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A new generation against the cynicism and hypocrisy of “their politics”

Politics of Science and Passion

The Internationalist Youth Day conference was held in Milan on February 1st, in piazza San Babila’s New Theatre. Below we report a synthesis of the conclusions drawn at the conference.

The heightening tensions among the powers of imperialism and exacerbating social contradictions around the world have been two unmistakable facets marking the first two decades of this century. In the last few months social protest has animated the streets and squares of various regions on the world stage, in Latin America, the Middle East, Hong Kong, India and France.

Albeit with their specific features, both protests and demands for better living and working conditions resounded everywhere. Essentially, those streets and squares reconfirm a well-known passage from Marx and Engels’ ManifestoThe modern bourgeois society […] has not done away with class antagonisms confirming that society is more and more splitting up […] into two great classes directly facing each other.

Those streets and squares tell us that the modern bourgeois society has changed enormously since 1848 and now embraces the whole planet. Consequently, the forces of the proletariat have grown, both in the number and concentration of wage earners. In the face of these streets and squares we must choose a side. For some time now we have chosen to side with the wage earners: the worker, the nurse, the shop assistant, the engineer, the dockworker, the clerk, the bricklayer… This is a variegated world, but one that, if united in revolutionary strategy, can, when the conditions of the bourgeois crisis assert themselves, overturn the present relations of production.

One and a half million victims

Weapons – bombs, drones and missiles – have spoken to us in these months of heightening tensions among the powers of imperialism. They have done this on our very threshold, in the Middle Eastern area that has always generated and exported violence… an area rich in oil and gas, the nerve centre of energy flows, where weapons have never fallen silent… an area where whole generations have been born and grown up amid falling bombs and the ruins of warfare and where the price paid by the population has been very high. These are undoubtedly local wars, but in these two decades there have been more than one million victims, almost half of them helpless civilians.

In the same period the wars in Africa have killed half a million, mainly civilians. And then other conflicts: more than 13,000 victims in Ukraine… All in all, in this beginning of the century, official figures estimate more than one and a half million victims in the major conflicts, about 950,000 of them civilians. And these have been twenty years of peace! What do these horrific figures tell us? This mode of production is unable to maintain world order. Capitalism lives in a perennial struggle for the conquest of markets and spheres of influence that fuels the clash among the states… a clash that continually results in local conflicts and has already broken the world order twice, in two world wars with tens of millions of victims.

Imperialism and Marxist Science

In Imperialism, Lenin writes: The enormous growth of industry and the remarkably rapid concentration of production in ever-larger enterprises are one of the most characteristic features of capitalism. Today that characteristic feature is exaggerated: Sinopec, the Chinese petrochemical industry, has 667,000 employees, Volkswagen 642,000, the American General Electric 313,000 and the Korean Samsung 307,000. Capitalism has changed over time and Lenin analysed that change.

For our Marxist school, imperialism is neither an invective nor a policy: it is a scientific definition that characterises a stage in the development of capitalism, its highest stage… the stage in which the concentration of production and capital reaches very high levels and finance capital is fully developed, with capital exports at their height. And with the division of the markets, writes Lenin, there is the complete division of the world among the Great Powers, and they divide it ‘in proportion to capital’, ‘in proportion to strength’. That is imperialism: it is our world of today that needs to be studied in depth in its continual transformation.

China, the new contender

These are the problems dealt with by Arrigo Cervetto in his theoretical and analytical work, an immense body on the verge of publication in its full form by our party. The force that regulates the division of the world, says Lenin, varies with the degree of economic and political development.

And that is why the tensions among the powers have heightened in this new century. A new, great power has fully emerged: China. In its centuries-old development it has reached such a force that it can demand a growing share of the markets and a vaster sphere of influence. The old threatened powers are reacting: the United States and the European Union, but also Japan and Russia… They are resisting, trying to counteract the erosion of their weight and their power. As a result, power relations worsen and tensions, clashes and local wars increase. We have seen the result: more than one and a half million victims in these first twenty years of the century. And who protests about this horrible massacre? How many Fridays for Future have been organised for this multitude of innocent victims?

They turn the other way, pretend nothing has happened and talk about something else. Thus emerges all the hypocrisy and all the cynicism with which the ideas of the ruling class are imbued and which pervade the whole of society. People despair over the koala bears, victims of the wildfires in Australia - for goodness’ sake, poor animals - but nothing is said about what is a real massacre of helpless, innocent, human beings. In essence, that is the price paid by the whole human race for their world contention for the division of markets and the allocation of their spheres of influence. This is why we fight imperialism; these are the reasons for our internationalist battle, to which we need to increase our commitment and which requires new energies.

Hypocrisy and cynicism

The struggle against climate change has become a kind of religion: everyone is worried about it. World powers discuss it at the UN and the establishment deals with it in the Davos forum. Everybody praises the commitment of the young, a Friday every now and then, provided they all return to school tranquilly on Monday. Continual media campaigns about glaciers that are melting, animal species dying out, hurricanes, flowers and plants at risk.

Here, too, hypocrisy and cynicism: their own international organisms, the World Health Organisation and UNICEF, in their accurate publications, tell us that in 2017, even though the infant mortality rates are falling, six million three hundred thousand children below the age of 15 died in the world. The vast majority of them do not reach the age five: every day of in the world 15,000 of them die below that threshold.

These are well-known and available figures. Why does no one protest? Let’s get it quite clear: there are doctors, volunteers and nuns who help those children in Asia and Africa and they have our full respect. But however hard they work, they will never succeed in affecting the deep-rooted causes of those deaths that are the product of the present social system. And then, in comparison with glaciers, forests, plants and animals, we say: first of all, children! What kind of society is this that, in spite of all the progress made by the food industry, medical science and pharmacology, does not succeed in nourishing, in taking care of, its children?

The green Europe of capital

And there’s more: the European Commission has launched a Green New Deal, a big plan with huge investments for a green Europe that will protect both the environment and its borders from immigration. In Austria, the Greens, with a similar programme and in government with the populists, have replaced the xenophobic far right. From Central Europe, many are looking at the Austrian model.

As regards accepting migrants, it is necessary to be vigilant: there are various nuances that conceal hypocrisy and cynicism; the various Captain Fracasses are not the only ones to be faced. Matteo Salvini is undoubtedly a champion a of bourgeois cynicism. For a handful of votes, which he subsequently did not get, he reached the point of getting caught on camera while he was buzzing a Tunisian family, accusing it of drug dealing: a shameful act, indicating a target, mistaken moreover, which instigates lynching, whether moral or material.

1893: the Aigues Mortes massacre

This had already happened to Italians many years before, in France in Aigues a Mortes, a small village in the Camargue, where sea salt was produced from salt flats that are still active today. Some hundreds of Italian workers, most of them seasonal workers recruited by the recruiters of day labourers among the migrant peasants of Northwest Italy as far as Tuscany, were employed in that work. The Compagnie des Salins du Midi did not even know their names: they had a time card with a number and the name of their recruiter. The piecework gathering of the salt, which burnt the skin, accompanied by raging malaria, was a devil of a job.

The election campaign was going on in that August 1893 in France. The reactionary press presented the Italian migrants as delinquents who were stealing work from the French, prone to stabbing and disease carriers, and demanded the defence of the French identity. On August 17th, the totally false news spread that in a brawl les italiens had killed some Frenchmen. Today we would say this was fake news, but even though there were no mobile phones, the news spread rapidly. There was a punitive expedition and ten Italian workers were killed. First Italians, this is true Honourable Salvini, but in the sense that first it happened to Italians: xenophobia is a terrible thing, it is hard to hold it at bay. This is why we fight, every day, against every discrimination, also of citizenship, against those who were born and work here in Italy and in Europe.

Neither votes nor social media

We do not seek votes in our battle: a prospect - the electoral kind - that has been closed for us for a very long time. We are, and we remain, wholeheartedly abstentionists, strategically abstentionists. What we need are not votes, but men and women, militants, young communists totally devoted to our cause for a better society, communism.

We do not seek consensus in a ballot box, hidden behind a curtain in a cabin as we vote, and not We seek even on the social media. consensus among the masses in factories, in workplaces, door to door in the districts with our newspaper in our hands, in schools and universities. We ask for a concrete consensus, in the light of day, for support for our publications, the consensus of subscriptions and of active participation in the work of our clubs, by now entrenched in the European continent. We continue to find that consensus, but in order to face the stormy times of unitary imperialism it is necessary to expand and consolidate it.

Generations of communism

This is a task that is up to the new generations first of all. In January 1982, Cervetto reflected on the entry into the fray of his own generation, at age of twenty, as about the has been the case with the three successive generations of Lotta Comunista. Except that they entered the political struggle in the midst of the imperialist war and the armed struggle, against Nazi-fascism. This passage is in the Quaderni [Notebooks], which form part of the last volume of his Opere [Collected Works]. We let Cervetto speak:

Unaware of the real content of that imperialist war, […] we were little leaves in the impetuous winds blowing over the world. With us or without us the winds would have continued on their way. passion, even if it is a leaf, remains passion. It is part of a man. Directed, it is a powerful political factor. Politics is struggle and not an academic exercise, since no one risks a hair for a mere political hypothesis. Passion alone drives people to risk their necks. In the end those who have more passion will prevail. […] Since then I have devoted my life to giving my passion and that of the generations to come an outlet in political reason, strategy and calculated struggle.

Lotta Comunista, February 2020