MIA: Encyclopedia of Marxism: Glossary of People



Ceausescu, Nicolae (1918-1989)

Joined the Communist Party at age 14 in 1932; jailed for theft as well as political activity; General Secretary of the CP from 1954, under patronage of Gheorghe Gheorghiu-Dej; from 1967 President of Rumania. One of the most repressive of Stalinist leaders, his independence of Moscow (maintaining diplomatic relations with Israel, criticising invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1968, and Afghanistan in 1984) earned support from the West. US President Jimmy Carter welcomed him as a 'freedom fighter', the Queen conferred an honorary knighthood on him. The Western Australian mining magnate Lang Hancock cultivated a personal friendship with him and the wealthy far-right businessman, Iosef Dragan was also a well-known supporter. Following a 1971 visit to China, Ceausescu initiated a program of building massive industrial complexes, most of which turned out to be white elephants. A mad scheme to 'abolish the distinction between town and country', bulldozing 150 towns and 1,800 small villages to erect proposed 'agro-industrial complexes', and the repression of the Gypsies and the Magyar minority consolidated opposition to Ceausescu in the countryside. When the country rose in revolt in 1989, Party and Army leaders turned against him, and after a week of fighting between the Army and the Securitate, Ceausescu and his wife were arrested and shot. Rumania was one of the few countries that entered the 1990s without a foreign debt, but at considerable cost in terms of underdevelopment.


Cervetto Arrigo (1927-1995)

Italian revolutionist, one of the founders of Lotta Comunista. A. Cervetto was born in Buenos Aires on April 16th, 1927, son of Italian immigrants.

As a young worker at the llva factory of Savona, after the political-military crisis of Fascism of September 8th, 1943, Cervetto joined the civil war against nazi-fascism, deserving the “Croce al Merito”.

For five years, since this partisan experience, through his rejection of Stalinism and of Togliatti’s ‘svolta di Salerno’ (“Salerno turn”), through the struggle against “anarchist nothingness”, Cervetto studied Marxism thoroughly.

In March, 1950, Cervetto took part in the first congress, organised in Genoa-Pontedecimo by an anarchist group with the purpose of reorganising FAI (Italian Anarchical Federation). FAI was not a purely “anarchic organisation”, actually it gathered different anti-Stalinist wings, and the Leninist wing (to which Cervetto belonged) as well.

A long season of political and theoretical struggle was at this point beginning for Cervetto. At first it was carried out by his contribution to newspapers such as Il Libertario (The Libertarian) of Milan—where, from May 1950 to May 1951, 21 articles of Cervetto appeared, dealing with the subjects of the ‘cold war’ and the ‘decolonisation’, later collected in the book “L’imperialismo unitario”—(Unitary Imperialism) and L'Impulso (The Impulse) (1950-57).

Cervetto’s political and trade union activity was never separated from his effort to develop a core of revolutionary workers united by the principle of theoretical homogeneity as ‘necessary precondition for the building of the workers party in Italy’.

An intense reorganizational activity took place in 1950 and 1951, in which Cervetto’s major contribution was related to the theoretical struggle. FAI’s nihilist drift brought about the foundation, at the National Convention of Genoa-Pontedecimo held on February 28 and 29, 1951, of GAAP (Anarchic Groups of Proletarian Action).

Despite the purpose to reach the utmost homogeneity on principles and organization, the new group was shared by two different theoretical conceptions and two different traditions, bound to split: the Marxist-Leninist one—represented by Arrigo Cervetto—, and the Anarchical one, represented by Pier Carlo Masini.

Here’s a passage from his contribution to the Thesis approved by the meeting:

“There aren’t two kinds of imperialism, different in degree and nature, for the working class to choose. Imperialism does exist as a unitary manifestation of a society divided into classes and States: one single block, though shaken and agitated by tearing inner contradictions. Therefore, the only choice the world proletariat is faced with is whether to side with imperialism or with anti-imperialism”.

The indivisible imperialism became the central theme of Cervetto’s analysis; suffice it to cite some of his articles’ titles: “Imperialism is indivisible, USSR is conditioned by the USA”, “The indivisible imperialism, true aggressor in Korea”, and so on.

In this analysis, the indivisibility of imperialism reflects itself in the inner contradictions of the two major imperialist powers, assuming the form of peripheral crises.

At the third GAAP conference, in September 1953, Cervetto blamed, nonetheless, the tendency of some revolutionary groups to ‘consider imperialism as an immense machine, a great compressor’, which wouldn’t leave any space for revolutionary action.

This view was linked with trade-union tactics. Cervetto criticized those groups of the Communist Left, heirs of Bordighism, which understood the counter-revolutionary phase as barring any union action. Since they considered trade unions as completely integrated and controlled by the “two blocks”, they ended up rejecting any commitment of militants inside them. On the contrary, Cervetto considered intervention inside trade unions as a permanent duty of the party, even though he was fully aware that it is dependent on the capitalist cycle.

Cervetto contributed to the new series of the journal Prometeo, (1954, 1959 e 1960), and to Azione Comunista (1957-64), a paper born from a maximalist-wing of the PCI. Because of this origin of Azione Comunista, Cervetto paid attention not to make any concessions to maximalism and to attitudes of mere and unscientific dissention.

During “[our] co-operation with the newspaper [Azione Comunista]” Lorenzo Parodi, co-founder of Lotta Comunista, recalls “it was clear that there were two different lines: the agitational one, expressed by PCI dissidents and by those who had remained caught in the social-democratization, and the Leninist one […] When the pragmatism without principles of the former caused a crisis of the paper, our group assumed the responsibility of transferring its publication to Genoa, in order to give it an homogeneous line, thus anticipating the function of collective organizer of the Leninist groups which, later on, would be assumed by ‘Lotta Comunista’”.

This way he arrived at the formulation of the Theses of 1957 upon the imperialistic development, the length of the counter-revolutionary phase and the problem of building a working-class party: it was necessary, in his view, to detach the “Communist Left” from the social-imperialistic tide accelerated by the de-Stalinization.

With these Theses Cervetto fought against the social-democratic turn of the former working-class parties. In November, 1957, he said: “[…] The bureaucratization of such parties [PCI and PSI] is not a degeneration of the workers’ movement, it is definitely a necessity for the capitalist-system, which is trying to establish, through its political agents, its hegemony upon the workers’ movement itself. It is absurd to think of competing with this particular form of organization of the capitalist hegemony”. Hence the necessity to build a revolutionary party; a process which will bring to the founding of “Lotta Comunista”.

The revolutionary party is expressed by the objective conditions: «It cannot be the fruit of pure theoretical and political will». Without these objective conditions, which develop when the proletarian masses are pressed, by a situation of deep economic crisis, to express a revolutionary movement from below, «the struggle of the revolutionary party against the reformist super-structure is very limited and can obtain only quite partial results».

In such a counter-revolutionary situation, the struggle is «forcibly reduced to the recovery and formation of cadres».

“The party—Cervetto writes—develops itself with a daily work of organization and education of the proletariat, it can’t rely upon the waves of spontaneity”.

Here was starting for Cervetto a second season of theoretical study. The themes he deals with are those of Lenin’s strategy on the role of the October Revolution as accelerator of the capitalistic development in Asia, the fight against the influence of Maoist ideology in Italy, the future role of China in inter-imperialistic struggles, Comintern’s policy on the “national and colonial” question. Some titles on these subjects are: “Lenin and the Chinese revolution” (a series of articles appeared in Azione Comunista in 1962 and later, in 1966, published as a pamphlet by Lotta Comunista); “The Indonesian counter-revolution”, (printed in form of articles in “Lotta Comunista” in 1966 and later published as pamphlet by Edizioni Lotta Comunista, Roma, in 1969); “The Maoist theory of the United Front” written in 1969 and published as a pamphlet in 1972.

Meanwhile he studied Lenin’s conception on political action as a scientific basis for the solution of the «problems left unresolved by Bordiga’s objectivism and by Trotsky’s subjectivism», resumed in his book “Class Struggles and the Revolutionary Party”, Edizioni Lotta Comunista, Roma, 1966 (first published in a series of articles in Azione Comunista, 1964). Cervetto knew Bordiga and adopted his formulation of “State Capitalism” related to Soviet Russia. But he criticized the position, taken by Bordiga after WWII, about a kind of American “super-imperialism”. “It’s evident in Bordiga’s thought”, he writes in “La difficile questione dei tempi” [‘The Difficult Question of Times”] “an abnormal over-evaluation of the strength of the United States, of the weakness of Europe and of the destruction of world fix capital [made during the war]”, it looks as though there were “a new form of domination, which temporarily annuls the acuteness of inter-imperialistic conflicts”. Because of this position”, so goes Cervetto’s criticism “Bordiga has retired in a sort of attendismo” (a position of inaction), limiting political action to “defending the program” and thus involuntarily obstructing the formation of an active revolutionary party in Italy.

With regards to the times and duration of the counter-revolutionary period, Cervetto recalled the Asian question, the industrialization of India and China, that is, the time necessary for these countries to reach an “intermediate” level of development, leading to capital exports and their imperialistic maturation.

The consolidation and development of the Leninist party in Italy, allowed Cervetto to begin the long and systematical ordering of his 50 years theoretical activity, in order to issue an organic edition of the main subjects of his analysis.

L’imperialismo unitario (Unitary Imperialism), which covers the analysis of thirty years of imperialistic development, from the 1950s to 1980, published in 1981.

Il ciclo politico del capitalismo di Stato, 1950-1967 (The Political Cycle of State Capitalism, 1950-1967), Milan, 1989: Stalinism is considered as the supporter of this particular form of capitalistic exploitation.

La contesa mondiale (The Global Competition), Milan, 1990, in which the imperialistic struggles of the 1980s are understood as “a first conclusion of a war of capitals lasted fifty years”: on the Eastern front, Russia has lost while Germany has won, while on the Western front the final result is still open.

La difficile questione dei tempi (The Difficult Question of Times), Milan, 1990, in which Cervetto intervenes in the debate upon the times of revolution between Stalin, Trotsky and Bordiga: while it is possible to scientifically recognize the general tendency of capitalism and to foresee its inevitable outcomes, it is impossible to foresee the times of its maturity, also determined by the very presence of an active factor such as the revolutionary party.

L'ineguale sviluppo politico, 1968-1979 (The Uneven Political Development, 1968-1979), Milan, 1991: an analysis of the development of Italian capitalism during the 1970s and of the deep unbalance between the movements of economy and of the political over-structure.

Finally, his studies in the materialistic conception of politics, started in the middle 70s, are published in L'involucro politico (The Political Shell), 1994.