Revolution or War n°3

(February 2015)

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The Current Importance of Groups of the Communist Left

There is a trend nowadays in the proletarian political milieu to underestimate, if not to deny the importance of existing left communist groups. Whether by proclaiming the bankruptcy of left communism, by squandering its political principals one after the other or by refusing to take responsibility as a political vanguard of the working class. It is obvious that the political current represented by the communist left is full of important weaknesses. But these weaknesses, whether they are political or “numeric”, must never diminish the principle which is that the political groups of the left communist tradition must be, are and will be at the forefront of the struggle for the regroupment of revolutionaries into a class party.

The working class, internationally, benefits from a relatively favourable political situation. Its resistance to capitalist austerity is undeniable. Of course, there are no big economic nor political victories. But is it possible to obtain real long term economic gains in the epoch of decadent capitalism? The only real victory resulting from struggle is the growing organization of the working class in political terms, therefore the extension of class consciousness, in order to attack capitalism in a revolutionary fashion. Left communist groups are the main factor in the process of the extension of working class organization. Thus, their importance cannot be denied nor diminished.

Real weaknesses of the communist left

Political weaknesses

There are real political weaknesses in today’s communist left. One of its historically most important organizations, the International Communist Current, squanders its political principles without any shame. As we are short on space to write about this subject, readers can refer to our previous issues [1]. The second political current in the left communist tradition, the Internationalist Communist Tendency, although politically healthy, refuses to take the role that it objectively has to take, which is to serve as a point of reference for militants or political groups interested in or getting closer to the left. On the contrary, it tends to try to build its own chapel without confronting the other political currents.

This results in a situation where it is difficult for militants or groups more or less isolated to identify themselves with the real historic tradition of the communist left represented by the ICC and ICT, a tradition which is clearly for the regroupment of revolutionaries into a class party. The flip side of the coin is that this situation leaves space for all the anti-party and semi-anarchist currents like councilism, academism or ultra-left. Even worse, these semi-anarchist currents have some influence, more or less pronounced, in the traditional left communist organizations to the point that these organizations, the ICC and ICT, have become more and more open to anarchism [2]. It is then not surprising that the issues of the importance of the class party and the duty of militants to regroup themselves in a political party are taking a hit.

Numeric weaknesses

The era of mass workers parties ended with the betrayal of the Second International. The left fractions within Social Democracy were able to learn the lessons from that failure in order to restore the communist program and later build a new International. Among these lessons, there is for example the rejection of parliamentarism and unionism, but also the rejection of the corollary of the first two : the mass party with blurred boundaries. With the birth of the Communist International, it was the victory of the principle which is that the class party chooses its militants rigorously on the basis of a clear program. In short, it was the victory of the party of militants against the party of electors. This has the superficial consequence that the proletarian political organization is smaller in terms of number of militants.

The size of the proletarian organization is also intimately linked to the historical period of class struggle. Without being a mechanical nor automatic link, the number of militants tends to increase in periods of open struggle and decrease in periods of defeat for the working class. This was the case for the left communist groups during and after the Second World War. Their number and their political presence was reduced to its simplest form. Does it mean that these groups were nothing and had no influence in the class? If we take an immediatist point of view, indeed, we can think that these groups had no influence. But if we take the historical point of view, we quickly note the huge importance of these groups. Not only do current left communist groups owe their existence to them, but the political lessons drawn by these groups have left us a legacy. “In such a period, only small revolutionary groups manage to survive, a solution ensuring continuity, less organizational than ideological, condensing within their ranks the past experience of the movement and the class struggle, bridging the party of yesterday with that of tomorrow, between the height of the struggle and the maturity of class consciousness in the past period of flux towards its supersession in the new period of flux in the future. In these groups continues the ideological life of the class, the self-criticism of its struggles, the critical re-examination of previous ideas, the constant elaboration of its program, the maturation of its consciousness and the formation of new militants for the next step of its revolutionary assault.” (The Nature and the Political Function of the Political Party of the Proletariat, Internationalisme #38, Gauche communiste de France, 1948, our translation in RG #1).

May ’68 represents a political awakening for the proletariat. It is the end of the counter-revolution and we see the reappearance of a certain class consciousness in which the process of formation was obviously not linear. In parallel, there was also the emergence, the formation and the consolidation of the two contemporary tendencies of the communist left, the ICC and IBRP [3]. Unfortunately for the first current, a lull in class struggle around ’90-2000 created a situation where the ’68 generation ran out of breath, to the point that today there are more “ex-ICC” than actual ICC militants. The problem is that ex-ICC militants, because of a lack of political conviction, either joined the semi-anarchist milieu described earlier or simply stopped militancy. So it is that the strength of the communist left in general, and the ICC current in particular, boils down to a trickle.

Role of the revolutionaries and its importance

Active militants, stakeholders of the class struggle

If the role of the groups of the communist left was only to politically influence the most proletarians possible, it is true we would be far from our goal. But it would be to adopt a dangerous immediatist point of view. From the historic point of view and from the construction of the class party point of view, our importance lies in the bridge that we [4] represent between the traditional currents, ICC and ICT, and the future party. And we are all the more important given our reduced number. Moreover, we said in the first issue of our review : “ Conscious bearers of the communist perspective, organized accordingly, they are a guarantee of the direction and the means leading to this revolutionary future. And the reality of their influence and of their presence, and especially the real existence of the party, is in turn an expression within the working class of the reality of this balance of power between the classes and the degree of extension of class consciousness. But as reflection or product of an historical relation of forces between the classes, the highest expressions of class consciousness must become an active and primary factor of this consciousness and of the evolution of this balance of power in assuming and in struggling for the political direction of their class.(...) This is why it is now this political minority’s particular responsibility to reach out and unify its forces, not simply to influence current working class struggles as far as possible, but especially to be ready to participate in the formation of the international and internationalist class party.” [5]

We can’t predict with certainty that the formation of the future class party will be impulsed by the current groups of the Communist Left, so real are their weaknesses. It is indeed possible that an insurrectionary situation or dual power appears without an international party politically prepared beforehand. Although possible
 [6], this situation is not really desirable. The Communist Left groups represent a legacy. This legacy is the political lessons accumulated by hundreds of years of class struggle. “(...)theoretically, they have over the great mass of the proletariat the advantage of clearly understanding the line of march, the conditions, and the ultimate general results of the proletarian movement.”, as said the Communist Manifesto of Marx and Engels. The point is not to oppose a so-called omniscient avant-garde to a stupid proletarian mass. However, the Communist Left crystallizes the political experience of militant and workers groups which have already thought, faced, solved, discussed the big questions which raise themselves in front of the struggling proletariat. It would be irresponsible to leave the young generations disarmed in front of political questions already resolved by the Left Communist groups. The capitalist barbarity cannot last eternally.

The existence of the Communist Left is the demonstration of the revolutionary potential of the proletariat : it represents the most revolutionary fraction of the working class and there lies its historical importance. Now, we must not put ourselves at the tail of the movement in fear of imposing on it our views as also we don’t have the duty to lead it like a general leads an army. We have to, through our experience, fertilize the revolutionary potential of the proletariat while indicating to it “the conditions, and the ultimate general results of the proletarian movement” (The Communist Manifesto).

War or Revolution

The current period is one of massive clashes between social classes. Proletariat against bourgeoisie, that is the face of the class struggle in modern society. Both sides of the barricades have their own class interests and their own class consciousness. The issue of the struggles ahead is communism or capitalism, socialism or barbarism, REVOLUTION OR WAR.

The Communist Left is at the moment the only political current claiming its roots in the proletariat which defends the communist perspective against capitalist barbarity. All other false friends of the proletariat, the leftists of all stripes, are only defending particular variants of capitalism. They propose a “kinder, gentler capitalism” : democratism, anti-fascism, anti-racism, municipalism, commonorism, self-management, unionism. These ideologies deny the main social classes and especially the proletariat ; they contribute to weakening the proletariat’s constant struggle within capitalist society and its final fight against it.

Again, here lies the historical and political importance of the present groups of the Communist Left.

Robin, January 2015.



[2. From the revolutionary point of view, the class frontier is between Marxism and Anarchism. From the opportunist point of view, the frontier is between revolutionary Marxism and Anarchism on one side against reformist Marxism and Anarchism on the other... see The communist left and internationalist anarchism, Part 1: What we have in common (ICC, World Revolution #336) as well as Marxism and Anarchism (TCI,

[3. Today the Internationalist Communist Tendency.

[4. “We” represents all the partyist currents of the Communist Left.

[6. For example, Berlin in 1918 and the first days of the Spanish civil war in 1936.