When we speak of a class front and army, we are of course referring to the proletariat class. This raises another key point that many of even our most attentive interlocutors find it particularly difficult to accept: they see the central role of the proletariat in the anti-capitalist battle as a reductive and outdated concept, whereas we reaffirm its importance.
They have two main arguments: a) the proletariat has far proved to be incapable of taking on the leadership of the exploited masses; and b) emancipation from capitalism does not concern a single class but humanity as a whole. We completely agree with this last point except for the fact that we do not see any opposition between the two terms because when the proletariat has been effectively itself (in its great theoretical tests, the Paris Comune, October1917 and – to a less intense and complete extent – in all of its most significant struggles, such as the struggle for the 8-hour day or that for the freedom of association), it has not only struggled for "itself" individually, but for an emancipation that is simultaneously individual and collective. It is true that not all of the "single" problems are immediately and in the first instance problems of the proletariat "as such"; but it is equally true that that all the problems facing us arise from the conflict between the social character of production and its private appropriation, and between profit and wage labour, and can be structurally incorporated in the conflict between the real producers of social wealth and the expropriators of such wealth. On the basis of this, the fulcrum of the conflict lies in the contrapposition of two specific antagonistic classes (the bourgeoisie and the proletariat) around which all of the specific "single" questions revolve.
Let us take the question of the environment. This obviously concerns the whole of society and goes "beyond" the proletariat alone (although only "ecologists" with the hide of a rhinoceros can forget that 200,000 members of the proletariat die every year as a result of the harmfulness of the environment of capitalist work, or even include them as polluters together with the sharks of capital). But to come straight to the heart of the problem, it is obvious that capitalism does not have any "oversight" to be corrected. From its point of view, there are no "clean" production processes to be privileged over their polluting counterparts, and so there is no (Kyoto or Toytown) protocoal that can oppose the pressure of a production method that considers the environment (like evertything else, particularlly in this age of biotechnology) as a source of the creation of profit: as much profit as possible and as quickly as possible. The environment is therefore certainly a problem affecting all of us, but also one that will remain unsolvable and is actually destined to worsen (do you need proof?) unless we cut the structural node determining it. However, this node (once again the system of capitalism) can only be cut by the one factor that is objectively antagonistic to capitalism: the struggle of the people who actually producer – and reproduce the labour force – for the benefit of profit. It is therefore the successful struggle of the proletarian masses against capitalist slavery that will emancipate all of humanity.
The magnificent world of the G8
The working hours of workers (and others)
While the average worker’s wages diminish in the West, despite all of the idle prattle of the Bertinotti (of the past) concerning the 35-hour week, average working hours are tending to increase and becoming ever more variable and intense.
More forced or "voluntary" overtime. Reduced work absentee rates. A forced or "voluntary" decrease in annual holidays. Fewer public holidays. A systematic reduction in dead times at work. A higher pensionable age. Longer travelling times to and from work. More moonlighting. An increase in dispersed and submerged production, generally in small production units that regularly flout contractual working hours …
The theft of the expropriation of the working time of workers and wage-earners by the capitalist vampire has reached its historical scientific peak – but of course has no intention of stopping here. This why, under the violent pressure of the IMF, even countries such as Argentina and Russia have reintroduced, or are discussing the reintroduction, of a legal working day that can be as long as 12 hours…
The struggle against global capital must incorporate in itself the struggle for a radical and generalised reduction in working hours throughout the world.
Social elements other than the proletariat (for example, young students – although we doubt that even these can be considered extraneous to the world of wage labour) may intuitively understand that there is something wrong with things as they stand, and give life to protests that may be even more vehement than those of which the "real" proletariat are capable at any given time: for example, the anti-nuclear protests in Germany. However, without denying anything of the value of such struggles (which we see and recognise as our own), unless the driving mechanism of the machine destroying the environment is attacked and broken, however radical such "partial" struggles may be, they are inexorably destined to fall short of their final goal.
We therefore do not claim the central position of the proletariat as it is today. How could we given that we want to see it strong and victorious, and therefore revolutionary? We are perhaps the first to remind it of its current political irrelevance. We are talking about the central position of the proletariat in its real and complete sense insofar as, during the course of its revolutionary maturation (as has already happened in the past, but with the aim of reaching even greater success), it must accept direct and conscious responsibility for all of the questions on the table, and insofar as social elements other than the proletariat must support and seek the support of the proletariat for the same end. It is only by fully re-establishing the relationship between the proletariat and the rest of humanity that we can defeat the capitalist monster that currently dominate us.
The same goes for all of the other questions, beginning with that concerning women which, not by chance, emerged and became consolidated on the historical scene as a liberation movement inside and alongside the proletariat, and not as a separate "gender-based" action. Its most significant recent developments, such as the Women’s March 2000, it is beginning to reconstitute itself on the basis of an albeit still insufficient criticism that goes beyond "sectorialism" and is attempting to grasp the social nexus that binds patriarchalism and capitalism; it is no accident that it is finding its greatest impetus in the countries in which the recovery of proletarian trade unionism and the participation of women within it is more active. The same thing can be said about the all too easily forgotten battle some years ago in Belgium against the plague of pedophilia, which had to and could raise its sights for a moment from its lowest level of petty criminals to its "occult" arch-criminal principals hidden in highest level of a totally corrupt State only when the Belgian proletariat added its weight to the scales; a battle that subsequently lost its drive because of the same proletariat’s ingenuous "disciplined return" to work. And isn’t it true that the first serious questioning of the official "truths" concerning AIDS, and all of the related structure of health terrorism and the medication of the poor – so profitable for trans-national capital’s interests of wealth and order – was only raised when a sector of the proletarian masses in South Africa, Brazil and India adopted and used the "opinions" of truly independent scientists as a class arm of anti-imperialist struggle?
We do not think it is necessary to complete the list. The multiplicity of the subjects and reasons involved in the protests of Seattle and elsewhere demonstrate the fact that globalised capitalism has oppressed and exploited a wide range of people who, for sometimes very different reasons, can no longer live with it. Their coming together represents potentially fertile ground not only because of the differences in their "initial" reasons for doing so, but above all because the convergence in a given physical and political place of previously isolated elements is a signal that they and others recognise the need for unity. However, this need can only be transformed into a real process of unification and consolidation of the front of all of the exploited only if it is based on the pole of the proletariat; a proletariat whose strength lies not only on the fact that it is the production class whose shoulders support the entire social structure, but which can be re-magnetised by means of the integral reconquest of its programme and its most genuine spirit of struggle, and the finally re-organised in its communist party.
This "investiture" of the proletariat as the central axis of the antagonism against capitalism was not conferred by Marx and subsequently confirmed by our Organizzazione Comunista Internazionalista, but by its anti-capitalist history, the history of the workers’ Internationals, the history -we repeat- of the Paris Comune, October 1917, and the attempted and almost successful revolutions in Germany, Hungary and Italy, the history of the participation of the young coloured proletariat in all of the major anti-colonial uprisings. It has been conferred and continuously confirmed by capital itself (marxists simply recognise the fact and draw all of the practical conclusions): the same capitalism which, by means of its G8 functionaries, is not by chance doing everything possible and impossible to keep the proletariat (despite their contnuing slumberous state!) far from the temptations of Genoa – because it has not forgotten the "sudden awakening" of July 1960 and has recently seen the strength of the reaction of the Ilva workers…
If all of this is true, the central position of the globalised proletariat reorganised "as a class and therefore as a party" in the struggle against globalised capitalism is anything but reductive. On the contrary, it is one of the fundamental conditions for the fully centralised (and therefore most effective) expression of all of the "individual" instances and struggles for emancipation: its "own" immediate struggles, as well as those involving humanity as a whole and therefore itself in the front line.