What use is the EFICC?

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From political irresponsibility to the void

The proletarian political milieu is composed of a certain number of organizations which, despite their confusions and analytical errors, sometimes very serious ones, represent the real historical effort of the working class to become conscious of itself. However, on the margins of this milieu, there is a whole series of small groups which are not part of any real historical tradition and whose only basis for existing is the sectarian spirit, personal questions and other petty issues. Such groups are basically parasites of the genuinely revolutionary organizations. Not only is their existence devoid of any foundation from the point of view of working class interests; they also serve to discredit, in the eyes of the workers, the positions and activity of serious organizations. The EFICC ('External Fraction of the International Communist Current') is a particularly significant example of a parasitic group. This has been illustrated to a tragi-comic degree by the way this group has responded to the major historical events which have shaken the world over the past two years. In nos 44 and 45 of this Review, we dealt with the circumstances in which the EFIC was formed. We will only very briefly go over this ground again here.

The EFICC was formed by a certain number of former mili­tants of our organization who voluntarily left it at its 6th Congress in November 1985. A few months before, these comrades had formed themselves into a tendency around a document which attempted to make a synthesis of different and contradictory viewpoints that had been developed against the ICC's orientations. But apart from their lack of homo­geneity and coherence, the positions expressed at this time by these comrades were characterized by a lack of firmness, by concessions to councilist ideas - in short, by a centrist atti­tude towards councilism. Although such positions could have had pernicious consequences if they had won over the whole organization, they did not at all justify an organizational sep­aration. This is why we saw this split as a real desertion which showed all the signs of irresponsibility and sectarian­ism. What's more, the splitters themselves were well aware that their attitude was unjustifiable because, from the time they left to the present day, they have stuck to the fable that they were expelled from the ICC. We lack the space in this article to go back over this lie (which we have already amply dealt with in IR 45). Rather like primitive communities, sects usually need a founding myth to justify their existence. The 'expulsion from the ICC' is one of the founding myths of this sect called the EFICC.

However, lies are not the only characteristic of the EFICC. We also have to add stupidity. That's because it gives you the stick to beat it with by confirming that it was in no way ex­pelled from the ICC but left under its own steam.

"Staying in a degenerating organization like the ICC means cutting yourself off from the possibility of facing and eventu­ally overcoming the crisis of marxism ... And all this is cov­ered over with a thin veneer of respectability by a new dogma the ICC conveniently invented 6 or 7 years ago: that militants supposedly have to stay in an organization until it has crossed the class line to the capitalist class enemy. Prisoners for life. Like battered women who pathetically claim that 'he loves me', the militants of the ICC have discovered the sanc­tity of marriage" (IP 20, 'For a living practice of marxist theory').

The reader can form his own opinion of the comparison be­tween the ICC and a brutal husband. Since it began the EFICC has habitually used this kind of language. What it shows however is that the EFICC (does it consider itself as a battered wife?) vehemently demanded a divorce whereas the ICC was opposed to it.

Once again, we don't have the space to refute all the many stupid and lying accusations made by the EFICC against our organization. In particular, we will if it's still necessary re­turn in another article to one of the battle-cries of the EFICC: the ICC's supposed abandonment of its programmatic princi­ples. However, there's one accusation whose inanity has been very sharply revealed by the events of the last two years: the accusation of theoretical regression.

The EFFIC and theoretical development

Alongside the accusation that we have abandoned our princi­ples, the EFICC has also decreed that "the ICC had not only ceased to be a laboratory for the development of marxist the­ory/praxis (the sine qua non for an organization of revolu­tionaries), but ... it was even incapable of maintaining the theoretical acquisitions on which it was founded" (IP 3, 'Why do we call ourselves a Fraction?'). The EFICC on the other hand has given itself the task of safeguarding and en­riching these acquisitions: "For an organization to live and develop, it is not enough to put its platform in the archives ... History goes forward and raises old questions in new forms, and those who are unable to keep up are condemned to fall by the wayside" ('The tasks of the Fraction', IP 1). Obviously the EFICC doesn't know the story of the pot that called the kettle black. This is clearly demonstrated by the great events that have taken place since the autumn of 89.

As the EFICC wrote in December 89: "The events that have been shaking Eastern Europe for several months require the elaboration, on the part of revolutionaries, of a clear marxist analysis of the real causes and consequences at the level of the inter-imperialist balance of forces and of the class strug­gle." And indeed, the EFICC has observed that: "Russia has no bloc anymore. For the moment, it has stopped being a major player on the world scene, a challenger of US imperi­alism ... The division of the world into two rival blocs, which was not only a characteristic of the last half century but also a precondition for global conflict, today does not exist." Bravo! This is almost exactly what we wrote in the late sum­mer of '89, ie nearly two months before the fall of the Berlin wall[1]. The only problem is that this analysis of the EFICC's doesn't date from the same period, but only appeared for the first time in IP 21 ('The future of imperial­ism'), dated winter of 91-92 - that is more than two years after we adopted our analysis.

As Marx said in the Theses on Feuerbach: "Man must prove the truth, ie the reality and power, the this-sidedness of his thinking in practice." When the theoretical capacities of rev­olutionary organizations were put to the test in practice, we were able to see how far the EFICC had succeeded in taking up the torch of theoretical elaboration, allegedly dropped by the ICC. This is what it wrote on 16 December 89 (over a month after the fall of the Berlin wall):

"The events of Eastern Europe are part of the 'perestroika' begun in Russia four years ago when Gorbachev took power ... The objectives of perestroika are ... Militarily, on an im­perialist level, to stop the Western offensive with an ideologi­cal counter-offensive whose aim is to divide the Western bloc and make it reduce arms spending, while trying to gain the technological and economic mastery needed to eventually compete with the West militarily ... In the imperialist sphere, Russia had no choice but to try to destabilize Europe in the hopes of gaining some benefit. Europe has always been the ultimate theatre of world imperialist conflicts and it remains so, more than ever, for Russia ... By accelerating the reforms in Eastern European countries, Russia is trying to modify the ground rules of the European problem, and open the EEC to the East in order to divide and neutralize it. The destruction of the Berlin Wall, far from a sign of peace, is a time bomb planted in the heart of Europe ... The dissolution of Stalinism in Eastern Europe as a form of the domination of capital is an eventual possibility which cannot be excluded[2] because of the history of these countries and the possibility of their being pulled into the Western orbit. But it is a different mat­ter for Russia itself." (Resolution of the EFFIC on the up­heavals in Eastern Europe, supplement to IP 15)

Luckily, you can't die of ridicule, or the members of the EFICC would be six feet under. We can however grant them one quality: pluck. You must have a lot of it to go on de­fending an organization which has adopted such inept posi­tions, which has managed to get the historic situation so wrong. The proletarian political milieu as a whole has had great difficulties in arriving at a clear and correct analysis of the events of the second half of 89 (see our article 'Faced with the events in the east, a vanguard that came late', IR 62). But one has to admit that the EFICC is way ahead of them all. It's also true that we can't really place them in the political milieu strictly speaking.

In fact, a blindness as monumental as the EFICC's has few equivalents in the history of the political milieu[3]: the only comparable example is that of the FOR (Ferment Ouvrier Revolutionaire) which, for over 20 years, has denied the ex­istence of the economic crisis of capitalism. Because even when the force of circumstances compelled it to admit its ini­tial errors, the EFICC still had no understanding of what was going on. Thus, at its IVth Conference in summer 91, the EFICC still hadn't recognized the disappearance of the east­ern bloc. What's more, the way it dealt with this question in IP 20 is typical of its congenital centrism: on the one hand, it noted "The collapse of the Warsaw Pact and of COMECON" (which is the least it could do since they had by now formally dissolved, merely confirming a collapse which had taken place well beforehand); it discovered that: "In effect, the events of the past two years have constituted a veritable revo­cation of the Yalta treaty!" ('The evolution of inter-imperial­ist tensions: an orientation for the 1990s')[4]; it pointed out that Russian imperialism had lost all its former positions of influence (Central Europe, Middle East, South East Asia, Africa, Central America and Cuba). But, on the other hand, the EFICC refused to talk explicitly of the 'disappearance' or even the 'collapse' of the eastern bloc. In this document, the "American bloc" is set against "Russian imperialism" or its "potential Russian adversary" without at any moment talking about what has happened to the Russian bloc[5]. For cen­trism, there are words that must not be spoken, as if one can thereby avoid taking a clear and definite position. And since the essence of a centrist position is that it's untenable, you are forced, one day or another, under the pressure of reality, because "facts are stubborn" (as Lenin put it), to chuck them into the bin. This is what IP 21 did, two years late. Bravo, comrades, a great effort.

The house of straw

Obviously, the exploits of the EFICC concerning the events which have shaken the world in the recent period are not limited to the 'elaboration' of an 'analysis' so wrong that it had to be put into question month after month. It has given further proof of its stupidity and blindness in its criticism of revolutionary organizations, the ICC in particular. Thus in IP 16, we can find an explicit article called 'The ICC and east­ern Europe: a degenerating organization makes a 180 degree turn', which proposed to make a "denunciation" of the ICC's position because it not only "reflects profound confusions but also because of the dishonest way in which it was arrived at: like Stalinist organizations, the ICC changes positions monolithically, without any open debate". No more or less, if you please.

The article is scandalized by the fact that "According to the ICC, the Eastern bloc is disappearing through 'implosion', as a result of the economic crisis". This is indeed, in broad outline, the conception defended by the ICC from the start, one which we didn't put into question at any moment. But for the EFICC: "This analysis implicitly rejects the concept of decadence." It's a "fundamental theoretical regression be­cause it concerns the comprehension of one of the basic mechanisms of capitalism and its crisis"; it's "negating purely and simply the framework of imperialism and the very nature of the bourgeoisie"; it's "certainly giving credit to the bourgeois ideological barrage, but it certainly isn't under­standing reality with a marxist framework"; it's "denying the warlike character of imperialist states," etc. Obviously we can't reproduce all the accusations of this kind. It would bore the reader rigid. But what the article basically shows is that for the EFICC, its "framework of analysis" (which one, actu­ally?) is more important than reality itself. And if the latter doesn't fit into its schemas, well it doesn't exist. And all this in the name of 'marxism', thank you very much.

As it happens, it's not enough to pull out quotes from Marx and Rosa Luxemburg, as the article does, in order to develop a marxist line of thought (the Stalinists have proved that long ago). You also have to understand what they mean and to avoid getting into theoretical nonsenses like the confusion between imperialism and imperialist blocs. This is however precisely what the article does when it takes a perfectly cor­rect statement by Rosa Luxemburg: "Imperialist policies are not the work of one country or group of countries. They are the product of the worldwide evolution of capitalism at a given moment of its maturation. By its nature, it is an inter­national phenomenon, an indivisible whole which can only be understood by its reciprocal relations and from which no country can escape" - and assumes that this demonstrates the permanent character of the division of the world into two blocs (something not verified by history). Comrades of the EFICC - you'd better go back to primary school and learn how to read[6].

If theoretical rigor isn't the EFICC's strongpoint, it's not really a problem for them. The main aim of the article, as announced in the title and the introduction, is to denigrate our organization. At all costs they have to illustrate the thesis of the 'degeneration of the ICC', which is one of the found­ing myths of the EFICC. The conclusion can't stress this enough: "Swept away by the dominant ideology, unable to grasp daily events with class principles and marxist method­ology, the ICC is becoming a vehicle for the class enemy. ... We hope that (these articles) will contribute to the debate in the revolutionary milieu and, who knows, even act as a salutary shock among the healthy elements still in the ICC". The "healthy elements" of the ICC are really grateful for the EFICC's concern ... and for the way it has, throughout the recent period, demonstrated the absurdity of its accusations against the ICC.

Seriously though, while we can't ask the EFICC to realize its plans for 'theoretical development' (its analyses over the past two years have shown that this is way beyond their capaci­ties), it is high time, for the sake of dignity in the relations between revolutionaries, that it stopped making these ridicu­lous but repellent insults about the 'Stalinist tactics' of the ICC. In IR 45 we have already dealt with these accusations about the way the ICC reacted to the appearance within its ranks of the minority that went on to form the EFICC. To­day, the EFICC tries to give a new twist to this legend by pointing out that the ICC press did not publish any texts by members in disagreement with its analysis of the events in the east. But this is absurd. The fact that the EFICC's successive changes of position provoked numerous disagreements[7] in its ranks is easily understood: when your positions are so re­moved from reality, it's hard for them to be accepted unani­mously or even for them to lead to a minimum of homogene­ity in the organization. The EFICC knows quite well that there have been debates within the ICC throughout the events of the last period. But it also knows, because its members agreed with the principle when they were militants of the ICC that these debates, if they are to lead to a real clarifica­tion in the class, are only taken to the outside world when they have reached a certain level of development. Now, while the analysis of the events in the east adopted by the ICC at the beginning of October 89 (and put forward for dis­cussion in mid-September) provoked some disagreements at the time, these were reabsorbed very quickly because, day after day, reality was confirming the validity of the analysis. Is it a proof of the 'degeneration of the ICC' that its analysis and its understanding of marxism enabled it, much more quickly than the other groups in the political milieu, to grasp the significance and the implications of the events in the east?

Before finishing with the EFICC's accusations against the ICC over the events in the east, there are two pearls deserv­ing of mention (among many others that we can't talk about due to lack of space): our so-called "180 degree turn" and the question of "superimperialism."

Incapable of recognizing the changes which have taken place on the international scene (despite all its speeches about the 'sclerosis' of the ICC), changes which have really amounted to a "180 degree turn", the EFICC was only able to see the positions adopted by the ICC as a renunciation of its funda­mental framework of analysis. Here again, the criticism ("denunciation", to use the EFICC's terms) is imbecilic and in bad faith. All the more so because, in the orientation text on the events in the east, published in IR 60, we leant heavily on the analysis of the Stalinist regimes and the eastern bloc which the ICC had developed at the beginning of the 80s (and which in turn were based on the advances made by the Gauche Communiste de France), following the military coup in Poland (cf IR 34). On the other hand, in the numerous 'analyses', all the geometrically varied positions (minority, majority, majority of the minority or minority of the major­ity) advanced by the EFICC, there's not one reference to this framework, even one putting it into question - despite the fact that the members of the EFICC had themselves adopted this framework since they were still militants of the ICC at the time[8]. The next time the EFICC tries to write that the ICC "is incapable of maintaining its theoretical acquisitions" we will advise it to begin by looking at itself in the mirror.

We can give the same advice if it is again tempted (as it was for example in the article in IP 19 'The revolutionary milieu and the Gulf war') to accuse us of holding a typically bour­geois position like "superimperialism". This theory, outlined by Kautsky and the reformists on the eve of and during the First World War, sought to show that the dominant sectors of world capital would be able to unify in order to impose their rule over the whole planet, thus ensuring global peace and stability. The EFICC knows quite well, when it attributes such a theory to us, that since the very beginning of the events in the east, we have clearly rejected it:

"Does this disappearance of the Eastern bloc mean that cap­italism will no longer be subjected to imperialist confronta­tions? Such a hypothesis would be entirely foreign to marx­ism ... Today, the collapse of this bloc does not give any support to analyses of this type (ie 'superimperialism'): the collapse of the eastern bloc also means the disappearance of the western bloc ... The deepening convulsions of the world economy can only sharpen the opposition between different states, including and increasingly on the military level ... The disappearance of the two major imperialist constellations which emerged from World War 2 brings with it the tendency towards the recomposition of two new blocs." ('After the collapse of the eastern bloc, destabilization and chaos', IR 61)

But it's precisely this conception of superimperialism which appears in IP 21 ('The Future of imperialism'):

"Only one bloc survived the crisis. It has no challenger at this point. Yet, contrary to the predictions of the ICC and others, for the moment it shows no signs of falling apart. Its existence is no longer based upon imperialist rivalry with Russia but on ruling the world according to the needs of the strongest capitals."

The editorial of this issue of the International Review, fol­lowing on a number of other articles, puts paid to this idea of the cohesion of the western bloc: once again, the EFICC re­fuses to see reality. But what's even more serious is that in doing so it puts into question one of the essential acquisitions of marxism this century.

Thus, to support the idea that powers like Germany and Japan can do nothing but stay firmly inside the 'American bloc', the EFICC tells us that: "The states of the American or Western bloc have become economically dependent on the functioning of these institutions (World Bank, IMF, GATT etc) and the network of trade and financial links they have forged."

This is a modern version of the conception held by the re­formists at the beginning of the century, and denounced vig­orously by the revolutionaries of the day: the idea that the development of economic, financial and commercial links between countries was a fetter on their imperialist antago­nisms and would do away with the danger of war between them. The EFICC is very well placed to talk about the ICC's 'denial of marxism', its 'capitulation' to bourgeois ideology. When you go to wipe someone else's' nose, better check first that your own isn't snotty. In fact, this is one of the favorite practices of the EFICC - in order to hide its own faults, it attributes them generously to the ICC. It's a procedure as old as politics but it's never exalted those who've used it, partic­ularly when they're revolutionaries.

What use is the EFICC?

If we accept, as the EFICC quite rightly says itself, that "the events shaking Eastern Europe require, on the part of revolu­tionaries, a clear marxist analysis of their real causes and consequences" then there's no element of denigration to con­clude that the EFICC has completely failed in this task. It recognizes it itself: "This new reality led us to recognize the insufficiency of our prior analyses, which in important re­spects remained imprisoned by outdated stereotypes" (IP 20, report on the 4th Conference of the EFICC), even if it adds a bit further on (you have to swagger a bit and keep up the morale of the militants) that "considering our capacity to analyze the situation to be positive ... we decided to continue on the same path as previously."

More generally, we must affirm that the EFICC has failed completely in its attempts to preserve and develop the theo­retical acquisitions of the ICC, a task which it claims we have abandoned. When its pretensions were confronted with the proof of events, it's evident that it didn't even manage to hang on to the ICC's coat-tails. It wanted to give us a lesson in theoretical far-sightedness, it has attacked our analyses in the most defamatory terms for two years, but in the end it has been forced to accept, to all intents and purposes, though without recognizing it, the point of view which we have de­fended from the start[9] - a point of view which it presented as the irrefutable proof of the 'degeneration' of our organization. The only difference it now has with the analysis we put forward two and a half years ago is that it has now taken up the bourgeois position of superimperialism, which it had ly­ingly attributed to us. Thus, its whole demonstration of the 'regression of the ICC' has turned against it: it's not the ICC which has regressed, it's the EFICC; it has understood noth­ing of the situation despite its self-proclaimed theoretical su­periority. And if an incapacity to grasp what was at stake in the events in the east was a sign of regression, as it has rightly affirmed over the past two years, it's certainly not our organization which has regressed but the EFICC itself.

To the question 'what use is the EFICC?' one is thus tempted to reply 'no use at all.' Unfortunately this isn't the case. Even if the EFICC's influence is insignificant, it does have the capacity to do harm. This is why we have written this ar­ticle. To the extent that its magazine has a certain number of readers, or that some people go to its public meetings, or that it intervenes in the political milieu, all the while reclaiming the platform of the most important organization in this mi­lieu, the ICC, it constitutes an added element of confusion within the working class. In particular, its councilist tenden­cies and its lack of theoretical rigor can't help gaining an echo in a country like the USA which is marked by the weakness of its political milieu and by a strong impregnation of councilist and libertarian ideas. Thus a group like the EFICC undoubtedly helps preserve and aggravate the under-developed nature of the proletarian milieu in such a country.

But even more fundamental is the fact that the EFICC serves to discredit serious revolutionary work, and in the first place, marxism itself. In the name of 'marxism' this group has been coming out with so many inept ideas that it has given marxism a bad name. Thus the EFICC makes its own little contribution to the present campaign about the 'death of communism'. It's true that there's a text in IP 17 'Is Marxism Dead?' which denounces these lies, and, in its way, reaffirms the validity of marxism. But once again revolutionaries have to prove the validity of marxism in practice, through the verification of their analyses. And the EFICC is very poorly placed to do this. But, unfortunately its contribution to the repulsive cam­paigns against marxism doesn't stop at an inadequate defense of marxist theory. In IP 20 it participates in it deliberately. The front cover is already ambiguous: '"Communism" must die that communism can live'. As if there weren't already enough confusions between communism and Stalinism, as if the latter's death-agony can somehow be seen as a 'victory' for the working class, whereas it has been turned against it by the entire 'democratic' bourgeoisie. On top of that, the editorial joyfully proclaims: 'Let the statues [ie of Lenin] fall'. It's obviously true that the working class doesn't need statues of revolutionaries (the bourgeoisie put them up pre­cisely to turn them into "inoffensive icons", as Lenin himself put it); but we shouldn't make any mistake about the signifi­cance of such actions in the recent period: they correspond to a rejection of the very idea of proletarian revolution, and the bourgeoisie has promoted and encouraged this.

This editorial tells us that revolutionaries "must rid them­selves of the tendency to look for a model in the Bolshevik revolution." In the present circumstances, the term "Bolshevik revolution" is already pernicious because it gives the impression, as the bourgeoisie repeats in an obsessive manner, that the October revolution was a purely Bolshevik affair. This can only add weight to the theory that this revo­lution was nothing but a coup d'état by Lenin and Co against the will of the population, or even of the working class. And to bolster these confusions, the editorial is headed by a drawing which shows Lenin shedding tears which have Stalin's head: in other words, Stalin really is in some ways the heir of Lenin. Once again: the communist left, and the ICC in particular, has never been afraid of shedding light on the errors of revolutionaries which have facilitated the work of the counter-revolutions. But they have always been able to see the priorities of the moment: today, it's certainly not to 'run with the pack' but to stand against the bourgeoisie's campaigns and to reaffirm the fundamental validity of the ex­perience of the post-World War One revolutionary wave. All the rest is just opportunism.

Finally, the same issue of IP contains an article ('For a living practice of marxist theory') which goes on at length about the "crisis of marxism." We can understand that the EFICC is feeling a bit uneasy after its inability to understand the events in the east has been so blatant. This is no reason for peremp­torily affirming that "no one in this (revolutionary) milieu predicted these events." Certainly the EFICC didn't manage to foresee anything, but it's not alone in the world and our own organization does not feel concerned by such assertions. In this sense, it's not marxism as developed by the commu­nist left and then by the ICC which is responsible for the failure of the EFICC's analyses. We mustn't aim at the wrong target: it's not marxism that's in crisis, it's the EFICC. But articles like this, which put the whole proletar­ian milieu in the same sack, and which generously attribute one's own nothingness to all the other groups, can only add grist to the mill of those who claim that it's marxism 'in gen­eral' which has failed.

But the EFICC's contribution to spreading confusion in the ranks of the working class and its political milieu isn't lim­ited to these meanderings about the 'crisis of marxism'. It's also shown by its current rapprochement with the Communist Bulletin Group (CBG). This group came out of the 1981 split by the secret tendency formed around the dubious element Chenier (who, a few months after his expulsion, was carrying a CFDT banner and is now an official of the Socialist Party which governs France). At the time they left, the members of this 'tendency', including those who were to form the CBG, stole material and funds from our organization. This is what the ICC wrote about this group in 1983, with the full agree­ment of the comrades who later formed the EFICC:

"In the first issues of The Bulletin they covered all this up with baseless personal attacks against the ICC of the vilest and most stupid sort[10]. Today (probably because this at­titude did not bring the results they counted on) they have changed their tune and hypocritically discovered 'the need for healthy polemic' ... How can they talk about 'solidarity' and the 'recognition of the political milieu of the proletariat' when the very basis for this doesn't exist for them? The CBG actually put pen to paper to write 'the existence of the milieu engenders a community of obligations and responsibilities'. But what these words actually mean is: watch out the day after we disagree with you, because stealing, or whatever else comes into our head, will then automatically become 'anti-petty bourgeois' activity. Or perhaps their view can be formulated as follows: when one splits, one can take what­ever is at hand but when, at last, one is one's own master, with one's 'own' little group, the ex-highwayman joins the circle of property owners ... What are its positions? The same (more or less) as the ICC! Another group whose exis­tence is politically parasitical. A provincial version of the ICC platform minus the coherence and plus the stealing ... Most little circles which split before first clarifying their po­sitions follow the path of least resistance at first and adopt the same platform as the group they left. But quite soon, to justify their separate existence once the drama has died down, all kinds of secondary differences are discovered and before you know it, principles are changed ... the CBG is al­ready following the same route by rejecting any coherence on the organization question." (IR 36, 'Address to proletarian political groups: in answer to the replies')[11].

This is how the EFICC itself described the CBG in 1986: "Those who left in 1981 used deceit to appropriate ICC ma­terial. Some of those who later formed the CBG made matters even worse by threatening to call the police against ICC members that recuperated the stolen material ... In the pages of The Bulletin 5, the CBG has condemned such threats as 'behavior totally alien to revolutionary practice'. It also states that 'splitters should return hardware belonging to the group and any funds of the organization. This self-critique is however, at best half-hearted. So far as we are aware, the CBG still has funds that it held in escrow for the ICC when it was still part of that organization.  ... In practice, the CBG has not unequivocally repudiated gangsterist behavior in the milieu" ('The revolutionary milieu and Internationalist Per­spective)

At the beginning, the EFICC was more than a little reticent about the CBG's approaches to it. But much water has flown under the bridge since then and the CBG was guest of honor at the EFICC's 4th Conference since the two of them "as a result of prior discussions and meetings  ... share agreement on basic questions of principle"

It's true that in the meantime, after nearly 9 years, the CBG returned the funds and material it stole from the ICC. The EFICC had made this a sort of precondition: "At our insis­tence, and as a precondition of the meeting, the CBG agreed to return the material in their possession to the ICC" (IP 15, 'Report on a meeting with the CBG').

As we can see, it's not because it's suddenly become honest that the CBG has given back what it stole from us. It has simply bought its respectability, in Pounds Sterling, from the EFICC, which can now close its eyes to its past "gangsterist behavior" (to use its own phrase). The EFICC has behaved like the daughter of a good family who, afraid of remaining a spinster after several failed love affairs[12] is ready to accept the advances of a former thief. But because she has a sense of honor she insists that they can only get engaged if her suitor returns his ill-gotten gains to his victims. The EFICC may think that opportunism can't exist in the period of decadence: in fact it's a living proof of the contrary, And this is all the more true when it claims that the ICC took on many of the features of the 1981 tendency: "Many aspects of the ICC's programmatic degeneration in 1985 (the search for immedi­ate influence, the tendency to substitutionism, the blurring of the class nature of rank and file unionism, etc) were precisely points that were defended by Chenier and other splitters in 1981" (IP 3, 'The revolutionary milieu and Internationalist Perspective').

In the final analysis, it's obviously not accidental that the EFICC is now involved in a perfectly opportunist regroup­ment with a group which the whole ICC (including the com­rades of the future EFICC) have recognized as 'parasitic'. This is because the EFICC cannot, fundamentally, be distin­guished from the CBG (except that it knows that you don't steal material from revolutionary organizations). Both of them are parasitic groups which in no way correspond to a historical effort towards consciousness, even an incomplete one, by the proletariat and its political organizations. Their only reason for existing is precisely to act as parasites on organizations of the proletariat (in the real sense of living off them while at the same time weakening them).

One of the proofs that the EFICC has no autonomous exis­tence, as a political group, vis-a-vis the ICC, is the fact that, on average, one third of its publications (and sometimes vir­tually entire issues) is devoted to attacking and denigrating our organization[13].

This parasitic approach also enables us to understand the huge difficulties the EFICC has had in understanding the events in the east: since it must at all costs distinguish itself from the ICC in order to justify its existence (and 'demonstrate' the degeneration of the ICC) it's been forced to talk nonsense about these events since the ICC was the first organization in the political milieu to analyze them clearly. The only chance for the EFICC to say something sensible is if we start going in the wrong direction. But this is a bit much to ask of us. In fact, it's the fate of parasitic groups to wallow in incoherence and aberrant analyses - and this is even more the case when the group that is their reference point has correct and coherent positions. Systematic opposi­tion to coherence can only give rise to incoherence.

What's more, the parasitic nature of the EFICC appears in its very name. For a worker who is not well up on the arcana of the political milieu, to receive a leaflet or a publication which refers itself to the ICC without being the ICC can only sow disquiet. The absurdities written by the EFICC risk being wrongly attributed to our organization and even if the EFICC writes things that are correct (this happens sometimes because its platform is the ICC's), it can only lead to the conclusion that revolutionaries are people who are not very serious and who take a malign pleasure in sowing confusion.

Fundamentally, the function of such groups is to weaken the activity of revolutionaries in the class, to discredit revolu­tionary ideas themselves. This is why we think today as we thought in 1986 that: "What we said about the CBG goes for the EFICC: 'another group whose existence is politically parasitic'. The best thing we could hope for, both for the working class and the comrades who comprise it, is that the EFICC disappears as quickly as possible".

And if the EFICC won't do this service to the working class, we can at least ask it to let go of the bone in its mouth and stop referring to our organization in its own name: we have no wish to go on enduring the discredit which the stupidities and opportunism of the EFICC bring to the name of the ICC.  FM, March '92

Notes: Due to lack of space, this article, written in March 92, didn't appear in the previous issue of our Review. Since then, the EFICC has published a new issue of IP, which we couldn't refer to without further lengthening our article. However, it's worth citing a text from IP 22, written by a former member of the EFICC, who knows very well the state of mind that reigns in this group: "The Fraction didn't want to use the notion of decomposition, no doubt because that would mean going in the same direction as the ICC (our emphasis). It's difficult to understand why the Fraction criticizes the use of the term 'decomposition' and accuses the ICC of abandoning the framework of marxism when this organization uses and develops this notion. It's as if there was an orthodoxy of decadence, an invariance of decadence which it would be fatal to alter. Instead of being critical, thought turns into a form of immobilism, a magical formula struggling to unlock the mysteries ... As a result, we're heading straight towards the kind of situation caused by our insufficiencies in analyzing the events in the east. We recognized the disappearance of the eastern bloc two years late; we'll recognize the reality of social decomposition after an equally stunning delay" ('Decadence of capi­talism, social decomposition and revolution'). We couldn't have put it better ourselves!

[1] "... however the situation in the Eastern bloc evolves, the events that are shaking it today mean the historic crisis, the definitive collapse of Stalinism, this monstrous symbol of the most terrible counter-revolution the proletariat has ever known ... In these countries, an unprecedented period of instabil­ity, convulsions, and chaos has begun, whose implications go far beyond their frontiers. In particular, the weakening, which will continue, of the Russian bloc, opens the gates to a destabilization of the whole system of in­ternational relations and imperialist constellations which emerged from World War II with the Yalta Agreements ...The events presently shaking the so-called 'socialist countries', the de facto disappearance of the Russian bloc ... constitute, along with the international resurgence of the proletariat at the end of the sixties, the most important historic facts since the second world war" ('Theses on the economic and political crisis in the USSR and the eastern countries', IR 60).

"The world's geopolitical configuration as it has lasted since World War II has been completely overturned by the events of the second half of 1989. There are no longer two imperialist blocs sharing the world between them ... at the present time, a course towards world war is excluded by the non-existence of two imperialist blocs" ('After the collapse of the eastern bloc, destabilization and chaos', IR 61).

[2] A reminder: this text was written when the only Stalinist regimes in Eu­rope still standing were Albania and Rumania. In the latter, we were only two weeks away from Ceausescu's overthrow. No comment.

[3] However, we can say that the events in the east have shown the EFICC to be right on certain points: as we predicted at the beginning of our analy­ses, these events have indeed provoked the division of the western bloc and the EEC. But it's not very probable that this is what Gorbachev had planned, unless we think he adopted the attitude of a betrayed husband who kills himself in order to plunge his wife into guilt and despair ... The EFICC can think about this hypothesis in the context of its theory of the battered wife, an integral part of its effort to "deepen marxism".

[4] As is often the case, the EFICC is funny without meaning to be. Given the fact that it's been obliged to modify its analyses throughout the last two years (in virtually every issue of IP, but without managing to arrive at a correct analysis), the idea of proposing an orientation for a whole decade is positively demented. If the EFICC's pretensions were not as overblown as its capacities for analysis were rickety, in other words if it had the slightest sense of the ridiculous, it would have been able to propose "an orientation for the next three months", ie until its next issue came out. It would then have avoided the embarrassment in IP 21 of having to throw out (without recognizing it) the long-term predictions of IP 20.

[5] To be honest, we should say that in its presentation of its conference, the EFICC is still going on about the eastern bloc: "COMECON has disap­peared as a system of imperialist relations between the head of the bloc, the USSR, and its satellites, which have ceased to be simple vassals". This is at least clear - clear that the EFICC wants to drown the fish. COMECON has disappeared, certainly (that's just observing what has already been officially announced), but is there another "system of imperialist relations between ... the USSR and its satellites"? This is a mystery. What 'bloc' are we talking about here the one that's disappeared, or the one that will survive under a different form? The reader can only guess. And what's happened to the satellites? Are they still vassals, but no longer "simple" ones? And when will the EFICC stop treating its readers as though they were simple?

[6] There is no limit to the theoretical ignorance and paucity of the EFICC (especially when it's trying to show up the ICC). Thus, in IP 17 ('Grasping the significance of the events in eastern Europe') we read that "the theory of state capitalism is based on the existence of military blocs". This is idiocy. The two phenomena certainly have a common origin: imperialism or, more generally, capitalist decadence, but this doesn't mean there's a cause and ef­fect relation between them. If measles gives you spots and a fever, are we to conclude that it's the spots that are responsible for the fever? In the same article, the EFICC says with fine irony: "How intriguing to conjecture about the end of an entire imperialist bloc without a war or even a shot fired. Either bloc would undoubtedly be overjoyed if the other were to dis­appear due to the economic effects of the crisis alone, without even having to fire a missile. Think how much time and effort could be saved!" And yes, it is "intriguing". Especially for those who write that "history advances, poses new problems, poses old problems in a new form". But this is what did happen, even if it took two years for the authors of these lines to recognize it. Think of the time and energy which could be spared revolutionary organizations (and the working class) if they weren't encumbered by stupid and pretentious parasites like the EFICC! And to prove that misplaced irony is a specialty of the EFICC, and particularly the author of the previous lines (JA), there's a jibe at the same level in IP 20, and by the same author: "Some even tell us that imperialist rivalry between the US bloc and the Rus­sian bloc is a thing of the past. Oh brave new world!" ('For a living prac­tice of marxist theory'). Three months later the EFICC was singing the same song. Better late than never - but does it understand the words?

[7] See IP 16, where it seems that there are as many positions as members of the EFICC (which confirms that the latter reproduces the same hetero­geneity that already existed in the old 'tendency').

[8] It should be noted that, in the two texts (the EFICC's and the text of the minority at the time) of December 89, there is no reference to the document 'Theses on Gorbachev' published in IP 14 and which was supposed to represent the framework for understanding perestroika. In particular, there is no reference to the question of the passage from the 'formal to the real domination of capital', which is the latest hobbyhorse of the EFICC and presented as one of its great 'theoretical contributions' (see IR 60 for our article refuting the meanderings of the EFICC and other groups on this question). It would seem that the EFICC's 'discoveries' aren't much use to it for understanding the world today. It was only later on, when it was try­ing to pick up the pieces, that it made a rather lukewarm reference to it.

[9] There is evidently a fundamental difference in the way the EFICC ended up understanding the implications of the events in the east and the way the ICC did two and a half years ago. The EFICC came to recognize reality in a totally empiricist way, under the massive pressure of irrefutable realities. On the other hand, if the ICC managed to identify the new historic reality at a time when its outward expressions were still practically imperceptible to the majority of observers (whether they belonged to the capitalist camp or the proletarian camp), it's not because we had recourse to a medium or the prophecies of Nostradamus. It was because we based ourselves on our pre­vious analyses and relied firmly on the marxist method when it came to re­considering certain aspects of this framework. Empiricism (at best) against the marxist method - this is the real distinction between the EFICC and the ICC at the level of theoretical reflection.

[10] To get an idea of the level of 'polemic' that the CBG engages in, here's a little extract from its prose at the time: "a process of maneuvering in which X and his then bedfellow Y played a prominent part" ('Open letter to the proletarian milieu on the Chenier affair', The Bulletin 1).

[11] It's a bit ironical that this article was written by JA, today a member of the EFICC and the main critic of our organization in the columns of IP. At that time she still defended the principles of the ICC. We wish her much pleasure, and the 'highwaymen' of the CBG, in the close relations now de­veloping between the EFICC and the CBG.

[12] See IP 13 ('International Review of the Communist Movement: the limits of an initiative') for an account of its attempts to participate, in 1987, in a rapprochement between various confused and parasitic political groups.

[13] This is why we find it hard to believe it when it writes: "Our critique of the way the 'new style' ICC thinks and acts has only sharpened, not because of 'anti-ICC' obsessions, but because it is essential for us to speak out on revolutionary principles" (IP 10, 'What kind of 'struggle groups').

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