On Organisation

240 posts / 0 new
Last post
radicalchains
On Organisation
Printer-friendly versionSend by email

In an effort to understand why the ICC organise they way they do and why it is the correct proletarian method I am re-reading their pamphlet COMMUNIST ORGANISATIONS & CLASS CONSCIOUSNESS.

Perhaps this would be a useful forum topic for all questions on the nature of organisation? The only problem is forum topics can get 'lost' if no one comments for a while. Perhaps some core topics could be 'stickied' at the top of the forum like they are on revleft.com?

I think my first point could have been put in the Class Consciousness topic started by A.Simpleton but I think the whole question of organisation deserves a space on the forum of its own.

So, here goes...

What is communism? (page 4)

Marx is quoted:

"Communism is for us not a STATE OF AFFAIRS whichis to be established, an IDEAL to which reality will leave (should that be have?) to adjust itself. We call communism the REAL movement which abolishes the present state of things." (German Ideology)

 

However, doesn't this then contradict at the top of page 5:

"Communism will be the result of a conscious and progressive transformation of the old world by the human community, following the violent destruction of former social relations."

Is not the violent destruction of former social relations part of the real movement i.e communism and not apart from it? What I mean is that the destruction of the present social relations are not totally separate from the construction of new ones. They are distinct, will be massively different but they are linked in the process we understand as communist revolution. It is not a mechanical process, one thing ceases then another starts but all part of one process. i.e abolishing the present state of things is at the same time bringing about a new state of things i.e communism in this case.

I have tried to be as clear as possible in writing my thought and confusion, perhaps it is even a semantic misunderstanding. I will try again to explain what I am thinking if necessary.

 

 

shug
On Organisation

"Perhaps this would be a useful forum topic for all questions on the nature of organisation? " Can I risk posting this 30 year old article? I'm doing so not to stir up old antagonisms, but because the issues it raises are still relevant and still to be debated. http://cbg.110mb.com/organisation_2.pdf

radicalchains
CBG

shug wrote:

"Perhaps this would be a useful forum topic for all questions on the nature of organisation? " Can I risk posting this 30 year old article? I'm doing so not to stir up old antagonisms, but because the issues it raises are still relevant and still to be debated. http://cbg.110mb.com/organisation_2.pdf

 

Funnily enough just yesterday I was starting to have a look at the CBG texts, naturally they are of interest to workers interested in the ICC being that they split from the ICC. So the criticisms despite what the ICC might have written in the past about the CBG are worth looking at. However, I decided to go back to the ICC phamplet first then return to the CBG texts once I fully understood or best I could the ICC method.

Shug, can you add anything to my original post in this topic?

Alf
 I agree with the OP that

 I agree with the OP that there is no mechanical separation between the destruction of the old relations and the construction of new ones.  At the same time the most positive work of building a new society can only take off once the bourgeoisie has been defeated. 

The next question is how you see this connecting to our view of organisation?

A.Simpleton
My thought and confusion also ....

As the cliché runs : ...." that could be me talking....."

An important topic to post : it follows naturally from the Class Consciousness post and most certainly 'deserves its own space' . And it is timely considering present willingness to visit or revisit apparently intractable divisions in the spirit of advancing clarity of understanding - though such clarity may affirm difference of principle - rather than strirring up old antagonisms : a refreshing guideline.

I will try to do the sensible homework suggested by radicalchains : digest it and comment again . 

If I work fast I may even get my own thoughts and confusion in before Alf tells me the answer ( mild fraternal sarcasm :@})

Two swift points :

* Does my memory serve correctly that the very word  'Communism' was coined ( ha! ) to distance true Marxist revolutionary stance from an ever-more debased use of 'Socialism' ?

* The quote re : 'recipes for tomorrows cooks' deftly and concisely served/serves to disarm the blunt misapprehension that anyone was/is going to seize power 'on behalf of the workers '

However am I alone in feeling that it is an equally deft sidestep to the questions Shug is posing ?

AS 

 

radicalchains
Good revleft post

I quite randomly came across an interesting post on revleft of this general question. Well, not so random, I generally take an interest in the comments made by Left Communists or people who appear to have ideas and positions close to them. It's quite a long post so I'll just offer a preview and also provide the link to the thread.

'Nothing Human is Alien' writes:

"In recent years, an increasing number of people have begun questioning the accepted knowledge, of whatever form, on organization and the role of communists in the class struggle. Both new and veteran militants alike are seeking out the best way to move forward out of the capitalist quagmire we face. This welcome development reflects the beginnings of a renewed proletarian awakening."

"In the interest of continuing and broadening the discussion, I have tried to write up some of my thoughts on these questions, which I have been going over for the last two years. I must apologize for whatever is lacking here, as my conclusions are not yet totally complete. This is but an attempt at a contribution toward reconsideration of these issues, which are of vital importance."

"Are mass parties a thing of the past? They certainly exist. But they are not organizations of the working class, nor can they be. Sure, many were born out of the organic struggles of the working class, and militants even took the lead in constructing them. But they were never going to be tools through which revolution would be made, and at a certain point they ossified and became alien to the class they grew out of."

"When unions became permanent, legal organizations they needed professional bureaucrats to organize the day to day operations. This opened the door for administrators to step in and take control, and they in turn brought individual workers into the bureaucracy when necessary.
The same process occurred with the “workers parties.” Militants were either forced out or co-opted, to become useful in bringing workers back in the fold of “acceptable politics” if and when they got uppity."

"The modern political party is an invention of the bourgeoisie. It arose with their system. Early on attempts were made to use similar bodies for the furtherance of working class interests. But that has proven to be impossible. The working class can’t liberate itself through participation in bourgeois parliaments. It can’t take control of the bourgeois state and use it for its own ends. And it can’t make use of an organizational form created by the bourgeoisie to liberate itself either."

"Parties are now staffed with administrators, seeking self-perpetuation and empowerment. They pursue their own interests by wrangling around to maintain their positions in organizations that rest on elements of their own class, the working class or the bourgeoisie. But they have no interest in abolishing their own positions."

There are many more points NHiA makes however it generally points to a position of no permanent organisations at all and I'm not sure how helpful that is. It would mean individual communists acting in isolation amongst other problems.

http://www.revleft.com/vb/sclerosis-organized-pro-t160423/index.html?p=2219417

Post #12 of the thread by Nothing Human is Alien

 

 

 

d-man
re: organisation

I don't see the connection in the OP to organisation either, but as a comment on some issues with the CBG text; there is a New Left bias with counterposing Luxemburg to Lenin (and also with the reliance on Liebman). It's perhaps good to read Lenin's rebuttal of Luxemburg. There's the typical dumb outcry about the phrase bringing consciousness from the outside (which was not invented by Lenin, but comes from Kautsky's critique of a proposed revision of the Austrian Hainfeld program). Further, on the one hand the text holds that mass parties are over, but on the other it tries to prove that Bolsheviks were in practice a mass party (which I think is true, as Lars Lih argues, Lenin wanted to apply the SPD model to Russia). What strawman idiot actually claims there's a Bolshevik magic key though? The radicals (and revisionists) within the SPD had themselves raised interesting points in debates on organisation/the party, for instance Gustave Eckstein, so there's enough material explaining to the necessity for an organisation that makes it unnecessary to become a Lenin-expert, but anyway, I'd consult Lenin's The crisis of Menshevism (written in 1906) for good measure.

 

kinglear
On organisation

Following Shug's reference above, I've just read Cormack's article from 30 years ago. It's a good read, and still very relevant. It's Interesting on the relationship between the Bolsheviks and the class ( the class usually way ahead!), and on the internal life of the Bolsheviks. "Lenin's position on the organizational question was never a simple cut and dried invariant." But fools rush in where angels dare not. So I will say no more but end with a quote.

"The whole revolutionary movement has to put away it's current timidity. It's the suppression of debate we have to fear. The milieu is too tiny and weak to be able to afford the bottling up of debates inside individual organizations. We have to exorcise the notion that political clarity and cohesion demands either the total agreement of everyone on everything (as in the CWO vision of "programmatic centralism") or the presenting of a united front to the external world as in the ICC."

d-man
re: organisation

radicalchains,

That post on revleft is an article from here. It's probably coming from somebody close to the SPGB view (link to 'World in Common'). They're not left communists. One should remember that the mensheviks and people like Hilferding in the early 20s seemed to be more to the left than the bolsheviks. Did not Martov speak in 1919 speak of the dictatorship of the Bolshevik party, did not the chairman of the Second Labour International say that the emancipation of the working class must be its own work, etc..

King Lear about Shug's reference,

I already mentioned some of the weaknesses of that text. What does it mean that the class usually is ahead of the party? If it only means that the party cannot predict when there will be a strike, mass protest, etc. the point is true, but very trivial. The concluding quote you give tries to rise above both the CWO and the ICC but with such an empty slogan it falls below both.

 

radicalchains
Thanks

Thanks for pointing that out d-man. The reply to a letter (about SPGB) in that blog/publication makes a good point about the general intellectual level within the revolutionary minority and sympathetic elements I think. I did add the caveat before: "...or people who appear to have ideas and positions close to them."

 

edit: Before the bolded bit gets misinterpreted, I mean the level is far too narrow. An even worse there is plenty of anti-intellectualism and a rejection of theory over constant action, regardless of what that action may be. I also mean 'intellectual' in the sense of reading, writing, thinking and reflection not in the sense of people who are specialists in theory. I am also being very broad when I say sympathetic elements, I mean people not necessarily in the 'proletarian milieu'.

A.Simpleton
2 questions d-man : thank you also ...

For the links you have provided : Lenin's rebuttal was very informing in more than one way : viz : the strawman argument 'problem' that so often ( to A .Simpleton at least ) seems to drag alongside the true debate on any issue : for those of us less well versed , it is obfuscating to say the least .

One does not have to travel far into 'The Crisis of Menshevism' to read at the beginning of Lenin's critique ( re: Larin )

 "All these facts are extremely important in forming an opinion of the pamphlet, the value of which lies in the author’s veracity, but not in his logic; in the information he supplies, but not in his arguments."

Am I right in thinking that Lenin's point is to make sure that the reader knows he is replying to the actual state of affairs , the real position he is taking issue with ?

Whereas in his Luxemburg rebuttal , the constant refrain is : 'not so' , 'also not so' , 'again not so..' or 'I did not say this : in fact I said the opposite '

Thus equally ( though the diametric opposite ) making sure the reader knows that he is explaining why he actually has nothing as coherent to 'reject' ( as it were ) ?

e.g.:

"And then she rails against set formulas and invokes the dialectics of Marx! It is the worthy comrade’s own article that consists of nothing but manufactured formulas and runs counter to the ABC of dialectics. This ABC tells us that there is no such thing as abstract truth, truth is always concrete. "

( the cut and paste font went 'mysteriously' red at this point ...it was not intentional :@}) :ED )

Also am I right in assuming that the rebuttal is aimed at statements like : ( On The Russian Revolution : chapter 6 : The Problem Of The Dictatorship : Luxemburg )

"The tacit assumption underlying the Lenin-Trotsky theory of dictatorship is this: that the socialist transformation is something for which a ready-made formula lies completed in the pocket of the revolutionary party, which needs only to be carried out energetically in practice ....."

It is a 'tacit assumption' ( i.e one that is not necessarily there ) Lenin has to rebutt ? That he has 'the magic answer' in his pocket book ?

As he says : he does not . And what is more , such an idea is anathema to the ABC of Marxian dialectics.

Or am I barking up the wrong tree .

AS

d-man
Lenin in Switzerland

I have a long way to go before becoming a proper Leninist, because when he was in Swiss exile, Lenin would receive 300 letters a week from across the globe and reply:

www.youtube.com/watch

 Maybe it's best to read the man himself, or a decent contemporary commentator:

platypus1917.org/2009/02/23/notes-on-lenin-what-is-to-be-done-platypus-neo-leninism/

Jock
CBG Inaccuracies

Came across this comment. "We have to exorcise the notion that political clarity and cohesion demands either the total agreement of everyone on everything (as in the CWO vision of "programmatic centralism")".

Just in case anyone gets the wrong idea the CWO does not adhere to "programmatic centralism" and has not done so since about 1980. It did not mean total agreement on everything as Cormack's text erroneously maintained but that we tried to resolve all differences without resorting to votes. We now accept that "democratic centralism" (i.e we still try to resolve all differences by discussion but have a vote to settle some issues (although even that is not decisive sicne the same issues can be raised again).

This is not the only inaccuracy in Cormack's jeremiad (the CWO has many new members who Cormack has never meet - but at least Cormack has acknowledged that in direct correspondence with us). Shug keeps asking us to look at this text (he posted it on our site too) but it would be better if the present concerns which he considers valid were underlined rather than lost in an out of date picture (and it is probably the same for the ICC but I cannot speak for them).

shug
I posted the link not to get

I posted the link not to get up anyone’s nose, but because it seems to present a picture of a rev. org. that is more encompassing and more flexible than the template that seems to be offered by the ICC and ICT. Without trying to be apocalyptic, the present global crisis does seem pretty profound, and while there are some encouraging signs globally of resistance, it’s difficult to see the beginnings of generalised struggle. It’s certainly difficult to recognise rev.orgs. gaining strength; yes, I know that the ICT has gained new contacts internationally, and I’m sure the ICC has done the same, but a few individuals attracted to left com positions doesn’t alter the fact that the communist left remains so miniscule that it can play no significant part in the unfolding of events. This seems worthy of discussion, as does the total remoteness of a new International – and it doesn’t strike me as defeatism to at least debate this. I don’t believe that the situation would be solved if both currents simply had a different mode of organisation, or were more open to fraternal work, but for all that, the acrimony that bubbles up from time to time in print and on the net is depressing stuff . The basic class lines of the com left should be enough to unite the pitifully few of us ( just what does it say about the ICC’s responsibility to the class that it can brand fellow-travellers as ‘parasites’ ?).

jk1921
Shug raises an interesting

Shug raises an interesting point, i.e. the numerical weakness of communist left forces today. Although, IIRC, the communist minorities were only able to pay a role in the unfolding of events after 1917: in fact, they didn't exist as a distict current until this time. Should left communist organizations emphasize unity or the confrontation of positions today? Are these in contradiction?

Fred
Kinglear quoted a paragraph

Kinglear quoted a paragraph from Cormack's article which d-man dismissed as "an empty slogan". But what's empty about this? "The whole revolutionary movement has to put away it's current timidity. It's the suppression of debate we have to fear. The milieu is too tiny and weak to be able to afford the bottling up of debates inside individual organizations." The timidity - or what may be perceived as such - is associated with the smallness and weakness of the milieu, which, despite the marvels of what gets printed on both the ICC and ICT sites - the quality, analysis, insights contained in articles on both sites is breathtaking in it's proletarian achievement - is hardly read by anyone who isn't already committed to left communism, and probably has little or no effect on any workers anywhere, or on the wider outside world. This is so tragically sad a state of affairs that it's almost heartbreaking. The world capitalist situation is in desperate straits, more people are looking for answers, sometimes even the working class looks as though it's waking up, and in this case it very much needs the direct interventions of it's unified revolutionary minority. But what does it get instead? Sometimes it appears, to an outsider like me, if both the ICC and the ICT want to cling on to the situation as ossified in the late seventies, with two antagonistic and competing organizations each capable of destroying the other (so to speak), busy looking for errors in each others work to jump on. But the cold war finished long ago!

As shug says, the pitiful few should unite. Recently the ICT said it would be "suicide" not to unite, but nothing seems to have happened since. shug of course is a parasite, and I suppose I may be one myself, but I wondered whether there isn't some way back from the parasitic state, any sort of redemption process that can be undertaken! We all need each other so much now. And why did Devrim leave? There's been no debate or discussion about that.

(A small and final point, d-man asks what Kinglear meant in saying that "the class is usually ahead of the party"? This was a reference to the fact that the class produced soviets before the party theorized what they were, and not the other way round. Perhaps this was not a usual event though) ,

Alf
need for unity

 Actually, the history of relations between the ICC and ICT is not one constant cold war. It has gone through different phases, sometimes the two organisations been moving towards more organised discussion and cooperation, at other times the relationship has been very poor indeed. I think there are signs that the two organisations are recognising the need for a better relationship, and this is connected to the rise of a new generation discussing revolutionary politics and asking pertinent question of both groups.

On parasitism one thing needs to be made clear: we have always seen it as a type of political behaviour, not as a genetic deformation which individuals can never escape from. There is absolutely no reason for Fred thinking we see him as "a parasite", and Shug's current attitude to us as shown on this forum and elsewhere has nothing in common with what we term parasitism either.  

LoneLondoner
A look back to the CBG

Since shug has posted an article by Cormack from the old CBG, and insisted that this is specifically not to raise old antagonisms, let me take up some of the points in it in the same spirit.

First of all (ignoring the deliberately offensive language ("Family cliques" etc) with which the introduction is peppered), its description of the life of the ICC does have some basis in reality. In fact, mutatis mutandis and keeping things in due proportion, the situation in the ICC in the 1970s and early 80s was not dissimilar to that of the RSDLP in 1903: it was an organisation that had only quite recently brought together a whole series of small circles and groups, and which was trying to weld these into a single, world wide organisation. This meant that the ICC was still full of what Lenin called "the circle spirit". The old circles were in many ways affinity groups, made up of friends brought together on a roughly political basis, but also riven by the petty squabbles, rivalries, misunderstandings that are typical of groups of friends and acquaintances. In the "circle spirit" there is a natural tendency to support one's friends against "outsiders": political positions become an expression of loyalty towards one's friends, not a matter of principle; it is very difficult to adopt political positions with which one's "friends" disagree.

This was precisely the situation that Lenin attacked in his famous "One step forward, two steps back", in which he answers the accusations of "dictatorial behaviour" leveled at the central committee: Cormack's article repeats these accusations almost word for word against the ICC's "central organs". But as Lenin points out, the so-called "dictatorial behaviour" of the central committee was nothing other than the application of the majority decisions taken by a congress, decisions which cut across circle loyalties and which committed the party to a particular course of action.

This brings us to another issue: the problem of being a minority. I often get the feeling that there is a general assumption that when a split occurs and a minority leaves, then it is by default the majority's fault. But is this really so? When Cormack says"Certainly, the rank and file are free to say what they like in an endless flood of internal bulletins, but all this is worthless in the face of central organs who treat it like a schoolmaster treats his pupils' essays", the reality of what he is describing is that the ex-CBG was unable to put forward arguments which convinced the majority. The disparaging dismissal of the "endless flood of internal bulletins" in fact betrays a lack of interest in a debate that does not go the way want it to. But in an organisation with a real internal life, this is inevitable (and I speak as one who has been in the minority more times than I can shake stick at)! And when you are in a minority, but convinced you are right, then there is only one answer: "patiently explain" (as Lenin said). Impatience is one of the worst enemies of a revolutionary organisation.

What is the "circle" answer to finding yourself in a minority? To denounce the "central organs" for taking all the decisions (ignoring the fact that these central organs are elected by the majority and have to submit their mandate to Congresses at regular intervals, not to mention the fact that the "central organs" are also made up of comrades who have their own opinions which they defend in texts and in their own sections), or simply to leave. Leaving certainly solves the problem of being in a minority: now we are all back together again in our circle where we can say what we like and don't have to take responsibility for a wider organisation. But does it strengthen the communist cause in the working class as a whole?

This brings me to a final point: according to Cormack, all this internal debate "constituted a barrier to our efforts to understand the reality of the struggle". Now, this idea that the ICC was too preoccupied with "internal debate" and not spending enough time concerning itself with the "real class struggle" was by no means unique to the CBG: it was shared, for example, by the groups "News of War and Revolution" and "Pour une Intervention Communiste" which split (the first from WR, the second from RI) to conduct "more effective intervention". And where are they now? Where is their intervention? Where is their contribution to debate? What, indeed, is the CBG's own verdict on their activity as expressed in their final issue? "[The CBG] has not and does not consistently pursue its political goals within the milieu; it has not and does not intervene in the larger class struggle". 

Oddly enough, the CBG at no point in its career seems to have asked itself if it was not itself a part of the problem. Cormack's text denounces "family cliques" in the ICC (let's call them "circles" to keep the language neutral). But what was the CBG if not a "circle"?

cassady
Some comments for Lonelondoner

First of all, I need to make clear that I am the author of the offending article. The article was written more than 25 years ago and to date there has not been a reply from either the ICC or the CWO (ICT) which attempts to tackle the important issues of the organisation question which are addressed there. Both organisations have confined themselves (like Lonelondoner) to what they see as slurs or inaccuracies about their respective organisations.

 

Lonelondoner starts by comparing our situation today (I'm assuming that he's not just referring to the ICC here) to that of the RSDLP in 1903. I think this a grotesque misunderstanding. In 1903 the party could afford to pay upwards of 30 fulltime distributors of the paper. By 1905 there were about 10,000 Bolsheviks. Scarcely a year later that had risen to 34,000. (In passing here, no-one in the current revolutionary movement has seemingly given a thought to what this would mean to us. Both organisations currently take about a year or two to absorb a new member. How could they possibly cope with the mass influx of members they presumably expect in the coming period?) This is not the end of the story - they were embedded in a much larger milieu. By 1907 the RSDLP alone had 84,000 members excluding the Bundist, Polish and Lettish sections.

 

Revolutionaries of the time were then a living, fighting part of the class. Their positions, politics and ideas were a familiar part of public debate. How, in all seriousness, could this be compared to us today? I'm conscious of the security implications but we must be clear what we're talking about here  - WR has, what, 14 or 15 members, I think this is about the same ballpark as the CWO. Our existence, politics and positions are completely unknown within the class. We have zero feedback from the class as a whole. We can't begin to deal with the organisation question until we deal with this.

 

When left communism made a re-appearance 40 years ago we were tiny but we assumed that with the growth of crisis working class resistance and consciousness would grow and this would be reflected in our own numbers and influence. We were right about the crisis, there has been no shortage of working class resistance (deepening of consciousness - hmm - I'm not sure. I still find it difficult to assess the assemblies etc. Something is happening but without the direct intervention of the class organised in the workplace we know this is very dodgy terrain.) But the third part of the assumption has been totally confounded. In some ways, I think the movement has probably lost ground. Our numbers if anything have even fallen and the sense of solidarity has eroded -  the Theory of Parasitism being a spectacular example. This is not the place to return to that particular discussion but I will say this is the single most sectarian and damaging position the movement has ever seen.

 

I don't think we ever really thought through the implications of decadence. The disappearance of the possibility of mass organs of the class outside of specific moments of struggle deprived us of the everyday experience of fractions like the Bolsheviks in the last revolutionary wave where the Maximum and Minimum programme could happily co-exist. 40 years of continuing tininess and isolation surely demands a re-assessment of all the assumptions about organisation we started with. Its hopeless trying to masquerade as a junior version of the Bolsheviks anymore particularly if we start from a fundamental misunderstanding of their experience of organisation in the first place as the original article tries to deal with. At the very least, with such tiny numbers, we need to find a way which nurtures the movement rather than making war on those we disagree with on some level. The CBG argued from its inception that the basis for organisation should simply be the class lines. Everything else should be subject to debate WITHIN the organisation.

 

I don't think its fruitful to spend much time here answering the rest of Lonelondoners post. He wasn't there through the events in question and must make up his mind on hearsay. Suffice to say I don't recognise his version. He seems to think that we should have stayed and argued our case. We never got the chance. We were already being denounced as thieves and gangsters. Falsely I might add. The designation parasites came a bit later in the process when it became clear that we were not going to disappear. WR lost half of its membership in this event in dribs and drabs. The one clear point of concern among the splitters was the toxic behaviour of the central organs over a long period.

 

 

 

 

jk1921
I don't understand the fetish

I don't understand the kind of fetish that had developed over the size of the communist left organizations and the number of members? Left communist organizations are really small. We know this. Why does this cause so much consternation? Isn't the size, strength and influence of the revolutionary organization a reflection of broader tendencies within the class? Why should we be so surprised that left communist organizations continue to have a difficult time extending their influence in a situation where the class is still struggling to get over the traumas of the past: Stalinism, the collapse of Stalinism, the bourgeoisie's persistent campaings around democracy. Why are we so surpirsed? Why do so many seem to get so depressed by this and want to use the organization's small size as some type of indictment of the organizations themselves?

On LoneLondoner's point: It is true that the splitting minorities are not always right. LoneLondoner points to the difficulty of being in a minority--the psychological struggles that go along with not being able to convince the majority of the veracity of your positions, which--presumably--tends to cause intense feelings of frustration. Its a small step from these feelings of frustration to the construction of a "politcal" explanation for your own failures to convince, which leads to splits, recriminations and hurt feelings. I don't doubt that the process he descirbes is real, but doensn't this pose the danger of the majority tending to psychologize possibly legitimate splits and failing to get at the real basis for difficulties? If minorities are not always right, neither are majorities. On what basis is the judgement made? As others have commented elsewhere, it seems that there are not many instances of splits in the ICC that the majority has judged to be "legitimate." Who judges this and under what criteria is this judgment made?

I think LoneLondoner's comments are important in bringing up the "human dimension" of militancy. On some level, these feelings of frustration, etc. are a human reaction to the sense of having been marginalized or of not having your concerns taken seriously-- of not being able to get others to see the importance and urgency of your own concerns. But how do we know when a split is due to a "real political difference" or due to the psychological processes described above. It doesn't seem like it is possible to know with any degree of certainty. We degenerate into a "clash of absolutes" with both sides sticking to their guns and giving no ground. This is of course very off putting for those with no organizational stake in the drama.

LoneLondoner
On the circle spirit again

First of all, in answer to jk1921. I absolutely agree with his point on "the obsession with size": we are small today because that is where the working class is at. We have to make the best of it, face up to the fact realistically, and work at what we can do without fantasizing about the mass organisation we would like to be.

I also agree with jk that the majority is not always right: absolutely. That's why we over-represent minorities and minority positions in our congresses, to make sure that the minority gets a hearing. That's why we put an immense amount of energy into producing our internal bulletins (and translating them into three languages, as far as we are able), to make sure that debate takes place and that all positions are known as far as possible throughout the organisation. But, right or wrong, the only way the organisation can actually act is for decisions to be taken as you go along. For example, if you're going to produce a leaflet in a strike and there is a disagreement over what to say, then you've got to make a decision one way or another and then debate the rights and wrongs afterwards.

I take jk's point about "psychologising" differences, but the real issue is that everybody needs to be aware of the problem, minority and majority alike (and after all, minorities and majorities are not fixed and eternal). One of the most important moments for me in an internal debate came at a point of extreme personal frustration when a comrade said to me "Maybe the reason you're not getting through is because you're not putting your point very well". I took that to heart, and it did me a lot of good. I learned that you need to be patient with comrades, and explain better. And that you always have to bear in mind that you might be wrong. We've also learned over the years that "majority and minority" is not always the best way of looking at things. In a lot of debates, the real problem is lack of clarity, not understanding what the other has said (and vice versa): and the end of a debate is not the "victory" of a position, but a step forward to a better understanding all round.

In a very brief reply on your final point, the reason we haven't considered some of the splits in the organisation appropriate was essentially for two reasons: a) we didn't think that the differences on which they turned justified creating a separate organisation (IP, to take a case in point, left declaring that they were going to defend exactly the same platform), and b) even if they had done so the situation was still extremely unclear within the organisation and the discussions that were ongoing. There was no real clarity as to exactly what the differences were.

jk1921
LoneLondoner makes valid

LoneLondoner makes valid points. I think the difficulty however is that the definition of when differences necessitate the construction of a seperate organization is itself always contested terrain. Certainly, the Comintern did not think that the KAPD should exist as a seperate organization from the KPD. There is no neutral arbiter who can decide when a split is legitimate or not--so the entire conflict tends to assume the form of a clash of absolutes.

When one says that a split is not legitimate, then an explanation must be made for why the split occurred and it seems this tends to fall back on psychological explanations: hurt feelings, pride, frustration at failure, academics who couldn't stand to have their egos subsumed to "majorities" etc. Of course, the splitting minority will tend to deny this vehemently and accuse the majority of personal attacks, slander, Stalinism, etc. Certainly, from a human perspective--the prospect of being dismissed on psychological grounds--is incredibly infuriating. This doesn't mean that the psychological explanation is always wrong--but who determines this?

To those not involved directly, this all tends to look like a totally futile situation, one where it is impossible to arrive at something like the "truth" of what really happened and a desire develops to forget the entire episode and fall back on a "Can't we all just get along?" approach. And that I think is where the milieu is at today. There is a generation of younger militants to whom these splits all look like broing ancient history that totally distracts from the urgent tasks today.

radicalchains
LoneLondoner

LoneLondoner said:

 

"I also agree with jk that the majority is not always right: absolutely. That's why we over-represent minorities and minority positions in our congresses, to make sure that the minority gets a hearing. That's why we put an immense amount of energy into producing our internal bulletins (and translating them into three languages, as far as we are able), to make sure that debate takes place and that all positions are known as far as possible throughout the organisation. But, right or wrong, the only way the organisation can actually act is for decisions to be taken as you go along. For example, if you're going to produce a leaflet in a strike and there is a disagreement over what to say, then you've got to make a decision one way or another and then debate the rights and wrongs afterwards"

 

The importance the ICC apparently gives to internal discussion and clarification is part of what makes them standout in comparison to other organisations in the country, where orders or ideas get doled out etc etc. However, why is it for the most part kept private and not public? There may be thriving discussion and debate but what does the class or sympathetic elements know of it? I think this is part of what alienates small 'intellectuals/academics' (may not be either of these but seen as such) groups from other workers and the class. i.e we can have our discussions and debates but we won't include you, though we have come to the proletarian position on behalf of the exploited class! To me this flies in the face of the emphasis the ICC puts on knowing and understanding working class history of struggle, theory and general education. I think there is a big contradiction here and I don't really understand it. Why is there no discussion in the press apart from say a pamphlet on the transition to communism? Is it partly for lack of interest from outside the ICC? (Obviously there is now discussion on this forum! But when was there last a letter in a paper?)

On discussion cirlces, basically for those not in organisations what is the point of them? Isn't it better to simply join an organisation and start doing work for said organisation. I mean it's all well and good being involved in a discussion group but I think it again is part of a separation from the class, where you can have your own little discussions, perspectives and to some extent hobby interest - I don't mean to denigrate those who participate in them, just trying to get to the bottom of all this. I am not in an organisation and have looked to be involved in a discussion group/set one up but don't really see what it can achieve or what could come of it. Why, if I am serious about working class politics should I not just look to join an organisation?

Excellent thread by the way (because of others comments not because I started it!) and so too is the similar one on revleft. I hope these discussions continue and involve more people.

Alf
internal external

 Radical Chains has raised a very crucial question. It is evident that the ICC has not succeeded in making the richness of its 'internal' discussions sufficiently available to the 'external' movement. But our aim has never been to keep these discussions private. We do not see them as something to be kept hidden, only to be revealed when perfect knowledge has been attained and can be offered, as a gift from heaven, to the working class. We could spend a lot of time looking into the real historical origins of the difficulties we have had in achieving this, which are by no means unique to us.  

In any case, things are beginning to change - to some degree because of the internet and all that goes with it, but above all because there is now much more of an 'external' movement that wants to know what our discussions are actually about.

 

Of course, there are still many in the movement who think that our discussions are not interesting at all, but that's another aspect.    

LoneLondoner
ICC and RSDLP?

cassady wrote:

Both organisations have confined themselves (like Lonelondoner) to what they see as slurs or inaccuracies about their respective organisations.

I think Cassady should reread my post

cassady wrote:

Lonelondoner starts by comparing our situation today (I'm assuming that he's not just referring to the ICC here) to that of the RSDLP in 1903. I think this a grotesque misunderstanding. In 1903 the party could afford to pay upwards of 30 fulltime distributors of the paper. By 1905 there were about 10,000 Bolsheviks. Scarcely a year later that had risen to 34,000.

Actually, I was referring to the ICC in the 1970s. But if the comparison with the RSDLP is "grotesque", then why bother to have written a long article which aims to draw lessons for today's organisations precisely from.... errr.... the Bolsheviks?

cassady wrote:

I don't think its fruitful to spend much time here answering the rest of Lonelondoners post. He wasn't there through the events in question and must make up his mind on hearsay.

Just to correct a misunderstanding on Cassady's part. I was there at the time, in fact geographically speaking I was a lot closer to events than Cassady was, so I probably have a lot less reliance than him on "hearsay". I was also personally friendly with a number of people on both sides of the divide, so I think I have a pretty good overall view of events. And I do remember only too well a good deal of "toxic behaviour", but oddly enough, not from the central organs. But do you really want to go down that route?

cassady wrote:

WR lost half of its membership in this event in dribs and drabs.

Quite true. But compare that to the plethora of small groups (and some less small) that have disappeared altogether and whose activity is now zero: the PIC, "News of War and Revolution", ICO, Spartakusbund, Daad en Gedachte, La Guerre Sociale, La Banquise, the CBG... one could go on and on. We must have got something right

 

Rowntree
I think LoneLondoner needs to

I think LoneLondoner needs to be challenged again when he/she compares the ICC in the 70s/80s to the RSDLP in 1903.  That is surely not a very good comparison? 

jk1921
Rowntree, why do you think it

Rowntree, why do you think it is not a good comparrison? Can you elaborate?

Rowntree
Again I would you refer you

Again I would refer you to the text  by Cassady.  Neither WR nor CWO can field a Rugby League Team! Can we contrast with the Bolsheviks and their links with the working class!  There is a small number of Left Communists in Britain, and unless we unite we will be totally irrelevant in the struggles to come.  

LoneLondoner
It's a limited comparison

The point about this comparison is not to say that the ICC in the 70s was "the same" as the RSDLP. Obviously it was not, and the historical situation was very different (hence my insistance on mutatis mutandis and keeping a sense of proportion). But I think it is possible to make a limited comparison between the two, on the issue of the "regroupment of circles". Ugly phrase I know, but I can't think of a better one right off.

Fred
radical chains asks: "why, if

radical chains asks: "why, if I am serious about working class politics should I not just look to join an organization?" I suppose this is what's called a rhetorical question, because it doesn't get answered. And this is a pity, for an answer is needed. A long time ago I thought about what would happen if I had wanted to join the ICC at that time. One answer was I thought they probably wouldn't have me - not smart enough and too shy about speaking up in public - and the other was a sort of unease about being able to survive in such demanding company. Almost threatening at times; almost domineering and unforgiving in the face of questions from someone who didn't already know the answers. This is a very subjective response of course, and could easily be a mistaken one. But it felt real enough at the time. This is not to say that my admiration for the group was not enormous, and I feel I have learned more from them than from any other experience in my life. And this learning still continues. But this almost love of the organization, was also tinged with a smattering of fear. I couldn't understand how an organization of such committed communists, fully conscious of what they were about, and clearly dedicated to the betterment of humanity through the pursuit of the working class revolution, could appear so ruthless. Not just ruthless against the bourgeoisie, who deserve it, but sometimes with each other. This is my personal response. I may well be wrong.

So years later, discovering the various splits within the organization, I was not so surprised; but of course saddened and disappointed at this loss for the working class.

I don't make this "confession" out of any sense of pride, but because I think we should try and understand why we make the decisions we make - especially as
they relate in any way to the revolutionary organization - and what exactly our motivations may be. It's not easy. And this is why I don't think it's okay for radical chains, or anyone else, to leave such important questions as "why they don't join an organization" just hanging in the air. Not at this historical time for the class.

Alf
 If we gave the impression in

 If we gave the impression in the past that you had to be some sort of super-militant to join us, that was our problem not yours. I think we have learned a bit since then though. 

jk1921
Super-Militant

Alf wrote:

 If we gave the impression in the past that you had to be some sort of super-militant to join us, that was our problem not yours. I think we have learned a bit since then though. 

Did Lenin give this impression?

Fred
From our perspective now,

From our perspective now, Lenin, and Trotsky, both seem like super- militants. Is this because they assumed great leadership posts in a government (big mistake) and have achieved fame? Rosa Luxembourg' s superness lies in theory: she was a super-theorist, but was she a great leader? She wasn't a leader like Lenin and Trotsky, but she has led a lot of us to a fuller class consciousness in more recent times. Where does the superness (or "superbness" as my iPad has just intelligently offered in their case) of Marx and Engels lie? In many areas of course; but we don't feel about them that they were leaders like Lenin and Trotsky do we, nor that they were more confined to theory like Luxembourg, though this is to mis-represent her isn't it?

This isn't just a game invented on the basis of remarks by Alf and jk21, for there's a serious issue involved somewhere. Do we want super-heroes in the revolutionary milieu these days? Do we want old-fashioned leadership, or super-militants of the kind that stand out in a crowd, or individuals we can look up to? I'm not sure. I suppose we do and we don't. I think we shouldn't, but suspect we do, just a bit. But we must grow out of this. The class and it's consciousness are all that matter in the end, and anything that smacks of individual greatness, whether in revolutionary fervor or theory, is likely to lead to some sort of leadership syndrome and this will not be helpful because it'll be mis-leading.

What we really need, and may get one day, is a strong international communist party. Strong in the solidarity it emphasizes, rather than in it's individual membership, or elite central committees removed from the class.

The leadership of the revolution in Russia fell for a crucial moment into the hands of the Kronstadt garrison, whose class consciousness and solidarity was running high. They were defeated by an individualistic leadership who had substituted their super-knowingness and super-militancy for that of the class, and thus lost all that had previously given them strength - class solidarity - and which had distinguished them as revolutionaries from the bourgeoisie who they now began increasingly to represent. This is a lesson we must never forget.

d-man
super-militants

LoneLondener wrote:
why bother to have written a long article which aims to draw lessons for today's organisations precisely from.... errr.... the Bolsheviks?

I think Cassady left the question open whether the kind of organisation on a mass scale during the time of the Bolsheviks (and generally everywhere, not just Russia) is, a) desirable today, b) even possible.

If it's not desirable then the comparison has no purpose, so the question then becomes is it 'objectively' possible today to have millions strong organization(s) on an international scale. I think Cassady would say yes, while the ICC's 'pessimism' would preclude it, because of decadence, etc. or the bourgeoisie also having learned their lesson so they will not let it happen again (machiavellianism)...

Perhaps the late 19th - early 20th century massive organisation of the working class was a unique phenomenom in history, never to be repeated. That is the question.

 

Fred, I would agree that Luxemburg, Trotsky did not advocate some sort of idea of a super-militant (here is a text by Trotsky against Nietzsche ). They would all agree with this:

Kautsky wrote:
As an isolated individual, the proletarian is a nonentity. His strength, his progress, his hopes and expectations are entirely derived from organisation, from systematic action in conjunction with his fellows. He feels himself big and strong when he is part of a big and strong organism. The organism is the main thing for him; the individual by comparison means very little. The proletarian fights with the utmost devotion as part of the anonymous mass, without prospect of personal advantage or personal glory, performing his duty in any post assigned to him, with a voluntary discipline which pervades all his feelings and thoughts.

Quite different is the case of the intellectual. He fights not by means of power, but by argument. His weapons are his personal knowledge, his personal ability and his personal convictions. He can attain a position only through his personal abilities. Hence the freest play for these seems to him the prime condition for success. It is only with difficulty that he submits to serving as a part which is subordinate to the whole, and then only from necessity, not from inclination. He recognises the need of discipline only for the masses, not for the select few. And naturally he counts himself among the latter.

 

LoneLondoner
A good point from Kautsky

I think d-man's quote from Kautsky is very useful, though I would not put it quite like that. Rather than saying that the individual counts for very little, perhaps it is better to say that the individual counts inasmuch as he is part of the organisation. Every individual is different, and what every individual brings to the organisation is therefore different. Individuals change over time, so what they bring to the organisation will change over time also. In that sense, what we want is not "super-militants" but comrades who give their best to the organisation. And what is certainly true is that the organisation is not there for the "self-realisation" (fashionable term in the '60s and '70s) of the individual militant.

On the question of what kind of organisation, the big difference is between the mass organisations of the ascendant period (as we would call it) of the 19th and early 20th centuries, when the Party literally organised the class, and the more "narrow" organisation. The highest expression of the former was the German SPD which organised millions of workers and in many different aspects of their lives, not just political but social, cultural, even sporting. What Lenin realised was that the period was changing, and that the Party in the period of revolution would have to be much more strictly defined in terms of militants committed to the defence of a specific platform.

In this sense, the ICC still looks to the Bolsheviks and to the Communist International as models in the historic period of decadence. This doesn't mean that we think we can be the Bolsheviks today, the conditions are obviously not ripe: in building an organisation you have to be realistic about what is possible and what is not. That said, even if we talk about a smaller organisation than the SPD, I find it hard to imagine a revolution without an international party numbering in the 1000s, if not the 10,000s. 

But does that mean that there is nothing to be learned from the organisations of the past? I think not. For example, in the discussions on Marxism and science, which led us to publish articles on Darwinism and to invite scientists to speak at our congresses, we drew inspiration from the SPD and its Neue Zeit. And similarly, when we looked at the problem of circles and the "circle spirit" we learned much from what Lenin had to say on the subject.

d-man
the more members the more problems

Well I claimed earlier that Lenin drew his inspiration from the SPD, not in Darwinism, which is a minor issue (and contrary to the stereotypes, Kautsky thought Darwinism to be irrelevant to Marxism), but exactly in the issue of organisation. In What's to be done he references a book which is very relevant today in light of the occupy movement:

Lenin wrote:
Let us take also Kautsky’s book on parliamentarism and legislation by the people. There we find that the conclusions drawn by the Marxist theoretician coincide with the lessons learned from many years of practical experience by the workers who organised “spontaneously”. Kautsky strongly protests against Rittinghausen’s primitive conception of democracy; he ridicules those who in the name of democracy demand that “popular newspapers shall be edited directly by the people”; he shows the’ need for professional journalists, parliamentarians, etc., for the Social-Democratic leadership of the proletarian class struggle; he attacks the socialism of anarchists and litterateurs who in their “striving for effect” extol direct legislation by the whole people, completely failing to understand that this idea can be applied only relatively in modern society.

Those who have performed practical work in our movement know how widespread the “primitive” conception of democracy is among the masses of the students and workers. It is not surprising that this conception penetrates also into rules of organisations and into literature. The Economists of the Bernsteinian persuasion included in their rules the following: “§ 10. All affairs affecting the interests of the whole of the union organisation shall be decided by a majority vote of all its members.” The Economists of the terrorist persuasion repeat after them. “The decisions of the committee shall become effective only after they have been referred to all the circles” (Svoboda, No. 1, p. 67). Observe that this proposal for a widely applied referendum is advanced in addition to the demand that the whole of the organisation be built on an elective basis! We would not, of course, on this account condemn practical workers who have had too few opportunities for studying the theory and practice of real democratic organisations. But when Rabocheye Dyelo, which lays claim to leadership, confines itself, under such conditions, to a resolution on broad democratic principles, can this be described as anything but a mere “striving for effect”?

Now try to imagine a way to organise millions of people on the basis of direct democracy! It's not possible.

 

 

Fred
proletarian nonentities

Like LoneLondoner I think d-mans quote from Kautsky is very relevant. In a crude and insensitive way it states the difference between the proletariat and the bourgeoisie. It plays down the revolutionary virtues of the worker, whilst playing up the personal virtues of the " intellectual" , which are revealed in the end to be nothing else than stupendously bourgeois. I delight that the proletarian individual is presented as a" nonentity", until that is s/he becomes sufficiently conscious to be organized; and then we do feel big and strong, because we are big and strong as an organized force. That we fight " with the utmost devotion as part of the anonymous mass, without prospect of personal advantage or personal glory" rejoices my heart. For this is something that distinguishes us from the self-seeking bourgeois, who only fights for profit and personal gain. And we embrace a "voluntary discipline" because we are a higher form of life than are the bourgeoisie - yes, even the bourgeois intellectual, now so obviously bankrupt of ideas - and what we fight for benefits the whole of humanity, other life forms, and the planet too.

I don't know whether Kaustsky intended us such compliments. Possibly not. And as for "individualism", well I'll gladly get rid of mine any day, so distorted, guilty and alienated has it become under capitalist enslavement. To change it and become a real individual under a true communist democracy would be a joy. Not so sure about a "direct" democracy though, d-man, not sure what you mean, nor what the "primitive" conception of democracy is. And as to trying to organize millions of people: well, under communism we'll be organizing ourselves, and during the Proletariats' Dictatorship the proletariat will organize us for our own good, not someone else's.

But I'm sorry Kautsky found poor old Darwin irrelevant to Marxism. Darwin of course was bourgeois: but so was Kautsky. Darwin has at least got the theory of evolution going for him. And in so far as Marxism is about the evolution of humanity, and especially the next stage, then we can claim Darwin as a contributor to our scientific development. Can't we?

KT
Kautsky

Good discussion this. After all, the organisation question is absolutely a political question.

Re Fred's last contribution (above): I'd like to think we can embrace the contribution of Darwin. The ICC certainly does, and argues that Marx did as well. But while we're in to hugging people, we must embrace Kautsky too, no? Was he not, at certain moments, under given conditions, part of us as well? The fact that he has become synonymous with betrayal, with a failure to keep up with (to adapt to, if you like) changing events should not negate his previous role in the workers movement, any more than that of Social Democracy itself. 

d-man
Big Party

Well I'm still not clear if the CGB text actually wants mass organisations. The point which I agree with is that the bolsheviks did want it and factually were (a mass organisation). However, LoneLondener states that Lenin wanted a 'narrower' kind of organisation. So here there is a divergence in interpretations. Or so it seems, because maybe a mass organisation is desirable, but just not possible 'at the moment' (being realistic, LoneLondener says).

I don't know about the SPD organizing also the social, cultural or sport aspects of life. Such clubs sprang up probably without asking for consent (and resources) of the SPD. I can even imagine there were also such clubs with bolshevik members in Tsarist Russia.

The fear seems to be that big organisations dilute the principles. So, it's better to stay small! That was certainly not Lenin's idea. It's often said that the working class can't organise itself in capitalist society without becoming part of the system, but my reply is so what? It's the same old worry that once the proletariat takes power, it will become the new exploiting class.

"Direct democracy" is the kind of thing Bordiga spat on. Only, he just unconsciously repeated his critique after Kautsky's (and Bernstein).

 

 

jk1921
The idea that there is some

The idea that there is some kind of ontological difference between "ordinary proletarians" and "bourgeois intellectuals" has always made me rather uneasy. Kautsky's ideas on this read to me like awkward sounding artifacts of a previous cultural period.

I think during the period 1905-1923 there was tremendous confusion in the workers movement about the nature of the organization and whether or not a mass party was desirable/possible, etc. Clearly, the debate between the left communists and the Comintern from 1919 on hinged on this question, in particular the fateful decision by the Comintern to back a merger between the KPD and the USPD left to create the VKPD. I think the continuing obsession over the numerical weakeness of left communist organizations today illiustrates that we haven't transcended these debates. What is the dialectical relationship between the size of the organization and the overall consciousness of the proletariat?

Alf
well said!

 well said jk. I would go further and suggest that the growing obsession with the small size of the communist milieu betrays a lack of confidence in the capacities still semi-latent in the class movement.

 

this doesn't mean that there are not genuine crises affecting a large part of this milieu, and the real danger of our extinction. 

d-man
re:

Kautsky proceeds scientificly to explain the difference between intellectuals and workers, by pointing to the capitalist division of labour.

Kautsky wrote:
An intellectual is not a capitalist. True, his standard of life is bourgeois and he must maintain it if he is not to become a pauper; but at the same time he has to sell the product of his labour, and frequently his labour. power; and he is himself often enough exploited and humiliated by the capitalists. Hence the intellectual does not stand in any economic antagonism to the proletariat. But his status of life and his conditions of labour are not proletarian, and this gives rise to a certain antagonism in sentiments and ideas.

So it is not Kautsky who speaks of "bourgeois intellectuals". And to be clear he is not against people who read, write, think, reflect and are knowledgeable in theory, far from it.

On size, it's not that bigger means necessarily more consiousness, but then the opposite is true as well; small doesn't always have to mean higher consciousness.

And even if nobody would defend Marxism, that wouldn't mean it has become an untrue doctrine; it just means that there are no propounders. But it's true that many approach the question of organisation from the viewpoint that the more people are on your side, the more proof it is for the validity of your doctrine.

-end of ramble

Fred
confidence in ourselves

Those skeptics who tut-tut at the idea of the "subterranean development of consciousness" in the class, may well tut-tut a lot more if they get hold of Alf's suggestion that there could be "a lack of confidence" around in the semi- latent capacities of the class; and that this is what leads some to start worrying about the size of revolutionary organizations. But how do we know about the capacities of the class if they're "semi-latent", or appreciate the consciousness of the class if it's "subterranean". Some might say that such notions are signs of idealism, or indicate an act of "faith" in the ability of the class to ever fulfill it's historic calling. I suppose that materialists are not expected to have something as weird as faith. Doesn't the word reek of religion? But to have confidence in the class at moments of reflux in the struggle, does at times require something like faith or belief. (That I may well be turning myself into a laughing stock I am aware. But let's continue anyway.)

Yet the capacity of the working class as capitalism's grave digger was extremely latent, subterranean, untried and untested in the 1840's, even despite the obvious and great misery in which it existed. And capitalism itself was on the verge of a huge explosion of growth. Yet this didn't stop a group of revolutionaries from setting up the Communist League, writing the Manifesto, and generally exuding a huge confidence in their class and in it's future as a revolutionary force. And this at a time when they really had little material evidence of what the class could do. The big events - the Commune, the first revolutionary wave - were all in the future.

So, as jk has asked, what is the relationship between the proletarian organization and the consciousness of the class? Does the organization have a sort of intuitive connection with the class which allows it to cotton onto "subterranean" rumblings and "latent" potential? And as d-man says, even should the organization disappear - as Alf hints it could, and as a former ICC member on RevLeft points to it's decline - then the validity of Marxism will still remain.

Unlike members of the Communist League we are living in capitalism's senility. That could be an advantage, not just the horrors of decay. We must have confidence in both the class and it's organizations and work for unity.

Fred
danger of extinction

Alf wrote:"this doesn't mean that there are not genuine crises affecting a large part of this milieu, and the real danger of our extinction." This is disturbing. How real, how near, is the danger of extinction? Does it effect the whole milieu, or only the ICC, or just WR? What is being done about this, or is it to be kept secret? After 35 tumultuous years of the ICC, during which time crises have been dealt with , or at least survived, or at worse buried (critics might say), is something shocking about to happen? Shouldn't we know, or am I being impertinent? It's distressing and alarming for the whole class. 

Alf
 I have answered this on the

 I have answered this on the 'conspiracy thread' although it is more appropriate to continue the discussion here.

Hi Fred. I very much welcome your solidarity and concern and above all your call for the sympathsiers to take a more active part in supporting the work of the organisation (although many are already doing this in various ways). I didn't mean to create the impression of an immediate danger, but a longer term one, linked to the more general threat posed by the decomposition of the system. Remember I was also having a go at people who go on and on about how small and weak we (the communist left in general) are without seeing some of the more positive signs of a re-emerging revolutionary movement.

 

 

The current difficulties of the ICC are discussed in the report on our 19th congress   http://en.internationalism.org/ir/146/icc-19th-congress-report.

 

 

radicalchains
Fred

In reply to Fred, yes I would agree some of your initial points probably are part of why I am reluctant to work with/join an organisation like the ICC though would probably not apply to other leftist organisations where they may accept any old person with any old views.

But I think a bigger reason are the disputes the ICC has had in the past with say CWO and CBG and some of the crticisms of the funtioning of the ICC along with peoples reflections on their time in the organisation. Most recently, Devrim's initial comments on revleft. On the other hand, if these disputes and criticisms were as serious and severe as they are written I would not expect the CWO, CBG and others to come back and discuss and debate with the ICC. But they do. This causes in my case a lot of confusion and unease about working with the ICC, though I have distributed leaflets and discuss/put forward some ICC positions where I can. Mainly on-line it has to be said. 

I don't think, in the end these disputes of the past can be sided with one way or the other for people on the outside looking in. You will only know from practical experience...and so I am still inclined to meet the ICC in the future.

jk1921
Here is an old adage that

Here is an old adage that might apply here: "Have a positive experience, you tell one person about it, but have a negative experience and you tell everyone you meet." When evaluating the comments of people who have left the ICC (or CWO, or whatever group) on bad terms, you have to take them seriously, but you also have to put them in the proper context. As RC says, for someone w/o direct practical experience it is difficult to do this. But as Fred points out, the stakes are getting pretty high, how much longer can we sit on the sidelines? BTW, you don't have to join the ICC to contribute to its work, nor do you have to agree with everything it says.

Alf
Alf

I welcome the fact that Radical Chains has expressed his reservations about the ICC while at the same time remaining willing to meet with us. As another old adage goes, there are always two sides to the story....

 

 

Fred
radical chains makes a point

radical chains makes a point I share a lot. "...if these disputes and criticisms were as serious and severe as they are written I would not expect the CWO, CBG and others to come back and discuss and debate with the ICC. But they do. This causes in my case a lot of confusion ( and unease about working with the ICC)..." ( I put the last bit in brackets, because I don't share RC's particular unease, but do share tbe confusion. Fred) What strikes me as weird - it's RC's point again - is that a number of the people who have left the ICC, sometimes in high dudgeon too, dont actually seem to be able to get away from it, or leave it alone, or accept the fact that they themselves decided to leave! (This doesn't apply to the CWO of course, who are a "rival" organization, quite autonomous, and in comradely dispute with the ICC for 35 years). So why don't they come back? Why did they leave in the first place? Are they sorry they left and realize late in the day that they can't go it alone, and that if they wish to make a serious and revolutionary contribution to the class struggle they ought to be in the ICC or ICT, rather than popping up from time to time, on various websites, to re-air their frustrations, and complain that the ICC isnt different from the way it is. And if they want to change it, why aren't they in it? And, if they say it can't be changed from within, because its monolithic, is it likely to be changed by outsiders who left it? I don't think so.

RC also says that people on tbe outside looking in, aren't really in a position to take sides. This may be true. But I'm only on tbe side of the working class in all of this (like most readers of this forum) and I see the lack of unity among militants as a big loss for the working class, even if the class isn't aware of this as yet. But the day may come when tbe class starts looking around for its revolutionary organizations, and even for it's communist party. And if this isn't there, and at the ready, then it'll be curtains for the revolution before it even gets going. So lets think about this.

KT
Inside the belly of the beast

 

What Radical Chains and Fred know for certain is that there are a number of people – militants, comrades, call them what you like – who once joined the ICC, spent some time in the organisation, then left it. Some of these ex-members of the ICC have subsequently spent quite a lot of time (often more than a quarter of a century!) telling the proletariat what a bad organisation the ICC is. It is “a racket” (though that particular accusation is not applied just to the ICC). It is ‘Stalinist’. It is “bureaucratic.” It is “degenerating”.

We’re told the ICC holds endless internal discussions. Or that it doesn’t hold enough discussion. Or it hides its discussions - it pretends to be homogeneous, when in reality its holds many differing views and positions. It invents labels like “parasites” to “silence” or demean former members who criticise it.

It all sounds a bit like Scientology, doesn’t it? Just another ‘cult.’ I mean, there’s no ‘smoke without fire’, is there? Comrades who raise such points can’t be ignored, can they? After all, they’ve been inside the organisation. They know. They’re ‘in the know’.

No wonder individuals who fight their way through the fog of bourgeois ideology – who come to recognise the revolutionary kernel in the praxis of left communism from the 1920s to today – may feel both confused, disorientated and, perhaps, discouraged.

And that’s before you even get to the state of relations between organisations like the ICC and the CWO (or IBRP, or ICT, or whatever it’s called today).

So it’s for comrades like Fred, or Radical Chains, or others that I’m getting off my arse to write this. Because not every militant who leaves the ICC does so with malice in his or her heart. In fact, there exist – to my certain knowledge (which only extends to the English-speaking part of the ICC)  - half a dozen or so ex-members of the ICC who willingly, consciously, deliberately, doggedly and determinedly devote a greater or lesser time, effort and money to defend and support proletarian revolutionary minorities in general, and the ICC in particular.

Yes: there are (in or out of the closet) ex-members of the ICC (people who have been inside the organisation; people who ‘know’) who write articles, books, make translations, attend demonstrations, distribute the press, discuss with contacts and strikers, ‘waste time’ on Internet forums, etc, etc.  

Such militants have “been through” the ICC and consider it more important, far more important, to defend proletarian political positions and practice than give lectures about how this or that organisation might be run better this way or that.

In short, Radical Chains and Fred, not all of us who’ve been ‘intimate’ with the ICC and who, for whatever reason, have left it, wish to denigrate or denounce it. On the contrary. Many of us still consider this organisation to be an essential moment in the process which culminates in the process of the constitution of the proletariat as a class ‘for itself’.

You should be aware of this.

 

 

 

 

jk1921
Well put, KT. I suppose the

Well put, KT. I suppose the questions that might be asked next are "Why did you leave?" and "If you recognize the importance of the work, why not go ahead and rejoin?" This of course raises all kinds of questions about the personal nature of militancy, etc. that might be best explored offline, but what you raise is very important.

Fred
The ICC can appear haunted by

The ICC can appear haunted by the ghosts of past members. Is it the prime organization from which ex-members are proud to say they resigned? But to be serious, I must agree with the sentiments expressed above by jk21 with regard to KT. KT says that he and other former militants have "been through" the ICC and been "intimate" with it, and still consider it an "important moment" in the constitution of the revolutionary proletariat, as a class for itself. This is high praise for the ICC. So if KT values it so much why did he leave? We don't know. But the not-knowing tends to leave a suspicion of there being something wrong, something strange, or abnormal, about the ICC, hanging in the air. Perhaps it would take a le Carre or,even better, a Conrad to analyze the deeper motivations of the revolutionary mind, especially when conjoined in a militant organization.

jk says that this raises questions of a personal nature about militants that can't really be publicly explored. Reluctantly, I suppose he's right. But what about potential militants who might be reading this, how do they get more insights into "the organization" which is the subject of this thread?

I've sometimes thought it must be a marvelous thing to be a practicing revolutionary in an organization of like- minded militants, though it wouldn't suit everyone. This could be romantic idealism, however, for the reality, in so far as we can look in from the outside, appears to be a puzzling mixture of conflicting contradictions. "We’re told the ICC holds endless internal discussions. Or that it doesn’t hold enough discussion. Or it hides its discussions - it pretends to be homogeneous, when in reality its holds many differing views and positions. It invents labels like “ parasites" to “silence” or demean former members who criticise it.". This is KT. He continues: "No wonder individuals who fight their way through the fog of bourgeois ideology – who come to recognise the revolutionary kernel in the praxis of left communism from the 1920s to today – may feel both confused, disorientated and, perhaps, discouraged."

How can this false image - I assume it is false - of the ICC be dispelled? The proletariat itself isn't like this. It's task as a cruelly exploited but revolutionary class is pretty straight forward: develop sufficient class consciousness and international solidarity to overthrow the bourgeoisie and establish the proletarian dictatorship. There's nothing devious, or cunning, or labyrinthine about this. We are not Machiavellian. They bourgeoisie is. So how does it come about that revolutionaries can appear so devious among themselves, and within their organization? Or without as the case may be? (Im not decisively saying they are, just making the case.). The revolutionary organization reflects the consciousness, the ethics, and tbe whole "purity of mind" ( a clumsy and probably silly expression, but it's the best I can do now) of the class that has within it the seeds of the new communist society. So how can the organization get itself in such a mess as to have it's very existence threatened.

I am posting this with good intentions towards left communism, and trust it isn't a muddle.

Fred
correction

In tbe above post I used the expression "purity of mind" to try and describe a quality of mind the proletariat has, and which distinguishes it as a class from tbe bourgeoisie. But I don't think that expression uses the right words. May be "honesty of mind" is better, or at least an improvement.

KT
You asked, so...

No muddle as far as I’m concerned, Fred, just some very interesting points and questions. I will come back to the reasons why I, personally, left the ICC but before that, I think there are somewhat more important things to discuss. Because I share your “good intentions towards left communism.”

If I’ve read Fred right, he’s posing it something like this: if the proletariat is the revolutionary class, bearing within it new relations of production - and by extension, new and ‘higher’ relations between humans themselves and the rest of nature – then how come revolutionary minorities, which are supposed to be the ‘cream of the crop’, seem to make such a mess of things? How come the fallout between Marx and Bakunin; between Mensheviks and Bolsheviks? Between ICT and ICC, and even people within these organisations slagging them off and leaving? What hope for the proletariat if these ‘leading lights’ can’t get it together? Or perhaps, as the councillists and some anarchists say, we don’t need permanent minorities of the class – in fact they’re dangerous!

Big questions. Some aspects have already been addressed on this thread. Here are some of ‘my’ thoughts on the subject, as you asked.....

We argue because we’re human. We’re not machines. Revolutionaries in particular and by nature are (mostly) passionate fighters like the class that constantly produces them (and if it constantly produces them, then it’s because it has a need to and because they have a function to fulfil!). We (mostly) believe in what we’re fighting for, and fight for what we believe in. Our strengths – including will, grit, determination and persistence – can also be our weaknesses: pig-headedness; a refusal to listen; not knowing when to shut up, an unwillingness to admit we might just be wrong or don’t have all the answers.....

Like the class that gives rise to them, revolutionaries are constantly submersed in the poisonous, egoistic atmosphere of decaying capitalism. While their shared vision, mutual confidence, collective work and solidarity are the best antidotes to the destructive rot that surrounds them, the battle is never finally won: there are no definitive safeguards against the incursion of bourgeois ideology just as there are no islands of communism in capitalism. It takes the revolution itself and then the conscious transition to a higher form of society (a process which may take generations) to leave behind the ‘pre-history of humanity’ and produce a new species. But whatever mutual support we can and must try to give each other, we ‘ain’t and can’t be that new super species right here, right now. Understand that. Get over it. Get on with it.

This is linked to the unique nature of the proletariat: unlike previous revolutionary classes, it has no permanent economic base on which to build within the decaying society.  In fact it only manifests itself openly as the coming force, the future of humanity, at certain heightened moments of struggle when its power and potential is apparent for all to see (including, most importantly, to the proletariat itself!!). For the rest of the time, at least in the decadence of capitalism, it might appear to be sleeping deeply (if twitching and striking out whilst in slumber!) This state of affairs, this specificity of the proletariat, has ramifications and repercussions for its revolutionary minorities, tending to restrict their immediate influence; to hide their real importance; to under-estimate what a triumph it is merely to survive (let alone flourish) years of defeat, physical decimation, political confusion, counter-revolution and, even in the less despicable days of the last 40 odd years, deep and demoralising retreats in open combativity.

Revolutionaries, like the class as a whole, have been divorced from their past traditions, both at the level of organisations and on the day-to-day level. Even decades after 1968, it’s still a battle to connect with them, or even understand why such continuity is necessary – even if we must certainly ‘go beyond’ what once was.

The open class struggle – strikes, demos, etc - doesn’t automatically make things easier: on the contrary, many of the most heated debates, and even splits I’ve witnessed, have been provoked by new questions and problems thrown up by the class struggle, and our inexperience in the face of such situations. No one said it would be easy. No-one gave any guarantees.

It should be clear from the above that revolutionaries aren’t super-beings, the ‘cream of the crop’. They are not immune from the pressures of society or the indignities inflicted on the class of which they are part and product. They make mistakes; they bitch and kvetch; they moan and groan. They have ghosts. It’s not a ‘false impression’ of the ICC or any other proletarian organisation, past or present. It’s the reality. There’s nothing to dispel.

It’s just that this vision, this fixation on real (or imagined) differences, splits and disgraces, is by no means the whole story, or even the most important or interesting part of the story, just as why this or that individual left this or that organisation is fundamentally, pretty mundane and boring. It really ‘ain’t the point.

The point is that for more than 45 years – a time when we were told that capitalism had no fundamental economic crisis and that the working class, if it even existed as a separate class any more, had totally given up its struggle; that there was no need to worry about any future society because the one we had was just dandy – there have existed certain thin red lines which insisted this version of reality was wrong, cracked, mad and would be exposed for the fraud and self delusion of the ruling class that it is.

This website is part of that thin red line. In fact, the organisation behind it is, IMO, the strongest, most resolute, most reliable thread in that thin red line.

Fred asks: “But what about potential militants who might be reading this, how do they get more insights into "the organization" which is the subject of this thread”? When the finger points at the moon, don’t stare at the finger. Look at the moon. Look at this website. Look at the discussions, the polemics, the articles of record which point to and analyse each twitch and convulsion of our class, of our human existence. Look at the discussions on primitive communism and humanity; on ethics; on the organisation and consciousness of different class societies and the rulers and subjugated of those societies; look at the debates on economic analysis, on the history of the workers movement; on Darwin, on science, on ethics; on the general and the specific; on being and consciousness. On intervention and being present in the constant efforts of our class to reawaken.... Grasp that this is just the English version, that it exists internationally, in many languages and that this is not an accident but is indeed there by “intelligent design”! Grasp too that this isn’t just words but the product of being part of and involved in the struggle.... And yes, this is not the only expression of the tendency of the proletariat to emanate its consciousness, even when it’s ‘asleep’...

So Fred, and others like you: talk about the horrors of the ICC if you like. The gossip and the gripes. But if you want more “insights into the organisation,” then look, read and ask. And jump in.

 “I've sometimes thought it must be a marvelous thing to be a practicing revolutionary in an organization of like- minded militants, though it wouldn't suit everyone.”

Well, despite all the caveats and realism I’ve tried to inject, you’re right. It is. You and a new generation are needed and your questionings have a purpose and a conclusion. My original purpose for writing was to say that they (the ICC) don’t boil babies or fry your brain. What you see is what you get. They’re communist militants. Warts and all. It’s not all, or even primarily about, the detractors, the Jeremiahs or even the Judas’s.

And talking of Judas and why I left the ICC, or haven’t rejoined (huh, it would be easier to than writing all this stuff)? Well, fundamentally, after 20 or so years, I got tired. I got 3 kids. I got three jobs to support them. I got a massive retreat in class struggle whereas I had been used to ever-more militant waves of workers’ fight. Maybe ‘the force’ isn’t that strong in me. Hopefully a new generation will do better, go deeper, last longer. But, in case you hadn’t noticed, I’m still here.......

 

 

 

Fred
Wow KT! You've zonked me with

Wow KT! You've zonked me with this superb outburst. We don't get enough such outbursts I think. I'm all for them. And it explains a lot of things, which I'll leave alone for now. In fact it seems a bit of a cheek to come up with anything that might detract from your outpouring. But being a boring old git I will anyway!

Messing about on lib com I came across this, quoted by mikail firtinaci in a thread about the ICC in 2009, which mostly appeared pre-occupied with 'parasitism'. It's from an ICC article from 2005 called "Report on the structure and functioning of the revolutionary organization", and it says: " The working class doesn't give rise to revolutionary militants but to revolutionary organisations: there is no direct relationship between the militants and the class. The militants participate in the class struggle in so far as they become members and carry out the tasks of the organisation. " This is contrary to what I had previously thought, and what I had wanted to raise but won't now. So the class doesn't give rise to individual militants but rather "secretes" the organization to which they orientate themselves, and subsequently join. Have I got this right? It's a new idea for me.

To protect itself from painful harm, the oyster secretes a pearl. Similarly, the working class secretes it's revolutionary organizations and eventually it's Communist International. This is not just for protection against terrible pain, but as a means to the removal of all harmful and agonizing exploitation at the hands of the bourgeoisie, and for all time.

And thank you once again to KT for the excellent elaboration above.

baboon
Yes, I want to support the

Yes, I want to support the sentiments of KT in their entirety. I too worked in the ICC for a good part of my life and defended its positions. I was faced with an horrendous shift pattern and couldn't cope with that and the political work - more mentally than physically. It was a personal relief for me to quit the ICC but it wasn't at all easy and it wasn't a good time. But the ties of friendship that had built up over my time in the organisation enabled myself to stay close to the organisation and continue working with it. The political positions, the defence of clear proletarian positions hadn't altered over time for me, only strengthened. The strength of the ICC is the defence of organisation and everything  flows from that. Therefore it's natural to want to stay close to the organisation and do what one can. Fred quotes from one of the major organisational texts above but it was also the case that these questions were very much new to us in practice and we were learning to behave on the hoof. Many mistakes were made of course but the theoretical framework for the defence of the organisation - which in my opinion many of the splits thought they were above - is the main reason why the ICC has been able to survive. After I left and to this day, I have had the greatest respect for those comrades that remained and those that came back.

Fred
cave of forgotten dreams

When the proletariat wakes up, our forgotten dreams may start to come true.

radicalchains
Thanks to Fred and KT and

Thanks to Fred and KT and others for coming back at this thread and sharing personal experiences with everyone. I think they demystify alot and highlight some straightforward realities.

Fred
a remarkable debate and discussion

I find this thread  amazing. It's full of debate, and lively honest responses of the most human  and committed kind; and genuine discussion in a frank and open manner of many engrossing political and personal points. Re-reading took my breathe away. But what's gone wrong since then? Does anyone know? 

 

radicalchains
Fred

Well, this happened...

http://palebluejadal.tumblr.com/post/114780772253/on-our-departure-from-the-international-communist

There's also a related thread on Libcop in the announcements section.

Personally, I think some of the criticisms are overblown but others point to some real serious problems and there is also some useful self criticism.

Fred
Hello radicalchains. The

Hello radicalchains. The impression I've formed about the departure of the ICC's Turkish section - to my own surprise! - is that it doesn't matter much. I get the feeling that they never really belonged as a section (individuals may have been okay) and that the biggest problem they had was that of language. 

After all they're not lost for ever as comrades-bearing-a-communist-consciousness, and when the next wave of class struggle arrives (and this will start to sort out many of the communist lefts' confusions and bewilderments) they and others can re-group. Many of Leo's posts on libcom prior to the publication of the much-awaited explanation of departure, were actually more interesting than that document itself, I thought. 

The "serious problems" brought up yet again in the Turkish document, and mentioned from time to time in articles that have appeared on this web site,  related generally to the strange doings of the ICC's French section and revolved yet again around "the woman" whoever she is and what ever she did or didn't do.  It's all a mystery that's gone on for far  too long, in my opinion.  But others may disagree. 

After all, the separation between the ICC and our Turkish comrades - and they will remain our Turkish comrades wont they, unless that is they go over to some crazed bourgeois faction on the Syrian  border,  - this "divorce" seems to have been amicable despite the feeble attempts by Ocelan on libcom to read something dark and sinister into it that can be held for ever against  the ICC. But then most of  libcom is condemned eternally to resent and envy the ICC for the consistency and overall clarity of its thought and its historic genealogy. Even lexis is having doubts about anarchism now.  

Link
Come the revolution

Thank you rc for the link to the Turkish section text, I still cant cope with libcom and I wouldn’t have seen this otherwise.   Ive said this before but it I do find it sad to reading of these same problems in the ICC.  I am not at all convinced it’s a problem of poor recruitment as they seem to be saying however but one of organisational objectives.   I know LL explained the current period of introspection in the ICC as a product of a recognition of repeated organisation issues but I am not at all convinced that introspection leads to good conclusions.  Ive gone through a period of personal introspection myself too but frankly that way lies madness -  and in the ICCs case, morality and polemics.  I have nothing but respect for the ICC and the CWO/ICT for maintaining. themselves over the recent decades. In fact as they have contributed on this thread, I will include ex-CBG in this too because they tried to continue active political organisation after leaving the ICC which is far more that I did.  I do not question the validity and strength of the current ICCs or CWOs political convictions or their genuine emphasis on the importance of open discussion.  I do wonder however whether the ongoing break ups in the ICC and the animosity they frequently generate are not related to its approach to organisation or more specifically to what can be achieved in terms of political agreement and unity.  Hence im not sure I agree with the ex Turkish members either but as Fred correctly says, they are still communists and remain part of the workers movement.

The text raises the worrying issue that the ICC sees itself as the only guarantee of a successful revolution and I don’t know whether this is their error or the ICCs.  I do think that the ICC was correct in its early identification of itself as a pole of regroupment but I also think that the CWO performs that role too even if it didn’t agree with the ICC at the time.   My worry is that the ICC has now abdicated from that role with its period of internal navel-gazing.  I do not expect the ICC or any political organisation to be perfect – in fact its probably worse to aim at perfection.   I learnt from the ICC that there can be no such thing as an island of socialism whether that’s in one country or in one organisation.  The ICC does give the impression of trying to achieve that at the moment –  but maybe that is just because nobody is allowed to explain the content of those internal discussions.

The attitude towards discussion and agreement is for me worrying.  Given that all left communists are agreed that the party does not take power, that power resides in the councils, I do not see that  “come the revolution” the working class will allow party militants to take part in councils whilst refusing publically to discuss issues that simply because the party is still discussing it internally.  I can accept that though there would have to be agreement on when the development of a position is a valid argument for (secrecy is the wrong word but I hope you can see what I mean) or when it is not.   To be honest I think that distinction needs readdressing for today too.  I dont question the need or validity of internal discussion but its not a blanket need.  Clearly the discussions that for example LL raises where the ICC has invited in people from outside to contribute, are themselves just as likely to develop positively in an open forum such as this site

I think that in this period of a downturn of struggle then the class lines are what is important and again I accuse the ICC of failing to live up to its own objectives: “At this level it remains valid to say that “the responsibility of revolutionary organisations and the ICC in particular is to participate fully in the reflection going on in the working class, not only intervening actively in the struggles which are already developing but also by stimulating the positions of the groups and elements who aim to join the struggle”

In this period of low struggle then it is right that the discussion focuses on  political clarification on a range of theoretical issues whether the period of transition,  art and culture, experiences of the Russian revolution, post war reconstruction and decadence, the role of an understanding of political economy,  FROP and markets theory, prehistory and so on and so forth.   I don’t mean this has not happened, obviously it has been and maybe I just feel I should have written more on many issues – I just question the current fixation on morality and polemic that appears to have come to the fore of the ICCs concerns.

Yes I do want to know about the madness of Dr Bourrinet but a paragraph or so please not pages and pages of you trying to settle accounts with ex members!!   Horrible expression that, it means take revenge upon and it does seem to have become a policy taken up by both the ICC and its ex-members when they fall out.  Are there lessons to be learnt here, I think so.

I am impressed with the quality of discussion recently on this forum.  I feel disappointed that not more ICC members contribute.  Perhaps that itself is a product of an ongoing view that any external comment should be an organisational view, something which tends to intimidate individuals out of contributing.  An old problem that one.  I felt disappointed that there was not more discussion on the CWO site too but then realised that it is only the English language site of the ICC where this happens.  The rest of the ICC does not host or provoke this level of discussion.  A shame frankly but that’s how it is. Perhaps its down to the telling contributions from demogorgon in what I assume is an allocated role looking after the site.  Perhaps this is down to individual sympathisers, Baboon KT and MH, they have been key.  Perhaps this is down to the contributions from Fred, Jamal JK and RC which go from strength to strength.  (hope im not being condescending,  just buy me a drink one day)

The class lines are primary dividing lines and different organisations are entitled to develop differing positions on the current situation, on organisation and vice versa because I do think it is also valid to say that in this period different positions should be entitled to different organisational expression.  The discussion/confrontation between them can only be fruitful.  So I stress again the implication from Fred’s comment that we should welcome the contributions of the Turkish comrades to international discussion.  In the UK I know (and I make the assumption therefore that the same exists across the world), there are many left communists, genuine communists and isolated working class militants who may not be part of an organisation through past errors and failures of someone or other.  “Come the revolution”, these comrades will need the experience of political organisations like the ICC and CWO to take the lead in discussion of events and in the setting of strategies but they will have important contributions to make to discussion and organisation in the working class.  These comrades don’t usually post in this forum, I assume for fear of or disappointment in the animosity that is likely to be shown.   “Come the revolutionary wave”  the past antagonisms and differences wont be important but working together and solidarity will.  Once the working class takes power, then those political differences will become more important again certainly, so don’t ignore them, but given the recognition that it’s the potential impact of the communist milieu that matters in the revolution itself then nobody should be seeking now to “settle accounts” over past disagreements

So has the ICC the right approach to organisation or more specifically discussion (and the role of internet discussion)?    No one should criticise its effort to build an internationally centralised organisation but from the outside it appears to keep failing to achieve the type of organisational agreement it aims for and in particular failing to enable minority viewpoints to live within itself.  Hyperbole seems to become the watchword for majority and minority alike – albeit given Baboon and KTs point that not all ex-members are antagonistic to the ICC but  then they appear to be capable of displaying the same animosity to others at times

Has the CWO developed the right approach to organisation?   Like KT I once thought of the CWO as representing the uber-party wing of the working class movement.  No longer,  I think that the ICC has taken that position today, because despite Alfs comment,  texts are screaming out for the supermilitant.   The CWO stress the importance of the party and organisation whilst able to hold public meetings and remaining keen and open to discussion despite a lack of contribution on their website forum.  As I understand it, the CWO take the view that in this period, organisation and discussion are ongoing and there is no need for absolute unity in organisation or finality of discussion; hence the ICT is able to function federally and appears comfortably to accept differing positions.  This is a viewpoint that appears to have much to offer.

Do any other working class organisation internationally have a view of internal life that is to be recommended?

I apologize for all the “buts” appearing in this contribution, I assure you that what comes before the but is seen by me as important.  I'll apologize also for the length, perhaps verbal diarrhoea is a byproduct of introspection too.

Demogorgon
"Perhaps its down to the

"Perhaps its down to the telling contributions from demogorgon in what I assume is an allocated role looking after the site."

It's not an allocated role. There have been attempts to co-ordinate activity on our site in the past, but they've failed. At the moment, it's done on an ad hoc basis with individual comrades contributing on an individual basis as and when they will. I reply to the topics that interest me and that I think I can contribute on and what I say should be considered a personal contribution by a member of the organisation rather than a formal statement by the organisation. I don't - as per the statutes - defend positions I don't agree with and occasionally make it quite clear when I disagree with the organisation. Occasionally, a more formal approach is still done when needed (for example, the contributions from ICC members on the thread about the statement on the IFICC).

I'm not sure what's telling about my contributions, but hopefully that's explained the context.

Redacted
Read the text from the

Redacted

Redacted
My advice to all

Redacted

mikail firtinaci
Jamal,If ICC is in trouble

Jamal,

If ICC is in trouble so is the working class. We don't desert the proletariat just because it is in crisis and showing serious signs of a lethal sickness, does not it? My understandign is you support your class and your comrades with constructive criticism and patience.

Also, as Luxemburg said, usually in stagnant times like these what usually grows is opportunism. After all it is a plant that best takes root in swamps without fresh streams.

Fred
Link, Jamal and Mikail

We've just had a frenzied and frantic thunderstorm where I am, like a bombardment from some frenzied and frantic faction of the bourgeoisie. Like the Saudis let loose on Yemen.  So the quiet calm deliberation  of Link's post was very welcome.

So thank you to Link for your thoughtful  calm  considered post about the ICC. No anger or resentment there which is welcome.  I sympathize with your point about the incredibly boring and tedious old fart Dr. Bourrinet. A paragraph about him would have been more than enough for me,  but as Link says, the ICC does love to go on about old scores. But I have nothing further to add at the moment to what Link has said in his post with which I find myself in harmony. And he knows about and understands the mysterious ICC far better then I ever will. 

Jamal has exploded! I empathize and can understand this, but think it not called for. The ICC and the ICT are all we have as class conscious workers.  The ICT tends not to reveal much about itself and its feelings as an organization, whereas the ICC does, though not perhaps intentionally. 

But I think Mikail hits the nail on the head when he says that the whole class is in deep trouble today  and that the ICC, as you would expect, reflects this. As Mikail reiterates:  we don't desert the working class when it's in crisis.

But is the class really suffering such a "lethal sickness" as Mikail appears to think?  Somehow I doubt it. In any case the sickness of the bourgeoisie and  the sickness of its economy far  outdo any sickness of the working class much of whose malaise is actually a reflection of that of the ruling class, not that of the class itself, sick to the death,  and a lamb to the slaughter  as in the 'thirties. 

These are difficult times. But are they the relative quiet before the storm?  They could well be. So don't despair too much just yet. 

Link
Jamal, as others have said,

Jamal, as others have said, don’t give up yet.  When I left he ICC back in the 80s others around me were talking about the death of the ICC then and that was well before the current participators in this forum were involved.  I found their behaviour confusing as indeed I found the ICCs too (not all cliques were amongst those that left)  but the ICC is still around defending class positions.  It has however followed its chosen path and I do think that it is digging a hole for itself  with this strange, unexplained view of  morality.  Fred resurrected an old thread with a quote  from Alf about communist morality needing to be in tune with the goals of the revolution.  Not sure I see ‘an eye for an eye’  the banning of public meetings, rabid insults, the settling of accounts and not criticising central organs as elements of communist society!

 

Calm and collected – thanks for that Fred.  Thought I might get a bollocking for some of the words I used but glad you saw that in what I said.  Hopefully I get more responses in that vein.

 

And Demo, Im probably more concerned that you are acting individually rather than performing an allocated role.  There are a range of task that comrades in the UK need to perform and without your input that would be little evidence of ICC wisdom in this forum.  Additionally though I would like to heap compliments on your writing skills but that’s a bad habit from teaching so I wont. I would just say  I particularly look out for your clear, patient and detailed explanations of issues, may you long keep it up.

 

Ive always found a bit of kiss ass always makes everybody feel better!

Alf
thought and action

I think that jamal should wait for the ICC's reply to the Turkish comrades' text before rushing to judgement. 

I don't know what Jamal is referring to when he talks about public meetings being banned and texts being censored. Perhaps he should ask some more questions before making such accusations. As for running away from open discussion, we have internally and publicly criticised the Turkish comrades for their premature split and have tried to persuade them to attend a number of meetings where the serious differences between us could have been confronted. I won't say more at this juncture because I don't want to pre-empt our response, but I certainly agree with Mikhail's post stressing the need for constructive criticism and patience. 

I will in time try to get back to a number of Link's points, which raise many important questions. I don't think he has understood the depth and seriousness of the crisis we have been going through - a crisis which we think is affecting the whole revolutionary movement today. No doubt we need to explain our point of view about this much more clearly, including on this forum, and there is no doubt that this work in particular has suffered from neglect. But we have also had to reduce the frequency of our printed press, our public meetings, etc. This is first and foremost because we have recognised that the process of 'internal' clarification - which demands no less than a profound and critical reflection about the entire history of the ICC, of its mode of organisation, its activities and analyses since its inception-  has been an urgent priority. But it's also because a crisis inevitably means that not all comrades are able to maintain their militancy, that our resources become more stretched than ever. The loss of the Turkish section is one expression of this crisis of revolutionary engagement, but it's not the only one. 

Of course we also recognise that there can be no separation between the 'internal' and the 'external' fight, and we are certainly facing up to the necessity to take charge of our public intervention in a more conscious and organised manner. But that means precisely not just going back to old routines and repeating some of the mistakes we have been making over the last few years. 

lem_
i haven't really followed

i haven't really followed this falling out or whatever you call it, as the existence of left communism i think is more important than the existence of a left commuist party.

not sure how anyone can really complain about someone being "moral" though. it's a strange hang up, unless you have aspirations on some artist / tyrant status

lem_
oh wow if you're serious

oh wow if you're serious about being all morality being degenerate then you should seriously consisder the possibility that you are lying cheat that no one with half a brain will ever listen to.

it's fine saying that your group is left communist for some abstract reason like "personal freedom" or even a meglomaniacal image of yourself as history maker.

 

but really ? i'm sorry if i misunderstood...

Pages