Socialist Tendencies on Class Action (IV)
All the "quality" papers and that of the parties of the order have always shown the greatest interest in the congresses of the proletarian parties, in the tendencies, the splits, the fractions and the unifications that follow one another in the socialist camp. It seems that, beyond its irony and sometimes its declared satisfaction with this instability and apparent fragility of the labour movement, the ruling class feels that it is an important process in which the complex and difficult elaboration and preparation of future social events is reflected, and that it seeks to understand, choose and intervene in the interests of defending the regime.
Many politicians, who were then directly and openly at the service of socialism, ended up, at different times, making this competition their real training. The policy of socialism, since the time when it was freed forever from the fear of the return and restoration of feudalism, consists essentially in following the development of the class potential that oppresses the workers and the autonomous organisation of their means of action and attack.
The differences over the methods to be adopted in class action have experienced historical vicissitudes both at the international level and in the parties of each nation. In our camp or in that of the enemy, there has always been debate as to whether the divisions between the groups disagreeing on the way forward had marked a loss of unitary strength or constituted a step forward towards greater effectiveness. And this since the classical struggle between Marx and Bakunin which divided the first International between anarchists or libertarians and authoritarian socialists. The right-wing currents of the following decades and those of the Second International intentionally misunderstood this term by confusing it with that of legalitarian, that is to say partisan of the realisation of socialism through the penetration of bourgeois representative and administrative bodies. On the contrary, it was a question of opposing the naïve anarchist conception (which sees in the social revolution a later personal conquest of the individual, to whom the bourgeois revolution would already have given legal freedom and to whom it is now necessary to provide, even by the use of force, economic freedom) with the right orientation which sees the subject of the conquest in the class and not in the person, a class which is no less a slave under the capitalist regime than under the previous regimes and which, in order to defeat it, does not need individual efforts but a political and combat organisation, the very exercise of power and thus a revolutionary authority constituted in order to crush the resistances of capitalist conservation.
It was a long road of theoretical quarrels and dissolutions and it was new organisational frameworks in the different countries and in the International; it was indeed a long and difficult school that history made the working class follow, until the rupture of the second International with the condemnation of the social-democratic method that wanted to come to proletarian power by the same mechanisms with which the bourgeois power administers itself; it is a long road that is far from having been travelled in its entirety. This bloody and tragic development gave lessons of defeats and victories of the Paris Commune with the powerful analyses that Marx made of it, the Russian revolution and the claim of the dictatorial and terrorist method proclaimed by Lenin and Trotsky in order to oppose the polemic of the renegades, the later regression of the Russian workers power and the incredible withdrawal of the Third International towards new alliances and shameful collaborations with the forces of capitalism.
Not long ago, it was the anniversary of the Congress of Livorno by which the Communist Party of Italy was founded in 1921 and in recent days, attention has been focused on the vicissitudes of the Socialist Workers' Party and on the three tendencies that would have manifested themselves there.
It is easy to see that, in this camp, or in the proudly opposing camp of the two allied Stalinist parties, nothing useful can be elaborated and that nothing fruitful can emerge from quarrels of this kind or from new gatherings or separations for the recovery of the forces of the Italian working class.
Congresses no longer seem to perceive, even vaguely, the great problems of orientation of a class opposed to the established order. They only seek to resolve contingent situations and debate only in the light of the most recent events. The circle of leaders, which is also this small circle in which all the life of these organisms is burned out - even if, on whatever side they may be, they stuff down our throats the skull of democracy, of masses, of conscious people and public opinion - does not allow itself to be bound by directives that would limit its room for manoeuvre and forbid it to change its jacket and language with changes in the wind - the behaviour of all these people is now modelled on the characteristic practice of bourgeois agents and they could all seriously form a professional union of political servants of capital, always ready to change the song they sing but not of trade.
This style is openly defended by all, in particular by the three or four parties forming the clans at the summit, by all those little men inclined to mock with compassion the one, poor fool who stayed thirty years behind, who would like to "ask questions of principle before the masses".
Let us take, just for a moment, the example of this curious PSLI. It had to decide whether or not to stay in government. The decision is of little interest because events more important than it could shove it into a government with priests and Stalinists or else be kicked out of it. But what is interesting is that none of the so-called "trends" offered a way forward.
The right naturally claimed the method in question in its entirety to implement reforms useful to the party's alleged workers voters.
This right probably condemns proletarian violence and dictatorship because of its social-democratic character. The Left, on the contrary, admits them in its own way, since it wanted Saragat to resign today with regard to ministerial participation, but it did not propose to the party the rejection of possibilism, because in this case it would have had to leave it.
To conclude, let us make a small hypothesis: let us suppose that the possibility of the totalitarian regime of a bourgeois party arises; that of fascists, monarchists, priests or others, it does not matter. One would most probably hear the fateful cry (that of someone to whom everything has been mowed down): AH NO, NOT THAT!
The right would become revolutionary and Saragat would probably vote for illegalism and insurrection, like Turati against the threat of war, because of the Triple Alliance, in 1914.
The dictatorial and maximalist left, because of its late-maturing Leninism-Trotskyism, would not only admit the great anti-fascist front but would again find a correct new result of the action to be once again a "national, popular" government of coalition.
Knowing well that the Stalinists can always, on an order of the type of that of 1940, make a union with a future Hitler, the right and the left will however call them brothers as well in the militias of partisans as in the ministry.
But all this is not even safe. Indeed, from 1922 to 1945, it did without all, but what distinguishes today's intriguers is precisely that none of them are committed by principles, programs or congress votes to behave along a defined line. It is likely that a great totalitarianism at maturity will one day bring them all together to give a good place to the most "elastic" of each nuance.
They are still waiting for an unexpected "ghost", perhaps Mussolini's, to whom they can launch the AH NO, NOT THAT classic, demagogic and united-front.
The socialists and the consequent revolutionaries believed on the contrary that the one who entered the ranks of the proletariat would launch this cry once and for all to the regime of Capital.
For us, there's nothing smarter than that. For us, from the "class of donkeys".
 Translator's note: The expression "donkey class" is in Lombard dialect.
Battaglia Comunista, Nr. 5, 02-09 February 1949.
Translation by Libri Incogniti