Reader Correspondence

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Dear Internationalism

Thank you for the copies of your press that you've been sending.  I read the last issue with particular interest, as the economic crisis makes me more urgent about clarifying positions and developing analyses.

Something that has been interesting to me of late is how the far Left and Right wings of capital have been putting forward largely identical analysis of the current crisis - only focusing on finance capital, claiming the bailout was merely to "pad the pockets of the bankers", allusions to some conspiracy of ‘financial elites' behind the crisis etc.  I would call this conspiratorial ‘half-way critique' structural anti-Semitism, and I'm glad to see the ICC is refusing to fall into that dangerous populism.  As always, the Left and the Right are enemies, and I think they will be in many ways indistinguishable from each other, at least on the extreme ends of both.  I fear the neo-fascist populism of figures like Ron Paul will catch on even more than it has.

How will the working class respond to the crisis?  That is the million dollar question.  Will capital turn to the unions or is their reach too diminished except in a few vital industries?

It is sad to see some so-called radicals rallying around Obama, but then again, I guess it's good when people show their true colors.

P.S.:  This is an entirely different conversation , but I'm curious how you explain/defend the Bolshevik betrayal of internationalism at the treaty of Brest-Litvok?  This was in 1918, yet the ICC maintains that the Bolsheviks remained in the proletarian camp for several more years.  Isn't this inconsistent with your position of intransigent internationalism as the cornerstone of all revolutionary positions?

P.P.S.:  I'm also interested in your take on Andrew Kliman's recent articles about the crisis.  November 15th 2008

Communist Greetings, D 

Dear D.

Thank you for your letter, which we received and read with great pleasure and interest.  We can't here answer in detail all the points you raised, but we would like to share a few ideas with you.

First of all, we totally agree with your sense of urgency about ‘clarifying positions and developing analysis' regarding the present economic situation.  We salute your preoccupation.  There is indeed an urgency and great importance for revolutionaries to be clear about what to say to the working class in order to be able to aid it in the process of developing its class consciousness.  Particularly today, because, as we have said many times, the crisis is an ally of the working class, in the sense that it pushes it to confront its mortal enemy on its own class terrain. So, we would like to ask you for comments on any of the economic analyses we develop, and above all, about how to intervene in the class struggle.  What are your ideas regarding this important issue?  We have recently heard a lot of questioning about ‘what to do' in the interventions in the class struggle,  and we would like to hear your ideas as well.

Of course, you are right on point when you pose the question of how the workers will respond to the crisis.  Capital will have to rely on its faithful ally, the unions to derail the class response.   The question is really whether the working class will fall for them.  But this depends on the class' ability to struggle on its own terrain, the terrain of economic demands.  More importantly, though, it depends on the politicization of its struggle.  Will the class be able to extend its struggle?  Will it recognize its identify as a class, that is, will it develop class solidarity in its struggles?  What do you think? Do you think that the working class can politicize its struggle?  Is there a potential for this?

While this issue is extremely important, we regret to say that when we went to the public meeting organized by the New Space and the Marxist Humanist Committee in November, where we heard Andrew Kliman's presentation of his articles on the crisis, no link whatsoever was made between the crisis and the class struggle.  So, while the analysis was made from a Marxist framework that emphasizes the falling rate of profit to explain the crisis, it was not able to really clarify very much because of the lack of the connection between the theory and the practice. All in all, it remained on a purely academic level.  At the theoretical level we believe, as we have developed in many articles on the theory of decadence and the economic crisis, that the falling rate of profit alone is insufficient as an explanation of the crisis.  In our view it is the relative saturation of the global market that accentuates the effects of the falling rate of profit and produces the economic impasse of the global crisis. Kliman tends not to see the current situation as a manifestation of the historic crisis of capitalism, but more as a conjunctural phenomenon, and thus is an inadequate perspective for the workers movement.

We also agree with you that the left and right wings of capital are not different from each other.  To us, it is not surprising that their ‘analysis' of the crisis focuses on finance capital, blaming ‘greed' and lack of regulation, since their primary ideological function is that of mystifying the workers' understanding of what is at stake. Better to blame greedy, dishonest capitalists who "need more regulation" than to recognize that what is at stake is  the utter bankruptcy of capitalism, the global and deadly crisis of capitalism, which can only lead humanity to destruction unless the working class carries out its historic mission: the communist revolution.  

Regarding your question about the Brest-Litovsk treaty, without going into any explanation here, we simply invite you to read our articles in International Review 134, "Germany 1918-19: From war to revolution" and International Review 10, The political confusions of the  Communist Workers Organization (UK)." You can read both articles on our website:  www.internationalism.org.  We have written many other articles on the problems of the Russian and German revolutions, but these two articles should be a good beginning.

Well.....this is it for now.  Hope to continue the correspondence with you.

All the best, Ana, for Internationalism 1/09