On the Thread of Time – Socialists and Monarchies

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Yesterday

Should the socialist parties, at the time of the Second International, put an anti-dynastic prerequisite in their politics? Like all questions that are abused and that allow for easy demagogic assent, it was a poorly asked question. Socialism as a revolutionary movement of the proletariat has only class preconditions, has only one essential requirement, the struggle against the power of the bourgeois class, whether its institutional form is republican or dynastic.

This prerequisite would have meant, in the field of parliamentary action then dominant, that a French socialist could be minister of the Third Republic whereas an Italian socialist could not have been minister of Savoy. The socialists of the left have since thought quite differently and considered Millerand or Briand as traitors as well as Bissolati or Vandervelde, possibilists of peace or war.

Unfortunately, all party questions were judged, and unfortunately still are judged, not by the experience and theory provided in their own original way by the proletarian class struggle and Marxism, but by taking as a model of comparison the great bourgeois revolutions, whether they have a classical or more violent form. The revolutionary victories of the bourgeois class have in many cases combined the transition of power from the old ruling class to the new with armed insurrectional struggles, violent rupture of old institutions and a period of dictatorial terror; we consider that there is here a historical analogy with the proletarian revolution that we expect and prepare, but it is an analogy that is always formal and that does not have great importance for asking our questions concerning the ruthless antithesis between bourgeoisie and proletariat, between capitalism and communist economy, essential basis of the appreciations and decisions of the revolutionary workers movement that does not accept models in bourgeois and pre-bourgeois history.

Cromwell and Robespierre made royal heads fall, but it is wrong that the socialist militants devote them an admiration (thus unjustified) for it. Having broken the pre-capitalist relations of production and founded the bourgeois order, fully characterized by the servitude of the proletarian quarter-state, the first revolutionary republics saw their function continue without problem under the “bourgeois” dynasties that succeeded them, whether they were orangist, Hanoverian, Bonapartist or orleanist; Similarly, it is without contradiction that capitalist revolution fits into the “constitutional” political forms of monarchies, regardless of whether these constitutions were granted or torn away, especially since these liberal and parliamentary monarchies had to deal precisely with dynasties who had fought in the ranks of the anti-bourgeois restoration; it is in this framework that we must situate the Savoy.

The totalitarianism of the first republican bourgeoisies is as radical against the ancien régime as it is against attempts at workers solidarity; it was a banal error to think that the workers’ conquests would make their way more easily in a pure and stable republican framework than in that of a monarchical bourgeois regime. The report is elsewhere.

France is the “experimental country” of history and, in some brief cycles it has known, provides the material for the analysis of general historical relationships; it provided it suggestively to Karl Marx to elaborate the doctrine of class struggle and workers’ civil war in the years 1848, 1852 and 1871. These cycles show us progressive and reformist monarchies as well as police and reactionary republics, and they also show us a daring and heroic proletariat that knew how to hate them and attack them both, after having deceived, betrayed and massacred them many times.

After the First Republic, France had a revolutionary and autocratic monarchy with Napoleon; after the Bourbon restoration and after the 1830 revolution, it had the “bourgeois” monarchy of Louis-Philippe. The Second Republic was born from the struggle that the bourgeois republican parties and revolutionary workers waged against it. “If Paris, as a result of political centralisation, dominates France, the workers dominate Paris in moments of revolutionary earthquakes”. It is from this sentence of Marx that Lenin will elaborate a great revolution and will fight for it.

If, on February 25, 1848 at noon, the government had fallen, the army and the police had lost power to the national guard, there was a provisional coalition government, the republic had not yet been proclaimed. We feared that Philippe Egalité’s mystification would be repeated. The argument posted was quite “democratic”: to change the constitution, we need the majority of France, so we must wait for the vote of the province. But the barricades are still standing and two hundred thousand Parisians are threatening to march on City Hall: as the new bourgeois government has not yet been able to equip itself with police forces, it gives in. After two hours, the historical words: République Française! Liberté, Egalité, Fraternité!! spread out in gigantic characters on the walls of Paris. With Marx, this passage is not lyrical but terribly ironic.

The new republic is not proletarian and it even reluctantly adopts a reformist and social program under the pressure of the demands of the leaders of the proletariat. These pages of Marx should be reread line by line; they describe the complete course of events which lead from the struggle of February to that of June 22, and which lead the Parisian workers, after their mistake of having believed that the republic as an institutional fact was a victory, after their mistake of having trusted the social reforms to take away from the regime its employer and capitalist characters, to pass to the right position of the class struggle against all the pillars of the State. The national guard they had applauded was against them this time: they were told that the National Assembly meeting in May following the elections had legally organised France in liberal but still bourgeois forms. The workers then throw themselves again into the struggle: this time they fall into a sea of blood; but it is this terrible defeat that Marx exalts as the only class conquest of this dramatic situation, just as he will exalt twenty-three years after the Communards were massacred by the Republic of Thiers.

Today

In this country, where we live in the flower of the peninsulas and in the dregs of the republics, we are talking again these days about an institutional question and a monarchical legitimism. How many militants, unable, even instinctively, to locate or feel the relationship of interests and class struggles, are they not ready to shudder in this regard with an indignation that they have not felt for the regime of the Liberation Committees, for the Christian-Socialist Triarchy or for the current republic of the goupillons! One would even find among them militants placing themselves “on the left” and thinking, in the name of a misunderstood Trotskyism: an attempt to return the Savoy could “raise the people” in an insurrectional front, and, by maneuvering in it with different blocks, we could “make the revolution”. The Marxist analysis of the possible developments of the situation is quite different from this childishness!

Republican pre-requisites! We repeat the nonsense of thirty years ago and we have not yet understood the dazzling truths that revolutionary doctrine has had for a century. Even the Italian historical republicans did not make manners to govern with the king because of the irredentist war. Even the fascists of 1919 asked themselves the question and yet they declared themselves only tendentially republican. Arrived on July 25 and they had the audacity – the anti-Mussolinians partisans to everything goes of the blocks – to be satisfied that the allied armies are in Sicily and not in Centocelle, to carry out the ultra-revolutionary step to require that for the first time the Duce be dismissed by whom, God of Heaven? by His Majesty the King.

The non-classist prerequisites lead directly to retirement, and we haven’t seen the end of it yet. When, instead of the maximum demands that are easily displayed in calm weather, asking for the blood of the bourgeois or shouting neither god nor master, we fell back on the claim that William, or Benito, or Adolf should be eliminated, we were reduced to having to swallow again this very refined dish constituted by the capitalists, the monarchs and the popes.

A century after the days of Paris, the advanced leaders of the Italian movement could only ask for the social republic, not even the bourgeois republic or the secular republic. The historical fact is that there was no movement, only treason, which not only prevented, over time, the working class from playing its part in the historical drama but did not even allow it to try to do so. If one had not made a pact in the resistance, which was only a very cautious Roman underground plot, with cassocks of the Virgin of the Annunciation, with big fascist marshals and cardinals in ambush, the liquidation of Pippetto was a one-minute affair. To do this, a Paris was not necessary; Naples in 1943 or Salerno were enough. This honour was left to the collaborationists of the North. In 1945, the proletarian Milan-Turin-Genoa triangle possessed twenty times too many forces to defeat a rotten dynasty and go far beyond if leaders even more “right-handed” than the Raspail, Albert and Ledru-Rollin of 1848 had not betrayed by bartering everything against the tip of Piazzale Loreto for the partisans and that of Dongo for the agitators.

A century later – if we read the post-Mussolian political literature which suddenly began to swell in a disgusting way, it is, statistically, at least ninety percent “Marxist”, if we include the Catholics who today write their proclamations on Stalin’s order – no one has been found to denounce the ignominy of postponing the liquidation, not of the ruling class, but of the ultrafascist monarchy (by becoming royal, fascism proved even more disgusting) without waiting for the democracy of the Constituent Assembly.

Some worried about it, but the one who arrived by sea, namely Palmiro, clarified, in the manner of Lenin, all this and made respect the one that in his articles he previously called Humbert tout court.

We thought Humbert was a softie and a fool, but he wasn’t. Good politician, his father taught him that the dynastic stomachs digest, with impassibility and without ceremony if necessary, both the Turati as the Mussolini or the Togliatti. The struggle being reduced to the June 2 ballots and the Ministry of the Interior being firmly held by the Socialists, the monarchical thesis narrowly failed. Despite the low esteem in which Peppino Romita could be held, the electorate, according to him, had to be pro-Savoyard at fifty-five percent.

It was a real shame that this was the case. For two reasons. The proletarians who, in good faith, follow “centrist” Marxism, would then have understood that it is foolish to rely, even in a matter of little importance, on the democratic method. The “Trotskyists”-that the two colossus, whose names gave those adjectives, received our apologies in the other world-would have seen that nobody was moving. Is anyone moving against the triumphant papism?

That is why today’s discussion is amusing: the residues of secular ideology that exist among the Italian bourgeois, a little shaken by the smell of the sacristy of the June 2 republic, push them (at the invitation of the monarchists) to think that only a monarchy can balance Vatican influence in Italy. We are not relativists, but it amuses us to think that we have the current republic and that the restored monarchy would be “leftist”.

Our opinion? That, as far as we are concerned, Humbert Blanchemain and Saint Pierre have no influence. On the other hand, many have modern Western capitalism and the very modern revolutionary defeatism of Moscow, doublé with the traditional European defeatism.

Our slogan? Dynasts, high priests and republican magistrates, may you, arm in arm, go as fast as you can to hell.

Source: “Battaglia Comunista” No. 17, April 27 – May 4, 1949.

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