An army who learns from his own defeats is meant to win!
June 15, 2018
We circulate an article for our English-speaker correspondents by Comrade Ulisse, Secretary of the CC of the (n)PCI, published on the June issue of Resistenza, paper and online (www.carc.it) monthly of the CARC Party (Support Committees of the Resistance – for Communism) – Italy. We trust that this will be useful both to improve mutual knowledge between organizations working on the rebirth of the communist movement and to develop an analytic evaluation of the first wave of the proletarian revolution.
The Delegation of the CC of the (n)PCI
An army who learns from his own defeats is meant to win!
Between mid-April and early May of this year, ETA’s executives and militants (Euskadi Ta Askatasuna – Basque Country and Freedom) declared the organization dissolved and the struggle to make the Basque country (currently about 2.5 million of people in Spain and about half a million in France, over an area of about 20 thousand square kilometres) an independent and socialist country as ended. This was a struggle that ETA had begun in 1958, gathering the legacy of the centuries-old Basque resistance to the assimilation of their country imposed by the Spanish and French states.
In Italy and in other imperialist countries numerous exponents and groups of the bourgeois left took advantage of the declaration of dissolution to start making sermons on defeatism, liquidationism and wait-and-see attitude: « the world is bad but establishing socialism is an old-fashion idea and however impossible, or something of a distant and vague future in the best-case scenario; meanwhile, let’s see what happens and try to live as well as possible; we’ll adjust what we can. » To these words and to this dull, depressed spirited people, to this servile and resigned attitude, it is useless to oppose words. We must counteract their influence with action and not to trust their theses even in the fields where the bourgeoisie endorses them as experts: a dull person sees little and badly even when they try to see!
Actually, the declaration of dissolution of the organization propagated by ETA between April and May is the conclusion of a path that ETA undertook since 2009 with the cessation of the attacks, the relinquishment of guns and finally now with the dissolution of the organization. However, there are still many criminal proceedings ongoing in Spain and France, more than 600 prisoners (taking into account the population, the number is equivalent to 12,000 prisoners in Italy) in about 70 Spanish and French prisons and a large number of wanted, illegal immigrants or in exile: about 3 thousand people took part in the discussion of dissolution, and of the 1,335 (among active, prisoners and exiles) recognized as having the right to vote, 1,077 voted, of which 997 in favour. More important, the issue of class oppression and environmental destruction remains unsolved as well as the question of national self-determination: this is a problem that in the Basque Country (the country of Guernica) is still a concern, and today in a more serious way than it is in Catalonia, Corsica and Brittany. This issue is now combined with the growing intolerance in all European countries for the abolition of national sovereignty and the intolerance against bourgeois democracy itself, in order to subordinate the countries to the political institutions of the financial oligarchy: European Union, European Central Bank and NATO. As for class oppression and the social and environmental chaos, they are well known in Italy as in the Basque Country.
The organs of the imperialist bourgeoisie and their parrots in the bourgeois left spread the rumour that, by dissolving the organization, the members of ETA apologized to all the victims of the attacks, including the torturers of state hit by ETA and the tyrants like Carrero Blanco, the designated successor of Franco whom ETA blew up in 1973. This is false. On May 19th, Sortu, the legal organization of the Basque left that in February 2013 took the place of Batasuna, outlawed by the Spanish government in 2003, held an assembly in the large stadium of Miribilla (Bilbao). More than four thousand people paid public tribute to the fallen and to the prisoners of ETA and indicated to the people their disdain for the torturers and oppressors, including those that ETA hit with the attacks carried out from the 60’s until 2009.
For the communist movement (intended as a movement of emancipation of the oppressed classes which wants to end the division of humanity into social classes) of European countries and of all the imperialist countries in general, the dissolution of ETA is the (perhaps definitive) end of a particular story within the movement’s general history. A general history marked by the difficulty encountered by the communists of the countries where the bourgeois society is older, to free themselves from the roots of the influence of the bourgeois society: trust in bourgeois democracy, economism (reduce the struggle of the oppressed classes to a struggle for economic demands), militarism (overvaluation of the role of weapons in class struggle). A question to which the Caravan of the (n)PCI, ((nuovo) Partito Comunista Italiano – new Italian Communist Party) and the P.CARC (Partito dei Comitati d’Appoggio alla Resistenza per il Comunismo – Party of the support committees of the resistance for communism) with it, has given an answer based on science and experience: obviously it is still missing definitive sanction, but we are with all our forces committed to give (and we must give) the definitive sanction of practical victory with the establishment of socialism. A question to which all those who want to put an end to the catastrophic course of things imposed on humanity by the imperialist bourgeoisie will have to answer: mobilizing and guiding humanity to make the epochal turn that is not only possible but indispensable for survival.
Which is the particularity in the history of ETA?
ETA formed and began its struggle when the first wave of the world proletarian revolution raised by the victory of Lenin and Stalin’s party in 1917 was at its peak. Khrushchev and the modern revisionists had only recently imposed the decisive turning-point towards the exhaustion of this wave with the XX Congress of the CPSU in 1956. The struggle begun by ETA was inserted in the struggle of the communist movement of all the peoples of Spain against the fascist regime that the Catholic Church and the armed forces headed by Francisco Franco and in various ways supported by all the imperialist, Nazi-fascist and democratic powers (France, Britain and the USA at the head) had imposed against the Popular Front. This had taken the head of the government of the Spanish Republic with the general elections of 1936. The civil war unleashed by the Church and by the coup leaders was ended in 1939 with the defeat of the communist movement. In 1945 in all Europe the fight against Nazi-fascism ended with the victory of the communist movement headed by the Soviet Union of Stalin, but this victory was not enough to revive the counter-offensive of the communist movement in Spain, confirming the limits of the Spanish communist movement for which it had lost the war in 1939. ETA was born in the Basque Country in the context of the lack of counter-offensive of the communist movement in Spain and the revolutionary impotence shown by the communist movement in France and Italy in the years after 1945.
ETA has been the most heroic and determined organization in Europe in pursuing national independence and the establishment of socialism, but it has not exceeded the above-mentioned limits of the European communist movement. It is no coincidence that today’s dissolution, like the turn of 2009, is not accompanied by an analytic evaluation of the first wave of the proletarian revolution and proposals for the history to come. Every militant is invited to return as he sees fit between the people. Even among the 47 militants who voted against dissolution, it is not yet clear to us if someone has acted on the basis of an evaluation or a proposal for the future to come.
It’s valuable for us as an evaluation of the history of ETA what the comrade Giuseppe Maj wrote many years ago in the article La lotta per il diritto all’autodeterminazione nazionale nei paesi imperialisti (The struggle for the right to national self-determination in the imperialist countries) published in n. 34 (January 2004) of the magazine Rapporti Sociali: « The movements for national self-determination of small nations are facing a crossroads. One way is that of the leadership of the popular masses in the hands of the national bourgeoisie, the church and other local notables: these in their turn are linked by a thousand interests to the imperialist bourgeoisie of the dominant nation or of other countries. It is the path that leads the independence movement to submit to the manoeuvres and intrigues of the imperialist groups and states. The other way is that of the leadership of the working class that involves the rest of the proletariat and popular masses and also obliges the national bourgeoisie, the clergy and local notables to drag themselves along with the independence movement in order not to lose the support of the popular masses from which they draw their contractual strength whit the imperialist bourgeoisie. The leadership of the working class in the movement for the right to self-determination also implies a close relationship with the revolutionary movement of the popular masses of the dominant nation.
In the current situation of weakness of the communist movement, it also implies the help of the movements for independence to the development of the revolutionary movement of the popular masses of the dominant nation: a task that today almost all the independence movements of Western Europe do not yet pursue. In general, the development of the revolutionary movement of the popular masses of the dominant nation is also a necessary condition for the victory of the national movement. Indeed, it is difficult, though not impossible, that national movements such as those of the Basque, Breton, etc. peoples can win against the imperialist states of France, Spain, etc. if these are not also targets of the revolutionary movement of the French, Spanish, etc. » (1)
But the history of the communist movement has just begun (we celebrate this year the bicentenary of Marx’s birth) and the rebirth from the exhaustion of the first wave is underway. Humanity needs it and we Communists are at work.
Comrade Ulisse, General Secretary of the Central Committee of the (n)PCI
1. The full text (in Italian)
La lotta per il diritto all’autodeterminazione nazionale nei paesi imperialisti
by Giuseppe Maj is available at
Abattre le capitalisme
construire la solidarité