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(en) Preface & Introduction to the 1977 (Italian) ORA edition of the OrganizationalPlatform of the Libertarian Communists

From Worker <a-infos-en@ainfos.ca>
Date Sun, 6 Oct 2002 12:16:29 -0400 (EDT)

      A - I N F O S  N E W S  S E R V I C E

Following the political and social eruption of 1968, dozens of
young anarchist groups all over Italy (and in fact all over
western Europe) were to re-discover the "Organizational Platform
of the Libertarian Communists", a document which had already
sparked bitter debate among anarchists of the time and which
continued to enthuse or arouse condemnation throughout the
following decades.

In the early '70s, a collective of anarchist militants in the
Italian region of Puglia (from the towns of Bari, Foggia,
Barletta, Bisceglie, Molfetta and Altamura) accepted the
challenge thrown down by the "Platform" and attempted to
establish an anarchist organization based on theses (theory,
strategy, tactics) shared by its members.

>From this was born the Revolutionary Anarchist Organization
(ORA, 1975-1986, with sections and members in the regions of
Puglia, Campania, Marches, Emilia, Lombardy, Veneto and
Piedmont) and, following its amalgamation with the Union of
Tuscan Anarchist Communists (UCAT), the Federation of Anarchist
Communists (FdCA, 1986-present, with sections and members in
Tuscany, Marches, Lombardy, Friuli, Liguria, Puglia and Emilia).

In 1977, the ORA, which was still a regional organization at the
time, published an edition of the "Platform" as part of a series
known as "StoriaDocumenti". The following Preface and
Introduction were written for this publication.

Today, 25 years after its first appearance, the text which we
now present is still an extremely useful analysis of a document
which continues to be a loud call for anarchists to dedicate
themselves to the class struggle, to working in the mass
organizations of the workers and in the anticapitalist
movements. This work requires analysis, planning, coherence and
co-ordination in our political action and a unitary vision of
the objectives which we need to reach. Hence the need for a
Union of Anarchists which can overcome the custom of synthesis
between diferent anarchist currents, and instead experiment a
practice of unity based on theoretical-strategic theses and on a
political programme. And in order to reach this unity, it is
necessary to engage in an internal debate which is so intense
that it forces each militant to assume responsibility for the
collective decisions which have been made.

October 2002



[From the first pamphlet in the series "StoriaDocumenti"
containing the 1926 Platform and the debate of the time,
published in Bari in May 1977 by the Organizzazione
Rivoluzionaria Anarchica [Revolutionary Anarchist Organization])


The Platform, often known as Arshinov's Platform, was not his
alone, but that of a group of Russian anarchist communists who
had survived the Russian Revolution and the Leninist victory
over the revolutionary front. The group included, for example,
Nestor Makhno and Ida Mett. All of them had first-hand
experience of the dramatic events of the Russian Revolution, and
certainly no less so than Arshinov.

These comrades had settled in Paris during the '20s and had
established a group by the name of "Dyelo Truda" which carried
out intensive publicity work. Their experiences had provided
them with not only a clear, pitiless vision of the faults of
anarchism amid the fire of revolutionary struggle, but also with
a violent repulsion towards those comrades who had contributed
more than others to the confusion among anarchists in Russia and
a tremendous urgency to change the state of the movement (we
must remember that the international scene at the time was in
great turmoil).

This perhaps contributed to the somewhat messianic tones in
which the Platform was presented. However, this in no way
excuses the exaggerated resentment of certain comrades towards
the Platform, resentment which may be justified with regard to
the form and the way it was presented, but not with regard to
the content.

Some things in the Platform, although important, were not
clarified or perhaps not fully explained. Other points are
simply mistaken. The organizational structure proposed in the
Platform is wrong from an anarchist perspective. The existence
of organisms and positions holding delegated political powers
from the assembly of the organization's members is unacceptable.
The powers which the comrades of "Dyelo Truda" wished to give
the secretariats and secretaries in effect admits functions
which go beyond the expression of policies which have previously
been decided by the whole organization, and provides them with
real tasks of direction. This must be rejected. A structure of
this type is incompatible with the concept of collective
responsibility, which foresees conscious adhesion to policies
and their continual acceptance by all the members and which
excludes in the strongest possible way any decision-making
mechanism outside the assembly that seeks to represent the
assembly and bind it through collective responsibility.

These negative aspects, however, do not take away what the
Russian comrades have given us with their Platform, its enormous
value as a proposal and even more so as a milestone in
theoretical-practical confrontation.

The fact is that, at an international level, although many
comrades raised a fierce din over the debate, they were unable
to discern the positive elements form the negative or debatable
points, and cherish what was good. As usual, it was the entire
movement which paid the price, and not just the Russian

Arshinov afterwards became a Bolshevik and the Platform became
known by all and sundry as "Arshinov's Platform". This absurd
occult game is the last thing we need. For us, and for history,
it is the Platform of Dyelo Truda, of a group of Russian
comrades, all demonstrably anarchist communists to the last


Much has been said within the Italian movement about the Dyelo
Truda Platform, above all in the last decade. So many words and
so much prejudice.

If an explanation is needed, it could be said that those who
re-launched the debate a few years ago did not have the
necessary political clarity to explain to the movement the real,
current reasons which lay behind the need for discussion. On the
other hand, those who reacted hysterically to this initiative
with condemnations and excommunications, evidently did not have
the ability and/or the desire to affront a debate where, rather
than the Platform in question, it was the real needs of Italian
anarchism which were at stake.

The Dyelo Truda Platform wished to raise four points:
1.	class struggle
2.	the relationship between specific organizations and mass
organizations (organizational dualism)
3.	theoretical unity of the specific organization
4.	collective responsibility


This point has often been the subject of a false comparison. On
the one hand, that known by some as "anarchist humanism", on the
other, "class struggle". The former is held to be the real
content of the libertarian struggle, its objective the
enhancement of mankind and its needs without the chains of
exploitation and, therefore, class divisions. The latter is held
to be marxist and leninist ideology which uses the class
struggle to shift power to a new class, that is to say to a new

The fact is that we must not talk here about ideology or, in
other words, imagine we can combat the ideological distortions
that the marxist-leninists brought to the revolutionary struggle
of the exploited class using some new ideology created by a
(good) vanguard like the anarchists.

It seems to us, instead, that those who distort the
revolutionary appeals of the masses in their minds need to be
opposed by ? the revolutionary masses themselves.

The historical facts that have provided anarchism with its own
historical space and vigour, have been the revolts by one social
class which, for the very reason that as a class it has been
forcibly deprived of labour, time and self-determination, has
rebelled against the other class, the exploiter class.

The latter gains immediate advantage from class divisions and
tries to obfuscate the explosive reality with interclass
ideology. The exploited, instead, have everything to lose from
this division, both in the present and in the future. It is, in
fact, from them that the idea of the destruction of classes was

The first step, therefore, is to accept their class struggle
against class, and the idea of equality against the practice of

Once this terrain has been won, it is then necessary to fight
against the ideology of the "dictatorship of the exploited",
which we know well makes no revolutionary sense. The struggle of
the exploited class must not degenerate into a "dictatorship of
the class". After all, it is the exploited who have pursued a
classless society (and only they who can do so). 

To sum up: the exploited assert their existence and their needs
by fighting against the exploiter class. When, during this
struggle, the proletariat asserts (as it almost always does) the
idea of a society without classes, then those in a dominating
position react more forcibly and the struggle against this class
by the exploited class becomes ever more necessary.

At this stage there is the risk that the falsely revolutionary
idea of the "dictatorship of the proletariat" can be expressed.
In other words, that a new dominating class be born. The
guarantee that this does not happen lies in the clarity of the
idea of equality, that is to say that this idea rests in the
hands of the only people in whose interest it is to keep the
idea alive - the exploited masses. They must always remain as a
compact, autonomous class together with anyone else who joins
them in the revolutionary struggle, every time the risk of the
formation of a more or less dominating class rears its head.

And, we repeat, the only power which has the capacity to bring
about equality and the only material interest to pursue it, is
found amongst the exploited masses, on the precise condition
that they always remain united and that they destroy classes of
any type which thrive on inequality. Everything outside this,
outside the history of revolutions, is simply a mass of
dangerous mental exercises which only serve to confuse.

It is not a coincidence that the western bourgeoisie and the
eastern "socialist" bureaucracies both tell us that we are all
equal and that in their societies either there exist no class
divisions or that they are fast disappearing. They are simply
trying to deny the existence of their dominion. We will have no
truck with this idea.


On this point there has been, unfortunately, little (if any)
serious debate, aside from various superficial mentions and
recent (and quite justifiably worried) awakenings.

Revolutionary anarchist militants must unite with the exploited
masses, but at the same time they must be able to carry out
their propaganda in order to bring the masses' own history to
their attention, to point out the past mistakes and victories on
the road of revolution - an element of clarity is necessary.

The exploited masses must organize their strength and clarity in
their struggle against the exploiter class: the material
possibility that a classless, self-organized society can be
brought about lies in just this.

Anarchist revolutionaries together with the exploited must
organize themselves by making the most of the specific qualities
they can lend to the social revolution, but these qualities will
have no sense if they are not harmonized. The masses need
dialogue with those who provide them with the elements to defeat
the dominant ideological mystifications in the light of the
history of the revolutionary masses. The does not, however, mean
that this clarity cannot change from a possible revolutionary
weapon into a real and active revolutionary weapon in the hands
of the masses alone, that they alone can build the new society.

This enormous problem cannot be resolved by naturally cancelling
one of the two terms, that is to say, by expecting that only
those who are in the specific anarchist communist organization
can make the revolution, or that it is enough to organize the
anger of the exploited without offering the clarity of
revolutionary vision in order to reach anarchist communism.

What is serious is that often one or other of these two errors
is committed as a result of simple short-sightedness with regard
to the real problem.

We urgently need to recognize our backwardness in this area. It
is one of the cardinal points of the struggle against the
political and labour organizations controlled by the dominating
class, in other words, in our struggle for a social revolution.

In conclusion, the specific organization of the anarchist
communists and the organization of all the exploited masses must
exist and express themselves in their specific areas. But at the
same time, they must harmonize more and more in the
revolutionary struggle, or face defeat.


An organization of synthesis or of tendency? In the days when
the Platform first appeared, this was a lively, explicit debate
within the anarchist movement. Today, instead, it seems that
everyone is opting for an organization of tendency or, at least,
it seems that the polemics have become blurred or have run out
of steam. Unfortunately, there is still little clarity and for
this reason the matter should be well debated.

Synthesis is the union of all those who look to anarchism,
irrespective of the various theoretical and strategic
interpretations held by each, basing themselves on the sole
necessity that anarchists be able to co-ordinate themselves when
and how they wish, on the basis of activities carried out at the

The unitary tendency, instead, does not place the organization
at the source of the needs of the moment, but rather at the
service of a common theoretical-strategic line which is shared
by all the comrades who organize together. If you like, it could
be said that both positions require unitary tendency in order to
create organization, but they differ noticeably in just how
unitary they need to be, ranging from simply declaring oneself
to be anarchist ("pure" synthesis) to precision of strategic
unity (tendency). In terms of the movement, it is a matter of
the problem of anarchist pluralism. Let us take for granted the
existence of several tendencies within anarchism. We then have
two choices: either expect all those who call themselves
anarchists to survive politically, united as part of the same
organism whatever the effect of their actions be with respect to
the exploited and the social revolution (even if some forms of
anarchist political practice become outmoded as a result of
historical facts), or hold that each tendency should organize
itself, act and establish its effectiveness autonomously from
the others without fear of prejudiced criticism.

We believe that it is not enough to call oneself anarchist in
order to be revolutionary, in order to be as politically useful
as possible in the revolution of the exploited masses. If we
wish to be fair to them, we must allow a possible relationship
between the masses and the various anarchist tendencies so that
these tendencies can be seen for what they are and not just as
part of one great, confused melting pot. The result in that case
is confusion, even between anarchists (where only those who
thrive on confusion benefit) and represents a missed opportunity
for anarchism within the social revolution. For this reason, the
best way to honour the pluralism of anarchist tendencies is for
them to present themselves in the struggle with clear, specific
features, with the possibility to express them and with the
freedom to debate with each other politically and, if necessary,
to criticize each other.

Let us see the real differences (neither blown out of proportion
nor artificially reduced). Let us see their comparison and
evaluate them without distortions. Let us no longer pay the
price of powerless confusion for the sake of some abstract,
purely mental, unity. Let each tendency assume its
responsibilities towards the exploited and the social revolution
- those who make mistakes can only correct themselves in this
way. Our comrades know full well how important this problem is
for the Italian anarchist movement, and has been since the last


An organization is altogether another thing to an individual.
Neither is it a simple hotchpotch of individuals. We organize in
order to be able to act in a stronger, more incisive way.
Libertarian society could certainly not afford to have people
who only think of their own interests. On the contrary, a
successful libertarian society is based on the fact that, with
the abolition of the weapons of dominion of man over man,
through one's own autonomous conscience, each member of society
keeps the collective needs in mind. It is an ambitious project
of overcoming today's individualism gradually and without
external impositions. A specific organization of militants who
fight for this type of society and who move together as a result
of their shared theoretical and tactical vision, cannot but base
itself on collective responsibility.

In our opinion, Malatesta did reach agreement with Makhno on the
substance of the matter, even though he spoke of the moral
responsibility of the individual. But it is clear that it is the
individual who contributes to the creation of the collective
responsibility of the organization with an act of moral
responsibility. This comes about at the moment when theoretical
and strategic unity, as a real product of the members of the
specific organization, determine the general line to be followed
and the ways in which it can be revised and changed. It is
around the theoretical and strategic axis, continuously revised
and clarified, and around the various tactics which, while not
necessarily equal, do not clash with the general line, that we
can build an organization as the unitary political conscience of
all its members.

With the consequent freedom of choice from among different
tactics, continually ensuring that the discussion of tactics
follows the general line.

If there is clarity on this point and, as long as they accept
the principle of the need for a line (even if they are a
majority), those who do not agree with the old
theoretical-strategic line will be the first to try to build a
new organization which can successfully express their general
political vision.

All this in terms of collective responsibility means that
someone joins an organization for the very reason that he or she
shares its policies and, therefore, accepts the relationship of
responsibility with all the other members. It means that on
particular tactical matters, a comrade can choose to agree or
disagree with the line and take on the responsibility of doing
no more or no less than what s/he said that s/he would do.

If we don't want people to accept a platform which they will not
then follow and (even worse) not revise regularly, then let us
accept the principle of collective responsibility and
furthermore (and this is important), let us make it work by
giving the organization efficient structures of assembly
decision-making. This is something which the movement today is
sorely lacking.

These four points are all enormously important in Italy today.
On the downside, however, we are behind in our work of
clarifying them. There has been enough confusion, what between
reactionary "excommunications" and fanfared advances. In our
opinion, the absurd excommunications on the one hand and the
inability to reply to them clearly on the other have only
served, and will only continue to serve, to keep the very
problems which Dyelo Truda wished to eliminate with their
Platform in a state of suspense, unaddressed and unresolved. The
proof of this is the fact that the Italian anarchist communist
movement still finds itself deprived of those instruments which
it should by now have developed, or at the very least examined
in a serious way.

This state of the movement is clearly visible both in the daily
union of many comrades and groups, and often in the agendas of
the conventions of those organizations who have thus far
undervalued the importance of these matters.

We do not wish to add any other specific points. Just one
serious observation - on this and other matters, let us confront
each other on the basis of real results. Let's not play the
games of our enemies who prefer to fish in the troubled waters
of confusion and impotence.


Federazione dei Comunisti Anarchici (FdCA)
Ufficio Relazioni Internazionali: internazionale@fdca.it

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