The present text, published here for the first time in the English language, is the translation of a party work which appeared in our press in the years 1960–61, and was later published as a pamphlet in Italian and French.
Forty years after the publication of «‹Left-wing› Communism, an Infantile Disorder», the opportunism of all countries was feeling so confident about its control over the working class to dare to extol Lenin and his work, while betraying his shining legacy of theory and fight in the daily subjugation of the proletarians to the wills and needs of the bourgeoisies.
In November 1960 they went so far as to convoke in Moscow a «Conference of the representatives of the communist and workers’ parties» which begot a «Resolution», which we readily rechristened «Swine Manifesto». The resolution, to which our text often makes reference, said nothing new: as opportunism cannot say anything that hasn’t already undergone the distinctive criticism of Marx and Engels, first, and then of Lenin. Ever since Proudhon’s formulae, the novelties of opportunism have limited themselves to the search for new explanations (the notorious discoveries!) of alleged «new situations», able to justify the betrayals perpetrated towards the proletariat; and to always new and incomprehensible terms that make it arduous for the workers to understand that they're being deceived.
It was therefore not the necessity of refuting new arguments to make us write this text, nor was the itch to join the fashion of commemorations, which are made to the dead, while Lenin and his work are for us more alive than ever. We rather believed that it was worth devoting a work to such a subject, as a constant duty of the party is the defence of both doctrine and organisation from the slanders that mercenaries and renegades do not spare us: and the closer such renegades have been to us, to revolutionary marxism, the more they are vile in the mystification, after irreversibly going over to the enemy.
The thesis of the swines was (and still is, as they are unfortunately still free to root in their troughs) that the Left, in that writing and later, was confuted by Lenin; and that therefore we were some sort of deviationists, of spuricus extremists, slyly infiltrated within the international revolutionary movement.
Our text demonstrates that the divergences, were of a merely tactical and contingent nature, and due to the peculiar historical experience as well as to the different look-out point which characterised the movement in Russia, if compared to the movement in Europe. It was up to the international party to decide, and history gave a clear and definitive answer to questions that it was legitimate to put at that time. But the text also demonstrates the accordance between us and the Bolsheviks, both in 1920 and in the years before, when we didn’t know Lenin yet, on quite more fundamental issues: the assertion of the necessity of a violent revolution of the proletariat, led by the marxist party, disciplined and centralised; the assertion of the subsequent revolutionary dictatorship of the proletariat; struggle with no compromises against the two «extremisms», anarchist and reformist: this was the trench in which we were side by side with the Bolsheviks, against all the real «extremists», actually carriers of rehashed petty-bourgeois ideologies, who proved to be the first obstacle to knock down before being able to attack the central power of capitalism. The cleaning up of the international party could not be thoroughly done, and the consequences are today under our very eyes.
Such an accordance on the principles – which appears crystal clear to anyone who takes the trouble to study without ulterior motives both the positions and the practical activity of the Communist Left – was not due to telepathic phenomena or to mysterious international connections, but rather to the fact that both movements had made reference and studied the large doctrinal legacy of marxism, as well as the lessons of the class struggles of the past century. Like us, the Bolsheviks didn’t discover anything, and Lenin himself demonstrates it in all his writings. But for the first time it was then possible to verify in facts, in history, a teaching that already existed within our doctrine’s framework.
Lenin must be read, and his greatness appreciated, in this light: not as the founder of «leninism», a word that Stalin invented to betray and counterfeit word by word the teachings of the maestro, but as a powerful scholar of marxism: it was his lifelong theoretical work to enable him to «make» the revolution, and not the opposite. Which higher lesson can be drawn from the October, than that the revolution can take place and be victorious only if led by a really marxist party, which in the decades before has devoted a great deal of energies to the strengthening and sharpening of its theoretical weapons?
Lenin’s «‹Left-wing› communism» weighed the achievements of that experience, and laid the foundations of the revolutionary work to come, according to his style: before uniting, let us set out clearly our positions; those of the Left were in order, and Lenin acknowledged it. But those who were then branded as traitors are nowadays still pretending to be champions of the working class, and «‹Left-wing› communism» was written against them. That’s why in 1960 it had to be thrown in the face of the 81 swines of Moscow, and in 1984 we still vindicate it as a text of ours, today more topical than ever.
That’s also why we're making this work of 24 years ago available to the proletarians of English speaking countries, The history of the international workers’ movement saw its early, exciting episodes taking place precisely in England, which was utilised by Marx for his studies on the capitalist economy, and where unionism was born. But the proletariat achieved the highest points of the political struggle in other countries, while the British working class was being firmly trapped by opportunism, openly patriotic and collaborationist, and by the corruption exerted by the opulent British Imperialism. The revolutionary wave which took place after the first world war saw the formation also in England of a communist party which, although initially on marxist positions, could not escape a degeneration in a Stalinist sense, which by the way was to be the fate of all the parties of the IIIrd International. Thus, while the British working class can boast glorious traditions of economic struggles – which in several instances seriously troubled the British society – virtually absent are traditions of revolutionary struggles, in which the masses of the Continent have been involved in several historical turning-points. Such a different past has always been an obstacle for the historical linking between the British workers’ vanguards and the international revolutionary party; but the linkage will take place, because the international communist party is not Russian, German or Italian, but rather a world party, which draws its origins from all the experiences of the proletariat, from the victories and the defeats, from the conquests as well as from the retreats that the workers of all countries have experienced in the course of their class history. It is therefore also the party of British, American and Australian workers, it is also the product of their struggles and the champion of their historical interests.
It is not absurd to say that marxism, born in France and England, grown in Germany, successful in Russia and tirelessly defended in Italy, might in a not too far future even see the assault to the citadels of capital come from those very working masses of Great Britain and U.S.A.
Working men of all countries, unite!