Revolution or War n° 2

(September 2014)

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Critical Review of a Contribution to a Balance-sheet of the International Communist Left (CIK)

Siince the constitution of the IGCL, a number of comrades question us on the fact we have set up a new group in stead of asking for integrating the ICT since our main orientation towards the Proletarian Camp is to push for and favour the regroupment around this one. For many, this appear to be contradictory. We have already responded in the first issue of this review through a Correspondence [1] that the conditions for a possible integration to the ICT were not gathered today; and that, according to us, the « regroupment » does not limit itself to the only adhesion to a particular group, evev if it is the main one, even if this one be in capacity to represent the international pole of « reference » and around which we must regroup and center on the historical fight for the Party. It looks important to come back on this issue through the publication of the following text. It was writtent in 2012 by the former Internationalist Communists -Klasbatalo as a conclusion of the contradictory debate between them and the Fraction of the International Communist Left (ex-IFICC).

The review Controvers – set up in 2009 by comrades who had left the ICC with not any public explanation – had declared the bankruptcy of the Communist Left existing groups (It’s midnight in the Communist Left. ) It has been joined, amongst others, by the comrades resigning from the ICT (of Battaglia Comunista) in Italy and at the origin of the Istituto Damen. Calling for "to detach oneself from the formal organizations", i.e. abandoning the ICT, the ICC and the bordiguist groups, Controversies positionned itself clearly in the anti-organization tendency, the one we define as ’councilist’, in the side of Internationalist Perspectives, of the Italian circle Connessioni, and other groups, circles, or individuals more or less claiming the Communist Left, above all the German and Dutch one. Even worst, by its initial dynamism – today faded – Controversies had taken the leadership of this milieu and seemed to offer an alternative to the real and various difficulties of the communist groups whose disappearance was even to wish, according to this review, in order to sweep away the past.

This offensive, within the very Proletarian Camp itself, against the communist organizations as main highest and most consistent expressions – even though not unique – of class consciousness, has participated to weaken the lattestand and even to sow confusion amongst the militants, often young and new ones, who were looking for a path in the Communist Left tradition. So has been the case for the Internationalist Communists – Klasbatalao (see only in French : Contribution à un état des lieux de la Gauche communiste. [2] ).

Engaged in a process of organizational regroupment, the IC-K and the FICL then decided to suspend this process and to engage a debate aiming at clarifying the disagreements and to develop the reflection on this central question for the orientation of a communist group’s intervention. The text of the IC-K we publish here, ends this debate with an agreement and it defines the political orientation of the IGCL – it was adopted as an Orientation Text by the November 2013 Conference of constitution.

With the response to a comrade mentioned above that we provided in our first issue, this text must enable the readers, if not sharing our position, at least to understand the political meaning of this fundamental orientation.

More over, new factor, the present and last internal organizational crisis of the ICC won’t miss, whatever one may think, having repercussions within the Proletarian Camp as a whole, directly or undirectly. Whether these repercussions be positive or negative for the whole camp (in particular at the level of political credit or discredit of the Communist Left groups) don’t depend on the outcome of the crisis within this organization itself. Its internal outcome is already predictable (opportunism ruling the ’apparatus’, the ’oponents-accused’ having remained on the psychological and non-political ground, have already been forced to admit they were guided by clanish and ’progromist’ (!) instincts: the image of sect and stalinist caricature which will result from this nth crisis of the ICC, will soil the image of the Communist Left as a whole. Only small hope from the very inside of this organization in the grip of the destruction of its militants’ convictions : that some may succeed to refuse the framework of clanism, of individualism, of psychological self-criticism, which is imposed on them for ’resolving the crisis’ and may return on the political ground of the Communist Left. But let to themselves, alone and isolated, if these militants, even only one, emerge, they won’t be able to politically and, no doubt, personally resist. It matters they can find active support from the Proletarian Camp as a whole, and above all from the forces which set resolutely in the ’partidist’ camp. Here is the sense of our Call. [3] to the sincere members of the ICC and to the Communist Left organizations, in the first place to the main one, the Internationalist Communist Tendency.

The following text thus provides the framework of comprehension of our intervention in the Proletarian Camp: regroupement around and with the organized forces, mainly the ICT, which turn towards and struggle for the constitution of the political party of the proletariat as organ of the political leadership of the proletariat’s revolutionary fight against capital; struggle against opportunism and its theoretical, political and organizational expressions whom the ICC has become the quintessence and the first tool within the Communist Left since now around 15 years.

May 2014, the IGCL.

Critical review of a Contribution to a balance sheet of the International Communist Left (CIK)

A lot has happened since the publication of our Contribution to a balance sheet of the International Communist Left (Communist Bulletin No. 4, February 2011), particularly discussions and appeals by groups from the proletarian political milieu. So this is intended as a critical review, since we now see and absolutely have to correct its major political weaknesses.

Two texts published by organizations of the Communist Left compel us to reexamine the positions that we had developed in our ’Contribution...” First, the “Réponse au texte des Communistes Internationalistes – Klasbatalo sur leur Contribution à un état de la Gauche Communiste” and from the International Fraction of the Communist Left (IFCL) criticizing some aspects of our text, especially its centrist character in relation to councilism. Secondly, the editorial in Revolutionary Perspectives #59 of the Communist Workers Organization who came deny that, at least for a majority of local sections of the Internationalist Communist Tendency (ICT), there were only a few criticisms dealing with its refusal as an international organization to assume its responsibility as a pole of regroupment. These two texts along with intense debate within our group, and between our group and IFCL over several months have ensured that we are now able to make this critique.


But first let’s put this writing into context. The proletarian political milieu was, and is still overwhelmed by sectarianism and opportunism just as an economic crisis unparalleled since 1929 has burst forth entailing the bourgeoisie’s ferocious attacks on the working class, but also the latter’s fight-back against the ruling class. Our proposal for a Left communist website a few years ago, just to break with the surrounding sectarianism and allow a space for debate and political intervention for the communist Left, had no resonance save for the support of IFCL. The International Communist Current (ICC) increasingly opened itself up to anarchism [4], thus aggravating the opportunist turn initiated some years ago. The Internal Fraction of the International Communist Current (IFICC) split over its political role and its future tasks. This gave rise to IFCL, which remained tight-lipped on the politics behind the split, publishing the bare minimum. IFICC quite simply ignored its responsibilities as a proletarian group by integrating Controverses and in closing its website without publicly announcing its reasons. Finally, we also learned of a split in Battaglia Comunista (ICT’s Italian section). Needless to say, all these political events left us with very demoralizing and pessimistic feelings toward the proletarian camp. Anyway, keeping all of this in mind, we need to understand our ’Contribution...’ its strengths and especially its weaknesses. However, we entirely dismissed the political depth in IFCL’s criticism of Controverses in their text: Has the proletarian camp definitively gone bankrupt?

In our view, the ’Contribution...’ suffers from two major weaknesses. The first is a political illusion in Controverses and its program, which explains the councilist drift in our text. The second is our critique of the ICT and IFCL’s position, which recognizes the ICT as a pole of regroupment of communist forces. This last aspect has led us to see the ICT from a static point of view, that is, seeing only its current weaknesses while ignoring its potential as a pole of regroupment. In developing this critique of its two main weaknesses, we now rejoin with the general political positions of IFCL.

Controverses on the bankruptcy of the Communist Left

Our text ’Contribution ...’ was among other things a response to the Controverses text: It’s midnight for the Communist Left. Our mistake was to take up some of Controverses theses while attempting to criticize its text. It’s on the basis of this error, that we find our group’s illusions towards Controverses as a group. Indeed, the fact that a few years after publishing our proposal for a Communist Left website, Controverses founded a ’Forum of the Internationalist Communist Left’, which made a strong impression. We were well aware that Controverses’ forum lacked the clear political criteria (i.e. the dictatorship of the proletariat, international party involvement in the class) that we established in our own proposal for a website. Worse, we didn’t see at the time that our two forums were designed for quite different purposes. Controverses’ forum is an informal meeting place allowing academics (with strong councilist tendencies) to discuss for the sake of discussion, without real political substance, while our forum pushed for a regroupment of communist forces to actively and effectively intervene in class struggles as an organized revolutionary vanguard brought to life by the economic crisis. Thus, we were unable to discern the opportunistic weaknesses of Controverses, weaknesses that IFCL had pointed out: ’They give up the struggle for the consolidation of the communist Left, that is they refuse and even renounce the confrontation of real political positions expressed and defended by the oldest and largest groups, particularly in their press and in their interventions. These people prefer to chat on networks or worse in informal ‘structures’ in which one comes and goes at will and where everyone, as in a ‘Spanish Inn’, picks up or leaves off, depending on the mood, or one’s poor ‘production’.’

These illusions have allowed a shift to a centrist position relative to the concept of councilism. Indeed, we gave credit in part to the comrades of Controverses in asserting that “As the appearance and disappearance of revolutionary organizations depends highly on the evolution of the relationship of forces between classes, and the exacerbation of the objective and subjective conditions behind workers’ mobilizations takes place in a relatively short time, Marx and Engels understood that the existence of these organizations was temporary, intrinsically linked to the flux and reflux of struggles.’ And we were wrong. Here, Controverses comrades develop a clearly councilist organizational position that is close enough to the theory of 1930’s councilist ’opinion groups’ (Dutch GIK and International Council Correspondence, for example). The latter, just as Controverses today, saw no importance in organized and politically formed minorities, namely the activity of the party, suggesting that workers’ councils are themselves sufficient to play their revolutionary role as proletarian organizations of mass struggle. ’Revolutionary individuals’ would simply give their opinion to the workers’ councils, which only arise and disappear according to fluctuations of the class struggle.

While it is true that an ascendant or descendant period of class struggle has some influence on proletarian organizations, a downturn in struggle may be one of many reasons for the degeneration of a proletarian organization [5] just as a favorable upturn in class struggle can be one of several reasons for the passage from the fraction form to that of the party form; the proletarian organization, political party or fraction, is a permanent feature. The permanent nature of the organization is based on a very simple explanation: as a stable and active part of the class struggle, as a revolutionary vanguard in its party form, and as an advocate for programmatic integrity against attacks from opportunism as well as a transmitter of political experience for future generations of revolutionaries in its fraction form.

Thus the whole experience of past revolutionary movements, invaluable experience transmitted precisely by communist nuclei able to resist the counter-revolution such as the ICC or ICT, would, through the pernicious logic of Controverses’ program, be jettisoned. Because, according to Controverses, both the ICC and ICT have failed, here these comrades explicitly proposed a departure from what they call political bickering in order to focus on a theoretical balance sheet [6] of this supposed failure of the Communist Left. According to Controverses, one must ’know enough to distance oneself from the formal organizations which have not succeeded in adapting to the needs of the evolution of the balance of forces between classes, and to retire from fruitless squabble to focus on ‘better things’.’ Worse, the comrades implicitly argue that, in order to implement their proposals, we should dissolve the existing organizations of the Left and ’…do something else’! What Controverses calls “political squabbling” is in fact a process undeniably filled with obstacles, (sectarianism, among others), but nonetheless essential for the consolidation of communist forces. In addition, the desire to first and foremost accomplish theoretical work, as according to Controverses the Communist left has produced nothing theoretical for thirty years, is a refrain of the modernist intellectual for whom all has failed, except of course that of the workings of one’s own little circle. But the greatest danger is that Controverses rejects the Communist left under the pretext that it will become bankrupt when the economic crisis worsens, aggravating the social crisis: the class struggle. What could be the reason for rejecting the proletariat’s most advanced political expressions at the dawn of a social conflict of historic proportions? It’s something that rhymes with councilism!

However the Communist Left isn’t bankrupt. A political current fails when it falls into enemy hands, that is, when it defends theoretically and practically the politics of the bourgeoisie in the broadest sense. Social democracy has failed. Trotskyism has failed. But there aren’t any groups of the communist left that fall under these criteria; they are in no way bankrupt. This doesn’t necessarily mean that there haven’t been political mistakes or bad cyclical analysis.

The Controverses comrades delude themselves in trying to justify their political positions with the history of Marx’s activity in the Communist League and the 1st International. In fact, they make a virtue out of a weakness. The League and the International were dissolved by their leaders because as young and embryonic revolutionary workers movements they had already simply ceased to exist while their militants watched helplessly. Controverses uses this state of helplessness, in which the very young and inexperienced communist movement of the 19th century found itself, as an argument to convince us that the current Communist movement, with over 150 years of struggle under its belt and still very much alive against all the elements, should dissolve or at the very least ’do something else’!

The ICT and its role as pole of regroupment

In our ’Contribution...’ we remained perplexed and criticized IFCL’s position which saw the ICT as the pole of regroupment for communist groups internationally. At the base of this political perplexity regarding the ICT are two important aspects. First, the majority of our members have been sympathizers of Internationalist Workers Group (IWG), the North American section of the ICT. To put it in a nutshell, we had to fight a tendency in Klasbatalo, which saw the ICT through the lens of a rather difficult and negative experience for some of our members as IWG sympathizers, where Canadian members were no strangers to sectarianism and opportunism. But this is not the main point.

Our biggest mistake was in not recognizing the political significance of IFCL’s position, viewing the ICT as a pole of regroupment for the Communist Left. We said at the time: ’The fact is that for CI-K not only is the ICT currently unwilling to fulfill this role (which it itself constantly denies) but, even worse, we don’t see it capable of doing so. This organization, while focusing on class positions, seems vague to us, you never really know what the Bureau does, or what its intervention in the class is.’ We were not completely wrong in saying this. But, this isn’t the question here. Indeed, we cannot sit complacently in the face of the ICT’s hesitation to take on its historic political role; we must try to convince it through discussion. This, we believe is what the IFCL did with the ICT. Finally, we now understand the IFCL’s position as not being that of ’…awarding the contract of the pole of regroupment to the bidder with the fewest programmatic errors’ as we said with some humor in our ’Contribution ... ’, but as a battle for the ICT, as the only organization of the current Left with the potential to play the political role in the process of regroupment, becoming the center of reunification that small communist groups like ours obviously need.

In the meantime, however, the CWO published in its journal an editorial whose political positions on the proletarian camp had and will continue to have a positive influence on the camp and the process of regroupment. We strongly supported this editorial, finding this extract of historical importance: “In short, serious revolutionaries have a real battle on their hands to dismiss not only the illusions of the “anti-capitalists” but the manipulations of the old Left. We need to create a movement that unites all who can see the problems that we were discussing. This movement (or party) must be guided by a clear vision of the society we want. We call it a communist program. It has to be based on the autonomous struggles of the working class, as they increasingly break free from the shackles a hundred years of reaction has imposed on us. Its goal has to be in abolishing the exploitation of wage labor and money, as well as the state, standing armies and national frontiers. We have to reassert the original view of Marx that we are fighting for a society of “freely associated producers” with the principle - “from each according to ones ability and to each according to ones need”. At the moment there are many groups and individuals around the world who recognize this but we are either too scattered, or too divided to take a lead in forming such a united movement. Some object to it on principle declaring that the spontaneous movement will suffice in itself. We wish we could share their confidence. We think responsible revolutionaries should re-examine their differences, asking themselves if the things that we thought divided us now do so in the light of this new period in working class struggle. We should emphasize not the few things we disagree on but the many things that we do agree on. We should seek to work together in common struggles not simply to recruit this or that individual to our own organization, but to widen the consciousness of what a real working class struggle means. In the face of the obstacles we have outlined above it would be suicidal not to so.”

Need we say more? It’s all there: the need for a party with clear positions (the communist program) to achieve the objective of the revolutionary overthrow of bourgeois society and the need for consolidation of communist forces to form this party in a process of debate and political confrontation. The CWO with this editorial has taken a big step in the direction of assuming the role of regroupment as now all communist groups around the world can refer to the CWO’s appeal and thus begin a process of regroupment. Moreover, the conclusion of the 2012 Mayday leaflet in fact strengthens this position for the entire ICT:

“ The Internationalist Communist Tendency is not ’the Party’, not even an organization of this type. That said, we have given ourselves the goal of working together with serious working class activists and revolutionaries to further the construction of a new international revolutionary organization. We invite everybody who can identify with this perspective to contact us and to enter into discussion.”

In short, in the current context of rising struggle and a greater willingness for regroupment of internationalist revolutionary forces, the need for a centralized and international journal arises for ICT. For our part, we can say that we are ready to participate in the distribution, financial support and translation to the extent of our limited resources.

Finally, we need to rectify an error in our text in relation to the ICT concerning the Instituto Onorato Damen (IOD). We wrote: “let us also underline the incredible silence that (Battaglia) has shown toward the IOD and its recent response, the political character of which has yet to emerge.’ Now, the ICT was not silent for long concerning the Instituto Damen comrades’ exit from Battaglia Comunista, and its response to the Institute was correct from the perspective of the communist program and proletarian principles. The Instituto Onorato Damen meanwhile took the opposite approach: that of opportunism and intellectual modernism.


We are now immersed in a process of rising struggles for our class in a context of an economic crisis unprecedented since 1929. Around the world, the working class is beginning or resuming its fight against the economic austerity imposed forcibly on it by the international bourgeoisie. For example, be it in Greece or Egypt, the proletariat is beginning to challenge the bourgeois organs of containment such as trade unions and capital’s parties on the left. It is impossible to say whether we are at this time experiencing ’years of truth’, but the increasingly massive struggles of our class give us the responsibility, as a communist left, to intervene according to our forces to transform the struggles of despair without a future into the successful struggles of the international communist revolution. The time for the consolidation of the Communist Left approaches. An international and internationalist communist party is currently missing in our struggles.

In this vein, we leave the last word to the IFCL comrades concerning those in the proletarian camp who oppose regroupment and the party and those who have the ability to accelerate and facilitate the formation of the party:

“Basing ourselves on an immediate but nonetheless real observation of division and sectarianism, which strikes at groups claiming to be Left Communist, where we see these elements breaking with their organization and seeking ’individual freedom’ with their undeclared divergence with the political orientations that they had defended, some for decades within their organization, as in this case within the ICC.”

“Finally, the proletarian camp in this situation, in which the two original currents (’Bordiguism’ and the ICC) are no longer able to face their historical responsibility as poles of reference and regroupment, the Internationalist Communist Tendency (ex-IBRP), the only organization with a real capacity for occupying and assuming this responsibility, somehow doesn’t grasp the full importance and historical significance in this, preferring to stick to immediate certainties. Nevertheless, this organization succeeds every now and then in imposing itself in this very role, in directly regrouping around itself – which we commend and support – although at the same time it doesn’t quite grasp the full dimensionality of resolute politics of ’regroupment’ around itself, since it sees its aim only in terms of immediate adhesion within its own ranks. Thus, it tends to underestimate, indeed to ignore, the other currents of the proletarian camp and the indispensable political struggles against the opportunist drift developing within them, seeing this as sterile polemicising. Yet how many revolutionary elements in search of political clarification and coherence –which there will be even more of in the future fueled by the crisis and the inescapable response of workers struggles – could then refer and orientate themselves amongst the positions and groups if the ICT would assume the full dimension of the role that history offers it today. What a step forward for regroupment! »

Internationalist Communists - Klasbatalo, 16 May 2012.

(Published on : 9 September 2014)



[1.- Revolution or War #1.

[2.- See the IFCL’s response (in French) Réponse au texte des CIK

[3.- Some have criticized our Call for having made public a internal crisis of an organization without this one wanted it. And actually, in similar situations for other organizations we have heard about through ’informal’ ways, we had directly adress to these groups and had respected their decision. But when an organization as the ICC, claiming the Communist Left, utilizes real Stalinist practices – internal Jury of Honor whose main actors are both judge and jury, control and investigation permanent commission, substitution of the political debates and relations by personal and psychological self criticisms (during which the accused are summoned to recognize their hatred for others and themselves ask that the organization takes sanctions against them (!), insults, internal and public accusations and condemnations, etc. - then we claim the right to denounce this publicly and to alert the whole forces of the Proletarian Camp.

[4. See the illuminating series of texts ’Communist Left and anarchism: what we have in common’ where the ICC squirms theoretically in order to make the anarchists ’internationalists’ (sic) appear as genuine revolutionaries. ICC, instead of trying to create political ties with other left communist groups, particularlly the ICT, creates a new wave of fake revolutionaries , the “internationalist anarchists” through historical falsification. Here the ICC is theorizing a tactical front with petty bourgeois organizations.

[5. There is an a association, that we should like to deepen on that question, with the fact that the ICC called the ‘80s the years of truth (which at the time was quite legitimate, for example, given the mass strike in Poland in 1980) when that decade ended with a clear decline in political struggles which was exacerbated in the 1990s, the years when the ICC actually developed the revisionist and opportunist theory of the decomposition of capitalism.

[6. The idea of making a bilan (balance sheet) of the Communist Left, or more particularly the ICC the organization most affected by opportunism, is not a bad idea. Indeed, there are many important lessons found in the reasons why an organization can make an opportunist political shift. The IFICC (and now IFCL) made a very good bilan of the ICC, but some political aspects are still lacking for us. For its part, Controverses hasn’t made a bilan of the Left, but none the less rejects the communist program and the organizations that defend this program in order to join in the revisionist and modernist logic of ’all things new, and beautiful.’