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Party Propaganda and Participation in the Workers' Struggles Against the Capitalist Offensive in Italy
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Through the work of its sections and its union and factory groups our party was able to actively intervene in the recent workers' struggles against the Andreotti austerity plan. Our comrades worked in the traditional workers' organisations as well as in the rank and file committees where a proletarian reaction began to express itself against the politics of a class collaboration whose job it is to extinguish any sparks or flames of social unrest. These struggles were, in the end, literally smothered by the unified union confederations, with the left parties (including the CP.) allowing the plan to pass in parliament by abstaining from the vote.
Our newspaper in Italy, Il Programma Comunista, made itself the voice of these magnificent struggles. Here we will limit ourselves to one example, that of the strike of October 28 at Ivrea, which is significant for the reaction of the workers as well as for the activity of our local section which has carried on its work with continuity for years.
The struggle began at the Montefibre plant. This factory employs about 1.600 workers, primarily women. There have been 600 layoffs since 1971 and the great majority of workers have been partially unemployed for 3 years because of a policy of rotation. Only one department (130 workers) works full time. It is from this department - when the workers learned that, like all the workers of the Montedison corporation, they would receive only 40 % of their October wages - that the struggle started.
On October 25, a general meeting of the workers decided to go on strike and hold a demonstration against the wishes of the union bosses. The union delegates arrived to prevent the workers from blocking the railroad tracks, but were obliged to agree to a meeting between the Montefibre strikers and the Olivetti workers. However, they were very careful to only let the Montefibre strikers go as far as the cafeteria, thus preventing a larger contact with the workers there. In the cafeteria, a union official, immediately supported by a member of the Olivetti Factory Committee, mouthed the classical refrain on the necessity of investments and of the reorganisation of Montefibre in order to thwart the manoeuvres of the corporation bosses (the reformists, especially the CP., have been trying to fool the workers with incredible tales that wage demands are «irresponsible» and the workers must ask for investments because these would pretendedly create work and combat inflation). Seizing the microphone, one of our comrades turned the discussion around. The problem, she said, was not limited to one factory, it was common to all: it is a question of the defence of wages, and it concerns the workers already hit by the crisis as well as those who are on the verge of feeling the crushing blow of the austerity plan; the Montefibre strike must become the general strike of the workers and, above all, those of Olivetti!
The atmosphere was charge. Upon the return of the Montefibre strikers, another very large meeting, another intervention of our comrades, another sharp clash with the union bosses, on points involving also the movement for immediate demands at the Standa supermarket. The next day our union group addressed the Olivetti workers through posters and on the 27th distributed a leaflet among their fellow strikers of Montefibre recalling the repeated attacks of the employer against the living and working conditions of the workers and calling on them to organise themselves outside of the limits of factories and trades for the defence of wages, the defence of jobs, and the shortening of the workday with no decrease in wages.
On the 28th, for the four hour regional strike, the unions undertook in advance to move up the hour of the beginning of the strike and to hold the demonstration in the afternoon (instead of the morning as initially fixed) with the evident aim of limiting the participation of the workers as much as possible (the Olivetti workers would effectively be excluded). The demonstration was to leave however from the Montefibre gate. It is here that something occurred which was unforeseen by the unions. While the union bosses, upset by the presence of our union group in full force, did their best to mark time, our comrades urged the most combative elements to march, not in an orderly procession to the union headquarters or in order to «stir up public interest» but to join up with the Olivetti workers and to drive the scabs out of the Olivetti plant. Thus, at the first intersection the march broke into two: on one side the union bosses, the PCI (Italian Communist Party), the PDUP (a small left party), and some workers disoriented by what was happening; on the other side, us, the Montefibre workers, Lotta Continua, the students and half of Avanguardia Operaia.
Our demands were taken up by all: a general strike; complete wages for Montefibre; Olivetti-Montefibre, same fight! Upon arriving at Olivetti there was a demonstration inside the factory and a wholesale expulsion of the scabs, then a meeting. Our comrades drew lessons from the facts pointing out the rupture, even a physical one, which is produced between the combative workers on one hand and the unions and the opportunist parties on the other, and emphasising that it was the tangible manifestation of a class rupture. The occupation of the railroad station, decided unanimously, lasts about an hour; and Lotta Continua finally agrees to get wet, denouncing after us the sabotage of the PCI and of the union confederations.
This episode of working class reaction to a bourgeois offensive was a demonstration of proletarian force which, without the clever manoeuvres of the union bosses, could have become imposing. It showed the possibility of a spontaneous crystallisation of militant working class nuclei around the class demands launched by the party, and of an authentic united front realised in the facts under the leadership - not «negotiated» but realised by «natural selection » - of the only political organisation which remained firmly on course for all these years in the defence of the class principles, the class means, and the class methods against all those who abandoned them and betrayed them. It is through episodes like this - modest in the immediate, but destined to leave a mark and reproducing themselves inevitably on a more vast scale as the crisis deepens - that the independent struggle of the class will retake its difficult but glorious road.
Algeria: No to the Constitution!
Yes to the Class Struggle!
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The following leaflet was distributed by our comrades in regard to the referendum on the Constitution, December 1976.
NO TO THE CONSTITUTION! YES TO THE CLASS STRUGGLE!
Once more, with its great campaign around the Constitution, the Boumediene regime tries to play on a mobilisation of the masses. It does it with a double objective: to assure itself of popular support in the quarrel among the sections of the Algerian bourgeoisie, and to find an outlet for the growing dissatisfaction of the exploited masses.
The Boumediene Constitution rests on enormous lies, and only by means of the material and ideological domination of the bourgeois state through its organisations of political control (the FLN, the mass organisations) and its bodies of repression is it possible for these lies to find an echo within the exploited and downtrodden masses.
While calling itself «socialist», the Constitution recognises the right of property, which supposes a class society. Why in effect would it be necessary to protect, by means of the organised and centralised repression of the state machinery, a right of ownership of whatever
wealth if a non-possessing class did not exist which was to be denied access to this wealth?
The state is presented as an institution in the service of the «people», while in fact it is only the instrument by means of which the ruling classes assure the preservation of exploitation in the name of «socialism» and of Islam. Our brothers and sisters who rise up against the humiliating living conditions which daily oppress them have proof of this Marxist truth, and all those who in their turn will be pushed to raise again the challenge to the bourgeoisie will have to experience it.
The so-called «socialist» state even has an official religion. The hypocritical bourgeoisie, which occupies itself more with its earthly paradise than with «that of tomorrow», only waves the flag of Islam in order to better chain the exploited masses to inter-classist ideology and to better plunge them into the darkness of superstition.
Our emancipation, or even the amelioration of our living and working conditions, does not depend on the establishment of, or the respect for, any Constitution! It depends only on our capacity to defend ourselves against capital - whether it be «private» or «public» - and against all its agents who endeavour to force us to submit to its shackles.
This is why it is indispensable for us to organise ourselves and to struggle against the ruling classes and their state in order to wrist from them:
-Substantial wage increases
-Decrease of working hours
-Wages to unemployed
-A real agrarian revolution
-The right to strike in the public sector
-The right of economic and political organisation
The realisation of these demands will not by itself bring about the liberation of the workers from the capitalist yoke. However the struggle that they demand will constitute a groundwork where it is possible to forge the class force and solidarity through which one day, under the leadership of a true world communist party, the revolutionary emancipation of the proletariat can be realised.
For the constitution of the class party!
For the proletarian revolution and dictatorship!
International Communist Party
Source: «communist program», No. 3, May 1977
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