Five years' balance and our future tasks, Anti-imperialist Camp / Italy
is the product of a thorough discussion process of the Italian section of the Anti-imperialist
Camp. It tries to draw a balance sheet of the struggles we have conducted in the
last decade as well as the difficulties we have encountered due to the decline
of the radical left which continues unabated. It is attempting to explore way
of access to a new generation which cannot be reached by the historic left. It served as well as a contribution to the International Conference of the Anti-imperialist Camp which took place in Vienna on 2-4 February, 2008. Herewith
the document is submitted to the international debate:
THIRTY-TWO THESES FOR THE RESTART OF THE ANTI-IMPERIALIST CAMP
Orientation and guidelines adopted at the extraordinary meeting of the Anti-imperialist Camp / Italy, May 6th
A STRONG IDEA AND ITS WEAK POINTS
A double collapse
1.The invention of the Anti-Imperialist Camp, which materialized in 2000-2001 after nearly ten years of gestation, turned out to be one of the few right ideas produced by the western revolutionary left after the epoch-making shattering symbolized by the downfall of the USSR. A third perspective, based on a different pattern, substantialized in opposition to the two main tendencies operating in the Nineties. The first and more powerful one implied a wind-up landing in the imperialistic field and stated the ultimate surrender of any revolutionary goal; the second one, on the opposite, considered as untouchable the doctrinal assets of the Communist movement (and was in turn divided into two main trends: the one that urged an immediate reconstruction of the Communists' vanguard party, and the opposite one, that put its trust in the self-sufficient spontaneity of the working class).
2. The main tendency's strong point was its symbiotic realism: acknowledging the deep social, political and cultural changes that had taken place in the West, not only did it come to the conclusion that any irreducible class conflict had disappeared, but it also subscribed to the idea of an eternal capitalism to which you couldn't but adapt, in the belief that any final goal had to be abandoned, and that the only achievable purpose was to give it some ethical regulation. This ended up as the dominant, most widespread tendency, not by accident, but because it actually mirrored the great majority of the by-then decrepit and bourgeoisified workers' movement.
3. The second tendency's strong point was its identitarian symbolism: the disorientation induced by globalization and the puzzlement before the old workers' movement's fundamentalist fury in deleting its historical roots and aspirations produced an opposing and equally fundamentalistic spur, meaning to reassert in a fideistic way the postulate of the innate revolutionary mission of the proletariat (in the capitalistically advanced countries in the first place), and believing that the victory of imperialist capitalism was only momentary and that a new revolutionary crisis was on sight. This tendency was fed by the maladjustment felt by the residual social layers that the capitalist system couldn't absorb or bourgeosify in the years '70 to '80, and even more by parts of the labour aristocracy that were pushed towards incomplete reproletarization by the neoliberist globalization's unstoppable progress.
The third strategy...
4. Compared to those two mainstream tendencies, the Camp's strategical proposal was crucially different. Not only did it acknowledge how the imperialist capitalism's victory was historical; it also stressed how it wasn't to ascribe solely to the collapse of the outer alternative represented by the mummified real socialism systems, but also, and mainly, to the collapse of the inner alternative, represented by the workers' movement and its Communist vanguard, i.e. the creeping structural assimilation of the western working class into the capitalistic imperialistic system. Not only didn't it represent the anti-capitalistic side of the system any more; it had actually become, confirming Che Guevara's intuition, a business partner to the imperialistic bourgeosie and to its policy of pillaging oppressed countries and peoples. There followed two postulates: that, until proved otherwise, the so-called proletariat couldn't be trusted to overthrow the system; and that anti-capitalism essentially survived as anti-imperialism, wich is lively in the areas of the world subjected to the Western pillage. It was represented, to be precise, by the national liberation movements struggling to break away from the imperialistic system whose dominion had become even more exasperating after the downfall of the USSR. So, not only those anti-imperialist liberation struggles would consolidate -- they would become protagonists in the world scene.
5. A shocking event, the Zapatist uprising of 1994, confirmed this point of view, pushing us to transform our intuition into an actual political theorem -- the uprising was even more revealing as it moved in the opposite direction compared to the surrender to imperialism implied in the "Oslo Accords" through which the OLP accepted a losing negotiate with the Zionist entity.
Two chief interpretations were given: critics dismissed it as and obsolete Third Worldist revival, while supporters subscribed to the over-enthusiastic picture painted by Subcomandante Marcos. We opposed them both, stating that the insurrection was, first of all, a diagnosis of globalization which denounced its imperialistic nature, a hiatus announcing and corroborating that the liberist mincing machine had turned the "suburbs" of the system into the main battle front. It was not, therefore, a late re-edition of the old liberation struggles, but the good news that the anti-imperialist struggle was born again under different but equally radical forms. The strategical withdrawal of the revolutionary forces which had started at the end of the Seventies was not at an end, but it had met a historical hairpin bend. A third crucial fact followed this analysis: the role of the Western revolutionary forces, for an entire historical period, couldn't be but an auxiliary role, a supporting role from behind the lines of the most advanced trenches.
6. Our point of view proved right. In the second half of the Nineties, while a deathly social peace reigned in the West, an enormous tide of peoples' struggles, uprisings and revolts violently shook the South of the world, up to the heroic Second Intifada in Palestine.
But the strenght of our thesis didn't lie merely in its analitic realism; it consisted in the fact that it denied that a long world peace was coming, stressing instead that the main trend was towards conflict and war, and pointing out with precision what the main factors of conflict and the forces representing them were. It announced that the auxiliary role of the Anti-capitalists in the imperialist countries was not temporary but long-lasting: it was the North Star of a long walk.
...and its weak points.
7. But this alternative stance had a threefold weakness which explains why we couldn't have had a really substantial growth. It gave a historical meaning again to the anti-capitalistic struggle, but lacked the identitarian escatological power held by the communist revolution. It provided a hope, but a frail one compared to the previous period's dazzling certainty of a socialist future. It offered a strategical answer on how to get out of the impasse, but said answer didn't have the same widespread universalistic effectiveness as the Nineteenth Century's social liberation messages.
[When you say to a Western militant, who grew up with the idea that Europe is a beacon of civilization as well as the everlasting focus point of revolutionary struggle, that this centre no longer exists, putting him on the background, it's like depriving him of his raison d'àªtre. This weakness in our stance will be doubled by the fact that of all the various Resistances, the driving and strongest one will turn out to be the Islamic resistance: driving because of its offensive power, and strong precisely because of its extraordinary identitarian power, which is thouroughly unbearable for the Western revolutionary milieus, imbued to the core with die-hard secularism]
FROM SEATTLE TO BAGHDAD
8. Just at this time, a new protagonist enters the scene, driven by the wave of anti-imperialist peoples' uprisings running through the "Third World": it's the Anti-Globalization or Altermondialist movement. Born in Seattle in 1999, it took roots thanks to the extraordinary days of Genoa in July 2001. This movement had some fundamental inconsistencies that proved it highly unstable: it claimed to be hostile to globalization, but at the same time took over its cosmopolitic aspirations; it was rooted in the heart of the West while showing clear Third-Worldist tendencies; it opposed the conceptions of progress and developement carried by neoliberism as well as the fetish of modernization at all costs, but refused to carry on an anticapitalistic point of view; it experienced a virtuous circle of growth but didn't manage to mobilize the humblest layers of the Western societies, which stood on the sidelines; it was led by Leftist intellectuals but expressed the very decomposition of the Left.
Out of the Social Forums with the Resistances... no ifs or buts
9. We readily understood that we needed not merely to dialogate with this movement, but to take an active part in it in the hope of helping it overcome its limits and its contradictions. We did it by building the Summer Camp of 2000 (which was going, in fact, to be the most crowded of the series) around a slogan which called for a connection between what was born in Seattle and the anti-imperalist liberation movements in the "suburbs". And in fact there was a lot of ground for our ideas, but not only was it occupied by the babel of groups of the revolutionary Left, it was also made uneven by the extraordinary speed of the great apparatuses of the Western imperialistic left in rushing at this movement. These apparatuses, with heavy responsabilities on the part of the many revolutionaries "in search of an author", succeeded in winning the head of the Social Forums in the making (that basically became talk-show mini-parliaments rather than unitary struggle organizations), and imposed to those wanting to join that they subscribe to the unacceptably misleading "refusal of violence on principle". Even though this barrage only had a partial success, it proved that, while there was room for the harmless Western Communist groups, there wasn't any for the fighting libereration movements.
Even though we considered ourselves as part of this movement, we decided not to enter the Social Forums. We reaffirm that it was a correct choice. We tried to oppose the official line by setting up joint organizations of the Anti-Imperialists (also on the line of a previous important experience: the short but heartfelt mobilization against the agression to Yugoslavia and in support of the Serb Resistance). Our choice passed its crucial test in western Genoa, even if this was dimmed by the serious incidents happening at the same time in eastern Genoa. We obviously paid a price for taking a critical and independent position towards the Social Forums. The apparently forceful wave they were riding seemed to confirm Bertinotti's theory that they were the original display of a new anti-capitalistic subject destined to take the place of the old workers' movement. We alone had the courage to affirm that this was a complete cock-and-bull story. Enthusiasm and presumption were indeed destined to dissolve in a flash.
10. Semptember 11th represents a divide for various reasons. First of all, with this attack, the islamic fighting movement proved to have become the toughest customer for the new imperialistic Holy Alliance, the front line of the diversified international anti-imperialist formation. The second reason is that it finally etched into the public imagination the fact that we weren't dealing with an imperialism that was undetermined, supranational or multipolar (as was being claimed by many fashionable futurologists) but quite the opposite: it was a unipolar imperialism in which the Northern American Moloch was strongly determined to assess itself not only as the global policeman of the system, but also to set itself up shamelessly as a super-imperialism, as a universal empire inside which other traditional imperialisms were absorbed as regional sub-imperialisms. Third reason: this event smashed the supposed transoceanic inviolability of the USA, it scarred its presumed invincibility.
11. What was incipient in our analysis couldn't but came to light, fully manifesting itself. We decided to support the islamic liberation movements, and we did so because we agreed that the struggle wasn't any longer directed against the imperialistic system in general, but had to aim directly to its bastion, the United States, and oppose its ancient and yet very modern imperial calling. We claimed that this was the huge stake in the historical period we were passing through: if humanity was to submit to the American yoke, or instead free itself in every way from its tiranny.
The attack to Afghanistan, which was performed a month after September 11th but had been prepared for a long time, and was carried out by the United States, validated by the so-called United Nations, blessed by the Holy Alliance of the capitalistic countries of the world and supported in the end by the European Union, ultimately corroborated that the US were leading an imperial offensive on a global scale, which is indeed going to be rememebered in history as "preventive and enduring war".
12. The Anti-Globalization movement, in which the biggest part of the far left had sinked in a rear position, lacking a courageous analysis of the world situation and even unwilling to call imperialism by its own name, coulnd't but come completely unprepared to this appointment with history -- in addition to its own flaws, it discovered how strong was the hold of the imperialistic left. With the advance of the American war machine in Afghanistan, the refusal of violence on principle, considering their wish not to split up from the insitutional left that had accepted the invasion, resulted in an intermediate and shameful stance of impartiality between imperialist attackers and victims; it changed (for the joy of the many leftists who kept a foot in the Social forums and one in the imperialist institutions) into a battle cry that was ignoble rather than pacifist: "Not with war nor with terrorism"-- a worse version of the slogan "Not with Bush nor with Saddam", adopted by the movement against the first Gulf war -- since by "terrorism" they meant any armed resistance to imperialism.
[It is our duty to mention, in order to confirm the lucidity of our analysis and our huge distance from the pacifist/Anti-Globalization mishmash, what we declared on novemeber 11th 2001, while the invaders, backed up by their stooges, were marching victouriously on Kabul: "The centralness of the Afghan question is unquestionable: a military victory of the Taliban and al-Qaeda would stimulate and stir up the large masses of the oppressed coutries, not only the Islamic ones, making the US supremacy falter and blowing up the great Powers' plans for splitting up the spoils, weakining them and aggravating the conflicts between them.
But this is a highly unlikely victory, considering the size and impressing firepower of the imperialistic coalition, which aims at conquering Kabul in a short time. But this wouldn't be in any way a strategical victory of the allies... A massive attack on Kabul, Kandahar, Herat and Jalalabad would drive the Afghan resistance to a strategic withdrawal in the less accessible zones of the country, carrying out a classical protracted popular war which in the end could, if it doesn't break their bones, at least cause severe losses to the allies and their local stooges."]
13. In the spring of 2002 the Camp took a great step forward, which proved its excellent health: the entry of the Tuscan comrades from the Movement for the Confederation of Communists (Movimento per la Confederazione dei Comunisti). It looked like the start of a virtuous circle, but in fact it was followed by a new split in the Italian Anti-Imperialist movement. In the fall of 2002 in Florence, while America was fervently preparing its attack to Iraq, and while the European Social Forum, on the sly, was changing the Anti-Globalization movement's features to convert it into an Anti-War movement; while we were the only ones, in Italy at least, to point out the gravity of the Patriot Act and to mobilitate against the American Black Lists, the Anti-Imperialist Assembly, that is, the national coordination born in the spring of the previous year while the Anti-g8 days were approaching, and to the holding of which we dedicated so much resources, was split between us and its majority. It is important to stress the two points we made which were curtly rejected by the majority. Since the Islamic combatent movements (including the Taliban) were the main actors of the Anti-Imperialist struggle, and since the various Resistances went through an increasing islamization (including the Palestinian one -- see Hamas), those movements had to be supported too, instead of just the traditional leftist ones. We were answered that it was unacceptable to be on the same side with "religious movements" which were going to set up "islamic Republics" if they won. This was the clear display of a serious infective pathology: that identitarian worries were being put ahead not only of political ones, but also of any ethical consideration. Our second proposal (those were the months in which the attack to Iraq was being prepared and we needed to compete with the pacifists in the great Anti-War movement that was coming up) was to make a step ahead for the unity of the Anti-Imperialists, turning the Assembly, from a fragile tactical coordination as it was, into a more solid and unified structure, one posessing a central direction and a shared discipline. A curt "no" was the answer.
Just right before the American attack to Iraq, while a great mass mobilization was brewing and while the Camp was increasing its international contacts and support, in Italy we were finding ourselves disappointingly isolated.
[This split was also due -- and do not take this as an overstatement -- to serious disagreements on what imperialism had become. While, as far as our critics were concernced, everything had already been said by Lenin and it was enough to keep to a repetition of the tactics carried out or theoryzed by the Communist parties of the time, we pointed out the new peculiarities of the imperialistic system: "The point is that imperialism is, like never before, the ultimate basis on which to judge the nature of parties or alliances and the political and social system as a whole. Imperialism, compared to Lenin's times, isn't just a policy of conquest and plunder of the peripheral zone by the capitalist oligarchies. It has become an actual social form, characterized by the preminence of factors of agreement over factors of conflict, factors of compromise over factors of division, between the two main classes"]
ACHIEVEMENTS AND MISTAKES OF FIVE EXTRAORDINARY YEARS
14. In this scenery we orientated our action following two directions which were going to become central in the years to come. We decided (following the resolutions taken at the Assisi Camp of august 2002) to join the Anti-War movement, keeping to the support to the guerrilla resistance (which we thought of as a certainty after the inevitable fall of the Saddam Hussein regime) as the central axis of our action. It was an intuition of exceptional importance. While the others groped their way forward, running after the emotional wave caused by America's escalation and their boast of having achieved an easy victory, we looked ahead, knowing that a new Resistance would have risen, giving hard work to the occupants and becoming a powerful catalyst for the international Anti-Imperialist struggle. Though penalized by the division in the Anti-Imperialist area, we did everything we could to come prepared to the mass mobilizations against the attack to Iraq in the spring of 2003. Not only did we set ourselves apart from the Pacifist muddle-headedness, but we also put forward some sharp and unmistakable political proposals and ideas: Iraq's right to self-defence against the agression; the forecast that America's victory was a Pyrrhic victory and USA were soon going to smash their heads against a tenacious popular guerrilla resistance; finally we held the banner of a radical Anti-Americanism, based on the knowledge that we had by this time actually entered a new imperialistic World War, inside which the Clash of Civilizations was not a mere ideological tinsel, but a substantial theme which mirrored an outlook on the world shared by great part of the public opinion as well as the Neo-Con imperialistic circles.
Legittima Difesa and Anti-Americanism
15. Trying to avoid narrow-viewed grass-rootism and to give impetus and depth to the Anti-War wave, we decided to build a wider political-cultural movement to go alongside the Camp's Anti-imperialist struggle: an anti-american movement. This decision was parallel to the Camp's struggle, and also deeply connected to it. Of these two choices, only the first one gave good results, even though the second one's failure affected it in a negative way.
First of all, we had to gain some ground and get out of isolation. In this effort we counted very much on the success of the anti-americanist movement (and for a period we even took precious energies away from the Camp). The good feedback obtained by the Peoples Smash America appeal nurtured our hope, which rested on three main pillars: that traditional anti-american feelings were destined to grow and strenghten; that those feelings were looking for political representation; and that, seen as the majority of left-wing activists were in a daze, the new movement would have brought in new subjectivities, not worn by political militance and free from harmless identitarian fetishes. It was in short a try to exit the area from which we came and sail in open seas to intercept what we saw as a new wave that would have thrown new forces into the political struggle.
The founding assembly of the movement (Legittima Difesa - "Legitimate Defence") took place on Genuary 2005, after more than a year's gestation, and, looking back, it already showed that our hope was illusory.
Anti-Americanism wasn't growing with the expected force, but, more importantly, it stopped at the stage of simple anti-american outrage, while the refusal of the weltanshauung represented by Americanism didn't develop in a significant way. Instead this weltanshauung was being introjected, though in confused and contradictory forms, even by the social areas feeling this anti-american outrage.
The latter, per se inadequate and inconsistent, was unable to act against the mounting racist and anti-islamic feelings, and to see the totally subordinate role of the imperialistic left. It turned out to be unable to express a request for autonomous representation.
There were two other obstructive factors. The first one and the deepest was a general mistrust for the party form. The second one was the introjection of Americanism that, on a level at least, had actually overcome old democratic fences and deeply influenced the masses: we are talking of the subscription to bipolarism, i.e. to the principle that governance comes ahead of everything -- a fact that sealed the passive and discomforted acceptation, on the people's part, that there was no plausible alternative to this system and that its laws were untouchable.
16. So was the Anti-Americanist proposal wrong? No, but it was at least imperfect, not elaborated enough. And it was also launched too early into the political struggle. Everey correct political intuition, to make way, has got to be launched at the right time, in the right forms, and to count upon a consistent hitting force. In military terms, it was a premature offensive rush, in which the vanguard found itself too far from the rear, so that when the enemy offensive came, the whole army was defeated.
We also made mistakes about the method. Some intellectuals with a past in the extreme right, who sincerely wished to join us, participated to the dialogue on our mailing list "Antiamericanisti". Although that was right on principle, it turned out to be a boomerang.
Even though it was objectively a secondary matter, their presence ended up looking like a distinctive trait of our project, and became the main pretext to unleash upon us the more massive campaign of slander and character killing that was ever seen.
[If a small group of former enemies joins a new political mass movement, this can't be considered by its enemies as a union against nature or a genetical hybrid. Since this happened in the founding phase, with extremely limited forces, the heterogenous enemy front was easily able to create a scandal, openly meaning not only to squash the Anti-Americanist movement at his birth but to annihilate the Camp.]
Even if it was an error to provide our enemies (the imperialistic state and almost all of the left) with an excuse to team up with each other and attack us -- it is an elementary principle in war that, when confronted with weak forces, one mustn't accept a confrontation on two fronts and must instead try and sow discord between them -- we maintain that the idea of a popular movement that would have been born from the transversal union of people who were in a collision course with both bipolarist blocs was essentially right. We saw the first, faint signs with the Scanzano movement, the anti-TAV struggle, and most of all in Vicenza -- even if they didn't produce noticeable forms of political subjectivity.
At this stage of balance and historical reconstruction, we believe that the reason of the tactical error we have underlined (i.e. finding ourselves fighting on two fronts at the sime time) is to be found in the underestimation of the role we were objectively playing. In the summer of 2003 we still weren't clear that we were soon going to find ourselves at the centre of a powerful mediatic offensive of repression and criminalization.
[It is noteworthy that this offensive of persecution and annihilation started as soon as we decided to accept the group Socialismo e Liberazione, better known as "comunitarista", into our organization. Their entry -- which, besides, we publicly announced before it even became effective, and which we accepted after a careful research of these comrades' autocritical pathway -- did not change in any way our features, but it was used to trigger the witch-hunt, to boycott us as an "infected" movement, if not plainly fascist, "Red-Brown". As they say, it all adds up!]
17. In the meantime (it was September 2003), while the Anti-War movement, after the first cannon-shots, was already sinking, we held a very important Camp in Assisi. Its importance was due both the fact that the birth of the Iraq Resistance confirmed our predictions in an exemplary way; and to the two caimpaigns it launched: one named "Ten Euros for the Iraqi Resistance", the other one for a "National demonstration in support of the resisting Iraqi people".
This wasn't missed by the imperialist disinformation and repression headquarters, which, as we have learned at our expense, always go together. After a few days, Zionist websites and American Neocons attacked us, setting up against us the joint troops of the national and international media, and the security apparatuses, not just Italian. One month after the Camp, the two campaigns we launched were on the first pages of the main newspapers and researched by some TV channels, in order to hold us up to ridicule as supporters of terrorism or even as outstanding members of a "Qaedist plot". Moreover, they took up and shamelessly amplified the contemporary persecution campaign which was born in the left wing and stated we were "Red-Brown", or rather the pivot of an international Nazi-Islamic-Communist alliance.
All of our courage and the crucial help of our most sincere allies was needed for the Dec. 13 demonstration, "With the resisting Iraqi people", to be held and obtain a significant success -- we can't forget that the leaderships of CGIL, PRC, DS and most of the extreme left publicly forbid their members to join it. This white-hot offensive, which came after the attack to the Italian military camp in Nasiriyya, managed to block the subscription campaign in favour of the Iraqi Resistance, thanks to the fact that many whose heart was on our side, and on the side of the Resistance, were basically scared away. They smelled an oncoming repressive attack, and they were right. Indeed, the attack came, inexorably, on April 1st 2004, as three of our leaders were arrested, with the charge of being "international terrorists". The arrest was prepared by escalating the slander campaign, which was fueled by the Berlusconi government and newspapers like Corriere and Repubblica, and was also backed by a plethora of groups and mini-groups of the ultra-left that went as far as producing lousy "counter-informative" dossiers about us, which were noisily taken up by the website Indymedia.
From the siege to the advance
18. The counter-offensive we held was exemplary. Important as it was in taking the comrades out of prison, its main importance lay in the fact that initiative was back in our hands and allowed us to retort to the two complementary campaigns of moral harassment and cop-like criminalization. The attempt at eliminating us was overturned into a tactical success for us: we broke the siege, as indicated by the Assisi Camp of 2004 and the fact that the campaign for the Iraqi Resistance not only did not weaken, but rather strenghtened and widened. The agression that came from every side could have smashed us; instead not only do we still exist (and this fact only has brought us significant respect and credit), but our main ideas went a long way. We now represent a political tradition, a touchstone in the political scenery. I.e., we have become a subject one must take into account, even when we don't take actually part in the debate, when we hover like ghosts, when the unlikely ostracism persists.
What our biggest political and symbolic victory was is clear: we managed to contradict the identification between resistance and terrorism; we were instrumental in ensuring that the principle of the rightfulness of the Iraqi Resistance had a full right of citizenship in the political scenery, in allowing this right to become common sense. We couldn't explain in any other way the reason why those who, at first, hesitated in an opportunistic way are now compelled to declare their support not only to the Iraqi Resistance but also to the Islamic resistances, like the Afghan one. This victory is all the more significant since it happened in spite of the powerful mediatic imperialistic offensive, which put the Resistance in a very bad light, accusing it to be the cause of the fratricidal sectarian struggle, and in spite of the errors made by the Resistance itself. We make no overstatement in saying that we have played a crucial role that history will recognize.
The success of the Chianciano Conference, even though it did not produce the maximum result we expected, sealed this victory. So Chianciano closed a period in our struggle and opened a new one. Let's see its nature and how to face it.
19. This overall political progress (that even our most ostinated enemies are forced to acknowledge) explains the other reasons of our success: we are alive and well and we have been able to make significant steps on the international ground. Notwithstanding the small number of out militant forces, the quantity and quality of our international contacts increased, first of all with the very movements and Resistances which fight in the most crucial places, but also in Europe and in the U.S. This does not represent a mere encouragement but rather an actual treasure, accumulated with hard work and destined to bring us new consistent results. Chianciano showed how much the goal of an international Anti-Imperialist front, i.e. the main reason why we were born, is a hard and daring one. It is indeed a strategical goal, which must remain the North Star that we aren't allowed to lose for any reason.
State of emergency and resurgence
20. The successes that allowed us to break the siege didn't change the fact that we remained in a continuing and unpleasant state of emergency. Along with the achievements we have to mention the failures. We were indeed seriously damaged by the blows and the siege we had to face in 2003-2004, which as well as preventing us from recruiting new significant forces from the ephemeral swollen river of the Anti-War mobilizations, also caused a dangerous loss of both militants and leaders. The people who left in those five years apparently did so for different reasons, but it is not hard to see a shared underlying cause: the unsustainable weight of factors such as ostracism from the Left, and the criminalization and isolation that followed. The siege was giving its poisonous fruits.
These losses, which were worsened by the lack of an adequate turn-over, loaded on a few comrades' shoulders, for five years in a row, duties and weights that earlier on could be better distributed and thus better sustained. In the long run this couldn't but produce stress and cause a poor working that almost became a structural collapse of our organization (this was clearly showed when two of our leaders came close to resigning as Chianciano neared). The success that the Berlusconi-Fini government and the Americans obtained in preventing the due Chianciano Conference from taking place, momentarily frustrating our great efforts, represented another severe blow because it contributed to strenghten the feeling that the struggle for the Resistance itself was doomed to fail. Few of us were able to see far ahead without loosing their bearings. Indeed there happened some splits between us, and some fellow-travellers drew away.
This setback protracted the restless state of emergency in which we had found ourselves after April 2003, and which had in turn caused an exceptional regime, characterized by extreme centralization in decisions and less frequent moments of collective debate and analysis. We acknowledge these mistakes, as well as we admit that, if not all of them, some could have been avoided; but this does not change the fact that the siege and the following state of emergency were really there and were clearly not born from a paranoia of ours.
21. If we add the great fall of social protests and movements, which aggravated after the spring of 2006 with the rise to power of a center-left government, we can better understand why some our initiatives didn't get the feedback and the success we hoped, which in turn contributed to worsen a creeping sense of disillusion. We are not searching for an alibis when say that before so powerful a recoil and a muteness of anti-capitalism, no initiative is well-guessed enough, and even the more brilliant ones can prove unsuccessful, disappointing or ruinous and therefore not bring the necessary results.
However, at a more attentive glance, these mistakes were rooted into deeper causes. They were rooted into the federalist-pluralist organizational structure on one hand, and on the other hand into the method we gave ourselves in 2002 of pursuing aggregation and a political front; both proved unadequate to the events and the ecceptional situation in which we found ourselves from 2003 on.
Political front illusions
22. The entry of MpCC in the Italian section of the Anti-Imperialist Camp, which happened in the spring of 2002, as it strenghtend in a meaningful way the Camp itself, was perceived, as we were saying, as the signal for the start of a virtuous circle of consecutive aggregations which would have turned the Camp, from group of hardcore Anti-Imperialists, to a much wider federative movement. This is showed by the Italian section Statute, which was adopted in the summer of that year. In the following years, the exceptionality of which we have already mentioned, it became clear that this entry was instead a basically isolated fact which did not open the way to the entry of other militant groups -- not even collectives or associations only active on a local level.
As we were deluding ourselves that a quick development of an aggregative and plural kind was on its way, we hastily abandoned the nucleus-like model. This led to a series of mistakes, concerning both regulations and practical approach.
Glancing back, the paradox is striking: while we were acting as an "in pectore" political front, all the campaigns we were bravely compelled to launch squeezed us into the shape of a subject with a clear nucleus-like profile. We hoped to co-determine while we were striving to self-determination. While we saw ourselves as a union we were perceived, instead, as an overall political subject. We now know that, in conditions of aggressive competition (accentuated and worsend by the campaign of moral persecution and criminalizaton) such a subject is not judged from its relational aims, but rather from the battles it leads, from the ideas it bears -- to which the former are subordinated -- and those were diriment, not unifying.
Having set unity as a priority made us seriously confused, since the circumstances, notwithstanding the existance of great mass movements, made the conflictual factors prevail, and we were engaged in a fight for life or death. The hope that the evidence of facts or the strenght of obective events would have swiped away all subjective obstacles or merged pre-existing organizations turned ou to be an illusion as well.
[The so-called facts, indeed, do not have any veritative power for themselves: it is the jugding subject who decides, so truth isn't something neutral but, rather, depends on the visual angle of the observer, on his outlook on the world, on his schemes and criteria of judgement which are already set at the moment of his evaluation]
Instead of following fantasies of wide political fronts and dream of great numbers, we should have concentrated on everyone we have approached along the years, one by one. Instead of pursuing a geometrical growth we should have minded the arithmetical one. It so happened that avoiding to commit to individual recruitment with a systematic and individualizing activity of education and organization prohibited us from achieving a growth that, limited as it might have been, would have brought us a minimum turn-over, compensating the loss of militants we have undergone.
TURNING OVER A NEW LEAF
Beyond the movements
23. The extraordinary merits of the leading group that guided us through the stormy and menacing five years we are now leaving behind do not lessen some of its specific responsabilities in not managing to face the crisis in due time. Only in September 2006, during the Polvese island meeting, the leadership finally decided to take the bull by its horns, to call the crisis by its true name; but it did so in an inconsequent and partial way, not renouncing, as it should have done, to subordinate activism to introspective analysis and self-criticism, and it did so mistakenly believing that outward political praxis was the better way to recover from illness -- which is like saying that you can repair a car that doesn't work simply by making it run faster. Proof being that we were barely out of the Polvese island meeting when we throwed ourselves with all our might into preparing the national demonstration of September 30th, which absorbed a great part of our attention and caused a de facto freeze in the reflection about the crisis.
We must therefore widen the leadership, open it to those whom in the last period didn't lose their bearings, showing ability to hold on and faith in our mission. This renewal however is not enough. What we need is to define a general orientation which takes into account the situation we are living in and its overall peculiarities, and which will be able to show precisely what our political function is and the corresponding operative methods.
24. The general situation we are living in the West did not get better in respect with the one that brought us to define the strong ideas we were born upon. We still are in the stage we described as one of strategical withdrawal, still pressed upon by the global advance of the revanchist boost of imperialism.
The neo-liberist globalization, in its forward movement, didn't produce in the West any social polarization into antagonist classes, nor any new leading and combative vanguard, nor any awareness or consciousness which could even barely define as revolutionary, nor any multitudinary anti-capitalistic exodus as Toni Negri was maundering. Consciousness in the last ten years diminished and withered instead.
The movements we have experienced, as big as they were, did not affect this historical trend in the least. We are indeed facing the oxymoron of movements in a constitutive cataleptic state. There is no longer a causal relationship between formal radicality in the struggle and significant development of a revolutionary consciousness. They limit themselves to an incomplete objection to the status quo; it looks like they are reformist on their own account, without needing bourgeois burocrats at their head. They generate leaders who turn into politicoes with no middle stage. It took a couple of generations to corrupt the old socialdemocracies first and then the communists; now a few years are enough to get the same result. Those who rely on these movements, those who, being prisoners of old Spontaneist schemes, see them as the antidote to the bourgeois politics, will come unstuck. There must be a reason why those movements fall prey to the pervasive and tentacular hegemonic power of the system! The tragicity of this assimilation shows itselfs in brutal forms precisely in the condition of nihilistic indifference towards the destiny of mankind which chokes great part of the new generations. Even when parts of them rise up (see the banlieues insurgency in France), they do not ask for any political revolutionary representation. As radical as their forms of expression may be, this appearance hides a vacuum, if not even the request of being incorporated as a community into the system itself. A communitarism which, since it dismisses any different outlook on the world, any universalism, may be rebellious, but it does not aim at overthrowing the social order at all.
Only increasingly small and heterogenous minorities defy this trend.
25. But mind you! These minorities mustn't be considered in the old way, as vanguards, i.e. as the advanced detachments of a much wider anti-capitalist front or social bloc. In an atomized, ravelled and blurry situtation, where the hegemonic thought is that this is the best of all possible worlds and every try to give History a meaning is a pointless and absurd pretension, these minorities are made up of momentary aggregations, heterogenous on a cultural and sociological level, which form and gather in a way that is impromptu, unpredictable and always defensive and partial -- hence the myth of the web-like organizing method. Therefore we cannot think to interact with them in the usual way, i.e. thinking of ourselves as the vanguard of the vanguard, believing these minorities to be the lever to get to the heart of the masses and drag them into the conflict.
As the present conditions of global strenght and pervasive hegemony of the system are, and considering the irreversible collapse of the old workers' movement and the social bloc it represented, those movements alone will not create a new historical anti-capitalistic bloc, nor a rebirth of revolutionary consciousness, until capitalism undergoes a general downfall.
[the mistake of the followers of the Downfall theory doesn't lie in considering a downfall of capitalism as the necessary precondition of revolution. Indeed a general downfall of the system is needed for the masses to get over their illusions and break into the scene, and it is true that these two conditions create the premises that can transform the need for a radical political and social turn into an actual historical possibility. Their double mistake lies in seeing the downfall as the mechanical result of steely echonomical laws and in thinking of a communist outcome as the only possible one, not taking into account a possible mass reactionary movement -- see the coming of Fascism].
26. With the proletarian class as a united and independent community missing, once disappeared the request for an autonomous political representation, lacking a social bloc alternative to the bourgeois one, in a political scenery characterized by a trend to americanization and bipolarism (i.e. the existance of a single gigantic political bloc divided into two complementary poles, both capitalistic), considering ourselves as a vanguard becomes ludicrous. Vanguard of whom? We aren't the most advanced detachment, with our without a representation mandate, of a front or a social bloc. We in our turn are one of the resisting minorities, saboteurs behind enemy lines. More accurately, a creative minority which is isolated not just as the bringer of a radically different message, but mostly because it acts, in this situation of clash of civilizations, not as a peace messenger, but rather as a messenger of the aspirations of the resisting people, i.e. the civilizations to which the West has declared its ostracism. We are therefore more similar to sowers of ideas in an impervious ground than to pilots leading a front flying towards a bright and ineluctable future. We are like the first Christians who preached in a hostile zone rather than parish priests. Our main deed in the bowels of imperialism is to persuade the more sensitive persons, to de-imperialize the masses; not to try and place ourselves at their head everytime they make some fuss. You can't do the latter without the former. Until the system implodes we won't be able to put ourselves at the head of anything, except for the initiatives and the movements we will be able to stimulate by ourselves. The last shall be first: only those who will be able to stay at the rear of today's multiform and americanized parades, or even not to go at all, will be at the head of those coming in the next decades.
This brings implications in our way of living and acting (which are hybrid, i.e. still too permeated of past models), in our organizative structure and in the choice of our leaders.
27. We must resemble a political community rather than a group. We must get rid of this burden that we inherited from the Anti-Stalinian communist currents of the '900, not in order to adopt the short-lived newfangled boosts, but rather to rediscover the oldest forms that moulded the proletarian movement, and before it, the various subversive outbreaks of the oppressed.
[We must therefore know that as long as today's obnubilating consumistic wealth lasts, we will live at the borders of official political life, resisting in a hostile environment which will experience states of siege and moments of stillness in turns, always under the threat of ostracism from the so-called civil society, always with the gun of slander pointed at our heads. It is not the first time a generation is called to sacrifice itself in order to pass on to the next one the weapons of liberation. It is from this point of view that we must understand the crucial importance of identity. There can exist no community without a powerful identity. The criticism to old Communist groups that respond with identitarian hostility to political Islam should not be misunderstood. Our criticism is not, as we have seen, only a criticism of methods, it is a criticism of substance, because the Marxist identity is worn out, ambigous and powerless, since Marxism, with its myth of modernity and progress, ended up being not only corresponsible for today's trend, but taken up by bourgeois liberalism, and they will die together if Marxism isn't born again in radically new forms. Since we see the destruction of imperialism as the first historical stage of Anti-Capitalist liberation; considering that we have a paradigm, an analysis and a strategy that proved effectual; as we, here in the West, put ourselves on the line for the victory of the fighting resistances; we have the only revolutionary identity which is possible and spendable today, and we must make it an indestructible pillar of our being].
Example is worth more than a thousand words.
There are basically two kinds of examples: those in the fashion of an epiphanical representation, i.e. liturgical actions conceived as spectacular situations which enter the public imagination and must rely on the media to communicate with wider layers of the public opinion; the diametrically opposed form is the one we call of substantial testimony, which doesn't use any play-acting or scenery but appears naked in its radical but true essentiality. Using the first method alone does not produce solid results any longer, it doesn't dig deep enough, its effects are transitory, destined to be devoured and evacuated by the "public imagination" itself, which is forever asking for virtual excitement while it basically remains passive and blank. The second method is more tiresome and slow because it does not seek a platform but it rather needs to meet with men and women's heart and reason, and therefore needs a physical, frontal, direct contact. It means in the first place that we have to show ourselves to people not as separate individuals, as monads, but as a collective, as a movement which is both a political subject and a solidarious community, in which the burden and the sacrifice of deeming the liberation message as crucial are lived and conveyed not as a sad and gloomy monologue, but rather as a proposal of life, as a strict but joyful moral coherence. In these times when egotism and a gloomily nihilist way of life prevail, only a cheerful selflessness will be able to become contagious.
28. We aren't thinking at all of an esoterical sect, which chooses to lock itself up in an ivory tower. We are thinking of a politically combatant community which wants to overcome the old distinction between theory and praxis, politics and life, propaganda and action. We are thinking, for example, of founding an Anti-Imperialist voluntary association (unlike the so-called ONG which survive by intriguing with the system and are collateral bodies of the imperialistic war of civilizations) which can give us the opportunity to practice in a factual and exemplar way our brotherhood with the oppressed peoples. In order to avoid any confusion with Catholic humanitarianism (which is however as alive and well as ever, not by accident) we will organize, in opposition to the imperialist war missions, solidarity missions with the people who fight for their emancipation. Unkile the Christian ones, ours won't be evangelist missions: Christian love the oppressed only when they stay on their knees bearing the yoke of the oppressors, we, on the contrary, love those who dare to rise their heads. We won't go to evangelize but most of all to help those who suffer but fight, to purge ourselves, to be teached by the oppressed but fighting communities, in order to change, to improve, and thus to grow stronger and make our political battle here in the West more steady and effective. Therefore it won't be an exodus but a way to meet reality, a journey with a return ticket, because we aren't desertors and our fighting post is here, where we must show the world that we are able to leave a lasting sign, to throw seeds which other generations, if not us, will harvest.
29. Even though the latter will be the pillar of our activity from now on, we certainly won't throw to the wind the experience we acquired in those years as far as the method and features of our propaganda are concerned. For example we must, in order to spread our political ideas and win consensus, improve our ability to use the web (including its technological devices and protocols) an make an effort as far as language is concerned, because ours must purge itseld from old junk, not in the least to run after the fashionable and empty newfangledness, but rather to restore words and notions that are deeper, fuller and therefore even older.
30. This change in our way of living and acting won't be without pain because it implies that we must get over important aspects of both the mentality and the praxis we inherited from the workers' movement. In its constituing period it maintained decisive traits that were borrowed from very old religious traditions. Indeed the political praxis kept, in a secularized way, the two topical moments of Christian customs: the catechistical one and the liturgical one. The catechistical one, more esoterical, was a minutious activity, mostly on an individual level, of propaganda; the spread of one's ideas in order to proselytize. The liturgical one, exoterical, consisted into two main rituals: the gathering of the members of the community around their leader, and the public display of these communities to the rest of the society. Public ceremonies lost their magical-religious aspect but they didn't become less solemn for this. The public liturgical moment was essential as the conclusive and crucial moment of every activity previously carried out.
The great revolutionary earthquakes eliminated only temporarily this distinction between the catechistical and liturgical aspects. Once the storm passed, if the dominating classes, after drowning the insurgents in a bloodbath, didn't set up their dictatorship, the workers' movement would come back to its usual praxis.
In Italy even more than in other places of the West, with yet stronger reason, considering the gradual bourgeosification and insitutionalization of the old worker's movement, the great public gatherings and the protest marchs became the priority to which the lefts subordinated everything else. As decades passed, considering the loss of subjective forces and the decline of the grass-roots struggles, the catechistical stage of preparation and proselytism disappeared and was replaced by the second moment alone, which became a meaningless ritual: the procession, the march. Being the heirs of this history, we as well exagerated the importance of the parades, the marchs, the public initiatives. This exageration became an actual pathological deviancy, which we must get rid of. We must finally understand that, inside the strategical drawback, and considering our modest forces, it is masochistic to persist in considering the exhibition of our weakness in the parades as crucial; whereas the priority is recruiting, acquiring new forces to widen the building-yard and therefore reinforce the building.
The crucial test of the correctness of our political praxis does not lie in counting how many people are willing to carry our flags in a march, but rather how many men and women become convinced of our ideas and put themselves actually at the service of the cause. However, thinking of obtaining a Leninist-type militance from everyone who will be willing to walk at our side "bearing the cross and singing", would be a mistake. Only a small part will accept such a self-sacrifice. These militants will deserve to be our leaders, whom, far from sulking at the other activists, will have to educate them with modesty, lead them with patience and activise them in a clever way.
[what we are saying here is not be understood as gradualism, as a consent to the idea that actions must always be distributed in omeopathic doses. We don't see compatibility with the system as a strait-jacket, an we recognize that violation of juridical norms and police dictates is sometimes necessary in non-revolutionary stages as well. It can happen that the circumstances force the Anti-Capitalists to carry on struggle actions that defy the strenght of the State and its repressive blackmail. They will do so if they decide that such actions, dangerous as they may be, are necessary, exemplary, that they give us the chance to talk to millions and break into their conscience.]
31. We must carry on another transformation in our activity. To keep the religious metaphor, at a certain point in Christian history, after centuries of prolification of various churches often in opposition to one another, Ecumenism arised, that is, the trend to unite what time had broken apart and recover the shared spiritual themes of the different sects. Ecumenism, i.e. the effort to unite different currents, must remain a constant in our political praxis. The international Anti-Imperialist front isn't merely a strategical aim, it is our North Star. We are obviously talking about unity between similar forces, between currents and subjects which see Anti-Imperialism as a question of principle and therefore as crucial in their political praxis. We don't delude ourselves that it will be easy, as our experience makes it clear that it won't. In the terrible last five years we have however established strong relationships with other groups and persons, and reinforced old relationships. The fact that these relationships held in the middle of the storm, that thanks to this brotherhood setting up the Chianciano Conference was possible, this makes us hopeful. We can and we must start a patient dialogue with these comrades and propose them to group together in an Anti-Imperialist Resistance Movement that can be, act and work not merely as a tactical coordination to carry on some march from time to time but as long-lasting subject with the task of being the main drive and organizer of initiatives, campaigns and actions. Therefore it mustn't merely act as a front to carry on exemplary actions but as main national pole of the Anti-Imperialists. Summing up weaknesses doesn't build up an influential force. If we manage to build this unity, this fact alone will represent a stong signal bearing good fruits.
This implies two essential things. The first one: a partial but substantial surrender of sovereignty from each one of its costitutive parts. The second one, which is contained in these theses: the renewal of the Camp, of its regime and its political praxis, because no Anti-Imperialist alliance can rise in Italy without a Camp that is regenerated, strong and unified. Sometimes a few must take a step back to allow many to take two steps forward.
32. To adopt this new orientation implies some changes in the structure and regime of the Camp as well. The Statute, as it is totally inadequate, must be temporarily suspended, until the new executive commitee formulates a new one to submit to the next National Meeting, which must take place before the end of 2007.
In this phase of vacancy the excutive committee will take its decisions on the grounds of the general guidelines of this document, that is, experimenting an inner regime that surpasses both the federalist structure and the excessive horizontality. A wider and more influential national executive committee will give life to two national operational groups (Anti-Imperialist voluntary work and Propaganda) onto which it will co-opt the members of the Camp it will deem necessary. The relationships with the other groups to verify the feasibility of the Anti-Imperialist Resistance Movement and their prospective willingness, as well as the prospective consituent pathway, are referred to the committee itself.