International correspondence: Workers Emancipation Revolutionary Class militant (Argentina, Uruguay)
We have just received from Argentina an "International Proposal" addressed to revolutionary groups and elements. It calls for discussion between, and the regroupment of, revolutionary forces which are today weak and dispersed throughout the world. This proposal, which we present here without our reply, is clearly unequivocally proletarian: it denounces bourgeois democracy, all kinds of ‘anti-fascist' frontism and nationalism. It defends and affirms the necessity of proletarian internationalism against imperialist war.
We salute the spirit and concern of the comrades in their document: the necessity of open discussion, of ‘polemic', of the confrontation of different political positions, of the fraternal political struggle, in order to constitute an international pole of political reference. A pole of reference capable of regroupment and helping the emergence of revolutionary groups and elements. How can we not support the spirit and preoccupation of the comrades when we ourselves affirmed at the constitution of the ICC, in the first issue of our International Review April 1975, our own objective: "to concentrate the weak revolutionary forces dispersed throughout the world is today, in this period of general crisis, pregnant with social convulsions, one of the most urgent and arduous tasks confronting revolutionaries. This task can only be accomplished when placed from the very beginning on the international level. This concern is at the centre of the preoccupations of our Current. It is to this concern that our Review replies, and in launching it we intend to make it an instrument, a pole for the international regroupment of revolutionaries." Even if the results have so far been modest, our intentions remain, and it is in this spirit that we are publishing this ‘International Proposal' signed by two groups: "Workers' Emancipation" and "Revolutionary Class Militant".
The latter group is not known to us. However we know that ‘Workers' Emancipation' is a group which emerged after the Falklands War. It is not linked to any existing group. This group constituted itself little by little throughout the terrible years of the ‘70s in Argentina. It had to confront the repression of the bourgeois state in all its forms:
-- the official: democracy, Peronist, unionist, and of course the police and military;
-- the semi-official, para-state: on one side, that of the infamous commandos of the extreme right, AAA, and on the other side, that of... trotskyism when our comrades denounced the support and participation of the latter in the Falklands War and defended a policy of ‘revolutionary defeatism'.
It was in 1978 that the repression reached its apex at the time of the World Cup in Argentina. It was in 1978 that our comrades decided: "to begin a work of ideological struggle and publish clandestinely ... It's this activity which, when the military government invaded the Falklands, permitted the distribution of leaflets in the streets, opposing the war from its second day. It was in this way that old and new acquaintances regrouped in the struggle against nationalism and the inter-bourgeois war. During these two months, some small groups emerged with an internationalist activity." (‘Workers Emancipation'). After the war, these groups united and "decided to pursue the process of political struggle and discuss the future: product of the discussion, is a document on the future elections and this document is signed: "Workers' Emancipation"."
It's with emotion and joy that we salute these comrades and present here their "International Proposal". In a country where the proletariat has suffered a ferocious repression, the appearance of a proletarian voice is a promise, after Mexico, after India, for the victory in the gigantic class confrontations to come.
It's also the promise for the work and responsibility of the groups already in the international revolutionary milieu. For its part, the ICC will try to fill as well as possible the task it has given itself.
"International Proposal" to the partisans of the world proletarian revolution
On February 22 and 23 1986, a group of militants from certain countries (especially Argentina and Uruguay) met in Uruguay to discuss the present world situation and the tasks of the revolutionary proletariat.
There was a general agreement between them that in the face of the world-wide attacks of the bourgeoisie against the proletariat and the present state of weakness, dispersion and isolation of the small revolutionary class forces, it is necessary to work together to reverse this situation in combating the sectarianism and nationalism which is implicit in certain conceptions of international work. In an attempt to change this situation, the comrades present put forward the following ideas and propositions.
Some preliminary considerations and fundamentals
It might seem strange that here, some groups and a small number of militants, who are certainly generally unknown, suddenly launch an appeal, a proposition to all those who throughout the world uphold with greater or lesser strength, with greater or lesser clarity, the flag of proletarian internationalism, of the world proletarian revolution
But it's not just "here" or "all of a sudden" that once again the anguished cry of revolutionary minorities is raised, trying to break the chains imposed by capital, helplessly witnessing the terrifying blows which the bourgeoisie inflicts on the proletariat and themselves. Whether in periods of rising class struggle or the most violent moments of counter-revolution, these revolutionary minorities discover, one by one, the meaning of isolation, the weakness of their small forces. A weakness which is not only numerical but fundamentally political, since it is impossible to resolve locally or nationally the problems with which revolutionaries are presently posed.
We are convinced that in different places groups are arising which don't identify with the traditional left (Stalinist, Trotskyist and their different varieties), with politics aimed at helping the bourgeoisie to solve its problems, with the position of changing the state form of bourgeois domination or supporting its wars, but who instead try to elaborate a distinctive politics calling for the autonomy of the working class against the bourgeoisie and the struggle to destroy its domination and its state without preliminary (democratic) phases or stages. And we know what it means to swim against the current, without being able to count on any help, without the immediate possibility of reappropriating the historical experience of the revolutionary proletariat, without fundamental theoretical-political texts, and in a dangerous atmosphere of repression.
If, for some, certain definitions or positions are "ABC" which we don't write or talk about sufficiently clearly, for each of us to be able to describe the struggle requires a long process of struggles, of ruptures, of fear and uncertainties.
In the schools here they teach us a saying of a famous man of the last century: "ideas cannot be killed." However, we have learnt that one kills those who have certain ideas (or positions) and that the dominant class can over a long period prevent the reappropriation, the awareness of the link with and the development of experience, of ideas and positions which the revolutionary proletariat lives and builds up in different parts of the world. Thus, paradoxically, it took a monstrous repression (with a subsequent state of exile) and the (Falklands) war to make known here the existence of diverse radical currents and groups throughout the world. To make known - and that still little enough - the experience of Germany and elsewhere after World War One. To get to know other positions in the Spanish Civil War, which were neither Francoist nor Republican. And there is another history closer to us (which we hardly know at all).
Departing from this we have had confirmation that groups currently exist which don't belong to the ‘traditional' political currents, many of whom we didn't know before, and others of whom we don't know when and how they broke with capital and its fractions, but which express to different degrees different moments of rupture with the politics of capital.
But if today we are aware that they exist, this doesn't mean that the present situation of isolation and of weakness has changed. On the contrary, we don't even hear enough about what's going on, not only in far away countries, but not even in a nearby city or in a neighboring quarter. And this shouldn't be understood as a curiosity or as a journalistic question: in Argentina for example, there are continually days when several million workers are in struggle without there being any coordination between them, so they sometimes don't even know that there is a struggle which is going on everywhere. And if this is the case for relatively massive movements, it's even worse with the contact and the awareness of the existence of avant-gardes appearing during these struggles or under their influence.
And we are convinced that in the countries we live in, as elsewhere in the world, groups of workers and militants are being thrown up, trying to break with the politics of conciliation, of subordination to the bourgeoisie, but which, in the absence of an international reference, and with the strong presence of the bourgeoisie in the workers' movement, end up being absorbed by some fraction of capital or simply disintegrating, disappearing.
Few are those who manage to survive the first blows, and those who do so have an uncertain perspective or political isolation ahead of them. Having surmounted different stages and having to double back, they find themselves in an impasse, starting from scratch on new subjects. Something which is transformed into a daily reality, a helplessness which saps those limited forces which already have been politically and economically hammered. Isn't there an alternative to this? Must the preparation of a revolutionary internationalist politics, or at least an attempt at it, proceed step by step, group by group, city by city, nation by nation, generation by generation? Does each one have to go through the same stages, confront the same problems, receive the same blows, decipher the same letters, elaborate the same words, in order after some time and a long hard road, having become strong and "party-like", to join up with ones "equals", or, in their absence, to "spread" to other nations?
We don't believe that this is the only option. We don't even believe that this can lead to anything positive.
On the contrary, we think that the only alternative we must work towards is the international one. Just as it's a mystification to talk about a communist society as long as there still exists even one capitalist country, the same goes for talking about internationalism if it is only conceived of as solidarity with workers' struggles throughout the world or as pompous phrases now and again against war, militarism or imperialism.
For us, proletarian internationalism has a different meaning, and implies making the effort to go beyond general solidarity, since the international dimensions of the proletarian revolution demand the interaction and unification of efforts to work out a unique strategy at the world level and its political corollary in the tasks confronting us in the different zones and countries.
Naturally this can't be resolved through voluntarism or from one day to the next. It will not be the fruit of a long, prolonged "educational" or "scientific" work such as was conceived by the Second International (and not only it), through an "accumulation of forces" ("winning militants one by one" and "elaborating the theory" and structuring the leadership which will be recognized when its time comes) for a far distant future confrontation, whereas every day we see the resistance and the struggle of the proletariat against capital (which in reality, for these "political currents", must be controlled, covered, isolated in such a way that they are adapted for the incessant "task" of supporting some fraction of the bourgeoisie against another, supposedly worse one) .
If the party of the working class is not one of these political groups calling itself such in one or more countries, if one can't agree with "the party for the working class" and the call for "the working class organized as a class, in other words as a party", this is not a simple game of words. If we reject the social-democratic ideas (Stalinists, Trotskyists etc) of the party as an apparatus (intellectuals, workers, etc) carrying the truth, which voluntarily constitutes itself within one nation and awaits recognition from the uncultivated masses, and the international as a federation of parties (or a party which spreads to other nations), this implies a break with these conceptions and practices which are totally opposed to proletarian internationalism and which in fact are just a way of manifesting and defending nationalist ideas.
Among the latter, the most evident is that which conceives of the development of its own group (or their own groups) as a local or national question, with the aim of developing a decisive force for later on, which dedicates itself to making contacts with other groups in other countries in order to absorb them or generally expose them through discussions and declarations.
The international contacts are considered as "private property", with a bilateral practice predominating, something which can include periods of ‘getting together' over so many years, finally coming together in the "United Nations" of "Revolutionaries." The practice of the Second International is a good example of this. We consider that this path can only lead to new frustrations and new mystifications, which is why it is necessary to struggle against all the interests, conceptions and the sectarianism which produce and reproduce the divisions created by the bourgeoisie in the defense of its internal markets, of its states, of "its" proletarians, in other words, of the surplus value it extracts.
On certain accusations
We don't know if the above is sufficient to present this proposition and justify it, or if it requires greater development. However, we believe it necessary to add precisions regarding certain accusations.
To be sure, many will ask themselves: "With whom, to what point and how does one place oneself within a proletarian internationalist perspective? How to determine this? Who is to do so?" It's evident that nobody would think of working with, or even making a leaflet with someone in the enemy camp. Regarding the class enemy there can be neither conciliation nor entryism. But not everybody is an enemy. It cannot be denied that among the groups and persons not belonging to the latter there is often intolerance, static visions and sectarianism. There is a practice of divergence, a dispute over "customers" in common, a nationalism and a "defense of one's own back garden" disguised as intransigence.
We cannot escape this problem in an international proposition. It's natural that nobody would think of working in a common perspective with a group of the Fourth International or with a third world Maoist. But if the character of the enemy class is evident in certain cases, in others it's much more subtle, which makes it difficult to draw up a line of demarcation, all the more so when we are seeking to take a step forward in the present situation of weakness, isolation and dispersion.
We believe that it is impossible to elaborate an ensemble of "programmatic" points, which would only be the proof of opportunism, unless they are so worked out and profound that perhaps only the group itself could agree, if at all.
One shouldn't pretend either that groups and isolated individuals in each country of the world can ripen in the same way as in other zones or that we can take this or that definition which, as widespread as it may be in certain places, is not the product of a shared history, of which as we have already pointed out, little or nothing is known in other zones.
Conversely, the almost one year long strike of the British miners didn't give rise to any serious attempt at coordinating a common response of the different groups and militants scattered across the globe, something which points not only to a weakness and a hesitation, but to sectarianism, to conceptions of the class struggle and of the party like those of social democracy. And in the face of the Iran-Iraq war? And of South Africa and Bolivia and elsewhere where the proletariat in struggle has received the hardest blows? What reply, however minimal, has been attempted at the international level?
How to resolve this? How are the criteria for our recognition to be decided in order that from the outset the proposition to overcome the present situation isn't still-born (either being ambiguous enough to lead to a free for all, or else being so strict that the only ones ‘admitted' are already working together?).
For us, the criteria for our recognition are in practice. And that what the second part of the Proposition deals with, even if the latter, no more than anything else, can evade the essential, unique "guarantee": the struggle.
With the objective of:
-- contributing to the modification of the present state of weakness of the tiny revolutionary and class forces scattered throughout the world, in order to raise its possibilities of action in the class struggle;
-- consolidating and enlarging today's sporadic coming together, in the perspective of organizing and centralizing a proletarian internationalist tendency which exists today, with all its limits and errors, we propose the following:
1) A coordinated response in the face of certain attacks of capital (eg. on the question of the British miners, of the workers of South Africa, Iran-Iraq, etc): joint leaflets and campaigns, political information, moments of practical relations and orientations affecting the world proletariat.
2) International Information:
a) about workers' struggles, in order to make propaganda as much as possible on the most important struggles taking place in each region or country in order to spread their echo and to reinforce the reality of proletarian internationalism and proletarian fraternity;
b) about different political groups, not only participants in the proposal, but also enemies, since this is a necessary element for the political struggle against them;
c) about historical experience, texts and documents produced in the long struggle of the proletariat against capital and all exploitation.
3) Theoretical-political polemic with a view towards taking up joint positions and as a contribution to the development of revolutionary politics.
For those who not only agree on a whole series of points but are in agreement on praxis, and who put forward all the points of this proposition, in particular point 1 (common action), it is vital to organize the discussion. And solely for those, we propose two things:
4) The international organization of correspondence, implying the creation of a fluid network of exchange and of communication, which should be one of the material bases of point 7.
5) An International Review, which should not be conceived of as an ensemble of the political positions of the different groups brought together under a "collective" cover. On the contrary, it should be an instrument to consolidate the realized common activity, to propagate and argue shared positions and, to be sure, to develop the necessary public discussion on the vital questions concerning the tasks of the moment, the proposed activity and the "open" themes, given a common agreement on the necessity to include them.
6) To the degree that there is the necessary agreement, to stimulate the participation of other groups in the press and vice versa and the spreading of texts of intervening groups.
7) Move towards creating a common "internal" discussion: in other words, not limit oneself to the "official and public" polemic between groups, but also the discussion of communists in the face of "open" problems.
All the activities and all the decisions which the participating groups take will be through general agreement, in other words, unanimously.
To whom do we make this proposition?
1. Anyone in the world waging struggle against the attacks of capital, against all imperialist or inter-bourgeois wars, against all bourgeois states (regardless of shade or color) with the aim of the working class imposing its dictatorship against the bourgeoisie, its social system and all forms of exploitation.
2. All those who don't support any fraction of the bourgeoisie against another, but who struggle against them all. Those who don't defend inter-classist fronts, neither adhering to nor participating in them.
3. Those who practically accept that "the workers have no country," this fundamental phrase which doesn't just say that the workers can't defend what they don't have, but that they "can" and "must" intervene in the struggles and tasks posed in the different countries of the world, despite the fact that, from the bourgeois point of view, this would be considered as an interference and against "the right of nations to self-determination." A right which is called for each time the revolutionary proletariat or its avant-garde reinforces its international links in the face of its class enemy, a right which is trampled on each time it comes to putting down and massacring revolutionary movements.
4. Precisely for this reason, those who fight against the politics of "defense of the national economy", of economic recovery, of "sacrifices to resolve crisis", to those who don't swallow the policies of expansion of their own bourgeoisie even when the latter is economically, politically or militarily attacked; to those who always struggle against the entire bourgeoisie, both local and foreign.
5. To those who combat the forces and the ideologies which set out to chain the proletarians to the economy and to the politics of the nation state, disarming them under the pretext of "realism" and the "lesser evil".
6. To those who don't propose to "recuperate" or "reconquer" the unions. On the contrary, to those who characterize the latter as instruments and institutions of the bourgeoisie and of its state. In no way can the unions defend to the end the immediate interests of the proletariat. In no way can they serve the revolutionary interests of the proletariat.
7. Those who agree that one of the tasks on this terrain is to battle to the end against the political line of class collaboration supported by the unions, and who contribute to making the rupture of the class from the unions irreversible.
8. To those who do all they can to contribute to reinforcing all the attempts at unification of the proletariat, in order to confront capital, even partially, all the attempts at extension, generalization and deepening of the struggles of resistance against capital.
9. To those who defend the struggles against all varieties of capitalist repression, whether those exercised by the official (state) military forces of law and order, or that of its civilian colleagues of the left and right of capital. To those who, as best they can, collaborate with groups who suffer the blows of repression.
10. To those avant-gardes who, in the struggle against the bourgeoisie and its state, pitilessly combat those who limit themselves to criticizing one of the forms which the dictatorship of the bourgeoisie takes on (the most violent, military one in fact) and defend democracy or struggle for its development.
11. In this sense, in the face of the bourgeoisie's false alternative of fascism/anti-fascism, to those who denounce the bourgeois class character of anti-fascist fronts and of democracy, and pose the necessity of struggling for the destruction of the bourgeois state, in whatever form it presents itself, with the objective of abolishing the system of wage labor and the world-wide elimination of class society and all forms of exploitation.
12. To those for whom proletarian internationalism implies, first of all, the struggle against one's own bourgeoisie, revolutionary defeatism in case of any war which is not the class war of the proletariat against the bourgeoisie and for the world proletarian revolution.
13. To those who, with whatever different theorizations on the party, agree on the fact that they are international from birth onwards, or they are nothing.
14. Finally, to those who, in accordance with their strength and their situation have defined their tasks against the bourgeoisie, oriented towards two fundamental aspects:
a) push the development of the class autonomy of the proletariat;
b) contribute to the construction and development of the politics of proletarian internationalism and the world party.
In other words, whereas the means, the tasks and priorities can be adapted in different ways depending on a given situation, all of this must be in relation to one sole perspective: the constitution of the working class as a world-wide force for the destruction of the capitalist system.
We believe that the above formulations can and should be improved, corrected, completed. We aren't going to defend every last dot and comma of this Proposition, but its general sense.
In the first discussions we have had on the present situation and on how to begin to change it, there have been comrades who have expressed a certain pessimism on the reception it will receive and on the possibilities of its realization. We believe that in the face of the terrible blows which the bourgeoisie delivers against a proletariat searching, sometimes desperately, to resolve its problems, in the face of the possibility (and the realities) of inter-bourgeois war, in the face of massacres of the workers, of children and the old, which are repeated in different parts of the world, and in the face of the ever-growing mountain of tasks imposed on revolutionaries at present, the politics of the sect, of greediness, of "leaving things till later" and the implicit or explicit defense of the present "status quo" don't match up.
The recognition of the present situation should be translated through a political initiative capable of recuperating the lost ground and of overcoming grave weaknesses. In this sense, the common engagement must be the struggle for a radical change in the international relations between revolutionaries. In other words, going beyond a simple exchange of positions (sometimes not even that) to a joint taking of positions in the face of the attack of the bourgeoisie against the proletariat, to an indispensable coordination orienting the reflection and the debate on questions which consolidate the common perspective.
Among the objections which could be raised in relation to the viability of this proposition, are ones on how to concretize it.
Here we find in point 5, if one agrees with it at all, the means for studying how to organize its realization. We don't pretend to give a reply here to each question and problem, but to manifest an engagement to struggle for its concretization.
It is evident that the rapid execution of certain things requires physical meetings. We don't believe that this is absolutely necessary, that is to say, at present it seems to us to be very difficult to achieve, at least for those of us who live in this part of the world.
At present, we don't see the conditions allowing for the organization of a really international meeting: a trip abroad is (economically) forbidden to us. A trip of 8,000km, the equivalent of more than 15 months wages (more than 20 if we take the minimum defined by the government). That's why we believe that to begin with the relations and discussions, at least between the non-Europeans and the Europeans, should be through correspondence. This will take more time and make the task more difficult, but it's not impossible, far from it (a letter from Europe, for example, if there isn't a strike, takes 15 to 20 days).
Security conditions (those who have confidence in legality are not only childish but a danger for revolutionaries) also pose obstacles, but they can and will be resolved.
Language also creates inconveniences. For our part, and up till now, the only one we have been able to write is Spanish. Some of us can read Italian, Portuguese, and English with difficulty. With a bit of imagination, someone might manage to understand a little French, but there is nothing to be done with German. The other languages "don't exist." Taking this into account, what's in Castillan won't have the same circulation and rapidity as the other languages in the established order.
To conclude, the initiative which we are presenting has been put forward in its fundamentals. Those who show an interest or agree with it will receive a part entitled "More On Organization". In other words, how we see its realization and concretization .
We guarantee that all those who write to us will get a copy of all the replies received. The future organization of the correspondence, discussions, etc, will be with those who agree and will depend on the way they agree among themselves.
For those who agree with the spirit of the proposition, we will ask them to spread it and to give us details (if possible with their address) of groups which have received this convocation. Uruguay, February 1986.
ICC note: we are not publishing a ‘clarifying note' which appeared as a post-script, due to lack of space. This note was written after the meeting in March ‘86. The comrades make some precisions about the ‘technical' aspects of their proposal and about the assigning of articles. They propose that the review be divided into three parts: "one common to all the intervening groups based on a common agreement which would explain and/or show the bases for the positions shared. A second part, where the subject would be chosen jointly but on which the positions would be individual ones. And a third part where the subject would be freely chosen by each participant, where they could push forward the discussion of themes they thought important and which they did not consider had been correctly approached by the others. Or a ‘new' subject or a particular argumentation. We consider as fundamental the inclusion of three parts in this international proposal". (Emancipation Obrera and Militancia Clasista Revolucionaria).
We have just seen your pamphlet: "International Proposal to all partisans of the World Proletarian Revolution".
After a first reading and discussion, we salute, before anything else, the spirit which animates your ‘proposal' which we support with determination.
We can only agree that the revolutionary movement not only finds itself today in a position of extreme weakness - numerically, politically and moreover organizationally - but above all suffers from immense dispersal and the isolation of the weak groups which identify with it. Like you, we think that one of the first tasks - indeed the first task today - of each group really situating itself on the revolutionary terrain of the proletariat is to use all its power to put an end to this deplorable situation, to react vigorously against the dispersion and isolation, against the sectarian and shopkeeper spirit, for the development of links, contacts, discussions of regroupments and common action between groups, on the international and national level. Those who, among these groups, don't feel this necessity - and they unfortunately exist - show their incomprehension of our present situation, and thus their tendency to sclerosis.
That a group in Argentina, uncovers in turn, this urgent necessity - which is all to its credit - doesn't surprise us: 1) because the fact that it appreciates this necessity proves its revolutionary vitality and 2) because we have found this same preoccupation in the other groups emerging recently such as the ‘Alptraum' group in Mexico or that of the ‘Internationalist Communist' in India.
Why the awareness of this necessity precisely today? To understand this it's not sufficient to say that the anxious cry of revolutionaries trying to break the ‘cordon sanitaire' of capital, yet again, isn't emerging all at once; it's not sufficient to say that in periods of rising class struggle as much as in moments of the most violent counter-revolution, these minorities "discover, one after the other, what this isolation means, the weakness of their small forces, a numerical if not fundamentally political weakness..." If it is true that revolutionaries always try to break the ‘cordon sanitaire' of the bourgeoisie looking to disperse them and isolate them from their class, one cannot put "periods of heightened class struggle" and "the most violent moments of counterrevolution" on the same level.
Without falling into fatalism, the historical experience of the class struggle teaches us that a period of reflux and of profound defeats of the proletariat leads inevitably to a dispersion of revolutionary forces and the tendency to isolation. The task then imposed on revolutionary groups is that of trying to limit as much as possible the avalanche of the enemy class in order to prevent the latter pushing them into the void. In a sense, isolation in such a situation is not only inevitable but necessary to better resist the temporary force of the current and the risk of being carried along with it. This was the case, for example, in the political attitude of Marx and Engels dissolving the Communist League in the aftermath of the violent defeats suffered by the proletariat during the social turmoil of 1848-51, dissolving the First International after the bloody crushing of the Paris Commune, like the policy of Lenin and Luxemburg at the time of the bankruptcy of the Second International at the outbreak of World War One. One can also cite as an example the constitution and activity of the Fraction of the Italian Left after the collapse of the Third International under Stalinist leadership.
It's quite different for the activity of revolutionary groups in a period of rising class struggle. If, in a period of reflux, revolutionary groups swim against the stream, and therefore on the sides and in small units, in a period of flux it is their duty to be with the stream, as massively and internationally organized as possible. The revolutionary groups who don't understand this, who don't act in this sense, whether because they don't understand the situation, the period in which the class struggle finds itself and its dynamic, or whether having survived the period of reflux and dispersal with difficulty, they have become more of less sclerotic, find themselves incapable of assuming the function for which the class gave rise to them.
The sectarianism which you rightly denounce with so much force, is at root nothing other than the survival of a tendency to close in on oneself, corresponding to a period of reflux. Raising this tendency to the level of theory and practice, to a shopkeeper spirit, above all in a period of flux, is the sign of an extremely dangerous process of sclerosis and eventually death for any revolutionary group.
Only an analysis and a true comprehension of the period opened up at the end of the ‘60s with the outbreak of the world crisis of decadent capitalism and the resurgence of class struggle by a new undefeated generation of the proletariat maintaining all its potentiality and combativity permits an understanding of the imperious necessity posed today to existing revolutionary groups in the world and emerging in different countries; that of consciously engaging in the search for contact, information, discussion, clarification, confrontation of political positions, the taking of positions and common action among the groups resolutely engaged in a process of decantation and regroupment. This work is the only one which leads to the perspective of the organization of the future world party of the proletariat. This understanding of the period and its needs is also the major condition to effectively combat sectarianism and its manifestations which still rage today in the revolutionary milieu.
We have dwelt on this question not to criticize but to support your ‘proposal' with an argumentation which we think reinforces it. The struggle against dispersion and isolation, the struggle against sectarianism has always been and remains a major preoccupation of the ICC since its constitution. We are delighted to find this preoccupation today coming from a group as isolated as yours, reinforcing our conviction in its validity. That's why we are proposing to translate and publish your text without delay in the next issue of our International Review in French and English (and probably later in the International Reviews in Spanish and Italian). We are convinced you won't object to this publication (of course, we will not, for security reasons, give your address without an explicit authorization from you).
This preoccupation with the necessity to break with the dispersion and isolation of revolutionary groups, and the conviction of its validity, were at the basis of the three international conferences of revolutionary groups initiated by us and Battaglia Communista from 1977 to 1980. These conferences which could have become a meeting place and pole of reference and of regroupment for new groups emerging in different countries came to grief in the face of the sectarianism of groups like Battaglia Communista for whom these conferences ought to remain silent, to be a place uniquely for the confrontation of groups fishing for recruits. On our insistence, the reports of these conferences have been published in French, English and Italian. We will send these to you quickly.
The urgent need to break with dispersal and isolation is certainly not an easy task and cannot be accomplished the day after tomorrow. However, that is not a reason to give up but, on the contrary, this difficulty must itself stimulate the efforts of each revolutionary group worthy of the name to do it.
We cannot, in this letter, make a detailed examination of each paragraph let alone each formulation. As you say yourselves, this text doesn't pretend to be complete or definitive. There will be time to discuss this or that formulation, or such and such an argument. For the moment, what matters is the principle, the main concern of the ‘proposal'. It's that which we agree with. However, two fundamental questions raised by this 'proposal' must be looked at:
1) To whom is such a ‘Proposal' addressed?
In response, it's clear we're looking for the largest possible participation of authentic revolutionary groups, even if divergences on particular but secondary points exist amongst these groups. However, it's not a question of linking up with anybody, like a lonely-hearts' club, which would be a negative perspective, a trap, and not a reinforcement of the revolutionary movement. With the dispersion and different degrees of maturity of existing groups in the present movement, there are no selective criteria which can guarantee, all at once, in an absolute way, such a selection. But there are - and they must be formulated - minimum criteria for a general framework in which the groups can adhere while maintaining their own positions which are nevertheless compatible with this framework.
We must reject monolithism as well as the gathering of fundamentally heterogeneous forces on the basis of vague and incoherent political positions.
In your section: "To whom do we make this Proposal?" you try to give a reply by enumerating at length (perhaps at too much length) certain positions to serve as criteria. Whatever improvement in formulations could be made, these positions or critiques of mistaken positions are at root absolutely correct, in our opinion. However, it's the lack of a clear and explicit position on some very important questions which is worrying. We will mention some of them:
-- the rejection of all participation in electoral campaigns in the present period of decadent capitalism;
-- the necessity to conceive and situate oneself in the continuity of the history of the workers' movement, of its theoretical and political acquisitions (not a passive continuity and simple repetition, but a dynamic continuity and surpassing strictly linked to the experiences and evolution of all the contradictions of the capitalist system, putting on the agenda the objective necessity for its destruction). That implies the recognition of Marxism as the revolutionary theory of the proletariat, the identification with the successive contributions of the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd Internationals and the left communists who came out of them;
-- the unambiguous recognition of the proletarian nature of the Bolshevik Party (before its bankruptcy and its definitive passage into the camp of the counter-revolution) and of the October Revolution.
It is surprising not to find, in your text, any reference to these questions, nor to the recognition of the Workers' Councils, the "finally found form" of the unitary organization of the class in respect of the concrete realization of the proletarian revolution. We are equally astonished not to find any mention of the question of guerilla terrorism (urban or not) and on the categorical rejection of these types of actions (particular to the desperate layers of the petit-bourgeoisie, to nationalism, and which are effectively maintained and manipulated by the fulfilled, this point of the ‘proposal' seems to state), not in the name of pacifism which is only the other side of the same coin, but in the name of its ineffectiveness and of its pretension, at best, to arouse, and at worst, to substitute itself for the only adequate violence - the class violence of the open, massive and generalized struggle of the great masses of the working class. Your silence is all the more surprising since you live and struggle in a continent and a country where these types of adventurist actions of the tupamaros and other guevarist guerillas are infamous.
2) The second question relates to your concrete proposals for the realization of this great project, notably to the publication of a common review of the supporting groups and its mode of functioning. Beginning on this last point you propose unanimity as a rule of all activity and decision. Such a rule doesn't seem to us to be the most appropriate. It carries the risk either of constant agreement - and thus of monolithism - or the paralysis of the participating groups each time one of them finds itself in disagreement. Point 5 of your proposal is on the eventuality of a common publication. It isn't useful to open a discussion on the structure of such a publication (division into 3 parts, etc..) since the very project of such a publication immediately, seems to us, in all respects, largely premature. A common publication of numerous groups presupposes two conditions:
a) a more profound knowledge of the political trajectory of the different groups and of their present positions, an effective integration of these positions in the framework of elaborated criteria and their tendency to converge in the more or less long-term;
b) and on this basis, a serious advance in the experience of a common activity allowing these groups to participate on the organizational level before being able to really confront the inherent difficulties of such a publication (political and technical questions of the nomination of a responsible editorship, question of the languages in which such a review must be published, and finally, questions of administration and financial resources).
Neither of these two conditions being actually is unrealizable for the present nor, consequently, it would be wrong to make it a central point. It would be more prudent and advantageous to content ourselves, for the moment, with the realizable task of assuring the circulation of discussion texts between supporting groups on important themes and as much as possible, agreed in common.
The proposal of reciprocal information, exchange of publications, reciprocal distribution of the different supporting groups, the possibility of publishing articles of other groups in the press and eventually the taking of common positions on important events and thus a common public intervention, remains. This part of your general proposal can be realized in a relatively brief period, always in the spirit of breaking isolation, tightening up contact between existing and emerging revolutionary groups, of developing discussions and favourising a process of decantation and regroupment of revolutionaries.
In a word, better to start prudently and reach the destination than to set off at a gallop only to run out of breath and stop half-way.
With communist greetings,
 We have not published the address of these groups: for all contact readers can write to the postbox of Revolution Internationale in France who will pass it on.
 "Workers Emancipation" has suffered the repression and violence of the MAS, a trotskyist group which called for participation in the Falklands War, supporting the generals.
 This pamphlet didn't reach us directly (why?) but through our section in Venezuela.