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Our comrade Jonas, our friend Jacky, has left us

February 24th, Jacky has left us. Jonas was his public militant name, Isaac Mamane was his civil name. He was suffering an auto-immune disease since almost 20 years with diverse and varied painful consequences. It has been an increasing ordeal during which he received the heaviest medications without his physical state could stopping to deteriorate over time. Since two years now, he was paralysed, he almost could not read – except with exhausting effort – and he spoke with much difficulty. Even so, his consciousness was still sharp and his mind remained still powerful that they saddened and reassured at the same time : he was conscious of the inescapable decline of his physical state and continued to participate to the activities of our group, which kept alive amongst us a hope that, deep in our hearts, we knew it was in vain.

Because, despite his sufferings and tiredness, he continued to be a militant. Thursday 22nd, without knowing that it was the last time – was he suspecting it? –, we succeeded to speak on the phone. Though very weakened, he quickly answered on his health and, as usual, tackled rapidly the political questions without dwelling on his sufferings. Very often, we had to insist that he give news about his health. During our last encounter in June 2017 – he had moved from Paris in 2010 and lived in Avignon –, he expressed his extreme weariness for the first time. Only the love and support of his constant companion, Montsé, full of courage and devotion, who passed on him her joy of living provoking the tender smiles and looks he directed to her, his son Willy and his companion Isabelle on one part and his unwavering political conviction in the revolutionary capacities of the proletariat on the other, kept him continuing to fight back and cling to life.

Jacky, Révolution Internationale and the May 1968 mass strike

Born April 17th 1947, Jacky came to study in Toulouse, France, where the May 1968 events found him to invite him to choose the path that he followed all his life. A few weeks sooner, with other friends, amongst them Michel Po, he had met Raoul (RV) and set up a political circle under his influence. RV, member of the group Internacionalismo in Venezuela that had been formed around Marc Chirik, had also come to France for his university studies and, since his arrival, had succeeded to gather around him several young militants. The active intervention of this group in May-June 1968, in the students assemblies as well as in the working class assemblies, in particular in Sud-Aviation, the predecessor of the European Airbus, gave it a “massive” political aura and influence all peculiar in Toulouse that enabled the gathering of still more new students’ and workers’ energies and to the funding of Révolution Internationale (RI) on the political positions of the international Communist Left.

As many of these militants, Jacky was marked for ever by the mass strike of May-June 1968 in France. Yet, as some others, he suffered the aftermath that made him withdraw from the group for around two years. After a while, with his dentistry degree and with Montse, he joined his parents in Montréal-Canada where they had moved. The experience was short, two months, and he came back to France in 1974. He re-entered almost immediately to RI in Toulouse. The International Communist Current be constituted, he moved to Paris. He was soon nominated to the central organ of the ICC section in France and, as such, was its main delegate to the redaction committee of the monthly newspaper Révolution Internationale until the middle of the years 1990s. As such, and even though it was of course a collective work, he is one of the main political leaders and producers of almost 250 issues of the monthly RI. During all these years, he was also the one responsible for the finances of the section in France that, being the most important territorial section and thus the one that received the biggest members’ monthly dues, financed in great part the whole ICC. As such, he worked closely and in the greatest confidence with Marc Chirik who was in charge of the ICC International Bureau’s finance policy. Even though until the 2001 internal crisis Jacky was not a well-known member outside the ICC – as RV was for instance –, he played an important role, and even sometimes a determining one, in the life of this organization.

Jacky, the ICC and the struggle “against councilism”

During the 1980s, he was one of the leading members of the political struggle within the ICC to get out of the remnants of councilist approaches and positions that the post-68 atmosphere and the particular weight of the student ideology of that time maintained in this organization. In this struggle, the most convinced militants of this orientation were led to read Lenin again with glasses free of the “councilist”, or still “economist”, filters they had until then and to claim his fight. Doing so, they were brought to re-appropriate in a much more complete manner the experience of the Communist Left of Italy. Unfortunately, the ICC as a whole did not go that far. It is certainly one of the political and theoretical specificities of our group, the IGCL. It is today the only political force claiming, including in a critical manner when necessary, the experience of massive militant intervention of the ICC in the working class struggles of the 1970s and 1980s as well as the political and theoretical fight which it led at that time against “councilism”. We have the pretention to believe that the forgetting and the disappearance of this experience, without denying the existence of others, would handicap seriously the capacity of intervention of the revolutionaries and their regroupment in the indispensable vanguard party to guide the proletariat’s political fights. We can summarize quickly here, and for sure incompletely, this experience of which Jonas was one of its more constant defender and actor since the 1980s by :

- the rejection of any fetishism of the “’self-organization of the workers in struggle”;

- the emphasis on the permanent political character of the class struggle, including during the smallest struggles or strikes, because of the inescapable confrontation under one form or another against the capitalist state’s forces, in particular the ones in the working class milieu like the unions, the Left parties and the leftists;

- the primary and indispensable role of the internationalist communist groups, and tomorrow of the party, in these fights, including the smallest ones of the present days, because they are the highest expressions of class consciousness and because they bear the Communist Program and, as such, they are the most conscious of the enemy class’s forces and the most capable for thwarting its manoeuvres and traps;

- the recognition of a line of fracture within the proletarian and revolutionary camps that separates the “partidists” who work for the regroupment and the formation of the internationalist communist party and the others, “councilists” or tending to this one, who oppose this formation – or slow down its process;

- finally, the claiming of the whole experience and theoretical, political and organisational tradition of the Communist Left of Italy and, in particular, the theses of Roma (1922) and of Lyon (1926) as well as the constitution of the Internationalist Communist Party in Italy in 1945.

Jacky’s experience within the ICC in the 1980s and his participation to the Internal Fraction of the ICC were essential for the conformation of our group and the definition of its main political orientation today towards the Proletarian Camp and, more particularly, towards its main present organisation, the Internationalist Communist Tendency (www.leftcom.org).

Jacky, the 1995 internal crisis of the ICC and his greatest political regret

Later, Jacky played an important role during the 1995 organisational crisis that left him a bitter taste. He was nominated to the delegations in charge of getting to the bottom of the organisational difficulties of that time and, in particular, the supposed clannish behaviour of comrades. The sadness linked to the political ruptures with those who left the organisation on that occasion, amongst them comrade RV, was added to the malaise due to the conditions in which the rupture occurred. In particular, as so many, he felt bad having participated making the political break based on personal questions and accusations and not on expressed and confronted political disagreements. Above all, he felt a profound doubt – that he refused to display – that he told us about sometimes later (before the 2001 crisis), that he may have been wrong, or at least that he had adopted a too unilateral attitude in the name of the “defence of the organisation”. Still worse for him, he quickly had the impression that he had been manipulated… by the very ones who will end up denouncing him publicly as a cop (!) during the following crisis in 2001-2002. In brief, he was quite self-critical on this episode and we – the former members of the ICC within our group – agreed with him to acknowledge the extremely serious political mistake we all committed then by accepting the psychological, and not political, ground of clannism to “resolve” this organisational crisis.

After this, the theory of decomposition began to be imposed within the ICC as the only and unique framework to understand not only the international situation but also the organisational and militant questions through the theory of the clans. Doing so, the political debates and disagreements were reduced to personal enmities and to psychological features of the ones and the others which inevitably meant the liquidation of the internal political debates and confrontations that are the life blood of any proletarian political body.

After the dismissal of two of the ICC International Secretariat members, amongst them RV, Jacky and the comrade Olivier (Michel Roger) integrated into the IS. During these years and until the subsequent crisis in 2001, we can summarize the ICC history as a permanent opposition, but deaf and not politically assumed, between the pro-decomposition tendency, ultra-minority, which constantly refused to present openly its real thoughts, but consciously infiltrating the “key posts”, and the resistance to it. This fight went particularly through the IS. In fact, all along these few years, it was (while officially supported unanimously by the entire organisation and particularly by the International Bureau of whcih it was only the secretariat) handicapped by the theory of clans that the whole ICC had adopted and it became hostage of the manipulations and the personal problems that then multiplied. It did not succeed in getting rid of them [1], which exhausted its members until the May 2001 congress.

Jacky, the 2001 internal crisis, the Internal Fraction of the ICC and the IGCL

In the preceding months to the 2001 congress, only Jacky perceived and could understand the hidden “apparatus” manoeuvres and the personal manipulations that prepared the 2001 crisis and the elimination of the “1968 old guard” in all their political scope and meaning – even though he acknowledged he had understood them late too. Alone he was conscious of the reality of the relation of forces that would prevail because of the political weakening of the ICC as a whole and of most part of its members. He alone was drawing the only possible option : to reject the framework of clanism and the new non proletarian, absolute, blind and not verifiable “discipline” imposed in the name of the “defence of the organisation”. In short, only – apart the small “liquidationist” nucleus who was mainly operating in the shadows – he was conscious that the confrontation and the crisis could not be prevented and that it mattered thus to take the initiative before it was too late. He did not succeed in convincing the rest of the IS, nor the Paris section, nor the comrades he met at that time. All the more so since it was at that moment that the first painful symptoms of his illness appeared. Feeling powerlessness and isolated, he preferred to withdraw and resign before the congress, the only way he found to display his opposition to what was unfolding. As he had anticipated in the preceding weeks, the crisis exploded at the 14th congress of the ICC of May 2001 and five members of the IS, to their great surprise and disarray, were then accused of having formed a clan against the 6th member, FM/CG/Peter who began to be presented seriously, no kidding, with no shame, as the greatest Marxist of the 20th Century (!) by his closest accomplices. That – to “safeguard the organisation’s unity” while its real unity, that is its political unity, was exploding – the great majority of the members of the ICC, after some months of violent crisis, including physical, ended up accepting the idea, and even the official political position, according to which the supposed hatred of the five against the sixth was due to the jealousy they felt because “Marc Chirik’s (the historical militant of the ICC who died ten years before) particular affection to this one” says a lot about the degree of political weakening of this organisation and of its members at that time and… about their loss of any sense of the ridiculous.

The next day of this congress, which was a genuine putsch by a small coterie, an opposition emerged all along the summer within the ICC against the new policy. Its clearest expression and most accessible for the reader who would be today interested – even only to verify our stance – is the History of the IS of the ICC (in French). Jacky recovered hope and contact with the comrades in opposition [2]. He joined the Internal Fraction of the ICC (five members in France and four in Mexico) after the final exclusion of its members (March 2002), that they had formed after the ban to publish in the internal bulletins of the organisation until “they had not made the criticism of their clannish behaviours, their blackmailing, thiefs, and nazis methods”, etc., etc. Finally they were publicly denounced, as was Jacky-Jonas shortly before, as cops and “agents provocateurs”.

Since then, Jacky’s political activity identifies with the IFICC, later the Fraction of the International Communist Left [3], and since 2013 with our group, the IGCL. He was particularly active in the process of political clarification with the comrades from Canada, the Internationalist Communists – Klasbatalo precisely in the debate on the question of regroupment and on the central role of the ICT today [4] that constitutes one of our main political orientation. He was still very active until 2016 even though his health did not stop declining and imposing increasing painful efforts. Later, his effective participation was reduced since, to his despair and to ours’, he could read less and less and would get tired more and more rapidly.

Jacky, the comrade and the friend

As communist militant, Jacky was deeply internationalist and his feelings of revolt in front of the capitalist injustices and misery never ceased to be great and sharp. Over the years and the decades, no cynicism, nor hypocrisy, nor disenchantment had damaged his communist conviction. Above all, he had an absolute political confidence in the revolutionary character of the proletariat. In the questions and debates within the Proletarian Camp and within the groups of which he was a member of, he had the capacity and the quality to perceive the points of disagreements, of political rupture, often before they openly break out. As well, in the international situation and the working class struggles, he was seeing quickly where was the key point of confrontation between the classes, the one to which it mattered to respond and to which it mattered to engage the fight. In the organisation’s or the working class’ struggles, he was rarely mistaken according to us. And when it happened, the sharpness of his position that left little space to half-measure and the seriousness of its foundation, compelled his opponents to political reflection and clarification. It was always fruitful for the collective body. Doing so, he tended to focus more on what it mattered to debate and fight with no fear of putting at risk the formal organisational unity of the moment and at the risk of upsetting the comrades and their susceptibility. It could happen that this was out of time, in an instant precisely when it was better to “unite the agreements” than “polarize the disagreements”. He could later accept the criticism… under the condition of convincing him. He had the permanent concern, in coherence with his vision of the political confrontation and debate, to ensure that the friendly and affective relations do not interfere with the political relations, whether there is agreement or disagreement.

Once one knew him, the roughness of his arguments did not succeed very long to hide his sensibility and his empathy towards the comrades as well as the friends he could make. And even though he was affected by a great modesty and reserve that serves as a protection, he may have believed, but which handicapped him to express his feelings or make contact again, he kept until the last days his friendship and his affection for many comrades whose political path separated us, even opposed us. Regularly, he asked for news of the ones or the others.

We don’t pretend to know the “whole Jacky”. No doubt his companion Montse and his son for whom he still recently expressed to us his love and his concern, know all about Jacky as companion and father. No doubt that the comrades of Toulouse who set up with him in their youth Révolution Internationale have “their” Jacky. No doubt too that the various other comrades, in particular the ones who participated for years in the Redaction Committee of RI – he enjoyed working collectively for the monthly journal all these years – have their own memories. Certainly all would have other things to add to this tribute.

We are all going to miss you, Jacky. We already miss you. You’re joining the long list of anonymous, exactly what you wanted to be, militants of the proletariat. Only the ignominy of a small nucleus within the ICC, who attempted to destroy your militant communist integrity for their poor faction venture using stalinist methods, have made your pseudo Jonas the stake of a political battle – that we won together by ensuring your honour of communist militant within the whole Proletarian Camp – have made it momentarily known publicly. You too, you added your stone to the path towards the proletarian revolution and Communism. Touched and proud for having known you, are we. Touched and proud for having fought by your side, are we too. Only are we possessed by sadness, a profound sadness, for having lost you.

We have an affectionate thought for his companion Montsé, his son Willy and daughter-in-law Isabelle. We express our full support and friendship. They can be proud of Jacky as we are ourselves.

Juan for the IGCL.

PS. This tribute could not be limited to what the IGCL as such knew about comrade Jonas and shared with him, if only because the essential of his political fight had been in the organisational framework of the ICC. Thus, it has a double character, personal (by the experience and the common engagement he shared with the comrade Juan within the ICC and, more particularly since 2001) and political that our group makes its own.

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Notes:

[1. For the reader who wants to read more about it, he can refer to the History of the IS (only in French) realized on behalf of the former IS before May 2001, then published by the Internal Fraction of the ICC and that our group continues to make available.

[2. Their number, largely majority at the beginning within the ICC, declined rapidly during the summer. The isolated territorial sections and nucleus were really blackmailed (if they did not accept the new policy, they were threatened to be dissolved), many comrades dismissed (particularly in Paris), others “capitulated” by recognizing their “clannish tendencies” during endless particular interviews to which every one was ordered to attend by an “investigation commission” that they did not have the political strength and conviction to reject the political legitimacy and its manipulative, non political, and stalinist methods. As Jacky had understood it first, the new organisational discipline imposed to and at the congress had to be rejected in the name of the very principles and statutes of the ICC. Few succeeded to do so.

[3. One can refer to the English web pages (http://fractioncommuniste.org/index_eng.php) of these two fractions and their work through the whole 60 bulletins produced from 2001 to 2013. Unfortunately, part of the issues and articles could not be translated to English. The whole production is available on the French and Spanish pages (http://fractioncommuniste.org).