The Doctrine of the Energumen (XVI)


Whether in the big or small questions, any opportunistic deviation of the class movement had the following character: to substitute, in the eyes of the proletariat, for the adversary, for the enemy, for the obstacle constituted by the present social order and by the capitalist class, another objective on which to direct the blows, under the pretext that it would be a transitional and intermediate objective, which, once achieved, would allow to return to the great struggle. And to give demagogic credence to this method, which can be called intermediation (if this word is ugly, it is no more ugly than the thing it designates), the best way for bullshitters has always been the personification of the enemy.

In the socialist parties of the past, one has always fought, sometimes successfully, against these waterways that were opening up on all sides. In today's false socialist and communist parties, which nevertheless falsely claim to be working class parties, this defeatist method no longer appears in a series of episodes and parentheses, but it constitutes the heart of their lives: they can do nothing, or say, or agitate without using this puppet objective that they have located in a character: whether they call it tyrant, dictator, Caesar, energumen or criminal.

These buffoons still claim to be "Marxists" and yet they have the infinite nerve to say: of course, we agree with the economic foundations of historical struggles, with the classes that clash and struggle, with the substitution of communism for capitalism, but at the moment, what is important is to hit on such and such (examples: William II, Cecco Beppe, Mussolini, Hitler, Franco, Pavelich, De Gaulle...) who, because of his vast person, blocked the path of history, suspended the laws of Marxism, postponed the return to class struggle. Once rid of him, ah, then be sure that the classist doctrine and method will see us among their most ardent supporters. But these historic pins fall one after the other, and the time to get back to your sheep never comes.

We do not deny our belief that one cannot be Marxist on a part-time basis, but let us admit for a moment that it is possible, as is seen today in all demonstrations, to make Harlequin's habit look like a red flag. The fact is that the theory of Caesarism, the doctrine of the energumen, destroys ALL Marxism, obliterates on this failed outfit the last red piece sewn as best as they can on the multicoloured checkerboard (they have indeed discovered and claimed it, the strategy in checkerboard).

At the cost of being compared to Pius XII when he quotes with book and verse Isaiah or Matthew, we will open Marx. If you are shocked by this, we look forward to it.

It is in the "18th Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte" that the story of December 2, 1852, during which Napoleon III proclaimed himself emperor of the French, is illustrated in pages written almost at the same time and that the author renounces to correct in any way (this makes the fact that these are both scientific and political positions obvious), valid for theoretical criticism as well as for party propaganda, gentlemen who claim you have a double soul, perhaps because you have sold the only one you own to Capital). Marx says: "I hope that my work will contribute toward eliminating the school-taught phrase now current, particularly in Germany, of so-called Caesarism", and it seems to say, only a short century ago: I hope that anyone who cries out for Caesarism will deign to declare himself anti-Marxist.

From the decisive distinction found on this same page between the function of the Caesar (often beneficial) in ancient societies and the nature of modern civil struggles whose protagonists are classes and not individuals, to the powerful organic analysis contained in the work, everything is there to establish the merciless antithesis that exists between the two enemy methods of deciphering history.

In the preamble already mentioned, Marx refers to two other authors:

"Of the writings dealing with the same subject at approximately the same time as mine, only two deserve notice: Victor Hugo’s Napoleon le Petit and Proudhon’s Coup d’Etat. Victor Hugo confines himself to bitter and witty invective against the responsible producer of the coup d’etat. The event itself appears in his work like a bolt from the blue. He sees in it only the violent act of a single individual. He does not notice that he makes this individual great instead of little by ascribing to him a personal power of initiative unparalleled in world history. Proudhon, for his part, seeks to represent the coup d’etat as the result of an antecedent historical development. Inadvertently, however, his historical construction of the coup d’etat becomes a historical apologia for its hero. Thus he falls into the error of our so-called objective historians"

Take a breath, gentlemen, and notice that, all along this well paved avenue of the March Back, not only did you slide towards Proudhonism, a diagnosis that could and was given to certain elements twenty years ago, but you have now overcome Hugolism while remaining a thousand miles away from its expressive and literary power. In order to be able to play your vile game of political success, you have in fact grown up the Benito, Ante and Francisco by making a laughable apology of it; as for objective official historians, we can read a complete and admiring reassessment of it in Togliatti's speech on Gramsci, a speech that seems to want to make both of them pardon the very title that was a merit: that they kept away from the sliding threshold of the academies.

"I, on the contrary, demonstrate how the class struggle in France created circumstances and relationships that made it possible for a grotesque mediocrity to play a hero’s part"

If there were objective discussions and if the best polemical means was not to not listen, at this point the head should be shaken and it should be said: in fact here not a Pajetta was understood! ... On the contrary, one continues to get drunk on "Bonapartism", and the stubbornness is so great that it is also sinned in this way on the "left" side, insofar as many are convinced that Russian degeneration must be explained, not in economic and social relations, but in the coups de main or the coups d'état by Napoleon-Stalin or his ignoble "clique".

All your Bluebeard, Poglavnici or leaders - no less than your Best, Excellents or Supremes - are, in the light of Marxism, mediocre and grotesque characters, and we are fed up with hearing ourselves asked at every meeting by humble or highly educated people who yearn to orient themselves, most often in order to fill their stomach, what type of man is Tartempion, what is his value? And in the same tone, they are able to ask it of Lenin and Velio Spano. Because there are some, like the Tito and the Dimitrov, who, from one moment to the next, change colour suddenly passing from Walhalla to Judas' entourage. They are always too exposed to light, and we think that history has so far only forged an adjective on one character with truly remarkable profiles: the Divine Poppea.


In the same way that the name in the credits of big-screen films is mentioned for the technician responsible for "special effects", similarly, there exist, in the political offices and in the editorial offices of "popular" newspapers, specialists whose role is to launch the energumen of the cause with brilliance. Sometimes there is a shortage of this type of character and it is unclear whether skilful probing should be done among the newcomers to the scene or whether to stick to the old ones for greater safety. The character is cast according to the situations. In Italy, Mussolini's success would not have been so rapid if there had been men coming out of mediocrity and grotesqueness. The epithet of chancellor attributed to De Gasperi has resulted in polyuria in the evocation of Bismarck's shadow; as for Scelba, they have come to accuse him of being a bad carabiniere, and we really recommend to the office guys the figure of Giuliano, there is nothing better in the domestic market. With a De Gaulle at his disposal, if only for the nose, there is enough to envy those of "Humanité". In this kind of case, the character traits are of primary importance. His sub-hero (and not an anti-hero as the fools called him) made Marx sweat (to use a French expression) even in effigy: "the adventurer Louis Bonaparte who tried to hide his trivial and repulsive features under Napoleon's bronze mask".

In the global field, the probes are launched by leading experts. Among Americans, there doesn't seem to be much to fish for: Truman has at most the style of a clerk of a court of first instance; Roosevelt had, paralysis aside, striking features, but he is exhausted and therefore, it is better to make a statuette for the Museum of Elected Representatives in order to accredit the incredible lie that America is plutocratic and slave trader only in the extent that she abandoned the Rooseveltian style. You would have heard, if he were still alive! The other Americans, diplomats or generals, are in large numbers, they come and go, but they do not offer a great catch to the harpooner. The British in government are Labour; they do not seem to be of great importance, they ape the Soviet economic policy and could have some differences with the Americans.

As you already know, the probe having been placed in Togliatti's capable hands - not to mention the sure oscillation of a wave from Moscow - it is the Churchill cetacean that has risen to the surface. As we have explained, this is not precisely a revelation. But faute de mieux, if it was necessary to start the assembly in large, the only choice could be for the Bulldog nose; and then that cigar! And here is the commentary on Churchill's speeches in America, here are the appropriate quotes, here is the reminder of his inveterate anti-Bolshevism, here is the triumphal cry: we have discovered who started the war! Capitalism, imperialism, plutocracy? So let's drop these old theories that are not making any headway. It is HIM, the energumen, who, according to the Marxism substitute, will make the same end "as this other energumen warlord who was called Hitler".

But the point is that the Hitler-Churchill story proves that the game of killing the energumens is endless, the second promised that if he was helped to suppress the first, eternal peace would triumph; now, by Jove, have we returned to the starting point? One of the most solid theorems of Togliattian doctrine (in truth very pre-Togliattian) of the energumen is the following: energumens never come alone.

The probe could not have fished any better, since Winston is as old as tough and could have disappeared before the war broke out, which would be very embarrassing for the doctrine. For it would be the third war he makes: holy the first two, diabolical the third. Will he succeed? At the "special effects" office, we don't have any fresher merchandise, we're a little short of Dardanelles.

But the probe could be hauled squarely aboard and not launched later if there were to be another magnificent mirage, for internal and external use, and also for use of the Dardanelles, the trigger. One could then see Churchill, in a meeting of greats, giving a hand to the Stalinists, or being part of a European Presidency with them. Elasticity, for God's sake! Ministry of Gasperi-Nenni-Giuliano!

Palmiro had announced this discovery in his almost academic Latin: habemus confitentem reum. We have made the guilty party confess, in the person of the old Anglo-Saxon mastiff. But in new situations, phases and turns of enlightened world politics, we can do without the guilty confessor. But there's one thing they can't do without, and it's the fool.

Con the public who reads or listens, and, unfortunately, but not forever, the proletariat.

There was only one page to turn:

"proletarian revolutions, like those of the nineteenth century, constantly criticise themselves, constantly interrupt themselves in their own course, return to the apparently accomplished, in order to begin anew; they deride with cruel thoroughness the half-measures, weaknesses, and paltriness of their first attempts, seem to throw down their opponents only so the latter may draw new strength from the earth and rise before them again more gigantic than ever, recoil constantly from the indefinite colossalness of their own goals – until a situation is created which makes all turning back impossible, and the conditions themselves call out:
Hic Rhodus, hic salta!"

This is the Latin, Marxist, that reminds the working class where it must go, without them, against them, above them.


[1] Bordiga writes not a Pajetta was understood; it is a joke to say that nothing had been understood. For Bordiga, Pajetta, leader of the PCI at the time, Marxistically speaking, is equivalent to nothing!

[2] Velio Spano is an Italian Stalinist leader from the 40s and 50s.

[3] The "divine Poppaea" is of course Nero's wife (see the Annals of Tacitus); the comparison between her and the leaders of the PCI of the time remains rather obscure to us.

[4] Salvatore Giuliano, about whom Bordiga talks here and in other sections, was a "politicised" Sicilian bandit. At first he collaborated with the Americans when they landed in Sicily in 1943. There was certainly also an alliance with the Sicilian mafia and the Sicilian-American Cosa Nostra. He then became a proponent of Sicilian secessionism with the support of Sicilian reactionary sectors. On May 10, 1947, workers' day, he massacred "red" workers and farm workers in Portella della Ginestra. Strangely enough, he was never captured; he remained untraceable, while the journalists managed to interview him quietly. Of course he was protected. In 1950, he was murdered by a "repentant", Pisciotta, his brother-in-law. Pisciotta himself was then murdered in prison "mysteriously".

Battaglia Comunista, No. 19, 11-18 May 1949
Translation by Libri Incogniti

(Italian Version)


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