9th ICC Congress: Appeal to the Proletarian Political Milieu

In the series War

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IR67, 4th Qtr 1991

With the violent massacres of the Persian Gulf, world capi­talism has revealed its true face and what its 'new world or­der' is all about: chaos, barbarism and war.

The reality of imperialist war - which has in­volved, al­though not in a direct fashion, the whole of the proletariat in the imperialist metropoles - has stimulated a healthy decanta­tion in the proletarian political camp.

On the one hand, a group like the Internationalist Com­munist Organisation, which has been specialising for many years in the po­sition of support to the 'oppressed bour­geoisies', has fully integrated itself, bag and baggage, into the Iraqi imperialist camp, demonstrating how totally alien and opposed this group is to the very interests of the prole­tarian political camp.

On the other hand, the milieu as a whole has demon­strated the ability to respond to the chal­lenge posed by the war, in defending clearly the two criteria essential to re­maining solidly within the borders of proletarian internation­alism:

1) No to the imperialist war. No support to any imperi­alist camp involved in the war, even and above all if this camp claims to be 'anti-im­perialist';

2) No to pacifism, capitalism is war! Only a war against capitalism, only the proletarian rev­olution can allow a future without war.

By unanimously defending these two solid proletarian basics, the internationalist groups have demonstrated a simi­lar exemplary approach to the one adopted by the revolution­ary minori­ties which, in the full swing of World War 1, in­tervened to speak against the imperialist mas­sacre.

There is however a striking difference:

In 1916, the huge divergences which existed between the various currents opposed to the war did not prevent these currents launching a uni­fied appeal to the proletariat of all countries, with the famous Zimmerwald Manifesto, which represented a ray of light for millions of work­ers facing death in the trenches.

Today, the internationalist groups have de­fended with the same words opposition to the war, showing an even greater level of unity than the one which existed at Zimmer­wald. Nonetheless, all this has not been enough to al­low them, at least on this occasion, to speak with one voice to the proletariat of all countries.

This is a shame which weighs on the whole of the pre­sent communist movement and one which can't be min­imised. It's not enough to say that we state the same things and that's good enough. The threat today posed to the work­ing class by capitalism in decomposition is the destruction of the proletariat's class unity in a thousand fratri­cidal con­frontations, from the sands of the Gulf to the frontiers of Yu­goslavia. It's for this rea­son that the defence of its unity is a question of life or death for our class. But what hope can the proletariat have to maintain this unity, if even its conscious avant garde renounces the fight for its unification? Don't anyone tell us that this an appeal to 'kiss and make up', an 'opportunistic avoiding of divergences'. Remember that it was precisely the participation at Zimmerwald which allowed the Bolsheviks to unify the left of Zimmerwald, embryo of the Communist International, and make the defini­tive separa­tion with Social Democracy. It's pre­cisely because profound divergences exist be­tween internationalists, differences which pre­vent them talking with the same voice, that it's necessary that these divergences are openly dis­cussed between revolu­tionaries. The example of discussions between Rosa Luxem­burg, Lenin, and other revolutionaries before them shows this. Finally don't anyone tell us that we are wasting our breath, that we're just doing this to show that we're not sec­tarian and others are.

In l983, our appeal towards the proletarian milieu, which was in the midst of a profound crisis, illustrated by the ex­plosion of Programma Comunista, the transformation of their ex-Algerian section, El-Oumami, into a nationalist Arab group, went almost unnoticed in a general climate of back­wardness and sectarianism. Our appeal was an invitation to fight the tendencies which were then dominant in the milieu.

Today, the situation is different. With the in­tegration of the ICO into the camp of the bour­geoisie, the internationalist groups of the Bordigist tradition have responded with an ex­plicit rejection of support to 'oppressed national bour­geoisies', a rejection which marks an im­portant clarification for the whole of the milieu. Instead of a total sectarian isola­tion, we find to­day in the different groups a greater will to air their reciprocal critiques in the press or in public meet­ings. Furthermore, there is an explicit ap­peal from the com­rades of Battaglia Comunista to overcome the present disper­sion; an appeal whose arguments and aims we largely share. Finally, there exists - and this must be encour­aged to the full - a 'push from below' against sectarian isolation, which comes from a new generation of young elements that the earthquake of these last two years has pushed towards com­munist positions and who remain baffled by this politically unexplained dispersion.

We are well aware that the difficulties are enormous, and that, for the moment, openness to discussion - when it exists - is very limited. There are those who say that the debate must in­clude only those groups which descend from the communist left of Italy, thus excluding the ICC. There are those who see the debate exclusively as an annihilation of other groups in their press. There are those who think that the real debate won't be possible until a pre-revolutionary phase and there are who are open to discuss with new ele­ments but not with 'old-timers'. As we can see, the roots of sectarianism are too profound for over-ambitious proposi­tions to be made, whether in their content (work toward the recon­struction of the party) or in their form (an inter­national conference for example). What can be done then to con­cretely overcome this present state of dispersion? It's neces­sary to facilitate everything that goes towards the increase of contact and debate between internationalists [1]. It's not a question of hiding divergences in order to rush into 'marriages' between groups, but of beginning to openly dis­cuss the divergences that are at the origins of the existence of dif­ferent groups.

The point of departure is to systematise the re­ciprocal critique of positions in the press. That may appear a banality, but there are still revolu­tionary groups who, in their press, seem to be alone in the world.

Another step that can be taken immediately is to sys­tematise the presence and intervention at public meetings of other groups.

A more important step is the confrontation of positions in jointly convoked public meetings by several groups faced with particularly important events, such as the war in the Gulf.

It's clear that all this, and in particular the last point, will not be immediately realisable every­where and between all the groups. But even if there are only two organisations who meet to publicly discuss their agreements and diver­gences, that will in any case be a step forward for the whole milieu and we would support it with conviction, even if the ICC wasn't amongst the direct participants at this particular discus­sion.

Our propositions may appear modest, in fact they are. But faced with decades of unbridled sectarianism, it's already ambitious to only want TO BEGIN a process of confrontation and re­groupment between internationalists. And it's the only road that can lead to the decantation and programmatic de­marcation which will en­able communist minorities to fully play their es­sential role in the class battles which are being prepared.

ICC July 1991.

[1] It's clear that for us that the groups and or­ganisations of a leftist type (Trotskyists, Maoists, anarchists) are not in­ternationalists. As for the myriad of little groups that gravitate parasitically around the principal currents of the proletarian milieu, the dispersion of militants and the confu­sion which they nourish means that they can contribute nothing to such a debate.