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International Socialism, Winter 2005


Extracts from Bertinotti’s Theses


From International Socialism 2 : 105, Winter 2005.
Copyright © International Socialism.
Copied with thanks from the International Socialism Website.
Marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for ETOL.


Uncertainty dominates our epoch ... The slogan ‘Socialism or barbarism’ isn’t irrelevant today ...

Rifondazione has recently experienced good results in European and local elections ... in a situation in which the attempt by the right to stabilise the Italian political system has blown up in their faces ... A completely new political and social phase is opening up in Italy, but dealing with it means more than just getting rid of Berlusconi. What is vital is dealing with the underlying causes behind his victory. The problem is building an alternative within society: it’s a question of rewriting the country’s material constitution after neo-liberalism’s devastation ...

A new period of utter instability has begun. Political life is criss-crossed by two opposing tendencies ... Democracy is passing through a deep crisis, in which the very concept of popular sovereignty could be eliminated. We could be facing a future in which there is no democracy ...

The great and terrible 20th century witnessed, through class struggle, the emergence of the masses into political life and ... wonderful experiences of emancipation ... However, at the same time, it was the century in which terrible tragedies took place (two world wars, fascism and Nazism, the horrors of Auschwitz) ... The working class was the main protagonist of the century, but it was defeated primarily due to a failure where a state was built in a post-revolutionary society, where the demands for liberation which had led to its birth were overturned in the shape of dramatic oppression ... Therefore criticism of Stalinism isn’t simply criticism of the degeneration of those systems but of the hard core which determined that outcome, and this is why it is an unavoidable bedrock in any new idea of communism and of how to build it ... What has emerged is the possibility of a left wing answer to the defeats of the 20th century and the crisis of the labour movement.

The scope of our theoretical elaboration is the building of participatory democracy and conflict ... The main challenge facing us is the creation of a participatory democracy in which the movements’ critique can be transformed into a left wing political and programmatic alternative ... Democracy as in the propulsive force of participation and peace, as the creation of new relations within society and the state, is the basic building block in the immediate rebirth of a process for the transformation of capitalist society ...

Its necessity comes from ... the urgent need to defeat the Berlusconi government and to build an alternative to it ... This is why today we are working towards the goal of a coalition of forces to create a programmatic alternative for government, in which the PRC and alternative left wing forces will all act together as protagonists. We’re calling this coalition ‘democratic’ so as to define its first main task: building democracy and participation.

Creating democracy and participation ... is the primary element in a reforming programme ... This is the first basic reform that is necessary ... Another ... is the achievement of strategic autonomy by the alternative left – and the PRC along with it – from a government which it is nevertheless possible to be part of, thanks to the programmatic agreement among all the forces that are today in opposition to the Berlusconi government ...

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