One of the most difficult questions about revolution is why in the entire 1900s did none of the revolutions actually take place in an industrialized country such as the
. There was an attempt in both US Turkey and Greece after World War II, but they were trumped by intervention. There was the uprising of 1968 in US France, but the official sanctioned Communist Party opposed it. USSR
Since then nothing close to that has happened. So I am posting this piece by the (new)Italian Communist Party & CARC Party. They may be able to shed some light on revolution in the Western part of the world. -សតិវ អតុ
Commune (18th March – 27th May 1871) Paris
and the socialist revolution in imperialist countries
(in La Voce, n. 38, July 2011)
and the socialist revolution in imperialist countries
(in La Voce, n. 38, July 2011)
This year is the 140th anniversary of the Paris Commune.
With the Paris Commune, the working class seized power for the first and so far only time in one of the present imperialist countries. His 140th anniversary is a great opportunity to take stock of the progress the communist movement has made and to weigh it up, in order to better frame the work we are doing now, in the terminal phase of the second general crisis of capitalism and verify, in the light of our history, our conception of the world and our line to establish socialism in Italy, which is one of the imperialist countries.
The communist movement in the modern sense, the communist movement we are speaking of and we are part and protagonists of, began in western Europe in the first half of the nineteenth century, about 200 years ago.(1) Its first manifestations on major scale were the Chartist Movement (1838-1850) in
Great Britain and the worker movement of the nineteenth century in . The revolt of Lyon in 1831 and especially the uprising of France Paris in June of 1848, which was crushed by French republican bourgeoisie with executions and deportations decimating the proletarian population of , were the expressions of this worker movement with major historical role. Paris
The communist movement was officially founded with the publication of the Manifesto of the Communist Party written by Marx and Engels on behalf of the Communists’ League in February of 1848, in the eve of European bourgeois revolution.
Since then there has been a long time when compared to the life of a human being and evaluated with the aspirations of the protagonists of the communist movement. This is however a brief period when measured on the scale of the transformations that the human species has gone through in its multimillennial evolution.
This is enough to establish that those intellectuals who talk about the “death of Communism” misrepresent reality. They do it because of not confessed purposes related to the particular interests of the classes of which they are spokespersons. They deduce the “death of Communism” simply from the fact that the communist movement has not yet made the social transformation that is its objective and that the founders of Marxism have clearly indicated in its broad outlines, basing themselves on the understanding of the laws that have governed the multimillennial evolution of the species and of the preconditions of the future placed by the bourgeois society that was the more advanced result of that evolution.
Between 1989 and 1991, the first European socialist countries and among them the
Soviet Union, arrived at the bottom of the decline that began in the 50s. They decomposed and returned to a large extent in the world imperialist system. Then, in the U.S.A., the country center of the world imperialist system, the ideologue gave the world the cry of triumph of the imperialist bourgeoisie: “The history is over.” He wanted to announce and proclaim the final victory of the bourgeoisie and the advent of his unchallenged millennial reign, after the great fear aroused by the first wave of proletarian revolution that in the early part of the twentieth century formed the first socialist countries in some major countries (mainly Russia and China) on the edge of the world imperialist system, created the communist parties all over the world and destroyed the old colonial system. Fukuyama
It was not the first time that the apologists of capitalism did such resounding proclamation since the first half of the nineteenth century, when the communist movement began to contend with capitalism for the power. When they are on their way out, the ruling classes pluck up courage and try to demoralize the classes that challenge its power, proclaiming the reasons for their supremacy consecrated by tradition but close to its end. They try to prove that the system of social relations which provides for their rule is the only in accord with human nature. In order to do it each dying class defines human nature in the image and likeness of the typical individual of the social system it defends and negates the values of the class against which it defends itself. So the feudal nobility and the clergy did against the bourgeoisie of
Europe until the end of the nineteenth century. At that time, when the Pope Leo XIII was reigning on Catholic Church, just the Paris Commune, despite its defeat, terrorized the clergy and the bourgeoisie of Europe. That terror moved the clergy of the Christian countries and the bourgeoisie to join their forces in a common struggle against the communist movement. Still today a multicolored array of professors of human nature and apologists of capitalism that goes from Pope Ratzinger to repentant communists like the Italian Costanzo Preve, repeats the same theory, but now referred to the capitalist system.(2)
The communist movement in the modern sense of the term
What is the communist movement in the modern sense of the term? It is the movement of the working class created by capitalism, the oppressed class of the modern era that mobilizes and organizes itself and struggles to emancipate itself from the bourgeoisie. Communism is the system of social relations of the society that arises from the conditions created by capitalism. The working class has not created the communist conception of the world but, for many reasons, among all the oppressed classes it is the most ready and willing to assimilate it on a large-scale, that identifies itself in it, that is able to make it its own and take it as a guide in the struggle it carries out against the bourgeoisie.(3)
This excludes the direct continuity and even more the analogy between the Communism we are fighting for and the various forms of communities that have been aspects and forms of the various pre-capitalist social systems, stages of the multimillennial evolution of the human species. In fact, the modern communism grows on the basis of the following three conditions:
1. elimination of the relations of personal dependence (of the individual from the community where it was born, from slave owners, landowners, priests, etc..) characteristic of the societies that preceded the bourgeois society,
2. the affirmation of individuals as protagonists of the social life of the human species, produced by the mercantile economy generalized by capitalism,
3. stable and definitive victory of the human species in the fight to get out of the rest of nature what necessary for its own survival and progress (the domination of man over nature).
These in brief are the key conditions on which the future communist society grows, all three created by bourgeois society. The common ownership of means of production and their management by the association of workers, shaped so that the free development of each individual is the condition for the free development of all, are the fundamental traits of the communist society that will replace the capitalist society, its division into classes and its class antagonisms.(4) Just because of these characteristics, the communist society does not grow spontaneously (that is, as a result of the men who act in conformity to the dominant - that is bourgeois - conception of the world and in the ambit and with the institutions of bourgeois society). It cannot be achieved without some level of consciousness and organization of the working class and of the popular masses, without a certain progress in the elaboration of the communist conception of the world and of its assimilation by the masses. These two factors are not formed spontaneously in the same bourgeois society and must therefore be built with a specific work carried out in the very bosom of bourgeois society, as factors necessary to overcome it.
It follows that the communist movement is divided into two parts: the conscious and organized communist movement that promotes the transformation and the rest of the working class and the popular masses who performs the transformation under the direction of the first, although by its nature this transformation can only be done on the necessary basis of the experience of the working class and of the masses themselves. The oppressed class is divided into two parts (one directing and one directed), but so related that they create the conditions to overcome the new division in the new society without a State.(5) The nature of communist society determines to a certain extent also the way of his being done, very distinct from the way in which bourgeois society has been done: a truth which was discovered by Engels in the late nineteenth century, in taking stock of the communist movement of the nineteenth century (Introduction to “The class struggles in France from 1848 to 1850 “- 1895).
The socialist revolution and the peoples oppressed by the world imperialist system
The understanding of the progress made by the communist movement is complicated by the fact that, in the wake of the communist movement of European workers, also those peoples who have not done democratic revolution on their own account, but were still colonized and subjugated by the European bourgeoisie, mobilized themselves. In this way they entered the evolution of the human species that the bourgeoisie has set in motion. In its turn, the European bourgeoisie has become “the Christian West” because European countries were joined by the colonies populated by Europeans, particularly the
, which as a result of two World Wars roused by the European capitalist powers have become the center of the world imperialist system. Humanity unified itself in its process of evolution not because all peoples have done a path similar to that of the European peoples. It unified itself because the European bourgeoisie involved the other countries putting them to the fire and the sword of its colonial system. By the power of its trades that dissolved the old relations of production, the European bourgeoisie upset the system of social relations in which each one of them was arrived on the basis of its own historical development. Around the turn of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, driven by its first general crisis for absolute overproduction of capital, it has forced and dragged all the peoples into the vortex of the world imperialist system that has divided the world into a small number of imperialist powers opposed to the oppressed countries where most of humanity lived. U.S.
It was a form of unification of the world that the founders of the communist conception of the world had not taken into account: they had not considered the possibility that the socialist revolution in Europe could delay even though the objective conditions were already ripe (a certain degree of development of the productive forces and a certain level of concentration and proletarianization of the population under the orders of the bourgeoisie). That is to say, they did not considered that, just because of the delay of the necessary revolutionary change, capitalism changed entering its imperialist phase. But just the fact that, despite this, the clash now involving all humanity is the clash between capitalism and communism is the grand experimental confirmation of the communist conception of the world as science of the evolution of the human species.
Today the human species is unified by a common destiny and mobilized in a single movement all over the world. The communist conception of the world illustrates the meaning and nature of the common movement, the contradictions that determine it and the line of march in which the human species must be developed to provide a solution to the contradictions that move it.
Consequently, the social influence the bourgeois Left exerted in these years is deeply harmful. ”Bourgeois Left” means all the groups and individuals who oppose the present course of things, but in their criticism of this, in their proposals and their intentions, they do not see beyond the horizon of bourgeois society and its system of social relations: so, by their nature all these groups and individuals reject the communist conception of the world. However, today their influence is great in the imperialist countries, given the weakness of the conscious and organized communist movement, which has not yet revived after the exhaustion of the first wave of proletarian revolution. That is why the Communist Party must make a great effort for educating its members and candidates on the communist conception of the world. Anyway, this is an imperative condition for its consolidation and strengthening. Only through the study and assimilation of the communist conception of the world, the Communists make themselves able to lead the working class and the masses beyond the struggles for claims, to the construction of communist society.
The role of the revolution of peoples oppressed by the world imperialist system
The forms and timing of the transformation of bourgeois society in the communist society were deeply marked by the involvement in this process also of the countries where the capitalist mode of production had not yet become the dominant mode of production. In 1881 the first Russian Communists asked to Karl Marx, the acknowledged founder of the communist conception of the world, whether the rural community in Russia, the form still remaining at the end of the nineteenth century of the original common possession of the land, in his opinion could be transformed directly into communist form of possession of the land without going through the same process of dissolution, which had constituted the historical development of Western Europe. Marx had studied deeply the history of the development of European societies and the nature of Russian society of his time. Considering the state which the evolution of Russian society and its economic and cultural relations with capitalist countries were arrived to, he said that, if the announced democratic revolution in Russia had served as a trigger to the socialist revolution in Western Europe, so that the two should combine and complete each other, in this case it should had been plausible that the common rural property still existing in Russia could serve as a starting point for development of Russian society towards Communism (Preface to the Russian edition of 1882 of the Manifesto of the Communist Party). The role that Russia and the Soviet Union actually played in the first part of the twentieth century during the first wave of world proletarian revolution is illuminated by this view of Marx, even if the revolutions in the two parts of the world had combined, but without completing each other because the communist movement has not established of socialism in any imperialist countries.
The Paris Commune has been so far the only case of conquest of power by the working class in a capitalist country. The communist movement has achieved its greatest success in countries with a peripheral role in the world imperialist system (“weak link of the imperialist world system”) or that were part of the oppressed and dependent countries: mainly
Russia with its vast Tsarist Empire, and . During the first wave of proletarian revolution in the first part of last century, the Soviet Union and the People’s Republic of China have in different ways and at different times in the world played the role of red bases of the proletarian revolution. But the communist movement has failed to establish socialism in any of the imperialist countries. This had also a prejudicial effect on the development of the first socialist country that today in different times, sizes and forms are come back within the world imperialist system, completely but still in a contradictory way as for Russia (6) and to some extent for China (7). China
1. When on the eve of European bourgeois revolution of 1848 Marx and Engels drew up the Manifesto of the Communist Party, they spent the chapter 3 to establish clearly the distinctions between Communism as they were understanding it and the various Communisms and Socialisms propagandized in the current literature of the time. Today it is necessary we Marxist-Leninist-Maoist Communists distinguish clearly the communist movement we are dealing with, and of which we are members and protagonists, from Communisms and Socialisms in fashion. Here we will not do, however, a detailed examination of the latter. We just indicate two big families: the socialism of the XXI century and the market socialism.
The propagandists of “socialism of the XXI Century” are using the prestige of the anti-imperialist movement in
Latin America headed by Hugo Chavez to smuggle shapeless mixtures in which, in different doses in each case, there are the following ingredients:
1. the not proclaimed denial of the experience of the first socialist countries and of the heritage of the Communist International (founded in 1919 - formally disbanded in 1943 and dissolved in fact in the late 50s), which is “only” set aside and ignored in the name of a “true socialism”, about which they are vague in the manner typical of most of the opportunists and revisionists,
2. to waive the establishment of socialism and the confrontation with the reactionary forces justified with an assessment of the relations of force that magnifies the power of the world imperialist system (“the enemy is too strong, you cannot do more than what Venezuela and Cuba are doing, etc.. “),
3. the return to a supposed state of nature that each author invents, adding characters of primitive people he chooses at his will and separating them as he likes from the characters he does not accept but that in fact pertain to those peoples; the author emphasizes those peoples in the name of the resistance that they, in the wake of the impulse that the first wave of proletarian revolution has given to the progress of the classes and oppressed peoples, have begun to oppose their destruction by the world imperialist system. Here in
, a leading representative of such mixtures is prof. Luciano Vasapollo, authority in the theoretical work of the Italian organization Communists’ Network. Italy
The supporters of “market socialism” strengthen their position with the economic and political success of the People’s Republic of
and of the Chinese Communist Party and the still incomplete integration of the PRC in the world imperialist system. They tout a socialism that is reduced to the public planned management of economic activity, neglecting the struggle against the division into classes and against the complex of social relations, ideas and feelings related to this division and the struggle for the establishment of socialism worldwide. For these supporters of “market socialism” is negligible that the PRC and the CCP with the reforms promoted by Teng Hsiao-ping at the end of the 70s have left 1. in international relations, every aspiration and attempt to play the role of the red base of the world proletarian revolution and, 2. inside, the struggle to affirm the direction of the working class on the basis of public ownership of means of production. In China , exponents of this trend are within the Party of Communist Refoundation, in the Party of Italian Communists, and elsewhere. Italy
2. In this context, the argument about human nature is spread again. Such argument is an old training ground for metaphysical philosophers and for priests. Basically all the metaphysical philosophers in one way or another claim that the human species and all other species were created by god in the mists of time. According to them, each species has its own character, fixed and unchanging over time. The species would not transform themselves. The metaphysical views are contradicted by the discovery and study of the evolution of species. The existing species arose from other species. In particular, the human species has undergone major changes over the millennia, both physically (that is to say, of characteristics observable and measurable by the instruments and processes of physics, chemistry, biology and similar sciences) but most of all in terms of spiritual abilities and activities of its exponents, of their organization and social activity and of their organization and their relations with the rest of nature. The practical value of the disputes of metaphysical philosophers on human nature is essentially in the support they bring to the argument that Communism is impossible to achieve because is a system of social relations incompatible with the human nature, which in its turn is something created once and for all by god and revealed and governed by its priests. We Communists on the contrary think about human species studying its manifestations and historical works and reconstructing its path and its characteristics by this study. It makes sense to speak of human nature only if it is understood as a combination of characters and abilities that changes over time and is historically determined.
3. The relationship between the communist conception of the world and the struggle of the working class for its emancipation from the bourgeoisie has been studied and described by Lenin in What Has To Be Done?, 1902. In this work Lenin also denounces the ideological influence of the bourgeoisie which is the origin of the trends occurring in the communist movement to neglect the communist conception of the world and to conceive the struggle of the working class on the basis of the bourgeois conception of the world, reducing it to struggles for claims and protests. These trends are still one of the two major obstacles to the new birth of the communist movement: it is the economism of which even groups that declare themselves Maoists, as Proletari Comunisti [Communist Proletarians, or Maoist Party of Italy] make a display.
4. In 1852, in a letter dated 5th March to his comrade Joseph Weydemeyer, Marx summed up his work by saying that what new he had done compared to the previous science of human society developed by bourgeois intellectuals, was “to show
1. that the existence of classes is purely linked to certain historical phases of development of production;
2. that the class struggle necessarily leads to the dictatorship of the proletariat;
3. that this dictatorship itself is nothing else than the transition to the extinction of all classes and to a classless society.”
5. In this regard, see The Political Order Of Socialist Countries http://www.nuovopci.it/eile/en/in090812.html
6. In fact, the
Russian Federation still does not fully recognize the supremacy that the has gained in the world imperialist system: this makes it an unusual member of the world imperialist system, in which, however, it occupies an important place on the economic and political level. Let’s compare the difference between the position of U.S. Russia and that of Germany: a great imperialist country, the largest trading power, etc. but where, not by chance, substantial forces, settled more than 60 years ago, still are stationing. What we say about U.S. Germany is also true about . The Japan and other former socialist countries are still in the third of the three phases through which the first socialist countries undergo, listed in the Manifesto Program of the (n) PCI (see Chap. 1.7.3. in http://www.nuovopci.it/eile/en/in080619.html). Russian Federation
the state, local governments and cooperatives’ property still today is more than 80% of the productive forces, however these are measured. These productive forces are controlled by political authorities as part of a plan and “the quantity makes quality”, although there is an area of approximately 20% of the productive forces that are privately owned by Chinese or foreign capitalists. The People’s Republic of China after all is still today in the second of the three phases through which the first socialist countries undergo, listed in the Manifesto of the program (n) PCI (Chap. 1.7.3. in http://www.nuovopci.it/eile/en/in080619.html). China
8. The Antithetical Forms of Social Unity were described by Marx in the Grundrisse. See Manifesto Program of the (new) Italian Communist Party, chapter 1.3.4 in http://www.nuovopci.it/eile/en/in080619.html.
9. I refer in particular to The Four Main Issues To Be Debated In The International Communist Movement, (see http://www.nuovopci.it/eile/en/f-issues.html) and Let The Communists Of The Imperialist Countries Unite Their Forces For The Rebirth Of The Communist Movement (see http://www.nuovopci.it/eile/en/lethecom.html).
10. “The communist movement has not yet embraced the notion that the revolution does not breaks out, but has to be built as Engels already stated in 1895 in the Introduction to Class Struggles in France from 1848 to 1850. Both in the time of Second International and in the time of the Communist International most of the parties waiting for the revolution to break out developed activities supporting claiming struggles or propaganda of socialism. From this there arose the two wrong tendencies that still persist as the major elements that put a check on the new birth of the communist movement, that is economism and dogmatism.
We share the conception expressed by Frederick Engels, who stated that socialist revolution cannot consist of a popular uprising that breaks out because a combination of circumstances, during which the most advanced party seizes the power. (…) the socialist revolution is a protracted revolutionary people’s war led by the communist Party one campaign after another, during which the communist party strengthens and consolidates, collects and forms the revolutionary forces organizing the advanced elements of the working class and of the other classes of the popular masses, as well as in its own ranks, in mass organizations which clump around the party (revolutionary front), and builds, extends and strengthens step by step a new direction on broad popular masses, a new power which is opposed to that of the bourgeoisie and hugs him in a growing vise until it supplants it, as a rule through a civil war roused by the bourgeoisie when it is with its back on the wall, grabs the whole country and establishes socialism.” (The Four Main Issues To Be Debated In The International Communist Movement, see Note 9).