3rd Congress of the ICC
The political organizations of the proletariat draw their life from the living, historic practice of their class. The ICC doesn’t escape this law and its Third Congress was, in all aspects, confronted with the problems that are now being posed in the struggles of the working class. The Congress began by drawing up a balance-sheet of two years of activity in the class struggle: after three and a half years of existence as a centralized international organization, the ICC has an experience which is limited but rich in a number of important lessons. The first lesson is that our organizational inexperience is accompanied by a theoretical weakness, a difficulty in deepening the questions posed in the workers’ movement of the past. In the constant process of deepening our understanding of social reality, both contemporary and historical, the ICC is still groping its way forward, like all other revolutionary organizations and expressions of the working class struggle. The second lesson is the difficulty -- but also the necessity and possibility -- of living with political divergences. A better ability to pose the questions which come out of the class struggle presupposes a continuous debate, which inevitably gives rise to political divergences, to different appreciations which must be able to be resolved inside the same organization. The third lesson is the necessity to adapt and modulate one’s intervention to the period one is in. All these aspects of the activity of a revolutionary organization -- theoretical and political formation, development of the organization and the regroupment of revolutionaries, active intervention in the struggles of the working class -- were more than ever examined as a totality, a coherent whole which is linked more and more directly to the practice of the working class itself. There was also a particular emphasis on the question of the publications of the organization.
This is why the work of the Congress consisted mainly of a balance-sheet of the international situation. At the Second Congress we were able to confirm the analysis which we had already put forward before the official constitution of the ICC, viz: the end of the period of reconstruction and the opening up of a new phase of the permanent, historic crisis of the system. We were also able to point out and explain the slow development of the crisis and show the reasons for this slowness. Contrary to the apologists of the system or the confused elements who were inspired by the slow rhythm of the crisis to invent fallacious theories and vain hopes about possible ways out of the crisis (restructuring of the productive apparatus, opening up the Chinese market, the eastern bloc, and various other fantasies), we applied a Marxist analysis and proclaimed the permanent, historic character of the crisis. We insisted that it wasn’t a purely contingent affair but would inevitably deepen, that because of the immanent laws of decadent capitalism the crisis could only have one outcome: the march towards generalized war.
This analysis, as is forcefully underlined by the report on the ‘Crisis and Inter-Imperialist Conflicts’, has been fully confirmed by the evolution of the crisis over the last two years. Basing ourselves on this analysis of the evolution of the crisis and on a precise study of the condition of the working class in the present period, we pointed out the inevitability of a resurgence of proletarian class struggle, the enormous, intact capacity of the class to confront the measures of austerity which capitalism is attempting to impose on it. This perspective of a revival of proletarian struggle which was also put forward at the Second Congress has now also been fully confirmed and verified.
It’s true that we have sometimes made errors of appreciation and exaggerations about momentary, immediate struggles and that we didn’t always immediately see how the movement of the proletariat follows a jagged course. But these errors -- which we in any case corrected more or less quickly -- have never invalidated our basic perspective. In order to respond to all the pessimistic tendencies which have appeared, even in our own ranks, each time the workers’ struggle entered into one of the troughs of this up-and-down movement; in order to arm ourselves in advance against all tendencies towards skepticism, who can’t see the forest for the trees; in order to respond in detail to all the objections which we’ve already heard and which can always appear again; in order to base our perspectives on solid ground, it was considered necessary to present a report on the ‘Evolution of the Class Struggle’ – a report which is long and detailed, but which is essential if we are to understand this perspective and the orientation of our practical activity.
It’s the same thing with regard to the question of the historic course. It’s absolutely necessary to reject the absurd theory of two parallel courses, one towards war, the other towards revolution, which go on infinitely without ever meeting each other, without acting and reacting on each other. Such a ‘theory’ is a bit like the response of a Norman peasant: “Maybe yes, maybe no”. A revolutionary class can’t be content with a theory which simply affirms a fatality, a theory of “we’ll see when we see”.
It’s a thousand times better to investigate something, with all the risks of error that this involves, than not to investigate at all. The investigation which the ICC has undertaken shows the validity of our approach and enables us to give an answer not to the question: what are the forces pushing us towards war?, but, in what way, by whom, are these forces of war being held back, so that they are unable to reach a culminating point? This is what our report on the ‘Historic Course’ is responding to -- a report which is an integral part of our general analysis of the period and evolution of the crisis.
However, it is not the same with our analysis of the political crisis of the bourgeoisie and of the necessity for the left to come to power, which for some years and notably at the Second Congress was the axis of our political conclusions about the short term. A specific contribution on this question completes the reports on this change in the situation and its implications for our intervention.
The Congress also adopted a ‘Resolution on the International Situation’, which makes a synthesis of the three general reports on the current situation.
Another part of the work of the Congress was the adoption of a ‘Resolution on the State in the Period of Transition’, a concretization of several years of discussion on the question, a question which will be the subject of a pamphlet publishing the debates that have gone on inside the ICC. An indispensable complement to our intervention and our analysis of the current situation, the theoretical questions of the period of transition, the content of socialism, the ‘general goals of the movement’ remain a constant concern in the orientations of the ICC.
Finally, we were able to welcome to the Congress delegations from the Communist Workers’ Organization, Nucleo Comunista Internazionalista and Il Leninista, and a comrade who has been participating in the communist conferences in Scandinavia. Debates in the ICC are debates in the workers’ movement and have nothing confidential about them; inviting these groups to the Congress can only contribute to a clearer, more direct knowledge of the positions of the ICC and thus to political clarification within the revolutionary milieu.