The disaster of the capitalist mode of production is taking on clearer and clearer contours: the catastrophe is maturing. Indifferent to the scornful little smiles we meet with at the mere mention of the word, we communists have always taken a “catastrophic” view: in other words we know that catastrophe is the inevitable end to a mode of production such as the capitalist one, which unceasingly exalts the forces of production, subordinating them at the same time to the law of profit and forcing them into the straightjacket of bourgeois social forms. Catastrophe means therefore that, shaken violently by a systemic crisis of overproduction of goods and capital, the entire scaffolding supporting bourgeois society is yielding everywhere. No government in any country can remedy the catastrophe looming, except by intensifying day by day the exploitation of the proletariat by cutting salaries, pensions, welfare and by increasing “productivity” – i.e. further aggravating their living and working conditions. Competition will become acute, the crises will become increasingly intense and frequent, the rush on raw materials will become relentless, geo-strategic positioning will become vital for the survival of one national capital or the other, nationalism will explode in all its forms: this is the prospect. The only way out, which finally, when objective conditions impose it, will be taken by national and international capitals, will be the preparation of a new world war.
Meanwhile, the economic crisis is eating away at privileged positions, convictions, sinecures and guarantees. Not only is the proletariat being hit by the crisis, subjected as it is to a crossfire of precariousness, lay-offs and hopeless dependence on the redundancy fund, the impossibility of finding work or of getting by on miserly pensions. The crisis is also hitting the enormous, shapeless mass of the petit bourgeoisie (the white-collar workers, the working-class aristocracy, the faithful servants of the State, tertiary services of all types, origins, tendencies and natures) that swelled up like an enormous canker in the decades following the end of the second world massacre, in the glorious (!?) years of the economic boom.
These are the people who in the last years and months and all around the world have started to see before them not a luminous future as they had always deluded themselves, but the awful spectre of an increasingly precarious and increasingly unstable economic and social position – the spectre of lost privileges and a downwards slither into the pits of society, the spectre of proletarianization! They have thus been recycling worn-out slogans, “inventing” scenarios older than capitalism, whining prostrate at the feet of the State in the obtuse conviction that there salvation will be forthcoming – anything to avoid recognizing that the enemy is capitalism as a mode of production and that the war will therefore have to be a far cry from “indignant” clowning around: it has to be a class war that opposes class to class. They have filled whole pages of newspapers and blogs with themselves, invoking (in capitalism!) pacifism, democracy, common goods, rights, and then a whole lot of State, legality, morality, autonomy, nation and so on with all the rest: fair trade, sustainability, ethical banks, kilometre zero, control over finance, redistribution of wealth, basic income guarantee, self-managed free spaces, etc. etc. – all the hot air possible and imaginable of “thought” so weak as to be exhausted, catatonic and corpselike, the eternal illusion that it is possible to set out on a path of gradual improvement or that the “blame for everything” might be one government or the other, one politician or the other.
From Plaza del Sol in Madrid to Zuccotti Park in New York passing through Piazza S. Giovanni in Roma, the “indignados” – a ragged army of “subjects”, the multi-coloured regurgitation of frayed half-classes genetically unable to give birth to any ideology that isn’t a bad copy of the pre- or proto-bourgeois variety, the unsuccessful clone of Proudhon’s “philosophy of poverty” – have deluded themselves that they have something to say and that they can say it by making themselves seen and heard.
This minestrone does, however, contain other ingredients, as well as the petit-bourgeois scared by the prospect of proletarianization. In it, of necessity, float the young (and not so young), now truly proletarianized and devoid of hope, who, thanks to all the mongrel theories of the “new professions”, the pathetic recycling of of the seventies’ “theory of needs”, had lived for a time under the illusion of being able to form a class aside, with a separate identity, under the banner of precariousness seen as an alternative to rigid bourgeois hierarchies (“freelance” work, “distance” work, marginality as “freedom from work”). The crisis is sweeping away these phantoms which have for a time been concealing the real skeleton: and thus the neo-proletarianized fill the streets with their anger, upsetting the bleating and well-meaning pacifist projects of the “indignados”, overturning the tables around which the “indignados” beg for the State (cops included), “aware” politicians, “well-meaning people” (priests included) to take their seats and – all joining in merrily together – elaborate a project for … going ahead: in other words, keeping the zombie on its feet and instilling new life into it.
These recent proletarianized youth have been joined by areas of real proletarians, abandoned to their own resources for some time by the trade unions and smaller corporative unions, who are feeling the direct heat not of the “threat” of a crisis but its actual devastating blows: workers from factories and little workshops, laid off and unemployed, living off redundancy funds or under special administration, with or without a contract, the huge army of immigrant proletarians in the prisons of logistics and “forced labour” in fields and on building sites.
These are the tomato- and fruit-pickers who rebelled in Rosario and Nardò in Italy. And who, in the “indignados” demonstrations, end up by clashing with the forces of law and order. It happened in Rome on 15th October and it happened in Oakland in the United States, where the shapeless magma of “Occupy” has started to englobe and express components that cannot be reduced to simple petit-bourgeois indignation. And we are certainly not talking here about the Black Block or their like, an invention by the media and by the press releases from the political divisions of police stations throughout the world, or the manifestation of an individualist rebellion as an end in itself, devoid of any political prospective, and coinciding in the end with the “objectives” (?) of the indignant little lambs protesting against the banks, speculators and international finance – who knows, perhaps even a bit “demo-pluto-judaic”: and here the ground in common with the so-called “social right” is hardly so far removed (and we shall have to return to this). We are talking about proletarian layers, heterogeneous of course, and of course affected by different and contradictory tensions, but who are starting to react, in a confused, chaotic and episodic manner to the massacre they have been led to. And they are making themselves heard and will continue to make themselves heard more and more.
It is these layers that we communists address. Let us leave the “indignados” to their neurotic and desperate elbowing. The petit bourgeoisie is pre-destined: it can delude itself for decades that it has reached heaven on earth but its destiny is that of ruin. At this point, they will have to decide for themselves: either with the proletariat or with the bourgeoisie. Let us leave them to their fate then, and not concern ourselves too much with them, their gurus and their tired fashions. Our class has nothing in common with them. Our class is of a different nature and has a different role to play. It has a different prospective: that of revolutionizing this mode of production, of overthrowing the State which provides armed defence of it, of instituting its own class dictatorship, as a transition, a bridge towards a classless society, towards socialism. It follows a different practice that must emerge once again from the confused rebelling, inevitable in the early days of confusion: the class war, completely independent of parties and bourgeois or petit-bourgeois unions. And for this reason it has – it must have once again – a different and organized political reference point: the revolutionary Party.
Being indignant is not enough: indeed it offers a prospect of defeat. Starting to fight again, returning blow for blow, organizing in order to defend living and working conditions and – under the guidance of us communists – preparing finally for the decisive attack: this is urgent and must not be abandoned.
International Communist Party
("Il programma comunista", n°6, novembre-dicembre 2011)