28 April 2010

Article: Against the Myth of Democratic Rights and Liberties

"Communism", the "[c]entral review in English of the Internationalist Communist Group (ICG)", twice published an English translation of the same unsigned (quite likely collectively authored) article originally written in Spanish. While I don't know the date or title of the original article, the first translation was published in November 1983 in issue No. 1 of that review. An improved translation, titled "Against the Myth of Democratic Rights and Liberties", was published in issue No. 8 in July 1993.

The second version of the article can be read free of charge here:


Excerpts: "In the same way as two opposite classes exist, there are two fundamental conceptions of workers' struggle. One is bourgeois, where one criticizes the lack of equality, of democracy, where one should fight for more rights and liberties. The other is proletarian, based on an understanding of the fact that the roots of all those liberties, rights and equalities are essentially of anti-worker type. This leads to the total practical destruction of the democratic State with its equality, rights and liberties. These two opposite conceptions show the contradiction between, on one hand, passive criticism – to improve, reform, and in this way, reiinforce [sic] the exploitation system – and, on the other hand, active criticismm [sic] , our criticism – the destruction of that exploitation system. [...]

"[T]he mass of human rights and liberties correspond exactly to the ideal form of the reproduction of capitalist oppression. Let's see what this ideal form of democracy is and where it comes from. [...] The party of order, the general party of Capital, or in other words, all the bourgeois parties, is totally unable to face the proletariat [...] as an autonomous force and there is nothing more efficient for the bourgeoisie than the mass of human rights and liberties to drown the working-class, to dissolve it in the false concept of the 'people'. When the proletariat stops existing as a class, when each worker is a good citizen, with his liberties, rights and duties, he accepts all the rules of the game that atomize him and drown him in the mass where his specific class interests disappear. As a good citizen, he does not exist as a class, this is the condition for democracy to work. [...]

"Some people will point out that nowhere such rights and liberties can be found, that everywhere there are prisoners, everywhere the right to strike is limited, that in this country the right of property is limited and that in that country only one party is allowed, etc. All this is obvious. Nevertheless, in all these countries, there is a faction of the bourgeoisie that will criticize the lack of democracy of different governments, and to do so, it must have a democratic ideal as reference. This is exactly what we want to explain and denounce. It is the only way to break with the bourgeois criticism of democracy and to recognize the enemy in all the defenders of a pure and perfect democracy. Indeed, as well as democracy being the product and the reflection of the mercantile basis of capitalist society, it is also the reference of all bourgeois criticisms which only aim at correcting the imperfections of democracy [...].

"The right of election means that every 4, 5, 6, 7, ... years, the worker can dress as a citizen to go and choose his oppressors freely. [...] The so-called rights and liberties even give the workers the 'privilege' to choose between the self-named 'worker parties': to choose the one that will be the most capable of directing the State of Capital and to organize the massacre of the proletarians who would tend to ignore the directives of the big 'worker' parties and who would refuse what the majority has decided. [...] The parties never hesitate in using white terror against the workers' class movement, and always in the name of democracy and liberty, of the right to work, of the respect of the trade-union's decisions ... Without any doubt, the same thing will happen every time the workers' association will become a school for communism, every time the question of socialism will stop being a question of words and a struggle will be carried on, not only for the increase in wages, but for the abolition of wage-labour. [...]

"Repression is democratic because it strikes when the workers leave their uniform of citizenship to act as a class, when they stop accepting being a well disciplined army for the valorization of Capital, for which the bourgeoisie had given them these rights and liberties. [...] Repression of all those who do not accept to behave as good citizens is the logical answer to the bourgeois desire for a democratic paradise. [...] As soon as the proletariat organises as a class, tries to attack the Capital dictatorship, democracy shows its terrorist face; as long as its dictatorship holds on firmly, democracy can show its liberal face to the stupid mass. [...] In the same way that, under capitalism, every worker is potentially unemployed, any worker who does not accept the rules of the citizenship game is, potentially, a prisoner. Repression, torture, murder are only applications of democracy. [...]

"For all these reasons, the communist position [...] is to assert without doubt that the organization of the proletariat is based on no right, no law, no liberty conceded by its enemy but on the contrary, is based on illegal action [....] That does not mean that we abandon a strike when it becomes legal, or that we do not publish and distribute revolutionary press when it can circulate legally or that we refuse to get out of prison when a judge sets us free. That would simply be reacting antithetically on the same legal field. [...] To fight on the illegal field means assuming all tasks independently of all democratic rights and liberties, which are only decisions of our enemy and therefore a strategy of the bourgeoisie to fight us." (all italics originally underline)

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