Latest parasitic attack: LAWV targets ICC

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Over the summer the Los Angeles Workers Voice (LAWV) - actually they now call themselves the U.S.Workers Voice - began a smear campaign against the ICC. In their article, "ICC - What Do They Stand For?" in their publication "The New Internationalist", the LAWV unleashed a barrage of one liners charging that the ICC "specializes in pouring cold water on the workers' mass struggles;" that the ICC seeks to impose "their party dictatorship over the proletariat;" that the ICC seeks "to use the working class to empower themselves;" that our views and tactics are "embarrassingly absurd, and …mainly just give the Communist left trend a bad name" - unsupported by any evidence or argumentation and presented in a manner more characteristic of the worst tactics of bourgeois leftism than the revolutionary workers movement. They even go so far as to falsely charge that the ICC defends the position that the suppression of the Kronstadt uprising in 1921 in Russia was a "tragic necessity" when we have repeatedly defended precisely the opposite position, in published articles specifically denouncing that view (see our article on Kronstadt in this issue, or International Review No. 3 or International Review 104.

All these slanders, distortions, and lies about the ICC are thrown out there willy nilly to distract attention from the very serious criticisms the ICC made in "In defense of the revolutionary milieu: The LAWV's Parasitic Attacks Against the IBRP" in Internationalism 122. It is particularly striking that, if you look beyond the litany of false statements about the ICC, the LAWV article contains no denial or refutation of the essential points of our critique of the LAWV's comportment during the process by which they split from the IBRP and their sudden rejection of fundamental class line positions that they had defended for nearly half a decade. There is no denial of the facts of their secret discussions that excluded the other IBRP member in the US, and which they hid from their own organization, a gross violation of fraternal relations within a proletarian organization. In fact they appear to defend such a breach of revolutionary organizational behavior because of the alleged need to escape the "dictatorial" oversight of the central committee. Nor do they respond to our criticism of their sharp political regression on fundamental class line positions, without explanation - such as their rejection of the proletarian nature of the Russian Revolution, their rejection of the dictatorship of the proletariat, and the failure to make clear their position on the decadence of capitalism, or on the nature of state capitalism.

There are three main currents in the left communist milieu in the world today, the IBRP, the ICC and the Bordigists. The LAWV has already denounced the two main currents, the IBRP and the ICC - as essentially Stalinist, substitutionist, non-proletarian, and a disgrace to the workers movement. It is of course a curious charge against two historic currents in the left communist movement coming from individuals who spent most of the past quarter century as adherents of a stalinist organization that extolled the virtues of Albanian Stalinist dictator Enver Hoxha. Their bizarre political trajectory and behavior today are marked by that terrible experience in capitalism's leftist political apparatus. On the other hand they retain certain non-proletarian political behaviors they learned in leftism -maneuvering, slandering, personalizations (especially their attacks against AS in the IBRP), immediatist and activist misconceptions, the retention of stalinist verbiage and conceptions - like "agit prop", "party building" and the pandering to the daily struggle. At the same time, in their incomplete attempt to break with Stalinism, they have lapsed into grave libertarian errors, mistakenly identifying the grossest Stalinist distortions of revolutionary principles as inevitable manifestations of marxism - leading to their rejection of the need for a centralized revolutionary party, the dictatorship of the proletariat, and the Russian Revolution (after 1918).

The LAWV was particularly scandalized by our pointing to their simultaneous manifestations of Stalnism and libertarianism, which they ridiculed as incoherent oxymoron of "stalinist libertarism." Of course, we did not use that term but they are correct that there is incoherence here, but the incoherence is theirs, not ours.

The LAWV's smear campaign against the political organizations of the communist left reflect an attempt to drive a wedge between the ICC and the IBRP, on the one hand, and the various new groups developing in the US, on the other, in order to isolate left communist forces from the rest of the milieu emerging in North America today. This goal is revealed in the LAWV'statement that "no serious Communist can unite with the ICC today," and that the ICC deems anyone who disagrees with it as "useless or even enemies of the working class." This last slander is particularly pernicious. The ICC doesn't hide its disagreements with other groups. We have enough respect for militants who seriously seek to defend the interests of the proletariat and advance the revolutionary struggle to engage in open and honest debate. We believe that the open confrontation of ideas and political perspectives is a vital aspect of the deepening and extension of class consciousness.The existence of differences between organizations and groups doesn't preclude the ability to work together for the common revolutionary goal. There is no secret that the ICC and the IBRP and its affiliates have long had serious political divergences, but we defend the IBRP as part of the revolutionary political milieu. In fact our original critique of the LAWV was written in solidarity with and in defense of the IBRP. Despite the LAWV's attempt to paint the ICC as narrow sectarians, at the time of the Kosovo War, and the outbreak of the Afghanistan war, we appealed to the LAWV and other IBRP sympathizers in North America to draft a joint leaflet against US imperialism's policies in the name of a united left communism. At the time of Kosovo this proposal for joint action was summarily rejected by the LAWV. During the Afghanistan war, they didn't even bother to respond.

The LAWV's attempt to distort our record on the class struggle is also part and parcel of this attempt to isolate left communism from the rest of the political organizations in the US. What the LAWV calls "pouring cold water on workers' mass struggles" is the ICC's effort to fulfill its responsibility as a revolutionary marxist organization to analyze each struggle, each confrontation, as it arises, to understand the dynamic in which it unfolds, and the balance of forces between the classes, as a basis for determining its understanding of the appropriate intervention to make in such a struggle. Such analysis may be mistaken in this or that instance, but it is important that revolutionaries bring communist consciousness and the analytical tools of marxism to the struggle. As Lenin put it, the mass struggle, needs a mass of consciousness. Marxists are not cheerleaders for the class struggle, indiscriminately hailing and celebrating every little strike or union confrontation because of immediatist or romanticist illusions about the class struggle. Workers face very difficult conditions of class struggle today, in the context of the rising pressures of the social decomposition of capitalism, the political disorientation that followed the collapse of stalinism and the bourgeoisie's ideological campaign about the alleged death of communism, and the efforts by the bourgeoisie to strengthen and refurbish its union apparatus. To fail to recognize and comprehend the conditions under which the working class struggles today and adopt an appropriate intervention is a failure to live up to revolutionary responsibilities.

In contrast to the ICC's analytical approach to class struggle, the LAWV uncritically rushes off to every union called rally or demonstration as if it were some manifestation of autonomous "workers' mass struggle." In the last issue the New Internationalist they claimed that they intervene in a principled manner in these demonstrations. The empty meaning of this "principled" intervention can be seen in a leaflet they published in the same issue of New Internationalist,which they distributed at a teachers demonstration in Los Angeles. Most of the leaflet is devoted to a recitation of the facts of the dispute, followed by some very ambiguous recipes for action which are neither principled nor clear. The LAWV's says, "to advance, and prevent more routs don't new political and industrial organizaions need to be built up?" There's no attempt to give any revolutionary marxist content to this rather ambiguous statement - actually a question, not a statement. One wonders what they really mean, what kind of new industrial organizations … the creation of militant caucuses within the existing unions, the formation of new "class struggle" unions, as some leftists advocate, or mass assemblies and strike committees outside the framework of the union apparatus, as revolutionaries might suggest? What kind of new political organization - maybe a labor party, like the Trotskyists advocate? Why don't they speak openly and honestly to the workers about what they mean? Or do they know what they mean?

As we pointed out in Internationalism 122, "we are now confronted with the presence of a parasitic group of former leftists, with only a half-baked comprehension of communist left positions, heavily imbued with an amalgam of localist, immediatist, activist, and stalinist ideological conceptions from their past, and libertarian distrust of centralization and the Russian Revolution." They now function to distort the positions of the communist left and slander its two most significant political organizations. We appeal to working class militants and political groups to be on guard against the opportunist overtures of this strange political formation. If you wish to understand and debate the political positions of the left communist movement, we encourage you to engage in discussion with the ICC and the IBRP. You don't have to agree with us - after all the goal of political discussion is the clarification of ideas, even if that means better understanding the differences in point of view. We urge that you be on guard against this erratic group of former Stalinists, who after a brief sojourn in the left communist milieu, suddenly claim to be the only coherent, principled left communists in the whole world, and seek to keep the existing left communist groups isolated from the rest of the emerging workers movement in North America and sabotage the process of open discussion and debate among those committed to the revolutionary destruction of capitalist exploitation

JG, 11/10/02.