The necessity to revise the experiences of the
past and to work out the present experiences
by the light of the theory of the long lasting popular revolutionary war
(Article from La Voce del (nuovo) Partito comunista italiano, n. 18)
The article Political struggle and vindicative struggles by Nicola P. in La Voce [The Voice, N. D. T.] n.14 has opened a debate followed by the articles Revolutionary politics by Ernesto V. (La Voce 15), About the second front of the rivolutionary politics by Rosa L. (La Voce 16) and The necessity to distinguish between universal laws and particular laws of the long lasting revolutionary popular war by Umberto C.(La Voce 17). This debate has given a general vision of the course followed by the first wave of proletarian revolution in the single countries and at a worldwide level on the whole, and it has showed the strategy that we must consciously follow during the second wave of the world proletarian revolution and particularly for the next socialist revolution in our country.
I add some remarks that I believe will help the lectors of our review to better understand the content of our debate and its importance.
Dealing with marxism, Lenin (The three constitutive parts of marxism) distinguished the philosophy of the Communist movement (the principles and the general laws got from the whole of the natural sciences and of the social sciences, abstracting from the contents and from the particular laws of every science: the dialectical and historical materialism), the economical doctrine of the Communist movement (the contradictions and the laws of the capitalist way of production, which the struggle for the communism develops from) and the socialism (that is to say the nature, the contradictions, the laws and the methods of the movement that transforms the bourgeois society into the Communist society, the theory that guides the Communists in their action to set up the socialism and to march toward communism). Then the Socialism is a particular science. It is the fruit of the working out of the experience of the working class’s struggle for taking the direction of the present society and for guiding its transformation into the Communist society, for emancipating itself and the whole humanity from the bourgeoisie.(1) Like every science, also the socialism does not fall from the sky, it is not an innate knowledge, it is not a some genius’ fruit. It is the working out of the proletarian revolution’s experience that the Communists have carried out till they have found relationships, laws, principles which govern it. Then it is a science that the Communist theoreticians have constructed in the course of the time through verifications, errors and corrections. Till now Marx (1818-1883), Engels(1820-1895), Lenin(1870-1924), Stalin(1879-1853),Mao Tse Tung (1893-1976) have been the main elaborators of the Communist thought.
One of the thesis of socialism is that the socialist revolution, if considered in its comprehensive course, from its beginning until to its victory, from the formation of its first organized Communists’ groups until the introduction of the proletariat’s dictatorships (that is to say from the beginning of the socialist phase the phase of the popular masses’ transition from capitalism the communism under the direction of the working class) is a social phenomenon that, owing to the contradictions that constitute its nature, owing to the relationships among them, owing to its development and to the laws that govern it, owing to the methods by witch it is carried out, it rather belongs to the kind of the military campaign or better still to the kind of the war than to the kind of the electoral campaign, or to the kind of the struggle between two parties in the contest of the bourgeois regimes, or to the kind of the trade union struggle or of the commercial negotiation.
That is the conclusion that we have drawn from the consideration of the socialist revolution’s experience, of the almost 160 years passed since the publication of the Manifesto of the Communist party (1848). From this conclusion we draw the indication that the Communists must study the military doctrine, the military art and science in order to give right solutions to the problems of the fight to establish socialism. All the great leaders of the Communist movement have done it.
The lack of interest of a Communist party for the military doctrines is a almost sure sign that that party is not rightly developping its role, and this apart from the fact that in that phase the party would or would not have its armed formations. The war is not, and sometimes neither mainly a matter of weapons. It is a particular relation of antagonism among human groups: families, tribes, peoples, classes.
The fight to establish socialism is a war among classes: the working class wants to take the direction of the rest of the popular masses (it can emancipate itself from the bourgeoisie’s subordination only emancipating all the humanity), the bourgeoisie tries at any cost and by all means to mantain the power conquered years ago taking it away from the nobility and the clergy.
The working class can conclude this war among classes with the bourgeoisie’s elimination, but the bourgeoisie can’t conclude it with the working class’ elimination. The bourgeoisie lives exploiting the working class, it can not do without it, and so it regenerates continuously the working class . The bourgeoisie can only impose some truces by inflicting heavy defeats to the working class’ organized forces. Those defeats can be due to the bourgeoisie’ strenght or to the mistakes of the working class’ organized forces. There is the course of the war on single countries’ level and the course of the war on a world level. The two movements are separated, but they influence themselves mutually.
The revolutionary popular war is the science of this particular war. It has been fully elaborated by Mao Tse Tung but referring to the particular case of China. Today it depends on us to elaborate it both as Italian Communists as regards our country and as members of the international Communist movement on a world level. Like every science this is a fruit of the elaboration of the past experience and it gets more and more rich when the experience and the the experience’s balance advance. Its verification is in the fact that by its light the connection among all the elements of the past experiences which before seem accidental and disconnected appears clear, and in the fact that thanks to it we can guide our work with greater success.
On the grounds of all the experience elaborated by the light of the Communist conception and of the analisys of the present situation carried out by the dialectical materialism, today we know that the working- class will establish its own State, the dictatorship of the proletariat, leading a long lasting revolutionary popular war until victory.
Let’s have a look at the past experience.
Once the Communists have clarified as to anarchists and as to any other kind of social reformers that the working-class had to take the political direction of the society in order to emancipate themselves from the subordination to the bourgeoisie in the civil life (in the trades, in the contrasts and in the relationships of the every.day life), they put themselves this question: how could the working class seized the political power (how could it established its own State?) (2)
Leaders and parties in the international Communist movement give different and divergent answers to this question. Repeated fights between two lines and divisions of the one in two followed one after the other in the Communist movement. The Communist movement has given more and more true answers with the progression of the experience and of the experience’s balance.
Until the time of the Paris’ Commune (1871) Marx and Engels answered that the working class would have seized the power or it would have established its State (the distinction between the two theses became clear only thanks to the experience of the Paris’ Commune and it was explained by Marx in The civil war in France and in The critique to the Gotha’s programme) in the course of a popular revolt: the Communists would have taken the power as the more advanced exponents of the popular insurrection.
In 1895 F.Engels clearly made a self criticism on this answer, in the Presentation of the new edition of the Marx’s pamphlet, The classes’ struggle in France since 1848 to 1850. He asserted that the working class would succeed in establish its power only after a phase of accumulation of the revolutionary forces in the bosom of the bourgeois society.
He indicated this revolutionary forces’ accumulation in the work done by the second International, and particularly in the activity of the German Social Democracy (GSD), the model party of the second International. This one took part in the political bourgeois struggle, it promoted the organization of many associations of category and of many other mass organizations (cultural and sporting organizations, cooperatives, etc.), it carried out an active work of workers’recruiting and of ideological, political training and in political organized work. Its parliamentary force grew up from one election to another. This was the revolutionary forces’ accumulation. Engels was aware that the conquest of the power by parliamentary way was impossible. The bourgeoisie would have turn the parliament and the general elections upside down when it should be in dire straits. However Engels postponed the conquest of the power to an unspecified working class’ answer to this break of its own legality that the bourgeoisie should have sooner or later carried out. Nevertheless F. Engels refused the line of the "legality at all costs" several times, not only in relation to the behaviour and to the practical action, but also in relation to the propaganda of the party.
In 1891 (when the GSD was elaborating the Programme of Erfurt) Engels on his own initiative published the Critique of the Programme of Gotha which Marx had written in 1875, but that the leaders whom Marx have directed it to had hidden for scruples of legality in order to avoid the severity of German State’s law.
It is not by chanche that the question on how the working.class could seize the political power (on how it could establish its own State) put itself to the Communists in a more spread and pressing form, at the beginning of the Twentieth century, at the dawn of the imperialist era of the capitalism, that is the era of the bourgeois society’s decline and of the rising of the socialist revolution. The Communist movement needed a more advanced, a more true and clearer answer.
The leaders and the parties who at the beginning of the Twentieth century didn’t ask themselves this question were backward, fanciful, superficial leaders and parties. They eluded the current, pressing, decisive problems of the Communist movement: they searched for butterflies while the shortage was at the gates. So it was for the second International on the whole with the exception of the Russian Socialdemocratic Working Party (RSDWP) guided by Lenin. When with the outbreak of the First World War (1914) there were created the conditions in which the forces accumulated must be engaged for a war’s more advanced phase (today we should say that they had to pass from the phase of the strategic defensive to the phase of the strategic balance), almost all the parties of the second International did not show themselves capable of coping with the situation. They retreated. They had accumulated forces without bearing in mind the passage to the war’s next phase, without a sufficiently right strategic view. They were forces inadequate to the passagge to the next phase. In almost all the countries, the right wing ended up at the bourgeoisie’s disposal. The left wing too had to retreat and it had to begin again from the phase of the revolutionary forces’ accumulation. In many countries and at a world level on the whole the Communist movement, the working class, and the popular masses dearly paied for the superficiality of the second Internationnal’s leaders and parties.
However some leaders had openly asked the question and they have tried to give answers to it by getting it from the experience.
The reformists and the revisionists, Eduard Bernstein (1850-1932) and other people, the right wing of the second International, answered that the working class would have seized the bourgeois State, by taking part with his party in the bourgeoisie political struggle as a party among the other ones of the bourgeoisie political system, and they would have made it working in their favour and in favour of the rest of the popular masses.
They denied that the bourgeois democracy was a government made to bourgeoisie’s measure, they asserted that it was a democracy for everyone. All the more they refused to see that the bourgeois democracy had really stopped to exist and it had left the place to the militarism (as then it used to say), to the preventive counter revolution, as we say today. Their answer on the way to follow for conquering the power essentially reflected the activity that the greatest part of the parties of the second International really made, in particular, the line that the GSD practically followed.
Just because he denied the changing that had happened in the bourgeoisie’s political regime, also Karl Kautsky (1854 - 1938), which as well set himself against the Bernstein’s revisionism, asserted (see his writing The way to the power of 1909) that the GSD would have seized the power through electoral and parliamentary way, "unless the bourgeoisie did not break its legality".
Kautsky in 1909 put this reserve, so much probable was the possibility, but he did not make proposals in case the bourgeoisie should break its legality, as in 1914 it really happened everywhere the socialists refused to obey to its orders.
Rosa Luxemburg (1871-1919), an authoritative leader of the GSD, took place against Bernstein and Kautsky.
Already in 1900, with her intervention in the Paris’ Congress of the second International, Luxemburg said: "At the beginning of the socialist movement it was generally supposed that a wide economical crisis would have marked the beginning of the end, the big defeat of the capitalism. Now this assumption looks much less probable. On the contrary, it becomes more and more probable that a wide world political crisis will strike the latest hour of the capitalism". It is clear that Rosa Luxemburg believed that the end of the capitalism would have been a single world event. In spite of the evident different economical political and cultural development of the various countries, Luxembourg thought that the world unification that the imperialist system was creating for the first time was already carried out. Therefore she excluded that in the beginning the working class would have established the socialism in one or in some more countries, and that the socialist revolution would have triumphed all over the world only through the gradual growth of the countries in which it was triumphing.
Later, by considering the experience of the first Russian revolution (1905 1907) which also personally she had participate in, Rosa Luxemburg worked out again her answer. She sustained (see her writing Mass strike, party and unions of 1906) that the working class would have seized the power by a political general mass strike (that is to say a strike not only carried out by the organized part of the proletariat, but a strike in which that part would have been dragged a great part of the popular masses). Luxemburg tried to consider the experience, but she saw it by the light of the way of thinking of the anarchic-syndacalists. She realized that the GSD was not able to bring the working class to seize the power, but she solved the problem by appealing to the masses’ spontaneous initiative, instead of solving it by the fight to form a party up to its duties, able to accumulate revolutionary forces fit for passing to the next phase of the war. She asserted that "the mass strikes, the political mass struggle...[ they can came only from]... a real and firm action of the revolutionary class, which could earn and lead in its own way the great sectors of the popular masses not organized but revolutionary for frame of mind and condition ". Faced by the question which were these "frame of mind and condition" arising from, she answered that they were "the simple result of the direct revolutionary action of the masses. In short: the revolution was made by the revolutionary masses, and these ones became revolutionary because they made the revolution. It was a vicious circle. If Rosa Luxembourg would have admitted that the "real and firm action of the revolutionary classes" that drags on its way great masses not organized, could not come from the not organized masses themselves, but that it is the organized part of the proletariat and of the popular masses that carries it out, she should have to dispute the GSD itself and to admitt that Lenin was right on the crucial role carried out by the the Communist party.
Besides she should also have to recognize that the preparation of the organized part of the proletariat and of the popular masses was different from one country to another and that, but only for this fact, also the conquest of the power wouldn’t be simultaneous in all the countries.
Lenin also drew the balance expressed by the Luxembourg’s statements that I have quoted from the experience of the first Russian revolution, but he just sustained that the "real and firm action of a revolutionary class" that drags on its way the great not organized masses, is done by the organized side of the proletariat and of the popular masses, and then this must be formed so as to be able to carry it out. The accumulation of the revolutionary forces consists exactly of the collection and of the forming of this organized part of the proletariat and of the popular masses. They, when determined conditions turn up, are able to lead the rest of the popular masses towards a revolutionary action that establishes the new power. In short the accumulation of the revolutionary forces consists of the construction of the Communist party suitable to its revolutionary duties and in the construction of its mass organizations already in the bourgeois society. Nevertheless Lenin dealt this one as a particular law of the Russian revolutionary movement , and at once he did not understand that this law was an universal law. Only after 1914, after the betrayal of a part of the second International, and the powerlessness of the other one, he began to realize that it was an universal law (see The bankruptcy of the second International of 1914 and On the subject of Junius’ pamphlet [that is to say of Rosa Luxemburg] of 1916).
As to Russia, Lenin asserted that the working class of the Russian empire would have seized the power by creating a worker-peasant revolutionary government as the synthesis of the leading organisms of the popular masses’ revolt, first of all of the workers and of the peasants, against the Tsarist regime. But he mastered so well the materialistic dialectics, that he gradually learnt from the revolutionary experience. Lenin found solutions suitable to the nature of the Russian revolution both after the revolution of February and the phase of the strategic balance, and afterwards, when he realized that from the West the proletariat would not come to help the Russian revolution, but on the other hand, the political crisis prevented the bourgeoisie from giving a decisive help to the Russian counter revolution, and then that there were the conditions for a revolutionary offensive limited to the Russian territory. Stalin followed him on this way, the socialism was established in the first country, and during almost 35 years, he got together an enormous load of experience of problems and of solution of those problems themselves. With the victory in Russia, but at worldwide level, the revolution had passed in the phases of the strategic balance. It had a territorial basis and its own armed forces. In the world, the forces of the revolution and the forces of the counter revolution confronted themselves and no one of them was able to destroy the other one. This period continued until the end of the second World War. During this period thanks to the work done by the first Communist International and thanks to its parties the forces of the revolution increased till to conquer the superiority.
In November 1957, at the end of the first Conference of Moscow, that collected 76 Communist parties of as many countries, of which twelve at the power, Mao Tse Tung made the balance of the socialist field’s constitution, of the downfall of the colonial system and of the current revolutions in various colonial countries, and of the strenght that has been reached by the Communist parties of the different imperialist countries; and then he declared: "Now the wind of the West does not prevail on the wind of the East, but it’s the one of the East that prevails on the one of the West " (see :To the Chinese students in Moscow, in the vol.15 in the Mao Tse Tung’s Works) There were the conditions because for the Communist movement to go on, the offensive at world wide level.
But the revisionists had already obtained the power in the Communist Party of the Soviet Union and in other Communist parties, so they did not want to have anything to do with it. In spite of the struggle carried out by many Communist parties, among which in first place the Chinese Communist Party, the Communist movement began to slacken its progression and then it began to decline. This confirms that not to do the possible and necessary steps forward means to go back. The same thing happened in Italy , after the victory of the Resistance.
Today we are again, however at a superior level, in the phase of revolutionary forces’ accumulation. Among other things this superior level consists of the fact that we lead the forces’ accumulation rich in the science accumulated by the balance of the passed experience and able to draw further teachings from that experience, thing of which those who dissociate themselves from the Communist movement deprive themselves, whether they realize it or not.
In particular nowadays the indispensable role of the Communist party is clear to us. Therefore we firmly oppose ourselves to every plan of revolution without a party because it is condemned to defeat.
Today the indispensable role of the popular masses’ mobilization is clear to us. Therefore we firmly oppose ourselves to every plan of revolution without the mobilization of the popular masses.
Today it is clear to us that the revolution will be a long lasting process and that it will pass through many stages. Therefore we firmly oppose ourselves to any plan of conquest of the power in the short-term and at the same time during every phase, we carry out the things in order to be ready and able to pass into the next phase, as soon as the necessary conditions will be ready, and according to our means we do the necessary to create those conditions. The discovery of the universal laws of the revolutionary popular war is a duty of the whole international Communist movement.
Furthermore what concern us is the discovery of the particular laws of the popular revolutionary war for our country and the practical condition of this glorious war, step by step and phase by phase, till the foundation of the socialism.
1. There is a substantial and politically determining difference between "improvement in the material, moral and intellectual conditions of the popular masses" and "emancipation of the popular masses and first of all of the working class from the subjection to the bourgeoisie and generally to any exploiting classes and therefore with the extinction of the division of the humanity in classes". After the Second World War in our country the revisionists have gradually transformed the Communist movement from a movement struggling for the working class emancipation from the bourgeoisie into a movement struggling for the improvement in the material, moral and intellectual conditions of the popular masses.
Generally a child of a well off family enjoys of very good conditions of life, and so does a generous and philantrope master’s slave, but no one of them is emancipated. Both the one and the other depend on the parents and on the master respectively. This examples clears the qualitative difference between improvement in life conditions an emancipation.
With regards to USSR at a certain point Trotsky objected that the workers were living worse than the dealers, the kulaki, etc. Lenin and Stalin protested against this conception. They pointed out that the key factor was that the Soviet workers were in power and so, owing to it, they decided to subject some population’s classes and social strata to their own aims and their own direction giving them privileged life conditions and incomes. On this subject also Gramsci directly attacked Trotsky. The Lenin’s writings in the years 1918 1923 are full of considerations regarding this question.
Kruscev and his accomplices took again the Trotsky’s conception: the important thing was not the emancipation, but the life conditions. So everybody can see where the life conditions of the workers of URSS are ended.
2. These two formulations ( "to seize the political power", "to establish its own State") involve deep differences. The first one, more clearly and precisely expressed, means "to seize the bourgeois State and to use it for our aims". The second one, more clearly and precisely expressed, means "to establish our own State at the place of the bourgeois State, sweeping the bourgeois State away". This difference was well expressed and resolved in favour of the second answer by Lenin (in State and revolution of 1917) theoretically and by the experience of the first wave of the proletarian revolution, by the empirical experience practically. Even if by chance and by a mix of events the working class could seize the bourgeois State, this State is not suitable for functioning as an instrument for popular masses’ emancipation from class’ oppression and for the extinction of the population’s division in classes. So the imperial, papal or feudal power was not able to function as an instrument for the expansion and the consolidation of the mercantile trades, of the individual freedom and of the bourgeois equality. This happened although the difference among them all was less, because in every one of these cases there was an organization with which a minority oppressed a majority of the population within the society divided in classes.