Polemic: Faced with the convulsions in the East

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The vanguard that came late

The collapse of the Eastern bloc is the most im­portant historic event since the Yalta Accords of 1945 which shared out the world between the two antagonistic imperialist blocs dominated by the USA and the USSR, and since the recovery of the class struggle at the end of the 1960s, which put an end to the dark years of counter­revolution which had reigned since the 1920s. An event on this scale is a determining test for revolutionary organizations, and for the prole­tarian movement as a whole. It does not simply reveal the degree of political organizations' clarity or confusion; it also has extremely con­crete implications. Not only their own political future, but the whole working class' ability to find its way in the tempest of History, depends on their ability to respond clearly to this test.

The activity of revolutionaries is not something fortuitous; it has practical implications for the life of the working class. The ability to develop a clear intervention helps to strengthen con­sciousness within the class. The reverse is also true: confusion in proletarian organizations hin­ders the class' revolutionary dynamic.

How has the proletarian political movement and its constituent organizations reacted to the economic, political, and social earthquake that has ravaged the Warsaw Pact countries since last summer? How have they understood events? These are not secondary questions, mere excuses for sterile polemics; they are vital problems which will have a very concrete influ­ence on the perspectives for the future.

Delay in the political movement: underestimation of the importance of events[1]

Battaglia Comunista's positions began to evolve during the autumn of 1989, but we have had to wait for the New Year to see the first positions adopted by the CWO, the PCI (Le Proletaire), and the FOR. At the end of February 1990, the EFICC published two texts from their internal debates on the situation in the East, but we have had to wait until April to read the Internationalist Perspective no 16 dated winter 1989! The little sects revive in spring, and publish some positions; 'Communisme ou Civilization', 'Union Proletarienne', the GCI, the 'Mouvement Communiste pour la formation du Parti Mondial' all emerge from hibernation. Months had passed, until the end of 1989, when apart from the ICC's positions, workers wanting to understand the viewpoint of the different revolutionary groups have had nothing more to get their teeth into than one meager issue of Battaglia Comunista. In our polemic published in late February, in the International Review no 61[2], we were only able to take account of the positions of three organizations: the IBRP (which regroups the CWO and BC), the FOR and the PCI (Le Proletaire). Six months had already passed since the first important events took place.

Certainly, the collapse of an imperialist bloc under the blows of the world economic crisis is unprecedented in capitalism's history; the situa­tion is a historically new one, and so difficult to analyze. However, quite apart from the dif­ferent positions' content, this delay expresses an incredible under-estimation both of events and of the role of revolutionaries. The passiv­ity of the various political organizations faced with events such as the Eastern bloc's collapse and the questions that this inevitably raises within the working class says much about their state of advancing political decrepitude.

It is no accident that the organizations which reacted the quickest are those whose history attaches them the most clearly to Left Communist traditions and especially to those of the Italian Left, and which have already demon­strated a certain staying power. These are the political and historical poles of reference for the proletarian movement. Fundamentally, the little sects which gravitate around them do not ex­press positions so different that they justify the existence of separate organizations, To differentiate themselves, they can only either plunge from "discovery" to "discovery", ever further into confusion and the void, or ape the positions classically under debate in the revolu­tionary movement, but in a sterile and caricatu­ral manner.

In this polemical article, we will therefore concentrate on the IBRP, which remains, with the ICC, the main pole of regroupment, and the Bordigists, since although this current has col­lapsed as a pole of regroupment it nonetheless remains an important reference point for the debates within the revolutionary milieu. However, we will endeavor not to ignore the positions of parasitic groups such as the EFICC, 'Communisme ou Civilization', or even the GCI which arguably no longer has so much as a toe in the proletarian camp. Clearly, the list is not exhaustive. The latter groups generally cari­cature the weaknesses within the proletarian milieu, and reveal the logical outcome of confu­sions born by the more serious groups.

Faced with the upheavals in the East, on the whole all the revolutionary organizations have been able to set forward, at least on a general theoretical level, two basic positions, which have sometimes had to substitute for any analysis of the situation:

- affirmation of the capitalist nature of the USSR and its Eastern bloc satellites;

- denunciation of the danger of democratic illusions for the proletariat.

Clarity on these two points, which lie at the heart of the proletarian political milieu's exis­tence and unity, is the least we should expect from revolutionary organizations. When it comes to analyzing events, a cacophony of confusion reigns. The delay in taking positions is not just a practical matter, an inability to alter the cosy rhythm of press deadlines to confront historical events; it is a delay in recognizing reality, in simply seeing the facts and espe­cially the fact of the Eastern bloc's break-up and collapse.

In October 1989, BC still sees "the Eastern empire still solidly under the Russian boot", while in December it writes: "The USSR must open up to Western technology, and so must COMECON, not - as some think - in a process of disintegration of the Eastern bloc and the USSR's total withdrawal from the European countries, but by revitalizing the COMECON economies to facilitate the recovery of the Soviet economy". Not until January 1990 did a first clear position appear from the IBRP, in the CWO's publication Workers' Voice: these "events of a world historical significance" mean "the be­ginning of the collapse of the world order cre­ated towards the end of World War II" and open a period of "reconstitution of imperialist blocs".

The two major groups of the Bordigist dias­pora proved to have quicker reflexes than the IBRP: in its September 1989 issue, Il Programa Comunista envisages the disintegration of the Warsaw Pact and the possibility of new alliances, as does 'II Partito Comunista' at the same time. However, these positions remain at the level of hypotheses, and are not devoid of ambiguity: thus in France, Le Proletaire can still write that "the USSR may be weakened; it remains capable of keeping order in its own zone of influence".

In January, the FOR announces timidly, with­out developing the point, that "we may consider that the Stalinist bloc has been beaten".

In spring 1990, the EFICC offers us two po­sitions. This organization's official majority po­sition only sees the events in the East as "an attempt by the Gorbachev team progressively to recreate all the conditions which would allow the Russian state to conduct a real counter-offen­sive against the West". The more lucid minority notes that the situation is escaping the control of the Soviet leadership, and that the reforms are only making matters worse for the Russian bloc.

For 'Communisme ou Civilization', which has published a text in the Revue Internationale du Mouvement Communiste, "the historical importance of current events is due first and fore­most to their geographical position"!! After a long academic screed which considers a multi­tude of hypotheses of every possible description without any clear position emerging, CouC apparently concludes that what is happening in ­the East is a mere restructuring crisis.

As for the GCl and its avatar the 'Mouvement communiste pour la formation du parti commu­niste mondial', whose publications reached us in spring, the collapse of the Eastern bloc is not even envisaged. This is nothing but a re­structuring maneuver to confront the crisis and above all the class struggle.

The organizations of the proletarian milieu have taken months to measure the significance of events, and in most cases their ambiguity on the subject remains; the illusion survives that the USSR might take its ex-bloc in hand again. Six months after the events began, the IBRP can only see the "beginning" of a process, when in fact the USSR has already fundamentally lost all control over its East European glacis. As for the parasitic sects, they have noticed almost nothing. Solidarnosc won the Polish elections this summer, the Berlin Wall has fallen, the Stalinist parties have been ejected from power in Hungary and Czechoslovakia, Ceausescu has been overthrown in Romania, while in the USSR itself the events in the Caucasus and the Baltic states have revealed the full extent of the cen­tral power's loss of control, and the dynamic towards a breakup of the union implicit in the "nationalist awakening". And yet, the political milieu is apparently struck down with sleeping-­sickness. Confronted with straightforward facts, an incredible blindness persists. Our doctors in marxist theory, ensconced in an anx­ious conservatism, have refused to see what even the vulgar scribblers of the bourgeois press cannot help noticing. The proletarian movement's general lack of political reflex in re­cent months is a sign of its profound weak­nesses; incapable, in recent years, of interven­ing determinedly in the struggles of the work­ing class which it did not recognise, the milieu has shown itself impotent in confronting the abrupt acceleration of history of the last few months. A great part of the milieu has re­mained blind, deaf, and dumb. This situation cannot continue indefinitely. They may claim to belong to the working class; but organizations which are incapable of assuming their role are of no use to it, and inevitably become hin­drances to it. They lose their reason for ex­isting.

When we consider how much difficulty the organizations of the political milieu have had in opening their eyes to the reality of the Russian bloc's collapse, which has become ever more blindingly evident as months have gone by, we can get some idea of the confusion that reigns in the analyses that have been developed. We do not intend here to go in detail into all the theoretical avatars elaborated by the various revolutionary political groups - several issues of the International Review would not be enough for the job. Rather, we aim to examine the im­plications of the positions taken up by the mi­lieu on two levels: the economic crisis and the class struggle. We will then consider what are the implications of all this for the life of the proletarian milieu itself.

The economic crisis at the heart of the Eastern Bloc's collapse: a general under-estimation

All the organizations of the proletarian movement see the crisis in the origins of the upheavals in the East, with the exception of the FOR which remains consistent with its surreal position that there is no economic crisis of capitalism today, and so does not mention it. ­However, apart from this general position of principle, the 'evaluation of the crisis' depth and nature determines an understanding of today's events, and this evaluation varies widely from group to the next.

In October, BC wrote: "In the advanced capitalist countries of the West, the crisis appeared above all in the 1970's. More recently, this same crisis of the process of capital accumulation has exploded in the less advanced 'communist' countries". In other words, BC sees no open crisis of capital in the Eastern bloc countries before the 1980's. Was there no "crisis of the process of capital accumulation" in Eastern Europe in the preceding period? Was Russian capital in full expansion as Stalinist ­propaganda claimed? In fact, BC profoundly underestimates the chronic crisis which has lasted for decades. In the same article, BC continues:

"The collapse of markets on the periphery of capitalism, for example in Latin America, has ­created new problems of insolvency for the remuneration of capital ( ... ). The new opportunities opening up in Eastern Europe may repre­sent a safety valve in relation to this need for investment ( ... ). If this widespread process of East-West collaboration comes to fruition, this will represent a shot in the arm for international capitalism". Clearly, BC underestimates not just the crisis in the East, but also the crisis in the West. Where will the latter find the credits necessary to reconstruct the ravaged economies of the Eastern countries? West Germany is preparing to invest billions of marks just to put the East German economy on its feet, without being in the least. sure of the result; to find these billions, it will have to transform its position as principal lender on the world market after Japan to that of a major borrower, which will accelerate the existing credit crisis in the West.

We can only imagine the colossal sums that would be necessary to extricate the entire Eastern ex-bloc from the economic disaster into which it has plunged ever deeper since its inception: the exhausted world economy simply does not have the resources for such a policy; there can be no question of a new Marshall Plan. But above all, how can the stricken economies of Eastern Europe be more solvent than those of Latin America, when countries like Poland and Hungary are already incapable of ­repaying the loans that they contracted years ago? In fact, BC does not realize that the collapse of the Eastern bloc, a decade after the economic collapse of the "Third World" coun­tries, marks a new step into its mortal crisis by the world capitalist economy. The IBRP's analy­sis flies in the face of reality. Instead of a dramatic plunge into the crisis, it sees a possibility for capitalism to get a new "shot in the arm", a means of slowing the decline of the ­economy! With such a vision, it is hardly surprising that BC over-estimates the Russian bourgeoisie's room for maneuver, and envisages ­a possible reconstruction of the Eastern bloc's economy, under the aegis of Gorbachev and with Western support.

The PCI recognizes the economic crisis as being at the origins of the Warsaw Pact's collapse. However, in a polemic with the ICC published in the April 1990 issue of Le Proletaire, the PCI reveals its profound and traditional underestimation of the gravity of the economic crisis: "The extra-lucid ICC in fact develops an alarming analysis according to which today's events are nothing less than a 'collapse of capitalism' in the East! Better still, the March issue of RI informs us that the whole world economy is collapsing".

Needless to say, the ICC does not say, as the PCI would have it, that capitalist relations of production have disappeared in the East. However, with this inaccurate polemic, the PCI demonstrates its own under-estimation of the economic crisis, and in one phrase denies the reality of the disaster which is submerging the planet, and which has plunged the majority of the world's population into a bottomless economic misery. Does the PCI really think that we are still in the cyclical crises of the 19th century, or has it at last realized that today's economic crisis, which it has taken years to notice, is a mortal one which can only become a constantly widening worldwide catastrophe accompanied by the effective collapse of whole sectors of the economy? The PCI, which used to accuse us of 'indifferentism' remains essentially indifferent to the economic crisis; it can hardly see the crisis, and above all cannot understand it. The little academic sects have often specialized in long and boring economic analyses, and pseudo-marxist theoretical innovations.

After a long and insipid screed, 'Communisme ou Civilisation' remains blind to the obvious open economic crisis: it is still awaiting "the outbreak of a new cyclical crisis of the capital­ist mode of production on a world scale in the 1990's". For CouC, the present upheavals in Eastern Europe are the expression of the fact that "the complete passage of Soviet society to the stage of more developed capitalism cannot occur without a profound crisis, as is indeed the case". In other words, the present crisis is merely one of restructuration, of growth, of a capitalism in full development!

The EFICC, which has been going on for years about a "new" theory of the development of state capitalism as the product of capital's passage from a stage of formal to one of real domination, has all of a sudden lapsed into silence as far as this fruit of its learned savants is concerned. This point, which only a short time ago was so fundamental that it justified a diatribe from the EFICC against the ICC for our "theoretical sterility" and "dogmatism" has suddenly lost its importance in the face of the crisis in the Eastern bloc. Understand who can![3]

The proletarian organizations constantly underestimate the depth of the crisis, and fail to understand its nature. Hence their major in comprehensions over the nature of the events which are taking place today. Some groups are only just beginning, under the pressure of facts, to resign themselves to the obvious collapse of the Eastern imperialist bloc under the weight of the economic crisis. However, the fundamental significance of this event, the situation that made it possible, and the dynamic which determined it, escape them completely. With the blockage of the historical situation, where the balance of class forces allows neither the bourgeoisie to go forward into generalized imperialist war, nor in the short term the proletariat to impose the solution of the communist revolution, capitalist society has entered a phase of decomposition and is rotting where it stands. The effects of the economic crisis take on a qualitatively new dimension. The collapse of the Russian bloc is the most striking demon­stration of the real development of this process of decomposition, which is appearing to different degrees and in different forms throughout the planet.[4]

But the political myopia which makes it diffi­cult for these groups to see what is right in front of their noses, makes them quite incapable of grasping the causes and the full dimensions of events. The milieu's meanderings on the cri­sis, which have already largely contributed to paralysing it in the face of recent events, her­ald still greater confusions over the upheavals still to come.

Revolutionary organizations unable to identify the class struggle

Apart from the ICC, the proletarian milieu gen­e rally paid little attention to the workers' struggles which developed in the advanced cap­italist countries from 1983 onwards. The ICC was accused of over-estimating the class strug­gle. In its April issue, BC once again accuses the ICC of trusting "its desires more than real­ity" since these movements "have produced nothing other than economic struggles which have never been capable of generalizing". True, these economic struggles do not mean very much to BC, since according to them we are still in a period of counter-revolution; in this they follow the position of all the Bordigist groups created by the various splits from the PCI since its birth at the end of the war.

BC is incapable of recognizing the class struggle when it is in front of their noses, and as a result even less capable of intervening concretely in it; by contrast they are only too happy to imagine it where it is not. BC sees in the events in Romania in December 1989 an "authentic popular insurrection", and goes on:

"All the objective conditions and nearly all the subjective conditions were present for this insurrection to be transformed into a true social revolution, but the absence of an authentic class political force left the field open to pre­cisely those forces which were for the mainte­nance of class relations of production".

We have already criticized this position in our polemic published in the International Review no 61; this has provoked a response in the April 1990 issue, where BC maintains its po­sition, and adds:

"We did not think it possible that any doubt could arise as to the fact that the insurrection was understood as a result of the crisis, and that it is described as popular and not prole­tarian or socialist".

Clearly, BC either cannot or will not under­stand what the debate is about. The mere use of the term "insurrection" in this context cannot help but sow confusion, and adding the word "popular" only makes it worse. The proletariat is the only class in today's capitalist world ca­pable of leading an insurrection, ie the destruction of the existing bourgeois state. For this happen, the proletariat must first exist as a class fighting and organize d on its own terrain. Clearly, this is not the case in Romania. The workers are atomized, diluted in the discontent of every layer of the population, which has been used by one fraction of the state appara­tus to overthrow Ceausescu. In this situation, where the workers have been dissolved in the "popular" movement, ie where the proletariat as a class was absent, BC discerns "nearly all the subjective conditions ( ... ) for this insurrection to be transformed into a true social revolution"! BC sees, not the extreme weakness of the working class, but on the contrary something grandiose.

All BC's denunciations of the democratic poi­son become a dead letter if they are incapable of perceiving where concretely it is having such a devastating effect on the class' consciousness, and mistake the triumph of the democratic mys­tification for the workers' discontent.

The EFICC has already fallen into the trap that BC is preparing for itself. Like the IBRP, the EFICC had visions over China, and thought it could see the workers' anger ready to burst out. Today it affirms that: "The present illu­sions, the Romanian proletariat's entry into the sinister dance of the struggle for democracy, should not hide the potential combativity for class demands which the Romanian proletariat nonetheless retains". The EFICC here is con­soling itself as best it can, but it is revealing its own illusions as to the working class poten­tial that survives in the short term after the democratic debauch.

In an article entitled 'An insurrection not a revolution', the FOR perceives in Romania "the presence of workers in arms", and adds that "the proletarians rapidly abandoned the leader­ship to the 'specialists' of the confiscation of power". For the FOR, the proletariat has "largely contributed to setting in motion" the changes in the East. Clearly, since the FOR sees nothing of the economic crisis, it has to look elsewhere for its explanation.

BC opens a door to confusion; the ‘Mouvement communiste' and the GCI rush head­long through it. The former's long pamphlet on Romania, which manages to say nothing about the overall situation in the Eastern bloc, is titled: Romania: between the restructuration of the state and upsurges of proletarian insurrection; the latter has published an 'Appeal for solidarity with the Romanian insurrection'! No comment.

We should give credit here to the PCI for avoiding the Romanian trap, clearly stating that in the Eastern countries "the working class has not appeared as a class on the basis of its own interests", and that in Romania "the combats were between fractions of the state apparatus, and not against it". Similarly, the PCI-II Partito Comunista of Florence declares clearly that for the moment the class struggle in the Eastern bloc has been submerged in an orgy of pop­ulism, nationalism, and democracy, and that "the Romanian movement has been anything but a popular revolution". However, while their posi­tions on events in the East demonstrate that these defenders of Bordigism are still capable of identifying and denouncing the democratic lie, and have not yet squandered all their inheri­tance from the Italian Left, they remain inca­pable of recognizing the class struggle when it really does develop at the heart of the industrialized countries. Like BC, the heirs of Bordigism analyze the present period as being one of counter-revolution.

The overall picture speaks for itself. One of these organizations' main characteristics is their inability to recognize and identify the class struggle. Unable to see it  when it does de­velop, they imagine it where it does not exist. This profound confusion obviously renders these groups incapable of intervening clearly within the class. While the ruling class is profiting from the collapse of the Eastern bloc to launch a massive ideological offensive for the defense of democracy, which has got the better of the proletariat in the East European countries, many groups see in this situation the development of working class potential. This turning reality on its head expresses a serious misunderstanding, not only of the world situation but also of the very nature of the workers' struggle. After turning up their noses at the struggles in the developed countries during the 1980s (which de­spite all the traps and difficulties they encoun­tered remained firmly anchored on the proletar­ian class terrain), they now prefer to seek the proof of proletarian combativity in expressions of general popular discontent, where the prole­tariat as a class is absent, and which are con­ducted for objectives which are foreign to it under the banner of "democracy" as in China or Romania.

In such conditions, it is difficult indeed to expect these organizations of the proletarian mi­lieu, which for the most part have seen nothing of the development of class struggle in recent years, or at best have always profoundly un­der-estimated it, to understand anything of the effects on the proletariat of the collapse of the Russian bloc, and the present intense democratic campaign. The latter's confusion faced with these great historic upheavals is expressed by a retreat of consciousness within the class[5]. But how can the proletarian milieu understand the retreat, when they have not even seen the advance? How can they understand the uneven development of the class struggle, with its ups and downs, when they start from the premise that we are still in a period of counter-revolu­tion?

The milieu's weakness takes the form of increased sectarianism

In the previous issue of the International Review, we wrote: "If we consider that the IBRP is the second major pole of the international political milieu, BC's disarray when confronted with the 'wind from the East' is a sad indication of the milieu's more general weaknesses". Sadly, the positions that have developed over the last few months have only confirmed this observation; this has hardly come as a surprise to us. For years, the ICC in its polemics has warned the groups of the milieu against the dangerous confusions within it, but since these groups have remained blind to the class strug­gle, to the collapse of the Eastern bloc, to the present retreat, to the evidence of facts taking place under their very noses, they have also remained deaf to what we have had to say[6]. As a result, they have also remained dumb on the level of intervention, settling more and more into an alarming impotence which has been put, only too clearly into relief in recent months.

However, it is not only on the level of their analyses that these organizations have failed as a factor of clarification for advanced elements of the class seeking a coherent framework for un­derstanding the present situation. Along with their confusion, their traditional tendency to­wards sectarianism has lately deepened also.

Here again, Battaglia Comunista, from whom we have come to expect better, has set a sad example. The intervention by a comrade from the ICC at one of BC's public meetings, simply pointing out the IBRP's massive mistake over events in Romania, and insisting that these were no more than a vulgar coup d'état, has been the excuse for BC to get up on its high horse and threaten to refuse to allow the open sale of our publications at their public meetings. The fact that the Revolution Internationale, the ICC's publication in France, mentioned this upsurge of sectarianism has been enough to provoke the wrath of BC, which has since addressed a vio­lent 'circular letter' "to all the groups and contacts on an international level" to denounce "the lies of the ICC" and the "henceforth ob­jectively piratical nature of the ICC's activity", and to conclude: "While we defy the ICC to con­tinue with this defamatory campaign based on lies and, calumny, in order to avoid more serious reactions we invite all those aware of the facts to draw the necessary political conclusions in their evaluation of this organization". This kind of disproportionate reaction to the intervention by one of our militants at a public meeting in fact expresses BC's growing embarrassment at our criticisms.

The heavy weight of sectarianism in the po­litical milieu is the expression of an inability to debate, and to confront analyses and positions. BC's attitude is in continuity with its sectarian and opportunist attitude when it brought the Conferences of Groups of the Communist Left to an end in 1980. Sectarianism has always been comfortable in the company of opportunism. At the same time as BC is dispatching this ludi­crous circular to the milieu, the IBRP (of which BC is the main group) is signing a common ad­dress on the situation in the Eastern bloc with little groups such as the Gruppe Internazionalistische Komunismen (Austria) or Comunismo (Mexico) whose content springs more from opportunistic concessions than from a search for clarity. BC is for the regroupment of revolutionaries, but without the ICC. This absurd competitive attitude leads straight to the worst kind of opportunism, and increases the confusion in the milieu's debates.

The ICC's ostracism by the old groups of the political milieu, and by its multiple parasitic sects, is not, as we have seen, incompatible with the most vulgar opportunism in the regroupment of revolutionary forces. The EFICC has lately provided the most perfect illustration of this fact: while raining insane abuse on the ICC, it launched itself into a series of conferences with such disparate groups as 'Communisme ou Civilisation', 'Jalons', or 'A Contre Courant', and with isolated individuals. The sects amused themselves with their conferences, and as one might imagine the results were negligeable: at most, some new sects. Today, the EFICC has begun a new flirt with the Communist Bulletin Group, whose origins lie in an act of banditry against the ICC (a real one this time, not an imaginary one such as BC accuses us of). The EFICC is bringing the very idea of regroupment into discredit, but with its nasty stupidity, its bad faith, and the blind hatred of its polemic, it is deforming the whole of revolutionary activity.

For the EFICC, events in the East have ag­gravated its confusion and irresponsibility. Blinded by its own bitterness, the EFICC has treated our positions on the collapse of the Russian bloc as a negation of "imperialism" and "an abandonment of the marxist framework of decadence". One more useless debate will hardly worry the EFICC: this is why it exists. How long will it take it simply to recognize the reality of the collapse of the Eastern bloc? Perhaps then the EFICC will recognize that the ICC's positions were right?  Will it draw any conclusions as to its present attitude?

As for the Bordigist groups, they do not recognize the existence of a political milieu: each one considers itself as the 'Party'. Sectarianism is thus theorized and justified. Nonetheless , the PCI seems to be drawing some lessons at least from its past crisis, and has begun to publish polemics with other groups of the politi­cal milieu. The ICC has even had a polemical response from Le Proletaire, the PCI's publica­tion in France.

What does the PCI object to? Why, to the fact that, we welcomed and agreed with their own position! And they add: "What is important for us in this note is to refute any idea that our position might be analogous to that of the ICC". Let us reassure the PCI: our recognition of the relative clarity of their position on the Eastern bloc has not led us to forget what sep­arates us; but has the PCI been so infected by the sectarian gangrene that our agreement on even one point of their positions should be in­tolerable? Perhaps they will be reassured if we reiterate our conclusion as to the PCI in the article in the previous International Review: "The Proletaire's relatively healthy response to events in the East proves that there is a pro­letarian life in this organism yet. But we do not think that this represents a truly new breath of life: it is more the Bordigists 'classical' antipathy for democratic illusions than a critical reexamination of their politics' oppor­tunist basis which has allowed them to defend a class position on this question".

One of the most worrying conclusions that we have to draw from all this is these organizations' inability to reconsider their theoretical framework in the light new facts, to enrich it in order to understand what has changed. In fact, the acceleration of history has highlighted the incredible conservatism which reigns within the milieu. The sectarianism which has developed in the polemics over the "wind from the East" is the corollary of this conservatism. Since they are unable to recognize the present process of social decomposition, considering it as a mere ICC "gadget", these organizations are obviously incapable of identifying its manifestations either in the proletarian milieu or in their own life, and so of defending themselves against it. And yet, the degradation of relations between the major organizations these last few years is only too clear an expression of it.

Under such conditions, there can be no question in this article of enlarging on these groups' intervention as regards the earthquake which has been shaking the East. No group apart from the ICC has broken its routine, if only to accelerate the frequency of its publica­tions or to publish supplements. Political confusion and sectarian sclerosis have left these organizations incapable of intervening. In its present disarray, created by the "wind from the East" and heightened by the bourgeoisie's cam­paigns, the working class is suffering a retreat in consciousness, and it is hardly the illumina­tion provided by the majority of revolutionary groups which is likely to be of much help to it in emerging from this difficult situation.

The development of the historic course im­poses on the milieu an irresistible process of decantation. The clarification that this process implies, in the present situation of degradation in the relations between proletarian groups, is not happening through the clear and determined confrontation of positions. It will happen nonetheless, but in these conditions it will take the form of an ever greater crisis of those groups which have faced the acceleration of history in confusion, and so put in question their own political survival. The clarification that is unable to emerge through debate will in­stead impose itself in desertions. This is what at stake in today's discussions between the rev­olutionary political organizations.

JJ, 31st May, 1990



[1] This article frequently refers to organizations by their initials a follows:

- Parti Communiste Internationaliste (PCInt), and its publications Battaglia Comunista and Prometeo;

- Communist Workers' Oragnization (CWO) and its publication Workers' Voice;

- International Bureau for the Revolutionary Party (IBRP), which regroups the CWO and the PCInt, and whose publication is the Communist Review;

- Parti Communiste International (PCI) and its publications Le Proletaire and Programme Communiste;

- Ferment Ouvrier Revolutionaire (FOR), publications Alarme and Arme de la Critique;

- External Fraction of the International Communist Current (EFICC), publication Internationalist Perspective;

- Groupe Communiste Internationaliste (GCI);

- Communisme ou Civilization (CouC).  

[2] ‘The Wind from the East and the Response of Revolutionaries'

[3] On this question, see ‘The "real domination of capital" and the real confusions of the political milieu", International Review no. 60.

[4] On this question, see ‘The decomposition of capitalism' in International Review no. 57, as well as the article in this issue.

[5] See ‘Increased difficulties for the proletariat' in International Review no 60

[6] See ‘The political milieu since 1968', in the International Review nos 53, 54, and 56.