Why is it so difficult to struggle, and how can we overcome these difficulties?

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mhou
I share your frustrations on

I share your frustrations on finding the border between 'activism' and 'practical activity'. I'm much closer to the Bordigists as of late regarding when the party should be formed and how it operates- my reading of the history of the communist left is that its mission was 1) the preservation of the knowledge and experience of the most comprehensive revolutionary crisis since the beginning of capitalism, and 2) developing that work until such time that the class is back on the offensive with the formation of the new party (which would act as the party up to the time of the next revolutionary crisis when it could carry out the function as a leader, the 'vangaurd', agitating for socialism). I'm of the opinion now that the 3rd International was too late; that the example of the Bolsheviks vs Spartakus shows that the communist minority has the task of forming the party before the revolutionary crisis rather than during the crisis (at the moment the party is needed in the historical sense- to carry out the task of concrete steps towards socialism). Bordiga's two papers Party & Class, and Party & Class Action, spell out what he thought communists should be doing, during a revolutionary crisis, and when in non-revolutionary times.

 

As far as Marxism being a science, I don't really know and wouldn't know how to begin trying to figure that out. I find it a useful tool to understand whats going on- same for the theoretical work by the communist left (and groups descending from or close to it in different ways). Is psychoanalysis a science? I think so. I'm not sure how else you qualify, in material terms, without becoming determinist and mechanical, how to explain phenomenon like consciousness, class or otherwise. The tendency for the rate of profit to fall and its relation to crisis- a subterranean economic phenomenon that can be quantified with data, facts and figures. I'd estimate that creating tools to understand unseen phenomenon makes Marxism a science- in that instance, the F.R.O.P., it's much easier to grasp it, physically, that what Marx and Engels said was happening is happening- unfortunately ephemeral, untangible things can't be demonstrated in the same matter of fact way. Same with the conception of history- how the nascent bourgeoisie developed within feudalism before 'breaking out'. To me personally it wouldn't make much of a difference if it's a science or not- either it aids understanding or it doesn't; diamat and histomat in the fSU tried to turn Marxism into an empirical science, it didn't have the same dynamic to it.

mikail firtinaci
a question to mhou

I'm of the opinion now that the 3rd International was too late; that the example of the Bolsheviks vs Spartakus shows that the communist minority has the task of forming the party before the revolutionary crisis rather than during the crisis (at the moment the party is needed in the historical sense- to carry out the task of concrete steps towards socialism).

So what should be done to build the party in your opinion?

mhou
Quote:So what should be done

Quote:
So what should be done to build the party in your opinion?

You can take the following as just stream of consciousness of an interloper; I don't represent anything, it's not a declaration.

I think any effort would have to include a statement of purpose, by some communist entity, for a new series of conferences for the purpose of establishing the party rather than a pre-party or regroupment formation. Divergences exist; whether on Luxemburg's economic schema's of the Accumulation of Capital, the nature of the post-war economic boom, the use of internationalist territorial and workplace groups, communisation, etc. And there may be no way to accommodate every political tendency and group in existence; some rather like having a small, niche group. Recently Internationalist Perspectives wrote about their relationship to the communist left, calling for a 'renaissance of Marxism', something I agree with, but personally I don't see this happening as fruitfully as it potentially could, outside of the party. Mainly because the organic unity necessary for the communist party to carry out its historic function during a revolutionary crisis requires divergences to be discussed, debated, polemicized, under the roof of the party; all groups seem to have internal debates and discussions, whereas if these were all carried out within the framework of the party form, it develops both the theory and practice of Marxism, and the understanding of individual militants. Even if there are minority tendencies on diverse issues like communisation theory, value theory, etc. I think this process is what is valuable, leads to a wider conception of Marxism leading to a kind of 'renaissance' and would lead to the creation of a new center of gravity for the wider anti-capitalist movement and for the working-class- even though we are by far a small minority, thats what we expect. But a larger minority, a better organized and more developed minority, and more importantly an internationally centralized minority. Plus it would answer decisively 'well what do left communists do?', not just for the benefit of spectators, but also individual communists who need a better understanding of their relation to other communists, and the border between action and activism/voluntarism.

I wrote quite a bit more, but it was too lengthy. The above is a rough sketch of how I've been thinking about it lately; about the same questions as mikail wrote about here:

Quote:
Today there is neither a real CP nor Comintern. I think it is time to go on to offense. There is no more any need for fractions. Because the whole that fraction belongs is not there any more. And the fractional attitude of groups like Bilan are not necessary let elone practically sensible.
lem_
my apoliges if my post didn't

my apoliges if my post didn't make any sense, i just took an opportunity to ask a couple of questions and frame my opinion on the topic in general. i guess i'm not part of this conversation :) !

mhou
I thought you made good

I thought you made good points in your last post lem_ ;  jk responded. There's a bunch of topics and co-mingling discussion. You're as much a part of the conversation as everyone else- just jump in. Being non-linear seems pretty productive overall.

Quote:
The eventual aim is to go much more deeply into what a communist programme would look like in the conditions we can expect in a future revolution, based on this examination of the lessons of the past. This project would be greatly strengthened if it was the product of a wider and more collective discussion.

That sounds interesting; discerning what actually can be considered 'invariant' in the Marxist program, etc.

petey
nihcom

ILA positions:

http://www.ilaunion.org/news_Positive_Agreement.html

http://www.ilaunion.org/news_Contract_Issues.html

i make no cae for or against this, only posting it for reference as it's been a topic above.

mhou wrote:

The argument in Nihcom about class consciousness is summed up in one sentence in the book:

"All political consciousness is bourgeois"

i must read this book.

mhou
jk - Do you think the

jk - Do you think the communist minority has a role in non-revolutionary times of effecting class consciousness?

For what SMC doesn't explain; I think it only creates a framework to understand how, in some specific industries or regions, a group of workers is far ahead of the rest of the class; right now it'd be examples like the Honda factory workers in China (who, over time and numerous struggles, has developed a recallable worker-delegate system, factory committee's, they are openly outside and against the trade unions, etc.), textile workers in Mahalla (who have seemingly reformed the neighborhood council type body, declared themselves independent of the Morsi state, have repeatedly gone out on cross-sector strikes, etc.) and similarly advanced groups of workers. A means to understand how advanced forms and/or content of struggle develops.

It's not a predictive tool- we can't use it to predict whether or not the next upheaval in the Honda factories will move forward, or end up being recuperated by 'independent free trade union' or democratization type demands (highly unlikely but possible) the way they were in Poland after 1980.

It's not a means to gauge "revolutionary consciousness." Even though groups of workers take on advanced forms of struggle, and have class conscious content (against the trade unions, against the state), we can't predict, gauge or analyize how close or how far they are from revolutionary consciousness- from taking steps that result in the next revolutionary wave.

Those are 2 things that come to mind immediately that it doesn't do, for me anyway. I don't know how far reaching others think it goes.

jk1921
A little bit

mhou wrote:

jk - Do you think the communist minority has a role in non-revolutionary times of effecting class consciousness?

Only a very minute role in the sense of regrouping a tiny minority who have already been won to Marxist revolutionary positions or who are in the process of developing them--the so-called "searching elements" as the ICC likes to put it. Of course, the main task facing this minority right now would appear to be transmitting the acquisitions of the past to a new generation of militants, something with which there has not been a great amount of success so far. (There is an article about this on the French page that should probably be translated).

The question I have is if there is some kind of relationship between the size of revolutionary organizations and the level of subterreanean class consciounsess? Does a larger communist minority necessarily mean that the working class is developing its consciousness subterreaneanly? Does a smaller minority mean there has been some kind of set back? What does it mean that despite an "uptick" in struggle the revolutionary minorities remain very small--unable to "be in every struggle" as mikhail would like? Is this meaningful at all?

I think one thing that should be considerded in the context of the sociological theories regarding the deconstruction of the working class  is the possibility that this also has a deleterious effect on the conditions of militant commitment itself. Perhaps it just isn't as easy for people to devote their lives to politics in the way that the generation of '68 was able to. Not that is was particularly easy then--but perhaps the organization in the way the ICC conceives it is itself a product of late fordism, the sociological conditions for which are simply no longer present?

I think this has been a very evocative discussion so far. However, perhaps it has been limited by the context of taking place on the internet discussion forum? There have already been many texts devoted to the topic of SMC for example. The ICC has already engaged in debate regarding this idea with the CWO/IBRP/ICT and Internationalist Perspectives. There is already a rich context that we probably haven't done justice to here. The point I am making is that perhaps this discussion would be best continued in a more focused way, with some advanced preparation, etc. Might the ICC even consider putting it on the agenda for its next Congress? The discussion of women and the origins of human culture is very interesting, but the issues under discussion here seem to be much more pressing.

mhou
It's an interesting question

It's an interesting question regarding the size of the pro-revolutionary minority- I think if it's looked at in the larger context of all nominally revolutionary organizations, like that following 1968, there is a sort of link between growing class consciousness and a more numerically developed communist minority. Even the NYTimes wrote an article about the increase in membership across obstensibly revolutionary groups (following the onset of the latest crisis; I think the article was from 2010), claiming that the SPUSA membership tripled and the CPUSA membership grew by 1/3. According to their own figures, the IWW has grown 4x+ larger since 2008. Unfortunately I think a lot of 'searching elements' are initially drawn into the orbit of such groups: but could be won over to revolutionary communist positions. The IWW has a history of absorbing a lot of the most advanced (and particularly young) workers- something they seem to be doing now especially since the crisis. I think some of the original articles on SMC tie the development of pro-revolutionaries/the communist minority to a rising class consciousness (thinking specifically of the 'Reply to the CWO' article).

I just started reading Issue 1 of the journal Sic, which has a collection of work by the communisation milieu. It describes pretty clearly the post-Fordist change in the working-class; that the Gramsci style vision of working-class hegemony or the 'classical workers movement' is dead: though in the long run I'd say this is a good thing. Arguments made by the Situ's, Dupont, and the communisation tendencies, is that communism is not a movement; May Day parades, black bloc actions, leafleting strikes, support marches for all manner of lefty causes, etc. what leftists see as 'the movement' is not related to the working-class revolution. Expelling masses of proletarians from the productive industries in the West and into service related industries, the formal/real subsumption, etc. may be the death of the trade union-left party complex and attempts to 'build the new society in the shell of the old', but that does make it less likely that a future revolutionary crisis will be built with rather than against the unions and socialist parties as it was after WWI, or the unions-pseudo opposition CP's during the 1968-1973 era.

I agree that we could all be doing something different in these times (something Mikail and I got into a bit). What do you think would be the best form of organization to have at the present, or what organizational initiatives do you think could be more fruitful in the present and moving forward?

jk1921
don't know

mhou wrote:

I agree that we could all be doing something different in these times (something Mikail and I got into a bit). What do you think would be the best form of organization to have at the present, or what organizational initiatives do you think could be more fruitful in the present and moving forward?

 

I really don't know. The younger generations who have come forward in recent years sure do seem to think something different is necessary, but I have no idea what it might be. SMC would seem to suggest that we really can't do much in a voluntaristic fashion, we kind of need to wait for social conditions to open the door, something we just don't have at the moment. This of course raises the issue of councilism. The ICC, at one point many years ago, thought that councilism was a greater danger to the working class than substituionism precisely because it led to the destruction of the organization. The ICC counterposed SMC to councilism's tendency to see workers' consciousness as an immediate reflection of their momentary actions. I don't know about that--SMC seems perfectly compatible with councilism--in fact, in my view councilism may even be the logical outcome of it on some level. There are other ways to conceive it of course--Lenin believed in SMC, only he felt it had a limit in trade union consciousness.

On whether or not there is a movement--that's an interesting take from the Sic people. But if there is no movement there seems to be nowhere from which consciousness can emerge. I think it depends on how you conceptualize a movement--in some kind of linear fashion, in which progress can be seen and measured out in the open (the so-called "old workers movement" of unions and electoral parties) or as a subterreanean movement that breaks out in fits and starts, but nevertheless has some kind of underlying direction. In the first instance, there is no "epistemological problem"--you can generally gauge how the movement is progressing by looking at such empirical things as election returns, union membership numbers, number of strikes, etc. In the latter however, these measures just don't work. Still, its not clear to me that we really have a satisfactory answer to this epistemological problem inherent in SMC in its non-Leninist version just yet. This is the key issue for me.

Fred
Quote: ...Lenin believed in

Quote:
...Lenin believed in SMC, only he felt it had a limit in trade union consciousness.

Surely this is not true of Lenin in 1917 when he grasps what the class has achieved in creating Soviets and declares "All power to the Soviets." And that he and other Bolshevik leaders were unable to persist and work with this insight was not altogether their fault.

About the young, as on Red Marx. They are maddening. Yes. But I suspect they can't believe their eyes, or their consciousness in this case.They are a bit like Doubting Thomas and until the class really rises up somewhere in dramatic fashion, will not indulge in the sort of full-disclosure we'd like to see. It's a bit like coming out as queer: not everyone wants to do it now. But that doesn't mean it isn't there. Sociology don't come into it all that much. It's a question of confidence. That's all.

mhou
Though it could easily lead

Though it could easily lead to the opposite conclusion: if we are the collective response, an organic secretion of the class, that could be carte blanche to engage in any and all acts- in which case it would cease to be voluntarism because we are simply a part of the SMC. There was a discussion on Libcom about whether or not organization is necessary- if I recall right it was a councilist type minded person arguing that all organizations of militants, the communist minority, is counter-revolutionary. Someone responded that the large influence of the classical worker's movement in May 1968 (the large unions and federations, the socialists, the large Communist 'opposition', etc.)may have made a difference; the conclusion you could draw from that is equally dangerous, and would also be a problem in this 'post-Fordist' era if that kind of hegemonic or counter-hegemony 'movement' is indeed where consciousness either comes from or finds a way to positively influence a great many workers. My problem with the conclusions of the communisation proponents is first and foremost the huge gap in their outlook/theories for the communist minority- they, like Dupont and the Situationists, all argue that pro-revolutionaries have a role to play during the next revolutionary crisis- but do not have any idea of how we would play that role internationally.

I guess the value of SMC depends on how you view consciousness, class consciousness, and revolutionary consciousness. I still think we're better off now that the Gramscian vision, the classical worker's movement, is nearly dead. If one has the same view as Lenin or Kautsky, then it is indeed a problem; however, I don't (I don't think the ICC do either if I remember correctly) view class consciousness as something from 'outside' being injected or introduced to the working-class. The groups that wrote for Sic do seem to have it right that the proletarian condition has become generalized, while greater numbers ofworkers are forced out of value producing industries in the central countries, due to this restructuring. But their response to these changes seem to go too far- as in only conceiving of political power as state power, or the transitional society as something that exists alongside capital for decades, etc. There seems to be a general grasping that things are different but not much in the way of whether its so different that fundamental Marxist concepts need to be changed or abandoned (Bordiga's conception of the party seems more realistic now, in 'modern capitalism'-terminal decline of the workers movement, than when he was alive).

You're right that it can be used as a tool of councilism, or the kind of adventurism Trotsky wanted in his 4th International, but I don't know if there is an 'epistemological problem'; in the sense of Trotskyists and some variants of anarchists today, an increase in anti-capitalist demonstrations or the greater anti-capitalist movement, the number of members of anarchist or socialist groups in general, even electoral results (for the Trots) can show that in their vision their 'movement' is progressing linearly since the crisis- everything from left-wing governments being elected in parts of the world, the rise of Syriza, OWS, etc. are that kind of 'empirical' proof that the 'movement' is getting bigger. But from the other perspective, much of that are setbacks, whereas the 'proof' of class conscious development is an uptick in the size and number of strikes, examples where previously union-compliant workers go against the union, where the embryonic forms of class organs develop (mandated worker-delegates, workplace committee's), extra-parliamentary forms of protest and resistance that in some cases go beyond the original protests reformist demands and move onto class terrain. It's not entirely empirical, but does that mean a break necessarily rather than just a different or a shift in the general perspective of the same events as measurements or 'temperature readings'?

Sorry if this comes out tangential or rambling, responding from work.

mikail firtinaci
to be fair to Lenin

to be fair to Lenin and also Kautsky's idea on the injection of class consciousness from outside to the class... I agree with Lih that what they meant was not that workers could only have a syndical consciousness. At the time Kautksy wrote, the period when socialism was an intellectual hobby or lifestyle communalism (icaria etc) that still did not merge with the workers movement was not such a distant past. Certain socialists in US in early 1800s even thought that workers were too violent and ignorant to grasp the value of socialism (!) In fact the first shift in the workers' mood  towards socialism was hardly socialist. Proudhonism was patriarchal, nationalistic and quite petty-bourgeois.

So the idea (of Kautsky which was not new) was, the unity of socialism with the workers' movement could have come through the class suicide of the bourgeois intellectuals and merging with the workers, giving them "the good news" that their struggle has the scientifically provable (!) potential to bring down the system. Personally I don't see much problem in it. In 19th century context there was neither that much proletarian intellectuals as today, nor the bourgeoisie was the highest social status everywhere in Europe.

ICC does not say that the 19th century or the Bolshevik revolutionaries' mentality was wrong, like the councilists say. It simply says that the period of propaganda or education through propaganda has passed (I forgot which article that was). I feel (I am not sure) that this is dissmissive of the question. Like the SMC, it is delaying the vital question of program and how you can defend it to a distant future when party will come.

So party in ICCs conception resembles such a crystal reflection of consciousness that, it can only be created when the working class feels a deep and solid confidence in its own action massively. But here the vicious circle is starting to rowl; If the party is coming out of the confidence and strength where then the strength comes without a prior clarity of perspective about the goals?

You can only be confident if you have a grasp of your chances and the knowledge of the potential to victory. And this perspective and knowledge, just like the actual struggle itself, only develop gradually through ups and downs - Look at Bolsheviks or Marx and Engels themselves. They made huge mistakes in every turn. But they were always inside the struggles or if otherwise, they quickly wanted to enter it. This is where I see the merit of Kautsky's theory; methaporically speaking socialism and workers movement looks to me like two parallel but not immediately overlaping lines and it is partially up to the communists to make them come together.

jk1921
Interesting

mikail firtinaci wrote:

methaporically speaking socialism and workers movement looks to me like two parallel but not immediately overlaping lines and it is partially up to the communists to make them come together.

Interesting point. Of course, I expect the ICC would say that it is only when the proletariat takes up socialism that it becomes practical and scientific. However, I am still unclear as to how you envision "communists making them come together."

Alf
construction

Mikhail: the party will not "come". We are building it now, as a political movement made up of a minority within a minority. A movement that is still profoundly dispersed, and yet which as mhou notes is far more numerous and aware of itself today than it was even a decade ago, certainly compared to two decades ago; and if this dispersal can be reduced, if we can overcome our divisions, if we can really understand what it means to engage in associated work, this will be an enormous step towards the new International. I refer to divisions both within the communist left and between the communist left and other revolutionary currents and organisations. This is not just a question of the addition of existing forces; the example of unification leads to multiplication. 

Mikhail also asks whether our position means that the party can only be created "when the working class feels a deep and solid confidence in its own action massively".

"Massively" perhaps, in comparison to today, but by no means universally. Even a mass strike rarely encompasses an actual majority of the working class. The process of coming to consciousness always takes the form of the appearance of more conscious, and more or less organised, minorities

The party will express an increase in confidence within the class, but this is still an increase whose implications and possibilities are only grasped among this minority, which, if its consistent, will understand that its responsibility is to combat the lack of confidence which continues to weigh on wider strata of the class. 

mhou
The problem of assimilation

The problem of assimilation seems pretty high when assessing the move to form the next International. You articulated what I was trying to get at much better than I could:

Quote:
if this dispersal can be reduced, if we can overcome our divisions, if we can really understand what it means to engage in associated work, this will be an enormous step towards the new International. I refer to divisions both within the communist left and between the communist left and other revolutionary currents and organisations. This is not just a question of the addition of existing forces; the example of unification leads to multiplication.

That last part- growth experienced by bringing in currently un-aligned communists (due to the weight and scale of such an undertaking) should be far easier than the former part- how to integrate the work of existing organizations (some with histories going back many decades) and longtime members of said organizations into cohesive and functioning local portions of the international party. That seems to be a major stumbling block from the outside looking in. Though if our collective task is to create the level of unity necessary to perform the historic function of the party during the next revolutionary crisis, you'd think the unity necessary to agree to form said party would be easier by comparison.

Quote:
So party in ICCs conception resembles such a crystal reflection of consciousness that, it can only be created when the working class feels a deep and solid confidence in its own action massively. But here the vicious circle is starting to rowl; If the party is coming out of the confidence and strength where then the strength comes without a prior clarity of perspective about the goals?

It seems that the impasse faced by all workers in this era is where it comes from; and tools like SMC help us judge or 'read' where the class is. It seems that since restructuring, not only capital's inability to grant reforms but its use of massive repression against those that seek reformist demands accelerates this process; and if the party is meant to be re-founded during a time when the proletariat is tipping the balance of forces and on the move toward greater confrontation between classes and the state, then we're in such a period- and it'd be the task of communists to carry this out.

mikail firtinaci
I agree but how?

Alf wrote:

 if this dispersal can be reduced, if we can overcome our divisions, if we can really understand what it means to engage in associated work, this will be an enormous step towards the new International. I refer to divisions both within the communist left and between the communist left and other revolutionary currents and organisations.

I totally agree with this. Ok then let's do it. But how?

 

mikail firtinaci
I am not sure

IHowever, I am still unclear as to how you envision "communists making them come together."

I am not sure either. An effort to clarify a program might be a good start. Thinking ways of overcoming the isolation and urging the communists for unity is also important. Third, it requires seriously starting to think about how we can really, in a not so distant future, bring down the state. The pure case of the origins of this mentality is in Blanqui for instance. Obviously he could not concieve that workers must lead this process. So his voluntarism is clearly absurd. However, his way of conceiving the question of power has its merits. He never considered it in a "negative" sense, as Nietzsche would call in a "slave mentality." He was not condemning the establishment for its moral failings. The goal of the society of seasons was to really overthrow this system so their approach was to look for its failings, its weak points, the correct timing, strategy, tactics etc to bring the status quo down.

Similarly, Lenin also always considered the question of power as something that can and must be grasped. Again, he had problems about the question how, at least before 1917. However he was not as simplistic as blanqui was . He understood that the question was not merely taking the power but also destroying the state (state and revolution). Still, what I am trying to point out is that he and the bolsheviks thought seriously about the ways on bringing down the state. So for example when bolsheviks talked about democracy (in a positive manner) they were not talking about it in a moralising sense, from a point of weakness similar to liberal anti-statism aiming solely to weaken the state. They were rather focusing on bringing down the state.

German leftists also, when they were criticising the implementation of the Bolshevik tactics to europe - as I tried to say above - it was not for a defensive criticism, a criticism directed against some "bolshevik authoritarianism". German LCs simply thought that those tactics would not bring down the state so they thought the bolshevik tactics were not practical. I think that is why the Amsterdam bureau of Comintern (led by the future leftists in 1919-20 and charged with the role of finding the western european/us CPs) was so confused about the motives of Moscow in imposing its tactics on Europe. They did not called it outright betrayal. They wavered between "lack of knw of Bolsheviks" to "they are attempting to secure Russian revolution" kind of explanations.

That kind of a mentality, focusing on power and thinking the class struggle in a strategic sense (and not in a moral sense) is something shared by all the above tendencies otherwise wide apart. And all represented currents which existed, to some degree, in periods when workers were on the offensive (Blanqui 1830-1848 and again in 1860-1970, Bolsheviks 1905, 1917, German LC 1918). All saw important revolutions and all at least tried to affect their directions towards socialism.

 

mhou
I don't think 'bringing down

I don't think 'bringing down the state' is necessarily a concern- that's something that will likely happen without communist intervention: Russia 1917 brought down the Tsar, 1968 brought down de Gaulle, 2011-2012 see saw a number of regimes toppled; and in the interim plenty of instances where the state had lost control or seemed to dissolve against popular power. We'd likely be ancilary to this process- by arguing the case for communist positions actively in the workers organs (committee's, council's, etc.) it would contribute to the movement that would make the bourgeoisie without a power base in workplaces and the state and administrations/regimes without a power base in the monopoly of arms (and thus dissolve state power). I guess this gets us more into what we think the role of the communist minority is, pre and post revolutionary crisis.

I do agree that the formation of the program is a more immediate concern; and something that goes along with the movement to form the next International (and would require participation from all corners of the pro-revolutionary, communist camp).

Fred
What does "formation of the

What does "formation of the program" actually mean? Can someone please give an example?

jk1921
Platform? Program?

Fred wrote:
What does "formation of the program" actually mean? Can someone please give an example?

Doesn't the ICC already have a platform? Is that distinct from the program?

Alf
programme of the party...

Generally the term programme has two applications in the movement: the more general notion of the communist programme as the dictatorship of the proletariat and the abolition of wage labour. But I think we are talking about its more specific meaning here: the precise measures that the party proposes should be implemented by the proletarian power. Examples we have looked at in our series on communism (volume two) include the programme of the KPD (IR 93), the Bolshevik progamme of 1919 (IR 95) and the programme of the KAPD (IR 97) https://en.internationalism.org/booktree/2146.

We can certainly discuss what this programme should like in a future revolution but it would be premature to propose it to a class which is far from posing the question of power

 

mhou
Do you think a common

Do you think a common platform is necessary to have that discussion within the wider communist milieu?

jk1921
Practical/

Alf wrote:

We can certainly discuss what this programme should like in a future revolution but it would be premature to propose it to a class which is far from posing the question of power

I agree with you Alf, but there may be an imprecision here. Is it premature to pose it to the class, because the class is not ready (possibly meaning that we know what the programme would be already) OR is it that it is premature to pose something that we do not yet understand ourselves, because the concrete needs of the struggle have not posed them yet? We can always offer a general outline of this transitional programme, but isn't that already contained in the various platforms of the milieu? Getting specific seems to require that the proletariat actually reach a certain level of consciousness, struggle, etc. where the programme becomes (as mikhail puts it) a practical consideration. But it seems then we are right back in the morass of "hurry up and wait."

Alf
both

It's both - the mass of the class isn't thinking in terms of destroying capital and creating a new society, and the communists still only have a very general idea of the form of a proletarian power in modern conditions and the measures needed to advance towards communist production.

on mhou's question: I don't think a common platform is a necessary basis for a discussion. It's more the other way around. There are, it's true certain fundamentals that would exclude leftists and ohre non-proletarian elements from such a discussion, and there can be different dynamics within a wider process of discussion, leading towards regroupment among those who ahd a higher level of agrement (this did happen in the process of the conferences of the late 70s )

jk1921
Small Differences

Alf wrote:

There are, it's true certain fundamentals that would exclude leftists and ohre non-proletarian elements from such a discussion, and there can be different dynamics within a wider process of discussion, leading towards regroupment among those who ahd a higher level of agrement (this did happen in the process of the conferences of the late 70s )

It seems like at a certain point these efforts have tended to get bogged down in the "narcissism of small differences."

 

mhou
Seems that way from the

Seems that way from the outside. Elsewhere there's talk of the difference between a propaganda group and a communist organization embedded in the class struggle- like the PCInt. I'm trying to wrap my head around how this is accomplished- organizationally and tactically. It looks like the individual militants who bring similarly minded workers into the orbit of the party, sympathizers form territorial or 'affinity' type groups that stay in contact with the party and its projects, coordinate intervention efforts during struggles happening nearby, selling the press, etc. I just don't know if its a cultural difference between Europe and the US, or the many decades of work, or what.

I'd imagine that forming common 'lines' on say particular struggles, and coordinating intervention, would be a means to bring communists from different organizations together. Some efforts sound like they've been successful, others not so much, from different groups press.

Fred
Alf wrote: ...the mass of

Alf wrote:
...the mass of the class isn't thinking in terms of destroying capital and creating a new society, and the communists still only have a very general idea of the form of a proletarian power in modern conditions and the measures needed to advance towards communist production.
.

This sounds just like the position in Russia in 1917, or Germany in 1919, which turned out badly, and I am surprised to find that our communist advanced guard has not been able to develop its ideas on this since 1968. Maybe the "mass of the class" never does, never will think of destroying capital AS THE FINALLY DISCOVERED ANSWER to its problems, till the day before we do it. So that can't be taken as an excuse for the revolutionary groupings the class has seminated up till now to just sit around keeping themselves busy and just waiting for the class to wake up. And why do communists only have a "very general idea" of the form of proletarian power? Surely it ought to be a matter of great urgency to turn this "general idea" into something more specific as soon as possible. Isn't that what you're there for? You are our advanced thinkers! Perhaps if you got your ideas and your act together in a more clarified form, then this could function to arouse the class from its stupefying slumbers (slumbers which it would be too awful to think our militants shared) because we would have a better idea of what we were doing and where we were going, and could perhaps suddenly find a motivation we seem content to lack at the present time. If it's always going to be premature to do anything then let's just pack up now!

jk1921
Time to Deepen

Fred wrote:
Alf wrote:
...the mass of the class isn't thinking in terms of destroying capital and creating a new society, and the communists still only have a very general idea of the form of a proletarian power in modern conditions and the measures needed to advance towards communist production.
.

This sounds just like the position in Russia in 1917, or Germany in 1919, which turned out badly, and I am surprised to find that our communist advanced guard has not been able to develop its ideas on this since 1968. Maybe the "mass of the class" never does, never will think of destroying capital AS THE FINALLY DISCOVERED ANSWER to its problems, till the day before we do it. So that can't be taken as an excuse for the revolutionary groupings the class has seminated up till now to just sit around keeping themselves busy and just waiting for the class to wake up. And why do communists only have a "very general idea" of the form of proletarian power? Surely it ought to be a matter of great urgency to turn this "general idea" into something more specific as soon as possible. Isn't that what you're there for? You are our advanced thinkers! Perhaps if you got your ideas and your act together in a more clarified form, then this could function to arouse the class from its stupefying slumbers (slumbers which it would be too awful to think our militants shared) because we would have a better idea of what we were doing and where we were going, and could perhaps suddenly find a motivation we seem content to lack at the present time. If it's always going to be premature to do anything then let's just pack up now!

 

Argh, its going on 100 years now and it seems we haven't made a ton of progress is solving the councilism-substitutionism dichotomy, other than by dialectical conjurings, pithy phrases and collective hypnosis. We can't formulate a more specific program until the concrete conditions exist--the concrete conditions won't exist until we formulate a more specific program and around and around the vicious tautology we go. 

I don't want to sound too jaded, but it seems that there is just a level of precision that continuously escapes us--a kind of epistemological wild zone that resists representation or something like that. These dilemnas seem to come from the attempt to merge the legacies of the Italian with the Dutch/German left, which is the specific lineage of the ICC in the milieu today. However, the ICC has done some considerible work on these issues already that perhaps we have failed to assimilate so far. Maybe it is time to go back and look at some of this more closely again?

Other than the pamphlet on Communist Organizations and Class Consciousness, does anyone have any suggestions where to start? It seems like this topic and the issues under discussion here are a perfect topic for a Day of Discussion at some point.

slothjabber
Is the cause of quietude really an imprecise 'vanguard'?

Outside of Italy and France, pretty much all Left Communist groups are tiny (in Italy and France, Left Communist groups are rather 'very small'). They have almost no presence in the working class, no ability to affect anything that might be happening, certainly no ability to catalyse things that would otherwise not happen.

 

Lack of precision on the nature of the state in the revolutionary period (for example) is not the issue here really, is it? I don't see the problem as being a tautology. A perfect programme won't detonate a revolution. The question is one of the working class's response to the attacks on it. Political organisations can only play a small role in generalising the lessons of such struggles, they can't stand in for the (lack of) struggles themselves.

mikail firtinaci
good post

jk1921 wrote:

 it seems that there is just a level of precision that continuously escapes us--a kind of epistemological wild zone that resists representation or something like that.

Great expression, I liked that a lot. I agree. Maybe it is our vocabulary is too much imbued with the dichotomies of the past fights between Blanqui and Proudhon, Marx and Bakunin, Kautsky and Kropotkin, etc. And those dichotomies are capturing our thoughts. So maybe we are not able to dismiss those dichotomies of authorityandfreedom yet, and actually start to talk about what can be done or can't be done and how.  practical thinking, such as talking about "doing something" requires a thinking on practice. And program in a sense is about the practice of class.

Alf
cook books, etc

Fred: Regarding the future forms of class power, what  I mean is that while we can draw on the historic experience of the class - which points in the direction of assemblies, revocable delegates, soviets, etc - we can't say exactly what shape these organs will take in the future. For example, in some of the big cities in the west, where many of big industrial concentrations have gone will street assemblies come to the fore instead of factory assemblies like in 1917? And how can we ensure the autonomous self-organisation of the class in such a situation? These are new problems and will require all the creativity of the class to solve them.  

lem_
"So, we have no problem

"So, we have no problem understanding class consciousness then? This isn't a real theoretical dilmena for left communists? Its a "pseudo-problem"? It just comes when it comes and we are wasting our efforts trying to dig deeper?".

 

I did not mean to say that we should not look for a deeper understanding of class consciousness, let alone that we don't need to understand it!

just that, what has been written about it, does not make it a quasi religious / mystical, phenomenon. if everything that we have said about it - in general - is all we can, then so be it! i do not see the paucity of theory being the most pressing problem. perhaps, part of working out more about it, involves recognizing that.

Pierre
Excuse me, but what was the

Excuse me, but what was the main idea of the original article? The thesis?

The ICC poses the question "Why is it so difficult to struggle?" And never really addresses that question in a way that will resonate with workers.

It's so difficult to struggle because were all broke, with little to no power, and most of us are completely brainwashed by the enslaving ideas of rich people.

Do workers really need such dense writing to understand that?

Pierre
Or is the ICC merely an small

Or is the ICC merely a small outlet for "militants" (d. someone engaged in warfare or combat) to "debate" the "ideas of the class?"

ernie
P_P the discussion of the

P_P the discussion of the "ideas of the class" is an essential part of the working class regaining confidence in itself, whether it takes place on this forum or down the pub. The very idea that the proletariat has its own ideas is some thing the ruling class spends a lot of energy struggling against, for example the whole idea of democracy is based on the idea of the individual having free choice.

Is the ICC merely a small outlet for militants to debate? Yes we are small, and discussion is  vital to us: without it there can be no real develop consciousness. This is why we think this and other  forums are important. The large number of reads of this specific thread, over 27000, illustrates that importance because it is clear that there a lot more people reading this thread than the number participating, people interested in this question of the difficulties faced by the proletariat today. For us this is part of the class struggle. However, this forum is part of our activity, there are also our public meetings, publicatnions, particpation in the wider discussions in the working class: for example the series of workshops dealing with quesitons facing the working class that are being organised in Alicante, Spain by a group of workers there who have participating in the develop of the struggles in struggles in recent yers.

This activity is extremely small compared to the needs of the period but it is part of the wider struggle, not something separate from it.

mhou
Quote:Do workers really need

Quote:
Do workers really need such dense writing to understand that?

Chicken and the egg; if the working-class spawns a politically advanced minority, the efforts for that minority to have a higher level of clarity shouldn't need to be dumbed down. We aren't out to proselytize and make every person that sells their labor for a wage into a communist and then 'do communism', right? I think the tendency to try and turn Marxism into a laymen's guide hasn't worked out- the history of social democracy attests to that; giant mass parties don't make the revolution anymore viable and end up diluting the level of understanding of people who are searching for revolutionary ideas.

jk1921
If we were to make Marxism

If we were to make Marxism into something that "resonates with workers" what would that entail? What "resonates with workers" in their quotidian lives under captialism? Sports? Popculture? The latest consumer gadgetry? Politically simplistic ideologies like "blame the immigrants"? Marxism won't resonte with workers until they break with their everyday lives and began a process of struggle that eventually brings them to a place where Marxism no longer appears like impenetrable "dense writing," because it begins to more and more  express the concrete needs of the actual struggles they are engaged in.

I think the critique of "dense writing" that pops up now and again is a real expression of a certain lack of confidence reflecting the isolation communists experience outside of periods of open struggle.That is when its not a reflection of open hostility that tries to paint communist organizations as hopelessly irrelevant cults.

That doesn't mean that certain things couldn't be written more clearly. We could all stand to improve our communication skills I reckon, but I do not see anything in this article (or the other one about which P-P asked "if you people really talk like that") that is particularly obtuse. Certainly, there is nothing here on the order of post-modernist academic writing, in which trying to confuse the reader seems to be part of the goal.

I agree the article didn't really answer the question--"why is it so difficult to struggle today?", but I really didn't expect it to be anything more than an opening round in what is a very dense, difficult topic.

Pierre
1. Ernie - Is the class

1. Ernie - Is the class discussing the "ideas of the class?"

You say without the ICC "there can be no real development of consciousness." I don't find this to be a realistic position to take.

2. Mhou - My questions have nothing to do with poultry.

Let me ask you this; considering the post-war, post-Fordist "break" that cde Kollwitz and others have brought up, can we even say this current generation of the working class has spawned a politically advanced minority? I don't see one!

The other point is that mass parties and proselytization "hasn't worked out" in the past. But when has the working class been closest to revolution? In a period where mass parties and proselytization was rampant and widespread! Why do you assume "giant mass parties don't make the revolution anymore viable" and "end up diluting the level of understanding of people who are searching for revolutionary ideas?"

You can't dilute something that barely exists in the first place!

3. Cde JK - You ask the question "what resonates with workers?" Guns, justice and freedom! Also, money!

Have you been able to "break with [your] everyday [life]?" I know I haven't. Yet here we are, debating revolutionary ideas. The ICC's dense writings have nothing to do with a "lack of confidence" or "isolation"... if we tried hard not to sound like lawyers it would be easy. Simple language does not entail simplicity of thought.

Weren't you the one speaking of how the ICC is engaged in a sort of "tautalogy?" Is that not a rhetorical concept? We'll I'm here to say, we've had enough fucking rhetoric! Could it be this tendency towards tautology is a reflection of not being able to resonate with the class? How is it not obtuse that "the article didn't really answer the question?"

 

mhou
Quote:Let me ask you this;

Quote:
Let me ask you this; considering the post-war, post-Fordist "break" that cde Kollwitz and others have brought up, can we even say this current generation of the working class has spawned a politically advanced minority? I don't see one!

Depends on how you view the pro-revolutionary, communist minority- which was part of this discussion earlier on. I think that since the crisis inparticular, the upswing in membership and interest in communist groups, the creation of new groups, editorial collectives/small groups around individual publications, etc. is a sign of this. The communisation milieu has been growing in size, number of groups and publications (and is now publishing multinational texts like the journal Sic). There was a discussion on Libcom about what everyone thinks is the purpose of reading Capital- the response from many people was very similar to my own- experience in the workplace led us to seek out alternatives and answers, and we all found our way to either Marxist or anarchist communist politics. I think that is indicative of the class creating its politically 'advanced' or 'class conscious' sections. Every group that is at least nominally Marxist, anarchist, socialist, seems to be seeing growth since 2007-2008.

As for the era of mass parties, high union density/militant trade unionism, I agree with Trotsky's analysis (expanded from Engels) that the unseen movement in the economy creates relative movement in the political arena. Following the first total war in human history, there was a crisis which turned into the revolutionary wave; in May '68, the Hot Autumn and related movements, there was the collapse of Bretton-Woods and Keynesianism, the return of crisis to capital after the boom years following WWII, and now the financial crisis/mortgage crisis of 2007-2008 since we've seen a big uptick in struggles internationally and international movements (Occupy/Indignados).

Do you think the mass Social Democratic parties and large labor unions deserve credit for events like those 1917-1927, 1968-early '70s? I don't see it that way, and now that the classical workers movement imploded and barely exists, a shadow of what it once was, were they really the reason for international movements like Occupy/Indignados or outbursts of struggle we're seeing recently? I think the economic-political relationship regarding capitalist crisis makes more sense- like the Situationists pointed out multiple times, if the classical workers movement is the arbiter of revolution, why hasn't it overthrown capitalism (even when it had the numerical strength and public sympathy to make this plausible- their example being the PCF and PCd'I after WWII, or PCF anytime after 1945 leading to May '68). I don't know if density of unions and strength of Marxist-Leninist and social democratic parties and Trotskyist groups etc. "contribute" to such movements and 'crisis activity'. I don't think so, but I do wonder sometimes about examples like Hungary in 1956- whether it was the official state history of soviets and ideological domination by the CP that led to widespread knowledge of workers councils and factory committees, or if it was like Russia in 1905 and was spontaneous due to the needs of the population (or a combination, the experience of 1919 passed on along with both of those things).

But we should have an orientation about that, mainly because the classical workers movement is a dinosaur, small, shriveled and mostly without influence aside from pockets here and there. It's part of our present reality.

Pierre
Are these hard facts you're

Are these hard facts you're reporting? Or more a matter of hearsay and opinion?

What concrete scientific evidence shows there has been an "upswing in membership and interest in communist groups?" And by the standards of the left communist tradition, if this upswing is in fact happening, are those involved even truly revolutionary, communist and proletarian?

Do I think Social Democratic parties and large labor unions deserve credit for the events listed? Of course not. Workers were responsible for such movement. But neither do I think that an international revolutionary proletarian communist party will **poof** from the work of 200 or less active militants in a fragmented and atomized milieu.

With such little relevance in everyday proletarian life at this point, what shows us that with the worsening of material conditions organizations like the ICC will hold any relevance at all? Isn't that train of thought a bit substitutionist in a way?

ernie
P_P I think you may have

P_P

I think you may have misunderstood what I was saying, I do not say that without the ICC there will not be a development of class consciousness. Class consciousness is the expression of the working class's effort to understand its past,present and above all future. This develops through a multitude of ways. Communist organisations being the most organised expression of this.

As for workers discussing class ideas, clearly the majority of workers don't sit down and say well lets discuss class ideas, but there is a process within the class of trying to understand its situation and what to do. This process may not be very clear most of the time but questions such as unemployment, levels of pay, war, housing,  the future for our children and ourselves are a constant concerns. This question of the future is certainly increasingly a preoccupation, however the idea that there can be an alternative to this hell we are living in is not at all clear for the vast majority of work. The development of a sense of an alternative is the biggest challenge facing the class and humanity today, and it is going to be no easy process to confront and overcome the all pravisive weight of bourgeoisie ideology.

 

mhou
Quote:Are these hard facts

Quote:

Are these hard facts you're reporting? Or more a matter of hearsay and opinion?

What concrete scientific evidence shows there has been an "upswing in membership and interest in communist groups?" And by the standards of the left communist tradition, if this upswing is in fact happening, are those involved even truly revolutionary, communist and proletarian?

A combination of both, more or less. The many opinions expressed independently about a big rise in the broader anti-capitalist movement (encompassing everything from CPUSA to IWW to ICC) or discussions on 'changes' that have taken place over the last few years express this. I tend to give that weight maybe others wouldn't. I like the way Jtflint described it earlier in this thread- that line of thought expressed by numerous people from the general 'anti-capitalist movement'. If you take media (mainstream and left press) as evidence, there have been numerous articles written to this effect, such as these:

Quote:

“The economic crisis of 2008 gave us new life,” said Billy Wharton, a co-chairman of the Socialist Party, who grew enamored of socialism while battling tuition increases as a student at the College of Staten Island. “We have ideas for resolving the economic crisis, and people began to listen to them.”

Rather than trumpeting membership numbers, the parties, embracing the norms of the digital era, prefer to discuss the number of hits on their Web sites and Facebook pages. And philosophically, they take a kind of I-told-you-so schadenfreude in statistics that indicate a growing gap between the rich and the poor, with top chief executives now making 275 times as much as the average proletarian.

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/05/23/nyregion/leftist-parties-in-new-york-h...

If you'd like I can dig up post-2007/08 crisis documents from leftist and communist groups describing membership growth since the crisis- off the top of my head I know that the IWW has multiplied its size many times over compared to pre-crisis numbers (since it is a registered union information like that is in the public domain under LMDRA- legally required filings contain information that projects membership numbers), plus articles in their paper to that effect.

Taken together (subjective opinions and numerous groups describing growth since the latest crisis) I think it makes that case; but it isn't the same as raw data compiling everything from Facebook friending of leftist and communist groups to numbers of subscribers to left and communist press etc.

Quote:
Do I think Social Democratic parties and large labor unions deserve credit for the events listed? Of course not. Workers were responsible for such movement. But neither do I think that an international revolutionary proletarian communist party will **poof** from the work of 200 or less active militants in a fragmented and atomized milieu.

With such little relevance in everyday proletarian life at this point, what shows us that with the worsening of material conditions organizations like the ICC will hold any relevance at all? Isn't that train of thought a bit substitutionist in a way?

What I mean is the indirect influence of the leftist/union organizations on these historic events- not that say the PCF 'called' the wildcat general strike/mass occupations, but if the decades of propaganda, influence in the unions/transmission belt theory, is what leads to a widespread enough understanding of communist ideas and tactics that would allow such events to happen? If that's the case, we would be in 'trouble' given that state of things.

I mentioned earlier Bordiga's conceptions on that (size of communist groups leading to the party), here's a couple relevant passeges:

Quote:
Therefore there is no definite or definable numerical relationship between the party membership and the great mass of the workers. Once it is established that the party assumes its function as a minority of the class, the inquiry as to whether this should be a large minority or a small minority is the ultimate in pedantry. It is certain that as long as the contradictions and internal conflicts of capitalist society, from which the revolutionary tendencies originate, are only in their first stage of development, as long as the revolution appears to be far away, then we must expect this situation: the class party, the communist party, will necessarily be composed of small vanguard groups who have a special capacity to understand the historical perspective, and that section of the masses who will understand and follow it cannot be very large. However, when the revolutionary crisis becomes imminent, when the bourgeois relations of production become more and more intolerable, the party will see an increase in its ranks and in the extent of its following within the proletariat.

-Party and Class Action, 1921

Quote:

The party can include in its ranks neither all the individuals which constitute the proletarian class nor even the majority of the class. It includes only that minority which has attained a collective preparation and maturity, in theory and action, corresponding to the general vision and ultimate goal of the historical movement, in the entire world and throughout the historical course from the emergence of the proletariat to its revolutionary victory.

The party is not formed on the basis of individual consciousness. It not only is impossible for each and every proletarian to be conscious of the class doctrine, much less master it intellectually; but such a thing is not even possible for each party militant taken separately. Such a guarantee cannot even be given by the leaders, but only exists in the organic unity of the party.

Therefore, just as we reject every theory of individual action or of mass action independent of a precise organisational tissue, we also refuse any conception of the party as an assemblage of erudite, enlightened, or conscious individuals. Instead, the party is a tissue, a system, which has the organic function within the proletarian class of fulfilling the revolutionary tasks in all their aspects and through all their complex phases.

-Fundamental Theses of the Party, 1951

In the case of substitutionism, would it involve the collective 'us' as communist militants actively substituting ourselves for the activity of the working-class (like calling the formation of worker's councils even though the workers themselves aren't posing their necessity at that moment), is that an accurate definition of substitutionism?

If that's a fair definition, I don't see how forming the party is substitutionist- if a few things are accepted beforehand:

-We recognize communist workers are a small minority of the wider class, it's not the task of the party to become a 'mass party' like the old Social Democracy but remain this minority of the most class conscious and 'politicized' minority.

-The party is not formed to take over struggles, organizationally place itself above the class (the way Trot groups caucus and stack public meetings for instance), etc. but instead to argue the case for communist positions within rather than above things like workplace committee's, worker's councils, inter-profession assemblies/general assemblies, and the like, while developing theory based on the experience of struggles and analysis of the economy and history.

I'm still trying to wrap my head around aspects of this.

 

 

Pierre
What doesn't make sense is

What doesn't make sense is why "it would be ridiculous to judge the process of formation of communist parties" for Bordiga (Party and Class Action).

Maybe because this piece was written in 1921? Which just so happens to be the same time the world communist movement failed to form an international communist party. It doesn't seem so ridiculous to judge the process of formation of communist parties now does it?

Bordiga continues, "It is indisputable that the numerical force of the party and the enthusiasm of the proletariat to gather around the party are favourable revolutionary conditions."

But this was before WWII, before the era of state capitalism and decadence. What defines "favorable conditions" for revolution today?

Trotsky once said, "In a revolution we look first of all at the direct interference of the masses in the dest­inies of society. We seek to uncover behind the events changes in the collective consciousness...This can seem puzzling only to one who looks upon the insurrection of the masses as ‘spontaneous' - that is, as a herd-mutiny art­ificially made use of by leaders. In reality the mere existence of privations is not enough to cause an insurrection, if it were, the masses would always be in revolt...The immediate causes of the events of a revolution are changes in the state of mind of the conflicting classes... Changes in the collective consciousness have naturally a semi-concealed character. Only when they have attained a certain degree of intensity do the new moods and ideas break to the surface in the form of mass activities." (History of the Russian Revolution)

So how do we assist in the effort to bring these new moods and ideas to the surface in the form of mass activities? By sitting around and debating each other? Or by somehow engaging the workers in some form of dialogue??

jk1921
Resources

proper_propaganda wrote:

So how do we assist in the effort to bring these new moods and ideas to the surface in the form of mass activities? By sitting around and debating each other? Or by somehow engaging the workers in some form of dialogue??

And how do you purport that a movement of "200 or less militants" enage the workers in some form of dialogue? What does this mean? Which workers? Where are they? How do we find them?

Alf states correctly that we are a "minority of a minority;" where do the resources or capacity to "engage the workers in some kind of dialogue" come from then?

Pierre
Re:

jk1921 wrote:

And how do you purport that a movement of "200 or less militants" enage the workers in some form of dialogue?

A huge propaganda/cultural jamming campaign?

Demogorgon
"A huge propaganda/cultural

"A huge propaganda/cultural jamming campaign?"

Come again?

Pierre
Re:

.

jk1921
I am somewhat non-plussed at

I am somewhat non-plussed at the moment. I think though its necessary to restate my support for the article and extend my appreciation and solidarity to the comrade who wrote it and the ICC as a whole for publishing it. I am still looking forward to the next installment. Cheers!

Pierre
...

jk1921 wrote:

I am somewhat non-plussed at the moment. I think though its necessary to restate my support for the article and extend my appreciation and solidarity to the comrade who wrote it and the ICC as a whole for publishing it. I am still looking forward to the next installment. Cheers!

werd

LoneLondoner
Class consciousness and its development...

I hope a few words can contribute something...

Somewhere here JK asks how we can "measure" "subterranean consciousness" given that it is invisible. If you stick to a purely empirical observation of "facts" (in itself a much more complicated notion than at first sight appears...), then of course you cannot "see" it. But then neither can you see radio waves. That did not stop Marconi from building a radio on the basis of Hertz's predictions that radio waves ought to exist and ought to have certain characteristics. Given that human society is far more complex than physics, and not open to experiment in the same way, then of course we can't hope to be as precise. However, if you think there is no such thing at all, then you have to: a) suppose that workers talk about nothing but football and the latest idiot TV game, and that when a struggle comes to an end people forget all about it, which seems to me highly improbable on the face of it, and b) explain how sudden mass events such as the invention of soviets in 1905 or the Indignados movement come about.

The existence of internationalist minorities (very broadly, all kinds of minority groups including forums like revleft etc) is in my view the tip of the iceberg of this subterranean maturation (as Ernie points out, the fact that the reads on this thread have topped 30,000 must surely be indicative of something). To put it bluntly: if the working class was not a historically revolutionary class, then the ICC and groups like it would not exist. The fact that we are divided, very divided, to the point where an awful lot of revolutionaries don't even see the point of engaging in discussion with tendencies outside their own, is a reflection of the difficulty that the working class has in seeing itself as a unified whole with its own interests in society.

One reason for this is missing from the article (you can't put everything in one article after all): the collapse of the Eastern bloc. If you think about it, a worker in his 30s today has grown up under a constant barrage of propaganda (definitely not "proper propaganda" ) to the effect that the revolution has been defeated, that the working class doesn't exist (we're all "middle class" now, right?) and that there is no alternative to capitalism. I would argue that this is even more important than the issue of the "recomposition" of the working class, which is anyway a permanent phenomenon in capitalism. To take a personal example, I'm what they call a "tech worker": as such I am a member of what is today the largest single fraction of the working class in the developed economies - IT and network technicians. My great-grandfather was an engine driver (locomotive engineer in American English?), which in the 19th century was also an "élite" part of the workforce with a tendency to look down on the unskilled (dockers etc). That was a problem then, it is a problem now, but it does not fundamentally alter the reality of the working class under capitalism.

One of the problems that the collapse of the Eastern bloc has created for the working class is that before it, there existed a very general idea (distorted and adulterated by Stalinism of course) as to what a working class power, a working class society might look like. Today that doesn't exist and it is surely very difficult to launch into a worldwide struggle to overthrow capitalism and create a new society without at least some idea (even though any preconceived idea would certainly turn out to be incorrect and need adjusting in the light of experience) of what we are aiming at and how we should go about creating it.

proper_propaganda wrote:
You ask the question "what resonates with workers?" Guns, justice and freedom! Also, money! (...) if we tried hard not to sound like lawyers it would be easy. Simple language does not entail simplicity of thought.

This cry from the heart demonstrates just how difficult it is: we want a society which is certainly without guns and money, which is without "justice" (because the call for "justice" implies that there must be injustice, necessarily) - so how are we suppose to "resonate" with the workers??. Simple language does not entail simplicity of thought: up to a point this is true, however there is just no getting away from the fact that creating a new worldwide society such has never existed in history is an enormous undertaking which will demand an enormous intellectual effort on the part of workers, collectively and individually. Not just rhetorical assertions about guns and justice (no offence intended).

mikail firtinaci
Lone

Lone:

I think the radio example does not fit. Observation are observable through  senses. In terms of social questions materialism means you base yourself on the sensual-real humans and not on an ideal human being that has to emerge on one day or ideal movements that are not attached to actual movements. The ideal consciousness has never gave birth to any movement by its mystical and invisible movement. It is always the immediate, pratical and material movements that gave birth to ideas. And radical ideas have always been massive and material when they reached out to the practical-real movements.

And Marxism as a specific way of materialist approach tells us to look at class struggle and political economy in order to base our politics -i.e. real people and real relations. When you look at economics not only for ICC but for the increasing part of the LCs, for anarchists and even for a significant portion of workers, capitalism is giving signals of an deep crisis. When you look at politicians you see they are not providing any solutions - nor they are capable. Also the great majority of the working class in east asia is fighting daily struggles. There is already the movement in front of our eyes.

This is the solid and real basis. There is no spirit moving, no immaterial force. The suffering and its continuation is what capitalism offers. And if communists and the class do not act wisely and also quickly -as ICC says also in its decomposition thesis- there is the risk of ultimate destruction of human society beyond the point of no return.

I think that material base is an open call for the communists to actively and rigoriously involve every worker struggle and if they are not powerful enough to do it, then they should try to find ways of being stronger. This material situation also is a "historic calling" for communists to form a vision of communist society which is possible and realisable, a program of transition to communism as quick and solid as possible.

And I think the way the ICC comrades puts question here is problematic. One the hand they say to work towards active intervention and unification of communists for building up the program is premature. However at the same they they say it is necessary to build the party. What is the party if it is not defender of the communist program and active agent intervening in the class struggle? How can you build it without addressing these questions. The way I see it the party is the answer to these questions and you can not seperate the process of building the party from the party's activities. It is not a christmas present which will brought by Santa Claus when working class will be ready for the revolution right?

And there is the same contradiction in terms of the question of theory. For instance in their last congress the French section of the ICC warned against the danger of immediatism:

Faced with the danger of immediatism, the Congress recalled that intervention in the ongoing struggles of the working class, as indispensable as it is, is not however our main activity. Like all revolutionary organisations of the past, the primary responsibility of the ICC is to prepare the conditions for the proletarian revolution, and in particular the conditions for the formation of the future world party. This is why our long-term work of building the organisation, must remain at the centre of our activity.

OK, it is true that primary goal of the Communists is to build the party. But that true assertion is not enough to say that the primary goal is not to intervene in class struggles right now. The way I see it, the party is a responce to the needs of the ongoing struggles. And its theory is both a responce to immediate and future questions that are faced in the struggles. How can you work on theory if you do not at the same time learn the practical questions that the struggle faces?

Perhaps I misunderstood the congress report. But this heavy emphasis on theory sounded very "french" to me.

So I think ICC can resolve this quesiton very easily. If ICC trusts the milleu and direct itself to active intervention it will find allies in the prol. polit. milleu. They may not be "perfect militants." But once ICC shows itself in action, earn the trust of the militants and struggling workers, its theory will sound less wordy and more vital, its practice will seem less formalistic and more beneficial for the needs of the WC.

mhou
I think what he means is that

I think what he means is that consciousness itself is immaterial; it manifests itself in different ways (through the form of human relations and activity) which is material, but the substance itself is like radio waves- it exists, but you can't sense it on the tangible level with the 5 senses.

Quote:
The way I see it, the party is a responce to the needs of the ongoing struggles. And its theory is both a responce to immediate and future questions that are faced in the struggles. How can you work on theory if you do not at the same time learn the practical questions that the struggle faces?

I'd agree with both suggestions- but I think a more reasonable approach to intervention is simply talking to workers, one to another. Development of theory is very important; it's how we understand what's going on and how we can act appropriately. It's been a task of communists since there's been communists, it's part of what we do. In tandem with that, lately I've been thinking that simple dialogue is an important part of intervention, that is realistic and doesn't replicate what the multitude of Trotskyist, Maoist, etc. groupuscules have done to the poor auto workers in Detroit (especially in the 60's and 70's)- stand outside the factory with a stack of newspapers and spouting maximalist slogans (a couple articles have described the row of people from different groups standing near the coffee and sandwhich carts that set up outside the GM and Chrysler factories to serve workers during breaks or inbetween shifts, all peddling newspapers). We talked about the pending dockworkers troubles on both coasts earlier in this thread; simply going down to the docks and talking to longshoremen (such as outside the union hall) about whats going on, what they think ought to be done, what they've been hearing at work and from the union, is a simple and pragmatic way to intervene. That's just one example; we all work, we live near other people who work, what's special about striking up conversation about work related problems in places where class struggle is heating up? Not much, but I think it goes a long way to establish the development of individual communists, and show solidarity in a practical way- like talking to dockworkers about the 2010 wildcat, the upcoming strike talk, the container royalty fund, the union, then if things heat up and turns into a Coast wide strike or lock-out, being there to show support. Showing up as some 'political specialist' giving the Word is activism, immediatism, and doesn't work. The more I think about it, this seems to be a part of how groups like the PCInt have a bigger connection with workers on the local level; just based on descriptions of their activity and reports from Italy (there was another discussion elsewhere about the difference between being a propaganda group, and an organization embedded in the class). I don't think we're "outside the working-class", but communist ideas are inaccessible, and when they are accessed by the politically advanced minority, have barriers to being relevant in day to day struggle. I mean, that's what this is discussion is all about, right? Breaking down those barriers (which is where the question of the party gets posed, discussions of consciousness, the activity of individual communists, etc.)?

 

LoneLondoner
I don't think we're talking about the same thing

mikail firtinaci wrote:

In terms of social questions materialism means you base yourself on the sensual-real humans and not on an ideal human being that has to emerge on one day or ideal movements that are not attached to actual movements.

Where did you get the idea that I'm talking about ideal people or ideal social movements?? All I'm saying is that it is impossible to observe everything that exists, above all when we are talking about human events: there are 7 billion people on this planet - are you able to observe everything that they are talking about and thinking about? When the events in Egypt were going on, how much did you know about what was happening throughout the Egyptian working class, much less the world working class? Not much I imagine, and that goes for all of us.

So, the scientific viewpoint, the marxist viewpoint, is to try to develop a working hypothesis for the overall state of the world and the development of the class struggle, and then see if the future facts fit that hypothesis. IMHO, the Indignados movement illustrates and confirms what we said at the time about the social movements in Egypt and Tunisia.

As for "directing ourselves to active intervention", don't get the wrong idea: when we have an opportunity we through ourselves into it body and soul: this is what we did during the movement against pension reform in France, during the Indignados in Spain, and during Occupy wherever we were able. But outside these major movements, what we don't do is spend our time trying to make struggles appear from nothing when the impetus for them does not exist. And this comes back to what the revolutionary organisation is for: is it there to show the workers what to do in a struggle? In general, my experience is that in practical terms workers have a very good idea what to do: the problem is that they generally lack an overall political perspective and a view of themselves in history which makes it possible to rise from the particular to the general (in other words from immediate resistance to class wide resistance to the revolutionary overthrow of the system).

The insistance on the importance of theory is not French, it's marxist. Why else did Marx say "The weapon of criticism cannot, of course, replace criticism of the weapon, material force must be overthrown by material force; but theory also becomes a material force as soon as it has gripped the masses"?

mikail firtinaci
agree and also

mhou wrote:

We talked about the pending dockworkers troubles on both coasts earlier in this thread; simply going down to the docks and talking to longshoremen (such as outside the union hall) about whats going on, what they think ought to be done, what they've been hearing at work and from the union, is a simple and pragmatic way to intervene. That's just one example; we all work, we live near other people who work, what's special about striking up conversation about work related problems in places where class struggle is heating up?

 

I don't think we're "outside the working-class", but communist ideas are inaccessible, and when they are accessed by the politically advanced minority, have barriers to being relevant in day to day struggle. I mean, that's what this is discussion is all about, right? Breaking down those barriers (which is where the question of the party gets posed, discussions of consciousness, the activity of individual communists, etc.)?

I agree with those points. One more point may be; that if communists become more actively involved -by involvement I don't mean to say anything except involvement- then the artificial barriers between themselves, between various radicals can also melt away. Many problems of miscommunication are caused by distrust, isolation and lack of sympathy. So the practical involvement that would bring together various communists (anarchist, Left, etc.?) the discussions will be more clearly oriented towards the common goal. The mutual trust will be stronger since there is the common struggle etc. And further theoretical debates will flower on a healtier ground of solidarity experience rather than political competition.

mikail firtinaci
Lone

Don't get the wrong idea. I happen to be reading about Foucault and French structuralism and their history in general. Anyways, what sounds especially French to me is not emphasising theory but only emphasising theory. This is pointless. It leads to metaphysics. Theory is always the theory of something, some practical sensual activity right? In terms of French structuralism it was the theory of academic leftism denying any agency to human and rejecting the possibility of change. Probably this was related to the 50s atmosphere.

Anyway in ICCs case, I trust ICC comrades and their diagnoses. And as far as I know their isolation was a product of 1990s where this "castle spirit" developed. Very understandable... But at what point this may become a self-imposed exile rather than a real isolation? From my own subjective position I see possibilities for ICC and LC in general. As far as I can see (in my daily experience) there are increasing number of people becoming open to radical ideas. Plus there are also a lot of small struggles bubbling up everywhere. These struggles (I can follow in most detail Turkey) are becoming even more radicalised.

However, I fear that these possibilities for intervention are not adequately considered. When I try to explain the reasons of this situation I  find it hard to see a coherent explanation. So this is leading me to look for other types of weaknesses... I am looking at my own weaknesses too... Am I too impatient? But then again no - the things definitely do not seem as they were before...

jk1921
How to ground....

LoneLondoner wrote:

I hope a few words can contribute something...The existence of internationalist minorities (very broadly, all kinds of minority groups including forums like revleft etc) is in my view the tip of the iceberg of this subterranean maturation (as Ernie points out, the fact that the reads on this thread have topped 30,000 must surely be indicative of something). To put it bluntly: if the working class was not a historically revolutionary class, then the ICC and groups like it would not exist. The fact that we are divided, very divided, to the point where an awful lot of revolutionaries don't even see the point of engaging in discussion with tendencies outside their own, is a reflection of the difficulty that the working class has in seeing itself as a unified whole with its own interests in society.

LL's statement above seems like an admission that some kind of empirical grounding of SMC is necessary even if isn't through the standard ways of grounding this kind of thing--but I am not sure that the mere existence of revolutionary minorities (or even their growth) works for this. Sure, it might have something to do with the SMC, or it could simply be that more people are finding revolutionary positions, because they have access to them on the Internet rather than having to find them in obscure bookstores and dusty libraries. This thread has had how many reads? 30,000? That sounds like a lot, but compared to what? How many people still believe the Earth is flat?  Or that they have been the victims of alien abduction? I don't know, but probably more than 30,000. People believe all kinds of strange things.

Personally, what motivates me on this issue is that I do not want to in any way be guilty of practicing a "secular religion." The so-called "New Atheism" is very aggressive on this point--Marxism is just a secular religion. The dialectic is the equivalent of the holy ghost. Marxists can look at empirical facts and when they don't fit the narrative of a march towards class confrontation--they can simply say, "so much the worse for the facts." Which is of course exactly what both Kautsky and Lukacs did say (in differing contexts).

I think we need to look at other ways of empirically grounding SMC rather than referencing the growth of certain Internet discussion forums (in which left communism becomes its own proof). That is far too self-referential.

 

 

jk1921
Build Organization

mikail firtinaci wrote:

And I think the way the ICC comrades puts question here is problematic. One the hand they say to work towards active intervention and unification of communists for building up the program is premature. However at the same they they say it is necessary to build the party. What is the party if it is not defender of the communist program and active agent intervening in the class struggle? How can you build it without addressing these questions. The way I see it the party is the answer to these questions and you can not seperate the process of building the party from the party's activities. It is not a christmas present which will brought by Santa Claus when working class will be ready for the revolution right?

And there is the same contradiction in terms of the question of theory. For instance in their last congress the French section of the ICC warned against the danger of immediatism:

Faced with the danger of immediatism, the Congress recalled that intervention in the ongoing struggles of the working class, as indispensable as it is, is not however our main activity. Like all revolutionary organisations of the past, the primary responsibility of the ICC is to prepare the conditions for the proletarian revolution, and in particular the conditions for the formation of the future world party. This is why our long-term work of building the organisation, must remain at the centre of our activity.

OK, it is true that primary goal of the Communists is to build the party. But that true assertion is not enough to say that the primary goal is not to intervene in class struggles right now. The way I see it, the party is a responce to the needs of the ongoing struggles. And its theory is both a responce to immediate and future questions that are faced in the struggles. How can you work on theory if you do not at the same time learn the practical questions that the struggle faces?

I agree with RI that the primary task is to build the organization, but I also agree with Mikhail that this is very strangely worded in the quote above. It almost has a defensive tone to it, something like, "Yes, communists need to actively intervene in the class struggle when they can, but we are so small that we cannot be expected to do much here, so we should focus on building the organization." Of course, there are multiple things that could be meant by "building the organisation." Clearly, given the advancing years of the generation of '68 the primary task should be attempting to translate the lessons of the past to a new generation of militants, but on this score it seems that there hasn't been a great deal of success so far. What does this have to do with the broader class struggle?

jk1921
Recomposition or Decomposition?

LoneLondoner wrote:

 

One reason for this is missing from the article (you can't put everything in one article after all): the collapse of the Eastern bloc. If you think about it, a worker in his 30s today has grown up under a constant barrage of propaganda (definitely not "proper propaganda" ) to the effect that the revolution has been defeated, that the working class doesn't exist (we're all "middle class" now, right?) and that there is no alternative to capitalism. I would argue that this is even more important than the issue of the "recomposition" of the working class, which is anyway a permanent phenomenon in capitalism. To take a personal example, I'm what they call a "tech worker": as such I am a member of what is today the largest single fraction of the working class in the developed economies - IT and network technicians. My great-grandfather was an engine driver (locomotive engineer in American English?), which in the 19th century was also an "élite" part of the workforce with a tendency to look down on the unskilled (dockers etc). That was a problem then, it is a problem now, but it does not fundamentally alter the reality of the working class under capitalism.

Well, that depends on what you think the "fundamental reality of the working class" is under captialism. Is it that they are exploited for their surplus value? Sure, but this alone does not produce the necessary class consciousness for the communist revolution. If it did, the revolution would be possible at any moment. If on the other hand, the working class must exist in massive concentrations, then one can reasonably come to a different conclusion about whether anything fundamental has changed. It is true that the "recomposition of the working class" is something that is integral to capitalism as a system. But might it be the case that what we are living through today is something like the "decomposition" of the working class--or maybe even "deconstruction"? How much longer can we keep up the idea that, "there is really nothing new under the sun"? I assume not much longer since the article in question admits that the issues of deindustrialization, etc. are real ones.

Pierre
Re:

LoneLondoner wrote:
However, if you think there is no such thing at all, then you have to: a) suppose that workers talk about nothing but football and the latest idiot TV game, and that when a struggle comes to an end people forget all about it, which seems to me highly improbable on the face of it, and b) explain how sudden mass events such as the invention of soviets in 1905 or the Indignados movement come about.

You know what? I think I am starting to suppose that mostly all workers talk about nothing but football and the latest fashionable idiot they see on TV after working 40 hours a week. Irregardless to how bad things are getting.

I think I am starting to suppose that after movements like what we saw in Spain, or in Occupy, concessions are made and many people do just forget.

How should we explain sudden events such as the 1905 Revolution in Russia or the Indignados movement? (Are those even comparable?) In a specific, detail oriented way. You can't just toss it all up to "subterranean consciousness," a word I get the feeling we're all using from a lack of understanding.

How long can we continue saying these events are expressions of some metaphysical world spirit-essence which manifests in workers without them consciously realizing it? I mostly agree with Mikail (would have worded it a bit different) when he says, "The ideal consciousness has never gave birth to any movement by its mystical and invisible movement. It is always the immediate, pratical and material movements that gave birth to ideas. And radical ideas have always been massive and material when they reached out to the practical-real movements."

Does SMC exist? I'm starting to think not. But what I do know is there are other individuals like ourselves who are beginning to figure things out. Where is the support network for them? So-called "subterranean consciousness" can't be anything more than isolated groupings and isolated individuals who might be gaining a revolutionary consciouness, but this has little to do with the class or communism (especially if we just sit in a circle and continue to debate each other).

It's more of a "Fuck this, I'm sick of the bullshit" mentality. That could be the catalyst for "recomposing" the communist revolution.

LoneLondoner
Without revolutionary theory, no revolutionary movement

proper_propaganda wrote:

You know what? I think I am starting to suppose that mostly all workers talk about nothing but football and the latest fashionable idiot they see on TV after working 40 hours a week. Irregardless to how bad things are getting.

And on what basis do you suppose this? Presumably, it is either on the basis of your immediate personal experience which you must admit is a very small fragment of a world population of 7billion, or else it is your hypothesis about the real state of affairs which has to be demonstrated in reality. Mikhail has gotten completely the wrong end of the stick I'm afraid: the "subterranean maturation of consciousness" has nothing "ideal" about it: it is perfectly concrete, based on the concrete assumption that the material traces of struggle in workers' brains do not simply disappear (how? by magic?) afterwards, and that workers do actually talk and think about other things than football and beer (contrary to the usual assumption of the bourgeois class who despise them).

proper_propaganda wrote:

especially if we just sit in a circle and continue to debate each other...

So who is doing this sitting in a circle exactly? If we were to added up just the leaflets distributed by the ICC over 35 years they would be in the 100,000s if not the millions. Add in the press in multiple languages. Is this just "sitting in a circle debating with one another"? Please comrade, get real.

Finally, I offer this reflection: "Without revolutionary theory there can be no revolutionary movement. This idea cannot be insisted upon too strongly at a time when the fashionable preaching of opportunism goes hand in hand with an infatuation for the narrowest forms of practical activity". Not me of course, but Lenin. You can think what you like of Lenin, but nobody ever accused him of inactivity...

mikail firtinaci
SMC

Is there any article specifically on SMC?

jk1921
Not sure

mikail firtinaci wrote:

Is there any article specifically on SMC?

Not sure, but the topic has long been a source of controversy in the milieu. I still think this would make a good topic for a Day of Discussion at some point, in order to try to separate out the various issues involved here.

Pierre
SMC Articles

mikail firtinaci wrote:

Is there any article specifically on SMC?

Reply to the CWO: On the subterranean maturation of consciousness

This is the only one that I know of that focuses on SMC as the central idea.

mikail firtinaci
thanks

thank you guys. I have a tentative proposal: Why don't we organize a discussion on the question of the party-organization-consciousness issue in US? Perhaps we can invite people like Loren Goldner and Insurgent Notes (hopefully if they will be interested) and other LCs in the east coast. So it may also stimulate a wider debate inside the milleu. Maybe towards the summer? Do you think that is reasonable and realistic? Can this be undertaken or worth it?

Pierre
Re:

LoneLondoner wrote:

And on what basis do you suppose this? Presumably, it is either on the basis of your immediate personal experience which you must admit is a very small fragment of a world population of 7billion, or else it is your hypothesis about the real state of affairs which has to be demonstrated in reality.

My personal experience is not "very" limited. In my short time on this planet I have traveled to Holland, France, Germany, Jordan, the border of Iraq, the West Bank, Israel... each time spending more than three weeks. Given that my parents are also political (kind of "socialist"), questions like these have been on my mind since the age of 15 or before.

In addtion to that, I've been all over the United States (although, never to the West Coast) and I've had the pleasure of calling this little melting pot in North Carolina my home for over 24 years.

My mother teaches English as a second language to newly arrived immigrants (not to mention my year teaching these kids in the school system myself) and I have been surronded all my life by Congolese, Angolan, Botswanan, Ehtiopian, Somalian, Egyptian, Morrocan, Nigerian, Thai, Burmese, Karen, Montagnard, Vietnamese, Tamil, Japanese, Kazak, Russian, Ukranian (my best friend and brother), Azerbajiani, Romanian, Bulgarian, Chechen, Iraqi, Lebanese, Syrian, Saudi, Yemeni, Bahraini, Qatari, Jamaican, Haitian... I mean the list goes on. These are people who I have known personally. Heard their stories over and over. Asked politically oriented questions.

Oh and then there is me, who is the son of a Palestinian refugee and the grandson of Russian immigrants. So please, tell me again how my experience is limited?

Quote:

If we were to added up just the leaflets distributed by the ICC over 35 years they would be in the 100,000s if not the millions. Add in the press in multiple languages. Is this just "sitting in a circle debating with one another"? Please comrade, get real.

How about the last three years?

jk1921
Its worthwhile....

mikail firtinaci wrote:

thank you guys. I have a tentative proposal: Why don't we organize a discussion on the question of the party-organization-consciousness issue in US? Perhaps we can invite people like Loren Goldner and Insurgent Notes (hopefully if they will be interested) and other LCs in the east coast. So it may also stimulate a wider debate inside the milleu. Maybe towards the summer? Do you think that is reasonable and realistic? Can this be undertaken or worth it?

Its certainly worthwhile. Is it realisitic? I don't know on that front. What would be the criteria for participation? There would probably be a greater chance of success is someone outside these various groups organized it, but this poses logistical/resources issues. Its definetly something that deserves some thought on how to make it happen.

mhou
I think these articles laid

I think these articles laid the groundwork for SMC:

https://en.internationalism.org/node/3106

https://en.internationalism.org/ir/023/mass-strikes-in-poland-1980

Then came the reply to the CWO article.

LoneLondoner
You misunderstand my meaning...

proper_propaganda wrote:

My personal experience is not "very" limited.

Please don't get me wrong: all I mean is that we live on a planet of 7 billion people and the number of those that you can meet and talk to in a lifetime is very limited. Your experience is limited, so is mine, from that viewpoint. And it cannot be otherwise. This is one of the reasons for having an organisation: as individuals, we are very isolated, alone, and weak. Being together makes us stronger, and allows us to develop by exchanging ideas and experience.

You remember during Occupy when you were posting on this forum with your experience during the day, then during your night there were comrades in Europe who replied with ideas and their own experience (and believe it or not, in some cases these replies were discussed in the ICC in the hope of making them more thoughtful). Then you took those ideas back to Occupy the next day (whether or not you actually used them).

Was that just "sitting around debating with ourselves"? Was it worthless?

As for how much we have distributed in the last few years, all I will say is that it is an awful lot more than any of us could have done on our own.

kollwitz
i have not been here in a

i have not been here in a long time, but i see that the discussion has continued, touching upon several, sometimes disaparte points.  it is becoming a difficult thread to follow and i would really like to see something to the effect of:

1. what points have the different "subtopics" reached in their developments?  for example, what can be said at this point about the SMC?  or about the question posed earlier on as to whether the lack of massive concentration sof workers at th epoint of production has created or will create the objective conditions for the impossibility of the class to make th erevolution? or, is a party necessary for revolutionary minorities to debate their differences?  or, what is the relationship of the class to the party and the party to class consciousness?  or, what is the role of rev. minorities in periods of relative social peace?  etc

2.  are there real disagreements?  if there are, what are they?

3.  are there agreements?  what are they?

4.  what bilan can we make of this discussion, which has been followed by many many people, and why haven't more people participated in it?

a couple of people have posed the question of a day of discussion with invitations to the icc, loren goldner, IP.  i am in support of this, and i think that doing 1-4 above can actually help inform us as to how to proceed in this discussion, including what further texts to read in preparation to this as yet hypothetical day of discussion, how to make a presentation etc.

about 1. above, SMC...not empirically observable...not sure this is how to pose the problems, which posed this way seems to be looking at the end product rather than the process, and, since the process is not observable, then just deny it.  is this the best approach?  not that i am well versed in the scientific method, but it just does not seem to be very helpful.  not sure if this is even a good analogy, but if i thought that i had to develop a fever before believing the signs my body gives me that i may be sick then when i do get the fever i may not even be able to sort out the real causes of the disease.  i remember an earlier post--i think by mhou--which described how is response to events at work agroup of people decided to look for reasons and answers by finding their way into anarchist and marxist literatute.  the poster went on describing how this process could lead the formation of discussion circles (sorry it is not verbatim, this is what i gathered).  could this be similar to the process of SMC that can happen within other workers or groups of them?  they may not all look at marxism and anarchism, but the questioningg, this fundamentally human quest to search for causes, this curiosity and longing, this dissatisfaction with the existing mode of existence....i think it is very important and i do not find overwhelming signs that it has disappeared.  not that social decomposition cannot eventually destroy it--i am thinking about the use of drugs, the false solution to burning questions in belongin gto gangs or state organized forms of destruction like the army, the flight into mysticism etc-- but can we agree at least that we haven't as yet reached that point of no return?  i am also reminded of the 'arab' spring and the occupy movement:  how did it happen that social strata that do not exclusively belong to the working class, and, especially, not to the working class at the point of production, sprang up with methods of organization, the mass assemblies, that are the ones historically sought after by the working class under decadence during the mass strike?  without exaggeration, i know they did not develop extensively, except in the case of the indignados in spain, and before them, in france in 2006 and 2009.  the point is, without linearity but also without going backward, these events did take place.  what accounts for this phenomenon?  in perhpas more 'dignified' ways for the workers in general--those at least that are not just only subjected to mass culture and the crassest ideology of the bourgeoisie, if you asked any such worker if s/he spends any time thinking about the problems of the world and the future, some of us may be surprised at hearing the depth of reflections and concern and creative vision of a different world.  yes, there is no identity between a revolutionary minority and the class, or its 'component parts', in the same way as a liver cell is not the same as the liver itself, but, excuse me comrades, what makes you think that if you can think cerating things about the world, your life, the future, you and only a handful or others are th eonly ones who think about this?

 i would like to also say something about the de-industrialization of the working class in the heartlands of capitalism, and whether this created the objective reality of the impossibility for the revolution.  this is of interest to me because it poses the question of one of the fundamental contradictions of capitalism, whereby living labor is forced out of the process of production by the development of technology.  i read sometimes ago somethin gon the issue of automation, how simple repetitive-motion tasks that were typically performed by sectors of the industrial proletariat and even cleaning staff or assembly-line like distribution centers, are being replaced by robots.  what i read was that in the past such changes resulted eventually in a greater re-absorption of the working class at the new, modernized tasks of production, whereas this has not happened in the recent process of modernization.  in the long run, the process of pauperization of the masses is envisioned.  i think this poses the question, which i do not have answers for, and that was posed before, as to whether the most important mobilizations of the future will no longer happen at the point of production but rather in the streets.  it also poses the question of who the subject of the revolution will be, and how we identify the working class:  will it be ONLY the producer of all wealth deprived of everything that has to do with its production, or also the embodyment of all human suffering?  what role will the SMC play in the consciousness of these pauperized classes?  what role the memory of historic fights?  and its relationship with the still employed part of the working class?  so far, it seems that at least the forms and methods of struggles .... they can be assimilated.

as to the bilan of the discussions, i think i just want to say two thing:

1.  there has been a great deal of openness, a genuine desire for deepening the discussions and really listening to each other and trying to address the preoccupations expressed, IMHO.  i really appreciate this. 

2.  there have also been instances, however, of hostility, or animosity, which i do not understand very well where it comes from.  at one point a question which to me is very valid, about the answer to the question "why is it so difficult to struggle' not having been given from the point of view of a regular 'joe blow' was posed.  i do not think it was posed in a very fraternal way.  i also don;t think this question was answered adequately, and i would like to urge everybody to just try and develop reasonings, arguments, rather than assuming some of us do not have the same concerns, the same aspirations, at heart, and getting at each others' throats.  the sense of fraternity, opennes, and ;culture of debate' should be IMHO part of the general bilan of this very interesting discussion.

sorry for the very long post

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