The First Congress of Internationalisme (Belgium)
The main task of any congress is to draw up a balance-sheet of the organization’s past activity and outline perspectives for the coming year. This task was particularly important for the First Congress of Internationalisme, the ICC section in Belgium. It must be remembered that it was just over a year ago, at its Founding Congress, that the section in Belgium was formed from three groups (Journal des Luttes de Classe, Revolutionnaire Raden Socialisten, Vrije Raden Socialisten) which, with the help of the ICC, had surmounted their previous confusions. These three groups had been engendered by the re-emergence of the proletarian struggle, and, after several years of laborious study and debate, were gradually won over to class positions, despite several incursions into the mire of bourgeois ideology. At the time, this event was hailed by the ICC as an important step in its own development, not so much because of the new section itself, but because of the positive lessons of this experience of three isolated groups unifying themselves on the basis of a proletarian programme. This was an expression of the revolutionary movement’s growing understanding of the need for world-wide unification. Thus the primary tasks of Internationalisme in its first year were to overcome localist prejudices, to centralize the activity of the section in an effective manner, to overcome linguistic divisions and assure the publication of the magazine in two Languages (French and Dutch), to integrate itself into the work of the whole ICC and assimilate the experience of other sections, and, finally, to ensure the rapid development of its militants, so that the section could catch up with the general theoretical level of the Current. The importance of all this work could not be under-estimated, and it was only a thorough grasp of the difficulties met with in the preceding period that allowed this step to be confidently taken.
After analyzing the economic and political situation at both national and international level1, the Congress concretized the further development and strengthening of the section by adopting political perspectives for the year ahead. The most important aspect of these perspectives was undoubtedly the decision to publish Internationalisme in both languages on a monthly basis as soon as possible. The increased frequency of the magazine’s appearance reflects the fact that the developing workers’ struggle is being confronted with more and more problems which the organization of revolutionaries must respond to if it is to fulfill its function within the proletariat. With the deepening of the crisis and the intensification of class struggle, revolutionaries will have to intervene more and more systematically, not only in response to the immediate needs of the struggle, but also to prepare themselves in a consistent and evolving manner for the revolutionary outbreaks which are now germinating in the fertile soil of the proletariat’s day-to- day struggles.
A second task of the Congress was also concerned with preparing the organization for the future. That is to say, the taking up of positions on general questions which are not being posed directly to the class today, but which will inevitably arise in the struggles of the future. Like the Second Congress of Revolution Internationale, the First Congress of Internationalisme dealt with the problem of the period of transition from capitalism to communism. This is by definition a problem which demands a lot of preparatory study. When the whole proletariat rises up against the bourgeoisie, when it smashes the bourgeois state from top to bottom, when the world is plunged into the whirlpool of the revolution, revolutionaries will have had to have really studied and drawn the lessons from the past if they are going to give answers to the immediate problems of how the proletariat will organize its political power. Because the inner dialectic of the struggle of the working class today is leading it towards a revolutionary outcome; because each struggle contains within it the seeds of the revolution, of communism, the ICC considers it absolutely necessary for its next International Congress to take up a position on the general framework of the political relations that will exist during the period of transition.
Thus the adoption by the First Congress of Internationalisme of a resolution on this question is a moment in the international discussion which is preparing the ground for the Second International Congress. And although the resolution presented at the Second Congress of Revolution Internationale (published in International Review, no. 8) was also accepted by the Congress of Internationalisme, the discussion on this question was both controversial and extremely fruitful. The basic debate concerned the nature of the state during the period of transition and has already appeared publicly in International Review, no. 6; and it was considerably enriched by the discussion at this Congress.
Finally, two important texts were presented to the Congress: theses on the class struggle in Belgium and theses on the continuity of communist groups in Belgium.2 This Congress was an important moment in the life of the section in Belgium, in many ways a step which marked the end of its initial phase of development and the opening up of a new phase of political evolution. It is absolutely necessary to understand where we have come from in order to know where we are going. These texts were for the young section in Belgium a way of renewing its ties with the past of the proletariat and of understanding itself as a link in the historical chain which connects all the struggles and political expressions of the working class.
1 We are not publishing these documents here, since the texts on the international situation from the Second Congress of Revolution Internationale have already been published in International Review no. 8, and a resolution on the situation in Belgium was published in Internationalisme no. 8.
2 These texts will be published by ICC at a later date.