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The Russia We Love and Defend (Prometeo n° 2 - December 1943)

We reproduce here the article that the ICT has traduced into English and which had been written in December 1943 by Onorato Damen and published in Prometeo n°2, the review of the Internationalist Communist Party which had just been formed in Italy at the very moment that the Italian proletariat was raising, during war, its head through strikes and demonstrations against the misery it was suffering. The presentation of the ICT comrades recalls the conditions and the goal of this text which reasserts its conviction in the principles and the ideals of the October 1917 proletarian insurrection, in the Russian Revolution, and in the need for the proletariat "to fight for its own revolutionary programme like that of the early years of the Russian Revolution after 1917". Just that reason itself largely would justify the reproduction of this text.

But according to us, there is another political interest which has today a particular importance : since some times, we have seen questionings more or less explicit of this experience within those who claim the Communist Left and its political legacy - whose central element is and remains being the uncompromising defence of the proletarian character of the Russian Revolution as well as the defence of the Bolshevik Party 1. Certainly, already since the years 1930, the councilist current rejects the experience of the Russian Revolution by defining it as a bourgeois revolution, even as a simple "coup d'état" of the Bolsheviks and Lenin. But it tends today to be joined by all a sphere stemming from the Communist Left, in particular from the ICC. Lately, around the publishing house Smolny (France) and on the occasion of the publication of a book about the Russian review Komunist of 1918, we have seen these circles adopting suddenly, first the "infantile" position of Bukharin and of the fraction grouping around him against the signature of the Brest-Litvosk Peace Treaty between the Russia of the Soviets and Germany2 ; and second, drawing a line of continuity between the struggle of this fraction and the Left fractions which, afterwards, opposed to the rising of stalinism and to counter-revolution. By establishing this fallacious continuity, these circles give credit to this view - and even take it back explicitly - according to which "the worm was in the fruit" since the beginning, since the October insurrection, and that Lenin's Bolshevik Party is the main responsible for the "confiscation" of the Revolution.

The text published by the ICT today comes to reaffirm the political and programmatic legacy of the Communist Left and is resolutely full part of what is also a fundamental political fight not only for the final success of a revolutionary process but also at the immediate level for at the same time favouring the revolutionary regroupment and the process driving to the setting up of the Communist Party as well as making the today communists, as weak and isolated they presently are, actors, active factors and leaders of the development of the workers struggles in front of capitalism's crisis. "And the workers who have defended, and still defend Russia as the first great experiment of their class, have to finally understand the reason why we communists do not hesitate to state our opposition to the Russia of Stalin while, at the same time, we proclaim ourselves faithful fighters for the Russia of Lenin", says Onorato Damen's text.

It was true in 1943. It is still even more today. The defence of the proletarian character of October and of the Bolshevik Party is a central element of the massive confrontation between the classes whose process does not but begin today. Only those who don't understand the primacy, leading, and fundamental role of the highest expressions of class consciousness, it means the communist organizations, can be surprised at such assertion. If the revolutionaries and above all their organization, the Communist Party, should pass through hesitations - to say the least - in this fight for the defence of the Russian Revolution, then this party would lack of one of its main compasses and its capacity to be the vanguard Party, the leading Party, of the proletariat would be seriously handicapped. It is precisely what the bourgeoisie has understood and why it does not stop attacking and distorting at the ideological and propagandistic level the proletarian character of the Russian October. Doing so, it succeeds in introducing within the very ranks of the proletarian camp, of the communist forces, doubts and it also finds in it allies we must resolutely fight against with no hesitation.

March 2012, the FICL.

The Russia We Love and Defend

(From Prometeo 2 (December 1943) - This article was the first Onorato Damen wrote in Prometeo the still clandestine publication of the newly-formed Internationalist Communist Party. Its context is the opposition to the wartime Allies of the USSR, the USA and the UK in the imperialist war against the Axis powers. After the fall of Mussolini all sectors of the Italian bourgeoisie were flocking to support the Allies. The newly formed Italian Communist Party of Togliatti actively encouraged this as it took on the mantle of “defending democracy”. The article here was intended to emphasise the need for the working class to fight for its own revolutionary programme like that of the early years of the Russian Revolution after 1917 and against the degeneration that had occurred under Stalin.

It is no accident that today we communists, the unwavering supporters and defenders of the Russian Revolution, of its ideas and of its first actions, have to defend ourselves from the accusation of now being against this great historic experience. This accusation is thrown at us by those who were the Revolution‘s most open and ferocious enemies during the period when the bourgeois liberal and social democratic coalition tried to strangle it either militarily with mercenary banditry or through starvation; and sought to isolate it from the capitalist world behind a barbed wire fence of defamation and conspiracy.

Such a complete change of mind, and of political sympathy, towards Russia is much less surprising than may be imagined. In the light of Marxism it is easily understandable. Today this sympathy and solidarity runs from the Church to the captains of industry, from the Socialists to the magnates of high finance.

We are not amongst these; and the workers who have defended, and still defend Russia as the first great experiment of their class, have to finally understand the reason why we communists do not hesitate to state our opposition to the Russia of Stalin while, at the same time, we proclaim ourselves faithful fighters for the Russia of Lenin.

For us the revolutionary events were not insignificant trifles and we adhere completely to the ideas of October through our absolute dedication to the cause of the Russian Revolution, the beginning of the international revolution. For more than twenty years most of us have given everything to its cause: financial interests, family affections, freedom, often ending up in prison, internment or concentration camps. And so it is that the thankless, but necessary and inescapable task of not remaining silent on the truth about Russia therefore falls to us. We have learned in the school of Marxism to struggle openly and firmly against myths, against any kind of ’taboo', and for the most concrete truths of the class struggle.

And before we set out our ideas we would like those workers who have held on to their critical capacities, and whose class instincts have not been contaminated, to consider the real reasons which lie behind the profound and sudden solidarity of so many bourgeois reactionaries with the Russia of today, and from which we can define its true nature. For ourselves, we want to clarify here some aspects of this vexed problem and we are sure we shall all reach the same conclusions.

1. The bourgeoisie's passionate and noisy love for Stalin's Russia is a direct result of their interest in preserving the capitalist system. It follows from this that what we love, the bourgeoisie through class antagonism, naturally hates. When our theoretical critique and our Party’s actions put us at the forefront of the class struggle, the bourgeoisie cannot stomach it.

2. The legitimisation of the Second imperialist war in Stalinist “people's war for democracy”, and the official recognition by the Orthodox Church which naturally supported the war for the great Slav fatherland, has deeply impressed the honest bourgeois who are always full of love for the fatherland. To legitimise the war meant to tie the working masses to it, to chain them to that most brutal and hateful force, chauvinism, in order to make victory certain, and with it the salvation of capital.

3. The bolshevisation of the Russian (Communist) Party and the International, the liquidation in these bodies of leading organised expressions of the proletariat and their substitution by the stupid servants of opportunism, the inequalities in wages which inevitably restored social differences; the role assumed by the State and party bureaucracy, the dominance of the class of technicians which came from forced industrialisation and the rise of the Church as a prominent force; the pre-eminence of the State in the place of the dictatorship of proletariat; the Five Year Plans for the intensive exploitation of a re-created subject class of workers - these are all the surface features which confirm that the interests of Russia are no longer those of the proletariat ... At this point those who have ditched the revolution deemed it opportune to demonstrate their loyalty and consistency of the new direction in Russian policy to the international bourgeoisie, sacrificing on the alter of democratic concord the men of the old guard, the incorruptible builders of the October Revolution. This is the Russia dear to the hearts of Roosevelt, of Churchill and all international radicals - but it is not ours.

4. The Russia which we love and defend, as a revolutionary achievement, is that Russia of the proletariat and poor peasantry who under the guidance of Lenin and the revolutionary party dared to break the framework of feudalism and capitalism and to pose the class dictatorship - the transitional proletarian state power whose goal has to be to signal the destruction of that very state and that very class, The Russia which we love and defend is that Russia which for years its proletariat and to the international proletariat the consciousness of its force, the historic sense of its revolutionary role, the organic demonstration of the new workers' world that has its creative heart in the 'Soviets'.

The Russia which we love and defend is that Russia which for years had to operate clandestinely in the shadow of the present 'Bolshevik' Party and which in the prisons, in the deportations throughout the Russian wastes preserved intact its faith in the principles of October and which is waiting for the time when it will be able to unite its revolutionary re-awakening with that of the international proletariat. This is the Russia of our anti-bourgeois struggle, the Russia of our unchanging revolutionary passion.

Onorato Damen

1About the publication of a book by the Smolny Publishing Edition : The Defence of the Proletarian Character of the October Revolution is still a class frontier ! (International Communist Bulletin 7).

2"In regards to these basics which define the socialist nature of a revolution, the October's one must be characterized as a confiscated socialist revolution. Actually, if the Bolshevik Party has unquestionably been at the vanguard of the international communist movement and has catalysed the revolutionary process in Russia, it is also proved that, since the insurrection, it has been progressively substituting the soviets by assuming the power in their place." (Preface to the publication in French of the texts of the review Komunist, editions Smolny, we underline.)

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