Revolution or War n°26

(January 2024)

PDF - 509.9 kb

HomeVersion imprimable de cet article Version imprimable

Ten Years of the IGCL: What Balance?

In the imperialist phase of capitalism, and from a general point of view, there are only two ways out: one capitalist: war; and the other proletarian: revolution. Only workers’ insurrection can prevent the outbreak of war. This fundamental consideration, if it is not to remain a theatrical statement of political ornamentation, must become the criterion for the establishment of all our political activity, however minimal it may be.”

(Bilan #2, 1933, Une victoire de la contre-révolution mondiale : les États Unis reconnaissent l’Union soviétique, [A Victory of the World Counter-Revolution, the USA Recognized the Soviet Union], emphasis in the original.)

The IGCL was formed in November 2013. Ten years ago. It was formed after several years of contact and debate between the Communistes internationalistes de Montréal-Klasbatalo (CIM) and the Internal Fraction of the ICC (IFICC), then the Internal Fraction of the Communist Left (IFCL), which succeeded the former in 2010. The members of the first group had been “ousted” from the then Canadian group of the ICT, the GIO, the same group that was dissolved by the latter in 2017. Following a process of political debate and clarification that began in 2007 [1], the two nuclei decided to dissolve and form the IGCL.

The new group shared the class frontiers that the ICT and the ICC have in common. In order to provide itself with a minimum framework of principles, it adopted the ICC’s “basic positions” document of the 1970s, i.e. without the reference to the theory of Decomposition. The particular history of the two nuclei [2] would not, in itself, have been sufficient to found and justify the formation of the IGCL. The defense of specific political positions gave it a space and a raison d’être authorizing its particular existence, as a fraction of the proletarian camp as a whole. The Theses on the Historical Situation [3] adopted at the founding conference put forward two orientations specific to our group in 2013:

- the reaffirmation of the reality and perspective of the historical alternative of revolution or war – to the point of making it the name of our journal – and thus to recognize the perspective of generalized imperialist war as a central element and determining factor of the historical situation and of the class struggle ;

- and the fight for the party within the proletarian camp, making the Internationalist Communist Tendency the axis of this struggle, as the sole pole of reference and international grouping.

To achieve and materialize these two orientations, the IGCL “decided to develop a printed international journal, ‘Revolution or War’ – to be published initially on a semi-annual basis – (…) so as to conduct the group’s general work on a regular basis and to develop a political presence internationally and locally, when and where it’s needed” [4] and a website. In addition to these two clearly defined orientations adopted in the Resolution of Foundation, there was a third which we were aware of, but whose exact terms and political content we were unable to define at the time: “the platform will require greater development and argumentation in the future” [5] and to which we return below.

Pushes towards Generalized Imperialist War and the Alternative of "Revolution or War"

The IGCL was therefore founded on the conviction that the historical alternative of revolution or war was at the core of the historical situation and, above all, that it was the main factor determining the course of the events, in particular of the imperialist and class antagonisms.

“2013: as the deadline approaches, the historical alternative increasingly materializes for billions of human beings and the social classes involved. As the working class also bears the burden of preparation for generalized war, its resistance against the effects of the economic crisis simultaneously tends to oppose the logic of war. And thus the course of class struggle is in massive confrontation with this. These clashes will be as decisive for the exploited class, and at the same time the revolutionary class, because depending on whether it will come out of it defeated or not, the dynamics of the class struggle of the new relation of forces will turn towards one or the other term of the historical alternative. The working class holds the keys to this historical dilemma.” [6]

The theses have enabled to “provide the new group with a general framework in dealing with the historical situation, [allowing] it to develop a united, homogeneous political intervention for the class struggle.” [7]

Since then, the war in Ukraine has verified our thesis on the reality and topicality of the perspective of generalized imperialist war – of a Third World War – as one of the two terms of the historical alternative [8]. It also dispelled any remaining doubts or hesitations within the proletarian camp regarding this perspective. [9] The convergence, and even relative homogeneity in the making, on this question with the Internationalist Communist Tendency – and others – led to a political and militant rapprochement between our two organizations, manifested in the call for the creation of NWBCW committees and the polarization of the dynamic communist forces around this organization. In so doing, the confirmation of the validity of our general orientation with regard to the historical situation, and the growing acuity of the historical alternative, also confirmed the validity of our second orientation, that towards the proletarian camp and the ICT, and of the struggle for the communist party of tomorrow. [10]

The political position that only the international proletariat can slow down and then oppose the dynamic towards war by refusing the sacrifices, starting with the economic sacrifices, that capital is forced to impose on it in the name of crisis and now war, or its preparation, is a principle of Marxism – of the revolutionary theory of the proletariat. The proletariat is not fighting against the idea of war, but against the misery and increased sacrifices it adds to those already imposed by capital’s economic crisis. This position is accompanied by the one equally of principle that only the destruction of capital and capitalist states by the international proletariat through its class dictatorship will also put a definitive end to war and misery. It is on this basis and from these principles that we have tried to assume a “political vanguard” intervention within the proletarian struggles that have developed over the last ten years. Whether we can intervene physically and directly – unfortunately all too rarely – or in a general and “international” way, does not change the imperative need for us to take a position and intervene in a “centralized” way in all the international struggles that arise, and to define orientations and slogans of action according to the times and places of the struggles of our class. We refer our readers to the various positions, leaflets and balances of struggles – particularly during the mass mobilizations in France in 2016, 2018, 2020 and 2023 – and to the debates on revolutionary intervention that we have tried to stimulate, in particular with the ICT in RW #24 about the struggles in Great Britain and France, or our critique of the ICC’s councilist interventions in RW #19.

The Mistake of our Theses on the future of Chinese Imperialism

As we can see, the general framework of our theses and most of them have been confirmed by the historical development right up to the present day. However, not all our theses have been verified. One in particular has been disproved. “Capitalist ideology serves us up with real imperialist fracture lines extending towards Asia and China in opposition to the United States and Western countries. This is not the case. Since the Second World War, China – even when considered a ‘third world country’ – has always been a regional imperialist power. And in its participation in the Second World War, and in all the imperialist conflicts that followed, it never ventured beyond Asia. The same goes for a power like Russia. Today, we can affirm that neither one nor the other can be candidates for leadership of a block – their opposition against American intervention in Iraq in 2003, for example, forced their alignment with Europe and showed their lack of autonomous, alternative political position throughout this major conflict in the first decade of the 21st century.”

Our rejection of any possibility of China becoming a direct rival to the United States was based both on historical experience and on the polarization dynamic initiated by the 2003 Iraq war. It has to be said that we never went back over the possible errors of method that may have led to this assertion, which now appears to have been belied by the facts. No doubt we were still trapped in an underestimation of China’s economic development. We were probably still trapped in a vision that excludes any possibility of the emergence of a new economic and imperialist power in the historical period of capitalist decadence. This is a point, at least of method if not of theoretical understanding, that we have not been able to return to. [11] A comrade in our ranks had, however, indirectly questioned this aspect of our theses following the Russian intervention in Syria. We reported on this in our issue no. 5, On the Development of the Imperialist Rivalries since the Russian Military Intervention in Syria [12]. Based on the ICT positions of the time, the comrade emphasized the dynamic of Russia’s imperialist opposition to the Western powers, first and foremost the US, expressed by its military intervention in Syria in support of Assad. In so doing, he challenged our vision of the polarizing dynamic between America and Europe that had tended to assert itself during the Iraq war in 2003. Unfortunately, the comrade we had asked to write a contribution on this point for the journal resigned shortly afterwards. As a result, the debate that could have “forced” us to reflect further, did not take place.

Nevertheless, this “error of prediction” was not ignored, nor denied, in face of the course of imperialist events. The determined opening of a US anti-Chinese “containment” policy, like the one the same power imposed on Japan in the 1930s, quickly convinced us that the polarization between the United States and China was becoming central and would articulate the imperialist positions of the ones and the others. The election of Trump, then the policies pursued during the covid pandemic, and finally the war in Ukraine – and today in the Middle East – have come to confirm that the dynamic of imperialist polarization has found – at least for the present period, let’s not be definitive again – the axis around which it must revolve. Far from invalidating the dynamic of generalized war that our theses put forward, the emergence of China as a potential “imperialist block leader” against American power has confirmed it by making it even more topical, more rapid, more direct, more concrete. Unlike Germany or any other European country, has not China become the only one that can quickly claim to rival the USA and Nato militarily – especially if allied with Russia? Or does the China-US opposition not more “naturally” carry the ideological themes for such polarization and eventual generalized war than an opposition between the Western democracies themselves? The defense of “democracy” against “dictatorships” finds more credence in a polarization between the USA and China-Russia than between Europe and the USA, in order to win the support of the proletariat in the historic centers of capitalism for war. The war in Ukraine, and now the one between Israel and the Palestinians, have verified the polarization dynamic around an “anti-Western axis”, of which China and Russia are the most active factors. Far from calling into question the historical alternative of revolution or war, the imperialist assertion of China as America’s main rival has further confirmed its validity and accelerated its process.

Our Intervention in the Struggle between the Classes

To defend these orientations effectively, concretely, in the historical struggle between the classes, i.e. both in the immediate proletarian struggles and in the proletarian camp, twenty-five issues of our journal have been regularly published in English and French and, in reduced form, in Spanish and, more recently, Italian. Our “biannual” journal has been published three times a year since its issue 12. We dare to think that it has become a reference – among others, of course – at the international level for the entire proletarian camp and for the revolutionary energies that are emerging. We have organized our website around it and its frequency. In other words, we have rejected the temptation to turn the site into a “blog” that would publish our articles and positions as immediate events unfolded, without any political hierarchy or priority. Indeed, while the political vanguards of the proletariat have the duty to “follow” the current events and respond to the challenges and obstacles facing the proletariat as a whole, they must also guard against being dragged into the terrains and deadlines – the tempo – that the bourgeoisie, particularly its media, are trying to impose. In this sense, it is essential to ensure that every communist publication has its own rhythm and frequency. Our press – limited though it may be – must dictate both the centralized internal and external activities at international level for its own realization, and the priorities of intervention, propaganda and statements. This is a political and “organizational” choice that enables us to guard against the danger of immediatism as best we can – although there is no absolute guarantee of course. And to intervene as best we can – even if we can always make political mistakes of analysis – and “accelerate” when an international or even territorial event occurs, requiring communists to take an immediate stand by means of a leaflet or “communiqué”. In the space of a decade, we have issued over sixty of these, mainly during workers’ struggles and strikes, or during imperialist wars [13].

A Political Platform for the 2020s

Finally, the final adoption of a “developed” platform in 2021 was a response to the last orientation we had set ourselves: to go beyond the false debates, often of a sectarian nature, which set the main currents of the Communist Left against each other on the one hand [14]; and on the other, to pose and push forward the questions, issues and stakes facing the international proletariat, which are expressed and materialized in the positions and differences of the existing communist groups [15]. The updating of the ICT platform in 2020 provided us with the opportunity for an internal debate on it and a statement in this review. At the same time, we rediscussed the ICC’s 1976 platform on the basis of the weaknesses and shortcomings that the IGCL had pointed out at the time of its constitution, in particular the passage and formulas on the party that marked an undeniable “hesitation” of councilist nature. The discussion of the two platforms [16] enabled us to note the latter’s “economist-councilist” approach, making it a programmatic tool belonging to the past, to the post-68 years, and responding to the weight that Stalinism represented at the time. While we reject the ICC’s platform as completely and definitively unsuited to the historical period, we recognize ourselves in the programmatic framework of the ICT’s platform. In our view, its shortcomings are not programmatic, but rather formal. Its presentation seems to us less coherent and systematic than that of ICC, and the exposition of the class frontiers suffers as a result. But its theoretical approach is marked by the programmatic documents of the Communist Left of Italy. In fact, it appears to have been the result of a compromise between Il Partito-Battaglia comunista and the CWO when the IBRP was set up in 1983. Regrettably, the grouping was not based on the former’s platform of 1952 which was articulated and based its coherence on the question of the party.

It is precisely this approach that has animated and dictated the elaboration of our own platform. In this sense, we consider that, although it contradicts and even opposes that of the ICC, it is situated within the same programmatic framework as that of the ICT. It simply “goes further” and is more precise in terms of principles, theory and policy. We believe that our platform goes beyond those conceived in the 1970s and 1980s. By putting the question of the party back at its center, as the factor of coherence of all its class positions, it responds to the dramatic historical stakes of the 2020s and the massive confrontation between classes that is beginning.

Order at
3 euros/4 dollars + mailing

On reading the foregoing, the reader will understand that we are drawing a positive balance from ten years of the IGCL’s activities. But it also brings with it a new set of responsibilities. Will we be up to the task? Paradoxically, the verification of the general political orientations that were our own in 2013, and the political attraction that our group can and does exert on new revolutionary militant forces, and sometimes even on older ones, present us with new challenges. The same applies to the other most dynamic communist forces, mainly the ICT. The very nature of communist activity is that every “success”, however relative, raises new questions and new responsibilities. However, the verification of previous orientations and the – always more or less relative – correctness of political positions in no way guarantee the verification of today’s orientations or the correctness of future political positions.

Intervening in proletarian struggles by assuming their political leadership and fighting as effectively as possible within the proletarian camp for the world communist party of tomorrow are two responsibilities that the proletariat itself has entrusted to the political minorities it has produced. Given the worsening situation, and the march towards war that capital is trying to impose, they are more topical than ever. And for the very future of humanity.

IGCL, November 2023



[1. « For over 6 months, we’ve engaged in a regroupment process aimed at forming an international and internationalist group based on the positions and experience of the international Communist Left. And in trying to ensure the solidity and political clarity of this new organization, this process cannot but be a long one, especially since the two nuclei have different histories and experiences. The beginning of this process was announced in the Presentation of the International Communist Bulletin #10 (] (February 2013) after the October 2012 conference of the Fraction. The reader can take a look at the summaries of the various issues as well as at the K-IC’s blog ( to get an idea of the development of the relationship, of the discussions & debates, of our past disagreements, of our convergences, and common collaborations & interventions since 2006 (see the IFICC’s Bulletin #41, 2007 : » (Éditorial of International Communist Bulletin #11, october 2013, Interested comrades can refer to the summaries of the 49 IFICC bulletins from number 41 onwards and to the International Communist Bulletin of the IFCL:

[2. The members of both nuclei had been excluded from their “original” organizations, and faced open hostility from the ICC and the GIO, forbidding any further communist involvement within them.

[3. Theses on the Historical Situation, July 2013, Revolution or War #1,

[4. Resolution on the Foundation of the IGCL, RW #1,

[5. Idem.

[6. Theses on the Historical Situation, op.cit.

[7. Resolution on the Foundation of the IGCL, op.cit.

[8. Largely confirmed since then by the explosion of war in the Middle East – at the time of writing, limited to Israel, Gaza and the West Bank.

[9. Alone among the forces claiming to be of the Communist Left, the ICC continues to deny any danger of “Third World War” and therefore to ignore the dynamics and forces that are leading to it.

[10. See our article in this issue: Our Policy towards the Proletarian Camp and the ICT.

[11. Any reader and/or comrade, or indeed any organization, wishing to contribute a critical viewpoint is welcome to do so.

[13. See the rubric « Previous statements and leaflets” on our website

[14. For example, the criticism always voiced by the ICC, and in part by the Bordiguist current, of the mistake made in forming the Partito comunista internazionalista in 1945, even though all the constituted groups of the Communist Left at the time, including the ICC’s ancestor the Gauche communiste de France, were in favor of forming the party.

[15. In particular, the question of class consiousness and the party as organ of political leadership of the proletariat, the dynamic of the class struggle these days, intervention of revolutionaries, relationship between the political and economic dimensions of workers’ struggles, etc.