The First Congress of the ICC
This issue of The International Review is dedicated entirely to the publication of document s from the First Congress of the International Communist Current. Our purpose in publishing these documents is to publicly crystallize what we mean by an international regroupment of revolutionaries and to inspire reflection on the part of militants everywhere.
What is the function of a revolutionary organization? On what basis is it constituted? What is its analysis of the present period and the perspectives for struggle? These are the questions which have preoccupied revolutionaries since the beginning of proletarian struggle and they were at the heart of the discussions at the First Congress of the ICC.
Indeed, these questions highlight the whole difficulty revolutionaries have in this epoch: on the one hand to define the class positions acquired through the historic experiences of the class struggle, and on the other hand to know how to act and within what kind of organizational framework. When today, after fifty years of counter-revolution, the reappearance of the permanent crisis of the system has brought forward revolutionary elements, these elements inevitably experience the effects of the organic break with all the organizations and currents created by the workers' movement in the past. Today, no living organizational link exists with the Left Communists of the twenties; thirties and forties, who had attempted to preserve and advance revolutionary theory during the years of defeat and world war. Because this link was broken most of the revolutionary nuclei being formed today emerge in an isolated, geographically-dispersed way, their formation often determined by local and immediate events. They have the greatest difficulty in situating themselves in a coherent, political and historic context and understanding what they represent and the social forces from which they emerge. This break of fifty years has created a morass of confusion and difficulties: how to understand the connection between local and conjunctural effects of the crisis and the permanent world crisis of capitalism since the First World War? How to understand that the struggle today is only a reappropriation and continuation of the historic struggle of the proletariat? How to work towards a regroupment of revolutionaries on the basis of class positions?
The ICC is far from being the only organization trying to give answers to these questions; since the end of the 1960s there has been a revitalization in the class which has everywhere brought forth small revolutionary groupings, an expression of the process of developing consciousness. But if these small groupings do not quickly situate themselves on a class terrain, if they do not situate their activity within a coherent, international framework, they are in danger of exhausting themselves in confusion and isolation. Especially now when the class struggle is maturing slowly within an economic crisis, (that is, when there isn't a situation such as a world war to politicize the workers' movement quickly and internationally) revolutionaries must be prepared for the long arduous task of regrouping forces to defend a general political orientation – towards which the class struggle is heading - through the vicissitudes of the struggle and conjunctural manifestations of the crisis. Above all two pitfalls must be avoided: immediatism and 'modernism'.
Immediatism is a particular danger today when the class struggle is developing in jagged bursts with moments of intense struggle followed by periods of temporary calm. In such a situation revolutionaries must not get carried away by the immediate impact of social convulsions. They must be able to contribute to a general perspective for the long-term evolution of the struggle. They must understand that after fifty years of defeats, the working class is not going to rush headlong to make history. There will inevitably be a period during which the workers will have to rid themselves, little by little, of the mystifications of the left of capital which will use all its forces to enlist the class behind it.
But immediatism only sees the struggle from day-to-day and loses itself in an activist impatience typical of those coming out of leftism. Immediatists see the development of rising class struggle in a mechanistic, linear way. Their perspective is based on the flux and reflux of local struggles and they cannot give a global perspective. The student movement, 'March 22', the American and German SDS, and all the petit-bourgeois dross - are left demoralized when the class struggle temporarily dies down. From a great triumphalism about the 'campaign' of the day they retreat into pessimism. An activism out of all proportion to the reality of the situation not only wears out the militants but makes a mockery of real revolutionary work; it also prevents revolutionary elements from accomplishing the task of consolidation and regroupment of forces on the basis of political coherence and continuity.
The second pitfall, modernism, is very often simply the other side of the coin to a feverish activism. It is the expression of emptiness, of a turning in on oneself, the theorization of demoralization which follows once the proletariat as the revolutionary class is abandoned. Such was the case with Invariance and other 'modernists' who fled from reality into the rarefied planes of marginal 'philosophy'. It is this very same flight from the reality of the long and tortuous struggle of the working class which can in other circumstances produce acts of desperate terrorism.
For the working class confusion on these two points, immediatism and modernism, are an enormous waste of revolutionary energies. Most of the small groupings that emerged after 1968 have been lost and instead of throwing light on the path for the class to take, they have either disappeared or have been transformed into fetters on the development of consciousness. It is to prevent revolutionary elements from having to deal with these confusions on their own and from having to keep on repeating the errors of the past that we must work towards discussion and international regroupment of revolutionaries. We know that revolutionary ideas arise from the very soil of the class struggle, but how difficult is the process towards the formation of a revolutionary organization today!
We are not revolutionaries because we have 'some good ideas', but because by working in a collective way we know how to carry out the tasks of a revolutionary organization within the class. The organization of revolutionaries, the instrument of reflection and international collective activity, requires conscious will on the part of militants. There is a danger of revolutionaries seeing their efforts limited to one town or country, dispersed and isolated, and thus being incapable either now or in the future of taking on their responsibilities. This is why we insist so much on the necessity for regroupment.
The ICC has also had to struggle against these activist and modernist tendencies - elements in Pour Une Intervention Communiste and Une Tendance Communiste came from within our ranks in France. There are no guarantees, nor is there an absolute 'immunization' against confusion and the penetration of bourgeois ideas; but the ICC has made every effort to overcome its weaknesses and to orient its work in a spirit of perseverance and continuity against an immediatist triumphalism and the pessimism of the sceptics. In this sense the First Congress of our Current this year crowns and affirms the patient and methodical work of the past seven years towards the formation of an international organization of revolutionaries on a class platform.
Those of our readers who have been following us for some time can judge better how far the ICC has come since the first meetings for international discussion in 1971, since the proposition for an international network of correspondence, and since the reports of the international conferences held in France and England published in our press. Last year on the initiative of Revolution Internationale (France); Internacionalismo (Venezuela), Internationalism (USA), World Revolution (GB), Rivoluzione Internazionale (Italy), and Accion Proletaria (Spain), all of whom defend the same general political orientation, came to an international, conference which was to lay down the basis for the constitution of an international organization. We based our regroupment on the analysis of the general crisis into which world capital has plunged, which will lead to a confrontation between capital and the proletariat. In this situation revolutionaries can only aid in the development and generalization of consciousness by organizing themselves internationally.
When the ICC decided to take this path (for texts of the conference in 1975 see Number 1 of the International Review), criticisms were made against us by some political groups. For the PlC in France, for example, the regroupment of revolutionaries in a united international organization is just empty talk on our part; they see the question of intervention by revolutionaries in an immediatist and disproportionate way without understanding that intervention implies an international organizational framework capable of taking on a global task. Workers' Voice and Revolutionary Perspectives in Britain agreed that revolutionaries must regroup themselves internationally, but not now. For RP we have to wait for some mythical day when the crisis was a more burning reality. For the RWG (USA), on the other hand, the question of organization was simply a 'bureaucratic' preoccupation on the Trotskyist model.
We believe that events since the 1975 conference have borne out the analyses we have elaborated. Thus we can assert some proven facts on the question of organization: the PlC continues to agitate in a sectarian void, watching the ICC's interventions easily surpass their isolated capacities; RP and WV have carried out an incomplete regroupment (the Communist Workers' Group), limited to a purely local terrain in Britain, and they now attribute all manner of confused ideas to the ICC which they charge with being 'counter-revolutionary'. They have now jealously withdrawn into a state of isolation. The RWG, incapable of integrating itself into coherent and organized work, has ended up dissolving itself. It is possible, as some people say, that the fact that the ICC has continued to develop for seven years is not in itself proof of anything; but it must be true to say that to disappear in confusion brings no positive contribution to the important problems facing the movement today. The ICC is not puffing itself up with the pride of a small. The point is to defend and to make concrete the necessity for regroupment on the basis of revolutionary positions. It is this ORIENTATION which we defend and it is to work for this with all the revolutionary forces, to encourage all revolutionaries to share this concern that we want to make an effective contribution to the revolutionary movement.
In 1976, a year after the decision to constitute an organized International Current, the ICC called its First Congress to make an examination and balance sheet of the work done and to complete the work of constituting the ICC. The Congress could assert that in a year more that thirty-five publications in five languages had been put out, a new section, in Belgium had joined, and it had centralized its interventions and activities on an international level. The discussion at the Congress centred on four main topics:
First the adoption of an international political platform which affirms the class positions. We can never insist enough on the fact that a revolutionary organization can only be constituted on the basis of coherent political principles. Against attempts to form 'revolutionary' groups on the basis of a pot-pourri of contradictory and contingent positions, the ICC defends the necessity for a historic coherence, a platform based on the acquisitions of the past class struggle.
We recognize that a revolutionary platform is never completed, even more so today when the class, is moving. But we are convinced that the class positions contained in this platform are definitive in relation to the lessons of the past, and that these positions, consequently, represent the only point of reference for going forward to the future and to new problems. The platform affirms the fundamental positions of the ICC but it is not a detailed explanation of every aspect. It is conceived of as the basis for action and intervention in the class in our period of rising class struggle. This platform, printed in this issue of the International Review, re-affirms positions defended in the orientation texts of all the groups which now constitute the ICC, but for the first time we have an international platform for the whole organization, which will now be the basis for anyone joining the ICC in any part of the world.
The second topic of the Congress was the discussion on the role and function of a revolutionary organization. First of all we reject the Leninist conception of organization according to which the task of revolutionaries is to constitute mass parties whose function is to take power. Equally, we reject the idea of the 'spontaneists' who deny any organizational role for revolutionaries. The organization is inevitably a minority within the class whose sole function is the development and generalization of class consciousness.
Before everything else we stress that revolutionary work can only be done within an international framework. Against the practice of the IInd International which conceived the international organization as simply a federation of national parties, we think it is essential to create one united, organized body which reflects the historic unity of the proletariat.
Our work remains a collective and centralized activity on an international level. Thus, the annual Congress is the general assembly of the ICC, the place where decisions are taken on the general perspectives for the whole Current. All the points mentioned here are more precisely formulated in the internal statutes of the international organization.
The ICC also voted for a Manifesto, the emanation of the Congress, which gives a broad outline of the class struggle of the past fifty years and emphasized all that is at stake in the class confrontations which are now brewing. This document, published in several languages in the press of our local sections, presents the perspectives of the ICC as it faces the historic possibilities opening up before the class.
Lastly, on the basis of past acquisitions and our analysis of the present period, the Congress made a more precise examination of the evolution of the crisis at this conjuncture and of the international situation in 1975-6.
We therefore publish these text and the Platform of the ICC, submitting them for the reflection and criticism of militants engaged in the struggle for the communist revolution.