Balance sheet of the ICC's intervention in the struggles of workers around the world

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As the most advanced part of the working class, revolutionaries have a responsibility to intervene in struggles. But unlike the leftists and the excitable elements of the petty-bourgeoisie who see the spectre of social revolution behind "everything that moves", revolutionaries, in order to carry out a coherent intervention, must have a compass, a method learnt from marxism, based on the experiences of the history of the workers' movement over nearly two centuries. It is precisely this method which alone enables them to understand and intervene in the struggles of the working class with a historical and long-term vision, so as not to fall into the trap of impatience, of waiting for immediate results and finding themselves trailing in the wake of the organisations of the extreme left of capital or of rank and file unionism.

So, in the summer of 2022, the ICC analysed the outbreak of struggles in Britain not as a simple local event but as a phenomenon of international and historical significance. The resumption of workers' struggles, on a scale not seen in the UK since the 1980s, marked a real break in the dynamic of class struggle. Faced with such an event, the ICC decided to produce an international leaflet in which we affirmed that the massive strikes in the UK were "a call to struggle for proletarians everywhere".

This was fully confirmed in the months that followed, when, as well as continuing struggles in many sectors in the UK, strikes and demonstrations broke out in several European countries and on other continents. For the most part, these too were on a scale not seen since the late 1980s, confirming a real return of workers' fighting spirit after several decades of stagnation on a global scale.

During the autumn of 2022, the ICC took part in demonstrations and picket lines. The section of the ICC in Britain took part in 8 picket lines, mainly in London and Exeter, distributing several hundred leaflets. It also took part in the London Anarchist Book Fair. The ICC was also present at the cross-industry day of action in France on 29 September 2022.

During the discussions on demonstrations and at the picket lines, we defended the international dimension of the attacks and therefore the need for everyone to fight together, acting in a unified way and avoiding getting bogged down in local struggles, within one's own company or sector.

At the same time, the ICC regularly published articles in its press (website, papers, International Review) highlighting the openly proletarian terrain of these various struggles, but above all their historical significance, by emphasising that they formed a real springboard for reclaiming class identity.

The outbreak of the struggle against pensions reform in France in January gave new impetus to this dynamic of international struggles. Almost every week for nearly 6 months, millions of workers took to the streets to oppose a vile attack by the bourgeois state. During the 13 days of demonstrations, both in Paris and in the provinces, the ICC mobilised all its forces, rallying its supporters around it, to disseminate its press as widely as possible, distributing nearly 130,000 leaflets and dozens of newspapers.

The quality of the intervention depended on the ability of the ICC to adapt to the evolution of the class’s response on an international level, but also to the more specific evolution of the struggle in France. This is why the ICC has produced both leaflets with an international scope and more "territorial" leaflets when necessary. This was done in order to respond as effectively as possible to the needs of the movement, not only in France, but above all on an international level, since struggles broke out during the same period in many countries, and in which the ICC was also able to intervene. To varying degrees, this was the case in Belgium, Spain, the Netherlands, Germany, the UK and Mexico.

What, then, were the main themes defended in the demonstrations, both through leaflets and territorial papers and during discussions?

-  In January 2023, a new international leaflet entitled “How can we fight together in a massive united movement?” highlighted the need to counter the work of division undertaken by the unions by developing solidarity beyond one's corporation, company, sector, town, region or country.

- Subsequently, while continuing to defend the same necessity, the ICC placed at the heart of its intervention the defence of self-organisation and methods of struggle that would create a balance of forces with the bourgeois state. The leaflet of 2 February "It’s not enough to come out in large numbers, we have to take control of our struggles!" and the third international leaflet “Everywhere the same question: How to develop the struggle? How to make governments back down?", was a response to this concern, which was being expressed more and more over the weeks, particularly in the discussions we had in demonstrations. In particular, we defended the need to create forums for discussion such as sovereign mass meetings open to all.

- Despite their many weaknesses, all these struggles did indeed express an attempt to create a collective force, united in solidarity, not as isolated individuals but as an exploited class confronting its exploiter.

The echoes of the struggle in France among British and German workers fully illustrated this.

So, one of the responsibilities of revolutionaries is precisely to contribute to the development of this effort to recover class identity. That's why we've always stressed the need to reappropriate the experience and history of the working class. Especially since this concern was spontaneously expressed in the struggle in France through the slogan “You give us 64, we'll give you May 68” brandished in every march from the beginning to the end of the movement. Or in the resurgence of the memory of the struggle against the CPE in 2006.

The leaflet “How did we win in 2006?” defended the experience of sovereign general assemblies, which had contributed to the movement's expansion and ultimately led to the government's retreat. A few weeks later, the fourth international leaflet, "Britain, France, Germany, Spain, Mexico, China…. We have to go further than in 1968!", extended this effort, but above all made it possible to defend more explicitly the historic challenge of the resumption of workers' struggles and the challenge it posed: the overthrow of capitalism and the victory of the proletarian revolution for the survival of humanity.

Overall, our various leaflets were always well received, the headlines often hitting the mark, and provoking reactions from demonstrators: "Yes, we're all in the same boat!", "Yes, we must all fight together!", "I've come from Germany and there are struggles there too!", "We're from Italy, and we've come to demonstrate with the French workers", "I was there in May '68, we must do the same thing again!", "Oh yes, we must indeed make the revolution!” These were the most significant reactions to the many discussions we were able to have. Of course, they remain a minority, and sometimes confused, but they express the effort of reflection that is taking place in the depths of the working class to recognise itself as a class, to take the struggle into its own hands and to develop the struggle that will enable the working class to take the road to revolution.

It was this historic dynamic at work that we highlighted in the leaflet taking stock of the struggle against pension reform on the last day of demonstrations on 6 June, when the desire to fight and struggle continued unabated. On several occasions, demonstrators agreed with the title of the leaflet, even telling us “We’ve lost a battle, but we haven't lost the war". So yes, "the fight is well and truly ahead of us!”

Our intervention was also accompanied by the distribution of hundreds of copies of the Third Manifesto of the ICC[1] which, faced with the ever more deadly and destructive spiral of capitalist society, defends tooth and nail that the future of humanity is in the hands of the working class. We believe that it is the responsibility of revolutionary organisations to explain to the working class, as clearly as possible, the historical conditions in which its struggle is taking place and what is at stake.

With the same approach, the ICC also organised two series of public meetings on the international class struggle in a number of countries. The first was on the theme: "We are not alone in mobilising... There are workers' struggles in many countries!” The second: “Britain, France, Germany, Spain, Mexico, China"… We need to go further than 1968!”[2].

These meetings were driven by a clear desire for clarification through a confrontation of the different positions involved. They were real proletarian debates where support, nuances, doubts and questioning, and even disagreements with the ICC’s positions were expressed. This active participation in the debates is an illustration of the slow maturation of consciousness which is taking place in depth within the world working class, and which is particularly evident among small minorities, often belonging to a new generation who are gradually renewing their links with the experience of the workers' movement and the Communist Left.

By intervening actively in the demonstrations, as well as in our web and paper press, the ICC has fully fulfilled its political responsibilities within the working class. The fruits of this intervention have been seen in the fact that new elements seeking class positions have made contact with the ICC and some have even come to take part in our public meetings.

While since last June, the momentum that began in the summer of 2022 in the United Kingdom seems to have reached a kind of "pause", the outbreak of strikes in the automobile sector in the United States clearly shows that the dynamic of struggle is continuing. For the ICC, these economic struggles are the privileged terrain for the class to develop its reflection and consciousness. It is the responsibility of revolutionary organisations to participate fully in these struggles in order to bring to maturity this vital effort for the development of the revolutionary struggle.


Vincent, 1 October 2023.



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