In the International Review No. 82, and in our territorial press in 12 countries, the ICC published articles on its 11th Congress. These articles informed the revolutionary milieu and the working class about the political struggle which has taken place in the ICC recently for the establishment of a really marxist functioning at all levels of our organizational life. At the center of this combat was the overcoming of what Lenin called the "circle spirit". This required in particular the liquidation of informal groupings based on personal loyalties and petty bourgeois individualism, what Rosa Luxemburg referred to as "tribes" or "clans".
The articles we published placed the present combat in continuity with that waged by the Marxists against the Bakuninists in the 1st International, by the Bolsheviks against Menshevism in the Russian party, but also by the ICC throughout its history. In particular, we affirmed the petty bourgeois anti-organizational basis of the different splits which have taken place in the history of the ICC, which were neither motivated nor justified by political divergences. They were the result of non-marxist, non-proletarian organizational behavior, of what Lenin called the anarchism of the intelligentsia and the literary bohemian.
A problem of the whole milieu
We did not report in our press on our internal debate out of exhibitionism, but because we are convinced that the problems we are confronting are not at all specific to the ICC. We are convinced that the ICC would not have been able to survive without the radical stamping out of the anarchism in organizational matters in our ranks. We see the same danger threatening the revolutionary milieu as a whole. The weight of the ideas and behavior of the petty bourgeoisie, its resistance to organizational discipline and collective principles, has affected all groups to a greater or lesser extent. The break in organic continuity with revolutionary organizations of the past through 50 years of counter revolution, the interruption of the living process of the passing on of priceless organizational experience from one generation of marxists to the next, has made the new generation of proletarian militants after 1968 particularly vulnerable to the inf1uence of the petty bourgeoisie in revolt (student and protest movements, etc).
Thus, our present struggle is not the internal affair of the ICC. The Congress articles are aimed at the defense of the entire proletarian milieu. They constitute an appeal to all serious marxist groupings to clarify on the proletarian concept of functioning, and to make known the lesson of their struggle with petty bourgeois disorganization. The revolutionary milieu as a whole needs to be much more vigilant towards the intrusion of modes of behavior foreign to the proletariat. It needs to consciously and openly organize its own defense.
The attack of parasitism against the revolutionary camp
"Salem or Waco would have been an appropriate venue for this particular congress. While it is tempting to lampoon or ridicule the monstrous proceedings of this congress-cum-kangaroo court, where, inter alia, Bakunin and Lassalle were denounced as "not necessarily" police spies and Martov characterized as an "anarchist ", the overwhelming emotion is of great sadness that a once so dynamic and positive organization should be reduced to this sorry state".
"In the best Stalinist tradition the ICC then proceeds to rewrite its history (just as it did after the 1985 split) to show that every major difference (...) has been caused not by militants with different opinions of a question but by the intrusion of alien ideologies into the body of the ICC".
"What the ICC cannot grasp is that it is their own monolithic practice that is the problem here. What happened at the 11th congress was surely simply the bureaucratic triumph of one clan over another, a jostling for control of the Central Organs, something that was widely predicted after the death of their founder member MC".
For the CBG, what took place at the ICC Congress must have been "two or more days of psychological battering. Readers who have any knowledge of the brainwashing techniques of religious sects will understand this process. Those who have read of the mental tortures inflicted on those who confessed to impossible "crimes" at the Moscow Show Trials will, likewise, suss what went on".
And here, the CBG quotes itself from 1982, after its members left the ICC:
"For every militant there will always be the question: How far can I go in this discussion before I am condemned as an alien force, a menace, a petty bourgeois? How far can I go before I am regarded with suspicion? How far before I am a police spy?".
These quotations speak for themselves.
They reveal better than anything else the true nature, not of the ICC but of the "CBG". Their message is clear: revolutionary organizations are like the mafia. "Power struggles" take place exactly as within the bourgeoisie.
It is not only the whole present day revolutionary milieu which is being attacked here. It is the entire history and all the traditions of the workers' movement which are being abused.
In reality, the lies and slanders of the CBG are perfectly in line with the campaign of the world bourgeoisie about the alleged death of communism and of marxism. At the center of this propaganda is the greatest lie in history: that the organizational rigor of Lenin and the Bolsheviks necessarily led to Stalinism. In the CBG's version of this propaganda, it is the Bolshevism of the ICC which "necessarily" leads to its alleged" Stalinism". Evidently, the CBG neither knows what the revolutionary milieu is, nor does it know what Stalinism is about.
What has provoked the petty bourgeois frenzy of the CBG is once again the resolute, unmistakable manner with which the ICC has affirmed its allegiance to the organizational approach of Lenin. We can assure all the parasitic elements: the more the bourgeoisie attacks the history of our class, the more proudly we will affirm our allegiance to Bolshevism.
By pouring garbage upon the proletarian vanguard, the CBG has demonstrated once again that it is not a part of the revolutionary milieu, but its opponent. The fact that the ICC has waged the most important organizational struggle in its history, does not interest it in the least.
In itself, there is nothing new in the fact that those revolutionaries who defend organizational rigor against the petty bourgeoisie are attacked, even denigrated. Marx became the object of a whole bourgeois campaign because of his resistance to Bakunin's Alliance. Lenin was personally insulted because of his stand against the Mensheviks in 1903: not only by the reformists and open opportunists, but even by comrades such as Trotsky. But nobody within the workers movement, not Trotsky and not even the reformists ever spoke of Marx or Lenin's struggle in the terms employed by the CBG. The difference is that the "polemic" of the CBG is clearly aimed at the destruction of the revolutionary milieu - not just the ICC.
The nature of parasitism
We will have to disappoint the CBG, who claim that the ICC deals with those who disagree with it by labeling them as police spies. Although the CBG "disagrees" with us, we consider them to be neither spies nor a bourgeois organization. People like the CBG do not have a bourgeois political platform. Programmatically, they even adhere to certain proletarian positions. They are against trade unions and support for "national liberation" struggles.
cease existence! But it is clear that in fact the real reason for publication was to attack the ICC Congress! Significantly, the number 16 does not attack the bourgeoisie; there is no defense of proletarian internationalism in face of the Balkan War, for instance. This is in line with the other 15 issues which were also mainly devoted to slandering proletarian groups. And we feel sure that despite their announced dissolution they will continue to do so. In fact the abandonment of the formal pretense of being a political group will allow them to concentrate even more exclusively on the "work" of denigrating the marxist camp.
The existence of groups which, while being neither mandated nor paid by the bourgeoisie, nevertheless voluntarily do part of the job of the ruling class, is a highly significant phenomenon. In the marxist movement we call such people parasites, bloodsuckers living on the backs of the revolutionary forces. They do not attack the marxist camp out of allegiance to capital, but out of a blind and impotent hatred for the mode of life of the working class, the collective and impersonal nature of its struggle. Such petty bourgeois and declassed elements are motivated by a spirit of vengeance towards a political movement which cannot afford to make concessions to their individualist needs, to their cravings for self-presentation, flattery and pompousness.
The trajectory of the "CBG"
In order to grasp the nature of this parasitism (which is not new in the workers movement), it is necessary to study its origins and development. The CBG can serve as a typical example. Its origins lie in the circle phase of the new generation of revolutionaries developing after 1968, giving rise to a small group of militants linked by a mixture of political and personal loyalties. The informal group in question broke with the Communist Workers Organization (CWO) and moved towards the ICC towards the end of the 1970s. In the discussions at that time we criticized the fact that they wanted to enter the ICC "as a group" rather than individually. This posed the danger that they might form an organization within the organization on a non-political, affinitary basis thus menacing proletarian organizational unity. We also condemned the fact that, on leaving the CWO, they had taken part of its material with them - a breach of revolutionary principles.
Inside the ICC, the group tried to maintain its informal separate identity, despite the fact that the pressure within an international centralized organization to submit each of its parts to the whole must have been much greater than within the CWO. However, the "autonomy" of the "friends" who later formed the CBG could survive due to the fact that within the ICC other such groupings, the leftovers of the circles out of which the ICC was formed, continued to exist. This was particularly the case for our British section, World Revolution, which the ex-CWO members joined, and which was divided through the existence of two already existing "clans". These clans quickly became the main obstacle to the application in practice of the statutes of the ICC in all of its parts.
When the ICC, around this time was infiltrated by an agent of the state, Chenier, a member of Mitterrand's French Socialist Party, who rejoined this party after his expulsion from the ICC, the British section thus became the main target of his manipulations. As a result of these manipulations, and with the uncovering of the agent Chenier by the organization, half of our British section left the ICC. None of them were expelled, contrary to the assertions of the CBG.
The ex-CWO elements, who also left at this moment, then formed the "CBG".
We can draw the following lessons:
- although they had no particular political positions distinguishing them from others, basically the same clique entered and left both the CWO and the ICC before becoming the "CBG". This reveals the unwillingness and incapacity of these people to integrate themselves into the workers' movement, to surrender their petty group identity to something greater than themselves.
- although they claim to have been expelled from the ICC, or that they could not remain within it because of its "inability to debate", in reality these people ran away from the political debates taking place in the organization. In the name of "fighting sectarianism" they turned their backs on the two most important communist organizations existing in Britain, the CWO and the ICC - despite the absence of any major political divergence. This is the way in which they "struggle against sectarianism".
The milieu should not be deceived by the empty phrases about "monolithism" and the ICC's supposed "fear of debate". The ICC stands in the tradition of the Italian Left, of Bilan which during the Spanish Civil War even refused to expel or split with the minority openly calling for participation in imperialist war - since political clarification must always precede any political separation.
- what the CBG objected to in the ICC was its rigorous proletarian method of debate, via polemic and polarization, where a spade is called a spade, and a petty bourgeois or opportunist stance is called by name. An atmosphere hardly congenial for circles and clans with their double language and false diplomacy, their personal loyalties and disloyalties. And certainly one which did not please the petty bourgeois cowards who ran away from political confrontation and withdrew from the life of the class.
- graver still, and for the second time, the future CBG participated in the theft of the material of the organization it was leaving. They justified this with the vision of the Marxist party as a stockholders company: whoever invests their time in the ICC has the right to take their share of its resources with them when they leave. Moreover they allowed themselves to determine what "share" they would entitle themselves to. It should go without saying that if such methods were to be accepted, they would mean the end of the very possibility of the existence of marxist organizations. Revolutionary principles are here replaced by the bourgeois law of the jungle:
- when the ICC set out to recover the stolen resources of the organization, these courageous "revolutionaries" threatened to call the police against us;
A blind and impotent hatred
It is this total resistance by petty bourgeois and declassed anarchist elements against their integration into and subordination to the great world historic mission of the proletariat, which despite sympathies for certain of its political positions leads to parasitism, to open hatred and political sabotage of the marxist movement.
The sordid and corrosive reality of the CBG itself gives the lie to its claims to have left the ICC "in order to be able to discuss". Here again, we will let the parasites speak for themselves. First of all their abandonment of any allegiance to the proletariat begins to be openly theoretized. "A very bleak vision of the nature of the period began to be articulated", they tell us; "elements within the CBG asked whether the class could now emerge at all?".
In face of the "difficult debate", here is how the CBG, this "anti-monolithic" giants, copes with "divergences": "We were ill-equipped to confront these questions. There was a more-or-less deafening silence in response to them (...) the debate didn't so much fizzle out as remain largely ignored. This was profoundly unhealthy for the organization. The CBG had prided itself on being open to any discussions within the revolutionary movement, but here it was in one of its own debates on a subject at the very heart of its existence plugging its ears and shutting its mouth".
It is therefore only logical that at the end of its crusade against the Marxist concept of organizational and methodological rigor as the prerequisite for any real debate, the CBG "discovers" that organisation itself blocks discussion: "In order to allow this debate to take place (...) we have decided to end the life of the CBG".
The organization as barrier to debate! Long live anarchism! Long live organizational liquidationism! Imagine the gratitude of the ruling class in face of the propagation of such "principles" in the name of "marxism"!
Parasitism: spearhead against the proletarian forces
Although the class domination of the bourgeoisie is, for the moment, certainly not threatened, the main aspects of the present world situation oblige it to be particularly vigilant in the defense of its interests. The inexorable deepening of its economic crisis, the sharpening of imperialist tensions, and the resistance of a generation of the working class which has not yet suffered a decisive defeat, contain the perspective of a dramatic destabilization of bourgeois society. All of this imposes on the bourgeoisie the world historic task of destroying the proletariat's revolutionary Marxist vanguard. As insignificant as the Marxist camp appears today, the ruling class is already obliged to make serious efforts to disrupt and weaken it.
At the time of the 1st International the bourgeoisie itself undertook the task of public denigration of proletarian revolutionaries. The entire bourgeois press slandered the International Workers' Association and its General Council, opposing to the alleged "dictatorial centralism" of Marx the allures of its own progressive and revolutionary past.
The bourgeoisie knows very well that the best and most thorough means of destroying the revolutionary camp is from within, by denigrating, demoralizing and dividing it. The parasites assume this task without even having to be asked. By presenting the marxist groups as Stalinist, as bourgeois sects dominated by power struggles, as the mirror image of the bourgeoisie itself, as historically insignificant, they support the offensive of capital against the proletariat. By destroying the reputation of the milieu, parasitism not only contributes to the political subversion of the proletarian forces today - it prepares the terrain for the politically effective repression of the marxist camp in the future. If the bourgeoisie stays in the background today in order to allow parasitism to do its dirty work today, it is with the intention of emerging from the shadows to decapitate the revolutionary vanguard tomorrow.
The incapacity of most of the revolutionary groups to recognize the real character of the parasitic groups is one of the greatest weaknesses of the milieu today. The ICC is determined to assume its responsibility in combatting this weakness. It is high time for the serious groups, for the milieu as a whole to organize its own defense against the most rotten elements of the vengeful petty bourgeoisie. Instead of opportunistically flirting with such groups, it is the responsibility of the milieu to wage a merciless and unrelenting struggle against political parasitism. The formation of the future class party, the success of the liberation struggle of the proletariat, will depend to a large extent on our capacity to wage this combat to the end.