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Collected Works .pdf

Original filename: Collected Works.pdf
Title: The Amadeo Bordiga Collection
Author: Aidan

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The Amadeo Bordiga Collection

The Balkan War (1912)
Is This the Time to Form “Soviets”? (1919)
The System of Communist Representation (1919)
Letters to the Third International (1919)
Socialism and Anarchy (1919)
Socialists and Anarchists (1920)
Towards the Establishment of Workers’ Councils in Italy (1920)
Theses of the Abstentionist Communist Fraction of the Italian
Socialist Party (1920)
Bolshevism Defamed by the Anarchists (1920)
Seize Power or Seize the Factory? (1920)
Party and Class (1921)
Party and Class Action (1921)
The Democratic Principle (1922)
Report on Fascism to the Third International (1922)
Communist Organization and Discipline (1924)
Report on Fascism to the Third International (1924)
The Trotsky Question (1925)
Intervention at the 6th ECCI of the Third International (1926)
Correspondence Between Bordiga and Trotsky (1926)
Letter from Amadeo Bordiga to Karl Korsch (1926)

The Lyons Theses (1926)
The Fundamentals of a Marxist Orientation (1946)
Force, Violence, and Dictatorship in the Class Struggle (1946)
The Revolutionary Workers Movement and the Agrarian Question
Appeal for the International Reorganization of the Revolutionary
Marxist Movement (Incomplete translation) (1949)
Class Struggle and the “Bosses’ Offensive” (1949)
On the Dialectical Method (1950)
The Filling and Bursting of Bourgeois Civilization (1951)
Proletarian Dictatorship and Class Party (1951)
Theory and Action in Marxist Doctrine (1951)
Doctrine of the Body Possessed by the Devil (1951)
Characteristic Theses of the Party (1951)
Fundamental Theses of the Party (1951)
Murder of the Dead (1951)
The Human Species and the Earth’s Crust (1952)
The Historical “Invariance” of Marxism (1952)
Marxism of the Stammerers (1952)
Straightening the Dog’s Legs (1952)
The Immediate Program of the Revolution (1953)

The Factors of Race and Nation in Marxist Theory (1953)
The Spirit of Horse-power (1953)
The Guignol in History (1953)
Lessons of the Counter-Revolutions (1953)
The Anti-Capitalist Revolution in the West (1953)
Weird and Wonderful Tales of Modern Social Decadence (1956)
The Revolutionary Program of Communist Society Eliminates All
Forms of Ownership of Land, the Instruments of Production and
the Products of Labor (1957)
Mao’s China, Certified Copy of the Bourgeois Capitalist Society
The Fundamentals of Revolutionary Communism (1957)
The Legend of the Piave (1963)
Theses on the Chinese Question (1964)
Considerations on the Party’s General Activity When the General
Situation is Historically Unfavorable (1965)

The Balkan War (1912)
Though we can't yet evaluate the historical consequences of the slaughter, as it draws to a close we can
at least examine it somewhat objectively from the socialist standpoint.
It is said that the Balkan peoples are fighting for the cause of civilisation, liberty and the independence
of peoples; it is accepted as indisputable dogma that the disappearance of Turkey from the map of
Europe will be a sound basis for eastern economic and social development, and so must be welcomed
by socialists. Before an astonished Europe, the fine gesture of the four statelets took on the historic
physiognomy of a crusade and a revolution at the same time. It enraptured Christians and republicans,
nationalists and socialists, who vied in applauding the war.
But the rivers of blood and fire which welled up from countries devastated by one of the most
murderous wars on record, while exhilarating for the nationalists and the theoreticians of massacre only
make us curse, and serves us as warning for the future.
Here the historical problem is set before us in all its gravity: What stance must the socialists take on socalled «wars of independence», which aspire to the liberation of an oppressed nationality from the
foreign yoke?

Some would say: as history teaches us that national freedom is a pre-condition for the development of
the capitalist bourgeoisie, and for the consequent class struggle which leads to socialism, socialists must
look favourably on wars for independence.
We will discuss this conclusion, which is almost a sophism, with the very modest aim of unsettling the
foundations of a too commonly-accepted prejudice.
First of all, the premise that the bourgeoisie needs «national freedom» for its development is not exact.
The bourgeoisie only needs to take the State away from the feudal oligarchies and install a democratic
political regime. The collaboration of the masses being necessary for this, the bourgeoisie tries to make
this struggle popular by giving it, in cases where the aristocracies belong to a non-indigenous nation or
race, a patriotic content.
So for example in Italy and Germany where, as an extra-national question, the conquest of power by the
bourgeoisie was resolved with the wars of '59 and '66. In France on the other hand, the struggle
between the aristocracy and the bourgeoisie had a revolutionary character, and a fundamental
physiognomy of civil war. Be it understood that these examples have a relative value, since historical
facts are not so neatly classified or catalogued.
Moreover, as the concepts of race and nationality are so elastic historically and geographically, they're
always welladapted to the interests of oligarchic capitalist groups, according to the needs of their
economic development. Only after the event can sycophantic history reconstruct fantastic, sentimental
motives, and create the patriotic and national tradition, which serves the shrewd bourgeoisie so well as
an antidote to the class struggle.
But the Party which represents the working class has to look a bit closer. We see irredentism as no more
than a cunning reactionary ploy. Even from the viewpoint - we'll now re-examine it - which says the
bourgeoisie needs to pursue its development, etc., irredentism is not justified. Nice and Trieste are more
industrialised than much of Italy.
We're not making a comparison here with the Balkan regions. We accept as a fact that Bulgaria, Serbia,
etc. are more civilised than Turkey. On that basis, is there perhaps some kind of right to armed conquest
of territory subject to the less-civilised state?
We're not raising the question of whether the war is just or unjust in such a case; history isn't justified,
it's just observed. We're merely discussing the position a revolutionary class party has to take in these
Does the party have to support the war, in order to accelerate the development of the bourgeoisie in a
country that is still feudal?
Our answer is no, and we applaud the heroic attitude of those Serb and Bulgarian comrades who
opposed the war.
In fact, this is the first reason: the war could possibly be favourable to the more advanced people, but
the inverse is also possible, with opposite results; even according to the theory of warmongering
socialists (?) of the Bissolati type. This uncertainty alone would suffice to turn every true friend of

progress against the armed conflict. Provided, that is, they don't still believe in God. But democracy,
given time and... venality, even sinks that low.
On the other hand, even if the solution of the conflict were to be such as to give greater freedom to the
peoples of the conquered territory, nothing proves that a better position would be obtained for the
development of socialism. This is why:
1. The increased prestige of the dynastic, military and sometimes priestly oligarchies (in the nations that
waged war).
2. The intensification of nationalism and patriotism, which delays the organisation of the proletariat into
an internationalist class party.
3. In the defeated country, the intensification of racial hatreds, and of the desire for revenge against the
race that was once dominant and is now oppressed, assuming it hasn't been totally destroyed.
4. The very grave fact of the degeneration of the races after healthy men have been decimated by war,
the depopulation caused by massacres, sickness, hunger, etc., and the immense destruction of wealth,
with the consequent economic crisis, and the impossibility of developing industry and agriculture
through lack of capital and labour.
Therefore the idea that war accelerates the coming of socialist revolution is a vulgar prejudice. Socialism
must oppose all wars, avoiding captious distinctions between wars of conquest and wars of
There remains a sentimental objection to remove: But then you want to prolong the present state of
affairs, and the Turkish oppression of the Christians? But that's the socialism of reactionaries!
In general, one mustn't discuss history on the basis of sentimental prejudices. Nevertheless, we'll
counter these with some considerations. Evils are remedied by removing their causes. Now, it's an
exaggeration to say that the cause of the Balkan disorder is Turkish rule. There are many other causes.
The ambition of the foremost of the vile old states, which have always stirred the fires of racial hatred.
The intervention of civilised Europe, which has spewed friars, priests and unscrupulous profiteers down
there, causing the Muslim reaction. But the cause is race hatred, which can't be eliminated by means of
wars. Just as the Bulgarians and Greeks have hushed up their ferocious mutual loathing, so they were
able to attempt a general Balkan agreement. Can it be asserted that the Turkish oligarchy was more
opposed to this agreement than the ambitious oligarchies of the four little states?
Anyway our assertion, based on socialist principles, is this: socialists have to oppose this war. If it had
been strong enough to avoid the war, the International would also have the strength to resolve the
Balkan question without massacres.
In declaring ourselves against wars of independence, we don't mean to defend racial oppression.
Marx said that being opposed to the constitutional regime was not the same as supporting absolutism.
And we can accept the formula - which seems to make up half all the vast diplomatic lucubrations we've
read in a month - the Balkans for the Balkan peoples. But, we ask, to which people? To those who
emerge from the mutual slaughter, to the orphans, the cripples, and the victims of cholera! This time,

the statistics show clearly what effects war has! The losses are such that it isn't hyperbole to assert that
the race will be drained of blood and sterilised for a long time to come!
The fields of devastation will remain to four gratified petty tyrants.
If tomorrow in Santa Sofia the czar, in eighteenth-century style, puts on the bloody crown of the
Byzantine Empire, we hope there won't be any socialists among those who rummage among the
historical trash of a clownish history and literature, seeking a few lines for the hymn to the victor!
In the name of a greater civilisation, we curse those who for the sake of their ambitious dreams, brought
about the massacre of so many young lives!
No matter how brutal the crime, you'll always get glorification of its heroism and tradition from the
eunuchs of bourgeois culture!

Is This the Time to Form “Soviets”? (1919)
Two of the articles in our last issue, one devoted to an analysis of the communist system of
representation and the other to an exposition of the current tasks facing our Party, concluded by asking
whether it is possible or appropriate to set up workers' and peasants' councils today, while the power of
the bourgeoisie is still intact. Comrade Ettore Croce, in a discussion of our abstentionist thesis in an
article in Avanti!, asks that we should have a new weapon at the ready before getting rid of the old
weapon of parliamentary action and looks forward to the formation of Soviets.
In our last issue we clarified the distinction between the technical-economic and political tasks of the
Soviet representative bodies, and we showed that the true organs of the proletarian dictatorship are the
local and central political Soviets, in which workers are not sub-divided according to their particular
trade. The supreme authority of these organs is the Central Executive Committee, which nominates the
People's Commissars; parallel to them, there arises a whole network of economic organs, based on
factory councils and trade unions, which culminate in the Central Council of the Economy.
In Russia, we repeat, whereas there is no trade representation in the CEC and Soviet of Soviets, but only
territorial representation, this is not the case as regards the Council of the Economy, the organ which is
responsible for the technical implementation of the socialization measures decreed by the political

assembly. In this Council, trade federations and local economic councils play a role. The 16 August issue
of L'Ordine Nuovo contained an interesting article on the Soviet-type system of socialization. This article
explained how in a first stage, dubbed anarcho-syndicalist, the factory councils would take over the
management of production, but that subsequently, in later stages involving centralization, they would
lose importance. In the end they would be nothing more than clubs and mutual benefit and instruction
societies for the workers in a particular factory.
If we shift our attention to the German communist movement, we see in the programme of the
Spartacus League that the Workers' and Soldiers' Councils, the bodies which are to take the place of the
bourgeois parliaments and municipal councils, arc quite different from factory councils, which (Art. 7 of
Section III) regulates working conditions and control production, in agreement with the workers'
councils, and eventually take over the management of the whole enterprise.
In Russian practice, factory management was made up to the extent of only one-third by representatives
from the factory council, one-third by representatives from the Supreme Council of the Economy, and
one-third by representatives from the Central Federation of Industry (the interests of the work-force,
the general interests of society, and the interests of the particular industrial sector).
In Germany again, elections to the Workers' Councils are arranged in accordance with the formula: one
council member to every 1,000 electors. Only the large factories with over 1,000 workers constitute a
single electoral unit; in the case of small factories and the unemployed, voting takes place in accordance
with methods established by the electoral commission in agreement with various trade organizations.
It seems to us that we have marshalled enough evidence here to be able to declare ourselves supporters
of a system of representation that is clearly divided into two divisions: economic and political. As far as
economic functions are concerned, each factory will have its own factory council elected by the workers;
this will have a part to play in the socialization and subsequent management of the plant in accordance
with suitable criteria. As far as the political function is concerned, that is to say the formation of local
and central organs of authority, elections to proletarian councils will be held on the basis of electoral
rolls in which (with the rigorous exclusion of all bourgeois, i.e. people who in any way whatsoever live
off the work of others) all proletarians are included on an equal footing, irrespective of their trade, and
even if they are (legitimately) unemployed or incapacitated. Bearing all this in mind, is it possible, or
desirable, to set up Soviets now?
If we are speaking of factory councils, these are already spreading in the form of internal commissions,
or the English "shop stewards" system. As these are organs which represent the interests of the workforce, they should be set up even while the factory is still in the hands of private capital. Indeed it would
certainly be to our advantage to urge the setting up of these factory councils, although we should
entertain no illusions as to their innate revolutionary capacity. Which brings us to the most important
problem, that of political Soviets. The political Soviet represents the collective interests of the working
class, in so far as this class does not share power with the bourgeoisie, but has succeeded in
overthrowing it and excluding it from power. Hence the full significance and strength of the Soviet lies
not in this or that structure, but in the fact that it is the organ of a class which is taking the management
of society into its own hands. Every member of the Soviet is a proletarian conscious that he is exercising
dictatorship in the name of his own class.

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