The Pandemic and the Worsening Crisis: Some Reflections on the Consequences and Perspectives

This short reflection is a synthesis of ideas common to various comrades, from different areas, with whom we frequently discuss. In fact, some of the considerations here are now becoming an integral and shared perspective beyond that of any one organisation. This gives us hope that in the near future the most politically aware elements will recognise that we are all travelling in the same direction. For a long time now we have not simply limited ourselves to hoping, but rather have undertaken a complex, slow but fruitful and concrete path of political discussion over what, in our opinion, are the indispensable cornerstones of the political platform for the future revolutionary party.(1)

The scenarios that open up in the face of this crisis, or rather the latest aggravation of the pre-existing situation of profound economic (but also social and political) crisis that has already been underway for decades, are manifold. This is clear. However – and it is useful to reflect on this – these scenarios all revolve around what the bourgeoisie's response to the crisis will be.

The bourgeoisie is not unfamiliar with having to manage crises due to the absence of valorisation and the consequent slowdown in production, and the current situation sparked by the pandemic fits precisely into an already gloomy economic context. Indeed, we could argue that from birth, with the exception of short periods, capital has lived with these conditions. This crisis will also translate, in fact, into an accelerated process of capitalist concentration, "aided" by the force of an external element (the virulent pandemic). And this will be an advantage from the point of view of the survival of the system itself, which is dragging itself more and more ferociously into its umpteenth structural crisis, whilst preparing to leave many corpses, even among the bourgeoisie themselves, lying around.

What is really new, in our view, is the clearest recognition of the importance (economic and political) of the physical work of producing surplus value. For Marxists of various shades this is obvious, but not so for the mass of proletarians who live in this exploited position, accepting the ideology that underpins it and justifies it, making it seem "inevitable" if not "natural" in their eyes.

The working class is not new to these situations either, but not as the managers of the crisis, or of the system which enslaves them, but rather in terms of its drastic outcome, whose price it will once again be called upon to pay. And that price will be very high indeed, not just in terms of a barbaric and tragic worsening of living and working conditions, but also in the slaughter of approaching imperialist war, which is the ultimate “solution” to the aggravation of the capitalist crisis.

The great concentrations of workers worldwide, the enormous speed by which information, exchange and commodities flow means that – as we have always said – this social system offers the possibility of being transformed onto a higher social level (a communist economy and society). But this can only be brought about by demolishing the current mode of production and its repressive political-administrative and military superstructures.

So we have both the "objective conditions" and the inspiration. What is missing is the class party, that is the "subjective" condition: the party made of flesh, legs and brain, which works actively in the class; which, although a minority, is an element of clarity, a clarity supported and nourished by a historical analysis, a programme, a strategy and a clear platform. In short, what is missing is the political expression of class struggle, which no revolutionary process can do without.

This emergency will come to an end, but crisis after crisis, emergency after emergency, we will have to take every opportunity to strengthen and implant the party or, rather, its embryos, in the class, in order to be able to create a political driving force in the future revolutionary process of social transformation.

The objective conditions are present in the very contradictions of capital. However, the ruling class has its own solutions to these problems. The bourgeoisie will never meekly accept its own disappearance. This makes it necessary for the class party to exist on an international scale. Even as a tiny minority it has to act now, in both theory and practice, to make every phase of the historical path to revolution clear. If it is to be an active agent in the revolutionary process it cannot operate in the ivory towers of abstract knowledge, since a party is made up of flesh and blood, men and women, with all the contradictions present in real life, and not something outside the real world, as some metaphysical visionaries of the party liked (and still like) to support.(2)

Unfortunately there are no shortcuts to a new society arising from the ashes of decadent capitalism. We are well aware that the communists today are just a drop in a stormy ocean. But we really believe that there is no alternative to the work of building and forming the future political vanguard of the class organised in the international party of the proletariat.

It's a huge task, we know. This is why we have no intention of backing off. Will the fruits of this only be reaped by future generations? Highly likely, of course, but even this cannot exempt us from our present responsibility, let alone justify us in having a wait-and-see attitude or, at the other extreme, push us towards a naive and spontaneous activism.(3) All of us can and must – each within their own limits, with their own abilities and possibilities, in the small and large contexts in which we are given the opportunity to intervene and operate – make our contribution by creating the conditions for forming those organised political vanguards which can one day lead the explosions of the struggles that will come. By doing so they will become stronger and more deeply rooted in the class, pointing towards the only possible horizon which for the communists is, and remains, the social revolution for communist society. The real communist one, that is ...

Sunday, April 5, 2020


(1) Our most recent (but certainly not the only) contribution in this direction is the Political Platform of the ICT (Internationalist Communist Tendency), drawn up at the conclusion of a wide discussion within our international organisation. On our website at this address:

(2) For non-Italian readers this is a reference to the various strands of the Bordigist current. Critiques of them are found in footnote 3.

(3) Modes of inaction or action, both devoid of political-revolutionary realism, intelligence and concreteness, and in some ways merely self-consoling and completely ineffective. We have repeatedly addressed and deepened this crucial issue. For those wishing to learn more, we suggest from our English website: Bordiga: Beyond the Myth and The Party Question. For those who read Italian: Il dualismo di sempre: o il nulla da fare, o l'attivismo più sfrenato and Proletari senza rivoluzione o l'eterna infanzia dell'avanguardia.

Friday, April 17, 2020


Translation of Il dualismo di sempre: o il nulla da fare, o l'attivismo più sfrenato

The usual dualism: either nothing to do, or the wildest activism

We publish excerpts from an article that appeared in Battaglia Comunista, n. 18-1982, which summarise in a "didactic" way what we think of the relationship between party and class, starting from the intervention of the revolutionary vanguard in the "economic" struggles of the wage-earning class. For those who know us, they are not novelties, just as it is not a novelty that the reference to Leninism contained in the text does not mean that we embrace all the positions taken by that great revolutionary who was Lenin.

In the history of the workers 'movement, in times gone by as in the present day, especially in the moments of stagnation of workers' struggles, when the economic and political domination of the bourgeoisie does not allow expressions, unless limited and episodic, of working class surges, very often the vanguard interpreted the "meaning" of the movement not only in different ways, but even in extreme ways: either nothing to do or the wildest activism.

In the first case, the way to face the class, its problems and needs, even if unexpressed or only partially mentioned, was indifferentism. In the second, the necessary but irrepressible political vanguard activity, even if placed within a framework of very weak class struggle, turned into an all the more frenetic activism, the more unassailable the external situation appeared.

In the indifferentist attitude, by deriving in all respects the tasks of the revolutionaries from the momentary external situation and coming to the conclusion that "outside" there was nothing to do, the tasks of a vanguard had to be limited to the custody of the principles, to the most absolute respect for invariance, to the theoretical elaboration of the most important political and economic problems, to the construction of future cadres, without bringing any of this to the outside world, not only because it is deemed futile, but because it is even harmful to the organisation and its militants.

Receiving from the outside world, elaborating political work, without propagating the result, was the condition through which the party's purity avoided any form of opportunism.

The corollaries of this attitude could only be sectarianism, the most obtuse invariantism, the metaphysical conception of a pure, infallible party, also because it was not intended as a political instrument of class struggle, a reflection and condition of the contradictory movement of the class, but as the result of a laboratory process of investigation of social events whose contingent aspect was photographed in the negative and development was left for a better time.

Apart from issues regarding the question of method, one of the most serious consequences of the “waiting” thesis, is that of having distorted the role and function of the party in the face of a false interpretation of the class struggle and of the modalities of its expression.

Revolutionaries are not given the task of choosing the when, but only how to intervene in the situation. The party, or the political vanguard of the class, when it has the opportunity to express itself, does not choose when to intervene in the class, much less refuses to do so, but will adapt the modalities of its intervention, the tactical aspect, in accordance with its internal forces and the external situation, on the basis of an inevitable set of conditions that it can influence, but from which it cannot escape, under penalty of losing its role as a political vanguard.

The "nothing to do", and its wait-and-see appendix, once theorised and codified, as approaches of the vanguards towards the class struggle, gave birth to political "tendencies" which still today are trending in the revolutionary "milieu".

One of which attributes to the revolutionary vanguards the task of organising themselves in Fractions and not in parties, that is to study, elaborate, indicate, but not to enter into the heart of the class struggle.

A second, which is the legitimate offspring of the former, foresees the necessity of the party and its political role only in historical moments when the level of the class struggle, autonomously, sets the effective conditions for taking power.

Finally, a third that, while admitting the necessity of the existence of the party even in the historical counter-revolutionary phases, limits its role to a mere spectator of events, to a more or less qualified commentator on the political reality that surrounds it.

The activist trend, however, has always been much more hasty. It never elaborated the distinguishing features in the debate about what sort of an organisation the vanguard must create, but only on its role.

While admitting that the external factor is a given with which, willingly or unwillingly, we have to

reckon, the voluntarist aspect of the activist attitude ends up wanting to change, without succeeding, the mechanisms that underlie the preservation of the lack of development of the relationship between party and class.

In other words, activist voluntarism, believing that it identifies in the static nature of the vanguard

the primary cause of all the internal (organisational) and external (slight or non-existent ties with the working class) dysfunctions, throws itself into every situation, chasing any episode, making the opposite mistake: that of being sucked into the situation and getting caught up in contingent aspects.

Workerism, spontaneism, economism, in one word opportunism, are the most immediate dangers that the voluntarist tendency risks when it takes the opposite path to that of waiting.

In both cases, we are in the presence of theoretical elaborations and political practices, which, each in its own way, cannot represent a response to the problem of intervention, tactics, the correct relationship between party and class, regardless of the intensity of the expression of the class struggle itself.


If the class struggle had the ability to express itself independently, even if through the purifying crucible of partial defeats and retreats, with communist objectives, there would be no need for the party, there would be no need for the class vanguard, a point of political reference that can compose solutions that go beyond immediate demands. If this were the case, the only task of the revolutionaries would be to dissolve in the movement, being careful to remain attached to it, individually contributing to ensuring that the aims contained in it are not diluted and

downgraded along the way.

For us Leninists, it is an irrefutable fact that the events of the class struggle do not present themselves according to this scheme. The active presence of the class party, far from assuming one of the two previously defined attitudes, ( in the first case reduced to a sort of wait-and-see destined to be overcome and overwhelmed by events and, in the second, to be an irrelevant and undifferentiated component of the ongoing process), has the sole purpose of making the component elements of the class struggle mature towards the communist objectives that they are not and cannot be.

In any case and from any latitude, the expression of the class struggle inevitably brings with it the

qualms and legacies of the economic and social situations that produced it. "Pure" movements exist neither at the beginning nor at the end of a class movement, much less so given the absence of the class party.


Once again, the correct dialectical relationship between the party's work, its ability to intervene

with respect to the limits, and the spontaneous and, at times, chaotic, contradictory and in any case never pure movement of the class based on economic and political circumstances - that the class itself has not chosen, but confront it as the first obstacles to its incipient manifestation – place it

neither in the movement as such nor outside it.

The role of the party lies precisely in this: interpreting the start point of situations, identifying

their limits, overcoming them with a tactic that takes into account means and timescales; ensuring that the expression of the class struggle is not held back or, worse still, does not collapse on the economic terrain that determined it or extinguish itself behind false political goals.


the task of revolutionaries is not to (...) limit themselves to the demand level of the union struggle, but to start from that base to raise the level of the class struggle towards higher objectives, being very careful not to incur the waiting error for fear of getting their hands dirty, or to commit the activist error of flinging themselves into the "concrete" without being able to get out.


the priority task of a communist party is not so much that of seeking new areas and horizons to its

commitment to struggle, practical economic terrains alongside practical terrains of general political intonation, but it is to give a political sense to the struggle for demands (...) . It is evident that the fields of struggle must be sought, that all possible efforts must be made for their expansion and organisation, but it is equally evident that if this limit is not exceeded by effective political propaganda, we can organise and expand all the struggles in the world, but will have contributed nothing to the maturation of the working class in a revolutionary sense.

What has always distinguished the communists from all radical-bourgeois forces, yesterday as today, is not their propensity for struggle (this should be taken for granted), but their political contribution, without which any expression of social revolt would end up hopelessly defeated.


Friday, January 1, 1982