Why has the communist movement not established socialism in any imperialist country?
The failure in establishing socialism in the imperialist countries has given rise not only to the apologies of capitalism developed and propagated by the bourgeoisie and the clergy, but also to the reflection of the Communists. Why has the conscious and organized communist movement failed to establish socialism in any of the imperialist countries during the first wave of proletarian revolution?
The first wave of proletarian revolution was first developed as an antidote to the general crisis of capitalism for absolute overproduction of capital. It was not the result of the direction of the conscious and organized communist movement in the class struggle that was going on in most developed bourgeois societies. It was the result of the efforts by the conscious and organized communist movement in the upheaval and world wars generated over more than thirty years (1914-1945) by the imperialist bourgeoisie to deal with that crisis.
Facing the fact that Communists had not established socialism in any imperialist country, some have drawn the conclusion that they had not done it simply because it was not possible to establish it (in accordance with the view that it is possible only what actually happens). The objective conditions of the establishment of socialism were really accrued in the present imperialist countries at the end of the nineteenth century but, according to them, thanks to the exploitation of the oppressed countries, the imperialist bourgeoisie corrupted the working class and the popular masses of imperialist countries in various ways and therefore reduced their ability to fight so much that made impossible the establishment of socialism.
This explanation has been very successful because it was an explanation seemingly simple though absurd of the experience (the conception that it is possible only what is, does not explain the movement). Besides, it was quite beneficial for those who bring the bourgeois influence within the working class and the popular masses of the people, those who are against the revolution. Such explanation complied with their mentality and their personality: so, it had the support of the right wing of the communist movement, and more or less directly by the bourgeoisie itself. It was also consistent with the economicistic and determinist interpretation of Marxism: according to this interpretation the socialist revolution is not generated by the conscious and organized communist movement, but breaks out by force of the contradictions of bourgeois society. Although the role of conscious and organized is not completely denied, it is relegated to a secondary role.
This economicistic, deterministic and spontaneistic interpretation of Marxism is a conception that drives the revolutionaries guided by it to failure and just because of this it is an aspect of the influence of the bourgeoisie and the clergy within the communist movement: they are interested in the failure of its efforts. We Communists say that are the human beings who make their own history, although they certainly did not do so arbitrarily, but based on assumptions that are found as products of the history behind their back, acting in the circumstances in which they find themselves and in accordance with the laws of the transformation they must do. Their freedom is greater the more they know the nature of the world they must transform and the own laws suitable for the work they have to do (in brief: freedom is the consciousness of necessity): so as it happens in every other human activity, in every profession and trade. Marxism, the communist conception of the world, is the science of the transformation of bourgeois society in the communist society and the theory that guides the conscious and organized communist movement in its action that transforms the world.
Because the Communists in the imperialist countries have not elaborated the communist conception of the world up to the task that had to carry out!
Nevertheless, the communist conception of the world is, like all sciences, work of the human beings. The Communists must not only apply it. Even before, they need to prepare it and develop it up to the work that have to do: to build a skyscraper needs a building science more developed than that needed to build a little house. That is why we say that to be a Marxist does not mean to make the exegesis of the works of Marx and of other leaders of the communist movement (“what Marx really said”, etc..). Marxists are those who draw from the experience the science of the struggle of the working class that emancipates itself from the bourgeoisie by building the communist society. The conscious and organized communist movement has not established socialism in any imperialist country, not even during the first wave of proletarian revolution, when because of the first general crisis of capitalism the bourgeoisie itself upset its systems in each country and its system of international relations and threw the whole world in even two world wars lasted a total of more than thirty years (1914-1945). This was mainly due to the fact that Communists did not elaborate the communist conception of the world up to the task they had to carry out. Bourgeoisie and clergy’s interests conspired with the natural ignorance (that is to say congruent with the nature of the oppressed classes) in which the ruling classes keep the oppressed classes (“you are not paid to think”, “here politics cannot be carried out,” etc.. etc..) and with the dogmatism and laziness of many communists even honestly devoted to the cause of revolution who, however, reduced Marxism to the exegesis of texts and to a religious faith in the dogmas, while in practical action, even though heroic, they were following their nose, according to common sense (that is, staying within the limits of protests and claiming struggles). The great influence of the Soviet Union on the communist movement in the imperialist countries and the aspiration “to do as in Russia,” have helped in this way the theoretical inertia of the communist movement in the imperialist countries and its own shirking its duties.
What are the main topics on which we base our response?
There are two sets of arguments.
1. The thesis of the corruption of the working class in the imperialist countries contrasts with the facts
The first set of arguments is that the explanation that rightist and lazy (dogmatic) people give contrasts with the facts. They use some aspects of reality in a such one-sided way so that to produce a complete distortion of reality.
Is it true that during the first wave of proletarian revolution, the bourgeoisie and the clergy have corrupted the workers and popular masses in the imperialist countries with the superprofits they got from criminal exploitation of oppressed peoples?
Criminal exploitation of oppressed peoples was and is an undoubted fact of the world imperialist system: only the first wave of proletarian revolution has to some extent, for some time, in some countries lessened the criminal exploitation of oppressed peoples. Even today, while the bourgeoisie bustles about proclaiming the “economic boom” of the Brics (
Brazil, Russia, India, China, ) and of other “emerging markets”, what really happens in these countries, leaving out the large differences between them, is a fierce class differentiation. In each of these countries a handful of new rich formed. They ensure the cruel enslavement of the masses and the exploitation of country’s natural resources for the benefit of the imperialist bourgeoisie, to slow down the new general crisis of the world imperialist system. At the same time the conditions of the mass of the population are worsening in each of these countries and even old forms and conditions of life of an important part of the population are destroyed (primitive accumulation of capital, expulsion of the population from its countryside, urbanization and migration). South Africa
Anyway, let’s consider the history of the popular masses and of the working class in the imperialist countries along the 140 years since the bourgeoisie of the French Republic in the spring of 1871 suppressed the Paris Commune, killing about 23,000 insurgents and deporting about 40,000 (and it was the second time during the nineteenth century that the bourgeoisie decimated the proletarian population of Paris).
Between the end of the Paris Commune and the outbreak of First World War (1914), forty three years passed. The conditions of the vast majority of the masses in the imperialist countries were such that nobody, not even the right wing of the socialist parties (so then the parties of the conscious and organized communist movement were called) dared to say that the workers could and should be consider themselves satisfied. On the contrary, the right wing was promising that in time conditions would get better. A part of these rightists, even contradicting themselves, went even so far to urge the peoples of the colonies to be patient because they would be freed by the establishment of socialism in Europe (these were roughly the theses of the Second International, up to the Manifesto of the International Socialist Congress in
– 25th November, 1912). Basel
In August 1914 there began thirty one years of world wars and the Nazi and Fascist dictatorships, which reduced Europe to a heap of rubble and killed and maimed tens of millions of people in Europe alone.
The war ended in 1945. From then to now we have had in
Europe sixty six years without large-scale wars at home. The first thirty years (1945-1975: the “thirty glorious years”) were devoted to the reconstruction and development higher than before the war and with a real improvement in living and work conditions of the mass of the population of European countries (the famous conquests wrung from the bourgeoisie in the period of “human face capitalism”). This was the only period in which the facts might support the right wing’s argument that the socialist revolution in Europe has not been done because the bourgeoisie had lessened the contradictions of class and had corrupted (bought) the working class and the popular masses with concessions on a large scale.
In the mid-70s the bourgeoisie in all European countries (and other imperialist countries, including the
) has started to eliminate the conquests of civilization and prosperity that the masses wrung in the past thirty years. The history of the last thirty six years is contemporary history. For nearly thirty years, the imperialist bourgeoisie was able to make gradual the deterioration of popular masses’ living conditions in the imperialist countries with a series of measures hinged upon the Antithetical Forms of Social Unity(8), upon the financialization of the economy, upon the increase of the unification of the world on economic, monetary and financial level that took advantage of the global supremacy of the U.S. imperialist bourgeoisie, upon the integration of the first socialist countries in the imperialist world system, but most of all taking advantage of the corruption and dissolution of the old communist parties and of mass organizations (trade unions, etc..) connected to them. The conscious and organized communist movement has returned to the lowest levels of 150 years ago, on the negative side with the lessons of the defeat and on the positive side with the legacy of good ideas, feelings and experience of the first wave of the proletarian revolution. Taking now into account all the imperialist countries, we see in each one of them what we see in our country: in no country there is an authoritative direction (for prestige and for links with the mass of workers) that has learned the lessons of the first wave of proletarian revolution, and on this basis is promoting the socialist revolution. And without a proper direction the socialist revolution cannot be carried out. U.S.
I think that nobody can deny a scenario so outlined. Based on such a scenario, which support has the thesis that during the first wave of proletarian revolution, let’s say up to 50s of last century, in the imperialist countries the socialist revolution has not been done because of the concessions that the bourgeoisie would have done to the masses? Two world wars and Nazi and fascist dictatorships are the “concessions” that the bourgeoisie has at that time done to the working class and to the popular masses of the European countries!
2. What the communist parties of the imperialist countries had not understood about conditions, forms and results of the class struggle
The second set of arguments is that today, a posteriori, Communists’ limits are clear. We are talking of the limits of the left wing of the communist movement, that is of the part most devoted to the cause and most heroically dedicated to it, in the understanding of world history and of the laws of its transformation. We summarize briefly the main ones: their description is given in detail in other documents of the Party(9).
2.1. The form of the socialist revolution. The socialist revolution, by its nature is not a revolt of the popular masses that outbreaks and during which the communists, who better than others represent the interests of the masses, seize the power and implement the transformation that are in the interests of the overwhelming majority of population. Also the left wing of the communist movement more or less clearly conceived the form of socialist revolution in this way. This is a fact. The discovery announced by Engels in 1895(10) was not taken into account and even less developed in the decades that followed, until in the international communist movement about 30 years ago, mainly thanks to the impulse of the Communist Party of Peru, it was stated that Maoism is the third higher stage of the communist conception of the world: one of the main contributions of Maoism is the protracted revolutionary people’s war as a universal form of the proletarian revolution (see for details The Eighth Discriminating Factor in http://www.nuovopci.it/eile/en/discr8/firstprt.html or the Manifesto Program (new) Italian Communist Party in http://www.nuovopci.it/eile/en/in080619.html). The revolution did not break out, and this is another fact. Only a more advanced understanding of the nature of the socialist revolution, which Engels had paved the way for, could teach that by its nature the socialist revolution is a protracted war in which the masses led by the Communist Party are mobilized on a larger and larger scale step by step. ). The revolution did not break out, and this is another fact. Only a more advanced understanding of the nature of the socialist revolution, which Engels had paved the way for, could teach that by its nature the socialist revolution is a protracted war in which the masses led by the Communist Party are mobilized on a larger and larger scale step by step.
2.2. The class struggle in the Communist Party and the socialist countries. The conception of the monolithic party misrepresents and coerce reality and hinders the development of the party: the party grows and is strengthened by the two lines struggle in the party. In socialism there is still a ruling class and the bourgeoisie (the right wing of the ruling class, promoter of capitalism) is composed mainly of leaders who promote and support solutions borrowed from the bourgeois society for the problems of the development of the socialist society. It is unavoidable that the bourgeoisie exercises its influence in the party: it is so much possible to limit its influence as better you understand and know it. On this, see Two lines struggle in the Communist Party in http://www.nuovopci.it/eile/en/twolines.html.
2.3. The nature of the economic crisis of capitalism in the imperialist epoch. The cyclical crises fade in short-term fluctuations of small-amplitude, which the bourgeoisie manages through the Antithetical Forms of Social Unity (AFSU) which has adopted. The general crises of absolute overproduction of capital take over. They do not allow purely economic solutions, but they are resolved by the disruption of the complex of the social relations of single countries and of the international relations system through revolution or world war.
2.4. The imperialist bourgeoisie fiercely resists the socialist revolution. To this end, the imperialist bourgeoisie learns, to the extent permitted by its nature of exploiting class, from the experience of class struggle, and changes the political regime by which it manages its contradiction with the working class and with the masses in the imperialist countries. The nature of the political regime of the imperialist countries is a specific result of class struggle in bourgeois society: the preventive counter revolution (see Chapter 1.3.3 of the Manifesto Program in http://www.nuovopci.it/eile/en/in080619.html).
During the first wave of the proletarian revolution the conscious and organized communist movement had not been able to understand any of these four aspects of reality. They were anyway necessary for the communist parties to give themselves a right strategy and to be able to choose the right tactics for making a revolution.
The ignorance of this, not the corruption of the working class and the popular masses, have so far prevented the establishment of socialism in the imperialist countries.
The conclusion of this stock we take is that it is possible to make the socialist revolution and establish socialism in the imperialist countries both in Europe and in the U.S.A without waiting for the success of the new democratic revolution in the oppressed countries of the world imperialist system to deprive the imperialist bourgeoisie of the superprofits it derives from their exploitation. With this conviction based on science, the new Italian Communist Party, based on Marxism-Leninism-Maoism, faces the task of establishing socialism in
so contributing to the second wave of proletarian revolution which advances all around the world. Italy
In actual fact, we believe that it is difficult for the new democratic revolution to grow beyond a certain level in the oppressed countries if the communist movement will not establish socialism at least in some of the imperialist countries. This is not because the force that the world imperialist system can mobilize against the revolution in the oppressed countries is overwhelmingly on the military plan: the war that it has going on in
Palestine, Afghanistan, Iraq, clearly show its limitations. This is, on the contrary, because the problems met by the Russian, Chinese, Vietnamese, Cuban, and others Communist Party clearly show how difficult it is to successfully lead the transition to communism in the oppressed countries, even after gaining power. Even from here it rises the call we strongly address to the communist parties of the oppressed countries, particularly to the most influential ones at the international level, to “bring the war in imperialist enemy’s home”, helping the communist parties of the imperialist countries to promote the new birth of the communist movement more strongly and speedily. Libya
Instead, we say to the Communists of the imperialist countries that in our countries there are a lot of people who say they are Communists. They sincerely believe to be and want to be Communists. The Communists who will draw the right lessons from the experience of the first wave of proletarian revolution, although at first will be few, joining their still weak forces will be able to mobilize the many existing Communists and together they will become an irresistible force and the chaos of the new general crisis of capitalism, entered its terminal phase, will overturn into its opposite: it will be the fertile soil from which new socialist countries and the new phase of human history will arise.
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).