I thought it was worth re-posting this recent exchange from the ICT’s forum here. As I said (on the 'brown masquerade' thread):
...it was a genuine query; if they now see themselves merely as one of the nucleii of the future party then what is the difference with the ICC on this question? It seems to be more one of emphasis, talking more about the party as a 'special weapon' forged by the class, bringing the historic programme to the workers' struggles, etc. If I can't see the difference how can the wider milieu be expected to? And do indeed ICC comrades see substantive differences here? If not, how can we proceed?
Not surprisingly the ICT see this from their own perspective, but I find Cleishbotham’s response interesting and constructive.
This is an important discussion but it’s one where we need to avoid false disagreements.
Re Stevein7’s original comment I agree with Charlie that class consciousness – ie. the tendency for the class to become conscious of itself as a class and of its historic interests - must be inherent within the class as a whole, otherwise there would be no revolutionary minorities in the first place. Marx and Engels may or may not have been ‘extraordinary geniuses’ but if it wasn’t for the struggles of the working class and the emergence of its first political minorities they would have been unable to relate their theories to a practical movement. Presumably as Marxists we all agree that history is not made by brilliant individuals?
Cleishbotham then makes some interesting distinctions about class consciousness but again I think there is a danger of false disagreements.
For a start I don’t think the ICC would deny that the party has a “special purpose” or that it is absolutely indispensable to the success of the proletarian revolution. In fact on the back of every ICC publication you find the following:
“Our activity…The regroupment of revolutionaries with the aim of constituting a real world communist party, which is indispensable to the working class for the overthrow of capitalism and the creation of a communist society.” (my bold).
This doesn’t sound very different from the ICT’s own statement that:
“We are for the party, but we are not the party or its only embryo. Our task is to participate in its construction, intervening in all the struggles of the class, trying to link its immediate demands to the historical programme; communism.”
Nor do I think there is a substantive disagreement with Cleishbotham’s view that:
“the key role of the party is that it is the historic consciousness of the class and as such it is the bearer of the communist programme which has to be put into the debate in order for capitalism to be finally overcome. Where it is not present then other capitalist agendas will certainly take over.”
I’m not trying to pretend that there are no differences between the two groups of the Communist Left on this or other questions. But it must be hard for the wider milieu to know exactly what the disagreements are, especially on the party, since the ICT replaced the IBRP.
So I think at the very least, if ICT comrades want to demonstrate that the ICC is wrong, and that the ICT has a correct position on the party, they are going to have to try a bit harder to clarify their differences.
Mark Let's agree that this is a serious issue and in a recent meeting between us the ICC said they substantially agreed with our pamphlet on Class Consciousness and Revolutionary Organisation which they said they would review. This is welcome. However the ICC also have some work to do to "demonstrate" that they have moved on from 1980 and the Third International Conference. After all its subsequent splits in the 1980s (mainly of a councilist orientation) I have quoted the passage you cite on the back of ICC publications to put the point to several ICC comrades that they now could accept the seventh criteria [on the party] but have always received the reply "yes but that's not the point the criteria was just introduced to ensure the ICC could not participate any further in the conferences" (as always organisational defence comes before political clarity). That was 33 years ago. If the ICC were really serious they would now restart the discussion on the basis of that criteria and stop implying that we have a Kautskyian view of class consciousness. Perahps we are on the verge of some sanity on this. I hope so and thank you for your comment.
What do other comrades think? I’m not under any illusions that we’re all going to suddenly agree, but it can only be positive if we are clearer where the real differences lie, and if we can use this forum to contribute to this process, we may even take a small but important step forward...