FRANCE: THE NEXT ELECTIONS AND THE MARXIST-LENINISTSLeave a comment
29/01/2022 by socialistfight
By Alonso Quijano, January 2022
Clockwise from top left): Emmanuel Macron, Marine Le Pen, Xavier Bertrand and Jean-Luc Mélenchon. Macron and Le Pen are favourites for to win the presidential elections next year Pic: Shutterstock
Marxism is the “concrete analysis of concrete reality” based on accumulated experience, that is, its rich theoretical capital as well as its rich practical experience, its defeats and its triumphs.
If we want to reflect on the forthcoming elections, we must first characterize the general political situation of the class struggle.
In our opinion, there are many factors at play here, but the most important are: the growing instability of a capitalist world sliding into a deep crisis;
Spontaneous social explosions that are developing;
A glaring lack of political leadership of these explosions, of ideological, political and trade union struggles.
With regard to France, to which we will limit our critique, we note that:
1. former revisionism, the PCF, has become a center-right social democracy which denies all its principles and even Marx and Lenin, and has lost all reference to the working class, socialism, etc., for most of the parties which still refer to this “communism”, or has remained as the final carriage of social democracy.
A situation which sometimes outraged its militant base and its best cadres, but which was never overcome, creating sectarian groupings which had no other perspective than to return to … classical revisionism.
Worse, the internal takeover of these parties by a careerist layer which has ousted the old revisionist cadres makes it almost impossible to win them back for the proletarian revolution.
Only a broad and deep revolutionary mass movement can win back its best elements, which must be in its youth and the more or less left opposition still remaining in the party.
2. What is in France taken by Trotskyism has never progressed beyond the state of small groups representing a broad spectrum of positions, objectively ranging from a certain form of anarcho-syndicalism to open right positions. As an example, direct support for imperialist aggression with all shades in between.
In France, they form the political tendency that has the most activists.
When they had some influence in elections, they achieved 10% of the votes. This good result led them to split instead of trying to increase their voter base.
The LCR (Communist Revolutionary League) capitulated immediately afterwards to form an opportunist structure, the NPA, which is already in its final stages. Along the way, they abandoned everything, including their Trotskyism, for an ideological mash in which everything and its opposite are mixed, sometimes leftist or reformist, depending on which way the wind blows.
Lutte Ouvrière, the most structured group, practices a kind of particular anarcho-syndicalism (syndicalist efforts outside national politics), from which one can observe a militancy with a marxist language, sometimes good point-by-point analyses on national questions, and especially recently indirectly pro-imperialist positioning (“centrists” their characteristic “not the one-nor the other” as in Libya, Syria and others) on international questions.
Their trade union activism is accompanied by activity as commentators on political life when the reactionary press needs them, and ritual participation in elections, all outside the real national political life that concerns the great mass of workers in this country. All this in the name of the political independence of the working class, which they confuses with its real isolation and has not the flexibility and tactical compromises imposed by the need to develop as a mass organization.
Often, even constantly, its “politics” is limited to the propagation of general truths that are completely outside the state of understanding of the masses or far removed from the tactical-critical compromises that are a necessity in order to move forward.
These two directions, to which one would have to add the POI and the POID (split of the former POI, the former PT, the former MPPT, etc.), called “Lambertist”, are particular party forms in which republican and anarchist tendencies coexist with the Trotskyists’ members of the Lambertist CCI (Courant Communist Internationalist), who form a large majority. Their recent split has changed the course of one of these components somewhat.
3. the Marxist Leninists are another current which has a very great diversity, ranging from the extreme right (e.g. support for Pinochet and other right-wing dictatorships against “social imperialism”) to very left directions or with elements which constantly confuse criticism of revisionism with criticism of the USSR.
This direction has been in crisis since the defeat of the Four’s Left in China, from which it has had difficulty recovering, forming different and contradictory chapels, sometimes fighting each other like enemies, and showing other manifestations of political demoralization and confusion.
In France, their initial tactics separated them from the masses despite the efforts of their best grassroots activists. At the heart of their opportunism was their misunderstanding of the moment, their tactical rigidity, certain concepts such as “Soviet social imperialism” (which confuses Lenin’s characterization of imperialism, the export of capital by the monopolies through a real bourgeois class, with that of the bourgeoisie, which understands it purely under its purely aggressive and military aspect) or that of the “Three Worlds” (untenable and totally absurd and opportunist), which have not only made possible all the shifts to the right under the pretext of fighting “Soviet social imperialism” (the same that collapsed by itself) or participating in unprincipled fronts behind the bourgeoisie. Those are counterrevolutionary phrases in the service of the chauvinist Chinese right and its gradual restoration of capitalism and its momentary understanding with North American imperialism.
The main form of their left misunderstanding of their own reality was formulated in the famous Pyrrhic slogan “No to the elections” or “Elections is an idiot trap” because “times had changed” (i.e. Lenin’s theses no longer applied). ( ??).
The logical consequence was to pretend to work for a vague “people’s war”. An ultra-left abstract in countries with a working majority and a long bourgeois-democratic life, held up like an “open sesame” without possible consequences and absolutely not helping to win the masses, which is an indispensable condition for a people’s war implementation.
This tactic, which has been followed for almost 60 years, became de facto “abstention is the idiot trap” and made it impossible to even come close to a “people’s war”.
Such tactics isolated them, demoralized its activists, exhausted by a work that could not produce results, and all but abolished it as a political expression.
This direction, further divided by its isolationist tactics, remained without influence on events, and unknown to the mass of the working class. They take as “tactics”, constantly repeating general formulas, incapable of having even the slightest national political presence (in a country where the political class struggle actually takes place in bourgeois democracy), while they, each separately, without plan, program or perspective, but still with militant zeal, tried to participate in the social and political struggle of their class.
Political mistakes are highly payed. This terrible statement is verified in the facts and requires correction in view of the rise of struggles, because the other “options” have also shown their inability to lead the struggles.
Let us return to the national political situation.
If there is something that characterizes the political condition of the voting masses, it is the blind search for a way out of the capitalist crisis that is being dumped on their backs.
For the “conscious” consciousness of the masses is still anchored in bourgeois parliamentarism.
The growing abstention from voting is in its absolute majority an expression of demoralization, sometimes of right-wing mentality and withdrawal from political life.
Then you have voters from the working-class, and petty-bourgeois strata going to the right, then to the left and back to the right in an almost eternal swing.
They vote left … this doesn’t work?
Then they go to the extreme right and/or the extreme left.
The Le Pen far right softens their rhetoric? Then they go to Zemmour.
The far left squanders their 10%? Then they look for something else, for example Mélenchon.
The main factor remains hidden, namely the class struggle, the class dynamics of the situation. The lack of a political center or party of their own, leaves the masses, who sometimes fight for a long time, beaten and confused, but not yet defeated. The question of the party is still one of the fundamental questions, because without a party of their own, the masses cannot advance.
The workers then go blind or influenced by a lot of reactionary “à la mode” ideologies. A-politicism, postmodernism, the tendency not to organize and other manifestations of bourgeois ideology.
But more and more people no longer vote or only vote “against” someone.
Thus, one finds that:
The PCF? Makes 2%. “Trotskyism” still 2%. The Marxist-Leninists makes nothing, because they do not appear and politically they simply do not exist for large sections of the population.
So, for the broad masses, politics takes place in the arena of the bourgeois parliamentarism of a second-rate imperialist country, which acts as a lackey of the main imperialism, hegemonic imperialism. They feel most directly the national policies that affect their wages and interests very directly.
It is not worth mistaking wishful thinking instead of reality and/or deluding oneself by giving abstentionism a revolutionary character that it certainly does not have.
For those who still have some political consciousness, be it petty-bourgeois or reformist-or “leftist” in general, in the face of such an ideological and political desert, tired of betrayals and missed hopes, are looking for “alternatives” to the all-round offensive of the bourgeoisie.
A bourgeoisie that must liquidate all “social gains” in order to regain surplus-value margins in an economic situation characterized precisely by the fall of the rate of profit.
Or they abstain from voting. Not from revolutionary abstention (the tactic of abstention has always been advocated for open revolutionary situations. At least by Lenin in 1906 and Marx in 1848), but from abstentionist demoralization. Of a kind of strange “a-politicism”, because they sometimes mobilize in the event of a perceived danger: against the extreme right, for example.
There are also other forms of expression that have developed. Non-political, anti-organizational and often anti-communist directions. But in their confusion, crushed by the crisis, they also develop a critique of capitalism. The obvious contradiction manifests the transitional nature of their approach.
If one takes a step back, one finds that a progressive development has been emerging for more than a decade, which began with the critique of “neoliberalism”. A timid kind of critique of capitalism that was peculiar to the petty-bourgeois directions.
The continuation was confused mass movements led by petty-bourgeois critique, influenced by “left” ideological currents, coming from, postmodernisms, anti-organizational, gender and race currents, etc. such as Podemos, Siriza, Nuits Débout, Ocupy Wall Street.
These temporary movements had two “results”: they formed the starting point for “fire spark” mass movements of short life (often with petty-bourgeois majorities) against capitalism, but on an anti-party, even anti-organization and anti-communist basis.
Communism understood as the final form of decadence of the USSR or right-wing China or the non-Marxist or claimed as such personal regime in North Korea). In short, one leg was directed to the North and the other to the South, representing the need to end capitalism and an expression of political confusion due to the lack of a genuine organized, democratic and centralized communist perspective.
The explosion of the revolting masses of the yellow waistcoats (Gillets Jaunes) was the logical continuation of the previous phase, which, like any dialectical development, carried important residues of the previous phase, i.e. a dose of anti-organization, anti-party, but less open anti-communism, more organization forced by the very necessities of the struggle. This “left leaning” arrive to a final declaration against capitalism and to accompany the ritual Union’s walks of the workers regulated by their trade union organizations sold to capital, while keeping their independence.
This is an important qualitative leap both in terms of the confusing consciousness that is being enlightened and in terms of its sociological composition, since the majority of it has been integrated by the poorer strata of society. As yet, the organized working class has not massively participated in this movement, although sections and even some local and departmental centrals have joined it well.
In between all these steps, the parties have either tried to appropriate it for their electoral campaigns or despised it, or abandoned it to its fate and even fought against it. They are absolutely incapable of understanding the dialectic of a movement that rises from the ashes The masses finds themselves forced to move forward like a blind man because the “parties” do not guide and enlighten it, because the parties themselves understand nothing of what is going on.
In our opinion, a new stage is being reached at this moment.
The Kazakh workers’ uprising, a section of the Kazakh working class with its own forms of struggle, which has united the hatred, cover-up and oppression of the entire world bourgeoisie, even before the indifference of all the left parties except, perhaps, exceptions.
This uprising is objectively the transition from a spontaneous and militant movement to the surge of the working class, conducting a fight on the basis of its own organization against the terrible conditions that the crisis of capitalism will dictate to all the workers of the world.
It is noteworthy that the Chinese, Russian, American and European governments unanimously wanted to silence, stifle and massacre this workers’ uprising, which lacked the Party and the militant and militant solidarity of the international working class to have any chance of success.
As this step has been taken in practice, the great merit of the Kazakh working class, even if it is crushed, will be to be the first social class independent of all bourgeois and petty-bourgeois directions to rise up and fight with its own weapons.
Their struggle lacked its own organizing and leading party. Nevertheless, this is the next step on the blind but progressive path of the class towards its emancipation.
All that remains is that indispensable tool, the Leninist party, which puts all previous practice before the consciousness that thinks about the liberation of the proletariat. A party which, because of the logic of the crisis of capitalism and the governments’ push for authoritarian positions, must study and make its own the “old” theses of Lenin developed in “What is to be done?”.
How to achieve this is the question.
Before this question, we will observe the positioning of the different parties.
First of all, we are dealing with a polarization of society. A phenomenon typical of a deepening of the capitalist crisis, which by its effects should lead to a series of revolts throughout the world.
The clearest manifestation of this polarization is the appearance of Zemmour’s candidacy a extreme right wing candidate, totally “fabricated” by Bolloré one of the main French capitalists, in an election initially thought as a duel between Marine Le Pen and Macron.
The other side of the coin, is the dominance of Mélenchon’s left candidacy, which appears to the masses as the most real response to Macron and Zemmour. The absolute ignorance of a political Marxist-Leninist current for the masses and the fact that the other left candidates are completely inaudible or considered as witness voices. In fact, voices that only interest their activists and their closest circle.
The PCF (Parti Communiste Français) , after having been the closing wagon-car of the Socialist Party, after having supported the candidacy of the left social democrat Mélenchon in 2017 for fear of taking a huge defeat, decided at a congress, under the pressure of its left wing and its base less directly linked to “posts of responsibility” (with careerists already placed) and for the pure interest of its shop, to put forward its own candidate.
In their discourse, this is to ensure the “class independence of the proletariat and its vanguard”.
In fact, this would have been the case if the candidate had developed a clearly communist program and positioning of a genuinely communist party and had not gone to support the demonstrations of the far-right police, to make anti-immigrant statements or to answer very centrally the questions of journalists.
Roussel, a man of the careerist’s tendency is their candidate. He is torn between the interests of re-electing mandate holders allied with the “soft underbelly of the party” on the one hand, and the decisions of the party congress, and the farthest left activists or those who do not want the party to disappear, on the other.
The “line” of the national leadership, which has preceded the mass of the party and chosen Roussel as its candidate in order to defend all the careerists who have entered the PCF with the scope of making a career and nothing else. When it comes to a crushing defeat, which will be the case, they will blame the left wing of the party and use the opportunity to pursue a line with the SP, that is exclusively in the interests of the elected representatives and their coterie. This may even go as far as changing the name of the party.
This candidacy would mean returning to the socialists and attempting a popular front once again, with the sole prospect of retaining a few posts here and there.
Such a decision would further throw the party into turmoil and would be a serious blow to the PCF, whose careerists don’t give a damn, but not so much that they would break an instrument that allows them to make a career. Roussel is thought to have 2% and, objectively, he would reduce Mélenchon by 2%, since Roussel has no chance of getting into the second round.
On the extreme left we find extreme opportunism or extreme leftism.
LO calls for “communism” plus the same demands of the 1936 transitional program, as it has done for decades, in a political situation marked by the rise of the extreme right.
The masses, who are in their first advances of struggle and are still very far from ideological communist political ideas, can only take a very minority stand on this choice. But the LO’s think less of the general interests of the workers at a given moment, but of “the long term”, a convenient formula that makes nothing possible and only serves to reinforce their militancy in its permanent masochism. “Another defeat? We are not electoral campaigners” is their permanent wisdom, instead of their “Permanent Revolution”.
The illusion they spread that the masses will turn to the “revolutionaries” once their illusions have evaporated is simply an ultra-false sophism. On the contrary, the masses, disappointed by revisionists, leftists and social democrats, invariably turn to the extreme right.
The Chilean PCR (Communist Revolutionary Party) propagated the same illusion among its activists: “As soon as the masses have proof that the revisionists are leading the people to the slaughterhouse, they will understand the correctness of our line and join us”. No. The Communist Party of Chile remains in Chilean political life and precisely because they participate in it, despite their political crimes, and the PCR has disappeared because their illusions have never been confirmed.
The workers only follow those who, despite their confusions and mistakes, are always by their side, who explain to them “one step forward” but walk with them, and not those who teach them a lesson from the pavement.
The aim of the LO, like the PCF for that matter? To keep their shop. This means making propaganda for general ideas which are correct when analyzed by textbook, and completely wrong when analyzed according to the needs of the workers’ struggle at a particular, real, current and not untimely moment.
All this combined with sharp criticism of the NPA and Mélénchon’s social democratic left, which are seen as competitors who “deceive the workers” and subsequently “prevent their development”. That social democracy, whether right or left, can “prevent” the development of communism is something that would have astonished a Lenin, to put it mildly.
Thus, even outside their official speeches, one can hear: “It is necessary to liquidate social democracy in order to free the place”, although this speech was also put forward for “Stalinism” which, once “liquidated”, allowed nothing more. Of course, Lenin’s practice and “Leftism as the Infantile Disorder of Communism” are rejected.
This is a left position preoccupied with its navel will make up between 0.5 and 1%, which they objectively rest to Mélenchon and which, whether they like it or not, will help Macron or Le Pen or Zemmour or Pécresse.
It’s not clear whether Poutou or Azid will manage to run. They don’t have the necessary signatures to run, although they could be supported by Macron or the right, to further rest votes to Mélenchon, their only rival with a chance.
Poutou is the candidate of the NPA (Nouveau Parti Anticapitaliste)and will achieve between 1 and 1.5%. The NPA is in a state of rapid degeneration. The product of the LCR’s capitulation could not have had a different fate.
Azid is the candidate of an NPA tendency ( morenist’s “Révolution Permanente” or RP) which, by decision of its international membership, one of the Argentina-based Fourth Internationals, has decided to split from the NPA, form its own group and put up a candidate who will make propaganda for the future of his group and its International. Will he do 1% if he runs? That is not certain. Their actual slogan? “First my shop, the general interests of the workers, we don’t care! ” And this applies to a whole range of so-called parties.
As for the Marxist-Leninists, they could surely take their constant ” elections is an idiot trap” mantra, as usual and abstained. VP or what is left would perhaps vote LO as she did before. That would be the marriage of the carp fish and the rabbit, between “Marxist-Leninists” (they are not) and “Trotskyists” (they are not).
So, that is not politics, but pure anarcho-syndicalism in a “Marxist” way, that ignores itself.
Today’s leftists understand politics as working in circles, participating in workers or others struggles and everything that goes with it, but not in the national political reality, in the actual class struggle on a political level. All this election is “bourgeois, opportunist, revisionist, traitorous, drifting to the right, unprincipled, etc.”.
So, they continue their long and difficult “struggle” against themselves and into nothingness.
Since reality “does not suit them”, since “thanks to” tactical decisions that make you wonder where they come from, you have been reduced to nothing, you persist, you deny reality, it is easier.
Meanwhile, new generations are joining the militants and looking for real political statements, starting from their real level of political consciousness and looking for a national political presence they can identify with.
Generations that are more interested in electoral politics due to the nature of political struggle in an old bourgeois-democratic dictatorship, a phenomenon that incidentally also affects workers and youth, and who only find what the bourgeoisie or meaningless opportunist directions offer them.
The Socialist Party, very weakened by 30 years and more of right-wing social-democratic policies, exacerbated by the Vals-Hollande government, is putting up a candidate in Hidalgo who is openly from its right wing. She has nothing to offer and sees that her candidacy is not generating enthusiasm even among the remnants of her party. She is at 3%. She had seriously thought of abandoning a failure run that would weigh her down in future elections. But no, her party has to be there, even if collapses completely.
A Taubira candidacy, most likely remotely controlled by Macron’s campaign adviser, pretends to “bring the left together”, but has little chance of achieving anything other than stealing a few percent of Mélenchon’s vote. It also comes from the right wing of the PS.
In today’s national political spectrum you have, in fact, France Insoumise and its candidate Mélenchon as a somewhat real option.
France Insoumise is a kind of “melting pot” of the social democratic electorate disillusioned with the betrayal of the same social democracy, i.e. its left wing; the ideological and political reflection of the last struggles against “neoliberalism” and the emergence of a new generation of activists, initially influenced by the petit bourgeoisie, more influenced by ecology and postmodernism, and by a part of the workers who voted left.
A kind of Podemos, mixed with social democratic forms from Latin America or partly inspired by them without really knowing them.
But with a French touch, namely the republican Freemason tradition, the indirect reflection of the struggles of the French proletariat, like the yellow waistcoats, plus a touch of “Lambertism” the other “Trotskyist” tendency in France.
Mélenchon, former minister and senator, like other social democrats, is a subject of social dynamics, a reflect of the class struggle.
Thus, in Spain, Largo Caballero, a veteran politician of the Cortes, was pushed by the struggle of the Spanish workers to the point of declaring himself “Spanish Lenin” after suffering in prison following a failed proletarian insurrection attempt and becoming the expression of the left in the center-right government of the Spanish Republic, in the struggle against Francoism.
The former president of Chile, Salvador Allende, who was still a senator washed clean in the parliamentary intrigues, also went as far as armed struggle against reaction, driven by the sharp rise in the struggle of the Chilean workers.
Others, under different conditions and under pressure from the right and imperialism, like Maduro in Venezuela and Chiang Kai Shek in China, have turned against the workers.
These politicians ride on the backs, on the struggles of the workers and their fate depends on their personal characteristics and convictions, but above all on the social dynamics, the class struggle of a particular country, its economic and political situation, the upsurge of the workers’ struggle against capitalism.
Mélenchon, a 70-year-old man, in his last campaign because his age, ex minister and senator, has a good general education, knowledge of the workings of the state, a Marxist-Trotskyist education that may be old and forgotten but sometimes shines through, and he is a skillful tactician who has managed to build a movement and a national political team practically out of nothing.
From his general attitude over the last ten years and from his speech, one can see a shift to the left that could go very far if it is accompanied by a strong social and political movement. His campaign is being joined by young people who have never been politically active but who, fearing a far-right takeover, they will back the left-wing candidate who can garner the most votes.
In fact, this is the radical wing of social democracy colored with a green or ecological component.
So, it will be the dynamics of the class struggle and the political struggle that will determine his final fate. At the moment, he is the left candidate who is getting the most votes among the youth, immigrants and left workers. He is far ahead of the other left candidates.
But as things stand, a general drift to the extreme right with a polarization of society, the other pole of which is objectively Mélenchon; it is very difficult to say whether he will get into the second round. Only the split of the right-wing vote that has to be divided into four candidates, can give him a place.
If he gets to the second round, it would be a major national political event and, if he wins the elections, a political earthquake at the international level.
So, grosso modo, the picture of national politics and the future elections will determine it, between Mélenchon or the right and the extreme right.
These rightists are our open enemies and if they triumph thanks to the demoralization of the popular quarters that abstain from voting, the splitting maneuvers of the PS, PCF, the ecologists (they have a pretty lousy candidate who will need the capitalist press, to remove Mélenchon’s environmental program and thus deprive the mainstream of between 10 and 5 percent of the vote) or sectarian or dogmatic leftists. A deep demoralization that will allow a flood of capitalist counter-reforms to shift the entire burden of the crisis onto the workers.
Faced with this inescapable reality, whether the right or left social democracy, tactics must be defined for the future period.
In our humble opinion, “take a step forward with the masses to make national politics, abandon self-denying anarcho-syndicalism, make the necessary compromises to advance to the building of a genuine democratic and centralized Marxist and Leninist organization.”
This forces us to make some elementary theoretical reminders.
The first and absolutely necessary is the famous quote from Marx and Engels from the Communist Manifesto when they were only a handful:
“The position of the Communists in relation to the already constituted workers’ parties is self-explanatory, and so is their position in relation to the Chartists in England and the agrarian reformers in North America.
They fought for the immediate interests and aims of the working class; but in the present movement they defended and represented at the same time the future of the movement. In France, the communists join the Democratic Socialist Party against the conservative and radical bourgeoisie, but reserve the right to criticize the phrases and illusions inherited from the revolutionary tradition. (…)
But at no time does he fail to awaken among the workers a clear and distinct consciousness of the violent antagonism between the bourgeoisie and the proletariat, so that when the time comes the German workers will know how to transform the political and social conditions created by the bourgeois regime into weapons against the bourgeoisie, so that as soon as the reactionary classes in Germany are destroyed, the struggle against the bourgeoisie itself can be taken up. (…)
In short, the communists support in all countries every revolutionary movement against the existing social and political order.
In all these movements they put forward the property question, at whatever stage of development it may have been reached, as the fundamental question of the movement.
Finally, the communists work towards the unification and understanding of the democratic parties of all countries.”
The quote is from 1848, but unfortunately the communist movement today, more so the masses, are very close to the political consciousness of those years and the communist organizations are not too far from that level either.
That there was all the revolutionary theory of Lenin and the rich international experience?
That will take us forward very quickly, but only on the condition that we are able to build an organization that is not leftist, not sectarian and not light years away from the proletarian masses.
Communists have no other aim than to be the most advanced section of the masses, to whom they put their foresight through the tried and tested tactic of marching “one step ahead”. Not marching miles forward, drived by false “theoretical” reasons.
When they are a handful, they use the democratic (social democracy in today’s terminology) parties to – without hiding or disguising their convictions – recruit activists and create a party that can compete with and defeat this same social democracy.
This was the lifelong tactic of the Bolsheviks and was always the recommendation of the Communist International, summed up in the tactic of the united front and later in the tactic of the anti-imperialist united front.
The united front has its roots in the work of Marx and Engels in the First International when they tried to achieve the maximum practical unity against the class enemy. Indeed, it can also be said to be implicit in their famous statement in the Communist Manifesto that
“Their interests are not different from the interests of the proletariat as a whole. They do not lay down any particular principles according to which they wish to shape the proletarian movement“.
The direct precursor to the development of the united front by the Kominterm was the open letter of the Communist Party of Germany to all workers’ parties and trade unions in January 1921, calling on them to unite their forces against the capitalist offensive in defense of the workers’ vital interests.
It proposed a program for a common struggle around a series of demands, including: Higher compensation for war veterans; elimination of unemployment; improvement of the financial situation of the country at the expense of the monopolies; introduction of workers’ control over the distribution of food, raw materials and oil; control over seeds, harvesting and marketing of agricultural products by peasant councils and agricultural workers’ organizations; the immediate disarmament of all militarized organizations of the bourgeoisie; the establishment of workers’ self-defense; amnesty for political prisoners; and the immediate restoration of trade and diplomatic relations with Soviet Russia.
The Third Congress of the Kominterm met in July 1921 under the banner “To the Masses!” and under the impact of the failure of the Action March in Germany. The emphasis in the resolution “On Tactics” that the communists must fight for the highest degree of unity of action, take the struggle in hand for immediate demands and fight for the leadership of the oppressed non-proletarian strata is the sign of a new maturity. Lenin spoke at the Congress and praised the “Open Letter” as a “model of political action”.
In December 1921, the Executive Committee of the Communist International, recognising that the experience of the working class since the war had left it weakened, disunited and on the defensive, published the “Guidelines for the United Front”. The united front was not intended as a mutual amnesty. When the Executive Committee of the Communist International called on the communist parties to offer fighting agreements to the reformists and centrists on the vital questions of the day, it insisted that:
the communists must maintain “the unconditional right and opportunity to express their views on the policy of all working class organizations without exception, not only before and after the action, but also, if necessary, during its execution”.
Lenin always combined criticism of opportunism and liberals with tactical compromises with both. See his famous theses in his “Left Wing Communism, An, Infantile Disorder”, which all dogmatists and sectarians pretend to forget or downright reject.
Among other things, it states:
“One can triumph over a more powerful opponent only at the price of an extreme tension of forces and on the express condition of exploiting in the most thorough, attentive, prudent and intelligent manner the slightest “rift” between enemies. the slightest clash of interests between the bourgeoisies of the different countries, between the different groups or categories of the bourgeoisie within each country, as well as the slightest possibility of securing a numerically strong ally, even if it is a temporary, shaky, conditional, less solid and uncertain ally.
Those who have not understood this truth have not understood Marxism or contemporary scientific socialism in general. Those who have not practically proved over a long period of time and in various political situations that they can put this truth into practice have not yet learned to help the revolutionary class in its struggle to liberate all working humanity from the exploiters. And what has just been said applies also to the period before and after the conquest of political power by the proletariat.”
“Up to the fall of tsarism, the revolutionary Social-Democrats of Russia repeatedly availed themselves of the services of the bourgeois liberals, i.e., they concluded with them a variety of practical compromises. In 1901 and 1902, that is, even before the emergence of Bolshevism, the old editorial board of Iskra (this editorial board included: Plekhanov, Axelrod, Sassulich, Martov, Potressov and myself) entered into a formal political alliance with the political leader of bourgeois liberalism, Strouve (admittedly not for long), while at the same time supporting the most relentless ideological and political struggle against bourgeois liberalism and the slightest signs of its influence in the workers’ movement.The Bolsheviks have always pursued this policy. From 1905 onwards, they systematically advocated the alliance of the working class and the peasantry against the liberal bourgeoisie and tsarism, but without ever refusing to support the bourgeoisie against tsarism (e.g. in run-off or run-off elections) and without ceasing the most uncompromising ideological and political struggle against the bourgeois revolutionary peasant party, the “socialist-revolutionaries”, whom they denounced as petty-bourgeois democrats posing as socialists.”
“In 1907 the Bolsheviks briefly formed a formal political bloc with the “Socialist-Revolutionaries” in the Duma elections. From 1903 to 1912 we kept nominally in the same Social-Democratic party with the Mensheviks, sometimes for several years, without ever ceasing to fight them in the ideological and political field as agents of bourgeois influence on the proletariat and as opportunists.”
In this wonderful political summary is found the whole of communist tactics: rigidity, no compromise in principles, flexibility, seeking all possibilities in tactics.
I can already hear the outcry of the Leftist radicals against Lenin’s “unprincipled” pacts with … the liberals, which were also electoral! They could never vote for a Liberal (or a left Social Democrat) because these sentimental people “think” with their guts. Unfortunately, the guts only produce putrefaction.
Lenin, in order to come to Russia and lead the Bolsheviks into the October Revolution, even made a pact with the Supreme War Leadership of imperialist Germany.
When you spend 60 years chanting down abstract generalities and tactically know nothing else to do but liquidate the Marxist-Leninist movement, you should be more modest.
It is true that the objective conditions were not favorable during the period of the collapse of the USSR and the subsequent anti-communist campaigns, but even under the accumulating favorable conditions the march into the abyss will continue unless one radically changes one’s tactics.
If we continue to draw from the treasure of Leninist theory, we will still find advice and opinions at the Congresses of the Communist International held under its direct leadership which can serve us much better than the particular tactics of a country with a peasant majority.
We therefore concluded that it is imperative that we carry out this critique, the aim of which is to contribute to the building of a communist organization with a Marxist and Leninist orientation that can stand on two legs.
That is, an uncompromising defense of the principles which are only the most general reflection of the accumulated struggle experience of the workers and their general theoretical development.
A tactic that is consistent with these principles, that is very flexible, that considers reality as it is and abandons all dogmatic and sectarian prejudices and apriorism that have hampered the working-class parties for very long years.
On the basis of these considerations, but first and foremost on the basis of the interests of the workers, we propose, in accordance with Leninist tactics, to critically support Mélenchon’s presidential candidacy “as the rope supports the hanged man”, as Lenin said, not in order to develop his social-democratic proposals, but to take what is possible from his mixture of programs, and among the youth and workers we can reach in the campaign, to advance our own proposals and to make progress in spreading our ideas and building a communist organization.
Because for the proletariat, Zemmour is not the same as Mélenchon, Macron is not the same as Mélenchon, despite the counter-arguments that tell us that we know social democracy and that if Mélenchon got through for once, he would be countered immediately and either betrayed immediately like Siriza or others or deposed or prevented from governing by the bourgeois state apparatus.
We know this from our own experience, but we also know that the arrival of a left social democrat supported by an emerging popular movement, which will be strengthened by militant labor and the worsening of the crisis, e.g. by rising inflation, can throw the whole of society back to the left (because the “pendulum tendency” remains the main tactical feature of this period because of the lack of a party to break it and put an end to capitalism) and accelerate and intensify the class struggle as well as the political consciousness of the mass of workers.
The alternative, that of the last 60 years, is to remain by the street pavement, pointing the finger at the mistakes of the left candidates in particular (because we “know the rightists”) and thus helping reaction and the right.
The votes of dogmatists, sectarians, right-wing social democrats and non-voters can be the missing percentages to create a situation where the left does win. Because if the right wins, it will be legitimized to smash us, prepare neo-colonialist adventures or wars and take all the measures to put the burden of the capitalist crisis heavily on the shoulders of the workers of this country.
A triumph of the right will also have international repercussions, since today there are really only international politics with national variants. Likewise, a second round of Mélenchon’s election, like it or not, will reflect the awakening of the struggles against capitalism in permanent crisis that has already begun. A triumph, a political earthquake of international proportions.
If he is defeated, worse, if his vote is ridiculous, the political responsibility for such a disaster can only fall on the shoulders of all those who have not mobilized to confront the extreme right and Macron first. After that, for not having pushed the political spectrum as far as possible to the left and benefited from it to build consciousness and an Marxist Leninist party.
In any case, the question goes beyond the election itself and questions a whole past and a harmful, liquidator, absurd and totally ineffectual electoral tactic, which is only a reflection of a profound anti-Leninist influence.
Leninist tactics at this moment, in the conditions of national political reality, can only lead to proposing to elect Mélenchon and have him elected, as the only alternative against the right and the extreme right. These conditions could have become a policy of “Front Uni” or a”support like the rope to the hanged man” tactic if an organization, however small, were to carry out real political work within the grassroots activists who are grouped around this candidacy and who are completely healthy and also completely new to politics.
The organizations that carry it are made up of young activists and opportunists, but also a number of activists who are open to political life and only find what the Mélenchons can offer them.
Those of us who already participate in the campaign to defend our own ideas, and who intervene openly, very often encounter both a very revolutionary and anti-capitalist discourse from the rank and file and an approval of what we propose or of the criticisms we make.
Hasn’t the Chinese Communists been working within the revolutionary (but petty-bourgeois and unstable) Koumingtang? Of course, one has to watch out for reversals à la Tchang-Kai-Shek and Maduro. But if the political bases of our tactical engagement are clear – namely, to work among the masses when they are politically most awake, to strengthen ourselves for the struggle against the right and to withdraw the masses from social-democratic influence – why should we not succeed?
With a directed, planned work, a “step forward” tactic, Mélenchon will get the votes, but we can get the young activists who will open up to our ideas in the best conditions, because it is in struggles, even in electoral struggles, that you check and test the best elements. We could also find a much wider echo for our positions and ideas.
The alternative is to follow the daily grind, to be content with “supporting the struggles” like any anarchist, to pretend that abstention from elections is something other than what it is, pure demoralization, and to refuse to do the work that Lenin advocated when the communists were only small propaganda circles.