Amadeo Bordiga Was the Last Communist to Challenge Stalin to His Face

Pietro Basso

Founder of the Communist Party of Italy in 1921, Amadeo Bordiga is little known today, even among scholars of that country’s Marxist traditions. Fifty years after his death, the first English-language collection of his writings shows why Bordiga shouldn’t be overlooked.

Amadeo Bordiga.

Interview by
David Broder

Even after the demise of the Italian Communist Party (PCI) in 1991, Antonio Gramsci’s influence has spread far beyond the ranks of the Left. But if Gramsci is better known for his reflection on culture and hegemony than for his direct Party involvement, there is an even greater veil of ignorance over his comrade Amadeo Bordiga. The party’s founder in 1921, Bordiga was expelled in 1930, to then be silenced and defamed by a party increasingly in the grip of Stalinism.

This — accompanied with Bordiga’s retreat from political activity under Fascism — have condemned his record to near-total oblivion. Even among his small band of comrades, Bordiga resisted any “celebrity,” in postwar decades publishing his political writings anonymously. Yet while he proudly asserted his own “inflexibility” — claiming only to restore the insights of Karl Marx, in the face of various falsifiers — Bordiga was himself a highly original thinker.

Fifty years since his death, Brill’s Historical Materialism series has published a selected works of Bordiga, covering his career from 1912 to 1965. The fine translation by Giacomo Donis and Patrick Camiller is the first such volume in English. Jacobin’s David Broder spoke to its editor Pietro Basso about the burying of Bordiga’s name, his ecological vision of communism, and how he challenged Joseph Stalin to his face.

David Broder

Bordiga is little-known in English-speaking countries, but so, too, in Italy. This partly owes to the historiography produced by the Communist Party: in its high-Stalinist era it denounced or ignored him, and even PCI-associated literature in the 1970s like Franco Livorsi’s biography was still rather dismissive. Why was this?

Pietro Basso

In the 1930s, the systematic denigration of Bordiga was part of the “struggle against the Trotskyist opposition,” whom he was accused of supporting. In the 1940s, as the Fascist regime crumbled, PCI leaders were worried that Bordiga might return to political activity. Leader Palmiro Togliatti knew that many low- and mid-ranking cadres might still see Bordiga as authoritative; he acknowledged that “excluding Bordighism” from Party ranks was “something more difficult than excluding Bordiga.”

By “Bordighism,” he meant the sharp critique of the line the PCI had adopted [especially in the years leading up to World War II]. Its politics were now built around “national unity” in the name of rebuilding an “antifascist, democratic Italy” together with bourgeois parties and the capitalist class. Hence Togliatti’s instruction: build up a physical, psychological, ideological, “moral” chasm to divide these cadres from Bordiga and his positions.

The denigration of Bordiga went together with the bid to erase him through crass falsifications. For example, in Gramsci’s Prison Letters, Bordiga is mentioned eighteen times, sympathetically — despite their differences of formation and political positions, they were bound by shared militancy and feelings of friendship and mutual respect.

But in Felice Platone’s 1947 edition of these letters, Bordiga’s name vanished — all the passages referring to him were crudely forged. A fake photo was circulated of “Bordiga’s daughter’s wedding” (which never took place) in which the supposed bride and groom were saluted by a horde of Fascist blackshirts…

This systematic effort declined only in the 1960s, as Italy was shaken by a powerful reawakening of worker and social struggles. These latter expressed a — sometimes confused and inconsistent — critique of the reformist PCI and its evermore organic integration into bourgeois institutions and Italian capitalism. In this new context, the desire arose to retrace the communist movement’s real history. But even in ’68 only a tiny fringe of militants had enough anti-conformist spirit to directly engage with his positions.

David Broder

As well as resisting Bordiga’s own potential influence, it could be said that this was also functional to building up a certain vision of Gramsci — simplistically counterposing him to the man who had founded the Communist Party…

Pietro Basso

Yes. And it’s important to understand the decisive role played by Bordiga and the abstentionist [anti-electoralist] Communist faction in founding the party. The bid to erase Bordiga went so far as to present Gramsci as its founder. This was a total lie — at the founding congress in Livorno in 1921, Gramsci did not even speak. Later historiography did at least recognize the pre-eminent role of Bordiga and the “abstentionists” in the Communist split from the Socialist Party, after a decade of battles against reformism.

Its foundation came after the “defeatist” fight against Italy’s participation in World War I and two intense years of working-class struggle — what Bordiga called red 1919 and fiery 1920. The future Communist Party’s members were leaders in these struggles; it arose as a party of workers, of young people, with the near unanimous support of the Socialist Youth. The group of “young intellectuals” around l’Ordine Nuovo also actively joined in the new party’s foundation, though somewhat belatedly.

Naturally, the Russian Revolution and the creation of the Third International were key factors. In Italy, the first to grasp the historic, global import of the revolution was the group around Bordiga — tellingly, in December 1918 it decided to call its paper Il Soviet. But these comrades’ battle against reformism had begun already years earlier; Bordiga rightly called Bolshevism a “plant for all climates,” international yet not imported.

Erasing Bordiga helped to erase the revolutionary Gramsci and replace him with a “patriotic-democratic” one. Gramsci was a complex figure, on the tipping-point between revolutionary communism and gradualist evolutionism, idealism, and materialism. But in a certain period, frontally counterposing him to Bordiga was useful in casting Gramsci as the “noble father” of the PCI’s long march through the institutions of the bourgeois state. Later, [the party’s heirs] cast him off like an old rag doll and replaced him with different kinds of reference points like Willy Brandt, [Tony] Blair, and [Bill] Clinton…

David Broder

Many readers will know Bordiga mainly because of Lenin’s polemic against his electoral abstentionism in Left-Wing Communism: An Infantile Disorder. In your introduction, you play down this question, although Bordiga himself coined the “abstentionist” label for his current. Can you explain why this question was — or wasn’t — important to the foundation and early years of the Communist Party?

Pietro Basso

The young Bordiga criticized syndicalist or anarchist abstentionism, which he saw as abstention from political struggle in general. He argued that social revolution is a political matter, which demands adequate preparation at the political level. But politics was not to be identified with the electoral field — meaning, the field of delegation, manipulation, demagogy, from which proletarians’ own direct political action is excluded.

Bordiga’s starting point was that elections could be a means for socialists to spread their program among the mass of workers, but electoral success could not be an end in itself. His near-decade-long experience in the Socialist Party directly confronted him with its degenerative effects, as the electoral “contest” became the party’s defining activity, but also the “ignominious” consequences of its blocs with all sorts of bourgeois-democrats, liberals, and Freemasons, especially in the South.

This repudiation of electoralism sharpened in the spring/summer of 1919 as the Socialists’ electoral victory served as a brake on the radicalization of a class movement reaching insurrectionary dimensions.

But never did abstentionism become a question of principle for Bordiga. Whenever he was forced to choose between this conviction and party discipline, he always opted for the latter. He did so at the time of the 1919 elections; at the Comintern Second Congress in 1920 [for which Left-Wing Communism was prepared]; in 1921, as Communist Party leader, when he deemed it correct to stand in elections in a phase of political reaction; in 1924, when he was in the opposition within the party, and even when the newborn Internationalist Communist Party ran in the 1946 and 1948 elections.

Bordiga nonetheless maintained an unyielding opposition to all blocs with bourgeois parties. Hence his critique of the Aventine Secession in 1924 [when the opposition parties quit parliament in protest at the blackshirts’ murder of social-democratic MP Giacomo Matteotti]. Bordiga successfully pushed for the Communist MPs to break with the Aventine bloc, return to parliament and mount a head-on assault on Fascism — a task entrusted, not by accident, to the Bordighist Luigi Repossi.

Bordiga was convinced that the Russian experience had global lessons, but that it was mistaken to superimpose its situation on Western-European ones. In these latter countries, it was necessary to reckon with democracy’s capacity to mollify class conflict and integrate opposition, and not only by institutional means.

He summed up this position after 1945: Lenin had said, “go into parliaments and destroy them from within,” but only very few actually used them as tribunes for the proletarian revolution. Paradoxically enough, though he was never an MP, as a party leader Bordiga was one of the militants who best applied Lenin’s tactic of revolutionary parliamentarism.

David Broder

Here you touch on an interesting point about “Western Marxism.” Usually, the notion of Western countries having particular complexities is invoked as grounds for more “flexible” tactics — broad alliances, intermediate democratic stages between capitalism and socialism, and so on. But whether referring to Italy’s “Southern problem” or the “differentness” of the West from Russia, for Bordiga these complexities heightened the need to draw sharp class divides — and mount a frontal clash with democratic institutions.

Pietro Basso

For Bordiga, the rejection of electoral participation and (on principle) of fronts with reformist, democratic, bourgeois forces was justified by the need to preserve the Communist Party’s autonomy and revolutionary character.

One can certainly point to tactical shortcomings in Bordiga, as some of his more insightful followers did, or, indeed, his mistake in asserting that the Italian bourgeoisie would prefer local versions of Gustav Noske [anti-Communist social democrats] over Benito Mussolini.

One may even — like Alessandro Mantovani — ascribe Bordiga’s anti-democratic positions to libertarian rather than Marxist thought and note its dangerous consequences in terms of “indifference” to the necessary battle to defend democratic rights. But to evaluate the position Bordiga took a century ago, we need to take into account the special “historical power of bourgeois parliamentarism.”

Bordiga was right that the tactics adopted in Russia could not be mechanically transferred to Western Europe. That would be to underestimate the fact that modern liberal-parliamentary capitalist states are much better at defending themselves and intervening in the workers’ movement than autocratic ones are.

And historically speaking, one cannot dispute Bordiga’s prediction that the democratic bourgeoisie would open the way to fascism, use it, and then junk it; nor his identification of the rising bureaucratic-totalitarian tendencies in democratic states and of the close link between democracy and militarism (of which the United States is the finest example).

David Broder

Bordiga keenly emphasized internationalism. Sandro Saggioro and Arturo Peregalli’s book La sconfitta e gli anni oscuri remarks on how Bordiga was anything but dazzled by the successes of “socialist construction” in the USSR, as he visited in 1920; rather, he denied the possibility of “building socialism” in one backward country.

At the Comintern’s Sixth Enlarged Executive in Moscow in February 1926 he critiqued Stalin face-to-face, insisting that all the Comintern’s parties should collectively take decisions on “Russian” questions, just like they would “Italian” ones…

Pietro Basso

Internationalism characterized his militancy from start to finish — and, I would contend, it has extraordinary present-day relevance. He was one of the Comintern leaders most radically convinced that the clash between capitalism and socialism was a global confrontation, and it would have a unitary, global result.

This did not mean losing sight of the diversity of contexts, situations and moments. For example, Bordiga was perhaps the most convinced exponent of so-called “Western communism,” and the most tenacious in defending the New Economic Policy (NEP) in Russia — always doing so from an internationalist perspective.

At the sixth Enlarged Executive in 1926, he insisted that the Russian question was not only Russian. That is, the Russian party and state’s domestic and foreign policy choices — in gradually developing “socialist elements” of the economy, or regarding the peasants, the Nepmen, and the petty bourgeoisie — were vital to the outcome of an ongoing and worldwide clash between revolution and counterrevolution. So, the answers had to be decided together, by the whole international communist vanguard.

Bordiga was alone in upholding this argument; for some years already, a policy had developed in the Communist Parties of marginalizing, intimidating, and silencing those who did not embrace the direction things were taking in Russia and in the International. But he made this argument anyhow. When historians like E. H. Carr recognize this as a great political battle which lucidly anticipated the International’s subsequent course, and its Russification, they limit themselves to these obvious points.

But we should add, in his critique of Stalinism, Bordiga avoided any kind of moralism, individualizing matters, or idealizing democracy over bureaucratism. After 1945 — perhaps scandalizing some people — he maintained that, while Stalinism was counterrevolutionary in political terms (and an integral part of the global bourgeois counterrevolution) it played a revolutionary function precisely insofar as it was building capitalism in Russia.

David Broder

In 1930 Bordiga was expelled from the Party and withdrew from political life. Seeking to explain this choice, Saggioro and Peregalli compare his situation to that of Marx after the defeat of the 1848 revolutions. Bordiga characterized the defeat of the late 1920s as fundamental and lasting — arguing that the party could only be rebuilt after the historic period changed. In an interview soon before his death, when asked why he had not pursued a faction fight within the International, he replied “there was nothing to be done.” What did he mean by that?

Pietro Basso

That was always his reply. For the poundings which Fascism inflicted on the Communist Party in 1923 and in 1926 had practically torn it apart. In the 1930s, Togliatti’s PCI also did little or nothing on Italian soil. Gramsci went to jail as the party’s secretary but was gradually abandoned to his own devices.

One can certainly criticize Bordiga for breaking off ties with even his closest comrades on the communist left, both in Italy and among those who emigrated to Belgium, France, and the United States. As Paolo Turco wrote, this was a questionable way of understanding his own function as a political leader. For in the 1930s there were important class struggles — especially in Spain, France, and China — and this total suspension of activity raises a lot of perplexities.

But historically speaking, the counterrevolutionary reversal was devastating, in both depth and speed, with the rise of Nazism in Germany, the extermination of the Bolshevik Old Guard, the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact, the murder of Trotsky, the outbreak of World War II. This was also visible in the division of the world at Yalta in 1945, with the triumphant arrival of a new master of the world’s economy and politics — what Bordiga called a super-imperialism wrapped in the stars and stripes. Faced with such a reversal, not even an unshakeable fighter like Trotsky achieved any great results.

David Broder

When PCI leader Togliatti returned to Naples in March 1944, after almost two decades in exile, one of the first things he asked his comrades was “what’s Bordiga doing?” Bordiga often denied his own individual significance. But during World War I he had been a charismatic leader of the anti-war camp, and again in 1943–44 he could have become a reference point for the revolutionary oppositions among the PCI’s base. These oppositions were often politically confused, but they did claim to be upholding the traditions of the party founded in 1921…

Pietro Basso

In that dramatic moment, the memory of the party’s first years was still alive among many militants and cadres, within or on the margins of the PCI organization. There was the possibility to which you allude. But it seems Bordiga was against encouraging proletarian cadres to leave the PCI. Perhaps he expected the possibility that not just little groups or individuals would rally to the Left’s positions, but a combative section of the class. I say “perhaps” because there’s no definite proof.

But certainly, people from all sides were prodding him to return to active politics. He resisted this. He considered the situation counterrevolutionary and bound to remain as such for a while. For him, the conditions simply weren’t there for a return to the early 1920s and a bid to “compete” with the “big ol’ PCI” on equal terms. The reorganization of internationalist revolutionaries was still in its tortuous early stages.

From late 1944 to 1965–66, Bordiga nonetheless pursued an intensive activity. This was a very different activity from that of the 1911–26 period, though it continued on from it. This activity aimed to re-present Marxian and Marxist thought “unadulterated.”

David Broder

Bordiga always insisted on this need to “return” to a pre-established, classical Marxism, provocatively referring to its “Tablets of Stone.” Indeed, he is widely stereotyped as doing nothing but inflexibly repeat invariable truths. So, why do you argue that his postwar writings were innovative?

Pietro Basso

It is worth speaking of this role, even if he would have surely dismissed it with one of his withering remarks. For his re-presentation of Marxist thought is truly original and anticipatory. In her 1903 text “Stagnation and Progress of Marxism,” Rosa Luxemburg writes that, faced with new practical questions, revolutionaries can “dip once more into the treasury of Marx’s thought, in order to extract therefrom and to utilize new fragments of his doctrine.”

Half a century later, Bordiga and the work-collective around him faced the colossal task of reestablishing the cornerstones of Marxist theory. This meant not just drawing on singular “fragments” but working through it from top to bottom. For nothing had survived the adulteration carried off by Stalinism and the skillful capitalist use of this adulteration.

Bordiga used Marxism’s tools above all to examine the experience of “building socialism” in Russia. He did this with the categories of Marxian political economy, going direct to the economic base of social life in Stalin’s Russia and asking whether the categories of Western capitalism also applied there. This enormous effort to research Russia’s social evolution involved the whole Programma Comunista collective.

For Bordiga and his comrades, the essential thing was not state or private ownership of the means of production, but profitability and the extraction of surplus value. These were the key criteria around which production was organized in Russia, along with the centrality of the firm, commodity production, market exchange, the sale and purchase of labor power, salaries, money-accounting, prices…

If these categories remained, then there could not be socialist planning. For rather than production taking place on the basis of social needs surveyed in advance, the much-vaunted plan was only a sort of ex post registration of the results achieved by single firms or sectors, with some timid attempt to correct their excessive “disequilibria.”

For Bordiga, the problem was the firm, not the fact the firm has a boss. For undergirding capitalist production is production (of profits) in separate units, each of which defends its own existence on the national/global market and expands its business beyond limit by extending/intensifying its exploitation of living labor. Such a mechanism is incompatible with a rational, social plan for production and consumption.

Few Marxists have so clearly demonstrated that a socialist economy is something quite different from a state economy. As Liliana Grilli highlighted, Bordiga also answered the question of whether it is possible to have a “capitalism without capitalists.”

The form social development had assumed in Russia was new. But if Onorato Damen saw this as an “ultimate” form of capitalism, in Bordiga’s reading Stalin’s USSR was tending toward full capitalism. It was not its most advanced form; rather, US capitalism was in the vanguard.

Bordiga showed that, behind its statist trappings, the great state industrialism in the USSR was anything but “totalitarian” — it contained and even demanded many elements of private business, like outsourcing to minor firms, and the general tendency in the USSR was toward a reduction of state elements. He was writing this already in the 1950s!

In this context, classic capitalist figures — individual private entrepreneurs — were taking form within the webs which connected firm and market and the despotic process of extracting surplus-value. They did not yet admit to such a role, but the “confession” would come, in full, in the years of Mikhail Gorbachev’s perestroika and after. The sharks of the [Boris] Yeltsin era didn’t need to be parachuted in from abroad.

David Broder

But Bordiga was also interested in this “vanguard” of capitalism in the United States?

Pietro Basso

Yes, in the postwar decades the other main field of application of Bordiga’s critique — and the resharpened tools of “classical Marxism” — was the United States. The leading country of Western and global capitalism, it took off after World War II, spreading (even beyond the Iron Curtain) the utopia of an affluent, popular capitalism, capable of overcoming class polarization in practice.

For this anthology, I have selected ten texts from 1947 to 1957 which discuss the United States, from its “assault on Europe” to the war in Korea and the American social model. Already in the 1950s Bordiga zoned in on the US attempt to “promote” the proletarian to the rank of consumer, forcing them to take on debts through the maniacal disciplining mechanism of “often harmful standardized, ready-made consumption.” — an attempt which would eventually be proven to be a bluff, and a damaging one.

These texts well overlap with others that show the different courses of capitalism’s evolution after World War II, highlighting the divorce between property and capital, the shift in capital’s center of gravity from production to speculative-market maneuvers, and the inflation of the state (the exact opposite of the bourgeois promise of “cut-price government”).

Here we have the capitalist economy framed as a “disaster economy,” and a critique of the wasteful economy unparalleled in other Marxists, if not in more academic form in István Mészáros and a few others after him (all ignorant of Bordiga).

David Broder

…For instance, in his Murder of the Dead…

Pietro Basso

Exactly. And this was long before the current — very interesting — recovery of the ecological dimension of Marx’s thought by [John Bellamy] Foster, [Paul] Burkett, [Kohei] Saito, and so on.

He showed that in the “original Marxism,” the capitalist assault on living labor and capital’s assault against nature were two sides of the same coin. Using this criterion, he identified late capitalism’s “fierce hunger for catastrophe and ruin.”

This is an anthology — I had to make choices and leave a lot of things out. But I did include a series of Bordiga’s passages on the capitalist looting of nature, on the fact that land and natural resources must not be anyone’s property, even collective property, but administered in the interest of the species. This is not some banal anticapitalism: rather, there is a critical and unromantic attention also toward the forms which preceded capitalist production (well summarized by his collaborator Roger Dangeville).

Bordiga was among the first to elaborate a commentary on Marx’s Grundrisse — already ten years before Roman Rosdolsky — from which I have excerpted a piece entitled “Who’s Afraid of Automation?” In the 1950s, Bordiga explained that Marxists would be the last people to have such a fear.

In his analysis of contemporary capitalism, its financial, speculative, consumerist, debt-laden hypertrophy, its monstrous militaristic hypertrophy, its destruction of the environment, its neocolonial oppression of people of color, and so on, Bordiga was far-sighted.

And his critique of the degenerative characteristics of US “super-capitalism” had no shred of anti-Americanism; rather, it was a critique of the general tendencies of the capitalist mode of production and the growing damage it caused for human and natural life. This is a particularly relevant critique for today. Indeed, it was a US scholar who grasped this, arguing that Bordiga is against productivism…

David Broder

You mean Loren Goldner?

Pietro Basso

Yes, the emphasis he places on this is very interesting. In the Stalinist era there was a sort of identification between Marxist socialism and the development of the productive forces. Bordiga summarily dismisses any such identification, even if there are parts of the world in which the productive forces do need to be developed.

In 1953 he drew up an immediate program for the first revolutionary transformations to carry out in the developed capitalist countries. At the center of this was underproduction: slashing billions of hours of harmful or pointless production, disinvesting, increasing the costs of production and uprooting superconsumption. This was hardly just re-proposing the Communist Manifesto…

For Bordiga, the fundamental thing was the drastic reduction of the working day and the explosion of time for the life of the species. From his deep study of Marx and Marxism — including overlooked or recently discovered texts — he came to define communism as a life plan for the human species. This meant a unitary, international plan for production and consumption, based on the satisfaction of genuine human needs. He “anticipated” these themes — ones dramatically bearing down on us today.

David Broder

On present topics, it’s worth mentioning the section of this volume dedicated to the “Gigantic Movement for the Emancipation of the Coloured Peoples.” It’s easy to imagine Bordiga saw nothing but the final confrontation between bourgeoisie and proletariat. But he recognized the disruptive power of the anticolonial revolutions (even if he didn’t think they were building socialism) and rejected any vision of the world as “flat” and undifferentiated. Where did this interest stem from?

Pietro Basso

There is nothing hagiographical about my presentation of Bordiga. So, I had no need to conceal the reality that at the Comintern Second Congress in 1920 Bordiga, like fellow Italian delegate Giacinto Serrati, was perplexed by the theses it passed on the colonial question. Not having studied this question, he feared it would encourage the watering down of the role of the proletariat and the communist parties in the colonial or semi-colonial countries. But after World War II, with the powerful anti-colonial uprising across three continents, Bordiga corrected himself and fully adopted, I would argue, the vision he had previously been hesitant toward.

One of the factors that divided Bordiga from some of his comrades (and not only in Italy) in the early 1950s was their substantial indifference toward the anti-colonial revolutions. Bordiga, together with various comrades, embarked upon a systematic reading of these revolutions, which he saw as authentic social revolutions — but agrarian, anti-feudal, national ones, limited to establishing bourgeois social relations.

Hence his parallel critique of their leaders’ socialist phraseology. But in widening the space of capitalist social relations, standing in strong contradiction with the hegemony of the great powers, and bringing vast masses of the exploited onto the arena of global politics, they ultimately represented a factor favorable to the rebirth of the international proletarian movement.

Since we’re talking about questions of present relevance, I’ll add that the anthology also contains a striking text on the Watts Riots of August 1965. This piece on how “Negro” Rage Shook the Rotten Pillars of Bourgeois and Democratic Civilization is also one of Bordiga’s last texts before his death in 1970. The racial question is framed as a social question, and the black revolt as a proletarian revolt.

He welcomed this with “great enthusiasm,” also because it tore through the fabric of legal fictions and democratic hypocrisy. Allow me to quote a passage from this text — we might say, Bordiga’s own salute to the great movement which has followed the killing of George Floyd. As he said back in 1965,

there was something profoundly new in this blazing episode of rage. For those who followed it not with cold objectivity but with passion and hope, the episode was not only vaguely popular, but proletarian. And this is what makes us say: The Negro revolt has been crushed. Long live the Negro revolt!  What is new — for the history of the struggles of emancipation of the underpaid Negro worker, certainly not for the history of class struggle in general — is the almost exact coincidence between the pompous and rhetorical presidential proclamation of political and civil rights and the explosion of an anonymous, collective, “uncivilized” subversive fury on the part of the “beneficiaries” of the “magnanimous” gesture; between the umpteenth attempt to tempt the tormented slave with a miserable carrot, which cost nothing, and this slave’s instinctive refusal to let himself be blindfolded and to bend his back again.

“Without theoretical consciousness,” he continued,

without the need to express it in articulate language, but making their statement with their bodies and their actions, they cried out that there can be no civil and political equality as long as there is economic inequality, and that the way to end this inequality is not with laws, decrees, lectures and sermons, but by overthrowing by force the bases of a society divided into classes. It is this brutal laceration of the tissue of legal fictions and democratic hypocrisies that disconcerted the bourgeoisie (and how could it do otherwise!). This is what aroused such great enthusiasm in us Marxists (and how could it do otherwise!). This is what must give food for thought to the listless proletarians, dozing in the false mollycoddling of the metropolises of a capitalism historically born with white skin.

As Tithi Bhattacharya has recently said, capitalism cannot but also be racist (and I think I demonstrated the same thing in my own book Razzismo di Stato). On this theme, too, Bordiga went beyond his own initial positions, adopting and applying Lenin’s perspective toward “the East.”

David Broder

What, finally, can republishing these texts achieve?

Pietro Basso

Around a decade ago, Peter Thomas aptly identified the Gramscian Moment — a moment which, I would add, was concomitant with the rise of progressive governments, especially in Latin America, which generated the illusion of a gradual and “broad-frontist” path toward a “twenty-first-century socialism.”

In recent years, especially in the English-speaking countries, we have increasingly seen a direct “return to Marx.” This is explained by the advent of an epochal crisis of capitalism and, therefore, of sharp class struggles.

Invariably, in such a phase, there is a bid to rediscover the revolutionary experience of the past, in all its richness and kaleidoscopic colors. This means seeking to draw lessons and cues from reflection from the past (also regarding the forces, the resources, and the methods of the counterrevolution; and one of Bordiga’s apparently paradoxical judgments held that “Marxism is a theory of counter-revolutions”).

That is why we can tell the prospect of a “Bordigan Moment” is not so far off. As against the image which Bordiga wanted to give of himself, as a man who was simply hammering away at old nails, he will finally be rediscovered as a Marxist of, and for, the future.