Inflation of the State (XXVI)
An achievement as clear and solid in the theoretical and political field as the settlement of the question of the state in Marx Engels and Lenin - so much so that in the post-war period it seemed that the revolutionary communist movement had to work on questions of organisation and tactics, but never again on questions of the programme - is seriously compromised when one can afford to call oneself an exponent of Marxist and Leninist parties those who conceive and propose in the national field a programmatic agreement with the bourgeois parties on the level of the "constitution"; on the international level, a historical and social collaboration between "proletarian" States and capitalist States.
Our basic texts do, first of all, justice to the vision of the State, which is inherent in the theocratic and authoritarian conceptions, and their own views of the immanentist democratic-bourgeoisie.
Both systems set the goal of the whole race of thought and history the building of the perfect and eternal State.
In the Old Testament which is still dogmatically accepted by churches prevailing in much of the advanced world, the Eternal Father himself is mobilised to dictate to Moses a true and proper Constitution for the chosen people in all its details. In the organic nature of this church system, justice, State and army form one, they even track the statistics and administrative division of the geographically defined territory, as well as the rules for putting the former occupants to the sword if they do not decide to evacuate it. Then Christianity will come to extend the boundaries of the chosen people to all of humanity, to distinguish the city of God from the city of Caesar, the priestly hierarchy from the military hierarchy, while being careful, however, not to deny the rules of authority, domination and extermination established by the first and greatest of the prophets.
In the new systems of modern critical bourgeois thought, the dogma and authority of revelation are shaken, but among many myths, the state remains intact and even more obsessive. From Luther to Hegel, from Hobbes to Robespierre the definitions of the new Leviathan rise, which Marx Engels Lenin will come to mock by stripping away and demolishing: "reality of the moral idea" - "image and reality of reason" - "realisation of the Idea", sentences that Lenin assimilates to that of "Kingdom of God on earth" in the repeated violent attacks on the ignoble "superstition of the State".
"The state … is a product of society at a certain stage of its development" (Engels). The State appears when society is divided into economically antagonistic classes, when class struggle appears. "The state is nothing more than a machine for the oppression of one class by another" (Marx).
In all capitalist countries, anywhere in the world and at any time in their history, since there can be no capitalism without class struggle, this machine is present, and has the same function of exercising the "dictatorship of the bourgeoisie" (Lenin) both in the monarchy and in the most democratic of the Republics (Marx).
Let's say once again that in this construction of ours the state of the capitalist bourgeoisie is not the last state machine in history (as the anarchists want us to think). The working class cannot "use" it (as all the reformists and opportunists claim), it must "smash" it, and must build a new state in the revolutionary dictatorship of the proletariat.
This workers' state, dialectically opposed to the capitalist state, will go, in the course of building the communist economy, by dissolving, deflating, deteriorating, until it disappears.
Let us now return to the historical process of development of the current and concrete capitalist state to examine its historical course, while waiting for, according to the Marxist vision, its burial and subsequently also the burial of the state without adjectives.
The capitalist state, under our very eyes of a generation torn apart by three bourgeois peaces straddling two universal imperialist wars, frighteningly swells, takes on the proportions of Moloch, a devourer of immolated victims, of the Leviathan with its belly swollen with treasures crushing billions of living. If one could really as in the exercises of philosophical speculation tailor the Individual, Society, Humanity, the whole horizon of these innocent beings would be invaded during their sleep by the State Incubus.
Of this frightening monster we (who in our revolutionary state foresee the gradual dissolution, the Auflösung), we expect on the contrary from storm to storm, the Sprengung expected by Marx, the terrible but luminous Explosion.
Our demand is therefore not to ask it to soften, reduce and restore itself to a human "line", but to hasten, under the pressure of its inexorable internal laws and the class hatred they generate, the completion of its horrible swelling.
The inflation of the State in the modern world has two directions, the social and geographical, territorial. They are intimately connected. The second is fundamental. State and territory were born together. Engels in The Origin of Family, Private Property and State says in fact: as distinct from the old gentile order, the state, first, divides its subjects according to territory.
This applies to the ancient state, for the feudal one, for the modern one. If Moses dictatorially gave each of the twelve tribes a precise and boundless province of the promised land of Israel, if the Popes and Emperors invested the medieval Lords of Terre and Vassalli, the modern civil and democratic states of today sort masses of population among the territories like herds of cattle, they are handled like stocks of mad commodities, of prisoners of war, of political internees, of invading fugitives, of landless refugees, migrant proletarians; the Peplos of Liberty to which incense burns is now woven with barbed wire.
As for the extension of territory, the ancient world presents us with small state units reduced to the city and large empires derived from military conquests, The Middle Ages show us small autonomous municipalities and large state complexes. The capitalist world offers, instead, the decidedly uninterrupted concentration on immense extensions of state units, and the increasingly total domination of the great over the small.
This process is entirely parallel to the increase in interference by the state machine in all phases of the lives of the populations it dominates, to the spread of such influence from the political sphere, of police, juridical, always more explicitly and suffocatingly to the social, economic and physical.
Already in State and Revolution (Chap. II section 2) Lenin gives of this internal process a decisive analysis referred to all the countries of Europe and America, and especially to the more parliamentary and republican.
"Imperialism-the era of bank capital, the era of gigantic capitalist monopolies, of the development of monopoly capitalism into state-monopoly capitalism-has clearly shown an unprecedented growth in its bureaucratic and military apparatus in connection with the intensification of repressive measures against the proletariat both in the monarchical and in the freest, republican countries".
Words written in 1917.
The substantial lie of the juridical and political construction proper to the dominant bourgeoisie can only be highlighted by recalling the presentation of the two world wars as struggles for the demands of autonomy and freedom of individuals, of ethnic and national groups, of small states in their unlimited sovereignty. Instead, they were gigantic and bloody stages in the concentration of state power and capitalist domination.
In the theory of bourgeois law, as the individual is protected by a series of illusory prerogatives in the face of public power, namely the right to think, speak, write, associate, vote, in any direction - but not to eat! The hungry could choose the table where the selfless body of the Solons sits! - so it is claimed that within its territorial boundaries, to travel them ten or ten thousand kilometres, every state is sovereign and can administer itself as it wishes.
But already in the rosy and mother-of-pearl painting of the late nineteenth century there was a distinction between Great and Small Powers. Leaving aside America that "did not do foreign policy" in Europe, there were six of them, England beautifully alone, Russia and France in the Double Alliance, Germany, Austria-Hungary and Italy in the Triple. In the East, Japan's aspiration to control Asia was growing, as already the false Malthusian North America spread its hegemony over that of the Central South. From time to time history had already reduced to the rank of ex-powers Sweden, Spain, Portugal, Netherlands, Turkey…
To hear the chatter, war broke out not because the strongest capitalist states were hungry for larger empires and markets, but because the sovereignty of a small free state, Serbia, had been offended by the arrogance of the despotic empire of Vienna.
The defeat of the Germans eliminated two world powers and the Russian Revolution put a third one out of the equation.
The enormous liberal lie proclaimed to the four winds the self-determination of the small nationalities and the liberation of the oppressed people. The five large victorious military states allowed the birth, apparently of small new powers, more or less historic, in old Europe, not giving up, however, a square kilometre of their own empires on people of the most varied language and colour. Poland, Czechoslovakia, Croatia and Slovenia (joined with Serbia), Albania, Finland, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania were constituted in "sovereign" states.
In fact, this whole pleiad of small states, united with traditional states because of the aims and characteristics of the modern organisation of world production and market, only served to form satellite constellations for the hegemonies that were trying to be born. France and England competed in this field by dividing Central Eastern Europe into spheres of influence, agreeing nevertheless to attack the proletarian Russia of the time; even Italy competed with the success we know, while the United States in the West and Japan in the East continued to expand the visible and invisible limits of their domination.
On the eve of the Second World War, it was already clear, both for the further monopolistic evolution of big capitalism, both for that of military technology which increasingly required masses of formidable economic means, that any state with a few million inhabitants could not exercise any diplomatic or military economic autonomy and had to put itself in the orbit and in the awe of a greater one. Meanwhile, Germany rose again and, following the general historical law - not inventing it as one would have the eyes believe - it reabsorbed the remaining pieces of the dissolved Austro-Hungarian Empire (which, by the way, if it had the worst literature it also had the best serious and most honest contemporary administration). Russia, carrying out a historical cycle of the greatest interest starting with the demand for national autonomy in the midst of the struggle between the old and new regimes, in turn settled into a powerful unitary state complex.
It was so clear that in the new diplomatic and military game, only the big state beasts would matter, who were the only ones able to rely on appreciable forces in a war, especially a naval and air war, long, cumbersome, costly to prepare, and requiring not only immense capital but also great geographical distances between bases and political borders. The densely populated countries know a little about this, which is that they also have, with a lot of population and maybe wealth, relative small extension. Also among the "great powers" of yesterday Germany, England, France Italy, Japan, with varying political outcomes, have been subjected to tremendous military beatings.
Even this war of more ferocious domination and concentration of destructive power was presented as a call for freedom and sovereignty offended by the bullies of the "little ones" of history. It was started to prevent Hitler from overwhelming free Poland, fresh from the reattachment with democratic glue of three historical pieces. It was immediately broken in two and divided between the two giants that flanked it. Once one of the two disappeared, it is again in a single piece in the service of a single master. The worst fate for a romantic, generous, civilised and free nation with a capital N is this one of today, the "division into one".
The truly surviving states are those that have won in the unbridled race for territorial inflation. It began very early, without giving up the daily litany of freedom, to talk about the Greats. Were they Three, Four, Two or Five? It doesn't matter much. There were at least eight of them at the start of the war.
The true Greats are those who, to the vastness of their own territory and to the numerous population (for the effect of this data must be followed by China, where a truly great State of a modern capitalist type would arise despite the deep social hybridism) add a vast constellation of Satellites, left to play with the fiction of Sovereignty, while their managerial staff is increasingly drunk, corrupt and bought in the tea and cocaine houses that are the big international conferences and political councils.
Italy has fallen into the most vile of satellites, Great Britain and France will see if they are satisfied with the place of first Lord and first Lady in the American Constellation. On the other hand, there is the Russian Constellation, struggling with some undisciplined planet that would like to jump out of the sphere of primitive attraction.
The Great Monsters are thus reduced to two in essence. Will they go towards unification by the means of Peace or by the means of War? It will be tremendous in both cases. But it will be just as terrible as for the third time, after each one devoured half the large and small zoological species of the earth's political map, will attack each other accusing themselves of wanting to devour the sacred freedom of the last mouse.
Battaglia Comunista, No. 38, 5-12 October 1949
Translation by Libri Incogniti