assigned tasks that are immediately productive for the rest of their days, the use of weapons is reserved to the victorious group, as indeed are the general tasks of direction – so called intellectual work.

And it is at this point in human history that the State as a political organization makes its appearance.

The State

What is the State? Certain general administrative and directional tasks of the social group already existed at the time of primitive communism, but they were usually carried out with very little differentiation among the group members. Generally, whoever belonged to a certain group was simultaneously a gatherer and a warrior, a beancounter and a shaman, or at least – out of principle – none of the useful social functions were denied to him. So, in the distant past, there was a kind of State that could be equated with the social group itself, and it is the collective expression of all the coordinated productive and reproductive “operations”.

However, when the aforementioned division comes about, the State is no longer identified with society; those charged with productive work are no longer called upon to take and carry out general decisions, and the State takes on another role that is completely unfamiliar: oppression and repression by one part of the social group to the advantage of another. And this is the specific characteristic of every State that has existed up to now, including the “democratic” bourgeois State. Indeed, as Engels has it, the State exists as a separate entity from society, elevating itself to a level above it precisely because it must carry out a repressive role. As long as society is divided into classes, the State will continue to exist; by the same token, when there is no longer anyone to repress, the State will disappear too. Or rather, its functions will be absorbed anew into the totality of functions of a purely administrative and coordinating nature involving the production and reproduction at hand.

The situation is clear for all to see. Under primitive communism all the effective members of a group use instruments for fighting, gathering or hunting. The warrior is nothing different or separate – his function needs no particular recognition; he has no special powers over the rest of the group; everyone is able to perform his role and, effectively, do so. But when one part of the group is assigned exclusively to productive work, and another lives off this work, the warrior figure becomes a figure unto itself, and his role function becomes complicated: while he carries on with the established tasks of attack and defence against other social groups, he also takes on the armed defence of his own group’s social structure. From this moment on, organizations of armed men serve to maintain particular social relations that allow one part of the group not to work while forcing the other to work for the first.

As with the army, so with all the other functions.

Hence the State becomes an empowered apparatus that assists the ruling class in its efforts to repress the exploited class and, according to the definition in the Manifesto, it is “the administrative committee of the ruling class’s interests”. Whatever its shape, size or complexity, the State thus always represents the dictatorship of one class over another; it can be neither “free” nor “democratic”, nor “of all the people”; it is always dictatorial and oppressive, and all the more oppressive when it proclaims itself to be “free” and “democratic”.

The essence of democracy

What then is democracy? Democracy was invented in Greece in the 6th century BCE, and the first democratic State in history was created in Athens. The Greeks themselves had determined that this new concept of State was synonymous with political liberty, so what did it actually consist of? In a nutshell, this: it guaranteed freedom to various factions of the ruling class, but negated this freedom to the dominated class. Class division, as we have defined it, was already present in Athens: one part of the population lived in conditions of slavery and carried out productive work while another part exploited the work of the slaves. Yet the ruling class was, in turn, made up of different social stratas – the great landowners, the small-to-medium sized peasant landowners, shop-owners and artisans – whose only point of common interest was the servant class. All these classes exploited the work of the slaves, yet they could come to no agreement as to the division and destination of the over-production they extorted. It was precisely because of this dispute that the need arose for a democratic State form. Each strata of the exploiting class wanted to have a say in the way society was governed and, in order to make its voice heard, it had to fight against the others, control them and reduce their level of influence. The kind of State that closed a blind eye to this reciprocatory battle to divide up the prey and, at the same time, upheld the subjugation of the exploited class, was none other than the democratic, representative State.

In practice, we can see things as follows: the artisan, the shopkeeper and the landowner all exploit the work of the slave, i.e., they steal a part of the product of his work; but if the State, (by which we mean the armed decision-making power) were solely in the hands of the landowner, the other two – the artisan and the shopkeeper – would be forced to hand over their share of the swag to him. Thus they claim the “freedom” to take part in the running of public administration, and to speak freely and take decisions “according to the interests of the city” (i.e., those of the artisans, shopkeepers and landowners). The only solution to a problem couched in these terms is a State “of the people as a whole”, that is, a State of all those belonging to the ruling class; it is “freedom for the people”, i.e., for all parts of the ruling class, and so on.

Hence democracy means “freedom for those who exploit” and for their dictatorship, which is totalitarian and represses those who are exploited. The difference between ancient democracy and its modern bourgeois counterpart lies in the fact that the former openly declared its allegiance to the ruling class, and failed to grant civil or political rights to the slave; the latter, on the other hand, which came about in the wake of two thousand years of Christian philistinism, denies the exploited any real rights while at the same time proclaiming that all men are “born free and equal” in its various constitutional bills and papers. Indeed, unlike the slave-owner of ancient times, the modern bourgeois is not content with simply exploiting his salaried workers, but expects them also to fight his wars, all the while proclaiming that if he exploits them, he does so “for their own good” and in accordance with “the mandate with which he has been democratically entrusted”.

The modern bourgeois democracy – to which reformists of all shapes and sizes are willing to pledge allegiance with every saintly breath they take – also came about as a State of the ruling class, dressed up in the garb of a State “of all the people”. And so it remains. In medieval times, the landowning nobility exploited the work of serfs and town-based artisans, and a State was created befitting this end: the feudal monarchical State. As the modern bourgeoisie that avails itself of salaried work gradually took shape, it expected some kind of State representation, triggering the process that led initially to an enlightened – albeit absolute – monarchy and, later, to a constitutional monarchy. The bourgeoisie did indeed exploit salaried work, but it was the feudal nobility that held the power, and it was they who reaped the rewards. So, clearly, it was in the interests of the bourgeoisie to create a “representative” State in which it would have a political role to play alongside the feudal nobility. The ascendancy of an increasingly emboldened bourgeoisie continued unabated and it was eventually to find itself in possession of all the wealth (i.e., all the fruits of the labour of the exploited class that derived from the new way of organizing work “invented” and monopolized by the bourgeoisie). At this point, what was required was a Republic. This was a form of State that would definitively exclude the feudal classes (by now “unproductive” and parasitical – and therefore obstacles to full capitalistic development): the Republic would represent solely the interests of all the various bourgeois components. Yet since the bourgeoisie needed the active support of the proletariat during its struggle to consolidate its State, this had to be represented not in its true colours (the guarantor and matrix organization of the bourgeois mode of production) but as an institution that represented the interests of “the entire nation”. In other words it maintained that all men were equal before the law because they were born equal, and that its State would have signified freedom for all “citizens” who were able to participate in the administrative and decision-making processes by means of delegatory and representative suffrage.

In actual fact, as Marx reveals in Das Kapital, the game is rigged: the bourgeoisie monopolises the means of production and the product of labour, i.e., it possesses the capital (of which money is an expression), while the proletarians possess only their labour-power and are forced to sell it every day in order to receive the godforsaken wage that serves to buy that part of the product of labour which constitutes the (unstable) whole of its means of sustenance. All men are “free”, explained the bourgeoisie, and this was what it told itself too. And freedom could be expressed principally in the right (or potential right, to be more accurate) to private property: this is the true, sacred bedrock of bourgeois society, and its inviolability is guaranteed by the State of the bourgeoisie. So the only real freedom for proletarians is reduced to the right to sell their “property” (i.e., their labour-power) to the class that monopolises how it is used in conditions of corporate slavery. It would be more accurate to say that the proletariat is free to die of hunger if no-one buys its property, as it only has scant reserves and guarantees the bourgeois State a monopolistic use of the means of production – this is what lies at the very heart of its being an instrument of class oppression.

As an underlying principle of the State, this means that it necessarily becomes an organization that defends the propertied class against the attacks of the non-propertied classes, protecting the bourgeoisie and capital against the proletariat that attacks bourgeois property. And the constitutions of all the bourgeois States enshrine and regulate the inviolability not only of landed property but also the private ownership of every means and process of production, and the complete appropriation of production.

So if farm hands, in whatever corner of the world, occupy the lands belonging to a landowner (including those that are state-owned), they violate property and must be repressed by the State; if workers occupy a factory, they violate private property and must be jailed; and, paradoxically, if they organize a picket during a strike that prevents others from entering, they violate the property that workers have in their labour power, and must therefore be punished; if they organize a road block, they violate the right of citizens who wish to use that road, and may be fired upon, and so on. The only liberty proletarians may exercise in the “free democratic State” is that of deciding how they want (or how they’ve been led to believe they want) to dispose of the only thing they own: their labour power. However, given that this can be applied solely to the means of production (monopolized by the bourgeois class), the only thing they can do is to rent out this power to the bourgeoisie. Otherwise, precisely, they die of hunger.

The dictatorship of the proletariat

So, the democratic bourgeois State is “a machine to oppress the proletarian class”, and the elections staged to see who will govern this State are little more than a means “of establishing every two or three years which member of the ruling class will represent and oppress the population in parliament” (Lenin). If the State is a machine to oppress the proletarian class, it means that it can’t be used by the proletariat to bring about the impotence of bourgeois power. It defies belief to imagine that the bourgeois class would allow a pacific transfer of State power into the hands of the proletarian class by way of elections. And it would be even more absurd to imagine the proletariat being able to exploit the self-same instruments that safeguard, guarantee and promote the bourgeois monopoly of products and the means of production, in order to disrupt that monopoly or “convert” its uses and aims. The bourgeois State cannot be conquered, and neither can it be “infiltrated”: it must be destroyed and replaced with an alternative instrument – a practical and scientific thesis that has been confirmed and verified historically by communists (Paris 1871 and Petersburg 1917). So the communists negate the hare-brained thesis that when the (more or less radically) reformist parties gain half plus one of the votes (or, as an anarchist thesis would have it, the “abstentions”), the workers “will have the power”, affirming rather the pointlessness of conquering the bourgeois State. Instead the foundations need to be completely dismantled, and another state organization put in its place – a direct expression of the armed proletariat class. We have seen that the State is a machine, in other words an instrument that can serve a determined use: and the bourgeois State is the instrument that serves to guarantee the accumulation of Capital and, therefore, the oppression of the proletariat. This instrument has been purpose-built and articulated in a particular way so that its functions may be carried out: it would be impossible for it to pursue a different or opposite function, it can not be used in bump-starting the substitution of the accumulation of capital with the socialization of production, distribution and consumption (i.e., the abolition of the market, salaried work and production for companies), and thereby rendering vain any attempt at bourgeois resurgence.

The constitutions and the bourgeois civil and penal codes, for example, have arranged for sanctions against anyone who violates private property. How could they be of any use when it comes to expropriating (no refunds allowed) bourgeois properties? The body responsible for the meting out of justice is the bourgeois magistracy For decades this well-oiled machine has been drilled in the (more or less lenient) repression of crimes against property – crimes committed by proletarians (naïve, needy or acutely aware that the law is only a refined form of authority, a threat in the hands of those wielding the greatest power) who, with their robberies and burglaries (privately, just as bourgeois thought would have it), put into practice that redistribution of income so beloved of the reformists. How can anyone seriously believe it could be of any use to repress precisely those who wish to oppose the social expropriations while at the same time continuing to safeguard the appropriation of the labour of others. The same applies to the army, the police, bureaucracy, whatever – every cog in the wheel, large or small, of the bourgeois State. The proletariat can have no truck with an instrument of this nature: it has no choice but to destroy it and revamp another State on (not from!) the rubble that remains, another type of machine purpose-built for a different use: that of quashing the bourgeoisie and destroying the capitalist mode of production!

So why is democracy loved and defended by the reformists? Why do they no longer represent the true interests of the proletariat (i.e., overcoming the capitalist mode of production, destroying it at its roots), preferring instead those stratas of better paid workers and the so called “half-classes” (especially the urban petit bourgeoisie, intellectuals, techies, the freelancing professionals of nothingness and all those who make a living from the redistribution of income socially expropriated from the proletariat by – you guessed it – the bourgeois State). Their interest is in keeping the democratic system alive, in order to be able to claim certain improvements in the distribution of the surplus value obtained through the exploitation of proletarian work, passing it off as something eternal, like the establishment of a permanent reserve. And it is in the defence of democracy and reforms, as in the defence of peace, that these stratas identify the defence of their benefits – be they a mobile phone, a high salary, a house, a piece of land, shares in an investment fund, healthcare or the possibility of having their children study – and they bandy this about among the proletarians as an effective system of value, thought and lifestyle. With this they bear out the meticulous communist affirmation that the dominant ideology in a class-divided society is still and always the ideology of the ruling class: and the ideology is the solid fact that the ruling class, via the distribution of its meagre surpluses, can present itself as “general class” – that which represents the interest of everyone!

The proletariat represents interests of an altogether different nature: the working class will only be able to unburden itself of exploitation and need once it has quashed at its roots the present social set-up, and subjected all classes in society to its firm rule, until such time as the conditions for their disappearance have been fully met. The proletariat is revolutionary in this sense only. It expresses and uses an organization and a doctrine that are radically antagonistic and revolutionary during its struggle; it criticizes, battles against and destroys “democracy”, “peace” and “freedom” because in a society divided into classes under the capitalist mode of production, such terms are mere illusions, evanescent mirages that serve to conceal the reality of bourgeois rule. Assisted, accompanied and guided by the communist Party during the day-to-day struggle, this is how the grounds for the class war are prepared: on the path to international unity, victorious insurrection, and for the dictatorial exercise of its power, denier of all bourgeois forms of freedom.



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