Letter to Daad en Gedachte
The article we are publishing below was written in July 1998, following the decision of the Dutch councilist group Daad en Gedachte to cease regular publication of its press. Since then, several meetings have taken place with the participation of Cajo Brendel, one of the group's leading members (we will give a full account of these later in the ICC's international press). Nonetheless, to date our fears as to the future of the group's publication have proven justified, since it has not reappeared.
In July 1997, the Dutch councilist group Daad en Gedachte published the following position in its press: "This will be the last issue of Daad en Gedachte. Various circumstances force us to cease publication of our paper, which we have produced for more than 30 years. But this in no way means that the group which published this paper will remain inactive. In more than half a century since the Second World War, capitalism and the class struggle have undergone radical changes. The significance of the traditional workers' movement has constantly declined, and by contrast it has become more and more obvious that a movement of the workers is slowly developing. The Daad en Gedachte group intends to deepen its understanding of these developments. Factory occupations, which before World War II were limited essentially to France and the USA, have become the rule rather than the exception. Moreover, these occupations are themselves are subject to change.
The Daad en Gedachte group intends to produce an in-depth study in different 'chapters', which it will send, after discussion, to its readers. They will thus receive a study in several parts. Naturally, these parts will be published irregularly.
We would be much helped in this work by by critical reactions from our readers to each of the parts which we send them. We do not expect to be able to finish this work in the short term. Our study will certainly take several years"
The ICC considered that this decision by Daad en Gedachte to cease regular publication of its monthly paper as a highly dangerous step, which could very well lead to the disappearance pure and simple of the publication. The disappearance of the voice and militant activity of a group like Daad en Gedachte, which is both an integral part of the proletarian tradition, and the last organised representative of an important historic current - council communism - would be a point scored for the bourgeoisie. It is always a victory for the ruling class when it is able to silence a voice which has defended, even confusedly, the revolutionary perspective of the proletariat. Similarly, the disappearance of Daad en Gedachte would weaken the working class.
The ICC is convinced that proletarian organisations must defend themselves against bourgeois and petty-bourgeois ideology in their own ranks. Any concession to the sirens of the ruling ideology, especially on organisational principles, is an instant threat to the very survival of any proletarian group. This is why the ICC sent Daad en Gedachte a letter, where we insist that the group should go back on its decision to end d publication of its paper, which the ICC fears will be the first stage in its own suicide.
"Daad en Gedachte is the last representative of a historic current within the workers' movement: councilism. We think therefore, that your decision does not just concern your own organisation. Whatever the political positions and analyses that separate us, we consider that this political current is fundamentally part of the historic heritage of the workers' movement and has largely contributed to its theoretical and practical advance (see our book on the German-Dutch Left). As the last group issued from this political current, your decision to end the regular publication of your paper - and hence of your analyses and positions on the international situation, the class struggle and theoretical questions - is in effect to decide the disappearance de facto of the voice of the councilist current within the working class and the revolutionary movement".
In our letter to Daad en Gedachte, the ICC emphasised the vital need for proletarian voices to denounce the bourgeoisie's propaganda. The bourgeoisie has orchestrated a widespread campaign against the revolutionary perspective of the working class, following the collapse of the Eastern bloc, identifying the proletarian revolution with its Stalinist butcher. It also reaffirms that the proletariat needs its revolutionarary minorities to be able to fulfil its historic potential, and that the publication of issues 'by theme' does not correspond to the needs of the working class.
"(...) Faced with all these lies, the working class more than ever needs an antidote, it needs its revolutionary organisations to explain and demystify all this media campaign, denounce the bourgeoisie's goals and propaganda, and defend our goal of communism loud and clear. Without a perspective, without the clear consciousness of the possibility and necessity of socialism, no revolution is possible, nor even any general widening of the working class' movement of struggle. This task demands a publication which can provide the working class and its advanced minorities with regular answers to the daily lies of the bourgeoisie. (...) On the part of revolutionary organisations, this demands clear answers to the expectations of the class, of its combative minorities and most conscious elements. It is vital to remind the working class of the lessons of its past struggles. Who else but the revolutionary groups, and with what other tools than a press, can we answer this need for memory within the proletariat? This demands that revolutionaries regularly develop analyses and responses for the class, that they should live up to what is expected of them in the recovery of working class combativity (...) The needs and expectations of the working cllass are enormous, all its needs that we have set out above demand regular analyses and positions, as the situation evolves, which cannot be met by a thematic publication. An irregular publication cannot replace a regular one either in its content or, above all, in its function. One of the fundamental roles of revolutionaries is to take part in the development of the consciousness and self-organisation of the working class. Within the workers' movement, the regular press has always been the main weapon for revolutionaries to intervene in the working class and defend the perspective of communism. This task cannot be carried out by an irregular thematic review. We would remind you here of the precedent of the Spartacus group, which took a similar decision at the end of the 1970s, and which only led to the group's disappearance. We think that your decision inevitably contains the danger of the splitting and eventual disappearance of the Daad en Gedachte group" (1).
To date (July 1998), there has been no sign of a publication from Daad en Gedachte, whether of its regular paper or a thematic publication (the first part of its study, for example). Nor has the group replied to the ICC's letter. This confirms the gravity of the situation in which the group finds itself (to say the least). It confirms that, although the group may continue with some of its internal activity, for the momeent it no longer has any external activity. This confirms that the danger of a reduction in activity to the point of the group's disappearance is a real one, just as the ICC warned. For the moment, Daad en Gedachte's voice no longer exists within the proletariat, and it is to be feared that eventually the group itself will disappear, just as the Communistenbond Spartacus did after it stopped regular publication.Daad en Gedachte is unable to defend itself against the pressure of ruling class ideology. Consequently, the group is unable to see that it is on the road to its own demise, any more than it can see that its disappearance would score a victory for the bourgeoisie and a setback for the proletariat. But even if Daad en Gedachte cannot see it, the proletarian political milieu cannot just sit back and watch while an expression of the proletarian tradition commits political suicide. This is why the ICC calls the whole proletarian political milieu, including its contacts, to react to the decision of Daad en Gedachte. The proletarian political milieu has the duty to do all it can to pull Daad en Gedachte back from its dangerous path. We must warn it not to give in to bourgeois propaganda, which leads to the abandonment of revolutionary activity. The proletarian political milieu must insist that Daad en Gedachte take up its responsibilities to the working class, which means renewing its militant activity with a view to resume regular publication. ICC (July 1998)
1) Extract from the ICC's letter to Daad en Gedachte dated 1st November 1997.Daad en Gedachte group intends to deepen its understanding of these developments. Factory occupations, which before World War II were limited essentially to France and the USA, have become the rule rather than the exception. Moreover, these occupations are themselves are subject to change.Daad en Gedachte group intends to produce an in-depth study in different 'chapters', which it will send, after discussion, to its readers. They will thus receive a study in several parts. Naturally, these parts will be published irregularly.".