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The invitation to our foreign correspondents to take part in our National Assembly against federalism and secessionism did not go unanswered. However, the replies cannot be considered signs of real international attention in the face of this burning question. Nor can we hide the fact that they reflected positions that are very distant from our own.
Nevertheless, as they and other comrades have asked to receive information and our reflections concerning the Assembly, we have decided to publish the letter sent to our foreign correspondents immediately after the event.

To our foreign correspondents

Dear Comrades,

Our announced National Assembly "against federalism and secessionism" took place in Milan on 17 May 1997.
In addition to our own members, it was attended by some comrades from other organisations and a number of individual militants. Of considerable significance were the contributions made by a Yugoslavian comrade now resident in Italy, and an immigrant from Morocco, who forcefully underlined the need to unify the workers’ front against the imperialist oppression that has not only destroyed Yugoslavia, but also forces the workers of Africa to emigrate to Europe where they constitute a reserve industrial army that capitalism can use to increase its exploitation of the European proletariat.

Both intervened as a result of some work they had previously done with OCI, and not as representatives of any particular organisation.

For the rest, despite a certain interest shown by some of our foreign correspondents, neither the presence of militants from outside OCI, nor their participation in the debate, were adequate to confront the problems that the Italian and international proletariat have to face as a result of the growing attack of capitalism throughout the world and the risk of secession in Italy.

This confirms the fact that neither the "left wing" (be it reformist or "revolutionary") nor proletarian militants understand that secession is a real risk or the the developing secessionist and federalist process is essentially anti-proletarian. Furthermore, there is a lack of any real alarm at the fact that the Lega Nord (Northern League) and its secessionist policy is steadily gaining ground among the working class.

A number of factors come together in determining this attitude.

The most important is reformism itself. Long decades of relative social peace between the proletariat and the bourgeoisie have led to a deep-rooted conviction that class compromise is always possible, and that any radical and violent disruption - such as secession - is completely impossible.

This this incredulty is common to both reformists and "revolutionaries", because even the latter are blind to the signs of rupture that are profoundly affecting all classes. This is perhaps due to the fact that these signs are not the same as those of previous historical phases in which class conflict came to a head - or perhaps simply because they do reflect subjective desires.

But when the time comes at which this illusion of the infinite possibility of compromise will have to be abandoned, when secession (or the fragmentation of the country) will have opened the eyes of even the most incredulous, all of the dead wood thrust upon the shoulders of the proletariat by reformism (whose current socio-liberal leanings are nothing other than the inevitable evolution of its solidly Stalinist past) will continue to make its weight felt.

The heaviest of these petrified logs is the question of the State. When they hear the threat of secession, those members of the proletariat who have not already been won over by the Lega Nord are induced by their reformist conscience to respond by establishing the objective of saving the unity of the State and, by doing so, put the unity and strength of the main instrument of the bourgeois dictatorship before the unity of their own class.

Those members of the proletariat who are beginning to become aware of the danger of secession incline to support the demand of reformists to use the repressive powers of the State against the secessionists. There are only a few of them at the moment but, as the conflict heightens, the potential scenario is one of a divided proletariat: on the one hand, those who are ready to fight to preserve the unity of the State (mainly the workers from Southern Italy and those who are most State-dependent) and, on the other, those who are willing to destroy the the unity of what they recognise as being a parasitic and oppressive State in order to defend their own immediate class interests (wages, the welfare state, employment).

This last element is one of the main factors driving the proletariat into the arms of the Lega Nord: the awareness that the State is an apparatus of command that maintains itself by robbing the wages of the proletariat in order to be able to support a series of parasitic classes and large-scale capital. However, this anti-State class consciousness has adopted a secessionist path that leads not to the establishment of a society based upon the dictatorship of the proletariat (the only class that is truly capable of dismantling the State), but simply to yet another, if smaller capitalist state. And the fact that this State is smaller - and therefore less able to defend itself against international capital - means that it will become all the more parasitic and oppressive in its relations with the working class, as has bee clearly demonstrated by the experience of Slovenia and Croatia.

In order to free itself from secessionist influences, and avoid a war between different elements of its own class lined up behind various bourgeois fronts, the proletariat must abandon all of the old reformist trappings that have led to its increasing submission to capital, and fight to regain its class unity and the autonomy of its immediate and historical interests.

Class unity and independence: these are the battles for which communists must be prepared to devote all of their energies and commitment, and these are the themes that our Assembly has brought back into the centre of the stage - beginning with the fundamental battle for international unity, of which we are now seeing the first interesting signs (from the struggle of the Korean workers, to that of the Liverpool dockers and the Renault workers, to the European March for Work in Amsterdam on 14 June 1997).

But this first manifestation of a drive towards international unity in the struggle is destined to fade if it is left in the hands of the reformists, who can do nothing but lead it back to new sources of disgregation based on nationalist, localist or company logics and/or towards a "European chauvinism" with an anti-USA and anti-Third World basis.

This makes it all the more urgent to ensure the emergence of a proletarian vanguard that is capable of undermining the reformist approach - a vanguard in which communists must become the lynch-pins of a programmed and principled orientation towards political and trade union initiatives.

The growing crisis of world capitalism, and its writhingly desperate attempts to escape its destiny (globalisation, its attack against the oppressed masses of the Third World, and that against the metropolitan proletariat), are preparing the ground for a phase of enormous economic, social and political turmoil that will put the "capitalism or communism" alternative back on the agenda. And communists must not abandon even one of their fields of battle: theoretical, political, trade union or organisational.

We of the OCI are heavily committed in this direction.
And we call upon the commitment of all sincere revolutionaries throughout the world towards the same goal.

June 1997

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