Our Intervention Within the Working Class

The article which follows is a summary of a recent longer document issued by the Executive Committee of Battaglia Comunista as a starting point for an internal training programme regarding this basic theme.

Established Points

1. An essential point of our political/tactical line is the distinction between organs of class struggle and Party bodies. This distinction is related to the political conception that we have of the relationship between communists and the class as a whole, a consequence of the Marxist analysis of the materialist origin of consciousness.

2. The struggle organs of the class are generated by the class itself regardless of the presence of communists and have as their starting point the break with institutional and institutionalised organisations (trade unions). These organs are related to immediate disputes and thus – like them – are of limited duration.

These bodies are shaped without the presence of communists because their birth is stimulated by a level of consciousness that matures spontaneously, that is, in the absence of a revolutionary method of analysis of society. There is no need for a revolutionary analysis and a communist program to develop a level of consciousness focused on the economic struggle/demands, there is no need then – necessarily – for the presence of revolutionaries for the class to create their own organisations of economic struggle; obviously the presence of revolutionaries (but not infrequently, even simply politicised elements) can assist any possible workers’ reaction and promote rank and file organisation.

3. Organs of class struggle can take many forms and perform different functions, thus expressing varying levels of organisation and class consciousness. They are what, in our documents, we call strike committees, assemblies, coordinations.

They can be simple agitation committees, consisting of a limited number of workers with the aim of promoting a strike or other forms of struggle among their colleagues.

They may take the form of struggle committees/assemblies, large organs formed by workers in a factory or other place of work, with the function of carrying out a strike, a struggle activity. These assemblies can also elect delegates to carry out various functions, primarily to unify the struggle of other sections, companies, different sectors of the workforce; we always say that delegates should be revocable and that delegates must serve the assemblies.

Regardless of what they are called, all these are instances of organisations related to disputes, different organisational forms of the class, demonstrated to us by the class itself in its own experience of struggle.

4. The fact that autonomous forms of organisation of struggles arise even without the presence of communists does not mean that revolutionaries must refrain from actively intervening – so in practical/organisational terms – it means that we must participate, always keeping in mind that the primary aim of the communists is not just the "success" of the immediate struggle, as much as establishing the roots of consciousness and the revolutionary organisation of the class. We must act in the fight (supporting it of course...) with the aim of politically stimulating the proletarians involved by agitating for the goal of socialism.

For us, there is no task of agitation, organisation, intervention in the economic/demand struggle detached from political work. We never act with the sole objective of instigating or supporting struggles but we try to be an active part in the struggle with the aim of being able to develop political work at the same time (never later).

5. From the practical point of view this means that we – as organised political activists – provide ourselves with instruments for intervention, and whilst we participate (contribute, support, promote) in class struggle organs, we do not give up our organisational independence and our political clarity under any circumstances. Our political instruments are our individual militants, sections, and political bodies designed for intervention in the working environment; the GIFT (Internationalist Factory and Territorial Groups).(1) The GIFT consist of party militants and sympathisers that work with us (in the workplace or in the territory) on the specific ground of political internationalism among workers.

The militants, sections, GIFT, get involved in struggles, stimulate them, are active in committees of class struggle, promote them too, but do not convert themselves into such committees.

Example: 10 militant workers or close internationalist sympathisers do not create a struggle committee or any other body of self-organisation for the fight/strike but form a political body, the Internationalist Factory Group. This political body operating on the terrain of the dispute, strike, or struggle, thus promotes autonomous organs of struggles and when they appear – on the basis of a genuine commitment/involvement of other workers – the 10 militants internationalists will be an active element of them (maybe the most active), but always taking into account their own political function.

So the GIFT – or a party section – develop the work of agitation and promotion of the struggle as they actively participate in the bodies of the class, but they carry out this work of agitation and organisation without ever separating it from political work, trying to use every situation to establish what the workers cannot achieve spontaneously: consciousness and the revolutionary program.

6. Another fundamental point: realism. In the definition of our work of intervention, and the tools we use, we cannot but take into account what our strengths are and what is the historical period in which we work. We must define practical and political objectives according to concrete living reality.

Our immediate goal today is not, of course, to win the leadership of the class to push for the dictatorship of the proletariat. The goals that we can now realistically set when we act among workers – beyond of course promoting and supporting their struggles – are:

  • experience (certainly not a secondary consideration);
  • to politically depict ourselves as an organization which has the working class and its struggles at heart;
  • to involve contacts and supporters, to bring them closer to our work;
  • to nourish sections with new militants and sympathisers;
  • when it really is possible, to start work that will lead to the construction of internationalist groups (GIFT) in the workplace or in the community;
  • to begin to root in the working class the consciousness of the need for communist revolution.

What to Do in Practice

7. First of all, as far as we can, we must really act among workers, as a political party, with the tools we have today. Without having a real experience of intervention among workers we run the risk of formulating tactics in the abstract.

We must not simply ask the question: how to intervene? Rather: how to intervene in this labour dispute that we are following? Thus we are thinking concretely.

The starting point must always plan for a minimal activity with our tools (sections, militants, GIFT) and then reason accordingly.

8. Possible activities:

  • To keep ourselves informed about local disputes;
  • Locally, you have to choose your field of work to follow, according to your ability. You may decide to intervene in the most interesting area or simply you can opt for a workplace because it is nearer to home or because the workers leave the gates at a time compatible with your own personal availability. Or, if you do not have the possibility to intervene at a workplace, you can consider a locality, for example distributing our leaflets outside the station or the metro, when workers are passing.

9. How do we get our intervention started, how do we approach and involve workers?

  • Intervene by handing out material we have produced, attracting the more interested workers. The first job when we intervene in a dispute, or a workplace in general, is inevitably the dissemination of leaflets. It is important to consider what goes into them, we must attract workers starting from their specific conditions and give concrete advice on struggle. Then from these starting conditions attempt to introduce – even if inevitably in a general way to start with – political considerations, even if starting from just the minimum.
  • Public meetings. To publicise disputes in which we have intervened. It can be a first way to try to get something going, an attempt to involve workers, inviting them to talk about what has happened to the assembly, to participate.
  • To help workers in organs they have set up, to promote their development, in and outside our workplace. Being active – as communist workers – in these organisations, giving our recommendations on tactics to be adopted for immediate disputes and always carrying forward our general political struggle.
  • Contribute to the development and distribution of agitational material produced by these class organisations, knowing how to distribute/create material linked to specific disputes. Fight within the class organs so that reformist, trade unionist and apolitical perspectives are excluded from this material. We must be aware that in fact even within real class organisations there will be politicised elements opposed to us. At the same time we have to try to introduce our political perspectives. Fight and then evaluate: distribute the material produced by these organs even if limited to the defence struggle, but refuse to do so if they include reformist political lines, promoting trade union or anti-political perspectives, obviously explaining the reason for our qualms and participating in any activities with our own material.

Battaglia Comunista (16 August 2012)

(1) We use the Italian acronym as it has a fortuitous sound in English but we, and our Italian comrades, have long recognised that it makes more sense to talk these days of “workplace” (as it does later in the text) rather than “factory” groups (CWO).

Wednesday, September 12, 2012