How the Groupe Communiste Internationaliste spits on proletarian internationalism
We have recently published on our website an article on the intervention of the GCI (Groupe Communiste Internationaliste, Internationalist Communist Group) towards the struggles of the students in France. The GCI is a group which many see as being part of the left communist tradition, but as our article showed, this is a complete fraud. Under its falsely radical flag, the GCI’s leaflet advocated methods of struggle which are quite compatible with trade unionism, while at the same time expressing utter contempt for the efforts of the young proletarians of France to organise themselves outside of the unions, calling on them to “smash the democretinism of the ‘sovereign and massive’ general assemblies, spit on the ‘permanently elected and revocable delegates’”.
In the same way, when it comes to the imperialist massacres spreading around the world, the GCI, which advertises itself as the enemy of all nationalism, now spits openly on authentic proletarian internationalism.
We have already shown this in another article ‘What is the GCI good for’ in International Review 124. Here we pointed out that for the GCI, which has long had a fascination with the methods of terrorism and guerrilla struggle, the majority of armed actions attributed to the ‘Resistance’ in Iraq are in fact expressions of the proletarian class struggle. We cited this passage in particular:
“The whole apparatus of the World State, its services, its representatives on the spot, are systematically targeted. These acts of armed resistance are far from being blind, they have a logic if only we are prepared to abandon the stereotypes and the ideological brainwashing that the bourgeoisie offers us as the only explanation for what is happening in Iraq. Behind the targets, and the daily guerrilla war against the occupying forces, we can discern the contours of a proletariat which is trying to struggle, to organise itself against all the bourgeois fractions which have decided to bring capitalist order and security to the region, even if it is still extremely difficult to judge our class’ autonomy from the bourgeois forces which are trying to control our class’ rage and anger against every kind of representative of the World State. The acts of sabotage, bomb attacks, demonstrations, occupations, strikes... are not the work of Islamists or pan-Arab nationalists, this would be too easy and would only be a concession to the ruling class’ view which wants to limit our understanding to a struggle between ‘good and evil’, between the ‘good guys and the bad guys’, a bit like in a Western, in order to evacuate once again capitalism’s deadly contradiction: the proletariat" (‘De quelques considérations sur les évènements qui secouent actuellement l’Irak’, in Communisme n°55, February 2004).
In fact, according to the GCI, the level of class struggle and class consciousness in Iraq is so high that the principal aim of the invasion of Iraq was to repress the class movement there – the invasion was first and foremost a ‘police action’ by what they called the ‘World State’ against a particularly combative fraction of the proletariat. And in the chaos and slaughter that has followed the invasion, the GCI continue to see a movement of the class so advanced that it has already reached the level of armed struggle.
It would seem that this delirious distortion of the true nightmare gripping Iraq has produced some reactions even among the GCI’s sympathisers. The current issue of their review Communisme, arch 200, no. 58, in fact takes what for them is the unprecedented step of publishing the debate between the GCI and its sympathisers. They begin with a letter which expresses severe reservations about the GCI’s claims about the armed actions and bombings in Iraq:
“Your article about Iraq which appeared in the last Comunismo, despite its attempt to situate itself within a class perspective…..falls into the amalgam and homogenisation typical of the bourgeois analyses of the situation in Iraq, which identify everything going on there with the bloody and indiscriminate attacks that have nothing to do with the proletarian struggle (which is indeed underway there). You fall into the same error when you enumerate certain attacks, undoubtedly perpetrated by bourgeois fractions (the CIA, the Saddamists, Syria, Iran…) such as those at Al Hakim, the UN or the Jordanian embassy during the summer of 2003, as expressions of the proletarian struggle”.
This is then followed by a longer text – whether from the same source or a different one is not clear, but apparently the work of a group – which again expresses doubts about some aspects of the GCI’s assertions about the advanced level of the class struggle in Iraq. It questions the GCI’s argument that the wave of lootings which swept the country in the wake of the invasion could in general be qualified as a proletarian movement, pointing out for example that not only government offices and Saddam’s palaces were looted, but also many hospitals, which were stripped of vital supplies. They also list a number of actions which are more clearly on a class terrain, such as demonstrations by the unemployed or by workers demanding back pay. And while they still appear to agree with the GCI that the “armed actions are for the most part rooted in the working class in Iraq”, they nevertheless say that it is a tremendous error to fall into the same homogenisation that the bourgeois media applauds so gleefully:
“It matters little to us whether these attacks are the work of Saddam partisans, of Syria or Iran, who aim to cover the US in Iraq with mud, of Islamists or the CIA (when they are not the same thing); what does seem clear is that they are seeking to terrorise and divide the Iraqi proletariat, and in our eyes it is a terrible error to fall into the amalgam which is the speciality of the bourgeois media which applauds these attacks, as the GCI does in its article on Iraq which, although starting from a class perspective, contains a good dose of homogenisation and confusion; this is also what the comrades of Arde do when , right away, and with little argumentation, they presented these attacks on the UN or the sabotages as expressions of the proletarian advance”.
The GCI, faced with this criticism, doesn’t back down; on the contrary, it states its horrible amalgam even more shamelessly. For example, faced with the reservations about the bombing of the UN HQ being described as an expression of the proletarian combat, it replies:
“The ‘attack on the UN’ which you so lightly count as bourgeois, using the insufficient criteria that civilians died (in history there have been many violent acts by the proletariat that have produced civilian victims!). It was precisely this attack that was most denounced by all the bourgeois opposition factions in Iraq, in particular those that claim to be directing ‘the armed struggle of the resistance in Iraq’”
In fact, in all probability this was the work of the Zarquawi group, many of whose actions have also been condemned by a host of other ‘resistance’ organisations. But in any case, the GCI is quite ready to applaud such attacks on the ‘World State’, even when the proletarians who carry them out have been “captured by bourgeois forces” – in other words, when they are openly carried out by al Qaida or other bourgeois terrorist gangs. In fact, they justify their delight in seeing the destruction of the Twin Towers with the very same argument:
“In Communisme no 48, ‘Capitalism=terrorism against humanity; against war and capitalist repression’, we commented on the incidents of September 11. At the same time that we showed that the proletariat has an interest in the destruction of the objectives that represent and realise the terrorism of world capital; instead of crying for the civilian victims, as all the accomplices of democratic dictatorship did, we made it clear that this did not imply saying that the attack was accomplished by the proletariat as a class. Moreover, we clearly explained that, even when these attacks are carried out by proletarians in the sociological sense of the term, although they destroy centres of repression and world commerce and although we ourselves, along with revolutionaries all over the world, feel great sympathy for these acts, we are not in support of the organisations that carried out these actions. And so we do not deny that that such actions are carried out by Islamist organisations, which we define as centrist, ie the extremist organisations of social democracy, which constitutes the last and most implacable rampart against the revolution”.
Thus while revolutionaries all across the world denounced the massacre of September 11 as an act of imperialist war (and one in all probability that was ‘allowed to happen’ by the American state to justify its war plans); while we expressed our solidarity with the thousand of proletarians immolated in this barbaric crime, the GCI could only feel its “great sympathy” for the actions of Bin Laden and Co, who are bizarrely defined as “centrists” (which traditionally defines a confused or indecisive fraction of the proletarian political movement…), and who in any case were carrying out an action – the destruction of centres of repression and world commerce – that was “in the interest” of the proletariat.
“To consider that an attack is correct, or as you say to applaud it, because it damages the bourgeois state internationally, this does not imply, for us that we support the organisation that brought it about”. The logic is typically Trotskyist. Just as the Trotskyists use it to support nationalist proto-states like the PLO or Hizbollah or the Kosovan Liberation Army, so the GCI has used it in the past to justify its support for the actions of the Shining Path in Peru or the Popular Revolutionary Bloc in El Salvador.
And indeed for the GCI, for whom the acme of proletarian action is the work of small, secretive, violent groupings, there is no distinction to be made between the methods of the proletariat and the methods of bourgeois terrorism. No wonder the GCI’s critical supporters are confused. They want to be able to see which acts of sabotage, which bomb attacks on coalition forces are carried out by Islamist reactionaries or shadowy state forces, and which ones are carried out by ‘groups of associated proletarians’. What they can’t see is that armed ‘initiatives’ by minorities which have no connection to a class struggling for its own demands and with its own forms of organisation can only be recuperated by the bourgeoisie and turned against the interests of the working class, even if these actions are initially the work of groups acting more or less spontaneously.
Alongside the GCI’s amalgam between class violence and terrorism, their support for the Resistance in Iraq is justified by a hideous distortion of proletarian internationalism. Peppered throughout their reply are quotes from the Mexican anarchist Ricardo Flores Magon. Magon was certainly a militant of the proletariat during the 1900s until he was essentially assassinated by the US state in 1921. But some of the Magon quotes used by the ICG about the First World War show a deep confusion which sets him apart from the clearest internationalists of that time. We are thus told by Magon in 1914:
“When our own die, we should weep; when the imbeciles who fight to strengthen their own butchers die, we should laugh – it leaves fewer obstacles to our struggle for the destruction of the present system. They are not our brothers, those who are dying in their thousands in the battle fields of Europe, Asia, Africa and Oceania. They are our enemies; they are those who want this system to last; they are the lackeys of capital, the church and authority” Regeneracion 202, November 14 1914.
Just to make it clear that the GCI indeed agrees with this appalling passage, they repeat: “Ricardo Flores Magon had no problem delighting in the thousands of soldiers destroyed in the imperialist war of 1914-19… because he knew that they died as forces of the World State of capital, because those being destroyed were not our comrades but our enemies, ie those obedient soldiers who assented to die and kill on the battle fronts as agents of the their ‘own’ bourgeoisie”.
It was never the attitude of revolutionaries like Lenin or Luxemburg to treat the soldiers who were marched off to the front as stupid slaves, enemies of the proletariat. On the contrary: Luxemburg refers to the fine flower of the European proletariat being cut down on the battlefronts. These proletarians, even though they were “falling on the field of dishonour, of fratricide, of self-destruction” (Luxemburg, Junius Pamphlet), remained our class brothers, and that was the basis upon which revolutionary organisations called for fraternisation, mutinies, for ‘turning the imperialist war into a civil war’. Revolutionaries denounced the slaughter on both sides; they did not rub their hands with the sure knowledge that this would lead to the revolution. On the contrary, the longer the slaughter went on, the greater the danger that the working class would not be able to make the socialist revolution and would be engulfed in barbarism.
The GCI takes this attitude towards the soldiers of ‘our’ camp as a model for their version of ‘revolutionary defeatism’ – one which resembles like two drops of water the attitude of the Trotskyists for whom ‘defeatism’ is invariably applied to one side only in an imperialist war. Although they argue that Magon did not make the mistake of counting the opposing armies in the imperialist war of 1914 as his allies, this is more than implicit in the GCI’s attitude when they say: “our position is revolutionary defeatism, and every blow that accelerates the defeat of our own state, which is today the same state doing the work of repression in Iraq, is welcome, although very often the blow is delivered by proletarians recuperated by bourgeois forces”. This is the classic logic of anti-imperialism: we support anything that weakens our own imperialist power. What it ignores is that, on this terrain, the weakening of one imperialist power is the strengthening of the other. Thus the GCI makes itself a direct accomplice of the imperialist war in Iraq.
The GCI has duped many elements searching for communist position with its ultra-radical phrases and violent imagery, particularly those influenced by anarchism. We on the other hand have long maintained that the GCI is a clear expression of political parasitism (see the Theses on Parasitism in International Review 94, or on our website), a grouping whose real raison d’etre is to play out a destructive role towards authentic revolutionary organisations – in the case of the GCI, to the point of advocating violent and even murderous attacks on them. The GCI’s position on the movement in France and the war on Iraq should lead some of the elements influenced by it to reflect about the real nature of this group. For us there can be no doubt that it is more and more openly doing the work of the bourgeoisie, whether or not is directly manipulated by its state forces.
In France, the proletarians take a big step forward in organising assemblies, and here comes an ‘internationalist’. ‘communist’ group to tell them to abandon the assemblies, spit on the principle of elected and revocable delegates, and revert to trade unionist, commando type actions. What could be better calculated to block any real coming together between the communist minority and the mass movement?
In Iraq, this ‘internationalist’, ‘communist’ group sings the praises of the endless shootings, bombings and acts of sabotage, which far from expressing the class movement of the proletariat are a manifestation of imperialist war in a phase of growing chaos and decomposition; they are the work of bourgeois gangsters that are more and more orientated not towards fighting the occupation forces but towards indiscriminate sectarian massacre. What’s more, in making this repulsive amalgam, the GCI establishes a very clear link in the records of the state’s security forces between those who refer to themselves as internationalist communists and those who identify with international terrorism. What better excuse for carrying out surveillance, searches and other repressive attacks on revolutionary groups?
If we add to this the GCI’s record of threatening violence against proletarian organisations, then it should be abundantly clear that this group, whatever its real motives, needs to be recognised as a real danger to the revolutionary movement. Those who want to discuss class politics and proletarian internationalism should break all links with it as soon as possible.
 Arde is a group in Spain which is close to the GCI. The passage above also goes on to criticise the ICC for merely making a “pale copy” of the bourgeois press and talking only of Sunnis and Shiites in Iraq, not of classes. This is entirely untrue. We have indeed talked about the situation of the proletariat in Iraq, and have written about some of its efforts to struggle, but we have recognised that it is facing the most terrible difficulties in affirming its class interests, and is indeed in imminent danger of being mobilised for a bourgeois ‘civil war’.