The Monster is Capitalism

From Battaglia comunista n.10 October 1996


In the autumn of last year the French press (from the right wing Le Figaro through to the social democratic Rouge ran a series of articles which tried to maintain the lie that the Communist Left had joined in the denial of the Nazi Holocaust. In particular they attacked the Bordigist pamphlet, Auschwitz or the Great Alibi which is published by the Parti Communiste International (Le Proletaire). In solidarity with these comrades we are publishing their leaflet responding to this attack preceded by an article from our Italian comrades of Battaglia Comunista statingly unequivocally our rejection of these lies which are aimed at discrediting the only tradition which is both revolutionary and untainted by either class collaborationism or support (however critical) for Stalinism - the Communist Left. At a time when capitalist hacks are scrambling to proclaim the death of both communism and the working class, and the victory of capitalist democracy, even the small numbers of internationalists which exist around the world pose the only serious opposition to both the illusions of the past and the nightmare of the present. Hence the attempt to discredit us because we refuse to see anything “progressive” in capitalist democracy. These attacks come particularly from French social democrats whose own late leader (Mitterand) was exposed as a collaborator with the pro-Nazi Vichy regime in World War Two. Now that he is dead the capitalist left feel more secure in launching their own anti-fascist campaigns which are designed to realign French bourgeois politics. Whilst fascism does not yet pose the threat to the working class that it did in the Thirties the anti-fascist issue is a strong one around which the left wing of the French bourgeoisie can reconstitute the political support which had evaporated under the fourteen years of Mitterand”s attacks on the working class. The same PCI leaflet was published by other communist organisations (notably the ICC) and the one sad note in this fine example of international solidarity was the failure of Programma Comunista (another Bordigist group) to acknowledge that any other communist groups exist. This was the reason for the denunciation of their attitude in the final paragraph of the BC article.

The monster is capitalism

For several years, a polemic has emerged (or re-emerged) between historians on the subject of so-called “revisionism” or “negationism”. What is it all about? To summarise, what is under discussion is not only the number of Jews who died in Nazi extermination camps, but the very existence of the latter, and especially, the gas chambers. Of course, this polemic goes beyond strictly academic terrain and directly bears upon political judgement of fascism and Nazism. In Germany, as in Italy, those who side with the “revisionist” camp are usually concerned with revaluing Nazi fascism in some way, presenting it as a reaction, perhaps an excessive one, to a far worse danger - represented by Bolshevik Russia. Therefore we have, on the one hand, right-wing historians who try to offer a cultural prop to the new (?) image which the fascist right is trying to give itself; on the other hand, “left” historians who militantly defend the theses of bourgeois antifascism and the just war conducted by the Anglo-Americans and Stalin against the evil powers. But amongst all this babble, what is there to concern us? We are involved because there have been a series of articles directed against the whole Communist Left appearing in Le Monde, 8-6-96 and in Liberation.

21-8-96. In these it was claimed that certain elements of the far-left (ultra gauche) were among the first to defend and develop revisionist or simply negationist theses, starting from the presupposition that Nazism had as its fundamental aim

not the extermination of the Jewish people, but the destruction of the workers' movement and the subordination of the working class to the framework of the Nation.

quoted in Liberation 21-8-96

Nothing scandalous so far, we accept this accusation without argument; for us it goes without saying that fascism and Nazism arose as a reaction of certain national capitals with more difficulties than previously in confronting a working class embarking on (or already on) the revolutionary path, and a very profound economic crisis. On the other hand, regarding the rest of the theories of intellectuals who have dealt with the Communist Left, we have no direct knowledge of their writings, and therefore we cannot pass judgement, but, in any case, they do not concern us and are of little interest to us.

We know that the intellectual has an absolute need to attract attention at the cost of notoriety, to which it could be added that “revisionism” is one of the ways to do so. But, we repeat, this has nothing to do with those who seriously work for communism. On the other hand, what we cannot accept, what we consider to be an absolute calumny, is to position, as does Liberation, Amadeo Bordiga amongst the founders of revisionist theory. How does the French daily come to this conclusion? From the fact that Bordiga might have been “the inspiration” for a text appearing in Communist Programme No 11-1960, entitled “Auschwitz or the Great Alibi”. An aside: how tiny is bourgeois intelligence, they cannot conceive any relations other than those of subordination and intrigue, never free and equal relations. To come back to ourselves, if only the critic of the article had taken the trouble to read the condemned text, he would be aware that in no way were the genocide or the gas chambers denied, but on the contrary, these horrors are explained in the light of Marxist method which - in its general feature - is the common patrimony of all the Communist Left, of the organisational groups into which it is fragmented. But for the bourgeoisie, independently of the crass ignorance in which the editors of their newspapers frequently wallow, the truth is useless and unwanted.

The bourgeoisie's interest is to cover their most consistent enemies in filth and lies, although today they may be a tiny minority, far from being able to make their voice heard by the general public, and, above all, by the proletariat.

Nazism has caused millions of deaths - So have its opponents

Now we must make some points to re-establish clarity. The Communist Left has never denied the existence of Nazi extermination camps, in which our comrades also wasted away.

As was said above, it has always searched for an answer to this monstrous tragedy not in the supposed evil of a people - the Germans or, even worse, in the madness of one man, as so much second hand historic and political literature would like to have us believe. On the contrary, it has looked to the very logic of capitalism, which was born with violence, which needs violence, wholesale or retail, in order to stay alive, that is, to exploit and oppress. If anti-Semitism had taken on unheard of dimensions thanks to the German bourgeoisie, rather than the Polish bourgeoisie, from a no less radical anti-Semitic tradition, that is explained by the higher level of development of German capital in comparison with that of Poland. But to uncover the historic reasons which compelled German Imperialism to formally commence World War II with the consequence of massacres on an industrial scale (this is said without irony) does not in fact mean any lessening of capitalism's responsibility, neither does it absolve the other imperialist front - Stalinist Russia and Western “democracy” - equally responsible for the global butchery. If the Allies have done well out of presenting themselves as innocent victims of the malevolence of others, it is only because the “great democracies” had sidelined the question of the crisis of the 30's which was relatively worse for German and Japanese capital, (and for tattered, Italian capital). The German bourgeoisie, however, only detonated the powder keg accumulated by the entire bourgeoisie without exception, that is, of capitalism as a whole. In other words, the Leninist principle was and is still valid: in the imperialist epoch, wars are only waged to redefine the relations of force between bourgeoisies in ferocious competition between themselves, and that, in the end, only the proletariat pays, if it does not carry out its struggle to the death against all the imperialist bandits.

If, therefore we have always denounced the Partisan war as a tragic transfusion of proletarian blood to the enemy, “democratic” though it may have been, it was not through any goodwill (if one can put it in this way) towards Nazi fascism.

In spite of the calumnies vomited on us at the present time by the Stalinist PCI (see Battaglia Comunista No. 7/9) the path pointed out by our comrades to the working class was not one of a passive and inert equidistance between the two warring sides, but the Leninist position of revolutionary class struggle against any bourgeois deployment. To accuse us, as did the PCI of being agents of the Gestapo was not only simply false, even if it had to serve to justify the murder of our militants, but tragically ridiculous.

Firstly, hardly had the PCd'I emerged - thanks to the work of the Left - it fought the most decisively and consistently of all against fascism, when the bourgeois state protected and reinforced it, while the social democracy launched pathetic and useless appeals to the law (bourgeois), or lowered itself in search of so many equally useless, cowardly pacts with the anti-proletarian squads.

We, on the other hand, were never taken in by the great lie of bourgeois democracy, because we know very well that fascism and democracy are the two arms at capital's disposal to safeguard its class domination. If fascism is the proletariat's hangman, it is still democracy and, to be precise, social democracy which hands the proletariat over, bound hand and foot. In fact, from a certain point of view, Nazism at least had the “honesty” not to hide behind the disgusting hypocrisy of “democracy”. The Nazis have always openly shown their hatred towards the Jews, and their actions, however terrible, were consistent with their declarations. The Allies, on the other hand, did not lift a finger to save at least part of the Jewish people from genocide, both before and during the war. They knew about Auschwitz, knew in detail where the gas chambers and railway lines which ran to the crematorial ovens were, but even though being able to do so, never attempted to bomb them (from R Hilberg, The Destruction of the Jews of Europe, Einaudi, pp.835-837). It might seem a paradox, but even the SS believed in the cynical propaganda of the enemy-power regarding democracy - so much so that they proposed to the Anglo-Americans the exchange of a million Jews for 10 000 motor-vehicles (or essential goods), to use, they specified, only against the Russians, but the great democracies did not know what they could do with a million exiles, and declined the offer (Hilberg, op.cit p.1214. The same is said in “Auschwitz...”). Brazenly they try to palm off Nazism as unique and the most responsible for crimes against humanity, when to cite only some examples, France and England built their empires by violating the peoples of half the world, whilst the USA became “the greatest democracy in the world” by carrying out the first genocide of the capitalist era. To be sure, the modern and efficient technology of the Nazi extermination machine might be more startling than the blankets infected by smallpox distributed “by trade” to the Indians or the massacre of bison to cause them to die of hunger. Perhaps the long, terrible months of annihilation through labour - a radical solution to labour costs... - which came before extermination in the gas chambers of Auschwitz or Mathausen, are more startling than the 48 hours devoted by the Anglo-Americans to the bombardment of Dresden or the flash over Hiroshima, but the substance is the same.

Capitalism had to destroy people and materials in unprecedented quantities to escape the extreme crisis into which it had been thrust since 1929. At the same time it had to avert at all costs the danger of a communist revolution: the threat of another October 1917 was ever-present. The Nazi terror, the Stalinist purges, the bombardment of the ordinary, workers' districts of Hamburg, Berlin etc., military occupation, together with the incessant propaganda of the Stalinist “communist” parties in favour of the national patriotic war, finally achieved their purpose. Our comrades, in the midst of incredible difficulties and sacrifices denounced the sham of bourgeois antifascist mobilisation, proclaiming the only antifascism possible, the anticapitalist fight, they were treated, as was said previously, as agents of the Gestapo, hunted down by both sides.

It does not surprise us very much that after fifty years, a “left-wing” newspaper like Liberation should dustdown an old calumny and see a collusion between the extreme left (that is the Communist Left) and the fascist right. Because of our tiny size, we do not present a threat today, therefore the bourgeoisie is happy to denigrate us with their overpowering media, this is a normal state of affairs. What is not normal is the sectarianism and somewhat arrogant exclusiveness of certain comrades who, each in their own little circle, are certain of incarnating the holy word of the late Bordiga, pretending to be unique in the world, in an infantile way refusing even to name the other internationalist groups. We are convinced that this incredible attitude objectively weakens revolutionaries; today against the lies, tomorrow against the guns of the bourgeoisie.

Don't you think so?

Celso B.