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 the GCCF on its New "Points of Unity"

July 20th 2019

The IGCL to the Gulf Coast Communist Fraction,

Dear comrades,

The GCCF has just published a new platform that you call “points of unity”. This shows that your new and young organization is a place for debates, discussions and also political confrontations. We strongly support and encourage that kind of political attitude because it is mostly through political confrontations that the new generation of militants will be able to reclaim the communist program. That is to say we do not have to avoid those confrontation, but rather to polarize them so that in the party in the making we will be able to separate clearly revolutionary positions from opportunism. This new platform is a major step towards reclaiming the left communist tradition if you compare it to the first platform that you published at the group’s formation. It particularly attempts to take back the historical method to base the positions, which was lacking in the first one. On that fact alone, the new platform must be greeted. But we also have much questions and critical comments to address you through what is only a fraternal contribution to improve the debate.

Your point #12 on democracy is quite a surprising position considering that the abstention from bourgeois democracy is share by almost all, if not all, left communist groups. You seem to claim the old “revolutionary parliamentarianism” position of the 3rd International. The problem with that position is that its aim, like you said : “the sham to expose of bourgeois democracy”, is not really realistic with that tactic. The participation of communists to bourgeois democracy tends to give credibility to the democratic institution, thus producing the exact opposite wanted effect. Of course, communist abstentionnism is different from anarchism. Anarchists are against parliamentarianism because there are apolitical, i.e they are against the principle of the dictatorship of the proletariat. We are against parliamentarianism because we think that the new revolutionary power, i.e the dictatorship of the proletariat, must be established outside and against the parliament. Thus, there is no tactical efficiency to participate in bourgeois democracy since the revolution must destroy it. There is a really interesting booklet made by the ICP [so-called ’Bordiguist’] which retraces the debate within the 3rd International during the 2nd Congress between “revolutionary parliamentarianism partisans” and “abtentionnism partisans”, but unfortunately it seems to be only in French. [1] There is also an English translation of the thesis that the Communist Abstentionnist Fraction defended at the 2nd Congress. Those thesis are still to this day a document that we must refer to on the question of elections. [2]

The process that you describe in point #13 as : “the struggle for immediate economic demands must be unified with the struggle for political power in a period when the productive forces are in acute contradiction with the social relations” is the one of the mass strike. It has really well been explained by Rosa Luxemburg in The Mass Strike, the Political Party and the Trade Unions [3] which a really important text to grasp the very dynamic of class struggle.

Still in point #13, you are right to characterize unions as “wholly integrated to the capitalist state”. But you make a formal distinction between what we would call “honest rank and file militants” and “union bureaucrats”. For sure there is some material and empirical basis for that distinction. But in the real struggles, things are not that simple nor mechanical. The problem with that distinction is that it makes a complete abstraction of the real needs and necessities of the actual struggles. The first necessity of every class struggle is unity and extension on a geographical basis. What do we do if, for instance, union bureaucrats are forced, for a period of time, to be for unity and extension? It would make no sense to outrightly denounce them at that very moment. In other words, the role of communist into immediate economic struggles is to strive for political unity and extension of the struggle, which is done most of the time against unions, of course. The real class boundaries into struggles are not between honest militant and dishonest bureaucrats. Honest rank and file workers can have shitty politics too. The real boundaries are between the ones that struggle for unity and extension and the ones that want to keep the struggle into capitalist limits (legality, corporatism, austerity, national interest and even sacred union towards war).

In point #15, you are right to oppose all those guerilla tactics because they are not at all in the communist tradition, but rather a third-worldist petit-bourgeois practice. But we think it would be a mistake to oppose the militarization of political struggle in general. There is a military aspect to class struggle, whether you like it or not, for the simple reason that we must oppose to the bourgeois violence the proletarian violence. If you are against militarization in general, does it mean that you think that the Bolsheviks were wrong to establish the red army? We think it was a necessity for the revolution. Of course we can discuss how that army could be built, discipline, the relation of the army with the State, etc. but the principle of the red army in itself is a programmatic element. How it is written now, there is room to accommodate pacifism.

But it is the point #6 that we want to underline because it is a key and central question for communists. You affirm that “a world communist party is a necessary body in order for the proletariat to seize political power”. This formula is not clear enough nor does it say everything that it should. It leaves room and space for different understandings and positions. For instance, how should the proletariat seize the power? Through election and bourgeois democracy? Certainly not! That point would have been a great place to introduce the principle of the dictatorship of the proletariat, which is of prime importance. In the same vein, nothing is said about the insurrection, worker’s councils and the avant-garde role of the communist party within these organs. Also, where does the communist party come from? Is it a circle of intellectuals that must introduce socialism in the class or is it the part of the class that elevated itself to the communist program thus leads the rest of the class towards the revolution?

In relation to this question, we note that you use the word "supersession of capitalism" instead of "destruction of..." - except in point 4 where you talk about the "destruction of the capitalist state". The use of ’supersession’, instead of ’destruction’, again can leave a large space for varied political understandings and positions until ’opening the door’, instead of closing it as a platform should, to several types of opportunist and even bourgeois, ’radical’ or leftist visions, on the proletariat’s relationship to the capitalist state and its own class dictatorship. The precise drafting and formulation are not some kind of fussyness, formalism or an useless question but rather an issue of the political and theoretical struggle within the communist camp, particularly on the question of the conditions for the exercise of its political power by the proletariat. We refer to the struggle that the ’Italian left’ waged within the degenerating Communist International when it adopted the slogan ’workers government’ instead of ’dictatorship of the proletariat’ (cf. the Theses of Rome, for example, 1926).

As we have already pointed out, these new GCCF Unity Points represent a step forward in the process of communist political clarification. But, because of their lack of precision, the Points leave a large ’space’ for the different, divergent and sometimes even contradictory positions and understandings within the revolutionary camp; and above all, they also leave the door open – when on the contrary, they should close it – to leftist bourgeois visions and positions. We have no doubt that these differences cross the GCCF itself, consciously or unconsciously, thereby reducing its real political unity as a full political group. This observation confirms that, in our opinion, the GCCF is still in a phase of political clarification and definition rather than an already ’established’ communist group, even if it is not a question of making an absolute separation between the two phases. As we have already told you, a ’discussion circle’ can, and even must, intervene in the class struggle if necessary. Nevertheless, if it wants to be able to establish its political action and presence in the long term and if its members want to acquire the political and theoretical consciousness and conviction necessary for serious militant commitment, it needs a minimum of political homogeneity on basic positions. Thus, we believe that the conclusions of our letter of last October are still valid. "We all are conscious that these positions are only a necessary moment, or step, in the process between political break with bourgeois leftist positions and ideology and the political clarification of the Communist Left positions. This inescapable process can only develop through (...) discussion and confrontation with the positions of the Communist Left (you refer to) in a systematic way; especially its main programmatic documents that the different currents of the Communist Left have produced [such as] the platforms that its organizational expressions of today have adopted. It is a practical and concrete way, because it is a militant one, to clarify and state on basic positions" (our letter of October 24th 2018 [4]).

That is why we reiterate to you the proposal to open a systematic discussion, in which we are of course ready to participate, on the main political platforms of the Communist Left: those of the ICT and the ICC of origin. Any other proposal for discussion of Left programmatic documents will also be welcome. As an example, you can refer to the method used by the sympathizer Stavros of the Left as a whole then, now a member of our group, in Revolution or War #2 [5]

Fraternally, the IGCL.