IBRP: An opportunist policy of regroupment that leads to nothing but ‘abortions’
In the previous article in this series (“Nucleo Comunista Internacional in Argentina: an episode in the proletariat’s striving for consciousness”, International Review n°120) we retraced the trajectory of a small nucleus of revolutionary elements in Argentina in the Nucleo Comunista Internacional (NCI).
We brought to light the problems encountered by this small group, particularly the fact that one of its elements, Citizen B, had profited from his possession of computer equipment (and especially Internet access) to isolate the other comrades by monopolising correspondence with groups of the proletarian political milieu. He imposed his decisions on them when he was not going behind their backs; he deliberately hid his actions from them and developed a politics which they did not approve since it called in question, overnight, their whole previous orientation. In particular, after expressing the will to be rapidly integrated into the ICC, affirming complete agreement with its political positions and analyses, rejecting the positions of the IBRP and denouncing the thuggish and informer-like behaviour of the so-called “Internal Fraction of the ICC” (IFICC), Citizen B abruptly turned his coat in the summer of 2004.
While a delegation of the ICC was present and was holding a whole series of discussions with the NCI, he made contact with the IFICC and the IBRP to announce his intention to develop work with these two groups, adopting another name, the “Circulo de Comunistas Internacionalistas” (without saying a word to our delegation nor to the other members of the NCI). In fact “Senor B’s sudden passion for the IBRP and its positions, and for the IFICC, only began when this petty adventurer realised that his manoeuvres would meet short shrift with the ICC. This conversion, more sudden even than that of St Paul on the road to Damascus, gave the IBRP not the slightest pause for thought: the latter hastened to act as Senor B’s spokesman. The IBRP should ask itself one day how it is, and not just once, that elements who have demonstrated their inability to integrate into the communist left should turn towards the IBRP after failing in their 'approach' to the ICC” (ibid).
As far as we know, the IBRP has never asked itself such a question (at least no such question has ever appeared in its press).
One of the aims of this article is to set out some elements of an answer, which may be of some use to the IBRP, but will also be helpful for those coming towards the positions of the communist left and who might perhaps be impressed by the IBRP’s presentation of itself as the “only organisation with the heritage of the Italian communist left”. More generally, it will try to understand why the IBRP has experienced a series of failures in its policy of regroupment of revolutionary forces at the international level.
The IBRP's siren song's irresistible attractiveness for confused elements
The attitude of Citizen B, discovering at one and the same time a profound convergence with the positions of the IBRP and with the (totally slanderous) allegations put forward by the IFICC about the ICC, is really nothing but a caricature of an attitude which we have seen numerous times from elements who, having engaged in a discussion with our organisation, find that they have been mistaken, whether because they are not really in agreement with our positions, or because the demands of militancy in the ICC appear too constraining for them, or even because they have found out that they cannot carry out their personal policy within our organisation. These elements have then very often turned to the IBRP, in which they see an organisation more apt to satisfy their expectations. We have already taken up this type of evolution several times in our publications. That said, it would be worth while returning to these examples to show that this is not a fortuitous or exceptional event, but is a recurrent reality that ought to pose questions for the militants of the IBRP.
Even before the birth of the IBRP…
In the prehistory of the IBRP (and of the ICC) we see a first manifestation of what was be repeated many times thereafter. We are in the years 1973-4. Following an appeal launched in November 1972 by the American group Internationalism (which was to become the ICC section in the United States) for an international correspondence network, a series of meetings was organised between several groups which based themselves on the tradition of the communist left. The most regular participants of these meetings were Revolution Internationale from France and three groups based in Britain, World Revolution (WR), Revolutionary Perspectives (RP) and Workers’ Voice (WV) (from the names of their respective publications). WR and RP came from splits in Solidarity, which was based on anarcho-councilist positions. WV was a small group of workers from Liverpool who had broken with Trotskyism a short while before. Following these discussions, the three British groups came to positions close to those of Révolution Internationale and Internationalism (around which the ICC was constituted the following year). However, the process of unification of these three groups ended in failure. On the one hand the elements of Workers’ Voice decided to break with World Revolution because they felt they had been swindled by WR. The latter had retained semi-councilist positions on the 1917 revolution in Russia: it considered that it was a proletarian revolution but that the Bolshevik Party was bourgeois, a position of which it had convinced the comrades of WV. When WR, at the time of the meeting in January 1974, rejected these last remnants of councilism and rallied to the position of Révolution Internationale, these comrades felt “betrayed” and developed a great hostility to those in WR (who they accused of “capitulating to RI”). This led them to publish a “precision” in November 1974 that defined the groups who were going to form the ICC shortly after as “counter-revolutionaries”. On the other hand, RP asked to be integrated into the ICC as a “tendency” with its own platform (inasmuch as there were still differences between it and the ICC). We responded that our approach was not to integrate “tendencies” as such, each with its own platform, even if we consider that there can be differences on secondary aspects of the programmatic documents within the organisation. We did not shut the door on discussion with RP but this group began to distance itself from the ICC. It attempted to constitute an “alternative” international regroupment to the ICC, with WV, the French group Pour une Intervention Communiste (PIC) and the Revolutionary Workers’ Group (RWG) of Chicago. This “unprincipled bloc” (following Lenin’s term) didn’t last long. It could hardly be otherwise since the only question which brought these four groups together was their growing hostility to the ICC. Finally, however, there was the regroupment between RP and WV in Britain (September 1975) to constitute the Communist Workers’ Organisation (CWO). RP had to pay a price for this unification: its militants had to accept the position of WV that the ICC was “counter-revolutionary”. It was a position they maintained for some time, even after the departure from the CWO, one year later, of the old members of WV who particularly reproached those of RP for their … intolerance of other groups! This CWO “analysis”, considering the ICC as “counter-revolutionary” was based on “decisive arguments”:
“a) They regard state capitalist Russia after 1921 and the Bolsheviks as defensible.
b) They maintain that a state capitalist gang, such as was the Trotskyist Left Opposition, was a proletarian group” (Revolutionary Perspectives n°4).
It was only much later, when the CWO had started to discuss with the Partito Comunista Internazionalista of Italy (Battaglia Comunista) that it renounced the view that the ICC is “counter-revolutionary” (if it had maintained its previous criteria it would also have had to consider BC an organisation of the bourgeoisie!).
So, the point of departure for the trajectory of the CWO was marked by the fact that the ICC did not accept RP's integration into our organisation with its own platform. This trajectory finally led to the formation of the IBRP in 1984: the CWO could at last participate in an international regroupment after its previous failures.
Disappointment with the SUCM
The process which led to the formation of the IBRP was thus itself marked by the sort of approach where those “disappointed with the ICC” turned towards the IBRP. We will not go into the three conferences of the groups of the communist left which were held between 1977 and 1980 following an appeal from BC in April 1976. In particular our press has often stressed that BC and the CWO deliberately scuttled this effort in a totally irresponsible way, solely for petty sectarian reasons, by hastily calling for a vote at the end of the 3rd conference on the question of the role and function of the party as a supplementary criterion. This was specifically aimed at the exclusion of the ICC from future conferences. On the other hand, BC and the CWO decided that it was worth calling the 1982 “conference”, which was presented as the continuation of the three conferences between 77 and 80. This “conference” brought together, apart from BC and the CWO, the “Supporters of the Unity of Communist Militants” (SUCM) a group of Iranian students mainly based in Britain that the ICC knew well: it had discussed with them before and concluded that, despite their declarations of agreement with the communist left, it was a leftist group coming from Maoism. The SUCM then turned to the CWO, which did not take account of the warnings against this group from our comrades in the section in Britain. It was thanks to this first-rate new “recruit” that the CWO and BC were able to avoid having a simple tête-à-tête at this glorious 4th Conference of the Communist Left which, now that the ICC was no longer present to pollute it with its “councilism”, could at last pose the real problems of the construction of the future world party of the revolution. In fact, all the other “forces” that the CWO-BC tandem had “selected” for invitation (according to the term used by BC) with “seriousness” and “clarity” deserted: whether because they could not come, as was the case for Kommunistische Politik from Austria or L’Eveil Internationaliste, or because they had disappeared by the time of the “Conference” as was the case for two American groups, Marxist Worker and Wildcat. Bizarrely, the latter, despite its councilism, was considered as an entrant according to the “criteria” decreed by BC and the CWO.
We should say that the flirtation with the SUCM was not pursued for long, not due to the lucidity of the comrades of BC and the CWO but simply because this leftist group, which could not hide its real nature for ever, ended up integrating itself into the Communist Party of Iran, a Stalinist organisation.
As for the conferences of the communist left, BC and the CWO did not call any others, preferring to avoid the ridicule of a new fiasco.
Two individual trajectories
The attraction of the IBRP for those “disappointed with the ICC” was shown in the same period by an element we will call L, who was their sole representative in France for a time. This element, who had previously attended the classes of a Trotskyist organisation, came close enough to the ICC at the beginning of the 80s to pose his candidature. Evidently we conducted serious discussions with him but we asked him to be patient because we observed that, despite his assertion of complete agreement with our positions, he still maintained traces of his experience of leftism in his political attitude, particularly a marked immediatism. Because of this he had very little patience. When he found that the discussions were lasting too long for his taste, he broke them off unilaterally and turned to the groups who were going to form the IBRP. Overnight his positions suddenly evolved to agreement with the IBRP which, for its part, did not demand the same patience before integrating him. This element then left the IBRP, proving that his convictions were not very solid, to wander among the groups of the Bordigist current, before coming back… to the IBRP, in the mid 1990s. At this point we warned the IBRP against his lack of political reliability, but they did not heed our warning and reintegrated him. However, as one might
have expected, this element did not remain very long in the IBRP: at the beginning of this century he “discovered” that the positions he had adopted for a second time did not really convince him and he came to several of our public meetings to cover the IBRP in mud: the ICC found it necessary to reject his slanders and defend the IBRP.
The series of flirtations of those disappointed in the ICC with the IBRP are not limited to the examples we have already given.
Another element, who also came from leftism, who we shall call E, had a similar trajectory. With him the process of integration went further than with L since he became a member of our organisation after long discussions. However, it is one thing to affirm agreement with the political positions, and another to integrate oneself into a communist organisation. Even though the ICC had explained at length what it means to be a militant in a communist organisation and even though he had approved of our attitude, the practical experience of militancy, which presupposes a particular and constant effort to overcome individualism, fairly rapidly led him to realise that he had no place in our organisation, and he started to develop a hostile attitude towards it. Finally he left the ICC without putting forward the slightest disagreement with our platform (despite our demand that he have a serious discussion about his “reproaches”). That did not prevent him from discovering a profound agreement with the positions of the IBRP shortly after, to the point where they published a polemic against the ICC that he had written.
Coming back to groups which have followed this sort of approach, the list is not exhausted by the examples we have already given above. We should recall the Communist Bulletin Group (CBG) in Britain, Kamunist Kranti in India, Comunismo in Mexico, Los Angeles Workers’ Voice and Internationalist Notes in Canada.
The doomed love between the CBG and the CWO
Our press has carried several articles about the CBG. We will not return to the analysis that we made of this tiny parasitic group, made up of former members of the ICC who left in 1981 with the theft of material and money from our organisation, and whose sole reason for existence was to throw mud at our organisation. At the end of 1983 this group had responded favourably to an “Address to proletarian political groups” adopted by the 5th ICC Congress with the aim of “of establishing a conscious co-operation between all organisations”: “We want to express our solidarity with the approach and concerns expressed in the Address…” However, it made not the slightest critique of its thuggish behaviour. We also wrote “Until the fundamental question of the defence of the political organisations of the proletariat is understood, we are obliged to consider the CBG’s letter as null and void. They got the wrong Address.”
Probably disappointed that the ICC had repulsed their advances, and visibly suffering from isolation, the CBG turned towards the CWO, the British part of the IBRP. A meeting was held in Edinburgh in December 1992 following a “practical collaboration between members of the CWO and the CBG”. “A large number of misunderstandings have been clarified on both sides. It has therefore been decided to make the practical co-operation more formal. An agreement has been written that the CWO as a whole should ratify in January (after which a complete report will be published) and which includes the following points…” There follows a list of different agreements for collaboration and especially: “The two groups will discuss a proposed ‘popular platform’ prepared by a comrade of the CWO as a tool for intervention” (Workers’ Voice 64, January-February 1996).
Apparently this flirtation was not continued for we have never heard any more on the collaboration of the CBG and the CWO. Nor have we ever read anything explaining why this collaboration came to nothing.
Setbacks for the IBRP in India
Another unfortunate adventure with those “disenchanted with the ICC” was with the group publishing Kamunist Kranti in India. This small nucleus emerged from a group of elements that the ICC had discussed with during the 1980s and some of whom had approached the ICC, becoming very close sympathisers or even joining our ranks. However, one of these elements, who we will call S, and who played an important role in the first discussions with the ICC, did not take that path. Probably afraid of losing his individuality in the event of being integrated into the ICC, he started his own group with the publication Kamunist Kranti.
For its part the IBRP has experienced setbacks in India. For this organisation conditions in the countries of the periphery “make mass communist organisations possible” (Communist Review n°3), which obviously supposes that it is easier to create them there than in the central countries of capitalism. The IBRP found that its theses were not concretised in the form of groups rallying to its platform. Their disappointment was all the greater because, already at this time, despite its analyses being misrepresented as “Eurocentrist”, the ICC had a section in Venezuela, one of the peripheral countries. Obviously the abortive flirtation with the SUCM had only aggravated the IBRP’s bitterness. So, when the IBRP engaged in discussions with the Lal Pataka group in India they thought that they had at last hit the jackpot. Lal Pataka was a group of Maoist extraction which, like the SUCM, had not really broken from its origins despite the sympathies that it expressed for the positions of the communist left. Faced with the warnings of the ICC against this group (which ultimately was reduced to just one element), the IBRP responded “Some cynical spirits [meaning the spirits of the ICC] think that we have accepted this comrade into the IBRP too quickly”. For some time Lal Pataka was presented as the constituent part of the IBRP in India, but, in 1991, this name disappeared from the pages of the press of the IBRP to be replaced by that of Kamunist Kranti. The IBRP seemed to place a lot of weight on these “disenchanted with the ICC”: “We hope that in the future productive relations will be established between the International Bureau and Kamunist Kranti” but these hopes were soon dashed because, two years later, you could read in Communist Review n11: “It is a tragedy that, despite the existence of promising elements, there doesn’t yet exist a solid nucleus of Indian communists”. And indeed, Kamunist Kranti has since disappeared from circulation. There still exists a small communist nucleus in India, that publishes Communist Internationalist, but it is part of the ICC and the IBRP “forgets” to make any reference to it.
During the time that the elements in India were approaching the positions of the communist left, the ICC was also engaged in discussions with a small group in Mexico, the “Colectivo Comunista Alptraum” (CCA) which started publishing Comunismo in 1986. Shortly thereafter, the “Grupo Proletario Internacionalista” (GPI) was constituted. It started publishing Revolucion Mundial at the beginning of 1987. The ICC undertook discussions with this group also. From this time the CCA began to distance itself from the ICC: on the one hand it adopted an increasingly academic method in its political positions and, on the other hand, it began approaching the IBRP. Quite clearly, this small nucleus took the establishment of relations between the ICC and the GPI badly.
Knowing the approach of the ICC, which insists on the need for groups of the communist left in the same country to develop close links, the CCA, which had a tenth of the membership of the GPI, probably thought that its “individuality” was being threatened by developing relations with this organisation. Relations between the IBRP and the CCA were maintained for a period, but when the GPI became the section of the ICC in Mexico, the CCA disappeared from circulation.
A stormy “American dream”
With the “Los Angeles Workers’ Voice” adventure we come almost to the end of this long list. This group was made up of elements who had taken classes in Maoism (of the pro-Albanian variety). We had discussions with these elements for a long period but we noted their inability to overcome the confusions that they had inherited from their membership of a bourgeois organisation. So when, in the mid-1990s, this small group approached the IBRP we warned the latter against the confusions of the LAWV. The IBRP took this warning very badly, thinking that we didn’t want it to develop a political presence in North America. For several years the LAWV was a sympathising group of the IBRP in the United States, and in April 2000 it participated in Montreal, Canada, in a conference intended to strengthen the political presence of the IBRP in North America. However, a short time afterwards, the Los Angeles elements began to express their disagreements on a whole series of questions, adopting a more and more anarchist vision (rejection of centralisation, depiction of the Bolsheviks as a bourgeois party, etc). But above all it began pouring out sordid slanders against the IBRP and particularly against another American sympathiser of this organisation, AS, who lived in another state. Our press in the US denounced the behaviour of the LAWV elements and expressed its solidarity with the slandered militants. This is why we thought it useful at the time to recall the warnings that we had made to the IBRP at the beginning of its idyll with the LAWV.
The other North American participant in the April 2000 conference, Internationalist Notes, which is today a “sympathising group” of the IBRP, was another of those “disenchanted with the ICC”. The discussion between the ICC and the comrades in Montreal began in the late 1990s. This was a small nucleus whose most experienced element, who we will call W, had had a long experience in unionism and leftism. The discussions had always been very fraternal, particularly with the various visits of ICC militants to Montreal, and we hoped that the comrades would be as frank with us as we were with them. In particular we had always been clear on the fact that we considered that the long period of W’s militancy in a leftist organisation was a handicap for a full comprehension of the positions and the method of the communist left. That is why we asked comrade W on several occasions to draw up a balance sheet of his political trajectory, but clearly this comrade had difficulties in making this balance sheet. Despite his promise to produce one, we never received it.
While the discussions with Internationalist Notes continued, and without the comrades informing us of their eventual rapprochement with the positions of the IBRP, we came across a declaration announcing that IN had become an IBRP sympathising group in Canada. The ICC had encouraged the Montreal comrades to get acquainted with the positions of the IBRP and to contact that organisation. In effect our approach has never been that of “keeping contacts to ourselves”. On the contrary we think that militants who approach the positions of the ICC should be fully aware of the positions of the other groups of the communist left. If they adhere to our organisation, it must be in a fully conscious way. That elements approaching the communist left find themselves in agreement with the positions of the IBRP doesn’t pose a problem in itself. What is surprising is when this rapprochement happens “in secret”. Obviously the IBRP did not make the same demands as the ICC on W breaking with his leftist past. And we are convinced that this is one of the reasons that led him to turn towards the IBRP without informing us of the evolution of his positions.
The IBRP’s speciality: political abortion
One can only be fascinated by the repetition of the phenomenon where elements who are “disenchanted with the ICC” later turn towards the IBRP. Obviously one could consider that this is a normal development: after having understood that the positions of the ICC are erroneous, these elements turn to the correctness and clarity of the IBRP. This is perhaps what the militants of this organisation tell themselves on each such occasion. The problem is that of all the groups which have taken this path, the only one that is still present today in the ranks of the communist left is the last mentioned, Internationalist Notes. ALL the other groups have disappeared or returned to the ranks of bourgeois organisations like the SUCM. The IBRP must ask itself why, and it would be interesting if it could produce a balance sheet of its experiences for the working class. The few reflections that follow might perhaps help its militants to make such a balance sheet.
Quite obviously, what animates the approach of these groups is not the search for a clarity that they have failed to find in the ICC, seeing that they ended up abandoning communist militancy. The facts have amply demonstrated that their distancing from the ICC, as we have said every time, corresponds fundamentally to a distancing from the programmatic clarity and the method of the communist left, most often ending in a refusal of the demands of militancy within this current. In reality their ephemeral flirtation with the IBRP is only one step before their abandonment of combat in the ranks of the proletariat. The question then posed is, why has the IBRP been drawn into such a trajectory?
To this question there is a fundamental answer: the IBRP defends an opportunist method for regrouping revolutionaries.
It is this opportunism on the IBRP's part that allows elements who refuse to make a complete break with their leftist past to find a temporary “refuge”, allowing them to think, or to say, that they are still engaged in the communist left. The IBRP, particularly since the 3rd Conference of the Groups of the Communist Left, has not stopped insisting on the necessity for a “rigorous selection” in the proletarian milieu. But, in reality, this selection is one-way: it says that the ICC is no longer “a valid force in the perspective for the future world party of the proletariat” and that it “can’t be considered by us [the IBRP] as a valid partner in defining any kind of unity of action” (response to our appeal of the 11th February 2003 addressed to groups of the Communist Left for a common intervention on the war and published in International Review n113). Consequently it is out of the question for the IBRP to establish the least cooperation with the ICC, even for a common declaration of the internationalist camp in the face of imperialist war. However, this great rigour is not exercised in other directions, and notably towards groups that have nothing to do with the communist left, when they are not leftist groups. As we wrote in International Review n103:
“In order to weigh the full measure of the IBRP’s opportunism in relation to its refusal of our appeal in relation to the war, it’s instructive to re-read an article that appeared in the November 1995 issue of Battaglia Comunista ‘Misunderstandings on the Balkan war’. BC relates that it has received a letter/invitation from the OCI (Organizazione Comunista Internazionalista) to a national assembly against the war to be held in Milan. BC considered that ‘the content of the letter is interesting and a welcome corrective to the position adopted by the OCI on the Gulf War, when it supported the ‘Iraqi people under attack from imperialism’ and was very polemical in relation to our so-called indifferentism.’” BC’s article continued thus: “‘It lacks reference to the crisis in the accumulation cycle (…) and the essential examination of its consequences on the Yugoslav Federation (…). But this doesn’t seem to preclude the possibility of a joint initiative on the part of those who oppose war on a class basis’ [our emphasis]. As we can see, only four years ago, in a situation less serious than that at the time of the war in Kosovo, BC would have been ready to promote a joint initiative with a group that was already clearly counter-revolutionary just to satisfy its activist bent, whereas it had the courage to say no to the ICC because… it has positions that are too different. That certainly is opportunism.”
The IBRP’s one-way selectivity was shown once again during 2003 when it refused the ICC’s proposition for a common position in the face of the war in Iraq. As we wrote in International Review n116:
“We might expect that an organisation which is such a stickler for detail when it comes to examining its divergences with the ICC would have a similar attitude towards other groups. This is not the case. We refer here to the attitude of the IBRP via its sympathising and political representative, the Internationalist Workers Group (IWG) which publishes Internationalist Notes. This group intervened alongside anarchists and held a joint public meeting with Red and Black Notes, some councilists and the Ontario Coalition Against Poverty (OCP), which seems to be a typically leftist and activist group.” (“The proletarian political milieu faced with the war: the scourge of sectarianism in the internationalist camp”)
As can be seen, the opportunism of the IBRP shows itself in its refusal to take a clear position towards groups that are clearly a long way from the communist left, which have made an incomplete break with leftism (therefore with the camp of the bourgeoisie) or who are definitively leftist. This is the attitude it demonstrated toward the SUCM and Lal Pataka. With such an attitude it is not surprising that elements that have not made a clear balance sheet of their experience in leftism feel more comfortable with the IBRP than the ICC.
That said, it seems that with the attitude of the group in Canada we are faced with another variant of the opportunism of the IBRP: the fact that each of its component parts is “free to have its own politics”. What is absolutely impossible to envisage for European groups is completely normal for an American group (since we have read no criticism of the attitude of the comrades in Canada in the columns of Battaglia Comunista or Revolutionary Perspectives). This is federalism, a federalism that the IBRP rejects in its programme, but which it adopts in practice. This federalism is shamefaced but real and encourages certain elements, who find the centralism of the ICC too constraining, to turn towards the IBRP.
The fact that the IBRP recruits elements marked by their passage through leftism, or who can’t put up with centralism and who are allowed to have their own politics in their own corner, is the best way to undermine the basis of an organisation that is to be viable at the international level.
Another aspect of the opportunism of the IBRP is the indulgence that it shows towards elements hostile to our organisation. As we saw at the beginning of this article, one of the bases for the constitution of the CWO in Britain was not only the desire to maintain its own “individuality” (RP’s demand to be integrated into the ICC as a “tendency” with its own platform) but as a means of opposing the ICC (considered at one time as “counter-revolutionary”). More precisely, the attitude of the Workers Voice elements in the CWO - consisting, as we have seen above, in “using RP as a shield against the ICC” - is found with a lot of other elements and groups where the principle motivation is hostility towards the ICC. This was particularly the case with the element, L, who, whatever group he belonged to (and there were a lot of them) always distinguished himself as the most hysterically opposed to the ICC. Similarly, the element E, who we have mentioned above, began to show a violent hostility towards the ICC before moving towards the positions of the IBRP. This is so much the case that, to our knowledge, the only text of his that the IBRP has published was a violent attack on the ICC.
Not forgetting the CBG, with whom the CWO engaged in a short-lived flirtation: the level of their sordid denigrations of the ICC has not been rivalled until recently.
It’s in the recent period that this approach of opening towards the IBRP on the basis of hatred of the ICC has taken the most extreme forms with two illustrations: the advances made to the IBRP by the so-called “Internal Fraction of the ICC” (IFICC) and by citizen B founder, leader and sole member of the “Circulo de Comunistas Internacionalistas” of Argentina.
We’re not going to recall in detail here the whole range of the IFICC’s behaviour, revealing their obsessional hatred against our organisation. We’ll just cite, very briefly, some of the things in its service record:
repugnant slanders against the ICC and certain militants (of whom it suggests, having circulated the same behind the scenes in the ICC, that one was working for the police and that another had adopted Stalin's policy of “eliminating” the “founding members of the organisation”);
theft of money and political material from the ICC (particularly the subscription address list of its publication in France);
informing - by giving the organs of bourgeois state repression the opportunity to monitor the conference of our section in Mexico which was held in December 2002, and revealing the true identity of one of our militants (who was presented by the IFICC as the “leader of the ICC”).
In the case of citizen B it was particularly illustrated by the production of several despicable communiqués devoted to “the nauseating methodology of the ICC” which is compared to the methods of Stalinism and based on a tissue of gross lies.
If this sinister personage has been able to show such arrogance it is because, for a whole period, the IBRP, that he had flattered in writing texts representing positions close to that organisation (notably on the role of the proletariat in the countries of the periphery) gave him a semblance of credibility. Not only did the IBRP translate and publish on its website the positions and “analyses” of this element, not only did it salute the constitution of the “Circulo” as “an important and sure step forward realised today in Argentina in the aggregation of forces towards the international party of the proletariat” (“Anche in Argentina qualcosa si muove”, Battaglia Comunista October 2004); it also published in three languages on its website its communiqué of 12 October 2004 which is a pack of sordid slanders against our organisation.
The IBRP's love affair with this exotic adventurer sprang a leak when we demonstrated irrefutably that his accusations against the ICC were pure lies and that his “Circulo” was only a sinister imposture. It was in a very discreet fashion that the IBRP began to take the most compromising texts from this personage off its website, but without, however, ever condemning his methods, even after we had sent an open letter to its militants (letter of 7 December 2004, published on our website) asking for such a position to be taken. The only reaction that we have had from this organisation is a communiqué on its website “Last response to the accusations of the ICC” which affirms that the IBRP is “the object of violent and vulgar attacks from the ICC which is angry because it has been hit by a profound and irreversible internal crisis” and that “as of today we will not respond nor follow any of their vulgar attacks”.
As for the love affair with the “Circulo”, events have brought it to an end. Since the ICC unmasked the impostor citizen B, its website, which had been extremely agitated for a monthpreviously , has flatlined.
The IBRP has shown the same sort of indulgence towards the IFICC. Instead of examining with prudence this petty group's infamous accusations against the ICC, the IBRP has preferred to support them by meeting the IFICC on several occasions. The ICC, after the first meeting between the IFICC and IBRP in spring 2002, asked to meet this organisation to give its own version of the facts. But the IBRP refused this request, pretending that it didn’t want to take sides between two protagonists. This was a pure lie because the IFICC’s account of the discussions with the IBRP (and never refuted by them) made clear the latter’s agreement with the accusations against the ICC. But this was only the beginning of the unspeakable behaviour of the IBRP. It has since gone much further. On the one hand, by modestly closing its eyes to the IFICC’s thuggish behaviour, behaviour that could be easily verified through simply looking at its website, the IBRP doesn’t even have the excuse that its didn’t have the proof that the ICC has given on the deviations of the IFICC. Later the IBRP went even further by justifying, purely and simply, the theft by the members of the IFICC of political material from the ICC when the advertisement for an IBRP public meeting on 2 October was sent to subscribers of Révolution Internationale, using the address list stolen by a member of the IFICC. In the same way that the IBRP tried to draw the “Circulo” of Argentina into its orbit by publishing the insanities of citizen B on its website, it didn’t hesitate to get entangled with a gang of thugs and thieves in the hope of extending its political presence in France and establishing an outpost in Mexico (it didn’t hide the fact that it hoped to bring the elements of the IFICC into its ranks).
Unlike the “Circulo” the IFICC still lives and continues to publish bulletins largely devoted to slandering the ICC. The IBRP for its part affirms that “the links with the IFICC exist and persist”. Perhaps it will succeed in integrating the members of the IFICC when they tire of pretending, despite all the evidence to the contrary, that they are the “real continuators of the ICC”. But by doing so the IBRP will be reaching the culmination of its opportunist approach, an opportunism which is already throwing discredit on the memory of the communist left that it continues to lay claim to. And even if the IBRP manages to integrate the elements of the IFICC, it must not rejoice too soon: its own history will show it that you can can’t do much from the remnants that are found in the ICC’s dustbins.
Lies, complicity with informing, slander and theft, betrayal of the principles of honesty and organisational rigour which were a point of honour with the Italian Communist Left: that’s where opportunism leads. And the saddest thing for the IBRP is that it can’t see how this relates to its practice. It still does not understand that with an opportunist method (that is to say a method which holds “immediate success” above a long term perspective, not seeing the need to be based on principles) you’re building on sand; and as a result the only area where the IBRP has shown a certain effectiveness is in its abortions. It is because of this, after more than half a century of existence, the current that it represents is reduced to the state of a small sect, with far fewer political forces than it had at its creation.
In a future article, we will return to what is the basis of the opportunist method of the IBRP which has led it to the sad contortions which we have witnessed in the recent period.
1 A haste not approved by the other comrades who did not think themselves ready to take such a step yet.
2 See Workers’ Voice n13, to which we responded in International Review n°2 as well as our article “Sectarianism unlimited” in World Revolution n°3.
3 When the CWO was constituted we called it an “incomplete regroupment” (see World Revolution n°5). The facts very rapidly confirmed this analysis: in the minutes of a meeting of the CWO to examine the departure of the elements from Liverpool, it is written “It was felt that the old WV had never accepted the politics of the fusion, rather they had used RP as a shield against the ICC” (quoted in “The CWO; past, present and future”, text of the elements who left the CWO in November 1977 to join the ICC, published in International Review n12).
4 It is necessary to make a precision here: very often reading the press of the IBRP or others the impression is given that the credit for these conferences belongs solely to BC since the conference in Milan in May 1977, the first of the three, was held following its appeal in 1976. We had already responded to this idea in a letter addressed to BC on 9 June 1980: “If we hold to the formal aspect, then yes, the point of departure was the appeal published in April 1976 by BC. But must we remind you, comrades, that already in August 1968 the proposal to call a conference was made to you by three of our comrades who came to visit you in Milan? At the time our organisation was less than embryonic (…) In these conditions it was difficult for us to call a conference of the different groups which had appeared or were developing following May 68. We thought that such an initiative should come from a more important group, organised and known, equipped with a regular and frequent press, as was the case with yours. That is why we made this suggestion insisting on the importance of such conferences at the moment when the working class is starting to shake off the terrible yoke of the counter-revolution. But at that moment, thinking that there is nothing new under the sun, that May 68 was nothing but a student revolt, you rejected such a proposal. The following summer, when the strike movement started to affect Italy (…) we made the same proposal and you made the same response. (…) When the strike movement developed in the whole of Europe, we repeated the same proposal at the time of your congress in 1971. And your response was the same as before. Finally, ‘seeing no future in this’, in November 1972 we launched the initiative for an ‘international correspondence’ based on the need, aroused by the proletarian recovery, for discussion between revolutionaries. It was called through the intermediary of the comrades of Internationalism (which was to constitute the American section of the ICC). This proposal was addressed to about 20 groups, including yours, selected on the basis of a number of criteria very similar to those for the recent conferences and with the perspective of an international conference. You responded negatively to this initiative, repeating the argument which you had already given against our previous proposals (…) Should we think that for this organisation [the PCInt] there cannot be a good initiative if it is not the author? (…) So our organisation has always pushed for the holding of international conferences of communist groups. And we could say that the initiative of the ‘Partito Comunista Internazionalista’ in 1976 was in no way a ‘first’ but was more a late awakening and a response eight years later than our proposition in 1968 and four years later than our proposition in 1972. (…)That did not prevent us from responding positively to this initiative immediately. And we could even say, to finish with this question, that it is thanks to our participation that Battaglia’s initiative has not sunk since, apart from you, we were the only effective participants at the conference in Milan in 1977” (letter published in the proceedings of the 3rd Conference of the groups of the communist left in French, edited under the responsibility of the ICC).
5 The type of manoeuvre carried out by BC like a bolt out of the blue is worthy of the bourgeoisie’s parliamentary practices:
- at no time before the conference was there any demand for the adoption of a supplementary criterion on the question of the party to be put on the agenda;
- it came out of lengthy behind-the-scenes negotiations with the CWO which convinced this organisation to support the proposition (instead of publicly presenting the arguments that were reserved for the CWO);
- when, some months beforehand, we asked BC, at a meeting of the technical committee to prepare the conference, if they considered keeping the ICC away from future conferences, the group replied very clearly that it was in favour of pursuing them with all the participants, including the ICC.
Besides, the vote – two in favour of a new criterion, one against (the ICC) and two refusing to vote – was held after the departure of the other group, which, like the ICC was against the adoption of such a criterion.
6 “…the basis now exists for beginning the clarification process about the real tasks of the party… Although today we have a smaller number of participants than at the 2nd and 3rd Conferences, we are starting form a clearer and more serious basis” (Proceedings of the conference).
7 Which shows very well that it was not the ICC’s position on the role of the party which posed the problem for BC and the CWO, but the fact that the ICC is for a serious and rigorous discussion, which these two organisations don’t want.
8 The report of the 4th conference is surrealistic: on the one hand it was published two years after this historic event; on the other hand it states that the majority of the serious forces “selected” by BC and the CWO disappeared before it was held or shortly afterwards. But we also learn:
- that the “technical committee” (BC-CWO) was incapable of publishing the slightest preparatory bulletin, which is all the more embarrassing since the conference was held in English and the reference texts from BC were all published in Italian;
- that the group which organised the conference is incapable of translating half the interventions.
9 See particularly “In answer to the replies”, International Review n36.
10 See International Review n35.
11 See International Review n44 “Salute to Comunismo no 1”.
12 See “Development of political life and workers’ struggle in Mexico” in International Review n50.
13 See our article “Defence of the revolutionary milieu in Internationalism n122 (summer 2002).
14 That is why we encourage them to go to the public meetings of these groups, and particularly the IBRP, as we did with the public meeting of this organisation which was held in Paris on 2 October 2004. We must note that that IBRP didn’t really appreciate the “massive” presence of our sympathisers, as can be seen in the position they took on this meeting.
15 See particularly on this subject our article “The proletarian political milieu faced with the war: The scourge of sectarianism in the internationalist camp” in International Review n116.
16 On this subject see our articles “The combat for the defence of organisational principles” and “15th Congress of the ICC: strengthening the organisation faced with the stakes of the period” in International Review n110 and n114.
17 See on our website the different ICC texts on the “Circulo”: “A strange apparition”; “A new strange apparition”; “Imposture or reality” and also in our territorial press: “’Circulo de Comunistas Internacionalistas’ (Argentina) An impostor unmasked”.
18 See the article on our website in response to the IBRP: “Theft and slander are not methods of the working class”.