Manifesto of the International Circle of Antibolshevik Communists
The antibolshevik communists think that capitalism is currently in its historical stage of full decline. It has become clear over the last few decades that capitalism is no longer a progressive social system but that, in order to continue to exist, it needs to persistently, continuously and increasingly step up the degree of exploitation and oppression of the working class (considered in the broadest sense of the term). This trend is manifested in both the general forms of class exploitation and oppression as well as the particular forms—in terms of gender, nationality and culture—at the same time that the proletarianization of all sectors of social labor intensifies.1
The immense productive forces developed by capitalism are becoming more and more incompatible with the existence of society, to the point of threatening the life of humanity (unemployment, starvation, marginalization, resource wars) as well as all life on the planet.2
The workers of all countries are experiencing a trend towards a longer workday, the intensification of the rhythms of labor and a decrease in the buying power of their wages. The social conquests of the reformist era are being dismantled by a permanent offensive waged by capital, which is augmenting its power by furthering its integration with the political power of the State and by merging all the traditional workers organizations with the latter, to different degrees depending on their usefulness.
For its part, the old workers movement finds itself in a state of decomposition, maintained as an impotent puppet of capitalist power, submerging the proletariat in a dynamic of permanent defeat and the corresponding state of consciousness.
In order for our class to rise again and constitute itself as a conscious and organized subject, new practices of struggle are needed which will possess an effectively revolutionary content and orientation. These practices are now emerging in an embryonic form out of necessity and due to the conditions of the class struggle: wildcat and assembly movements, the nuclei that instigate these movements, and the small revolutionary groups that endeavor to consolidate and perfect these practices.
The antibolshevik communists are opposed to all reformist and pseudo-revolutionary ideologies and programs.
First of all, we are not fighting for the restoration of the so-called “Welfare State”, nor are we fighting to replace private enterprise capitalism with a form of total State Capitalism, concealed under the names of “socialism” and “planned economy under workers control”.
Secondly, the antibolshevik communists all share, as a basic point of departure, a complete and open rejection of bolshevism, along with all its well-known phraseology and political concepts, considering it to be a pseudo-revolutionary and semi-bourgeois ideology.
The Russian revolution of 1917 was, due to its social content, a bourgeois revolution rather than a proletarian revolution. The Bolshevik regime destroyed the workers councils and the workers democracy created by the Russian proletariat, and repressed the workers movement by means of a totalitarian bureaucratic-police dictatorship in order to impose its program of State Capitalism: concentrating all capital in the hands of the State, established as general capitalist, to accelerate and intensify the accumulation of surplus value on a vast scale—i.e., the exploitation of the proletariat.
The Russian Bolshevik regime and its imitators by no means brought about the emancipation of the proletariat in the countries under their rule, or progress in that direction, but an even more ironclad enslavement of the working class under capital, now in the hands of the “socialist” State.
The destruction on an international scale of all impulses or attempts to develop the working class as a conscious revolutionary force, in the name of the defense of the USSR or of “socialism”, was the necessary complement to this regime, for which the western “communist” parties served as tools.
The brutal distortion of Marxist theory and the proscription of anarchism, which had already begun with social democracy, reached its peak with the spread of “Marxism-Leninism”.
The antibolshevik communists do not subscribe to any ideology. We associate, first of all, on the basis of knowledge of the practical situation of the working class today, and of an understanding of that situation in the light of the equally practical goal of abolishing wage slavery.
Regardless of our affinity with one or another current of revolutionary thought (council communism, insurrectionary anarchism, etc.), the antibolshevik communists strive for a common activity and orientation that serve the necessary rebirth of the working class as revolutionary subject, and for the construction of a new workers movement capable of doing away with capitalism.
The antibolshevik communists struggle for a radical and total revolution that puts an end to society’s class divisions and their corollary, the State.
This is why we defend the democratic mass self-organization of the proletariat, as manifested in workers councils and assemblies, or in more advanced forms the class may create based on the same principle: class autonomy.
The struggle of the proletariat is simultaneously a struggle against capital, the State, and all forms of social relations and ideological consciousness that comprise bourgeois society; that is, against all the social institutions and elements that are part of capitalist and class-based exploitation and oppression.
There has never been and there never will be any such thing as a “proletarian State”, a “socialist State”, etc., in the usual meaning of the terms. The massive power of the working class, which at the same time represents the interests of the majority of society, is a State power only in the sense that it must destroy the capitalist relations of exploitation and domination. As a result, it must use violence to expropriate all the means of production and social wealth from the capitalists, and to prevent, by force if necessary, any attempt by the old ruling class to restore its material position, as well as any activity which, carried out by any social force (economic, political or ideological), incites the reestablishment of class division.
But it is the people in arms who must directly exercise this dictatorship against the capitalists, rather than a “workers government”. In the system of workers councils all the delegated political functions of the social organization will be exercised in rotation by the workers themselves, always subject to instructions from the base and revocable at any time.
The suppression of the State is therefore a process that begins with the radical destruction of the State, as that word is currently understood. This will be followed, once the classes and social inequalities inherited from capitalist society have disappeared, by the extinction of political power as such. Once this has taken place, with the free development of society on the premise that the free development of each is the precondition for the free development of all, the moment will arrive when even the simple formulation of laws will become superfluous: then, anarchy, as the supreme stage of human freedom, will have been achieved.
The antibolshevik communists see the development of working class autonomy, spurred by necessity, and maturing through struggles, as the key to the development of revolutionary class-consciousness.
It is not the spread of revolutionary theory, but the development of the individual and collective self-activity of the class—first with the spontaneous struggle, then with increasingly more cohesive organization—that impels the development of proletarian consciousness towards communism.
The real communist movement is the action of the proletariat when it has become aware of the necessity and the possibility of abolishing the capital relation and all class relations.
For all these reasons, the antibolshevik communists fight openly against all forces that set themselves in opposition to the development of workers autonomy, both at the practical level as well as on the plane of consciousness, and that act by discounting or distorting the class’s own spontaneous practice, sowing doubt in the class concerning its ability to transform society by its own efforts through mass action, placing obstacles in the path of its initiatives or attempting to appropriate its achievements for political gain.
Against these forces, which embody leadership politics, we defend a class politics.
In opposition to trade unionism and parliamentarism, we support the direct mass action of the class.
Against ideological indoctrination of all kinds and intellectual submission to leaders, we call upon all proletarians to think for themselves and to develop all their abilities as complete human beings.
Against any minority group’s aspirations to exercise political authority over the autonomous movement of the class, whether in the form of explicit subjection, or the form of an ideological or moral authority, we defend the self-direction of the class and we seek—to the extent of our abilities and as comrades—to assist all our proletarian brothers and sisters to become capable of this function (this training is part of the collective process of the maturation of the class).
The development of proletarian autonomy requires that we go beyond the traditional organizational forms of the workers movement.
The antibolshevik communists understand that the development of working class autonomy, that is, of the ability of the working class to act and to think in accordance with its own needs, is incompatible with traditional forms of organization, which arose from and for the purpose of the struggle for improvements within capitalism. Their practical methods of struggle and organization, and the theoretical conceptions which they represented and justified, have a reformist character, that is, they reproduce the capitalist social relations in which the proletariat as a whole comprises the ruled and governed masses, while a minority really decides its destiny and its living conditions. Such organizations therefore have a bourgeois character.
Trade unions and political parties such as they have existed until now—even those that ideologically define themselves as “revolutionary”—are organizations that are incapable of developing the self-activity of the proletariat to the level and to the extent necessary for bringing about the destruction of capitalist power and consciously transforming society in a communist sense. They have a tendency, to the contrary, to fully integrate themselves into the structure of capitalist society, especially into the State, due as much to the fact that they are obliged to do so by their revolutionary incapacity as to their natural bureaucratic tendency, determined by their structural characteristics and by their functional position within the logic of bourgeois society.
Currently, these forms of organization, transformed into extensions of the power of capital, or in the best cases offering an illusory alternative, are the principle obstacles impeding the advance of the working class by its own efforts. In fact, they serve as a base for the permanent offensive of capital, particularly for the destruction or recuperation of any attempt at serious opposition. And they do so all the more effectively the more they seem to oppose capitalism without, however, providing the working class, in practice, with any truly revolutionary orientation in its struggle.
Furthermore, precisely because it is by means of struggle that the energies and thought of the proletarians can be awakened and cultivated, the traditional organizations function as inhibitory factors with regard to the struggle and suppress the conscious initiative of the class, replacing them with negotiation and delegation,4 leading the working class into dead ends such as isolated struggles, fetishism concerning the magical virtues of assemblyism, the mystical cult of “combativity”, etc., wearing the class down until the latter is compelled to renounce any expectations in advance and thus accelerating the decomposition of class consciousness.
The antibolshevik communists think that the class war assumes its most immediate and concentrated form in wage labor, but that it involves all aspects of social life and therefore comprehends the entire spectrum of social struggles.5
Just as the rule of capital is total, the struggle of the proletariat must be a total struggle. Since the rule of capital over labor is the rule of a minority over the majority of society, the struggle of the proletariat cannot abolish this rule without spreading to all of society and representing the general interests of the majority, nor can it establish a higher form of society without making itself capable, through its own efforts, of destroying capitalism and reorganizing social life.
On the road leading to the defeat of capitalism, neither blind unity led by a minority, nor ignorance of the multiple fronts of the struggle, will avail. The revolutionary power of the proletariat can only transform itself into activity by way of a unity which is simultaneously conscious and multifarious, whose basis is the spiritual liberation of the workers from their habitual lifestyles and alienated thought—that is, from all the standards of conduct, ideas and conventions that pertain to class society.
Victory over capitalism will, first of all, have to be a spiritual victory, a development of the needs and abilities of working humanity beyond the limits imposed on it by capitalism. This will not happen without conflicts and tension, divisions and ruptures, but the latter are also necessary preconditions for all historical progress.
The development of the multiple particular subjects that integrate the proletariat, its struggles and its consciousness, its growth in both the consciousness of its specificity as well as general class consciousness, is what will create the conditions for building a truly unified and revolutionary class movement.
In order to achieve these objectives, the antibolshevik communists want to organize according to this same spirit of integral human liberation.
A free, open, non-ideologized group that is always based on discussion and not on adherence to a program, that strives to unite theoretical debate with practical critique, and in this way to make progress towards the necessary clarification of the struggle for proletarian revolution, its forms and its conditions.
This is the field on which all sincere revolutionaries, both those who lack any previous doctrinal or organizational links, as well as those who have been or are still members of groups and have a more defined political orientations, can really go beyond party loyalties and sectarianism and play an active role in the class struggle.
Moreover, we call for the cooperation of all those proletarians who agree with us in our general orientation, and issue an appeal to set aside differences over the precise details set forth in this text. Its purpose is to try to clarify and elaborate the general orientations in a more practical sense, and only represents the perspective of those who are now member of the ICAC.
The antibolshevik communists’ organizational proposal must not be considered as just another organizational proposal, formulated and propagated by a party.
It is, above all, a proposal for discussion, and it will be the circles among which it is distributed and debated that will determine whether it is fully accepted or not, just as the circles will themselves decide what kind of activities they will undertake.
More important than intellectual agreement is the passage through practice, which is what will cause those revolutionary groups that arise to mature and develop.
Furthermore, this proposal is unequivocally internationalist in spirit, since the motives for its production, the ideas that oriented it and the efforts to realize it, are common to the proletarians of all countries, regardless of the particular national situations.
The ICAC’s only purpose is to spread the ideas of antibolshevik communism; acceptance of its organizational proposal therefore by no means implies any obligation to establish links with the ICAC or with any other group that may be formed in the future. It will be the new groups themselves that will decide, based on their needs and perspectives, in such a way as to make possible, on the basis of common interests, the free construction of real international unity.
What general tasks do we suggest for the Circles of Debate and Action?
First, the development of their members as conscious revolutionaries, which also implies the effort to cultivate their development as well-rounded individuals.
Second, collective action at the level of the class to bring revolutionary ideas to the class struggles that will unfold in the future, taking positions and formulating orientations that are applicable to concrete situations. The means for achieving this could be a bulletin, or any kind of sporadic leaflet, or the organization of open assemblies to acquaint those proletarians who are interested in advancing their knowledge with the current state of society and how to change it with the Circles of Debate and Action.
Whether or not the proposal for revolutionary Circles of Debate and Action is implemented, collapses or prospers, will basically depend on the course taken by the class struggle. If we have decided to launch this proposal in the midst of such difficult conditions as we now face, this is due precisely to the fact that under these conditions it is all the more necessary, and also because it is a flexible form of organization which responds to the necessities of the period with which we are confronted: a period of general reorientation of the class movement and revolutionary regroupment.
Of course, we are not saying that the will of the conscious proletarians is of no account in achieving these goals. To the contrary. But the social training of these conscious proletarians is, in the last instance, a product of the class struggle itself.
Finally, it is only the extent to which the decline of capitalism becomes more profound and even more acute, to the point of making the simple survival of broad sectors of the working class unsustainable, that the conditions will be created for the development of a relevant revolutionary movement and for the development of the working class in a revolutionary sense on the basis of immediate struggles.
The least we can do is to clear the road towards the revolution!
Communism or Barbarism!
1. The working class, in the broadest sense of the term, includes all the male and female wage workers who have to sell their labor power in order to survive. It is not a homogeneous entity, but is divided into diverse layers in response to the capitalist organization of society. We thus have the type of wage labor specific to capitalism, which is industrial labor in the broadest sense of the term (which directly unites the production of use values and exchange value for the accumulation of capital), we have public wage labor which is not always directly or completely subject to the imperatives of capital valorization or competition, and we have wage labor that consists of command over the labor process, the purely bureaucratic and administrative functions, etc. We also have the division of the working class in the spheres of production, circulation and reproduction, in which we include—without thereby abolishing their differences—all those strata of the population that are linked to the working class in waged employment (students, housewives, the retired, etc.). All these divisions naturally have their consequences in the development of social action and consciousness, but this is a problem which does not affect the radical and objective antagonism which pits them, as masses, against capitalism (just as in the reductionist concept of the working class, individuals can move from one position to another, but not on a mass scale).
Furthermore, although the basis for capital accumulation lies in class exploitation, capitalism tends, by means of competition, to proletarianize more and more workers on its own account, as well as the stratum of wage labor whose function is to execute the exploitation and oppression of the proletariat—this stratum usually earns, as a result, higher wages and other privileges, developing a highly bourgeois mentality. It therefore causes these strata to lose more and more of their economic independence based on their ownership of the means of production, or their privileges within wage labor, making them receptive to the radical proletarian perspective, although the capitalist class also tries, on the other hand, to confront the proletariat with temporary concessions, especially at critical moments when the class struggle is ascendant or even during a revolutionary situation.
To conclude, these are sectors that do not have to consider themselves in general as part of the proletariat as a revolutionary class. From an economic and numerical point of view, its force is not relevant; wherever capitalism becomes the dominant mode of production, the working class in the broadest sense of the term constitutes the majority of the population without counting these latter sectors, not to speak of those countries where the capitalist mode of production is practically the only mode of production in existence.
2. This summarizes what Marx and Engels had already predicted more than a century and a half ago in The German Ideology and The Communist Manifesto: “And here it becomes evident, that the bourgeoisie is unfit any longer to be the ruling class in society. . . . because it is incompetent to assure an existence to its slave within his slavery, because it cannot help letting him sink into such a state, that it has to feed him, instead of being fed by him. . . . in other words, its existence is incompatible with society.” The reason for this is: “In the development of the productive forces a stage is reached where productive forces and means of exchange arise which, under the existing relations, can only be a source of evils, which are no longer so much productive forces as destructive forces (machinery and money)” (The German Ideology).
The contradiction between the development of the social productive forces and the form of social relations in which they are inscribed is not a new phenomenon, but “has already taken place repeatedly in previous history, but without endangering its own basis” (Ibid., our emphasis), that is, without directly threatening the development of society as a whole. This is not, of course, due to the nature of the productive forces themselves (particularly with regard to the nature of scientific-technical knowledge, apart from its application), but to the power and extension they have attained thanks to the capital relation itself.
Once the contradiction between the development of the productive forces and the capitalist relations of production reaches a critical stage, the destructive character of capital, which had previously been directed towards overcoming all the barriers to its global expansion, turns against itself—and consequently against society: “the universality towards which capital ceaselessly tends encounters immanent limits in its nature, which at a determinate stage of its development become the greatest obstacles to this tendency and push it towards self-destruction” (Marx, Grundrisse, Chapter on Capital). It is in this way that the productive forces are transformed into destructive forces (and social relations into anti-social relations). And what was previously a motor for development is transformed into an increasingly insurmountable obstacle to itself.
This tendency is coming to maturity in the present epoch. All the productive forces of society are becoming life-destroying forces. This includes labor itself, since labor power is now becoming a means for the absolute material and spiritual self-degradation of the proletarians. Alienated labor has become completely regressive economically, while its alienating character that transforms us into machines becomes more intense. The same thing is happening with free time; the development of the creative potential of individuals is joined with the spectacular-alienating character which already prevails in the form of leisure and art—this, too, is demonstrating a tendency to intensify. Likewise, this dimension of life is increasingly commodified and molded in the interests of capital, while activities outside of work, and creative activities, are increasingly removed in their form of full development from the needs and abilities of individuals (the spread of absolutely parasitic forms of spectacular leisure, the rise of tele-garbage, video games, reification, standardization and massive exploitation of the female body, etc.).
(It must also be pointed out that, if in capitalism leisure and art do not have a directly social character and usefulness, form the point of view of communism they have to be considered as quantitative and qualitative measures of the level of development of the social production of wealth, and their function in the development of the potential of individuals is of enormous importance from the point of view of the development of the revolutionary movement.)
The intensification of exploitation and the tendency towards the decomposition of the economic structure (in the form of restructuring, factory closures, etc.) also destroy family and community life, affecting interpersonal relations as well as general living conditions. This destruction also includes the pollution and collapse of natural ecosystems, which is no longer a generally transitory and remediable phenomenon over the medium term, but is increasingly irreversible.
To summarize: the totality of material and spiritual life is being destroyed under the overwhelming pressure of declining capitalism. Our very existence is endangered, while its continued degradation no longer even contributes to a relative degree of progress for humanity. On the contrary, it leads to the destruction of progress itself and of the social character of the productive forces, as is taking place with the monopolistic application of biotechnology and the production of armaments. With respect to all these matters, capital’s rule is materialized in the destruction of society.
3. What is regarded as Stalinism did nothing but consolidate the bureaucratic dictatorship installed by the bolsheviks.
4. Anarchosyndicalism is not exempt from this critique since it is still an organization of the trade union type in which membership is indiscriminate and the immediate interests of labor prevail. It is still, then, an association of proletarians as private owners of their labor power converted into a commodity. Its very existence is permitted by capitalism because it is contained within its legal framework and its activities are reduced, regardless of all ideological discourse, to the “assemblyist” negotiation over the price of labor power.
Negotiation as such, considered apart from trade union or political parliamentarism, is the universal juridical form of the social relation between private owners of commodities. In the negotiation over its working conditions, the proletariat acts as a private vendor of its labor power, even when it does so collectively. Its unity is an association of private individuals, not a real proletarian community; its action is not the action of the proletariat as autonomous subject, acting independently of bourgeois society. For this reason, even when there is no delegation, even if it is the assembly that debates directly with management, for example, or that at least makes the final decisions, even then the proletariat is still acting only as the seller of its labor power and not as the subject in rebellion against this class condition, against wage labor, against capitalism as such.
Negotiation as such is the elementary practical basis for any kind of trade unionism. As opposed to negotiation, the antibolshevik communists defend the struggle for the unilateral imposition of proletarian demands, or at least to make management yield sufficient concessions given the correlation of forces and taking into account the most immediate issues that caused the outbreak of the struggle. That is, we defend non-negotiation with capital and the State, and opt for radical class struggle. Obviously, this does not by any means abolish the juridical-mercantile dimension affecting labor relations in capitalism, but leaves them without any real effectiveness: the proletariat must not put its trust in the laws and agreements achieved in the struggle, it must not enter into any explicit or implicit compromises, it must stand firm in the awareness that all these things do not eliminate its total and radical antagonism to capitalism.
Obviously, when the proletariat is weak it is obliged to negotiate; it is not capable of unilaterally compelling the bourgeoisie to yield. As revolutionaries, however, we do not justify this situation, but direct the attention of the class to the means necessary for overcoming its weakness and incite it to put them into practice: spread the struggle, use more effective methods, better organization, unite the economic and political struggles, transform the struggle in a particular firm or sector into a general mass struggle, etc.
5. Of special importance, and traditionally considered to be “secondary”, is women’s struggle against their sexual exploitation and oppression in both household and wage labor. Female workers constitute half the working population and they have long been increasingly absorbed in wage labor, combining it with housework. The development of revolutionary class consciousness cannot disregard the struggle against sexual domination, since a real conscious and integral liberation of men and women is impossible without it.
From a more immediate point of view, this directly affects the development of proletarian women as conscious and active subjects in the struggle for the transformation of society, not only because the double alienation suffered by these proletarians makes this development spiritually more difficult, but also because the unequal social conditions experienced by women (primarily their lower individual economic incomes) and the reproduction of these gender relations in the workers movement itself, constitute material obstacles to its realization.
In order to make progress in the struggle against oppressive gender relations and so that this struggle may contribute to the development of the proletarian autonomous movement, it is necessary for the working class as a whole to recognize the transcendent importance of women’s struggle for their integral self-liberation, and that this struggle must be led by proletarian women in order for it to acquire a consistently anticapitalist revolutionary character. It is also necessary for the women themselves, and especially proletarian women, to autonomously take the initiative and direct this struggle, and if necessary to form their own separate organizations. This is because the male proletariat, as a sector plainly benefitted by the subaltern position of women in private and public spheres, privileged with the enjoyment of power, is only exceptionally capable of freeing itself from these gender relations by its own efforts while it remains under the alienating and limiting pressure of capitalism.
In reality, the exploitation of housework results in the creation of potential surplus value in the form of additional available labor time for the male worker, and reduces the price of labor power. On the other hand, there is the “gender-ization” of female wage labor, leading to an even greater intensification of the exploitation of women as wage slaves in comparison with men: speed-ups, wage reductions, the imposition of more onerous working conditions, etc., facilitated for capital by the greater impact of unemployment on women (often hidden), their greater submissiveness as a result of their double alienation, as well as tools such as departmental segregation, individual discrimination, etc.
Therefore, when proletarian men defend gender discrimination against women they are acting as agents of capital, as variable capital, and not as a class. For this reason the struggle for the transformation of the family is also a struggle that attacks capitalism, whose social organization is characterized by the separation of the sphere of production from the sphere of the reproduction of labor power, the public from the private, the social from the personal. This struggle is, of course, an inseparable part of the struggle of proletarian women, which must be actively taken up by the proletariat as a whole just like the consistent struggle against economic and political inequalities based on gender in the sphere of production.
Furthermore, women’s struggle for their liberation touches upon numerous aspects linked to the traditional form of the family and sexuality. With regard to these points, their struggle must build connecting bridges, in favor of the struggle for sexual freedom, with the movements that are part of the struggles of sexual diversity (gays, lesbians, transsexuals. . . .), against discrimination against them, which also must play their role in the complete dissolution of sexist ideology.