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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Letter to Emancipación on its 1st Congress - July 10th 2019

July 10th 2019

The IGCL to Emancipación,

Dear comrades,

In this letter, we would like to share with you the political balance-sheet we draw of the 1st Congress of Emancipación. This balance-sheet is based on the two documents you have published, Informe del congreso [1] [Report of the Congress] and Consignas [slogans], on the Nuevo Curso website, and on the letter that the Congress wrote to us (which we dated 24 June) in response to our previous letter of 18 June. (…).

The constitution of Emancipación as a full communist political group is an important step whose political and historical significance goes far beyond the mere appearance of a new communist group. We have entered a period of massive confrontation between the classes due to the crisis and the prospect of generalized imperialist war, which the former is exacerbating every time more. The contradictions of capitalism are exploding one after the other, causing upheavals of all kinds at all levels of capitalist society. The revolutionary forces and more especially the international proletarian camp, the party in the making, are also not immune to it to the point of encountering great difficulties and seeing its contradictions and weaknesses also explode and to live a moment of profound reconfiguration precisely because of this new situation.

Therefore, the constitution of Emancipación as a full political group expresses the fact that the international proletariat, although generally submitted to bourgeois ideology and far from being able to repel the attacks of any kind imposed by capital, tends to resist through the struggle and to free itself from the ideological grip of the latter and that its revolutionary future remains relevant. It also expresses the dynamics and the struggle for the party within the forces of the proletarian camp, the fight that passes through confronting opportunism within its ranks – the most caricatured expression of which is still the ICC and its theory of decomposition and parasitism – and the interpellation of the other forces of the Communist Left so that they assume the responsibilities that history has given them – we think in particular here of the ICT despite its weaknesses and shortcomings (but also, modestly because of our reality, of ourselves). In this sense, the 1st Congress of Emancipación is an important event in the class struggle that should be welcomed and that will have to be developed and confirmed in the future. Because the particularity of communist activity is precisely that each new step successfully completed multiplies the responsibilities and tasks to come.

The Congress is all the more important as it appears that the constitution as a political group is accompanied by a taking of consciousness and a practical orientation so that Emancipación be a truly international communist group and not a ’Spanish’ or ’regional’ ones, nor limited to the Hispanic or Latin-speaking milieu alone, which was still partly present at the 1st conference in Nuevo Curso. This step, as you know, is fundamental for us:

"For us, we consider that any communist group must immediately consider itself as an expression of the international proletariat wherever and whenever it can intervene directly and physically, with obviously a particular responsibility in these places. That is why we believe that any communist group must ’tend’ – it is not an ’absolute’ that can be decreed but a process of political homogeneity and unity around the communist program – to constitute itself and act as a centralized international group" (IGCL letter to the Liga Emancipación, August 2018).

It is therefore with enthusiasm and great hope that we have taken note of the work of the Congress and greet it. It is therefore also in the context of this fraternal and positive greeting that the following elements of criticism must be read, discussed and taken into consideration. We hope that these discussion points will be as useful to you as they are to us.

1) But first a ’critical’ question: the documents we have read do not mention the particular adoption of a political platform. Does the platform remain the platform of the Liga Emancipación’s Fundamental Bases? If this is the case, then our comments at that time remain valid:

"As such, the Bases leave a wide political and even ’programmatic’ space in which different, distinct, divergent, and even contradictory political approaches can emerge, develop and ’coexist’ until the reality of class struggle come to require their clarification and make a decision between them. As a result, the Bases can only be a moment, probably necessary, but temporary, for the development of a ’communist organization’ to use your words" (idem, we underline).

If this is not the case, the new platform should be published as soon as possible.

2) The Report of the Congress, which recounts the situation of capitalism today, makes no mention of the historical alternative of international proletarian revolution or generalized imperialist war. Therefore, it reduces its vision of the situation and makes it difficult to understand how Emancipación sees the current historical dynamics. Indeed, the historical alternative, and in particular the march to generalized war to which all national capitalist classes are forced, directly determines the evolution of the relation of forces between the classes. In this sense, the permanent relation of the proletariat to the perspective of war is also an element of the historical situation that makes it possible to analyse this relation of forces. The historical alternative is thus a ’concrete’ factor of the immediate situation by already determining today the imperialist policies and the attacks of the ruling class, their characteristics and intensity, against the proletariat. The absence of any mention to this alternative as well as any to the question of the proletariat’s relation to the generalized imperialist war, is a weakness of the Congress according to us, at least of the document it adopted, while many of Nuevo Curso’s public statements on its blog had been much more precise and complete from this point of view. It is difficult to know today whether there is a real disagreement between us. We will most certainly verify it in the future.

3) But above all, a significant divergence is there on the claim of the historical continuity. We knew that Nuevo Curso tended to claim the only Spanish Communist Left and more particularly the FOR of Munis. The Congress adopted the following: "Our tendency is born as the International Communist Left, driven by the opposition of the Russian Left against the degeneration of the International. It constituted external fractions of the left (...). It founded the 4th International in 1938 when the path to a new world war was opened by the capitulation of the International without struggle against Nazism in 1933 and especially after the defeat of the Spanish Revolution in 1937…’ (https://nuevocurso.org/nuestra-tendencia). It is always more ’difficult’ to debate a position already adopted by the Congress and which, in fact, is more committing than before its adoption. We have probably failed to be vigilant with regard to our warning of August 2018, which we pointed out above, that the political definition of Emancipación was, in fact, still in progress, under process. We should have discussed this issue with you more directly before the Congress adopted this position, prematurely in our view. Whether or not we would have been able to convince you then, in any case it would have helped you to clarify your final position and its arguments and could you have taken a more coherent position than this one, which already contains and displays significant contradictions. For example, the letter sent to us by the Congress confuses the Communist Left with the Fourth International, even though the former has constantly criticized Trotsky’s approach calling for the constitution of the Fourth in 1933: "We are not the heirs of this particular tendency of the International Communist Left, but of the work of the Communist Left as a whole and particularly of its main core, which actively fought to oppose the revolution to the war already since the Spanish revolution (1936-1937) and which, through this defeat, created against the current a new International, the 4th..." (letter from the Congress of Emancipación to the IGCL, received on June 24, we underline).

We will not enter here into the assertion according to which – if we understand the sentence correctly – the 4th International, founded in 1938, would have been the main core of the Communist Left even if it strongly surprises us from comrades who have already manifested so many times that they knew the history of the workers movement. Very surprising for us, however, is the affirmation of continuity with the 4th International and its belonging to the Communist Left. As much as it seems to us completely legitimate to claim Munis and Peret, of the FOR, who clearly located themselves on the positions of the Communist Left in 1948 after their rupture with the 4th International as the Pro-Segundo Manifiesto Comunista which they wrote and adopted, proves it without contest. As much as claiming the 4th International while it was founded on an openly opportunistic basis (after having practised the politics... of entryism into the Socialist Parties from 1934 onwards!) seems to us a profound and serious error, full of contradictions and negative consequences.

But above all, we want to call the attention of the comrades to the programmatic, theoretical and political dead end in which the claim of continuity with the 4th International is embarking Emancipación. It is possible that this dead end will not have immediate political consequences; albeit for a short time and apparently only. But there is little doubt that the contradiction, and confusion, between the class positions that Nuevo Curso defends with rigour and constancy, and brilliance too, on its blog on the one hand, and the programmatic heritage of the 4th International, will one day explode one way or another – the worst being that it explodes at a crucial moment, or even that the comrades get lost in the most total theoretical and political confusion, thus destroying all the efforts that NC has successfully made in recent years to encourage the emergence of new forces and to animate their international grouping.

The 4th International claimed the first four congresses of the Communist International. All the currents of the Communist Left claimed, more or less clearly, the first two congresses of the CI and all fought against the turning point achieved by the third: the adoption of the united front tactic ’with the workers parties’, i.e. with the social democracy that had passed into the bourgeoisie’s camp. There is no need here, and for the time being, to go back over the dramatic consequences of this tactic, which was only the first expression of the reflux of the revolutionary wave on the one hand and the penetration of opportunism into the ranks of the International. Nevertheless, to our knowledge, all the positions that NC and Emancipación have defended to date reject any form of frontism. And in general, NC’s positions are on the ground of the Communist Left and in opposition, even in contradiction, to the programmatic and theoretical framework of the 4th international, both from its formal constitution, 1938, and from Trotsky’s 1933 theses calling for its constitution.

It would be as dangerous to believe that we could neglect the close relation, in fact the unity, that must exist between the political positions that we put forward and the programmatic and theoretical framework to which we refer. If there is a contradiction between the two, it cannot fail to explode at one time or another, in one form or another. We therefore propose you that we hold a contradictory debate on this issue. In addition to clarifying the divergence, resolving it or fixing it ’forever’, this debate could also then be public so that it could serve as a political reference. We are convinced that this divergence and debate are not abstract or simply historical issues. The divergence not only contains immediate political implications (in the intervention and the question of demands [’consignas’] for example) but also corresponds to concrete questions and problems that today’s workers’ struggles already face.

As a result, we are not relaunching here the debate and divergence we had before your congress on the place and role of the ICT as an ’historical’ pole of reference-grouping – despite its weaknesses and hesitations, not to say its misunderstanding, to assume this role. Indeed, the understanding and position on this issue is closely dependent, and even determined, by the historical filiation to which each current or group is attached. If we claim the 4th International, it is difficult to accept, and even more so to understand, that one of the fundamental reasons why the ICT would occupy ’objectively’ such a place and would have such a role is precisely its historical, organic link – however weak it may be nowadays – with the CP and the Communist Left of Italy.

This, dear comrades, is the balance-sheet we have drawn from your congress and which we wanted to present to you. The transition to a full political group is extremely positive in itself and, at the same time, raises new questions and responsibilities. And it directly confronts us with the gaps and contradictions that we can all suffer. These appeared at the congress, including in the list and content of the slogans and immediate positions – such as the "immediate reduction of the working day [actually week] to 30 hours" and to which we will return occasionally – that appear in your presentation of the Congress. However, we cannot fail to believe that there is a close link between these slogans and some of the specific orientations adopted by the Congress on the one hand and, on the other hand, the 4th International’s claim and its famous Transitional Programme – what is your position on it? Did you discuss it before or during the Congress? This is why your claim of continuity with the 4th must be debated – and in our opinion fought – to allow Emancipación and its members to clarify this question and their position as best we can in order to be able to participate actively and effectively in the historical task that the proletariat has entrusted to them.

Fraternal greetings, the International Group of the Communist Left.

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