Socialists and Constitutions (XXXII)
Statutory charters are one of the characteristics of the foundation of the various bourgeois regimes, constitutional superstition and fetishism an invariable feature of bourgeois politics.
The old pre-bourgeois regimes, even the most distant ones, had their tables, but the sceptical bourgeois made fun of them because they were based on the revelation of the prophets and on the principle of the divine origin of power. On the contrary, the capitalist class, the bearer of truth, reason and science, based its historical documents on the pretence of having finally discovered the eternal foundations of natural law, and disguised under bombastic liberal doctrines the contraband as a safeguard for its economic interests.
The diverse systems and relationships of law and public organisation, which are based on the stability of declarations, charters and constitutions, are not guarantees for Man, the Citizen or the Subject strangely transformed into a sovereign by these pieces of paper (so that he no longer knows where he is, above or below), but they represent guarantees for the continuity of the domination conquered by the bourgeois, for the security of private property and the order based on it.
The whole mass of the other non-possessing and non-capitalist social strata must not only rejoice and enjoy these conquests, must not only confirm in the electoral consultations the sovereignty delegated to the satraps of bourgeois economy, but must also be ready to fight to the last drop of blood if anyone, from wherever they come, made it appear that one of the guarantees that the constitution provides was being threatened, to tear up some part of the sacred paper.
The French bourgeoisie, haunted by the return of the former nobles, priests and king in an attempt to regain the privileges it had taken from them, not only formed armies to defend its power in the state police, but also wanted a guard, naturally national, and as Marx said, it was formed by the shopkeepers of Paris. But this is not enough: if the Sun King was satisfied with a few musketeers, the sovereign capital needs larger forces, and even industrial workers are invited to form a bourgeois Guard of Liberty.
One of the ineffable bards of the shopkeepers' revolution, Victor Hugo, said that the gun in the hands of the worker is the guarantee of freedom. It is a great honour for the proletarian class to be called upon, whenever capital feels the ground burning its feet, to fight to defend the free constitution of the state.
Jacobinism henceforth out of fashion, history and literature a century later? If only it were so! But degenerate right-wing socialism, a lover of blocs and alliances, is fuelled by this content: to consider the working class as a reserve for fighting bourgeois statutory legality. All that's left is to sing the silly ritornello: And we're still here...
Old moustached uncles from the time of Pelloux who, in the repression of popular movements, had violated constitutional laws, although they were nourished by the precepts of the British Liberal Arch and the wisdom of Gladstone and Disraeli, while being proud Conservatives, were in horror that the government could support: "with the majority of the House, you can violate the constitution". Then everyone rejoiced as they said: "the far left has called these violations heresies!" There was no need for Marxism, only a junior high school education was needed, to say to oneself: this extreme left must be extremely stupid!
In his early writings of 1842, Marx analysed the American and French Declarations of Rights and already stressed that they guarantee above all the security of property and the affairs of the wealthy class. Then, in the 1859 preface to "A Contribution to the Critique of Political Economy", he himself described the development of his research. He had studied law at university but had been mainly involved in history and philosophy. By writing in "Rheinische Zeitung", he was led to study economic issues, and at the same time, he found himself in contact with socialist and communist currents with a vaguely ideological basis. This did not yet lead him to an in-depth study of economics, but to a complete critique and revision of Hegel's "Philosophy of Right". And we find hammered a first conclusion (obviously, hammers are not even enough for the heads of entire generations of "socialists"): "... legal relations nor political forms could be comprehended whether by themselves or on the basis of a so-called general development of the human mind, but that on the contrary they originate in the material conditions of life...".
It is immediately after that that we find the magnificent and well-known synthesis of the method of historical materialism which concludes that the transient character of the system of bourgeois production and all its legal superstructures, and thus the direct consequence that the proletarian class, living in an antagonistic society, must not fight for the defence but for the destruction of its forms of production.
Constitutional charters are only one of those bourgeois "forms of production" that will be swept away by the proletarian revolution.
Always quoting that Marx and pretending that only he knew these things! These are indeed things so obvious to the militants of socialism and the proletarian cause, things that have been beaten and reworked by everyday social experience, that we could perfectly do without quoting Monsieur Marx Karl, or changing his name, indicating him with a simple symbol or relating these beautiful enunciations as if his paternity was that of "father Machin". However, they would still be true and obvious. If the man named Marx had not only not been born but if his books had also been lost, the mange-tout of the bourgeoisie and their multiform boot shiners would have had, throughout history, the same problems, and they will have, without having to "ipse dixit" and without making reservations about the ever-growing will of God and of the people. On the other hand, for all we know, Marx was neither pretentious nor cumbersome, he neither asked for nor even obtained a knight's cross, the smallest crumb at meals - and what appetites! - of power. Dr. Marx considered himself, with his diplomas and his studies carried out with the sweat of his brow throughout his life, in line with the words of the manifesto: "in times when the class struggle nears the decisive hour, the progress of dissolution going on within the ruling class, in fact within the whole range of old society, assumes such a violent, glaring character, that a small section of the ruling class cuts itself adrift, and joins the revolutionary class, the class that holds the future in its hands". Nothing more than a symptom, an experimental confirmation of the law studied; a symptom, not only him but also the wealthy trader Friedrich Engels who provided him with some shillings to buy potatoes for dinner in London's pantagruelian market. For materialism, there are no more Heroes, and, to the great displeasure of all life's poetry, a few deserters take their place. As host of Free England, he gratefully described it in the way that everyone knows it; and it did not even serve him well to obtain a position as a minister in puppet governments or to be admitted to the receptions of the Exiles and Refugees of the bourgeois and patriotic revolutions. Finally, it was of an intractable nature, he didn't care as much as a Kuusinen to be quoted and published .
We could therefore not mention the name in question and pass off as our own these words that he handled so well, especially since we do not bring them to the market since copyright has no value for the heirs.
But the fact is that we are, by our small number, surrounded, drowned and totally lost in a multitude, in a flood, in a flood of people who declare themselves Marxists and who dedicate themselves, tiring themselves and devoting themselves for years and years and in all the countries of the world to say and do the opposite of what Marx thought and wrote.
If then Marx's authority should not count since it is obvious that no conclusion can be based on the authority of texts, we would at least like this whole disgusting band to forget this name and get rid once and for all of the theories, writings and traditions that are related to Marx's work. Call him an outdated and even an idiot, you have the faculty to do so; but you do not have the faculty to betray him blatantly and falsify him ten times a day for purposes contrary to those to which he devoted his work and his life.
The bourgeois journalistic profession, to name but one of a hundred, used the adjective "Marxist" to designate the shapeless group of all those who fought against Franco in the tragic Spanish civil war: Trotskyists, Stalinists, social democrats, also crammed into the same libertarian basket, trade unionists and bourgeois radicals. In Italy, in Montecitorio's carnival , if we put the motion to the vote: we are Marxists, the absolute majority would be certain with the positive voting instructions of Togliatti, Nenni, Saragat, Romita, Silone, the recent recruit Lussu and various low-ranking auxiliaries whose names are beyond our grasp.
How many do we have? It's quick: none.
What shocks us is not only the claim of all these people to be Marxists, but also the publicity that the mainstream "anti-Marxist" press makes of them by mutual agreement. When the latter wants to highlight its horror at seeing the slightest dollar allocated to the extreme pro-Moscow wing, it debits and sends at full throttle the title of pure Marxism, orthodox Marxism, intransigent Marxism.
It thus accredits these parties to the working masses by playing their part, they who have an interest in covering themselves with the great shadows of Marx and Lenin. It agrees to define with this other new and harmonic term of deviationism the disagreement that figures like Tito; like the Pasionaria have with the centre of the Cominform. And on the other hand, the tolerance that this centre has shown for years and years for figures, positions and activities such as those, truly, in a grossly bourgeois, patriotard and Hugolian style, is only further proof of its betrayal of Marxism, of deviationism extending over the whole horizon on the part of the Stalinist movement which, as a whole, has consumed until damnation the sin of military nationalism and alliance with Western capitalism. That the Titos and Pasionaras, figures outside Marxism since their birth, can be examples of deviation from a line they have never had, therefore makes us laugh, as would their willingness to ennoble their disagreement with their bosses of yesterday by pretending to have a left-wing sensitivity towards Stalinist degeneration would make us laugh even more.
All this brings us back to the question that a function of defending the constitution is the reversal of what the Marxist party should do, and that it is still under this aspect that the epidemic of opportunistic treason has broken out.
The evil, treated with a red iron by Vladimir Lenin, originated in the din of global indignation caused by the words of the German Chancellor Bethmann-Hollweg: "the treaties are only pieces of paper", about the passage of Germanic troops through "small Belgium", whose neutrality was guaranteed in an international treaty. Instead of acknowledging the accuracy of the Marxist thesis that brute force is the basis of law, the Socialists hastened to accuse the German regime of being feudal and pre-bourgeois. They were touched in Italy, for example - not all interventionist socialists, fortunately - by Salandra's words in response: "I, a modest bourgeois, observe the Count Bethmann-Hollweg...". On both sides, ruffians!
In all the questions concerning proletarian and socialist action, discussed in various developments, the problem has arisen as follows. Those on the right who opposed revolutionary initiative and violence in order to overthrow or attempt to undermine bourgeois domination, instead claimed street action, the use of weapons, revolt in the event that governments acted outside constitutional rules. In this way, we recognise the one who betrays Marxism, namely through the brazenness with which, after having eliminated violence as a means of autonomous proletarian action, he accepts it and invokes it when the workers must assume this function of defending the guarantees instituted by the bourgeois and liberal regime. They are therefore below, because they are much more defeatist, supporters of a pacifist socialism on all fronts, such as Fabian, Christianising, or Gandhist and Tolstoyan socialisms. And it is this historical position that has characterised the antifascist campaign, a real shipwreck of classist traditions in Italy. As long as the fascists destroyed the communist sections and the Camere del Lavoro and thus consolidated the guarantees of bourgeois conservation, liberal democrats and social democrats would have more and more willingly adapted to be part of the new spiral. But the whole scandal was that fascism allowed itself to tear up the Albertine statute .... Hence the great bourgeois-proletarian bloc that dialectically carried out the Mussolini programme: to liberate the Italian ruling class from an extremist movement turned towards the struggle to take power from it.
And are we not witnessing today the umpteenth performance of this low comedy when De Gasperi is accused of violating the Constitution? Is this not the content of all the oppositional manoeuvres of the "Unità", of the "Avanti"? Defense of a beautiful (...) republic and a demo-social-communal-christian virgin constitution, born violated, born in need of this regulated regime of house that Senator Merlin wants to abolish .
A whole parliamentary battle devoted to this pitiful theme: does the appointment of two or three ministers represent a violation of orthodox parliamentary standards and the articles of the Constitution? The reason for this is that it is used for the supreme purpose of hastening the next electoral ruckus, in the hope, with no way out, of wresting the majority and power from De Gasperi. And in exchange for this advantage, which is completely illusory even for the lowest directly partisan purposes, the Italian bourgeoisie is given the infinite service of accrediting in the masses the conviction that by proceeding within the framework of the current constitution, everything can be achieved by the progressive way with regard to the interests and aspirations of the workers. They therefore have no need for means that do not respect legality.
But if the status of the republic were threatened, then of course the law-abiding movement would suddenly become insurrectional and the workers would be called upon to fight. To fight as partisans, again and again, for the guarantees that the bourgeois class has instituted as an instrument of its domination, not only against the feudal past, a spectre now vanished, but also and above all against the revolutionary future, against the spectre of communism that was born a century ago and has become a reality, and is an armed reality.
How many threats and instructions did Pietro Nenni not address to the Italian government, insulting it for the submission of national capital to foreign capital, as if the exploitation of national capital was not a class exploitation for workers, as if, without the war investments of foreign capital, Mr. Nenni could have crossed once again the borders of Italy and the threshold of parliament.
When a type like Nenni talks about Marxism, it sounds like you hear the gloomy echo of the thief's footsteps on the floor of the house that has been robbed.
 Kuusinen: leader of the Second International, leader of the Finnish Social Democratic Party, main leader of the short-lived Finnish revolutionary government, one of the founders of the Finnish Communist Party, loyal Stalinist until his death in 1964.
 Montecitorio's carnival barracks: this is the seat of the Italian Chamber of Deputies.
 Italian: "Chambers of Labour"; local trade union organisations.
 Albertine statute: it is the one written by Charles-Albert of Savoy, father of Victor-Emmanuel II. This statute appeared on 5/3/1848 and was essentially liberal; shortly after Charles-Albert declared war on Austria and abdicated in favour of his son Victor-Emmanuel II (first war of Italian independence). This statute was the basis of pre-fascist Italy.
 Senator Merlin was the one who shut down brothels in Italy in the late 1950s.
Battaglia Comunista No. 44, 23-30 November 1949
Translation by Libri Incogniti