XIth ICC Congress: Combat to Defend and Build the Organization

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In April, the ICC held its 11th International Congress. In so far as communist organizations are a part of the proletariat, a historic product of the class and an active factor in its struggle for emancipation, their Congresses, which are their supreme body, are extremely important to the working class. This is why communists have to give an account of this essential moment in the life of their organization.

For several days, delegations from 12 countries[1] which have more than a billion and a half inhabitants and which are largely made up of the biggest proletarian concentrations in the world (Western Europe and North America) discussed, drew lessons, and outlined orientations on the essential questions confronting our organization. The agenda of this Congress was essentially made up of two points: the activities and functioning of our organization, and the international situation[2]. However, it was the firstitem that took up by far the most sessions and stimulated the most passionate debates. This was the case because the ICC has been confronted with some major organizational difficulties, demanding a particular mobilization of all its sections and militants.

Organizational problems in the history of the workers' movement...

The historic experience of the revolutionary organizations of the proletariat demonstrates that questions regarding their functioning are political questions in their own right and need to be looked at with considerable attention and depth.

There are many examples in the workers' movement of this importance of the organizational question, but we can speak more particularly here of the IWMA (International Working Men's Association, later known as the 1st International), and of the 2nd Congress of the Russian Social Democratic Labor Party (RSDLP), held in 1903.

The IWMA was founded in September 1864 in London, on the initiative of a number of French and English workers. It adopted a centralized structure straight away, with a central Council, which after the 1866 Geneva Congress was known as the General Council. Marx was to play a leading role within the Council, since it fell to him to write a large number of its basic texts, such as the IWMA's founding address, its statutes, and the address on the Paris Commune (The Civil War in France, May 1871). The IWMA (or "The International", as the workers called it) quickly became a "power" in the advanced countries (above all in Western Europe). Up till the 1871 Paris Commune, it regrouped a growing number of workers and was a leading-factor in the development of the proletariat's two essential weapons: its organization and its consciousness. This is why, indeed, the International was subjected to increasingly bitter attacks by the bourgeoisie: slander in the press, infiltration by informers, persecution of its members, etc. But the IWMA ran the greatest danger from the attacks of some of its own members against the International's very mode of organization.

Already, when the IWMA was founded, the provisional rules were translated by the Parisian sections, strongly influenced by Proudhon's federalist conceptions, in a way which considerably weakened the International's centralized character. But the most dangerous attacks were to come later, with the entry into its ranks of the "Alliance de la democratic socialiste" founded by Bakunin. This latter was to find fertile ground within important sections of the International, due to its own weaknesses which were in turn the result of the weaknesses of the proletariat at the time, a proletariat which had still not disengaged itself from the weaknesses of its previous stage of development.

"The first phase in the proletariat's struggle against the bourgeoisie is marked by the sectarian movement. It had its raison d'etre in an epoch when the proletariat was not yet developed enough to act as a class. Individual thinkers criticized social antagonisms, and produced fantastic solutions which the mass of workers had only accept to propagate, and to put into practice. By their very nature, the sects formed by these initiators were abstentionist divorced from any real action, from politics, from strikes, from coalitions, in a word from any movement of the whole. The mass of the proletariat always remained indifferent or hostile to their propaganda (...) These sects began by being a lever for the movement; they became obstacles as soon as the movement went beyond them, and so became reactionary (...) They were the childhood of the proletarian movement, just as alchemy and astrology were the childhood of science. The foundation of the International was possible only once the proletariat had gone beyond this stage."

Against the whimsical and antagonistic organizations of the sects, the International is a real, militant organization of the proletarian class of every country, linked together in their common struggle against the capitalists, the landowners, and their class power organized in the state. The statutes of the International therefore only recognize simple workers' societies, all pursuing the same aim, and all accepting the same program which limits itself to sketching the main traits of the proletarian movement, leaving the theoretical elaboration to the impulse given by the demands of the practical struggle, by the exchange of ideas in the sections, admitting all socialist convictions in their publications and congresses.

Just as, in any new historical phase, the old mistakes reappear for an instant only to disappear soon afterwards, so in the International we have seen the rebirth of sectarian sections within it ..." (The fictitious splits in the International, chapter IV, Circular of the General Council of 5th March 1872)

This weakness was especially marked in the most backward sectors of the European proletariat where it had only just emerged from the peasant and artisan classes. Bakunin, who entered the International in 1868 after the collapse of the "League for Peace and Liberty" (which regrouped bourgeois republicans, and of which he was a leading member), used these weaknesses to try to subject the International to his anarchist conceptions, and to bring it under his control. The tool for this operation was to be the "Alliance de la democratic socialiste"; which he had founded as a minority in the "League for Peace and Li berry". The AIIiance was both a public and a secret society, which in fact intended to form an International within the International. Its secret structure and the collusion this allowed amongst its members was supposed to ensure its "influence" over as many of the IWMA's sections as possible, especially those where anarchist conceptions encountered the greatest echo. In itself, the existence of several different trends of thought within the IWMA did not pose any problem[3]. By contrast, the activity of the Alliance, aimed at replacing the official structure of the International, was a serious factor of disorganization, and endangered the latter's very existence. The Alliance first tried to take control of the International at the Basle Congress in September 1869. With this aim in view, its members, in particular Bakunin and James Guillaume, warmly supported an administrative resolution strengthening the powers of the General Council. Failing in this, however, the Alliance (which itself had adopted secret statutes based on an extreme centralization[4] began a campaign against the "dictatorship" of the General Council, which it aimed to reduce to the role of a "statistical and correspondance bureau" to use the Alliancists terms, or to a mere "letter-box" as Marx answered them. Against the principle of centralization as an expression of the proletariat's international unity, the Alliance preached "federalism", the complete "autonomy of the sections", and the non-obligatory nature of Congress decisions. In fact, the Alliance wanted to do whatever it liked in the sections which had come under its control. The way would be open to the complete disorganization of the IWMA.

This was the danger faced by the Hague Congress in 1872, which debated the question of the Alliance on the basis of a report by an enquiry commission, and finally decided on the exclusion of Bakunin and James Guillaume, the leader of the Jura Federation of the IWMA, which was completely under the control of the Alliance. This Congress was the IWMA's high point (it was the only Congress that Marx attended, which gives an idea of how important he considered it), but also its swan song because of the crushing defeat of the Paris Commune and the demoralization that this provoked within the proletariat. Marx and Engels were aware of this reality. This is why, along with the measures aimed at keeping the

IWMA out of the hands of the Alliance, they also proposed that the General Council be moved to New York, far from the conflicts that were dividing the International. This was also a means for allowing the International to die a natural death (confirmed by the 1876 Philadelphia Conference), without its prestige being hijacked by the Bakuninist intriguers.

The latter, and the anarchists have perpetuated this legend, claimed that Marx and the General Council excluded Bakunin and Guillaume because of their different vision of the question of the state5] (when they did not explain the conflict between Marx and Bakunin by questions of personality). In short, Marx was supposed to have wanted to settle a disagreement on general theoretical questions with administrative measures. Nothing could be further from the truth.

The Hague Congress took no measures against the members of the Spanish delegation, who shared Bakunin's ideas and had belonged to the Alliance, but who declared that they no longer did so. Similarly, the "anti-authoritarian" IWMA formed after the Hague Congress from the Federations which refused to accept its decisions was not made up solely of anarchists, since it also included the German Lassalleans, who were great defenders of "state socialism" to use Marx's words. In fact, the real struggle within the IWMA was between those who stood for the unity of the workers' movement (and therefore the binding nature of Congress decisions), and those, who demanded the right to do whatever they pleased, each isolated from the others, treating the Congresses as mere assemblies, where everyone could exchange "points of view" without taking any decisions. With this informal mode of organization, it would fall to the Alliance to carry out, in secret, a real centralization of the Federations, as indeed Bakunin's correspondence explicitly stated. Putting these "anti-authoritarian" conceptions to work in the International would have been the best way to deliver it up to the intrigues, and the hidden and uncontrolled power of the Alliance, in other words the adventurers who led it.

The 2nd Congress of the RSDLP was the occasion for a similar confrontation between the defenders of a proletarian conception of the revolutionary organization, and the petty-bourgeois conception.

There are similarities between the situation in the West European workers' movement at the time of the IWMA, and the movement in Russia at the turn of the century. In both cases, the workers' movement was still in its youth, the separation in time being due to Russia's late industrial development. The IWMA's purpose was to regroup in a united organization, the different workers' societies that the proletariat's development had created. Similarly, the aim of the RSDLP's 2nd Congress was to unite the different committees, groups and circles of the social democracy which had developed in Russia and in exile. Following the disappearance of the Central Committee which had been formed by the RSDLP's 1st Congress in 1897, there had been almost no formal links between these different formations. The 2nd Congress thus saw, as with the IWMA, a confrontation between a conception of the organization representing the movement's past, that of the "Mensheviks" ("minorityites") and a conception expressing the requirements of the new situation, that of the "Bolsheviks" ("majorityites"):

"Under the name of the "minority" heterogeneous elements are regrouped in the Party who are united by the desire, conscious or not, to maintain the relations of a circle, the previous organizational form to the Party. Certain eminent militants of the most influential old circles, not having the habit of organizational restrictions that the Party must impose, are inclined to mechanically confuse the general interests of the Party and their circle interests, which can coincide in the period of circles" (Lenin, One step forward, two steps back).

The Mensheviks' approach, as it became clear later (very quickly in the revolution of 1905, and still more of course during the revolution of 1917, when the Mensheviks stood alongside the bourgeoisie), was determined by the penetration of bourgeois and petty-bourgeois ideology within the Russian social-democracy. In particular, as Lenin noted, "Most of the opposition [ie the Mensheviks] was made up of our Party's intellectual elements", who thus became the bearers of petty-bourgeois conceptions of the organizational question. These elements, as a result, "naturally raise the standard of revolt against the indispensable restrictions of the organization, and they establish their spontaneous anarchism as a principle of struggle (...) making demands in favor of "tolerance" etc" (Lenin, opcit). And indeed, thereare many similarities between the behavior of the Mensheviks and that of the anarchists in the IWMA (Lenin speaks on several occasion of the Mensheviks "aristocratic anarchism").

Like the anarchists after the Hague Congress, the Mensheviks refused to recognize and apply the decisions of the 2nd RSDLP Congress, declaring that "the Congress is not divine" and that "its decisions are not sacred". In particular, just as the Bakuninists went to war against the principle of centralization and the "dictatorship of the General Council" after failing to take control of it, one reason that the Mensheviks began to reject centralization after the Congress was the fact that several of them had been removed from the central organs elected by the Congress. There are even likenesses in the way the Mensheviks campaigned against the Lenin's "personal dictatorship" and "iron fist", which echo Bakunin's accusations of Marx's "dictatorship" over the General Council.

"When I consider the approach of the friends of Martov after the Congress (...) I can only say that this is an insane attempt, unworthy of Party members, to tear the Party apart (...) And why? Solely because one is discontented at the makeup of the central organs, because objectively this is the only question which separated us, since the subjective appreciations (such as offence, insults, expulsions, pushing aside, casting slurs, etc) were nothing but the fruit of wounded pride and a sick imagination. This sick imagination and wounded pride lead straight to the most shameful gossiping: without waiting to find out about the activity of the new centers, nor having seen them in action, some go about spreading gossip about their "inadequacy" or about the "iron glove" of Ivan Ivanovitch, or the "fist" of Ivan Nikiforovitch, etc (...) Russian social-democracy still has a difficult step to take, from the circle spirit to the party spirit from a petty-bourgeois mentality to a consciousness of its revolutionary duty; gossip and the pressure of circles considered as a means of action, against discipline" (Lenin, Report on the 2nd Congress of the RSDLP).

Given the examples of the IWMA and the 2nd Congress of the RSDLP, we can see the importance of questions linked to the mode of organization of revolutionary formations. In fact, these were the questions which were to produce the first decisive decantation between the proletarian current on the one hand, and the bourgeois and petty-bourgeois currents on the other. This importance is no accident. It springs precisely from the fact that one of the main channels for the infiltration of ideologies foreign to the proletariat - bourgeois or petty-bourgeois - is precisely that of their functioning.

The history of the workers' movement is full of examples like this. We have only spoken of these two cases here, partly of course for reasons of space, but also because, as we will see later, there are striking similarities in the circumstances in which the IWMA, the RSDLP, and the ICC were formed.

... and in the history of the ICC

The ICC has already had to pay close attention to such questions on a number of occasions. This was the case for example, at its Founding Conference in January 1975, where it examined the question of international centralization (see "Report on the question of organization in our current", International Review no 1). A year later, at its First Congress, our organization returned to this question, adopting its statutes (see "The statutes of the revolutionary organization of the proletariat", International Review no 5). Finally, in January 1982, the ICC held an extraordinary international conference on this question following the crisis it had been through in 1981[6]. The I CC did not hide from the working class and the proletarian political milieu the difficulties it had faced at the beginning of the 80s. This is how they were described in the resolution adopted by its 5th Congress, cited in International Review no 35:

"Since its Fourth Congress, the ICC has been through the most serious crisis in its existence[7]. A crisis which wasn't limited to the vicissitudes of the "Chenier affair" and which profoundly shook the organization, very nearly making it fall apart, resulting, directly or indirectly in the departure of forty members and cutting in half the membership of its second largest section. A crisis which took the form of a blindness and disorientation the like of which the ICC has not seen since its creation. A crisis which demanded the mobilization of exceptional methods if it was to be overcome: the holding of an extraordinary international conference, the discussion and adoption of basic orientation texts on the functions and functioning of the revolutionary organization, the adoption of new statutes."

Such a transparent attitude vis-à-vis the difficulties encountered by our organization has nothing to do with any 'exhibitionism' on our part. The experience of communist organizations is an integral part of the experience of the working class. This is why Lenin devoted an entire book, One step forward, two steps back to the 2nd Congress of the RSDLP. By giving an account of its organizational life, the ICC is thus doing nothing other than assuming its responsibility in the face of the working class.

Obviously, when a revolutionary organization publicizes its problems and internal discussions, this is a choice dish for all the adversaries waiting to denigrate it. This is also, and even especially the case for the ICC. Certainly, we won't find any jubilation in the bourgeois press over the difficulties that our organization is going through today: the ICC is still too small, both in its size and in its influence amongst the working masses, for the bourgeoisie to have any interest in talking about it and trying to discredit it. It is preferable for the bourgeoisie to erect a wall of silence around the positions and even the existence of revolutionary organizations. This is why the work of denigrating them, and sabotaging their intervention, is undertaken by a whole series of groups and parasitic elements whose function is to drive away individuals who are coming towards class positions, to disgust them with any participation in the difficult task of developing a proletarian political milieu.

All the communist groups have been subjected to the attacks of parasitism, but the latter has paid particular attention to the ICC, because it is today the most important organization in the proletarian milieu. Within the parasitic movement, we find fully-fledged groups like the "Groupe Communiste Internationaliste" (GCI) and its splits (such as "Centre Ie Courant"), the defunct "Communist Bulletin Group" (CBG) of the ex-"External Fraction of the ICC", which were all formed from splits from the ICC. But parasitism is not limited to such groups. It is also spread by unorganized elements, who may meet from time to time in ephemeral discussion groups whose main concern is to circulate all kinds of gossip about our organization. These elements are often ex-militants who have given in to the pressure of petty-bourgeois ideology and have proven unable to maintain their commitment within the organization, or who have been frustrated that the organization failed to give them the recognition they thought they deserved, or again who could not stand being the object of criticism. There are also one-

time sympathizers of the organization, whom the organization decided not to integrate, judging their clarity inadequate, or who gave up of themselves for fear of losing their "individuality" within the collective framework (this is the case, for example, with the late" Alptraum collective" in Mexico, or with Kamunist Kranti in India). In every case, they are elements whose frustration at their own lack of courage, flabbiness and impotence has been converted into a systematic hostility towards our organization. Obviously, these elements are absolutely incapable of building anything whatever. By contrast, they are often very effective, with their petty agitation and their concierge's chatter, at discrediting and destroying what the organization is trying to build.

However, it is not the wriggling of the parasites that will prevent the ICC from setting before the whole proletarian milieu the lessons of its own experience. In the preface to One step forward .... in 1904, Lenin wrote:

"They [our adversaries] exult and grimace at the sight of our discussions; obviously, they will try, to serve their own purposes, to brandish my pamphlet devoted to the defects and weaknesses in our Party. The Russian social-democrats are sufficiently tempered in battle not to be troubled by such pinpricks, and to continue in spite of everything with their task of self-criticism, mercilessly unveiling their own weaknesses, which will be overcome necessarily and without fail by the growth of the workers' movement. Let our adversaries try to give us an image of the situation in their own "parties" which comes close to that presented by the minutes of our 2nd Congress!".

It is in exactly the same spirit that we put before our readers substantial extracts from the resolution adopted at our XIth Congress. This is not a sign of the ICC's weakness, but on the contrary a testimony to its strength.

The problems faced by the ICC in the recent period

- "The 11th Congress thus clearly affirms: the ICC was in a situation of latent crisis, a crisis much deeper than the one which hit the organization at the beginning of the 80s, a crisis which, if the roots of the weaknesses weren't identified, threatened the very life of the organization." (Activities resolution, point I)

- "The causes of this grave illness threatening the organization are numerous, but we can highlight the main ones:

- the fact that the extraordinary conference of January 1982, which had the task of setting the organization back on its feet after the crisis of 1981, did not go far enough in analyzing the weaknesses that affect the ICC;

- even more, the fact that the ICC had not fully assimilated the acquisitions of this conference (...);

- the reinforcement of the destructive pressure of capitalist decomposition on the class and its communist organizations.

In this sense the only way the ICC could effectively deal with the mortal danger it faced was:

- to identify the importance of this danger (... );

- to mobilize the whole ICC, its militants, sections and organs around the priority of the defense of the organization;

- to reappropriate the acquisitions of the 1982 conference;

- to deepen these acquisitions on the basis of the framework they had provided." (ibid, point 2)

The struggle to redress the ICC began in autumn 1993 when we opened a discussion throughout the organization on an orientation text which recalled and updated the lessons of 1982 while going further into the historical origins of our weaknesses. The following concerns were at the center of this approach: the reappropriation of the acquisitions of our own organization and of the workers' movement as a whole, the continuity with the struggles of the movement, especially the fight against the penetration of alien ideologies, bourgeois and petty bourgeois.

"The framework of analysis the ICC adopted for laying bare the origins of its weaknesses was in continuity with the historic struggle waged by marxism against the influence of petty bourgeois ideology that weighed on the organization of the proletariat. More precisely, it referred to the struggle of the General Council of the IWMA against the activities of Bakunin and his followers, and of Lenin and the Bolsheviks against the opportunist and anarchistic conceptions of the Mensheviks during and after the 2nd Congress of the RSDLP. In particular, it was vital for the organization to have as its central concern, as it was for the Bolsheviks after 1903, the struggle against the circle spirit and for the party spirit. This was a priority for the ICC given the kinds of weaknesses which weighed on the ICC because of its origin in the circles which appeared in the wake of the historic resurgence of the proletariat and the end of the 60s; circles strongly marked by affinity type conceptions, contestationism, individualism, in a word, the anarchistic conceptions which came with the student revolts that accompanied and polluted the proletarian revival. It is in this sense that becoming aware of the weight of the circle spirit in our origins was an integral part of a general analysis elaborated long before, the one which saw the basis of our weaknesses in the break in the organic continuity with previous communist organizations, the result of the counter-revolution which descended on the working class at the end of the 20s. However, this realization allowed us to go further than we had done before and to go to the deeper roots of our difficulties, In particular, it allowed us to understand the phenomenon - already noted in the past but not sufficiently elucidated - of the formation of clans in the organization: these clans were in reality the result of the decomposition of the circle spirit which kept going long after the period in which circles had been an unavoidable step in the reconstruction of the communist vanguard. In so doing, those clans in turn became an active factor. The best guarantee for the large-scale survival of the circle spirit in the organization." (ibid, point 4).

Here the resolution makes a reference to a point from the autumn 93 orientation text, which highlighted the following question:

"One of the grave dangers which permanently threaten the organization, which put its unity in question and risk destroying it, is the constitution, even if it is not deliberate or conscious, of 'clans'. In a dynamic of the clan, common approaches do not share a real political agreement but links of friendship, loyalty, the convergence of specific personal interests or shared frustrations. Often, such a dynamic, to the extent that it is not founded on a real political convergence, accompanied by the existence of 'gurus', clan leaders, who guarantee the unity of the clan, and who may draw their power from a particular charisma, can even stifle political capacities and the judgment of other militants as a result of the fact they are presented or present themselves, as victims of such or such policy of the organization. When such a dynamic appears, the members or sympathizers of the clan can no longer decide for themselves, in their behavior or the decisions that they take, as a result of a conscious and rational choice based on the general interests of the organization, but as a result of the interests of the clan which tends to oppose itself to those of the rest of the organization."

This analysis was based on previous experiences of the workers' movement (for example, the attitude of the former editors of Iskra grouped around Martov who, unhappy with the decisions of the 2nd Congress of the RSDLP, had formed the Menshevik fraction), but also on precedents in the history of the ICC. We can't go into detail here but what we can say is that the 'tendencies' which have appeared in the ICC (the one which split in 1978 to form the Groupe Communiste International, the 'Chenier tendency' in 1981, the 'tendency' which left the ICC at its 6th Congress to form the 'External Fraction of the ICC') corresponded much more to such a clan dynamic than to real tendencies based on an alternative positive orientation. The principal motor of these 'tendencies' wasn't the divergences their members may have had with the orientations of the organization (these divergences were completely heterogeneous, as the later trajectory of these 'tendencies' proved). Instead they were based on an agglomeration of elements frustrated and discontented with the central organs, of those 'loyal' to individuals who saw themselves as being 'persecuted' or insufficiently recognized.

The recovery of the ICC

While the existence of clans no longer had the same spectacular character as in the past, it still continued to undermine the organizational tissue in a quiet but dramatic way. In particular, the whole ICC (including the militants most directly involved in it) recognized that it was faced with a clan which occupied a particularly important position in the organization and which, while it was not simply an organic product of the ICC's weaknesses, had "concentrated and crystallized a great number of the deleterious characteristics which affected the organization and whose common denominator was anarchism ..." (Activities resolution, point .5).

This is why: "The ICC's understanding of the phenomenon of the clans and their particularly destructive role has allowed it to put its finger on a large amount of the bad functioning which affected most of the territorial sections. (...) It has also allowed it to understand the loss, pointed out by the activities report of the 10th Congress, of the 'spirit of regroupment' which characterized the first years of the ICC." (ibid).

Finally, after several days of very animated debates, in which there was a profound commitment from and a real unity between the delegations, the 11th Congress reached the following conclusions:

"... the Congress notes the overall success of the combat engaged by the ICC in the autumn of 1993 (...) the -sometimes spectacular - redressment of some of the sections with the greatest organizational difficulties in 1993 (...), the deepening that has come from a number of sections in the ICC (...), all these facts confirm the full validity of the combat both in its theoretical bases and its concrete application (...) The Congress emphasizes particularly the organization's deepening in its understanding of a whole series

of questions confronted by class organizations: advances in our knowledge of the struggle by Marx and the General Council against the Alliance, Lenin and the Bolsheviks' battle against the Mensheviks, the phenomenon of political adventurism in the workers' movement (represented notably by Lassalle and Bakunin), born by declassed elements not necessarily working for the services of the capitalist state, but in the end more dangerous than the latter's infiltrated agents." (ibid, point 10).

"On the basis of these elements, the Xlth ICC Congress notes that the ICC is stronger today than it was at the previous Congress, that it is incomparably better armed to confront its responsibilities in future upsurges of the class struggle, although it is obviously still in a state of convalescence." (ibid, point 11).

This recognition of the positive outcome of the combat waged by the organization since the autumn of 1993 did not however lead to any feelings of euphoria in the Congress. The ICC has learned to mistrust any tendency to get carried away, which expresses less a proletarian approach than the penetration into the communists' ranks of petty bourgeois impatience. The combat waged by communist organizations and militants is a patient, long-term, often obscure process, and a real militant enthusiasm is not measured by outbursts of euphoria but the capacity to hold out against storms and stress, to resist the pernicious pressure of the ideology of the ruling class. This is why a recognition that the organization's struggle has been a success has not at all led us into any triumphalism:

"This does not mean that the combat we have conducted to date should come to an end. (...) The ICC will have to continue this combat through a permanent vigilance, the determination to identify every weakness and to confront it without delay. (...) In reality, the history of the workers' movement, including that of the ICC, teaches us, and the debate has fully confirmed this, that the struggle for the defence of the organization is a permanent one, and without respite. In particular, the ICC must remember that the Bolsheviks' struggle for the party spirit and against the circle spirit continued for many years. It will be the same for our organization, which will have to watch for and eliminate any demoralization, any feeling of impotence as a result of the length of the combat." (ibid, point 13).

Before concluding this part on the questions of organization discussed at the Congress, it is important to point out that the debates conducted by the ICC for 18 months did not lead to any splits (contrary, for example, to what happened at the Vlth Congress or in 1981). This is because right from the start the organization expressed an agreement with the theoretical arguments put forward for understanding the difficulties it was encountering. The absence of disagreement on this framework made it possible to avoid the crystallization of any "tendency" or even a "minority" theorizing its own particularities. A great part of the discussions were focused on how this framework should be concretized in the ICC's daily functioning, with a constant concern to attach such concretization to the experience of the workers' movement. The fact that there was no split is a testimony to the I CC's strength, its greater maturity, the determination shown by the majority of its militants to carry on the combat for its defense, and to renew the health of its organizational fabric, to overcome the circle spirit, and all the anarchistic conceptions which consider the organization as a sum of individuals or of little groups based on affinity.

Perspectives of the international situation

Obviously a communist organization does not exist for its own sake. It is an actor, not a spectator, in the struggles of the working class, and the intransigent defense of the organization has precisely the aim of enabling it to carry out its role.

To this end the Congress devoted part of its debates to examining the international situation. It discussed and adopted several reports on this question as well as a resolution which synthesized the latter, which is published in this issue of the International Review. This is why we will not deal at greater length here with this aspect of the Congress. Here, we will simply consider, briefly, the last of the three aspects (evolution of the economic crisis, imperialist conflicts, and the balance of class forces) of the international situation which were discussed at the Congress.

This resolution declares clearly that: "More than ever, the struggle of the proletariat represents the only hope for the future of human society." (point 14).

However, the Congress confirmed what the ICC had already put forward in the autumn of 1989: "This struggle, which revived with great power at the end of the 60s, putting an end to the most terrible counter-revolution the working class has ever known, went into a major retreat with the collapse of the stalinist regimes, the ideological campaigns which accompanied them, and all the events which followed (Gulf war, war in Yugoslavia)." (ibid).

And it is mainly for this reason that today: "The workers' struggles are developing in a sinuous, jagged manner full of advances and retreats." (ibid).

However, the bourgeoisie knows very well that the aggravation of attacks against the working class can only provoke increasingly conscious struggles. It is preparing for this by developing a whole series of union maneuvers as well as entrusting certain of its agents with the task of reviving talk about 'revolution', 'Communism' or 'marxism. This is why: "It is up to revolutionaries, in their intervention, to denounce with the greatest vigor both the rotten maneuvers of the unions and these so-called 'revolutionary' speeches. They have to put forward the real perspective of the proletarian revolution and of communism as the only way of saving humanity and as the ultimate result of the workers' struggles." (point 17).

Having reconstituted and gathered together its forces, the ICC is ready, after its Xlth Congress, to assume this responsibility.



[1] Germany, Belgium, USA, Spain, France, Britain, India, Italy, Mexico, Holland, Sweden, Venezuela.  

[2] We had also planned 10 have an item on the proletarian political milieu which is a permanent concern of our organization. For lack of time, we had to drop this but this in no way means that we will let our attention slip on this question. On the contrary: it is by overcoming our own organizational difficulties that we can make our best contribution to the development of the proletarian milieu as a whole.

[3] "The sections of the working class in various countries being placed in different conditions of development, it necessarily follows that their theoretical opinions, which reflect the real movement, are also different. However, the community of action established by the International Working Men's Association, the exchange of ideas made easier by their publication in the organs of the different national sections, and finally the direct discussions at the General Congresses, will not fail gradually to engender a common theoretical program" (Response by the General Council to the Alliance's request for membership, 9th March 1869). It should be noted that the Alliance first asked to join with its own statutes, where it was planned that it would adopt an international structure parallel to that of the IWMA (with a central committee and Congress held separately from those of the IWMA). The General Council refused this request, pointing out that the Alliance's statutes were contrary to those of the IWMA. It made it clear that it was ready to admit the Alliance sections, if the latter gave up its international structure. The Alliance accepted these conditions, but continued to existence in conformity to its secret statutes.

[4] In an appeal "To the officers of the Russian army", Bakunin boasted the merits of the secret organization "whose strength lies in discipline, in the passionate devotion and abnegation of its members, and in blind obedience to a single Committee which knows everything and is known to nobody".

[5] The anarchists argue for the immediate abolition of the state the day after the revolution. This begs the question: marxism has shown that the state will survive, though obviously in a different form fromthe capitalist state, until the complete disappearance of social classes.

[6] See 'The crisis of the revolutionary milieu', 'Report on the structure and functioning of the organization of revolutionaries' and 'Presentation of the 5th Congress of the ICC' in International Reviews 28, 33 and 35 respectively.

[7] Chenier, exploiting our organization's lack of vigilance, became a member of the French section in 1978. From 1980, he undertook a whole subterranean work aimed at destroying our organization. To do this, he very skillfully exploited both the ICC's lack of organizational rigor and the tensions that existed in our section in Britain. This situation had led to the formation of two antagonistic clans in the section, blocking its work and leading to the loss of half the section as well as a number of resignations in other sections. Chenier was excluded from the ICC in September 81 and we published in our press a communiqué warning the proletarian milieu against this "shady and dangerous" element. Shortly after this, Chenier began a career in trade unionism, the Socialist Party and the state apparatus for which he had very probably been working for some time.