Report on the class struggle

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From its inception, the ICC has always attempted to analyse the class struggle in its historical context. Our organisation recognised that it owed its very existence not only to the efforts of past revolutionaries, and those who had acted as a bridge from one generation of revolutionaries to another, but also to a change in the course of history inaugurated by the world wide resurgence of the proletariat after 1968, ending “forty years of counter-revolution” since the last ripples of the great revolutionary wave of 1917-27. But today, a further 40 years after its foundation, the ICC is confronted with the task of re-examining the whole corpus of the very considerable work it has carried out in relation to this historic re-appearance of the working class and the immense difficulties it has encountered on the road to its emancipation.

This report can only be the beginning of such a re-examination. It is not possible to go back in any detail to the struggles themselves and the various analyses that have been made of them, whether by mainstream historians or other elements in the proletarian movement. Instead we will have to restrict ourselves to what is already a rather daunting task: to look at the way the ICC itself has analysed the development of the class struggle through its own publications, principally its international theoretical organ, the International Review, which by and large contains the synthesis of all the discussions and debates which have animated our organisation throughout its life.

The historic resurgence of the proletariat

Before the ICC, before May 1968, the signs of a crisis in capitalist society were already growing: at the economic level, the problems of the US and British currencies; at the social-political level, protests in the USA against the Vietnam war and racial segregation; in the class struggle, Chinese workers rebelling against the so-called ‘cultural revolution’, wildcats by US car workers, etc (see for example the article from Accion Proletaria published in in World Revolution 15 and 16, which actually talks about a wave of struggles from 1965 onwards). This was the context in which Marc Chirik1 (MC) and his young comrades in Venezuela made their oft-quoted (by us at least) prognosis: We are not prophets, nor can we claim to predict when and how events will unfold in the future. But of one thing are conscious and certain: the process in which capitalism is plunged today cannot be stopped? and it leads directly to the crisis. And we are equally certain that the inverse process of developing class combativity which we are witnessing today will lead the working class to a bloody and direct struggle for the destruction of the bourgeois state.

Here are all the strengths of the marxist method inherited from the communist left: a capacity to discern major shifts in the trajectory of capitalist society long before they become too obvious to deny. And so MC, most of whose militant life had been played out under the shadow of the counter-revolution, was able to announce a change in the historic course: the counter-revolution was at last over, the post-war boom was drawing to a close, and the perspective was a new crisis of the world capitalist system and a resurgence of the proletarian class struggle.

But there is a key weakness in the formulation, which could give the impression that we were already entering a revolutionary period – in other words, a period where the world revolution is on the short-term agenda, as it was in 1917. The article does not of course claim that revolution is just around the corner, and MC had learned the virtue of patience in the most trying of circumstances. Nor did he subsequently make the mistake of the Situationists who actually thought May 68 was the beginning of the revolution. But such an ambiguity was to have its consequences for the new generation of revolutionaries who were to make up the ICC. For much of its subsequent history, even after it recognised the inadequacy of the formulation ‘course towards revolution’ and replaced it with ‘course towards class confrontations’ at the 5th Congress,1a the ICC would be plagued by the tendency to underestimate both the capacity of capitalism to maintain itself despite its decadence and its open crisis, and the difficulty of the working class to overcome the weight of the dominant ideology, to forge itself into a social class with its own autonomous perspective.

The ICC was formed in 1975 on the basis of an understanding that a new era of workers’ struggles had opened up, engendering also a new generation of revolutionaries whose first task was to re-appropriate the political and organisational acquisitions of the communist left and work towards regroupment on a world scale. The ICC was convinced that it had a unique role to play in this process, defining itself as the “pivot” of the future world communist party (Report on the question of the organization of our International Communist Current, International Review n°1).

However, the wave of struggles inaugurated by the massive movement in France May-June 68 was more or less over before the ICC was formed, since it is generally seen as running between 1968 and 1974, although there were important struggles in Spain, Portugal, Holland etc in 1976-77. As there is no mechanical link between the immediate struggle and the development of the revolutionary organisation, the relatively rapid growth of the ICC in its early days continued despite the reflux. But this expansion was still profoundly influenced by the atmosphere of May 68, when the revolution had seemed to many to be almost within reach. Joining an organisation which was openly for world revolution did not seem such a big wager at that time.

This feeling that we were already in the last days of capitalism, that the working class was gaining strength in an almost exponential manner, was reinforced by a characteristic of the class movement at that time, where there were only short pauses between what we identified as “waves” of international class struggle.

The second wave, 1978-81

Among the factors that the ICC analysed in the retreat of the first wave was the counter-offensive of the bourgeoisie, which had been taken by surprise in 1968 but soon developed a political strategy aimed at derailing the class and providing it with a false perspective. This was summarised in the strategy of the ‘left in power’, promising a rapid end to the economic difficulties which were still comparatively mild at the time.

The end of the first wave in fact more or less coincided with the more open development of the economic crisis after 1973, but it was this development which created the conditions for fresh outbreaks of the class movement. The ICC saw the ‘second wave’ beginning in 1978 with the struggles of the lorry drivers, the ‘Winter of Discontent’ and the steel workers’ strike in Britain, the oil workers’ in Iran which was organised through ‘shoras’, large-scale strike movements in Brazil, the Rotterdam dockers’ strike with its independent strike committee, the militant steelworkers’ movement in Longwy-Denain in France, and above all the huge strike movement in Poland 1980.

The movement that began in the Gdansk shipyards was a clear expression of the phenomenon of the mass strike, and enabled us to deepen our understanding of this phenomenon by returning to the original analysis of Rosa Luxemburg following the mass strikes in Russia that culminated in the 1905 revolution (see for example the article Notes on the Mass Strike in International Review n°27). We saw the reappearance of the mass strike as the highest point of struggle since 68, answering many of the questions posed in previous struggles, especially about self-organisation and extension. We thus argued - against the vision of a class movement that must always go round in circles until the ‘party’ is able to direct it towards a revolutionary overthrow - that the workers’ struggles had a trajectory, that there was a tendency to advance, to draw lessons, to answer questions posed in previous struggles. On the other hand, we were able to see that the political awareness of the Polish workers lagged behind the real level of struggle. They formulated some general demands that posed more than just economic issues, but the domination of trade unionism, democracy and religion were very strong and tended to deform any attempt to advance onto the explicitly political terrain. We also saw the capacity of the world bourgeoisie to unite against the mass strikes, especially through the creation of Solidarnosc.

But our efforts to analyse the manoeuvres of the bourgeoisie against the working class also gave rise to a very strong empiricist, ‘common sense’ tendency, expressed most clearly by the ‘Chenier’ clan (see note 2). When we observed a new political strategy of the bourgeoisie at the end of the 70s – the line-up of right in power, left in opposition in the central capitalist countries– we found ourselves having to go deeper into the question of the Machiavellianism of the bourgeoisie. The article in International Review n°31 on Machiavellianism, and the consciousness and unity of the bourgeoisie examined how the evolution of state capitalism enabled this class to develop active strategies against the working class, and a further article in International Review n°39, a response to correspondence in International Review n°34 with an element from Hong Kong, LLM, sought to go further into the nature of the consciousness of the bourgeoisie in general and in its decadent epoch in particular (see appendix). To a large extent the majority of the revolutionary movement had forgotten that the marxist analysis of the class struggle is an analysis of both major classes in society, not only of the advances and retreats of the proletariat. The latter is not engaged in shadow boxing but is taking on the most sophisticated ruling class in history, which despite its false consciousness has shown a capacity to learn from historical events, above all when it comes to dealing with its mortal enemy, and is capable of no end of manipulations and deceptions. Examining the strategies of the enemy class was a given for Marx and Engels, but our attempts to continue this tradition have often been dismissed as ‘conspiracy theory’ by many elements who are bewitched by the appearance of democratic freedoms.

Analysing the balance of forces between the classes also takes us to the question of the historic course. In the same International Review as the first major text on the left in opposition (International Review no 18 -3rd quarter 1979, which contains the texts from the third ICC congress), and in response to confusions in the international conferences and within our own ranks (for example the RC/GCI tendency2 which announced a course towards war), we published a crucial contribution on the question of the historic course, which was an expression of our ability to continue and to develop the heritage of the communist left. This text set about refuting some of the most common misconceptions in the revolutionary milieu, in particular the idea, rooted in empiricism, that it is not possible for revolutionaries to make general predictions about the course of the class struggle. Against this notion, the text reaffirms the fact that its capacity to define a perspective for the future - and not only the general alternative between socialism and barbarism – is one of marxism's defining characteristics and always has been. More specifically, the text insists that marxists have always based their work on their ability to grasp the particular balance of class forces within a given period, as we saw again in the first part of this report. By the same token, the text shows that an inability to grasp the nature of the course had led past revolutionaries into serious errors (for example, Trotsky’s disastrous adventures in the 1930s).

An extension of this agnostic view of the historic course was the concept, defended in particular by the IBRP (International Bureau for the Revolutionary Party, later to become the International Communist Tendency, to which we shall return below), of a "parallel" course towards war and revolution: "Other theories have also arisen more recently, according to which 'with the development of the crisis of capitalism, both terms of the contradiction are reinforced at the same time: war and revolution don't exclude each other mutually but advance in a simultaneous and parallel manner, without it being possible for us to know which one will reach its culminating point before the other'. The main error in this conception is that it totally neglects the factor of class struggle in the life of society, just as the conception developed by the Italian left [the theory of the war economy] was based on an overestimation of this factor. Beginning from the phrase in the Communist Manifesto which says that 'the history of all hitherto existing society is the history of class struggle', the Italian Left applied this mechanically to the analysis of imperialist war and saw imperialist war as a response to the class struggle; it failed to see that, on the contrary, imperialist war could only take place thanks to the absence or weakness of the class struggle. Although it was wrong, this conception began from correct premises; the mistake lay in the way these premises were applied. In contrast, the theory of a 'parallelism and simultaneity of the course towards war and the course towards revolution' plainly casts aside this basic marxist premise, because it holds that the two principal antagonistic classes in society can go on preparing their respective responses to the crisis - imperialist war for the one, revolution for the other - completely independently of each other, of the balance of forces between each other, of confrontations and clashes between each other. If it can't be applied to something which is going to determine the whole historic alternative for the life of society, the schema of the Communist Manifesto has no reason for existing and we can consign marxism to a museum alongside other outmoded productions of human imagination".

Although it would be four years before we formally changed our formula ‘course towards revolution’, above all because it contained the implication of a kind of inevitable and even linear progress towards revolutionary confrontations, we already understood that the historic course was neither static nor predetermined but was subject to changes in the evolution of the balance of force between the classes. Hence our ‘slogan’ at the beginning of the 80s, and in response to the tangible acceleration of inter-imperialist tensions (especially the Russian invasion of Afghanistan and the response it provoked in the west): the Years of Truth. Truth not only in the brutal language of the bourgeoisie with its new right wing teams, but truth also in terms of deciding the very future of humanity. There were certainly errors in this text: in particular the idea of the “total failure” of the economy and of an already-existing proletarian “offensive” when the workers’ struggles were still of necessity on a fundamentally defensive terrain. But the text also had a real predictive power: not only because the Polish workers rapidly offered us clear proof that the course towards war was not open and that the proletariat was capable of providing an alternative, but also because the events of the 80s did prove decisive, even though not in the way we had initially envisaged. The struggles in Poland were a key moment in a process leading to the collapse of the eastern bloc and the definitive opening of the phase of decomposition, the expression of a social stalemate in which neither class was able to put forward its historic alternative.

 

The ‘second wave’ was also the period in which Marc Chirik exhorted us to ‘come down from the balcony’ and develop the capacity to participate in the struggles, to put forward concrete proposals for self-organisation and extension as for example during the steel workers’ strikes in France. This gave rise to a number of incomprehensions: for example, the proposal to distribute a leaflet calling on workers in other sectors to join the steelworkers’ march in Paris was seen as a concession to trade unionism because this was a march organised by the unions. But the question posed was not one of abstract denunciation of the trade unions but of showing how in practice the unions oppose the extension of the struggle, and pushing forward tendencies to challenge the unions and take charge of the organisation of the struggle. That this was a real possibility was shown by the echo we received in certain interventions at formally union-called mass meetings, as in Dunkirk. The question of workers’ groups arising from the struggle was also posed (see the article in International Review n°21). But there was a ‘negative’ side to this effort to intervene actively in the movement: the appearance of activist and immediatist tendencies which reduced the role of the revolutionary organisation to that of giving practical assistance to the workers. In the Rotterdam dock strike, we began to take on the role of ‘water carriers’ for the strike committee, and this gave rise to an extremely important contribution by MC (The proletarian struggle under decadence  in International Review n°23) which systematically laid out how the move from ascendancy to decadence had brought profound changes in the dynamic of the proletarian class struggle, and thus to the primary functions of a revolutionary organisation, which could no longer see itself as the ‘organiser’ of the class but as a lucid minority providing political leadership. Despite this vital clarification, a minority of the organisation fell even further into workerism and activism, typified by the opportunism on the trade unionism question manifested by the Chenier clan, which saw trade union strike committees in the British steel strike as class organs, while at the same time refusing to recognise the historic significance of the movement in Poland. The Extraordinary Conference Report on the function of the revolutionary organisation identified many of these errors (International Review n°29).

We saw the second wave coming to an end with the repression in Poland and this also accelerated a crisis in the revolutionary milieu (the break-up of the international conferences, the split in the ICC3, the collapse of the PCI: see The present convulsions in the revolutionary milieu in International Review n°28 and The origins of the ICP(Communist Programme): what it claims to be, and what it really is in International Review n°32). But we continued to develop our theoretical understanding, in particular by raising the problem of international generalisation as the next step in the struggle, and through the debate on the critique of the theory of the weak link (see The proletariat of Western Europe at the centre of the generalization of the class struggle in International Review n°31, and Debate: On the critique of the theory of the "weakest link" in International Review n°37). These two interconnected issues were part of our effort to understand the significance of the defeat in Poland. Through these discussions we recognised that the key to the next major development of the world-wide class struggle – which we defined not only in terms of self-organisation and extension but of international generalisation and politicisation – remained in Western Europe. The texts on generalisation and other polemics also reaffirmed that the best conditions for the proletarian revolution were provided not by war, as most groups from the Italian left tradition continued to argue, but from an open economic crisis, and that this was precisely the perspective that had been opened up after 1968. Finally, in the wake of the defeat in Poland some very far-sighted analyses of the underlying rigidity of the Stalinist regimes were put forward in articles such as Eastern Europe: Economic crisis and the bourgeoisie's weapons against the proletariat in International Review n°34. These analyses were the basis for our understanding of the mechanisms of the collapse of the eastern bloc after 1989.

1983-88: the third wave

A new wave of struggles was announced by the public sector strikes in Belgium and this was confirmed over the next few years via the British miners’ strike, the struggles of the railway and health workers in France, rail and education sectors in Italy, massive struggles in Scandinavia, in Belgium again in 1986, etc. Nearly every issue of the International Review during this period had an editorial article about the class struggle and we published various congress resolutions on the question. There was certainly an attempt to situate these struggles in a more general historical context. In International Review n°39 and International Review n°41 we carried articles about the method needed to analyse the class struggle, responding to the dominant empiricism and lack of framework in the milieu, which could go from severe underestimation to sudden and absurd exaggerations. The text in International Review n°41 in particular reaffirmed some basic elements about the dynamic of the class struggle – its uneven, ‘wave like’ character, deriving from the underlying fact that the working class is the first revolutionary class to be an exploited class and cannot march from victory to victory like the bourgeoisie, but must go through a process of painful defeats which can be the springboard for future advances in consciousness. This jagged contour of the class struggle is even more pronounced in the decadent period, so that to understand the significance of a particular outbreak of the class struggle we cannot merely ‘photograph’ it in isolation: it must be located within a more general trajectory, which leads us back to the question of the rapport de forces between the classes, the question of the historic course.

 

This was again a period of heightened intervention, with a greater focus on intervention at the workplace, on a more active participation in struggle groups etc. Alongside this was the development of the debate on centrism towards councilism, which first manifested itself on the theoretical level - the relationship between consciousness and struggle and the question of subterranean maturation (see Reply to the CWO: On the subterranean maturation of consciousness in International Review n°43). These debates enabled the ICC to make an important critique of the councilist view that consciousness only develops through the open struggle, and to elaborate the distinction between the dimensions of extent and depth (“consciousness of the class and class consciousness”, a distinction instantly seen as ‘Leninist’ by the future EFICC tendency). The polemic with the CWO on the question of subterranean maturation noted the similarities between the councilist views of our ‘tendency’ and those of the CWO, which at that point was openly advocated the Kautskyist theory of class consciousness (understood as something brought to the proletariat from the outside, by bourgeois intellectuals). The article tried to go further into the marxist view of the relationship between the unconscious and the conscious while making a critique of the vulgar ‘common sense’ vision of the CWO.

There is another area in which the struggle against councilism has not been taken to its conclusion: while recognising in theory that class consciousness can indeed develop outside periods of open struggle, there is a long-standing tendency to hope that, nonetheless, given that we were no longer living in a period of counter-revolution, the economic crisis would bring about sudden leaps in the class struggle and class consciousness. This smuggled the councilist conception of an automatic link between crisis and class struggle back in through the window, and it has frequently returned to haunt us, not least in the period following the 2008 crash.

A proletariat on the offensive? The difficulties of politicisation

Applying the analysis we had developed through the debate on the weak link, our principal texts on the class struggle in the period recognised the importance of a new development of the class struggle in the central countries of Europe. The Theses on the present upsurge in class struggle (1984) published in International Review n°37, outlined the features of this wave:

The characteristics of the present wave, as have already been manifested and which will become more and more discernible are as follows:

  • a tendency towards very broad movements involving large numbers of workers, hitting entire sectors or several sectors simultaneously in one country, thus posing the basis for the geographical extension of the struggle;

  • a tendency towards the outbreak of spontaneous movements, showing, especially at the beginning, a certain bypassing of the unions;

  • the growing simultaneity of struggles at an international level, laying the basis for the world generalization of struggles in the future;

  • a progressive development, within the whole proletariat, of its confidence in itself, of its awareness of its strength, its capacity to oppose itself as a class to the attacks of the capitalists;

  • the slow rhythm of the development of struggles in the central countries and notably of their capacity for self-organization, a phenomenon which results from the deployment by the bourgeoisie of these countries of a whole arsenal of traps and mystifications, and which has been shown again in the most recent confrontations.

Most important of these “traps and mystifications” was the deployment of rank and file unionism against the real tendencies towards workers’ self-organisation, a tactic which was sophisticated enough to produce allegedly anti-union co-ordinations which actually functioned as a last rampart of trade unionism. But while by no means blind to the dangers facing the class struggle, the Theses, like the text on the Years of Truth, still contained the notion of an offensive of the proletariat, and predicted that the third wave would reach a higher level than the previous two, which implied that it would reach the necessary stage of international generalisation.

The fact that the course is towards class confrontations doesn’t imply that the proletariat is already on the offensive: until the eve of revolution, its struggles will be essentially defensive faced with the relentless attacks of the ruling class. Such errors were the product of a long-standing tendency to overestimate the immediate level of the class struggle. This was often in reaction to the failure of the proletarian milieu to see beyond its noses, a theme often developed in our polemics, and also in the resolution on the international situation from the1985 6th ICC congress, published in International Review n°44, which contains a long section on the class struggle. This section is an excellent demonstration of the ICC’s historical method for analysing the class struggle, a further critique of the scepticism and empiricism which dominated the milieu, and it also identifies the loss of historical traditions and the rupture between the class and its political organisations as key weaknesses of the proletariat. But in retrospect it places too much emphasis on disillusionment with the left and especially the unions, and the growth of unemployment, as potential factors in the radicalisation of the class struggle. It does not ignore the negative sides of these phenomena, but could not yet see how, in the approaching phase of decomposition, both passive disillusionment with the old ‘workers’ organisations, and the generalisation of unemployment, especially among the young, could become powerful elements in the demoralisation of the proletariat and the undermining of its class identity. It’s also telling, for example, that as late as 1988 (Polemic: Confusion of communist groups over the present period in International Review n°54) we were still publishing a polemic on the underestimation of the class struggle in the proletarian camp. Its arguments were generally correct but it also showed a lack of awareness to what was just around the corner – the collapse of the blocs and the most drawn-out reflux we had ever experienced.

But towards the end of the 80s it became clear to a minority at least that the forward movement of the class struggle, which we had analysed in many of the articles and resolutions during this period, was getting bogged down. There was a debate about this at the 8th congress of the ICC (The 8th Congress of the ICC: the stakes of the Congress in International Review n°59), in particular in relation to the question of decomposition and its negative effects on the class struggle. A considerable part of the organisation saw the ‘third wave’ going from strength to strength, and the impact of certain defeats was underestimated. This had been especially true of the UK miners’ strike, whose defeat didn’t stop the wave but had a longer-term effect on working class self-confidence and not only in the UK, while reinforcing the bourgeoisie’s commitment to going ahead with the dismantling of ‘old’ industries. The 8th congress was also the one where the idea was mooted that bourgeois mystifications now ‘lasted no longer than three weeks’.

The discussion on centrism towards councilism had raised the problem of the proletariat’s flight from politics, but we weren’t able to apply this to the dynamic of the class movement – in particular its lack of politicisation, its difficulty in developing a perspective, even when struggles were self-organised and showed a tendency to extend. We can even say that the ICC has never made an adequate critique of the impact of economism and workerism in its own ranks, leading it to underestimate the importance of factors which take the proletariat beyond the limits of the workplace and of immediate economic demands

It wasn’t until the collapse of the eastern bloc that the full weight of decomposition could really be grasped, and we then correctly foresaw a period of new difficulties for the proletariat (see Collapse of Stalinism: New difficulties for the proletariat in International Review n°60). These difficulties derived precisely from the inability of the working class to develop its perspective, but were also to be actively reinforced by the vast ideological offensive of the ruling around the theme of the ‘death of communism’ and the end of the class struggle.

The period of decomposition

The subsequent reflux in the class struggle, faced with the weight of decomposition and the anti-communist campaigns of the ruling class, proved to be very deep, and although we saw some tentative expressions of militancy in the early 90s and again towards the end of the decade, it was to persist into the next century while decomposition advanced visibly (expressed most clearly in the attack on the Twin Towers and the subsequent invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq). In the face of this advancing decomposition we were obliged to re-examine the whole question of the historic course in a report to 14th Congress (The idea of the historic course in the revolutionary movement published in International Review n°107. Other texts of note on this theme included Why the proletariat has not yet overthrown capitalism, Part 1 and Why the proletariat has not yet overthrown capitalism, Part 2 in International Review n°s 103 and 104 and the ICC 15th Congress: Resolution on the International situation, International Review n°113).

The 2001 report on the historic course, after reaffirming the theoretical acquisitions of past revolutionaries and our own framework as developed in the document from the 3rd Congress, focused on the definite modifications brought about by the entry of capitalism into its phase of decomposition, where the tendency towards world war was obstructed not only by the inability of the bourgeoisie to mobilise the proletariat, but also by the centrifugal dynamic of ‘every man for himself’, which meant that the re-formation of imperialist blocs met with increasing difficulties. However, since decomposition contains the risk of a gradual descent into chaos and irrational destruction, it creates immense dangers for the working class, and the text reaffirms the view of the original theses that the class could be gradually ground down by the whole process to the point where it would no longer be able to stand against the advancing tide of barbarism. The text also tentatively distinguished between the material and ideological elements involved in the ‘grinding down’ process: the ideological elements emerging spontaneously from the soil of capitalist decay, and the conscious campaigns orchestrated by the ruling class, such as the endless propaganda about the death of communism; at the same time, the text identified more directly material elements like the dismantling of the old industrial centres which had often been the centres of militancy in the previous waves of class struggles (mines, steel, docks, car plants etc). But while the new report did not attempt to mask the difficulties facing the class, it examined signs of the class regaining its fighting spirit and the continuing difficulties of the ruling class in enlisting the working class for its war campaigns, and concluded that the potential for a revival of the class struggle was still largely intact, and this was to be confirmed two years later by the movements around ‘pension reform’ in Austria and France.

In the Report on the class struggle in International Review n°117 we identified a turning point, a revival of the struggle, manifested in these movements around pensions and other expressions. This was confirmed by further movements in 2006 and 2007, such as the movement against the CPE in France and massive struggles in the textile and other sectors in Egypt. The students’ movement in France was particularly eloquent testimony of a new generation of proletarians facing a very uncertain future (see Theses on the spring 2006 students' movement in France, International Review n°125, and also the editorial from the same issue). This tendency was further confirmed by the ‘youth’ struggles in Greece in 2008-9, the student revolt in the UK in 2010, and above all by the Arab Spring and movements of the Indignados and Occupy in 2011-2013, which gave rise to a number of articles in the International Review, in particular The Indignados in Spain, Greece and Israel in International Review n°147. There were definite gains in these movements – the affirmation of the assembly form, a more direct engagement with political and moral issues, a clear sense of internationalism, elements whose significance we will return to later. In our report to the October 13 plenary session of the International Bureau we criticised the workerist and economist dismissal of these movements and a temptation to shift the focus of the world class struggle to the new industrial concentrations in the Far East. But we did not hide the basic problem revealed in these revolts: the difficulty of their young protagonists in seeing themselves as part of the working class, the immense weight of the ideology of the citizen and thus of democratism. The fragility of these movements was indicated very clearly in the Middle East where we could see clear regressions in consciousness (eg in Egypt and Israel) and, in Libya and Syria, an almost immediate collapse into imperialist war. There had indeed been a genuine tendency towards politicisation in these movements since they posed deep questions about the very nature of the existing social system, and like previous upsurges in the 2000s, they gave rise to a tiny minority of searching elements, but within this minority there was a huge difficulty in advancing towards revolutionary militant commitment. Even when these minorities seemed to have escaped the more obvious chains of decomposing bourgeois ideology, they very often encountered them in the more subtle or radical forms that are crystallised in anarchism, ‘communisation’ theory, and similar tendencies, all of which furnish additional evidence that we had been very much on the right track when we saw ‘councilism as the main danger’ in the 80s, since all these currents founder precisely on the question of the political instruments of the class struggle, above all the revolutionary organisation.

A proper balance sheet of these movements (and of our discussions about them) has not been drawn and can’t be attempted here. But it seems that the cycle of 2003-2013 has come to an end and we are facing a new period of difficulties4. This is most obvious in the Middle East, where social protest has given way to ruthless state repression and imperialist barbarism; and this horrible involution can only have a depressive effect on workers all over the world. In any case, if we recall our analysis of the uneven development of the class struggle, the reflux from these upsurges is unavoidable and for some time this will tend to further expose the class to the noxious impact of decomposition.

Underestimating the enemy

 

"...According to the reports, you said that I had prophesied the collapse of bourgeois society in 1898. There is a slight error there somewhere. All I said was that we might possibly come to power by 1898. If this does not happen, the old bourgeois society might still vegetate on for a while, so long as a shove from outside does not bring the whole ramshackle old building crashing down. A rotten old casing like this can survive its inner essential death for a few decades, if the atmosphere is undisturbed"  (Engels, letter to Bebel 24-26 October, 1891).

In this short passage the flaw is so obvious that it hardly needs commenting on: the notion of the working class coming to power by 1898 was in all probability an illusion generated by the rapid growth of the social democratic party in Germany. Here a drift towards reformism was melded with the old over-optimism and impatience which in the Communist Manifesto had given birth to the formulation that “the fall of the bourgeoisie and the victory of the proletariat are equally inevitable” (and maybe not so far off…). But alongside this is a very valuable idea: that a society which has been condemned by history can still maintain its “rotten casing” well after the need to replace it had emerged. In fact not decades but now a century after the First World War, we are witness to the grim determination of the bourgeoisie to keep its system alive at whatever cost to the future of the species.

Most of our errors over the past 40 years seem to be in the direction of underestimating the bourgeoisie, the capacity of this class to maintain its rotting system, and thus the enormity of the obstacles facing the working class in assuming its revolutionary tasks. In drawing up a balance sheet of the struggles between 2003 and 2013, this has to be a key element.

The report to the 2014 Congress of the section in France reasserts the analysis of the turning point: the 2003 struggles raised the key issue of solidarity and the anti-CPE 2006 in France was a profound movement which took the bourgeoisie by surprise and forced it to retreat as it posed the real danger of an extension to the employed workers. But following this there was a tendency to forget the capacity of the ruling class to recover from such shocks and to renew its ideological offensive and manoeuvres, particularly when it comes to restoring the influence of the unions. We had seen this in France in the 80s with the development of the co-ordinations and we again recognised it in 1995, but, as the report on the class struggle to the last Congress of Révolution Internationale points out, we forgot it in our analyses of the movements in Guadeloupe and the pensions struggle in 2010, which effectively exhausted the French proletariat and prevented any serious contagion from the movement in Spain a year later. And again, despite our past emphasis on the enormous impact of the anti-communist campaigns, the report to the French section’s congress also suggests that we have been too quick to forget that the campaigns against marxism and communism still have a considerable weight on the new generation that has appeared in the last decade.

Some of the other weaknesses in our analysis during this period are only beginning to be recognised.

In our criticisms of the ideology of the ‘anti-capitalists’ of the 1990s, with their emphasis on globalisation as a totally new phase on the life of capitalism – and of the concessions made within the proletarian movement to this ideology, especially in the case of the IBRP which seemed to be putting the decadence of capitalism into question – we didn’t recognise the truth at the heart of this mythology: that the new strategy of ‘globalisation’ and neo-liberalism enabled the ruling class to weather the recessions of the 80s and even opened up real possibilities for expansion in areas where the old bloc divisions and semi-autarkic economic models had erected considerable barriers to the movement of capital. The most obvious example of this development is of course China, whose rise to ‘super-power’ status we didn’t fully anticipate, although ever since the 1970s and the Sino-Russian split we had recognised that it was a kind of exception to the rule of the impossibility of ‘independence’ from the domination of the two blocs. We have thus been late in assessing the impact that the emergence of huge new industrial concentrations in some of these regions will have on the global development of the class struggle. The underlying theoretical reasons for our failure to predict the rise of the New China will have to be investigated in more depth in the discussions around our analysis of the economic crisis.

Perhaps most significantly, we have not adequately investigated the role played by the break-up of many of the old centres of class militancy in the heartlands in undermining class identity. We have rightly been sceptical of purely sociological analyses of class consciousness, but the changing composition of the working class in the heartlands, the loss of traditions of struggle, the development of much more atomised forms of labour, have certainly contributed to the appearance of generations of proletarians who no longer see themselves as part of the working class, even when they are engaged in struggle against the attacks of the state, as we saw during the Occupy and Indignados movements of 2011-13. Particularly important is the fact that the whole scale ‘relocations’ that have taken place in the western countries often resulted from major defeats - the UK miners and French steelworkers being cases in point. These issues, though posed in the 2001 report on the historic course, were not really taken up and had to be re-affirmed in the 2013 report on the class struggle. This is a very long delay, and we have still not really incorporated this phenomenon into our own framework, which would certainly require a response to the flawed efforts of currents like the autonomists and the ICT to theorise about the ‘recomposition’ of the working class.

At the same time, the prevalence of long term unemployment or precarious employment has exacerbated the tendency towards atomisation and loss of class identity. The autonomous struggles of the unemployed, able to link up with the struggles of the employed workers, were much less significant than we had foreseen in the 70s and 80s (cf the theses on unemployment, International Review n°14, or the resolution on the international situation from the 6th ICC Congress, referred to in the previous section) and large numbers of the unemployed or precariously employed have fallen into lumpenisation, gang culture, or reactionary political ideologies. The students’ movement in France in 2006, and the social revolts towards the end of the first decade of the new century, began to supply answers to these problems, offering the possibility of encompassing the unemployed in mass demonstrations and street assemblies, but this was still in a context where class identity was still very weak.

Our main emphasis on explaining the loss of class identity has been at the ideological level, whether we are talking about the immediate products of decomposition (every man for himself, gang culture, flight into irrationality, etc) or about the deliberate use of the effects of decomposition by the ruling class – most obviously the campaigns around the death of communism, but also the more day to day ideological onslaught of the media and of advertising packaging false revolt, obsession with consumerism and celebrity, etc. This is of course vital but we have in some ways only begun to investigate how these ideological mechanisms operate at the deepest level – a theoretical task clearly posed by the Theses on Morality5 and our efforts to develop and apply the marxist theory of alienation.

Class identity is not, as the ICT has sometimes argued, a kind of merely instinctive or semi-conscious feeling held by the workers, to be distinguished from the true class consciousness preserved by the party. It is itself an integral aspect of class consciousness, part of the process whereby the proletariat recognises itself as a distinct class with a unique role and potential in capitalist society. Furthermore, it is not limited to the purely economic domain but from the beginning had a powerfully cultural and moral element: as Rosa Luxemburg put it, the workers’ movement is not limited to “bread and butter issues” but is a “great cultural movement” The workers’ movement of the 19th century thus encompassed not only struggles for immediate economic or political demands, but the organisation of education, of debates about art and science, of sport and leisure activities and so on. The movement provided a whole milieu in which proletarians and their families could associate outside the workplace, strengthening the conviction that the working class was the true heir of all that was healthy in previous expressions of human culture. This kind of working class movement reached its peak in the period of social democracy but this was also the prelude to its demise. What was lost in the great betrayal of 1914 was not only the International and the old forms of political and economic organisation but also this wider cultural milieu, which only survived as a kind of caricature in the ‘fêtes’ of the Stalinist and leftist parties. 1914 was thus the first of a series of blows against class identity over the past century: the political dissolution of the class in democracy and anti-fascism in the 30s and 40s, the assimilation of communism with Stalinism, the break in organic continuity with the organisations and traditions of the past brought about by the counter-revolution: long before the unfolding of the phase of decomposition these traumas already laid heavily on the proletariat’s capacity to constitute itself into a class with a real sense of itself as the social force bearing within itself the “dissolution of all classes”. Thus any investigation into the problem of loss of class identity will have to go back over the whole history of the workers’ movement and not restrict itself to the last few decades. Even if it is in the last few decades that the problem has become so acute and so threatening to the future of the class struggle, it is only the concentrated expression of processes which have a much longer history.

To return to the problem of our underestimation of the ruling class: the culmination,, of our long-standing underestimation of the enemy – and which is also the greatest weakness in our analyses – was reached after the financial crash of 2007-8, when an old tendency to see that the ruling class in the centres of the system had more or less run out of options, that the economy had reached a total impasse, came to a head. This could only increase feelings of panic, the often unstated notion that the working class and the tiny revolutionary movement were either at the last chance saloon or had already ‘missed the boat’. Certain formulations about the dynamic of the mass strike fed into this immediatism. In fact, we were not wrong to see the ‘germs’ of the mass strike in the student movement in France in 2006 or struggles like those of the steel workers in Spain in the same year, in Egypt in 2007, in Bangladesh and elsewhere. Our mistake lay in seeing the seed as the flower, and in not understanding that the period of germination could be a very long one. Clearly these errors of analyses were closely linked to the activist and opportunist deformations of our intervention during this period, although these errors must also be understood in the broader discussion of our role as an organisation (see the text on the work of the fraction in this issue).

The moral dimension of class consciousness

If the owner of labour-power works to-day, to-morrow he must again be able to repeat the same process in the same conditions as regards health and strength. His means of subsistence must therefore be sufficient to maintain him in his normal state as a labouring individual. His natural wants, such as food, clothing, fuel, and housing, vary according to the climatic and other physical conditions of his country. On the other hand, the number and extent of his so-called necessary wants, as also the modes of satisfying them, are themselves the product of historical development, and depend therefore to a great extent on the degree of civilisation of a country, more particularly on the conditions under which, and consequently on the habits and degree of comfort in which, the class of free labourers has been formed.  In contradistinction therefore to the case of other commodities, there enters into the determination of the value of labour-power a historical and moral element (Marx, Capital vol 1 chapter 6).

To approach Capital without really grasping that Marx is seeking to understand the workings of a particular social relation which has been the product of thousands of years of history, and which like other social relations is doomed to disappear, is to end up being bewitched by the reified view of the world which Marx’s study aims to combat. This includes all the academic marxologists, whether they see themselves as comfortable professors or ultra-radical communists, who tend to analyse capitalism as a self-sufficient system of eternal laws which operate in precisely the same way in all historical conditions, in the decadence of the system as in its ascent. But Marx’s remarks about the value of labour power take us away from this purely economic view of capitalism towards an understanding that “historical and moral” factors play a crucial role in determining a central ‘economic’ foundation of this society: the value of labour power. In other words, contrary to the assertions of Paul Cardan (alias Castoriadis, the founder of the Socialisme ou Barbarie group) for whom Capital was a book without class struggle, Marx argues that the assertion of human dignity by the exploited class – the moral dimension par excellence – cannot by definition be removed from a scientific examination of the operations of the capitalist system. In the same sentence Marx also answers those who see him as a moral relativist, as a thinker who rejects all morality as being the hypocritical cant of one ruling class or another.

Today the ICC is being obliged to deepen its understanding of the “historical and moral element” in the situation of the working class – historical not only in the sense of the struggles of the last 40, or 80, or 100 years, or even since the first workers’ movements at the dawn of capitalism, but in the sense of the continuity and rupture between the struggles of the working class and those of previous exploited classes, and beyond that, its continuity and rupture with all previous attempts of the human species to overcome the barriers to the realisation of its true potentialities, to “unlock its slumbering powers” as Marx defined the central characteristic of human labour per se. This is where history and anthropology come together, and to talk of anthropology is to talk of the history of morality. Hence the importance of the Theses on Morality6 and our discussions around them…..

Extrapolating from the Theses, we can note certain key moments marking the tendency towards the unification of the human species: the passage from the horde to a wider primitive communism; the advent of the ‘axial age’, connected to an incipient generalisation of commodity relations, which saw the emergence of most of the world religions, expressions in ‘spirit’ of the unification of a humanity which could not yet be united in reality; the global expansion of ascendant capitalism which for the first time tended to unite humanity under the admittedly brutal reign of a single mode of production; the first world revolutionary wave which contained the promise of the material human community. This tendency was dealt a terrible blow by the triumph of the counter-revolution and it is no accident that, on the verge of the most barbaric war in history, Trotsky in 1938 could already talk of the “crisis of humanity”. No doubt he had in mind, as evidence of this crisis, World War One, Stalinist Russia, the world economic depression and the march towards a second world war, but it was perhaps above all the image of Nazi Germany (even though he did not live to witness the most horrific expressions of this barbaric regime), which confirmed this notion, this idea of humanity itself being put the test, because here was an unprecedented process of regression in one of the cradles of bourgeois civilisation: the national culture that had given birth to Hegel, Beethoven, Goethe was now succumbing to the rule of thugs, occultists and nihilists, driven by a programme which sought to drive a final nail in the possibility of a united humanity.

In decomposition, this tendency towards regression, these signs of the whole of human progress up till now collapsing in on itself, is becoming ‘normalised’ across the planet. This is expressed above all in the process of fragmentation and every man for himself: humanity, at a stage where production and communication is more unified than ever, is in danger of being divided and subdivided into nations, regions, religions, races, gangs, all of this accompanied by an equally destructive regression at the intellectual level with the rise of numerous forms of religious fundamentalism, nationalism and racism. The rise of Islamic State provides a summary of this process on a historic scale: where once Islam was the product of a moral and intellectual advance across and beyond the entire region, today Islamism, both in its Sunni and Shia forms, is a pure expression of the negation of humanity - of pogromism, misogyny and the worship of death.

Clearly this danger of regression infects the proletariat itself. Sections of the working class in Europe, for example, having seen the defeat of all the struggles of the 70s and 80s against the decimation of industry and jobs, are being targeted with some success by racist parties who have found new scapegoats to blame for their misery – the waves of immigrants into the central countries, fleeing economic, ecological or military disaster in their own regions. These immigrants are generally more ‘noticeable’ than were the Jews in 1930s Europe, and those of them who espouse the Muslim religion can be directly linked to forces engaged in imperialist conflicts against the ‘host’ countries. This capacity of the right rather than the left to penetrate parts of the working class (in France for example, previous ‘bastions’ of the CP have fallen to the Front National) is a significant expression of a loss of class identity: where once we could point to workers losing their illusions in the left because of their experience of its sabotaging role in the struggle, today the declining influence of the left is more of a reflection of the fact that the bourgeoisie has less need of forces of mystification which claim to act on behalf of the working class because the latter is less able to see itself as a class at all. It also reflects one of the most significant products of the global process of decomposition and the uneven development of the world economic crisis: the tendency for Europe and North America to become islands of relative ‘sanity’ in a world gone mad. Europe in particular looks increasingly like a well-stocked bunker holding out against the desperate masses looking for shelter from a global apocalypse. The ‘common sense’ response of all the besieged, no matter how ruthless the regime inside the bunker, would be to close ranks and make sure that the doors to the bunker remain tight shut. The instinct to survive then becomes totally divorced from any moral feelings and impulses.

The crises of the ‘vanguard’ must also be located in this overall process: the influence of anarchism on the politicised minorities that were generated by the struggles of 2003-13, with its fixation on the immediate, the particular workplace, the ‘community’; the growth of workerism à la Mouvement Communiste and its opposing pole, the ‘communisation’ tendency which rejects the working class a subject of the revolution; the slide towards moral bankruptcy within the communist left itself, which we will be analysing in other reports. In sum, the incapacity of the revolutionary vanguard both to grasp the reality of the moral and intellectual regression sweeping the world and to fight against it.

This report argues not only that the cycle of struggles which went from 1968-1989 came to a halt because the proletariat was unable to offer an alternative to capitalism, definitively opening the phase of decomposition, but also that the first important cycle of struggles in the phase of decomposition also seems to have drawn to an end, and largely for the same reasons.

The historic course

The situation looks very grave indeed. Does it still make sense to talk about a historic course towards class confrontations? The working class today is as distant from 1968 as 1968 was from the beginnings of the counter-revolution, and in addition its loss of class identity means that its capacity for re-appropriating the lessons of struggles that may have taken place decades ago has diminished. At the same time the dangers inherent in the process of decomposition – of a gradual exhaustion of the proletariat’s ability to resist capitalist barbarism – do not remain static but tend to amplify as the capitalist social system falls deeper into decay.

The historic course has never been fixed in perpetuity and the possibility of massive class confrontations in the key countries of capitalism is not a pre-arranged staging post in the journey into the future.

Nevertheless, we continue to think that the proletariat has not spoken the last word, even when those who have spoken have little awareness of speaking for the proletariat.

In our analysis of the class movements of 68-89, we noted the existence of certain high points which provided an inspiration for future struggles and a yardstick to measure their progress. Thus: the importance of 68 in France in raising the question of a new society; of the Polish struggles of 1980 for reaffirming the methods of the mass strike, of the extension and self-organisation of the struggle, and so on. To a large extent these were questions that remained unanswered. But we can also say that the struggles of the last decade or so have also had their high points, above all because they began to raise the key question of politicisation which we have identified as a central weakness of the struggles in the previous cycle. What’s more the most important of these movements – such as the student struggle in France in 2006 and the revolt of the Indignados in Spain - posed many questions which demonstrated that for the proletariat politics is not about whether to keep to dump the governing bourgeois team but about changing social relations, that proletarian politics is about creating a new morality opposed to the dog-eat-dog world of capitalism. In their ‘indignation’ against the waste of human potential and destructiveness of the current system, in their efforts to win over the most alienated sectors of the working class (the appeal of the French students to the ‘banlieu’ youth), in the leading role played by young women, in their approach to the question of violence and police provocation, in the desire for passionate debate in the assemblies, and in the incipient internationalism of so many of the movements’ slogans7, these movements shook a fist at the advancing tide of decomposition and affirmed that passively yielding to this tide is not at all the only possibility, that it is still possible to respond to the no-future of the bourgeoisie, with its incessant attacks on the perspective of the proletariat, with reflection and debate about the possibility of a different kind of social relationship. And in so far as these movements were forced to raise themselves to the general level, to pose questions about every aspect of capitalist society, from the economic and the political to the artistic, scientific and environmental, they provided us with a glimpse of how a new “great cultural movement” could reappear in the fires of revolt against the capitalist system.

There were certainly moments when we tended to get carried away with enthusiasm for these movements and to lose sight of their weaknesses, reinforcing our tendencies towards activism and forms of intervention that were not guided by a clear theoretical starting point. But we were not wrong in 2006, for example, to see elements of the mass strike in the movement against the CPE. No doubt we tended to see this in an immediatist rather than a long term perspective, but there is no question that these revolts did reaffirm the underlying nature of the class struggle in decadence: struggles that are not organised by permanent bodies in advance, that tend to spread rapidly throughout society, that pose the problem of new forms of self-organisation, that tend to integrate the political with the economic dimension.

Of course the great weakness of these struggles was that to a large extent they did not see themselves as proletarian, as expressions of the class war. And if this weakness is not overcome, the strong points of such movements will tend to become weak points: a focus on moral concerns will decline into a vague form of petty bourgeois humanism that falls easily into democratic and ‘citizen’ – i.e. openly bourgeois – politics; assemblies will become mere street parliaments where open debate around the most fundamental issues is replaced by the manipulations of political elites and by demands that fix the movement within the horizon of bourgeois politics. And this of course was essentially the fate of the social revolts of 2011-13.

The necessity to link the revolt in the street with the resistance of the employed workers, with all the various products of the working class movement, and to understand that this synthesis can only be based on a proletarian perspective for the future of society, which in turn implies that the unification of the proletariat must include the restoration of the connection between the working class and the organisations of revolutionaries. This is the unanswered question, the unfulfilled perspective posed by not only by the struggles of the last few years, but by all the expressions of the class struggle since 1968.

Against the common sense of empiricism, which can only see the proletariat when it comes to the surface, Marxists recognise that the proletariat is like Blake’s sleeping giant Albion whose wakening will turn the world upside down. On the basis of the theory of the subterranean maturation of consciousness, which the ICC is more or less alone in defending, we recognise that the vast potential of the working class remains for the most part hidden, and even the clearest revolutionaries can easily forget that this ‘slumbering power’ can have a huge impact on social reality even when it has apparently withdrawn from the scene. Marx was able to discern that the working class was the new revolutionary force in society on what seemed like scanty evidence, such as a few strikes by French weavers who had not yet completely gone past the artisan stage of development. And despite all the immense difficulties facing the proletariat, despite all our overestimations of the struggle and underestimations of the enemy, the ICC can still see enough in the class movements over the past 40 years to conclude that the working class has not lost this capacity to offer humanity a new society, a new culture, and a new communist morality…

 

Conclusion: posing the questions in depth

This report is already much longer than intended, and even then it has often been limited to posing questions rather than answering them. But we are not looking for immediate answers; rather we are aiming to develop a theoretical culture in which every question is approached in depth, linking them back to the intellectual treasure-troves of the ICC, to the history of the workers’ movement and to the classics of marxism as indispensible guides for exploring the new problems thrown up in the final phase of capitalist decline. A key question raised implicitly in this report – in its reflections on class identity, or on the course of history – is the very notion of social class and the concept of the proletariat as the revolutionary class of this epoch. The ICC has made some important contributions in this area – in particular Who can change the world? The proletariat is still the revolutionary class International Review n°73 and 74, and ‘Why the proletariat has not yet overthrown capitalism’ in International Review n°103 and 104, both of which sought to answer doubts within the proletarian political movement about the very possibility of the revolution. It is necessary to go back to these articles but also to the marxist texts and traditions on which they are based, while at the same time testing out our arguments in the light of the real evolution of capitalism and the class struggle in the past few decades. Clearly such a project can only be undertaken in the long term. The same goes for other aspects of the report which could only be touched on, such as the moral dimension of class consciousness and its essential role in the capacity of the working class to overcome the nihilism and lack of perspective inherent in capitalism in its phase of decomposition, or the need for a very thorough criticism of the various forms of opportunism which have distorted both the ICC’s analysis of the class struggle and its intervention within it, in particular our concessions to councilism, workerism and economism (see appendix).

Perhaps the one weakness that appears most clearly in the report is our tendency to underestimate the capacities of the ruling class to maintain its decaying system, both at the economic level (an element to be developed in the report on the economic crisis) and at the political level through its ability to anticipate and derail the development of consciousness in the class through a whole panoply of manoeuvres and stratagems. The corollary to this weakness on our part is that we have been too optimistic about the ability of the working class to counter the attacks of the bourgeoisie and to advance towards a clear understanding of its historical mission – a difficulty which is also reflected in the often agonisingly slow and tortuous development of the revolutionary vanguard. It is a characteristic of revolutionaries to be impatient for the revolution: Marx and Engels considered that the bourgeois revolutions of their day could very rapidly be ‘transformed’ into the proletarian revolution; the revolutionaries who formed the Communist International were confident that the days of capitalism were numbered; our own MC hoped that he would live to see the beginning of the revolution. For cynics and purveyors of good old common sense, this is because revolution and the classless society are at best illusions and utopias, so you might as well hope for them to begin tomorrow or in a hundred years from now. For revolutionaries, on the other hand, this impatience to see the dawn of the new society is a product of their passion for communism, a passion which is not “based on ideas or principles that have been invented, or discovered, by this or that would-be universal reformer », but merely express « actual relations springing from an existing class struggle, from a historical movement going on under our very eyes » (Communist Manifesto). Of course, passion must also be guided and sometimes tempered by the most rigorous analysis, the most severe capacity for testing, verification, and self-criticism; and this above all is what we are seeking to do in the reports for the 21st ICC Congress. But, citing Marx once more, such self-criticism is not a mere passion of the head, but the head of passion.


1 For a presentation on Marc Chirik, see the footnote in the article ‘What balance sheet and perspectives for our activity’ in this issue

1a “The existence of a course towards class confrontations means that the bourgeoisie does not have a free hand to unleash a new world butchery: first, it must confront and beat the working class. But this does not prejudge the outcome of this confrontation, in one way or the other. This is why it is preferable to talk about a 'course towards class confrontations' rather than a 'course towards revolution'"(Resolution on the international situation, published in International Review n°35).

2 For more on this tendency, see ‘The question of organisational functioning in the ICC’ in International Review n°109 (http://en.internationalism.org/ir/109_functioning)

3 For more on this split, see the article in International Review n°109, ‘The question of organisational functioning in the ICC’, which contains the following passage : “At the time of the crisis of 1981, a vision developed (with the contribution of the suspicious element Chenier, but not just him) which considered that each local section could have its own policy as far as intervention was concerned, which violently contested the IB and the IS (reproaching them with their position on the left in opposition and of provoking a Stalinist degeneration) and who, while defending the necessity of central organs, attributed to them the role of a mere post box.” (http://en.internationalism.org/ir/109_functioning)

4 This question is still under discussion in the ICC

5 An internal document currently under discussion in the organisation

6 An internal document still under discussion in the organisation

7 We can point to the open expression of solidarity between the struggles in the US and Europe and those in the Middle East, especially Egypt, or the slogans of the movement in Israel defining Netanyahu, Mubarak and Assad as the same enemy.