Archive for the ‘Mario Tronti’ Category

Workerism and Politics

Posted: August 30, 2012 in Mario Tronti


TrontiOperaiCapitale72Below is the list of contents in Mario Tronti’s Workers and Capital. I thought it would be a good idea to translate it and post links to the available translated sections of this book. I made a few (very) brief comments on the incomplete translation of “The Struggle Against Labour” as well as the context of the second part of the book which you can read here.

Introduction: The Path to Follow/The Course of Action (1966)

Initial Hypotheses: 

Marx Yesterday and Today (1962)

The Factory and Society (1962)

The Plan of Capital/Social Capital (1963)

Lenin in England (1964)

Old Tactic for a New Strategy (1964)

1905 in Italy(1964)

Class and Party (1964)

Initial Theses

Marx, Labour-Power, Working Class (1965)


1.Hegel and Ricardo

2.The Exchange of Money-Labour

3.Critique of Ideology

4. Cursed June!

5. The particularity of the commodity labour-power

6.Productive labour

7.What is the Proletariat

8.The Forms of Struggle

9. The Worker as Not-Capital

10.The Slogan ‘value of labour’

11.The Class

12.The Strategy of Refusal

13. Tactics-Organization

14. Struggle against Labour!

Post-Script of Problems (Workers and Capital) (1970)

Piece from the edited book Operaismo e centralita edited by D’Agostini, Editori Riuniti 1978. In Italian

1.Operaismo e centralita operaia Mario Tronti

2Operaismo e centralita operaia tesi preliminari Mario Tronti

Marx Yesterday and Today

Posted: April 29, 2011 in Mario Tronti

Marx Yesterday and Today Mario Tronti 1962

“We cannot stop accepting today the fundamental Marxist affirmations, in the same way that a serious physicist cannot stop being Newtonian, with the difference, among others, that in the camp of sociology there needs to pass numerous generations before an Einstein can emerge. This figure will not emerge until the work of Marx has bared all its historical fruit.” This was the conclusion that Rudolf Schlesinger reached after he worked through Marx’s thought as well as the whole historical period marked by him. It is important to note this conclusion in order to advance a few initial comments- working hypothesis with the purpose of their deepening and verifying.

And, before anything else, a premise: a project which seeks to take on the discourse of the contemporary validity of a few fundamental Marxist affirmations has to confront Marx not in his own time, but in our time. Capital should be assessed on the basis of the capitalism of today. In this way we can demonstrate, once and for all, the ridiculous and banal petit bourgeois assertions that Marx’s work is, simultaneously, product and explanation of a society of small scale commodity production.

One of Marx’s fundamental thesis is the following: at the social base of capitalism, its inherent historical process always realizes a logical operation of abstraction, which strips the object of all casual and occasional elements, immediately assumed by its contingent presence, in order to discover and valorize its permanent and necessary sides, those which designate it as a specific product of a historically determined reality and makes it, as a result, valid for its whole existence. The process of capitalist development carries within itself the work of simplifying its own history, making its ‘nature’ reveal itself ever and more pure, stripping itself of all inessential contradictions in order to expose that deep or fundamental contradiction which simultaneously reveals it and condemns it. In this sense, capitalist development is the truth of capitalism itself: in fact, only capitalist development can expose capitalism’s secret. This secret, expressed from the point of view of the bourgeoisie, becomes the ultimate mystification of capitalism for everyone, in everyone’s reach, or in other words, the ultimate truth capital is capable of and, as a consequence, the ideological instrument of its indefinite stabilization. The same secret, seen from the working class perspective, is transformed into the greatest scientific comprehension of the true nature of capitalism, through an analysis of the previous results of its own history; it is transformed, through the discovery of that ultimate contradiction of capitalism, and as a result, into the theoretical instrument of its coming destruction. If it is true that it is here- at the social base of the most advanced capitalism- where that decisive confrontation between working class and capital takes place, it is also true that it is also on the same terrain upon which we should express the class struggle between worker’s theory and bourgeois ideology.

Another fundamental thesis of Marx is the following: it is the most advanced point which explains the least developed and not vice-versa; it is capital which explains ground rent and not vice versa. As such, the verification of a particular thought should be achieved not on the social terrain which apparently produced it but in that which subsequently surpassed it: precisely because it was the last which, in reality, produced it. Like this Marx did not put Hegel in confrontation with the backwards situation in semi-feudal Germany but with the most advanced capitalistic developments in Europe, at the same time constraining Ricardo to give an immediate answer to the problems that his own time put to him. As a result, the Marx of today cannot eternally continue to ‘settle scores’ with his old philosophical conscience; he should instead be ‘cemented’ through an active encounter with the modern reality of contemporary capitalism: in order to understand and destroy it, because it is this that is the moment of verification and it is this which is required of or imposed by working class inquiry.  It is not a matter of coincidence that today when bourgeois thought constructs existentialist romances about the ‘alienation of human essence’, keeping itself entranced before a few unfortunate sentences in the Manuscripts of 1844, it is not a matter of coincidence that working class thought returns to Capital, for a classic model of scientific analysis of the present as a function of revolutionary struggle which seeks to abolish and overcome it.

In a very poignant page from his book, Michaud has the courage to express in words an idea which I judge to be very widespread if not in a state of confused sensation [no estado de sensacao confusa]: “the appearance in some respect, in our epoch, of a pre-Marxist ideological situation.” Is he correct in expressing himself this way? In what sense can we say this? The answer to these questions can potentially shine some light over some dark places.

The thought of Marx- as any authentically revolutionary thought- tends to destroy what exists in order to construct that which does not. There exists then two parts, distinct in themselves but organically united, which form this thought. One is the “ruthless criticism of all that exists”, which in Marx is expressed as the discovery of the mystified procedure of bourgeois thought and, as a consequence, as theoretical demystification of capitalist ideologies. The other is the “positive analysis of the present” which produces from the maximum level of scientific comprehension the future alternative to the current present. One is the critique of bourgeois ideology; the other scientific analysis of capitalism. In the work of Marx these two moments can be apprehended, divided logically and chronologically successive: from The Critique of Hegel’s Philosophy of Right to Capital. This does not mean, therefore, that this procedure should be repeated in this precise division and in this succession. Marx himself, when he addressed classical political economy and retread that same path which had led him to discover, through the means of analysis, a few general abstract relations, knew quite well that that path was not to be repeated; on the contrary, it was necessary to start from those simple abstractions- the division of labour, money, value- in order to then reach, once again, the “living unity”: the populace, the nation, the State, the world market. In the same manner, today, once the point of arrival of Marx’s work is reached –Capital– it is necessary to use it as a point of departure: once we reach an analysis of capitalism, it is from here that we must start again. Inquiry around certain determinant abstractions- wage-labour, the modifications in the organic composition of capital, value under oligopolistic capitalism- should be the point of departure in order to arrive at a new ‘living unity”: the people, democracy, the political State of neo-capitalism, the international class struggle. It is not by accident that this was the path undertaken by Lenin: The development of capitalism in Russia to The State and Revolution. It is not by accident either that bourgeois ideology and all the reformist ideologies of the working class seek the inverse path.

All this however is still insufficient: since it is not enough to grasp the specific character which today the analysis of capitalism should assume, it is also necessary, simultaneously, to grasp the specific character which the critique of ideology should assume. And here we should start then from a precise assumption, operating according to one of those excessive/forcing biases which are the positive characteristics of the science of Marx, stimulants for new thoughts and active intervention in practical struggle. Now, the assumption is the following: an ideology is always bourgeois, since it is always the mystified reflex of the class struggle on the capitalist terrain.

Marxism has been conceived as the “ideology” of the worker’s movement. This is a basic error since its point of departure, its “act of birth” was precisely the destruction of all ideology through the destructive criticism of all bourgeois ideologies. The process of ideological mystification is only possible, indeed, on the basis of modern bourgeois society: this has been and continues to be the bourgeois point of view on/over bourgeois society. For those who have glanced at the opening pages of Capital, even only once, can see that the process is not one of a process of pure thought which the bourgeoisie consciously chooses to mask the fact of exploitation but instead it is the result of the process itself, real and objective, of exploitation.In other words, it is the result of the process itself and the mechanism of development of capitalism in all its phases.

It is because of this that the working class does not need an “ideology.” Since its existence as a class, that is, its presence as an antagonistic reality against the global capitalist system, its organization as a revolutionary class, do not link it to the mechanism of that development but make it instead, yes, independent of it and opposed to it. Better yet: the more that capitalist development advances the more autonomous can the working class become in relation to capitalism; the more the system “perfects” itself the more the working class should become the maximum contradiction within the system, to the point of making its survival impossible and at the same time making it possible and, as a result, necessary the revolutionary rupture which liquidates and overcomes the capitalist system.

Marx is not the ideology of the worker’s movement: it is its revolutionary theory. A theory which was born as the critique of bourgeois ideologies and which must daily live from that criticism- it should continue to be the “ruthless criticism of all that exists.” A theory that came to constitute itself as the scientific analysis of capitalism and that should feed from each moment of that analysis and at certain times should identify itself with it when it is necessary to recuperate the lost ground and bridge the gap, the distance, which has opened up between the development of things and the postponement and verification of the research and its instruments/tools/means [strumenti]. A theory which only lives as a function of the revolutionary practice of the working class, that provides weapons for its struggle, develops instruments/tools for its knowledge, isolates and magnifies the objectives of its action. Marx has been and continues to be the point of view of the worker over bourgeois society.

If the thought of Marx is the revolutionary theory of the working class, if Marx is the science of the proletariat, on what basis and how has one part, at least, of Marxism turned into a populist ideology, an arsenal of banal platitudes to justify all possible compromises in the course of class struggle? Here the task of the historian is great. In the meantime this simple fact  is evident by itself:  if ideology is part, is a specific articulation, determined historically, of the mechanism proper of the development of capitalism, to accept this “ideological” dimension- to construct a working class ideology- this can only mean one thing: that the working class movement has itself become- as such- in part, a passive articulation of capitalist development; it has suffered a process of integration within the system, a process which can have various phases and levels but which nonetheless has the same consequences of provoking different phases and different levels- that is, different forms– of that reformist practice which is ultimately seen today, in appearance, implicitly in the very concept of the working class. If ideology in general is always bourgeois, an ideology of the working class is always reformist: this is the mystified mode through which is expressed and, at the same time, inverted [rovesciata], its revolutionary function.

If this is true, from this follows that the process of demystification must today pass through Marxism itself, it should conceive itself as well as a process of the deideologization of Marxism. I refer here to Marxism and not the work of Marx, for the discourse required on the latter is quite diverse. This is, naturally, a work of internal criticism of Marx’s own work, of the separation and choosing of some major directions that it contains. Those that should be focused on and valued are those in which scientific generalizations are exercised at the highest level and where, therefore, the analysis of capitalism demonstrates in a powerful way a dynamic understanding of the system, individualizing and judging the substantive tendencies which continually modify capitalism and revolutionize it internally. On the other hand, those parts that should be isolated and pushed aside are those in which that type of generalization at the scientific level appear to have not been attained and where, as a result, immediate generalizations of relative particulars of a particular state of the development of capitalism which ends up covering up the character of capitalism as a whole. This internal criticism- which represents in a certain sense the self-criticisms of Marx- is something different from the work of demystification of a few Marxist theories. This last point speaks not with respect to the work of Marx, but to a certain part of Marxism.

We are used to speaking today with a certain degree of irony and contempt of vulgar Marxism: this we even learned from Marx himself. The diverse judgments and attitudes of Marx towards classical political economy are well known, which he himself called vulgar economics. The merit of classical political economy is the effort to reduce, through analysis, the different forms of wealth to their intrinsic unity, depriving them of the figures in when they coexist independently one of the others: classical economics seeks to understand the internal connection of facts, liberating them from the multiplicity of phenomenal forms. In doing this, even in operating according to its specific process of mystification, classical economics is able to proceed hand in hand with the real development of social antagonisms and, thus, with the objective level of class struggle implicit within capitalist production. However, there exists within political economy- or better yet: there emerges at a specific stage in its development- an element which represents within it “the simple reproduction of the phenomenon” as its simple representation: and it is this which is its vulgar element, which at a certain point is separated and isolated from the rest as a particular representation of economy in general. The more the real contradictions advance, the more difficult and complex is their reproduction on the plane of thought, the more difficult and slow is the analysis at the scientific level – and ever more does that vulgar element opposes itself to this work as an autonomous and alternate [sostitutivo] element to it, “until it finds its best expression in a compilation academically syncretic and classical without character”; vulgar economics becomes increasingly apologetic and “seeks to eliminate with verbiage” all contradictory thoughts  through which real contradictions are expressed. When we read these pages from Marx and we think about vulgar Marxism we are tempted to think that everything has been said.

In the meantime, however, there is an essential point which must be added. If it is true that mystification today has penetrated the roots of Marxism and if it is true there are objective reasons which led and continue to lead this process of vulgarization- then the most urgent task is that of identifying these objective reasons, not only to simply know them, but to struggle against them. It is necessary to be clear in this respect. This is not about a struggle simply at the theoretical level. This is not about opposing a neo-scholasticism of pure Marxists against the old academy of vulgar Marxists. We must take the struggle to the real terrain: conceiving the theoretical task itself as a moment of the class struggle. Once convinced of the necessity of this, let us say, Marxian purification of Marxism; once that scientific level of analysis of capitalism is regained and which should be applied to the whole complexity of international phenomenon; once the scientific unity of the thought of Marx is recovered and once again verified, that unity which is expressed in an organic unity of economics and sociology, of political theory and real, practical struggle- from here, from this point it is necessary to start again, or rather, from this point we have to leap, finding once again the real forces which should guide this process, the objective conditions which necessarily produce them, the material reasons which will make, once again, of theory itself a material force.

Today, perhaps more than ever, the truth of the Leninist thesis is highlighted in full force: there does not exist a revolutionary movement without revolutionary theory. When it is felt to be  expressed on the part of all the requirement of seeing and understanding the strategic perspective of the revolution, beyond the blind day to day tactics, then we can understand how great today is this necessity of theory, that captures and understands the entire arch of the antagonistic forces of the capitalistic system and breaks that arch at a decisive point thereby contributing to maintaining those forces divided, as much as theory could help to make them united and homogeneous. And, in the meantime, never has the opposite been as true as it is today: that revolutionary theory is not possible without a revolutionary movement. Therefore the theorist himself today should focus his energies and lend a hand to the practical work of rediscovery and reorganization of the only truly subversive forces which live within capitalism; he should once again become conscious of his existence and contribute towards giving a materially organized form to the revolutionary instance which in that existence is objectively expressed. In the last instance, the process of the demystification of Marxism is not possible without worker’s power. Therefore, worker’s power – the autonomous organization of the working class- is the real process of demystification since it is the material base of revolution.

In that sense, the principal polemical objective of the Marx of today cannot be anymore Vulgarokonomie , vulgar economics, not even under its current form of vulgar Marxism. In as much as the latter has as a presupposition and result, simultaneously, the Vulgarpolitik vulgar politics of the worker’s movement, it is against this vulgar politics which needs to be struggled against. However, it is necessary to choose well the ways in which to struggle and the task of contemporary Marxists cannot be exhausted in those ways. It is an obvious principle, even though it has been wrongly interpreted many times: the internal criticism of the worker’s movement should express itself always as an external struggle against the class enemy. Therefore, the internal criticism of Marxism should be expressed first of all as a struggle against bourgeois thought. Today then the destructive criticism of all neo-capitalist ideologies should be the necessary point of departure in order to reach, once again, the critique of all ideology, including all reformist ideologies of the worker’s movement. We saw, however, that currently the analysis of capitalism should, in a certain way, precede the critique of ideology, in the sense that it should form its basis. We can, then, say that today the positive analysis of the present- that is, the formulation of important insights from practical struggle and the rediscovery and reorganization of the material forces which should lead it forward– has to necessarily precede and form the basis for the negative destruction of all ideological and political mystifications.

We can thus conclude in the following manner: the ideological situation of today is perhaps pre-Marxist, with the difference that the theoretical situation is perhaps pre-Leninist. Which is to say, that today, the way to begin is not to once again trace the path before Marx nor after Lenin. It is, perhaps, and I say this in a consciously provocative manner, the path of today, perhaps, is to once again accomplish the leap from Marx to Lenin. From the analysis of contemporary capitalism to the elaboration of a theory of the proletarian revolution on the basis of modern capitalism. The worker’s revolution- with all of its means at its disposal– should become once again, and concretely, the minimum program of the worker’s movement. Already once the working class rediscovered Marx through Lenin and the result was the October revolution. When this repeats itself, the death knells will sound- as Marx said- for capitalism in the world.

(January 1962)

From Operarios e Capital

Translated from Portuguese and Italian by Guio Jacinto

Lenin in England

Posted: September 30, 2010 in Mario Tronti

Lenin In England

Mario Tronti

Despite its title, this article is not about’ England as such. It marks, in 1964, one of the early points in the continuity of political theory that reaches through our book to the most recent works of Toni Negri (Domination & Sabotage); it also marks an early point of the continuity of the political practice of the working class, in the sense that Tronti’s affirmation that “a new era in the class struggle is beginning” must be closely related to the renewed experience of class autonomy expressed in the events of Piazza Statuto in 1962 (see the final section of this book).

Tronti goes on to explore the nature of this new era. His concern is to start the building of the new revolutionary working class organisation – a new area of theoretical research, a new project for a working class newspaper.

The article was originally written for Issue No.1 of the revolutionary newspaper Classe Operaia (“Working Class”) in January 1964, and was republished in Operai e Capitale (“Workers and Capital”), Einaudi, Turin, 1966, p.89-95, under the heading “A New Style of Political Experiment”.

Lenin In England

A new era in the class struggle is beginning. The workers have imposed it on the capitalists, through the violent reality of their organised strength in the factories. Capital’s power appears to be stable and solid…. the balance of forces appears to be weighted against the workers… and yet precisely at the points where capital’s power appears most dominant, we see how deeply it is penetrated by this menace this threat of the working class.

It is easy not to see it. We shall need to study, to look long and hard at the class situation of the working class. Capitalist society has its laws of development: economists have invented them, governments have imposed them, and workers have suffered them. But who will uncover the laws of development of the working class? Capital has its history, and its historians write it – but who is going to write the history of the working class?

Capitalist exploitation can impose its political domination through a hundred and one different forms – but how are we going to sort out the form that will be taken by the future dictatorship of the workers organised as the ruling class? This is explosive material; it is intensely social; we must live it, work from within it, and work patiently.

We too have worked with a concept that puts capitalist development first, and workers second. This is a mistake. And now we have to turn the problem on its head, reverse the polarity, and start again from the beginning: and the beginning is the class struggle of the working class. At’ the level of socially developed capital, capitalist development becomes subordinated to working class struggles; it follows behind them, and they set the pace to which the political mechanisms of capital’s own reproduction must be tuned.

This is not a rhetorical proposition. Nor is it intended just to restore our confidence. Of course, we urgently need to shake off that sense of working class defeat which has for decades dragged down this movement which, in its origins, was the only revolutionary movement of this era. But an urgent practical need is never sufficient basis for a scientific thesis: such a thesis must stand on its own feet, on a solid and complex grounding of material, historical fact. At that point, our case will be proven: in June 1848 (that fateful month, a thousand times cursed by the bourgeoisie), and possibly even earlier, the working class took over the stage, and they have never left it since. In different periods they have voluntarily taken on different roles – as actors, as prompters, as technicians or stage-hands – whilst all the time waiting to wade into the theatre and attack the audience. So how does the working class present itself today, on the contemporary stage?

Our new approach starts from the proposition that, at both national and international level, it is the specific, present, political situation of the working class that both necessitates and directs the given forms of capital’s development. From this beginning we must now move forward to a new understanding of the entire world network of social relations.

For instance take the basic material feature of this network – the fact that the world market has been undergoing reconstruction – a process which we can trace back to the ending of Stalinism’ s Stranglehold over development, It would be easy to explain this in terms that are economistic, addressing ourselves to “the problem of markets in capitalist production”. But the working class viewpoint seeks to find a political explanation. The meaning of a unified world market today is that it brings an international level of control of social labour power. It is possible -albeit difficult – to organise commodity production within a limited free-trade zone. But not so the movements of the working class. Historically, right at its origins, workers’ labour power was already homogeneous at the international level, and – in the course of a long historical period – it has forced capital to become equally homogeneous. And today it is precisely the unity of movement of the working class at the world level which forces capital rapidly to salvage a unified response.
But when we say that there is a unity in the movements of the international working class – how are we to grasp it? The various institutional levels of the official labour movement only create divisions in everything; the structures of capitalism unify everything -but only in capital’s interests. An act of political struggle can’t be simply tested and measured by empirical ans. The only way to prove this unity is to start organising it. Then we shall discover that the new forms of class unity is wholly implicit in the new forms of working class struggle, and that the field of this struggle is social capital at an international level.

At this level, the political situation of the working class has never been so clear: wherever in history we find concentrated the social mass of an industrial labour force, we can see at a glance the same collective attitudes, the same basic practices, and the same unified political growth. Planned non-cooperation, organised passivity, polemical expectations, a political refusal, and a permanent continuity of struggles – these are the specific historical forms in which working class struggle today is generalising and developing itself. They are transitory forms of a transitory situation, in which, in social terms, the workers have already gone beyond the old Organisations, but have not yet reached a new organisation a vacuum of political organisation, be it reformist or revolutionary. We have reached a period of in-between in working class history: we must examine it deeply and grasp its implications, for its political consequences will be decisive.

The first consequence is, not surprisingly, a difficulty: how are we to grasp the material movements of the class, in the absence of levels of institutions corresponding to those movements – i.e. the lack of those channels through which class consciousness usually expresses itself? This clearly demands a greater theoretical effort (and one more capable of making abstractions), but it also has a clearer practical function: for we are compelled to analyse the working class independently of the working class movement.

The second consequence is that we find contradictions and seeming uncertainties in the movements of the class. It is clear that if the working class had a revolutionary political organisation, it would aim3 everywhere, at making use of the highest developed point of capitalist reformism. The process of building a unification of capital at the international level can only become the material base for a political recomposition of the working class (and in this sense a positive strategic moment for the revolution) if it is accompanied by a revolutionary growth not only of the class, but also of class organisation. If this element is absent, the whole process works to the advantage of capital, as a tactical moment of a one-sided stabilisation of the system, seemingly integrating the working class within the system.

The historical workings of Italian capitalism – ie the organic political accord between Catholics and Socialists – could perhaps reopen a revolutionary process along classical lines, if it again managed to provide Italian workers with a working class party which would be committed to direct opposition to the capitalist system in the democratic phase of capital’s class dictatorship. Without this, the dominance of capitalist exploitation will, for the time being, become more stable, and the workers will be forced to seek other paths towards their revolution. Whilst it is true that the working class objectively forces capital into clear, precise choices, it is also true that capital then makes these choices work against the working class. Capital, at this moment, is better organised than the working class: the choices that the working class imposes on capital run the risk of giving strength to capital. This gives the working class an immediate interest in opposing these choices.

Today the strategic viewpoint of the working class is so clear that we wonder whether it is only now coming to the full richness of its maturity. It has discovered (or rediscovered) the true secret, which will be the death sentence on its class enemy: the political ability to force capital into reformism, and then to blatantly make use of that reformism for the working class revolution.

But the present tactical position of the working class – as a class without class organisation – is, and must necessarily be, less clear and more subtly ambiguous. The working class is still forced to make use of contradictions which create crisis within capitalist reformism; it has to play up the elements which hinder and retard capitalist development, since it knows and senses that to allow a free hand for capital’s reformist operations in the absence of a political organisation of the working class, would amount to freezing for a long period the entire revolutionary process (and, by the same token, if such an organisation did exist, it would open this process immediately).

Thus the two reformisms – that of capital and that of the labour movement – should certainly meet, but only through a direct initiative by the working class. When – as at the present moment – all the initiative is in capital’s hands, the workers’ immediate interest is to keep them apart. From a tactical point of view, too, it is correct that this meeting should take place once the working class has experienced not only struggle, but also revolutionary struggle, and within revolutionary struggle has also experienced alternative models of organisation. At that point, the historic encounter of capitalist reformism with the reformism of the labour movement will really mark the beginning of the revolutionary process. But our present situation is different: it precedes and paves the way for that later stage. From this follows both the workers strategic support for capital’s development in general and their tactical opposition to the particular forms of that development. So, in the working class today there is a contradiction between tactics and strategy.

In other words, the political moment of tactics and the theoretical moment of strategy are in contradiction, in a complex and very much mediated relationship between revolutionary organisation and working class science. Today, at the theoretical level, the workers viewpoint must be unrestricted, it must not limit itself, it must leap (forward by transcending and negating all the empirical evidence which the intellectual cowardice of the petty-bourgeois is forever demanding. For working class thouht, the moment of discovery has returned. The days of systems building, of repetition, and vulgarity elevated to the status of systematic discourse are definitely over. What is needed now is to start again, with rigorously one-sided class logic – courage and determination for ourselves, and detached irony towards the rest.

This is not to be confused with the creation of a political programme; we must resist the temptation to carry this theoretical out-look immediately into the arena of the political struggle – a struggle which is articulated on the basis of a precise content, which, in some cases, may even contradict (quite correctly) our theoretical statements. As regards the practical resolution of practical problems of direct struggles, of direct organisation3 of direct intervention in a given class situation where workers are involved – all these should be gauged first of all by what the movement needs for its own development. Only secondarily should they be judged from the viewpoint of a general perspective which subjectively imposes these things on the class enemy.

But the separation of theory and politics is only the consequence of the contradiction between tactics and strategy. Both have their material base in the process (still slowly developing) by which the class and the historical organisations of the class – the 1’working class” and the “labour movement” – first become divided, and then come to counterpose each other. What does this mean concretely, and where will it lead us? The first thing to say is that the goal, the aim of this approach is the solid recomposition of a politically correct relationship between the two moments. No separation between them can be theoretically justified, and no counterposition can be effected at any point, not even provisionally. If a part of the labour movement finds again the path to revolution as signalled by the working class, then the process of unification of these moments will be easier, quicker, more direct and more secure. Otherwise, the revolutionary process, although nonetheless assured, will be less clear, less decisive, longer and more full of drama. It is easy to see the job of mystification that the old organisations are doing on the new working class struggles. But it is harder to grasp the way that workers are continuously, consciously making use of that institution which capital still ‘believes to be the movement of the organised workers.

In particular, the working class has left in the hands of the traditional organisations all the problems of tactics, while maintaining for itself an autonomous strategic perspective free from restriction and compromises. And again we have the temporary outcome, of a revolutionary strategy and reformist tactics. Even if, as often happens, the opposite appears to be the case. It appears that workers are now in accord with the system, and only occasionally come into friction with it: but this is the “bourgeois” appearance of capitalist social relations. The truth is that, politically speaking, even the Unions’ skirmishes represent for the workers an academic exercise in their struggle for power: it is as such that they take them on, make use of them, and once they have been made use of, hand them back to the bosses. As a matter of fact, the classical Marxist thesis – that the Union holds the tactical moment, and the Party holds the strategic moment -still holds true for the workers. This is why, if a link still exists between the working class and the unions, it does not exist between the working class and the Party. It is this fact which frees the strategic perspective from the immediate 0rganisationa~ tasks; it splits, temporarily, class struggle and class organisation; it splits the ongoing moment of struggle and temporary forms of organisation -all of which is the consequence of the historical failure of Socialist reformism, as well as being a premise of the political development of the working class revolution.

Theoretical research and practical political work have to be dragged – violently if need be – into focusing on this question: not the development of capitalism, but the development of the revolution. We have no models. The history of past experiences serves only to free us of those experiences. We must entrust ourselves to a new kind of scientific interpretation. We know that the whole process of development is materially embodied in the new level of working class struggles. Our starting point might therefore be in uncovering certain forms of working class struggles which set in motion a certain type of capitalist development which goes in the direction of the revolution. Then we would consider how to articulate these experiences within the working class, choosing subjectively the nerve points at which it is possible to strike at capitalist production. And on this basis, testing and re-testing, we could approach the problem of how to create a relationship, a new and ongoing organisation which could match these struggles. Then perhaps we would discover that “organisational miracles” are always happening, and have always been happening, within those miraculous struggles of the working class that nobody wants to know about but which perhaps, all by themselves, make and have made more revolutionary history than all the revolutions the colonised people have ever made.

But this practical work, articulated on the basis of the factory, and then made to function throughout the terrain of the social relations of production, this work needs to be continually judged and mediated by a political level which can generalise it. This is a new kind of political level, which requires us to look into and organise a new form of working class newspaper. This would not be designed to immediately report and reflect on all particular experiences of struggle; rather, its task would be to concentrate these experiences into a general political approach. In this sense, the newspaper would provide a monitoring of the strategic validity of particular instances of struggle. The formal procedure for carrying out such a verification would have -to be turned on its head. It is the political ‘approach which must verify the correctness of the particular struggles, and not vice-versa.

Because, on this basis, the political approach would be the total viewpoint of the working class, and therefore the actual real situation. And it is easy to see how such an approach takes us, away from the Leninist conception of the working class newspaper: this was conceived as the collective organiser on the basis of, or in anticipation of, a Bolshevik organisation of the class and of the Party. These are impossible objectives for us at this stage of the class struggle: this is the stage where we must embark on a discovery, not of the political organisation of advanced vanguards, but of the political organisation of the whole, compact social mass which the working class has become, in the period of its high political maturity – a class which, precisely because of these character istics, is the only revolutionary force, a force which, proud and menacing, controls the present order of things.

We know it. And Lenin knew it before us. And before Lenin, Marx also discovered, in his own experience, how the hardest point is the transition to organisation. The continuity of the struggle is a simple matter: the workers only need themselves, and the bosses facing them. But continuity of organisation is a rare and complex thing: no sooner is organisation institutionalied into a form, than it is immediately used by capitalism (or by the labour movement on behalf of capitalism).

This explains the fact that workers will very fast drop forms of organisation that they have only just won. And in place of the bureaucratic void of the general political organisation, they substitute the ongoing struggle at factory level – a struggle which takes ever-new forms which only the intellectual creativity of productive work can discover. Unless a directlyworking class political organisation can be generalised, the revolutionary process will not begin: workers know it, and this is why you will not find them in the chapels of the official parties singing hymns to the ‘democratic’ revolution.

The reality of the working class is tied firmly to the name of Karl Marx, while the need of the working class for political Organisation is tied equally firmly to the name of Lenin. With a masterly stroke, the Leninist ‘strategy brought Marx to St Petersburg: only the working class viewpoint could have carried out such a bold revolutionary step. Now let us try to retrace the path, with the same scientific spirit of adventure and political discovery. What we call “Lenin in England” is a project to research a new Marxist practice of the working class party: it is the theme of struggle and of organisation at the highest level of political development of the working class.

January 1964