Revolution or War n° 1

(February 2014)

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20th Congress of the International Communist Current

By taking a position on the last congress of the ICC, our organization continues a fundamental Communist Left tradition - the importance of international discussion between proletarian groups. These discussions have two facets. First, they tend to prove historically and materially that such a proletarian camp exists, which unfortunately is not defended even by some of its constituents. Second, these discussions are one, if not the fundamental one, of the multiple facets of the struggle for the consolidation of Left Communists, namely the struggle for the creation of the world communist party. These discussions allow for a decantation of communist groups. We must encourage, join forces and develop a clear expression of the traditional positions of the Commuist Left, on the one hand, yet we must criticize, reject and expose opportunism in whatever form it takes.

Today, it’s all the more necessary to continue this tradition, since the principle organization that has defended it for decades, the ICC, drastically reversed its position on this principle [1]. Klasbatalo, as well as FICL, critiqued the ICC’s opportunist and revisionist positions, mainly their theses on decomposition, the importance placed on trust and ethics in dealing with organizational questions, the rapprochement with anarchism. The International Group of the Communist Left takes these critiques into full account.

Specifically, the texts of the 20th Congress clearly show that not only is the present ICC continuing its unapologetic opportunist policy of liquidating its original principles, but is taking another step toward the decline of the organization. Indeed, we recently learned that not only has the ICC abandoned its decades long pace of publications, but that they have held no public meetings, at least in France, for an indefinite period, nor have they had any at all for a year [2]. In addition, the presentation of the congress of the ICC reveals an organization that has lost its direction and is incapable of even being able to put forward a political orientation. All its elements are closely linked and are also related to the question of the party, the other aspect of the Congress of the ICC which expresses a betrayal, of original principles .

The press , public meetings , intervention

The basic principle of intervention, whether through the press or public meetings, is a perspective of long-term work, which doesn’t aim for immediate and ephemeral results, but for a historic achievement: the proletarian revolution. Therefore, we must aim for a stable, constant, serious, and disciplined intervention, in short a party intervention. The ICC justified its lack of public meetings on its desire to advance the long-term consolidation of its organization - which is commendable. ’The ICC as a whole decided to reflect on its bilan and the direction of its activity with a thorough analysis of the historical situation since the collapse of the Eastern bloc and on the internal difficulties we encountered. We realized fairly recently that we had a tendency to squander our weak forces dispersing them with excessive activity on external intervention, at the expense of building our organization in the the long term.’ [3]

The problem lies in the ICC’s abandoment of its intervention in favor of a reflection that is not based on any political principle or political orientation. It’s all just a series of questions leading nowhere: “Was the aggravation of the crisis in 2007 a qualitative break, opening a new chapter in history, pushing the economy towards an immediate and rapid collapse? What was the significance of the events of 2007? More generally what kind of development of the crisis should we expect: a sudden collapse or a slow, politically ‘managed’ decline? Which countries will sink first and which last? Does the ruling class have choices, room for maneuver, and what kind of mistakes are they trying to avoid? Or more generally: when analyzing the economic crisis and its perspectives, can and does the ruling class ignore the expected reactions of the working class? Which criteria does the ruling class take into consideration when adopting austerity programs in different countries? Are we in a situation where everywhere the ruling class can attack the working class in the same way as it has been doing in Greece? Can we expect a repetition of the same scale of attacks (wage cuts of up to 40% etc) in the old industrial heartlands? What difference is there between the crisis of 1929 and today’s? How far has pauperization advanced in the big industrial countries?” [4] These questions clumsily almost mechanically, conceal the disarray and disorientation, in the name of a “culture of debate” ? - going so far as to call into question the marxist method: “What method should we use to analyze the class struggle in the present historical period?” [5]

Opportunism without principle has two sides to it: activism and academia. The 20th Congress attempts to fight activism in a headlong rush into academicism, or rather ’deeper theory” - reflecting for reflection’s sake without real political issues behind the reflection. This is indeed a summary of the 20th Congress: many questions left unanswered, and especially with no political orientations put forward. The ICC after having violated its principles and program, one after the other, cannot even put forward political orientations for the working class. ICC comrades will therefore be called upon to reflect on everything and nothing, as a coterie of intellectuals, this approach being presented as a means to ensure the ’building of our organization over the long term’ [6] - On the contrary, this approach will encourage dispersion, confusion and the political demoralization of ICC comrades, a process already seriously underway.

Organizational issues

The presentation of the work of the Congress of the ICC then tells us that the organization is experiencing difficulties, particularly on organizational issues: ’In particular , we have seen (as we stated in our article assessing the 20th Congress of RI) a tendency among us towards the loss of ICC experience and the history of the labor movement, including on organizational matters among the comrades of the older generation.’ [7] It would be easy for us to add that ICC’s difficulties, including on organizational matters, did not begin yesterday, but in the early 2000s, a period that led to the exclusion of the Internal Fraction of the ICC. The novelty here lies in the fact that the presentation mentioned learning to deal with the loss of acquired skills of comrades of the ’older generation’. We believe instead that it is likely that this older generation of activists in the CCI retain some marxist reflexes as well as the tradition of the Communist Left. These are healthier than the liquidationnist faction of the ICC inviting the submission of crazy new theories with its opportunistic reflexes. The worst part is that the ICC seems to rely opportunistically on less experienced and/or less integrated younger activists, coupled with the consequent witch-hunt of the ’old guard’.

This follows a long and tortuous theoretical development, the result of the penetration of bourgeois ideology into the proletarian organization. Obviously, here, the root of all evil is ’decomposition’, a concept used to explain everything and nothing. For the opportunistic ICC, just having sound moral principles, ethics and good values is enough to prevent the penetration of bourgeois ideology: “The history of the workers’ movement has taught us, through the opportunist gangrene that carried off the 2nd and 3rd Internationals, that the main threat to revolutionary organisations is precisely their inability to combat the penetration of the ‘values’ and habits of thought of bourgeois society.” Or...”A revolutionary organisation has to establish a mode of functioning where all kinds of different individuals and personalities can be integrated into one big body. (...) And at the same time this means an organisation must have a set of rules and principles which are based on ethical principles.” [8] Contrary to the ICCs liquidationism, we claim a tradition, that of the Communist Left, whose conception of militantism is based not on abstract and confusing concepts, viewing class as set of morals and values, but rather based on a clear political program summarizing the experience of hundreds of years of the workers movement. Unfortunately, it is not the supposed decomposition of capitalism that makes the ICC more permeable to bourgeois ideology, but rather that the concept of decomposition itself is the most striking example of bourgeois ideological penetration within the ICC.

The conception of the class party

The ICC has also explicitly abandoned the conception of the party which it defended for years: “As the ICC has often emphasised, the function of the revolutionary organisation today is not to ‘organise the class’ or its struggles (as could be the case during the first steps of the workers’ movement in the 19th century). Its essential role, already set out in the Communist Manifesto in 1848, derives from the fact that communists “have over the great mass of the proletariat the advantage of clearly understanding the line of march, the conditions, and the ultimate general results of the proletarian movement”. In this sense, the permanent and essential function of the organisation is the elaboration of political positions, and in order to do this it cannot afford to be totally absorbed by its tasks of intervention in the class. It has to be able to take a step back and arrive at a general view. It must be permanently preoccupied with deepening the questions posed by the class as a whole and with placing them within a historical perspective. This means that it cannot limit itself to an analysis of the world situation. It needs to explore broader, underlying theoretical questions, rejecting superficiality and the distortions of capitalist society and ideology. This is a permanent struggle, one with a long-term view that embraces a whole series of aspects that go well beyond the questions posed to the class at this or that moment in the struggle.’ [9] The conception advocated here is in fact councilist in that it places the party in a secondary role, as an advisor to the masses. That the party should not intervene too much, that it should step back in order to advance the struggle, from where it then may ’provide good advice’.

Needless to say, this concept goes against one of the ICC’s basic positions, a position we still defend: ’The revolutionary political organisation constitutes the vanguard of the working class and is an active factor in the generalisation of class consciousness within the proletariat. Its role is neither to ‘organise the working class’ nor to ‘take power’ in its name, but to participate actively in the movement towards the unification of struggles, towards workers taking control of them for themselves, and at the same time to draw out the revolutionary political goals of the proletariat’s combat.’ [10]

The ICC dropped two fundamental aspects of the party: first, that of the party as an involved and active factor in struggles and secondly that of the importance of drawing out a political orientation. In fact, if the presentation of the conference tells us anything, it’s that the ICC lacks any political orientation capable of providing a guide for the proletariat.

International situation and political perspectives

The report on imperialist tensions at the 20th Congress of the ICC is instructive in dealing with the state of the ICCs decomposition, if we excuse the pun, history is no longer understood as the class struggle and the imperialist rivalries between national bourgeoisies. According to the ICC, as neither of the classes is able to impose its solution to the crisis, society stagnates. Here we have the famous decomposition of capitalism. History becomes an extension of chaos, of everyone for oneself, of irrationality, etc. All concepts that have as little to do with Marxism as they do with each other. The classic alternative defended in the Communist Left, is that of War or Revolution, but here we’re adding a grey area between the two: a society decomposing on its foundations.

This theory is dangerously opportunist. Dangerous in that it disarms militants. It prevents the development of political guidelines (e.g. the course towards war or rather the course towards revolution?). No credible political orientation can come out of this theory. The last congress of the ICC is its purest expression. As the ICC no longer knows where it’s going, it has all the time in the world to indulge in endless reflections on topics that do not involve any real political issues, inviting to its congress eminent university professors to pacify ICC militants on topics with no immediate concern for the working class.

On the level of class struggle, the ICC invites the proletariat to follow the example of the Indignados and the Occupy movements. [11]The most advanced expressions of this tendency were the “indignados” and Occupy movements - especially in Spain - because they were the ones which most clearly showed the tensions, contradictions and potential of the class struggle today. Despite the presence of strata coming from the impoverished petty bourgeoisie, the proletarian imprint of these movements manifested itself in the search for solidarity, in the assemblies, in the attempts to develop a culture of debate, in the capacity to avoid the traps of repression, in the seeds of internationalism, and in an acute sensibility towards subjective and cultural elements. And it is through this dimension of preparing the subjective terrain that these movements show all their importance for the future.” [12] Here the ICC falls in assemblyism and democratism, that is to say, in the illusion that it is sufficient enough to gather the working class into an assembly that’s radicalized, and then politicize it with a class perspective. This illusion stems directly from the design of the ICCs ’culture of debate’ where debate takes on a revolutionary virtue in itself. Of course, efforts to create workers’ assemblies are strongly encouraged, but don’t forget that they must be supported by the workers themselves. Instead, at their inception, the Indignados and Occupy movements were on a political terrain completely occupied by the bourgeois left with its version of anti-globalization and economic nationalism

Finally, we appeal to ICC militants trying to straighten out their organization, one increasingly plagued by opportunism, to point out that the ICC is actually failing. We must fight against the demoralization that this brings. We are currently in a period of rising class struggle. The proletariat needs its political organizations, now more than ever, to advance toward proletarian revolution. A weakening of the ICC remains a weakening of proletarian camp as a whole. And a weakening of the proletarian camp necessarily implies a weakening of the proletariat in the class struggle.

Robin, 10 January 2014.

(Published on : 18 January 2014)



[3(idem, translated by us).

[4Presentation of the 20th International Congress, ICC International Review #152.



[8Presentation of the 20th International Congress, ICC International Review #152.


[11To get a politically correct statement about the ’Indignados’, see the Internationalist Communist Tendency text : Spain - The ’indignados’ on the streets, for now lacking real proletarian anger