ICC 13th International Congress
The ICC held its 13th Congress at the beginning of April, at a time marked by the acceleration of history, as dying capitalism confronts one of the most difficult and dangerous periods of modern history, comparable in gravity to the two world wars, the upsurge of the proletarian revolution in 1917-19, or the Great Depression of 1929. The seriousness of the situationiousness of the situation is determined by sharpening contradictions at every level:
* Imperialist tensions and the development of world disorder;
* A very advanced and dangerous period in the capitalist crisis;
* Attacks on the international proletariat unprecedented since World War II;
* An accelerated decomposition of bourgeois society.
Aware of the enormous responsibility that this situation imposes on the proletariat, the ICC focused the debates of the Congress in order to trace the clear perspectives that this moment of history demands. Only by developing its combativity and its consciousness can the proletariat put forward the revolutionary alternative which alone can ensure the survival of human society. But the most important responsibility rests on the shoulders of the Communist Left, to which the organisations of the proletarian camp belong. They alone can transmit the theoretical and historical lessons which, with the method of marxism, are vital if the revolutionary minorities emerging today are to apply themselves to the construction of the class party of tomorrow. In a sense, like Bilan during the 1930s (1), the Communist Left is today forced to understand an unprecedented historical situation. What is at stake today demands both a profound attachment to the theoretical and historical method of marxism, and the revolutionary audacity to understand situations whions which will not fit the schemas of the past.
With this in mind, the ICC undertook its 13th Congress so as to contribute fully, through its analyses, its positions, and its intervention, to the proletarian response to a serious world situation on the eve of the next millenium.
The international situation: a growing tendency towards chaos
The debates on the analysis and perspectives of the international situation formed the central focus of our 13th Congress (see the resolution on the international situation published in the International Review no.97). It could not be otherwise. The war in the Balkans had broken out only a few days earlier (2). The Congress clearly established that this new war is the most important event on the imperialist scene since the collapse of the Eastern bloc at the end of the 1980s. The present war and its destabilising effects, on both a European and an international level, illustrate once again the dilemma facing the United States today. The tendency to "look after number one", and the increasingly explicit defence of their imperialist interests by the US' one-time allies, force it more and more both to display and demonstrate its immense military superiority. At the same time, this policy can only lead to a further aggravation of the chaos that reigns already in the world situation.
Thus the Congress concluded that the war in ex-Yugoslavia is a further step in tin the development of the irrationality of war within decadent capitalism, directly linked to its phase of decomposition. This confirms a fundamental thesis of marxism: for declining 20th Century capitalism, war has become its mode of existence.
The increase in chaos, the permanent tests of strength between the great powers, is fed by a worsening of the capitalist crisis, which has accelerated since the end of the 1960s when the period of reconstruction following World War II came to an end. At the beginning of the present decade, the ruling class masked the crisis by presenting the collapse of the Eastern bloc as the final victory of capitalism over communism. In reality, the bankruptcy of the East was a key moment in the deepening of the world capitalist crisis. It revealed the bankruptcy of one bourgeois model for managing the crisis: Stalinism. Since then, other "economic models" have bitten the dust one after the other, beginning with the world's second and third industrial powers: Japan and Germany. They were followed by the Asian "tigers" and "dragons" and by the "emerging" economies of Latin America. Russia's open bankruptcy confirmed the inability of Western liberalism to regenerate the countries of Eastern Europe. The ruling class has presented this disaster as severe, but nonetheless limited to a temporary recession due to specific circumstances. In reality, what these countries are suffering is a depression eevery bit as brutal and devastating as that of the 1930s. And this is only the prelude to a new open recession world wide.
As for the class struggle, our congress concluded that despite the weight of decomposition determined by the dead end in which capitalism finds itself, and despite the historic retreat in proletarian combativity and consciousness as a result of the collapse of the Russian bloc in 1989 - which a disgusting bourgeois campaign identified with the death of communism - the proletariat is not defeated historically. Although time does not play in its favour, in that it is unable to prevent the spreading rot of a decomposing social order, the end of the decade has been marked by signs of a renewed combativity. To confront this the trades unions have had to begin to control, isolate, and sabotage the movements of struggle, and the ruling class has had to revive its "black-out" policy on news of struggles internationally, to avoid spreading the "bad example" of workers' resistance.
Despite all the difficulties that continue to weigh on the working class as a result of the decomposition of capitalist society, the 13th Congress considered that in the long term, there are good reasons to believe that there are many aspects of the situation which are favourable to a new development of consciousness in the working class:
* The advanced state of the crisis itself, pushing the proletariaariat to reflect on the need to confront and go beyond this system;
* The increasingly massive, simultaneous and generalised nature of the attacks, which will pose the need for a generalised class response;
* The omnipresence of war, destroying illusions in a "peaceful" capitalism. The present war in the Balkans, close to the vital centres of capitalism, will have a significant impact on the consciousness of the workers, in that it expresses more sharply than ever the disastrous future that capitalism offers humanity;
* The increasing readiness of an undefeated class to fight against the decline in its living conditions;
* The entry into struggle of a new generation of workers, their combativity intact and able to learn from the generation whose struggles have developed since 1968;
* The emergence of discussion circles or groups of advanced workers, which will try to recover the immediate and historic experience of the workers' movement. In this perspective, the responsibility of the Communist Left will be still greater than in the 1930s, above all in a situation where the ruling class, fully aware of the danger of the proletariat rediscovering the ties to its own history, has developed a whole campaign to denigrate the past and the present of its class enemy.
Worried by the proletarian danger, the ruling class has placed the social-democracy in government inment in 13 out of the 15 countries in the European Union, and in the USA. It needed to revive the electoral mystification and the democratic alternative after long years of right-wing government, especially in key countries like Britain and Germany. But above all, given the need to increase the attacks against the working class, the left has the advantage over the right of proceeding in a much less provocative and more skilful manner.
In conclusion, the 13th Congress made clear that the left's arrival in power in these countries is an expression of the fact that the bourgeoisie is well aware of the danger that a working class conscious of its historic role would represent, which justifies all the preventive actions aimed at limiting the development of its combativity.
The ICC's activities determined by the new period
The 13th Congress carried out an evaluation of the ICC's activities, in the light of an unprecedented, particularly dangerous and difficult, historic situation, at a moment when the great powers are deploying their arsenal of death in the very heart of Europe.
The balance sheet of activities drawn up by the Congress was a positive one. This is nothing to do with self-satisfaction, but an objective and critical evaluation of our activity. The 12th Congress had considered that the ICC should return to an equilibrium in its activities, after more than three years of fighting to restore its its organisational tissue to good health. In accord with the mandate of the 12th Congress, this "return to normal" has been concretised by:
* An opening towards the proletarian political milieu and our contacts, while continuing the combat against parasitic groups and elements;
* A political and theoretical strengthening, with the ability to give our propaganda a historic dimension, basing it on marxism and the experience of the class;
* A strengthening of the "party spirit", which is the only way to strengthen the revolutionary organisation.
The strengthening of the organisation has also been concretised by the ability of the ICC to integrate new militants in seven territorial sections (notably the section in France). The ICC's numerical strengthening (which will continue, since other sympathisers have recently posed their candidature to the organisation), thus gives the lie to the slanders of the parasitic milieu accusing the organisation of being a "sect turned in on itself". Contrary to the denigration of our detractors, the ICC's fight to defend the party spirit has not discouraged those elements searching for class positions, but on the contrary has allowed them to clarify politically, and to come closer to the organisation.
The ICC has developed a serious and serene intervention, inspired by a long-term vision, with a view to a rapprochement with the groups oroups of the proletarian political movement. This activity has been extended to our contacts and sympathisers, whose concerns must be answered seriously and in depth, and who must be able to overcome their misunderstandings and suspicion of organisation. This orientation of the ICC springs not from any megalomania, but from the demands of the situation, which require the proletariat and its revolutionary minorities to assume their responsibilities.
The defence of the proletarian movement has led the ICC to combat the counter-offensive of the parasitic elements, notably by publishing a two-volume pamphlet on The so-called paranoia of the ICC, and by holding an "international" public meeting in Paris in defence of the organisation, joined by several of our contacts. The organisation has thus deepened the question of political parasitism, by adopting and publishing the "Theses on Parasitism", which we believe are a weapon for all the groups of the milieu in understanding this issue historically and theoretically. For the ICC, the defence of the proletarian movement has meant developing a policy of discussion and rapprochement, including common interventions with other groups of the milieu against the bourgeoisie's anti-communist campaigns during the anniversary of the October Revolution. The same approach has been adopted in our intervention towards the emerging political milieu in Russia.
The 13th Congress cononsidered that our intervention towards the "political swamp" should be more determined. This indeterminate "no man's land" between bourgeoisie and proletariat is an inevitable passage for all those elements of the class moving towards an awareness of communism. The organisation must not wait for these elements to "discover" it, it must address and carry the struggle to the bourgeoisie within the swamp itself.
This reinforcement of our vision of the proletarian political milieu is a result of our political and theoretical strengthening. The Congress insisted that this latter should not be considered a separate activity, an extra. In the present situation, and given our long-term perspective, it should form the bedrock of our activity, reflection, and decision.
This positive balance sheet of our activity is thus based on a clearer understanding of the fact that questions of organisation are determinant for all other aspects of our activity. In this sense, the ICC is fully aware that it must continue its efforts to acquire the "party spirit", especially by struggle against the effects of the dominant ideology on militant commitment. During its 25 years of existence, the ICC has paid the price for the break in organic continuity with the revolutionary organisations of the past. Although we consider that this experience has been positive, we know that nothing is gained forever in this domain, above all in the presesent period of decomposition when the organisation's efforts to imbue its functioning with the "party spirit" are constantly undermined by society's tendency towards "look after number one", nihilism, irrationality, which are expressed in organisational life by individualism, suspicion, demoralisation, immediatism, and superficiality.
The 13th Congress set the ICC's activities (press, distribution, public meetings) within the perspective of the sharpening effects of decomposition, but also an acceleration of history with an aggravation of the crisis and a tendency towards renewed combativity in the proletariat. The ICC, and the whole proletarian milieu with it, emerges from this Congress better armed to confront this historic situation.
International Communist Current
1) Review of the Italian Communist Left during the 1930s. See our book on the subject.
2) See our international leaflet, published on the front page of the previous issue of World Revolution and distributed in all the countries where ICC sections exist, as well as Canada, Australia, and Russia.