Book Review:Nights and Fogs of Revisionism
By Louis Janover


In 1996 an ideological campaign in the French bourgeois press amalgamated "revisionism" (the fascist-inspired ‘theory’ which claims that the Nazi-gas chambers and the Holocaust of the Jewish people in World War Two never happened) and the Marxist political positions of the communist ultra-left. Papers such as Le Monde, Le Figaro, Rouge and Liberation presented the pamphlet Auschwitz ou le grand alibi, published in 1960 by Programme Communiste, the Bordigist ‘International Communist Party’ or PCI), as the founding text of a "revisionism from the left". According to Liberation, Bordiga was the forerunner of ‘revisionism’ and an accomplice of fascism (Liberation, 8-21-96). The "revisionist" ravings of Pierre Guillaume, an old sympathizer of the ultra-left group "Socialisme ou Barbarie" and manager of the ultra-left Paris-bookstore "La Vieille Taupe" ("The Old Mole") were used to make believe that the "revisionist" crap is really reflecting the positions of the internationalist communist current. One cannot help but wonder what’s behind this press campaign -because that’s what it was - against political positions which unfortunately still have little influence in the working class.

All this makes the publication of Nuits et Brouillards du Revisionisme ("Nights and Fogs of Revisionism") very timely. Indeed, this book by Louis Janover, published by Editions Paris Mediterranee in France, sets the record straight on what really happened and what positions were really developed by the groups claiming the political heritage of Left Communism. This book does leave no trace of doubt on the anti-capitalist fight of the militants of the communist left; on the struggle they waged against capitalist power, in all its particular forms, democratic, fascist, stalinist and nazi included. Furthermore, Nuits et Brouillards du Revisionisme deconstructs, in a clear and uncompromising way, the offensive waged by intellectual cercles of "the left" which, by linking the "revisionist denials of the holocaust to the Marxist positions against democratic anti-fascism, try to smear the communist left of today. What Janover, sees behind this, is an attempt to restore the credibility of certain stalinist intellectuals. Under the cover of anti-fascism and the struggle against ‘revisionism’, they try to make amends and to reintegrate the "establishment".

In the first part of the book, Janover analyzes how these "anti-totalitarian" intellectuals lumped the Marxist critique of anti-fascism and the "revisionist" positions together. He frames the debate well and reminds the reader what positions were defended before 1940 by the Marxist groups which simultaneously resisted Stalinism’s iron heel and the fascist drift of the Western bourgeoisie. They saw it as their task not to choose sides between one bourgeois camp and another but to denounce, clearly and firmly, all compromises of principles, all goulags, despite the risks of being attacked and even liquidated by Stalinist goons or Nazi-brownshirts. They didn’t stay above the fray whith their arms crossed but were the first to call upon the workers to organize themselves to resist the armed gang of the fascist counter-revolution while at the same time, in Italy, France as well as in Germany, the social-democrats called for social peace and sabotaged the workers’struggle.

In Bilan, the publication of the left of the PCI, we can still read testimonies of workers who resisted the grip of bourgeois ideology and its polarisation fascism- anti-fascism. These voices are still relevant to the struggles of the working class today. Indeed, the fundamental contribution of the Communist Left to the historical consciousness of the proletariat, is precisely the understanding and demonstration of the class nature of the different forms of political power of the capitalist class, of the irreconciliable opposition between the interests of the working class and the interclassist ideologies of capitalism. The Communist Left denounced the opposition fascism -anti-fascism as a frontist position, because the historical opposition between the working class and the capitalist class. The PCI-pamphlet "Auschwitz or the great alibi", published in 1960, spells out the main lines of this analysis, as Le Proletaire, the paper of the PCI , recently noted:

For the Communist left, the war was not a conflict between "democrats" and "barbarians", but the fruit of the opposing imperialist interests of national capitals. And the right response to the imperialist war-drive, the proletarian position, was to call for revolutionary defeatism. Needless to say, this position was not defended by Socialists or Stalinists. We now understand the meaning of this press campaign in 1996. Janover makes no mistake about it.

In the second part of his book he analyzes why this campaign was waged against the political positions of the communist left. Indeed, the struggle against "revisionism" is only a conventient pretext for this slanderous campaign, hiding its real goal: like the "Hitlero-Trotskyism" invented by the Stalinists in the thirties to hound communist militants, capitalist ideologues today invent a "Bordigo-Fascism", to discredit the internationalist Marxist current.