I. The setting of the 1920 historical drama
During a commemoration of Lenin, given in Rome’s Casa del Popolo on the initiative of the Communist Left soon after his death, the speaker, after giving the «alleged tactical opportunism of Lenin» its due, quoted a passage from the beginning of the classical «State and Revolution», as follows: «Lenin says it is inevitable for the great revolutionary pioneers to becoming counterfeit, as was for Marx and his best followers. Will Lenin escape such a fate? Certainly not!»
Thirty-six years have passed since this easy forecast. Their balance, accompanied step by step by the pitiless critique of the Left, demonstrates how the volume of forging shit opportunism tried to accumulate on Lenin’s figure is at least ten times more nauseating than that showered on Marx
The base system of distorters is always the same. Firstly, build up a legend in place of the historical truth that caused the formation of both method and programme of those high communists. Pick up within this legend isolated, adulterated quotations detached from the real struggle conditions that gave rise to the shaping of such classical texts. Finally, barefacedly change completely their significance by taking advantage of the difficult conditions in which the revolutionary class fights. This class, in most cases, owing to the poverty in which it lives, must be satisfied with an armament of theoretical arms furnished by third- or fourth-hand junk-shops.
A marxist work, carried out, as is the case within our ranks, without fatuous and conceited amateurishness as well as with no despicable, easily corruptible arrivism, makes it possible instead to demonstrate that in «‹Left-wing› communism» every page, every phrase fall, as an implacable lash, upon the brazen face of traitors and renegades.
To set about this it is necessary to forget about rhetoric and demagogy, and go back to the positive history of facts. In them alone – and not in the low gossipy chronicle of contemporary events – can be read the unique, clear trace of revolutionary doctrine and accomplishment, which the Kobolds have tried for a century to contradict.
Within only four years after Lenin’s return to Russia, October 1917 had taken place and, through the ruined IInd International opportunism’s unmasking, just one year before (March 1919) the IIIrd had been founded.
The bolshevik party was receiving from every direction in the world curses and approvals, fierce invectives and passionate supports. At the time we are referring to, the first commitment of the Russian party was still the hot war, the civil war against the Whites, Denikin, Judenič, Wrangel, the thousand avalanches resting on German, English, French, Japanese military plans. Such a period, that we dealt with in wide works on the path of the revolution in Russia, had maintained in the front-line this not only political, but also openly military fight: everything was to be subordinated to victory.
If Lenin had been an opportunist, as they tried to depict him for forty years, he would not have been able to find one minute to choose, between supports and declarations of war. In a world of fierce enemies, all friends would have been unconditionally accepted, to such a point urgent was the need of finding supports within the international world, where all bourgeoisies were centuplicating their ferocious efforts, enraged by their terror of the red dictatorship.
Lenin instead writes the text for the preparation of the IInd Congress, convoked for June, 1920. He knows from the lessons of history – as the text before anything else demonstrates – that the victory in Russia occurred because the party was, in the course of its foundation and preparation, pitiless and blunt as to the acknowledgement of enemies and allies. His first worry is that the world revolutionary party must not be formed without a rigorous foundation of programmatic and organisational doctrine, even if it may involve the rejection of many, many supporters from outside Russia.
Such a selection is banally interpreted by borrowing bourgeois parliamentary politics. A danger from the «right» was already evident, as individuals between the IInd and the IIIrd Internationals would have liked to penetrate into the new one, to cast a blight on it: Kautskyism, centrism; Lenin had already fiercely hammered them. But further supports were to be carefully examined, those coming, in the political jargon, from «left», from anarchists, from libertarians, and from the so-called revolutionary syndicalists of Sorel’s school.
All these people were supporting the Russian events by virtue of their acceptance of armed violence in the class struggle. But Lenin knew only too well that the warming up of a few blockheads (for the most part personally real cowards) for the sight of a punch-up or of a twopenny shooting had nothing to do with the revolutionary position. He knew that such people, erroneously called leftists, are often of a proletarian origin, and sincere in their mistakings. He knew just as well that it is not a matter of imparting moral absolutions, but of organising the revolutionary forces: he just used towards those deviated ones less scathing terms, if compared to those given to the right-wing opportunists (even if within both ranks were misled workers and would-be intellectuals aspiring to become leaders).
The main danger of this very false extremism is the refusal of the fundamental teachings of the Russian revolution as regards both state and party as essential instruments of the revolution, throughout a whole historical phase. Anarchists had been judged, both as doctrine and organisation, in the course of Marx and Engels polemics within the Ist International. In Russia, says Lenin, they proved themselves astray, though if predominating in 1870–1880, «thus revealing the ineptitude of anarchism as a revolutionary theory». As for sorelian syndicalists, they are less known to Lenin, being characteristic of latin countries; there, the criticism of their doctrine had been made by right-wing marxists almost until the war (not in Italy: it is known, however, how reformist socialists, sorelian syndicalists and even anarchists fell into social-chauvinism: France and Italy).
But Lenin could see the mistaken school getting on within a wing (called «left») of the Spartakus Party German Communists, which had split into KPD (Communist Party of Germany) and KAPD (Communist Workers’ Party of Germany), and within Gorter’s and Pannekoek’s Tribune Dutch group.
Why does this faction, in spite of its open sympathy towards the October revolution, worry Lenin? Precisely because Lenin was not an opportunist but rather a defender of theoretical rigour.
Lenin almost excuses the false leftists of Russia and France, because they had never been on the line of a marxist tradition. By virtue of his brilliant awareness, he is rather concerned about those who still declare themselves marxists, as well as we do ourselves towards those who call themselves.… leninists. Lenin quotes from an article of Karl Erler, carrying an edifying title: «The Dissolution of the Party», the following pearl:
«The working class cannot destroy the bourgeois state without destroying bourgeois democracy, and it cannot destroy bourgeois democracy without destroying parties.»
Lenin cannot here avoid bursting out:
«The more muddle-headed of the syndicalists and anarchists in the latin countries may derive ‹satisfaction› from the fact that solid Germans, who evidently consider themselves marxists, go to the length of making utterly inept statements.» (Lenin, «Selected Works», ed. 1977, p. 529)
The Communist International could not be defined only by the getting together of those socialists who vindicated armed violence as means of proletarian class struggle. The distinction would have been insufficient. Now, all these groups are rightly suspected by Lenin, but not as much as the right-wingers, as in a passage he says:
«At the Ninth Congress of our Party (April 1920) there was a small opposition, which also spoke against the ‹dictatorship of leaders›, against the ‹oligarchy›, and so on. There is therefore nothing surprising, new, or terrible in the ‹infantile disorder› of ‹Left-wing communism› among the Germans. The ailment involves no danger, and after it the organism even becomes more robust.» (op. cit., p. 531)
This is the idea of Lenin of the famous infantile disorder. But he knew well which other danger was coming from the centrists and from the famous «right». It was the «senile disorder» of communism, that led the revolutionary organism to the present death, its results being far more detrimental than the ruinous crisis of the IInd International.
Within the surge of comment to which the Russian revolution gave rise, a great many of our critics and detractors – who had understood nothing of the grandiose theory of Marx – Lenin on proletarian dictatorship – started railing against the «dictators», or the dictator, Lenin, in a chorusing that ranged from right-wing bourgeois to democrats and anarchists.
Liberals were forgetting the gigantic figures of their dictators, from Cromwell to Robespierre, to Garibaldi; among libertarians some, quoted in the abovementioned commemoration, had foolishly written: mourning or feast? The left-wingers in Holland, Germany and other countries were hesitating on the «dictatorship», and Lenin rightly demonstrated that they were doing so because they were imbued with a democratic and petty-bourgeois mentality; the same that scandalised Kautsky’s centrists and all the imbeciles who since then, up to the present, have been shouting: socialism is only democracy, freedom for all! And the same, shady characters, today speak in the name of Lenin.
But in these very pages, allegedly written against us, true left marxists, Lenin scatters, as befits him, all hesitations and principle distinctions between proletarian dictatorship, party dictatorship, and even dictatorship of given persons.
In his Vth chapter, titled: «‹Left-wing› communism in Germany. The leaders, the party, the class, the masses», Lenin amply quotes from a pamphlet of the left-wing German communists, who put the empty alternative: should we, in principle, strive for a dictatorship of the Communist Party, or for a dictatorship of the proletarian class? And who further on set one against the other two solutions: the party of leaders, acting from above, and the mass party, which expects the upsurge of the struggle from below.
The criticism developed by Lenin at this point merely consists of establishing that, if we repudiate the «party leadership» that scandalised those communists, we repudiate both proletarian dictatorship and revolution, and if we don’t want the party to act through «leaders» just for the fear of this word, we relapse in the same impotence. Our party is different from all other parties, our mechanism of revolutionary men is different from the flattering and advertising mechanisms of other movements. And Lenin will connect this to the vital necessity for an «illegal» organisation.
With his remarkable talent for clarity, Lenin is not going to give us here the philosophical definitions of such «categories» as masses, class, party and leaders. Time was pressing and the settlement took place in another way. But Lenin’s text gets rid of all hesitations on the necessity for the dictatorship to be a party one, or, in given extreme cases, of certain party members; which has, since then on, horrified all orthodox thinkers, who are nevertheless always ready to prostrate themselves before summit meetings of four Duces or, as we say, of, four big shots.
Nothing to do with electoral mandates and internal referendums.
«The mere presentation of the question – ‹dictatorship of the party or dictatorship of the class; dictatorship (party) of the leaders, or dictatorship (party) of, the masses?› – testifies to most incredible and hopelessly muddled thinking.… It is common knowledge that the masses are divided into classes; that the masses can be contrasted with classes only by contrasting the vast majority in general, regardless of division according to status in the social system of production, with categories holding a definitive status in the social system of production; that as a rule and in most cases at least in present-day civilised countries – classes are led by political parties; that political parties, as a general rule, are run by more or less stable groups composed of the most authoritative, influential and experienced members, who are elected to the most responsible positions, and are called leaders. All this is elementary. All this is clear and simple.» (op. cit., p. 527–8)
Such clear words recall those of Engels on Spanish anarchists:
«A revolution is the most authoritarian fact that can take place».
The class revolution is a war, a civil war; an army, headquarters, and a party are necessary as well as, after victory, a state, a government, men in power.
The text here explains how the muddling of ideas was brought about by the necessity of acting in an illegal situation, as was in Germany after the first war, in place of the former full legality.
«When, instead of this customary procedure, it became necessary, because of the stormy development of the revolution and the development of the civil war, to go over rapidly from legality to illegality, to combine the two, and to adopt the ‹inconvenient› and ‹undemocratic› methods of selecting, or forming, or preserving ‹groups of leaders› – people lost their bearings and began to think up some unmitigated nonsense.» (op. cit., p. 528)
Many good proletarians, who had their fingers burnt by the betrayal of socialists in 1914, became distrustful of leaders, whoever they might be. Lenin reminds us that the degeneration of leaders is an old and cleared up thing for marxists, and cannot be settled by «contrasting the leaders with the masses». It is not the matter of bad leaders and good masses, but rather of a degeneration of both leaders and masses.
«The principal reason for this was explained many times by Marx and Engels between the years 1852 and 1892, from the example of Britain. That country’s exclusive position led to the emergence, from the ‹masses›, of a semi-petty-bourgeois, opportunist ‹labour aristocracy›. The leaders of this labour aristocracy were constantly going over to the bourgeoisie, and were directly or indirectly on its pay roll. Marx earned the honour of incurring the hatred of these disreputable persons by openly branding them as traitors.» (op. cit., 528–9)
This phenomenon, says Lenin, occurred again during the war and within the Second International,
«has produced a certain type of traitor, opportunist, and social-chauvinist leaders, who champion the interests of their own craft, their own section of the labour aristocracy. The opportunist parties have become separated from the ‹masses›, i.e., from the broadest strata of the working people, their majority, the lowest-paid workers. The revolutionary proletariat cannot be victorious unless this evil is combated, unless the opportunist, social- traitor leaders are exposed, discredited and expelled. That is the policy the Third International has embarked on.» (op. cit., p. 529)
Which marxist can confuse such an historical position with the libertarian proposal: the evil is in the party, the evil is in the famous «leaders»?
The matter was of principle and of programme, rather than of contingent, or, worse, of local, national, German, tactics. It is an historical truth that leaders and whole parties, both making reference to the proletariat and even to its specific and classical revolutionary doctrine, have nevertheless passed on to the class enemy’s side; but it must not lead us to repudiate the arm of the party and the arm, if we can thus call it, of the «leader». Marxist doctrine, as a matter of fact, has since its appearance refuted once and for all such objections, from the Manifesto, which demands the organisation of proletariat into a class party (which, according to the First International statutes is «opposed to all other parties»), to the writings of Marx and Engels on revolution and counterrevolution in Germany; and so on.
Today we can say more. At the times of Marx and Lenin it had not yet occurred that a «State» of the proletarian victory, such as in Russia, could degenerate to the point of going over to the enemy’s side, as regards to both foreign (war alliances) and domestic politics (capitalistic economical and social measures). Such an historical event alone is sufficient to demonstrate how foolish are those who do not realise that today’s opportunism has consummated something twenty times more infamous than yesterday's, as known to Marx and Lenin. It did not only dishonour both party and men of the proletariat, it even brought dishonour upon the first state of the proletarian dictatorship. Such a fact is not to be expressed by just saying: man is corruptible, the proletariat is corruptible, socialists and communists are corruptible, and the party is corruptible, but also: the proletarian state is corruptible – owing to relations among real historical forces and not to the frailty of flesh, or to other ethical explanations! – But the above does not allow us to say: let us renounce the state; power is a dirty thing, that corrupts anyone.
This theoretical heresy was well known to Marx and Lenin who crushed it once and for all. And Lenin sees in the mistakes of principle of the German leftists the same wrong idea: he confirms that we must be able to handle all such difficult weapons: men, party, and guidance of the state government. The problem is that of showing the historical path, according to which our political militants, our revolutionary party, our state apparatus, will be totally different from all those – partly, sad to say, also proletarian – that the past has produced: and they will be able to get the original form that our doctrine theorised.
Lenin, who insuperably put the problem but – being man and mortal – never saw its solution, realised that the German leftists, as they had their flank exposed to doubts towards the party form, so they mistrusted even the state form. They had not understood, as to doctrine, the historical form of dictatorship, that marxism had unhesitatingly enunciated. They erroneously believed that the party was to be dissolved to no longer see traitors, as well as the state, to avoid the famous petty-bourgeois «corrupting temptations of the exercise of power».
Thus, the danger against which Lenin rose up was not the error of tactics, as we will deal with later on, but a fundamental mistake of principle, and therefore a mistake which cannot be put right just by means of party internal organisational measures. In that historical moment it was the matter of taking the «constituent» measures of the new world communist party, where the error can in most cases be avoided by cutting to the quick with the sword, with no fear of the scissions and of the defamed «excommunications», and not by being tempted by an increased membership. Before closing this demonstration, it is worth giving an incomparably vigorous passage of Lenin, from which it may be inferred that the dictatorship must be accepted for a hard and long historical phase, and not for a short moment. It is not an «emergency» measure, as could be named with the present day fashionable slang, but it is the vital part, the oxygen, that keeps our theory and our battle alive.
«to proclaim that in general political parties are unnecessary and ‹bourgeois›…. It all goes to drive home the truth that a minor error can always assume monstrous proportions if it is persisted in, if profound justifications are sought for it, and if it is carried to its logical conclusion.
Repudiation of the Party principle and of Party discipline – that is what the opposition has arrived at. And this is tantamount to completely disarming the proletariat in the interests of the bourgeoisie. It all adds up to that petty-bourgeois diffuseness and instability, that incapacity for sustained effort, unity and organised action, which, if encouraged, must inevitably destroy any proletarian revolutionary movement.» (op. cit., p. 529)
From this point on the passage is so classical, and – such will be the conclusion of the present study – so much in agreement with the theses of the Italian marxist left, such as we maintain them today, Lenin being no more with us, and as we maintained them when he was present and even before the liaison of our movement in Italy with the new International and Lenin (liaison that took place in those very months of 1920, when he in person made arrangements according to which a delegate of the communist abstentionist fraction of the Italian Socialist Party, not included in the «democratically chosen» delegation, was to go to Moscow), that from now on the underlines are ours and not Lenin’s.
«From the standpoint of communism repudiation of the Party principle means attempting to leap from the eve of capitalism’s collapse (in Germany), not to the lower or the intermediate phase of communism, but to the higher. We in Russia (in the third year since the overthrow of the bourgeoisie) are making the first steps in the transition from capitalism to socialism or the lower stage of communism. Classes still remain, and will remain everywhere for years after» (Lenin’s underline) «the proletariat’s conquest of power. Perhaps in Britain, where there is no peasantry (but where petty proprietors exist), this period may be shorter. The abolition of classes means, not merely ousting» (or killing, our note) «the landowners and the capitalists, – that is something we accomplished with comparative ease; it also means» (it is Lenin here who underlines) «abolishing the small commodity producers, and they cannot be ousted, or crushed; we must learn to live with them. They can (and must) be transformed and re-educated only by means of very prolonged, slow, and cautious organisational work. They surround the proletariat on every side with a petty-bourgeois atmosphere, which permeates and corrupts the proletariat, and constantly causes among the proletariat relapses into petty-bourgeoisie spinelessness, disunity, individualism, and alternating moods of exaltation and dejection. The strictest centralisation and discipline are required within the political party of the proletariat in order to counteract this, in order that the organisational role of the proletariat (and that is its principal role) may be exercised correctly, successfully and victoriously.»
(The last underlines, of Lenin, indicate that semi-proletarians may have been of help during the civil war, but afterwards they disorganise and decentralise: we will underline now).
«The dictatorship of the proletariat means a persistent struggle – bloody and bloodless, violent and peaceful, military and economic, educational and administrative – against the forces and traditions of the old society. The force of habit in millions and tens of millions is a most formidable force. Without a party of iron that has been tempered in the struggle, a party enjoying the confidence of all honest people in the class in question,»
(we annotate that as within the masses, even within the class are unhealthy residues, victims of the counter-revolutionary influence; in principle, if they cannot be treated pedagogically, they will be put down with no pietism)
«party capable of watching and influencing the mood of the masses» (not of submitting to it!), «such a struggle cannot be waged successfully.
It is a thousand times easier to vanquish the centralised big bourgeoisie» (read monopolist and fascist) «than to ‹vanquish› the millions upon millions of petty proprietors; however, through their ordinary, everyday, imperceptible, elusive and demoralising activities, they produce the very results which the bourgeoisie needs and which tend to restore» (underlines of Lenin) «the bourgeoisie. Whoever brings about even the slightest weakening of the iron discipline of the party of the proletariat (especially during its dictatorship), is actually aiding the bourgeoisie against the proletariat.» (op. cit., p. 529–30)
With such an explicit and decided formulation Lenin meant to get rid of another silly idea of left-wing communists, who believed the workers’ soviet being a substitute of the communist party to the extent of suggesting to convoke the soviets before the revolutionary struggle. Consequently the institution of a soviet, which is as good as the proletarian dictatorship as the bourgeois do not vote for them, would be entitled to «dissolve the political party». The Italian Left had since 1919 resolutely fought such an antimarxist thesis, that was later condemned at the IInd Congress in the resolution on soviets or factory councils, to which it will be worth going back to.
The press of Stalinist opportunism has recently pointed out that Lenin’s «‹Left-wing› communism» is forty years old. For this mob there’s nothing but ceremonial, and notebooks full of set dates for conventional bowing and scraping, birthdays, name days, and pleasantries of the kind. They are of course interested in «‹Left-wing› communism» for the passages hundreds of times, always cheating, quoted against the Italian Left, although they are for the most part commendatory. But this is the least important point we will deal with, and even with Lenin we were worried about discussing over the international method, and not over the Italian petty province.
It is here important for us to establish that Lenin dealt with contingent or national tactical matters with the sole purpose of making clear points of principle concerning both the constitutional and the historical strategy of the revolutionary communist movement, only caring about the goals of the world revolution and the organisation of the world communist party.
We will show how in this vital work the Italian Left supported him and, better than anyone else, understood him on crucial points. But, for better clarity of our exposition, that cannot be brief, the tactical points at that time commonly ascribed to the Dutch-Germans must be reported, as it has been too convenient to identify their positions with those of the Italians.
The German opposition was founded on two practical points. First of all, it asserted that communists had to abandon the opportunist trade unions, called in that time «reactionary»; and on such an issue there was nothing in common with the Italian communists. Though if in Italy there existed, with an anarchist tendency, those left-wing trade unions that KAPD proposed to create in Germany, we never supported in Italy the split within the trade unions, and worked within the very reformist Confederazione Generale del Lavoro in order to bring down its leaders, in accordance with the accurate tactics that Lenin preferred. Here the tactical solution comes directly from the principles. The revolutionary function is primarily in the party, and not in the trade unions or in the factory councils. The necessity was therefore, and Lenin obviously agreed, that of forming the new communist party by splitting the political party, and not that of boycotting the right-wing trade union or any other trade union; on the contrary, it was then the moment of fighting for the unitary trade union.
But the second mistake of the German left-wingers was the boycott of parliamentary elections. See, the philistines exult, Lenin had to censure both Germans and Italians. But Lenin knew and taught that the positions were different in the two cases
It is not easy for the ordinary nitwit to understand that one thing is denying the primary function of the communist party in the revolutionary insurrection and in the State, and leaving it to other «immediate» proletarian organs, such as trade unions, councils and soviets (such being immediatism, our main enemy), and from such a denial of the political aspect of the struggle to derive also the denial of the parliamentary aspect. It is another to set, in a given historical phase, legalitarian policy against revolutionary policy, a matter we discussed with Lenin without coming to agreement; but we accepted for the sake of discipline his solution.
It will be easy for us to demonstrate, at the end of this study or in the next one, totally devoted to parliamentarism, that in this case we were actually with Lenin as regards the principle, and that the disagreement was a tactical one, while the present-day traitors are, as to the parliamentarism issue, in principle against Lenin and ourselves. As a matter of fact, at the IInd Congress the discussion was on the best way to destroy parliamentarism, and Lenin with the majority upheld that such destruction was to be carried out from the inside of it and not from the outside. We went inside, and not only are parliaments still there, but the clowns who call themselves leninists even swear on their eternity, and are ready to defend them. Following them on this issue, the masses are no less deviated and go to the polls with the socialdemocratic faith that it is a «way to socialism».
In order to show the gap between us and those who quote by taking sentences out of context (who, even for this reason, can only be pupils of Stalinist distorters), we will draw both programme and principle positions from the examination of all parts, in order, of the pamphlet on «‹Left-wing› communism».
We will recall the summary, after giving additional historical details. In the theses of the IInd Congress «On the main tasks of the Communist International», point 18 declares that the conceptions about the relations among party, working class and masses of several movements are inadequate. Such movements are the Communist Workers Party of Germany, part of the Swiss Communist Party, the Hungarian magazine «Kommunismus» (whose beautiful struggle for the Russian revolution could not hide doctrinal errors of the idealist type), the English Socialist Workers Federation, the American IWW (Industrial Workers of the World), the Scottish Shop Stewards (factory committees). It is also true that here are condemned together both trade unions and parliament boycotting, but it means as a matter of fact taking an orthodox marxist stand against what we are still fighting today, even within antistalinist groups, that has the name of «immediatism».
Another point. During a pre-congress meeting in Leningrad it was discussed whether such movements could be admitted to the congress as sections, or just as observers. While surprising even the Russians, the Italian delegate proposed the exclusion of such movements, advancing the argument that it was the congress of a political parties’ International, and that only communist parties could join it. It was later made clear in the «conditions of admission», the famous 21 points.
Shall we then make use of Lenin’s «‹Left-wing› communism»? It is a matter of reading it, and of being able to read it. We have already given an historical outline. The summary is as follows:
1 – In what sense can we speak of the international significance of the Russian revolution.
2 – An essential condition of the Bolsheviks’ success.
3 – The principal stages in the history of Bolshevism.
4 – The struggle against which enemies within the working class movement helped Bolshevism develop, gain strength, and become steeled.
5 – «Left-wing» communism in Germany. The leaders, the party, the class, the masses.
6 – Should the revolutionaries work in reactionary trade unions?
7 – Should we participate in bourgeois parliaments?
8 – No compromises?
9 – «Left-wing» communism in Great Britain.
10 – Several conclusions.
1 – The split among the German communists.
2 – The communists and the independents in Germany.
3 – Turati and Co. in Italy.
4 – False conclusions from correct premises.
We have already mentioned the historical moment when Lenin resolved to write this text, very important for its theses, valid at all times, which is continually outraged nowadays by the official, alleged leninists. We then dwelled upon the subject of section 5, to show which was the main worry of Lenin: the danger of a belittlement of the primary function of the party, as well as the fear of the party dictatorship. A real, classical condemnation of the overworked, immediatist and workerist antipoliticism, always breached by classical marxism.
We will touch on all other topics later on. As to the parliamentarism issue, we will point out that Lenin’s line involves boycott and participation; we will recall the history of the Italian party, and the ridiculous phase of the withdrawal, together with the bourgeois Aventino, wanted by the centrists, while the left, no more at the lead of the party, imposed the return.
We will quote a passage where Lenin shows that perhaps the abstentionists would have been better splitting in Bologna, October 1919, from the overwhelming majority that wanted the elections, with Turati.
As regards to the theory of compromise, we will recall about the refusal of the Brest-Litovsk peace in 1918, while the Italian Left, though unconnected with the Russians, shared Lenin’s position of signing the treaty with the German bandits, and not that of the revolutionary war till extermination.
On the issue of trade unions and factory councils it will be easy to demonstrate that, then and after, the thesis the International was fighting was just that of Gramsci’s ordinovists, whose orthodoxy has always been doubtful.
We acknowledge such a manner of reading Lenin or Marx being laborious. But it is the only one able to defend from the rampant opportunist ruin.
Whoever likes sensational effects, and contents himself with commonplaces and sentences deceitfully taken out, can make himself at home in the cesspool.
See our «Storia della Sinistra Comunista», Milano, Ed. Il Programma Comunista, 1964; particularly the article on p. 342: «The directions of the Russian revolution in a decisive phase», from «Avanti!» of 25. 5. 1918.