Polemic: Confusion of communist groups over the present period

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Underestimating the class struggle

In its struggle against capitalism, which has as the final goal of overthrowing this system and creating a communist society, the working class secretes political organizations which not only express its revolutionary future, but are indispensable to its realization. If the general goals expressed by these organizations, their program, are not subject to fluctuations in time (although they are being constantly en­riched), the forms they take, their impact, their means of action, and their mode of inter­vention also depend on the specific historic conditions in which the class is acting, and in particular the balance of forces between it and the enemy class. In other words, it is not enough for a communist organization to defend a revolutionary program to be an effective in­strument in the proletarian struggle. It can only achieve this if it understands the tasks that fall to it at each specific moment in the evolution of the struggle, if it is able to analyze correctly these different moments. And it is precisely around this question that most of today's proletarian organizations have the greatest difficulty in finding a clear orienta­tion. In particular, issues as crucial as the development of the economic crisis of capitalism and the perspectives for the whole of society that arise from it - imperialist world war or the generalization of the class struggle - are for most of these organizations the subject of enormous confusion, at a time when the greatest clarity about such questions is more than ever indispensable to any contribution to the present struggles of the working class.

In the last few months, the considerable con­fusions that weigh on the proletarian political milieu have tended to take the form of a sort of joint barrage by several organizations against the positions of the ICC. Certainly, the differ­ent organizations haven't developed their at­tacks in a concerted manner, but this simultane­ity partly originates in their shared inability to appreciate the real importance of the strug­gles currently being waged by the working class[1]. Among these attacks, some of them, like those by the Groupe Communiste Internationaliste in No 26 of Le Communiste[2] are so base that it wouldn't be fitting to reply to them in an article like this one. Similarly, while we can find in no 39 of Alarme (published by Ferment Ouvriere Revolutionaire and Nos 9 and 10 of Internationalist Perspectives (published by the ‘External Fraction of The ICC') a whole series of articles devoted to our organization, and while they flow partly from an underestimation of the present struggles, we won't respond to them directly in this article because with these organizations we are dealing with caricatures (the FOR is probably the only organization which is still incapable of recognizing the existence of the economic crisis of capitalism, which is really something for a group that claims to be ‘marxist'; and the EFICC does nothing else but present a caricature of the positions of the ICC).

Rather than attacking these caricatures, it seems to us more profitable, in order to clarify the questions we propose to deal with in this article, to look at other recently pub­lished polemical texts which have the merit, apart from the fact that they emanate from more serious organizations than the ones cited above, of presenting an elaborated orientation clearly different from that of the ICC and of openly ex­pressing the general underestimation of the im­portance of today's struggles.

These articles can be found in No 4 of Communismo, the review published by the comrades of the former Alptraum Communist Collective, and in No 11 (December ‘87) of Prometeo published by the Partito Comunista Internazionalista (Battaglia Comunista). In the first case, the text is a letter sent by the Communist Workers' Organization (which is associated with the PCInt within the International Bureau For The Revolutionary Party) to the ACC on the communiqué by this organization ‘On The Recent Strikes in Mexico' (April ‘87), large extracts of which we published in IR 50. In the second case it's an article entitled ‘The Crisis of Capital Between Historical Objectivity And Class Subjectivity' which, without once naming the ICC, attacks our analysis of the present balance of forces between bourgeoisie and proletariat, and in particular our conception of the historic course.

To the extent that the question of the his­toric course is the key to any understanding of the present evolution of the class struggle, and although we have already often dealt with it in these columns (in particular in IR 50 where we replied to an article from Battaglia Comunista 3, March ‘87, entitled ‘The ICC And The Historic Course: An Erroneous Method'), we must return to it here in order to show into what absurdities one is led when one is incapable of forging a clear view of this problem.

Battaglia Comunista and the historic course: A non-existent method

The ICC's analysis of the historic course has been put forward many times in all our publica­tions. We can summarize it as follows: in the period of the decadence of capitalism, which be­gan at the start of this century, the open crises of this mode of production, like the crisis of the 1930s and the present crisis, can, only offer (from capitalism's standpoint) the perspective of world imperialist war (1914-18, 1939-45). The only force that can prevent capi­talism unleashing such a ‘solution' is the work­ing class; and before being able to launch a world war, the bourgeoisie must first ensure the subjugation of the working class. In contrast to the situation of the ‘30s, the working class to­day is neither defeated nor mobilized behind bourgeois ideals like anti-fascism. The combat­ivity which it has shown over the last 20 years provides the only explanation for why the world war hasn't yet broken out.

The PCInt shares part of this analysis, as we can see from the following passage:

"The world is riddled with tensions which of­ten degenerate into open conflicts (the Iran-Iraq war), or which appear in the forms of coups d'état or' ‘national liberation struggles'; these tensions spring from capitalism's difficulties in resolving the internal problems of the world market. The crisis engenders increasingly piti­less competition. In ‘normal' periods the blows are less painful. In critical periods these blows increase in frequency and intensity and because of this, they very often provoke a ri­poste. If it is to survive, capitalism can only use force. A thrust today, a thrust tomorrow, and we have thus arrived at a thoroughly explo­sive situation where the conditions of degenera­tion (widening and generalization of local con­flicts) appear henceforth on the agenda. The phase which will lead to the unleashing of a new imperialist war is open.

"Why has the world war not broken out?

"All the conflicts between states and super powers show us that the tendency that will lead us to a third world war exists already. Objectively, all the reasons for a new generalized war exist. The same is true from the subjective point of view. The process of subjectiv­ity is asymmetrical in relation to that of the objective historical situation. If this were not the case, the war would already have broken out some time ago, with episodes like the Persian Gulf providing the motive.

"But in what way is the gap between the sub­jective aspects and the process involving the whole structure manifested?"

One might think that here, BC would introduce the proletariat as a "subjective element", espe­cially because elsewhere the text contains the following affirmation:

"It is clear that war is impossible unless the proletariat and all the working masses are ready for it (both for combat and for war pro­duction). It is obvious that a proletariat in the midst of a phase of recovery in the class struggle would be the demonstration of a precise counter-tendency which is the antithesis to war - the march towards socialist revolution."

However BC continues: "Unfortunately we are confronted with the opposite phenomenon. We are faced with a crisis which has reached the level of the utmost seriousness. The tendency towards war is advancing rapidly, whereas the class struggle is absolutely below the level that the objective situation ought to be imposing; it is below what would be necessary to repulse the at­tacks launched by capitalism against the inter­national proletariat."

To the extent that, in BC's eyes, the strug­gle of the proletariat does not explain why the war hasn't yet broken out, let's see what BC thinks are the subjective reasons for this ‘gap':

"Attention must be focused mainly on the fac­tors that go beyond particular factors and are situated in a much vaster process in which the international balances are not yet drawn up and defined in relation to what will be the actual war alliances, the alliances which will constitute the war fronts...

"But the framework of alliances is still fairly fluid, and full of unknowns. The develop­ment of the crisis will undoubtedly leave deep tracks, into which each one's interests will slide and meet up with others in an inverse and parallel process, the clash of opposing inter­ests will trace a dividing line between states which will come down in opposing camps in rela­tion to the barricade affected by the logic of imperialism.

"The nuclear question must also be taken into consideration. A war taking place in the condi­tions of maximum proliferation of nuclear weapons makes the constitution of a war front problematic. The apocalyptic theory of a ‘collective suicide' is totally unfounded. The delay in the declaration of war is partly due to the absence of nuclear disarmament, even par­tial, which the representatives of the great powers seem to be aiming at in the near future.

The meeting between Reagan and Gorbachev presented as being prompted by the desire for Peace, has only served in reality to bring down the last barriers in the way of the outbreak of the war. War is born from objective causes. Subjective factors are only detached efforts which can retard or accelerate, but never prevent."

It seems that we have in these passages the quintessence of Battaglia's thought, because these two ideas appear on many occasions in the press of this organization. We thus have to ex­amine them attentively. We will begin with the most serious idea (while trying to formulate it in a simpler way than Battaglia, whose flowery language often seems to operate as a cover for careless and imprecise analyses).

‘If world war hasn't yet broken out it's be­cause the military alliances are not yet suffi­ciently constructed and stabilized.'

As proof that this is an important point in PCInt's analyses, this idea is again put for­ward, in a more detailed manner, in a recent ar­ticle in Battaglia Comunista (‘The USA-USSR agreement: A New Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact?' in BC No 5), where this agreement is supposed to have the aim of "delimiting, in this phase, the areas and interests most directly in dispute between the USSR and the USA and to permit the two to concentrate resources and strategies at differ­ent levels...and to prepare new and more stable balances and systems of alliances, with a view to a deeper and more generalized future con­frontation."

Similarly, we can read further on that "...the aggravation of the general crisis of the capitalist mode of production...could not fail to lead to a deepening of the motives for conflict even among the Atlantic partners, and in particular among what are called the Big Seven."

Finally, this whole ‘demonstration' leads to the conclusion that "all this (the arrival of new competitors on the world market) can only favor the trade war of each against all, based on dumping, protectionism, secret alliances be­hind the backs of other rivals, etc, but also the formation of new aggravation of interests tending to be concretized in politico-military alliances, the new axes of which will find their place either at different levels within the same system, which is being more and more destruc­tured despite declarations to the contrary and various proclamations of everlasting loyalty, or the perspective of possible changes of camp."

This analysis isn't new. In the past we've met it on a number of occasions, notably in the form developed by the (now defunct) group Pour Une Intervention Communiste which talked about a tendency towards the ‘crumbling' and recomposi­tion of the blocs in line with commercial rival­ries.

But in fact, the PIC was simply taking up the theses developed by the ‘Bordigist' current, which ended up considering that these commercial rivalries would result in the dislocation of the western bloc and the formation of an alliance between western Europe and the USSR. Announced some decades ago, this prediction still awaits its realization.

To complete this reminder, we should point out that for the PIC this tendency towards the ‘dislocation of the blocs' was due to the strength of the development of the class strug­gle which, obviously, isn't the case with Battaglia.

On a number of occasions in our press we have dealt with the thesis that the imperialist blocs are constructed directly on the basis of commer­cial rivalries[3]. We won't repeat here the ar­guments we developed to refute this analysis. We content ourselves with recalling that this isn't a new question in the workers' movement and that in particular it was the subject of a debate within the Communist International in which Trotsky was led to combat the majority thesis which held that the two bloc leaders in the Second World War would have to be the USA and Britain, who at the time were the main commer­cial rivals.[4]

History has, in the most sinister way, amply validated Trotsky's position, confirming that the - real - link between the exacerbation of commercial rivalries and the aggravation of mil­itary antagonisms is not of a mechanical nature. In this sense, the present system of alliances between the great powers will not be put into question by the aggravation of the trade war be­tween all countries. Although the USA, Japan and Western Europe constitute the main rivals on a world market in which the struggle for outlets gets more and more ruthless by the day, this will not call into question their adherence to the same military alliance.

We must therefore be clear about the fact that if the world war hasn't yet broken out, this has nothing to do with any so-called need to modify or strengthen the existing military alliances. It's true that the two world wars were preceded by a whole series of local con­flicts and agreements which were all part of their preparation, and which enabled the align­ments for the generalized conflict to be drawn up (for example the constitution of the ‘Triple Entente' between Britain, France and Russia at the beginning of the 20th century and the cre­ation of the ‘Axis' during the ‘30s). But in the present historical period these ‘preparations' have already been going on for decades (in fact since the end of the Second World War with the opening of the ‘cold war'), and we have to go back 20 years (the break between Russia and China at the beginning of the ‘60s and the inte­gration of the latter into the western bloc at the end of that decade) to find an important change of alliances. In fact, at the present, the imperialist alliances are much more strictly constituted than the ones on the eve of the two world wars, when we saw major countries entering the conflict well after it had broken out (Italy in May 1915, the USA in April 1917 during the first; the USSR in June 1941, the USA in December 1941 during the second). What's more, each of the two blocs have for many years had the greater part of their military potential un­der a single command (NATO since April 1949, Warsaw Pact since May 1955), whereas such a uni­fied command was not created until the second half of the two world wars (and then only by the western powers at the level of the European front).

Thus, to say that today the diplomatic or military preparations for a third world war have not yet been completed is to show an incredible ignorance of the history of this century, which is unforgivable in a revolutionary organization. But even more unforgivable is the thesis that: ‘It's the existence of atomic weapons, the deterrent that the represent which explains why the world war hasn't happened yet'.

Is it possible that serious revolutionaries can still believe such a fable? The bourgeoisie has told us this tale as a reason for building up its nuclear arsenals. In particular, the strategy of ‘massive reprisals', of the ‘balance of terror', was supposed to have a deterrent ef­fect: as soon as a country used an atomic bomb, or even if it threatened another's vital inter­ests, it would expose itself to having its main urban and industrial centers destroyed within an hour. The most murderous weapons that have ever existed are supposed to have the merit of ensur­ing that there will never again be a world war. It's understandable that such a lie could have a certain impact on populations that have illu­sions in the ‘reasonableness' of governments and more generally in the rationality of the capi­talist system. But it really is astounding that here are still revolutionaries who, considering themselves to be ‘marxist', believe and spread such stories, at a time when all the recent de­velopments in nuclear armaments (neutron bombs, nuclear shells, short-range missiles, ‘cruise' missiles capable of reaching within a few meters of their targets, the ‘star wars' program), as well as the elaboration of the so-called ‘graduated response' strategy (the official NATO doctrine) are there to prove that the govern­ments and military HQ seriously envisage waging atomic war in order to win it. And yet this is unfortunately the case with the Battaglia com­rades, who on this point defend absurdities wor­thy of those of the FOR when it denies the existence of the capitalist crisis today. Because the thesis contained in Prometeo 11 is not a slip of the pen, a gaff by a somewhat mixed-up comrade which has escaped the organization's vigilance. It had already been put forward in a more detailed manner in an article from Battaglia Comunista 4 (April ‘86) entitled ‘First Notes On The Next War'. Here we can read:

"Another factor which must not be underesti­mated, among others which can explain the pro­longing of the time needed to prepare the war[5] is the nuclear threat, to the extent that the direct confrontation between the blocs can't depend on the hazard of moments of major tension between the superpowers, because of the risk/certainty of the extinction of life on Earth. The day after the signing of the agree­ment about the non-utilization of nuclear weapons, war will be declared' is a classic quip among us and it has all the taste of reality."

The Battaglia comrades can find whatever taste they like in this quip; for our part, we'd say that their remarks have "all the taste" of chronic naivety. What is the scenario/fiction depicted in the articles from Battaglia April ‘86 and Prometeo December 87? Following up the process of 'nuclear disarmament' set in motion by the Washington agreement of December ‘87[6], the two superpowers will arrive at the total elimination of nuclear weapons or an agreement not to use these weapons. They will then have a free hand to launch a world war without the threat of "the extinction of life on earth," inasmuch as they will trust their enemies not to use the prohibited weapons or not to have kept them secretly. One might ask why, if the two blocs had decided to go in for such fair play, they didn't go a step further along the path of disarmament and eliminate or forbid the use of the most murderous conventional weapons. After all, both of them have an interest in limiting as much as possible the destruction which can be caused by such weapons, a destruction which the ruins and massacres of the Second World War can only hint at. And once they've started on this, why should the world leaders stop there? Of course, they won't have renounced war because we're still living in capitalism, there are still antagonisms between rival bourgeoisies and they will still sharpen with the aggravation of the economic crisis. But animated by the same concern that the war should cause the least amount of destruction, these leaders would grad­ually forbid any use of modern weapons, which are all so destructive: missiles, planes, heavy artillery and then light artillery, machine guns and - why not - firearms....We know the famous phrase ‘If the Third World War takes place, the fourth will be fought with sticks.' The perspec­tive that comes out of Battaglia's analysis is a bit different: it's the third world war that will be fought with sticks. Unless of course it takes place through a single combat between champions as sometimes happened in the Middle Ages or Antiquity. If the weapon chosen was chess, the USSR might have a chance of win­ning the war.

It goes without saying the Battaglia comrades don't tell or even think such tales: they're not stupid. But this fairytale does derive logically from the idea which lies at the centre of their ‘analysis': that the bourgeoisie is capable of drawing up rules of ‘temperance' in the utilization of its means of destruction, that it is likely to respect the treaties it signs, even when it has a knife to its throat, even when its vital interests are threatened. The two world wars, however, provide ample evidence that all means at capitalism's disposal are OK to use in an imperialist war, including - in fact, above all - the most murderous ones[7], including nu­clear weapons (have our comrades forgotten Hiroshima and Nagasaki?). We don't say that a third world war would begin straight away with the weapons of the Apocalypse. But we can be certain that if the bourgeoisie has its back to the wall after using conventional weapons, it will end up using them no matter what treaties it has signed beforehand. Similarly, there is no chance of the present (very minimal) reductions in nuclear weapons leading to their total elimi­nation. Neither of the two blocs, and particu­larly the one which is in an inferior technolog­ical state at the level of conventional arms, the eastern bloc, will ever consent to depriving itself completely of the weapons which are its last resort, even if it knows perfectly well that using these weapons would mean its own destruction. And this has nothing to do with any ‘suicidal behavior' on the part of the leaders of the capitalist world. It's the system as a whole, in the barbarism engendered by its deca­dence, which is leading humanity towards self-destruction[8]. In this sense, the article in Prometeo is quite right to emphasize that the process leading towards generalized war is "irrespective of what Reagan and Gorbachev may think subjectively" and that "war is born from objective causes." The PCInt knows the fundamen­tals of marxism. The problem is that it some­times ‘forgets' them and allows itself to fall for the most worn-out bourgeois mystifications.

We can thus see that in trying to defend its analysis of the present historic course, the PCInt is led not only to pile contradiction upon contradiction, but also to ‘forget' the history of the 20th century, and, what is even more se­rious, a certain number of the basic teachings of marxism, to the point where is takes up, in the most naïve fashion, some of the illusions put around by the bourgeoisie in order to paint its system in rosy hues.

The question that must be posed, therefore, is: how is it that a communist organization, which bases its positions on marxism and which knows the history of the workers' movement, can fall victim to such ‘lapses of memory' and dis­play such naivety towards the mystifications of capital? We can find part of the answer in the article published in BC No 3, March ‘87, and in English in Communist Review No 5, entitled ‘The ICC and The Historic Course: An Erroneous Method.' We have already responded to this arti­cle in IR 50. In particular, we rectified a cer­tain number of errors on the history of the workers' movement, notably on the history of the Italian Communist Left, from whom BC, in part, claims descent. We will limit ourselves to showing the PCInt's complete incomprehension of the very notion of the historic course.

Historic course or fluctuating course?

In the above-mentioned article, the PCInt writes:

"The way of thinking implicit in the ICC's thought is this: throughout the ‘30s the course was unequivocally towards imperialist war, as the Fraction in France claimed. That period is finished, overthrown: now the course is unequivocally towards revolution (or towards the con­flicts that make it possible). It is at this point, at its methodological juncture, that we have the deepest divergences....

"The Fraction (and especially its EC and in particular, Vercesi) in the ‘30s judged the per­spective as being towards war in an absolute fashion. Did they have reason to do so? Certainly the facts in their entirety gave them reason. But even then the absolutisation of a ‘course' led the Fraction to make political er­rors...

"The political error was the liquidation of any possibility of a revolutionary political in­tervention in Spain before the real defeat of the proletariat....

"The methodological error the Fraction suf­fered from was precisely the absolutisation of the course, the exclusion of any possibility of significant proletarian insurrections and the perspective in linking the above intervention of communist with them, the denial of what is always possible in the imperialist phase, a revolutionary."

This indeed is the heart of the divergence between the PCInt and the ICC, even though, as often happens, the PCInt hasn't really under­stood our analysis[9]. In particular, we don't say there is a complete symmetry between a course towards war and a course towards class confrontations, just as we don't say that a course can't be reversed.

"...what we mean by a course towards class confrontations is that the tendency towards war - permanent in decadence and aggravated by the crisis - is obstructed by the counter-tendency towards proletarian upsurges. Furthermore, this course is neither absolute nor eternal: it can be reversed by a series of defeats for the class. In fact, simply because the bourgeoisie is the dominant class in society, a course to­wards class confrontations is far more fragile and reversible than a course towards war," (IR 50, ‘Reply To Battaglia Comunisma On The Course Of History').

Or:

"The existence of a course towards war, like in the ‘30s, means that the proletariat has suf­fered a decisive defeat that prevents it from opposing the bourgeois outcome of the crisis. The existence of a course towards class con­frontations means that the bourgeoisie does not have a free hand to unleash a new world butch­ery; first it must confront and beat the working class. But this does not prejudge the outcome of this confrontation, in one way or another. This is why it is preferable to talk of a ‘course to­wards class confrontations' rather than a ‘course towards revolution.'" (‘Resolution On The International Situation' from the 5th ICC Congress, July ‘83, in IR 35).

Having pointed this out, we can easily see where the divergence lies. When we talk about a ‘historic course', it's indeed in order to de­fine a historic period, a global and dominant tendency which can only be put into question by major events (as was the case during the First World War with the upsurge of the revolutionary wave of 1917, or a series of decisive defeats, as in the 1920s). But for Battaglia, who it must be said more often use the term ‘course' than ‘historic course', it's a question of a perspec­tive that can shift in one direction or another at any moment, since "a revolutionary break­through" can't be ruled out, even during a course towards war. This is also why these com­rades are completely unable to understand what's at stake in the present historic period and why they attribute the fact that generalized war hasn't yet broken out, even when the objective conditions for it have been around for a long time, to the absence of complete nuclear disar­mament, of a treaty about the non-utilization of nuclear weapons, and other stupidities.

Here again, Battaglia's view resembles a Spanish inn: in the notion of the historic course, everyone puts in what he wants. You can find the revolution in a course towards war, or a world war in a course towards class confronta­tions. So you can say whatever you want: in 1981, the CWO who share the same vision of the historic course as BC, called on the workers in Poland to make the revolution whereas the world proletariat had supposedly not yet emerged from the counter-revolution. In the end, the notion of a course totally disappears. This is where BC ends up: eliminating any idea of a historical perspective.

In fact the vision of the PCInt (and of the IBRP) has a name: immediatism. It's the same im­mediatism which was at the origins of the proclamation of the party at the end of the Second World War when the working class was in the very depths of the counter-revolution. It's the same immediatism which explains why today the IBRP is downplaying the present struggles of the class by pointing to the obvious fact that they are not yet taking on a revolutionary form and continue to come up against the various bar­riers erected by the left and the unions.

The underestimation of the present struggles of the working class

Our appreciation of the present characteris­tics of the proletarian struggle has been put forward regularly in the IR and all our territo­rial publications. We won't go over this again here. On the other hand it would be of interest, in concluding this article, to examine how the IBRP - through a document by the CWO published in Comunismo No 4 - concretizes its analysis of the historic course in its critique of our ap­preciation of the class struggle:

"...the events in Europe show that the push towards the struggle is not directly linked to the gravity of the crisis nor to the severity of the attacks mounted on the proletariat...we don't think that the frequency and the extension of these forms of struggle indicate - at least up to now - a tendency towards a progressive de­velopment. For example, after the struggle of the British miners, of the French railway work­ers, we have the strange situation in which the most agitated strata are those....of the petty bourgeoisie. (doctors, airline pilots, magis­trates, middle and higher functionaries, and now, the teachers)."

It's already significant that, for the IBRP, the primary and secondary school teachers are "petty bourgeois" and that the remarkable strug­gle waged last year by this sector of the class represents nothing from a proletarian point of view. We may ask why certain comrades of Battaglia, who are teachers, still judged it useful to intervene in it (it's true that the militants of the ICC made a by no means negligi­ble contribution to waking them up by their sharp criticisms of the passivity they showed at the start).

Addressing itself to Comunismo, the IBRP goes on: "You are probably influenced by the ICC's em­phasis on the episodic struggles of the workers in Europe - an emphasis out of all proportion to reality...alongside episodes of heroic struggle (in terms of the length and sacrifices made by the workers) like that of the British miners, we for our part see the passivity of the other sec­tors of the class in Britain and elsewhere in Europe."

We don't think it would be useful here to re­call all the examples given in this Review and in our territorial press which contradict this statement. We refer readers to them, as well as the comrades of the IBRP, although we know there's none so blind as those who will not see. But let's continue with these quotations where they deal with the causes of this sad situation and the conditions for going beyond them:

"In order to explain the relative passivity of the class and its inability to respond to the attacks of capital, scapegoats (the unions, the parties) aren't enough. The power of persuasion of the parties and the unions isn't the cause but the manifestation of the essential phe­nomenon, which is capital's real domination over society...

The equilibrium upon which bourgeois society rests still exists. It has been consolidated in Europe for nearly two centuries, and a powerful, material class movement is needed to overcome it.

"The more capitalist domination becomes real, and the more it expresses itself in the super­structure, reinforcing real domination to the point where it becomes crystallized, the more difficult and violent will be the process that destroys it."

Voila. By juggling - for the sake of sounding ‘deep' - with the term "the real domination of capital" which Marx used in quite a different context (see the article on decadence in this issue of the IR), we get a nice collection of banalities (when they are not tautologies): ‘today the proletariat is still incapable of overthrowing capitalism because capitalism ex­erts a real domination over society.' Bravo the IBRP. Here is a thesis that will be lone-remem­bered in the history of the workers' movement and of marxist theory. History will also want to remember the following phrases:

"The revolutionary intervention of the Party is necessary to defeat all bourgeois influences, whatever form they take, in order to make it possible to go from protests and demands to a frontal attack on the bourgeois state...

"The condition for the victory of the revolu­tionary program in the proletariat is the routing of what we have defined as bourgeois in­fluences on and in the class."

Once again, the IBRP offers us the silly ba­nalities of argument which bites its own tail:

"There is no significant development of struggles because there is no party; and the party can't exist unless the class finds itself in a process of developing struggles."

How can this vicious circle be broken? The IBRP doesn't tell us. This, no doubt, is what these comrades, who are very fond of eye-catch­ing ‘marxist' formulae, call the dialectic.

In reality, by completely underestimating the place occupied by the proletariat the scene of history right now, by failing to see that it's the working class which is preventing the unleashing of a third world war, the IBRP's view also underestimates the present struggles of the class, both in their capacity to act as a barrier against the attacks of the bourgeoisie and in the experience they contribute to the deci­sive, revolutionary confrontations with the cap­italist state that lie ahead. That is why this organization is not only led as we've seen, to fall into the most obvious traps of bourgeois propaganda about the ‘nuclear deterrent', but also to neglect the responsibility of revolu­tionaries at the present time, from the point of view both of the work towards regroupment of communist forces (see the article on the politi­cal milieu in this IR) and of the task of inter­vention in the struggle. The IBRP's text is particularly significant in this respect:

"We, the revolutionary vanguards, can only have a very limited - almost non-existent - in­fluence on this process (of breaking the equi­librium upon which capitalism is based), pre­cisely because we are outside the material dynamic of society."

If by "material dynamic" the IBRP means the evolution of the crisis, it's obvious that revo­lutionaries have no impact on that. But it can't just mean that because elsewhere, the IBRP con­siders that the "class struggle is absolutely below the level that the objective situation ought to be imposing": we must therefore assume that according to the IBRP the crisis is suffi­ciently developed to allow the ‘breakthrough' this organization is waiting for. In the final analysis, behind the plays on words about ‘real domination' etc, behind the perpetual refrain about the ‘indispensable role of the party' (an idea which we also adhere to), the IBRP is sim­ply abdicating its responsibilities. It's not by permanently shouting ‘We Need The Party' that we will be able to take up our tasks in the class faced with the present needs of the development of the struggle. There is a Russian proverb which says: ‘When there is no vodka, talk about vodka.' In the end, many of the groups in the proletarian milieu today do the same thing. Only by going beyond the attitude of skepticism about the struggles of our class, in particular their impact on the historic course, will they be able to assume the real responsibilities of revolu­tionaries, and contribute effectively to the preparation of the conditions for the world party of the proletariat.

FM



[1] Another element explaining this conver­gence of attacks on the positions of the ICC is probably the fact that our organization, since the dislocation of the (Bordigist) International Communist party, has constituted the most impor­tant formation in the international revolution­ary milieu, and has thus become the reference point for all the groups and elements in this milieu. This does not give us any particular satisfaction: we are much too conscious of and preoccupied with the general weakness of the revolutionary milieu in taking up its responsibilities to rejoice in this situation.

[2] This issue of Le Communiste contains an article whose title alone tells us much about its tone: ‘Once Again...The ICC On The Side of the Cops Against the Revolutionaries.'

[3] We can refer in particular to the 'Resolution On The International Situation' adopted at our Third Congress (IR 18) and the article ‘War, Mitilitarization and Imperialist Blocs In the decadence of Capitalism' in IRs 53 and 54.

[4] See in particular ‘Europe and America'.

[5] We should point out that in a previous passage in the same article, this "prolonging of the time needed to prepare war" is explained in terms of the economic transformation capitalism has gone through since the Second World War, which is in flagrant contradiction with the the­ses put forward in Prometeo No 11, according to which "objectively all the reasons for a new generalized war exists." When you base yourself on a wrong theory, it's not surprising you get into all sorts of contradictions when you try to fit in with reality.

[6] On the subject of this agreement, the previously cited article from BC May 88 perti­nently emphasizes that it only affects 3.5 per­cent of the destructive potential wielded by its signatories, and that its aim is to allow them to "concentrate their efforts (economic, re­search, etc) on the reconstruction and modernization of their respective nuclear and conven­tional weapons"). Decidedly, the PCInt's analy­ses resemble the Spanish inn: there's no fixed menu, each article of the press brings its own conceptions, even if they are in contradiction with those in other articles. For the reader to know where he is, each article in BC or Prometeo would have to be accompanied by a note making it clear whether it expresses the positions of the organization or the particular position of a comrade. The same suggestion could apply to the cases where contradictory assertions are made in the same article.

[7] The Battaglia comrades consider that the non-utilization of combat gas during the Second World War illustrates the capacity of the bour­geoisie to establish a certain number of rules of conduct. What this affirmation really shows is that they are taking at face value the lies used by the bourgeoisie when it wants to demon­strate that it is capable of showing ‘reason' and ‘humanity' even in the most extreme manifes­tations of the barbarism of its system. The bourgeoisie didn't use these weapons in the Second World War because the first had shown they were a double edged sword which could turn against those who used them. Since then, ‘barbarous' Iraq in the Gulf war, and before that ‘civilized' America in Vietnam have proved that with modern technology they can again be used, but more ‘efficiently'.

[8] On this question see ‘War, Militarism and The Imperialist Blocs'.

[9] We must put an end to this lie about the Fraction's "liquidation of any possibility of a revolutionary political intervention in Spain". The Fraction intervened publicly, in its press, and in the proletarian milieu, to denounce the politics of class collaboration under the pre­text of ‘saving the Republic', to give total support to the revolt of the workers of Barcelona in July 1936 and May '37, to support the struggle of the Asturias workers in ‘34. But there's intervention and intervention: interven­ing to combat ‘the Republican anti-fascist al­liance' or intervening to integrate oneself into the militias in support of the bourgeoisie Republic. Battaglia condemns the position of the majority (the first), even if it also criticizes the minority (dragooned into anti-fascism). What then was the right position for the PCInt - and what was it that led the PCInt to launch in 1945 an ‘Appeal To The Agitation Committees, To The Parties Of A Proletarian Direction' (in fact, the CP, the SP and the anarchists), for a ‘united front of all the workers'? See IR 32 on this.

 

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