100 years ago, in March 1919, the first congress of the Communist International (CI) was held: the founding congress of the Third International. If revolutionary organisations did not have the will to celebrate this event, the foundation of the International would be relegated to the oblivion of history. Indeed, the ruling class does not want the working class to remember its first great international revolutionary experience of 1917-1923, a revolutionary wave which was the international proletariat's response to the slaughter of the First World War. And the founding of the Communist International in 1919 represented the culmination of this first revolutionary wave...
History of the Working Class
A close sympathiser reviews a new book on the Chernobyl nuclear disaster which exposes the cynicism of the ruling class, whether in Stalinist Russia or the "democratic" west.
The catastrophic fire at Notre-Dame de Paris has given rise to a flood of crocodile tears from the French and world bourgeoisie. But in reality this class is incapable of protecting the cultural heritage of humanity and indeed can only lead it to its destruction.
After waves of popular protests in Algeria demanding the resignation of president Bouteflika and his clique, the former president seems to have finally given in to the pressure of his “people”. But the working class in Algeria should not believe in fairytales. In this “popular” national unity that aims to chase out a hated clique of leaders, the proletariat is in danger of abandoning its struggle as a class against the roots of exploitation and misery ...
ICC International Leaflet
Capitalism threatens the planet and the survival of humanity: Only the struggle of the world proletariat can put an end to this threat
Around the world there have been protests by young people against the deterioration of the climate and the destruction of the environment. We fully share the concern and indignation of these tens of thousands, but we must ask ourselves whether this movement, in its objectives, approaches and methods, is a real struggle to solve the problem, or whether it is a trap that can only lead them to discouragement and bitterness about being used and misled.
It would be a great mistake to think that the disarray in the ruling class in the face of populism is helpful to the working class. Right now there is a historically low level of strikes and the proletariat is finding it very difficult even to recognise itself as a class. It risks falling for and being divided along the lines of the various ideologies put forward by the ruling class. None of these ideologies, for Brexit or Remain, for referendums or parliament, have anything to offer the working class.
Right and left wing identity politics share the same patriotic standpoint
This article from a close sympathiser in the US looks at the adoption of “identity politics” by the left wing of the bourgeoisie, an international trend which has reached advanced levels in America.
Notes on the early class struggle in America: Part 3 - The birth of the US workers’ movement and the difficult struggle for class unity
US factory, 1820-30
In the first part of this series we looked at the birth of the proletariat in North America and its earliest struggles, showing how black chattel slavery was introduced as part of a strategy to divide black and white workers along racial lines. The second part exposed some of the myths surrounding the birth of democracy in America. In this third part we look at the first attempts by the US working class to organise itself into trade unions and political parties and the first mass struggles of this early workers’ movement against American capital.
Brazil is wracked by increased repression, growing poverty and greater insecurity, further attacks on workers, threats of war and risks of chaos, all linked to the new president, Jair Bolsonaro, who took office on 1 January, 2019. Bolsonaro symbolises the epoch in which we are living which produces the most sinister and repugnant elements. It is a law that we can be sure will be verified, whatever the political moves of the new president: the exploited will pay more than their predecessors and the crisis of capitalism will only get worse...
The hidden legacy of the left of capital (II): a method and way of thinking in the service of capitalism
Stalinism turned Lenin into a "harmless icon"
In the first part of this series we saw that the programme of the parties of the left and far left of capital for transforming capitalism into a "new society" leads to nothing more than an idealised reproduction of capitalism itself. Worse still, the view of the working class they present is a total denial of its revolutionary nature. In this second article, we will look into the thinking of these parties and their method of analysis, especially by those that consider themselves the "most radical".
History of the Working Class
Centenary of the foundation of the Communist International - What lessons can we draw for future combats?
Acknowledging the bankruptcy of the Second International and basing itself on all the work of the reconstruction of international unity started at Zimmerwald in September 1915, then Kienthal in 1916, the Communist International was founded on March 4 1919 in Moscow.
The ICC lays claim to the contributions of the Communist International (CI). Consequently this centenary is an occasion both to salute and underline the inestimable work of the CI in the history of the revolutionary movement, but equally to draw the lessons of this experience and draw out its weaknesses in order to arm the proletariat of today for its future battles.
This report on the national situation in the UK was adopted by a recent general meeting. Its aim is to examine the historical background to the present political mess afflicting the British bourgeoisie.
History of the Workers' Movement
In order to mark the passing of 100 years since the murder of Rosa Luxemburg and Karl Liebknecht in the wake of the workers’ uprising in Berlin, January1919, we are re-issuing two articles. The first, “Lenin, Luxemburg, Liebknecht, written in 1946 by the Gauche Communiste de France, was first published in English in World Revolution 228, in February 1989, but is only now being put online; the second article was written in 2015 response to the annual parades in Berlin, where the left wing of capital tries to claim Rosa and Karl as their forebears. But as the title of the second article puts it, “Rosa Luxemburg belongs to the proletarian revolution, not the social democrats”. Not only that: both articles remind us that it was precisely the social democrats, the real ancestors of today’s “left”, who were primarily responsible for these murders, part of the job of crushing the threat of proletarian revolution. The revolution of the future must never forget who its most dangerous enemies are.
Today on blogs and forums, in bookshops and kiosks, throughout Europe and in the world, a new nauseous campaign has resurfaced in order to again distort the image of the militant Rosa Luxemburg. Thus, from television programmes, Rosa Luxemburg again appears under the sole traits of a “woman” and a “pacifist”. The very-well known and acclaimed paper, Le Monde, published an article in September 2013, written by a certain Jean-Marc Daniel, a professor of ESCP Europe, with the very evocative title: “Rosa Luxemburg, marxist-pacifist”. This association of the words “marxist” and “pacifist” is gob-smacking: for the ruling class the “real marxist” is one who abdicates from the class war, renounces the insurrection and the overthrow of capitalism.
Ten years after the bankruptcy of Lehman Brothers: how the bourgeoisie tries to hide the breakdown of capitalism
In 2008, the financial crisis which hit the United States hard, with several banks failing one after the other, suddenly plunged millions of proletarians into misery. Among the main symbolic characters of the banking sector, Lehman Brothers, one of the great pillars of the American economic system, quickly fell into bankruptcy, provoking panic throughout the entire international banking system of which it was one of the star players. Today, when the threat of new financial storm appears again on the horizon, the media have a launched a devious propaganda around the ten-year anniversary of the collapse of Lehman Brothers.
Our comrade Elisabeth has left us at the age of 77. She died from breathing difficulties which provoked a cardiac arrest, on the night of Saturday/Sunday 18 November.
ICC Public Meetings on May '68
The ICC held public meetings in a number of cities across several countries to coincide with the 50th anniversary of May 1968. The idea that May 68 had signalled the development of a wave of struggles internationally was generally of no surprise to those present. But paradoxically, it was still not considered the case that May 68 marked the end of the long period of counter-revolution that resulted from the defeat of the first world revolutionary wave and which, at the same time, opened a new course towards class confrontations between the bourgeoisie and the proletariat...
Contribution to a history of the workers’ movement in South Africa (iv)
In this article, we aim to show how the ANC’s project of rescuing and defending capitalist social relations in South Africa was implemented methodically by its successive leaders, in the first place by Nelson Mandela.
Communism on the agenda
Castoriadis, Munis and the problem of breaking with Trotskyism Second part: On the content of the communist revolution
In the previous part of this series, we re-published the article ‘Welcome to Socialisme ou Barbarie’ written by the Gauche Communiste de France in 1948. The article took up a clear position on the nature of the Trotskyist movement, which had abandoned its proletarian credentials by participating in the second imperialist world war. In this new article, we will seek to show how right the GCF were to be cautious in their welcome to SouB, and how difficult it is for those who have grown up in the corrupt milieu of Trotskyism to make a really profound break with its fundamental ideas and attitudes.
In The State and Revolution, Lenin wrote:“During the lifetime of great revolutionaries, the oppressing classes constantly hounded them, received their theories with the most savage malice, the most furious hatred and the most unscrupulous campaigns of lies and slander. After their death, attempts are made to convert them into harmless icons, to canonize them, so to say, and to hallow their names to a certain extent for the ‘consolation’ of the oppressed classes and with the object of duping the latter, while at the same time robbing the revolutionary theory of its substance, blunting its revolutionary edge and vulgarizing it.”
During the life of Marx, the bourgeoisie did everything to prevent him from operating by demonising him and persecuting him through the apparatus of the police. After his death they did everything to distort his fight to destroy capitalism and open up the future to communism...
No solution to the ecological catastrophe without the emancipation of labour from capitalist exploitation
It is not enough to examine the mounting threat to life on this planet through the lens of ecology, or the natural sciences, alone. To understand the underlying causes of ecological devastation, and the possibility of reversing it, we have to understand their connection to the existing social relations, to the economic system that governs the earth: capitalism. And for us that means using the only really scientific approach to understanding the structure and dynamics of human society – the method of marxism. One excellent point of departure here is Engels’ 1876 essay ‘The part played by labour in the transition from ape to man’, an unfinished movement that has been included within a broader unfinished symphony, The Dialectics of Nature".
We are publishing here large extracts from a reader who, while welcoming the overall approach of the leaflet on the Yellow Vest movement distributed by our section in France also criticises certain of our positions, in particular the idea that nothing good for the proletariat can come out of this inter-classist movement. These questions touch on extremely important aspects of the proletarian struggle: what is the working class, its struggle, its perspective.
Police violence, riots, urban guerrillas, looting... The real cause of chaos and violence is capitalism!
The real, organised, systematic violence on the streets of France in recent weeks was that unleashed by the state which had encountered the anger of "the people" folowing years of austerity. But this "popular revolt" of all the "poor" of "working France" who can't "make ends meet" is not as such a proletarian movement, despite its sociological composition, as the following article explains.
Crisis in Venezuela: Neither Guaido nor Maduro! The Workers Must Not Support any of the Rival Bourgeois Factions
The confrontation between the bourgeois factions in Venezuela - between Chavismo and the opposition parties - has undergone a qualitative leap since the beginning of 2019. It takes place in a context of an unprecedented worsening of the economic and social crisis, the most evident sign of which is the increase in poverty experienced by a large part of the population. But it is part of a scenario marked by worsening rivalries between the great powers - some giving their open support to the regime of Nicolás Maduro, others to the proclaimed interim president Juan Guaidó. The US threat, as voiced by senior officials and Donald Trump himself, does not exclude a US military intervention, using "humanitarian aid" as a justification. Support for Nicolás Maduro has come mainly from countries such as Russia and China, the main allies of Chavismo. However, rather than a direct military confrontation between the great powers, the potential danger lies in the use of the population and workers as cannon fodder in a war between bandits.
In the two previous articles in this series, we have looked at the historic significance of the reawakening of the class struggle after decades of counter-revolution. In this article we want to look specifically at the evolution of the proletarian political milieu since 1968.
The world bourgeoisie against the October Revolution (part two): Social democracy and Stalinism forever in the bourgeois camp
Anti-Bolshevik propaganda poster 1919
In the first part of this article we highlighted the response of all the great imperialist powers to stem the revolutionary wave and prevent it from spreading in the major industrialised countries of Western Europe. In this article we look at the decisive contribution of social democracy to this reactionary project, and of Stalinism as one of the worst products of the isolation and defeat of the world revolution.
In the increasingly poisonous atmosphere of conflict and crisis in the Middle East, the ICC welcomes the appearance of the following article which is one of the rare expressions of a genuinely internationalist standpoint emanating from inside Israel. The author takes up the marxist position that all national struggles and slogans in the epoch of capitalist decline have become reactionary, and does not hesitate to argue that the only way out of the trap created by imperialism in Israel-Palestine is the unification of Israeli and Palestinian workers on a class basis, leading towards a proletarian revolution against all bourgeois states.
Recent expressions of US foreign policy, particularly but not only in the Middle East, show the impact of populism, exemplified in the Trump presidency, and the consequent strengthening global tendencies of every man for himself, unpredictability, chaos and open divisions within the ruling class.
The following article is one of several through which we plan to deal with the rise of China and its consequences for imperialist relations worldwide. For reasons of space we will focus in this article on the New Silk Road. In future we look in more detail at Chinese ambitions in Africa and Latin America and examine its overall rivalry with the US.
History of the Workers' Movement
March 2019 marks the centenary of the foundation of the Third, Communist International, one of the high points of the international revolutionary wave which swept the globe at the end of the First World War. We will be producing a new article to celebrate and analyse this historic event, but in the meantime we are drawing readers' attention to what we wrote in 1989, 70 years after the formation of the CI; this is an article which retains its relevance today.
In November 2018 the two main groups of the communist left in Britain, the ICC and the Communist Workers Organisation, held meetings in London on the centenary of the German revolution. From both meetings it was evident that there is fundamental agreement on a number of key points arising from this experience. And yet there were also definite disagreements between our two organisations, which emerged at the CWO meeting and were further debated at the ICC meeting the following week, which was attended by a member of the CWO. This article looks at the principal differences that emerged.
Revolution in Germany
A hundred years ago we were at height of the world revolutionary wave – more precisely, the outbreak of the revolution in Germany, a year after the proletariat took power in Russia, in October 1917.
“100 Years ago, the proletariat made the ruling class tremble”. This title may sound odd today because this immense historical event has more or less been consigned to oblivion. The bourgeoisie has succeeded in erasing it from the memory of the working class. And yet in 1918, all eyes were on Germany – a source of hope for the proletariat, and of fear for the bourgeoisie.
The working class had just taken power in Russia. 1917. The Bolsheviks. The soviets. The insurrection...
Germany was the bolt on the door between East and West. A victorious revolution here would open the way to the revolutionary class struggle throughout the old continent of Europe. None of the bourgeoisies wanted to see this door unbolted. This is why the bourgeoisie was to direct all its hatred, and all its most sophisticated manoeuvres, against it. The revolution in Germany would determine the success or failure of the world revolution which had begun in Russia...
Protests in the Middle East
An article from a close sympathiser showing that despite and even because of the omnipresence of war in the Middle East, the class struggle can still raise its head.
At the end of May this year a wave of strikes and protests by workers and unemployed in Jordan against tax increases, price rises and state corruption was widely reported in the media. In fact the movement by lower-paid workers against gas and electricity price increases began several months earlier in the provinces, building up to mass protests in the capital Amman...
In August Internationalist Voice posted a position on the ICC's web forum on the wave of protests in the Middle East affecting the countries of Jordan, Iran and Iraq. Here is a response from a close sympathiser of the ICC.
In a region scarred by imperialist war and sectarian divisions, the recent social protests in Iran, Jordan and Iraq offer hope that there is another possibility: the united struggle of the exploited against capital and its brutal violence. This article, written by a close sympathiser, looks at the massive demonstrations that have swept through central and southern Iraq.
Starting on July 8, 2018, a number of spontaneous protests broke out in central and southern Iraq involving thousands of demonstrators. It spread through eight southern provinces very quickly and, about a fortnight later, onto the streets of Baghdad. These followed significant protests in Jordan and Iran on exactly the same issues. The movement in Iraq would have been aware of these protests and inspired by them given the basic similarities.
Seventy years of the National Health Service, founded in 1948, has been celebrated on TV, by a service at Westminster Abbey, and by numerous events in hospitals. The NHS is, in its own words, “our country’s most trusted and respected social institution” . Even those who protest at the way it is run do so because they are against “the assault on the NHS” (Socialist Worker 3/3/18). People love the NHS, and want to protect it. It all seems too good to be true, a national institution loved by all from the Countess of Wessex at the service in Westminster Abbey (even if royalty invariably use private hospitals) to the poorest in the land, and from right to extreme left of the political spectrum. This ideology, supported by all the bourgeoisie’s political forces, is based on many falsehoods...