Monolithic coherence

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Fred
Monolithic coherence
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Somebody on libcom responded to a claim that the ICC had at least COHERENCE going for it, whatever else it lacked, by interpreting "coherence" as meaning the  ICC  is MONOLITHIC.  I think we have to pay some attention to this, and not just dismiss it.  One of the complaints made about the ICC is that it doesn't discuss what its thinking about enough, but tends only to present its  final thoughts, its conclusions, for public consumption. This means a reader can only agree or not agree with what's said  because the process of discussion, and arriving at the conclusions presented is actually over: at least for the ICC.  Thus monolithism appears to be born. 

 

The ICC continually advocates "the culture of debate" but it can be difficult to discuss with someone who has already considered and made up his mind on a subject (albeit temporarily) if you yourself are not clear on what exactly you think about the said subject and are trying to feel your way around.  The other's personal clarity on the subject can appear not as coherence but as dogmatism or a wholesale rejection of your attempts to work out what you think for yourself.  This can cause you to dismiss what the other is saying as "just your opinion", "you think you know everything"  or "you're not always right" and an opportunity for useful expansion of consciousness is thus lost.  I suspect the  ICC  suffers a great deal from this sort of response, especially from younger people, witness some of the posts that turn up elsewhere on the Internet in response to ICC "clarity".  I'm not saying ICC doesn't have clarity just that having it  and appearing to use it like a blunt instrument, which is how it comes across to some in an initial interaction with the ICC, is extremely regrettable.

 

I don't know what the solution is to this difficulty, if it is a difficulty.   And other comrades may think it a trivial issue.  But wasn't Lenin always repeating the slogan "patiently explain and explain patiently".  Perhaps he realized the dilemma for someone who has sorted out what they think and why they think it in trying and wanting to react with others who haven't reached that point yet.  Do you just bombard them with your completed thoughts - like a ready-made - or have to find an educative process through which to lead out and develop an  inherent  consciousness waiting to be unveiled in those who are on the way? Isn't this what Socrates was supposed to be good at? 

 

Wasn't there an example of what I'm trying to talk about recently on this web site?  I should have looked it up before beginning this post..  Comrade jk suddenly came up with a very concise presentation  of the type of "substitutionism" theorized and practiced by Gramsci and his followers.  Demogorgon lauded the concise clarity of the statement.  But to anybody not already in the know, or who hadn't followed the thought processes  and motivation behind what was now being presented, because these processes were not included or elaborated, the marvelous post was like a knock on the head. Now you may say "well, at this point, its your job as a follower of the ICC's  forum to go away and read up on Gramsci. Don't be lazy!"  But perhaps I am lazy.  Perhaps I want the comfort, the luxury of other comrades trying to help me understand.  Perhaps I don't always want to be an isolated individual pursuing knowledge on my own.  Perhaps I'm looking for a solidarity of purpose and a solidarity in the process of coming to consciousness.  After all, we are communist comrades, not bourgeois intellectuals in the pursuit of science. Shouldn't we all be helping each other as best we can? But then you may say: we already do. 

I hope I have explained myself sufficiently well. But have my doubts. 

Alf
Monolithism

Fred, this is a very important question. Thanks for raising it and also for pointing out to me that the libcom thread about Devrim's article has continued - I was no doubt avoiding it, although I have read the article and the initial comments. http://www.libcom.org/library/my-experience-icc-devrim-valerian.  Comrades should read both article and thread, but a theoretically coherent response is needed and not an immediatist one

I need to read the thread properly but from a brief glance just now it clearly poses some major questions about the integrity and 'probity' of the ICC, although by no means all the posts are hostile. jojo's authentic concern about the possible consequences of the demise of the ICC stood out and I think he is probably the only one actively expressing solidarity with the ICC.

jojo says on the thread that he follows our forum. Are you around jo jo? Knock twice to declare your presence, or if you prefer, PM me.  

However, the issue right now is not the article or the thread, but the more fundamental questions about the state of the ICC's mental and physical health, about the 'probity' of the ICC as a proletarian organisation. The danger we call 'monolithism' is certainly integral to this more general question. I think that the ICC has always taken this question very seriously, and I will try to go into this more when I have more time.

 

.   

mhou
The format of the published

The format of the published internal debate on the differences over the nature of the post-war boom and those of polemics/dialogue with other organizations (OpOp on the semi-state; IBRP/ICT on a host of issues) seemingly show a side of organization that is transparent for all members and 'fellow travelers'/sympathizers- new and old. Do you think those are aspects or real life examples that demonstrate 'centralism' doesn't equal 'monolithism'? The open nature of the ICC's press, demonstrated in its archives online or physical back issues, consistently carries articles and letters from sympathizers, critics, other organizations (sometimes anarchist/anarcho-syndicalist groups as well), etc. All of that most likely doesn't apply to 'monolithic' organizations.

Alf
the danger of monolithism

I welcome Mhou's post because it is a good answer to those (like Spikymike on the libcom thread) repeat the term monolithism as a kind of insult or as a pretext for opposing any form of centralised organisation. But this is not to say that the ICC doesn't recognise monolithism as a danger, even if it has always had a very clear principled position against it. This is from the 1982 report on the structure and functioning of the revolutionary organisation:

Contrary to the Bordigist standpoint, the organisation of revolutionaries cannot be 'monolithic'. The existence of disagreements within it is an expression of the fact that it is a living organ which does not have fully formed answers which can be immediately applied to the problems arising in the class. Marxism is neither a dogma nor a catechism. It is the theoretical instrument of a class which through its experience and with a view towards its historic future, advances gradually, through ups and downs, towards a self-awareness which is the indispensable precondition for emancipating itself. As in all human thought, the process whereby proletarian consciousness develops is not a linear or mechanical process but a contradictory and critical one: it necessarily presupposes discussion and the confrontation of arguments. In fact, the famous 'monolithism' or 'invariance' of the Bordigists is a decoy (as can be seen in the positions taken up by the Bordigist organisations and their various sections); either the organisation is completely sclerotic and is no longer affected by the life of the class, or it's not monolithic and its positions are not invariant.

9. While the existence of divergences within the organisation is a sign that it is alive, only by respecting a certain number of rules in the discussion of these divergences can we ensure that such discussion is a real contribution to the strengthening of the organisation and to the improvement of the tasks for which the class has engendered it. We can thus enumerate certain of these rules:

  • having regular meetings of local sections, and putting on the agenda of these meetings the main questions being discussed in the organisation: in no way must this debate be stifled;

  • the widest possible circulation of different contributions within the organisation through the appropriate instruments;

  • consequently, the rejection of secret and bilateral correspondence which, far from allowing debate to be more clear, can only obscure it by giving rise to misunderstanding, distrust and a tendency towards the formation of an organisation within the organisation;

  • respect by the minority for the indispensable organisational discipline (as we saw in the last point);

  • rejection of any disciplinary or administrative measure on the part of the organisation with regard to members who raise disagreements: just as the minority must know how to be a minority inside the organisation, the majority must know how to be a majority, and in particular it must not abuse the fact that its position has become the position of the organisation and annihilate debate in any way, for example, by compelling members of the minority to be spokesmen for positions they don't adhere to;

  • the whole organisation is interested in discussion being as wide-ranging and as clear as possible (even when it deals with divergences of principle which can only lead to an organisational separation): it's up to both the minority and the majority to do all they can (obviously without this paralysing or weakening the tasks of the organisation) to convince each other of the validity of their respective analyses, or at least to allow the greatest possible clarity to emerge on the nature and significance of these disagreements.

To the extent that the debates going on in the organisation generally concern the whole proletariat they should be expressed publicly while respecting the following conditions:

  • that these debates involve general political questions and that they have matured sufficiently for their publication to be a real contribution to the developments of class consciousness;

  • the place given to these debates should not disrupt the general balance of the publications;

  • it's the organisation as a whole which decides on and carries out the publication of such contributions, basing such decisions on criteria which apply to any other article in the press: whether it's clearly written, whether it's of interest to the working class as a whole, etc. We must therefore reject the publication of texts outside of the organs responsible for publications, on the 'private' initiative of a certain number of members of the organisation. Similarly, there is no formal 'right' of anyone in the organisation (individual or tendency) to have a text published if the responsible organs don't feel that it is useful or opportune.https://en.internationalism.org/specialtexts/IR033_functioning.htm

 

However, adhering to a principle in theory is not enough in itself - it is also a question of fighting for its concrete application in a social environment in which submission to authority, superficial and dogmatic thought, trite 'common sense', bullying, and so on and so forth are the normal ideological air we breathe. This is why the history of any proletarian organisation worth its name is a history of constant combat against the penetration of bourgeois ideology, a penetration which can take numerous forms. We have pointed out, for example, that the majority, if not all, the minorities which have split from the ICC, while accusing the ICC of being monolithic, display this deformation in its purest form, because they have been unable to maintain a sustained defence of minority positions.and have split long before the issues under debate were clarified. But we have also recognised that the weaknesses shown by these minorities usually reflect more general weaknesses affecting the ICC (and probably the proletarian political milieu) as a whole. Thus monolithism, the tendency to flee from, avoid, or even censor debate can indeed be dangers facing the entire organisation, affecting both the membership as a whole and the central organs,

 It would be ridiculous to think that a communist organisation could exist within this society and not encounter such problems. The key question is whether it is able to confront them as political questions in their own right.  

radicalchains
Questions

When was the last time the organisation as a whole decided it was in the interest of the working class to publish a minority position?

Can members publish texts or articals at all outside of the ICC?

 

Crisanto
I wonder what really this monolithic 'thing' is

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ICC published the internal debates inside the organization to the whole proletarian milieu and public in general. Are there any organization of the communist left doing this?

Any ICC member can publish his/her opinion in the internal bulletin of the ICC. A minority position always has a place in the internal bulletin. There were times that a minority position became the majority position.

Almost all the ex-militants of ICC accused the latter after they departed of being monolithic. Yet some of them did not even bothered to continue the debate inside the organization because the "majority or the International Congress is not listening to them" instead of fully clarifying the opposing positions. Also, some of them wanted to “resolve the internal debate” outside the organization even before the organization itself clarified the opposing positions.

I wonder what really this monolithic 'thing' is. If the ICC is a monolithic organization, how much more the others? Or is democratism the real antidote to monolithism?

Of course the ICC is not immune to bourgeois ideological pressures from the outside. ICC made many mistakes that it is trying to comprehend and discuss (even debated) in order to fully understand the root-causes so that in the end could be resolved. But so as the other communist-left organizations.

 

Fred
two different questions

There are at least two different questions concerning "monolithism".  One is to do with whether the ICC has an organizational monolithism within itself and the other is to do with why people on libcom and elsewhere find what the ICC publishes to represent a monolithic  (dogmatic?) attitude that they resent and which puts them off trying to relate at all to the communist left which they can then just dismiss without more ado.  It is the latter  type of "monolithism" which concerns me, because it means that various folk on other forums, who ought to be very interested in the communist left, just see it as "dry and dusty" and well...monolithic whatever that means. 

 

This from Alf's post above.  

Quote:
To the extent that the debates going on in the organisation generally concern the whole proletariat they should be expressed publicly while respecting the following conditions:

that these debates involve general political questions and that they have MATURED SUFFICIENTLY for their publication to be a real contribution to the developments of class consciousness;

   It is the "matured sufficiently" concept, as this is deemed necessary to their further dissemination, which could be a contributing factor in the accusation of "monolithism". For if questioning readers of a communist outlook are only presented with "finished" thoughts, and don't know how or why you  arrived at them, they may feel justified that in finding them somewhat indigestible they are also "monolithic" and can be ignored/mocked/rejected-out-of-hand.  This is most unfortunate, for it only serves to alienate  some of the  very comrades who should be attracted to the communist left and its organizations.  And so the maturity of the political questions debated by the organization - a maturity  which permits their  publication - serves also to block their proper appreciation by comrades searching for answers, and, in that sense, don't contribute quite as much to the development of class consciousness as they should.  I don't know whether this idea finds sympathy with other comrades, and I'm definitely not sure what the solution would be. Any ideas?     
jk1921
Doesn't the fact that splits

Doesn't the fact that splits have emerged from the ICC actually sort of show that it isn't monolithic? I mean if it were really monolithic then where would the differences emerge from around which the splits have occurred?

Personally, I think the whole thing is a bit of a non-problem. Anyone who took the time to read the ICC's press carefully could pick out points of disagreements and inconcruences between articles. Nobody in the ICC is told what to think.

I guess though it boils down to what one considers "monolithism." If you think the fact that everyone in the ICC agrees with decadence theory makes it monolithic, then yeah, its monolithic. But if you thought the ICC was monolithic because everyone defends Luxemburgist economics, well, that would be just plain wrong. There are plenty of issues that cause much debate and discussion; look at the recent discussions on science if you need proof. The problem, of course, is that some people think that this means they have to leave the organization, because they can't get others to accept  their view. Who is really practising the monolithism here? If I can't convince the organization to accept what I believe, I must leave? Who is really uncomfortable with a plurality of opinion?

I am sorry that the previous post I made in a different thread, which Fred references above, came like a "knock on the head. But, I think it is just a fact of life that different people have different levels of competence in different subjects, etc. Does that mean we always have to play to the lowest common denominator? Is that what the new generations expect? if you don't speak my language, if I don't immediately understand what you are saying, its your fault and I don't want anything to do with you? What an unfortunate attitude. It reminds me of American tourists who go to Paris and get pissed off when not every Frenchman they meet speaks English. At a certain level, there is a responsibilty on your part to learn, ask questions, etc.

radicalchains
An old thread...

Fred, I touched on some of what you are getting at in an old thread called "On Organisation". Just a brief passage from it:

...The importance the ICC apparently gives to internal discussion and clarification is part of what makes them standout in comparison to other organisations in the country, where orders or ideas get doled out etc etc. However, why is it for the most part kept private and not public? There may be thriving discussion and debate but what does the class or sympathetic elements know of it? I think this is part of what alienates small 'intellectuals/academics' (may not be either of these but seen as such) groups from other workers and the class. i.e we can have our discussions and debates but we won't include you, though we have come to the proletarian position on behalf of the exploited class! To me this flies in the face of the emphasis the ICC puts on knowing and understanding working class history of struggle, theory and general education. I think there is a big contradiction here and I don't really understand it. Why is there no discussion in the press apart from say a pamphlet on the transition to communism? Is it partly for lack of interest from outside the ICC? (Obviously there is now discussion on this forum! But when was there last a letter in a paper?)...

To which Alf replied:

Radical Chains has raised a very crucial question. It is evident that the ICC has not succeeded in making the richness of its 'internal' discussions sufficiently available to the 'external' movement. But our aim has never been to keep these discussions private. We do not see them as something to be kept hidden, only to be revealed when perfect knowledge has been attained and can be offered, as a gift from heaven, to the working class. We could spend a lot of time looking into the real historical origins of the difficulties we have had in achieving this, which are by no means unique to us.  

In any case, things are beginning to change - to some degree because of the internet and all that goes with it, but above all because there is now much more of an 'external' movement that wants to know what our discussions are actually about.

 

Of course, there are still many in the movement who think that our discussions are not interesting at all, but that's another aspect.  

 

The thread may be worth revisiting. https://en.internationalism.org/forum/1056/radicalchains/4491/organisation

 

 

 

 

 

jk1921
Sausage making

Fred wrote:

 It is the "matured sufficiently" concept, as this is deemed necessary to their further dissemination, which could be a contributing factor in the accusation of "monolithism". For if questioning readers of a communist outlook are only presented with "finished" thoughts, and don't know how or why you  arrived at them, they may feel justified that in finding them somewhat indigestible they are also "monolithic" and can be ignored/mocked/rejected-out-of-hand.  This is most unfortunate, for it only serves to alienate  some of the  very comrades who should be attracted to the communist left and its organizations.  And so the maturity of the political questions debated by the organization - a maturity  which permits their  publication - serves also to block their proper appreciation by comrades searching for answers, and, in that sense, don't contribute quite as much to the development of class consciousness as they should.  I don't know whether this idea finds sympathy with other comrades, and I'm definitely not sure what the solution would be. Any ideas?   

If people need to see the sausage being made they could always join an organization and contribute to the actual formation of the finished product. But if everything were open to everyone all the time, there would really be no distinction between member and sympathizer, inside and outside. In short, there would be no organization. Of course, such an approach seems, in many ways, to fit the culture of democratism and informalism promoted by the internet. Hey, what about me? What about my views? Why do we even need articles at all, why don't we just have open brainstorming sessions all the time?

Fred, you once asked why your comment on an article got more views that the actual article. You seemed to express this with some sense of frustration. But does it mean that just because the culture has moved in the direction of informal discussion over reasoned reflection (Twitter, Facebook, etc,) we have to pander to it? Or are our tasks different? You quoted Lenin, "Explain patiently and patiently explain.' Here is another quote from him, "Better fewer, but better." What was he driving at there?

Fred
radical chains quotes Alf as

radical chains quotes Alf as saying. [quote] It is evident that the ICC has not succeeded in making the richness of its 'internal' discussions sufficiently available to the 'external' movement. But our aim has never been to keep these discussions private. We do not see them as something to be kept hidden, only to be revealed when perfect knowledge has been attained and can be offered, as a gift from heaven, to the working class.[quote] 

 

Its the " only to be revealed when perfect knowledge has been attained" bit that concerns me.  Because, unless readers and interested parties know something of the process whereby the "perfect knowledge" was arrived at, they may not be able to respond to it correctly and reach a proper understanding of what's being said.  They may dismiss both it and the organization producing the sausage - sorry I mean political insight - as inedible and undigestible. 

 

I don't want to lose the distinction between member and sympathizer, or lose the organization and the apparently vital distinction between "inside" and "outside" and I don't care about me or my views, I just want the ICC's insights to reach a wider audience - which I think is ready and waiting - and if that means embracing a "culture of democratism and informalism" then I'm all for it.  One of the few things I am fairly sure I think I know is that communism will never be achieved by people being elitist  and pushing ideas in an elitist fashion. 

I think "better fewer but better" means that its preferable to have people who understand the importance of "democratism and informalism" as contributing to the education of communists and the practice of communism itself, rather than thinking  that a high quality bourgeois education and indoctrination into elitist beliefs is the key to moving forward. 

I must also admit a  little resentment to the idea that wanting more folk to appreciate what the ICC and other left communists are saying means "playing to the lowest common denominator"!  After all, isn't it the lowest common denominator of this society which is going to have to make the revolution which alone can free humanity and its vast talents from the oh-so-clever and all-knowing-intellectual bourgeoisie and its lunacies and its death and destruction,  and even save the planet itself? 

 

It isn't finally that  different people have different competences in different subjects which is the problem, for of course they do. But isn't this to fetishize bourgeois ideas of what constitutes a clever person?  However I don't really place too much value myself on the various bourgeois "subjects"  that life is  wrongly  compartmentalized into  under their rule.  Which doesn't mean I want a motor mechanic to perform brain surgery on me.  But at the present juncture of history assisting the emergence of a growing class consciousness must be our major task, and essentially that's all I'm trying to say. 

baboon
organisation

I agree with Alf that this specific attack on the ICC on libcom should be responded to in a considered and  centralised manner from the basis of programmatic positions and practice. I tend also to agree with jk in his response to Fred. There's no such thing really as "finished articles". These are, or should be, contributions to further debate and clarification and their basis, quite often in the ICC, and maybe more so recently, have been formulated on the basis of questions or positions directly or indirectly raised from sources outside of the ICC. This discussion forum is a clear example of where questions or positions expressed have given rise, through discussion, have given rise to articles which can represent a point of discussion/clarification. Of necessity a revolutionary organisation has to be distinct from the informalism of a free-for-all, but I do think that Fred raises some important questions here.

radicalchains
Why is it an "attack on the

Why is it an "attack on the ICC"? Rightly or wrongly they are simply criticisms. An attack would be perhaps crashing the website, firebombing an office or assault of some members wouldn't it?

I think the organisation itself is seen by members as almost holy, something which must be protected from all detractors and perceived threats. It's not difficult to see why this is the case re: the historical tasks of the working class to free humanity, the planet etc and that this organisation is said to have sprung from this oppressed and exploited class. There is more than enough praise on this forum without needing to quote from texts about how vital and precious the organisation is and the many threats that it and the working class face, bourgeois ideology, left of capital etc

The discipline, formal nature and procedure within the organisation only reinforces the idea of "attacks" on the holy organisation of the oppressed class and historic tasks. Therefore an "attack" on the ICC is really an attack on the working class...and therefore the attacker a counter-revolutionary? I'm just thinking aloud but if this was the case isn't this absurd like Stalinism? (someone could twist this and say I was saying the ICC are Stalinists, then I too would be an "attacker")

But hey what do I know. This formal, disciplined nature etc is foreign to me and probably many other sympathizers and searching elements to use ICC speak. It's not only that we lack experience of explicit class struggle we lack just as much organisational experience. We have little or nothing to go on. We are disciplined, surveilled and forced in many ways in this society why would we freely choose to seemingly advance these things even more by joining a political organisation?

And perhaps that is part of the reason for the relative popularity of anarchism among younger people? (not that I'm that young anymore!)

Perhaps when things are really reaching a desperate situation none of this will matter and all concerns will fly out of the window.

 

 

baboon
Criticism

Yes, criticism is a better way of putting it and it needs a measured response.

jk1921
Attack

radicalchains wrote:

Why is it an "attack on the ICC"? Rightly or wrongly they are simply criticisms. An attack would be perhaps crashing the website, firebombing an office or assault of some members wouldn't it?

 

I'd say it is an attack. Its one thing to criticize the ICC's analysis of a particular event or situation (in fact, this is encouraged), but the charge of "monolithism" carries with it some pretty clear connotations--either the ICC is a cult or its Stalinist or some such leftist racket. You can't carry on a discussion with those kinds of organizations. "Monolithic" = outside the pale of cooperation. Of course, someone did, in fact, just crash the ICC's website.

radicalchains wrote:

I think the organisation itself is seen by members as almost holy, something which must be protected from all detractors and perceived threats. It's not difficult to see why this is the case re: the historical tasks of the working class to free humanity, the planet etc and that this organisation is said to have sprung from this oppressed and exploited class. There is more than enough praise on this forum without needing to quote from texts about how vital and precious the organisation is and the many threats that it and the working class face, bourgeois ideology, left of capital etc

I don't think "holy" is the right word, but I do agree that the organization (if not this specific organization) is seen as an "historical acquisition" that must be protected. Therefore, it is better to stay in the organization and fight for your ideas rather than leave and thus weaken something that is very hard to re-build.

radicalchains wrote:

The discipline, formal nature and procedure within the organisation only reinforces the idea of "attacks" on the holy organisation of the oppressed class and historic tasks. Therefore an "attack" on the ICC is really an attack on the working class...and therefore the attacker a counter-revolutionary? I'm just thinking aloud but if this was the case isn't this absurd like Stalinism? (someone could twist this and say I was saying the ICC are Stalinists, then I too would be an "attacker")

Not everyone who attacks the ICC is by nature part of the ruling class, although some clearly are.

radicalchains wrote:

But hey what do I know. This formal, disciplined nature etc is foreign to me and probably many other sympathizers and searching elements to use ICC speak. It's not only that we lack experience of explicit class struggle we lack just as much organisational experience. We have little or nothing to go on. We are disciplined, surveilled and forced in many ways in this society why would we freely choose to seemingly advance these things even more by joining a political organisation?

And perhaps that is part of the reason for the relative popularity of anarchism among younger people? (not that I'm that young anymore!)

Perhaps when things are really reaching a desperate situation none of this will matter and all concerns will fly out of the window.

I think you hit the nail on the head here. its much easier to accept the libertarian and often individualist principles of anarchism anarcho-communism, libertarian communism or whatever, than it is to believe that one must submit oneself to the discipline of an organization. Of course, the idea that this makes the organization "monolithic" sees to come from a totally warped sense of what it means to be in an organization. Nobody loses their personality. This seems to come from a suspicion that organizations are by their very nature "leftist." They all do what the Trots do. But, as you say, how would you know what it is like to be in the ICC without some direct experience? The only thing that many have to go on is the word of the disgruntled ex-members who post their grievances all over the Internet. Of course, there dosesn't seem much the organizaton can do about that as attempting to defend itself only seems to confirm people's suspicions.

In the end, I am not sure there is a whole lot that can be done about this. I appreciate Fred's concerns, but it seems there will always be these suspicions and fears until, as Radical Chains alludes to, the objective situation moves people to confront them and hopefully get past them.

radicalchains
I was going to reply to

I was going to reply to Devrim's article on Libcom and ask how he attempted to bring his concerns, criticisms and arguements to light in the ICC but he said he had no interest in replying to any comments so I didn't bother. 

mhou
Quote:I don't think "holy" is

Quote:
I don't think "holy" is the right word, but I do agree that the organization (if not this specific organization) is seen as an "historical acquisition" that must be protected. Therefore, it is better to stay in the organization and fight for your ideas rather than leave and thus weaken something that is very hard to re-build.

The story of the communist left after the 1920's is a long list of difficulties in keeping the 'red thread' alive at all; assassinations (and attempted assassinations), snitches and political 'outings' of left communist militants, secret police (fascist, GPU); concentration camps and labor camps (comrades 'disappeared' from Moscow; one of the leading militants of the Belgian fraction dying in Buchenwald)- 'our' collective political predecessors experienced a lot to transmit their political legacy, even when reduced to smaller numbers than likely exist today making up the revolutionary camp. Standing on their shoulders seemingly requires firm commitment and a level of purpose that meets with derision from those who don't view 'politics' that way (averse to any level of organizational discipline- as Stalinist, cult-like, whatever).

jk1921
Agreed

mhou wrote:

Quote:
I don't think "holy" is the right word, but I do agree that the organization (if not this specific organization) is seen as an "historical acquisition" that must be protected. Therefore, it is better to stay in the organization and fight for your ideas rather than leave and thus weaken something that is very hard to re-build.

The story of the communist left after the 1920's is a long list of difficulties in keeping the 'red thread' alive at all; assassinations (and attempted assassinations), snitches and political 'outings' of left communist militants, secret police (fascist, GPU); concentration camps and labor camps (comrades 'disappeared' from Moscow; one of the leading militants of the Belgian fraction dying in Buchenwald)- 'our' collective political predecessors experienced a lot to transmit their political legacy, even when reduced to smaller numbers than likely exist today making up the revolutionary camp. Standing on their shoulders seemingly requires firm commitment and a level of purpose that meets with derision from those who don't view 'politics' that way (averse to any level of organizational discipline- as Stalinist, cult-like, whatever).

 

Agreed. The question is why so many view politics in a way that is adverse to organization?

Alf
I agree it's necessary to

I agree it's necessary to distinguish criticism from attacks, but there are one or two clear examples of attacks on that thread, eg, Spikymike saying:

"Ex-member McIver titled one of his misives on the ICC back in 1999 'escaping a paranoid cult' but for at the time sound reasons I think, other than those you are refering to".

So calling the ICC a paranoid cult is (or was) justified. Such 'criticsms' make any real discussion impossible. It's like someone you are trying to engage with just shouting back, "you're crazy". And we know how much currency such slurs have in the 'milieu'. 

mhou
Quote:Agreed. The question is

Quote:
Agreed. The question is why so many view politics in a way that is adverse to organization?

I think your characterization is a good one (comparing that attitude to 'The Ugly American')- I can't find the reference, but if memory serves there was a text archived from the early years (late 70s) of the ICC that described the culture of being a communist militant as a 'broken link', that the internal culture which animated the young Communist Party and then the left fractions had been all but lost by the time of the post-1968 era. My best guess is that the transformation of communications technology over the last 30 years to where we are today has not created an environment conducive to transmitting that organizational culture. How does one adequately recruit outside of the tangible presence of an organization, sometimes geographically disparate from other members (all possible now due to the internet)- and still communicate and demonstrate that internal culture effectively? Edit- or, how do you explain to someone with experience in a group like the SPUSA or IWW 'yea, you can't join by clicking a link online and sign up for automatic dues deductions, or join then do absolutely anything you want in the name of the organization even if it is counter to the positions you said you agreed with' - the qualitative difference seems like a barrier in and of itself given what is expected from a lot of organizations that have 'socialist' or 'communist' in their name. The novelty of it compared to nearly every other nominal worker's or revolutionary organization, even those that have a mode of functioning reminiscent of cadre (the US SWP for example, which is by most descriptions 'cult-like') is difficult to explain (rather than demonstrate?).

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So calling the ICC a paranoid cult is (or was) justified. Such 'criticsms' make any real discussion impossible. It's like someone you are trying to engage with just shouting back, "you're crazy". And we know how much currency such slurs have in the 'milieu'.

There seems to be a disconnect over context- look at all of the changes in the class struggle, relationship between workers, composition of production, etc. from the 1980's-2000's; a laundry list of defensive and defeated struggles, reorganization of production, new dense populations of workers in what was a century ago the periphery, etc. A number of organizations, small and large, disappearing or falling apart, within broadly defined 'left communism'. It's not surprising that there were problems within and between revolutionary organizations. Not recognizing that these problems took place in the context of a terrible time for both the class and its communist minorities, saying things like 'the ICC was awful back then ergo it's awful right now', puts a whole lot of stock in the will power of individual communists; that at all times communists are always in control of things despite what is happening in society. It's like looking back now and saying 'The minority of Italian communists who went to fight in Spain in the 30's and split from the fraction should have been allowed to join the militias and force this opinion on the majority- therefore the fraction organization was flawed for having such a split, flawed for having such disagreements, flawed for not letting un-disciplined former members back in after the fact, and the form of organization that is the fraction is now and forever wrong'.