PCI trails behind the "Internal Fraction" of the ICC (part 2)
Believing what the "IFICC" says in connection with the "Stalinist methods of the ICC" (and having apparently forgotten the sentence of Lenin: "Whoever believes the word of another is an incorrigible idiot"), the PCI continues on this topic: "It is inevitable that the climate which is created in the ICC is reflected on the outside. Thus, one of our comrades who had had the misfortune to criticise such methods in a public meeting of this organisation (while reaffirming that he did not in any way defend the Fraction), saw himself consequently informed of the 'rupture of any political relations' with himself. The significance of this curious declaration appeared a few days later, when he was insulted and jostled during a sale by an ICC militant. We do not want to attach a disproportionate importance to this incident, which is perhaps due to the excitement of local militants. But it must be clear that we do not intend to let the limits of our criticism be dictated to by anyone, and by any measures of intimidation, including physical. 'Learn from what we say, it shall not be repeated!'"(note 1).
Just as the PCI should have obtained better information before blowing the same trumpets as the "Fraction", it would have done better not to believe the word of its Toulouse militant, W, in connection with the incidents which occurred between him and our militants. One thing first of all: we have always and in all places expressed a fraternal attitude towards the militants of the PCI. And this for the good reason that we consider that this organisation, in spite of its Programmatic errors, belongs to the camp of the working class. The reciprocal case was not always true. Thus, in 1979, when the militants of the PCI were involved in supporting the movement of the residents of immigrants' homes, SONACOTRA, and were acting as stewards at street gatherings and demonstrations alongside Maoist militants of the UCFML, they used physical threats to prevent militants of the ICC from speaking and distributing our press. It is true that, at that time, the PCI was dominated, in particular in France, by a leftist and third-worldist current which was going to split a few years later by taking with it the cash box and other material means. The current militants of the PCI criticised this third-worldist tendency, but to our knowledge they never condemned the behaviour of the members of the PCI of the time who had prevented the expression of internationalist positions within a working class struggle, to the great satisfaction of the UCFML Stalinists.
Concerning W, a member of the PCI in Toulouse whom we have known for a long time, we expressed the same fraternal attitude towards him as to other members of the PCI when he returned to this city after several years of absence. We proposed that he should exhibit the press of the PCI in our public meetings and always invited him to speak at them. In the same way, we encouraged the members of a discussion circle in which we participate to also invite the PCI, i.e. W, so that he could present its positions to it. For a whole period, moreover, his own attitude with regard to our militants was also cordial and he was always determined to engage in long discussions with them.
Since the beginning of this year W's attitude has changed completely:
- At the 12 January 2002 meeting of the discussion circle, he accused our two militants present of being anti-Semites (note 2).
- A few days after, when one of our militants had sought explanations from him during a press sale at a market, he reiterated the same charges, more particularly towards one of our comrades, putting forward during this discussion only the "argument" that he "knew what he was talking about since he has known him for a long time" (indeed they went to college together); he equally accused the militants of PCI-Programma Comunista of being not very commendable people.
- At the meeting on 16 February, the members of the discussion circle again asked him for explanations of his charges and he then left the meeting, after having again uttered insults affirming that we were "all in the same bag".
- Just before our public meeting of 1 June which was to proceed in the back room of a cafe, he started by making a scandal in the main room by claiming that we owed him some money - and in front of the customers and with the risk of us being prohibited from meeting by the owner of the cafe.
- During the public meeting itself he read a statement which he proposed to also circulate within the other groups of the communist left as well as within the Trotskyist group Lutte Ouvri�re (!), in which he accused the ICC of "Stalinism" for having excluded "as usual" the "experienced comrades". He referred to the "IFICC" as well as the booklet What Is Not To be Done- a collection of calumnies against our organisation published at the end of the nineties by the "Circle de Paris", a parasitic regrouping of former militants of the ICC, none of whom was excluded but whose organisational anarchism had made their presence in a centralised communist organisation "unbearable" to them.
- At the end of this meeting, he launched a new slander, claiming one of our sympathisers "had stolen a booklet of the PCI". (!)
- >On 9 June a delegation of our organisation went to find him to say that, taking into account the attitude which he had adopted in the cafe back room, endangering the meeting place, (note 3) and the insults which he would not cease using against our militants, we no longer want to have relations with him.
- On 7 July when our comrades took out publications in order to begin a sale at a market, he came to insult them, regaling them as "Stalinist" and as "fascists"; one of our comrades asked him to keep silent but he simply voiced his insults more and more extremely, obviously provoking a crowd; our comrade then asked him to leave, in a very firm tone but without "jostling him" as the le Prol�taire article claims.
- At our public meeting of 14 September, a sympathiser of the PCI asked us whether he could exhibit the press of this organisation in the conference room; we answered that not only could he do so but that we encourage it; this is truly proof that our attitude of firmness towards W results only from his unacceptable behaviour and by no means out of hostility towards the PCI as such.
- On 13 October, at the market where he sold the PCI's press, W insulted two of our sympathisers by assailing them as "bitches" at the moment when they passed in front of him. In spite of the policy of openness that we apply towards the other groups of the communist left, it can happen that one or other of our militants loses their calm and makes provocative remarks.(note 4). However, in this precise case, there were neither provocative remarks, nor "excitement" from our militants and if anybody made provocative remarks, and indeed on more than one occasion, it is certainly this PCI militant. We do not know what explains his attitude during the last year: is it the result of the tonality of the discussions within the PCI or rather of a certain "excitement" (according to the terms of le Prol�taire) specific to W?(note 5).
In the same way, we regard as probable that W gave a version of the facts to his organisation different from that which we have just revealed. It is thus the word of our militants (and our sympathisers) against that of the militant of the PCI. However, we are sure of what we put forward and we can prove it because most of W's intrigues which we reported took place in the presence of several people external to the ICC, who will be able to testify. We think that there should be a confrontation in front of the other militants of the PCI, between their militant W and our comrades as well as the people external to the ICC who witnessed incidents that we have described. We are prepared, if necessary, to call for the constitution of a special commission of militants of the communist left charged to shed light on these facts. We are particularly determined that the truth is clarified on this question because our organisation is today the target of a campaign of unprecedented slander by the small group of former militants who constitute the "IFICC", animated by an element whose behaviour is disturbing and dangerous for the groups of the communist left. And most lamentable, in this business, it is that a group such as the PCI is contributing its share to this campaign, in spite of its stated wish "not to take sides", in particular by describing incidents of which it clearly it has an erroneous knowledge. The use of the PCI's article by the "Fraction"
We did not have to wait long for the effects of the PCI's article; immediately after its publication, it was reprinted on the Internet site of the IFICC, accompanied by a statement where we can read: "First of all, we condemn the current attitude of the ICC and make a point of dissociating ourselves completely from its present methods. We solidarise ourselves with the PCI militant who is the victim of this aggression. Independently of the political support that we bring to the PCI comrades, we feel a painful shock vis-�-vis this new episode: it says much indeed, on the state of disarray and disorientation of the members of the ICC; it is significant of the profundity of the sectarian drift which has seized hold of the ICC so quickly � One would be wrong to trivialise this incident or to analyse it as the unhappy provocative remarks of a militant. Indeed, it is only the latest illustration of an opportunist and sectarian dynamic, which openly developed initially within the ICC the day after its 14th congress (May 2001), and after the open explosion of its organisational crisis, then publicly with respect to the members of the ICC who were opposed to this new policy, and today with respect to the whole political milieu which is seen as a class enemies � we welcome this article which denounces the bureaucratic measures and intimidation which were established inside the ICC. These were never the attitude and the practices of Marx, nor of Lenin, nor of any proletarian organisation."
We will not make additional comments on the prose of the IFICC, which is quite in line with its preceding writings. We would like simply to point out the immense hypocrisy of the sentence "we feel a painful shock vis-�-vis this new episode". Actually, the attitude of members of the "IFICC" that we encountered a few days after the publication of the le Prol�taire article speaks for itself: it was not "pain" which one could read on their face, but open jubilation.
If the PCI militants sincerely did not wish "to take sides", it must be said that they singularly failed to achieve their aim.
In our official statement on the exclusion of Jonas, we wrote, as we already stated above: "what we are sure of is that he (Jonas) represents a danger to the proletarian political milieu". This assertion has been fully confirmed by the political manoeuvres that Jonas and his "Fraction" have carried out towards the groups of the communist left. After having refused to defend himself by appealing in front of a jury of honour, Jonas used his "Fraction" to try "to implicate" the IBRP and to push it to take part in the campaign of slanders against the ICC. As we wrote it in WR 255, "publishing the discussion between the IBRP and the 'Fraction' can only have the aim of discrediting the IBRP in the proletarian political milieu. And this is indeed Mr Jonas' aim: to lure the IBRP into a trap and to discredit it while spreading all kinds of suspicion between the groups of the communist left."
Today, it is the turn of the PCI to let itself be enrolled in Mr Jonas' "fraction" war against the ICC. By involving the groups of the communist left in its campaigns against the ICC, Jonas, with the support of his faithful, does nothing but continue the wretched policy outside - a perfectly conscious, deliberate and planned policy - that he carried out inside the ICC when he tried to sow suspicion among militants, to line them up against each other. (note 6) Why does the PCI play the "Fraction's" game?
The questions remains: why the did PCI show such kindness towards the "Fraction"? Why was it in a rush to publish a time-consuming article taking the side of the "fraction" and carrying serious charges against the ICC, without asking us for more details as we proposed to them in our letter of 6 February 2002, which finished as follows: "We are obviously at your disposal to give you more elements on this business if you wish it." Why did it believe the word of its Toulouse militant and report his statements publicly, without even asking us for explanations?
We understand that the "IFICC", as soon as it noted the le Prol�taire article, and without knowing any of what had gone on, rushed like a flock of vultures to "solidarise ourselves with the PCI militant who is the victim of this aggression" and to conclude that this incident was "the latest illustration of an opportunist and sectarian dynamic which openly developed initially within the ICC � and today with respect to the whole political milieu, seen as class enemies". For Jonas and his acolytes, anything that throws mud on the ICC is good. But what happened to the PCI?
Has this organisation been influenced by the seduction campaigns that the "IFICC" launched in the direction of the groups of the communist left in order to "put them in its pocket" against the ICC? Several militants of the PCI can certainly bear witness to the existence of such a campaign, following the readers' meeting held by this organisation on 28 September in Paris. In this meeting devoted to the Palestinian question, a militant of the PCI started by presenting the traditional position of his organisation (which one can find in a long article of le Prol�taire No. 463, "Aux prol�taires Isra�liens, Aux prol�taires Palestiniens, Aux prol�taires d'Europe et d'Am�rique" [To the Israeli proletarians, the Palestinian proletarians, the proletarians of Europe and America"]). The ICC militants present had, in their turn, presented their own position, criticising that of the PCI. And it was precisely during an intervention of one of our comrades, that Sarah, representing the "IFICC", interrupted twice, saying in substance to him "but it's not what the PCI says", to which our comrade answered, twice, that the PCI was big enough to correct itself if it were necessary. On the other hand, it did not at any time say one word to defend the ICC's position on the national and colonial question (which the "IFICC" still claims to defend). It was only at the end of the meeting, and after doffing her cap to the PCI's presentation on the Palestinian question (even if she did pay lip service to the idea that she had some disagreements with it), that Sarah made an intervention, but on a subject that was not directly on the agenda: the situation in Argentina. And this intervention was devoted to vehemently denouncing "the indifference" of the ICC in connection with the movements which had occurred in this country at the end of 2001. It should besides be noted that she did not say a word of criticism on the article published in le Prol�taire No. 460 ("Les cacerolazos ont pu renverser les pr�sidents, Pour combattre le capitalisme, il faut la Lutte Ouvri�re"/"The cacerolazos could overthrow presidents. To fight capitalism, workers' struggle is necessary") - an article which presents an analysis very close to ours (see "Argentine, Une manifestation de la faillite du capitalisme", in R�volution Internationale No. 319). The reference to "the indifference" of the ICC was obviously a bait, since this exactly how the PCI often qualifies our position on the national question. Truly, Sarah's seduction manoeuvres were so crude and demagogic that we can hardly believe that they could have an impact on PCI militants. A serious communist militant is not like a crow in his tree and when someone tries to flatter him - like Reynard the fox in the fable - as did the IFICC's representative, his normal reaction would surely be scepticism and prudence, not to release his cheese to the first parasite that comes along!
For this reason, there surely exist other causes of the benevolence expressed by the PCI towards the "IFICC". One of these causes is perhaps that the militants of the PCI, traumatised by the internal functioning which has existed in the past in the Bordigist organisations where "monolithism" was the official rule, are now tending spontaneously to take the side of those who are presented as "oppressed by the Stalinist methods of the ICC", without seeking to know any more. In fact, their reaction would be a little on the same model as that of the councilists who, because the Communist Parties became the enemies of the proletariat, deduce from this that every party is doomed to betray and that it is thus necessary to reject in principle every proposal to constitute a revolutionary party. But there is probably another reason, more fundamental, for the method of the PCI. This is that, like all the other PCIs (Programma and il Partito) it considers that it is The Party, all the other groups of the current of the communist left being only usurpers. The Bordigist conception, contrary to that of the ICC and the Italian Left of the period of Bilan, considers that only one revolutionary organisation can exist in the world. The logical consequence of this vision is to place the ICC and the "Fraction", which officially defend the same position, on the same level. And this is what the PCI claims to be doing in its article. But if it actually takes the sides of the "Fraction", as we saw, it is because the conception of "the PCI alone in the world" leads to the vision that the only relationship able to exist between two organisations claiming to be of the communist left are relations of competition. This leads to the idea that anything that can discredit the other organisations is positive, since this "makes room" for its own organisation. If the "IFICC" can create problems for the ICC, considered by the PCI as a competitor, and discredit it, it is all to the good. Such is probably the logic, even if it is not completely conscious of it, which explains the spontaneous access of sympathy towards the "IFICC" by PCI militants.
In 1978, when the PCI had been invited to take part in the second conference of the groups of the communist left, it announced its refusal with an article published in Programma Comunista (note 7) under the elegant title of "The fight between fottenti and fottuti" (literally, between "fuckers and fucked"). For the PCI, this conference did not have any another significance than to allow each group to try "to kiss" the others. That's the vision which this organisation had of the relationship between groups of the communist left.
The PCI of today does not use this same language and it has criticised some of its past errors. However, we think that there still remains an effort for it to make, to free itself completely from the logic of "fottenti" and "fottuti" knowing that, until now, it has never made the least criticism of the conception expressed by the not very glorious article of Programma Comunista. In any case, even if the PCI did not intend to be the "fottento" of the ICC, it is certainly going the right way about becoming the "fottuto" of Jonas and his "fraction"!
ICC (21 October 2002).
1. This is an updated version of a French expression of archaic origin, clearly indicating a threat. [Translator's note]. Back
2. It is necessary to measure the gravity of such a charge against communist militants, especially after the campaigns orchestrated by the bourgeoisie assimilating the communist left, which refused to go into anti-fascism during the second world war, to the "revisionist" schools who call into question the extermination of the Jews by the Nazis and feed the propaganda of the extreme right. A few years ago, when the PCI had undergone an attack on this question (owing to the fact that it had published the excellent booklet Auschwitz or the Grand Alibi), we obviously gave it our full solidarity. Back
3. In Toulouse, since the explosion of the AZF last year, it is extremely difficult to find conference rooms.Back
4. Thus, at the time of the Lutte Ouvri�re f�te of Spring 2000, one of our militants, Juan, today an eminent member of the "Fraction", was shown to be very aggressive (and, moreover, publicly in the eyes of the militants of LO who attended the "spectacle"), towards an old comrade who wanted to leave our organisation with the prospect of integrating into the IBRP. We had asked him to calm down and thereafter we criticised his inadmissible behaviour. At the same time, we apologised to the comrade who had been insulted and who assumed that Juan's aggressive behaviour reflected a certain "sectarianism" on our part towards the IBRP. It is also the same Juan who threw himself furiously onto one of our comrades and kicked him when a delegation of the ICC presented itself at the home of a member of the "Fraction", to make an inventory of the documents belonging to the ICC which were stored at his place. This physical aggression towards our militant followed upon a provocation by Jonas. Indeed, although he had no need to take part in this inventory, Jonas was present (to our great surprise!) and openly took notes of the discussion between our comrades and the members of the IFICC. It was after one of our comrades had taken the bit of paper on which he had written from the hands of Jonas (without even touching him) that Juan threw himself violently on our militant. Back
5. In support of this assumption, there is in particular his obsession, without trace of proof, about the alleged "the anti-Semitism" of some of our militants and the crude insults which he addresses to our militants and sympathisers. Back
6. Moreover, as if by chance, it was after the publication of this article of le Prol�taire, that Jonas finally left the shadows, as witness the fact that he that he found the audacity to sign a "contribution" (on the elections in Germany) published on the Internet site of the IFICC (whereas during the three decades that he was in the ICC, he never made the least written contribution to debates). Convinced that he now has "allies" among the groups of the communist left, the �minence grise of the IFICC can from now on give himself respectability by making his first "public" appearance through this article (even if he remains comfortably installed in his slippers and prefers to send his friends of the IFICC to public meetings of the PCI). For our part, we still demand that Jonas call upon a jury of honour. As long as such a jury has not ruled on his case, we consider that this individual does not have any speaking rights in the proletarian political milieu. Back
7. Which was its newspaper in Italy before the split between Il Comunista and Programma. Back