Revolution or War n°8

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The Role and the Structure of the Revolutionary Organization (PCint-Battaglia Comunista, 1978, 2nd part).

About the Intermediary Groups between the Party and the Working Class

We publish here the last part of the 1978 text by the PCint-Battaglia Comunista (Internationalist Communist Tendency, on The Role and the Structure of the Revolutionary Organization . In our previous issue, we had accompanied each point of the two first parts of the text with a statement that our internal discussions had allowed us to adopt quite homogeneously. Thus we could state our general agreement with these points. The final part addressed here deals with the intermediary organs between the party and the working class on the basis of the historical experience of the PCint with the factory communist groups set up in the 1940s-1950s and the territorial communist groups set up more recently. It is, no doubt, on this question that the debate, which was called for by the British group of the ICT, the CWO, when it recently published this text in English, raises the most interrogations, nuances, even disagreements, within the proletarian camp as a whole and within our ranks. The ICT itself had to clarify and adapt its approach to the question over time and from experiences, as the CWO footnote to the text highlights. The ICT correctly stresses that the question of the intermediary organs are a full part of the understanding of the revolutionaries’ role and, more specifically, of the party. Whether they are organs that the party sets up on its own initiative, factory or territorial communist groups, or whether they are struggle or action committees (whatever the name they adopt), which gather minorities of militant workers desiring to organize for the class mobilizations. No doubt that both will appear and assert themselves as means of the class struggle during the massive confrontations to come between the classes. For instance, during the 2010 massive working mobilization in France, organs had reappeared such as the “interpro [for interprofessional] general assembly” which actually was not a “unitarian general assembly” of the class but a very large “struggle committee”.

For our part, while we share the political approach of the text, including this part, we are not capable today of collectively taking a position on some precise points and arguments. We continue to reflect on the “struggle commitees” (to put a label on one form of organ), which would be the direct product of the minorities of the working class and the “factory or territorial communist groups”, which would be on the initiative of the party or the communist groups. It is not a matter of opposing ones to the others of course, but to grasp the conditions and in what political framework the communists can (have the force to…) today set up the latter kind of groups. Meanwhile, we publish after this text an “internal” individual contribution to invite readers, as well as communist militants, to participate as much as possible in our own reflections and in the debate with the ICT.

The Class and the Party (PCint, 1978)

The notion that the party is only forged immediately before the revolution and even during it completely deforms the concept of the party. If in effect the class is capable of carrying through the revolutionary offensive – which demands a particular level of political homogeneity in the class without the intervention of the politically unifying factor represented by the party, then the party itself is superfluous. If it is the class which, at a certain moment in the development of its struggle “equips itself” with the party, then the latter becomes an operational instrument which has no connection with the problem of consciousness. Once again we are back at the famous theory of the councilists.

This is why, within the left communist movement it’s necessary to fight against the conception which, while recognising the necessity of the party in carrying out the revolution, postpones the constitution of the party to a “riper” period. It is based on an underestimation of the practical tasks of the party (or organisation of revolutionaries as certain comrades like to express it). We have seen that one of the essential tasks of the party is to equip itself with operational instruments which can, in the most concrete way possible, return to the class the programme of working class emancipation, elaborated by the party on the basis of the historical experience and existence of the proletariat. The formula “the party acts as part of the class in the class itself” says nothing, because all it means is that revolutionary militants are part of the proletarian struggle wherever they happen to be present and thus bring to it the critical positions and general orientations of the party. This is necessary but not sufficient if the party is to fulfil its role as a guide, unless one is saying that the party will undergo such numeric growth that it has a mass presence everywhere which contradicts the generally held idea that it is a ‘minority’ of the class.

70 years against all odds, 70 years of the PCint – Battaglia Comunista history through its main programmatic texts (in Italian). Order to the ICT :

It is a definitively acquired revolutionary principle that intermediary organs between party and class must exist for the entire period before and after the revolutionary offensive. These are organs the party uses to extend as far as possible the influence of its platform and orientations throughout the entire class. The class moves and struggles on the level of economic or, one might say, contractual demands. Only revolutionaries have a precise awareness of the limitations of these struggles, their inability to emancipate the class. Communists distinguish themselves from the mass of workers by the fact that even while they fight alongside the whole class in its defensive struggles they denounce the limitations of these struggles and use them to propagandise the necessity for revolution. Communists have to link the struggles of the class to a political strategy for attacking the bourgeois state. They must prepare the instruments which the party will use concretely to orientate the proletariat’s offensive when the whole system is in crisis and the struggle is becoming generalised.

The party would be failing in its fundamental duties – indeed it would be unable to function as an organisation of revolutionaries, as a party – if it neglected to work within the class with all the necessary instruments in the period leading up to the revolution, It would mean that, when the situation was objectively favourable, it would be unprepared and isolated from the class, which would result in the class being disarmed and disorientated.

The concrete possibility of making progress in the arming of the party is naturally closely linked to the degree of maturation of the class struggle and the real relationship in the class between revolutionaries and the agents of the left wing of the bourgeoisie. This does not mean that the kinds of tools to be used cannot be exactly envisaged in the programme of the party. The proof of this is that the ‘internationalist factory groups’ envisaged in our programme, and which must be an integral part of the platform of the international party whose creation we want to contribute to, may have a difficult life today, but in other times they have had an enormous importance (from 1945 to 1948 for example). Their task is not to simply ‘incite the struggle at the economic level’ as certain comrades seem to believe, but to transmit to the class the general political principles of the party, solidifying a sympathetic layer of the class and creating a reference point for future revolutionary struggles. The difficulty of the present situation, the low level of class consciousness, is reflected in the enormous difficulty of strengthening and extending this workers’ network. But if we miss out this point in the programme, putting it off to better times, we will render ourselves incapable of carrying out our duties when the time is ripe, since we will lack the cadre and the experience which the party can only develop through a long and combative presence in the working class.

Among the instruments which the party must equip itself with in its work towards the class and towards the revolution, the network of factory groups is the most urgent and important, but others must be studied and prepared [6] even though they don’t yet seem to be necessary owing to the numerical weakness of revolutionaries and the unpropitious political situation. On the other hand, other organisations, such as the ‘communist youth’, must be considered products of a previous phase in both bourgeois society and the revolutionary movement and are thus now superfluous.

We reaffirm the principle that there is no class party without the instruments which really link the central organisation of the party to the class; those who underestimate or deny this affirmation are not working for the party.

1. The dialectical relationship between the class and its party does not disappear or go through qualitative changes during the seizure of power and the construction of the proletarian ‘semi-state’. Both are only possible when the class is concentrated and united around this objective.

2. The proletarian ‘semi-state’ will be characterised by the soviet form discovered by the proletariat itself during the experience of the Russian revolution. The gradual disappearance of classes carried out by the practical revolutionary movement of the proletarian masses will be accompanied by the mass production of communist consciousness and, consequently, by the gradual disappearance of the party.

3. The party will in no way identify its own structure with the structure of the “workers’ state”, but will accomplish its role as a political guide as long as the class recognises its own interests in the orientations it defends.

4. The need for groups of the communist left to deepen their understanding of the problems of the transition period must begin from the clear and fundamental affirmation that without a party there can be no revolution and proletarian dictatorship, just as there can be no proletarian dictatorship and workers’ state without the workers’ councils.

Internationalist Communist Party (Battaglia Comunista), October 1978