7th Congress of the ICC: Resolution on the Proletarian Political Milieu

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IR-51, 4th qtr 1987


The proletarian political milieu, with all its strengths and weaknesses, springs from the life of the working class. Its dynamic and its characteristics tend to express the proletariat’s developing awareness of its own nature as a revolutionary class, and of its ability to give reality to the communist perspective. However, the political milieu does not merely reflect the class. It has an active role to play in the process of the class’ coming to consciousness, and in its struggle. The political milieu’s own dynamic is thus also determined by its own self-awareness, and by the active part played within it by its clearest fractions.

This is why the question of the political milieu, its present state, the perspectives for its development, and the ICC’s role within this process, were included in the agenda of the ICC’s 7th Congress.

Concern with strengthening the organised proletarian milieu, and work for its regroupment are constant lynch-pins for revolutionaries’ activity and intervention. As the major pole of reference, and therefore of regroupment, within the international revolutionary milieu, the ICC bears a special responsibility in the process that leads to the formation of the proletarian party, without which the communist revolution is impossible. The ICC intends to live up fully to this responsibility; and this is the substance of the resolution on the political milieu that the ICC’s 7th Congress adopted, and which we are publishing below.

The present development of the proletarian political milieu, marked by the appearance of new groups, bears witness to the growing echo of revolutionary positions within the world working class. Products of the international recovery of the class struggle, these new political groups put into still sharper relief the responsibility of those older organisations which have survived the political decantation of the late 70’s and early 80’s. Today’s development in the proletarian milieu will only become a source of greater political and organisational strength if the older groups are capable of disengaging themselves from the dead-weight of sectarianism, and take the necessary steps towards the political clarification that is vital to any process of regroupment.

The collapse of the 3rd International, and the years of counter-revolution that followed, when revolutionaries were reduced to a tiny minority, still weigh heavily on today’s movement. Despite a real development since the proletariat’s historic recovery in the late 60’s, the political milieu remains very weak. This is an expression, not only of the weight of the organic separation from the communist fractions of the past, but also of today’s milieu’s own difficulty in resolutely setting about the critical reappropriation of the workers’ movement’s political gains. This inadequate reappropriation of political continuity appears on the organisational level in particular, in the milieu’s dispersal, scattered amongst a multitude of organisations, in its incomprehension of the need to work with determination and clarity towards the process of regrouping the revolutionary milieu. It is certainly no accident that it is the question of organisation – and so of regroupment -- that most clearly crystallises the political movement’s weakness, since this question concretises in activity all the other revolutionary positions. It poses the need to reappropriate the gains of the past, not only on the theoretical but on the practical level, and this is where the break in organisational continuity weighs most heavily. The movement’s dispersal, and accompanying sectarianism (the complete opposite to previous communist organisations’ ideas), are a terrible factor of confusion for new elements who emerge in search of a revolutionary coherence. Today’s political milieu is a veritable labyrinth, which for new groups makes the labour of reappropriating the political continuity vital to their survival all the more difficult.

The political milieu is a whole. Defending its identity against the forces of the counter-revolution, rejecting all non-proletarian practice within it, are essential aspects of the life of any revolutionary organisation. However, the milieu is not a homogeneous whole, far from it. Not all its constituent organisations express the same dynamic towards the clarification and organisational regroupment which absolutely must take place for the formation of tomorrow’s communist party to be possible.

To make revolutionary intervention effective, and work clearly towards clarification and regroupment, it is important to make a distinction between:

-- newly emerging groups, which despite the confusions inherent to their youth and their lack of historical continuity with past revolutionary organisations, express a positive will towards clarification and integration into the proletarian revolutionary movement, and which are signs of the developing echo for revolutionaries within the working class;

-- organisations which, because of their origins, constitute the historic and political poles of the proletarian milieu, and whose prime responsibility is to work determinedly to reinforce the new groups’ political maturity, and to engage clearly the vital process of regroupment; these are the ICC and the IBRP, in particular Battaglia Comunista;

-- organisations which express more sharply the weight of sectarianism, and whose existence is based on a sectarian isolation, or on premature splits which demonstrate a complete lack of understanding of the questions of organisation and revolutionary regroupment. By separating themselves artificially from the major poles of coherence of the political milieu, these groups can only crystallise a loss of political direction which, whether through academicism or activism, opens the door to the abandonment of class positions, and so hinders the process of clarification necessary to regroupment. A clear example of this political parasitism is the EFICC, which incoherently theorises its separation from the ICC, while still standing on the same platform.

Time and tide wait for no man, and the acceleration of the historical process imposes its own demands: the appearance of new groups, the developing echo of revolutionary ideas as the class struggle develops, pose in the medium term the need for new Conferences of Groups of the Communist Left, in order to struggle against the revolutionary milieu’s dispersal, and to accelerate the process of clarification and political decantation that are the precondition for any regroupment. Those organisations that are unable to participate positively in this absolutely necessary process are historically condemned; this is amply demonstrated by the itinerary of the Bordigist PCI (Communist Program), which obstinately refused any contact with the other organisations of the proletarian movement, refused to take any part in the Conferences of the Communist Left at the end of the 70’s, and which finally paid with its existence for its sectarian involution (which prevented it from undertaking its political redressment).

The ICC, far from having any immediatist illusions as to the possibility of a rapid regroupment, and fully aware of its responsibilities, is determined to pave the way for a new round of Conferences, in a framework of political rigour and clarity.

Although the preconditions for a new round of Conferences have yet to be met, it is extremely important that all the organisations making up the proletarian political milieu should be clearly aware of the absolute necessity of working towards making this perspective a reality. To do so, the revolutionary organisations, and above all the major historical poles of reference, must develop the links amongst themselves, against all sectarianism but with the political rigour and firmness necessary to all clarification, by publishing clear polemics which make it possible to highlight the points of agreement and disagreement, and by using all possible occasions, notably public meetings, to confront clearly their points of view.

The future of the class struggle depends on the proletarian milieu’s ability to assume this responsibility, to move towards the convening of new Conferences, and to pose the perspective of regroupment. The outcome of the future is being decided now.


Resolution on the PPM

1) The evolution of the proletarian political milieu over the last two years has been especially marked by:

-- its emergence, under the impulse especially of the 3rd wave of struggles since the historic recovery of the late 60’s, from the crisis in which it had been plunged in the early 80’s;

-- the appearance, under the same impulse, of new groups, especially at capitalism’s periphery;

-- the degeneration of some existing groups: for example, the GCI (Groupe Communiste Internationaliste) towards anarchism, and the OCI (Organizzazione Comunista Internazionalista) towards Trotskyism.

2) This evolution highlights still further the growing responsibility of those organisations that have been capable of keeping to a consistent  marxist terrain, and which have a real international presence and experience.

In this sense, the development of the ICC’s effort towards the clarification, decantation, and eventually the regroupment of this milieu cannot but continue.

3) In this effort, the ICC’s method remains fundamentally the same as in the past: putting forward the priority of political rigour and clarity against all adventures bringing groups together through activist shortcuts, which can only open the door to superficiality and opportunism.

4) In the framework of this evolution and effort, a new round of Conferences of Groups of the Communist Left is a perspective to be prepared. Despite the inconsistencies of many of the replies, the echo encountered by the “Emancipation Obrera” group’s initiative (an echo to which the ICC contributed by making it known in seven languages and more than ten countries) expresses a greater concern within the movement to combat its present dispersed situation.

However, although the need for such Conferences is making itself more and more urgently felt, the conditions for calling them are not yet sufficiently ripe:

-- on the one hand, because many of the “old groups” still maintain an attitude of sectarian isolation (the enthusiasm for contacts with a group on the other side of the world should not hide the fact that this is often accompanied by a – sometimes theorised – refusal to so much as attend public meetings held in the same country by other revolutionary organisations);

-- on the other, because the “new” groups, precisely because of their youth, are not yet capable of successfully taking to its conclusion the political responsibility of this kind of work.

5) In the short term, the ICC’s intervention in the proletarian political milieu must follow two fundamental lines:

a) towards the new groups, the organisation must continue its work of discussion, pushing for decantation and political clarification; putting forward the need for the new groups to integrate themselves into the international milieu, and to attach themselves to the political continuity of the Communist Left, without however neglecting the tasks of defining themselves more clearly and intervening in the class;

b) as far as the “old” groups are concerned, apart from denouncing the degeneration of some and the parasitic [1] nature of others, priority must be given to tightening our links with the movement’s other historic pole of reference: the current of the IBRP (continuing and improving our public and international debate, presence at their public meetings, proposals for common public meetings, direct contacts as often as possible).

[1] i.e., artificially maintaining a separate existence, with a political platform virtually identical to that of other groups, and of the ICC in particular