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We received a letter from a reader asking us to explain our pointedly uncommunicative attitude towards other apparently similar political organisations. Our reply is set out below.
In your letter you raised a number of issues. Some of them are fundamental because they concern the very nature of the party itself and its way of dealing with historical challenges.
You observe that we never discuss the political programmes and activity of other organisations in our press, and ask why we do not consider it necessary to request «clarification» from them about their positions and denounce them for opportunism.
Our response to you is that the Party hasn't made a principle of not engaging in polemics and political criticism of opportunist organisations that refer to Marxism. Our party publications and texts in fact demonstrate this insofar as they all consist of denunciations of the various deviations from the correct line. Even though there is rarely any explicit mention of names, we don't however rule out that occasionally our criticism may be more explicit, and go so far as to name names.
What the party does rule out however is polemic for polemics sake: as though polemics were some kind of competitive sport between communists to show which organisation was the «best prepared», the most skilful at using «the sources», and the one which writes with the most eloquent and incisive rhetoric. The revolutionary militia requires that all forces at its disposal engage in tasks which further the aims of the Party; and criticism for criticism's sake is not one of them. Our view is that the aim of passing on the correct revolutionary doctrine to the working class is not advanced by engaging in exegeses of incoherent texts emanating from spurious, ephemeral and irrelevant organisations. Fundamentally flawed texts simply sow the seeds of confusion, and rather than focusing on them and picking holes in them, we consider it better to consign them to oblivion and set out our own position as clearly as possible.
The party is proud not to belong to any «revolutionary camp» or «movement of the Communist Left'. The numerous little groups that orbit around it create a kind of distorting lens between the party and the working class. They either defend conceptions (whether in good or bad faith is irrelevant) which have already been defeated by the movement and are therefore, whatever they say, not revolutionary marxists (the I.C.C. for instance) or, worse still, they trace their origins to and find their raison d'être in a degeneration of the party's positions, and make a virtue of both of «re-evaluating» theses long accepted and agreed upon, and in voluntary departure from, and opposition to, the organisation and discipline of the party. As in electromagnetism, two similar but distinct charges repel each other, and the same can be said of our apparent relationship with these renegade groups. Only an irresistible, final and «fatal» determinant can have provoked their desertion from the only communist party. Such a desertion is de facto, and considered by us as irreversible.
With degenerative phenomena such as these, study and polemic is simply a waste of time, and amongst ourselves we refer to it as the «condemnation to silence».
It is true that applying this method can make it difficult for the reader, or a hypothetical militant who's wading through all the various leftwing papers, to easily distinguish revolutionary from non-revolutionary positions. But Opportunism creates far greater difficulties, since in order to fulfil its confusionist role it has always been obliged to disguise itself with apparently identical lexicon, positions and theses to the party. Our belief is that if the party were to enter that discredited arena of «revolutionary debate» where spiteful oratories between alleged «cousins» are the order of the day, the party would inevitably get drawn in and only add to the confusion.
That is not the only reason we don't want to get drawn in. As the texts of our current explain, the true revolutionary organisation is unlikely in any case to be recognised amongst the myriad swarm of other groups purely by rational means. This is because even the best prepared of militants cannot achieve complete knowledge of all aspects of the programme, because such knowledge only exists in the party collective as a whole; which is the conscious organ par excellence. In the majority of cases then, both the perception of the phenomena of opportunism and the recognition of the party doesn't come about by rational means or by pure study but through class instinct, by observing the sound development of party activity in real situations, and by soaking up the atmosphere of communism and militancy which surrounds it. This is very different from the pettiness of the bourgeois and individualistic intriguing of the various little groups. As happened in Russia in 1917, hundreds of thousands, indeed millions, of proletarians will eventually choose the revolutionary road without having read a single word of Marx or Lenin.
The position of the working class today is much worse than it was on the eve of the 1st World War: it is completely absent from the historical scene. But getting lots of little groups together to create political hybridisations will certainly do nothing to achieve the «historical ionisation» required to remedy the situation. Such a process will only come about as the fruit of the contradictions of capitalism and as a result of its effect on hundreds of millions of human beings. For this reason the party has to preserve its theoretical, political and organisational integrity: the proletariat will stand in need of a doctrine which is untainted, uncompromised and ridden of uncertainty if it wishes to launch an effective battle, with an intransigent party as its vanguard, to attain its historic goals.
We don't then maintain relations with the so-called «revolutionary milieu». We are nevertheless quite often invited to «debate» our revolutionary positions with a view to the «formation of the party». These invitations are mainly issued by the ICC - who recently invited us to a kind of Zimmerwald conference against the Balkan war - and it demonstrates (like others who don't have the courage to admit it) that they subscribe to a totally voluntarist method of increasing party membership.
Parties are not brought into being through gigantic efforts of revolutionary willpower. Parties have formed at key historical junctures, in varied and contrasting revolutionary climates. The key dates were 1848, 1864, 1889, 1919 and 1951, and we founded our party in the 1951 wave. We do not feel any particular need to be «fertilised» with «new ideas» or with rehashed old ones. We prefer continuing to «hone our weapons» instead. Tomorrows» world revolutionary party will not take on flesh and bone through a process of annexing small groups of bewildered individuals, but on the basis of correct theses, faithfully adhered to and sustained by impassioned propaganda. In this way will the party take shape and grow.
We would destroy the party's identity if we were to form blocs and sign joint declarations and accords. And we believe this to the extent that we will continue doggedly applying the formula «Who isn't with us is against us» - even if the accusation of «sectarian!» is levelled against us by those for whom grasping the essence of revolutionary dialectics will forever remain an unattainable goal.
Source: «Communist Left», N° 14, Autumn 2000. Translated from «Mortali abracci», in «Il Partito Comunista», N° 269, July 1999.
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