Eight discussion theses by Aníbal and Fredo Corvo
The revolutionary autonomy of the proletariat against capital implies that the proletariat conducts its own liberation struggle on a massive scale. The decisions on the course of this struggle are taken by the working and unemployed workers’ masses, preferably in general assemblies at their workplace and/or in the streets. In particular, those coordinating tasks that the masses cannot perform themselves they delegate with a well-defined mandate to elected and always revocable representatives. These representatives unite in committees, and when the struggle covers a whole region, in workers’ councils. Whenever possible, these representatives consult publicly before general assemblies, especially in negotiations with representatives of capital and/or the state, and owe full responsibility to the workers’ masses who elected them.
2 … and content
The mass self-organization of the workers which thus arises in the class struggle itself, constitutes the highly flexible form of organization which fits seamlessly into the dynamic substantive development of mass consciousness of the ends and means of this struggle. When the struggle develops toward revolution and then toward communism, the masses choose more radical representatives instead of moderate ones. When the dynamics of the struggle stagnate or even deteriorate, conservative and reactionary representatives can promote further deterioration. In that case, a moment arises when the representative bodies no longer represent the independent class interests of the working class. In any case, when the mass struggle ends, the independent struggle organization loses its function of representation in coordination and possibly negotiation.
3 The most conscious and militant workers
The independent organization of the struggling working masses ensures that it can fight as a unified class for self-determined goals and self-chosen means of developing power against capital and the state. The proletarian struggle develops workers’ power in particular by extending the struggle over the proletariat as a whole, regardless of the divisions by industries, professions, and education, language, nationality, worldview, and so on that the bourgeois mode of production impose on it. The most militant and revolutionary class-conscious workers promote this workers’ power in word and deed. They do this both in and outside periods of struggle, opposing the bourgeois attitudes and practices of the state trade union movement and the bourgeois political parties and groups, including the so-called workers’ parties. They organize as conscious and combative minorities based on their views to orient the workers’ struggle toward the common interests of the class. Individual members of other classes who defend these basic positions may also be part of these minority groups. These minority class organizations do not put themselves in the place of the working masses. When members of these minority organizations are elected as representatives in the autonomous class organization, they act according to the mandate they received from the masses and not according to the directives of the minority. This is true not only in the period before the conquest of political and economic power but also in the period when the workers’ councils exercise all power.
4 ‘Unionen,’ Party, economic and political
When significant sections of the working class, out of an understanding of the necessity for revolutionary struggle, separate themselves from the state trade union movement and form new organizations in which even the most conscious and militant minorities are welcome, this is equivalent to the creation of a communist workers’ party, regardless of the name this organization gives itself. Depending on the circumstances, we are then dealing with an international party or an international of local parties. Because this party, like the minority organizations mentioned above, is not identical to the working class, it cannot put itself in the place of the working masses. This principle is even more important because the party thus created has real influence on the course of the class struggle because its positions in word and deed are followed with interest by broad working-class masses, and these recognize their struggle as a class in the positions of the party.
The formation of autonomous organizations of the mass struggle and the establishment of one or more communist workers’ parties are closely related aspects of the development of a seemingly merely economic workers’ struggle into an openly manifested political struggle in defense against the attacks of capital and the state. By necessity, this struggle ends in the destruction of the state and the abolition of wage labor and thus of capital and the market.
5 Destruction of the bourgeois state
The destruction of the bourgeois state by the workers’ councils means the elimination and dissolution of the state organs engaged in the repressive functions of the state. The government, representative bodies, parliamentary parties, the state trade union movement, employers’ unions, and bourgeois political organizations, all of which functioned as instruments of the state, are dissolved. The state organs concerned with the social functions of the state (especially health care, education, and other public services) are torn out of the state and brought under the control of the economy run by workers’ councils. As part of the economy led by the working masses, their work becomes focused on satisfying human needs and no longer on profit and maintaining the power of capital.
6 Dictatorship of the proletariat and the half-state
The workers’ councils destroy the bourgeois state as the best way to defend themselves against its attacks. In doing so, the councils simultaneously seize power over society to transform it to their proletarian class ends. This massive exercise of workers’ power over the minority of the old capitalist class and over all those who seek to restore capitalism and the bourgeois state is the dictatorship of the proletariat, also called the dictatorship of the half-state because besides fulfilling a number of important functions in a different way from the bourgeois state (which is an autonomized structure of society to impose on it the interests of the ruling and exploiting class), this dictatorship is extinguished with the disappearance of all classes and their remnants. The power of the councils is based on the fact that the workers are the only class armed and, above all, on the management of the economy by the working masses themselves. For this workers’ self-government, the measure of the social average labor hour is an indispensable means that replaces money and capital and puts an end to wage labor by establishing a direct link between labor and consumption transparent for all.
7 Centralism and Federalism
Just as the opposition of political and economic struggle and power is historically outdated, the opposition of centralism and federalism is also false. Those issues that can only be addressed by the entire working class in the struggle against state and capital or that the class must decide on in its working-class self-government as a whole deserve central decision-making. All other matters that can be decided at lower levels will be decided at lower levels.
The same applies to decision-making in minority organizations, centrally with respect to matters on which all agree, for example, because they belong to their basic positions. In addition, the possibility of forming fractions applies to issues in which the discussion or the experiences of the workers’ struggle have not yet brought clarity and unanimity.
8 The relations between the proletariat and other non-capitalist classes
Autonomy, in all phases of the struggle, has the meaning of proletarian class autonomy both in its organizational form and in terms of its content. In relation to other non-capitalist classes, given the dynamics outlined above, the working class can enter into a temporary alliance with other non-capitalist classes only in situations of struggle in which it has the upper hand. In the period following the seizure of power by the workers’ councils, the working class can bind these other classes to itself by opening up the self-managed economy to them.