The September 2018 edition of Revolution or War opens with a piece by Robin on the new efforts at regroupment surrounding the journal Intransigence.1 Framed as a review of the second issue, the article proceeds to summarize its contents and then discuss the prospects for groups inspired by the traditions of the communist left. Although broadly appreciative of the project’s goals, objections are raised about Intransigence’s editorial line and overall methodology.
In responding to this piece, we hope to accomplish several things at once. First of all, to clarify to ourselves and others where we situate ourselves historically. We can then show how this self-understanding informs our stance on questions of party, program, and class. Second, to extend the spirit of open engagement evinced by the article in Revolution or War. Of course, we will be frank about points of disagreement, but not in order to create scandal or polemic. Last but not least, we would like to use this as an opportunity to invite other groups to join in the regroupment effort, if they consider it, as we do, to be a worthwhile cause.
A couple caveats should be made right off the bat. Prometeo does not speak for Intransigence as a whole, nor for any of the groups involved. Indeed, as of writing, we are not among the four official member organizations. Nevertheless, we feel as though we might hazard a response, as an exercise in clarity and group cohesion.
Of publishing and political principles
To begin then with some common ground, the critique first acknowledges that “the basic positions of the journal [i.e., Intransigence’s statement of principles] are typical of the communist left.” But the author hastens to add that these positions are “too summary,” by which we take him to mean they are stated without enough elaboration. If the phrasing of these principles is somewhat terse, this is deliberate. For us, this is in fact the source of their strength — they are blunt, stripped-down, and concise. Subsequent pieces published in Intransigence can argue these points at greater length or in added detail. What they aim to provide is a general orientation, rather than a comprehensive program, a shared framework by which to gain our bearings.
However, the author’s complaint about the lack of a properly political statement in our principles is well-taken. As things stand, he observes, “there is no mention of the dictatorship of the proletariat or destruction of the bourgeois state.”2 Indeed, this is a significant oversight on our part, not just concerning proletarian rule in the distant future but also the present day-to-day reality of bourgeois rule here and now. Midterm elections are coming up here in the United States, so we should look to be one hundred percent clear about our deprecatory attitude toward electoralism and representative politics more broadly. Generally speaking, it would help to have a better sense of how we relate to the state as such so we can orient ourselves toward it moving forward. Our seventh principle already makes it known that we see a revolutionary party as necessary for the political victory of the proletariat, “the nerve center of the class,” so we should simply draft another.
Concerning the need for “discriminating criteria” in terms of what we publish, a few words may be spared. Robin takes exception to the Kontra Klasa contribution in № 2 of Intransigence: that is, their speculative “Notes on the Transition to Communism.” We find it fairly odd that he characterizes this text as somehow sympathetic to communization theory, given its talk of a “communist dictatorship” and imposition of a compulsory labor service.3 Usually communisateurs recoil in horror from any mention of the state, much less schemes which propose labor obligations. Quite understandably, on this second score especially. Kontra Klasa’s brief gesture of sympathy with the communizers comes only at the outset, having more to do with their attempt to address the problem of transition or “communism in the present tense” than with their proposed solution.
Even then, we are not entirely averse to the idea of publishing pieces by communization theorists — such as there remain, of course, now being somewhat passé. So long as a text covers a theme germane to the interests of regroupment, and does not conflict with our statement of principles, we will be happy to take a look at it. Dispute and disagreement within principled bounds is welcome. Our third issue features a critical reply to our aforementioned Croatian comrades Kontra Klasa by the Brazilian anarchist collective Humanaesfera.4 Hopefully this will compensate for the “major weakness” identified by Revolution or War in the second issue of Intransigence, namely that “there is no debate or confrontation in the various texts.”5 Perhaps this comment was just due to a limited sample size, justifiable insofar as only two issues had been released when Robin wrote this overview. In future issues, we intend to continue this same forthright exchange of views. For example, some hope to respond to Nuevo Curso’s long series of articles on “proletarian morality.” Nuevo Curso wrote a reply to Emanuel Santos’ piece from the first issue of Intransigence,6 translated and included in the third.7
Before moving on to our more serious differences, we might address briefly one final point. This has to do with Intransigence’s commitment to internationalist principles, which seems at first glance to run contrary to the specification of “North America” in its masthead. In fact, this came up before in its internal discussions several times. Each time, the rationale offered in defense of the title was that people find ourselves where they are. Although they aspire to forge more ties abroad (hence constituting themselves on not just a continental, but an international scale), the groups currently participating in regroupment are from Canada and the US. Maybe this matter will be revisited if things go as planned and more groups sign on. Keep your fingers crossed.
Later on, the author asks: “Why not use Intransigence as a tool to debate and discuss, and thus begin the process of ‘homogenization’ around one current or another of the communist left?” Revolution or War is a biannual publication put out by the International Group of the Communist Left, so Robin presumably has the IGCL in mind: “Between the current period and the October Revolution, there was a break marked by the darkest counter-revolution. Only a few small communist nuclei managed to maintain themselves, thus ensuring a certain political and programmatic continuity until today.” Near the end, the author suggests the groups involved in Intransigence immediately embark on “a process of homogeneity and unity around the communist program.”8 Yet again, one wonders which particular program Robin might prefer: a minimum/maximum program (Kautsky), a transitional program (Trotsky), or the invariant program (Bordiga)? If not the IGCL’s, that is.
Min/max programs have enjoyed more attention of late, thanks in part to the work of “neo-Kautskyites” like the Canadian opera scholar Lars Lih9 and Mike Macnair, an Oxford don.10 The concept of a minimum program was already fairly widespread in the 1870s, when Marx took it up in drafting a preamble to Jules Guesde’s Parti Ouvrier platform. “Adopting as the object of their efforts in the economic sphere the return of all means of production to collective ownership,” Marx maintained, “the French workers have decided, as a means of organization and struggle, to take part in elections with the following minimum program.”11 However, Marx was by no means pleased with the result,12 even if he begrudgingly added his signature to it.13 By 1882, Engels was worried others within the party had outdone the radicalism of the programme minimum, writing to Marx of his concerns.14 Still, the rationale behind it was straightforward: these were the reforms that could be won within the framework of the existing state, absent a total revolution. Karl Kautsky therefore enshrined this minimal set of demands in the founding document of the Second International, ratified at the 1891 Erfurt Congress.
Doubts started to surface about the viability of the minimum program during the war. Some felt it had led the parties of the international social democracy to act complacently in the face of mounting nationalist fervor, adapting themselves over the decades to parliamentary rule. Nikolai Bukharin and Vladimir Smirnov questioned whether the minimum program was at all applicable to the age of imperialism. While Lenin pushed back against this suggestion, upholding it so long as the Bolsheviks did not hold power,15 the seizure of the Winter Palace two weeks later obviated the issue. At the second congress of the Comintern in 1920, the following thesis drafted by Trotsky was adopted:
Capitalism, and along with it the parliamentary states, acquired protracted stability thanks to a long period of uninterrupted growth in productivity. This resulted in socialist parties’ adapting their tactics to “organic” legislative work inside bourgeois parliaments, within the capitalist framework. It led to the reign of social-democracy’s so-called “minimum program” and the transformation of the maximum program into a mere debating formula for an exceedingly distant “ultimate goal.” On this foundation evolved the phenomena of parliamentary careerism, corruption, and either open or concealed betrayal of the elementary interests of the working class.16
Rosa Luxemburg had declared two years prior that German communism stood on the same ground as Marx in 1848.17 “Until the collapse on August 4, 1914, the SPD stood upon the Erfurt Program, by which the so-called immediate minimal aims were prioritized, placed at the forefront,” she explained. “Socialism was no more than a distant guiding star, or the ultimate goal.”18 Luxemburg deliberately opposed the min/max division of Erfurt: “For us there is no minimal and no maximal program; socialism is one and the same thing, this is the minimum that we have to realize today.”19
Generally speaking, the communist left unanimously rejected the old minimum program. Karl Radek offered a succinct formula for communism’s programmatic disposition in “the epoch of capitalist collapse and decay”: “Today centrists go back to the social-democratic minimum program for reforming capitalism, which has been transformed into an obvious counterrevolutionary fraud. Communist parties do not advance a minimum program designed to reinforce and improve the rickety structure of capitalism… Instead, the destruction of this structure remains both the guiding goal and the immediate task.”20 During the interwar period, then, transitional programs were the order of the day, much as min/max programs had been during the prewar period. Ninety years from Marx and Engels’ Manifesto, Trotsky reflected that “the ten demands of the Manifesto, which appeared ‘archaic’ in an epoch of peaceful parliamentary activity, have now completely regained their true significance. By contrast, in a revolutionary epoch such as the present, the social-democratic ‘minimum program’ is what today seems to be hopelessly antiquated.”21
Trotsky relied on this argument, along with various resolutions adopted by the Comintern at the third and fourth congresses. “Following the model of the Russian Bolsheviks in 1917, the Communist International explicitly rejected the social-democratic approach of confining its day-to-day propaganda activities to a ‘minimum program’ of immediate reforms attainable within the framework of capitalism.”22 Rather than limit itself to demands compatible with capitalist society, the Trotskyist Fourth International would pose transitional demands in excess of the state’s capacity to fulfill them.23 Strategic demands of this kind had already been posed by workers in Germany during the revolutionary sequence of 1917-1923. Pierre Broué, an historian and follower of Trotsky, saw this as a definite improvement over tactical demands of the SPD type.24 “The struggle to organize a united front of the workers, communist and noncommunist alike, in Germany, led to the appearance, first in the debates of the International and then in its program, of ideas about transitional slogans and demands, the purpose of which was to fill the place left empty in communist theory by the collapse of the separation between ‘maximum’ and ‘minimum’ programs that went back to the 1891 Erfurt congress,” commented Broué.25
Amadeo Bordiga likewise did away with the min/max dichotomy. “We owe to him the reversal of the social-democratic political tradition where the minimum program (a tactic) was everything while the maximum program (the strategy) was nothing,” wrote Bordiga’s comrade Onorato Damen, “reduced to a ritual enunciation of the hypothetical conquest of power by the working class via evolutionary laws.”26 Like Trotsky, Bordiga saw the present moment as a return to the logic of Marx in 1848, with only cosmetic changes to the wording of the demands. Unlike Trotsky, however, Bordiga did not see these as being posed to the existing authorities. Instead, they would be “measures… taken immediately after the seizure of power in a country of the capitalist West.”27 Bordiga had no confidence in the ability of “democratic and progressive” governments to grant the reforms that would be necessary. Or if they did manage to grant any of these reforms, this only served to make the transition away from capitalism easier.
Hoping to combat a new wave of revisionism in the postwar period, Bordiga defended “The Historical ‘Invariance’ of Marxism” in a series of 1952 theses against the various “modernizers.” Modernizers here were the “self-declared advocates of the revolutionary Marxist doctrine and method who nonetheless attribute its current abandonment by the majority of the proletariat to defects or initial gaps in the theory that must therefore be rectified and brought ‘up-to-date’.”28 (For our part, Intransigence has made its own modest methodological contribution to the struggle against modernism with a piece “against eclecticism.”)29 The “invariant program” of communism, although scant on the details, was meant by Bordiga to preserve the essence of the doctrine amidst unfavorable conditions and thereby counteract the degeneration of its principles. Essentially it consisted of two parts: 1) the need for a class party, and 2) the need for a proletarian dictatorship. What Marxists must accomplish, according to Bordiga in 1965, is to resolve “the apparent contradiction between the necessary content or invariant historic program of communism and the contingent party relating to the form, operating as a force and a physical praxis of a decisive section of the militant proletariat.”30 All of this points to the party.
Dialectics of party and class
Schematically arranged, then, the three dominant forms covered in the previous section may be roughly periodized as follows:
- Prewar, 1891-1914 — min/max program;
- Interwar, 1918-1939 — transitional program;
- Postwar, 1945-1968 — invariant program.
Of these three, we suspect that Robin of the IGCL had the third in mind writing his critique of Intransigence. He insists that this is not some “pure abstraction,”31 but we are obliged to disagree. Yet this is perhaps not as problematic as it prima facie seems.
Why do we affirm that the programmatic period is today at an end? Does this not simply repeat the diagnosis made by the communizers of Endnotes in the US and Théorie Communiste in France? Since Robin brings up communization theory in his review, it is only fitting that we should go over the communisateurs’ (in)famous claims about “programmatism.” In this manner, we may show precisely what we share with the communization theorists and where we part ways. Let it not be thought, of course, that we derive any special pleasure from this overlap or slight congruence in our analysis with that of the communizers. For we are not at all looking to align ourselves with that theoretical school — much less take up their practical prescriptions, which for the most part they are careful to avoid. Rather, it is simply a matter of giving credit where credit is due, since we feel that they have inadvertently hit upon something important vis-à-vis the present historical impasse (even if they draw the wrong conclusions from it).
But allow us first to be more explicit, referring back to a claim Robin made at the outset about the “political and programmatic continuity” with October 1917 that some groups — scattered “nuclei” — have supposedly retained. No such continuity can today be said to exist, or if it can, it is a purely imaginary continuity that some still hold up as an ancestral myth. This is not to say that we have somehow surmounted the problems that preoccupied Marxist revolutionaries of yore, for the central contradiction between labor and capital (on which all of modern society is based) is no less pressing today than it was a century ago. However, between then and now lies a profound historical discontinuity, which forbids us from simply mouthing familiar slogans and thereby pretending we have remained loyal to the good old cause. Much has transpired over the interim that prevents such facile revendications. Class struggle has scarcely abated, to be sure, but the notion that one can somehow draw an unbroken line connecting the mundane present with the heroic past is sheer fantasy.
Yet again, we stress that this recognition does not in any sense diminish the world-historic import of 1917… or 1871, or 1848, or even 1789, for that matter. It does not suggest, moreover, that there is nothing left to learn from these dates. Quite the opposite, we maintain that their lessons are far from exhausted. We do not share the communizers’ belief that they now belong to some bygone era or “cycle of struggle,” comfortably consigned to irrelevance by the passage of time. All the same, the Endnotes collective and Théorie Communiste are right that the party programs of yesteryear do not resonate today. Still, why is this the case?
In its 2001 response to Karl Nesic and Gilles Dauvé, Théorie Communiste supplied the canonical definition of programmatism. “Programmatism is defined as a theory and practice of class struggle… in which the proletariat finds, in its drive toward self-liberation, the fundamental elements of a future social organization, which become the program to be realized,” its members explained. “This revolution is therefore the affirmation of the proletariat, whether as a dictatorship of the proletariat, as workers’ councils, the liberation of work, a period of transition, the withering of the state, generalized self-management, or ‘society of associated producers’.”32 Furthermore, the authors specify that programmatism corresponds to the late period of labor’s real subsumption, a period in which the capital-labor relation begins a decoupling, namely, the wage demand no longer grows in tandem with national productivity. In this new arrangement, the worker appears to contribute no value to the capitalist mode of production. Hence, a “flight from workers’ identity” characterizes the period of struggle to follow.
At first glance it might appear that our enumeration of the successive phases of programmatic politics dovetails neatly with Théorie Communiste’s periodization of past struggles, especially since the decisive restructuring of capitalism for them occurred from 1968 and 1973.33 Given the rapid unraveling of the labor movement after this point, at an institutional as well as an organizational level, there is some truth in this appearance. We remain unconvinced, however, by the account of subsumption and its relation to labor militancy. Some of this has to do with a faulty conceptualization by Théorie Communiste of the proletariat as just one “identity” amongst others, as something to be affirmed rather than pure negativity. Dauvé is better here, realizing that “if one identifies the proletariat with factory workers (or still worse, manual laborers), or with the poor, then one fails to see what is subversive in the proletarian condition, qua the negation of this society.”34 In other words, the proletariat is “the negative side of the antithesis.”35
Théorie Communiste’s account of a fundamental “rupture” in the workers’ movement is mirrored in a range of defeatist academic currents — from Baudrillard’s sterile postmodernism, through Negri’s disproven “multitude,” to Théorie Communiste’s own beloved Regulation School. Likewise for Endnotes, the capital-labor relation are caught up in “logics of disintegration” lending strength to movements “beyond a class identity.” We hold that the wage-relation persists as described by Marx and therefore the basic antagonism remains in its essence invariant. Far from not appreciating the structural changes that the communisateurs emphasize, we take note of the nihilism and confusion of our fellow workers — yet their apathy must be seen in the correct historical trajectory.
The global restructuring of capital since the 1970s into integrated zones of production, assembly, service, and consumption has posed a novel tactical and strategic devastation to the worker’s movement. As profitability came into crisis in the mid-seventies, capital become mobile and unfettered, entirely escaping from the rules of combat of a previous epoch of class struggle. The international flow of capital pushed both deeper into the social forms of the previous era and farther, pulling more people into the wage relation than ever before, while expelling some as a growing relative surplus. With the tactical and strategic devastation of the old workers’ movement came the petty theoretical mystifications of the manufactured culture wars and its mirror in identity politics, as well as the decadent cries of academics and artists and their poverty of imagination. To complete the disarray, a “wealth effect” trickled down in a new era of credit riddled production lending “middle class” status a short illusory life.
Yet today we face a fully “globalized” crisis of the downfall of Fordist profitability at its origins, clearly evident in the global nature of 2008’s debacle. Our fellow workers sense this and fear the precarity of their existence and the absent future that looms before them, despite the soaring stock market. While the wreckage of this process has made careers for fashionable leftists, the relatively short, roughly forty year process must be seen in its incredible outcome: a truly global and diverse proletariat has formed and, in its reemergence, it finds more dependent in its social reproduction on the wage relation than ever before. Meanwhile, the capitalist system decays, futilely attempting to shield itself within the old Keynesian capital controls of the nation-state. From the right and the left, the citizen movements that the communizers once admired, now inspired by the recoil of capital, are already facing their limits in the face of migrant proletarians, an irreversible sign of the international workers’ movement to come. In this light, we see the rise of square occupations and urban riots as confused proletarian cries towards a form beyond the national workers’ movement. We find hope in the new waves of wildcat strikes in North America, Europe and China in particular. Clearly, the horizon of this future movement cannot be the wage demand itself, but a negation to match the totality of failing global capitalism itself. Our wager is that it will elicit dreams of human reproduction beyond capital and a programmatic filtering of which processes to subsume and which to jettison entirely.
Even if the similarity between our own account and that of the communizers is only apparent, the lack of a revolutionary workers’ movement at present is a major obstacle for communists. Communization theory seeks to simply provide an ex post facto rationalization of this fact, scanning the horizon for a new revolutionary subject (whether surplus-populations or the “non-subject” of the hooded rioter).36 This marks another difference, if we refer back to our statement that the programmatic period is at an end. For we certainly do not believe that programs are forever outmoded, or that their time has come and gone. On the contrary, we stubbornly maintain that the proletariat must be united behind a solidly communist political program.
Programs presuppose parties, though, which in turn presuppose a real movement, of which they are the highest expression. Hence Bukharin and Preobrazhensky in 1919: “Every party pursues definite aims, whether it is a party of landowners or capitalists, on the one hand, or a party of workers or peasants, on the other. Otherwise it is not a party.”37 In their ABC of Communism, they tried to spell out what separated the communist party from its socialist predecessor, beginning with the foundational question, “What is a program?” Just a half-century later the official communist parties of Europe had practically regressed to the minimum program of old. As Herbert Marcuse perceptively observed, “the communist parties of France and Italy bear witness to the general trend in their adherence to a minimum program that shelves the revolutionary seizure of power in order to comply with the rules of the parliamentary game.”38 Unbeknownst to him in 1964, when this observation was made, Bordiga held fast to the invariant program — i.e., the class party alongside the dictatorship of the proletariat. But the PCI under Togliatti’s leadership adopted a coalition-building electoral policy conditions that would seamlessly move to Eurocommunism by 1979.
Marx wrote in his 1875 Gothakritik that “every step of real movement is more important than a dozen programs.”39 Such lines may well prove to be misleading, or might be deployed at suspect times, as the Mensheviks did, citing it against Lenin in 1902. “To repeat this line in an era of theoretical disarray, is the same as crying ‘many happy returns of the day!’ to a funeral procession,” Lenin quipped.40 Nevertheless, he penned this rejoinder after ten years of heightened class antagonism in Russia (e.g., the massive strike waves in Moscow and St. Petersburg during the 1890s). Which is to say a great deal of “real movement” had already taken place, thus preparing the ground for the extremely high quality of programmatic political reflection evident in What is to be Done? Lately there have been signs of renewed struggle, with strikes taking place across Europe, Asia, and North America, so guarded optimism might be warranted. Joshua Clover’s contention that we have entered a new era of uprisings, in which riots have replaced strikes as the premier mode of popular discontent,41 could hardly have been more ill-timed. It would still be premature to start drafting party programs, however, expecting the working class to just spontaneously gather beneath the communist banner in light of our correct “positions.”
Various claimants to the legacy of 1917 persist even today, tracing their lineage back to Bordiga, Trotsky, or Lenin. For the most part these self-styled successor sects barely cling to life, sustained by dwindling memberships led by an elderly core of volunteer apparatchiks (somehow convinced they still constitute the one true party). Disconnected from any real movement, accountable to no one but each other, these groups will issue periodic declarations of “critical support” for distant causes over which they exercise no influence. Occasionally they will show up to rallies, or maybe endorse a candidate in an election, flattering themselves that they remain relevant. However, such parties cannot but seem anachronistic at present, almost as if living fossils. Although we hold that something like a party will inevitably coalesce out of any revolutionary workers’ movement, we can only extend our deepest sympathy to those unfortunate enough to have joined one of the remaining vanguardist orgs in the last few years. If that were all parties could ever be, we surely would become anarchists.
Needless to say, we feel that the course of action Robin suggests — to “homogenize” around a program — puts the cart before the horse, so to speak. To attempt this at such an early stage in our regroupment would be disastrous, we think. Programs can only be drawn up, and thereby parties formed, when there is a real movement of the class. Until such a movement appears, and begins to gather momentum, any demands we might make or policies we might propose on behalf of the class would be self-important puffery on our part. Sadly, no amount of pamphleteering or speechifying can bring this about, whatever “consciousness-raising” activists may say. (We feel like the last thing workers need is to be harangued from the sidelines about what they ought to believe.) It does not follow, however, that communists should just sit on their hands in the meantime hoping a movement will fall out of the clear blue sky.
Jock dealt with this dilemma in the closing paragraph of his introduction to a 1979 essay by Fabio Damen of the ICT. “Of course, the precondition for the formation of any future party is class struggle itself,” remarks Jock. “But at the same time, it depends on the active work of revolutionaries today… The last thing we need to do is ‘wait and see’.”42 Rejecting this attendista attitude should not be taken to imply voluntarism, of course, overeager to get things started when there is not much going on. Communist militants have to establish contact with one another, positioning themselves so as to be ready in case the class begins to move. Klasbatalo is quite right in this respect, writing that we must keep our ears trained to the ground at least for now.43
1 Robin. “The Rise of New Communist Forces and the Fight for the International Party.” Revolution or War. (№ 10: September 1, 2018). Pgs. 1-2.
2 Ibid., pg. 1.
3 “Direct, open compulsion to work is of course far from pleasant. But it is a sharp pain that disappears quickly.” Kontra Klasa. “Notes on the Transition to Communism.” Intransigence. (№ 2: July 2018). Pg. 32.
4 Humanaesfera. “Reply to Kontra Klasa’s ‘Notes on the Transition to Communism’.” Intransigence. (№ 3: November 2018). Pgs. 109-113.
5 Robin, “The Rise of New Communist Forces and the Fight for the International Party.” Pg. 2.
6 Emanuel Santos. “The Dead End of Racial Identity Politics.” Intransigence. (№ 1: October 2017).
7 Nuevo Curso. “Xenophobia, Lumpenization, and the Proletariat.” Intransigence. (№ 3: November 2018). Pgs. 25-26.
8 Robin, “The Rise of New Communist Forces and the Fight for the International Party.” Pg. 2.
9 “Social democracy can defend the present interests of all laboring classes better than any other party, interests which are enshrined in the so-called minimum program. The logic of the minimum program would be easier to grasp were it called the maximum program: that is, the maximum which may be achieved prior to proletarian rule. Conversely, the logic of the so-called ‘maximum program’ is that it contains the minimum which may be realistically achieved before the working class is justified to take power.” Lars Lih. Lenin Rediscovered: “What is to be Done?” in Context. (Brill Academic Publishers. Boston, MA: 2005). Pg. 97.
10 Mike Macnair. “For a Minimum Program!” Weekly Worker. (№ 686: August 27, 2007).
11 Karl Marx. “Preamble to the Program of the French Workers’ Party.” Translated by Barrie Selman. Collected Works, Volume 24. (International Publishers. New York, NY: 1989). Pg. 340.
12 “Guesde visited London and the new party’s minimum program was the joint labor of Marx, Engels, Guesde, and Lafargue. It did not correspond to the wishes of Marx and Engels in every way. Among other things Guesde insisted on inserting a demand for a minimum legal wage. Marx opposed this, saying that if the French proletariat were still childish enough to need such bait it was not worthwhile drawing up a program at all, but Guesde insisted and the demand remained in the program… Yet this did not lead Marx to withdraw his counsel from the new party, any more than he had in the case of the German party when it drew up its Gotha program. He knew it would overcome such infantile ailments.” Boris Nikolaevskii and Otto Mänchen-Helfen. Karl Marx: Man and Fighter. Translated by Gwenda David and Eric Mosbacher. (Methuen & Co. Ltd. London: 1936). Pg. 377.
13 “Guesde came to London to collaborate with us (myself, Engels and Lafargue) in drafting an electoral program for use by workers in the forthcoming general elections. With the exception of some foolishnesses, such as minimum wages fixed by law, which despite our protests Guesde thought fit to dole out to the French workers (for if the French proletariat was so puerile as to require these sops it is not worthwhile drawing up any program whatever), the economic section of this short document consists of demands arising spontaneously… out of the workers’ movement.” Karl Marx. “Letter to Friedrich Adolph Sorge, 5 November 1880.” Translated by Peter and Betty Ross. Collected Works, Volume 46. (International Publishers. New York, NY: 1992). Pgs. 44-45.
14 “Guesde suppresses… important qualificative passages of Joffrin’s because they don’t suit his book, and fails to mention the fact that, despite opposition, the Comité national declared Joffrin’s program to be more radical than the programme minimum, thus giving Joffrin the party’s blessing. A fact which he of course triumphantly parades before Guesde.” Friedrich Engels. “Letter to Karl Marx, 13 January 1882.” Translated by Peter and Betty Ross. Ibid., pg. 181.
15 “We now turn to the minimum program. Here we encounter the ostensibly ‘very radical’ but really very groundless proposal of comrades Nikolai Bukharin and Vladimir Smirnov to discard the minimum program in toto. The division into maximum and minimum programs is out of date, or so they claim. Since we speak of the transition to socialism, there is no need for it. No minimum programs; our program must indicate measures for the transition to socialism. But we must not boast when riding to battle, discarding the minimum program, since it would be an empty boast to say that we do not wish to ‘demand anything from the bourgeoisie,’ that we wish to rather realize everything ourselves, that we do not want to work any further on petty details within the framework of bourgeois society… First of all we must win power, which has not yet been done. We must carry out measures of transition to socialism, must continue until world socialist revolution is victorious. Only then, in ‘returning from battle,’ can we discard the minimum program as being of no further use. Is it possible to guarantee now that the minimum program will not be needed anymore? Of course not, as we have not yet won power, since socialism has not yet been realized. We must firmly, courageously, and without any hesitation advance toward this goal, but it would be ludicrous for us to declare we have reached it when we definitely have not. Discarding the minimum program at this point would be tantamount to announcing — in other words, to bragging — that we have already won.” Vladimir Lenin. “Revision of the Party Program.” Translated by Yuri Sdobnikov and George Hanna. Collected Works, Volume 26. (Progress Publishers. Moscow: 1977). Pgs. 169-171.
16 Leon Trotsky. “The New Epoch and the New Parliamentarism.” Translated by John Riddell. Workers of the World and Oppressed Peoples, United! Proceedings of the Second Congress of the Communist International. (Pathfinder Press. New York, NY: 1991). Pg. 509.
17 “If today we declare in our program that the immediate task of the proletariat is none other than to make socialism a truth and a fact, and destroy capitalism root and branch, in saying this we take our stand upon the ground occupied by Marx and Engels in 1848, and from which in principle they never swerved. What true Marxism is has now become plain. And what ersatz Marxism is, so long the official Marxism of social democracy, has also been made clear.” Rosa Luxemburg. “Our Political Program and Situation.” Translated by Peter Hudis. Selected Writings. (Monthly Review Press. New York, NY: 2004). Pg. 363.
18 Ibid., pg. 359.
19 Ibid., pgs. 364-365.
20 Karl Radek. “Theses on Tactics and Strategy.” Translated by John Riddell. To the Masses: Proceedings of the Third Congress of the Communist International. (Brill Academic Publishers. Boston, MA: 2014). Pgs. 935-936.
21 Leon Trotsky. “90 Years of the Communist Manifesto (October 30, 1937).” Translated by Max Shachtman. Writings, 1937-1938. (Pathfinder Press. New York, NY: 1976). Pgs. 23-24.
22 Leon Trotsky. The Transitional Program and the Tasks of the Fourth International. Translated by Martin Schrader. (Resistance Books. New York, NY: 1999). Pg. 16.
23 “Classical social democracy in the epoch of progressive capitalism divided its program into two parts independent of each other: the minimum program, which limited itself to reforms within the framework of bourgeois society, and the maximum program, which promised substitution of socialism for capitalism sometime in the future. Between the minimum and the maximum program no real bridge existed, as social democracy indeed had no need for such a bridge, since the word ‘socialism’ is reserved only for holiday speechifying. The Comintern has set out to follow the path of social democracy in an epoch of decaying capitalism: when, in general, there can be no discussion of systematic social reforms or of raising the masses’ standard of living; when every demand of the proletariat and even every demand of the petite bourgeoisie inevitably reaches beyond the limits of capitalist property relations and the bourgeois state.” Ibid., pg. 26.
24 “German social democracy had been, and in large measure still was in 1914, the expression of the German workers’ movement, with its characteristically serious attitude to organization, the strict discipline it demanded from its members, who were organized in fractions, and the coexistence of a minimum program which called for reformist practices with the program of proletarian revolution, which was put on the backburner for the whole historical period. The First World War put an end to this compromise, which had been painfully assembled during the years of Germany’s expansion, and were preserved only with difficulty during the prewar years. The war compelled a choice between the two perspectives, which had been presented as complementary but were rendered contradictory by conditions. Pursuit of the minimum program, or to defend gains already made, would seem to lead along the road of the union sacrée in times of war. But it was clear that the revolutionary perspective lay through the struggle, illegal if necessary, against war and preparing for civil war.” Pierre Broué. The German Revolution, 1917-1923. Translated by John Archer. (Brill Academic Publishers. Boston, MA: 2005). Pgs. 851-852.
25 Ibid., pg. 855.
26 Onorato Damen. “Bordiga Beyond the Myth and the Rhetoric.” Translated by J.S. Daborn. Bordiga Beyond the Myth. (Prometheus Publications. London: 2016). Pg. 23.
27 Amadeo Bordiga. “The Immediate Program of the Revolution.” Translated by Craftwork. Libcom. (June 6, 2016).
28 Amadeo Bordiga. “The Historical ‘Invariance’ of Marxism.” Translated by Alias Recluse. Libcom. (November 28, 2013).
29 Oblivion Oblomov. “Against Eclecticism: Marxism, Materialism, and Methodology.” Intransigence. (№ 3: November 2018). Pgs. 15-24.
30 Amadeo Bordiga. “Considerations on the Party’s Organic Activity when the General Situation is Historically Unfavorable.” Translator unlisted.
31 Robin, “The Rise of New Communist Forces and the Fight for the International Party.” Pg. 2. To be clear, the “invariance” of the IGCL has more to do with method than with content: “While there can be differences in the program of the party during different stages of capitalist development — for instance, between the ascendant and decadent epochs of capitalism — the method for determining what is in and what is out is invariant.” Stavros. “What Relation Between the International Party and Local Organizations?” Revolution or War. (№ 10: September 1, 2018). Pg. 16.
32 Théorie Communiste. “Much Ado About Nothing.” Translators unlisted. Endnotes. (№ 1: October 2008). Pg. 155.
33 “For Théorie Communiste [the programmatist] cycle of struggle is brought to a close by the movements of 1968-1973, which mark the obsolescence of the program of the liberation of labor and the self-affirmation of the proletariat; the capitalist restructuring in the aftermath of these struggles and the crisis in the relation between capital and proletariat sweeps away or hollows out the institutions of the old workers’ movement.” Endnotes. “Afterword.” Endnotes. (№ 1: October 2008). Pg. 213.
34 Gilles Dauvé. “Capitalism and Communism.” Translator unlisted. The Eclipse and Reemergence of the Communist Movement. (PM Press. New York, NY: 2015). Pg. 19.
35 “The proletariat is compelled… as proletariat to abolish itself and thereby its opposite, private property, which determines its existence, and which makes it proletariat… It is the negative side of the antithesis, its own restlessness within its very self, dissolved and self-dissolving private property.” Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels. The Holy Family: Or Critique of Critical Criticism. Translated by Richard Dixon. Collected Works, Volume 4. (International Publishes. New York, NY: 1975). Pg. 36.
36 Woland. “Rise of the (Non-)Subject.” Translator unlisted. Sic. (№ 2: January 2014). Pgs. 60-69.
37 Nikolai Bukharin and Evgenii Preobrazhensky. The ABC of Communism: A Popular Explanation of the Program of the Communist Party of Russia. Translated by Eden Paul and Cedar Paul. (University of Michigan Press. Ann Arbor, MI: 1967). Pg. 19.
38 Herbert Marcuse. One-Dimensional Man: Studies in the Ideology of Advanced Industrial Society. (Routledge. New York, NY: 2007). Pg. 23.
39 Karl Marx. “Critique of the Gotha Program.” Translated by Peter Ross and Betty Ross. Collected Works, Volume 24. (International Publishers. New York, NY: 1989). Pg. 78.
40 Vladimir Lenin. What is to be Done? Burning Questions of Our Movement. Translated by Lars Lih. See Lih, Lenin Rediscovered. Pg. 696.
41 “The socialist horizon of programmatism should not be seen as a moral or an analytical failing, nor as a kind of stopping short; there would be a passage from socialism to communism (or from a lower to a higher phase of communism, as Marx has it in his Critique of the Gotha Program). Rather, it accurately refracts the real conditions of the world in which it arises. It struggles against capital from the point of view of the worker… Or in other words it arises alongside the rising power of industrial labor, which is why workers in this sector are able to stand as the revolutionary class fraction. Their growth is capital’s expansion. However, this does not represent an immutable standpoint or form of struggle.” Joshua Clover. Riot, Strike, Riot: The New Era of Uprisings. (Verso Books. New York, NY: 2016). Pgs. 148-149. For an excellent review challenging Clover’s main contention, please see Kim Moody. “Are Strikes Over?” Against the Current. (№ 194: May-June 2018).
42 Jock. “The Fraction/Party Question in the Italian Communist Left.” Intransigence. (№ 3: November 2018). Pg. 53.
43 “The party cannot be understood as an isolated unit but rather as a historical one… Historically speaking, it is correct to say there exists a tendency towards the formation of the party in periods of rising class struggle, but it is faulty to claim that rising class struggle automatically produces the party.” Klasbatalo. “Letter to the North American Communist Left.” Intransigence. (№ 3: November 2018). Pg. 116.