18. Manifesto of the Communist Party, in Karl Marx, The Revolutions of 1848, Harmondsworth 1973, p. 85. [Ed.]
class ideology to transform itself to the point of freeing itself from bourgeois ideology it must receive, from without, the help of science ; it must transform itself under the influence of a new element, radically distinct from ideology: science. The fundamental Leninist thesis of the 'importation' of Marxist science into the working-class movement is thus not an arbitrary thesis or the description of an 'accident' of history; it is founded in necessity, in the nature of ideology itself, and in the absolute limits of the natural development of the 'spontaneous' ideology of the working class.
Very schematically summarized, these are the specific characteristics of ideology.
6. The Union of Marx's Scientific Theory and the
What has just been said regarding, on the one hand, the scientific theory of Marx and, on the other, the nature of ideology, allows us to understand in exactly what terms to pose the problem of the historical emergence, and the existence and action, of Marxist-Leninist organizations.
1. The first cardinal principle was formulated by Marx, Engels, Kautsky and Lenin: the principle of the importation into the existing working-class movement of a scientific doctrine produced outside the working class by Karl Marx, an intellectual of bourgeois origin who rallied to the cause of the proletariat. The working-class movement of 1840s Europe was then subject to either proletarian (anarchist) or more or less petty-bourgeois and utopian (Fourier, Owen, Proudhon) ideologies. By itself, the working class could not break out of the circle of an ideological representation of its goals and means of action; and we know that by virtue of the relay of moralizing, utopian, and thus reformist petty-bourgeois ideology, this ideological representation was, and remained, subjugated by the dominant ideology - that of the bourgeoisie. Even today, social-democratic working-class organizations have remained in this reformist ideological tradition. To conceive the scientific doctrine of socialism, the resources of scientific and philosophical culture, as well as exceptional intellectual capacities, were required. An extraordinary sense of the need to break with ideological forms, to escape their grip, and to discover the terrain of scientific knowledge was necessary. This discovery, this foundation of a new science and philosophy, was the work of Marx's genius, but it was also an unrelenting work, in which - in the most abject poverty - he used all his energies and sacrificed everything to his enterprise. Engels carried on
his work, and Lenin developed it anew. This, then, is the scientific doctrine which, in the course of a long and patient struggle, was imported from without into a working-class movement still given over to ideology, and transformed that movement's theoretical foundations.
2. The second cardinal principle concerns the nature of the historical union sealed between Marx's scientific theory and the working-class movement. This historical union, whose effects dominate all of contemporary history, was by no means an accident, even a happy one. The working-class movement existed before Marx conceived his doctrine; its existence did not, therefore, depend on Marx. The working-class movement is an objective reality, produced by the very necessity of the resistance, the revolt, the economic and political struggle of the working-class - itself produced as an exploited class by the capitalist mode of production. Now, we notice an incontestable historical fact, which has not only survived the worst ordeals (the crushing of the Commune, imperialist wars, suppression of working-class organizations in Italy, Germany and Spain, etc.) but been prodigiously reinforced over the course of time: the most important part - by far - of the working-class movement adopted Marx's scientific theory as its doctrine, and successfully applied this theory in its strategy and tactics as well as in its means and forms of organization and struggle. This adoption was not painless. It took dozens and dozens of years, experiences, trials and struggles for this adoption to be sealed. And even today the struggle continues: the struggle between so-called 'spontaneous' ideological conceptions of the working class - anarchistic, Blanquist, voluntarist, and other ideologies - and the scientific doctrine of Marx and Lenin.
If, then, the working-class movement adopted Marx's scientific doctrine against its incessantly resurgent 'spontaneous' ideological tendencies, and if the working-class movement made this adoption of its own accord, without compulsion, this is because a profound necessity presided over this adoption - over the union of the working-class movement and the scientific doctrine of Marx. This necessity resides in the fact that Marx produced objective knowledge of capitalist society, that he understood and demonstrated the necessity of class struggle, the necessity and the revolutionary role of the working-class movement, and thus provided the working-class movement with the knowledge of the objective laws of its existence, of its goals, and its action. It is because the working-class movement recognized in Marxist doctrine the objective theory of its existence and its action; it is because the working-class movement recognized in Marxist theory the theory that enabled it to understand the reality of the capitalist mode of production and its own struggles; it is because the working-class movement recognized, by
experience, that this doctrine was true, that it imparted to its struggle an objective foundation and genuinely revolutionary objective means - it is for these reasons that the working-class movement adopted Marxist theory. It is because the working-class movement knew itself in Marxist theory that it recognized itself in it. It is the scientific truth of Marxist theory that has sealed its union with the working-class movement and made this union definitive. There is nothing fortuitous in this historical fact; everything here is a matter of necessity, and of its comprehension.
3. The third cardinal principle concerns the process by which this union was finally produced and by which it must unceasingly be maintained, reinforced, and extended. If the 'importation' of Marxist theory required a long haul and a great effort, this is precisely because it was effected through a protracted labour of education and formation in Marxist theory and, at the same time, a long ideological struggle. Marx and Engels had patiently to convince the best - the most dedicated and the most conscious - working-class militants to abandon existing ideological foundations and adopt the scientific foundations of socialism. This protracted work of education took many forms: direct political action by Marx and Engels, theoretical formation of militants in the course of the struggle itself (during the revolutionary period 1848-49), scientific publications, conferences, propaganda, etc.; and naturally, very quickly - once the conditions existed - organizational measures, on the national and then the international plane. In these terms, we can see the history of the First International as the history of the long struggle waged by Marx, Engels and their partisans to make the fundamental principles of Marxist theory prevail in the working-class movement. But at the same time as they were performing this work of education and formation in scientific theory, Marx, Engels and their partisans were constrained to wage a long, patient but harsh struggle against the ideologies that then dominated the working-class movement and its organizations, and against the religious, political and moral ideology of the bourgeoisie. Theoretical formation on the one hand, ideological struggle on the other - these are the two absolutely essential forms, two absolutely essential conditions, which governed the profound transformation of the spontaneous ideology of the working-class movement. These are two tasks which have never ceased, and will never cease, to impose themselves as vital tasks, indispensable to the existence and development of the revolutionary movement in the world - tasks which today condition the passage to socialism, the construction of socialism, and will later condition the transition to Communism.
Theoretical formation, ideological struggle - two notions which must now be examined in more detail.
7. Theoretical Formation and Ideological Struggle
The problem we now examine is distinct from the problem of the nature of Marxist science, distinct from the conditions of the exercise and development of its theoretical practice. We are now presupposing that Marxist science exists as a true living science, which continues to grow and to enrich itself with new discoveries, vis-à-vis the questions that the working-class movement and the development of the sciences pose to it. We are considering Marxist science as existing, as possessing at a given moment of its development a definite body of theoretical principles, analyses, scientific demonstrations, and conclusions - that is, knowledges. And we are asking ourselves the following question: by what means can and must one make this science pass into the working-class movement? By what means can this scientific doctrine be made to pass into the consciousness and the practice of working-class organizations?
To answer this question it is necessary to step back again, this time to examine what the practice of the working-class movement in general consists of, independently of the scientific character of the principles brought to it by Marx.
As soon as the working-class movement gained a certain strength, and endowed itself with a minimum of organization, its practice was subject to objective laws, founded on the class relations of capitalist society as well as the total overall structure of society. The practice of the working-class movement, even in its utopian and reformist organizational forms, unfolds in three planes, corresponding to the three 'levels' constitutive of society: the economic, the political, and the ideological. Nor is this law specific to the working-class movement; it applies to any political movement, whatever its social nature and objectives. Of course, the class nature of different political movements or parties causes the forms of existence of this general law to vary considerably, but this law, with its variations, imposes itself on all political movements. The action of the working-class movement thus necessarily takes the form of a triple struggle: economic struggle, political struggle, ideological struggle.
We know that the economic struggle developed first, in sporadic fashion initially, then in more and more organized forms. In Capital, Marx shows us that the first phases of the proletariat's economic struggle unfolded around several themes, the most important of which were the struggles for the reduction of the working day, to defend and raise wages, etc. Other themes have intervened in the subsequent history of the working-class movement: the struggle for job security, for social benefits (social security), for paid holidays, etc. In all these cases, we are dealing with a struggle waged on the terrain of economic exploitation, and thus at the level of the relations of production themselves. This
struggle corresponds to the immediate practice of the workers, to the sufferings imposed on them as victims of economic exploitation, to their direct experience of this exploitation, and to their direct understanding - in this experience - of the economic fact of exploitation. In large-scale modern industry, wage workers, concentrated by the technical forms of production, directly perceive the class relation of economic exploitation, and they see in the capitalist boss the person who exploits them and benefits from their exploitation. Direct experience of wage labour and economic exploitation cannot furnish knowledge of the mechanisms of the economy of the capitalist mode of production, but is sufficient to make the workers aware of their exploitation and organize and engage in their economic struggle. This struggle is developed in trade unions, created by the workers themselves, without the intervention of Marxist science; these unions can survive and fight without recourse to Marxist science, and that is why trade-union action constitutes the chosen ground for economic reformism - a conception that anticipates the revolutionary transformation of society from economic struggle alone. It is this 'trade-unionist', apolitical-syndicalist conception that feeds the anarcho-syndicalist tradition, with its suspicion of politics, in the working-class movement. This is why Marx could say that trade unionism - that is, the organization of economic struggle on reformist premisses, and the reduction of the struggle of the working-class movement to economic struggle - constitutes the furthest extent, the limit-point of the evolution of the working-class movement 'left to its own devices'.
Whether it wants to or not, however, economic struggle always runs up against political realities that intervene directly and violently in the course of the economic struggle - if only in the form of the repression of protests, strikes and revolts during the workers' economic struggle by the forces of the bourgeois State and law: the police, the army, the courts, etc. From this experience, produced by the economic struggle itself, derives the necessity for a political struggle, distinct from the economic struggle. Here things become more complicated, for workers cannot have an experience of political reality comparable to their everyday experience of the reality of economic exploitation, because the forms of intervention of class political power are often - with the exception of intermittent displays of overt violence - concealed under cover of the 'law', and juridical, moral, or religious justifications of the existence of the State. This is why the political struggle of the working class is much more difficult to conceive and to organize than its economic struggle. To lead and organize this struggle on its real terrain, it is necessary to have recognized - at least partially - the nature and role of the State in the class struggle, the relation between political domination and
its juridical cover on the one hand, and economic exploitation on the other. For this, something more than intermittent, blind experience of certain effects of the existence of the class State is required: a knowledge of the mechanism of bourgeois society. In this domain, the 'spontaneous' conceptions of the proletariat, which govern their political actions, are significantly influenced by bourgeois conceptions, by the juridical, political and moral categories of the bourgeoisie. Whence the utopianism, anarchism and political reformism which can be observed not only at the outset of the political struggle of the working-class movement, but throughout its history. This anarchism and political reformism are incessantly perpetuated and renewed in the working class under the influence of the institutions and ideology of the bourgeoisie.
In the early stages of its political struggle, and in the very limits of that struggle, the working-class movement thus confronts ideological realities, dominated by the ideology of the bourgeois class. This accounts for the third aspect of the struggle of the working-class movement: ideological struggle. In social conflicts the working-class movement, like all other political movements, experiences this fact: every struggle implies the intervention of people's 'consciousness'; every struggle involves a conflict between convictions, beliefs, and representations of the world. Economic struggle and political struggle also imply these ideological conflicts. Ideological struggle is not limited, then, to a particular domain. By means of the representation people have of their world, their place, their role, their condition and their future, ideological struggle embraces the totality of human activities, all the domains of their struggle. Ideological struggle is ubiquitous, because it is indissociable from the conception that people have of their condition in all the forms of their struggle; it is indissociable from the ideas in which people live their relation to society and to its conflicts. There can be no economic or political struggle unless people commit their ideas to it as well as their strength.
Nevertheless, ideological struggle can and must also be considered as a struggle in a specific domain: the domain of ideology, the domain of religious, moral, juridical, political, aesthetic and philosophical ideas. In this regard, ideological struggle is distinct from other forms of struggle: its object is the terrain of the objective reality of ideology, and its goal is, as far as possible, to free this domain from the domination of bourgeois ideology and transform it, in order to make it serve the interests of the working-class movement. Considered thus, ideological struggle is also a specific struggle which unfolds in the domain of ideology and must take account of the nature of this terrain, of the nature and laws of ideology. Without knowledge of the nature, laws and specific mechanisms of ideology; without knowledge of the distinctions within ideology, of the -
dominance of one region over others, of the different degrees (theorized, untheorized) of the existence of ideology; without knowledge of the class nature of ideology; without knowledge of the law of the domination of ideology by the ideology of the dominant class - without all this, ideological struggle is waged blindly. It can obtain some partial results, but never profound and definitive results. It is here that the limits of the natural, 'spontaneous' potential of the working-class movement are most strikingly revealed because, lacking scientific knowledge of the nature and social function of ideology, the 'spontaneous' ideological struggle of the working class is conducted on the basis of an ideology subjected to the insurmountable influence of the ideology of the bourgeois class. It is in the domain of ideological struggle that the necessity of an external intervention - that of science - is felt above all. This intervention is revealed to be even more important given that, as we have just seen, ideological struggle accompanies all other forms of struggle, and inasmuch as it is thus absolutely decisive for all forms of working-class struggle, since the inadequacy of the ideological conceptions of the working class left to itself produces anarchist, anarcho-syndicalist and reformist conceptions of its economic and political struggle.
We can sum up this analysis as follows. Independent of any influence by Marx's scientific theory, the very nature of the working-class movement commits it to a triple struggle: economic struggle, political struggle, ideological struggle. In the unity of these three distinct struggles, the general orientation of the struggle is fixed by the working class's representation of the nature of society and its evolution, the nature of the goals to be attained, and the means to be employed to wage the struggle successfully. The general orientation depends, then, on the ideology of the working-class movement. It is this ideology that directly governs the conception the working class has of its ideological struggle, and thus the manner in which it conducts the struggle to transform existing ideology; it is the ideology of the working class that directly governs its conception of its economic and political struggles, of their relations, and thus of the manner in which it conducts these struggles. At this level, everything depends on the content of the ideology of the working-class movement. Now, we know that this ideology remains a prisoner of the fundamental categories (religious, juridical, moral, political) of the dominant bourgeois class, even in the way the 'spontaneous' ideology of the working class expresses its opposition to the dominant bourgeois ideology.
Accordingly, everything depends on the transformation of the ideology of the working class, on the transformation which can extricate working-class ideology from the influence of bourgeois ideology and
submit it to a new influence - that of the Marxist science of society. It is precisely upon this point that the intervention of Marxist science in the working-class movement, and the union of Marxist science and the working-class movement, are founded and justified. And it is the very nature of ideology and its laws that determines the appropriate means to assure the transformation of the 'spontaneous' reformist ideology of the working-class movement into a new ideology, of a scientific and revolutionary character.
The necessity of this transformation of existing ideology, first of all in the working class itself, and then in the social strata that are its natural allies, allows us to comprehend the nature of the means of this transformation - ideological struggle and theoretical formation. These means constitute two decisive links in the union of Marxist theory and the working-class movement, and thus in the practice of the Marxist working-class movement.
Ideological struggle can be defined as struggle waged in the objective domain of ideology, against the domination of bourgeois ideology, for the transformation of existing ideology (the ideology of the working class, the ideology of the classes which may become its allies), in a way that serves the objective interests of the working-class movement in its struggle for revolution, and then in its struggle for the construction of socialism. Ideological struggle is a struggle in ideology; to be conducted on a correct theoretical basis, it presupposes knowledge of Marx's scientific theory as its absolute condition - it presupposes, then, theoretical formation. These two links - ideological struggle and theoretical formation - while both decisive, are thus not on the same plane; they imply a relation of domination and dependence. It is theoretical formation that governs ideological struggle, that is the theoretical and practical foundation of ideological struggle. In everyday practice, theoretical formation and ideological struggle constantly and necessarily intertwine. One may therefore be tempted to confuse them and misjudge their difference in principle, as well as their hierarchy. This is why it is necessary, from the theoretical perspective, to insist at once on the distinction in principle between theoretical formation and ideological struggle, and on the priority in principle of theoretical formation over ideological struggle.
It is through theoretical formation that Marx's scientific doctrine has been able to penetrate the working-class movement; it is by permanent theoretical education that it continues to penetrate, and to reinforce itself in, the working-class movement. Theoretical formation is an essential task of Communist organizations, a permanent task, which must be pursued without respite and must be incessantly updated, taking account of the development and enrichment of Marxist scientific theory.
It is easy to understand how absolutely indispensable this theoretical formation was in the past in winning the working-class movement to the scientific theory of Marx. Its importance is perhaps less clear today, when Marxist theory directly inspires the most important working-class organizations and the entire life of socialist countries. Nevertheless, despite these spectacular historical results, our theoretical task is not finished, and never can be. When we say that the ideology of the working class has been transformed by Marxist theory, this cannot mean that the working class, which was otherwise 'spontaneously' reformist, has become definitively Marxist today. Only the vanguard of the working class, its most conscious part, possesses a Marxist ideology. The great mass of the working class is still in part subject to an ideology of a reformist character. And among the vanguard of the working class itself, which forms the Communist Party, there exists great unevenness in the degree of theoretical consciousness. Among the vanguard of the working class only the best militants have a genuine theoretical formation - in the area of historical materialism at least - and it is among them that theoreticians and researchers capable of advancing Marxist scientific theory can be recruited. This constant unevenness in the degree of theoretical consciousness underlies the demand for a continually renewed and updated effort of theoretical formation in today's Marxist organizations. This reality also dictates an exact conception of theoretical formation, defined as rigorously as possible.
By theoretical formation, we understand the process of education, study and work by which a militant is put in possession - not only of the conclusions of the two sciences of Marxist theory (historical materialism and dialectical materialism), not only of their theoretical principles, not only of some detailed analyses and demonstrations - but of the totality of the theory, of all its content, all its analyses and demonstrations, all its principles and all its conclusions, in their indissoluble scientific bond. We literally understand, then, a thorough study and assimilation of all the scientific works of primary importance on which the knowledge of Marxist theory rests. We might use a striking formula of Spinoza's to represent this objective: Spinoza said that a science solely of conclusions is not a science, that a true science is a science of premisses (principles) and conclusions in the integral movement of the demonstration of their necessity. Far from being an initiation to simple conclusions, or to principles on the one hand and conclusions on the other, theoretical formation is the thorough assimilation of the demonstration of conclusions on the basis of principles, the assimilation of the profound life of science in its spirit, in its very methods; it is a formation that endows those who receive and acquire it with the very scientific spirit that constitutes science, without which science would not be born, and
would be unable to develop. Theoretical formation is thus something entirely different from simple economic, political or ideological formation. These must be preliminary stages of theoretical formation; they must be clarified by theoretical formation and founded upon it, but cannot be confused with it, because they are only partial stages of it. Practically speaking, there is no real theoretical formation without the study of Marxist science (theory of history, Marxist philosophy) in its purest existence - not only in the texts of Lenin, but also in the work on which all Lenin's texts were based, and to which they constantly refer: Capital. There is no real theoretical formation without an attentive, reflective and thorough study of the most important text of Marxist theory that we possess, a text which is far from having yielded to us all its riches.
Doubtless, theoretical formation thus defined may be considered an ideal - not accessible to everyone, given the great theoretical difficulties of reading and studying Capital, the degree of intellectual formation of militants, and the limited time we have to dedicate ourselves to this work. We can, and absolutely must, concretely envisage the successive and progressive degrees of theoretical formation, and strike a balance between them, according to people and circumstances. But arranging and realizing this balance itself presupposes the effective recognition of theoretical formation, its nature and its necessity; it presupposes an absolutely clear knowledge of the ultimate objective of theoretical formation : to form militants capable of one day becoming men and women of science. To attain this goal one cannot aim too high, and by aiming well and truly it will be possible to define precisely the degrees and appropriate means of progression conducive to this objective.
Why attach such importance to theoretical formation? Because it represents the decisive intermediary link by which it is possible both to develop Marxist theory itself, and to develop the influence of Marxist theory on the entire practice of the Communist Party and thus on the profound transformation of the ideology of the working class. It is this double reason that justifies the exceptional importance which Communist Parties have attributed in their past history, and must attribute in their present and future history, to theoretical formation. It is, in fact, by means of well-conceived theoretical formation that Communist militants - whatever their social origin - can become intellectuals in the strong sense of the term - that is, men and women of science, capable one day of advancing Marxist theoretical research. It is also the precise knowledge of Marxist science which theoretical formation represents that makes it possible to define and implement, on the basis of Marxist-Leninist science, the Party's economic and political activity and its ideological struggle (its objectives and its means).
The Party is not content to proclaim its loyalty to the principles of Marxist-Leninist science. What radically distinguishes the Party from other working-class organizations is not this simple proclamation; it is the concrete, practical application of Marxist scientific theory - in the Party's forms of organization, in its means of action, in its scientific analyses of concrete situations. Not content with proclaiming principles, but applying them in action - this is what distinguishes the Party from other workers' organizations. What finally distinguishes the Party is that - even while recognizing the specificity and necessity of theory, of theoretical practice and theoretical research, and the proper conditions of their existence and exercise - the Party refuses to reserve the knowledge of theory as a monopoly for some specialists, leaders and intellectuals, thereby relegating its practical application to other militants. On the contrary, consistent with Marxist theory itself, the Party wants to unite theory with its practical application as widely as possible, for the good of theory and practice alike.
That is why it must want to extend the broadest possible theoretical formation to the greatest possible number of militants; it must want to educate them constantly in theory, to make them militants in the full sense of the term - capable of analysing and understanding the situation in which they have to act, and thus of helping the Party to define its politics; and also capable, in their own practice, of making new observations and new experiences that will serve as already elaborated raw material on which other, more theoretically formed militants and the best Marxist theoreticians and researchers will work. To say that the entire orientation, and all the principles of action, of the Party rest on Marxist-Leninist theory; to say that practical experience of the political action of the masses and of the Party is indispensable to the development of theory - this is to affirm a fundamental truth which makes sense only if it takes a concrete form, if a real and fruitful bond is created in both directions - through necessary organizational measures - between theory and its development on the one hand, and the economic, political and ideological practice of the Party on the other. Creation of this bond is the Party's task. And the first, absolutely decisive, link of this bond is constituted by the most thorough theoretical formation of the greatest possible number of militants.
In all these matters, it is as imperative to conceive the overall unity of the organic process that relates scientific theory and revolutionary practice in both directions as it is to conceive the specific distinction of the different moments, and the articulation of this unity. Such a double conception is indispensable, as we have just seen, for positive reasons that are at once theoretical and practical. It is equally imperative to be on guard against negative confusions both in the domain of theory and
in that of practice. We will fall into idealism pure and simple if theory is severed from practice, if theory is not given a practical existence - not only in its application, but also in the forms of organization and education that assure the passage of theory into practice and its realization in practice. We will fall into the same idealism if theory is not permitted, in its specific existence, to nourish itself from all the experiences, from all the results and real discoveries, of practice. But we will fall into another, equally grave form of idealism - pragmatism - if we do not recognize the irreplaceable specificity of theoretical practice, if we confuse theory with its application, if - not in words, but in deeds - we treat theory, theoretical research and theoretical formation as purely and simply auxiliary to practice, as 'servants of politics', if we construe theory as pure and simple commentary on immediate political practice. In these two forms of idealism, it can clearly be seen that disastrous practical consequences correspond to the errors of conception, consequences that can - as the history of the working-class movement has shown and still shows - gravely distort not only the working class's own practice, which may succumb to sectarianism or opportunism, but also theory itself, which may be doomed to the stagnation and regression of dogmatic or pragmatic idealism.
The correct distinction between theoretical formation and ideological struggle is thus essential in order to avoid falling into confusions which all ultimately come down to taking ideology for science, and thus reducing science to ideology.
At the end of our analysis, then, we rejoin the cardinal principle with which we began: the distinction between science and ideology. Without this distinction it is impossible to understand the specificity of Marxism as a science, the nature of the union of Marxism and the working-class movement, and all the theoretical and practical consequences that flow therefrom.
It would be as well to remember that this analysis cannot pretend to be exhaustive; that it had to proceed by simplification and schematization; that it leaves a number of important problems unresolved. We hope that it may nevertheless furnish a correct idea of the decisive importance of the distinction between science and ideology, and of the light that this distinction sheds on a whole series of theoretical and practical problems which working-class and popular Marxist organizations have to confront and resolve in their struggle for the revolution, and for the transition to socialism.
Paris, 20 April 1965