to channel proletarian struggles on an international scale
for the proletarian rupture
AGAINST SUMMITS AND COUNTER-SUMMITS
General characteristics of contemporary struggles
Fifteen years ago we took stock of the situation by portraying the struggles that characterize the current phase of capitalism, without taking into account any elements particular to specific confrontations. (2) Since then, nothing has fundamentally changed with regard to those general characteristics. The current events confirm the main features that we presented then: international attempts to channel proletarian revolts and obvious signs of rupture, still systematically characterised, from the proletarian point of view, by strengths and weaknesses similar to those we had highlighted. The capitalist society catastrophe, that continues to take shape and aggravate (3), as well as the tendency for radicalisation of the contradictions and confrontations, bring up once again the issue of the revolutionary leadership and the destruction of the international capitalist dictatorship. Facing today's barbarity, the issue of the proletarian social project (the social revolution, the destruction of the commodity society re-emerges as the only possible alternative.
This text, while presenting a brief analysis of the development of the balance of forces between the proletariat and the bourgeoisie, is a denunciation of the “new” attempts made to channel the proletarian energies, and more particularly those that take shape through these summits and anti-summits that seem to dominate the international reality; various pseudo-radical ideologies that emerge from the clash. As a direct product of a debate among proletarians openly considering the issue of international power and destruction of the universal capitalist dictatorship, this text is also a contribution to the fight of the proletariat for its autonomy. It is then an element of struggle for the constitution of a self-direction breaking away from all the ideologies that intend to maintain us chained to the old social-democrat chariot, redecorated for the occasion with some new garments.
In Communism n°9, we had already signalled that the traditional forms of bourgeois containment had lost most of their lure. We pointed out that the traditional forms of struggle, such as “strikes” organized by the trade unions, pacific demonstrations, and even the national political system and its electoral circus didn't trigger much enthusiasm anymore. “While the old state mediations have lost their capacity to act as safety valves… the proletariat, which is supposed to be dead and buried, surges forwards ever more explosively, without accepting mediations, without being stopped by little strikes, peaceful demos, or promises of elections.”
We also noted that contemporary struggles are characterised by violent and uncontrolled proletarian explosions directed against private property and all political and social forces that defend it. Since then, these explosions of proletarian rage against the capital have repeatedly renewed, distinguished by “the firm and violent action of the proletariat which occupies the streets and violently confronts the whole state apparatus”, as we mentioned in our text. The number of countries –Iraq, Venezuela, Burma, Algeria, Morocco, Rumania, Argentina, United States (Los Angeles)- where this type of explosion occurred has continually increased: Albania, Indonesia, Bangladesh, Ecuador, Argentina once again (Santiago del Estero, Neuquen…), Bolivia, Algeria (Kabylia). Every time, these examples reveal the same bourgeois incapacity to contain the struggle, marked by a violent opposition to everything that the present society stands for (including political parties and trade unions of the democratic opposition), and by expropriation of bourgeois property, more or less organized and led by vanguard elements. “By sweeping away the ancestral prejudices and challenging state terrorism, proletarians take what they need and try thus to destroy all the mediations which they are condemned to by capital: money, wages, work, etc.”
Facing this human tendency to directly re-appropriate one’s own life, we noted, in 1993, that the bourgeoisie invariably counterattacked with their eternal “carrot, stick and disinformation”. Manipulation of information and systematic concealment of the universal content of those revolts, presenting them as “student” riots, or “miners”, “Palestinians”, “Kurds”, “Muslims”, “Berbers”… We also pointed out that the bourgeois counterattack was always based on the granting of some minor concessions and on the development of a selective repression, aiming at isolating the proletariat from its vanguard elements. In that text, we also analysed the weaknesses of the current proletarian struggles (short-lived riots, finally defeated, lack of permanent proletarian associationism, absence of a worker’s press, lack of historic memory, ignorance of the revolutionary program…), as well as the need and possibility of overcoming these weaknesses and turning this discontinuous process of uprisings into an ascendant process leading to social revolution. (4)
The left-wing bourgeoisie’s need to reorganize itself: renovation attempts
The current left-wing bourgeoisie endorses the program that the social democracy has always defended: lesser evil, democratism, populism, trade unionism, pacifism, and support to the so-called “third world”… But in this society, where the devaluation of capital proceeds unbridled, where commodity must be labelled “new” to be sold and where ideological production is wholly integrated into the commodity production, the old ideas of the dominant class also need to be incessantly recycled to remain effective at containing the social assault. More than anyone else, the left-wing bourgeoisie’s renovation attempts comply with this tendency, widely subscribing to the “neo” fashion: “neo” Marxism, “new” left-wing, anti-“neo”-liberalism (5)…
The immediate motive of these renovations is directly generated by capital’s necessity to respond to the deficiency experienced by the bourgeoisie every time the proletarian wrath expresses itself outside and against the traditional containment measures of the class struggle.
A third element that has forced the left-wing bourgeoisie to recycle and put on new garments to conceal its putrefying body and hideous face, resides in the socio-economic catastrophe of the countries labelled “socialist” by the bourgeoisie, as well as in the subsequent deterioration of the image of the related left-wing. In actual fact, neither the Trotskyites’ critical support “with reservations” policy, nor the radical Maoism escaped the collapse. With an implacable clarity, the system those movements so dearly defended (unreservedly or not) confirmed to have never been anything else but the most brutal exploitation of the proletariat. Without the excuse of any revolution –or social counter-revolution, as they so often claimed- (6) the dominant class of those countries simply and openly declared its preference for “capitalism and democracy”. The whole international left-wing bourgeoisie was then forced to repudiate its life-long love affair with these references and start searching for other fables to try and remain credible. Only certain leftist factions of the social democrat spectrum continue, through their support for Castrism, to obstinately cling to the defence (unreserved or not) of this monstrous Stalinist offspring called “socialism within one country”. (7)
But the left-wing bourgeoisie has no autonomy with regards to the right wing –even on a terminological basis- it follows in its wake. The particularities it endorses have always been determined by the evolution and contradictions of world capital’s cycle, and even when they seem different, looking closely, most of the time they appear to be the same old stories, told differently. So, to the ideologies of the worldwide bourgeoisie, victor of the Second World War –democracy, human rights, anti-terrorism, anti-authoritarianism, anti-fascism… (8)-, were added the ideologies of the factions most maltreated by free trade. In reality these ideologies were merely the vulgar antithesis of what the international free tradist dominant bourgeoisie presently still enforces. Every time the classic free tradist politics (which has nothing to do with anything “neo”) adopt a new terminology (globalisation, global village…) the old leftist bourgeoisie pseudo anti-imperialist defines itself on the basis of the “anti” prefix: anti-globalisation, anti-neo-liberalism…
Even the supporters of national liberation, considering their catastrophic results and their out of date discourse, started recycling themselves into anti-globalists…
In reality, there is nothing new under the capitalist sun. All this is nothing more than cheap chatter, a terminology made up by international capital, backed up by publicity agencies that seek to improve its image and enforce its present objectives pretending they are something novel. Capital is worldwide by essence; it has always been global. Historically, the starting point of capitalism is not the nation (as Marx said, the world market precedes the national market), but the revolution of the world market (that existed for quite a long time). This occurred at the end of the 15th century through the generalisation of value on a world scale and found its conclusion in the 16th century with the impossibility of a capitalist accumulation without a conquest of the production, and, finally, through the historic subsumption of humanity by capital. In capital’s history, the global always precedes the particular or local. Free trade is the general politic of the hegemonic faction of capital, well before the origin of the worldwide market or the origin of the worldwide money. This brings us back more than a thousand years ago, and since then, this politic has constantly opposed the interests of the protectionist factions. Free trade and anti-free trade (with or without the adjunction of the “neo” prefix), globalism and anti-globalism, the regionalism… are nothing but distinct expressions of the everlasting battle fought by the bourgeois factions. One defends the upholding of protectionism, source of its accumulation, and the other, more coherent in the strict application of the rule of value on an international scale, is willing to breach this protectionism.
If nowadays the instruments of fabrication of public opinion so insistently emphasize these tendencies, represented in a roughly caricature way by the international summits and bourgeois anti-summits, it’s precisely to trick the proletariat into a struggle that is not its own, and try to provide a response to the explosions of proletarian rage in which the exploited aim at re-establishing the struggle on real classist grounds. Social democracy, as historic counter-revolutionary party intended for the proletarians, tries to pull it out of the streets and prevent direct action to maintain the proletariat’s submission to a number of mediations that turn it into a manoeuvrable support force to the inter-bourgeois struggle. (9)
Ideas and personages of the “neo” left wing
During the 70’s and the 80’s, it called itself the “new left-wing” and gathered a wide spectrum of social democrat ideologies, claimed more democracy, more socialism, more anti-imperialism, more statism, more populism, cursing the large corporations, the monopoles…
Today, it goes by the name of anti-globalisation, anti-free trade, anti-International Monetary Fund, anti-worldwide trade... it preaches in the name of the civilian society and a diffuse citizenship and defines itself through an opposition against the financial and multinational capital, and, in its wide majority, in favour of the “Tobin” tax… But in reality, it’s the one and the same dog, even though it wears different collars.
Indeed, the left-wing bourgeoisie on the whole was able to become aware of its own incapacity to contain the proletariat, but, in the image of this greyish recycled paper hoping to be sold as “new”, it decided to mobilise its forces around the so-called “globalisation”. It tries to focus everything on the major assemblies of the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, the World Trade Organization, or any other apparatus of the world state of capital.
Trade unions and political parties in decrepitude, feminists and ecologists having lost their credibility, Keynesian economists, all kinds of pacifist and libertarian movements (10), philanthropists, journalists, third-worldists and “anti-imperialists”, non-governmental organizations and humanitarian organisms, bankrupted farmers and animal-rights associations… all of them, without exception, seek a new political virginity by mustering against these meetings. Has-been political stars, completely disavowed, reappear in public and summon citizenship celebrations with the intention of defying the summits organized by official representatives. In the carnival-like context of these flashy folkloric parades, pacific and docile, under strict surveillance by the law-enforcement forces and the trade unions (like the powerful European Trade Unions Confederation), a heterogeneous variety of personalities like the leaders of the support committees to Marcos’ pseudo-guerrilla or that caricature of radical farmer called Bové, or even bygone personages of the “champagne socialists”,… try to constitute a “global option”, that truly brings nothing new in regards to the old bourgeois socialism of the 19th century. And let us not forget to add to this charming picture, the “anti-globalisation” support of openly rightist, nationalist, fascist and pro-nazi personages and organizations, like Charles Pasqua, former Minister of the Interior in France, or the LePenist youth of the French National Front.
The common denominator of the anti-globalisation holdall is the pretence of establishing a capitalism that would supposedly be “more human”, more democratic, that is to say, one which would reinforce the democratic and citizen domination on the human species. The watchwords against globalisation, the IMF, the World Bank, “neo”-liberalism clearly confirm that it is not a matter of destroying capitalism, but rather perpetuating it.
The Attac association (Action for a Tobin Tax of Aid to the Citizens) –the name alone is already rather remarkable- is the meeting point of old social democrat structures and personalities, merely given a new physiognomy. It represents undoubtedly the most important international institution of the anti-globalisation scene. Alongside, stand many other networks, federations and organizations, a mingling of ideological movements, trade unions, political parties, charities, religious organizations and NGO, such as the Tri-Continental Centre, the Worldwide Women’s march, the 2000 Jubilee, the Continental Social Alliance, the People’s Global Action, the “Monde Diplomatique”, the “Ya Basta” association, the Global Resistance Movement, the Farmer’s Confederation. (11)
Although they introduce themselves under a variety of aspects and platforms, these organizations are, as we have previously said, the result of the leftist bourgeoisie’s recycling that by any means attempts to regain a bit of credibility, and to put forward, with regards to the current capitalist catastrophe, a reformist alternative responding to the increasingly uncontrollable explosions of the international proletariat. Just to give an idea of how much the program of these organizations replicates the old bourgeois reformist program, we shall quote and emphasize some considerations extracted from the constitutive platform of the Attac association and the World Social Forum of Porto Alegre.
So, Attac does not claim to fight against capitalism, but against what it calls “financial globalisation”. To do so, it proposes to use the Tobin Tax and to hamper speculation. The platform starts as follows:
“The financial globalisation aggravates the economical insecurity and social inequalities. It bypasses and belittles people’s opinions, the democratic institutions and the sovereign states in charge of the common interest. It substitutes them with purely speculative logic expressing the exclusive interests of international corporations and financial markets.”
Its conception of the world is based on the good old social democrat method consisting in only considering the consequences, denying the determinant causes, and analysing only a few particularly notorious and harmful manifestations of capitalism, and omitting that these are the necessary and inevitable products of this whole social system. The same way social democracy founded its revisionism on the imperialism presented at that time as a novelty (12), today Attac elaborates its own on the pseudo-novelty of financial globalisation. Yesterday as today, something “new” had to be put forward to justify politics aiming at reforming capital. In both cases, it is only about diverting the proletariat from its struggle against the very foundations of the capitalist society.
The social democrat theories of imperialism and ultra-imperialism (Kautsky) constitute the keystone of this manoeuvre. Yesterday as today, this theory conceives capitalism to have entered a new phase, distinct from those in the past, and that would have transformed its essential nature. According to this theory, capitalism in its imperialistic phase formally centralises itself in a world decisional centre –or several ones in dispute-, based on the concentration of financial capital (defined as the merging of banking capital and industry capital), the large monopolist international corporations, the exploitation of capitals and the competition between corporations and governments for the apportionment of the world.
Therefore at the beginning of the 20th century, just like today, the novelty would have then been the world domination of financial capital and monopolies, as it was explicitly theorised at the time by the right-wing social democrat Rudolf Hilferding. Lenin adopted this theory in his famous pamphlet on imperialism. Today as yesterday, with Attac and all the “anti-globalisation” groups, social democracy claims to stand against this financial capital, demanding more democracy and more state control from capital: “people’s opinions, democratic institutions and sovereign states”.
It is easily noted that behind these associations, these old and new physiognomies, there is nothing, absolutely nothing, new: it is nothing but the old rotten program of social democracy that has always called for a “more social” (sic), “more human” (sic) capitalism, against the notorious dehumanisation produced by capitalism itself. Today as yesterday, all of them put forward “people’s opinions”, that is to say populism, in opposition to proletarian classism. They put forward “democratic institutions” in opposition to the classist position of struggle against these institutions to enforce proletarian dictatorship, and finally, they put forward the “sovereign states in charge of common interest” in opposition to the classic revolutionary standpoint of utter destruction of the bourgeois state, and all this bullshit about the sovereignty of the state. For, as Marx and Bakunin affirmed, the greater the sovereignty of the state, the harsher the oppression for its subjects.
Attac is an openly social democrat expression that, as such, denounces the increase of wealth and poverty and would like the citizen opinion and pressure on the states to regulate capitalism’s excesses. From an historic point of view, it defines itself as a right-wing social democrat expression, because it doesn’t allege any opposition to capitalism itself and to the contrary, claims to be in favour of the freedom generated by capitalism to achieve its goals. It appeals to the governments for a control of this freedom (not to be abolished!). In no way does it criticize productive capital, nor, of course, capitalist exploitation (the extortion of profit is implicitly legitimated). It contests capital’s benefits it considers excessive with regards to the undeniable widening of misery and the non-productive speculation. As if, once again, it were possible to deal with the consequences without dealing with the causes.
The constitutive platform of Attac states: “Capitals’ total freedom of circulation, the tax havens and the explosion of the volume of speculative transactions drive the states into a frantic race to obtain the favours of the big investors… Such evolution engenders a permanent increase in capital’s income to the detriment of labour’s income, the generalisation of precariousness and extension of poverty.”
Attac doesn’t even try to conceal its dread for the social revolution and admits its function is to avoid it at all costs, even if this is all said using a fashionable terminology: “To respond to the double challenge of a social implosion and a feeling of political despair demands a civic and militant compromise.” While we’re at it, and as it is also a very fashionable trend, we note that among the current social democracy, freethinker’s style, or in the libertarian spheres, the whole of the classic concepts has been revised, re-interpreted and re-adapted to conform today’s likings, by removing from them any classist content. Because it has reached decisive importance, we’ll call attention to the falsification related to the concept of exploitation, keystone of the constitution of the proletariat as a homogeneous world class. According to the new interpretations, exploitation wouldn’t be the surplus value extortion, which, directly and objectively, unifies in misery the whole proletarianized humanity, and which, historically, was decisive for the proletariat to recognize itself as a class.
That’s why one can sometimes hear: “they make me work so hard it is exploitation!” As if work weren’t always exploitation! Or: “the workers of such and such country are exploited.” As if those from the other countries weren’t exploited! Or else: “multinational corporations are exploitative institutions.” As if local ones weren’t exploitative! It is also said that “monopolies exploit and destroy the planet’s resource” as if it weren’t capital itself that exploits and destroys everything! As if capital didn’t dictate the action of every business of this planet! We can also hear: “imperialists exploit us!” as if there were any non-imperialist bourgeois or any bosses that do not exploit! And finally, we are asked to believe that we are not subjected to exploitation, that exploitation is not this world’s rule, but merely constitutes an exception, an extreme case that only applies in very distant places. “In the countryside, in the third-world countries.” The further we believe it to be, the better it suits social democracy. So the remedy to this should be “to manifest solidarity with their misery, accept austerity and protest less here”. To this we must add that, for them, solidarity has nothing to do with the classist concept of our struggle, but in reality belongs to the Judeo-Christian concept of guilt and sin and calls for a charitable attitude. It is then still a matter of a typical worldview of the dominant class and its openly bourgeois socialism.
This falsification leads to many others, such as the very concept of proletariat, which they mention as little as possible. And when they refer to it, they confine it into a mere sociologic category (the workers, as imposed by Stalinism), never as a constantly evolving revolutionary subject, which deprives the proletariat of all revolutionary perspective and denies the fact that it bears the only social project alternative to the current world: communism, the human worldwide community.
Returning to Attac, we can obviously note that the measures they propose are in full coherence with their social democrat worldview: taxation of the financial capital, major state control over profits and tax havens, claims for more democracy: “to this end, the co-signers hereby create the association ATTAC (Action for a Tobin Tax of Aid to Citizens)… aiming at deterring international speculation, tax the capital’s income, sanction tax havens, prevent the generalisation of retirement funds, and, in a general way, re-conquer the fields lost by democracy to the financial sphere and oppose all new renunciation of the sovereignty of states on the pretext of the ‘right’ of investors and merchants.”
The Social Forum of Porto Alegre of January 2001 (that the organizers intend to renew every year) constitutes one of the examples of summit meetings (parallel anti-summit par excellence of the leftists bourgeoisie), a widened expression of the old social democrat ideology, elegantly adorned with in vogue features like the congresses and counter-congresses. This forum’s program closely resembles the invariant program of the left-wing bourgeoisie: “pleading for a democratic agrarian reform with usufruct for the land cultivators, access to water and seeds, demanding cancellation of the external debt and reparation for the historic, social and economic debts occasioned by the external debt, elimination of the tax havens, effective application of human rights, opposition to all forms of privatisation of natural resources and public goods, calling for people’s sovereignty and a demilitarised planet”. (13)
The “proclamation of social movements” holds the program of all associations, trade unions, parties, present in Porto Alegre, and is filled with the most remarkable affirmations of the bourgeois credo. It is an apology for a capitalism devoid of all the harmful consequences inherent to its being, that engenders neither poverty nor misery nor unemployment, for a capitalism that does not destroy nature, for a non-patriarchal capitalism, for a capitalism without racism, in short for a fair and equitable capitalism in which everyone would live in perfect harmony. “We demand a fair commercial system that ensures full-employment, food sovereignty, fair trade and well-being.”
That is a pre-eminently bourgeois discourse, according to which, after correcting a few excesses and injustices, capitalism would embody… the well-being society! Cynical apologies of the bourgeois society into which the right wing doesn’t even dare to venture, openly admitting this is all impossible!
Another recurrent aspect of this anti-globalisation ideology is the claim for an increased support for what they call the third world, some going as far as requesting 0.7% of the GDP. What the promoters of this program do not say, it is that such an aid for development does not mainly apply to hospitals, schools or other projects linked to capitalist development, but it is also directed (nearly the whole of it, in certain countries) into the financing of local armies (so they can buy weapons from the countries that provided the aid), financing and training of police officers specialised in anti-subversive and anti-riot action (it is through those aids the Algerian, Peruvian, Congolese torturers are offered training in France, Belgium, etc…), buying tear gas produced by Shell with the raw materials from those “third world” countries, the support for conducting massacres (“genocides”, “holocausts”), like in Rwanda…
This is, roughly, the anti-globalisation ideology designed by social democracy, or more precisely, by its right wing. But some expressions are notably more left orientated, and correspond to other factions of this historic party of bourgeoisie destined to the proletariat. Indeed, bourgeois leftism, which formerly defined itself through the defence of so-called socialism in such-and-such country or of such-and-such “worker’s state” that are now considered as more or less degenerated, today keeps a low profile, and does not dare speaking of socialism in positive terms anymore, and even less of socialist block, but continues to characterize itself through a politically correct anti-capitalism. As we’ll analyse further in this text, these leftists, along with the liberal extreme left-wing, today re-baptised as libertarians, attempt to respond to the class contradictions that arise, and more particularly to the currents that among the proletariat express a rupture with the bourgeois society. We shall examine those class contradictions in order to further evaluate and understand these expressions.
Summits, counter-summits and proletarian struggle
The importance of these summits and anti-summits is probably exaggerated, because for it to function well capital needs neither international conferences nor summit meetings. The keystone of homogeneity in the decision making of capital is essentially rooted in the fact that the dictatorship of the rate of profit exists everywhere, that it is the origin of all decisions, the essence of each economic directive, the reason for capitalism to exist, always and all over the world. The World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, the multinationals and governments, the parliaments and local administrations, the associations of states and consortiums, the trusts and the small enterprises, all apply, whatever the importance of the decision to be taken, the criteria of profitability of capital (their own or the one they administer); and in the same way, within the enterprises, from the highest leader to the last worker, they are all forced to apply these criteria if they want to keep their jobs, and this is independent of the fact that this situation is advantageous to some, whereas it means suffering and the daily alienation from their life for the others. Capital is precisely characterised by its democracy, by its capacity to co-opt those who, among its subjects, will be the most unscrupulous in satisfying its appetite for profit, those who will display the greatest skill at imposing its despotism without mercy, whether they are leaders, governors, international civil servants, local administrators, trade-union chiefs, or torturers. Let us simply remember the workers’ leaders who, at all times, were co-opted by the government of capital, from Noske and Walesa to Lula! The other face of this democracy that allows co-opting the workers’ leaders to serve capital is the daily despotism that imposes value in process against human life. Omnipotent dictatorship of the rate of profit that, moreover, develops competition between proletarians and leads to the struggle of each against each other, always in favour of imposing the greatest possible rate of accumulation.
But beyond the myth existing around the importance of the formal centralism with which capital is endowed, it is clear that capitalism has decisional centres (meetings, institutions, places, organisms, people...) at its disposal, which, whenever needed, centralise some global decisions, obeying this omnipresent dictatorship of the rate of profit. Within these centres are generally announced the measures that attack the standard of living of proletarians; while between the more decisive factions of the bourgeoisie are signing agreements. These summit meetings of capitalistic power are publicly announced in the media, in search of popular support for the leaders of capital and for the measures that emerge from those meetings. And naturally, these meetings also obey to the hazards of negotiations between the different factions of capital, as well as to the necessity to constitute constellations and alliances in an attempt to improve the balance of forces against other factions, as it is the case for the regional common markets. Another purpose of these summits and anti-summits is to make a show about the importance of these bourgeois polarisations, which capital needs to channel any proletarian protest.
Therefore, although the decisional importance of these summits is exaggerated, and even though their spectacularisation and their pseudo protest constitutes a necessity of the reproduction of bourgeois domination, it is normal that the proletariat has always considered them as an attack against its own life, and this, whether these meetings take place in only one country or whether they gather the bourgeoisie of various ones, whether they are governmental, organised by political parties, trade unions, or whether they originate from the structuring of these forces at an international scale. At any time these summits have always caused great movements of protest, violent demonstrations, street fighting, bomb attacks and intense often-armed confrontations. Against the myth that presents as a new fact the confrontations that break out nowadays almost everywhere in the world at the time of these summits (the manipulation of the public opinion always requires making new stuff from old ones), we could mention many examples that occurred on the five continents and demonstrate the opposite. We need only remember the great street battles of the 60’s and 70’s, triggered by the proletariat in America against the various international summits organised on this continent, against the meetings of the OAS, of the Alliance for Progress, the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund and the GATT, or against Presidents Conferences… We need only remember the enterprises set on fire, factories and campuses occupied, the violent demonstrations, bomb attacks against state sites, the strikes, the confrontations with the police, with special repression units, and in many countries, with the army…
Regarding current events, the class confrontations become more and more obvious: Davos, Seattle, Nice, Prague, Gothenburg, Naples, and Genoa… (14) are a manifestation of this. Once more, the proletariat re-emerges exactly where the different factions of international capital meet to decide how they will proceed with the exploitation of the proletarians all over the world. On the one hand stand the official summits and the social democrat anti-summits, the conferences in the official lounges and the carnival-like processions dominated by social democracy, the official pseudo protest. On the other hand the proletariat emerges, outflanking the processions, in an attempt to impose its direct action (15), smashing shop windows and expropriating everything that can be, attacking official buildings and bourgeois property in general, setting fire to everything that represents the state, and criticising and denouncing aloud, through leaflets, pamphlets and reviews the NGO, Attac, parties and trade unions.
As one can see, even in these bourgeois lairs and despite the presence of a lot of recuperation forces, once more both classes of society confront each other; bourgeoisie against proletariat, conservation of the bourgeois social order against its global reconsideration. Right- and left-wing may stage all the protest shows they want, the media can do its best to validate the options of “globalisation” and “anti-globalisation”, but inevitably, the critique of capitalism carried by the proletarians leads them to overpower the containment; and then, inevitably, both antagonistic social projects re-emerge: perpetuation of the capitalistic catastrophe or social revolution.
Aside from the discussion that we shall approach further and which develops nowadays within our class about the stance of the proletariat, about its involvement or not in these processions, about the significance of the motto “to stand outside and against conferences and anti-conferences” (which is our position!), about the assessment of this direct action (does it correctly express the unification and the development of the international force against capital, or on the contrary does it presuppose a submission to a show that diverts from the real direct action?). Aside then from this discussion, there is no doubt of the fact that these explosions express the rage of our class facing the bourgeois gathered there in order to “decide the fate of the planet”. (16) In this way the process of proletarian autonomisation initiated by our class at the time of the summits and anti-summits is extremely encouraging. It materialises through a rupture with the trade-unionist containment, through important expressions of violence against this latter, against private property, against the different state-controlled structures in place; and all this emphasizes the fact that the real opposition does not stand between Davos and Porto Alegre, between the World Trade Organisation, the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank and Attac… but, as ever, between capital (right- as well as left-wing) and the proletariat.
Although the autonomy of the proletariat still remains very relative within these struggles, they nevertheless express the class war and therefore, the ever-growing antagonism between humankind and capitalism. These struggles also put back on the agenda within the community of struggle that develops –particularly within the vanguard minorities- some central issues, like proletarian internationalism, the international necessity to get constituted in force, the issue of the international struggle against the power of capital and the world state. Of course, from the social viewpoint, solutions are still far from being found. But the fact that thousands of militants throughout the world reconsider and re-discuss the central issues of social revolution definitely constitutes an encouraging fact. If we add to this the continuity of recurring explosions in different places in the world, we can say that it is an important step for the revolutionary movement.
Bourgeois channelling, spectacularisation and falsification
It is obvious that the media will never portray things on the basis of the true bourgeoisie/proletariat polarisation. On the contrary, their function is to conceal these class antagonisms and channel them into inter-bourgeois contradictions, and make these spectacular enough to mask the real antagonisms, to turn the world proletariat into a mass of spectators passively witnessing the succession of conferences and counter-conferences, and, for the most active sectors, allows the possibility to applaud or boo the show. Also allowed, (so that it improves the show’s credibility) are yelling, mottos, slogans and even, to a certain extent, certain violent actions as long as they don’t cast doubt on the show or its outlet function. In order to achieve proper falsification of the information, only official conferences and Attac and their acolytes are to be taken into consideration, including of course, the more violent expressions of the same discourse generated by most hotheaded supporters of the Tobin tax. For the media, the only opposition that matters is the one opposing summits and anti-summits, as for example Seattle and Porto Alegre, even if, from time to time, they can’t avoid showing some images of rioters and anti-conformists.
However, let us remember that those summits and anti-summits are absolutely not new. During the premise of the so-called First and Second World Wars, the peace negotiations between superpowers (that, of course, ended up with war), were handled by staging more or less parallel congresses, organized by pacifists and social democrats, and, as today, with the purpose of showing off and duping the proletarians to have them forfeit any inclination towards direct action. For about 15 years now, the rhythm of these spectacles of summit and anti-summit meetings has increased frantically: the Rio meeting on the future of the planet and its parallel anti-meeting, the festivities and counter-festivities commemorating the 500th anniversary of the America’s “discovery”, conferences on the destruction of the planet resources followed by ecologic anti-conferences all over the world…
The social forum of Porto Alegre of January 2001 is an excellent example of a mediatized show staged by capital in order to portray the past, present and future oppositions as a mere inter-bourgeois question. According to the fabricants of authorized opinion, the Porto Alegre forum is the true retort to the Davos meeting, and, to provide it with all the “reality” that can come out of such exhibitions (like those “apple” soaps that smell of apple more than an apple itself, the show always seems more real than reality!), they go as far as staging what they’ll call a “set symbolic of passion”, based on a live debate “via teleconference between the cold Davos and the warm Porto Alegre…” (17)
“The Davos team, led by the financier and speculator Georges Soros, is clad in black suits, wears tie and hair grease, and is serious and silent. On Porto Alegre’s side, a broad spectrum of races, colourful clothes, languages, voices… and public. The discussion lasted for forty minutes. Forty minutes, during which hundreds of persons, crammed in front of the television screens, applauded enthusiastically, booed, laughed or yelled slogans. Soros and his team (formed by Mark Malloch, UN consultant, John Ruggie, also UN consultant, and Bjorn Edlud, president of a Swiss multinational corporation), advised by image specialists, endeavoured to maintain an Olympian calm, while claiming to be concerned by poverty and pointing out that well before the current globalisation and external debt, children already died of starvation in Africa. From Porto Alegre, Bernard Cassen (Attac) replied with much precision, demanding the enforcement of the Tobin Tax on financial and speculative operations and the cancellation of the external debt. Rafael Alegria (Via Campesina) enumerated the globalisation’s effects on the disarticulation of the state’s services, on the rise of job losses and the inaccessibility of land ownership for peasants. But passion was unleashed for two magical minutes: Hebe Bonafini (18) from the ‘Mothers of the May Square’ declared with a faltering but firm voice: ‘Sir, you stand against us, your responses are hypocritical. Answer! How many children do you kill a day?’ From Davos, Georges Soros gave the ghost of a smile and remained silent. So Bonafini yelled at him: ‘Mister Soros, you laugh at the deaths of thousands of children?’ In front of the television screens, people in Porto Alegre applauded fervently at the Mother of May. Soros kept his stance, offering his image for a sattelitable publicity.”
Such is the work of medias: hide the proletariat and its struggle against the capitalist society behind this show between Soros and the leftists, between the IMF and Attac, between “globalisation” and “anti-globalisation”. Hence another example, during the Nice summit, as accurately stated in an internationally distributed pamphlet: “The bourgeois press lied. Lied shamelessly. According to it, the demonstrators against capitalist globalisation joined the citizen parade, summoned by the European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC). What more could these capitalists and rulers, these spokesmen and lackeys long for, than seeing the proletarian youth at war with capitalism, joining those misleading processions organized by the legal opposition to the bourgeois system? In reality, in the streets of Nice, two different, opposing, movements were discernible… Two movements that so played their part: the first one, bourgeois (even though it still drags along a good number of proletarians led astray), arrives as reinforcement to the capitalist state, led by reformist leaders at the service of the latter. The second, proletarian, denouncing capitalism ardently and attacking its interests.” (19)
It appears extremely important to denounce, like many comrades and groups standing against the current, the true opposition between the proletarian movement and all this anti-summits and citizen celebrations, organized by Attac and the like. However, to claim, as below in the leaflet, that these two distinct demonstrations coincide with two different social movements, one reformist and the other anti-capitalist, is to envisage things in an absolute and insufficiently dialectic way. Indeed, despite the obvious differences that distinguish those demonstrations, they both contain the class contradiction. The social democrat one guides the proletarians like docile sheep. The other one (that began 3 hours later), via its radical mottos, tended towards proletarian rupture, but contained a whole range of centrist positions and ideologies peculiar to social democracy, as we shall see further. All this takes shape, for example, in the belief of the vast majority of demonstrators, that they can confront capitalism without confronting social democracy (constituent of capitalism) at the same time and in the same way, or, despite their capacity to organize themselves outside social democracy, in their difficulties to organize against it.
Official or parallel summits fever and falsehood of the alternative bourgeois projects
These last years have seen the trend of summits and anti-summits rise and make a qualitative step forward in simultaneity with the radicalisation of the proletarian protests against them. Nowadays, organizing a summit no longer consists solely of sorting out the general meetings, the commissions, lodgement for those attending the congress or anti-congress, the official celebrations and the democrat citizen ones organised by the “anti-globalisation militants”. It is also necessary to anticipate the proletarian ruptures and outflanking, and, consequently, to provide for specialised repressive forces, prepare the reinforcement of border inspection, concentration of shock troops, filming and broadcasting teams, specific services like bodyguards for the congress or anti-congress personalities, troop transport vehicles, tanks, anti-demonstration fences, and settling of the secret services from all around the world. It also requires planning access or evacuation procedures for the congress protagonists, in case the attacks would reach the official centres, and the extraordinary mobilisation of medical services for the wounded, as well as gathering weapons and gasses, and getting the confinement cells and detention centres ready to welcome a large number of prisoners. As an example, on the occasion of the IMF and World Bank congress of Prague, no less than 170 policemen and 123 demonstrators were wounded, around 900 persons were arrested, while damage inflicted on private property amounted a million dollars, which is after all fairly insignificant compared to the real cost of these little meetings, which is said to include even potential airborne evacuation of the main personalities as well as air and anti-missile coverage of the zone. (20) Of course, all this information (along with the inevitable distortions and falsifications) echoed all over the world, giving the impression that we were indeed witnessing an historic conflict of exceptional intensity, which for some is a battle between the supporters of globalisation and the anti-globalisation ones, while some others see it as a sort of capitalism versus anti-capitalism, international capital versus international revolution conflict.
Despite these clashes actually being a part of the all-time confrontation between the preservation of the private property’s world and the proletarian struggle for social revolution:
to imagine that a balance of forces is presently being enforced that would impede the development of capital’s current international policy, is to be deeply unaware of capitalism own functioning;
to imagine that it truly is a confrontation between two different projects (neo-liberalism versus anti-neo-liberalism, globalisation versus anti-globalisation) and that the bourgeois left-wing really has a distinct capitalist project, also proves a total ignorance of the very essence of the bourgeois social formation and a total misunderstanding of these capitalist factions conglomerate’s function;
and finally, to believe that, thanks to “direct action”, the proletariat has at last found the path of proletarian internationalism, or as alleged by some groups, that through these actions we are entering a phase of direct confrontation between capitalist internationalism and proletarian internationalism, not only evidences unawareness of capitalism’s functioning, but comes to forget, deform, falsify the revolution’s program, the revolutionary strategy, and inevitably leads to favouring confusion, by assuming a centrist role (attempting to prevent the necessary rupture) within the proletarian movement.
Let us now provide some explanations about the two first points. The last one is a matter of the proletariat’s own development and revolutionary affirmation, and we shall bring it up in the following chapters.
The international policy, nowadays called neo-liberal or “globalisation”, does not have a long-term viable bourgeois alternative. This policy obeys to the intrinsic rules of the system that has been global ever since it has existed and that bases its functioning on the famous market’s “invisible hand”, namely the rule of value. Contrarily to what is sometimes heard, this is not “one” of capital’s policies, this is capitalism’s “natural” implementation, and this is the rule that will ultimately impose itself. The different so-called “alternative” economic policies can only, very partially and in a limited way in time and/or space, correct or reduce its enforcement. Populists (from Getulio Vargas to Peron, from Cardenas to Nasser), the so-called socialist countries, but also fascism, Nazism, Francoism… were its most durable expressions. These historic attempts to affirm a different capitalist project on the long term (by restricting the law of value’s application on account of protectionism) could only have had limited duration, beyond which failure was inevitable.
For those same reasons it is not possible to render “more human” a system that is not. In the same way, there can be no environment-friendly capitalism, or capitalism without wars. Whatever happened to the bourgeois “ecologic” surge of awareness, for example, it did little to protect nature from the mischief of capitalist’s production; on the contrary, it turned the “ecologic” and “natural” into commodity. The constant search for maximum profitability and the enterprises’ impressive adaptation abilities, ready to sell basically anything under the ecologic label, make the capitalist dictatorship on nature even harsher, and pose a threat for all species, and the human one in particular. In the same way, it is absolutely impossible to pacify the capitalist world, as the whole of the pacifist capitalist policies only use peace as a war implement.
Hiding this reality is more and more difficult. Capital’s catastrophe has reached such proportions that the room for manoeuvre, that not so long ago allowed implementing somewhat dissimilar economic policies, has shrunk: capitalism nowadays tends irreversibly and globally to unify its policies; both left-wing and right-wing make it clearer everyday, that there is only one possible capitalist policy (and that’s what all leftists who accessed power now persistently avow!). Thus, insofar as they have been co-opted to take part in the decisions, the “anti-neo-liberals” and “anti-globalists” from the opposition inevitably turn into “neo-liberals” and “pro-globalisation” and are compelled to enforce the very opposite of what they had been defending until then. Still, we cannot consider this is an expression of their free will, or simply that they are just a bunch of cynical liars, because it is indeed true that capitalism compels them to implement its own policy in a much stronger way than these leftists had imagined.
Along with capital’s expansion, the ability to moderate, at a regional level, the international law of value’s enforcement has dwindled in time and space. Ultra-protectionist capitalism, like the one that reigned during numerous years in Russia, China, and Albania… is inconceivable nowadays. The days of the Cuban capitalist regime and Castroist reactionary leaders are now numbered. Stalinism, the ultra-reactionary model of capitalist development (it seals its borders as an attempt to oppose the progress of the productive forces’ development, international capital’s natural tendency, the law of value), was not eradicated by democratic ideas or because of its ruthless use of concentration camps (capitalism always made use of them), but merely because the strict implementation of the law of value cannot be indefinitely withheld. Indeed, the wider the gap between, on one side, productive force’s worldwide development and the ensuing international devalorisation, and on the other, the protectionist restriction of that devalorisation in a given productive area, the faster the catastrophe and socio-economic implosion of that area will occur (cf. what happened in Eastern Europe).
This process has been accelerating with the development of capital’s contradictions, and it is more and more difficult to maintain, through subsidization, the viability of certain productive areas and economic activity sectors. From the local governments’ point of view, whose mission is to offer the best rate of profit in order to attract capital (a policy always in accordance with the international credit organisms and particularly the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank), it means not only to increase the exploitation rate as much as possible, but also to avoid taxing lucrative sectors to finance non-lucrative sectors (redistribution of profit). This process explains the tendency towards homogeneousness of the wide-scale bourgeois policy. So, if bourgeois politicians still deliver somewhat distinct speeches (and even then, less and less!), when it comes to governing, they all implement, with a few variations, the International Monetary Fund’s policy. This is one of the reasons for the so-called “betrayal” of leftists who accessed government and in conclusion enforce a “right-wing policy”, or ecologists who finally end up supporting the national and international war effort (NATO’s included), and, more globally, the destruction of the planet and human life. If they implement a “right-wing” policy, it’s because, from capital’s point of view, it’s the only valid one (21): it is necessary to generate profit and attract capital on the basis of that profitability. If some differences in the speeches still remain, it is not as a reflection of true differences between economic policies, but rather because on certain occasions, facing the proletariat, only in the name of left-wing or ecology can austerity measures be enforced.
That’s why, even from the capitalist’s point of view, nothing else is to be expected from this conglomerate of factions, which, in their speeches, blame the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank. These bourgeois factions only differ in the manner they intend to channel the proletarians who, under unceasing attack by the progresses of capitalism, grow a sort of nostalgia for a “less aggressive and less destructive” world, forever gone. (22) This idiotic nostalgia induces the naïve desire to protect local production, relieved from the domination of these gigantic international enterprises, which, without scruples, destroy everything in the name of capital. It is no project but the typical helpless lamentation of local and “more ecologic” management. A leaflet, from the Spanish CNT of Barcelona, dated from the 23rd of September 2000, was concluded precisely on this motto, perfect expression of the ideological, utopian and reactionary claims of this bundle of “anti-globalist” bourgeois factions: “Support to local, ecologic and self-ruled economy”.
Furthermore, it is obvious that the development of these pseudo-projects constitutes the ideological expression of various bourgeois factions’ protectionist interests, particular and localist ones, which, as such, promote the imperialistic struggle (and wars). Therefore, it is not a matter, despite the content of their speeches, of achieving a “more human capitalism” –capitalism is and has always been inhuman and the antagonism between capitalism and humanity can only grow worse-, it is all about containing the proletariat with these reactionary utopias and exhorting it to the defence of their local, regional, national interests… No wonder then, that in many countries, the extreme right wing declares itself in favour of the “anti-globalisation”. Its real intent is, of course, to regain credibility in the eyes of the exploited and channel the growing proletarian rage towards the way things are going on around the planet into the grounds of the inter-bourgeois struggle, of the imperialistic war.
Role of the proletariat in the circus of summits and its drifts: question of the proletarian autonomy
This whole show of summits and anti-summits aims to present the protests of Davos, Seattle, Prague, and Genoa... as the real alternative to the present world. Even outside the overtly social democrat factions, it is of good taste to consider these days when summits, street battles… take place, as the very essence of the struggle, found at last, that would oppose the present development of capitalism, as the quintessence of proletarian internationalism. In this chapter we will therefore focus on the role currently assigned to the action of the proletariat within these summits, with the aim to specify our interests and to define the proletarian policy to adopt facing this big circus.
In order to go deeper into this question, it is essential to analyse the issue of the difference existing between the way the struggle of our class expresses itself against the summits and anti-summits, and the proletarian struggles that, as we said, are currently characterised by abrupt qualitative leaps (although sporadic and without continuity), by extremely violent struggles that attack the whole political spectrum and that develop out of any mediation, as it happened these last years in Romania, Venezuela, Albania, Algeria… or more recently, in Indonesia, Ecuador… It is necessary to analyse the issue of the existing interaction between each of these struggles, proletarian ways of expression.
As an example, and to make the global understanding easier, let’s compare the struggles that took place in Seattle, with those that occurred, in early 2000, in Ecuador. In both cases entire factions of the proletariat confronted capital, thousands of proletarians opposed the different national and international structures of the world capitalistic state. In both cases they confronted the repressive corps that protect private property, as well as capital’s decisional centres. In both cases they fought the local leaders as well as the international leaders of capital.
Let’s now proceed while insisting on the differences. (23) Although we make this comparison in order to oppose some subtler conceptions, we’ll start by emphasizing the most stupid and short-sighted prejudices derived from the social democrat ideology. According to the vision of Attac and Co, the struggles in each country cannot go further because the decisional centres of capital, or better said of financial capital, are the World Bank and the IMF, and it is at the time of summit meetings that these institutions decide the fate of the planet. Attac and Co do not therefore recognise that the proletarian movement is the same in Seattle as it is in Ecuador. But even if they would accept this idea they would pretend that in Seattle the movement is international and decisive, whereas in Ecuador it is local, indigenous, economicist and without great impact. In essence, they would state that it is thanks to the protests in Seattle, Davos, and Washington… that attack the centre of the system that capitalism faces difficulties in imposing the measures, recommended by the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund.
We counter this by insisting that in Ecuador proletarians confronted not only the local bourgeoisie, but also the international bourgeoisie. Through its action the proletariat opposed the austerity plans sponsored by these famous institutions such as the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank. The generalisation of this movement would have allowed to impose an international balance of forces which would have called into question any increase in the rate of exploitation; its qualitative development would have called into question the exploitation itself. Contrary to this the only thing that the proletarian movement fighting against the summits and anti-summits, against the plans of the IMF, etc. can be expected to achieve is that these meetings do not take place, that the delegates to these congresses, or more generally the representatives of world capitalism, are hindered by terror. But it will not prevent decisions being taken. This will be done discreetly, without fanfare, in secret alcoves or through “confidential” inter-bourgeois contacts… But one way or another, the decisions will be taken!
Although the actions such as the ones that took place in Ecuador, are geographically limited, they are capable (a large number of historic examples is testament to this) of imposing an international balance of forces against capital, to freeze the measures attacking the proletariat (as in Bolivia where the measures about the running water that national and international capital wanted to impose have since been withdrawn).
On the other hand, the action in Seattle, although more general and certainly more spectacular, is nevertheless incapable of imposing a balance of forces allowing, for example, a prevention of an increase of the rate of exploitation.
The adjournment of the meeting of the World Bank in Barcelona, planned for June 2001, incited our enemies to call it a triumph. As far as we are concerned, we consider that even if one succeeds in eliminating all the conferences from the surface of the earth, even if one destroys the whole of the buildings housing the meetings of these international organisms, one would not succeed in preventing the implementation of the measures, country by country. It is necessary to clearly affirm it in order to refute the opposing myth. This does not at all depreciate the struggle of the proletarians against the summits and anti-summits, struggles that inspire a real panic to the delegates attending these congresses, the cops, the governments and the social democrats. As we will see later, these sectors of the proletariat could play a decisive role in the generalisation of the struggle, in the consciousness and the international direction of the movement.
Let’s therefore proceed with our comparison. In Ecuador this movement is the result of a set of partial struggles, led by different sectors of the proletariat in order to defend their interests against “their own” bourgeoisie, “their own” trade unionists, “their own” social democrat parties… In the beginning the requirements were different, then the discontent grew and spread. The proletarian struggle occupied the street and the particular demands became generalised. (24) Decisional centres of the state (parliament, judicial power, presidency, places of meetings for political parties…) were attacked.
In Seattle, the movement was composed of those who want to attack what they consider to be the decisional centres of capital and the world state. And this is true for the proletarians who walk like good little sheep in social democrat processions as well as for those who outflank them and who will confront social democracy, getting organised outside it, and often even against it. The starting point of the proletarians who went to Seattle is apparently more global, more politicised (25) and more determined by the political will than by the immediate interest, the social interest. They start from their positions, from their revolutionary ideas, even though these are, in turn, the result of the consciousness of the generalised immediate interests of the proletariat.
Through its opposition to the expressions of capital and the state, the movement in Ecuador, social product of the proletarian interests becoming widespread, directly contains, represents and assumes the interests of the international proletariat against capital and the world state. The consequent struggle for their interests led the proletarians to practically oppose the attempts of social democrat containment, despite what the protagonists might think. In Ecuador the proletarian movement, whose interests emerged and developed with this movement, was urged to break away from any of social democrat containment. In Seattle, on the contrary, only the political positions and the programmatical clarity allow to develop and to deepen the break from social democracy.
In Ecuador the proletariat was only able to defend the interests for which the movement started, if it breaks away from the social democrat containment and assumes its class autonomy. When it decided to go to Quito, considered to be a decisional centre of capital, it’s because it can’t stand it any longer, because it wanted to get rid of those who starve it. It was an attack! Because everybody advised to stay quiet and “to go back home”. Nobody invited these proletarians to Quito, and there is neither a summit, nor an anti-summit to “welcome” them. Only the police will be there and will first do its best to prevent them from reaching capital city. And in spite of this the proletariat will impose its determination. The trade union containment and the bourgeois left will try to jump on the bandwagon, but they’ll only just manage to follow it.
On the other hand, in Seattle, the summits triggered the movement. The places and dates of the gathering are determined according to the summits. This was not a proletarian force, which decided to go to Seattle; proletarians were invited to participate like a submissive herd in processions whose planning is based on the meetings’ schedule. Besides these processions, and to a certain extent outside and against them, there were groups of proletarians ready to fight against this containment. Of course, these groups were not invited… and they were rather feared. It was against them that the repressive forces were organised. It was because of them that the checking at the borders was reinforced. These proletarian factions ready to fight this framework went to Seattle for their programmatical positions. They were going there to mark and develop their refusal of capital as a whole. Only the perception of the interests of the international proletariat, transformed into class-consciousness and into positions (filtered by the bourgeois ideology, in spite of a struggle against it), would allow them to oppose social democracy and to develop the proletarian autonomy. Moreover, the majority of the proletarians who went to Seattle in order to develop the proletarian struggle belonged to an organisation, a network (very fashionable expression nowadays), a movement, a group or were considered as part of their organised periphery.
This makes a considerable distinction between both examples. In Ecuador the breaking was determined by the unavoidable development of antagonistic interests. In Seattle it depended almost exclusively on the programs and flags of the groups present. This determined that, during events such as Seattle, the political discussion with the groups and the participating organisations acquired great importance. In the same way, the programmatical critique of the organisations which pretended to develop and urge a proletarian rupture became decisive as well as the denunciation of all centrist ideologies that prevented the rupture and/or that wanted to push forward the proletariat while giving a more violent character to the protest of the bourgeois left in the name of the limits of the proletarian consciousness. As we will see later, the fact of giving the bourgeois left wing a more violent character cannot constitute on any account the action program of the proletariat.
The comradely critique we have for these expressions is part and parcel of the rupture movement that is currently developing, whether it is in Seattle, in Ecuador or anywhere else in the world. Despite the differences we emphasised in this or that case, it is still one and the same movement, whose practice we assume. This is our movement,… our world fight against capital. But when from the inside we try to make a critical balance sheet of the strengths and weaknesses of a movement like the one in Ecuador, we feel that its important aspect lies in its practical dynamics and not in the analysis of the flags, groups and positions, which we consider in this case as being secondary. On the other hand, in Seattle, as the political positions were the starting point for this gathering of forces, their analysis and their critique must be taken into consideration without forgetting that, there too, the autonomous struggle of the international proletariat is at stake, against the bourgeois society and all the recycling proposed by the left wing. In the following chapters we shall analyse how, during these summits, the struggle for the autonomy of the proletariat tries to take shape and we shall give priority to the political positions of the protagonists over their autonomy in every street demonstration.
However, before starting this analysis, it seems imperative to specify that the autonomy in the street is extremely important, and this is why the motto “outside and against the summits and anti-summits" as well as the critique of proletarians marching like good little sheep is fundamental. The Internationalist Communist Group, through several leaflets and propaganda actions, clearly expressed this position during these struggles.
It is just as fundamental (and we endorse this as we can) to criticise the practice of the radical columns of these demonstrations, in order to urge them not to participate in these social democrat processions anymore, even to “outflank the demonstration” or to “radicalise it”. Seeing that in such circumstances the proletarian rupture can only take place through the programmatical rupture, through the programmatical and organisative advance of the most radical factions, we are now going to focus on the programmatical positions expressed at the time of these demonstrations.
Class violence: revolutionaries or activists and opportunists?
Let’s now consider in depth the ground of the classist rupture. Let’s leave the bleating sheep and concentrate on the radical proletarian fringes we are interested in, on the closest militants or groups of militants, those who go to these demonstrations to confront capital and the state, those who consider that it is decisive to attack social democracy, those who say they are revolutionaries and are present there to develop the revolutionary struggle.
It is clear that to consider oneself as revolutionary expresses a real qualitative leap: it means to assume in a voluntary, organised and conscious way an activity aimed at the destruction of capitalism and the state. We have to point out, in order to reiterate the previous comparison, that when the movement in Ecuador decreases, there remains, in the best case only a few small cores of revolutionary militants who try to draw the lessons and to establish contact with other revolutionaries throughout the world. In Seattle on the contrary, minorities already exist, organised in a permanent way and that will give continuity to their organisation independently of the summits, and this constitutes an extremely important affirmation of the tendency of the proletariat to get organised as a force and as a historic affirmation of the revolutionary militancy. We are part of this process and within this it seems essential to us to practice the comrade critique.
One doesn’t become revolutionary by a single act of will, but according to his social practice, the practical role he plays, what he defends in practice. This is valid for militants as well as for the political organisations. It is the social practice, the real social project that positions a group, a militant, on one side or the other of the barricade.
History is full of examples of organisations that on behalf of revolution defended counter-revolution, of national and international political structures that on behalf of socialism, communism and/or anarchism defended precisely the opposite: capitalism and its state. At the root of all opportunisms, of all renunciations of the program of revolution, one always finds, as a decisive factor of the treason, the ideology of the “lesser evil”, the “realistic” politics, “we don’t have to fright the proletariat with radical propositions”, “the masses would not understand”, the need to proceed “step by step”, the dissolution of the revolutionary program “to go where the masses are”, and finally, the replacement of the communist program by a set of partial reforms or bridge-programs that always lead to the defence of capital. In order to prevail, the counter-revolution always uses the same artifices, and these are not very numerous. This is why it is important to analyse the struggles of the past and to draw lessons from them.
Within the organisations and groups present in Davos, Seattle, Prague… in the pamphlets, leaflets and publications as well as in the discussions, what we see in the first place is that, for those who pretend to be revolutionaries, the main unifying and demarcating element is to assume and claim class violence, and naturally, organised violence of the class minorities. (26) Against the ideology of “non-violence”, so widespread in the official processions and that eases the cops’ job since it allows the police to put on file, to gas, to humiliate and beat up thousands of human beings without triggering any reaction from their part, it is logical and very important that groups that claim revolution assume and exhort to revolutionary violence. It is an invariant necessity, a basic element of the rupture with the social democrat ideology and, at an international level, an objective affirmation of the proletarian tendency to break up with theoricism and lounge lizard ideologists.
Socially assuming violence, as an elementary phenomenon, as an indispensable human necessity against the society of capital, reappears on the agenda in all of the proletariat movements. It is obvious that international awareness of the necessity of class minority violence against the social democrat pacifist ideology is rising. This awareness is and will be decisive for the structuring of the proletariat as a worldwide force. This present tendency is determined by the exacerbation of all the contradictions of capital, and also by the action and the denunciation that we have put forward for decades like so many other revolutionary minorities. We emphasize this because it is a strong point of the movement and its vanguard expressions present in Seattle, in Ecuador, in Paris, in Moscow…
Today like yesterday, any group or organisation that is opposed to the proletarian minorities’ violence while putting forward antisubstitutionism, antiterrorism, the mythical “class violence as a whole”, belongs in fact to social democracy and to the bourgeois state.
However, violence alone cannot be considered as a sufficient element of a rupture. Considered separately, in itself, it does not allow a setting up of a demarcation line between reform and revolution, as the bourgeois left wing tries to make us believe. Between reform (that also uses violence to defend the system) and revolution, there is a class abyss concerning social project and program. The proletariat has to practically organise itself outside and against social democracy, and delimitate as clearly as possible the opposing sides. The practical affirmation of the proletariat as an independent class simultaneously implies a theoretical definition of methods and objectives clearly demarcating from the bourgeois forces. To believe that this demarcation can exclusively occur on the basis of opposition between violence and non-violence, is absolutely insufficient and leads to confusion.
However, within the movement against the summits, there is a great disregard for the revolutionary theory, for the program of the destruction of capitalism, for the struggle in favour of precise programmatical agreements, for the question of the party and the question of power. Thus, in the shade of social democracy and as violent expression of its being, an ideology has grown that denies or minimises the importance of these issues on behalf of freedom or “libertarian mood”, of “direct action” and “revolutionary practice”. This conception is based on “activity”, “the practicality”, and unity coming through “the struggles in the street”. We mercilessly criticise this conception because it always leads to opportunism.
Firstly, denying the importance of revolutionary theory and programmatical discussion obviously constitutes a very precise “revolutionary” theory, even if its supporters deny this. The refusal to define the revolutionary program of the proletariat, combined with the apology of “direct action” in the immediate activity and “libertarianism” in the political sphere, is a very concrete program and is nothing new. Opportunists of the 19th and early 20th century, starting with Bernstein himself, already based their concept on this maxim: “the final goal is nothing, the movement is everything”.
Even worse, this movementism, this empiricism feels confident and strong because it is capable of leading masses to action, without frightening them with positions such as the necessary dictatorship of the proletariat for the abolition of wage labour. However, from the point of view of the proletariat, this lack of direction, of program and perspective, of permanent organisation and this failure to assume the necessity to get centralised, constitutes a great historic weakness allowing, once more, our manipulation. From the point of view of the groups that support and urge this empiric and antiprogrammatical practice, it’s an open door to opportunism, frontism, to the ideology of the lesser evil, and in general, to falling into social democracy, on the grounds of the counter-revolution.
Considering the current characteristics of the proletarian struggles around the world, what the movement is precisely lacking is perspective, continuity, revolutionary direction, insurrectionary preparation, which means affirmation of a force aware of where it is heading to, that fights to acquire a centralisation and a direction. The proletariat affirms itself as a class only when it violently and abruptly reappears in the struggle, a fact that today is geographically very limited. At the present time, this is the great weakness of our class: it is incapable of recognising itself in the struggles that occur at the other end of the planet. It is as if, every time, the movement starts from scratch again, without having accumulated any historical experience. To not consider itself as a world class, to not recognise its own past, generates the inability to affirm (and, worse still, to be aware of) the program of the destruction of capitalism. For that reason the libertarian, practicist, movementist… ideologies, which all together oppose “direct action” to the revolutionary program, are today more harmful than ever. They have taken up the role of the opportunists of the past: to prevent the revolutionary rupture with social democracy.
The fact that these groups and organisations consider themselves as revolutionary is not enough to rank them among the revolutionaries. Indeed, their real practice consists precisely in defending this empirical ideology, this revolutionary anti-theory that always marches hand in hand with the activist practice.
The majority of these militants who pretend to be revolutionaries consider that the central activity of the revolution consists in agitating, activating, arousing the struggle of the proletariat, leading permanent campaigns against such or such multinational or institution of capital and of course against the bourgeois summits. We don’t criticise the fact that these activists consider themselves as revolution professionals, that they get organised and try with all their heart to develop the revolution; we criticise the fact that, according to them, revolution would result, not from the historic struggles of a social class, but from the generalisation of their actions, from this activism. (27) This ideology based on the specificity of the agitation action, of the recruitment in its favour and on the illusion of the capacity to destroy capitalism thanks to the generalisation of activism (some go as far as associating victory with the number of busses bringing activists to the next summit), clearly indicates an ignorance and an objective contempt not only for the historical movement to which these groups belong, but especially regarding the existing relation between the struggles they lead and other present or past proletarian struggles, that is to say regarding the revolutionary program. Activism thus closes its eyes to the historic arch of the communist struggle against capital; it defends “activity” against revolutionary theory, “direct action” against the necessity to get organised as a political force, a revolutionary party, a centralised force for the abolition of capitalistic social order. Even when it refers to organisation, activism never considers constituting itself as a worldwide force, developing permanency and centralisation: the worldwide party. It refers on the contrary to informal networks, to unity through action, to agreements on such campaigns. While repeating the old social democrat separation between practice and theory, while depreciating theory and pretending to act on behalf of the masses, of the will of those who struggle, of workers’ democracy… activism always leads to the degeneration of political groups. These worshippers of immediatism end up running behind the masses and sacrificing the essence of the revolutionary program.
Revolutionary International? Activist lie!
Activism originates in the concept according to which the revolutionary International constitutes itself on the basis of immediate action. Nowadays, several groups that question the classic social democrat positions participate in the circus of summits and anti-summits, in their propaganda; they assert it is about a confrontation between the capitalist International and the revolutionary International. As an example the international secretary of the FSA-IWA has no hesitation in titling his document about Prague: “The Capitalist International against the Anarcho-Syndicalist International”.
In spite of the power of certain confrontations of our class against the summits and anti-summits, in spite of the violence of outflanking movements and confrontations against the police, in spite of the broken shop windows, etc. it is totally inadequate to refer to this as a revolutionary International. A revolutionary International is much more than all this, not only in quantitative terms related to the expressions of violence, but also in qualitative terms. To glorify these proletarian actions and to identify them with a revolutionary International constitutes a gross distortion of facts and brings forth a completely false picture of what a revolutionary International must be, and this, for different reasons.
The first is that the degree of autonomy of the proletariat remains very relative. Above all because the proletariat does not determine the places, dates and conditions of the confrontations; they are imposed on it by the class enemy (28) and settled at the time of the summits and/or the parallel summits. And even if trying to prevent their realisation or demonstrating against them is a part of the protest, one cannot speak about autonomy of action if one is entirely dependant on these summits to appear and demonstrate.
And indeed, several groups and militants draw the following lessons from Seattle: “it is not necessary to throw oneself into the lion’s jaws”, “it is our decision of where, when and how we will demonstrate”. (29) Becoming aware of this reality constitutes one of the strongest aspects, developed by the minorities that urge violent action, and several organisations and groups state the necessity to get organised apart from the circus of the summits and anti-summits. Different associations, networks and assemblies begin to claim this objective, shaping thus the embryo of a community of struggle that could be decisive in the future and could foreshadow through its practice, the direction the proletariat needs.
However, and it is necessary to affirm this very clearly, at the time of these summits, even though class violence develops, the degree of autonomy of the proletariat remains weak, extremely weak. This is of great relief for the cops in their work of preparation and knowledge of the ground in case of “combat” as well as in order to set up cameras, to film, to put on file and to identify “the more dangerous elements”.
The bourgeoisie has already achieved important successes at the time of such operations. We have to note the excellent division of work that has been achieved, in order to channel, to scatter and to repress the proletariat: a maximum of people are invited, numbed by sheep-like strolls behind the inevitable pacifist groups; and it is made sure that the “nasty” ones are channelled into processions apart from the main stream or under different colours, with the declared objective to express themselves through violence and to smash shop windows, obviously making the police’s action easier. Sleep therapy for the great majority, truncheons and filings for those who look for confrontation, this is how our enemies work in order to divide the proletariat. This is like filtering the movement, selecting and identifying perfectly those to be put on file, and those to be arrested.
The predominant ideology in a large number of these activist groups makes this division of work easier. The fact that they don’t define themselves outside and against the official processions of protests and that large numbers agree to form other columns within these same processions is a contribution towards the state’s action. Moreover, in some cases, those who take the head of the outflanking actions are none other than the “youth sections” of leftist groups or factions of social democracy (Maoist, Trotskyites, guerrillerists…) who obviously do not stand against social democracy, against the propositions aiming to humanise capitalism, but through their so-called “radical” actions (spectacular, in fact) actually give a greater credibility to social democracy. (30)
Things would be different if the most determined sectors of the proletariat acted to prevent this division of work, if they rejected the separation between those who parade gently and the “hooligans”, if they organised violence in order to fight processions and official protests and to bring thus the whole of the proletarians to violently protest and confront not only the official police, but also the trade-union and left wing cops who, in collaboration with the first, guarantee the division of work and state terrorism.
One may retort that the balance of forces is not in our favour to face the left wing bourgeoisie, that shock troops of the left wing and the trade-union cops still guarantee the peaceful order in their demonstrations, but these affirmations do nothing but confirm the lack of autonomy we referred to above.
This shows that the ideology dominant in this milieu is the one of the lesser evil; it shows that, because of this ideology, the organisation of the proletarian violence never overtly expresses itself against social democracy and the anti-summits but always against the right wing and the official summits; it shows that, because of this ideology, the organisation of the proletarian violence forms itself on the social democratic grounds (as if the proletariat could conquer its autonomy in such way!) and that it breaks out not against social democracy (that is on the whole rather unaffected, despite verbal criticism blaming it for “pacifism and other deviations”), but against the rampart which protects the bourgeoisie: the official police. (31)
All this is a matter of bourgeois leftism and clearly aims at diverting the proletariat from its society’s critique. A revolutionary direction must fight for the opposite, to prevent the division of work carried out by the bourgeoisie with anaesthetising speeches and processions, with truncheons and police files, from being crowned with success. Rather than confronting super-trained policemen who are just expecting for it, it would be more judicious to attack the social democrats by surprise, clearly less prepared, or to fight policemen when they do not expect it and when we decide it. To walk along social democracy or into different coloured columns, but still in its wake, to give radicalism to these demonstrations, has a catastrophic result for the proletariat. It is necessary to get organised outside and against these social democrat processions, to constitute oneself as a force to stand in their way, and to prevent them from achieving their forums like in Porto Alegre. To structure the proletarian force, to choose our own objectives, to stop considering, as Attac and the forum of Porto Alegre do, that the enemy is the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, that’s what will be decisive for the future.
To confront the same objectives as social democracy, even in a violent and radical way, is falling into the ideology of the lesser evil and accepting the frontism, principle that, in the name of antifascism, led the Marxists-Leninists as well as the anarcho-syndicalists and the Trotskyites, to stand for the bourgeois state against the revolution (first in 1936/37 in Spain, and then everywhere around the world).
Until now, only one thing seems to matter: to prevent, through violence, the meetings of the International Monetary Fund, of the World Bank… No mention is ever made of the meetings of Attac, or the Socialist International or the Social Forums, and this brings to the fore the weakness of our class and, especially, the predominance of centrism, even in the most radical demonstrations of the proletariat.
In these demonstrations, and in spite of the presence of columns under different colours, the proletariat associates itself with social democracy and marches alone against the enemies of social democracy, revealing that we are still at the very beginning of the class autonomy process. The proletariat, in order to autonomise itself, must also break from the so-called “autonomists” who lead it in these processions and citizen celebrations, organised by the social democrats (even if it is to radicalise them) that prevent our class from achieving real autonomy.
Urban guerrilla warfare? Insurrection?
Some people also claim that this kind of confrontation corresponds to a certain extent with “urban guerrilla warfare, a kind of insurrection or insurrectionary practice”. This concept could be interesting if, in reality, it was organised on a basis of its own which is currently not the case. The real insurrectionary revolutionary struggle cannot be based on going to where the repression forces await and stand ready to give us a beating, nor on confronting a hyper-prepared enemy who’s just waiting for it. It’s a good old scenario: the bourgeoisie and the repression leaders send in a troop of over-trained mercenaries against which we come a cropper while they remain safely under cover. What else could they wish better than seeing our force bumping into the shield walls that protect them while they remain unscathed?
Moreover, the laws of insurrection are precisely the opposite of this scenario: concentration of proletarian forces against an enemy who’s not expecting it; choice of the place and the moment according to the objectives, attack where and when we are less awaited; denial of military-type combat when the odds are unfavourable; spread deceptive rumours of an attack date, and act before, when the enemy isn’t ready yet, or after, when he is tired of waiting; avoid getting stuck into a resistance based upon static strong points; disperse facing an advancing enemy and regroup for surprise counter-attacks; make barracks unusable as well as other places where troops are confined and concentrated to ensure their obedience; hit the capitalists, the governors and the heads of the repression in their homes, prevent them from directing the repressive terrorist operations either by capturing them, isolating them, or somehow hindering their ability to command…
Let’s go even further: from the point of view of the insurrection we have no interest in confronting and destroying policemen as such (even though we’ll show no mercy for any agent of law and order who enforces terror!), what is necessary is the destruction of the coherence of the repression corps (appeal for turning their guns against their officers); to confront the forces used as rampart by the bourgeoisie as a whole does nothing but stiffen their famous esprit de corps.
This is why the “guerrillerist conception” that is nowadays so fashionable deserves all our criticism. This conception presents a caricature of the guerrilla warfare while inciting to the struggle apparatus against apparatus, always favourable to the state. It seems that the “head of insurrectionary operations” –maybe because of the lack of revolutionary perspectives- takes pride in the amount of wounded policemen as well as the number of people put on police files and injured in our ranks. Reports from leftist bourgeois circulating around the Internet and on video, keep track of the number of injured and glorify the spectacular pictures of confrontations, pretending that’s how the social revolution gains ground. A mere consultation of sites like Indymedia is enough to have an idea of the craze for “action” and “revolt” pictures trading that has taken hold of the activist milieu, and of the way of which they deal with this, which, finally, only benefits spectacle… and the police.
The revolutionary struggle will generate injuries, prisoners and deaths among proletarians, but it’s in our interest that they are as few as possible. We already have too many victims! All historic examples clearly indicate that when a proletarian insurrection unfolds, there are not too many victims, and that when the heads of the repression and the bourgeois state are directly attacked; the number of fallen comrades remains limited. Inversely, the number of victims rises as soon as one calls to resist or to demonstrate against the repressive power of the state. (32)
Lack of revolutionary program, the violence exhibition
What we just described is another expression of the lack of program and revolutionary perspectives in these confrontations. It is indicative of the absence of a true and deep criticism of the bourgeois society and the non-existence of a strategy aimed at destroying the capitalist society. Hence, to speak of a revolutionary International standing against a capital International amounts to falsify the very nature of a revolutionary International. What revolutionary International do they refer to? To these bright red or azure blue columns, these colourful groups that all join in the same social democrat parade? What makes these columns different from the ones that openly claim their social democrat allegiance? The mere fact that they confront the IMF or WB monsters through the use of violence?
The international secretary of the FSA-IWA feels no shame in declaring that his group, the blue block, must show to the poor people all around the world –via television (33)- that in Europe, there are people who fight against the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank: “It was a class war rampant tornado, we knew that was not the usual way we operate, but we all knew that we had to show the poor and moribund proletarians from all over the world that here, in Europe, there are courageous people who not only criticize and condemn, but also do not fear to confront physically to the IMF and the WB, who are determined to impede their congresses, who risk their lives and health to put an end to the macabre deeds of the hunger and ecological destruction’s engineers.”
We see to what point this violence is framed, in a trade union manner, to make sure transgressions aren’t directed against the bourgeois left wing. However, when the proletarian protest is not contained by trade unionists (whether they call themselves libertarian or anarcho-syndicalists), things transpire very differently, and, as it happened in Kabylia, Algeria, the press is forced to admit that the rioters display aggression to both official parties and opposition ones. (34) Quite remarkable as well is the complacency with which these pretentious individuals distinguish the specialists of social change, the anarcho-syndicalists, from the proletarians of the whole world. We shall also note the euro-racist distinction applied to the decisive character of whatever happens in Europe, and the rest of the world where there is nothing more than misery and submission. As if the proletarians of the rest of the world were nothing but ghosts, whose sole hope relies on these European trade-unionist gentlemen to show them the way! It is one of the most colossal falsifications of our times!
And the secretary of the FSA continues: “But the streets at war have proven very surprising compared to what happens normally. Little by little, those who, with great courage, charged into the police ranks have gained recognition, and it was noticed that, in those instances, capital and state forces were not attacked by punks, hooligans, or disillusioned adolescents, in short by turbulent passers-by without any political sense; right in the middle of these groups of assailants, red and black flags were everywhere to be seen, as well as shields and gas masks bearing the AIT-IWA acronym.” And to make it perfectly clear that we’re not dealing here with real transgressive action, with private property destruction, as it occurs when the proletariat assails the bourgeoisie forces as a whole, to insist on the fact that it is merely an attack directed against the right wing, the secretary of the FSA proceeds, as if providing an excuse: “It is not our way of doing (…) but confronted to the fact that 10,000 politicians and economists were congregating in the centre of Prague, negotiating and planning misery and death for millions of people, that was perhaps the only thing we could do. It should be the politicians and the economists who feel ashamed for the material and personal damage that occurred, not the valorous revolutionaries of the ‘Red and Black’ block, who have demonstrate, in the Lumir street, that Seattle is no more a valid symbol. The new symbol is right here, it's Prague!”
This has nothing to do, then, with a revolutionary International against capital. Nothing to do with a proletarian organisation whose elementary task should be, on the contrary, to bring to light the role of both the left wing and the right wing of capitalism, to prove that attacking the International Monetary Fund without also targeting its indispensable complements such as Attac & Co. ends up contributing to the strengthening of the proletariat’s enemies. The revolutionary International will organise its practice outside and against social democrat manifestations and will not solely confront a specific faction of capital, since it only fortifies it, but will oppose capital as a whole.
It is of course necessary to define objectives as clearly as possible. We need to affirm the proletariat’s struggle against capital, without excluding social democracy, which is capital’s branch devoted to taming the proletarians. In Seattle, Prague, Buenos Aires… we met groups of proletarians that brandish such mottos, but the proletariat’s lack of political and organisational autonomy leads to the re-appearance, even among the most advanced sectors, of unionist slogans which, despite blaming capital, play nonetheless by its rules. The most “intense” slogan, quoted from the blue block in Prague was, according to the secretary of the FSA: “Against capital, anarcho-syndicalist labour!”
Today, what we proletarians need most is to build up a class associationism, which has nothing to do with trade unions (whether self-proclaimed anarchist or not!). We need to affirm the core of the revolutionary program, the struggle for the international proletarian revolution, the central question of the struggle against state’s power, the struggle for its destruction, the proletarian insurrection, the dictatorship against the market and the rate of profit. To speak of a revolutionary International without including these fundamental elements seems to us counter-productive and deceitful and we assert it serves no other than the reactionary forces. That some do so deliberately and others sincerely think they serve the revolution’s cause is actually of little concern!
About the critique of false ruptures: proletarian rupture against centrism
Before proceeding with our critique on the essential question of false ruptures, let’s replace it in the present context of the balance of forces between classes. In all this circus of summits and colourful demonstrations, the guest of honour, invited to applaud and to walk in the official processions, is the proletariat.
As the imposture is too gross, as those who claim to stand at the head of the demonstrations remain the same faces, the same structures, the same social democrat programs, and although they still succeed in subjugating a large number of proletarians (sheep will always exist), the proletariat outflanks them and tends, as it autonomises itself to stand outside and against these citizens citizen celebrations.
But this splitting is not done overnight. Its affirmations still remain partial, and the weakness of our class in its rupture allows different social democrat factions to interpret, to channel the splitting and especially to prevent it from being total. Obviously, these factions that take over decisive points of the communist critique and pretend to defend the revolution, try by all means to enchain the proletariat, to make it dependent and to maintain it under the social democrat yoke. This is the classic role of factions that revolutionaries point out as being centrists because, although they take over some fundamental points of the revolutionary program, they hinder the indispensable qualitative leap that consists precisely in standing outside and against any capitalistic organisation.
Nowadays like before, centrism stands against the old opportunism and revisionism of social democracy that claim that a development of capital would be favourable to proletarians and therefore revolution should be abandoned for the benefit of evolution. (35) Taking over the proletarian critique against social democracy, a critique that opposes the revolutionary struggle against capital and the state to the open reformism of social democracy, centrism seems to carry out its action under the banner of the struggle against capital and the state, but it objects to the appeal for the constitution of a party outside and against social democracy: a party opposed to elections, to parliamentarianism, to trade unionism, to frontism… and that leads the social war to its ultimate consequences. In this sense, even though it takes over some central aspects of the proletarian critique, as it doesn’t take its critiques to the point of their ultimate consequences and as it doesn’t oppose social democracy with all its strength, centrism is in fact a full part of it and constitutes indeed the last rampart of capital.
By its nature, centrism oscillates between the revolutionary flags that it waves and a policy preventing the rupture with the historic social democracy, hence the fact that many consider it as suspended between classes. But in reality, this fluctuating policy, led in the name of the proletariat, is not and cannot be suspended above the void. It puts a brake on the constitution of the proletariat as a force and fulfils an objectively counter-revolutionary function, forming in fact an extreme faction of social democracy.
Many groups and organisations present in the circus against the summits convey a set of ideologies that hinder the necessary proletarian rupture, and this, in spite of the fact that these groups and organisations profess the struggle against capital and the state. It is precisely these centrist barriers that we want to denounce.
Anti-capitalism? Against the state?
Facing the proletarian rage against summits and anti-summits, facing the ridiculous and timid character of Attac and other social democrat structures –which are in every respect accomplices of the other factions- thousands of proletarians opposed the fundamentals of our class’ critique against these bourgeois critiques. Dozens of groups coming from the five continents, hundreds of leaflets, thrown stones, Molotov cocktails, pamphlets and articles denounce social democrats’ critique towards the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank, and put forward the struggle against capital and the state. But merely declaring to be against capital is not enough to fight against capitalism, claiming to be an anarchist or a communist is not enough to fight against the state. When we approach the very heart of the content of this critique, we note several confusions concerning the meaning and the ideologisation of an amount of pseudo ruptures, which in fact constitute a centrist position preventing the real proletarian rupture and its insurrectionalist practice.
There is so an “anti-capitalist” fashion. A lot of groups and organisations claim to be “anti-capitalists”. Nevertheless, in their practice, we very often notice that they confine themselves to the denunciation of multinational companies, monopolies, financial capital, “imperialism” (36), certain countries as well as the International Monetary Fund and the similar institutions, which comes in fact to support in a thinly veiled way the social democrat ideology of capitalism humanisation This kind of “anti-capitalism” is nothing new; it is an old social democrat story. Already in Marx’ time, these kind of anti-capitalist, socialist ideologies were in fashion, and he denounced them as bourgeois and petty bourgeois socialism. Thereafter, social democracy has theorised that “capitalism is henceforth monopolistic and imperialistic” (37), then justifying opportunism and reformism, and contributing to imperialistic war in the name of a more democratic capitalism.
Nowadays, bourgeois anti-capitalists who invariably defend a bourgeois state against another are a common thing. Moreover, entire fractions of the international bourgeoisie, that have always, in the name of socialism, supported the capitalistic and imperialistic policy of the Russian block (and sometimes belonged to it), now attempt to recycle themselves. Let us only mention the many leftist sectors that spoke about anti-capitalism in order to better defend a faction against another in the imperialistic confrontation, as at the time of the Gulf War where, in their opposition to “the Yankees”, these leftists didn’t support the proletariat but rather the Baath party, the republican guard and Saddam Hussein.
For us, it is indispensable to denounce these positions, and that’s what a leaflet signed “some libertarians” does, distributed in Canada in April 2001:
“But more insidious because closer to us, marching in our footsteps, is this new extreme tendency of respectable citizenism: of course, we’re talking about this movement self-proclaimed ‘anti-capitalist’, ‘anti-authoritarian’, ‘self-managementist’, and so on. Under the new anti-capitalism lays capital!!!
To this radical wing skilled in anti-capitalist rhetoric that deftly handles declarations of principles, we’d be tempted to reply: ‘keep talking, baby!’ In fact, they have a grudge against financial capital and corporations; this is the old anti-imperialism that reappears through the back door. Childish socialism of yesterday turned into a commendable anti-capitalism paired with a requirement for total democracy. All the capitalistic separations are magnified into real identities that should be safeguarded and promoted (sex, age, race, nationality, social or economic roles, minerals, plants and cosmos, the list is endless…). This turbulent wing discreetly recovers the business of their more respectable elders, but in front of the media gallery they accuse them of treason. Besides, it mostly acts as a shock troop for parties and trade unions, which in turn use them as scarecrows.”
The critique of the currently trendy affinitarian ideology, made by our “libertarian” comrades, appears to be especially relevant. Instead of pushing the proletariat towards unification on the basis of the homogeneity of interests, perspectives and social project, this affinitarian ideology strengthens all the divisions and separations of capital by magnifying them into real identities to be protected: culture, sex, race, age, region, and even sometimes beliefs, sects, opinions, religions… Fashionable music could be a criteria of affinity, but regrouping upon this single basis can only separate proletarians and sort them into categories developed by bourgeois society whereas what we need is to shatter all these little “boxes” and to develop an homogeneous force against capital. (38)
Contradictory expressions of the proletarian rupture
But this typical bourgeois and leftist “anti-capitalism” still coexists (although we battle against this coexistence) with a deep critique of social democracy that somehow expresses the difficult rising proletariat’s rupture against social democracy at international level. This rupture is of course jammed, curbed by this leftist ideology of social democracy that is also undergoing a full recycling process (like garbage) and is painting itself with “anti-capitalism” and “anti-statism” colours.
In some cases proletarian ruptures are clear and demarcating; in some others we can still find the whole leftist ideology of the 60’s and 70’s, that drags along Marxism-Leninism as well as Trotskyism, Castrism, Guevarism, bourgeois anti-imperialism, and reconciliation of this whole cocktail under the libertarian banner, always in fashion.
To express this contradiction we chose the example of the Young anti-capitalists’ Manifesto against the World Social Forum (see the frame).
YOUNG ANTI-CAPITALISTS’ MANIFESTO AGAINST THE WORLD SOCIAL FORUM
From Seattle to Washington, London, Minau, Melbourne, Seoul, Prague, and Nice, tens of thousands of young anti-capitalists have repeatedly denounced, through direct action, the large monopoles and international organisms such as the IMF, the World Bank and the European Union. These institutions are responsible for the exploitation of millions of workers, for the destruction of the environment, and for the submission of millions of people to the worst conditions of poverty. The denunciation of these young anti-capitalists is unambiguous when they shout in the streets around the world: “Capitalism kills, let us kill capitalism” and “Down with the IMF”.
Now, here in Porto Alegre, in the World Social Forum, the NGO’s, the trade unionist bureaucracies and the headship of the institutionalised parties alter the content of the young anti-capitalists’ struggle and substitute it with the reactionary policy of “humanization of capital”. To humanize capital with the French ministers who persecute immigrants and take part in the government, which, with the NATO, bombed Yugoslavia, assassinating thousands of people and repressing the anti-capitalists in Nice; to humanize capitalism with bankers and multinational corporations, to humanize capitalism side by side with the governments which, like the PT [Brazilian Workers’ Party of Lula], keep on paying the debt, repress the teachers’ strike in Rio Grande do Sul and the occupation of a federal public domain in Porto Alegre by the MST (Movement of the Landless), repress ambulant merchants and the homeless during the urban occupations in Porto Alegre, and continue to give money to multinational corporations.
Truly, the star [reference to the star symbol of the PT] guiding this prefecture and government, so-called popular and democratic in view of the 2002 elections, has decided to act as an experimental base for a new form of capitalism management based on a social democracy (39) allowing bourgeois exploitation and pleasing the middle-class with illusions of democracy, such as the Participative Budget which circumvents social protests by co-opting the popular movements. And to complete the picture, there are all the other “left-wing” parties, which, even when they criticise that policy, capitulate rather than put it into question more consistently.
To humanize capitalism is utopian and reactionary. This is why we, young anti-capitalists of the Youth Camp, we stick with the anti-capitalist movement and express our solidarity towards the young people who, in Davos, denounced the World Economic Forum. And we say that the World Social Forum is an imposture created by those who wish to divert the anti-capitalist class struggle into a class collaboration policy and elections, hence maintaining the implementation of capitalism’s misery.
This is why we form our own workshops centred on the creation of a anti-capitalist national network, whose motto is “Down with the World Economic Forum, the IMF, the World Bank and the World Trade Organisation”, to which the World Social Forum is no alternative, “Down with the Colombia Plan”, “Long live the Palestinian Intifada”, “No to the payment of the external debt”, “No to privatisations”.
Capitalism kills; let us kill capitalism. It is the duty of youth and workers, faithful to the spirit of Seattle, Nice, Prague and Davos, to prevent the anti-capitalist intervention to be distorted and used by its own enemies. (40)
This document expresses a proletarian critique of the World Social Forum organised by social democracy in Porto Alegre, and clearly affirms that “another world is possible” –main slogan of the Porto Alegre anti-summit- “only by destroying capitalism”. It seems to us very important that this decisive point also materialises into the denunciation of social democracy’s parties and trade unions, into the denunciation of their repressive and anti-proletarian daily social practice, especially with regards to Brazilian social democrat parties such as the Workers’ Party of Lula, this Brazilian Walesa. We also need to emphasize the frontal denunciation of the ideology of capitalism humanisation, omnipresent in summits and anti-summits, as well as the affirmation of the fact that capitalism is murder and we therefore need to murder it.
However, although it represents a contribution towards the critique of this world (and this is why we publish it), this manifesto is confused and denotes a lack of rupture concerning some aspects, probably because it is a production of several groups with different political programs. With the following examples, we shall try to affirm the critique made by the proletariat and further the deepening of the rupture with social democracy and its centrist expressions. We will try to send these critiques to the different groups that signed the manifesto.
The manifesto does not refer to proletariat against capitalism but to “young anti-capitalists” (and even to “poor people”), which is a concession to fashionable terminology (and as for the word “people”, a concession to popular-frontist social democracy).
The manifesto puts the blame for “the exploitation of millions of workers” on IMF, World Bank, WTO and European Union, which is a typical concession to social democrat anti-imperialism and anti-monopolism, which ruled in Porto Alegre WSF. These institutions are not “responsible” for exploitation, as social democracy tries to make us believe; it’s capitalism itself, every (big-, medium- or small-sized) capitalistic enterprise, the bourgeois of every (big-, medium- or small-sized) country that holds the responsibility. (41)
The manifesto says “Long live the Palestinian Intifada” and not the struggle of the proletariat in Palestine against capital and the state. It’s as if there were not, in Palestine, the same class contradictions that exist everywhere else; which is problematic if you refer to the previous point. In Palestine this watchword is not a class watchword; even worse, it is the watchword of the PLO bourgeoisie and the Arabian national states, like Libya. In Brazil, and elsewhere in the world, and for the same reasons, this watchword cannot be a proletarian one either. On the contrary, it is in favour of the bourgeoisie, of its imperialistic allies, and even of the police that tortures in that region and also supports the “Palestinian Intifada”.
The manifesto contains some typical slogans from the struggles between bourgeois factions such as: “No to the payment of external debt”, and that are no more than a matter of negotiation between factions of international capital. Indeed, the non-payment the debt would not alter in any way the level of exploitation and would therefore not improve in the slightest, the fate of the proletariat. Only the national bourgeoisie would benefit from it. Once again, it is the governments (left- as well as right-wing ones) that assert that our misery is caused by the debts of “our state” and “our bourgeoisie”; they are the ones, which try to convince us that the debt is not a bourgeois’ debt but the debt “of the people of such or such country”. Another example: “No to privatisations”. As if the fact that capital changes hands could increase or decrease the misery of our class! It is social democracy that has always said that the nationalisation of capital improves the situation of the working class! As if in the countries where capital is juridically more state-controlled there was less misery, as Leninist, Trotskyite and Stalinist factions of social democracy allege.
It is clear that the issues we have criticised above have a common denominator: the fact that the revolutionary critique of capital remains impregnated with an “anti-imperialistic”, third-worldist critique, that is to say, a bourgeois critique. Indeed and in spite of a pseudo radicalisation, these are the claims of social democracy:
Social democracy refers to “the people”; the manifesto refers to “the poor people”;
Social democracy focuses the responsibility on free trade and the policies of the IMF and the World Bank; the manifesto affirms that capitalism is murder but considers these institutions responsible for exploitation;
Social democracy always supported national liberation and therefore imperialistic wars as well; the manifesto supports the “Palestinian Intifada” and not the proletariat fighting against capitalism in Palestine (against the state of Israel, against the PLO’s one, against capital and against the state, basically);
Social democracy –like the right wing- always presented the bourgeois’ debt as a national problem in order to rouse solidarity from the proletarians with the bourgeois of every country; the manifesto considers the question of the debt as everybody’s problem and not exclusively the bourgeois’ problem. The manifesto demands the “Non-payment of the debt”, which only leads to the mobilisation of the proletariat for the support of some national and international factions that will benefit from the debt cancellation, whereas our class has nothing to gain in this matter;
Finally, the manifesto opposes privatisations to nationalisations and defends the latter. It therefore supports the capitalistic state as owner against private capital. This is the classic position of social democracy (dear to Marxists-Leninists) that defends the juridical nationalisation of the means of production. (42)
Wide sectors of social democracy have, by pure opportunism, renounced some of these issues, like the last two for example, but this in no way confers on them a proletarian character; defending them does not push the battle against capital one single step further.
Destruction of commodity?
It is logical that revolutionaries brandish the critique of commodity that the proletariat has always put forward; it is logical that nowadays, the struggles of the proletariat try, in an increasingly clearer way, to reach their aim: the destruction of commodity society.
But most of the time, this tendency is understood and has repercussions in a completely immediatist way, and many claim to be achieving the destruction of the world of commodity society and the empire of commodity through actions such as those led in Seattle.
In this way, the “Appeal of a Black Block at the Summit of Americas in April, 20th-22nd, 2001” said: “A spectre haunts America, it is the spectre of the anarchist rioter. His well-known black mask, made necessary by the vertiginous rise of electronic surveillance, is henceforth recognized as the symbol of a social terrorism, which nowadays and more than ever appears to us as a human imperative and a moral duty.
Rioters in Seattle have, we hope, opened up the way to the destruction of the commodity empire. By attacking the very heart of the American fortress, that no one suspected to be so fragile, and the object of the capitalistic modern cult, in short, by smashing shop windows that reflected our status of loyal consumers, rioters gave to the struggle against globalisation of the markets the only possible liberating content.
Suddenly, a struggle that seemed to be getting definitively stuck in the precipice of servile compromise brought to us for 60 years by the same unionist-collaborationists and the same bureaucrats of the community under state subcontract, suddenly, this struggle became a danger… By directly attacking the windowed goods, rioters in Seattle didn’t only satisfy their desire to possess these too often inaccessible products that advertisement concocts for us as the climax of happiness. They essentially attacked the main goal the whole of the present oppressive system aims at, they attacked the main realisation of our society: commodity.”
In all these actions, the proletariat expresses in an elementary way its critique of the bourgeois society and programs that propose a more human capitalism. And it is correct to affirm that this critique expresses the re-emergence of the proletarian antagonism towards the world of private property and commodity. But believing that the commodity is in such way being destroyed or that this is the way that leads to its destruction, is turning a blind eye to all revolutionary perspectives, it means confusing a quite limited action, an elementary protest, with revolution itself.
Appropriation and/or destruction of any particular commodity are an elementary act of all proletarian revolts. As an act of protest, as an attack against private property, it was always part of the riots, but this is not an act of destruction of “The Commodity”. Commodity cannot be destroyed by the physical attack on the thing, it is necessary to destroy its other pole: value. Attacking its immediacy, the object, cannot abolish the commodity. To abolish it, it is necessary to destroy its social form: its very essence. Between this elementary form of demonstration of hate towards capitalism and its actual destruction, the main thing is simply missing: social revolution, proletarian insurrection, revolutionary dictatorship of the proletariat, despotic destruction of the market as well as the “equality, liberty, fraternity” inherent to it, eradication of private property, democracy, law of value, and with them, the indispensable organisation of social production according to human needs. (43)
One may say that the text expresses itself in a symbolic way, that it is a parable, which obviously appeals for a real direction, and that’s what is meant by destruction of commodity. (44) Nothing of the kind! Blind optimism and immediatism are obvious and counterproductive in the following affirmation of the text: “We anarchists (nevertheless not the whole of us are rioters!), revolted, or simply responsible citizens, we shall leave total devastation in our wake. And when in the morning we shall sweep out glass splinters and goods that we have converted into projectiles, making them useful for once, what will then be swept are the ruins of oppression.”
However many kilograms of stones have been thrown, whatever amount of commodities and shop windows have been destroyed… imagining that the ruins of oppression can be swept without a social revolution, that capitalism can be destroyed without revolution, without revolutionary dictatorship is as utopian as to dream of a more human capitalism like “Attac” and the bourgeois of the Porto Alegre forum do. It is the same kind of stupid illusion than imagining destroying the police by merely confronting a few dozen or hundreds of cops. Impossible! Capitalism under its normal functioning mode has and will always destroy commodity (usually in order to prevent the devalorisation of such kind of commodity in particular): liquidation and arson of stocks, destruction during wars… and this doesn’t undermine commodity in the slightest. On the contrary, the particular destruction of commodities always reinforces the world of commodity and valorisation.
Finally, alleging that during these summits and anti-summits, on basis of the so-called “direct action”, the proletariat might have at last discovered the way of proletarian internationalism or, as some groups already assert, that through these actions we might have entered a phase of direct confrontation between the capitalist International and the revolutionary International, is clearly a failure to understand the functioning of capitalism and the revolution program, the revolutionary strategy. This inevitably leads to stirring up confusion, by playing a centrist role in the proletarian movement (by preventing the necessary rupture).
In order to show how this kind of activist ideology leads to “forgetting” the fundamental aspects of the revolutionary program, we shall once more quote the above-mentioned appeal, which claims to fight against capital, the state and patriarchy, but, however, in a text headed “Down with reformists”, claims: “Social order should be achieved through solidarity of interests and free association, and not through oppression of ideas and people. The State, even though it’s composed with ‘elected’ people, is also formed with civil servants. We need to understand that these civil servants don’t exist because of necessity, but rather as a result of the lack of democracy in our system.”
The text doesn’t criticise democracy; it imputes the state’s harm to the lack of democracy, as any reformist does. One may respond that many militants organised within the Black Block scene do not share this social democrat position, and we’re sure this is true. However, the sad thing is that concerning such important and central issues of the social democrat program, such as this fishy denunciation of the lack of democracy, such antagonistic positions can coexist. This is one of the unavoidable consequences of libertarian ideology and freethinking. For us on the contrary the critique of democracy is the key of the critique of the bourgeois state. It is not by asking for more democracy that we shall destroy the state, it is by abolishing practically and authoritatively this famous democracy, as pure as it may be. (45)
Another so-called “new” centrist ideology is the one called nowadays “communisation”. For example, the leaflet signed “some libertarians”, quoted above for its interesting critique of pseudo-anti-capitalism, affirms: “In order to lead to the production of new social relations, the attacks against capitalism must already contain a communisation of the struggle and the relations which emerge from it. There is no positive project anymore, no possible proletarian affirmation within capital.”
Of course, we agree with the fact that in the struggle against capital we must produce new relations and that there is not any possible proletarian affirmation within capital. The problem is this “little word”, very trendy nowadays in some pseudo-revolutionary circles: “communisation”. As if communism could develop little by little without before destroying capitalism, as if it could emerge without first completely wiping out capitalism, as if the capitalistic market could disappear without a human despotism exerted against it. In fact this theory is not new either. Since the early 20th century some sectors of social democracy developed what they then designated as “socialisation”: society had to “socialise” itself little by little.
It is clear that the advocates of the theory of “communisation” will consider this parallel like as an offence and will protest by saying that we’re dealing with a totally different matter. In practice however, in both cases a gradualist conception is introduced, and the qualitative leap that insurrection, the dictatorship against the rate of profit and value constitute, is overtly denied; without this leap talking about communisation or socialisation can only confuse and serve the Reaction.
On the other hand, the present ideology of “communisation” emerges from a group, which never split from social democracy, from Leninism and euro-centrism. “Théorie Communiste” is a typically euro-centrist group according to which all what happens in Europe is the feat of the proletariat, and all what that happens far from Europe is the feat of the popular masses (they went as far as describing the proletarian revolt in Iraq in 1991 as a “popular uprising”!). In the same way, “Théorie Communiste” overtly defends that in Russia, at the time of Lenin, the dictatorship of the proletariat ruled! For internationalist revolutionaries, it is clear that this dictatorship was exerted against the proletariat and that it was no more than the same old capitalistic dictatorship, as we have demonstrated in several analyses. (46) On these bases (that assimilate the program of the proletariat with the development of capitalism, as defended by Lenin) and on the basis of the theorisation according to which the question of the revolutionary transition would be historically out of date because the program of the proletariat has been achieved by capital (47), it is considered that the proletariat could negate itself and achieve communism without reinforcing as a class and imposing its dictatorship (which is overtly revisionist).
This theory could seem modern and attractive, but it is absolutely unclear on the essential issue of the revolution, the insurrection and the revolutionary and dictatorial action of destruction of the bourgeois society. How would the proletariat be able to negate itself without constituting itself as a force? Certainly not within capitalism, as claimed by social democracy. By getting organised outside and against capitalism. By getting organised outside of its parliamentary and trade unionist structures and against its processions and its sheep demonstrations, by constituting itself as an antagonistic force against all this circus. Only by constituting itself as an international force, as a revolutionary party aimed at destroying the bourgeois world can the proletariat, in the same process, negate itself and destroy capital and the state. To try and make us believe that the world could be “communised” without the organised power of the proletariat as a party, means collaborating with all the bourgeois leftist political spectrum that strives to deny precisely the most important aspect: the violent and total shattering of the capitalistic order by the revolution; the quality leap, the revolutionary conspiracy and the insurrection, the international organisation of the proletariat as communist party, its destructive action of the whole bourgeois society. Talking about communism without referring to all this is utopian and reactionary.
If the classic terminology of the revolutionaries struggling for the revolutionary party, for the revolutionary dictatorship of the proletariat or for a proletarian semi-state… bothers the “libertarian” comrades who wrote this leaflet, let them choose another one, provided they don’t give up the main thing: the insurrectionary struggle, the destruction of capitalism through violence. Many revolutionaries, from Bakunin to Flores Magon used words like dictatorship of the international brothers, dictatorship of anarchy, dictatorship of workers’ councils and even “liberal party”, without however (and that’s why they were revolutionaries) giving up the essential: the necessity of the concentration of the revolutionary violence, of the revolutionary armed struggle, the necessity to get rid of capitalism through class violence.
In the environment where our “libertarian” comrades operate, it is not a matter of words. When they consider communisation without revolutionary dictatorship of the proletariat, these comrades are actually giving up social revolution. (48)
Historically, the proletariat always opposed direct action against social democracy, this fundamental force of containment and channelling of the proletarian struggle whose strategy relies on the representation and the mediation in trade unions, parliaments, elections and support to delegates and political leaders… Direct action means an action without mediator nor delegate, assumed by all, strike and demonstration, occupation of the street, revolutionary violence, insurrection, revolutionary dictatorship, action that does not require mediation nor delegation and, in this way, historically constitutes the contrary of democratic action, of citizen life.
Nowadays, in Davos, Seattle, Prague, Gothenburg, Naples, and Genoa… some militant groups revel in words like direct action they merely assimilate with violent action in the street. However, if violence is indeed one component of direct action, it is not enough to define it.
Direct action of the proletariat against the parliamentarianism, trade unionism, electoralism… of social democracy does need neither mediation, nor delegation, nor representative elections, which can be applied generally and reproducible everywhere and by all.
It means that to be direct, in the historic meaning of the word, violent action cannot rest on delegations and must be executable by proletarians wherever they may be. The key of direct action, which we oppose to social democracy, lies precisely in the fact that any proletarian group can assume it where it is, and, through this practice, oppose delegation, and mediation which are determining elements of democracy and therefore of any bourgeois political domination.
Direct action claimed in Seattle, Prague, Davos, Gothenburg, Naples, and Genoa… is not of this kind. Indeed, violence is mystified there because it is used as a synonym for direct action, whereas in practice, action is undertaken by sending delegates to a place defined as the centre where direct action par excellence is supposed to be developed.
This doesn’t mean that action led against the circus of summits and anti-summits is not a part of the proletariat’s direct action. What we criticise is that the present organisations don’t urge the militants to struggle on a daily basis, where they live (capital is everywhere), but magnify their own activism and present their “direct action” as the most valid.
The mystification that consists in considering Davos, Seattle, Prague, Gothenburg, Naples, and Genoa… as decisional centres of capital, and the fact that these confrontations are given a semi-insurrectional status they don’t actually deserve, makes those groups consider that “direct action” consists, par excellence, in battling against capitalism according to the timetable of bourgeois congresses, as if any other struggle had only a local significance and was therefore of lesser importance. They forget that apart from proletarians who actually live in the cities where summits and anti-summits are held and take to the streets, only a handful of militants, of delegates of the proletariat of different countries can go to these conferences in order to perform “direct action”, and therefore the principle of delegation is maintained. That these delegates throw more stones and Molotov cocktails changes nothing to the fact that it is still a mediation through which the majority of the proletariat should feel represented. As the previously quoted trade unionist said: “so that the poor of the world can see…” that in Europe there are trade unionists… who represent them!
It is obviously encouraging to see that in any country where summits are held, the proletariat aggressively denounces these capitalistic celebrations and takes to the street, it is stimulating to see that groups of proletarians coming from other countries collaborate on the organisation of these actions, and moreover, that they also organise them (and/or coordinate and centralise the organisation) in other countries. This is not what we criticise; the coordination and the organisation beyond borders are fundamental for the affirmation and the strengthening of the community of struggle that will destroy capital.
What we affirm is that the majority of proletarians from other countries are not able to go where these events take place, and besides that have no interest in doing so. Contrary to what centrists of all kinds publish, whose appraisal of the next “triumph” is based on the thousands of activists or hundreds of busses that will go to the next summit, this cannot be our perspective.
All the more so since those who can attend such events are only a minority under very particular conditions, notably exceptional work conditions with regards to free time and remuneration, which enable them to afford the trip. In some cases, hundreds of proletarians and revolutionary militants make a huge effort to send some dozens of militants to these capitalistic jamborees, but it is obvious that in general only trade-union apparatuses and political parties, conceived for functioning through delegation, can afford this type of trip on regular basis. No wonder then if, in addition to the cops and the secret service agents of several countries, political and trade union delegates swarm in the streets of the cities that shelter the summits and anti-summits.
From the point of view of the proletariat the real direct action is first and foremost the action led every day against the boss, against the bourgeoisie facing us, against parties and trade unions that want to contain us. We need to generalise it, to make it worldwide; we need to coordinate it, to encourage the militant exchanges between countries; we need to fight together everywhere against world capital, but it is absurd to imagine that the more militants we gather in one single spot the better it will be. At the time of the insurrection, the world proletariat won’t be concentrated in one place, because it won’t be a matter of destroying commodity in any particular city or any particular country, but on the whole planet and we won’t achieve this by confronting either a local police force or a national one, but by destroying the bourgeois power as a whole and all over the world.
To believe that proletarians will gather and express themselves more and more massively against conferences until capitalism ends up blowing up is not only harmful and counterproductive for the movement, but it originates in stupid illusions and distorts the very concept of direct action. Even if it is invited to do so, the combative proletariat won’t take part in these bourgeois demonstrations. At the very most, some groups that represent it, as well as trade-union delegates who would like to speak in their name. Anyway, the interest of the revolutionary groups which would decide to go there wouldn’t be to make the apology of “direct action” these representatives promote, but rather to centralise the direct action of the proletariat that we have to urge everywhere.
Proletarian interest and centrist ideology
Let us summarize some aspects of the contradiction between proletarian interest and centrist ideology.
The proletariat’s interest lies in programmatic unification and operational decentralization, unity in leadership and revolutionary perspective and, contradictorily, scattering and dispersion of action, while targeting the same enemy.
But the dominant ideology, even among groups that have split with social democracy, seems to impulse the opposite: let’s concentrate all our forces in one particular spot of the planet, at this day and hour (in line with the summits and anti-summits’ dictates!), but, politically, let everyone do whatever he wants, let groups constitute according to their affinities, rally around their own ideas (and this, of course, without any kind of centralization whatsoever).
The proletariat’s interest is unique and worldwide, and can only be imposed through unification against all the divisions resulting from capital’s society, whose credo, whose rule, is the struggle of all against all. Women, elderly, children, unemployed, Arabs, coloured people, miners, farmers, students, Asians, Latino-Americans, Europeans, Africans, landless peasants, shanty-town dwellers… all have, independently from what they think or believe, or have been persuaded to think or believe, the same interest in abolishing the bourgeois society.
But the dominant ideology uses any pretext to impose its divisions, based on race, sex, culture, ethnic group… and even among breakaway groups, the freedom and affinity ideology continues to prevail. Instead of building up proletarian unity, the bourgeois society’s partitions are reproduced, in name of local specificity and the freedom of all. It is advocated to constitute several regroupings around the divisions enforced by capital, founded on culture, race, religion, tastes and habits, like these groups that bring together the aficionados of a certain type of music, homosexuals, animal protectors, Coca-cola cans collectors, etc.
The communist revolution’s interest is to restore the criticism of capitalism up to its very foundations, the destruction of wage labour, commodity, state… and therefore focus on the question of power, the necessity of the proletarian insurrection and destruction of the state.
But the predominant ideology in this milieu encourages everyone to criticize capitalism and imagine changes in their own way, and to elaborate plans and gather around affinities. As if the destruction of capitalism were dissociable from the destruction of the bourgeoisie’s armed power, as if there were plenty of different ways to achieve destruction of the bourgeois society, as if centuries of class struggle hadn’t established by now what is revolutionary and what isn’t…
The interest of the communist revolution is, wherever it occurs, proletarian action against worldwide capital, direct action against the bourgeoisie and the state that stand against us (49), and the generalisation of theses confrontations.
Another predominant ideology in several proletarian groups that have broken away with social democracy consists in aiming at sending activists to support demonstrations.
The interest of the proletariat lies in a total and irreversible rupture with social democracy and its whole program, therefore implying a rupture with democracy, anti-imperialism and third-worldism.
The dominant ideology, in the name of freedom, exhorts proletarians into a unity without principles, without program, without clear rupture, and often they fall for the social democrat lure of critical support to democracy. The interest of the proletariat is to get organized as a force, as an international power coordinating and programmatically centralizing actions that arise everywhere around the globe.
The more decentralized the action and more centralized the leadership, the fiercer the proletarian struggle. (50)
Activist ideology impulses on the contrary a political decentralization and an operational centralization, that is to say an absence of unity in leadership and the concentration of all militants on the same spot.
The proletarian movement is one
However, the movement of the worldwide proletariat, our movement, is one, and is so whether its protagonists are aware of it or not: those who battled to enter Quito, fought the same war, whether they realized it or not, than those who broke shop windows in Seattle and those who, at this very moment, confronted the bourgeois state in Algeria. We could add to the list the landless peasants in Brazil, the deserters and revolutionary defeatists of the whole world, as well as the “anti-capitalists” or “anti-statists” who form small groups to challenge capitalism on the barricades.
And yet, none of these movements perceives to which extent they all actually all belong to one and only movement aiming at abolishing the present conditions. The proletariat as a class hasn’t re-appropriated its experience, or its strength, yet. In other articles we explain the reasons of this generalized class unawareness and we provide its historic reasons, that sum up to the triumph of the counter-revolution in the 20th century and the concealment of the revolutionary struggle’s whole history.
Here, we have decided to focus on the obstacles that today prevent the proletariat, in its different international expressions, from perceiving it belongs to one and the same revolutionary class. We shall not further develop the “what is to be done” and “here and now” topics. We can return to our examples of Seattle and Ecuador, to illustrate the separation between two movements in appearance so different.
Despite the actual separation and the unawareness that it is one and the same movement, in both cases the proletariat confronts the same enemy and faces, to a certain extent, the same ideological limitations. In both cases, the confrontation against capitalism, the rupture achieved in the field, the attempt to get organized outside and against the local social-democrat fraction, is neither theorized nor practically assumed on a permanent basis. This is why, when the movement leaves the streets, social democracy always manages, although by different ways, to catch it back and re-introduce all separations in it.
Yet, the question of the rupture with social democracy and assuming the worldwide proletariat’s movement as a unique movement is one and the same problem. Only a permanent and organized rupture, leading to its ultimate consequences the criticism we develop here, will allow the worldwide proletariat to acknowledge itself as such. And in a reciprocal way, only the acknowledgment of constituting one and the same movement, through a correspondent organization at international level, will lead the proletariat to assume once and for all its rupture with social democracy. There is no other way so that every direct proletarian action in one place is understood everywhere else as the affirmation of the same organic being, capable of constituting a real international leadership. To speak of historic confrontation between the international of capital and the revolutionary international will then take its full meaning.
What’s to be done?
The analysis of the objective balance of forces is not aimed at contemplating the world “as it is”. For the revolutionaries, it constitutes, on the contrary, the basis for subjective action. It is not a matter of portraying the world; the point is to transform it.
From Ecuador to Seattle, we are all on same boat, all in this same capitalist society which we fight as we can. It is a struggle community that affirms itself and stands out.
We are deeply implicated in both types of movement around the world; we fight so that every expression of the proletariat assumes this opposition to the whole of capital and therefore becomes aware that it is part of one and the same worldwide movement, aiming to abolish capital and the state. When we say “we”, we refer not only to our small formal group, butalso to the organized revolutionary minorities that struggle, against the current, for the constitution of the proletariat as a class, and thus as a party at world level, and are not afraid to claim it, against the trends of opinion and eternal inventors of “neo” who pretend it is “has been”.
What is developed here is at the same time a centralization of the debate growing among these revolutionary minorities, which, through their action, and whether poorly or well coordinated, from Albania to Bolivia, from Russia to Iran, fight to affirm the unique strength of the worldwide proletariat. To denounce social democracy, as we do in this text, in any assembly or on the barricades, belongs to this same struggle community. So does the criticism without concessions of activism and centrism provided by our comrades all over the world.
This doesn’t prevent us to put forward positive watchwords to participate in the gestation process of the leadership the proletariat needs. What is to be done, then, to impulse the reunification of the proletariat and its rupture with social democracy? Where will the qualitative leap forward come from?
In principle, it can appear anywhere. The geographic generalization of a movement, as it happened in Iraq some years ago, or more recently in Albania or Ecuador, can be decisive. If those movements didn’t spread out more, it is because of the incapacity of the proletariat in other parts of the world to identify to them and going the same way. Yet, in times characterized by the non-existence of permanent proletarian associations at a world level, only centralization and coordination between the communist minorities in the insurgent regions and the ones from other parts of the world can provide a continuity to the movement and tend to unify its leadership.
This means that, even in the present situation, the conscious and voluntary action of the revolutionary minorities will be decisive. Let’s focus on what they have to do.
In concrete terms, do we have to impulse these massive displacements to the summits and counter-summits in order to “confront capital and the state” or, on the contrary do we have to get organized in some other way and impulse another perspective?
We recognize our own movement in this movement of rupture against the summits and counter-summits, but within it, and considering all that has been previously said, we defend the necessity to organize outside and against them, and to build our strength in another way, on some other dates, with a total organizational and political autonomy with regards to the left-wing and the right-wing of the system. But, one would ask, how to internationalise the movement, then? How to unify the struggle if it isn’t by concentrating all our forces in one determined spot and time?
Despite the criticism expressed up to here, we consider these attempts to organize the minorities for direct action as fundamental, even if they are now only associated to the summits and counter-summits. In this movement, we defend perspectives of a much stronger demarcation in regards to the program and the action. We defend the perspective of deciding the time and place of the proletarian confrontation against capital, affirming that we belong to one and the same class with the same enemy wherever we stand, as originally on the occasion of the 1st of May! And we shall battle until we achieve that again! By the way, we note that several groups and organizations in rupture against the sterile and counter-productive activism already object to “all going to such and such city, on such and such day” and propose a different pattern of organization, without depending on the summits schedule.
The thing is, all this needs to be associated with a total rupture against the activist show staged during the summits and counter-summits. We have to refuse to “show to the poor and moribund proletarians”, via television, that “here in Europe, there are courageous people”, as the trade unionists claim. We cannot endorse this separation, with “the moribund” on one side and “those who know” on the other. We cannot endorse this dualism between “those who are helpless” and “the activists” who stage a fight on the occasion of some spectacular gathering.
On the contrary, in every action, we defend the necessity to organize everywhere in the world, we assert that action can take place, and develop, in places where no summit will ever be held, and no counter-summit summoned by social democracy. Direct action is in total opposition with the show logic. The show features actors and paralyses spectators, who mostly applaud. It stages a spectacular confrontation between repression specialists and social change specialists. As for the direct action of the proletarian vanguard, it aims being replicated everywhere.
In this sense, the qualitative leap forward resides mainly in the rupture with the solidarity concept, which in reality and fundamentally, expresses charity and originates in the Judaeo-Christian ideology: we act in favour of the poor and moribund who live on the other side of the planet. Facing that, we have to claim clearly, that what we do is not aimed at the “poor people of the world”; we do it because we are all and everywhere exploited and oppressed by the same social system, because we have all and everywhere the same interests and the same enemy, because we are all the same flesh, the same historic struggle of the exploited against all systems of exploitation and oppression. The social revolution is a necessity of the world proletariat and not of such and such activist group.
We have nothing to show off, certainly not on TV or on Internet (even if we use both as communication means). On the contrary, we must act in a way that can be perfectly reproduced by the proletariat wherever it stands.
If we, together with the militants and revolutionaries who today define themselves through their struggle against capital and are aware of the historic importance of the rupture with social democracy, if we concentrate our forces in time and not in space, rather than cramming into the summit and counter-summit circus, it could constitute a decisive advance for the movement. Because, indeed, we consider it more relevant, stronger and more effective than sending “everybody” in such or such city.
Because it is coherent with direct action and impulses its development everywhere, we put forward the need to coordinate the times of actions in all countries, against the same objectives. In several places, there is already an embryonic revolutionary tendency to do so. In Spain, for instance, in the so-called “days of social struggle” or “anti-capitalist days”, a minority tendency finds an expression, that seeks to define other objectives, establish a different schedule, and develop other forms of struggle beyond the opposition to the summits or the activist show.
But the necessary qualitative leap forward will be done when the intensity of the struggle that nowadays occurs exclusively on the occasion of the summits and counter-summits demonstrations, will assume itself as part of one and the same movement, wherever it rises, Ecuador, Albania, Indonesia or anywhere else. This qualitative leap forward will consist in being able, when in the future other expressions of this movement break out, to concentrate our forces to affirm our solidarity. Not a fake solidarity, for the show, not a demonstration that we here do things for the “moribund” proletarians over there. On the contrary, by gaining strength everywhere, by generalizing the proletarian movement that unfolds in one country, by descending onto the streets and confronting the bourgeoisie and the state that stands against us. Through that, we shall state in practice that we are one and the same movement of abolition of the bourgeois society, that we have the same objectives as those for which the proletarians are currently fighting against the bourgeois social system in such or such country.
Indeed, as we often repeated, the dramatic aspect of the proletarian explosions that occur in different parts of the world, in different countries and different languages, is precisely their isolation. This isolation allows the worldwide bourgeoisie to continue to attack the proletariat bit-by-bit, country-by-country. When proletarian responses strike violently, this isolation prevents proletarians from other countries to be aware of the struggle of their class brothers. We insist on the fact that it is the worldwide bourgeoisie, which attacks the proletariat in every country. It is the weakness of the proletarian action in, for instance, the European countries and the USA that allowed the NATO to intervene unhindered, without triggering any consistent revolutionary defeatism, to disarm and repress the insurgent proletariat in Albania. The worst thing is that, because of the dominant ideology, all this proletarian force that finds an expression during the summits and counter-summits, is unaware that our strength is also there, in things like what happened in Albania, and that, here and now, it could be possible to prevent the isolation of the proletariat while under the assault of all the combined forces of the bourgeoisie.
The fundamental aspect of the struggle against the summits and counter-summits’ circus, is that numerous proletarians get organized to confront worldwide capitalism, that they manage to gather their forces and strike the same enemy at the same time. It is that there are minorities that in the name of the revolution descend onto the streets to claim proletarian internationalism and that again the how and what is to be done start to be discussed. The important, is that the central questions of the proletarian struggle, the destruction of capitalism and the state, the revolutionary strategy are again a matter for polemic.
But we are still unable to direct this force that we managed to concentrate; we are still unable to prevent the carrot and the stick to liquidate the movement in such and such country, by submitting to a cruel and pathetic isolation.
Let us use this force that has the power to demonstrate, to smash, to strike at the bourgeoisie and the state in every country, let us make it coincide with the movements that rise in different places and therefore prevent its isolation, let us in those battle brandish the revolutionary banner of the unification of the struggle against capital, let us globalise reality and the consciousness of our movement, let us develop the unique force of the international proletariat.
Let us assume this historic tendency of the proletariat to reconstitute and to recognize itself as a class, to affirm its revolutionary program, to constitute itself as a force, as a worldwide party for the destruction of capitalism.
1. All through this article, we use the terms “summit” and “congress”, referring to these large meetings of international capitalist organisms that arouse proletarian hostility. And when we mention “anti-” or “counter-summits”, we refer more precisely to the official protests of the bourgeois left wing, of its parties and official trade unions; protests characterized street demonstrations, parallel congress, or alternative forums or meetings.
2. Cf. “General characteristics of the struggles of the present time” in Communism n°9.
3. On that subject, read: “The capitalist catastrophe” in Communism nº9.
4. Cf. “General characteristics of the struggles of the present time” in Communism nº9.
5. To claim old stories as “new” is not a new phenomenon. On this matter, the bourgeois pretension to produce ideas as it produces commodities is present throughout the whole 20th century: cf. modern ideas, neo-classicist economists, neo-classicism, new wave, new age, etc.
6. It is hard to imagine what ideological U-turns and pirouettes these Marxist-Leninists had to do to explain that the shift from “capitalism to socialism” requires a violent revolution, but that the reverse is not true!
7. The “left-winger” qualification has in reality no objective basis and is founded on pure ideology, varying according to the regions. In Latin America or in Europe, the apology of Stalinism is still considered left-wing politics, while in the countries from the ex-Eastern Bloc it is assimilated to fascism and generally to the extreme right wing.
8. Fundamental postulation of the world-state terrorism that will become universal from then on.
9. Which is not an easy task since, as we shall see, these attempts of social-democrat containment are frequently outflanked by the proletariat developing its own ruptures, cf. Seattle, Washington, Prague, Gothenburg, Naples, Genoa…
10. We don’t pretend to formulate here any critiques towards the revolutionary comrades self-proclaimed anarchists. We have already thoroughly explained our position on that matter, which is independent from any denomination or ideology, and, in future publications, we shall analyse with more depth the existing relationship between communism and anarchism. What we want here is to stand against the dominant ideology based on the famous bourgeois freethinking and its famous motto “I do what I want”, valid for individuals as well as groups, and the no less famous “freedom of criticism”. This ideology has had an enormous influence on the backstage of Davos, Porto Alegre, etc. It is nearly always accompanied by the immediatist and activist ideology, which, in all cases, constitutes an obstacle to the necessary organization of the proletariat as a unified political force, capable of endorsing a unique leadership for insurrectional preparation and action.
11. The social forum of Porto Alegre, which we shall refer to later, was elaborated on by all of these organizations, most of them international, with the support of the Workers’ Party of Brazil, the Unique Central of Workers and the official delegations of the “Movement of the Landless”, also Brazilian.
12. Imperialism is a much earlier phenomenon than the time social democracy made it famous. Capitalism has always been imperialist. And the imperialist battle between the dominant classes to get hold of the productive forces even precedes capitalism as a production mode. If social democracy, and Marxism-Leninism in particular (under all its forms, from Stalinism, Trotskyism, to Maoism and Castrism, has turned imperialism into a new phenomenon, it’s only to justify the opportunistic changes in their policy, arguing that, precisely, things had changed. In that way, renouncement of the anti-capitalist struggle substituting it with anti-imperialist struggle (often mistaken with struggle against such and such nation) became the norm.
13. Cf. the special issue on the social forum of Porto Alegre of the magazine Hika, entitled “Another world is possible” (P.K. 871, 48080 Bilbao, Espana or firstname.lastname@example.org).
14. The original version of this text has been published in our central review in Spanish, previous to the G8 meeting and the anti-summit demonstrations it generated in Genoa. This translation is, however, subsequent. In the last issue of Communism in English, we published a comment on the repression of those demonstrations and reproduced a leaflet from comrades of Precari Nati.
15. Further in the text, the reader will understand why we specify “an attempt to impose its direct action” and not “assuming its direct action”.
16. We have made clear that believing that the future of capital may be decided in those kinds of meetings is no more than a myth. However, the bourgeois do need to centralise formally in order to sign treaties, draw perspectives and enforce more standardised economic policies, such as those that characterise the World Bank and the IMF. Actually, the bourgeoisie in every country makes an increasing use of the negotiations and claims of these institutions to justify its own austerity policy. Hence this “natural” proletarian rage against all that, and the fact that in every country, there are confrontations against the delegations of these organisms and the additional measures they wish to enforce.
17. What is written between quotation marks is not a product of our delirious thoughts, but of those generated by the virtual passions of the Porto Alegre protagonists. We have quoted it textually from their press, in particular from the issue the magazine Hika dedicated to the World Social Forum, already mentioned in note 13.
18. Before printing this text, some comrades have expressed their disagreement relative to our critique of Hebe Bonafini, whom they consider as a proletarian, struggling for many years in a particularly difficult struggle, in the opposite direction of the democratic recuperation of a faction of the “Mothers of the May Square”. We shall simply respond that our aim is elsewhere. We want to denounce a counterrevolutionary show and we bitterly lament to see someone as Hebe Bonafini play a part in it. As we mention all through this text, our interest is to appeal to the militants not to make themselves accomplices of social democracy and the contestation show, and to stand outside and against it all. The presence of revolutionary militants such as H. Bonafini is a blessing for these social-democrat pseudo-contestations; it brings a scent of radicalism to the Forum of Porto Alegre and to the anti-globalisation led by Attac and acolytes. The whole history of popular-frontism is marked with such use of revolutionary militants: in 1936, in Spain, the Popular Front, which later would liquidate the revolution, affirmed itself thanks to the presence of militants such as Durrutti, who, against the historic position of revolutionaries, called for voting in favour of the Popular Front.
19. Quotation from a leaflet signed by the Anti-capitalist Revolutionary Movement (Ap. de correos 265, 08080 Barcelona, Spain) that clearly expresses the real opposition between bourgeoisie and proletariat. We note, however, that the term “proletarian youth” instead of proletariat is, according to us, a concession to fashion. In this same document, the reading of issue nº144, third year, of the Barcelona Counter-information Bulletin is also recommended ( http://www.sindominio.net/zitzania) “for a true information about what happened in Nice”.
20. According to an estimation published during the Washington summit, expenses related to security amounted to 32 millions dollars. We have no idea what is included in such sum and even less so of what it conceals, for security reasons.
21. The regime of Saddam Hussein, in Iraq, or Chavez, in Venezuela may represent different nuances in this general policy, but it is in no way comparable to a generalized, anchored in time phenomenon, like Stalinism was.
22. The capitalist catastrophe is going deeper. To invert the wheel of history is a reactionary utopia. Only the destruction of capital will open the way for humanity to build another world, which will have nothing to do with capitalism, as we knew it a few dozens of years ago.
23. We have no interest in separating these movements. What we want is to insist on the one and only content of the proletarian movement and on the necessity of its revolutionary centralisation. However, it is a fact that this distinction and separation currently does exist, and that, in both our examples, the protagonists themselves are not aware than it is one and the same movement. This has led us to emphasize the differences, to bring the present tendencies to their most extreme expressions (to the point of depicting the differences as much more clearly distinct than they are in reality), in order to analyse them. Indeed, analysing the most extreme differences allows a development of a precise comradely criticism for everyone of these expressions, and at the same time, puts forward that we are dealing with one and the same movement. The following caricature allows an understanding of our methodology: let’s consider that the movement in Ecuador originates in economic misery, and the one in Seattle in political awareness, it appears obviously that this distinction is a caricature, nevertheless it may help us to clarify the actions specific to each movement, and to understand, or better, to assume, as we state at the end of the text, that we’re dealing with the one and the same social movement aiming at the abolition of capital. If we were to solely insist on the fact that the struggle is part of the same movement, and that within it everything is equal, which is ultimately true, it would be impossible to formulate any explanation based on a comparison, as we do here.
24. Social democracy, Marxism-Leninism, anarcho-syndicalism, mention the shift from the economic field to the political field, or the transformation of immediate struggles into historic struggles, as if they had a different nature. They link this change to the contribution of political awareness, or to the political action of the party. As far as we are concerned, we refuse this distinction (see our Thesis of programmatic orientation, ICG, nº15, 31, 32 and 33); we rather refer to a generalization of the immediate claims. The class contradictions contain in themselves their own generalisation, which means that any struggle against the concrete exploitation conditions, against the bourgeois austerity measures (increase of surplus value’s rate), even if it is geographically limited, contains in itself the struggle against this exploitation society as a whole. What determines the shift towards generalisation is not the political action of the vanguard elements, but, on the contrary, the development of the proletariat’s interests that no particular struggle can bring to victory, no particular claim can fulfil. It tends, inclusively against the intervention of political activists, to generalise itself into a struggle against capital and the state. Generally, as we mentioned in thesis nº15, the qualitative leap takes shape by overriding the organizations that express partial claims (workers organizations, classist associations, factory committees…) and by shifting to territorial organizations in which all proletarians gather –men and women, workers and unemployed, young and old-, such as workers’ councils, supply committees, assemblies from one or more cities…
25. In the middle of the 19th century, Marx already criticised the consideration that a movement is more global if it is more political, hence emphasising the revolutionary political will. Marx demonstrated on the contrary that the proletarian rebellion, even if only unfolding within one region, contains in itself the totality. With regard to this discussion with Ruge, read: Critical notes on the article “The king of Prussia and the social reform. By a Prussian”, Karl Marx.
26. Whether they are aware of it or not, proletarians who assume and profess the minority violent action break away from democracy, even if it is called “workers’ democracy”. They assume the fact that the revolutionary action has nothing in common with democratic referendums and congresses. They assume that the proletariat can only constitute itself as a force by coordinating and centralising the different expressions that implement, without previous consultation, the different revolutionary tasks. It’s through this process, this affirmation of the community of struggle and interest, that the proletariat reconstitutes itself as a class, and, consequently, gets organised as a party opposed to all existing parties.
27. There is a critique of this ideology and the form it takes today in the text “Give up activism” published in English, in “Reflections on June 18. Contribution on the politics behind the events that occurred in the city of London on June 18, 1999”, Edit. Collective, October 1999. This text gathers several interesting contributions, yet we point out two things. First, the ideological and intellectual conception of the authors. They do not analyse activism either as part of the social practice of the international proletariat, of its strengths or weaknesses (and thus of the balance of forces against capital), nor as an objective product of the movement. They consider it as the exclusive subjective product of the “activists”. We also point out the absence of any revolutionary counter-proposition, of any claim of the specific revolutionary activity that since ever characterised the most decided factions of the proletariat, that is to say the revolutionary internationalist activity.
28. One could retort that the exploited class always acts according to the dominant class determinations, that capital is the subject of this society and that the proletariat can only arise as a negation. It is true, but in this precise case, it is not a matter of a spontaneous and generalised reaction of the proletariat facing a bourgeois attack. Even if it determines the proletariat action by its aggression, the bourgeoisie cannot predict how it will react, neither what moment it will choose to react, nor what kind of action it will put into practice. In the case of the summits and anti-summits, it’s the opposite; the action of the proletariat is completely determined and publicly known in advance.
29. Quotations from pamphlets, conversations and letters from comrades.
30. For the majority of these groups (in reality merely pseudo-radicals) that use the term in an immediate and erroneous sense, “radical” means giving a violent character to the social democrat procession, outflanking the Attac celebrations through “direct action” (see farther the critic of the use of the term “direct action”), which in fact contradicts the only policy the proletariat is interested in, that is to say standing outside and against these counterrevolutionary demonstrations. For us, toradicalise means fighting to destroy the very roots of the bourgeois society, its foundations, its values, wage labour… all these “little programmatic details” that are never mentioned by any of these groups.
31. And this is one of the major problems of the proletariat. Social democracy should not be criticised for its deviations, but because it is a part of capital; its pacifism should not be denounced, but confronted through revolutionary violence, because that pacifism is merely an ideological element that makes it easier to inflict upon us its counterrevolutionary violence (let us remember that social democracy always resorts to violence against the revolution!).
32. We remind that this article has been written before the G8 meeting in Genoa. The demonstrations that occurred on that occasion provide enough evidence of what we denounce here: one death, hundreds of wounded among our ranks and impunity for the repressive forces.
33. Through this mediation, “direct action” is also turned into a caricature!
34. That is one of the great preoccupations of the bourgeoisie, particularly the partisans of national liberation, expressed here by a French journalist: “(….) Young people in Kabylia no longer believe in anything, they only believe in violence, they are absolutely not interested in independence, and the independentist organisations, albeit doing their best, do not succeed in controlling them.”
35. Already in his time, Bernstein wanted to get rid of the “Hegelianism” in Marx because the question of the transformation of quantity into quality, of the evolution of contradiction into revolution, bothered him greatly. He intended to remove the “Blanquism” too, because he hated even more the fact that this proletarian revolution necessarily implied revolutionary conspiring and insurrection. Nowadays, the movement features this same tendency to elude the rupture, the qualitative leap, the revolution, and the insurrection.
36. “Anti-imperialism” is in reality nothing but the defence of imperialist capitalism. To be anti-imperialist without being anti-capitalist is absurd not only because any capitalism is necessarily imperialist, because any state (capital organised as an imperialist force), while ensuring exploitation and oppression of its “own” proletariat, represents on the inter-imperialist battlefield one bourgeois faction against another, but also because, being capital, it is by nature pro-imperialist. This “anti-imperialism” translates into exclusive opposition towards such and such faction, such and such institution (IMF, NATO…), such and such country, which in practice is capitalistic and totally imperialistic.
37. The essence of capitalism is invariant. All oppositions between competitive phases and monopolistic phases, between free trade and imperialist periods have never been anything else but the ideological cover of opportunism in the defence of the “good side” of capitalism: “democracy”, industrialisation, and, in reality, support to one of the blocks within the imperialist war.
38. The organisation of the proletariat as an historic force requires a structuring that is totally antagonist to these bourgeois divisions. As the proletarian organisation will grow, it will manage to mix within its cells proletarians from different races, cultures, sex, age and to overstep the limits and divisions enforced by capital, to reform at last the human world community.
39. What is new about it?
40. The organisations that have signed this pamphlet are: Juventude Em Luta Revolutionária, Jornal Espacio Socialista, Comité Marxista Revolucionário, Anarcho-Punks, Movimiento Che Vive (RJ), Coletivo Pela Universidade Popular (Porto Alegre), Secretaria Estadual de Casas de estudantes de Goiás, Grupo Cultural Semente de Esperança. Ação Global pela Justiça Local, Resistencia Popular – RJ/PA, Núcleo Zumbi Zapatista – ABC Paulista, Estrategia Revolucionária, Socialismo Libertário – Brasília, Federación Anarquista Uruguaya, Ação Revolucionária Marxista (RJ), Frente de Luta Popular, Juventude Avançar na Luta, Liga Bolchevique Internacinalista, Agrupación En Clave ROJA, Espaço Popular. Contact: email@example.com
41. To consider that these institutions are the source of exploitation constitutes obviously a revision, a falsification of the very concept of exploitation, as we shall explain further in this article.
42. Which is erroneously named as state capitalism, as if capitalism changed nature due to its juridical statehood, which does not necessarily coincide with the real concentration, centralisation and economic nationalisation of capital, as we have already attested.
43. During several proletarian insurrections such as those that occurred in Germany in 1919, or in Spain in the 30’s, revolutionaries at war with money and capital and imposing class violence in a city burnt money. But that situation was totally different: it was a symbolic act, taking place during the insurrectional full development of the revolution.
44. Without insisting here on the numerous confusions that those “anarchists” accept and that derive from the dominant ideology, we shall mention only one: to stand against “the globalisation of markets” is significant of huge concessions to the novelty ideology, developed by social democracy.
45. It is impossible to quote here the different works of criticising democracy in which we substantiate its key role in the capitalist domination. We shall mention only one translated into English: “Against the myth of democratic rights and liberties” in Communism n°8.
46. On this matter, read our series of articles on the 1917-1923 period in Spanish and French (but unfortunately not yet in English): “Rusia, contrarrevolución y desarrollo del capitalismo” – “Russie, contre-révolution et développement du capitalisme”, and especially the articles “La concepción socialdemocrata de transición al socialismo” – “La conception sociale-démocrate de la transition au socialisme” and “Contra el mito de la transformación socialista. La politica economica y social de los bolcheviques y la continuidad capitalista” – “Contre le mythe de la transformation socialiste. La politique économique et sociale des bolchéviques”.
47. Here is a quotation that needs no comment: “Anyway, the proletariat’s program was already fulfilled by capital. The democratic universal republic, we had it: it was the UNO (United Nations Organization) plus the IMF (International Monetary Fund). Also the development of the productive forces: it was the automation’s infernal cadences.
48. It does not seem important, nor even relevant, to analyse any further the fantasies of “Théorie Communiste”, because this small group of initiates took fun in redefining all the concepts, and to get into the details would require excessively long terminological explanations. Let us simply say that the most ludicrous aspects of their program, such as the theory of surpassing programmatism, the historic surpassing of transition, the theory of self-negation of the proletariat without its affirmation as a class, derived from the fact that “program”, for “Théorie Communiste”, means the program of social democracy, “transition” means Leninist transition, “affirmation of the proletariat” means affirmation of the Bolshevik power in Russia… All this construction is based on social-democrat concepts, and loses all interest as soon as those terms are defined according to the communist critique of bolshevism, as it was the case, within the Third International, for what was then called the German, Italian… and generally the international Communist Left.
49. It’s the same struggle as ever, that during the war, takes shape into revolutionary defeatism. Read “The invariance of the revolutionary position on war. The meaning of revolutionary defeatism”, in Communism nº12.
50. Centralisation of the leadership, centralized leadership does not mean (whatever may say the anti-authoritarian ideology that prevails nowadays) petty bosses, bureaucracy, and hierarchy as with capitalism and even in the Marxist-Leninist or libertarian groups. On the contrary, the more decentralized the action, the more accurately the proletariat will know where to direct the movement. Let every part of the moment know where to concentrate its forces and how to strike the enemy, and let them do it together. Let every local fraction of the world proletariat was part of one and the same body, that’s what the revolutionaries mean by “organic centralism”, opposed to the democratic centralism of capitalism.