Party of the Committees to Support Resistance – for Communism (CARC)
Dear comrades, We thank you for your invitation to speak at this Conference and for your commitment to organize it. We wish this initiative success and for such initiatives to be multiplied. The frank and open debate on the issues that the Conference places on the agenda is crucial to the ongoing revival of the communist movement in single countries and internationally. For their immediate and historical goals, communists base their line of action on the objective conditions of the class struggle and today, therefore, base it on the characteristics of the imperialist era. The analysis made in 1916 by Lenin in his book on imperialism remains relevant today, but both the developments since more than a century later and the very character of that analysis dictate that we should consider it only a starting point. Lenin in fact analyzed only the economic aspects of the new phase. We must also consider that the Russian communists were in the condition of a revolutionary proletarian movement in a backward capitalist country grappling with the world imperialist system. Therefore, we cannot find in that analysis the ready-made answers to the questions to be faced and resolved by a revolutionary movement in the imperialist metropolises today. We cannot simply repeat Lenin's analysis. We must develop it. During the first wave of the proletarian revolution (1917-1976), the exponents of the communist parties in the imperialist countries paid little attention to the nature of the imperialist era: it was one of the factors why those parties were unable to promote socialist revolution until the establishment of socialism in their countries. Russia, a weak link in the chain of imperialist countries, was the only exception. This has fostered first the "paths to socialism through structural reforms" advocated by modern revisionists who have taken over the heads of communist parties and then theories that establishing socialism is unnecessary because today "the world is all different." Communists in the imperialist countries have therefore been bogged down, in the field of mass activity, in two deviations: limiting their action to claim struggles (economism) and/or elections in bourgeois parliaments (electoralism). The current disagreements and uncertainties in the international communist movement over the nature of the ongoing war in Ukraine and the role of the Russian Federation and the People's Republic of China also express the need to recover from this backwardness. So initiatives such as this conference organized by the National Democratic Front of the Philippines are welcome.
In their Concept Note, the organizers of this Conference called on the participants to make an effort in the convergence of political positions and actions regarding imperialism and war. To arrive at convergence in political positions, it is necessary to openly fix differences on fundamental issues and deal with them in depth.
1. Is imperialism merely a new form of capitalism or an entirely different mode of production from capitalism, or is the imperialist era the era of socialist revolution and the decadence of bourgeois society?
Imperialist era means that the bourgeois social system is historically outdated, that the rule of the bourgeoisie is reaction and decadence, that socialist revolution is the historically dominant trend. The transition of bourgeois society to imperialism is brought about by the absolute over-accumulation of capital that Marx discusses in Chapters 13, 14 and 15 of Book III of The Capital, where Marx predicts that capitalists would accumulate more capital than they could profitably employ in the production of commodities, no matter how much they expanded the quantity, multiplied the number, and changed the quality.
The basic feature of the imperialist era is that the production as commodities of the material conditions of human existence becomes a secondary, albeit ineradicable, aspect of the valorization of capital and the activities of the bourgeoisie, subordinate to the valorization of capital through financial and speculative transactions. The capital employed in the production of commodities is reduced to a small part of the total capital to the valorization of which the activities of the imperialist bourgeoisie are directed. We are no longer in a society that has at its center the production of the material conditions of existence: the valorization of capital is no longer based primarily on mercantile production but mainly on financial and speculative activities, and the production of commodities is no longer closely linked to the production of the material conditions of existence, but to the need for the valorization of capital that leads to the production of whatever one can sell, even filth and poisons, physical, intellectual and moral.
This transformation in the economic sphere in the imperialist era is accompanied by the transformation in the political sphere with the shift from bourgeois democracy to regimes of preventive counterrevolution, instruments to prevent the ideological and organizational autonomy of the working class and the popular masses. This is followed by the fact that in imperialist countries, promoting claim struggles and participating in bourgeois political struggle must be consciously aimed at the establishment of socialism (1. dictatorship of the proletariat, 2. planned management of the economy aimed at meeting the needs of the population living there and its relations of solidarity, cooperation and exchange with other countries, and 3. promotion of the population’s increasing access to specifically human activities, those related to the knowledge of reality and the ability to transform it that the ruling classes have always reserved for themselves).
2. Overproduction of commodities and cyclical crises (such as those of the 1825-1867 period) or general crisis due to absolute overaccumulation of capital?
From the interpretation of the nature and cause of the current crisis also derives the way out and the policy course to be followed. Cyclical crises are crises in which conjunctural cycles alternate and which sooner or later cease on their own: the disruption of the productive system, by reducing productive capacity, creates the conditions for the resumption of production. The popular masses and their organizations should therefore tighten their belts while waiting for better times or try to induce governments to adopt “damage control” policies. This is the position of parties that claim to be communist, but in fact dogmatically transpose Marx’s analysis concerning the crises of capitalist countries in the pre-imperialist phase into the present.
Lenin in his text on imperialism does not speak of the absolute overproduction whose advent Marx had foreseen and which is the source of imperialism, but he clearly shows that capitalism centered on commodity production has generated capitalism centered on financial operations and speculation. The substance of the crisis by absolute overproduction of capital consists in the fact that, at the world level and considering all productive sectors, the accumulated capital is so much that, if capitalists employed all of it in their commodity-producing enterprises (goods and services), they would extract a smaller mass of profit than they do by employing only a part of it. In a system of capitalist social relations, the
bourgeoisie must make the most of capital, but, given the existing orders, the bourgeoisie could not invest it in the production of commodities. This gave rise to all the developments we note, which fall into the following five camps:
- squeezing of the popular masses (reduction of incomes and elimination of rights and achievements),
- financialization of the real economy and development of speculative capital,
- recolonization of oppressed countries and exploitation of former socialist countries,
- devastation of the earth (plundering of natural resources, climate change, pollution of the environment, devastation of the land),
- struggle among capitalists each of whom seeks to enlarge themselves at the expense of other capitalists.
Developments in each of these five spheres have war as their outlet: war is an inevitable effect of capitalism in crisis. The crisis by absolute overproduction of capital arises from the economy but is general — that is, political, cultural, social and now also environmental — and finds its solution on the political terrain, that is, in the upheaval of social arrangements at the level of individual countries and the system of international relations.
3. Some communist parties and organizations claim that the course of things in the world today is characterized by preparations for open warfare between old and new imperialist blocs and states and the looming world ecological catastrophe.
They neglect or deny that socialist revolution is the historically main trend. They recognize the hegemony that U.S. imperialist groups have imposed in much of the world, except in the countries of the socialist camp, since 1945 and that they seek to perpetuate with the extension of NATO and the creation of new “alliances” (Asia-Pacific and Latin America). But they fail to recognize that the October Revolution, the founding of the USSR and its victorious resistance under the leadership of Lenin and Stalin to the first three aggressions of imperialist groups and powers led the first two (1918-1922 and 1922-1939) by W. Churchill and the third (1941-1945) by A. Hitler, the building of socialism in the USSR in the period 1924-1953 under the leadership of Stalin, the work of the Communist International and the USSR in the world, the establishment of the first socialist countries and in particular the People’s Republic of China, Vietnam, North Korea and Cuba, and the breakup of the colonial and semi-colonial system established in the 19th century, the decadence of the USSR and the People’s Democracies of Eastern Europe promoted by modern revisionists with the “reforms” of Khrushchev and Brezhnev, the fourth aggression (Cold War) of the U.S.-led imperialist groups and powers, and the economic and general development of the PRC make up the history that has led to the present no less than the world hegemony of the U.S. imperialist groups.
4. Are all the early socialist countries dominated by the imperialist bourgeoisie, or are they now in different stages of the struggle between the two main classes (struggle between two lines in the Communist Party and struggle between two classes in society) that in the imperialist era competed for the direction of the course of things in the world?
In addition to the imperialist countries and the oppressed countries, after the creation of the USSR and the first world wave of the proletarian revolution, a third type of countries comes into the picture: the first socialist countries. With the exhaustion of the first wave, the disintegration of the USSR and the resumption of world domination by the imperialist bourgeoisie, things have become more articulated, and there is also a large set of countries stemming from the first socialist countries. There are the People’s Republic of China, Cuba, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, the Socialist Republic of Vietnam, the Lao People’s Democratic Republic, the Russian Federation, and former Soviet countries such as Belarus that oppose U.S. domination. There are the former Baltic Soviet republics and the former
Eastern European People’s Republics integrated into NATO. The management of the pandemic has shown that Cuba, the People’s Republic of China, the Socialist Republic of Vietnam, the Lao People’s Democratic Republic, and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea retain to a greater or lesser extent institutions and other aspects of the social system created during the first wave. Of course, and particularly with regard to the People’s Republic of China, it is not enough for the ruling party to call itself communist. We need to examine the selection of its members, how it promotes the access of the popular masses to the knowledge of reality and the ability to transform it that the ruling classes have always reserved for themselves, whether businesses are run for profit or for the individual and collective needs of the people, what the conditions are and what the role of the Party is in the workplace
As regards the Russian Federation, the economic system is mainly in the hands of the so-called “oligarchs” who, however, have to deal with a number of social relations and institutions that are still anchored in the socialist past, such as workers’ rights, the fact that workers treat companies as if they were still their own, and that some public companies have been closed down but others have not. We need to look at the ownership of the main means of production, the management of land and real estate, how much production can be exported abroad, the management of public services. As for today’s Putin regime, it expresses the will on the part of the oligarchs to cope with the subjugation of the Russian Federation to the US imperialists. With it, the Federation joins the set of countries, foremost among them the People’s Republic of China, that oppose the domination of the U.S. imperialists won in 1945 but in decline since the 1970s, when the current crisis began.In summary, according to the (n)ICP Caravan believes that the first socialist countries are now divided into three different stages of the struggle between the two main classes (proletariat and imperialist bourgeoisie) and the struggle between two paths (continuation of socialism and reintegration into the imperialist system):
- the Russian Federation is a country 1. whose economy is in the hands of large capitalists in a state-monopoly capitalist system, 2. which is the target of the attempt by U.S. imperialist groups to dismember it by expanding NATO in Eastern Europe and Asia, 3. in which many of the social relations created in the Soviet Union period still live on despite the civil war in the Gorbachev-Eltsin years that ended it;
- China and Vietnam are countries headed by communist parties each of which has achieved great development of national productive forces and is now the scene of the struggle between the two ways and the two lines;
- North Korea and Cuba are countries headed by communist parties each of which for different reasons, related to the particularities of the country, has difficulty drawing its own line within the current state of the conscious and organized international communist movement and the current system of international relations.
This analysis also serves to understand the role assumed by the BRICS as the center of aggregation of countries that rebel against or do not accept the submission to the International Community of the European, U.S. and Zionist imperialist groups.
4. Socialist revolution that erupts because of the quantity and extent of the masses’ vindictive struggles in the course of one of the commodity overproduction crises into which bourgeois society by its nature cyclically incurs or revolutionary popular war of the proletariat against the imperialist bourgeoisie that the Communist Party promotes?
The experience of the communist movement throughout the 20th century shows, as Engels already discovered in 1895, that the socialist revolution is not an insurrection of the popular masses of which the communists take the lead, and that, while waiting for this to happen, it would be enough for the communists to limit themselves to claim struggles against the bosses (labor struggles) and against the authorities (political struggles), to participation in struggles to take spaces in the elective assemblies and use them for the interests of the popular masses. Already the revolution in Russia has shown quite a different course.
The Caravan of the (n)ICP is based on the resistance, even if only spontaneous, that the popular masses oppose to the progress of the crisis of the popular masses and supports it in the forms in which it manifests itself, aiming mainly at promoting the formation of workers’ and popular bodies and guiding them to coordinate and fight the measures of the bourgeois authorities making it impossible for the bourgeoisie to govern the country until it is forced to swallow the establishment of a government formed by people who enjoy the trust of the workers’ and popular organizations. It will be similar to the Popular Front governments of the 1930s in Spain, to those of France and Italy after the victory of the Resistance against Nazi-Fascism. Such a government is possible, and the recent ones led by the 5 Star Movement in Italy also show this. All these governments did not lead to socialism, it is true, but this is because the right-wing leading communist parties did not mobilize the popular masses to defend them when ministers and parties defending their interests were ousted.
The line of clandestinity of the communist party and the link between two brother communist parties (the (n)ICP underground and the public CARC Party) that the (n) ICP Caravan practices is also related to the conception of the form of socialist revolution and the balance we draw from the experience of the communist movement. Various communist parties believe that World War III is looming but, despite past experience (Antonio Gramsci in Italy, Rosa Luxemburg, Karl Liebknecht and Ernst Thälmann in Germany, etc.), they ignore the problem of the continuity of communist activity whatever measures are taken by the authorities of the imperialist bourgeoisie and NATO. Yet Lenin to R. Luxemburg in 1916 (About Junius’s pamphlet) rightly said that the main defect of German Marxism (but the converse is true of all communist parties in imperialist countries) consisted in the lack of an illegal organization, accustomed to elaborating to the full the revolutionary watchwords and systematically educating the masses according to the spirit of them.
The lack of socialist revolution in the imperialist countries, including Italy, is the biggest gap in the international communist movement, and it is due not to the betrayal of the right-wing communist parties in those countries, but to deficiencies of the left in understanding the situation, the tasks and how to implement them. Hence the importance we give to understanding the characteristics of imperialism: we do so for the purpose of building the revolution in Italy, just as Lenin did for the purpose of building the revolution in Russia. Because of this we invite the exponents of the communist movement, particularly those of the imperialist countries, to the frank and open debate on the balance sheet of the experience of the communist movement, on the specific regimes put in place by the bourgeoisie in the imperialist countries, on the nature of the current crisis, and on the strategy for making socialist revolution. Contributing to this research and debate is the pamphlet The imperialist era is the era of socialist revolution and the decadence of bourgeois society (November 2022), produced by the editorial staff of The Voice of (n)ICP in collaboration with the CARC Party Training Center and available at www.nuovopci.it, which summarizes the findings that the Caravan of the (new)ICP has made since the 1980s about the characteristics of the imperialist era and its transformations since 1916.