Revolution or War n°12

(Special issue on the proletarian camp and its future - July 2019)

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Warning : We were unable to correct and verify the English translation of several texts in this issue. We apologize for the difficulty of the reading and we hope that there is no political misunderstanding. If any doubt, one can always refer to the French version.

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Activities Report for the 2nd General Meeting of the IGCL – June 2019

As we indicate in the presentation of this special issue, the report of activities adopted by our 2nd General Meeting is intended to be a report for our group as well as for the proletarian camp as a whole. We believe that our organisational experience and practice are "everyone’s business", and as such they can and should be criticised if necessary. And we pretend to believe that they can be used for reflection both by the new communist forces and groups emerging today and by the former groups and militants of the "old" proletarian camp from the 1960s and 1970s. In particular, we warn against the circle spirit as it is expressed today, promoted by the use and democratic ideology specific to the social networks of the Internet, and we propose the party method to counter and overcome it, the very one that Lenin best presented and defended in his time.

Report of Activities for the 2nd General Meeting of the IGCL

"In recent years the question of ’what is to be done’ has confronted Russian Social-Democrats with particular insistence. It is not a question of what path we must choose (as was the case in the late eighties and early nineties), but of what practical steps we must take upon the known path and how they shall be taken. It is a question of a system and plan of practical work. And it must be admitted that we have not yet solved this question of the character and the methods of struggle, fundamental for a party of practical activity, that it still gives rise to serious differences of opinion which reveal a deplorable ideological instability and vacillation. On the one hand, the “Economist” trend, far from being dead, is endeavouring to clip and narrow the work of political organisation and agitation. On the other, unprincipled eclecticism is again rearing its head, aping every new “trend”, and is incapable of distinguishing immediate demands from the main tasks and permanent needs of the movement as a whole" (Lenin, Where to Begin ?, 1901 [1]).

In broad terms, the problematics that the Russian revolutionaries were confronting with at the beginning of the 20th century today arises again in somewhat the same terms for the whole proletarian camp, and particularly for its components amongst the forces of the Partidist Communist Left, the ones which set themselves resolutely in the fight for the World Communist Party. Even if in a ’modern’ form, the permanent challenge of Economism, Apolitism and the Anti-party trend on the one hand and, on the other, and more immediately, the danger of theoretical and political Eclecticism guided by Immediatism come back today. The awakening of the latter almost mechanically accompanies the inevitable social and class reactions and revolts fed and provoked by the sharpness, the topicality, the present action of the historical alternative proletarian revolution or generalized imperialist war. Both modern Economism and Political Indifferentism on the one hand and Eclecticism and Immediatism on the other affect the class as a whole, especially when it struggles, or tries, to struggle in mass – we cannot develop in this report – as well as the revolutionaries. These are the issues at which the whole proletarian camp, what Nuevo Curso (NC [2]) calls the party in the making, sees standing before it. These are the two political failings and threats of opportunist order that can affect, and already partly are affecting, the proletarian camp ; and within it our own group – unless we believe and decree that we would be protected, vaccinated, against the viruses of opportunist order that inevitably affect the communist milieu.

The balance-sheet of our activities since the 1st General Meeting of the group in July 2016 can only be established in relation to the evolution of the historical situation and the various questions it has presented to the proletariat and the communist groups – knowing that the latter are also completely part, products and factors, of this situation. (…).

It was only at the very beginning of the transition to 2018 that we found ourselves confronted with new events marking a relatively different moment, a significant evolution, of the historical situation that we analyse as the entry into a period of massive confrontations between the classes as a prelude to the resolution, in one way or another, of the historical alternative. This new moment in the development of class struggle may raise questions, at least require verification, about our general analysis and understanding :

- first of all, and even if we knew that the conformation of the ’old’ proletarian camp inherited from the 1970s-1980s would inevitably be disrupted, new communist forces emerged of which NC is the expression and a factor, thus directly confronting the historical groups of the partidist Communist Left with their historical responsibility in the face of this new dynamic and in front of which the Internationalist Communist Tendency, the main organization of this camp, began by locking itself into an attitude, or reflexes, relatively sectarian towards us and immediatist about these new forces ;

- then, the imperialist polarization is exacerbating under the pressure of the American bourgeoisie, Trump’s politics and language, nothing unexpected in itself for us, and China becomes potentially and apparently one of America’s main imperialist rivals while Germany and the European Union seem to have great difficulty to respond to the challenges Trump imposes on them – and in emerging as a rival pole. This forces us to verify, even question, our analysis as presented in our Theses on the International Situation of 2013 [3] according to which only Germany can aspire to be the head of an imperialist pole, and then of a bloc if the way to generalized war were to open up, opposing American power and leadership ;

- finally, the renewal of workers’ and social struggles that took place throughout 2018 and which was marked mainly by a proletarian mass struggle dynamic in Iran, even in Mexico, and by a particular expression, with an interclassist character, of the bursting of social antagonisms with the Yellow Vests movement in France – while the railway workers’ struggle in spring 2018 ended only a few months earlier with a major defeat. The two phenomena of mass strike and the Yellow Vests, their respective characteristics and the international repercussions they have encountered, mark the beginning of a period of massive (and violent) confrontations between the classes. (…).

In fact, from January 2018 onwards, (...) a number of new questions emerged and it is necessary to check more closely whether we have succeeded to respond to the 2016 mandate in face of these new conditions, whether we could respond to the development of the situation and, above all, whether the group as a whole has succeeded in taking into account the changes and adapting, if necessary, our axes of intervention.

1) In the Face of Ongoing Changes, Is There a Need for a New Orientation for the IGCL?

We can therefore wonder if the evolution of the situation, the entry into a period of massive confrontations between the classes, does not require a break, at least a significant evolution, of our activities and its priorities as defined and adopted by the previous General Meeting of 2016:

"Nevertheless, it remains some ’objective’ fragilities due to to the historical situation – to the difficulties of the proletariat to find back the revolutionary path to Communism – and to the particular weaknesses of the Proletarian Camp. It is in this situation and this milieu, both certainly called to change brutally, that we must make live our group and develop its presence so that it’ll be an active factor of the struggle for the Party. For this, while keeping vigilant and present in the daily fights, we must set our whole activities in a long run vision – the only one moreover which really allows us to be more present and efficient in the daily fights. In particular, it matters to integrate the permanent dynamic relation between internal life and intervention while acknowledging that today, and in last instance, it is the internal life (included understood as internal life of the Proletarian Camp) which defines the intervention, content and level, and guarantees the class content and the regularity as well as the ability to speed up. For the reporter, it is still the dimension of internal political life which remains determining for the strengthening and the development of the group and its unity" (Revolution or War #6, 2016, Activities Report for the IGCL General Meeting [4]).

Do the changes that occurred with 2018 reverse the relationship between internal life and external intervention as we defined it in 2016? The question is all the more worth asking because the ICT, certainly based on slightly different theoretical and political premises (we do not exactly share the same vision of the struggle for the party), seems to defend a different orientation:

"Around the world it is clear that a new generation is coming to the politics of the communist left and that throws up new challenges for organisations like the Internationalist Communist Tendency. Establishing a clear revolutionary stance through applying Marxism to contemporary reality is our starting point but we cannot confine ourselves to that. As Onorato Damen said revolutionary politics “cannot be restricted to a typewriter”. This is not a time for fractions or discussion circles. It is time to form nuclei of revolutionaries everywhere and for them to converge in the creation of an international and internationalist revolutionary party in preparation for the inevitable class conflicts of the future" (ICT, The Significance of the German Revolution, nov. 2018 [5], we underline).

The article, written by a member of the CWO, the British group of the ICT, clearly rejects the ’fractions or discussion circles’. Beyond the rejection of the organizational form in itself and more serious, it underestimates, ignores, and in fact rejects, any process of political confrontation and clarification as a central means and essential moment of the struggle for the party. However, this process of political confrontation and clarification – which must be open to the proletarian camp as a whole – is, contrary to this vision, the central necessity of the present moment: to arm politically and theoretically the new generation that comes by linking it to the Communist Left precisely on these two levels; and not to seek to win for oneself in itself in an immediatist approach in the hope that the mere adherence will suffice to this theoretical-political armament – if it were so simple! Other comrades, in particular Nuevo Curso, noted a fatalistic, even a wait-and-see trend, in our latest communiqué on the Yellow Vests:

"We differ from the fatalism that we sense in the final phrases of the statement reproduced below. It is true that the weakness of communists in today’s struggles reflects ’the present international and historical relationship of forces between classes... but as in every dialectical relationship, their true solution is the affirmation of their opposite: if we communists want to transform the relationship of forces between the classes we must begin by confronting our own weakness on the basis of the elements within our grasp" (Nuevo Curso, Los chalecos amarillos tres meses después, January 30th 2019 [6]).

This critical questioning of NC – whose spirit and content we share as such – has also been expressed on various occasions and in various forms in our own ranks. And despite its identification and mention on several occasions, we have not been able to debate it openly and clearly resolve the issue. (…).

So, beyond the immediate and cyclical questions, and to the extent that the question, even the criticism, is raised both in the proletarian camp and within ourselves, it is legitimate to wonder about the orientation that we must define today: is it not time for the intervention dimension to dictate and determine now, and unlike the previous period, all our activities?

2) Use the Party Method to Debate and Define our Orientations

It is difficult to maintain and develop a party method in a very small group like ours whose photo, the immediate reality, is that of a small circle. In fact, it is a large part, if not all, of the proletarian camp that lives as a set of circles because of the dispersion, eclecticism, chapel spirit, informalism, the weight of individualism that prevail. Even the functioning and intervention of its main organization, the ICT, which is nevertheless organically linked with the CP and the Communist Left of Italy, is under the weight of a relative informalism, personalism and individualism, and therefore of the spirit of circle [7]. In a way, and without making it an absolute, or a copy and paste, we can still draw a parallel with the situation faced by the Russian social democratic revolutionaries at the beginning of the 20th century. At least it should serve as an experience and reference for us:

"Our movement suffers in the first place, ideologically, as well as in practical and organisational respects, from its state of fragmentation, from the almost complete immersion of the overwhelming majority of Social-Democrats in local work, which narrows their outlook, the scope of their activities, and their skill in the maintenance of secrecy and their preparedness" (Lenin, ibidem).

There is no doubt that some, no matter how many, will make fun of our aspiration and claim to use this party method. We are few, very few, too few, claiming it today, including within the proletarian camp itself. However, the immoderate, uncontrolled use of the new media and networks of the Web 2.0 encourages the spread of bourgeois and petty-bourgeois democratic ideology and the disease that affect all these forces, including those claiming the Communist Left as well as the new generations without experience. This one can be characterized as the Circle Spirit Version 2.0. Defending the party method and its illustration in our practice is one of the tasks that our group must set for itself in the face of the new generation of revolutionaries that is emerging and struggling to break away from the democratic, individualistic, subjective and emotional practice of the social networks. In short, without making an absolute parallel with the past, the fight against the circle spirit is fully topical and at the forefront of the fight for the party.

In our case, and in order to prepare the General Meeting, our congress, the party method requires the political identification of the political tendencies mentioned above and which confront each other, at least potentially, within our own ranks as well as in the camp. For they are more or less assertive expressions of contradictory tendencies within the proletarian camp as a whole and at the same time the, indirect and sometimes direct, reflection and expression of the contradictions and difficulties which the international proletariat finds itself confronted with, particularly in its struggles. We can define and summarize them – and not reduce them – to the hesitations and weaknesses that the revolutionary class experiences in seizing the political dimension of its struggles by opposing and confronting the various forces, mainly trade unions and politicians, of the capitalist state apparatus; that is, again and again the danger of Apolitism, Political Indifferentism, modern Economism embodied by Councilism.

"We have taken the first step, we have aroused in the working class a passion for “economic”, factory exposures; we must now take the next step, that of arousing in every section of the population that is at all politically conscious a passion for political exposure" (Lenin, ibidem).

It is not in itself a question of making every nuance a debate and a definitive confrontation leading to hasty political characterizations and condemning anyone, even less of course to systematic splits; on the contrary, it is a question of setting the terms and conditions for the widest possible political clarification and the overcoming of these oppositions; latent oppositions in our case and oppositions that are not developed to the point that such or such members personify them, carry them and materialize them specifically; more or less open and expressed oppositions among the groups of the proletarian camp.

The utilization of the method that seeks to identify and polarize differences and debates is made all the more difficult in a very small group whose image and immediate reality are that of a circle. It is difficult not to ’personalize’ the debates in a group of few members. All the more reason to hold on and practice, try to practice and develop, the party method : "But now that I have become a member of a party, (...) I am obliged to give formal reasons for my “confidence” or “lack of confidence”, that is, to cite a formally established principle of our programme, tactics or Rules; I must not just declare my “confidence” or “lack of confidence” without giving reasons, but must acknowledge that my decisions – and generally all decisions of any section of the Party – have to be accounted for to the whole Party; I am obliged to adhere to a formally prescribed procedure when giving expression to my “lack of confidence” or trying to secure the acceptance of the views and wishes that follow from this lack of confidence. From the circle view that “confidence” does not have to be accounted for, we have already risen to the Party view which demands adherence to a formally prescribed procedure of expressing, accounting for, and testing our confidence" (Lenin, One Step Forward, Two Steps Back, 1904 [8]). In our case, our ability – noted at the 1st General Meeting of 2016 – to send and exchange regularly discussion reports or letters with arguments – and not instant posts specific to networks – responding to each other provides the essential organizational means and framework to found and develop our debates, including contradictory debates, on written documents, material facts – and not on subjective and/or personal impressions. (…).

3) A Report of Continuity and not Rupture

For the reporter, it is the first option and orientation he will propose that the General Meeting adopt. Nevertheless, today, in the face of the significant evolution of the situation, including the communist forces, it is necessary to specify the formula of our 2016 General Meeting: it is still the dimension of internal political life within the proletarian camp as a whole that remains decisive for the strengthening and development of this camp and its unity to which our group is a party and factor.

Why such a choice when the question of a break-up can legitimately be raised? At the very moment when the world situation and its historical stakes are becoming clearer; when the capitalist class is forced to redouble its attacks and to start and generalize a real class war against the proletariat; when workers minorities emerge in the inevitable struggles that ensue and increasingly question the future of capitalism and the need for a new society; and even when new communist forces emerge and a new dynamic shakes up the ordering and conformation of the old proletarian camp and particularly the partidist forces within it? At first glance, everything would seem to support the CWO’s thesis according to which "This is not a time for fractions or discussion circles. It is time to form nuclei of revolutionaries everywhere and for them to converge in the creation of an international and internationalist revolutionary party" [9]; that the immediate, the hour, is to win and regroup as quickly as possible proletarian energies in order to be able to influence directly and massively, even lead, the proletarian struggles at the risk, otherwise, that they systematically fail and do not succeed in changing the dynamics of the relation of forces between the classes...

This approach presents two mistakes: the first sees – or reduces – the solution of the problem of the party-class relation to the immediate influence of revolutionaries, the party, in the class independently of the real – i. e. political – course of the relation of forces between the classes (cf. our critical comments to the ICT’s positions in RG #10 and 11); the second does not take into account an essential factor of this relation of forces, its course or dynamics: the present reality of the proletarian camp itself – marked by its isolation, weakness and dispersion –, of the Communist Left and the political groups that claim it, as the highest expressions of the class consciousness. Both errors present the danger of falling into a kind of voluntarism – to be distinguished from political will and conviction – and immediatism – expecting immediate results, here the adherence of sympathisers and members, and basing the orientations on these hopes independently of the real course of proletarian struggles. And, if these expectations are not confirmed – which is highly probable for the immediate future –, political distress and, then, political demoralization often result from it [10]. (…).

It is therefore a real fight that we must wage in the proletarian camp as a whole against these expressions of immediatism, which cannot fail to multiply in the face of the acceleration and aggravation of class antagonisms and the characteristics, including the difficulties, specific to the mass strike process in the current period. Acceleration and aggravation will offer the temptation of the impatient wait and therefore the search for immediate success, especially in terms of direct influence in the class or militant membership, instead of the strengthening and the international political, theoretical and programmatic unity of the party in the making. However, this danger of immediatism is aggravated by the weight of the circle spirit and informalism that tends to prevail in its modern form 2.0 and that we have previously pointed out. This general atmosphere of immediacy, made of instantaneous, direct, posts, which are very often, too often, reduced to individual subjectivity and emotion rather than to systematic, methodical, collective, centralised and therefore organised reflection, that is the party method, exerts a pressure on the whole historical groups of the Communist Left, and also on our own group, to which we must try to resist by attaching ourselves and re-appropriating the past experiences of the workers movement.

4) At the Heart of our Activities : the Journal Revolution ou War

"In our opinion, the starting-point of our activities, the first step towards creating the desired organisation, or, let us say, the main thread which, if followed, would enable us steadily to develop, deepen, and extend that organisation, should be the founding of an All-Russian political newspaper. A newspaper is what we most of all need; without it we cannot conduct that systematic, all-round propaganda and agitation, consistent in principle, which is the chief and permanent task of Social-Democracy in general (…). The role of a newspaper, however, is not limited solely to the dissemination of ideas, to political education, and to the enlistment of political allies. A newspaper is not only a collective propagandist and a collective agitator, it is also a collective organiser. (…) With the aid of the newspaper, and through it, a permanent organisation will naturally take shape that will engage, not only in local activities, but in regular general work, and will train its members to follow political events carefully, appraise their significance and their effect on the various strata of the population, and develop effective means for the revolutionary party to influence these events" (Lenin, ibid, we underline).

We can draw a parallel between the central role that Lenin attributed to the regular publication of a newspaper and whose arguments are developed in What is to be done?, and the development of our own collective organization. Since the creation of the IGCL, all our activities have been articulated around our journal. A large part of the balance-sheet of the group’s activities can and must be based on the yardstick of Revolution or War, our publication whose regularity has been respected and confirmed, and its political content, analyses, orientations, positions but also articles from other groups or sympathizers and public debates assumed. Our journal is not only a collective organiser at the technical level or in terms of the functioning of the group for its production, choice of summaries, articles, contributions, translations, discussions of draft articles, etc. but also, and above all, at the political level as the main factor of the group’s homogeneity and political unity. (…).

[Follows here a more precise balance-sheet of the journal and its practical realization that we don’t reproduce publicly, Redaction’s note]

In short, the content and political orientations of our journal fairly accurately expresses the very dynamics of our group, its strengths and weaknesses, and the questions it faces and tries to address, as well as those of the proletarian camp as a whole. Its regular publication, which has never been denied, has become a positive experience that must be still further consolidated. But above all, the 2nd General Meeting of our group should consider the evolution of our review since... 2018. Until then, it was essentially the publication of the IGCL, whose main focus was "that we push both for consolidation and polarization around the Internationalist Communist Tendency and as well to fight against the manifestations of opportunism and sectarianism within the camp, especially against apolitical and ’anti-party’ tendencies" (Resolution on the Foundation of the IGCL, 2013, RG #1 [11]). Since the emergence of new forces, Nuevo Curso, the GCCF and Workers Offensive in the United States, or the comrades gathered around the Free Retriever Digest in the Netherlands, our journal does not hesitate and must reproduce the positions and contributions that these groups make, not only to ’use them on our own account’ – unite and rationalize joint efforts – but also and especially to promote and develop as closely as possible the most united and effective expression of the Communist Left on an international level. We must therefore continue to develop our orientation of openness to the other forces of the camp in, and through, the journal so that it is, as far as possible, a publication of the proletarian camp as a whole, a tool for debate and clarification; but also so that the Communist Left speaks with a single voice when possible. In short, that it be a means and a moment of the struggle for the party.

The development of this expansion or opening of the publication requires from us a greater political control and permanent vigilance against any concession to theoretical and political eclecticism. It will therefore be necessary to encourage internationalist positions on major events (as was the case for the Catalan question or the mass strike in Iran) and questions that raise debates and theoretical and political points to be clarified (as was the case for the party-class relation, the historical alternative, the period of transition...). The strengthening of the struggle for our political homogeneity and unity, the strengthening of the internal life dimension, is the condition to be able to carry out this proposal of opening and widening, extending, of the intervention of the journal in the camp as a whole and in the class in the most useful and effective way possible for the struggle for the party; that is, in the sense of regrouping and political unity, as a moment of the fight for the party, and not in the sense of eclectism and democratism, that is as a moment of dilution and liquidation of the party.

5) Internal Functioning and Method of Party

Undoubtedly, Revolution or War is our collective organizer to use the expression and, we hope, the party method put forward by Lenin in his time. In fact, our publication centralizes (synthesizes) and materializes all our activities and gives them a rhythm, a regular and permanent dynamic. However, only a permanent collective activity and mobilization can establish and develop the effective political presence of a communist group and, at the same time, allow it to accelerate and to face any unforeseen or sudden event in the situation.

Its implementation in terms of political content and editorial choice requires us to maintain and develop as much as possible a permanent internal life that the individual will of the members alone would not be enough to guarantee, far from it. (…) As a result of our material objective reality, for the number of members, as a circle, the weight of individual responsibilities and convictions is all the more important and makes this achievement more fragile. The party method, made all the more necessary by the conditions of our daily lives, requires a redoubled effort and vigilance against expressions and temptations, and other apparent facilities, diverse and varied, collective and individual, of the circle spirit. (…).

Addition of Individual Writers or Towards a Collective Writer?

In a meeting a comrade expressed the opinion that he did not have "the editorial capacity to be part of a redaction committee. He can do the technical work, however (proofreading, corrections, etc.). He suggests that it is [the other comrades] who should be in charge of such a committee" (report of March 14, 2019). Let us stop for a moment on this point and polarize the underlying debate without personalizing it. This approach and understanding of the member’s relationship to the activities to be carried out by the organisation – which cannot be limited here to the work of a redaction committee alone – tends to deny the collective and centralised dimension of all the activities of a communist group, all the more of the party. Admittedly, not all its members have the same individual ’abilities’, ’qualities’, ’predispositions’ or ’attractions’ and the collective body must use the forces at its disposal to the best of its tasks and class struggle. In this sense and at first sight, it may seem obvious that it is better to have a ’good writer’ than a ’bad one’. But the fundamental question is not technical, here the ability to write, there to translate or master a foreign language, or to be a good speaker, propagandist or agitator, etc. It is above all and before any a political one, and therefore also a collective one. In addition to the fact – curious in itself but above all dangerous from the point of view of fraternal political relations and the involvement of each militant – of keeping one only member out of the group’s core activity, leaving political – and not technical or practical – responsibility for a particular activity to ’specialists’ or a certain type of militants is not the concept that communists must develop in terms of centralisation of the activities and realization of the tasks. One thing is to give a mandate, permanent or not, depending on the situation, to a particular body, central or not, or to one or more delegates; another is to ’withdraw’ from a collective task at the risk of either ’specializing’ in another or ending up becoming uninvolved and demoralized. In one case, the mandate given makes the mandatee accountable to the collective to which he is accountable, and we have an effective centralization of militant work according to the party method. In the other case, we have an individual withdrawal according to the circle spirit and a formalization, if not a theorization, of a division of labour within the party that leads to federalism and autonomism, then to individual specialization and political division. In one case, we have a political confidence that can be established, developed and verified on the basis of a mandate because "I am accountable for my decisions (...) to the whole party" (Lenin, op. cit.) and thus, among other things, that provides the political conditions, including the appropriate organizational framework, for such and such member to also develop new ’individual’ capacities; here editorial. In the other, the supposed lack of confidence in one’s own individual capacities, as a starting point for reflection, and the renunciation or even resignation from this collective task, which results from it, considers the problem from, and reduces it to, the militant individual – and not from the organized collective, the party. It turns its back on the party method and tends to consider the communist political organization as an addition of individualities and not as a collective body; here as a sum of individual writers and not, of course, as a collective writer.

The report proposes that all comrades in the group, as it exists today, actively participate in the redaction committee, which does not mean that it should be decreed that all comrades must each one write at least one article every issue. This means that all comrades have at heart at all times, on a daily basis, the realization of the journal as a whole – because they will receive the mandate from the General Meeting and "will have to account to the whole party" – and that each of them contributes to it according to his/her capacity in the same way and with the same responsibility as the other members. The principle that must guide any redaction committee, and the party itself, is that of the process that tends and aims to move from a collective of writers to a collective writer. Even if it cannot be decreed because it depends closely on the homogeneity and political unity in the making – which is why it is still necessary to ’sign individually’ certain articles –, it is nevertheless the objective and spirit that must guide the editorial work and the realization of the publications; and the principle that must define the party method to be used and developed by any redaction committee.

How to Struggle against the Inevitable Internal Heterogeneity in Order to Reduce It as Much as Possible

Nor, of course, is it a question for the organized and centralized collective body, that is the party, to impose by force on members tasks for which they do not feel adapted or for which they have no appetite, at least initially. The policy of injunction, here to force a comrade to perform a certain task of which he or she is not convinced, is not a useful mode of operation for the communist organization because it is not effective. A comrade who is not convinced of a task or political orientation will have the greatest difficulty in carrying it out, will probably do it badly, and in the long run will risk losing confidence in the organized collective, in his own convictions and finally by becoming demoralized. In this case, the party method consists in the collective taking on the task as best it can and eventually convincing the comrade that it has a full place in its realization – is this not the method that striking or struggling workers tend to use spontaneously when they organize their struggle themselves (and not the unions)? It is not always very fast, its solution is certainly not the most immediate from a formal (or formalist) point of view, but there is no other from the communist one; that is, from the point of view of the effectiveness of the proletarian struggle. On this level too, voluntarist research and the impatient expectation of immediate results are often in vain and end up being counterproductive and ultimately dangerous. (…).

We insist on this false method of injunction because we often find it in the history of the workers movement and its revolutionary organizations. To give just one example, it was precisely a means used first by the Zinovievist opportunism, then systematized by triumphant Stalinism, to destroy and corrupt the convictions of many militants by forcing them to perform tasks and defend political positions of which they were not convinced and even which they disagreed with [12]. It was once again to the honour of the lefts and especially the Left of the Communist Party of Italy, to fight these practices both in the immediate organizational struggle and at the theoretical and political level (cf. the Theses of Lyon, 1926 [13], for example). This point will undoubtedly have to be discussed and clarified because it seems to us that a tendency, certainly a very relative and limited one, towards an injunction – or a kind of voluntarism – can sometimes be expressed among us, towards the proletarian camp or even intervention, and is caused in large part by disappointment at the lack of apparent immediate results.

From Each According to his Abilities and Permanence of Militant Commitment

Similarly, some questions have been raised on different occasions about the lack of availability of comrades for the proper realization of the group’s tasks, which sometimes causes relative discouragement and silence, a non-participation, which continues at the risk of becoming demoralizing for the comrade affected by this difficulty and is worrying for the group (…). But the question of militant participation and involvement in the collective struggle is not a question of a minimum amount of hours and minutes per day that should be decreed for everyone’s militant activity. In quantitative terms, participation is inevitably unequal between members and at different times – especially during and outside massive proletarian mobilizations. On the other hand, it is the quality, here the regular and permanent attention and militant concern for the organization’s activities and the development of the historical situation, that must be defended and for which we must fight collectively and individually (…) The militant life dimension of the member of the communist organization, which is inevitably in a minority, or even extremely in a minority, in daily social life under capitalism, is not, and cannot be (except in revolutionary times, but then it is the whole class that is permanently militant), the only dimension of its social life – especially in an historical period in which state capitalism occupies all social and ideological spaces and exercises class domination over all dimensions of social life with the exception of massive proletarian mobilizations which, precisely, break this control. But the militant life dimension must tend to be at the centre of the communist militant’s life as an awareness and concern about the tasks and function of the party.

6) The Direct and Public Intervention

We can distinguish two types of intervention: that which responds to events in the situation, in particular workers’ struggles or public meetings of leftist or revolutionary groups and which is in fact occasional, dependent on these events; and that which corresponds to the intervention of the communist organisation itself, according to its priorities and orientations, of a permanent nature and which aims to develop and establish its political presence in the environments in which it moves. Obviously, in both cases, the organization’s intervention is also dependent and determined, in addition to its political capacity given here as acquired, by the physical, material and intervention capacity – essentially of a geographical nature and, to a lesser degree, by its militant forces. There is therefore a relationship, a relation between the necessity and the immediate objective interest of each intervention and the real capacities of intervention that defines the line to be followed, rarely rectilinear, and that makes it possible to avoid the pitfalls of voluntarism and activism – very often immediate and local – on the one hand and passivity and fatalism on the other hand. (…).

The Regular Intervention of the Group

Perhaps it is precisely the journal that most clearly illustrates the problem and difficulties facing communist intervention today in the face of ’the absence of immediate results’: on the one hand, we manage to publish it regularly, print it and put it on our website, and on the other hand its militant diffusion is extremely limited, even insignificant [14]. Admittedly, the visits and reading of our articles on our website are increasing steadily to this day; the growth curve is very encouraging since the site opened in 2014. What, basically, is the reason for such a low diffusion? A weakness or a lack of conviction and militant efforts on our part to distribute it? Or on more objective conditions? Of course Internet does not help, but we think it is due above all to the reality of the evolution of the relation of forces between the classes and the particularities of the workers’ struggle in our era of omnipresent state capitalism. Our review is systematically distributed in all demonstrations and workers’ struggles within our geographical reach, in public leftist or revolutionary group meetings in which we can participate and finally in the most important bookshops in the cities where we live or that we can reach... while following and controlling our diffusion (another line or balance to be found between the two pitfalls but this is a particular point). Certainly, we can always do better and more in itself. But will this best and this more change significantly the extent of our militant diffusion? We do not think so. And if this observation is correct, it is nevertheless necessary to maintain our collective and individual conviction and militant will to continue and develop this diffusion by drawing as straight a line as possible between the effort of diffusion and the absence of immediate significant results, i.e. the number of sales, at the risk of losing sight of the raison d’être of the militant diffusion, of making it a simple routine task by principle, with no concrete goal, and without enthusiasm or individual and collective dynamism ; and at the end of risking becoming demoralized. Now, sales or not, the distribution of our journal is the flag and the general slogan that we wave in demonstrations and meetings and, as such, it assumes and participates in imposing the essential communist presence in these events. Its usefulness and necessity are not judged by the immediate results, here the number of copies sold; but by the historical and practical significance that the flags or banners Revolution or War for our group, Battaglia Comunista for the ICT or Internationalism for other publications, etc. represent concretely when they are brandished and displayed publicly. And if, in addition, we can add the added value – horror of the management newspeak – of a sale, and even more of a purchase, of a communist publication, the two being all the more militant if they are accompanied by a discussion… all the better!

It is the same problem that arises with the contacts and sympathizers that we can have in France and Canada and that we have met either during public meetings or permanences of the group, or in individual meetings (…). Similarly, we have intervened in public meetings of other revolutionary groups, particularly in Paris, or left-wing trade unionists in Montreal. On these occasions, in addition to some irregular militant sales, we succeed in intervening and thus assuming a relative, and in itself limited, political presence of the IGCL and more broadly of the Communist Left. If the situations of leftist and revolutionary political worlds are different between Montreal and Paris (in Paris, there is still a milieu, certainly very dispersed and eclectic, formed by the Communist Left), and much more so in Toronto, the ’weak’ results in terms of influence, contacts, sympathizers, and none in terms of immediate perspective of organizational grouping or membership in our group, are of the same order. We are therefore faced with a general ’objective’ reality that we must take into account when defining not the need for intervention but the efforts that must be made in order to be as effective as possible in all our activities, including this one. Neither immediatism nor fatalism. Nor voluntarism, nor renunciation.

The Intervention within the Working Class Struggles

Overall, the group is able to mobilize and intervene in the expressions of workers’ struggles in which it can be physically present. Although there were some limited expressions of struggle in Canada and some occasional interventions, it was mainly in France that the group had the opportunity to intervene in massive struggles: just before the previous general meeting, in the spring of 2016 in the fight against the labour law; but also in the mobilization of the railway workers and that of the yellow vests (still in progress at the time of writing this report) in 2018. Its capacity to intervene is not limited, of course, far from it, to its physical intervention but above all – it is a point to be clarified if necessary – as to its political content, orientations and slogans according to the moments and stages.

(…) We must therefore note that local isolation and the very weak number of members make it more difficult to apply the party method for interventions in mass struggles. Despite the group’s support as a whole in our case, and also the proposal for support from members of Nuevo Curso during the French yellow vests movement – both of which are to be noted and welcomed –, the isolated member does not have a permanent organizational framework, a collective, to support him and to which he is accountable on a daily and local basis. He lacks the weekly local section meeting as the party’s base cell. Without discussion or debate and especially without any immediate specific mandate other than the one he gives to himself, in fact and in the urgency of the situation, it is more difficult for the locally isolated militant to be "accountable for his decisions (...) to the whole Party". However, it would be wrong to conclude from this observation that we must absolutely, at all costs, or even as a priority, seek and ’win’ close sympathisers and contacts, even new members; in short, that we make it an orientation, worse an objective, in itself. We would then fall back into the trap of voluntarism. Similarly, to conclude that, since there is currently no possibility of breaking this isolation, it should be abandoned for ’objective’ reasons would be to fall into fatalism (…).

There are no immediate solutions to overcome this difficulty, isolated intervention, and only the group’s international collective framework, i.e. favouring even in periods of intense mobilization the writing of reports and the sharing of experience that best allows the group’s participation as a whole in the reflection and definition of immediate and local orientations, can make it possible to overcome it. Always and again the party method.

Conclusions

This report does not provide an exhaustive overview of our activities. It will be up to the comrades to develop certain points if they deem it necessary. The entry into a period of massive confrontations between the classes, including the emergence of new generations of revolutionaries, is already testing the political groups of the proletarian camp and the Communist Left both in terms of the validity of their basic positions and orientations and in terms of the new and more direct responsibilities posed by the situation that is opening. Our group is no exception and facing historical responsibilities, intervention and political capacities for intervention in the class in particular, can’t be decreed and are the object of an organized collective political struggle.

Despite this change in the situation and the new challenges it poses, we propose to continue and develop the orientations that we defined when the group was formed in 2013 and reaffirmed in 2016; the dimension internal life of the activities, debate, confrontation and political clarification and regrouping, of the groups of the proletarian partidist camp, and therefore of the IGCL, continues to determine and define the external dimension of intervention, which is permanent and indispensable, in the revolutionary class as a whole... This is the balance to be maintained and developed in the activities of our group and this is the main axis of our struggle for the party within the proletarian camp and, more broadly, the revolutionary forces, old or new. To do this, our biannual publication remains our main tool and, as such, must aim to develop its openness to other communist forces and consider itself as a review of the proletarian partidist camp; as a common tool and a moment of the struggle for the party. Our intervention in general and our review in particular must particularly fight against the very particular forms in which opportunism is expressed because of the new situation: the dangers of modern Economism and Fatalism on the one hand and theoretical-political Eclecticism and Immediatism on the other. These two dangers affect both the forces of the proletarian camp and the proletariat in its struggles even if in different ways or forms. Both are particularly favoured by the circle spirit that prevails throughout the international proletarian camp, including within the older groups of the Communist Left.

To best combat these forms of opportunism, which are sometimes openly expressed, sometimes latently or potentially, and the circle spirit, it is up to our group to develop its use and practice of the party method both in its intervention towards the class and the revolutionary forces, including the proletarian camp and the Communist Left groups, as well as in its internal activities. It is essentially in its own practice that it will convince the other communist forces, the old ones to come back (for those who have forgotten it), the new ones to rise, of this method and of the spirit that must accompany it in the face of the circle spirit.

Only the application of, or the return to, this method can allow the real development of the theoretical and political homogeneity and unity of the forces that today constitute the party in the making by the systematization of political debates, confrontations and clarifications and the united expressions of internationalist and communist positions. The formalization and systematization of relations and debates within the camp is one of the two main conditions, as is the rejection of individualism and emotional immediatism specific to social networks, to the circle spirit 2.0.

The strengthening of our political homogeneity and unity as a particular group, or fraction, of this camp is the second. It requires constant vigilance and effort to maintain our regular internal political life. It involves effectively strengthening our political centralization in the production of the journal, developing the collective writer, and affirming the Montreal nucleus as a central local section dynamizing the group as a whole. Finally, it requires a practical understanding – not mystified – and a political conviction of its necessity – therefore not decreed, nor absolute – of the place that, in today’s historical conditions, the militant dimension, the communist commitment, of the members of the party in the making must occupy in relation to the dimension of their personal and private life.

"For the very reason that the “masses are not ours” it is stupid and unseemly to shout about an immediate “assault”, for assault means attack by regular troops and not a spontaneous mass upsurge. For the very reason that the masses may overwhelm and sweep aside the regular troops we must without fail “manage to keep up” with the spontaneous upsurge by our work of “introducing extremely systematic organisation” in the regular troops, for the more we “manage” to introduce such organisation the more probably will the regular troops not be overwhelmed by the masses, but will take their place at their head. Nadezhdin is confused because he imagines that troops in the course of systematic organisation are engaged in something that isolates them from the masses, when in actuality they are engaged exclusively in all-sided and all-embracing political. agitation, i.e., precisely in work that brings closer and merges into a single whole the elemental destructive force of the masses and the conscious destructive force of the organisation of revolutionaries. (...).
For an uprising is in essence the most vigorous, most uniform, and most expedient “answer” of the entire people to the government. Lastly, it is precisely such activity [the realization and the distribution of a common newspaper] that would train all revolutionary organisations throughout Russia to maintain the most continuous, and at the same time the most secret, contacts with one another, thus creating real Party unity; for without such contacts it will be impossible collectively to discuss’ the plan for the uprising and to take the necessary preparatory measures on the eve, measures that must be kept in the strictest secrecy.
In a word, the “plan for an all-Russia political newspaper”, far from representing the fruits of the labour of armchair workers, infected with dogmatism and bookishness (as it seemed to those who gave but little thought to it), is the most practical plan for immediate and all-round preparation of the uprising, with, at the same time, no loss of sight for a moment of the pressing day-to-day work"
(Lenin, What is To Be Done?, The “Plan” For an All-Russia Political Newspaper [15]).

April 27th, 2019

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Notes:

[7. We leave aside the ICC, which has become a sect, with no hope of return now, and which has largely marginalized itself, or even put itself offside, of the proletarian camp because of its opportunist positions – decomposition –, the denial of its political principles – for example, the abandonment of the historical alternative war or revolution – and its sectarian and destructive orientations – destroying the other components of the proletarian camp, starting with the TCI (see Shameful Resolution of the ICC and The Hidden Resolution of the ICC : http://fractioncommuniste.org/eng/bci06/bci06_3.php and http://fractioncommuniste.org/eng/bci07/bci07_8.php).

[9. This approach and vision of the priorities of the moment is not specific to the ICT or its British group, the CWO. Others tend to share them, such as sometimes Nuevo Curso – although not always in the same terms – or other new and young forces spontaneously tending to set their political horizon in the short term and in the immediate future.

[10. Immediatism in the workers’ ranks, and especially among the petty-bourgeois today presents other risks for the proletarians and combative elements known as radicals: the idealization of leftist radicalism and adventurism and the apology, in one form or another, of minority violence such as the black bloc or even terrorist violence.

[12. It was also a trend that wreaked havoc within the ICC on several occasions, particularly in the 1990s in the name of the party spirit and discipline. This petty-bourgeois understanding of the party spirit and discipline, which could very quickly transform into a petty chief attitude, which had more to do precisely with the Zinovievism of the 1920s of the ’Bolshevization’, than with the communist spirit and discipline, was one of the vectors of the opportunist gangrene that seized this organization in the 1990s and freed itself in the 2000s.

[14. We know that this is the case for all Communist Left groups such as the ICC or the ICT which have themselves identified it on different occasions (see the General Assembly of Battaglia Comunista late 2015 : http://igcl.org/General-Assembly-of-the-PCInt).