#Workers and oppressed people of the world, unite!
#FROM PSEUDO-PARLIAMENTARISM TO COUNCIL DEMOCRACY
#Central Committee of the Communist Party in Switzerland
#1st of October, 2023
Nowhere does the influence of capital in parliament manifest itself as powerfully as in [Switzerland]. The power of capital is everything, the stock exchange is everything, while parliament and elections are marionettes, puppets...1
[...] We already knew that there is but one goal — the conquest of power. [...] It was then that we declared that the time for parliamentarism was over and that nothing more could be expected from this bourgeois institution.2
The transition from the capitalist social order to communism takes place under the dictatorship of the proletariat. For the purpose of socializing the means of production, as well as all existing necessities, and the complete suppression of the bourgeoisie, the smashing of the entire bourgeois State apparatus through the establishment of a revolutionary government of workers', farmers', and soldiers' councils is necessary, since the capitalist State is not an aggregation of all classes, but the special apparatus of oppression of the bourgeoisie. The workers cannot simply take over the bourgeois State machine, but must destroy it, because the bodies of oppression formed by the bourgeoisie, such as the military (officers), the bureaucracy, the political police, and so on, can never serve the proletariat, because in their whole organizational structure they belong to the bourgeoisie.3
This month, the 2023 Federal Elections will take place in Switzerland. This month, the Swiss people (those of them who are not disenfranchised, that is) are once again summoned to the polls, like lambs to the slaughter, to once again vote against their own interests and for the interests of their butchers, the capitalists who exploit them. In the face of this all-encompassing electoral circus, this total propaganda war on all fronts, what are we Communists, revolutionaries, and class-conscious workers to do? Are we to deceive the people by participating in this total farce, lying through our teeth to promise reforms that we cannot enact, while at most paying lip-service to using parliament for revolutionary agitation and propaganda, as the Labour Party does? Stand in the middle of the road, vaguely criticizing the character of the elections, without actually going among the masses to work with them and offer them as an alternative, as some Anarchists do? Or, much worse, trying to lend a revolutionary character to the electoral sloganeering of Social-Democrats like Cedric Wermuth by pretending that they can be pushed to the Left (into opposition!), as the university fraternity The Spark does, or by imagining that the Social-Democrats can be transformed from within, as the Young Socialists do? Or should we go among the masses, unite with their just rejection of the capitalist-parliamentary system, and work with them to overcome their passivity through the active boycott, as the Communists do in other countries? We must make a choice, and the choice is clear. Participation in these elections is a sham, passive abstentionism likewise. We Communists are advocates of the active electoral boycott of the 2023 Federal Elections. This document serves to elaborate on this tactic of ours.
#1. THE ELECTORAL QUESTION IN SWITZERLAND
#1.1. THE ELECTORAL QUESTION IS CONNECTED WITH THE QUESTION OF THE SOCIO-ECONOMIC, STATE, AND GOVERNMENT SYSTEMS
Marxism-Leninism-Maoism is the enemy of all dogmatism. In presenting our standpoint on the electoral question in Switzerland, we must, first of all, treat Marxism, not as a dogma, but as a guide to action, as Marx and Engels often repeated. Moreover, Lenin said that the gist of Marxism is the concrete analysis of a concrete situation. Finally, Mao Zedong pointed out that, in the analysis of any concrete situation, one must begin with the concrete facts, with the particular characteristics, and, analysing these facts and characteristics, proceed to expound their laws in the light of the universal truth of Marxism. That is why we start with a concrete analysis of the electoral question in Switzerland, and not with the more general standpoint of Marxism-Leninism-Maoism and the Party's Guiding Thought, which we will only discuss in detail on a later occasion.
The electoral question is essentially the question of what attitude the Communists take toward the political superstructure: Do we participate in it? Do we utilize it for our own purposes? Or do we reject and boycott it? This is a tactical question, and the answer to it depends entirely on the given objective conditions. Therefore, we cannot take a clear stand on what tactics to apply without a clear understanding of the socio-economic system, the State system, and the government system in the country in which we operate as Communists. From a correct understanding of these conditions flows a correct understanding of our revolutionary strategy, which is the framework for any and all revolutionary tactics. One cannot adopt a tactic that contradicts one's strategy, and the question of electoral tactics is no exception to this rule.
Moreover, the socio-economic basis is what gives rise to a corresponding State system and government system, which are part of the ideological-political superstructure. Without this superstructure, the socio-economic basis could not preserve and develop itself. Without the socio-economic basis, the superstructure would have no function. Thus, the two are inseparably linked. Furthermore, the State system is the class dictatorship (that is, what class or classes rule society) and the government system is the organizational form of that dictatorship (that is, either a democratic or a totalist4 form of government). Thus, the three questions of the socio-economic system, the State system, and the government system are closely interrelated, and constitute the objective conditions on which we must base our strategy and tactics.
#1.2. MODERN SWISS SOCIETY IS A GLOBALIZED MONOPOLY-CAPITALIST SOCIETY
By the term «modern Swiss society», what we mean is the society which came into being in the 18th and early 19th centuries, and which became fully formed with the conquest of political power by the bourgeoisie in 1847 — that is to say, capitalist Swiss society, as opposed to the feudal society of the Carolingian, Habsburg, and Old Swiss epochs (roughly 536 to 1798), the slave society of the Roman epoch (roughly 58 BCE to 536 CE), and the primitive-communal society of the Celtic and pre-Celtic epochs (before 58 BCE).
Modern Swiss Society emerged in the 19th century with the victory of the bourgeois-democratic revolution in 1847 and the emergence of free-trade capitalism in Switzerland. Around the beginning of the 20th century, this capitalism developed into monopoly capitalism, in which banking capital specifically predominated under Swiss conditions, and Switzerland became an imperialist country. Finally, around the beginning of the 21st century, this monopoly capitalism became globalized as Swiss capital began to export its means of production, which brought about yet another change in the socio-economic basis. Today, modern Swiss society is a globalized monopoly-capitalist society in which banking capital predominates.
Thus, modern Swiss society has passed through three historical periods, each of which can be further sub-divided into a number of historical phases.
The first period of modern Swiss history, from 1798 to 1891, was the period of free-trade capitalism and progressive bourgeois democracy under the class dictatorship of the big and middle capitalists. This period can be further divided into the following phases:
- The first bourgeois-democratic revolution, from 1798 to 1814.
- The feudal restoration, from 1814 to '30.
- The second bourgeois-democratic revolution, from 1830 to '48.
- The consolidation of the capitalist social formation, from 1848 to '91.
The second period of modern Swiss history, from 1891 to 1999, was the period of monopoly capitalism, in which reactionary democratic-parliamentary and totalist-absolutist regimes took turn governing the country under the class dictatorship of the big capitalists. This period can be further divided into the following phases:
- The emergence of monopoly capitalism and the reactionization of parliamentarism, from 1891 to 1918.
- The inter-war period, the first attempt at proletarian revolution, and the first crisis of Swiss monopoly capitalism, from 1918 to '39.
- The imperialist Second World War, totalist rule, and the first temporary recovery of Swiss monopoly capitalism, from 1939 to '53.
- The first half of the Cold War, the transition to pseudo-parliamentarism, and the continued temporary recovery of Swiss monopoly capitalism, from 1953 to '70.
- The second half of the Cold War, the second crisis of Swiss monopoly capitalism, and the implementation of certain bourgeois-democratic concessions, from 1970 to '99.
Concerning the emergence of monopoly capitalism or imperialism in Switzerland, it is worth mentioning that, although colonialism is one of the characteristics of imperialism in general, a specific imperialist country does not necessarily need to acquire colonies or maintain them, as it can also leech on the colonies of other imperialist countries, maintain internal colonies inside its own borders, or use semi-colonial forms of economic colonialism in nominally independent Third World countries.
Swiss monopoly capitalism (imperialism) emerged in particular conditions. The Swiss capitalists, unlike the English, Yankee, French, German, or other imperialists, did not possess any colonies, from which they could obtain super-profits. Hence, Swiss imperialism, in order to emerge at all (see Lenin's three criteria and five characteristics of imperialism outlined in his article, Imperialism and the Split in Socialism) had to develop in an extraordinarily parasitic manner, by leeching off the super-profits of the «Great» Powers. Lenin pointed out:
Imperialist interests are manifested, as everyone knows, not only in territorial, but also in financial acquisitions. It should be borne in mind that the Swiss bourgeoisie exports capital, no less than CHF 3'000'000'000 a year, that is, imperialistically exploits backward nations. That is a fact, and another fact is that Swiss banking capital is intimately associated and intertwined with the banking capital of the Great Powers, that the Swiss tourism industry, and so on, represent a permanent division of imperialist wealth between the Great Powers and Switzerland.5
Hence, the special characteristic of Swiss monopoly capitalism came to be the extraordinary role played by banking capital, which is one of the component parts of finance capital — and, as Lenin pointed out in his Imperialism, the Highest Stage of Capitalism, finance capital, which is synonymous with monopoly capital today, is the product of the merger of industrial capital and banking capital. The predominance of banking capital in Swiss finance capital is the economic basis upon which elements of the superstructure, such as Swiss «direct democracy», imperialist «neutrality», Switzerland's «diplomatic role», and so on, are built — the whole society, country, State, and what have you, is structured like one big bank, ensuring its own stability and loyalty to its customers, which is quite unlike the situation in the other imperialist countries.
The third period of modern Swiss history, which began in 1999, is the period of globalized monopoly capitalism and reactionary bourgeois-democratic pseudo-parliamentarism on a corporatist basis under the class dictatorship of the big capitalists. This period can be further divided into the following phases:
- The globalization of Swiss monopoly capitalism, the second temporary recovery of Swiss monopoly capitalism, and the renewed strengthening of neo-corporatism, from 1999 to 2019.
- The third crisis of Swiss monopoly capitalism and the remilitarization6 of Swiss society, from 2019 to the present.
What do we mean when we say that modern Swiss society has become globalized? As Comrade Gonzalo pointed out,7 the essence of globalization is the further socialization of the character of production under the continued private character of ownership. Hundreds of millions of people in the Third World, who previously were bound to feudal and slave-owning relations of production, have now become enslaved to international capital. Globalization constitutes a new and higher phase of monopoly capitalism, one in which the contradictions of imperialism are taken to their logical conclusion. This takes place through «outsourcing», that is, the export of the means of production themselves, on the one hand, and «insourcing», that is, the import of labour power, on the other hand. This further amalgamates the nationalities of the whole world and creates a much more consolidated basis for the unity of the working-class movement and the national-liberation movement. At the same time, globalization intensifies the fundamental contradictions of world capitalism, particularly in the form of the capitalist destruction of the Earth's climate. If imperialism is the eve of the proletarian-socialist world revolution, then globalization is the dark before the dawn of that revolution.
The Swiss economy began to globalize during the third period mentioned above, between 1945 and '76. In 1970, 46% of the labour force was still employed in industry. However, during the 1970s economic crisis, the industrial sector shrank significantly, and the service sector became the main sector of the Swiss economy. However, a qualitative leap in the globalization of the economy was not taken, as can be seen by the recession of the 1990s — during the whole decade of the 1990s, the Swiss economy was considered the weakest in Western Europe, and even shrank by 2% in the years 1991-93. This crisis finally motivated the Swiss capitalists to globalize their economy. During the 1990s and early 2000s, systematic measures were implemented to outsource means of production and insource migrant labour power, which finally led to the current situation, in which the Swiss economy is deemed the «second-most globalized in the world» (after the Netherlands), according to the KOF Swiss Economic Institute in 2018, that is to say, the second-most parasitic economy in the world. According to the Federal Statistics Office, 74% of Swiss Gross Domestic Product is created by the service sector, 25% by the industrial sector (the vast majority of which consists of light industry; heavy industry is practically non-existent in Switzerland), and less than 1% by the agricultural sector. For comparison, roughly 73% of the workforce is employed in the service sector, 24% in the industrial sector, and 4% in the agricultural sector. Moreover, there is almost no natural resource extraction. Under these conditions, it can clearly be said that Switzerland has firmly entered the new phase of monopoly capitalism, and that this country is just as stained by the blood spilt during the process of globalization and just as ridden with the contradictions inherent to globalization as other Western countries — if not more.
#1.3. THE SWISS STATE IS A CLASS DICTATORSHIP OF THE BIG CAPITALISTS
Because modern Swiss society is a globalized monopoly-capitalist society, the modern Swiss State is a class dictatorship of the big capitalists (that is, the finance capitalists, mainly the big bankers, who make their living mostly from profits from monopolistic businesses). The big capitalists rule the country in a united front with the non-monopoly (or middle) capitalists (that is, those who make their living mostly from profits from non-monpolistic businesses; in other words, the «classical», 19th-century type of capitalists), and they attempt to a certain degree to satiate the interests of the small capitalists (that is, those who do not make a living purely from profits, but who must also engage in productive labour themselves, although they profit from exploitation) and the small farmers (that is, the rural small capitalists), although the big capitalists' profit interests do not allow this to actually satisfy the small capitalists and farmers, who are increasingly proletarianized, particularly the small farmers. Moreover, the backbone of the Swiss State — which consists of the Swiss Confederation and the Principality of Liechtenstein, the latter of which is objectively the 27th canton of the Swiss State8 — is the army, the militia, and the police, all of which are reactionary and serve to prop up the class dictatorship of the big capitalists. The working people, on the other hand, have no political power in this country and are oppressed by the State. If they want to put an end to their exploitation by the monopoly capitalists, and if they want to save the planet on which they live from the capitalist destruction of the Earth's climate, they have no choice but to rebel, rise up in arms, and overthrow this old State with revolutionary violence, so as to set up a new State that is ruled by themselves.
#1.4. THE SWISS GOVERNMENT SYSTEM IS REACTIONARY AND PSEUDO-PARLIAMENTARIAN
Because the Swiss State is a class dictatorship of the big capitalists, the Swiss government system is capitalist (or bourgeois) in nature. Today, it takes the reactionary bourgeois-democratic form of a pseudo-parliamentary system.
The Swiss government system was originally a radical bourgeois-democratic parliamentary system. This system arose in opposition to the reactionary semi-feudal primitive-democratic system of the Old Swiss Confederation prior to the 1847 civil war, in which «direct democracy» was used by landowning clan elders to keep down the masses of the working people. Back then, Friedrich Engels remarked: Old Switzerland is «democratically organized. But there are many varieties of democracy, and it is very necessary that the democrats of the developed countries should at last decline responsibility for the [...] Old Swiss forms of democracy. The democratic movement in all developed countries is, in the last analysis, striving for the political domination of the proletariat. It therefore presupposes that a proletariat exists, that a ruling bourgeoisie exists, that an industry exists which gives birth to the proletariat and which has brought the bourgeoisie to power. There is nothing of all this [...] in Old Switzerland. [...] The democracy prevailing in developed countries, modern democracy, has thus nothing whatsoever in common with [...] Old Swiss democracy.» «It is really very fortunate that European democracy is finally getting rid of this Old Swiss, puritan, and reactionary ballast. As long as the democrats concentrated on the virtue, the happiness, and the paternalist simplicity of these Alpine shepherds, they themselves still appeared in a reactionary light. Now that they are supporting the struggle of developed, industrial, modern-democratic Switzerland against the crude, Christian-Germanic democracy of the primitive, cattle-breeding cantons, they represent progress everywhere, now the last reactionary glimmer disappears, now they show that they are learning to understand the meaning of democracy in the 19th century.»9
However, as free-trade capitalism developed into monopoly capitalism, the radical-democratic government institutions transformed into their opposite, into reactionary-democratic ones. Lenin pointed out: «The fact that imperialism is parasitic or decaying capitalism is manifested first of all in the tendency to decay, which is characteristic of every monopoly under the system of private ownership of the means of production. The difference between the democratic-republican and the reactionary-monarchist imperialist bourgeoisie is obliterated precisely because they are both rotting alive [...]. Political reaction all along the line is a characteristic feature of imperialism.»10 One example of this was the revival of the pre-1847 primitive «direct democracy», that is, the semi-feudal democracy of the clan elders and landowners. This was essentially a corporatist measure (that is, a revival of the old, mediaeval, guild-like, corporative forms of social organization, something which was encouraged by the Catholic Church and then the fascist movement in various countries) and a negation of parliamentarism. With the 1891 Constitutional Reform, the parliamentary system thus became pseudo-parliamentary, and a corporatist basis for the government system was established, which has been further developed ever since with only brief interruptions. As Engels once remarked, the specific way in which Swiss «direct democracy» functions does more harm than good. Other examples of this include the partial disarmament of Swiss soldiers, who were now only allowed to bring home a certain amount of ammunition («enough to fight their way to the armoury»), the full implementation of guardianship of women countrywide, and other reactionary measures.
Since the advent of Swiss monopoly capitalism, the Swiss government system has become increasingly reactionary. It has created a corporatist social basis for itself and has militarized Swiss society to a large degree, both of which constitute violations of the liberal-democratic principles of the Enlightenment — that is, they constitute moves toward a totalist government system, or totalization.
Examples of the corporatist character of the social basis of the Swiss State include the following:
- The use of the patriarchal family as the social unit rather than the individual, with taxation, social services, education, and other factors being calculated on a family basis rather than an individual basis. This includes the continued partial guardianship of women and children in Switzerland today.
- The practical non-existence of trade unions in Switzerland. All Swiss «trade unions», including the pseudo-Left UNIA, are in reality corporations. They are not structured on the basis of shop committees (union branches) and the «shop stewards» («union representatives») are not elected by the workers, but are rather appointed from above by the labour-aristocratic union bureaucrats, the top brass of whom earn around CHF 10'000 a month, and have no shop committees at all in which the rank-and-file members are organized and make their voices heard. Moreover, these «trade unions» are sworn to uphold the industrial peace (which is enshrined in the Federal Constitution and the law) and can even be (and have been) employed as scabs when wildcat strikes do occur. They also form corporative commissions together with the capitalists which oversee the application of the collective agreements, with money being paid to the «trade unions» for this purpose, thus giving them an objective interest in signing agreements at all costs (even if they are counter to the interests of the workers) and enforcing them against the interests of all the workers, even including their own members.
- The apprenticeship system, in which almost all workers (the majority of whom work in retail and other service jobs, not in handicrafts) have to pass through a period of up to four years of training under the supervision of their capitalist (with the collaboration of the public schools and the employers' associations), are paid far below the value of their labour power, and are subjected to semi-feudal corvée labour and other humiliations. The apprenticeship system is a continuation of the mediaeval guild system of education and is child labour in disguise.
- The prevalence of so-called «cooperatives» in the Swiss economy and their promotion by the State, particularly in the retail and housing sectors, which are actually nothing but corporations in which wage-workers are encouraged or forced to collaborate with capitalists, tenants with landlords, and consumers and producers with profiteers.
- The existance of actual, State-sanctioned corporate mediaeval guilds in the social life of various cantons.
- The reliance of the State upon, and abuse and even restriction of, the legal clubs and other associations created by the Swiss people for cultural, recreational, self-defence, and other purposes, such as the forced collaboration of shooting ranges and gun clubs with the Swiss military. The fact that the State penalizes non-club social activities through the police, especially social activities of young people in public spaces, proves that the State utilizes the associative framework to corporatize the popular culture.
- The system of enforced consultation in Swiss politics, in which the Executive has to consult with corporations, associations, businesses, churches, and so on before taking a stand on or proposing legislation. Moreover, the existence of joint State-private commissions at many different levels of society for other forms of consultation.
- The political character of Swiss police and courts, with representatives of political parties serving as judges, State attorneys, and police chiefs.
- The policy of the State utilizing private companies and non-governmental organizations to provide necessary public or social services, such as unemployment benefits and job programmes.
- The role played by the various churches in religious education in the public schools, which takes place within the context of the non-separation of Church and State at the cantonal level, with many cantons only not recognizing certain religious communities such as the Jews or Muslims.
- The use of would-be military recruits who refuse to serve in the army as to perform «social services» (and potentially as scabs) under military discipline.
- The dependency of the poor peasants on the State through public subsidies.
- The interrelation of the public and private sectors in the field of healthcare.
- The prevalence of national corporatism, that is, the forced collaboration of hegemonized or oppressed nationalities with the dominant Alemannic oppressor nation through the federal-cantonal system (due to historical and primarily political reasons, there exists a large number of Alemannic cantons with a very low population, leading to the total hegemony of the Alemannic bourgeoisie in the political system; this system was implemented as part of the 1814 counter-revolution, and did not exist in the Helvetic Republic, where cantons were distributed roughly according to population size of the nationalities, with there even being one explicitly Romansh canton as a matter of principle), the Council of Estates (the «Senate») representing the cantons at the federal level, the principle of the cantonal majority in referendums and initiatives, and so on.
- The existence in 14 cantons of so-called citizens' communities, also known officially as corporations, which, in the Alemannic countryside, are a modern-day offshoot of the old Germanic Mark community (which began as primitive-communal social forms, but soon became tools of the semi-feudal exploitation and oppression by the clan elders in Old Switzerland), often as a corporation of citizens of those particular cantons or descendants of ancient landowners (not of Swiss citizens in general), regardless of where they find themselves geographically. In the cities, they are usually less rigidly clan-like, but nonetheless have a corporate character, as they exist to manage the corporate structures working under or with the State. These citizens' communities manage local social services, immigration services, guilds, associations, and so on.
- The concordance system and the principle of collegiality as the guiding ideas of the Executive especially since 1944, when the current national unity government was established during the period of totalist rule.
- The existence of compulsory military service for all adult males, that is, their being put under reactionary military discipline as part of a months-long imperialist-chauvinist indoctrination process, in which those who refuse to play along are punished with excessive «training regiments» or verbal abuse, sometimes even by beatings or physical humiliation, with court-martials being a common occurrence. Moreover, in recent years, the military has also been used as a cheap source of labour power by the officer class to construct infrastructure and concentration camps for refugees, which the government does not wish to pay real wages for.
- The militia system in the Legislature, which implies that parliament meets only four times a year, while the members of parliament need to maintain regular jobs on the side. This leads, on the one hand, to not having any wage-workers in parliament at all, and, on the other, to filling it up with mainly stockbrokers, bosses, lobbyists, rich union bureaucrats, big farmers, and so on, which resolves the conflict of interest by simply making parliament an official organ of the capitalist class. This of course does not include the growing number of professional political leaches, also known as career politicans.
We could name more examples, but these should be sufficient to demonstrate the degree to which corporatism afflicts Swiss society.
Moreover, the corporatist basis of the Swiss State is recognized, not only by the Communists, but also by progressive and democratic academics. According to one research paper:
The competition between different ideologically oriented trade-union federations (for example, in the Romance countries) was not conducive to the emergence of corporative interest mediation. An exception is the concordance-democratic orientation of [...] Switzerland [...] where the various ideologically and religiously oriented pillars developed patterns similar to corporatism despite fragmentation.11
Another paper states:
There is institutionalized coordination between the organized interests of capital and labour, which is actively promoted by the State. This mediation of interests takes place, on the one hand, in the economic arena of collective labour relations, and, on the other hand, in the political arena of law development and execution. Swiss corporatism, however, has three distinctive features. First, industrial relations are much more decentralized than in other neo-corporatist countries, such as Norway, Austria, or Sweden. Second, the low degree of centralization is accompanied by close coordination of company wage policy, which is ensured by the influential employers' associations. Third, decentralized industrial relations contrast with the strong involvement of employers' associations and unions in policy-making and implementation mechanisms.
Switzerland's classification as a neo-corporatist country is primarily related to the role of employers' associations and trade unions in the policy process. A characteristic of neo-corporatist systems is that interest groups are involved in policy development (input function) and take over steering tasks from the State (output function). In Switzerland, the input function is performed by the associations in consultative bodies, pre-parliamentary expert commissions, and the consultation process. The output function involves the execution of public tasks by associations. A decrease in coordination — that is, a step toward a more pluralistic Anglo-Saxon system — would have to be expressed in a decrease in the influence of employers' associations and trade unions on the development and execution of government tasks.
What explains the political weight of the employee associations despite strong counter-interests? The main reason is the system of direct democracy, which gives organized interests strong institutional veto points.
Are the unions able to build up bargaining power outside their traditional core industries (construction, public infrastructure companies, individual industrial sectors) and thus persuade companies to reach collective solutions? Such an undertaking implies, on the one hand, that the unions expand their structure to the private service sector — the explicit objective of the big trade union UNIA. [...] Because the labour market foundation on which the current system of Swiss social partnership is built is shrinking, while the well-qualified service professions continue to grow. Without broadening this foundation, the days of neo-corporatism are numbered, despite its relative stability.12
In other words — the neo-corporatist social basis of the Swiss State consists in the forced collaboration between capital and labour, the strength of which lies in the system of «direct democracy» and in the presence of corporative structures such as UNIA in key sectors of the economy. This is the neo-corporatist social basis of the State which we must undermine through a process of polarization of public opinion and then smash with revolutionary mass action — only then it will be possible for the working people to storm and demolish the whole rotten superstructure on top of it.
However, this is not to say that the Swiss government system is already totalist. Rather, the Legislature (parliament) plays a predominant role in the government system, being the basis for both the Executive (the Federal Council) and the Judiciary (the courts), with both the Federal Council and the Federal Supreme Court consisting of roughly the same proportion of members of the major bourgeois political parties as parliament. Moreover, the Federal Constitution is explicitly subordinated to the laws passed by parliament. While this appears to be quite democratic, and indeed represents a strengthening of parliament, it is, at the same time, a negation of the principle of the separation of powers expounded by Montesqieu before the French revolution. As Hegel once remarked, when things develop to their extremes, they turn into their opposites. Thus, the strengthening of the Swiss parliament represents, to a certain degree, the strengthening of bourgeois democracy, but, beyond that degree, it represents the conversion of parliament into a corporate structure. However, it is worth to keep in mind that this trend — the trend toward the weakening of the separation of powers by integrating the three powers — is only one of two totalist trends within the State, namely, the absolutist trend. The other totalist trend is the corporatist trend, which is represented in the strengthening of cantonal power, corporatism, «direct democracy», and so on. As Gonzalo pointed out, the essence of totalism consists in the negation of parliamentarism and the separation of powers, either by absolutist or corporatist means.13 And, as regards the referendums and initiatives, our so-called «direct democracy», their corporatist nature is even recognized by bourgeois academics, such as the Historical Dictionary of Switzerland (directly funded by the Federal Government), which writes:
Corporatism, which nostalgically glorified Switzerland before 1798 and drew a picture of it as a community existing in impermeable stability with strong — very idealized — internal cohesion, demanded a restriction of free competition. The latter was to be achieved through planning, which was coordinated, not by the State, but by the professions, and the rejection of parliamentarism, which was seen only as a source of chaos. Corporatism also opposed the centralist interventionism of the Federal Government and the advance of the welfare State, which in its eyes only led to secessionism. Anti-capitalist and anti-socialist in outlook, it advocated reconciliation rather than class struggle, cooperation between capital and labour, and defence of the middle class. It affirmed federalism, remained attached to the traditional image of a genuinely democratic Old Switzerland, and dreamed of a State in the role of arbiter, supported by the bodies of society, the pillars of national unity: the community, the family, the profession, the Church, the nation. In short, it dreamed of a natural direct democracy.14
In other words, the much-vaunted «direct democracy», which is so beloved by the Swiss «People's» Party and countless philistines all over the world, is a corporatist imposition. And, in the words of Benito Mussolini, the Italian fascist leader:
[...] an institution in virtue of which, in the centre and outside, integral corporation becomes an accomplished fact, where balance is achieved between interests and forces of the economic world [...] is only possible within the sphere of the State, because the State alone transcends the contrasting interests of groups and individuals, in view of coordinating them to achieve higher aims. The achievement of these aims is speeded up by the fact that all economic organizations, acknowledged, safeguarded, and supported by the Corporate State, exist within the orbit of Fascism; in other words, they accept the conception of Fascism in theory and in practice.
We have constituted a Corporate and Fascist state, the State of national society, a State which concentrates, controls, harmonizes, and tempers the interests of all social classes, which are thereby protected in equal measure.15
Is this not precisely the function of so-called «direct democracy» in this country?
Thus, what exists in Switzerland is a deeply undermined, reactionary, pseudo-parliamentary government system on a corporatist social basis, which constantly balances between bourgeois democracy and totalism, and the experience of 1939-52 has proved that it is indeed extremely easy (and extremely legal) for the ruling class to implement totalism should they wish to do so.16 Moreover, it should be recalled that the initiative that put an end to rule by decree and reimplemented referendums and initiatives in 1952 was proposed by the League of Vaud, advocates of corporatism who sought a different type of totalist rule in Switzerland and not a simple return to parliamentarism. However, the corporatists did not manage to fully remodel the Swiss State along corporate lines, as they had previously attempted to do with the Initiative for a Total Revision of the Federal Constitution in 1935 (which was supported by the Christian Democratic People's Party, today known as The Centre), and Switzerland returned to its pseudo-parliamentary government system. This is an important thesis to understand for anyone who engages with the Swiss political system.
#1.5. THE WORKING PEOPLE REJECT THE ELECTIONS
Not only is the Swiss government system a pseudo-democratic sham, but the working people of Switzerland recognize this as a fact. According to official data from the Federal Statistics Office, only 45,11% of those eligible to vote actually cast a vote. This in itself is ridiculous and humiliating for «the world's most democratic country», but this number doesn't tell the full story. Rather, it serves as a fig leaf, on the one hand, for the profound crisis of parliamentarism in this country, which goes much deeper than the ruling class admits; and, on the other hand, for the disenfranchisement of a whole 1/4 of the Swiss population on ethnic grounds.17 Let us examine the much-vaunted «Swiss democracy» a little bit closer by using the following table, which consists of official data from the Federal Council and the Federal Statistics Office concerning the 2019 Federal Elections:
|CATEGORY||NUMBER||PERCENTAGE OF TOTAL POPULATION|
|Swiss Residents and Nationals||9'406'033||109,3%|
|Swiss Nationals Abroad||800'000||9,3%|
|Swiss Nationals in Switzerland||6'430'658||74,7%|
|Foreign Nationals in Switzerland||2'175'375||25,3%|
|Eligible to Vote||5'459'218||63,4%|
|Swiss Nationals Abroad Registered to Vote||185'093||2,2%|
|Did Not Vote||6'143'392||71,4%|
|Did Not Cast a Valid Ballot||6'181'782||71,8%|
|Total of Valid Votes in Switzerland||2'239'158||26,0%|
|Total of Non-Voters and Invalid Votes in Switzerland||6'366'875||74,0%|
When we thus subtract the ballots cast by Swiss nationals living abroad, who really have no stake in, and therefore should have no say in, the governance of the country, and take into account the disenfranchised residents of Switzerland, that is, overwhelmingly adult migrant workers without Swiss citizenship, as well as a great number of working youth and other disenfranchised persons, we get the following result: 6'366'875 persons, or 74% of the total population of the country, did not participate in the 2019 Federal Elections. That is to say, the electoral process has an approval rate of only 26% of the total population of Switzerland. This is by far the lowest voter turnout of any developed country in the world. If we were to compare these numbers with the official voter turnout in other countries to rub some salt in the festering wound that is this pseudo-democracy, Switzerland would be the country with the fourth-lowest voter turnout in the world — just above Haiti (2015), Afghanistan (2019), and Algeria (2021), and just below Benin (2019). «The world's most democratic country» indeed!
#2. THE ACTIVE ELECTORAL BOYCOTT
#2.1. PARLIAMENT CANNOT BE USED TO CONQUER POLITICAL POWER
With this understanding of the Swiss government system, is there any chance of the Communists being able to utilize it for a «peaceful transition to socialism» or even just for agitation and propaganda? None at all. A so-called «peaceful transition to socialism», meaning the seizure and defence of political power for the working people, is everywhere and has always been completely impossible. The capitalist State is the class dictatorship of the capitalists, and dictatorship, in the final instance, means rule unrestricted by law. As soon as the working-class movement grows in strength and begins to threaten capitalist rule, the capitalist State immediately launches into counter-revolutionary terror to drown the revolution in blood. As Lenin pointed out:
You say that your State is free, whereas, in reality, as long as there is private property, your State, even if it is a democratic republic, is nothing but a machine used by the capitalists to suppress the workers, and the freer the State, the more clearly is this expressed. Examples of this are Switzerland in Europe and the United States in the Americas. Nowhere does capital rule so cynically and ruthlessly, and nowhere is it so clearly apparent, as in these countries, although they are democratic republics, no matter how prettily they are painted and notwithstanding all the talk about labour democracy and the equality of all citizens. The fact is that, in Switzerland and the United States, capital dominates, and every attempt of the workers to achieve the slightest real improvement in their condition is immediately met by civil war. There are fewer soldiers, a smaller standing army, in these countries — Switzerland has a militia and every Swiss has a gun at home, while, in the United States, there was no standing army until quite recently — and so, when there is a strike, the bourgeoisie arms, hires soldiery, and suppresses the strike; and nowhere is this suppression of the working-class movement accompanied by such ruthless severity as in Switzerland and the United States, and nowhere does the influence of capital in parliament manifest itself as powerfully as in these countries. The power of capital is everything, the stock exchange is everything, while parliament and elections are marionettes, puppets...1
But we do not have to limit ourselves to a theoretical exposition of the reasons why a «peaceful transition» is impossible — we can also quote the official legislation of the Swiss State itself. We only have to cite two official documents — the Federal Constitution and the Federal Act on Police Measures to Combat Terrorism. The latter defines «terrorist activity» as follows:
[...] efforts to influence or change the State order, which are to be realized or helped by committing or threatening to commit serious criminal offences or by spreading or threatening to spread fear.
Meanwhile, the former defines one aspect of «the State order» as follows:
The right to own property is guaranteed.
In other words, to «spread or threaten to spread fear» in order to «influence or change» «the right to own property» (for example, by pointing out the fact that capitalism is literally destroying the Earth's climate in an attempt to convince the people to abolish private ownership of the means of production) is considered «terrorist activity». Moreover, the very same law allows the federal police, without the approval of a court, to ban people as young as 12 years from meeting with certain people, ban them from leaving the country, ban them from going to certain places, put them under electronic surveillance and to confine people as young as 15 in their own homes — all because of the suspicion that they may one day become «terrorists» under the definition quoted above! This is a truly terrorist, truly fascist, totalist law, which not only breaks international law, but also all the standards, norms, and principles of bourgeois democracy. Here is the true face of capitalist «democracy»!
What «peaceful transition» is possible under this political system? Absolutely none. This government system and the State system to which it is attached were manufactured by the big capitalists to serve them, and it cannot be turned against them — like Tolkien's One Ring, it must be destroyed, lest it corrupt those who attempt to wield it. Thus, Mao Zedong pointed out:
The conquest of political power by armed force, the settlement of the issue by war, is the central task and the highest form of revolution. This Marxist-Leninist principle of revolution holds good universally, for China and for all other countries.18
#2.2. WHETHER OR NOT TO BOYCOTT THE ELECTIONS IS A TACTICAL AND NOT A STRATEGIC QUESTION
In recent years, a dogmato-revisionist trend has emerged within the international Communist movement, which has taken on the name of «Marxism-Leninism-Maoism, principally Maoism», mostly proliferating since 2015 due to the prevalence of online propaganda by a few small dogmato-revisionist groups in the United States, Germany, and elsewhere in the imperialist countries, which have engaged in a number of provocateur-like actions, causing them to get a lot of attention on the Internet. Hence, the Maoist movement in the imperialist countries today is generally associated by people with little knowledge of its history, theory, and practice with these sectarian grouplets, which is an understandable misconception to a certain extent. However, as genuine Communists (who uphold Marxism-Leninism-Maoism because it is the Communism of today, not because of dogma), we have to defend ourselves against this association, no matter how understandable it might be. Our Communism, our Marxism-Leninism-Maoism, is the ideology of Karl Marx, Nikolaj Lenin, and Mao Zedong; it is the ideology that guided the Russian and Chinese revolutions; it is the ideology that guides the revolutionary protracted people's wars in Anatolia, Burma, India, and the Philippines today, where Marxist-Leninist-Maoist political parties have taken up arms together with the working people to conquer political power and create a better life for the people, just like our Party intends to do in our «own» country. But in order to do so, it is necessary that we dispel some illusions about the nature of Maoism in the imperialist countries, draw a sharp line of demarcation between ourselves and the dogmato-revisionists, and clarify that our electoral boycott is being carried out for well-grounded tactical reasons, and not for dogmatic «strategic» reasons, as the dogmato-revisionists do their own incessant «boycott campaigns» (which encourage nothing but what Lenin condemned as passive abstention).
The dogmato-revisionists are most famous for such publicity stunts as nailing pigs' heads to public libraries in Austin, Texas, carrying a five-metre tall portrait of a dead Peruvian man through the streets of Hamburg while shouting slogans in broken Spanish, and spraypainting wall after wall across Europe in the same ugly handwriting, with the same blinding shade of red, and the same incomprehensible slogans, often in foreign languages which they themselves do not speak. However, all this nonsense supposedly has a «strategic character», according to the «strategic» levels of radical phrase-mongering that these people have mastered, particularly the dogmato-revisionists of the «Committee Red Flag» in Germany — which runs the website demvolkedienen.org, the magazine Klassenstandpunkt [Class Standpoint], and the newspaper Rote Post [Red Mail], and prefers to act in public through front groups — which once wrote an article, which they still hold in quite high regard, concerning this question. To begin with, we would like to quote the central thesis of this article:
We would like to conclude this article by repeating that the electoral boycott has a strategic significance for the reconstitution of the Communist Parties, both in this country and in the whole world. It is a line of demarcation between Marxism and revisionism, between revolution and counter-revolution. It allows us to establish links with the deepest and broadest masses. It is the means by which we can destroy the links between ourselves and the old State and build a truly proletarian political party.19
Of course, such a «strategic significance» is the very opposite of Marxism-Leninism-Maoism. Lenin said: «[...] what is most important, that which constitutes the very gist, the living soul, of Marxism [is] a concrete analysis of a concrete situation.»20 Moreover, Lenin rejected the notion that there could be any such thing as an «electoral strategy», stating: «It should be borne in mind that we have always presented this question concretely, and in connection with a definite political situation. [...] The principal difference between revolutionary Socialism and opportunist Socialism on the question of boycott is as follows: the opportunists in all circumstances confine themselves to applying the stereotyped method [...].»21 Thus, the dogmato-revisionists' fundamental criterion for viewing the electoral question is a revision of the criterion of Marxism-Leninism-Maoism.
Moving on, the article lays out a number of arguments for why the electoral boycott is not a tactical, but a strategic question. The first argument reads as follows:
To understand the strategic significance and role of the electoral boycott, one must first consider the general international situation of the workers' movement. We are today in the strategic offensive of the proletarian world revolution, which means that imperialism will be swept off the face of the Earth within the «next 50 to 100 years». [...] Today, we can no longer assume that the situation is the same as when Lenin led the Russian revolution at the beginning of the 20th century, because we have moved from the strategic defensive to the strategic stalemate to the strategic offensive of the proletarian world revolution. This is a damn big difference!19
This argument is once again completely revisionist. Gonzalo once defined revisionism as follows: «Revisionism refers to the revision of Marxist principles by invoking new conditions.»22 So, by invoking the «new conditions» of the «strategic offensive» of the proletarian-socialist world revolution, the Committee Red Flag seeks to revise Lenin's criterion, which is the sole Marxist criterion for evaluating the electoral question. However, does their talk about «new conditions» have any merit, or is it simply a pretext for revising the fundamental principles of Marxism-Leninism-Maoism? It is plainly and simply the latter, as we shall now demonstrate.
To begin with, the dogmato-revisionists quote the Communist Party of Peru on the supposed «strategic offensive» of the world revolution. It is quite true that Gonzalo and the Peruvian Party took up this erroneous standpoint during the People's War in Peru, having failed to understand the implications that the capitalist restorations in China, Albania, Kampuchea, and other countries had for the balance of forces between revolution and counter-revolution on a world scale. Indeed, the world revolution, which had been on the cusp of entering the strategic offensive in 1966-70, was struck powerful blows and retreated to the stage of strategic defensive. In order to explain this, we have to be faithful to Gonzalo's actual argumentation, and not mystify his mistaken ideas. The Communist Party of Peru wrote:
Chairman Gonzalo expounds that, in the process of the world revolution to sweep imperialism and reaction off the face of the Earth, there are three stages: first, the strategic defensive; second, the strategic stalemate; and, third, the strategic offensive of the world revolution. He does this by applying the law of contradiction to the world revolution, because the law of contradiction governs everything and all contradictions consist of two aspects in struggle, which in this case are revolution and counter-revolution. The strategic defensive of the world revolution, as opposed to the offensive of the counter-revolution, began in 1871 with the Paris Commune and ended with the Second World War. The strategic stalemate took place around the time of the victory of the Chinese revolution, the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution, and the powerful development of the national-liberation movement. Afterward, the world revolution entered its strategic offensive; this stage can be identified in history in connection with the 1980s, in which we see indications such as the Iran-Iraq War, Afghanistan, Nicaragua, and the initiation of the People's War in Peru — an era that is part of the «next 50 to 100 years». [...] Furthermore, it is not strange that we should apply these three stages to the world revolution, because Chairman Mao applied them to the process of the protracted people's war.22
Hence, this is one way of viewing the process of the proletarian-socialist world revolution, one which relies on Mao Zedong's theory of the three stages of the protracted war. What did Mao say about these three stages? He wrote:
Since the Sino-Japanese War is a protracted one and final victory will belong to China, it can reasonably be assumed that this protracted war will pass through three stages. The first stage covers the period of the enemy's strategic offensive and our strategic defensive. The second stage will be the period of the enemy's strategic consolidation and our preparation for the counter-offensive. The third stage will be the period of our strategic counter-offensive and the enemy's strategic retreat. It is impossible to predict the concrete situation in the three stages, but certain main trends in the war may be pointed out in the light of present conditions. The objective course of events will be exceedingly rich and varied, with many twists and turns, and nobody can cast a horoscope for the Sino-Japanese War [...].
[...] That the war will be protracted is certain, but nobody can predict exactly how many months or years it will last, as this depends entirely upon the degree of the change in the balance of forces. All those who wish to shorten the war have no alternative but to work hard to increase our own strength and reduce that of the enemy. Specifically, the only way is to strive to win more battles and wear down the enemy's forces, develop guerrilla warfare to reduce enemy-occupied territory to a minimum, consolidate and expand the united front to rally the forces of the whole nation, build up new armies and develop new war industries, promote political, economic, and cultural progress, mobilize the workers, peasants, businesspeople, intellectuals, and other sections of the people, disintegrate the enemy forces and win over their soldiers, carry on international propaganda to secure foreign support, and win the support of the Japanese people and other oppressed peoples. Only by doing all this can we reduce the duration of the war. There is no magic shortcut.23
Mao also pointed out that, among all the various driving forces in the protracted war, the most essential one was the revolutionary base areas. He wrote:
[...] the establishment of base areas [...] is important and essential because of the protracted nature and ruthlessness of the war. The recovery of our lost territories will have to await the nationwide strategic counter-offensive; by then, the enemy's front will have extended deep into central China and cut it in two from north to south, and a part or even a greater part of our territory will have fallen into the hands of the enemy and become their rear. We shall have to extend guerrilla warfare all over this vast enemy-occupied area, make a front out of the enemy's rear, and force them to fight ceaselessly throughout the territory they occupy. Until such time as our strategic counter-offensive is launched and so long as our lost territories are not recovered, it will be necessary to persist in guerrilla warfare in the enemy's rear, certainly for a fairly long time, though one cannot say definitely for how long. This is why the war will be a protracted one. And in order to safeguard their gains in the occupied areas, the enemy is bound to step up their anti-guerrilla measures and, especially after the halting of their strategic offensive, to embark on relentless suppression of the guerrillas. With ruthlessness thus added to protractedness, it will be impossible to sustain guerrilla warfare behind the enemy lines without base areas.
What, then, are these base areas? They are the strategic bases on which the guerrilla forces rely in performing their strategic tasks and achieving the object of preserving and expanding themselves and destroying and driving out the enemy. Without such strategic bases, there will be nothing to depend on in carrying out any of our strategic tasks or achieving the aim of the war. It is a characteristic of guerrilla warfare behind the enemy lines that it is fought without a rear, for the guerrilla forces are severed from the country's general rear. But guerrilla warfare could not last long or grow without base areas. The base areas, indeed, are its rear.24
With this understanding of Mao's theory of the three stages in mind, we should now look at Gonzalo's own explanation of the section of the General Political Line of the Communist Party of Peru quoted above. At the Party's First National Congress in 1988-89, Gonzalo said:
By taking political economy as his starting point, Chairman Mao established the strategy of the world revolution as the road of encircling the metropoles of the world from the countryside of the world. Of course, his starting point was political economy. This sounds like a lie, right? But in fact it is a thesis of highly developed international political strategy. But how does he derive it from political economy? He argues for it economically on the basis of the relations of production in the backward countries and the relations of exploitation in the developed countries, the imperialist countries, or whatever you want to call them. The argument is derived from this interrelation. But why do we not put this forward in the document [On Marxism-Leninism-Maoism]? You want to know why? Because some people think that this thesis is Lin Biao's, because he was the one who publicized it. This thesis is hidden in the document, Long Live the Victory of People's War!. Therefore, it is easy to brand this thesis as Lin Biao-ism. And we are aware of the fact that some people consider us to be Lin Biao-ists, even though they don't tell us. Do you understand? This is how it is, comrades. Everything has to be said at the right time, because this thesis will come out, comrades. We are already stating it in our newspapers, are we not? But won't the Revolutionary Internationalist Movement get angry with us? Of course they will get angry with us! Hence, we have to look at things in their proper context. The revolution is protracted, comrades. I am not talking about the revolution in one country, but about the world revolution!25
What, then, did Mao Zedong put forward through Lin Biao that this conception is based on? Lin Biao wrote:
Taking the entire globe, if North America and Western Europe can be called «the cities of the world», then Asia, Africa, and Latin America constitute «the rural areas of the world». Since the Second World War, the proletarian-revolutionary movement has for various reasons been temporarily held back in the North American and Western European countries, while the people's revolutionary movement in Asia, Africa, and Latin America has been growing vigorously. In a sense, the contemporary world situation also presents a picture of the encirclement of cities by the rural areas. In the final analysis, the whole cause of world revolution hinges on the revolutionary struggles of the Asian, African, and Latin American peoples, who make up the overwhelming majority of the world's population. The socialist countries should regard it as their internationalist duty to support the people's revolutionary struggles in Asia, Africa, and Latin America.26
It was in this light that Gonzalo spoke of the world people's war. He said:
We don't conceive of a world people's war as an action that will take place simultaneously on a certain day and at a certain hour. We conceive of it as unfolding in the future, and related to the 50 to 100 years that Chairman Mao Zedong predicted. We see it as great waves of people's war, until finally all of them converge like the legions of steel of a great worldwide Red Army, as Lenin himself said. This is how we see it. We think this is the only road to follow. The problem, I insist, is that there is a risk of world war and it would be a huge massacre, from which could only come misery, injustice, pain, and death, and more reasons to put an end to them. The only solution, therefore, is people's war, which, conceived of in waves, will lead to a world people's war and the fusion of the legions of steel of the international proletariat, of the people, who in the end will carry out our historical mission. We have the great fortune to live in these decades in which imperialism and reaction will be swept away, because what Chairman Mao foresaw will be attained. If we do not see it ourselves, others who follow us will, because the legions are increasing more and more.
What is the problem? What is the key link? To put Marxism-Leninism-Maoism in command. And with Maoism mainly, take up people's war, which is universally applicable, taking into account the character of each revolution and the specific conditions of each country.27
Finally, what is all this business about imperialism and reaction being swept away during the «50 to 100 years» of the «strategic offensive» of the world revolution? This erroneous idea of Gonzalo's was based on a statement by Mao Zedong, which reads as follows:
It has taken over 300 years for the capitalist productive forces to develop to their present state. Socialism is vastly superior to capitalism, and our economy will develop faster than those of the capitalist countries. But China has a large population, had little to start with, and is economically backward, so, in my opinion, it will be impossible for it to catch up with and overtake the world's most developed capitalist countries in less than 100 years. Perhaps it will actually take only a few decades — say, 50 years — as some people envisage. If it does turn out that way, we'll thank Heaven and Earth and it will be wonderful! But I would advise comrades to anticipate more difficulties and so to envisage a somewhat longer period. It took more than 300 years to build up a powerful capitalist economy; what would be wrong with building a powerful socialist economy in our country in about 50 to 100 years? The next 50 to 100 years or so, beginning from now, will be a great era of radical change in the social system throughout the world, an earth-shaking era without equal in any previous historical period. Living in such an era, we must be prepared to engage in tremendous struggles which in form will have many features different from those of struggles in the past. In this undertaking, we must integrate in the best possible way the universal truth of Marxism-Leninism with the concrete realities of China's socialist construction and with those of the world revolution now and in the future, and, through practice, gradually get to know the objective laws of struggle. We must be prepared to suffer many failures and setbacks resulting from our blindness, and thereby gain experience and win final victory. When we see things in this light, there are many advantages in envisaging a longer period of time, whereas harm might result from envisaging a shorter period.28
Now that we have all the facts in mind, we can now proceed to dismantle this dogmato-revisionist «strategic offensive», which is the basis for so much of their nonsensical phrase-mongering, totally and completely.
First of all, if we conceive of the proletarian-socialist world revolution as a protracted process on a world scale, a world people's war, which has to pass through the three stages of strategic defensive, stalemate, and offensive before winning final victory, then we must define what the driving forces of this protracted process actually are. As Mao explained in the quotation from Problems of Guerrilla War Against Japan, the main driving force of this process is the construction of revolutionary base areas, which Gonzalo also described as «the essence of people's war».22 What are these revolutionary base areas on the world scale? As Gonzalo argued, in line with Mao's thinking as expressed by Lin Biao:
At another time, when the revolution was already developing further, and, in our opinion, passed over to the strategic stalemate, Chairman Mao raised the question of the strategy of the world revolution. Today, what we believe is that the world revolution has entered its strategic offensive.
So, the Chairman had already predicted all this, which is why I believe that he conceived of the world revolution as a single whole. Thus, he came to put forward that China should be a base area to serve the world revolution, hence his grand efforts to train cadres to wage people's war, mainly in the backward countries.25
Thus, we can clearly see that, by the base areas of the world, we are meant to understand nothing but the socialist countries; the national-liberation movement can at most be the «guerrilla zones of the world» from this point of view.
How, then, could the world revolution have entered its strategic offensive in the year 1980? Gonzalo mentioned the examples of the People's War in Peru, the Iran-Iraq War, the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, and the Nicaraguan revolution (which was aborted half-way). How in the world can any of these examples serve as evidence for a strategic offensive of the world revolution? A strategic offensive relies on base areas, that is to say, on socialist countries. But this logical inconsistency is no surprise, coming as it does from people who genuinely believe, not only that there is still a people's war in Peru, but that it is actually almost at the point of a strategic offensive!
Moving on to the question of the «50 to 100 years». This statement was made by Mao Zedong in 1962. If we do a little bit of maths, we can thus conclude that the dogmato-revisionists believe that the world revolution will achieve complete victory, with imperialism and reaction disappearing completely (that is, only socialist and new-democratic States will exist on Earth), sometime between the years 2012 and 2062! How is that going for you? Sure, the capitalist destruction of the Earth's climate is leading to a rapid sharpening of all the contradictions at the world level, which may very well lead to an enormous global upsurge of revolutions before 2062, but neither Mao nor Gonzalo had any knowledge of that, and our dogmato-revisionist friends themselves are climate-change deniers, going so far as to make statements such as this (taken from an internal document of the «Committee Red Flag»):
Another campaign that is currently being developed as part of the general counter-revolutionary offensive is the so-called «climate movement» [...]. It is portrayed as a classless mass movement, because it apparently concerns the extinction of humanity, so everyone who is in favour of the continued existence of humanity must support it. Some self-proclaimed Marxist organizations, small groups, and individuals also fall for this and tail the movement. [...] what must be said about the «climate movement» in the Federal Republic of Germany is that it wholly and fully serves one section of the German imperialist big bourgeoisie. The masses mobilized for it mainly stem from the small bourgeoisie and especially its intellectual stratum. The youth who are marching in the streets as part of this movement are generally high school and university students, with only a few of them actually stemming from the deepest and broadest masses, who have more important problems to think about than global warming.
It must also be repeated that the claim about humanity's extinction by climate change is a complete lie and solely serves the purpose of creating public opinion. Climate change is a recurring phenomenon in the Earth's history, and not even the ice age could eliminate humanity in northern Europe. What is actually threatened by climate change is the stability of the imperialist States, as the increase in the Earth's temperature intenifies the suffering of many oppressed nations, for example, in Africa, which leads to more people fleeing to the imperialist States. This will most likely reduce the standard of living of the small bourgeoisie and of the labour aristocracy, which creates massive revolutionary potential in the imperialist States.
[...] the bourgeoisie becomes confronted with a problem and must find new ways to include the masses in the system. Such is the purpose of the «climate movement». [...] The masses desire something for which they can fight, and, through the «climate movement», the bourgeoisie gives the masses something which seems important to fight for, but which doesn't threaten the imperialist system.
The «climate movement» is an attempt to neutralize the revolutionary youth and to submit it to the control of the Green Party.29
Of course, the standpoint of Karl Marx on the climate question is like a revealing mirror for the dogmato-revisionists: «Capitalist production, therefore, develops technology and the combination of various processes into a social whole, only by sapping the original sources of all wealth — the soil and the labourer.»30
But we digress. According to these dogmato-revisionists, it is perfectly normal for a people's war, such as the one in Peru, to last for 43 years, of which 30 have been completely without proletarian leadership and 24 completely without armed actions, unless they count those carried out by the cocaine cartel in the VRAEM region (the so-called «Militarized Communist Party of Peru», which upholds «Xi Jinping's Thought», whose actions they have promoted since 1999 and pictures of whom they have proudly displayed as genuine documentation of the «Peruvian People's Liberation Army» since 2013). By this logic, every country in the world would have needed to launch a people's war four year ago at the latest. So, how can the world revolution possibly triumph in the next 39 years? It is completely laughable! Finally, this statement by Mao was never meant as anything other than an estimate on the basis of, first, the time it took for previous classes to conquer political power in the course of their world revolutions, and, second, conditions existing in 1962 which are completely non-existent today, such as multiple socialist countries (in which 1/4 of the world population lived), a powerful national-liberation movement, and a genuine labour movement in a number of imperialist countries in some of which anti-revisionist forces were beginning to emerge. We would be idiots if we were to apply this estimate today. Indeed, even at the time, Mao himself said in the statement quoted above: «When we see things in this light, there are many advantages in envisaging a longer period of time, whereas harm might result from envisaging a shorter period.»28
Moreover, we are at a loss as to why the world revolution being in a strategic offensive would affect either the tactical stage of the world revolution or the strategic stage of the revolution in every country. Even if the whole Third World today was socialist, with revolutions going on in all Western European countries, how would that mean that, say, the Japanese revolution was in the strategic offensive as well? Naturally, the international conditions act through the domestic conditions in a country, but that is exactly the point — they can only act through them as far as the domestic conditions permit. After all, Mao Zedong once said: «The fundamental cause of the development of a thing is not external, but internal; it lies in the contradictoriness within the thing. There is internal contradiction in every single thing, hence its motion and development. Contradictoriness within a thing is the fundamental cause of its development, while its interrelations and interactions with other things are secondary causes. Thus, materialist dialectics effectively combats the theory of external causes, or of an external motive force, advanced by metaphysical mechanical materialism and vulgar evolutionism. It is evident that purely external causes can only give rise to mechanical motion, that is, to changes in scale or quantity, but cannot explain why things differ qualitatively in thousands of ways and why one thing changes into another.»31 So, how can the «correct» policy that one should boycott the elections generally, on a world scale, determinate that one should boycott the elections in every specific country? How can such a «purely external cause» give rise to a «qualitative» change between electoral participation and electoral boycott? We are at a loss, but maybe our dogmato-revisionist «philosophical monists», who are such «good students of Chairman Mao», can give us another «Defence of Maoism», provided they feel like «giving credence to our lies» now that we are dealing with them on a theoretical level rather than simply exposing their anti-Communist crimes as in the past.32
Finally, we would like to quote the self-criticism that Gonzalo himself made following his arrest in 1992 on the question of the «strategic offensive of the world revolution»:
[...] previously, we held that the strategic offensive of the world revolution began in the 1980s; today, we have developed further and we consider that the period 1976-80 represents only a few years. The strategic offensive of the world revolution began with the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution, because it is the highest peak reached by the proletarian world revolution and the national liberation movement under the leadership of the proletariat. Thus, Chairman Mao sought to further develop and deepen the proletarian world revolution.
The present world political ebb derives from the process of restoration, from the creation of unfavourable public opinion of this whole stage of the revolution (140 years). So far, the world political ebb has lasted three years. In the light of Marxism — and this is decisive and the key link in order to sketch out the strategy of the proletarian world revolution in the new great wave — we understand why this period is a hinge between the culmination of one stage of the proletarian world revolution and the future great wave of the proletarian world revolution. This is the argument for the general political withdrawal, among other questions.33
[...] now a future wave is on the horizon, but there will be multiple waves before the new stage of the «50 to 100 years» until 2060 that Chairman Mao predicted can develop and imperialism and reaction can be swept off the face of the Earth. We need more or less 200 years, starting with the Paris Commune, to consolidate the dictatorship of the working class, build socialism, and develop socialism in the direction of communism. However, we have suffered the defeat of the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution, and this had led to a postponement of this estimate. We must fight harder, not stop fighting, because, if we are not capable of fighting, then the future wave of 2060 will be postponed even more. Why do I say this? Because the Chairman said that, if the Cultural Revolution were to fail, then the repercussion would be a delay of 100, 1'000, or even 10'000 years. Therefore, an enormous efforts is required of our class, so that this postponement may be shorter, but it cannot be eliminated. This long period of retreat will be longer or shorter depending on the conditions of the class struggle and, above all, the actions of our class, which must maintain the course whatever bends in the road there may be — this is the key link. When there is a retreat, we must take it seriously; this is not easy, but the proletariat, our class, has experience in handling retreats. The revolution cannot win victory today. In our own case, the situation is similar: we cannot continue the war, because it is impossible to win. So, what should we do? We must preserve our forces for the future, which is why we say that the point is not to defend what today is uncertain and immaterial, but rather to prepare for a future that is certain and real. However, in terms of the proletarian world revolution, we must make an effort to decrease the postponement of the next wave, which is not happening today, but rather will happen in the future. We have to think about it in this way and not act like it is already beginning now. The revolution must be prepared with a sense of strategy, a great evaluation must be made, lessons must be learned, and a plan must be elaborated, just like when we were preparing for the initiation, but with the complex character that the world revolution necessarily implies, and this can and must be fulfilled during this period of retreat.34
In sum, the idea of the «strategic offensive» of the world revolution was nothing but a «Left-wing» overestimation of the objective conditions of the world revolution when Gonzalo put it forward in 1980, and today it is nothing but a delusion in the mind of some cultists in Hamburg, Austin, and other places and the few dozen sycophantic teenagers who tail in their wake; moreover, it has even been disavowed by the person who came up with it. Today, there is only one reality: As a result of the end of the first great wave of the proletarian-socialist world revolution, the world revolution has regressed to the stage of strategic defensive, and it is the main task of the Communists of the world today to prepare for a new great wave of revolution. As Gonzalo put it:
We see that worldwide Maoism is marching relentlessly forward in its task of leading the new wave of the proletarian world revolution. Listen well and understand. Those who have ears, use them. Those who have understanding, and we all have it, use it well. Enough nonsense! Enough confusion! Understand this! What is happening in the world? What do we need? We need Maoism to be a living force, and this is happening. We need Maoism to generate new Communist Parties to direct this new great wave of proletarian world revolution that is upon us.35
Returning to the dogmato-revisionist article, its second main argument reads as follows:
The question of electoral participation or boycott raised by the Russian Communists [...] took place mainly within the framework of the democratic revolution in Russia. So, the stage of bourgeois democracy was not even the question.19
This argument is obviously wrong to anyone who is at all familar with Lenin's criterion for evaluating the electoral question. Lenin not only advocated participation in the bourgeois elections in Russia prior to (the Duma) and after (the Constituent Assembly) the Great November Socialist Revolution. Moreover, he strongly advocated the use of parliament and elections for revolutionary agitation and propaganda in the developed imperialist countries of Western Europe. Just read this excerpt from Lenin's letter to the Austrian Communists:
As long as we are unable to disband the bourgeois parliament, we must work against it both from the outside and the inside. As long as a more or less appreciable number of working people (not only proletarians, but also semi-proletarians and small peasants) still have confidence in the bourgeois-democratic instruments employed by the bourgeoisie for duping the workers, we must expose that deception from the very platform which the backward sections of the workers, particularly of the non-proletarian working people, consider most important and authoritative.
As long as we Communists are unable to take over State power and hold elections, with working people alone voting for their councils against the bourgeoisie; as long as the bourgeoisie exercises State power and calls upon the different classes of the population to take part in the elections, we are in duty bound to take part in the elections with the purpose of conducting agitation among all working people, not only among proletarians.36
Also read what Lenin wrote about Bela Kun, the Hungarian Communist leader, who advocated the exact same strategy of electoral boycott that the dogmato-revisionists do:
«An active boycott», the author writes, «means that the Communist Party does not confine itself to disseminating the slogan advocating non-participation in elections, but, in the interests of the boycott, engages in revolutionary agitation just as extensively as if it were participating in the elections and as if its agitation and action were designed to secure the greatest possible number of proletarian votes.»
This is a gem. This demolishes the anti-parliamentarians better than any criticism could. An «active» boycott is devised «as though» we were participating in elections!! The masses of unenlightened and semi-enlightened workers and peasants take a serious part in elections, for they still entertain bourgeois-democratic prejudices, are still under the sway of those prejudices. And instead of helping the unenlightened (although at times «highly cultured») small bourgeois to get rid of their prejudices by their own experience, we are to hold aloof from taking part in parliaments and to amuse ourselves by inventing tactics free of all commonplace and bourgeois contamination!!
Bravo, bravo, Comrade Bela Kun! By your defence of anti-parliamentarianism, you will help us to destroy this folly much sooner than I can through my criticism.37
Finally, what did Lenin say about the electoral boycott in «the stage of bourgeois democracy», which apparently «was not even the question»? «The very question of a boycott lies within the bounds of bourgeois democracy.»38
In other words, the dogmato-revisionists' second argument is nothing but sophistry, that is, the attempt to wring truth out of thin air by way of a well-sounding argument.
Their third argument reads as follows:
The Duma was something completely new at the historical time when the Majoritarians used it, which the people had fought for at that time. Both are no longer true today, especially in the Federal Republic of Germany. Here, the proletariat no longer has to fight for bourgeois democracy (or rather: democratic revolution), the parliament or the parliaments in the Federal Republic of Germany are already part of the ruling system, that is, of imperialism, from top to bottom, and accordingly represent its interests.19
This is a gem! Let us now read what Lenin wrote about the First Duma, which was the newest and first Russian parliament, which was part of the ruling system «from top to bottom» the most, and which represented the interests of tsarism the most:
At present, the political situation in Russia is as follows: the Bulygin Duma may soon be convened — a consultative assembly of representatives of the feudal lords and the big bourgeoisie, elected under the supervision and with the assistance of the autocratic government's servants on the basis of an electoral system so indirect, so blatantly based on property and social-estate qualifications, that it is sheer mockery of the idea of popular representation. What should our attitude toward this Duma be?
[...] The task confronting the political party of the proletariat is to delay conclusion of this deal [between tsarism on the one hand and the feudal lords and the bourgeoisie on the other hand to put an end to the revolution] for as long as possible, to split up the bourgeoisie as much as possible, to derive from the bourgeoisie's temporary appeals to the people the greatest possible advantage for the revolution, and meanwhile to prepare the forces of the revolutionary people (the proletariat and the peasantry) for the violent overthrow of the autocracy and for the alienation, the neutralization of the treacherous bourgeoisie.
Hence it is clear that our tactics at present should first of all consist in support for the idea of a boycott.38
Thus, it is absolutely not true that «the Majoritarians used» the First Duma; rather, they boycotted it. Moreover, Lenin even more clearly refuted the argument that one should only participate in a parliament that was «something completely new», as the dogmato-revisionists put forward, because «the point is not whether bourgeois parliaments have existed for a long time or a short time, but how far the masses of the working people are prepared (ideologically, politically, and practically) to accept the council system and to dissolve the bourgeois-democratic parliament (or to allow it to be dissolved)».39
To sum up, the dogmato-revisionists err, not because they advocate an electoral boycott, but because they advocate it is a strategy, when it in reality is a purely tactical question. In doing so, they not only contradict, but openly revise, Marxism-Leninism-Maoism. In fact, they even revise Gonzalo's Thought, openly contradicting what Gonzalo himself wrote in the early 1980s:
Thus, the failure to understand that, just as the road of the November Revolution is the road for revolutions in capitalist countries, the road of encircling the cities from the countryside is the road for revolutions in colonial and semi-colonial countries, leads them to raise, in relation to the problem of the accumulation of forces, that the Communist Parties, both in the first and in the second type of countries, must make use of the possibilities offered by bourgeois democracy, although — of course — without falling into parliamentary cretinism.
The problem is, then, that, while it is correct that, in capitalist countries, when there is no revolutionary situation, bourgeois democracy can be used solely and exclusively for purposes of propaganda and agitation, it is incorrect to say that the same should be done in colonial and semi-colonial countries, since there, instead of the existence of bourgeois democracy, there is feudal oppression, albeit disguised in a thousand ways.40
But enough about one bad article. It is not only in the electoral question that the dogmato-revisionists negate the dialectic of strategy and tactics; they always and everywhere restrict themselves to agitation and propaganda for their strategic objectives, without ever having found a way to integrate those strategic objectives with their tactical ones. In fact, the dogmato-revisionist trend originated with their rejection of the appropriate tactic of a peace agreement to end the People's War in Peru proposed by Gonzalo in 1993, which was necessary in order to preserve the revolutionary forces and «live to fight another day», as it was no longer possible to continue the fight with the Party directors who remained free, as they all suffered from serious ideological deviations, with Feliciano, the new General Secretary, being named as the main Right-wing opportunist and a «Trotskijite» by Gonzalo at the Third Plenary Session of the Party's First Central Committee even before the latter's arrest. Rather, they supported Feliciano's opportunist line, which led to the complete defeat of the armed struggle (having shifted away from the military science of the proletariat toward the focus theory) by the year 1999, just as Gonzalo had predicted. This was completely different from the peace agreement in Nepal in 2006, which led to the defeat of the People's War when it could have conquered political power in the whole country. Of course, this is not to say that the tactic of a peace agreement was applied completely correctly in Peru — we do not think so and have our criticisms — but it was the correct tactic nonetheless, as opposed to in Nepal, and the fact that the dogmato-revisionists as a trend originated precisely in 1993, when Gonzalo made the proposal to adopt this tactic, because they opposed it, proves that they are counter-revolutionaries — their contrary tactic was followed by Feliciano between 1992 and '99 and led to the strategic defeat of the People's War, whereas the faction of the Communist Party of Peru that adopted this tactic continues to exist today, and in fact has a large mass basis.
Our revolutionary strategy is the road of the November Revolution: creating an underground organization of revolutionaries with roots among the masses, influencing and giving impetus to the organization of the working people, and waging a revolutionary struggle whose primary aspect is revolutionary mass action (that is, political struggle), thus polarizing public opinion to undermine and liquidate the corporatist «social peace» and the temporary stability of the government system, and, through empowering the working people, preparing and launching insurrections, eventually leading to a protracted class war, all guided by the doctrine and military science of the working class; any and all tactics which we adopt must serve this strategy and exist solely within its framework. This is what we are doing and what we are going to do. However, that does not mean that we do not see a difference between offensive and defensive tactics. As Lenin said: «[The Communists] had to complete their education. They were learning how to attack. Now they had to realize that such knowledge must be supplemented with the knowledge of how to retreat in good order. They had to realize — and it is from bitter experience that the revolutionary class learns to realize this — that victory is impossible unless one has learned how to attack and retreat properly. Of all the defeated opposition and revolutionary parties, the Majoritarians effected the most orderly retreat, with the least loss to their ‹army›, with its core best preserved, with the least significant splits (in point of depth and incurability), with the least demoralization, and in the best condition to resume work on the broadest scale and in the most correct and energetic manner. «It is entirely a matter of knowing how to apply these tactics in order to raise — not lower — the general level of proletarian class-consciousness, revolutionary spirit, and ability to fight and win.» «The Majoritarians achieved this only because they ruthlessly exposed and expelled the revolutionary phrase-mongers, those who did not wish to understand that one had to retreat, that one had to know how to retreat [...].»39 That is to say, we must know how to apply both defensive and offensive tactics, depending on the objective conditions, in a way that does not contradict our strategic objective of conquering political power by means of armed struggle.
In sum, when discussing our electoral tactics, we must bear in mind that this is a tactical, not a strategic, question, and that the tactic we choose must serve our strategic objective, namely, to reconstitute the Communist Party in Switzerland.41
#2.3. CAN WE USE THE ELECTIONS FOR AGITATION AND PROPAGANDA?
But can the Swiss Communists make use of parliament for agitation and propaganda today? No. As we have emphasized above, this is a purely tactical question, one which we can answer on the basis of our above concrete analysis of the concrete situation in this country. And what is the result of this analysis? Simply the clear-cut facts that the vast majority of the Swiss population does not participate in the electoral farce; that great numbers of wage-workers are disenfranchised due to their nationality or age; that one cannot use parliament as a tribune due to innumerous limitations and restrictions imposed on small political parties; that the referendums and initiatives are corporatist forms which, while they should be critically utilized, so as not to let opportunists (and particularly the Social-Democratic Party) traffic with the class struggle, cannot actually serve the conquest of political power; that it is practically impossible for working-class deputies to serve in parliament under the militia system; that registering a political party for the elections opens up the floodgates of surveillance, State oversight, and monetary corruption; and so on, and so forth.
Furthermore, we expect that some people will seek to use Lenin against us, in spite of the fact that Lenin himself advocated a boycott during the Russian Revolution of 1905-07. In anticipation of such arguments, we would like to quote Lenin's argument on why it is necessary to use reactionary elections and parliaments for agitation and propaganda. He wrote:
Parliamentarism has become «historically obsolete». That is true in the propagandistic sense. However, everybody knows that this is still a far cry from overcoming it in practice. Capitalism could have been declared — and with full justice — to be «historically obsolete» many decades ago, but that does not at all remove the need for a very long and very persistent struggle on the basis of capitalism. Parliamentarism is «historically obsolete» from the standpoint of world history, that is, the era of bourgeois parliamentarism is over, and the era of the proletarian dictatorship has begun. That is incontestable. But world history is counted in decades. 10 or 20 years earlier or later makes no difference when measured with the yardstick of world history; from the standpoint of world history, it is a trifle that cannot be considered even approximately. But for that very reason, it is a glaring theoretical error to apply the yardstick of world history to practical politics.
Is parliamentarism «politically obsolete»? That is quite a different matter. [...]
[...] How can one say that «parliamentarism is politically obsolete» when «millions» and «legions» of proletarians are not only still in favour of parliamentarism in general, but are downright «counter-revolutionary»?! It is obvious that parliamentarism [...] is not yet politically obsolete. It is obvious that the «Left-wingers» [...] have mistaken their desire, their ideological and political attitude, for objective reality. [...] Parliamentarism is of course «politically obsolete» to the Communists [...]; but — and that is the whole point — we must not regard what is obsolete to us as something obsolete to a class, to the masses. Here again we find that the «Left-wingers» do not know how to reason, do not know how to act as the political party of a class, as the political party of the masses. You must not sink to the level of the masses, to the level of the backward strata of the class. That is incontestable. You must tell them the bitter truth. You are in duty bound to call their bourgeois-democratic and parliamentary prejudices what they are — prejudices. But, at the same time, you must soberly follow the actual state of the class-consciousness and preparedness of the entire class (not only of its Communist vanguard) and of all the working people (not only of their advanced elements).
Even if only a fairly large minority of the industrial workers, and not «millions» and «legions», follow the lead of the Catholic clergy — and a similar minority of rural workers follow the landowners and the rich peasants — it undoubtedly signifies that parliamentarism [...] has not yet politically outlived itself, that participation in parliamentary elections and in the struggle on the parliamentary rostrum is obligatory on the political party of the revolutionary proletariat specifically for the purpose of educating the backward strata of its own class, and for the purpose of awakening and enlightening the undeveloped, downtrodden, and ignorant rural masses. While you lack the strength to do away with bourgeois parliaments and every other type of reactionary institution, you must work within them, because it is there that you will still find workers who are duped by the priests and stultified by the conditions of rural life; otherwise you risk turning into nothing but windbags.
The conclusion which follows from this is absolutely incontrovertible: It has been proved that, far from causing harm to the revolutionary proletariat, participation in a bourgeois-democratic parliament, even a few weeks before the victory of a Council Republic and even after such a victory, actually helps that proletariat to prove to the backward masses why such parliaments deserve to be done away with; it facilitates their successful dissolution, and helps to make bourgeois parliamentarism «politically obsolete».39
This argument is indeed very sound and compelling, and deserves to be taken seriously. It is our task to Helveticize and modernize Marxism and the Party's Guiding Thought (the historical theory and practice of the Party's Left wing, represented mainly by Jakob Herzog). This can only be done by creatively integrating it with our concrete conditions here and now. So, what do we reply to Lenin?
First of all, we agree with the fundamental criterion that the tactical question of whether to participate in or boycott the elections is a purely tactical question which depends on whether or not the working people actually have faith in the government system.
Secondly, as we have proved in Section 1.5, of the working people in Switzerland, it is primarily a minority, namely, the voting democrats (see Section 2.4 below), who actually participate in the electoral farce. Hence, the task is first of all to win the non-voters before winning the voters, as we Communists are still in the process of reconstituting our Party, and thus do not have the forces to do both at the same time at present.
Thirdly, as we shall explain in Section 2.4 below, it is not beneficial for the Communist Party to work in parliament, but rather to work with other political parties in the socialist united front to win the backward sections of the masses. The Party is, and must remain until the conquest of political power throughout the country, an underground organization, and that is fundamentally incompatible with open electoral and parliamentarian activity under modern surveillance capitalism.
Thus, it is not our task to lead the non-voters back into the electoral circus, but rather to mobilize, educate, organize, and arm them for the coming revolutionary struggle. As Herzog said:
What is the reason that the proletariat of these countries [where there has previously been no revolutionary activity in parliament on the Russian model, even though the economic development of these countries has long made them ripe for proletarian revolution] lags so far behind in revolutionary tactics? Precisely because, in these republics and democracies, the opportunity existed to make improvements in the standard of living of the proletariat through parliamentarism. And because that was possible, it is understandable that no revolutionary activity could emerge. That is the reason why workers in these countries are making such slow progress toward revolution and have such difficulty acquiring the revolutionary vigour of the Russians.
It was quite different in Russia. The proletariat could not work openly. It could not force through reforms and improve its conditions. It had to take to the streets and carry out revolutionary actions. And that is why parliamentarism could not develop here in Russia as it did in the western European countries.42
And our Party wrote at that time:
Should the Communist Party of Switzerland participate in the elections, that is, send its own candidates to parliament? At the present moment, this is a waste of strength, which would mean the beginning of counter-revolutionary activity. What has been done so far in the field of propaganda, the propaganda and agitation carried on in the mass organizations of the workers in the trade unions, cannot and can never be attributed to the previous activity in parliament; on the contrary, everything that comes from these treasuries has already been overtaken by the current developments. All the laws have an almost inhibiting effect on the whole labour movement.43
In view of these facts, our tactic must be the active electoral boycott. This is the only possible tactic given the facts expounded above.
As to the question of referendums and initiatives, which we have already analysed above, we shall once again quote Lenin. He pointed out:
Utilization of [...] the right of initiative and referendum, not in a reformist manner, in order to advocate reforms «acceptable» to the bourgeoisie, and therefore powerless to remove the principal and fundamental evils suffered by the masses. The aim should be propaganda in favour of Switzerland's socialist transformation, which is quite feasible economically, and is becoming more and more urgently necessary because of the intolerably high cost of living and the oppression of finance capital, and also because the international relations created by the war are impelling the proletariat of the whole of Europe on to the path of revolution.44
We are fully in agreement with this argument. Even though the referendums and initiatives are corporatist impositions, as discussed above, they nonetheless offer an opportunity to win over the backward sections of the masses for the ideas of socialism and communism. Unlike the parliamentary elections, participation in the referendums and initiatives in Switzerland remains relatively high (57,2% in 2021 according to the Federal Statistics Office), as does the faith of certain sections of the people in them. For this reason, as our Party pointed out a long time ago, we must use them, precisely in the spirit expounded by Lenin, to prove to the working people that the referendums and initiatives do not offer them any way out of capitalism. Concerning the initiative on the 48-hour work week in 1920, our Party wrote:
The National Council has adopted this law in order to give itself a reformist veneer, to appear progressive for the sake of social peace. Immediately afterward, however, its reactionary part mobilized the offensive against it. The initiative was brilliantly carried out, a few thousand invalid votes do not detract from the «honesty» of Swiss democracy. The bourgeois political parties remained neutral, because the necessary number of votes would not have been obtained if the opponents of the Working Hours Act had been resolutely opposed. Now we ask ourselves: In view of the unity of the bourgeoisie, may we remain neutral in this parliamentary struggle, the result of which is immediately visible in economic life? No. One may reply: A defeat of the federal employees would revolutionize them. Not at all! The united front of the proletariat is not created by the theory of impoverishment. The federal civil servants would at most become even more conservative if the industrial proletariat abandoned them in this struggle. The solidarity of the industrial proletariat with the federal employees cannot be constructed out of one's head. The achievement of the 48-hour week is today a parliamentary struggle, which is not the fault of us Communists.
Neutrality in the parliamentary struggle for the eight-hour day would not be anti-parliamentarism, but political neutrality. We have to say openly to the federal employees that the hour will soon strike when bourgeois democracy will also set limits to their demands, and that only the mass action of the entire working class can throw off the shackles of all wage slaves. The huge increase in inflation will not do the rest to revolutionize the thinking of all backward workers sailing in the waters of democracy. May our comrades take the right decision.45
#2.4. WE NEED AN ACTIVE BOYCOTT, NOT PASSIVE ABSTENTION
During the Russian Revolution of 1905-07, Lenin advocated «a thorough and determined boycott of the [...] elections» and «a widespread campaign for universal suffrage».46 He pointed out:
[...] we must exert every effort to make the boycott of real use in extending and intensifying agitation, so that it shall not be reduced to mere passive abstention from voting. If we are not mistaken, this idea is already fairly widespred among the comrades working in Russia, who express it in the words: an active boycott. As distinct from passive abstention, an active boycott should imply increasing agitation tenfold, organizing meetings everywhere, taking advantage of election meetings, even if we have to force our way into them, holding demonstrations, political strikes, and so on, and so forth. [...] Such work, however, is unthinkable without a clear, precise, and immediate slogan.38
That slogan is to go among the masses of working people, to mobilize them on the basis of their own concrete demands, to organize them in grassroots organizations that can be influenced by the Party's ideas, and to struggle for the formation of councils of working people's deputies step by step in preparation for the revolution. This is inconceivable without an active boycott and a simultaneous campaign for universal suffrage, which in our case means the right of migrants and youth to actively boycott the elections and fight for council democracy.
We do not need passive abstentionism, but an active boycott campaign. If we look at the Swiss population, it can be divided into the following general groupings based on the level of political consciousness, from the far Left to the far Right:
- Communists, that is, those who completely take the class standpoint of the international proletariat by adopting the ideology of Marxism-Leninism-Maoism, joining the Communist Party, and fighting for a communist society.
- Revolutionary socialists, that is, those who partially take the class standpoint of the proletariat by fighting for a socialist revolution.
- Progressives, that is, those who take the class standpoint of the lower small bourgeoisie by fighting for radical social changes in the people's interest without regard for the law.
- Democrats, that is, those who take the class standpoint of the upper small bourgeoisie by fighting to defend, preserve, and extend the people's rights within the parliamentary system.
- Patriots, that is, those who take the class standpoint of the middle bourgeoisie by opposing the restrictions imposed on the economy by monopoly capital and fighting the influence of the superpowers and of the more powerful imperialist powers, such as Germany and France, on Switzerland.
- Nationalists, that is, those who take the class standpoint of the big bourgeoisie by supporting imperialism.
- Totalists, that is, those who take the class standpoint of the most backward and aggressive elements of the big bourgeoisie.
Under the objective conditions prevailing in Switzerland today, it is necessary for the Communists to unite with, win over, and come to lead the revolutionary socialists, progressives, and democrats, to convince the patriots not to oppose us, and to fight against the nationalists and the totalists.
In general terms, those who abstain from participation in the electoral farce are the Communists, the revolutionary socialists, and the progressives, while the democrats either do not vote, vote blank, spoil their ballots, or vote for non-monopoly-capitalist political parties or bourgeois labour parties.
As it is impossible for the relatively few Communists to lead the great masses of non-voters without the support of the revolutionary socialists and progressives, not to mention convincing the patriots not to oppose the revolution, the Communists must first focus their efforts on uniting with the most Left-wing elements of the Swiss population, that is, the non-voters, by first reconstituting the Communist Party, working closely with the revolutionary socialists, and learning how to work with the progressives, without forgetting to appeal to the democrats and refute their parliamentary illusions, but all in due time.
The Left wing of the non-voters consists of the revolutionaries, that is, those who consciously reject the whole pseudo-parliamentary government system and want a revolutionary transformation of society, whether they are Socialists, Anarchists, Left-wing Populists, or something else entirely. The Centrists among the non-voters are the progressives, who are apathetic toward the government system and do not feel represented by it. The Right wing of the non-voters consists of the democrats, who have little to no faith in the elections themselves, but who feel that the political parties on the parliamentary «Left» or «Centre» can «do some good». Moreover, it is a special characteristic of the elections in Switzerland that a great many patriots also do not participate in the elections, simply because they feel that the national unity government already represents them and doesn't need to change.
Thus, we can come to the understanding that the non-voters, that is, those who either take the class standpoint of one or another popular class or are disenfranchised, are the strategic social basis for the Swiss revolution, while the patriots, many of whom also do not vote, must be convinced not to oppose the revolution by appealing to their interests in spite of their reactionary class standpoint. According to an academic survey from 2011, roughly 65% of the Swiss population lean more toward trust in the Federal Council and the political authorities than distrust. If we assume that this number includes the roughly 70% of voters, or around 18% of the total population, who voted for political parties other than the Social-Democrats, the Greens, Solidarity, or the Labour Party in the 2019 Federal Elections, then we have about 47% of the population who do not vote, but who lean toward trust in the government. These persons constitute the non-voting patriots in Switzerland, while the roughly 30% of voters, or around 8% of the total population, who voted for the above-mentioned political parties, constitute the voting democrats. This leaves us with 27% of the total population who do not or cannot vote and reject the government system, that is, the Communists, revolutionaries, and progressives, or about 2'300'000 persons. This is the prospective social basis of the revolutionary movement in Switzerland, a large part of which must be won over to the side of the revolution before there can be any talk about «utilizing parliament as a tribune» to convince the roughly 690'000 voting democrats or of trying to convince the patriots not to oppose the revolution.
Of course, here we must note that this is an analysis of the level of political consciousness of different groups of people in Switzerland, and not a class analysis. A class analysis is much more reliable for determining the percentage of the population that has an objective interest in supporting the revolution, and toward which the political consciousness of the population will gravitate in the course of the political polarization that the growth of the revolutionary movement will necessarily bring about.
In sum, why an active boycott? Because it is the best way to unite with the great masses of non-voters, who represent the prospective social basis of the revolutionary movement in this country, whose Left wing (which must be won first) consists of those who explicitly reject the pseudo-parliamentary system and therefore would participate in or support precisely such a campaign, and whose Centre (which must already be appealed to) consists of those who are willing to break with the legal institutions of the capitalists to improve the living conditions of the working people. Hence, an active boycott is the only solution, and due to the particular conditions of disenfranchisement of many working people in Switzerland, this must necessarily, as in Russia at Lenin's time, be combined with a campaign for truly universal suffrage, which for us means the universal right to boycott the elections. As Lenin said:
Compulsory naturalization of all foreigners, free of charge. Every foreigner shall become a Swiss citizen after three months' residence in the country, unless they, on very good grounds, apply for a postponement, which may be granted for not more than three months. It must be explained to the masses that such a reform is particularly urgent for Switzerland, not only from the general democratic standpoint, but also because, owing to its imperialist environment, Switzerland has a larger percentage of foreigners than any other European country. 9/10 of these foreigners speak one of the three languages used in Switzerland. The disfranchisement and alienation of foreign workers serve to increase political reaction, which is already mounting, and weaken international proletarian solidarity.44
And as our Party stated in relation to the struggle for women's suffrage:
To the Social-Democrats, legal equality for proletarian women consists of winning the right to vote, of shackling them to our «democracy» and our old, phoney parliament, because the «class struggle» means parliamentarism above all else for them. Should the enlightenment of women be carried out from the Federal House in Berne? Do we want to drag the bourgeois damsels, whose social function is to consume and devour the stolen products of labour, to support the class State? No, let them continue to weep for their «culture», which is determined exclusively by the situation of their various adventurers, lovers, and «friends». The working class now also knows only class interests; the word democracy becomes reality only in the pure class State of the working people, the councils. Equal rights for working women does not just mean the right to vote; equal rights for women means the class struggle, the elimination of capitalist society, the establishment of the dictatorship of the proletariat.47
Finally, an important and immediate task of this electoral boycott campaign is to build up an embryonic socialist united front in the form of alliances to boycott the parliamentary elections in this country, and we Communists should support and/or participate in all efforts that lead toward this objective, even if this support is critical and conditional. However, we should always keep in mind that, as Communists, our task is not to put up this or that amount of posters or to make a big splash, but to conduct patient and principled mass work. As the Party once stated:
It is true that we Communists are still in a minority today, even in the proletarian camp, because the workers only hear the Pied Piper songs of the bourgeoisie and the social-patriots. But that will change, our minority will become the majority. The workers will soon be convinced of the correctness of our ideas. Today we are prevented from doing so. The coming revolution will bring us the necessary freedom, and, once it is in progress, the Swiss working class, in close collaboration with the revolutionary world proletariat, will eliminate all the bourgeoisie's means of power, including its intellectual weapons, and, by arming itself and creating workers' militias, will secure its economic and political power to the point of invincibility.48
#2.5. THE ACTIVE BOYCOTT SERVES THE RECONSTITUTION OF THE PARTY
As we have stated above, electoral boycott campaigns serve for the Communists to unite around Marxism-Leninism-Maoism to reconstitute the Party, to win ideological and political leadership of the revolutionary-socialist movement, and to learn how to work with our allies, the progressives and non-voting democrats. In this sense, the Party's electoral tactics have a strategic character, as they serve the reconstitution of the Party and the preparation of the proletarian-socialist revolution in Switzerland.
As Lenin pointed out, an active boycott essentially implies conducting thorough ideological, political, and organizational work among the masses of working people — gradually to mobilize them for the class struggle, to educate them in study groups, to encourage them to organize grassroots organizations, and — eventually — to arm them in self-defence organizations. This all needs to be done around the Communist Party as the axis, which, as it passes through its process of reconstitution, simultaneously rebuilds its own Party organizations and leads the working class in revitalizing the labour movement and the revolutionary movement. This is a complex process of the interrelated construction of the revolutionary instruments in preparation for the coming class war. It is also the process of rooting the Communist Party, the political party of the class-conscious workers, deep among the wage-workers and the working people of this country.
Not everyone, particularly among the deepest and broadest masses of unskilled workers, apprentices, undocumented migrant workers, semi-proletarians, farm workers, and so on, is able to contribute the same amount of time, efforts, and material resources to the revolutionary movement. But the electoral boycott allows everyone to play their part, no matter how small it may be. It allows the Party to come into contact with the masses, learn about their concrete grievances, and mobilize them to struggle for them; it allows the Party to agitate for its policies and propagate its worldview; it allows the Party to help the masses to build grassroots organizations in the working-class and poor neighbourhoods and in the workplaces, and, in perspective, in the nomad camps, the villages, the military units, the schools, and all sorts of institutions where the working people can be found; it creates the Party in the future to educate the masses, and particularly the workers, in the necessity of armed self-defence as a prerequisite to the violent socialist revolution. And, first and foremost, in the process of doing all of this, the Party will stumble and fall, get up again, stumble and fall again, and get up once again, and gradually learn to find its way among the working people of Switzerland. Leonie Kascher, the co-founder of our Party, once said:
Comrades, in addition to the Social-Democratic Party and the Socialist Youth Organization, there is also a small, but determined, Communist movement in Switzerland. It originated in and was taught by the Zimmerwald Left, whose ideas circulated among us in Switzerland, as elsewhere.
What we learned from the Zimmerwald Left is to demand mass action, not just in the distant future, but right now — in the present. [...]
We knew, of course, that there is but one goal — the conquest of power. The Swiss working class, however, is not content with such general objectives. It seeks a clearly defined slogan. It is practical; it wants to know for what it is going into battle.2
But, in our conditions today, in engaging with the practical struggles of the working class, the Party will learn, not just how to mobilize them for the great battles, but also for the small ones — how to make use of everyone and everything, as Lenin said. We rely on the masses, not on economic aid from the State or «well-meaning» bourgeois. It is the masses who lend us their couches to sleep on when we miss the train home after a long meeting; who give us the little money they have left over at the end of the month to carry on our work and to logistically support comrades who are professionally engaged in revolutionary work; who make their extra room available to us for holding meetings; who help organize accommodations and jobs for comrades; who fundraise for us when comrades get repression; who help us avoid surveillance by offering up their legal identities for necessary purposes; and who even give us their old clothes when comrades start to look like they're wearing rags. Without the masses, nothing could be done; with the masses, all miracles can be performed, as Mao Zedong said, and this truth is asserting itself more and more in the minds of our comrades in the process of the electoral boycott campaign and other important grassroots work.
Moreover, the Party learns how to study and mainly how to apply the ideology of the proletariat, Marxism-Leninism-Maoism, and the Party's Guiding Thought (the theory and practice of Comrade Jakob Herzog), to the concrete problems, demands, and struggles of the working people; how to study the history of the Swiss revolutionary movement and Swiss society in the past 175 years to draw lessons from it; and how to further develop these lessons in the light of the objective conditions prevailing today. All this serves the reconstitution of the Party in a concrete way. And this, in turn, serves the proletarian-socialist revolution in Switzerland, which is part of and serves the whole proletarian-socialist world revolution. This is the real strategic significance of the tactic of electoral boycott, and it has nothing to do with empty slogans about «strategic offensives» and «demarcating from revisionism».
#3. DOWN WITH THE NATIONAL UNITY GOVERNMENT! FIGHT FOR A WORKING PEOPLE'S GOVERNMENT!
But rejecting and boycotting the elections is not enough. It will not change the established order in this country, it will not abolish capitalism, it will not get rid of this rotten State, nor will it give the working people what they want and deserve: An honest job, a good life, and political power for the working majority — or, as the Party used to say: Work, bread, and power. What are we to do about this reactionary, pseudo-parliamentary, neo-corporatist government system, the capitalist class dictatorship that it masks, and this whole globalized monopoly-capitalist social formation that they sustain by force of ignorance and arms? The same that the ancestors of the Swiss capitalists themselves did to the Old Swiss in 1847. In the words of Friedrich Engels, «the grandchildren of Tell and Winkelried can only be brought to reason by cannon balls».9 In other words, present-day Swiss society must be destroyed by violent revolution and a new society must rise from its ashes. From the ruins of bourgeois democracy, the new system of council democracy must be built. The Party once wrote:
And what about Switzerland? As is well known, we have the so-called «oldest democracy». [...] we do not want to under-examine the historical hoax of the «oldest democracy». The bourgeoisie introduced formal democracy in the last century with the help of the Bonapartist troops. As in France, the nobility and the aristocracy were thrown down and the bourgeois republic was introduced. The remaining feudal remnants were cleared away in the course of the last century in the Volunteer Campaigns and the War Against the Special League.
That is why it is the task of the Swiss proletariat to begin at once, despite the dictatorship of the bourgeoisie, to build up workplace and workers' councils. And because we cannot take advantage of a bourgeois revolution and a disorganized State system, as our siblings in the East and North were able to do, because we face a ruggedly organized bourgeois State, we are well aware that this work will only cost us much more effort and sacrifice than our class comrades in the East and North had to make. However, we must not shy away from the sacrifices, we must make the sacrifices, and these sacrifices will bring a hundred times more benefits to the proletariat than all the innumerable sacrifices it has made in the capitalist production process and in the struggle for social reforms.49
The dictatorship will appear by means of the revolutionary overthrow, by means of the destruction of the bourgeois State machine. It is and can only be a product of the revolution. Communism can only come into effect as a single whole. As long as any part of the old bourgeois institution remains, there is a danger of falling back into the conditions of old. Growing into the socialist form of society is a utopia. We see this best in Germany and Austria. Reaction raises its head there again and all efforts at socialization are made illusory. The source of the capitalist hydra, the banks and the stock exchanges, will emerge victorious. The main principle for us should be: «The economy is a political power.» Because the economy dictates. What good is political power (National Council, National Assembly, and so on) if the economy is in the hands of the bourgeoisie?50
The system of council democracy, the system of councils of working people's deputies, is the Communists' answer to the question: But what is the alternative? The conquest of political power for the working people, the establishment of council democracy, and the creation of a socialist and a communist society is the fundamental aspect in the Party's Guiding Thought, that is, in its historical theory and practice. In the Party Manifesto of 1918, drafted by Comrade Leonie Kascher in prison, it says:
Workers, comrades, let us learn from the surrounding countries. New times also demand new forms of struggle, and these forms of struggle — the only ones that guarantee us to emerge victoriously out of the coming battles — are the workers' and soldiers' councils. [...] we demand a Swiss workers' council that directly expresses the will of the class-conscious workers, is constantly in contact with them, by being made up out of fellow workers from the workplaces whom we elect directly in them. This workers' council must lead the battle at large as the local workers' councils tell it to. We must finally recognize, like the bourgeoisie long since has, that the coming battles must take on a different character for them to be victorious.51
The principle of council democracy was further enshrined in the Party Programme drafted among others by Comrade Jakob Herzog, likewise in prison:
The transition from the capitalist social order to communism takes place under the dictatorship of the proletariat. For the purpose of socializing the means of production, as well as all existing necessities, and the complete suppression of the bourgeoisie, the smashing of the entire bourgeois State apparatus through the establishment of a revolutionary government of workers', farmers', and soldiers' councils is necessary, since the capitalist State is not an aggregation of all classes, but the special apparatus of oppression of the bourgeoisie. The workers cannot simply take over the bourgeois State machine, but must destroy it, because the bodies of oppression formed by the bourgeoisie, such as the military (officers), the bureaucracy, the political police, and so on, can never serve the proletariat, because in their whole organizational structure they belong to the bourgeoisie.
The whole of Switzerland is to be governed by the working people, in the form of the council system, the supreme revolutionary authority being the Council of People's Commissars, which receives its powers through the National Congress of Councils. Every town, every village, every army unit of the proletarian army elects the councils, which consist only of toiling workers and peasants, directly at the workplaces. This electoral form replaces the democracy of property with the democracy of labour. Through the council system, labour is directly linked to the State Executive, in contrast to the old capitalist organization, which linked property to bourgeois government power through the bureaucracy. Any compromise of the councils with the bourgeoisie degrades the productivity of the council system and blurs the pure class character of it. Through the characteristic of the councils, as not only legislative but at the same time working bodies, in which the division into Legislature and Executive is abolished, the council loses the character of a pure parliament.
The seizure of economic power is inseparable from the political rule of the proletariat. At the same time that the proletariat defeats the bourgeoisie by means of the council power, the economic power of the bourgeoisie must be broken.
The socialization of industrial enterprises is carried out by workers' councils, which organize the entire industrial production with the help of experts. The link between the various industries is in the hands of the Commissariat of National Economy, composed of workers and farmers, which, with the help of professionals, regulates the distribution of all products and their transportation.
Agricultural production is directed by the farmers' councils, which are elected by small farmers and farm workers, hand in hand with the workers of the industrial areas, ousting the bourgeoisie from power. The cultivation of the land is carried out with the latest technical means. By means of the consolidation of estates and collective work, the yield of the land can be increased and the working time shortened.
In order to protect the achievements of the proletariat from attacks of the counter-revolution, a Red Army will be formed under the command of the soldiers' councils.3
How are such councils to be constituted? As the Party put forward:
In contrast to the bourgeois parliaments, which have purely political functions, the workers' councils encompass all the economic and political functions necessary for the proletariat to conquer power, to expand and maintain power, to take over and continue to operate the national economy. The workers' councils are therefore political and economic, they supervise the whole fabric of social and economic life. They are the «parliament» of the future. The basis of these proletarian councils is not political or geographical districts, but the economy, the points of production and enterprise. The right to vote does not depend on the size of one's wallet, but on one's activity in the productive process. Just as in the national economy, production starts from individual workshops and factories, which in turn are connected and complement each other in the supply of raw materials with primary production and in the operation of semi-finished and finished products with transport and consumer organizations, thus from this structure the workers' councils must first establish themselves in the factories, the points of production, and then from there encompass all branches of the national economy and combine them into a unified whole.
The basis of the workers' councils are the workplace councils. They have their functions in the individual enterprises. They represent the interests of the workers of the enterprise as opposed the owner of the enterprise. The workplace councils must strive to gain an overview of and influence on the production of the enterprise in order to enable the working class to take over the enterprises later and to continue production independently. A workplace council shall be elected in all industrial, transport, commercial and agricultural enterprises with more than 20 workers. Workplaces with less than 20 employees form occupational groups by district and elect a workplace council for their group. Depending on the circumstances, these groups adopt an organizational form that makes it possible to easily include all employees and establishments. All wage-earners employed in the enterprise are entitled to vote and to be elected. Elections must be held during working hours and are valid for six months. Elected councillors can be removed and replaced at any time by the voters. The councillors hold their meetings during working hours, receive their normal wages for their work, and may not be reprimanded.
All branches of industry, transportation, and commerce in a locality shall establish a branch council, to be elected from the enterprises and branch districts. Workplaces with 20 to 50 workers elect one delegate per 50 more workers and a fraction of 25 another delegate. Small-scale trades and households shall elect one delegate per 50 wage-workers and a fraction of 25. All the branch councils of a locality, which also include the councils of the free professions [academics, educators, artists, scientists and so on], farmers, and army units, elected according to the same formula, together form the local workers', farmers', and soldiers' council.
The branch councils are the grouping of all the enterprises in an industry or branch of trade. Their tasks are for the most part economic and only really come into play the day after the conquest of political power, in that they have to supervise the production of all the enterprises in their branch, as well as the supply of raw materials and the receipt of products.
The farm workers, maids, and small farmers, who do not exploit external labour, elect deputies in their communities to the community farmers' councils. Similarly, all army units elect one delegate to the unit soldiers' council for every 20 soldiers, excluding the officers in their unit.
For a local workers' council to be viable, it is necessary for it to have certain functions. Its task is to lead all the mass actions that the whole local working class must lead against capital. It must therefore completely abolish the Workers' Unions, which are very arbitrary and in no way composed by the whole proletariat of the locality. It must acquire more and more rights which will enable it to supervise and administer the production and distribution of commodities in the locality.
We propose to divide Switzerland into [production districts] [...].
All professions and branches of a district elect a district branch council. All district branch councils together form the district workers' council. These councils are directly elected by the wage-earning class.
The Swiss Workers' Council consists of the Swiss branch councils elected from all industry, transportation, commerce, agriculture, the free professions, domestic workers, and army units. The district and Swiss workers' councils shall lead the district and Swiss workers' class actions against capital respectively. All measures concerning food production and distribution in the district and in the country, which up to now have been taken very imperfectly by the bourgeois authorities, must be taken over and continued by these councils. These rights must be fought for through mass actions.
Every branch, local, district, and Swiss workers', farmers', and soldiers' council has an executive council.
Our council propaganda has been going on for more than two years, and we have not yet succeeded in getting beyond individual attempts to introduce workers' councils, some of which have been unsuccessful. Today, however, the situation is much more favourable. The last two collapsed general strikes proved to the enlightened workers that the previous forms of struggle and organization can no longer get us very far. This promotional force, with which the council system is gaining recognition and acceptance all over the world, has also had an effect on the Swiss proletariat. Everywhere one hears the call: How can we create the council system here without destroying the still necessary trade unions and the Party?
Trade unions, Party, and councils are separate bodies in their own right, each with its own specific functions. If we create the councils, we do not undermine the trade unions or the political party, we only gather together all the proletarian strata and confront them as a united front against capital, which is becoming more and more brutal and violent. Up to now, the local Workers' Unions have tried to become this body of concentration. But, because the unions were built only on the Social-Democratic Party and the trade unions, they did not succeed, and, if they do not break this narrow circle, they will never succeed. There are large strata, such as the free professions, the proletarian housewives, the unemployed (who are becoming an ever-increasing mass), the agricultural workers and small farmers, the soldiers, and so on, who cannot possibly be covered by trade unions and therefore cannot be represented in the Workers' Unions. Even the Social-Democratic Party cannot guarantee these strata a corresponding possibility of representation, because it is a political party with a certain, partly outlived programme on which the proletariat as a whole can never agree.
The Workers' Unions must be reorganized in such a way that they become proletarian «parliaments». And this is only possible if the election of deputies no longer takes place in the Social-Democratic Party and the trade unions, but if the entire local proletariat elects delegates to the Workers' Unions from their workplaces. Only in this way do these bodies become real, local workers' councils. These local councils unite to form a Swiss Workers' Council, which then represents the entire proletariat of Switzerland. The name does not detract from the matter, whether the thing is called Union or Workers' Council is not the important thing, the main thing is the content, the essence, and the basis on which these bodies are built. The task of the Communist Party, which is also the only political party in Switzerland working for the creation of the council system, is then to use systematic, Communist, and revolutionary propaganda to achieve a majority of Communist deputies in the councils by exploiting the economic and political conditions in the factories and everywhere where wage-workers are present.
The Communist Party of Zurich, starting from these principles, has already made an advance by uniting all its members who are Union delegates into a Communist Union Faction, which made the following motion in the Workers' Union, which was adopted:52
«The old political parties and the old trade unions, personified by their leaders, have proven that they cannot understand, let alone carry out, the tasks posed by the new epoch. The proletariat created a new kind of instrument that encompasses the entire working class, regardless of trade or level of political development. It is a flexible instrument that can constantly renew and extend itself, draw one new stratum after another into its orbit, and open its doors to the strata of workers in the city and the village closest to the proletariat. This irreplaceable organization of working-class self-rule, of its struggle, and of its future conquest of State power has been tested by the experience of several countries and stands as the proletariat's greatest conquest and most powerful weapon in our time.»
This passage from the Manifesto of the Third International does not only apply to the victorious and defeated imperialist States, it also applies to Switzerland, the vassal State of the Entente. The course of the general strikes of November 1918 and August 1919 proves that our forms of organization and struggle, as well as the leaders, are incapable of breaking the enormously increased power of the bourgeoisie, which is armed to the teeth, and which, since the outbreak of the war, has circumvented every kind of legality, abolished the right of asylum, delivered hundreds of proletarians and shop stewards into the hands of the military courts, and threw them into prisons. The capacities of the administrative police, the arming of mercenary troops, the disarming of the revolutionary-socialist soldiers, the organization and arming of reactionary militias, and the massacres of workers in Zurich, Grenchen, and Basle prove that the civil war has begun in our country, just as in Russia, Germany, and Austria. Behind the reactionary authorities, the military courts, the political police, and the reactionary militias stands Swiss banking capital, which, supported by its powerful protectors, now proceeds to take entire cities and municipalities under its tutelage, so that, not satisfied with the exploitation of the producers and consumers, it can also channel the increased direct and indirect taxes into its vaults. In the face of this gigantic colossus of exploitation and apparatus of power, the present forms of organization and struggle of the proletariat prove too weak. If it does not want to be crushed completely, it must oppose the concentrated power of capital with the concentrated power of the entire proletariat. This form of organization is the council system, which grasps all wage-workers in the factories, the offices, the households, the workshops, the army units, and agriculture and throws them uniformly into the struggle. As a result, mass actions are no longer carried out by a few occupational groups and vacillating leaders, but by the proletariat as a whole.
Starting from these considerations, the Executive Committee and the Assembly of Deputies agreed with the immediate construction of the council system and appointed a commission to carry out the preparatory work for it.
The majority of the Commission was composed of Communists, and it is this Communist majority which is now submitting to the Workers' Union, as a product of its deliberations, the motion below. It must be added that on this occasion the Left-wing Social-Democrats have once again revealed themselves as what we have always denounced them for, as revolutionary phrase-mongers who at all times stand up for the councils and all revolutionary-sounding decisions in principle (see also their attitude in rejecting national defence and revolutionizing the army) and as soon as it comes to practical action do not dare to draw the consequences. The Commission minority, which consists of Left-wing Social-Democrats, naturally does not want to know anything about the motion below, only wanting to renovate the Union's rules somewhat, as the Basle people have done. The motion of the majority of the Commission for the attention of the Zurich Workers' Union reads:52
The Workers' Union is to be changed into a workers' council, to the effect that the delegates are to be elected only from the factories.
- All enterprises with more than 50 manual and mental labourers shall elect one delegate, and one delegate shall be elected for each additional 50 and fraction of 25 workers.
- The enterprises with less than 50 manual and mental labourers shall join together by locality and branch and elect the delegates in local assemblies according to the above election procedure. New elections shall be held every 1/2 year. The delegates may be recalled by the electors at any time.
- The homeworkers, the self-employed, the proletarian housewives, and the unemployed shall vote according to the second electoral form.
- All wage-earners, without age limits, are entitled to vote. People who exploit the labour of others are not entitled to vote.
The tasks of the Workers' Council are:
- To unite the proletarian masses in a united front of struggle against the united exploitation and its dictatorial apparatus, the bourgeois State.
- To initiate, direct, and carry out all local mass actions.
- Supervision of production and consumption through the organization of workers' councils.
- Closest connection with the proletarian masses of the other parts of the country and the International.
The struggle for the councils, however, must be taken up on the whole front. The Central Committee of the Communist Party of Switzerland has already given the sections and groups information on this. The sections of Lucerne, Winterthur, Basle, and Berne have done the preliminary work to proceed in their local Workers' Unions according to the guiding principles of the Zurich Communists, which the Central Committee has made its own and will submit as a basis for discussion to the next Party Congress of the Communist Party of Switzerland. It is now a question of moving from propaganda to action, and not resting until we have achieved and fought for the goal we have set.52
In the Party Manifesto, Comrade Kascher goes on to explain the advantages of such councils:
The big advantage of this new form of struggle, the workers' councils, consists of them not being able to be killed by the bourgeoisie and them being able to put the masses in motion at any time, without long and big advertising, from one day to another at any hour of the day. If a workers' council decides upon an action at night, the delegates can notify the workers of the decisions in the morning and the workers can act on them. The will to fight is of course the first condition for this new form of struggle to flourish. It stands and falls with it! On the other hand, if the workplace or area delegate doesn't act in accordance with the will of the working voters, they can immediately be recalled and replaced by a different worker of the given workplace. Only workers employed in the workplaces and factories themselves are to be delegated, no secretaries or other bureaucrats employed by political parties and trade unions. The worker that is constantly busy among their comrades knows best what their needs are. A council constituted in this way must be productive and cannot be silenced. If a government arrests a member or the entire council, then the workers elect a new one.51
Such councils are to be established among all working people, not just workers, soldiers, and farmers; that is to say, they are to be established among all people who are not exploiters nor active counter-revolutionaries. At the local level, councils of working people's deputies are to be elected in the workplaces, neighbourhoods, villages, military units, schools, and other institutions. These councils, in turn, elect the area councils, which govern areas consisting of both urban and rural areas — in other words, the future communes, which are administrative units which integrate urban with rural areas, industry with agriculture, and workers with farmers, and which are fundamentally self-sufficient in economic, political, cultural, educational, health, and military terms — the basic unit of the future communist society. The area or communal councils then elect regional councils for the various national regions, which in turn elect the supreme council, which is to govern the whole country.
The deputies to the councils are elected at working people's congresses, which also adopt decisions, plans, and resolutions, within the framework of which the councils are forced to work, otherwise the deputies are subject to be recalled by the people. Deputies receive the minimum wage and are not given any special material privileges whatsoever.
The councils govern, not only the political administration of society, but also the management of the socialist planned economy. Lower-level councils practise workers' self-management within the context of general economic plans adopted by the higher-level councils. The councils are not mere parliamentary bodies, as they both make decisions and carry them out through their various commissions, which consist only of elected council deputies. The decisions of the councils are implemented by the grassroots organizations of the working people and enforced by the people's militia. Finally, the councils preside over the people's courts, in which final authority lay with a democratic jury selected from among the working people in the jurisdiction of the given council. In this way, the whole bourgeois pseudo-parliamentary system is done away with in its entirety, and the proletarian system of council democracy emerges.
How does this system of council democracy emerge? Only through revolutionary mass action. It is the working people, and the working people alone, who can create councils of working people's deputies — the Communists can only lead their efforts to this end. The councils emerge gradually, step by step, from the local to the national levels, in the course of a protracted process. At first, they are simple centres of resistance or grassroots coordinations, which either coordinate the efforts of the working people in a given place or coordinate the work of their grassroots organizations in that place. Then, they develop into struggle committees, which exercise real political influence among a majority of the working people in a given place. Finally, once they can enforce their decrees and decisions, they become political power, a new State of the working people — council power in the real sense of the term. Once this stage is reached, if not before, the old capitalist State will launch into the fight to destroy the council power by any means necessary, and the councils will have to be defended by force, not merely through revolutionary mass action, but through guerrilla warfare by a Red Army organized in soldiers' councils and commanded by the Communist Party to defend the people's political power. Thus, the period of protracted class war begins, which is an inevitable and necessary evil, through which the working people must march before it can consolidate the Council Republic and the socialist socio-economic system, which itself is only a transition period, an uninterrupted revolutionary process, between capitalism and communism, between the profit-oriented economy and the needs-oriented economy, between class society and classless society. As the Party once stated:
[...] it cannot in fact be expected that the working class of a country, which has been shackled, Prometheus-like, to the capitalist State by means of bourgeois-parliamentary wedges, will in one fell swoop throw off these fetters, throw down the bourgeoisie of the cities and the countryside, and establish its own rule. Karl Marx has shown us the strengths and weaknesses of the revolutionary proletariat far too clearly for us to allow ourselves to be lost in such illusions. In a revolution, the working class seizes its opponent with impetuous force, throws them down once to show them its strength, but lets them get back up again, then momentarily allows itself to be mistreated even worse than before, practises the sharpest self-criticism during this time, only to «throw» them down even more forcefully. This process repeats itself until the last definitive reckoning, the class war, in which it not only finally knocks them down, but directly crushes them. «Gunpowder-blackened and blood-spattered» is how the proletariat actually emerges from the final reckoning.53
Such is the road to council democracy in Switzerland. This road was embarked upon more than a century ago by the Swiss Communists led by Jakob Herzog, who worked with Lenin when he lived in Zurich, before he led the Great November Socialist Revolution and who themselves were taught by Lenin and the November Revolution how to conquer political power for the working people; today, this road has been retaken by a new generation of Swiss Communists who, by working to reconstitute the Communist Party in Switzerland, are once again retracing those old footsteps with the intention of traversing the road to the end — past capitalism, through socialism, and all the way to the realization of a classless, communist society throughout the whole world.
But the Swiss Communists are not alone in taking this road. Today, council democracy is a reality for hundreds of thousands of people in India, who are fighting a revolutionary people's war under the leadership of a genuine Marxist-Leninist-Maoist Communist Party, where councils of working people's deputies — although they take different names and forms — are gradually becoming the predominant government system in the liberated people's republic which is being forged through this armed struggle. Our struggle is intimately linked with that of our comrades around the world — not only because we share the ideology of the working class, but moreover because those capitalist parasites who suck their blood and try to drown their revolutionary struggles in it live right here, in Switzerland, among other places, and they have been sucking our blood, too, ever since they came into being together with modern Swiss society some 200 years ago. The proletarian-socialist world revolution is not a slogan, but a material fact, which cannot be denied, no matter how much some people try to sell us the lie that «we Swiss are rich», «the Swiss political system is stable», «Swiss people are satisfied with the government», and so on ad nauseum. We Swiss Communists are not fooled by this propaganda — we are proletarian internationalists, and we always have been.
The question of the world revolution has thus been decided for Switzerland.
A revolution in Switzerland will be a link in the world revolution.
The struggle against the Swiss propertied class is at the same time a struggle against Entente imperialism, against world reaction.
Switzerland is economically dependent on foreign countries. A revolution is therefore only possible if we have revolutionary allies who help us in economic terms.
But a revolution must be prepared. The main thing is that we do not lag behind. The basic economic causes of the international revolution will also affect Switzerland. The crisis will also come for Switzerland, and point the working class to its great tasks. To educate and awaken them, that is the task of the Communist Party.54
Today, the electoral boycott is on the agenda in Switzerland. Tomorrow — the Helvetic Council Republic. The day after that — the World Union of Council Republics, which is already taking shape in the revolutionary struggles of oppressed people everywhere. In this great battle for the future of humanity, we Swiss should always remember, in spite of the small size of our country and its population, that we nonetheless have an important role to play. In the wise words of Friedrich Engels: «[...] small countries, such as [...] Switzerland, are our modern political laboratories, the testing ground where experiments are carried out which can be later applied to the large States. It is often from these small countries that there comes the first impulse of a movement destined to overturn Europe.»55
#DOWN WITH PSEUDO-PARLIAMENTARISM! FIGHT FOR COUNCIL DEMOCRACY!
#DOWN WITH THE NATIONAL UNITY GOVERNMENT! FOR A WORKING PEOPLE'S GOVERNMENT!
#DEATH TO THE CAPITALIST REPUBLIC! LONG LIVE THE STRUGGLE FOR THE COUNCIL REPUBLIC!
#THE ELECTORAL BOYCOTT CAMPAIGN SERVES THE RECONSTITUTION OF THE COMMUNIST PARTY!
#LEARN FROM JAKOB HERZOG!
#LONG LIVE THE WORLD REVOLUTION!
Our Party uses the term «totalism» as opposed to the term «fascism», which is generally used in the international Communist movement. The meaning is the same. The difference in terminology is due to the fact that fascism is really more of a historical phenomenon of the 20th century, as modern-day fascists rely on very different philosophical concepts to justify their totalist policies. The term «totalism», on the other hand, better expressed precisely the essence of such a government system, namely, the substitution of parliamentarism by absolutism, corporatism, or other methods of rule that are fundamentally opposed to the liberal-democratic ideas developed in France in the 18th century; moreover, Benito Mussolini famously said that, in a fascist society, everything happens within, through, and for the State, which is another way of describing the totality or the all-encompassing character of the State which fascists seek. Hence, it is our view that the term «totalism» is more fitting. ↩
Nikolaj Lenin: Defence of Neutrality (January 1917) ↩
For the sake of clarity, we emphasize that by the «militarization of society» and «militarism», we refer not to the literal extension of military discipline to all members of society, but rather to the strengthening of the repressive forces (the army and the police), their increased armament, and the generalization of their reach, as well as the generalization of surveillance and repression in society. ↩
See Gonzalo's November 1999 article, On the Question of Globalization, in which he points out: «Globalization is nothing but the greatest socialization of production in world history, which implies the deepest and broadest imperialist exploitation and oppression of the people and the nationalities, principally for the benefit of US imperialism.» ↩
Liechtenstein was an independent State prior to the imperialist First World War, although it was closely integrated with the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Following Austria's defeat in that war, Liechtenstein entered into a union agreement with Switzerland, in which the two countries agreed to joint defence, a shared currency, shared tariffs, and other similar measures. Liechtenstein is under the military protection of the Swiss army, as it does not have armed forces of its own, and its police is trained in Switzerland. It uses the Swiss Franc as its only currency, its government identification cards are printed in Berne, and the government response of Liechtenstein to the Covid-19 pandemic was part of the Swiss government's response, developed solely in Berne. For all intents and purposes, Liechtenstein is part of the Swiss State, and really only serves as an indirect means by which Switzerland can continue to provide its much-sought-after «services» as a tax shelter and money-launderer for foreign imperialist companies, while evading all legal responsibility for such activities. Moreover, the Liechtensteiner people belong to the Alemannic nationality, which is one of the four main nationalities of Switzerland, and vast numbers of Liechtensteiner workers are Swiss residents who commute to the Principality during the day. This is the reason why our Party's stand on the question of Liechtenstein is that it is a reactionary, bourgeois tax shelter, ruled by a reactionary absolute monarch, which should be dissolved into the future Helvetic Council Republic. ↩
Nikolaj Lenin: Imperialism and the Split in Socialism (October 1916) ↩
Klaus von Beyme: Neo-Corporatism: New Wine Into Old Wineskins? ↩
Daniel Oesch: Less Coordination, More Market? (2007) ↩
See Gonzalo's two works, Interview From the Underground (14th and 15th of July, 1988) and Let the Strategic Stalemate Shake the Country More! (November 1991). In the latter of these two works, he writes: «The questioning of parliament is a fundamental fascist standpoint, which takes aim against the traditional, bourgeois-democratic State structure. This standpoint is based on the negation of the principles, liberties, and rights established in the 18th century. It postulates corporate organizations and maximizes reactionary violence, all of which serves the most unbridled class dictatorship of the bourgeoisie (in our case, the big bourgeoisie) and imperialism. Historically, fascism has emerged more often in periods that are critical to the Old State, mainly when the revolution threatens to overthrow the outdated ruling order. However, ever since the Second World War, fascism has been unable to openly declare itself as such or to openly declare its intention to corporatize society, in spite of its numerous attempts and ‹theorizations›, such as ‹democratic corporatism›, ‹direct democracy›, ‹Social-Democracy›, and so on. [...] The old society creates fascism as one form of its reactionization (it is not the only form, since the other form is the reactionary evolution of the bourgeois-democratic parliamentary system itself, as in the United States, England, France, and certain other European countries), mainly as a weapon when the revolution threatens to demolish the old society.» «This allows us to establish a difference between the reactionization of the State which the bureaucrat bourgeoisie carries out (corporatization based on organized participation in associations and institutions) and that which the comprador bourgeoisie carries out. The latter does not put forward corporatization, but rather the strengthening of the power of the Presidency as the axis of the Executive in order to allow for the economic power of the monopoly capitalists (essentially imperialism) to directly exercise the legislative and administrative functions of the State, which obviously leads to growing restrictions on the power of the Legislature and the bureaucracy, aiming at an absolute concentration of powers. Both of these trends undermine the traditional, bourgeois-democratic State structure and its separation of powers.» ↩
Benito Mussolini and Giovanni Gentile: The Doctrine of Fascism (1932) ↩
All the capitalists need to do to legally implement a totalist government system in Switzerland is to elect a general, that is, a military dictator, and then to put parliament out of function by invoking the emergency powers of the Federal Council. Historically, both of the generals elected during the 20th century, Ulrich Wille-Bismarck and Henri Guisan, were totalist military dictators who assumed, not only military, but also political power during their respective terms. As to the emergency powers, they were applied as recently as this year in order to force through the merger of the two globalized monopoly banks Credit Suisse and UBS against the will of parliament, thus demonstrating the capitalists' willingness to make use of their totalist provisions. ↩
This disenfranchisement, which amounts to the disenfranchisement of 25,3% of the population on purely ethnic grounds, is in reality a type of Apartheid legislation. Under the Apartheid system previously prevailing in the United States, Azania (South Africa), Zimbabwe (Rhodesia), and other countries, and in Palestine (Israel) today, large parts of the population who belonged to oppressed nationalities were disenfranchised with the intention of extracting super-profits from them without offering them any political influence. Unlike the common understanding of Apartheid, which essentially amounts to segregation in public life, the economic essence of the system is actually internal colonization of oppressed nationalities, which is a particular expertise of Swiss imperialism. Lenin once remarked: «The specific feature of imperialism in Switzerland is precisely the increasing exploitation of disfranchised foreign workers by the Swiss bourgeoisie, which bases its hopes on estrangement between these two categories of workers.» (Tasks of the Zimmerwald Left in the Swiss Social-Democratic Party, October-November 1916) This is due to the specific feature of Swiss imperialism as a country without external colonies of its own. Thus, not only migrant workers, but also very «Swiss» peoples, such as the Romansh, Jura, Yenish, Roma, and Jewish peoples, have been or are still disenfranchised, discriminated against, oppressed, or super-exploited in this country under the Apartheid-like system. ↩
Mao Zedong: Problems of War, Strategy, and the United Front (5th and 6th of November, 1938) ↩
Nikolaj Lenin: «Communism» (12th of June, 1920) ↩
Nikolaj Lenin: The Boycott (25th of August, 1906) ↩
Mao Zedong: On Protracted War (May-June 1938) ↩
Mao Zedong and Others: Problems of Guerrilla War Against Japan (May 1938) ↩
Lin Biao: Long Live the Victory of People's War! (Before the 3rd of September, 1965) ↩
Gonzalo: Interview From the Underground (14th and 15th of July, 1988) ↩
Central Leadership of the Committee Red Flag: The General Counter-Revolutionary Offensive, Individualism, and the Communists (November 2019) ↩
Karl Marx: Capital, Vol. 1 (Before September 1867) ↩
Mao Zedong: On Dialectical Materialism (July-August 1937) ↩
If the man whom the members of the «Committee Red Flag» unironically call «Boss» is too busy getting his wardrobe sorted by his underlings, he is welcome to outsource this task to his «CEO» in Brazil, «Chairman» Geronimo. ↩
Gonzalo: Take Up and Fight for the New Great Decision and the New Great Definition! (October 1993) ↩
Gonzalo: On 150 Years of Proletarian World Revolution (December 1994) ↩
Gonzalo: The Speech From the Cage (24th of September, 1992) ↩
Nikolaj Lenin: Letter to the Austrian Communists (15th of August, 1920) ↩
Nikolaj Lenin: «Communism» (12th of June, 1920) ↩
Gonzalo: Concerning the Unity of the International Communist Movement and the Joint Statement by 13 Marxist-Leninist Parties and Organizations (July 1981) ↩
For the meaning of reconstitution, please see the document Theses on Party Constitution and Reconstitution published on the-red-flag.org on the 25th of May, 2023. ↩
Jakob Herzog: On the Question of Parliamentarism (2nd of August, 1920) ↩
Parliamentarism and the Communist Party of Switzerland (2nd of March, 1920) ↩
The Communists and the Working Hours Act (5th of October, 1920) ↩
Nikolaj Lenin: While the Proletariat Is Doing the Fighting, the Bourgeoisie Is Stealing Toward Power (Before the 2nd of August, 1905) ↩
Legal Equality for Proletarian Women and the Right to Vote (2nd of March, 1920) ↩
Swiss Democracy Is a Swindle (April 1921) ↩
We Demand the Immediate Election of Workers' Councils (30th of January, 1920) ↩
Proletarian Democracy (30th of January, 1920) ↩
On the November General Strike (November 1918) ↩
Switzerland and the World Revolution (2nd of December, 1920) ↩
Friedrich Engels: Draft Letter to Emile Vandervelde (Before the 21st of October, 1891) ↩