WR Public Forums: Opportunities for face-to-face discussion
Discussion is the lifeblood of the workers' movement as it tries to clarify the questions thrown up by the class struggle and in the fight for communism. It obviously takes many forms. For example, we always encourage people to write to us, at as great a length as is necessary, if there are issues that really need to be spelt out and given proper consideration. Or, there's the example of our participation in online forums, where you might not be able to say everything, but you can certainly get over the basics of the approach of the communist left. But it's in the public meetings of the ICC that it's possible to ask questions, state your point of view and really debate questions facing the working class.
At the September public meeting in London we started with a short presentation on the current state of the class struggle. During the course of the meeting we covered a wide range of questions, but, in a sense, particularly in looking forward to post-revolutionary society, it was only possible to do so because a social force, the working class, exists that has the capacity to overthrow capitalism.
One participant, for example, found it difficult to imagine a society without money. Looked at just from the experience of atomised individuals in a society based on commodity production, it is indeed hard to imagine something so radically different. But as soon as you grasp the possibility of a society based on relations of solidarity, and the impact on millions of people who have organised themselves and gone through the whole revolutionary process that the overthrow of capitalism requires, with all the development this implies for class consciousness, you're talking about an enormous leap. This is not just idle speculation as we already have the experience of the Russian revolution to draw on for lessons that will help in future struggles.
For example, the question of planning in a future society has to be seen as the complete opposite of planning in Stalinist Russia. There the only planning that took place was at the level of the needs of the Russian state capital in the context of the anarchy of international capitalist competition. Planning in communism can only be for the satisfaction of the needs of humanity based on the coordination of all available resources, human and otherwise. It's like when marxists talk about the dictatorship of the proletariat. Normally, when talking about dictatorship it refers to some sort of harsh authoritarian regime, but for marxists it's to be understood that we mean the domination of a particular social class. So, at present, the capitalist class is the dominant class, the ruling class in every country in the world, that's the dictatorship of a small minority, the bourgeoisie over the vast majority of the rest of the population. The dictatorship of the proletariat is in the interests of the working class and all other non-exploiting strata, and against those who want to re-establish relations of exploitation and the dictatorship of capital.
Other questions discussed at the meeting included an assessment of the growing influence of marxism. We were modest in our claims about the recent experience of the ICC as one example of this, but could definitely see a quantitative development in correspondence, appearance of new groups, online hits and a qualitative change in the response to our intervention, with a greater openness to debate, even from those initially suspicious of anything labelled ‘marxist' or communist.
On the class struggle itself we looked at the weight of social decomposition and the obstacles facing workers' struggles. In the face of isolation and atomisation, how does the working class gain confidence and consciousness, what is the potential for the politicisation of the struggle? This is a very important question, as, for all we insist on the emerging struggle since 2003, we cannot deny the difficulties that face the working class. There is nothing inevitable about the class struggle and the road to the revolutionary overthrow of capitalism. Yes, the deepening economic crisis of capitalism is inevitable, but workers don't inevitably recognise the best way to defend their interests. One of the functions of revolutionary minorities is to try and show the long term goals of the movement and what potential the working class has.
Face to face political meetings have not been made redundant by the advent of the internet. They remain vital because they allow debate to develop and questions to be clarified in a much more direct manner than through written correspondence or online forums. That's why we can only encourage readers of our press and visitors to our website, all those who really want to develop a debate about communist politics, to overcome any hesitations and attend our meetings in greater numbers. WR 30/9/7