Voted by the minority of the National Political Committee




World capitalism increasingly lays the blame for its crisis on the general condition of humanity, threatening a true historical regression of civilisation. The renewal of wars that has marked the last decade - first in Iraq, then in the Balkans, now in Afghanistan - is both the material and the symbolic reflection of this. The representation of the so-called capitalistic "globalisation" as the coming of a "new capitalism" able to overcome its historical contradictions has been belied by reality.


Not only has the crisis that has marked world economy for a quarter of a century not been overcome, but it has re-emerged today in the classic form of a recession. The contradictions between the capitalist blocs have not melted away into an indistinct, homogeneous "empire", but rather they have been sharpened after the collapse of the USSR and under the spur of the crisis. The contradiction between capital and labour, far from being overcome or reduced, has re-emerged as the central issue in the crisis and the new global capitalist competition.


The very increase in militarism and the progression of the war in course - with its regressive effects on democratic freedoms and social conquests - is inseparable from the general context of the capitalist crisis. Far from being a conflict between two ideological "fundamentalist beliefs" (the Market and Terror), it is an imperialist war against oppressed peoples: it aims to control the Middle East and Central Asia; it hopes to intimidate national liberation movements (starting from the Palestinians); it aims to block economic recession by a large-scale reinvestment in defence spending; and it answers the American imperialist interest in counter-balancing European economic growth with the re-launching of its own, undisputed military hegemony.


On another level, the political developments and the dynamics of capital in the 90s were devastating for the environment. All the historical problems have become even more widespread, and new emergencies have emerged on a global scale. Faced with all this, both ethical-cultural theories and green reformism have been seen to be inadequate and powerless: no new development model will be possible without a new production model, without overthrowing capitalism.


In short, ten years after the collapse of the USSR, the capitalist reconstruction of world unity has by no means meant a peaceful, more stable world, but a worsening of the international crisis.


This general picture of crisis and regression has revealed once again the utopian nature of all reforming projects.


The idea of "reforming governments" that support workers, of a possible "fair" capitalism held in check by the rules of a "progressive civil society", and of a pacifist reform of the world order, founded on a re-evaluation of the UN in line with the Gandhian vision of "non-violence", represent more than ever an impotent illusion. This is not a concrete way to build a new world, but means accepting with resignation today's world, even while nurturing dreams.


The V Congress of our party is, therefore, called on to renew and contrast every reforming utopia, assuming a new strategic aim that is openly anti-capitalist and revolutionary.


Another world is possible. It is called Socialism. Its name must not be evoked alone, but a general programme must be proposed as the only real answer to the crisis facing humanity.


Only the abolition of private property, starting from the two hundred multinationals that today dominate the world economy; only a democratically-planned world economy, freed from the dominion of profit, and only the conquest of political power by the subordinate classes as the decisive lever for transition can create the conditions for a new "development model". This model will feature new relations between individuals and peoples, a new relationship between humans and the environment, and control over the directions and applications of science in order to work for the quality of life as the new frontier of progress. Thus, the recovery and analysis of the original programme of communism and the October revolution as the scenario for the liberation of mankind, free from the Stalinist bureaucratic heritage, is the primary duty for communists and our party. It must be employed as the compass for a new strategic formulation that leads the immediate objectives of each battle and each movement back to the need for social revolution.


Moreover, the very start of a renewed class struggle and the world mass movements (what in the party we have called "the thaw") - symptoms after twenty years of the dominant politics' hegemony - represents an extraordinary opportunity to re-launch the socialist future in the younger generations: as a revolutionary answer in the heart of the grass-roots movements to their social, environmental, democratic demands, their demands for peace that are all incompatible, in their deepest demands, with the current bourgeois order. So, it is not a question of abandoning the mystical rhetoric of the grass-roots movements, nor of losing the centrality of class, but rather, it is a question of leading the precious anti-liberal sentiments of the new generation to a clear vision of an anti-capitalist class. The only vision that can offer the grass-roots movements themselves a future; foster a mobilisation against imperialism and war free from pacifist illusions; place the reference to the working class and the world of work in its new composition and extension as the centre of an alternative historical bloc. Consequently, a struggle in the grass-roots movements for the hegemony of class is needed: not a bureaucratic self-formulation but an open, loyal struggle for the socialist future against those neo-reforming cultures that lead the grass-roots movements themselves into a blind alley of defeat. The complex job of re-founding a revolutionary, communist international movement that takes on the battle for an anti-capitalist hegemony on a world scale is a basic need for communists today more than ever before.


But this new strategic formulation implies a great shift in policy and choices at national level. Within the new Italian political scenario, the renewal of the dynamics of grass-roots movements in the working class and the young, and the vertical crisis and liberal policy shift in the D. S. (Democratic Left) have created the conditions for a strong and necessary re-launching of our party as the only possible alternative political reference point for vast sectors of workers and the young. But this would imply a new, fundamental direction for the RCP. For ten years, our party has rejected the idea of building an autonomous class pole to follow the line of "conditioning" of the DS apparatus and its coalitions (a progressive, centre-left pole) on the basis of a "programme of reform" both of the government and the opposition, on a national and local level. It must be admitted honestly that this line has substantially failed. Indeed, it has not obtained any results, neither from the point of the view of building up the RCP and its electoral influence, nor above all from the point of view of the interests and prospects of the working class, whom the Centre-Left and the DS apparatus, pawns of the interests of the bourgeoisie during the preceding government, have condemned to social and political defeat. On the contrary, the only effect of this line of Centre-Left "contamination" has been the RCP's involvement during half of the Ulivo coalition government in supporting anti-working class and anti-popular policies (temporary work in Treu's reform package, privatisation, cuts in social expenditure) which are totally opposed to the social principles of our party.


The future proposed for a "plural left-wing government" after Berlusconi on the basis of a "reforming programme" would not only remove any balance but also re-propose the failed policy of the last ten years. This is made explicit in the pre-congress document voted by the majority wing of the party at the CPN in October that affirms: "(…) this does not mean that a plural left cannot be constructed in Italy and in Europe, able to propose the idea of conquering the majority of consensus and candidature for government in order to carry out a reforming programme, but it means that to achieve this it is necessary to follow different routes from the traditional one of a unitary policy, in the first place so that the novelty and the rupture of the grass-roots movements breaks into the whole area of the left parties and their relationships." This idea does not only retain the reference to the negative experience of Jospin's gauche plurielle, but it proposes it again with a DS apparatus, who for the most part have broken with the function of social democracy itself. Taking on this idea as the final way out for the grass-roots movements would mean contradicting the anti-capitalist potential of the grass-roots movements themselves and subordinating them to an agreement with the liberals.


Therefore, the V Congress rejects this political prospect on the basis of a fundamental change in perspective: the construction of the RCP around the line of an autonomous anti-capitalist class pole which is alternative both to the reactionary Centre Right and the liberal Centre Left. This political line would imply, first of all, coherence in the political collocation of our party as an opposition force. There can only be contradictions between the social reasons expressed by the RCP and its institutional political collocation. This is as true in the future at a national level as it is at a local level, where we should reject the collaboration with Centre Left councils in the Regions and the cities, where we are in practice silenced by policies and interests that are totally extraneous to the interests of the workers. But, generally speaking, this proposal of a autonomous pole of class is directed to the working-class movement and mass grass-roots movements. The experience of the last government has demonstrated the social and political disaster for millions of workers which lies in the collaboration of the working-class movement with the political and social force of the middle-class Centre. "Breaking with the Centre" is not, therefore, an abstract concept: it uses class experience to claim the autonomy of the working class against the interests of the other classes and their representatives. In short, only the independent mobilisation of workers and grassroots movements on an anti-capitalist basis can defend their reasons and open the way for a true alternative.


This need for autonomy is even more relevant today. Faced with the right-wing parties and Berlusconi, all forms of alliance with the Centre have failed. Only the great independent mobilisation of the working class in 1994 managed to bring the Berlusconi government to its knees and pave the way for its fall. Our party must build on the memory of this experience in the masses and use it as the reference point for its own actions.


The new Berlusconi government has a stronger social and institutional base than in 1994, but this is precisely why its eventual stabilisation would lead to greater reactionary risk, as has been seen since Genoa. Therefore, the RCP cannot continue with its institutional opposition while trusting in the spontaneity of the grassroots movements. Its duty is to propose a future for the working-class movement and actively build this political future. In this sense, the V Congress of the RCP must aim to bring down the Berlusconi-Bossi-Fini government in favour of a class alternative as the basis for the unitary mobilisation of the working-class movement and the grass-roots movements and all the political and union tendencies that they are based on. Only a true social eruption turned against the bosses and the right-wing government can truly break up the Italian political scenario and lay down the conditions for a class alternative.


As a consequence, we propose a general discussion around the proposals for a significant wage increase for all dependent workers, a guaranteed minimum salary for all categories, a real guaranteed salary for the unemployed and young people looking for their first employment, the abolition of the new precarious, temporary employment laws (viz. "Treu package" and the most recent laws introduced by the Berlusconi government) with open-ended contracts for all short-term workers and the generalised reduction in working hours. This proposal for mobilisation can and must be advanced by our party in all workplaces, in all union organisations, nationally, and to the anti-globalisation movement, supporting the internal trends of the movement that already push for a direct struggle side by side with the workers. It is this unitary re-composition in the struggle of the new generation, from the working class and from the anti-globalisation movement, that can foster a social eruption against the government of the right and the dominant classes. Directing the work of the mass of the party in this direction, extending the framework of our demands to every social sector affected by the dominant politics (viz. Immigration and Education), linking this framework of immediate demands to a more general programme of a rupture with capitalist ownership and the State, and developing in every grassroots movement an anti-capitalist conscience - these are the necessary duties of the communist opposition for a class alternative.


And in this field, our party cannot theorise the principle of a silent adjustment to the grassroots movements, trusting passively in their choices: it must elaborate the capacity to propose political choices - on both the small and large scale - working towards an anti-capitalist future. The forms of struggle, starting from the necessary defence of the right to public demonstration, against every temptation to retreat; the questions linked to the defence of peaceful, mass demonstration against violent aggression, wherever it comes from; and the forms of organisation of grassroots movements and their democratic development, currently at the heart of the anti-globalisation movement, are all areas in which our party cannot stay silent in the name of an unconditional complicity with the hegemonic direction of the grassroots movements. It must put forward proposals, of course in line with the interests of the interlocutors and the concreteness of the problems, but always inspired by a single, fundamental criterion: the development of an autonomous force in the subordinate classes and grassroots movements in the direction of an alternative society and power. As Rosa Luxemburg affirmed: " the conquest of political power remains our final aim and our final aim remains the heart of our struggle. The working class must not take on the view "the final aim isn't important, but the movement is everything". No, on the contrary, the movement as such, unless in relation with the final aim, the movement as an end in itself, is nothing, but it is the final aim that is everything." (1898).


Therefore, the logic proposed by the majority leadership of the RCP must be turned upside down. Of course, the party has, as its priority, the need to participate fully in the grassroots movements without a doctrinal separation or rather with the maximum concentration of its force. But it needs this as a party, that is as a specific collective, anti-capitalist, revolutionary project that requires specific structuring, specific instruments that can organise the collective battle for that project with the grassroots movements, starting from the working class. And it is also the widest development of the internal democracy of the party, a decisive condition for the collective elaboration and the very formation of its managers. In this sense, the vanguard function of the party, not as a bureaucratic imposition but as a programmed project to develop consensus and hegemony, is the very condition for its rooting and the reinforcement of its organisation.





The last ten years, since the historic turning point marked by the collapse of the USSR, have wholly belied the liberal prophecies that followed. World capitalism increasingly lays the blame for its crisis on the general condition of humanity, threatening a true historical regression of civilisation. The renewal of wars that has stained the last decade - first in Iraq, then in the Balkans, now in Afghanistan - with the death and destruction they have brought, is both the material and the symbolic reflection of this.


The continuing capitalist economic crisis, the repeated reverses suffered by the working-class movement in the 80s and 90s and the lack of a State counter-balance, however distorted, to the power of imperialism after the collapse of the USSR, together with the vast processes of capitalist restoration that have, in different ways, affected vast areas of the world, have all contributed to the reverses in the living and working conditions of the majority of the world's population.


In imperialist countries in every continent (the USA, Europe, Japan), the drop in salaries, the degradation of work and the progressive dismantling of social protection all reflect a far-reaching attack on the previously achieved levels of social security. In the countries where capitalism has been restored (Russia and Eastern Europe) or is in the process of being restored (China), the reintroduction of the dominion of market forces has led to the destruction of every form of social protection, causing a dramatic drop in the quality of life for millions of men and women. In the bloc of dependant countries, entire continents, starting from Africa and much of Latin America, have borne the brunt of further falls in the conditions of the masses while their colonial dependence on imperialism has deepened. Generally speaking, the whole dimension of life is now subject to a widespread regressive trend, marked by the striking increase in degradation, intolerance, and irrationalism. The renewal of war, which has studded the decade, is the eloquent reflection of this dramatic regression. Even only twenty years ago, the idea of a war in the heart of Europe seemed merely a fanciful danger. Twenty years on, not only has war returned literally to the continent, with its terrible burden of death and destruction (the Balkans), but the very concept has gradually become justified again in the collective imagination of the masses. And today the powerful re-launching of international militarism led by the Anglo-American alliance, spurred on by the imperialist war in Afghanistan and the re-arming of Germany and Japan, are also symbolic signs of the historic turning-point in our time.


On another level, year by year, the symptoms and the consequences of a planetary environmental crisis become ever more dramatic: it is a dire confirmation of the incapacity of the current social order to function without destroying the environment. And the social consequences of this crisis tend more and more to combine with the consequences of the political and social crisis devastating many countries in the so-called Third World, causing true "humanitarian catastrophes" and forcing growing numbers of men and women to emigrate in a desperate "flight for survival".


For the first time since the Second World War, in every corner of the world, the future that lies in wait for new generations is no longer progress, but a forewarning of new regression. Nor is this an exceptional scenario. On the contrary, if we analyse the situation in the long-term, we can see capitalism has returned to the historic normality of its decline. What has, rather, been superseded is the exceptional post-war historical parenthesis that had appeared to be the norm in the eyes of several generations.




The theories that emerged in the 90s of a "new capitalism", able to supersede its historic contradictions, have been belied by reality. The capitalist economic crisis now renders a Marxist interpretation of "globalisation" more relevant than ever, outside any "apology" of capital.


In the 90s - in the context of the collapse of the USSR, the backsliding of the working-class movement, US economic prosperity and vast technological innovation - the dominant representation of the world situation as "globalisation" has asserted itself, often interpreted as a "new capitalism" that is structurally different from "traditional" capitalism and hence able to supersede its historic contradictions. From a liberal stance, the myth of globalisation has been grasped as the sign of a new age of prosperity. From the opposing standpoint of much alternative critical thought, it has been seen as the coming of a new absolutist dominion. In both cases, new capitalism has been presented as the dawn of a new empire and evidence of the failure or irrelevance of the Marxist interpretation.


These ideological positions have inverted the real situation in many ways, while events have disproved them. The international capitalist economy has experienced a long wave of crisis for a quarter of a century, marked by the historic ending of the forward spur of the post-war period and the fact that stagnation has prevailed. The fall in the average rate of profit on a world-scale is a clear reflection of this. Since 1989-91, the collapse of the URSS and the processes of capitalist restoration that have come about in Eastern Europe, as well as the emerging restorationist tendencies that have developed in other non-capitalist countries (China) have certainly represented a process of capitalist recomposition of world unity. But this re-conquest - be it total or a trend - of much of the planet has not meant the historic re-launching of a capitalist economy. Eastern Europe, rather than an indicator of a new international economic development, is largely an underdeveloped semi-colony: the huge concentration of social poverty and the consequent low level of consumption are a brake on the expansion of the capitalist market. At the same time, the great reduction in the room for manoeuvre of the dependent countries, following the collapse of the USSR, has meant the area is more directly affected by world stagnation. In this way, the under-consumption of the Third World, driven by the fall or collapse in raw materials, is a further factor in this stagnation. All in all, despite the expansion of the capitalist market, the importance of international trade in the world economy is equal to that in 1914. As a result, despite the vaunted new processes of the international decentration of production, the multinationals still concentrate the bulk of their investments within the borders of the leading States and their own regional markets rather than in an undifferentiated world. Thus, economic globalisation has, in essence, concerned not real production but the financial economy, where it has truly reached a historically new level: but it is just this abnormal expansion of financial parasitism - which confirms even beyond his own predictions Lenin's analysis of imperialism - that reflects the crisis in the average rate of profit from production. Just as at the beginning of the 20th century, far from being the measure of capitalist prosperity, the parasitism of the rentier is born from the crisis of stagnation and its aggravation. The great concentration of technological innovation (the ITC revolution) and the diffusion of new ways of organising labour (so-called Toyotism) can be understood in this context. As in other historical periods (such as the spread of Fordism in the 20s and 30s), intense technological innovation and new experiments in productive organisation did not come about from the prosperity of capitalism but rather from its crisis: as an attempt to re-launch profits through increased productivity and the opening up of new markets that would stimulate the economy. But, contrary to the bourgeois optimism of the 90s, the ITC revolution and its technological applications, however relevant, have not exercised the same force of economic stimulus as, in another context, the railways of the last century or the car in the 1950s. Not only have they failed to guarantee a way out from stagnation, but, after a certain point, they have paradoxically helped to aggravate it: the current grave crisis in the new economy in the heart of American capitalism is precisely the classic expression of overproduction whose more general recessive effects are directly proportional to the intensity of preceding economic growth in the sector. The theory of a "new capitalism" able to supersede the economic cycle could not have been more emphatically belied.




Today imperialism is more than ever before the dominant framework of the world. The theories that it would be superseded in an indistinct globalisation have not found any confirmation in the real world. Applying the Marxist analysis of imperialism to imperialism today, with its deep-seated contradictions and in the context of the current international instability, is the crucial condition for an understanding of future tendencies.


In the 90s, in significant intellectual areas of the "critical left" and in our party's leadership, emerged the idea that the very category of imperialism would be superseded by the model of a global, homogeneous, uniform "empire", exclusively dominated by North America, in which the roles and functions of the old national States would fade away. This led to the idea of Europe as a simple subordinate compartment of the empire and thus the consequent demand for its autonomy on a "social and democratic" basis. On the one hand, this general concept is based on a profound incomprehension of the complexity of the contemporary world; on the other, ignoring the imperialist character of Europe, it seriously disorientates the very political action of communists.


Far from recomposing inter-capitalist contradictions, the collapse of the USSR from 89 to 91 has to some extent set them loose, in the context of a strikingly new scenario. The huge processes of capitalist restoration in Eastern Europe and, in an incomplete form, in China, the new balance of power in relation to the dependent nations and the need to redefine totally the geostrategic balance and zones of influence have inevitably fanned the new world competition between the leading capitalist States. And the terrain for this competition lies entirely within the historic framework of imperialism: it concerns the control of their potential markets, investment and export of capital, the control of raw materials and a low-cost workforce, the levels of the monopolist concentration of financial capital and the political-military control of strategic areas.


The superiority today of US imperialism is objectively indisputable, in terms of its concentration of financial capital and military force, since the collapse of the USSR strengthened traditional American supremacy and its criminal action in the world. But Europe is much more than a mere dependent area. On the contrary, both the vast capitalist restoration in Eastern Europe and the Balkans and the unconnected decline of Japan have fanned a true development of European imperialism as an economic pole in competition with the USA. The very constitution of the European Union since 1992, far from being a simple fact of "undemocratic, liberal" institutional engineering. has represented the strategic attempt, not without contradictions, to guarantee European imperialism a unifying political framework that is equal to its new ambitions. The huge increase the levels of European monopolist concentration in strategic sectors (banking, insurance, telecommunications, defence industries) that the Maastricht framework has encouraged, the European economic hegemony (in particular German and Italian) in the Balkan peninsula and Eastern Europe, the new signs of European imperialism in Arab nations and the Middle-East (viz. Iraq and Iran) and much of Latin America, and the onset of a European militarism with the development of a common defence policy all attest, when taken together, to a new, stronger European position in the world balance of powers.


The striking development of the war-mongering initiatives of US imperialism in the 90s (in Iraq, the Balkans, and Afghanistan) was and is an attempt to counter Europe's military ascent with its own military hegemony and to limit the EU's room for manoeuvre. On the other hand, the European participation in military action under American hegemony did not represent a mere act of "servility", but the desire to participate in the division of the colonial spoils, establishing a priori the best possible conditions for its own imperialist interests. Therefore, even the apparent unity of action of imperialist nations masks, as always, their competition. And the different capitalist national States, far from being united by an indistinct globalisation, represent the crucial instruments - political, diplomatic, military and also economic - of the different competing imperialist middle-classes.


In addition, it is the very framework of the new inter-capitalist contradictions that spurs on the emergence of new regional powers or new ambitions. British imperialism is trying to profit from the contradictions between the USA and the EU by placing itself as the lynchpin of military-diplomatic relations between the two poles in order to strengthen its position. Putin's bourgeois Russia has occupied the void left by the USA-EU competition to re-launch its own international strategic position. In its turn, the Chinese bureaucracy aims to capitalise on Japan's decline to invest its own exceptional economic power in a hegemonic design on much of Asia within a project of internal capitalist restoration that, still incomplete, poses serious incognitos on the future social and political stability of the country.


 In conclusion, the whole international capitalist frameworks bears all the hallmarks not of a homogeneous "unipolar" uniformity, but of a growing potential instability.





The renewal of war in the 90s has an imperialist nature and goal. It does not reflect a generic "fundamentalism of the global market" opposed to a "fundamentalism of terror". It reflects the large-scale re-launching of capitalism's colonial policies, set loose after the collapse of the USSR, driven by the international economic crisis and fanned by the very contradictions between the different capitalist blocs. Today, the war against Afghanistan is totally coherent, in the light of this picture. Therefore, the fight against war "for peace" must be taken up by communists as the struggle of the anticapitalist masses beyond a mere pacifist goal. We must not give any support to the pro-imperialist role of the UN nor must we accept that imperialism has any "right of international policing".


After the collapse of the USSR, the use of war has become a crucial instrument for the definition of the new imperialist world order. The wars on Iraq, Serbia and Afghanistan reflect the new power of imperialism and the new instability of the world. Paradoxically, the use of the criminal forces of imperialism is both its response to the imperialist crisis of hegemony and an indication of its inability to control a stable order and the new world balance of power.


The events of 11th September in America and what then happened must be seen in this general framework, and analysed according to Marxist methodology, not according to an imprecise impressionism or an abstract pacifism. The terrorist attack on New York, and in general pan-Islamic terrorism do not merely reflect an ideological principle ("the fundamentalism of terror"), but they represent a distorted, unacceptable response to capitalist barbarism, in particular the criminal repression of the peoples of the Middle-East, namely the Arab nation and the Palestinian people. The extent of this barbarism and its crimes all over the world are infinitely greater than the worst act of terrorism. Islamic fundamentalism has historically been opposed to the social and democratic aspirations of oppressed peoples and the Arab nation. Consequently, in the context of post-war world order, it has repeatedly been sustained by the colonial powers in order to block internal liberation movements and lay-democratic tendencies in the dependent countries. After the collapse of the USSR, the West no longer had any use for Islamic fundamentalism that became an objective factor of destabilisation. At the same time, the growing social and political desperation in large sectors of the oppressed masses, together with the more organic subordination to the imperialism of the Arab bourgeois regimes, has unfortunately in effect distorted and transformed fundamentalism into widespread revolt.


The roots of the leading states' military reaction to the events of 11th September lie here. As in '91 against Iraq, as in '98 against Serbia, the war against Afghanistan does not represent an abstract "fundamentalism of the market" or a "mistaken response" to terrorism. On the contrary, it represents the will to reaffirm the imperialist grip on the world, against all possible factors of ungovernability. Hence the attempt to utilise the terrorist acts of 11th September and their huge emotional effect as an opportunity to re-launch imperialist interests in strategic areas of the planet.


The concrete goals of the operation are varied:


a) To consolidate and extend direct control over the Middle-East and Central Asia, a crucial area for a stable international order;


b) To intimidate liberation movements in the dependent countries;


c) To attack the world-wide working-class movement, including that in the West, using the pretext of war to carry out massive restructuring (and mass sackings), attack social rights and attempt to disperse the international renewal of the class struggle in grass-roots movements;


d) To combat economic recession by increasing military spending.


In this framework of shared imperialist goals (upheld by the Russian bourgeoisie and the Chinese bureaucrats for their own interests), the shifting sands of international contradictions are confirmed: between American and European imperialism, between British and continental European imperialism, between the frontline of European imperialism (Germany, France and Britain) and Italian imperialism, between Putin's new Russia and the contradictory US and European interests, and between China's new aims and imperialist expansion in central Asia. In short, once again there is no single clear picture of a unipolar globalisation but, on the contrary, a snapshot of new world instability subject to the weight of national or regional interests.


In this general picture, the PRC must redefine its political line in the light of war. Our party's opposition to military intervention in Serbia in the past and Afghanistan now should not be underestimated. Yet this pacifist approach must be abandoned in favour of a categorical fight against imperialism. The appeals to the UN, "international law", and alternative "international police action" have all been and are deeply mistaken. The UN has sustained and covered up all through the 90s the worst piracy of imperialism by promoting the abominable, genocidal anti-Iraq embargo. It does not represent, nor can it represent a so-called international sovereignty, even in a distorted form. In a class-based society, and especially in the era of imperialism, there has never been, nor can there ever be, a neutral international law, above all class interests and all State interests. International law is only a legal justification for the interests of the leading states. And the only right that the leading states exercise and claim is the right to destroy through terror all forms of resistance to their own rule over the world.


As a consequence, communists must develop the fight against war within the anticapitalist and anti-imperialist class struggle side by side with the attacked oppressed peoples. There can be no "international police-force" to use "against terrorism": the only international police-force against the barbarism of capitalism is the international revolutionary perspective of the oppressed masses. And that is the only true alternative response to terrorist fundamentalism.




 The idea of the social and humanitarian reform of capitalism, which has always failed in the past, is today more utopian than ever. The idea of "reforming governments" that in Italy, as in Europe or world-wide, might carry out anti-liberal reforms within capitalism is more than ever not merely an illusion, but a trap for the lower classes and the grass-roots movements. The support that the PRC gave to the French "gauche plurielle" government has proved to be a grave error. In this period of history a strategic rupture with reformism becomes the cornerstone for a revolutionary communist refoundation.


The current international situation confirms more than ever before that the space for historic reformism has been exhausted. The experience of the last two centuries has confirmed the original position of Marx and revolutionary Marxism against any reforming or "governative" illusion, belying wholly and radically the strategic turning-point marked by Stalinism in the international communist movement from the 30s in the perspective of the so-called "reforming governments" or "progressive democracy". Even when exceptional conditions of economic prosperity and great mass movements have led to reforming governments, they have always been opponents of the workers, without exception: their reforming concessions, when snatched by the pressure of the masses, were only made in order to contain the more radical impulses of the movements and protect bourgeois society. Therefore, far from representing a transitional phase in a socialist perspective, reforming governments have often paved the way for reactionary policies or the dramatic reverses in the working-class movement. This was the case in the reforming governments at the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th century (Giolittism) as well as the reforming governments of the "popular front" in the 30s (viz. France and Spain). This was the case in the reforming governments in Europe in the early 70s (viz. Portugal).


Yet more than ever before, the governist illusion is belied at its roots by the lack of a reformist space. The capitalist crisis and the collapse of the USSR have together eroded the material presuppositions for the reforming concessions in the West which had matured in the post-war years. The governing classes are acting everywhere to re-acquire - with interest - all that they had conceded in the past. The bourgeois governments - whether centre-right, centre-left or social-democratic - are everywhere carrying out the very same anti-popular policies of restrictions and sacrifices for the masses. Everywhere, even if in different forms and to different extents, the old reformist parties of the working-class movement are taking on board liberal ideas and attitudes, breaking with their very own tradition. Everywhere, the eventual presence of "communist parties" in government does not only fail to change government strategy in the slightest, but it makes these very parties equally responsible for the counter-reforming policies, exposing them to the deterioration of their relations with the masses.


In particular, the grave error made by our party in supporting the Jospin government in France must be honestly recognised. The analysis given in the IV Congress of PRC in support of the "French anomaly" has been belied by the facts. In the same way, our party newspaper's praise for the French law for a 35-hour working week and more in general the repeated praise for the Jospin government ("A turn to the left in France", "A socialist in Europe"…) have been belied. In fact, the Jospin government has protected and continues to protect the organic interests of French imperialism both at home (with a record number of privatisations and a policy of job flexibility in the clear interest of the bosses) and in foreign policy (active participation in military intervention in the Balkans and Afghanistan). Far from representing an anti-liberal alternative, it is a counter-reforming government, based on a tempered liberalism: this explains both the growing social protest against government policy and the dramatic crisis in the FCP that, albeit critically, supports these policies. Taking the French plural left as an example is even more paradoxical considering the fact that the only left-wing party that is growing in Europe today is the extreme left in France which opposes the plural left government.


Therefore, it is the very depth of the capitalist crisis and the historic turning-point of our time that proposes a strategic rupture with reformism as the cornerstone for a true communist refoundation. Not only would this recover the original position of Marxism and a true break with the Stalinist legacy, but it would be the impelling response to the barbarism of capitalism today, and the regression of civilisation which its crisis has dragged us into.




The international re-launching of a socialist, revolutionary perspective, in its entirety, must be the central tenet of our refoundation: up until now we have avoided the issue. "Another world is possible": not a reform of capital but an alternative system, namely socialism. It does not respond to an "ideological" request nor does it concern solely the identity of communists; on the contrary, it responds to the general interest of the working classes, the oppressed peoples and the great majority of humanity.


The crisis of both capitalism and reformism has re-launched the historic relevance of a socialist perspective as the only way out of the crisis facing humanity. In the framework of a capitalist crisis and the rule of imperialism, all the decisive questions that concern the condition of humankind and our future will not only remain unanswered, but they are bound to be exacerbated. On the contrary, in the grip of the crisis, all the needs and the demands for emancipation and liberation will clash even more with bourgeois ownership and the bourgeois nature of the State.


The most elementary social demands (the defence of salaries, job protection, employment, the defence of social protection) clash everywhere, every day, with their imperious opposites - profit and global competition. The national claims of oppressed peoples, starting from the Palestinian people, clash even more, after the collapse of the USSR, with the monopoly of the imperialist control of the world and its closer alignment with the national bourgeoisie of the dependent countries. Environmental demands are frustrated by the growing assimilation of nature to the capitalist market and the ruthless slashing of costs brought about by the crisis. The anti-militarist demands for peace clash more than ever with capital's winds of war, the new colonial race and the military Keynesian policies of the imperialist States. Fundamental democratic demands themselves clash with the restrictions on freedom, the new xenophobic tendencies and the involution of law caused by the social crisis and war-mongering intoxication. In every area and in every direction, objectively speaking, today all the requests of progress demand a new world order, a new organisation of human society, freed from capitalism and all that goes with it. It is not a question of asking capital to be social, democratic, environmental or pacifist. It is a question of taking up each class, democratic, environmental or pacifist challenge to capital in order to overthrow it.


"Another world is possible". Not a reform of capital, which is utopian and impossible, but socialism: the abolition of capitalist ownership, the acquisition of the means of production, communication and exchange as social ownership, and the organisation of a democratically-planned world economy in which the development model may be redefined according to the quality of life, social needs and relations with the environment and between peoples. Nothing could be more irrational than an economic system in which the increase in poverty (recession and unemployment) is determined by an excess of produced wealth (overproduction). Nothing could be more hypocritical than singing the praises of an international "democracy" where a handful of two hundred multinationals squabbling over the control of the world economy hold an unbridled and uncontrollable power in their hands. Only a socialist revolution can abolish these true monstrosities.


The ever more impetuous development in science and technology (ITC, biotechnology) demonstrates the impelling need for a new social world order. Subject to private ownership and the imperatives of profit, technological and scientific innovations, the potential source of new prospects and progress, are paradoxically changed into the instrument of new subordination and new colonialism (viz. patents). Moreover, the very orientation of scientific and technological research and its management and funding are increasingly subject to the law of financial capital and the managing boards of large companies, and so subordinate to capitalism. Only a democratically-planned economy can, therefore, mark a historic turning-point in the relationship between humankind and science. Only by abolishing private ownership and affirming the social control of producers and consumers on "what and how to produce and who for", in every country and world-wide, will it be possible to free the extraordinary potential of science for the future of humankind. In short, the abolition of private ownership and the market ethos - that is the core of Marx and Engel's Manifesto - inevitably remains a cornerstone of the communist perspective.


It is true, of course, that the reproposition of this general programme does not exhaust the task of communist refoundation. Indeed, the Marxist programme must be continually developed and enriched as a result of the historic changes and the great experiences of the working-class movements of this century. But it is the modernising and updating of the programme that presupposes first of all its recovery and redemption from the profound distortions it has suffered.





A democratically-planned economy presupposes and requires the conquest of political power by the lower classes. Failure to consider the question of power, how to attain it and the revolutionary rupture with the bourgeois State, means losing sight of the socialist perspective and the very idea of revolution, however much rhetoric is employed. In this sense, the PRC is called on to abandon the Gandhian rallying cry of "non-violence" as its cultural reference-point.


In the last decade, several "neo-reformist" political-cultural trends have tried to theorise the superseding of national States and their power as the corollary of "new capitalism". This has led to the explicit abandonment of the very idea of political power and its attainment (viz. Revelli) in the name of the more or less contemporary use of old "co-operativist" theories as the lever for "another possible society". In truth, not only do these theories fail to develop Marxism, they regress to a naïve pre-Marxism, subordinate in practice to liberal policies themselves (viz. the role of the tertiary sector as a frequent surrogate for public services and where a flexible workforce is now concentrated).


Instead, the nature and crisis of contemporary capitalism and imperialism render more than ever the idea of the State and power as the crucial, strategic crux. Against the ideological hypocrisy of liberalism, the national States and their bourgeois governments are and remain a crucial pillar for profit: both in the active promotion of policies of flexibility, privatisation, and cuts in salaries and welfare, and in the abnormal expansion of financial support given to capital in crisis as can be seen even more clearly today in recent American economic policy. But, above all, the renewal of militarism and the anti-democratic restrictive and repressive policies on public order - linked to the crisis in social consensus - reveal more than ever the true nature of the bourgeois State: that is "a body of men in arms" (Engels), the holder of the monopoly of violence against the oppressed peoples of the world and the lower classes in the imperialist metropolises. The experience of Genoa was a clear case in point, as are the politics of terror waged by imperialism in times of war as in times "of peace".


No new social order, no socialism, could affirm itself in the shadow of the ruling apparatus of the bourgeois State. Nor is it imaginable that this apparatus could be an instrument for the lower classes in the transition to a society of free and equal individuals. On the contrary, rupture with the state apparatus and its overthrow are the necessary condition for a process of social liberation. In this sense, the rupture with the bourgeois state apparatus is the cornerstone of the very concept of revolution. And vice-versa, the evocation of revolution outside the strategic call for a revolutionary rupture with the State is only a "fiery but empty phrase", void of any real meaning.


The PRC is, therefore, called to move on from the Gandhian rallying cry of "non-violence" as its cultural reference-point. In the first place, this reference, coherently applied, would break with the history of the class struggle itself, as the universal lever for progress, and in particular with the two centuries of struggle by the working class and oppressed peoples against capitalism and imperialism. In world history, the lower classes' exercise of force has often been an irreplaceable recourse in their defence or struggle for elementary democratic freedoms, union rights, social conquests and national self-determination. Comparing the violence of the ruling classes to that of the lower classes, in the name of an indistinct, generalised rejection of "violence", would mean closing ranks in a metaphysical pacifism. But above all the metaphysics of "non-violence" constitute a rupture with the very perspective of revolution. The apparatus of the bourgeois State has always opposed, and will always oppose, with all the means at its disposal, the prospect of the emancipation of the lower classes. And this is all the more true in the era of imperialism, with the re-launching of militarism and the ever more widespread repressive trends (viz. Genoa). Therefore, the question of force remains, in all its complexity, inscribed in the strategic perspective of revolution. The idea of eluding it through the philosophical call for "non-violence" would mean proposing yet again those old, reformist illusions for which the masses and communists themselves have in past paid a heavy price, as in Chile in 1973. Naturally, our condemnation of the theory and practice of terrorism is loud and clear, just as, on a different level, we condemn all nihilist, destructive, violent culture and practices (Black Block). But we do not do so from a pacifist standpoint, and even less from any identification with the State or its repressive action, but from a revolutionary stance: a political stance intended to develop, in the class struggle, the deep consciousness of the strategic need for revolution as a mass process, and for this very reason, irreducibly contrary to any form of action that re-enforces the State, damaging grass-roots movements and distorting the very identity of the revolutionary perspective in the perception of the majority of workers and young people.






The recovery of the programme of the October Revolution is a crucial condition for refoundation. What failed in the USSR was not State economic planning but the bureaucratic management of the planned economy. What failed in the USSR was not the power of the workers but the bureaucratic caste that destroyed it.


Communist refoundation must recover fully the original programme of the October Revolution.


What failed in the USSR was by no means State economic planning in the place of a capitalist market ethos. On the contrary, the expropriation from the bourgeoisie and the concentration of the tools of production in the hands of the State guaranteed the population great social achievements that are not by accident today in the sights of the capitalist restoration. The World Bank - a source above suspicion - has now declared "The planning led to striking results: growth in production, industrialisation, basic education, healthcare, housing and work for the whole population … In the planned system, the COMECON countries were societies with a high level of education … Even in China, the levels of education were, and still are, exceptional when compared with developing countries ... In the USSR and COMECON countries, firms were urged to employ the maximum number of people, and so a lack of workforce was much more common than unemployment…"


What failed was the bureaucratic management of the planned economy that progressively expropriated the workers and their democratic organisms from any function of management and control to the advantage of a privileged, parasitic social élite. This social élite concluded its historic parabola transforming itself into the agent of capitalist restoration and, therefore, into a new exploiting bourgeois class. This process has confirmed the validity of the Marxist analysis of the degeneration of the USSR, summarised by Trotsky in 1938: "There are two alternative political forecasts: either bureaucracy, becoming ever more the organ of the world bourgeoisie in the working-class State, will destroy the new forms of ownership and push the Nation towards capitalism, or the working class will crush the bureaucracy and pave the way for socialism." (Transition Programme).


And even more, what failed in the USSR was not the conquest of political power, the break-up of the bourgeois state machine, or the power of the soviet. Rather, the revolutionary superseding of the false bourgeois democracy and the construction of a new, higher democracy represented not only an extraordinary historic experience but also a crucial theoretical and practical reference point for the emergence of the communist movement of this century. What failed, on the contrary, was the power of a bureaucracy that step by step dismantled the democracy of the soviet and the party, transforming the dictatorship of the proletariat into the dictatorship of bureaucracy over the proletariat. Its brutal crimes against the workers and communists in the USSR and the international communist movement did not represent an abstract pathology of "power" as such, but the brutal means of defence used by bureaucratic privilege against the original programme of the October revolution. As a consequence, removing the very category of the revolutionary conquest of political power in the name of a "rupture with Stalinism" would mean, paradoxically, celebrating in reality its posthumous victory.


Instead, we must learn from the experience of the URSS, and re-launch the initial programme of Lenin and Trotsky and, in Italy, Gramsci: that is to combine the abolition of bourgeois ownership with the construction of a new power, a democracy of councils. A democracy that redefines the nature and subject of power, supersedes the scission between the masses and the institutions, abolishes the privileges of elected representatives and sanctions the permanent revocability of the latter. A democracy that can supersede and remove that network of legal and illegal power, blatant or hidden, that remains at the heart of every bourgeois democracy as an instrument of permanent intimidation against the workers. Finally, a democracy that is higher because it supersedes and removes the bureaucratic separatism of the bourgeois State and because it combines the respect for political pluralism with the public nature of ownership. In short, it is necessary to move on from the failure of Stalinism not in the direction of a reformist-pacifist "left socialism" but in the opposite direction of a revolutionary communist refoundation.





The working class and the world of work, in its new composition and extension, represent the centre of a socialist perspective. The crisis in the hegemony of liberalism and the emergence of a young generation of workers indicate the current "thaw" and renewal of the class struggle that confirms and re-launches the huge potential of the working-class movement. In its turn, the working class can carry out the historic role of a "general class" only by a recomposition of its demands for emancipation and liberation on an anticapitalist basis.


In the last decade in particular, and in general in the last twenty years, in the context of advanced capitalism, the ruling international circles have launched a vast political-cultural assault intended to affirm the structural crisis or the "disappearance" of the working class. Not only international social-democracy, but also wide political and intellectual spheres of the "critical left" itself have accepted and proposed, in different forms, this myth. Even our party, that has rightly rejected the final conclusions of this approach, has not developed an adequate counter-attack against it.


The world situation radically belies this dominant propaganda. Far from registering the disappearance or down-sizing of the working class, the world scenario is marked by a vast process of proletarization that increases, on the whole, the social mass of dependant workers while modifying its composition. In imperialist countries, the drop in the numbers of the industrial working class, affected by a vast capitalist assault, is combined with the process of proletarization of vast sectors employed in education, service industries, transport, insurance, banking and communications, as well as growing sectors of the young unemployed or those in casual employment. Para-subordinate employment, formally self-employed work, is in itself in reality an expression of casual work paid by the hour. In dependent countries, however, the same international process of productive decentralisation has determined a huge concentration of the industrial working class, often subject to the most classic mechanisms of Taylorist exploitation. On the whole, therefore, the industrial working class is undoubtedly a growing force on a world scale.


The theory of the marginalisation of the class struggle and the crisis in the role of the working class is equally unfounded. The contradiction between capital and work has now permeated more than ever all fields of contemporary capitalist society. On the one hand, the capitalist crisis has spurred the dominant classes to continue their savage assault against labour, irrespective of any variation in the economic cycle. On the other hand, the world of work, that has suffered repeated defeats and lost terrain dramatically in the 80s and 90s, still has a huge potential for battle: none of the principal defeats suffered in the last twenty years was determined in itself by the so-called "structural crisis of the working class", but was rather the responsibility of its political and trade-union bureaucracies. It is true that each defeat, with the lost terrain socially and the consequent demoralisation, affected the balance of power and often indirectly the social proletarian composition. But it was not this that determined it, but rather it was in large part determined by it. The class struggle, within the contradiction between capital and work, remains, therefore, more than ever the central axis for the formation, dissolution and recomposition of social blocs and the balance of power in each capitalist country and internationally.


In addition, in the face of every defeatist prophecy (viz. Marco Revelli), the trend of the renewal of the class movement in different forms today marks much of the world picture. During the 90s, even in a context that was on the whole negative, the working class mobilisation that had developed in capitalist Europe (Italy '94 and France '95) and in Asia (Korea '95) indicated the potential of the concentrated mass social action of the working-class movements, belying completely the sociological theories of much "post-Fordist" analysis. Today, the emergence of a new working-class generation on an international scale has gone hand in hand with a more visible, diffused renewal of the workers' struggle. The "thaw" is a world phenomenon and has a deep material basis: the growing crisis in the hegemony of the liberalist policies, after twenty years, for the majority of the world population. The governing classes have increased their power over the workers for twenty years and their dominion over society, but at the price of social consensus. Their power has grown; their hegemony has shrunk. And today the crisis of the hegemony of the international bourgeoisie has fomented a new reaction, the struggle that has found its natural stimulus among young workers. Millions of young workers no longer resign themselves to a worse future than their parents'. And capital in crisis has nothing to offer them but a further deterioration in working and living conditions. This contradiction will profoundly mark the next historic phase. The re-launching and extension of class mobilisation, beyond contingent unpredictable dynamics and possible temporary ebbs, will tend to pervade the international scenario.


The re-launching of a socialist, revolutionary future can and must find its fundamental roots in this renewal of the international working-class movement as the central actor in an anticapitalist alternative.


This does not mean, nor must it mean, a "working-class - trade-unionist" retreat. The international working-class movement can become the central stimulus of a revolutionary alternative only if it does not limit itself to a mere trade-union or factory-based action, but recomposes all the individuals and the groupings world-wide with the same demands for emancipation and liberation on an anticapitalist basis.


In this light, the so-called theories of "poly-centrism" (embraced by the PRC itself) that assimilate the contradictions between capital and work into an indistinct set of other contradictions (environmental, peace, gender…) invert the real strategic crux. It is not a question of trying to assimilate "environmental culture", "gender culture" and the "peace culture", all too often in their neo-reformist ideological expressions, to the "culture of class". On the contrary, it is a question of developing an anticapitalist, class hegemony in the fields of the environment, peace and women's liberation in the process of a unifying recomposition for an alternative system.





The emergence of a younger generation in the terrain of the struggle (the anti-globalisation movement) shows more than ever the relevance of the re-launching of a revolutionary historic perspective. Convincing the young of the socialist future is a difficult but crucial task of Rifondazione.


The emergence and growth of the world-wide anti-globalisation movement cannot be separated from the renewal of the class struggle. It reflects the same crisis of the hegemony of liberalism that has fanned the renewal of social conflict, just as it reflects the re-awakening of large sectors of young people that marks a turning-point in the mobilisation of workers. The social composition of the movement itself is often marked by the striking presence of the young in casual employment.


But the importance of the anti-globalisation movement must not only be seen from the symptom it reflects but from the consequences it produces. The massive mobilisations against the international capitalist leaders during the Seattle, Prague, Nice and Genoa summits have shown the working classes of the whole world, with a great symbolic force, that the dominant policies can be contested, and that a growing mass of young people have rejected them. This fact has favoured a large, widespread consensus around the movement and a clear growth in the critical anti-liberalist sensitivity of wide sectors of the masses; an objective encouragement for the renewal of the working-class struggle in many countries. Moreover, in several countries, the anti-globalisation mobilisations have seen, in different forms, the direct participation of class sectors and their union and/or political organisations. More in general, the anti-globalisation movement has capitalised on and channelled all the issues to be contested in the current world order (social, democratic, environmental, peace) into a larger picture, on the one hand reflecting and on the other spurring on a widespread change in the public perception of capitalism. The anticapitalist potential of this movement, however latent, is therefore highly significant.


However, restricting ourselves merely to praising the anti-globalisation movement or even promoting its spontaneity as a cult, as our party in fact does today, is a grave error. Indeed, the future policy of the movement is and will be crucial, in terms of the programme that will prevail, the consequent political choices and the mark of social hegemony that they reflect.


A great part of the current hegemonic thinking in the international anti-globalisation movement is neo-reformist. It is not a question of "condemning it" but rather of understanding the historic/social roots and the profoundly negative effect it could have on the movement itself.


In the context of the reverses in the working-class movement in the 80s and 90s, and in a historic context marked both by the crisis in the hegemony of liberalism and the crisis of credibility of "socialism" (in its inherited historic form), a great ferment of "critical" capitalist but not anticapitalist ideas has emerged: ideas and "programmes" intended to find another possible world within capitalism but not alternative to it. These political ideas are not homogeneous but are rather marked by profound differences: they include trends that openly collaborate with world capitalist forces and institutions within the logic of a critical pressure on their work; neo-Keynesian tendencies promoting an anti-speculative rationalisation of capital (viz. the leaders of ATTAC); tendencies based on tertiary sector experience and the recovery of historic co-operative ideas (neo-Proudhonian); or anarchic/rebellious tendencies that result in a sort of "neo-Luddite" behaviour (Black block). But what they hold in common is either the illusory search for an "equitable, fair" capitalism or the claim for their own antagonistic space within capitalism: in either case, they deny both the socialist perspective and the pre-eminence of the contradiction between capital and work as the lever for a social alternative. In this sense, these ideas threaten to deviate the latent anti-capitalism of the movement and the anti-liberalist sentiments of millions of young people towards a future that is both utopian and subordinate, objectively blocking the development of a political consciousness in the movement and the convergence of its struggle with that of the international working class and the liberation movements of oppressed peoples.


Communists must take the lead in the anti-globalisation movement, participating actively in constructing it and its structures, and share the sentiments of the anti-liberalist masses, seizing their extraordinary potential: any hint of disengagement, of doctrinal self-sufficiency in the movement must be openly opposed. The fight against the reformist positions for an alternative hegemony is the very reason for the presence of communists in the movement. Hegemony is neither ideological preaching nor bureaucratic imposition: hegemony is the open fight for the conquest of the politics and the ideals of the movement in an anticapitalist programme; to link all the fundamental issues the movement expresses, in its daily experience (social, environmental, democratic, peace) to a socialist future; to lead as a consequence all the fundamental demands of the movement to a strategic encounter with the working class. The affirmation of an anticapitalist hegemony of the working class, as the central subject of an alternative historic bloc on a world scale in the anti-globalisation movement, is now more than ever an impelling necessity for the movement itself. The new scenario of imperialist war confronts the movement with a taxing task that requires a quantum leap in political consciousness and direction. The clash between imperialism and the oppressed peoples will tend to worsen. Internal class conflict will tend to become increasingly bitter. The movement cannot live by symbolic initiatives, intellectual criticism of world injustice and theoretical, utopian or minimal recipes alone, without risking the tailing off of its support. Nor can it trust in a general practice of "disobedience". This page of the movement's history has, anyway, now been closed. A clear choice in social organisation and strategic direction in every country and on a world scale is needed. A critique of liberalism without openly taking the part of the workers and their struggles cannot be enough. A critique of the dominant powers of the world without taking the part of the dominated peoples cannot be enough. In every field, the alternative between reformist and anticapitalist options, pacifism and anti-imperialism, will be forced by events to be crucial in the debate in the movement.


Communists can and must work on a more arduous but more advanced terrain so that the young develop a revolutionary political and class awareness. The construction of an international revolutionary trend in the anti-globalisation movement is more than ever before an impelling necessity.





The political developments and the dynamics of capital in the 90s were devastating for the environment. All the old problems became even more widespread while new emergencies have arisen on a global scale. Environmental questions and social questions are ever more intertwined. Faced with all this, both ethical-cultural approaches and green reformism have proved inadequate and powerless. The construction of an effective environmental movement requires widening its social base and a programme of clear anticapitalist objectives: in the final analysis, a new development model will not be possible without a new production model nor without overturning capitalism. This is the strategic approach that communists must bring as their contribution to the movement.


Capitalism is neither willing nor able to find a solution for environmental problems; on the contrary, environmental devastation is today an intrinsic part of the logic of profit and the free market. During the 90s environmental problems and crises multiplied as the involution of political and social conditions and the worsening of environmental conditions became ever more intertwined. The truth is that the objective dynamics of capitalist production methods - increasingly less held in check by the social and political limits that in the preceding decades had led to the growth of environmental movements and the adoption of a series of actions for environmental protection - have led to the spread and worsening of historic problems (pollution, poisonous factory emissions, devastation of the territory, the development of high-risk technologies, the degradation of the natural and historic habitats, etc) and the creation of new emergencies on an ever increasing, potentially global scale (the problem of waste, the ozone layer, the greenhouse effect, deforestation, the impoverishing of bio-diversity, etc).


The working-class defeats and the search for the lowest possible production costs have, in fact, resulted in the abandonment of measures for environmental protection and health prevention, the exploitation of resources and land in the most destructive way possible and a general inattention to social limits and environmental compatibility. The liberalisation of trade tends to generalise an unbridled, unlimited exploitation of environmental resources, threatening local systems of regulation. With the privatisation of services, the logic of profit has appropriated natural, commonly-held resources such as water and raw materials while scientific and technological progress have been monopolised through patents, thereby ousting all democratic controls and all concerns for social order (the examples of GMOs and anti-aids drugs are emblematic). Alimentary safety itself has become a democratic problem not only in Third World countries, where it has always been the product of imperialist exploitation, but even in advanced countries ("mad cow" disease) where it is the result of the uncontrolled production that dominates the agro-alimentary sector under the impetus of competitiveness and profit.


On the other hand, the international balance of power allows multinationals, through the choices of Imperialist governments, to impose their will in the negotiations for international agreements on environmental issues (viz. the attitude of the US government over the Kyoto Protocol on greenhouse-gas emissions). Consequently, the irrational exploitation and destruction of the forests, the impoverishing of biological resources, desertification, climatic changes and the increasingly frequent "natural catastrophes" that derive from these changes all remain without effective responses. The future of humanity can be increasingly identified in the alternative "socialism or barbarism" as the trend towards barbarism is without doubt hastened by the progressive degradation of the planet's capacity to sustain human development.


Faced with these developments, in which social and environmental questions are increasingly intertwined, both merely ethical-cultural approaches and traditional green reformist politics are ever more inadequate and powerless. The environmental movements must now tackle a two-fold challenge: on the one hand, the need to widen and unify their own social base, integrating the needs and demands of the different groups that are victims of the destructive tendencies of capital; on the other, the need to formulate clear objectives for their struggle and a credible perspective. This is possible only in an anticapitalist light: indeed, a new development model could not be possible, in the final analysis, without a new "production method", or rather without overturning capitalism. This is even truer when considering the intrinsic international nature of environmental problems. And this is the strategic approach that communists must bring as their contribution to the action and construction of the movement.


On another level, the environmental question poses a challenge and a duty to Rifondazione Communista: the need to bring its own theoretic instruments and concept of socialism up-to-date. However, even here, we do not start from square one. Concerning the former, the recovery of Marxism's original thinking on the capitalism-nature relationship is a necessary passage to develop adequate instruments to deal with the current environmental issues and for a positive discussion with the critical contributions of ecological thought. On the other hand, it is important to rediscover and re-interpret the exceptional experience of Soviet power in the early years when, thanks to Lenin's farsightedness, a true "ecological spring" developed in the USSR. Ecological legislation was approved, an independent popular movement for nature protection developed and environmental sustainability introduced as one of the restrictions on economic planning. This extraordinary, anticipatory experience was first interrupted and then quashed by the Stalinist repression at the beginning of the 30s, but it remains a living proof that neither Marxist inspiration nor the end of socialism, but their Stalinist negation, is responsible for the failure of so-called "real socialism", in environmental terms and the removal of the environmental issue from the communist movement's agenda for many years.





The recomposition of an alternative social bloc involves drawing up a system of demands and a method able to link the immediate objectives of our action to the unifying perspective of an anticapitalist alternative. This means abandoning the neo-reforming concepts that, in different ways, propose yet again the traditional separation between a "minimal programme" (immediate objectives) and the "maximal programme" (socialism) that was so dear to the II International at the end of the 19th century and beginning of the 20th century and to combat which the communist movement emerged.


The current turning-point has made the traditional separation between a minimal and maximal programme of the working-class movement totally unthinkable. Within the capitalist crisis, each immediate objective, each real mass movement tends to clash with its limited compatibility with capital. At the same time, the political consciousness of the masses and their movements, all the more after the defeats suffered, is much less than the objective implications of their needs. This basic contradiction makes the communist conception relevant once again in the transition programme: a programme that is able to create a bridge between the current consciousness of the masses and the need for an anticapitalist rupture.


The transitional programme cannot merely be limited to an academic, rigid scheme. On the contrary, by its very nature, it requires a flexible structure that would allow it to relate to the concrete dynamics of the class struggle. But at its heart must lie its methodology: namely, the return to revolutionary goals in daily politics, in every social, territorial or union setting, irrespective of any sectorial, local or trade-unionist logic. This is why a transition programme cannot be compatible with capitalism: on the contrary, it is based on the supposition that the general needs of the masses are, in this period of crisis, incompatible with the capitalist structure of society.


Today, the deepening of the world capitalist crisis, the world-wide re-awakening of a widespread class awareness and the emergence of the anti-globalisation movement all determine a new framework of reference for a transitional programme, not as an abstract academic exercise but as a response to the new levels of social conflict and the new demands made by millions of young people.


On the crucial issue of the class struggle, the deepening of the capitalist crisis needs, objectively speaking, a higher level in response, both in relation to the international unification of the struggles and the international working-class movement's programme of action.


The traditional, so-called defensive, demands to protect salaries, jobs and welfare naturally now more than ever retain all their immediate pre-eminence. But they require a unifying framework for a communist perspective that openly challenges the capitalist bases of social regression and indicate a comprehensive alternative. To give some examples:


a) the international assault on employment, in all its historic significance, makes our goal to reduce working hours for the entire working class internationally, outside any logic of negotiation on flexibility and entirely financed by profit, even more relevant. This does not mean reducing the issue of the working week to a mere trade-union demand or, worse, leaving it in the hands of presumably "reforming" bourgeois governments, but instead we should adopt it as a general anticapitalist goal. "The work that there is should be re-distributed among all until all the unemployed have found a job": this demand for a sliding scale in working hours would be the precursor of a socialist organisation of the economy based on this elementary rational principle that capitalist irrationality ignores. Therefore, it must be set forward forcefully as a "popular" example of a alternative system in the new generation of the international working class.


b) The precariousness of work world-wide, as the strategic axis of the capitalist assault, demands a general, international answer. A merely defensive attestation, category by category, country by country, a logic of negotiation or barter, such as work for welfare, represents merely a different way of accepting the rules laid down by the adversary. Communists must, on the other hand, present a unified set of demands in every country: the abolition of all laws for casual labour and discrimination in employment, on the basis of the universal principle "an equal salary for equal labour", a guaranteed minimum salary in all categories for all workers, regardless of national, sectorial or company barriers; a guaranteed salary for the unemployed and young people looking for their first job, outside any exchange for "minimum" (i.e. casual) work. This set of demands would not only indicate the possible terrain for a strategic recomposition of workers and the unemployed, but would at the same time clash head on with the structural policies of international capitalism in crisis, taking on more than ever an objective, anticapitalist significance.


c) The closure of firms and the relative laying-off of the workforce, the natural result of the capitalist crisis and the restructuring processes induced by global competition, is a crucial problem for the orientation of the working class movement. Isolated episodes of resistance, or worse, the union bureaucracy logic of a negotiated "shock-absorbed" selling-off of jobs, one by one, plant by plant, sector by sector, has gone hand in hand with the reverses in the working-class movement, the snatching-back of union conquests and the loss of union power in various countries over these years. The international unification of resistance around a possible unitary aim in every country is crucial. This could be nationalisation, without indemnity and under the control of the workers threatened by lay-offs. In France, in the Danone factories, significant numbers of the young working class have proclaimed in mass demonstrations this elementary demand: "lay off the bosses". Communists can and must seize this and use it as an emblematic case that links the concrete, dramatic question of the defence of jobs to challenging capitalist ownership.


More in general, this transitional method can and must respond from a class-based standpoint to the set of emerging demands coming from the new movements and the younger generation, always referring back to the crucial question of ownership and power. For example:


1. the demand for healthcare, food safety, environmental renewal and quality has been expressed by the international anti-globalisation movement and has been widely sustained by workers and consumers in general. However, the hegemonic leadership of the movement's programme for the very problems they denounce still lies within a reforming logic: campaigns for public education for "humanitarian behaviour", no-logo campaigns, boycotts or "critical consumption". The common element in all these proposals, although they include a positive criticism of profit, is the strategic avoidance of the crux of ownership and the class struggle. And this condemns them to a strategic blind alley in stark contrast with their apparent tangibility or the media attention they attract. Naomi Klein herself explicitly admits this impasse with great intellectual honesty (viz. No Logo). Therefore, communists must focus the level of analysis and direction in the movements, directing the issues onto the terrain of anticapitalist objectives. For example:


a) making the accounts of food and pharmaceutical industries public, so that thecommercial, industrial and financial secrecy that hides profit speculation from the public is abolished.


b) nationalising pharmaceutical, food and polluting industries without indemnity and under social control, starting from the huge monopolies in these respective sectors, so that health and food, the basic necessities for life, are brought under public control.


c) The abolition of patents, since patents are the sequestration of discoveries that are useful or decisive for everyone by the few for profit. Their abolition is the crucial condition for social control and use of science.


2) The anti-militarist demand for peace will be increasingly strengthened by the predictable course of world events. On this terrain too, the pacifist approach of the hegemonic leadership of the movement, as well as removing an anti-imperialist approach and guaranteeing the UN's role, has avoided all programme tenets that link the demand for peace to the fight to bring down the capitalist interests that push for war. Instead, communists must adopt the opposite approach. Today, the war industry and its increasing level of capitalist concentration (the USA, Europe, Japan) is driven both by the renewal of imperialism and by the re-adoption of military Keynesian policies to counter the crisis. In the wider mobilisation against the war, therefore, it is necessary to openly discuss the question of the military industry and the interests of war taking on board the following demands:


a) making the accounts of war industries and activities connected to war speculation public since the public has the right to see and understand the cynical profit-making of so many "patriotic" capitalists thanks to the humanitarian bombing of the poor.


b) nationalising military industries without indemnity and under social control, because it is a fundamental condition of social hygiene as well as providing for their possible conversion to civilian production with full guarantees for the employment of the workers in these industries.




3) The fight against the poverty of the so-called Third-World countries is one of the most debated and widely-held tenets of the anti-globalisation movement world-wide. But a significant group of the leading intellectuals in the movement hold a reductive vision of the problem and, above all, suggest deviating solutions. These include regressive pre-capitalist solutions which, independently of their dubious realism, would end up worsening the conditions of the masses (e.g. Latouche's neo-protectionist solutions), vain solutions which might be integrated or are in part subordinate to the capitalist economy (e.g. fair trade and fair banking) or political solutions for negotiated compromises with imperialism (such as Jubilee 2000's support for debt re-negotiation). Communists, while building up a deep understanding of the sensitivities of millions of young people fighting against poverty, can and must oppose these false, vain solutions, suggesting precise transitional demands within a general perspective of the socialist re-organisation of the world economy:


a) the real, total abolition of the foreign debt of the dependent nations: because if debt is a noose around the neck of these countries, its re-negotiation would be a second noose, thanks to the barter of debt reduction and certainty of repayment, debt reduction and the cession of strategic share packages (as Susan George herself had to admit)


b) the expropriation of the 200 multinational giants who manage the world economy, the direct agents and greatest beneficiaries of the politics of international theft and pillage, to be placed under the control of workers and consumers. There can be no escape from poverty, no new sustainable economic world model, without abolishing the immense power of these giants. A large-scale campaign to make their accounts public, their bank accounts transparent and nationalise their goods should be encouraged from country to country.





Rifondazione can and must take on board the central issue of women's liberation within the communist perspective, opposing any economically-defined analysis or reduction and any idealistic drift.


Against any economically-defined analysis or reduction, Rifondazione must openly recognise the specific nature of female oppression, that exacerbates class exploitation for proletarian women. This oppression, through domestic slavery, is organically functional to capitalist reproduction.


At the same time, Rifondazione must criticise and reject the idealistic theories today present in a significant part of feminist thinking that interpret female oppression as due to the male imposition of their own symbolic code on women. This theory, that sets aside the (complex) historic origin of female oppression and attributes its roots to biology alone, often reduces women's liberation to a symbolic, cultural revolution (the re-appropriation of their own, removed language) separating it in fact from any social content and taking it away from the concrete terrain of conflict.


On the contrary, the re-launching of a women's lib perspective is inseparable from the class-based interpretation of the contemporary world. The intertwined crisis of capitalism and reformism is doubly violent in its effects on the conditions of women. In imperialist countries, mass unemployment, casual labour, flexibility and the privatisation of services affect first of all the female population. In Eastern Europe, now undergoing the brutal introduction of market laws, there has been a dramatic fall in women's living conditions. In the countries in the so-called Third and Fourth World, the war and misery caused and fomented by the neo-colonial policies of the West and exacerbated by the religious fundamentalism of theocratic regimes (Iran and Afghanistan) make women's conditions literally unbearable and inhuman. Immigrant women world-wide are in particular the weakest link in the chain of female oppression. The reverses suffered by the working-class movement have everywhere brought with them the loss of women's social and democratic rights that had been snatched in the preceding phase of progress. And this has exasperated and worsened female oppression specifically. It is no accident that today, while the dismantling of the welfare state proceeds, the ideology of the family that exalts the "natural" female vocation for caring has been promoted so vehemently, in order to place yet again the weight of the ill, old and disabled on women's shoulders to lighten the burden on public spending and business. These are the many reasons why the turning-point at the end of the century has again revealed the close link between women's liberation and an anticapitalist alternative. The renewal of a strong women's liberation movement internationally that links democratic and gender demands to the fight against social oppression is a crucial component for the re-launching of a socialist perspective. At the same time, only a socialist perspective that breaks capital's dominion over the world, can create the necessary conditions, not self-sufficient, for an effective liberation of women from their specific oppression. Therefore, women's liberation and the class struggle are inseparable in the light of a revolutionary perspective.


Therefore Rifondazione has a two-fold task: to develop a consciousness of the necessity of women's liberation in the working class, contrary to all manifestations of prejudice, and to develop an awareness of the pre-eminence of the class struggle in the women's movement and the working-class movement as the strategic cornerstone for their own liberation, promoting in this light the greatest possible zeal in women's daily struggle for the defence and widening of their social and gender rights.




Rifondazione Communista is more than ever an international necessity: as the refoundation of a communist International based on a revolutionary Marxist programme that is able to bring together all the revolutionary organisations and currents of the anti-imperialist, working-class movement in the world.


The deepening of the social and political world crisis, the historical relevance of the socialist perspective as the only real, progressive response and the great difference between the anticapitalist potential that lies in the renewal of the movements and the limits of their political consciousness all make the prospect of refounding the revolutionary communist International even more crucial. It is the indispensable instrument for an alternative policy line, for the development of the political consciousness of the masses and the anticapitalist recomposition of the vanguard.


The Marxist movement has always been conceived as an international movement not only in its strategic perspective but also in an organisational sense. It was the very international nature of the communist programme that defined the international nature of the communist party. Marx and Engels' Manifesto, in 1848, was drawn up as an international platform for an international association of workers (the League of Communists). The international nature of the party was then reaffirmed by the 1st International (1864-1876) and the 2nd International (founded 1889). The reforming drift of the latter, culminating in the majority's support for the war (1914) was opposed by the International's revolutionary left (led by Lenin, Trotsky, Luxemburg and Liebnecht) who, in 1915, launched the prospect of a new revolutionary International: the Third Communist International that would be formally constituted after the victory of the Russian revolution (greeted by Lenin as the "beginning of world revolution").


Stalinism broke radically with the international tradition of revolutionary Marxism, its programme and consequently its organisation. Starting from a new, anti-Marxist theory of "socialism in a single country" - the ideological expression of the interests of a new social bureaucratic clique - Stalinism led the International first to collaborate with the "progressive bourgeoisie" government and class (the "popular fronts"), then to its formal dissolution in 1943. The representation of Stalinism as a sort of dogmatic Marxist fundamentalism - the prevalent representation in the current majority of the PRC - is therefore, even in this sense, the exact opposite of historical truth.


Today there can be no true, deep rupture from Stalinism without returning to the perspective of the communist international as the world party for the working class. The refusal to adopt this perspective, even as the terrain for discussion, has represented and still represents a grave error in the governing majority of PRC. This is the case whether the refusal comes from a "camp" theory, that considers the inter-state "anti-imperialist" alliance between Russia, China and India as the axis for its international perspective, a view that is completely without any class basis and has been radically belied by the current war; or whether the refusal comes - as is the case for the most part - from the superimposition of the old position of left-wing social democracy ("the reforming governments") and the ideas of the anti-Leninist "new left", in order to combine their enthusiasm for the movements with support for the Jospin government.


In truth, only a strategic, programmatic change of direction in the PRC could recover this international perspective that is an undeniable, fundamental part of Refoundation. The international we are working for must be a wide, democratic grouping with clear political tenets. As Lenin affirmed: "without a revolutionary theory there is no revolutionary movement". A communist international, therefore, can only be based on the theory and programme of revolutionary Marxism, developed historically by the great theorists of Marxism: Marx, Engels, Trotsky, Luxemburg and, in Italy, Gramsci. These positions must obviously be continually brought up to date on the basis of the evolution of events, but as Gramsci declared " on their own tenets" and not against them


The difficulty in refounding a revolutionary International on a wider basis has been shown by the experience of the past decades. But this difficulty must not be seen as an obstacle but rather a stimulus for this prospect, especially in this new historical context that is emerging, so complex but so rich with new potential. After the collapse of the USSR the political representatives of the working-class movement regrouped dramatically. The old policy of the working-class, anti-imperialistic movement had gone bankrupt, documented once again by the tragedy of war. The growing rebellion of the lower classes and the young world-wide against the current international order makes a revolutionary reference point even more necessary. The global party of the working class and its vanguard can and must oppose "global capital".


The PRC must therefore put forward a proposal for organised discussion aimed at an international grouping as soon as possible, on the basis above, among the organisations and revolutionary currents in the world working-class, anti-imperialistic movement.




Italian capitalism is imperialist in character. In the nineties, the transition to the Second Republic and full participation in European imperialism led to an enlargement of its material basis and a more marked international presence.


For a long time, Italian capitalism has not been a "ragamuffin capitalism" but has participated in the group of dominant countries internationally, and so in the carving-up of raw materials, zones of influence and areas of dominion. In this picture, since 1992, the pressure from the international capitalist crisis, the collapse of the URSS and the development of the imperialist European pole had a decisive effect on the crises of the First Republic. On the one hand, the international capitalist crisis and the re-emergence of the anti-imperialist contradictions led Italian imperialism to tackle the structural burden of its "delays" and "distortions". On the other hand, the collapse of the USSR has dispelled the true historical basis for the bourgeois discrimination against the old PCI leaders, allowing access to government. Therefore, financial capital has been able to distance itself from its old political representatives in the First Republic and begin a far-reaching regrouping of its own political and institutional structures.


Economically speaking, the great bourgeoisie has greatly consolidated its material basis in the last decade. The process of the privatisation of strategic sectors of the economy, such as banking, energy and telecommunications, and the restructuring and concentration of the credit system have worked together to reinforce the basis of financial capitalism and the specific importance of the great monopolies, the principal beneficiaries of privatisation. As the European "single currency" comes into force, Italian imperialism has a strikingly increased structural importance which, not by chance, corresponds to its growing attention for foreign policy.


Simultaneously, the Italian bourgeoisie has had to tackle the problem of the social impact of policies that are the consequence of its further imperialist leap forward. The material impoverishment and splintering of huge class sectors, the dynamics of the "proletarianisation" of the lower strata in the lower middle class and the fall in living conditions in vast areas in the South of Italy all make up the potential critical mass of a dangerous social explosion in the eyes of the bourgeoisie. In addition, the divide within the lower-middle and middle classes in the context of European integration, above all in the North East where a separatist, corporatist, wealthy clique has emerged, has produced new contradictory groups even within the same dominant social bloc.





The centre-left has not only represented the bad policy of the "Italian Left" but it has represented the political expression of Italian imperialism and its strategic investment in the nineties. The series of centre-left governments have waged the heaviest social assault on the lower classes of the last thirty years, thereby paving the way for Berlusconi's victory. The coalition with the bourgeois centre has thus condemned the working-class movement to a heavy social and political defeat.


In the nineties, within the bipolar choice, the centre-left became the privileged point of reference for the great capitalist families in order to ensure the peaceful subordination of the working-class movement in relation to the crisis and European integration. The politicians of the centre-left, even if in different parties, had already been the essential reference point for the Italian bourgeoisie in 1992 and 1993 when Amato and Ciampi began the Italian "transition". The defeat of the progressive pole and the victory of the right in 1994 represented a moment of contradiction that led the bourgeoisie to play the Berlusconi card for a short time. But even in that brief arc of time, financial capital's relationship with the right was of instrumental use alone, not a strategic reference. It was the strategic defeat of the first Berlusconi government - which had proved incapable of managing either a stable policy of agreement-seeking or winning a decisive battle against the workers -that attracted bourgeois investment to the centre-left again: in the Prodi government, in the D'Alema government, and in the Amato government. Therefore, the centre-left has not represented solely the "bad" policy of the working-class movement and the "Italian left" but the political expression of the great bourgeoisie. In its turn, the DS apparatus, as the pillar of the centre-left, has been a decisive part of the bourgeois design in the nineties, as the means of a subordinate enlistment of a significant part of the working masses in the centre-left.


It is mistaken to state simply that "the centre-left has failed". From the bourgeois point of view, the centre-left governments have all represented excellent boards of directors. Both in terms of an economic policy designed to sustain large manufacturing industries (purchasing incentives, money for scrap) and in terms of their structural and strategic interests nationally and internationally (casual, temporary labour, privatisation) but even more so in maintaining an extraordinary social harmony. At the same time the organic unity of the bourgeois policies of the centre left has progressively mined its political and social base. Politically speaking, it is the liberal evolution of DS social democracy and the growing ramification of its direct relations with the elite that have progressively sharpened the internal power-struggle between the DS apparatus and the traditional bourgeois centre represented by the Ulivo. The struggle for the hegemony of a new "democratic party" as the main representative for the Italian bourgeoisie has been an element of fundamental instability for the coalition.


Above all, on a social level, central-left policies have progressively dispersed their rank and file support. The bloc of the great bourgeoisie and the bureaucracy of the organised working-class movement have proved incapable of hegemony in Italian society. On the one hand, it has opened up room for rebellion in organised sectors of the lower-middle and middle industrial classes against the so-called privileges of the large companies and the particular favours granted to them by the Ulivo governments and the CGIL bureaucracy. On the other hand, the deeply de-motivated rank and file supporters of the centre-left, mainly dependent workers, have responded with political passivity, often distancing themselves from the centre-left or rejecting it.


The victory of the Polo delle Libertà on 13th May was, therefore, its capitalisation of the crisis of the progressive, centre-left Pole's policies and its social bloc over the last decade. This is the real reason for Berlusconi's victory, and the new political season ahead repeats an old lesson, recurring all through the events of the twentieth century and the history of the Italian working-class movement: any collaboration with the bourgeois centre will mean defeat for the workers, either from a social or union stance, or in more general political terms. It is a fact: the alliance with the centre that was to have "beaten the right" paved the way for its victory. This is the lesson for the decade. It is a lesson that charges the ruling apparatus of the DS and the unions with their responsibility as the true organisers of the defeat. But it is a lesson that inevitably calls into question, on a different level, the political course of our party over the last ten years.





The long cycle of PRC policy, marked by the conditioning, pervasion and contamination first by the "progressive pole" and then by the centre-left, has been unsuccessful, both in terms of the general interest of the working-class movement and in terms of building our party. It is the proof of the failure of reformist politics nationally and the measure of the need to change direction.


After ten years of history, this critical appraisal can no longer be avoided. Our party, from its very foundation, has certainly been an important obstacle to the regressive processes in the early nineties and a valuable factor for the political regrouping of the vanguard forces. Our party has successfully resisted the repeated attempts at institutional smothering that followed in the nineties (especially by the leaders of the DS and Centre-left). The PRC still represents, in the current political panorama, the natural, valuable reference point for the dynamics of the movements of workers and the young, which would be otherwise aimless or without more consistent, credible references.


But a serious, honest appraisal cannot stop at this. A communist party cannot be an end in itself, but must be a class instrument to achieve a project for an alternative hegemony. And the results of ten years' deliberate political direction are inevitably to blame. For ten years, in different ways and contexts, the ruling majority in the PRC has consistently rejected building up the party as an alternative strategic force, opting for a "reforming" policy of pressure and conditioning by the DS apparatus and the political line-up of the bourgeois alternation (first the progressive pole, then the Centre-left).


This policy has not been linear but has seen abrupt, hasty changes in its parliamentary allegiances over this period (from opposition to government majority and from government majority to opposition). But it has maintained this basic strategic course. Indeed, each time our position as the opposition to government was intended to pave the way, yet again, for a (potential or real) regrouping with the line-up of the alternation government. This was the case during the formation of the progressive pole in spring 94 around a common electoral government programme. This was the case in 95-96 in the abrupt passage from our radical opposition to the Dini government to the formation of a majority government with Prodi and Dini. This was the case after the rupture with the Prodi government. First there was an attempt to re-form the old majority government after a hoped-for phase of "decantation"; then, after the unexpected failure of that attempt (and the headlong clash with the D'Alema government over the Balkans war), 14 (out of 15) regional government agreements were stipulated for the administrative elections in 1999, which was clearly intended to then be projected on a national scale but was destroyed by the Centre-left's clamorous defeat. Even after the by now inevitable failure of this regrouping policy, opting for "non-belligerence" towards the Centre-left in the political elections and the increased collaboration with the Ulivo in local government have sanctioned in different ways the basic continuity of this strategy.


This strategy has been seen to be deeply mistaken. Upheld in the name of a principle of "realism" and "the concreteness" of the possible results, it has not produced any real or concrete results. All attempts to "contaminate" and reform the progressive pole and then the Centre-left, whether in government or opposition, have been belied by the liberal shift in the DS and the fundamental relationship between the Centre-left and the Italian bourgeoisie. And, what is more, these attempts have had the opposite effect - in a dramatic passage, our party shares responsibility, for more than half of the preceding government term, for the adoption of anti-popular policies, with grave effects not only on the material conditions of the workers but also on the evolution of class relations (a dramatic drop in strike hours and the stabilisation of social harmony). Moreover, our continuing collaboration in local government in the Regions and cities has shown yet again, on a different level, our continuing political agreement on privatisation, the reduction in social spending and flexible policies which totally contradict our national role as the opposition.


The chosen line has also failed to lead to a growth in our party membership. Formally defended as a way to widen electoral consensus and the social rooting of the PRC, this line has failed to achieve either objective. After ten years, the party's electoral consensus is objectively less than that at its foundation. These are indeed difficult years, but this fact must be interpreted in the context of a historical passage that has seen the drifting and crisis in the DS, the explosion of crisis in its political and organisational structure. The PRC has not taken advantage of the vacuum to the left of the DS. The extraordinary leaps forward in 93 as the "heart of the opposition" in the working-class cities of Turin and Milan, the measure of our great potential, were successively destroyed by the wavering policies of the following years. And the fact that we have failed to develop an alternative hegemony of the lower classes has not represented solely our party's failure, but a fact that is loaded with grave consequences for the all Italian society, as the victory of the Centre-right has proved.




The prospect of a plural left government based on a reforming programme as a post-Berlusconi solution does not only fail to recognise the need for a critical appraisal of the past ten years, but it proposes yet again, in essence, the very same policy. Pursuing it from the standpoint of the movements would not only fail to change its nature, but would profoundly damage the movements themselves and their future policy.


The strategic proposal for the plural left government represents a profound error and holds great risks for our party. After having pursued unsuccessfully for the last ten years the "contamination" first of the progressive pole and then the Centre-left, we cannot propose yet again, as though nothing had happened, the same basic line; otherwise we would end up following a path we have already been down and that has already failed. Not only in Italy, but all over the world. At national level, the plural left had already been experienced by our party during the progressive Pole's bloc in 94 (DS, Greens, Orlando's Rete, and PRC). Its official programme (viz. Liberazione, 4/2/94) proclaimed, within "the competition for the government of the country", "Italy's authoritative, solid presence in international markets and internationally" and the appeal "to those forces in the business world that take to heart the social, civil and democratic growth of Italy". On this basis, it proposed "combining social equity and the logic of efficiency and the market ethos" in order to "promote privatisation where appropriate", to carry out "the recovery of the deficit which will imply austerity" albeit with "the guarantee that any sacrifice will be shared fairly". Berlusconi's electoral victory blocked the experimentation of this governmental programme, keeping the PRC in opposition until 1996. But that programme reflected and reflects the only possible character of a plural left government with the DS apparatus; namely, that would subordinate the interests of the working-class movement to the needs of Italian capitalism.


At an international level, the current experience of a plural left government in France (PS-PCF-Greens) has been and is unequivocal. If in the first French plural left government (81-83) under Mitterand austerity and workers' sacrifices went hand in hand with the formal language of the reforming tradition, in Jospin's government austerity and sacrifice have gone hand in hand with a (tempered) liberal language of privatisation and flexibility. It is yet more proof that, in the current picture of the capitalist crisis and global competition, a "plural left" government does not differ, in essence, from an ordinary liberal bourgeois government. This is another reason why our cry for an "Italian Mitterand" after the last political elections, and praise for the Jospin government (that "contests the entire logic of flexibility and introduces directly into the economy the parameter of the defence of workers' interests" as the PRC secretary declared in a front-page editorial on 29/9/99) have represented a grave error that our party must come to terms with. Above all, the prospect of a plural left government in Italy today would have an even more regressive nature than in France or compared to the Progressive Pole in 94. Unlike Jospin's party, the DS apparatus, by a large majority, has broken with the role and function of social democracy to present itself as the direct representative of the Italian bourgeoisie, in open competition with the Margherita and, on the other side, with Forza Italia. A "plural left" coalition in Italy would therefore be, in fact, the re-proposal of a centre-left.


The pursuit of the prospect of a reforming plural left government as an outlet for the grassroots movements and their "contaminating" action does not make this project any better. On the contrary, in many respects, it makes it worse. Instead of directing the work of the masses towards the autonomy of the movements from the liberal bourgeois centre, it uses the movements as a lever to put pressure on the DS apparatus and the Ulivo. Instead of freeing the movement and movements from any illusion of being able to contaminate the liberals, it promotes this very illusion in the movement. It is the exact opposite of an autonomous class-based politics. Above all, it damages profoundly the movement and its future as none of the fundamental tenets of mass movements, whether working-class or anti-global, could find any satisfaction in a bourgeois plural left government.


For all these reasons, this prospect must be openly and explicitly rejected by our party's V Congress.




The V PRC Congress must adopt the development of the working-class movement's independence from any bourgeois force as the new strategic axis of party policy. This means the strategic autonomy from any old or new force in the bourgeois centre (Centre-left or liberal DS apparatus), rupture with any hypothesis of a government of alternation with these forces and the adoption of the perspective of an anticapitalist class alternative as the strategic outlet for mass opposition and the recomposition of the struggles in the new historical bloc.


Our party's political experience over the last ten years, a class analysis of the political situation and the re-emergence of mass movements all demand a fundamental political change of direction: a change that will adopt as its basic axis the autonomy of the working-class movement and mass movements from any bourgeois force and thus claim an autonomous class pole, openly opposed to the ruling classes and their alternating governments (Centre-right and Centre-left). The politics of the autonomous class pole do not concern solely the certainty and clarity of the autonomous strategic position of our party as the opposition to the two alternating bourgeois poles, which is, however, a necessary condition. It concerns above all a proposal for the masses that recovers an elementary principle of Marxism: the counter-position of the workers' interests and those of all the individuals and groups in an alternative social bloc against the ruling classes' interests, and all their political representation in relation to the perspective of social revolution. The rupture with the "Centre" in any of its expressions, whether old or new, must therefore not only be a binding principle for the PRC but a fundamental demand of communists in the movements. In this way we would avoid building up sectarian compartments but we could indicate the terrain for a wider unity within the autonomy of the working-class and mass movements in the fight against the bourgeoisie for an anticapitalist alternative.


The proposal for an alternative, autonomous class pole is even more relevant after the long season of the Centre-left: millions of workers were subordinated to the Ulivo when it became the chosen channel to represent the Italian bourgeoisie. Millions of workers have experienced first hand the social and political failure of this collaboration with the bourgeoisie. The demand for a rupture with the Centre can therefore use this actual experience and pave the way for the young generations that are now lifting up their heads again. Furthermore, each day shows even more clearly the organic relationship between the Ulivo and the ruling classes, even after the success of the centre-right government. The bipartisan policy towards Berlusconi, commissioned by the elites in Italian society, the demand for a "more liberalist" policy than the government's on strategic terrain for capitalist accumulation (viz. privatisation), the vote in favour of the imperialist war in Afghanistan together with the adoption of the FIAT Minister Ruggiero as their privileged interlocutor (viz. the Airbus affair) do not represent "errors" or "strategic divergence" with the communists. They all represent the material base of interests in which the Centre-left has now planted its roots. This material base has not changed with their passage "to the opposition" but has on the contrary remained the irremovable anchor for the bourgeois perspective that is "the opposition's" goal. This is the reason why the rupture with the centre-left is a permanent, impelling class necessity for the working-class movement and mass movements.





The DS bureaucratic apparatus, traditionally the agent for the ruling classes in the working-class movement, has, for the most part, now broken with its social-democratic function and role to begin the mutation of the party into a liberal bourgeois force that directly represents the elite in society. This evolution reinforces the need for an autonomous class pole in alternative to any hypothesis of a plural left. The vertical crisis in the DS that has gone hand in hand with this evolution has created a new space for the autonomous development of the communist party and an alternative hegemony.


The DS is now going through the deepest crisis in its political history. This crisis is not due to the extent of its electoral defeat or the failure of its first government experience. It comes from the fact that defeat struck at the most delicate point in the historical mutation of the DS: from a social-democratic party, the instrument to control the working-class movement on behalf of the bourgeoisie, to a liberal, bourgeois democratic party that is the direct representative of the elite in society.


The DS's prolonged experience of government in the nineties was the indicator of this process of mutation. Against the background of the crisis in the First Republic, the crisis in the central political representation of the Italian bourgeoisie and capital's strategic investment in the Centre-left, the bureaucratic DS apparatus has multiplied, at every level, its material relations with the ruling classes since 1995. A large majority of the ruling bureaucracy of the party has therefore progressively taken on board its transformation into the central political representative force of Italian capital (with a base in the masses) as its strategic objective. The congress of Lingotto has symbolically crowned this new liberal prospect. And the rupture with its social-democratic function is not merely a purely political-cultural fact, but has gone hand in hand with relevant changes in the material constitution of the party and its relation with the mass organisations, with the dynamics of the class struggle and with its territorial base of rank and file members. This does not mean the disappearance of every trace of social democracy (present in the active framework of the working-class movement, its relations with the union apparatus, and the presence of social-democratic tendencies within the DS apparatus itself, such as Socialism 2000 and the Left DS). It means that the social-democratic presence and function, however important, are no longer the centre of gravity for the party nor the material basis for DS relations with the bourgeoisie. The open contrast between the DS apparatus and CGIL bureaucracy, the substantial marginality of the DS's role in the dynamics of the new class movements (metal-mechanic workers) and youth movements (anti-global) are a reflection of this rupture. Fassino and D'Alema's sweeping victory at the congress, among the party's bureaucracy, especially after passing to the opposition, shows how profound this rupture has been. Moreover, all the current policy direction of the DS apparatus, from the declaration in support of the NATO war to the opening up to Confindustria (Confederation of Italian Business) on the liberalisation of redundancies is proof not only of the prospect of an alternation of government but of the search and desire to maintain material relations with the bourgeoisie: a sort of shadow committee for bourgeois affairs waiting in the wings. Therefore, the description of the DS as "moderate left", which in the past seemed improper, is more than ever totally erroneous.


Yet if the rupture with social democracy has been clear-cut, the DS's final destination is uncertain. The loss of an outlet in government, the emergence of a new, threatening competitor for the bourgeois centre (the Margherita) and the internal lacerations in the liberal apparatus of the party have all placed new obstacles in the path of the continuity of a liberal bourgeois project. The reassembling of the industrial bloc around the Berlusconi government is a further factor in the crisis of D'Alema's project. All this has not led to a rejection of the project (difficult to reverse thanks to its deep roots in the party) but it certainly exposes it to a higher risk of failure among the bourgeoisie. In the meanwhile, the tenacious pursuit of this policy increases its distance from the old social base and rank and file members of the DS.


The DS's drift towards bourgeois liberalism and the vertical crisis that has accompanied it are a measure of the need for a policy of an autonomous class pole and a new historical space where it can be constructed. Large sectors of the masses are today dramatically experiencing not only the betrayal of their own policy lines but the crisis and dissolution of their traditional political representation. The very renewal of the working-class and youth movements, while it involves growing numbers in the left, accentuates the political confusion and redoubles new demands for points of reference. Our party can and must respond to these demands by opening up to the masses, with the proposal of an autonomous class pole. This would offer an alternative reference point in this crisis of representation for the working-class movement, providing wide sectors of the masses with a way out from the crisis: namely, the break with the DS liberal apparatus and the Ulivo in order to fight autonomously against the Berlusconi government and the Italian bourgeoisie. In this sense the demand for an autonomous class pole on anticapitalist terrain represents a tool for the construction of an alternative communist hegemony among the lower classes and their movements.




The development of a policy for an autonomous class pole and an alternative social bloc requires clarity and coherence in the PRC as the opposition, even at local level. Therefore, we must stop the collaboration between the PRC and the Centre-left in local government, starting from the Regions and the large cities. This change of direction is even more relevant given the Ulivo's support for the war and the development of a liberalist institutional federalism.


During the last ten years, our party has promoted and consistently followed the policy of collaborating with Centre-left governments in local administrations. On the one hand, this policy has proved unsuccessful in "beating the right", as the failure of many Ulivo-PRC coalitions showed in the administrative elections on 16 April 2000 (such as the Lazio Region). On the other hand, and more importantly, it has made the PRC co-responsible for the agreement and local implementation of liberalist policies that are in open contradiction with the social tenets of our party. The new policy of an autonomous anticapitalist class pole would therefore require a profound change in our local policy.


At local level, the Centre-left is no different from the national Centre-left: policy programmes, social references and governmental methods are inevitably the same. On the contrary, in the nineties the Ulivo local administrations have often been "in the vanguard" in the experimentation of liberalist policies. The victory of the Berlusconi government with the passage of the Ulivo to the "opposition" has not changed the local policies of the Centre-left in the slightest. Indeed, the Ulivo's attempt to gain credit with the bourgeoisie again nationally also involves using its local administrations, often held up as models of managerial efficiency compared to the presumed uncertainties of the Pole (viz. privatisation). More generally speaking, local administrations have become more than ever before an important instrument for the consolidation or renewal of relations between the Ulivo and the elite in Italian society.


The development of a liberalist institutional federalism, begun by the Ulivo and further exacerbated by the new Berlusconi government, also reinforces and extends the liberalist tendencies of local administrations. The old theory of the distinction between national and local politics (which had always been unfounded) has now been demolished completely. The transfer of decision-making power concerning the so-called welfare state to regional government will make the regional Centre-left governments the new agents for national agreement with the right-wing national government and at the same time an even greater experimental precursor of the national alternation of government. In addition, the large number of Ulivo local governments that support the war, together with the Pole, is the final, even more shocking proof of the basic homogeneity of bourgeois liberalism, whether at national or local level.


Our party is called on to change its policy here, too. More than ever before, the PRC cannot adopt a central role in the opposition to the war declaring that "nothing will be as it was before" but continue to support "as before" regional governments that support the war. The PRC cannot adopt a central role in the no-global movement declaring that after Genoa nothing will be as before, but then continue to support as before those councils that oppose or block the movement's demands (starting from the city council in Genoa). A coherent general line is needed: communists must be part of the opposition in local government in the Regions and the large cities, too.


Obviously, the situation is different - albeit exceptional today - where the communists are an essential part of local councils that are really trying to create an anticapitalist alternative: here, opposition to the national government strictly linked to class interests and outside any false institutional neutrality becomes fundamental.




The Berlusconi government is a reactionary government that is trying to resolve its contradictions in a new, general attack on the working-class movement. Our party's opposition to the Berlusconi-Bossi-Fini government cannot be an ordinary opposition, but it can and must openly work to repudiate it on the wave of massive, working-class, popular mobilisation. The objective of repudiating the government must not be an end in itself but a lever for the anticapitalist class alternative.


The Polo delle Libertà's government differs from the first Berlusconi government ('94). Politically, Forza Italia has greatly strengthened its position in the coalition, forged a more stable relationship with the Northern League and come to a wide-reaching agreement with homogeneous local authorities. In social terms, unlike in '94, it is supported by big business that, although having supported the Centre-left during the previous government, and having worked to re-confirm the Ulivo in office, chose to invest in the new Berlusconi government after the election result through the direct participation of its own exponents (Ruggiero). Big business was well aware of the greater force of the new government and thus seized the opportunity to use it, but clearly desired to place it under the control of one of their own faithful. On its part, the government is trying to reconcile the business and personal interests of the Fininvest empire and the corrupt environment of capital while representing the general interest of the bourgeoisie.


The new government's programme is, objectively speaking, reactionary: it extends and develops in a concentrated form all the government policies of the preceding legislature both in social and institutional terms. As far as foreign policy is concerned, a closer collaboration with American policy lies uneasily with the continuity of its strategic position in European imperialism (embraced in particular by FIAT and its minister Ruggiero).


The direction of this general programme has not yet been completely defined, but it oscillates between a policy of agreement-seeking with the working-class organisations and attempts to sink them completely. However, an objective contradiction weighs heavily on the government: on the one hand, the political need to bankroll a bloc of wide-ranging but contradictory and expensive interests, and on the other, the need to do so within the European stability pact and in the light of the international economic crisis. This contradiction fans the growing tensions in the Berlusconi social bloc (as between Industry and the Confederation of Italian Trade over fiscal policy). But this is the very reason why the government is going down the slippery slope of social conflict with the opposing bloc: only a lunge against dependent workers can contain the centrifugal forces of the dominant bloc and increase the margins for mediation within it. Moreover, the subordinate paralysis of the CGIL and the crisis and complicity of the Centre-left encourage this social offensive. And the international context of war, with its possible diversionary effects, has provided the government with an opportunity to anticipate its attack. It is not by chance that they have plunged into a headlong attack on the pension system, health and school, culminating in the assault on article 18 of the Statute of Workers. This is likely to be combined with new antidemocratic, restrictive policies in the field of union rights and public order. AN's open championing of the most reactionary impulses of the State's restrictive apparatus, which emerged from the events in Genoa, is the measure and anticipation of a deep-seated tendency that is encouraged by the composition of the new government. In conclusion, the more stable the new government, the more its political and social contradictions will move "to the right".


The objective of repudiating the Belusconi government therefore responds to a general interest of the working-class movement and all the alternative social bloc. It responds to the common interest in freeing us from an objectively reactionary threat. Adopting this rallying cry does not mean cherishing illusions or making predictions. The greater force of the second Berlusconi government, the damage already done to the working-class movement during the preceding legislature and international dynamics all tend to favour the continuation of this government. However, a communist party must determine the level and goals of its opposition irrespective of the difficulty of the task ahead. It can and must adopt the needs of the working-class movement as the basis for reference and act to stimulate a counter-tendency. Furthermore, despite the difficulties in our path, there is certainly room to build up a radical, mass opposition to the right-wing government. Despite its more-consolidated position, the Berlusconi government did not gain power on the wave of increased consensus in Italian society, but in the context of a fall in right-wing coalition support with respect to the elections of '94 and '96. At the same time, despite the damage done, signs of renewal in the working-class movement have recently appeared, not least the huge mobilisation of the metal-mechanic workers and the action of a new working-class generation. And this renewal of class awareness, even though still fragile, in turn unites with the development of the anti-globalisation movement - prevalently of young people - that has emerged as a mass movement in Italy more than in other European countries. In addition, in particular after the events in Genoa, a certain active, antigovernment sensibility has developed among large sectors of the left in support of the anti-globalisation movement, spurred on by a sincere concern for democracy (viz. the demonstrations on 24th July). All these factors do not automatically incite mass opposition to this government, but they are a measure of a potential counteroffensive, supported by a wider social and political base, to its reactionary programme. Our party's task is to gather and develop all these potential supporters and regroup them around a unifying programme and a single goal.


Therefore, more than ever before, we cannot merely close ranks in the routine of parliamentary opposition combined with praise for the spontaneity of the grass-roots movements. But, within the experience of the movements, we must promote the conditions for a concentrated social explosion against the ruling classes and their government. Only a concentrated social eruption can overturn the relations between the classes and pave the way for an anticapitalist alternative. And only an anticapitalist alternative can truly respond to the fundamental tenets of the lower classes and their struggle. The demand to repudiate the Berlusconi government can and must be part of the anticapitalist prospect and one of the levers to achieve it. This is the reason why it must be discussed openly within the movements, without "politicist" distortion but also without self-censure, in an active relationship with the objective dynamics of their struggles.




The working class and the world of work are the core of the opposition to Berlusconi and the lever for a possible repudiation of his government. But this is only possible on condition that a true, independent class aggregation, in alternative to the liberal centre-left, is recomposed in this struggle, on the terrain of a general, unifying dispute.


The experience of the nineties has proved a valuable lesson for communists and the Italian working-class movement. Only the working-class movement, with its concentrated class action, was able to stop Berlusconi's rise, split his social bloc and lay down the conditions for his fall: this was the experience of autumn '94. This lesson must be recalled in the minds of the masses and adopted to steer our new policy against the second government of the right-wing parties.


The recomposition of a unitary working-class movement does not only have a union significance but also a more general political one. Therefore, the creation of a unifying general dispute for workers and the unemployed can and must be the immediate orientation for our party's contribution in a new independent class action. This means selecting a unified set of demands to develop general and radical mass opposition and unify the alternative social bloc. The proposal for a general dispute of workers and the unemployed, in the perspective of a general strike against the government and the bosses, is more necessary now than ever before.


The demand for a general, substantial salary increase for all dependent workers is more than ever in direct contrast to the assault on social dialogue waged by the government. The call to abolish the "Treu Package" and all casual labour (starting from employing casual workers on open-ended contracts) clashes head on with the strategic policy of crushing dependent workers. The demand for a minimum guaranteed salary for all categories (quantifiable as 1000 Euro net, and a reference point for workers' pensions) for all dependent workers contrasts even more than before with the policy of regional differentiation in salaries so dear to liberalist federalism. The demand for the recognition and extension of union rights to all subordinate workers, regardless of their type of contract or the size of firm, collides head on with the shared programme of Confindustria and the government, illustrated by the attack on article 18 of the Statute of Workers. The demand for a true guaranteed salary for the unemployed and young people looking for their first employment (quantifiable as 80% of the minimum inter-category salary or the contractual salary previously earned), financed in the first place by the abolition of public funding for private firms, rejecting the logic of any compromise with "minimum" labour (i.e. casual labour), contrasts with the increase in the use of casual labour and indicates an arm of resistance against the economic blackmail of unemployment or exploitation. The general reduction in the working week at the same salary without flexibility or annualisation, and the abolition of overtime can be the only strategy for an effective fight against mass unemployment. The demand for the progressive taxation of high incomes, profits and patrimonies ("let them pay who have never paid") to fund increased, improved welfare spending (starting from health and education) can and must counter the government line of the de-taxation of profit paid for by the destruction of the welfare state.


This platform of immediate demands must not be considered exhaustive or a substitute for the specific demands of sectors or movements. But it should be adopted as a unifying platform for the mass of communists: in the movements, at local level and in mass organisations. Its function is to play on the reactionary platform of the bosses and government in order to counter-propose a radical alternative class platform. And to play on an alternative class platform to unite all sectors and fragments of the subordinate masses around a class alternative: beyond a mere union logic and against the current splintering of the masses.


In this framework and on this terrain, the PRC must advance the general proposal of a single class front against the Berlusconi government and the bosses. Its rationale is simple: if the government now regroups around itself the bourgeois unity of action, the workers must create a greater unity of action against the government and the vested interests that support it. This means promoting greater unity in the workers' struggle, irrespective of political or union differences, favouring wherever possible the convergence of action in a common programme. More in general, an appeal should be made to all those forces and tendencies within the working-class movement that could converge around an independent class programme, in an open break with the bourgeois forces of the centre. If the subordination of the working-class movement to the bourgeois centre has laid the grounds for Berlusconi's victory over five years, only the rupture with the bourgeois centre can allow the working-class movement to repudiate Berlusconi. The pressing need for unity of action in the working-class movement against the government must thus openly counter any proposal to create a front with bourgeois forces. The struggle for class hegemony in the opposition to the government of the right as an alternative to the bourgeois centre-left precisely defines the new battleground for communists.




An organised class struggle must be developed in the CGIL and non-confederate trade unions in the perspective of the "Constitution of a mass, democratic, confederate, unitary, class-based union". At the same time, we must fight to develop a structure for mass self-organisation (co-ordinating committees of delegates, fight and strike committees and councils).


There must be a profound change of direction in our union policy. First of all, it is essential that we condemn unequivocally union bureaucracy, the true agent of the ruling classes within the working-class movement. Confederate union leaders' policy of agreement-seeking, principally the CGIL, does not merely represent a "mistaken policy" however serious. It reflects the profound nature of the bureaucratic union apparatus: "a political clique" and its corresponding structure, whose action allows the rule of capital to continue.


The first task for our party is therefore to abandon the policy that has been followed so far: "to move the CGIL to the left". On the contrary, the PRC is called on to openly repudiate the union movement's bureaucracy as a new axis of its own union policy, first of all, condemning the "unreformability" of its structure.


This does not preclude communists playing a role in traditional organisations, chiefly in the CGIL. But it certainly implies the complete abandonment of any attempt to bring pressure to bear on the managing bureaucracy and the development of an open class-based opposition able to challenge the "rules" of the union apparatus and become an autonomous reference point for all workers. Even the emergence of partial contradictions inside the apparatus and the needs imposed by the presence of a centre-right government do not change this general picture. Sabbatini and the FIOM bureaucracy, who have too easily become a reference point and a privileged interlocutor for the current party majority, do not represent a strategic counter-opposition to Cofferati's policy of class collaboration (also expressed over the war). His most recent statements are only the tactical expression of an inescapable self-defence of the social-democratic bureaucracy against an assault that aims to drastically reduce the role of agreement-seeking. Indeed, agreement-seeking has been reconfirmed as the strategic axis of the CGIL bureaucracy in relation to the government's current offensive. Just as for the majority group in the Commisiones Obreras in Spain, Cofferati's aim is to create a framework for agreement-seeking and social dialogue with the centre-right government: the only problem is that Berlusconi is not Aznar and so this objective is much less practicable.


The constitution of a new area in the CGIL - Work and Society: a change of tack - is certainly positive, because it supersedes the former split essentially caused by the praxis of our party, not based on political-union policy but on the need to have a sector that is a "faithful" supporter of party policy in particular at the time when it was part of the centre-left majority government (it is not by chance that the conditions for the re-unification of the left-wing union areas have materialised since our break with the Prodi government). However, this is only positive in terms of organisation. Indeed, there is no analysis of the incapacity of the "Alternative Union" movement or the "Communist CGIL area" to represent a class-based opposition to the collaborationist policy of the CGIL majority. This incapacity is reconfirmed by the betrayal of the anti-government movement represented by the "half-hearted strikes" in December 2001. Showing all its reformist limits, Work and Society, instead of opposing the decisions of the bureaucracy head on, accepted them for the most part.


Therefore, it is necessary to develop a coherent class area, based on communist militants but open to the aggregation of other independent sectors, that can present itself as a candidate for the hegemony of the left of the confederation and is based on an anticapitalist programme of action in open opposition to the union leaders.


At the same time, the PRC must constantly forge a link between the refounded CGIL left and the communists who should develop their action in extra-confederate union movements: this union activity is, of course, a more advanced framework of action in the field of political-union objectives, but on a different basis it is also subject to practical limits beyond its control, such as the chronic tendency to splinter. In this picture, the battle for the unification of extra-confederate union activity must be developed as a central question in the next phase by its militant communist members.


The PRC must not deceive itself that it can supersede the current scattering of militant communists in the different unions "by decree" and this situation has been "legitimised" both by the objective complexity of the union question and the concrete nature of Italian unions. Only the development of the class struggle and the experience of the anti-bureaucratic struggle will change this in the future. The PRC can and must, on the other hand, immediately indicate the general orientation for proposals and the basis for its programme to unite the militant communist union members whether they are in the confederate unions or the extra-confederate ones.


The general orientation of the V Congress is the proposal for a "Constitution of a mass, democratic, confederate, unitary, class-based union".


With this directive, communists must address all workers to achieve unity on a wider basis in a unitary union confederation, based on the democracy of workers and the defence of their autonomous interests, breaking away from the current union bureaucracies. This means advancing the prospect of unity from the bottom, starting from unitary assemblies of members (and non-members) in the workplace. The structure could vary in relation to the concrete development of the situation. But it must adopt as its crux the communist struggle for the hegemony of the politically active masses, and those active in the unions, outside the logic of creating a ghetto on a purely union basis or the logic of subordination to the current union apparatus. In this perspective of common work, a co-ordinating committee of militant communist trade unionists, whatever union they belong to, is needed. This co-ordinating committee must exist from now to unify our union debate at local level and in different sectors.


At the same time, on the basis of the proposal of this "constitution", we must work for the unitary grouping of a larger sector, beyond militant communists, creating in the workplace wherever possible "committees for union refoundation" which would involve active trade unionists from different areas and aim to become the point of reference for anti-bureaucratic action against the bosses.


It is equally important that PRC works to re-launch the movement of the RSU (workplace based union representation) delegates. A permanent co-ordinating committee of the broad left among the elected members of the RSU on an immediate class programme could be, in fact, an important instrument for the anti-bureaucratic struggle and the development of mass movements. From this point of view, the unitary initiative of class-based trade unionism that first emerged significantly in the meeting of the trade union delegates on 1 December 2001 in Bologna must be fully supported, and will continue in the assembly on 11 January 2002 in Milan.


Finally, however crucial the struggle in the trade union organisations, communists must avoid any type of formalism. In particular, as the struggle is intensifying, it is crucial to work to promote the self-organisation of the masses, both in the form of fight committees, and in the higher form of democratically elected and controlled structures (strike committees, councils). In the final analysis, it is within these structures rather than the trade union organisations that the communist battle for the conquest of a class majority will be played out.




The anti-globalisation movement in Italy has attained a true mass dimension and holds significant anticapitalist potential. But its convergence with the working-class struggle is crucial if its demands are to be met. We must work so that the working class adopts the demands of the anti-globalisation movement within a class-based programme. We must work so that the anti-globalisation movement opens up to the working-class movement in the context of the central conflict between capital and work. This is today an impelling necessity in the battle for a communist hegemony in the recomposition of an anticapitalist social bloc. But it requires a battle within the movement against the prevalent positions in its current leadership.


The anti-globalisation movement now plays a very important part in the Italian scenario. More than in other European countries, it has really embraced the masses, in particular the young, as shown by the huge demonstration in Genoa; it has involved real sectors of the vanguard of the working-class and its union representatives and it has exercised a notable political impact on the whole national situation. More in general, it has generated widespread popular sympathy, an indirect effect of the crisis of liberalism's hegemony in wide sectors of the masses. Therefore, the movement reveals a precious potential for further expansion that the events of war have not prejudiced.


But it is this reality and potential that underline the unresolved problems in the movement's political direction. The disproportion between the general lack of political awareness in the movement and the public level of conflict with the state apparatus and the government, documented by the events in Genoa, the disparity between the fundamental anti-liberalist critical impulse and the level of conflict imposed by the aggravating of the imperialist war in Afghanistan all represent an objectively dangerous compromise, in part inevitably due to the inexperience of the young generation and in part magnified by the pacifist-reformist mind-set of the majority of the movement's leaders.


Our party, thanks to its general presence in the movement, can and must work to supersede this contradiction, in the interest of the movement and its basic tenets. We must not see our role as purely institutional representation of the movement's demands nor as the mediator between the movement and the institutions; still less as a mere glue for the unity of the movement in the sense of a political-diplomatic bloc made up of the associations its leadership represents. It must combine a loyal action for the daily construction of the mass anti-globalisation movement with an open battle for the political line of the movement itself. This battle must be aimed at developing the political awareness of the movement on anticapitalist and anti-imperialist terrain (see motions…), its autonomy and counter-position to the centre-right and centre-left and its convergence with the working-class struggle for an alternative social bloc, an open fight for an alternative hegemony.


Intervention in the movements implies first of all clear responsibility for proposals concerning the forms for the struggle and the organisation of the movement. In this context, we must oppose all positions that in practice propose a sort of cloistered withdrawal or a retreat in the level of mobilisation, that have emerged cyclically (for example, following Genoa, before the Naples demonstration against NATO, or in relation to the demonstration in Rome on 10 November). On the contrary, peaceful mass demonstrations must be made the crux of the struggle, necessary for aggregation, political impact and the visibility and polarisation of the movement's motivations. In this framework, the problem of self-defence from any type of aggression during the demonstrations must be seriously discussed in order to protect the peaceful, mass character of the demonstrations themselves (viz. internal organisation for public order). Furthermore, the question of the national democratic organisation of the movement must be discussed - as it has expanded so greatly , it can no longer be based only on a pact of the different associations, but it must now involve the activists democratically, who are at the moment without any decision-making power, in defining the movement's options and its representatives at all levels: otherwise, there would be a crisis of democracy, shirking of choices and lack of representation in decisions.


On a political level, its unity with the working class struggle, in open opposition to the bosses and the Berlusconi government, must be developed. This is not a question of simply representing our class "sensibility" within the colourful mosaic of the movement. This means fighting to win the majority of the movement over to a class perspective as the condition for achieving its demands and as the grounds for enhancing its potential impact.


In the present framework, the anti-globalisation movement, already benefiting from much sympathy and support from vast sectors of society, could really be transformed into the detonator for a social explosion, but only on condition that a new direction and a new proposal emerge from the movement. Contact with the workers cannot merely be reduced to the sum of good relations with the union representatives, nor as pressure on Cofferati or merely registering FIOM support for the GSF (however important that may be). But it can and must become a public proposal for common action, based on a platform of simple, unified proposals, that can establish a common terrain with the social demands of the wider masses and so, in its unity, can challenge the trade unions, making them aware of their responsibilities. In this sense, the proposal for a general dispute for workers and the unemployed must be openly adopted not only among the workers but also in the anti-globalisation movement in order to indicate a possible common terrain for a unitary, concentrated fight. The very prospect of a general strike against the bosses and the government would be an extraordinary occasion for the invaluable convergence between workers and the young in the dynamics of a rupture with the bourgeoisie.


The struggle for class-based hegemony in the antiglobalisation movement implies constant political action for its autonomy from the bourgeois centre-left in order to become an alternative. The DS apparatus and the forces of the Ulivo are trying to condition the movement from the outside in the attempt to reduce it to a subordinate factor in a future liberal alternation. What happened during the Perugia-Assissi march, through the platform of the so-called Peace Table, can be clearly positioned in this basic strategy, that has found an outlet and interlocutors among the movement's leaders or a weak, defensive reaction. The PRC can and must oppose all DS or centre-left intervention in the movement with all its force. It can do so only by reconsidering deeply its current and future position. This does not mean allowing the liberals in the centre-left to contaminate the movement in the logic of a plural left. This means developing a policy of autonomy and breaking with the centre-left and DS apparatus in the movement. This does not mean papering over the contradictions between the movement and the Ulivo, or theorising a policy of non-interference (as during the Perugia march): on the contrary, it means analysing them. We must combine the greatest possible openness towards the workers and the young, outside any minority view or mind-set, with the constant explanation that the differences between the movement's demands and the liberal tenets of bourgeois society and its barbarism are irreconcilable. In this picture, the vote of the DS apparatus and the Ulivo in support of the imperialist war against the Afghan people must be publicly held up as the unequivocal, final proof of this. More in general, the fight for an anticapitalist and anti-imperialist hegemony in the anti-globalisation movement represents the central terrain for the defence and development of its autonomy.




Education is a key element in the assault of the ruling-classes. But it is also a strategic area for the recomposition of an alternative social bloc.


The Berlusconi government is trying to achieve a quantum leap in reactionary policies against state education. In this case too they have inherited the policies originally developed by the centre-left government (such as the D'Alema government's policy on education parity between state and private schools), extending and radicalising them against all those who work in education and students, and against the social interests of the lower classes. State education has been assaulted, first of all, by the new cuts in the Budget, directly shunted to investment in war (5 thousand billion lire); by the programmed reduction in spending on school personnel over the next five years, linked to a net reduction in employment in this sector; by the extension of the "financial autonomy" linked to the cuts in public funding; and by the programmed reduction of high-school education from five to four years, combined with creating parity between job training, grammar schools and professional institutes in the interests of business. At the same time, the right-wing government has become the direct representative of private schools' interests, in full harmony with the Vatican, as the articulation of its own social bloc. The policy of school vouchers now tends to be generalised at local level thanks to regional governments. Regional federalism, in a full-scale assault on the State's exclusive competence on educational matters, is now trying to break in by "privatising" state schools and the complementary policy of favouring private, business and religious schools.


This assault on state education, combined with a similar policy for university education, is destined, however, to meet with growing social resistance. Education is the terrain on which the liberalist policies, even in their general upward trend, have had the most difficulty in obtaining majority social consensus. Today, in the new phase opened up by the more general crisis in liberalist policies, education can be confirmed as one of the possible vital areas for resistance and counter-attack. The renewal of the teachers' struggle in recent years (after a long period of stasis after 87-88) reveals the counter-tendency now in progress, even more significant considering the splintering in the trade union movement. At the same time, the emergence of a new generation in the conflict has been reflected in the renewal of student movements and especially the maturing of clear politicisation within these movements. The frequent intertwining of student movements and the anti-globalisation movement has been an indication of this.


Even more than before, communists must consider education a priority for the recomposition of an alternative, anticapitalist bloc. Therefore, our party must not limit its action to supporting the development of these movements against reactionary education policies, however invaluable and necessary. It must combine its participation in the active construction of the movement with the adoption of proposals for the recomposition of a unitary fight and the development of a future perspective.


First of all, a unitary platform of mobilisation must be drawn up to encourage the recomposition of teachers and students in this struggle, linking the immediate demands to a more complex alternative class-based programme. Demands for salary increases in the education sector, a cut in the maximum number of students per class and classes per teachers, the modernisation of school-buildings and the extension of state education (starting from nursery education) and its service in relation to the adult population, immigrants and the old must all be linked to the primary objectives of abolishing all forms of direct or indirect funding (even at local level, whether centre-left or centre-right) for private and religious schools, in the perspective of re-affirming all education as "state and free" and the demand for the progressive taxation of the great patrimonies, incomes and profits as the source for education funding. So the fight against the dismantling of the collegial organisms - promoted by the Berlusconi government - must be developed, not in the name of a conservative, defensive logic, but in the name of a proposal for the social control of public education based on the participation of teachers, students and all the school population as an alternative to the control of businesses and their interests.


At the same time, communists must put forward a proposal for the unification of the current student movements in a democratic self-organising structure. The atomising of the movement and jobs, without a unified platform or a democratic framework to ensure a true representation of the different positions and proposals, would only lead to defeat. What is more, it would smooth the way, as experience has shown, for the leaders of the Uds and the regression of the movement. Instead, we should learn from the French students, and propose that each school assembly in the occupied schools elect democratically its delegates, who would be constantly replaceable, and that the co-ordinating groups of delegates at the various levels, up to national level, form the democratic structure for the definition of the movement's demands. Only in this way could the weight of the different positions, organisations and areas be measured by their effective level of democratic representation. Only in this way could a national dispute be developed between the movement and the government. Only in this way could the forms of the struggle and their continuity be finalised for clear, representative, verifiable objectives.




The masses in the South of Italy are a crucial strategic ally of the working class in its anticapitalist perspective and a determining force in this perspective. The Southern question is once again the crux of national life and one of the terrains where social and democratic questions meet.


The history of the eighties has already confirmed the continuity of the social and economic marginalisation of the South within the international and national division of work. The change in the nineties and the inauguration of the II Republic has precipitated the situation in the South: the cut in welfare spending, the liberalist design of federalism and the spreading flexibility in employment (viz. the emblematic area contracts in Manfredonia, Crotone and Castellamare) must be set in a social context that has already been lacerated by a notable de-industrialisation and the further growth in mass unemployment, in particular youth unemployment. The entry into Europe with Maastricht has consolidated and accentuated these basic trends, confirming yet again that the growing marginality of the southern economy, far from being the expression of backwardness and "delay", is the consequence of a real integration in the modern capitalist market and a laboratory for experimenting with advanced forms of exploitation.


Moreover, the further decline of the South has produced a polarisation of wealth and internal class conflict. On the one hand, there is an emerging Southern bourgeoisie linked to construction, service industries and tourism, the amoral protagonist of rash speculation in the abandoned industrial areas, multiplying capital through income mechanisms. On the other hand, there is the heavy fall in the industrial working class that has gone hand in hand with a wider impoverishment marked by the growing weight of unemployment, casual seasonal employment, the degrading of state employment and the exploitation of female labour.


In this picture, organised crime finds its natural outlet in society. It is woven intrinsically with the Southern bourgeoisie in a complex relationship: on the one hand, it exercises a widespread protection racket, substituting to a great extent state taxes and thereby in contradiction with the general interests of the national bourgeoisie, while on the other it guarantees social protection and bank loans (even using State funds). In addition, organised crime acts as a job centre for unemployed youth and so, paradoxically, as a social shock absorber, especially in a phase when the bourgeois State, historically a tax-collector and policeman, now denies even welfare assistance. In this picture, no court sentence, legal initiative or solemn proclamation of the fight against the Mafia can uproot organised crime from society, objectively incorporated in the governing social bloc.


The new right-wing government has become a factor in the worsening of the Southern condition. The policies of a savage flexibility in employment and the assault on social conquests fall more heavily on the material conditions of wide sectors of young people and women in the South. At the same time, a new bout of much-vaunted government investment in "great public works" aims to reinforce the speculative business bloc with the open involvement of criminal capital, damaging the environment and employment itself (viz. the bridge over the Straits of Messina).


The platform for the general dispute of workers and the unemployed therefore has a crucial significance for the masses in the South. The demands for a guaranteed wage for the unemployed and young people looking for their first job, the transformation of temporary contracts into permanent ones, the abolition of the "Treu Package" of reforms and the laws on employment flexibility must be taken on board more than ever as the common terrain for the unification of the alternative social bloc in the South and as an arena for the recomposition of a class hegemony. In this sense, they must be directed to a more general anticapitalist programme based on a vast plan for the re-birth and general development of the South and the need for a radical fight to support it by all the working-class movement, in open rupture with the agreement-seeking policies adopted by the unions until now.


We must organise fight committees that involve wherever possible workers, the unemployed, casual labour, migrants and students to support employment strategies that run counter to the current dominant trends, including also the objective of nationalising industries that lay off, evade taxes and welfare contributions, and exploit low-paid workers (with inadequate safety measures, low salaries, scarce specialisation and part-time work etc). We must demand the elimination of bourgeois class privilege as the social policy for the South. The abolition of bank, commercial and financial secrecy is the only condition for the fight against tax elusion and evasion. The imposition of a tax on ordinary and extraordinary patrimonies, a strongly progressive taxation on profit and high incomes and the abolition of public funding for private businesses - true State assistance that takes tens of thousands of billions from the public Treasury - are all essential.


In conclusion, the historic bloc of the working classes and the Southern masses, based on the workers and the unemployed, must oppose the ruling historic bloc of the Northern bourgeoisie and the Southern bourgeoisie, including its criminal part on the basis of an anticapitalist programme. And this class bloc is the only way to transform the southern question into a decisive lever for an anticapitalist alternative.




The PRC can and must work for the development of a mass women's movement on the terrain of the recomposition of the anticapitalist, class opposition.


In the seventies, the rise of the Italian working class opened up the way for the development of the women's movement. And, in turn, the women's struggle erupted dramatically on the stage of political debate, and Italian culture and society, spreading among the masses and obtaining important results, even if limited, from the point of view of custom and law (see maternity laws, L. 194/78).


In the eighties, the reverses of the working-class movement have dragged with them a more general involution of democratic sensibility and mass consciousness and so a reverse of the women's movement. But above all, in this context, cultural theories developed in the women's movement that became progressively detached from social and class tenets, denying the capital/work contradiction and taking on an intellectual, elitist character. The idealist theories now present in a significant part of feminist thought - that lead female oppression back to a biological root and a symbolic masculine code - came to light in that social, cultural climate.


Today the renewal in the working-class movement, the crisis in the hegemony of liberalist policies and the emergence of a new generation have created new space for the possible re-launching of a mass women's movement able to involve the most oppressed and exploited sectors of the female population. And more than ever the PRC must work in this direction and reject the elitist expressions of feminist thought.


The social policies of the centre-left government have assailed the material living conditions of millions of women (Law 40/98 Prodi government, Bassanini Law in '97 in support of subsidiarity, regrettably supported by PRC votes). Today, the Berlusconi government on the one hand gives force to the arrogance of the worst Catholic fundamentalism (viz. the attack on Law 194) and on the other grafts the re-launching of the "centrality of the family" onto a further dismantling of the welfare State. Through fiscal detractions and laughable child benefits the family, that is the mother, is spurred on to take on those tasks of care and nurture that were part of the Welfare State. The privatisation of heath-care and nurseries is going in the same direction. Women are forced to suffer two-fold the burden of care for those at risk in this society (the old, the terminally ill, HIV sufferers, the disabled). And in the meantime they are the first victims of the attack on jobs (sackings) and the squeeze on salaries. The oppression of millions of women on many fronts has increasingly a recognisable, unequivocal social content.


A class action intended to regroup the greatest mass opposition, starting from women, must be constructed on this terrain. The fight against privatisation and against the assault on the welfare state; the fight for workers' rights and a guaranteed salary for the unemployed; the fight for the right to a guaranteed, free public health service; the fight for nurseries and against the closure of family planning clinics can involve the most oppressed sectors of the female population in the front line. But it is essential that the working-class movement takes all this on board as the terrain for hegemony and recomposition. And the PRC must represent these demands in the working-class movement (against any attempt at agreement-seeking) and as the arena for the development of a mass women's movement.


PRC has the task of monitoring all women's struggles, taking root in them, and working to extend and unify them. But it must build a real connection between immediate objectives and the anticapitalist perspective, in a transitional logic. And therefore all women's struggles can only lead to the more general process of emancipation of the working class for an alternative society and alternative power.




The phenomenon of immigration - one of the most blatant examples of the inequality and imbalance resulting from capitalistic development - is used by the ruling class to divide and weaken the working class. The task of the communists in the fight for immigrants' social and political rights and against xenophobia and racism is an integral part of the fight to recompose the unity of class and the construction of an alternative social bloc.


Migration is one of clearest effects of the contradictions of capitalistic development and today of war and environmental catastrophes. Italy has experienced for some time the growing presence of workers coming from East Europe and the Third World that the ruling class aims to use as a low-paid workforce with few demands. The closure of the frontiers, programmed flows and police controls are the salient points of immigration policies adopted in the last decade and shared by both centre-left and centre-right, differentiated only by their choice of words.


Far from controlling the phenomenon, this repressive policy exasperates the already difficult living conditions of migrants, creates the so-called clandestine immigrants, contributes to the distorted perception of immigration as a criminal phenomenon and fosters xenophobia and racist prejudice. Moreover, the condition of being clandestine, the blackmail of expulsion and the threat of xenophobia make immigrants ready to accept any job on any condition, thereby making them a factor in the weakening and division of the working class. Faced with the novelty of immigration, the response of the working-class movements has been subordinate to the dominant political tendencies, limited at best to generic humanitarian acts. Even the PRC, in the context of its support for the Prodi government, bears responsibility for the Turco-Napolitano law that made our country conform with the restrictive legislation of Schengen and introduced concentration camps and deportation for "irregular" immigrants.


Communists must be aware that migratory phenomena are a challenge for the recomposition of the unity of the working class and the construction of an alternative social bloc. The PRC must be the "tribune of the people", in defence of immigrant workers, according to Leninist directives, giving a voice to those that have no voice because they are the most oppressed. On the one hand, we must work for unity between foreign and Italian workers; on the other, we must fight resolutely against xenophobia and racism to construct mass, unitary response to xenophobic aggression.


First of all, we must demand the respect for refugee rights, the closure of the so-called temporary camps, the regularisation of all the immigrants present on the national territory, the abolition of the police procedures for residency and work permits, and the putting into effect of concrete socio-cultural and material measures for their entry and integration. But our final objective must be the abolition of all restrictions on entry and full political, social and citizenship rights for all those who come to our country seeking better living conditions. At the same time, we must act so that foreign workers can escape from illegal employment, low salaries and exploitation, working for their unionisation and full integration in the working-class movement and its organisations.


In this general context, priority must be given to the greatest possible mobilisation against the Bossi-Fini law and the further reactionary hardening that this represents (annulment of the right to refugee status, introduction of clandestine immigration as a criminal offence, condemnation of migrant workers to a life-long flexibility subordinate to business interests). All this requires, more than before, the direct adoption of the defence of foreign workers' rights by all the working-class movement as an integral part of their platform against the government in order to repudiate it.




The PRC is and must be in the front line in the opposition to liberalist policies. But this must not be limited to a purely defensive action, although this is a priority. It is, instead, essential that wherever possible our defence of the welfare state and workers' rights is linked to an anticapitalist programme against the crisis, namely an alternative class-based solution. The question of ownership and power cannot only be empty words: it must be the crux of the party programme as the central thread of communist action in the working class.


In recent years, our party has adopted a perspective of capitalist society reform towards a non-liberalist development model. Any immediate demand, from a tax on BOT (investment) or a 35 hour working week, to workers' rights, has been referred back to a reform programme indicated as the realistic grounds for an alternative society that is "possible" today and a "plural left" government that might follow it. The demand for the "Tobin Tax" for a "social Europe" is a clear example of this line.


This line, in spite of its presumed realism, has been shown to be profoundly utopian. Imagining a general reformist solution that is at the same time compatible with capitalism and progressive means pursuing a utopia in current historical conditions. The experiences of the '90s clearly prove this. On the government's part, whether Prodi or Jospin, the programme of possible reform has been turned on its head into a counter-reform programme resulting in the heavy communist co-responsibility for the liberalist policies of capital. On the opposition's part, the same programme, systematically proposed as the terrain for discussion with the ruling political forces and the liberal DS apparatus, has not even been listened to. Continuing to follow this line means raising neo-reforming illusions among the workers that communists, as such, must combat.


The programmatic line of class action must, therefore, be turned upside down. Communists cannot adopt so-called "tangible and possible" objectives as their perspective. Instead, they must construct their own policy on the clear, repeated logic that no serious social progress can be achieved or consolidated without discussing, in the final instance, the relations of property and power. This does not mean, as is obvious, renouncing our immediate, elementary demands that should be structured and re-grouped in a precise proposal (general dispute). It means explaining on the basis of the workers' practical experience, that any reform or eventual partial conquest, any eventual defence of past conquests, can be achieved only as a by-product of a general conflict with capitalist society and its governments (of whatever colour). And only a rupture with the capitalist relations, only a workers' government based on their organised force, can hatch a real alternative society.


This is the real reason why any "compatible" policy line, apparently concrete, is on the contrary concretely abstract. We must identify on every terrain a system of demands that on the one hand accords with the specific concreteness of the class struggle and on the other prefigures a general anticapitalist outcome, free of any reformist illusions.


The defence of the social conquests of the working-class movement from these assaults, and the development and extension of social rights as universal rights represent our essential programme demands. But to achieve them, we must not only fight for the abolition of the liberalist counter-reforms already carried out, but also a re-allocation of welfare spending of the new, immense resources. It is unrealistic to imagine that the re-negotiation of the stability pact within an imperialist Europe can solve the problem. On the other hand, we must propose the "liberation" of at least three hundred billion lire through the elimination of unacceptable bourgeois privileges:


- the abolition of financial, commercial and banking secrecy as the only concrete condition for the real fight against fiscal evasion and elusion;


- an ordinary and extraordinary capital tax on the very wealthy;


- a large increase in taxation on high profits and incomes that have grown thanks to government policies over the last years;


- the abolition of public funding for private business - true state assistance for capital that costs the Treasury tens of thousands of billions;


- the unilateral abolition of the public debt with full guarantees for small savers;


These demands represent the real, possible instruments to finance a new social policy for the working masses, the unemployed, the young, pensioners and the renaissance of the South.


At the same time, especially in this age of crises and huge capitalist concentration, any serious redistribution of wealth clashes with bourgeois ownership. Any design of a new development model that answers the needs of the workers, the unemployed, the poor in the South means questioning the ownership of strategic sectors of the economy in the framework of a basic alternative for society, of alternative power.


In this sense, the V Congress must urge the PRC to develop a coherent anticapitalist campaign, not in ideological terms but based on the experience of the masses. For example, the food pollution by the huge alimentary industries, protected by the European Commission, necessitates worker and consumer control of production and the abolition of commercial secrecy as a guarantee of social self-defence. The oil industry's speculation over petrol prices requires their accounts to be made public under the control of consumers and society. The repeated, chronic scandals in the pharmaceutical industry, damaging health and life-threatening, render necessary the nationalisation of the industry without indemnity under social control. Any criminal action of profit against the majority of society must be linked to the impelling need for an anticapitalist response as the only, fundamental solution.


At the same time, the question of ownership must be posed in the dynamics of the movements' struggle with simple, pure spontaneity, without being modified. In the peace movement, within a more general anti-imperialist line, the demand for the expropriation of the defence industry without indemnity and under worker control must be adopted. In the environmentalist movement, the private ownership of polluting industries must be called into question as the vital condition for a real re-conversion. More in general, the question of private ownership has been objectively posed by the resistance movements as part of their strategy to defend jobs in today's crisis and re-structuring of industry. The demand for the nationalisation of industry in crisis, without indemnity and under worker control, can become an element for unity on a strategically crucial front even if it is unstructured and fragmented.


Moreover, workers must understand that the nationalisation we propose has nothing to do with the traditional "cathedrals in the desert" of nationalised industry. Indeed, communists fight for nationalisation without indemnity (with the necessary guarantees for small savers) because this indemnity has already been "paid for" by the workers' exploitation and public funding. They fight so that under new nationalisation the workers and public will have the instruments to control it in a self-organised, democratic, mass council. They fight against any illusion of a mixed economy and the democratisation of capitalism, linking the demand for nationalisation to the perspective of an alternative system.




The communist opposition must recover a coherent proposal on the social terrain of democratic demands. With a new campaign for the abolition of the Agreement between the State and Church, we must change the policy we have so far adopted towards the papacy and the ecclesiastical hierarchy.


The PRC must start a widespread political campaign for the abolition of the State-Church Agreement, changing the contradictory, confused positions that have been held until now with respect to the Catholic Church. The guarantee repeatedly given to a presumed papal "anti-capitalism" in the logic of a common "approval" has been a grave error for our party.


The Vatican still represents, as it always has, a bulwark of the existing order. The material links between the ecclesiastical hierarchy and capitalist property in banking, property and land constitute the material basis for this conservative function. The formal position of the "openness" of the Church towards social issues or anti-globalisation, and its criticism of the absolutism of profit do indeed represent a real anti-capitalism, but they are part of a more general ideological anti-materialism or an open "competition" with and fight against Marxism for the minds of the oppressed masses. Furthermore, the fundamentalist nature of ecclesiastical institutions has always been expressed in the reactionary position of the papacy on civil rights, women's right to choose, homosexual and lesbian rights and education. In particular, women's crucial fight in defence of law 194 (re. Abortion) has found its declared enemy in the Church apparatus.


The political convergence between ecclesiastical interests and the Berlusconi government on many grounds has significantly increased the importance of our fight against ecclesiastical hierarchies. Of course, the PRC is not and must not be an "ideological" party: Marxism must be conceived of as a programme for transformation, not a creed. The conquest of sectors of the Catholic masses to a socialist perspective is an important aspect of the revolutionary strategy, especially in a context that now sees every Catholic group of young people present in the anti-globalisation movement. But this is exactly what impels us to expose, once and for all, the stark contradictions between the progressive needs of those sectors and the reactionary nature of the Church, based on the class struggle and the battle for democratic demands.


In this picture, today, on the back of the open conflict over private schooling and women's freedom, the demand for the abolition of the Agreement and the end of the material and symbolic privileges it confers on the Church has become very significant.




The proposal to "supersede the vanguard function" of the party, in favour of its "contamination" by grass roots movements, represents a grave risk for the PRC and could damage the movements themselves. The analysis of the last decade of party experience and the inception of a strategic and political change of direction reveal the need for the real construction of the communist party as the central instrument in the fight for an anticapitalist hegemony.


The very nature of the party, its function and its forms of organisation and life cannot be separated from the programme that the party follows and the character of its policies. On the contrary, programme and party policy inevitably share the same stamp. During its 10 year history, in the context of the institutional and political choices and the abandonment of a strategic anticapitalist project, our party has progressively succumbed to a series of largely recognisable pathologies: the cyclical scission of the party's institutional representation, at various levels; a scarce involvement of the militant members in the definition and discussion of the options, insufficient transparency in the political discussion within the party, in the eyes of the members; and the lack of a robust network of cadres, which have all contributed to the deep, lasting crisis in its social class rooting. In other words, our party has defended its own existence but in many ways it has not built anything up. It has become an important venue for aggregation, an instrument for mobilisation and an institutional political presence, but it has not developed a collective party life or any real impact on the dynamics of the class struggle. The need for a change of direction derives from this analysis, in order to make up for lost time and work for the construction of a party and hence new policies: the policies of an anticapitalist alternative and the corresponding hegemony of the movements. These are the only policies that can really motivate, beyond a mere call to arms, a culture of organisation, training, militancy and social rooting…


Instead, the proposal that is now put forward is exactly the opposite. On the one hand it confirms the continuity of a strategic political line nationally and locally, while on the other it proposes a greater dilution of the party in the movements within a renewed direct attack, greater than ever before, on the very concept of "hegemony". The thesis that the "vanguard" function of the party should now be "definitively superseded", the concept of "equal dignity" between the party institutions and the movement and the explicit criticism of the very concepts of "circles" and "federations", opting instead for the "contamination" of the movement, all make up a deeply negative tendency. Instead of finally developing the party's hegemony in the movements, for the first time the principle of the hegemony of the movements over the party has been theorised. And so the invitation to open up to the movements, in itself extremely important, is transformed into the risk of our dissolution into the movement itself or the transformation of our own structures into indistinct parts of the movement. The paradoxical outcome would not be the strengthening of the party but the contrary: the dispersion of its forces and a further uprooting to the damage both of the party and the movement itself.




We must build the PRC as a communist party in the Leninist Gramscian sense of an intellectual collective, fighting for the anticapitalist hegemony of the working class and mass movements. Recovering and putting into effect the Leninist concept of the party is crucial for the real construction of the PRC, especially in this season of the renewal of the movements. Outside or against the Gramscian culture of hegemony, any defence of the "party form" is reduced to weak, empty rhetoric.


The class struggle and mass movements are the central lever for socialist change. This means that the task of promoting, extending and developing movements for this struggle and the deep rooting in the movements and their dynamics are the basic tasks of a communist party. Anything acting outside the mass movements, any attempt to distance ourselves - however it may be motivated - does not represent the "defence" of the party but, on the contrary, a compromise on the anticapitalist project that is the very basis of the communist party. Therefore, this type of action must be strongly opposed culturally and politically within the PRC.


But our participation in the movements at the deepest level must be adopted as the lever for a battle for hegemony, not as the flag for its removal. In the Leninist and Gramscian sense - in antithesis to the theoretical and practical line of Stalinism - "hegemony" does not mean "administrative control", the call for the party's "primacy" within the movements. On the contrary, it means a loyal, free, ideal political struggle to lead the movements to a revolutionary perspective, in open opposition to the reformist, bureaucratic cultural and political tendencies. In the absence of this struggle the raison d'etre for a communist party would be lost, and the basic tenets of the movements themselves would be compromised. The experience of the 20th century demonstrates that the greatest, most radical mass movements, without a conscious revolutionary line and under the hegemony of reformist forces, are destined to failure and defeat. The old revisionist theory of the late 19th century, according to which "the movement is everything, the end is nothing" (Bernstein), has been radically belied by history. It cannot be re-proposed, in any form, as the "new" principle for communist refoundation.


The theory that the Leninist and Gramscian conception of hegemony has now been superseded since it was based on the old separation between "pre-political movements" and "doctrine" (instead of the latent anti-capitalism of the current movements) radically misinterprets both the past and the present. The representation of the movements as an apolitical mass and the party as "doctrine" distorts the Marxist conception of both movements and the party. Any movement of the lower classes, even if limited, has its political potential: it moves new impulses and ideas, develops the experience of the protagonists and enriches their awareness. In this sense, every movement reveals its "latent anti-capitalism". The decisive function of the party is not to impose doctrine on the apolitical movements, but to use as a lever the progressive sentiments deep inside the movement and the active dynamics of the struggle that accompany these sentiments so that the latent anti-capitalism of the movements may become anticapitalist political awareness. This quantum leap in consciousness will not come about "spontaneously". Our party must work tenaciously and methodically, because the communist party alone holds the historical memory of the lessons of the class struggle that no contingent movement can possess. Only the communist party can fight in a concentrated, organised way to free the movements from the control of the old apparatus of the neo-reformist cultural influences that dug their grave. The Party's vanguard function as a "intellectual collective" has its real roots in this decisive task.


Moreover, far from being superseded, the Leninist concept of the party is even more relevant today. In a situation marked by the renewal of the movements in the new generation and the long historical gap between revolutionary Marxism and the young, the function of the party is even more crucial if this consciousness is to be developed, to bring a general political vision to the movements and to apply a Marxist reading and interpretation of events. At the same time, the splintering in the working class, under the weight of the last twenty years, which has often been seen as a sign of the "sunset" of the party, proves more than ever its central function. It is a factor for a counter-tendency, for the social recomposition of an alternative bloc and in this a hegemony of the anticapitalist class. In turn, just as the party is the crucial instrument for hegemony, only the policy of hegemony can be the cornerstone of a communist party. Outside or against the Leninist and Gramscian conception of hegemony, any defence of the "party form", however sincere, is reduced to mere empty words.




Just because it brings the anticapitalist, revolutionary project to the movements, the party cannot dilute its own structures in the movement. On the contrary, it must defend and develop them as the specific instruments for mass action. This requires a far-reaching reform of the present constitution of the PRC.


A communist party, as an "intellectual collective" needs primarily to develop its own organisation, autonomously, as the instrument for action in the class struggle. The theory that there is "equal dignity" between the party and the grass roots movements within the logic of a reciprocal osmosis and a reciprocal "contamination" is deeply regressive. It dissolves an objective diversity of functions and structures into abstract equivalent values. It is not a question of undermining the sovereign autonomy of the movements and their structures, which should be respected and defended. Nor is it a question of denying what the movement's experience can bring to the party, which should be enriched by all real relations with the masses. On the contrary, it means taking the communist revolutionary project into the heart of the movement and its autonomous structures, within the active participation of their construction. Therefore, the organisation of the communist party, its autonomous development and its organised rooting must be absolutely distinct from the movement. Without the collective assimilation and understanding of this relationship between the vanguard organisation and mass action, the PRC is destined to waver, in its real life, between an institutional separation from the movements and the political dissolution of its real role in favour of a naïve identification with the movements. And it often combines both these aspects. The adoption of the policy of an anticapitalist hegemony within the movements requires in turn the far-reaching reform of our party. First of all, the concept of a party that is able to provide an institutional presence but is not "institutionalist" must be affirmed. That is to say, a party that does not opt for vote-grabbing policies, but asks for votes for its policies; a party that does not subordinate its mass actions to its institutional representation but subordinates its representation to mass action, developing social opposition and the recomposition of an anticapitalist bloc. The mass nature of the party lies, first of all, in its daily projection towards the conquest of the lower classes. This requires a social rooting in the workplace and on the territory, the development and training of militants and cadres and a constant, vigilant control of its institutional representatives who must be considered the party's representatives in the institutions and not the institutions' representatives in the party. To this end, the party and its organisms, at all levels, must be encouraged to formulate verifiable, concrete projects for the social rooting and the vitality of the structure, outside any mere projection of image, or race to meet the election deadline.




This far-reaching political reform of our conception and construction of the party requires an equally far-reaching reform of its democracy as the decisive terrain for communist refoundation.


We need to make all comrades "the landlords" in the common party, to encourage not marginalise our young comrades, and enhance not suffocate the spirit of initiative and independent judgement that is essential for a vital party. Above all, we must let all the militants participate in decision-making at the various levels of the party because democratically-defined policies are those that gain most support in practice while options imposed from above, even when shared, do not mobilise energies and initiative.


At the same time, each comrade's right to follow the debates, decisions and different positions in the party and to contribute wholeheartedly (and not with vague impressions gathered from a hostile press) must be defended. In this sense, an instrument for internal national debate is necessary, with minutes and acts from the directive organisms, starting from the national Committee, and ample space for contributions from the federations, circles, individuals or groups of militants. At the same time, Liberazione must be open for comment from all the party and respect its democratic life without any political interference from the journalists or editors.


Furthermore, it is necessary that the training of comrades - that must be taken on board as a crucial issue in the party - is conceived as the real development of internal democracy, because only the development of awareness, competence and preparation can reinforce the autonomy of judgement and so the real freedom of evaluation.


In general, we need a party of free and equal individuals who make the constant struggle against bureaucracy and discrimination in the party the new code for its actual construction. Therefore, the faculty of initiative in the circles without any bureaucratic control from the federation must be re-established, and the role and nature of the current regional executives greatly revised. The right of the federations to designate their electoral candidates at the different levels must be re-established and affirmed, against any imposition from above in the party.


Finally, our party must combine the necessary unity of external action - fundamental in the battle for hegemony - with the wider freedom of internal discussion and full respect for minority rights (starting from the possibility of becoming in turn the majority). Only full internal democracy and real (not formal) equal dignity between all the positions can lead to the conception and practice of a party of free and equal individuals and above all can legitimise our unity in external action as the absolute, deep-rooted principle of all the party. In this sense, any prejudice or discrimination against political components of the party must be abandoned at all levels with respect to its institutional representation and its executive structures.


In addition, our experience has shown that the real risk for the unity of the party does not lie in the free, loyal discussion of different political opinions, but in silent bureaucratic manoeuvring, a clannish spirit and the logic of bureaucratic fractions and factions that until a few moments before had perhaps proclaimed the need for a unanimity of vote and the "discipline" of the party.




Young communists have great potential for growth in this phase. But the battle to build political hegemony among the young on an alternative revolutionary project requires strengthening the organisation of the Young Communists and above all their alternative political character, outside any hypothesis of dilution in the abstract "antagonist" areas present in the movements (viz. the "white boilersuits" in the no-global movement).


The V Congress of Rifondazione Communista must pay particular attention to the question of the young who have taken on a strategic role in the class struggle in Italy. The young - workers, students, or unemployed - have suffered more than any other group from ten years of neo-liberalist policies that the successive governments have undertaken. In some areas of the country, in particular the South, the cohorts of unemployed are to a great extent made up of young men and women. For many, the only alternative to their current social condition is to accept illicit employment, usually underpaid and often in sectors controlled by organised crime. The situation of those who manage to find more or less regular employment is less tragic, but no less difficult. Recently, especially after the so-called "Treu Package" became law, unfortunately approved by our party too, we have seen a-typical employment develop (training contracts, apprenticeship, co-ordinated collaboration, VAT-registered employment etc) which in reality has become the "typical" way for the young to enter the world of work. These forms of employment have had extremely high social costs: they have meant low salaries, an increase in workload, less union and contractual protection and the lack of respect for health and safety conditions in factories and offices (accounting for the enormous number of deaths and injuries in the workplace). In short, there is now a situation of perennial precariousness that leads to economic blackmail by the bosses. In education, we have seen a systematic attack on state education, to the advantage of private schools, started by the Ulivo ministers Berlinguer and De Mauro and now brought to its logical conclusion by minister Moratti. The plan to create parity between public and private schools that would provide regional and state funding for the latter and billions in cuts in state schooling, the creation of a single register for state and private school teachers (the latter employed on the basis of their loyalty to the ideology of the private schools - mostly religious), the institution of the headmaster-manager, and the investments business has made in the universities in order to determine the didactic choices, all make the class character of education in Italy clearer than ever before. The reactionary campaigns that have been launched in recent years concerning sexual freedom (homophobia, the hypothesis of limiting the right to abortion, etc) and the fight against drug use, particularly addressed to the young, can be added to all this. If this is the situation that the young are forced to endure, it is no wonder that they play a front-line role in the mobilisation that has marked the "thawing" of class conflict. In this context, therefore, our party and its youth organisation must adopt a political programme for intervention within these movements to develop the fight for hegemony.


As capitalism increasingly demonstrates its incapacity to guarantee a future for the new generations, then an organisation that fights to overturn it and create a socialist class alternative can answer the legitimate aspirations of the young and earn their trust politically. Therefore, a policy that, starting from the actual levels of consciousness present in the movements, links them to the need for a more general fight against capitalism is essential. It must be explained that only in the perspective of a change of system can their aspirations for an adequate salary, stable employment and a school that is not subject to the diktat of capital be satisfied. On the contrary, the recent choice, made by the current leaders of the Young Communists, to create a political, organisation bloc with the "white boilersuits" (Casarini) and the No Global Network (Caruso) in order to create an area of "social disobedience" must be rejected. Obviously, the possibility of making tactical alliances with certain groups is not in discussion. But there is the risk that as a result, beyond their subjective will, the action for the construction of a young organisation for refoundation as the driving force and potential hegemonic element in the mobilisation might take a back seat, especially in a phase in which the membership in our youth organisation is growing and full investment here is necessary. Above all, this choice means the Young Communists' structures run the risk of a subordinate dilution in an aggregation with confused political tenets - a mixture of generic "antagonism" and an anti-party, reformist involvement in the movements - that would, in practice, make "disobedience" a hurdle and not one of the stages in the plan for constructing a communist hegemony among the young generations. Therefore, for all these reasons, a political change of direction is needed in the Party and in the Young Communists, who will tackle these issues in their next national Conference.


Marco Ferrando, Ivana Aglietti, Claudio Bellotti, Vito Bisceglie, Anna Ceprano, Franco Grisolia, Luigi Izzo, Matteo Malerba, Francesco Ricci and Michele Terra (PRC National Political Committee)