19th ICC Congress: Preparing for class confrontations
The ICC held its 19th Congress last May. In general a congress is the most important moment in the life of revolutionary organisations, and since the latter are an integral part of the working class, they have a responsibility to draw out the main lessons of their congresses and make them accessible to a wider audience within the class. This is the aim of the present article. We should point out right away that the Congress put into practice this concern to open out beyond the confines of the organisation since, as well as delegations from ICC sections, the Congress was attended not only by sympathisers of the organisation or members of discussion circles in which our militants participate, but also delegations from other groups which the ICC is in contact and discussion with: two groups from Korea and Opop from Brazil. Other groups had been invited and accepted the invitation but were unable to come because of the increasingly severe barriers the European bourgeoisie has set up with regard to non-European countries.
Following the statutes of our organisation:
“the Congress is the sovereign organ of the ICC. As such it has the tasks
- of elaborating the general analyses and orientations of the organisation, particularly with regard to the international situation;
- of examining and drawing a balance sheet of the activities of the organisation since the preceding congress
- of defining the perspectives for future work.”
On the basis of these elements we can draw out the lessons of the 19th Congress.
The international situation
The first point that needs to be dealt with is our analyses and discussions of the international situation. If an organisation is unable to elaborate a clear understanding of the international situation, it will not be able to intervene appropriately within it. History has taught us how catastrophic an erroneous evaluation of the international situation can be for revolutionary organisations. We can cite the most dramatic cases, such as the underestimation of the danger of war by the majority of the Second International on the very eve of the first world imperialist slaughter, even though, in the period leading up to the war, under the impetus of the left within the International, its congresses had correctly warned of the danger and called on the proletariat to mobilise against it.
Another example is the analysis put forward by Trotsky during the 1930s, when he saw the workers’ strikes in France in 1936 or the civil war in Spain as the premises for a new international revolutionary wave. This analysis led him to found the 4th International in 1938. Faced with the “conservative policies of the Communist and Socialist parties”, the new organisation was supposed to put itself at the head of “the masses of millions of men who were ceaselessly advancing along the road to revolution.” This error greatly contributed to the sections of the 4th International going over to the bourgeois camp during the Second World War: seeking at any cost to “be with the masses”, they were engulfed in the politics of the “Resistance” carried out by the Socialist and Communist parties, i.e. in support for the Allied imperialist bloc.
More recently, we saw how certain groups coming from the communist left missed out on the generalised strike in May 1968 in France and the whole international wave of struggles that followed, seeing it as no more than a “student movement”. We can equally see the cruel fate of other groups who thought that May 68 was already the revolution and fell into despair and disappeared from the scene when it didn’t quite fulfil their hopes.
Today it is of the greatest importance for revolutionaries to develop an accurate analysis of what’s at stake in the international situation, above all because in the recent period the stakes have been getting higher than ever.
In this issue of the International Review, we are publishing the resolution adopted by the Congress and it is therefore not necessary to go over all its points here. We only want to underline the most important aspects.
The first aspect, the most fundamental one, is the decisive step taken by the crisis of capitalism with the sovereign debt crisis of certain European states such as Greece:
“In fact, the potential bankruptcy of a growing number of states constitutes a new stage in capitalism's plunge into insurmountable crisis. It highlights the limits of the policies through which the bourgeoisie has managed to hold back the evolution of the capitalist crisis for several decades... The measures adopted by the G20 of March 2009 to avoid a new Great Depression are significant expressions of the policy which the ruling class has been carrying out for several decades. They boil down to the injection of a considerable mass of credit into the economy. Such measures are not new. In fact for over 35 years they have been at the heart of the policies carried out by the ruling class aimed at escaping the major contradiction of the capitalist mode of production: its inability to find solvent markets that can absorb its production..... . The potential bankruptcy of the banking system and the onset of the recession have obliged all states to inject considerable sums into their economies, even though their revenues were in free fall because of the downturn in production. As a result of this, public deficit in most countries went through a considerable increase. For the most exposed ones such as Ireland, Greece or Portugal this meant a situation of potential bankruptcy, an inability to pay their public employees and to reimburse their debts. From then on the banks refused to grant them new loans, except at the most exorbitant rates, because they could not be at all sure they were going to be repaid. The 'rescue plans' which they benefited from thanks to the European Bank and the IMF constitute new debts which were simply piled up on top of preceding ones. This is no longer a vicious circle; it is an infernal spiral..... The crisis of sovereign debts in the PIIGS (Portugal, Italy, Ireland, Greece, Spain) is only a small part of the earthquake threatening the world economy. It is not because they have been rated AAA in the index of confidence by the rating agencies... that the big industrial powers are holding out much better....the world's first power runs the risk of seeing a withdrawal in 'official' confidence in its capacity to reimburse its debts; there is also a growing concern that any repayments will come in the shape of a strongly devalued dollar... And since then in all countries the situation has only got worse with all the various recovery plans. Thus the bankruptcy of the PIIGS is just the tip of the iceberg of the bankruptcy of world economy, which for decades has owed its survival to a desperate headlong flight into debt... By tipping over from the banking sphere to the level of states, the debt crisis marks the entry of the capitalist mode of production into a new phase of its acute crisis that will considerably aggravate the violence and extent of its convulsions. There is no light at the end of the tunnel of capitalism. This system can only lead society into an ever increasing barbarism.”
The period that followed the Congress has confirmed this analysis. On the one hand, the sovereign debt crisis of the European countries, which now clearly threatens not only the PIIGS but the entire Euro Zone, has increasingly dominated current events. And the so-called “success” of the 22nd July European summit on Greece won’t change much. All the previous summits were supposed to have come up with long-lasting solutions to Greece’s problems and we can see how effective they were!
And at the same time, with Obama’s difficulties in getting his budget policies accepted, the media “discovered” that the USA is also burdened with a colossal sovereign debt, whose level (130% of GNP) is up there with that of the PIIGS. This confirmation of the analyses that came out of the Congress doesn’t derive from any particular merit of our organisation. The only “merit” it can claim is being faithful to the classic analyses of the workers’ movement which, since the development of marxist theory, has always argued that the capitalist mode of production, like the ones that came before it, cannot in the long run overcome its economic contradictions. And it was in this framework of marxist analysis that the discussions at the Congress took place. Different points of view were put forward, notably on the ultimate causes of the contradictions of capitalism (which to a large extent correspond to our debate on the “Thirty Glorious Years”), or on whether or not the world economy is likely to sink into hyperinflation because of the frenzied resort to printing banknotes, especially in the USA. But there was a real homogeneity in underlining the gravity of the current situation, as expressed in the resolution which was unanimously adopted.
The Congress also looked at the evolution of imperialist conflicts, as can be seen from the resolution. At this level, the two years since our last Congress have not brought any fundamentally new elements, but rather a confirmation of the fact that, despite all its military efforts, the world’s leading power has shown itself incapable of re-establishing the “leadership” it had during the Cold War, and that its involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan have not succeeded in establishing a “Pax Americana” across the world, on the contrary: “The ‘New World Order’ predicted 20 years ago by George Bush Senior, which he dreamed about being under the guidance of the US, can only more and more present itself as a world chaos, which the convulsions of the capitalist economy can only aggravate more and more” (point 8 of the resolution).
It was important for the Congress to pay particular attention to the current evolution of the class struggle since, aside from the particular importance this question always has for revolutionaries, the proletariat today is facing unprecedented attacks on its living conditions. These attacks have been especially brutal in the countries under the whip of the European Bank and the International Monetary Fund, as is the case with Greece. But they are raining down in all countries, with the explosion of unemployment and above all the necessity for all governments to reduce their budget deficits.
The resolution adopted by the previous congress argued that “the main form this attack is taking today, that of massive lay-offs, does not initially favour the emergence of such movements (i.e massive struggles).... It is in a second period, when it is less vulnerable to the bourgeoisie's blackmail, that workers will tend to turn to the idea that a united and solid struggle can push back the attacks of the ruling class, especially when the latter tries to make the whole working class pay for the huge budget deficits accumulating today with all the plans for saving the banks and stimulating the economy. This is when we are more likely to see the development of broad struggles by the workers.”
The 19th Congress observed that “The two years since the last congress have amply confirmed this prediction. This period has not seen wide-scale struggles against the massive lay-offs and rising unemployment being inflicted on the working class in the most developed countries.” However the Congress did note that “significant struggles have begun to take place against the ‘necessary cuts in public spending’. This response is still very timid, notably where these austerity plans have taken the most violent forms, in countries like Greece or Spain for example, even though the working class there had recently shown evidence of a rather important level of militancy. In a way it seems that the very brutality of the attacks provoke a feeling of powerlessness in the workers' ranks, all the more because they are being carried out by 'left' governments.” Since then, the working class in these countries has given proof that it is not just lying down. This is especially the case in Spain where the movement of the “indignant” has for several months acted a sort of beacon for other countries in Europe and other continents.
This movement began at the very moment the Congress was being held and so it was obviously not possible to discuss it at that point. However, the Congress was led to examine the social movements which had been hitting the Arab countries from the beginning of the year. There was not a total homogeneity in the discussions on this subject, not least because they are something we have not seen before, but the whole Congress did rally to the analysis contained in the resolution:
“...the most massive movements we have seen in the recent period have not taken place in the most industrialised countries but in countries on the peripheries of capitalism, notably in a number of countries in the Arab world, particularly Tunisia and Egypt where, in the end, after trying to meet the movements with ferocious repression, the bourgeoisie was forced to get rid of the local dictators. These movements were not classic workers' struggles like the ones these countries had seen in the recent past (for example the struggles in Gafsa in Tunisia in 2008 or the massive strikes in the textile industry in Egypt in the summer of 2007, which encountered the solidarity of a number of other sectors). They often took the form of social revolts in which all different sectors of society were involved: workers from public and private sectors, the unemployed, but also small shopkeepers, artisans, the liberal professions, educated young people etc. This is why the proletariat only rarely appeared directly in a distinct way (for example in the strikes in Egypt towards the end of the revolt there); still less did it assume the role of a leading force. However, at the origin of these movements, reflected in many of the demands that were raised, we find fundamentally the same causes as those at the origin of the workers' struggles in other countries: the considerable aggravation of the crisis, the growing misery it provokes within the entire non-exploiting population. And while the proletariat did not in general appear directly as a class in these movements, its imprint was still there in countries where the working class has a significant weight, especially through the deep solidarity expressed in the revolts, their ability to avoid being drawn into acts of blind and desperate violence despite the terrible repression they had to face. In the end, if the bourgeoisie in Tunisia and Egypt finally resolved, on the good advice of the American bourgeoisie, to get rid of the old dictators, it was to a large extent because of the presence of the working class in these movements.”
This upsurge of the working class in the countries on the periphery of capitalism led the Congress to go back to the analysis elaborated by our organisation in the wake of the mass strikes in Poland in 1980:
“At this point the ICC had argued, on the basis of the positions elaborated by Marx and Engels, that it was from the central countries of capitalism, above all the old industrial countries of Europe, that the signal for the world proletarian revolution would be sent out, owing to the concentrated nature of the proletariat in these countries, and even more because of its historic experience, which will provide it with the best weapons to finally spring the most sophisticated ideological traps laid by the bourgeoisie for a very long time. Thus, one of the most fundamental steps to be taken by the world working class in the future is not only the development of massive struggles in the central countries of western Europe but also its capacity to break out of the democratic and trade union traps, above all by taking charge of its own struggles. These movements will constitute a beacon for the world working class, including the class in the main capitalist power, the USA, whose dive into growing poverty, already hitting tens of millions of workers, is going to turn the 'American Dream' into a real nightmare.”
This analysis is starting to be verified by the recent movement of the “indignant” in Spain. Whereas the demonstrators in Tunis or Cairo waved the national flag as the emblem of their struggle, national flags have been more or less absent in the movements in the big European cities (notably in Spain). Of course the “indignant” movement is still heavily impregnated with democratic illusions but it has the merit of highlighting the fact that every state, even the most democratic and left wing, is the ferocious enemy of the exploited.
The intervention of the ICC in the development of the class struggle
As we saw above, the capacity of revolutionary organisations to analyse correctly the historic situation in which they find themselves, as well as knowing how to question analyses which have been found wanting in the reality of the facts, precondition the form and content of their intervention within the working class; in other words, their ability to live up to the responsibilities which the class engendered them to carry out.
The 19th Congress of the ICC, on the basis of an examination of the economic crisis, of the terrible attacks which have been imposed on the working class, and of the first responses of the class to these attacks, concluded that we are entering into a period of class conflicts much more intense and massive than in the period between 2003 and now. At this level, even more than with the evolution of the crisis which will play a big part in determining these movements, it is difficult to make any short term predictions. It would be illusory to try and fix where and when the next major class combats will break out. What is important to do, however, is to draw out the general tendency and to be extremely vigilant towards the evolution of the situation in order to be able to react rapidly and appropriately when this is required, both in taking up positions and intervening directly in the struggles.
The 19th Congress felt that the balance sheet of the ICC’s intervention since the previous congress was definitely a positive one. Whenever it was necessary, and sometimes very rapidly, statements of position were published in numerous languages on our website and in our territorial paper press. Within the limits of our very weak forces, the press was widely distributed in the demonstrations which accompanied the social movements of the recent period, in particular during the movement against the reform of pensions in France in autumn 2010 or the mobilisations of educated youth against attacks that were aimed especially at students coming from the working class (such as the major increase in tuition fees in the UK at the end of 2010). Parallel to this, the ICC held public meetings in a lot of countries and on several continents, dealing with the emerging social movements. At the same time, whenever possible, militants of the ICC spoke up in assemblies, struggle committees, discussion circles and internet forums to support the positions and analyses of the organisation and participate in the international debate generated by these movements.
This balance sheet is in no way a public relations exercise aimed at consoling our militants or bluffing those who read this article. It can be verified, and challenged, by all those who follow the activities of organisation since by definition we are talking about public activities.
Similarly, the Congress drew a positive balance sheet of our work towards elements and groups who defend communist positions or who are heading in that direction.
The perspective of a significant development of workers’ struggles carries with it the potential for the emergence of revolutionary minorities. Even before the world proletariat began to engage in massive struggles, this could already be discerned in outline (and was already noted in the resolution adopted at the 17th Congress), to a large extent because, since 2003, the working class had begun to recover from the retreat that followed the collapse of the “socialist” bloc in 1989 and the huge campaigns about the “death of communism” and the “end of the class struggle”. Since then, even if in a hesitant way, this tendency has been confirmed, leading to the establishment of contacts with elements and groups in a significant number of countries. “This phenomenon of the development of contacts involves both countries where the ICC doesn’t have a section and those where it is already present. However, the influx of contacts has been much less palpable in countries where the ICC already exists. We can say that its open obvious expressions are still reserved to a minority of ICC sections” (from the presentation to the Congress of the report on contacts).
Very often, the new contacts have appeared in countries where there is no section of the organisation, or not yet. We could see this for example at the “Pan-American” conference held in November 2010, which as well as Opop and other comrades from Brazil, was attended by comrades from Peru, the Dominican Republic and Ecuador. Because of the development of this milieu of contacts, “our intervention towards it has been through a major acceleration, demanding a militant and financial investment greater than the ICC has ever made in this area of its activity, making it possible to hold the richest and most numerous encounters and discussions in our history” (Report on contacts).
This report “stresses the novelty of the situation regarding contacts, in particular our collaboration with anarchists. On certain occasions we succeeded in making common cause in the struggle with elements and groups who are in the same camp as us, the camp of internationalism” (presentation of the contacts report). This cooperation with elements and groups who identify with anarchism has stimulated a number of rich discussions within our organisation, enabling us to get a better grasp of the various facets of this current and in particular to get a clearer understanding of its heterogeneous nature, since it ranges from pure leftists ready to support all sorts of bourgeois movements or ideologies, such as nationalism, to clearly proletarian elements whose internationalism is beyond reproach.
“Another novelty is our cooperation, in Paris, with elements who identify with Trotskyism...these elements were very active during the mobilisation against pension reform, aiming to facilitate the workers taking charge of their own struggles, outside the union framework, while at the same time encouraging the development of discussion within the class, just as the ICC tried to do. We therefore had every reason to associate ourselves with this effort. If their attitude is in contradiction with the classic practices of Trotskyism, so much the better” (presentation of the report).
Thus, the Congress was also able to draw a positive balance sheet of our organisation’s work towards elements defending revolutionary positions or moving towards them. This is a very important part of our intervention within the working class, part of the process that will lead to the constitution of a revolutionary party, which is indispensable to the victory of the communist revolution.
Any discussion on the activities of a revolutionary organisation has to consider the assessment of its functioning. And in this area the Congress, on the basis of different report, noted the biggest weaknesses of the organisation. In our press or even in public meetings, we have already dealt publicly with the organisational difficulties the ICC has encountered in the past. This has nothing to do with exhibitionism but is a classic practice of the workers’ movement. The Congress examined these difficulties at some length, in particular the often degraded state of the organisational tissue and of collective work, which can weigh heavily on some sections. We don’t think that the ICC is today going through a crisis like the ones in 1981, 1993 or 2001. In 1981 we saw a significant part of the organisation abandon the political and organisational principles on which it had been founded, leading to some very serious convulsions and in particular the loss of half our section in Britain. In 1993 and 2001, the ICC had to face problems with clans within the organisation, resulting in a rejection of loyalty to the organisation and the departure of numbers of militants (in particular members of the Paris section in 1995 and of the central organ in 2001). Among the causes of these last two crises, the ICC identified the consequences of the collapse of the “socialist” bloc which provoked a very profound retreat in the consciousness of the world proletariat; more generally, we looked at the impact of the social decomposition affecting capitalist society. The causes of the present difficulties are partly of the same order but they are not leading to the phenomena of a loss of conviction or disloyalty. All the militants of the sections where these problems have arisen are fully convinced of the validity of the ICC’s fight, and continue to show their loyalty and dedication towards the organisation. When the ICC had to face up to the most sombre period suffered by the working class since the end of the counter-revolution whose end was marked by the movement of May 1968 – a period of general retreat in militancy and consciousness which began at the start of the 1990s – these militants “stayed at their post”. Very often, these are comrades who have known each other and militated together for more than 30 years. There are thus many solid links of friendship and confidence between them. But the minor faults, the small weaknesses, the character differences which everyone has to accept in others have often led to the development of tensions or a growing difficulty to work together over a period of many years in small sections which have not been refreshed by the “new blood” of new militants, precisely because of the retreat experienced by the working class. Today this “new blood” is beginning to arrive in certain sections of the ICC, but it is clear that the new members can only be properly integrated if the organisational tissue of the ICC improves. The Congress discussed these issues with a lot of frankness, and this led some of the invited groups to speak up about their own organisational difficulties. However, there could be no miracle solution to the problems, which had already been noted at the previous congress. The activities resolution which it adopted reminds us of the approach already adopted by the organisation and calls on all the militants and sections to take this up in a more systematic way:
“Since 2001 the ICC has embarked on an ambitious theoretical project that was designed, amongst other things, to explain and develop what communist militancy (and thus the party spirit) is. It has been a creative effort to understand at the deepest level:
- the roots of proletarian solidarity and confidence;
- morality and the ethical dimension of marxism;
- democracy and democratism and its hostility to communist militancy;
- psychology and anthropology and its connection to the communist project;
- centralism and collective work;
- the culture of proletarian debate;
- marxism and science.
“In short the ICC has been engaged in an effort to restore a wider understanding of the human dimension of the communist goal and the communist organisation, to rediscover the breadth of vision of militancy that was almost lost during the counter-revolution and therefore arm itself against the reappearance of circles, clans and parasitism that thrive in an atmosphere of ignorance or denial of these wider questions of organisation and militancy” (point 10).
“The realisation of the unitary principle of organisation – collective work - demands the development of all the human qualities connected to the theoretical effort to comprehend communist militancy in a positive way that we referred to in point 10. This means the growth of mutual respect and support, cooperative reflexes, a warm spirit of understanding and sympathy for others, sociability, and generosity” (point 15).
The discussion on “marxism and science”
One of the points stressed in the discussions and in the resolution adopted by the Congress is the need to go deeper into the theoretical aspects of the questions we face. This is why, as at the preceding congress, this one devoted an item on its agenda to a theoretical question, “marxism and science”. This discussion will, as have other theoretical issues discussed in our organisation, lead to the publication of various documents. We are not going to report here the elements raised in the discussion, which followed on from numerous discussions which had been held in the sections. What we want to say here is that the delegations to the Congress were very pleased with this debate, and that this owed a great deal to the contributions of a scientist, Chris Knight, who we had invited to take part in our Congress.
This was not the first time that the ICC had invited a scientist to its congress. Two years ago, Jean-Louis Dessalles came to present his reflections on the origin of language, which gave rise to some very lively discussions. We want to thank Chris Knight for accepting our invitation and we salute the quality of interventions , which were both very lively and accessible for non-specialists, which includes the majority of ICC militants. Chris Knight intervened on three occasions. He spoke during the general debate and all the participants were impressed not only by the quality of his arguments but also his remarkable discipline, not only strictly respecting the time given and the framework of the debate (a discipline that is often not so well respected by members of the ICC). He then presented, in a very imaginative manner, a summary of his theory of the origins of human civilisation and language, talking about the first of the “revolutions” experienced by humanity, in which women acted as the driving force (an idea taken from Engels). This revolution was followed by several others, each time allowing society to progress. He sees the communist revolution as the culminating point in this series of revolutions and considers that, as with the previous ones, humanity has the means to succeed in making it.
Chris Knight’s third intervention was a very sympathetic greeting to the Congress.
At the end of the Congress, the delegations felt that the discussion on marxism and science, and the participation of Chris Knight within it, had been one of the most interesting and satisfactory parts of the Congress, a moment which will encourage all the sections to pursue and develop an interest in theoretical questions.
Before concluding this article, we want to say that the participants at the 19th Congress of the ICC (delegations, groups and comrades invited), which was held almost to the day 140 years after the bloody week that put an end to the Paris Commune, honoured the memory of the fighters of this first revolutionary attempt by the proletariat.
We are not drawing a triumphalist balance sheet of the 19th Congress of the ICC, not least because it had to recognise the organisational difficulties we are facing, difficulties the ICC will have to overcome if it is to continue being present at the rendezvous which history is giving to revolutionary organisations. A long and difficult struggle awaits our organisation. But this perspective should not discourage us. After all, the struggle of the working class as a whole is also long and difficult, full of pitfalls and defeats. This is a perspective that should inspire militants to carry on the struggle; a fundamental characteristic of every communist militant is to be a fighter.
. Opop had already been present at the two previous congresses of the ICC. See the articles on the 17th and 18th congresses in International Reviews n°s 130 and 138.
. See International Review n°s 133, 135,136,138 and 141.
. “Today, as in 1968, the recovery of class combats is accompanied by a deep reflection, and the appearance of new elements who are turning towards the positions of the communist left is just the tip of the iceberg.”
. See "5ª Conferencia Panamericana de la Corriente Comunista Internacional - Un paso importante hacia la unidad de la clase obrera". http://es.internationalism.org/RM120-panamericana
. The Congress discussed and took up a criticism contained in the report on contacts concerning the following formulation in the resolution on the international situation from the 16th ICC Congress: “The ICC is already the skeleton of the future party”. As the report said, “it is not possible at this juncture to define what form the organisational participation of the ICC in the future party will take because this will depend on the general situation and the configuration of the milieu, but also on the development of our own organisation”. This said, the ICC has the responsibility of keeping alive and enriching its inheritance from the communist left in order to allow present and future generations of revolutionaries, and thus the future party, to draw the maximum benefit from it. In other words, it has the responsibility of acting as a bridge between the revolutionary wave of 1917-23 and the future revolutionary wave.
. The elements who rejected loyalty towards the organisation often fell into an approach which we define as “parasitic”: while continuing to claim that they were defending the real positions of the organisation, they devoted most of their efforts towards denigrating the organisation and trying to discredit it. We have dedicated a document to the phenomenon of political parasitism (“Theses on Parasitism” in International Review n° 94). It should be noted that some comrades in the ICC, while recognising that such behaviour exists and the necessity to firmly defend the organisation against it, don’t agree with this concept of parasitism, a disagreement that was expressed at the Congress
. Chris Knight is a British university teacher who up until 2009 taught anthropology at the University of East London. He is the author of the book Blood Relations: Menstruation and the Origins of Culture, which we have reviewed on our website in English ( http://en.internationalism.org/2008/10/Chris-Knight ), and which is based in a very faithful manner on Darwin’s theory of evolution and the works of Marx and above all Engels (especially in The Origins of the Family, Private Property and the State). He says he is “100% marxist” in the domain of anthropology. He is also a political militant who animates the Radical Anthropology Group and other groupings whose main mode of intervention is the organisation of street theatre that denounces and ridicules capitalist institutions. He was sacked from the University for having organised an event linked to the demonstrations against the G20 in London in March 2009. He was accused of “calling for murder” for having hanged an effigy of a banker and carrying a placard saying “Eat the bankers!”. We don’t agree with some of Chris Knight’s political positions or forms of action, but from having discussed with him for some time now, we are convinced of his total sincerity, his real dedication to the cause of the emancipation of the proletariat and his fierce conviction that science and a knowledge of science are fundamental weapons of that cause. In this sense we want to express our warmest solidarity with him against the repressive measures he has been subjected to (sacking and arrest)
. See our article on the 18th Congress in International Review n°138.
. We will publish extracts from these interventions on our website.
. The participants at the 19th Congress of the ICC dedicate this Congress to the memory of the fighters of the Commune who fell, exactly 140 years ago, at the hands of a bourgeoisie which was determined to make them pay dearly for their “assault on the heavens”.
In May 1917, for the first time in history, the proletariat made the ruling class tremble. It was the bourgeoisie’s fear of the gravedigger of capitalism that explains the fury and barbarity of the repression meted out to the Commune insurgents.
The experience of the Paris Commune has provided fundamental lessons to the ensuing generations of the working class. Lessons which enabled them to carry out the Russian evolution in 1917.
The fighters of the Paris Commune, fallen under the bullets of Capital, will not have given their blood for nothing if, in its future combats, the working class is able to be inspired by the example of the Commune and to overturn capitalism.
“Working men’s Paris, with its Commune, will be forever celebrated as the glorious harbinger of a new society. Its martyrs are enshrined in the great heart of the working class. Its exterminators history has already nailed to that eternal pillory from which all the prayers of their priest will not avail to redeem them” (Karl Marx, The Civil War in France)