ICC Day of Discussion, London 23 June

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ICC Day of Discussion, London 23 June
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This promises to be very positive given the number of people who have expressed interest in coming to it. 

Come to a day of discussion: what can we learn from the social movements of 2011?


At the moment we envisage four main areas of discussion:

 - in the morning, lessons of the social movements of 2011, based around our international statement. But hopefully the discussion will incorporate more detailed experiences from various parts of the world.

 - In the afternoon, two shroter discussions: one is a discussion on art. The presenter (Mark Hayes) has sent a brief outline of the areas to be covered. A more detailed text may be available soon. 


According to Trotsky, “Art, which is the most complex part of culture, the most sensitive and at the same time the least protected, suffers most from the decline and decay of bourgeois society.”

How does the history of art in the last 100 years confirm this view?

What if anything does the history of modern art have to tell us about capitalism and the need for revolution?

Is revolutionary art still possible today?

 - the other is a discussion on Islam. The presenter (jaycee) has posted this outline on,libcom: 



I'm giving a presentation about Islam.

I thought I would put down some of the topics I will be looking at, feel free to give advice, ask questions and whatever else.

1. why should revolutionaries study Islam?

can it develop our understanding of religion generally?

2. What have revolutionaries said about Islams historical origins?
(I have mainly come across Marxist analysis here, if anyone knows of any Anarchist views I would be grateful to hear about them)

3. Muhammad and the role of the individual in history: Mad, mystic or Machiavellian?

4. What was the Islamic civilization?

how did it relate to Muhammad's ideas and practices and did Islam bring into being a new mode of production?

5. How should Revolutionaries relate to Muslim workers-


 - A short session at the end to discuss where to go next...all ideas welcome   




 Any reflections about Jaycee's questions about Islam? There is a terrible dearth of marxist analyses of Islam, especially those that avoid two symmetrical errors: mechanistic reductionism and 'synthesising' efforts to produce an Islamic socialism......

He also asked about anarchist analyses. Any hints?

We should be able to post (on our website) MH's contribution on art soon

Alf, Islam is a giant topic.

Alf, Islam is a giant topic. Certainly, an analysis of the Ottoman Empire would lead to a different set of conclusions than one of India under the Mughals or the Safavid Empire. I don't know what would be the best port of entry to such a huge topic--but perhaps the role of the Ottoman Empire in the formation of the modern capitalist world system would be one. The contrast between a multi-ethnic, multi-religious land-based empire and the territorially bounded "nation states" that emerged in Western Europe in the early modern period would seem to offer a fruitful route for understading how modern captialism differs from the historical dynamics that tended to characterize the Muslim world. These are of course broad-brush generalizations.

Given the way you look at it

Given the way you look at it jk, Islam is certainly a giant and encyclopedic topic, with a difficult port of entry. Even your broad-brush generalizations would save only a few of us from foundering on the rocks outside the harbor. (smiley face here) But it appears that Jaycee also shares much of your point of view, unless of course he is able in discussion to relate it more generally to the working class - specially that section of the class under the sway of Islam, Hinduism, Christianity and superstition in general - and the way the bourgeoisie uses Islam to confuse the class. Recently in Jakarta the bourgeoisie was able to generate an Islamic protest against a concert appearance of Lady Gaga who eventually cancelled her concert. This protest would have released steam better aimed at the removal of subsidies on oil and petrol, or general inflation on food as the rupiah starts to fall.

But very best wishes for the meeting. May many attend. May clarity rule the day.



Strikes, Social Revolts and Protests:
A (very sketchy and incomplete) timeline


This timeline, compiled by an ICC sympathiser, aims to inform the June 23 ICC Day of Discussion on the ‘social movements’ of the recent period and has the purpose of demonstrating that these upheavals against repression and austerity did not materialise ‘out of thin air’... 

1989: Collapse of the blocs (Soviet-Western); campaigns about death of ‘communism’; affirmation of liberal capitalism, era of peace and prosperity, ‘end of history’...   Inaugurates a severe retreat in class consciousness and combativity, according to the ICC.

2000-2001: ‘Popular revolts’ in Argentina, Bolivia: Divergent views in the proletarian milieu (ICC, IBRP, Nucelo, GCI) on the content of these - proletarian-led actions or the working class drowned in ‘popular revolts’?

2003: Simultaneous strikes in France and Austria on the issue of pensions (ie the future): pointers to an international recovery in proletariat confidence, combat and consciousness.

2004: Strikes by Daimler-Chrysler workers at Sindelfingen and Bremen: Significant class struggle in a significant country - Germany. Meanwhile in Holland: Amsterdam demo – biggest for 10 years. Signs of solidarity amongst workers in struggle...

2005:  ‘Riots’ in the banlieues of France. Negative affirmation of decomposing society. New York transit strike: positive affirmation of the future - the proletariat struggles to defend generations to come. Solidarity strikes at Heathrow Airport, UK. Argentine strike wave. Small struggles in Sweden. Seat strike, Spain.

2006: Successful struggle against CPE in France. Assemblies arise; attempts to politically and consciously control the movement: from ‘students’ to workers... Vigo, Spain: Metal workers strike. Street assemblies try to direct the struggle. Internationally: debates about the so-called ‘Commune of Oaxaca’, Mexico, and the state’s enveloping of the piqueteros movement in Argentina.

2007: Airbus and car worker’s strikes in France & Germany (In 2007, Germany sees the highest number of strike days since 1993 - just after reunification); widespread strikes in Egypt, Brazil, Argentina. Smaller strikes in Italy, Canada and Chile: ICC detects “Germs of the mass strike in Egypt...” Strikes in Tehran (Iran); Dubai building workers’ strikes; miners’ strikes, supported by students, in Peru.

ONSET OF THE ‘OPEN CRISIS’ (Bank ‘failures’)

2008: Price of wheat and soya doubles between spring 2007 and February 2008. Corn (mais) rose 66%, rice 75% during the past 10 months ... ‘Food riots’ and protests in Egypt, Burkina Faso, South Africa, Cameroon, Morocco Mozambique, Senegal, Ivory Coast, Mauritania, Yemen, Indonesia, India, Bangladesh, Thailand, Philippines, Mexico, Peru, Argentine, Honduras, Haiti... IMF, World Bank and G8 warn of a gigantic destabilisation and conflicts in almost 40 countries. Algerian civil service workers’ strikes; Veneuzelan oilworkers strikes and student assemblies crushed by ‘Chavismo’; telecom workers’ defensive strikes begin in Turkey. ... Important workers’ strikes in Iran and Vietnam, Rumania and Poland...

Then, in Greece: The December outbreak of open rebellion by students, workers and the unemployed all over Greece following a police murder... was preceded or accompanied by other revolts by young people in Italy, France, Germany, Lithuania and elsewhere. One of the clearest signs that these were indeed movements of the working class and not a series of headless riots was the tendency towards self-organisation which they brought to the surface. In Greece, where the official trade union organisation, the GSEE, openly sided with the regime against the protestors, ‘insurgent workers' occupied the union HQ in Athens and turned it into a centre for holding general assemblies open to all students, workers, and unemployed.” (World Revolution 321, February 2010)

2009:  May: In Narayanganj, Bangladesh, 20,000 workers who had not been paid for months, exploded in anger, ransacked dozens of textile factories and went on to put their lives in danger by confronting the army. China, in the towns of Daqing and Liaoyang, at the heart of the industrial basin of Manchuria, tens of thousands of workers who had recently lost their jobs came onto the streets from March. According to surveillance agencies based in Hong Kong, 58,000 "mass incidents" (strikes, demonstrations) happened in China during the course of the first three months of this year. "If this tendency continues throughout the year, 2009 will beat all preceding records with more than 230,000 of these ‘mass incidents', compared to 120,000 in 2008 and 97,000 in 2006". Please note: struggles in Asia totally underepresented here....


 In Spain at the end of April, metal workers at Vigo take up their struggle again. In Britain ... workers at the Lindsey refinery were at the heart of a wave of wildcat strikes. This struggle, at its beginning, was held back by the weight of nationalism, symbolised by the slogan "British jobs for British workers". ... However, the bourgeoisie suddenly put an end to this strike when banners begun to appear calling on Portuguese and Italian workers to join the struggle, affirming "Workers of the World, Unite!", and when construction workers from Poland joined in wildcat strikes in Plymouth.


2010: The strikes and demonstrations of September, October and November in France, which took place following an attack on pensions, demonstrated a real fighting spirit ... even if they didn’t succeed in pushing back the attacks of the bourgeoisie. “This movement is taking place in the context of a renewed dynamic of our class as it gradually returns to the path of struggle internationally, following a course marked in 2009 and 2010 by the revolt of new generations of proletarians fighting poverty in Greece and by the determination of the Tekel workers in Turkey to extend their struggle against the sabotage of the unions.” (ICC Online) Thus, students have mobilised in large numbers against the unemployment and job insecurity that capitalism has in store for them, as in Great Britain, Italy or the Netherlands. In the United States, despite being confined by the union straitjacket, several major strikes have broken out in various parts of the country since Spring 2010 in opposition to attacks: education workers in California, nurses in Philadelphia and Minneapolis-St-Louis, construction workers in Chicago, workers in the food industry in New York State, teachers in Illinois, workers at Boeing and in a Coca-Cola plant in Bellevue (Washington state), and dockers in New Jersey and Philadelphia. In Concepcion, southern Chile, workers self-organise following an earthquake... Shipyard workers and unemployed organise together in Vigo, Spain where public sector workers also strike. 40,000 people protest outside the Danish parliament against spending cuts... UK universities occupied in protest at cuts in student funding. The same issue brings thousands onto the streets in Italy... Union controlled general strike in Portugal...

‘Arab Spring’ starts in December

In the Maghreb, and particularly in Tunisia, workers’ anger that has built up over decades spread like wildfire after 17thDecember when a young unemployed graduate set himself on fire in public after the fruit and vegetable stall that was his livelihood, was confiscated by the municipal police of Sidi Bouzid in the centre of Tunisia. “Spontaneous demonstrations of solidarity spread throughout the country, where the population faces high unemployment and sharp increases in prices of basic foodstuffs. A fierce and brutal repression of this social movement led to dozens being killed, with police firing live ammunition at unarmed demonstrators. This only strengthened the outrage and resolve of the proletariat, firstly to demand work, bread and a little dignity and then the departure of President Ben Ali. ‘We are no longer afraid’, chanted the demonstrators in Tunisia. The children of proletarians took the lead and used the Internet or their mobile phones not only as weapons to broadcast and denounce the repression and to exchange information between themselves, but also to communicate with their family or friends outside the country, particularly in Europe, thus partially breaking the conspiracy of silence of all the bourgeoisies and their media. Everywhere our exploiters have tried to hide the class nature of this social movement, seeking to distort it by sometimes showing it to be like the riots that occurred in France in 2005 or as the work of vandals and looters, or sometimes presenting it as a “heroic and patriotic struggle of the Tunisian people” for “democracy” led by educated graduates and the “middle classes”. (ICC Online)

2011: “For several months, protest movements, unprecedented in their geographic spread, have been shaking a whole series of countries. The initial revolts in the Mahgreb were rapidly emulated over the next few weeks, with demonstrations in Jordan, Yemen, Bahrain, Iran, Sub-Saharan Africa etc. It is impossible to make a strict identity between all these movements, both in terms of their class content and of the response of the bourgeoisie, but a common factor is the economic crisis...

“The working class has not yet presented itself in these events as an autonomous force capable of assuming the leadership of the movements, which have often taken the form of revolts by the whole non-exploiting population, from ruined peasants to middle strata on the road to proletarianisation. But, on the one hand, the influence of the working class on the consciousness expressed in these movements has been tangible, both in the slogans and the forms of organisation they have thrown up. A tendency towards self-organisation, for example, appeared in the neighbourhood protection committees set up in Egypt and Tunisia to face up to police repression and the bands of thugs cynically released from prison to sow chaos. Above all, many of these revolts openly sought to widen the movement through mass demonstrations, assemblies and attempts to coordinate and centralise decision-making. At the same time, the working class sometimes played a decisive role in the way events unfolded. It was in Egypt, where the working class is the most concentrated and experienced in the region, that workers’ strikes were the most massive. Their rapid extension and the rejection of control by the official unions played a major role in pushing the military leaders, under pressure from the USA, to get rid of Hosni Mubarak.   Mobilisations are continuing and the wind of revolt is blowing through other countries; the bourgeoisie is having a difficult time putting a stop to it all... (International Review 145, 2nd Quarter, 2011, my emphasis)

In India, “The years 2010 and 2011 have seen numerous strikes in many sectors, including in auto hubs at Gurgaon and Chennai. Some of these struggles, as the strikes by Honda Motor Cycle workers in 2010 and Maruti Suzuki workers in 2011, had shown great militancy and determination to confront the security apparatus of the bosses. This has also been the characteristic of strikes in Hyundai Motors in Chennai, where workers struck work several time against casualisation and other attacks of the bosses. These strikes showed strong tendencies toward solidarity and spread across factories. They also expressed tendencies toward self-organization and setting up general assemblies, as seen in strikes by the Maruti workers who occupied the factory against the advice of ‘their’ union (World Revolution, March 2012)

 March: Libya: ‘Popular uprising’ buried by inter-bourgeois faction fights – imperialism is to unleash war. A similar prospect envelops the protest movement in Syria. In Barhrain protests crushed by US, Saudi and GB.

May: Renewed struggles in Greece: meetings, street assemblies. Beginning of the Indignados demonstrations (known as 15M after the first demo on May 15), street occupations and assemblies in Spain, the most powerful of the burgeoning European ‘occupy’ movements which are consciously inspired by and link themselves to events in Tunisia and Egypt.  Despite a media blackout of the Spanish events, Occupy movements are to appear in GB, Switzerland, Germany...

July: “In Israel over the last three weeks, hundreds of thousands have taken to the streets to protest against the dizzying cost of living, the growing impossibility for the average person to afford accommodation, the dismantling of welfare services. The demonstrators are calling for “social justice”, but many are also talking about “revolution”. They make no secret of the fact that they have been inspired by the wave of revolts in the Arab world, now spread to Spain and Greece. Israel’s premier Netanyahu, whose brazenly right wing policies appeared to have had gained a popular following, is suddenly being compared to the dictators of Egypt (Mubarak, now facing trial for gunning down protesters) and Syria (Assad, now ordering atrocious massacres against a population increasingly exasperated with his regime). Like the movements in the Arab world and Europe, the demonstrations and tent cities now springing up in numerous towns in Israel, but Tel Aviv in particular, seem to have come out of nowhere: messages on Facebook, a few people pitching tents in town squares... and from this, on one weekend there have been between 50,000 and 150,000 marching in Tel Aviv, (with more than 200,000 on the most recent Saturday) and perhaps three or four times that number have been involved in the country as a whole, the majority of them young.! (ICC Online, August). Jew and Arab protest together. The movement is unprecedented in the history of the modern Israeli state. In Spain, Indignados ‘occupy’ the capital, Madrid, “revealing a movement of great depth” (ICC)


August: Riots in GB cities. Struggle of electricians strains union control for the rest of the year. The electricians try to link up with student demonstrations and occupy movements in GB. Police murder of a student in Chile sparks mass protests against the state. Solidarity protests arise in San Francisco... 

September: New strike wave in Egypt. Occupy Wall Street movement begins in New York. Spread to hundreds of US cities, mobilizing tens of thousands, ‘the 99%’, in assemblies and street protests. Posters and placards link the protest to others worldwide...

November: Occupy Oakland (San Francisco/western seaboard of the US) General Assembly calls for a general strike. “This is a significant development in the ‘Occupy’ movement in the US, which while generally critical of ‘capitalism’ has also been hampered by a very confused view of what capitalism is, and in particular about the only way to oppose it: through the class struggle. But this appeal, coming after a number of very bitter experiences of police repression, marks a real step forward in that it is a direct call to the local working class to support the movement through striking. The response to the call by the GA was very impressive..., (ICC Online) General strike, Portugal.

2012: In January a six day general strike in Nigeria was one of the most extensive social movements ever to hit the country. Only 7 million are in unions but up to 10 million took part in the strike, right across Nigeria, with demonstrations in every major city involving tens of thousands overall. The strike was part of a protest against the abolition of fuel subsidies which overnight doubled the cost of not only petrol but also had a similarly massive impact on food, heating and transportation costs. In a country with high unemployment (40% of under forties) and high poverty levels (70% existing on less than $2 a day) the outburst of anger was to be expected.

February: Up to 100 million workers – perhaps the world’s largest-ever strike – called out by unions in India to exercise control and derail growing unrest.


March/April: Wildcat strikes in the Canadian aviation industry: Quebec Occupy and student protestors clash with police. But in most places, the Occupy and 15M movements are over... In their place, occupation of hospitals, factories, in Greece; occupation of homes and empty properties, Spain – struggles of immediate necessity. Plus continuing reflection, a drawing of lessons...



text on art
KT, the outline looks good,

KT, the outline looks good, although it seems to miss the Chicago factory occupation and the Wisconsin mobilization in the U.S. Also, there isn't much in there about the ideological offensives lauched in the wake of the 2008 crisis about democracy, captialism with a human face, splitting financial capitalism from the rest of the system, etc., which have themselves been  major impediments to struggle as much as the continuing campaigns about the death of communism, etc.

Sins of Omission


Thanks JK. You’re right about the omissions (by no means the only ones – for instance, this year alone, the March 29 General Strike in Spain or the well-publicised on-going miners’ strikes there, or the public sector strikes in Germany). Hopefully these –particularly the obstacles to struggle and the campaigns and illusions you mention and that relate to the 2011 events specifically – will be taken up on the day. The timeline is forwarded more as ‘background’, particularly in the hope that the meeting may attract people less familiar with the ebb and flow of recent proletarian movements than revolutionaries or their close sympathisers.  That’s no reason to omit important events though!

Hope it was an enjoyable and

Hope it was an enjoyable and productive day for all. Now I wish I had not gone to a John Cooper Clarke gig on the same day (bought tickets in advance) which was mediocre at best. 

day of discussion


Sorry to say you missed a very good day. It was well attended (over 20 outside the ICC, and three other groups represented: CWO, SPGB and Commune). The discussions were very animated and each one could have gone on a lot longer. We will put together a report including all the presentations and a synthesis of the discussions, and if the recording came out well enough we will publish that as well.

Look forward to it!

Look forward to it!