Antonio Gramsci 1891-1937

Antonio Gramsci

The Como conference: Resolutions

Resolutions published in Lo Stato Operaio, 16 May 1924.


Text from Antonio Gramsci 'Selections from political writings (1921-1926)', translated and edited by Quintin Hoare (Lawrence and Wishart, London 1978), transcribed to the www with the kind permission of Quintin Hoare.


I

The majority of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Italy, at the moment in which the discussion on tactics and the internal situation in the party is being initiated, in order to clarify its position:

1. Declares that it feels itself to be and is continuing the activity of the groups which, by creating the Communist Party in Italy, laid the basis for resolving the historical problem posed for the class of workers and peasants in Italy by the defeat and disintegration of the movement which, for more than thirty years, had been led by the Italian Socialist Party.

2. Recognizes that after the split Congress at Livorno, all the party's activity had to take account of, and suffered the consequences of: the need to resolve before all else the problem of how to root in the consciousness of the masses the necessity for the Communist Party's existence; the need to give the Communist Party a definite personality and physiognomy; and the need to create a complete, solid organizational and political apparatus which would allow it to fulfil its tasks in a normal fashion.

3. As for the differences which have arisen between the party and the International, it asserts that these have not been the result of conflicting assessments of the general Italian situation, but have concerned the repercussions which the measures proposed by the International would have upon the party's internal constitution, upon its process of formation and evolution, and upon the position which it was slowly winning in the consciousness of the Italian working masses, as against the other proletarian or so-called proletarian parties.

4. Repeats that the theses of the Rome Congress were voted as an orientation for the discussion at the Fourth Congress, and not as an action programme; and that in voting for them the majority of the party had in mind the need to keep the entire party united around its fundamental nucleus, avoiding any differentiation which might have diminished and perhaps destroyed its capacity for development or for action. This was all the more the case because at the Rome Congress the existence of liquidationist tendencies inside the party had already become clear, grouped in the form of an artificial, improvised minority.

5. Recognizes that from the time of the Fourth Congress and the June Plenum, the majority of the party has begun to revise and rework its positions, and that this has allowed the party as such to apply the Comintern's decisions loyally and in a disciplined way. It asserts that today, having overcome the period of greatest demoralization, in which every activity had to be designed to reduce the dispersal of our forces to the minimum, the party is in a position to arrive at a dispassionate and serene judgement of its past, acknowledging the errors and weaknesses there have been in its activity. However, it considers that it would be very damaging to deliver such a judgement on the party's work and positions without taking into account what the needs and vital requirements of our organism were in the past. Only in this way can examination of the past be a preparation for working out a political programme for the future. The deep political error of the comrades who at the Enlarged Executive meeting presented themselves at the head of the so-called minority group consists precisely, in our view, in having expressed judgements whereby they placed themselves and remained outside the essential continuity of our organism, and encouraged tendencies towards its liquidation.

6. Appeals to those comrades who have not accepted to collaborate in applying the Communist International's tactics in Italy, or its specific recommendations about relations between the Communist Party of Italy and the Italian Socialist Party, to draw back from their present attitude and to feel the duty of collaborating with the present majority of the Central Committee in leading the party; and asserts that collaboration with them must take place on the basis of a complete and loyal acceptance of the Communist International's programme, both as regards the united front tactic and as regards the action which the Comintern is carrying out to endow the sections of the International, conceived of as the world party of the revolutionary working class, with organizational solidity, theoretical awareness and a common line of action.

7. Hopes therefore that in pursuit of the struggle against tendencies and individuals who continue to question in practice the fundamental principles which the Communist Party must observe in its work, and who are recalcitrant to its discipline of thought and action, the formation of any faction within the Communist Party will be eliminated; and that under the guidance of the International Executive Committee, the work of reinforcing and developing a great mass party will be carried forward, a party capable of leading the workers and peasants of Italy towards the struggles upon which their liberation depends.

Signed:Egidio Gennari, Palmiro Togliatti, Mauro Scoccimarro, Ennio Gnudi, Vittorio Flecchia, Isidoro Azzario, Camilla Ravera, Alfonso Leonetti, Antonio Gramsci, Umberto Terracini

II

The minority of the Central Committee:

1. - Indicates the great importance of the discussion which is about to open up inside the party, which for the first time since it was founded is being called upon to give its opinions on key problems of the international and Italian communist movement.

2. Considers that such a discussion must provide an organic and rational solution to the disarray and grave damage which have been inflicted on the party's activity and on the destiny of the proletarian movement in Italy by the disagreement between the former Executive Committee of the party - and the majority established at the Rome Congress in general - and the Communist International.

3. Points to the responsibility of the present majority of the Central Committee which, although not being in agreement with the Rome Theses, has guided the views of the party as a whole in their spirit, even when some of its members as they later claimed did not entirely agree with them; and which made those Theses the basis for its political position at the Fourth Congress, thus continuing and aggravating an artifical and arbitrary dispute between the Italian Communist Party and the Communist International, and reducing the effectiveness of the party's activity among the masses.

4. States that in such a discussion, the necessary examination of the Communist Party's political and organizational activity in Italy, and of the tactics followed by it in the years 1921-4, must be carried out - in conjunction with an examination of the situation in the various sections of the Communist International - in the spirit and with the aim of deriving from it the lessons needed to determine the party's future tactics and future programme of work.

Signed:Angelo Tasca, Antonio Graziadei, Giovanni Roveda, Giuseppe Vota

III

Following the passing of the well-known resolution from the majority of the party's Central Committee, since there does not exist within the party anything resembling a constituted faction, and in view of the short period within which the debate authorized by the leadership is to take place, I have thought it appropriate to simply draw up a resolution which reflects the thinking of those comrades who have followed the same course of action that I have with respect to the leadership of the party in recent years, without even having the time to consult them in advance. In the course of the debate, short though it will be, it will be possible to prepare theses which are a little less, incomplete than this resolution, and in which the opinions of comrades who are prepared to support the resolution will be taken into acount.
Amadeo Bordiga

1. The group of comrades who led the party in the period following the Livorno Congress considers the need to render the theoretical and political consciousness of the part precise and complete, and its organization well-defined and solid, not to be just a preliminary and occasional task, but a permanent necessity for communist parties, which cannot be in contradiction with the development of the best tactical activity, just as the latter cannot come into in contradiction with the former. This is in accordance with the criteria formulated at length in the Theses on Tactics of the Rome Congress, which faithfully represent the opinions of the group in question.

2. The differences which have arisen between the Communist Party of Italy and the Communist International had their source in a different evaluation of the problems inherent in the tactics, in the internal organization, and in the leadership work of the International as a whole; only as a specific aspect of the overall difference were they reflected in the evaluation of the Italian situation and the task of the PCI.

3. The old Executive of the PCI was able to apply the line of action which corresponded to its views up till the strike of August 1922. That strike, with all the activity to which it led, amounted to an example of the application of the tactic of winning the masses through the united front, as set out in the Rome Theses. And the situation in which it culminated, with the defeat of the proletariat, for which the other parties and groups which took part in and led the strike were responsible, should have been further developed - despite the general retreat of the Italian working class - with a period of totally autonomous activity by the PCI, denouncing in the most explicit manner as incapable of class action all the other above-mentioned parties and groups, and making itself the centre of proletarian resistance and resurgence against the victorious capitalist offensive.

4. At such a culminating moment, it appeared to the Communist international that the path to win greater forces in Italy was, instead, through splitting the PSI and through fusion of the maximalists with our party. From that moment the International, as was its incontestable right, in practice abrogated to itself leadership of our activity in Italy and directed it towards the new objective. At once, the leaders of the PCI felt themselves and proclaimed themselves to be incompatible with conducting such a policy, with which they did not agree. At the Fourth Congress, after having once again upheld their point of view in the commission-meetings, they made clear their attitude by not speaking against the new policy in the Plenary Session of the Congress. They pledged the most total discipline of the whole party, and of themselves as militants of that party, but they explicitly declined the task of its political leadership.

5. The most important question which arose in this field after the Fourth Congress was not the PCI's sabotage of the Communist International's decisions. The old leaders loyally respected the line just indicated, which did not consist in taking responsibility for achieving fusion, which they believed to be in the first place harmful and secondarily - impossible, but in demanding that they be immediately replaced. Fusion did not take place, as a result of the attitude of the maximalists, and in any case the International could, if it had so wished, have proceeded to the requested replacement of the party leaders before the Enlarged Executive of June 1923. No action against fusion can be cited on the part of the old leaders, as the documents bear witness.

6. The experience of the party's activity in that period, i.e. after August 1922 - although it cannot be denied that the change of course occurred at a moment which makes very problematical any judgement on the respective results of the old and of the new policy - while it does not show a balance-sheet of speedy conquest of new forces and political positions, other than along the lines advocated by the old leaders, did not lead to any organic elaboration of a new political consciousness and practice. The oscillating attitudes towards the PSI and its left wing, the blurring of the boundary between the Communist forces and the others, the creation of dual political or press organisms, etc. - all these things show that to the method in question, there corresponded a weakening of the party's precise orientation and organizational discipline, leading to an undeniable state of disarray and discontent among the comrades. Nevertheless, possibilities for successful activity continued to present themselves to the party, which in the material which composes it and in its old structures continues to show its revolutionary capacities, in contrast with the continual criticisms with which some people have sought to teach it the best course - often factually mistaken, and sometimes fatuous and liphtminded.

7. The problems of the PCI's activity can only be resolved on the basis of international discussions and decisions concerning the whole orientation of the Communist International. The Left of the PCI can formulate an action programme for the party for today and tomorrow, but only if it bases this on the premise that its own opinions on the tactics, organization and leadership of the Communist International will prevail in the international meetings, thus maintaining its classical programmatic postulates in full force, just as they are engraved in the founding documents provided by Lenin and inspired by the most powerful current of revolutionary Marxism.

8. Only if in such a discussion a totality of concordant views is achieved, and the PCI Left comes to find itself on the terrain of the Communist International majority in the deliberations in question, will the Left be able to participate in the new leadership of the party.

9. The minority of the PCI, i.e. its right wing, corresponds in part to the tendency which places itself on the present tactical terrain of the Communist International, but in part too it represents the survival of immature elements which retain a centrist mentality. Such a group could play the role of liquidating the tradition of the party, if it were to coincide with the activity of groups aiming to liquidate the glorious political tradition of the Communist International. Against this danger, the Left of the PCI will be the most energetic and resolute in the struggle.

10. It is undeniable that in the International, functioning as the world communist party, organic centralization and discipline exclude the existence of factions or groups able to either take on the leadership of national parties or not, as now occurs in all countries. The PCI Left is for the most speedy attainment of this objective; but it considers that it cannot be achieved by mechanical decisions and fiats, but only by ensuring the correct historical development of the international communist party, which must involve a parallel clarification of political ideology, unambiguous definition of tactics and organizational consolidation.

The International without factions will be one in which there will prevail criteria of political coherence and continuity which make impossible: dual local organizations; fusions; the admission of members not according to the statutory provisions, but with a sudden allocation of important leading functions through negotiations and compromises; political blocs; agitation for unclear demands which may come into conflict with the content of our programme, like that for a workers' government, and so on. If the International were to threaten to evolve in the opposite direction, the emergence of an international left opposition would be an absolute revolutionary and communist necessity. The Left of the PCI is confident that this unhappy eventuality will, by clear decisions of the forthcoming Congress, be unequivocally excluded, for reasons of principle and as a consequence of the most recent experiences of international communist activity; and that the communists will continue, without the compromises and manceuvres of an illusory political diplomacy, a simultaneous pitiless struggle against bourgeois reaction, and against the opportunism of all kinds which comes to nestle among the workers, as a necessary and natural ally of the former.

Signed: Amadeo Bordiga, Bruno Fortichiari, Ruggero Grieco Luigi Repossi