From La Forge
Organ of the Communist Party of the Workers of France
March, 1998

The Paris Commune

March 18, 1871

The tremendous experience of the Paris Commune begins. It is historically the first government of the working class." Marx supports the Commune and draws fundamental lessons to elaborate the theory of the State: the bourgeois State, "instrument for the enslavement of Labour to Capital," proletarian State, "the people in arms," the dictatorship of the proletariat. This notion has always made the bourgeoisie tremble.

October, 1917

The working class takes power in old Russia. Together with the peasantry and the peoples of what will become the USSR, it builds socialism for forty years, triumphing notably over the imperialist encirclement in the very first years, then over the Nazi-fascist aggression.

But socialism has been undermined internally and externally and has undergone a regressive process which has ended in its liquidation.

The fight for the revolution, for socialism and communism can not skip over an assessment of this vast positive experience, its errors and its setbacks. The very depth of the crisis of the world imperialist system is sharpening the class struggle everywhere and demands from the communists, not only that they affirm their perspective of the emancipation of society, but that they make it concrete, taking into account the present-day conditions of the class struggle. It is towards this objective that our party has worked since it was founded on March 18, 1979.

March 18, 1871, the Paris Commune

October, 1917, the Socialist Revolution
Lessons for Today

In the preceding issue of our journal, we emphasized the relevance for today of the Manifesto of the Communist Party, whose 150th anniversary we are now celebrating. The Manifesto traces the historic perspective of communism for which generations of communists throughout the world have fought and are continuing to fight. This perspective is in no way utopian, it is based on the laws of historic development. That the path may be tortuous and full of pitfalls, that it is often necessary to retrace ones steps and redouble ones efforts to surmount obstacles, that it is necessary to show patience, that knowledge is gained above all through errors and setbacks: all this forms part of the daily experience of communists. But it is also the successes, the immense steps forward carried out by the socialist revolution in the USSR since 1917, that we need to reclaim and make known, especially among the youths.

Shortly after the publication of the Manifesto, the Paris Commune broke out, the first experience of the seizure of power by the proletariat. For the first time in history, a contingent of the working class, concentrated in Paris, seized political power, not within the framework of the institutions and mechanisms of the bourgeois State, but by destroying this framework and putting in place the embryo of a new State, a proletarian State.

This experience, which did not last more than forty days, was followed passionately by all revolutionaries. Marx and Engels drew precious lessons that they summed up theoretically and which remain the base of the Marxist-Leninist theory of the State. Subsequently, Lenin enriched it.

In the first article of this feature, we deal with the fundamental lessons that the theoreticians of Marxism and Leninism have drawn from the experience of the Commune, especially on the question of the State. In the following article, we tackle certain aspects of the conditions of the seizure of power by the proletariat, for the socialist revolution, in an imperialist country such as ours. Certainly, the question of the seizure of power is not immediately on the order of the day. Neither is it a matter of speculating on when and where, but to make clear what are the fundamental elements that must come together for a revolutionary situation to exist and for the revolutionary potential to be transformed into concrete reality.

The Paris Commune and the Marxist Theory of the State

The Manifesto of the Communist Party (1848) points out that "the theory of the Communists may be summed up in the single sentence: Abolition of private property" and that to carry out this task, the proletariat must "conquer political power." It affirms that "the first step in the revolution by the working class, is to raise the proletariat to the position of ruling class, to win the battle for democracy."[1] At that period the communists could not be more specific. In the following period, the developments of the class struggle permitted them to check the correctness of their revolutionary orientations and to make their content more specific. The Paris Commune was the first historical application of the program circulated in 1848: "The proletarians of Paris, amidst the failures and treasons of the ruling classes, have understood that the hour has struck for them to save the situation by taking into their own hands the direction of public affairs.... They have understood that it is their imperious duty and their absolute right to render themselves masters of their own destinies, by seizing upon the governmental power."[2] This historic experience has played a role of primary importance in the development of the Marxist theory of the State. It allowed for the clarification of what the communists (the revolutionary Marxists) meant by taking power. With the experience of The Class Struggles in France (1848-1851) and of The 19th Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte (1852), the revolutionary strategy had already become much more concrete. "The next attempt of the French revolution will be no longer, as before, to transfer the bureaucratic-military machine from one hand to another, but to smash it" In a letter to Kugelmann, in which he refers to this thesis of the 18th Brumaire, Marx points out very clearly that this is what the Parisian revolutionaries will have to attempt.[3] On May 30, 1871, a proclamation of the General Council of the International Working Men's Association, drawn up by Marx (The Civil War in France) drew this immediate lesson from the Commune: "the working class cannot simply lay hold of the ready made State machinery, and wield it for its own purposes."[4] One year later, on June 24, 1872, Marx and Engels integrated this into the preface of a new edition of the Manifesto. "It is extremely characteristic," said Lenin "that precisely this substantial correction [certain translations say "addition"] has been distorted by the opportunists, and that its meaning is probably unknown to nine-tenths, if not ninety-nine hundredths, of the readers of The Communist Manifesto."[5] It is unquestionably a matter of the central thesis on which rests the whole Marxist theory of the State.

"A Means for the Enslavement of Labour by Capital"

In applying the revolutionary conception of the movement expressed in the first sentence of the Manifesto, "The history of all hitherto existing society is the history of class struggles," to the analysis of new bourgeois political institutions, Marx and Engels disclosed the nature and role of the State as an instrument of this class struggle. In The Civil War in France, Marx explained how the centralized power of the state that issued from the absolute monarchy served the nascent bourgeois society as "a mighty weapon in its struggles against feudalism." He explained how the French revolution of the 18th century and the First Empire had "cleared the social soil of its last hindrances to the superstructure of the modern State edifice." He described in minute detail how the economic transformations linked to the development of capitalism that intensified the class antagonisms between capital and labour, gave the state the character of "the national power of capital over labour," "of a public force organized for social enslavement, of an engine of class despotism."[6] To characterize the Empire that was overthrown after the defeat of Sedan in September, 1870, he spoke of "the ultimate form of the State power which nascent middle-class society had commenced to elaborate as a means of its own emancipation from feudalism, and which full-grown bourgeois society had finally transformed into a means for the enslavement of labour by capital."[7] Starting from that, it goes without saying that the State apparatus as a whole, and all of its specific organs (standing army, policy, bureaucracy, judiciary...), could in no way serve "to win the battle for democracy" and even less for the emancipation of labour. Born from the class contradictions of society and their inevitable character, the State is not a neutral institution. Whatever its form, including the democratic republic, the bourgeois State embodied the undivided domination of capital over society. Any change of persons, parties or institutions is not a change of its nature. This is the first, fundamental lesson of the Commune of 1871. This is what all the reformists forget!

"The Political Form at Last Discovered..."

In The Civil War in France (Address of 1871) Marx poses the question: "What is the Commune, that sphinx so tantalizing to the bourgeois mind?"[8] In other words: by what, precisely, is the smashed state machine to be replaced? The answer was already completely contained in the first decree that the revolutionary power made: the suppression of the army and its replacement by a national guard composed of workers. Being replaced by "the armed people,"[9] one of the organs that is most representative of the State apparatus thus ceased, for the first time, to be a special organ of repression in the hands of the economically dominant class: "While the merely repressive organs of the old governmental power were to be amputated, its legitimate functions were to be wrested from an authority usurping pre-eminence over society itself, and restored to the responsible agents of society."[10] It was thus also with the police, the judiciary and all the other functions of the former State machine. "The whole initiative hitherto exercised by the State was laid into the hands of the Commune,"[11] whose members had been chosen by universal suffrage, essentially from among the workers "or acknowledged representatives of the working class." They were all "responsible and revocable at short terms." The officials were equally "elective, responsible, and revocable." Members of the Commune and public service officials all had to fulfill their duties for "workmen's wages." All the "vested interests and the representation allowances" were abolished.[12] In a speech in 1891 published as an introduction to The Civil War in France, Engels, in speaking of "an effective barrier to place-hunting and careerism," conceives of avoiding "this transformation of the state and the organs of the state from servants of society into masters of society -- an inevitable transformation in all previous states."[13] Marx warned (also in The Civil War in France) against a false interpretation of this entirely new historic social formation: "Thus, this new Commune, which breaks the modern State power, has been mistaken for a reproduction of the medieval Communes, which first preceded, and afterwards became the substratum of, that very State power."[14] The Paris Commune was certainly a State, but a State of a particular type: "It was essentially a working-class government, the produce of the struggle of the producing against the appropriating class, the political form at last discovered under which to work out the economic emancipation of labour."[15] In a speech made in London for the 20th anniversary of the Commune, Engels said: "Of late, the Social-Democratic philistine [that is to say, the petty-bourgeois] has once more been filled with wholesome terror at the words: Dictatorship of the Proletariat. Well and good, gentlemen, do you want to know what this dictatorship looks like? Look at the Paris Commune. That was the Dictatorship of the Proletariat."[16]

"The Tendency of a Government of the People..."

The economic plan of the Commune was the "abolition of class property." Its principal characteristic was to have experienced the political superstructure which should serve as "a lever for uprooting the economical foundations upon which rests the existence of classes, and therefore of class rule."[17] The Commune took a whole series of social measures: "the abolition of the nightwork of journeymen bakers, the prohibition, under penalty, of the employers' practice to reduce wages by levying upon their workpeople fines under manifold pretexts." But, Marx said, "the great social measure of the Commune was its own working existence. Its special measures could but betoken the tendency of a government of the people by the people."[18] It took immediate measures seeking to surrender, to associations of workers, "all closed workshops and factories, no matter whether the respective capitalists had absconded or preferred to strike work," but it reaffirmed above all its great plan: "Yes, gentlemen, the Commune intended to abolish that class property which makes the labour of the many the wealth of the few."[19] That is why the working class had to take into its own hands, directly and for the first time, the destiny of the country. This was not only by setting up more democratic institutions, but rather by setting up a new type of State. Lenin dealt at length with this question in The State and Revolution: "Thus the Commune appears to have replaced the smashed state machine 'only' by fuller democracy: abolition of the standing army; all officials to be elected and subject to recall. But as a matter of fact this 'only' signifies a gigantic replacement of certain institutions by other institutions of a fundamentally different order. This is exactly a case of 'quantity being transformed into quality': democracy, introduced as fully and consistently as is at all conceivable, is transformed from bourgeois democracy into proletarian democracy; from the state (= a special force for the suppression of a particular class) into something which is no longer, properly speaking, the state."[20] For the first time in history, the working class showed that it was the most revolutionary class in society: "this was the first revolution in which the working class was openly acknowledged as the only class capable of social initiative, even by the great bulk of the Paris middle class -- shopkeepers, tradesmen, merchants -- the wealthy capitalists alone excepted."[21]

It did not succeed in winning the support of the most numerous class of society at that time, the peasantry, but, Marx said, "the Commune was perfectly right in telling the peasants that 'its victory was their only hope.'"[22] Because it was "a working men's Government, the bold champion of the emancipation of labour," this first State of the dictatorship of the proletariat was in a position to be the true "representative of all the healthy elements of French society, and therefore the truly national Government."[23] Furthermore, and also because it was "a working men's Government, the bold champion of the emancipation of labour," this national government no longer opposed the interests of the French workers to those of other countries: "Between the foreign war lost by their treason, and the civil war fomented by their conspiracy with the foreign invader, the bourgeoisie had found the time to display their patriotism by organizing police-hunts upon the Germans in France. The Commune made a German working man its Minister of Labour."[24]

A Precious Experience for All Revolutionaries

The experience of the Commune and the conclusions that Marx and Engels drew from it played a very important role in the development of the Bolshevik Party. It was precisely on the eve of the October Revolution, during the summer of 1917, that Lenin wrote his celebrated work The State and Revolution, in which he reviewed in detail the lessons of the Commune. Today, we are no longer in 1871, and we could say, using the expression of Engels, that economic development is ripe for the suppression of capitalist production. Therefore it is not surprising that the question of the State has become once again a central issue in the ideological confrontation between classes. The basic Marxist texts, particularly those written after the Paris Commune, remain of vital interest for study today. This refers to the complete texts, without reducing them, as Lenin said, to what is acceptable to the bourgeoisie. After the Soviet experience, which was spread out over a historic period and was on a much more important scale than the Paris Commune, it is necessary for us to make a critical assessment of what is still the main revolutionary event of the 20th century -- just as the Commune was for the 19th. Not only should one examine how the communist theses on the State, the revolution and the "dictatorship of the proletariat" were applied in the USSR, but one must also reverify, using our materialist and dialectical criteria, their validity as a revolutionary alternative to capitalist exploitation and oppression.

This is what the PCOF [Communist Party of the Workers of France] has tried to do in its Contribution to an Assessment of Socialism in the USSR. As the first stage in this work, whose aim is to clarify the strategic objective of communists, we wrote, among other things: "The superstructure of socialism is characterized by a State of a new type, which is no longer a special power of the minority over the majority, but an instrument which defends the interests of the working people as a whole against those who want to reestablish the old relations of exploitation. Taken hold of at first by the most revolutionary section of society, it can not play its role without a more and more massive and direct participation of all the working people in the leadership of the country. This process is characterized by the progressive transformation of a power 'for' the working people into a power 'of' the working people. In the end, there will no longer be a distinction between leaders and led; there will be no more State. This progression towards communism has been counteracted by a series of factors... The direct takeover of the leadership of the economy and of the State by the masses was not quantitatively developed, after the victory of socialism on the economic level had provided a new base for the participation of the producers in the exercise of power... The party itself lost sight of the objective set at its 7th Congress: taking their destiny into their own hands and the leadership by the working people themselves. The numerous measures for struggling against the bureaucracy remained without lasting effect..."[25] At the same time we raised a certain number of theoretical problems regarding the theses developed by the CP of the Soviet Union at its 18th Congress on the question of the State and more particularly of its failure to wither away. To study the experience of the Commune of 1871 is not sufficient for going deeper into this question, since many elements have to be taken into account (level of development of the productive forces, evolution of the social relations under socialism, the functioning of the party and its conception of its leading role, the sharpening of the class struggle on the international level, etc.) but it remains an element of reflection invaluable for several reasons, and particularly as the first attempt to establish a workers' State in which the organization of the masses is the very foundation of all power.

[Footnotes. All quotes are from English editions except where indicated.]

1) See Chapter II of the Manifesto: "Proletarians and Communists."

2) The Civil War in France, Foreign Languages Press, Peking, 1966, p. 63-4.

3) Marx Letter to Kugelmann, April 12, 1871, quoted in Lenin's The State and Revolution, Foreign Languages Press, Peking, 1976, p. 46.

4) The Civil War in France, p. 64.

5) The State and Revolution, p. 46.

6) The Civil War in France, p. 64.

7) ibid. p. 67.

8) ibid. p. 63.

9) ibid. p. 67.

10) ibid. p. 69.

11) ibid. p. 68.

12) ibid. p. 67-68.

13) ibid. p. 16.

14) ibid. p. 70.

15) ibid. p. 72.

16) ibid. p. 17-18.

17) ibid. p. 72.

18) ibid. p. 78.

19) ibid. p. 72-73.

20) The State and Revolution, p. 52.

21) The Civil War in France, p. 74.

22) ibid. p. 75.

23) ibid. p. 77.

24) ibid. pp. 77-78.

25) PCOF, Contribution to an Assessment of Socialism in the USSR, (March, 1996), p. 142 [French edition].


By way of introduction to this part, we first quote Lenin, who made explicit the indispensable conditions for any revolution. He wrote this work in April-May, 1920, some time before the II Congress of the Communist International, at which it was distributed to the delegates.

The Fundamental Law of the Revolution, according to Lenin

"The fundamental law of revolution, which has been confirmed by all revolutions and especially by all three Russian revolutions in the twentieth century, is as follows: for a revolution to take place it is not enough for the exploited and oppressed masses to realise the impossibility of living in the old way, and demand changes; for a revolution to take place it is essential that the exploiters should not be able to live and rule in the old way. It is only when the 'lower classes' do not want to live in the old way and the 'upper classes' cannot carry on in the old way that the revolution can triumph. This truth can be expressed in other words: revolution is impossible without a nation-wide crisis (affecting both the exploited and the exploiters). It follows that, for a revolution to take place, it is essential, first, that a majority of the workers (or at least a majority of the class-conscious, thinking, and politically active workers) should fully realise that revolution is necessary, and that they should be prepared to die for it; second, that the ruling classes should be going through a governmental crisis, which draws even the most backward masses into politics (symptomatic of any genuine revolution is a rapid, tenfold and even hundredfold increase in the size of the working and oppressed masses -- hitherto apathetic -- who are capable of waging the political struggle), weakens the government, and makes it possible for the revolutionaries to rapidly overthrow it." (Left-Wing Communism, An Infantile Disorder, "Left-Wing Communism in Britain")

A profound crisis within the bourgeoisie and the winning over of the majority of the class-conscious workers to the need for revolution are thus two fundamental conditions for the revolution.

We are trying to see whether, in the recent past, such conditions could have existed in our country, or whether we have at least come close to them.

Two Periods of Political Crisis in France

We could recall 1936, or the post-war period, but we thought it simpler to take two more recent and maybe more "vivid" examples. Moreover, they were made the object of the first study by our party, in 1984, on the occasion of its 2nd congress. We will quote excerpts from this document, which fundamentally analyzed the significance of the administration by social-democracy of the interests of French imperialism, in 1981.

Regarding 1958, at the time of open political crisis on the occasion of the colonial crisis, particularly the Algerian war, we wrote:

"Under the pressure brought about both by the victories won by the Algerian patriots on the military and diplomatic fronts and by the popular movement against the war, the 4th Republic ended by withdrawing. The general staff of the colonial army was discontented faced with the inability of the political authorities to respond to the demands of the situation. One section rose up and the Algerian putsch opened the way to a coup in favor of de Gaulle. The totality of parties representing the bourgeoisie rallied around the coup. (...) The working class and the working masses, the youth and progressive opinion in the country opposed the colonial war in different manners (strikes, demonstrations of protest, desertions, support networks for the Algerian F.L.N. [National Liberation Front]). This war was very expensive and sent the children of the people to be shot up for an unjust war which violated their conscience. On the other hand, the working class would have nothing to do with defending the 4th Republic, whose successive governments (in which the Socialist J. Moche shone) were famous for the bloody repression against the strike movements and sank the country into a shameful and endless war.

In 1958, The P.C.F. [French Communist Party], with 5 million votes, was the largest party in Parliament (150 deputies out of some 600). This position of the P.C.F., reinforced by its supporters organized in the mass movement (particularly the C.G.T. [General Confederation of Labor] trade union) could have created conditions such that, with the help of the open political crisis and the increasing popular mobilization against the war, the proletariat could have taken center stage with its class, revolutionary alternative. Nothing came of this due to the abandonment by the P.C.F. of proletarian principles and its adoption of the Krushchevite revisionist theses on the peaceful transition to socialism. This abandonment was illustrated by its political attitude nourished by the colonialist ideology and bourgeois democracy befitting the labor aristocracy. In 1956, the P.C.F. had voted full powers to the government of Guy Mollet (with Mitterand as Minister of Justice) to try to crush the armed insurrection of the Algerian people. On May 20, 1958, faced with the coup of de Gaulle and in the name of republican legality, it again voted special powers to the government, this time headed by the M.R.P.'s [Popular Republican Movement] Pfimlin and in which the Socialists Guy Mollet and Jules Moch took part. A sorry legality on which the massacre of a people rests! This attitude of the P.C.F. broke the political initiative of the working class. Deprived of proletarian leadership, the movement remained on the defensive, which gave the bourgeoisie the opportunity to resolve the crisis in its own fashion." (pp. 51 & 52).

Regarding May, 1968

"On May 13, 1968, 10 million strikers paralyzed the country. The immense revolutionary potential existing within the working people broke into the open. The confrontation between the working people and revolutionary youth on the one hand, and the police on the other, expressed the aspiration for the overthrow of the existing order. But at no time did this confrontation take on an insurrectionary character, expressing an active and massive political will for the seizure of power. If it is true that the government hesitated a few days in deciding what attitude to adopt, it rapidly regained its self-control. The State apparatus was not shaken. If De Gaulle made personal contact with the French troops stationed in the F.R.G. [Federal Republic of (West) Germany], this was to reassure the bosses and the masses of small owners frightened by the revolt of the "sleeping dogs" (to use the Gaullist expression). This also was to frighten the revisionists who, having denigrated the movement, had jumped on its bandwagon. De Gaulle, knowing the fear of the revisionists of "civil war" and all forms of "violence," compelled them without further ado to play their role of fire-fighters [putting out the flames] of the class struggle. (...) There was no gap in power, nor "counter-power" nor "dual power" (as was the case in 1958 when, faced with the legal government, there was put in place that of the coup d'Etat, or as was the case, for example, in Russia in 1917 when, faced with the tsarist power there were formed among the masses the embryos of power of the Soviet type). (...) The P.C.F. claimed that in May, 1968, power was not for the taking, which was true. But what it did not say is that, far from acting to open the way to such a perspective, it did all it could to prevent this from taking shape. (...) If the strike took on a political character with the demand for de Gaulle to resign, shared by all the political tendencies expressed in the movement, the bourgeoisie solidified themselves around the presidential majority and, in the opposition, no one was ready for the "change in power." (p. 60).

In May, 1968, the idea of revolution found renewed popularity among the masses... [text missing]

Certain Lessons for Today

The two great conditions formulated by Lenin deal with both objective conditions (the crisis) and subjective conditions (the degree of the rallying of the most conscious workers to the need for the revolution), which act upon each other. Concerning the objective conditions, it is useful to refer to Stalin's work, The Foundations of Leninism, in which he says in particular: "Now the proletarian revolution must be regarded primarily as the result of the development of the contradictions within the world system of imperialism, as the result of the breaking of the chain of the world imperialist front in one country or another." (The Foundations of Leninism, Foreign Languages Press, Peking, 1979, p. 29).

This thesis is one of burning relevance; it allows us first of all to understand the essence of the phenomenon of "globalization," that is, the fact that today we are faced with a veritable world front of imperialism, a chain whose links are made up of all countries, whatever their size, political and economic weight, etc. On the other hand, this chain necessarily contains "weak links," in which the fundamental contradictions of the imperialist system are particularly acute. Finally, these countries are directly linked to each other; what happens in one has repercussions in the others. It is thus that the crisis of French imperialism increases the crisis that strikes the colonies (Kanaky, Réunion, Martinique, Guadeloupe, Guyana, etc.) and the neo-colonies of Africa (especially the Franc zone) and vice versa. It is also the reason that the interdependence of the States of Europe grows parallel to the setting up of the European Union, an interdependence which does not suppress competition within the Union itself, any more than it suppresses the competition between the Union and the other imperialist States. In other words, a revolutionary situation can not develop without having repercussions in the "links" which are nearest, not only from a geographical point of view but from an economic point of view. One can even see this without the crisis having attained a potentially revolutionary stage, in the way in which a social movement in one European country has economic and social repercussions on the others (viz. the movement of December, 1995, in France and its repercussions on putting into effect the common currency). The conclusion which follows is that the workers' and popular movement should support in every way all potentially revolutionary movements, everywhere in the world, in order to allow them to go as far as possible, to aid in breaking the imperialist chain. This is particularly true for us, in regard to the colonies and neo-colonies dependent on French imperialism.

We are not here going to make an analysis of the crisis of French imperialism. A synthesis has been made in our journal of September, 1996, which has been enriched since (and which will certainly continue to be enriched), without modifying the basic tendencies which we have drawn out, namely its deepening in all domains which it traverses, in the superstructure by the continuation of the process of fascization. These tendencies are not reversed by "a divcerse majority." If "co-habitation" [a regime with the President from one party and the Premier from an opposing party] is the least bad solution politically for the bourgeoisie, it is at the same time a worn-out recycling of the same political forces, both of the right and of the "left." This is one objective cause for the break-out of a political crisis within the ruling class.

This brings us to the subjective aspect, the consciousness of the "conscious, thinking, politically active workers," as Lenin said. It is on these questions that we are concentrating our attention and this is the principal area of our work. If the present situation is still far from corresponding to that which Lenin described, it is incontestable that one sector of the working class is heading towards this revolutionary consciousness. Let us take the questioning of the very existence of the working class. Some time ago, this thesis seemed very deep-rooted, even among the workers, and even among the conscious workers, and one had to develop a whole series of explanations and theoretical analyses to begin to counter it. But when these explanations were fused with practice, the concrete experience of the mobilization of the working class, by means of certain of its detachments (for example the workers of industry and transport), this question was "resolved." Moreover, the consciousness of the role and the decisive weight of the working class was enriched and deepened.

Another series of important questions deals with the sophistication of the bourgeois State apparatus, the "invulnerability" of its repressive apparatus (army, police, judiciary) and, in a more general fashion, class violence. The reactionary nature of the violence of the bourgeois State hardly leaves any doubt of the legitimacy and the necessity of class violence of the working class and popular masses in response; the need to exercise it in a conscious and organized fashion are questions on which experience is "backwards;" one must go back to a relatively distant past (a little in May of 1968, but more so to the armed struggle of the Resistance) or it is "indirect;" that of the popular armed struggles, for example, of the people of Zaire against the Mobutu regime. Anyway, there is much to be done on this question, both on the theoretical and ideological level as on the practical one.

Finally, we must take note that among the officials, consciousness has grown that before being State employees, they still are employees in the service of enterprises which function as capitalist enterprises, according to the same logic of profit. Furthermore, this gaining of consciousness is accelerating in favor of the social movement.

What is the role of communists today? It is precisely to carry out this "fusion" between theory and practice among the conscious workers. It is not enough to throw out ideas, however correct they may be. It is not a matter of being a militant devoted to the interests of the working class, even if this is an indispensable condition. It is necessary to work to organize the most conscious elements of the workers' and popular movement into the party. This is the primary task to which we must consecrate all our efforts.

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