On the adventurist element in Spain

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A close sympathiser of the ICC makes an appeal to the organisations of the proletarian political milieu to take up their responsibility in response to the dangerous manoeuvres of an adventurer.

I would like to express my full support for the ICC’s text published on Gaizka[1]. Above all, it must be recognised that the ICC has not published the article on Gaizka as part of an attack on the individual (his real name is carefully omitted), but as an identification of an opportunist, adventurist element that is able to derail the milieu. More broadly, the article of the ICC sets out to put a finger in the wound with regard to the programmatic and organisational weakness of the milieu, of which the uncritical acceptance of Nuevo Curso (NC) by the milieu is an expression.

The latest article, in tandem with the article on the history of the so-called ‘Spanish Communist Left’[2], unveils the fraudulent nature of Nuevo Curso’s politics. Its overtures to historical Trotskyism have been adequately criticised as antithetical to the programmatic positions of the communist left. So why then publish an article on the leading element in Nuevo Curso? The existence of NC demonstrates how easily the milieu can be enraptured by adventurist elements. In what follows, I will point out some of the questions that the rise of Gaizka poses for the milieu.

The nature of adventurist elements

It is not our goal here to repeat what has already been confirmed with regard to the nature of this particular element in Spain. But it seems to me that the nature of these adventurist elements has to be understood more historically. The history of the proletariat, and the history of its political organisations, has been marred by the appearance of ‘great leaders’ who have tried to use these movements for their own personal glory. One of the main examples was the figure of Lassalle, but there have been others. But adventurism has to find a fertile host in order to fester. We need to consider the reasons for which some scattered, weakly politicised elements are able to create another ‘left communist’ grouplet that is equally able to regroup itself under the guidance of any other existing groups in the milieu. And why it is that other groups are willing to accept the existence of tendencies that are so clearly in contradiction with their own programme?

Historically, as the texts by the ICC on adventurism have shown, the prominence of adventurist elements is primarily predicated on the weakness of the proletarian milieu at a particular historical moment. That is not to say that organisations are helpless to do anything in a difficult historical moment for communists, but it requires a strong theoretical and organisational firmness to be able to go against the current.

In other words, it is imperative that the milieu be able to confront the attack on its theoretical principles. There should be a full reflection on how and why it is that we are currently being haunted by elements that seek to deviate from the tradition of the Communist Left. Generally, the problem seems to reside in the weakness of the milieu. But before going into this weakness, it might be fruitful to understand how a new organisation might legitimately become part of the milieu. In doing so, we champion the concept of the milieu, precisely because it prevents us from putting our heritage between brackets every time a new group appears, and because it limits what can be legitimately held to be considered ‘communist’; and additionally because it can exclude what, on the basis of historical experience, can never be a position of the working class.

You can’t reinvent the wheel

And yet, it is possible to come to the milieu with new ideas, and to join the milieu as a new group, or join one of the existing groups, while holding opinions that might seem to disturb common wisdom. In fact, it is precisely the fierce struggle against the Second International dogma that enabled the Left Fractions to break on a clear basis with the old organisation and maintain their proletarian kernel.

However, there can be no theory that is not developed in debate with reality and in debate with other political groups that currently exist. And we cannot ignore what has already been extensively proven by history, for instance the regressive role of the unions. For us communists, there can be no reinvention of the wheel: at this moment in time, given the fragility of our political current, and given the demographic distribution of our militants, and more importantly, the difficult political moment we are in (with the borders, populism, politics of blame, etc.) any sowing of political doubt regarding the basic principles of our politics is quasi-suicidal.

In defending the milieu and the (unacknowledged) points of agreement that it represents, it should be equally unthinkable that one represents both a communist organisation and a bourgeois organisation.

Of course, it is impossible to live and work in capitalism without becoming somewhat entangled in it, but there is still an important difference with working as an advisor to a political figurehead and with actively supporting a bourgeois party and its ideology. If such dual representation of communist and bourgeois causes were accepted, it would obscure the meaning of communism, and it would cloud the way the working class should direct its attention.

As was said earlier, a break has to be made. Neither of these two conditions, despite being common sense, has been met by the leading figure of Nuevo Curso. No explanation of Gaizka’s political oscillations has been provided, and neither has his organisation fundamentally defined its differences in relation to the other groups. Nor, should we note, has it issued a real defence of the existence of the so-called Spanish Left. The clarity of communist theory has to be safeguarded by engaging in debate, by openly developing a set of shared positions that define communist politics. Unfortunately, the milieu seems to be unable to do so.

This leaves us in a particularly difficult political position, in which adventurists elements are able to grow uninhibitedly, and gain an unearned legitimacy. It would be foolish to deny the possibility of legitimate differences in programmatic points between communist groups. But it is vitally important that we do not leave the doors open to the manoeuvres of adventurers and leftist positions, which seems little earned to be the most immediate danger if we continue to let elements like Nuevo Curso enter unhindered. Parasitic groups like the so-called International Group of the Communist Left (IGCL) will, undoubtedly, persist in defending the exact opposite position of the ICC, saluting the appearance of a new current among the others, as it suits their goal of imploding the milieu for their own purposes of liquidating theory and organisation. It further demonstrates their ultimate purpose, and their underlying hatred of clarification, their love of ‘choice’ i.e. democracy, and their inability to engage in discussions without seeing their opinions as their own personal property. Their errors lead them to distort the current criticisms of NC as a form of character assassination, as that is their own modus operandi, and they simply cannot think outside of it.

The weakness of the milieu

We cannot deny that new arguments or revised theories might be valid in political debate between groups. The invocation of a so-called ‘Spanish left’ is both a consequence and a symptom of an unwillingness to debate within the milieu, that is to say to fully map any that might legitimately remain, and is thus an obstacle to the ability of the milieu to move forward on a common platform. The creation of a new communist tradition is to sidestep the debate and an expression of the fundamentally parasitic nature of this group.

So, we have to ask, what has the milieu done until now? Generally, it has accepted the existence of the new elements, and has failed to critically engage with its positions. Translated texts that appear from Nuevo Curso are introduced by other groups with little to no comment on its political deviations. Apparently, for some parts of the milieu, the reverence for the ‘miracle’ of the emergence of new elements leads them to an almost devotional attitude towards any and all elements that appear.

The moment seems to deceive most current political groups. Some young new elements, led on by their own coming to communist positions, tend to think that the party is about to be founded in the (very) near future. The fundamental error is to think that even if we are able to regroup the left communist milieu as one organisation, it instantaneously becomes the ‘party’. It is not a party because it has no actual impact within the working class: it would merely be yet another party, indistinguishable from all the other small leftist parties that have nothing as their content. It would be foolish to ‘regroup’ solely to regroup. On the contrary, what is needed now is vigorous theoretical discussion to make such a regrouping possible in the future on a solid programmatic and organisational basis.

I salute the work that the ICC has done to theoretically identify the roots of Nuevo Curso, and to detail in what manner an adventurer like Gaizka has been able to go under the guise of a ‘new theory’ to pull searching elements into the swamp between communism and leftism. I can only wholeheartedly hope that the milieu will be able to overcome its weaknesses and can begin to reinitiate the debates that are necessary to begin a process of necessary programmatic solidification, and subsequently, the exclusion of elements that are not actively approaching these positions.

Merwe, 2020-07-10


A danger to the proletarian political milieu